William Evans.

The Friends' library: comprising journals, doctrinal treatieses, & other writings of members of the religious Society of Freinds online

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and he leaving but little of this world to bring
us up, though my parents always had as much
as kept them above contempt, and nobody lost
by them ; I found myself under a necessity to
work hard for my own support, the help of
my mother, and education of my brothers,
more especially as my only sister died soon

Being leA on a grazing farm, part of
which was tilled, we did well as to the things
of this world, yet I cannot well omit mention-
ing one thing which became a great exercise
to me, which was thus : My mother married
one who was zealous for the Presbytery, and
being much against it, I showed my dislike to
the marriage, and told my mother, I was
afraid that she had too much an eye to what
he had, for he was counted rich as to this
world; but if she thought to augment our
portion in so marrying, the hand of the Lord
would be against her, and a blasting or mil-
dew would come upon even that which we
had got through industry and hard labour,
and what the Lord had intended to bless to us,
if we kept faithful to the truth, and contented
ourselves with our present condition. My
mother confessed, that as to the worldly en-
joyments, it had not been better with her than
now. I must write with great caution; she
was my mother, and a tender mother over
me, loath to offend me, and had promised, as
far as she well durst, not to marry with any
one with whom I was not satisfied. Of their
procedure in courtship, and marriage, from this
time I was entirely ignorant, until it was ac-
complished. But when my poor mother was
married, her cry was, " My son, how shall I
ever be able to look him in the face any more,
it will be such a trouble to him ! ho that hath
not at any time disobliged me — but if I bid
him go, he ran ; and if I bid him do any
thing, he did it with all his might;" or to that
eflTect, as several told me who heard her. She
being married, what we had was mixed with

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my fatber-io-law's goods; my mother died first,
and our father married again, made his will,
and dying, leA me five shillings for all my part,
which was of right to descend from my own
parents upon me. I gave his executors a re-
ceipt in full, and there was an end of all, ex-
cept some small matter given to my youngest
brother, for the rest of my brothers and sis-
ters were dead. As nearly as I remember,
this marriage was in the eighteenth year of
my age, so that what I foresaw about the blast
and mildew, came to pass.

To return to my account concerning the
troubles that attended me while I was in my
father-in-law and mother's house ,* aAer mar-
riage, we, and what we had, were removed to
his house, except part of the stock left in the
ground. I foresaw that I was likely to come
to a great trial, and was brought very low
about the marriage, and exercise of mind con-
cerning my own condition, having many con-
flicts of spirit, so that I was almost in despair.
Had not the Lord, in whom I believed, risen
in his power, and rebuked the adversary of
niy soul, I had been overthrown, and swal-
lowed up in the floods of temptation that were
cast out of the mouth of the dragon afler me,
in this day of great trouble and travail ; but
the God of love and pity saw me, and helped
me in my distress, in an acceptable time. He
that heard poor Ishmael when he cried from
under the shrub, and gave relief to him and
his mother, who had gone from Abraham's
house, saw me in this great strait. When I
came to my father's house, he being a man
much given to family duties, saying grace, &c.
before and afler meat, I could comply with
none of them, except I felt evidently the Spi-
rit of Truth to attend therein, and open the
heart and mouth into such duties. The first
day I came to the house, being called to the
table with all or most of the family, I thought,
** Is it now conoe to this t I must either dis-
please my heavenly or earthly father :"> but,
ohl the awfulness, or deep exercise, which
was upon my spirit, and strong cries that
ascended to the Lord for help and preserva-
tion that I might not ofifend him. My father-
in-law sat with his hat partly ofl^ with his eyes
fixed on me, as mine were on him in much
fear; so we continued as long or longer than
he used to be in saying grace, as they call it,
but said nothing that we heard. At length he
put on his hat again, to the wonder of the fk-
mily : neither did he then, nor ever afler, ask
me why I did not put ofif my hat ; neither did
be perform that ceremony all the time I stayed
witti him, which was above one year: thus
the Lord helped me, renowned be his great
name now and for ever. My father might
seem for age, spirit, and understanding, t6 be

Vol. IV.~No. 2.

much more than a match for me, a poor
shrub ; but the Lord, who caused the pillar of
cloud to be bright and give light to Israel, and
brought darkness upon the Egyptians, and
fought against them, and for Israel, I believe
smote my poor father, that he could not rise
up against the power with which the Lord
helped me; for it was not mine but the Lord's
doing, to him be given the attributes of praise,
salvation, and strength, now and for ever. I
saw clearly, that there could not be any true
and acceptable worship performed to God, but
what was in the Spirit, and in the Truth ; nei*
ther could any pray aright, but as the Spirit
helped them, which teacheth how to pray, and
what to pray for, and rightly prepares the
mind, and guides it in the performance of
every service which the Lord calls for from
his children.

I found my father-in-law was much dis*
pleased with ray going to meetings, yet I
could not see what way to appease his dis»
pleasure, except in being very diligent in his
business, which I was,, rather beyond my
ability, working very hard. ' It is almost in-
credible what my poor little weak body went
through in those days, but all would not gain
his love, for the longer I staid with him, the
more his love declined from me ; although I
told him he need not be uneasy about my
wages, for I would leave that to himself. I
could not see what be could have against me,
except my going to meetings; however that
was all he alleged. When his former strata-
gems would not do, he offered me a horse to
ride on, if I would go with him to his place
of worship. I met with many a snib and sour
countenance from him, in my return on foot
from meetings, although as seasonably as my
body was capable of performing. On the
first-day mornings my father commonly sent
me into the fields a mile or two on foot, and
as far upon a common to look at beasts,
hbrses and sheep, I thought with a design to
weary and make me incapable of going to
meetings ; all which I bore patiently, neither
ever said^ that I remember, this is hard usage:
after this, to the great grief of my poor mo-
ther, I had to go two, three, four, ^ve, and
sometimes six miles, to Friends' meetings.
Afler I had walked fast, and ran sometimes
with my shoes under my arms for want of
time, I have seen many Friends weep, and
could not forbear when they saw me come
into the meeting very hot and in a great sweat,
they being in part sensible of the hard task I
had to undergo.

There is one thing somewhat remarkable,

which was thus: One first-day morning, when

I was about going to the meeting, my father

said, if I would ride upon such a young maro,


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as he mentioned, I might ; she was one of the
greatest of ten or twelve horses that he kept,
about four years old, and had not been ridden
before. I thought his design was more to hin-
der me of the meeting than any good to me,
or any expectation of getting his mare rightly
broken ; but I accepted his ofier, only asking
how I might catch her. Having got help to
answer that, she being abroad, I put on the
bridle, and. mounted the topping beast, and
upon her first resistance, down she came ; for
that was my way : and if the first or second
fall did not, the third mostly cured them from
striving to throw the rider. I commonly fell
upon my feet, and endeavoured so to free my
legs that she might not fall upon theni, and
then sprang up on her back while down, and
made her rise with me ; so away we went,,
and came in due time to the meeting. I rode
to meetings two or three times, and my father
asked me, if the mare did not carry me so-
berly : I replied, she did ; then I must have
her no more, he would make her his saddle-
mare; so I tfK)k to my feet again, except some
other such turn came. The Liord's mighty

Eower bore me up, and he gave me as it were
inds' feet, and enabled me to go through these
exercises, and to bear the burthen in the heat
of the day of my trials, inwardly and out*
wardly, which were many and various.

Now the last stratagem my father used to
hinder my going to meetings was thus: He
took me in his arms in great show of kind-
ness, saying, If I would m as a son to him,
I should find he would be a father to me, ex-
pressing something about his having no near
kindred, and more to the same effect he said
to my brother Daniel, who was an innocent,
wise, and clean spirited lad. I replied to him,
If in thus making me thy son, thou intends to
hinder me from going to meetings, or to oblige
me to go with thee to the Presbyterian meet-
ing, or any thing that is against my con-
science, I cannot upon this bottom be thy son ;
and, for the same reasons, I refused to be his
hired servant, although he offered to hire me
and give me wages. Now when he saw that
neither frowns, threatenings, hardships, nor
great promises of kindness could prevail with
me, he told me bluntly and roughly, I should
stay no longer in his house. I innocently
answered, I could not help it if it must be so,
as aU I could do would not give him content,
without Jiurting my conscience, and the peace
of my mind, which I valued above all muta-
ble things of this world. My poor mother
heard my pleading with him, and how I
offered to do the best for him I was capable
of by night or day, as I always had done, if
he would be easy, and let me have his coun-
tenance. But this was the sentence : No, I

should not stay in the house. That troubled
my mother so, that I was forced to leave my
father, and go to endeavour to mitigate her
great trouble by telling her, that if I was but
faithful, the Lord, I believed, would take care
of me that I should not want ; and the more
fully to discharge myself, I reminded her, that
as she had entered into marriage covenants
with her husband, she should endeavour to
perform them, and in every thing faithfully to
discharge herself as a wife ought to do to a
husband, and leave me and all, and cleave to
him, and to make her life as easy as she could.
I also told her, never to send me any thing
that my father knew not of, for I was not free
to receive it ; although what we had was in
his handy and all sunk there, as I mentioned

I write this partly, that all who marry, may
take special heed that it be done with great
caution, and under due consideration, and the
Lord sought to in it, that it may be done in
his counsel, and not only nominally, but truly
in his fear, and then no doubt that it will be
well with both husband and wife. Being
equally yoked, such wiH not only be true
helpers in all things belonging to this life, but
more especially in things appertaining to the
world that is to come, and the good of the im-
mortal soul, which to the faithful people of
the Lord is of great value. Oh! how happily
and peaceably do such live together in the
Lord, as they keep to that which thus joined
them : there is more in it, both as to the pa-
rents and their posterity, than it is to be feared
many think of, as is apparent in the many
forward and unequal marriages of which I
have made observation.

One remarkable passage occurs, which hap-
pened thus: My father having been at the
Presbyterian meeting, and come home, he, as
his manner was, put me or my brother upon
reading the priest's text, which had been that
day in Daniel, concerning his being cast into
the den of lions, for not regarding the king's
decree, but on the contrary, he prayed to the
God of heaven with his windows open toward
Jerusalem, afler his wonted manner. My fa-
ther made his observations as my brother
read, and very much magnified Daniel, and
said, the Spirit of God was in him, but that
there were none such as him in our days. I
owned that he was indeed an extraordinary
man, but in that there were none endowed
with a measure of the same spirit in any de-
gree, I dissented from him, and gave my fa-
ther a brief account of the many sufl^ngs of
our Friends, some of which were past, and
some then under suflerinss for the word of
God and the testimony 61 Jesus, which they
bore for him, and especially the great ^flbr-

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ings of our dear Friends in New Bngland, viz:
hard imprisonments, cruel whippings, cutting
off ears, and banishment if they returned into
New England any more. I showed him like-
wise, how they put to death Marmaduke Ste-
▼eoson, William Robinson, William Leddra
and Mbry Dyer, for no other cause but la-
houring to turn people from darkness to light,
and from the power of satan to the living
power of €rod, to his light, grace and Holy
Spirit in their hearts, and lalx>uring to bring
the people from persecution, pride, and every
evil work and way, to live a self-denying,
humble life, a life agreeably to the Christianity
they professed. This was the service they
were called to, and so deeply suffered for:
from whence I inferred, there was somewhat
of the Spirit of Grod in man in these days as
there was in Daniel, and many more formerly,
which helped and bore them up in their great
sufferings. My father confessed, it was true
some sufiered for good, and some for evil; and
said, he had now lived to the age of about
sixty-five years, and although he heard us
telling of a principle, or light within, yet he
knew not what it was. I replied very meek-
ly, If he would hear me, I would tell him what
it was ; which I did in the following words :
When at any time thou hast been under a
temptation to put forth thy hand to steal, or
to lie for advantage, or by provocation to
swear, or any evil work or word, hast thou
not found something in thee, that hath showed
thee thou oughtest not to say or do so, which,
if thou hast taken heed to, and not said or
done wrong, hast thou not found ereat peace
and inward comfort in thy mind ? But if thou
hast said or done wrong, hast thou not found
great disquietness and trouble of mind ? This
is the inward principle, light, or grace, that
God hath placed in man to help and direct
him, which we the people of God called Qua-
kers, do hold agreeably to the Holy Scriptui>es.
My father smote his hands together, and con-
fessed it was true.

There was one thing worthy of notice, which
may be duly considered by all who read or
hear it. When I mentioned Marmaduke Ste-
venson, that good man, and great sufferer in
the cause of Christ, my mother said, it was
true; for she lived a servant with Edward
Wilberfbss, an honest Quaker in Skipton,
where Marmaduke Stevenson was a day la-
bourer, about the time he had his call to go to
New England. [See the account of New
England judged, not by man as man, but by
the Spirit of the living God, written by George
Bishop.] If I remember right she said, He
was such a man as she never before knew,
for his very countenance was a terror to them,
and he had a great check upon all the family;

if at any time any of the servants had been
wild, or any way out of the truth, if they did
but see him, or hear him coming, they were
struck with fear, and were all quiet and still :
if one of the children came into the house
where he laboured, and he would not have it
to come, these were his words, Go thy way ;
or, Go home, lest I whip thee ; and they were
subject and quiet. This account, I thought
had some reach upon my father, however, it
much affected my mind. Oh! that we the
professors of the same holy Truth, may so
live in it, as to reign over every wrong thing
in ourselves and in others, especially in our

Some little time before the nfiarriage of my
mother, I was brought into the public work ot
the ministry, concerning which I had many
reasonings, being young, scarcely eighteen
years old, and naturally of a stammering
tongue, which I could not overcome ; al-
though I used what endeavours lay in my
power as a man, considering my years and
education, all would not do until the Truth
helped me. But after my many conflicts,
troubles and temptations, the worst I ever met
with, and the most piercing sorrow I had been
in since I came to the knowledge of the bless-
ed Truth was, when through reasonings, diso-
bedience, and an unwillingness to comply
with the Lord's requirings, he in displeasure
took away from me the comfort of his holy
presence for several months together. Oh!
the tribulations I met with in this condition I
No tongue is able to express, nor any creature
to conceive the depth of the heart-piercing
sorrows I was in. I thought my state was as
bad as Jonah's, for surely if there be a hell
upon earth, I was in it. What greater hell
can be here to a quickened soul, and an en-
lightened understanding, who hath tasted of
the goodness of God, and in degree of the
powers of the world to come, than to be de-
prived thereof, and think they are fallen away
from this state? I could scarcely believe I
should ever have repentance granted to me,
or be restored to the love and favour of God,
when I found that river of life dried up, as to
me, which did before, not only make me, but
even the whole city of Grod truly glad. Being
lefl under an apprehension of the Lord's dis-
pleasure, and in part a partaker of the terrors
of his wrath, oh I I thought surely the very
mountains and the hills, were not sufficient, if
they could have been put into the balance, to
have weighed against my troubles and afflic-
tions they were so great. But as the Lord
by his judgments had brought me in a good
degree from the vice and vanity of this world,
now by his judgments he made me willing to
give up to answer his requirings in part^ and

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in my obedience to him I began to feel some
comfort of love and fellowship of the Spirit of
the Lord in myself, and in his people, who
were partakers of the like fellowship.

Now 1 return to the matter about my being
turned out of my father's house, which I
mentioned before, but was willing to keep
this solemn account entire, with desires it may
be a caution to al!> in whom the Lord is at
work in the same manner, not to reason or
gainsay as I did, but to give up freely and
cheerfully to the will of God. When I saw
I must turn out, I thought it expedient to ac-
quaint some worthy Friends with it, lest any
undue reflections should be cast upon the
Truth, or Friends, or myself, that if so, these
Friends might be able to contradict them. So
1 acquainted Sebastian Ellethorp, and that
worthy minister of the Gospel, Benjamin Pad-
ley, two of the chief Friends in Ellington
Monthly Meeting 9 they came to my father's
house, and inquired the reasons why I went
away; if my father had any thing against me
concerning the business he employed me in ;
and whether I was not faithful and diligent in
all his affairs he sent me about : he confessed
I was; and thought none could exceed me.
They said, Well then, what is the reason of
that misunderstanding which is between thee
and thy son-in-law ? Is it about his going to
meetings? When they understood his reasons,
which it was not hard to do, they expressed

fiity towards me that I could have no more
iberty ; and they thought, as I was so dili-
gent in his business, if he would give me a
uttle more liberty to go to meetings, it would
be more encouragement to me. At which he
took oflence, gave the good men rough Ian-

fuage, and asked, what they had to do with
im and his son ; and bid them go home, and
mind their own business; which they were
troubled at, especially for my sake, and won-
dered how I had lived with him so long ; for
he said in short, that there was no abiding for
me there. But Sebastian Ellethorp told me,
which was mightily to my comfort, that my
father had nothing against me, save concern*
ing the law of my God. This is the sense,
if not the words, of these wise and good men,
which passed between them and my father, as
they expressed them to me ; for I was not
there when they were together.

Notwithstanding I pleaded with my father
to let me stay until L could hear of a place,
he would not, though I was scarcely fit for
service, being almost like an anatomy, as the
saying is, so that most who knew me, said, I
would pine away in a consumption ; but turn
out I must, and did, though I was weak, poor
and low in body, mind, pocket and clothes ;
for I think I had but twelve pence in my

pocket, and very ordinary clothes upon my
back. Thus I took my solemn leave of the
family, with my heart full, but I kept inward
to the Lord, and under Truth's government.
Many tears were shed, especially by my poor
mother, when I left them ; my father said lit^
tie, but appeared like one struck with wonder,
to see so much love manifested towards me by
the family, and so much wbhing that I might
not go away. I came out upon the great com-
mon afore- mentioned, where I had had many
solitary walks, but none like this, for this rea*
SOU) that I knew not where to go. I then
thought of Abraham, who was called out of
Ur in the land of the Chaldeans, as it is briefly
mentioned by Stephen ; but this was the dif^
ference between us, he was called, I was forced
out. Although I had many friends, I could
not be free to go to them, unless I had known
they had business for me, being not of a for*
ward, but rather backward and shy disposi*
tion. As I was walking upon the common*
the sense of my weak condition, not knowing
whither to go, nor where to lay my head,
came over me to tbatxiegree, that it appeared
to me as though my way was hedged up on
every side, inwardly and outwardly. I thought
myself like a pelican in the wilderness, or as
an owl in the desert, there appearing to me
scarcely a man in all the earth in my condi-
tion, every wa^ considered; and in the sense
and deep consideration of my present wilder-
ness state, I felt myself under a great oppres-
sion of spirit, and my heart seemed full, like
a bottle that wanted vent.- I looked round
about me to see that none were near to see my
tears, nor hear my cries, and in the very an-
guish and bitterness of my soul I poured forth
my complaints, cries and tears, to the Judge
of all the earth, who spoke to me and com-
forted me in this my deplorable state, which
was worse than Jacob's when he lay upon the
ground, and had a stone for his pillow. He
had his near kindred to go to, who he might
expect would receive him> gladly, I had none
to go to but such as rather reviled me, and
gave me hard language ; but the Lord said
unto me, as if a. man had spoke. Seek first
the kingdom of heaven, and the righteousness
thereof, and all these things that thou standest
in need of shall be given unto thee. I then
desired he would be pleased to show me the
place I should go to; and the Lord opened my
way, and showed me the house I should go to,
and abide in for a time. I said. Good is the
word of the Lord : I believed, and it was a
great means to stay my mind, and settle it in
the Truth, with full purpose of heart to follow
the Lord and obey his requiring, according
to the knowledge and ability given me ; yet
reasonings attended me. Soon afler I came to

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theFrieDd^s house io South-CIiff, viz: William
Alloa by name, I bound myself to him to
learo bis trade of a weaver, and after I was
bound, I found this good man loved me, and I
loved him to the day of his death ; he often
said, he was blessed for my sake, and all that
appertained to him; for he was very poor,
but increased very considerably after I went
to live with him.

Three things stood in my way of answer-
ing the Lord's commands as fully as some-
times I should have done ; first, a violent hu-
ox>ur fell into one of my l^s soon after I was
bound apprentice, which I with others thought
was much occasioned by hard usage, heats
and colds, and many surfeits, even from my

Online LibraryWilliam EvansThe Friends' library: comprising journals, doctrinal treatieses, & other writings of members of the religious Society of Freinds → online text (page 15 of 104)