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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ings were embraced in one Quarterly Meeting,
which exercised a supervisory jurisdiction over
them, and rendered such advice and aid as
cases might require. Of the feelings which
led him to this service, he says, " Whereas
Friends had had only Quarterly Meetings be-
fore, now truth was spread and Friends become
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 other na-
tions ; and that I should write to those where
I came not, to do the same." Believing himself
thus called to establish these meetings in the
Society, he travelled through most parts of the
nation, opening to Friends the necessity for a
wholesome order and discipline in the church,
that all might be preserved in unity and har-
mony, consistent with their profession ; and in
nearly all places such meetings were accord-
ingly instituted. Monthly and Quarterly Meet-
ings being thus organized, the next step was
to unite them all in one general Yearly Meet-
ing, which was done in the year 1672, when
the Yearly Meeting first assembled in London,
and has been continued to the present pe-
riod. This meeting exercises a general care
and guardianship over all the others, which
regularly report their state to it, and receive
such counsel and rules for the government of
the meetings and members within their re-
spective limits, as may seem necessary.

It was many years however, before the Socie-
ty was thus organized, or Monthly Meetings es-
tablished in all the counties. George Fox had

to encounter much opposition and calumny
from some unfaithful members, who not liking
to submit to the salutary restraints which meet-
ings for discipline introduced, nor to be cir-
cumscribed within the limits which good order
prescribed, cried out against them as an arbi-
trary imposition ; and against him in particular
as one who assumed too much in the church,
and was lording over the heritage of God.
These succeeded for a time in spreading dis-
affection and discontent, and forming a sepa-
rate party who plead for greater liberty, and
for being left to the guidance of the Spirit
of Truth in themselves, without any church
government or control.

These dissatisfied persons carried their op-
position so far, that notwithstanding the brother-
ly admonition of Friends and affectionate en-
deavours to reclaim them, they ran into an
open schism and set up separate meetings. The
chief instruments in this work of discord were
John Wilkinson, John Story, William Rogers,
and Thomas Crisp, the two latter of whom
wrote against the Society. Their plea, as is
usually the case with schismatics, was oppres-
sion and imposition on the part of their brethren;
and although they first took up the pen profes-
sedly to vindicate their own principles and
conduct, yet the bitterness of their spirit soon
evinced itself, by endeavours to destroy the
Christian reputation of their quondam brethren,
upbraiding them with every inconsiderate or
imprudent act committed by any in profession
with the Society, publishing on the slightest
grounds, w'hatever report they thought would
throw a shade of doubt over its character, and
taking every opportunity of showing their ma-
levolence towards those with whom they had
once enjo)"ed fellowship and communion. This
schism was the source of much sorrow and
suffering to Friends, and it was some years be-
foi'e it was got rid of. After their separation,
jealousies and dissensions arose among them-
selves, and they soon decayed and fell into

The beneficial effects of the Discipline were
soon apparent, in preserving the members
faithful in the support of the principles and
testimonies of the Society, and in clearing it of
the reproach of such as walked disorderly.
George Fox was next concerned to write let-
ters to his brethren in Ireland, Scotland, Hol-
land, Barbadoes and the provinces of North
America, advising them to settle such meetings
among them.

Speaking of the happy results flowing from
the institution of the Discipline he says ; " Since
these meetings have been settled, many mouths
have been opened in thanksgivings and praise,
and many have blessed the Lord, that he sent
me forth in this service ; yea, with tears have



many praised him. For all coming to have a
concern and care for God's honour and glory,
that his name be not blasphemed, which they
profess ; and to see that all who profess the
truth, walk in the truth, in righteousness and
holiness, which become the house of God, and
that all order their conversation aright, that
they may see the salvation of God ; all having
this care upon them for God's glor}^, and being
exercised in his holy power and Spirit, in the
order of the heavenly life and Gospel of Jesus,
they may all see and know, possess and par-
take of the government of Christ, of the increase
of which there is to be no end. Thus the
Lord's everlasting renown and praise is set up
in ©very one's heart that is faithful ; so that we
can say the Gospel order established amongst us
is not of man, nor by man, but ofand by Jesus
Christ, in and through the Holy Ghost. This
order of the Gospel, which is from Christ the
heavenlv man, is above all the orders of men
in the fall, whether Jews, Gentiles, or aposta-
tized Christians, and will remain when they
are gone. For the power of God, which is the
everlasting Gospel, was before the devil was,
and will remain for ever. And as the ever-
lasting Gospel was preached in the apostles'
days to all nations, that all might come into
the order thereof, through the divine power,
which brings life and immortality to light, that
they who are heirs of it, might inherit the
power and authority of it ; so now, since all the
world hath worshipped the beast, but they whose
names are written in the book of life from the
foundation of the world, who worship God in
spirit and truth, as Clirist commanded, the
everlasting Gospel is to be preached again, as
John the divine foresaw it should be, to all na-
tions, kindreds, tongues, and people."

While engaged in his journey through Eng-
land setting up meetings for discipline, he felt
his mind drawn to London, whither he repaired
and found that some disorders had arisen for
want of duly observing the advices given on the
subject of marriage, of which he thus speaks,
viz : " After we had visited Friends in the city,
I was moved to exhort them to bring all their
marriages to the men's and women's meetings,
that they might lay them befoi'e the faithful ;
that care might be taken to prevent such disor-
dei's as had been committed by some. For
many had gone together in marriage contrary
to their relations' minds ; and some young,
raw people, that came among us, had mixed
with the world. Widows had married without
making provision for their children by their
former husbands, before their second marriage.
Yet I had given forth a paper concerning mar-
riages about the year 1653, when truth was
but little spread, advising Friends, who might
be concerned in that case, that they might

lay it before the faithful in time, before any
thing was concluded ; and afterwards publish
it in the end of a meeting, or in a market, as
they were moved thereto. And when all
things were found clear, being free from all
others, and their relations satisfied, they might
appoint a meeting on purpose for the taking
of each other ; in the presence of at least
twelve faithful witnesses. Yet these directions
not being observed, and truth being now more
spread over the nation, it was ordered by the
same power and Spirit of God, that marriages
should be laid before the men's Monthly and
Quarterly Meetings, or as the meetings were
then established ; that Friends might see that
the relations of those who proceeded to mar-
riage were satisfied ; that the parties were
clear from all others ; and that widows had
made provision for their first husband's chil-
dren, before they married again ; and what
else was needful to be inquired into ; that all
things might be kept clean and pure, and be
done in righteousness to the glory of God.
Afterwards it was ordered in the wisdom of
God, that if either of the parties intending
to marry, came out of another nation, county,
or Monthly Meeting, they should bi'ing a cer-
tificate from the Monthly Meeting to which
they belonged ; for the satisfaction of the
Monthly Meeting before which they came to
lay their intentions of marriage."

He spent considerable time in the city of
London, visiting the meetings of Friends and
attending to the affairs of the Society ; of which
a large portion of the burden and care devolved
on him. He also visited his old friend Esquire
Marsh, who had often showed much kindness
to him and his brethren. He was now very
civil and courteous, inviting George to dine
with him ; but though pressed to do so, he was
not free to comply. He had always manifest-
ed an unwillingness to bring himself under any
obligations to the rich, or great, or powerful of
this world, lest it might prove a snare to him,
or to mingle with them on terms of familiarity,
any further than he thought his religious duty
I'equired. Several persons of distinction were
at dinner with him when George Fox was in-
troduced, and the squire addressing one of
them who was a Papist observed, " Here is a
Quaker, whom you have not seen before." —
This introduced a conversation on several
points of doctrine : viz. —

Papist. — Do you own the christening of
children 1

G. F. — There is no Scripture for any such

Papist. — What ! not for christening chil-
dren ?

G. F. — Nay — the one baptism by the one
Spirit into the one body, we own : but to



thi'ow a little water into a child's face, and say
that is baptizing it, — there is no Scripture for

Papist. — Do you own the Catholic faith?

G. F. — Yes. But neither the pope nor the
Papists are in the catholic faith ; for the true
faith works by love and purifies the heart. If
they were in that faith which gives the victory,
by which they might have access to God, they
would not tell the people of a purgatory after
death. For the true, precious, divine faith, of
which Christ is the author, gives the victory
over the devil and sin, that separate man and
woman from God. And if the Papists were
in the true faith they would never use racks,
prisons and fines, to persecute and force others
to their religion. This was not the practice of
the apostles and primitive Christians who enjoy-
ed the true faith of Christ, but it was the prac-
tice of the faithless Jews and heathen. But
seeing thou art a leading man among the Pa-
pists, and hast been taught and bred up under
the pope, and seeing thou sayest there is no
salvation but in your church ; I desire to know
of thee what it is that doth bring salvation in
your church ?

Papist. — A good life.

G. F. — And nothing else ?

Papist. — Yes — good works.

G. F. — Is this that which brings salvation
in your church ; a good life and good works 1
Is this your doctrine and principle ?

Papist. — Yes.

G. F. — Then neither thou, nor the pope,
nor any of the Papists know what it is that
brings salvation.

Papist. — What brings salvation in your
church 1

G. F. — That which brought salvation to the
church in the apostles' days, the same brings
salvation to us, viz., the grace of God, which
the Scripture says brings salvation, and hath
appeared unto all men, which taught the saints
then and teaches us now. This grace teaches
to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to
live soberly, righteously and godly. So it is
not the good works, nor the good life that
brings salvation, but the grace.

Papist. — What 1 doth this grace that brings
salvation appear unto all men 1

G. F.—Yes.

Papist. — I deny that.

G. F. — All that deny that are sect-makers,
and not in the universal faith, grace and truth
which the apostles were in.

" Then he spoke to me about the mother
church. I told him, the several sects in Chris-
tendom had accused us, and said, we forsook
our mother church. The Papists charged us
with forsaking their church, saying, Rome was
the only mother church. The Episcopalians

taxed us with forsaking the old Protestant reli-
gion, alleging, theirs was the reformed mother
church. The Presbyterians and Independents
blamed us for leaving them, each of them pre-
tending theirs was the right reformed church.
But I said, if we could own any outward place
to be the mother church, we should own Jeru-
salem, where the Gospel was first preached by
Christ himself and the apostles ; where Christ
suffered, where the great conversion to Chris-
tianity by Peter was, where were the types,
figures, and shadows, which Christ ended, and
where Christ commanded his disciples to wait
until they were endued with power from on
high. If any outward place deserved to be
called the mother, that was the place where
the first great conversion to Christianity was.
But the apostle saith. Gal. iv. 25, 26, ' Jerusa-
lem which now is, is in bondage with her
children ; but Jerusalem, which is above, is free,
which is the mother of us all.' We can own
no other, neither outward Jerusalem, nor Rome,
nor any sect of people for our mother, but Je-
rusalem which is above ; which is free, the
mother of all that are born again, become true
believers in the light, and are grafted into
Christ, the heavenly vine. For all who are
born again of the immortal seed, by the word
of God which lives and abides for ever, feed
upon the milk of the word, the breast of life,
and grow by it in life ; and cannot acknow-
ledge any other to be their mother, but Jerusa-
lem which is above. ' Oh !' said Squire Marsh
to the Papist, ' you do not know this man. If
he would but come to church now and then, he
would be a brave man.'

" After some other discourse, I went aside
with justice Marsh to another room, to speak
with him concerning Friends ; for he was a jus-
tice of peace for Middlesex, and being a cour-
tier, the other justices put much of the manage-
ment of affairs upon him. He told me, he was
in a strait how to act between us and some
other dissenters. For, said he, you cannot
swear, and the Independents, Baptists, and
Fifth-monarchy-people say also they cannot
swear ; therefore, said he, how shall I distin-
guish betwixt you and them, seeing they and
you all say, it is for conscience sake that you
cannot swear? I answered, I will show thee
how to distinguish. They, or most of them
thou speakest of, can and do swear in some
cases, but we cannot swear in any case. If a
man should steal their cows and horses, and
thou shouldst ask them whether they would
swear they were theirs, many of them would
readily do it ; but if thou try our Friends, they
cannot swear for their own goods. Therefore,
when thou puttest the oath of allegiance to any
of them, ask them, whether they can swear in
any other case, as for their cow or horse?



Which, if they be really of us they cannot do,
though they can bear witness to the truth. I
gave him a relation of a trial in Berkshire,
which was thus : A thief stole two beasts from a
Friend of ours. The thief was taken and cast
into prison, and the Friend appeared against
him at the assizes. But somebody having in-
formed the judge, that the prosecutor was a
Quaker and could not swear, the judge, before
he heard the Friend, said, ' Is he a Quaker ?
And will he not swear? Then tender him the
oaths of allegiance and supremacy.' So he
cast the Friend into prison, and premunired
him, and set the thief at liberty. Justice
Marsh said, ' That judge was a wicked man.'
' But,' said I, ' If we could swear 'in any case,
we would take the oath of allegiance to the
king, who is to preserve the laws that are to
support every man in his estate. Whereas
others, that can swear in some cases to pre-
serve a part of their estates, if they be robbed,
will not take this oath to the king, who is to
preserve them in their whole estates and bodies
also. So that thou mayest easily distinguish
and put a difference betwixt us and those peo-

" Justice Marsh was afterwards very ser-
viceable to Friends in this and other cases ; for
he kept several, both Friends and others, from
being premunired : and when Friends were
brought before him, in time of persecution, he
set many of them at liberty. When he could
not avoid sending to prison, he sent some for
a few hours, or a night. At length he went to
the king, and told him, ' He had sent some of
us to prison contrary to his conscience, and he
could not do so any more.' Therefore he re-
moved his family from Limehouse, where he
lived, and took lodgings near James' Park. He
told the king, ' If he would be pleased to give
liberty of conscience, that would quiet and set-
tle all ; for then none could have any pretence
to be uneasy.' And indeed he was a very ser-
viceable man to truth and Friends in his day."

During this year George Fox visited a priest
who some years before had been very bitter
against him, declaring he would kill him if he
ever met him again, and that he would lose his
head if George was not knocked down within
a month ; yet now he had become very affec-
tionate, and expressed his gladness at seeing
him ; — his wife had joined the Society. Many
such instances he met with in the course
of his travels, where violent persecutors were
softened by his meekness and integrity, and the
patience with which he suffered for righteous-
ness sake, evincing the truth of that saying
of Holy Scripture, " When a man's ways
please the Lord he causeth even his enemies
to be at peace with him."

Having succeeded in settling the Meetings

for Discipline, his enlarged mind was engaged
on the subject of education ; and he recom-
mended the establishment of two schools, one
for boys at Waltham, and one for girls at
Shacklewell, " for instructing them in whatso-
ever things wez'e civil and useful in the Crea-
tion ;" thus embracing a wide range, and show-
ing that he held no narrow views of the be-
nefits of good instruction. These schools
were accordingly established and existed for
many years. He frequently visited them and
appeared deeply interested in their prosperity.

Leaving London he proceeded through Sur-
ry, Sussex, and into Yorkshire, having many
meetings by the way ; and although the con-
stables threatened to arrest him, yet through
the protecting care of the Lord he escaped
their hands. At York he attended the Quar-
terly Meeting, which was very large, many
having joined the Society by convincement ;
and so sensible were Friends of the benefits
resulting from the support of the Discipline,
that requests came up for the establishment
of several additional Monthly Meetings.

Coming into the neighbourhood of Scarbo-
rough where he was so long a prisoner, the
governor, Jordan Crosslands, sent to invite him
to his house, " hoping he would not be so un-
civil as not to call and see him and his wife."
George accordingly went and was very kindly
received. From thence he went into the neigh-
bourhood of his old persecutor Colonel Kirby,
who had threatened if he ever came near him
he would send him to prison again, and offered
forty pounds to any one who would arrest him.
George held a meeting not far from his house,
but the Colonel was seized with a fit of the
gout, which prevented him from walking, and
none of his neighbours seemed inclined to avail
themselves of the proffered reward, so that
George passed away unmolested, afler a very
large meeting "in which the Lord's power and
presence was eminently among them."

He went on through Staffordshire and Che-
shire, having many large and favored meetings,
and being drawn to visit his brethren in Ireland,
he came to Liverpool to take shipping. He was
accompanied in this engagement by Robert
Lodge, James Lancaster, Thomas Briggs and
John Stubbs ; and afler a short passage landed
at Dublin, where they attended the Week-day
Meeting " in which the life and power of the
Lord appeared greatly."

From thence he proceeded through the
island, visiting most of the principal towns,
as well as the settlements of Friends ; and al-
though envy and ill-will stirred up some to
persecute him, yet through the goodness of
the Shepherd of Israel, he escaped out of their
hands. " The Lord," says he, " disappointed
all their counsels, defeated their designs against



me, and by his good hand of providence pre-
served me out of all ttieir snares, and gave us
many sweet and blessed opportunities to visit
Friends and spread Truth through that nation.
Meetings were very large, Friends coming
to them far and near, and other people flock-
ing in. The powerful presence of the Lord
was preciously felt with and among us, where-
by many of the world were reached, convinced
and gathered to the Truth. Thus the Lord's
flock was increased, and Friends were greatly
refreshed and comforted in feeling the love of
God. O, the brokenness that was among
them, in the flowings of life ! so that in the
power and Spirit of the Lord, many broke out
in singing praises to the Lord, making melody
in their hearts."

While at James Hutchinson's, several per-
sons came to see him for the purpose of con-
versing with him on election and reprobation.
Of the mannerin which he treated the subject,
he gives the following account : —

" You say, that God hath ordained the
greatest part of men for hell, and that they
were ordained so before the world began ; for
which your proof is in Jude. You say, Esau
was reprobated, and the Egyptians, and the
stock of Ham. But Christ saith to his disci-
ples, ' Go, teach all nations ;' and, ' Go into
all nations, and preach the Gospel of life and
salvation.' If they were to go to all nations,
were they not to go to Ham's stock, and
Esau's stock? Did not Christ die for all?
Then for the stock of Ham, of Esau, and the
Egyptians. Doth not the Scripture say, ' God
would have all men to be saved?' Mark, ' All
men ;' then the stock of Esau, and of Ham
also. Doth not God say, ' Egypt my people ?'
and that he would have an altar in Egypt?
Isa. xix. Were there not many Christians
formerly in Egypt? And doth not history
say, that the bishop of Alexandria would for-
merly have been pope ? And had not God a
church in Babylon ? I confess, ' The word
came to Jacob, and the statutes to Israel ; the
like was not to other nations.' For the law
of God was given to Israel ; but the Gospel
was to be preached to all nations, and is to be
preached. The Gospel of peace and glad-
tidings to all nations. ' He that believes is
saved, but he that doth not believe is con-
demned already ;' so the condemnation comes
through unbelief. And whereas Jude speaks
of some that were of old ordained (or written
of before) to condemnation, he doth not say,
before the world began ; but ' written of old ;'
which may be referred to Moses's writings,
who wrote of those whom Jude mentions,
namely, Cain, Corah, Balaam, and the angels
that kept not their first estate. Such Chris-
tians as follow them in their way, and aposta-

VoL. I.— No. 2.

tize from the first state of Christianity, were
and are ordained for condemnation by the light
and truth, which they are gone from. And
though the apostle speaks of God's loving
Jacob and hating Esau, yet he tells the be-
lievers, ' We all were by nature children of
wrath, as well as others.' This includes the
stock of Jacob, of which the apostle himself
and all believing Jews were. Thus both Jews
and Gentiles were all concluded under sin,
and so under condemnation, that God might
have mercy upon all through Jesus Christ.
The election and choice stands in Christ : ' and
he that believes is saved, and he that believes
not is condemned already.' Jacob typifies the
second birth, which God loved ; and both Jews
and Gentiles must be born again, before they
can enter the kingdom of God. When you
are born again, ye will know election and re-
probation ; for the election stands in Christ,
the Seed, before the world began ; but the re-
probation lies in the evil seed since the world

In the passage home they encountered a
violent storm, from which the vessel was in
considerable danger ; but in the blessed as-
surance that the Lord's power was over both
sea and land, and that he could control the

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 16 of 105)