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After I had been a little while in London, I wrote the following letter to my wife:
To whom is my love, and to the children, and to all the rest of Friends in the Lord's truth, power, and seed, that is over all; glory to the Lord, and blessed be his name forever beyond all words! He who has carried me through and over many trials and dangers in his eternal power! I have been twice at Gracechurch-street meeting; and though opposite spirits were there, yet all was quiet; the dew of heaven fell upon the people, and the glory of the Lord shined over all. Every day I am pleased to be at meetings about business, and sufferings, which are great abroad; and now many Friends are concerned with the many suffering: so in haste, with my love to you all.
London, the 24th of the 9th month, 1677
About this time I received letters from New England, which gave account of the magistrates' and rulers' cruel and unchristian proceeding against Friends there, whipping and abusing them very shamefully; for they whipped many women Friends. One woman was stripped her to the waist, tied to a cart, and drug along the street.* They even whipped some masters of ships that were not Friends just because they had transported Friends there. At that same time, while they were persecuting Friends in this barbarous manner, the Indians slew sixty of their men, captured one of their captains, and scalped the skin off his head while he was alive, and carried the scalp away in triumph; so that the sober people said, "the judgments of God came upon them for persecuting the Quakers;" but the blind, dark priests said, "it was because they did not persecute them enough." I had great exercise (of prayer) here in seeking relief for poor suffering Friends there that they might not lie under the rod of the wicked.
*This was the Elizabeth Hooton, which incident occurred multiple times, as detailed in her Memoir on this site.
Upon this and other services for truth I stayed in London four to five weeks, visiting meetings and helping and encouraging Friends to labor for the deliverance of their suffering brethren in other parts. Afterwards I went to Kingston, and visited Friends there and in the area. While staying a little while among Friends there, I reviewed a book that was then ready to go to the press. I went into Buckinghamshire visiting Friends; we had several meetings among them at Amersham, Hungerhill, Jordans, Hedgerly, Wickham, and Turvil-heath. In some of meetings were those that had gone out from the unity of Friends in truth, into strife, opposition, and division; they were very unruly and troublesome, particularly at the men's meeting at Thomas Ellwood's in Hungerhill. The leader of these came from Wickham, endeavoring to make disturbance and to hinder Friends from proceeding in the business of the meeting. When I saw their design, I admonished them to be sober and quiet and not trouble the meeting by interrupting the service of it; but rather, if they were dissatisfied with Friends' proceedings, and had any thing to object, let a meeting be appointed some other day to address their objections. So Friends offered to give them a meeting another day; which after long discussion was agreed to be at Thomas Ellwood's the week following. Accordingly Friends met them there, and the meeting was in the barn because so many came that the house could not hold them. After we had sat (in silence waiting on the Lord's presence and power) awhile, they began their arguing. Most of their arrows were shot at me; but the Lord was with me and gave me strength in his power to cast back their darts of envy and falsehood upon themselves. Their objections were answered; things were opened to the people; and it was a good opportunity and serviceable to the truth; many who before had been weak, were now strengthened and confirmed; some that were doubting and wavering were satisfied and settled; and faithful Friends were refreshed and comforted in the springing of life among us; for the power rose, and life sprung, and as it arose, many living testimonies were born against that wicked, dividing, rending spirit, which those in opposition were joined to and acted by; and the meeting ended to the satisfaction of Friends. That night I lodged with other Friends at Thomas Ellwood's; and the same week I had a meeting again with the opposition at Wickham, where they again showed their envy and were thus revealed to the upright in heart.
After I had visited Friends in that upper side of Buckinghamshire, I called at Henley in Oxfordshire and went by Causham to Reading, where I was at meeting on first-day; and in the evening I had a large meeting with Friends. There was another meeting the next day about settling a women's meeting; some of those that had let in the spirit of division fell into arguing and were disorderly for awhile until the weight of truth brought them down. After this I passed on visiting Friends and having meetings in several places through Berkshire and Wiltshire until I came to Bristol, which was on the 24th day of the 11th month, just before the fair.
I stayed at Bristol during the fair and for sometime after. We had many sweet and precious meetings; many Friends were in Bristol from several parts of the nation, some on account of trade and some in the service of truth. Friends that lived faithful in the truth showed great love and unity, though some had gone out of the holy unity and had run into strife, division, and enmity; such were rude and abusive and behaved themselves in a very unchristian manner towards me. But the Lord's power was over all. His power preserved me in the heavenly patience, which can bear injuries for his name's sake; so I felt dominion within it over the rough, rude, and unruly spirits; and left them to the Lord, who knew my innocence and would plead my cause. The more these labored to reproach and vilify me, the more did the love of Friends, who were sincere and upright-hearted, abound towards me. And some that had been betrayed by the adversaries, seeing their envy and rude behavior, broke off from their division; those who ceased the division have cause to bless the Lord for their deliverance.
When I left Bristol, I went with Richard Snead to a house of his in the country, and from there to Hezekiah Coale's at Winterburn in Gloucestershire. Several Friends that were under very great sufferings for truth's sake came there. I had invited these Friends to meet me there. Stephen Smith, Richard Snead, and I drew up a brief of their sufferings, setting forth the illegal proceedings against them. This brief was delivered to the judges at the assizes at Gloucester, and they promised to put a stop to those illegal proceedings. Next day we passed to Sudbury and had a large meeting in the meeting-house, which at that time was of very good service. We went next day to Nathaniel Crips' of Tedbury and from there to Nailsworth; there on first-day we had a large and magnificent meeting. From there we went to the Quarterly Meeting at Finchcomb, where were several of the opposite spirit, who (it was thought), intended to disturb the meeting among Friends; but the Lord's power was over all and kept them down, and we had good service for the Lord at that meeting. We returned from Finchcomb to Nailsworth and had another very precious meeting there, to which Friends came from the several meetings in the area, making it very large also.
We went from Nailsworth the first on 1st day of the first month, 1677, and traveled, visiting Friends, and having many meetings at Currencies, Crown-All ins, Helena, Stoke-Orchard, Treasury, and others. We went to Worcester where I had formerly suffered imprisonment over a year for the truth's sake, and Friends rejoiced greatly to see me there again. I stayed there several days and had many very precious meetings in the city and much service among Friends. After which I had meetings at Pershore and Evesham; next going to Draggle, and Warlocks to visit the lady Conway who I understood was very hopeful of seeing me. I found her very tender and loving, and she wanted me to stay longer than I had freedom to do. About two miles from there I had two meetings at a Friend's house named was John Stanley. William Dewsbury came here and stayed with me about half a day. I visited Friends in their meetings at Stratford, Lamcoat, and Armscott, (from where I was sent prisoner to Worcester in the year 1673), and there passed into Oxfordshire, visiting Friends, and having meetings at Sibbard, North-Newton, Banbury, Adderbury. Then visiting Friends through Buckinghamshire, at Long-Crendon, Ilmer, Mendle, Weston, Cholsberry, Chesham, I came to Isaac Penington's, where I stayed a few days. I then turned into Hertfordshire, visiting and holding meetings with Friends at Charlewood, Watford, Hempstead, and Market-street. In the morning I went from Market-street to Luton, in Bedfordshire to see John Crook, with whom I spent a good part of the day; and then towards evening I went to Alban's, where I stayed at an inn that night. After visiting Friends and holding meetings at South-Mims, Barnet, and Hendon, I came to London the eighth of the third month. It being the fourth-day, I went to Gracechurch-street meeting, which was peaceable and well; many Friends, not knowing I had come to town, were very joyful to see me there, and the Lord was present with us, refreshing us with his living virtue; blessed be his holy name!
The parliament was in session when I came to town; and Friends having laid their sufferings before them, were waiting on them for relief against the laws made against catholic recusants, (those who refuse to acknowledge the supremacy of the king), which they knew we were not; though some malicious magistrates took advantage to prosecute us in several parts of the nation upon those statutes. When I arrived, I joined Friends who were attending that service. There was some probability that something might be obtained towards Friends' ease and relief in that case because many of the parliament members believed that we were maligned by our adversaries and they were very tender and loving towards us. But one morning when I went with George Whitehead to the parliament-house to attend them on Friends' behalf, the laws had been suddenly published, though they lasted only a short time.
About two weeks after I came to London, the Yearly Meeting began; to which Friends came out of most parts of the nation, and we had a glorious heavenly meeting. Oh the glory, majesty, love, life, wisdom and unity, that was among us! The power reigned over all, and many testimonies were borne in the meeting against that ungodly spirit which sought to make rents and divisions among the Lord's people; but not one mouth was opened among us in its defense, or on its behalf. Good and pleasing reports also we had, for the most part, from Friends in other countries; of which I find a brief account in a letter which soon after I wrote to my wife, a copy of which follows:
To whom is my love in the everlasting seed of life, that reigns over all. Great meetings have occurred here and the Lord's power has been stirring through all, the like or which has not been before. The Lord has in his power knit Friends wonderfully together, and his glorious presence did appear among Friends. And now the meetings are over (blessed be the Lord!) in quietness and peace. From Holland I hear that things are well there. Some Friends have gone over there to be at the Yearly Meeting at Amsterdam. At Embden, Friends that were banished have returned to the city again. At Dantzig, Friends are in prison and the magistrates has threatened them with harder imprisonment; but the next day the Lutherans rose, and defaced and pulled down the catholic monastery, so they have work enough to keep order among themselves. The king of Poland received and read my letter, and Friends have since printed it in High Dutch. I hear that Ireland’s Friends are all in love there by letters from their Half-yearly Meeting. At Barbados Friends are quiet, and their meetings are settled in peace. Antigua and Nevis also report that truth prospers, and Friends have their meetings orderly and well. Likewise in New-England and other places things concerning truth and Friends are well. In those places the men's and women's meetings are settled; blessed be the Lord! So keep in God's power and seed that is over all and in whom you all have life and salvation; for the Lord reigns over all, in his glory, and in his kingdom; glory to his name forever. Amen!
So in haste, with my love to you all and to all Friends.
London, the 26th of the 3d month, 1678.
The letter to the king of Poland, before mentioned, is as follows:
To Johannes III king of Poland,
O KING ! We desire your prosperity both in this life and what is to come. And we desire that we may have our christian liberty to serve and worship God under your dominion; for our principle leads us not to do anything prejudicial to the king or his people. We are a people that exercise a good conscience towards God through his holy spirit, and in it do serve, worship, and honor him; and towards men in the things that are equal and just, doing to them as we would have them do unto us; looking unto Jesus, who is the author and finisher of our faith; which faith purifies our hearts, and brings us to have access to God; without which we cannot please him; by which faith all the just live, as the scripture declares. That which we desire of you, O king, is that we may have the liberty of our consciences to serve and worship God; and to pray unto him in our meetings together in the name of Jesus, as he commands; with a promise that he will be in the midst of them who meet. The king, we hope, cannot but say that this duty and service is due to God and Christ; and we give Caesar his due, and pay our tribute and custom equal to our neighbor according to our just share. We have never read in all the scriptures of the New Testament that Christ or his disciples ever banished or imprisoned any that were not of their faith or religion, or would not listen to their pleas, or gave any such command; but, on the contrary, let the weeds and the wheat grow together until the harvest, which harvest is the end of the world. Then Christ will send his angels to sever the wheat from the weeds. He rebuked such as would have had fire from heaven to consume those that would not receive Christ; and told them they did not know of what spirit they were; he said he came not to destroy men's lives, but to save them.
We desire the king to consider how much persecution has been in Christendom, since the apostles' days, concerning religion. Christ said, "They should go into everlasting punishment that did not visit him in prison;" then what will become of them that imprison him in his members, where he is revealed? None can say the world is ended; therefore how will Christendom answer the dreadful and terrible God at his day of judgment, that have persecuted one another about religion before the end of the world, under a pretense of pulling up weeds; which is not their work, but the angels' at the end of the world! Christ commands men to love one another, and to love enemies; and by this they should be known to be his disciples. Oh that all Christendom had lived in peace and unity, that they might by their moderation have judged both Turks and Jews; and let all have their liberty, that own God and Christ Jesus, and walk as becomes the glorious gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Our desires are, that the Lord God of heaven may soften the king's heart to all tender consciences that fear the Lord, and are afraid of disobeying him.
We entreat the king to read some of the noble expressions of several kings, and others, concerning liberty of conscience; and especially Stephanus king of Poland's sayings, that is: "It belongs not to me to reform the consciences; I have always gladly given that over to God which belongs to him; and so shall I do now, and also for the future. I will suffer the weeds to grow until the time of harvest, for I know that the number of believers are but small: therefore," said he, when some were proceeding in persecution, "I am king of the people, not of their consciences." He also affirmed, that "religion was not to be planted with fire and sword."Chron. Liberty of Religion, Part 2.
Also a book wrote in French by W. M. anno 1576, has this sentence, that is: "Those princes that have ruled by gentleness and clemency added to justice, and have exercised moderation and meekness towards their subjects, always prospered and reigned long; but, on the contrary; those princes that have been cruel, unjust, prejudiced, and oppressors of their subjects, have soon fallen, they and their estates, into danger or total ruin.”
Veritus said, "Seeing Christ is a Lamb, whom you profess to be your head and captain, then it requires you to be sheep, and to use the same weapons which he made use of. For he is a shepard of sheep is not a shepherd of wolves and wild beasts. If you lose the nature of sheep," said he, "and be changed into wolves and wild beasts, and use fleshly weapons, then will you exclude yourselves out of his calling, and forsake his banner; and then will not he be your captain."
Also we find it asserted by King James, in his speech to the parliament, in the year 1609, "That it is a pure rule in divinity, that God never planted his church with violence or blood." And further he said, "It was usually the condition of christians to be persecuted, but not to persecute."
King Charles, in his book, page 61, said in his prayer to God, "You sees how much cruelty among christians is acted under the color of religion; as if we could not be christians unless we crucified one another."
Page 28. "Make them at length seriously to consider, that nothing violent nor injurious can be religious."
Page 70. "Nor is it so proper to hew out religious reformation by the sword, as to polish them by fair and equal disputes, among those that are most concerned in the differences, whom not force but reason must convince."
Page 66. "Take heed that outward circumstances and formalities in religion devour not at all."
Pag. 91, 92. "In point of true conscientious tenderness I have so often declared, how little I desire my laws and scepter should entrench on God's sovereignty, who is the only king of conscience."
Pag. 123. "Nor do I desire any man should be further subject unto me, than all of us may be subject unto God."
Page 200. "O you Sovereign of our souls, the only commander of our consciences !"
Page 346. (In his Meditations on Death), "It is indeed a sad estate, to have his enemies to be his accusers, parties, and judges."
'The prince of Orange testified, Anno 1579, "That it was impossible the land should be kept in peace, except there was a free toleration in the of the exercise of religion."
"Where have you read in your day (said Menno) in the writings of the apostles, that Christ or the apostles ever cried out to the magistrates for their power against them that would not hear their doctrine, nor obey their words? I know certainly (said he) that where a magistrate shall banish with the sword, there is not the right knowledge, spiritual word, nor church of Christ; it is, invocare brachium seculare (to invoke the secular arm.")
“It is not christian-like, but tyrannical (said D. Philipson) to banish and persecute people, about faith and religion; and they that do so are certainly of the Pharisaical generation, who resisted the holy ghost."
Erasmus said, "Though they take our monies and goods, they cannot therefore hurt our salvation; they afflict us much with prisons, but they do not thereby separate us from God."-In de Krydges wrede, fol. 63.
Lucernus said, " He that commands anything with which he binds the conscience, this is an antichrist."-In de Bemise Disp. fol. 71.
Irenreus affirmed, "That all forcing of conscience, though it was but a forbidding of the exercise which is esteemed by one or another to be necessary to salvation, is in no wise right nor fitting." He also affirmed, “That through the diversity of religions the kingdom should not be brought into any disturbance."
Constantine the emperor said, "It was enough that he preserved the unity of the faith, that he might be excusable before the judgment-seat of God; and that he would leave everyone to his own understanding, according to the account he will give before the judgment-seat of Christ. Hereto may we stir up people, (said he) not compel them; beseech them to come into the unity of the christians, but to do violence to them, we will not in anywise."-Sebast. Frank. chron. fol. 127.
Augustine said, "Some disturbed the peace of the church, while they went about to root out the weeds before their time; and through this error of blindness are they themselves separated so much the more from being united unto Christ."
Retnaldus testified, "That he, who with imprisoning and persecuting seeks to spread the gospel, and greases his hands with blood, shall much rather be looked upon for a wild hunter, than a preacher or a defender of the christian religion."
"I have for a long season determined (said Henry IV, King of France), in his speech to the parliament, 1599), to reform the church, which without peace I cannot do; and it is impossible to reform or convert people by violence. I am king, as a shepherd, and will not shed the blood of my sheep; but will gather them through the mildness and goodness of a king, and not through the power of tyranny: and I will give them that are of the reformed religion, right liberty to live and dwell free, without being examined, perplexed, molested, or compelled to anything contrary to their consciences; for they shall have the free exercise of their religion," &c. [Vid. ekron. Van de Undergo 2 deel, p. 1514.]
Ennius said, " Wisdom is driven out, when the matter is acted by force. And therefore the best of men, and most glorious of princes, were always ready to give toleration."
Eusebius, in his second book of the life of Constantine, reports these words of the emperor: "Let them which err with joy receive the like fruition of peace and quietness with the faithful, this the restoring of communication and society may bring them into the right way of truth; let none give molestation to any; let everyone do as he determines in his mind. And indeed there is great reason for princes to give toleration to disagreeing persons, whose opinions cannot by fair means be altered; for if the persons be confident, they will serve God according to their persuasions; and if they be publicly prohibited, they will privately convene; and then all those inconveniences and injuries, which are arguments against the permission of dissenter meetings, are arguments for the public permission of differing religions, they being restrained and made resentful, endears the discontented persons mutually, and makes more hearty and dangerous confederations."
"The like council in the divisions of Germany, at the first reformation, was thought reasonable by the emperor Ferdinand and his excellent son Maximilian; for they had observed, that violence did exasperate, was not blessed, unsuccessful, and unreasonable; and therefore they made decrees of toleration."
The duke of Savoy, repenting of his war undertaken for religion against the Piedmontese, promised them toleration; and was as good as his word.
It is remarkable, that until the time of Justinian the emperor, Anno Domini 525, "the Catholics and Novatians had churches indifferently permitted, even in Rome itself."
"And Paul preached the kingdom of God, teaching those things which concerned the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, and no man restricted him; and this he did for the space of two years in his own hired house at Rome, and received all that came to him."
Now, O king, seeing these noble testimonies concerning liberty of conscience of kings, emperors, and others, and the liberty that Paul had at Rome in the days of the heathen emperor, our desire is, that we may have the same liberty at Dantzig to meet together in our own hired houses, which cannot be any prejudice either to the king or the city of Dantzig; for us to meet together to wait upon the Lord, and pray unto him, and to serve and worship him in spirit and truth in our own hired houses, seeing our principle leads us to hurt no man, but to love our enemies, and to pray for them, yes, even them that persecute us. Therefore, O king, consider, and the city of Dantzig, would you not think it hard for others to force you from your religion to another, contrary to your consciences? And if it be so, that you would think it hard to you, then "do unto others as you would have them do unto you," don’t do unto others that you would not have men do unto you; for that is the royal law, which ought to be obeyed. And so in love to your immortal soul, and for your eternal good this is written.
"Blessed be the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy." And remember, O king, Justin Martyr's two apologies to the Roman emperors, in the defense of the persecuted christians, and that notable apology which was written by Tertullian upon the same subject; which are not only for the christian religion, but against all persecution for religion.'
'Dear Peter Hendricks, John Claus, J. Rawlins, and all the rest of Friends in Amsterdam Friesland, and Rotterdam, to whom is my love in the seed of life that is over all:
I received your letter, with a letter from Dantzig; I have written something directed to you addressed to the king of Poland which you may translate into High Dutch, and send it to Friends there, to give it to the king; or you may print it, after it is delivered in manuscript, which may be serviceable to other princes. So in haste, with my love. The Lord God Almighty over all give you dominion in his eternal power, and in it over all preserve you, and keep you to his glory, that you may answer that of God in all people! Amen.
London, the 13th of 9th month, 1677
I continued still in and about London for some weeks, the parliament in session again, and Friends attending to get some redress of our sufferings, which about this time were very great and heavy upon many Friends in many parts of the nation. Friends were being very unduly prosecuted upon the statutes made against popish recusants; though our persecutors could not but know Friends were utterly against popery, having borne testimony against it in word and writing, and suffered under it. But though many of the members of parliament in either house were kind to Friends, and willing to have done something for their ease, yet having much business, they were hindered from doing the good they would, so that the sufferings upon their Friends were continued.
But what added much to the grief and exercise of Friends was, that some, who made profession of the same truth with us, being gone from the simplicity of the gospel into fleshly liberty, and laboring to draw others after them, did oppose the order and discipline which God by his power had set up and established in his church; and made a great noise and clamor against regulations; by which they easily drew after them such as were loosely inclined, and desired a broader way than the path of truth to walk in. Also some of the more simple and young in truth, or weak in judgment, were likely to be betrayed by them, not knowing the depths of satan in these deceptive arguments; for whose sake I was moved to write the following paper, for the undeceiving the deceived, and opening the understandings of the weak in this matter:
All that deny regulations without prescriptions may as well deny all the scriptures, which were given forth by the power and spirit of God. For do they not prescribe how men should walk towards God and man, both in the Old Testament and in the New? Yes, from the very first promise of Christ in Genesis, what people ought to believe and trust in; and all along until you come to the prophets? Did not the Lord prescribe to his people by the fathers and then by his prophets? Did he not prescribe to the people how they should walk, though they turned against the prophets in the old covenant for declaring or prescribing to them the way how they might walk to please God, and keep in favor with him? In the days of Christ, did he not prescribe and teach how people should walk and believe? And after him, did not the apostles prescribe unto people how they might come to believe, and receive the gospel and the kingdom of God, directing unto what would give them the knowledge of God, and how they should walk in the new covenant in the days of the gospel, and by what way they should come to the holy city? And did not the apostles send forth their decrees by faithful chosen men (that had hazarded their lives for Christ's sake), to the churches, by which they were established? So you, that deny prescriptions given forth by the power and spirit of God, do thereby oppose the spirit that gave them forth in all the holy men of God.
Were there not some all along in the days of Moses, in the days of the prophets, in the days of Christ, and in the days of his apostles, who did resist what they issued from the spirit of God? And has there not been similar opposition since the days of the apostles? How many have risen, since truth appeared, to oppose the order which stands in the power and spirit of God? Who are in nothing but the same spirit which has opposed the spirit of God all along from the beginning. See what names or titles the spirit of God gave that opposing spirit in the old covenant, and also in the new; which is the same now; for after the Lord had given forth the old covenant, there were some among them that did oppose; which were worse than public enemies. And likewise in the days of the new covenant, in the gospel times, you may see what sort opposed Christ and the apostles, after they came to some sight of the truth; and how they turned against Christ and his apostles? See what liberty they pleaded for and ran into in the apostles' days, who could not abide the cross, the yoke of Jesus. We see the same rough and high spirit that cries now for liberty (which the power and spirit of Christ cannot give) and cries "imposition," yet is imposing cries, "Liberty of conscience," and yet is opposing liberty of conscience; cries against prescriptions, and yet is prescribing both in words and writing. So with the everlasting power and spirit of God this spirit is fathomed: its rise, beginning, and end; and it is judged. This spirit cries, "We must not judge conscience, we must not judge matters of faith, we must not judge spirits, or religions." Yes, they that are in the pure spirit and power of God, which the apostles were in, judge of conscience, whether it be a seared conscience, or a tender conscience; they judge of faith, whether it be a dead one, or a living one; they judge of religion, whether it be vain, or pure and undefiled; they judge of spirits, and try them, whether they be of God, or not; they judge of hope, whether it be that of hypocrites, or the true hope that purifies, even as God is pure; they judge of belief, whether it be what is born of God, and overcomes the world, or what runs into the spirit of the world, which lusts to envy, and does not overcome the world; they judge of worships, whether they be will-worships, and the worship of the beast and dragon, or the worship of God in spirit and in truth; they judge of angels, whether they are fallen, or those that keep their habitation; they judge the world, that grieves and quenches the spirit, hates the light, turns the grace of God into wantonness, and resists the holy ghost. They judge of the hearts, ears and lips, which are circumcised, and which are uncircumcised. They judge of ministers, apostles, and messengers, whether they are of satan or of Christ. They judge of differences in outward things, in the church or elsewhere; yes, the least member of the church has power to judge of such things, having the one true measure and true weight to weigh things and with which to measure things without respect to persons. This judgment is given, and all these things are done by the same power and spirit the apostles were in. Such also can judge of election and reprobation; and who keep their habitation, and who don’t; who are Jews [with a circumcised heart], and who are of the synagogue of satan [the false Christian sects]; who are in the doctrine of Christ, and who are in the doctrines of devils; who prescribes and declares things from the power and spirit of God, to preserve all in the power and spirit of God, and who prescribes and declares things from a loose spirit, to let all loose from under the yoke of Christ, the power of God, into looseness and liberty. These likewise can judge and discern who brings people into the possession of the gospel of light and life, over death and darkness, and into the truth where the devil cannot get in; and who brings them into the possession of death and darkness, out of the glorious liberty of the gospel, and of Jesus Christ, his faith, truth, spirit, light, and grace. For there is no true liberty but in that; and that liberty answers the grace, the truth, the light, the spirit, the faith, the gospel of Christ in every man and woman, and is the yoke to the contrary in every man and woman. That makes it rage, and swell, and puff up; for that is restless, unruly, out of patience, and ready to curse his God, and that which reigns over him, because it has not its’ will. It works with all subtlety and evasion with its restless spirit, to get in and defile the minds of the simple, and rape the virgin minds. But as they receive the heavenly wisdom, by which all things were made, (which wisdom is above that spirit), through this wisdom they will be preserved over that spirit. And Christ has given judgment to his saints in his church, though he is judge of all; and the saints, in the power and spirit of God, had and have power to judge of words and manners, of lives and conversations, growths, and states, from a child to a father in the truth; and to whom they are a savor of death, and to whom they are a savor of life; and who serve the Lord Jesus Christ, and preach him, and who preach themselves, and serve themselves; and who talk of the light, of faith, of the gospel, of hope, of grace, and preach such things; yet in their works and lives deny them all, and God, and Christ, and preach up liberty, from that in themselves to that in others, which should be under the yoke and cross of Christ, the power of God. So the saints in the power and spirit of Christ can discern and distinguish who serves God and Christ, and who serves him not; and can put a distinction between the profane and the holy. But those who have lost their eye salve, and their sight has grown dim, lose this judgment, discerning, and distinction in the church of Christ; and such come to be spewed out of Christ's mouth, except they repent; and if not, they come to corrupt the earth, and burden it, that it vomits them out of it. Therefore, all are exhorted to keep in the power and spirit of Christ Jesus, in the word of life and the wisdom of God, (which is above what is below), in which they may keep their heavenly understandings and heavenly discernings; and so set the heavenly spiritual judgment over what is for judgment, which dishonors God, which leads into loose and false liberty; out of the unity which stands in the heavenly spirit, which brings to be conformable to the image of the Son of God, and his gospel, the power of God, (which was before the devil was), and his truth, (which the devil is out of), in which all are of one mind, heart, and soul, and come to drink into one spirit, being baptized into one spirit, and so into one body, which Christ is the head of; and so keep one fellowship in the spirit, and unity in the spirit, which is the bond of peace, the Prince of princes' peace. And those who cry so much against judging, and are afraid of judgment, whether they be apostles, professors, or profane, are the most judging with the censorious false spirits and judgment; yet cannot bear the true judgment of the spirit of God, nor stand in his judgment. This has been manifest from the beginning, they having the false measures and the false weights, for none has the true measure and the true weight, but who keep in the light, power, and spirit of Christ. There is a loose spirit that cries for liberty, and against prescriptions, yet is prescribing ways, both by words and writings. The same spirit cries against judging, and would not be judged, yet is judging with a wrong spirit. This is given forth in reproof to that spirit.
London, the 9th of the 4th month, 1678
When I had finished what service I had for the Lord at this time here, I went towards Hertford, visiting Friends and having several meetings in the way. At Hertford I stayed several days with much service for the Lord there, both among Friends in their meetings and in conferences with such as stood in opposition to the order of truth, having let in evil surmisings and jealousies concerning Friends. I also answered some books written against truth and Friends. While I was there, it came upon me to write a few lines, and send them abroad among Friends, as follows:
Let the holy seed of life reign over death and the unholy seed in you all; that in the holy seed of the kingdom you may all feel the everlasting holy peace with God, through Christ Jesus your Savior, and sit down in him, your life and glorious rest, the holy rock and foundation, that stands sure over all from everlasting to everlasting, in whom all the fullness of blessedness is; so that you may glory in him who lives for evermore. Amen! Who is your eternal joy, life, and happiness, through whom you have peace with God. This holy seed bruises the head of the serpent, and will outlive all his wrath, malice, and envy; who was before he and it was, and remains when he and it is gone into the fire that burns with brimstone. The seed Christ will reign; and so will you live, as you live and walk in him, sit down in Christ, and build up one another in the love of God.
Hertford, the l0th of the 5th month, 1678
Next day a fresh exercise came upon me, with respect to those unruly and disorderly spirits which had gone out from us, and were laboring to draw others after them into a false liberty. Feeling the hurt and injury these deceitful spirits might do if they were followed, I was moved to write a few lines to warn Friends of them as follows:
Keep in the tender life of the Lamb over that unruly, puffed up and swelling spirit, whose work is for strife, contention, and division, drawing into looseness and false liberty, under a pretence of conscience, and endangers the ruin of the young in Christ. Those who encourage them will be guilty of their destruction, and establishing a fixed mind set, instead of conscience, in their rage and passion; which will quench the universal spirit in themselves and in every man and woman; and so that spirit shall not have true liberty in themselves, nor in others; thus they shut up the kingdom of heaven in themselves, and also in others. So a loose spirit gets up under a pretense of liberty of conscience, or a stubborn will; it makes profession of the words of truth in a form without power; this pretense will disguise and cover all detachment and wickedness, which is for eternal judgment; for such dishonors God. Therefore keep to the tender spirit of God in all humility, that in it you may know that you are all members of one another, and each has an office in the church of Christ. All these living members know one another in the spirit, and not in the flesh. So here is no man ruling over the woman, as Adam did over Eve in the fall; but Christ, the spiritual man, among and over his spiritual members, which are edified in the heavenly love that is shed in their heart from God, where all strife ceases.
Hertford, the 11th of the 5th month, 1678
I went from Hertford to a meeting at Rabley Heath, and there to Edward Crouch's of Stevenage. Next day I went to Baldock, where I had a meeting that evening, and after had meetings at Hitchin and Ashwell. Then passing through part of Bedfordshire, where I had a meeting or two, I went to Huntingdon, in which county I stayed several days, having many meetings, and much service among Friends; laboring to convince opposers, and to confirm and strengthen Friends in the way and work of the Lord. At Ives in Huntingdonshire, George Whitehead joined me and we traveled in the work of the Lord five or six days in that county and some part of Northamptonshire. Leaving me in Great Bowden in Leicestershire, he went towards Westmoreland. I stayed in Leicestershire, visiting Friends at Saddington, Wigston, Knighton, Leicester, Sileby, Swannington, and various other places. At these places I had very precious meetings and good service among Friends and others: for there was great openness, and many weighty and excellent truths did the Lord give me to deliver among them.
At Leicester I went to the prison to visit the Friends in prison for the testimony of Jesus, with whom I spent some time, encouraging them in the Lord to persevere steadfastly and faithfully in their testimony, and not to be weary of suffering for his sake. And when I had taken my leave of the Friends, I spoke with the jailer, desiring him to be kind to them, and let them have what liberty he could, including visiting their families occasionally.
I had a meeting or two in Warwickshire, and then went into Staffordshire, where I had several sweet and opening meetings, both for gathering into truth and establishing it. While I was in Staffordshire, I was moved to give forth the following paper:
Dear Friends of the Quarterly and Monthly Meetings everywhere,
My desire is, that you may all strive to be of one mind in the Lord's power and truth, which is peaceable (into which strife and enmity cannot come) and also in the wisdom of God, which is pure, peaceable, and easy to be entreated (which is above what is below, that is earthly, devilish, and sensual). And that in this heavenly wisdom that is peaceable, and easy to be entreated, you may be all ordered, and do what you do to God's glory. And dear Friends, if there should happen at any time anything that leads to strife, dispute, or contention in your Monthly or Quarterly Meetings, let it be referred to half a dozen, or such a like number to debate and end out of your meetings, as it was at first, that all your Monthly and Quarterly Meetings may be kept peaceable. And then they may inform the meeting what they have done; that the weak and young among you may not be hurt by listening to the strife or contention in your meetings, where no strife or contention ought to be; but all to go on, and determine things in one mind, in the power of God, the gospel order; in which gospel of peace you will preserve the peace of all your meetings. If any man or woman has any thing against anyone, let them speak to one another, and end it between themselves; if they cannot so end it, let them take two or three to end it. In case these can’t settle it, let it be laid before the church; and let half a dozen, or a proper number out of your Monthly or Quarterly meeting hear it, and finally end it, without respect of persons. Let all prejudice be laid aside and buried; also all shortness one towards another; and let love, which is not puffed up, envies not, seeks not its own gain, but bears all things, have the dominion in all your meetings; for that edifies the body which Christ is the head of, and this will rule over all sounding brass and tinkling cymbals. This love will suffer long, and is kind; will keep down what would boast of itself, be puffed up, behave itself unseemly, or is easily provoked; it has a sway over all such fruits which are not of the spirit, the fruit of which is love. And that with this holy spirit you may all be baptized into one body, and be made to drink into one spirit; in which spirit you will have unity, in which is the bond of the King of kings and the Lord of lords, his peace. Those, who dwell in love, dwell in God, for God is love; therefore let every one keep his habitation.
My love to you in Christ Jesus, the everlasting seed, which is over all,
Staffordshire, the 20th of the 6th month, 1678
Out of Staffordshire I went to visit John Gratton at Moniash in Derbyshire, with whom I stayed one night, and went next day to William Shaw's, of the hill in Yorkshire, where I appointed a meeting to be on first-day following. Many Friends out of Derbyshire, and from several meetings in Yorkshire came, and a precious, comfortable meeting it was; where was opened the blessed estate that man was in before he fell; the means by which he fell, the miserable condition into which he fell, and the right way of coming out of it into a happy state again by Christ, the promised seed.
I spent about two weeks in Yorkshire, and many heavenly meetings I had in that county. Then visiting Robert Widdel's at Kellet in Lancashire, I passed to Arnside in Westmoreland, where I had a precious living meeting in the Lord's blessed power, to the great satisfaction and comfort of Friends, who came from various parts to it. The next day I went to Swarthmore; and it being the meeting-day there, I had a sweet opportunity with Friends; our hearts being opened in the love of God, and his blessed life flowing among us.
I had not been long at Swarthmore before a concern came upon me to visit the churches of Christ, by an epistle as follow:
To you is my love in the heavenly seed, in whom all nations are blessed. Oh, keep all in this seed, in which you are blessed, and in which Abraham and all the faithful were blessed, without the deeds of the law: for the promise was and is to and with the seed, and not with the law of the first covenant. In this seed all nations and you are blessed, which bruises the head of the seed that brought the curse, and separated man from God. This is the seed which reconciles you to God; and this is the seed in which you are blessed both materially and spiritually; through which you have an inheritance among the sanctified, who cannot be defiled, neither can any defiled thing enter into its possession; for all defilements are out of this seed. This is what leavens into a new lump, and bruises the head of the wicked seed that leavens into the old lump, upon whom the sun of righteousness goes down and sets, but never goes down and sets to them that walk in the seed in which all nations are blessed; by which seed they are brought up to God, which puts down that seed which separated them from God, so that there comes to be nothing between them and God. Now all my dear Friends, my desires are, that you may all be valiant in this heavenly seed for God and his truth upon the earth, and spread it abroad, answering that of God in all; that with it the minds of people may be turned towards the Lord, that he may come to be known, served, and worshipped, and that you may all be as the salt of the earth, to make the unseasoned savory. And in the name of Jesus keep your meetings, who are gathered into it, in whose name you have salvation; he being in the midst of you, whose name is above every name under the whole heaven. So you have a prophet, bishop, shepherd, priest, and counselor (above all the counselors, priests, bishops, prophets, and shepherds under the whole heaven), to exercise his offices among you, in your meetings, gathered in his name. For Christ's meeting and gathering is above all the meetings and gatherings under the whole heaven; and his body, his church, and he the head of it, is above all the bodies, churches, and heads under the whole heaven. And the faith that Christ is the author of, and the worship that he has set up, and his fellowship in the gospel, is above all historical faiths, and the faiths that men have made, together with their worships and fellowships under the whole heaven. And now dear friends, keep your men's and women's meetings in the power of God, the gospel, the authority of them, which brings life and immortality to light in you; and this gospel, the power of God, will preserve you in life and in immortality (which has brought it to light in you), that you may see over him that has darkened and kept from the knowledge of the things of God; for it is he and his instruments (which has darkened you from life and immortality), that would throw down your men's and women's meetings (which were set up in the power of God, the gospel), and would darken you again from this life and immortality which the gospel has brought to light, and will preserve you there, as your faith stands in this power of God, the gospel, in which everyone sees your work and service for God. Every heir in the power of God, the gospel, has right to this authority, which is not of man nor by man; which gospel the power of God, is everlasting, an everlasting order, an everlasting fellowship; and in the gospel is everlasting joy, comfort, and peace, which will outlast all those joys, comforts, and peace that will have an end, and also the spirit that opposes God’s order and glorious fellowship and the peace and comfort in it. And my dear friends, my desire is, that you may keep in the unity of the spirit, that baptizes you all into one body, of which Christ is the heavenly and spiritual head. So that you may see and bear witness to our heavenly and spiritual head, and so all drink into the one spirit, which all people on the earth are not likely to do, while they grieve, quench, and rebel against it, nor to be baptized into one body, and to keep the unity of the spirit, which is the bond of peace, yes the King of kings and Lord of lords' peace; which is the duty of all true christians to keep, who are inwardly united to Christ.
My love to you all in the everlasting seed,
Swarthmore, the 26th of the 7th month, 1678
There were about this time several Friends in prison for bearing testimony to the truth; to whom I was moved to write a few lines to comfort, strengthen, and encourage them; having a true sense of their sufferings upon my spirit, and a sympathizing with them within. That which I wrote was after this manner:
My Dear Friends,
Who are sufferers for the Lord Jesus' sake, and for the testimony of his truth, the Lord God Almighty with his power uphold and support you in all your trials and sufferings, and give you patience and content in his will that you may stand valiant for Christ and his truth upon the earth, over the persecuting and destroying spirit, which makes to suffer in Christ, (who bruises the head), in whom you have both election and salvation. For his elect's sake the Lord has done much since the foundation of the world, as may be seen throughout the scriptures of truth. They that touch them touch the apple of God's eye, they are so tender to him; and therefore it is good for his suffering children to trust in the Lord, and to wait upon him; for they shall be as mount Zion, that cannot be removed from Christ their rock and salvation, the foundation of all the elect of God, of the prophets and apostles, and of God's people now and to the end; glory to the Lord and the Lamb over all! Remember my dear love to all Friends, and do not think the time long; for all time is in the Father's hand, his power. Therefore keep the word of patience, and exercise that gift. The Lord strengthen you in your sufferings, in his holy spirit of faith. Amen.
Swarthmore, the 5th of the 12th month, 1678