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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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for promoting it in the earth.

Policarp, who was reputed a disciple of St.
John, having attained to great age, was at
length sentenced to die for his religion, and
being brought to the fire, prayed nearly as
follows, " Thou God and Father of our Lord
Jesus Christ, by whom I have received the
knowledge of thee I O God of the angels and
powers, and of every living creature, and of
all sorts of just men who live in thy pres-
ence ; I thank thee ! that thou hast graciously
vouchsafed this day and this hour to allot me
a portion among the number of martyrs,
among the people of Christ, unto the resur-
rection of everlasting life; among whom I
shall be received in thy sight, this day, as a
fruitful and acceptable sacrifice: wherefore for
all this, I praise thee, I bless thee, I glorify
thee through the everlasting High Priest,
Jesus Christ, thy well-beloved Son; to whom,
with thee and the Holy Ghost, be all glory,
world without end. Amen."

Bishop Latimer, when sentence of death by
fire, was pronounced against him, on account
of his firmness in the cause of religion, said,
*'I thank God most heartily, that he hath
prolonged my life to this end ; that I may, in
this case glorify him by this kind of death."
Fox's Acts and Monuments, 936.

William Dewsbury, who had suffered much
for his religion, in his last sickness, encour-
aging his friends to faithfulness, made men-
tion, like good old Jacob, of the loving-kind-
ness of God to him in the course of his life,
and that through the power of Divine love,
he for Christ's sake had joyfully entered pri-
sons.

I mention these, as a few examples, out of



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LIFE OF JOHN WOOLMAN.



many, of the powerful operation of the Spirit
of Christ, where people are fully devoted to
it, and of the ardent longings in their minds
for the spreading of his kingdom amongst
mankind. Now to those, in the present age,
who truly know Christ, and feel the nature
of his peaceable government opened in their
understandings, how loud is the call where-
with we are called to faithfulness; that in
following this pure light of life, " we as work-
ers together with him,'* may labour in that
great work for which he was offered as a
sacrifice on the cross; and that his peace-
able doctrines may shine through us in their
real harmony, at a time when the name of
Christianity has become hateful to many of
the heathen.

When Gehazi had obtained treasures which
the prophet under Divine direction had refused,
and was returned from the business ; the pro-
phet, troubled at his conduct, queried if it was
a time thus to prepare for specious living.
" Is it a time to receive money and garments,
men servants and maid servants? The leprosy
therefore of Naaman shall cleave to thee and
to thy seed for ever." O that we may lay
to heart the condition of the present time,
and humbly follow His counsel, who alone is
able to prepare the way for a true harmonious
walking amongst mankind.

CHAPTER IV.
On Divine admonitions.

Such are the perfections of our heavenly
Father, that in all the dispensations of his pro
vidence, it is our duty, " in every thing, to
give thanks.** Though from the first settle
ment of this part of America, he hath not
extended his judgments to the degree of fam
ine, yet worms at limes have come forth be-
yond numbering, and laid waste fields of grain
and grass, where they have appeared: another
kind, in great multitudes, working out of sight,
in grass ground, have so eaten the roots that
the surface, being loosened from the soil be-
neath, might be taken off in great sheets.

These devouring creatures appearing sel-
dom, and coming in such multitudes, their
generation appears different from most other
reptiles, and by the prophet they were called
" God's army sent amongst the people."

There have been tempests of hail, which
have very much destroyed the grain where
they extended. Through long drought in
summer, grain in some places has been less
than half the usual quantity;* and in the



♦ When crops fail, I often jfeel a tender care
that the case of poor tenants may be mercifiilly
considered.



continuance thereof, I have beheld with at-
tention, from week to week, how dryness
from the top of the earth, hath extended deep-
er and deeper, while the corn and plants have
languished ; and with reverence my mind has
been turned toward Him, who being perfect
in goodness, in wisdom and power, doeth all
things right. Afler long drought, when the
sky has grown dark with a collection of mat-
ter, and clouds like lakes of water have hung
over our heads, from whence the thirsty land
has been soaked; I have at times, with awful-
ness beheld the vehement operation of light-
ning, made sometimes to accompany these bles-
sings, as a messenger from Him who created
all things, to remind us of our duty in a right
use of those benefits, and to give striking ad-
monitions, that we do not misapply those gifls,
in which an Almighty power is exerted, in be-
stowing them upon us.

When I have considered that many of our
fellow-creatures suffer much in some places,
for want of the necessaries of life, whilst those
who rule over them are too much given to
luxury and divers vanities; and behold the
apparent deviation from pure wisdom amongst
us, in the use of the outward gifls of God ;
those marks of famine have appeared like
humbling admonitions from him, that we
might be instructed by gentle chastisements,
and might seriously consider our ways; re-
membering that the outward supply of life is
a gifl from our heavenly Father, and that we
should not venture to use, or to apply his gifts,
in a way contrary to pure wisdom.

Should we continue to reject those merci-
ful admonitions, and use his gifls at home,
contrary to the gracious design of the giver,
or send them abroad in a way of trade, which
the Spirit of Truth doth not lead into ; and
should he whose eyes are upon all our ways,
extend his chastisements so far as to reduce
us to much greater distress than hath yet been
felt by these provinces ; with what sorrow of
heart might we meditate on that saying,
"Hast thou not procured this unto thyself,
in that thou hast forsaken the Lord thy God,
when he led thee by the way? Thine own
wickedness shall correct thee, and thy back-
slidings shall reprove thee: know therefore
and see, that it is an evil thing and bitter, that
thou hast forsaken the Lord &y Grod, and that
my fear is not in thee, saith the Lord God of
hosts."

My mind has often been affected with sor-
row, in beholding a wrong application of the
gifts of our heavenly Father ; and those ex-
pressions concerning the defilement of the
earth have been opened to my understanding.

The earth was corrupt before God, and tj^



earth was filled with violence.*^



Again, ^



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earth also, ia defiled under the inhabitants
thereof, because they have broken the ever-
lasting covenant.''

The earth being the work of a Divine pow*
er, may not as such be accounted unclean ;
but when violence is committed thereon, and
the channel of righteousness so obstructed,
that **]n our skirts are found the blood of
the souls of poor innocents ; not by a secret
search but upon all these"* — when blood, shed
unrighteously, remains unatoned for, and the
inhabitants are not effectually purged from
it, when they do not wash their hands in in-
nocency, as was figured in the law, in the



case of one being found slain ; but seek for
gain arising from scenes of violence and op-
pression, here the land is polluted with blood.
Deut. xzi. 6.

Moreover, when the earth is planted and
tilled, and the fruits brought forth are applied
to support unrighteous purposes; here the gra-
cious design of Infinite Goodness, in these his
giAs, being perverted, the earth is defiled; and
the complaint formerly uttered becomes appli-
cable ; *' Thou hast made me to serve with
thy sins; thou hast wearied me with thine
iniquities."



REMARKS ON SUNDRY SUBJECTS.

fflBST fmntTSD IN lANDOH, 1773.



CHAPTER L
On loving our neighbours as ourselves.

Whsn we love the Lord with all our hearts,
and his creatures in his love, we are then pre-
served in tenderness both toward mankind and
the animal creation ; but if another spirit gets
room in our minds, and we follow it in our
proceedings, we are then in the way of disor-
dering the afiairs of society.

If a man, successful in business, expends
part of his income in things of no real use,
while the poor employed by him pass through
great difficulties in getting the necessaries of
life, this requires his serious attention.

If several principal men in business unite
in setting the wages of those who work for
hire, and therein have regard to a profit to
themselves answerable to unnecessary expense
in their families, while the wages of the others
on a moderate industry will not afibrd a com-
fortable living for their families, and a proper
education for their children; this is like laying
a temptation in the way of some to strive for
a place higher than they are in, when they
have not stock sufficient for it.

I feel a concern in the spring of pure love,
that all who have plenty of outward substance,
may example others in the right use of things;
may carefully look into the condition of poor
people, and beware of exacting on them with
regard to their wages.

While hired labourers, by moderate Indus-



* See a Cantkm and Wanikig to Great Britam
and her colonies, page 81.



try, through the Divine blessing, may live com-
fortably, rear up families, and give them suit-
able education, it appears reasonable for them
to be contented with their wages.

If they who have plenty, love their fellow-
creatures in that love which is Divine, and in
all their proceedings have an equal regard to
the good of mankind universally, their place
in society is a place of care, an office requir-
ing attention, and the more we possess, the
greater is our trust, and with an increase of
treasure, an increase of care becomes ne-



When our will is subject to the will of God,
and in relation to the things of this world,
we have nothing in view, but a comfortable
living equally with the rest of our fellow-crea-
tures, then outward treasures are no further
desirable than as we feel a gifl in our minds
equal to the trust, and strength to act as duti-
ful children in His service, who hath formed
all mankind, and appointed a subsistence for
us in this world.

A desire for treasures on any other motive,
appears to be against that command of our
blessed Saviour, " Lay not up for yourselves
treasures on earth."

He forbids not laying up in the summer
against the wants of winter; nor doth he
teach us to be slothful in that which properly
relates to our being in this world ; but in this
prohibition he puto in yourselves^ <« Lay not
up for yourselves treasures on earth."

Now in the pure light, this language is un-
derstood, for in the love of Christ there is no
respect of persons ; and while we abide in his



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LIFE OF JOHN WOOLMAN.



love, we live not to ourselves, but to him who
died for us. And as we are thus united in
spirit to Christ, we are engaged to labour in
promoting that work in the earth for which he
su^red.

In this state of mind our desires are, that
every honest member in society may have a
portion of treasure and share of trust, an-
swerable to that gifl, with which our heavenly
Father hath gifled us.

In great treasure, there is a great trust.

A great trust requireth great care.

But the laborious mind wants rest.

A pious man is content to do a share of bu-
siness in society, answerable to the gifls with
which he is endowed, while the channels of
business are free from unrighteousness, but is
careful lest at any time his heart be over-
charged.

In the harmonious spirit of society "Christ
is all in all."

Here it is that <* old things are put away, all
things are become new, all things are of God,"
and the desire for outward riches is at an end.

They of low degree who have small gifls,
enjoy the help of those who have large gifts;
those with small gifts, have a small degree
of care, while those with large gifts, have
a large degree of care : and thus to abide in
the love of Christ, and enjoy a comfortable
living in this world, is all that is aimed at by
those members in society, to whom Christ is
made wisdom and righteousness.

But when they who have much treasure, are
not faithful stewards of the gifts of Grod, great
difficulties attend.

This matter hath deeply affected my mind.
The Lord, through merciful chastisements,
hath given me a feeling of that love, in which
the harmony of society standeth, and a sight
of the growth of that seed which bringeth
forth wars and great calamities in the world ;
and a labour attends me to open it to others.

To act with int^rity, according to that
strength of mind and body with which our
Creator hath endowed each of us, appears ne-
cessary for all, and he who thus stands in the
lowest station, appears to be entitled to as com-
fortable and convenient a living, as he whose
gifts of mind are greater, and whose cares are
more extensive.

If some endowed with strong understand-
ing as men, abide not in the harmonious state,
in which we "love our neighbours as our-
selves," but walk in that spirit in which the
children of this world are wise in their gene-
ration ; these by the strength of contrivance
may sometimes gather great treasure. But
the wisdom of this world is foolishness with
God ; and if we gather treasures in worldly
wisdom, we lay up "treasures for ourselves;"



and great treasures managed in any other spi-
rit, than the Spirit of Truth, disorder the af-
fairs of society, for hereby the good gifts of
God in his outward creation are turned into
the channels of worldly honour, and frequently
applied to support luxury, while the wages of
poor labourers are such, that with moderate
industry and frugality they may not Kve com-
fortably, rear up families, and give them suit-
able education, but through the straightness
of their condition, are often drawn on to la-
bour under weariness, to toil through hard-
ships themselves, and frequently to oppress
those useful animals with which we are en-
trusted.

From age to age, throughout all ages, Di-
vine love is that alone, in which dominion
has been, is, and will be rightly conducted.

In this the endowments of men are so em-
ployed, that the friend and the governor are
united in one, and oppressive customs come
to an end.

Riches in the hands of individuals in so-
ciety, are attended with some degree of power;
and so far as power is put forth separate from
pure love, so far the government of the Prince
of peace is interrupted ; and as we know not
that our children after us will dwell in that
state in which power is rightly applied, to lay
up riches for them appears to be against the
nature of his government

The earth, through the labour of men, un-
der the blessing of Him who formed it, yield-
eth a supply for the inhabitants from genera-
tion to generation, and they who walk in the
pure light, have their minds prepared to taste
and relish not only those blessings which are
spiritual, but also feel a sweetness and satis-
faction in a right use of the good gifts of God
in the visible creation.

Here we see that man's happiness stands
not in great possessions, but in a heart de-
voted to follow Christ, in that use of things,
where customs contrary to universal love have
no power over us.

In this state our hearts are prepared to trust
in God, and our desires for our children and
posterity are, that they, with the rest of man-
kind in ages to come, may be of that number
of whom he hath said, "I will be a father to
them, and they shall be my sons and daughters."

When wages in a fruitful land bear so small
a proportion to the necessaries of life, that
poor honest people who have families, cannot
by a moderate industry attain to a comfort-
able living, and give their children sufficient
learning, but must either labour to a degree
of oppression, or else omit that which appears
to be a duty; while this is the case with the
poor, there is an inclination in the minds of
most people, to prepare at least so much trea-



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sure for their children, that they with care
and moderate industry may live free from the
hardships which the poor pass through.

This subject requires our serious considera-
tion : to labour that our children may be put
in a way to live comfortably, appears in itself
to be a duty, so long as our labours are con-
sistent with universal righteousness; but if
in striving to shun poverty, we do not walk
in that state where *^ Christ is our life," then
we wander. "He that hath the Son, hath
life." " This life is the light of men." If we
walk not in this light, we walk in darkness,
and ** he that walketh in darkness, knoweth
not whither he goetb."

To keep to right means in labouring to at-
tain a right end is necessary : if in striving to
shun poverty, we strive only in that state
where Christ is the light of our life, our la-
bours will stand in the true harmony of so-
ciety ; but if people are confident that the end
aimed at is good, and in this confidence pur-
sue it so eagerly, as not to wait for the Spirit
of Truth to lead them, then they come to loss.
" Christ is given to be a leader and command-
er of the people." Again, " The Lord shall
guide thee continually." Again, " Lord, thou
wilt ordain peace for us, for thou also hast
wrought all our works in us." " In the Lord
have we righteousness and strength."

In this state our minds are preserved watch-
ful in following the leadings of his spirit in all
our proceedings, and a care is felt for a re-
formation in general ; that our own posterity,
vrith the rest of mankind in succeeding ages,
may not be entangled by oppressive customs,
transmitted to them through our hands. But
if people in the narrowness of natural love,
are afraid that their children will be oppressed
by the rich, and through an eager desire to
get treasures, depart from the pure leadings
of Truth in one case, though it may seem to
be a small matter, yet the mind even in that
small matter may be emboldened to continue
in a way of proceeding, without waiting for
the Divine Leader.

Thus people may grow expert in business,
wise in the wisdom of this world, retain a fair
reputation amongst men, and yet being stran-
gers to the voice of Christ, the safe leader of
his flock, the treasures thus gotten, may be
like snares to the feet of their posterity.

In keeping faithful to the pure Counsellor,
and under trying circumstances sufiering ad-
versity for righteousness sake, there is a re-
ward.

If we being poor, are hardly dealt with by
those who are rich, and under this difficulty
are frugal and industrious, and in true hu-
mility open our case to them who oppress us,
this may reach the pure witness in their minds; |



and though we should remain under difficuU
ties as to the outward, yet if we abide in the
love of Christ, all will work for our good.

When we feel what it is to suffer in the
true suffering state, we experience the truth
of those expressions, that " as the sufierings
of Christ abound in us, so our consolation
aboundeth by Christ."

But if poor people who are hardly dealt
with, do not attain to the true suffering state,
do not labour in true love with those who deal
hardly with them, but envy their outward
gr^tness, murmur in their hearts because of
their own poverty, and strive in the wisdom
of this world to set riches for themselves and
their children ; this is like wandering in the
dark.

If we who are of a middle station between
riches and poverty, are affected at times with
the oppressions of the poor, and feel a tender
regard for our posterity afler us ; O how ne-
cessary is it that we wait for the pure counsel
of Truth !

Many who have seen the hardships of the
poor, have felt an eager desire that their chil-
dren may be put in a way to escape these
hardships; but how few have continued in
that pure love which openelh our understand-
ings to proceed rightly under these difficulties I

How few have faithfully followed that holy
Leader who prepares his people to labour for
the restoration of true harmony amongst our
fellow-creatures !

"In the pure Gospel spirit we walk by
faith and not by sight."

In the obedience of faith we die to the nar-
rowness of self-love, and our life being hid
with Christ in God, our hearts are enlarged
toward mankind universally; but in departing
from the true light of life, many in striving
to get treasures have stumbled upon the dark
mountains.

That purity of life which proceeds from
faithfulness in following the Spirit of Truth,
that state where our minds are devoted to
serve God, and all our wants are bounded by
his wisdom, this habitation has oflen been
opened before me as a place of retirement for
the children of the light, where we may stand
separated from that which disordereth and
confuseth the affairs of society, and where we
may have a testimony of our innocence in the
hearts of those who behold us.

Through departing from the Truth as it is
in Jesus, through introducing ways of life
attended with unnecessary expences, many
wants have arisen, the minds of people have
been employed in studying to get wealth, and
in this pursuit some departing from equity,
have retained a profession of religion ; others
have looked at their example, and thereby



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LIFE OF JOHN WOOLMAN.



been strengthened to proceed further in the
same way : thus many have encouraged the
trade of taking men from Africa and selling
them as staves.

It has been computed that nearly one hun-
dred thousand Negroes have of late years
been taken annually from that coast, by ships
employed in the English trade.

As I have travelled on religious visits in
some parts of America, I have seen many of
these people under the command of overseers,
in a painful servitude.

I have beheld them as Gentiles under peo-
ple professing Christianity, not only kept ig-
norant of the holy Scriptures, but under great
provocations to wrath ; of whom it may truly
be said, *<They that rule over them make
them to howl, and the holy Name is abund-
antly blasphemed.'' Where children are
taught to read the Sacred Writings while
young, and exampled in meekness and hu-
mility, it is oflen helpful to them ; nor is this
any more than a debt due from us to a suc-
ceeding age.

But where youth are pinched for want of
the necessaries of life, forced to labour hard
under the harsh rebukes of rigorous overseers,
and many times endure unmerciful whippings ;
in such an education how great are the disad-
vantages they lie under! And how forcibly do
these things work against the increase of the
government of the Prince of peace.

Humphrey Smith, in his works, page 125,
speaking of the tender feelings of the love of
God in his heart when he was a child, said,
" By the violent wrathful nature that ruled in
others, was my quietness disturbed, and anger
begotten in me toward them, yet that of God
in me was not wholly overcome, but his love
was felt in my heart, and great was my grief
when the earthly-mindedness and wrathful
nature so provoked me, that I was estranged
from it.

'^And this I write as a warning to parents
and others, that in the fear of the living God
you may train up the youth, and may not be
a means of bringing them into such aliena-
tion."

Many are the vanities and luxuries of the
present age, and in labouring to support a
way of living conformable to the present
world, the departure from that wisdom that is
pure and peaceable, has been great.

Under the sense of a deep revolt, and an
overflowing stream of unrighteousness, my life
has been oAen a life of mourning, and tender
desires are raised in me, that the nature of
this practice may be laid to heart.

I have read some books written by people
who were acquainted with the manner of get-
ting slaves in Africa. I have had verbal re-



lations of this nature from several negroes
brought from Africa, who have learned to
talk English.

I have sundry times heard Englishmen
speak on this subject, who have been in Afri-
ca on this business; and from all these ac-
counts it appears evident that great violence
is committed, and much blood shed in Africa



Online LibraryWilliam EvansThe Friends' library: comprising journals, doctrinal treatieses, & other writings of members of the religious Society of Freinds → online text (page 93 of 104)