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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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the priest, an ancient grave man, stood up just
as he concluded, and putting off his hat, said,
" I pray God to prosper and confirm that doc-
trine, for it is truth and I have nothing against
it." He was obliged to leave the meeting to
preach to his own congregation, but sent a
message of love to George Fox, and that he
had shortened his own meeting half an hour
in order that he might return and hear more
of that good doctrine — though when he arrived
the meeting was closed.

A Lutheran priest attended a meeting which
George Fox held at Haarlem, and at the close
said " He had heard nothins; but what was



accoi'ding to the word of God, and desired the
blessing of the Lord might rest upon Friends
and their assemblies." Others confessed to
the truth, saying, " they had never heard
things so plainly opened to their understand-
ings before." Two German priests of con-
siderable note also visited him for the purpose
of conferring with him on some points, when
he took the opportunity to declare the way of
truth, opening to them how they might come
to know God and Christ, and his law and Gos-
pel ; and showing them that they could never
know it by study nor philosophy, but through
the Spirit of God opening it to them. The
men were tender and went away well satisfied.

His service in those parts appears to have
been well received, not only by the members
of his own Society, but serious people of other
professions, and after a stay of about three
months, during most of which he was indus-
triously engaged in travelling, he returned to
London.

From this time until the Yearly Meeting in
the third month foUowincr, he was eno-aged in
visitmg Friends m various parts of the nation,
settling them in the good order and Discipline
which had been established ; and endeavouring
to convince some gainsay ers who were opposed
to it. These however proved contentious and
endeavoured to prejudice the minds of others
against him, as one who took too much upon
him, and was disposed to lord it over the So-
ciety. These unjust and unkind accusations
he bore with Christian meekness and forbear-
ance, and fearing lest some of the young con-
vinced and tender minds, might be deceived
by those disaffected members, he laboured
much both in word and by writing, to guard
his friends against that dissatisfied and conten-
tious spirit.

He had several very satisfactory meetings
at Bristol, many Friends being there from dif-
ferent parts of the kingdom. And though
some unruly persons treated him in an un-
christian manner, yet he was preserved in the
heavenly patience which can bear injuries
for Christ's sake. The more they laboured
to vilify him, the more the love of sincere
Friends abounded towards him. Great was
the unity that prevailed amongst these, and
some who had been betrayed by their adver-
saries, seeing their bitterness and envy, broke
off from them, for which they had cause to
bless the Lord.

He arrived in Londoir about two weeks prior
to the Yearly Meeting. Friends having laid
their sufferings before parliament, he joined
them in their endeavours to procure relief
from prosecutions under the law against popish
recusants. The hopes of redress, which
they entertained were disappointed by an



MEMOIR OF GEORGE FOX.



unexpected prorogation of parliament He re-
presents the Yearly Meeting as a heavenly
season, in which the glory and majesty of the
Lord, and love, wisdom and unity were sig-
nally manifest. Numerous testimonies were
borne against that ungodly spirit which sought
to make rents and divisions, but none spoke
in its defence.

He remained in and about London several
weeks, and some of those who had gone from
the simplicity of the Gospel into improper lib-
erty, labouring to draw others after them, op-
posed the order and Discipline which, in divine
wisdom, was instituted for the preservation of
the Society in consistency with its religious
profession. They made a great clamour
against its prescriptions, and by their plausible
insinuations beguiled the simple and furnished
pretexts to the loose, and slightly attached
members to throw off its restraints. For the
purpose of showing their errors and warning
others of the dangerous effects of that spirit,
he wrote the following: —

" All that deny prescriptions without distinc-
tion, may as well deny all the Scriptures, which
were given forth by the power and Spirit of
God. For do they not prescribe how men
should walk towards God and man, both in
the Old Testament and in the New? Yea,
from the very first promise of Christ in Gene-
sis, what people ought to believe and trust in ;
and all along, till ye come to the prophets ?
Did not the Lord prescribe to his people by
the fathers, and then by his prophets'? Did he
not prescribe to the people how they should
walk, though they turned against the prophets
in the old covenant for declaring or prescribing
to them the way they should walk to please
God, and keep in favour with him? In the days
of Christ, did he not prescribe and teach how
people should walk and believe? and after him,
did not the apostles prescribe unto people how
they might come to believe, and receive the
Gospel and the kingdom of God, directing
unto that which would give them the know-
ledge of God, and how they should walk in
the new covenant in the days of the Gospel,
and by what way they should come to the
holy city? And did not the apostles send forth
their decrees by faithful, chosen men, that had
hazarded their lives for Christ's sake, to the
churches, by which they were established ?

" You that deny prescriptions given forth
by the power and Spirit of God, do thereby
oppose the Spirit that gave them forth, in all
the holy men of God. Were there not some
all along in the days of Moses, in the days of
the prophets, in the days of Christ, and in the
days of his apostles, who did withstand that
which they gave forth from the Spirit of God?
And hath there not been the like since the



days of the apostles? How many have risen,
since Truth appeared, to oppose the order which
stands in the power and Spirit of God? These
are in the same spirit which hath opposed the
Spirit of God all along from the beginning.
See what names or titles the Spirit of God
gave that opposing spirit in the old covenant,
and also in the new ; which is the same [spirit]
now ; for after the Lord had given forth the old
covenant, there were some among themselves
that did oppose ; which were worse than public
enemies. And likewise in the days of the
new covenant, in the Gospel times, you may
see what sort opposed Christ and the apostles,
after they came to some sight of the Truth ;
and how they turned against Christ and his
apostles ? See what liberty they pleaded for
and ran into in the apostles' days, who could
not abide the cross, the yoke of Jesus.

" We see the same rough and high spirit
cries now for liberty, which the power and
Spirit of Christ cannot give, and cries, " Im-
position," yet is imposing; cries, " Liberty of
conscience," and yet is opposing liberty of
conscience ; cries against prescriptions, and
yet is prescribing both in words and writing.
So with the everlasting power and Spirit of
God this spirit is fathomed, its rise, beginning,
and end ; and it is judged. This spirit cries,
' We must not judge conscience, we must not
judge matters of faith, we must not judge
spirits, nor religions,' &c. Yes: they that are
in the pure spirit and power of God, which
the apostles were in, judge of conscience,
whether it be a seared conscience, or a tender
conscience; they judge of faith, whether it be
a dead one, or a living one ; they judge of re-
ligion, whether it be vain, or pure and unde-
filed. They judge of spirits, and try them,
whether they be of God, or no ; they judge of
hope, whether it be that of hypocrites, or the
true hope that purifies, even as God is pure ;
they judge of belief, whether it be that which
is born of God, and overcometh the world, or
that which runs into the spirit of the world,
which lusts to envy, and doth not overcome
the world. They judge of worships, whether
they be will-worships, and the worship of the
beast and dragon, or the worship of God in
spirit and in truth ; they judge of angels,
whether they be fallen, or those that keep their
habitation ; they judge the world, that grieves
and quenches the Spirit, hates the light, turns
the grace of God into wantonness, and resists
the Holy Ghost. They judge of the hearts,
ears and lips ; which are circumcised, and
which are uncircumcised. They judge of
ministers, apostles, and messengers, whether
they be of Satan or of Christ ; judge of dif-
ferences in outward things, in the church or
elsewhere; yea, the least member of the church



MEMOIR OF GEORGE FOX.



89



hath power to judge of such things, having the
true measure and true weight to weigh and
measure things withal, without respect to per-
sons.

" This judgment is given, and all these
things are done by the same power and spirit
the apostles were in. Such also can judge of
election and reprobation, and who keep their
habitation, and who do not; who are Jews, and
who are of the synagogue of satan; who are
in the doctrine of Christ, and who are in the
doctrines of devils ; who prescribe and declare
things from the power and spirit of God, to
preserve all in the power and spirit of God,
and who prescribe and declare things from a
loose spirit, to let all loose from under the yoke
of Christ, the power of God, into looseness
and liberty.

" These likewise can judge and discern who
bring people into the possession of the Gospel
of light and hfe, over death and darkness, and
into the truth where the devil cannot get in ;
and who bring them into the possession of
death and darkness, out of the glorious liberty
of the Gospel, and of Jesus Christ, his faith,
truth, and spirit. For there is no true liberty
but in that; and that liberty answers the spirit,
and the faith of Christ in every man and
woman, and is the yoke to the contrary in
every man and woman. That makes it rage,
and swell, and puff up ; for it is restless, un-
ruly, out of patience, and ready to curse God,
and th:;t which reigns over it, because it hath
not its will. It works with all subtlety and
evasion with its restless spirit, to get in and
defile the minds of the simple. But as they
receive the heavenly wisdom, by which all
things were made, which is above that spirit,
through this they will be preserved over it.
And Christ hath given judgment to his saints
in his church, though he be Judge of all. And
the saints, in the Spirit of God, have power to
judge of words and manners, of lives and con-
versations, growths and states, from a child
to a father in the truth ; and to whom they
are a savour of death, and to whom they are
a savour of hfe ; and who serve the Lord
Jesus Christ, and preach him, and who preach
themselves, and serve themselves ; and who
talk of the light, of faith, of the Gospel, of
hope, of grace, and preach such things ; yet
in their works and lives deny them all, and
deny God and Christ, and preach up liberty to
that which should be under the yoke and cross
of Christ, the power of God. So the saints, in
the power and spirit of Christ, can discern
and distinguish who serves God and Christ,
and who serves him not ; and can put a dis-
tinction between the profane and the holy.
But such as have lost their eye-salve, and their
sight is grown dim, lose this judgment, discern-

VoL. I.— No. 3.



ing, and distinction in the church of Christ ;
and such come to be spewed out of Christ's
mouth, except they repent : and if not, they
come to corrupt the earth, and burden it, that
it vomits them out of it. Therefore all are
exhorted to keep in the power and spirit of
Christ Jesus, in the word of life and the wisdom
of God in which they may keep their heavenly
understanding and discernment ; and so set the
heavenly spiritual judgment over that which
is for judgment, which dishonours God, and
leads into loose and false liberty ; out of the
unity which stands in the heavenly Spirit.
This brings to be conformable to the image of
the Son of God, and his Gospel, the power of
God, and his truth, in which all are of one mind
and come to drink into one Spirit, being bap-
tized by the one Spirit into one body, which
Christ is the head of; and keep one fellow-
ship in the Spirit, and unity in the Spirit,
which is the bond of peace, the Prince of
princes' peace. And those that cry so much
against judging, and are afraid of judgment,
whether they be apostles, professors, or pro-
fane, are the most judging with a censorious
false spirit and judgment; yet cannot bear
the true judgment of the spirit of God, nor
stand in his judgment. This hath been mani-
fest from the beginning, they having the false
measures and the false weights : for none
have the true measure and the true weight,
but those who keep in the light, power, and
spirit of Christ. There is a loose spirit that
cries for liberty, and against prescriptions, yet
is prescribing ways, both by words and wri-
tings. The same spirit cries against judging,
and would not be judged, yet is judging with
a wrong spirit. This is given forth in reproof
to that spirit. G. F.

" London, the 9th of the
4th month, 1678."

After the Yearly Meeting he visited Friends
in several of the counties of England, where
he had " very precious meetings and good
service among them and others, for there was
great openness ;" and in the seventh month,
1678, reached his residence at Swarthmore.
Whether at home or abroad, the care of the
churches and a righteous concern for the
honour and promotion of the cause of Christ
daily rested upon him; and he spared not him-
self but laboured diligentlj^, as the Lord called
him thereto. And although he was enfeebled
and his hmbs greatly swollen and stiffened by
exposure to wet and cold in noisome and
damp dungeons, so that it was painful to him
to ride or walk, yet the lively zeal and energy
of his mind abated not, nor his love for Friends.
In his retirement at Swarthmore, where he re-
mained nearly a year and a half, he wrote
12



90



MEMOIR OF GEORGE FOX.



many excellent epistles to his bretliren, some
to warn them against dangers which he saw
threatened the church, some to encourage them
to be bold and valiant in support of the testi-
monies of truth, and others to cheer and re-
fresh them under suffering.

" My dear Friends,

" Who are sufferers for the Lord Jesus'
sake, and for the testimony of his truth, the
Lord God Almighty with his power uphold
and support you in all your trials and suffer-
ings, and give you patience and content in his
will, that ye may stand vahant for Christ and
his truth upon the earth, over the persecuting,
destroying spirit, which makes to suffer for
Christ, in whom ye have both election and sal-
vation. For his elect's sake the Lord hath
done much from the foundation of the world,
as may be seen throughout the Scriptures of
truth. They that touch them touch the apple
of God's eye, they are so tender to him ; and
therefore it is good for his suffering children
to trust in the Lord, and to wait upon him ;
for they shall be as mount Sion, that cannot
be removed from Christ their rock and salva-
tion, the foundation of all the elect of God, of
the prophets and apostles, and of God's people
now and to the end : glory to the Lord and the
Lamb over all ! Remember my dear love to
all Friends, and do not think the time long ;
for all time is in the Father's hand and power.
Therefore keep the word of his patience, and
exercise that gift. The Lord strengthen you in
your sufferings, in his holy Spirit of faith.
Amen. G. F.

" Swarthmore, the 5th of the
12th month, 1678."

In an epistle which he addressed to the
Yearly Meeting that occurred during his stay
at Swarthmore, we find the following excellent
paragraphs : —

" My desire is, that all your lights may
shine as from a city set upon a hill, that can-
not be hid ; and that ye may be the salt of the
earth, to salt, season, and make it savoury to
God, and you all be seasoned with it. Then
all your sacrifices will be a sweet savour to
the Lord, and ye will be as the lilies and
roses, and garden of God, which gives a sweet
smell unto him. His garden is preserved by
his power, the hedge that keeps out all the
unruly and unsavoury, the destroyers and
hurters of the vine and God's tender blade,
which springs up from his seed of life, who
waters it with the heavenly water and word
of life every moment, that it may grow and
be fruitful ; that so he may have a pleasant
and fruitful garden. Here all are kept fresh
and green, being watered every moment with
the holy water of life from the Lord, the



fountain. My dear friends, my desire is, that
this heavenly Seed, that bruises the head of
the serpent both within and without, may
be your crown and life, and ye in him one
another's crown and joy, to the praise of
the Lord God over all, blessed for evermore.
This holy Seed will outlast and wear out all
that which the evil seed, since the fall of man,
hath brought forth and set up. As every one
hath received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk
in him in the humility which he teaches.
Shun the occasions of strife, vain janglings,
and disputings with men of corrupt minds,
who are destitute of the truth ; for the truth
is peaceable, the Gospel is a peaceable habita-
tion in the power of God ; his wisdom is
peaceable and gentle, and his kingdom stands
in peace. Oh ! his glory shines over all his
works ! In Christ Jesus ye will have peace,
which is not of the world; yea a peace that the
world cannot take away ; for the peace which
ye have from him is before the world was, and
will be when it is gone. This keeps all in
that which is weighty and substantial over the
chaff. Glory to the Lord God over all for
ever and ever ! Amen.

" And now, my dear friends, the Lord doth
require more of you than he doth of other
people, because he hath committed more to
you. He requires the fruits of his Spirit, of
the light, of the Gospel, of the grace, and of
the truth. Herein is he glorified, as Christ
said, in your bringing forth much fruit; fruits
of righteousness, holiness, godliness, virtue,
truth, and purity; so that ye may answer that
which is of God in all people. Be valiant for
his everlasting, glorious Gospel, keeping in
the unity, and in the holy Spirit, light, and
life, which is over death and darkness, and
was before death and darkness were. In this
Spirit we have the bond of peace, which can-
not be broken except ye go from the Spirit,
and then ye lose the unity and bond of peace,
which ye have from the Prince of peace.

" The world also expects more from Friends
than from other people ; because you profess
more. Therefoi'e you should be more just
than others in your words and dealings, more
righteous, holy and pure in your lives and con-
versations, so that your lives and conversa-
tions may preach. For the world's tongues
and mouths have preached long enough ; but
their lives and conversations have denied what
their tongues have professed and declared.

" And, dear Friends, strive to excel one
another in virtue, that ye may grow in love,
that excellent way which unites all to Christ
and God. Stand up for God's glory, and mind
that which concerns the Lord's honour, that
in no wise his power may be abused, nor his
name evil spoken of by any evil talkers or



MEMOIR OF GEORGE FOX.



91



walkers ; but that in all things God may be
honoured, and ye may glorify him in your
bodies, souls, and spirits, the little time ye have
to live. My love to you all in the holy Seed
of life, that reigns over all, and is the first and
last, in whom ye all have life and salvation,
and your election and peace with God, through
Jesus Christ, who destroys him that hath been
betwixt you and God ; so that nothing may be
betwixt you and the Lord but Christ Jesus.
Amen."

Setting out from home early in 1680, he
travelled through Westmoreland, Lancashire,
and Yorkshire. Coming to York at the time of
the assizes, he interested himself in behalf of
several Friends then suffering imprisonment
there. He also attended the Quarterly Meet-
ing which was a satisfactory and refreshing
season ; and proceeded by slow stages toward
London, which he reached in time for the
Yearly Meeting. Of this annual solemnity
he says, " a blessed opportunity the Lord gave
us together, wherein the ancient love was
sweetly felt, and the heavenly life flowed abun-
dantly over all." Soon after this he visited
two boarding schools for Friends' children,
the establishment of which he had promoted,
and now felt a lively interest in their right
support. One was at Shacklewell for the
education of girls, and the other for boys, kept
by Christopher Taylor at Edmonton.

Returning to London he spent most of the
winter there, assisting Friends in their en-
deavours to induce the parliament to grant some
relief to the hardships and grievances they
endure in various parts of the kingdom, and
labouring in other ways for the promotion
of the cause of righteousness in the earth.
Afl:er the Yearly Meeting he made a short
visit to some parts of Bucks, Berks, and
Oxon, again returning to London, which
city and its vicinity, became his principal
residence during the remainder of his life.

He was much engaged in correspondence
with Friends in different parts of the world,
, advising and assisting in cases of difficulty,
and exerting himself for the preservation and
prosperity of the infant Society. London being
a central situation, where Friends from all
parts resorted, and where a large portion of
the concerns of the church were transacted,
it seemed more convenient for him than the
secluded situation of Swarthmore. Suffering
still continuing severe upon Friends in this
city, he felt himself bound to attend their
meetings in order to encourage them both by
word and example, to stand fast in the testi-
mony to which God had called them ; and at
other times he went from house to house visit-
ing those who were despoiled of their goods
for truth's sake. At the instance of rapacious



informers, the magistrates proceeded against
Friends without giving them a hearing, by
which many suffered both unjustly and ille-
gally. In company with others he drew up
a remonstrance against their conduct, and
Friends appealing from their decisions, several
were acquitted and the informers defeated,
which moderated the justices and brought re-
lief to the sufferers.

An election for sheriffs coming on, George
Fox wrote the following short address to show
the candidates the unreasonableness of expect-
ing Friends to vote for those who would per-
secute them, and also took an opportunity to
bring some of their testimonies into view.

" Do any here in London, who stand to be
chosen sheriffs, own that Christ who was cru-
cified without the gates of Jerusalem, to be the
light of the world, that 'enlightens every man
that Cometh into the world,' who saith, ' Be-
lieve in the light, that ye may become children
of the light V Is any of 3'"ou against persecu-
ting people for their religion and worship of
God in spirit and truth, as Christ command-
eth ? For Christ said, ' I am not of this world
nor my kingdom :' therefore he doth not
uphold his spiritual worship and pure religion
with worldly and carnal weapons. Christ saith,
' Swear not at all ;' and his apostle James saith
the same : but will not you force us to swear,
and break Christ's and his apostle's commands,
in putting oaths to us1 Christ saith to his apos-
tles, ' Freely ye have received, freely give :'
Will not you force us to give tithes and main-
tenance to such teachers as we know God hath
not sent? Shall we be free to sei-ve and wor-
ship God, and keep his and his Son's com-
mands, if we give our voices freely for you?
for we are unwilling to give our voices for
such as will imprison and persecute us, and
spoil our goods."

" But whatever the candidates were, says
he, I observed heat and strife in the spirits of
the people that were to choose ; wherefore I
wrote a few lines to be spread amongst them,
directed,

" To the people who are choosing sheriffs in
London :

" People,

" All keep in the gentle and peaceable
wisdom of God, which is above that which is
earthly, sensual, and devilish ; and live in that
love of God that is not puffed up, nor is un-
seemly; which envieth not, but beareth and
endureth all things. In this love ye will seek
the good and peace of all men, and the hurt



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 20 of 105)