William Evans.

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

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women, and sometimes children spoke a few
words in prayer; and we were sometimes
greatly bowed and broken before the Lord, in
humility and tenderness. To one of these
meetings in the year 1654, came dear John
Au'dland and John Camm, messengers of the
ever living God. And by John Audland's
powerful ministry, committed to him by the
Lord, I was reached and turned to the Spirit
of God, which had discovered my state unto
me, as before-mentioned; and the testimony
that was borne by these messengers was rea-
dily received, and as I kept to this spirit, to
which I was turned, I saw a separation made
between light and darkness, the day and the
night, the precious and the vile. And as my
mind loved the light, judgment was set up in
my heart, even laid to the line, and righteous-
ness to the plummet; I was brought into great

dread, fear and awe of God, and had great
esteem and regard to his messengers, who
brought the acceptable tidings of life and sal-
vation ; and through whom doctrine dropped
as the dew. | As their words were gracious
words, so was there a great fear in my heart
of rebelling against any part of that counsel
I received from them. I now saw a long tra-
vel through the administration of condemna-
tion, which indeed was glorious in its time ;
and as I kept down to the judgment of the
Lord in my heart, the operation whereof was
as a sword, a fire and a hammer, the evil na-
ture was in some measure overcome; and
then something of Divine refreshment and
love flowed in, which refreshed me in my
travels. But now the old subtle enemy be-
gan to lay snares and hunt after my soul,
which was in some measure rescued out of
the jaws of death ; so that when I had pre-
cious openings of the way of Truth, through
which a secret hope and joy sprang, the ene-
my led me out from sinking down into a sweet
enjoyment and treasuring up, to spend my
own bread in disputes for Truth, against op-
posers ; and to declare of it to those that had
some love for it.' And when I had thus
spent the bread which was given me only to
strengthen my own soul, when I came home
and communed with my own heart, and came
to stillness, I saw myself quite empty, having
leaked out that which was given for my re-
freshment and consolation ; and my Beloved
was withdrawn. Then distress took hold of
me beyond expression, and I was -greatly
bowed down; and having an understanding
of the cause, was ready to promise that if I
came to my former peace, refreshment and
feeding again, I would not run out prodigally,
nor spend my portion, through which that in-
ward trouble and barrenness came over my
spirit. And here the enemy, who in his trans-
forming had thus led me out, subtilly worked
in the day of my trouble, to bring great dis-
couragements over my spirit, and unbelief.

My soul hath in remembrance the great anx-
iety of spirit, and sense of the withdrawings
and hidings of the Lord's face, and the veil
that came over. I was thus led out in a zeal,
not according to knowledge, which the power
gives in its leadings ; and when I had pro-
mised and then broke covenant, I was pur-
sued for a covenant breaker. But in time
the Lord helped me over this exercise, and I
came to stand as a fool, and to sit in silence
before the Lord among his people, rather than
to wrong my condition, and grieve the Spirit
of God. When I thus kept obedient to wis-
dom's directings, a secret joy would spring,
and pure peace and inward ease. But when
I felt life and joy, so that the light of the Lord

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shioed on my tabernacle^ for want of keeping
low in humility, where the growth in the
Truth is» the enemy wrought subtilly again,
to persuade that there was not that need of a
severe watch and inward exercise, as former-
ly; through which be prevailed sometimes, to
lead out into a liberty, inward and outward,
that bad a tendency to bring again into inward
bondage. Through frequent refreshings, open-
ings, prophecies and promises, I was ready to
conclude my mountain was immoteable ; but
soon I found a withdrawing of the Lord's pre-
sence ; then I knew a winter again, and the
storms of the enemy; and not having yet
learned to be contented in want, as well as in
abounding, I not oniy fell into a poor murmur-
ing state, but also into great trouble, in a sense
of this change ; and fears and doubts were
ready to enter. I tcHled in this night, but
could catch nothing which administered any
comfort that was lasting ; and here I was wil-
ling and running, and striving, being in great
fear and sorrow ; and the more I toiled, kind-
ling sparks of my own, the more my sorrow
was increased ; for as yet I had not learned
the state of resignation. And now being
brought very low, and having mourned many
days in the s^ise of the withdrawings of the
presence, love and power of my God, being
in deep distress and amazement, Israel's tra-
vels in the wilderness were opened to me, how
the Lord tried them with want of bread and
water; and that their happiness stood in being
contented and resigned to the will of God, and
in the belief of the Lord's faithfulness, to have
endured the trial; but they murmured, and
thereby grieved the Spirit of God ; so did I.
But through the loving kindness of God, the
state of resignation was opened to me, in
wbbh man stood before he fell through trans-
gression, into his own workings and witlings;
and when my understanding was thus opened,
my soul cried unto the Lord my God, Oh !
preserve me in pure patience and passiveness,
and in living, acceptable obedience, and I will
trust in thee.

As I believed in the light of the Lord, and
therein was comprehended and resigned, God's
pure power, love and life broke in as former-
ly, which greatly refreshed me ; then the sun
shone upon my tabernacle, and I bowed before
the Lord, blessing and praising bis holy glo-
rious name. Then the Lord instructed me,
and his pure Spirit and power opened in me
the way of preservation, which was to centre
down into true humility ; and my soul began
to be as the dove that found a place for the
sole of her feet; yet the enemy continued to
tempt by his allurements, and so laid bis baits
and snares, that if at any time I was drawn
to look abroad, and went out to view, I was

Vol- IV.— No- 4.

in great danger of being defiled. For I found,
if at any time I went out from this pure pre-
serving power of God, that had wrought in
ray soul, through inexpressible travail, and let
in the spirit of the world, and reasoned, and
thereby beheld a beauty in any fruit, but what
was brought forth by the tree of life, then
came over me a wound, a stain and defile*
ment. And if at any time the enemy pre-
vailed in the inward ground, to cause a cleav-
ing to his temptations, through the lusts of the
flesh or the lust of the eye, then I was afVaid,
because of inward wrath; and the power of
the Lord in love to my soul, wrought mightily,
to sanctify and cleanse it again. I passed
through this inward exercise, when no friend
or intimate acquaintance knew of it. Oh ! I
remember the nights of bitter sorrow that I
passed, when no defilement could be discerned
by any, I walking blamelessly anrang men.
For in the great love of God to my soul, in
those days of inward travail and exercise,
judgment followed presently upon the outgoing
of my mind; and ad I kept single to the Lord,
and upright in heart, not joining to any iniqui-
ty, I found the Lord near at hand in many
exercises that happened in our city and else-
where, end through the working of the power
of darkness in James Naylor, and the run-
nings forth of John Perrot and others. God
let me, who was but a young lad, see through
all those subtle workings and transformings,
and by a secret hand preserved me. Of
those trying times, I have not much upon me
to leave in writing ; those things are known
unto the Lord as well as the ends, the causes
and permission, and letting loose of the enemy.
GodT hath willed the keeping low of his people
in every generation ; and he hath by his power
secretly struck at every thing that hath a ten-
dency to rob him of his honour* He delights
in the humble, and dwells with the broken-
hearted and contrite in Spirit; and in this
state is safety and preservation to us in this
age, and this will be their safety in succeed^
ing ages. Through these exercises of which
I have hinted, Thave learned from the begin-
ning of the work of restoration and redemp-
tion, that every one's preservatk>n is in inward
retiredness unto the Lord, and in his pure
fear, awe and dread, to keep low, feeling aAer
his soul-redeeming, preserving power, which
quickens, enlivens, and as it is abode in, keeps
alive in its own pure nature, over the world,
its spirit and defilement.

I have a sense upon my spirit beyond utter-
ance, of the potent workings of the enemy
in the generations of mankind, to accomplish
his end, viz : That after the Lord God Al-
mighty hath appeared in any age, in the free
dispensings of his love, and the breakings

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forth of his power, and the making bare of
his arm, ia order to restore man into covenant
with God; then hath the enemy appeared with
all his power, subtilly, gradually and hiddenly,
to undermine and frustrate the work of God.
His great end has been by different snares
to draw into a lessening of the estimation, in
the visited people, of the power, appearance and
manifestation of God in their day, and to draw
out the mind by his transformings, into an es-
teem of the manifestation that hath been, or
a strange affectation of what may or is to ap-
pear ; leading the ihind out of a due regard
to the present manifestation, which alone works
the eternal welfare of the creature. This was
their case to whom it was said, ** Oh ! that
you knew, even in this your day, the things
that belong to your peace." This I have
learned of the Lord, and therefore leave it
both to Friends, to whom it may come in this
age, and to God's people in the following
generations of the world.

Afler many years travel in spirit, as before
hinted, in the year 1670, and the thirty-third
year of my age, God Almighty raised me up
by his power, that had been working in my
heart many years, to preach the everlasting
Gospel of life and salvation. Then a fresh
exercise began, for the enemy tempted me to
withstand the Lord, to look to my own weak-
ness of body and spirit, and insufficiency for
such a great work ; and such was the preva-
lency of the enemy of my soul, that had not
the Lord God, in his inexpressible love stood
by me, bore with me, and helped me, I had
perished afler all, through disobedience. For
when the power of Grod fell upon me, and a
few words were required of me to speak in
the assemblies of the Lord's people in Bristol,
I reasoned that they were a wise people, and
how could it be I should add to them ; that I
might hurt myself; that imaginations might
be the ground of such requirings ; and that
many wise men therein might look upon me
as a forward lad, and so judge me; and I thus
reasoned many times through some meetings,
until I was in sore distress. When such meet-
ings were over, wherein I had been disobedi-
ent, my burthen was great. Oh ! then I was
ready to engage and covenant with the Lord,
that if I felt the requirings of his power again,
I would faithfully give up in obedience to him;
but when I was tried again, the same rebellious
mind would be stirred by the power of the
enemy. Then hath the Lord withdrawn the
motion and the feeling of his power, and all
refreshnoent with it, and hid his face ; and I
have been in great sorrow, having a sense of
others feeding on the bread of life in our meet-
ings, and drawing the water of life, but my
soul was without* and great bars over, and as

it were a sealing down under darkness. I be-
held the displeasure of the Lord, and was
bowed down in great anguish ; my soul cried
to the Lord to try me again with the break-
ing in of his power, and to give me a clear
knowledge of his requirings, and I would
obey him : then the Li)rd God of life heard
my cry again, and opened my heart that was
fast shut. And when I began to feel the
power of God to stir in my inward man, I
was glad on the one hand, but very sorrowful
on the other, fearing lest I should be rebellious
again. So hard was it for me to open my
mouth in those meetings of Bristol, that had
not the Lord caused his power to be manifest
in my heart, as new wine in a vessel that
wanted vent, and so broke through forcibly
many times, I might have perished ; but the
Lord had regard to my state, and knew the
people's state among whom I was gathered,
and first brought forth. But when, by the
great love and power of my God, I had
broken through, the enemy's snares were ma-
nifest ; for which my soul praised the Lord
God of my life ; and I have been, and am of-
ten broken in the sense of his goodness to me
when a child, nay as a worm. In the sense
thereof, at this time, even in the fresh remem-
brance of thy love, I bless and magnify, and
extol thy name, oh Lord 1 who art God, and
doth good, and art worthy of all fear, obedi-
ence and reverence, and honour, for ever and

Afler I had through the goodness, love and
power of God, gotten dommion in a measure
over that which did let, I faithfully gave up
liberty, estate, relations, and all to my God,
and was drawn forth in the assemblies of the
Lord's people in the city of Bristol, and the
places adjacent. As I gave up in obedience,
I found my way made easier, and the enemy
that would have hindered me, more and more
conquered; so in the year 1670, I received
this commission from God, Run through the
nation, and visit my breathing bruised birth,
which I begat among my people, in the day
of their first tender visitation. Proclaim my
acceptable year and day of perfect deliverance
to my breathing tender birth, and my day of
vengeance to come upon all that have bruised
it ; either among my people, or in the world.
Then cried I unto the Lord, How shall I visit
thy people in these times, when the rod of the
wicked is upon their backs; and almost every
where endeavouring, through violence, to scat-
ter the assemblies of thy people ? How shall
I meet with them ? And the Lord said. Go, I
will prosper thy way ; and this present exer-
cise which is over my people, shall be as a
morning cloud, and I will be to them as the
tender dew, through the land. Then I bowed

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before the Lord, and travelled in obedience to
his command ; and from the latter end of the
tenth month, 1670, to the 20th of the twelfth
month, 1672, I waa at about four hundred

[During this long journey in the service of
the Gospel, he visited most parts of England,
was several times in London, and also at his
own home for short periods; during one of
which he was so ill that his life was despaired
of, and at another he met with a close trial in
the loss of his child ; but he appears to have
been remarkably preserved and supported by
that Divine power in whom were his trust and

The 31st of the twelfth month, 1672, I
came home, where I was ill about thirteen
days; and after visiting a few meetings in
Wiltshire, I went to Bristol, where I was at
several meetings, and in the country adjacent^

In my travels many were convinced, and
the mouths of gainsayers stopped ; and the
Spirit of Grod fell on divers, who have now a
testimony to hear for his name. I was many
times brought very low in my body, even to
the brink of the grave; yet God Almighty, in
loving kindness, raised me up again ; particu-
larly twice, in a marvellous manner. Great
were the trials, sorrows, difficulties and jeop-
ardies, inwardly and outwardly, that I went
through, which God Almighty only knows ;
and great were his deliverances many ways,
viz : in Lancashire, near Margaret Fox's, I
was wonderfully preserved, with four more ;
for being come down to the sea«shore, in order
to cross the sands, two persons who lived on
the other side informed us, we might go over
safely, and nothing appeared to the contrary;
but when I attempted to go, I was stopped in
my mind, and waiting a season on the Lord,
I was forbidden to go; and it was showed me,
that if any attempted to go at that time, they
would perish ; which caused me to hinder
passengers from going ; and in about an hour
the sea overflow^ ; so that if we had gone,
in all likelihood we had perished; which
when some who were there saw, they were
greatly tendered, and magnified the name of
the Lord.

In visiting the city of London, I left a paper,
a copy whereof here foUoweth :

''A warning to the people that have lent
their ear to the declaration of the Truth, and
have not received it in the love of it.

**A warning to those convinced of the
Truth, who have not subjected themselves
thereto in pure living obedience.

*'A warning to all that have begun in the
Spirit, and set their faces Zionward, that they
neither return back into Egypt, spiritually so
called, nor sit down by the way.

^*The dreadful day of God's vengeance
proclaimed, in which all professors and pro-
fessions shall be tried, the floor thoroughly
purged, and the wheat fanned, and the gold
iried, and the day of God upon all images
and likenesses.

*^A treading down of all that which is risen
through a loss of the ancient eternal power*

**A day of calamity, misery, amazement
and distress, to come upon the inhabitants of
the city of London, and of sorrow upon the
nation of England ; and after this the day of
gathering through the nations, of the dispersed
of Israel, and the scattered of Jacobs"

In the name and authority of God Almighty,
I also cleared my conscience of the city of
Bristol, and have not kept back the counsel of
the Lord from them; but in the power and
demonstration of his Spirit, in all plainness,
declared the Truth as it is in Jesus, manifest*
ing the many snares of the enemy that attend
Friends of that city ; and am clear of the
blood of the inhabitants thereof, and of all
professing Truth therein; and am assured,
that a day of deep trial will come upon many
of its^ inhabitants; and, as was my testimony
to the city of London, so was it to the city of

In my travels through the land, there were
many attempts made for my imprisonment;
but the Lord was with me, and his word was
as a fire in my bones, to run through the land;
and he helped roe in spiritual battle with the
enemy of the souls of men ; and although the
laws were then put in execution against dis*
senters, that empowered the magistrate to fine
the owner of the house where a meeting was
hetd, twenty pounds; and five shillings for
every person present, with twenty pounds for
the preacher ; and those accounted able, were
to pay the fines of the poor, and the informer
to have a third part ; yet, in this time of sore
persecution, in my passage through cities,
towns, and all the counties in England, no
man was sufl!ered to lay hands on me, to stop
my way; neither did any man, that I know of,
lose five pounds on my account, through the
nation. Which I leave to posterity, not out
of any glory to self, but to magnify and exalt
the holy power of the Lord, and that many
travellers, yet to be raised up, may be re-
freshed, and trust in the Lord Jehovah, in
whom is everlasting strength. Although he
call to hard things, yet is he not an hard
Master, for he gives power to all that believe
and trust in him, whose right arm of salvation
hath done glorious things in our day; unto
whom be given everiasting, ever-living praises,
honour, holy thanksgiving and renown, for
ever and ever.

Afler this, I did not travel so constantly.

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Aor keep an account of many remarkable
things and deliverances that I met with in my
travels; but this I can say in truth, and in the
presence of my God, that opened the door of
people's hearts so effectually, that I believe
thousands received the word of life, and many
were added to the church in divers places.
Some meetings were settled where there was
never a Friend before ; in one place, a whole
meeting was convinced at one time; and I
never heard that any of them turned back,
but were faithful unto the Lord. The tender-
ness I have seen in many places through the
land, and the watering showers of life that
descended on the Lord's plantation, are be-
yond expression. Many that were apostatized
and backslidden were effectually reached and
brought back again ; so that I may say, the
Lord was with me, and made way for me, ac-
cording to his word before I went forth ; and
I continued labouring, until John Story and
John Wilkinson, with their adherents, opposed
the order and discipline that was then set up
in the churches of Christ.

This opposition was carried on eagerly,
under a specious pretence of standing up
against imposition ; but it took its origin from
some going into a singular spirit, and getting
into undue liberty, endeavouring to lead others
into the same ; a fearful, slothful spirit, that
turned from the power of the Lord, and a
daily dependence on its fresh arising and
quickening — retaining a ministry of the doc-
trinal part of Truth, in a dry and dead spi-
rit, endeavouring to lay waste the Quarterly,
Monthly, Yearly, and Women's meetings, by
opposing the settled methods thereof; calling
them forms and an idol ; when indeed it was
the same Divine power and wisdom which gath-
ered us to be a people, that caused the set-
ting up and settling good order and discipline
amongst us ; to take care of the poor, widows
and fatherless, and for due proceeding in that
great concern of marriage, and other things
relating to the service of Truth and welfare
of the church.

Great was the travel of our ancient and
honourable Friend, George Fox, in this weighty
concern, in the first breaking forth of Truth
in this age ; several other brethren were also
deeply concerned in settling meetings in the
said good order, and we found the Lord with
us in our work and service.

The power of the Lord worked thus to set-
tle us in a good order, that we might appear
to the world to be guided by his widom ; being
found in the form of godliness, as it arose from
the power of it inwardly in the soul. But the
enemy, that would have had us a people in
confusion, and a Babel instead of a Zion,
wrought in the earthly, sensual wisdom of

some loose-spirited men, who had lost their
sense of the leadings of the Almighty ; and
brought them into a false imagination, that we
were going from the inward guidance of God's
Spirit, to set up forms like other professions,
thereby leaving the light of Christ Jesus,
which was to be every man's guide in faith
and practice. Hereupon they endeavoured,
with all their strength, to break down and lay
waste the meetings before-mentioned, crying,
that imposition on conscience was the cause
of their separation ; when in truth it was an
opposition by the power of darkness working
in themselves, whereby they were quickly
benighted ; and many ran into their errors.

This spirit brought great affliction and tra-
vail upon some, in the beginning of its work*
ings'in Westmoreland, and in Bristol, Wilt-
shire, Gloucestershire, and some other places.
Great were the disorders it made in Bristol
and Wiltshire ; because of which, the Lord
concerned me, with other faithful brethren, in
his name and power to make war against it, in
great travail, tears and distress of spirit, for se-
veral years together, running in between the
living and the dead, travelling in those coun-
ties, Gloucestershire, Somersetshire, Berkshire
and London, for several years. I can say,
the Lord God that guided me to travel in his
name and dread through the land, was with
me in this day of deep exercise ; and I have
cause, in great bowings of spirit, to magnify
his glorious name, who preserved me faithful
over all discouragement. My bow he made
strong, and my quiver he daily replenished
with arrows ; my soul he caused to be as it
were baptized for the dead, as one eating the
bread of adversity, and drinking the water of
affliction, sparing neither strength nor sub-

To B great height of opposition did this
spirit of division rise in divers instruments.
The clouds were so thick, and the mist of
darkness so great, that many poor sheep were
in danger of becoming a prey to the wolf and
devourer. The honest-hearted were grieved

Online LibraryWilliam EvansThe Friends' library: comprising journals, doctrinal treatieses, & other writings of members of the religious Society of Freinds → online text (page 29 of 104)