Copyright
William Evans.

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

. (page 91 of 104)
Online LibraryWilliam EvansThe Friends' library: comprising journals, doctrinal treatieses, & other writings of members of the religious Society of Freinds → online text (page 91 of 104)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


place in our minds, but that we may build on
the sure foundation, and feel our holy Shep«
herd to lead us, who alone is able to preserve
us, and bring forth from every thing which
defiles.

Having several times in my travels, had
opportunity to observe the labour and manner
of life of great numbers of slaves, it appears
to me that the true medium is lamentably ne-
glected by many, who assign them their por-
tion of labour.

Without saying much at this time, concern-
ing buying and selling men for term of life,
who have as just a right to liberty as we have;
nor about the great miseries and effusion of
blood, consequent on promoting the slave-
58



Digitized by



Google



418



LIFE OF JOHN WOOLMAN.



trade ; and to speak as favourably as may be,
with regard to continuing those in bondage
who are amongst us, we cannot say there is
no partiality in it: for whatever tenderness
may be manifested by individuals in their life
time toward them, yet for people to be trans-
mitted from a man to his posterity, in the help-
less condition of slaves, appears inconsistent
with the nature of the Gospel spirit. From
such proceedings it oflen follows, that persons
in the decline of life, are deprived of monies
equitably due to them, and committed to the
care, and subjected to the absolute power, of
young inexperienced men, who know but little
about the weakness of old age, nor understand
the language of declining life.

Where parents give their estates to their
children, and then depend on them for a
maintenance, they sometimes meet with great
inconveniences; but if the power of posses-
sion thus obtained, oflen reverses the obliga-
tions of gratitude and filial duty, and makes
manifest that youth are oflen ignorant of the
language of old age, how hard is the case of
ancient negroes who, deprived of the wages
equitably due to them, are lefl to young peo-
ple, who have been used to look upon them as
their inferiors.

For men to behold the fruits of their labour
withheld from them, and possessed by others,
and in old age to find themselves destitute of
those comfortable accommodations, and that
tender regard, which their time of life requires

When they feel pains, and stiffness in* their
joints and limbs, weakness of appetite, and
that a little labour is wearisome, and still be-
hold themselves in the neglected uncomforta-
ble condition of a slave, and oflentimes to a
young unsympathizing man ;

For men to be thus treated from one gene-
ration to another who, besides their own dis-
tresses, think on the slavery entailed on their
posterity, and are grieved, what disagreeable
thoughts must they have of the professed fol-
lowers of Jesus ! and how must their groans
ascend to that Almighty Being, who ** will be
a refuge for the oppressed.'*

Olf SCHOOLS.

"Sufier little children to come unto me, and forbid them
not, for of such is the kingdom of God." Mark z. 14.

To encourage children to do things with a
view to get the praise of men, to rh3 appears
an obstruction to their being inwardly ac-
quainted with the Spirit of Truth. For it is
the work of the holy Spirit to direct the mind
to God, that in all our proceedings we may
have a single eye to him; to give alms in
secret, to fast in secret, and labour to keep
clear of that disposition reproved by our Sa-



viour, " But all their works they do for to be
seen of men."

That Divine light which enlightens all men,
I believe does oflen shine in the minds of chil-
dren very early, and humbly to wait for wis-
dom, that our conduct toward them may tend
to forward their acquaintance with it, and to
strengthen them in obedience thereto, appears
to me to be a duty on all of us.

By cherishing the spirit of pride, and the
love of praise in them, I believe they may
sometimes improve faster in learning, than
otherwise they would, but to take measures
to forward children in learning, which natur-
ally tend to divert their minds from true hu-
mility, appears to me to savour of the wisdom
of this world.

If tutors are not acquainted with sanctifica-
tion of spirit, nor experienced in an humble
waiting for the leadings of Truth, but follow
the maxims of the wisdom of this world, chil-
dren who are under their tuition, appear to me
to be in danger of imbibing thoughts and ap-
prehensions reverse to that meekness and low-
liness of heart, which is necessary for all the
true followers of Christ.

Children at an age fit for schools, are in a
time of life which requires the patient atten-
tion of pious people, and if we commit them
to the tuition of those whose minds we be-
lieve are not rightly prepared to ^' train them
up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord,"
we are in danger of not acting the part of faith-
ful parents toward them ; for our heavenly Fa-
ther doth not require us to do evil, that good
may come of it ; and it is needful that we
deeply examine ourselves, lest we get entan-
gled in the wisdom of this world, and through
wrong apprehensions, take such methods in
education, as may prove a great injury to the
minds of our children.

It is a lovely sight to behold innocent chil-
dren; and when they are sent to schools where
their tender minds are in imminent danger of
being led astray by tutors, who do not live a
self-denying life, or by the conversation of
children who do not live in innocence, it is a
case much to be lamented.

While a pious tutor has the charge of no
more children than he can take due care of,
and keeps his authority in the Truth, the good
spirit in which he leads and governs, works
on the minds of such who are not hardened,
and his labours not only tend to bring them
forward in outward learning, but to open their
understanding with respect to the true Chris-
tian life. But where a person has charge of
too many, and his thoughts and time are so
much employed in the outward afiairs of his
school, that he does not so weightily attend to
the spirit and conduct of each individual, as



Digitized by



Google



LIFE OF JOHN WOOLMAN.



419



to be enabled to administer rightly to all in
due season ; through such omissions he not
only sufiers, as to the state of his own mind,
but the minds of the children are in danger of
sufiering also.

To watch the spirit of children, to nurture
them in Gospel love, and labour to help them
against that which would mar the beauty of
their minds, is a debt we owe them ; and a
faithful performance of our duty, not only
tends to their lasting benefit, and our own
peace, but also to render their company agree-
able to us.

Instruction thus administered, reaches the
pure witness in the minds of children who are
not hardened, and begets love in them toward
those who thus lead them on ; but where too
great a number are committed to a tutor, and
he, through much cumber, omits a careful at-
tention to the minds of the children, there is
a danger of disorders gradually increasing
amongst them, until the effects thereof appear
in their conduct, too strong to be easily re-
medied.

A care hath lived on my mind, that more
time might be employed by parents at home,
and by tutors at school, in weightily attending
to the spirit and inclinations of children, and
that we may so lead, instruct and govern them,
in this tender part of life, that nothing may
be omitted which is in our power, to help them
on their way to become the children of our Fa-
ther, who is in heaven.

Meditating on the situation of schools in
our provinces, my mind has at times been
afiected with sorrow, and under these exer-
cises it has appeared to me, that if those who
have large estates were faithful stewards, and
laid no rent, or interest, or other demand,
higher than is consistent with universal love;
and those in lower circumstances would, under
a moderate employ, shun unnecessary expense,
even to the smallest article, and all unite in
humbly seeking to the Lord, he would gra-
ciously instruct us, and strengthen us, to re-
lieve the youth from various snares in which
many of them are entangled.

On the right use of the Lord^s outward gifts.

As our understandings are opened by the
pure light, we experience that through an in-
ward approaching to God, the mind is strength-
ened in obedience; and that by gratifying those
desires which are not of his begetting, these
approaches to him are obstructed, and the de-
ceivable spirit gains strength.

These truths being as it were engraven
upon our hearts, and our everlasting interest
in Christ evidently concerned therein, we be-
come fervently engaged, that nothing may be
nourished which tends to feed pride or self-



love in us. Thus in pure obedience, we are
not only instructed in our duty to God, but
also in the affairs which necessarily relate to
this life, and the Spirit of Truth which guides
into all truth, leavens the mind with a pious
concern, that " whatsoever we do in word or
deed, may be done in His name."

Hence such buildings, furniture, food and
raiment, as best answer our necessities, and
are the least likely to feed that selfish spirit
which is our enemy, are the most acceptable
to us.

In this state the mind is tender, and in-
wardly watchful, that the love of gain draw
us not into any business which may weaken
our love to our heavenly Father, or bring un-
necessary trouble to any of his creatures.

Thus the way gradually opens to cease
from that spirit which craves riches and
things fetched far, which so mixes with the
customs of this world, and so intrudes upon
the true harmony of life, that the right me-
dium of labour is very much departed from.
As the minds of people are settled in a steady
concern, not to hold or possess anything but
what may be held consistently with the wis-
dom which is from above, they consider what
they possess as the gifl of God, and are in-
wardly exercised, that in all parts of their
conduct they may act agreeably to the nature
of the peaceable government of Christ.

A little supports such a life; and in a state
truly resigned to the Lord, the eye is single
to see what outward employ he leads into as
a means of our subsistence, and a lively care
is maintained to hold to that, without launch-
ing further.

There is a harmony in the several parts of
this divine work in the hearts of people : he
who leads them to cease from those gainful
employments, carried on in that wisdom which
is from beneath, delivers also from the desire
afler worldly greatness, and reconciles the
mind to a life so plain, that a little suffices.

Here the real comforts of life are not les-
sened. Moderate exercise, in the way of true
wisdom, is pleasant both to mind and body.

Food and raiment sufficient, though in the
greatest simplicity, is accepted with content-
ment and gratitude.

The mutual love subsisting between the
faithful followers of Christ, is more pure
than that friendship which is not seasoned
with humility, how specious soever the ap-
pearance.

Where people depart from pure wisdom in
one case, it is often an introduction to depart
from it in many more; and thus a spirit which
seeks for outward greatness, and leads into
worldly wisdom to attain it and support it, gets
possession of the mind.



Digitized by



Google



420



LIFE OF JOHN WOOLMAN.



In beholding the customary departure from
the true medium of labour, and that unneoes-
sary toil which many go through, in support-
ing outward greatness, and procuring delica-
cies ; in beholding how the true calmness of
life is changed into hurry, and how many, by
eagerly pursuing outward treasure, are in great
danger of withering as to the inward state of
the mind ; in meditating on the works of this
spirit, and on the desolations it makes amongst
the professors of Christianity, I may thank-
fully acknowledge, that I often feel pure love
beget longings in my heart, for the exaltation
of the peaceable kingdom of Christ, and an
engagement to labour according to the gift
bestowed on me, for promoting an humble,
plain, temperate way of living : a life where
no unnecessary cares or expenses may en
cumber our minds, or lessen our ability to do
good ; where no desires after riches, or great
ness may lead into hard dealing ; where no
connexions with worldly minded men, may
abate our love to God, or weaken a true zeal
for righteousness : a life wherein we may dill
gently labour for resigoedness to do and sufier
whatever our heavenly Father may allot for
us, in reconciling the world to himself.

When the prophet Isaiah had uttered his
vision, and declared that a time was coming
wherein*' swords should be beaten into plough-
shares, and spears into pruning-hooks, and
that nation should not lift up sword against
nation, neither shall they learn war any more;"
he immediately directs the minds of people to
the Divine teacher, in this remarkable lan-
guage: ** O house of Jacob, come ye and let
us walk in the light of the Lord."

To wait for the direction of this light, in
all temporal as well as spiritual concerns, ap-
pears necessary ; for if in any case we enter
lightly into temporal aiiairs, without feeling
this Spirit of Truth to open our way therein,
and through the love of this world proceed
on, and seek for gain by that business or traf-
fic, which ** is not of the Father, but of the
world," we &il in our testimony to the purity
and peace of his government, and get into that
which is for chastisement.

This matter hath lain heavy on my mind,
it being evident, that a life less humble, less



simple and plain, than that which Christ leads
his sheep into, necessarily requires a sup-
port, for which pure wisdom does not provide;
hence there is no probability of our being ** a
peculiar people, so zealous of good works, as
to have no fellowship with works of darkness,"
while we have wants to supply which have
their foundation in custom, and do not come
within the meaning of those expressions,
** your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have
need of all these things."

Those things which he beholds to be neces-
sary for his people, he fails not to give them
in bis own way and time; but as his ways are
above our ways, and hb thoughts above our
thoughts, 80 imaginary wants are difierent
**from those things which he knoweth that
we have need of."

As my meditations have been on these
things, compassion hath filled my heart to-
ward my fellow-creatures, involved in cus-
toms, which have grown up in " the wisdom
of this world, which is foolishness with Gvod."
O that the youth may be so thoroughly expe-
rienced in an humble walking before the Lord,
that they may be his children, and know him
to be their refuf;e, their safe unfailing refuge,
through the various dangers attending this un-
certain state of being.

If those whose minds are redeemed from
the love of wealth, and who are contented
with a plain, simple way of living, find that
to conduct the aiiairs of a family, without giv-
ing countenance to unrighteous proceedings,
or having fellowship with works of darkness,
the most diligent care is necessary ;

If customs, distinguishable from universal
righteousness, and opposite to the true self-
denying life, are now prevalent, and so mixed
with trade, and with almost every employ,
that it is only through humble waiting on the
inward guidance of Truth, that we may rea-
sonably hope to walk safUy, and support an
uniform testimony to the peaceable govern-
ment of Christ ; if this be the case, how la-
mentably do they expose themselves to tempt-
ations, who give way to the love of riches,
conform to expensive living, and reach forth
for gain, to support customs which our holy
Shepherd leads not into.



Digitized by



Google



CONSIDERATIONS



ON THB TBUB HABXONT OF XANSIirD ; AWD HOW IT 18 TO BS MAINTAINBD.



FIRST FBINTBD IH THB TBAR 1770.



Mnd the renzint of Jacob BhaB be in the midit of maiqr peofde, M a ^^
naponUiegzBiii,tbattarrieth]iotfiirman,iiorwBitethibrtfaeBOiMiof men." 3ftcaAT.7.



INTRODUCTION.

As mankind, though descended' from one
parent, are divided into many families, and as
trading to sea is greatly increased within a
few ages past ; amidst this extended com-
merce, how necessary is it that the professed
followers of Christ keep sacred his Holy
name, and he employed ahout trade and traf-



fic no farther than justice and equity evidently
accompany them ; that we may give no just
cause of offence to any, however distant, or
unable to plead their own cause; and may
continually keep in view, the spreading of the
true and saving knowledge of God and of his
son Jesus Christ, amongst our fellow-creatures,
which through his infinite love, some feel to be
more precious than any other treasure.



CONSIDERATIONS ON TRUE HARMONY.



CHAPTER I.

On serving the Lord in otir outward employ^
menu,

Undbb the humbling dispensations of the
Father of mercies, I have felt an inward la-
bour for the good of my fellow-creatures, and
a concern that the holy Spirit, which alone
can restore mankind to a state of true har-
mony, may with singleness of heart be waited
for and followed.

I trust there are many under that visitation,
which, if faithfully attended to, will make them
quick of understanding in the fear of the Lord,
and qualify them with firmness to be true pat-
terns of the Christian life, who, in living and
walking, may hold forth an invitation to others,
to come out of the entanglements of the spirit
of this world.

That which I feel first to express is, a care
for those who are in circumstances which ap-
pear difficult, with respect to supporting their
families in a way answerable to pure wisdom,
that they may not he discouraged, but remem-
ber that in humbly obeying the leading of
Christ, he owneth us as his friends; ^ Ye are
my friends if ye do whatsoever I command
you ;" and to be a friend to Christ, is to be



united to him who has all power in heaven
and in earth ; and though a woman may forget
her sucking child, yet will he not forget bis
faithful ones.

The condition of many who dwell In cities
has oflen affected me with a, brotherly sym-
pathy, attended with a desire that resignation
may be laboured for; and where the holy
Leader directeth to a country life or som^
change of employ, he may be faithfully fol-
lowed ; for under the refining hand of the
Lord, I have seen that the inhabitants of
some cities are greatly increased through
some branches of business which his holy
Spirit doth not lead into, and that being en-
tangled in these things, tends to bring a cloud
over the minds of people convinced of the
leadings of this holy Leader, and obstructs
the coming of the kingdom of Christ on earth
as it is in heaven.

If we indulge a desire to imitate our neigh-
bours in those things which harmonize not
with the true Christian walking, these entan-
glements may hold fast to us, and some who
in an awakening time, feel tender scruples
with respect to their manner of life, may look
on the example of others more noted in the
church, who yet may not be refined from



Digitized by



Goo^'Z



422



LIFE OF JOHN WOOLMAN.



every degree of dross ; and by looking on
these examples, and desiring to support their
families in a way pleasant to the natural
mind, there may be danger of the worldly
wisdom gaining strength in them, and of their
departing from that pure feeling of Truth,
which if faithfully attended to, would teach
contentment in the Divine will, even in a very
low estate.

One formerly speaking on the profitable-
ness of true humility, sailh,'*He that troubles
not himself with anxious thoughts for more
than is necessary, lives little less than the life
of angels ; whilst by a mind content with little,
he imitates their want of nothing." Cave*s
Primitive Christianity, page 31.

" It is not enough, says TertuHian, that a
Christian be chaste and modest, but he must
appear to be so : a virtue of which he should
have so great a store, that it should flow from
his mind upon his habit, and break from the
retirements of his conscience, into the super-
ficies of his life." Same book, page 43.

" The garments we wear, says Clemens,
ought to be mean and frugal — ^that is true sim-
plicity of habit, which takes away what is
vain and superfluous ; that the best and most
solid garment, which is the farthest from curi-
osity." Page 49.

Though the change from day to night, is
by a motion so gradual as scarcely to be per-
ceived, yet when night is come we behold it
very diflerent from the day ; and thus as peo-
ple become wise in their own eyes, and pru-
dent in their own sight, customs rise up from
the spirit of this world, and spread by little
and little, until a departure from the simpli-
city that there is in Christ, becomes as dis-
tinguishable as light from darkness, to such
who are crucified to the world.

Our holy Shepherd, to encourage his flock
in firmness and perseverance, reminds them
of his love for them ; " As the Father hath
loved me, so have I loved you ; continue ye
in my love ;" and in another place he graci-
ously points out the danger of departing there-
from, by going into unsuitable employments.
This he represents in the similitude of oflence
from that useful active member, the hand ; and
to fix the instruction the deeper, he names
the right hand; "If thy right hand offend
thee cut it off* and cast it from thee:" — If thou
feelest offence in thy employment, humbly
follow him who leads into all Truth, and is a
strong and faithful friend to those who are re-
signed to him.

Again, he points out those things which ap-
pearing pleasant to the natural mmd, are not
best for us, in the similitude of oflence from
the eye ; " If thy right eye oflfend thee pluck
it out, and cast it from thee." To pluck out



the eye, or cut off* the hand, is attended with
sharp pain ; and how precious is the instruc-
tion which our Redeemer thus opens to us,
that we may not faint under the most painful
trials, but put our trust in him, even in him
who sent an angel to feed Elijah in the wil-
derness ; who fed a multitude with a few bar-
ley loaves, and is now as attentive to the wants
of his people as ever.

The prophet Isaiah represents the unright-
eous doings of the Israelites toward the poor,
as the fruits of an effeminate life ; '* As for
my people, children are their oppressors, and
women rule over them ; what mean ye that
ye beat my people to pieces, and grind the
faces of the poor, saith the Lord God." Then
he mentions the haughtiness of the daughters
of Sion, and enumerates many ornaments as
instances of their vanity, to uphold which,
the poor were so hardly dealt with, that he
sets forth their poverty, their leanness and in-
ability to help themselves, in the similitude of
a man maimed by violence or ** beaten to
pieces," and forced to endure the painful ope-
ration of having his face gradually worn away
in the manner of grinding.

I may here add, that at times, when
I have felt true love open my heart towards
my fellow-creatures, and been engaged in
weighty conversation in the cause of right-
eousness, the instructions I have received un-
der these exercises, in regard to the true use
of the outward gifls of God, have made deep
and lasting impressions on my mind.

I have beheld how the desire to provide
wealth, and to uphold a delicate life hath
grievously entangled many, and been like
snares to their ofiTspring,* and though some
have been affected with a sense of tl^ir diffi-
culties, and appeared desirous at times to be
helped out of them ; yet for want of abiding
under the humbling power of Truth, they
have continued in these entanglements; for
in remaining conformable to this world, and
giving way to a delicate life, this expensive
way of living, in parents and in children, hath
called for a large supply, and in answering
this call " the faces of the poor" have been
ground away and made thin through hard
dealing.

There is balm, there is a physician ; and
O what longings do I feel that we may em-
brace the means appointed for our healing;
know that removed which now ministers cause
for the cries of many people to ascend to hea-
ven against their oppressors, and that we may
see the true harmony restored.

Behold " how good and how pleasant it is,
for brethren to dwell together in unity." The
nature of this unity is thus opened by the
apostle, <<If we walk in the light, as He [God]



Digitized by



Google



LIFE OF JOHN WOOLMAN.



428



is in the light, we shall have fellowship one
with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ,
his Son, cleanseth us from all sin."



Online LibraryWilliam EvansThe Friends' library: comprising journals, doctrinal treatieses, & other writings of members of the religious Society of Freinds → online text (page 91 of 104)