William Evans.

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

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began to have the company of Friends who
were travelling in the service of the Goepel;
and beholding the seriousness of their de-
meanour and the sacrifices they made in these
acts of dedication to the cause of religion, to-
gether with the great sufTerings of Friends,
by reason of rapacious men who distrained
their property, b^use they would not violate

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their peaceable testimony, my heart was deeply
afiected. I thought of what I had read when
a child, of the sufierings of Friends in the be-
ginning, and my judgment was convinced that
those who stood faithful now, were upon the
sanoe foundation ; and that wars and fightings
were in opposition to the precepts of the Gos-
pel, which teach us to do unto others as we
would have others do to us. I now lost that
martial spirit which had so much actuated me
at the commencement of the war — my love
for Friends increased, and I delighted to go to
meetings. Several young Friends had lately
come forth in the ministry in a lively manner,
and others who were more experienced, tra-
velling to and fro in that work — we often had
their company at our meetings, and large
numbers of people not of our Society attended
them, and the work of Truth prospered. Some
who had been oppressors of Friends, and
others who had been of bed conduct, became
serious, joined the Society and continued to
be useful members.

In taking a retrospective view of my past
life, I saw that I had lost ground, and be*
wailed myself as one astray in a waste howl-
ing wilderness — I was afraid to be alone, or in
the company of good people, for I thought
they could discern my situation and would
reprove me; and indeed their very looks
seemed to administer reproof to me. So sen-
sible was I of the loss I had sustained, that I
was ready to conclude I should never obtain
forgiveness ; but in process of time I felt a
secret hope raised in my soul, that, like the
prodigal, I should be received into .favour, for
which I was very thankful, and a belief arose
in my heart, that one day I should bear a
public testimony to the goodness of Israel's
Shepherd, who carelh for the lost sheep. My
love to my friends increased greatly, and I de-
lighted to be in their company, although the
natural diffidence of my disposition prevented
me from entering into conversation, and I
rarely spoke, except to answer a question or
to deliver a message ; and I often admire at
the confidence of some of the young people,
when I observe their forwardness and wish to
take the lead in conversation. My mind was
often filled with the love of God, which over-
flowed toward my fellow creatures^ so that it
seemed as if I oould lift up my voice like a
trumpet, to declare unto others the goodness
of the Lord, and invite them to come and
partake thereof.

Whilst under the preparing hand for the
ministry of the Gospel, I was preserved from
running before I was sent, and from giving to
others what was designed as food for my own
soul to live upon, which it is to be feared some
have done to their own great hurt, compass-

VoL- IV.— No. 7.

ing themselves about with sparks of their own
kindling, and in the end have had to lie down
in sorrow. Such do not profit the people, but
run into disorder and cause confusion. God
is a God of order, and leads out of all confu*
sion and mixture, into beautiful order and
harmony, so that his church becomes <* as a
city set upon a hill, which cannot be hid."

The revolutionary war continuing, the suf*
ferings of Friends greatly increased. They
were stripped of nei^rly all their personal pro*
perty, and sometimes where they had large
herds of cattle, the last cow was driven away.
But even wicked men respect consistency; and
those who suffered nK>st were such as bad in-
dulged too freely in political disputes and con-
versation, while the oppressors were evidently
more favourable toward those who meddled
not with the prevailing contentions, but pa-
tiently and quietly suffered as the peaceable
followers of Him, who said, ** My kingdom is
not of this world." The collectors would fre-
quently go away without taking anything from
such ; and when compelled to distrain, they
manifested much reluctance.

My father built a fulling-mill, in order to
furnish me with employment, and with a view
of having me instructed in the business, en-
gaged a man who understood it; but there
being little opportunity of choice, the person
he hired was very objectionable in point of
morals, and I was greatly exposed in his com-
pany. He was, however, soon dismissed, and
I was thrown into other company. The man
who next took the mill, had an interest in the
proceeds of my labour, and kept me very
closely at work, early and late, to which I
quietly submitted, being desirous to learn the
business. His unwillingness to permit my
attendance at week-day meetings, was tlie
only difficulty I met with from him.

The practice of employing immoral or ir-
religious persons in families where there are
young children, is often attended with very
injurious consequences to their tender minds.
Parents who are ddsirous of training up their
offspring in the fear of the Lord, should exer-
cise great care as regards those they employ.
I well remember the corrupting conversation
and conduct of some who were engaged in
my father's business, when he was altogether
ignorant of what was passing. The sons of
farmers who are left to labour with the work-
men, without the presence of their parents,
are in a particular manner exposed to con-
tamination, many of that class being of the
lowest grade, and hardened in wickedness. It
is no less important that in the education of
children, suitable teachers should be sought
for. Greatly have the children, in many
parts of the country, suftered from the want

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of this care ; too many being more anxious
to obtain a teacher at a low rate, than to get
one of good character, whoae services may
cost a little more ; and hence some persons,
who would rank among the dregs of mankind,
have been entrusted with the oversight and
tuition of tender children. One of this de-
scription, who had been a soldier in the Brit-
ish army, was employed in the neighbourhood
where I lived, and from him I derived much
of my small share of sphool learning. He
would oflen leave his pupils under the care of
one of the elder boys, while he spent his time
at a tippling-house with his drunken compan-
ions, and returning to the school intoxicated,
would beat the boys unmercifully, while his
own face bore the marks of the blows he had
received from his quarrelsome and inebriated
associates. This, however, is a strong casQ,
and I believe Friends are now more careful ;
and the concern to have suitable teachers, ap-
pears to be generally gaining ground.

While at work one evening in the cloth-
mill, with the aforesaid person, word was sent
to me, that my father wished me to come to
the house. I immediately went, and found
several Friends there, who proposed a reli-
gious opportunity with the family. When I
found what I was wanted for, I felt disturbed
in my mind, that my father should call me
fVom my work, upon, what I then thought,
such a trifling occasion, and I could scarcely
speak pleasantly to the Friends. But soon
after we sat down together, the power of
Truth spread over us, and the Friends were
enabled to speak so plainly to my situation,
that my spirit was broken into tenderness,
and when I left the house tears flowed from
my eyes. Reflecting on the solicitude of my
dear father for my everlasting welfare, and on
the goodness of the Ancient of days, in that
he did not leave me in the hardened state of
mind I was in, when I went into the room,
my heart was humbled; and I entered into
solemn covenant with the Lord, that if he
would pass by my oflences, I would endea-
vour to be mindful of his favours and walk
more worthily. At another time, my mother
reproving me for levity, I replied to her in
rather unhandsome terms, at which I saw shb
was grieved. This aflleoted me much, so that
I wept to think how thoughtless I was, fear-
ing I should be cast off by the Almighty, for
my ingratitude to her who had done so much
for me.

Prom the time of the aforementioned op-
portunity in the family, the work of religion
seemed to take root in my mind. I could not
t^ke the liberties I had formerly done in vain
and idle conversation, but seriousness covered
my mind for many months, and I was glad

when the meeting-day came. I remembered
my former covenants, and wept in secret at
the remembrance of how often I had broken
them. Frequently, in the silent hours of
night, when all nature seemed slumbering, I
sat ruminating on my sad situation, thinking
no poor mortal was so miserable as myselil
Yet I had none but myself to blame fbr it,
knowing I had very often been favoured with
the sweet incomes of heavenly love, which I
had slighted, running after the follies incident
to youth. At other seasons, the Beloved of
souls was pleased to renew the offers of his
love in my heart, and I was filled with joy
and rejoicing. Thus I continued through the
time of my apprenticeship, which being ex-
pired, I undertook the management of the bu-
siness myself, diligently attending meetings,
sometimes walking four miles over the moun-
tain ; and I was often much comforted while
we sat together, and could return to my em>
ployment rejoicing.

In the eighteenth year of my age, I became
acquainted with Sarah, daughter of Edward
Ha Hock, of Marlborough. The first time I
saw her, I thought she was the person with
whom I should be willing to spend my days,
but being young, I was not hasty to move in
the matter, but frequently contemplated upon
it, and at times felt humble desires, that if it
was right, I might have her fbr my compan-
ion, and that the Lord would prosper us in
the undertaking. In the year 1785, we took
each other in marriage, under a sense, I trust,
of the importance of the solemn compact ; the
meeting being favoured with the overshadow-
ing of Divine Goodness.

For nearly two years after our marriage, I
was greatly tried with a spirit of unbelief, and
sometimes was near giving up to close in
therewith, but being blessed with a pious wife,
she proved a true help-meet to me, both in my
religious progress and in the cares of life. —
Few men nave been more blest in this respect
than I was.

In the year 1786, I began to keep a diary,
and although it is written in much simplicity,
yet I feel disposed to transcribe some parts of
it, to show the deep exercises and conflicts of
spirit I passed through. I was oflen impressed
with a belief, that I should have to stand forth
as a public advocate for the cause of Truth,
and at times the flowings of Grospel love so
filled my heart, that I seemed as if I could
not hold my peace ; yet when the Divine inti-
mations pointed thereto in our religious meet-
ings, I withstood them, which brought dark-
ness over my mind. The following extracts
are taken from the diary, viz:

1786, third month, 16th. This day I have
entered my twenty-second year. I have not

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been duly sensible of the favours of the Lord
to roe, and at times a fear fills my mind, that
if he should cut the thread of my life, and
number me with the silent dead, I should not
be admitted among the blessed. Great indeed
are my trials, but my faith is renewed, that
the grace of God is sufficient for me. May I
Jove the Lord more, and be thankful for the
least of all his manifold favours.

17th. At our Monthly Meeting, the advice
given by a ministering Friend to those under
trial, was, that they should patiently wait and
quietly hope. O that I may be one of the
number of those who do so. I hope the time
will come, when I shall serve the Lord with
all my mind and all my strength, and not
fear man. May I more and more come to
know myself and how to Conduct before the

19th. During the forepart of the meeting
this morning, I sat destitute of good. Fears
arose in my mind that a Friend spoke too
harshly to the youth. — There needs a care
that they are not driven from our meetings by
needless severity. The latter part of the
meeting proved a heavenly and blessed sea-
son to me, several Friends betng engaged to
speak in a manner which relieved my poor
soul ; blessed be the name of the Lord.

24th. I have not been sufficiently engaged
in looking to the Father of mercies, although
I trust not altogether unmindful of his favours.
O, Lord God Almighty, be pleased to pity and
not to cast me ofi^thou seest my instability —
one day bowed in humility, then levity pre-
vails, and I seem to soar away, pot knowing
whither. — Whom hove I to look unto for help,
but thee only? Thou knowest I am no longer
iMife than while on the watch< — keep me sensi-
Ue of this, I pray thee, and su^r me not to
go astray — grant me the favour of thy pre-
sence, and that my afi^tions may be loosened
firom temporal, and placed on heavenly things.

Fourth month* Attended our Monthly Meet-
ing, whidi was a memorable time, the spirits
of many present being tendered under the
powerful and living ministry of John Storer,
from England.

PiAh month, 3nd. This day the love of
God and the love of the worid, have alter-
nately been presented to my mind, with an
intimation to make my election between them*
What is poor man if lefl to choose for him^
self. O Lordl I pray thee, leave me not — thou
knowest what is best for me, better than I do
tor myself. I desire to cleave close unto
thee— O when shall I come before thee with-
out spot or blemish.

7th. Staid away from meeting for too light
a reason, and reaped poverty.

llthit This day renewed ray r«soliition to

serve the Lord my God. But what are all
my resolutions! now as fresh and lively as
the flower in the field; to-morrow, withered
and faded away I Thus it has been with me
for years ; at times filled with heavenly love»
then poor, ah, poor indeed, even when my
desires have been to do right. Art thou, O
my soul, serving a hard master? No, this
state of poverty is the result of thy disobedi-
ence. I have partaken of too many mercies
to think the Lord is an hard master. He is
a God full of compassion,

24th. While attending our Yearly Meeting
at Westbury, on Long Island, about one hun-
dred miles from home, I heard of a melan-
choly accident which had occurred in our
neighbourhood, by the explosion of gunpow-
der, killing a Friend and injuring other per-
sons. The remembrance of my dear wile
and child, and the reflections on this sad
event, raised fervent desires, that I and my
family may so live as not to fear death. O,
Lord God Almighty,! pray thee, in the riches
of thy mercy, kiy thy hand upon me, for I
have need of thy help ; without thee I can do
nothing. I long to be in thy hand, that I may
serve and worship thee acceptably.

In the autumn of this year, I penned the
following remarks, the exact date, I cannot
now give, it being mislaid.

Of late I have suffered much, for not giv-
ing up publicly to advocate the cause of Truth.
It was the cross I stumbled at, reasoning my*
self into the conclusion that I was the least
qualified of any that ever appeared in meet-
ings, and that the work was too great for me.
I thought I had rather die than give up to it,
and thus darkness covered my mind, and I
was ready to conclude I had been under a de-
lusion in thinking myself called to the work.
But through the renewed mercy of my God,
I was enabled to say that I truly loved him,
and was desirous to serve him ; and afler a
close conflict of spirit, I covenanted that I
would give up and be obedient, if the com*
mand was again given forth. But when I
came to meeting and saw ray former young
companions, a fear seized me, and I again
gave way to reasoning, so that I returned
home in great distress of mind.

A few weeks after this, as I sat in meeting,
during the fore part of it, I seemed quite in-
sensible of any £ood, and found it hard work
to keep from falling asleep, a trial unusual
with me ; when a Friend stood up and spoke
of the situation of the children of Israel, in
their journey through the wilderness, showing
that through disobedience, many fell and per«>
isbed. Suddenly a voice intelligible to my
inward ear, sounded in my soul, as if it were
the voice of a man, saying, " Thou art in

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great danger of being lost in thy rebellion."
Great, indeed, was the consternation I was
thrown into; a trembling seized my frame,
which I endeavoured to hide, but could not,
and Friends who sat near me noticed my sit-
uation. In this awfully awakened state, the
language of my heart was, " Lord, do what
thou wilt with me, I am willing — Come life,
or come death, I will give up all for thy sake,
and to be received again into thy favour."
And the Lord, who is not slow to hear, nor
yet in showing mercy, condescended to ap-
pear as a morning without clouds, comforting
my mind in an extraordinary manner with his
love, and spreading over it a sweet calm.
Then I saw clearly that it was required of me
to kneel down and publicly acknowledge the
goodness and the invincible power of God,
which causes the tall cedars to bend and the
sturdy oaks to bow ; and being fully sensible
of the mercy of God from the love which
then filled my heart, I was made willing, and
falling upon my knees, uttered with an audi-
ble voice, a few sentences to the above import.
Oh ! then, inexpressibly precious, yes, incon-
ceivable to the natural man, was the ushering
in of peace and joy to my mind. Language
is insufficient to set forth the sweet serenity I
partook of for several days; it seemed as
though I had become the inhabitant of another
world, and left all my sorrows and perplexi-
ties behind me. My work was pleasant, more
so than ever before, and I now concluded I
had got to the end of my toilsome journey
through the wilderness, and had entered the
heavenly Canaan. But, alas! I found I had
only just entered on a field of arduous labour,
and had greater trials yet to endure than any
I had heretofore known. Notwithstanding
the marvellous display of Divine power that
humbled and brought me into obedience, and
the peace that followed my submission, I
again got into reasoning and lost the enjoy-
ment I had known, even that peace which
the world can neither give nor take away.

Twelfth month, 20th. Attended a very large
meeting, where, I believe many were refreshed
with dew from heaven ; but as for me I was
but a spectator, yet blessed be the name of the

Deeply sensible of my frailties and folly, I
fear I have not been enough guarded and
watchful. ''O Lord, I pray thee, leave me not
in the hour of temptation."

His Journal then continues, viz :

I did not suddenly lose the sense of Divine
favour, but in consequence of indulging my
natural reluctance to stand as a spectacle in
meetings, I was left for a time in a beclouded
state, and lost all enjoyment of heavenly good,
as well as the confidence in Divine power,

with which I had been favoured ; yet not
without intervals of sensibiKty, like the break-
ing forth of the sun at times during a cloudy
day. I was at these seasons, made sensible of
the ofiers of pardon, on condition of future
obedience. But I reasoned against light and
conviction, slighting the favours of which I
had partaken, until I came to the miserable
conclusion that religion was a cheat, some-
thing invented by designing men to captivate
the simple. I read the Scriptures in a dispo-
sition to ridicule them, and sought to get rid
of all my whims, as I was willing to call
them ; but, blessed be the name of Israelis
Shepherd, I was followed with the reproofs of
instruction ; and the remembrance of my past
enjoyment in the assemblies of the Lord*s
people, now in the days of my rebellion and
poverty, caused me to feel his chastisements
more keenly.

My life became a burden to me, and I was
at times afraid to be alone, lest I might do
myself some mischief; at other seasons I
spent great part of the night alone, meditating
on my past condition and present forlorn
state. It was during some of these solitary
hours, that I was again made sensible of the
renewings of Divine visitation, by which my
hard heart was broken, and I wept much.
By little and little, I recovered that confidence
I had lost in Divine power and the superin-
tending care of the Most High, over man. On
one occasion, as I was walking over a hill
covered with trees, I saw a large one that had
been struck by lightning. I sat down under
it in silent nieditation on the power of the
electric fluid, thinking it but a common acci-
dent from natural causes, and that it was well
I was not there at the time the tree was
struck. As I thus sat, all my thoughts were
stayed and brought into subjection, and an
awful silence prevailing in my soul, a lan-
guage intelligible to my mind, proclaimed
within me, " Thou seest how awfully power-
ful the lightning is, — thus, as in the twink-
ling of an eye, I could deprive thee of thy
existence." I was struck with amazement,
and as I walked home, pondered what I had
heard ; and believing it was the voice of the
Almighty, I felt a degree of reverence spring
in my heart, as also of gladness, in thinking
I was not wholly cast off. I was led to con-
template my past religious experience, and
was strengthened to forsake my foolish con-
sultations with flesh and blood; and feeling
myself to be a poor creature, I resolved to
seek afresh the favour of Him who is infinite
in power and goodness. In our religious
meetings, my mind was now sensible of re-
ceiving instruction from Him who is the
Teacher of his people, and the Teacher of

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teachers, qualifying servants and hand-maid-
ens to serve him tn the ministry of the Gos-
pel. In this weighty work I again engaged,
aboQt two years afler my first appearance,
and having now fully given up to it, I ap-
peared prettj^ often in our meeting at the
Creek, in Nine Partners. The meeting-house
was large and frequently crowded, and though
I often felt much reluctance at standing up,
yet I considered that the intent of speaking
was to be heard, and therefore, endeavoured
to speak so plainly and audibly as to be heard
by all. Now I again became a happy par-
taker of sweet peace and satisfaction in the
Lord's work, yet not without interruption;
as the following extracts from my diary will
evince, viz :

Twelfth month 14th, 1766. Confined at
home by indisposition, and have felt but little
of the Father's love. Having heard of a
public appearance in our n^lBeting, but little
expected, my own sKuation has been feelingly
brought to my view, with fervent desires that
the Lord will not forsake me. Some suppose
that I have forsaken him, but the Lord sees
not as man sees, he looks at the heart and
knows that my desires are unto him, and that
without his favour I cannot enjoy any real
satisfaction, even in the midst of temporal
blessings. Awake, O my soul, unto righte
ousness and sin no more, that with the saints,
thou mayest feed on the bread of life. Thus
being clothed in the robe of righteousness, the
beautiful garment, and walking in newness of
life, thou mayest worship the Lord in Spirit
and in Truth. " Wisdom is justified of her
children.'' But who are her children 1 Surely
they only, who are endeavouring to do justly,
to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God.
Great and marvellous are the works of the
infinite and incomprehensible Creator; great
are his mercies to the intelligent part of his
creation, and manifold the blessings bestowed
upon them by him. How presumptuous is
that man who can partake of these, and forget
the gracious Giver ! May the inconsiderate be
awakened to think of these things, and no
longer be living carelessly.

I^cond month 17th, 1789. In lodking over
our religious Society, there appears an en-
couraging prospect, notwithstanding the back-
sliding of some. Many are awakened both in
Europe and America ; some in Germany, and
even in France, that dark land, where the
craft of man has so long held the people in
bondage. When I contemplate these encour-
aging prospects, and the examples of the obe-
dient servants, I do not forget myself, who am
wadinff along in a path where there are many
hindering things. But I have a hope that the

Online LibraryWilliam EvansThe Friends' library: comprising journals, doctrinal treatieses, & other writings of members of the religious Society of Freinds → online text (page 53 of 104)