The Missing Cross to Purity

The Life of William Dewsbury


William Dewsbury's Address to Oliver Cromwell.

Site Editor's Comments: When Cromwell was a general in the army of the parliament, fighting against the King's army in a bloody civil war, just before the critical battle of Dunbar, he publicly promised God that "if he were victorious over his enemies, he would abolish tithes, or else let him be rolled into his grave with infamy." Winning the battle, his forces took King Charles-I captive, and assumed the government. Cromwell was made the head of the new government, and soon forgot his promises to God. Even worse, knowing the Quakers were a godly people, he let the Puritans and Presbyterians severely persecute their rivals — the Quakers, in order to secure his position.

THUS said the Lord God of heaven and earth to you, Oliver Cromwell, called Lord Protector.

Why do you slight my counsel, and harden your heart against it, which I declare to you by my sons and daughters, and is witnessed in your conscience by my word in you, which called on you to trust no longer in the 'arm of flesh,' nor seek great things for yourself, as those did, whom I drove out before you in my wrath and destroyed in my fury, and the fearfulness of my displeasure consumed them? And I have given power into your hand, who promised me in the day of your distress, that if I would deliver you in that day, and give you power over all who stood up against you, then would you take away all those unrighteous laws, which are contrary to my righteous law in the conscience, which were made by those I drove out before you; and that my children should not be persecuted any more by any outward law, but have free liberty to declare my mind, as I moved them by my Spirit.

And into your power I have committed what you required of me, that you might perform your promises to me. And now I have tried you; and in this day of your trial, you have proved unfaithful to me and to my people, and no truth have I found in you in this day, so as to perform your promises to me; but contrary to them all, have you improved the power put into your hand, to seek great things for yourself, and have set up yourself in the pride of your heart, to rob me of my glory, in taking upon you to be Lord Protector of my people, when, contrary to your fair words and promises, you by your power establishes those laws by which my people always were and are persecuted; which laws uphold this filthy and abominable thing in my sight: the heads over them judge for reward, and the priests teach for hire, and you with them lean upon me, saying, 'Is not the Lord among us? no evil shall come upon us,' as the wicked generation did, Micah 3:11, those rebellious people whom I destroyed before you, who made those laws you have established, contrary to all your fair words and promises. I preserved you in your obstinate and wicked walking before me, setting yourself on high, seeking your own glory. You trust in the arm of flesh to protect you in the ways you live in; but, since you have abused the power I put into your hand, I have corrected you by the arm of my power, to let you see that all policy and strength of men cannot deliver you forth from my hand. When you were near to destruction, I appeared, as I had done in all the times of your distress, your Lord Protector; and in my tender love delivered you by the arm of my mighty power, when none could help you, that you might fear me, and lay your crown in the dust before me, and give glory to my name, in denying yourself, and performing your promise to me, who am a dreadful God, and will not be robbed of my glory. But since I delivered you, you still, like proud Pharaoh, harden your heart against me, and continue in your obstinacy, in upholding these unrighteous laws you promised to take away, by which my children are persecuted, and the hands of the wicked are strengthened against them.

Yet, despite all your wickedness and rebellious walking before me, in love to your soul I have preserved you to this day, and still do wait upon you to be gracious and merciful to you, if you will still return to my counsel, and diligently hearken to it, the light in your conscience, which witnesses against the pride of your heart and loftiness of your spirit, and calls you to perform your promises made to me in the day of your distress, in speedily taking away the unrighteous laws by which my people are persecuted, who are guided by my righteous law in their conscience; that they be no more given up as sheep to the slaughter, for declaring my word and mind to the people, as they have been and are in this nation; but that they may have free liberty, and be persecuted no more by any outward law, for declaring what I make known to them by my Spirit. Thus, if you return unto me, that I may guide you by my power, as is declared, then will I heal your backslidings, and deliver your soul forth of the pit of corruption, and bring it into my banqueting house, where you shall drink of the rivers of pleasure that are in my presence, where your soul shall be forever with my dear children in the purchased inheritance that shall never fade away:—and this shall be the portion of your cup. I once more offer to you, if you will speedily return, while my arm is stretched forth to embrace you in this day of your visitation; and if you will not hearken to my counsel, but like proud Pharaoh still harden your heart against it, and continue in your pride and obstinacy as you have done,—know this, my Spirit shall not always strive with you, but I will hasten the day of my righteous judgments upon you, and the arm of flesh upon which you trust and lean, to uphold and protect you where you are, shall be to you as the broken reeds of Egypt, that shall break to pieces, and torment and wound you. I will get my glory upon you in breaking you down in my wrath and fierce displeasures, and none shall deliver you out of my hand, which will speedily perfect my pleasure upon you. For the time is not long before I accomplish what I have spoken, unless you repent; and you shall know your destruction is of yourself, and your blood shall be upon your own head, and you shall confess my judgments to be true and righteous to all that hear of it, that they may be warned by you to fear and walk humbly before me, in the day that I do this, said the Lord of Hosts!

P.S. The word of the Lord I was commanded by him to write to you; and after it had been written, it was taken from me by one Thomas Pentlow, called justice of the peace, at the town of Wilby, in Northamptonshire. Yet, in the love of God to your soul, I am again ordered by him to make known his counsel to you, that you might not be ignorant of his mind towards you, what he has made known to me, who am a lover of your soul, and known to the world by the name William Dewsbury, prisoner in Northampton jail, for the word of God and testimony of Jesus Christ.

William Dewsbury

1st of the 10th month, 1654

Site Editor's Comments: But because Cromwell ignored this warning and many other Quakers' warning messages from God to him, he died in office. Later his corpse suffered the indignity of being dug up, hung on the gallows, and beheaded, with his head displayed on a pike at Westminster Hall. Remember Cromwell's promise to God was before the battle of Dunbar that "if he were victorious over his enemies, he would abolish tithes, or else let him be rolled into his grave with infamy." Not only did Cromwell fail to abolish tithes, he let thousands go to prison for failure to pay tithes. He was warned many, many times by a patient God, whose anger is slow to kindle.

Address to King Charles the Second.

OH, KING! hear the word of the Lord God, which came unto me about the sixth hour in the morning of the 20th day of the 3rd month, 1661.

Thus said the Lord through his servant, Oh! fear and dread the name of the eternal God, who has created and preserved you, by the arm of his mighty power, and saved you in the hollow of his hand, in the day of your great distress, when he corrected that family and all the nation, that they might walk humbly before him. And those who did humble themselves before him, his presence did appear with them; but when they departed from the lowliness of his Spirit, and promised fair things, and did not perform in the uprightness of their hearts, according to their words, though they were never so invincible for strength, and clothed with policy and wisdom of this world, the Lord has, and will break them down by the arm of his mighty power, and he catches them in their own craft, and overthrows them in their own devices, and not any can deliver themselves out of his mighty hand. He breaks them as the potsherds of the earth, and makes their names to rot and perish among men, and stink in the nostrils of the upright in heart. Thus he sets up, to try man if he will give him glory of his works; and when he kicks against him, his Maker, he breaks him down in his wrath, and overthrows him in his fierce displeasure. This is the work of the mighty God, who has preserved you in safety, while destruction and calamity was on every side; that now you have seen a cloud of witnesses before your eyes; in this day you are set on the throne, wherein he is trying and proving you, that you may by what you have seen, dread his name, and wait in his counsel, the light of his Spirit, which is his law in your heart and conscience, that lets you see you are but dust. If you watch unto it, and wait upon him in it, you will see the secret evil of your heart; if you look up to him in the light of his Spirit, and in the uprightness of your heart judge the evil in you with his light, and in it wait on him to be guided in the true lowliness and humility of his Spirit, to seek alone his glory, and nothing for yourself, but wait upon him to be an instrument in his hand, that he may govern and order you in all his ways; then will he enlighten your understanding, and seal unto you his secret counsel, and give you to see through all that profess his name and know him not, and what his true worship is.

He will let you see what is idolatry, and what is the worship which his presence shall accompany all that are found faithful therein, and which he will defend with his power against all opposers; and none shall prosper that devise mischief against those who are faithful to him, in this his worship which is declared to you to be pure obedience to his Spirit, which cleanses the heart and purifies the conscience. This is his worship he has determined in his unchangeable and heavenly decree to establish in the earth, and over all nations it shall stand; he shall scatter all as dust, that seek to oppress his people, and resist the rising of his glory, and you shall certainly know the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken it.

If you turn your mind within, to his counsel in you, and in diligent watchfulness incline your ear to his pure Spirit, that calls for righteousness in your heart and conscience, and be obedient with boldness to walk in the strait way of the daily cross, and deny the evil that accompanies the day, and answer his requirements, what he makes known unto you; then will he guard you with the power of his heavenly and dreadful presence, and will make you a terror to evil doers, that a liar or an unclean person shall not be found in your house, nor any worker of iniquity shall be able to stand before you; he will clothe you with wisdom, and you shall be able to judge all causes that are brought before you in righteousness.

Then will you put away all sports, plays, pastimes, drunkenness, uncleanness, and whatever grieves his Spirit, forth of your sight, and cleanse the land of it, through your faithful walking with God, who has made you a son of affliction from your youth, that you might learn to fear his name; which if you do, he will make you a terror to all nations round about, that devise mischief against you; the angels of his presence will pitch their tents about you, you standing in his counsel, and giving liberty to his sons and daughters, as he moves them by his Spirit, to walk in his service.

He is the mighty God that requires this of you, that you do not lay a bond upon the spirits of his people in matters of worship, as to force all to one uniformity; for you have seen before your eyes, that the kings and princes of this world, who have sought so to do, have brought much innocent blood upon them, who have been seeking by their outward power to establish Zion with blood, and Jerusalem with iniquity. Thus have his people been slain from day to day, in the nations that have been building Babel, in whom is found the blood of the saints and martyrs of Jesus, and all that is slain upon the earth; for whose sake he is now risen, to plead the cause of those that fear him, and walk humbly before him.

And this he requires of you, in all things to mind his law in your heart, to do unto others as you would be done unto, if you were in their places and they in yours; and let mercy be found in your hands to all people, (as you have found mercy at the hands of the Lord), yes to your enemies; and, in what you may, live in peace with all men. In all your undertakings seek not for yourself, but let the glory of God be the object of your mind, and wait to feel his hand leading you in what you do; which if you stand in his counsel, to do as he requires of you, to mind your place and to keep the people in peace, and punish sin and wickedness, and give free liberty for the Lord, with his Spirit to rule in the consciences of his people, as he orders them to meet in his fear, and witness forth his mind where he leads them, without restraint, and no more to be given like lambs to the slaughter, and driven to prison like sheep to the fold, but to have free liberty in their peaceable lives to serve him their God;—then will he raise his name in your father's house, and make you a nursing father unto his people, and you shall partake of the blessings with them that fear him, and all the world shall be amazed to hear of his dreadful appearance for his people that obey his Spirit in this nation, which shall convince both Jew and Gentile, that the mighty God is risen to manifest his power to them that fear him in this nation and these northern countries. The day is very near, wherein it shall be no more said, "The Lord lives, who brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt;" but, "The Lord lives who brought up and led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country."

Oh King! let his goodness constrain you, and all your family, to humble yourselves before him; what could he have done for you more than he has done? Has he not been your relief in your greatest straits? Now let his goodness engage you to answer what he requires of you; then will he make you one of the number of his elect and chosen, and your days will be full of gladness, and your soul shall live forever in the kingdom of glory with all the redeemed who are led with his Spirit. But, if you reject his counsel, his law in your heart, and not regard his Spirit in your inward parts, but hearken to the counsel of your own heart, and the wit and policy of the spirit of this world, and so set up yourself on high, and rob God of his glory;—and give up his people, as they have been, to be pulled out of their peaceable meetings, and haled to and fro, as sheep that are slaying all the day long, in tumults, distresses, afflictions, stonings, stripes, prisons, and death;—and set up proud covetous men, that know not God, to be teachers in the land, which draw people into idolatry, worshipping they know not what; so, the blind leading the blind, they both fall into great wickedness, which grieves the Spirit of God, and the liberty which is given to plays, sports, and pastimes, which draw people into drunkenness, uncleanness, and great abomination; and if they are not reformed by you, but allowed to go on as they have been;—this will be your portion:— as he has multiplied on you his mercies to the astonishment of the people and nations round about, so will he stretch out the arm of his power against you, and get himself the glory, in his mighty judgments, which shall be revealed in the great and terrible day of his fierce wrath, wherein he will cleanse the land of all who rob him of his glory, and reject his counsel, the light of his Spirit in their consciences, and you shall certainly know the mouth of the Lord has spoken it through his servant, who, in faithfulness to your soul, oh King, has not hidden the counsel of God from you, but greatly desires your eternal welfare, and in patience waits, that righteousness may be established in the earth, who is known by name, William Dewsbury, prisoner at the date hereof in the common jail at York, for the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.

P.S. Before this could be sent unto you with a private and safe hand, I was set at liberty, with some other of my brethren, by your late proclamation, which we own as an act of justice. Now, if you let bonds be no more laid upon the consciences of the people of God, but, as before written, they may serve their God in free liberty of his Spirit; you will then find a hiding-place in this terrible day of vengeance, which will be manifest in England, and so to the astonishment of all the world. For not any man that lives contrary to God, but he shall roar under the heavy judgments of the fiery wrath of the Lamb of God, whom the Father will reveal in flames, rendering vengeance upon all that know him not, and obey not the gospel of Jesus Christ. For God will make England as the garden of Eden, and wickedness shall not reign therein; then shall it be a blessing to all nations; and you shall know assuredly, that he is faithful and true who has revealed these things to his servant, that desires your everlasting felicity and happiness in your obedience to Christ Jesus, the Light, who lights every man that comes into the world; and now is the Father revealing him, to judge every one according to the deeds done in the body.

William Dewsbury

A general Epistle given forth from the Spirit of the Lord, to be read in his fear in the assemblies of the Church of the first-born, gathered in these northern countries, and in all countries and islands where- ever the people of the Lord are scattered over the face of the earth.

Dear Friends,

CALLED in the light of the Lord to stand living witnesses for him upon the earth among the children of men:

Oh! the bowels of the love of the Lord which is in my heart to you, that when I was near to death, to the sight of all that saw me, as to the outward man, and scarcely able to speak, I was constrained to give forth the substance of what is now sent among you, for a perfect discovery of your conditions. Seeing that many are called and few chosen, and many convinced who are not converted; therefore are these lines written, that you may truly know whether you are born again, and redeemed from the earth, yes or no.

Regarding that, let every man and woman search their hearts with the light of the Lord, and it will truly manifest whether you are born again, and so feed upon the tree of life, or whether you rest in outward formal conformity to the Truth, having the heart in the earth, for that spirit will turn against Truth, as it has done. Some others are drawn to delight their hearts in the gifts, parts, and knowledge, which the Lord has given them, more than in the Lord, the fountain from where they come; and so abuse the gift, and feed upon the fruit of the tree of knowledge, which puffs up and makes man wise in his own eyes, and to say in his heart,—'I am wise and rich, and see, and lack nothing,' when they are blind, miserable, naked, and need all things. Whatever any profess, as to the service of God, who are in this condition, they have an end to themselves in what they do, which grieves the Spirit of the Lord, when men and women in a talkative spirit take upon themselves to declare the Truth, when the Lord neither calls them, nor speaks by them; so the children born of the royal seed are burdened, (for such have turned against the Truth, and the children born of it), whom the Lord has and will ease in the day determined, when all mouths shall be closed in silence, except those that are opened by him, and not any voice is heard, except his own Spirit speaking in and through his own children, born of him, who alone seek his glory, and not anything for themselves, which must be denied. Therefore, seeing the enemy's wiles are great and many, let all dread the Lord; and those who have been led astray, wait in the heart-searching light, to see where the mystery of iniquity led them forth, and return to the light, to judge down proud exalted self which has turned against the Truth, and to bring into true poverty and abhorring of self; waiting at the throne of grace, for the Lord to raise you up in the resurrection which raised up Jesus from the dead; and in this life, contentious self is buried in death, and the true unity is known, where the Lord alone is exalted in purity, joy, love, and peace in all his, from the least to the highest growth, and all flesh is abased before him, who is worthy of all obedience, praise, and glory forever, Amen.

And all dear Friends and Brethren who love the light, and rejoice in the judgments of the Lord, to have subtle self buried in the true death, that whatsoever gifts of the Spirit the Lord gives unto you, and the enemy tempts you ever so strongly to puff you up in a self-priding spirit, in what you have received of the Lord; yet his fear is so minded by you, which keeps you in a true sense of your nothingness and emptiness in yourselves, which causes you to wait in true self-denial, for the daily assistance, and renewal of your strength in the resurrection of life in the Lord Jesus; and the more he manifests his power with you, the more empty and nothing you appear in your own eyes. So is the true birth known, which makes self of no reputation, that the Lord may be exalted in his unlimited power, in manifesting himself in the poverty, emptiness, and nothingness of his people who are born of him, that no flesh may glory before him; but that all in truth say,—'The Lord does all in me, and through me, and the Lord shall have the glory; and I will sit in the dust at his feet with all my brethren and sisters, to serve him, (through whom we are raised up to sit in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus), and to serve his people, in what I may, while I have a being among the sons of men, to the glory of his name forever.' This is the state of the true disciples of Christ, who cannot feed on the fruit of the tree of knowledge; although in your journey and travels, dear vessels of the Lord, you see the tree of knowledge to be good, where it stands in its place, but the fruit is not good to eat and feed upon because knowledge puffs up, but grace makes humble.

Therefore, dear Brethren and Sisters, born of God, who cannot live in any enjoyment, but as you enjoy the life and presence of God, from where every good and perfect gift comes; and, dear lambs, although some of you are, in your own eyes, the poorest among the people of the Lord; yes, sometimes your trials are so great, that you are ready to account yourselves unworthy to be numbered among the people of the Lord, and yet you dare not disobey him, neither can you live without his presence.—Oh, you dear children of God! Lift up your heads over all temptations and accusations of the enemy for your groans and cries are entered into the ears of the Lord God, who in the bowels of his love and mercies constrains me to proclaim the day of the tender compassion of the Lord, to all you who are truly poor in your spirits. Oh! Blessed are you among the children of men, for yours is the kingdom of God;—therefore be not weary of waiting upon the Lord for in his own time he will turn your sorrows into joy, and give to you the spirit of praises for the spirit of heaviness, as he has done to many who have endured the like temptations, trials, and sufferings, under which you wait this day for deliverance; and the Lord will be the same to you. Therefore be of good comfort; for as the serpent was lifted up in the wilderness, so is the Son of Man lifted up in the light and covenant of life, to heal your wounds, and save you from sin, and to give you victory over the enemy in all his appearances; so that you, through faith in the name of Christ, making war in righteousness, and fighting the good fight in keeping the faith, will be made more than conquerors through his love that he will shed abroad in your hearts, which will cause you to speak of his goodness, and praise his name for all his mercies.

All dear children of the Lord, who witness in measure that you are truly baptized into his death, and so are made partakers of his resurrection, as is before written, which is the life that worships him according to his own will, and so is truly accepted of him,—watch and pray, that you may be guided in the power of his Spirit in all your ways. Be careful that not any be hasty to utter words before the Lord, neither suffer any sighs or groans, or anything to be heard to pass through you, but as you have the seal of the Spirit of the Lord, that he requires it of you; this I am commanded to lay as a charge upon you, that so all flesh may be truly silent before the Lord, and not any voice be heard, but the living Spirit of the Lord speaking in his people, which, you that wait in the fear of the Lord, and mind his leadings, may truly know; as it is written, so do his children witness,—'He that has my word, said the Lord, let him speak my word faithfully; is not my word like a fire and a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?' Therefore, all mind to feel the word of the Lord speaking in you, that the pure burning life of the Spirit may be tasted and felt in whatsoever you be exercised in, that so you may be fully assured it is not your own work, as man speaking of God, but the Lord alone uttering his own voice in the forcible power of his own Spirit, in what you are exercised in, whether it be to pray in sighs, or groans, or in words, or to speak in exhortation or praises. You are not to quench the Spirit of the Lord in this his day, that he is come and does appear, in giving diverse gifts unto his people, in his appearance, as he did among his disciples who waited at Jerusalem for the pouring forth of his Spirit from on high; but those who were strangers to the work of the Spirit, could not taste the life that spoke in them, but said, they were mad, and full of new wine; but the Lord justified them, it being the work of his own Spirit, and although he gave unto them various gifts, yet all in the unity of himself, in which they sacrificed, in returning to the Lord his own with advantage, to the glory of his great name, as his children do this day. Blessed be his name forever, that out of the mouths of babes his praise is declared, in their measures, as it is with those of higher growth in the Lord; and so do the faithful laborers reap the fruit for which they travail, that all the people of the Lord may be filled with his Spirit, and in the exercise and leadings thereof, become a body of living ministers, and a family of prophets; the strong leading the weak by the hand and in tender love, building up one another in their most holy faith, which gives the victory over the world, to reign in the heavenly dominion, which causes the children of the Most High, in the authority of the Lord, to say to the greatest persecutors,—'0h man! do what you have power, the God whom we serve is able to deliver us out of your hand; but if he will not, we are resolved in his strength to suffer what he permits man to do;' and this is the holy resolution of all who are born again, and cannot hide your heads in the time of persecution, because you are born of the royal seed, and have overcome the beggarly, cowardly, earthly spirit, through the blood of the Lamb, and the word of your testimony, and no more love your lives unto death.

All dear chosen vessels of the Lord, seeing he has manifested his grace so largely to you, with all diligence be obedient in walking suitably to his love and mercy received; that as living witnesses for God, you may shine forth in the beauty of holiness in all your ways. Be careful in keeping your meetings at the time appointed, every one endeavoring to be the first at the meeting, that so not any give way to a careless spirit, as some have done, and come to meetings when others have been a considerable time together, and so become a burden to the diligent and obedient servants of the Lord; thus, the meetings are not so profitable to your comfort, as when you meet diligently at the time, waiting in the fear of the Lord to feel his sweet presence, which will keep you awake in the life of his own Spirit, to the glory of his name, and the comfort of one another, which will cause you to prize the opportunities God gives to you, not knowing how soon you may be deprived of them. Be tender one over another, and watch over one another with a pure single eye, and every one see the beam cast out of your own eye, before you go to spy a speck in others; and if any brother or sister offend, you that know, speak to them privately, in all tenderness, to restore them; and this know, ' whoever turns a sinner from the error of his ways, saves a soul from death, and hides a multitude of sins.' But if they will not hear, take two or three more, and speak to them again in the spirit of meekness, waiting, and seeking the Lord for their recovery; but if they will not hear, but persist in wickedness, then acquaint the church, whom the Lord in his wisdom will order to deal with them for his own glory.

In all things you do, I dearly beseech you, do unto others, as you would be done unto yourselves, that so you may all in your measures, stand as saviors upon mount Zion, to the glory of the Lord, in the power of his own Spirit, which will cause the whisperer, backbiter, false accuser, and tale-bearer to be cleansed away, and cast out of the house of the Lord; that so, in the good order of the Holy Spirit of our God, we may all live; that he alone in his dominion may reign in us, and among us, whose government is upon his shoulder, and all the crowns of the glory of man cast down at his feet, that he may be exalted in ordering every member of the body in their place and service, to his everlasting praise and glory.—Even so, dear Father! Carry on your work in all the churches of the saints, scattered over the face of the earth, that in the eternal unity they may be established in the Lord, (being one, and his name one), and all the contrary swept away with the breath of your mouth, and brightness of your coming.—So come, Lord Jesus! Take to you your great power, and reign in your authority in and among your dear children, to the astonishment of the nations, and all people that are not born again, and to the exaltation of your own name and kingdom over all, who are worthy to reign, blessed forever, and of whose dominion there is no end!

All you faithful laborers in the gospel of Christ, who in true innocence travail in his strength, and seek not anything for yourselves in what you do, but to glorify the Lord in establishing his people in the living unity in his own Spirit.—Oh! Blessed are you among the people; my soul praises the Lord for you, and blesses his name, that ever he raised up such a spirit in you; that in all the greatest riches of the Spirit God gives to you, yet you remain truly poor in yourselves, and in deep humility become servants to his people for the Lord's sake; and being poor, you make many rich in that which will abide fresh and green in the winter storms, and will not fade away in the terrible blasts which will come for the trial of his people, and cause all hearts to fail, but what are born of his own nature. Oh! Dearly beloved Brethren, feel my bowels of enlarged love, which flows to you in the love and life received and enjoyed through death, where there is no variableness nor shadow of change.

I remain your brother, in the word of his patience, to endure the suffering, according to his determination, with all that love the Lord better than their lives.

William Dewsbury

Warwick [common jail,]
14th of 10th month, 1668


William Dewsbury to Friends.

Dear Friends,

IN the light of Christ wait upon him, to renew you in the spirit of your minds to serve the living God. My dear Friends, mind your calling, unto which you are called, to wait in the light, to retain God in your knowledge, to feel the work of regeneration perfected in you; that you may truly learn to take up the cross daily, and to feel the heavenly power manifest itself in the light, to raise you up in the life that makes self of no reputation, and dries up the tongue of the Egyptian sea, and brings all flesh to true silence in you before the Lord. Then will not any be hasty to utter words before him, but all in true watchfulness and prayer wait for the heavenly inspiration of his Holy Spirit, to overcome your spirits, and to sanctify you, in making you obedient to the heavenly government of Christ Jesus in you; who will lead you forth of your own thoughts and wills, in a humble subjection to his blessed light, life, thought, and will, which will order you in all faithfulness, to walk with God in your families, to be good examples by your good conduct; that so you may set up a throne in the consciences of your children and servants, and all with whom you have to do, in having all your words and works seasoned with the good savor of the Spirit of the Lord; that he may give you an assurance that the church of God is in every particular family, and that you are his dwelling-place among the children of men. Then will the angels of his presence pitch their tents about you, in the day when this Scripture shall be fulfilled, as it is written, 'Pour forth your vengeance, O Lord! upon the heathen who know you not, and upon all the families that call not upon your name.'

And, dear Friends, be watchful in prayer always, that you may enjoy the heavenly life, to exercise you in all faithfulness; strive to exceed in humility and carefulness. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ meet together, that he may exercise, guide, and order you in all services upon the account of the blessed Truth of our God; that, in the meek spiritual life and love, you be subject to serve the Lord, and one another in all love and tenderness of heart, in doing unto others as you would have them do unto you. Then will the Lord take delight in you, and make you manifest to be his chosen jewels and saviors upon Mount Zion, in repairing the breaches, and restoring the desolate, and in the bowels of love bringing back again those that have been driven away, or turned aside, either to the right hand or to the left, in the hour of temptation and days of trial.

Oh, you meek, humble-spirited people of the Almighty God! Lift up your heads, and keep your minds stayed upon the Lord, to help you to keep your habitations of peace within the gates of Zion, where we have salvation for walls and bulwarks; whose confidence is in the Lord alone, in whom, I beseech you, live in the endeared love of Christ Jesus, who gave his life to redeem us to himself, and gave strength to his redeemed ones to forsake wife and children, to give up our lives daily, in tumults, stripes, bloodshed, with cruel sufferings, both in prison, and when at liberty, to bring enemies out of enmity, in the light to be in union with God. Oh! be entreated to seek the Lord, to subject all your minds to this love of God in Christ Jesus, to rule in you; then will the desire of my soul be answered, in your restoring and gathering to God, as is before written, who will then build you up in the unity of the Spirit, and bond of peace, which will enable you with patience and meekness, to wear out and overcome whatever is contrary to his pure, peaceable and blessed nature:—the mouth of the Lord has spoken it, through your brother and companion in the kingdom of patience and tribulation in the Lord Jesus Christ.

William Dewsbury

Warwick Jail,
the 10th of the 12th mo. 1680

A general Epistle to be read in the fear of God, in and among the assemblies of his people.

My dear Friends,

IN the light of the Lord, all watch and pray, that you may receive power through faith in the name of Christ to reign over your own thoughts and wills; then will you delight in taking up the daily cross to the mortifying of the earthly members, that your conduct may be as becomes the gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ; which will make you manifest to the witness of God in every conscience, that you are the salt of the earth, that have kept your state and habitation in God, and retain the sweet savory spirit of life, which seasons all your words and works, and ministers grace to all with whom you have any concern, to the exalting God's blessed Truth over all that watch for evil, which will cause their eyes to fail, and frustrate their expectations forever. Amen. "

And, dear Friends, I beseech you, be faithful upon all accounts for the service of the blessed Truth of God, to meet together in his holy fear; that you may receive the holy inspiration of his Spirit, to exercise you in what service God is pleased to call you unto, whether in prayer to God, or in exhortation to build up one another in your most holy faith; to raise up the life in all, that every one that is overcome with the powerful and heavenly motions, cast their mite into God's treasury, and give him his own advantage; so will you feel the increase of his government in you that are faithful, in the true measure of light and life:— more and more he will give unto you, to the edifying of one another in love. So will you become epistles written in one another's hearts, with the pure Spirit of the living God, which will bind you up in the unity of the Spirit and bond of peace; and whatever exercise is met with, while you are in the mortal body, pray to the Lord to keep you in the life of his own Spirit, that patience may have its perfect work; that if you are struck on the one cheek, turn the other cheek to the striker also; and if you are reviled, revile not again, but in deep humility and patience, wait in the pure, meek, peaceable Spirit of our Lord Jesus, who was made perfect through sufferings;—so are his dear and chosen jewels, who bear his name in righteousness, and have their eye to the God of their help, and their confidence in the Lord alone.

Oh you blessed of the Lord! Be glad in his name, who will not let any of you, whose confidence is in him alone, suffer more than he will give strength to bear, and will sweeten the cup of your tribulation with his blessed presence, which will cause your hearts to rejoice, and sing in all your trials; and will give you your portion forever with the blessed assembly, that John spoke of in the 7th of the Revelation—a number that no man could count, that had passed through the great tribulation, and had washed their garments and had made them white in the blood of the Lamb; therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his holy temple;—and he that sits on the throne shall dwell among them, and feed them, and lead them to the living fountains of waters, where God shall wipe away all tears of sorrow from their eyes, forever. This is your portion, you dear children of the living God, who in true love to him, have waited upon him in the light of Christ, to be buried with him in his spiritual baptism and made conformable to him in his sufferings and death—and in the deep sense of your present strait, being made conformable in measure to our Lord and Savior, you cry as he did upon the cross, when he bore the sins and transgressions of his people, 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?' Even so do you his dear children, in your measure, passing through the great tribulations, being made of the number of the slain of the Lord.

Here is first a passing through the great tribulation, and to be made of the number of the slain of the Lord; and, being truly humbled into his blessed will, in a deep sense of poverty of spirit,— there, wait upon the Lord, until he creates you to a lively hope, and give you a possession of his blessed life, that is hidden with Christ in God, and so marry you to himself in his own righteousness, which he gives you for your wedding-garment. Now, this love of God constrains you to walk in all strict observations that are required of you to be done; but no more to lean upon them for life, but have now all your obedience accepted of God through faith in the light, life, and name of Christ, in whom you now are the righteousness of God forever, in giving up freely to be guided by his Spirit in faithfulness to the end.

Oh! You ever blessed and happy people, who do witness fulfilled in you what is here written; lift up your heads and rejoice in the Lord, and in the almighty power of his humble, meek, and pure Spirit, which makes self of no reputation; but through your obedience to Christ Jesus the true Light, in whom you come to witness the Lord to be one, and his name one—(and you that never had power to believe in his name, until he gave you power to believe;)—you are one in the Lord for ever. Here is the joyful and eternal unity with the Father in the Son, and one with another in the love of Christ, who bought us with his blood, which the gates of hell can never prevail against.

All you, my ancient brethren and sisters, who have obtained this blessed dominion and everlasting inheritance,—I bless God for you, who I do believe will take care to answer the desire of my soul, as before written, for the comfort of the young and tender babes, for whose sake I had this concern upon my spirit, to lay before them the true passage into the footsteps, where the tribulated companions have traveled, that are married to the Lord of life, and have upon them their wedding-garment, that they may not come short who are upon their travel towards the same inheritance in Christ the true Light, as before expressed. I dearly beseech you, whom God has sealed up with his Holy Spirit, to your full assurance of God's everlasting love in Christ Jesus, that you watch over the tender and tribulated ones, and in what can possibly be done, strengthen their faith; that they may come into the heavenly unity with the Father in the Son, and sit down with all those who have been made conformable to Christ in his sufferings and death; and that, in the heavenly resurrection, blessed and everlasting peace, they may sing hallelujah and high praises to the Lord their God,—over all the wrath that is in the children of men, which will come to an end, and vanish away like smoke, before you whom the Lord has called, in meekness, and patience, to bear his name in righteousness, in the sweet savory Spirit of Jesus Christ, over all, blessed forever, Amen.—In which, the Lord keep you all, with my soul, faithful unto the end, is the breathing of the spirit of your brother and companion in the kingdom of patience and tribulation in the Lord Jesus Christ. Further, I have this to communicate to my Friends and brethren: that what has come to pass these late years, has been your want of watchfulness to be guided by the Spirit of the Lord,—love has been quenched in many in whom offences have entered, and separation followed; which has deeply wounded my spirit, having endeavored, to the utmost of my power in the love of God, to prevent such proceedings; and so have I done in many years past, by preventing papers ready to be printed, from being published, that were of a tendency to quench the love of one towards another. When Jeffery Bullock's papers were published in print, which would appear to the reader of a tendency leading to the breach of unity, which would cause the enemies of God to rejoice; it so wounded my spirit, that for many weeks those who saw me did not expect that I should continue long in the body; but God in his mercy restored strength in his appointed time. And when I heard, that some in the West intended to publish in print against some Friends, I bore my testimony against such proceedings, and told one who favored what was intended, that I would have my hand cut off before I would exercise it in such undertakings; and desired him to speak to William Rogers, that he would not proceed in publishing anything of that nature; for if he did, it would be a prejudice to Truth, and would produce very sad consequences that would follow, and my spirit would be deeply wounded, as it is this day, through these proceedings, that voluntarily, through lack of love, cast away the judgment that is given to the people of the saints of the Most High God, (to keep all sweet and savory among us), into the hands of the enemies of God, as an inlet for them to come into the midst of us, to sit as judges and trample upon us. So [this is written] to clear my conscience of all false reports cast upon me, as that I have encouraged what is brought forth of this kind, and to satisfy all Friends in God, that I have labored according to the ability God has given me, to prevent the publishing all things of that nature, as before said. I have admonished all concerned that I could meet with, to have a care of watching for evil, lest they provoke one another to wrath, and so quench love; but rather to look at the good one in another, and, in the love of God, labor to preserve them out of any weakness that they saw lay near to attend them; that so the pure, holy Spirit of life and love, which first gathered us into itself, to be a people in God, and in his blessed authority to reign over what is contrary to his blessed nature, may again restore, (where it is lacking), in the universality of its blessed power,— making up the breaches, and restoring the desolate ones, and causing every one that professes the blessed Truth of God, to love their neighbors as themselves; and so to do unto all, as they would have others to do unto them. Thus, all concerned in this exercise, who seek the peace of his people in the measure of the grace of God in Christ, may stand as saviors upon mount Zion, to the honor of the name of the Lord our God, and the eternal comfort of all that love not their lives unto death, serving the Lord, and his dear and chosen people, in the meek, patient, and peaceable Spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ.

In which, the Lord keep you all with my soul; that, in his pure and peaceable dominion, we all reign, and throw down our crowns before his throne, and all unanimously sing,—"All glory, honor, praises, thanksgiving, and dominion be given to him, who is found worthy  to sit upon his throne in all our consciences, Christ Jesus, the true Light, and hope of our glory! Even so be it, with all who profess his blessed Truth," said my soul in the name of the Lord.

William Dewsbury

From Warwick,
the 8th day of the 3rd month, 1682

William Dewsbury to Friends in Bristol

MY dear, faithful, suffering Brethren and Sisters in Bristol, Gloucester, and elsewhere, for the word of God, and testimony of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ:

Oh, lift up your heads, you blessed of the Lord, whose days are prolonged to see this blessed day which was sounded in your ears above twenty years by-past, and has counted you worthy  to receive this blessed crown of his suffering Spirit; for, all you who freely resign to suffer for his name in true sincerity, shall reign forever with him in eternal glory. Therefore, in the name of the Lord I beseech you all, convinced of God's blessed Truth, not to lend your ear to any counsel in you, or without you, that would cause you to flee sufferings, and so deny the suffering Jesus before men; for if you do, you know it is written, that he will deny you before his heavenly Father.* But, all you chosen jewels, who so love the Lord, that you dare but do as godly Daniel did, walk with your God as at other times, with the hazard of both estate, liberty, and life.— Oh! blessed, blessed be the day that ever the Lord crowned you with this blessed frame of spirit in receiving Jesus to be your guide; even so, the Lord keep you, and lead you to the living fountains of living water, which in the light is always opened in you. Give not way to your own thoughts, but in the light judge them down as fast as they appear; then will you be kept out of the straitness of your own bowels, in the heavenly enlargement in the light, thought, and will of God, whose thoughts are good and not evil, to give yon all an expected end, in answering all the desires he has raised up in you, to do his will.” Therefore arise in the pure, peaceable Spirit of the Lord;—cast your care upon him; he will arm you with patience to endure the tribulation, which will cause the beholders to admire, (as it is written in the Scriptures of truth:—behold the patience and faith of the saints), which will overcome all that withstands the rising of his glory, who is the God of our help, over all blessed forever—where is the rest of your tribulated brother in the kingdom of patience in Christ Jesus.

*A critical understanding: to flee from suffering inflicted by men, is to deny Jesus as Lord and Master because all power in heaven in earth is given to him, and nothing happens to those committed to seeking him, unless he permits it, including suffering. Suffering is the key to being freed from sin, as Peter so eloquently states:

Therefore, since Christ has suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same mind because he who has suffered in the flesh is finished with sin,
So that you should not live the rest of your time in the flesh in the lusts of men, but to the will of God. 1 Pet 4:1-2.

William Dewsbury

Warwick, 17th of 5th month, 1682

William Dewsbury to Edward Nightingale of York. (My ancient Friend!)

WHOM the Lord counted worthy  to receive his blessed Truth, with many in that city and county, when the Lord sent forth his servants, and called me to forsake wife and children, and to give up my life daily unto his will, to endure stripes and bruises in many tumults, with the rest of my faithful brethren, who loved not our lives to death for your sakes, to gather you, and all that received the Truth, that you might enjoy the presence of the Lord. And among many others, we counted you worthy  to receive his servants, that meet together in the heavenly unity in the Truth; for which, both you and I, with many of the servants of God, were put into prison, as many of his servants are this day. And the blessed presence of God kept, and does keep, them that truly fear his name in sweet unity and peace in himself and one with another, to their everlasting comfort, and to the confounding the enemies of God, who beheld their steadfast standing, and entire union in bearing their faithful testimony in whatever they were or are called unto for the Truth of God. This did not only confound God's enemies, but many were convinced and received the Truth in the love of it, beholding the unity of faithful Friends, to their everlasting comfort, and the honor of the name of the Lord forever; which caused my soul, with the rest of the faithful laborers, to praise the name of the Lord, in having blessed the travail of our souls, and giving us to see the fruit of our labor in his vineyard, and the peace and unity of his people.

But, of late I have heard that you, my ancient Friend, Edward Nightingale and John Cox, with some others in that city, do meet together in a separating spirit apart from the rest of Friends in the city, which casts a stumbling-block in the way of many. Instead of gathering people to receive the Truth, you scatter and drive them away; and it gives great advantage to those who watch for evil, and is of a bad savor, and a wounding the spirits of those who truly fear the Lord. I can truly say, your meeting in that separating spirit, which is such an evil savor in the nation, has been, and is more affliction to me than all persecutions and imprisonments I have endured unto this day.

Therefore, I entreat and beseech you, my ancient Friend, Edward Nightingale, with all who meet in the separation from the rest of Friends in the city, to turn your minds to the light of Christ in you, which will let you see you have not done well, and with it judge that which has led you to separate from Friends; and return to meet with them in the city, in the sweet concord, love, and unity in the life of the blessed Truth, as in the days of old and years past; of which I am a witness with the rest of faithful Friends, that in all our meetings, whether in the prison or in the city, we never lacked the sweet appearance of Christ, our Life, in us and among us, according to his promise, and to our comfort. So it is now, with all who meet in his name, and in unity with his people, as we did in those days; which was many years before the enemy could get any entrance to make a breach among those that profess God's blessed Truth, to draw some into a self-separation, as he has done with you and too many more elsewhere. I do assure you, it is the work of the enemy of your souls for you should not have separated, but have kept your places among Friends; and not have taken offence because they saw there might be some service for Truth in meeting twice on the first day of the week. It is very likely that some in that city who had a love to Truth, might get an opportunity to come to one of the meetings. It is very much to me, how you let the enemy so get over you, as to cause you to separate from Friends; whereas had you kept your places in meeting with them, you in time might have seen a service in meeting twice a day as well as they. You may be sure that separation neither restores any to love the Truth, neither gathers any to God, but rather scatters and drives away some who were gathered in love to Truth by the painful and faithful laborers who were truly sent of the Lord, as before written. Therefore, in the yearnings of tender bowels of the love of God to you, I once more beseech you, that in humiliation you wait in the light of Christ, and he will let you see how the enemy led you from the light out of your places, when you separated from meeting with Friends; and in yielding obedience to the light, it will bring you into your places again, to meet with Friends to your comfort, and the honor of the name of the Lord, according to the counsel of the Lord in my heart, here sent unto you.

But if you reject the counsel of the Lord in these lines, which in his love I am moved to send unto you, then shall I lament your condition, because of the evil consequence your separation will produce to your sorrow, and the wounding of many whom God would not have wounded;—for which you must give an account. And before you lay down your heads in peace, you will remember me, who has not hidden from you the counsel of the Lord.

William Dewsbury

21st of 11th month, 1664

William Dewsbury to Friends.

DEAR, precious, and beloved Friends, called in the light of the Lord to stand living witnesses for God, in the midst of a crooked, wicked, perverse, and untoward generation.

Dear Friends, all, in the light, and pure, and meek spirit of the Lord, enter into the chamber of rest, which God has prepared for you in his unlimited power to dwell there; stay your minds, and keep your confidence, and hold fast your faith, that so the door may be shut, that not anything enter which would produce feebleness of mind, faintness of spirit, or in the least measure would cause you to stagger at the promises of the Lord, who has promised he will never leave us, nor forsake us. Then, whatever trial any of us are called unto, who love the Lord, and have given up our names unto him, he will not allow one hair of our heads to perish, but what shall be to the glory of his name, and the comfort of our souls forever; for, many of us are witnesses of the faithfulness of our God, in making our passage pleasant through all trials and sufferings that have been unto this day; which is now manifesting itself, as was proclaimed among you in times past.

Therefore, I beseech you all, dear Friends, put not the day of the Lord afar off; for a general trial will go on all who make mention of the name of the Lord, that it may be known, who are truly born of God and who are not; that so, his precious jewels may be made up, who do, and shall more and more shine forth in the brightness of his glory, ( being established in his light, life, and love), against which the gates of hell cannot prevail, because the Lord is the strength of all that are born again. For their sakes, he is making a short work in the earth, to hasten his peculiar people through these trials, according to the determination of his own will, for the glory of his name, and the eternal comfort of the righteous seed which the Lord has blessed; that so, he may establish peace in the earth, and purity and holiness among the children of men, which will be the end of all these tribulations.

Therefore, wait in the faith and patience, you chosen vessels of the Lord; and be faithful in obedience, as at other times, with the loins of your minds girt up to the Lord, to rest in his unlimited power, and reign in a quiet still mind, giving up both goods and life freely; casting all your care upon the Lord; who will answer the expectation of his people, and work a mighty deliverance, neither by sword nor spear, but by his own outstretched arm, in the day of his dreadful and terrible vengeance, which he is hastening upon the earth, that shall cause all hearts to fail who know not God. The wicked shall confess to his righteous judgments, and the righteous shall bow before him, and the heathen shall know he is our God, and that we have not trusted in his name in vain; for he will judge righteously upon the earth, and give unto every man according to the deeds done in the body. Then, woe, woe, woe, to the proud and wicked, it shall go ill with them! Ah! But, you dear suffering innocent people of the Lord, lift up your hands and rejoice, for the Lord is dear over you as towards the apple of his eye, and great is the reward of the faithful. It is you who shall reap the fruit of your doings, and shall rejoice, when the wicked shall roar and howl, in the sense of his fierce wrath, for he will get himself a glorious name, in consuming his enemies with the breath of his mouth, and the brightness of his coming.

Even so, hasten your work, oh Lord! It is the breathing of my soul, with all that is yours, so that your dear children may be delivered from all their oppressors, that in your power and life they all may be kept by you, to the perfecting your glory forever!— where is the rest of your dear Brother,

William Dewsbury

William Dewsbury to Friends in Yorkshire.

MY dear Friends, that are convinced of the blessed Truth, all wait in the light, that you may truly experience Christ in you, baptizing you with the Holy Ghost and fire, rendering vengeance upon all in you that do not know him, and obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, and so you will come to witness you are of the number of the slain of the Lord, and conformable to him in his sufferings and death. You who are in the sense of your miserable and lost estate, wait upon the Lord, weeping and seeking the Lord your God, asking the way to Zion with your faces toward it, until the Lord cause your souls to hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear his voice live, but not in themselves, not to themselves, but the life you then live is Christ in you, and you in him. Oh! Blessed are you who witness what is here written for you are the true members of the body of Christ, who abhor yourselves, and admire the Lord with all his saints, in whom he is admired. Oh! Praise the Lord all you his dear children for his wonderful works, in leading you in his narrow way, and through his strait gate, which so few find; the Lord keep you by his mighty power, that you may contend for the faith, and keep it, which the Lord has delivered unto you his saints, that through faith you may have victory over your own wills, and over the world, with all the pomp, pride, and pleasure of it, and so delight in the daily cross, to be the well- seasoned, savory people, in all your words and works, to glorify our Father which is in heaven:— even so be it with you, is the prayer of your ever- loving Brother, "

William Dewsbury Note.—William Dewsbury desired this to be sent among his ancient Friends in Yorkshire, to be read in their meetings.



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