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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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a thankful sense of the goodness of the Lord.

From the care I had felt growing in me for
some years, I wrote Considerations on keep-
ing Negroes, part the second; which was
printed during this year 1762. When the
overseers of the press had done with it, they



oflfered to get a number printed, to be paid A>r
out of the Yearly Meeting stock, and to be
given away; but I being most easy to publish
them at my own expense, and offering my
reasons they appeared satisfied.

This stock is the contribution of the mem-
bers of our religious Society in general;
amount whom are some who keep negroes,
and being inclined to continue them in slave-
ry, are not likely to be satisfied with those
books being spread amongst a people where
many of the slaves are taught to read, and
especially at their expense; and such re-
ceiving them as a gift, often conceal them.
But as they who make a purchase, generally
buy that which they have a mind for, I be*
lieved it best to sell them; expecting, by that
means, they would more generally be read
with attention. Advertisements being signed
by order of the overseers of the press, di-
rected to be read in Monthly Meetings of bu-
siness within our own Yearly Meeting, in-
forming where the books were, and that the
price was no more than the cost of printing
and binding them ; many were taken off in
our parts ; some I sent to Virginia, some to
New York, and some to Newport, to my ac-
quaintance there ; and some I kept, expecting
to give part of them away, where there ap*
peared a prospect of service.

In my youth I was used to hard labour;
and though I was middling healthy, yet my
nature was not fitted to endure so much as
many others. Being often weary, I was pre*
pared to sympathize with those whose cir-
cumstances in life, as free men, required con-
stant labour to answer the demands of their
creditors ; and with others under oppression.
In the uneasiness of body, which I have many
times felt by too much labour, not as a forced
but a voluntary oppression, I have often been
excited to think on the original cause of that
oppression which is imposed on many in the
world. During the latter part of the time
wherein I laboured on our plantation, my
heart through the fresh visitations of hea-
venly love, being often tender; and my lei-
sure time frequently spent in reading the life
and doctrines of our blessed Redeemer, the
account of the sufferings of martyrs, and the
history of the first rise of our Society; a be-
lief was gradually settled in my mind, that if
such who have great estates, generally lived
in that humility and plainness which belongs
to a Christian life, and laid much easier rents
and interests on their lands and monies, and
thus led the way to a right use of things, so
great a number of people might be employed
in things useful, that labour both for men and
other creatures would need to be no more
than an agreeable employ; and divers branches



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LIFE OF JOHN WOOLMAN.



of business which serve chiefly to please the
natural inclinations of our minds, and which,
at present, seem necessary to circulate that
wealth which some gather, might in this way
of pure wisdom be discontinued. As I have
thus considered these things, a query at times
hath arisen ; Do I in all my proceedings, keep
to that use of things which is agreeable to
universal righteousness ? And then there hath
some degree of sadness at times come over
me; because I accustomed myself to some
things which occasioned more labour than I
believe Divine wisdom intends for us.

From my early acquaintance with Truth,
I have oflen felt an inward distress, occasioned
by the striving of a spirit in me, against the
operation of the heavenly principle; and in
this circumstance have been aflected with a
sense of my own wretchedness, and in a
mourning condition felt earnest longings for
that Divine help, which brings the soul into
true liberty. Sometimes in this state, retiring
into private places, the spirit of supplication
hath been given me ; and under a heavenly
covering, I have asked my gracious Father to
give me a heart in all things resigned to the
direction of his wisdom ; and in uttering lan-
guage like this, the thoughts of my wearing
hats and garments dyed with a dye hurtful to
them, have made lasting impressions on me.

In visiting people of note in the Society
who had slaves, and labouring with them in
brotherly love on that account, I have seen,
and the sight has affected me, that a con-
formity to some customs distinguishable from
pure wisdom, has entangled many; and that
the desire of gain to support these customs,
greatly opposed the work of Truth. Some-
times when the prospect of the work before
me has been such, that in bowedness of spirit
I have been drawn into retired places, and be-
sought the Lord with tears that he would take
me wholly under his direction, and show me
the way in which I ought to walk ; it has re-
vived with strength of conviction, that if I
would be his faithful servant, I must in all
things attend to his wisdom, and be teachable;
and cease from all customs contrary thereto,
however used amongst religious people.

As he is the perfection of power, of wisdom
andof goodness, so I believe he hath provided
that so much labour shall be necessary for
men^s support in this world, as would, being
rightly divided, be a suitable employment of
their time ; and that we cannot go into super-
fluities, or grasp ader wealth in a way con-
trary to his wisdom, without having connexion
with some degree of oppression, and with that
spirit which leads to selAexaltation and strife,
and which frequently brings calamities on



countries, by parties contending about their
claims.

Being thus fully convinced, and feeling an
increasing desire to live in the spirit of peace;
being oAen sorrowfully afiected in thinking
on the unquiet spirit in which wars are gene-
rally carried on, and with the miseries of
many of my fellow-creatures engaged therein;
some suddenly destroyed; some wounded, and
aAer much pain remain cripples; some de-
prived of all their outward substance and re-
duced to want; and some carried into cap-
tivity — thinking oflen on these things, the use
of hats and garments dyed with a dye hurtful
to them, and wearing more clothes in summer
than are useful, grew more uneasy to me; be-
lieving them to be customs which have not
their foundation in pure wisdom. The appre-
hension of being singular from my beloved
friends, was a strait upon me ; and thus I re-
mained in the use of some things contrary to
my judgment.

On the dlst day of the fiAh month, 1761,
I was taken ill of a fever ; and afler having
it near a week, I was in great distress of body.
And one day there was a cry raised in me,
that I might understand the cause why I was
afflicted, and improve under it. My con-
formity to some customs which I believed
were not right, was then brought to my re-
membrance; and in the continuation of the
exercise, I felt all the powers in me yield
themselves up into the hands of Him who
gave me being ; and was made thankful that
he had taken hold of me by his chastisenient.
Feeling the necessity of further purifying,
there was now no desire in me for health,
until the design of my correction was an-
swered; and thus I lay in abasement and
brokenness of spirit, and as I felt a sinking
down into a calm resignation, so I felt as io
an instant, an inward healing in my nature;
and from that time forward I grew better.

Though I was thus settled in mind in rela-
tion to hurtful dyes, I felt easy to wear my
garments heretofore made ; and so continued
about nine months. Then I thought of get-
ting a hat the natural colour of the fur; but
the apprehension of being looked upon as one
affecting singularity, felt uneasy to me. Here
I had occasion to consider, that things though
small in themselves, being clearly enjoined
by Divine authority, became great things to
us; and I trusted that the Lord would support
me in the trials that might attend singularity,
while that singularity was only for his sake.
On this account I was under close exercise of
mind in the time of oar General Spring Meet-
ing in 1762, greatly desiring to be rightly di-
rected ; and l^ing deeply bowed in spirit be-



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LIFE OP JOHN WOOLMAN.



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fore the Lord, I was made willing to submit
to what I apprehended was required of me ;
and when I returned home, got a hat of the
natural colour of the fur.

In attending meetings this singularity was
a trial upon me, and more especially at this
time, white hats being used by some who were
fond of following the changeable modes of
dress; and as some Friends who knew not
on what motives I wore it, carried shy of me,
I ielt my way for a time shut up in the exer-
cise of the ministry. In this condition, my
mind being turned toward my heavenly Fa-
ther, with fervent cries that I might be pre-
served to walk before him in the meekness of
wisdom, my heart was often tender in meet-
ings ; and I felt inward consolation, which to
me was very precious under those difficulties.

I had several dyed garments fit for use,
which I believed it best to wear till I had oc-
casion for new ones. Some Friends were ap-
prehensive that my wearing such a hat sa-
voured of an afiected singularity; and such
who spoke with me in a friendly way, I gene-
rally informed in a few words, that I believed
my wearing it was not in my own will. I had
at times been sensible that a superficial friend-
ship had been dangerous to me; and many
Friends being now uneasy with me, I had an
inclination to acquaint some with the manner
of my being led into these things ; yet upon
a deeper thought I was for a time most easy
to omit it, believing the present dispensation
was profitable ; and trusting that if I kept my
place, the Lord in his own time would open
the hearts of Friends toward me : since which
I have had cause to admire his goodness and
loving-kindness, in leading about and instruct-
ing, and opening and enlarging my heart in
sooie of our meetings.

In the eleventh month of the year 1762,
feeling an engagement of mind to visit some
families in Mansfield, I joined my beloved
friend Benjamin Jones, and we spent a few
days together in that service. In the second
month, 1763, 1 joined in company with Eliza-
beth Smith and Mary Noble, on a visit to the
families of Friends at Ancocas; in both which
visits, through the baptizing power of Truth,
the sincere labourera were often comforted,
and the hearts of Friends opened to receive
us. In the fourth month following, I accom-
panied some Friends in a visit to the families
of Friends in Mount Holly ; in which my mind
was often drawn into an inward awfulness,
wherein strong desires were raised for the
everlasting welfare of my fellow-creatures;
and through the kindness of our heavenly
Father, our hearts were at times enlarged,
and Friends invited in the flowings of Divine



love, to attend to that which would settle them
on the sure foundation.

Having many years felt love in my heart
toward the natives of this land, who dwell far
back in the wilderness, whose ancestors were
the owners and possessors of the land where
we dwell ; and who for a very small conside-
ration, assigned their inheritance to us ; and
being at Philadelphia in the eighth month,
1761, on a visit to some Friends who had
slaves, I fell in company with some of those
natives who lived on the east branch of the
river Susquehanna, at an Indian town called
Wehaloosing, two hundred miles from Phila-
delphia. In conversation with them by an
interpreter, as also by observations on their
countenances and conduct, I believed some of
them were measurably acquainted with that
Divine power which subjects the rough and
froward will of the creature ; and at times I
felt inward drawings toward a visit to that
place of which I told none except my dear
wife, until it came to some ripeness. In the
winter of 1762, 1 laid it before Friends at our
Monthly and Quarterly, and afterwards at our
General Spring Meeting; and having the unity
of Friends, and being thoughtful alK>ut an In-
dian pilot, there came a man and three wo-
men from a little beyond that town to Phila-
delphia on business. Being informed thereof
by letter, I met them in town in the fifth
month, 1763; and after some conversation,
finding they were sober people, with the con-
currence of Friends in that place, I agreed to
join them as companions in their return. Oo
the 7th day of the sixth month following, we
appointed to nneet at Samuel Fbulk's, at Rich-
land, in Bucks county. As this visit felt
weighty, and was performed at a time when
travelling appeared perilous, so the dispensa-
tions of Divine Providence in preparing my
mind for it, have been memorable ; and I be-
lieve it good for me to give some hints thereof.

Afler I had given up to go, the thoughts of
the journey were often attended with unusual
sadness ; in which times my heart was fre-
quently turned to the Lord with inward
breathings for his heavenly support, that I
might not fail to follow him wheresoever he
might lead me. Being at our Youths' meeting
at Chesterfield, about a week before the time
I expected to set ofiT, I was there led to speak
on that prayer of our Redeemer to his Father;
** I pray not that thou shouldst take them out
of the world, but that thou shouldst keep them
from the evil." In attending to the pure
openings of Truth, I had to mention what he
elsewhere said to his Father; ^<I know that
thou hearest me at all times:" so that as
some of his followera kept their places, and



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368



LIFE OF JOHN WOOLMAN.



as his prayer was granted, it followed Deces<
sarily that they were kept from evil. As some
of those met with great hardships and afflic-
tions in this world, and at last suffered death
by cruel men ; it appears that whatsoever be-
falls men while they live in pure obedience to
God, as it certainly works for their good, so
it may not be considered an evil as it relates
to them. As I spoke on this subject, my
heart was much tendered, and great awfulness
came over me ; and on the first-day of the
next week at our own afternoon meeting, my
heart being enlarged in love, I was led to
speak on the care and protection of the Lord
over his people, and to make mention of that
passage where a band of Assyrians endea-
vouring to take the prophet captive, were dis-
appointed ; and how the psalmist said, ** the
angel of the Lord encampeth round about
them that fear him.'^ I parted from Friends
in true love and tenderness, expecting the
next morning to proceed on my journey; and
being weary, went early to b^ : and afler I
had been asleep a short time, I was awaked
by a man calling at my door; and arising,
was invited to meet some Friends at a public
house in our town, who came from Philadel-
phia so late that Friends were generally gone
to bed. These Friends informed me that an
express arrived the last morning from Pitts-
burgh, and brought news that the Indians had
taken a fort from the English westward, and
slain and scalped English people in divers
places, some near Pittsburgh ; and that some
elderly Friends in Philadelphia knowing the
time of my expecting to set off, had conferred
together, and thought good to inform roe of
these things before I left home, that I might
consider them and proceed as I believed b^t.
I went to bed again, and told not my wife till
morning* My heart was turned to the Lord
for his heavenly instruction; and it was an
humbling time to me. When I told my dear
wife, she appeared to be deeply concerned
about it ; but in a few hours time, my mind
became settled in a belief that it was my duty
to proceed on my journey; and she bore it
with a good degree of resignation. In this
conflict of spirit, there were great searchings
of heart and strong cries to the Lord, that no
motion might be in the least degree attended
to, but that of the pure Spirit of Truth.

The subjects before mentioned, on which I
had so lately spoken in public, were now very
fresh before me ; and I was brought inwardly
to commit myself to the Lord, to be disposed
of as he saw best. I took leave of my family
and neighbours in much bowedness of spirit,
and went to our Monthly Meeting at Burling-
ton ; and afler taking leave of Friends there,
I crossed the river accompanied by my friends



Israel and John Pemberton ; and parting the
next morning with Israel, John bore me com-
pany to Samuel Foulk's ; where I met the be-
fore mentioned Indians, and we were glad to
see each other. Here my friend B^jamin
Parvin met me, and proposed joining as a
companion, we having passed some letters
before on the subject; and now on his ac-
count I had a sharp trial ; for as the journey
appeared perilous, I thought if he went chiefly
to bear me company, and we should be taken
captive, my having been the means of draw-
ing him into these diflicuUies, would add to
my own afflictions. So I told him my mind
freely, and let him know that I was resigned
to go alone,; but after all, if he really believed
it to be his duty to go on, I believed his com-
pany would be very comfortable to me. It
was indeed a time of deep exercise, and Ben-
jamin appeared to be so fastened to the visit,
that he could not be easy to leave noe ; so we
went on, accompanied by our friends John
Pemberton and William Lightfoot, of Pike^
land, and lodged at Bethlehem. Parting there
with John, William and we went forward on
the 9lh day of the sixth month, and got lodg^
ing on the floor of a house about five miles
from Fort Allen. Here we parted with Wil-
liaoK At this place we met with an Indian
trader, lately come from Wyoming; and in
conversation with him, I perceived that white
people often sell rum to the Indians, which I
believe is a great evil ; first, they being there-
by deprived of the use of their reason, and
their spirits violently agitated, quarrels often
arise which end in mischief; and the bitter-
ness and resentments occasioned hereby, are
frequently of long continuance. Again, their
skins and furs, gotten through much latigue
and hard travels in hunting, with which they
intended to buy clothing, when they become
intoxicated, they often sell at a low rate for
more rum; and afterward, when they sufller
for want of the necessaries of life, are angry
with those who for the sake of gain, took the
advantage of their weakness. Of this their
chiefs have often complained, at their treaties
with the English. Where cunning peof^e
pass counterfeits, and impose that on others
which is good for nothing, it is considered as
a wickedness ; but to sell that to people which
we know does them harm, and which often
works their ruin, for the sake of gain, mani-
fests a hardened and corrupt heart ; and is an
evil which demands the care of all true lovers
of virtue to suppress. While my mind this
evening was thus employed, I also remeni-
bered that the people on the frontiers, among
whom this evil is too common, are often poor;
who venture to the outside of a colony, that
they may live more independently of such



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LIFE OP JOHN WOOLMAN.



869



who are wealthy, who often set high rents on
their land. I was renewedly confirnied in a
belief, that if all our inhabitants lived accord*
ing to sound wisdom, labouring to promote
universal love and righteousness, and ceased
from every inordinate desire after wealth, and
from all customs which are tinctured with
luxury, the way would be easy for the in-
habitants, though much more numerous than
at present, to live comfortably on honest em-
ployments, without that temptation they are
often under of being drawn into schemes to
make settlements on lands which have not
been purchased of the Indians, or of applying
to the wicked practice of selling rum to them.

On the 10th day of the month we set out
early in the morning, and crossed the western
branch of Delaware, called the Great Lehigh,
near Fort Allen; the water being high, we
went over in a canoe. Here we met an In-
dian, and had some friendly conversation with
him, and gave him some biscuit ; and he hav-
ing killed a deer, gave the Indians with us
some of it. After travelling some miles, we
met several Indian men and women with a
cow and horse and some household goods,
who weFe lately come from their dwelling at
Wyoming, and going to settle at another
place; we made them some small presents;
and some of them understanding English, I
told them my motive in coming into their
country; with which they appeared satisfied.
One of our guides talking a while with an
ancient woman concerning us, the poor old
woman came to my companion and me, and
took her leave of us with an appearance of
sincere affection. So going on we pitched our
tent near the banks of the same river, having
laboured hard in crossing some of those moun-
tains called the Blue Ridge; and by the rough-
ness of the stones and the cavities between
them, and the steepness of the hills, it ap-
pearcMi dangerous : but we were preserved in
safety, through the kindness of Him whose
works in those mountainous deserts appeared
awfal; toward whom my heart was turned
during this day's travel.

Near our tent, on the sides of large trees
peeled for that purpose, were various repre-
sentations of men going to and returning from
the wars, and of some killed in battle. This
being a path heretofore used by warriors; and
as I walked about viewing those Indian histo-
ries, which were painted mostly in red but
some in black, and thinking on the innume-
rable afflictions which the proud, fierce spirit
produceth in the world ; thinking on the toils
and feiigues of warriors, travelling over moun-
tains and deserts ; thinking on their miseries
and distresses when wounded far from home
by their enemies; and of their bruises and

Vol. IV.— No. 10.



great weariness in chasing one another over
the rocks and mountains ; and of their rest-
less, unquiet state of mind, who live in this
spirit; and of the hatred which mutually
grows up in the minds of the children of
those nations en^ged in war with each other:
during these meditations, the desire to cherish
the spirit of love and peace amongst these
people, arose very fresh in me. This was
the first night that we lodged in the woods ;
and being wet with travelling in the rain, the
ground, our tent, and the bushes which we
purposed to lay under our blankets also wet,
all looked discouraging ; but I believed that it
was the Lord who had thus far brought me
forward, and that he would dispose of me as
he saw good, and therein I felt easy. We
kindled a fire with our tent open to it ; and
with some bushes next the ground, and then
our blankets, we made our bed; and lying
down, got some sleep: and in the morning
feeling a little unwell, I went into the river ;
the water was cold, but soon after I felt fresh
and well.

The 11th day of the sixth month, the
bushes being wet, we tarried in our tent till
about eight o'clock ; when going on, crossed
a high mountain supposed to be upward of
four miles over; the steepness on the north
side exceeding all the others : we also crossed
two swamps; and it raining near night, we
pitched our tent and lodged.

About noon, on our way we were overtaken
by one of the Moravian brethren going to.
Wehaloosing, and an Indian man with him
who could talk English; and we being to-
gether while our horses eat grass, had some
friendly conversation; but they travelling
faster than we, soon left us. This Moravian,
I understood had spent some time this spring
at Wehaloosing ; and was by some of the In-
dians, invited to come again.

The lath day of the sixth month and first
of the week, it being rainy, we continued in
our tent ; and here I was led to think on the
nature of the exercise which hath attended
me. Love was the first motion, and thence
a concern arose to spend some time with the
Indians, that I might feel and understand
their life and the spirit they live in, if haply
I might receive some instruction from them,
or they be in any degree helped forward by
my following the leadings of Truth amongst
them. As it pleased the Lord to make way
for my going at a time when the troubles of
war were increasing, and by reason of much
wet weather, travelling was more difficult than
usual, I looked upon it as a more favourable
opportunity to season my mind, and bring me
into a nearer sympathy with them : and as
mine eye was to the great Father of mercies,



Online LibraryWilliam EvansThe Friends' library: comprising journals, doctrinal treatieses, & other writings of members of the religious Society of Freinds → online text (page 80 of 104)