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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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regardeth his flock, and is willing and able to
supply us both inwardly and outwardly with
clean provender, that has been winnowed with
the shovel and the fan, where we may " sow
to ourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy,"
and not be defiled with the works of iniquity.

Where customs contrary to pure wisdom
are transmitted to posterity, it appears to be
an injury committed against them ; and I often
feel tender compassion toward a young gene-
ration, with desires that their difficulties may
not be increased through unfaithfulness in us
of the present age.

CHAPTER IL
On a 8ailor'9 Itfe,

In the trade to Africa for slaves, and in the
management of ships going on these voyages,
many of our lads and young men have a con-
siderable part of their education.

What pious father beholding his son placed
in one of these ships to learn the practice of
a mariner, could forbear mourning over him?

Where youth are exaropled in means of



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LIFE OF JOHN WOOLMAN.



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getting money so full of violence, and used
to exercise such cruelties on their fellow-crea-
tures, the disadvantage to them in their edu-
cation is very great.

But I feel it in my mind to write concern-
ing the seafaring life in general.

In the trade carried on from the West In-
dies, and from some parts of the continent,
the produce of the labour of slaves is a con-
siderable part.

Sailors are frequently at ports where slaves
abound, and converse often with people who
oppress them without the appearance of re-
morse, and oflen with other sailors employed
in the slave trade, and how powerfully do
these evil examples spread amongst the sea-
faring youth !

I have had many opportunities to feel
and understand the general state of the sea-
faring life amongst us, and my mind hath
often been sad on account of so many lads
and yqung men being trained up amidst so
great corruption.

Under the humbling power of Christ I have
seen, that if the leadings of his holy Spirit
were faithfully attended to by his professed
followers in general, the heathen nations
would be exampled in righteousness, a less
Dumber of people would be employed on the
seas, the channels of trade would be more
free from defilement, and fewer people would
be employed in vanities and superfluities.

The inhabitants of cities would also be less
ia number, and those who have much land
would become fathers to the poor.

More people would be engaged in the
sweet employment of husbandry; and in the
path of pure wisdom, labour would be an
agreeable, healthful employment.

In the opening of these things in my mind,
I feel a living concern that we who have felt
Divine love in our hearts may faithfully abide
in it, and like good soldiers endure hardness
for Christ's sake.

He, our blessed Saviour, exhorting his fol-
lowers to love one another, adds, *' As I have
loved you." He loved Lazarus, yet in his
sickness he did not heal him, but left him to
endure the pains of death, that in restoring
him to life, the people might be confirmed in
the true faith.

He loved his disciples, but sent them forth
on a message attended with great difficulty,
amongst hard-hearted people, some of whom
thought that in killing them they did God
service.

So deep is Divine love, that in steadfastly
abiding in it, we are prepared to deny our-
selves of all gain which is contrary to pure
wisdom, and to follow Christ, even under con-
tempt and through sufferings.

Vol IV.— No. 12.



While Friends were kept truly humble and
walked according to the purity of our princi-
ples, the Divine witness in many hearts was
reached; but when a worldly spirit got en-
trance, therewith came in luxuries and super-
fluities, and spread by little and little, even
amongst the foremost rank in society, and
from thence others took liberty in that way
more abundantly.

In the continuation of these things from
parents to children, there were many wants
to supply, even wants unknown to Friends
while they faithfully followed Christ. In
striving to supply these wants many have ex-
acted on the poor, and many have entered on
employments, in which they often labour in
upholding pride and vanity. Many have look-
ed on one another, been strengthened in these
things, one by the example of another, and
as to the pure divine seeing, dimness has
come over many, and the channels of true
brotherly love have been obstructed.

People may have no intention to oppress,
yet by entering on expensive ways of life,
their minds may be so entangled therein and
so engaged to support expensive customs, as
to be estranged from the pure sympathizing
spirit.

As I have travelled in England, I have had
a tender feeling of the condition of poor peo-
ple, some of whom though honest and indus-
trious, have nothing to spare toward paying
for the schooling of their children.

There is a right proportion between labour
and the necessaries of life, and in true bro-
therly love the mind is open to feel afler the
necessities of the poor.

Amongst the poor there are some that are
weak through age, and others of a weakly na-
ture, who pass through straits in very private
life, without asking relief from the public.

Those who are strong and healthy may do
business, which to the weakly may be op-
pressive; and in performing that in a day
which is esteemed a day's labour, weakly per-
sons in the field and in the shops, and weakly
women who spin and knit in the manufacto-
ries, often pass through weariness ; and many
sighs I believe are uttered in secret, unheard
by some who might ease their burdens.

Labour in the right medium is healthy, but
in too much of it there is a painful weariness;
and the hardships of the poor are sometimes
increased through the want of more agreeable
nourishment, more plentiful fuel for fire, and
warmer clothing in the winter than their
wages will answer.

When I have beheld plenty in some houses

to a degree of luxury; the condition of poor

children brought up without learning, and the

condition of the weakly and aged, who strive

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LIFE OF JOHN WOOLMAN.



to live by their labour, have oflen revived in
my mind, as cases of which some who live
in fulness need to be put in remembrance.

There are few if any, who could behold
their fellow-creatures lie long in distress and
forbear to help them, when they could do it
without any inconvenience; but customs re-
quiring much labour to support them, do oflen
lie heavily on the poor, while they who live in
these customs are so entangled in a multitude
of unnecessary concerns, that they think but
little of the hardships which the poor people
go through.

CHAPTER III.
On Silent Worship,

WoBSHiP in silence hath oHen been re-
freshing to my mind, and a care attends me
that a young generation may feel the nature
of this worship.

Great expense is incurred in relation to
. that which is called Divine worship.

A considerable part of this expense is ap-
plied toward outward greatness, and many
poor people in raising of tithe, labour in sup-
porting customs contrary to the simplicity that
there is in Christ, toward whom my mind
hath oflen been moved with pity.

In pure silent worship, we dwell under the
holy anointing, and feel Christ to be our
shepherd.

Here the best of teachers ministers to the
several conditions of his flock, and the soul
.receives immediately from the Divine foun-
tain, that with which it is nourished.

I have travelled at times where those of
other societies have attended our meetings,
and have perceived how little some of them
knew of the nature of silent worship; and I
have felt tender desires in my heart that we
who oflen sit silently in our meetings, may
live answerably to the nature of an inward
fellowship with God, that no stumbling block
■ through us, may be laid in their way.

Such is the load of unnecessary expense
laid in many places on that which is called
Divine service, and so much are the minds
of many people employed in outward forms
and ceremonies, that the opening of an in-
ward silent worship in this nation, to me, has
appeared to be a precious opening.

Within the last four hundred years, many
pious people have been deeply exercised in
soul, on account of the superstition which
prevailed amongst the professed followers of
Christ, and in support of their testimony
against oppressive idolatry,^8ome in seve-
ral ages have finished their course in the
flames.



It appears by the history of the reformation,
that through the faithfulness of the martyrs,
the understandings of many have been opened,
and the minds of people, from age to age,
been more and more prepared for spiritual
worship.

My mind is oAen afiected with a sense of
the condition of those people, who in different
ages have been meek and patient, following
Christ through great afflictions. And while
I behold the several steps of reformation, and
that clearness, to which through Divine Good-
ness, it hath been brought by our ancestors,
I feel tender desires that we who sometimes
meet in silence, may never by our conduct
lay stumbling blocks in the way of others,
and hinder the progress of the reformation in
the world.

It was a complaint against some who were
called the Lord's people, that they brought
polluted bread to his altar, and said the table
of the Lord was contemptible.

In real silent worship the soul feeds on that
which is Divine; but we cannot partake of
the table of the Lord, and that table which is
prepared by the god of this world.

If Christ is our shepherd and feedeth us,
and we are faithful in following him, our lives
will have an inviting language, and the table
of the Lord will not be polluted.

An Epistle to the Quttrterly and Monthly Meet-
ings of Friend*.
Beloved Friends,

Feeling at this time a renewed concern
that the pure Spirit of light and life, and
the righteous fruits thereof, may spread and
prevail amongst mankind, there is an engage-
ment on my heart to labour with my brethren
in religious profession, that none of us may be
a stumbling-block in the way of others ; but
that we may so walk that our conduct may
reach the pure witness in the hearts of those
who are not in profession with us.

And, dear friends, while we publicly own
that the holy Spirit is our leader, the profes-
sion is in itself weighty, and the weightiness
thereof increases, in proportion as we are
noted among the professors of Truth, and ac-
tive in dealing with those who walk disorderly.

Many under our profession for want of due
attention, and a perfect resignation to this Di-
vine teacher, have in some things manifested
a deviation from the purity of our religious
principles, and these deviations having crept
in amongst us by little and little, and increas-
ing from less to greater, have been so far un-
noticed, that some living in them, have been
active in putting discipline in practice, with



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relation to others, whose conduct has appeared
more dishonourable in the world.

As my mind hath been exercised before the
Lord, I have seen that the discipline of the
church of Christ standeth in that which is
pure; that it is the wisdom from above which
gives authority to discipline; and that the
weightiness thereof standeth not in any out
ward circumstances, but in the authority of
Christ who is the author of it; and where any
walk aAer the flesh, and not according to the
purity of Truth, and at the same time are ac-
tive in putting discipline in practice, a veil is
gradually drawn over its purity, and over
that holiness of life, which Christ leads those
into, " in whom the love of God is verily per-
fected."

When we labour in true love with offend-
ers, and they remain obstinate, it sometimes
is necessary to proceed as far as our Lord di-
rected, ^' Let him be to thee as an heathen
man, or a publican."

When such are disowned, and they who
act therein feel Christ made unto them wis-
dom, and are preserved in his meek, restoring
spirit, there is no just cause of ofience minis-
tred to any ; but when those who are active
in dealing with ofienders indulge themselves
in things which are contrary to the purity of
Truth, and yet judge others whose conduct
appears more dishonourable than theirs, here
the pure authority of discipline ceaseth as to
such offenders, and a temptation is laid in
their way to wrangle and contend. *' Judge
DOt," said our Lord, " that ye be not judged."
This forbidding alludes to man's judgment,
and points out the necessity of humbly attend-
ing to that sanctifying power under which the
faithful experience the Lord to be "a spirit of
judgment to them." And as we feel his holy
Spirit to mortify the deeds of the body in us,
and can say, <' it is no more I that live, but
Christ that liveth in me," here right judgment
is known.

While Divine love prevails in our hearts,
and self in us is brought under judgment, a pre-
paration is felt to labour in a right manner
with ofienders ; but if we abide not in this
love, our outward performance in dealing with
others degenerates into formality; for "this
is the love of God, that we keep his command-
ments."

How weighty are those instructions of our
Redeemer concerning religious duties, when
he points out, that they who pray, should be
so obedient to the teachings of the holy Spi-
rit, that humbly confiding in his help, they
may say, " Thy name O Father be hallowed!
Thy kingdom come; thy will be done in earth
as it is in heaven." In this awful state of
mind is felt that worship which stands in doing



the will of God on earth, as it is done in heaveo,
and keeping the holy name sacred. To take
a holy profession upon us is awful, nor can
we keep this holy name sacred, but by hum«
bly abiding under the cross of Christ. The
apostle made a heavy complaint against some
who profaned this holy name by their manner
of living; <' through you," he says, "the name
of God is blasphemed amongst the Gentiles."

Some of our ancestors through many tribu-
lations were gathered into the state of true
worshippers, and had fellowship in that which
is pure, and as one was inwardly moved to
kneel down in their assemblies and publicly
call on the name of the Lord, those in the
harmony of united exercise then present,
joined in the prayer. I mention this in
order that we of the present age may look
unto the Rock from whence we were hewn,
and remember that to unite in worship, is a
union in prayer, and that prayer is acceptable
to the Father which is in a mind truly sancti-
fied, where the sacred name is kept holy, and
the heart resigned to do bis will on earth as
it is done in heaven. " If ye abide in me,"
saith Christ, "and my words abide in you,
ye shall ask what ye will in my name, and it
shall be done unto you." We know not what
to pray for as we ought, but as the holy Spi-
rit doth open and direct our minds, and as we
faithfully yield to its influences, our prayers
are in the will of our heavenly Father, who
fails not to grant that which his own Spirit,
through his children, asketh ; — thus preserva-
tion from sin is known, and the fruits of right-
eousness are brought forth by such who in-
wardly unite in prayer.

How weighty are our solemn meetings when
the name of Christ is kept holy ?

" How precious is that state in which the
children of the Lord are so redeemed from
the love of this world, that they are accepted
and blessed in all that they do." R. Barclay's
Apology, p. 404.

How necessary is it that we who profess
these principles, and are active in support-
ing them, should faithfully abide in Divine
strength, that " As He who hath called us is
holy, so we may be holy in all manner of
conversation."

If one professing to be influenced by the
Spirit of Christ, proposes to unite in a labour
to promote righteousness in the earth, and in
time past he hath manifestly deviated from the
path of equity, then to act consistently with
this principle, his first work is to make resti-
tution so far as he may be enabled ; for if he
attempts to contribute toward a work intended
to promote righteousness, while it appears that
he neglecteth, or refuseth to act righteously
himself, his conduct has a tendency to enian-



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LIFE OF JOHN WOOLMAN.



ffle the minds of those who are weak in the
faith, who behold these things, and to draw a
veil over the purity of righteousness, by car-
rying an appearance as though that was right*
eousness which is not.

Again, if I propose to assist in supporting
those doctrines wherein that purity of life is
held forth, in which customs proceeding from
the spirit of this world have no place, and at
the same time strengthen others in those cus-
toms by my example ; the first step in an or-
derly proceeding, is to cease from those cus-
toms myself, and afterwards to labour, as I
may be enabled, to promote the like disposi-
tion and conduct in others.

To be convinced of the pure principle of
Truth, and diligently exercised in walking an-
swerably thereto, is necessary before I can con-
sistently recommend this principle to others.
I oflen feel a labour in spirit, that we who are
active members in religious society may expe-
rience in ourselves the truth of those expres-
sions of the holy One — ^* I will be sanctified
in them that come nigh me." In this case,
my mind hath been oAen exercised when
alone year ader year for many years, and
in the renewings of Divine love, a tender care
hath been incited in me, that we who profess
the light of Christ Jesus to be our teach-
er, may be a family united in that purity of
worship, which comprehends a holy life, and
ministers instruction to others.

My mind is often drawn towards children
in the Truth, who having a small share of the
things of this life, and coming to have fami-
lies, may be exercised before the Lord to sup-
port them in a way agreeable to the purity of
Truth, in which they may feel His blessing
upon them in their labours. The thought of
such being entangled with customs, contrary
to pure wisdom, conveyed to them through
our hands, often very tenderly and movingly
affects my heart; and when I look towards and
think on the succeeding generation, fervent
desires are raised in me, that by yielding to
that holy Spirit which leads into all Truth, we
may not do the work of the Lord deceitfully,
may not live contrary to the purity of the
Divine light we profess ; but that as faithful
labourers in our age, we may be instrumental
in removing stumbling-blocks out of the way
of those who may succeed us.

So great was the love of Christ, that he
gave himself for the church, that he might
sanctify and cleanse it, that it should be holy^
and without blemish, not having spot or wrin
kle, or any such thing. Where any take
the name of Christ upon them, professing to
be members of his church, and to be led by
his holy Spirit, and yet manifestly devi-
ate from the purity of Truth, they herein act



against the gracious design of his giving him-
self for them, and minister cause for the con*
tinuance of his afflictions in his body, the
church.

Christ suffered afflictions in a body of flesh
prepared by the Father, but the afflictions of
his mystical body are yet unfinished ; for they
who are baptized into Christ are baptized into
his death, and as we humbly abide under his
sanctifying power, and are brought forth into
newness of life, we feel Christ to live in us,
who, being the same yesterday, to-day, and
for ever, and always at unity with himself,
his Spirit in the hearts of his people leads to
an inward exercise for the salvation of man-
kind. When under a travail of spirit, we be-
hold a visited people entangled by the spirit of
this world with its wickedness and customs,
and thereby rendered incapable of being faith-
ful examples to others, sorrow and heaviness
under a sense of these things, are often experi-
enced, and thus in some measure is filled up
that which remains of the afflictions of Christ

Our blessed Saviour speaking concerning
gifts oflfered in Divine service, says, " If thou
bring thy gift to the altar, and there remem*
berest that thy brother hath aught against
thee, leave there thy gift before the altar, and
go thy way, first be reconciled to thy brother,
and then come and offer thy gift." Now there
is no true unity, but in that wherein the Fa-
ther and the Son are united, nor can there be a
perfect reconciliation but in ceasing from that
which ministers cause for the continuation of
the afflictions of Christ ; and if any professing
to bring their gift to the altar, do remember
the customary contradiction which some of
their fruits bear to the pure, spiritual worship,
here it appears necessary to lay to heart this
command, " leave thy gift by the altar."

Christ graciously calls his people brethren;
" whosoever shall do the will of Grod the same
is my brother." If we walk contrary to the
Truth as it is in Jesus while we continue to
profess it, we ofiTend against Christ, and if un-
der this offence we bring our gift to the altar,
our Redeemer doth not direct us to take back
our gift, he doth not discourage our proceed-
ing in a good work ; but graciously points out
the necessary means by which the gift may be
rendered acceptable; •* leave," saith he, " thy
gift by the altar, first go and be reconciled to
thy brother," cease from that which grieves
the holy Spirit, cease from that which b
against the Truth as it is in Jesus, and then
come and offer thy gift.

I feel, while I am writing, a tenderness to
those who through Divine favour, are pre-
served in a lively sense of the state of the
churches, and at times may be under discour-
agements with regard to proceeding in that



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pure way which Christ by his holy Spirit leads
into. The depth of disorder and weakness,
which so much prevails, being opened, doubl-
ings are apt to arise as to the possibility of
proceeding as an assembly of the Lord's peo-
ple in the pure counsel of Truth ; and here I
feel a concern to express in uprightness, that
which hath been opened in my mind, under
the power of the cross of Christ, relating to a
visible gathered church, the members whereof
are guided by the holy Spirit.

The church is called the body of Christ,
Col. i. 25. Christ is called the head of the
church, Eph. i. 22. The church is called the
pillar and ground of Truth, 1 Tim. iii. 15.
Thus the church hath a name that is sacred,
and the necessity of keeping this name holy,
appears evident ; for where a number of peo-
ple unite in a profession of being led by the
Spirit of Christ, and publish their principles
to the world, the acts and proceedings of that
people may in some measure be considered
as those of which Christ is the author.

While we stand in this station, if the pure
light of life is not^ followed and regarded in
our proceedings, we are in the way of pro-
faning the holy name, and of going back to-
ward that wilderness of sufferings and per-
secution, out of which, through the tender
mercies of God, a church hath been gath-
ered. '* Christ liveth in sanctified vessels,"
and where they behold his holy name pro-
faned, and the pure Gospel light eclipsed
through the unfaithfulness of any who by
their station appear to be standard bearers
under the Prince of peace, the living mem-
bers in the body of Christ, beholding these
things, do in some degree experience the fel-
lowship of his sufierings, and as the wisdom
of the world more and more takes place in
conducting the afiairs of this visible gathered
church, and the pure leadings of the holy
Spirit are less waited for and followed, so the
true suflfering seed is more and more op-



My mind is oflen afiected with a sense of
the condition of sincere hearted people in some
kingdoms, where liberty of conscience is not
allowed, many of whom being burthened in
their minds with the prevailing superstition,
joined with oppressions, are oflen under sor-
row; and where such have attended to that
pure light which has in some degree opened
their understandings, and for their faithfulness
thereto, have been brought to examination and
trial, how heavy have been the persecutions
which in divers parts of the world have been
exercised upon them? How mighty, as to
the outward, is that power by which they
have been borne down and oppressed ?

How deeply afiecting is the condition of



many upright hearted people who are taken
into the papal inquisition? What lamentable



Online LibraryWilliam EvansThe Friends' library: comprising journals, doctrinal treatieses, & other writings of members of the religious Society of Freinds → online text (page 96 of 104)