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“ Upon viewing the whole subject, I believe the following Narrative of the substance (not without a little alteration of the style in some parts) of a plain countryman's deep exercises, who had not the advantage of much outward learning, - will not need a long preface to introduce it to the serious perusal of the candid reader, to whom it is affectionately recommended by the transcriber."
G. C. George Churchman gives the following testimony concerning Joshua Evans. “For many years of his life, he appears to have been a man of sorrows, on account of the many deviations from the self-denying path in which our worthy ancestors walked. — He often had to bear testimony against many particular things in dress, the furniture of houses, the costliness of living, and the use of many foreign articles, such as tea, coffee, fine silks, lawns, muslins, &c. and the common use of tobacco. He thought many things were incautiously given way to, and suffered to prevail or come into practice among Friends, - which had a tendency to divert or raise the minds of men and women above the pure witness of Truth; and thus, by captivating the mind, to hinder the work of regeneration."
“ His self-denying and exemplary life, with his unremitted labours of love for many years, in the spirit of meekness and wisdom, greatly opened his way in the hearts of his friends and fellow members of society, as well as the people at large. In the latter part of his life, he believed it was required of him to disengage himself from the incumbrances of this world, and dedicate the remainder of his time, as far as ability might be afforded, to the service of the Lord, and the benefit of his fellow creatures.
In the course of his travels and labours in the work of gospel ministry, it appears that he was much respected, and generally well received by people of all ranks, being mostly treated with remarkable tenderness, even in places where another kind of disposition might have been supposed prevalent. People in all places where he travelled, seemed willing to hear the counsel he had to impart, though it was often attended with very plain dealing."
“ After having patiently passed through many trials of a very close and uncommon nature, as briefly mentioned in the early part of his journal, those who for some time appeared to disapprove of his singular conduct, came to be affectionate and friendly, and heartily concurred with his labours."
It is related of Joshua Evans, that he was often engaged in the neighbourhood where he lived, in visiting the sick and afflicted, -in labouring with those who were in habits of intemperance, and in extending admonition to others who, he apprehended, were copying after the world's fashions.
Although he appears to have been persuaded in his own mind, that it was right for him to walk in that narrow path of self-denial which led him into divers singularities, different from his brethren,yet he found it would not do to judge others by his own views, and standard, as applied to outward things. He was aware that of others might not be required the same abstemiousness in living, nor the like singular appearance in apparel and in the wearing of the beard; but he believed they also, by attending to their proper business in their own allotments, might yet be equally in favour with the universal Parent. Hence, he thought the sincere in heart who
were endeavouring to act uprightly according to the light received, should be careful not to judge or censure one another, for those differences of views, and singular habits in external things, which might be required of some as a service, to discipline their minds to obedience and attention to more important duties.
In the Testimony of Haddonfield monthly meeting concerning Joshua Evans, it is stated that “his ministry was sound; and, being accompanied with gospel authority, it had a tendency to reach the witness in many minds, which opened his way for plain dealing with the rebellious and gainsayers.”
“He was, for many years, deeply exercised on account of the enslaved African race; and being engaged to plead their cause as opportunity offered, he remarked that he never received a greater reward than for his faithfulness therein."
“During several years of the latter part of his life, he was assiduously engaged in visiting the churches on this continent: and upon his return from his last journey, he said to his wife, that it seemed as though his labours in America were closed. In a few days after, being on the morning of the 7th of the 7th month, 1798, he rose early, and went into the field to labour; but feeling himself unwell, he speedily returned into the house, and retired to bed, where he expired in a few minutes, without any apparent conflict of nature, in the sixtyeighth year of his age.” On the day following he was interred in Friends' burial ground at Haddonfield, attended by a large concourse of his friends and neighbours.
JOSHUA EVANS'S JOURNAL.
I was born in West Jersey, in the year 1731. My parents' names were Thomas and Rebekah Evans, under whose care I received a religious education in my childhood. But, my father having several children by a former wife, I was much under the care of my mother; and being her eldest, she kept me to wait on her until I was nine or ten years of age. I often rode on the same horse with her to Evesham meeting, of which we were members. Some of those meetings were seasons of favour to me, never to be forgotten. The solid sitting of some Friends, frequently reached me, and tendered my heart. This was also the case with me under some powerful testimonies which were at times delivered there. For, although I was early inclined to folly and full of pranks, for which my mother often corrected me, yet at times some weighty thoughts attended my mind on the uncertainty of time in this world, the slender thread of life, and the length of eternity. These serious considerations sometimes brought me very low, and I loved to be alone; for I was early impressed with a belief that there was a state of happiness for that part which never dies, to be enjoyed by those who do well; and likewise a place of woe and misery for the wicked. Many were the favours conferred on me in
my tender years. I remember once when bringing up my father's flock, I saw the glory of the Lord shine round me, which seemed to exceed the sun at noon
day, (yet not an external light.) I stood still beholding it, with tears flowing from my eyes, and said in my heart, this is matchless mercy to me, a poor sin
I was alone, and no human eye beheld what I then saw, or was sensible of. I often had to admire the early visitations of Divine love to my soul; and to consider that many little lads and lasses were summoned from time to an endless eternity. Awful were these considerations to my young mind, in which an inquiry was raised, Am I ready for a change like this? Can I be happy, if I go in the state I now am in?
Notwithstanding those favours, and many more which were marvellous to me, inclining to the love of Truth in my heart, and to a hatred of sinful actions,-yet, forgetfulness of my great Creator prevailed, and disobedience to his inward law brought me under condemnation. I write these things as a warning to boys and girls not to give way to inclinations towards evil. By taking up the cross, and cleaving to that which is good, you will find peace. Therefore slight not the day of small things. The tender impressions of Divine grace in early life, if cherished, are likely to take the deepest root. Delays are dangerous. Let the good seed, early sown in your hearts be attended to, so that it may grow and bring forth fruit to the praise of your Maker, who is the great husbandman, in whose hand is your life, and he wills your preservation out of the snares of the enemy of your happiness.
Although watchful parents are not able to give their children grace; yet, through' holy help, they may be instrumental in preparing their hearts to receive and cherish the good seed. Therefore let all in