William Evans.

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

. (page 87 of 104)
Online LibraryWilliam EvansThe Friends' library: comprising journals, doctrinal treatieses, & other writings of members of the religious Society of Freinds → online text (page 87 of 104)
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be doing as we would be done by.

How deeply soever men are involved in dif-

ficulties, sincerity of heart, and upright walk-
ing before God, freely submitting to his provi-
dence, is the most sure remedy. He only is
able to relieve, not only persons but nations
in their greatest calamities.

David in a great strait, when the sense of
his past error, and the full expectation of an
impending calamity as the reward of it were
united to aggravate his dbtress, after some de-
liberation, saith, ** Let me fall now into the
hand of the Lord, for very great are his mer-
cies ; let me not fall into the hand of man."

To act continually with integrity of heart,
above all narrow or selfish motives, is a sure
token of our being partakers of that salva-
tion which <'God hath appointed for widls
and bulwarks," and is, beyond all contradic-
tion, a more happy situation than can ever be
promised by the utmost reach of art and
power united, not proceeding from heavenly

A supply to nature's lawful wants, joined
with a peaceful humble mind, is the truest
happiness in this life; and if we arrive at
this, and continue to walk in the path of the
just, our case will be truly happy. Though
herein we may part with, or miss of the glar-
ing show of riches, and leave our children lit-
tle else but wise in8tructk)ns, a good example,
and the knowledge of some honest employ-
ment ; these, with the blessing of Providence,
are sufficient for their happiness, and are more
likely to prove so, than la3dng up treasures
for them, which are often rather a snare, than
any real benefit ; especially to those, who in-
stead of being exampled to temperance, are
in all things taught to prefer the getting of
riches, and to eye the temporal distinctions
they give, as the principal business of this life.
These readily overlook the true happiness of
man, which results from the enjoyment of all
things in the fear of God, and miserably sub-
stituting an inferior good, dangerous in the ac-
quiring and uncertain in the fruition, they are
subject to many disappointments, and every
sweet carries its sting.

It is the conclusion of our^blessed Lord and
his apostles, as appears by their lives and
doctrines, that the highest delights of sense,
or most pleasing objects visible, ought ever to
be accounted infinitely inferior to that real
intellectual happiness, suited to man in his
primitive innocence, and now to be found in
true renovation of mind ; and that the com-
forts of our present life, the things nKMt
grateful to us, ought always to be received
with temperance, and never made the chief
objects of our desire, hope, or love ; but that
our whole heart and affections be principally
looking to that *' city, which hath foundations,
whose maker and builder is God." Do we so

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improve the gifts bestowed on us, that our
children might have an education suited to
these doctrines, and our example to confirm
it, we might rejoice in hopes of their being
heirs of an inheritance incorruptible.

This inheritance, as Christians, we esteem
the most valuable ; and how then can we fail
to desire it for our children ? O that we were
oonsistent with ourselves^ in pursuing the
means necessary to obtain it !

It appears by experience, that where chil-
dren are educated in fulness, ease, and idle-
ness, evil habits are more prevalent, than is
common amongst such who are prudently
employed in the necessary aflfairs of life. If
children are not only educated in the way
of so great temptation, but have also the
opportunity of lording it over their fellow-
creatures, and being masters of men in their
childhood, how can we hope otherwise than
that their tender minds will be possessed with
thoughts too high for them; which gaining
strength by continuance, will prove like a
alow current, gradually separating them from
or keeping from acquaintance with that hu-
Biility and meekness in which alone lasting
happiness can be enjoyed.

Man is bom to labour, and experience
abundantly showeth, that it is for our good :
but where the powerful lay the burthen
on the inferior, without affording a Chris-
tian education, and suitable opportunity of im-
proving the mind, and a treatment which we,
in their ease, should approve, in order that
themselves may live at ease, and fare sumptu-
ously, and lay up riches for their posterity,
this seems to contradict the design of Provi-
dence, and I doubt not, is sometimes the efiect
of a perverted mind ; for while the life of one
is made grievous by the rigour of another, it
entails misery on both.

Amongst the manifold works of Providence,
displayed in the different ages of the world,
these which follow, with many others, may
afford instruction.

Abraham was called of God to leave his
country and kindred, to sojourn amongst
strangers. Through famine, and danger of
death, he was forced to flee from one king-
dom to another ; yet, at length, he not only
had assurance of being the father of many
nations, but became a mighty prince. Gene-
sis xxiit. 6.

Remarkable were the dealings of God with
Jacob in a low estate, the just sense he re-
tained of them after his advancement, appears
by his words : *' I am not worthy of the least
of all thy mercies."

The numerous afflictions of Joseph are very
singular; the particular providence of God
therein, no less manifest: he at length be-

came governor of Egypt, and famous for wis-
dom and virtue.

The series of troubles which David passed
through, few amongst us are ignorant of; and
yet he afterwards became as one of the great
men of the earth.

Some evidences of the Divine wisdom ap-
pear in those things, in that such who are
intended for high stations, have first been very
low and dejected, that Truth might be sealed
on their hearts ; and that the characters there
imprinted by bitterness and adversity, might
in after years remain, suggesting compassion-
ate ideas, and in their prosperity, quicken
their regard to those in the like condition.
This yet further appears in the case of Israel;
who were well acquainted with grievous suffer-
ings, a long and rigorous servitude; and then
through many notable events, were made chief
amongst the nations. To them we find a re-
petition of precepts to the purpose abovesaid :
though for ends agreeable to infinite wisdom,
they were chosen as a peculiar people for a
time ; yet the Most High acquaints them, that
his love is not confined, but extends to the
stranger; and to excite their compassion, re-
minds them of times past, " Ye were strangers
in the land of Egypt." Again, " Thou shalt
not oppress a stranger, for ye know the heart
of a stranger, seeing ye were strangers in the
land of Egypt."

If we call to mind our beginning, some of
us may find a time, wherein our fathers were
under afflictions, reproaches, and manifold

Respecting our progress in this land, the
time is short since our beginning was small
and number few, compared with the native
inhabitants. He that sleeps not by day nor
night, hath watched over us, and kept us as
the apple of his eye. His Almighty arm hath
been round about us, and saved us from dan-

The wilderness and solitary deserts in which
our fathers passed the days of their pilgrimage,
are now turned into pleasant fields; the natives
are gone from before us, and we established
peaceably in the possession of the land, en-
joying our civil and religious liberties; and
while many parts of the world have groaned
under the heavy calamities of war, our habita-
tion remains quiet, and our land fruitful.

When we trace back the steps we have trod- '
den, and see how the Lord hath opened a way
in the wilderness for us, to the wise it will
easily appear, that all this was not done to be
buried in oblivion; but to prepare a people for
more fruitful returns, and the remembrance
thereof ought to humble us in prosperity, and
excite in us a Christian benevolence towards
our inferiors.

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If we do not consider these things aright,
but through a stupid indolence, conceive
views of interest separate from the general
good of the great brotherhood, and in pursu-
ance thereof, treat our inferiors with rigour
to increase our wealth, and gain riches for
our children ; ^' What then shall we do when
God riseth up? and when he visileth, what
shall we answer him ? did not he that made
us, make them? and did not one fashion us?"

To our great Master we stand or fall, to
judge or condemn us as is most suitable to his
wisdom or authority ; my inclination is to per-
suade, and entreat, and simply give hints of
my way of thinking.

If the Christian religion be considered, both
respecting its doctrines, and the happy influ-
ence which it hath on the minds and manners
of all real Christians, it looks reasonable to
think, that the miraculous manifestation there-
of to the world, is a kindness beyond expres-

Are we the people thus favoured? Are we
they whose minds are opened, influenced, and
governed by the Spirit of Christ, and thereby
made sons of God? Is it not a fair conclusion,
that we, like our heavenly Father, ought in
our degree to be active in the same great
cause, of the eternal happiness of, at least
our whole fisimilies, and more, if thereto capa-
citated ?

If we, by the operation of the Spirit of
Christ, become heirs with him in the king-
dom of his Father, and are redeemed from
the alluring counterfeit joys of this world,
and the joy of Christ remain in us, to sup-
pose that one in this happy condition, can,
for the sake of earthly riches, not only de-
prive his fellow-creatures of the sweetness of
freedom, which rightly used, is one of the
greatest temporal blessings, but therewith neg-
lect using proper means for their acquaintance
with the Holy Scriptures, and the advantage
of true religion, seems at least a contradic-
tion to reason.

Whoever rightly advocates the cause of
some, thereby promotes the good of all. The
state of mankind was harmonious in the be-
ginning, and though sin hath introduced dis-
cord, yet through the wonderful love of Grod
in Christ Jesus our Lord, the way is open for
our redemption, and means appointed to re-
store us to primitive harmony. That if one
sufler by the unfaithfulness of another, the
mind, the most noble part of him that occa-
sions the discord, is thereby alienated from its
true and real happiness.

Our duty and interest are inseparably united,
and when we neglect or misuse our talents, we
necessarily depart from the heavenly fellow-
ship, and are in the way to the greatest of evils.

Therefore to examine and prove ourselves,
to find what harmony the power presiding in
us bears with the Divine nature, is a duty not
more incumbent and necessary, than it would
be beneficial.

In Holy Writ the Divine Being saith of him-
self, '' I am the Lord, which exercise loving-
kindness, judgment and righteousness in the
earth ; for in these things 1 delight, saith the
Lord." Again, speaking in the way of man,
to show his compassion to Israel, whose wick-
edness had occasioned a calamity, and then
being humbled under it, it is said, ^ His soul
was grieved for their miseries." If we con-
sider the life of our blessed Saviour when on
earth, as it is recorded by his followers, we
shall find that one uniform desire for the eter-
nal and temporal good of mankind, discover-
ed itself in all his actions.

If we observe men, both apostles and
others, in many difllerent ages, who have
really come to the unity of the Spirit, and
the fellowship of the saints, there still appears
the like disposition, and in them the desire for
the real happiness of mankind, has out-bal-
anced the desire of ease, liberty, and many
times, of life itself.

If upon a true search, we find that our na-
tures are so far renewed, that to exercise right-
eousness and lovinff-kindness, according to our
ability, towards tSi men, without respect of
persons, is easy to us, or is our delight; if our
love be so orderly and regular, that be who
doeth the will of our Father who is in heaven,
appears in our view to be our nearest rda-
tion, our brother, and sister, and mother ; if
this be our case, there is a good foundation to
hope, that the blessing of God will sweeten
our treasures during our stay in this life, and
that our memory will be savoury, wh^ we
are entered into rest.

To conclude, It is a truth most certain, that
a life guided by wisdom from above, agreea-
bly with justice, equity and mercy, is through-
out consistent and amiable, and truly benefi-
cial to society ; the serenity and calmness of
mind in it, afibrds an unparalleled comfort in
this life, and the end of it is blessed.

And it is no less true, that they who in the
midst of high favours remain ungrateful, and
under all the advantages that a Christian can
desire, are selfish, earthly and sensual, do
miss the true fountain of happiness, and wan-
der in a maze of dark anxiety, where all
their treasures are insufllcient to quiet their
minds: hence from an insatiable craving, they
neglect doing good with what they have ac-
quired, and too often add oppression to vanity,
that they may compass more.

" O that they were wise, that they understood
this, that they would consider their lattter end !"

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" Ye shall not respect penons in jadgment ; but ye Bhall hear the imaU u well u the great : ye shall
not be afraid of the face of man ; fiur the judgment is GodV Deut. 1 17.


All our actions are of like nature with
their root ; and the Most High weigheth them
more skilfully than men can weigh them one
fi>r another.

I believe that one Supreme Being made and
supports the world; nor can I worship any
other Deity without being an idolater, and
guilty of wickedness.

Many nations have believed in and wor-
shipped a plurality of deities; but I do not
believe they were therefore all wicked. Idol-
atry indeed is wickedness ; but it is the thing,
Dot the name, which is. so. Real idolatry is
to pay that adoration to a creature, which is
known to be due only to the true God.

He who professeth to believe in one Almighty
Creator, and in his Son Jesus Christ, and yet
is more intent on the honours, profits and
friendships of the world, than be is in single*
ness of heart to stand faithful to the Christian
religion, is in the channel of idolatry; while
the Gentile, who under some mistaken opin-
ions, is notwithstanding established in the true
principle of virtue, and humbly adores an Al-
mighty power, may be of that number who
fear God and work righteousness.

I believe the bishop of Rome assumes a
power that does not belong to any officer in
the church of Christ ; and if I should know-
ingly do any thing tending to strengthen him
in that capacity, it would be great iniquity.
There are many thousands of people, who by
their profession acknowledge him to be the
representative of Jesus Christ on earth ; and
to say that none of them are upright in heart,
would be contrary to my sentiments.

Men who sincerely apply their minds to
true virtue, and find an inward support from
Vol. IV.вАФ No. 11.

above, by which all vicious inclinations are
made subject ; that they love God sincerely,
and prefer the real good of mankind univer-
sally to their own private interest; though
these through the strength of education and
tradition, may remain under some speculative
and great errors, it would be uncharitable to
say, that therefore God rejects them. He
who creates, supports and gives* understand-
ing to all men, possesses knowledge and good-
ness superior to the various cases and circum-
stanced of his creatures, which to us appear
the most difficult.

The apostles and primitive Christians did
not censure all the Gentiles as wicked men,
Rom. ii. 14., Col. iii. 11.; but as they were
favoured with a gift to discern things more
clearly, respecting the worship of the true
God, they with much firmness declared against
the worshipping of idols, and with true pa-
tience endured many sufierings on that ac-

Great numbers of faithful Protestants, have
contended for the Truth, in opposition to papal
errors; and with true fortitude laid down their
lives in the conflict, without saying, that no
man was saved who made profession of that

While we have no right to keep men as
servants for term of life, but that of superior
power ; to do this with design to profit our-
selves and our families by their labour, I be-
lieve is wrong ; but I do not believe that all
who have kept slaves, have therefore been
chargeable with guilt. If their motives thereto
were free from selfishness, and their slaves
contented, they were a sort of freemen; which
I believe hath sometimes been the case.

Whatever a man does in the spirit of chari-
ty, to him it is not sin : and while he lives

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and acts in this spirit, he learns all things
essential to his happiness as an individual:
and if he doth not see that any injury or in-
justice to any other person, is necessarily pro-
moted by any part of his form of government,
I believe the merciful Judge will not lay ini-
quity to his charge. Yet others, who live in

the same spirit of charity, from a clear con-
vincement, may see the relation of one thing
to another, and the necessary tendency of
each ; and hence it may be absolutely binding
on them to desist from some parts of conduct,
which some good men have been in.


As some in most religious societies amongst
the English are concerned in importing or
purchasing the inhabitants of Africa as slaves;
and as the professors of Christianity of seve-
ral other nations do the like ; these circum-
stances tend to make people less apt to ex-
amine the practice as closely as they would,
if such a thing had not been, but was now
proposed to be entered upon. It is however
our duty, and what concerns us individually,
as creatures accountable to our Creator, to
employ rightly the understanding which he
hath given us, in humbly endeavouring to be
acquainted with his will concerning us, and
with the nature and tendency of those things
which we practice. For as justice remains to
be justice, so many people of reputation in the
world, joining with wrong things, does not
excuse others in joining with them, nor make
the consequence of their proceedings less
dreadful in the final issue, than it would
otherwise be.

Where unrighteousness is justified from
one age to another, it is like dark matter ga-
thering into clouds over us. We may know
that this gloom will remain till the cause be
removed by a reformation, or a change of
times, and ihay feel a desire from a love of
equity, to speak on the occasion ; yet where
error is so strong, that it may not be spoken
against without a prospect of some inconveni-
ence to the speaker, this difficulty is likely to
operate on our weakness, and quench the
good desires in us ; except we dwell so steadi-
ly under the weight of it, as to be made wil-
ling to " endure hardness" on that account.

Where men exert their talents against vices
which are generally accounted such, the ill
effects whereof are presently perceived in a
government, all men who regard their own
temporal good, are likely to approve the work.
But when that which is inconsistent with per-
fect equity, has the law or the countenance of
the great in its favour, though the tendency
thereof be contrary to the true happiness of
mankind, in an equal if not greater degree,

than many things accounted reproachful to
Christians; yet as these ill effects are not
generally perceived, they who labour to dis-
suade from such things, which people believe
accord with their interest, have many difficul-
ties to encounter.

The repeated charges which God gave to
his prophets, imply the danger they were in
of erring on this hand. ^< Be not afraid of
their faces; for I am with thee, to deliver
thee, saith the Lord." ^ Speak all the words
that I command thee to speak to them; dimin-
ish not a word." *' And thou, son of man,
be not afraid of them, nor dismayed at their
looks. Speak my words to them, whether
they will hear or forbear."

Under an apprehension of duty, I ofier
some further considerations on this subject,
having endeavoured some years to coosidbr it
candidly. I have observed people of our own
colour, whose abilities have been inadequate
to manage the affairs which relate to their
convenient subsistence, who have been takes
care of by others, and the profit of such work
as they could do, applied toward their support.
I believe there are such amongst n^roes;
and that some people in whose hands they
are, keep them with no view of outward pro-
fit, do not consider them as black men, who
as such ought to serve white men ; but ac-
count them persons who have need of guardi-
ans, and as such take care of them: yet
where equal care is taken in all parts of tbor
education, I do not apprehend cases of this
sort are likely to occur more frequently
amonpt one sort of people than another.

It looks to me that the slave trade was
founded, and has generally been carried on
in a wrong spirit ; that the efi^ts of it are
detrimental to the real prosperity of our
country; and will be more so, except we
cease from the common motives of keeping
them, and treat them in future agreeably to
Truth and pure justice.

Negroes may be imported, who for their
cruelty to their countrymen, and the evil dis-

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iKMition of their roinds, may be unfit to be at
liberty; and if we as lovers of righteousness
undertake the management of them, we should
have a full and clear knowledge of their crimes,
and of those circumstances which might ope*
rate in their favour ; but the difficulty of ob-
taining this is so great, that we have great
reason to be cautious therein. But should it
plainly appear that absolute subjection is a
condition the most proper for the person who
is purchased, yet the innocent children ought
not to be made slaves, because their parents

We have an account in Holy Scripture of
some families suffering, where mention is only
made of the heads of the family committing
wickedness ; and it is likely that the degene*
rate Jews, misunderstanding some occurrences
of this kind, took occasion to charge God with
being unequal ; so that a saying became com*
mon, " The Fathers have eaten sour grapes,
and the children's teeth are set on edge."
Jeremiah and Ezekiel, two of the inspired
prophets, who lived near the same time, were
concerned to correct this error. Ezekiel is
large on the subject. First, he reproves them
for their error. " What mean ye, that ye do
so." '< As I live, saith the Lord God, ye shall
not have occasion any more to use this pro-
verb in Israel." The words, "any more,"
have reference to time past ; intimating, that
though they had not rightly understood some
things they had beard or seen, and thence
supposed the proverb to be well grounded;
yet henceforth they might know of a certainty,
that the ways of God are all equal ; that as
surely as the Most High h'veth, so surely men
are only answerable for their own sins. He
thus sums up the matter, " The soul that sin-
neth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the
iniquity of the father ; neither shall the father
bear the iniquity of the son. The righteous-
ness of the righteous shall be upon him ; and
the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon

Where men are wicked, they commonly
are a means of corrupting the succeeding
age; and thereby hasten those outward ca-
lamities which faU on nations, when their ini-
quities are full.

Men may pursue means which are not
agreeable to perfect purity, with a view to in-
crease the wealth and happiness of their off-
spring, and thereby make the way of virtue
more difficult to them. And though the ill
example of a parent, or of a multitude, does
not excuse a man in doing evil, yet the mind
being early impressed with vicious notions
and practices, and nurtured up in ways of
getting treasure, which are not the ways of
Truth ; this wrong spirit first getting posses*

sion, and b^ng thus strengthened, frequently
prevents a due attention to the true spirit of

Online LibraryWilliam EvansThe Friends' library: comprising journals, doctrinal treatieses, & other writings of members of the religious Society of Freinds → online text (page 87 of 104)