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I showed them the duty of man and wife, how they should serve God, being heirs of life and grace together.
I passed thence to Grace Barwick's, where I had a general meeting, which was very large. I came next to Richard Shipton's, where I had another meeting; and so to a priest's house, whose wife was convinced, and himself grown very loving, and glad to see me. This was that priest, who, in the year 1651, threatened, “if ever he met me again, he would have my life, or I should have his ;” and said, “he would lose his head, if I were not knocked down in a month.” But now he was partly convinced, and become very kind. I went from his house towards the sea, where several Friends came to visit me; and amongst others, Philip Scafe, who had for. merly been a priest, but, having received the truth, was now become a preacher of Christ freely, and continued so. Passing on, I called to see an ancient man, who was convinced of truth, and was above a hundred years old. Then I came to a Friend's house, where I had a great meeting, and quiet. I had a great meeting near MALTON; and another large one Dear HULL; from which I went to HOWDEN-DYKE. As we went into the town, the watchmen questioned me and those that were with me; but not having any warrant to stay us, we passed by them, who in a rage threatened they would search us out. I went to the house of one called the Lady Montague, where I lodged that night; and several friends came to visit me. Next morning, being up early, I walked into the orchard, and saw a man about sunrise go into the house in a great cloak. He stayed not long; but came soon out again, and went away, not seeing me. I felt something strike at my life; and went into the house, where I found the maid-servant affrighted and trembling. She told me, “that man had a naked rapier under his cloak.” By which I perceived he came with an intent to do mischief, but the Lord prevented him. . I then visited Friends till I came to YORK, where we had a large meeting. After which I went to visit Justice Robinson, an ancient justice of the peace, who had been very loving to me and Friends from the begin. ning. There was a priest with him, who told me, “it was said of us, that we loved none but ourselves.” I told him, " we loved all mankind, as they were God's creation, and as they were children of Adam and Eve by generation; and we loved the brotherhood in the Holy Ghost." This stopped him. After some other discourse, we parted friendly, and passed away.
About this time I wrote a book, entitled, Fear God, and Honour the King; in which I showed, “that none could rightly fear God, and honour the king, but they that departed from sin and evil.” This book affected the soldiers much, and most people. .
Having visited Friends at YORK, we passed to a market town, where we had a meeting at George Watkinson's, formerly a justice. A glorious, blessed meeting it was, and very large, and the Seed of life was set over all. We should have been troubled to get into this town, had not Provi. dence made way for us; for the watchmen stood ready to stop us. But a man riding just before us, the watchmen questioned him first; and perceive ing he was a justice of peace, they let him pass; and we riding close after him, by that means escaped.
From this place we passed to Thomas Taylor's, formerly a captain, where we had a precious meeting. Hard by Thomas Taylor's lived a knight, who was much displeased when he heard I was likely to be released out of prison; and threatened that, “if the king set me at liberty, he would send me to prison again the next day." ut though I had this meeting so near him, yet the Lord's power stopped him from meddling, and the meeting was quiet. Colonel Kirby also, who had been the chief means of my imprisonment at Lancaster and Scarbro' castles, when he heard I was set at liberty, got another order for taking me up; and said, “he would ride his horse forty miles to take me, and would give forty pounds to have me taken." A while after I came so near as to have a meeting within two miles of him; he was then struck with the gout, and kept his bed, so that it was thought he would have died.
From Thomas Taylor's I visited Friends till I came to SYNDERHILLGREEN, where I had a large, and general meeting. The priest of the place hearing of it, sent the constable to the justices for a warrant, and they rode their horses so hard, that they almost spoiled them; but the notice they had being short, and the way long, the meeting was ended before they came. I did not hear of them till I was going out of the house, after meeting was over, and then a Friend came and told me, “they were searching another house for me, the one I was then going to.” As I went along the fields towards it, I met the constables, wardens, and the justice's clerk. I passed through them, they looking at me, and went to the house they had been searching. Thus they lost their design; for the Lord's power bound them, and preserved me over them; and Friends parted, and all escaped them. The officers went away as they came; for the Lord had frustrated their design; praised be his name for ever.
After this I went into DERBYSHIRE, where I had a large meeting. Some Friends were apprehensive of the constables coming; for they had great persecution in those parts; but our meeting was quiet. A justice of peace in that county had taken away much of Friends' goods; whereupon Ellen Fretwell had made her appeal to the sessions; and the rest of the justices granted her her goods again, and spoke to the persecuting justice, that he should not do so any more. She was moved to speak and warn him ; whereupon he bid her, “come and sit down on the bench.” “Ay,” said she, “ if I may persuade you to do justice to the country, I will sit down with you." "No," said he, “then you shall not; get out of the court.” As she was going out, she was moved of the Lord to turn again, and say, '“ she should be there, when he should not.” After the sessions were ended, he went home, and drove away her brother's oxen, for going to meetings. Then Susan Frith, a Friend of Chesterfield, was moved of the Lord to tell him, that “if he continued in persecuting the innocent, the Lord would execute his plagues upon him.” Soon after which he fell distracted, and died. This relation I had from Ellen Fretwell herself.
I travelled into NOTTINGHAMSHIRE, and had a large meeting at SKEGBY; from thence I went to MANSFIELD, where also I had a meeting; thence to another town, where there was a fair, at which I met with many Friends. Then passing through the forest in a very thundering and rainy day, I
came to NOTTINGHAM. So great was the tempest many trees were torn, up by the roots, and some people killed; but the Lord preserved us. On First-day following I had a large meeting in Nottingham, very quiet; Friends were come to sit under their teacher, the Grace of God, which brought them salvation, and were established upon the rock and foundation, Christ Jesus. After the meeting I went to visit the Friend who had been sheriff about the year 1649, whose prisoner I then was.
From Nottingham I passed into LEICESTERSHIRE and came to SILEBY, where we had a large, blessed meeting. After which I went to LEICESTER to visit the prisoners there, and then to John Penford's, where we had a general meeting, large and precious. From thence I passed, visiting Friends and my relations, till I came to WARWICK, where having visited the prisoners, I passed to BADGLEY, and had a precious meeting there. Then I travelled through NORTHAMPTONSHIRE, BEDFORDSHIRE, BUCKINGHAMSHIRE, and OXFORDSHIRE, visiting Friends in each county. In Oxfordshire the devil had laid a snare for me, but the Lord broke it; his power came over all, his blessed truth spread, and Friends were increased therein. Thus after I had passed through many counties, visiting Friends, and had many large and precious meetings amongst them, I came to LONDON. But I was weak with lying almost three years in cruel and hard imprisonments; my joints and my body were so stiff and benumbed, that I could hardly get on my horse or bend my joints ; nor could I well bear to be near the fire or to eat warm meat, I had been kept so long from it. Being come to London, I walked a little among the ruins, and took good notice of them. I saw the city lying, according as the word of the Lord came to me concerning it several years before.
After I had been a time in London, and visited Friends' meetings through the city, I went into the country again, and had large meetings at KINGSTON, READING, and in WILTSHIRE, till I came to BRISTOL, where also I had many large meetings. Thomas Lower came thither out of Cornwall to meet me: and Friends were there from several parts of the nation, it being then the fair time. After I was clear of Bristol, I left that city and went to Nathaniel Crisps's; and so through the country to LONDON again, having large meetings in the way, and all quiet, blessed be the Lord. Thus, though I was very weak, yet I travelled up and down in the service of the Lord, who enabled me to go through in it.
About this time some, that had run out from truth and clashed against Friends, were reached unto by the power of the Lord, which came wonderfully over, and made them "condemn and tear their papers of controversies to pieces.” Several meetings we had with them, and the Lord's everlasting power was over all, and set judgment on the head of that which had run out. In these meetings, which lasted whole days, several who had run out with John Perrot and others, came in again, and condemned that spirit which led them to “keep on their hats, when Friends prayed, and when they themselves prayed.” Some of them said, “ that Friends were more righteous than they,” and that, “if Friends had not stood, they had been gone, and had fallen into perdition.” Thus the Lord's power was wonderfully manifested, and came over all.
Then I was moved of the Lord to recommend the setting up of five monthly meetings of men and women in the city of London (besides the women's meetings and the quarterly meetings), to take care of God's glory, and to admonish and exhort such as walked disorderly or carelessly, and not according to truth. For whereas Friends had had only quarterly meetings, now truth was spread, and Friends were grown more numerous, I was moved to recommend the setting up of monthly meetings throughout the nation.* And the Lord opened to me what I must do, and how the men's and women's monthly and quarterly meetings should be ordered and established in this and in other nations; and that I should write to those where I did not come, to do the same. After things were well settled at London, and the Lord's truth, power, seed, and life reigned and shone over all in the city, I went into Essex. After the monthly meetings were settled in that county, I went into SUFFOLK and NORFOLK, Thomas Dry being with me. When we had visited Friends in those parts, and the monthly meetings were settled, we went into HUNTINGDONSHIRE, where we had very large and blessed gatherings; and though we met with some opposition, the Lord's power came over all, and the monthly meetings were established there also. When we came into BEDFORDSHIRE, we had great opposition; but the Lord's power came over it all. Afterwards we went into NOTTINGHAMSHIRE, where we had many precious gatherings, and the monthly meetings were settled there. Then passing into LINCOLNSHIRE we had a meeting of some men Friends of all the meetings in the county, at his house who had formerly been sheriff of Lincoln, and all was quiet. After this we passed over Trent into NOTTINGHAMSHIRE again, the exsheriff of Lincoln being with me, where we had some of all the meetings in that county together. Our meeting was glorious and peaceable; and many precious meetings we had in that county.
At that time William Smith was very weak and sick, and the constables and others had seized all his goods, to the very bed he lay upon, for truth's sake. These officers threatened to break up our meeting ; but the Lord's power chained them, so that they had not power to meddle with us, blessed be his name. After it, I went to visit William Smith, and there were constables and others watching his corn and beasts, that none of them might be removed.t
* For some very interesting particulars respecting the setting up of Monthly and other disciplinary Meetings and their object, see Letters of Early Friends, p. 288-292.
+ The William Smith mentioned here was originally pastor of an Independent congregation, living after the strictest manner of that people. He was convinced about the year 1658, and became a faithful labourer in the gospel. Many were turned to God by him, for he proved himself a minister of Jesus Christ, in labours, in travails, in watchings, necessities, and distresses, suffering much loss of goods and long and tedious imprisonments. For not paying tithes he was imprisoned twentyone weeks among felons in Nottingham jail; and another time had the value of £42 taken from him, whilst he was in prison, for £7 demanded by the priest of Elton.
In the times of his frequent imprisouments, William Smith wrote several books, which were printed together in a folio volume in 1675, entitled Balm from Gilead, &c. When at liberty he travelled abroad strengthening the brethren, and though often visited by sickness, he was kept in patience and content, much of the power and presence of God appearing in him many times when he was in great weakness of Thence we passed into LEICESTERSHIRE and WARWICKSHIRE, where ve had many blessed meetings. The order of the gospel was set up, and the men's monthly meetings established in all those counties. Then we went into DERBYSHIRE, where we had several large and blessed meetings. In many places we were threatened by the officers, but, through the power of the Lord we escaped their hands. Leaving things well settled in Derby, shire, we travelled over the Peak hills, which were very cold (for it was then frost and snow), and came into STAFFORDSHIRE. At Thomas Hammersley's we had a general men's meeting; where things were well settled in the gospel order, and the monthly meetings established also. But I was so exceedingly weak, I was hardly able to get on or off my horse's back; but my spirit being earnestly engaged in the work the Lord had concerned me in, and sent me forth about, I travelled on therein, notwithstanding the weakness of my body, having confidence in the Lord, that he would carry me through, as he did, by his power. We came into CHESHIRE, where we had several blessed gatherings, and a general men's meeting, wherein all the monthly meetings for that county were settled, according to the gospel order, in and by the power of God. After the meeting I passed away. But when the justices heard of it, they were very much troubled, that they had not come and broken it up, and taken me; but the Lord prevented them. After I had cleared myself there in the Lord's service, I passed into LANCASHIRE, to William Barnes's, near WARRINGTON, where met some of most of the meetings in that county; and there all the monthly meetings were established in gospel order. From thence I sent papers into WESTMORLAND by Leonard Fell and Robert Widders, and also into DURHAM, CLEVELAND, NORTHUMBERLAND, CUMBERLAND, and SCOTLAND, to exhort Friends to settle the monthly meetings in the Lord's power in those places; which they did. So the Lord's power came over all, and the heirs of it came to inherit it. For the authority of our meetings, is the power of God, the gospel, which brings life and immortality to light; that all may see over the devil that hath darkened them, and that all the heirs of the gospel may walk according to the gospel, and glorify God with their bodies, souls, and spirits, which are the Lord's; for the order of the glorious gospel is not of man, nor by man. To this meeting in Lancashire, Margaret Fell, being a prisoner, got liberty to come, and went with me to Jane Milner's in CHESHIRE, where we parted. I passed into SHROPSHIRE, and from thence into WALES, and had a large general men's meeting at Charles Lloyd's, where some opposers came in, but the Lord's power brought them down. · Having gone through DENBIGHSHIRE and MONTGOMERYSHIRE we passed
body, to the admiration of beholders. During his last sickness, one evening, many Friends being in the room sitting in silence, he turned in his bed towards them, and plentifully declared of the love of God, by which they were much refreshed and tendered. He also testified of a large portion which he had in life eternal. Then he spoke to Friends “ to be mindful of truth, and of their service therein, more than of their daily food; and so committed them to the grace of God.” The day before he died he called his children (six or seven), and tenderly exhorted them “to keep in the fear of God, and to love the truth, and God would be a father and portion to them."