William Evans.

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

. (page 68 of 104)
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and other worthies ; but with all their inge-
nuity, their flimsy guises are seen through,
even by n>any who adhere to them, who
candidly acknowledge that their notions are
new in the Society; but labour hard to alle-
gorize the Scriptures, so as to make them
suit their purposes, saying much about an
increase of light, and the necessity of walking
ID the light, it is to be feared, without due
consideration of the danger of mistaking
darkness for light, and light for darkness.
Hence the "works of darkness are produced,
such as reviling, persecuting, evil speaking,
backbiting and evil surmising, &c., and all
under the specious pretence of reformation
and advancement. Ah ! truly, if the light in
as be darkness, how great is that darkness !

I truly mourn over the state we are in; but
as our religious Society was gathered by an
outstretched arm, and our worthy predeces-
sors were supported by the invincible power
of Jesus, under the deep suflerings they had to
endure, for their faithfulness in the cause of
their Lord and Saviour, so I am at times
comforted in the belief, that however great
the defection, and wide spread the devastation,
the Society will yet know the armies of aliens
and apostates to be arrested in their career,
and turned backward; and that the blessed

Head of the church will raise up judges as at
the first, and counsellors as at the beginning.

1828, seventh month 22nd. The present
is a time of peculiar trial, and proving of faith
and constancy of the Lord's people, in the
Society of Friends, among whom, unworthy
as I am, I trust I may rank myself. The
unsettlement, respecting which I wrote in
1826, has greatly increased since that time.
Then the disorder was chiefly evinced by
the younger members who had joined them-
selves to Elias Hicks and his partisans, in
their unsound principles; and their endea-
vours to change the discipline and order of
Society, so as to suit their own views. They
have now so far obtained their ends, that
Friends who have stood Arm in endeavouring
to maintain the doctrines of the Gospel of
Jesus Christ our Lord, and the Christian dis*
cipline established by our worthy predecessors,
have had to endure much opposition and re-
proach from them. Elias Hicks continuing
to propagate his sentiments, has been much
elated by his success ; and assuming the
character of a reformer, his meetings have
been large, though chiefly made up by the
irreligious or unbelievers. In his public and
private discourses, he pleads for liberty to be-
lieve what men please ; and likewise saying
much about free inquiry, &c., pleasing the
libertine class, and also drawing aside from
the Truth, as it is in Jesus, many well mean-
ing and unsuspecting persons, who, not disco-
vering his insidious and plausible method of
undermining the true Christian's fhith, have
become so deceived as to believe what he
says to be true, and almost to reverence his
person ; while the professed Deists are ex-
ulting and congratulating one another in his
success, in declaiming against what they call
tradition, superstition, &c., as well as in the
irreverent manner in which he speaks of the

In our ipeetings for discipline, he assumed
the office of a dictator, and exercised an in-
fluence over his party, beyond what belongs
to any mortal man. I have several times
known him to produce quiet among them,
when much agitated, by the expression of a
sentiment, and once in particular, in our
Yearly Meeting, when there was a great*
clamour and commotion among them, a
Friend who sat by him, desired he would
still them ; and Elias perceiving that the
clerk would not make a minute to suit them,
as the solid sense and judgment of the meet-
ing was in opposition to their wishes, arose
and told them to give it up— which they at
once did and were quiet, and Friends pro-
ceeded in their business without interruption.

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Comfortable as it was to Friends to be thus
relieved from turbulence and noise, it afforded
sorrowful evidence of their being under the
control of a mortal man.

It was not only at the Yearly Meeting that
his partisans were troublesome to Friends,
but in subordinate meetings the disorders in-
creased ; and individuals, whom we have rea-
son to believe had known what it was to sit
in meetings for discipline, in meekness and in
fear of acting without the puttings forth of
the heavenly Shepherd, now became immode-
rately active, frequently evincing a strong un-
subdued will, and sometimes a temper incom-
patible with the love of the Gospel of Christ.
Friends who stood firm in endeavouring to
support Grospel order, met with much abuse ;
and in our meetings for Divine worship, when
a minister has been speaking, if he said any
thing by way of recommending the Scriptures,
or the frequent perusal of them, or of his be-
lief in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, as our
Advocate with the Father, and the Redeemer
and propitiation for mankind, however conso-
nant his words were with Scripture, some of
these unbelieving professed Quakers, would
evince their dissatisfaction, sometimes by a
supercilious look, sometimes by restless be-
haviour, shuffling the feet, &c., and some-
times by leaving the meeting-house ; and on
some occasions, when approved ministers have
been solemnly engaged in prayer, these disaf-
fected persons have kept their seats with their
hats on, with other marks of disorder, beyond
what 1 ever before saw.

Thus our meetings continued to be held,
until our last Yearly Meeting; when Elias
Hicks and some of his followers, laid a plan
to gain an ascendency over the Friends who
adhered to our ancient principles, inviting a
number of his supporters from Pennsylva-
nia and parts adjacent to attend the meeting,
who accordingly were present, though a num-
ber of them had been regularly disowned.
Friends could not consistently enter upon the
business in the company of such intruders,
and concluded to remove to the basement
story, afler the meeting had been regularly
opened — but they found the door locked and
guarded, and were under the necessity of
going to a building offered them, leaving Elias
Hicks and his followers, with the abovemen-
tioned persons, who formed themselves into
what they called a Yearly Meeting of Friends.
Friends being thus relieved from their dis-
orderly conduct, were mercifully permitted
to trapsact their business in harmony and
brotherly love. It being now evident that a
like separation must take place in the subor-
dinate meetings, a committee was appointed
to attend them, in order to assist Friends to

support the order of the Society and to sustain
their meetings. Those who had separated
from us, and departed from our ancient prin-
ciples, also appointed a committee; and I being
one of the committee of our meeting, had an
opportunity of witnessing the desolating effects
of unbelief, and the unchristian conduct of
some of the Separatists, the object of whose
committee seemed to be to misrepresent facts,
so as to mislead Friends who were not at the
Yearly Meeting. At Creek Preparative Meet-
ing, much was said in order to show the
grounds of Friends proceedings, that it was
in order to support the principles of our So-
ciety, as set forth by its approved writers;
and that the steps taken by our Yearly Meet-
ing, were in order to transact our business
select from those who had not a right to be
present. On the other side, much misrepre-
sentation was resorted to, with railing accusa-
tions, and the clerk was forced from the table
by violent crowding, and another placed there
in his stead. Friends, af\er patient waiting,
retired to the youths' gallery, and opened the
meeting there, and transacted the business in
a regular manner. The day following was
our Preparative Meeting at Stanford, where
the committee of Friends presented their min>
ute of appointment, but the clerk was ordered
not to read it; and there being no prospect
that he would do so, another clerk was ap-
pointed, and a proposal made to the Sepa-
ratists for them to go on with their business
and we would sit quietly ; or we would go on
with ours, if they would sit without interrupt-
ing us; they acceded to the latter, and we
accordingly transacted our business and with-
drew quietly.

In the year 1830, in company with several
other Friends, he performed a visit to Friends
in the western parts of New York and in
Canada, during which he wrote the two let-
ters from which the following extracts are
made, viz :

'* Queenstown, Upper Canada, ElighSh
mooUi 28th» 183a

" I find that the mercies of an Almighty
and condescending Caretaker of his people,
are not withheld in a land of strangers, but
mercifully vouchsafed to visiters and visited.
Amidst the many causes of depression, which
are to be met with as I pass along, I find
these are to be relied upon ; and when I re-
flect on the past, with reference to my friends
and the unhappy division that has taken place
in Society, and unsettled some of them and
led them to be tossed as upon the ocean of
life, comparable to a bark upon the sea, with-
out compass or rudder, I am increasingly
confirmed in the belief, that a spirit of delu-

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SI 1

sion has blinded the eyes of many who have
lefl the Society ; and others, from an unjusti-
fiable attachment to individuals, are hurried
forward in their opposition to Friends. A
humble possession in the Truth is preferable
to riches, honours, or the applause of the
world; and I am thankful that my mind is
stayed on Him, who is strength in weakness,
riches in poverty, and a present Helper in the
needful time, with desires for the establishment
of the sincere hearted, upon the immoveable
foundation. For the encouragement of these
I am frequently engaged ; and sometimes, for
the information of the misled and misinformed,
1 have to point out the causes of the division
that has taken place. Our meetings are fre-
quently large, and sometimes held in houses
belonging to other societies, while the occu-
pancy of them is denied to the Separatists ;
who say, it is in consequence of our being
more like other societies than they are. — Be
it so, if our agreement is in the fundamental
doctrines of Christianity. But why then do
they endeavour to deceive the world, by say-
ing, there is no difference between them and
us? These things have occasioned a full de-
velopment of the causes of the separation, I
believe in the wisdom, and I humbly trust, un-
der the influence of the power, of Truth.

"At Grassy-point, where two prominent
leaders of the Hicksites reside, all the few
members of Society went off, e^ccept three
women, who remained firm Friends, neither
of their husbands being members. We rode
nearly twenty miles to the place in a wagon,
and were cordially received by one of them ;
and while notice was spreading of a meeting
to be held next day, we walked a mile or more
to see another of them ; the third had gone
on foot to give notice of the meeting, which
was held to our satisfaction.

"From Pickering we went to York, the seat
of government for Upper Canada, where we
had a large meeting in the house belonging to
the Methodists. For a few disjoined members
I felt, to use the words of a more worthy
man, ' a travail of soul,' and shall not easily
forget them ; — great would be the advantage
to these, did but a few real Friends live in
the place, to hold a meeting and encourage
them to look to the Giver of every good and
perfect gif\, to bless their endeavours to pro-
cure a subsistence for themselves and their
children. The advantages held out to enter-
prising persons, allure many from Europe
and the United States to this place, and they
oflen meet with disappointments, and some-
times disagreeable consequences result. I
cannot easily forget the emotions of tender-
ness I felt, on seeing three lovely, plain little
Irish girls, who were motherless, and neither

of them above twelve years old, come for-
ward and take their seats near where we sat.*'

Tarmiogton, Ninth moath ISih, 1830.

** To loiter my time away, does not seem
suited to my natural turn of mind, which has
marked my course through life hitherto. I
have therefore taken the pen — not to beguile
time, but rather to let thee know that time
doth not pass heavily away. — With a mind
as serene as the unrufHed sea,«I ruminate on
the various views which present respecting
the time past, present and to come. The fu-
ture, though enveloped in darkness, is yet
sufficiently unfolded, to show the true believer,
that an all-wise Creator, whose providence is
marked in the changes of the revolving sea-
sons, will not forsake his humble servants,
who like the autumn leaves, are, one afler
another falling to the ground. The eye of
faith is not led to grope in the dark, destitute
of that reality which is as bread to the hun-
gry soul, and gives strength to the weak,
whilst songs of thanksgiving and praise miti-
gate the sufferings of decaying nature. As
to the past, the consequences of fallen nature,
as presented to view by memory, evil as they
have been in a greater or less degree, although
through grace not of the deepest dye, pros-
trate me as with my mouth in the dust; while
hope, like the anchor which securely stays
the once greatly tossed bark, fixes the mind
on Him, who died for sinners on Calvary^s
mount. When the past presents any thing
which will compare, even in a faint manner,
with justice, mercy, or humility, and the per-
formance of religious duties, though vile na-
ture may assiduously seek to draw self in for
a share of commendation, it is nevertheless,
compelled, in great abased ness, to ascribe
all to unmerited grace. Then with David
we may not only recount the mercies of
our God, by whom we have been enabled to
run through a troop, or to leap over a wall ;
but pray for one another, in the strength
vouchsafed by Him, who doeth all things

«* My prayers are continued for thee and
our dear children, and for all the objects of
redeeming grace, especially for the household
of faith, who are as the salt of the earth.
And ascribing glory and honour to Him, who
ruleth on high, and taketh cognizance of the
actions of men, I trust I may inform thee,
that my desire for the prosperity of the cause
of the Lord Jesus, is undiminished ; it never
appeared to me more interesting, than it has
through the course of this journey; though
its being assailed as it is by pretended friends,
has strengthened its enemies to exult over it.
But it is my belief, that the prince of the

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power of the air, that rules in the children of
disobedience, will not be able to remove the
chief corner stone. It is surprising, to mark
the shifts which the Seceders make use of to
support their cause. As it was set up by
misrepresentation, so they endeavour to sup-
port it by dissimulation. Many are still un-
der a deception in regard to the cause of the
division ; when to an impartial mind it is as
clear as the light at noonday, that unsound
doctrines introduced disorder into our meet-
ings; clamour took the place of solid delibera-
tion, so that Friends who were attached to re-
ligious order could not submit to confusion
and misrule. We hear it pleaded, that a few
wanted to rule, and that this was the cause ;
thus construing the endeavours of Friends to
maintain good order, into a wish to rule ; —
many who make this plea, know belter, and
only use the argument to cover their selfish
views; but what is more extraordinary, many
of their preachers dissemble in doctrine, and
seem to think many words with an extended
voice is Gospel ministry — seeking to obtain
applause from men, rather than the favour of
Him who knows the secrets of all hearts, and
who will not justify those who seek their own
honour, or neglect the things which are Jesus
Christ's. It is certainly doing despite to the
good spirit of grace, and crucifying afresh the
Son of God, to ridicule the Christian's belief,
founded upon Scripture, respecting the coming
and sufferings of Jesus Christ, as a propitia-
tory sacrifice, even though they may affect a
belief in his spiritual appearance. The irrev-
erent speeches made in regard to his body and
blood, evince that there is little more than a
pretended belief in his spiritual appearance.
If it was real, they never could rest satisfied
in denying his holy offices, and certainly
would bring forth fruits consistent with a
Christian life. Had they a consistent belief
in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, they would not
disregard the precepts of Christ. Open infi-
delity is easier borne with, than when com-
bined with dissimulation, and does less mis-
chief; because, by the latter the simple are
led astray, many of whom are to be pitied,
and for whom I feel a tender regard."

The following address appears to belong to
this period, though it is without date, and may
with propriety be introduced here.

You, who have kept your habitations in the
Truth are near unto my best life, and fervent
are my desires that you may be steadfast,
immoveable, on the everlasting foundation,
Christ Jesus — then will the storms and tem-
pests beat in vain ; and whilst you remain
securely sheltered in the quiet habitation, you
may be instrumental in the Lord's hand in

gathering some of the scattered sheep, who
are worried by the wild boar out of the forest,
whose nature is to rend and devour. Many
besetments and discouragements assail you,
different from what Friends had to eacounter
in former times, when their enemies avowed
open hostility, and appeared willing it should
be known that they considered them as ene-
mies to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and not
worthy to be called worshippers of the true
and living God. These aspersions, however,
were easily refuted ; and in process of time
Friends came to enjoy liberty of conscience,
as a distinct Society of people, and were re-
cognized as such by the powers of the earth,
it being obvious that we highly valued the
Holy Scriptures, and received them as a test
for the doctrines we held and the morality we
practised. In our devotions we professed our
dependence upon the baptizing power of Him,
whom we acknowledged to be the Head of the
church ; by which power our spirits were
humbled, and preservation from an aspiring
disposition was witnessed — a disposition which
seeks to lord over the heritage of the Most
High ; and unity, even the unity of the one
Spirit, was greatly prized and sought after in
the management of the discipline. Good or-
der was promoted and prevailed, so that the
feeble minded were encouraged and strength-'
ened, and the unruly were warned of the dan-
ger to which they exposed themselves. Then,
to use the language of George Fox, '' the Seed
reigned ;" not the wisdom nor the will of ^an,
for that was judged down by the Seed. Ah !
then our meetings for Divine worship were
solemn, comfortable seasons, and those for
discipline were schools of instruction, and
many were engaged to jqin the Society in a
perpetual covenant, never to be broken.

Alas ! how great the difference now, when
we find opposers arrayed against us ; not in
the character of open enemies, but in appear-
ance as friends, professing to be disposed to
improve our situation. I view the state of
things with deep regret; and the monrnful
prospect revives in my mind the plaintive
language of the prophet, when he exclaimed,
"Elpw is the gold become dim! how is the
most fine gold changed I" and again ; " Our
silver has become dross ; our wine is mixed
with water." What can we expect from our
present prospects, and the lamentable effects
of the spirit which is afloat, but that, instead
of an advancement, as is now boasted of, and
a more refulgent ray of light, we shall make
a retrograde march ? Nay — have we not al-
ready fallen in the view of a discerning pub-
lic 7 Are not our meetings less frequented by
serious and seeking minds, and are they not
less solemn, and are not those designed for

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the manageroent of the discipline, instead of
being schools of instruction to the youth, oden
made rather seasons of discouragenrient to this
interesting class of Society, because of the
want of that solemnity which spreads over
the minds of the humble believers in the
adorable Head of the church, who conde-
sceoded to declare for the encouragement of
bis faithful followers, '^ Where two or three
are gathered together in my name, there am
I in the midst of them?" But, alas! where
the wisdom of man is substituted for the wis-
dom of Jesus, and the will of man for bis
meekness, lamentable are the consequences.
The Gospel privilege of all having liberty to
speak one by one, is prostituted to aid the de-
signs of aspiring and ambitious men ; and in
some instances, such a disregard of the order
of our Christian discipline has been shown,
that menibers of Society have been denied
their rights, when moving from one place to
another; and others have been arraigned as
ofienders on untenable grounds. The salutary
restraint laid on the press, for the commend-
able purpose of preserving unity, and in order
that the doctrines and principles of the Society
might not be misrepresented by inexperienced
aod unqualified, or mischievous persons, has
been evaded ; persons professing to be Friends,
and presuming to write in the name of the
Society, have resorted to periodicals profess-
edly Unitarian, to publish doctrines contrary
to those held by Friends, as well as many
slanders and misrepresentations ; and volumes
of sermons, containing unsound doctrines, are
extensively circulated by persons, whose sta-
tions in society ought to have made them
guardians of the press : how " are these be-
come as earthen pitchers!" — "their silver
has become dross, and their wine is mingled
with water !"

I might mention many other inconsistencies,
all of which spring out of the same root, anti-
christ, and bear the same mark ; and which
would, if it were possible, take from lis the reli-
gion of Jesus Christ, whose birth was hailed
with the anthem "glory to God in the highest,
on earth peace, good will to men," when the
angelic host proclaimed unto the shepherds,
the " good tidings of great joy, which was to
be unto all people ; unto you is born this day,
in the city of David, a Saviour, which is
Christ the Lord." But, "fear not, little flock,
it is your Father*s ^ood pleasure to give you
the kingdom," and all the combined powers
of darkness will never be able to overthrow
the immutable foundation. The Lord knoweth
them that are his ; and although we may have
to lament the desolation made by scepticism,
under the gilded cover of greater light, yet if
we come, with the prophet, truly to mourn
Vol. IV.— No. 8.

over our situation, we may have confidence
to appeal unto Him in the language, " Turn
thou us, and we shall be turned ; renew our
days as of old."

We are all more or less involved in the
general declension; yet there are here and
there, as it were, one of a city and two of a
tribe, whose desires are pure; and to these
the promise is, " I will give you pastors ac-
cording to mine own heart, who shall feed
you with knowledge and understanding." A
recurrence to the history of former days,
when all were engaged to walk by the same
rule, and to mind the same thing-, may show
us, that it is good to follow the example of our
pious predecessors, whose upright, humble
walking holds forth the inviting language,
" Follow us, as we followed Christ." Then
each one labouring to be built up himself
upon the most holy faith, which works by
love, was nrK>re or less instrumental in build-
ing up his brother ; and the things that were
true, the things that were honest, the things
that were just, the things thai were pure, the
things that were lovely and of good report,
were kept in remembrance. Now, endea-
vours are used to pull down the faith, the
Scriptures of Truth are undervalued, and the
writings of our worthy predecessors, over-
looked or misrepresented, and the faithful la-
bourers of the day calumniated, and held up
to the irreligious, as superstitious persons.

I do not wish to descend further into par-
ticulars, whilst contending for the faith once
delivered to the saints ; nor am I disposed to
quarrel about religious sentiments; but, "leave
every one to be fully persuaded in his own

Online LibraryWilliam EvansThe Friends' library: comprising journals, doctrinal treatieses, & other writings of members of the religious Society of Freinds → online text (page 68 of 104)