William Evans.

The Friends' library : comprising journals, doctrinal treatises, and other writings of members of the religious Society of Friends (Volume 1) online

. (page 71 of 105)
Online LibraryWilliam EvansThe Friends' library : comprising journals, doctrinal treatises, and other writings of members of the religious Society of Friends (Volume 1) → online text (page 71 of 105)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

farther reported to have meeting-houses, where
the most part of the day is employed in wor-
shipping God : Their religion consisted not
chiefly in reading the letter, disputing about
it, or accepting things in literal constructions,
but in the things declared of, the substance
itself; bringing things nearer to the mind, and
pressing into a more hidden and heavenly
sense ; making religion to consist in the tem-
perance and sanctity of the mind, and not in
formal bodily worship, so much now-a-days in
repute, fitter to please comedians than Chris-
tians. Such was the practice of those times :
But now the case is altered ; people will be
Christians, and have their worldly-mindedness
too: But though God's kingdom suffer violence
by such, yet shall they never enter : The life
of Christ and his followers hath in all ages
been another thing; and there is but one way,
one guide, one rest ; all which are pure and

2. But if any, notwithstanding our many
sober reasons and numerous testimonies from

Scripture, or the example or experience of re-
ligious, worldly and profane, living and dying
men, at home and abroad, of the gi'eatest note,
fame and learning, in the whole world, shall
yet remain lovers and imitators of the folly
and the vanity condemned ; if the cries and
groans, sighs, and tears, and complaints, and
mournful wishes of so many reputed great,
nay, some sober men — " O that I had more
time ! O that I might live a year longer, I
would live a stricter life ! — O that I were a
poor Jean Urick ! — All is vanity in this world :
— O my poor soul, whither wilt thou go 1 — O
that I had the time misspent in vain recrea-
tions! — A serious life is above all;" and such-
like ; if, I say, this by no means can prevail,
but if yet they shall proceed to folly, and fol-
low the vain world, what greater evidence can
they give of their heady resolution to go on
impiously ; to despise God ; to disobey his
precepts ; to deny Christ ; to scorn, not to bear
his cross ; to forsake the examples of his ser-
vants ; to give the lie to the dying, serious say-
ings and consent of all ages; to harden them-
selves against the checks of conscience ; to
befool and sport away their precious time, and
poor immortal souls to wo and misery ? In
short, it is plainly to discover you neither have
reason to justify yourselves, nor yet enough
of modesty to blush at your own folly ; but,
as those who have lost the sense of one and
the other, go on to " eat and drink, and rise
up to play." In vain therefore is it for you
to pretend to fear the God of heaven, whose
minds serve the god of the pleasure of this
world. In vain it is to say, you believe in
Christ, who receive not his self-denying doc-
trine : and to no better purpose will all you
do,' avail. If he who had loved " God and
his neighbour, and kept the commandments,
from his youth," was excluded from being a
disciple, "because he sold not all and followed
Jesus ;" with what confidence can you call
yourselves Christians, who have neither kept
the commandments, nor yet forsaken anything
to be so? And if it was a bar betwixt him
and the eternal life he sought, that notwith-
standing all his other virtues, love to money,
and his external possessions, " could not be
parted with ;" what shall be your end, who
cannot deny yourselves many less things, but
are daily multiplying your inventions, to please
your fleshly appetites? Certainly, much more
impossible is it to forsake the greater. Christ
tried his love, in bidding him forsake all, be-
cause he knew, for all his brag, that his mind
was rivetted therein ; not that if he had enjoy-
ed his possessions with Christian indifl^erency,
they might not have been continued. But
what then is their doom, whose hearts are so
fixed in the vanities of the world, that they



will rather make them Christian, than not to
be Christians in the use of them ? But such
a Christian this young man might have been,
who had moi'e to say for himself than the
strictest Pharisee living dare pretend to ; yet
" he went away sorrowful from Jesus." Should
I ask you, if Nicodemus did well to come by
night, and be ashamed of the great Messiah of
the world ? And if he was not ignorant when
Christ spake to him of the new birth? I know
you would answer me, " He did very ill, and
was very ignorant." But, stay awhile, the
beam is in your own eyes. You are ready,
doubtless to condemn him and the young man,
for not doing what you not only refuse to do
yourselves, but laugh at others for doing.
Nay, had such passages not been written, and
were it not for the reverence some pretend for
the Scriptures, they would both be as stupid as
Nicodemus in their answers to such heavenly
matters, and ready to call it canting to speak
so, as it is frequent for you, when we speak
to the same effect, though not the same words :
just as the Jews, at what time they called God
their Father, despised his Son; and when he
spake of sublime and heavenly mysteries, some
cried, "He has a devil;" others, "He is mad :"
and most of them, " These are hard sayings,
who can bear them ?"

3. To you all, who sport yourselves after
the manner of the world, let me say, that you
are of those who profess you know God, but
in works deny him ; living in those pleasures
which slay the Just in yourselves. For though
you talk of believing, it is no more than taking
it for granted that there is a God, a Christ,
Scriptures, &c., without farther concerning
yourselves to prove the verity thereof, to your-
selves or others, by a strict and holy conver-
sation : which slight way of believing is but
a light and careless way of ridding yourselves
of farther examination ; and rather throwing
them off with an inconsiderate granting of
them to be so, than giving yourselves the
trouble of making better inquiry, leaving that
to your priests, ofttimes more ignorant, and
not less vain and idle, than yourselves, which
is so far from a Gospel faith, that it is the
least respect you can show to God, Scriptures,
&c., and next to a denial of all.

But if you have hitherto laid aside all tem-
perance, reason and shame, at least be intreat-
ed to resume them now in a matter of this
importance, and whereon no less concernment
rests, than your temporal and eternal happi-
ness. Oh! retire, retire; observe the reproofs
of instruction in your own minds : that which
begets sadness in the midst of mirth, which
cannot solace itself, nor be contented below
immortality ; which calls often to an account
at nights, mornings, and other seasons ; which

lets you see the vanity, the folly, the end and
misery of these things ; This is the Just and
Holy Spirit of the Almighty within you ; hear
him, obey him, converse with them who are
led by him ; and let the glories of another
world be eyed, and the heavenly recompense
of reward kept in sight. Admit not the
thoughts of former follies to revive : but be
steady, and continually excercised by his
Grace, " to deny ungodliness and worldly
lusts, and to live soberly, righteously and
godly in this present world." For this is the
true and heavenly nature of Christianity, To
be so awakened and guided by the Spirit and
Grace of God, as to leave the sins and vani-
ties of the world, and to have the affections
regenerated, the mind reformed, and the whole
man so baptized into purity and faithfulness
towards God and man, as to act with rever-
ence, justice and mercy. To care for very
kw things ; to be content with what you have ;
to use all as if you used them not ; and to be
so disentangled from the lusts, pleasures, pro-
fits, and honours of the world, as to have the
mind raised to things above, the heai't and af-
fections fixed there : that in all things you
may glorify God, and be as lights set on an
hill, whose shining examples may conduce to
the happiness of others, who beholding such
good work, may be converted, and glorify
God the Father of lights, in whom you all
would be eternally blessed.

4. But if the impenitence of any is so great,
their pui'suit of folly so earnest, that, notwith-
standing what has been thus seriously offered
to reclaim them, they are resolved to take their
course, and not to be at leisure for more divine
things, I have this farther to leave with them
from the Almighty, who first called me to this
work ; That tribulation, anguish and sorrow
shall make their dying beds ; indignation and
wrath shall wind up their days ; and trouble
and vexation of spirit shall be the miserable
fruits which they shall reap, as the reward of
all their wretched folly and rebellion ! Be not
deceived, God will not be mocked : It is irre-
versibly decreed ; " Whatsoever is sown here,
shall be reaped hereafter." And just is the
Almighty, to make good his determinations
upon such, who instead of employing the time
given them, to " work out their salvation with
fear and trembling," have spent it in the plea-
sures of the flesh, which perisheth; as if their
heaven wei'e here. Nor can it seem unrea-
sonable, since he hath thus long waited with
remission of sins and eternal life in his hand,
to distribute to those who repent; that if such
will not, to recompense so great obstinacy
and love of this perishing woi'ld, with ever-
lasting tribulation.

5. But T am otherwise persuaded of many;



yea, I am assured the mercies of the everlast-
ing God have been so extended to many, that
this will prove an effectual call to bring them
out of the ways and customs of this corrupted
and corrupting world ; and a means for estab-
lishing such, who hitherto have been unfaithful
to what they have been already convinced of.
And you, my friends, whose minds have re-
ceived the alarm, whose hearts have truly
heard the voice of one crying in the wilder-
ness, where you have been straying from the
Lord, repent, repent ! to you, in the name of
the great and living God I speak, I cry,
Come away, come away ; ah ! what do you
do there? Why are you yet behind? That is
not your rest : it is polluted with the sins and
vanities of a perishing world. Gird up your
loins : one and all, eye your light, Christ
Jesus, the same yesterday ; to-day, and for
ever ; who hath enlightened every one : Fol-
low him ; he will lead you to the city of God,
that has foundations, into which the wicked
cannot enter.

6. Mind not the difficulties of your march.
Great and good things were never enterprised
and accomplished without difficulty ; which
does but render their enjoyment more plea-
sant and glorious in the end. Let the holy
men and women of old be your examples.
Remember good old Abraham, the excellency
of whose faith is set out by his obedience to
the voice of God, in forsaking his father's
house, kindred and country. And Moses,
who might in probability have been made a
king, by faith in God, leaves Egypt's glory
and Pharaoh's favours, and chooses rather to
sojourn and travel with the despised, afflicted,
tormented Israelites in the wilderness, than to
enjoy the pleasures of that great court for a
season; esteeming Christ's reproaches greater
riches than Egypt's treasures. But, above all,
how great was the reproach, how many the
sufferings, how bitter the mockings, which
Jesus suffered at the hands of his enemies ?
Yet with what patience, meekness, forgiveness
and constancy, did he in all his actions demean
himself towards his bloody persecutors, " de-
spising the shame, and enduring the cross, for
the joy that was set before him ? He hath left
us this glorious example, that we should follow
his steps ;" which hath in almost every age
been imitated by some. The apostles sealed
their testimonies with their blood, and multi-
tudes followed the example of their constancy ;
esteeming it the greatest honour, as it was
always attended with the most signal demon-
strations of the Divine presence. How mem-
orable was that of Origen ? " If my father
were weeping upon his knees before me, and
my mother hanging about my neck behind
me, and all my brethren, sisters and kinsfolk


lamenting on every side, to retain me in the
life and practice of the world, I would fling my
mother to the ground, run over my father, de-
spise all my kindred, and tread them under my
feet, that I might run to Christ." Yet it is not
unknown, how dutiful and tender he was in
those relations. Not much unlike to this, was
that noble and known instance of latter times,
in Galeacius Caracciolus, marquis of Vico,
who abandoned his friends, estate and country,
resolutely saying with Moses, " That he would
rather suffer afflictions with the first reformers
and Protestants, than enjoy his former plenty,
favours and pleasures with his old religion."
Nor is it possible for any now to quit the
world and live a serious godly life in Christ,
without the like suffering and persecution.
There are among us also some, who have
suffered the displeasure of their most dear
and intimate relations and friends, and all
those troubles, disgraces and reproaches, which
are accustomed to attend such as decline the
honours, pleasures, ambition and preferments
of the world, and that choose to live an hum-
ble, serious and self-denying life before the
Lord. But they are very unequal to the joy
and recompense that follow. For though there
be no affliction that is not grievous for the
present, yet what says the man of God ? " It
works a far more exceeding weight of glory
in the end." This has been both the faith and
experience of those, who in all ages, have
trusted in God, who have not fainted by the
way ; but, enduring, have obtained an eternal

Wherefore, since we are compassed about
with so " great a cloud of .witnesses, let us lay
aside every weight and burden, and the sin
and vanities which so easily beset us ;" and
with a constant, holy patience run our race,
having our eyes fixed upon Jesus, the author
and finisher of our faith, not minding what is
behind ; so shall we be delivered from every
snare. No temptations shall gain us, no
frowns shall scare us from Christ's cross and
our blessed self-denial : And honour, glory,
immortality, and a crown of eternal life, shall
recompense all our sufferings in the end.

O Lord God! Thou lovest holiness, and
purity is thy delight in the earth. Wherefore,
I pray thee, make an end of sin, and finish
transgression, and bring in thy everlasting
righteousness to the souls of men, that thy
poor creation may be delivered from the bon-
dage it groans under, and the earth enjoy her
sabbath again : That thy great name may be
lifl:ed up in all nations, and thy salvation I'e-
nowned to the ends of the world. For thine
is the kingdom, the power, and the glory for
ever. Amen.










In perusing so interesting a narrative as is
presented in the account of the Christian
labours of this worthy minister of the Gos-
pel, the inquiry may arise, why it has been
permitted to lie so long unprepared for the
public eye? In reply to this it may be re-
marked, that some of his papers were for a
long time mislaid, and when collected, they
were placed in the hands of several persons
to examine and arrange, neither of whom
made an essay for accomplishing the task.
They were voluminous, and a variety of en-
gagements ai'ising out of the peculiar state
into which the religious Society of Friends
here, has been thrown within the last fifteen
years, seemed ihen to preclude the practica-
bility of undertaking the work. But from the
conviction that there was much in the papers
to interest and instruct the seeking, religious
mind, I was induced to transcribe those parts,
and to endeavour to arrange the whole so as
to form a regular account of his life and
labours, as far as materials could be obtained.
In the course of his travels, he was much
more particular in the memoranda he made,
than has been customary for Friends in his
station ; giving a cursory description of the
country, its produce, the value of it, and the
habits of the people where he travelled. This
peculiarity is accounted for by the fact, that
his notes were made for the information and
gratification of his near connections ; and it
would seem, without any prospect of their
publication. Some of those details, which may
be found in other works, have been abridged,
though there is more of this description still
retained than is common in most journals of
Friends, but which will probably be interest

ing to many readers, and render the work
more acceptable to them.

I was intimately acquainted with William
Savery, and esteemed him as a brother be-
loved. His affable disposition, his catholic
spirit, and his truly Christian principles, en-
deared him to those who knew him, and pecu-
liarly qualified him as an instrument in the
Divine hand to draw others into the love of
truth, and into an obedience to the convictions
of the Holy Spirit. His ministry was gene-
rally more of a doctrinal nature, than that of
many other Friends, accompanied with a fer-
vent engagement that his audience might be
brought to an heartfelt experience of the un-
speakable love of God, in sending his dear Son,
our Lord Jesus Christ, into the world to save
sinners ; of the efficacy of his propitiatory
sacrifice and the sanctifying power of his
Holy Spirit, who hath by his own blood ob-
tained eternal redemption for all that come
unto Him in true faith : at times declaring
with much solemnity and reverence, that he
would rather lose all he had in the world, than
be robbed of his faith in the divinity of Christ.

His submission to the power of divine love
in his own heart, by which he was brought
out of sin and corruption, and his indefatiga-
ble devotion to the cause of Christ, present an
instructive example, calculated to invite old
and young to diligence and faithfulness in the
path of manifested duty, that they may become
lights in the world, and through Divine mercy,
be partakers of that salvation which is only
obtained through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Jonathan Evans.

Philadelphia, seventh month, 1837.



Testimony of the Monthly Meeting of Friends
of Philadelphia for the Northern District,
concerning William Savery.

It appears that he was born in the city of
Philadelphia, in the year 1750, and educated
in the principles of the Christian religion as
professed by us ; and was placed with a Friend
in the country, to learn the trade of a tanner.
On his return to the city in 1771, being natu-
rally of a lively and social disposition, he
soon joined with those who, being themselves
the votaries of folly and vanity, encouraged
him in a departure from the simplicity of
truth ; which, aided by his own propensities,
drew him into many deviations from the reli-
gious principles of his education. In this situa-
tion he was arrested by the powerfully convic-
tive evidence of the Spirit of truth; and in the
year 1778, at a meeting held at Merion after
an interment, was much affected, and last-
ing impressions were made on his mind by
that solemn scene, and the testimonies then

In the autumn of that year, he married in
Chester county, and settled within the limits
of our Monthly Meeting — spent much of his
time in retirement at home, and in the thirtieth
year of his age, first opened his mouth in a
public testimony ; and dwelling inward with
those gifts and qualifications with which he
was favoured, he became an able advocate for
the cause in which he had embarked ; and
by faithful attention thereto, his labours were
blessed to the benefit of numbers, especially
amongst the youth, to many of whom he was
an eminent instrument of good.

He was engaged to travel much on this
Continent in the service of Truth, being seve-
ral months in each year, from 1789 to 1795
inclusive, absent from home on Gospel er-
rands; and by accounts received, his labours
of love were to the satisfaction of those among
whom his lot was cast.

Having had his mind drawn into near sym-
pathy with the Friends at Pyrmont in Ger-
many — with the entire unity of his brethren
at home, on the 18th of the fifth month,
1796, he embarked for Liverpool, and thence
soon proceeded to London, and then to Pyr-
mont. After paying an acceptable visit to
the comfoi't and strengthening of Friends
there, and in some other parts of Germany,
he went to Nismes in the South of France,
visiting a small company of such as professed
with us, in that neighbourhood, much to his
own comfort and peace. — Then returning to
England, he visited many of the principal
towns and places in that nation, Ireland and
Scotland, and had large public meetings with
those not of our Society. Having thus dis-

charged his religious duty in those parts, he
returned to his family and friends in the tenth
month, 1798.

He laboured diligently in his temporal busi-
ness for the support of his family, as well as
for the relief of the poor and distressed, to
whose wants his liberal mind was ever ready
to administer according to his ability ; yet this
did not interrupt his steady attention to other
religious duties, being diligent in the atten-
dance of meetings, and in various services
to which he was called and appointed, for
the benefit of society and the promotion of
the cause of truth and righteousness.

In 1802, the neighbourhood in which he
lived was visited with a pestilential disease,
which carried many ofi' in a short time. Not
being easy to leave this scene of woe and
misery, he voluntarily resigned himself to visit
those in distress, both Friends and others, with
advice and counsel, in the love of the Gospel,
to the great consolation and comfort of many.
A like affliction befalling that and other parts
of the city and neighbourhood, in the follow-
ing year, he was again engaged in the same
manner, freely devoting himself, both night
and day, to relieve the distresses of others,
with which his feeling mind was deeply af-

In the early part of his sickness he was
borne up above complaining, or admitting that
he was much out of health, until the disease,
which proved to be a dropsy, had made such
progress, that it was visible to his friends. He
continued to attend to his outward concerns
and religious duties; and in some of the meet-
ings which he last attended, was led to open
a prospect that his time here would not be
long ; but, in an animating view of a blessed
immortality, signified it was no matter how
short, provided this were attained.

He was remarkable for punctuality and up-
rightness in his dealings ; and not long before
his decease, said to a friend who oflen visited
him, " It is necessary to look to our outward
concerns, there are so many repi'oachful fail-
ures ;" and appeared desirous once more to
get to meeting, that he might have an oppor-
tunity to warn such of the elderly part of so-
ciety who had got into the earth, and of the
youth who had got into the air. " I thought,
said he, I was once strong for the work, but
now I am a child, brought back to my horn-
book, and have nothing to trust to but the
mercy of God through Christ my Saviour."
Thus reverently depending, he was preserved
to the last in great resignation and composure
of mind.

He was mostly confined from the 26th of
the third month, except freq-uently riding out
for the benefit of air and exercise, till the 18th



day of the sixth month, 1804, m the evening
of which he was considerably worse, contin-
ued ill through the night, and on the 19th in
the morning, about six o'clock, closed his useful

life in the fifty-fourth year of his ago. On the
following day, his corpse, attended by a great
number of his friends and neighbours, was
interred in Friends' burial-ground in this city.


He was born in the city of Philadelphia, in
the year 1750 ; received an education in the
principles of the Christian religion, and was
placed with a Friend in the country to learn
the tanning business. Returning to the city
after the expiration of his apprenticeship, he
associated with those, who, like himself, were
much inclined to vanity and folly; and seeking
the enjoyment of ease and pleasure in a course
of life far remote from true happiness, he be-
came less susceptible of tender impressions,
and gradually much estranged to the voice

Online LibraryWilliam EvansThe Friends' library : comprising journals, doctrinal treatises, and other writings of members of the religious Society of Friends (Volume 1) → online text (page 71 of 105)