William Evans.

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

. (page 52 of 104)
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the tender dealings of the Almighty by his
holy Spirit, are described^ and have thereby
received some encouragement to submit to his
refining power, by which I have been brought
to advocate the cause of religion, and labour
for the promotion of Truth and righteousness
in the earth. And having found this to be a
great work, and the preparation therefor, an
humbling operation, I feel willing to transcribe,
now in the forty-eighth year of my age, for
the perusal of my children and grandchildren,
and others who may survive me, some memo-
randums and remarks, written at different
limes, and also to record some occurrences
from recollection, with desires that the read-
ing of them, may encourage them to pursue
the path in which I have endeavoured to walk,
and to feel the same tender solicitude for the
welfare of those who may come after them.
For trufy no earthly enjoyment can afford the
comfort and satisfaction which is experienced
by the humble follower of Jesus, the Lamb of
God, who taketh away the sins of the world.
Their life and peace are in him, and they are
borne up above the billows of the world ; their
rejoicing being in the strength and consola-
tion which he afibrds by his living virtue,
witnessing the redemption of their souls, even
to a complete overcoming, as he, their blessed
Leader, also overcame. Whether this will
ever be my happy experience, I know not ;
but this I know, that as far as I have followed
Him, I have found him condescending and

just in his commands; and if I am finally en*
abled to triumph, it must be through my con-
tinuance in the highway cast up for the re-
deemed to walk in. That this may he the
case with me and my beloved offspring, is my
fervent desire, — a desire which I trust does
not originate in selfishness, for I have the
welfare of all mankind at heart.

I was born at or near Harrison's Purchase,
in Westchester county. State of New York,
the 16th of third month, 1765. My father
was Tidderoan Hull, son of John Hull, of Co-
nanicut, Rhode Island ; and my mother, Eli-
zabeth, the daughter of Henry Franklin, of
the Purchase — all of whom were respectable
members of the religbus Society of Friends.
My paternal grandfather followed the busi-
ness of a sea-captain, for a livelihood, as did
a]so his father, who had the training of
Charles Wager, afterward. Sir Charles Wa-
ger, Vice Admiral in the British navy, who
always retained an affectionate regard for his
former master, offering to promote any of his
children who would enter the king's service;
but my grandfather and his sons preferred
pursuing their avocation, consistently with
the pacific principles which they professed.

My father settled in early life* at Green-
wich, in Connecticut, where he engaged in
storekeeping ; but found it expedient, in order
to provide for the wants of an increasing
family, to remove to the city of New York,
which took place when I was about six years
old. Previous to that time, I have no recol-
lection of any religious impressions; but soon
after our removal, being at a meeting for

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Divine worship, perhaps the first I ever at
tended, a woman Friend was powerfuUy en
gaged in the ministry, and her words made
an impression on my mind, which has never
heen effaced, but has often been forcibly re-
vived in my remembrance, and been of use to
roe in my passing along through time. From
this period I date the commencement of my
religious experiences, being then probably not
more than seven years old ; and though my
views were imperfect and corresponding to my
childish years, yet desires were raised in my
heart that I might be better than some I saw,
who spoke bad words and behaved naughtily.
I loved to attend religious meetings, yet dread-
ed to go there or to school, as there were then
but few Friends in the city, and my garb dis-
tinguishing me as one, the boys in the street
would call me Quaker^ and use other reviling
language. This was especially the case when
the scholars went to meeting in a body, walk-
ing two and two, as was the practice at Wil-
liam Rickman's school, where I attended.

I would gladly have changed my dress, but
my parents would not indulge me in it, they
being concerned to keep their children from
following the vain fashions of the world. This,
I think, was the means of preserving roe from
improper associations and some idle amuse-
ments, which might have been very hurtful to
me ; Uiough I cannot say that I was clear of
the company of all, whose example was inju-
rious, nor of indulging myself at times in
foolish and extravagant play ; yet I was con-
sidered an orderly boy, both by my elder
friends and my school-fellows. One of the
latter being taken sick, and apprehending he
would not recover, told his mother as she was
watching by his bed-side, that if he was as
good a boy as I, he should not be afraid to
die. This being reported to me, I was much
aflected, knowing he was mistaken and that I
was not so good as he thought me, but I re-
solved to endeavour to do better for the future,
than I had done.

A few days after this, as I was passing
through the street, I gave way to some noisy
and improper conduct, and looking behind me
I saw the mother of the aforesaid lad near,
^nd thought she observed my foolish conduct,
at which I was so distressed, that I sought a
place of retirement and wept bitterly. I men-
tion this oceurrence of my childish days, to
show that a sense of propriety of conduct is
early awakened in the minds (MT children; and
if parents and those who have the care of
their tuition were careful to cherish this feel-
ing, and lead Iheir infant minds into the paths
of piety and virtue, there would be more sons
and daughters found walking therein. A ne-
glect of this religious duty leaves them ex-

posed to the force of temptation, liable to be
drawn away by the influence of evil example
and their own corrupt inclinations, into the
broad way that leads down to the chambers
of death, — and parents are thus often pierced
through with many sorrows.

The power of heavenly love wrought early
upon my mind, begetting a dislike to evil
practices and wick^ words, whilst I loved
good people, and their company was very
pleasant to me. About the ninth year of my
age, I had a severe illness, by which I was
reduced very low. I noticed the anxious so-
licitude of my parents on my account, and
my heart was tendered with the evidences of
their love to me, thinking myself unworthy
of it. After my recovery, I continued in
delicate health, and the air of the city being
too oppressive for me in the summer season,
I was sent into the country, sometimes to my
uncle Matthew Franklin's, at Flushing, and
sometimes to my uncle Joseph Hull's, at Peach
Pond, in Dutchess county. Here I often ram-
bled alone among the forests and over the
green fields, indulging my contemplative turn
of mind. The remembrance of these solitary
walks is often revived, especially when I be-
hold the places where the groves, and rocks,
and birds, were the witnesses of my plaintive
soliloquies, whilst viewing the beauties of na-
ture; by which my thoughts were turned to
reflect upon the infinite wisdom of the great
Creator, and desires increased (hat I might
live in his fear and partake of his favour.
Notwithstanding this, the evil example of rude
and wicked boys, by degrees, drew me to join
with them in folly, and I often sinned, and
felt great condemnation, frequently weeping
for my misconduct. I heard the doctrine held
up by the ministers of our Society, that the
grace of God which bringeth salvation ap-
peareth unto all men, and teaches the denying
of all ungodliness and worldly lusts. I con-
strued this, as though something would appear
to condemn me and make me unhappy for my
evil conduct, and sometimes after I had done
wrong and was willing to think my actions
were not very bad, I would presumptuously
say to myself, " now if the Almighty is of-
fended with me, I wish I could feel his inward
reproof;" thus willing to justify myself by my
own hardness of heart, while at the same time
I was afraid my parents should know of my
conduct lest they should correct me, for they
had taught me to do better. I sought there-
fore to hide my conduct from them; but knew
not that it was indeed the good Spirit of grace
who enlightened my understanding, so far to
see the evil of my ways, as to make me wish
to hide them from man, not considering that
the all-seeing Eye continually beheld me.

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Samuel's want of experience caused him to
run to Eli when the Lord called him, being a
stranger to the Divine voice ; and my igno-
rance left me in a situation somewhat similar,
so that I did not consider the uneasiness I felt
and the desire to hide my conduct, as pro-
ceeding from the reproofs of Divine grace.
But, although I long remained in a state of
ignorance, yet in process of time I came to
know the voice of heavenly Wisdom. Eli in«
stnicted Samuel how to answer the Lord's
call, and by Qbedience he became an eminent
Seer in his day; and this induces me to think
it right for parents and tutors to use great
simplicity of language when instructing chil-
dren, and to teach them to live in the fear of
the Lord, though their capacities may not be
80 matured as to comprehend the sublime doc-
trines of the Gospel. For want of this know-
ledge, many are mere professors of the letter,
while they deny the power, the spiritual ap-
pearance of Christ to the soul ; when as the
holy " Word which is quick and powerful, and
sharper than any two edged sword," he ap-
pera unto them, as he did unto Saul, whilst he
was a persecutor of the disciples of our Lord.
When Saul knew who it was that thus pierced
and smote him, and gave up in obedience to
his requirings, He became to him and his fel-
low labourers, as he expresses himself, '^ Christ
in you the hope of glory." Nominal Chris-
tians, while ignorant of his power, may sat-
isfy themselves with a belief in an imputative
righteousness, and say much about the merits
of the Redeemer; yet if they do not obey
him, but live and act in opposition to his
teachings, it may be said of them, that they
persecute the dear Son of God, as Saul did ;
who was zealous in his way, yet ignorant that
redemption was obtained through faith in
Jesus Christ, the Lord from heaven. It is
his <* quickening Spirit," that brings man un-
der condemnation for transgression ; and as a
faithful witness, teaches children, even in their
early days, to know good from evil ; and
were suitable examples set before them, in-
stead of evil, joined with pious labour by pa-
rents and guardians, to train up children in
the fear of the Lord, and turn their attention
to this inspeaking word of Divine grace, they
would, I believe, be more likely to choose the
ways of piety and virtue, than the more fre-
quented ways of the wicked, which lead down
to the chambers of death. We are the de-
scendants of Adam, who, through disobedience
fell ; and *' are by nature children of wrath,
even as others;" and if we continue to disobey
the voice of the Lord, which teaches us '< to
do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly
with God," we shall become as some in the
apostles' days, wJjo ** were dead in trespasses

and sins," ^* walking accordmg to the course of
this world, according to the prince of the
power of the air, who worketh in the children
of disobedience." From disobedience to Di-
vine instruction spring all the evils that are
in the world, and the prevalence of evil ex-
amples is such as to draw away the minds of
young people, as with "cords of vanity;"
pressing them onward as a mighty torrent
that cannot be resisted by the strength of
man. " But God, who is rich in mercy, for
his great love wherewith he loved us, saith
the apostle, even when we were dead in sins,
hath quickened us tc^ther with Christ ; by
grace ye are saved." ^

Here we see the infinite condescension of
Divine Goodness, who declares by his servant,
the prophet Ezekiel, " Have I any pleasure at
all that the wicked should die, and not that he
should return from his ways and live?" "The
wages of sin is death," but life is obtained
through Jesus Christ, who was sent as a light
to enlighten the Gentiles and for God's salva-
tion to the ends of the earth. But if men bate
the light, because their deeds are evil, and will
not come to it or have faith in it, but continue
in their evil ways, they are circumstanced as
Jerusalem was formerly, when Christ, in his
expostulation with her, says, " O Jerusalem,
Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and
stonest them that are sent unto thee, how
oflen would I have gathered thy children to-
gether, as a hen gathereth her chickens under
her wings, and ye would not." It is evident,
therefore, that those opinions are fallacious
and deceiving, which induce people to think
that the work is accomplished by Christ's
sufierings on the cross merely, without their
endeavouring to follow him in the way of re-
demption, as they have him for an example.
Through him, the quickening Spirit, man has
access unto the Father, who is " faithful and
just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us
from all unrighteousness." It is a precious
experience to have faith in Jesus Christ, the
Son of God, who said " I and my Father are
one ;"-^«nd of whom the apostle John saith,
" Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son
of God, God dwelleth in him and he in God:"
" He that hath an ear let him hear. It is the
Spirit that quickenetb, saith Christ, the flesh
profiteth nothing; the words that I speak unto
you, they are spirit and they are life." If our
hearts are sincerely directed to him as the
Emmanuel, " God with us," and living under
his government, we shall know by happy ex-
perience, that " God is love, and he that dwel-
leth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him."
Christ is then, to us, the way, the truth and
the life, and we witness redemption from evil
and receive strength to walk in the highway

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of holiness, where the unclean is not found,
nor any ravenous beast ; a way so plain, that
the way-faring man, though a fool, may not
err therein ; and by which ^* the ransomed of the
Lord shall return and- come to Zion, with
soDgs and everlasting joy upon their heads —
they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sor-
row and sighing shall flee away."

The condemnation I felt for evil was great,
and I clearly saw, that I must forsake evil
company if I ever became what I desired to
be. Sometimes I led my playmates and spent
my time reading to my aged grandmother, by
which means I early read Sewel's History of
the rise and progress of Friends, as well as
other books of a similar character, which had
a good eflect upon my mind. I was often ten-
dered at the recital of the cruel suflerings,
inflicted upon those who stood faithful to the
testimonies given them to bear for the Truth
on earth. Frequently after reading, my mind
would be absorbed in serious meditation, and
a belief wa^ gradually settled upon it, that if
I lived to be a man, I should espouse the cause
for which they suflered. But the instability
of human nature was evinced in my subse-
quent conduct. These seasons of tender vis-
itation were soon forgotten, and by associating
with wicked boys, I found my inclination to
evade the cross increased, and it became very
unpleasant to me to be called a Quaker. I
avoided the use of the plain Scripture language
of thou and thee, and much wished to change
my dress so as to conform to the custom and
ftshion of the day; but in this I was not in-
dulged by my parents, they being careful to
keep their children plain while young, and
not to sufier them to attend places of diver-
sion, which care I believe was of use to us,
though we thought at the time that we were
hardly dealt by.

The difficulties which preceded the war of
the American revolution had now commenced,
and as they increased, our situation became
more exposed to danger. My father was ex-
tensively engaged in mercantile business, im-
porting goods and selling them to his custom-
ers on credit, which was then the usual mode
of conducting trade, by which he became in-
volved in difficulties. Being anxious to se-
cure the monies due to him, in order that he
might meet his engagements, his time was so
occupied that he had little opportunity to watch
over his children; and our mother not having
the same authority over us, we took great lib-
erties, going when and where we pleased.
The city at this time was crowds with sol-
diers, newly raised to oppose the British min-
istry in their attempts to tax the colonies, and
I was delighted with the sound of the drum
and the martial appearance of the soldiers. I

eagerly sought their company, and often spent
most of the day in the barracks and encamp-
ments. Amid the corrupting examples which
I there found, I lost ground in best things, and
being fired by the kindling flanne of strife, was
at times ready to regret that I was too young
to take a part with my countrymen, being as
thoughtless respecting the unlawftjlness of
wars and fightings, under the Christian dis-
pensation, as the poor soldiers, rioting and
living in wantonness, were, of the fate which
awaited them. Most of the poor fellows with
whose company I was so much taken, were
soon afler killed in battle, or taken prisoners
and thrown into jails, where they died misera-

It being apprehended that the British would
storm the city of New York, many of the in-
habitants retired into the country, among
whom were my father and his family ; young
as I then was, the situation to which we were
reduced had an humbling eftect on my mind.
We sailed up the East river to Sawpit, and
from thence some of us went on foot to Pur-
chase, where my uncle Joshua Franklin lived;
and I well remember the sympathy mani-
fested by some of the inhabitants on the road,
who called us into their houses to rest and
offered us refreshments. The recollection of
these calamities has often caused tears to flow
from my eyes, our flight from New York
being but the prelude to greater sufierings.
At my uncle's we found an asylum for a short
time, and then my father hired part of a house,
in which we lived but a few months in the
year 1776, when a battle was fought by the
contending parties at White Plains, and the
American forces under General Washington
being routed, we were obliged to seek a more
retired dwelling-place, our house being so
filled with sick and wounded soldiers, that we
were obliged to step over them, as they lay on
the floor, in passing about on the common bu-
siness of the family. We procured an old
house at Ridgefield, in Ck>nnecticut, which,
though built for a dvf elling, had been occupied
as a barn, and moved there in the fall of the
year. Here my mother and seven of her
children spent the winter, mostly without the
company of my father, who was ^lecessarily
absent attending to his business. I was in
the twelfth year of my age, and being of a
delicate constitution and tenderly brought up,
I found the fatigue and hardship we had to
endure very trying to my nature. Although
we had the means of purchasing fire-wood,
yet the men in the neighbourhood being
mostly engaged in the war, we could get little
more than what my younger brother and I
procured from the forest by our own labour;
and not having been accustomed to the use of

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the axe, we made out but poorly. We strug-
gled along through the winter, and constantly
attended Friends' meeting at Peach Pond,
which at that time was pretty large on first-
days ; and before spring my father purchased
a farm and mills in the town now called Stan-
ford, about forty-five miles from Ridgefieid,
to which we commenced our removal as soon
as the roads became settled.

A few days before our family were ready
to take their departure, the British troops
landed and burnt the stores collected by the
Americans at Danby, as well as the town,
afier which they proceeded up the country
within a few miles of us, so that we were ap-
prehensive of being prevented from following
our goods, which had been sent forward to
our new residence. We staid one day anx-
iously awaiting the approach of the army,
whose progress was marked by rapine and
bloodshed ; but they took another road, and
on the day following we arrived in safety at
our proposed habitation. As this is a place
in which I have seen much to admire, and
passed through many scenes, of a pleasing as
well as peculiarly painful nature, I purpose to
record some of these in my simple style, that
such of my descendants as survive me, may
know how marvellously the Lord hath dealt
with me, both in mercy and in judgment.

In the fourth month, 1777, 1 arrived with
my father's family at Stanford. The country
then presented a wild and uncultivated ap-
pearance, only a small part of the land in the
neighbourhood being cleared, and many of
the fields enclosed with the logs which had
been cut off of them. There were but two
families of Friends near us, viz: Benjamin
Hoag and Paul Hoag from New England, and
most of the other inhabitants were of the
rougher sort. A small meeting of Friends
was held about four miles from us, in a log
house belonging to Paul Upton, who with his
wife Phebe Upton, have been valuable mem-
bers of our Society from their first settlement
here, and were truly as a nursing father
and nursing mother to many who have been
brought forth in religious services. I can
bear testimony to their worth from the fresh
remembrance of their pious and aiiectionate
care over me, kindly, though prudently no-
ticing me in my first coming forth in the min-
istry. The meeting was oSen attended by a
number of raw, rustic looking people, most of
whom were not Friends; and they would often
gather tc^ether near the house, before the
meeting time, and engage in disputes about
the war, sometimes with high words and angry
looks; but when the appointed hour came,
Phebe Upton would come to the door and in-
form them; upon which all controversy would

cease, and the conipany set down with appa-
rent reverence to wait upon the Father of
mercies. There is good reason to believe,
that many of these persons were sincere
hearted, for some of them who were not then
members of our Society, afierward joined in
religious fellowship, and became united in
bearing a Christian testimony against war,
by patiently suffering the spoiling of their
goods. When I consider that our meeting
was then mostly held in silence, and look at
the wide spreading of the Society in those
parts and elsewhere, and the new meetings set
up, I am bound to say. Surely it is the lord's
doings and marvellous indeed.

I frequently listened to the disputes I have
mentioned and felt an interest in them, yet the
impropriety of such engagements just before
sitting down in meeting, appeared great ; and
although, through adorable mercy, all were
not carried away from the fear of the Lord,
yet there is reason to apprehend that many
were hurt by them. It is but justice to the
memory of my father to say, that I never
knew him to be present at any of them : he
was a man of sound discretion and exemplary
in his conduct and conversation, even before
he was evidently brought under the govern-
ment of religious feelin|;.

I do not think I derived much benefit for
several years from attending meetings, having
so lost the precious tender feelings I had been
favoured with in former days, that perhaps
few went to them in a state more insensible
to good than myself, and I was always glad
of an opportunity of staying from them,
choosing rather to be rambling about with
idle boys. The meeting however increased,
and the house becoming too small to accom-
modate those who met, it was removed to
Elijah Hoag's, and was held in his barn dur-
ing the summer, and in his dwelling-house
through the winter. Soon afier this it in-
creased so rapidly, that Friends built the stone
house now called ^*the Creek Meeting," which
was the first settled in Nine Partners, west of
the creek. From this a meeting was set off
and held at the house of Obadiah GifTord, at
Little Nine Partners, and in a few years, an-
other branch was established at Crum Elbow.

About the sixteenth year of my age I was
again favoured with serious impressions. My
father had come forth in the ministry, and we

Online LibraryWilliam EvansThe Friends' library: comprising journals, doctrinal treatieses, & other writings of members of the religious Society of Freinds → online text (page 52 of 104)