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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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he was carried up to Cromwell, the justice, on
examination, said " He believed they were not
the men that had broken up the house, but he
was sorry that he had no more against them."
The constable urged him to detain them, say-
ing, they had good horses, and if it pleased
him he would carry them to Norwich jail. A
singular circumstance, indeed, that an officer
of justice should be sorry to find men inno-
cent, when the object of his station was to
lessen crime and promote peace and order
within his jurisdiction ! They were discharged,
and George Fox says a great people were ga-
thered to the Lord, in the town where he
preached, and where the hue and cry was
raised.

By this time some Friends were settled in
the north of Ireland, and William Edmund-
son, who was a minister and an influential
member there, being drawn to make George
Fox a visit, he wrote the following brief but
comprehensive epistle to the newly convinced
flock, and sent it by him; the reading of



which much tendered those assembled on the
occasion.

" Friends,

In that which convinced you, wait ;
that you may have that removed you are con-
vinced of. And, all my dear friends, dwell in
the life, love, power, and wisdom of God, in
unity one with another, and with God ; and
the peace and wisdom of God fill your hearts,
that nothing may rule in you but the life,
which stands in the Lord God. G. F."

Near the close of the year 1655, Georo-e
Fox and Edward Pyott were arrested at a
place called St. Ives, by order of Peter Ceely,
and sent prisoners under a guard of soldiers
to Launceston jail. An evidence of the reso-
lution and zeal with which Friends pursued
their religious duty, occurred on their journey.
On first-day, at Redruth, the soldiers would
have them proceed on their way, but George
Fox told them it was their sabbath, and it was
not usual to travel on that day. Some of the
towns people collecting about them, he held
the soldiers in discourse, while Edward Pyott
preached to the people ; and in turn, Edward
entertained them whilst George Fox preached.
At the same time, a Friend who was in com-
pany with them, got out and went to the stee-
plehouse to address those assembled there.
He was abused by the enraged company, and
the soldiei's missing him, also became much
incensed. In the afternoon, the soldiers re-
solved to go on, but after taking horse and
riding to the skirts of the town, George Fox
believed it his duty to go back and speak to
the man of the house where they had stopped.
The soldiers drew out pistols and swore he
should not go, but disregarding them, he rode
back, and they followed him ; and when he
had cleared himself he returned, reproving
them for their rudeness and violence.

In about nine weeks after their commit-
ment, they were brought to the assizes, before
Judge Glynn, and standing in the court with
their hats on, he commanded them to take
them off. George Fox desired to be shown,
either from the law or by the Scriptures, the
propriety of doing so ; but the judge becoming
angry, cried out to have him taken away, and
they were accordingly conveyed back to
prison.

During the time they were in the court,
their attention was attracted by the constant
repetition of oaths, by jurymen, witnesses, and
others, directly contrary to the command of
Christ and his apostles. George Fox was
grieved to observe it, and thought it his duty
to give forth a short declaration of his views
on the subject ; in which he warns tlicm to
" Take heed of giving people oaths to swear,



38



MEMOIR OF GEORGE FOX.



for Christ our Lord and Master saith, Swear
not at all, but let your communication be yea,
yea ; nay, nay ; for whatsoever is more than
these Cometh of evil. The Apostle James
saith, My brethren, above all things, swear
not ; neither by heaven, nor by earth, nor by
any other oath, lest ye fall into condemnation.
Hence we may see, those that swear do fall
into condemnation, and ai'e out of Christ's and
the apostle's doctrine." This paper, which
treated the subject of oaths pretty fully, passed
about among the jury and justices, until it
reached the hands of the judge, who again
called George Fox, and asked if that seditious
paper was his. The court was crowded with
people ; and George, being ever ready to em-
brace an opportunity for spreading the truth,
desired the clerk to read the paper aloud, that
he and all present might hear whether it con-
tained any sedition, and if it was his paper he
would own it. They urged him to take the
paper and examine it himself, but he still in-
sisting on its being read, it was at length done.
He acknowledged it to be his ; and showed
them how consistent it was with the Holy
Scriptures. Then they dropped that subject,
and the judge began again about their hats,
oi'dering them to be taken off. The gaoler
took them off and handed them to the two
Friends, who put them on again.

Peter Ceely manifested much hostility to-
ward George Fox, and made several accu-
sations against him, which were shown to be
entirely false. Failing to find any cause
for further imprisonment, in these groundless
charges, the judge fined them twenty marks
apiece, for keeping on their hats, and to be de-
tained in prison until it was paid. To prison
they were accordingly sent, and finding that
there was little probability of obtaining a re-
lease soon, they determined to demand a free
prison and to cease paying the jailor for their
board. This so incensed him that he put them
into a hole called Doomsdale, which was so
filthy, damp, and unwholesome, that it was
remarked that few who wen:; into it came out
alive. It was covered with mire and water as
deep as the tops of their shoes, and they could
not lie down, but were obliged to stand up
constantly. For a long time he would not suf-
fer them to cleanse it, or to have any victuals
but what was handed to them through the
grate ; and on one occasion, when a little girl
had brought them some meat, he arrested and
prosecuted her, for breaking his house.

The sessions being at hand, they drew up a
statement of their sufferings and presented it
to the court, at Bodmin. On reading it, the
justices ordered the door of the prison to be
opened, and that the prisoners should have
liberty to cleanse it and to purchase their pro-



vision in the town. Many persons visited
George Fox while he was in confinement at
Launceston, to whom he preached the Gospel
and explained the nature of his religious prin-
ciples, and so large a number were convinced
by his faithful labours, that one of the protec-
tor's chaplains remarked, " They could not do
George Fox a greater service for spreading
his principles in Cornwall, than to imprison
him there."

During his confinement a Friend went to
Oliver Cromwell, and offered himself to lie in
prison instead of George Fox, if the protector
would accept him and release George — which
struck the protector so forcibly as an act of
disinterested kindness, that he turned to his
council and other attendants, and asked,
" Which of you would do so much for me, if
I wex-e in the same condition V After being
about half a year in jail, they were discharged
in the seventh month, 1656. The jailer who
had used them so cruelly was not only turned
out of his office, but came to poverty ; and
afterwards was himself a prisoner in the same
place ; and being concerned in some disorder-
ly conduct while in jail, was cast into Dooms-
dale, where he had formerly thrust Friends.
The history of this trial and imprisonment
furnishes a singular comment upon the admin-
istration of law and justice, at that period.
They were committed as persons " altogether
unknown," charged in the course of the trial
by the justice who committed them, with a
design " to involve the nation in blood," but
eventually remanded to jail by the court, un-
der a penalty of twenty marks apiece, for not
taking off their hats.

George Fox was by no means unemployed
during his confinement. Many Friends com-
ing to visit him, promulgated the truth in Corn-
wall, Devonshire, Dorset, and Somersetshire.
This induced their enemies to set watches in
the highways, on pretence of apprehending
suspicious persons ; and accordingly they ar-
rested Friends, to hinder the diffusion of their
principles. Besides two remonstrances against
their iniquitous proceedings, he sent forth a
warning to the professors of religion in those
parts, to awaken them to a sense of their blind-
ness and hostility to the spirit and principles
of Christianity. He also testified against the
pride and idleness of many who spent their
time in sporting and wantonness, drinking,
hunting and hawking, instead of fearing and
glorifying Him who made them, and who will
bring all men to judgment. Of his own re-
ligious Society he was not unmindful. An
Exhortation to Friends in the Ministry, which
he wrote, is fraught with weighty counsel, and
shows the expanded views of his enlightened
mind. — " In the power and wisdom of the



MEMOIR OF GEORGE FOX.



39



Lord God dwell ;" says he, " spreading the
truth abroad, awakening the witness — con-
founding deceit — gathering out of transgres-
sion into the covenant of life and peace with
God. — Let all nations hear the sound by word
or writing. — Spare no place, tongue, nor pen.
Go through the work. — Be valiant for the
truth upon earth."

Being released from prison, George Fox
and his fellow-sufferers took horses, and rode
to a Friends' house, where they had " a pre-
cious meeting." After resting two or three
days, they went to Thomas Mounce's, where
a general meeting for the whole county was
held, and the company being too large for any
house to contain, they assembled in an orchard.
"The Lord's power," says George, "was over
all, and a great comincement there was in
many parts of the country." Passing through
Launceston, they visited the Friends who had
been convinced by their labours while in con-
finement, and found them increasing in reli-
gious stability, " being established on Christ,
their Rock and foundation." From thence
they went through Oakington, Exeter, Col-
lumpton and Taunton, to Bristol. " Many
meetings we had," observes George, " and
many people were turned by the power and
spirit of God, to the Lord Jesus Christ, who
died for them ; and came to sit under his free
teaching."

From Bristol, accompanied by Edward Py-
ott, he proceeded to London, holding meetings
by the way ; at one of which, at the house of
a justice of the peace, in Wiltshire, there were
supposed to be between two and three thou-
sand persons present : the meeting was quiet,
and the people went away much satisfied. At
London they visited Cromwell, and laid before
him the sufferings of Friends in different parts
of the nation, and also had some conversation
with him on religious subjects. After attend-
ing the meetings of Friends in that city and its
vicinity, they went into Buckingham, North-
ampton, Nottingham and Lincolnshires, and
were joined by Robert Craven, formerly she-
riff of Lincoln, Amor Stoddart and Alexander
Parker. The desire to hear the Gospel preach-
ed, and to know more fully the doctrines held
by Friends, appeared to increase ; and the
people flocked to the meetings, many of whom
being convinced, afterward joined the Society.
In those days, there were, a large number of
serious, seeking persons in the different reli-
gious societies, who were earnestly engaged
for their soul's salvation, and could not find
in the stated ceremonies and performances to
which they were accustomed, that peace and
satisfaction which they desired. They found
that men could afford them but little assistance
in the work of religion, and were therefore



anxiously looking for that Divine aid which
alone is availing. Few, however, under-
stood the operations of the Holy Spirit in
their own hearts ; or had faith to believe in
its sufficiency to lead them in the path of peace.
They felt something striving with them for sin,
and inclining them to holiness, but as yet knew
not what it was. In this state of mind, seek-
ing the truth and not finding it, tossed with
doubts and fears respecting their spiritual con-
dition, the preaching of George Fox came to
them like a message from heaven. It was,
indeed, " glad tidings of great joy," directing
them to the light of Christ Jesus in the con-
science, the Comforter, or Holy Spirit, which
he promised to send his disciples, to bring all
things to their remembrance, and to guide
them into all truth. They came to see that
they had depended too much on men, and on
outward performances ; overlooking the teach-
ings of this blessed Spirit in their souls ; and
they now turned to it with joy, and in faith
received and obeyed its commands. The
hearts of such persons were like ground pre-
pared to receive the seed of the kingdom, and
to this, under the divine blessing, we may
ascribe the great success which attended the
gospel labours of the early Friends.

Although large numbers received the testi-
mony of George Fox and his co-labourers,
there were others who despised their religious
profession. Some believed them to be here-
tical in principle, and being jealous of the
growth of a society whose doctrines struck at
making religion a trade, spread abroad nume-
rous misrepresentations, which he believed it
his duty to endeavour to correct and remove.
What Christ said of false prophets and anti-
christs, coming in the last days, their enemies
applied to Friends. The following statement
gives a view of the temper of the tinaes, and
George Fox's mode of replying to the errors
and accusations of the day : —

" This message of the glorious, everlasting
Gospel was I sent forth to declare and publish,
and thousands by it are turned to God, having
received it ; and are come into subjection to it,
and into the holy order of it. And since I
have declared this message in this part of the
world, and have written books of the same,
to spread it universally abroad, the blind pro-
phets, preachers and deceivers, have given
over telling us, the false prophets should
' come in the last times ;' for a great light is
sprung up and shines over their heads : so
that every child in the truth sees the folly of
their sayings.

" Then they got other objections against us,
and invented shifls to save themselves from
truth's stroke. For when we blamed them
for taking tithes, which came from the tribe



40



MEMOIR OF GEORGE FOX.



of Levi, and were set up here by the Romish
church, they would plead, ' That Christ told
the scribes and pharisees, they ought to pay-
tithes of mint, anise, and cumin, though they
neglected the weightier matters :' and that
Christ said, ' the scribes and pharisees sat in
Moses's seat, therefore all that they bid you
do, that do and observe.' And when we told
them they were envious persecuting priests,
they would reply, ' TJiat some preached Christ
of envy, and some of contention, and some
of good-will.' Now these Scriptures and
others they would bring to darken the minds
of their hearers, and to persuade them and
us, ' That we ought to do as they say, though
they themselves were like the pharisees ; and
that we should rejoice when envious men
and men of strife preached Christ, and that
we should give them the tithes as the Jews
did to the tribe of Levi.' These were fair
glosses ; here was a great heap of husks,
but no kernel. Now this was their blindness ;
for the Levitical priesthood Christ hath ended,
and disannulled the commandment that gave
them tithes, and the law by which those priests
were made. Christ did not come after that
order, neither did he send forth his ministers
after that order ; for those of that order were
to take tithes for their maintenance, but his
ministers he sent forth freely.

" And as for hearing the pharisees, and the
Jews paying tithes of mint, anise, and cumin,
that was before Christ was sacrificed and
offered up ; the Jews were then to do the law,
and perform their offerings and sacrifices
which the Jewish priests did teach them. But
after Christ was offered up, he bid them then,
' Go into all nations and preach the Gospel ;
and lo,' said he, ' I will be with you to the end
of the world ;' and in another place he saith,
' I will be in you.' He did not bid them to
go to hear the pharisees and pay tithes of mint,
anise, and cumin then ; but ' Go, preach the
gospel, and believe in the Lord Jesus and be
saved, and receive the gospel,' which would
bring people off from the Jews, the tithes, the
Levitical law, and the offerings thereof, to
Christ, the one Offering, made once for all.
O what work had the apostle both with the
Galatians and the Romans to bring them off
the law to the faith in Christ !

" And as for the apostle's saying, ' Some
preached Christ of envy and strife,' &c., that
was at the first spreading of Christ's name
abroad, when they were in danger not only
to be cast out of the synagogues, but to be
stoned to death, that confessed to the name of
Jesus ; as may be seen by the uproars that
were among the Jews and Diana's worshippers
at the preaching of Christ. So the apostle
might well rejoice if the envious, and men of



strife and contention did preach Christ at that
time ; though they thought thereby to add
affliction to his bonds. But afterward, when
Christ's name was spread abroad, and many
had got a form of godliness, but denied the
power thereof, ' Envious, proud, contentious
men, men of strife, covetous men, teachers
for filthy lucre,' the apostle commanded the
saints to turn from, and not to have any fel-
lowship with them. And the deacons and
ministers were first to be proved, to see if they
were in the power of godliness, and the Holy
Ghost made them overseers and preachers.
So it may be seen how the priests have abused
these scriptures for their own ends, and have
wrested them to their own destruction, to jus-
tify envious, contentious men, and men of
strife. Whereas the apostle says, ' The man
of God must be patient, and apt to teach ;'
and they were to follow Christ, as they had
them for their examples.

" The apostle indeed was very tender to
people, while he saw them walk in simplicity,
as in the case of those that were scrupulous
about meats and days ; but when he saw, that
some drew them into the observation of days,
and to settle in such things, he then reproves
them sharply, and asks ' Who had bewitched
them?' So in the case of marrying he was
tender, lest their minds should be drawn from
the Lord's joining ; but when they came to
forbid marriage, and to set up rules for meats
and drinks, he called it ' a doctrine of devils,'
and an ' erring from the true faith.' So also
he was tender concerning circumcision, and
in tenderness suffered some to be circumcised ;
but when he saw they went to make a sect of
it, and to set up circumcision as a standing
practice, he told them plainly, ' If they were
circumcised, Christ would profit them nothing.'
In like manner he was tender concerning the
baptizing with water ; but when he saw they
began to make sects about it, some crying up
Paul, others Apollos, he judged them, and
called them carnal, and thanks God he had
baptized no more but such and such ; declaring
plainly, that he was sent to preach the Gospel,
and not to baptize; and brought them to the
one baptism by the one Spirit, into the one
body, which Christ, the spiritual man, is the
head of; and exhorted the church, ' all to drink
into that one Spirit.' For he asserted, in the
church, the one faith, which Christ was the
author of; and one baptism, which was that
of the Spirit into the one body ; and one Lord
Jesus Christ, who was the spiritual baptizer,
who John said should come after him. And
further the apostle declared that they, who
worshipped and served God in the Spirit, were
of the circumcision in the Spirit, which was
' not made with hands ;' by which the ' body



MEMOIR OF GEORGE FOX.



41



of the sins of the flesh was put off:' which
circumcision Christ is the minister of.

" Another great objection they had, was, that
the Quakers denied the sacrament, as they
called it, of bread and wine, which they
said, they were to take, and do in remem-
brance of Christ to the end of the world. A
great deal of work we had with the priests and
professors about this, and about the several
modes of receiving it in Christendom, so called :
Some of them take it kneeling, some sit-
ting ; but none of them all, that ever I could
find, take it as the disciples took it. For they
took it in a chamber after supper ; but these
generally take it before dinner ; and some say,
after the priest hath blessed it, it is ' Christ's
body.'

" But as to the matter, Christ said, ' Do this
in remembrance of me.' He did not tell them
how oft they should do it, or how long ; neither
did he enjoin them to do it always as long as
they lived, or that all believers in him should
do it to the world's end. The Apostle Paul,
who was not converted till after Christ's death,
tells the Corinthians, that he had received of
the Lord that which he delivered unto them
concerning this matter, and relates Christ's
words concerning the cup thus; 'This do ye,
as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me :'
and himself adds, ' For as often as ye do eat
this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show
forth the Lord's death till he come.' So ac-
cording to what the apostle here delivers, nei-
ther Christ nor he did enjoin the people to do
this always, but leaves it to their liberty, ' as
oft as ye drink it,' &c. The Jews did use to
take a cup, and to break bread and divide it
among them in their feasts ; as may be seen
in the Jewish Antiquities ; so the breaking of
bread and drinking of wine were Jewish rites,
which were not to last always. They did also
baptize with water, which made it not seem a
sti'ange thing to them, when John the Baptist
came with his decreasing ministration of water-
baptism.

" But as to the bread and wine, after the
disciples had taken it, some of them questioned
whether Jesus was the Christ? For some of
them said, after he was crucified, ' We trusted
that it had been he which should have re-
deemed Israel,' &c. And though the Corinthi-
ans had the bread and wine, and were baptized
in water, the apostle told them they were re-
probates, if Christ was not in them ; and bid
them examine themselves. And as the apos-
tle said, ' As oft as ye do eat this bread, and
drink this cup, ye do show forth the Lord's
death till he come ;' so Christ had said before
that he was the bread of life, which came
down from heaven ; and that ' he would come,
and dwell in them;' which the apostles did

Vol. I.— No. 2.



witness fulfilled ; and exhorted others to seek
for that which comes down from above: but
the outward bread and wine, and water, are
not from above, but from below.

" Now ye that eat and drink this outward
bread and wine in remembrance of Christ's
death, and have your fellowship in that, will
ye come no nearer to Christ's death than to
take bread and wine in remembrance of it?
After ye have eaten in remembrance of his
death, ye must come into his death, and die
with him, as the apostles did, if ye will live
with him. This is a nearer and further ad-
vanced state, to be with him in the fellowship
of his death, than only to take bread and wine
in remembrance of it. You must have fellow-
ship with Christ in his sufferings ; if ye will
reign with him, ye must suffer with him ; if
ye will live with him, ye must die with him ;
and if ye die with him, ye must be buried
with him ; and being buried with him in the
true baptism, ye also rise with him. Then
having suffered with him, died with him, and
been buried with him, if ye are risen with
Christ, ' seek those things which are above,
where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.'
Eat the bread which comes down from above,
which is not outward bread ; and drink the
cup of salvation which he gives in his king-
dom, which is not outward wine. And then
there will not be a looking at the things that
are seen, as outward bread and wine and
water are : for, as says the apostle, ' The
things that are seen are temporal, but the
things that are not seen are eternal.'

" So here are many states and conditions
to be gone through before people come to see
that, and partake of that which cometh down
from above.

" For first. There was a taking of the
outward bread and wine in remembrance of
Christ's death. This was temporary, and
not of necessity ; but at their liberty. As oft



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 9 of 105)