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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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Then the old inhabitants of the land, figura-
tively speaking, crowd in again, as pride,
passion, lust, envy, loose conversation, open
drunkenness; nay some worse spirits than
ever had possessed them before, have now
entered their minds with the former, that were
onoe measurably overcome and cast out ; it is
therefore certain, that the end of these will be
miserable, except the Lord grants them a
place of repentance while here.

Now my tender and well beloved friends,
watch against, and strive to keep out the ene-
my that he enter not ; for what way soever
he enters and gets footing, he defiles God's
temple. And before thou witnesses the Lord
to destroy him and cast him out again, thou
must have many a sore combat, and some
warfare, perhaps nrK>re than thou art aware
of, before thou gainest all the ground thou
hast lost, by giving way to the adversary of
thy soul. Therefore keep upon thy watch
tower, and watch unto the end. Watch and
pray continually, that ye enter not into temp
tation, said our great Lord to his followers.
I have found by experience, that it is harder
to gain what we have lost, than to keep it
while we had it 5 and to improve our talents
is not only the way to have them continued,
but also to have them more abundantly added
unto; but such as do not improve what is
given unto them, even that With which they
have been entrusted shall be taken from them.
*0h how desolate and miserable such will be
in the day of account, when Christ, like a
great shepherd, divides the sheep from the
goats, — between the ^othful and the faithful
servants, — between the wise and the foolish
virgins, and between all those who adhered
to, obeyed, and followed him according to the
measure of light and knowledge received, and
those who have rejected and disobeyed the
strivings and convictions of God's holy light
and blessed spirit, placed in the hearts of the



children of men to enlighten, instruct, reprove,
comfort and guide, according to the state of
every individual, as it is conformable or diso-
bedient to inward convictions. So is this holy
giA a witness for, or against, to accuse, or ex-
cuse in thy conscience, according as thy good
or evil doings prevail in thy heart. This is a
digression from the historical part of my tra-
vels, and as I mentioned my going into Ire-
land, I shall now say something more par-
ticularly thereof.

We journeyed from Dublin towards Cork,
and had several meetings in our way, as at
Ballicane, Cooladine, Wexford, Lamlxstown,
Waterford, Clonmel, Cashel, Youghall, Cork,
and staid their province meeting for Munster,
which was a good and large meeting. I was
much disordered here, by a fever and ague
which held me several days, and was not
without some reasonings for a time, at being
out of my native country, but the Lord who
is mighty in power, helped me and raised me
again, and gave me ability to discharge my-
self of that service I was called to; honoured
for ever be the great name of the Lord for
this and all his mercies.

Next we came to Charleville, Linfterick,
Ross, and from thence to John Ashton's, Birr,
James Hutchinson's, Montrath, Mountmeliek,
Henry Ridgway's, and from Balinakil to Mon-
trath again, and were at their six-weeks' meet-
ing, which was a heavenly and good meeting,
there being a living remnant here : then we
came to Kilconner, Carlow, Ballitore, John
Stephenson's, Timahoe, Edendcrry, and went
to see my good friend Thomas Wilson, who
was sorely troubled with the gravel. I was
much afflicted, and truly sympathized with
him in my spirit, and John Barcrofl, that true
man, and I, did what we could for our afflicted
brother, and so lefl him and his family in the
love of God, and went to Lismoiny,and many
other meetings to the province meeting, which
was held at BalUnderry, and so to Dublin, the
29th of the fiflh month, 1732, and staid there
some meetings. There is a living remnant in
that city, but it is a rich place ; the mighty
God of heaven and earth keep his people low,
and truly humble there and every where else,
is the earnest desire of my soul to the Lord ;
for I know there is a considerable remnant,
whose labour and daily travail is to have the
church kepi clean from all defilement both of
flesh and spirit, so that she may be presented
unto God the Father without spot or wrinkle,
or any such thing, in the day when she must
appear before the great Judge of all the earth,
who will do right unto every one, according
as their works are found to be good or evil.

Being clear of Dublin and the whole na-
tion, I took shipping for Whitehaven — ^had a



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short passage but a very rough one» and had
some meetings io my way home, to which I
got on the 21st of the sixth month, 1722, and
found my children recovered from the fever
and ague in which I left them when I took my
journey, which distemper had so far prevailed
over them, that they were sometimes scarcely
sensible. It had been upon them for a con-
siderable time, and proved a trial hr me to
leave them in that very weak state ; but one
day as I sought the Lord in the fervency of
my heart, to know whether I should leave
these my two poor weak children or not, as
also my house-keeper much in the same case,
who were all my cojistant family, it sprang
in my heart iivingly, as though it had been
spoken with a man's voice, I^ve them, and
I will take care of them : I said, Thou the
Lord hast never failed me, I will leave them
to thee; do what seemeth good in thy eye
with them. I looked then no more behind
me, neither at them nor any thing else I had
left, but became as if I had not any thing in
the world. For thus it behoveth all the ser-
vants of Christ to do, even the married as if
they were not married ; and those that buy
any thing, as if they did not possess it. This
liberty which many are strangers unto, is
wrought by the finger of God ; it is the work
of God*s heavenly power to loosen man thus
from the things of this world : at the same
time we are most bound unto Christ, yet enjoy
a comfortable and heavenly freedom in our
spirits in Christ, by our faith and obedience
to him, in and through all trials, provings and
adversities. Deer friends, the greater the cross,
the greater is the crown and reward which all
those possess, who do all things with a single
mind and an upright heart to the Lord at all
times.

Thus the children of the Bridegroom are or
ought to be espoused or married to Christ, and
truly devoted to him, that so they may stand,
as much as may be, disentangled from all
mutable things, and cleave to and follow him
when and wheresoever he calls and leads, and
be in subjection to him, as a virtuous wife is
not only bound, but willingly subject to her
virtuous husband. Thus we may know Christ
to become our holy Head ; and that we may
hold unto him, and so walk and live, that he
oiay take delight in his church, the body, to
rule in and over it, as we have the state of the
true church and Christ represented in the
most excellent and sacred writings of the
holy Scriptures. May we likewise know the
marriage of the Lamb to be come, and as of
old, make ourselves ready, put oft* the sins
and corruptions of the world that are through
lust, and put on the Lord Jesus Christ and his
pure righteousness. This is the fine linen, the



righteousness of the saints ; this is the wed-
ding garment; without which preparations,
and true Bride's attire, I cannot see how any
can ej^pect an admittance into the Bride-
groom's chamber. Therefore I entreat aU
such as do not find themselves in prepara-
tion, and have not their peace assur^ to
them, wanting the evidence of the Spirit of
the Lord that they ^re his, not to slumber
away their precious time until the midnight,
lest unexpectedly the cry be heard to sound
with terror in thy ears. Arise, trim thy lamp^
for behold the Bridegroom cometh. Who hath
in times past exercised mercy and loving^
kindness towards thee, and has sought divers
ways to win thee to love him. He has at
times reproved thee for evil, and at other times
hath set before thee the comforts and happi-
ness thou shouldest possess, if thou wouldest
obey and follow him ; nay, he hath wooed
thee as a young man doth a virgin, and if
thou hadst devoted thyself to him, he would
have gathered and saved thee, and rejoiced
over thee as a bridegroom doth over his brlde^
But if thou turnest thy back upon all his re-
proofs, entreaties and endearments, as in the
parable of the five foolish virgins, in the time
when he, the Bridegroom, calls to an account,
he will not know thee otherwise than to shut
thee out of his presence and favour, notwith-
standing whatever thou mayest have heard,
received or done, if thou continues to work
wickedness, and art not reclaimed therefrom.

These things sprang in my mind as a warn-
ing for all, to flee from every destructive thing,
before the Lord overtakes them, when they
cannot escape his hand of justice ; and also,
that the faithful may be encouraged in well-
doing, and to a faithful perseverance to the
end. Amen.

Some things which have been omitted, I
think proper to insert here, as worthy oi ob-
servation. As I was travelling towards Lin-
coln, and passing through Brig, Friends gave
me notice that there were two great disputants,
a non-conformist minister, and a doctor of
physic, who were likely to go all or most of
the way with me, as the assizes were coming
on, and would be at me with arguments about
religion, which Tsoon found true. We no
sooner got into a suitable way but they began
with me, which I endeavoured to prevent by
telling them, I did not look upon myself to be
qualified for disputes; and observed, that some-
times disputants ended in a worse understand-
ing one of another than when they began,
except they minded well to keep good govern-
ment; and now as we appeared free and
friendly, how we might be when we had
ended our dispute, was a question, therefore I
had rather they would forbear. But they



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116



LIFE OF JOHN RICHARDSON.



turned the deaf ear to all I said, and nothing
would do with them, but a dispute we must
have. I then asked them, what they would
say. They queried, whether all men were
placed in a station capable of salvation, yea
or nay. I replied, if I should give my positive
thoughts to your question, we shall have oc-
casion to go back to treat of the nature, not
only of the upright state man was in before
he fell, but also how he fell ; and also in the
fall, how he stands as in relation to his re-
storation, which brings us to the question.
Although this be not the usual way of dis-
putants, yet if you will submit to it, it will
either answer your question, or set it in a
clearer light for an answer. They asked,
how could that be; I replied, if it did not,
they might say so. They then so far conde-
scended as to hear me. I said, first, we all
agree in this, that man was made upright;
seconclly, that he fell from that uprightness ;
the question then is, How? Ans. By the ofience
or disobedience of the first man Adam, sin
entered, and condemnation came upon all who
have sinned. I then queried of the disputants,
whether they believed that Adam's fall did
afiect all those who did not hear of it, as well
as those who did ; for, I said, there were some
of opinion^ that those who had not the explicit
or outward knowledge of the promised seed
or coming of Christ, had not the benefit of
his coming; and except they would first allow,
that all were afiected or hurt by Adam's fall,
then such as were not, remained in paradise
to this day, except they would make the reme-
dy less than th6 disease, the plaster less than
the sore, and Christ's coming less extensive
than Adam's fall. I argued, that upon the
foot of reason, as well as what we had in
plain Scripture, [the effect of] Christ's com-
ing was as extensive as the fall of Adam, for,
by the obedience of Christ, the gtfl of God
came upon all unto justification.

Now I think, said I, your question is set in
a clear light for an answer, or else answered ;
so take it at what end you will, laying aside
all quibbling, I intend to join issue with you,
and prove that all men are placed in a station
capable of salvation ; or otherwise you will
leave a great part of the world in paradise,
or make the coming of Christ less extensive
than the fall of Adam. I then queried, what
they said to all this; they answered, they
never heard the like before, and they would
not meddle with me, I was too great a scholar
for them. I said, there was little of scholar-
ship in it. I offered, I thought, nothing but
plain Scripture and sound reason : and I told
them, I had now as good as answered their
question, and had given several reasons to
back my answer, and as they appeared wise,



well-read men, and as far as I had gathered,
had been principled against universal salva-
tion and universal grace, for them now to
drop the matter so slenderly, before me who
appeared but like a child to them, was very
surprising : but they replied, they would not
meddle with me.

I commended them for their good temper
and civility, for they were civil to me beyond
what I could expect ; and invited me to the
burial of one of their deceased friends, but I
could not go, for I was in haste to get to Lin-
coln, having some business there that hastened
me. At parting with them, my soul magni-
fied the Lord, under a sense of his goodness
to me, in that he had opened my way, and
helped me through this difficulty, with many
other trials and afflictions I had met with.

I had at another time some reasonings with
a Papist who was my neighbour, about their
church and transubstantiation, with several
other things. As to the first, I showed him,
that the true church fied into the wilderness,
where she was for times, time, and half a
time; in this state we do not read she had
any outward character as a visible church;
and if they derived their descent, it was from
some false church, and not through the true
one. As to the other, they took too much
upon them, more than they could justify from
Scripture, or clearly demonstrate from Christ
or his apostles ; for Christ never gave any of
them such a commission, as to convert bread
and wine into real flesh and blood, and then
to call it Christ. You, said I, by these no-
tions, deceive yourselves and your adherents ;
for Christ spoke unto such as you by parables,
because they were carnal, and did not under-
stand the meaning of his sayings in this case
any more than the Jews understood what
Christ meant, when he spoke of destroying
this temple, meaning his body, which they
understood was of that temple at Jerusalem,
which they made a great wonder at, and said.
How can this be, that he can destroy this
temple, and raise it up again in three days,
when it was forty-eight years in building?
Thus they reasoned carnally, as Nicoderous,
though a ruler of the Jews, did concerning
regeneration or the new birth; and as the
woman of Samaria did, when she asked from
whence Christ should have that living water,
which he spoke of, that should be in man as
a well of living water, springing up unto ever-
lasting life ; and as the Jews did, when Christ
said, <' Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of
man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in
you;" they said. How can this be, that he
can give us his flesh to eat, and his blood to
drink? But this is a spiritual eating and drink-
ing; even as Christ said, <'Out of the belly



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LIFE OF JOHN RICHARDSON.



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of him that believes, shall flow rivers of liv-
ing waters ;" which he spake of the Spirit.
Id like manner it is said in the Revelation,
*« Behold I stand at the door and knock, if any
man hear my voice, and open unto me, I will
come in and sup with him, and he with me.*'
Here is an union of spirit between Christ and
his faithful children, and here is an inward
eating and drinking of the heavenly, spiritual,
and mystical flesh and blood of Christ, which
carnal men cannot eat of, neither can the car-
nal eye discern Christ's spiritual body, which
he feeds his living and spiritual church withal.
When I had reasoned with the man to this
efiect, he went away seemingly not pleased,
but would not from that time ever meddle
with me any more.

I need not say much here about Christ's
being come ; having showed, in a conference
in New England, how he is come to answer
his eating and drinking the passover and last
supper, with his disciples, saying, He would
drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until
he drank it new with them in his Father's
kingdom. Now he that hath experienced
what this eating and drinking is, is come be-
yond the outward eating and drinking, into
the kingdom which is within, which comes
not with outward observations, eating, drink-
ing, or carnal ordinances, but the kingdom of
heaven consists in righteousness, peace and
joy in the Holy Ghost.

Read this thou that canst, and learn to un-
derstand between the thing that points, and
the thing which is pointed at, and between the
thing signifying, and the thing signified, and
mistake not the shadow for the substance any
longer ; for it is possible a man may do all
the outward parts, and yet be ignorant of the
cross of Christ, and of the heavenly substance.
But if he is come to the end of these outside
things, to the Holy of Holies, such will know
what it is to minister before the Lord in his
temple, and to serve and wait at the holy altar,
and live, and have that pure spiritual life pre-
served. We read not of any tithes that ap-
pertain to this spiritual priesthood, or Gospel
ministry; and what their outward maintenance
was to be, is showed by Christ, beyond con-
tradiction, who sent them forth : where they
were received, (mark that well,) they might
eat such things as were set before them, but
were not to take any thing from them by
force, for that is out of the doctrine and prac-
tice of Christ and his apostles.

Why do people call the Scripture their rule
of faith and manners, when at the same time
they believe and act contrary thereto ? When
I had, some years before, a debate with the
priest of our parish, we meeting at Sponton,
being there upon some occasion, and several



people met together, the priest demanded my
reasons, why I did not pay him his tithe. I
used some persuasive arguments to put him
off, not being willing at that time to enter into
a debate with him ; but the niore I showed
my unwillingness to it, the more urgent he
was upon me. So when I could not see bow
to avoid entering into some close debate with
him, I desired he would not be angry, and he
said he would not. I then showed in several
particulars, why I could not pay him tithes,
because I believed if he was a minister of
Jesus Christ, he ought not to claim any ; for,
as there was a change of the priesthood, there
also must be of necessity a change of the law,
as we see in Heb. vii. 12, and to pretend to
draw any command or example from Christ
or his apostles, out of the New Testament,
for that purpose, appears to me weak and in-
consistent.

We had some farther discourse upon the
ground of his right to tithes, whether jure du
vinoy as they used to be formerly claimed ; or
jvre humanOf that is, by human law, as most
of the modern priests seem to choose to fix
their title. I bid him fix his right for tithes
on which claim he pleased, and I would en*
deavour to answer him as well as I could ;
but he seemed not to fix upon either. Where-
upon I told him, there was no Scripture set-
tlement of tithes upon Gospel ministers ; and
also offered to prove, that he was neither in
the practice of the Levites, to whom tithes
were directed to be paid, nor yet in the prac-
tice of those ministers whom Christ qualified,
ordained and sent forth. First, not in the
practice of the Levites; because the tithes
due to them,- were for their punctual perform-
ance of their part of the ceremonial law.
Numb, xviii. 21, which if any now claimed,
it seemed to me, that he subjected himself to
the practice of burnt-of!erings and sacrifices,
circumcision, Jewish habits, washings, &c.,
l]^ides which) the law which appointed the
tithe to the Levites, expressly forbids them to
have any share or inheritance in the land, as
appears from Numb, xviii. 20, 28, 24. and
Deut. xviii. 1,2.; which the modem claimers
of tithe would be loth to be compelled to prac-
tice; not to insist on the law of the third
year's tithe, of which the widow, the father-
less, and the stranger within their gates, were
to receive a considerable part as their allotted
portion, Deut. xiv. 28, 29. Secondly, not in
the practice of those ministers whom Christ
qualified and sent forth ; for these went out
by an especial command from him, without
gold, silver, or brass in their purses, and
without two coats; and so intent were they
to be in the execution of their great duty of
preaching the Gospel, that they were to salute



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118



LIFE OF JOHN RICHARDSON.



no man by the way, but to go forward on the
great errand they had received in commission:
and when they returned to their Lord, he asked
them, if they lacked any thing : and they said
nothing. Not because they had forced a main^
tenancc from any, but that the effect of their
ministry among their hearers had been so
prevalent, that those who had been convinced
by their doctrine, and turned to the effectual
power of Christ in themselves, had from thence
known their hearts so opened, as to administer
to all their immediate necessities; and these,
thus sent, only eat such things as were set
before them, as they were appointed ; and
where they had sown spirituals, had only
reaped of the temporals of their converts (or
their immediate subsistence. But though thou
sowest not to me of thy spirituals, nor do I
believe thee to be one who hast any thing
spiritual, which can be of any benefit to my
spiritual part ; and though thou esteemest me
as an heathen man and a publican, and I am
excommunicated and cut oflT from any church-
fellowship with thee, not for any evil, but as
far as I can understand, for not coming to
what thou callcst the church, yet thou expect-
est to reap of my temporals, because the law
of the land has given thee that power ; which
disposition to reap where thou hast not sown,
and to gather where thou hast not strewn, is
far from manifesting a Christian spirit.

The priest farther urged some passages out
of the New Testament, in vindication of the
payment of tithes, alluding to that of the apos-
tle, 1 Cor. ix. 7, about sowing of spiritual
things unto us ; that it was but a small thing
if such received of our carnal things; and
that of feeding a flock, and partaking of the
milk of the flock; and of planting a vineyard,
and eating the fruit thereof: all which I en-
deavoured to obviate, by showing, that he did
not sow his spirituals to us, so that he might
be entitled to our carnal things ; neither were
we of that flock which he should partake of
the milk of; neither were we a vineyard
which he had planted, that he might eat of
the fruit thereof. Furthermore I said, I am a
stranger, and an excommunicated person, and
not of thy children ; the apostles, if they wanted
or were in any strait for necessaries, did not
apply to strangers for help, but to such of
their children in whom they had been instru-
mental in the hand of God to plant the true
faith, and sow the seed of the kingdom. These
who were thus convinced, and by the work of
God's power converted, were such who knew
spiritual things sown in them, who I believed
were very free to- distribute, where need was,
of their temporal things, especially to such
who had been instrumental in the Lord's hand



to their coming to the saving knowledge of
Jesus Christ. But I showed the priest, that
all this carried no analogy to what was be-
tween him and me, for I being excommuni-
cated, was but to him as an heathen man and
a publican, and as we never came to hear
him, we could not owe him any acknowledge
ment, nor could he expect any thing as a free*
will ofiering on that account.

The priest was a strong-spirited man, of
considerable parts and learning ; and a neigh«
bouring justice of the peace told me, he was
fearful would be very severe with me ; yet to
his commendation be it spoken, he was ever
afler this conference very loving, and never
gave me any trouble for what he called bis
dues.

I may add one observation or two not men-



Online LibraryWilliam EvansThe Friends' library: comprising journals, doctrinal treatieses, & other writings of members of the religious Society of Freinds → online text (page 26 of 104)