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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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nities in the city of London, she said she
should be glad to hear that I fVequented their
assemblies ; with other words relating thereto.
I quartered then in Pall-mall, not far from the
court

My companion then was a pretty sober
young matky who professed himself to be a
Presbyterian, with whom I was sometimes a
little too jocular in a bantering way. He was
with me when the letter came to my hands,
which I read to myself; but coming to the
words that advised me to go to the Quakers'
meetings, the evil-nature got up in me, and
put me into such a passion that I could read
no further, but put the letter into my pocket.
This was on the sixth-day of the week, and I
think in the year 1671. The first-day follow-
ing, afler I had dined, I went to take a walk
under the arches in Covent-garden, and afler
a little time a solid concern came over my
Vol. IV.— No. 0.



mind, and this arose in my thoughts. What is
the matter that thou canst not read thy mo-
ther's letter? With that I went and sat down
on a large stone that was prepared for a build-
ing, and read the letter with pleasure, and it
arose in my mind to go to a meeting. The
enemy of all righteousness suggested to me.
Thou k newest not where a meeting is ; but it
very intelligibly opened on my understanding,
Go down to Charing-cross, and there thou
shalt see some of that people, follow them.

Upon this I arose and went down the Hay«
market near to Charing-cross, and there I saw
dye or six of the said people ; which was a
confirmation to me that the opening was right*
So I followed them at some distance, and their
habit, with their solid behaviour, aflected me.
They were going to the meeting at Westmin-
ster, and when they came there they went in,
but I stood at the door for awhile. Here the
enemy was at work again, and would have
persuaded me to go away, intimating, that if
some of my old acquaintance came, they
would but laugh at me; but the better part
prevailed.

The meeting was then kept in two parts,
there being shutters to open into the dwelling-
house to enlarge it upon occasion ; and I see-
ing a post in the further room, thought if I
cot behind that, and any person came to the
first door they could not see me ; so thither I
went accordingly, and the meeting, I think,
was not then much above half gathered.
Abundance of reasoning now entered into
my mind, and the enemy was hard at work
to beget a belief in me, that if any one stood
up to speak, they might be persons of other
persuasions, and not Quakers, and I could
not be capable of judging whether they were
right or wrong. It was not long before one
stood up, and I thought to take good notice of
what he said, but so many wandering thoughts
prevailed, that I got no benefit thereby. He
sat down, and in a little time another stood
up, and I said to myself, Well, I resolve I will
mind what this man says ; but it was only a
few minutes before my wandering thoughts
got into Holland, and from thence I thought
of going to France ; but meeting with a se-
cret check in myself for these vain imagina-
tions, I gave a stamp upon the floor with my
foot, which caused the eyes of those in the
meeting to be upon me: so in fervency of
spirit I said in myself. What is the matter
that I cannot be master over my own mind ?

I saw I was altogether wrong, and wanted
inward strength to help me to get to a stayed-
ness of mind upon God. I was made sensi-
ble that there was a spiritual warfare to be
passed through, and that no stayedness of
mind could be attained to, till the inward ene-
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LIFE OF BENJAMIN BANGS-



mies of the soul came to be destroyed. I
now saw my business was, to get into inward
letirement, hoping thereby I might get to be
somewhat master over my own mind. Being
thus closely engaged, before the meeting broke
up, I got to a sight of the possibility of ob-
taining what I was then deeply engaged for,
and this answered the end of my coming to
the meeting; and I could then have wished
that it would hold longer.

But it breaking up, when I came into Wesi-
minster-abbey»yard, I met with some of my
old acquaintance, who would have had me go
along with them, but I denied their invitation,
finding I had another work to do, and went
home to my quarters, where I hiad not been
long, before the young man my companion
also came in. I was sitting in . a very solid
frame of mind, such as he never observed me
in before, and he said. Where have you been
to-day, you seem to be so serious? I proceeded
to give him an account of what I had met
with, and reminded him of the temper I was
in at the reading of my mother's letter. Aye,
said he, I saw you was under some dissatis-
faction, but I knew not for what. Why, said
I, it was for my mother's desiring me to go
to the Quakers' meeting, which begot such
anger in me, that I had not patience to read it
through : but this day, walking in Covent-
garden, a sweet visitation from the love of
God brought such a calmness over my mind,
with this attending it, What is the matter that
thou canst not read thy mother's letter? I
then plucked it out of my pocket and read it
with pleasure. And giving him the whole re-
lation of what passed, he was struck with ad-
miration, saying to me, he had never heard
any thing like it ; that it must be something
supernatural, or it never could have had such
an efiect upon you. And he was so far reached
and convinced, that ho soon afler forsook his
former profession, and joined himself to the
Quakers.

My country master's brother, who came in
company with us to London, had been con-
vinced some time before this, and by what
means he heard I was at Westminster meeting
on first-day, I know not ; but in a few days
he came to pay me a visit, and finding me
grave and serious, gave me an invitation to
come to his quarters in Grub street, near to
Cripplegate, at the house 'of two good honest
Friends ; the invitation was very pleasing to
me, as was my company to him, and them to
whom I came.

The next meeting I went to was, I think,
the Peel, where I met with our ancient Friend
James Park ; and although I met with little
or no benefit from those two that appeared at
Westminster, yet I thought his doctrine reach*



ed home to my condition. I had some super-
fluity in my apparel, which became such a
load to me, that I thought I groaned under
the weight of it ; and finding 1 could wear it
no longer, after the meeting I stripped it off,
and that gave me some ease.

Several young men who heard of the man-
ner of my convincement, I think through the
young man's relation who was my compan-
ion, were so reached and aflected therewith,
and seeing my grave and solid behaviour,
who they heard had been before very wild,
that they came also to embrace the Truth; so
that I was made very early an instrument for
the convincement of several.

I followed my business closely, yet fre-
quented meetings, where I still met with re-
newed refreshment, and found myself much
bettered by those good opportunities : for the
love of God was greatly towards me, and I
felt a growth in it ; and the overflowing of it
was at times such, that I was ready to think
the work was done, and the inward warfare
nearly come to an end. But, alas 1 I found
myself mistaken.

Going one day to a meeting at Grace-
church-street, where were William Dewsbury
and Charles Harris, the latter stood up, ex-
horting Friends to faithfulness, and to resolve
to do nothing but what was agreeable to the
Truth. I took such notice of that, that I said
in myself, Well, I resolve to do nothing disa-
greeable to the Truth. No sooner had that
resolution passed my thoughts, than I felt a
check in myself and a sensible decay to my
inward enjoyment, which increased gradually
upon me, so that in a short time I came to a
considerable loss. This I took as a permis-
sion of the Almighty to bring me more to the
knowledge of myself.

In this state I continued some time, and my
inward life decaying, I was brought very low
as to my inward enjoyments, which I had
been formerly so plentifully supplied with; so
that I began to grow a little careless, and the
enemy stepped in with it, saying. Thou art
but young, and this is the only time for thee
to take the pleasures of this world, and when
thou art old, thou knows now how to get to
what thou hast been so earnestly engaged to
come to the knowledge of. I continued for
some time in an unconcemedness of mind, by
which I sustained so great a loss, that if I saw
the faces of any of my friends in the street,
I endeavoured to avoid them, for shame co-
vered me, believing they knew what a loss I
was come to.

But aAer a time my merciful Lord remem-
bered me, and as I sat at work, the word of
the Lord came to me. This is thy day, harden
not thy heart; which so struck me that I



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LIFE OF BENJAMIN BANGS.



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trembled. Upon this I soon removed, and
got to my old friends George and Dorcas
Lowe'sy who dwelt not far from Aldersgate.
Now my concern came to be so great, through
losing, by my transgression what I had for-
merly enjoyed, and I so lay under the judg-
ments of God, that if I did but let out my
thoughts towards any liberty, nay, if I did
but smile, I was inwardly reproved ; so that I
saw I had no way to take, but to lie under the
hand of God.

In this state my exercise was very great,
my tongue is too short to express it, and my
pen to describe it ; and the way to get to what
I once enjoyed, I found by experience to be
very narrow. For if I took a wrong step,
either by word or a vain thought, my inward
instructer made it manifest that it did not be-
k)ng to me, I had something else to do. Thus
I continued for some time, being inwardly
very poor and barren, and oflen beseeching
the Almighty, that he would be pleased to fa-
vour me with a small ray from the Sun of
Righteousness, to comfort a little my afflicted
spirit. In this state of affliction the enemy
was not wanting with his temptations, to draw
me into a belief, that the day of my visitation
was over; but having had a knowledge of the
manner of his dealings with me before, I now
kept a strict watch against him in all those
attempts.

In the midst of these afflictions and hard
besetmentS} I now and then met with some
eacouragement, being made sensible of some
springs of life, that helped me to believe that
the Lord would not forsake me. And in this
mournful and retired way of life, I had some
Divine openings, by which it was manifested
to me, that by being brought through these
exercises, I should be the better prepared in
time to be helpful to others.

From this time I began to grow and increase
in that which was good; and feeling the clouds
to disperse, that had been over my mind, the
weight of my oppression began to be gradually
removed, and I felt my spirits grow more
easy. Then my hunger and thirst after righte-
ousness increased, which gave me encourage-
ment to hope that in time all would be well,
and I was so revived through it, that I said in
myself. It is good for me that I have been thus
afflicted, for now I know something of what it
is to buy the Truth ; for it had cost me but
little before this.

Some time after, John Tyson, a Friend who
had been banished for his religion, who dwelt
near the BuU-and-mouth meeting-house, de-
sired me to come to be the foreman in his
shop, which I complied with, upon a certain
salary for four years, which term I continued
with him, and the Lord was with me, and gave



me an understanding to do everything hon-
estly belonging to my place and station, and
all things prospered under my hand. But
being through multiplicity of business kept
very close, I had many times longing desires
to get to a meeting, and there with my Friends
to sit down in a retired manner, out of the
hurry and cares of the things of this world,
for those opportunities were often greatly re-
freshing.

Whilst in this service, I went with some
public Friends to some country meetings on
first-days, which I took more than a little
pleasure in, nott)nly for the benefit I received
of the meeting, but of a little country air,
being still glad of embracing those opportu-
nities. Lucretia Cook, an ancient woman
Friend, who had a public testimony, capoe to
desire me to ride before her to Hendon meet-
ing, which was then pretty large. I did so,
and in the meeting I was under no small con-
cern, and a trembling laid hold of me ; and
as soon as the Friend had concluded in
prayer, I was concerned to kneel down to
supplicate the Lord, which had such an ef-
fect, that many present were broken into ten-
derness ; it was indeed a comfortable oppor-
tunity.

This opened my way to further service,
and I began to be concerned to appear in pub-
lic, and there was a tender care in the elders
over me, who would often be dropping some
seasonable cautions to me, by which I was
greatly benefitted.

After my four years service was accom-
plished, I quitted myself thereof, and a Friend
being inclined to set up in the like business in
the same street, he requested me to be an as-
sistant to him, which I complied with, but it
continued not long ; for I felt drawings in my
mind to visit some meetings in Hertfordshire.
After my return from thence, having met
with good satisfaction in that journey, it came
upon roe to go towards Bristol, and I had the
company of a young roan from Haverill in
Suffolk.

After we left Bristol we travelled into Som-
ersetshire, but he having some pressing occa-
sion to go home, we parted : I took my way
towards Dorsetshire, and coming to Wey-
mouth, had several meetings there; went
from thence to Pool, and so to Ringwood in
Hampshire, where I had several meetings,
and four or five young people were convinced
of the Truth.

I came from thence to Southampton, from
whence, after having had several good oppor-
tunities, I went to the Isle of Wight; and
after having had some meetings there, I re*
turned to Southampton. I found it then my
place to go back again to Ringwood, where



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LIFE OF BENJAMIN BANGS.



Friends, and the young people newly con-
vinced, very gladly received me.

Ader having a meeting there, it opened
upon my mind to go to Leamington, where
were but a few of our Society ; but a meeting
being appointed several went with me, and a
considerable company of the town's people
came to it, some of whom were Baptists.
After a pretty time of silence, I stood up and
began to speak, and the priest of the town
came in with two young men. He sat down
just before me, staid the meeting till I had
done, and then said to me. What you have
said are good and wholesome words, and good
for edification. But you talk of the teachings
of the Spirit of God ; how shall we come by
the Spirit of God? I said, What art thou? He
answered, I am a minister of the Gospel.
What, said I, a minister of the Gospel, and
ask, how we shall come by the Spirit of God?
He that hath not the Spirit of Christ is none
of his ; and as many as are led by the Spirit
of God, they are the sons of God. Why,
that is Scripture, said he. Well, but you say,
that you may live here without sin. Didst
thou hear me say so, said I. No, replied he,
but I have a little book in my study that does
say. That men may attain to a sinless state
on this side the grave. I queried of him,
who wrote that book ? Why, said he, one of
you Quakers, I think his name is Whitehead.
What doctrine, said I, dost thou preach to the
people, is it to continue in, or to come out of
sin ? He answered, To come out of sin ; but
to attain to a state of sinless perfection is im-
possible, for all our righteousness is as filthy
rags. But I hope, said I, that thou wilt not
say, that the righteousness of God is as filthy
rags. No, says he, God forbid I should say
so; but in many things we all sin. That,
replied I, is for want of coming to the one
thing needful. People, says he, we never
read of the one thing needful in all our lives.
Didst thou never read, said I, that Christ told
Martha, she was cumbered in much serving,
but Mary had chosen that good part, the one
thing needful, that should not be taken from
her. Why, said he, that is Scripture too, I
had forgotten it. Well, but, said he, Paul
cried out, Oh ! wretched man that I am I Are
you better than Paul ? Dost thou believe, said
I, that Paul was a sinner, and a wretched one
too, when he wrote that evangelical Epistle to
the Romans? Or, that he could be «o in his
writing in the 24th verse of the seventh chap-
ter, when in the next verse but one, he says,
" There is therefore now no condemnation to
them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not
after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the
law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, hath



made me free from the law of sin and death."
That is Scripture, said he.

After he had sat a little while, Now, says
he, I have something come into my mind, I
think God has brought it to me; *'He that
saith he hath no sin, deceiveth himself, and
the truth is not in him." He then made a
flourish, saying, I have you fast now, I care
not for you, nor all the Quakers in England.
I replied. Thou art an old man, I am very
sorry to find that thou takes upon thee to
plead so much for the devil's kingdom. I tell
you, says he, I don't plead for the devil's king-
dom. Why, said I, thou pleads for nothing
but sin ; and all sin being of the devil, and
thou pleading for nothing but sin, must conse-
quently be a pleader for the devil. This, said
he, is only a digression from the matter; I
have you fast, you can never answer me.
Didst thou ever read the verse before that,
said I. Yes, said he, I believe I have, but I
have forgot it. What is it? Why, it is this,
**]f we walk in the Light, as he is in the
Light, we have fellowship one with ano-
ther, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son,
cleanseth us from all sin." But if we walk
not in the Light, we lose the benefit of the
blood of Christ. If any should then say.
He hath no sin, he deceiveth himself, and the
truth is not in him. The next verse is, ** If
we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to
forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all
unrighteousness." If, afler this, any should
say, '* We have not sinned, we make him a
liar, and his word is not in us. Be not de-
ceived, he that doth righteousness is righte-
ous, even as He is righteous. He that is
born of God sinneth not, neither indeed can
he, for his Seed remaineth in him, and he can-
not sin, because he is born of God. But he
that committeth sin, is of the devil."

I said to the priest. Art not thou now
ashamed to plead so much for sin, which is
of the devil's kingdom? I further queried of
him. Dost thou take money for preaching such
doctrine as this, preaching up the necessity of
sinning to the people, when they do that too
much without thy encouraging them? Upon
which he got up and said. Well, I will be
gone ; but I desired him to stay, and I told
him, I would prove him to be a deceiver be-
fore the people present. He answered, I will
not stay upon your demand. So away he
went, after which the people settled, and we
had a good opportunity, and parted in peace.

I returned that night to Ringwood, from
whence, afler a little stay, I took my way to-
wards London, going by Southampton, and I
there met with our ancient Friend Thomas
Robinson. From thence we went together to



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LIFE OF BENJAMIN BANGS.



221



Portsmouth, where we had a comfortable meet-
ing; and after some few meetings more we
parted, he going to Surry and Sussex, and I
taking some meetings by the way, arrived safe
at London.

After staying some days in London, Wil-
liam Bingley and I went into Kent, passing by
Canterbury to Dover, taking several meetings
in our way, and we had many blessed and
comfortable opportunities to our great satis-
faction. We were at the Quarterly Meeting
of that county, which was pretty large, and
things were managed with a great deal of
calmness and wisdom.

From thence, some meetings being appoint-
ed for us, we visited them, and came to Wor-
minghurst in Sussex, the seat of William
Peon; where staying a night or two, my
companion and I parted, he going further into
the country, but I took my way back directly
for London. After having visited several meet-
ings there, I found my health and strength
much impaired; and having some drawings
in my midd towards Norwich, I set out, and
after taking several meetings by the way, I
got to it in a better state of health than when
I left London, and my dear mother received
me there with a great deal of joy, I not having
seen her for several years. The 6rst meet-
ing I was at there, was on a fourth-day, which
was indeed a very tendering opportunity, the
hearts of many being greatly, affected. I
found it now to be my place to take my abode
there ; and in a short time after a great many
of the younser sort of people frequented the
meeting, and several were convinced; several
Friends also had their mouths opened in testi-
mony, who grew to be very serviceable in
their generation.

In the year 16T7, 1 had some drawings in
my mind to visit some parts of the North, and
going by Lynn, I took several meetings in
Lincolnshire, till I came to Brlgg, but having
got a severe cold, I there fell ill of a fever,
which was so sharp upon me, that several
despaired of my life. George Whitehead
being then in the country, and hearing of my
weakness, came to see me, which I took very
kindly, but my fever was not then at its
height; yet through the goodness of God I
recovered sooner than could have been ex-
pected.

From thence I went to Hull, Thomas Mark-
ham accompanying me. We had but a rough
passage, and the night was dark ; but through
some difficulty we arrived safe at the town,
where there being a great noise of a Popish
plot against the king and government, at our
landing we found a strong guard set to ex-



let us pass peaceably. Staying some few
meetings there, my friend returned to Brigg,
and I took my way to York, visiting some
meetings as I went. My illness had brought
me very low ; but Friends gladly received me,
and I had several comfortable opportunities
with them. From thence I went to Leeds,
taking Tadcaster in my way, and although I
was yet but weakly in body, the Lord's bless*
ed presence did so attend me, that in meetings
I appeared as if I ailed nothing ; and I had
many sweet and comfortable opportunities with
Friends, as I passed through that county.

From Leeds I went to Sheffield and Ches-
terfield ; and had there a very good meeting.
And being very desirous to get to Nottingham
meeting on first-day, I staid no meeting at
Mansfield ; but staid at Nottingham some
days, at the house of our ancient Friend John
Reckless, and had several good meetings there.
From thence I went to Leicester, where I found
several Friends in prison, whom I visited, and
had a seasonable opportunity with them. From
Leicester I came to Northampton, and had a
meeting, in which the Lord's power broke in
upon us ; it was indeed a very tendering op-
portunity, blessed be God for it. After stay-
ing there two or three nights, I came to Wel-
lingborough, and having had a meeting there,
I had drawings in my mind towards Banbury.
I was now attended with a tertian ague, and
the winter coming on made the fits more tedi-
ous to me. Coming to Banbury, I lodged at
the house of Richard Vivers, who finding me
in so weak a condition, took great care of me,
so that in a few days I was finely revived, and
went to Oxford, and had a good and peaceable
opportunity there.

From thence I returned to Banbury, and
afler having had a few meetings thereabouts,
I went through some part of Bedfordshire
into Hertfordshire; having meetings there as
I passed along. I came into Essex ; but my
disease growing more strong upon me, and
the weather being sharp, and my natural
strength being much impaired, I made my
way towards Norwich, where, by short jour-
neys, I arrived in the eleventh month, and
found Friends well, and meetings very well fre-
quented. My ague continued several months
after, and I grew so weak that many despaired
of my recovery. But the spring coming on,
I began to recruit in strength, and was ena-
bled to visit several meetings in the county.
When I was at home I was not idle, but work-
ed at my trade very diligently, and was also
a constant frequenter of our first and week-
day meetings.

The next spring, in the year 1679, 1 went



amine all passengers, but my friend that ac- up to London, and after the Yeariy Meeting



Online LibraryWilliam EvansThe Friends' library: comprising journals, doctrinal treatieses, & other writings of members of the religious Society of Freinds → online text (page 48 of 104)