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William Evans.

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

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infancy. The lameness held me about two
years, and it much discouraged and disabled
me. The second hindrance- was, my low cir-
cumstances in the world, which very few
knew of, because the common fame was, and
not without some trqth, that I had rich pa-
rents. Few knew the straits I met with ; yet
my truly religious master, if he understood
any thing was upon my miod to go to visit
any meeting or meetings, would say, take my
mare and go thy way, and be not uneasy,
neither about the mare nor business; and do
not hasten thyself. These kindnesses made
roe oflen thoughtful how I might return suita-
ble acknowledgments, and be duly grateful for
the same. I was diligent in my master's bu
siness, not serving bun with eye service, but
faithfully ; believing it good and acceptable in
the sight of God, and I had great peace in it;
my master never found fault with me fordoing
too little, but often for doing too much, and
would sometimes say, I think thou wilt cleave
to the beam ; come off and let us walk into
the fields and see how things are there. , The
healing of ray leg, I attribute to the great and
good providence of God ; for in a short time
afler I gave up freely and cheerfully to answer
the Lord's requirings, the Lord healed me of
Diy lameness. As to the third hindrance,
when I cried unto him, that he would also
heal my tongue of its stammering, believing
that the Lord was able to take away this im-
pediment, as he was to stop the violence of
the humour in my body: notwithstanding se-
veral men had given their advice, and had
showed their skill, which all proved ineffectual,
until I came to believe in Jesus Christ, and to
press through all to him, and to touch the
skirt, or lowest appearance of his blessed truth
and power, in which I found true healing vir-
tue to my soul, and also to my body, and to
my tongue, even to my admiration ; so that I
did not only speak plain in the testimony the
Lord gave me to bear, but also. spoke plain in
my common intercourse with men.



I was likewise in these days under the dis-
pensation of openings and visions, and thought
myself as it were upon Mount Pisgah, and
saw into the holy land, into things relating to
God and his heavenly kingdom, and into his
work and way of bringing man out of the fall
tind alienation, to himself again, and into a
heavenly state in Christ, as man yields true
obedience to the leadings and operation of his
blessed grace and Holy Spirit in the heart.
But under such dispensations it is of absolute
necessity, that man be brought into true self-
denial, into a depending frame of mind, and
resignation of his will to the will of Qod, and
a daily sitting as in the dust, as to the motions
and workings of the creature ; for all that is
of man's working,.doe8 but hinder the spiritual
work of God in the heart. And we must
come truly to know all fleshly motions, and
the workings in man's own will and spirit, td
be silenced, in order to hear the voice of God,
which is a still small voice, and not to be
heard in the noise apd hurries of the world ;
neither when the mind is busied with things
agreeable to our own corrupt wills and de«
praved nature.

Although I had clear sights into many hea-
venly things, and also at times had comforta-
ble enjoyments of the living presence of God,
yet I wanted to be more established in the un«
changeable Truth, of which I had some com-
fortable feeling. In crying to the Lord, I
found he inclined unto me, and, as David said,
he heard my cries, and plucked my feet out
of the mire and clay, and set them upon a
rock, that was higher than I, and in part, es«
tablished my goings, and put a new song into
my mouth, even high praises unto the Lord
for all his tender mercies to me in these tryw
ing times. And now being more crucified to
the world, and the spirit of it, I witnessed a
more constant indwelling of his heavenly
power and living presence, light and grace ; I
came to be brought into stillness, and it was
most agreeable to my condition to keep much
in silence, and wait upon the Lord for the re-
newing of strength, that thereby I might sur-
mount all temptations and trials with which I
might be tried, which were not a few.

These things are worthy of commemora-
tion, and proved great confirmations to me in
the Truth, in these days of my tribulations
and great trials : read and believe, thou that
canst, for they are faithful and ^rue sayings*
After the Lord had healed me, he sent me
forth in the work of the ministry, and the first
journey I took was southward into Lincoln-
shire, Nottinghamshire, and through Coven-
try, and so to Warwick, to see William Dews-
bury. One thing is remarkable; in giving
him an account of the particular towns and



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LIFE OP JOHN RICHARDSON.



places I had passed through, in answer to his
inquiry what way I came, I mentioned Coven-
try, which was the last and the worst; for
some of the rude people flung stones at me,
with great violence, as I was speaking in the
meeting, so that had the Lord suffered them
to hit me, they must have spoiled me; but my
faith in the Lord, and the strength of the
Truth, bore up my mind above the fear of
what wicked men could do to me. After Wil-
liam had heard my account, he fixed his eyes
on me, and said, thou must go back again to
Coventry. I appeared unwilling, for two rea-
sons : first, because I thought I had cleared
myself of that people : secondly, I thought it
not safe to run into the danger of suffering,
unless I was satisfied the Lord required it of
me. But William was positive, and said I
must go, for there was a service for me to do
there. Upon a deliberate consideration of the
matter, and seeking to the Lord to know his
will in it, I found my way clear to go, and I
had some service and good satisfaction, and
left Friends nearer to one another than when
I first met with them ; for there had been a
misunderstanding amongst some Friends in
that city. I eame from thence to Tamworth,
where there was a difference, especially be-
tween two Friends ; both of whom had made
some considerable figure among Friends. I
felt it upon me to go to one of them, and warn
him of the spirit of prejudice and envy, for
if he gave way to it, it would eat out his love
to Friends and Truth, and he would decline
meetings and come to naught, and turn his
back on the Truth; which came to be fulfilled,
as I afterwards heard ; for he became a loose
man, and listed himself to be a soldier. I was
zealous for the name of the Lord, and had a
great concern upon my mind for the promul-
gation of the Truth, and where I met with
loose professors of the Truth, it was a great
exercise to me.

When I returned home from this, and in-
deed from all my journeys, I took care so far
as my weak body was capable, to fall into bu-
siness, and not to loiter away my time, neither
abroad nor at home. My weak constitution
would not well bear the weaving trade, there-
fore I left it much against my will; but I
wrought upon clock and watch work, and
many other things, which supplied my neces-
sities, the Lord allowing me as nuich time at
home as put me in a condition fit for travelling,
and then I was inclined to go to visit Friends.
Many things I omit, because I am not willing
to swell my account too much. I travelled
through most parts of England four times, and
twice through most parts of Wales, between
the twentieth and twenty-eighth year of my
age.



After the Lord had opened my heart, and I
came in part to understand the Holy Scrip-
tures, and to have a feeling of that Holy Spi-
rit in which the holy penmen wrote them, and
a sympathy with the spirits and exercises of
the righteous therein mentioned, I took great
delight in reading them, and having a good
memory, could thereby the better deal with
priests, and with professors. I had many dis-
putes and reasonings with persons of several
denominations, both in Yorkshire and other
parts in my travels, so that through these dis-
putes, and much reading, my mind was rather
too much in the letter, and not altogether so
much in spirit and in power, as it should have
been ; for which I met with a gentle caution
from the Lord, which was thus : I heard a
voice from the Lord, as plain as if one had
spoken to my outward ear, <* the fowls of the
air lodge in the branches." This being re-
peated to me, I besought the Lord to show me
what was the meaning i>f that voice which I
heard ; and the Lord, the mighty God, showed
me, in his condescending love, that the Scrip-
tures, even all of- them which were written as
the holy men were moved of the Holy Ghost,
sprung from the living root; yet those who
rested only in the letter, and came not to be
acquainted with, and live in, and minister
from the same Holy Spirit, are outward, dead,
dry, airy, and foolish. This gentle check was
of great service to me ; not so -as to make
me decline reading the Scriptures, but that I
should not have overmuch dependency on
them ; and to caution me against the neglect
of waiting for the help of the Holy Spirit, the
root and pure spring of the right and living
ministry, which reaches the heart and carries
the true evidence with it to the believers, that
it is of God ; which that of the letter cannot
do of itself. I tenderly desire that all con-
cerned in.this great work of the ministry, may
not be ministers of the letter only, but of the
spirit also, and may speak in the demonstra-
tion of the spirit and of power. Let him
that speaketh, speak as the oracle of God, and
he that ministereth, do it as of the ability that
God giveth. This is the last and lasting min-
istry, which is after the order of Melchisedeck,
and not after the order of Aaron, but in Jesus
Christ, the high priest, the one ofiR)ring, which
makes perfect for ever all who come to him
through the drawings of the Father. He is
the one Lord, and there is but one true faith
in him, and but one true and saving baptism
into him, or into the likeness of his death;
that as Christ died for sin, we may truly die
to sin ; and as he was raised by the glory of
the Father, so we may walk in newness of
life. He is the heavenly High Priest, holy,
harmless, separate from sinners; who was



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LIFE OF JOHN RICHARDSON.



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tempted, and knows how to succour such as
are tempted ; he is the Advocate with the
Father, the Propitiation for the sins of all, the
true Guide and Ck)mforter, the Leader of them
into all truth who ohey and follow him ; al-
though to the world a Reprover and a swifl
Witness against all ungodliness and unrighte-
ousness of men.

My writing thus, from this gentle check,
concerning the fowls and the branches, is not
with the least intention either to lessen the
Holy Scriptures, or discourage any from read-
ing them; for I would have all true Christians
encouraged to be more conversant in them ;
yet with this advice, kind reader, from thy
well-wisher and true friend, to breathe to, and
truly seek after the Lord for a measure of his
holy and blessed Spirit, the only key and best
expositor to open and truly expound them to
thee, as by the same Holy Spirit, thy mind
and understanding comes to be fitted and en-
lightened. Indeed, the whole vessel must be
brought into a preparation to hold the heavenly
treasure, and not to mix the pure with the cor-
rupt and impure : for without this enlighten-
ing, preparing, opening, and sanctifying gift
of God^s holy grace and spirit, man can nei-
ther know the heavenly power of God, nor
yet the Holy Scriptures aright, as he ought to
know them. And for this reason it hath
seemed good to God to hide these things from
the learned, wise, and prudent df this world,
that they should not pry into, nor find out the
mysteries contained therein, unless they are
sanctified, and called of God thereto ; as no
man knows the things of a man, save the
spirit of a man that is in him ; likewise the
things of God are not perceivable by man,
without the help of the Holy Spirit of God in
man.

Thus the Lord opened to me the true mean-
ing of the parable of the mustard-seed, in this
the time of my infancy as to the ministry,
with which he sent me forth into the world,
that my faith might stand in the Lord alone,
the author and finisher, as well as giver of the
true and saving faith, even that faith which
works by love, and gives victory over the
world. It was by and through the power and
efficacy of true faith, which is the gift of God,
that the elders in former ages obtained, and
now obtain a good report; it was through this
gift, that worthy Abel with his ofiering was
accepted of God, although he was envied of
his evil-minded brother Qiin, and also by him
slain. The ever memorable Enoch, through
the virtue of this holy gift, walked with God,
as himself gave witness that Enoch pleased
him; he walked so in faith and obedience
even to the end, that he died not as men in
common do, but was translated, or changjed



in a peculiar manner. Come, read, thou that
canst, and understand, thou that art redeemed
out of the power of the first nature, and hast
overcome the flesh, the world and the devil,
in a great measure ; for thou knowest that it
is by the operation of this gift that the dead
in old Adam are raised to a new life and way
of living, in the new man, and through this
heavenly Adam, that is known to these to be
a quickening spirit, agreeably to holy writ.
Through faith the violence of fire was quench-
ed, the mouths of lions stopped, the sword
turned backward, and armies put to flight,
even such as were aliens or strangers, who
outwardly fought against the Lord's people ;
which sets before us, as in a glass, how and
what we are to overcome in this Gospel-day,
in which we are not to fight witfa*men, but
with our lusts, and to overcome sin and satan ;
which is as great a victory as he obtained who
overcame the rampant lions, that had domin-
ion over the. wicked, as sin and satan have
power and dominion over the wicked and un-
godly to this day.

Consider now in time, thou that readest
these lines, whether Christ or antichrist doth
predominate in thee; whether grace or sin
most abound in thy mortal body ; whether the
Spirit of Truth, that leads into all truth, or
the spirit of error, that leads into all error and
untruth, is the most prevalent, and hath the
greatest place in thy heart. For to him to
whom thou art the most subject, and yields
thy members servants, his servant thou art ;
and to him to whom thou givest way and sub-
jects thyself, his servant thou wilt altogether
come to be in time, and the wages due to his
servants thou shalt have given to thee at the
end of thy work. Therefore consider in due
time, while the day of thy visitation is con-
tinued unto thee, and the Lord is following
and calling thee by his secret checks and re-
proofs, by which he disquiets thy mind, that
although thou mayest take some pleasure in
vanity and wrong ways, when thou canst get
over the just witness of God in thy own soul,
yet while it strives with thee to convert and
gather thee out of earthly and fading plea-
sures, to have thy mind set upon heavenly
things and take pleasure in them, thou wilt
have no solid comfort in all thy lower enjoy-
ments, but condemnation and anguish of soul
will attend thee, until thou either gets over the
witness, or leaves the evil. This is the expe-
rience of the Lord's people, who have been
acquainted with the true inward warfare, and
also with the saints' victory. Learn to follow
Christ by the footsteps of the flocks of his
companions; although it be through great
tribulations, it is the way to have thy gar-
ments washed and made white in the mystical



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73



LIFE OF JOHN RICHARDSON.



blood of the immaculate Lamb of God. This
is he, as John the Baptist said, that taketh
away the sins of the world. Happy is every
one that truly putteth on his lamb-like nature,
his humility, righteousness, and purity, and is
covered with his Holy Spirit, and lives and
walks in and under the influence and conduct
thereof to the end of time.

When I had travelled much of the time be-
tween my going forth, which was from about
the nineteenth to the twenty-seventh year of
my age ; finding some little respite from the
weight of that service, I inclined to settle a
little closer to business, but had little to begin
any calling with. I had been a sojourner
some time at Whitby, Scarborough, and Brid*
lington ; but upon seeking to the Lord to know
what place I might now settle in, though my
great inclination was for Whitby, yet.it souild-
ed in my ear, Bridlington, Bridlington is the
place to settle in ; and in the cross I repaired
thither, and settled for some time, keeping a
little shop, and mending clocks and watches,
as I had done for several years past at times.
My settling there was of good service, for
the Lord began to work mightily, especially
amongst the young Friends, so that in a few
years many had their mouths opened in testi-
mony for the Lord, and a fine spring of hea-
venly ministry was in that Monthly Meet-
ing, the like I have not known in the same
bounds, for it is but a small Monthly Meeting,
and hath been so ever since I knew it. Truth
did mightily prosper, and Friends grew so in
the ministry, that it became a proverb, that
Bridlington was become a school of prophets.
This mighty work of (he Lord, in these days,
is worthy to be chronicled and remembered
among his worthy and noble acts; we had
many heavenly and good meetings, praised
and renowned be the worthy name of the
Lord, now and for ever.

We had but little discipline when I first set-
tled in that place, but afterwards many Friends'
hearts were stirred up in a holy zeal for the
Lord, to promote meetings for worship, and
also for good discipline in the church, for they
began to see a necessity of coming up more
in the practice of this very needful work.
Although some said. They could see no need
of such close order and discipline,! found it to
be my way in the truth to bear with such, if they
were not irregular in their conversations ; but
if they were disorderly, we dealt with them
as the Lord opened our way in the wisdom of
truth ; and thus bearing with the indifference
of some on the one hand, and encouraging
the faithful and zealous on the other, way
was made, beyond my expectation, for the
spreading of the truth, iu testimony, and the
discipline thereof in those parts.



I had now travelled and laboured much in
the Lord's work at home and abroad for about
ten years, but had not in all that time found
my way clear to marry, although not without
some likely opportunity, and with such as
were a great deal richer than she was whom
I did marry. But I was afraid in this weighty
affair to miss my way, knowing the great dif*
ference there is between those who only pro-
fess, and they who possess the truth ; those who
are only in the first and unregenerated state,
strictly speaking, but the sons and daughters
of men, and such who are born again, not of
flesh and blood, but of that incorruptible Seed
and living word of God which leads into a
lively hope, and brings forth a new and hea-
venly birth in man, that takes delight to please
and obey the Lord in all thines, and so be-
come sons, or children of God, m a more spi-
ritual and nearer relation than that of creation
only ; that is in and through this great work
of renovation, and being born again. As such
live up to that Holy Seed and regenerating
principle, and as the same doth predominate
and rule in man, in this state man cannot sin,
as the apostle said, with this reason annexed,
because His Seed (to wit, the Seed of God)
remaineth in him. Thus walking in the light,
and hving in the Seed, Grace, or Holy Spirit,
for although the terms of it difler, the virtue
and nature of it are indivisable; such come
to be gathered to walk with, and truly love
Christ, the bridegroom of the soul, and are
brought into a greater nearness, truer sympa-
thy, and unity of spirit, than the world knows
of. I believe, and therefore truly speak it,
the Lord gave me such a wife as really feared
him, loved truth and righteousness, and all
such as she thought loved, and especially such
as lived in the truth ; her name was Priscilla
Ganaby, daughter of James Canaby. She
was descended of an honest family in the
eastern part of Yorkshire, the only child her
parents lefl; they gave her a commendable
education, though they did not leave her any
great portion ; she was under the care of her
uncle, Charles Canaby, of Bridlington, an
honest Friend, who lefl something b^ind
him in manuscript concerning his convince-
ment of the Truth, and suflferings for the
sanoe; he was convinced early, lived to a
great age, and was a man of great service
in those parts where he lived.

I was in the twenty-eighth year of my ago
when I married my wife, who was a woman
of an excellent temper, very affectionate, so-
ber and prudent, loved retirement much, and
waiting upon the Lord, and the enjoyment of
his presence, especially with the Lord's peo-
ple, that they might also be made partakers
with her 6f the like favour ; this was as her



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crown and kingdoiln while in thisr world, even
from her childhood ; and to see Friends pros-
per in the truth was matter of great rejoicing
to her. When we had been married scarcely
three years, the Lord raised her up to bear a
public testimony amongst Friends, which was
very comfortable to them ; she had also the
Spirit of graoe and supplication, measurably
poured upon her, so thisit many with me did
believe she had access to the throne of God,
and to that river which maketh truly glad the
city of God. She always freely gave me up
to answer the service I believed the Lord call*
ed for of me. She was taken from me when we
had been married about five years, in the twen-
ty-eighth year of her age, and died in a sweet
frame of mind, and was sensible to the last.
Her last words were, '* He is come, he is come,
whom my soul loves; and my soul rejoices in
€rod my Saviour, and my spirit magnifies
him;" and so passed away like a Iamb, I
helieve into a mansion of glory, where her
innocent soul will for ever sing hallelujah to
the Lord God and the Lamb, who is worthy
of ^lory, honour, salvation, and strength, now
and for ever.

I might enlarge much upon her virtue and
worthiness, but in this, as in other matters, it
is my desire to avoid prolixity, yet I would
notice the most remarkable occurrences that
have happ^ied to me in the course of my pil-
grimage. I have been much pressed by some
of my faithful brethren, and I believe it to be
my duty, to leave some accounts for the en-
couragement and comfort of others in the way
and work of the Lord. One thing is worthy
here to be inserted, which had an astonishing
eflbct upon my mind, which was thus :

As I was walking in a plain field in the fore
part of the day, not far from the sea, betwixt
Bridlington and Broynton, my soul was in a
deep concern, and at that time exercised in me-
ditation on the things of God, and also in fer-
vent prayer to him for preservation from every
hurtful thing: my mind was then brought into a
a heavenly frame, I neither saw cloud over my
mind, nor yet any in the firmament, for it ap-
peared to me a morning without clouds, though
I had passed under many. Soon after my
mind was brought into this heavenly frame,
and as it were swallowed up in the heavenly
and internal presence of the Lord, I thought
a bright cloud covered me, or caught me up
into it : whether I was standing, walking, or
set upon the ground, or carried up into the
cloud in the b^y, or out of the body, I know
not to this day ; yet fear and reverence with
bowing of soul, did possess me before the
gfeat Majesty, at the glory of whose counte-
nance men and angels fled and gave way, and
could not steadfastly behold the brightness and

Vol. IV.— No. 2.



glory of the countenance of the Son of the
Highest, with the mighty God and Father,
which are one in power, greatness, goodness,
and glory, who was before all things, made
all things, and upholds and fills all things that
are good, with that which is truly good, or at
least is for a good end. Read this mystery,
thou that canst, and learn to fear him that
hath power over both soul and body, to kill
and to cast into hell, for at one time or an«
other he will make thee fear him, when he
brings thy sins to judgment, whether it be
now or hereafier. The time hath been, is, or



Online LibraryWilliam EvansThe Friends' library: comprising journals, doctrinal treatieses, & other writings of members of the religious Society of Freinds → online text (page 16 of 104)