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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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of no man. Keep out of aH heats ; be not
hot-headed, but be cool and gentle, that your
Christian moderation may appear to all men ;
for the Lord is at hand, who beholds all men's



92



MEMOIR OF GEORGE FOX.



words, thoughts, and actions, and will reward
every one according to their work : what every
man soweth, that shall he reap."

Report being abroad that the meetings would
be disturbed on a certain first-day, he remained
in the city to be present, though he had felt an
inclination to go to a meeting in the country.
William Penn accompanied him to Grace-
church street, where they both preached the
Gospel. Several constables with their staves
came in and bade William Penn desist and
come down, and the soldiers stood with mus-
kets in the yard. George closed the meeting
with prayer. He and William Penn withdrew,
as was their custom, to a room near the meet-
ing place ; and lest the constables should sup-
pose they wished to shun them, a Friend went
down and informed them they might come up
if they had any business with them. They
had conversation with one of them, in which
he admitted a doubt of the propriety of ar-
resting them by his warrant on first-day, but
to release him from all difficulty. Friends offer-
ed to go to the alderman who granted the war-
rant, thereby proving their devotion to the
cause of Christ, and willingness to subject
themselves to suffering rather than the officer
should suffer ; but the affair terminated without
their appearing.

Under an affecting sense of the trials to
which his brethren were subjected, he ad-
dressed them an epistle of tender sympathy
and encouragement. He thus introduces it : —
"As sufferings continued very soi'e and heavy
upon Friends, not only in the city but in most
parts of the nation, I drew up a paper to be
presented to the king ; scitting forth our grievan-
ces, and desiring redress from him in those
particular cases which I understood were in
his power.

" But not having relief from him, it came
upon me to write an epistle to Friends, to en-
courage them in their sufferings, that they
might bear with patience the many exercises
brought upon them, both by magistrates and
false brethren and apostates ; whose wicked
books and filthy slanders grieved the upright-
hearted. This epistle I wrote at Dalston,
whither I went to visit an ancient Friend that
lay sick.

" Friends and brethren in Christ Jesus,
whom the Lord hath called and gathered unto
himself, in him abide ; for without him ye can
do nothing, and through him ye can do all
things. He is your strength and support in
all your trials, temptations, imprisonments,
and sufferings, who for Christ's sake are ac-
counted as sheep for the slaughter: In all these
things we are more than conquerors, through
Christ who hath loved us. Therefore, Friends,
though ye suffer by the outward powers, ye



know that the prophets, Christ, and the apos-
tles, suffered also by the unconverted.

" And though ye suffer by false brethren
and apostates for a time, and by their books
and tongues, whose tongues indeed are become
no slander, let them speak, write, or print what
they will : for the sober people even of the
world hardly regard it. It is well they have
manifested themselves to the world, that their
folly may proceed no farther ; though to the
utmost of their power they have showed their
wicked intent to stir up the magistrates, pro-
fessors, and profane against us, and to speak
evil of the way of truth. God's judgments
will overtake them, as sure as they have come
upon those that are gone before them. Let
their pi"etence be ever so high, mark their end ;
for they will fall like untimely figs, and wither
like the grass on the top of the house. Though
they may seem to flourish, and make a boast
and a noise for a time, yet the Seed is on the
head of such, which will grind them to pow-
der ; which Seed bruiseth the serpent's head.
Therefore in this Seed, Christ, who is your
sanctuary, rest, peace, and quiet habitation,
who is the First and the Last, and over all ;
in him walk ; for the Lord taketh pleasure in
his faithful people, that serve and worship him.
Therefore let the saints be joyful in glory ; and
the God of peace, the God of all grace, who
hath called us unto his eternal glory by Jesus
Christ, after that ye have suffered awhile,
make you perfect ; stablish, strengthen, and
settle you. Cast all your care upon the Lord,
for he careth for you.

" And dearly beloved, think it not strange
concerning the fiery trial which is to try you,
as though some strange thing had happened
to you ; for it is better, if the will of God be
so, that ye suffer for well-doing than for evil-
doing ; and rejoice, inasmuch as ye are made
partakers of Christ's sufferings. Wherefore
let them that suffer according to the will of
God, commit the keeping of their souls to him
in well-doing, as unto a faithful Creator : for
unto you it is given, in the behalf of Christ, not
only to believe on him, but also to suffer for
his sake. So it is given, or is a gift from
Christ to suffer for his name ; and therefore
rejoice, inasmuch as ye are made partakers of
Christ's sufferings. If ye be reproached or
evil spoken of for the name of Christ, happy
are ye ; for the spirit of glory and of God
resteth upon you : on their part he is evil
spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.

" If any suffer as Christians, let them not
be ashamed, but glorify God on this behalf.
Though now for a season ye are in suffer-
ings, trials, and temptations, that the trial of
your faith, being much more precious than
that of gold which perishes, though it be tried



MEMOIR OF GEORGE FOX.



93



with fire, may be found unto praise, honour,
and glory, who are kept by the power of God,
through faith, unto salvation. Therefore mind
your keeper, wherever ye are, or what suffer-
ings soever ye be in ; and mind the example
of the apostle, how he suffered trouble as an
evildoer, unto bonds. But the word of God
is not bound, which is everlasting and endures
forever ; and they who are in that which is
not everlasting and doth not endure forever,
cannot bind the Word. The apostle said, ' I
endure all things for the elect's sake ; that they
may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ
Jesus, with eternal glory ; mark, with eternal
glory. And if we suffer with Christ, we shall
reign with Christ, if we abide faithful.'

" Strive not about words to no profit, but
shun profane and vain babblings, for they will
increase unto more ungodliness ; that ye may
be vessels of honour, sanctified and meet for
Christ your master's use, and prepared unto
every good work. Follow after righteousness,
godliness, faith, love, patience, and meekness.
Fight the good fight of faith with your heavenly
weapons. This faith is victory, or gives vic-
tory, by which ye lay hold on eternal life, and
have access unto God, ' who will render to
every man according to his deeds : to them,
who by patient continuing in well-doing, seek
for glory, and honour, and immortality, eter-
nal life ; but unto them that are contentious,
and do not obey the truth, but obey un-
righteousness, indignation and wrath, tribula-
tion and anguish upon every soul of man that
doth evil ; but glory, honour, and peace to
every man that worketh good.' Christ said
to his disciples, ' If the world hate you, ye
know that it hated me before it hated you.
If ye were of the world, the world would love
its own : but because ye are not of the world,
but I have chosen you out of the world, there-
fore the world hateth you.' And, ' If they
have persecuted me, they will also persecute
you.' And John in his general epistle to the
church saith, ' Marvel not, my brethren, if the
world hate you. We know that we have
passed from death unto life, because we love
the brethren.' And Christ in his prayer to his
Father saith of his followers, ' As thou hast
sent me into the world, even so have I also
sent them into the world; and the glory which
thou gavest me I have given them, that they
may be one, even as we are one.' Therefore
all ye that know God and Jesus Christ, whom
to know is eternal life, and are partakers of his
glory, keep the testimony of Jesus, and be
valiant for his truth upon earth, that ye may
be all settled upon Christ, the rock and foun-
dation. G. F.

" Dalston, the 3d of the
8th month, 1682."



Friends were now often compelled to meet
out of doors as near as they could to the meet-
ing houses, yet sometimes they unexpectedly
obtained a quiet peaceable meeting within the
house. At one time he wished to visit a sick
Friend a mile or two out of town, but hearing
that the king had ordered the mayor to put
the laws in execution against dissenters, and
that the magistrates therefore intended to nail
up the doors of the meeting house, he was not
willing to go, but went to Grace-church street,
where notwithstanding the threats they had
a large and good meeting, and very quiet.

On another occasion when the doors were
guarded by constables with their staves, and
they refused him and others entrance, they as-
sembled in the yard. A Friend commenced
speaking whom they ordered to be silent, and
grew angry at his persisting. George laid his
hand on the constable and desired him to let
the Friend alone — when he ceased, George
stood up and said " they need not come against
them with swords and staves, for Friends were
a peaceable people and had nothing in their
hearts but good will to the king and magis-
trates, and to all people upon the earth. They
did not meet under pretence of religion to plot
and contrive against the government or to raise
insurrections, but to worship God in spirit and
in truth. They had Christ to be their bishop,
priest, and shepherd, to feed and oversee them,
and he ruled in their hearts, so they could all
sit in silence, minding their Teacher," to whom
he recommended them all. He was also moved
to pray, when the people, constables and sol-
diers put off their hats, and the power of the
Lord was felt to be over them. Such was the
influence of the solemnity, that on parting,
one of the constables took off his hat and
desired the Lord to bless them. Thus the
holy Spirit at times raised a testimony in the
hearts of their enemies, that Friends were
" true men" and sought the welfare of all.

At the Yearly Meeting of 1683, he was
much concerned lest Friends from the country
should be imprisoned at London while in at-
tendance there. But he says the Lord was
with us, his power preserved us and gave us
a sweet and blessed opportunity to wait upon
him, and be refreshed together in him, and to
perform those services for his truth and peo-
ple, for which we met. In consideration of
the great spoiling of goods to which Friends
were then subjected, he felt very desirous,
that while suffering for their religious princi-
ples, they might not do it at the expense of
justice to those who had credited dealers with
goods. He accordingly drew up the following
epistle, which shows the soundness of his views
as well as the tenderness of his scruples, and
presented it to the Yearly Meeting for con-



94



MEMOIR OF GEORGE FOX.



sideration, by which it was approved and sent
among Friends throughout the nation.

" Dear friends and brethren in the Lord
Jesus Christ.,

."Who is your only sanctuary in this day
of storm and persecution, spoiHng of goods
and imprisonments ! Let every one's eye be
unto him, who has all power in heaven and
earth given unto him ; so that none can touch
a hair of your head, nor you, nor any thing
ye have, except it be permitted or suffered
to try his people, whether their minds be with
the Lord, or in outward things. Dear friends,
take care that, all your offei'ings be free,
and of your own, that has cost you some
thing; so that ye may not offer of that which
is another man's, or that which ye are in-
trusted withal, and not your own, or fatherless
or widows' estates ; but all such things settle
and establish in their places.

" You may remember many years ago, in
a time of great persecution, divers Friends
who wei-e traders, shopkeepers, and others,
had the concerns of widows and fatherless,
and other people's estates in their hands. And
when a great suffering, and spoiling of goods
came upon Friends, especial care was taken
that all might offer up to the Lord in their
sufferings what was really their own, and
not other people's estates or goods which
they had in their hands ; and that they might
offer up that which they had bought and paid
for, or were able to pay for. Afterwards
several letters came out of the country to
the meeting at London, from Friends that
had goods of the shopkeepers at London upon
credit, which they had not paid for ; who
wrote to their creditors, entreating them to
take their goods again.

"And some Friends came to London them-
selves, and treated with their creditors, letting
them understand ' They lay liable to have all
they had taken from them ;' and told them,
they would not have any man to suffer by
them ; neither would they in suffering offer
up anv thing but what was really their own,
or what they were able to pay for. Upon
which several took their goods again. This
wrought a very good savour in the hearts of
many people, when they saw such a righteous,
just, and honest principle in Friends, that
would not make any suffer for their testimony;
but what they did suffer for the testimony of
Jesus should be really and truly their own.
In this they owed nothing to any but love.
So in this every man and woman stands free
in the offering, a free people, whether it be
spiritual or temporal which is their own; and
in that they wrong no man, neither inwardly
nor outwardly. Oman said unto David, 'I



give thee the threshing-floor, &c. and the
oxen for burnt-offerincrs : and the threshing;-
instruments for wood, and the wheat for the
meat-offering, I give it all.' But king David
said unto Oman, ' Nay, but I will verily buy
it for the full price ; for I will not take that
which is thine for the Lord, nor offer burnt-
offerings without cost,' 1 Chron. xxi. 22, &c.
You may see here, that David would not ac-
cept of another man's gift for an offering to
the Lord ; he would not offer up that which
cost him nothing, but what should be really
his own, Psal. cxii. 6. ' A good man will
guide his affairs with discretion.'

" Let this be read in your Monthly and
Quarterly men's and women's meet-
ings. G. F.

" London, the 2d of the
4th month, 1683."

It does not appear that he took any conside-
rable journey until the spring of 1684, when
he found his mind eng-ao-ed to visit his breth-
ren in Holland once more.

On the 31st of third month, in company
with several Friends, he set out for Harwich
to take shipping, and stopping a night at Col-
chester by the way, concluded to stay and be
at meeting there next day. Although no no-
tice of this conclusion was given, yet the in-
formation of his being there spread ; and a great
concourse of people assembled, so that Friends
feared the magistrates would have taken alarm
and broken up the meeting. But it proved
otherwise, and " a glorious meeting we had,"
says George ; " truly the Lord's power and
presence was beyond words, for I was weak
to go into a meeting, and my face by reason
of a cold was sore, but God manifested his
strength in us and with us ; and all was well —
the Lord have the glory for evermore for his
supporting power."

They had a fine run of sixteen" hours and
landed at the Briel in Holland, whence they
went to Rotterdam, and next day to Amster-
dam to attend the Yearly Meeting. This af-
forded him an opportunity of seeing Friends
of those countries generally collected, and
they had a refreshing time together in the love
of God.

He was visited by many pious inquiring
people, some of them men of note in the world;
who with some of their teachers came to
the public meetings he held, and were very
attentive to the truths of the Gospel which
he and his companions declared amongst them.

After spending several weeks travelling
among Friends in different parts of Holland,
he embarked for England on the 16th of fifth
month, and landing at Harwich, went to the
house of his son-in-law, William Mead, at



MEMOIR OF GEORGE FOX.



95



Gooses, near Hare street, to rest and recruit
his enfeebled body.

Although he ceased from much travelling
after this time, yet his enlarged and active
mind was diligently engaged in labours of
Christian love, writing epistles to his brethren,
attending to the sufferings of those who were
under persecution, visiting the sick and afflict-
ed, and ministering to their consolation, besides
being frequently engaged in public testimony
in religious meetings ; thus imitating the exam-
ple of his Divine Master, in going about and
doing good to the bodies and souls of men.

The nation being much agitated by political
contests and popular disaffection, George Fox
was concerned on account of his brethren lest
they should be drawn into the spirit of the
contending pai'ties, contrary to the known tes-
timony of the Society, and to the neglect of
their religious duties. He therefore wrote an
epistle "to caution all to keep out of the spirit
of the world in which is trouble, and to dwell
in the peaceable truth."

He was also much grieved at seeing the in-
crease of the pride of life, and gaiety in dress,
even among some who made profession with
Friends, on which account he wrote an address,
showing how unbecoming such things were in
a Christian, and contrary to the examples of
the holy men and women of old.

The closeness of the air of London and the
confinement incident to a city life, proved too
much for his enervated constitution, and after
a few weeks' stay, he was obliged to retreat to
some country place in the vicinity, mostly to
Gooses, or Kingston-upon-Thames.

Coming into London from the country, in
the fii'st month, 1686, he exerted himself in
advising and aiding Friends in prosecuting
their appeals at the sessions at Hicks' Hall,
and they generally succeeded. In conse-
quence of the frequent representation of their
hardships to the king, he gave ordei-s for
releasing all who were imprisoned for con-
science -sake, whom it was in his power to
discharge. The prison doors were opened and
hundreds of Friends, some of whom had been
long confined, were discharged. It was cause
of great joy to Friends, to see their faithful
brethren again at Uberty and attending the
Yearly Meeting, after their long seclusion
from society and their accustomed labour in
the Lord's work. — A precious refreshing meet-
ing it was.

On an occasion of so much rejoicing, George
Fox felt desirous not only that Friends might
ascribe the deliverance to the Lord, from
whom all our mercies come, but also might
show forth their gratitude by a holy life and
conversation. For the purpose of inciting



them to these duties he wrote the foUowinfj-
letter : —

" Friends,

" The Lord by his eternal power hath
disposed the heart of the king to open the pri-
son doors, by which about fifteen or sixteen
hundred are set at liberty, and hath given a
check to the informers, so that in many places
our meetings are pretty quiet. My desires are,
that both liberty and sufferings may be sancti-
fied tb his people ; that Friends may prize the
mercies of the Lord in all things and to him
be thankful, who stilleth the raging waves of
the sea, allayeth the storms and tempest, and
maketh a calm. Therefore it, is good to trust
in the Lord, and cast your care upon him who
careth for you. For when ye were in jails
and prisons, the Lord by his eternal power
upheld you, and sanctified them to you. Unto
some he made them as a sanctuary, and
tried his people, as in a furnace of afflic-
tion, both in prisons and spoiling of goods.
In all this the Lord was with his people, and
taught them to know that ' the earth is the
Lord's, and the fulness thereof;' and that he
was in all places, ' who crowneth the year
with his goodness.'

" Let all God's people be diligent, and care-
ful to keep the camp of God holy, pure and
clean, and to serve God and Christ, and one
another in the glorious, peaceable Gospel of
life and salvation. His glory shines over
God's camp, and his great Prophet, Bishop
and Shepherd is in the midst of them, exer-
cising his heavenly offices in them; so that
his people may rejoice in Christ Jesus, through
whom you have peace with God. For he
that destroyeth the devil and his works, and
bruises the serpent's head, is the heavenly
foundation and rock for all God's people
to build upon. He was the holy prophets'
and apostles' rock in days past, and is now
the rock of our age ; which rock, the founda-
tion of God, standeth sure. Upon this, the
' Lord God establish all his people.' Amen.

" G. F.

" London, the 25th of the
7th month, 1686."

Thus did this faithful minister of Christ and
overseer of the church, watch over the flock ;
warn, encourage, or reprove them as he saw
occasion, and endeavour in the ability which
the Holy Spirit confers, to build them up in
the most holy faith. In such works of love
he spent the residue of his days ; adding there-
to many acts of liberality botli of a public and
private nature ; having "through life cherished
that divine charity which is ever ready " to do
good and to communicate," and which teaches



96



MEMOIR OF GEORGE FOX.



that temporal treasures are but trusts commit-
ted to our care, to be used for the glory of God
and the good of his creatures.

One of his gifts of a public nature, being a
little remarkable in some particulars, as well
as in the manner of its conveyance, may serve
to illustrate the character of this great and
good man. It is as follows : viz. —

" George Fox's declared intention and motion
for his giving up Petty's house and land for
ever, for the service of the Lord and the
people called Quakers.

" The eternal God, who hath, in and by his
eternal powerful arm, preserved me through
all my troubles,' trials, temptations, and afflic-
tions ; persecutions, reproaches, and imprison-
ments ; and carried me over them all, hath
sanctified all these things to me, so that I can
say, all things work together for good to them
that love God, and are beloved of him.

" And the Lord God of the whole heaven
and earth, and all things therein, both natural
and spiritual, hath been, by his eternal power,
my preserver, and upholder, and keeper, and
hath taken care and provided for me, both for
temporals and spirituals, so that I never did
want; and have been content and thankful
with what the Lord provided for me.

" And now the Lord hath done much good
to me, and to his name, truth, and people,
to whom I have offered up my spirit, soul,
and body, which are the Lord's, made and
created for his glory. And also I do offer and
give up freely to the Lord for ever, and for
the service of his sons, daughters, and ser-
vants, called Quakers, the house and houses,
barn, kiln, stable, and all the land, with the
garden and orchard, being about three acres
of land, more or less ; with the commonings,
peats, turfings, moss, and whatsoever other
privileges that belong to it, called Swarthmore,
in the parish of Ulverstone.

" And also my ebony bedstead, with the
painted curtains, and the great elbow chair
that Robert Widders sent me ; and my great
sea case or cellaridge, with the bottles in it.
These I do give to stand in the house as heir-
looms, when the house is made use of for a
meeting place ; so that a Friend may have a
bed to lie on, and a chair to sit in, and a bot-
tle to hold a little water to drink.

" It being free land, and free from all tithe,
both great and small ; and all this I do freely
give up to the Lord, and for the Lord's ser-
vice and his people's, to make it a meeting
place of.

" It is all the land and house I have in Eng-
land, and it is given up to the Lord, for it is
for his service, and for his children's.

" George Fox."



" I do and have given up Petty's, which I
bought of the children Susannah Fell and Ra-
chel Fell, for seventy-two pounds ; for God's
people to meet in, when they do not meet at
Swarthmore Hall; and let the rest of the ground
and malt house maintain the meeting house,
which may be made fit, either the barn or the
house, as the Lord shall let Friends see which
is best ; and to slate it, and pave the way to
it, that so Friends may go dry to their meet-
ing. And let or set part of the house and
land to maintain itself for ever for the Lord's



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 21 of 105)