Copyright
William Evans.

The Friends' library : comprising journals, doctrinal treatises, and other writings of members of the religious Society of Friends (Volume 1) online

. (page 11 of 105)
Online LibraryWilliam EvansThe Friends' library : comprising journals, doctrinal treatises, and other writings of members of the religious Society of Friends (Volume 1) → online text (page 11 of 105)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


He was also led to open many things re-
specting the ministry, exhorting those engaged
in this weighty work to take care of destroy-
ing that which they had built up ; and to take
heed of many words. The following abstract
will give a view of the general heads : — That
which cometh from God, reaches to the life,
and settles in it. Ministers are to live in that
spirit which qualifies them to preach the way
of salvation to others. This preserves them
in their places, from laying hands suddenly
on any, and from smiting their fellow-servants.
That which moves any to travel abroad, must
preserve them while they are abroad ; and
as such are sensible of the dangers which
surround them, and keep in the pure fear of
the Lord, preservation will be experienced.
Though they are favoured with Divine open-
ings to minister to others ; yet for their own
growth, they must dwell under the government
of the Spirit of Truth, which will keep out the
boaster ; and when their service is performed,
they are to return to their own habitations.
The Spirit of God is weighty, and brings those
who obey it to be solid. It preserves out of
all foolish imaginations, and rashness, and en-
dues with wisdom to walk circumspectly and
wisely in the Church of God. None are to be
hasty to speak, neither backward when they
are called to do so ; for that brings confusion
and poverty. Truth is honourable in the eyes
of those who are not Friends, and when min-
isters abide in the Truth, they are kept in es-
teem ; but if they lose its life and power, they



lose their crown ; and getting from under the
cross, they may lose their former good condi-
tion, crucifying Christ afresh and putting him
to open shame. The practice of uttering words
without authority or life, gives rise to formal
preaching, and may settle the hearers in formal-
ity, whereby much hurt may be done. And
take heed of inordinate affections, and seeking
a name among men. When those among
whom ministers labour receive and own their
testimony, there is danger of self-exaltation.
But as the Life of Christ and the power of his
cross is lived in and abode under, preservation
will be known ; and such will have a witness
in the hearts of the people, answering to the
Divine Witness there. There will be no want
of wisdom, of knowledge, or of power, for
the Lord is the helper and keeper of all such,
and will in due time give them the victory.

After this meeting was over, the officers
came with a warrant to apprehend George
Fox ; but he having walked out of the house
into the garden, they missed him and went
away disappointed.

About this time, the sufferings of Friends
in support of their principles increased ; and
the prisons, both in England and Ireland, were
crowded with them. George Fox wrote to
Oliver Cromwell, remonstrating against the
cruelty practised toward them, but could ob-
tain no redress. Yet, with a strange incon-
sistency, the protector issued an order for a
day of fasting and humiliation, as well as a
general collection, on account of the suffer-
ings of the Protestants on the continent, under
the Duke of Savoy, who persecuted them with
great severity for their religion. To show
how contrary they acted to the Gospel rule of
doing as they would be done by, in thus im-
prisoning Friends, while they professed so
much abhorrence to the Roman Catholic per-
secutions, George wrote a paper, and had it
printed and circulated, " to show them the na-
ture of a true fast, such as God requires and
accepts, and to make them sensible of their
injustice and self-condemnation, in blaming
the Papists for persecuting the Protestants
abroad, while they, calling themselves Protest-
ants, were at the same time persecuting their
Protestant neighbours and Friends at home."

The crowded state of the prisons, and the
consequent unhealthiness of many of the suf-
ferers, induced Friends to go before the par-
liament and intercede that they might be suf-
fered to go and lie in the stead of their bre-
thren who were in jail, that these might have
the opportunity of recruiting and breathing a
purer air. This was indeed a strong proof of
the love which prevailed in the Society at that
period, inducing the members freely to give
up their time, money, and even liberty, for the



MEMOIR OF GEORGE FOX.



47



help of each other. But it had little effect on
their persecutors ; who rather seemed to be
exasperated by such evidences of affectionate
attachment, and threatened the applicants with
being whipped and sent home. George Fox
spent some time in London, labouring for the
relief of his afflicted brethren, and writing
epistles and papers, tending to strengthen
their faith, to rebuke sinners, or to persuade
the high professors to moderation. An Ad-
dress to Parliament, which he considered the
principal authors of the persecution, is as fol-
lows : viz. —

" O friends, do not cloak and cover your-
selves : there is a God that knoweth your
hearts, and that will uncover you. He seeth
your way. ' Wo be to him that covereth, but
not with my Spirit, saith the Lord.' Do ye
act contrary to the law, and then put it from
you ! Mercy and true judgment ye neglect.
Look at what was spoken against such. My
Saviour spoke against such ; ' I was sick, and
ye visited me not : I was hungry, and ye fed
me not : I was a stranger, and ye took me
not in: I was in prison, and ye visited me
not.' But they said, ' When saw we thee in
prison, and did not come to theel' ' Inasmuch
as ye did it not unto one of these little ones,
ye did it not unto me.' Friends, ye imprison
them that are in the life and power of truth,
and yet profess to be ministers of Christ ; but
if Christ had sent you, ye would bring out of
prison, out of bondage, and receive strangers.
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.

G. F."

Cromwell dying, his son Richard was de-
clared Protector, and soon after his accession
the nation was again involved in intestine com-
motion. The probability of a change in the
government, and the excitement and confusion
consequent on such a state of things, induced
a fear in the mind of George Fox, lest Friends
should be drawn into parties and strife. He
therefore addressed an epistle to his brethren,
warning them to keep clear of meddling with
any of the powers of the earth, but to mind
the Lord and his service.

In 1659, he again travelled through the
counties of England, and had large and pre-
cious meetings, in which many were con-
vinced. This was particularly the case in
Cornwall ; " several eminent people being con-
vinced in that county," says George Fox,
" whom neither priests nor magistrates, by
spoiling of goods or imprisonment, could bring
to forsake their Shepherd, the Lord Jesus
Christ, who bought them."

About the time of George Fox's visit to



these parts, several vessels were wrecked on
the coast of England, near the Land's End.
It was the custom, at such times, for both rich
and poor to get possession of as much of the
wreck as possible, without caring to save the
lives of the distressed mariners. It grieved
George to hear of such unchristian practices,
and he earnestly expostulated against them, in
an address which he circulated among the in-
habitants. He also encouraged Friends who
resided there, to use their exertions in sup-
pressing the practice, and to set a good exam-
ple, by endeavouring to save the lives of those
who suffered shipwreck, and to preserve the
property for the rightful owners.

The agitated state of the country increased
the difficulties of travelling, as well as the suf-
ferings of Friends ; their meetings being often
broken up by the soldiers, and they beaten,
stoned and dragged away to prison, there to
languish in confinement for many months.
Complaint of this cruel usage being made to
general Monk, who commanded the army, he
issued an order requiring both officers and
soldiers to forbear disturbing the meetings of
Friends, which gave them some respite.

George Fox continued his journey to Bris-
tol, Nailsworth, Gloucester, Worcester, and
Bagely, from whence he went to visit his
relatives at Drayton. At Balby, in Yorkshire,
a general, or Yearly Meeting of Friends, was
held in an orchard, where several thousands
of persons. Friends and others, were collected.
To this meeting George Fox went ; and, stand-
ing upon a high stool, began to preach to the
people. He had proceeded but a little time,
when two trumpeters came riding toward him,
sounding their trumpets ; and the captain of
the troop cried to the people to divide to the
right and left, and make way. It proved to
be a company of horse sent from York, about
thirty miles distant, to break up the meeting.
George continued speaking, and the captain
bade him come down, for he must disperse
them. George reasoned calmly with him on
the hardship of the case, many having come
a great distance to attend the meeting ; and
assured him they were peaceably met for the
worship of God, and should separate in a quiet
and orderly manner, as soon as the service of
the meeting was over. At length he prevailed
with him to leave a few of his soldiers, to see
that all ended quietly. He soon went away,
and the soldiers who were to stay, told Friends
they might continue their meeting until night,
if they chose. " But we staid," says George,
" only about three hours after, and had a glo-
rious powerful meeting, for the presence of the
living God was manifest among us, and the
Seed, Christ, was set over all."

He then proceeded through Warnsworth



48



MEMOIR OF GEORGE FOX.



and Barton- Abbey to Skipton, where he at-
tended a general meeting of Friends from
" many counties concerning the atfairs of the
church." He had recommended the institution
of this meeting several years before. It was
sometimes attended by members from most
parts of the nation, and was useful in advising
and assisting Friends under the multiplied suf-
ferings to which they were subjected. Repre-
sentations of these were prepared to be laid
before justices, judges and the parliament ;
and collections made for the relief of poor
Friends and others. It had stood for several
years, and the civil or military officers had
frequently come to disperse Friends, but when
they found the object for which they had con-
vened, they not only passed away without
molesting them, but commended the care of
the Society in providing for its own poor,
as well as its liberality in relieving the wants
of others, who were not in religious connex-
ion with it.

In the course of his travels in 1660, he
came to Swarthmore in company with his
friends Francis Howgill and Thomas Curtis.
He had not been there long, before he was
arrested under a warrant from Henry Porter,
a justice of the peace, and carried to Ulver-
stone that night, and next morning to Lan-
caster. The hearing of his case took place
before justice Porter, who charged him with
many things which as usual he could not, and
indeed did not attempt to prove, but committed
him to prison. George desired a copy of the
mittimus that he might know for what he was
imprisoned. It was refused, and the jailer
ordered to lock him up in a part of the jail
called "the dark house," and to let none
come to him, but keep him close prisoner
until he was delivered by the king or parlia-
ment.

The numerous falsehoods put in circulation
respecting this valiant soldier of Jesus Christ,
produced some singular notions of his charac-
ter in the minds of the ignorant class of peo-
ple. At the constable's house where they
detained him the night of his arrest, they set
a guard of sixteen men to watch him, some
of whom sat in the fire place lest he should
take flight out of the chimney. One of them
remarked he did not think " a thousand men
men could have taken him." Next day as
they were proceeding to Lancaster, " one
wicked fellow knelt down and lifting up his
hands, blessed God that he was taken." The
people seemed disposed to glory in his arrest,
but George says, he " was moved to sing
praises to the Lord in his triumphing power
over them."

The illegality and injustice of this commit-
ment, induced Friends to use considerable



exertions to obtain his release. Margaret Fell
and Anne Curtis applied in person to king
Charles, who had just been raised to the
throne, requesting him to send for George
Fox, and hear the case himself — which he as-
sented to, and accordingly directed an order
to be issued for removing him from Lancaster
to London. Various frivolous pretences were
used to prevent the execution of the king's
mandate ; but at length they concluded to send
him up, and consulted as to the safest and least
expensive mode of conveyance. One of the
charges against him was, that he had endea-
voured " to raise insurrections in the nation,
and embroil the whole country in blood ;" and
when it was proposed to escort him with a
party of horse, George replied, that if he was
such a man as they represented him to be,
they had need to send a troop or two of horse
to guard him. But the expense of this mode
formed a serious objection. It was then sug-
gested that the constable and a few of the bai-
liffs might be sufficient to escort him. On ex-
amination, however, it was found that this
would cost more than was convenient for them
to pay ; and they proposed to him to put in
bail for his appearance on a certain day in "
London. This he refused to do, asserting his
entire innocence of all the charges brought
against him ; but at the same time informed
them, that if he was set at libertj'-, he would
engage to appear before the judges in London,
on a certain day of the court term, if the Lord
permitted.

After some consultation, they agreed to take
his bare word for his appearance ; and he
whom they had represented as so dangerous
a person, was permitted to go at large ; and
travel at his leisure up to London, to take his
trial on an indictment, charging him with in-
surrection, sedition, and attempting to shed
the blood of his fellow-subjects.

At the time of assize many came to see him,
to whom he preached from the jail windows,
and showed them the fluctuations which at-
tended the profession of religion, among the
various denominations ; each, as it rose into
power, persecuting the rest for non-conform-
ity to its formula of faith. All plead, in their
turn, that people " must be subject to the high-
er power," that is, to themselves, whoever had
the rule ; but George Fox " directed them to
Christ Jesus, that they might be built upon
him, the Rock and Foundation that changeth
not." He also gave forth the following paper,
concerning true religion : —

" True religion is the true rule and right
way of serving God. And religion is a pure
stream of righteousness flowing from the
image of God, and is the life and power of
God planted in the heart and mind by the law



MEMOIR OF GEORGE FOX.



49



of life, which bringeth the soul, mind, spirit,
and body to be conformable to God, the Fa-
ther of Spirits, and to Christ ; so that they
come to have fellowship with the Father and the
Son, and with all his holy angels and saints.
This religion is pure from above, and unde-
filed before God ; it leads to visit the fatherless,
widows, and strangers, and keeps from the
spots of the world. This religion is above all
the defiled, spotted religions in the world, that
keep not from defilements and spots, but leave
their professors impure, below, and spotted ;
whose fatherless, widows, and strangers, beg
up and down the streets. G. F."

Besides this, he wrote a paper against per-
secution and one for the purpose of settling
the minds of those who were agitated with the
change of government. He also addressed the
king on his peaceable accession to the throne
of his ancestors ; exhorting him to extend
mercy and forgiveness towards his enemies,
and to suppress the profanity and debauch-
ery which overspread the nation on his return ;
warning him, with his accustomed plainness,
that if he did not exercise forgiveness, and en-
force by his authority, the laws for arresting
the flood of vice and corruption, and also stop
persecution, the Almighty would not hear his
prayers, or those who prayed for him ; but
blindness and hardness of heart would come
over him, and the country become like Sodom
and Gomorrah, for wickedness.

In about three weeks, according to his en-
gagement, he appeared at the bar of the king's
bench court in London. The charges against
him were read ; and when they came to that
part which represented him as a dangerous
person, the judges lifted up their hands in as-
tonishment. George asked them if they could
believe, that the sheriff and magistrates of
Lancaster would have suffered him to come
up alone, if he was such a man as the indict-
ment alleged. The great improbability of the
charges, and the fact that no accuser appeared
against him, made way for his discharge;
which was by order of the king, dated 24th
of October, 1660 — after he had been a pri-
soner about twenty weeks.

At the time Charles II. was proclaimed king
there were about seven hundred Friends in
different prisons in England, who had been
committed under the governments of Oliver
and Richard Cromwell. The king, on his ac-
cession to the throne, set them all at liberty.
There seemed, at that time, an intention on
the part of the king, to grant liberty of con-
science to his subjects, but the rash and tu-
multuous behaviour of some disorderly per-
sons defeated this desirable object. They
were termed Fifth-monarchy-men, and made
an insurrection in the city of London against

Vol. I.— No. 2.



the government, the effect of which was to
bring great suffering on Friends. For although
they were in no way connected with those dis-
turbers of the peace, but uniformly bore tes-
timony against all plots and insurrections, yet
as those persons made pretences to religion
in their wicked designs, the suspicions of the
government were excited against all who
dissented from the established religion, and
their meetings were assailed with great vio-
lence. George Fox, perceiving that it was
likely to be a time of trial to the Society,
remained in London, to bear his part with
his suffering brethren, and to encourage and
strengthen them by his example. He was
soon arrested and carried to Whitehall ; and
while waiting for audience before those who
were to examine him, he began to preach to
the people. This being observed by some
persons in authority who happened to be pass-
ing, they directed that he should be put into a
place of confinement " where he could not
stir." The order was promptly executed ; but
he observed to them, that " although they
might confine his body, they could not stop
up the Word of Life." Through the kind in-
terference of an officer of the king's bed-
chamber, who knew his innocence and was
friendly to him, George Fox was soon dis-
charged ; and afler preaching to the soldiers,
he went to visit a number of his friends, who
were imprisoned in an inn near Whitehall.
Richard Hubberthorn and he drew up a de-
claration against plots and fightings, setting
forth the peaceable and non-resisting princi-
ples of Friends, which prohibited them from
being engaged in forcibly setting up or pulling
down any government. It is as follows : viz. —

" A declaration from the harmless innocent
people of God, called Quakers, against all
sedition, plotters, and fighters ; for removing
the ground of jealousy and suspicion from
both magistrates and people in the kingdom,
concerning wars and fightings.

" Presented to the king the 2\st day of the
Wth month, 1660.

" Our principle is, and our practices have
always been, to seek peace and ensue it ; to
follow after righteousness and the knowledge
of God ; seeking the good and welfare, and
doing that which tends to the peace of all.
We know that wars and fightings proceed
from the lusts of men, as James iv. 1, 2, 3,
out of which lusts the Lord hath redeemed us,
and so out of the occasion of war. The occa-
sion of war and the war itself, wherein en-
vious men, who are lovers of themselves more
than lovers of God, kill, and desire to have
men's lives or estates, arise from the lusts.
7



50



MEMOIR OF GEORGE FOX.



All bloody principles and practices we, as to
our own particulars, do utterly deny, with
all wars, strife, and fighting with outward
weapons for any end, or under any pretence
whatsoever: this is our testimony to the whole
world.

" And whereas it is objected :

" But although you now say, ' That you
cannot fight nor take up arms at all ; yet if
the Spirit move you, then you will change
your principle, you will sell your coat and
buy a sword, and fight for the kingdom of
Christ.'

" To this we answer, Christ said to Peter,
' Put up thy sword in his place ;' though he
had said before, he that had no sword might
sell his coat and buy one, for the fulfilling of
the law and the scripture; yet after, when he
had bid him put it up, he said, ' He that taketh
the sword shall perish with the sword.' And
Christ said to Pilate, 'Thinkest thou, that I
cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall
presently give me more than twelve legions
of angels?' And this might satisfy Peter, after
he had put up his sword, when he said to him,
' He that took it, should perish by it ;' which
satisfieth us. In the Revelations it is said,
' He that kills with the sword shall perish with
the sword ; and here is the faith and the pa-
tience of the saints.' So Christ's kingdom is
not of this world, therefore do not his servants
fight, as he told Pilate, the magistrate who
crucified him. And did they not look upon
Christ as a raiser of sedition ? and did not he
pray, 'Father, forgive them?' Thus it is, that
we are numbered aixiongst transgressors, and
amongst fighters.

" That the Spirit of Christ by which we
are guided is not changeable, so as once to
command us from a thing, as evil, and again
to move unto it. We certainly know and tes-
tify to the world. That the Spirit of Christ,
which leads us into all truth, will never move
us to fight and war against any man with out-
ward weapons, neither for the kingdom of
Christ, nor for the kingdoms of this world.

" First, Because the kingdom of Christ
God will exalt, according to his promise, and
cause it to grow and flourish in righteousness.
' Not by might, nor by power of outward
sword, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord,' Zech.
iv. 6. So those that use any weapon to fight
for Christ, or for the establishing of his king-
dom or government, their spirit, principle, and
practice we deny.

" Secondly, We earnestly desire and wait,
that by the word of God's power and its ef-
fectual operation in the hearts of men, the
kingdoms of this world may become the king-
doms of the Lord, and of his Christ; and that
he may rule and reign in men by his Spirit



and truth ; that thereby all people, out of all
different judgments and professions, may be
brought into love and unity with God, and
one with another ; and that all may come to
witness the prophet's words fulfilled, who said,
' Nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war any more,' Isa.
ii. 4. Mich. iv. 3.

" We, whom the Lord hath called into the
obedience of his truth, have denied wars and
fightings, and cannot any more learn them.
This is a certain testimony unto all the world,
of the truth of our hearts in this particular,
that as God persuadeth every man's heart to
believe, so they may receive it. For we have
not, as some others, gone about cunningly
with devised fables, nor have we ever denied
in practice what we have professed in princi-
ple ; but in sincerity and truth, and by the
word of God, have we laboured to be made
manifest unto all men, that both we and our
ways might be witnessed in the hearts of all.
And whereas all manner of evil hath been
falsely spoken of us, we hereby speak the
plain truth of our hearts, to take away the
occasion of that offence, that so we, being in-
nocent, may not suffer for other men's offen-
ces, nor be made a prey of, by the wills of
men, for that of which we were never guilty;
but in the uprightness of our hearts we may,
under the power ordained of God for the pun-
ishment of evil-doers, and for the praise of them
that do well, live a peaceable life in all godli-
ness and honesty. For although we have al-
ways suffered, and do now more abundantly



Online LibraryWilliam EvansThe Friends' library : comprising journals, doctrinal treatises, and other writings of members of the religious Society of Friends (Volume 1) → online text (page 11 of 105)