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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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friendly people into another body ; and as we
came near to the meeting-house, I stood still,
and took a view of the people, and it appeared
to me as if two armies were going to ei^age
in battle. There appeared with George Keith
men of considerable estates, parts, and learn-
ing, and we appeared like poor shrubs ; and,
under a sense of our present state, I had like
to have been dismayed, and my faith even to
have failed me. But I cried mightily to the
God and Fountain of all our tender mercies,
that he would look down upon us, and help
us in this time of great exercise, which was
not hid from him; but his penetrating eye
saw, and his watchful providence attended us,
blessed be his name for ever. I continued
my fervent prayers and intercessions to the
Lord of Hosts, that he would arise for his
great name's sake, and work for us that day,
that the enemies of truth might not triumph
or vaunt oyer us, and that none of these ten-
der plants, whom he had brought to the sav-
ing knowledge of the Truth, might be hurt.

I had no sooner thus heartily sought the
Lord, but I felt renewed strength come upon
me, and the fear of man was taken away
from me, and I saw evidently that Truth would
have the victory that day, and my faith and
confidence were greatly strengthened in the »
Lord, These breathings forth of my spirit
to the Lord were in secret, without words to
be heard by men, but the Lord hears and
knows the distress and language of the spirit.

Being thus encouraged in myself, it arose
in my heart to speak to Friends before we
went into the meeting-house; and I advised
them to be swifl to hear, and slow to speak,
that what was spoken might be in the Lord's
power, for that wounds George the most, and
slays that wicked and ranting spirit in him,
more than all the wisdom of words without
it : let us maintain our testimony of denial
against him, and endeavour to get together
into one body, that we may be a help and
strength one to another; and let every one
who knows the Lord, cry mightily to him,
that his living power and presence may be
amongst us, and I believe the Lord will
not sufier any to be hurt. So the meeting



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LIFE OF JOHN RICHARDSON.



gathered, and immediately afler, George stood
up to tell us, as before, that he was come in
the Queen's name, to gather Quakers from
Quakerism, to the good old mother church,
the Church of England, as he called it, and
th^t he could prove out of our own books,
that we held errors, heresies, damnable doc-
trines, and blasphemies ; with a threat to look
to ourselves to answer, or else the auditory
would conclude, that what he exhibited against
us was true. I expected some of the elder
Friends would say something to him, but none
did; and having a deep concern upon my
mind, lest Truth, or the friends of Truth,
should suflfer through our mismanagement,
and such as waited for occasion might have
it administered by us against ourselves; under
this concern I stood up, and signified to the
people what manner of man George Keith
was. Notwithstanding he had walked many
years amongst us, yet towards the latter end
of his so walking with us, he grew very trou-
blesome, by reason of a contentious spirit
which did possess him; and ader much la-
bour and exercising of patience, and extend-
ing of love towards him, in order to recover
and reclaim him, all that labour of love and
much forbearance would not avail, but he still
persisted in the work of contention and dis-
turbance ; then he was publicly disowned, and
testified against by us, as a person with whom
we had no unity or fellowship^ Being thus
cast out, he became to us, agreeably to the
sayings of Jesus Christ, as an heathen man
or a publican ; and did what lay in his power,
to expose us to all sorts of people, printing
against us ; wherein he hath much abused us,
in leaving out the explanatory parts of sen-
tences, and coining words to make the mean-
ing appear different from what was designed,
and indeed, from what was most fair and genu-
ine. Therefore, some of our Friends found
themselves concerned to follow him in print,
for the clearing us from what he, through
envy, would have willingly fastened upon us,
and to return his self-contradictions, misinter-
pretations, and misapplications of our writings
upon himself, and to clear our own innocency,
and manifest the perverseness and wickedness
of his spirit. Neither do we, as a people, hold
ourselves under any obligation to follow him
into foreign parts of the world, to answer his
charges, not being conscious that we hold any
thing contrary to sound and orthodox doc-
trine. And knowing that what he exhibits
against us, is the fruit of envy and malice, as
such we reject it, and trample it under our
feet ; and were it not for your sakcs, who are
strangers to these things, we should take no
further notice of George Keith, than to slight



and reject him as a man that cares not what
he says, nor is he worthy of our notice.

Then pausing a little, George being quiet,
a Friend stood up with a short, but living tes-
timony, and then my companion ; all this in
much weight, and with good demonstration.
AAer them it pleased the Lord to open my
mouth, I think in as much strength, clearness
and demonstration as ever, beginning with the
following words : In that way you call heresy
do we worship the God of our fathers, believ-
ing all things that are written concerning Jesus
Christ, both as to his Godhead and manhood;
giving a summary account of his birth, work-
ing of miracles, some of his doctrine, suffer-
ings and death, ascension and glorification,
the coming of the Spirit of Truth, or Com-
forter, to lead all those who receive, believe
and obey it, into all truth : having great open-
ings concerning the law and prophets, and the
beginning, service and end of the ministration
of John the Baptist. The people appeared
very attentive, for the Lord's heavenly baptiz-
ing power was amongst us that day : it was
thought many were there who had not been
at any of our meetings of worship before, and
the presence of the priests there, opened a
door for all the rest.

Being clear, I lefl them to the grace of God,
and to their free teacher Christ, whose hea-
venly power in the appearance of his spirit,
the last and lasting dispensation, was exalted
that day above all the shadowy and typical
things that ever had been in the world : a good
meeting it was, and Friends were mutually
comforted and edified in the eternal presence
of the Lord.

The priest of this place, whose name was
Sheppard, before my mouth was opened in
testimony, made preparation to write; and
when I began to speak, he had his hat upon
his knee, and his paper upon its crown, and
pen and ink in his hands, and made many
motions to write, but wrote nothing; as be
began so he ended, without writing at all.
As Friends entered the meeting-house, the
Lord's power, even that power which cut Ra-
hab and wounded the Dragon, which had been
at work, kept down in a good degree the wrong
spirit in George, for he appeared much down;
but this busy priest called to him several times
to make his reply to what I had spoken. Af-
ter some time, I said to the priest, in behalf of
the meeting, That he might have liberty to
make reply. He proposed to have another
day appointed for a dispute ; to which I said.
If he did make a voluntary challenge, which
he should not say we put him upon, we, or
some of us, meaning Friends, if a day and
place were agreed upon, should find it our



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LIFE OF JOHN RICHARDSON.



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concern to answer him as well as we could.
He said he would have Mr. Keith to be with
him. I told him if he should, and meddled
in the dispute, if I was there, I should reject
him for reasons before assigned. When the
priest had said this and somewhat more, an
elder of the Presbyterian congregation clapped
him on the shoulder, and bid him sit down ,*
so he was quiet, and then stood up Greorge
Keith, and owned he had been refreshed
amongst us that day, and had heard a great
many sound truths, with some errors, but that
it was not the common doctrine which the
Quakers preached.

I then stood up and said, I had something
to say to obviate what George Keith would
insinuate ; for his drift was to infuse an opin-
ion into them, that the Quakers did not com-
monly preach up faith in the manhood of
Christ, as I had done that day. I appealed
to the auditory, whether any thought there
was a necessity frequently to press a matter
so universally received among Christians, as
faith in the manhood of Christ was : yet we,
as a people, had so often and clearly demon-
strated our faith in the manhood of Christ,
both in our testimonies and writings, as might
satisfy any unbiassed person, or such who
were not prejudiced against us ; and we know
not of any people who believe more scriptur-
ally in the manhood of Christ than we do.
But inasmuch as the grace, light, and Holy
Spirit, is highly concerned in the work of
man^s salvation, as well as what Christ did
for us without us, and this being yet much a
mystery to many called Christians, it pleases
God to open, in the course of our ministry,
into the meaning and mystery thereof, and to
press the latter more than the former. To
which Greorge made no reply, but began
to exhibit his charges against us, and said
he could prove them out of our Friends'
books, naming George Fox and Edward Bur-
rough, &c. He had in a- paper a great many
quotations out of Friends' books, and a young
man with him had many books in a bag, out
of which, he said he would prove the charges
he was about to exhibit against us.

He was now crowded up into the gallery
between me and the rail, with a paper in his
hand; and I standing over him, and being
taller, could see his quotations, and his para
phrases upon them, on which I told him loudly,
that all the meeting might hear. That he offered
violence to that sense and understanding which
God had given him, and he knew in his con-
science, we were not that people, neither were
our Friends' writings either damnable or bias
phemous,"as he through envy endeavoured to
make the world believe, and that he would
not have peace in so doing, but trouble from



the Lord in his conscience. I spoke in the
Lord's dreadful power, and George trembled
so much as I seldom ever saw any nmn do.
I pitied him in my heart, yet as Moses said
once concerning Israel, I felt the wrath of the
Lord go forth against him. George said, Do
not judge me ; I replied, The Lord judges, and
all who are truly one in spirit with the Lord,
i^nnot but judge thee. So he gave over, and
it appearing a suitable time to break up the
meeting. Friends parted in great love, tender-
ness, and brokenness of heart ; for the Lord's
mighty power had been in and over the meet-
ing from the beginning to the end thereof;
glorifted and renowned be his most excellent
name, now and for ever, for his mercies are
many to those that love and fear him, who is
the fulness of all good.

This meeting was not only for worship, but
also for business, as I said to the people at our
parting ; it was Friends' Monthly Meeting, in
which their poor, fatherless and widows, were
taken care of, and such other things as con-
cern them as a people. Two Friends were
desired to stay, to hear what George had to
say to them who remained, which said two
Friends gave us an account, that George said
to the people after we were gone, the Qua-
kers had left none to dispute with him but an
ass and a fool ; when I heard it, I said, could
you not have replied. An ass was once made
sufficient to reprove the madness of the pro-
phet.

George called to see me the next day, and
said, ^' You had the advantage of me yester-
day, for you persuaded me to be quiet until
you had done, and then you would not stay
to hear me ;" neither indeed were we under
any obligation so to do. I told him, I hoped
that Truth would always have the advantage
over those who opposed it ; and so we parted,'
but met again upon Rhode Island; the go-
vernor of which place, who was a friendly
man, having heard of my intention of coming
thither, ordered the deputy-governor, when I
came, to bring me to him, which he did.
When he saw me at the door, and after in-
quiry heard my name, he took me by the
hand, and led me like a brother, or rather
more like a tender father, into a room, setting
me down by him, and then began to say, I
have heard much of you, and I desired to see
you long, and am glad you are here. Find-
ing him near me in spirit, I was very open in
my mind to him, and answered him with much
clearness and satisfaction. I remember he
asked, whether I thought the sourness in the
minds of the Presbyterians' against us, was
not rather abated 1 I told him, I did believe it
was ; and if our Friends did but observe to
walk wisely, and live up to what they pro-



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LIFE OP JOHN RICHARDSON.



fessed, they would overcome it all. He said
that was the way, and there was not another
comparable to it ; and as he said, and I believe
it was so, he had no other view in sending for
me, but to manifest his respect to me, and to
do me any service that lay in his power. I
told him I was sensible of his love, and wished
I could be capable of returning that which in
gratitude his kindness to me called for: he
said he desired no more than when I came
that way, I would visit him, if he was living.
I told him I intended so to do, if it was my
lot to come there again. I then desired he
would be at the meeting next day, George
Keith proposing to be there, in all lijcelihood
it would be very large; which he promised he
would, and accordingly came.

George made little disturbance in the be-
ginning of the meeting, but commanded the
governor to quiet the Quakers. A priest said,
Mr. Keitby you ought not to command the go-
vernor, but entreat him; well then, he en-
treated the governor to quiet the Quakers,
that he might be heard ; whereupon the go-
vernor, like a man of justice and wisdom,
stood up and said, It was not in his power to
quiet the Quakers ; inasmuch as the house is
theirs, and they have appointed the meeting,
it is but reasonable they should have their lib-
erty, and if they be willing when they have
done, you have your liberty to say what you
have to say to those who will stay to hear
you : so the governor being next me, leaned
his hand upon me, and went away in a sober
manner. George was quiet, and we had a
good meeting, and so parted.

Afler most of the Friends were gone, a
Friend and I went to the meeting-house door,
to hear what George said : he held his Bible
in his hand, and said it was promised that the
tGrospel should be preached unto every crea-
ture under heaven ; but if it was truly trans-
lated, it would be in every creature, not in
every creature, as horse, cow, &c., but in
every rational creature of mankind : and then
, their meeting broke up in confusion.

My next remove was to Loog Island, where
I met with Thomas Story and John Rodman;
John desired Thomas and me to be assistant
to him in preparing a writing against George
Keith, when he came to Flushing meeting
upon the aforesaid island, which writing was
to this e^ct, viz :

*< Colonel West, an inhabitant in these parts,
who died and made Miles Forster a trustee,
gave by Will a considerable sum of money to
poor Friends of London, which money was
ordered by the testator to be put into the hands
of sonoe faithful Friends of the aforesaid city
of London, to distribute as above." A true
copy of which Will we obtainedy and at the



meeting made it fairly appear to George
Keith's face, that he had wronged the poor in
receiving fifly pounds of the aforesaid money
of Miles Forster, as appeared under Miles's
own hand ; which George did not deny when
he was charged with it in the meeting, as
knowingly to have robbed the poor ; it being
made fairly to appear, that George Keith had
no right to meddle with the money, neither as
a faithful Friend, nor yet as a poor Friend of
London, because he was then in America.
And what made him more incapable of claim-
ing any part of it, was his being got into the
spirit of strife and enmity against Friends,
and therefore, before they could hear his
charges, he ought first to lay down the mo-
ney » or give such security as Friends approved
of; neither of which he was capable of doing.
He was slighted by all or most of the people,
as well as by Friends, and this blocked up his
way so much that we had little or no trouble
with him in that part of the world. The Lord
wrought for his name's sake, and the preser-
vation of his tender people, praises and honour
be given to his great name, now and for ever.
Thus ended this engagement between a poor
servant of Christ, and a grand apostate, who
appeared to fight against reason, sense and
conscience. Think not, my friends, the ac-
count too long, for it hath seemed to me, for
some time, a debt due to my brethren, and a
piece of justice due to the memory of George
Keith, for his wickedness, revolting and sad
apostacy. Few there ar^ who can believe
how great the power of darkness and wicked-
ness of that mind and spirit was, which pos-
sessed and breathed through him ; so great it
was, that even the considerate and sober peo-
ple said, they did not think that George Keith
had been so wicked a man as they found he
was upon trial. Courteous friend and reader,
hold fast that which thou hast received, that
none may take thy crown, for it is laid up in
store for the righteous only, and such who
hold out to the end, in the same pure righte-
ousness which is of Christ, wrought and con-
tinued in man, by the operation and indwell-
ing of his Holy Spirit, as man abideth in
subjection and obedience to the leadings and
dictates thereof.

I told George, that I was much ashamed of
his complimenting great people; for I observed
he sometimes said thee and thou, and some-
times you and sir ; sometimes put his hat off,
and sometimes kept it on, and that before I
would be so unhandy, if I intended to be cere-
monious, I would go to school a while, and
not shame myself as he had done. If I have
not written the very words, in all my accounts
in the preceding pages, I have the substance :
and for a conclusion, I had to say to George



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LIFE OF JOHN RICHARDSON.



95



Keilhy the hand of the Lord was againsl him,
and would follow him, unless he repented.

This account carries in it an admonition to
us, and to Friends in future ages, into whose
hands it may come, to beware of letting in the
spirit of envy, prejudice and pride of heart,
which I clearly saw was that which, with too
much leaning to his natural abilities and learn-
ing, was his overthrow, he not keeping to the
Lord's Holy Spirit, the life and strength of his
faithful people, and the key of true knowledge,
the good remembrancer, and leader into all
truth, which the Lord sees meet in his wisdom
to open and lead us into. Without the help
of this anointing and Holy Spirit, we are apt
to be cold and forgetful in our duties towards
God, and also in our love and duties one to
another ; but as the measure of this spirit is
faithfully kept to and improved, we grow more
and more fruitful in every good work and
word, to the glory of God and comfort of our
souls, and, as the salt of the earth, help to sea-
son those who are not seasoned.

When I was in the Yearly Meeting upon
Rhode Island, there was a query concerning
what Friends should do, in case there should
be a tax laid upon the inhabitants for building
fortifications, and to provide men and arms
for the security of the island ; such a thing
being then in agitation. One of the chief
Friends concerned in church afiairs, would
have me give an account what we did in the
like case in England ; for he said they looked
upon themselves as the daughter, and Friends
in Old England as their mother, and they
were willing to act consistently with us as far
as they could, and would know whether we
could pay that tax which was for carrying on
a vigorous war against France. I was un-
willing to meddle with it, as I said ; but the
meeting waited a considerable time for my
answer, as one told me, and was not willing
to go forward without it. At last, when I
could not well do otherwise, I signified to that
large meeting, that I had heard the matter de-
bated both in superior and inferior meetings,
and privately, and the most general result was
this; Friends did not see an effectual door
opened to avoid the thins, that tax being mixed
with the other taxes ; although many Friends
are not so easy as they could desire: neither
have we any further sway in the government,
than only giving our voices for such as are
concerned therein; therefore, as things appear
to me, there is a great disparity between our
circumstances and yours here; for you have
a great interest and share in the government,
and perhaps may put such a thing by in voting,
considering the body of Friends, and such as
are friendly, whom you have an interest in ;
therefore look not for help from the mother,



wherein she is not capable of helping herself,
and thereby neglect your own business ; but
mind your own way in the Truth, and look
not out. Friends appeared well satisfied with
these distinctions, and it gave me some ease,
in that I had not hurt any.

During ray stay in one of the Jerseys, a
great weight, more than usual, seized upon
my spirit as I sat in a meeting, and under a
sense of the same my cries ascended unto the
Lord, the fountain of all tender mercies, that
he would please to show me what was the
cause of that great power of darkness which
did so oppress my spirit. And it pleased the
Lord to show me, that a man there had been
guilty of some gross wickedness ; and when
it clearly appeared to be required of me lo ex-
press it publicly, it became a very great exer-
cise to me, and I had some reasonings before
I gave up to make it public to that large meet-
ing of Friends and other people. I laboured
under it till towards the conclusion of the
meeting, but finding my peace concerned very
nearly in the matter, I stood up in the gallery
and said, Under a sense of some gross wick-
edness committed by some person not far from
me, hath my spirit been borne down : which
wickedness will in a short time break forth to
the dishonour of Truth, and grief of Friends.
A great man who sat in the gallery by me,
started up and seated himself upon the rail of
the gallery, with his eyes fixed on me, and in
the Lord's dread, I fastened my eyes on him,
and said. We have a common maxim in Old
England, touch a galled horse's back, and he
will kick ; and I am of the opinion, he that
kicks is not clear. He got down as fhst as he
could out of my way, for he not only pre-
vented me from the view of the meeting by
sitting there, but his uncleanness stood much
in the way of my service.

After the meeting was over, several worthy
Friends expressed to me the great concern
they were under, lest he should either by
money, or subtilty, conceal the wickedness,
if such was committed ; for I found there was
a great jealousy in the minds of Friends, that
something was wrong with the man, but I was
till then altogether a stranger to their thoughts,
and to the state of the man ; yet I advised that
Friends should have a watchful eye over him
and his family, for I told Friends, my spirit
was easy in what I had delivered, and I be-
lieved the evil would not be concealed. On
my return, I heard his wickedness had been
made manifest, which he did not deny. —
Friends then asked me, what they should do
in the case ; I said, let the judgment of Truth
go forth against all manifest wickedness, with-
out respect of persons, that the ever blessed
Truth, and such as live in it, may be kept



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LIFE OF JOHN RICHARDSON.



clear and in good esteem before all men as
much as may be.

Something of the like exercise I met with
in a meeting in Pennsylvania, repeating seve-
ral times what oppression my spirit was un-
der, because of some yet hidden wickedness,
which in a short time would be brought to
light, to the blemish of the Truth, and great
trouble to Friends. That very evening, after
the meeting, a woman little thought by Friends
to be guilty of such a crime, went to a worthy
Friend and told him, she was the woman who
had done that gr^at wickedness I had com-
plained bf, and had borne such a great load
because of; and, as the honest Friend said,



Online LibraryWilliam EvansThe Friends' library: comprising journals, doctrinal treatieses, & other writings of members of the religious Society of Freinds → online text (page 21 of 104)