A COLLECTION OF SOME PAPERS OF WILLIAM CROUCH
Site Editor's Preface
William Crouch (1628-1710) was an eminent Quaker evangelist and minister. From an early age, he felt the Lord's working in his soul, never finding satisfaction until after hearing the living Truth preached in a London Quaker meeting at age 28. His account of the Lord's work and power in his soul is very encouraging, with significant scriptural support; another example of the many sided wisdom of God, revealed in Crouch's narrative. As an inhabitant of New Jerusalem, he gives us an excellent contrast between New Jerusalem and Protestant Babylon. He has also left a brief history, with accompanying documentation, of the sufferings and persecutions endured by the early Quaker movement, as he relates his own experiences within it. His writings and record have until now been largely lost. May this publishing again of this worthy Son of God's record be a lasting tribute to one who accomplished the supreme goal of life - to have become a Son of God, living in His Kingdom while on earth and forever, serving the Lord in his presence, with the joy of beholding his power and glory.
The Preface below is an excellent writing in itself, and places Richard Claridge as another outstanding Quaker by which we may learn and be inspired.
SOME ACCOUNT OF THE AUTHOR BY WAY OF PREFACE
THE real happiness of man consists in being truly religious, or holy, in our measures, as God is holy; for holiness and happiness are so nearly related, that the one cannot be, or subsist, without the other. Holiness is happiness begun, and happiness is holiness in perfection.
Religion, godliness or holiness, three names of and the same thing, is the rule or standard, by which an estimate is to be made of man's real and intrinsic worth. It is a great mistake, notwithstanding its too general currency in the world, to value men according to their external circumstances; whether learning, power, grandeur, riches, and the like outward transitory enjoyments. For every man's true worth in the sight of God, stands in his likeness to God; in his partaking of the Divine nature, according to the measure of the grace of God which brings salvation and has appeared unto all men. The inquiry then, after a man's real worth and value, is to be resolved, not into his outward acquirements, but inward qualifications; not into his wealth or greatness, but into his holiness and goodness.
Seneca has an excellent saying to this purpose: "We do not, said he, esteem a ship good, simply because it is curiously painted and gilded, or carved, or inlaid, or richly laden; but because it is strong and well built, and fitted for all the ends of navigation." The same is true for a man; it is nothing to the purpose to say, he possesses so many manors, he has so much money at interest, he has so many to address or complement him, he lies in a rich bed, or drinks in the finest glasses; but the grand question is, about his virtue and goodness. "For virtue," as Juvenalf said, "is the true and only nobility." "The best man," said Velleius Paterculus, “is the most noble." "To excel in virtue,” said Hierom, “is in God's account the greatest nobility." In comparison of which, all outward pomp and grandeur are insignificant, empty trifles.
Vice, on the other hand, is an ignoble thing, and so degrades a man, who was made to glorify his Creator, that it sinks him below his first and principal end, and ranks him among dogs, swine, and other filthy creatures. Thus said Solomon: A wicked man is loathsome, and comes to shame, Pro 13:5. His very thoughts and sacrifice are an abomination to the Lord, Pro 15:8. But good men are called, the excellent of the earth, Psa 16:3. A chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people, 1 Pet 2:9. Jewels, Mal 3:17. Elect, Rom 8:33. Precious, Lam 4:2, Anointed ones, Psa 105:15. Sons of God, children of God, heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ, Rom 7:14,16,17. Though these people many times suffer hunger and thirst, cold and nakedness, and are exposed to a variety of hardships; and are tried with cruel mockings and scourgings, bonds and imprisonment,— being destitute afflicted, tormented, Heb 11:36-37; yet even then they are the beloved of God, precious in his sight, and so highly esteemed and valued by him, that the Apostle expressly declares to their everlasting consolation and honor, the world is not worthy of them, Heb 11:38. As an addition to the value the great God sets upon them, he has promised by his servants, that the wise, that is, the godly, shall inherit glory, Pro 3:35, shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and as the stars forever and ever, Dan 12:3. The Holy Scriptures are full of setting forth the happiness of the righteous. I shall at present mention but these few passages more. Blessed is the man that fears the Lord, that delights greatly in his commandments.—His righteousness forever. Unto the upright there arises light in darkness.—The righteous shall be had in everlasting remembrance, Psa 112:1, 3, 4, 6. Blessings are upon the head of the just, and his memory is blessed, Pro 10: 6-7. But the case is otherwise with the wicked; his way is as darkness, Pro 4:19. The curse of the Lord is in his house, Pro 3:33. His desire and expectation shall perish, Psalm 112:10, Pro 10:28. His remembrance shall perish from the earth, Job 18:17. And his name shall rot, Pro 10:7. But a good man's name is as a precious ointment, and leaves a fragrance behind it,Ecc 7:1; even as the wise man said of Josiah, His remembrance is like the composition of the perfume, that is made by the art of the apothecary; it is sweet as honey in all mouths, and as music at a banquet of wine. Therefore as wicked men leave an unsavory trail behind them; so good men transmit a sweet memorial of their virtues to posterity. Sin and wickedness fasten a perpetual ignominy upon the ungodly: but piety and virtue, stamp an immortal honor upon the righteous; for the righteous is an everlasting foundation, Pro 10:25.
But to leave this general, and come to a particular consideration; we have an evident proof of the powerful operation and excellent effects of religion, in the person commemorated in this preface. As he was early convinced of, and received the Truth, as it is in Jesus, who is the Way, the Truth and the Life; so he was enabled by the grace of God to walk in it, and to keep up a faithful testimony to it in life and conduct, according to the measure of the gift bestowed upon him. In him, both the form and power of religion met together. Profession answered practice, and practice corresponded with profession. He knew the name Christian, though an honorable appellation, would stand him in little stead without being changed into the nature of it. For to be a Christian indeed, is to be in Christ; and to be in Christ, is to be a new creature. Therefore his main concern was: Christ formed in his soul, the life of Jesus made manifest in his body; and to know himself a living branch of the true vine, a lively stone in the spiritual building, where Christ is both the foundation and chief cornerstone. Not resting in the beginnings of regeneration, where too many content themselves; but through the assistance and influences of the Holy Spirit, waiting for and laboring after the gradual and progressive work of sanctification, until he might come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; not as though he had already attained, either was already perfect; but he followed after, if that he might apprehend that for which also he was apprehended of Christ Jesus; not counting himself to have apprehended; but this one thing he did, forgetting those things which were behind, and reaching forth unto those things which were before, he pressed toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
Such was the heavenly frame of his mind; such the spiritual travail of his soul. He had a state of perfection in his view, and believing it attainable by the grace of God, he did not stop the pursuit, until, through the same grace, we hope, he was made a partaker of it. He was a humble, self-denying man, and acknowledged no state above a watchful one. Nor did he assume to himself the attainment spoken of, but continued in faith, humility, watchfulness and prayer; looking unto Jesus, that he who had begun the good work in him, would confirm it unto the end; relying always upon the grace of God, and not upon any duties or performances of his own. His desire was to be found in Christ, not having his own righteousness which is of the law, but what is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith; and to know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; if by any means he might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. That being risen with Christ, and having his affections set on things above, he might live as a pilgrim and stranger here, as to the things of this world, and as a fellow-citizen with the saints, and of the household of God.
I had some knowledge of him for several years, before Divine Providence cast my lot to live so near him in the country; where I came to be more intimately acquainted with him, and to have frequent opportunities of receiving from, and returning Christian visits to, him, during the last four years of his life. I found him grown in years and grace together, and like ripe and weighty corn, ready to be gathered into the heavenly granary. His bodily strength was much impaired through age and infirmities, usually attending that scene of life; but this did not affect his better part. His soul was strong in the Lord and in the power of his might; his understanding bright, his judgment sound, and his discourse seasoned with grace, and was of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. I was always glad when I could enjoy his company for I still received some benefit by it. Though he was unacquainted with human arts and languages; which is a poor empty knowledge in comparison of the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, yet having learnt that wisdom which is from above, and makes wise unto salvation, he was enabled to speak many things, to the comfort and edification of me, and others who heard him. In the lips of him, said Solomon, that has understanding, wisdom is found,—the lips of the righteous feed many. Pro 10:13, 21, and know what is acceptable, Pro 10:32. In the heart of the righteous is much treasure,—and the lips of the wise disperse knowledge. Pro 15:6,7. Again, the wise in heart shall be called prudent, and the sweetness of the lips increases learning. Pro 16:21. The sense of which passages, as it is plain, so the application is obvious. Our deceased friend was one of the wise in heart, where the heavenly treasure lay, from where his lips dispersed knowledge, and led many with what was acceptable. Yes, such a sweetness accompanied his words, that his lips dropped as a honeycomb, Song 4:11; and conveyed not only doctrine, but a fragrance also with it to the hearers. Indeed, so far as my observation could furnish me, I think I may say, his whole conduct was full of sweetness and kindness. I never heard him speak diminutively of other men, nor in praise of himself; such was his love to his neighbor, and such the modest and humble thoughts he had of himself. A hearty zeal he had for God and his Truth, but it was not hot or fiery, but cool, meek and temperate. When any disputes or differences happened among his neighbors and acquaintance, or among relations, he endeavored, as much as in him lay, to reconcile them, and to quench those heats, which otherwise might have broken out into a flame. He loved all men, but especially those in whom he saw love towards God appearing; and these, were nearer to, or farther from him, as he saw them more or less impressed with the image and superscription of Christ. The sincere and upright hearted were very near him; and though he could have no unity with hypocrites, formalists, and loose walkers, yet such he pitied, and as opportunity presented, he reproved and exhorted them, praying for their recovery and amendment.
As to the things of this world, he esteemed them as they are in themselves, perishing enjoyments; and therefore placed not his affections upon them. As it was his duty to provide for himself and family, so he was diligent and industrious in his calling, in order to that end; and not to that end only, but that he might also have capability to minister to the necessities of others according to his ability. The household of faith took largely of his charity; but others also benefited, as he saw occasion. He did not confine his bounty within the limits of his own persuasion, but was a benefactor to many others, however different in opinion from him. That person was his neighbor who stood in need of his help, and he in a capacity of helping him.
He looked upon himself, not so much a proprietor, but as as a steward, and having received a stewardship, expected to give an account to the great Lord and Master of the universe. And therefore his desire and endeavor were to be found faithful, in discharging the trust committed to him.
The love of money, which is declared by the apostle, to be the root of all evil, 1 Tim 6:10, the foundation of being uncharitable, he had such an aversion to, that he emitted a treatise under this title, The enormous sin of covetousness detected; informing the reader in his preface thereto, that it was not ambition to appear in print, that moved him to that undertaking; but a sincere and just abhorrence of that crying sin. The book treats of a subject which wise men in all ages have condemned, and yet most men are or have been more or less in love with it. That covetousness is a sin, yes, a grievous sin, who is there that denies? But then the distinctions about it, the apologies and excuses made for it, are so many, and so subtly contrived; that though no sin is so general and apparent, yet there are very few among the vast number of delinquents, that will acknowledge themselves guilty. Our worthy friend has made such a detection of it, that notwithstanding all the cunning of its advocates and abettors, and the various fair colors they put upon it, it is still what it ever was, an odious monster in the sight of God and good men; a complicated evil, that carries in it the seed of all iniquity. I have given a recommendation of the book already in an epistle prefixed to it; and I venture once more to recommend it, as a means, through the blessing of God, to cure the malady of past and present avarice; and an antidote to it for the future. It was a notable observation, which one made concerning covetous persons, "We read not of any good man, in all the history of the Scriptures, or of the primitive times, who was covetous; and it is a shame, that any that do now pretend to the Christian religion, should degenerate;" (from Samuel Fairclough, in Clark's Lives of Sundry Eminent Persons).
But to return from this, if it may be called a digression; as to our friend's clearness in this matter, we have beside his own testimony against covetousness in that book, the testimonies of several credible persons, that had knowledge of him for several years, who unanimously agree: That his treasure was in heaven; and for the treasures of this world, he put no value upon them any further, than to be his servants for necessary uses, and to do charitable acts with that towards others.
His charity was large, and in many ways; being ready to assist such as were in trouble, or under affliction of any sort, where either his advice or purse was wanting. For he spared neither purse nor pains, when he was called to serve others who needed them. He practiced the pure religion and undefiled before God, and the Father; that is, he frequently visited the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and kept himself unspotted from the world. He was in particular a great support to the poor of the neighborhood where he lived in the country, often distributing, by other hands, largely of his charity to them. Nor did the strangers in distress, go empty handed away from his gates.
As he was exemplary in showing mercy to the poor, and in helping and supporting the weak and afflicted; so was he no less remarkable, in doing justice towards all men. It is one of the first lessons that Truth teaches her disciples, to do justly. "I," said Wisdom, "lead in the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of judgment," Pro 8:20, and plainly justice is a virtue of so large extent, that a heathen man said,* "It is the complex of all other virtues; and that every good man is a just man. He that makes a show of religion, without doing justly to his neighbor, is a hypocrite; and does only mock God, while he pretends to honor him. To be truly religious, is to be truly just. This is positively asserted by the apostle, in his caution against those deceivers, who spread this poisonous doctrine among the people, that men might live as they wished, provided they believed aright. Little children, said he, let no man deceive you; he that does righteousness is righteous:—He that commits sin is of the devil. 1 John 3:7-8. He that does righteousness: the intendment of which expression, is not to be limited to one, or a few good or righteous actions; for a wicked man may go so far; but doing righteousness, imports as much as doing justly; and denotes a constant course of well-doing, derived from a divine principle of righteousness planted in the soul; which the apostle expresses by the word seed; from which springs the immortal birth, called a being born of the Spirit, John 3:3-8. For everyone that does righteousness, is born of him. 1 John 2:29; or, as he elsewhere declares, he that does good, is of God. 3 John 1:11.
Now as doing righteousness, or doing good according to the apostle, is a certain proof of being born of God; so is it vain for any man to imagine he is so born, in whom the fruits of righteousness are not. But where we see those fruits apparent, there we have good grounds to conclude that the person is born of God. Whoever acts from this principle, acts as a new creature; and feels a necessity upon him to keep his word, perform his lawful contracts, pay his just debts, and do to all men, as he would have others do to him. That this was the rule our friend walked by, I have heard him often declare; and have also seen several testimonies from those, who knew his dealings for many years, in confirmation of the truth of it.
In his family, whether considered as a husband, father or master; his children and servants, who were immediately under his care, give an ample testimony of him, as a singular pattern of piety and virtue, in the discharge of all those relations, and worthy to be recommended to imitation. Because a good example is an excellent thing in every station, in which our lot is cast by divine Providence, I shall speak a little to that subject. A good example has a great influence upon those among whom we are; and is of more efficacy many times than precept. For this only lays down rules, and gives directions about the way of virtue; but the other goes before, and shows it, saying as it were, this is the way, walk in it. Therefore the apostle propounds his own example to the Corinthians: Be you followers of me, even as I also am of Christ. I Cor11:1. And to the Philippians: Be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so, as you have us for an example. Phil 3:17. For though he was an eminent apostle, and minister of Christ; yet he thought it not enough to deliver sound doctrine, unless he also lived up to the truths he taught, exemplifying in his own practice, the duties he recommended unto others. Of the same import are those words of Christ, Follow me, so often mentioned by the evangelists; and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and you shall find rest unto your souls. Mat 11:29. Leaving us an example, that we should follow his steps; who did no sin, neither was guile found in his lips. 1 Pet 2:21-22. Again, when he had washed his disciples feet, and instructed them in the mystery of it, he added, I have given you an example, that you should do, as I have done to you. John 13:15. That you should, in imitation of me, exercise humility, condescension, and brotherly love to one another. He that said he abides in him, ought himself also so to walk, just as he walked. 1 John 2:6. His example ought to be a rule to us in our walking; for he was not only a legislator, but a pattern; he not only delivered most excellent precepts, but also most exactly practiced them; and thereby showed us the possibility and practicality of that holy religion which he taught.
When he said to his disciples, You are the salt of the earth. Mat 5:13, and the light of the world; a city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden, Mat 5:14; it is as much, as though he should have said, you are to season the earth, and enlighten the world, both with your doctrine and example. Therefore, let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven, Mat 5:16. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden, your examples will be as visible as your persons. Men's eyes will be upon you, and observe you; and if your lives and doctrines agree, you will be as salt to preserve the world from putrefaction, and as lights to scatter the gross darkness, that has covered the people.
The plainest proof that we can give to men of our sincerity in religion, is a demonstration by the good effects it produces. A good life is more convincing than any verbal declaration because men come to see then with their eyes, what they heard with their ears; see those virtuous actions performed, which they heard recommended. Certainly, although religion is a very beautiful thing, even in its description or portraiture; yet it is set forth or expressed most to the life, in the person that is truly religious and shows his faith by his works.
Oh the excellence of that faith that keeps the commandments of God! It was this that rendered the holy patriarchs, prophets and apostles so famous, not only in their day, but throughout all after generations. No, if I should say, well-doing is the life and soul of religion; I have the apostle James to justify the expression, who said, As the body without the Spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. James 2:26. The improvement that we ought to make of this discourse, is to apply it impartially to ourselves, and see that we be holy livers, as well as sound and orthodox believers; that we not only have the doctrine of our Lord Jesus Christ, but adorn it also by a godly conversation.
In Harlcliffe's Preface to his Treatise of Moral and Intellectual Virtues, he says, "Let us consider whether or not this religion does govern our lives; which we must learn, not by our acquaintance with systems and models of divinity, but by our keeping its commandments; for unless Christ is inwardly found in our hearts, the notions of religion can no more save us than arts and sciences, while they lie only in books and papers without us, can make us learned. For Christ Jesus did not undergo a reproachful life and death, merely to bring in a notion into the world, without changing, mending and reforming it; so that men might be as wicked as they were before, and as much under the power of the prince of darkness. Indeed, Christ came to expiate and atone for our sins; but the end of this was, that we might forsake all ungodliness and worldly lusts. "
It is true, there are some that dishearten us in this spiritual warfare, and bring an ill report upon that land, which we are to conquer, telling of nothing but giants that we shall never be able to subdue; others would suggest, that it is enough for us, if we were only once in a state of grace, we need not take so great pains to travel any further; or, that Christ has done everything for us already without us, and nothing more needs to be done within us. Do not listen to them, I beseech you, but hear what Caleb and Joshua say, “Let us go up at once and possess it; for we are able to overcome them, the huge armies of lusts, not by our own strength, but by the power of the Lord of hosts.” Hear also the wholesome words of St. Peter, “Give all diligence, to add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity: for if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that you shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” For holiness has something of God in it, and therefore it must be a victorious and triumphant thing.
As our friend had been a good example in his family, both to children and servants, so his care was for the welfare of them all. He wrote a paper of Christian advice to his children, the year before his death, which might remain as a testimony of his dear love to, and affectionate concern for, them, and is as follows.
The things here given in charge are few, but very comprehensive; short and plain, but weighty, and energetic; and I pray to God, that not only they to whom they were directed, but all others, whether parents or children, that shall read them, may take so much notice thereof, as to transcribe them into their practice. He was enriched with a large stock of experimental knowledge, which he had been gathering and treasuring up for many years. Although he lived not upon his former experiences, but upon Christ the living bread, and only nourishment of the immortal soul; yet those experiences of the loving kindness of God, were comfortable to him to remember and helpful to him in giving advice and counsel to others. His old age being an age of great experience, wisdom, counsel, judgment and understanding in the things of God, I may apply those words of the son of Sirach, and say with him: Oh, how comely a thing is judgment for gray hairs, and for ancient men to know counsel! Oh, how comely is the wisdom of old men, and understanding and counsel to men of honor! Much experience is the crown of old men; and the fear of God is their glory. Ecc 12:13 . For the silver-haired head is a crown of glory, if it is found in the way of righteousness. Pro 16:31. There is an honor due to the very age of old men; You shall rise up before the gray headed, and honor the face of the old man, and fear your God. I am the Lord. Lev 19:32, i.e. said a late annotator:* Show all manner of respect to them; for God requires this reverence, and has bestowed this old age as a singular blessing. The glory of young men is their strength, and the beauty of old men is the gray head. Pro 20:29. "Every age," said the same author, "has its peculiar ornament and advantage, for which it ought to be respected." Whereas it is said, The sinner being a hundred years old, shall be cursed. Isa. 65:20, we must distinguish between the sinner and the old age; the curse being threatened to the former, not to the latter; for it is the person that is culpable, not the age. Although there is an honor due to the age of old men; yet when they are not only laden with years, but enriched with religion and virtue, which is, to be found in the way of righteousness, then their honor is much greater; then it is, as the wise man said, a crown of glory; and to allude to the apostle's expression, 1 Tim 5:17, They are elders, that are worthy of double honor. For them that honor me, said the Lord, I will honor. 1 Sam 2:30. And if God will honor them, who is he that shall presume to reproach them? For the righteous live forevermore, their reward also is with the Lord, and the care of them is with the most High. Wisdom 5:16.
It is a great fault, and yet grown too common, to be ripping up the former weaknesses and failings of men, which through the grace of God they have repented of, and forsaken. This practice is contrary to the method of Divine mercy and goodness, for when God is graciously pleased to pardon sin for the sake of Christ, upon true repentance, he is said to blot it out, and to remember it no more. Isa 43:25, Isa 44:22, Jer 31:34, Heb 8:12. So is it repugnant to all the rules of justice and charity among men. You would think it hard and unkind, to be so upbraided by another; see then that you are not guilty of the same fault.
Again, there is another error that should be cautioned against, and that is, when some men are not so good as they should be, to grasp any rumor, however groundless, that reflects upon those who are better than themselves; and thereby endeavor, as archbishop Tillotson* observes, " to bring men to their level, hoping it will be some justification of themselves, if they can only consider others to be as bad as themselves."
Add to this another passage of his: "Men look with an evil eye upon the good that is in others, and think that their reputation obscures them, and that their commendable qualities do bland in their light; and therefore they do what they can to cast a cloud over them, that the bright shining of their virtues may not scorch them."
And because evil speaking has become almost an epidemical fault, take these rules and directions which he has laid down for the prevention and cure of it.
The reducing of these rules to practice, would be a special means to purge out that leaven which sours conversation; and renders it so dangerous and unsociable. I should have had no occasion to mention them here, but because the tongues of some men run into that unbridled liberty, as to spare neither the living, nor the dead.
William Crouch showed us a better example; he knew a bridle to his tongue, and set a watch before the door of his lips, remembering, that if any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, Jams 3:2, but if any man seem to be religious, and bridles not his tongue, he deceives his own heart, and his religion is vain, James 1:26.
In his illness, which sometimes was severe upon him, being sorely afflicted about the space of two years before it pleased the Lord to remove him from here, he bore it with much patience, meekly submitting himself to the will of God. He was still, and opened not his mouth in murmuring or complaining, because he knew it was the Lord's doing. About nine months before his departure, and at a time when his distemper was sharp upon him, a great trial befell him. His second wife, whose name was Ruth, a woman of singular piety and virtue, with whom he had lived for fifty years and upwards, in the fear of God and true affection, was by death removed from him. The parting with so near and dear a relation, of whom he left this testimony, that she would deny herself to a very great degree to serve him, beyond what he could ask or expect from her; could not but make a deep impression upon him. But such was his resignation to the will of his heavenly Father, that he possessed his soul in patience, acknowledging with holy Job, that the Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away: blessed be the name of the Lord. Job 1:21.
Now drew on the time of his own dissolution, which the Lord had graciously prepared him for, and for which he patiently waited the accomplishment. He often admired the goodness of God to him, in inclining his mind to seek after good from his youth, and in preserving him through the whole course of his life to old age; he also often retired in prayer, and waited upon the Lord for support under his daily exercise. He had attained, through Divine grace, to that inward peace and satisfaction of mind, that he declared, he had now nothing to do but to die. When he saw his children concerned for him, he often exhorted them, not to desire his life, for he was through age and weakness incapable of being serviceable according to his desire; and that he had done his day's work in his day. The day before he died, a Friend who had made him several visits in his illness, went to see him. He found him very weak, and sitting some time with him waiting upon the Lord, he was moved to supplicate the Lord on his behalf, who was pleased to answer the cry of his servant, and they were greatly comforted together, in a sense of the Lord's presence and goodness. After prayer, he expressed his great satisfaction in that heavenly visit, and said as before, he had now nothing to do but to die, and waited for the time when it should please God to call him out of this miserable world, and take him to his eternal rest. The night following he took his solemn leave of his children who were then present, telling them, he now thought he had but a little time, and the time which he so greatly desired and waited for was near at hand; which was matter of joy to his soul, desiring the Lord to make his change easy, that so his patience might hold out to the end. And the Lord granted him his request.
Thus died he in a good old age, an old man and full of years, rich in faith, fruitful in good works, and replenished with hopes of enjoying a blessed eternity.
William Crouch departed this life the 13th of eleventh month, 1710, aged eighty years. Ruth Crouch departed this life the 20th of second month, 1710, aged seventy-two years.
WILLIAM CROUCH'S PREFACE
FRIENDLY reader, having in the time of my pilgrimage in this world, had some knowledge and inward observation of the two mystical kingdoms of light and darkness; in which all the sons and daughters of men are comprehended, and will be eternally concluded as subjects of one or the other; I am drawn forth in the love of God, according to my measure, to give some hints, by way of description of them both; having for some time had my conversation among the subjects of the kingdom of light, peace and consolation; as in times past I had among those in the kingdom of darkness, where sin and iniquity bear rule.
In these kingdoms are two capital cities, the one Jerusalem, a city that is compact together. Psa 122:3. They shall call it the throne of the Lord. Jer 3:17. A city of our solemnities, and a quiet habitation. Isa 33:20. The other is of Babylon, or confusion, the city of desolation and astonishment. Jer 25:11. These kingdoms are in continual opposition one to the other, even as light and darkness. In the one there shall be no night, they need no candle; for the Lord God gives them light. Rev 22:5. The other is the seat of the beast, and his kingdom is full of darkness. Rev 16:10.
Of the original of these kingdoms and cities there are records in sacred history, a history of undoubted verity: the city Jerusalem has foundations, whose builder and maker is God, which Abraham looked for. Heb 11:10. Unto this city the faithful in all ages have their eye, and they desire to be made citizens of it. The other city of Babylon, or confusion in the type, was begun and carried on by Nimrod, the rebel and tyrant of the race of cursed Ham. Gen 10:6-8, 1 Chr 1:10.
Between these two kingdoms, there is always war, and continual enmity in one against the other, which proceeds from the contrariety of the natures of the seeds which govern their inclinations. Gen 3:15, Rom 8:7, Jam 4:4. As they are under distinct kings, so their government is distinct.
The one is governed by just and righteous laws, ordained and established by the Great Lawgiver; even God Almighty. The other by corrupt will and power, which naturally tend to oppression and cruelty.
The general and universal law of the kingdom and city of light and peace, is love, and the fruits and effects thereof are manifold.
The laws of the kingdom of darkness, are altogether arbitrary, and the effects are answerable thereunto.
The subjects and inhabitants of Jerusalem, delight in acts of justice, mercy, charity, and they do good to all; they love enemies, and pray for them that misuse them, or despitefully treat them. They do not render evil for evil, but overcome evil with good, according to the command of Christ Jesus their king and governor. Mat 5:44. Luke 6:35. Rom 12:21.
The subjects and inhabitants of the other kingdom and city Babylon, act quite contrary. They render evil for good; hatred for love; and envy, malice, and bitterness for good-will and kindness.
What I present to you here, in regard to these kingdoms and cities, is not merely what I have heard by the hearing of the ear, nor is it drawn from the copy of any who have pretended to describe them, perhaps from the copy of another, and so by tradition; but what in measure I know from experience, having, with some application, sought to know, and be acquainted with the nature, laws, discipline, and government of the city New Jerusalem; as I was in some degree unwarily subjected to the laws and customs of the opposite city of darkness and confusion.
In the city of Jerusalem, there is one only Judge and Lawgiver, His laws being most just and equal; they are not couched in ambiguous terms and sentences, but plain and legible to every understanding, being written in the fleshly table of the heart, so that the way-faring man, though a fool, shall not err. Isaiah 35:8. An interpreter is also always near at hand, Job 33:23. None need to spend their money for counsel, or fee advocates. The Lord of the country has given and appointed a free advocate, 1 John 2:1, who pleads our cause, and makes intercession freely. Rom 8:26-27, 34, Heb 7:25.
As there is only one principal Judge, so in all causes there is only one chief witness to give evidence; which witness is always present, and beholds all actions; yes, the very thoughts. 1 Sam 2:3, Rom 2:15. So that there can be no hiding, or covering, nor pretending for an appeal to any other judgment-seat. Behold the Judge stands before the door. James 5:9. There can be no going in or out; no escaping or avoiding this Judge; no bribe, or gift can blind the eye of this Judge; but before him all things are naked, and opened unto the eyes of him, with whom we have to do. Heb 4:13. It is in confessing and forsaking our sins, that we obtain forgiveness and cleansing. 1 John 1:9. Here is opportunity for Christ the Advocate to appear, and to intercede with the Judge, the Father, who hears and accepts the Son. John 11:41-42. And him that comes to me, said Christ, I will in no wise cast out. John 6:37. And this is the will of Him that sent me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes on him, may have everlasting life, John 6:40.
After this manner, is the order and government of this kingdom, universally over all the sons and daughters of men, upon the face of the whole earth.
I shall now take some notice of the travel and progress, made by the subjects of this kingdom, towards the city of rest and peace; and of the treatment, interruptions and discouragements, which they have met with from the inhabitants and subjects of the other kingdom of darkness and confusion; which for your observation and information, I refer you to those few remarks I have gathered, for the most part, from my own knowledge and experience, and are as follows.
The discouragements we met with in our progress and travels were not only from open enemies, but from some who pretended to be traveling to the same country and city, as the spies did in the days of old, when the Israelites wore traveling under the conduct of Moses their leader, who sent out spies to discover the country. Num 6:2. Now of twelve that were sent, only two brought a good report, two honest men, Caleb and Joshua, men of another spirit than the rest: these encouraged the people, whereas the greatest number discouraged them, by telling them the inhabitants of the country were giants, the sons of Anak, and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight, Num 13:25-33. We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we, Num 13:31. The cities are walled and very great, Num13:28. And thus being betrayed and overcome with unbelief, a fear entered them: and these evil spies discouraged the people, and caused them to murmur against the Lord, and against Moses their leader. Num 13:32-33. But Caleb and Joshua, not being overawed with slavish fear of the sons of Anak, stilled the people, Num 13:30, and encouraged them, saying, Let us go up at once and possess it, for we are well able to overcome it. Only do not rebel against the Lord, neither fear you the people of the land: for they are bread for us, their defense is departed from them, and the Lord is with us; fear them not, Num 14:9. But those ten unbelievers, although they were made to confess, that the land flowed with milk and honey, Num 13:27, yet having begot unbelief in the people, they were all set against Caleb and Joshua, and bade stone them with stones, Num 14:10.
Now to make this relative as a comparison to our times, and our own native country, the nation of England; does it not run parallel with the practice we remember of the unfaithfulness of some, who pretended to some interest in spiritual Canaan, the land of rest and peace, promised to spiritual Israel, under the conduct of our spiritual Moses, Christ Jesus, who have brought an ill report [it cannot be possessed while alive] upon that good land, through their unbelief, and their being over-awed by slavish fear?
But the matter will differ here; those spies which brought an evil report upon the good land of Canaan outward, were yet sent by Moses; as were Caleb and Joshua. But those of our days, who have brought an evil report and endeavored to discourage spiritual Israel in their travel, have taken upon themselves to go; but they were never sent. Although they undertake to tell that the land is good, and that it flowed with milk and honey, as the unbelieving spies of old did; yet there is just cause to suspect they cannot give a description from any true knowledge of the country, having, it may be thought, never traveled one day's journey in it, nor gathered one cluster of grapes from the true and living vine, Christ Jesus.
But as in the days of old, the unbelieving spies discouraged the people, by representing to them, that the inhabitants of the land were giants, the sons of Anak, men great of stature, we are in our own sight but as grasshoppers. So these pretending spies in our days being overawed with slavish fear, tell of the sons of Anak, this and the other tall sin of lust and evil concupiscence, inhabitants of the land, who dwell in the heart and body of the country, and are great of stature. It is true the land is good, they say, and flows with milk and honey; but the inhabitants of sin and iniquity that dwell in it, are stronger than we, and the cities are great and walled with custom and long continuance; and moreover, we see there those mighty giants of pride, ambition, vain glory, love to the world, honor, riches, preferment, self-love, self-preservation, and self- interest; favor and friendship of great men. We cannot engage with these sons of Anak; alas! We are in our own sight as small as grasshoppers.
These have been, and are the false treacherous spies, who have withstood the valiant and true hearted in the spirit of Caleb and Joshua in our days, and who being overawed by unbelief and slavish fear in their own hearts, by this their evil report, have discouraged, and do discourage the people, and cause them to murmur and rebel against our spiritual Moses, Christ Jesus, who appears in the hearts of the sons of men in these days, to lead them out of spiritual Egypt, the land of bondage in sin and iniquity, into spiritual Canaan, the land of freedom, rest and peace.
When at any time the courageous spirit which dwelled in Caleb and Joshua, has arisen in any in our days, to encourage the people to engage and overcome their enemies, saying, the land is an exceeding good land, and if the Lord delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it us. Just don't rebel against the Lord, neither be afraid of the people of the land; their defense has departed from them, and the Lord is with us, fear them not, Num 14:7-9. Has not this been the language of the honest in the spirit of Caleb and Joshua in our day? But as then, they pleaded to stone those who said it could be done [killing them], so in like manner have these, like Caleb and Joshua, been treated in our time.
And the glory of the Lord appeared in the tabernacle of the congregation, before all the children of Israel, and the Lord said unto Moses, how long will this people provoke me? I will smite them with the pestilence, and disinherit them, Num 14:10-12. Who can deny that these things have been brought to pass in our days? But meek Moses sought the Lord, and pleaded with him, saying, "the Lord is long suffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression; I beseech you to pardon the iniquity of this people," Num 14:18-19. In like manner our spiritual Moses, Christ Jesus, has moved in the hearts of his suffering servants and children to pray for the forgiveness of their enemies; but the Lord said, those men who have seen my glory, and my miracles, and have tempted me, and have not hearkened to my voice, surely they shall not see the land, neither shall any of them that provoked me, see it, Num 14:22-24, except my servant Caleb, who had another spirit, and Joshua the son of Nun, Num 14:30.
I hope to God that the example and punishment which followed upon the Israelites of old, as the consequence of their murmuring and rebelling against God, may be weightily considered by all in this and succeeding generations, lest they be cut off as those Israelites were, and never allowed to enter the good land of promise, of peace and rest, under the conduct of our spiritual Moses, Christ Jesus, the light of the world, given for salvation to the very ends of the earth.
I pray to God that the consideration of the rewards, which attended faithful Caleb and Joshua, and the particular regard God had unto them, and how he signaled his favor in sparing them, when the carcasses of so great a multitude fell in the wilderness, and except Caleb and Joshua, none were allowed to enter the land of promise of those who were numbered from twenty years old and upward; may be as a motive to encourage the faithful to perseverance in their faithfulness to the end.
Now reflecting upon the various exercises, tribulations and afflictions which have attended us in our travail; and remembering also, the manifold deliverances, which God has mercifully wrought for us—I have made some short collections of both; and also taken notice, how from a small beginning, God has enlarged his sanctuary, and carried on his own work, through great opposition, by his own secret arm of power, to his own praise forever. The remembrance of which, being at this time fresh upon my mind, I cannot but recommend the same to the serious consideration of the reader; with an earnest breathing to God that he will be pleased, through his own divine Grace and Spirit, to incline many more to seek him, as he has done my soul; blessed be his name and power forever, and to love his appearance above all external objects, of whatever nature or kind, and that in simplicity of heart, they may give and ascribe all glory, honor, and praise to Him over all, as my soul does,
A BRIEF HISTORICAL ACCOUNT
Of my birth, parentage, and convincement of Truth.
I WAS born, according to my best calculation, the 5th day of the second month, called April, 1628, in a small village called Penton, by Weyhill, near Andover in Hampshire; my father was a substantial yeoman,* of good repute in the country, and well beloved of his neighbors. My mother was a religious woman, and had conversation among the people in that day called Puritans; she was very watchful over her children, to preserve us from committing any evil, either in word or action, and would often get us together, and be with us on our knees in prayer to God, sometimes in the day time, and sometimes in the night season, as she had opportunity. My father was taken from us in the prime of his years, leaving his children young. By reason of the wars which happened in England, with the unsettledness of our family by frequent removals, I was deprived of a great part of what fell to my share, by the will of my father; and by several interruptions was prevented of that education in grammar learning, which otherwise I might have enjoyed.
In the year 1646, I came to London, and found myself apprentice in Cornhill, near the Old Exchange. When I finished my apprenticeship, I settled myself, after some time, in Spread-Eagle-Court in Finch-Lane, near Cornhill before mentioned.
Now to speak something particularly, with respect to my own state and condition from my childhood. God was pleased in his abundant grace and favor, to place his witness near, even in my heart and conscience; so that when I was a child, I was preserved from many evils incident to youth, and an awe continued with me as I grew up. God often visited me in mercy, and preserved and delivered me from many great temptations and evils; for which my soul gives thanks and praise to his excellent name, in the continued remembrance of it.
As I increased in years, the Lord's care was over me, so that I did not accompany myself with the rude and extravagant youth of the times; but rather took pleasure in a sober sort of company, such as were religiously inclined. My desire and endeavors led me to hear such public preachers, who were most esteemed and followed by the most religious, as I could determine. I often wrote the sermons, and was sometimes greatly affected, and would return home in the time of my apprenticeship, retire myself, and offer up my prayers to God. But, alas! I did not know and consider that the Lord was so near to me, and that his visitations were as a hand held forth, or as the star, which the wise men followed, until they came where the child Jesus, given for the Saviour was, whom they fell down before and worshipped. Because I was ignorant, and not bowing to, and worshipping God in that appearance, or manifestation so near unto me, as I ought to have done; I knew little growth or increase of grace in my heart, or power over my affections and lusts. In this time of my ignorance of God being so near, I was sometimes overcome with sinful temptations, and vain objects too often prevailed upon me, which afterwards proved to be a burden and load upon my soul. Yet God in his great mercy did not cast me off, blessed be his name forever! With great patience and long suffering, He followed me with conviction and reproof.
In the year 1656, I came to be in some measure convinced of the everlasting Truth of God, revealed and made known to a despised people called Quakers; my mother and sisters having been before convinced in Gloucestershire, near to Bristol. For by a good hand of Providence, I was brought to some London meetings of the Quakers, of whom I had heard various reports; but when I heard for myself the testimony of Truth declared, it was to my outward ear as a very lovely song. Eze 33:32. But I did not feel the power working in my heart until it pleased the Almighty to touch it with that; who did by his power open my heart, and set my sins in order before me. Then, Oh then! I saw my woeful state and condition, although I was in a profession and form of religion, as before mentioned; and that salvation is only in and through Christ Jesus, the gift of God and light of the world, given of the Father for a Saviour unto the ends of the earth. Acts 13:47. Now I found him a God near at hand, a discoverer of the thoughts and intents of the heart, Heb 4:12; a Judge standing before the door, Jam 5:9; a reprover in secret, before whom I was made to bow and bend. He in mercy discovered my state and condition, and through the manifestation of his light and truth in my heart and conscience, showed unto me the way to escape the many snares and temptations by which I had been overtaken and captivated. Now did sin appear exceeding sinful, and the fire of God's jealousy was kindled in my soul, in the sense and feeling of which I travailed day and night, for months and years, and sometimes in the bitterness of my soul cried out, has God forsaken me? Is there no pardon or mercy for me? Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he in anger shut up his tender mercies? Psa 77:9.
In this travail, I was often assaulted by enemies within and without. I was sometimes exercised with fasts, and with watchings, my sleep being taken from me; my bread I ate with trembling, and my drink with complaining. Now my wandering mind was called home, and bounds set to that nature which had transgressed the righteous law of God; and when the floods compassed me about, and the depths closed around me Jonah 2:3,5, yet from there did I cry, and the Lord heard me, and delivered me. Then I was made sometimes in the sense and feeling of the mercies of the Lord and his goodness, to say, righteous are you, О God! And your judgments are true! And I further cried, О Lord, search me thoroughly; try my heart, and if iniquity is found in me, let the fire of your jealousy burn up and consume everything that is contrary to your holy will. Let not your eye pity, nor your hand spare, but in and through Christ Jesus, the only Mediator and Saviour, give me favor with you, and life eternal, whatever it costs. The Lord would sometimes visit me with his thunders, and earthquakes, and his judgments burning like fire in my soul, I have been made to cry out in the words of the prophet: Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire! Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings? Isa 33:14. The answer in my soul was, he who walks righteously, and speaks uprightly; he who despises the gain of oppressions. He shall dwell on high; his place of defense shall be the walls of fortification; bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure, Isa 33:15-16.
But the end of my journey to the land of rest was not here. I found a necessity to continue my travel, and get forward, for I saw that a distance is set between the time of planting seed and the time of harvest. The considerate husbandman does not expect to reap as soon as the seed is sown; but he waits the appointed seasons, through many storms and tempests, until the blade appears; and then the ear, and after that the full corn in the ear, Mark 4:28, according to the will of God. Even so the seed of the kingdom is sown in the good ground, Luke 8:8, the honest and good heart, which having heard the word, keeps it, and brings forth fruit with patience, Luke 8:15; he that believes, shall not make haste. Isa 37:16. Patience is a grace of a most excellent quality and extent; it gives a man power, for by and through it he obtains power to possess or enjoy his own soul in peace. Luke 21:19. Although it is wrought by or through tribulation; yet it is followed or accompanied with experience, and that with hope, which makes not ashamed, because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts, by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. Rom 5:4-5. Here is encouragement to press forward, although we are assaulted with temptations and sufferings, on the right hand, and on the left. Having put our hands to the plow, let us not look back, our happiness and everlasting enjoyments in the kingdom of God, depend upon our perseverance; he that holds out to the end shall be saved. Mat 10:22.
Whatever persecutions result; and affliction of many sorts and kinds, with the frowns of men, their contempt, disdain and reproach; though imprisonments, with many other sufferings and exercises may attend us, and all manner of evil be spoken against us, for the sake of Christ and the gospel, we ought not to despair or grow faint because of these things; for the crown of life everlasting will be the reward of all who hold their confidence unto the end, as such are made partakers of Christ's power and kingdom.
This I now declare in sincerity of heart, the things I write here are not the effects of what I have read, of the exercises and experience of others, mentioned and recorded in Scripture; but from the knowledge and experience of the power and operation of the same Spirit of Truth in my own soul, according to the measure given me of God, that I may encourage others, who may read these lines, to know and believe, that the Lord's arm is not shortened that he cannot save, nor his ear heavy that he cannot hear in this our day, even as in the days of old; but that he is the same through all generations. He is one, his name one, his spirit, his power, and his work one; his design is the same to all the sons and daughters of men; blessed be his holy arm of power over all forever.
There were inwardly fiery trials, and so the Lord permitted outward exercises to attend, such as imprisonments for not swearing; scoffs and revilings of men; and loss of goods by court seizure for a good conscience towards God, for not paying to the hireling priesthood, and for meeting with the people of God to worship him. It is in my mind to give some particular instances of all that was inflicted on me for the testimony of a good conscience and obeying the Truth. Through all the Lord supported me, and bore up my head, so that the storms and tempestuous floods of persecution did not prevail over me. God gave me power, strength and courage, to undergo with joy and gladness whatever he was pleased to permit and allow to come upon me. He preserved me from murmuring at his providence, or repining at the losses which evil minded men, through envy and rage, brought upon me because of my testimony to the Truth in those days. Although one suffering was added after another; yet God of his infinite mercy and favor, to whom be praises and thanksgiving forever, took from me all the worry and fear of what man could do to me; instead instilling a cry in my soul: О Lord! preserve me near unto yourself —let me never forsake you, nor turn my back from your law; let me never bring dishonor upon your holy name and truth, nor allow the same to be reproached through me, by my backsliding from you, or through an evil conversation of any sort or kind whatever. The Lord has mercifully had regard to my prayers, and to the present has kept me. To him let my soul forever give praise, honor and glory.
After the death of my first wife, by whom I had two children, a son and a daughter, in 1659 I married Ruth Brown, daughter of John Brown, and Ruth his wife, of Woodsreet, London. We first announced our intentions of marriage at a meeting of the people called Quakers, in Tower street, London; namely, at the house of Humphrey Bache. Sometime afterwards at a solemn meeting of a few Friends for that purpose, at my house in Finch-Lane, before mentioned, we took each other as husband and wife, by whom I had two sons and three daughters.
A narrative of the beginnings and progress of Truth, among us in this nation, and about the city of London:
THE first whom it pleased God to raise up in this latter age, as a chosen instrument in his hand, to bear witness to the spiritual appearance of Christ Jesus, the true Light, who lights every man coming into the world, was George Fox, who was like Ezekiel among the captives of Israel, who saw the visions of God. Ezek 1:4, And lo! A whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud and a fire unfolding itself, and a brightness was about it. God sent him to a rebellious nation, injudicious and stiff-hearted, and like briars and thorns, or as scorpions; yet God gave him courage, and he was undaunted at their words, nor dismayed at their looks; he was not rebellious like them, but opened his mouth, and did eat what God gave him; and he did eat the roll,* and his bowels were filled with that, and the Spirit lifted him up, and he went in bitterness in the heat of his spirit, but the hand of the Lord was strong upon him. Though God did not send him to a people of a strange speech, yet they would not heed him; but evilly entreated him, as their fathers did the prophets of old.
As to the place of his birth, and outward abode, and his conversation in the days of his youth, together with the dealings of the Lord, in preparing him for the work and service of his duty; and also the progress he made, the power and Spirit of God assisting him, in turning many sons and daughters from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan, to the living God; and further, also of the hard treatment and usage he had, and met with from the hands of wicked men, both magistrates and rulers, priests and people; for the account of these, I refer the reader to the journal of his life.
As the Lord had bowed his heart and spirit into a submissive frame, ready to obey his requirements; he was made willing to travel from one place to another, and from one country to another, where the Spirit of the Lord directed him. He preached repentance and salvation in and through Christ Jesus alone, the true light, and the Lord prospered the work he gave him to do, so that many were convinced, and turned to Christ Jesus the true light, made manifest in their own hearts and consciences, and were made ministers thereof unto others. Which testimony they published and declared in great fear and power, in cities, towns and counties of this nation, in markets, streets, and public places, in the concourse of the people, and in steeple-houses, or parish-churches so called; where they bore testimony against the hireling priests, and formal professors of religion, who were in an outward form, but knew not the power of God to make clean the inside of the cup and platter. Now was a time of great trouble, and some who were asleep came to be awakened, and according to the promise to the prophet Daniel of old, Chapter 12 many were made to run to and fro, and knowledge was and is increased, blessed be the Lord forever.
A particular account of each messenger and servant, whom it pleased God by his own immediate arm and power to raise up and send forth to publish this his gospel day to them, dawned, and shining forth upon the nations, I cannot undertake to give, the task being beyond my talent or capacity to perform. But as it pleased the great disposer of all things, according to his own good will and pleasure, to order his servants and hand-maids into many parts of this nation, so according to his own secret will and counsel, he moved in the hearts of many of his servants to visit foreign nations, as Holland and Germany, and other of those Eastern countries, and also the English colonies and plantations abroad. For particular accounts of all which, and of the services, labors, and travels they had, and underwent, and what progress Truth made by the ministration of the Spirit in and through them, and how they were received and treated, as also of the great sufferings and hardships they endured; more especially in New England, I refer the reader to a book entitled New England Judged, as also of the sufferings and travels of two of the Lord's hand-maids, namely, Catharine Evans and Sarah Cheevers, in the Isle of Malta.
About the beginning of the year 1654, some workings of the power of Truth came to be felt among some tender people in and about the city of London, and some few were convinced, and turned to the Lord. About this time, two women coming out of the north to the city, London, namely Isabel Buttery and her companion, who (by what Providence I cannot tell) became acquainted with Amos Stoddard, sometime a captain in the Parliament army, who when convinced of Truth, had left his command, and Simon Dring of Moorfields. These women had an epistle or testimony given forth by George Fox, directed To All That Would Know the Way to the Kingdom, whether they be in forms, without forms, or got above forms, to direct people to turn their minds within, where the voice of God is to be heard. Which epistle being printed, they dispersed abroad to such as would receive it. Isabel Buttery, and the other woman, being in company with Amos Stoddard and Simon Dring, walking in the fields towards Stepney, were overtaken by Ruth Brown, then about sixteen years of age, who afterwards became my wife, whom Isabel Buttery steadfastly looked on, and gave her one of the said printed epistles, in the reading of which she was convinced of the Truth, and added to the small number who did then believe. After this these women had private meetings at Robert Dring's house in Watling street, and at Simon Dring's in Moorfields, where they did now and then speak a few words. To these places my wife went with great expectation, and there met with Ann Downer, afterwards Ann Whitehead, a worthy young woman, who grew in Truth, and became an eminent instrument in the Lord's hand in her day, as does appear by many testimonies given of her by several men and women Friends after her decease, who were witnesses of her faith towards God, and service in his church. In the fifth month of this year, 1654, it pleased God to send two of his faithful messengers and able ministers to the city of London, namely Francis Howgill and Edward Burrough, who were the first that declared Truth publicly there, whom he made instruments in his hand for the gathering many, who like good old Simeon, were waiting for the consolation of Israel. Upon hearing the glad tidings of the gospel, the babe of life sprang in these, Luke 1:41, and they rejoiced even as by a measure of the same power and spirit, which moved the babe to spring in the womb of Elizabeth, upon the salutation of Mary, Luke 1:44. These could say, we have waited for him and we will be glad; and with good old Simeon, who when the child Jesus was brought into the temple, took him in his arms, and blessed God, saying, Now you let your servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen your salvation: a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel. Luke 2:28.
The Lord was pleased to visit a tender seed in and about the city of London, by these his chosen instruments; and as he opened the hearts of a remnant to receive the word of Life, and believe in it; such opened their doors for meetings in their houses, and for sometime it so continued, that they met from house to house. Now, having sounded an alarm, and proclaimed the great and notable day of the Lord, in the city and parts adjacent, the Lord moved them to visit the nation of Ireland, and when the time came for their departure, and leaving the city, a meeting was appointed at Robert Dring's in Watling street, there to take their leave of their friends and brethren; at which time there was great brokenness of heart, and the melting power of God was among them, which caused great sorrow, and abundance of tears to flow from the eyes of many tender plants. There are yet living as this writing witnesses, who were present, and in a fresh remembrance, give thanks and praise to God, with a single and upright heart.
In the time of their absence and stay in Ireland, the Lord was pleased to send others of his messengers and servants to the city of London, namely, Thomas Aldam, Christopher Atkinson, Richard Hubberthorn, George Fox, Alexander Parker, John Stubbs, Thomas Salthouse and some others, who published and declared the Word of the Lord freely. The meetings now continuing as before, and for sometime the meeting was held on the first-day of the week in the morning, at the house of Sarah Mathews, a widow in White Cross street, and in the afternoon part at Simon Dring's in Moorfields, and sometimes at Glaziers' Hall, and at the house of Sarah Yates a widow, in a court in Aldersgate street, where a meeting continues to this day.
The Lord having increased the number of his people, about this time, in the year, 1655, some part of an ancient great house, or building within Aldersgate, was taken for a meeting place, the other part of it, with a yard having previously been a public inn for carriages and travelers; which having for a sign the Bull and Mouth,* occasioned the meeting held there, to be known and distinguished by the name of Bull and Mouth, or bull-meeting, which was the first public meeting place taken and set a part for that service; where meetings were held on every first-day of the week, and on the fourth-day of the week, in the fore part of the day, and so continued until the 1666 dreadful burning of the city, when the meeting place was reduced to ashes.
Being now come to time, in some degree within my own knowledge and remembrance, namely, the year 1656, when I find the two before mentioned Friends, namely, Francis Howgill and Edward Burrough returned from Ireland, and frequenting the meetings in and about the city of London, where their service was very great. They were the apostles of this city in their day, by whom many were gathered, both sons and daughters, and were settled through the grace of God in the faith of the gospel, by the effective working of the word of Life through their ministry, and of others, the servants of the Lord, as before mentioned. The Lord opened the mouths of some of the inhabitants of this city to bear witness to the Truth now made known. The first of those who had a public testimony to bear, was Ann Downer before mentioned, who was followed by Richard Greenway, John Giles, Sarah Blackberry, Ann Gold, Rebecca Travers, Richard Davies, William Daily, Mary Booth, and some others. Those meetings which I found and frequented at my first convincement, were at the Bull and Mouth, at Sarah Yates's in Aldersgate street, at Humphrey Bache's, a goldsmith in Tower street, held on the first, and on the sixth- days of the week, both in the afternoon; and at the house of Gerard Roberts, in a street called Thomas Apostles; where traveling Friends sometimes stayed, who came out of the country upon the service of Truth, and there was also a meeting on the first-day of the week, in the afternoon. For some time at the house of Samuel Vaus in Basinghall street, a meeting was held on first-day, in the afternoon, and at the house of William Woodeock in the Savoy, a meeting was held on the first-day and on the fifth-day of the week, at which place meetings have continued unto this day. About this time also a meeting in the afternoon was set up at Horsleydown, in the house of a widow there. As the number of Friends increased, a piece of ground was procured to build a meeting house and accordingly a meeting house was built, and since enlarged, which still exists. There was also a meeting at Stepney, at the house of captain Brock, which continued there until about the year 1665, or 66, when it was replaced by a meeting settled at Ratcliff, where a meeting-house was built, and since enlarged, as it is at this day. We also had meetings on the first-day of the week at Worcester House in the Strand; where one Nicholas Bond had lodgings, who had a position or belonged to the court; he afterwards took lodgings at the great house at Greenwich, called the Palace. We had meetings there for some time. We also had some meetings at the house of Gobert Sikes in Hackney; and for sometime we had meetings in the Pall Mall near James's, at the house of Elizabeth Trott a widow. We also had meetings in the Palace yard, Westminster, at the house of Stephen Hart, both which last mentioned were discontinued, and a house was taken at Westminster for a meeting place, and so continues to this day.
In this year, 1656, or near that time, a meeting was set up in John's street, called the Peel meeting, which still continues there, and the meeting in Westbury street, bearing the name of Wheeler street meeting, which first began in and upper room in the house of John Oakly. When that meeting increased in number, another room was added; but the meeting still increased, and both rooms being too small, the meeting was sometimes held outdoors, and afterwards a tent covered with canvas, or sail cloth, was set up in the garden, where the meeting was kept for some small time, until a meeting house was erected there, which has been since enlarged for the convenience of the meeting. About this time also, meetings were set up at Hammersmith, Hendon, Kingston, Wansworth, Barking, Ham, since at Plaistow, and at Waltham Abbey.
During which time and season, the Lord in a plentiful manner did shower down his blessings and favors upon his heritage, in and about the city of London, and places adjacent, by sending many of his messengers and servants to visit them, to water and refresh his plantation, that they may grow and flourish and bring forth fruit to his praise, namely: George Whitehead, William Dewsbury, Stephen Crisp, John Crook, Josiah Coale, Samuel Fisher, John Whitehead, Richard Farnsworth, George Fox the younger, and many others, whom he fitted and prepared for his work and service in their day. These published deliverance by and through repentance to poor captive souls enslaved in sin, through the lusts of the flesh reigning in their mortal bodies, through the temptations of Satan.
The many meetings which were set up and added in these years are sufficient testimonies to the progress Truth made by the messengers and servants of the Most High, and how it pleased the Great God to prosper his own work, through such, whom he had chosen, and made faithful laborers and ministers, in the word and doctrine of the Gospel, whereby many more were brought to believe in, and return to the Great Bishop and Shepherd of their souls, Christ Jesus the true Light. Although with great love and good will to their countrymen and neighbors, they did thus labor and travel in many parts of this nation, as well as the city of London, and parts adjacent, and were gladly received by many well disposed people; yet they were often evilly entreated by the wicked, and as the primitive Christians were of old, sometimes beaten, stoned and imprisoned; and everywhere they were evilly spoken of. The people were often in uproars and tumults, when the servants or messengers of God were sent among them; even like the Jews of Thessalonica, who when Paul preached to them, and reasoned with them out of the Holy Scriptures, of the sufferings and resurrection of Jesus, and that he was the Christ. As it was then, even so now, those that believed not, Acts 17:5, lewd fellows of the baser sort, did gather together and assault houses, and bring Friends there met before the rulers, crying, "These that have turned the world upside down, have come here also," Acts 17:6. Many of the priests and hireling teachers often incensed the rulers, for fear their craft, by which they get their wealth, would become void.
From the year 1654, in the time of Oliver Cromwell, who died in 1658, and from then to 1660, the sufferings and exercises of many of the people of God called Quakers, were great and manifold, although no law was enacted against us in that time. Yet besides the sufferings inflicted by the rude people, we were made great sufferers by the magistrates and rulers, and that only for the sake of a good conscience towards God. Some were imprisoned for refusing to swear; some for using the plain and proper language of thou and thee to a single person; and others for wearing their hats, and not putting them off when brought before magistrates. In courts of judicature, they were both fined and imprisoned; some for not paying tithes to the hireling priests; for testifying against the priests, and their formal worship; and for publishing and declaring the day of the Lord in steeple houses, markets, etc.
Although the enemy of our peace and prosperity prevailed over some particular persons, who made a pretence for a time among us; yet the Lord was pleased to preserve a remnant steadfast in the Truth, and who turned neither to the right hand or the left, but their minds and hearts were kept upright to the Lord, over all the devices of Satan within, and the malice of enemies without.
After the taking of the house, called the Bull and Mouth for a meeting place, as before mentioned, the ancient men Friends about the city sometimes met together, numbering eight or ten with others occasionally added; they met in an upper room belonging to the place, there to consult about and consider of the affairs of Truth, and to communicate to each other what the Lord opened in them, for the promotion thereof; and also to make such provision to supply all necessary occasions which the service of the church might require.
Some ancient women Friends also began meeting together to consider what pertained to them; as their most immediate care and concern, to inspect the circumstances and conditions of such who were imprisoned upon Truth's account, and to provide things to supply their needs. Whatever might more immediately concern men Friends, the women would acquaint them with; and all was done in great love and unity, no jar or discord among them, no repining or murmuring; but a sweet harmony and agreement was preserved in all things. These women did also inquire into, and inspect the wants and necessities of the poor, who were convinced of the Truth; and they did not sit until the cry of the poor came to their houses; but where they supposed or discovered a need of help, their charity led them to inquire into their conditions, and to minister to their necessities.
Thus in the infancy of the church things were carried on with cheerfulness and brotherly kindness. All whisperings and backbitings were shut out, and love and good will to all were promoted and cherished.
Afterwards as Truth grew and prospered, and many came to be added to the faith, and the meetings came, through the providence of God, to be settled in that order and method as at this day.
Of the coming in of King Charles II and what ensued thereupon.—
In the fifth month of 1660, King Charles II returned to England. This was a time when the waters swelled mightily and overflowed the banks, the winds blew, and the sea raged; for the people were in an uproar and disorder, and had great expectations, that now they would have the opportunity to destroy and lay waste the whole heritage of God. I cannot forget the roaring, swearing, drinking, reveling, debauchery, and extravagance of that time, with the menaces and threats of the rabble against all sobriety, and against religious people and their meetings, which they expected would be totally suppressed and brought to nothing.
Soon after the king's return, he was sent several letters, written in great love and good will to him, and his council, from several servants of the Lord, of the people called Quakers, who were moved to do so by the spirit of his Son. These letters admonished and counseled him in the fear of the Lord to avoid those judgments which had fallen upon the preceding rulers, who following the advice of evil counselors, had persecuted the people of God. This wholesome counsel found little or no place in his heart; although upon Richard Hubberthorn's delivering the letter written by George Fox the younger to him, called "A noble salutation, and a faithful greeting, unto you Charles Stuart, now proclaimed king.” He promised that no one would be molested or called in question for their opinions in religion, as long as they did not disturb the peace of the kingdom. Yet he had little or no regard to his promise. Although not one of the people called Quakers was ever found in any plot or contrivance against the king and government; nor could in any wise be suspected in the least of any confederacy, or combination of evil against him or the government; yet a law was soon made to banish us out of our native country, for the exercise of a good conscience towards God, and meeting together to worship Him, according to our persuasions.
The prosecution of this law was very severe and cruel, for many were arrested at our peaceable religious meetings in and around the city of London, and elsewhere, and actually banished, and sent out of their native country. Husbands were banished from their wives, fathers from their children, and house-keepers from their habitations and families, for no other cause than as before mentioned; and thus the king violated his promise.
During this persecution, the sufferings of the Lord's people in this city and elsewhere in the nation were great. In many places the jails were filled with the innocent; but the Lord was always near to preserve them, and to keep up their heads, so that the water floods did not overwhelm them. He supported them with strength, he opened the springs of Life, he made them to drink of the brook by the way, and refreshed their weary souls; so that they did not faint, nor become dismayed. Everlasting honor and praise be given to His excellent name forever.
Among the many others, who were at this time shut up in nasty holes and prisons in this city, was that eminent and worthy servant of the Lord, Edward Burrough; of whom I think myself obliged to say something in particular with respect to that spiritual relation in which I stood to him, even as a child to a father; upon which account he was very dear to me. I loved and honored him in the Lord, and for the Truth's sake. I had an opportunity many times to converse with him, and wrote several things from him, as he dictated them, which were since printed in the collection of his works. Though still young, he was a man of undaunted courage. The Lord set him above the fear of his enemies, and I have beheld him filled with power by the Spirit of the Lord. For instance, at the Bull and Mouth, the very large room had been filled with people, who were in an uproar, contending one with another; some exclaiming against the Quakers, accusing and charging them with heresy, blasphemy, sedition, etc.; that they were deceivers, and deluded the people; that they denied the Holy Scriptures, and the resurrection. Others were attempting to vindicate them, and were speaking of them more favorably. In the midst of all which noise and contention, this servant of the Lord stood up on a bench, with his bible in his hand, (for he typically carried), and spoke to the people with great authority from the words of John 7:12. There was much murmuring among the people concerning him, namely, Jesus, for some said, he is a good man; others said, no, but he deceives the people. So suitable to the present debate among them, that the whole multitude were overcome by the similarity, and became very calm and attentive, and departing peaceably, and with seeming satisfaction.
As his service was great in this city, so he had a share in suffering also. In the year 1662, he was taken from a meeting at the Bull and Mouth before mentioned, and committed to Newgate prison, where after sometime he fell sick, and in a few months finished his course, being gathered to his fathers, the generation of the just.
When God sent the prophet Ezekiel against the rebellious house of Israel, he fitted and prepared him for the work and service he sent him to do, Eze 3:7-9. Behold I have made your face strong against their faces, and your forehead strong against their foreheads, as an adamant, harder than flint, have I made your forehead; fear them not, neither be dismayed at their looks, though they be a rebellious house.
Even so it pleased Almighty God, to fit and prepare this his servant, and many others in that day, and to give them boldness and courage, that they feared not the face of man, nor were dismayed at their looks; but the cause of God was more to them than all the world, and the glory thereof. The truth of which does manifestly appear from what is here related; and that the cause in which they were engaged, was the cause of God, is evident from that special assistance of his Spirit and power which did accompany them.
The first distress [seizure by law] that was made upon my goods, was on the 19th of the fourth month, 1600, for repair of the parish church of St. Bennet Fink, so called, by John Steeventon, Joseph Munday, and Leonard Doe, who took from me a tapestry carpet, which cost three pounds and ten shillings. They demanded thirty four shillings, and about half a year after they returned eighteen shillings; so they retained beyond their demand eighteen shillings.
About the same time I was cited by virtue of a process to appear at Christ church, so called, to answer to the presentments of the church wardens; and for not appearing, I was excommunicated, as I was informed, but no further proceedings were then against me. But not long after, in the year 1661, I was chosen a scavenger [street cleaner of sewage] by the neighborhood in Broad street ward, and being summoned to Guild Hall among other ward officers, an oath was tendered me. Since I refused to swear, I was committed to the Poultry compter, [a small prison] where I remained a prisoner about eight days. For refusing to pay prison fees, and garnish money, as the prisoners called it, I was shut up in the hole among the common poor prisoners, where I had no lodging. I also had little room to walk' when the prisoners were locked up in the night season, many of them sleeping on the floor with a piece of timber under their heads for their pillow. Upon application to the then mayor, John Frederick, I was set at liberty. I then had an assignment delivered to me, to collect the money rated upon housekeepers, in order to keep the streets clean, and carry the soil [sewage] away, and was persuaded to give my bond to collect the same, which was an imposition, it not being customary, and to pay the raker, who carried away the soil.
But to my great surprise about three months after being arrested, I was sued by the parish called St. Bennet Fink, who had without precedent, I think, obtained my bond to collect the scavengers' roll. As I was told, the bond was for tithes,or salary for their priest, named Samuel Clark. So I was made prisoner in the Poultry compter a second time. I continued this confinement about one year and three quarters; but through favor of the jailer, I had some liberty to be at home to look after my business, after two months, or thereabouts, from my first commitment, paying only my chamber rent, which was three pence a night.
While I was thus confined, I wrote to the priest Samuel Clark, and accused him as the cause of my imprisonment, or that at least it was for his sake I was committed, and I sent him the queries following:
Query I. Since tithes were commanded by God, and were only to be given to the Levitical priesthood, and since tithes were intended to aid the fatherless, widow and strangers with a share in them, why were they not given a share? Or, how can priests dare to persecute and sue at the law for tithes, and yet not give or distribute to others, who have by the same law a share due, equal to the priest’s share? And is not the offence as great in you, in that you detain the share from the fatherless, widow and strangers, as in those who detain tithes from you, and if they are worthy imprisonment, are not you by the same rule worthy of imprisonment also?
II. Whether or not tithes, being proper and pertaining only to the tribe of Levi only, have you any right to them, or can you lay claim by or according to a lineal succession; or if not so, have you then any right at all to them?
III. Whether or not tithes, being by Divine institution originally, and appointed for a certain use; if they are by corrupt men converted to other uses, different than they were at first appointed, is it lawful to pay them; or at most, is it an offence to refuse? Or in whom is the offence greater, in those that refuse to pay them, or in those who do, without right, receive them, and convert them to a wrong use?
IV. Seeing tithes were appointed to men performing such services as were under the law; do those who do not perform the same service have any right to them? Or if that service is at an end, ought not the pay for that service be at an end also? Or how dare any to receive pay, appointed for work, and not perform the work for which the pay was appointed?
V. Whether or not, is not the offence of those, who do not perform the work and yet demand and persecute for the pay, greater than those, who know that both the work and also the pay have been ended by the same power which first constituted it, that therefore refuse to pay tithes! Or in whom is the offence greater; in those who deny the pay regarding the nature of the work, or in those who deny the nature of the work, for which they demand pay?
VI. Whether or not, the whole work at first appointed ought not to be performed, if any part of it ought to be performed? Or how come a part of it is to be laid aside, and the rest retained? How can the wages be retained, or due, when the work has ceased.
VII. Whether, if it is in one man's power to pick the work, or perform only a part of it, or even none at all, might it not be in another man's power to withhold the pay, pay but a part or none at all; or is non-performance in one, no offence, and yet non-payment in the other, an offence worthy of prison?
VIII. And if it can be proved, that the law which commanded tithes, and under which it was an offence to withhold them, was by Christ Jesus ended, before ever tithes were paid in England; can then a proof remain, or ground for argument be, that they are lawfully paid, or honestly or reasonably demanded in this nation?
IX. If it is proved, they are at this day of human invention, and by corrupt tradition required and made payable in this nation; and that they are of the Pope's ordaining, erecting and constituting, is it not high time they were totally eliminated in England, where the Pope is protested against to be anti-christian, and his doctrines erroneous ?"
The 26th of the fifth month, 1662
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