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The constable still called upon me to come down, and finally pulled me down; and he told another man with a staff to 'arrest me and take me to prison.' That man took me to the house of another officer who was more civil; and after awhile they brought in four more Friends whom they had arrested. I was very weary and in a great sweat; and several Friends hearing where I was, came to me in the constable's house; but I told them all to go away for fear the constables and informers should arrest them. After awhile the constables took us almost a mile to a justice, who was a fierce, passionate man. After he had asked me my name, and his clerk had taken it in writing, the constable informed him, 'that I had preached in the meeting.' The justice said in an angry manner, ‘do not you know that it is contrary to the king's laws to preach in such unlawful meetings what is contrary to the liturgy of the church of England?' There was present one named Shad (a wicked informer, who was said to have escaped jail at Coventry and to have been branded in the hand as a criminal in London), who hearing the justice speak so to me, stepped up to him and told him that he had convicted them on the act of the 22d of king Charles the second.' 'What! You convict them?' said the justice. 'Yes,' said Shad, ‘I have convicted them, and you must convict them too upon that act.' With that the justice was angry with him and said, ‘You teach me! What are you? I'll convict them of a riot.' Upon hearing that and seeing the justice angry, the informer went away in a fret; so he was disappointed of his purpose. I thought he would have sworn somebody against me; therefore I said 'let no man swear against me, for it is my principle, "not to swear;" and therefore I would not have any man swear against me.' The justice thereupon asked me, ‘If I did not preach in the meeting?' I told him, 'I did confess what God and Christ had done for my soul; and did praise God. I thought I might have done that in the streets and in all places to the praise of God, and confess Christ Jesus; which I was not ashamed to confess. Neither was this contrary to the liturgy of the church of England.' The justice said 'the laws were against such meetings as were contrary to the liturgy of the church of England.' I said, ‘I knew of no such laws against our meetings; but if he meant the act that was made against those who met to plot, contrive, and raise insurrections against the king, we were no such people and abhorred all such actions; and did bear true love and good will to the king, and to all men upon the earth.' The justice then asked me, 'if I had been under court orders?' I told him, no. Then he took his law books, and searched for laws against us, bidding his clerk take the rest of our names in the meantime. But when he could find no other law against us, the clerk swore the constable against us. Some of the Friends warned the constable 'to be careful to what he swore, to avoid being perjured because he had arrested them in the entry, not in the meeting.' Yet the constable, being an ill man, swore 'that they were in the meeting.' However, the justice said, 'seeing there was but one witness, he would discharge the rest; but he would send me to Newgate, and I could preach there.' I asked him, ‘if it stood with his conscience to send me to Newgate for praising God, and for confessing Christ Jesus?' He cried, 'conscience! conscience!' But I felt my words touched his conscience. He bid the constable 'take me away, and he would make a mittimus to send me to prison after he had dined.' I told him, 'I desired his peace, and the good of his family; and that they might be kept in the fear of the Lord.' So I left, and as I left the constable accepted a Friends' word that I would come to his house the next morning by the eighth hour. Accordingly I did go with those Friends, and the constable told us he went to the justice for the mittimus after he had dined; and the justice bid him, 'come again after the evening service;' which he did; and then the justice told him, ‘ he might let me go.' So, said the constable, you are discharged. I blamed him for turning informer and swearing against us. He said, 'he would do so no more.' Next day the justice was meeting with Gilbert Laty and asked him, ‘if he would pay twenty pounds for George Fox's fine?' Gilbert said, ‘no.' 'Then, 'said the justice, 'I am disappointed because since he only rents, I cannot seize the value of his fine; and since he has been brought before me showing his ability to pay, I cannot lay his fine on any other.'
After I was discharged, I went into the city. This was the week the sessions court was scheduled which would deal with many concerns of Friends; some were prisoners, and some on trials of appeals upon the illegal meetings act. I went to a Friend's house not far off that I might be ready if asked to assist those Friends with or without counsel; and I found service in it. While my spirit was concerned on behalf of Friends and their respective outward sufferings in the world by the persecutors out in the world, a spiritual exercise also came heavily upon me at this time. I sensed the mischievous working of that adulterated spirit which had left the heavenly unity; and having drawn away some who professed truth into enmity and opposition against Friends, now was working to trouble the church of Christ with their arguments and contentions. And as a further discovery of the working of that seducing spirit, and a warning to all Friends to beware of it, I was moved to write the following epistle:
To all the elect, faithful, called, and chosen of God, the flock and heritage of God, who have been acquainted with the dealings of the Lord, and have kept your habitations in his life, power, and truth; being built upon the holy heavenly rock and foundation Christ Jesus, who was the foundation of the prophets and apostles; which foundation stands sure.
Many foundations have been laid since the apostles' days, by such as have gone from Christ the true and sure foundation; and their foundations have proven rotten, and come to nothing, and they who laid the false foundations have come to loss. Many since the day of Christ, and many since the truth has appeared in this nation, have had some openings and insights, and come among us for a time, and then gone from us again. These are and have been the comers and goers, just like those in the apostles' days. Such had an outward profession of truth, and have gone from the true foundation Christ Jesus, and so from the heavenly society and unity of the saints in the light. Then they set up foundations of their own; they have a form of godliness, but they are out of the power of God and out of the order of God, and such have turned to arguments and vain disputes. You who have kept your habitations in Christ Jesus, the first and the last, have been acquainted with this spirit. And you are not insensible of the scurrilous and filthy books of lies and defamations which have been spread abroad in this nation and beyond sea against the faithful. It is very well that the Lord has allowed them to publish their own shame in print so that truth's enemies may be discovered; their fruits and spirits have appeared and shown themselves both in print and otherwise. And I believe the Lord will allow this spirit to more publish its fruits, its shame and nakedness, to professor and profane, and to all sober, moderate and innocent people, that its shame and nakedness may more fully appear. Though for a time it has been hidden and covered with the fig leaves of an outward profession, and sometimes with complimentary and flattering words, (and other times it has revealed itself by rough, lying, and defaming words), yet the Lord God will blast all such vain talkers, that do not talk in the order of life, truth, and the gospel. Therefore, you that are faithful, stand fast in the liberty with which Christ has made you free in his government. The government is upon his shoulders; he holds it up; the increase of it and of its peace there is no end. For all contenders against his order and government are not in him, nor in his heavenly, spiritual government and peace. Therefore, you faithful ones, who have stood the trial through many persecutions, imprisonments, and seizures of property; you know there is a crown of glory laid up for you. You who suffer with Christ, shall reign with him in his kingdom of glory; you who die with Christ, shall live with him in eternal life, in the world that has no end, who have gone through the sufferings without and within by false brethren, by comers and goers, that have caused the way of truth to be evil spoken of, and have been persecutors of the faithful with their tongues; and by printing and publishing their lying, defaming books against the faithful. These have stirred up magistrates and priests, who were willing to use any pretext to speak evil of the right way and precious truth of Christ, by which his people are made free; it would be better for these deceivers if they had never been born. But God has brought them to light, and their fruits and ravenous spirit are seen, savored, and known; who are become Judases and sons of perdition, to betray Christ now within, (where he is made revealed), to the priests, magistrates, and heathen, as Judas betrayed Christ without to the priests and Pilate. Though some of the magistrates and sober people see their envy and mistakes; and that they have unreasonable hatred against the faithful. The Lord will consume this Judas, or son of perdition! The Lord will consume him with the spirit of his mouth, and destroy him with the brightness of his coming! So let all the faithful look unto the Lord. And let that wicked son of perdition know, though he may be thought as high as Judas, (who was partaker of the ministry with the apostles), "the Lord will consume him with the spirit of his mouth, and destroy him with the brightness of his coming." That is his portion. The brightness of the Lord will destroy him, and the spirit of his mouth will consume him. And when he is destroyed and consumed, there will not be a son of perdition to betray Christ in his people that live and walk in Christ, who has all power in heaven (mark in heaven) and in earth given to him; and with his holy and glorious power he limits and orders; so that nothing shall be done against his people, but what is allowed for their trial and their good, neither by apostates, persecutors with the tongue, Judases, sons of perdition to betray, or the outward powers to imprison, or seize goods; all these are limited by Christ who has all power in heaven and earth given to him. Everyone's faith is to stand in him and his power. Such rejoice in his power, and see the increase of his righteous, holy, heavenly, spiritual, peaceable government, in which the glorious, holy order of life is lived and walked in by all his sons and daughters; and in his spirit is the holy unity and bond of peace. Though you are separated in body one from each other, yet all are together present in his spirit being glad and rejoicing; and beholding in the same spirit your spiritual order, unity, fellowship, and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ Jesus. Who is steadfast forever, the first and the last, whose presence is among his people, and who is their head. Here is heavenly Zion known, and heavenly Jerusalem, and the innumerable company of angels (which are spirits), and the spirits of the just men made perfect. Here is the general assembly, or general meeting, and a general heavenly, holy, and spiritual joy and rejoicing, lauding and praising the Lord God Almighty, and the Lamb that lives for evermore. Amen.
London, the 14th of the 8th month, 1683.
Read this in your assemblies among the faithful.
I stayed a little in London, visiting Friends and meetings, and laboring in the work of the Lord. Meetings had long been prohibited inside the Bull and Mouth, but on this first-day we had a large and peaceful meeting in the house for the day; the people were so affected with the truth and refreshed with the powerful presence of the Lord, that when the meeting ended, they were did not want to depart.
After some time having several things upon me to write, I went to Kingston so I might be free from interruptions. After I arrived I learned that the officers had been very rude at the meeting, having abused them and then driving them out of the meeting-place; and remained very abusive for some time. While I was there I wrote a little book, (printed soon after), the title was: “The saints' heavenly and spiritual worship, unity, and communion, in which is stated what the true gospel-worship is, and in what the true unity and communion of the saints stand; with a discovery of those that were gone from this holy unity and communion, and were turned against the saints that lived in it.”
When I had finished the services for which I went there, and had visited the Friends, I returned to London and visited most of the meetings in and about the city. Afterwards I went to visit a Friend in Essex; and returning by Dalston, I stayed at the widow Scot's, where I wrote an epistle to Friends, which may be read among my other printed books.
I came from Dalston to London, and the next day was sent for in haste to my son Rouse's at Kingston; whose daughter Margaret lay very sick, and had a desire to see me. I stayed in Kingston about a week, and then returned to London; where I continued most of the next winter and the spring, until the general meeting in 1684, (save that I went once as far as Enfield, to visit Friends thereabouts). In this time I did not cease to labor in the work of the Lord, being frequent at meetings, and visiting Friends that were prisoners or that were sick, and in writing books for the spreading of truth, and opening the understandings of people to receive it.
The Yearly Meeting was in the third month. A blessed, weighty meeting it was, in which Friends were sweetly refreshed together; for the Lord was with us, and opened his heavenly treasures among us. And though it was a time of great difficulty and danger because of informers and persecuting magistrates, yet the Lord was a defense and place of safety to his people.
Now I had drawings in spirit to go into Holland, to visit the seed of God in those provinces. And as soon as the Yearly Meeting was over, I prepared for my journey. Going with me from London were Alexander Parker, George Watts, and Nathaniel Brassey, who also had drawings into that country. We took a coach the 31st of the third month, 1684, and got to Colchester that night. Next day, being first-day, we went to the meeting there; and though there was no notice given of my coming, our presence there was quickly spread over the town seven to ten miles distant in several places in the country; so that many Friends came in with two horse carriages, which made the meeting very large. I had a concern and burden in my mind, for fear this great gathering would upset the town, and be more than the magistrates could bear; but it was very quiet and peaceable; and we had a glorious meeting to the settling and establishing of Friends both in the town and in the country; for the Lord's power was over all; blessed be his name forever! Truly, the Lord's power and presence was beyond words; for I was very weak to go into a meeting, and my face (by reason of a cold), was sore; but God manifested his strength in us and with us, and all was well; the Lord have the glory for evermore for his supporting power. After the meeting more than a hundred Friends of the town and country came to see me at John Furley's. We were very glad to see one another, and we were greatly refreshed together, being filled with the love and riches of the Lord; blessed be his name forever!
We stayed at Colchester two more days visiting Friends, both at their meetings for business, and at their houses. Early in the morning on fourth-day we took a coach to Harwich, where we met William Bingley and Samuel Waldenfield, who went over with us. About the eighth hour at night we went on board the packet-boat, Richard Gray, master; but because of contrary winds, it was the first hour in the morning before we sailed. We had a very good passage; and the next day at about the fifth hour in the afternoon we landed at the Brill in Holland, where we spent the night. Early the next morning we went to Rotterdam, where we stayed several days. The next day after we came to Rotterdam, Wilber Frouzen, a burgomaster and kinsman of Aarent Sunneman's, heard I was there and invited me to his country-house, having a desire to speak with me about some business relating to Aarent Sunneman's daughters. George Watts accompanied me, and a brother of Aarent Sunneman's took us there. The burgomaster received us very kindly and was glad to see me. Entering into discourse about his kinsman's daughters, I found he was apprehensive that since their father was dead and having left them considerable inheritances, that the inheritances might be stolen and the daughters married to their disadvantage. At which point I told him, ‘it was our principle and practice that none should marry among us unless they had a certificate of the consent of their relations or guardians; for it was our Christian care to watch over and look after all young people that came among us, especially those whose relations were dead. And as for his kinsman's daughters, we should take care that nothing should be offered to them but what should be agreeable to truth and righteousness, and that they might be preserved in the fear of God, according to their father's mind.' This seemed to give him great satisfaction. While I was with him, many people came there to see me; and I exhorted them all 'to keep in the fear of God, and to mind his good spirit in them, to keep their minds to the Lord.' After I had stayed two or three hours and discussed several things with them, I left my host very kindly sent me to Rotterdam in his carriage.
The next day was first-day and we were at the pretty large meeting in Rotterdam, and we declared to the people by an interpreter. The day following alderman Gaul came to speak with me, with whom we had much discussion about religious matters; he seemed to be well satisfied with the discussion, and was very tender. Several other persons of position intended to have come to speak with me, but being hindered by extraordinary business, (as I understood), they did not come.
The next day we went from Rotterdam to Amsterdam, where we had a large and very precious meeting. In the afternoon I was at another meeting there with Friends about business.
There was a Yearly Meeting at Amsterdam for the Friends of Holland and Germany, et al. which now began on the eighth of the fourth month, and ended the twelfth. Here we had a fine opportunity of seeing Friends from many areas and of being refreshed together in the love of God. After this meeting, before those who had come out of the several provinces left, we had a meeting with some particular Friends about the places and countries into which we, who came out of England in the work of the ministry, were to travel; and to inquire as to whom among them were suitable persons to go along with us as interpreters. This resulted in William Bingley, and Samuel Waldenfield sailing to Friesland, with Jacob Claus their interpreter. Alexander Parker and George Watts remained with me. We remained a few days longer in Amsterdam where I had further service. Before I left Amsterdam, I went to visit Galenus Abrahams, a teacher of chief note among the Menonites or Baptists. I had met with him when I was in Holland about seven years before; and William Penn and George Keith had disputed with him. Then he was very high and very shy, so that he would not let me touch him or look at him (by his good will) but told me "to keep my eyes off him; for," he said, "they pierced his." But now he was very loving and tender, and confessed in some measure to truth: his wife and daughter were also tender and kind, and we parted from them very lovingly. Feeling our spirits drawn towards Friesland, Alexander Parker, George Watts, and I with John Claus as our as interpreter, took a ship at Amsterdam bound for Friesland; and having sailed nine or ten leagues, we left the ship and traveled by land through Friesland, visiting Friends and tender people in towns and villages with meetings being common one of two times in a day. After we had been at Leuwarden, we passed by Franeker to Harlingen in West Friesland which was the furthest place we went to in that area. And having been out six days from Amsterdam with very good service in that time in visiting Friends and publishing truth among the people, we took a ship at Harlingen bound for Amsterdam the 26th of the fourth month and arrived that night. The first-day following we were at the very large and precious meeting in Amsterdam. Many of the people, some of their teachers, and some persons of position were there. They seemed very attentive and we had a good opportunity, one after another, to declare the word of the Lord and open the way of truth to them; John Claus interpreted for us. The next day I stayed in Amsterdam, but George Watts went to a burial in Harlem with many hundreds of people attending; he took advantage of the opportunity to speak and came back to us that night.
The day following we went by boat to Osanoverton in Waterland, and from there in another small boat about a three miles by a small river on which we passed over and by a hundred bridges; we continued on to Lansmeer to a Friend's home named Timon Peters; here we had a very good meeting. We returned to Amsterdam at night, and were at the meeting there next day. In addition to Friends many were at this meeting including the great Baptist teacher Galenus, who was very attentive to the testimony of the truth; when the meeting was over, he came and took me by the hand very lovingly.
The next day we went by boat to Alkmaer, about twenty four miles from Amsterdam, passing through several towns along the way including Sardam, the great town of ship carpenters. At the pretty city of Alkmaer we stayed, and the next day we had a meeting at William Williams'. There were, besides Friends, many very serious people at this meeting, who were very attentive to the testimonies of truth that were made by Alexander Parker, George Watts, and myself; John Claus again was our interpreter. This was on a sixth-day, and on the seventh we returned to Amsterdam in order to be at the meeting on first-day, because it was likely to be the last meeting we would have there. Accordingly we attended what was a very large and open meeting. Many great persons were present including some earls with their attendants out of Germany, so we were told; who were very grave and sober; and the everlasting gospel was preached to them.
After this meeting we said goodbye to the Friends in Amsterdam, and the next morning departed to Harlem, where we had a meeting at a Friend's named Abraham Frondenberg. Great numbers of people were at this meeting, and it was of great service. After the meeting, a watchmaker of Amsterdam, who was at the meeting with his wife, desired to speak with me concerning religion. I had a long discussion with him, and both he and she were very low and tender, receiving with gladness what I spoke to them and seemingly to depart well satisfied.
We went next day to Rotterdam, where we stayed through two meetings; then we went to Brill to catch a ship to England on the sixteenth of the fifth month.
About four in the afternoon, we went on board the packet-boat of master William Sherman and set sail from Brill. When we had gone over the Mase about a three miles, we set anchor at a place called the Pit, because it was near the sands; here we laid at anchor until about four next morning when, having a pretty fair wind and the tide with us, we weighed anchor and set sail; by four next day we were within fifteen miles of Harwich over against Alborough castle. Because the wind fell short and the tide was weak, it was the first hour in the afternoon before we came near enough to Harwich that boats could come to receive the passengers and goods. On board there about forty passengers in all; of which some were English, some Scots, some Dutch, some French, some Spanish, some Flemish, and some Jews.
I spent a day with Friends at Harwich, while Alexander Parker and George Watts went to visit Friends at Ipswich and returned at night. Next morning early we all took a coach for Colchester where we all attended a large and peaceful meeting; after the meeting we traveled to Witham and lodged there that night. The next day we met William Mead on the way at Harestreet and I went with him to his house while the other Friends went to London.
Since I was weak with travel and continual exercise, I spent some time to rest myself and recover my health. In the meantime I was able to get out and visit Friends in that part of the country. When I was a little recovered I went to Enfield, visiting Friends there and around the area; then I went to Dalston to see the widow Stot, and from there to London to meet with some Friends from New-Jersey in America about business, they having requested my presence.
It was the latter end of the summer when I came to London, where I stayed the winter following except once or twice when I accompanied my wife, being in town with me, to her son Rouse's at Kingston. And though my body was very weak, I was still in continual service either in public meetings, when I was able to bear them, or in particular businesses among Friends; and I visited those that were sufferers for truth, either by imprisonment or loss of goods. I also wrote many things during this time, some for the press and some for particular service; such as letters to the king of Denmark and one to the duke of Holstein on behalf of Friends that were sufferers in his dominions as the follows:
For the Duke of Holstein;
Whom I do entreat in the love of God to read this which is sent to him in love.
I understand that formerly, by some evil-minded persons, it was reported to you, when Elizabeth Hendricks came to Frederickstadt to visit the people called Quakers, "that it was a scandal to the Christian religion that a woman should be suffered to preach in a public assembly religiously gathered together." Upon which you gave an order to the rulers of Frederickstadt, "to make those people leave that place immediately or to send them away." But the said rulers being Armenians, and they or their Fathers having come to live there as a people persecuted in Holland not much above threescore years ago, answered the duke that "they were not willing to persecute others for conscience sake, who had looked upon persecution on that account in their own case as anti-Christian." But after that, the people of God in scorn called Quakers, did write to you from Frederickstadt; and since that time they have had their liberty, and their meetings have been peaceful, to serve and worship God almost these twenty years at Frederickstadt and thereabouts, freely without molestation; which liberty they have acknowledged as a great favor and kindness from you.
And now, O duke, you professing christianity from the great and mighty name of Christ Jesus, who is King of kings and Lord of lords, and the holy scriptures of truth of the Old and New Testament, do not you use many women's words in your service and worship out of the Old and New Testament? The apostle said, "Let your women keep silence in the churches;" and that he "did not permit a woman to speak, but to be under obedience; and if she wanted to learn anything, to ask her husband at home; for it is a shame for a woman to speak in the church." And 1 Tim. 2:11-12. "Women are to learn in silence, and not allowed to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence." 1 Cor. 14:34. Here the duke may see what sort of women were to be in silence and subjection, whom the law commands to be silent and not to usurp authority over the man, nor to speak in the church; these were unruly women. In the same chapter he commands "not to plait nor broider their hair, nor to wear gold, pearls, or costly array." These things were forbidden by the apostle, and women that wear such things are to learn in silence and to be subject, and not to usurp authority over the men; for it is a shame for such to speak in the church. But do not such women as these that wear gold and silver, pearls and gaudy apparel, or costly array, and plait and broider their hair, speak in your church, when your priests sets them to sing psalms? Do not they speak when they sing psalms? Consider this, O duke! Yet you say, "Your women must keep silence in the church, and must not speak in the church;" but when they sing psalms in your churches are they silent? Though the apostle forbids such women as before mentioned to speak in the church, yet in another place he encourages the good or holy women to be teachers of good things. Titus 2:3-4. The apostle also said, “And I urge you also, true companion, help these women who labored with me in the gospel, and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the Book of Life.” Here he owns these holy women, and encourages them which labored with him in the gospel, and did not forbid them. Phil 4:2-3. He likewise commends Phoebe unto the church of the Romans, calls her a "servant unto the church of Cenchrea," sends his epistle by her to the Romans from Corinth, and desires the church at Rome to "receive her in the Lord, as becomes saints;" and to assist her in whatever business she had need of; for she had been a nuturer of many and of him also." And he said, "Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my helpers in Christ Jesus, who risked their own necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles." Now here the duke may see that these were good holy women, whom the apostle did not forbid speaking, Rom16:1-4 but commended them, and Priscilla and Aquila "instructed and expounded to Apollos the way of God more perfectly." Acts 18:26. So here Priscilla was an instructor as well as Aquila, which holy women the apostle does not forbid. Neither did he forbid Philip's four daughters, who were virgins, to prophesy. Women might pray and prophesy in the church, 1 Cor 11:5. The apostles showed to the Jews the fulfilling of Joel's prophecy: "That in the last days God would pour out of his spirit upon all flesh, and their sons and daughters, servants and handmaids, should "prophesy with the spirit of God." So the apostle encourages daughters and handmaids to prophesy, as well as sons; and if they do prophesy, they must speak to the church or people, Joel. 2:28. Acts 2:17. Did not Miriam the prophetess sing unto the Lord, and all the women with her, when the Lord had delivered the children of Israel from Pharaoh? Did not she praise the Lord, and prophesy in the congregation of the children of Israel? Was not this in the church? Ex 15:21. Moses and Aaron did not forbid her prophesying or speaking; but Moses said, " Would God all the Lord's people were prophets!" And the Lord's people are women as well as men. Deborah was a judge and a prophetess; and do you not make use of Deborah's and Miriam's words in your service and worship? See Jud 4:1-31 Deborah's large speech or song. Barak did not forbid her, nor none of the Jewish priests. Did not she make this speech or song in the congregation or church of Israel? In the book of Ruth there are good speeches of those good women, which were not forbidden. Hannah prayed in the temple before Eli, and the Lord answered her prayer. See what a speech Hannah makes, and a praising of God before Eli the high priest, who did not forbid her. 1 Sam 2:1-10. Josiah the king sent his priest, with several others, to ask counsel of Huldah the prophetess, who dwelt at Jerusalem in the college. 2 Kings 22:14-15. 2 Chr 34:22-23. So here the king and his priests did not despise the counsel of this prophetess; and she prophesied to the congregation of Israel, as may be seen in these chapters. In Luke 1:41-45, see what a godly speech Elizabeth made to Mary, and what a large godly speech Mary made also. Mary said, "That the Lord did regard the low estate of his handmaid." And do not you make use in your worship and service of Mary's and Elizabeth's words from Luke 1:41-55 in your churches, and yet forbid women's speaking in your churches, and but to be in silence? Yet all sorts of women speak in your churches when they sing, and say Amen. In Luke 2:36-38 there was Anna the prophetess, a widow, of about fourscore and four years, who departed not from the temple, but served God with fasting and prayer night and day. Did not she confess Christ Jesus in the temple, and give thanks to the Lord, "and speak of Christ to all that looked for redemption in Jerusalem?" Luke 2:36- 38. So such holy women were not forbidden to speak in the church, neither in the law nor gospel. Was it not Mary Magdalene and other women that first preached Christ's resurrection to the apostles? The women indeed (namely Eve) was first in transgression; so they were women that first preached the resurrection of Christ Jesus; for Christ said to Mary, "Go to my brethren and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father and to your Father, and to my God and to your God." John 20:17. And Luke 24:10. It was Mary Magdalene, Johanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women with them, who told the apostles, "Christ was risen from the dead; and their words and these women's words were as idle tales to the apostles, and they believed them not." Luke 24:8-12. "Certain women also of our company made us astonished," they said. So here it may be seen that the women's preaching the resurrection of Christ did astonish the apostles. Christ sent these women to preach his resurrection; so it is no shame for such women to preach Christ Jesus, neither are they to be silent when Christ sends them. The apostle says, "Every tongue shall confess to God," Rom 14:11. and "Every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Phil 2:11. So here it is clear that women must confess Christ as well as men, if every tongue must confess. And the apostle said, "There is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." Gal 3:28.
And whereas it is said, "women must ask their husbands at home," the duke knows very well that virgins have no husbands, nor widows; for Anna, the prophetess, was a widow; and if Christ is the husband [of the Church], men must ask counsel of him at home, as well as women, before they teach. And suppose that a Turk's wife is Christian, or a Papist's wife should be a Lutheran, or a Calvinist, must they ask and learn of their husbands at home before they confess Christ Jesus in the congregation of the Lord? Their counsel will be to them to turn Turks or Papists.
I entreat the duke to consider these things, I entreat him to mind God's grace and truth in his heart, that comes by Jesus Christ, that by his spirit of grace and truth he may come to serve and worship God in his spirit and truth; so that he may serve the living eternal God that made him, in his generation, and have his peace in Christ that the world cannot take away. And I do desire his good peace and prosperity in this world, and his eternal comfort and happiness in the world that is everlasting, Amen.
[For more information on the topic of women's equality, see Letter 320]
London, the 26th of the 8th month, 1684
Besides the foregoing, I wrote also epistles to Friends; one of which is as follows:
Friends and Brethren in the Lord Jesus Christ,
In whom you have life, peace, and salvation; walk in him who is your heavenly rock and foundation, that stands sure, who has all power in heaven and earth given unto him. So his power is over all. Let your faith stand in his power, which is over all from everlasting to everlasting, over the devil and his power; that in the holy heavenly wisdom of God you may be preserved and kept to God's glory, out of all the snares and temptations; that God's wisdom may be justified of all his children in this day of his power, and they all may be faithful, serving and worshipping God in spirit and truth, and valiant for it upon the earth. For, as the apostle said, "they that believe are entered into their rest, and have ceased from their own works, as God did from his." Now this rest is an eternal rest in Christ, the eternal Son of God, in whom every true believer has everlasting life in Christ Jesus, their rest and everlasting day. For Christ the rest bruises the serpent's head, and through death destroys death, and the devil, the power of death, and his works. He is the eternal rest that gives eternal life to his sheep. Christ fulfills the prophets, and all the figures, shadows, and ceremonies of the Old Testament; and all the promises are yes and amen in Christ, who was the eternal rest to all true believers in the apostles' days, and ever since, and is so now. Christ is the beginning and the ending, the first and last, ascended above all principalities, powers, thrones, and dominions, that he might fill all things. For by Jesus Christ all things were made and created, whether they be things in heaven or things in the earth; and he is the eternal rest. They that believe are entered into Christ, their eternal rest, in whom they have eternal life, and peace with God. For which reason I say again, in him who is your rest live and abide; for in him you are happy, and his blessings will rest upon you. God Almighty keep and preserve you all, his true believers, in Christ your rest and peace this day. Amen.
London, the 18th of the 12th month, 1684-5
About a month after I got a little out of London, visiting Friends at South-street, Ford-green, and Enfield, where I had meetings. Afterwards I went to Waltham-abbey, and was at a large and peaceful meeting there on a first-day. Then returning through Enfield and around Edmonton-side, I came back to London in the third month to advise and assist Friends in laying their sufferings before the sitting parliament; and we drew up a short account of our sufferings which we had printed and distributed among the parliament-men.
The Yearly Meeting coming on, I was much concerned for Friends that came up to it out of the country, for fear they would meet with any trouble or disturbance in their passage coming or returning; and the worse because about that time a great tumult arose in the nation about the duke of Monmouth's landing in the west. But the Lord, according to his accustomed goodness, was graciously pleased to preserve Friends in safety, and gave us a blessed opportunity to meet together in peace and quietness, and accompanied our meeting with his living, refreshing presence; blessed forever is his holy name!
Considering the hurries that were in the nation, it came upon me at the close of this meeting to write a few lines to Friends, 'to caution all to keep out of the spirit of the world, in which trouble is, and to dwell in the peaceable truth;' as follows:
Dear Friends and Brethren, Whom the Lord has called and chosen in Christ Jesus, your life and salvation, in whom you have rest and peace with God. The Lord by his mighty power which is over all, has preserved and supported you to this day, to be a peculiar holy people to himself, so that by his eternal spirit and power you might be all kept out of the world, for in the world is trouble. In this great day of the Lord God Almighty, he is shaking the heavens and the earth of outward professions, their elements are in a heat, their sun and their moon are darkened, the stars falling, and the mountains and hills shaking and tottering, as it was among the Jews in the days of Christ's appearing. Therefore, dear friends, and brethren, dwell in the seed, Christ Jesus, the rock and foundation, that cannot be shaken; so that you may see with the light and spirit of Christ, that you are like fixed stars in the firmament of God's power; and in this his power and light you will see over all the wandering stars, clouds without water, and trees without fruit. That which may be shaken will be shaken, as will all who have wandered from the firmament of God's power.
Dear Friends and Brethren, you who are redeemed from the death and fall of Adam, by Christ, the second Adam, in him you have life, rest, and peace; for Christ said, "in me you shall have peace, but in the world trouble." And the apostle said, "we who have believed do enter into the rest," namely Christ, who has overcome the world, bruises the serpent's head, destroys the devil and his works, and fulfils the types, figures, and shadows of the Old Testament, and the prophets. In whom the promises are yes and amen; who is the first and last, beginning and ending, the eternal rest. So keep and walk in Christ, your rest, every one that has received him.
Dear Friends and Brethren, whatever stirings and trouble, tumults or outrages, quarrels and strife, arise in the world, keep out of them all; do not concern yourselves with them; but keep in the Lord's power and peaceable truth, that is over all such things; in which power you seek the peace and good of all men. Live in the love that God has shed abroad in your hearts through Christ Jesus; in which love nothing is able to separate you from God and Christ; neither outward sufferings, persecutions, nor any outward thing that is below and without; nor to hinder or break your heavenly fellowship in the light, gospel, and spirit of Christ, nor your holy communion in the holy ghost, that proceeds from the Father and the Son, which leads you into all truth. In this holy ghost, in which is your holy communion, that proceeds from the Father and the Son, you have fellowship with the Father and the Son, and with one another. This is it which links and joins Christ's church or body together to him the heavenly and spiritual head, and in unity in his spirit, which is the bond of peace to all his church, and living members, in whom they have eternal rest and peace in Christ, and with God everlasting, who is to be blessed and praised for ever, Amen!
Dear Friends, do not forsake the assembling of yourselves together, who are gathered in the name of Jesus, your prophet, whom God has raised up in the New Testament, to be heard in all things; who opens to you, and no man can shut, who shuts and no man can open; he is your priest, made higher than the heavens by the power of an endless life; by him you are made a royal priesthood, to offer up to God spiritual sacrifice; He is the bishop of your souls, to oversee you, that you do not go astray from God; he is the good shepherd that has laid down his life for his sheep, and they hear his voice and follow him, and he gives to them eternal life.
Dear Friends and Brethren, abide in Christ the vine, so that you may bring forth fruit to the glory of God. As everyone has received Christ, walk in him, who is not of the world that lies in wickedness; so that you may be preserved out of the vain fashions and customs of the world which satisfy the lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life, which are not of the Father, but of the world that passes away. Whoever joins to that which is not of the Father, or encourages it, draws the mind from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore let Christ rule in your hearts, that your minds, souls, and spirits may be kept out of the vanities of the world in their words, ways, and actions, that you may be a peculiar people, zealous for good works, serving the Lord through Jesus Christ, to the praise and glory of God; that by the word of his grace your words may be gracious, and in your lives and conduct you may show forth righteousness, holiness, and godliness, that God Almighty may be glorified in you all, and through you all, who is above all, blessed and praised for ever. Amen.
London, the 11th of the 4th month, 1685
I wrote several other letters to Friends in several foreign countries from whom I had received letters about the affairs of truth. Which when I had mailed them, I went a little ways out of town because I was exhausted with the heat of the weather, throngs in meetings, and continual business. I went at first to South-street, where I stayed several days. And a great sense entered me of the growth and increase of pride, vanity, and excess in apparel, and that not only among the people of the world, but also too much in some that came among us and seemed to make profession of the truth. Sensing this evil, I decided to write the following as a reproof and check unto.
The apostle Peter said (in 1 Pet 3:3-4) of the women's adorning; "Let it not be (mark, let it not be: this is a positive prohibition) that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in what is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price, for after this manner in old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves."
Here you may see what was the dress of the holy women; which was of great price in the sight of God, which the holy women who trusted in God adorned themselves with. But the unholy women, that trusted not in God, their dress was not a meek and a quiet spirit; they adorned themselves with plaiting the hair, changes of apparel, and wearing of gold, which is forbidden by the apostle in his general epistle to the church of Christ, the true christians.
The apostle Paul said, 1 Tim 2:9-10. "In like manner also that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety, not with broidered hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; but which becomes women professing godliness, with good works." Here you may see what the women were not to adorn themselves with who professed godliness; they were not to adorn themselves with broidered hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; for this was not looked upon to be modest apparel for holy women that professed godliness and good works. But this adorning or apparel is for the immodest, unshamefaced, unsober women that profess not godliness, neither follow those good works that God commands. Therefore it does not become men and women, who profess true Christianity and godliness, to be adorned with gold, or chains, or pearls, or costly array, or with broidered hair; for these things are for the lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh, and pride of life, which is not of the Father. All holy men and women are to mind what is more precious than gold; "being redeemed not with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conduct, but with the precious blood of Christ, as a Lamb without blemish and without spot. Therefore as obedient children to God, not fashioning yourselves according to your former lusts in your ignorance, but as he which has called you is holy, so be you holy in all manner of conversation." 1 Pet 1:14-15.
Christ said, "life is more than food, and the body is more than raiment." Luke 12:23.
I read of a wise moral philosopher, who, upon meeting a woman with her neck and breasts bare, laid his hand upon her and said, "woman, is this flesh for sale?" and she replied, no. "Then pray," said he, "shut up your shop," (meaning her bare breasts and neck.) So they were looked upon as harlots that went with their necks, breasts, and backs bare, and not modest people, even among the moral heathens. Therefore those that profess the knowledge of true Christianity should be ashamed of such things. You may see a book written by the very Papists, and another by Richard Baxter the Presbyterian, against bare breasts and bare backs. They that were but in an outward profession did declare against such things, therefore they who are in the possession of truth and true Christianity should be ashamed of such things. Read, I pray you, the third of Isaiah. There you may see the holy prophet was grieved with the foolish women's vain attire, and was sent by the Lord to reprove them. Envious, persecuting Jezebel, her attired head and bravery, like a painted harlot out of the truth, did not keep her from the judgments of God, when the Lord stirred up Jehu against her. Does not pride go before the fall, and a haughty mind before destruction? "God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble." Solomon said, "The Lord will destroy the house of the proud." Prov 15:25. "For the day of the Lord shall be upon everyone that is proud and lofty, and he shall be brought low." Isa 2:12,Mal 4:1. Therefore take heed of calling the proud happy; for "the Lord will scatter the proud in the imagination of their own hearts, and exalt them of a low degree." You may read in the Revelation 17:4-5. and Rev 18, of the false church, how she was outwardly decked, but full of abomination, and came to a downfall at last. Therefore it is good for all that profess the truth, to use this world and not abuse it; "for the fashion of this world passes away, but the word of the Lord endures for ever. The Lord takes pleasure in his people, he will beautify the meek with salvation." Psalm 149:4. All that know the truth as it is in Jesus, are to be beautified and clothed with this salvation, which salvation is a strong wall or a bulwark against that spirit that would lead you further into the fall from God, into those things which the fallen man and woman delight in, to beautify, or adorn themselves with. Therefore, all that profess the truth, be circumspect, sincere, and fervent, following the Lord Jesus Christ, who is not of this world; in whom you have life and peace with God.
South-street, the 24th of the 4th month, 1685
From Valiant for the Truth:
During the lifetime of George Fox there was no evidence of any disposition to enforce a uniform style of dress among Friends. They were gathered out of all classes of society, from the army, the navy, and the church; from commercial and professional circles; from the farm and the workshop, and from every religious profession in Great Britain. They embraced representatives of every rank, the rich and the poor, the high and the low, the learned and the ignorant, Cavaliers and Roundheads, Churchmen and Dissenters, and they dressed as differently as they naturally would do, under such circumstances.
Before another generation passed away, however, that natural tendency of all human institutions, continually to gravitate earthward [away from the Spirit of God], unless perpetually revived and uplifted by the same Almighty Power which first gives life to them, began to manifest itself in the organization of the Society of Friends.
George Fox had several years before been" gathered to the everlasting rest and joy of his Lord," as the London Meeting testified of him; but his noble wife, Margaret Fox, who had spent several years in various English jails, and had suffered the loss of all for Christ's sake and the gospel, entered her protest against any mere outward uniformity [in dress]. In a letter written from Swarthmore, Fourth Month, 1698, she says:
Dear Friends, Brethren, and Sisters:
God the Father of our blessed Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is a universal God of mercy and love to all people. And in that blessed love he visited us, "in an acceptable time and in a day of salvation, .. " And he that early brought unto us the glad tidings of the gospel of peace, [namely George Fox], continued in the body among God's plantation up and down forty years; and we had from him certain directions and instructions upon many weighty accounts and occasions. He has left us several writings and records, to be practiced according to the gospel which he preached amongst us; and we have lived under the teaching of that blessed eternal Spirit of the eternal God, which he directed us to, unto this day. And now it is good for us all to go on and continue hand in hand in the unity and fellowship of this eternal Spirit, in humility and lowliness of mind, each esteeming others better than ourselves; and this is well pleasing unto God.
And let us all take heed of touching anything like the ceremonies of the Jews; for that was displeasing unto Christ, for he came to bear witness against them, and testified against their outside practices, who told them of their long robes and of their broad phylacteries, (Mat 23:5)... [Beware of the scribes, which desire to walk in long robes, and love greetings in the markets ... the same shall receive greater damnation. (Luke 20:46-50). But all their works they do to be seen by men.] So that we may see how ill he liked their outward ceremonies. So let us keep to the rule and leading of the eternal Spirit, that God has given us to be our teacher. Let that put on and off as is meet [proper] and serviceable for every one's state and condition. Let us take heed of limiting that, neither practices is safe for us. For we are under the Gospel leading, guiding and teaching, which is a free spirit, which leads into unity; lowliness of mind the saints and servants of Christ, desiring to be established in the free Spirit, not bound or limited. Legal ceremonies are far from gospel freedom. Let us beware of being guilty or having a hand in ordering or contriving what is contrary to gospel freedom; for the Apostle would not have dominion over their faith in Corinth, but to be helpers of their faith. It's a dangerous thing to lead young Friends much into the observation of outward things, which may be easily done; for they can soon get into an outward garb, to be all alike outwardly, but this will not make them Christians: it's the Spirit that gives life; I would be loath to have a hand in these things. The Lord preserve us, that we do no hurt to God's work; but let him work whose work it is. We have lived quietly and peaceably thus far, and it's not for God's service to make breaches.
Swarthmore Hall, 4th Month, 1698
Margaret's last letter of her life was a second plea to the Quakers of the day, who were sinking deeper and deeper into the pit of uniformity in dress, and now color. It is available for reading on this site. Despite the multiple warnings of Margaret Fox in 1698/1700, the Irish, English, and American Quakers had established an unwritten uniformity of dress required of their members; as Margaret Fox warned them, they entered spiritual death, believing that dress contributed to their righteousness, thus slipping into a form of the original Quaker denial of superfluous ribbons, solid gold braiding, and dysfunctional gingerbread on clothing. In 1752, from Amsterdam, Samuel Neale wrote to Richard Shackleton regarding the Quakers in Holland, "there is no conformity of dress in the professors here, which is peculiar to the simplicity of the gospel; I hope the labor bestowed on them, as it comes from the fountain of all good, will so operate with the gift in them, as to bring them to a sense of their error." Unfortunately the supposed error of the Dutch was the log in the eye of the entire English-speaking Quaker movement. It is evident the bulk of the Quaker movement was void of the Spirit of God's leading around 1730. (See the Quaker Departure for the Truth for more.) Uniformity of dress is a clear violation of Christian freedom; moderation yes, modesty yes; but not uniformity, particularly to a past time's fashion. Fox and the Early Quakers would never have dressed in robes, the dress of holy men in centuries past, so as to look holy, so as to rely on clothes to be their badge of religion; to the contrary, their badge of religion was in the moderation of their conversation and conduct, the fruit of the Holy Spirit, by which the Lord told us to judge a man. Neither would they have worn a cross to display their godliness.
After some weeks I returned to London. Among other services that I found there, one was to assist in drawing up a testimony to clear our friends of being concerned in the late rebellion in the west, and from all plots against the government; which accordingly was done, and delivered to the chief justice, who was then to go into the west with commission to try prisoners
I tarried some time in London, visiting meetings, and laboring among Friends in the service of truth. But finding my health much impaired for want of fresh air, I went to Charles Bathurst's country-house at Epping-forest, where I stayed a few days. There it came upon me to write the following epistle to Friends:
Who are called, chosen and faithful in this day of trial, temptations, and sufferings, whom the Lord by his right hand has upheld in all your sufferings (and some to death) for the Lord and his truth's sake. Christ said, "Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world; in me you have peace, but in the world you have trouble." The children of the seed, which are heirs of the kingdom, know this is true. And though you have trials by false brethren, Judases, and sons of perdition, that have gotten into the temple of God, and exalted above all that is called God, whom the Lord will destroy with the breath of his mouth and the brightness of his coming; and though you be tried by powers and principalities, yet there is nothing able to separate you from the love of God which you have in Christ Jesus. In that love dwell, which c and fulfils the law; in which edify one another, and be courteous, kind, and humble; for to such God gives his grace plentifully, such he teaches. And pray in the Holy Ghost, which proceeds from the Father and the Son; in it keep your Holy Communion and unity in the spirit, in the bond of peace, which is the King of kings' heavenly peace. In that you are all bound to good behavior, to keep peace among yourselves, to seek the peace of all men, and to show forth the heavenly, gentle, and peaceable wisdom to all, in righteousness and truth, answering the good in all people in your lives and conversations, (for the Lord is glorified in your bringing forth spiritual fruit) , that you may eye and behold the Lord in all your actions, that the blessings of the Lord you may all feel to rest upon you. Whether you are the Lord's prisoners for his name and truth's sake, or at liberty, in all things labor to he content, for that is a continual feast; and let no trouble move you; then you will be as mount Zion, that cannot be removed. In all things exercise the word of patience, which word will sanctify all things to you. Study to be quiet, and do the Lord's business that he requires of you, (and your own), in truth and righteousness. Whatever you do, let it be done to the praise and glory of God in the name of Jesus Christ. All who make God's people suffer make the seed suffer in their own particulars, and imprison the just there. Such will not visit the seed in themselves, but cast it into prison in others, and do not visit it in prison. You may read that Christ said, "all such must go into everlasting punishment." That is a sad punishment and prison. Such become apostates and backsliders, who crucify to themselves Christ afresh, put him to open shame, trample under feet the blood of the Son of God by which they were cleansed, and come to be unclean. Such grieve, vex, quench, and rebel against the spirit of God in themselves, and then they rebel against those who walk in the spirit of God. Such are unfaithful to God and man, and are enemies to every good work and service of God ; but their end will be according to their works, who are like the earth that has often received rain, but brings forth briers and thorns, which are to be rejected, and are for the fire. Therefore, dear friends, in all your sufferings feel the Lord's eternal arm and power, which has supported you to this day, and will support you to the end, as your faith stands in it, and as you are settled upon the rock and foundation Christ Jesus, that cannot be removed, in whom you have life and peace with God. The Lord God Almighty, in him, give you dominion, and preserve you all to his glory, that in all your sufferings you may feel his presence, and that, when you have finished your testimony, you may receive the crown of glory which God has laid up for them that fear and serve him, Amen.
The 15th of the 7th month, 1685