« PreviousContinue »
souls in drought, and make their bones fat; and they shall be likc a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not. Now you, that keep not this true fast, when you call upon the Lord on your own fastingdays, does the Lord answer you, and say, 'Here I am ?' Doth the Lord guide you continually ? Are your bones made fat by him, and your souls satisfied in drought? Are you like a watered garden, and like a spring, whose waters fail not? But you that keep not this true fast, do you not want these waters, which fail not? so your souls are not satisfied in drought, but your bones are lcan, and you hear not the voice of the Lord, who saith, · Here I am ;' so you lose the heritage of Jacob, and ride not upon the high places there; but come under. Therefore every man and woman, shut your hearts against all manner of evil whatsoever, and trade not with Babylon's merchants of confusion; but keep the supernatural day of Christ that is sprung from on high, that is kept by believing and walking in the light of Christ, and being grafted into him. This will bring you to the true fast, from feeding upon any evil, and to the true praying in the Spirit, as Christ and the apostles have taught. The fruit of the Spirit is love, &c. The birth of the Spirit is not a persccuting birth; but he that is born of the flesh, will persecute him that is born of the Spirit, because he will not follow the birth of the flesh, with its weak, beggarly elements, that entangles with its yoke of bondage, and its observing of days, months, times, fasts, feasts, and years; which the birth of the Spirit is to stand fast against in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made it free.
“Do you not know, that the Turks keep their Sabbath on the sixth day, the Jews upon the seventh day, and the Christians mect together on the First day of the week ? And that day which the Turks keep, the Jews' and Christians' shops are open; and that day the Jews keep, Christians' and Turks' slops are open; and the First-days that the Christians keep, both Jews' and Turks' shops are open ? The Turk does not force the Jews nor the Christians to shut up their shops on their meeting-days, but lets them have their liberty in Turkey. And where do you read, that ever the Turks forced any Christians to observe any of their holidays, fasts, or feasts? If not, should not Christians be beyond the Turks in giving liberty to all tender consciences to serve God, seeing Christ and the apostles command not, nor force people to observe holidays, or times, or months, or years, but that they should pray always in the Spirit, and fast always from strife and debate, from all manner of sin and evil; and that will keep down the fist of wickedness, and the bond of iniquity, &c. Why should not people of a tender conscience have their liberty to exercisc their consciences towards God, that they may liave “a good conscience always towards God and man,' to perform that which God requires, and to do unto all men, as they would have them to do unto them, and to love their neighbours as themselves;' seeing so many debauched, evil, and scared consciences, as with a hot iron, have liberty in their loose lives and con. versations, and in their loose words, whose tongues are at liberty to swear and curse, and their spirits at liberty in drunkenness and uncleanness? Let the magistrates look and see, how this evil, seared conscience bath its liberty to be excrcised in all manner of cvil things all Christendom over;
which is a great shame and dishonour to God, and Christ, and Christianity, yea, and humanity. Therefore why should not God's people have their liberty to exercise their good and tender consciences towards God and man? For the mystery of faith, which Jesus Christ is the author and finisher of, is held in a pure conscience; and should not the work of the true Christian magistrate be to encourage the exercise of this pure conscience towards God and man, and to discourage the exercise of this evil, seared conscience, that dishonours both God and Christ, and true Christianity? If not, how are they a praise to them that do well, and a terror to evil-doers ?
“Concerning the not putting off our hats to men. Many that go under the name of Christians, have taken offence at us, because we could not put off our hats, and how down to them; for which we find no command from Christ or his apostles, but rather to the contrary. For Christ saith, • I receive not honour of men' (mark, he did not receive honour of men); and further Christ saith, “How can ye believe which receive honour one of another, and scek not the honour that comes from God only ?' Now Christ declares it to be a mark of unbelievers, that scek 'honour one of another,' and seek not that 'honour that comes from God only;' and is not the puiting off the hat, and bowing with it, an honour to men, which they seek one of another, and are offended if they have it not? Nay, have they not fined, persecuted, and imprisoned some, because they did not put off their hais to them? Nay, do not the very Turks mock at the Christians in their proverb, saying that 'the Christians spend much of their time in putting off their hats, and showing their bare head to one another ?' But should not thosc be beyond the Turks, that bear the noble name of Christian, above seeking honour one of another, and persecuting them that will not give it, when all true believing Christians should seek the honour that comes from God only? which is the duty of all true believers in Christ Jesus, for he would not receive honour of men. And “He that believeth on the Son of God, hath everlasting life; and he that believeth not the Son, shall not see life ; but the wrath of God abideth on him,' John iï. 36. Is not the Turks' proverb a reproach to the Christians, who say that the Christians spend much of their time in putting off their hats, and showing their bare heads one to another ?' Have you not fined and imprisoned many, because they would not put off their hats to you, and show you their bare heads ? Nay, in many of your courts they shall not have right and justice, nor liberty and freedom in cities or states, though they have truly served their time, and are honest and civil men, unless they will put off their hats and show their bare heads? Have you not made a law against such, that they must forfeit two guilders if they do not ? Do you not seek to compel and force them to do it, and fine such as do not, as at Lansmeer in Waterland ? Is not this the honour that you seek one of another? Did not the Pharisees and Jews do the same?
“ As for your saying, 'the apostle commands to honour all men; and such as rule well are worthy of double honour. If this 'honouring all men,' were to put off their hats to all men, and show all men their bare heads, then this command you brcak yourselves; for you do not this to all men generally; and if they that rule well must have double hat-honour, then they must put off their hats twice; and show them their bare heads. If this hat-honour, and showing the bare head, be an invention of men, and not from God, and ye cannot prove it by Scripture, yet say, “it is your rule;' then you act beside the rule, and compel people to act contrary to your rule. For where did ever the prophets, Christ, or the apostles command any such thing? Let us sce a command, a practice, and an example for it. Nebuchadnezzar, who was a persecutor, and cast the three children of Israel into the fire with their hose, cloaks, and hats, we do not read that he was offended at them, because they did not put off their hats, and show him their bare heads; but because they would not bow to his image. And is it not said in the margin of the Bible, where it is said, “honour all men,' have all men in esteem ?' Then they that rule well are worthy of double esteem; and this esteem must be truly in the heart, without any envy, malice, or hatred. As all men are the workmanship of God, they are to be esteemed in the heart with the Spirit of God; and they that rule well, are worthy of double esteem ; here is true lionour from the heart, both to God, and man, his workmanship. For people may put off their hats, and show their bare heads one to another once or twice to the officers and magistrates, and yet be full of envy, and malice, and hatred, and murder in their hearts one against another; and give them that honour, as you call it, and yet speak or wish bad things to them, when they have turned their backs on them. The true honour or esteem in the heart to all men, as they are God's creation, is without any evil wish or thought in the heart to any men, and especially to them that rule well, who have the double esteem, whom God hath placed over people. There is no evil in the heart that gives this respect, esteem, or honour, and brings them to love their neighbours as themselves, and to 'do unto all men, as they would have them do unto them ;' in that they esteem all men, and have a double esteem for them that rule well. This is beyond all the honour of putting off the hats once to all men, and twice to them that are worthy of the double honour, as you may call it. But we would ask Christians that practise this hat-honour, and show one another their bare heads, Who invented this single honour and double honour, seeing they cannot prove, that ever Christ or the apostles did command or practise any such thing, or Moses in the time of the law ? Now, do not say or think, that we had this practice of not putting off our hats from the Turk; for we were moved by the Spirit of the Lord, before ever we heard of the Turks' proverb and practice, to leave the honour that is below, and seek the honour that comes from above, when we came to be true believers in Christ Jesus.
“Now concerning persecuting, imprisoning, and banishing God's people, in whom Christ is manifest, and dwells in their hearts ; doth not Christ tell you, that in so doing you imprison him? Then do you not banish him, and persecute him out of your cities and corporations ? And how can you enter into, and have a share in his kingdom, though you may profess him in words ? Are not such to go into everlasting punishment, that do not visit Christ in prison ? Then what will become of you that banish and imprison him, where he is manifest in his members, and suffer
them not to meet together to enjoy him amongst them, according to his promise? Therefore yon, that will not let Christ reign in his people, and have his liberty in them, in your cities and countries, to exercise his offices, you will not have your liberty in heaven. You that will not let Christ reign in your hearts, nor suffer him to reign in his people here upon the earth, in this world, in your kingdoms;— you will not reign with Christ in heaven in his kingdom, nor in the world without end.
“You, that banish the truth out of your cities or countries, or his people for its sake, banish the truth and Christ out of your hearts from ruling there; so you yourselves are not the temples of God. When you have banished Christ and his truth out of your own hearts, you banish such in whom he rules out of your estates and country: then see what judg. ments the Lord doth bring upon you, when you are left to yourselves; yea, fears and troubles, one judgment after another, come upon you; you are even filled with them. But the banished, the sufferers for truth and Christ's sake, have a peaceable habitation in the truth, which the devil is out of, and cannot get into; which habitation will outlast all the habitations of the wicked and persecutors, though they be ever so full of words without life and truth. The life and the truth will outlast all airy notions, and Christ, the Lamb and patient Seed, will overcome the devourer and the unpatient seed; and they that have the garment, the righteousness of Christ, which is the fine linen, will find it to outlast all the rags and inventions of men. For Christ saith to his learners, 'Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world,' the persecuting world. He said also to his disciples, “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. Therefore let all that profess themselves Christians lay aside persecution about religion, churches, or worship, fasting or praying days; for you have no command from Christ and his apostles to persecute any. Christ, who is the King of kings and Lord of lords, when they called him a deceiver, and blasphemed him, and said, 'He had a devil,' did not persecute any of them for it, nor force or compel any to hear and believe him, nor the apostles after him; but he bade them, that would have been plucking up the tares, “Let the tares and wheat grow together until the harvest. So you have no command from Christ or his apostles to persecute, imprison, banish, or spoil the goods of any, for matter of pure conscience and religion, worship, faith, and church, in the gospel-times.”
Harlingen in Friesland, the 11th of the 6th Month, 1677.
After some time George Keith and William Penn came back from Germany to Amsterdam, and had a dispute with one Galenus Abrahams (one of the most noted Baptists in Holland), at which many professors were present; but not having time to finish the dispute then, they met again two days after, and the Baptist was much confounded, and truth gained ground.* Between these two disputes we had a very great meeting at
* It appears that Galenus Abrahams asserted that nobody in the present day could be accepted as a messenger of God, unless he confirmed his doctrine by miracles. See Sewell's History, vol. ii., 366-368.
Friends' meeting-place, at which many hundreds of people were, and some of high rank in the world's account. An earl, a lord, and divers other eminent persons, were present, who all behaved themselves very civilly. But when the meeting was ended, some priests began to make opposition; which, when William Penn understood, he stood up again, and answered them to the great satisfaction of the people, who were much affected with the several testimonies they had heard declared. After the meeting several of them came to Gertrude's, where we were, with whom George Keith had much discourse in Latin.
Having now finished our service at Amsterdam, we took leave of the Friends there, and passed by waggon to LEYDEN, about twenty-five miles ; where we stayed a day or two, seeking out and visiting some tender people we heard of there. We met with a German, who was partly convinced. He informed us of an eminent man that was inquiring after truth. Some sought him out, and visited him, and found him a serious man; I also spoke to him, and he owned the truth. William Penn and Benjamin Furly went to visit another great man, that lived a little out of Leyden, who, they said, had been general to the King of Denmark's forces. He and his wife were very loving to them, and heard the truth with joy.
From Leyden we went to the HAGUE, where the Prince of Orange kept his court; and we visited one of the judges of Holland, with whom we had pretty much discourse. He was a wise, tender man, and put many objections and queries to us; which, when we had answered, he was satis. fied, and parted with us in much love. Leaving the Hague, we went to DELFT, and thence to ROTTERDAM that night, where we stayed some days, and had several meetings. While I was here I gave forth a book for the Jews; with whom, when I was at Amsterdam, I had a desire to have some discourse, but they would not. Here also I reviewed several other books and papers which I had given forth before, and which were now transcribed.