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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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desire for the good of others : all the faithful
are not called to the public ministry ; but who-
ever are, are called to minister of that which
they have tasted and handled spiritually. The
outward modes of worship are various ; but



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LIFE OP JOHN WOOLMAN.



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wherever any are true ministers of Jesus
Christ, it is from the operation of his Spirit
upon their hearts, first purifying them, and
thus giving them a just sense of the condi-
tions of others.

This truth was early fixed in my mind;
and I was taught to watch the pure opening,
and to take heed, lest, while I was standing
to speak, my own will should get uppermost,
and cause me to utter words from worldly
wisdom, and depart from the channel of the
true Gospel ministry. In the management of
my outward affairs, I may say with thankful-
Iness, I found. truth to be my support; and I
I was respected in my master's family, who
came to live in Mount Holly within two years
I after my going there.

About the twenty*third year of my age, I
I had many fresh and heavenly openings, in
respect to the care and providence of the Al-
mighty over his creatures in general, and
^ over man as the most noble amongst those
which are visible. And being clearly con«
vinced in my judgment, that to place my
whole trust in God was best for me, I felt re-
newed engagements, that in all things I might
act on an inward principle of virtue, and pur-
I sue worldly business no further than Truth
opened my way therein.

About the time called Christmas, I observed
[that many people from the country, and dwel-
jiers in town, resorting to public-houses, spent
[their time in drinking and vain sports, tending
I corrupt one another ; on which account I
vas much troubled. At one house in particu-
lar there was much disorder; and I believed it
[was a duty incumbent on me to go and speak
f to the master of that house. I considered I
[was young, and that several elderly Friends in
[town had an opportunity to see these things;
though I would gladly have been excused,
y^et I could not feel my mind clear.

The exercise was heavy : and as I was read-
Qg what the Almighty said to Ezekiel, re-
Ipeoting his duty as a watchman, the matter
kas set home more clearly ; and then, with
[rayers and tears, I besought the Lord for his
sistance, who, in loving-kindness, gave me
[resigned heart. Then, at a suitable opportu-
f, I went to the public-house ; and seeing
man amongst much company, I went to
and told him I wanted to speak with
; so we went aside, and there, in the fear
nd dread of the Almighty, I expressed to him
liat rested on my mind; which he took kind
and afterward showed more regard to me
before. In a few years afterwards he
d, middle-aged ; and I often thought, that
I neglected my duty in that case, it would
re given me great trouble; and I was hum-



bly thankful to my gracious Father, who had
supported me herein. *

My employer having a negro woman, sold
her, and desired me to write a bill of sale, the
man being waiting who bought her. The thing
was sudden ; and though the thoughts of writ-
ing an instrument of slavery Tor one of my
fellow-creatures felt uneasy, yet I remembered
that I was hired by the year, that it was my
master who directed me to do it, and that it
was an elderly man, a member of our Soci-
ety, who bought her ; so, through vaakness,
I gave way, and wrote it ; but, at the exe*
cuting of it, I was so afflicted in my mind,
that I said, before my master and the Friend,
that I believed slave-keeping to be a practice
inconsistent with the Christian religion. This
in some degree abated my uneasiness; yet, as
often as I reflected seriously upon it, I thought
I should have been clei^rer, if I had desired to
be excused from it, as a thing against my con-
science; for such it was. Some time after
this, a young man of our Society, spoke to
me to write a conveyance of a slave to him ;
he having lately taken a negro into his house.
I told him, I was not easy to write it; for,
though many of our meeting and in other
places kept slaves, I still believed the practice
was not right; and desired to be excused from
the writing. I spoke to him in good will; and
he told me, that keeping slaves was not alto-
gether agreeable to his mind ; but that the slave
being a gift made to his wife, he had accepted
of her.

CHAPTER n.

Hii first journey, on a religwus visits into East
Jersey, in company with Abraham Farringion
— thoughts on merchandizing, and learning
a trade — second journey, toith Isaac Andrews^
into Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and
North Carolina — third journey, with Peter An-
drews, through part of West and East Jersey —
some account of his sister Elizabeth, and her
death-— fourth journey, with Peter Andrews,
through New York and Long Island, to New
England—fifth journey, with John Sykes, to
the Eastern Shore of Maryland, and the lower
counties on Delaware.

Mt esteemed friend Abraham Farrington,
being about to make a visit to Friends on the
eastern side of this province, and having no
companion, proposed to me to go with him ;
and after a conference with some elderly
Friends, I agreed to go. We set out the 5th
day of the ninth month, in the year 1743 ;
and had an evening meeting at a tavern in



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884



LIFE OP JOHN WOOLMAN.



Brunswick, uptown in which none* of our So-
ciety dwelt ; the room was full» and the peo*
pie quiet. Thence to Amboy, and had an
evening meeting in the court-house ; to which
came many peopie» amongst whom were seve-
ral members of assembly, they being in town
on the public affairs of the province : in both
these meetings my ancient companion was en-
larged to preach, in the love of the Gospel.
Thence we went to Woodbridge, Rahway, and
Plainfield ; and had six or seven meetings in
places where Friends' meetings are not usually
held, being made up chiefly of Presbyterians,
and my beloved companion was frequently
strengthened to publish the word of life amongst
them. As for me, I was often silent through
the meetings ; and when I spake, it was with
much care, that I might speak only what Truth
opened: my mind was often tender, and I
learned some profitable lessons. We were
out about two weeks.

Near this time, being on some outward bu-
dness in which' several families were concern-
ed, and which was attended with difficulties,
some things relating thereto not being clearly
stated, nor rightly understood by all, there
arose some heat in the minds of the parties,
and one valuable Friend got off his watch.
I had a great regard for him, and felt a strong
inclination, after matters were settled, to speak
to him concerning his conduct in that case ;
but I being a youth, and he far advanced in
age and experience, my way appeared diffi-
cult; but after some days deliberation, and
inward seeking to the Lord for assistance, I
was made subject; so that I expressed what lay
upon me, in a way which became my youth
and his years : and though it was a hard tftsk
to me, it was well taken, and, I believe, was
useful to us both.

Having now been several years with my
employer, and he doing less at merchandize
than heretofore, I was thoughtful of some
other way of business ; percejving merchan-
dize to be attended with much cumber, in the
way of trading in these parts.

My mind, through the power of Truth, was
in a good degree weaned from the desire of
outward greatness, and I was learning to be
content with real conveniences, that were not
costly ; so .that a way of life free from much
entanglement, appeared best for me, though
the income might be small. I had several
offers of business that appeared profitable, but.
did not see my way clear to accept of them ;
believing the business proposed would be' at-
tended with more outward care and cumber
than it was required of me to engage in.

I saw that a humble man, with the blessing
of the Lord, might live on a little: and that
where* the heart was set on greatness, success I



in business did not satisfy the craving; bat
that commonly with an increase of wealth,
the desire of wealth increased. There was a
care on my mind so to pass my time, that
nothing might hinder me from the most steady
attention to the voice of the true Shepherd.

My employer, though now a retailer of
goods, was by trade a tailor, and kept a ser*
vant man at that business; and I began to
think about learning the trade, expecting, that
if I 9hould settle, I might, by this trade, and
a little retailing of goods, get a living in a
plain way, without the load of great business^
I mentioned it to my employer, and we soon
agreed on.tferms; and then, when I had lei-
sure from the affairs of merchandize, I work-
ed with this man. I believed the hand of
Providence pointed out this business for me ;
and was taught to be content with it, though I
felt, at times, a disposition that would have
sought for something greater. But, through
the revelation of Jesus Christ, I had seen the
happiness of humility, and there was an ear-
nest desire in me to enter deeply into it;
and, at times, this desire arose to a degree
of fervent supplication, wherein my soul was
so environed with heavenly light and conso-
lation, that things were made easy to me whk^h
had been otherwise.

After some time, my employer's wife died ;
she was a virtuous woman, and generally be-
loved of her neighbours : and soon after this,
he left shop-keeping ; and we parted* I then
wrought at my trade, as a taikir; caiefally
attended meetings for worship and discipline ;
and found an enlargement of Gospel love id
my mind, and therein a concern to visit
Friends in some of the back settlements of
Pennsylvania and Virginia. Being thought-
ful about a companion, I expressed it to my
beloved friend Isaac Andrews, who then told
me that he had drawings to the same places ;
and also to go through Maryland, Virginia,
and Carolina. After considerable time pc^sed,
and several conferences with him, I felt easy
to accompany him throughout, if way open^
for it, I opened the case in our Monthly
Meeting, end Friends expressing their unity
therewith, ^e obtained certificates to travel as
companions ; his from Haddonfield, and mine
from Burlington.

We left our province on the 12th day of the
third month, in the year 1746, and had seve-
ral meetings in the upper part of Chester
county, and near Lancaster; in some of
which, the love of Christ prevailed, uniting
us together in his service. Then we crowed
the river Susquehanna, and had several meet-
ngs in a new settlement, called the Red-lands ;
the oldest of which, as I was inibrnied, did
not exceed ten years. It is the poorer sort of



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LIFE OP JOHN WOOLMAN.



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people who commonly begin to improve re<
mote deserts: with a small. stock they have
bouses to build, lands to clear and fence, com
to raise, clothes to provide, and children to
educate; that Friends, who visit such, may
well sympathize with them in their hardships
in the wilderness ; and though the best enter-
tainment such can give, may seem ooarse to
some who are used to cities, or old-settled
places, it becomes the disciples of Christ to
be content with it. Our hearts were some-
times enlarged in the love of our heavenly
Father amongst these people ; and the sweet
influence of his Spirit supported us through
some difficulties : to him be the praise.

We passed on to Manoquacy, Fairfax,
Hopewell, and Shanandoah, and had meet-
ings; some of which were comfortable and
edifying. From Shanandoah, we set off in
the afternoon for the old settlements of Friends
io Virginia ; and the first night, we, with our
pilot, lodged in the woods, our horses feeding
near us ; but he being poorly provided with a
horse, and we young and bavins good horses,
were free to part with him ; and next day did
so. In two days afler, we reached our friend
John Cheagle^s, in Virginia ; and taking the
meetings in our way through Virginia, were
io some degree, baptized into a feeling of the
conditions of the people ; and our exercise in
general was more painful in these old settle-
ments, than it had been amongst the back in-
habitants : but through the goodness of our
heavenly Father, the well of living waters
was, at times, opened to our encouragement
and the refreshment of the sincere-hearted.
We went on to Perquimons, in North Caro-
lina; had several meetings, which were large,
and found some openness in those parts, and
a hopeful appearance amongst the young peo-
ple. We turned again into Virginia, and at-
tended most of the meetings which we had
not been at before, labouring amongst Friends
in the love of Jesus Christ, as ability was
given ; and thence went to the mountains, up
James River, to a new settlement, and had se-
veral meetings amongst the people, some of
whom had lately joined in membership with
our Society. In our journeying to and fro,
we found some honest-hearted Friends, who
appeared to be concerned for the cause of
Truth, among a backsliding people.

From Virginia, we crossed over the river
Potomac, at Hoe's ferry, and made a general
visit to the meetings of Friends on the West-
em Shore of Maryland, and were at their
Quarterly Meeting. We had some hard la-
bour amongst them, endeavouring to discharge
our duty honestly as way opened, in the love
of truth. Taking sundry meetings in our
way, we passed homeward, where, through



the favour of Divine Providence, we reached,
the 16th day of the sixth month, in the year
1746 ; and I may say, that through the assis*
tance of the Holy Spirit, which mortifies self*
ish desires, my companion and I travelled in
harmony, and parted in the nearness of true
brotherly love*

Two things were remarkable to me in this
journey: first, in regard to my entertain-
ment; when I eat, drank, and lodged free*
cost, with people who lived in ease on the
hard labour of their slaves, I felt uneasy;
and as my mind was inward to the Lord, I
found, from place to place, this uneasiness re-
turn upon me, at times, through the whole vi-
sit. Where the masters bore a good share of
the burthen, and lived frugally, so that their
servants were well provided for, and their la-
bour moderate, I felt more easy ; but where
they lived in a costly way, and laid heavy
burthens on their slaves, my exercise was
often great, and I frequently had conversation
with them, in private, concerning it. Second-
ly ; the trade of importing slaves from their na-
tive country being much encouraged amongst
them, and the white people and their children
so generally living without much labour, were
frequently the subjects of my serious thoughts ;
and I saw in these southern provinces so many
vices and corruptions, increased by this trade
and this way of life, that it appeared to me as
a dark gloominess hanging over the land; and
though now many willingly run into it, yet
in future the consequences will be grievous to
posterity. I express it as it hath appeared to
me, not at once, or twice, but as a matter
fixed on my mind*

Soon afler my return home, I felt an in-
creasing concern for Friends on our sea-coast;
and on the 8th day of the eighth month, in
the year 1746, with the unity of Friends, and
in company with my beloved friend and neigh-
bour Peter Andrews, brother to my compan-
ion before-mentioned, I set forward, and visit-
ed meetings generally about Salem, Cape May,
Great and Little Egg Harbour; and had meet-
ings at Barnagat, Mannahockin, and Mane-
Squan, and so to the Yearly Meeting at
Shrewsbury. Through the goodness of the
Lord way was opened, and the strength of
Divine love was sometimes felt in our assem-
blies, to the comfbrt and help of those who
were rightly concerned before him. We were
out twenty-two days, and rode, by computa-
tion, three hundred and forty miles. At
Shrewsbury Yearly Meeting, we met with
our dear friends Michael Lightfoot and Abra-
ham Farrington, who had good service there.

The winter following di^ my eldest sister,
Elizabeth Woolman, jun., of the small-pox,
aged thirty-one years. She was, from her



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LIFE OF JOHN WOOLMAN-



youth, of a thoughtful dispositioD, and very
compassionate to her acquaintance in their
sickness or distress, being ready to help as
far as she could. She was dutiful to her pa-
rents; one instance whereof follows: — It hap-
pened that she, and two of her sisters, being
then near the estate of young women, had an
inclination one first-day afler meeting to go
on a visit to some other young women at some
distance off, whose company, I believe, would
have done them no good. They expressed
their desire to our parents ; who were dissat-
isfied with the proposal, and stopped them.
The same day, as my sisters and I were to-
gether, and they talking about their disap-
pointment, Elizabeth expressed her content-
ment under it; signifying, she believed it
might be for their good.
' A few years afler she attained to mature
age, through the gracious visitations of God's
love, she was strengthened to live a self-deny-
ing exemplary life, giving herself much to
rieading and meditation.

The following letter may show, in some de-
gree, her disposition :

HaddoDfield, Eleventh Month Ist, 174%
Beloved brother, John Woolman,

In that love which desires the welfare of
all men, I write unto thee. I received thine,
dated 2nd day of the tenth month last, with
which I was comforted. My spirit is bowed
with thankfulness that I should be remember-
ed, who am unworthy; but the Lord is full of
mercy, and his goodness is extended to the
meanest of his creation ; therefore, in his in
finite love, he hath pitied and spared and
showed mercy; that I have not been cut off
nor quite lost ; but, at times, I am refreshed
and comforted as with the glimpse of his pre-
sence, which is more to the immortal part,
than all which this world can afford : so, with
desires for thy preservation with my own, I
remain

Thy affectionate sister,

Elizabeth Woolhan, Jvn.

The fore part of her illness she was in
great sadness and dejection of mind, of which
she told one of her intimate friends, and said,
when I was a young girl I was wanton and
airy, but I thought I had thoroughly repented
for it ; and added, I have of late had great
satisfaction in meetings. Though she was
thus disconsolate, still she retained a hope,
which was as an anchor to her: and some
time aAer, the same friend came again to see
her, to whom she mentioned her former ex-
pressions, and said, it is otherwise now, for
the Lord hath rewarded me seven-fold ; and I
am unable to express the greatness of his love



manifested to me. Her disorder appearing
dangerous, and our mother being sorrowful,
she took notice of it, and said, dear mother,
weep not for me ; I go to my God : and many
times, with an audible voice, uttered praise to
her Redeemer.

A Friend coming some miles to see her the
morning before she died, asked her, how she
did ? She answered, I have had a hard night,
but shall not have another such, for I shall
die, and it will be well with my soul; and ac-
cordingly she died the next evening.

The following ejaculations were found
amount her writings; written, I believe, at
four times :

I. Oh ! that my head were as waters, and
mine eyes as a fountain of tears, that I might
weep day and night, until acquainted with my
God.

II. O Lord, that I may enjoy thy presence;
or else my time is lost, and my life a snare to
my soul.

III. O Lord, that I may receive bread from
thy table, and that thy grace may abound in me.

IV. O Lord, that I may be acquainted with
thy presence, that I may be seasoned with thy
salt, that thy grace may abound in me.

Of late I found drawings in my mind to
visit Friends in New England, and having an
opportunity of joining in company with my
beloved friend Peter Andrews, we obtained
certificates froni our Monthly Meeting, and
set forward on the 16th day of the third
month, in the year 1747, and reached the
Yearly Meeting at Long Island; at which
were our friends Samuel Nottingham from
England, John Griffith, Jane Hoskins, and
Elizabeth Hudson, from Pennsylvania, and
Jacob Andrews, from Chesterfield; several
of whom were favoured in their public exer-
cise ; and, through the goodness of the Lord,
we had some edifying meetings. AAer this,
my companion and I visited Friends on Long
Island ; and, through the mercies of God, were
helped in the work.

Besides going to the settled meetings of
Friends, we were at a general meeting at
Setawket, chiefly made up of other societies,
and had a meeting at Oyster Bay, in a dwel-
ling-house, at which were many people: at
the first of which there was not much said
by way of testimony ; but it was, I believe*
a good meeting: at the latter, through the
springing up of living waters, it was a day to
be thankfully remembered. Having visited
the island, we went over to the main, taking
meetings in our way to Oblong, Nine-Part-
ners and New Milford. — In these back set-
tlements we met with several people, who,
through the immediate workings of the Spi-



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rit of Christ on their minds, were drawn from
the vanities of the world, to an inward ac-
quaintance with him : they were educated in
the way of the Presbyterians. A considerable
number of the youth, members of that Society,
were used to spend their time oflen together
in merriment, but some of the principal young
men of that company being visited by the
powerful workings of the Spirit of Christ, and
thereby led humbly to take up his cross,
could no longer join in those vanities; and
as these stood steadfast to that inward con*
vincement, they were made a blessing to some
of their former companions ; so that, through
the power of Truth, several were brought into
a close exercise concerning the eternal welU
being of their souls. These young people
continued for a time to frequent their public
worship; and besides that, had meetings of
their own ; which meetings were a while al-
lowed by their preacher, who sometimes met
with them: but, in time, their judgment in
matters of religion disagreeing with some of
the articles of the Presbyterians, their meet-
ings were disapproved by that Society ; and
such of them who stood firm to their duty, as
it was inwardly manifested, had many diffi-
culties to go through. Their meetings were
in a while dropped ; some of them returning
to the Presbyterians, and others, aAer a time,
joined our religious Society.

I had conversation with some of the latter,
to my help and edification ; and believe seve-
ral of them are acquainted with the nature of
that worship which is performed in Spirit and
in Truth. From hence, accompanied by Amos
Powel, a Friend from Long Island, we rode
through Connecticut, chiefly inhabited by Pres-
byterians ; who were generally civil to us, so
far as I saw : and after three days riding, we
came amongst Friends in the colony of Rhode
Island. We visited Friends in and about New-
port and Dartmouth, and generally in those
parts; and then went to Boston; and proceed-
ed eastward as far as Dover: then returned
to Newport, and not far from thence, we met
our friend Thomas Gawthrop, from England ;
who was then on a visit to these provinces.
From Newport we sailed to Nantucket; were
there nearly a week, and from thence came
over to Dartmouth : and having finished our
visit in these parts, we crossed the sound from
New London to Long Island ; and taking some
meetings on the island, proceeded homeward ;
where we reached the 13th day of the seventh
month, in the year 1747, having rode about
fifteen hundred miles, and sailed about one
hundred and fifty.

In this journey, I may say in general, we
were sometimes in much weakness, and la-
boured under discouragements ; and at other

Vol. IV.— No. 9.



times, through the renewed manifestations of
Divine love, we had seasons of refreshment,
wherein the power of Truth prevailed.

We were taught, by renewed experience, to
labour for an inward stillness ; at no time to
seek for words, but to live in the Spirit of
Truth, and utter that to the people which
Truth opened in us. My beloved companion
and I belonged to one meeting, came forth in
the ministry near the same time, and were in-
wardly united in the work: he was about
thirteen years older than I, bore the heavi-
est burthen, and was an instrument of the
greatest use.

Finding a concern to visit Friends in the
lower counties on Delaware, and on the East-



Online LibraryWilliam EvansThe Friends' library: comprising journals, doctrinal treatieses, & other writings of members of the religious Society of Freinds → online text (page 73 of 104)