Volume 4, The Works of George Fox, Doctrinal Books I, Continued
Text in Light Blue or bold Light Blue can be "clicked" for backup in scripture or detail in writings.
TO ALL THAT PROFESS CHRISTIANITY, ARE THESE FOLLOWING PARTICULARS
Concerning their Name of Christians, Loving Enemies, the Worship in Spirit, Gospel Fellowship, their many Heads and Baptisms, their many Churches, their disagreeing about Scripture Interpretation.
—By George Fox
There is one faith which justifies and purifies the heart, which is the gift of God, which gives victory over all that which has separated man from God, by which faith man has again access to God, and in which faith he pleases God, and in this faith is the unity of the church, and saints, which is in God, and this is the true church faith, which has been apostatized and degenerated from, since the apostles' days, by the generality of Christendom, I say from this faith that works by love, which was among the apostles, but the apostates and degenerated ones are in the hatred, and not in the faith that works by love, their fruits declare it.
The only Antidote to overcome and expel the Poison of Satan's greatest Temptations.
The ground of desperation is out of the light, for Cain when he despaired went from the light, that killed the just; Gen 4:8, he that killed the just within, killed the just without; and Esau, who despised his birth-right, who was a profane person, did seek to kill the just; and he that rose up against the beloved of God, Matt 27:5. David, he despaired, he saw the wicked risen up against the just: and the Jews did despair, and doubted, they did not believe in the light, They were against the just, though they professed all the scriptures; and Judas who despaired, and turned from Christ the light to the changeable priests; so the cause of desperation is going from the light, for that which leads to presume, will lead to despair, which rises up in that nature which acts contrary to the light, and that is it which wanders to and fro, up and down, and hunts abroad, and builds that which God confounds. “I am the light of the world, and enlightens everyone that comes into the world,” said Christ, he by whom the world was made. Now everyone being enlightened with the light that comes from him who is not of the world, who was tempted in the world to make himself away, who was tempted to lust after the creatures, who was tempted to worship the devil, who is out of the truth, but overcame all, Luke 4:9-14, John 16:33. Now everyone of you that come into the world, having a light from him that is not of this world, that was thus tempted, who entered not into temptation; it is not a sin to be tempted, for he was tempted, but to enter into the temptation: so if you see temptations with the light that comes from Christ, the light, the truth, and the life; look at him who was tempted, who overcame the temptations, who was not of the world; having a light from him, whose name is called the Word of God, who said, “because you have kept the word of my patience, I also will keep you from the hour of temptation which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth, Rev 3:10, so it shall not prevail over you, which shall come to try all that dwell upon the earth. For having a light from the word by which all things were made, and keeping the word, the power is received against all temptations, and they shall not come near. Are you tempted to make away with yourself? So was Christ. Heb 4:15. Look not at the temptations, but look at Christ, and there you will receive power. Are you tempted to the creatures? Does the devil, he that is out of the truth, who is a destroyer, tempt you to the creatures? So was Christ, he by whom all things were made. Are you tempted to worship the devil? Luke 4:3-7. If the devil, who is out of the truth, tempts you to worship him, look to Christ, who was tempted, and who overcame. Look to him who overcame, he is the captain of our salvation, Heb 2:10. So everyone having a light from Christ Jesus, which is given to him to watch, and to pray, and to seek, and to knock after Christ, who is the door, the way, the life, the covenant of peace. So don’t look at the temptations, but keep looking at Christ, neither be troubled at them; but look to him from whom your strength comes, that lets you see them, and there stand still, for there salvation is received, and your strength. Have you made a covenant with death by acting contrary to the light in your consciences? Have you made covenants with hell, the grave, and Satan, all of which is out of the light and out of the truth; for the devil is out of the truth, and is the destroyer and devourer. Therefore being turned to the light which comes from Christ, the covenant of God, God's covenant of light, there waiting, the covenant of death is broken, and in it believe, for there God's mercy is received, against which covenant hell’s gates cannot prevail, let her open her mouth never so wide; and all the bonds of iniquity, promises which you have made with the fleshly mind, and the lusts being turned to the light, the covenant of life breaks all the bonds and promises of the fleshly mind. Therefore in patience wait in the light which comes from Christ, the covenant of peace which you may receive to have peace with God. Never look at the temptations, but look only at the light which shows them to you, and there stand still to receive power from him, from whom all power is received. That which is out of the truth is what tempts you to draw from the light, and from the truth, and out of it. Therefore everyone, having the light from Christ, who is not of the world, but which has come into the world, will let you see the temptations. Those who keep the word, they shall not be prevailed upon, but power shall be received by them to trample upon all. The worship in the spirit and truth will be known, and the wisdom by which all the creatures were created, will be received, with it to use them to the glory of God, to which end they were created. That which is out of the truth is what tempts to murder, for the murderer, which is out of the truth and out of the light; with the light he will be seen, judged, and condemned. He, who before lifted up and exalted himself, will be brought to despair; but by learning of Christ the light, who is meek and lowly, he who is out of the light, is kept out and down. But before this, the devil will tempt into the creatures, to get your mind into the creatures, he who is from the light, and from the life; and so he is a devourer of them, and so out of the wisdom of them by which they were created. Therefore, as I said before, wait in the light, which comes from Christ the life, that with it you may come to receive refreshing from the Lord; and to know the wisdom of the creation, with which it must be used to the glory of the Creator. So having a light from him, by whom the world was made, to whom all power in heaven and earth is given; wait in the light, from him to receive power, which brings out of the world's lusts and defilements, which the light which comes from him will show you all the temptations to the creatures, or the temptation or obeying the will of him that is out of the truth; but waiting in the light, you will come to know the right use of the creatures. So wait for power from the Lord in the light, (which shows you all temptations), which light comes from the Lord, giving you power to stand against all temptations; and so that all may be condemned by the light, that is contrary to it; and so you may come to witness the leaven that leavens into the new lump, and see him that makes intercession, who is able to save to the utmost; and so with the light you may see there is no temptation you are taken with, but which is common to man. So if you mind the light, and in it stand, you will see the Lord giving issue, whereby you will find deliverance standing in the light, which comes from the word, which is a fire, and a hammer, and a sword, which beats down that which is contrary to the truth, divides and burns up, but keeping the word, the temptations will not come near, but the word of reconciliation be witnessed, and the word of faith which makes clean, and purifies, and sanctifies; where the old garment is put off, and the knowledge in the flesh denied, and the knowing in the life, in the spirit, where nothing comes to reign but life and power, where all is overturned, and with the power of the Lord comprehended, the dread and life of the living God, to whom be all honor and glory forever.
And who have been the Persecutors, and who have been the Sufferers from the Beginning.—
Christians should love one another, that is the command of Christ, and is a mark by which they are known to be his disciples. Secondly, they should love their very enemies; and by this they differ from the Jews and heathens, and all other people.
Now as for the late act concerning the people of God called Quakers, there is no penalty laid upon any man for not breaking up of their meetings, or not putting the oath to them; therefore it will try and manifest what spirit men are of, and that which is in people will be made manifest now, because the act is left to the executor of it, without any penalty; which act, had it been in the days of the apostles, would have taken hold of Christ and his apostles, for he had twelve that often met together; and by this he might have but three, for if there were five, it had been in the transgression, who also had seventy disciples more. Now I say, if it had been in the days of Christ, it would have taken hold of him and his disciples. Would Christ (and his disciples), the wisdom of God, do you think, have obeyed this act, and not met with his disciples? Or if the Jews should have made laws to limit him but to four, do you think that Christ the wisdom of God would have obeyed it, or his disciples? Christ also said to his disciples, “that they should wait together at Jerusalem, and not depart;” and they did meet together, and you know that their meetings were different from the Jews and heathen. They were to wait together at Jerusalem until they received power from on high, before they were to go to gather the churches; and this was according to the wisdom of God. If the Jews had spoken to them that they should not meet, do you think the disciples would have obeyed them, or the command of Christ? When the apostles had gathered churches out of the Jews and the Gentiles, they settled them, to whom they wrote their epistles, and built up one another in the holy faith, and not to forsake the assembling of themselves together: for if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, then consider what is to be looked for; [so now mark,] if the Jews or the heathens, out of whom the Hebrews, the Galatians, the Colossians, the Thessalonians, and the Corinthians were gathered into several churches; if the heathens and Jews had made laws against them, that they should not meet except four, do you think they would have obeyed it? Therefore consider of these things, and do as you would be done by, that is the law and the prophets: did not many suffer in the ten persecutions for meeting together, before there was a pope? Have not many suffered for meeting together, by the papists since; as look through the book of martyrs, how they suffered by the papists, and they called them conventicles [seditious, riotous assemblies of persons]; and also in the times of the martyrs' sufferings in the ten persecutions, and since the ten persecutions, did they not make laws they should not meet? Did they not call them conventicles? Yet did they not meet in barns or houses, woods and fields, as you may read in the book of martyrs? Were these martyrs disobedient in the ten persecutions, and since to the papists, in which so many thousands suffered for meeting together, for not paying tithes, and for not swearing, and not yielding to their principles and practice, that persecuted them? Was it evil in them that persecuted them? Is it good now in that you make us suffer for the same things? So are the martyrs, the persecutors, and you are all one; or the martyrs, and we one, who have suffered all along? whether they have not the nature of the heathen that makes to suffer, and not the nature of the apostles? Likewise, have not many suffered here, as we now, for meeting together, and not swearing now in these days? As consider, in Oliver's days above three thousand suffered imprisonment, and some to death, who suffered for not swearing, and for conscience sake, as many of the martyrs in the time of the ten persecutions did, and by the papists as we do now.
Therefore, consider these things, for it is Christ's command that we do obey, and the apostles' doctrine, which said, “swear not at all.” Consider now, would not they in the ten persecutions, and the papists, have punished Christ for preaching this doctrine, and made him to suffer, (as we do now that own it), who said, “swear not at all, but let your yes be yes, and your no, no,” ... and the apostles for holding it forth; for we do not these things in contempt or rebellion to any man; for our love and tenderness is, that all magistrates and people would live in God's fear, and receive his wisdom, by which all things were made and created, that by that they might be ordered to God's glory, and order that which God has given them under their hands, to his honor, that to God they may be a blessing in their generation.
And consider, Daniel and the three children met, and disobeyed the king's command; and Mordecai, who would not bow, disobeyed the king's command; and the midwives disobeyed Pharaoh's command for not putting the children to death: and the woman who had seven sons which suffered by the king's law, because they would not eat swine's flesh; and one of her sons spoke to his mother, “I will not obey the king's command, I will obey the law of Moses, which our forefathers obeyed.” And Daniel disobeyed Darius's command, which was, that Daniel should not pray; and he prayed, and did not obey his command. The apostles disobeyed the high priest's and council's command, when they charged them that they should speak no more in that name. Yet in the thing that is good, just and righteous, the righteous always have been, and are ever subject to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake, to such as were for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well, that they might live a godly and peaceable life; [mark,] a peaceable life; for this cause they both prayed, and paid tribute, not that they should bring them into an ungodly life, and without peace, for to that end were the higher powers ordained over the ungodly, that went into the ungodly and unpeaceful life, for the ungodly are unpeaceful, and this is for the praise of them that do well; for the law was made for transgressors, and not for the righteous. So those who be in the higher power are to distinguish the precious from the vile; for not doing so, the prophet often cried against them. When they turned against the righteous, peaceable, and godly, then is the saying known which the scripture speaks of, “what shall separate us from the love of God? shall principalities, or powers, or thrones, or dominions?” Showing, that there are principalities and powers that would separate from the love of God which they had in Christ Jesus, and that is from a godly and peaceable life. So there is a distinction, to be subject to that which punishes the evil, and there is a suffering by that which would separate from the love of God. Now that which would separate, turns the sword backwards against the righteous; and persecutors were always blind, and could never see, but run upon their friends instead of their foes: and therefore, these things consider and distinguish. God let Adam have liberty in the earth, into which he was driven when he disobeyed his command; and God let Cain have liberty in the earth, after he had killed his brother about religion; and God let wild Ishmael have liberty in the wilderness, after he was put out of Abraham's family, the father of the faithful; and the serpent had his liberty to feed upon the dust of the earth. Now I say, consider, who are they who would not have Christ the just to live upon the earth; were not they them that Christ called serpents, the Jews, the great professors? It was not God's mind that people should be out of the earth: God let Adam and Eve have liberty in the earth, after they had transgressed, though they were not to have liberty in the garden. And Ishmael, though he had not liberty in Abraham's family, yet he had liberty in the wilderness. And Cain, though he had not liberty in the presence of God, yet he had liberty to be a wanderer in the land of Nod. Therefore consider what mind that is that would not let men have liberty in the earth; though he is not of your assembly, yet he should have liberty in the earth. Therefore consider whether it be the mind of God, or against it, yes or no, though the just comes over all these things, and are redeemed from the earth.
And if we must not meet together, how must we stir up one another, and edify one another, and provoke one another unto love, and to good works, if we must not meet together to speak one to another. Consider this with understanding.
The world said, “kiss the book,” the book said, “kiss the Son for fear that he be angry;” and the Son said, “swear not at all, but keep to yes and no in all your communications; for whatsoever is more than this, comes of evil.”
The world said, “lay your hand on the book;” the book said, “handle the word;” and the word said, “handle not the traditions, inventions, nor the rudiments of the world;” and, "this is my beloved Son, hear you him,” said God, “who is the life, and the truth, and the light, and the way to God,” who said, “swear not at all.”
Therefore, cumber not the ground, you adulterers; cumber not the earth, you drunkards; cumber not the ground, you swearers; cumber not the ground, you proud, vain persons; cumber not the earth, you earthworms, covetous persons; cumber not the ground, you oppressors and exactors, and grinders of the poor; cumber not the ground, you persecutor of the children of the Most High; cumber not the ground, you rich gluttons; cumber not the earth, you idle persons, that live in fullness of pleasure, and abundance of idleness, as the stalled ox, as he lies in the mire and the dirt; and as the full-fed horse that must be breathed, with pleasure and sports, and your games of all sorts, and call it recreation for your idleness, out of the service of the Lord; for you who are so full, you need not work yourself down by pleasures, nor go to pleasures to get you a stomach; if you will work it down with labor; work and chastity keeps all sweet, and laboring in the fear of the Lord.
Cain, the first birth, a persecutor, the first birth, a false worshipper; and Cain, the first birth, that false worshipper, turned, and turns against Abel; and Cain, the first birth, out of his stock came up the false worshipper, who was the inventor of harps and organs.
Nimrod's stock, false worshippers, and out of Ham's stock, he came, whose spirit was not covered with truth, but with that which was from the truth; and so that spirit which runs from the truth, is not like Shem nor Japhet, and such worship not God in the spirit.
And they of the old world, that went from the spirit of the Lord, and grieved his spirit, they could not worship God in the spirit.
The Philistines grieved the spirit of the Lord, and they were the persecutors, and they turned against the just.
The Sodomites were the persecutors of the just, and the Sodomites were such as lived in abundance of idleness and fullness, and those that were idle and full persecuted the righteous and the just, and the true worshippers; and those who did, and do so, are the false worshippers.
And Ishmael and his stock, the first birth, who scoffed at the just, and turns against the just, a persecutor, and so are all wild men now.
And Esau, the first birth, the profane person, a false worshipper, a persecutor of Jacob, as many Esaus now, persecute them whom God loves, who hate the first birth, (being persecutors, profane, false worshippers), whom God loves not.
The Egyptians were, and are persecutors, and of the first birth.
And Balaam was a persecutor of the just, and Balaam loved the wages of unrighteousness; and such Balaams are now the lovers of the wages of unrighteousness, and the persecutors.
The Jews that professed the law, the words of God, and did live out of the life of the law of God, such did and do persecute the just; and such professors were always, and now are persecutors.
The persecutors are always such as preached for hire, and divined for money, and taught for filthy lucre; and such shepherds, bishops and priests, that taught for the fleece and the wool, and for handfuls of barley, and for pieces of bread, and so were covetous. Such were and are persecutors, and false worshippers, and persecutors of the just and the true worshippers of God in the spirit, and those who did so, grieved the spirit.
The scribes, Pharisees and chief priests, that had the prophets' and the saints' words were not in the life of the law, as were the prophets and saints; and yet they professed their words, while they did and do persecute the just, those who are in the life of the saints.
Likewise, all Christians that profess the prophets', and Christ's, and the apostles', and Moses', and the saints' words, and are out of their life and spirit, are the false worshippers, and are the persecutors of the just; and that is the end of all the profession without the life and the spirit of God that the saints dwell and walk in, who are the true worshippers of God in the spirit and truth. Such as are led by the spirit of God, they are the sons of God; and the false worshippers are such as grieve the spirit of God, and yet will get the saints' words, and the sheep's clothing, and not live in their life.
The first birth lives in the kingdom of the world, in strife, a persecutor: the first birth is a birth of strife, and the second birth is heir of the kingdom of the Lord; and the fruits of this birth is love, peace, joy, patience, kindness, gentleness, etc; therefore come out of the first birth, to the second.
Cain, Ham, Nimrod, Ishmael, Esau, Balaam, Sodomites, Philistines, Pharisees, chief priests, Babylon; were not all these envious, wild, profane, idle, covetous, oppressors, persecutors, false worshippers? So you that are of the same nature, and of the same birth, was it not, and is it not the first birth? If it is so, know your own kindred, and come out of this kindred.
Scoffers, scorners, mockers, reproachers, revilers, brawlers, railers, envious men, do you profess God and Christ? These are all evil weeds, and cumbers God's ground. The Babylonians were and are persecutors of the just, and the true worshippers of God; and the Babylonians build up, and throw down, who are out of the standing power, life and spirit of God, which the apostles and we are in; and so are not upon the rock Christ Jesus, upon which we are, which rock changes not.
Of whatever sort, herein concerned.
—By G. F.
I. To all rulers of families of whatever sort, who have an authority and command of children and servants, and who should train them up in the fear of God, and in modesty, civility, sobriety, and subjection, and gravity; but on the contrary, the unchristian-like conduct is manifest, and discovers itself, and shows itself forth unto all people. For look upon yourselves and children, how wild and wicked they are: vain, proud, and a multitude of unsavory words. It has been the practice of your servants and children to almost continually come to the elect people of God, in scorn called Quakers, to their meetings, and houses, scoffing, and scorning, and mocking, with all manner of slanderous expressions they can invent, casting upon the same people; and abusing them verbally, and casting mire and dirt, and stones at their windows. If you had either modesty, gravity, or good a neighborhood, you would be ashamed to see your children do such things, or hear of it, which many times have been said before several of you. Thus you act contrary to christianity, in which lies virtue, and also have cast the law of God behind your backs, which is to do unto another as you would be done unto. What, would you have us to mock and scoff, and throw dirt at you, as you go to your meetings, and throw stones at you in your meetings, and break your windows? Would you say this was good neighborhood, or good christianity? Or is it observing the law to do unto another as you would be done unto? So by this, do you not see that your young people are not trained up in soberness? For many old people have encouraged youth and young people into the same actions, which shows gravity has been lost, when old people should be grave and moderate, and young sober and temperate.
II. And also all you masters of colleges and schools, of whatever sort, are you not ashamed to hear of the abuses of your scholars? Have not you been often told of it, and it laid before you? Should you not teach your scholars civility and manners? Do not evil words corrupt good manners? Is this breeding and manners, for your scholars to come to sober and civil peoples' houses, and break their windows, and throw dirt at civil people, and throw dirt and stones among them, when they are met together to wait upon the Lord, and mock, and scoff, and reproach, and revile, and slander with the slanderous tongue all manner of slanders they can invent? Would you be so served yourselves, and so done by?
Do you either train up your children in the fear of God, or law, or gospel? Are not you ashamed of these things? Or do you call this neighborly? Or are you not ashamed to look your neighbors in the face? Surely gravity, modesty, civility, sobriety, and the training up children in the fear of God is lost among you; and does not this shame christianity to all forms; for many of the heathen have not been so bad towards us.
III. All you heads of colleges, are you not ashamed to see your scholars or hear of their rudeness, and of their unvirtue, and of their unsoberness, and ungraciousness, and of their immodesty in their carriage towards the sober people of God, in scorn called Quakers among you? Have not your young scholars torn their clothes and knocked them down in their channels, and shed their blood in the streets upon your pavements, and torn their clothes off their backs, and thrown dirt and stones and muck among them, and upon them, and broken their windows, and forms where they sat, and leapt among them, and bruised them, and beat them, with the same things that they broke off their forms, and brought drink and threw it in the faces of them that met in the fear of God, and ask for lasses, women, and wenches; are these the two fountains and eyes of the nation, and the two well-springs of learning, and the two famous universities of the land!* Oh do not these actions shame modesty, and christianity? Are these fit to be ministers, and trained up ministers of Christ, among whom is no better government? For it is not a few that have come, but sometimes by many scores they have showed these many abuses in and at our meetings. Does not this show impiety, and does not this manifest the orders and the governors, and the masters and heads of colleges to not be grave themselves? Seeing their young men are not sober, manifest the old are not grave, who should train up the young to be sober and temperate. For where there is soberness, and temperance, and modesty, and civility, and gentleness, and meekness, and holiness, and righteousness, is what beautifies a people among you? For would you be so served yourselves, for any other people to come and mock, and reproach, and throw stones and dirt among you in your meetings? Would you call this manners, breeding and gravity? Do not these actions shame both master and scholars, and dishonor virtue, breeding, and manners, and render to all strangers the incivility of their schools? We have found more gravity among the heathen than these two observations of the nation, which have not the name of piety, whose actions declare against it. Therefore, amend your ways and lack of control.
IV. And all you ministers and overseers, are you not ashamed to see your people so rude, so light and so vain, and so immodest, and so intemperate; what drunkenness, and what swearing and profaneness is among you? Is it not like Sodom, and people more like Egyptians than christians? More wolves and Philistines than sheep? Therefore, consider what account you will give to the Judge of all, who will reward every man according to his works and doings. Therefore, where is modesty among you; where is sobriety? Do not your young men lack gravity, and your young women lack shamefacedness and sobriety? Have not you teachers lost both the example and pattern, which should have been showed forth unto people? Look among your people; is not good breeding almost lost, and good manners corrupted by evil words, and that people neither walk according to law nor gospel? For if they walked according to the law, then you would do unto all men, as you would they should do unto you; and if they walked according to the gospel, then they would love enemies. Is it loving enemies, to stone, mock, beat and slander the people of God, who are peaceably met together to worship God? Would you be so served yourselves? would you have others do so unto you? do you to others as you would have for others to do the same to you? Do you either observe the law or the gospel? Therefore, all rulers of families, schoolmasters, and mistresses, and masters of colleges, and governors, and teachers, and magistrates, and all people; do unto all men as you would they should do unto you; observe that rule of the law and the prophets, if you cannot obey the gospel, which is to love enemies, and love one another. If you cannot come so high as to a christian's life, as to the gospel which is to love enemies, which love out of a pure heart is the end of the law, yet at least come to obey the law, which is to do as you would be done by.
Friends,—You have had a day of persecuting, of imprisoning, of spoiling the goods of the people of God, denying the light, manifesting your works of darkness and deeds to be always such that hated the light, and persecuted it; that the place for the (children), professors of light was your jails, houses of correction, and stocks, and your whipping of such as walked in it. Now what good has all your profession done you, and your works, and what has it all come to? Was not your zeal blind, your worship in your wills, your humility feigned, and your religion vain? Does it not now show, that now it is not worth standing to, and by?
Now that your church faith and directory* is not worth taking up in the streets; may not all that pass by say, O how is the beautiful city fallen? What has become of the wall and the doors? Has not your desolation now come, with the loss of your children? Do not many of you gnaw your tongues for pain, and stand aloof, and cry, alas, alas? How has the great city fallen? What howling is there among the merchants! So manifest that you are turned with the dog to the vomit, and the sow into the mire that had been washed away ? Were you not at your height, as a sow that did rend, and as a dog that did bite? Was not persecution always blind?
Must you not give an account for all the goods you have seized as spoils, and all the evil deeds you have done, and for all the blood of the righteous you have spilled, both by whippings, imprisonings to death. For example, consider that innocent James Parnell, a saint, whose righteous blood lies upon you; besides many others, whose righteous blood has long cried for vengeance, which is now coming on the heads of you, who are spattered with the blood of the righteous, and filled yourselves with the spoils of the innocent, yes including many houses. Is not the Lord coming upon the spoiler, and to rebuke the devourer? What havoc you made a few years ago, when you were in the height and prime of your religion: whipping, stocking, imprisoning, hauling up and down to your courts? Hardly any could come near you, your pride had grown so high. Is not the Lord staining your pride, and laying your honor in the dust? It will be well for you if you find a place for repentance, and come to see the way of peace, and it is not hidden from your eyes. For the way you went on in, was not like to prosper, turning your sword backward against the righteous, and letting the evildoers have liberty until they got over you. So that the just hand of God is upon you, and you may say you had time, but did not prize it. Therefore, consider the days you have spent, and the deeds you have done, and evil ways you have walked in; and consider now if you can see yourselves where you are. See if all your religion, and your worship, and profession was not a work of darkness; for now in a tempest and storm you dare not hold to and continue it, it will not cover you: and so it was a religion for summer, when your sun did shine, when you had the club, staff, and bag, then every viper crept out; but now winter is come, none of you are seen in public; so your flight is in the winter; so you are not only apostatized from the apostles' doctrine and religion, but also from your own; and what may all men say of you? now you are manifest to open view.
From a friend of your everlasting souls, and ever was one that never turned his back nor cheek from your smiting, nor his hair away from your plucking it off, who have plucked and struck until you have tumbled yourselves into the ditch, for we thrust you not in; and if you have not enough, our backs are ready still, and we still have a cow, and a little corn, and can give bread and drink to our enemies, if they want it; and also we have a pot, and platter, and a horse, and credit, who were so vilified by you, which you in your day thought to have taken all away.
— By George Fox
Query I. Where did ever the christians in the primitive times set up dancing schools, and fencing schools, and send their youth to learn to dance and fence, as those called christians have done since the primitive times? Let us see where such things were practiced in the scriptures by the true christians?
Query II. Where was any instruments of music allowed of God to be invented and used by the Jews to themselves, but unto the Lord? Indeed David used them as unto the Lord, and danced before the ark of the Lord; but what is the use and end of all the music and dancing in Christendom? Was not the melody the true christians made, in their hearts to the Lord?
Query III. Where did the primitive christians invent plays and shows, as those called christians have done since the apostles' days?
Query IV. Whether any of the Jews under the Old Testament ever invented plays and shows to get money by them, as those called christians do now? We desire you will produce your rule and example out of the Old or New Testament, among Jews or christians for these things.
Query V. Where did the Jews or christians in the apostles' days set up or use bear-baitings, bull-baitings, cock-fightings, nine-pins and bowls, and cards and dice, and such like sports and games, as those called christians do now, to make themselves merry with, and to spend their precious time away, and call it pastime, and rejoice, and stir up wantonness in people? Show scripture for these things, seeing you profess it to be your rule. Are not those that live wantonly upon earth, and in pleasure, dead while they live? Are not those that rejoice, to rejoice in the Lord?
Query VI. Where did the christians in the apostles' days make and use matches at football, and wrestling, and appoint horse races, and hunting for pleasure, and such like, and so glory in their own strength, and abuse the creatures? Are not these things contrary to the practice of the holy men, who rejoiced and gloried in the Lord? Show us your rule in the holy scriptures for these things?
Query VII. Whether all these plays, games, shows, sports, and other vain exercises, countenanced in Christendom, do not spoil and corrupt youth, and men, and ruin them in person and estate?
O you priests, is it not for you to preach to all people, Christ Jesus, the new covenant, how that in and by it all shall be taught of God from the greatest to the least? and is not this gospel? Instead of this you preach up war and strife among the people, and you war and strive with them for your backs, bellies, and mouth, and are never satisfied, spoiling and straining the goods of them that you do not preach to, and casting them in prisons that will not put into your mouths; and are not you in this unlike the gospel-ministers? Again, do not you preach up that men must have sin for their entire lives? So you are preachers pleading for sin, and not of Christ, who came “to take away sin, and to destroy the works of the devil, and to make men perfect.” Are not these traditions your own, and not the traditions of Christ and the apostles? Traditions such as sprinkling infants, and making the sign of the cross on them, and that they must have god-fathers, and god-mothers; and do not you teach these traditions for doctrine among the people? Is not this your own tradition, to tell the people that the steeple-house is the church, which you teach for doctrine? Is not the steeple-house, which you call the church, made of lime, wood, and stone? Will you make people believe that Christ shed his blood for lime, wood, and stone; and sanctify lime, wood, and stone; and that he is the head of lime, wood, and stone; and that Christ loves lime, wood, and stone; and that in the midst of lime, wood, and stone, that Christ will sing praises? For Christ sanctifies and loves, and shed his blood for the church, which he is the head of; and the church is his body; and lime, wood, and stone, is not his body. For you to say that lime, wood, and stone, is the church, the body of Christ, which the masons and carpenters have made; is not this tradition, like the heathen, that made an image of wood, stone, or other matter, and then said it was God, and worshipped it? For do not you worship the house, when you put off your hats when you go into it, and through it, when there is no service in it to God, as you pretend there is? Is not this your own tradition, and not from Christ and the apostles, to make a trade of Christ's and the apostles' words, that suffered and died for speaking them freely, as they had received freely, and judged those to be false prophets, who preached for lucre and made merchandize of the words? Is not this your own tradition, to make your ministers at schools, and they must serve there seven years before they must preach? Is not this like other tradesmen, that go by companies, that will allow none to set up their trade, but who has served their apprenticeship of seven years? In this tradition have you not departed from the ordination of God and Christ, in making ministers? Away from Christ, who said that “he will pour out his spirit upon all flesh, and his sons and daughters shall prophesy.” The apostle said, “that he was not made a minister of men, nor by men,” and that which he received and ministered, “was not of man, nor from man, but from the Lord Christ.” Is not everything that you have received, from man, that was made by men? Do you not persecute those who will not receive it, and give you money for it, whereas the prophets and apostles did not sell that which they had received from God, for so much a year, a hundred pounds, more or less, as they could get it, as you do; but it was not valued with money. The prophet said, “all should come freely, without money, and without price;” and Christ said to all the true ministers of him and the gospel, “freely have you received, freely give.” But tradesmen that have served an apprenticeship, and have not received freely, say, that they must not give freely, for it has cost them money; and so the command of Christ and the prophets, and the practices of the apostles are laid aside like an old almanac.
See, hear the call of the patriarchs, prophets, and apostles: Abel was a keeper of sheep. God had regard to Abel's offering, because he was righteous; but to bloody and persecuting Cain's offering, (which was done in the custom and form, and not in the faith), God had no regard, Gen 4:2-5. Abraham was to go from his father's house, and his country and kindred, and so from their religion and worship, Gen 12:1. Jacob and his twelve sons were shepherds, keepers of cattle; David, beloved of God, a prophet, he kept his father's sheep, 1 Sam 16:11-13. The Lord called Gideon, when he was threshing wheat, by the wine-press, Judges 6:11. Elisha, was called from the plough-tail, to be a prophet; and both Elijah and Elisha were persecuted by Jezebel. 1 Kings 19:21. Amos was a prophet, a fig-gatherer, and a herdsman, Amos 1:1. Moses was a prophet, and he was a keeper of sheep. Exod 3:12.
Peter and Andrew, unlearned men, were called from their nets when they were fishing, Mat 4:18. And James, and John his brother, were called from mending their nets, to follow Christ, and they leaving their father, nets, and ship, went after Christ, Mat 4:21.
The wise men found Mary and Joseph, and Christ laid in the cradle, in the manger, because there was no room for him in the inn.* Joseph was a carpenter. Christ was called a carpenter, and a carpenter's son. You relegate such into the stable, Luke 2:16. Matthew was sitting at the custom's receipt station, and Christ saw him, and said to him, “follow me,” and he rose up and followed him; he became an evangelist, Mat 9:9.
Aquila, and Priscilla his wife, were a craftsman, tent-makers, and they instructed Apollos, Acts 18:24-26. Paul was a tent-maker, and worked with Aquila and Priscilla, he being of the same trade, Acts 18:1-3.
Christ and his disciples went into his own country, and preached in their synagogues, and his countrymen said, “from whence has this man this wisdom? and is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? Are not his sisters here with us? and they were offended in him.” Mark 6:2-3. And what were the rest of the twelve, and the seventy disciples? Were not some of them tradesmen, that followed some callings? the Jews marveled, saying, “how does this man know the scriptures, seeing that he never studied?” Jesus said, “my doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me; and if any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.” John 7:15-17.
Isaiah said, “The spirit of the Lord is upon me, and the Lord has anointed me, and sent me to preach good tidings unto the poor, and to bind up the broken-hearted, to preach liberty to the captives, and to them that are bound, the opening of the prison.”
When did christians lose this commission of the prophet Isaiah, and that they should now take one another by the throat; and cast one another into prison; and bind and make captives; and to break, and not to bind up the broken? Is this your glad tidings, who say, that you have not the spirit as the apostles and prophets had? We look upon all your teachers of Christendom by your fruits, as Christ has taught us; and by your fruits we know you not to be as the apostles, but such as Christ spoke of in Mat 7:15-21, as briars, thorns, thistles, and not fig-trees, and vine-trees; but hirelings, and covetous, greedy after lucre and rewards, and persecuting, which is forbidden by Christ and the apostles. You have left the command of Christ and the apostles, which is to “love one another,” and to “love enemies.” Therefore as Christ said, “go not after them,” in Luke 17:23, and the apostles said, “we are to turn away from such,” as in 2 Tim 3:5.
Is not this a tradition of your own, and not from Christ, and the prophets, and the apostles, to preach by the hour-glass, in a thing like a tub, on a soft cushion; and that when the hour-glass is out, to say, that the time is past neighbors? Is it not as much as to say, you have your measure, be gone? Did Christ, and the prophets, and the apostles preach according to a schedule? Did they earn so much a day, or a year for preaching by the hour-glass? Was there a pulpit like the one of yours, which you can read of in scriptures; for could not about forty men stand upon it? Read and see, Neh 8:4-5.
What command do you have to persecute, or imprison any, concerning religion, or worship, from Christ, who has all power given to him in heaven and earth? But is not Christ's command to the contrary, that you should “love one another,” and “love enemies?” and so then, not to hate one another, and to hate enemies, as those called christians do this day? for did not God love the world, (which were enemies to him), that he gave his only begotten Son into the world, that whosoever believed in him should not perish, but have everlasting life? and was not Christ's love manifested to the world, that when they were sinners and ungodly, Christ died for them? If people have sinned in their judgment concerning religion, and are mistaken, has Christ told you to persecute them for their sins' sake, which he died for, and tasted death for every man. He was manifest in the flesh to condemn sin in the flesh; and the promise is, that he will take away their sin, and he will destroy the devil and his works, which devil is the author of sin, and his work is sin? So it is Christ's work to destroy sin, and the author of it, the devil, and not to destroy the creatures. So he fulfills the promise of God, “The seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head.” Christ is the way to God, who brings man and woman to God, destroying him and his works, that led man and woman from God, and kept man from God. Christ commands you to “love one another,” and to “love enemies,” and rebukes his disciples, which would have had fire to come down from heaven, to have destroyed them that were contrary-minded to them. Christ said to them, “that he came not to destroy men's lives, but to save them,” [mark this,] and Christ commands you in the scriptures, that you must let the wheat and the tares grow together until the harvest; and checks those servants that would have gone to pluck up the tares, and said, “for fear that they pluck up the wheat also.” Let all that say they are christians mark this, and the words of Christ, how they obey them. Christ said, “that the harvest is the end of the world, and the angels are his reapers.” So let men and women fulfill the command of Christ, and love one another, and love enemies, and that will differ the christians from the Pharisees and scribes. For Christ came to set at liberty the captive. Take notice of the sentence that he will give to those that do not visit him, as he is imprisoned in his members; and if they go into everlasting punishment that do not visit him in prison, where he is made manifest, what will become of them that cast him into prison; judge yourselves? For liberty is a natural right, and every natural creature would have its natural right, its liberty; and Christ gives liberty, and breaks the bonds asunder. Where the spirit of the Lord rules, there is liberty; but where it is quenched, there is the bondage, and not liberty, that bondage that causes the whole creation to groan, which the creature waits to be delivered from, into the glorious liberty of the sons of God, by Christ. All creatures in heaven and earth give him the glory and the honor, for he is worthy, who gives liberty, and destroys and consumes the man of sin.
What wages does the Lord desire of you for his earth that he gives to you teachers, and great men, and to all the sons of men, and all creatures, but that you give him the praises, and honor, and the thanks, and the glory; and not that you should spend the creatures upon your lusts, but to do good with them. You that have much, to them that have little; and so to honor God with your substance; for you brought nothing into the world, and you shall take nothing out of the world, but leave all creatures behind you as you found them, which God has given to serve all nations, and generations; and so that you have food and clothing. With that be content, which is the apostles' rule, and an example to you all. Christ's command is, “that you should not take thought for tomorrow, for the day is sufficient for the evil thereof.” He tells you to consider the lilies, how that they live without care and taking thought, and that one of them was beyond Solomon in all his glory; and that you should be beyond them, and above them. For so did God make man before he fell, and set him above all the works of his hands, before he fell; and so he is in the restoration by Christ again, though in the fall he is in the captivity under the creatures?
What command have you from Christ and the apostles, that are called christians, to judge one another, and persecute one another about meats, clothes; as white-coats, and black-coats, and days? Does not the apostle command you to the contrary; and say, that you should not judge one another about such things; and tells you, that the kingdom of heaven stands not in such things, but in righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost? Do you judge and persecute one another, about such things, that the kingdom of God stands not in, and leave the righteousness, and faith, and joy in the Holy Ghost? Does not the apostle say to you, “that meat is for the belly, and the belly is for the meat, and God will destroy both?” Likewise, are not clothes for the body? Does not Christ tell you, “that which goes into the mouth and belly does not defile a man, but the wickedness, that which comes out of his heart, defiles the man?” Did not the Pharisees and scribes, and chief priests persecute Christ and his apostles for not observing their days and their traditions? Did not Christ tell them, “that he was Lord of the Sabbath,” and how that they had left the commandment of God, and taught their own traditions for doctrine? Has not Christendom done the same - left the commands of Christ and the apostles, and taught their own traditions for doctrine, which they have not received from Christ, nor the apostles; and if men do not observe them, they are judged and persecuted, and imprisoned, and their goods spoiled?
I. Is not this your own tradition, and not from Christ and the apostles, to persecute one another about religion and worship? For does not the apostles say, “who are you that judges another man's servant?” For they must all stand and fall to their own master, and everyone must give an account to God.
II. And is not this your own tradition to persecute one another about days, and meats, and clothes, and outward things, which the kingdom of God stands not in? For does not the apostle tell you, “let everyone be fully persuaded in his own mind?” In this, have not you ignored his commandment and followed your own traditions?
III. Is not this your own tradition and commandment, to set up a forced maintenance, and tithes, for a christian ministry, whether they preach to them or no? for, is not Christ's command to the gospel ministers, “freely you have received, freely give; and take no thought, etc. And go you into all nations and preach the gospel?” Did not they obey his command? Will these ministers now days, that are placed and settled in great benefices and means, leave their means and benefice, and go into all nations and preach the gospel? No, are not they taking thought for themselves, and their families, like the heathen; and they will have no call now from God, except it is to a larger benefice? And when was the commission of Christ changed?
IV. Is not this your own tradition, who will allow none to preach but yourselves, and if any do, they come under your judgment, and are persecuted as deceivers, though they are truer than yourselves; and do speak freely, as Christ commands, having received freely? So are these ministers ever likely to convert either Jew or heathen, that will not go out of their parishes except it is to a larger income; and will neither obey the command of Christ themselves, nor allow others that would?
V. Is not this your tradition and custom, and not Christ's and the apostles, for christians to use carnal weapons in their warfare to heaven, and about worship and religion, seeing that the apostles said, “that the weapons of their warfare were not carnal, but spiritual,” and that the spirit and the flesh strived and warred one with another? So, has not the spirit his weapons spiritual, which he wars with? The flesh his carnal weapons, that he wars withal, for his worship and religion? And are not such carnal, and in the flesh? And can they please God? The apostle said, “that they were to stop the mouths of gainsayers, in the convincing of them;” but the casting into prison, or persecuting people concerning religion, will not stop their mouths, nor convince them; and this was not the apostles' custom, or Christ's, but the heathen, and the Jews.
VI. And is not this your own custom or tradition, that such must preach that be covetous, and strikers, and hirelings, when Christ tells you, “that a hireling will flee, and leave the flock;” and the apostle tells you, “that the ministers must not be strikers, nor covetous, nor given to filthy lucre:” So mark your own custom, and mind the apostles' words, and obey them.
VII. Is not this your own tradition and custom, to make your ministers by the will of men, when the apostle said, “that he was made a minister of Christ, not of men, nor by men, but by the will of God;” neither had he “received it of men, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ?” and so receiving of men for money, and selling it again for money; is not this your own tradition and custom, and not from Christ, (and the apostles), who said, “freely you have received, freely give?” and the apostle said, “that they did not make merchandize of the word of God, neither did they teach for filthy lucre.”
Christendom has not been rightly planted, nor the same planters as the apostles were, and so not by the same power and spirit that the apostles were in. Instead they have been planted by men's wills, and the sword and club; and converted by those who say they do not have the same power and spirit that the apostles had. So one plants, and another plucks up; but you, who have been planted by the same power and spirit as the apostles were in, live in the mortified life.
You that are Jews in spirit, give yourselves to the reading of the law of Jesus, whom he has made kings and priests; as the kings and priests were to give themselves to the reading of it, that they might inform the people to practice it, that the blessing of God might come upon them, and not the wrath. So you must obey the law of Jesus.
All people everywhere are to break down the imaginations of their hearts, and the evil of their earthly mind, and their wisdom, and their knowledge, and understanding, and all the images and idols of their hearts, by the spirit that God has given them; so that they may offer to the Lord a sacrifice and an offering in his temple. The Jews in the spirit are beyond and higher than all the outward Jews in the flesh, and their outward offerings in their temples, and the offerings of the Jews in spirit, put down all the outward Jews' offerings that are outwards, to offer that which is inward. The Jews outward, eat of their outward offerings in the temple; and so Jews in the spirit eat of their offering, Christ, in their temple, and of their sacrifices; and then they praise God in their temple. The outward Jews' lamps always burn in their temples, and never go out; and they were to dress their lamps in their temple; and as the Jews in the spirit, their lamps are never to go out, but always to burn in their temple; and they are to trim and dress them, and so they come to be a royal priesthood, always attending in the service of the Lord in the temple, morning and evening, offering in the spirit the Lamb without blemish in the temple. So the Jews in the spirit, make the morning and evening offering in the Lamb's spirit, and in their temple, who is without blemish, and at all times they must offer in him.
There were priests to eat of the show-bread in the temple, and the show-bread was always to be in the temple on the table. Likewise, the Jews in the spirit are always to have their bread in their temple, to eat of it; and you are a spiritual household, and a royal priesthood to God. The incense and sweet odors were to burn in the Jews' temple; and so the Jews in the spirit are always to have the incense and sweet odors to burn in their temple. The Jews in the flesh were not to touch anything, nor eat anything that was unclean; no more are the Jews in the spirit to touch or handle, or eat anything that is unclean; but to handle Christ, and feed upon him, who is pure, and holy, and clean, who is the bread of life. The Jews outward were not to follow and feed upon any offering but their own; and so the Jews in the spirit are to follow no offering but Christ, and feed upon him who is their own.
First, the wicked and the deceivers, robbers and false prophets, and seducers remove the land-marks of the righteous and just, and then they make all their replenished places like a wilderness, and then comes up the power of the dragon, which begets and breeds serpents, and vipers, and all the unclean beasts, and so make the world like a wilderness. When the land-mark of the just and righteous they have removed, then truth, justice, righteousness, and equity have no place among them, then he deceives, and sets up his own ways, and hates all them that will not obey him.
The Jews outward in their appointed feasts praised the Lord with the outward trumpets; and so the Jews in spirit, at their feasts in their temple, in their feeding upon the bread of life, lift up their trumpets, their spirits, in praising the Lord God.
Now all that you call Christendom do believe that Christ is come, and is risen, and that Jesus is Christ the Son of God. So that now they are all to receive him, and to walk in him, and abide in him; but you that do profess the scriptures of Christ, that he is come, that which the saints professed and lived in; as the Jews did profess Moses and the prophets, and God, and that Christ was to come, but they denied the life, as you do, and lived not in it, neither do you; but are disputing about the words, and deny the life and spirit of Christ, the prophets and apostles, and that is the cause that you are not in fellowship and unity, one with another, but all on heaps.
The Jew outward, he was not to touch the dead, nor to feed on that that died of itself, for it made him unclean by the law of God. And so the Jew inward in the spirit is not to touch the dead, nor feed on that which dies of itself, but on Christ.
The Jews under the law, did not take tithes of fish, and of swine, and of foals.* Did they offer up these in their offering a sacrifice to the Lord? Where was there any swine, or horses, or fish, of any sort, offered upon the altar in the temple by the priests? Was not the swine an abomination to the Lord, and to the priests? But do not the priests now take that abominable offering, who are in the abomination? and where did the priests under the law take tithe-rabbits? were they to be sacrificed upon the altar for an offering? for the rabbits, foals, and the swine were not to be offered, but they were to be an abomination to them.
And whereas you call christians lay-people, you that are ministers, and in some office, and under some vow or oath; is not this contrary to the apostles, who called the believing christians saints, and spiritual? Are not all the true believers of the church, such as have passed from death to life, and such as have been born of God? The apostle Paul when he writes to the old Romans, he does not call them lay-people, as the Romans call christians now; but Paul called them, “beloved of God called to be saints,” and that they were called of Christ Jesus. Read Romans the first, and see whether he called the Romans lay-people. When Paul wrote to the church of the Corinthians, he called them saints by calling, and the church of God, and he does not call them lay-people. Likewise he wrote to the Galatians, the church that was there, calling them brethren, and not lay-people. And Paul, when he wrote to the Ephesians, he calls them saints, and not lay-people. And when Paul and Timothy wrote to the Philippians, to the saints, bishops, and deacons, they do not say, to the bishops, deacons, and lay-people. And when Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy wrote to the Thessalonians, they said to them, “that their church was in God, the Father of Christ,” and called them beloved brethren, and not lay-people. James in his epistle, said that they were brethren. In his epistle, Peter does not call them lay-people, but rather such as “have obtained the like precious faith, and beloved.” In his epistle John calls them babes, elect, dearly beloved, and not lay-people; neither does Jude in his epistle call them lay-people, but called and sanctified of God the Father.
Christ said, “Go you into all nations, and teach, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; but the priests and papists will hardly go any further to preach and baptize than their own parishes, where they are sure of great livings, which they have agreed for.
And do you hold by tradition from Christ and the apostles, that the pope must wear a triple crown? Is not this the glory of the world, and not from either Christ or the apostles, who were not of the world? and did Timothy, or Titus, or Peter, or any of the apostles wear a triple crown of gold on their heads? Was not Christ's crown that they made him, of thorns?
You ministers of Christendom, because you are not in the faith that works by love, nor in the universal love of God, therefore you cannot build up Christendom in the love of God, nor in the holy faith that works by love, for love edifies, and builds up; but your faith is a dead one, and the fruits of it are wrath, and strife, and envy, and tearing one another to pieces with persecution. Such persecution was always blind, and the blind leads the blind into the ditch. So you are out of the catholic faith,* and the catholic church, and the catholic love, fellowship, and worship, and catholic gospel, which is everlasting: for catholic is universal.
In the time of the law, they were not to touch the dead, if they did they were unclean; which is a figure to them that be in the living gospel, which is immortal, they are not to touch the dead ways, doctrines, nor the dead flesh and bodies of sinful flesh; but to touch Christ and his flesh. Therefore, touch nothing that is unclean, but the living and the clean; the earth is corrupted with the dead bodies, and the flesh thereof makes it to stink, the living smell it.
Christ is the altar that all offer upon, that offer up to God; which altar is in the temple, and Christ is the way to God; and such as quench the spirit in themselves, and others, and do not allow it to arise, are such as watch the sepulcher of Christ, and are afraid that Christ should arise.
Drunkenness, whoring, and swearing are the works of sin, and this is the way to hell if you continue therein; and hell gapes, the grave opens her mouth; and death and destruction talk of the fame of God, and the horse-leech, that is bred in the waters, cries, give, give.
You drink healths, but drunkenness and whoredom, are out of the fear of God, and destroy the health of the body, mind and soul: you bless, but a profane life denies salvation, the blessed state. “Lord, your children love your light,” but the children of darkness tread it and them under their feet.
You fast, pray, and preach, and talk of God and Christ, and scriptures; but the Lord will require all your debts that you are run into, for you are gone beyond your bounds, and so into drunkenness, swearing, cursing, pride, covetousness, oppression, (and not to do justly to all men), and to live in malice, strife, and envy, which are the works of darkness, and destroy, and raven, and pluck down to pieces; but love edifies and builds up.
There is but one shepherd, and one fold, and the sheep know the shepherd's voice, and follow him, and he gives them life eternal; and they are all led by the spirit of God, and are the sons of God; and they have the spirit of Christ, and they are his; and whether they sleep or die, or eat or drink, they are Christ's, for he died for them, and has purchased them with his blood: and therefore, they are not their own, but Christ's; and so they are to glorify him in and with their bodies, souls, and spirits, which are his. But in the world there is a multitude of shepherds, and they have their several flocks and folds; and the shepherds fall out with themselves, and with their flocks about victuals, clothes, days and times; and one while, one shepherd gets the flock, and another while, another shepherd gets the flock; and by these doings the flocks are almost plucked to pieces by the hireling shepherds, which leave the sheep in time of persecution, when they have gotten all the wool they can off their backs, because the sheep were not their own; and when one leaves the flock, then another takes them, and bringing them into his way, from the way that the other led them in, that is fled from them; and then if the second shepherd leave them, and a third take them, he brings them into his way, from the second. And thus the sheep are tossed up and down, and starved; and every shepherd shears the sheep, and plucks the wool off their backs. But Christ lays down his life for his sheep, and abides with them, in all their troubles, and persecutions, and sufferings, he suffers, and is persecuted in his flock of sheep, when the hireling flees because he is a hireling, and cares not for the sheep, for they are none of his own. And you may see as many flocks as there are in the world, there are so many shepherds knowing of them, and keeping them in the world, which the devil has made a wilderness, and a desolate place, among whom it is always winter to the elect. We who are taught of Christ, and know his voice, and follow him, Christ is to us, both in life and death, advantage.
The burnt-offering was to burn all the night until the morning on the altar, and the offerings made by fire, whosoever touches them must be holy, Lev 6:9. Every true christian must read the substance of this within him.
A yoke you have laid upon christians and Christendom, which our forefathers threw off, and would never bear, neither would, nor will those who be of their seed, all your inventions, images, pictures, representations, relics, images of God, and Christ, apostles, saints, and prophets, and images of things in heaven, and in the earth; and the observing of Christ's, and the apostles', and saints' days, which burden you lay on people, which Christ and the apostles did not, which were our forefathers.
You force maintenance from people to your ministers, and so make the gospel chargeable, and so you have become burdensome to the people, and troublesome, and this is not the gospel-way that our forefathers went in. Those who will not give you maintenance, you cast them into prison for failure to pay you, which was not the way of the apostles, and there do keep there many until they die in prison, and such as you do not preach to. This is not glad tidings of peace of the gospel, but war, and strife, and trouble. This burden you lay upon us, which our forefathers and the apostles did not do; for they were not chargeable, but kept the gospel without charge, and did not make merchandize of the words in scripture. Christ said, “freely you have received, freely give;” and “everyone that thirsts, come freely, without money, and without price.” Also all your persecuting about religion, and worship, and church, and faith, and for matters of conscience towards God; and your inventing tortures, and racks, to imprison and torture people that do not conform to your way; this was not the way of the apostles, nor Christ; and so you may see that you have lost the power that Christ and the apostles were in.
Rev 2:10. “Ten days the devil shall cast you into prison, that you may be tried,” which is ten years. Rev 9:5, “Five months the tormentors were to torment the people,” which is one hundred and fifty years. Rev 12:6, The woman, the true church, she fled into the wilderness when she was persecuted by the dragon, and there she was to remain, and to be fed of God twelve hundred and sixty days, so many years. Then the false church got up (called the whore), on the beast, which the dragon, the devil gave his power to, who had power over all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, and they worshipped the beast both small and great, all that had not their names written in the book of life; and that beast he was to continue forty-two months, which is twelve hundred and sixty days, so many years. Rev 13:3-8, Rev 16:19. The great city fell, and was divided into three parts, and did not the Turk get one part, and the protestants another, the pope another? which city is the great whore, the false church; and the cry was, “come out of her, my people, for fear that you be partakers of her plagues:” for plague, sorrow, and mourning were to come upon the whore, and loss of children.
The promises of God are all fulfilled in the seed Christ, and all the promises are fulfilled to the wicked seed, in the woes and plagues, in judgment to the wicked seed, which was the first birth of death spoken of in the scriptures.
What is it that people look at so much? Is it not at some lies and jests that are vain, or at old stories, and at vain light tricks, which the light airy spirit has done, which stirs up the light spirit in others to laughter? So vanity begets vanity, and lightness begets lightness; and such work the light airy spirit does, to pass away his time with plays, and shows, games, and sports, and light vain talk, among whom seriousness and soberness has no place.
GOSPEL LIBERTY, AND THE ROYAL LAW OF LOVE.
From Christ Jesus, who has all power in heaven and earth given unto him; set above Artaxerxes, and Nebuchadnezzar's law and commands; and above the Medes and Persians, and Darius's decrees; being a plain and full testimony against persecutions for tender consciences sake.
—By George Fox
Christ Jesus said, “all power in heaven and earth is given unto me.” Mat 28:18. When Christ sent messengers into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him, and they did not receive him; and when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, will you that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, as Elias did?” Mark, how Christ uses his power to his disciples, who were deserving of rebuke; Christ turned himself about and rebuked them, and said, “you know not what manner of spirit you are of.” Here he lays and stops the revenge which was in his disciples against those that would not receive him, and told them, they did not know what spirit they were of: now, if his disciples did not know what spirit they were of, and were under the rebuke, that would have fire to come down from heaven to consume them that would not receive Christ; how does all Christendom know what manner of spirits they are of, which has imprisoned, banished, and put to death so many about religion? Are they not all under the rebuke of Christ, and not knowing their own spirits? For Christ, who has all power in heaven and earth, said, that the rebuke is to such, whose actions are done out of his power, “that the son of man has not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them.” Now, [mark,] then it follows, those who destroy men's lives (and not save them), about religion, do not have the mind of Christ, neither do they act as from his power, “who has all power in heaven and earth committed to him.”
Also, in Mat 13:24-30, where you may see Christ, who has all power in heaven and earth, uses his power upon the forward servants, that would be plucking up tares, which was not their places, but the angels.' Christ's own words are as follows, in his parable, “The kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that sowed good seed in his field; but while men slept, the enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way: (mark, the tares are sowed while men sleep;) when the blade sprang up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also: so the servants of the householder came, and said unto him, sir, did not you sow good seed in your field? from whence then has it its tares? He said unto them, an enemy has done it; the servant said unto him, would you have us go and pluck them up? But he said, no; for fear that while you attempt to pluck up the tares, you root up the wheat with them.” Here Christ is a judge in matters of religion, who has all power in heaven given unto him; for you may see here that he does not give these forward servants a warrant to pluck up the tares, for fear that they should pluck up the wheat also; but stops them with these words, saying, “let both grow until the harvest; and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, gather you first the tares, and bundle them in bundles to burn them; and gather the wheat into my barn.”
Here Christ stops these forward servants. Christ foresaw the time that men would sleep, and then the enemy would come, and sow his tares; and he also saw that many would be plucking up, which was not their places, and had no commission, nor has any commission from him to this day; and these he stops.
And in Mat 13:26-42, where the disciples came unto Christ, saying, “declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field;” Jesus answered, and said unto them, “the son of man is he that sows the good seed; the field is the world, and the good seed is the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; the enemy that sows them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels; and the tares are gathered to be burned in the fire. So shall it be in the end of this world, the son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of all kingdoms all them that offend, and that do iniquity.” Now mark, may not Christ, (who has all power in heaven and earth), by the power of his word stop all forward persecutors in the world, (which is called the field), where the good and the bad seeds are sown. For, does not he say, “the tares and the wheat must grow until the harvest, and that is the end of the world.” Do not those that would be reaping and gathering before the end of the world, busy themselves, and oppose Christ in his command and power? For seeing Christ said, “He will send forth his angels;” and when, before the harvest? No; or before the end of the world? No; and his angels are his reapers, and so it is not men in the middle of the world, that must be the reapers, and the gatherers of the tares; but it is Christ's angels. When then is the time of reaping? The time of harvest, which is the end of the world; and who are the reapers? The angels. So then it is the angels' work, and not men's. So here it is plain that Christ is the judge in matters of religion, between tares and wheat, who sends forth his angels. For Christ commands men to “love one another,” and to “love enemies.” So those who do not love one another, nor enemies, do not obey the commands of Christ, who has all power in heaven and earth given unto him. For this is his royal command, “love one another;” by this you are known to be the disciples of Christ Jesus. This is the command that Christ Jesus gave unto men and women, who has all power in heaven and earth, that men should love one another, and enemies; and the angels should be reapers. Christ said, “love your enemies, do good to them that hate you, bless them that curse you, pray for them that despitefully use you, and persecute you,” for Christ saw that there would be haters of his seed, and cursers, and despiteful users of it, and persecutors of it, who would be plucking up the wheat believing them tares, and who had no such command from Christ.
Christ said, (John 15:12,17), who has all power in heaven and earth given to him; “this is my commandment, that you love one another, as I loved you.” So, has not Christendom cast this commandment of his behind their backs? Have they loved one another, or observed the commandment of him that has all power? Instead of this, they have persecuted one another; and so cast away the command of Jesus, as the Jews did the law of God, and not walk in it; for herein said Christ, “My Father is glorified, when you bear much fruit; as the Father loved me, so have I loved you; so continue in my love:” so christians not continuing in the love of Christ, with which he has loved them, they cannot bring forth fruits, so they cannot glorify Christ, nor the Father; “for if you keep my commandments you abide in my love, even as I have kept my Father's commandment, and abide in his love.” So here christians may see, those who abide not in the love, but in the enmity, they have not kept the commands of Christ: “and you are my friends if you do whatsoever I command you; and this is my commandment, that you love one another, as I loved you;” and so it is plain, that these called christians, that love not one another, are no friends to Christ Jesus, neither regard his power, nor doctrine.
Mark Christ's words further, where he said, “remember the words I said unto you, the servant is not greater than his lord, if they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my sayings, they will keep yours also.” But now, christians, you that persecute, are out of Christ's mind, and power, and command, who said, “love enemies,” and “love one another;” and so, those who persecute have neither kept the sayings of Christ, nor the sayings of the apostles. So all you that profess yourselves to be christians, and claim Christ Jesus, and that God has sent him, you are not to persecute one another, nor enemies; but the command of Christ (to whom all power in heaven and earth is given), is to you, to “love one another,” for that edifies the body, and overcomes the evil. That is the law of love that is to be among christians. This is the royal law from he, who has all power, is King of kings, and Lord of lords. This love bears all things, endures all things, hopes all things, is not provoked; for that which is provoked will run into words and actions, enmity and persecution, malice and hatred, which are the works of the flesh, which are judged all down by the law of love. So by keeping the law of love, you keep down that which would be provoked. So love overcomes the enmity, and the light overcomes the darkness, and the righteousness overcomes the unrighteousness, as life overcomes death and the power of it, and so good overcomes evil. Where is this universal life, and universal love among you christians, whereby you might come out of your narrow angry spirit, into a loving and universal spirit?
And Christ taught his christian disciples to pray, who has all power in heaven and earth given to him, which is a common prayer to all Christendom, for all can say it, and said it in words; “forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors; for if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your father forgive you your trespasses:” and this prayer differed from the Pharisees, who stood praying in the synagogues, and did not forgive, as christians now, who say this common prayer of Christ, to God the Father, forgive us, as we do forgive them that trespass against us; and that is, they ask no forgiveness at all for themselves, if they do not forgive. Oh, that they would come to that by which they might see their blindness, and the chain that they are under. For if christians do transgress and trespass one against another in their religions and worships; the papists against the common prayer, and the common prayer against the papist, they must forgive one another; and the Presbyterian, Baptist, Independent, Lutherans, Calvinists, do not you all profess Christ, and God that sent him? do you not all say Christ's common prayer? and have you not trespassed one against another in matters of religion, and worship, and church? then must you not all forgive one another, according to Christ's prayer, who has all power in heaven, and if you ask the Lord to be forgiven, as you do forgive, and you do not forgive, then you ask for no forgiveness; for mark your words, you ask to forgive us, as we do forgive them that trespass against us; so, mark the word [as,] as you forgive, so you would be forgiven, and no otherwise: and so as you do persecute, and cast into prison, and banish one another called christians, and keep the debts in your books; think you not that your debts stand in God's book; and that he will banish you from the land of the living, and cast you into everlasting imprisonment, from the presence of God and his angels, as you may read the dreadful sentence in Matthew 25:31-46, wherein Christ said to them that are the goats, on the left hand; (they are on the left hand, and not on the right hand; for it is the sheep are on the right hand), “depart from me you cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was an hungry, and you gave me no meat; I was thirsty, and you gave me no drink;” [mark,] these were they on the left hand, whether they are called christians, or whatever. Those on the left hand are forwarder to take meat and drink from Christ, and his little ones, than to give it them; and to cast them into prison until death, for their bellies; but those are such as the apostle speaks of, “that serve not the Lord Jesus Christ, but their own bellies.” And Christ further said, “I was a stranger, and you took me not in; and naked and you clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and you visited me not.” And they on the left hand shall answer and say unto Christ, “when saw we you hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, sick, or in prison, and did we not minister to you?” Listen to Christ's answer to them; “in-as-much as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.” Therefore, hear the sentence by him, who has all power in heaven and earth, to them on the left hand which are the goats: “go away into everlasting punishment; but the righteous into life eternal.” Now they on the left hand, whether they are called christians, or whatever, they are more likely to make men strangers, than to take in strangers, who banish them from their wives and families, and native land; and more likely to make naked and make sick, than to clothe, and to visit; and to imprison, than to visit in prison; and those who do so, press the seed of God in themselves, from where the love of God flows. Such men do that which they should not do; for they should love one another; and it is the angels' work to reap at the harvest, which is the end of the world, and not men's. Only Christ is to judge in matters of religion. So he judges, as you may see by the parable of the talents, in which those that had improved their talent had their reward; but he that did not improve his talent was an unprofitable servant, “to be cast into utter darkness, where shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” And you that say, when shall this occur? The answer is: “when the son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him; then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory, and before him shall be gathered all nations; and he shall separate one from the other, as a shepherd divides the sheep from the goats; and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, and the goats on the left hand.” So here it is plainly seen that Christ is the only judge in matters of religion, and in dividing sheep from goats. So it is not man, in his own dark reason, that cast the law of Christ Jesus behind his back, (which is, “to love one another,”) which ought to be his rule, for Christ is to be judge in matters of religion.
As Christ said, who has all power in heaven and earth, “blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth;” then those who are not meek do not inherit this blessing. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled;” then those who hunger and thirst after unrighteousness, and drink up iniquity, as an ox drinks up water, and persecute the righteous for his righteousness sake, they obtain not this blessing. “Blessed be the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy;” now the cruel, and the persecuting, unmerciful, obtain not this blessing. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” So the impure in heart, that love the evil, and hate the light, and love darkness better than light, do not come to be partakers of this blessing, nor see God. “Blessed are the peace-makers, for they shall be called the children of God.” those who are the strife-makers among the people, (in strife for their bellies, and outward things), are not the children of God, and have not this blessing; “blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.” Then what blessing do the persecutors have? What kingdom is theirs? Judge you: “blessed are you when men shall revile and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you for my sake, and the gospel;” then it follows, the revilers and persecutors do not have that blessing.
Query. What evil could any, both in their other powers, days, and now, find in the people called Quakers, other than concerning their beliefs of Christ, and their God; for which they have been persecuted, banished, and imprisoned until death.
But here you may see Christ, who had all power in heaven and earth, saw that there would be persecutors, and speakers of all manner of evil against his people falsely, for his sake; but he encourages the persecuted, and tells them “rejoice, and be glad exceedingly, for great is your reward in heaven:” So here you may see that their reward is not from the earth: “for so,” said Christ, “they persecuted the prophets that went before you,” which was to let them know that persecution was no new thing. Nevertheless, Christ encourages them, that they are the salt of the earth, his children, and the salt makes the earth savory; and they were the light of the world, and a city set on a hill cannot be hidden; so that they could not be hidden from the persecutors, and such as did speak all manner of evil against them falsely, for his sake. Further, Christ said, to encourage them, “that the light should be put on a lamp stand, and not under a bushel to be hidden, but to give light to all the house; for they were the light of the world;” and tells them, “let their light shine before men, that they might behold and see their good works, and glorify their Father which is in heaven.” This was to keep their eyes above them that persecuted, and spoke all manner of evil of them. So here you may see that the prophets, and the children of the kingdom did not suffer as just men in the eyes of the persecutors; for Stephen did not suffer as a just man in the eyes of his persecutors, but as a blasphemer, Acts 7:51-59. Christ Jesus, in the eyes of the persecuting priests, scribes, and Pharisees, did not suffer by them as a just man, but was accounted a deceiver; and the chief priests mocked him, wagging their heads at him; and that is the way of the persecuting spirit now. But Christ said, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Now, you christians that persecute, are you not so blind that you do not know what you do? When the great persecuting professing Jews cried against Christ, “crucify him, crucify him,” nothing but death would serve them; did not Christ say to Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now my kingdom is not from here;” which shows that the kingdom of the world is for the fighters. Christ, who had all power in heaven and earth given unto him, would not defend himself against all his persecutors, mocking priests, and professors. Just as you may see the greatest persecuting professors in Christendom will now mock those whom they persecute. Such persecuting believers have cast the law of Jesus behind their backs. As Christ prayed to his Father to forgive his persecutors, so now do the Quakers who have the mind of Christ, although he had all power given unto him, and could have prayed unto his Father for legions of angels, to defend him.
You read in the scriptures that the great professors of scriptures, the Jews, said that Christ was a deceiver, and he was mad, and had a devil, and by the prince of devils cast out devils. Christ knew this was for religion sake, and for his virtue and Sonship; and although he had all power in heaven and earth given unto him; yet he did not give forth any law against them to have them punished, though they would have stoned him, and took up stones to stone him, who is the King of kings, and Lord of lords. He did not give forth any command or warrant to force any to their good behavior; for he suffered for his good profession and testimony. Oh, people, who call yourselves christians, lift up your eyes, that Christ may be your example, and follow him. Don’t follow the man of sin, who was a persecutor, a caster in prison, and a murderer from the beginning; for the proof you may see in the Revelation, it is said, “the devil shall cast some of you in prison ten days.”
Peter said to Christ, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said unto him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.
Oh, you people that call yourselves christians, how unlike minded are you unto Christ in this? how short, narrow, and impatient-spirited are you that persecute one another, and cannot bear one another, and forgive one another, and be patient one towards another, and love one another? and so Christ after he had spoken to Peter, he spoke a parable, how that “the kingdom of heaven is likened to a certain king which would take account of his servants: and when he began to reckon, one was brought unto him which owed him ten thousand talents; but for-as-much as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made; the servant fell down, and said, lord have pity upon me, and I will pay you all: and the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, loosed him, and forgave him the debt:” [mark,] here is the mercy, and the compassion, and the loosing, and the forgiveness in the acknowledgment, from the Lord the King of heaven; “But the same servant went out and found one of his fellow-servants, which owed him one hundred pence; he laid hands of him, and took him by the throat, saying, pay me that you owe me; and though his fellow-servant said he would pay him, and besought him to have patience, and he would pay him all, he cast him into prison until he paid the debt.”
Is not this like unto the envious, unmerciful, impatient professing Jews and christians, that are so passionate and mad, and casting into prison for every small matter; yes, and some that owes them nothing, neither sets them on work, as instance the priests and bishops.
When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened. Then the master called the servant in. 'You wicked servant,' he said, 'I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?' In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.” “So,” says Christ, “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.” Oh, you that are called christians, and go by that name, that are so subject, and so forward, to take your brother by the throat, and hauling them into prison until your will is satisfied, and make your brethren trespassers, when they are none, and cast them into prison, when you have neither law nor ground, but to satisfy your wills; consider the sentence of Christ, how that he said his Heavenly Father will deliver you up to the tormentors, until that you have paid him his due, if you do not forgive from your hearts your brethren, who trespass against you. No, many of you cannot forgive what is no really not a trespass, but with anger and envy will take revenge; for this, would you take vengeance out of the hand of God, who said, “Vengeance is mine, and I will repay it?” Everyone who does wrong, shall incur a penalty for the wrong that he does; God respects no man's person, and so this might convince you: let the tares and the wheat grow together until the harvest; for God would give them their reward according to their deeds, whether they are good or evil. Let all Christendom lay away this law of persecuting one another, and cease it; but mind that law, which Christ Jesus commanded, who has all power in heaven and earth, which is the law of love, and the great commandment, “to love one another, and enemies,” and this is what must unite all Christendom in a uniformity and conformity to their head Christ Jesus, their law-maker, and commandment-giver.
In Mat 22:36-40, Christ said, “you shall love your neighbor as yourself, you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” This spoke Christ to the lawyers when they came to ensnare him by their questions, as many do now the children of his kingdom. So now how short of the mark are you, you called christians, of the law and the prophets, in the practice of Christ's doctrine; for if you loved your neighbors as yourselves, then how can you imprison? How can you banish? How can you spoil goods? How can you burn? How can you hang your neighbors? How can you love and serve God with all your hearts and your souls, and destroy your fellow-creatures, the works of his hands, and for matter of religion and worship of God, whom you profess to love? Although you all profess God and Christ, and yet destroy one another about your religion and worship, this is contrary to his command, who has all power in heaven and earth. This is contrary to his command, which is to love one another, and enemies, and contrary to his law of love, and contrary to his doctrine and example, “who came not to destroy men's lives, but to save them.” Christ severely rebuked those who would have had men's lives destroyed; and told all “to do unto all men, as you would have them do unto you.” Mark this royal law and command, and do not cast it out from among you; for you would not have any man to persecute you, or imprison you? Would you have any to banish you, and put you to death for your religion and worship? Would you have any man to spoil your goods, and to have you from your families, and to keep you in prison until death, and while your wives are made widows, and children fatherless, for your religion? So what you would not have men do unto you, do not you unto others, for the royal law of liberty respects no man's person. So do unto others, as you would have others do unto you, and this keeps all to an even balance, and just weight; and so observe the royal law of liberty.
The two sons of Zebedee, when their mother came with them to Christ, and desired of him that her two sons should sit one on his right hand, and the other on the left hand in his kingdom. When the ten other disciples heard it, they were moved with indignation against the two brethren. Here you may see what caused indignation; that is, one disciple to be above another; but Jesus, who has all power in heaven and earth, to take away this offence, and clear all, and stop all, he called the disciples to him, and said, “you know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they are called gracious lords; but it shall not be so among you;” and this was to keep the ministers of the gospel equal brethren, and not to exercise lordship and authority one over another in matters of religion and faith; for it was the Gentiles that exercised lordship. To confirm this, he said, “whosoever will be chief among you, let him be a servant; and the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for all: and be not you called of men rabbi, for one is your master, even Christ, and you all are brethren,” and so not to be called lords like the Gentiles. Christ said, by way of prophesy, how that the Jews, and others, “should kill, and crucify, and scourge you in the synagogue, and from city to city, that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel, to the blood of Zechariah, son of Barachias, whom you slew between the temple and the altar.” And so upon whom must all the righteous blood come that has been shed in all Christendom about religion, since Christ's and the apostles' days, who have manifested the spirit of the Jews in scourging in your synagogues, and from place to place, such as Christ has sent among you?
Did not Christ say, “how can you,” that follow such practices, whom he called a generation of vipers, “escape the damnation of hell?” and therefore, he said, “be you witnesses, that you are the children of them that killed the prophets.” So is not the same to be said to you that persecute now? Witness that you are the children of those who killed Christ and the apostles, and his witnesses, and saints, and martyrs, that kept the testimony of Jesus since the apostles' days, and that fill up the measure of your forefathers. Did not Christ say, “Oh, Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you that kill the prophets, and stone them that are sent unto you; how often would I have gathered you, as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, but you would not? Behold, your houses are left desolate unto you.”
Was not Jerusalem the highest place of profession, where those persecutors, murderers, and killers of the Lord's prophets lived? What may be said of Christendom, and her highest place of worship; look both among papists and protestants? How many have they killed and persecuted that were sent among them by Christ? Do you think that Christ does not weep over you, whom you thereby daily pierce; and if the persecutors' houses at Jerusalem were to be left desolate, then what will become of your houses, who call yourselves christians, and yet are found persecutors? Do you think that all persecutors' houses will not be left desolate, though they are ever so high professors of the scriptures; will not their houses be left desolate of God and Christ? Read Mat 23. And does not Christ say, “If you have anything against your brother, leave your gift at the altar, and go and be reconciled to your brother, and then offer it;” and so should not all the christians in the whole world be reconciled to one another before they offer their gift to God and Christ, whose law is, “They should love one another.”
And whereas it is said, in 1 Pet 2:17. “Honor all men: love the brotherhood: fear God, and honor the king.” [Mark,] To fear God, is not to grieve nor offend him, but to be subject to him, and reverence him. To honor all men, and to honor the king, is to have the king, and all men in esteem; and to esteem the king, is not to hurt the king, nor any man; and this lays waste all persecution, and persecutors; for how can they say they esteem the king, or esteem any man, if they persecute him? So as all true christians are brethren in Christ Jesus, they are to love the brotherhood, and so to keep the law and command of Christ; and one christian persecuting another about religion and worship, is not to love the brotherhood.
At the council of the great professing Jews, when the apostles were brought before the council and high priests, and they charged them “they should not preach anymore in the name of Jesus.” The apostles replied, “whether they ought to obey God rather than man, judge you.” The apostle said further to them, “the God of our forefathers has raised up Jesus, whom you slew and hung on a tree, and God has exalted him at his right hand to be a Prince, and a Saviour, and to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins;” and the apostle said, “we are witnesses of these things.” When the council heard these things, they, who had before slain the Son, took counsel together how they might slay the apostles. Here all may see this persecuting, murdering spirit, that persecuted in all ages. You may say now, had we been in the days of Christ and the apostles, we would not have killed them; so those who persecute, may see they are in the same spirit as the persecutors were, in the apostles' days, and not in the spirit of Christ and the apostles. But then one stood up in the council, when they took counsel to kill the apostles, who was a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, held in repute among all the people, and commanded to put the apostles forth a little space; and said unto them, “you men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what you do touching these men,” when he had convinced them by arguments, as Acts 5:33-41. “Let them alone,” said he, “for if this counsel or this work is of men, it will come to nothing; but if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it; for fear that perhaps you are found even to fight against God.” So, to Gamaliel the council and high priest agreed, and called the apostles, whom they had beaten, and commanded them to speak no more in the name of Jesus. Yet the apostles departed, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer for his name; and the apostles went and taught daily afterwards in the temple, and every house Christ Jesus.
Now would some in our days say, the apostles brought sufferings upon their own heads, and that they did it to provoke the magistrates, as some in our days have said. You may see this persecuting council, though they had agreed to Gamaliel, yet they persecuted the apostles.
Have not they, called christians in Christendom, lacked a Gamaliel among them, to moderate and to stop them from banishing, killing, burning, imprisoning, and spoiling of goods? For this Gamaliel was a Jew, and christians think themselves above a Jew; but where is the Gamaliel's spirit among you, that say, “if it is of God it will stand;” showing that they knew not whether it was of God or not? Where is Gamaliel's caution in Christendom: “let them alone, restrain yourselves, if it is of God it will stand; if it is the work of men, it will come to nothing. If it is of God you cannot overthrow it; therefore, take heed for fear that you be found fighters against God.” Therefore, what became of all the Jews that were found fighters against God and Christ? What is become of the pope, and all those persecuting powers before you? So see if there is not a Gamaliel's spirit and council lacking among you, to moderate the persecuting spirit; mind Gamaliel's counsel in Acts 5. For indeed the true christians are above Gamaliel, for they know that which they preach to be of God, though the moderate Gamaliel, (whose spirit is beyond the spirit that is in Christendom), cried, “if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it,” and so stopped them from violent persecution. So have not the christian priests and bishops need of such a Gamaliel to moderate and regulate them, and hold their reins from proceeding on to persecution? Does not the apostle say, “that christians should not bite one another, for fear that they should devour and consume one another, but love one another?” Love fulfills the law of Christ Jesus, which is the law of love, for the law of love preserves; and if they keep the law of love, they will not bite one another, nor consume one another, nor persecute one another, nor spoil one another, as they have done.
The apostle said, to the christians in the primitive times, before the apostasy came in, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but spiritual, mighty through God, to the pulling down of strong holds, casting down of every imagination, and every high thought that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” 2 Cor 10:4-5.
Now, [mark,] “the strong holds,” the high imaginations, and high thoughts, were not brought down by carnal weapons, nor that which exalts itself against the knowledge of God, but by spiritual weapons. Here it is clear that one christian did not persecute another with carnal weapons; for their war was not after the flesh, nor was their wrestling with flesh and blood. That which gives the knowledge of God, is the light which shines in the heart. Since the apostles' days, instead of plucking down the imaginations and high thoughts, and bringing that down to the obedience of Christ, which exalts itself, which is the spirit's work, persecutors have wrestled with flesh and blood, and warred after the flesh, not having the power as the apostles had. So they have lost the apostles' warfare and weapons, which were spiritual, and have gotten carnal weapons in the place of them. The apostle also spoke to the Ephesians, who were the christians in the primitive times, he said, “my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might, and put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” This was God's armor, and not man's, “having their loins girded with truth, and the breastplate of salvation, and their feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, and taking the shield of faith, wherewith you shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked, and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God.”
[Mark.] These were the weapons of the christians in the primitive times, with which they warred and wrestled against principalities and powers, rulers of darkness of this world, and spiritual wickedness in high places. “For,” said he, “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood.” So here it is plain that the primitive christians did not use carnal weapons, clubs and staves, like Judas's company, to persecute and haul one another, or those that were of a different opinion to theirs, to prison, or banish them. For if they had, they must have used carnal weapons, and wrestled with flesh and blood. So with spiritual wickedness they wrestled with spiritual weapons, which weapons the apostate christians have degenerated from, and therefore have taken up carnal weapons. We know, and you should know, that the shield of faith, and the breastplate of righteousness, and the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit, and the word of God, and the feet shod with the gospel, and truth to be the belt; these are the spiritual weapons, and this is the armor of God, which the christians in the primitive times used, by which they did not wrestle with flesh and blood, nor war after the flesh with carnal weapons. Those who have warred after the flesh with carnal weapons since the apostles' days about religion and church, are in that spirit and power that the apostles and primitive christians warred against. They, who war in the flesh, have the scriptures in their carnal minds, warring and wrestling with flesh and blood, which are judged and reproved by the apostles' and primitive christians' words.
To the christians in the primitive times, the apostles' doctrine was they were not to avenge themselves, but rather to give place to wrath, “for vengeance is mine, said the Lord, and I will repay it.” So they were to follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man should see the Lord; “not to render evil for evil, nor railing for railing; but contrariwise blessing, knowing that they are thereunto called, that they should inherit the blessing.” 1 Pet 3:9. They were to overcome evil with good, and “you shall heap coals of fire on his head in so doing. Therefore, if possible, as much as in you lies, live peaceably with all men, repay to no one evil for evil.”
Now people, you may see how this doctrine and practice of the primitive christians is laid aside in Christendom, by such as have a form of godliness, but deny the power, who are to be turned away from, who have rendered evil for evil, and takes revenge, as 2 Tim 3:5. The apostle said, “every soul must be subject to the higher power:” [mark,] the soul is immortal, and the power is so. For he says, “there is no power but it is of God, and the powers that be are ordained of God, and he that resists the power, resists the ordinance of God.” So the power is not to be spoken against, nor resisted; for it being ordained of God, the soul must be subject to it, “for rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Will you then not be afraid of the power? Do that which is good, and you shall have praise of the same.”
[Mark.] This power is not against the good, but against the evil; it is not a terror to the good, but to the evil. The good has its praise by the power, and is not afraid of it, but the evil is afraid, and it is a terror to it; “so he is a minister of God to you for good; but he that does evil is afraid of the power, for he bears not the sword in vain. For he is the minister of God to revenge the wrath upon him that does evil;” but not upon the good. So here he makes a distinction, the good from the evil, the higher power is a praise to the good. Therefore we must be subject not only for fear of wrath, but also for conscience sake, that is, to be subject to the power that is a praise to the good, and a terror to the evil. Now when magistrates acted contrary to the power, (as you may read in the scripture), ordained of God, then he sent his prophets and servants, to cry against the corruptions of the magistrates, (not against the power, which God had ordained); and such magistrates if they did not return to the power, you may read how often God overturned them. You may see often such magistrates in the scriptures, who have turned the sword backwards against the righteous and let the guilty go free; making no difference between the precious and the vile. For this reason have we paid our taxes and dues; so custom to whom custom, honor to whom honor, fear to whom fear. We have not been behind on our part; they have had their tribute, and the magistrates their customs and their dues, though they have turned their sword against us, against the good, while drunkards, swearers and evildoers were set at liberty. We have not been behind on our duties, though they have been on theirs, but we leave them all to the Lord, to plead with them all.
The apostle said to the christians, “owe nothing to any man, but love one another, for love fulfils the law.” So they who do not love one another, and are out of love; and it is clear they do not fulfill the law, but break it. Are not christians great debtors in this? The apostle said, “you shall not commit adultery, nor kill, nor steal, nor bear false witness, nor covet.” If there is any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying: “you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Here it is clear, this higher power, which God's ministers attend upon continually, is not against the liberty of true christians, nor does it take hold upon people in matters of religion and worship; but such as kill, commit adultery, steal, and covet; here is nothing of this higher power's meddling with difference in religion, or to be any terror to them, but to the evildoers; but this higher power is a praise to all that own God, and profess Christ Jesus, and live in his life; and all christians are “to stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ has made them free.”
Now the apostle, who said, “tribute to whom tribute, and custom to whom custom,” this was to the magistrates, and that they should have their dues. This does not concern the priests' tithes, for the apostle plainly declared against tithes, and said, “the law was changed by which the priesthood was made, and the commandment disannulled which gave tithes,” Heb 7, and he preached up another priesthood: “Christ Jesus made higher than the heavens.” Now as the apostle said, “love works no evil to its neighbor, and love is the fulfilling of the law,” and this keeps him out of killing, stealing, committing adultery, and bearing false witness, and this keeps him from under the magistrates' sword, who is subject to the power, which is a praise to him that does well. He that loves his neighbor as himself, will not kill his neighbor, nor bear false witness against him, nor steal from him, nor commit adultery, for those are the actions of the evildoer the law is a terror against. Rom 13:1-10.
The apostle said to the Galatians, the law is fulfilled in one word, “you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” So if the law is fulfilled, then it does not take hold upon such that love their neighbor as themselves. You, who are led by the spirit of God, are not under the law. Those who are led by the evil spirit into drunkenness, envy, and murder, and strife, and hatred; such fruits come under the law, and the higher power is a terror to them. Gal 5:18-21. Those who love their neighbor as themselves, do not bite, nor devour, nor consume one another; but those who hate their neighbors, and bite and consume one another, these do not fulfill the law, but break it; cast your eye over Christendom, and you may see these fruits. The persecution came for the sake of the cross of Christ, which cross was the power, before the wood and stone was; and therefore those who persecute, are out of the higher power, and cross, and life of Christ Jesus.
The apostle says to Timothy, “we know the law is good, if a man uses it lawfully.” Now, [mark,] a man must use it lawfully, and then it is good. “Knowing this,” said the great apostle of Christ Jesus, “that the law is not made for a righteous man.” Therefore those who are righteous men, and the Quakers, whom no evil can be charged against in their lives and conducts, the law is not to be laid upon them, if is administered lawfully. “For,” said the great apostle, “the law was made for the lawless, disobedient, for sinners, unholy, profane, murderers of fathers and mothers, man-slayers, whoremongers, such as defile themselves with mankind, men-stealers, liars, perjured persons,” to such the law is a terror, for these are the evildoers, which law is a praise to them that are good. So the law here was not made to limit people from worshipping God, those owning God and Christ; but for such as the above-mentioned. This is according to sound doctrine, and also according to the blessed gospel of God, which was committed to the apostles' trust, which he taught and laid down to be observed among the primitive christians, which others, apostatized from his life, have degenerated from, and have not observed his sound doctrine; but many have turned the sword backward, and the laws upon righteous men, which it was not made for, and that has not been according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, nor according to the higher power, but the devil, from where persecution has arisen.
When the Pharisees took counsel how they might entangle Christ in his talk, they sent from their councils their disciples with the Herodians, saying, “we know, master, that you are true, neither care you for any man, for you regard not the person of men, tell us, therefore, what do you think you, is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not?” Jesus perceiving their wickedness, said, “why do you tempt me, you hypocrites? show me the tribute-money, and they brought unto him a penny, he said unto them, “whose is this image, and superscription? They said unto him, Caesar's: then said he unto them, “render therefore unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.”
[Mark,] Those that came to tempt Christ were of the Jews, the great professors, and Caesar was a heathen. The Jews were under the power of the heathen, having lost the life of that which they did profess, and that spirit in them would have brought Christ under Caesar, by the temptations; these he calls hypocrites, who professed the scriptures, and were not in the life of them, as all others are as this day, who are found in the same nature that would ensnare. But Christ, who is the wisdom of God, confounded them. Caesar must have his things; and what are his things, but his tribute, his custom, and that which his superscription is upon? So other kings, whose image is set upon their money, must have their dues; but as well as people, God must have his things of Caesar, and the council of the great professing Jews. What are God's things? Where his image and superscription is written in the heart, God must have his things; so see each superscription and image. So let Caesar have his due where his superscription and image is; so the superscription and image of Caesar to Caesar, and God's writing and image to himself; for the holy one must have his liberty, and not be limited, and so here everything is in its place. Mat 22:17-21.
The apostle said, “whatever is not of faith is sin.” Rom 14:23, showing, that the true faith is not sin, for it is that which gives the victory over sin, and access to God, and purifies the heart. Therefore to bring people to that which is not of faith, is to bring them into sin, and to make them to make shipwreck of their faith, and of a good conscience, seeing that the mystery of faith is held in the good and pure conscience. Therefore the true faith must have its liberty, which gives the victory, in which God is pleased, and who are of faith are of Abraham.
The great apostle Paul, said to the Corinthians, “that we do not have dominion or power over your faith, but we are helpers of your joy, for by faith you stand.” Now, [mark,] all you that are in Christendom, who call yourselves christians, who persecute about religion; have you not degenerated from the apostles, because you attempt to have dominion and power over men's faith? Is not the case plain, that you would not allow the faith, which is the gift of God, to have its liberty? So you are out of the true faith, the gift of God, which the apostles were in; and so are not helpers of the joy of those who are in the true faith, because you yourselves are not standing by it. Why did the apostle tell them to stand fast in the faith? Because they knew there were some who would oppose their faith. 1 Cor 16:13, 2 Cor 1:24.
Did the apostles not council among themselves, for does he not say, “we have not dominion or power over your faith.” If they had said that they had power over their faith, they might have said they had power over the gift of God, for “faith was the gift of God;” and that they had power over Christ, “who was the author of faith, and finisher of it;” but the apostle said, “they were helpers of one another's joy, in the faith they were to build up one another in:” so it is clear that God must have his liberty, who is the author and finisher of faith, which men must not have power over, no not the apostles, for by one faith they all stand.
The gospel that the apostles preached “had not been received from man, nor by man, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ, which was the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes.” This gospel, the power of God, which is liberty, is to have its liberty, and men must have their liberty in it; for if men turn against the power, they turn against the gospel, and bring destruction upon themselves, in persecuting.
This web site's purpose is to show how to become