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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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love and affection toward thee and my daugh-
ter, and friends about home, that going out at
this time, when sickness is so great amongst
you, is a trial upon me; yet I often remember
there are many widows and fatherless, many
who have poor tutors, many who have evil
examples before them, and many whose minds
are in captivity ; for whose sake my heart is
at times moved with compassion, that I feel
my mind resigned to leave you for a season,
to exercise that gift which the Lord hath be-
stowed on me; which, though small, compared
with some, yet in this I rejoice, that I feel love
unfeigned toward my fellow-creatures. I re-
commend you to the Almighty, who, I trust,
cares for you ; and under a sense of his hea-
venly love, remain

'* Thy bving husband,

"J. W."

We crossed from the east end of Long



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Island to New London, about thirty miles, in
a large open boat; while we were out, the
wind rising high, the waves several times
beat over us, and to me it appeared danger-
ous ; but my mind was at that time, turned
to Him who made and governs the deep, and
my life was resigned to him : and as he was
mercifully pleasdl to preserve us, I had fresh
occasion to consider every day as a day lent
to me ; and felt a renewed engagement to de-
vote my time and all I had to Him who
gave it.

We had five meetings in Narraganset ; and
went thence to Newport on Rhode Island.
Our gracious Father preserved us in an hum-
ble dependence on him through deep exer-
cises, that were mortifying to the creaturely
will. In several families in the country where
we lodged, I felt an engagement on my mind
to have a conference with them in private
concerning their slaves ; and through Divine
aid, I was favoured to give up thereto.
Though, in this concern, I appear singular
from many whose service in travelling I be-
lieve is greater than mine, I do not think
hard of them for omitting it ; nor do I repine
at having so unpleasant a task assigned me,
but look with awfulness to Him, who appoints
to his servants their respective employments,
and is good to all who serve him sincerely.

We got to Newport in the evening, and
on the next day visited two sick persons, and
had comfortable sittings with them; and in
the afternoon attended the burial of a Friend.

The next day we were at meetings at New-
port, in the forenoon and afternoon; where
the spring of the ministry was opened, and
strength given to declare the word of life to
the people.

The next day we went on our journey ; but
the great number of slaves in these parts, and
the continuance of that trade from thence to
Guinea, made a deep impression on me ; and
my cries were often put up to my heavenly
Father in secret, that he would enable me to
discharge my duty faithfully, in such way as
he might be pleased to point out to me.

We took Swansea, Freetown and Taunton,
in our way to Boston ; where also we had a
meeting ; our exercise was deep, and the love
of Truth prevailed, for which I bless the Lord.
We went eastward about eighty miles beyond
Boston, taking meetings, and were in a good
degree preserved in an bumble dependence on
that arm which drew us out ; and though we
had some hard labour with the disobedient,
laying things closely home to such as were
stout against the Truth ; yet through the good-
ness of God, we had at times to partake of
heavenly comfort with them who were meek,
and were often favoured to part with Friends
Vol- IV.— No. 10.



in the nearness of true Gospel fellowship.
We returned to Boston, and had another
comfortable Opportunity with Friends there ;
and thence rode back a day's journey east-
ward of Boston. Our guide being a heavy
man, and the weather hot, and my companion
and I considering it, expressed our freedom to
go on without him, to which he consented,
and we respectfully took our leave of him;
we did this, believing the journey would be
hard to him and his horse.

We visited the meetings in those parts, and
were measurably bapti^ into a feeling of
the state of the Society ; and in bgwedness of
spirit went to the Yearly Meeting at Newport;
where I understood that a large number of
slaves had been imported from Africa into
that town, and were then on sale by a mem-
ber of our Society. At this meeting we met
with John Storer from England, Elizabeth
Shipley, Ann Gaunt, Hannah Foster, and
Mercy Redman from our parts, all ministers
of the Gospel, of whose company I was glad.

At this time my appetite failed, and I grew
outwardly weak, and had a feeling of the
condition of Habbakuk, as thus expressed;
" When I heard my belly trembled, my lips
quivered, I trembled in myself that I might
rest in the day of trouble." I had many co-
gitations, and was sorely distressed ; and was
desirous that Friends might petition the legis-
lature, to use their endeavours to discourage
the future importation of slaves ; for I saw
that this trade was a great evil, and tended to
multiply troubles and bring distresses on the
people in those parts, for whose welfare my
heart was deeply concerned.

But I perceived several difficulties in regard
to petitioning ; and such was the exercise of
my mind, that I thought of endeavouring to
get an opportunity to speak a few words in
the House of Assembly, then sitting in town.
This exercise came upon me in the afternoon,
on the second day of the Yearly Meeting, and
going to bed, I got no sleep till my mind was
wholly resigned therein ; and in the morning
I inquired of a Friend how long the Assembly
were likely to continue sitting ; who told me,
they were expected to be prorogued that day
or the next.

As I was desirous to attend the business of
the meeting, and perceived that the Assembly
were likely to depart befere the business was
over; after considerable exercise, humbly
seeking to the Lord for instruction, my mind
settled to attend on the business of Ihe meet-
ing. I had prepared a short essay of a peti-
tion to be presented to the legislature, if way
opened ; and being informed that there were
some appointed by that Yearly Meeting, to
speak with those in authority, in cases re«
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362



LIFE OF JOHN WOOLMAN.



lating to the Society, I opened my mind to
several of them, and showed them the essay
I had made ; and aflerward opened the case
in the meeting for business, in substance as
follows :

" I have been under a concern for some
time, on account of the great number of
slaves who are imported into this colony. I
am aware that it is a tender point to speak to,
but apprehend I am not clear in the sight of
heaven without speaking to it. I have pre-
pared an essay of a petition, if way open, to
be presented to the legislature; and what I
have to propose to this meeting is, that some
Friends may be named to withdraw and look
over it, and report whether they believe it
suitable to be read in the meeting; if they
should think well of reading it, it will remain
for the meeting, afler hearing it, to consider
whether to take any further notice of it as a
meeting or not." Afler a short conference
some Friends went out, and looking over it,
expressed their willingness to have it read;
which being done, many expressed their unity
with the proposal ; and some signified, that to
have the subjects of the petition enlarged upon,
and to be signed out of meeting by such who
were free, would be more suitable than to do
it there. Though I expected at first, that if
it was done it would be in that way; yet such
was the exercise of my mind, that to move it
in the hearing of Friends when assembled,
appeared to me a duty. My heart yearned
toward the inhabitants of these partsf ; believ«
ing that by this trade there had been an in-
crease of inquietude amongst them, and a way
made easy for the spreading of a spirit oppo-
site to that meekness and humility, which is a
sure resting-place for the soul ; and that the
continuance of this trade would not only ren-
der their healing more difficult, but increase
their malady.

Having proceeded thus far, I felt easy to
leave the essay amongst Friends, for them to
dispose of as they believed best. And now
an exercise revived on my mind in relation to
lotteries, which were common in those parts.
I had moved it in a former sitting of this
meeting, when arguments were used in favour
of Friends being held excused, who were only
concerned in such lotteries as were agreeable
to law. On moving it again, it was opposed
as before; but the hearts of some solid Friends
appeared to be united to discourage the prac-
tice amongst their members ; and the matter
was zealously handled by some on both sides.
In this debate it appeared very clear to me,
that the spirit of lotteries was a spirit of self-
ishness, which tended to confusion and dark-
ness of understanding; and that pleading for
it in our meetings, set apart for the Lord's



work, was not right : and in the heat of zeal,
I once made reply to what an ancient Friend
said, and when I sat down, I saw that my
words were not enough seasoned with charity;
and afler this I spoke no more on the subject.
At length a minute was made; a copy of which
was agreed to be sent to their several Quar-
terly Meetings, inciting Friends to labour to
discourage the practice amongst all professing
with us.

Some time afler this minute was made, I
remaining uneasy with the manner of my
speaking to the ancient Friend, could not see
my way clear to conceal my uneasiness, but
was concerned that 1 might say nothing to
weaken the cause in which I had laboured.
Afler some close exercise and hearty repent-
ance that I had not attended closely to the
safe guide, I stood up and reciting the pas-
sage, acquainted Friends that though I dare
not go from what I had said as to die matter,
yet I was uneasy with the manner of my
speaking, believing milder language would
have been better. As this was uttered in
some degree of creaturely abasement, it ap-
peared to have a good savour amongst us,
afler a warm debate.

The Yearly Meeting being now over, there
remained on my mind a secret, though heavy
exercise in regard to some leading active mem-
bers about Newport, being in the practice of
slave-keeping. This I mentioned to two an-
cient Friends who came out of the country,
and proposed to them, if way opened, to have
some conversation with those Friends: and
thereupon, one of those country Friends and
I, consulted one of the most noted elders who
had slaves ; and he, in a respectful manner,
encouraged me to proceed to clear myself of
what lay upon me. I had had, near the be-
ginning of the Yearly Meeting, a private con-
ference with this elder and his wife, concern-
ing theirs ; so that the way seemed clear to
me, to advise with him about the manner of
proceeding. I told him, I was free to have a
conference with them all together in a private
house; or if he thought they would take it
unkind to be asked to come together, and to
be spoken with in the hearing of each other,
1 was free to spend some time among them,
and visit them all in their own houses. He
expressed his liking to the first proposal, not
doubting their willingness to come together;
and ad I proposed a visit to ministers, elders
and overseers only; he named some others,
whom he desired might be present also. As
a careful messenger was wanted to acquaint
them in a proper manner, he offered to go to
all their houses to open the matter to them ;
and did so. About the eighth hour next
morning, we met in the roeettng-house cham-



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LIFE OF JOHN WOOLMAN.



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ber, and the last mentioned country friend,
also my companion and John Storer, with us;
when, after a short time of retirement, I ac-
quainted them with the steps I had taken in
procuring that meeting, opened the concern I
was under, and we proceeded to a free con-
ference upon the subject* My exercise was
heavy, and I was deeply bow^ in spirit be-
fore the Lord, who was pleased to favour with
the seasoning virtue of Truth, which wrought
a tenderness amongst us; and the subject was
mutually handled in a calm and peaceable
spirit At length feeling my mind released
from the burthen which I had been under, I
took my leave of them in a good degree of
satisfaction; and by the tenderness they mani-
fested in regard to the practice, and the con-
cern several of them expressed in relation to
the manner of disposing of their negroes after
their decease, I believed that a good exercise
was spreading amongst them; and I am hum-
bly thankful to God, who supported my mind,
and preserved me in a good degree of resig-
nation through these trials.

Thou, who sometimes travels in the work
of the ministry, and art made very welcome
by thy friends, and seest many tokens of their
satisfaction, in having thee for their guest; it is
ffood for thee to dwell deep, that thou mayest
feel and understand the spirits of people. If
we believe Truth points towards a conference
on some subjects, in a private way, it is need-
ful for us to take heed that their kindness,
their freedom and afliibility, do not hinder us
from the Lord's work. I have seen, that in
the midst of kindness and smooth conduct, to
speak close and home to them who entertain
us, on points that relate to their outward in-
terest, is hard labour ; and sometimes when I
have felt Truth lead toward it, I have found
myself disqualified by a superficial friendship.
As the sense thereof hath abased me, and my
cries have been to the Lord, I have been hum-
bled and made content to appear weak, or as
a fool for his sake; and thus a door hath
opened to enter upon it. To attempt to do
the Lord's work in our own way, and to
apeak of that which is the burthen of the
word, in a way easy to the natural part, doth
not reach the bottom of the disorder. To see
Che failings of our friends, and think hard of
them, without opening that which we ought
to open, and still carry a face of friendship,
this tends to undermine the foundation of true
unity.

The office of a minister of Christ is weighty ;
and they who now go forth as watchmen, had
need to be steadily on their guard against the
snares of prosperity and an outside friend-
ship.

After the Yearly Meeting we were at meet-



ings at Newtown, Acushnet, Cushnet, Long
Plain, Rochester and Dartmouth. From thence
we sailed for Nantucket, in company with Ann
Gaunt and Mercy Redman, and several other
Friends: the wind being slack, we only reached
Tarpawling Cove the first day ; where, going
on shore, we found room in a public house,
and beds for a few of us, the rest sleeping on
the floor. We went on board again about
break of day; and though the wind was
small, we were favoured to come within about
four miles of Nantucket ; and about ten of us
getting into our boat, we rowed to the harbour
before dark ; whereupon a large boat going
off, brought in the rest of the passengers
about midnight. The next day but one was
their Yearly Meeting, which held four days;
the last of which was the Monthly Meeting
for business. We had a laborious time amongst
them; our minds were closely exercised, 'and
I believe it was a time of great searching of
heart: the longer I was on the island, the
more I became sensible that there was a con-
siderable number of valuable Friends there,
though an evil spirit tending to strife, had
been at work amongst them. I was cautious
of making any visits, but as my mind was
particularly drawn to them ; and in that way
we had some sittings in Friends' houses, where
the heavenly wing was at times spread over
us, to our mutual comfort.

My beloved companion had very acceptable
service on this island.

When meeting was over, we all agreed to
sail the next day, if the weather was suitable
and we well ; and being called up the latter
part of the night, we went on board a vessel,
being in all about fifty; but the wind chang-
ing, the seamen thought best to stay in the
harbour till it altered; so we retuined on
shore. Feeling clear as to any further visits,
I spent my time in our chamber chiefly alone;
and after some hours, my heart being filled
with the spirit of supplication, my prayers
and tears were poured out before my heavenly
Father, for his help and instruction in the
manifold difficulties which attended me in life.
While I was waiting upon the Lord, there
came a messenger from the women Friends,
who lodged at another house, desiring to con-
fer with us about appointing a meeting, which
to me appeared weighty, as we had been at
so many before ; but after a short conference,
and advising with some elderly Friends, a
meeting was appointed, in which the Friend
who first moved it, and who had been much
shut up before, was largely opened in the love
of the Gospel. The next morning about
break of day, going again on board the ves-
sel, we reached Falmouth on the main before
night; where our horses being brought, we



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LIFE OF JOHN WOOLMAN.



proceeded toward Sandwich Quarterly Meet-
ing.

Being two days in going to Nantucket,
and having heen there once before, I observed
many shoals in their bay, which make sailing
more dangerous, especially in stormy nights ;
also, that a great shoal, which encloses their
harbour, prevents their going in with sloops,
except when the tide is up. Waiting without
this shoal for the rising of the tide, is some-
times hazardous in storms: waiting within,
they sometimes miss a fair wind. I took no-
tice that on this small island was a great num-
ber of inhabitants, and the soil not very fer-
tile ; the timber so gone, that for vessels,
fences and firewood, they depend chiefly on
the buying from the main ; to answer the cost
whereof, with most of their other expences,
they depend principally upon the whale fish-
ery. I considered that as towns grew larger,
and lands near navigable waters were more
cleared, it would require more labour to get
timber and wood. I understood that the
whales being much hunted, and sometimes
wounded and not killed, grew more shy and
difficult to come at: I considered that the
formation of the earth, the seas, the islands,
bays and rivers, the motion of the winds and
great waters, which cause bars and shoals in
particular places, were all the works of Him
who is perfect wisdom and goodness ; and as
people attend to his heavenly instruction, and
put their trust in him, he provides for them in
all parts, where he gives them a being. In
this visit to these people, I felt a strong desire
for their firm establishment on the sure foun-
dation ; and besides what was said more pub-
licly, I was concerned to speak with the wo-
men Friends, in their Monthly Meeting of
business, many being present; and in the
fresh spring of pure love, to open before
them the advantage, both inward and out-
ward, of attending singly to the pure guid-
ance of the Holy Spirit, and therein to edu-
cate their children in true humility, and the
disuse of all superfluities, reminding them of
the difficulties their husbands and sons were
frequently exposed to at sea; and that the
more plain and simple their way of living
was, the less need there would be of running
great hazards to support them in it. I en-
couraged the young women in their neat de-
cent way of attending themselves on the affairs
of the bouse ; showing, as the way opened,
that where people were truly humble, used
themselves to business, and were content with
a plain way of life, it had ever been attended
with more true peace and calmness of mind,
than they have had who, aspiring to great-
ness and outward show, have grasped hard
for an income to support themselves in it.



As I observed they had few or no slaves
amongst them, I had to encourage them to be
content without them; making mention of the
numerous troubles and vexations, which fre-
quently attend the minds of people, who de-
pend on slaves to do their labour.

We attended the Quarterly Meeting at
Sandwich, in company with Ann Gaunt and
Mercy Redman, which was preceded by a
Monthly Meeting, and in the whole held three
days. We were, in various ways exercised
amongst them in Gospel love, according to
the several gifls bestowed on us ; and were at
times, overshadowed with the virtue of Truth,
to the comfort of the sincere and the stirring
up of the negligent. Here we parted with
Ann and Mercy, and went to Rhode Island,
taking one meeting in our way, which was a
satisfactory time ; and reaching Newport the
evening before their Quarterly Meeting, we
attend^ it ; and after that had a meeting with
our young people, separated from those of
other societies. We went through much la-
bour in this town ; and now in taking leave
of it, though I felt close inward exercise to
the last, I found peace ; and was in some de-
gree comforted in a belief, that a good num*
ber remain in that place, who retain a sense
of Truth ; and that there are some young
people attentive to the voice of the heavenly
Shepherd. The last meeting in which Friends
from the several parts of the quarter came to-
gether, was select ; and through the renewed
manifestation of the Father's love, the hearts
of the sincere were united together.

That poverty of spirit and inward weak-
ness, with which I was much tried during the
fore part of this journey, has of hite appeared
to me to be a dispensation of kindness. Ap-
pointing meetings never appeared more weighty
to me. I was led into a deep search, whether
in all things my mind was resigned to the will
of God ; oflen querying with myself, what
should be the cause of such inward poverty;
and greatly desired that no secret reserve in
my heart might hinder my access to the Di-
vine fountain. In these humbling tines I was
made watchful, and excited to attend to the
secret movings of the heavenly principle in
my mind which prepared the way to some
duties, that in more easy and prosperous
times as to the outward, I believe I should
have been in danger of omitting.

From Newport we went to Greenwich,
Shanticut and Warwick ; and were helped to
labour amongst Friends in the love of our
gracious Redeemer; and then, accompanied
by our friend John Casey from Newport, we
rode through Connecticut to Oblong, visited
the meetings of Friends in those parts, and
thence proceeded to the Quarterly Meeting at



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Ryewoods ; and through the gracious eztend-
ings of Divine help, had some seasoning op-
portunities in those places. We visited Friends
at Nevir York and Flushing ; and thence to
Rahway; and here our roads parting, I took
leave of my beloved companion and true
yoke*mate Samuel Eastburn; and reached
home on the 1 0th day of the eighth month,
1760, where I found my family well: and
for the favours and protection of the Lord,
both inward and outward, extended to me in
this journey, my heart is humbled in grateful
acknowledgements; and 1 find renewed de-
sires to dwell and walk in resignedness before
bim*



CHAPTER VIIL
His vtttte to Pemuy/vomo, ShrewMbury and
Sqtuat-^pMiahea the aeeond part of his Con-
tideratunu on keeping negroeo — Tke grounds
of his appearing in some respects singular in
his dress^visits the families qf Friends qf
Aneocas and Mount HoUy meetings — visit to
the Indians at Wehdloosing on the river Sus-
quehanna,

Hatino felt my mind drawn toward a visit
to a few meetings in Pennsylvania, I was very
desirous to be rightly instructed ad to the time
of setting off. On the 10th day of the fifth
niODth, 1761, being the first-day of the week,
1 went to Haddonfield meeting, concluding to
seek for heavenly instruction, 9nd to come
home or go on, as I might then believe best
for me ; and there, through the springing up
of pure love, I felt encouragement, and so
crossed the river. In this visit I was at two
Quarterly and three Monthly Meetings ; and
in the love of Truth, felt my way open to
labour with some noted Friends who kept ne<
groes ; and as I was favoured to keep to the
root, and endeavoured to discharge what I
believed was required of me, 1 found inward
peace therein from time to time ; and thank-
fulness of heart to the Lord, who was gra-
ciously pleased to be a guide to me.

In the eighth month, 1761, having felt
drawings in my mind to visit Friends in and
about Shrewsbury, I went there, and was at
their Monthly Meeting, and the meeting on
first-day; had a meeting at Squan, and an-
other at Squankum ; and as way opened, had
conversation with some noted Friends con-
cerning their slaves : and I returned home in



Online LibraryWilliam EvansThe Friends' library: comprising journals, doctrinal treatieses, & other writings of members of the religious Society of Freinds → online text (page 79 of 104)