The Missing Cross to Purity


Swarthmore Hall

 

Part II

The Life of Margaret Fox
(Continued)

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This imprisonment was upon the old premunire, from which she had been discharged the year before. As soon as George Fox reached London after hearing of her fresh incarceration, he sent Mary Lower and Sarah Fell (her children) to the King, to strive to obtain an order for her discharge, which with some difficulty was procured. They carried it to Lancaster, together with the following letter from George Fox:

MY DEAR HEART IN THE TRUTH AND LIFE, THAT CHANGES NOT:-

It was upon me that Mary Lower and Sarah should go to the King concerning your imprisonment; and to Kirby, that the power of the Lord might appear over them all in your deliverance. They went, and then they thought to have come down; but it was upon me to stay them a little longer, that they might follow the business till it was effected, which it now is and is here sent. The late declaration of mine has been very serviceable, people being generally satisfied with it.

So no more but my love in the Holy Seed,

George Fox

This second intimation of the King's will and pleasure respecting her, was presented to the sheriff by her two daughters; but her old enemies found means, by some informality in the document, to evade even this command.

Her husband therefore renewed his solicitations for her release; which was at length effected by means of Martha Fisher and another female Friend, who obtained a second interview with the King, and informed him of all their difficulties. The King then granted a free discharge under the great seal, and released both her, and her estate from the penalties of the sentence of premunire, under which she had been suffering for more than five years.

The condescending interference of King Charles, in behalf of Margaret Fox shows, that he was adverse to these violent measures against his peaceable non-conforming subjects, and that he would probably have adhered to his proclamation from Breda, promising religious toleration, had he not been driven by his necessities, and extravagance, to concede these arbitrary measures to the high church party, for the sake of obtaining supplies.

She went up to London soon after, to say farewell to her husband, then about to embark for America. He was absent two years; she again met him, on his return, at Bristol, where they then proceeded to London, and stayed there some time. When they took leave of their friends, and proceeded homewards, in company with her daughter Rachel, stopping at Rickmansworth, on a visit to William Penn and his family, where they were joined by her son-in-law, Thomas Lower. Upon leaving Rickmansworth, they continued their journey through Oxfordshire, visiting Friends' meetings as they proceeded, and at Tredington, in Worcestshire, they attended a meeting of about two hundred persons, held in a barn. The meeting having quietly dispersed, and they having retired into the house of John Halford, George Fox and Thomas Lower were arrested and committed to Worchester jail. George Fox being afterwards premunired by the court there, and continued in confinement, she went to him, and had a conference with the judges, and also with the King, endeavoring to obtain his release. The case was subsequently removed [many months afterward] by habeas corpus to the King's bench bar, where Judge Hale pronounced the indictment illegal and void, and he was discharged. They returned together to Swarthmore, he being much weakened in body, his health having suffered severely in consequence of his long imprisonment. He continued at home about one and twenty months, before he was sufficiently recovered to resume his travels, being the longest period he remained with his wife since their marriage. Persecution and property seizures still continued, whereby Friends were much distressed and impoverished.

She says, in speaking of the difficulties they encountered in these respects:

"When my husband was at London, it being a time of great persecution by informers, the justices of our country were very severe, and much bent against me, because I kept a meeting at Swarthmore Hall; so they did not fine the house as his, he being absent, but as mine. They fined me £20 for the house, and £20 for speaking in the meeting; and the second time £40 for speaking; and also other Friends for speaking, £20 for the first, and £40 for the second time. Those who were not able, they fined others for them, and made great spoil among Friends, by seizing their goods, sometimes for less than half the value; they took thirty head of cattle from me. Their intentions were to ruin and weary us out, and enrich themselves; but the Lord prevented them."

Her son-in-law, Thomas Lower, being premunired and imprisoned, she wrote him the subjoined comforting letter. He was "a physician of London," says Besse, "and visiting George Fox when he was imprisoned in Cornwall, asked him many questions concerning religion, and received such clear answers from George Fox, that he said 'his words were as a flash of lightning, they ran so through him,' adding, 'he had never met with a man of such wisdom and penetration in his life.' By these means he became fully convinced of the doctrine of truth, which he afterwards made a public profession of." He subsequently married Mary Fell.

"To Thomas Lower and his fellow-sufferers for the testimony of Jesus, when they were premunired, and prisoners in Lauceston Jail:

DEAR SON LOWER:

In the dear and precious blessed unity of the eternal Spirit, and fellowship of the gospel of peace, in this is my heart and soul's love remembered unto you, and to all your dear brethren and fellow-prisoners with you, who suffer for the testimony of Jesus; my soul's desire is to the powerful God for you all, that you may be more than conquerors in Christ Jesus, who is the great King, and Lord over all, and has all power in heaven and earth in His hands, and all the inhabitants of the earth are but as grasshoppers, before Him; and therefore with hearts and courage may His servants and children suffer for Him, without fear or fainting, under those that have but power over the outward man. The Lord preserve you in the dominion over them all; and I am glad to hear in every letter that comes from you, that you are well satisfied and content. I know certainly the Lord will never be lacking to you, as you keep faithful and true, and single-hearted to Him; His eye beholds and sees all that His and your enemies can do unto you, and a just and righteous reward from Him they will surely receive.

My dear love is unto you, in what never changes, which gives peace, and content, and faith to look over that which changes. Your dear mother in the Lord,

Margaret Fox

Swarthmore, 28th of 7th, mo., 1683." 

"I was moved of the Lord to go to London, in the seventieth year of my age; and the word was in me, that as I had gone to King Charles, when he first came into England, so I should go, and bear to him my last testimony, and let him know how they did abuse us, to enrich themselves. A paper was drawn up to give a true and certain account how they dealt with me and other Friends. It was upon my mind, to go first unto the Duke of York. I wrote a short paper to him to acquaint him that since had formerly spoken in my behalf to the King, my request was that be would now do the same for me again. I went with this paper to James' house; and after long waiting, I got to speak to him. But some let him know, that it was I that had been with him and his brother, soon after they came into England. I gave him my little paper, and asked him if he did not remember me? He said, “I do remember you.”  Then I desired him to speak to the King for us, for we were under great suffering, and our persecutors were so severe, that it looked all if they intended to make a prey upon us. He said he could not help, but he would speak to the King. The next day, with much ado, I got to the King, and had my great paper, which was the relation of our sufferings, to present to him; but he was so rough and angry, that he would not take it, but I gave several copies to his nobles. Afterwards I went to Judge Jeffreys, and told him of our sufferings; for he had been in the North Country with us a little before, and he told me we might speak to the King. I answered it was very hard to get to the King. He said, 'give me a paper, and I will speak to him;' but he said, ‘your papers are too long, give me a short one, and then I will speak to him. 'So I wrote a little paper from myself, to this effect:

KING CHARLES: - You and your magistrates put very great and cruel sufferings upon US; but this I must say unto you, if you make our sufferings to death itself, we shall not, nor dare not, but confess Christ Jesus before men, lest He should deny us before His Father which is in heaven."

"There were some more words, but this was the substance: Jeffreys read it, and said he would give it to him. We also gave papers to several of those that waited on him, and they gave us some encouragement, that we should be helped, so we expected and waited for it. About a week or two after, in the beginning of the 12th month, George Whitehead and I were going to one of the lords, who had promised George that he would speak to the King for us. We went to his lodgings early in the morning, thinking to speak with him before he went out; but his servants told us he was not within, being gone to the King, who was not well. Then we went into Whitehall court; but all the gates were shut so that we could not enter. So we waited, and walked up and down; and several came out from the King, and said, he could not stand; others said, he could not speak. Then, after some hours waiting, we passed through Scotland-yard, and went away. The King continued sick until six days later, when he died. So this confirmed that word which God put into my heart, which I was sent to bear my last  testimony to the King."

"Then James, Duke of York, was proclaimed King, and about two weeks after, I went to him, and gave him a paper to this effect:

King James:

I lave waited here some months, until this change has come, and now I would return home; but I cannot live peaceably there, except I take a Word from you, to give a stop to my persecutors.

I spoke to him to the same purpose. He said unto me, go home, go home. So after a few weeks I went home.

And a little while after, William Kirby, a justice, one of our greatest persecutors, met with my son-in-law, Daniel Abraham, upon the road, and said to him, tell your mother that now the government will be settled again, and if you keep meetings, you must expect the same again. My son answered him, we must keep meetings, unless you take our lives. Then William Kirby said, we will not take your lives, but while you have anything, we will take it. So I wrote a letter to King James, in which I said, 'You told me to come home, and so I am; but as I said to you, I could not live peaceably, so it is likely to be.' Then I hinted in my letter W. Kirby's discourse with my son. I asked the King to give me something from him, so that I might live peaceably at my house.

This letter was delivered to him, and so I heard, he carried it to the council, and it was read; and some of the council said, she desires a protection, so that she may live peaceably at her own house. Some answered, they could give no protection to an individual. However, I do suppose they gave our persecutors a private caution, for they troubled us no more. But, if that had not been, it is likely they had a mind to begin again persecuting us. For a little before the time of the informers, they brought that law upon us, concerning twelve pence a Sunday, so called; and they carried me, and my son and daughter Abraham, to Lancaster prison, and kept us there about three weeks. When they considered that they could not fine me, or my house, when I was in prison, then they let us go home. Soon after they fined us both for the house and for speaking as before hinted.

And thus have they troubled and persecuted us many ways; but the Lord God Almighty has preserved me, and us, until this day; glorious praises be given to him forevermore.

And the Lord has given me such strength and ability, that I have been in London, to see my dear husband and children and relatives and friends there in 1690, being the seventy-sixth year of my age; and I was very well satisfied, refreshed and comforted in my journey, and found Friends in much love, praises be returned to the unchangeable God forever. This being nine times that I have been to London, upon the Lord's and His truth's account."

The company of her two daughters, the wives of John Rouse and William Mead, the former residing at Kingston on Thames, and the latter at Goose's in Essex, while on her visits to London, was doubtless very comforting to her, and a great satisfaction to them. These were also favorite resorts of George Fox when in that neighborhood.

After returning to her home, she wrote the following epistle to the Women's Meeting in London:

Dear Sisters:

In the eternal and blessed truth, into which we are begotten, and in which we stand, and are preserved, if we keep in it, and are guided by it. In this is my dear and unchangeable love remembered unto you all; acknowledging your dear and tender love when I was with you, in which my heart was rejoiced, to feel the ancient love and unity of the eternal spirit among you. And my soul was and is refreshed in my journey, in visiting my dear husband and children, and you my dear Friends. And now I am returned to my own house and family, where I find all well; praised and honored be my Heavenly Father.

And dear Friends our engagements are great unto the Lord, and he is dear and faithful unto us; and blessed and happy are all those who are dear and faithful unto Him. And those that keep single and chaste unto Him need not fear evil tidings, nor what man can do, for He that has all power in heaven and earth in His hand, will surely keep His own church and family, those that worship Him, within the measuring line, that measure the temple, and the altar, and those that worship therein, they are kept safe, all in the hollow of His hand.

And so, dear Friends, my heart and soul was so much comforted and refreshed, among you, that I could not but signify the remembrance of my dear love unto you; and also my acknowledgment of your dear love and tenderness to my dear husband; for which I doubt, not, but the Lord does and will reward you; into whose hand and arm and power I commit you.

Margaret Fox

Swarthmore, 10th of 5th month, 1690

 CHAPTER V
1690-1702

DEATH OF GEORGE FOX – AGAIN GOES TO LONDON – ADDRESS TO KING WILLIAM –  
HER DEATH, AND DYING SAYINGS – TESTIMONY OF  HER CHILDREN, AND OTHER FRIENDS,
TO HER CHARACTER – BURIED AT SWARTHMORE.

In the latter part of the year 1690, her husband, who had been in a declining state of health for several years previous, died at the house of Henry Gouldney, in London, after a few days' sickness, in much contentment and peace. “It fell to the lot of William Penn," says Clarkson, "to communicate this event to his wife." "I am to be," says he, "the teller to you of sorrowful tidings, in some respects, which is this, that your dear husband, and my beloved and dear friend, finished his glorious testimony this night about half an hour after nine, being sensible to the last breath. Oh! he is gone, and left us in the storm that is over our heads, surely in great mercy to him, but as an evidence to us of sorrow to come. A prince indeed is fallen in Israel to-day; he died as so he lived, as a lamb, minding the things of God and His church to the last, in a universal spirit."

They had been married about twenty-one years, and during that period he had passed but a small part of the time with her, his various religious engagements keeping him almost constantly away from Swarthmore. This circumstance probably gave rise to some censorious remarks, for his wife, in speaking of it, says: "And though the Lord had provided him with an outward habitation, he was not willing to stay in it because it was so remote and far from London, where his service mostly lay. And my concern for God and His holy and eternal truth was then in the north, where God had placed and set me; and likewise for the ordering and governing of my children and family; so that we were willing both of us to live apart some years upon God's account and His truth's service, and to deny ourselves of that comfort which we might have had in being together, for the sake and service of the Lord and His truth. If any took occasion, or judged hard of us, because of that, the Lord will judge them; for we were innocent. And for My own part I was willing to make many long journeys for taking away all occasion of evil thoughts; and although I lived two hundred miles from London, yet have I been nine times there, upon the Lord's and His truth's account; and of all the times I was in London, this last time was most comfortable, the Lord was pleased to give me strength and ability to travel that great journey, being seventy six years of age, to see my dear husband, who was better in health and strength than many times I had seen him before. I look upon it, that the Lord's special hand was in it, that I should go then; for he lived but about half a year after I left him; which makes me admire the wisdom and goodness of God in ordering my journey at that time."

In connection with this subject, it should be remembered that George Fox, during his married life, was always incessantly engaged in zealously propagating  his views of Christian faith, and in establishing the religions society that grew out of them. As a Gospel minister he visited North America and the West India Islands, was twice in Holland, and other parts of the continent of Europe, beside long and laborious journeys in hill native land, enduring also an imprisonment of fourteen mouths in Worcester jail.

Whilst his great mission remained to be accomplished, he contentedly relinquished the ease of a comfortable home, and the society of an interesting family. His industry and zeal were remarkable, love to God and love to man, and the interests of the beloved people, whom the Lord had enabled him to call from the barren and desolate mountains of an empty profession to come and sit under their own vine and fig tree, where none could make them afraid, were the powerful incentives that governed his conduct. In the performance of his duty to his Divine Master, he was made willing to forsake not only houses and lands, but wife also, for His sake and the gospel.

At the expense of much time and patience, he frequently appeared before the Kings, parliament and Judges, in order to lay before them appeals  for justice, mercy and moderation. He was also engaged with others in forming those excellent rules of discipline intended for the government of the society of Friends, in defending it's doctrines from the arguments and cavils of opponents and apostates, and in writing and publishing books for these and other purposes. London being the metropolis of the kingdom, the yearly meeting convening there, and many of the leading and influential Friends residing in that city, George Fox was necessarily much there in attending to the secular interests of the society of Friends.

The facilities for traveling of the present day strikingly contrast with the times we are now considering, scarcely any public conveyances being then in use. Stage-coaches were just coming into existence in the reign of Charles the Second, and were slow, inconvenient and clumsy vehicles, with difficulty going the distance between Oxford and London in daylight, which is now performed in a little more than an hour. Traveling on horseback was commonly and almost universally practiced, private carriages were used chiefly by the wealthier classes, and wagons carrying merchandise to different parts of the country also accommodated a few of the poorer sort of people. The state of the roads, also, at this period, formed a serious obstacle to the comfort of traveling, many of them being so much out of repair as to be almost impassable, and oftentimes infested with highwaymen; so that a journey of two hundred miles, with these difficulties, may have formed a very important reason why he was so much absent from home at this time.

It appears Margaret Fox again visited London, under religious concern, in the year 1698. At that time she addressed the following letter to King William, which was delivered to him by her daughter, Susan Ingram:

"To KING WILLIAM:

It has pleased Almighty God to bring me unto this place, two hundred miles from my dwelling, in my old age (being entered into the eighty-fifth year of my age), to bear my testimony for that eternal truth, which I and many more are made partakers of, praised be the Lord; and I am not free and clear to return to my habitation, until I have cleared myself unto this government. I was exercised in this manner the first year King Charles the Second came to the crown, and labored among them a whole year, to acquaint them, and give them an understanding of our principles, in giving letters and papers unto them for that end. We had great opposition from both church and state, yet it pleased God to cause them to give us some liberty to worship Him, though sometimes under great sufferings. Now I am to acquaint King William, that we have been a people about forty-six years, and have lived under several reigns, and we have suffered very much, as it is well-known to the nation of England, even to the death of several hundreds by imprisonment and other hardships, and yet we were never found in transgression of any just or righteous law, but only upon account of our consciences towards God. Following our conscience was the cause of our suffering, and not for evil or wrong done to any man or government; for our principle which we testify of is the Light of Jesus Christ, and His eternal spirit, which leads into all truth and righteousness, but not into any untruth or evil actions. If any bearing the same name among us have transgressed against the precious truth and royal law of liberty, we do with the same spirit judge and condemn them wherever they are found. We do deny all plots and contrivances against the government, and all false and underhand dealing. We live in that principle which is righteous, just and true for God is a God of truth, and blessed are all those who fear Him, and walk in His truth. Now God has placed you over us, in this government, which has been very moderate and merciful to us, and we live very comfortably under you and it, and do enjoy our meetings quietly, which formerly we were much disturbed in, which was a great suffering upon us. God has blessed your government and prospered your undertakings; for which the King and we have cause to bless His holy name, who is a God of peace, and His Son is Prince of peace, who now has given us peace and tranquility, for which we praise His holy name. Your gentle government and clemency, and gracious acts, God has and will reward you for. As we abide in that just and righteous principle of the eternal God, by which we ought all to be guided, I hope the government shall never hear worse of us; but that we shall rather be a blessing than grievance to it and the nation; for so it will be as we continue in the blessed truth; in which I pray God for your preservation, who am His servant, and your faithful subject.

She died at Swarthmore, the 23d of the 2nd month, 1702, in the eighty-eighth year of her age, having survived her husband about eleven years. Her children say: "The blessed God of heaven and earth preserved her understanding to the last; and in the time of her sickness, she was in a sweet frame of spirit, and uttered many heavenly expressions near her conclusion in this world, which some of us were eye and ear witnesses of; and we believe she is inheriting a heavenly mansion, prepared by the Lord Jesus Christ, for all his faithful followers." Thomas Dockrey, who visited her shortly before her decease, upon querying how she found herself, she answered: "Very weak in body, but alive in God." He also heard her speak many comfortable and excellent words, thus: "The Lord is with me, and I am with the Lord, and in Him only will I trust and commit all to the divine providence of the Lord, both concerning my children and grand-children, and all things they do enjoy from Him, both in spirituals and naturals, who is the God of all the mercies and blessings to His people, throughout all generations; to Him be glorious praises forever. Amen."

Her daughter expressing what a blessed mother she had been to her children, and whole posterity; she answered very sweetly: "Cleave to me, and you will not do wrong, for I am joined to the Lord."

At another time she said: "Oh! my sweet Lord, into your bosom do I commit myself freely; not desiring to live in this troublesome and painful world; it is all nothing to me; for my Maker is my husband." " Come, come, pray let us join the Lord, and be of one spirit, join to the eternal God, and be of one spirit."

At another time: "Come, Lord Jesus, I am freely given up to Your will."

Again she said: "I freely forgive all people upon the face of the whole earth, for any wrong done to me, as freely as I desire to be forgiven." Seeing her children sorrowful, she said: "Be quiet; for I am as comfortable, and well in spirit, as ever I was." And a little before her close, to her daughter Rachel: "Take me in your arms, I am in peace."

She was interred in the burial-ground belonging to Swarthmore meeting-house, the 27th of 2d month, many Friends out of several counties being present. Thomas Camm, who attended her funeral, remarks: "The Lord did eminently appear with us, and many testimonies were borne to the honor of the truth, and great satisfaction to many there, of great quality and degree in the world; and to the comfort and edification of all the upright to God; to whom belongs the praise of all His wonderful works and marvelous loving kindness extended and multiplied, unto and upon His people, in and through our Lord, Jesus Christ, world without end. Amen”

In the testimony of her children, concerning her, they say:

"The Lord so increased her growth in the blessed truth, that she became a mother in Israel, and was very exemplary and serviceable in the church of Christ, strengthening the weak, and supporting the feeble. A great care was upon her, and she was very diligent in speaking, and promoting the truth of our Lord Jesus Christ, both in this nation, (where she traveled much), and to other nations by epistles. She performed and continued this care for many years, until the truth had made a larger entrance in the nations; discountenancing and reproving all false appearances, which would have made a show of that which they were not."

"And the Lord made her a preacher of righteousness, both in a public testimony for the truth, and in her life and conversation. And she continued her zeal and constancy for the truth, in her diligent attending of weekly, quarterly, monthly, and other meetings for worship, in which she was truly exemplary, even near the conclusion. And also, she was raised up, and preserved a noble and valiant sufferer for the truth, and its innocent testimony; so she spared no labor nor pains, in traveling to visit those that were under confinement for the sake thereof, and was a comfort and strength to them therein."

Thomas Camm testifies of her:

"And as she freely denied and despised the glory of this fading world, for Christ's and the truth's sake, God gave her honor, and a name among the righteous, with qualifications many ways for a considerable service in His church, in which she shined as a morning star, being filled with real wisdom and understanding, for the propagation of truth and righteousness. She was given a clear discerning of spirits, and the working of the enemy; which draws from the life and power of truth, into a liberty that genders to bondage, and to separation and breach of unity among Friends; appearing firm and zealous against the same, to the comfort and help of many. She was fervent and living in her ministry, and in supplications and prayers to Almighty God, to the edifying and building up many in that most precious faith, which gives victory over the world. Not only a great and exemplary sufferer for the truth, but a visitor and sympathizer with all the faithful in their sufferings, zealously laboring and endeavoring with such as were in authority for their relief, as being afflicted with the afflicted, and mourning with those that mourned, trusting in the Arm of God's power, which is the support of the righteous.

She never spared herself nor doubted of good success, in her manifold labors on truth's account; both in her ministry abroad in most places in this nation, and other services: but approved herself such in zeal that needed not to be ashamed of her work and service for the Lord, His Truth, and people in her time. She performed these services with all sincerity, and is now rewarded with the full fruition of eternal life, and peace with her God, whom she loved, feared and served with an upright heart, every way faithfully, while God was  pleased to give her strength end ability to perform the same."

George Whitehead says:

 “She had a godly care upon her for the sober and virtuous education of her children and offspring; and the Lord blessed and answered her therein in a good measure, and no doubt blessed them the more for her sake, as well as for their own salvation, for which she chiefly travailed in spirit, and earnestly sought the Lord in their behalf, beyond all temporal blessings." Beside the epistle addressed to Friends by Margaret F ox, she maintained an extensive correspondence with many of the leading end eminent persons in the society, in all parts of the nation. Numerous letters addressed to her are preserved in the Swarthmore collection, relating principally to the difficulties and persecutions under which many of its members suffered, and the various applications made to the monarchs, the Parliament and magistrates for redress. It is very remarkable to observe the respect with which she was regarded by the early Friends, and the affectionate terms in which they addressed her.

Edward Burrough styles her: “Dear Sister, you, who are a fruitful branch in the living vine, and a pleasant plant in the garden of God."

And Alexander Parker:

"Dearly beloved sister, dearly do I Salute you. Our life is one; our joy one; our suffering one; our food and raiment one; eating both of one bread, and drinking both of one cup in the Father's house, where there is bread enough, and wells of living water to refresh the  tender plants; where the babes are nourished and fed with the milk, and receive their meat in due season. Where there is joy and rejoicing in the presence of the Lord, and pleasures forevermore; which only those do enjoy, who have followed the Lamb through many tribulations and fiery trials and temptations, and have overcome by the blood of the Lamb, and their garments washed white and clean. Hallelujah and praises to His glorious name forever, who has called and chosen us, and made us partakers of the divine nature; and has redeemed us from the world and the pollutions of it: to be witnesses of His powerful name. And in His power and free love, has He sent us abroad into the world, to turn others from darkness and their vain conversation; that they may have union with us in the light of His Son, and praise and glorify His eternal Majesty forever and forevermore."

How much she was beloved by her immediate connections will appear from the following extract from a memorial of her by her sons-in-law, after her death:

"And as for us, who are her sons-in-law, we cannot but give our testimony of our sense of her worthiness, and we account ourselves happy, and it is a singular mercy to us, that the Lord gave us wives of the daughters of such a worthy person, and that we are partakers of their virtuous education, whereby they are made a blessing to us," ...

Indeed, she appears to have been regarded as a nursing mother in the church, both spiritually and temporally, visiting Friends in prison, entertaining them at her house, and freely dispensing of her substance for their comfort and support.

Thus having faithfully served her generation according to the will of her Heavenly Father, she has passed, we doubt not, to the fruition of that glorious reward promised to the righteous, to those who, through much tribulation, have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

EPISTLES

PREFACE TO MARGARET FOX'S EPISTLES,

WRITTEN BY HERSELF

 

FRIENDLY READER:

The following epistles were written at the first appearance of truth among us, when we were young in it; the light of Christ being our first principle, our minds being turned to it, and it having become our teacher, leader and guider, we saw perfectly that there was no safety, nor preservation out of sin and transgression, but as we obeyed the light, and followed it in our hearts and consciences, it leading out of sin, transgression and iniquity; so as we waited in it, and dwelt in it, we came to witness a washing and cleansing, by the blood of Jesus. So we came to discern, between the precious and the vile, and between the holy and the unclean, and between the chaff, and the wheat; and between those who served God, and those who served Him not. When we came to this sight, and knowledge, and discerning, then we became very zealous for God, and for His truth; and for the preservation of His people in the truth; and our hearts became tender, and we had a pity for all people's souls that remained in darkness. We were moved of the Lord to write often to Friends, and our testimony was very much to the light of Christ in the conscience because we saw that was the way, and there was no other; for Christ Jesus said, I am the Light; He also said, I am the way, the truth, and the life; and there is none that can come to the Father, but by me.

So we received His Testimony, and could set to our seals that this was true. Then we saw the great concern that lay upon this, which is the salvation of poor people's souls. We knowing as Christ said, those who hated the Light it was their condemnation; and also those that obeyed it, it would bring them to Christ their salvation; this made us very importunate with all people, both Friends and others, to direct them to the Light and obey it.

Also there was such a body of darkness that warred against the Light for people had lived in darkness out of the knowledge of the Light so that it was such a new doctrine to them that there was a mighty war in people's minds against it. The priests and professors set themselves against it, calling it a natural light; and some said it was a dim light, and some derisively called it a dark lantern, and others said it was not sufficient to condemn. So in their dark imaginations they fought against it. We had very much to do in the beginning to get people convinced of the Truth and of the sufficiency of it; and also to keep those who were convinced in obedience to it. But the Lord's arm and power carried on His own work, despite all the opposition of the power of darkness; glory and praises be to His holy name forever.

Here are a few epistles preserved, but many more are lacking, the copies believed lost, with many other papers and letters that might have been serviceable; but in love to all people, we bring those that we have to open view; that if the Lord gives a blessing to them, they may be serviceable hereafter, so they have been to many heretofore. The Truth is one and the same always; and though ages and generations pass away, and one generation goes and another comes, yet the Word, and Power, and Spirit of the living God endures forever, and is the same, and never changes.

So, reader, cleave to the blessed Light and Truth of the living God, that He has placed in your heart, and believe in it, and hearken to it, and obey it, and it will lead you in the path that we have gone; and then you will see, and feel, and understand what we have gone through. You will come to be a witness of the living God and His Truth, which will be peace and comfort to your soul. The Lord God Almighty open your heart, and enlighten the eye of your understanding, that you may come to have unity with all the saints in light.

A GENERAL EPISTLE TO FRIENDS, 1655

FRIENDS, whom the Lord God has called unto the light which is eternal, which the Lord God has sent, to bring his seed out of bondage, and out of the house of darkness, from under Pharaoh, and his task-masters, which has so long been held under the dark power and mystery of iniquity. The Lord God of life and power has visited you, and sent His servants to awaken you, and to raise you from the dead, that Christ might give you life, who has come and coming to redeem Israel, and to divide the Red Sea; and to overturn Pharaoh and his host. Stand, still (I say unto you) and see the salvation of God, and in the fear of the living God wait low in your own measure of grace, and hearken diligently unto that, that your souls  may live. This you must do, if ever you witness the living God. So in the name and power of the Lord Jesus Christ, at whose name every knee shall bow and every tongue confess, beware how you spend your money for that which is not bread and your labor for that which perishes. It is the diligent hand that makes rich; but the idle, slothful, and negligent suffer want. Beware of going from your guide, which keeps you low and tender, and prize the love of God if He ever should visit you; and beware that you do not repay Him evil for good, for He is a jealous God, and will not clear the guilty. It is the low, and the meek, and humble that the Lord God teaches, it is the broken and contrite spirit, that God will not despise. He, who is the high and lofty one, that inhabits eternity, dwells in the hearts of the humble.

But all who are got up in their imaginations, the Lord God will scatter, and the proud, the high, and the lofty, the Lord does resist; and this you shall witness, the Lord feeds the [spiritually] hungry, but the rich is sent empty away.They who thirst and breathe after righteousness, such the Lord satisfies. So read, and with the eternal light examine and search, and try what it is that you thirst after; whether it is righteousness, purity, and holiness for these will the Lord satisfy; and whoever is not thus seeking shall never receive satisfaction from the Lord God; but wrath, and terror, and horror, shall fall upon that which is contrary to this. So, as you love your eternal peace and the redemption of your souls, keep low in your measure of the living testimony that comes from the living God, which is one in all, in its measure one; there is no division, no rent, but all one. This gathers your hearts together, and this knits and unites unto the body, where the unity is; and who gathers not here, scatters abroad; and he that is not with us here, is against us. So examine, and try whether you are gathering now or scattering abroad, with the Light which is eternal, which is one in all. Examine and try your own selves, I charge you, as you will answer it before the Lord God; come down and stoop to the yoke of Christ, which is easy, and take His yoke upon you, and His burden which is light; and beware of departing from under the yoke of obedience, or pulling away the shoulder; for the Lord God requires not only sacrifice, but obedience, which is better. The mind that looks outward, from the measure enjoyed, and joins to anything without, contrary to the freedom of the spirit within, that mind is for judgment. The eternal spirit of God is one in all, and what divides one from another is for judgment; for where there is division, the kingdom that cannot stand. So read where you are; for if you are in what is divided, you cannot stand. So in love and tenderness to your souls I warn and charge you from the Lord: keep in the light, which is one; in the power, which is one; and in the  measure of life made manifest in you, which is one. Here is no division or separation, but a gathering and knitting. If you love the light, then you come to the light to be proved, and tried whether your works be wrought in God. But what hates the light, turns from the light, and that shall be condemned by the light forever. Although you may turn from the light, where the unity is, and you may turn from the eternal truth; you can never escape from the witness of God in your consciences, (which he has placed in you, which bears witness for the living God), for it will pursue  you wherever you go. Those who turn out from the light, their resurrection is to condemnation, and on the left hand they are put among the goats, and shall have their portion with hypocrites and unbelievers; and this shall be witnessed forever.

I was moved of the Lord to write this to you in love and tenderness to the measure of God in you with which I have unity, which will witness for me forever; and this is in love to your souls. So the Lord God of life and power keep you alive in what He has placed in you to His everlasting glory; for a sweet savor we are unto God, both in those who are saved, and in those who perish. Beware how you draw back from the everlasting truth, that the Lord God has tendered to you, which you shall eternally witness to be of God. For He who draws back, my soul has no pleasure in him, said God. What we have heard, and have seen, and felt, and our hands have handled, even  the Word of life which has been declared unto you.

From one who desires the good of all souls,

Margaret Fell

AN EPISTLE TO CONVINCED FRIENDS, IN 1666

Dear Friends, brethren and sisters, in the eternal Light, by which we are gathered, which is our teacher and leader; which Light comes from our Lord Jesus Christ, the captain of our salvation, in whom is life, and this life is the Light of all men; who has laid down his life for his sheep, and who gives unto his sheep eternal Life; and this life is in his Son. Your righteousness is of me, said the Lord; and this is the heritage of the saints. This you are made partakers of, who walk in the Light, and dwell in the Light, shall have the Light of life, and come to know the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom he has sent, who has come a Light into the world. He that believes in him, shall not walk in darkness, nor shall not perish, but have everlasting Life. And this is the Father's free love, to send his only begotten son into the world, who is hated and rejected of men, but chosen of God and precious, who is become the head of our corner, glory eternal be to the living God! On him are we built, in him are we rooted and grounded. He is our foundation and root, we his offspring, on whom we stand fast, unmovable. This is the cornerstone, which all the builders refuse and disallow. But on this rock is the whole Church built, which is made of living stones, elect and precious, the spiritual temple, whose maker and builder is God. And now we, having an high priest over the household of God, let us draw near with a true heart, in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water, [she is speaking of spiritual water, from above which must be witnessed, not the water baptism of the earth's water; just as we must witness the fire of baptism that burns away all impurity, leaving us pure]. Wherefore return to the shepherd of your souls, and unchangeable priest, which is made with an oath forever, after the order of Melchizedek, who is made surety of a better testament, who needs not daily to offer sacrifice, but he has offered one sacrifice, and forever has sat down at the right hand of God, from henceforth expecting, until his enemies be made his footstool. For by his own offering has he perfected forever those who are sanctified; and of this the Holy Ghost is a witness to us, in the fulfilling of the everlasting promise of the Lord God, who has said, I will put my laws in their hearts, and in their minds will I write them. Now, dear brethren, of this bear witness, [witness as in experience, not as in go and tell others], and of the truth and faithfulness of the Lord God, you may set to your seals, all who abide in the Light, and depart from iniquity, who name this name, which is better than other names; to which every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess. And now, that you are made partakers of a living, pure, eternal, immortal principle, which come from the living God, by which you may enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by this new and living way, which he has consecrated for us through the veil, (that is to say), his flesh. Therefore hold fast the profession of your faith without wavering, for faithful is he that has promised. In the strait and narrow way that leads to life pass on, that through the strait gate you may enter, which few there are who find. Oh! in the eternal Light, (which is one in all), which leads up to the Father of Light; and in the measure of Light received from the Father and fountain of Light and life, all wait and all dwell; and to the life, raised by the immortal word of life, join your minds; and pass from the death to the life, that so you may come to know and witness the true love that is to the brethren, where the unity is, whereby you all may know that you are true disciples; in that you love one another; and here you fulfill the whole law, and keep the new commandment, which your Lord and master has commanded. Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, consider what you are called to, and what you are made to partake of, even of a living, and pure, and holy priesthood, a peculiar people you are, and of the holy nation, and of the royal seed. Now, with the Light, which is eternal, which searches, and tries, and examines, and weighs, and makes all things manifest, of what sort it is. Let this search and try you, how you grow up in the eternal and immortal birth, and do not deceive your souls. For except you are born again, of water [heavenly water, not earthly water baptism] and of the Spirit, you cannot enter. Now see whether you can read this in the Light; and whether you know, and see, and witness this in your own particulars, yes or no; and see whether you are not like Nicodemus, who said, How can these things be? and whether you are not ignorant of this. Therefore, all come down to the witness of God, and deal plainly with your own souls; and let the judge, who stands at the door, pass sentence upon you. Let the time past suffice, that you have hidden the talent in the earth, which you have received from the Lord to profit withal. Let the earth give up her dead, and the sea give up her dead, and hell give up her dead, and let all come to judgment. Let death and hell be cast into the lake; and freely give up what is for the sword, to the sword; and that which is for the fire, to the fire; so that those who are dead in sin, may arise. For of what benefit is it for you to take the profession and form of the living truth? For if the dead do not rise, [she is speaking of us rising from death now, not after being physically buried], you are still in your sins, and your faith is vain. Therefore see what you are doing. For it is not the talker who is saved, but he that does the will of my Father; and many shall be called, and few chosen. Now see with the Light, which is eternal, that you are not only of the many which are called, but of the few which are chosen. Give all diligence, not to make only your calling, but your election sure. Friends, your day of calling has come; you are called out of the world, and separated from the world, by the call of the living God. The Light calls out of Sodom and Egypt, where the many are. Therefore do not deceive yourselves, for you are some of the many that are called; and you are made partakers of that which calls continually, the voice behind, which cries: This is the Way, walk in it; why will you die? Now consider, how you respond to this holy call, and how you are obedient to it, and how you are subject, and how you are taught and guided, by the measure of God's Spirit. For all the children of the Lord are taught of the Lord, and in righteousness are they established. Now, search with the Light, which is eternal, whether you are established in righteousness and purity. If you are not, then mind the teachings of the Lord. For he that walks in the Light, as he is in the Light, the blood of Jesus cleanses from all sin. Now examine, whether you are cleansed, whether you are purged, whether you are washed. For if you walk in the Light, then you witness [observe and experience] cleansing and washing. Beware of betraying the just and the innocent in you, with a form and profession of the truth, without the life, and so betray your own souls. (I warn you, and charge you, as you will answer it to the Lord). But to the pure eternal principle of the Lord God all turn, and keep your minds unto this, which is given unto you, for the redeeming and ransoming of your souls from the captivity and bondage of sin and corruption. Respond diligently to that of God, that your souls may live; and that you may see your saviour, who saves his people from their sins, and so witness the salvation of your souls. You are made partakers of the free grace of God, which brings salvation; so let it be your teacher and leader. Beware of turning this grace into a lack of restraint, which is able to save your souls. But receive with meekness the engrafted Word, that the milk thereof you may witness, and as newborn babes, desire that you may grow thereby. We declare unto you the Word that is near, in the heart, which is the Word of faith which we preach; which Word was in the beginning, (by which Word the heaven and the earth was made), which we have heard, which we have seen, which our hands have handled. To the measure of this in you, am I made manifest; and my joy and life is, that you would take heed to your own measures received, and be true and faithful to that which is able to save your souls; that eternal pure redemption you may come to witness, and the unity of the faith, … and so joining to the body, which holds the head, from which the living virtue is received. So that you may grow up as lively plants in the garden of God, which now he is dressing, and watering, and pruning. That to him fruit may be brought forth, who is the Lord of the vineyard, and the husbandman, who purges every plant that bears fruit, that it may bring forth more fruit. Every branch that does not bear not fruit, he takes away. Now see with the eternal Light, whether you bring forth fruit unto God. For every tree is known by its fruit; and every branch, which the Lord plants, brings forth fruit, (not only leaves, but fruit). Now search, whether you bring forth fruit, or leaves. For that tree, that is in the garden, and brings forth nothing but leaves, is to be cut down. Now, Friends, deal plainly with yourselves, and let the eternal Light search you, and try you, for the good of your souls. For this will deal plainly with you. It will rip you up, and lay you open, and make all manifest which lodges in you; the secret subtlety of the enemy of your souls, this eternal searcher and trier will make manifest. Therefore all to this come, and by this be searched, and judged, and led and guided. For to this you must stand or fall. If you turn from this, this is a swift witness against the adulterer and sorcerer, and from this you cannot flee. In this I have cleared my conscience; and for the good of your souls I have written this, who desires that you might all be where I am, that so we might all be one. So the Lord God of life and power keep you all in his fear, that the Lord God you may serve and honor, that your hearts may be kept clean, and the secrets of the Lord you may come to know, which none shall ever know, but those that fear him; and this you shall eternally witness. Therefore, I say again, fear the Lord God, so that the pure wisdom you may come to learn. For dreadful and terrible is the Lord God; and the day of the vengeance of our God has come, in which he renders to everyone according to his deeds. The backslider, and the revolter, and the disobedient ones, and the careless, and the slothful, and those whose minds are at liberty, and will not abide in the cross of Christ; all these shall receive according to their deeds. Therefore, dear Friends, abide in the cross, and keep your minds to that which is pure; so that you may come to witness the enmity slain, and the handwriting of ordinances blotted out, and nailed to the cross, and you crucified to the world, and the world to you. Consider one another, and provoke one another to Love and to good works, not forsaking the Assembling of yourselves, but exhorting one another, and so much the more, as you see the day approaching. Dwell in love and unity, in the pure eternal Light; there is your fellowship, there is your cleansing and washing. Here is the mystery to all the disobedient ones. The everlasting God, of everlasting Light, and everlasting life and power, keep you all here faithful to your own measure; that so the resurrection and the life you may witness, and the living bread you may feed on, which, whosoever eats of, shall never die. So God Almighty be with you, and preserve you all faithful in Christ Jesus. From your dear sister in the unchangeable love of Christ, who desires, the good of all your souls,

Margaret Fell

AN EPISTLE TO FRIENDS, 1657.

DEAR BRETHREN AND SISTERS, who are gathered in the light of Christ; Jesus, the fountain of all light, and life, from where light comes, from whence life comes, from whence power comes; which redeems out of nations, kindreds, people and tongues, to be kings and priests unto God, to reign with Him upon the earth. This is the possession of the saints who dwell in the light, that leads them into the life and fountain from whence it comes; here is the unity of the spirit, and bond of peace, which never can be broken. Here the pure language and worship of the Lord is, with one heart, one consent, and one soul, where there is no division; there the pure path of life is known, the way of holiness, where the unclean cannot pass, where the presence of the Lord is, wherein is fullness of joy, and pleasures forevermore. Now that every one may read his name here, in the unchangeable life is this written, that the pure life in all may prevail, and that the poor may receive the gospel; which is glad tidings of great joy to the oppressed and heavy laden, which groan under the bondage of corruption, and cry for deliverance; the cry whereof, is entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabbath; and he has determined in the thoughts of His heart, that the deliverer shall come from Zion, and the captivity of His people will He bring back, and salvation will come to Israel; so that Jacob shall rejoice, and Israel shall be glad, glory, everlasting glory be unto His everlasting arm forever; by which He gets unto Himself a name and victory even to the astonishment of the heathen, and to the confounding of His enemies, and to the recovering, raising and quickening of many who were dead in sins. And though He has been a God unknown, now is He arisen in His light, which shines in the conscience, and He has caused it to shine out of darkness, and it has shined in the heart; which gives the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ His Son.

Now unto those who have long sat in darkness, and under the shadow of death, even unto them has this light shined, who were sometime darkness, but now are they light in the Lord, who were dead in trespasses and sins, even them has He quickened together with Christ, glory and praises be unto Him forever. Now dear friends in this quickening spirit, by which you are quickened out of the sleep and death of corruption where Christ has given you light, walk in Him, learn of Him, who is lowly, who is meek; and be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath, and keep down and block that part that receives a prejudice; search narrowly, and beware that you receive it not from a wrong spirit, for that will wrong the innocent; and the simplicity both in yourselves and others. It is hard to know the spiritual wickedness in high places, and it is with the spiritual power of the living God, that you can wrestle with the principalities and powers of spiritual wickedness; and it is the brightness of His coming, and the spirit of His mouth, that can reveal the man of sin, the son of perdition, that sits in the temple of God, exalted above all that is called God, showing himself as God. This is narrow and deep to discern between him that shows himself as God, and is not, and He that is the true image indeed.

Dear Friends, this I write unto you in tender and in dear love to the Seed of God in you all, for which my soul travails; knowing and being acquainted with the danger of this spirit, which measures itself by itself, which the Apostle said was not wise, for such will boast of things without their measure, and will boast of other men's lines. Now that you may know, and feel the life and power of every spirit; knowing the pure life in yourselves, you will come to savor it in others; and that which savors of the death, will be death to the life, in the fear of the Lord God. Beware of stifling the pure birth of God in you, and of wronging the pure innocent seed in you, which God is coming to plead the calls of in all flesh in this day. Beware that you join not with God's enemies, either in yourselves or others; but join with God's pure witness and testimony, and there will be your peace. Here you will know Him, who is the life, and the resurrection; he that believes in Him, though he were dead, yet shall be live; and there is no other name under heaven, whereby any shall be saved, than by that name, which is better than every name; to which every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess; but there are none that know this name, but he that has the white stone, in which it is written. From a true friend of the Seed of God in all nations.

Margaret Fell

AN EPISTLE TO FRIENDS, 1659

MY DEARLY BELOVED BRETHREN AND SISTERS, in the everlasting truth, and eternal love, and power of an endless life, into which we were begotten, and have been nursed up, and kept in, as living stones growing up in the temple of the living God; the same Power and arm is present with you, and owns you; therefore keep in it, and let your faith stand in the power and life of God in every particular; and in that book of life will you read me near, as if present, in the everlasting covenant and bond of peace, which is never to be broken; and in that love of Jesus Christ, which none can separate us from, height nor depth, life nor death. The eternal God keep you, who brought again our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead, through the blood of the everlasting covenant; and by His blood wash you, and cleanse you from all sin, and all that would separate from God; that you may have fellowship one with another in the eternal light and life, and there I leave you; and to the Word of His eternal power I commit you, and commend you to His eternal Arm, which is able to save your souls, and to keep you up to Himself.

AN EPISTLE TO FRIENDS IN IRELAND, IN 1661

MY DEAR LOVE in the Lord God Almighty is unto you all, which never changes, but endures forevermore; which love as it is lived in, preserves and keeps to the Lord God and His commandments, laws and statutes; which love is the fulfilling of the whole law of God, and answers to all commands, in thought, word and action. And this keeps clean, low and innocent, and moulds us into its own frame and temper, and so brings to be a new lump, leavened into the bowels of everlasting love, which reaches unto all, and extends unto all, even unto enemies. Oh! blessed and happy are all those who are come into this sweet being of universal love, which would have all to be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth. This is the image and nature of the blessed God, that holds forth His tender hand, and everlasting love, unto all people, nations, languages, kindreds and tongues, who is no respecter of persons, but every nation that fears God, and works righteousness, is accepted with Him, whose call is to every one that thirsts, come, and whosoever is athirst, let him come and drink of the water of life freely. Oh! the infinite love and bowels of everlasting life and fullness that dwells in His blessed bosom, righteousness and peace is the habitation of His throne. Oh! my dear lambs, let the issues of life be kept open, that issues into your souls, from this blessed fountain, that you may feel it always open unto you, and you open unto it, that you may always feel it fresh and new, flowing into your souls. So will you feel the word of the Lord God sweeter unto you than the honey, or the honeycomb; and so will you come truly to know, that man lives not by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the Lord God; here stands the life of men, and so to do the will of the Lord God, will be meat and drink unto you, and will be more delightful than your ordinary food; and then will not sufferings, trials and hardships be strange unto you; knowing that the Captain of your salvation, who is gone before you, is made perfect through sufferings; who in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications; with strong crying and tears unto Him that was able to save Him, because He feared; though He was a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered, and so must all that follow His steps; the servants are not greater than their Lord; and blessed and happy are all those who learn this lesson in the power of God, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake; for they who suffer for Him, shall also reign over their enemies with Him; and in His power will they subdue and conquer at the last, for the Lamb and His followers shall have the victory.

And so, my dearly beloved, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might, and be faithful, and bold, and true to your Maker, and he will be a husband to you, and set your feet upon the rock most sure, that if the storms beat, and the tempests blow, yet you will not be shaken, for He that keeps you is greater than all, and none is able to pluck you out of His hand. Into whose arm and power I commit you, everlastingly to dwell and abide with the Lord God, with whom all things are possible. The God of love, whose mercies fail not, preserve and keep you all, and nurse you up in His own bosom, to His own praise and glory, that you may be a people saved by the Lord.

From your dear friend and sister,

Margaret Fell

PRINCIPAL WORKS OF MARGARET FOX

HER principal works are: "A Call to the Jews out of Babylon," addressed to Manasseh Ben Israel, a famous Jewish Rabbi, then in England.

"A Testimony of the Touch Stone for all Professors, to try their ground and foundation by;" both published in 1656.

"A Loving Salutation to the Seed of Abraham among the Jews,"

"Women's Speaking justified, proved and allowed by the Scriptures, all such as speak by the spirit and power of the Lord Jesus,"

And "A Touch Stone, or Trial by the Scriptures of the Priests, Bishops and Ministers who have called themselves Ministers of the Gospel," besides numerous others of minor importance.

In "A Touch Stone, or Trial by the Scriptures," she thus describes the nature, design and effect of true spiritual worship, and Christian ministry, which she contrasts with the dry formal worship which so much prevailed among the profession of religion in that day:

Christ when he spoke to the woman of Samaria, and she told him that their father worshipped in that mountain of Samaria, Jesus said unto her, ' woman believe me, the hour comes, when you shall neither in that mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father; but the hour comes, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for the Father seeks such to worship Him; God is a spirit, and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.' And to this purpose Jesus spoke unto Nicodemus, who came unto Him by night, when He said unto him, 'Verily, verily I say unto you, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.' At which words Nicodemus wondered; but Jesus answered, 'Except a man be born of water and the spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto you, you must be born again; the wind blows where it wishes...'

To this purpose the man, whose name was John, was sent of God, to bear witness of Christ Jesus the light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that light, but was sent to bear witness of that light, that was the true light, which lights every man that comes into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made by Him. Which was born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. John bore witness of Him, and cried, saying, ' This is He of whom I spoke, He that comes after me, is preferred before me; and of His fullness have we all received grace for grace.'

To bring people to this light and spirit of the Lord within them, did Christ Jesus and all His holy apostles endeavor by their preaching; therefore said Jesus Christ unto Nicodemus, 'We speak what we know, and testify what we have seen, and you receive not our witness. This is the condemnation that light is come into the world, and men love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil. For every one that does evil hates the light, lest his deeds should be reproved; but he that does truth, cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God. This is Christ's doctrine and worship.

When He was preaching among His disciples, and the Scribes and Pharisees heard Him, and many prominent people believed, but they did not confess Him, because of the Pharisees, for fear they should be put out of the synagogue; Jesus cried out among them, and said, 'He that believes in me, believes not in me, but in Him that sent me. I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believes in me, should not abide in darkness. And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not, for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejects me, and receives not my words, has one that judges him; the word that I have spoken shall judge him at the last day.

Christ told the Pharisees that the kingdom of God came not by observation; but the kingdom of God was within them. And when he sent forth Hill disciples, he said, 'As you go, preach, saying the kingdom of God is at hand.' When he sent out the seventy, he said, 'heal the sick that are there; and say the kingdom of God is near unto you.

We also see by the epistles of the apostles, which are left upon record, after what manner of doctrine and exhortation they spoke to the people. When Peter speaks of his beloved brother Paul and of his epistles, which he had written, and what he spoke; some things, he said, are hard to be understood, which those who are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other Scriptures, to their own destruction. So those who have not the inspiration of the Almighty, and motion of the Spirit of the Lord God, the same that gave forth the Scriptures, when they came to interpret them, and give meanings to them, being unlearned therein, they will wrest them to their own destruction, and therefore they do not profit the people at all. These are they who separate themselves; men who are sensual, not having the Spirit.

Also the Apostle Paul in Romans, where he is speaking of his heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel, he tells them, that Christ is the end of the law to every one that believes. For, said he, the righteousness of faith speaks in this wise, say not in your heart who shall ascend into heaven, that is to bring Christ down from above? or who shall descend into the deep, that is to bring Christ up again from the dead? But what said it? The Word is nigh you, even in your mouth, and in your heart, that is the word of faith which we preach.

When he wrote to the Hebrews he rehearses the new covenant that the prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah had prophesied of, and said, this is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, said the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them. These, with many more places of Scripture, might be instanced of the apostles, how they ministered both in preaching and writing.

In the first epistle of John, he said, 'That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, and our hands have handled of the Word of life: this we declare unto you, that you may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son, Jesus Christ.' Here was a right minister of God, that would have had those he wrote to, be in fellowship with him, who was in fellowship with the Father and with the Son; and therefore he said unto them, 'these things I write unto you, that your joy may be full. This then is the message which we have heard from him, and declared unto you, that God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with Him and walk in darkness, we lie and do not truth; but if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses is from all sin.' Again, the same apostle said, 'A new commandment I write now you; which thing is true in him and in you because the darkness is past, and the true light now shines. Let that, therefore, abide in you which you have heard from the beginning. If that which you have heard from the beginning shall abide in you, you shall all continue in the Son, and in the Father. I have written these things to you, concerning them that seduce you; but the anointing, which you have received of Him, abides in you; and you don’t need any man to teach you, but as the same anointing teaches you of all things, and is truth, and no lie; even was He has taught you, you shall abide in Him: For you have an unction from the Holy One, and you know all things.

In "A Testimony of the Touch Stone for all professors, and all forms and gathered Churches, .. to try their ground and foundation by," she directs them to the light of Christ in themselves as a sure guide to holiness. A few extracts are given, to show her manner of treating the subject:

"Now is the light of the glorious gospel risen, and beautiful upon the mountains arc the feet of those who bring glad tidings of this gospel, that publish peace, that say unto Zion, your King reigns. To all who desire to know the way to Zion does this voice cry to turn their faces to the light of Jesus Christ, who came riding upon an asses' colt, to the joy and rejoicing of all Zion's children. Therefore turn again all you who are wandering from mountain to hill, seeking rest but finding none. Turn to the light in every one of your consciences; this is the word of faith which we preach, which Moses taught Israel, and the apostle Paul the Romans, which is near in the mouth, and in the heart. Here is your teacher, if you hearken to the pure light, which shows you the deceit of your hearts and your unclean thoughts, from which proceeds uncleanness which the light makes manifest, which will rip you up and reprove you in secret. The Lord God of life and power is fulfilling His everlasting covenant in this His day, He is writing His law in the heart and putting it in the inward parts, that none need say know the Lord, but all who turn to the measure of God shall know Him, from the least to the greatest of them. And by no other way or name under heaven shall you know the living God, but by this pure light and law written in the heart. Here will you come to witness the Lord to be your God, and your King, and your Law-giver, which all the professions of the World are ignorant of; therefore to this pure measure of God in your inward parts have your minds, that you may come to witness cleansing and purging within, that you may come to see the uncleanness which proceeds out of the heart, which defiles the man. For out of the heart cometh evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false testimony, slanders; these are the things which defile a man.

And now you teachers and professors who look without you, and turn from this, which should cleanse within, how do you suppose that which is without you, should cleanse from this uncleanness within? Let that of God in your conscience see how you can be cleansed by this, when you turn from it. But if you turn to the light which makes these things manifest, and dwell end abide in it, then will you abstain from them, and so come to witness cleansing. For he that walks in the light, as God is in the light, the blood of Jesus cleanses from all sin. And Christ Jesus said, 'A good man out of the good treasure of his heart, brings forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart, brings forth that which is evil; for out of the abundance of his heart his mouth speaks. And why call you me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? Whoever comes to me and hears my sayings, and does them, I will show you to whom he is like; he is like a man which built an house and dug deep, and laid the foundation on a rock, and when the floods arose, the streams beat violently upon the house, and could not shake it, for it was built upon a rock. But he that hears and does not, is like a man that without a foundation built a house upon the earth, against which the streams did beat violently, and immediately it fell, and the fall of that house was great.

Now professors here is your building, eternally you shall witness the parable fulfilled upon you, the tempest and storms are coming, your house will be beaten down, it cannot stand, for you have been sayers a long time and not doers of the word; your house which you have built is without foundation, it is not founded upon the rock Christ Jesus. You who deny the light, He says unto you, 'Why do you call me Lord, and do not the things which I say?' Upon Him shall you be beaten to pieces, and all your profession. It is known and seen, you are made manifest, you cannot hide yourselves.

SWARTHMORE HALL

In the 21st Century, Swarthmore has been restored, and turned into a Bed and Breakfast, particularly catering to members of the Society of Friends, but open to others.

THE following description, of the 1850 state and appearance of Swarthmore Hall, is taken from Armistead's Select Miscellanies:

Swarthmore Hall

 

"The Hall, though still a building of considerable size, is no longer what it once was; a large portion having become ruined has been altogether removed; the oriel window from which George Fox preached to the people in the orchard still remains, and it is believed the owner of the property is bound to accommodate any traveling Friend with a bed. The hospitality of the Friends of Ulverston, however, prevents this right being demanded; and no instance has been known within memory, of any Friend exercising his privilege. The old bedstead bequeathed by George Fox, used to be kept here, and may possibly still remain. The room in which Friends held their meetings for the first forty years, and which were generally graced with the attendance of George or Margaret Fox, and others of the society's parents in Christ, remains in its pristine state, having an indented window, and a raised dais at one end, which served for a minister's gallery. The situation of the Hall is somewhat singular and picturesque. Eastward of it, to the bay of Morecambe, extends a tract of rich open land country, rivaling for beauty, wood and fertility any county in England; the Swarthmore Hall estate formerly comprised much of this. Westward extends the bleak tract of Swarthmore recently enclosed, but still strongly contrasting with the rich pasture of the opposite view. Northward may be discerned the town of Ulverston, and beyond the pointed mountains of Coniston and the Lake district. The immediate neighborhood of the Hall is occupied by an ancient grove of forest trees, partially screening from view the barren common, while at the foot of the orchard is a woody dell, through which a stream murmurs over its pebbly bed.

The meeting-house is a solitary building, a quarter of a mile from the Hall; it is entered in the good old-fashioned way, through a porch, with a bench on each side, and over the door the inscription: Ex dono G. F., 1688 (the gift of George Fox, 1688). It is commonly supposed he used to attend this meeting. Such, however, is not the case; he never sat in it, being in the south of England from its completion until his decease. It was, however, built at his cost, and on land given by him - the only piece of land he ever possessed in England. On entering the passage leading forward from the porch, two black ebony pillars, plain and slender, are seen, one on each side, supporting the ceiling. They are sometimes called George Fox's bed-posts, and rightly so, being the posts of the bedstead mentioned before. It was considered the best way of preserving the two principal posts, as well as bringing them under the notice of strangers, to place them in this situation. Then there are also two massive arm-chairs, of solid oak, adorned with carved work; they belonged to George Fox and his wife, and were removed here from the Hall.

Adjoining the meeting-house is the burial-ground, which is somewhat modern. The old burial-ground lies at Sunbreak, about a mile and a half distant, and is to many a spot of peculiar and intense interest. It is at the edge of a barren moor, the higher part of which consists of naked limestone, and at the highs point of all is the remains of a beacon. About a third of a mile south of this beacon, where the cultivated land begins, is a small enclosure, surrounded with an eight foot wall, and entered by a low, narrow door. This, for about the first seventy years of the society's existence, was the burial-place belonging to Swarthmore meeting.

Here lie the remains of many that bared persecution and suffering for conscience' sake, and so obtained for us the privileges we enjoy. Many valiant men and women in the cause of truth have here been laid, when freed from the troubles of time; among them lie the remains of Margaret Fox, emphatically a mother in Israel, whose sufferings were rendered more poignant from previous affluence, her body imprisoned, and her estate premunired, yet her noble spirit remained unbroken."

 

THE END

 

 


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