LOVE of Early Quakers
I give you a new commandment,
that you love one another;
and that you love one another as I have loved you.
By this all men shall know that you are my disciples,
if you have love for each other.
By your producing of much fruit, my Father is honored and glorified,
and you show that you are truly my disciples [true followers].
Therefore by their fruit you shall know them.
The fruit of the Spirit is Love,
joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith,
gentleness [or meekness, or humility], and self-control.
I recall in 1980 when I was searching for evidence in Christian history for something close to what was described in the Bible, in love and power. I came across a book, called Early Quaker Writings, not written by Quakers, where they mentioned that the early Quaker men wrote letters to one another, expressing their love for each other - something they said was unique in all their historical research. That was the tip off for me to dig deeper into the early Quaker record. The letters exhibited below are a reflection of the Christian love that all the brothers and sisters in Christ felt for one another - a pure, clean, holy love that evidenced their true Christianity. A love that is only possible when one's selfish spirit has died on the inward cross of self-denial, to be replaced by the Sprit of Love, as was the request of Christ for his disciples and those who would follow their words and teachings; for them to be filled with the same love that the Father had bestowed on Jesus himself:
I have declared to them your name, and will declare it, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them. .
And Christ further declared that this godly love, surpassing anything seen in the world, would be the mark of his disciples, so the world would know them:
I give you a new commandment: that you should love one another.
Just as I have loved you, so you too should love one another.
By this shall all know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.
When you add the early Quakers' love for each other, to their persecutions, and consider the power they exhibited - their authenticity is without question. And so, therefore, is their promise of perfection and purity, for that which brings salvation shows one's sins, and the same takes them away.
Regarding the Quakers' care for Friends within the Society: widows, orphans, sick, poor, imprisoned, old, young; they were all cared for by the Quakers. If one assembly was overburdened with expense of care, other assemblies would contribute to their assistance, nationwide and even overseas. Their care for their own was so thorough that "there was not a beggar among them," and when a local government would discover that they were providing assistance, which the government was obligated to fund, the government would suddenly drop their opposition to their meetings and assemblies. From George Fox's Journal, "The justices and officers confessed that we did their work, and would pass away peaceably and lovingly, commending Friends' practice."
Regarding their care for all men: from the Journal, "Sometimes there would be two hundred of the poor of other people (non-Quakers) to come and wait until the meeting was done, (for all the country knew we met about the poor); and after the meeting, Friends would send to the bakers for bread, and give everyone of those poor people a loaf, however many there were of them; for we were taught 'to do good to all, though especially to the household of faith.'"
A Short Letter to the Faithful from George Fox
TO ALL THAT LOVE THE LORD JESUS CHRIST.
Dear Hearts,—You love the Lord Jesus Christ, and not him alone, but Christ, with all his train. Great shall be your compensation: for your love you shall have loves, (Song 7:12.) Amores, a plurality and infinity of loves; which none but God in Christ has to bestow. The best of his relations upon earth, have but single love (and it is happy they have love) to the brethren; but Christ has loves for the smallest of you, the least of his. May you and all his, (in whom there are yet but buds, scarce visible appearances of graces), prove fruitful vines, grow from buds to blossoms, from blossoms to abundance of fruits; that when the Lord shall get up early to visit his vineyard, you may feast him with pleasant fruits, new and old; you may bless him for his loves of former and latter days, and be ever to him an humble, holy, and thankful, and to his brethren a comforting people. Glory in your white robe; you wear the signal favors of the King of kings, and Lord of hosts, the great and mighty Jehovah, love; by which I know to whom you belong, because you love the brethren.
James Parnell's Letter to the Brothers and Sisters in London,
written from the Prison where he died,
he being the first of 869 early Quakers to die in prison.
(Site Editor's Comment: While there are surely other Quaker writings that compare, I have discovered none that exceed the beauty of the words, the encouragement, and the especially the love conveyed in this letter by James Parnell.)
To my dear Friends, brethren, and sisters in the city of London.
To you translated ones my love from the life does flow. You that are translated and renewed in heart and mind; [To be translated, is to be in the Kingdom], you that are separated and redeemed from among the children of this world, and the pollutions and abominations that they live in. In you are established the works of the new creation, where dwells righteousness. You are beautiful within, and are adorned within, and are decent within, and are purified and cleansed within by the precious Blood of the Lamb, with whom you are crucified; who are in Him; who have put on the wedding garment, and are admitted to the table of the Lord, and are partakers of the holy union.
Oh, you blessed of the Lord, you babes and children of the Most High, who dwell in purity and reign in majesty, who have established and set up His throne in your
Hearts. In you is my joy and great delight. Yes, I remember you, when you were tender and springing up, but by waiting on the Lord, you have renewed your strength, and the more is my joy made full in you; and you are made precious in my sight, you are the inward Jews, of the heart circumcision, redeemed from kindred, tongues, languages and people, who have come to the heavenly Jerusalem, there to worship the Father in Spirit and in truth, whom He has chosen to bear His holy image, which has been so much defaced in the world, and in you to exalt, and glorify his name of holiness among the heathen, and them that know Him not, now in this day, in which He is visiting the earth with judgment, and with mercy, and with mighty power, to call to account the inhabitants of the earth. And blessed are you, who have responded to His voice; you shall sing, and rejoice, when others shall weep, and mourn, and howl; though your portions [now] among them are sufferings, scornings, mockings, deridings, backbitings, revilings, persecutions, stripes, and imprisonments; yet have you learned to account these things riches, who know the Comforter within you, and your Redeemer to live with you. I do rejoice in all these things, being now made partaker of them. I am not unknown to you; my voice you know of old. Oh how do I long to see your faces, but in that I am straitened for a time! My life is bound up in many of your hearts, which makes me so that I cannot forget you, though my body is kept in
strait bonds; but the straitness will be broken, when He has perfected HIS praise in them, who is my only keeper and supporter.
Oh, you simple doves, who sit without guile in your mouths! Oh, how I am ravished with the love of you, when I behold you in spirit! You who have given up unto death, to the famine, to the sword, and to the fire; and have patiently submitted unto the Father's will, and willingly sacrificed up your lusts and affections; your faith is imputed to you for righteousness; and the God whom you have trusted and believed in, will make you rich in Him, and give you incorruptible substance, and an inheritance that never fades. In measure you can set your seals to what is written unto you.
But some have listened to the evil spirit, which has brought evil tidings of the good land; and those have turned back into Egypt and joined with the magicians there to harden Pharaoh’s heart against the innocent, and filled the mouth of the heathen with blasphemous speeches. But let them go on; "he that is filthy, let him be filthy still;” for He comes quickly, whose reward is with Him to give to them according to their doing. But all things work together for the good of you, who stand in the faith, who are not moved with the winds that blow or the storms that come against you, who watch the hand of Providence in all these things, which
brings good out of evil to you children of God, who abide in the Truth, and stray not.
So, as you have tasted, felt, known and experienced of Him, so trust in Him, and remain in your sure confidence, which has been created in you by His Word; and be as lights in the dark world both by word and conversation, that in all things you may be approved by the Father's [Spirit] in your consciences, as faithful and obedient children, every one in your calling, where you were called, that you may obtain the prize there in the end of your race. Oh, lift up your heads and look up to the Father, and see how he has tendered you, and how his love has been tendered towards you all along, who has not left you without instructors and nursing fathers, who have watched over you with tender care. In much love and tenderness am I drawn forth towards you little ones, who spring from the root of the vine, because you bear my Father’s image. Long have I waited to write to you, and lately I had an opening  of you, which caused me to visit you with this epistle; for you have often times been in my remembrance, though I could not write. And now you must read me in that love, which tongue cannot express, and in that epistle which is written in your hearts, without either paper or ink, by the immortal Word of life, and there my name you will know.
So the Lord God Almighty, the keeper of Israel, overshadow you, and in His holy presence keep you pure and innocent, that you may show forth His praise in the earth, and shine forth His praise in the earth, and shine as sons and daughters of Zion; into whose blessed protection I commit you, and do lie down with you, who am a sufferer in outward bonds by the will of men for the innocent Seed’s sake, but at liberty with the faithful, who am called:
Written from Colchester Castle,
The 12th of 1st Month, 1656
(At the time of this writing, shortly before he died, James Parnell was 19 years old, having been a minister for Christ the previous three years, in which he spiritually fathered many. His memoir is available on this site. The strength of his writings, not only testify to his love, but also to His obvious schooling by the Master, Christ.)
Letters from Isaac Penington
I ever had a love to you, and a deep sense of
the serious work of God upon your heart, and the
upright desires of your soul after Him. And, that the
Lord should yet preserve you alive, in the midst of so
great and languishing weakness, is wonderful in my
eye, and, I hope, has a tendency of some honor to
his name, and good to you. I have often inquired of
late concerning you, and was glad to understand what
I inquired after, by a letter from your own hand; upon
reading of it in the retired sense of my heart, I
felt love arise to you, and breathing to the Lord for
you; and, Oh! that you may fully feel, and be joined
to the seed of life, the seed of the kingdom, which our
Lord Jesus Christ, in the days of his flesh, did not disdain
to be a preacher of. Oh my dear Friend! Let not any part of your life lie
in notions above the seed, but let it all lie in the seed
itself, in your waiting upon the Lord for its arisings in
you, and in your feeling its arisings. Oh, what becomes
of flesh, and self, and self-righteousness, when this
lives in the heart? My religion, which I now daily
bless my God for, began in this seed; which, when I
first felt, and discerningly knew from the Lord, my cry
to him was: Oh this is it I have longed after and waited
for! Oh unite my soul to you in this forever! This is
your Son's gift from you, your Son's grace, your Son's
Truth, your Son's life, your Son's Spirit! I desire no
more, than to be made nothing in myself, that this
may be all in me; and, what I meet with and witness
here, what I feel the Lord Jesus Christ to be made to
me here, none knows, or possibly can know, but those
who have felt the pure power of the Spirit of life, and
have been led by it into the same holy and blessed experience.
Ah! Sin has no share here, in this blessed seed;
but is excluded, by the life and power which is stronger
than it. Here, Christ is formed in the soul, of a truth. Here, the black garments of unrighteousness, (yes, and of
man's presumed righteousness too), are stripped off; and the white
raiment is put on instead. Here, the holy image is brought forth
in the heart, even the image of the dear Son, which
partakes of the divine nature of the Father. Here, the
soul is newly created in Christ Jesus. Here, is no deceit
of any kind met with, but only truth from God, even
the true life, light, virtue, power, of the Lord Jesus
Christ, as experientially felt in the heart, and as effectually
operating there, as ever the power of sin did. [The victory over sin and death].
you might daily discern this, and feel this to grow
up in you more and more, and die to all notions, even
of the heavenly things themselves, out of this; that your
soul may fully live in the life, Spirit, and power of the
Lord Jesus Christ; and nothing but his life, Spirit, and power, may live in you; to the glory of God the Father, and to the great joy and gladdening of your heart in his presence! Amen.
Your Friend, in the true, sincere love of the heavenly, everlasting seed.
13th of Twelfth Month, 1678
While he was in jail, Penington wrote this very humble, loving letter to George Fox, his spiritual father, who had first convinced him preaching at the famous Yearly Meeting at John Crook’s, in Bedfordshire, at Whitsuntide, 1658:
Dear G. F.
I feel the tender mercy of the Lord, and some proportion
of that brokenness, fear, and humility, which I
have long waited for, and breathed after. I feel unity
with, and strength from, the body. O! blessed be the
Lord, who has fitted and restored me, and brought up
my life from the grave. I feel a high esteem and dear
love to you, whom the Lord has chosen, anointed, and honored, and of your brethren and fellow-laborers in the work of the Lord.
And dear G. F. I beg your love; I entreat your prayers, in faith and assurance that
the Lord hears you, that I may be yet more broken, that I may be yet more filled with the fear of the Lord,
that I may be yet poorer, and humbler before the Lord, and may walk with perfect humility and tenderness of
spirit before Him all my days.
Dear G. F. you may feel my needs and wants more fully than my own heart. Be helpful to me in tender love, that I may feel
settlement and stability in the Truth; and perfect separation from, and dominion in the Lord over all that it
15th of 5th month, 1667,
I entreat your prayers for my family, that the name
of the Lord may be exalted and his Truth flourish
Dear G. F., indeed my soul longs for the pure,
full, and undisturbed reign of the Life, in me.
(There are many more outstanding letters of Isaac Penington on this site: click here )
Extract of a Letter from John Burnyeat to Cumberland Meeting:
Oh! my dear Friends, I think I am as if I were talking with you of the Lord's mercies and former loving-kindnesses and dealings with us; and being also under a sense of our present state and capacities, to which he has brought us, my bowels within me are even melted with a holy love and tenderness towards you; and in that love I send these lines, as the salutation of my soul, in that which lives forever, and as a signification of that entire love, which in my heart lives towards you; in which I desire, that both you and I may so mind our present state, and our growth, and the increase of the mercies of our God unto us, as to answer them by a faithful serving of him, and one another in that love which thinks no evil, and is never weary of doing good, and yet will not vaunt itself. Now this is that which lives in my view, the power of Christ; which was so richly manifested in the beginning, and which did then work to the preparing of us to be a people fit to do his will; and so it wrought into a cleansing, washing, and sanctifying of us, that we might he holy vessels fit for his use. Now being prepared, the same power in the faithful works mightily, to the fitting and furnishing of us unto every good work, that we might be to the praise of his grace, who has called us; and if we so be to his praise, we must grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and savior, Jesus Christ. And if we grow in the knowledge of Him, as we have known him to save us from sin, and to destroy the evil one, and so to be our sanctification and redemption; even so we must wait to know him to be made of God unto us wisdom, that he may be our wisdom, and that the fountain of it unto us may be the gift of his holy power in our hearts. And so then, as it did mightily work in our hearts to prepare us, even so will the same gift be felt to work mightily to furnish us with wisdom, and to enable for every good work; and so you will know him to be made of God wisdom unto you. For the holy dread of the power upon the heart in righteousness being felt, guides in wisdom him or her who speaks; the same holy fear and dread upon the heart guides him in silence, who in silence sits, whose mouth is not opened, and so he is made still: and Christ your head, who is one in the man, and in the woman, is wisdom unto you; and so here all will be kept in your places, as you keep in subjection unto Him who is the Head, the Husband of the true wife.
Extracts from a Letter From William Edmundson,
to Margaret Fox,
written from Dublin, the 7th of the 9th month, 1672.
Dear Margaret Fox:
Whom I love and esteem, and honor in the blessed unchangeable truth, in which our preservation and everlasting well-being consists, and in which my tender love and life salutes you. And dear Margaret, this may give you an account of our travels in America.........
... and in Long Island and Shelter Island I met your dear husband again. He was very well, and I have not seen him more healthy and cheery in several years, of which we were all very glad....
.. So dear Margaret, with my true love to you and yours in the everlasting truth, I rest your true friend and brother.
From William Penn, Founder of Pennsylvania, Writing of Quaker Love
(Taken from William Penn's outstanding Introduction to George Fox's Journal)
The Quakers love for one another has generated remarks of all sorts of people concerning them: 'They will meet, they will help and stick together.' Where it is common to hear some say, 'Look how the Quakers love and take care of one another.' Others less moderate will say, 'The Quakers love none but themselves.' And if loving one another, and having an intimate communion in religion, and constant care to meet to worship God and help one another is any mark of primitive Christianity, they had it in abundance, blessed be the Lord.
But they also loved their enemies, for Christ taught and teaches to love enemies: This they both taught and practiced; for they never sought revenge for injuries done to them, and condemned revenge as of an unchristian spirit. But they did freely forgive, yes, help and relieve those who had been cruel to them. They forgave and helped, even when it was in their power to take revenge; of which many examples might be disclosed; endeavoring, through patience, to overcome all injustice and oppression, and preaching this doctrine as Christian for others to follow.
While Quakers never sought revenge, the great God in heaven often exacted his revenge. click here
An Extract of Thomas Ellwood's Testimony for Isaac Penington
I am pressed in my spirit to write a few lines also concerning this my dear deceased friend; to which, I confess, I am induced, and in some sort engaged, by the double obligation of affection and gratitude. I did love him, and that love was entirely, and I am sure, very deserved; for he was worthy indeed of love from all men, but more especially from me, to whom he had been abundantly kind; for in the day in which it pleased the Lord to awaken my soul, and call me out of the pollutions of the world, both with respect to worship and conversation, (for which I became the derision of my country, the scorn and contempt of my friends and acquaintance, and in a manner an outcast also, exposed as it were in the world to change in it), how welcome was I then to him! How affectionately did he receive me! How carefully did he take care of me! How tenderly and like a father did he watch over me, that I might not be drawn back, or anyway be betrayed from the simplicity of truth, as I had received it! And can I ever forget his love, or let his manifold kindness slip out of my mind! Oh no; the remembrance of him is pleasant to me, and I cannot think of him without delight. For as a friend, I truly loved him; as a father, (for such his care of me rendered him to me), I reverenced him; as an elder, I honored him, and that, (as he right well deserved), with double honor. My spirit was truly united to his; yes, my soul was linked and knit with him in the holy covenant of life, which death has not been able to dissolve. Bear with me therefore a little, I implore you, whoever you are, under whose eye these lines may chance to fall, if I take liberty to express my sense of this my beloved friend; in which if I seem somewhat particular, know that my acquaintance with him was so.
You may read the rest of this beautiful testimony, as well as Isaac Penington's account of his early experience with Christ, click here.
Love So Strong,
they Volunteered to Take their Brother's Place in Prison
The love existing among the early Friends was very strong, that when a Friend was suffering a long or hard imprisonment, other Friends would go to the authorities and offer to take their place in prison and pay any necessary fine for their release. One-hundred-forty-nine Quakers sent a letter to Parliament (click to see) offering to replace their suffering brothers in prison. This is a remarkable offer of love and self-sacrifice, available for reading on this site. A famous occurrence of the many offers, was the offer made to the Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell, to take George Fox's place in prison. One of them went to the Lord Protector, Oliver Cromwell, and offered to be imprisoned at Doomsdale in George Fox' place. The Protector, struck by this act of friendship, looked around on his followers with the question: "Which of you would do as much for me if I were in the same condition? " And though Cromwell did not accept the Friend's offer, saying, "he could not do it, for it was contrary to law;" yet this action of love came mightily over him as truth.
Below is the letter from Humphrey Norton to George Fox, telling him of the offer. From the Cambridge Journal:
Humphrey Norton to George Fox 1656
Dear George Fox:
You, whose beauty and comeliness in words cannot be expressed. I am moved to write this and freely give up myself from the love of the seed; and the love of the seed which lies upon you, to place before you this message. On the 17th of last month, I had been waiting on the Lord. In my life, you appeared. Since then, it has been heavy on me to to do something that would touch you; and now my drawings are to this place where I now am. Since you are Oliver's [Cromwell, the ruler of England] prisoner, I am now required to offer to him my body for your body in prison, and I am prepared to do this even though it could lead to my blood. If you receive my offer within this letter, see that this offers stands with wisdom, and let me have the sum of your unjust sufferings and monetary fine to present before him, so that he will have no excuse, and I will be clear of what is required of me. You are dear and chosen; let me hear from you, for I see the great need of yourself to be free. I was one of the first to be at Swarthmore, and in those meetings there were many speakers and prayers, and a singing that was unlike any I have ever heard; and likwise the enlightenment among them, which I saw and felt. I feel the need to lay this before you and James Naylor, both of you being sufficeint for these things, (and the cause of them and the difference at and about Kendall). The lack of your showing forth unto Israel lies upon me. Until I hear from you, who with unfeigned words, am prepared to lay down my life of that
which I Humphrey Norton, in the will of the Father,
and by his power, am ready to do the before mentioned.
London this 4th 2nd
From George Fox's Journal, speaking the persecutions under Cromwell:
Now it was a time of great suffering; and many Friends being in prisons, many other Friends were moved to go to the parliament, to offer themselves up to lie in the same prisons where their friends lay, that those in prison might go forth, and not perish in the stinking jails. This we did in love to God and our brethren, that they might not die in prison; and in love to those that cast them in, that they might not bring innocent blood upon their own heads; which we knew would cry to the Lord, and bring his wrath, vengeance, and plagues upon them.
Letter to Margaret Fell from Richard Farnsworth:
The following letter, addressed to Margaret Fell
by Richard Farnsworth, a few months shortly after her convincement, may
serve to show the love and continued interest he took in her
establishment in the truth:-
"Balbie, Yorkshire, 12th month, 1652
Mind to stand in the council of the Lord,
which will keep down everything that would be
exalted, and will not suffer you to conform to anything
but that which is pure. Oh! be faithful, be
faithful to what you know; and stand perfect in
the will of the Lord; and the Lord will keep you,
in His own power to Himself and arm you every
way with His love and power. Stand in His council,
and it will discover all the consultations of the
enemy; and will scatter all imaginations, and will
not allow them to take place in you, being but obedient
to Him. Love not the world, but mind that
which would draw you to live in the pure obedience
of Him who is pure; and standing in the pure fear,
it will take away all slavish fears, and it will not
allow you to conform to the world in anything; but
you will be preserved in obedience to the Lord in
what he requires; for the fear of the Lord
keeps the heart clean; and it will keep you clean,
and open to receive the teachings of the Father.
Oh! stand fast in the liberty with which Christ has
set you free, and it will keep you from the entanglements of the world;
the end of which is your preservation, in standing in the council of the Lord, who is the
mighty Counselor, the everlasting Prince of peace;
who will lead you and guide you into the everlasting
kingdom of the Father, where there is peace and
joy, rest, quietness and assurance forever! Give
yourself up wholly to the Lord, who will preserve you
in faithfulness and purity; and the everlasting Lord
God Almighty keep you, and all the rest of our dear
Friends, in the power of His love, and in the power
of His truth, perfect in His will; that you may grow
from strength to strength, and be established in the
everlasting truth; and that He alone may be glorified,
who is Lord of lords, and King of kings; to whom be glory, and honor, and praise, and thanks, forever and ever! Amen.
I received you letter, which did much rejoice
me. When your letter, brought by James and George, came,
I was then gone towards Derbyshire, where I met
with a gathered church. I have been in much service
since I left you. Friends are very emboldened
and courageous, who have had great opposition
and persecution here; but all is at a
stand; the enemy is greatly silenced; and the Lord
carries on His own work, much to His own praise;
to Him alone be glory, and honor, forever and
My dear, love in the Lord presents itself to you
all, to your son George, and to your daughters, and to
all those your servants in the truth of God; and may the
Lord cause them all to grow up into the truth, that
He may be exalted among you all. All my dear
hearts, prize the love and mercy of the Lord, and
daily mind your growth into that which is eternal;
and the everlasting love and power of the Lord
keep you all in faithfulness to Him in what you
know. Keep in the cross, and purity will grow.
The safest way is in the cross; take up the cross
daily; mind to be guided by that which crosses
your own wills, and it will bring every idle word,
thought and deed to judgment in you; and so the
old man will be crucified, with the affections and
lusts thereof; and you shall find the Lord to sit as a
refiner, to judge out all the old leaven, the old
nature; and so the new man will be raised up; and
Christ, the power of God, will rule and reign in
righteousness in you, who is the King of saints; to
Him alone be all praise and thanks forevermore!
From William Caton to Margaret Fell
“Oh! the love which in that day abounded among
us, especially in that family! and Oh! the freshness
of the power of the Lord God, which then was
among us; and the zeal for Him and His truth,
the comfort and refreshment which we had from His
presence, the nearness and dearness that was among
us one towards another, the openings and revelations
which we then had! My heart is affected with the
remembrance of them at this very day.
He further writes in his Journal:
friend Margaret Fell, the judge's wife, taking
notice of my condition, was not willing to
allow me to go longer to the school than I
was free, but caused me to stay at home to
teach her children, and to go with her when
she went abroad, and to write for her,
which was a happy time for me. After I left the
school, I was much exercised in writing
precious and wholesome things pertaining to
the Truth; whereby I came to have good opportunities to be conversant with Friends, in
whom the life of righteousness began to bud
and spring forth, and who grew in love and
unity, with which my soul was exceedingly affected;
and I desired very much to be one
with them in it, that I might share with them
therein, for my soul was delighted with it and
in it, far beyond the pleasures and delights of
this transitory world...
Oh! the love which in that day abounded among
us, especially in that family I and
the freshness of the power of the Lord God,
which then was among us; and the zeal for
Him and his truth, the comfort and refreshment
which we had from his presence, - the
nearness and dearness that were among us
one towards another, - the openings and revelations which we then had! I confess I find myself insufficient to declare these things to the
utmost; neither do I now intend to go about to
describe them particularly; for then I might
make a larger volume by much, than now I
am intending; but, my heart is affected with the
remembrance of them at this day.
In those days meetings were exceedingly
precious to us, insomuch that some few of us
did commonly spend some time every night
in waiting upon the Lord; yes, often after
the rest of the family had gone to bed: and,
oh! the comfort and refreshment which we had together, and the benefit which we reaped
by it, how shall I declare it! For if we
had suffered loss in the day-time, when we had
been abroad about our business or the like,
then we came in a great measure thus to be
restored again, through the love, power, and
mercy of our God, which abounded very much unto us.
Francis Howgill's Eulogy for His
Dearly Loved Friend, Edward Burrough :
When his dear friend and fellow preacher, Edward Burrough, had died in Newgate prison earlier, Francis Howgill then gave forth the following beautiful and powerful testimony: [which is also descriptive of Francis' own accomplishments]
Shall days, or months, or years, wear out your name, as though you had no being! Oh no!
Shall not your noble and valiant acts, and mighty works which you have wrought
through the power of him that separated you from the womb, live in generations to come! O yes!
The children that are yet unborn, shall have you in their mouths,
and your works shall testify of you, in generations, who yet have not a being, and shall count you blessed.
Did your life go out as the snuff of a candle? Oh No!
You have penetrated the hearts of many, and the memorial of the just shall live forever;
and be had in renown among the children of men forever.
For you have turned many to righteousness,
and shine as a star of God in the firmament of God's power, forever and ever;
and they that are in that, shall see you there, and enjoy you there,
though you are gone away from here, and can no more be seen in mutability;
yet your life and your spirit shall run parallel with immortality.
Oh, Edward Burrough!
I cannot but mourn for you,
yet not as one without hope or faith,
knowing and having a perfect testimony of your well-being in my heart, by the Spirit of the Lord;
yet your absence is great, and years to come shall know the want of you.
Shall I not lament as David did for a worse man than you, even for Abner;
when in wrath he perished by the hand of Joab, without any just cause, though he was a valiant man?
David lamented over Abner, and said, did Abner die as a fool dies?
(Oh, No! He was betrayed of his life.)
Even so have you been bereaved of your life by the hand of the oppressor, whose habitations are full of cruelty.
Oh, your soul, come not you within their secret,
for your blood shall be required at the hands of them who thirsted after your life;
and it shall cry as Abel's who was in the faith;
even so were you, it shall weigh as a ponderous millstone upon their necks,
and shall crush them under, and be as a worm that gnaws, and shall not die.
When I think upon you, I am melted into tears of true sorrow;
and because of the want that the inheritance of the Lord has of you, my substance is even as dissolved.
Shall I not say as David did of Saul and Jonathan,
when they were slain in mount Gilboa,
the beauty of Israel is slain upon the high places;
even so were you stifled in nasty holes, and prisons, and many more who were precious in the eyes of the Lord:
and surely precious were you to me, oh dear Edward;
I am distressed for you my brother, very pleasant have you been to me,
and my love to you was wonderful, passing the love of woman:
Oh, you whose bow never turned back, nor sword empty from the blood of the slain;
from the slaughter of the mighty;
who made nations and multitudes shake with the word of life in your mouth.
You were very dreadful to the enemies of the Lord, for you did cut like a razor.
And yet to the seed of God brought forth, your words dropped like oil, and your lips as the honeycomb.
You will be recorded amongst the valiants of Israel, who attained to the first degree,
through the power of the Lord, that wrought mightily in you in your day,
and were worthy of double honor, because of your works.
You were expert in handling your weapon,
and by you the mighty have fallen,
and the slain of the Lord have been many.
Many have been pricked to the heart through the power of the word of life;
and coals of fire from your life came forth of your mouth,
that in many a thicket, and among many briers and thorns it came to be kindled,
and did devour much stubble that cumbered the ground, and stained the earth.
Oh, how certain a sound did your trumpet give!
And how great an alarm did you give in your day,
that made the host of the uncircumcised greatly distressed!
What man so valiant, though as Goliath of Gath, would not your valor have encountered with,
while many despised your youth!
And how have I seen you with your sling and your stone, (despised weapons to war with), wound the mighty!
And that which had seemed contemptible to the dragon's party, even as the jaw bone of an ass,
with it you have slain the Philistines heaps upon heaps, as Samson.
You have put your hand to the hammer of the Lord,
and have often fastened nails in the heads of the Lamb's enemies, as Jael did to Sisera;
and many a rough stone have you polished and squared, and made it fit for the buildings of God;
and much knotty wood have you hewed in your day, which was not fit for the building of God's house.
Oh, you prophet of the Lord,
you shall for ever be recorded in the Lamb's book of life, among the Lord's worthies,
who have followed the Lamb through great tribulations,
as many can witness for you from the beginning;
and at last have overcome,
and been found worthy to stand with the Lamb upon mount Zion, the hill of God;
as I have often seen you,
and your heart well tuned as a harp, to praise the Lord, and to sound forth his great salvation;
which many a time has made glad the hearts of those who believed,
and strengthened their faith and hope.
Well, you are at rest, and wound up in the bundle of life;
and I know tears were wiped away from your eyes, because there was no cause of sorrow in you:
for we know you witnessed the old things done away, and there was no curse,
but blessings were poured upon your head as rain, and peace a mighty shower,
and trouble was far from your dwelling;
though in the outward man trouble on every side,
and have had a greater share in that, for the gospel-sake, (though a youth), in your time, than many besides;
but now you are freed from that, and have obtained a name through faith, with the saints in light.
Well, had you more to give up than your life for the name of Jesus in this world? No;
and to seal the testimony committed unto you with your blood,
as you have often said in your day, which shall remain as a crown upon you forever and ever.
And now you are freed from the temptations of him who had the power of death;
and from your outward enemies, who hated you because of the love that dwelt in you;
and remains at the right hand of God, where there is joy and pleasure for ever more in the everlasting light;
which you have often testified to, according to the word of prophecy in your heart,
which was given unto you by the Holy Spirit;
and you are at rest in the perfection thereof, in the beauty of holiness;
yet your life and your spirit I feel as present, and have unity with it, and in it,
beyond all created and visible things, which are subject to mutation and change;
and your life shall enter into others, to testify unto the same Truth, which is from everlasting to everlasting;
for God has raised, and will raise up children unto Abraham, of them that have been as dead stones;
his power is Almighty, great in his people in the midst of their enemies.'
With these sublime expressions Francis Howgill lamented his much loved friend Edward Burrough. There are sections of this site dedicated to both Francis Howgill and Edward Burrough.
See Francis Howgill's letter of loving advice to his young daughter as he saw his life closing in the final years of his life imprisonment for failure to swear.
Letter From William Penn to Stephen Crisp, another Quaker,
as Penn set sail for Pennsylvania the first time:
We know one another. I need not say much to you; but this I will say, that your parting dwells with me, or rather your love at my parting. How innocent, how tender, how like the little child that has no guile. The Lord will bless that ground, (Philadelphia). I have also had a letter from you which comforted me; for many are my trials, yet not more than my supplies from my Heavenly Father, whose glory I seek; and surely, Stephen, there is work enough to be done, and room to work in. Surely God will come in for a share in this planting-work, and that leaven shall leaven the lump in time. I do not believe the Lord's providence had run this way towards me, but that He has an heavenly end and service in it. So with Him I leave all, and myself, and you, and His dear people.
See William Penn's wonderful letter of love and great wisdom to his wife and family, written as he was departing for the first time to Pennsylvania.
Letter to John Banks from John Burnyeat
Dublin, the 19th of the Sixth month, 1685.
DEAR JOHN BANKS,—
Unto you with your fellow-prisoners, who suffer for the blessed testimony of that precious Truth, in which we have believed, does the real and tender affection, and love of my heart and soul flow forth at this time; and in the sweetness and peacefulness of that which is our life, do I dearly salute you, and in the unity thereof tenderly greet you all, whose hearts are kept up in that, and under the holy conduct of it, for which you suffer. In this we have our unity, which in itself lives and reigns over all, and shall reign in its own pure dominion and dignity, even the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom principalities and thrones, and dominions must be subject. It is for His testimony, you know, that you suffer for the testimony of Jesus, which you have received from him by his Spirit, and thereby have it sealed in your hearts. Though many do not understand the weight and certainty of your testimony, for which you suffer, and therefore may look lightly upon it; yet you, who are enjoyers of the power, and have received the Spirit of Jesus, which is the Spirit of prophecy, and so his testimony therein, you feel the weight of, know the certainty of the testimony for which you suffer; and so in your sufferings have your peace and justification.
My dearly beloved in the Lord, see that you all hold that fast in your hearts in the rich possession of it, for which you suffer, that you may feel your reward with you, and your comforter in you to bear up your spirits over all your sufferings; and so you will have a satisfaction in yourselves,, that whatever others say, or may think of your sufferings, and the reason thereof, you know that it is for the Truth and its testimony that you suffer, and for keeping of your consciences clear in the sight of God. And so in the hidden man of the heart, you rest in quietness, in that hidden life which you receive from Christ; and here is your peace and comfort, which no man can take from you; or knows of it, but such as are in fellowship with you, who live in, and love the same testimony. Those who know not your reward, your crown, or your peace, cannot reach to take it away; and that is our joy, that we have a crown and inheritance, that is out of their sight, and so out of their reach.
Oh, therefore let all take heed, that through carelessness or looseness of spirit, or any other thing, you be not beguiled or betrayed from that to the losing of it, while you are suffering for it! You know, my Friends, it is possible; such things have been even in our age, that while some have been suffering for the Truth, they have been betrayed from the Truth, and the innocence and simplicity of it in their hearts; and so have lost the Truth, even that for which they were called to suffer. For you know it is an inward thing, and must be held in the inward unity of the mind in a spiritual fellowship; and if there be not a care even while we are in one thing doing for the Truth in the outward, in the inward we may lose it, and our justification by it; and then whither shall we go for our peace and recompense? The God of my life give you all wisdom and fear, and fill you with holy reverence, that you may still stand in awe before him, and be watchful over your spiritual path, and the feet of your souls and minds, that you may tread in the invisible way of peace and righteousness.
And dear Friends, live in peace and love together among yourselves, and in a holy, solid life before all men, keeping out of the spirit of the world in all things; that as it is upon a religious account you suffer, you may appear in all other things to be religious men, or otherwise you know, the Truth cannot be honored by your suffering. For if men, who suffer for or upon the account of religion, appear not to be religious men, this overthrows the glory and beauty of their religion, and brings it into disesteem among men; and therefore did Christ command, that our light should shine before men, by their seeing of our good works. And have a care of provoking one another unto anything that is evil; but endeavor to stir up and provoke one another unto love and good works that you may build up one another therein, and so help to bear one another's burden, and fulfill the law of Christ, that you may all be kept up together in the justification and peace. And so dear Friends, my heart's love being unto you, I send these few lines as a testimony thereof, by which you may know, you are in my remembrance in the love of God, and my heart has an honorable esteem of your testimony and your sufferings in righteousness for the same. I desire to be remembered to Friends in the country, both below Carlisle, and above and Friends in the city; to John Carlisle and family, with the rest. My wife's dear love is to you all. My love is with you. Farewell From your friend,
Letter from George Fox to all the Quaker Meetings of the World :
Dear and tender Friends,
My love is to you all in the truth of God;
and my prayers and soul's desire are to God,
that you may be kept in the simplicity of the truth in Christ Jesus,
growing up in the power of his resurrection,
and be made conformable to his death,
and have fellowship with him in his sufferings;
and that all your hearts may be knit together in love,
and in one spirit to God,
and be kept out of all the world's evil customs, fashions,
words, works, manners, ordinances, and commandments,
which will all perish, which the world holds up in the carnal mind,
and the carnal man does act them.
For whatsoever is seen with a carnal eye, is carnal.
See, if you do find something in your understandings made manifest,
which is eternal, to guide your minds out of all external things,
which wither away, and fade.
For the cross is to the carnal mind;
your carnal minds going into the carnal and earthly things,
or your eyes and lusts into the earth,
where lightness, rashness, crossness, bitterness, and presumption are,
then the tongue will run at random, and is at liberty;
and he that has not power over his own tongue, his religion is vain,
and the light mind rules.
But the light within, which does convince you,
will show you, when the mind goes forth;
and show you the daily cross, which is to crucify that carnal mind;
for the carnal mind minds carnal things;
and the cross is to the will of man,
for it shall never enter.
Therefore give not way to your wills,
nor busy yourselves nor minds
with needless and careless words, or such things,
for they will veil you, and draw your minds from God.
But keep within.
And when they shall say, 'lo here,' or 'lo there is Christ,'
go not forth;
for Christ is within you.
And they are seducers and antichrists,
which draw your minds out from the teaching within you.
For the measure is within,
and the light of God is within,
and the pearl is within you, which is hid;
and the word of God is within you,
and you are the temples of God;
and God has said, he will dwell in you, and walk in you.
And then what need you go to the idols' temples without you?
The true church (the saints) is in God;
but the imitation of the church is in the world, without God.
The seducers are in the world;
antichrists and deceivers are in the world,
and false prophets are in the world;
and covetousness is in the world;
and all hypocrisy, and all heresy,
and dissimulation, and all pride,
and looking for honor is in the world;
and he that seeks for it, is of the devil.
And all idle, foolish jesting, and all light, vain talking,
which are not seemly nor convenient, are in the world.
Therefore lay aside all filthiness
and superfluity of naughtiness,
and fear God, and give glory to him,
and worship not the beast;
for the beast and the false prophet must be cast into the lake of fire.
The true figures and types were outward,
and visible to the outward eye and mind;
but the carnal mind is to be taken away, and destroyed.
For the figures did type forth the substance;
when the substance was come,
the figures were taken away, and types were ended.
And the (false) imitations of Christ and of God are in the world;
and the vain worships of the world are the worships of the beast,
and are not of God.
For 'God is a spirit; and he that worships him,
must worship him in spirit and truth.'
The beastly nature in man and woman holds up the beast,
and his customs and worships;
and the plagues of God are to be poured upon the beast,
and all them that worship the beast and false prophet.
And they that abide in the truth,
worship not the beast inwardly, nor outwardly,
but deny all the beast's worships and false prophets',
and worship God in spirit and truth.
And they which do not abide in the truth,
hold up the beast's worship, and the false prophets;
and they that do so, shall have their portion together.
Plagues will be poured upon such.
And you that know God,
dwell in the truth, and tread upon the deceit;
for God will be glorified alone.
To whom be glory and honor forever!
Letter From Henry Fell (no relation) to Margaret Fox
Dear Margaret Fox
My very dearly and well beloved friend in the Lord, who I love and honor. Your letter of the 1st month 8th day 1672, I received from from Swarthmore, which was very welcome to me, and whose counsel to me within was very seasonable and as the counsel of a tender mother to her child. I could not but receive and praise this counsel as coming from a fountain of love, which the Lord has opened in your heart. I feel your tender care, which I know has been directed to me for my welfare and preservation, ever since I was first convinced of the Lord's blessed truth. If I had continued and kept faithful in the truth, I might in some measure have returned you love and care towards me, which would have been a rejoicing and comfort to us both, and not the grief and sorrow that has been. However, your reward is with the Lord, who does and will (I believe) recompense your labor and love into your own bosom.
Dear friend, my very dear love at this time is to you, in my measure of the truth and everlasting Light of Christ Jesus, which is the blessed covenant that the Lord has made with all people, whether Jew or gentile, bond or free. Unto the Light all must come, in which all are to walk, otherwise they cannot know the Lord or have fellowship with Him, or fellowship with his saints [in the spirit]. Neither can the blood of your everlasting covenant be known, or witnessed, which washes and cleanses from all sin and unrighteousness. But as this Light is is subjected to, and obeyed and walked in, even as the prophet of old testified, saying: all nations of them that are saved must walk in his light. And it is sown for the righteous to walk in, and is the just man's path, where the wicked and the unjust, and the unrighteous cannot walk or ever did walk; and so are shut out from God, with whom dwells no iniquity, and from whom a worker of iniquity is shut out forever.
Blessed be the name of the Lord, who again has opened an eye in me. With his infinite mercy and goodness, he has let me see my fall and loss in a great measure; and not only my fall, but also the way out of it to return unto himself. He has brought me into that way in measure, and into the spiritual warfare against what separated me from God. He has brought me to wait upon him, in the way of his judgments. My hope is that he will be brought forth into victory; and the captivity be reversed; what brought me into captivity for forever led captive, by the power of the blessed seed (which was the promise of old to bruise the serpent's head), by Christ Jesus, whose right it is to reign over all forevermore.
Oh, I cannot but remember the great and marvelous love of God to my own and many poor souls here in this island, by sending his apostles and servants to visit us here, namely George Fox and the rest with him. Oh, it was a blessed visitation of love to us, even to the raising of my soul out of death, which was dead in sins and trespasses; but is now again quickened by the power of the everlasting gospel, by which the blind come to see, the deaf to hear, and the dead to be raised - even as Lazarus out of the grave. So that my soul has great cause to praise and magnify the name of the Lord on their [Fox and associates ] behalf, whose labor of love the lord has and will reward forever.....
So dear Friend, I desire to hear often from you as you have the freedom and opportunity for I am glad to hear from you at any time. So in my measure of the blessed truth, my love salutes you and says goodbye as I remain
Your Friend as I am kept in that
which is a Friend to my soul
Written in 1654 from Barbados at the conclusion of George Fox's visit to the island.
This is a small sample of the wonderful letter of love between Quakers;
for more see the Historical Letters of the Early Quakers.
This web site's purpose is to show how to become
free from sin
by benefiting from the changing power of God through the cross,
which leads to union with God in his Kingdom.