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wrote a declaration, showing from the preamble and terms of the act, that we were not such a people, nor our meeting such as were described in that act. I wrote also another short paper on the occasion of that act against meetings, opening our case to the magistrates, as follows:
“O FRIENDS, consider this act, which limits us to five. Is this doing as ye would be done by ? Would ye be so served yourselves? We own Christ Jesus as well as you, his coming, death, and resurrection; and if ve be contrary-minded to you in some things, is not this the apostle's exhortation, to wait till God hath revealed it ?' Doth not he say, 'what is not of faith, is sin ?' Seeing we have not faith in things, which ye would have us to do, would it not be sin in us, if we should act contrary to our faith? Why should any man have power over another man's faith, seeing Christ is the author of it? When the apostles preached in the name of Jesus, and great multitudes heard them, and the rulers forbade them to speak any more in that name, did not they bid them judge whether it were better to obey God or man? Would not this act have taken hold of the twelve apostles and seventy disciples; for they met often together? If there had been a law made then, that not above five should have met with Christ, would not that have been a hindering of him from meeting with his disciples? Do ye think that He, who is the wisdom of God, or his disciples, would have obeyed it ? If such a law had been made in the apostles' days, that not above five might meet together, who had been different. minded from either the Jews or the Gentiles, do ye think the churches of Christ at Corinth, Philippi, Ephesus, Thessalonica, or the rest of the gathered churches, would have obeyed it ? O therefore consider ! for we are Christians, and partake of the nature and life of Christ. Strive not to limit the Holy One; for God's power cannot be limited, and is not to be quenched. Do unto all men as ye would have them do unto you; for that is the law and the prophets."
“This is from those who wish you all well, and desire your everlasting good and prosperity, called Quakers; who scek the peace and good of all people, though they afflict us, and cause us to suffer."..
As I had endeavoured to soften the magistrates, and to take off the sharpness of their edge in the execution of the act, so it was upon me to write a few lines to Friends “to strengthen and encourage them to stand fast in their testimony, and bear, with Christian patience and content, the suffering that was coming upon them.” This I did in the following epistle :
“My dear Friends, Keep in the faith of God above all outward things, and in his power, that hath given you dominion over all. The same power of God is still with you to deliver you as formerly; for God and his power is the same; his Seed is over all, and before all; and will be, when that which makes to suffer, is gone. Be of good faith in that which changeth not; for whatsoever any do against the truth, it will come upon themselves, and fall as a millstone on their heads. If the Lord suffer you to be tried, let all be given up; and look at the Lord and his power, which is over the whole world, and will remain when the world is gone. In the Lord's power and truth rejoice over that which makes to suffer, in the Seed, which was before it was; for the life, truth, and power of God is over all. All keep in that; and if ye suffer in that, it is to the Lord.
“Friends, the Lord hath blessed you in outward things; and now the Lord may try you, whether your minds be in outward things, or with the Lord that gave you them? Therefore keep in the Seed, by which all outward things were made, and which is over them all. What! shall not I pray, and speak to God, with my face towards heavenly Jerusalem, according to my wonted time? Let not any one's Delilah shave his head, lest he lose his strength; neither rest in its lap, lest the Philistines be upon you. For your rest is in Christ Jesus; therefore rest not in anything
G. F. London, 12th of 2nd Month, 1670.
On the First-day after the act came in force, I went to the meeting at GRACECHURCH-STREET, where I expected the storm was most likely to begin. When I came there, I found the street full of people, and a guard sct to keep Friends out of their meeting house. I went to the other pas. sage out of Lombard Street, where also I found a guard; but the court was full of people, and a Friend was speaking amongst them; but he did not speak long. When he had done, I stood up, and was moved to say, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against that which pricks thee. Then I showed that it is Saul's nature that persccutes still, and that they who persecute Christ in his members now, where he is made manifest, kick against that which pricks them. That it was the birth of the flesh that persecuted the birth born of the Spirit; and that it was the nature of dogs to tear and devour the sheep, but that we suffered as sheep that bite not again; for we were a peaceable people, and loved them that persecuted us." After I had spoken a while to this effect, the constable came with an informer and soldiers; and as they pulled me down, I said, “ Blessed are the peacemakers.” The commander of the soldiers put me among the soldiers, and bid them secure me, saying to me, “ You are the man I looked for.” They took also John Burngeat and another Friend, and led us away first to the Exchange, and afterwards towards Moorfields. As we went along the streets the people were very moderate; some of them laughed at the constable, and told him, "we would not run away.” The informer went with us unknown, till falling into discourse with one of the company, he said, “ It would never be a good world till all people came to the good old religion that was two hundred years ago.” Whereupon I asked hiin, “Art thou a Papist? What! a Papist informer; for two hundred years ago there was no other religion but that of the Papists." He saw he had ensnared himself, and was vexed at it; for as he went along the streets, I spoke often to him, and manifested what he was. When we were come to the mayor's house, and were in the court-yard, several of the people that stood about, asked me, “how and for what I was taken ?” I desired them to ask the informer, and also kuow what his name was ; but he refused to tell his name. Whereupon
one of the mayor's officers looking out at a window, told him, “he should tell his name before he went away; for the lord mayor would know by what authority he intruded himself with soldiers into the execution of those laws which belonged to the civil magistrate to execute, and not to the military.” After this, he was eager to be gone; and went to the porter to be let out. One of the officers called to him, saying, “ Have you brought people here to inform against, and now will you go away before my lord mayor comes ?” Some called to the porter not to let him out; wliereupon he forcibly pulled open the door, and slipped out. No sooner was he come into the street, than the people gave a shout, that made the street ring again, crying out, “a Papist informer! a Papist informer !” We desired the constable and soldiers to go and rescue him out of the people's hands, fearing lest they should do him a mischief. They went, and brought him into the mayor's entry, where they stayed a while ; but when he went out again, the people received him with another shout. The soldiers were fain to go and rescue him once more, and they led him into a house in an alley, where they persuaded him to change his periwig, and so he got away unknown.
When the mayor came, we were brought into the room where he was, and some of his officers would have taken off our hats, which he perceiving, called to them, and bid them, “let us alone, and not meddle with our hats; for,” said he, “they are not yet brought before me in judicature.” So ve stood by while he examined some Presbyterian and Baptist teachers ; with whom he was somewhat sharp, and convicted them. After he had done with them, I was brought up to the table where he sat; and then the officers took off my hat; and the mayor said mildly to me, "Mr. Fox, you are an eminent man amongst those of your profession ; pray, will you be instrumental to dissuade them from meeting in such great numbers ? for, seeing Christ hath promised that where two or three are met in his name, he will be in the midst of them, and the king and parliament are graciously pleased to allow of four to meet together to worship God; why will not you be content to partake both of Christ's promise to two or three, and the king's indulgence to four ?" I answered to this purpose : “Christ's promise was not to discourage many from meeting together in his name, but to encourage the few, that the fewest might not forbear to meet, because of their fewness. But if Christ hath promised to manifest his presence in the midst of so small an assembly, where but two or three were gathered in his name, how much more would his presence abound where two or three hundred are gathered in his name? I wished him to consider, whether this act would not have taken hold of Christ, with his twelve apostles and seventy disciples, if it had been in their time, who used to meet often together, and that with great numbers ? However, I told him this act did not concern us; for it was made against seditious meetings, of such as met, under colour and pretence of religion, 'to contrive insurrections, as (the act says) late experience had shown;' but we had been sufficiently tried and proved, and always found peaceable, and therefore he should do well to put a difference between the innocent and the guilty.” He said, “ the act was made against meetings, and a worship not according to the liturgy.” I told him, “ac
cording to " was not the very same thing: and I asked him, " whether the liturgy was according to the Scriptures ? and whether we might not read Scriptures, and speak Scriptures ?” He said “Yes." I told him, “this act took hold only of such, as met to plot and contrive insurrections, as late experience had shown; but they had never experienced that by us. Because thieves are sometimes on the road, must not honest men travel ? And because plotters and contrivers have met to do mischief, must not an honest, peaceable people meet to do good? If we had been a people that met to plot and contrive insurrections, &c., we might have drawn ourselves into fours; for four might do more mischief in plotting than if there were four hundred, because four might speak out their minds more freely one to another than four hundred could. Therefore, we being innocent, and not the people this act concerns, we keep our meetings as we used to do: and, I said, I believed that he knew in his conscience we were innocent." After some more discourse, he took our names and the places where we lodged, and at length, as the informer was gone, set us at liberty.
Being set at liberty, the Friends with me asked me “whither I would go ?” I told them, “to Gracechurch Street meeting again, if it were not over.” When we came there, the people were generally gone; only some few stood at the gate. We went into Gerrard Roberts's house; and from thence I sent out to know how the other meetings in the city were. I understood that at some of the meeting-places Friends were kept out; at others they were taken, but set at liberty again a few days after. A glorious time it was, for the Lord's power came over all, and his everlast. ing truth got renown. For as fast as some that were speaking were taken down, others were moved of the Lord to stand up and speak, to the admiration of the people; and the more, because many Baptists and other sectaries left their public meetings, and came to see how the Quakers would stand. As for the informer aforesaid, he was so frightened, that there durst hardly any informer appear publicly again in London for some time after. But the mayor, whose name was Samuel Starling, though he carried himself smoothly towards us, proved afterwards a very great persecutor of our Friends, many of whom he cast into prison, as may be seen in the trials of W. Penn, W. Mead, and others, at the Old Bailey this year. *
* The celebrated trial of Penn and Mead at the Old Bailey, above alluded to, may be seen at full length in Clarkson's Life of Penn—"a trial which, for the good it has done to posterity, onght to be engraved on tablets of the most durable marble.” It was certainly one of those events which, in conjunction with others of a similar sort, by showing the inadequacy of punishment for religion to its supposed end, not only corrected and improved the notions of succeeding ages in this respect, but, by so doing, lessened the ravages of persecution, and the enmity between man and man. Nor ought posterity to be less grateful for it as a monument of the ferocity and corrupt usages of former times; for, contrasting these with the notions and customs of our own age, we see the improvement of our social and moral condition. Newgate is no longer the receptacle of innocent individuals suffering for conscience' sake. In onr courts of law we see an order, a decorum, and an administration of justice, unknown at the period of this memorable trial. Nor will the prospect be less grateful, if we quit the present for a moment, and direct our eyes to the future. We have
After some time the heat of persecution in London began to abate, and meetings were quieter there. Being now clear of the city, I went to visit Friends in the country; and attended several meetings in MIDDLESEX, BUCKINGHAMSHIRE, and OXFORDSHIRE, which were quiet, though in some places there was much threatening. At READING most of the Friends were in prison, and I went to visit them. When I had been a while with them, the Friends that were prisoners gathered together, and several other persons came in; so that I had a fine opportunity amongst them, and “ declared the Word of Life, encouraging them in the truth; and they were refreshed iŋ feeling the presence and power of the Lord amongst them.” When the meeting was ended, the jailer understanding that I was there, the Friends were concerned how to get me out safe again; for they feared lest he should stop me. But after I had stayed a while, and eaten with them, I went down stairs, and the jailer being at the door, I put my hand in my pocket, which he had such an eye to, hoping to get something off me, that he asked me no question. So I gave him something, and bade him “be kind and civil to my Friends in prison, whom I came to visit;" and he let me pass out without interruption. But soon after Isaac Pennington coming to visit them, he stopped him, and caused him to be made a prisoner.*
the best reason to hope, on contemplating the signs of the times, that the day is rapidly approaching when the Christian religion, which is capable of cementing men in the strongest possible union, and for the noblest purposes, will be stripped of its mischievous appendages-restored to its primitive purity, and made a blessing to all the dwellers upon the earth.
* Isaac Pennington has been mentioned before, but only cursorily, in the whole of this Journal. Little is known of his history, beyond what is to be gathered from testimonies given forth concerning him at his death, and a few other incidental notices of him. He was well descended as to his worldly parentage, being the eldest son of Alderman Pennington, who was two years successively Mayor of London, and a noted member of the Long Parliament. Born about the year 1617, he received a liberal education, having, according to Penn, “all the advantages the schools and universities of his own country could give, joined with the conversation of some of the most learned and considerable men of that time.”
From childhood, Isaac Pennington was religiously inclined, and, in a paper written by himself, and found after his death amongst his writings, we have such a living portrait of a deeply-exercised mind, as demonstrates that godliness with him was indeed the “one thing needsul.” “In the sense of my lost estate,” he writes, “I sought after the Lord, I read the Scriptures; I watched over mine own heart; and whatever I read in the Scriptures, as the way of God, to my understanding, I gave myself to the faithful practice of. He became fully convinced of the principles of I'riends, and joined that despised people— becoming a faithful sufferer for the cause of Christ."
“Early believers in the light of Truth
He was six times in jail, some of his imprisonments being long, yet borne with great quietness and coustancy of mind. His first imprisonment was in Aylesbury jail