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1653-1654.-George Fox disputes most of the day with priest Wilkinson-nany
Friends lose their business for declining the world's salutations, but afterwards their tried faithfulness and integrity procure them more than their neighbours. -George Fox issues an address to Friends everywhere-two persecuting justices at Carlisle are cut off, and a third disgraced-George Fox passes through Halifax, a rude town of professors—at Synderhill-Green he has a mighty meeting of some thousands, and there was a general convincement-about sixty ministers are now raised up in the north, to travel towards the south, the east, and the west, in Truth's service-George Fox's 'address to Friends in the ministry--Rice Jones and many other false prophets rise up against Friends and are blasted—a wicked man binds himself with an oath to kill George Fox, but is prevented-great convincement in Lincolnshire--at Swannington George Fox has much controversy with professors-has a great dispute with priest Stevens, and seven other priests at Drayton—his father being present was convinced, and said, "Truly I see he that will but stand to the truth it will carry him out.”—Priest Stevens propagates lies respecting George Fox, which the Lord swept away—is taken before Col. Hacker, who sends him to the Protector-speaks prophetically to the Colonel has a friendly conference with the Protector—is dismissed by him very friendly refuses his entertainment-Captain Drury scoffs at trembling, but is made to tremble in a remarkable manner-George Fox prays with some officers, who are greatly shaken by the Lord's power-priests and professors greatly disturbed because many of their people are convinced, and moved to declare against the
AFTER my release from Carlisle prison, I was moved to go to priest Wilkinson's steeple-house again at BRIGHAM; and being got in before him, when he came in, I was declaring the truth the people, though they were but few; for the most and the best of his hearers were turned to Christ's free teaching; and we had a meeting of Friends hard by, where Thomas Stubbs was declaring the word of life amongst them. As soon as the priest came in, he opposed me; and there we stayed most part of the day; for when I began, he opposed me; so if any law was broken, he broke it. When his people would be haling me out, I manifested his fruits to be such, as Christ spoke of, when he said, " they shall hale you out of their synagogues ;” and then he would be ashamed, and they would let me alone. There he stood till it was almost night, jangling and opposing me, and would not go to his dinner ; for he thought to weary me out. But at last, the Lord's power and truth came so over him, that he packed away with his people. When he was gone, I went to the meeting of Friends, who were turned to the Lord, and by his power established on Christ, the rock and foundation of the true prophets and apostles, but not of the false.
About this time the priests and professors fell to prophesying against us afresh.
They had said long before, that we should be destroyed within a month; and after that, they prolonged the time to half a-year; but that time being long expired, and we mightily increased in number, they now gave forth, that we would eat out one another. For often after meetings,
many tender people having a great way to go, tarried at Friends' houses by the way, and sometimes more than there were beds to lodge in; so that some have lain on the hay-mows; hereupon Cain's fear possessed the professors and world's people. For they were afraid, that when we had eaten one another out, we would all come to be maintained by the parishes, and be chargeable to them. But after a while, when they saw that the Lord blessed and increased Friends, as he did Abraham, both in field and in the basket, at their goings forth, and comings in, at their risings up and lyings down, and that all things prospered with them; then they saw the falseness of all their prophecies against us; and that it was in vain to curse, where God had blessed. At the first convincement, when Friends could not put off their hats to people, or say You to a single person, but Thou and Thee ;—when they could not bow, or use flattering words in salutations, or adopt the fashions and customs of the world, many Friends, that were tradesmen of several sorts, lost their customers at first; for the people were shy of them, and would not trade with them; so that for a time some Friends could hardly get money enough to buy bread. But afterwards, when people came to have experience of Friends' honesty and faithfulness, and found that their yea was yea, and their nay was nay; that they kept to a word in their dealings, and that they would not cozen and cheat them; but that if they sent a child to their shops for anything, they were as well used as if they had come themselves; the lives and conversation of Friends did preach, and reached to the witness of God in the people. Then things altered so, that all the inquiry was, “ where is there a draper, or shopkeeper, or tailor, or shoemaker, or any other tradesman, that is a Quaker?” Insomuch that Friends had more trade than many of their neighbours, and if there was any trading, they had a great part of it. Then the envious professors altered their note, and began to cry out, “ if we let these Quakers alone, they will take the trade of the nation out of our hands.” This has been the Lord's doing to and for his people! which my desire is, that all, who profess his holy truth, may be kept truly sensible of, and that all may be preserved, in and by his power and Spirit, faithful to God and man; first to God, in obeying him in all things; and then in doing unto all men, that which is just and righteous, to all men and women, in all things, that they have to do or deal with them in; that the Lord God may be glorified in their practising truth, holiness, godliness, and righteousness, amongst people in all their lives and conversation.
Friends being now grown very numerous in the northern parts of the nation, and many young-convinced ones coming daily in among us, I was moved of the Lord to write the following epistle, and send it forth amongst them, in order to stir up the pure mind, and raise a holy care and watchfulness in them over themselves, and one another, for the honour of truth :
“ To you all, Friends everywhere, scattered abroad. “In the measure of the life of God, wait for wisdom from God, even from Him, from whom it comes. And all ye, who are children of God, wait for living food from the living God, to be nourished up to eternal life,
from the one fountain, from whence life comes; that ye may all be guided and walk in order ; servants in your places, young men and women in your places, and rulers of families ; that every one, in your respective places, may adorn the truth, in the measure of it. With it let your minds be kept up to the Lord Jesus, from whom it comes, that ye may be a sweet savour to God, and in wisdom ye may all be ordered and ruled ;—that a crown and a glory ye may be one to another in the Lord. And that no strife, bitterness, or self-will, may appear amongst you; but with the Light, in which is unity, all these may be condemned. And that every one in particular, may see to, and take care of, the ordering and ruling of his own family; that in righteousness and wisdom it may be governed, the fear and dread of the Lord being set in every one's heart; that the secrets of the Lord every one may come to receive; that stewards of his grace you may come to be, to dispense it to every one as they have need; and so in savouring and right-discerning you may all be kept; that nothing, that is contrary to the pure life of God, may be brought forth in you, or among you; but all that is contrary to it, may be judged by it; so that in light, in life, and love, ye may all live, and all that is contrary to the light, and life, and love, may be brought to judgment, and by that light condemned. And that no fruitless trees be among you; but all cut down and condemned by the light, and cast into the fire; so that every one may bear and bring forth fruit unto God, and grow fruitful in his knowledge, and in his wisdom; and that none may appear in words beyond what they are in the life, that gave forth the words. Here none shall be as the untimely figs; none shall be of those trees whose fruit withers; such
from the light, and by it are condemned. Let none amongst you boast yourselves above your measure; for if you do, out of God's kingdom you are excluded; for in that boasting part gets up the pride, and the strife, which is contrary to the light, that leads to the kingdom of God, and gives an entrance thereinto, and an understanding to know the things that belong to the kingdom of God. There the light and life of man every one receives, even Him who was, before the world was, by whom it was made, who is the righteousness of God, and his wisdom; to whom all glory, honour, thanks, and praise belong, who is God blessed for ever. Let no image or likeness be made; but wait in the light, which will bring condemnation on that part that would make the images; for that prisons the just. So to the lust yield not the eye, nor the flesh; for the pride of life stands in that which keeps out the love of the Father; and upon which his judgments and wrath remain, where the love of the world is sought after, and a crown that is mortal. In this ground the evil enters, which is cursed; which brings forth briars and thorns, where death reigns, and tribulation and anguish are upon every soul, and the Egyptian tongue is heard; all which is by the light condemned. There the earth is, which must be removed; by the light it is seen, and by the power it is removed, and out of its place it is shaken; to which the thunders utter their voices, before the mysteries of God be opened, and Jesus revealed. Therefore all ye, whose minds are turned to this light, wait upon the Lord Jesus for the crown that is im. mortal, and that fadeth not away.”
“This is to be sent amongst all Friends in the truth, the flock of God, to be read at their meetings.”
While Friends abode in the northern parts, a priest of Wrexham, in Wales, whose name was Morgan Floyd, having heard reports concerning us, sent two of his congregation into the North to inquire concerning us, to try us, and bring him an account of us. But when these triers came down amongst us, the power of the Lord overcame them, and they were both convinced of the truth. So they stayed some time with us, and then returned into Wales; where afterwards one of them departed from his convincement; but the other, whose name was John-ap-John, abode in the truth, and received a part in the ministry, in which he continued faithful.
Now were the priests greatly disturbed at Newcastle, at Kendal, and in most of the northern counties. There being one Gilpin, that had sometimes come amongst us at Kendal, and soon run out from the truth into vain imaginations, the priests made what evil use they could of him against us; but the Lord's power confounded them all. And the Lord God cut off two of the persecuting justices at Carlisle ; and the other, after a time, was turned out of his place, and left the town.
About this time the oath or engagement to OLIVER CROMWELL was tendered to the soldiers; many of whom were disbanded, because, in obedience to Christ, they could not swear. John Stubbs was one, who was convinced when I was in Carlisle prison, and became a good soldier in the Lamb's war, and a faithful minister of Christ Jesus, travelling much in the service of the Lord in Holland, Ireland, Scotland, Italy, Egypt, and America. And the Lord's power preserved him out of the hands of the Papists, though many times he was in great danger of the Inquisition. But some of the soldiers who had been convinced in their judgments, but had not come into obedience to the truth, took Cromwell's oath; and going afterwards into Scotland, and coming before a garrison there, the garrison thinking they had been enemies, fired at them, and killed many of them; which was a sad event.
When the churches were settled in the North, and Friends were sat down under Christ's teaching, and the glory of the Lord shone over them, I passed from Swarthmore to LANCASTER (about the beginning of the year 1654) and so through the counties, visiting Friends till I came to SYNDERHILL-GREEN, where a meeting was appointed three weeks before ; leaving the North fresh and green, under Christ their teacher. But before I came to Synderhill-Green, we passed through HALIFAX, a rude town of professors, and came to one Thomas Taylor's, who had been a captain, where we met with some janglers; but the Lord's power was over all; for I travelled in the motion of God's power. When I came to Synderhill-Green, there was a mighty meeting, some thousands of people (as it was supposed). Many persons of note were there, as captains and other officers; and there was a general convincement; for the Lord's power and truth was over all, and there was no opposition.
About this time did the Lord move upon the spirits of he had raised up, and sent forth to labour in his vineyard, to travel southwards, and spread themselves, in the service of the gospel, to the castern, southern, and western parts of the nation; as Francis Howgill and Edward Burrough to London; John Camm and John Audland to Bristol ; Richard Hubberthorn and George Whitehead* towards Norwich; Thomas Holmest into Walcs, and others different ways; for above sixty ministers had the Lord raised up, and now sent abroad out of the North country. The sense of their service being very weighty upon me, I was moved to give forth the following paper :
“ To Friends in the Ministry. "All Friends everywhere, Know the Seed of God, which bruiseth the seed of the serpent, and is above the seed of the serpent; which Seed sins not, but bruiseth the serpent's head, that doth sin, and tempts to sin; which Seed God's promise and God's blessing is to; and which is one in the male and in the female. Where it is head, and hath bruised the head of the other, to the beginning you are come; and the younger is known, and he that is servant to the younger. And the promise of God, which is to the Seed, is fulfilled and fulfilling; the Scriptures come to be opened and owned; the flesh of Christ known, who took upon him the seed of Abraham according to the flesh; and the everlasting priesthood known, the everlasting covenant. Christ takes upon him the secd of Abraham, and is a priest after the order of Melchizedek; without father, without mother, without beginning of days (mark) or end of life; this is the priest that ever lives; the covenant of life, of light, and peace. And the everlasting offering here is known once for all, which offering overthrows that nature which offered ; out of which the priesthood arose, that could not continue by reason of death. And here is the other offering known, the everlasting offering which perfects for ever them that are sanctified; which offering blotted out the hand-writing of ordinances, triumphs over them, and ascends above all principalities and powers. Now he that hath the Spirit of Jesus, sees this; and here is the love of God received, that doth not rejoice in iniquity, but leads to repent of it. This is the word of the
* George Whitehead, who was convinced when about seventeen years old, becamc a valiant minister for about sixty-eight years, till the time of his decease, which took place, in great peace, after an illness of some weeks. He waited, patiently resigned to the will of God, desiring to be dissolved and be with Christ; saying, "he felt the sting of death to be taken away.” He was a preacher of the gospel in life and power, and turned many from darkness to light, being a chief instrument in gathering a peoplc to the Lord' in and about Norwich. At one meeting he had in those parts, it is recorded that “ nearly the whole congregation was convinced by the mighty power of God, through his lively and piercing testimony and prayer." He suffered great hardships, long and sore imprisonments, and severe whipping for his testimony to the truth, much of which is recorded in his published Journal, with his travels and other services, to which the reader is referred.
+ Thomas Holmes was serviceable in his day and generation, suffering imprison. ment on Truth's account. In 1656, he was in jail, at Chester, with seven or eight other Friends. Some of his services in Wales are related, in a letter from him (probably to George Fox), in Barclay's Letters of Early Friends, p. 222.