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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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among the covetous."

On landing in Maryland they found John
Burneyate, an eminent minister in the Society,
preparing to return to England. Having been
for some time engag-ed in visiting Friends and
others in America, he had appointed a general
meeting for those parts, intending to take his
leave. George Fox and his companions anived
just in time to attend this meeting, which was
very large and held four days — and after the
public service was over, thej'' continued to-
gether to transact the affairs of the church,
which gave George a good opportunity for ex-
plaining and enforcing the Discipline and good
order of the Society.

After this meeting the Friends separated to
their respective labours in the work of the
Gospel, George going over to the eastern
shore of Maryland where he had a large meet-
ing, to which by invitation came some of the
Indian chiefs, who heard the word willingly
and behaved with sobriety.

Next day, George and his companions com-



MEMOIR OF GEORGE FOX.



83



menced their journey toward New England.
Much of the country through which they had
to pass was an uninhabited wilderness, tra-
versed only by Indian hunters, and thickly set
with bogs and morasses. There were few
houses to stop at, and often after a hard day's
journey, they had to lodge in the woods, or
put up in Indian wigwams, and sometimes they
would see neither man nor house in some day's
ride. But through the protecting care and
providence of the Lord they travelled safely,
and reached Oyster bay on Long Island, in
time for the Half-year's Meeting held there.
Here he was instrumental in correcting some
abuses which had been introduced by the Ran-
ters, a wild fanatical people who were a great
trouble to Friends. Respecting these he re-
marks: "The Half-year's Meeting began next
day, which lasted four days. The first and
second days we had public meetings for wor-
ship, to which people of all sorts might and
did come. On third-day were the men's and
women's meetings, wherein the affairs of the
church were taken care of. Here we met with
some bad spirits, who were run out from Truth
into prejudice, contention, and opposition to the
order of Truth, and to Friends therein. These
had been very troublesome to Friends in their
meetings there and thereabouts formerly, and
it is likely would have been so now ; but I would
not suffer the service of our men's and women's
meetings to be interrupted and hindered by
their cavils. I let them know, ' if they had
any thing to object against the order of Truth
which we were in, we would give them a
meeting another day on purpose.' And indeed
I laboured the more, and travelled the harder
to get to this meeting, where it was expected
many of these contentious people would be ;
because I understood they had reflected much
upon me when I was far from them. The
men's and women's meetings being over, on
the fourth day we had a meeting with those
discontented people, to which as many of them
as would, did come, and as many Friends as
had a desire were present also ; and the Lord's
power broke forth gloriously, to the confound-
ing of the gainsayers. Then some that had
been chief in the mischievous work of con-
tention and opposition against the Truth, began
to fawn upon me, and cast the blame upon
others ; but the deceitful spirit was judged down
and condemned, and the glorious Truth of God
was exalted and set over all ; and they were
all brought down and bowed under. Which
was of great service to Truth and great satis-
faction and comfort to Friends : glory to the
Lord for ever !"

Having laboured much on Long Island in
the ministry of the Gospel, he proceeded east-
ward through Rhode Island, holding meetings



where there were settlements. The Yearly
Meeting for Friends of New England and other
colonies adjacent, held six days, four of which
were spent in general public meetings for wor-
ship, to which a great concourse of other peo-
ple came, the governor, deputy governor and
several justices being of the number. He re-
marks that he had " rarely observed a people,
in the state wherein they stood, to hear with
more attention, diligence and affection, than
generally they did during the four days, which
was also taken notice of by other Friends. In
the tvv'O meetings for the atlairs of the Society,
he communicated hdvice and instruction on
the proper order of the church, and several
meetings for the care of the poor and the pro-
motion of a consistent conduct amongst the
members were concluded to be established.
" When this meeting was ended, it was some-
what hard," he says, " for Friends to part, for
the glorious power of the Lord, which was
over all, and his blessed Truth and life
flowing amongst them, had so knit and united
them together, that they spent tv/o days in
taking leave one of another, and of the Friends
of the island ; and then being mightily filled
with the presence and power of the Lord, they
went away with joyful hearts to their seve-
ral habitations, in the colonies where they
lived."

Accompanied by the governor and many
others, he went to Providence where he held
a great meeting in a barn, and proceeded from
thence to Narraganset. Here also a large
company assembled at a justice's house, peo-
ple fi-om the country coming in who had never
heard of Friends. They were much affected
and manifested a strong desire after the Truth.
In one place he heard they talked of hiring
him for their minister ; not understanding the
principles of Friends. George concluded it
was time for him to be gone, for if their eye
was so much to him or any other person, they
would not come to the great teacher Christ
Jesus. " Hiring ministers," he remarks, " had
spoiled many, by hindering them from im-
proving their own hearts ; whereas our labour
is, to bring every one to their own teacher in
themselves."

Having cleared his mind of New England,
he returned to Shrewsbury in New Jersey,
though not without encountering many perils
by land and water, owing to the wilderness
state of the country. In crossing the rivers
they generally had to make use of a canoe for
themselves and baggage, and to swim the
horses by the side of it, Avhich was frequently
dangerous.

At Middletown bay near Shrewsbury, they
had a large and good meeting. Hiring Indian
guides they set out for the lower provinces, and



84



MEMOIR OF GEORGE FOX.



were five days in getting to New Castle in
Delaware, where the governor received and
entertained them kindly, and offered his house
for a meeting. This they accepted, and the
following being first-day they had a large
assembly. There had never been a meeting in
this town nor any where near ; but this, says
Geoi'ge, was " a very precious one, many
were tender and confessed to the Truth and
some received it — blessed be the Lord for
ever."

Leaving New Castle, they went through Del-
aware, holding meetings where there were
settlements, to a general meeting near Third
Haven Creek, on the Eastern Shore of Mary-
land. This was very large, it being computed
there were more than a thousand persons pre-
sent at it ; many of whom came in boats, so
that the creek was almost as thickly cover-
ed with them as the Thames, near London.
" It was a heavenly meeting, wherein the pre-
sence of the Lord was gloriously manifested.
Friends sweetly refreshed, the people general-
ly satisfied, and many convinced ; for the bless-
ed power of the Lord was over all — everlast-
ing praises to his holy name for ever."

Proceeding on their journey, they went
through Maryland and Virginia, into Carolina,
enduring great hardships from the extreme
badness of the ways ; there being no open
roads, but only paths through the wilderness,
and in many places deep bogs and swamps, so
that they were commonly wet up to the knees,
and lay out in the woods at night. Yet they
were mercifully preserved from any serious
injury from the exposure. There appeared to
be great openness among the people to receive
them, and they met with very little opposition.
At one place, a doctor contended against the
universality of the light of Christ, asserting
that the Indians had it not. George therefore
called an Indian to him, and asked him whe-
ther or not, when he spoke falsely or did any
wrong action, there was not something in him
which reproved him for it. To which he rea-
dily answered there was, and that it reproved
him and made him feel ashamed when he had
done or spoken wrong.

Soon after this he went to a settlement of
Indians, and by an interpreter preached the
Gospel to them ; " showing them that Christ
died for all men — for their sins as well as for
others, and had enlightened them [by his Holy
Spirit] as well as others." They received him
kindly.

Having travelled through most of the pro-
vinces where there were Friends, and preach-
ed the Gospel of salvation to the people, George
Fox felt himself at liberty to return to his own
country. Robert Widders and James Lancas-
ter had been his companions during most of



the journey ; in a review of which he remarks :
" Having travelled through most parts of that
country, and visited most of the plantations,
having alarmed people of all sorts where we
came, and proclaimed the day of God's salva-
tion amongst them, we found our spirits began
to be clear of those parts of the world, and to
draw towards Old England again. Yet we
were desirous and felt freedom from the Lord
to stay till the general meeting for the pro-
vince of Maryland was over, which drew
nigh, that we inight see Friends generally to-
gether before we departed. Wherefore spend-
ing our time in the interim in visiting Friends
and friendly people, in attending meetings
about the Cliffs and Patuxent, in writing an-
swers to some cavilling objections which ad-
versaries had raised and spread abroad to hin-
der people from receiving the truth ; we were
not idle, but laboured in the work of the Lord
until that general provincial meeting, which
began the 17th of the third month, and lasted
four days. The first of these days the men
and women had their meetings for business,
wherein the affairs of the church were taken
care of, and many things relating thereto were
opened to their edification and comfort. The
other three days were spent in public meet-
ings for the worship of God, at which divers
of considerable account in the government,
and many others were present ; who were
generally satisfied, and many of them reach-
ed ; for it was a wonderful glorious meeting,
and the mighty presence of the Lord was over
all ; blessed and praised be his holy name
for ever, who over all giveth dominion !"

After attending this general meeting, which
was in the spring of 1673, they embarked for
England the 21st of third month, and cast an-
chor in King's road, Bristol harbour, the 28th
of the month following. " We had in our
passage," he observes, " very high winds and
tempestuous weather, which made the sea ex-
ceeding rough ; the waves rising like moun-
tains, so that both master and sailors wonder-
ed, and said they never saw the like before.
But though the wind was strong, it set for the
most part with us, so that we sailed before it ;
and the great God, who commands the winds,
who is Lord of heaven, earth and the seas,
and whose wonders are seen in the deep,
steered our coui'se and preserved us from
many imminent dangers. The same good
hand of Providence which went with us and
carried us safely over, watched over us in our
return and brought us safely back again —
thanksgivings and praises be to his holy name
for ever."

His wife, with several of her children and
some friends from London, soon joined him at
Bristol ; and after having meetings there, he



MEMOIR OF GEORGE FOX.



85



proceeded through the midland counties to the
house of his wife's son-in-law, John Rouse,
at Kingston-upon-Thames. Here he made a
short stay, and then went to London, where
he was much engaged in attending meetings,
and in getting replies written and printed to
several abusive works which had recently
come out against the Society ; some of them
by the Socinians.

Going from London into Worcestershire,
he was arrested after a large meeting in the
parish of Tredington, by a warrant from Hen-
ry Parker, a justice of the peace, and with his
son-in-law, Thomas Lower, sent to Worcester
jail. When they had been some time there,
they thought it best to lay their case before
' the lord-lieutenant of the county and other
officers ; which they did by the following ad-
dress : —

" These are to inform you, the lord-lieuten-
ant (so called), the deputy-lieutenants, and the
justices of the county of Woi'cestershire, how
unchristianly and inhumanly we have been
dealt withal by Henry Parker, a justice (so
called), in our journey towards the north.
We coming to our friend John Halford's, the
17th of the tenth month, 1673, some friends
bringing us on the way, and others coming
to visit us there ; towards night came the
aforesaid justice, and a priest called Rowland
Hains, of Hunniton, in Warwickshire, and de-
manded our names and places of abode. And
though we were not in any meeting, but were
discoursing together when they came in, he
made a mittimus to send us to Worcester jail.
Now whereas he says in his mittimus, ' That
complaint had been made to him of several
by-past meetings of many hundreds at a time ;'
we know nothing of that, nor do we think that
concerns us. And whei-eas he says further,
' That no satisfactory account of our settle-
ment or place of habitation appeared unto
him ;' this he contradicts in his own mittimus,
mentioning therein the places of our abode
and habitation ; the account of which we sa-
tisfactorily and fully gave him. And one of
us (Thomas Lower) told him, that he was
going down with his mother-in-law (who is
George Fox's wife), and with his sister, to
fetch up his own wife and child out of the
north into his own country. And the other
of us (George Fox) told him, that he was
bringing forward his wife on her journey to-
wards the north, who had been at London, to
visit one of her daughters. And having re-
ceived a message from his mother, an ancient
woman in Leicestershire, that she earnestly
desired to see him before she died, he intend-
ed, as soon as he had brought his wife on her
journey as far as Causal, in Warwickshire, to
turn into Leicestershire, to visit his mother



and relations there, and then to have returned
to London. But by his interrupting us in our
journey, taking the husband from his wife, the
son from his mother and sister, and stopping
him from visiting his wife and child so remote,
we were forced to get strangers, or whom we
could, to help them on their journey, to our
great damage and their hindrance. We asked
the priest, ' whether this was his gospel, and
their way of entertaining strangers V And
we desired the justice to consider, whether
this was doing ' as he would be done by V
But he said, ' He had said it, and he would do
it.' And whereas he says, ' We refused to
give sureties ;' he asked only George Fox for
sureties ; who replied, ' He was an innocent
man, and knew no law he had broken ;' but
he did not ask Thomas Lower for any, as if
it had been crime and cause enough for his
commitment that he came out of Cornwall.
If we were at a meeting, as he says in his
mittimus, he might have proceeded otherwise,
than by sending us to jail, to answer the
breach of the common laws ; though he show-
ed us no breach of any, as may be seen in
the mittimus. We thought fit to lay before
you the substance of his proceedings against
us, hoping there will more moderation and
justice appear in you towards us, that we may
prosecute our intended journey.

" George Fox,

" Thomas Lower."

They however obtained no redress, and laid
until the 21st of the eleventh month following,
when they were brought before the justices at
the sessions and Thomas Lower discharged ;
but they tendered the oaths of allegiance and
supremacy to George Fox, and on his refusing
to take them, recommitted him to prison. His
friends soon after obtained a writ of habeas
corpus, in virtue of which he was taken up to
London, to be heard befoi'e the judges of the
king's bench ; and it was generally believed
he would have been discharged, but for the
malice of Justice Parker, who endeavoui'ed to
incense the judges against him ; and finally
procured an order remanding him to Worces-
ter assizes for trial. To Worcester he accord-
ingly went in the first month, 1674, without
any guard or attendant, and in a few days
after was called before the judges at the as-
sizes ; who were very friendly, except Parker.
His enmity appeared unabated, and he pre-
vailed on the others to turn him over to the
sessions, for trial. They would not, however,
send him to jail, but gave him the liberty of
the town and to lodge at a Friend's house until
the sessions.

During this time he had a dispute with a
priest, who undertook to prove that the Scrip-
tures are the only rule of life. Failing to ad-



86



MEMOIR OF GEORGE FOX.



duce proof of this, George had a suitable op-
portunity to open to the audience the proper
use and excellency of the Holy Scriptures,
and also to show that the Spirit of God, a
manifestation of which is given to every man
to profit withal ; that grace of God which
bringeth salvation, and hath appeared unto all
men, teaching to deny ungodliness and world-
ly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and
godly in this present world ; is that universal
rule and guide which God hath given to all
mankind, to govern and direct their lives.

" Another time," says he, " came a com-
mon-prayer priest, and some people with him.
He asked me, ' If I was grown up to perfec-
tion V I told him, ' What I was, I was by the
grace of God.' He replied, ' It was a modest
and civil answer.' Then he urged the words
of John, ' If we say that we have no sin, we
deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.'
He asked, ' What did I say to that V I said,
with the same apostle, ' If we say that we
have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his
word is not in us ;' who came to destroy sin,
and to take away sin. So there is a time for
people to see that they have sinned, and there
is a time for them to see that they have sin ;
and there is a time for them to confess their
sin, and to forsake it, and to know the blood
of Christ to cleanse from all sin.' Then the
priest was asked, ' Whether Adam was not
perfect before he fell ? and whether all God's
works were not perfect?' The priest said,
' There might be a perfection as Adam had, and
a falling from it.' But I told him, there is
a perfection in Christ above Adam, and beyond
falling ; and that it was the work of the min-
isters of Christ to present every man perfect
in Christ ; for the perfecting of whom they had
their gifts from Christ ; therefore they that de-
nied perfection, denied the work of the minis-
try, and the gifts which Christ gave for the
perfecting of the saints. The priest said,
' We must always be striving.' I answered,
it was a sad and comfortless sort of striving,
to strive with a belief that we should never
overcome. I told him also, that Paul who
cried out of the body of death, did also thank
God, who gave him the victory through our
Lord Jesus Christ. So there was a time of
crying out for want of victory, and a time of
praising God for the victory. And Paul said,
' There is no condemnation to them that are
in Christ Jesus.' The priest said. Job was
not perfect. I told him, God said Job was a
perfect man, and that he did shun evil ; and
the devil was forced to confess, that God had
set an hedge about him ; which was not an
outward hedge, but the invisible, heavenly
power. The priest said, ' Job said, He



chargeth his angels with folly, and the hea-
vens are not clean in his sight.' I told him,
that was his mistake, it was not Job said so,
but Eliphaz, who contended against Job.
' Well, but,' said the priest, ' what say you to
that Scripture, ' The justest man that is, sin-
neth seven times a day V Why truly, said
I, I say there is no such Scripture ; and with
that the priest's mouth was stopped."

At the sessions the grand jury found a bill
against him for not taking the oath, and he
was required to give bail for his appearance
to take his trial at the next court. But being
conscious of his own innocence, he declined
on principle entering into any such bonds,
and was consequently sent to prison. Such,
however, was the confidence some of the jus-
tices had in his word, that in a few hours he
was discharged, without any bond or bail,
simply on his promise to appear at the next
quarter sessions, if life and health permitted.
He accordingly attended, and though he show-
ed a number of gross ei'rors in the indictment,
sufficient to quash it ; yet the presiding judge
determined to force it to trial, and according-
ly got a jury to convict him of twice refusing
to take the oaths, the punishment of which
was the loss of liberty, of all his goods and
chattels, and to be imprisoned for life — which
they pronounced upon him, and sent him to
Worcester jail. Here he had a very severe
attack of illness, which continued a consider-
able time, and brought him so low that his life
v>^as despaired of. But the Lord showed him
that he had more service for him to perform
before he took him to himself Application
was made to the king in his behalf, who rea-
dily offered a pardon for him, and even urged
the acceptance of it. George, however, being
sensible that he had done no wrong, and think-
ing that the acceptance of a pardon would look
like giving countenance to the unjust proceed-
ings against him, refused to accept it — for,
says he, " I had rather have laid in prison all
my days than to come out in a way disho-
nourable to Truth."

On the 11th of the twelfth month he was
again brought, by habeas corpus, before the
judges of the King's bench, at London, of
whom Chief Justice Sir Matthew Hale was
one, and the indictment being examined, it was
found so full of errors that all the judges gave
their opinion that it was void. Some envious
persons present endeavoured to persuade the
court to tender the oaths to him again — saying
he was a dangerous man to be at liberty ; but
Chief Justice Hale said he had indeed heard
some such report, but he had heard many
more good reports of him ; and with the other
judges, ordered him to be discharged by pro-



MEMOIR OF GEORGE FOX.



87



clamation. Thus, after an unjust imprison-
ment of nearly fourteen months, he was ho-
nourably set at liberty.

Soon after this he went to Svvarthmore, the
residence of his wife, and his constitution be-
ing much impaired, both by the hardships he
had endured and his severe illness in Worces-
ter prison, it seemed necessary that he should
have some rest, for the recovery of his strength
and health. He accordingly remained there
until the first month, 1677, during which time
he was mostly engaged in writing epistles to
Friends and others in various parts of the
world ; also some tracts explanatory of the
religious principles of the Society, and in col-
lecting and arranging others which he had
before published.

Early in 1677 he set out for London, and
taking meetings in his way reached that city
in time for the Yearly Meeting. This Meet-
ing was large and favoured with the presence
of the Lord, in a sense of which " the af-
fairs of Truth were carried on in the unity
of the Spirit to the satisfaction and comfort of
Friends." In the fifth month following, accom-
panied by William Penn, Robert Barclay and
several other Friends, he embarked for Hol-
land, and visited most of the meetings of
Friends in that country, and assisted in es-
tablishing a Monthly and Quai'terly Meeting
among them, and also a Yearly Meeting to be
held at Amsterdam for Friends in Holland,
the Palatinate, Embden, Hambui'gh, Frede-
rickstadt, Dantzick and other places in Ger-
many. At Harlingen he had a public meeting,
which was attended by Socinians, Baptists, Lu-
therans, and other professors, amongst whom
was a physician and a priest. After he had
preached pretty largely, opening the happy
state that Adam and Eve wei-e in whilst they
kept God's commands, and abode in paradise ;
and the woe and misery that came upon them
when they departed from his teaching and
hearkened to the serpent's, transgressed God's
command and were driven out of paradise ;
and set forth the way whereby man and wo-
man might come into that happy state again ;



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 19 of 105)