« PreviousContinue »
commitment for six months was expired. But I had now the liberty of walking a mile by myself, which I made use of, as I felt freedom. Some. times I went into the market, and streets, and warned the people to repent of their wickedness; and so returned to prison again. And there being persons of several sorts of religion in the prison, I sometimes went and visited them in their meetings on first-days.
After I had been before the justices, and they had required sureties for my good behaviour (which I could not consent should be given, to blemish my innocency), it came upon me to write to the justices again; which I did as follows:
“ FRIENDS, “See what it is in you that doth imprison; see, who is head in you s and see, if something do not accuse you? Consider, you must be brought to judgment. Think of Lazarus and Dives; the one fared sumptuously every day, the other was a beggar. Now you have time, prize it, while you have it. Would you have me to be bound to my good behaviour ? I am bound to my good behaviour; and cry for good behaviour of all people, to turn from the vanities and pleasures, the oppression and deceits, of this world; and there will come a time that you shall know it. Therefore take heed of pleasures, and deceits, and pride; and look not at man, but at the Lord; for ‘Look unto me, all ye ends of the earth, and be ye saved, saith the Lord.''
Some little time after I wrote to them again :
· FRIENDS, • Would you have me to be bound to my good behaviour from drunkenness, or swearing, or fighting, or adultery, and the like? The Lord hath redeemed me from all these things; and the love of God hath brought me to loathe all wantonness, blessed be his name! Drunkards, and fighters, and swearers, have their liberty without bonds; and your law upon me, whom neither you, nor any other can justly accuse of these things; praised be the Lord! I can look to no man for my liberty, but to the Lord alone, who hath all men's hearts in his hand.”
And after some time, not finding my spirit clear of them, I wrote to them again, as follows:
“FRIENDS, * Had you known who sent me to you, ye would have received me; for the Lord sent me to warn you of the woes that are coming upon you; and to bid you look at the Lord, and not at man. But when I told you my experience, what the Lord had done for me, then your hearts were hardened, and you sent me to prison, where you have kept me many weeks. If the love of God had broken your hearts, then would ye see what ye have done ; ye would not have imprisoned me, had not my Father suffered you; and by his power I shall be loosed; for he openeth and shutteth; to him be all glory! In what have I misbehaved myself, that any should be bound for me? All men's words will do me no good, nor their bonds
either, to keep my heart, if I had not a guide within, to keep me in the upright life to God. But I believe in the Lord, that through his strength and power, I shall be preserved from ungodliness and worldly lusts. The Scripture saith, ‘receive strangers, but you imprison such. As you are in authority, take heed of oppression and oaths, of injustice, and gifts or rewards, for God doth loathe all such. But love mercy, and true judgment, and justice, for that the Lord delights in. I do not write with hatred to you; but to keep my conscience clear ; take heed how you spend
I was moved also to write again to the priests of Derby :
FRIENDS, “You profess to be the ministers of Jesus Christ in words, but you show by your fruits what your ministry is. Every tree shows its fruit; the ministry of Jesus Christ is in mercy and love, to loose them that are bound, to bring out of bondage, and to let them that are in captivity go free. Where is your example, if the Scriptures be your rule, to imprison for religion ? Have you any command for it from Christ? If that were in you,
which you profess, you would walk in their steps, who wrote the Scriptures, ‘But he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, whose praise is of men; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly, whose praise is of God.' But if you build upon the prophets and apostles in words, and pervert their life, remember the woes which Jesus Christ spoke against such. They that spoke the prophets' words, but denied Christ, they professed a Christ to come; but had they known him they would not have crucified him. The saints, whom the love of God did change, were brought thereby to walk in love and mercy; for he that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God. But where envy, pride, and hatred rule, the nature of the world rules, and not the nature of Jesus Christ. I write with no hatred to you; but that you may weigh yourselves, and see how you pass your time."
Thus having cleared my conscience to the priests, it was not long before a concern came upon me to write again to the justices, which I did as follows:
“I am moved to warn you to take heed of giving way to your own wills. Love the cross; and satisfy not your own minds in the flesh; but prize your time, while you have it, and walk up to that you know, in obedience to God; then you shall not be condemned for that you
know not; but for that you do know, and do not obey. Consider betimes, weigh yourselves, and see where you are, and whom you serve. blaspheme God, and take his name in vain; if ye swear and lie; if ye give way to envy and hatred, to covetousness and greediness, to pleasures and wantonness, or any other vices, be assured that ye do serve the Devil. But if ye fear the Lord, and serve him, ye will loathe all these things. He that loveth God, will not blaspheme his name; but where there is opposing God, and serving the Devil, that profession is sad and miserable. O prize your time, and do not love that which God forbids ; lying, wrath, malice, envy, hatred, greediness, covetousness, oppression, gluttony, drunken
For if ye
ness, whoredom, and all unrighteousness God doth forbid. So consider, and be not deceived; ‘Evil communication corrupts good manners. Be not deceived, God will not be mocked with vain words; the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness. Therefore obey that which convinces you of all evil, and tells you that you should do no evil; it will lead you to repentance, and keep you in the fear of the Lord. O look at the mercies of God, and prize them, and do not turn them into wantonness. O eye the Lord, and not earthly things !”
Besides this, I wrote the following to Colonel Barton, who was both a justice and a preacher, as was hinted before :
“FRIEND, “Do not cloak and cover thyself; there is a God, who knoweth thy heart, and will uncover thee; he seeth thy way. • Woe be to him that covereth, and not with my Spirit,' saith the Lord. Dost thou do contrary to the law, and then put it from thee? Mercy and true judgment thou neglectest ; look what was spoken against such. My Saviour said to such, 'I was sick and in prison, and ye visited me not; I was hungry, and ye fed me not; I was a stranger, and ye took me not in.' And when they said, “When saw we thee in prison, and did not come to thee,' &c., he replied, 'Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of these little ones, ye did it not to me.' Thou hast imprisoned me for bearing witness to the life and power of truth, and yet thou professest to be a minister of Christ; but if Christ had sent thee, thou wouldst bring out of prison, and out of bondage, and wouldst receive strangers. Thou hast, been wanton upon earth, thou hast lived plenteously, and nourished thy heart, as in a day of slaughter ; thou hast killed the Just. O look where thou art, and how thou hast spent thy time! O remember thyself, and now, whilst thou hast time, prize it. Do not slight the free mercy, or despise the long-suffering of God, which is great salvation ; but mind that in thee which doth convince, and would not let thee swear, nor lie, nor take God's name in vain. Thou knowest thou shouldst do none of these things; thou hast learned that which will condemn thee; therefore obey the light, which doth convince thee, forsake thy sins, and look at the mercies of God; and prize his love in sparing thee till now. The Lord saith, 'Look unto me, all ye ends of the earth, and be ye saved; cease from man, whose breath is in his nostrils.' Prize thy time, and see whom thou servest; for his servant thou art whom thou dost obey, whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteous
If thou serve God, and fear him, thou wilt not blaspheme his name, or curse, or swear, or take his name in vain, or follow pleasures and wantonness, whoredom, and drunkenness, or wrath, or malice, or revenge, or rashness, or headiness, pride or gluttony, greediness, oppression, or covetousness, or foolish jestings, or vain songs. God doth forbid these things, and all unrighteousness. If thou profess God, and act any of these things, thou takest him for a cloak, and servest the Devil. Consider with thyself, and do not love that which God hateth. He that loveth God, keepeth his commandments. The Devil will tell thee, it is a hard thing to keep God's commandments ; but it is an easy thing to keep the Devil's commandments,
and to live in all unrighteousness and ungodliness, turning the grace of God into wantonness. But let the unrighteous man forsake his ways, and turn unto me, saith the Lord, and I will have mercy. Turn ye, why will die ? saith the Lord.'
“Howl, ye great ones, for the plagues are pouring out upon you ! Howl, ye oppressors, for recompense and vengeance is coming upon you! Woe unto them that covetously join one house to another; and bring one field so nigh unto another that the poor can get no more ground, and that ye may dwell upon the earth alone; these things are in the ears of the Lord of Hosts. Woe unto him that covetously getteth evil-gotten goods into his house, that he may set his nest on high, to escape from the power of evil."
1650–1651. -A trooper visits George Fox from an inward intimation--declines a
comunission in the army, and is put in the dungeon-confutes one who denied Christ's outward appearance, from whence a slander is raised against Friends testifies against capital punishments for small matters—writes for more speedy justice to prisoners—intercedes for the life of a young woman, imprisoned for stealing, who is brought to the gallows but reprieved, and afterwards convinced again refuses to bear arms, and is committed close prisoner--writes to Barton and Bennet, justices, against persecution-addresses the convinced and tender people against hirelings--to the magistrates of Derby against persecution, and foretelling his own enlargement and their recompense-is greatly exercised for the wickedness of Derby-sees the visitation of God's love pass away from the town, and writes a lamentation over it--a great judgment fell upon the town - he is liberated after a year's imprisonment-visits Lichfield--preaches repentance through Doncaster--many dread “the man with leather breeches "--goes to steeple-houses, as the apostles did to the temples, to bring people off from them -is denied entertainment, and ill-treated at some places-refuses to inform against his persecutors-many are convinced in Yorkshire, amongst others, Richard Farns. worth, James Naylor, William Dewsbury, Justice Hotham, and Captain Pursloe.
WHILE I was yet in the House of Correction, there came unto me a trooper, and said, as he was sitting in the steeple-house, hearing the priest, exceeding great trouble came upon him; and the voice of the Lord came to him saying, "Dost thou not know that my servant is in prison ? Go to him for direction.” So I spoke to his condition, and his understanding was opened. I told him, that which showed him his sins, and troubled him for them, would show him his salvation; for he that shows a man his sin, is the same that takes it away. While I was speaking to him, the Lord's power opened him, so that he began to have a good understanding in the Lord's truth, and to be sensible of God's mercies; and began to speak boldly in his quarters amongst the soldiers, and to others, concerning truth (for the Scriptures were very much opened to him), insomuch that he said, “his colonel was as blind as Nebuchadnezzar, to cast the servant of the Lord into prison.” Upon this his colonel had a spite against him; and at Worcester fight, the year after, when the two armies were lying near one another, two came out from the king's arny, and challenged any two of the Parliament army to fight with them; his colonel made choice of him and another to answer the challenge. And when in the encounter his companion was slain, he drove both his enemies within musket-shot out of the town, without firing a pistol at them. This, when he returned, he told me with his own mouth. But when the fight was over, he saw the deceit and hypocrisy of the officers; and being sensible how wonderfully the Lord had preserved him, and seeing also to the end of fighting, he laid down his arms.
Now the time of my commitment to the house of correction being nearly ended, and there being many new soldiers raised, the commissioners