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1. The Reader is desired to excuse the diversity of style that occurs in different parts of this work; for which it is hoped the following reasons will fufficiently apologize ift. The foregoing part of the History to the year 1700, having been compiled for the most part by the person mentioned in the title-page, it was deemed most expedient to publish it in his own words; and 2dly, in order that the genuine sense of the authors, of divers narrations and epistles, might be faithfully conveyed to posterity, their own words are also retained in their native fimplicity.
JI. Order of time, with respect to the accounts of the convincement and services of many eminent ministers and elders, hath not been always observed, because of the compiler's design to place these things together in one view, with the testimonies, or characters given of them at their decease, where this could be conveniently done.
III. It is but doing justice to many other worthy ministers and elders, of whom nothing in particular is related in the following History, to acknowledge that their memoirs are as honourable as those of whom particular accounts have been given, and their services oftentimes were as great, although partly through the great modesty of the persons concerned, and partly through the neglect of others, no record was preserved of them,
From the first appearance of this people in Ireland, to
ibe settlement of church-discipline among them in the year 1669;
wherein is given an account of the firfi miniftring Friends who visted Ireland, and i heir labours in the gospel; (and particularly of William Edmundson); of the sufferings and hardships they underwent; the effe Ets of their labours in the convincement of many; and the first settlement of particular, meetings, and of provincial, monthly and national meetings.
It seemed good to a half year's meeting assembled in Dublin, in the Third month 1700, that a faithful narrative should be preserved and transmitted to future generations, of what great things the Lord had done for a people within the compass of forty-five years then past, and not out of the memory of some elders then living. Accordingly such a parrative was by their advice compiled, being collected from divers authentick papers and certificates, from whence the following account was drawn by Thomas Wight, of Cork, a worthy elder, whose character is given in due course of time in the following history.
It is true, William Sewel did, in the year 1722, publish a general history of this people, who (in his own words) · began to take heed to a divine conviction in the conscience, and preached unto others the doctrine of an inward light wherewith Christ had en. lightened man, and in the latter end of the time of king Charles I. began to increase in number, and became a separate society among men, distinguished by the scornful appellation of Quakers, for an account of whose particular doctrines the reader is referred to Barclay's Apology.
The present undertaking may therefore perhaps be prejudged by some as superfluous : nevertheless, as divers occurrences have happened peculiar to Ireland, both before the year 1700 when the aforesaid Thomas Wight finished his account, and through a series of years to the present time, and such as seemed worthy of observation as matters of instruction and edification, the collections of Thomas Wight have been revised and improved by sume important additions, particularly of several epistles, testimonies, or characters, of divers eminent ministers and elders, together with a minute and faithful account of their spiritual experiences, and of the various steps which the divine wisdom led them through, in their pursuit of everlasting happiness, taken from their own writings, and some other matters of fact, tending to give unto those of the present age a true idea of the spirit and disposition of their predec. ffors, and of the prefent spiritual situation of the society, with which view the history is continued down to the present time: and moreover, as neither Sewel nor any author I am acquainted with, hath, as yet, given such a minute and circumstantial account of the Christian discipline exercised among this people as either the subject, or its importance and usefulness seem to demand.
William Edmundson, born at Little Musgrove in Westmoreland, in the year 1627, having received Truth in the love of it, and obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful, was made instrumental for gather. ing and convincing some (by declaring what God had done for his soul) before any other ministring friends came out of England in the message of the gospel, of whom as also of his own inward exercises, trials and sufferings, he kept an account in writing, which we fall therefore in the first place subjoin with his own words, viz.
• It pleased the Lord in my youthful days to bring me often to a consideration of my soul's happiness, and when I was in the army in Scotland under Oliver Cromwell, matters relating to my salvation came more close upon me; for the Lord was visiting me, and striving with me both in judgments and mercies. In the year 1651, I came out of Scotland into England, and being in Derbyshire where the name of a people called Quakers was much talked of, and one George Fox to be the ring-leader of them; various reports went abroad concerning them, some for good, and many for evil; but my heart was drawn towards them for good.
• Now about this time I married and left the army, and was about to settle in Derbyshire: in the interim my brother John Edmundson being then a soldier in Ireland, came over into England to visit his relations, and persuaded me to go and live in Ireland: my wife being willing, we prepared for it, and taking with us one servant, some necessaries, and merchants' goods, we landed in Dublin, where I was strongly importuned to settle ; trading being then very brisk, and houses upon easy terms, it being not long after the plague; but I was prevented by a secret hand that I did noc then know, which preserved me from the deceitfulness of riches; with which, if I had given way to this temptation, I had according to all probability,
been laden as with thick clay, and thereby been hindered from the Lord's service, as some others are.
So from Dublin we went into the North, and took a house in Antrim, and my brother lived with os, for the troop he belonged to,. quartered in and about that place : I foon fold off my goods and went for England to buy more; and going into the North, understanding George Fox and James Naylor (of whom I had heard) were come into those parts, I was glad of that opportunity, and went to a place where was James Naylor, who spoke of the things of God's kingdom, and work of regeneration; and though his words were not many, they were powerful, and reached God's witness in me, that had long strove with me, and my heart being then opened, as the Lord opened the heart of Lydia, I knew it to be the truth, and received it in the love of it; for I had longed after it, and was ready for the Lord's harvest. Things appeared so plain, apd concurred with so many Scriptures, which were brought to my remembrance, that I thought all that heard it declared, must needs confefs it was the very truth. In a very few days the Lord's prayer mightily seized on me, and hedged up my former way, and I was under great exercise of spirit on many accounts; so when I had done my business in England, I intended by God's permission again for heland, bound fot Carrickfergus, or near it, and at sea the Lord's hand was heavy on me, and great wrestlings and conflies of spirit I had ; under which exercises I landed at Carrickfergus ; it was fomething late in the afternoon, yet I rode twelve miles to Antrim, where my wife and aforesaid brother were. He meeting me at the door appeared with his usual falutation, but the Lord's power fo seized on me that I could not. join in it, and I was broken into many tears. We went in, and sat down, and I was nightily exercised under the sense of the Lord's power, which begat in me a true godly sorrow,