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their meetings at Kingston, I went further into the country, and had meetings amongst Friends at WORPLESDON, GUILDFORD, ESHER, CAPEL, PATCHGATE, WORMINGHURST, BLETCHINGTON, HORSHAM, IFIELD, REIGATE, GATTON, &c., and so came back to KINGSTON again; and thence to Ham
And having spent some days in the service of truth amongst Friends at Hammersmith, BATTERSEA, WANDSWORTH, and thereabouts, I crossed over, by KENSINGTON, to HENDON, where I had a very good meeting on a First-day; and went thence to LONDON.
When I had been about ten days in LONDON, I was drawn again to risit Friends in the country; and went to EDMONTON, to Christopher Taylor's, who kept a school for the educating of Friends' children. I had some service here amongst the youth; and then went towards Hertford, visiting several Friends on the way. At HERTFORD I met with John Story, and some others of his party;* but the testimony of truth went over them, and kept them down, so that the meeting was quiet. It was on a Firstday; and the next day being the men's and women's meeting for business, I visited them also, and the rather, because some in that place had let in a disesteem of them. Wherefore I was moved to open the service of those meetings, and the usefulness and benefit thereof to the church of Christ, as the Lord opened the thing in me; and it was of good service to Friends. I had a meeting also with some of those; that were gone into strife and contention, to show them wherein they were wrong; and having cleared
ventured occasionally beyond its limits to make prize of merchant ships, and consign their crews to slavery.
Great care was exercised towards these captive Friends by the Society, and efforts made for their redemption. They are mentioned in the Yearly Meeting epistles of 1682–1687, and in most of the succeeding ones. In the epistle of 1698 it is stated, “ Divers of our Friends who were captives at Mequinez, and suffered great hardships there, are dead; and there yet remain five, for whose ransom great endeavours have been used, but it is not yet effected.” The epistle of the following year states, “Earnest endeavours have again lately been used for the liberty of our Frieuds, captives in Barbary, though not as yet obtained; and there being at this time some negotiations on foot, by the tenderness and care of the government, for the redemption of all the English there; and though the persons in Barbary, employed therein by Friends, do wait some time to see the effect of that, yet we shall continue our further endeavours for their discharge, and in the meantime take care to send them supplies for food, they having little allowance in that country, of anything to support their bodies, under the great severities of labour, and undeserved stripes, that captives often endure."
In the epistle of 1702 the conclusion of the Barbary captives is stated, namely, that five Friends, being all who remained alive in that long and sore captivity, have been this year redeemed, whose ransom (including a Friend's son from Pennsylvania) cost the Society upwards of £480. The redeemed tenderly and gratefully acknowledged Friends' love and care of them.
* A schism, of which Story and Wilkinson were at the head, is frequently referred to in the writings of some of the early Friends. It commenced and spread mostly in the north. There were, however, those in London, Bristol, and some southern counties, who, through ease and unwatchfulness, having lost their first love and the discerning spirit, were deceived by a specious bait, and became the cause of much exercise and trouble to their brethren.
The ground of difference was alleged by them to be, their objection to those meetmyself of them, I left them to the Lord. Then, after another public meeting in the town, I returned towards London by WALTHAM ABBEY, where I had a public meeting on the First-day following; and another with Friends in the evening. Next day I went to Christopher Taylor's at EDMONTON, and stayed there a day or two, having some things upon me to write, which were for the service of truth. When I had finished that service, I went to LONDON by SHACKLEWELL, where was a school kept by Friends, for the bringing up of young women that were Friends' daughters.
I abode at LONDON most part of this winter, having much service for the Lord there, both in and out of meetings : for as it was a time of great suffering among Friends, I was drawn in spirit to visit Friends' meetings more frequently; to encourage and strengthen them both by exhortation and example. The parliament also was sitting, and Friends were diligent in waiting upon them, to lay their grievances before them. We received fresh accounts almost every day of the sad sufferings Friends underwent in many parts of the nation. In seeking relief for my suffering brethren I spent much time; together with other Friends, who were freely given up to that service, attending at the parliament-house for many days together, and watching all opportunities to speak with such members of either house, as would hear our just complaints. And indeed, some of these were very courteous to us, and appeared willing to help us if they could; but the parliament being then earnest in examining the Popish plot, and contriving ways to discover such as were Popishly affected, our adversaries took advantages against us (because they knew we could not swear nor fight) to expose us to those penalties that were made against Papists; though they knew in their consciences that we were no Papists, and had had experience of us, that we were no plotters. Wherefore, to clear our innocency, and to stop the mouths of our adversaries, I drew up a short paper, to be delivered to the parliament; as follows :
“It is our principle and testimony, to deny and renounce all plots and plotters against the king, or any of his subjects; for we have the Spirit of Christ, by which we have the mind of Christ, who came to save men's lives, and not to destroy them. We desire the safety of the king and of all his subjects. Wherefore we declare, that we will endeavour, to our power, to save and defend him and them, by discovering all plots and plotters (which shall come to our knowledge) that would destroy the king or his subjects. This we do sincerely offer unto you. But as to swearing and fighting, which in tenderness of conscience we cannot do, ye know that we have suffered these many years for our conscientious refusal thereof. And now that the Lord hath brought you together, we desire you to relieve us, and free us from these sufferings; and that ye will not put upon us to do those things, which we have suffered so much and so long already for not doing; for if you do, you will make our sufferings and bonds stronger, instead of relieving us."
ings for regulating the affairs of the church, exercising a salutary discipline over its members; and more especially against the establishment of women's meetings, which G. Fox and other Friends “were moved to set up.” They stated, with a show of plausibility which gained some, chiefly the looser sort, to their ranks, “That such meetings were needless, some years having been passed in peace and unity without them; and that every individual ought to be guided by the Spirit, and left free to act; that meetings for discipline were a form, and the exercise of that discipline an infringement upon individual liberty." Great endeavours were made for their enlightenment and restoration. In 20 Month 1676, a meeting was held at Drawell, which lasted four days, in which “many Friends laboured much for their preservation, but they were too far gone in a separate spirit to be reclaimed.” They, therefore, became out of unity with the body who, “walking by the same rule, minded the same thing.” They fell to jangling, and, after a while, the best among them came to see how they had been deceived; and the rest, after having had separate meetings, are said to have "vanished as snow in the fields."- See Sewell's History, folio edition,
pp. 583, 584.
18 81–1683.–George Fox answers two envious books written abroad-writes to
inagistrates to persuade them to moderation-writes to the Quarterly Meetings -attends the judges at Chambers, respecting a tithe-suit against himself and his wife-George Fox had bound himself not to intermeddle with his wife's estatethis is shown to the judges in court, at which they wonder-his counsel thereon founds an argument in his favour-he again writes against the spirit of strife and division in the church-writes to the magistrates who had illegally condemned Friends upon ex-parte evidence-writes two papers respecting the choice of sheriffs- Friends are interrupted at Gracechurch Street Meeting by a civil and military force-George Fox writes divers books and papers in support and defence of the Truth-the Spirit of God directed to as the rule to distinguish between Truth and error, whereby the evil of persecution may be avoided—an epistle to encourage Friends under their sufferings, buth from the outward powers, and from false brethren—the laws are now more strictly enforced against Dissenters -an epistle to Friends, commending them to the power of God in themselves —writes to Friends imprisoned at Denbigh, to console them in their sufferings, and exhorting them to faithfulness-Friends are kept out of their meeting-houses, and fined for speaking—a Friend is speedily restored from a sudden illness, in a remarkable manner, through the prayers of George Fox-persecution is now hot, and George Fox writes to Friends not to risk the loss of other people's goods through their sufferings.
ABOUT this time I received two very envious books, written against Truth and Friends; one of them by a doctor (so called) of Bremen, in Germany, the other by a priest of Dantzic. They were both full of gross falsehoods, and reproachful slanders. I found it upon me to answer them both; and that I might not be much interrupted therein by other business and company, I went to KINGSTON-UPON-THAMES, where I wrote an answer to each of them; and also to some other scandalous papers, which had been printed and scattered about to misrepresent Friends.
While I was there I wrote also the following paper, to persuade the magistrates to moderation towards Dissenters, and take off their edge to persecution. That it should have its full service, I directed it“ To all the Rulers, Magistrates, and Law-makers in England, Scotland, and
Ireland, from the highest to the lowest ; and to all other Magistrates everywhere, in that which is called Christendom; desiring their health, peace, tranquillity, life, and salvation in Christ Jesus, the Lord of Glory, and Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, who is the King of kings, and Lord of lords, to whom all power in heaven and in earth is given ; and who will reward every man according to his words and works.
“You that bear the name of Christian magistrates, my desire is, that you may all be found in Christ; and not only have the name, but be made partakers of his divine nature; that ye may be not only sayers, but doers of the word; not only professors and talkers of Christ, but letting him rule
your hearts by faith, and be walkers in Christ. For as his great apostle saith, “As every one hath received the Lord Jesus Christ, so let him walk in him; for in him there is peace. If all that profess Christ, did walk in Christ, they would walk in peace, and be in unity; for the apostle exhorted the Christians in his day to keep the unity of the Spirit; which is the bond of peace, yea, of Christ the King of kings' peace. All Christians, who have the Scriptures, and are not in this Spirit of Christ, are not in unity one with another; and so have broken this bond of peace, which should knit and unite them together. Likewise all that profess the truth of Christ, should live in it; for it is peaceable, and the gospel is the gospel of peace ; which, if all Christians lived in, they would be at peace one with another, and in the glorious fellowship of the gospel. And if all Christians kept in the fear of God, which is the beginning of the pure, heavenly, peaceable, and gentle wisdom, which is easy to be entreated above that wisdom, which is earthly, sensual, devilish, and destroying), there would be no difference and destroying about matters of religion.
“I do declare the mighty day of the Lord is come and coming; and the Lord God is come to teach his people himself by his Son, Heb. i., who bruises the serpent's head, that false teacher, that led Adam and Eve from God their Teacher. God will teach his people by his Son, who was the Teacher of Adam and Eve in paradise, before they fell and disobeyed the Lord, forsook him, and followed the serpent; whose head Christ bruises, and renews man and woman up again into the image of God, which Adam and Eve were in before they fell: glory and honour be to God through Jesus Christ, who hath called us by his Son into his glorious image, to serve and worship him in Spirit and truth; which Holy Spirit and truth the devil is out of, and into which he cannot come.
“I desire all Christian magistrates to take heed of persecuting any, though they differ from you in matters of faith, worship, and religion. For Christ saith, 'Let the tares and the wheat grow together till the harvest;' and he forbade such as would be plucking up tares : the reason was, “lest they should pluck up the wheat also;' for Christ said, it should be his angels' work, to separate the tares from the wheat. Moreover, Christ said, they should go into everlasting punishment that did not visit him in prison in his members: then what will become of them that cast him into prison, where he is made manifest in his members ! O, lay these things to heart ! A day of judgment will come, vengeance and recompense upon every one according to his works.
“To those disciples who would have had fire to come down from heaven to consume them that would not receive them, Christ turned him about, rebuked them, and told them, they knew not what spirit they were of; for he came not to destroy men's lives, but to save them.'
- Therefore, let all magistrates and priests in that which is called Christendom, consider who have destroyed men's lives since the apostles' days, because they could not receive the religions, ways, and worships which they have made and set up: have they known what spirit they have been of ? Are they not all reproved by, and come under the judgment of Christ? Therefore let all persecution be laid aside concerning religion ; let love bear