William Evans.

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

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and heavenly care of the great Shepherd of
the sheep. In this situation it pleased Divine
Goodness, by the powerful reproofs of his
Spirit, so to break in upon his wandering
mind, as frequently to bring him to an awful
sense of the bondage of corruption wherein
he was held, to some glimpse of the peace
and comfort consequent upon a life of piety
and virtue, and the necessity of labouring to
become a participant in that redemption which,
through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,
is graciously extended to the sincere penitent
of every name and nation.

In a review of the benighted condition iii
which he had been involved, and of the exten-
sion of Divine mercy in plucking him as a
brand out of the burning, he says, —

" I may acknowledge, that notwithstanding
my revolt and turning aside from the paths
of purity and peace, the Lord has been gra-
ciously near me all my life long, and has
watched over me as a tender Father for good,
smitten me by his Spirit when I have been rebel-
ling against his holy law written in my heart,
making merry over the Divine witness there ;
and has reached to me and tendered me in the
midst of mirth and jollity. He often followed
me to my chamber, and upon my pillow has
drawn tears of sorrow and contrition from me,
when none have been privy to it but his All-
seeing Eye: so that my days of joy and laugh-
ter have often produced nights of sorrow and
weeping. Still I continued sinning and re-
penting and turning the grace of God into
wantonness for a number of years, being at
times favoured to see in part, the beauty there

is in holiness, but fearful of incurring the scoff
and scorn of the world's deluded votaries
should I turn my back upon it. Activity of
spirits, loose discourse and noisy mirth, were
my sad refuge to drown serious reflection : yet
the worm that never dieth, a wounded con-
science, often embittered my sweetest draughts
of pleasure. In this state I was inclined some-
times in a serious hour to read a pious author,
which, I think, by the assistance of the gra-
cious Helper, was made serviceable to me,
being roused to more serious thought than
ever before.

" I now saw the iniquity of mispending my
precious time, and refrained from frequenting
taverns and places of diversion. I struggled
hard to break myself off" from my fondness
for much company, seeing the snare there was
in it ; being apt to relate adventures and tales
to provoke mirth, and often for the embellish-
ment of them to strain beyond the truth — I
was much concerned to watch over myself in
this, which is both dishonourable and sinful.
Oh the folly of thus mispending our precious
time ! how watchful ! how careful ought we
to be of our words and actions ; always re-
membering, that the sacred eye of an all-seeing
God pervades the most secret chambers we can
retire to, and His ear is ever open to hear
both the evil and the good. Yea, many of the
present day have known, when the terrors of
the Lord have overtaken them for sin, and
they have had to taste of the spirit of judgment
and of burning, that every secret thing has
been brought to light, and all the hidden
works of darkness have been made manifest ;
that even for idle words they have had to
render an account.

" When we have long wandered, and got far
and wide from the pure path, in which the
Lord's ransomed children have to walk, though
it may seem to have been in small things, yet
they make close trying work for us ; and
many deep baptisms we have to pass through,
before we can witness our sins to be Aviped
away and cast, as it were, into the depth of
the sea. When this is experienced, such have
indeed cause to ackno\vledge with great hu-



.mility of soul, that it is of the mere mercy
of Him whose mercies are, (blessed be his
great name,) over all his works. Some, who
with myself, have been rescued as from the
very jaws of the devourer, can praise his holy
name with songs of gratitude and joy, know-
ing, that in the midst of judgment he does still
remember mercy."

In the year 1778, attending a meeting at
Merion, held after an interment, he was on
that solemn occasion, deeply impressed with
serious thoughtfulness. Being married that
year, he settled in business in Philadelphia.
The state of his mind about this time is de-
scribed by himself nearly as follows :

" T had been employed in bringing myself
to a more circumspect life, being pretty care-
ful in my conduct and conversation, and just
in my dealings among men, and was willing
to believe I had attained to great matters, and
that I might now take up my rest ; for by
my own strength, abilities and contrivance,
I could not only keep up a fair upright cha-
racter among men, and make my life happy
and myself respected ; but also, (Oh, the de-
ceitful workings of satan ! Oh, the mystery
of iniquity !) that it would at the close of time
here, gain me an inheritance in the regions
of purity and peace, among all those that are
sanctified. But, how can I sufficiently adore
my great and good Master, for his continued
regard and care over me, in that he did not
suffer me to remain long in this state of delu-
sion and error. He disturbed my false rest,
and made me at times exceedingly uneasy
with it, and gave me at length to see, that
notwithstanding my regularity of behaviour
and all my boasted attainments, I fell far
short of that purity, which all the vessels in
the Lord's house must come to ; and that I
was yet under the law, which cannot make
the comers thereunto perfect, not having pass-
ed under the flaming sword, nor felt the day
of the Lord to be come, which burns as an oven.

" This brought great distress and anxiety
of mind over me, and sometimes I was rea-
dy to doubt the truth of these divine revela-
tions ; and was exceedingly desirous to find,
if possible, an easier way to peace and hap-
piness, than by submitting myself to the
cross, of which I had as yet experienced
but little. I was much tossed and distressed,
as one who was in a dark and howling wilder-
ness, where I could see no way out, either to
the right hand or to the left. But at length,
the Lord, who indeed watched over me con-
y tinually for good, blessed and praised for ever
be his name, brought me into some degree of
composure. The strong impression then made
on my mind, its application to the state I was
in, and the instruction it conveyed to me.

left me no room to doubt its being divinely
intended for my good. My eyes became more
clearly opened to discern where I was, and
that all the righteousness of my own putting
on, was as filthy rags, of which I must be
stript, before I could experience a putting on
of that purity and righteousness, which is the
fine linen of the saints. In great distress and
anxiety I saw nothing for me to lean upon,
but to dwell alone and keep my eye open and
my spiritual ear attentive to Him, who is the
unchangeable High Priest of his people, and
with whom are all the treasures of wisdom
and knowledge, who knows the stales of all
his children, and when and where he leads
them, graciously affords ability to follow, to
the praise of his ever adorable name.

"It pleased Him to lead me as into the wil-
derness, and to give me a sight of my for-
mer disobedience and folly. Oh ! the bit-
terness and disti'ess that covered me when I
was alone or in meetings. I experienced but
few pleasant draughts of his love, my meat
was gall and wormwood, and my drink of the
bitter waters of Marah. This was not unfelt
by some sympathising Friends, who were anx-
ious that I might know an establishment upon
the Rock immoveable. Thus I continued, but
was still preserved desirous to know the Mas-
ter's will, and in measure made willing to
obey, though under the cross ; yet the way to
the kingdom was for some months much dark-
ened, and a sense of my sinful conduct often
brought me almost to despair of ever finding
forgiveness with an offended God : and my
burden in meetings was almost insupportable.

" Oh ! these were times of baptism never to be
forgotten in mutability. One evening, sitting
in my house alone, great horror and trouble
seized me — I wept aloud, and after a short
time went to bed ; but my distress was so
great, that it almost overcame me, and I
thought I tasted of the misery of fallen spi-
rits. Not being able to contain myself, I arose
and walked the room. My spirits at length be-
ing nearly exhausted, I threw myself on the'
bed again, but had not lain long, before I grew
cold like one near death, a clammy sweat
covered me, and I was to appearance stupid.
In this state I was, through adorable mercy,
released from the horror that before sur-
rounded me, and was comforted with a sight
and feeling of a state of inexpressible happi-
ness and joy ; and when so far come to my-
self as to have utterance given me, I cried
aloud on this wise, Oh ! now I know that my
Redeemer liveth.

" Oh ! the sweetness I then felt, in being fa-
voured with such an evidence of the goodness
and mercy of God : It far surpassed every-
thing I had ever before experienced, and was



such that I hope to bear it in remembrance as
long as I have a being here. Teai's of joy
ran freely down my cheeks, insomuch that I
could not restrain them nor scarcely utter a
word for a considerable time; and my dear
partner, who shared with me in my affliction,
was also made a partaker with me in my ex-
ceeding great joy. Blessed for ever be the
name of the Lord, though he sees meet for our
refinement to try us even to an hair's breadth,
yet in our utmost extremity his all-powerful
arm is made bare for our deliverance."

Being thus, in infinite mercy, brought to a
living experience of the unfathomable love of
God towards his poor fallen, helpless creatures,
and the extension of his power for their I'edemp-
tion, through our Lord Jesus Christ, he was
concerned to abide under his purifying bap-
tism, that he might really know the commu-
nion of saints, and have fellowship with the
Father and with his Son Jesus Christ, Hav-
ing felt the terrors of the Lord for sin, it led
to close watchfulness and fear, lest the enemy,
through his subtlety, should draw his mind
away from a steady subjection to the cross ;
and when disengaged from his outward avo-
cations, he spent much of his time at home in

In the year 1779, he accompanied a Friend
on a visit to the meetings of Friends in Vir-
ginia and Carolina, and as far as appears,
it was about this time that he was engaged to
speak a few words in meetings, by way of
Gospel ministry. To a mind sincerely de-
sirous of advancing in the way and work of
salvation, this journey must have furnished
many instructive lessons which, carefully trea-
sured up, would be lastingly beneficial. Some
circumstances seem to have made such deep
impression on his feelings, as occasioned him
to notice them with much concern. A Friend
had been drafted to serve in the army, but
being conscientiously scrupulous against bear-
ing arms, could not comply with the requisi-
tion. He was therefore tried by a court mar-
tial, sentenced to be whipt, and received forty
lashes on his bare back with a whip of nine
cords. Although he had no friend to sympa-
thize with or to encourage him in a faithful
testimony to the peaceable kingdom and go-
vernment of Christ, he meekly and patiently
suffered his flesh to be thus barbarously man-
gled in the presence of some thousands of
persons. William says, " Great endeavours
were afterwards used, both by threats and
persuasions, to induce him to comply with
some service in the military establishment,
such as waiting upon the sick, or in some
other employ that they might take hold of so
as to answer their purpose : but remaining
steadily fixed, he could have no freedom to

Vol. I.— No. 9.

countenance their measures, let the conse-
quence be what it might. I think it is wor-
thy of remark, that his prudent wife appeared
to be more concerned on account of an evil
report that her husband had been brought to
a compliance, than for all his suffering, or all
they were worth in the world. After the time
had expired, for which he had been drafted,
he returned home. Here, I may mention the
reasons offered by a certain Major Roberts in
the American army, why the Friends ought
not to suffer; he said, the Quakers had not de-
ceived them, they had borne their testimony
from the beginning, and were never known to
bear arms on any occasion ; they also paid
taxes, which were three-fold more than their
proportion ; those treble taxes were in conse-
quence of their not uniting in warlike mea-
sures. It may also not be improper to take
notice of a remark made by a great woman
of the church of England, that she observed
some of the Quakei's' children had departed
from the plainness of their profession and got
about half-way into the fashions of the world,
which rendered them ridiculous in the eyes of
others and a reproach to their own Society."

His appearances in the ministry being ap-
proved, he was acknowledged as a minister
in the year 1781 ; and in 1785, with the
concurrence of his Monthly Meeting visited
the Yearly Meeting held in Baltimore, and
some other meetings in Maryland. In 1787,
he attended the Yearly Meetings of New York
and Rhode Island, and visited several other
meetings within the states of New York and
New England; and in 1789, was again engaged
in paying a religious visit to some meetings in
Maryland and Pennsylvania.

In 1791, the Monthly Meeting uniting with
his prospect of religious duty to visit the city
of Charleston, South Carolina, and other places
of the Southern States, he took his passage in
a vessel bound for Charleston in the fourth
month, and arrived there on the 22nd.

He says, " 24th being first-day, was at
two meetings : they were attended by more
people not professing with us, than Friends,
who do not appear to be more than fifteen
members in the place ; but the meeting-house
was too small to answer my concern of seeing
the inhabitants. Second-day being a time gene-
rally allotted for recreation and amusement,
the negroes appeared in their best trim and
many of them cheerful, yet the gi'eat numbers
of them, and the reflections consequent on
their abject condition, gave everything a mel-
ancholy tinge with me. Appointed a meeting
to be held in the Methodist meeting-house in
the evening of the 26th. The house was
filled, and it was said that several hundreds
could not get in. Some fundamental truths



were opened, showing that the work of righte-
ousness is peace, and the effect thereof, quiet-
ness and assurance for ever. The Lord was
pleased to favour with abiUty to my humbling
admiration ; the meeting was still and solid,
and I went to my lodgings in peace.

" Colonel Laurens having obtained the privi-
lege of the Baptist meeting-house, I agreed to
have a meeting there in the evening of the first
of fifth month. It being first-day, I was at
Friends' meeting in the morning, which was
large, that in the evening was also large and
satisfactory. Left the city and got to T.
Lewis's the 5th, about fifty-four miles. Here
are about seven families, who have built a small
meeting-house, being convinced mostly with-
out instrumental means ; they meet in the man-
ner of Friends twice a week, and appear to be
an innocent people. Our landlord has freed
ten negroes, several of whom cost fifty guineas
each ; he and his wife are united in this, that
they never found peace of mind until they had
so done. On our road we met between thirty
and forty negroes of both sexes almost naked,
some of them lame and decrepit, travelling to
Ashley bridge, a considerable distance off; there
to be put up and sold at vendue. This made our
hearts sad and caused the reflection, certainly
there is a righteous and omniscient Judge that
commiserates the poor and oppressed, and takes
cognizance of the actions of hard hearted and
merciless oppressors, and by terrible things in
righteousness will sooner or later plead the
cause of the afflicted. It is sorrowful, that be-
cause judgment against an evil work is not spee-
dily executed, the hearts of men are set to do evil.

" Rode upwards of one hundred miles and
got to Bush-river meeting the 8th ; appointed
one to be held at four o'clock in the afternoon,
which was large, being attended by many pro-

" The 9th, had a meeting at Rocky spring;
many Baptists and others attending, it was
very large, and through mercy strength was
given to labour, but I fear little good was done.
Proceeded to Cane creek and had a meeting;
though the people appeared very raw, yet it
was to pretty good satisfaction. The next
meeting was at Paget's creek, a variety of re-
ligious professors were present, and near the
close the people were much tendered. Had
meetings at Raybor's creek, Mud-lick and
Alhvood, and on the 15th was at Cambridge
or Ninety-six. Had a meeting in the Court
house with a mixed multitude, it was large
and thought to be open and satisfactory. In
the afternoon had another meeting in a large
unfinished building ; many attended and we
thought it was well we were there. Got to
Wrightsborough in Georgia, and attended their
week-day meeting on the 18th. The neigh-

bours being invited, it was a large gathering
and ended well.

" The 19th, had a meeting at Menden-
hall's : a large number of Methodists and
Baptists attended. Two women fell on their
knees, and trembled, and shook, and prayed,
and exhorted. I could scarcely account for
such an extraordinary appearance, as they
continued in these agitations sometime after
meeting broke up. Several wept and most of
the people appeared serious. I stept in among
them again and advised the women to stillness ;
and then thought I had a more favourable op-
portunity to speak to the people than before ;
upon the whole I felt easy when it was over.
As we were riding through the woods on the
20th, the road being narrow, the iron of the
swingle-tree breaking, it fell on the mare's
legs and set her to running and kicking in a
frightful manner. I expected nothing but to
be dashed against the trees every moment, for
I had not power to stop her, nor any possi-
bility of jumping out, without imminent danger;
but through the singular interposition of divine
Providence, who has watched over me with
the tenderness of a father all my life, the
creature suddenly stopped and trembled ex-
ceedingly, when all my efforts were in vain.
A few yards further might in all probability
have terminated the scene, and I was accord-
ingly endeavouring to be collected in my mind.
Such a marvellous escape was greatly to my
humiliation, and presented an impressive lesson
to me. What shall I render to thee O Lord,
for all thy unmerited mercies, and to what end
hast thou so often been gracious to me, but
that I might more fervently seek and serve
thee the remainder of my days. Lord grant
me strength so to do !

" The 22nd being first-day, had a meeting
at Wrightsborough : the people of different
professions and ranks came in great numbers ;
it was thought to be a solid, tendering time ;
but not feeling quite easy, I appointed another
at four o'clock in the afternoon, the people
continuing in the woods. This was truly a re-
lieving time, and we thought we had never
witnessed so much brokenness throughout :
they were loath to part with us, and many
tears were shed on both sides. I endeavoured
as soon as possible to retreat, but they stopped
the sulkey frequently, and seemed reluctant to
let us go. Accompaniedjjy several Friends,
we passed on to Augusta, and proposed a
meeting at four o'clock in the afternoon of
next day ; but the people being thoughtless
and dissipated, were so taken up with their
diversion, that we did not obtain the company
of more than twenty. We proposed another
at ten o'clock, in the forenoon of the following
day : As they can scarcely tolerate us on ac-



count of our abhorrence of slavery, this was
truly a trying place to lodge in another night.
Near the time appointed, the bell was rung,
and about one hundred collected, many of them
appeared to be people of some note, and being
favoured with utterance, I cleared my mind,
and before we parted, gave them a charge to
be more cautious of discouraging disinterested
religious visits in future.

" On the 28th, we got to Savanna. The
next day being first-day, the parson came and
offered his meeting-house for a meeting at five
o'clock in the evening, which was large ; se-
veral of the clergy, and many people of note
attended ; they appeared to be total strangers
to us, and were at first light and airy, but
became more serious, and were mostly very
attentive. The Lord was near, and I trust was
mouth and wisdom. I left them easy and com-
forted in mind, being glad I gave up to go there,
though in the cross. Crossed Savanna river,

and lodged at Blunt's, who is a hard

hearted slave-holder. One of his lads, about
fourteen, coming in from the field at dark,
was ordered to go and milk the cows ; and
falling asleep through weariness, the master
called out and ordered him a flogging. I
asked him what he meant by a flogging. He
replied, the way we serve them here, is, we
cut their backs till they are raw all over, and
then salt them. Upon this, my feelings were
roused, I told him that was too bad, and queried
if it were possible ; he replied it was, with
many curses upon the blacks. It disturbed
us much, but I hoped his orders would not be
obeyed. We went to supper and this unfeel-
ing wretch craved a blessing, which I con-
sidered to be equally abhorrent to the Divine
Being, as his curses.

" 31st. Rose in the morning, and whilst at
the door musing, I heard some one begging
for mercy, and also the lashes of a whip.
Not knowing whence the sound came, I ran,
and presently found the poor boy tied up to a
post, his toes scarcely touching the ground,
and a negro whipper, with five or six hazel
rods lying by him. He had already cut him
in an unmerciful manner, and the blood ran
to his heels. I stept in between them, and
ordered him untied immediately, which with
some reluctance and astonishment was done.
Returning to the house, I saw the landlord,
who then showed himself in his true colours,
the most abominably wicked man I ever met
with, full of horrid execrations and threaten-
ings upon all the Northern people ; but I did
not spare him, which occasioned a by-stander
to express with an oath that I should be
' popped over.'

" We left them, distressed in mind, and
having a lonesome wood of twelve miles to

pass through, were in full expectation of their
way-laying or coming after us, to put their
wicked threats in execution ; but the Lord re-
strained them. This was a day of heaviness
and sorrowful reflection, and the next house
we stopped at we found the same wicked spirit.
We rode through many rice swamps, where
the blacks are very numerous, great droves of
these poor slaves working up to the middle
in water, men and women nearly naked: a
peck of corn is their miserable subsistence for
a week. A gloomy sadness covered them, so
as scarcely to admit of the interchange of a
sentiment. O Christianity and humanity, how
are ye disgraced ! Where will such astonish-
ing horrible conduct end ?

" Sixth month 2nd, got to Charleston. On
first-day, the 5th, attended Friends' meeting in
the morning, and had a public meeting in the
evening at the Baptist meeting-house, which
was large and a relieving time to my mind.*

"The 23d was at Cane creek, North Caro-
lina ; it being their week-day meeting. It was
pretty large, many came to it directly out of
their harvest fields, and our good Master was
with us. Had meetings at several places to a
good degree of satisfaction, and got to Peters-
burg, in Virginia, the 2nd of seventh month.
On first-day, the 3d, had a public meeting at
four o'clock in the afternoon, which was very
large, the people of other religious denomina-
tions attending, the house could not contain
them all ; but it ended well."*

In the year 1792, he visited the meetings
of Friends in Virginia, attended their Yearly
Meeting, and appears to have been favoured
with strength to fulfil the service required of
him, with peace to his own mind.

The condition of the Indian natives in this
country had for some years engaged the at-
tention of the Yearly Meeting of Philadelphia,
and its representative body, the Meeting for
Sufferings ; and in the recollection of the

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 72 of 105)