William Evans.

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

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more it brings the creature into self-abase-

A passage is here revived to my mind,
which was thus : Afler a large Yearly Meet-
ing, where were many able ministers, worthy
William Penn, who was one of them, taking
me aside, said. The main part of the service
of this day^s work went on thy side,, and we
saw it, and were willing and easy to give way
to the Truth, though it was through thee, who
appears but like a shrub ; and it is but rea-
sonable the Lord should make use of whom
he pleases : now, methinks, thou mayest be
cheerful. From which I gathered, that he
thought I was too much inclined to be cast
down ; therefore I gave him this true answer,
I endeavour to keep in a medium, out of all
extremes, as believing it to be most agreeable
to my station ; with this remark, the worst of
my times rather imbitter the best to me. Wil-
liam shook his head, and said with much re-
spect. There are many who steer in this course
besides thee, and it is the safest path for us to
walk in ; with several other expressions which
bespoke affection.

This worthy man, and minister of the Gos-
pel, notwithstanding his great endowments and
excellent qualifications, yet thought it his place
to give way to the Truth, and let the holy tes-
timony go through whom it might please the
Lord to empower and employ in his work, al-
though it might be through contemptible in-
struments. I sincerely desire this may prove
profitable to those whom it may concern, and
into whose hands it may come, that the Lord^s
work may be truly minded, and given way to,
when it is opened; for seeing no man can open
it, let not any strive in the man^s part to shut
the same. I have at times seen something of
this, which hath not been altogether to my
satisfaction. A word to the wise may serve,
I hope, and be sufficient for a caution, for
what I have written is in the love of God, and
under a concern that hath been upon my mind
at times, for some years, to leave behind me
a gentle caution to my tender friends of both
sexes, to have an especial care in all things
to recommend not only their gifts, but their
demeanour in them, as also their conversation
after them, to every roan's conscience in the
sight of God ; so that you may build up the
Lord^s house, and always have a great care,
that nothing you say or do may in any way
tend to the hindrance of the Lord's work, or

to discourage the weakest in the flock of
Christ, but labour to fasten every stake, and
strengthen every cord of Sion, and as much
as you are capable, build up the tabernacle in
Jerusalem. As God is a spirit, and the soul
of man is a spiritual existence, and as the
soul and body of man become sanctified and
prepared, as a temple for the Lord by his
Holy Spirit to tabernacle in, the Lord is to
such as a sanctuary to flee to, and rest in,
from heats and from storms: here is the Rock
of the true church, and her place of defence,
to wUf the name and power of the mighty
God. Oh 1 that all the inhabitants of the
earth were acquainted with this name, and
rock of defence ! they would not then be so
much overcome, as they are, with the power
of the enemy of the soul, but would live above
his region, which is in the earth, or rather in
the earthly hearts of men. All you who have
escaped the pollutions of the world, keep in
your tents, until the Lord moves and leads
forward, and opens the way, sometimes as in
a wilderness.

Read and understand from whence these
things have their rise, for there is the church's
safety, and its comeliness too in abiding in the
Truth. This is your place of safety, where
the enemy hath no power, where the wiles of
satan and inventions of man cannot reach;
no enchantment hath power over these, re-
nowned be the great name of the Lord now
and for ever.

How comfortable, how easy and pleasant
are even all the books and testimonies, and
exhortations, that are given forth in the spirit,
love and life of Christ ! yea, the very com-
pany and conversation of such who are pre-
served in the life, becomes a sweet savour of
Divine life to the living. There is comfort
and consolation, a . strengthening and building
up one of another in the most hoi}' and pre-
cious faith, so that I find the truly quickened
soul taketh great delight to resort to, and as
much as may be, converse with the awakened
and truly quickened souls who take up the
cross of Christ daily, and follow him in the
way of self-denial, although it be a way that
is much spoken against, by such who know
not the nature and discipline of the holy cross,
and despise those who are the true followers
of Christ. To feel this essential virtue, seed
or leaven of the kingdom, or salt of the co-
venant, Christ, to work so effectually to the
restoring of the powers and faculties of the
soul, into the first rectitude and purity, that
all the malignity may be thoroughly purged
out, with all the dross or tin, which defiles the
man, and makes him unfit for the kingdom
and for the service of God, is a great work.
Neither is th^ vessel preserved clean, when it

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is in degree cleansed, but through great care,
watchfulness, and diligence in attending upon
the Lord with great devotedness, and resigna-
tion to his mind and will in all things. Ex-
perience hath taught us, as well as what we
read in the Holy Scriptures, that there are
many combats to go through for such as are
engaged in this warfare, before the above-said
states, deliverance from sin and satan, and a
sabbatical or peaceful rest in Christ, can be
obtained to the soul.

Come, thou that lovest the light, and bring-
est thy deeds to the licht, and believest in the
light, and hast thy body full of light, by keep-
ing thy eye single to God, and in and to ail
things that may tend to his glory and thy
duty ; thou wilt become a child of the light,
and receive the whole armour of light. This
is that which will arm thee on the right hand
and on the left. Put off thy own righteous-
ness, with which it may be thy breast hath
been too much possessed, and put on Christ's
righteousness as a breast plate, for it much
emboldens in imminent dangers, and also at
approaching death. Wait upon him who hath
power, that thy feet may be shod with the
preparation of the Gospel of peace ; so that
as the Gospel power and Gospel ministry all
tend to gather into the ways of the Gospel and
of virtue, thou mayest not fail to be a preacher
of righteousness in thy walking and in thy
whole conversation ; for this is one of (he
good ends for which the Gospel power hath
reached and visited thy soul, viz : to purge it,
and make it clean. Take care to have upon
thy head the helmet of salvation, which will
be a strength and as a crown to thee, not only
in the many encounters, but more especially
in thy last encounter with death ; and that
thou mayest have faith as a shield to put on,
that thou mayest overcome the world; and
above all things, take to thyself the sword of
the spirit, which is the word of God, that
through this excellent armour of proof, thou
mayest be able to quench all the fiery darts
and temptations of the devil.

If thou art a soldier of Christ, this is thy
armour; these are thy accoutrements which
fit thee for thy vocation, as a follower of the
Lamb through many encounters with thy ene-
mies, which armour will give thee the victory,
and bring thee through many tribulations,
which is the way to the kingdom of heaven.

Now leaving the eastern parts of New
England, and these tender people on Nan-
tucket Island, with fervent supplications and
prayers to the Lord of heaven and earth, that
he will prosper his blessed work of conversion
which he hath begun amongst them, and in
all such upon the face of the whole earth ; in
the next place I came to Lynn, to Samuel

Collings', where 1 had not been long before I
met with an unusual exercise, which I had
expected for some time would fall upon me.

Having heard of George Keith's intention
of being at Lynn Monthly Meeting the next
day, which as near as I remember, lies be*
tween Salem and Boston, the evening coming
on, as I was writing to some Friends in Old
England, one came in haste to desire me to
come down, for George Keith was come to
the door, and a great number of people and
a priest with him, and was railing against
Friends exceedingly. I said. Inasmuch as I
understand this Lynn meeting is, although
large, mostly a newly convinced people, I ad-
vise you to be swift to hear, but slow to speak,
for George Keith hath a life in argument; and
let us, as a people, seek unto and cry mightily
to the Lord, to look down upon us, and help
us for his name's sake, for our preservation,
that none may be hurt.

The country was much alarmed; for, as
Friends said, George Keith had given notice
two weeks beforehand, that he intended to be
at this Monthly Meeting, and the people were
in great expectation to hear the Quakers run
down, for George Keith had boasted much of
what he would prove against Friends. Soon
after some pause, retirement, and fervent seek-
ing to the Lord for direction and counsel in
this important affair, I went to the rails, and
leaned my arms on them near George Keith's
horse's head, as he sat on his back, and many
people were with him ; but the fow Friends
who were come, stood with me in the yard.
My fervent prayers were to the Lord, that if
he gave me any thing to speak to George, it
might go forth in that power and wisdom
which was able to wound that wicked spirit
in which he appeared, and boasted over
Friends after the following manner, crying,
'* Is here a man that is a scholar ? Is here a
man that understands the languages amongst
you ? If so, I will dispute with him." I told
him, it was probable the English tongue was
most generally understood and used amongst
that people, and therefore I thought it was the
best to keep to it. He went on and said. That
he was come in the Queen's name to gather
the Quakers from Quakerism, to the mother
church, the good old Church of England, and
that he intended to exhibit in our meeting on
the morrow these charges following against
us, which, he said, he could prove we were
guilty of out of our Friends' books, viz : Er-
rors, heresies, damnable doctrines and blas-
phemies : Look, said he, to answer for your-
selves, for if you do not, the auditory will
conclude that what I exhibit against you is

1 was roused up in my spirit in a holy zeal

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against his wicked insults and great threaten-
ings, and said to him, That it was the fruit of
malice and envy, and that he was to us but as
an heathen roan and a publican. Then he
began to cast what odium he could upon
Friends, with such bitter invectives as his
malice could invent. I stood with an attentive
ear and a watchful mind ; for as I stood lean-
ing upon the rails, with no small concern upon
my mind, I felt the Lord's power arise, and by
it my strength was renewed in the inner man,
and faith, wisdom, and courage with it, so that
the fear of man, with all his parts and learn-
ing was taken from me; and in this state
George Keith appeared to me but as a little
child, or as nothing : renowned be the most
excellent name of the Lord, now and for ever.
But this great champion, Goliah like, at least
in his mind, I supposed feared not any there ;
be overlooked us all, and in the pride of his
heart disdained us ; but the Lord of heaven
and earth looked down upon us in a very ac-
ceptable time, and helped us for his name's
sake, and covered our heads in the day of
battle : glorified be his great name for ever.

I have sometimes thought to omit some part
of this account concerning George Keith, but
remember it opened clearly in my mind then,
and I said to him. That the hand of the Lord
was against him, and that he would pour forth
contempt upon him for his disobedience and

But to return to his reflections: he said,
The Quakers pretend to be against all cere-
monies, but he could prove that they used
many ceremonies, as taking one another by
the hand, and men saluting one another, and
women doing so to one another, and he said,
that women did salute men; yea, they had
done it to him ; as it was generally understood
by those who heard him, which I thought not
worthy my notice. He went on and said, the
Quakers pretended to be against all persecu-
tion, but they were not clear, for the Quakers
in Pennsylvania and the Jerseys had perse-
cuted him, and would have hanged him, but
that there was some alteration in the govern-

Then came out one of my arrows, which
cut and wounded him deeply : I said, George,
that is not true. Upon that the priest drew
near, and appeared very brisk, and said I had
a^ good as charged Mr. Keith, as he called
him, with a lie. I replied. Give me time, and
I will prove that which George said, is not
true, and then thou and he may 'take your
advantage to rescue him from that epithet of
a liar, if you can. The priest said I knew
not Mr. Keith : I replied, If he knew him as
well as I did, he would be ashamed to be
there as an abettor of him. The priest got I

Vol. IV.вАФ No. 3.

away, and troubled me no more in all the en-
gagements that George ai^d I had aderwards,
although the said priest was with him. Then
I demanded of George, What way our friends
proceeded against him, and what measures
they took, as he would insinuate, to bring him
to the gallows. But I perceived fear began
to surprise the hypocrite, and he thinking by
my boldness I was an inhabitant in those
parts, and knew his abuse to Friends in these
provinces, and their peaceable behaviour to-
wards him, was willing to let the matter drop,
and demanded my name, which was told him.
I then asked, How he could have a face to
urge such a notorious untruth in the view of
that people who were much strangers to, and
ignorant of the troubles and differences, chiefly
created by him, among Friends in these parts.
The members of this meeting being gene-
rally newly convinced of the truth, I urged
him to come to the particulars of Friends'
proceedings against him, that among those
strangers h^ would set forth as far as he
could in truth, the steps Friends had taken
in persecuting him, as he pretended ; but he
would not m^dle in the least with it. - Then
I showed him, and the people, the falsity of
bis charge, and the wickedness of his spirit,
and the peaceableness of Friends' behaviour
towards him, and what great affronts and pro-
vocations they had put up with at his hand,
as I had it from those who were eye and ear
witnesses of it. For, as I showed George
Keith, I had searched intt> the bottom of these
matters, and heard that when he stood before
governors and assembly-men in their courts
of judicature, when they were met about the
affairs of the three provinces, he had lorn
open his buttons and told them, His back
tickled for a whipping, and could they not
cut him into collops, and fry and eat them
with salt; and that he scorned they should
wipe his shoes : all which, with much more,
I told him I could prove against him. And
when he saw he could not provoke Friends to
give him some condign punishment, which I
thought, as I said to him, none but Friends
would have spared, especially when his back
tickled so much for a whipping; but they, like
men of peace and religion, overlooked it all ; he,
like a man full ofmalice,ratherthan want some-
thing to slur and blacken Friends with, wrote
a letter, I know not where, but dated it from
Bridlington prison, in West Jersey. It must
have b^n dated on the outside of the prison,
the doors being locked) so that he could not
get into it ; yet this went current far off, that
George Keith was in prison; consequently by
Friends' procurement, they being chiefly at
the helm of government in those three pro-


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I asked, What he had to say to all this, for
it was all provable: he did not object one
word against what I had said, hot vainly
hoping for better success in Old England,
relating to his undertaking, and finding me,
as he might suppose, so well versed in the
American affairs, hoped, no doubt, that I had
been more ignorant of the affairs of Britain :
but, poor man, he sped as illy thero also. For
he boastingly said, Since it pleased God to
open his eyes to see into the worst of the
Quakers' errors, although, he said, charity
did oblige him to construe every thing at
the best whilst in fellowship with them, but
since they were so opened, he had been in-
strumental to bring from Quakerism, to the
good old mother church, in Old England, five
hundred people. I replied, That is not true :
if he rightly considered what he had done
in Old England, he had little cause to boast ;
for, I said, I thought about as many persons
as he spoke of hundreds, would make up the
number there ; and if there was occasion, I
could name all or most of them; and told him,
that some of those few, whilst amongst us,
were grown to be neither honourable nor
comfortable to us. I urged George, if he
could, to name or make appear more in num-
ber than I had mentioned, that he had so gath-
ered, as he had falsely said. This was a very
great stroke, and put him to a stand.

He then began to ask of my country, and
from whence I came; with the account of
which I humoured him; yet I put him in
mind of his great Brag, and importuned him
to make something appear towards that great
matter he had done in Old England; for I
was ashamed for him, that a man of his learn-
ing, parts, and pretensions, should so expose
himself; but he went no farther about it.
Then I showed the people what sort of a man
he was, as they themselves could not but see,
who were impartial, and that he was not wor-
thy of our notice, for he cared not what he
said, so that he could but calumniate and
abuse U9.

By this time he appeared somewhat glutted
with the sharp sword and keen arrow the
Lord gave me, which cut and wounded deeply,
so that I did not find in our afler encounters,
he appeared at any time so bold and despe-
rately hardy, but rather expressed himself,
though very wickedly, yet in a sofler tone.
He was now for being gone, threatening us
with what he would do on the morrow ; but I
reminded him, that he was to us as an heathen
man or a publican, and that what he exhibited
against us, being but the fruits of wrath and
envy, as such we slighted and trod it under
our feet as dirt, and rather desired his absence
than his company: so away he went, only

telling us, he would be with us in the morn-
ing. We understood by it, that he intended
to be with us at the Friend's house, the meet-
ing-house being about a quarter of a mile
from our lodgings.

The evening coming on, the neighbouring
Presbyterian women fell hard upon our wo-
men Friends about their saluting men, which
George Keith had charged upon them, as was
generally understood in the plural, and this
appeared as a confirmation, as they alleged,
because when charged, I made no reply to it,
as I had done to all or most other charges,
and had overthrown Mr. Keith, as they said,
so that he was not able to stand before me.
They ought to have said, before the Lord in
the first place. But how the women might
clear themselves of that reflection was the pre-
sent business. I said, I thought it would be
the best, at a suitable time in the morning,
when George Keith was come, that by hand-
somely bringing the matter over him, they
might learn what women they were who sa-
luted him, and so clear themselves from the
reflection cast upon them; for, I said, perhaps
he will limit it to some of his near kindred,
as wife, mother, sister, daughter, which may
serve him for a salvo in this present case ; for
I did not know of any such general practice in
any place where I had been, and I had visited
most of the meetings in England, Scotland,
and Wales. So in the morning, when George,
with two priests, and many people were come,
with some Friends, who filled the house, a
woman Friend stood up, and brought the
matter discreetly over George Keith. But
when she put the question in the plural, wo-
men, he shifled the term, and said, He did not
say women. I desired the Friend to call to
her neighbours who heard what George Keith
had said the last evening, and were now pre-
sent, how they understood the word. One,
like a wise and just man, said, He would do
justice to every man ; and he understood that
George said women; and many said to the
same purpose, but none to the contrary. The
Friends asked me. How I understood the word :
as being a north countryman, I might know
better the north or Scotch dialect than they.
I replied, They had a broad way of express-
ing the word woman, rather sounding it like
the plural, but I understood it women, as the
above-mentioned discreet man had said.

The next question she put to him was. What
woman ? He answered, A good old motherly
woman that was gone to heaven many years
ago. Then she asked, What countrywoman?
He replied, A Scotch woman. The Friend
said. It was very well that he had cleared all
the world of that fault, if it might be so term-
ed, but Scotland, and one woman dead many

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years ago. The women Friends were greatly
satisfied, and glad they were so finely dis-
charged of that which some counted a reflec-
tion, and especially before their zealous neigh-
bours the Presbyterians ; who, as the Friends
said, might probably have twitted them with
it, whether the matter was true or false, if it
had not been cleared up; but, as I said to
George, it was a reflection for reflection's
sake: for I was willing to set every thing
that was wrong, as far as I was capable, in
its proper light, that Friends and others, of
all persuasions who were present, might see
things as they really were, and not be de-
ceived ; and I had much satisfaction in so
doing. As I was engaged in the defence of
the truth, it appeared most clear to me to load
him with his own lies, mistakes, and wicked-
ness, and to do what we did, as much as in
us lay, in the Lord's mighty power ; for he
appeared to me like the angels who kept not
their first state.

Matters being thus far gone through, and
the meeting time drawing on, I was in some
concern of mind, lest any should be hurt by
either hearing or answering George Keith, he
having a great propensity to jangling; it there-
fore opened in my mind to ask him a question,
withal reminding him, that he was but to us
as an heathen man or a publican, yet he
might, if he pleased, answer me the question,
which was. Whether he was always sound in
the fundamental doctrines of Christianity, yea
or nay ? Upon which he sat a considerable
time in silence, of which I was truly glad,
my spirit being much bowed under the appre-
hension I had of the weighty exercise that
was likely to attend the approaching meeting.
But before we parted, George stood up, and
taking his staff in his hand by the middle,
said. While he was a Quaker, he thought as
Paul thought, that he had the Spirit of God.
and when he had the Spirit of God, then he
wrote sound things, but when he had it not,
then he wrote unsound things. I asked, whe-
ther these unsound things he wrote were in
fundamentals, yea or nay: if not in funda-
mentals, then my question remained firm and
untouched. He would have gone from the
matter, but I reminded him of it again, as I
supposed he foresaw that he could not answer
it, but by bringing a stroke upon himself, for
if he had owned his being unsound, I had it
under his own hand, in a book written afler
he lefl Friends, that he was always sound, &c.
And if he had said, he was always sound in
the fundamentals, as before, then I intended
to have asked, why he led us : for he advo-
cated the same orthodox principles which we
believed and taught; but we ended quietly,
and prepared to go to the great meeting, for

by this time many Friends and people were
come, and coming from every quarter, to see
and- hear how matters would go between the
poor Quakers, and this great champion in his
heart, George Keith, for I thought he most re-
sembled the great Goliah of Gath, who defied
the armies of the living God, of any I had
seen in all my travels,, in a religious respect.

Now to the meeting we went ; George Keith^
with two priests and a great many people of
several professions and qualities gathered to-
gether into one body, and Friends and some

Online LibraryWilliam EvansThe Friends' library: comprising journals, doctrinal treatieses, & other writings of members of the religious Society of Freinds → online text (page 20 of 104)