The Missing Cross to Purity


The Journal of George Fox - 1655 - 1656 - Further Ministry and Lancaster Jail <page 4 >


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We were held in prison until the next assize; before which time many Friends, both men and women, were sent to prison, who had been taken by the watches. When the assize arrived, several of these were called before the judge and indicted; and though the jailer brought them into court, yet they indicted them that they had come in 'by force of arms, and in a hostile manner;' and the judge fined them, because they would not put off their hats. But we were not called before the judges any more.

We had great work and service for the Lord, both between the assizes and after, among professors and people of all sorts: for many came to see and reason with us. As before mentioned Elizabeth Trelawny of Plymouth, (daughter of one called a baronet), has been convinced of the truth; the priests, professors, and some great persons of her kindred were exasperated, and wrote letters to her. Being a wise and tender woman and who feared to give them any advantage, she sent their letters to me; which I answered and returned them to her again for her to send the answers to them, which she did; until growing in the power, spirit, and wisdom of God, she was herself  able to answer the wisest priest and professor of them all; and she had dominion over them in the truth, through the power of the Lord, by which she was kept faithful to her death.

While I was in prison here, the Baptists and fifth-monarchy-men prophesied, that this year Christ should come, and reign upon earth a thousand years. And they looked upon this reign to be outward; when he had come inwardly in the hearts of his people to reign and rule; these believers would not receive him in their hearts . So they failed in their prophecy and expectation, and did not have the possession of him. But Christ has come, and does dwell and reign in the hearts of his people. Thousands, at the door of whose hearts he has been knocking, have opened to him; and he has come in, and does sup with them, and they with him; the heavenly supper with the heavenly and spiritual man. So many of these Baptists and monarchy-people became the greatest enemies to the followers of Christ, but he reigns in the hearts of his saints over all their envy.
 
At the assize several justices came to us and were pretty civil as they soberly reasoned about the things of God and expressing a pity to us. Captain Fox, governor of Pendennis castle, also came and looked me in the face, and never said a word; but went to his company, and told them, 'he never saw a simpler man in his life.' I called after him, and said, ‘Stay, man, we will see who is the simpler man.' But he went his way, a light chaffy person.

Thomas Lower also came to visit us, and offered us money, which we refused; nevertheless accepting his love. He asked us many questions concerning our denying the scriptures to be the word of God; concerning the sacraments, and such like; to all which he received satisfaction. I spoke particularly to him, and he afterwards said, my words were as a flash of lightning, they ran so through him. He said, he never met with such wise men in his life, for they knew the thoughts of his heart; and were as the wise master-builders of the assemblies, that fastened their words like nails. He came to be convinced of the truth, and remains a Friend to this day. When he went home to his aunt Hambley's, where he then lived, and made report to her concerning us; she, with her sister Grace Billing, hearing the report of truth, came to visit us in prison, and they were convinced also. Both he and his aunt have undergone great sufferings and seizures of property for the truth's sake.

About this time I was moved to give forth the following exhortation to Friends in the ministry:

Friends,

Dwell in the power of life and wisdom, and dread of the Lord God of life, and heaven and earth; that in the wisdom of God you may be preserved over all; and be a terror to all the adversaries of God, and a dread, answering that of God in them all, spreading the truth abroad, awakening the witness, confounding the deceit, gathering up out of transgression into the life, to the covenant of light and peace with God. Let all nations hear the sound by word or writing. Spare no place, spare no tongue, nor pen; but be obedient to the Lord God. Go through the work, be valiant for the truth upon earth, and tread and trample upon all that is contrary. You have the power, do not abuse it; and the strength and presence of the Lord; eye it, and the wisdom; that with it you may all be ordered to the glory of the Lord God. Keep in the dominion; keep in the power over all deceit; tread over them in what lets you see to the world's end, and the utmost parts of the earth. Reign and rule with Christ, whose scepter and throne are now set up, whose dominion is over all to the ends of the earth; whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, his throne an everlasting throne, his kingdom an everlasting kingdom, his power above all powers. Therefore this is the word of the Lord to you all, "Keep in the wisdom of God," that spreads over all the earth; the wisdom of the creation that is pure from above, not destructive. For now shall salvation go out of Zion, to judge the mount of Esau; now shall the law go forth from Jerusalem, to answer the principle of God in all; to hew down all inventors and inventions. For all the princes of the earth are but as air to the power of the Lord God, which you are in and have tasted of. Therefore live in it, that is the word of the Lord God to you all. Do not abuse it; keep down and low; and take heed of false joys, that will change. Bring all into the worship of God. Plough up the fallow ground.

Thresh and get out the corn; that the seed, the wheat, may be gathered into the barn; that to the beginning all people may come; to Christ, who was before the world was made. For the chaff has come upon the wheat by transgression. He that treads the wheat out from the chaff is not of the transgression; but he understands the transgression, puts a difference between the precious and the vile, can pick out the wheat from the weeds, and gathers the wheat into the garner. So he brings the lively hope to the immortal soul and the immortal soul back to God from which it came. None can worship God but who come to the principle of God, which they have transgressed. None are ploughed up but he who comes to the principle of God in him that he has transgressed. Then he does service to God; then is the planting, watering, and increase from God. So the ministers of the spirit must minister to the spirit that is in prison, which has been in captivity in everyone; that with the spirit of Christ people may be led out of captivity up to God, the Father of spirits, to serve him, and have unity with him, with the scriptures, and one with another. This is the word of the Lord God to you all, a charge to you all in the presence of the living God; be patterns, be examples in all countries, places, islands, nations, wherever you come; that your life and conduct may preach among all sorts of people, and to them. Then you will come to walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in everyone; whereby in them you may be a blessing, and make the witness of God in them to bless you; then to the Lord God you shall be a sweet savor, and a blessing.

Spare no deceit. Lay the sword upon it; go over it. Keep yourselves clear of the blood of all men, either by word or writing, and keep yourselves clean, that you may stand in your throne, and every one have his lot and stand in the lot in the ancient of days. The blessing of the Lord be with you, and keep you over all the idolatrous worships and worshippers. Let them know the living God; for teachings, churches, worships must be thrown down with the power of the Lord God, set up by man's earthly understanding, knowledge, and will. All this must be thrown down with what gave forth the scripture; and who are in that, reign over it all. That is the word of the Lord God to you all. In that is God worshipped, that brings to declare his will, and brings to the church in God, the ground and pillar of truth: for now has the mighty day of the Lord appeared, and the arrows of the Almighty have gone forth; which shall stick in the hearts of the wicked. Now will I arise, said the Lord God Almighty, to trample and thunder down deceit, which has long reigned and stained the earth. Now will I have my glory out of everyone. The Lord God Almighty over all, in his strength and power keep you to his glory, that you may come to answer that of God in everyone in the world. Proclaim the mighty day of the Lord of fire and sword, who will be worshipped in spirit and in truth; and keep in the life and power of the Lord God, that the inhabitants of the earth may tremble before you; that God's power and majesty may be admired among hypocrites and heathen, and you in the wisdom, dread, life, terror, and dominion preserved to his glory; that nothing may rule or reign but power and life itself, and in the wisdom of God you may be preserved in it. This is the word of the Lord God to you all. The call is now to come out of transgression, the spirit bids, come. The call is now from all false worships and gods, from all inventions and dead works, to serve the living God. The call is to repentance, to amendment of life, whereby righteousness may be brought forth, which shall go throughout the earth. Therefore you that be chosen and faithful, who are with the Lamb, go through your work faithfully in the strength and power of the Lord, and be obedient to the power; for that will save you out of the hands of unreasonable men, and preserve you over the world to himself. Hereby you may live in the kingdom that stands in power, which has no end; where glory and life is.

George Fox

After the assize the sheriff and some soldiers came to conduct a woman to execution who was sentenced to die; and we had a great deal of discussion with them. One of them wickedly said, 'Christ was as passionate a man as any that lived upon the earth.' For which wicked saying we rebuked him. Another time we asked the jailer, what cases were being heard at the sessions? The jailer said "small matters, only about thirty for bastardy." We thought it very strange that they, who professed themselves christians, should treat this so lightly. But this jailer was very evil himself. I often admonished him to sobriety; but he would abuse people that came to visit us. Edward Pyot had a cheese sent to him by his wife from Bristol; and the jailer took the cheese from him, and carried it to the mayor, to search it for treasonable letters, as he said; and though they found no treason in the cheese, they kept it from us. This jailer might have been rich, if he had carried himself civilly; but he sought his own ruin, which soon after he experienced; for the next year he was turned out of his place, and for some wickedness was cast into the jail himself; and there he begged from our friends. And for some unruliness in his carriage he was put into Doomsdale, by the succeeding jailer locked in irons, beaten, and bid to them to 'Remember how he had abused those good men, whom he had wickedly, without any cause, cast into that nasty prison;' and told, ‘that now he deservedly should suffer for his wickedness, and the same measure he had meted to others, he should have meted out to himself.' He became very poor and died in prison. His wife and family came to misery.

While I was in prison at Lanceston, a Friend went to Oliver Cromwell, and offered himself, body for body, to lie in Doomsdale in my stead, if he would take him, and set me at liberty. Which thing so struck him, that he said, to his great men and council, 'Which of you would do so much for me, if I were in the same condition?' And though he did not accept of the Friend's offer, but said, 'he could not do it, for it was contrary to law;' yet the truth thereby came mightily over him. {The letter to Fox from the Friend who volunteered out of love to take his place follows:

Humphrey Norton to George Fox 1656

Dear George Fox:

You, whose beauty and comliness in words cannot be expressed. I am moved to write this and freely give up myself from the love of the seed; and the love of the seed which lies upon you, to place before you this message. On the 17th of last month, I had been waiting on the Lord. In my life, you appeared. Since then, it has been heavy on me to to do something that would touch you; and now my drawings are to this place where I now am. Since you are Oliver's prisoner, I am now required to offer to him my body for your body in prison, and I am prepared to do this even though it could lead to my blood. If you receive my offer within this letter, see that this offers stands with wisdom, and let me have the sum of your unjust sufferings and monetary fine to present before him, so that he will have no excuse, and I will be clear of what is required of me. You are dear and chosen; let me hear from you, for I see the great need of yourself to be free. I was one of the first to be at Swarthmore, and in those meetings there were many speakers and prayers, and a singing that was unlike any I have ever heard; and likwise the enlightenment among them, which I saw and felt. I feel the need to lay this before you and James Naylor, both of you being sufficeint for these things, (and the cause of them and the difference at and about Kendall). The want of your showing forth unto Israel lies upon me. Until I hear from you, who with unfeigned words, am prepared to lay down my life of that
                        which I Humphrey Norton, in the will of the Father,
                        and by his power, am ready to do the before mentioned.
London this 4th 2nd
         month (1656)
}

Site Editor's Comment: 149 Quakers also sent a letter to Parliament offering to replace their suffering brothers in prison. This is a remarkable offer of love and self-sacrifice, available for reading on this site.

A good while after this he sent down major-general Desborough pretending to set us at liberty. When we met with him, he offered us liberty if we would say, 'we would go home and preach no more;' but we could not promise him that. Then he urged that we should promise 'to go home if the Lord permitted:' whereupon Edward Pyot wrote him this following letter:

To major-general Desborough

Friend, Though much might be said as to the liberty of Englishmen to travel in any part of England, it being as the Englishman's house by the law, and he to be protected in any part of it; and if he transgress the law, the penalty upon the transgressor is to be inflicted. And as to the liberty of conscience, which is a natural right, and a fundamental, and the exercise of it by those who profess faith in God by Jesus Christ, it is to be protected, as by the instrument of government appears, though they differ in doctrine, worship, and discipline; provided the liberty extend not to Popery, or prelacy, nor to licentiousness. Where these rights are denied us, our liberties are infringed, which are the price of much blood and treasure in the late wars. Yet we are in the power of God over all by which all are to be ruled; and in it we dwell, and by it alone are we guided to do the will of God; whose will is free, and we walk by the power in the freedom of his will, either as it commands or permits us without any condition or enforcement regarding it by men; for we must follow as the power moves us, either by command or permission. And although we cannot promise or make a condition to go anywhere in the area, or to do this or that thing, if the Lord permit, (for that would be doing the will of man by God's permission), yet it is likely that we will pass through these parts of the country in the liberty of the will of God, as we may be severally moved and guided by the pure power, and not because of our necessity. When we were apprehended, we were committed to God as we were traveling in direction of our homes; and, as far as I know, we might leave, if the prison doors were commanded to be opened, and we were freed of our bonds. If we were to stay, after the Lord had command us to go; or if we would go after the Lord had commanded us to stay; or having no command to stay, but being permitted to leave here, the pure power moving us to do so, but instead we stay; or if we go, when as before we commanded to stay; indeed, we would then be vagabonds; for vagabonds are those who depart from the will and power of God and travel anywhere in their own wills and earthly minds. And so, in the fear of the Lord God, weigh and consider well, with the just weight and just balance, that you may provide justice to the just and innocent in prison.

Edward Pyot

Some time having passed after the foregoing was delivered to him, and he not having given any order for our discharge, I also wrote to him as follows:

To major-general Desborough


Friend,

We who are in the power of God, the ruler of all, the upholder of all things, and know and dwell in his power, to it we must be obedient; which brings us to stand out of all men's wills without limitation. To say, "We will if the Lord permit," may be done in a case of buying and selling to get gain, if the intent is to do so ; but we are standing in the power of God to do his will and are out of man's will. If man propose, "We shall be freed if we will say something, and we will go to our homes, if the Lord permit, or if it be the will of God;" and because we cannot say these words in this case, we shall not have our liberty, because we know that the will of God is different in that we are  required to "go to speak at some other place:" here we cannot say these words truly. For to say, "we will go to our homes, if it be according to the will of God," when we know the will of God is otherwise; is impossible for us to do, truly and clearly. Neither can any man say such to him, that requires it of him; who stands in the power and knows the power of God to lead him, according to God's will, and it leads him to another place than his outward home. But the son of God, who came to do and did the will of God, had no place to lay his head; and the apostles, and many of the followers of Christ, had no certain dwelling place. Now if apostles should have been restrained, because they could not say they were going home, if it were the will of God and they knew it was the will of God they should not go home, and they could do the will of God in doing so, and therefore could not speak those words to satisfy man's mind and will, would not such restraint have been evil! Abraham could not do the will of God unless he left his native country; and who are of faith are of Abraham, of whom Christ came according to the flesh. Now, if you allege, "This is to let all loose and at liberty to idleness," I say, no: such as are in the power of God, who do the will of God, come to receive his wisdom, by which all his creatures were created, and by which they are used to his glory. This I shall say, whoever are moved by the Lord God of glory and power to go to their outward habitations, such of us may go to our outward homes; and there be diligent in serving the Lord, that they may be a blessing from God in their generation; diligently serving him in life and doctrine, in manners, in conversation, in all things. And who are moved of the Lord to go to any other place, we standing in his will, and being moved by his power, which comprehends all things, and is not to be limited, we shall do his will which we are commanded to do. So the Lord God open your understandings, that you may see this great power of the Lord, which he is now manifesting among his children in this his day; that you may not withstand it in our friends, who have come into the power of God, and to God, and know him by whom the world was made, by whom all things were created that were created, and there was not anything made but what was made for him, and to him, and by him; who is the power of God, and does enlighten every man that comes into the world. Now our Friends being come to this light which comes from Christ, and having received power from him by whom all things were created, to whom all power in heaven and earth is given, who is the wisdom of God; we have received wisdom and power from him, by which the Lord does give us to know how to use and order the creatures to the glory of him, the creator of all things. So our Friends here are taught of the Lord to be diligent, serving him; and who come into the life, the scriptures were given forth from, are given up to serve the Lord. Of this I have in all your consciences a witness. So, if you open the prison door, we shall not stay there. If you send a liberate, and set us free, we shall not stay in prison; for Israel is to go out free, whose freedom is purchased by the power of God and the blood of Jesus. But who goes out of the power of God looses his freedom.

George Fox And the rest who are sufferers for the truth in Lanceston jail

The 13th of the 6th month, 1656.

After this major Desborough came to the castle-green, and played at bowls with the justices and others. Several Friends were moved to go, and admonish him and them against 'spending time so vainly;' desiring them to consider, 'that though they professed themselves to be christians, yet they gave themselves up to their pleasures, and meanwhile they kept the servants of God in prison.' Friends also told them, 'the Lord would plead with them, and visit them for such things.' But notwithstanding what was written or said to him, he went away and left us in prison. Yet we understood afterwards that he delegated any decision to colonel Bennet, who had the command of the jail. For some time after Bennet offered to set us at liberty, if we would pay his jailer's fees. But we told him, 'we could not give the jailer fees, for we were innocent sufferers; and how could they expect fees from us when we had wrongfully suffered so long?' After a while colonel Bennet came to town and sent for us to come to an inn, and he again insisted on fees, which we refused. At last the power of the Lord came so over him, that the thirteenth of the Seventh-month, 1656, we were set at liberty. We had been prisoners nine weeks at the first assize, called the lent assize, in the spring of the year.

While I was a prisoner here, I observed how much the people, (especially those who were called the gentry), were addicted to pleasures and vain recreations; and I was moved, before I left the place, to issue several papers as a warning to them, and to all that so misspent their time. One of which was thus:

This to go abroad among those, who are given to pleasures and wantonness.

The sins of Sodom and Gomorrah were pride, fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness. Their filthy conversation vexed the righteous soul of just Lot day by day, and they would not take warning; on whom God therefore sent fire and turned them into ashes. And in spiritual Sodom and Egypt was our Lord Jesus Christ crucified; and it is written, "The people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play; with whom God was not well pleased, and there fell three and twenty thousand in one day." These the apostle commanded the saints they should not follow; for these things happened to them for examples, and are written for our admonition. And God spared not the old world; but reserving Noah, a preacher of righteousness, brought the flood upon the world of the ungodly, making them an example to all that after should live ungodly. Mark, you ungodly ones, who are as natural brute beasts, who speak great swelling words of vanity, alluring through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, as they that count it pleasure to riot in the day time, sporting yourselves with your own deceivings; you shall receive the reward of unrighteousness. You are as dogs and swine, turned to the vomit, and wallowing in the mire, speaking evil of things that you know not; and unless you repent, you shall utterly perish in your own corruptions. You have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton. You have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter. You have condemned and killed the just, and he does not resist you. Go to, weep and howl for the misery that is coming upon you. She that lives in pleasures, is dead while she lives, God condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, making them an example to all those that after should live ungodly, in the wicked, filthy conduct; mark, here is your example. Hear this you that are given to pleasures, and read your examples.

George Fox

Another, upon my taking notice of the bowlers that came to sport in the castle-green, was as follows:

The word of the Lord to all you vain and idle minded people, who are lovers of sports, pleasures, foolish exercises, and recreations, as you call them; consider of your ways, and what it is you are doing. Was this the end of your creation? Did God make all things for you, and you to serve your lusts and pleasures? Did not the Lord make all things for you, and you for himself, to fear and worship him in spirit and in truth, in righteousness and true holiness? But where is your service of God, so long as your hearts run after lusts and pleasures? You cannot serve God and the foolish pleasures of the world, as bowling, drinking, hunting, hawking, and the like. If these have your hearts, God will not have your lips. Consider, for it is true. Therefore, from the Lord must you all witness woe and misery, tribulation and wrath, who continue in the love and practice of your vain sports, lusts, and pleasures. Now is the day, when all every where are exhorted to repentance. 0h foolish people, wicked and slow of heart to believe the threats of the great Jehovah against the wicked! What will you do in the day of the Lord's fierce wrath that makes haste to come upon the world of ungodly men! What good have your foolish sports and delights done you, now they are past? Or what good will they do you, when the Lord calls for your souls? Therefore, all now awake from sleep, and see where you are; and let the light of Jesus Christ, that shines in everyone of your consciences, search you thoroughly, and it will let you clearly see, for all your profession of God, Christ, and the scriptures, you are ignorant of them, and enemies to them all, and your own souls also; and being found living in pleasures, you are dead while you live. Therefore does the Lord by many messengers forewarn you, and calls you to repentance and deep humiliation; that you may forsake the evil of your doings, own this day of your visitation, and while you have time prize it; for fear that the things which belong to your peace be hid from your eyes for your disobedience and rebellion against the Holy One. And then it had been good that you never had been born: repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Again I say, repent!

Given forth in Lanceston Jail, in Cornwall
To the bowlers in the green.

Being released, we got horses and rode towards Humphry Lower's where met him on the road. He told us, 'he was very troubled in his mind about us, and could not rest at home; but instead was on his way to colonel Bennet to seek our liberty.' When we told him, 'we had been given liberty and were going to his house,' he was exceedingly glad. We went to his house, and had a fine, precious meeting; many were convinced and turned by the spirit of the Lord to the Lord Jesus Christ's teaching.

From his house we went to Loveday Hambley's, where also we had a fine large meeting. The Lord's power was over all; many were also convinced there and turned to the Lord Jesus Christ, their teacher.

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