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The fourth-day following, it was upon me to go to Gracechurch-street meeting again; for I had heard they would come to break up the meeting that day. The neighbors appeared to have been informed; a justice had granted a warrant for that purpose; and the constable told a Friend that Hilton the informer had told him about the meeting. The constable wanted the informer to come to the meeting with him, but the informer refused and told the constable to go without him. I don’t know if his refusal to come angered the constable or not; but he did not come. I was in a deep concern of spirit in the power of God, and was moved in it to go to the meeting; and the Lord's power chained everyone down. Though they threatened to bring the redcoats, none of them came, and there was no disturbance; but a glorious powerful meeting it was, and very peaceable; glory, honor, and praises be to the Lord over all forever. Amen!
During the time I that I stayed in London, as I had leisure between meetings and from other public services, I wrote many books and papers; some of which were printed, and others were spread about in manuscript. Of these, one was directed, "To the bishops and others that stirred up persecution;" to show them from the Holy Scriptures, that they did not walk therein according to the royal law, 'To love their neighbor as themselves, and to do to others as they would be done unto."' Another was, "To all the several sorts of professed Christians, as well Protestants as Papists, whose religion and worship stands in outward observances and ceremonies; pressing them from those words of the apostle Paul to the Galatians 5:2-4. 'Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if you are circumcised (in hopes of attaining salvation), Christ shall profit you nothing. For I testify again to every man that is circumcised (as a means to attain salvation), that he is a debtor to the whole law. Christ’s coming and sacrifice has no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; you are fallen from grace,' to consider, whether they, being gone back into legal observations and shadowy ceremonies, (in upholding tithes, offerings, first-fruits, priests' garments, outward altars, temples, lamps, lights, etc., and in observing days, months, times, years, with many other things commanded by the law), were not gone into the same state that the Galatians were running into; and so were fallen from grace, and become debtors to the whole law." Another was, "To direct and turn all people to the spirit of God, that they might thereby receive a right understanding, and be able to distinguish between right and wrong truth and error; that under pretence of punishing evildoers, they might not themselves do evil in persecuting the righteous." The letter is here inserted:
The spirit of God, which he has poured upon everyone, gives an understanding to all that are led by it; and to those who do not quench the motions of it, it gives knowledge and understanding to distinguish good from evil, light from darkness, Christ from antichrist, the old testament or covenant from the new, the old way from the new and living way; the sheep and lambs from the goats and wolves; the worship of God, which Christ set up above sixteen hundred years ago, from the dragon's and beast's worship; and all those that worship the works of men's hands, and the will-worshippers, from those who worship God in his spirit and in his truth, in which God's people worship him; which worship is over all false worships and worshippers. Those who believe in the light, which is the life in Christ, become the children of light, and are the lambs of Jesus. These lambs follow the Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world; they will not follow the hirelings, nor the strangers, to be led into strange ways, doctrines, religions and churches; for the lambs of Christ follow Christ the Lamb of God, and know his heavenly voice. They know also, that those who are without Christ are dogs and wolves, adulterers, idolaters, liars, and unbelievers, who would devour the lambs; but these are in the hand of the Lord, which is his power, that is over all; such do good in his power unto all; for they have the mind of Christ, who would have all come to the knowledge of the truth, and be saved. Those that do good to all, do hurt to none; for that spirit that hurts anyone is not of God; but that spirit, which does good to everyone, and especially to the household of faith, is of God. Christ came not to destroy men's lives, but to save them. It is the devil that is the destroyer of men's lives about religion, who corrupts men and women making them deaf and blind to the things of God and turning out of God's way. Those that obey the evil one and forsake the Lord are the destroyed by the destroyer; but Christ destroys that destroyer, and in Christ all have life.
I wrote also concerning meditation, delight, exercise, and study; showing from the scriptures of truth what true Christians ought to meditate upon, exercise their minds and take delight in, and what they should study to do. For not only do profane and loose people taking delight in earthly, fading, perishing things; but even great professors of religion take delight in the same when they should meditate on heavenly things, delight in the law of God after the inward man, and conduct themselves to always have a 'conscience void of offence towards God and towards men,' as the apostle Paul did.
From Quaker British Records, regarding persuecutions in Bristol, England in 1682:
On the 7th of the month called July, they dispersed the meeting which then consisted chiefly of children; for the men and women being generally in prison, the children kept up their meetings regularly, and with a remarkable gravity and composure: it was surprising to see the manly courage and constancy with which some of the boys behaved on this occasion, keeping close to meetings in the absence of their parents, and undergoing on that account many abuses with patience... On the 30th, in the afternoon, about fifty-five were at the meeting, when Helliar, with a twisted whalebone-stock, beat many of them unmercifully, striking them violent blows on their heads, necks and faces, few of them escaping without some marks of his fury...
He also [on 13 August] sent eleven boys and four girls to Bridewell, [the local jail] till a Friend engaged for their appearance next day before the deputy mayor, who endeavored both by persuasions and threats to make them promise to come to no more meetings; but the children in that respect were unmovable. Therefore they were sent to Bridewell again, Helliar, to terrify them, charging the keeper to provide a new cat of ninetails against next morning. Next day at the Tolzey he urged the justices to have them corrected, but could not prevail. The boys and girls were mostly from ten to twelve years of age. Their names were Samuel Gibbon, William Miller, Joseph James, Elias Osborne, Tabitha Jones, Jonathan Jones, William Fry, Joseph Watkins, Rachel Mears, William Day, Samuel Watkins, James Randy, Martha Watkins, Martha James and James Wheeler.
As sufferings continued very sore and heavy upon Friends not only in the city, but in most parts of the nation, I drew up a paper to be presented to the king; setting forth our grievances, and desiring redress from him in those particular cases which I understood were in his power. But not having relief from him, it came upon me to write an epistle to Friends, to encourage them in their sufferings that they might bear with patience the many exercises brought upon them, both by magistrates and false brethren and apostates; whose wicked books and filthy slanders grieved the upright-hearted. When I went to visit an ancient Friend at Dalston that lay sick, I wrote this epistle.
Friends and brethren in Christ Jesus, whom the Lord has called and gathered into himself, in him abide; for without him you can do nothing, and through him you can do all things. He is your strength and support in all your trials, temptations, imprisonments, and sufferings. For Christ's sake you are accounted as sheep for the slaughter; in all these things we are more than conquerors, through Christ who has loved us. Therefore, Friends, though you suffer by the outward powers, you know that the prophets, Christ, and the apostles, suffered by the unconverted. And though you suffer by false brethren and apostates for a time, and by their filthy books and tongues, whose tongues indeed are become to slander; let them speak, write, or print what they will; for the sober people even of the world hardly regard it. It is well they have exposed themselves to the world, that their folly may proceed no farther; though to the utmost of their power they have showed their wicked intent to stir up the magistrates, professors, and wicked against us, and to speak evil of the way of truth. God's judgments will overtake them, as sure as they have come upon those that are gone before them. Let their pretense be ever so high, mark their end; for they will fall like untimely figs, and wither like the grass planted on the roof of the house. Though they may seem to flourish, and make a boast and a noise for a time, yet the seed is on their heads and will grind them to powder; the same seed that crushes the serpent's head. Therefore in this seed, Christ, who is your sanctuary, rest, peace, and quiet habitation, who is the first and the last, and over all, in him walk; for the Lord takes pleasure in his faithful people that serve and worship him. Therefore let the saints be joyful in glory; and the God of peace, that the God of all grace, who has called us into his eternal glory by Jesus Christ, after that you have suffered awhile, make you perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. Cast all your care upon the Lord, for he cares for you. And dearly beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery ordeal that is to try you, as though some strange thing had happened to you: for it is better, if the will of God be so, that you suffer for well-doing than for evil-doing; and rejoice that you are sharers of Christ's sufferings. Therefore let them that suffer according to the will of God, commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as to a faithful Creator. For you are not only given the gift of belief in Christ, but also you are given the gift of suffering for his sake. So it is given, or is a gift from Christ to suffer for his name; and therefore rejoice, for you are sharers of Christ's sufferings. If you are spoken of with contempt or evil for the name of Christ, be happy for the spirit of glory and of God rests upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. Therefore if any suffer as Christians, let them not be ashamed, but glorify God on this behalf. Though now for a season you are in sufferings, trials, and temptations; the trial of your faith is much more precious than that of gold which perishes, though it be tried with fire; may your trial result in praise, honor, and glory as you are kept by the power of God through faith, unto salvation. Therefore mind your keeper, wherever you are, or whatever sufferings you are in; and mind the example of the apostle, how he suffered trouble as an evildoer including imprisonment. But the word of God is not bound, which is everlasting and endures forever; and they who are in what is not everlasting and does not endure forever, cannot bind the word. The apostle said, "I endure all things for the elect's sake; that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory. (Mark, with eternal glory.) And if we suffer with Christ we shall reign with Christ, who remain faithful." Therefore don’t join unprofitable conversations, avoiding impure and chatter spoken from pride (godless chatter), for they will increase your ungodliness; avoid such so that you may be vessels of honor, sanctified and suitable for Christ your master's use, and prepared for every good work. Follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, and meekness. Fight the good fight of faith with your heavenly weapons; which faith is victory (or gives victory) by which you seize eternal life, and have access to God, "who will give to every man according to his deeds: to them who patiently continue in well-doing, seek for glory and honor, immortality and eternal life; but unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish upon every soul of man that does evil; but glory, honor and peace to every man that works good." Christ said to his disciples, "If the world hates you, you know that it hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you." And, "If they have persecuted me they will also persecute you." And John in his general epistle to the church said, "Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren." And Christ in his prayer to his Father, said of his followers, "As you have sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world; and the glory which you gave me I have given them, that they may be one, even as we are one." Therefore all you that know God and Jesus Christ (whom to know is eternal life) and are partakers of his glory, keep the testimony of Jesus, and be valiant for his truth upon earth, that you may be all settled upon Christ, the rock and foundation.
Dalston, the 3d of the 8th month, 1682
I made only a little stay at Dalston, but returned to London, where I stayed for most of the winter; laboring in the service of truth among Friends, except for a little while at Kingston, in the tenth month of this year, where I wrote a book, setting forth 'The state of the fleshly birth, and the spiritual birth; and the duty and state of a child, youth, young men, aged men and fathers in the truth.” But I did not stay long at Kingston; for the intense persecution still continued, and I felt my service was most required in London where our meetings were mostly disturbed and broken up; forcing Friends to meet outdoors because they were kept out of their meeting-houses by the officers. Yet to our surprise, we sometimes had a quiet and peaceable meeting in the houses. One time I had decided to visit a friend that was a couple of miles out of town who was not well; however, hearing that the king had sent to the mayor to put the laws in execution against dissenters, and that the magistrates then intended to nail up the meeting-house doors, I did not have the freedom to go out of town; but was moved to go to the meeting at Gracechurch-street. Despite all their threats, a quiet and large meeting took place, and the glory of the Lord shone over all.
The same week I went to the meeting at the Peel in John's street, and the court sessions were held the same day at Hicks' hall. I went in the morning; and since William Mead was scheduled to appear at the court sessions for not going to the steeple-house worship, he came once or twice from Hicks' hall to me at the Peel; which some ill-minded people observing, went and informed the justices at the bench that he had gone to a meeting at the Peel. Upon which they sent a messenger to see if there was a meeting; but this being in the late morning, there was no meeting. So the messenger went back and told them. Then others informed the justices that there would be a meeting there in the afternoon; at which point they sent for the chief constable and asked him,'Why he allowed a meeting to be at the Peel, so near to him?' He told them, ‘he did not know of any meeting there.' They asked him, 'how he could not know about it living so near it?' He said, 'he had never been there in his life, and had no knowledge of a meeting there.' They tried to convince him that he had to know; but he maintained his denial, and they said, 'they would order it brought up again in the afternoon.' But after they had dealt with many other matters of the sessions, when dinner-time came, they hastened to their dinner, without giving order, and when they came to the bench again after dinner, the Lord put it out of their minds, so the meeting was quiet, beginning and ending in peace; and a blessed meeting we had, the Lord's presence being preciously among us. When Friends saw me coming into the meeting, many were worried that I would be arrested; but before I went, I resolved in my mind that if it was the Lord's will, I was ready to be arrested and to suffer, for I had nothing on my mind concerning it but the Lord's glory. I believe that the Lord put it out of their minds so that they would not order our meeting to be broken up that day. Yet the first-day after, three or four justices (as I heard) came to the Peel and ejected Friends out of their meeting-house, and kept them out. The also asked for William Mead, but he was not there.
That day I was moved to go to Gracechurch-street meeting; and it was expected that the officers would come to break up the meeting or keep Friends out; and many hundreds of people came to see what would be done to us. But the officers did not come; so we were in peace and quietness; and many of the people that came to look on, stayed all the time; and a glorious, precious meeting we had, for the Lord's presence was plentifully among us, and his power came over all; glory to his name forever, who is over all!
I had seen the mayor's printed speech for putting the laws in execution against dissenters; and I thought we should draw up a paper to send to the mayor and aldermen, to clear ourselves from being such as those laws were made against; and to set forth our peaceable behavior both towards the king and the government. Accordingly a paper was drawn up, signed, and delivered to the mayor; and copies delivered to the aldermen, and the bishop of London who generally took it kindly, and were civil to the Friends that delivered it.
About this time I was moved to write the few lines following to Friends:
Dear Friends, Feel the power of God in you all, and over all, and by it let your hearts be united to one another, and to the Lord God, who has gathered you himself by his power and spirit, to be a people to serve and worship him. So you may all strive to excel one another in virtue, and in that love that bears all things, and edifies the body of Christ, the body of the second Adam. For the body of old Adam in the fall is full of malice, envy, and vice. Therefore you who are called out of old Adam in the fall, and have put on Christ the second Adam that never fell, walk in him, the treasure of life, wisdom, and knowledge, in whom you have peace with God, who is the first and last, the beginning and the ending. So let all be gathered up to God, into him who reconciles all things in one, both things in heaven and things on earth; who is the faithful and true witness in male and female. In him sit down, who is above the subtle foxes in their holes, and the fowls of the air in their nests; I say, sit down in Christ, who has no place among them to lay his head; he is your rest. So in him is my love to you all.
London, the 20th of the 11th month, 1682
Not long after I received an account by letter, from some Friends that were prisoners at Denbigh in Wales, that many Friends there were under great sufferings for the testimony of a good conscience. In the tender sense whereof I was moved in the love of God to visit them with a few lines, as a word of consolation to them in their sufferings; and of exhortation, to stand fast in the testimony committed to them, after this manner:
Dear suffering lambs for the name and command of Jesus! Be valiant for his truth, and faithful, and you will feel the presence of Christ with you. Look at him who suffered for you, has bought you, and will feed you, who said, "be of good cheer, I have overcome the world:" who destroys the devil and his works, and bruises the serpent's head. I say, look at Christ your sanctuary, in whom you have rest and peace. To you it is given not only to believe, but to suffer for his name's sake. They that will live godly in Christ Jesus, shall suffer persecution by the ungodly professors of Christ Jesus, who live out of him. Therefore, be valiant for God's truth upon the earth, and look above that spirit that makes you suffer, up to Christ, who was before it was, and will be, when it is gone. Consider all the prophets, Christ, and the apostles, who suffered and were persecuted; but they were never persecuted as true men, but as deceivers, and yet they were true. Christ is the same today as yesterday, a rock and foundation for your age and generation, for you to build upon. I have written concerning you (after I heard your letter), to Friends in Cheshire to visit you, understanding that you belong to their Quarterly Meeting. I desire some Friends of your county to go and lay your suffering condition before the Monthly or Quarterly Meeting in Cheshire. I have written likewise to Richard Davis, that some of that side may go and visit you and see how your condition is.
My love is to you in the Lord, who alone is your support.
London, the 27th of the 11th month, 1682
Because the many of the magistrates were unwilling to have fines laid upon meeting-houses, they kept Friends out in many places, setting officers and guards of soldiers at the doors and passages; yet sometimes Friends were fined for speaking or praying, though it was done outside the meeting house. One first-day it was upon me to go to Devonshire-house meeting in the afternoon; and because I had heard Friends were kept out there that morning, (as they were that day at most meetings about the city), I went somewhat the sooner, and got into the yard, before the soldiers came to guard the passages; but the constables had gotten there before me and stood in the door-way with their staves. I asked them to let me go in; they said 'they could not and dared not because they were commanded to stop us and were sorry for it.' I told them, I would not oppose them; so I stood by, and they were very civil. I stood until I became weary; then one gave me a stool to sit down on; and after awhile the power of the Lord began to spring up among Friends, and one began to speak. The constables soon commanded him to stop and said he should not speak. When he didn't stop, they began to be angry. But I gently laid my hand upon one of the constables, and asked him to let him alone. The constable relented and became quiet; and the Friend did not speak much longer. After he was finished, I was moved to stand up and speak; and in my declaration said, ‘there was no need for them to come against us with swords and staves; for we were a peaceable people, and had nothing in our hearts but good will to the king and magistrates, and to all people upon the earth. We did not "meet under pretense of religion to plot and plan against the government, or to raise insurrections;" but to worship God in spirit and in truth. We had Christ as our bishop, priest, and shepherd, to feed us and oversee us, and he ruled in our hearts; so we could all sit in silence, enjoying our teacher. So to Christ their bishop and shepherd, I recommended them all. I sat down and after awhile was moved to pray, and the power of the Lord was over all; and the people including the constables and soldiers took off their hats. When the meeting was done and Friends began to leave, the constable took off his hat and asked the Lord to bless us; for the power of the Lord was over him and the people.
After this I went around the area, visiting Friends at their houses who had their personal property seized for worshipping God. We took an account of what had been taken from them. Some Friends met together about it and drew up the case of the sufferings of our Friends in writing, and gave it to the justices at their petty sessions. Which resulted in them issuing an order, ‘that the officers should not sell the personal property of Friends which they had in their hands, but keep them until the next sessions;’ which gave some discouragement to the informers, and put a little stop to their proceedings.
The next first-day it was upon me to go to the meeting at the Savoy; and by that time it was gathered, the court server came in; and after him the wild people, like a sea; but the Lord's power chained them all. The spirit of the Lord went through and over all, and they were quiet, and we had a glorious, peaceable meeting; blessed be the Lord for his unspeakable goodness! This was in the twelfth month, 1682.
In the first month, 1683, I went to Kingston upon Thames. As I went to the meeting, I met the chief constable who had been at the meeting-place, and had set watchmen to keep us out; yet he was pretty civil, and the watchmen let Friends have a couple of benches out, to sit upon in the highway; so Friends met together there, and a very precious meeting we had; for the refreshing presence of the Lord was with us, in which we parted in peace.
Having visited and encouraged Friends there, I returned to London and went to the meeting at Bull and Mouth, where the constables with their watchmen kept a guard to keep Friends out of the house. So we met in the street; and when any Friend spoke, the officers and watchmen made a great show to pull him down and take him into custody. After some other Friends had spoken, it was upon me to speak. I said, ‘heaven is God's throne, and earth is his footstool; and will you not let us stand upon God's footstool to worship and serve the living God?' While I spoke, they were quiet; and after I had finished what I felt moved to say, we broke up our meeting in peace. This was on the sixth day of the week.
On the first-day following I was moved to go to the meeting at Gracechurch-street. When I came there, I found a guard set at the entrance on Lombard-street, and another at the gate in Gracechurch-street, to keep Friends out of the meeting-place; so we were forced, but happy, to meet in the street. After some time I stood up on a chair and spoke extensively to the people 'opening the principles of truth to them, and declaring many weighty truths concerning magistracy, and the Lord's prayer.' Besides the Friends was a great multitude of people, and all was very quiet; for the Lord's power was over all, and in his time we broke up our meeting and departed in peace.
Next day I went to Guildford in Surrey; and having visited Friends there, passed to Worminghurst in Sussex where I had a very blessed meeting among Friends, free from disturbance. While I was there, James Claypole of London, (who was there with his wife), was suddenly taken very ill with so violent a kidney stone attack so that he could neither stand or lie down; and with extreme pain cried out like a woman in childbirth. When I heard it, I was much grieving in spirit for him and went to him. After I had spoken a few words to him to turn his mind inward, I was moved to lay my hand upon him and prayed the Lord to rebuke his infirmity. As I laid my hand on him, the Lord's power went through him; and by faith in that power his pain eased quickly and he soon fell into a sleep. When he awoke, the stone passed from him like dirt; and he was so well, that the next day he rode with me twenty five miles in a coach, though each previous kidney stone attacks forced him to bed for two to four weeks at a time. But the Lord was solicited for him, and by his power, he soon gave James ease at this time; blessed and praised be his holy name therefore!
After I had had some meetings in Sussex and Surrey, and visited Friends in the area, I returned to London by Kingston, where I had a meeting on the first day of the second month, being first-day. We were kept out of the meeting-house by a constable and watchmen, so were forced but happy to meet in the highway. Since it was the Monthly Meeting day and many people had come, the meeting was pretty large and very quiet; and the Lord's' blessed presence was among us; blessed be his name forever!
Arriving back in London, I went to the meeting at Wheeler-street near Spitalfields, which that day proved very large, and a glorious blessed meeting it was; for the Lord's power and truth was over all, and many deep and weighty things were opened to the people to their great satisfaction.
I stayed in and near London, visiting meetings, and laboring in the service of the gospel, until the Yearly Meeting, which began the 28th of the third month. It was a time of great sufferings, and I was very concerned that Friends coming up from the country to the church’s service might be arrested and imprisoned in London. But the Lord was with us, his power preserved us, and it gave us a sweet and blessed opportunity to wait upon him, and be refreshed together in him, and to perform those services for his truth and people with which we met. Afterwards was a time of great persecution, and we understood that in some counties Friends were under great sufferings either by imprisonment or seizure of personal property, or both. A concern was weightily upon me, for fear that Friends, especially traders and dealers in the world, might be at risk to the loss of other men's goods or estates through their sufferings. As a result of this being opened in me, I drew an epistle of caution to Friends in that case, which I communicated to the Yearly Meeting; and from there it was sent among Friends throughout the nation; a copy of which here follows:
Dear Friends and Brethren in the Lord Jesus Christ,
Who is your only sanctuary in this day of storm and persecution, seizures of personal property, and imprisonments! Let everyone's eye be unto him, who has all power in heaven and earth given unto him; so that none can touch a hair of your head, or you, or any thing you have except it is permitted or allowed in this day to try his people, whether their minds are with the Lord or in outward things. Dear Friends take care that all your offerings be free from lien or obligation, and your own, that you have fully paid for, so that you may not offer what is another man's, or that with which you are entrusted, (and not your own), or orphan’s or widow’s estates; but all such things settle and establish in their places. You may remember many years ago, in a time of great persecution, many Friends who were traders, shopkeepers, and others, had the concerns of widows and orphans and other people's estates in their hands. And when a great suffering, persecution, and seizure of goods came upon Friends, special care was taken that the only thing offered up to the Lord in their sufferings was really their own, and not any other people's estates or goods which they had in their hands; and that they might not offer up anybody else’s, but only what they had bought and paid for, or were able to pay for. Afterwards several letters came out of the country to the meeting at London, from Friends that had the goods of the shopkeepers at London upon credit, which they had not paid for; who wrote to their creditors, asking them to take their goods back again. And some Friends came to London themselves, and spoke with their creditors, letting them understand, "They were liable to have everything in their possession seized;" and told them, "They would not have any man to suffer because of them; neither would they by suffering offer up anything except what was really their own, or what they were able to pay for." Upon which several took their goods again. This created a very good reputation of Friends in the hearts of many people, when they saw such a righteous, just, and honest principle that would not make any suffer for their testimony; but what they did suffer for the testimony of Jesus should really and truly be their own, not other people's. In this they owed nothing to anyone but love. So in this every man and woman stands in the free offering, a free people, whether it be spiritual or material which is their own; and in that they wrong no man, neither inwardly nor outwardly. Ornan said unto David, "I give you the threshing-floor,…. and the oxen for burnt offerings; and the threshing instruments for wood, and the wheat for the meat offering, I give it all." But king David said unto Ornan, "No, but I will in truth buy it for the full price; for I will not take what is yours for the Lord, nor offer burnt offerings without cost.” 1 Chr 21:24. So any offering had to be what David owned, and so should it be every man’s offering that offers. You may see here, that David would not accept of another man's gift for an offering to the Lord; he would not offer up that which cost him nothing, but what should be really his own. Psalm 112:5. "A good man will guide his affairs with discretion."
Let this be read in your Monthly and Quarterly men's and women Meetings.
London the 2d of the 4th month, 1683
Some time after the Yearly Meeting I went to Kingston by the river Thames to visit Friends; and while I was there, it came upon me to write the following epistle to Friends in general, as a salutation of love, and to stir up the pure mind in them.
Dear Friends and Brethren,
Who are turned from darkness to light, and from the power of satan to God, who are believers in the light, which is the life in Christ, and are become children of the light and of the day, grafted into Christ, the second Adam, the Lord from heaven, and are gathered in the name of Jesus, in whom you have salvation, and not in any other name under the whole heaven. For Christ Jesus said, "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." Mat 18:20. So you being gathered in the name of Jesus, he is in the midst of you, a Savior, a mediator, a prophet, a shepherd, a bishop, a leader, a counselor, the captain of your salvation, who bruises the serpent's head, and destroys the devil and his works. Therefore, brethren in Christ Jesus, exhort one another daily, while it is called today, for fear that any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For you are made partakers of Christ, if you hold fast the beginning of your confidence steadfast to the end. Hbr 3:14. Therefore, hear Christ's voice; for he is in the midst of you as a teacher. Take heed to prevent in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God, as there is in too many in this day of provocation and temptation. While it is today, hear his voice, and let us consider how to encourage and exhort each other to love and doing good works. Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering, (for he is faithful that has promised, and has called you). Do not stop meeting together with fellow believers, as is the manner of some,” mark, "as is the manner of some," that did and do neglect meeting together; but exhort each other and increase exhorting even more as you see the day of light appearing. For if we willfully sin after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful dread of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. Heb 10:24-27. Therefore it is good not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together, but exhort one another daily; for Christ is in the midst of his people a teacher and a prophet, who said, “Learn of me, the way, the truth, and the life." We being many individuals are but one body in Christ, gathered in his name; and everyone members one of another. Having then gifts, differing according to the grace that is given us, if it is prophecy, then let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; and let those that minister serve those in their care; those that are teachers on their teaching; and he that exhorts encourage and persuade; he that gives, let him do it with simplicity and quietly; and he that rules, with diligence; and he that shows mercy, is to do it with cheerfulness. Abhor what is evil; cleave to what is good. Be kindly and affectionate to one another, with brotherly love, in honor deferring to one another. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulations, "be not overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good;" and if it be possible, as much as you are capable, "be at peace with all men;" Rom 12. This is and was the practice of the church of Christ. And now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope through the power of the Holy Ghost. I myself also am persuaded that you, my brethren, are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, and are able also to admonish one another. Rom 15:14. Here is the church of Christ in which Christ is present among them as a teacher and the head of the church; and the members were and are able through him to admonish one another. Let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which you are also called into one body, to wit, of Christ. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another,... Col.3 "Whatsoever you do, in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God and the Father by him;" and above all things strive for love, which is the bond of perfection. The apostle said to Timothy, "Do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner; but be a partner of the afflictions of the gospel, according to the power of God, who has saved us, and called us with a holy calling; not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began." 2 Tim 1:8-9. It concerns everyone not to be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, who has called them by his grace; and not to be ashamed of any of Christ's prisoners, and afflicted ones for Christ's and his gospel's sake, who abolishes death, and brings life and immortality to light through his gospel; you that believe in the light, know it. Peter said in his general epistle to the church of Christ, "As every man," mark every man, "hath received the gift, so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God," so not of men. "If any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God gives," so not of the ability of men's arts and sciences, "that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ." For these gifts and grace come from Jesus into the hearts of the members of his church, whom he is in the midst of. And if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God. Every true Christian has the presence of Christ, who has all power in heaven and in earth given him, to support him with his power, light, and life. Christ said to his believers, "Beware of men, for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in the synagogues, and you shall be brought before governors and kings for my name's sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, don’t rehearse how or what you shall say; for it shall be given you in the same hour what you shall speak: for it is not you that speak, but the spirit of your Father that speaks in you. And you shall be hated of all men for my name's sake; but he that endures to the end shall be saved. The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord; it is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord; for if they have called the master of the house a devil, what will they call his servant? Do not fear those who can kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul. A sparrow shall not fall to the ground without your heavenly Father’s knowledge; the hairs of your head are all numbered, you are of more value than many sparrows. Whoever confesses me before men, I will confess they are my followers before my Father which is in heaven; but whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. And whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed.” Mat 10:32-33. Again Christ said, "Whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of man be ashamed of him when he comes in the glory of his Father with his holy angels." Mark 8:38. And Christ said to his disciples, "He that receives you receives me, and he that receives me receives him that sent me; he that receives a prophet in the name of a prophet, shall receive a prophet's reward; and he that receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man, shall receive a righteous man's reward. Whoever give to drink to one of to one of my little ones, even a cup of cold water because he is my disciple, I assure you, he shall not lose his reward." Mat 10:40-42. Here you may see how Christ encourages his disciples, and them that receive them. And John said, "Among the chief rulers of the Jews many believed in Christ; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, for fear they should be expelled from the synagogue." John 12:42. There are too many believers today who are reluctant to confess Christ, for fear they will loose the approval of men. But Christ encourages the faithful disciples, and told them, they would put them out of their synagogues; yes, that the time should come, that whoever killed them would think they did God a service. "These things," said he, "will they do to you, because they have not known the Father or me. But I tell you these things so that when the time comes you may remember what I told you about them." John 16:2-4. Here you may see what Christ told his disciples should come to pass to them. And Saul, before he was converted, compelled the christians to blaspheme, and make havoc of the church of Christ. Acts 8:1-3 and Acts 22:1-8 and Acts 26:9-11. Did not the beast in the Revelation compel both small and great to worship him and his image? And did not all worship it, except those who had their names written in the Lamb's book of life? Did not Nebuchadnezzer let up an image of sixty cubits high, and six cubits broad? And did not he cause a herald to cry aloud, "It is commanded that all people, nations, and languages fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar has set up; and whoever does not fall down and worship shall in the same hour be cast into the midst of the fiery furnace!" And were not Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego cast into the furnace? Dan. 3. But God delivered them. Therefore it is good to be faithful to God and his worship in spirit and truth. The Jews agreed, that if any man should confess Christ he should be put out of their synagogue. John 9:22. So it was for Christ's sake they were excommunicated out of their synagogues. But, as it is written, "Behold I lay in Zion a stumbling stone, and a rock of offence; and whoever believes on him shall not be ashamed."Isaiah 28:16. So Christ is a stumbling stone, and a rock of offence to all the unbelievers in the light, which is the life in Christ, whether they be Jews, christians, or Gentiles. The Jews believed Christ was to come, from the scriptures, and the Christians believe he is come, by the scriptures, but do not believe in the light as Christ commands, and so do not become children of the light. Therefore you that are believers in the light, and have become the children of light, walk in Christ, your way, life and salvation.
Kingston, the 5th month, 1683
Before I left Kingston something further opened in me, which I was moved to write and send among Friends; as follows:
My love is to you all in the holy seed that reigns over all. And my desire is that everyone, both male and female, may feel the seed Christ in you, which is heir of the promise of life eternal, that you may all grow up in Christ Jesus, your head, and be built upon him the rock and foundation that God has laid, which stands sure over all rocks and foundations in the world. That you may eat and drink of this spiritual rock, the spiritual water and food; so that you may truly and inwardly say, your rock and foundation, your bread and water of life is from heaven, and your bread and water is sure; also that you know his voice that feeds, and leads you into the pastures of life, which are always fresh and green. In this your affections are set on things above, seeking what comes down from above more than that which is from below, where Christ sits at the right hand of God, making intercession for you; who is your mediator, making peace between God and you; and your heavenly bishop to oversee you, that you keep in his light, life, and power, and do not go astray from his heavenly fold and pasture, that he your shepherd may feed you there. He is your prophet, to open to you the fulfilling of the promises and prophecies, himself being the substance; that you may live in him, and he in you, yes, and reign in your hearts; there to exercise his offices, his prophetical, priestly, and kingly office, who is heavenly and spiritual. That you may know the three that bear witness in the earth, the spirit, the water, and the blood, which is the life of Christ, which cleanses from all sin; the water that washes and refreshes you, the spirit that baptizes, circumcises, and leads you into all truth; that you may come all to drink into one spirit, and keep the unity of the spirit, which is the bond of the heavenly peace. So being led by the spirit of God, you are his sons and daughters, and by his spirit will come to know the three that bear witness in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost. These are the three witnesses that are in heaven, that bear record of all things; for he is God in the heaven, and God in the earth. Therefore, I desire that you may all feel his love shed in your hearts, and in it live, (above the love of the world, which is enmity), and in that you will keep in the excellent way. For love edifies the body of Christ, builds his church up, and keeps out of the enmity; for it is above it, and brings and keeps all in true humanity, and in the true divinity; and to be courteous, kind, and tender one towards another. And show forth the nature of Christ, and true Christianity, in all your lives and conversations, that the blessings of the Lord may rest upon you, as you all live in the seed of the gospel, the seed of the kingdom of God, in which all nations are blessed. In that you will all have a care of God's glory. There is the hill or mountain where the light shines to the answering the witness of God in all, and the salt that is a good savor to the witness of God in the hearts of all; which savor and salt being kept in, it does not come under the feet of men. So my love to you all in Christ Jesus, whom God has given to be a sanctuary for all his people, who is from above, and not of this world, in whom you have life, peace, and salvation. In him God Almighty keep and preserve you all to his glory, Amen. As you live in the peaceable truth of God, it keeps you under and within his protection; but those who make profession of the scriptures of truth, and yet live out of the truth, in the spirit of strife, unquietness, and discontent, in a contriving, plotting, ravenous, destroying spirit, which is of the devil, and not of God, that spirit is judged out of the truth, and to be of him in whom there is no truth, whose portion is in the lake, and in the fire that burns.
Kingston, the 27th of the 5th month, 1683
Having visited Friends at and around Kingston, I returned to London; for it was a time of suffering for Friends there, and I did not have freedom to be gone long from the city. I went to the meeting at the Peel which had just been broken up shortly before my arrival by the justices and constables, and they had conducted themselves very roughly; but during that day the meeting was in the house; it had been quiet and glorious, blessed be the Lord.
On first-day following I went to the meeting at Gracechurch-street, where I found three constables in the meeting-house, who kept Friends out; so we met in the court. After I had been some time in the meeting, I stood up, and spoke to the people, and continued speaking a pretty while. Then one of the constables came, took hold of my hand, and said, ‘I must come down.' I desired him to be patient, and went on speaking to the people; but after a little time he plucked me down, and took me into the meeting-house. I asked them if they were not weary of this work? One of them said, ‘indeed they were.' They let me go into the widow Foster's house, which joined to the meeting-house, where I stayed, it being very hot. One Friend prayed after I was taken away; and when the meeting was ended, the constables asked some Friends, 'which of them would pass their words that I should appear, if they should be questioned about me?' But Friends told them they need not require that, for I was a man well known in the city to be 'one that would neither flee nor hide;' they came not to me, but went their way, and I heard no further of it. The same week I was at the meeting at the Savoy, which had been kept outside and disturbed; but that day it was within doors and peaceable, and a precious meeting it was. The first-day after, it was upon me to go to the meeting at Westminster, where there used to be great disturbances: but there also the meeting was within doors that day and was very large. The Lord's power was over all, and kept all quiet and still; for though many loose spirits were there, yet they were bound down by the power and spirit of the Lord, that they could not get up to make disturbance.
About this time I was moved to write the following epistle:
Friends and Brethren,
Who have received the peaceable truth, let the fruits of its peace, and of your quiet spirit appear in all your meetings and in all your words and actions; for he that inhabits eternity dwells with a humble heart, and he gives grace to the humble and resists the proud. Heaven is his throne, and the earth you walk upon is his footstool; happy are you that see and know him who is invisible. And now, Friends, let all things be done in your meetings and otherwise in love, without strife or self-seeking. For love fulfils the law, and love overcomes and edifies the body of Christ. There is neither self or envy in love, neither is it puffed up; but love endures and bears all things. See that this love of God rules in you all and over you all. Christ said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven; blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God. Blessed are they that are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when men shall revile you and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake; rejoice and be exceeding glad; for great is your reward in heaven; for so persecuted they the prophets that were before you." Now Friends, here is a great deal in these words. All must be in these states and conditions, if they have these blessings. The children of God are peacemakers, and strive to make peace in the truth; and to live in peace with all men where possible. So live in the peace and goodwill to all men; which goodwill is both for their sanctification and salvation. And Friends, consider the wisdom of God which is from above, is pure, peaceable, gentle, and reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Dear Friends, let this pure, peaceable, gentle wisdom that is from above, that is reasonable, and is full of mercy and good fruits, be exercised and practiced in all the true churches of Christ; that wisdom may be justified of her children. For the works of the flesh, or fleshly spirit, are hatred, sexual immorality, impurity, debauchery, idolatry, hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, envy, drunkenness, etc. and they which do such things, shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruits of the spirit of God are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. So, dear Friends and brethren strive to exceed one another and all people upon the earth in humility, in meekness, in gentleness, in temperance, in love, in patience, in pureness, and in mercy; then you will show forth the fruits of the spirit of God, and of his heavenly wisdom that is from above. In this, wisdom will be justified of her children; and you will be the salt of the earth, and a light to the world set on a hill that cannot be hidden; and your moderation will appear to all men. Be just and righteous, faithful and true in all your words, dealings, and conversations; that you may answer the truth in all people; for Christ said, his father is glorified by those who produce fruits, and men see the resulting good works; for he that does righteousness, is accepted with God. And he that dwells in love, dwells in God; for love is his dwelling state. Let that dwelling state be everyone’s who has received the truth; for if not, you are not dwelling in God, whatever you say your state is. Therefore my desire is that all of you who have received Christ the seed, which bruises the serpent's head, may walk in him as your sanctuary, life, and salvation, your rest and peace, Amen.
London, the 14th of the 6th month, 1683
I continued yet at London, laboring in the work and service of the Lord both in and out of meetings; sometimes visiting Friends in prison for the testimony of Jesus, encouraging them in their sufferings, and exhorting them to stand faithful and steadfast in the testimony which the Lord had committed to them to bear; sometimes also visiting those that were sick and weak in body, or troubled in mind, helping to bear their spirits up from sinking under their infirmities. Sometimes our meetings were quiet and peaceable; sometimes they were disturbed and broken up by the officers. One first-day it was upon me to go to the meeting at the Savoy, which was large; for many professors and sober people were there. The Lord opened many precious weighty things in me to the people, which I declared among them, and directed them to the spirit of God in themselves, which the Lord had given them a measure of; that all by the spirit might understand the scriptures, which were given forth from the spirit of God; and that by the spirit of God they might know God, and Christ whom God has sent, whom to know is eternal life; and that by the spirit they might all come into Christ, and know him to be their sanctuary, who destroys the devil, the destroyer, and his works, and bruises the serpent's head. For Christ was a sanctuary to them to whom he was a Savior, whom he saved from the destroyer. And Christ did baptize them with the holy ghost and with fire, and did thoroughly purge his floor, and burn up their chaff with unquenchable fire; that is, sin and corruption, which entered into man and woman by their disobedience; but Christ gathers his wheat into his barn. So all that are baptized with Christ's baptism, their wheat is in God's barn; and nothing of destruction can get into God's barn to harm the wheat there, though harm may be permitted to material possessions.' As I was speaking in the power of the Lord by which the people were greatly affected, constables and a sea of rude people suddenly flowed into the meeting. One of the constables said, 'Come down,' and laid hands on me. I asked him, 'Are you a Christian? We are Christians.' He grabbed my hand, and was very determined to pull me down; but I stood still and spoke a few words to the people, asking the Lord to place the blessings of God upon them all.