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God in their generation; diligently serving him in life and doctrine, in manners, in conversation, in all things. And who are moved of the Lord to go to any other place, we standing in his will, and being moved by his power, which comprehends all things, and is not to be limited, we shall do his will, as we are commanded to do. So the Lord God open your understandings, that you may see this great power of the Lord, which he is now manifesting among his children in this his day; that ye may not withstand it in our Friends, that are come into the power of God, and to God, and know him by whom the world was made; by whom all things were created that were created; and there was not anything made, but what was made for him, and to him, and by him; who is the power of God, and doth enlighten every man that cometh into the world. Friends being come to this light, which cometh from Christ, and having received power from him, by whom all things were created, who hath all power in heaven and earth given to him, who is the wisdom of God, we have received wisdom and power from him; by which the Lord doth give us to know how to use and order the creatures to the glory of him who is the Creator of all things. Friends here are taught of the Lord to be diligent, serving him ; and who come into the life, the Scriptures were given forth from, are given up to serve the Lord; and of this I have in all your consciences a witness. if thou open the prison door, we shall not stay there. If thou send a liberate, and set us free, we shall not stay in prison; for Israel is to go out free, whose freedom is purchased by the power of God, and the blood of Jesus. But who goeth out of the power of God, loseth his freedom.
“ GEORGE Fox, “The 13th of the 6tb
And the rest who are sufferers for Month, 1656.”
the truth in Launceston jail.”
After this Major Desborough came to the Castle-Green, and played at bowls with the justices and others. Several Friends were moved to go, and admonish them not to spend their time so vainly; desiring them to consider, that “though they professed themselves to be Christians, yet they gave themselves up to their pleasures, and kept the servants of God meanwhile in prison ;" and telling them, “the Lord would plead with them, and visit them for such things." But notwithstanding what was written or said to him, he went away, and left us in prison. We understood afterwards, that he left the business to Colonel Bennet, who had the command of the jail
. For sometime after Bennet would have set us at liberty, if we would have paid his jailer's fees. But we told him, “we could give the jailer no fees, for we were innocent sufferers; and how could they expect fees of us, who had suffered so long wrongfully?” After a while Colonel Bennet coming to town, sent for us to an inn, and insisted again upon fees, which we refused. At last the power of the Lord came so over him, that he freely set us at liberty on the 13th day of the seventh month, 1656. We had been prisoners nine weeks at the first assize, called the Lent-assize, which was in the spring of the year.
1656-1657.-Address to those who are given to pleasures and wantonaess--to the
bowlers in the Castle-Green at Launceston-George Fox visits Friends imprisoned at Exeter, amongst whom is James Naylor, who has apostatized, but afterwards returned into the Truth—at a meeting in the orchard at Bristol about 10,000 persons are present-Paul Gwin, a rude Baptist, creates a disturbance, but is reproved and silenced-meeting of two or three thousand persons at N. Crips's— Justice Stooks prevents the magistrates from apprehending George Tox-speaks to the Protector at Hyde-Park, who invites him to his house-accordingly goes to Whitehall, and speaks to the Protector about Friends' sufferings-travels through · most parts of the nation after his liberation from Launceston jail--this year, 1656, there were seldom fewer than one thousand Friends in prison—to Friends, on the schism of J. Naylor—to Friends, to keep up their meetings--on judging the ministry, &c.—an answer to a high-flown professor-to professors, priests, and teachers, on immediate revelation and universal grace, &c., &c.—at Cardiff, George Fox sends word to some who had run out that “the day of their visitation was over”—at Brecknock, his companion, John-ap-John, preaches in the streets at night, there is a great uproar, like that of Diana's craftsmen—at William Gandy's has a large meeting of two or three thousand persons-Cromwell proclaims a fast for rain, and is told by George Fox that the drought was a sign of their barrenness-concerning the true fast and the false-preaches three hours at a great meeting in Radnorshire, and many are convinced-their horses are twice robbed of their oats—from a high hill sounds the day of the Lord, and foretells where God would raise up a people to himself, which came to pass-travels through every county in Wales, where there is a brave people, who sit under Christ's teaching-has a large meeting on the top of a hill near Liverpool—at Manchester is taken into custody, but soon released.
OBSERVING, while I was a prisoner at Launceston, how much the people (especially they who are called the gentry) were addicted to pleasures and vain recreations, I was moved, before I left the place, to give forth several papers as a warning to them, and all that so misspend their time. One of which was thus directed :
“ This is to go abroad among them who are given to pleasures and
wantonness. “The sins of Sodom and Gomorrah were pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness. filthy conversation vexed the righteous soul of just Lot day by day, and they would not take warning: on whom God therefore sent fire, and turned them into ashes. And in spiritual Sodom and Egypt was our Lord Jesus Christ crucified; and it is written, "The people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play; with whom God was not well pleased; and there fell three and twenty thousand in one day! These the apostle commanded the saints they should not follow; for these things happened to them for examples, and are
e written for our admonition. God spared not the old world; but reserving Noah, a preacher of righteousness brought the flood upon the world of the ungodly, making them;
them an example to all that after should live ungodly. Mark, ye ungodly ones, who are as natural brute beasts, who speak great swelling words of vanity, alluring through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, as they that count, it pleasure to riot in the day-time, sporting yourselves with your own deceivings; ye shall receive the reward of unrighteousness. Ye are as dogs and swine turned to the vomit, and wallowing in the mire, speaking evil of things that ye know not; and unless ye repent, ye shall utterly perish in your own corruptions. Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts as in a day of slaughter: ye have condemned and killed the just, and he doth not resist you.
Go to, weep and howl, for the misery that is coming upon you. She that liveth in pleasures, is dead while she liveth. God condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, making them an example to all those that after should live ungodly, in the wicked, filthy conversation : mark, here is your example. Hear this, ye that are given to pleasures, and read your examples.”
G. F. Another paper, upon my taking notice of the bowlers that came to sport themselves in the Castle-Green, was as follows :
“The word of the Lord to all you vain and idle-minded people, who are lovers of sports, pleasures, foolish exercises, and recreations, as you call
consider of your ways, what it is you are doing. Was this the end of your creation ? Did God make all things for you, and you to serve your lasts and pleasures ? Did not the Lord make all things for you, and you for himself, to fear and worship him in spirit and in truth, in righteousness and true holiness ? But where is your service of God, so long as your hearts run after lusts and pleasures ? Ye cannot serve God, and the foolish pleasures of the world, as bowling, drinking, hunting, hawking, and the like : if these have your hearts, God will not have your lips : consider, for it is true. Therefore from the Lord must you all witness woe and misery, tribulation and wrath, who continue in the love and practice of your vain sports, lusts, and pleasures. Now is the day, when all everywhere are exhorted to repentance. O foolish people, wicked and slow of heart to believe the threatenings of the great Jehovah against the wicked! What will
ye do in the day of the Lord's fierce wrath, that makes haste to come upon the world of ungodly men! What good have your foolish sports and delights done you now they are past? Or what good will they do you, when the Lord calls for your souls? Therefore all now awake from sleep, and see where you are: and let the light of Jesus Christ, that shines in every one of your consciences, search you thoroughly; and it will let you clearly see, for all your profession of God, Christ, and the Scriptures, you are ignorant of them, and enemies to them all, and your own souls also : and being found living in pleasures, you are dead while you live. Therefore doth the Lord by many messengers forewarn you, and call you to repentance and deep humiliation, that you may forsake the evil of your doings, own this day of your visitation, and while you have time, prize it; lest the things which belong to your peace be hid from your eyes, for your disobedience and rebellion against the Holy One. And then had it been good that you never had been born. Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand : again I say, repent!".
Given forth in Launceston Jail, To the Bowlers in the Green.
Being released from our imprisonment we got horses and rode towards Humphrey Lower's, and met him on the road. He told us, “ he was much troubled in his mind concerning us, and could not rest at home, but was going to Colonel Bennet to seek our liberty." When we told him, “ were set at liberty, and were going to his house,” he was exceedingly glad. To his house we went, and had a fine precious meeting; many were convinced, and turned by the Spirit of the Lord
to Christ's teaching. From his house we went to Loveday Hambley's, where we also had a fine large meeting. The Lord's power was over all; many were convinced there also, and turned to the Lord Jesus Christ, their teacher.
After we had tarried there two or three days, we came to Thomas Mounce's, where we had a general meeting for the whole county; which, being very large, was held in his orchard. Friends from Plymouth were there, and from many places. The Lord's power was over all; and a great convincement there was in many parts of the county. Their watches were down, and all was plain and open; for the Lord had let me see, before I was set at liberty, that he would make all the country plain before us. Thomas and Ann Curtis, with an alderman of Reading, who was convinced, had come to Launceston to see us while I was a prisoner : and when Ann, and the other man returned, Thomas Curtis stayed behind in Cornwall, and had good service for the Lord at that time.*
From Thomas Mounce's we passed to LAUNCESTON again, and visited that little remnant of Friends that had been raised up there while we were in prison; and the Lord's plants grew finely, and were established on Christ, their rock and foundation. As we were going out of town again, the constable of Launceston came running to us with the cheese that had been taken from Edward Pyot; which they had kept from us all this while, and were tormented with it. But being now set at liberty, we would not receive it.
From Launceston we came to OKINGTON (Oakhampton), and lodged at an inn, which the mayor of the town kept. He had stopped and taken up several Friends, but was very civil to us; and was convinced in his judg. ment.
From thence we came to EXETER, where many Friends were in prison; and amongst the rest James Naylor. For a little before we were set at liberty, James had run out into imaginations, and a company with him; which raised up a great darkness in the nation.† He came to Bristol, and
* Thomas Curtis became a faithful minister, and sufferer for Christ's sake. In 1666, he is mentioned in a letter from Alexander Parker to Margaret Fell as being a prisoner with thirty-two or thirty-three others. His wife, Ann Curtis, was a daughter of a sheriff of Bristol. See a letter of T. Curtis to George Fox, in Letters of Early Friends, p. 240.
† James Naylor was a monument of human frailty. His gift in the ministry was
made a disturbance there: and from thence he was coming to Launceston to see me; but was stopped by the way, and imprisoned at Exeter; as were also several others; one of whom, an honest tender man, died in prison there, whose blood lieth on the heads of his persecutors.
The night we came to Exeter, I spoke with James Naylor; for I saw he was out and wrong; and so was his company. Next day, being Firstday, we went to visit the prisoners, and had a meeting with them in the prison; but James Naylor and some of them could not stay the meeting. There came a corporal of horse into the meeting, and was convined, and remained a very good Friend. The next day I spoke to James Naylor again ; and he slighted what I said, and was dark, and much out; yet he would have come and kissed me. But I said, “ since he had turned against the power of God, I could not receive his show of kindness ;” the Lord moved me to slight him, and to “set the power of God over him.” So after I had been warring with the world, there was now a wicked spirit risen up amongst Friends to war against. I admonished him and his company. When he was come to London, his resisting the power of God in me, and the truth that was declared to him by me, became one of his greatest burdens. But he came to see his out-going, and to condemn it; and after some time he returned to truth again; as in the printed relation of his repentance, condemnation, and recovery, may be more fully seen.
We passed from Exeter through COLLUMPTON and Taunton, visiting Friends; and had meetings amongst them. From thence we came to PUDDIMOOR, to William Beaton's; where on the First-day we had a very
eminent; his experience in divine things truly great. He fell through unwatchful. ness, but was restored through deep sufferings and unfeigned repentance. His own writings are the most clear and lively description of the various dispensations he under. went; some of them deserve to be transmitted to the latest posterity. His address to his brethren bespeaks the real repentance of his heart; in that he says, “ My heart is broken this day for the offence I have occasioned to God's truth and people, -I beseech you, forgive wherein I evilly requited your love in that day. God knows my sorrow for it !” &c. A few hours before his death, he spoke in the presence of several witnesses the following remarkable words :
“There is a spirit which I feel, that delights to do no evil, nor to revenge any wrong; but delights to endure all things, in hope to enjoy its own in the end. Its hope is to outlive all wrath and contention, and
to weary out all exaltation and cruelty, or whatever is of a nature contrary to itself. It sees to the end of all temptations ; as it bears no evil in itself, so it conceives none in thought to any other. If it be betrayed, it bears it; for its ground and spring is the mercy and forgiveness of God. Its crown is meekness; its life is everlasting love unfeigned. It takes its kingdom with entreaty, and not with contention, and keeps it by lowliness of mind. In God alone it can rejoice, though none else regard it, or can own its life. It is conceived in sorrow, and brought forth without any to pity it; nor doth it murmur at grief and oppression. It never rejoiceth, but through sufferings ; for with the world's joy it is murdered. I found it alone; being forsaken. I have fellowship therein, with those who lived in dens and desolate places in the earth; who through death obtained this resurrection, and eternal, holy life !"
Such was the end of James Nayler; who, in his forty-fourth year, “chastened, but not killed-cast down, but not destroyed”-through much tribulation, entered, we may humbly hope, “into the kingdom of God."-(For full particulars, see his Life by Joseph Gurney Bevan.)