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William Evans.

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

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suffer, yet we know it is for righteousness'
sake: 'For our rejoicing is this, the testimony
of our consciences, that in simplicity and godly
sincerity, not with fleshy wisdom, but by the
grace of God, we have had our conversation
in the world,' 2 Cor. i. 12, which for us is a
witness for the convincing of our enemies.
For this we can say to all the world, we have
wronged no man, we have used no force nor
violence against any man, we have been found
in no plots, nor guilty of sedition. When we
have been wronged we have not sought to re-
venge ourselves, we have not made resistance
against authority ; but wherein we could not
obey for conscience sake, we have suffered the
most of any people in the nation. We have
been counted as sheep for the slaughter, per-
secuted and despised, beaten, stoned, wounded,
stocked, whipped, imprisoned, haled out of the
synagogues, cast into dungeons and noisome
vaults, where many have died in bonds, shut
up from our friends, denied needful sustenance
for many days together, with other the like
cruelties. And the cause of all these our
sufferings is not for any evil, but for things
relating to the worship of our God, and in



MEMOIR OF GEORGE FOX.



51



obedience to his requirings. For which cause
we shall freely give up our bodies a sacrifice,
rather than disobey the Lord ; knowing, as
the Lord hath kept us innocent, he will plead
our cause when there is none in the earth to
plead it. So we, in obedience to his truth, do
not love our lives unto death, that we may do
his will, and wrong no man in our generation,
but seek the good and peace of all men. He
who hath commanded us, ' That we shall not
swear at all,' Matth. v. 34, hath also command-
ed us, 'That we shall not kill,' Matth. v. So
that we can neither kill men, nor swear for
nor against them. This is both our principle
and our practice, and hath been from the be-
ginning ; so that if we suffer, as suspected to
take up arms or make war against any, it is
without any ground from us ; for it neither is,
nor ever was in our hearts, since we owned
the truth of God ; neither shall we ever do it,
because it is contrary to the Spirit of Christ,
his doctrine, and the practices of his apostles ;
even contrary to him for whom we suffer all
things and endure all things.

" And although men come against us with
clubs, staves, drawn swords, and pistols
cocked ; and beat, cut, and abuse us ; yet we
never resisted them, but to them our hair,
backs, and cheeks have been ready. It is not
an honour to manhood or nobility to run upon
harmless people, who lift not a hand against
them, with arms and weapons.

" Consider these things, ye men of under-
standing ; for plotters, raisers of insurrections,
tumultuous ones, and fighters, running with
swords, clubs, staves, and pistols, one against
another, we say, are of the world, and have
their foundation from this unrighteous world,
from the foundation of which the Lamb hath
been slain. This Lamb hath redeemed us
from this unrighteous world. We are not of
it, but are heirs of a world of which there is
no end, a kingdom where no corruptible thing
enters. Our weapons are spiritual, not carnal,
yet mighty through God to the pulling down
of the strong holds of sin and Satan, who is
the author of wars, fighting, murder, and plots.
Our swords are broken into ploughshares, and
spears into pruning-hooks, as prophesied of in
Micah. iv. Therefore we cannot learn war
any more, neither rise up against nation or
kingdom with outward weapons, though you
have numbered us amongst the transgressors
and plotters. The Lord knows our innocency
herein, and will plead our cause with all peo-
ple upon earth, at the day of their judgment,
when all men shall have a reward according
to their works.

" Therefore in love we warn you for your
souls' good, not to wrong the innocent, nor
the babes of Christ, which he hath in his hand,



and is tender of as the apple of his eye ; nei-
ther seek to destroy the heritage of God, nor
turn your swords backward upon such as the
law was not made for, i. e. the righteous ; but
for the sinners and transgressors, to keep them
down. For those are not peace-makers nor
lovers of enemies, neither can they overcome
evil with good, who wrong them that are
friends to you and all men, and wish your
good and the good of all people upon earth.
If you oppress us, as they did the children of
Israel in Egypt, if you oppress us as they did
when Christ was born, and as they did the
Christians in the primitive times, we can say,
' The Lord forgive you ;' leave the Lord to
deal with you, and not revenge ourselves. If
you say as the council said to Peter and John,
' you must speak no more in that name ;' and
if you serve us as they served the three chil-
dren spoken of in Daniel, God is tlie same as
he ever was, that lives for ever and ever, who
hath the innocent in his arms.

" Oh ! friends ! offend not the Lord and his
little ones, neither afllict his people ; but con-
sider and be moderate. Run not hastily into
things, but mind and consider mercy, justice,
and judgment ; that is the way for you to
prosper and get the favour of the Lord. Our
meetings were stopped and broken up in the
days of Oliver, under pretence of plotting
against him; in the days of the Committee of
Safety* we were looked upon as plotters to
bring in king Charles ; and now our peaceable
meetings are termed seditious. Oh ! that men
should lose their reason, and go contrary to
their own consciences ; knowing that we have
suffered all things, and have been accounted
plotters all along, though we have always de-
clared against them both by word of mouth
and printing, and are clear from any such
thing ! Though we have suffered all along,
because we would not take up carnal weapons
to fight against any, and are thus made a prey
upon because we are the innocent, and cannot
avenge ourselves ! These things are left upon
your hearts to consider ; for we are out of all
those things in the patience of the saints, and
we know as Christ said, 'He that takes the
sword shall perish with the sword,' Matth.
xxvi. 52. Rev. xiii. 10.

" This is given forth from the people called
Quakers, to satisfy the king and his coun-
cil, and all that have any jealousy con-
cerning us, that all occasion of suspicion
may be taken awa)^, and our innocency
cleared."



* The Committee of Safety were chosen by par-
liament after the resig-nation of Richard Cromwell.
They held the reigns of government until the re-
storation of Charles II.



52



MEMOIR OF GEORGE FOX.



" POSTSCRIPT.

" Though we are numbered amongst trans-
gressors, and have been given up to rude,
merciless men, by whom our meetings are
broken up, in which we edified one another
in our holy faith, and prayed together to the
Lord that lives for ever, yet he is our pleader
in this day. The Lord saith, ' They that
feared his name spoke often together,' as in
Malachi ; which were as his jewels. For this
cause, and no evil doing, are we cast into
holes, dungeons, houses of correction, prisons,
sparing neither old nor young, men nor wo-
men, and made a prey of in the sight of all
nations, under pretence of being seditious, &c.
so that all rude people run upon us to take
possession ; for which we say. The Lord for-
give them that have thus done to us. He
doth and will enable us to suffer ; and never
shall we lift up hand against any man that
doth so use us ; but that the Lord may- have
mercy upon them, that they may consider
what they have done. For how is it possible
for them to requite us for the wrong they have
done to us ? Who to all nations have sounded
us abroad as seditious plotters, who were never
plotters against any power or man upon the
earth, since we knew the life and power of
Jesus Christ manifested in us, who hath re-
deemed us from the world and all works of
darkness, and plotters therein, by which we
know the election before the world began. So
we say, the Lord have mercy upon our ene-
mies, and forgive them for what they have
done unto us.

" Oh! do as ye would be done by; do unto
all men as you would have them do unto you ;
for this is the law and the prophets.

" All plots, insurrections, and riotous meet-
ings, we deny, knowing them to be of the
devil, the murderer; which we in Christ, who
was before they were, triumph over. And all
wars and fightings with carnal weapons we
deny, who have the sword of the Spirit ; and
all that wrong us, we leave to the Lord. This
is to clear our innocency from that aspersion
cast upon us, 'That we are seditious or plot-
ters.' "

No entreaty or persuasion that could be
used, served to arrest the fierceness of perse-
cution. Men and women who were known
to be Friends could scarcely pass without
violent abuse through the streets and high-
ways, on their lawful business, or to procure
provisions for their families. Many were
haled out of their houses, and some who
were sick, were cruelly dragged from their
beds to prison. Amid this storm of ill usage.
Friends continued steadfast to their principles
and faithfully attended their meetings, although
they went to them with a full expectation of



beating, stoning and imprisonment. The pri-
sons were filled with the peaceable Quakers,
and accounts were received in London that
several thousands had been thrown into jail
in the space of a few weeks. Under a lively
sense of the grievous sufferings of his friends,
and tender sympathy with them, George Fox
addressed them in an epistle of Christian con-
solation, as follows : —

" My dear Friends,

" In the immortal Seed of God, which
will plead its own innocency, who are inheri-
tors of an everlasting kingdom, which is in-
corruptible, and of a world and riches that
fade not away, peace and mercy be multiplied
amongst you in all your sufferings. Your
backs were not unready, but your hair and
cheeks prepared; who never feared sufferings,
as knowing it is your portion in the world,
from the foundation of which the Lamb was
slain ; who reigns in his glory, which he had
with his Father before the world began. He
is your rock in all floods and waves, upon
which you can stand safe, with a cheerful
countenance, beholding the Lord God of the
whole earth on your side. So in the Seed of
God, which was before the unrighteous world
in which the sufferings are, live and feed,
wherein the bread of life is felt, and no cause
of complaint of hunger or cold. Friends,
your sufferings all, that are or have been of
late in prison, I would have you send up an
account of, and how things are amongst you,
that it may be delivered to the king and his
council ; for things are pretty well here after
the storm. G. F."

" London, the 28th of the
nth month, 1660."

During the year 1660, much blood was
shed in England, in consequence of the change
which had taken place in the government ; and
Colonel Hacker, with others who had been ac-
tive in persecuting Friends during the time of
the protector, was brought to the gallows.
Often had these men been warned by Friends
against their cruelty and persecution, and of
the day of retribution which would overtake
them, when the Lord should arise to plead the
cause of the oppressed, of the destitute widows
and fathei'less children, whom they had made
such, by their unrelenting severity. That day
was now come ; the overflowing scourge en-
tered among them, and brought a dread and
fear over the minds of the people, so that they
who had deridingly nicknamed Friends Qua-
kers, were made to tremble and quake for
themselves. Many now would gladly have
taken refuge among this despised people, as a
shelter and hiding-place from the storm ; and
some, through the distress that came upon



MEMOIR OF GEORGE FOX.



53



them, were brought to make open profession
of the reUgion which before they had perse-
cuted.

In reviewing the trials and hardships which
Friends had undergone for their profession,
George Fox makes these remarks : — " O, the
daily reproaches, revilings and beatings we
underwent, even on the highways, because we
could not put off our hats to them, and for
saying thou and thee to them. O, the havock
and spoil which the priests made of our goods,
because we could not give them tithes — be-
sides our being cast into prison and great fines
laid upon us, because we could not swear : for
all these things did the Lord God plead with
them. And when this day of overturning was
come upon them, I was moved to write to
them and to ask, ' Did we ever resist when
you took away our ploughs and plough-gears,
our carts and horses, our cattle and corn, our
kettles and platters from us ; and whipped us,
and set us in the stocks, and cast us into pri-
son ; and all this only for serving and wor-
shipping God in spirit and in truth, and be-
cause we could not conform to your religion,
manners, customs and fashions? Did we ever
resist you ? Did we not give our backs to you
to beat, and our cheeks to pluck off the hair,
and our faces to spit upon 1 You thought to
have wearied out and ruined us, but you ruin-
ed yourselves ; whereas, we can praise God,
notwithstanding all your plundering of us,
that we have a kettle, a platter, a horse and
a plough still.' "

Many warnings in various ways were given
by Friends to some in power under Crom-
well's government, which they not only re-
jected, but abused them in return for their
faithful admonitions. But when king Charles
took the throne, most of these lost their places
and benefices, and they then confessed Friends
had been true pi'ophets to the nation. A priest of
much note in Oliver's days, when some liberty
was granted, prayed that God would put it
into the hearts of the chief magistrates to re-
move this " cursed toleration." Others prayed
against it as " intolerable toleration." But
after the above priest was turned out of his
benefice, a Friend asked him whether he
would account toleration accursed now : he
shook his head without making any reply.

Although many of those who were impri-
soned in consequence of the rising of the
Fifth-monarchy-men, were soon after set at
liberty, as being entirely innocent of any con-
nexion with those wild enthusiasts ; yet the
meetings of Friends continued to be disturbed
by the soldiers and rude people. At one time,
a company of Irishmen came to the meeting-
house at Pall Mall, with a view of making a



riot, but the meeting was over before they got
there. George Fox had gone into an upper
chamber, and overheard one of them say he
would kill all the Quakers if they were there.
George Fox went down to them and reproved
this blood-thirsty man, telling him " the law
said ' An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a
tooth ;' but thou threatenest to kill all the
Quakers, though they have done thee no hurt.
But here is Gospel for thee : here is my hair
— here is my cheek, and here is my shoulder,"
turning it to him. This address so surprised
the man and his companions as to induce the
remark, that if those were Quaker principles,
they had never heard the like before. George
replied, that what Friends were in words, the
same they were in life. The man who made
the threat became quite moderate, and cari'ied
himself courteously, although one of his com-
pany who staid without the house, said he was
so desperate a character that he did not dare
to go in with him ; fearing he would have done
Friends some mischief. Such is the powerful
influence which a gentle and peaceable de-
meanour under provocation has over the spi-
rits even of persecutors ; furnishing strong
evidence of the blessed effects of the meek
and non-resisting spirit of the Gospel, and of
the truth of the declaration that " a soft an-
swer turneth away wrath."

About this time Friends received an account
from New England, that the government there
had made a law to banish the Quakers out of
their colonies on pain of death, and that four
having returned after banishment, were put to
death. At the time of their execution, although
no intelligence had then reached England of
any such cruelty being intended, George Fox
had a clear sense of their sufferings, " as per-
fectly," to use his own words, " as if the hal-
ter had been put about his own neck." The
intelligence produced much sympathy and
feeling for the Society in that country ; and
Edward Burrough went immediately to court,
obtained an audience with the king, and told
him " there was a vein of innocent blood open-
ed in his dominions, which, if not stopped,
would overrun all." The king replied, " But
I will stop that vein." " Then do it speedily,"
said Edward, " for we know not how many
may soon be put to death." " As speedily as
you will," rejoined the king. " Call the se-
cretary," said he, to one of his attendants,
" and I will do it presently." A mandamus
was forthwith granted, forbidding the execu-
tion of any more of the Quakers : and the
king was pleased to appoint one of that Soci-
ety, who had been banished from New Eng-
land, on pain of death, to be the hearer of the
despatch. Friends hired a master of a vessel



54



MEMOIR OF GEORGE FOX.



for £300, to sail in ten days, whether he had
freight or not ; and after a prosperous voy-
age, they reached Boston in about six weeks.
Many Friends went passengers in the ship,
and when they arrived in the harbour, word
was quickly spread through the town, that a
ship load of Quakers had come ; and among
them one under sentence of banishment on
pain of death. On the following day, the
master of the vessel and the king's messenger
went to the house of John Endicott, the gover-
nor, and laid before him the king's mandate.
After reading it, they all went to the deputy
governor, and showed it to him ; the Friends
receiving for answer that the king's commands
should be obeyed. The matter soon became
rumoured through the town, to the great joy
of the moderate people ; and Friends assem-
bled with one accord to offer up praises and
thanksgivings to God, who had so wonderfully
delivered them from the power of the destroyer.
While thus devoutly engaged, one of their bi'e-
thren came in, who had been laying in irons
some time, under sentence of death, and had
just been discharged. This added greatly to
their joy, and caused them to lift up their
hearts and hands in praises to God, who only
is able to sustain and deliver those that put
their trust in him. Some time after this, Go-
vernor AVinthrop, of Massachusetts, being in
England, George Fox had conversation with
him respecting the execution of those Friends.
The governor assured George that " he had
no hand in putting Friends to death, or in any
way persecuting them, but was one of those
that protested against it."

In the year 1660, while George Fox was in
Lancaster jail, a book called the Battledore,
was published. It was prepared by two
Friends, at his suggestion, and revised, with
some additions, by himself, showing by exam-
ples from about thirty different languages,
ancient and modern, that thou and thee to one
person, and you to more than one, was the
proper form of expression. It was widely
circulated and had a good effect in modera-
ing the violence of persecution for adhei'ing
to the rules of grammar — few being so fierce
against Friends for the use of thou and thee,
as they had formerly been.

George Fox had now resided in London and
its vicinity nearly two years, facing the storm
of persecution, which fell heavily on that city,
and not only enduring hardness as a good sol-
dier of Jesus Christ, but animating his fellow-
professors to suffer cheerfully in support of the
same blessed cause. He took a short journey
into Essex, and had large meetings among the
people ; but returned very soon to London,
where there was a great field of service for
the Lord, the hearts of the people being open



to hear and receive the Gospel message. Per-
secution, however, continued ,* the irregulari-
ties of the Fifth-monarchy-men being still the
pretext for breaking up the meetings of Friends
and casting them into prison. I'his induced
George Fox and Richard Hubberthorn to draw
up a statement and present it to the king, show-
ing the hardships which the Society endured,
in support of its principles and meetings. It
is as follows : —

" TO THE KING.

" Friend, who art the chief ruler of these
dominions, here is a list of some of the suffer-
ings of the people of God, in scorn called
Quakers, that have suffered under the change-
able powers before thee, by whom there have
been imprisoned, and under whom there have
suffered for a good conscience sake, and for
bearing testimony to the truth, as it is in
Jesus, three thousand one hundred and seven-
ty-three persons ; and there yet lie in prison
in the name of the commonwealth, seventy-
three persons, that we know of And there
have died in prison, in the time of the com-
monwealth, and of Oliver and Richard, the
protectors, through cruel and hard imprison-
ments, upon nasty straw and in dungeons,
thirty two persons. There have been also
imprisoned in thy name, since thy arrival, by
such as thought to ingratiate themselves there-
by with thee, three thousand sixty and eight
persons. Besides this, our meetings are daily
broken up by men with clubs and arms, though
we meet peaceably, according to the practice
of God's people in the primitive times, our
friends are thrown into waters, and trod upon
till the very blood gushes out of them ; the
number of which abuses can hardly be uttered.
Now this we would have of thee, to set them
at liberty that lie in prison in the names of the
commonwealth and of the two protectors, and
them that lie in thy own name, for speaking
the truth, and for a good conscience sake,
who have not Ufted up an hand against thee
nor any man ; and that the meetings of our
friends, who meet peaceably together in the
fear of God to worship him, may not be bro-
ken up by rude people, with their clubs,
swords, and staves. One of the greatest
things that we have suffered for formerly,
was because we could not swear to the pro-
tectors and all the changeable governments ;
and now we are imprisoned because we cannot
take the oath of allegiance. Now, if yea be
yea, and nay nay, to thee and to all men upon
the earth, let us suffer as much for breaking
of that as others do for breaking an oath.
We have suffered these many years both in
lives and estates under these changeable gov-
ernments because we cannot swear, but obey
Christ's doctrine, who commands ' we should



MEMOIR OF GEORGE FOX.



55



not swear at all,' Matth. v., James v., and this
we seal with our lives and estates, with our
yea and nay, according to the doctrine of
Christ. Hearken to these things, and so con-
sider them in the wisdom of thy God, that by
it such actions may be stopped; for thou hast
the government and mayest do it. We desire
all that are in prison may be set at liberty, and
that for the time to come they may not be im-
prisoned for conscience and for the truth's
sake. If thou question the innocency of their
sufferings, let them and their accusers be
brought before thee, and we shall produce a
more particular and full account of their suf-
ferings, if required. G. F. & R. H."

It was not from persf^cution only that Friends
suffered. Among themselves persons arose,
who " giving heed to seducing spirits," fell
away from a good condition, and became a
cause of reproach and trouble to Friends. —
The instrument in this schism was John Per-
rot, who had been a minister in good esteem,
and in this capacity had gone to Rome, where
he suffered imprisonment. On his return he
seemed to be puffed up with a high conceit of
himself; and possessing good natural abilities,
he was ambitious to distinguish himself in the
Society. He pretended to have clearer views
on religious matters than George Fox and
others of his brethren, objected to the practice
of taking off the hat in time of prayer, with
which he refused to comply, and also suffered
his beard to grow.

Novelties, however absurd, are rarely with-
out admirers, and Perrot had his adherents.
The spirit of discord once stirred up was not
easily allayed, and some well-disposed Friends
became unsettled by it. As is mostly the case,
however, with apostates, Perrot having turned
from what he had once known to be right,
grew worse and worse, and went into many
things which he had formerly testified against.
This contributed not a little to convince those
who had for a time associated with him, that
he was a fallen man and verified that saying
of the apostle, " If I build again the things



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 12 of 105)