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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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and sit down amongst the lowest rank.

This meeting was one not to be forgotten,
because of the eminent visitation from the
Lord that was upon us in it. I have not often
seen the like. I question if there were any
dry cheeks for some time in it ; and the man-
ner of the working of the heavenly power
was remarkable, in order -to the sanctifying
and preparing vessels for the Lord's use. He
broke us down by his judgments from follow-
ing flattering flesh, and the pleasing vanities
of the world, and the subtle baits of satan,
and by the tenders of his love, engaged us to
follow the heavenly and inward calls, knocks
and reproofs of his Holy Spirit, and to obey
the dictates of the same. When the Lord
prepares in a good degree for this work of the
ministry, many have been unwilling to give
up and obey, until they have tasted of the
Lord's displeasure, and in part of his judg-
ments, which have brought them into submis-
sion; after which they went out, sometimes
with their lives in their hands, and became a
wonder to men, bearing their reproach, and
sometimes appeared in great congregations,
sometimes in noises and tumults, and some-
times were in watchings and fastings, in wea-
riness, hunger, and in cj>ld, with much more,
for the name of the Lord and his testimony,
and for the enjoyment of peace, and his in-
ternal presence, who separated us to this work
by the Holy Ghost. And it is by our abiding
faithful to the same, that we are preserved in
a capacity of persevering through all to the
end, to the mutual help and comfort one of
another, and renown of the name of the Lord,
who is worthy now and for ever.

We also had a very large meeting on this
island in an orchard, where I had good ser-
vice for the Lord : I remember I was much con-
cerned about the two ministrations, viz. John's
baptism with water, and Christ's with the Holy
Ghost, it being clear from John's words, that
he saw to the end of his own dispensation
when he declared, he must decrease, but



several days, both for worship and discipline, Christ must increase ; which is generally un-
to inquire whether it was usual in our part of derstood to relate to their diflering dispensa-
the world to let the young, and such as had tions. The first was to baptize unto repent-
appearejd but little in testimony, come into the ance, the other to the purging of the floor, and



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LIFE OP JOHN RICHARDSON-



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burning up of that which was combustible,
viz. the chaff and stubble, which the Lord's
baptism burneth up inwardly, and which no
elementary thing can do ; for if all the eat-
ings, washings, observations, and ceremonies
under the law; although commanded and en-
joined to Israel by the Lord, could not make
the comers thereunto perfect, how should these
or any of them now perfect the Gentile world
when not commanded, as they never were
to usi What I had upon my mind, as I
received I went through with, and showed the
beginning, use and end of the watery dispen-
sation, and the use and continuance of Christ's
spiritual baptism to the end of the world.. The
mooting broke up, and Friends went into an
upper room in an inn ; but I felt such an ex-
ercise upon my spirit that I could not eat, but
desired Friends to be easy, and I would eat as
soon as I could; and while I was walking
over the large chamber alone, there came up
three men whom I knew not, or what they
were, but it sprang livingly in my heart to set
my eyes on them in the Lord's dread, and so
I did. They passed away, and I was told
afterwards, that they were throe Baptist preach-
ers who had been at the meeting, and came
to see me, with a design to have a dispute
with me ; but, they said, I looked so sharply,
they durst not meddle with me. Thus the Lord
in a good degree wrought for me, blessed be
his worthy name for ever.

Now I leave the account of my travels in
those parts, and enter upon my second, with
my honest companion, James Bates, who was
bom in Virginia, and travelled much with me
through many provinces, and some islands,
and we had good service together. It was
much with me, when on Rhode Island, to
visit Nantucket, where there were but very
few Friends; Peleg Slocum, an honest public
Friend; near Rhode Island, intending to carry
us in his sloop to Nantucket that night. He
thought we had been close in with our de-
sired landing place, but we fell short, and
night coming on, and having but one small
canoe to put us on shore, which would carry
but three people at once, we went on shore at
twice, and left the sloop at an anchor. It
being dark, we thought we were going up into
the island among the inhabitants, but soon
found that we were upon a beach of sand and
rubbish, where was neither grass nor tree,
neither could we find the sloop that night,
though we sought it carefully, and hallowed
one to another till we were weary, so that we
were forced to settle upon our little island,
from the centre of which, one might cast a
stone into the sea on every side. Here we
staid that night, not knowing but the sea,
when at the height, would have swept us all



away, but it did not; there I walked, and
sometimes sat, until morning, but slept none;
at last the morning came, and the mist went
away, and we got on board again, and reached
the island about the ninth or tenth hour.

The master was willing, at our request, to
land three of us, viz, me, my companion, and
Susanna Frebom, a public Friend, who had had
a concern upon her mind for some time, as she
signified to Friends in Rhode Island, where
she lived, to visit the few Friends in Nantuc-
ket, and Friends thought this was a proper sea*
son to pay that visit. She wps a woman well
beloved, and in good unity with Friends.

We landed safely, and as we went up an as-
cent, we saw a great many people looking to-
wards the sea, for great fear had possessed
them, that our sloop was a French sloop load-
ed with men and arms, who were coming to
*invade the island. I held out my arms and
told them, I knew not of any worse arms than
these on board. They said, they were glad it
was no worse, for they had intended to alarm
the island, it being a time of war. I told the
good-like people, for so they appeared to me,
that Peleg Slocum, near Rhode Island, was
master of the sloop, and that we came to visit
them in the love of God, if they would be
willing to let us have some meetings amongst
them. They behaved themselves very cour-
teously towards us, and said, they thought we
might.

We then inquired for Nathaniel Starbuck,
who, we understood was in some degree con-
vinced of the truth, and having directions to
his house, we went thither. I told him, we
made bold to come to his house, and if he was
free to receive us, we should stay a little with
him, but if not, we should go elsewhere ; for
we heard he was a seeking religious man, and
such chiefly we were come to visit : he said,
we were very welcome. By this time came
in his mother Mary Starbuck, whom the
islanders esteemed as a judge among them,
for little of moment was done there without
her, as I understood.

At the first sight of her it sprang in my
heart. To this woman is the everlasting love
of God. I looked upon her as a woman that
bore some sway in the island, and so I said,
and that truly, we are come in the love of God
to visit you, if you are willing to let us have
some meetings among you. She said, she
thought we might; and further said, there was
a Non-conformist minister who was to have a
meeting, and they were going to it, and she
thought it would be the best way for'us to go
with them to the meeting. I showed my dis-
like to that for these reasons; first, we did not
want to hear what that minister had to say,
because some of us had tried them before we



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LIFE OF JOHN RICHARDSON.



came (here, meaning the Non-conformists of
several sorts, and if we should go, and could
not he clear without speaking something in the
qiceting, he might take it ill. But as we un-
derstand there is another meeting appointed at
the second hour for the same man, and as we
look upon ourselves to stand upon equal ground
in a religious capacity with other dissenters, if
wo should appoint our meeting at the same
hour, then the people will be leA to their choice
to which meeting they will go. The woman
approved of the proposal, and said. Indeed that
was the best way. The next consideration
was, Where shall the meeting be ? She paused
awhile, and then said, I think at our house. I
from thence gathered she had an husband, for
I thought the word our carried in it some pow-
er besides her own, and I presently found he
was with us. I then made my observation on
him, and he appeared not a man of mean-
parts, but she far exceeded him in soundness
of judgment, clearness of understanding, and
an elegant way of expressing herself, and that
not in an affected strain, but very natural to her.

The meeting being agreed on, and care
taken as to the appointment of it, we parted,
ond I lay down to try if I could get any sleep,
for I have showed before what sort of a night
the last was with us ; but sleep vanished from
me, and I got up and walked to and fro in the
woods until the meeting was mostly gathered.
I was under a very great load in my spirit ;
the occasion of which was hid from me, but I
saw it my place to go to meeting, the order of
which was such, in all the parts thereof, that I
had not seen the like before; the large and
bright rubbed room was set with suitable seats
or chairs, the glass windows taken out of the
frames, and many chairs placed without, very
conveniently, so that I did not see any thing
wanting, according to the place, but something
to stand on, for I was not free to set my feet
upon the fine cane chair, lest I should break it

I am the more particular in this exact and
exemplary order than in some other things,
for the seats both within and without doors
were so placed, that the faces of the people
were towards where the public Friends sat,
and when so set, they did not look or gaze in
our faces, as some I think are too apt to do,
which in my thoughts bespeaks an unconcern-
ed mind. Themeeting being thus gathered,
and set down in this orderly manner, although
there were but very few bearing our name in
it, it was not long before the mighty power of
the Lord began to work, and in it my comr
panion did ap^r in testimony in the fore part
thereof. While he was speaking, a priest, not
the one before mentioned, but another, threw
out some reflections upon him, and the people



for his sake, which I did not see the least oc-
casion for ; afler which he went away.

I sat a considerable time in the meeting be-
fore I could see my way clear to say any
thing, until the Lord's heavenly power raised
me, and set me upon my feet as if one had
lifled me up ; and what I had first in commis-
sion to speak, was in the words of Christ to
Nicodemus, viz. ^'Except a man be bom
again, he cannot see the kingdom of God;"
with these words. Nay, the natural and unre-
generate man cannot so much as see the hea-
venly and spiritual kingdom of Christ, which
stands not only in power but also in righteous-
ness, joy and peace in the Holy Spirit. I told
them that to be bom again, was not to be done
unperoeivably, no more than the natural birth
could be brought forth without trouble; and to
pretend to be in Christ and not to be new
creatures, is preposterous; and to pretend
to be new creatures, and yet not be able to
render any account how it was performed,
was unreasonable ; it could not be, as I urged
before, without our knowledge; for to be bora
again, signified to be quickened and raised into
a spiritual and new life, by which the body of
the sins of the flesh is mortified, and we come
to live a self-denying life. Those who are
crucified with Christ, are crucified to their
sins, that as he died for sin, we might die to
sin : in this state we live not afler the flesh,
although we live, as the apostle said, in the
flesh ; but the life which these live, is through
faith in the Son of God : and to have all this,
and much more wrought in us, and we know
nothing of it, is unaccountable.

As I was thus opened, and delivering these
things, with much more than I can remember,
the woman [Mary Starbuck] I felt, for most
of an hour together, fought and strove s^ainst
the testimony, sometimes looking up in my
face with a pale, and then with a more ruddy
complexion ; but the strength of the truth in-
creased, and the Lord's mighty power began
to shake the people within and without doors ;
but she who was looked upon as a Deborah by
these people, was loath to lose her outside reli-
gion, or the appearance thereof. Wh^a she
could no longer contain, she submitted to the
power of Truth, and the doctrines thereof, and
lifled up her voice and wept. Oh ! then the
universal cry and brokenness of heart and
tears were wonderful 1 From this time I do not
remember one word that I spoke in testimony,
it was enough that I could keep upon the tme
bottom, and not be carried away with the
stream above my measure.

I might add much more concerning this
day's work, but I intend not to say .any thing
to the praise of the creature, but to the renown



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LIFE OF JOHN RICHARDSON,



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of the mighty name of the Lord of Hosts, and
let all fiesh lie as in the dust for ever. While I
continued speaking in this state, as before men-
tioned, and thus swallowed up in the internal
presence of Christ, where there was no want
of power, wisdom, or utterance, I spoke but
a sentence and siopt, and so on for some time:
I have since thought of John's being in the
spirit on the Lord's day. If it had been a state
to be continued in, I am of the mind I should
not have been sensible of weariness, neither of
hunger nor pain. This is a mystery to many,
yet these are faithful and true sayings, thou
mayest read that canst; but there are none
who can know the white stone and new name,
but they who have it; there are none who
stand upon mount Sion with harps of God in
their hands, but only such as have come
through great tribulations, and have washed
their garments and made them white in the
blood of the Lamb. To these are the seals of
the book of the mysteries of the glorious king-
dom opened ; these are called out of nations,
kindreds, tongues and people ; these are re-
deemed out of the fallen and earthly state of
old Adam, into the living, heavenly and spi-
ritual state in Christ the second Adam ; these
cry holy ; the other part of the children of
men cry unholy, because they are not willing
to cast down their crowns at the feet or ap-
pearance of Christ in their own souls. Al-
though such with the four beasts may cry,
" Come and see," yet are they not properly
qualified to worship the Lord God and the
Lamb before his throne, as the four and
twenty elders did, and as all do, and will do,
who worship God in his holy temple in spirit
and in truth, according to his own appoint-
ment; who are not, tied up to the canons,
creeds, systems, and dictates of men, much
of which is beaten out of the wisdom, parts,
and natural comprehensions of earthly fallen
man.

I return from this, which may seem a mys-
terious digression, to the other part of what
did happen concerning the meeting, and come
DOW to the breaking up thereof. As extreme
heats oft end in extreme cold, and as great
heights frequently centre, as to man in this
capacity, in great depths, and great plenty in
great poverty, which I have of^n seen to be
good, in order to keep the creature low, in fear
. and in a dependance upon the Lord, I soon
fell into such a condition that I was likely to die
away. When it was so, I with my companion
made a motion to break up the meeting, but
could not for some time, for they sat weeping
universally ; then I told the meeting, especially
such as were near me, that if I should faint
away, I would not have them to be surprised
at it; for I was much concerned lest that



should hurt these tender people ; my life was
not dear to me in comparison of the worth of
the souls of the children of men ; but all this
did not break up the meeting. After some
time Mary Starbuck stood up, and held out
her hand, and spoke tremblingly and said.
All that ever we have been building, and
all that ever we have done, is pulled down
this day ; and this is the everlasting truth ; or
very nearly these words. Then she arosej
and I observed that she, and as many as
could well be seen, were wet with tears from
their faces to the fore-skirts of their garments,
and the floor was as though there had been a
shower of rain upon it ; but Mary, that wor-
thy woman, said to me, when a little come to
consider the poor state that I was in, Dear
child, what shall I do for you? I said, A little
would do for me; if thou canst get me some-,
thing to drink that is not strong, but rather
warm, it may do well : so she did, and I went
unto her son's^ where my clothes were, that I
might shift me, for I felt sweat in my shoes as
I walked.

I mention this partly for the sake of such
of my brethren, who may be at any time in
the like case, to take care to keep out of the
cold,; and beware of drinking that which is
cold, neither is brandy good, for it feeds too
much upon the weakened vitals; but in all
things endeavour to possess your vessels in
sanctification and honour. As it is not in
man's power to make the vessel clean nor
prepare it, therefore if the Lord doth, with
thy obedience through the work of his grace
and Holy Spirit, fit thy vessel for his work
and service, take this caution, see that thou
neither destroy, defile, nor hurt the same.
But it may be, some have done all these,
some one way and some another.

I remember Peleg Slocum said after this
meeting, that the like he was never at; for he
thought the inhabitants of the island were
shaken, and most of the people convinced of
the Truth: however, a great convincement
there was that day, Mary Starbuck was one
of the number, and in a short time after re-
ceived a public testimony, as did also her son
Nathaniel.

After I was somewhat revived, my com*
panion havbg a mind to speak to the priest,
to know why he did so reflect on him, desired
me to go with him, which I did with several
more, and coming to his door, where he was
set upon a bench,' James Bates asked him.
Why he did so reflect 7 He replied, he was in
a passion, and had nothing against him : James
forgave him, and they fell into sotoie debate
concerning faith ; my friend urged the apostle
James' words, which are these, ** As the body
I without the spirit is dead, so is faith without



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UPE OP JOHN RICHARDSON.



works, dead also." The priest said, Dead
faith was nothing, and that it had no being in
(he world. I thought he'appeared to be in the
crad ; and after they had tugged at it a while,
I said, I found something in my mind to inter-
pose, if they would hear me; they both showed
a willingness to hear what I had to say, and
then I asked. What belief or faith that was
the devils had ; for I did not understand, but
that although they believed there was a God,
they remained devils still ; therefore the word
dead is a proper word, and properly adapted
to that which any may call faith, and is not
operative, but a notion that may be received
by education, by hearing or reading, and not
that faith which works by love and overcomes
the world : and because of its not working,
being inactive and useless, it is fitly called
dead : what dost thou say to that ? He said I
was too great a scholar for him. I replied,
there was no great scholarship in that He
then invited me to stay all night, and said I
should be as welcome as his own children,
and he and I would dispute about that between
ourselves. I declined it, and showed these
reasons for so doing ; if he declined the de-
bale publicly, I would not debate it privately,
for then these neighbours of his would want
the benefit of it ; and so we parted with my
saying, as it immediately sprang up in my
heart. Thou hast been a man in thy young
years that the Lord has been near, and fa-
voured with many openings, and if thou hadst
been faithful to the gift of God, thou mightest
have been serviceable; but thou hast been un-
faithful, and a cloud is come over thee, and
thou art laid aside as useless.

I was altogether a stranger to the state of
the priest, nor had I heard any thing of him,
nor indeed of the state of the inhabitants of
the island, but what I heard afterwards, mostly
from Mary Starbuck. As we walked from
the priest's house towards our quarters, she
said, Every thing she now met with, did con-
firm her in the Truth ; for she knew this was
the state of the priest, as I had said, being ac-
quainted with him in his best state, and then
he had fine openings and a living ministry
among them, but of late a cloud was come
over him, and, as I said, he was laid by and
useless. She also put me in mind of some-
thing I had said in the meeting about election,
which as near as I can remember was thus :
I had endeavoured to make one in the elec-
tion, and one. born again, much the same; for
I had laid waste all claim to election without
being born again ; for as Christ was the cho-
sen or elect of God, who never fell, could
such who were in the fall be the branches of
Christ, the pure heavenly vine? Or such who
were found in the impure state, and in the de- 1



generacy, by reason of sin and wicked works?
Or would Christ be married to a people, and
become as their husband, who were in an un-
converted state? Could this be the true church
of Christ? Could this be the Lamb's bride,
who had departed from his spirit, and was in
the pollutions of the world through lust, and
running after the pleasures and fineries of the
world, depending upon ceremonies, and out-
side things and elements, which appear not to
be essential to our salvation, neither do we
find life in them, nor conversion through
them? I was of the apostle's mind, that ** Nei-
ther circumcision nor uncircumcision availeth
any thing, but a new creature:" and what man
in the world can say, that water, although he
may have been baptized or dipped into the
same, hath converted him, or changed his
state from a natural to a spiritual, or from a
dead to a living state in Christ ? Or, who that
have gone through the most celebrated cere-
monies, as some may account them, had there-
by got dominion over sin and satan ?

Having thus treated of these things among
them, I said to Mary, that she warred and
strove against the testimony for a time : and
as nearly as I remember, she said their prin-
ciple was, That such who believed once in
Christ, were always in him, without a possi-
bility of falling away; and whom he had once
loved, he loved to the end : it was a distinc-
tion they had given to their church, to be
called Electarians; and as I said, or near it,
she had no mind to be pulled out of her strong
hold. But when she saw the glory of Christ
and the true church, as the queen of the south
saw Solomon's, and the glory of bis bouse ;
and as she had her questions and doubts an-
swered, she had no more spirit in her, or
doubts or questions, but openly owned, This
is the Truth, this is the glory I have heard so
much of: that spirit of doubting and ques-
tioning was swallowed up now, by hearing
and [^holding for herself this greater than
Solomon, his wisdom and glory, and the great
house that he had built. The servants, the
attendance, the excellent order, with the as-
cent to the house of God, which were al!
wonderful in Solomon's house, carried in them
a lively resemblance of Christ, his power,
glory and wisdom, as also that order and mien
which is seen among his faithful servants, his
church and people, even such as our spiritual
Solomon rules in and over by his spirit and
power. Here is Solomon or Man of Peace,
elsewhere called the Prince of Peace ; and as
Solomon ruled in Jerusalem, formerly called
Salem, or City of Peace, and indeed over all
Judah, and over all his tribes, so doth Christ
in his kingdom every where upon the face of
the whole earth. Learn this, see and know



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LIFE OP JOHN RICHARDSON.



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in and for thyself, that thou art truly trans-
lated out of the kingdom of death and dark-
ness into the kingdom of Christ, which is a
kingdom of power, life, light, peace and joy
in the Holy Ghost. I was much bowed down
in my spirit, and in weakness, fasting, and in
much fear ; for the more Truth appears, the



Online LibraryWilliam EvansThe Friends' library: comprising journals, doctrinal treatieses, & other writings of members of the religious Society of Freinds → online text (page 19 of 104)