Page images
PDF
EPUB

would send for me up to the deputy-governor, and in the meantime drink my strong beer out; and so they did. When I came back, one of the soldiers came to me in a jeer, and asked me for some strong beer. I told him they had played their pretty trick; and so I took no further notice of it. But inasmuch as they kept me so very strait, not giving liberty for Friends to come to me, I spoke to the keepers of the castle to this effect: “I did not know till I was removed from Lancaster castle, and brought prisoner to this castle of Scarbro', that I was convicted of a premunire; for the judge did not give sentence upon me at the assizes in open court. But seeing I am now a prisoner here, if I may not have my liberty, let my friends and acquaintance have their liberty to come and visit me, as Paul's friends had among the Romans, who were not Christians but Heathens. For Paul's friends had their liberty; all that would, might come to him, and he had his liberty to preach to them in his hired house; but I cannot have liberty to go into the town, nor for my friends to come to me here. So you that go under the name of Christians, are worse in this respect than those Heathens were.”

But though they would not let Friends come to me, they would often bring others, either to gaze upon me, or to contend with me. One time a great company of Papists came to discourse with me; they affirmed, "the Pope was infallible, and had stood infallible ever since Peter's time." But I showed them the contrary by history; for one of the bishops of Rome, (Marcellinus by name), denied the faith and sacrificed to idols; therefore he was not infallible. I told them, If they were in the infallible spirit, they need not have jails, swords, and staves, racks and tortures, fires and faggots, whips and gallows, to hold up their religion, and to destroy men's lives about it; for if they were in the infallible spirit they would preserve men's lives, and use none but spiritual weapons about religion. I told them also what one that had been of their society told me. A woman who lived in Kent, had not only been a Papist herself, but had brought over several to that religion, but coming to be convinced of God's truth, and turned by it to Christ her Saviour, she exhorted the Papists to the samo One of them, a tailor, being at work at her house, while she opened to him the falseness of the Popish religion, and endeavoured to draw him from it to the truth, drew his knife, and got between her and the door; but she spoke boldly to him, and bid him put up his knife, for she knew his principle. I asked the woman, “what she thought he would have done with his knife?” She said, “ he would have stabbed her.” “Stabbed thee," said I, “what would he have stabbed thee for? thy religion ?” “Yes," said she, “it is the principle of the Papists, if any turn from their religion, to kill them if they can." This story I told those Papists, and that I had it from a person that had been one of them, but had forsaken their principles and discovered their practices. They did not deny this to be their principle; but said, “What! would I declare this abroad?” I told them, "yes, such things ought to be declared abroad; that it might be known how contrary their religion was to true Christianity." Whereupon they went away in a great rage.

Another Papist came to discourse with me, who said all the patriarchs

wcrc in hell, from the creation till Christ came, and that when Christ suffered he went into hell, and the Devil said to him, “What comest thou hither for, to break open our strongholds ?” And Christ said, “to fetch them all out.” So he said, “Christ was three nights and three days in hell, to bring them out.” I told him that was false, for Christ said to the thief, “This day thou shalt be with me in paradise.” And Enoch and Elijah were translated into heaven. And Abraham was in heaven, for the Scripture saith, Lazarus was in his bosom; and Moses and Elias were with Christ upon the Mount before he suffered. These instances stopped the Papist's mouth, and put him to a stand. . Another time came Dr. Witty, who was esteemed a great doctor of physic, with Lord Falconbridge; with these came also the governor of Tynemoutlı castle, and several knights. Being called to them, Witty undertook to discourse with me, and asked me, "what I was in prison for?” I told him, “ because I would not disobey the command of Christ, and swear.” He said, “I ought to swear my allegiance to the king." He being a great Presbyterian, I asked him, “whether he had not sworn against the King, and House of Lords, and taken the Scotch covenant : and had he not since sworn to the king? and what then was his swearing good for? But my allegiance,” I told him, “ did not consist in swearing, but in truth and faithfulness.” After some further discourse, I was sent away to my prison again. And afterwards this Dr. Witty boasted in the town amongst his patients, that he had conquered me. When I heard of his boasting, I told the governor, “it was a small boast in him to say he had conquered a bondman.” I desired to bid him visit me again, when he came to the castle. He came again a while after, with sixteen or seventeen great persons; and ran himself worse on ground than before. For he affirmed before them all, “ that Christ hath not enlightened every man that cometh into the world; and that the grace of God, that bringeth salvation, hath not appeared unto all men; and that Christ died not for all men.” I asked him, “what sort of men those were whom Christ had not onlightened ? and to whom his grace had not appeared ? and for whom he had not died?” He said, “Christ did not die for adulterers, and idolaters, and wicked men.” I asked him, “whether adulterers and wicked men were not sinners ?” He said, “Yes.” “ And did not Christ die for sinners?” said I. “Did he not come to call sinners to repentance ?” “Yes," said he. “Then,” said I, “thou hast stopped thy own mouth.” So I proved that the grace of God hath appeared unto all men, though some turn it into wantonness, and walk despitefully against it; and that Christ hath enlightened all men, though some hate the light. Several of the people that were present, confessed it was true; but he went away in a great rage, and came no more to me.

Another time the governor brought a priest, but his mouth was soon stopped. Not long after he brought two or three parliament-men, who asked me, "whether I owned ministers and bishops ?” I told them, “yes,

such as Christ sent, such as had freely received, and would freely give, . such as were qualified, and were in the same power and Spirit that the

apostles were in. But such bishops and teachers as theirs were, that would go no farther than a great benefice, I did not own; for thcy were not liko the apostles. Christ saith to his ministers, 'Go ye into all nations, anı! preach the gospel ;' but ye parliament-men, who keep your priests and bishops in such great fat benefices, have spoiled them all. For do ye think they will go into all nations to preach; or any farther than a great fat benefice ? Judge yourselves whether they will or not."

There came another time the widow of old Lord Fairfax, and with her a great company; one of whom was a priest. I was moved to declare the truth to them, and the priest asked me, "why we said, Thou and Thee to people for he counted us but fools and idiots for speaking so." I asked him, “whether they that translated the Scriptures, and that made the grammar and accidence, were fools and idiots, seeing they translated the Scriptures so, and made the grammar so, Thou to one, and You to more than one, and left it so to us. If they were fools and idiots, why had not he, and such as he, that looked upon themselves as wise men, and that could not bear Thou and Thee to a singular, altered the grammar, accidence, and Bible, and put the plural instead of the singular. But if they were wise men that had so translated the Bible, and had made the grammar and accidence so, I wished him to consider whether they were not fools and idiots themselves, that did not speak as their grammars and Bibles taught them; but were offended with us, and called us fools and idiots for speaking so?” Thus the priest's inouth was stopped, and many of the company acknowledged the truth, and were pretty loving and tender. Some of them would have given me money, but I would not receive it.

After this came Dr. Cradock, with three priests more, and the governor and his lady (so called), and another that was called a lady, and a great company with them. Dr. Cradock asked me, “what I was in prison for?” I told him, “for obeying the command of Christ and the apostle, in not swearing. But if he, being both a doctor and a justice of peace, could convince me, that after Christ and the apostle had forbidden swearing, they commanded Christians to swear, then I would swear. Here was the Bible,” I told him," he might, if he could, show me any such command." He said, “it is written, Ye shall swear in truth and righteousness.'” “Ay,” said I, “it was written so in Jeremiah's time; but that was many ages before Christ commanded not to swear at all;' but where is it written so, since Christ forbade all swearing? I could bring as many instances out of the Old Testament for swearing as thou, and it may be more; but of what force are they to prove swearing lawful in the New Testament, since Christ and the apostle forbade it? Besides," said I, “in that text where it is written, ye shall swear, what ye was this? Was it ye Gentiles, or ye Jews ?” To this he would not answer. But one of the priests that were with him answered, “it was to the Jews that this was spoken.” Then Dr. Cradock confessed, it was so. “Very well,” said I, “but where did God ever give a command to the Gentiles to swear ? For thou knowest that we are Gentiles by nature.” “Indeed," said he,“ in the gospel-times everything was to be established out of the mouths of two or three witnesses; but there was to be no swearing then.", “Why then," said I, “dost thou force oaths upon Christians, contrary to thy own knowledge, in the gospel-times. And why dost thou excommuni. cate my friends ?” (for he had excommunicated abundance, both in Yorkshire and Lancashire). He said, “for not coming to ehurch.” “Why," said I, “ye left us above twenty years ago, when we were but young lads and lasses, to the Presbyterians, Independents, and Baptists, many of whom made spoil of our goods, and persecuted us, because we would not follow them. Now we being but young, knew little then of your prin. ciples; and if ye had intended to keep the old men that did know them, to you, and your principles alive, that we might have known them, ye should either not have fled from us as ye did, or ye should have sent us your epistles, collects, homilies, and evening-songs; for Paul wrote epistles to the saints, though he was in prison. But they and we might have turned Turks or Jews for any collects, homilies, or epistles, we had from you all this while. And now thou hast excommunicated us, both young and old, and so have others of you done: that is, ye have put us out of your church before ye have got us into it, and before ye have brought us to know your principles. Is not this madness in you, to put us out before we were brought in ? Indeed, if ye had brought us into your church, and when we had been in, if we had done some bad thing, that had been something like a ground for excommunication or putting out again. But,” said I, “what dost thou call the church?” “Why,” said he, “that which you call the steeple-house.” Then I asked him, " whether Christ shed his blood for the steeple-house; and purchased and sanctified the steeple-house with his blood ? And seeing the church is Christ's bride and wife, and that he is the head of the church, dost thou think the steeple-house is Christ's wife and bride, and that he is the head of that old house, or of his people ?" “No," said he, “ Christ is the head of the people, and they are the church." “Then,” said I, “but you have given the title, church, which belongs to the people, to an old house, and you have taught people to believe so.” I asked him also, “why he persecuted Friends for not paying tithes ? And whether God ever gave a command to the Gentiles, that they should pay tithes ? And whether Christ had not ended tithes, when he ended the Levitical priesthood that took tithes ? And whether Christ, when he sent forth his disciples to preach, had not commanded them to preach freely, as he had given them freely? And whether all the ministers of Christ are not bound to observe this command of Christ ?" He said, “ he would not dispute that;” neither did I find he was willing to stay on that subject, for he presently turned to another matter, and said, "you marry, but I know not how." I replied, " It may be so; but why dost thou not come and see?” Then he threatened that he would use his power against us, as he had done. “I bid him take heed; for he was an old man.” I asked him also, “where he read from Genesis to the Revelations, that ever any priest did marry any ?” And I wished him to show me some instance thereof, if he would have us come to them to be married ; “for," said I, “ thou hast excommunicated one of my friends two years after he was dead, about his marriage. And why dost thou not excommunicate Isaac, and Jacob, and Boaz, and Ruth? Why dost thou not use thy power against these; for we do not read that they were ever married by the priests; but they took one another in the assemblies of the righteous, in the presence of God and his people; and so do we. So that we have all the holy men and women, that the Scripture speaks of in this practice, on our side." Much discourse we had, but when he found he could get no advantage over me, he went away with his company.

With such people I was much exercised while I was there; for most that came to the castle would desire to speak with me, and great disputes I had with them. But, as to Friends, I was as a man buried alive; for though many came far to see me, yet few were suffered to come to me; and when any Friend came into the castle about business, if he looked towards me they would rage at him. At last the governor came under some trouble himself; for he having sent out a privateer to sea, they took some ships that were not enemies' ships, but their friends'; whereupon he was brought into trouble; after which he grew somewhat more friendly to me. For before I had a marshal set over me, on purpose to get money out of me; but I was not free to give him a farthing; and when they found they could get nothing off me, he was taken away again. The officers often threatened that I should be hanged over the wall. Nay, the deputy-governor told me once that the king, knowing I had great interest in the people, had sent me thither, that if there should be any stirring in the nation, they should hang me over the wall to keep the people down. There being, a while after, a marriage at a Baptist's house, upon which occasion a great many of them were met together, they talked much then of hanging me. But I told them, “if that was what they desired, and it was permitted them, I was ready; for I never feared death nor sufferings in my life, but I was known to be an innocent, peaceable man, free from all stirrings and plottings, and one that sought the good of all men.” Afterwards, the governor growing kinder, I spoke to him when he was going to London to the Par. liament, and desired him to speak to Esquire Marsh, Sir Francis Cobb, and some others; and let them know how long I had lain in prison, and for what; and he did so. When he came down again, he told me, that Esquire Marsh * said he would go a hundred miles barefoot for my liberty, he knew me so well; and several others, he said, spoke well of me. From which time the governor was very loving to me.

There were, amongst the prisoners, two very bad men, that often sat drinking with the officers and soldiers'; and because I would not sit and drink with them too, it made them the worse against me. One time when these two prisoners were drunk, one of them (whose name was William Wilkinson, a Presbyterian, who had been a captain), came to me and challenged me to fight with him. Seeing what condition he was in, I got out of his way; and next morning, when he was more sober, showed him, “how

* The person whom George Fox here and elsewhere styles Esquire Marsh, was a gentleman attached to the court of Charles II. He always remained attached to George Fox, and ever retained a most friendly interest for the Society in general. From his station at court and office as a magistrate, he had frequent opportunities of mterposing his authority to protect the early Friends from the unjust oppression of their persecutors.

« PreviousContinue »