« PreviousContinue »
with you. Look at Him, who suffered for you, who liath bought you, and will feed you; who saith, “Be of good comfort, I have overcome the world;' who destroys the devil and his works, and bruises the serpent's head. I say, look at Christ, your sanctuary, in whom ye have rest and peace. To you it is given not only to believe, but to suffer for his name's sake. They that will live godly in Christ Jesus, shall suffer persecution by the ungodly professors of Christ Jesus, who live out of him. Therefore be valiant for God's truth upon the earth, and look above that spirit that makes you suffer, up to Christ, who was before it was, and will be when it is gone. Consider all the prophets, Christ, and the apostles, who suffered, and were persecuted; but they were never persecuted as true men, but as deceivers, and yet true. Christ is the same to-day as he was yesterday; a rock and foundation for your age and generation, for you to build upon. I have written concerning you (since I heard your letter) to Friends in Cheshire to visit you, understanding that you belong to their quarterly meeting; and therefore I desire that some Friends of your county would go, and lay your suffering condition before the monthly or quarterly meeting in Cheshire. I have written likewise to Richard Davis, * that some of that side may go and visit you, and see how your condition is. My love is to you in the Lord, who is your alone support.”
G. F. London, the 27th of the 11th Month, 1682.
Now because the magistrates were many of them unwilling to have fines laid upon meeting-houses, they kept Friends out in many places, setting officers and guards of soldiers at the doors and passages; yet sometimes Friends were fined for speaking or praying, though it was abroad. One First-day it was upon me to go to Devonshire-House meeting in the afternoon; and because I had heard Friends were kept out there that morning (as they were that day at most meetings about the city), I went sooner, and got into the yard before the soldiers came to guard the passages; but the constables were there before me, and stood in the door-way with their staves. I asked them to let me go in; they said, “they could not, nor durst not; for they were commanded the contrary, and were sorry for it.” I told them I would not press upon them; so I stood by, and they were very civil. I stood till I was weary, and then one gave me a stool to sit down on; and after a while the power of the Lord began to spring up among Friends, and one began to speak. The constables soon forbade him, and said he should not speak; and he not stopping, they began to be wroth. But I gently laid my hand upon one of the constables, and wished him to let him alone; the constable did so, and was quiet; and the man did not speak long. After he had done, I was moved to stand up and speak; and in my declaration, I said, “they need not come against us
* Richard Davis-some account of whose life, written by himself, was published after his decease, and a third edition of the volume in 1771-was convinced of the truth about the year 1657. He resided in Montgomeryshire; and his lise contains an interesting account of the first spreading of truth in Wales. Richard Davis was a faithful minister of the gospel, endued with spiritual gifts, and serviceable in the exercise thereof in the churches of Christ; sound in doctrine, and exemplary in conversation,
with swords and staves, for we were a peaceable people; and had nothing in our hearts but good-will to the king and magistrates, and to all people upon the earth. We did not meet, under pretence of religion, to plot aud contrive against the government, or to raise insurrections; but to worship God in Spirit and in truth. We had Christ to be our Bishop, Priest, and Shepherd to feed us, and oversee us, and he ruled in our hearts; so we could all sit in silence, enjoying our teacher; so to Christ, their Bishop and Shepherd, I recommended them all.” I then sat down; and after a while I was moved to pray, and the power of the Lord was over all; and the people, the constables, and soldiers, put off their hats. When the meeting was done, and Friends began to pass away, the constable put off his hat, and desired the Lord to bless us; for the power of the Lord was over him and the people, and kept them under.
After this I went up and down, visiting Friends at their houses, who had their goods taken from them for worshipping God. We took an account of what had been taken from them; and some Friends met together about it, and drew up the case of the sufferings of our Friends in writing, and gave it to the justices at their petty sessions. Whereupon they made an order, “that the officers should not sell the goods of Friends which they had in their hands, but keep them until the next sessions ;" which gave some discouragement to the informers, and put a little stop to their proceedings.
Next First-day it was upon me to go to the meeting at the Savoy; and by the time it was gathered the beadle came in ; and after him the wild people, like a sea; but the Lord's power chained them all. The Spirit of the Lord went through and over all, and they were quiet, and we had a glorious, peaceable meeting; blessed be the Lord for his unspeakable goodness. This was in the 12th month, 1682.
In the 1st month, 1683, I went to KINGSTON-UPON-THAMES ; and it being then a time of persecution, as I went to the meeting, I met the chief constable, who had been at the meeting-place, and had set watchmen there to keep us out; yet he was pretty civil, and the watchmen let Friends have a couple of forms out, to sit upon in the highway; so we met together there, and a very precious meeting we had; for the refreshing presence of the Lord was with us, in which we parted in peace.
Having visited and encouraged Friends there, I returned to LONDON, and went to the meeting at the Bull-and-Mouth, where the constables with their watchmen kept a guard, to keep Friends out of the house. So we met in the street; and when any Friend spoke, the officers and watchmen made a great bustle to pull him down, and take him into custody. After some other Friends had spoken, it was upon me to speak; and I said, “Heaven is God's throne, and earth is his footstool; and will ye not let us stand upon God's footstool to worship, and serve the living God?” While I spoke they were quiet; and after I had cleared myself, we broke up our meeting in peace. This was on the Sixth-day of the week.
On the First-day following I was moved to go to the meeting at GRACE. CHURCH STREET. When I came there, I found a guard set at the entrance in Lombard Street, and another at the gate in Gracechurch Street, to keep Friends out of the meeting-place; so we had to meet in the street. After some time I got a chair, stood up on it, and spoke largely to the people, * opening the principles of truth to them, and declaring many weighty truths concerning magistracy, and concerning the Lord's prayer.” There were, besides Friends, a great multitude of people, and amongst them many professors; all was very quiet; for the Lord's power was over all, and in his time we broke up our meeting, and departed in peace.
The next day I went to GUILDFORD in SURREY; and having visited Friends there, passed to WORMINGHURST in Sussex, where I had a very blessed meeting among Friends, free from disturbance. While I was there, James Claypole, of London (who was there with his wife also), was suddenly taken ill with so violent a fit, that he could neither stand nor lie; but, through the extremity of pain, cried out. When I heard it, I was much exercised in spirit for him; and went to him. After I had spoken a few words to him, to turn his mind inward, I was moved to lay my hand upon him, and prayed the Lord to rebuke his infirmity. As I laid my hand on him, the Lord's power went through him; and through faith in that power he had speedy ease, so that he quickly fell into a sleep. When he awoke, he was so well, that next day he rode with me five-and-twenty miles in a coach; though he used formerly (as he said) to lie sometimes two weeks, sometimes a month, in one of those fits. But the Lord was entreated for him, and by his power soon gave him ease at this time; blessed and praised be his holy name therefore!
After I had had some meetings in Sussex and Surrey, and had visited Friends thereaway, I returned to London by KINGSTON, where I had a meeting on the 1st of the 2d month, being First-day. We were kept out of the meeting-house by a constable and watchmen, as before, and so were obliged to meet in the highway. But it being the monthly meeting day, and many people being there, the meeting was pretty large, and very quiet; and the Lord's blessed presence was amongst us; blessed be his name for ever!
Being come to LONDON, I went to the meeting at WHEELER STREET, ncar Spitalfields, which that day proved very large; and a glorious, blessed time it was ; for the Lord's power and truth were over all, and many deep and weighty things were opened to the people, to their great satisfaction.
I tarried in and near London, visiting Friends' meetings, and labouring in the service of the gospel, till the Yearly Meeting came on, which began on the 28th of the 3d month. It was a time of great sufferings; and much concerned I was, lest Friends that came up out of the country on the church's service, should be taken and imprisoned at London. But the Lord was with us; his power preserved us, and gave us a sweet and blessed opportunity to wait upon him, to be refreshed together in him, and to perform his services for his truth and people for which we met. As it was a time of great persecution, and we understood that in most counties Friends were under great sufferings, either by imprisonments or spoiling of goods, or both, a concern was weightily upon me lest any Friends that were Cufferers, especially such as were traders and dealers in the world, should hazard the losing of other men's goods or estates through their sufferings. Wherefore, as the thing opened in me, I drew up an epistle of caution to Friends in that case, which I communicated to the Yearly Meeting; and from thence it was sent forth among Friends throughout the nation ; a copy of which here follows:
“Dear Friends and brethren in the Lord Jesus Christ, who is your only sanctuary in this day of storm and persecution, spoiling of goods, and imprisonments! Let every one's eye be unto him, who has all power in heaven and in earth given unto him ; so that none can touch a hair of your head, nor you, nor anything ye have, except it be permitted or suffered in this day, to try his people, whether their minds be with the Lord, or in outward things. Dear Friends, take care that all your 'offerings be free, and of your own, that has cost you something; so that ye may not offer of that which is another man's, or that which ye are entrusted withal and not your own, or fatherless' or widows' estates; but all such things settle and establish in their places. You may remember many years ago, in a time of great persecution, divers Friends, who were traders, shop-keepers, and others, had the concerns of widows and fatherless, and other people's estates in their hands. And when a great suffering, persecution, and spoiling of goods came upon Friends, especial care was taken that all might offer up to the Lord in their sufferings what was really their own, and not any other people's estates or goods which they had in their hands; and that they might not offer up another body's, but that which they had bought and paid for, or were able to pay for. Afterwards several letters came out of the country to the meeting at London, from Friends that had goods of the shopkeepers at London upon credit, which they had not paid for; who wrote to their creditors whom they had their goods of, entreating them to take their goods again. And some Friends came to London themselves, and treated with their creditors, letting them understand that they lay liable to have all that they had taken from them; and told them, they would not have any man to suffer by them: neither would they by suffering offer up anything but what was really their own, or what they were able to pay for.' Upon which several took their goods again. This wrought a very good savour in the hearts of many people, when they saw such a righteous, just, and honest principle in Friends, that would not make any susler for their testimony; but what they did suffer for the testimony of Jesus should be really and truly their own, not other people's. In this they owed nothing to any, but love. So in this every man and woman stands in the free offering, a free people, whether it be spiritual or temporal, which is their own; and in that they wrong no man, neither inwardly, nor outwardly. Ornan said unto David, 'I give thee the thrashing-floor, &c., and the oxen for burnt-offerings, and the thrashing instruments for wood, and the wheat for the meat-offering; I give it all. But king David said unto Ornan, ‘Nay, but I will verily buy it for the full price; for I will not take that which is thine for the Lord, nor offer burnt-offerings without cost,' 1 Chron. xxi. 22, &c. So it should be his own ; and so should it be every man's that offers. You may see here that David would not accept of another man's gift for an offering to the Lord; he would not offer up that which cost him nothing; but what should be really his own, Psal. cxii. 5. *A guod man...... will guide his affairs with discretion.
“Let this be read in your monthly and quarterly men's and women's meetings.”
1683-1685.-A salutation of love to Friends, designed to stir up the pure mindman
epistle to Friends commending them to Christ, the rock and sure foundation-an epistle of counsel to Friends-George Fox taken from a meeting and examined by a magistrate, but soon released-writes an epistle to the faithful to beware of a seducing spirit-after the Yearly Meeting sails for Holland, and lands at the Briel-attends the Yearly Meeting at Amsterdam-writes to Galenus Abrahams, a Mennonist or Baptist, who, seven years before, bid him “keep his eyes off hin," for he said “they pierced him," but now he was become very loving and tender, as well as his family-George Fox returns to England-writes to the Duke of Holstein an able defence of women's preaching-writes an epistle of counsel to Friends—advises with, and assists them in, drawing up an account of sufferings, which is printed and spread amongst Parliament-men-writes a caution to Friends to keep out of the world's spirit, &c.—and a warning against pride and excess in apparel.
SOME time after the Yearly Meeting I went down to KINGSTON-UPONThames to visit Friends there; and while I was there it came upon me to write the following epistle to Friends in general, as a salutation of love, and to stir up the pure mind in them :
“ DEAR FRIENDS AND BRETHREN, “Who are turned from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, who are believers in the light, which is the life in Christ, and are become children of the light and of the day; who are grafted into Christ, the second Adam, the Lord from heaven, and are gathered in the name of Jesus, in whom ye have salvation, and not in any other name under the whole heaven. For Christ Jesus saith, 'Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them,' Matt. xviii. 20. So you being gathered in the name of Jesus, he is in the midst of you, a Saviour, a Mediator, a Prophet, a Shepherd, a Bishop, a Leader, a Counsellor, the Captain of your salvation, who bruises the serpent's head, and destroys the devil and his works. Therefore, brethren in Christ Jesus, exhort one another daily, while it is called to-day, lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For you are made partakers of Christ, if ye hold fast the beginning of your confidence stedfast to the end, Heb. iii. 14. Therefore hear Christ's voice, for he is in the midst of you a teacher. Take heed, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God, as there is in too many in this day of provocation and temptation. While it is to-day hear his voice, and let us consider one another, to provoke unto love and to good works. Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering (for he is faithful that hath promised and hath called you), not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; (mark) as the manner of some is, that did and do forsake the assembling of themselves together: but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the day of light appearing. For if we sin wilfully, after we have received the