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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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G. F. — I am a Christian, and Christ com-
mands me not to swear ; so does the apostle
James ; and whether I should obey God or
man, do thou judge.

Judge. — I ask you again, whether you will
swear or no ?

G. F. — I am neither Turk, Jew, nor Hea-
then, but a Christian, and should show forth
Christianity. Dost thou not know that Chris-
tians in the primitive times, and also some of
the martyrs in queen Mary's days, refused
swearing, because Christ and the apostle had
forbidden it? You have had experience enough,
how many first swore for the king and then
against him. But as for me, I never took an
oath in my life. My allegiance does not lie
in swearing, but in truth and faithfulness ; for
I honour all men, much more the king. But
Christ, who is the great Prophet, the King of
kings, the Saviour and Judge of the whole
world, saith I must not swear. Now, whether
must I obey Christ or thee ? for it is tender-
ness of conscience, and in obedience to the
command of Christ, that I do not swear : and
we have the word of a king for tender con-
sciences. Dost thou own the king ?

Judge. — Yes — I do own the king.

G. F. — Why then, dost thou not observe
his declaration from Breda, and his promises
made since he came into England ; that no
man should be called in question for matters
of religion, so long as he lived peaceably? If
thou own the king, why dost thou call me in
question, and put me upon taking an oath,
which is a matter of religion; seeing neither
thou nor any one else can charge me with un-
peaceable living ?

Judge. — Sirrah ! will you swear ?

G. F. — I am none of thy Sirrahs — I am
a Christian ; and for thee, an old man, and a
judge, to sit there and give nicknames to pri-
soners, does not become either thy gray hairs
nor thy office.

Judge. — Well — I am a Christian too.

G. F. — Then do Christian works.

The judge again pressed the oath upon him,
and he declining to take it, was remanded to
prison, there to remain until the next assizes.

George Fox was not idle while waiting in
jail for the return of the assizes. A Baptist
preacher, also a prisoner, challenged Friends
to a dispute, and George obtaining liberty to
go to his apartment, engaged with him in the
controversy. The preacher affirmed, that
" some men never had the Spirit of God, and
that the true light, which enlighteneth every
one that cometh into the world, is natural ;"
and for proof instanced Balaam, affirming that
he had not the Spirit of God. George assert-
ed that Balaam and other wicked men had the



Spirit of God, or how could they quench, vex,
gi'ieve and resist the Holy Ghost, like the stiff"-
necked Jews ? To the second erroneous as-
sertion George answered, that the true light,
which enlighteneth every man that cometh
into the world, was Christ the Word, and that
He was divine and eternal, and not natural ;
and he might as well say the Word was natu-
ral, as that the life in the Word was so. And
it was expressly said, that men hated the light
because their deeds were evil, and would not
come to it because it reproved them — which
of course must be in them, as a reprover.

Some envious persons frequently reminding
Friends of a plot in the north, as though they
were implicated in it, he wrote the following
paper, to clear them and their Christian pro-
fession of such an unjust reflection : —

" A Testimony from the people of God, whom
the world calls Quakers, to all the magis-
trates and officers of what sort soever, from
the highest to the lowest.

" We are peaceable, and seek the peace,
good, and welfare of all, as in our lives and
peaceable carriage is manifested, and we de-
sire the eternal good of all, and their souls'
everlasting peace. We are become heirs of
the blessing before the curse was, and of the
power of God before the devil was, and before
the fall of man. We are heirs of the Gospel
of peace, which is the power of God ; we are
heirs of Christ, who have inherited him and
his everlasting kingdom, and do possess the
power of an endless life. Knowing this our
portion and inheritance, this is to take off" all
jealousies out of your minds, and out of the
minds of all concerning us, that all plots and
conspiracies, plotters and conspirators against
the king, and all aiders or assisters thereunto
we always did and do utterly deny to be of us,
or to be of the fellowship of the Gospel, of
Christ's kingdom, or his servants. For Christ
said, ' His kingdom was not of this world, if
it were, his servants would fight.' Therefore
he bid Peter, ' put up his sword ; for,' said he,
' he that taketh the sword shall perish by the
sword.' Here is the faith and patience of the
saints, to bear and suffer all things, knowing
vengeance is the Lord's, and he will repay it
to them that hurt his people and wrong the in-
nocent ; therefore cannot we avenge but suffer
for his name's sake. We know that the Lord
will judge the world in righteousness accord-
ing to their deeds, and that, when every one
shall give an account to him of the ' deeds
done in the body,' then will the Lord give
every man according to his works, whether
they be good or evil. Christ saith, he came
not to ' destroy men's lives ;' and when his
disciples would have had ' fire to come down



MEMOIR OF GEORGE FOX.



61



from heaven,' to have consumed those that did
not receive him, he told them, ' They knew
not what spirit they wei-e of,' they would have
men's lives destroyed ; therefore he rebuked
them, and told them, ' that he came not to de-
stroy men's lives, but to save them.' We are
of Christ's mind, who is the great prophet,
whom all ought to hear in all things, who com-
mandeth his, ' If they strike thee on one cheek
turn the other, and render to no man evil for
evil.' This doctrine of his we have learned,
and not only confess him in words, but follow
his doctrine ; and therefore we suffer all man-
ner of reproaches, scandals, slanders, spoiling
of goods, buffetings, whippings, stripes, and
imprisonments for these many years, and can
say, ' The Lord forgive them that have thus
served us, and lay not these things to their
charge !' We know the Jews' outward sword,
by which they cut down the heathen outward-
ly, was a type of the inward sword of the
Spirit, which cuts down the inward heathen,
the raging nature in people. The blood of
bulls, lambs, rams, and other offerings, and
that priesthood which offered them, together
with other things in the law, were types of
Christ, the one offering, and of his blood, who
is the everlasting priest and covenant, our life,
and way to God, the great prophet and shep-
herd, the head of his church, and the great
bishop of our souls, whom we witness come ;
he doth oversee and keep his flock. For in
Adam, in the fall, we know the striving, quar-
relling, unpeaceable spirits are at enmity one
with another, and not in peace ; but in Christ
Jesus, the second Adam, that never fell, is
peace, rest, and life. The doctrine of Christ,
who never sinned, is to ' love one another,'
and those who are in this doctrine hurt no
man ; in which we are, in Christ, who is our
life. Therefore it is well for you to distinguish
betwixt the precious and the vile, between them
that fear God and serve him and them that do
not, and to put a difference between the inno-
cent and the guilty, between him that is holy
and pure and the ungodly and profane ; for
they that do not so, bring troubles, burdens,
and sorrows upon themselves. This we write
in love to your souls, that ye may consider
these things ; for those that hate enemies, and
one another, we cannot say are of God, nor
in Christ's doctrine, but are opposers of it.
And such as wrestle with flesh and blood, with
carnal weapons, are gone into the flesh out of
the Spirit. They are not in our fellowship in
the Spirit, in which is the bond of peace, nei-
ther are they of us, nor have we unity with
them in their fleshly state, and with their car-
nal weapons. For our unity and fellowship
stands in the Gospel, which is the power of
God, before the devil was, the liar, the mur-



derer, the man-slayer, and the envious. —
Christ's mind and his doctrine being to save
men's lives, we who are of Christ's mind are
out of and above these things. Our desire is,
that in the fear of the Lord ye may live, that
therein ye may receive God's wisdom, by
which all things were created, that by it all
may be ordered to his glory.

" This is from them that love all your
souls, and seek your eternal good."

As a warning to his friends against the spi-
rit of dissension which actuated John Perrot
and his company, he published the following :

" Dear Friends,

" Dwell in the love of God, and in his
righteousness, that will preserve you above all
unclean and changeable spirits, that dwell not
in the truth but in quarrels. Avoid such, and
keep your habitations in the truth. Dwell in
the truth and in the word of God, by which
ye are reconciled to him. Keep your meet-
ings in the name of Jesus Christ, who never
fell ; then you will see over all the gatherings
of Adam's sons and daughters, you being met
in the life over them all, in which is your uni-
ty, peace and fellowship with God, and one
with another, wherein ye may enjoy God's
presence among you. So remember me to all
Friends in the everlasting Seed of God. All
that are got into fellowship in outward things,
their fellowship will corrupt, and wither away.
Therefore live in the Gospel, the power of God,
which was before the devil. This fellowship
in the Gospel, is a mystery to all the fellow-
ships in the world. So look over all outward
sufferings, and eye the Lord and the Lamb,
who is the First and the Last, the Amen ; in
whom farewell. G. F."

In the sixth month the assizes were held
again, when he was brought before Judge Tur-
ner, a jury empannelled, and the justices sworn
as witnesses that he refused the oath at the last
session. The following dialogue then took place:

Judge. — Did you not refuse the oath at the
last session ?

G. F. — I never took an oath in my life ;
and Christ, the Saviour and Judge of the world,
said, " Swear not at all."

The judge seemed not disposed to notice this
answer, but again I'epeated his former question.

G. F. — The words that I then spoke to
them were, that if they could prove, either
judge, justices, priest or teacher, that after
Christ and the Apostle James had forbidden
swearing, they commanded that Christians
should swear, I would swear.

Judge. — I am not now to dispute whether
it is lawful to swear, but to inquire whether
you refused to take the oath.

G. F. — Those things mentioned in the oath,



63



MEMOIR OF GEORGE FOX.



as plotting against the king, and owning the
pope, or any other foreign power, I utterly
deny.

Judge. — You say well in that — but did you
deny to take the oath ? What say you ?

G. F. — What wouldst thou have me to say,
for I have told thee befoi'e what I did say ?

Judge. — Would you have those men to
swear that you took the oath?

G. F. — Wouldst thou have them to swear
that I refused the oath 1

At this the court burst into a laugh — and
George being grieved to see such serious mat-
ters treated with levity, asked the judge, " Is
this coux't a play-house ? Where is gravity
and sobriety ? for this behaviour doth not be-
come you."

The indictment being read, George stated
that there were many errors in it, which he
wished to show. The judge said he would
afterward hear whatever he might have to say
why judgment should not be pronounced upon
him. George then addressed the jury, telling
them they could not bring him in guilty upon
that indictment, for it was wrongly laid, and
had many gross errors in it. The judge told
him he must not speak to the jury — he would
do that himself; and accordingly, he instruct-
ed them to bring in a verdict of guilty against
the prisoner. On the following morning he
was called up to hear his sentence ; when the
judge asked him what he had to say why sen-
tence should not be pronounced.

G. F. — I have much to say — have but pa-
tience to hear me. Is the oath to be tendered
to the king's subjects, or the subjects of foreign
princes ?

Judge. — To the subjects of this realm.

G. F. — Look into the indictment, and you
may see that you have left out the word sub-
ject. So, not having named me as a subject,
in the indictment, you cannot premunire me
for not taking an oath.

Judge. — It is an error.

G. F. — I have something else to stop judg-
ment. Look what day the indictment says
the oath was tendered to me at the sessions.

Court. — It was the 11th day of January.

G. F. — What day of the week was the ses-
sions held on ?

Court. — On a Tuesday.

G. F. — Then look at your almanacs, and
see whether there was any sessions held at
Lancaster on the 11th day of January, so
called.

They accordingly looked, and found that
the 11th day, was the day called Monday, and
that the sessions was on the day called Tues-
day, which was the 12th day of that month.

G. F. — Now, ye have indicted me for re-
fusing the oath in the quarter sessions held at



Lancaster on the 11th day of January last,
and the justices have sworn that they tendered
me the oath in open sessions here that day,
and the jury upon their oaths have found me
guilty thereupon ; and yet you see there was
no sessions held in Lancaster that day.

The judge, anxious to cover the matter, or
find some excuse for so inexcusable a blunder,
asked, " Did not the sessions begin on the 11th
day ?" To which it was answered, " No —
the sessions held but one day, and that was
the 12th."

Judge. — This is a great mistake, and an
error.

Justices. — [In a passion, and stamping.] —
Who hath done this? Somebody hath done
this on purpose.

G. F. — Are not the justices who have sworn
to this indictment, forsworn men in the face of
the country ? But this is not all : I have more
yet to offer why sentence should not be given
against me. In what year of the king was
the last assize holden here, in the month call-
ed March?

Judge. — The sixteenth year of the king.

G. F. — But the indictment says it was the
fifteenth.

This also was acknowledged to be an im-
poi'tant error, and the court appeared to be
vexed at the exposure thus made of their ir-
regular proceedings. George proceeded to
show other similar defects in the instrument
on which he was prosecuted, until the judge
desired him to stop and say no more, for he
had enough. To which George Fox replied,
" If thou hast enough, I desire nothing but
law and justice at thy hands : I do not look
for mercy."

Judge. — You must have justice, and you
shall have law.

G. F. — Am I at liberty then, and free from
all that hath been done against me in this
matter ?

Judge. — Yes : you are free from all that
has been done against you. But, [standing
up in a rage, he added,] I can put the oath to
any man here, and I will tender you the oath
again.

G. F. — Thou hadst examples enough yes-
terday, both of swearing and false swearing,
both in justices and jury.

But determined that he should not escape,
he again tendered the oath to him ; and not-
withstanding the unfairness of such a procedure
was clearly laid before him, and the hardship
of the prisoner's case, who had been so long
in jail, without any cause whatever, yet he
persisted in his unrighteous course. He or- '
dered the clerk of the court to give him the
book. George took it in his hand, looked into
it, and with great composure said, " I see it is



MEMOIR OF GEORGE FOX.



63



a Bible, and I am glad of it." The oath was
then read, and the judge asked him whether
he would take it or not. To which George
answered, " You have given me a book here
to kiss and to swear on ; and this book says,
' Kiss the Son ;' and the Son says in this book,
' Swear not at all /' and so says the Apostle
James. I say as the book says, yet ye impri-
son me. How chance do ye not imprison the
book for saying so 1 How happens it that the
book is at liberty among you, which bids me
not to swear, and yet ye imprison me for doing
as the book bids me V

This short but conclusive argument put the
judge somewhat out of temper, and he replied,
" Nay, but we will imprison George Fox."

He reminded them of the oaths taken by the
justices to an indictment full of errors, and of
his offering if any of them could convince
him that Christ or his apostles had altered
the command against swearing, they should
see that he would swear. He told the jury it
was for Christ's sake that he could not swear ;
and therefore warned them not to act contrary
to the witness for God in their consciences,
for before his judgment-seat they must all be
brought. " As for plots, and persecution for
religion, and popery, I deny them in my heart;
for I am a Christian, and shall show forth
Christianity amongst you this day. ]t is for
Christ's doctrine I stand."

The jury found the indictment against him,
and the judge, calling him to the bar in the
afternoon, asked him what he had to say to it.
Greorge desired he might have a copy of it,
and time given until the next assizes, to ex-
amine it. After some discourse, they com-
mitted him to prison until the next assize ; and
Colonel Kirby gave orders to the jailer, to
" Keep him close and suffer none to come to
him, for he was not fit to be discoursed with
by men." The jailer accordingly put him into
an apartment in the tower, where the smoke
and damp from the rooms of the other prison-
ers came up so thick that it stood like dew
upon the walls, and sometimes a lighted can-
dle could scai'cely be seen. At times he was
almost suffocated ; and the under-jailer was so
afraid of breathing the smoke, that George
could hardly persuade him to come and unlock
one of the upper doors, to ventilate the room.
" Beside," says he, " it rained upon my bed,
and many times when I went to stop out the
rain, in the cold winter season, my shirt was
soaked with the rain that came in upon me
while I was labouring to stop it out. The place
being high and open to the wind, sometimes as
fast as I stopped it, the wind blew it out again.
In this manner did I lay all that long, cold
winter, till the next assizes ; in which time I
was so starved with cold and rain, that my



body was greatly swelled and my limbs be-
numbed." It would seem as though they
wished to destroy him.

At the assize held the 16th of the month
called March, George Fox was again brought
before the court, Judge Twisden being on the
bench. While he was showing the errors in
this second indictment, the judge called to the
jailer " Take him away — take him away,"
which was accordingly done. After he was
gone, the jury brought in a verdict of guilty
and the court recorded him as a premunired
person, though he was not called to hear the
verdict, nor was sentence pronounced, which
was contrary to law. There is no doubt the
court were afraid to give him an opportunity
of showdng why sentence should not be pro-
nounced, lest his acute discrimination should
discover some flaw in the indictment, and sub-
ject them to another mortifying exposure.

George Fox was now laid by in prison and
from the bitterness of his persecutors there
seemed little probability that he would soon
be released. Speaking of his confinement he
says, " By reason of my long and close im-
prisonment in so bad a place, I was become
very weak of body, but the Lord's power was
over all, supported me through all, and enabled
me to do service for him, his truth and people ;
as far as the place would admit." The service
which is here spoken of consisted in writing
answers to several books, and publishing the
views of the Society on the subject of tithes.

The justices were so incensed at the manner
in which George Fox had exposed them at the
sessions, that they determined if possible to
get him removed from Lancaster. Colonel
Kirby often threatened that " he should be
sent far enough, and beyond sea," and in
about six weeks after the assizes, they got an
order from the king and council for his re-
moval, which they forthwith proceeded to ex-
ecute, but without letting him know where
they intended carrying him. He was so weak-
ened by the cruel usage he received as to be
scarcely able to walk or stand ; and they
offered him wine to drink, which he refused.
George remonstrated earnestly against their
taking him away, because he had been ille-
gally treated at the sessions ; that no sentence
of premunire having been pronounced on him
that he kncAv of, he was the sheriff's prisoner
and not the king's, and therefore could not be
removed by the king's order. But remon-
strance was in vain — they placed him on
horseback and though so stiff and feeble as
scarcely to be able to sit there ; yet one of the
company had the ci'uelty to lash the horse
with his whip to make him skip and leap and
then would tauntingly look him in the face
and say "How do you do Mr. Fox," to which



64



MEMOIR OF GEORGE FOX.



George meekly replied that it was not civil in
him to do so. They conveyed him through
Bentham, Giggleswick, York, and Malton to
Scarborough castle, which was to be the place
of his imprisonment.

Continuing very weak and subject to fre-
quent turns of fainting, they sometimes al-
lowed him to walk out under care of a sentry,
after he first came thei-e ; but this kindness
was soon exchanged for a course of great se-
verity. They thrust him into an open room
where the rain came in and the chimney
smoked exceedingly. The governor. Sir Jor-
dan Crosslands coming to see him, he represen-
ted the cruelty of his case to him, but could
obtain no improvement of it. After spending
above fifty shillings of his money in excluding
the rain and smoke, his persecutors finding
the room was now tolerable, removed him
from it to another far worse, open to the sea,
and in which there was neither chimney nor
fire hearth. The water drove in and run over
his bed and on the floor, so as to make it ne-
cessary to bail it up, and when his clothes
were wet he was not allowed fire to dry them.
These hardships further impaired his health,
his body became benumbed with cold, and his
limbs swelled far beyond their natural size.
In this suffering situation they refused to allow
his friends to come to him, or to bring him
suitable food, so that he was obliged to hire a
person to supply him, and it sometimes hap-
pened that the soldiers would take it away
from her, as she was fetching it. Although
they thus excluded his friends, yet they fre-
quently brought other persons to gaze at, or
to contend with him; and many disputes he
had with such respecting his religious opinions.
Some of these interviews he thus notices: viz.
"Another time came Dr. Witty, who was
esteemed a great doctor in physic, with lord
Falconbridge, the governor of Tinmouth cas-
tle, and several knights. I being called to
them. Witty undertook to discourse with me,
and asked me, ' What I was in prison for V
I told him, ' Because I would not disobey the
command of Christ, and swear.' He said, ' I
ought to swear my allegiance to the king.'
He being a great Presbyterian, I asked him,
' Whether he had not sworn against the king
and house of lords, and taken the Scotch
covenant? And had he not since sworn to the
king? What then was his swearing good for?
But my allegiance,' I told him, ' did not con-
sist in swearing, but in truth and faithfulness.'
After some further discourse, I was had away
to my prison again; and afterwards Dr. Witty
boasted in the town amongst his patients, that
he had conquered me. When I heard of it,
I told the governor, ' It was a small boast in
him to say, He had conquered a bondman.'



I desired he would bid him come to me again
when he came to the castle. He came again
awhile after, with about sixteen or seventeen
great persons, and then he ran himself worse
aground than before. For he affirmed before
them all, ' That Christ had not enlightened
every man that cometh into the world ;' and
' that the grace of God, that brought salvation,
had not appeared unto all men, and that Christ
had not died for all men.' I asked him, what
sort of men those were which Christ had not
enlightened? and whom his grace had not ap-
peared to? and whom he had not died for?
He said, ' Christ did not die for adulterers,
and idolaters, and wicked men.' I asked him,
' Whether adulterers and wicked men were
not sinnei's?' He said, 'Yes.' 'Did not Christ
die for sinners?' said I. 'Did he not come to



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 14 of 105)