The Missing Cross to Purity

A Biography



Site Editor's Preface

This biography is included to provide a record of the life of William Penn, America's most famous Quaker, and somewhat of a curiosity to many Americans, particularly Pennsylvanians. Penn was a statesman and eminent Christian minister, who uniquely conquered a wilderness without a gun, who established peace with the indigenous peoples through kindness and love, and who founded a government whose principles formed the foundation of the US Constitution and government. He was a champion of the Indian, the negro slaves, women's rights, education for children, penal reform, individual rights, freedom of religion, and Christian virtue. Penn's choice was to spend his time in Pennsylvania, but he was mainly forced to govern Pennsylvania from a distance while he relieved injustices to Quakers in England. He had a deep love for both America and England, but greatly preferred his days in America. This is a unique accounting of Penn's secular accomplishments and trials, while showing the depth of his Christian ministry and commitment. Four biographies have been compiled, including several quotes from other earlier biographies. The four are: Rupert S. Holland' s Penn, Sydney G. Fisher's True Penn, Maria Webb's, Penns and Peningtons, and Passages from the Life and Writings of William Penn. I have modernized the language and added explanations of the Quaker faith, where appropriate.

Holland and Fisher, while apparently good at reciting natural history, showed a fundamental misunderstanding of the early Quaker spiritual movement and doctrine; Holland even seriously likened the Quakers to the Puritans, their greatest persecutors and murderers. The Puritans worked hard to avoid anything they considered sinful, while the Quakers walked in love, according to how they were instructed by their inner teacher, Christ; so the Puritans focus was avoiding sin, while the Quakers focus was to be obedient and pleasing to their Beloved. They were two entirely different spirits: one harsh and judgmental, the other loving and obedient; one focused on outward law, the other focused on inward love. Yet, many from the world, saw and see them both the same. For example, the Puritans said playing cards was a sin; while the Quakers said it was a waste of time which could be spent in seeking to hear and obey their Beloved.

Many of the historical accounts of Penn's life seem to focus on the misfortunes in his life, and frequently attribute blame; particularly those secular writers who seem to have no understanding of the fundamentals of the Quaker faith and no appreciation for the tireless efforts of Penn in his ministering. They seem to be fond of searching for feet of clay. The main areas of attack on his record are:

1. Criticism: He held slaves in Pennsylvania. Answer: True, but he freed them all, (190 years before the Civil War), giving them their own land so they could make a living on it; and he worked hard in the colonial legislature to outlaw slavery in Pennsylvania, while being successful in convincing the other Pennsylvania Quaker slave holders to free their slaves too.

2. Criticism: He played politics with his friend James II. Answer: He was the lone lobbyist for the Quakers, effecting many pardons by the King including one that resulted in the freedom of 1300 Quakers from prison, some who had been in prison for 12-15 years for failure to swear or pay tithes; the few years before, 500 had died in prison. He did not relish his lobbying; stating throughout his writings, he strongly wished to be back in Pennsylvania.

3. Criticism: He went into hiding when King William succeeded his friend King James, and he was twice implicated in plots to restore James. Answer: The accounts differ. One states that he repeatedly went to King William and convinced him he had no part in any of the plots; but since, the council was suspicious of Penn, he was confined to his home for several years, and his property was confiscated. One person who implicated him was a previous bitter enemy, another was a later convicted perjurer by Parliament. Whatever, all his property was restored and his return to normal public life was approved by the King and Queen; such approval being very unlikely if he had been guilty, or was even hiding while innocent.

4. Criticism: He went to prison for debt. Answer: Anytime a debt could not be paid, imprisonment could be forced. Late in life, his debt was fabricated by a dishonest subordinate in Pennsylvania, who although a professed Quaker, refused Quaker arbitration and went to the civil courts, forcing Penn's imprisonment. Penn was unable to pay and stay out of prison, because he had exhausted all of his fortune in the support of Pennsylvania. He spent nine months in prison, finally being freed by his sympathetic Friends, paying off the debt to secure his release. If he was guilty of anything, he was guilty of having too much trust for his fellow man.

5. Criticism: He was a hypocrite, preaching a simple life while he lived in luxury. They criticized his home in Pennsylvania, criticized the size of his stable, his boat equipped for four oarsmen, and that he had a coach with four horses in London when lobbying the court of King James, etc. Answer: Everything he had was necessary for his occupations: the Governor of Pennsylvania was expected to host great numbers of people in his home; he could be hardly expected to row himself as he traveled by boat along the rivers of colonial America, where the major cities of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Maryland, etc., were located; and he had a coach with horses in London because it was necessary for the busy life he led as a Quaker minister and an advisor to King James. From the Word of the Lord within: "It is no sin to enjoy the comforts of life necessary for your occupation."

All of these criticisms are from people who appear to be grasping at anything to reduce the stature of Penn, probably out of envy and to assuage their own guilt of conscience, when measuring the breadth of Penn's accomplishments and integrity.

From The True Penn by Sidney George Fisher, speaking of Penn's qualifications as a secular authority of history:

Penn knew something of Latin, and corresponded in that tongue with Sewel the Quaker historian. He also studied Greek, as a matter of course, like any Oxford man, and he seems to have known French, German, and Dutch well enough to read and speak in them. [He also learned the languages of several Indian tribes in Pennsylvania]. He read widely on theology, government, and all the topics of his time, as is abundantly shown in his writings. But the most striking proof of his wide reading is to be found in some of his essays or pamphlets, to which he has added quotations and citations of all the ancient and modern authors that he could find in support of his theses. In his Treatise of Oaths, there are over fifty instances in which he either quotes the words or states the opinion of some Greek or Roman philosopher or statesman, or of some saint or father of the church. In the second part of No Cross, No Crown, there are over one hundred and thirty of these instances, and they range from the most remote antiquity through the days of Greece and Rome, and the distinguished men of the Middle Ages, down to the men of his own day in England. The labor of hunting for these in the libraries of the time must have been very great, and he could not have collected such masses for the particular occasions on which he used them, unless he was already somewhat acquainted with them in a general way. It is easy to see in his life and character that he was inspired by this labor. He loved great and noble thoughts, grand ideas of world-wide improvement and reform. This passion led him to read the lives of all who had been remarkable, and their soul stirring words, the enthusiasm of their success, or the heroism of failure or defeat, stimulated to still loftier heights the passion that had led him to this study. He was evidently one of those who study history largely through biographies; and if one wishes to be aroused and inspired, that is certainly the best method to pursue. From his natural bent, and these studies, he had filled his mind with all the most progressive and philanthropic ideas that had been suggested in the whole course of written human history. He knew all the distinguished men in England of his day; and many of them he knew very intimately. He traveled, both in England and in foreign countries, more than most people of that time. He was born and educated among the aristocracy, and always associated with them freely; and, as a Quaker, he became very intimate with the middle and lower classes.

Fisher's admirable curiosity did not fail him to give credit to Penn's visible secular accomplishments, which were mighty:

The Indians of Pennsylvania had often before and often after heard fair promises. But Penn kept his, not merely in his own opinion or in the opinion of his followers, but in the opinion of the Indians. He lived in their wigwams and learned their languages. As ten, fifteen, twenty, and thirty years rolled by, and the Indians found every word of the treaty fulfilled by Mignon, as the Delaware tribe called him, or Onas, as he was called by the Iroquois, the fame of the one white man and Christian who could keep his faith with the savage spread far and wide, and the savage sent his fame across the Atlantic. What Penn had described, when planning Pennsylvania, as a Holy Experiment, became reality. Living in loving peace with the Indians left the people of Pennsylvania free for productive pursuits, while their neighboring colonies were depleted through their constant wars with their Indian populations. Through this peace and the ethics of the Quakers, the relatively young colony of Pennsylvania quickly surpassed their older neighboring colonies.

In France and on the continent of Europe the great men and writers seized upon The Holy Experiment of Pennsylvania as the most remarkable occurrence of the age. To these men, brought up under Roman version of Christianity and accustomed to the atrocities and horrors inflicted by Cortes and Pizarro on the natives of South America, the thought of a Christian keeping his promise inviolate for forty years with heathen Indians was idealism realized. It was like refreshment in a great weary desert. Who was the man, and what strange sort of Christian was he that he kept his word with the heathen; that he had done what had never been done before, and what it was supposed never would be done? Voltaire was delighted, and from that time he loved the Quakers; and even thought of going to Pennsylvania to live among them.

Penn stood alone and supreme, and, so far as the United States is concerned, he has stood alone ever since. No one of us, certainly not our government at Washington, has ever kept its faith with the Indians for a stretch of forty years. Yet neither Penn nor the Friends associated with him were conscious of doing anything more than what simple Christian morality and human brotherhood required.

He urged the Pennsylvania settlers to make their prisons not merely places of restraint but workhouses and reformatories, and as a result Pennsylvania prisons were far better managed than those in other colonies. He introduced the custom of having a night watchman go through the streets, calling out the hour, the state of the weather, and any news of interest. In many ways he improved conditions, showing that he had a real genius for governing and an intense desire to make his province an ideal place in which to live. Penn freed all his slaves in Pennsylvania, (190 years before the Civil War), and fought hard in the Pennsylvania legislature to have slavery outlawed, meanwhile encouraging the rest of the Pennsylvania Quakers to free their slaves voluntarily, which they soon did.

In 1688, under the urging and leadership of Penn, Pennsylvania passed an anti-slavery resolution in their colonial governing body, initiating slavery's long demise in America. Penn's ideals even influenced the United States Constitution in its separation of powers, the separation of Church and State, and the United States Bill of Rights. William Penn's Frame of Government for Pennsylvania implemented a democratic system with full freedom of religion, freedom from unjust imprisonment, fair trials, elected representatives of the people in power, and a separation of powers. Ahead of his time, Penn also submitted a written plan for a United States of Europe.

Penn's views in relation to the punishment and prevention of crime, were in accordance with the benevolent dictates of Christianity. The reformation of criminals, no less than the protection of society, should be the object of punitive justice; but, under the barbarous code then existing throughout Europe, vengeance seemed to be the main object in view, and public executions were fearfully numerous. "They weakly err," observes William Penn, "who think there is no other use of government than correction, which is the coarsest part of it." To provide the means of a good education for every child, and to see that all are taught some good trade or profession, would do more for the promotion of peace and happiness than all the machinery of courts and prisons. The principles that actuated the Friends who emigrated to Pennsylvania and the other American provinces, are set forth in a contemporary publication, called the Planter's Speech made by Penn, as follows:

"The motives of our retreating to these new habitations I apprehend to have been, the desire of a peaceable life, where we might worship God and obey his law with freedom, according to the dictates of the divine principle. ... Our business, therefore, in this new land, is, not so much to build houses and establish factories, and promote trade and manufactures, that may enrich themselves, (though all these things, in their due place, are not to be neglected), as to erect temples [within the hearts of men] of holiness and righteousness, which God may delight in; to lay such lasting frames and foundations of temperance and virtue as may support the superstructure of our future happiness, both in this and the other world."

For the rest of Penn's life we find him very actively engaged in a organizer and minister of the Quakers, a defender of them from persecution, a politician, a courtier, a founder of a colony, and suffering great losses of fortune - all while faithfully serving his Master and King, the Lord Jesus Christ to the best of his body, mind, soul, and heart - and to great accomplishments. Penn was a giant of a man and a magnificent servant of God.

Penn chose perhaps the most difficult course possible for a Christian man: an obedient Christian as a ruler of government. With courage that I cannot imagine, Penn plowed through decisions, negotiations, administration, and government of a region the size of England - with faith in his God and actions that remained true to Christian principles. For several years between visits to Pennsylvania, Penn served as a Quaker lobbyist to King James, cautioning him and urging him in his government, particularly in defending the oppressed and to government policy related to religion. From a wilderness, he carved a colony which quickly surpassed their older colonial neighbors, while creating and maintaining a peace with the Indian that was never equaled. He walked the high wire of secular power with Christian humility; few could even approach his secular accomplishments, and scarce would any be able match his maintenance of Christian virtue at the same time. He had the accomplishments of a Caesar, but with the kindness and meekness of the greatest servant, his Lord Jesus Christ. Truly, he was of a Christian nobility that we may never again see in history.


From Plate of Jno. Frost, LL.D



For nearly half a century the king had been struggling hard to build up the power and privileges of the crown against Parliament and the people. James I had been very diligent in this, and tyranny was gaining in spite of the frantic and spasmodic struggles of the people against it. Tyranny was growing because England was growing and her power was growing. As the island became more and more civilized and began to take a place among the nations, organization became more and more necessary. Regular methodical government must succeed the easy, noble, and manly freedom which was instinctive with the descendants of the Vikings, Angles, and Saxons. The followers of the king and all who admired absolute monarchy, or loved place and power, took advantage of this necessity to develop royalty and a church established by law, and for a long time they were very successful.

Other things, however, were growing besides the royal power and the Church of England. The great movement of the Reformation, starting in the invention of printing and the revival of learning, was still stimulating independent thought, arousing and encouraging more and more the Puritan sects, and leading them to see their interest in developing the ancient Anglo-Saxon liberties, as the Royalists saw their interest in developing the kingly power. Strange creatures were those Puritans and other sects who had only recently broken through the restraints of the Middle Ages and begun to think for themselves. From the system of the Middle Ages, which ignored the Bible altogether, they had rushed to the opposite extreme of accepting it so literally that they gave their children the strange un-English names they found in the Old Testament. From the Church of Rome, which governed as an absolute monarchy and governed too much, the Presbyterians had reacted to a system of representative or republican church government made up of elective assemblies and synods; while others, the Independents and Congregationalists, had reacted to the principle that there should be no general church government at all, and each congregation should be a law unto itself in doctrine and discipline. From the excesses of image worship and ritual they had gone to abolishing all ritual, vestments, and images, adopting extemporaneous prayer instead of prayers read from a book, and preaching to a congregation that sat within four bare walls. They were austere in their manners; they disciplined themselves into a hatred of all amusements and pleasures. They saw the terrible side of religion; they convinced themselves of original sin, with which every man was born, and for which the vast majority of mankind would be burnt forever in hell by a wrathful God who, to gratify his rage and pleasure, had foreordained them to their fate, in spite of the good deeds and works they might do on earth.

Site Editor's Comments: Pre-destination was the doctrine of Calvin, the father of Presbyterians, and Independent Congregationalist Puritans, besides him being a great influence on the Baptists. Since the Bible references that God foreknew the elect, they concluded that God must have ordained their success to heaven and all others' failure to Hell; but they fail to consider that since God could see past time, he knew how everyone would turn out - by their own choices.)

They encouraged all feelings that were gloomy and somber, which were, they thought, alone compatible with religion. They relied on inward experiences and feelings of conversion to supply the place of the dogmas and forms they had rejected. They trained their faces to conform to their feelings, assumed sour, malignant expressions, whined, groaned, and drawled in their speech.

They were accompanied by smaller sects, with minds still more distorted by the new-found liberty of the age. A famous example was the Fifth-Monarchy men, who believed that Christ was about to come to establish an earthly kingdom for a thousand years. Desperate, dangerous fellows they were; for when the rage of their belief was on them and they thought the kingdom about to come, they would fight like devils, attacking the militia and soldiery with the utmost fury and sparing no lives.

Pepys describes how thirty-one of them, shouting, "The King Jesus and the heads upon the gates;" this put all London in terror. They routed the trainbands [companies of militia], put the king's lifeguard to the run, broke through the city gates, killed twenty men, and led every one to believe that they numbered five hundred, while every householder armed himself and forty thousand stood ready to oppose these fierce fanatics. ( Pepys's Diary, ed. 1893, vol. i, pp. 319-322.)

In striking contrast to these strange sects were the Royalists, who stood by the king and the Church of England, with its familiar Roman ceremonies and rituals and its adoption of a few of the ideas of the Reformation. Pleasure-loving and celebrant, devoted to sports and amusements, dressing fantastically, as it would now seem, in bright colors, many ribbons, with long hair and pointed beards, and all the more devoted to pleasures, theaters, oaths, ribaldry, and promiscuity; all practices banned by Puritanism. A long and terrible conflict was inevitable between these elements. How to combine the ancient freedom with the necessities of highly-organized government and have both liberty and government at the same time was the problem by whose solution England was to be torn and distracted for the rest of the century.* During that time, which in effect covers the life of William Penn, "freedom," as Tennyson has expressed it, "broadened slowly down from precedent to precedent." Slowly hardly describes this movement. It was very slow; often stagnation and sometimes retrogression; and Penn's relation to this movement, which is still a movement, is the most important part of his life's history. For he implement ideas and institutions from which we benefit today.

*Later in life, William Penn profoundly expressed this conundrum: "Freedom without obedience is chaos, obedience without freedom is slavery."

Charles I, who succeeded James I in 1625, carried the royal power to still greater heights. He levied taxes and imposts as he pleased without authority of law, and governed for many years without any Parliament at all. In fact, he completely eclipsed, and for the time being, destroyed the ancient liberties and brought royalty to its climax and acme of power.

In the same way, reacting against the whole spirit of the Reformation, he built up the Established Church. He was thought by many to be a disguised Catholic, having married one; apparently there are records of his agreement with the King of France regarding his troops to be used to quell any rebellion upon his reestablishment of England as subject to the Pope. His actions were more Catholic than Protestant. He appointed Laud to be Archbishop of Canterbury, and Laud became the terror and detestation of Puritans, filling the churches with images, elaborate ceremonies, and inflicting degrading punishment on the clergy who inclined to Puritan ways. They were imprisoned, whipped, had their ears cut off, their noses slit, and their cheeks branded with hot irons. A Puritan named Pryne was stood in the pillory, lost both his ears, and was imprisoned for life, all because his writing condemned the balls, theaters, and other amusements of the court.

The reaction by Charles I against the Reformation brought on a counter-reaction from the Reformation itself; for while despotism grew among the Royalists at court, wild republicanism spread among the people. Charles I tried to force the Church of England's ritual and ceremonies upon the Presbyterian Scotch; and when they rose in rebellion and mobbed the bishops, he called a Parliament together to grant him an army with which to suppress them. There had been no Parliament for eleven years; and this new one was filled with men of the Cromwell and Hampden order. They impeached and executed Laud and Stafford. They abolished the ecclesiastical courts which had been punishing the Puritans. They violently seized all the rights they had so long declared they possessed. They completely reversed the condition of affairs, and instead of the king ruling without a Parliament, Parliament ruled without the king. The king was driven from London, established himself at York, and declared war against his Parliament.

In this way began the great civil war in 1642, and when Penn was born, in October, 1644, four famous battles had been fought, - Edge Hill, Newbury, Nantwich, and Marston Moor. The Puritan cannon had battered down many an ancient castle of the nobility. The king's cause was lost, and the successful Puritan and parliamentary soldiers, with their extraordinary biblical names C Praise God Barebones and Sergeant Hew Agag in Pieces before the Lord — were roaming through the country, smashing the images in the churches, tearing out the pipes in the organs, breaking the stained-glass windows, and stabling their horses in cathedrals.

But although civil war rages in a country, the ordinary affairs of life go on. The children play hide-and-seek and lovers kiss their sweethearts as in the piping times of peace. We must not let the general statements and perspective of history deceive us, and we are assured that there was still some quiet life left in England when we read of that country gentleman who, on the morning of the battle of Edge Hill, was unconcernedly strolling with his dogs between the two armies. What concern had the war with him whose life as lord of his lands was self-contained and complete?

William Penn was born in London, on the 14th of the eighth month, (now the tenth,) A. D. 1644. Of his very early years but little is known. Being the heir to a considerable estate, and a youth of promising abilities, his father appears to have spared no expense to confer upon him the best education which the country could afford. He received the rudiments of learning at Chigwell school, which was near Wanstead, in Essex, then the country residence of his father. Although he left this seminary at the age of twelve years, yet he appears while there to have received some serious impressions in regard to the concerns of religion. The Lord, who designed to make him an instrument of good to many souls, visited his mind by his holy Spirit, bringing him under a weighty consideration respecting his eternal well being; and though he then knew not what it was which thus solidly impressed him, yet it had a good effect on his mind.

From the age of twelve to fifteen years, he resided in London, and had the advantage of a private tutor to aid him in the prosecution of his studies.

In giving an account some years after, of his religious exercises and convincement, he remarks, " Yes, it is Christ the true and only Seed of God, who visited my soul, even in my young years, spread my sins in order before me, reproved me and brought godly sorrow upon me, making me often to weep in solitary places, and say within my soul, O that I knew the Lord as I ought to know him! O that I served him as I ought to serve him! Yes, often was there a great concern upon my spirit about my eternal state, mournfully desiring that the Lord would give my soul rest in the great day of trouble."

During this period, his religious thoughtfulness was often renewed, and though the buoyancy of youthful spirits might at times dissipate it, yet there was a work begun, which the enemy of souls could not wholly lay waste, and which, as he advanced toward manhood, began to produce those blessed fruits of the Spirit, by which his after life was conspicuously marked.

To read more on the Penn's mother, grandfather, and father, and the Royal Navy, (the occupation of his grandfather and father), a separate page is provided.


THE middle of the seventeenth century was a very exciting time in England. The Cavaliers of King Charles the First were fighting the Roundheads of Oliver Cromwell, and the whole country was divided into King's men and Parliament's men. On the side of Cromwell and the Parliament was Admiral William Penn, who had in 1646 been given command of a squadron of fighting ships with the title of Vice Admiral of Ireland, and who had proved to be an expert navigator and sea-fighter. He had married Margaret Jasper, the daughter of an English merchant who lived in Rotterdam, and when he went to sea, he left his wife and children in the pretty little English village of Wanstead, in the county of Essex. The wife of Admiral Penn, lived quietly in her country home; and by the time William was five years old, the Cavaliers had lost the battle of Naseby, had surrendered Bridgewater and Bristol, and King Charles the First had been beheaded. A new England, a Puritan England, had taken the place of the old England, but the boy was too young to understand the difference. He knew that his father was now fighting the Dutch, but he was chiefly interested in the games he played with his schoolmates at Wanstead and with the boys from the neighboring village of Chigwell.

Now Admiral Penn had fought on the side of the Roundheads because the English navy had sided with the Parliament, while the English army had largely sided with the king, and not from any real love of Oliver Cromwell and the Puritans. He was indeed a Royalist at heart, and had very little patience with the new religious ideas that were becoming so popular in England.

The Admiral was too much concerned at the time with his own difficulties to give much heed to his son. Admiral Penn had secretly sent word to the exiled son of Charles I that he would enter his service against Oliver Cromwell. Cromwell heard of it, and when the Admiral returned to England, Cromwell had him clapped into the Tower of London to keep him out of mischief. Mrs. Penn and her children went up to London and lodged in a little court near the Tower, where they might at least be near the Admiral. Presently the Admiral, stripped of his commission, was released, and left London for a country place in Ireland that Cromwell had given him for his earlier services.

The following is an account of the convincement of William Penn, delivered by Penn to Thomas Harvey:

He said, while he was but a child living at Cork with his father, Thomas Loe came there. When it was rumored a Quaker was come from England, his father proposed to some others to be like the noble Bereans, to hear him before they judged him. He accordingly sent to Thomas Loe to come to his house, where he had a meeting in the family. Though William was very young, he observed what effect Thomas Loe's preaching had on the hearers. A black servant of his father's could not contain himself from weeping aloud; and, looking on his father, he saw the tears running down his cheeks also. He [little William] then thought within himself 'What if they would all be Quakers?' This opportunity he never quite forgot — the remembrance of it still recurring at times.

The Penn's stayed in Ireland until the Royalists got the better of the Roundheads, and Charles II was placed on the English throne. Then Admiral Penn hurried to welcome the new king, was made a knight for his loyalty, and began to bask in the full sunshine of royal favor. He was now a great figure at court, a man of wealth, and a close friend and adviser to the king's brother, James, Duke of York, and was Lord High Admiral of England.

When a little over fifteen years of age, William Penn entered as "a gentleman commoner" at Oxford, where he remained three years, distinguishing himself as a hard and successful student. We learn from himself that he was preserved uncorrupted in the midst of the dissipations and wickedness which abounded in the University. He took great delight in manly sports, and in the society of those young men who were distinguished for talents or worth. Among those with whom he was intimate were Robert Spencer, afterwards the well-known Earl of Sunderland, and the venerable John Locke, [ a philosopher of later renown]. After the Restoration, the court set to work to remodel the University, by displacing those who held Puritanical opinions, or who had found favor during the Commonwealth, and installing others friendly to the re-established church and the lax moral principles then prevailing. Dr. Owen, conspicuous as a scholar and a strict religionist, was ejected to make room for a royalist partisan; and the students became divided into parties, applauding or denouncing the changes made.

There is reason to believe, from observations made by William Penn himself, that throughout his youth he was repeatedly visited by the Dayspring [the Light within all men, Christ] from on high, bringing him into serious thoughtfulness. While at college his associates appear to have been those of a religious cast of character like himself, who had probably been influenced by the teaching and advice of Dr. Owen. It so happened that while much controversy was going on among the scholars relative to religious opinions and practices, Thomas Loe, who had belonged to the University, and had now joined the Society of Friends, came to Oxford, and held several meetings. To these meetings William Penn and his associates went, and a deep impression was made upon their minds by the powerful preaching of this devoted servant of Christ. They declined being present at what were now the regular "services " of the college, and held private meetings for worship and religious exhortation and prayer; and for this they were fined. When an order came down from Charles the Second that the surplice* should be worn, according to the custom of ancient times, which was an unusual sight then at that University, they refused to wear them, and tore them off those they met. How far William Penn was implicated in this is not known; but his course gave great offence, and he was expelled the University with his associates. Thomas Harvey's account of his conversation with Penn, states that Penn told him he was expelled for writing a book, [probably defending the scriptural truths of the Quaker faith], and the priests and masters of the college were outraged.

*Surplice - A white garment worn by clergymen of some denominations over their other dress, in their ministry. It is particularly the habit of the clergy of the church of England.

When William Penn went to Oxford, the Society of Friends was growing exponentially. They were almost as much opposed to the Puritans as they were to the Royalists, who belonged to the Church of England. They were a religious sect, and more. They refused to pay the tithes or taxes for the support of the established church, they refused to take an oath in the law courts, they refused to bow to other men, they would wear their hats in court and in the presence of important persons. "Thee" and "thou" took the place of "you," although those pronouns had customarily only been used to servants. Nothing gave so much offense to a Royalist as to have a Quaker say "thee" or "thou" to him.* They preached in taverns and in highways, and walked the streets uttering prophecies of warning. They were called Quakers because they were often seized by the power of the Lord, so to make their flesh tremble, or as a antagonistic judge has named them, "quakers." It seemed to both the churchmen and the Puritans that these Quakers were breaking away from all forms of religion; they did not believe in baptism nor in the communion service; they would not listen to clergymen or hired preachers, and often they sat silent in their meetings, only speaking when one of them felt inspired by the Spirit of God to address them. Quietness was their word, and inward was their watch and waiting on God. They spoke against all sports and games, theaters, dancing, and card playing as time-wasters and distractions from seeking God, what they understood as the single necessary purpose of life. Many soldiers were Quakers, but the mature Quakers were eventually led by the Spirit within them to lay down their arms and not fight any more. They kept out of politics, and they testified against vain fashion with superfluous ribbons, lace, jewelry, etc. Their leader, George Fox, was a legend, very brave and very outspoken, often addressing thousands of listeners at one time; and he managed to rouse discussion wherever he went, traveling all over England, Wales, and Scotland, (with America, Ireland, Holland, and Germany added in his later years). Again and again Fox was put in jail; he was stoned and abused and mocked; but such was his power that more and more people came to follow him, admire him, reverence him and dearly love him. Later, Penn developed a very strong working relationship with George Fox; some have said that Penn was the closest Friend to Fox.

* So the lower classes were addressed as thee and thou, while the "important single people" demanded to be addressed as you, even though the Bible addressed God as thee and the grammar books of the time taught the use of thee and thou when addressing single people. This was showing partiality to certain men; not treating all men equally, which is identified as a sin in the Bible. The Quakers refused to show partiality to any man, including bowing to him or removing their hats to show "proper respect;" for these refusals, they were severely persecuted.

Today, all classes are addressed as you, which is not showing partiality to certain classes of men. The Lord is no respecter of persons.

It was unusual that the Quakers should have appealed so strongly to a youth like William Penn, who was a gentleman commoner at the most aristocratic college in England, a good-looking, popular, sport-loving fellow, surrounded by the sons of noblemen and courtiers. The Quaker faith, while crossing all classes, was primarily a middle-class phenomenon in England. In Ireland and America, there were more poor, often assisted by the more prosperous English Quakers. Penn was by nature serious-minded and very interested in questions of religion; and he threw his whole soul into whatever cause that appealed to him. Whatever Penn was, he was never lukewarm, but ardent and fiery and always tremendously earnest.

No gentle measures awaited William Penn's return home after this expulsion from Oxford. From college he went to his father's house in London, and then Admiral Sir William Penn found that his son was not at all the worldly-minded youth he had hoped, but a young man of quite a different sort. He did not care for the life of a cavalier or court gallant, but wanted to go to strange religious meetings. The Admiral begged and entreated, threatened and stormed, used arguments and even blows, (canning him), and finally in a fit of rage drove his son from his house. But Lady Penn pleaded for her son, and the Admiral at length allowed William to return to his home.



To understand the history of William Penn we must have a clear idea of the Quaker faith in the time of Charles II. All through the Middle Ages the Christian Church, which was the Roman Catholic Church, had built up a network of beliefs that people took for granted, so that men never used their minds where religion was concerned, but were, to all intents and purposes, merely children, believing whatever the priests told them to believe. For centuries England, as well as all of Western Europe, had taken its creed directly from the Pope and his clergy, no more doubting the truth of what was told them than a child doubts the truth of the multiplication-table. But at length certain men of unusual independence of mind, men such as Martin Luther and John Calvin, became restless under the arbitrary teachings of the Pope and dared to question whether the priests were always right, no matter what they said. These men, and others like them, took part in what was known as the Reformation, an era in which men began to do a little thinking for themselves. The revival of the classical learning of Greece and Rome and the invention of the printing-press helped this new freedom of thought greatly. The first books to come from the printing-presses were copies of the Bible, which had formerly been beyond the reach of all but the priests, and as men soon translated the Scriptures from Latin into English and French and German and other languages, the people gradually became able to read the Old and New Testaments for themselves. The Bible was no longer a sealed book, from which the clergy gave the ordinary man and woman as much or as little as they thought good. It was free to all, and new teachers began to explain its meaning according to their own ideas.

It took a long time, however, for men to break away from the implicit obedience they had given for centuries to the Church of Rome. The most daring reformers only rid themselves of one or two dogmas at a time. Wyclife, the first great leader of the Reformation in England, only denied a part of the truth of the Mass, and kept almost all the rest of the Catholic belief. Huss, who followed him, only dared to doubt the truth of certain of the miracles, though he did declare that he believed in religious liberty. Martin Luther himself devoted most of his eloquence to attacking the sale of indulgences, which had been carried to great excess. Later he grew so bold as to oppose the authority of the Pope, but he still held to the larger part of the creed of the early Church.

In England Henry the Eighth had broken with the Pope, chiefly because the latter had refused to grant him a divorce from Catherine of Aragon and not because of any great difference in religious views. This break, however, gave the reformers an official position in England, and led to the establishment of the Church of England, which was called a Protestant Church to distinguish it from the Catholic. Henry's daughter, Mary, was a Catholic, and her reign saw a bitter struggle in England between Catholics and the new reform Protestants. This was a time of many Protestants being burned at the stake, accused of being the devil's supporters or witches; she was known as Bloody Mary. Mary's sister, Elizabeth, favored the Protestants, and with her succession the new Church actually came into its own, and the teachings of the Reformation began to bear fruit.

Very gradually, then, men came to think more and more freely for themselves. The Church of England discarded some of the beliefs of the Roman Catholic Church, but held to a great many of them, and once it became well fixed as the established Church of England it also became conservative, and insisted that people should obey its teachings, just as the Catholic Church had done. But the idea of the right of every one to think for himself had been set rolling and could not be stopped. Men and women (Puritans) who wished liberty to worship God in their own way went to America and founded communities with that principle as their basis, while others in England began to show their independence of the Established Church, and began to league themselves together as Presbyterians or Lutherans, under a number of different names, and many were often spoken of as Puritans. The Civil War between Charles I and Parliament was also largely a war between the men of the Church of England and the Puritans. Then, when the Puritans had won a place for themselves and a certain amount of power, they in their turn became conservative, and wanted to impose their own beliefs and religious observances upon the rest of England.

By this time, however, men had grown so used to freedom of thought in religious matters that every little group had its own peculiar creed. Any man of an original turn of mind could start a new sect and win converts. The Puritans themselves were not sufficiently liberal to suit men who now took pride in recognizing no authority in questions as to what they should think. Most of these small sects played very small parts in history. Some, such as the Independents, the Anabaptists, and the Pietists, flourished for a short time, and then became merged in other sects. The Quakers, however, made a much stronger appeal than many of the others, and drew into their ranks a great number of those who were dissatisfied with the superstitions of the Catholics, the Church of England, and the Puritans.

The reason the Quakers absorbed many of the other sects and grew so rapidly, and doubtless the chief reason why they appealed so strongly to the liberal mind of young William Penn, was that they set forth as their aim the definite plan of returning to primitive Christianity in its simplest form. To those men and women who thought that all religion had become hopelessly corrupt through the ignorance and fraud and cruelty of the priesthood that had so long controlled the church, the Quaker leaders tried to show that original Christianity was as pure and simple as ever. What they wanted was that people should return to the doctrines of the Christian Church as they were before the Bishop of Rome became Pope, and before the priests interpreted the Bible as best suited themselves. The Quaker teachers declared that the Episcopalians, the Presbyterians, Baptists, and Congregationalists Puritans were all still man-made religions; they were still immersed in superstition, ceremony, and ritual - outward observances of the old fleshly man. In the established religions, all they saw was vanity, with no change of the heart; the old man still reigned, and the old man of those sects was still immersed in the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eye, and the pride of life. The older sects were still making their appeal chiefly to the rich and influential; this new religion was to satisfy everyone; including the ordinary, the poor, the simple, those who cared little for wealth or high station. Rather than an external worship and praise of God, they pointed people to the teacher within each of them, the light that enlightens all men who come into the world; holding that the light within each man was Christ, and by being quiet to listen for his teachings, he would convict them of the sin within their hearts and then remove it. The end result of these teachings and cleansings was to become controlled by the Spirit of God; to become a Christian with a circumcised heart; and to witness the promises within the scriptures fulfilled. So their whole focus was an inward, invisible worship, led and prompted by the Spirit of God; rather than an outward, visible worship, led by men. This process of showing them their sin and them repenting from it, to receive changing grace, was what they said was the cross of Christ. In Penn's most famous work, No Cross No Crown, (available on this site), he showed how the other sects were the false church, the Whore of Babylon and the beast, controlled by the dragon, and which all nations followed. To quote Penn from No Cross No Crown:

Whatever form, people, or church you are of, it is the truth of God to mankind, that they which have even the form of godliness, but, by their unmortified lives, deny the power thereof, [to purify them from sin] do not belong to the true church, but belong to the false church: which, though she calls herself the Lamb's bride, or church of Christ (Rev 21:2; 22:17), she is that mystery, or mysterious Babylon, fitly called by the Holy Ghost, the mother of harlots and all abominations (Rev 17:5); because degenerated from Christian chastity and purity, into all the enormities of heathen Babylon; a sumptuous city of old time, much noted for the seat of the kings of Babylon, and at that time the place in the world of the greatest pride and luxury. As she was then, so mystical Babylon is now, the great enemy of God's people.

True it is, those who are born of the flesh hate and persecute those who are born of the spirit, who are the circumcision in heart. It seems they [really born of the Spirit of God] cannot own nor worship God according to the Whore's inventions, methods and prescriptions, nor receive for doctrine her vain traditions, any more than they can comply with her corrupt fashions and customs in their conversation. Thus, the Whore is not only a false apostate, but has become a persecutor of true Christians, [drunk with the blood of the saints]. It is not enough that she herself declines from ancient purity, she forces others to impurity also. She gives no rest to those who will not participate in her degeneracy, or receive her mark. Are any wiser than she, than mother church? No, no; nor can any make war with the beast she rides upon, those worldly powers that protect her, and vow their maintenance against the cries of her dissenters. Apostasy and superstition are ever proud and impatient of dissent; all must conform or perish. Therefore the slain witnesses, and blood of the souls under the altar (Rev 6:9), are found within the walls of this mystical Babylon, this great city of false Christians, and are charged upon her, by the Holy Ghost in the Revelation. Nor is it strange that she should slay the servants who first crucified the Lord; but strange and barbarous too, that she should kill her husband and murder her savior; titles she seems so fond of, and that have been so profitable to her; and that she would recommend herself by, though without all justice. But her children are reduced so entirely under the dominion of darkness, by means of their continued disobedience to the manifestation of the divine light in their souls, that they forget what man once was, or they should now be; and know not true and pure Christianity when they meet it; yet pride themselves upon professing it. Their measures are so carnal and false about salvation, they call good evil and evil good, they make a devil a Christian, and a saint a devil. So that though the unrighteous latitude of their lives is lamentable, as to themselves it is of destruction; yet that common apprehension, that they may be children of God while in a state of disobedience to his holy commandments; and disciples of Jesus though they revolt from his cross, and members of his true church, which is without spot or wrinkle, notwithstanding their lives are full of spots and wrinkles; is, of all other deceptions upon themselves, the most disastrous to their eternal condition. For they are at peace in sin, and under a security in their transgression. Their vain hope silences their convictions, and overlays all tender motions to repentance; so that their mistake about their duty to God is as mischievous as their rebellion against him. Oh Christendom! My soul most fervently prays, that after all your lofty profession of Christ, and his meek and holy religion, your unsuitable and unchristian life may not cast you out at that great judgment court of the world, and lose you so a great salvation at last. Hear me once, I implore you: can Christ be your Lord, and you not obey Him? (Mat 7:21-23, John 14:23) or, can you be his servant, and never serve Him? "Be not deceived, such as you sow, shall you reap" (Gal 6:7). He is not your savior while you reject his grace in your heart, by which He should save you by purification. Come, from what has He saved you? Has He saved you from your sinful lusts, your worldly affections, and vain conversations? If not, then He is not your savior! For, though He is offered a savior to all, yet He is actually a savior only to those who are saved by Him; and none are saved by Him that live in those evils by which they are lost from God, and which He came to save them from.

So you can see, the Quaker's differences were not some minor interpretation of scripture's meaning. They basically said, unless your heart is purified to holiness through the cross of Christ, you had no salvation. They were as revolutionary to their time as Jesus was revolutionary to His time. They were persecuted just as Jesus was persecuted, just as Jesus said his true disciples would be. Over eight hundred Quakers died in prison. Many others were killed in their worship services by angry crowds of Puritan Congregationalists, Baptists, Episcopalians and Presbyterians, who hated them for telling them they had a false salvation and were part of a false church.

The fact that so many of the Quakers testified to the changing, teaching grace of God in their lives, while exhibiting moderation in their conversation and integrity in their conduct, was a powerful draw to others to join their society; particularly when they heard the preaching of the many ministers, without formal education, several under twenty years of age, but with the ability to explain all the promises within the scriptures, and how to secure them for themselves. These ministers were usually very mature in Christ, speaking from the Spirit of God; so their words far surpassed the educated-by-man preachers, only repeating phrases from the Bible. So the Quaker ministers' words reached the holy part in their listeners. The hearers of these words were deeply impressed, their own Light within testifying of the truth in the words and principles heard; depending on their love or hate of the Truth, they could then accept these words with convincement or reject them in denial, but it was truly their day of visitation.

The Quakers were for the greater part a remarkably sober, sensible, middle-class, law-abiding sect. The Catholics, the Puritans, the Presbyterians, and others had never hesitated to hold their meetings in secret when the laws seemed too severe against them. The Quakers, however, never held secret meetings; they performed their duties openly, no matter how much the magistrates were opposed to them. They argued their cause freely and openly on all occasions, and they wrote a great many pamphlets setting forth their belief and also telling to what persecutions they had been subjected. Five hundred Quaker authors published over two thousand pamphlets and books in a short time. These tracts were widely distributed, and served to call attention to the reasonableness of their cause and to win sympathy for their struggles with the law. They also soon showed the English virtue of obstinacy in their cause; for no matter how many times they were imprisoned or arrested, they continued steadfastly on their course. At first people laughed at the Quakers' custom of holding their religious meetings in prison just as they might have held them in their meetinghouses, but before long the laughter changed to respect, and finally became sincere admiration.

William Penn, young as he was, saw that the Quakers stood at the opposite pole from what he had come to consider a superstitious priesthood. He had a natural interest in religion, a natural earnestness of mind that led him to consider the Quaker's statements, and sufficient strength of judgment to be able to find the truth in that was hidden from many others.



WHEN his son William came home from Oxford, Admiral Penn was a prominent figure in London. He held numerous offices, for he was a Naval Commissioner, a Member of Parliament, Governor of Kinsale, Admiral of Ireland, a Member of the Council of Munster, and a favorite of King Charles and the Duke of York. He was in high hopes that he would soon be made a peer. His wife, Lady Penn, and his daughter Margaret, or Peg, as she was usually called, were fond of society and fashion. It was somewhat natural, therefore, that Admiral Penn should not altogether understand or appreciate the new religious views of his son William. He thought the youth exceedingly willful, but could not believe that his interest in the new movement was anything more than a passing whim. Therefore, in order to interest William in other things, he introduced him to his own friends and showed him something of the pleasant side of life at King Charles's court. He took William to suppers at the Bear Inn, and to plays at Drury Lane Theater. There was a satire on the Puritans, called "The Jovial Crew," then being given at a theater known as "The Cockpit," and the Admiral took William there in order to show him how absurd Puritans, and all the newer religious sects, actually were. But no matter how heartily the Admiral laughed and encouraged his son to laugh, he could not get William to throw himself into the pleasures of London life as readily as he thought a normal young fellow ought to.

The father was really very fond of his son, and spent considerable time in casting about as to what was best for his boy. At length it occurred to him that a visit to the celebrant city of Paris would entertain William, and drive out of his head some of his strange Oxford notions. Some of his college friends were going to France to study, and the Admiral arranged that William should go abroad with them. Some of them were of high rank, and they would easily have entrance to the best French society.

The young men were made welcome in Paris. Penn was presented to King Louis XIV, and he was charmed by the brilliance of the French court. He made the acquaintance of entertaining people, and he had at least one adventure. The story* is told that as he was returning late one night from a ball, he was stopped by a rogue who angrily called out to him to draw his sword and defend himself. The rascal flashed his own rapier before Penn's eyes, and declared that Penn had insulted him, - that he had bowed and taken off his hat politely to the young Englishman, but that the latter had paid no attention to him. Penn answered courteously that he had not seen the stranger, and so could not have insulted him by failing to bow to him. The stranger, however, only grew more excited, and insisted that Penn must fight him or he would run him through. Penn saw that argument was useless, and being by that time angry himself, drew his own sword and stood on defense. The street was dark, but a small crowd had gathered, attracted by the loud words, and several men announced that they would see fair play. The swords flashed in a few passes, and then Penn showed himself the more skillful swordsman. With a twist of his rapier he sent his opponent's sword flying into the air. The crowd expected him to attack his opponent again, but instead Penn stooped, and, picking up the other man's sword, handed it back to him with a bow, saying that he hoped the Frenchman was satisfied. News of the little encounter quickly spread among the young Englishman's friends, and on the strength of it, he became quite a hero.

*It is not just a story. Here is Penn's account from his writing, No Cross No Crown:

I was once myself in France, (which was before I became a Quaker), set upon about eleven at night, as I was walking to my lodging, by a person, that waylaid me, with his naked sword in his hand, who demanded satisfaction of me for taking no notice of him, at a time when he civilly saluted me with his hat; though the truth was, I had not seen him at the time. I will suppose he had killed me, for he made several passes at me, or I, in my defense, had killed him, when I disarmed him, as the Earl of Crawford's servant saw, that was near; I ask any man of understanding or conscience, if the whole affair was worth the life of a man, considering the dignity of the nature, and the importance of the life of man, both with respect to God his Creator, himself, and the benefit of civil society.

Meantime the Admiral in London was much pleased with the reports he had of William's success in the social world of Paris. He wanted him to have a more thorough education, however, than Oxford afforded, and so made arrangements that he should go to Professor Moses Amyrault, at Saumur, to live in his home and study religion under him. Moses Amyrault was a learned Calvinistic minister and professor of divinity, who was then held in high estimation. Under this instructor he renewed his studies, read the ancient fathers as well as the modern works of theology, and acquired an accurate knowledge of the French language. After leaving Saumur, he proceeded towards Italy, but when he arrived at Turin a letter from his father reached him, desiring his return home. The Admiral having received orders to take command of the fleet under the Duke of York against the Dutch, wished to leave his family in the care of his son. William accordingly returned in 1664, having been absent about two years.

When he returned to London, he was very French and very gallant; indeed, he was so much a gentleman of fashion that Admiral Penn was really delighted. He had hopes, now, that William would, after all, follow in his own footsteps, and become a figure at the king's court.

Soon after this, however, his spiritual exercises and conflicts were renewed. The Lord who loved him, and designed him for usefulness in his church, followed him by the secret but powerful convictions of his Spirit. His worldly prospects were highly flattering to the natural ambition of a young and ardent mind. He possessed a manly form blooming with health, a lively and active disposition, a ready wit, and talents improved by great literary and scientific attainments, and many rich and powerful friends. These, added to his father's interest at court, and his intimacy with the duke of York, presumptive heir to the crown, as well as the solicitations of numerous friends, strongly inclined him to embrace the glory and pleasures of this world, which might be said to court his acceptance. But the glory and joy of the heavenly inheritance had taken a deep hold of his mind, and at seasons his earnest supplications were poured out to the Lord for preservation and right direction. And He who regards the prayer of the sincere seeker, was graciously pleased to hear his cry, and to favour him with a renewed visitation of his own holy power and Spirit, which enabled him to reject all the glittering allurements of worldly grandeur and honor, and with holy resolution determine to follow Christ Jesus in the regeneration, whatever sacrifices, sufferings or reproaches it might cost him.

With that end in view Sir William entered his son at Lincoln's Inn to study law. If he was to hold important offices in the government of his country, he must have some knowledge of law; and, besides, the legal training would bring him into contact with rising men of good families. So William began his studies, and the Admiral, well pleased, embarked with the Duke of York to fight the Dutch. William's letter to him, when he landed at Harwich shows the affectionate respect he had for his father:


We could not arrive here sooner than this day, about twelve of the clock, by reason of the continued cross winds, and, as I thought, foul weather. I pray God, after all the foul weather and dangers you are exposed to, and shall be, that you come home as secure. And I bless God my heart does not in any way fail, but firmly believe that if God has called you out to battle, He will cover your head in that smoky day. And, as I never knew what a father was till I had wisdom enough to prize him, so I can safely say that now, of all times, your concerns are most dear to me."

The Admiral made his son bearer of a dispatch to King Charles. This was no doubt his first official visit to Whitehall, but that he must have been well known to the king appears by his letter to his father reporting the delivery of the dispatch. His letter closes with these words :

I pray God be with you, and be your armor in the day of controversy! May that power be your salvation, for his name's sake. And so will he wish and pray, that is with all true veneration, honored father,

Your obedient son and servant,

William Penn

To the study of law William earnestly applied his acute, comprehensive intellect for the following year. But then came a change. In 1665 the plague broke out. Like everyone else who could relocate, [except George Whitehead, who stayed to minister to the sick], he left London. But in view of such sudden calls from life here to life hereafter, very solemn thoughts, and a religious sense of his responsibility to God for the right exercise of the talents that had been given him, took possession of his mind. His father marked the serious thoughtfulness which succeeded, and his manifest desire to withdraw from fashionable life. In remembrance of the past, he became alarmed, and soon resolved to send his son on a visit to his friend, the Duke of Ormond, then Lord Deputy in Ireland. After making acquaintance with the Ormond family, William was to proceed to the County of Cork and undertake the management of the admiral's Shangarry estate. The vice regal court in Dublin at that period was said to be the purest in Europe, and remarkable for its refinement and mental cultivation. We are told it was to a great extent free from the vulgar excesses that prevailed in the celebrant dissipated society of the court of the second Charles. Hence it suited young Penn's tastes and tendencies, to a degree that the latter never could.

Willliam Penn,
in armor at age 22

He therefore remained in Dublin for a considerable time; and even joined the Earl of Arran, the Duke's second son, in a military expedition to quell an outbreak in the County of Antrim. The insurgents, having fortified themselves in Carrickfergus castle, Arran accompanied by his youthful friend as a volunteer, undertook to dislodge them; and finally they restored peace to the district. His biographer says that young Penn behaved throughout with so much coolness and courage, as to extort general applause from experienced officers. The Duke of Ormond and Lord Arran were earnest in protesting that the ability he had displayed clearly pointed to the army as a profession for which his talents suited him in an eminent degree. However well pleased the Admiral was with the duke's praise of his son's ability and military prowess, he did not wish him to become a soldier [the rival of a Navy man]; and therefore the last as well as the first military exploit of William Penn was in connection with the Castle of Carrickfergus. The first portrait for which be sat was painted in Dublin after his return, and in it be was represented in the armor which he wore on that occasion.

But an important crisis was now at hand, which changed the whole current of his life. Another and a very different course of discipline was long assigned him by the Lord of all, preparing his heart and his hands to war in the cause of God and His righteousness, not with carnal weapons, but with the spiritual weapons of Divine truth, faith, and love. Penn, on arriving at Shangarry Castle, found and abundance work needed. A great deal of work had to be got through, to bring the affairs connected with the estate into due order; but, finally, all was settled with so much dispatch and businesslike ability that his father rejoiced.

Harvey's manuscript of Penn's conversation with him says that, on Penn's second coming to Cork, being the only one of the family there, and requiring some articles of clothing, he went to the shop of a woman-Friend in the city to procure them. He expected she would have known him, but she did not. He was too much altered from the days of his boyhood, when the Friend had seen him, to be now recognized by her. However, he told her who he was, and he spoke to her of Thomas Loe, and of the meeting at his father's house ten or eleven years before. The manuscript says, "She admired at his remembering, but he told her he should never forget it; also if he only knew where that person was, if 'it were a hundred miles off, he would go to hear him again.' She said he need not go so far, for the Friend had lately come there, and would be at meeting the next day." So he went to the meeting, and when Thomas Loe stood up to preach, he was exceedingly reached, and wept much. The preacher began with the text: "There is a faith which overcomes the world, and there is a faith which is overcome by the world." On this subject he enlarged, and this in so impressive a manner that William was deeply affected. He felt keenly that he had been allowing the world to overcome the drawings of his Heavenly Father's love, and wept much.

Reviewing his life some years afterwards, in an interview with some pious persons, he says :

I let them know how and when the Lord first appeared unto me, which was about the twelfth year of my age, and how at times, between that and my fifteenth, He continued to visit me, and the divine impressions He gave me of himself; of my persecution at Oxford, and how the Lord sustained me in the midst of the hellish darkness and debauchery of that place; of my being banished the college; the bitter usage I underwent when I returned to my father, whipping, beating, and turning out of doors; of the Lord's dealings with me in France, and in the time of the great plague in London; in fine, the deep sense He gave me of the vanity of this world and of the irreligiousness of the religions of it; then of my mournful and bitter cries to Him, that He would show me his own way of life and salvation, and my resolution to follow Him whatever reproaches or suffering it might cost me, and that with great reverence and brokenness of spirit. How, after all this, the glory of the world overtook me, and I was even ready to give myself up to it, seeing as yet no such things as the primitive spirit and church on earth; and being ready to faint concerning my hope of the restitution of all things.

It was at this time that the Lord visited me with a certain sound and testimony of his eternal Word, through one of those the world calls Quakers, namely, Thomas Loe. I related the bitter mockings and scornings that fell upon me, the displeasure of my parents, the cruelty and invective of the priests, the strangeness of all my companions, and what a sign and wonder they made of me; but, above all, that great cross of resisting and watching against my own vain affections and thoughts.

William Hepworth Dixon depicts, with much graphic power, the events which succeeded:

The youth had not resided more than a few months at Shangarry Castle, before one of those incidents occurred which destroy in a day the most elaborate attempts to stifle the instincts of nature. While the admiral in England was pluming himself on the triumphs of his worldly prudence, his son, on occasion of one of his frequent visits to Cork, heard by accident that Thomas Loe, his old Oxford acquaintance, was in the city and intended to preach that night. He thought of his boyish enthusiasm at college, and wondered how the preacher's eloquence would stand the censures of his riper judgment. Curiosity prompted him to stay and listen. The fervid orator took for his text the passage, 'There is a faith that overcomes the world, and there is a faith that is overcome by the world.' Possessed by strong religious feeling, but at the same time docile and affectionate, he had previously oscillated between two duties — duty to God, and duty to his father. The case was one in which the strongest minds might waver for a time. On the one side his filial affection, the example of his brilliant friends, the worldly ambition seldom quite a stranger to the soul of man-all pleaded powerfully in favour of his father's views. On the other there were only the low whisperings in his own heart. But that still voice would not be silenced. Often as he had escaped from thought into business or celebrant society, the moment of repose again brought back the old emotions. The crisis had come at last. Under Thomas Loe's influence they were restored to a permanent sway. From that night on he was a Quaker in his heart.

Harvey's manuscript reports that after meeting, some Friends took notice of him, and he went to a Friend's house with Thomas Loe. In discourse Thomas Loe said he needed a horse for his own being not fit to travel; on which William Penn offered him his sumpter-horse, which he had brought from France. Thomas Loe was not willing to accept it, and William Penn thought it was because he was not enough of a Friend to have his horse accepted.

Being so ardent by nature, he determined that his faith should overcome the temptations that surrounded him. He would fight by the side of those who believed in the teachings of Christ within, the Light, Teacher, and Sanctifier of those who would listen for his teachings and command. Thomas Loe had convinced Penn of the truth, the inward way to salvation that could be witnessed, not just assumed from readings of man's teachings. He made up his mind to become a Quaker, in spite of all that his family or friends might say. The new faith had made its appeal to the deepest springs of his earnest and religious nature.

So William Penn, already considerable of a courtier, became a Quaker; and continued to be both things at the same time. His father had been both a Roundhead and a Royalist, though in his case it had always been from motives of self-interest. The son was now to combine two widely different types of man, but with him this resulted entirely from the two sides of his nature. Yet it was a very odd combination, that of a Quaker and a courtier, and one sure to bring him into many curious and controversial situations.

Again and again he attended the meeting of the Friends in Cork; and always with the deep conviction that in their assemblies worship, "in spirit and in truth," was acceptably offered up to "the Father of mercies and the, God of all comfort." The truthful, kind, unostentatious demeanor of these persecuted disciples of Christ with whom he now worshipped won his confidence; and he resolved, come what would, to cast in his lot with theirs. In their meetings he had experienced such heart-felt spiritual communion as he had never enjoyed elsewhere. He believed his spiritual eyes were now opened to see with some degree of clearness what was of God, and what was not.

But it was not long that a circumstance occurred which must have given him a foretaste of the trials which awaited him if, in defiance of paternal admonitions, he should identify himself with the persecuted Friends; for, on the 3rd of Ninth-month, 1667, their meeting in Cork, at which he was present, was broken up by a band of constables and soldiers; and all the men, eighteen in number, were made prisoners and taken before the mayor. Harvey's manuscript of Penn's conversation says:

He continued to go to meetings; and one day a soldier came into the Friends' meeting and made great disturbance, on which William Penn goes to him, takes him by the collar, and would have thrown him down stairs, but for the interference of a Friend or two who requested William to let him alone, telling him the Friends were a peaceable people, and would not have any disturbance made. Then he became very much concerned that he had caused them to be uneasy by his roughness. The soldier whom William Penn had expelled went to the magistrates, and brought officers and men who broke up the meeting, and took several of them prisoners, and him among the rest. The fact that this was news to Penn is hard evidence that early Quakers did not preach against war or outward peace, leaving it to individual conscience.

Observing among the prisoners taken, the young heir of Shangarry, the magistrate said it was not necessary that he should go to prison if he would give bail for his good behaviour. This Penn declined to do, and, boldly questioning the legality of the whole proceeding, was imprisoned with the rest. From the jail he wrote to his friend Lord Ossory, eldest son of the Duke of Ormond, and then holding the presidency of Munster. The following is an extract from the letter :

William Penn to the Earl of Ossory, Lord President of Munster.

The occasion may seem as strange as my cause is just, but your lordship will no less extend your charity in the one case than your justice in the other. Religion, which is at once my crime and mine innocence, makes me a prisoner for being in the assembly of the people called Quakers, when there came constables, backed with soldiers, rudely and arbitrarily requiring every man's appearance before the mayor; and among the others haled me before him. He charged me with being present at a riotous and tumultuous assembly, and unless I would give bond for my good behaviour, he would commit me. I asked for his authority. His answer was a proclamation in the year 1660, and new instructions to revive that dead, antiquated order.

I leave your lordship to judge if that proclamation relates to what was only designed to suppress Fifth Monarchy murderers. And since the King's Lord Lieutenant and yourself are fully persuaded the intention of these called Quakers, by their meetings, was really the service of God, and that you have virtually repealed that other law by a long continuance of freedom, I hope your lordship will not now begin an unwarranted severity by allowing anyone to indulge so much malice with his nearest neighbors; but that there may be a speedy release of all, to attend their honest callings and the enjoyment of their families.

Though to dissent from a national system imposed by authority renders men heretics in some eyes, yet I dare believe your lordship is better read in reason and theology than to subscribe to a maxim so vulgar and untrue. It has not been long since you were a solicitor for the liberty I now crave, when you concluded there was no way so effectual to improve this country as to dispense with freedom in things relating to conscience. My humble supplication therefore to you is, that such a malicious and injurious practice towards innocent Englishmen may not receive any countenance from your lordship, for it would not resemble that clemency and English spirit that has previously made you honorable.

Lord Ossory promptly interfered to have his young friend released. But the Earl was sorry to find him, on his liberation, in no way disposed to give up his connection with the persecuted Quakers. Ossory therefore lost no time in writing to inform the admiral respecting his son's imprisonment, release, and continued association with the Friends. The whole family was dismayed at the intelligence, and the young man was forthwith recalled by the disappointed father. He promptly obeyed the summons, presenting himself as soon as possible before his parents in London.

In giving an account some years after, of his religious exercises and convincement, he remarks, " Yes, it is Christ the true and only Seed of God, who visited my soul, even in my young years, spread my sins in order before me, reproved me and brought godly sorrow upon me, making me often to weep in solitary places, and say within my soul, O that I knew the Lord as I ought to know him! O that I served him as I ought to serve him! Yes, often was there a great concern upon my spirit about my eternal state, mournfully desiring that the Lord would give my soul rest in the great day of trouble. Now was all the glory of the world as a bubble; yes, nothing was dear to me that I might win Christ; for the love, pleasure and friendship of this world were a burden to my soul. In this seeking state, I was directed to the testimony of Jesus in my own conscience, as the true shining Light, given me to discern the thoughts and intents of my own heart. And no sooner was I turned unto it, but I found it to be that which from my childhood had visited me, though I distinctly knew it not; and when I received it in the love of it, it showed me all that ever I had done, and reproved all the unfruitful works of darkness, judging me as a man in the flesh, and laying judgment to the line, and righteousness to the plummet in me. By the brightness of his coming into my soul, the Lord Jesus discovered the man of sin there, upon his throne, and by the breath of his mouth, which is the two-edged sword of his Spirit, he destroyed his power and kingdom; and having made me a witness of the death of the cross, he has also made me a witness of his resurrection—so that in good measure my soul can now say, I am justified in the spirit; and although the state of condemnation unto death was glorious, yet justification unto life was, and is, more glorious."

Site Editor's Comments: "The man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he sits as God in the temple of God [your heart], proclaiming himself to be God." 2 Thes 2:3-4. This refers to the evil spirit in you, the man of sin, being revealed. Every man starts with the spirit of Satan sown in his heart. This selfish spirit must be crucified before Christ can reign. Before Christ is revealed, the man of sin is revealed, showing you all manner of evil on the earth (that is in you); this is the abomination of desolation, standing in the your heart's temple, where it should not be. But this is the end of your fleshly self, as Christ then comes and slays this residual spirit of Satan within you by the brightness of his coming, by his breath, and the splendor of his coming, by his crushing the head of Satan under your feet (heel). The final judgment. The true baptism of the Holy Spirit: into the death of Christ. The baptism of death. The sharing of his death. Then Jesus is resurrected in you to be your true Lord; 2 Cor4:14,Col2:11-12,3:1, Eph 2:6, who orders, (commands, prompts), all your thoughts, words to be spoken, and deeds to be done.




Which order he obeyed, and landed at Bristol, where he stayed some meetings to strengthen himself; knowing his father would not be very pleasant upon him. Josiah Coal went with him to London, also to his father's house, to see how he was likely in be entertained. His father kept his temper while Josiah Cole was there, but "before going to bed, observing him use thee for you, he was very angry." The conversation of the father and son on this point, resulted in the former saying "he might thee or thou who he pleased, except the King, the Duke of York, and himself; these he should not thee or thou," But still William would not give his father to expect that he could in conscience make any such exceptions. On parting from him for the night, the admiral, with evidence of much displeasure, told his son to be ready to go out with him in the coach next morning when called on. William could sleep none that night, his mind being disturbed by a suspicion that his father had determined to take him to Court at once, to show how far courtly surroundings would aid in driving away his Quaker prepossessions.

When the morning came, they went in the coach together, without William knowing where they were going, till the coachman was ordered to drive into the Park. Thus he found his father's intent was to have private discourse with him. He commenced by asking him what he could think of himself, after being trained up in learning and courtly accomplishments, nothing being spared to fit him to take the position of an ambassador at foreign courts, or that of a minister at home, that he should now become a Quaker. William told him that it was in obedience to the manifestation of God's will in his conscience, but that "it was a cross to his own nature." He also reminded him of that former meeting in Cork, and told him that he believed he was himself at that time convinced of the truth of the doctrine of the Quakers; only that the grandeur of the world had been felt to be a too great sacrifice to give up. After more discourse they turned homewards. They stopped at a tavern on the way, where Sir William ordered a glass of wine. On entering a room on this pretext, he immediately locked the door. Father and son were now face to face, under the influence of stern displeasure on the one hand, and on the other, prayerful feeling to God for strength rightly to withstand or bear what was coming. William, remembering his early experience on returning from Oxford, expected something desperate. The thought arose that the admiral was going to cane him. But, instead of that, the father, looking earnestly at him, and laying his hands down on the table, solemnly told him he was going to kneel down to pray to Almighty God that his son might not be a Quaker, and that he might never again go to a Quaker meeting. William, opening the casement window, declared that before he would listen to his father putting up such a prayer to God, he would leap out of the window. At that time a nobleman was passing the tavern in his coach, and observing Sir William's at the door, he alighted. Being directed to the room in which father and son were together, his knock came in time to arrest the catastrophe. He had evidently heard of William's return, and of the admiral's high displeasure. After saluting the former, the manuscript says that "he turned to the father, and told him he might think himself happy in having a son who could despise the grandeur of the world, and refrain from the vices which so many were running into."

They paid a visit before they returned home to another nobleman, and the discourse with him also turned on the change in William. Here again the father was congratulated and the son's resolution commended. These congratulations were cheering to the young convert, whatever they might have been to the admiral. It would seem that, for a longer time than is generally supposed, William remained under his father's roof after his return from Ireland; and that in fact he had commenced to preach in Friends' meetings, and had become known as a Quaker preacher, before his final expulsion from home took place.

ABOUT the year 1668, being then in the twenty-fourth year of his age, William Penn, having passed through many deep exercises and probations, both inwardly and outwardly; having parted with all that the world holds dear for Christ's sake, and been made a partaker of the powers of the world to come, a gift in the ministry of the gospel of life and salvation was dispensed to him by the head of the Church [Christ himself]. Animated with an ardent concern for the everlasting welfare of his fellow-creatures, his heart warmed with divine love, and reaching forth in good will towards all without distinction of name or party, he became a zealous, indefatigable, and effectual laborer in the vineyard of his divine Master.

The following letter, written about this time to a young person of his acquaintance, will serve to show his solicitude for others, his Christian plainness, and the light by which he now sees:

NAVY OFFICE, 10th of the Fifth month, 1668.

"Friend, it was a true word spoken by Jesus Christ, to undeceive the careless, wanton Jews, among whom he manifested his glorious Truth, through that body prepared of God for that very end, that the way which leads to everlasting life and rest, is straight and narrow. My friend, how much it concerns the welfare of your immortal soul, to reflect upon the course of life in which way you are now walking, before an evident stroke from heaven calls you from here, and sends your so much indulged flesh and blood into the grave, an entertainment for noisome worms. I implore you, as you would be saved from that unspeakable anguish, which is reserved for worldly people, and from which there is no redemption, to keep yourself from those vanities, follies, and pollutions, which unavoidably bring that miserable state. Alas! how unsuitable is your life and practice, with those holy women of old, whose time was mostly spent in heavenly retirements, out of that rattle, noise, and conversation you are in. And can you imagine that those holy men recorded in Scripture, spent their days, as do the gallants of these times? Where is the self-denying life of Jesus, the cross, the reproach, the persecution, and loss of all, which He and his suffered, and most willingly supported, having their eyes fixed upon a more enduring substance. Well, my friend, this know, and by these shall you be judged, and in it I am clear, that as without holiness none can see God, so without subjection to that Spirit, Light, or Grace in the heart, which God in love has made to appear to all, that teaches to deny all ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world; I say, without subjection thereunto, there is no attaining to that holiness, which will give you an entrance into His presence, in which is joy and pleasure for ever. Examine yourself, how remote you are from the guidance and instructions of this Spirit of grace, which does not approve this age in frequenting their wicked and vain sports, plays and entertainments, conforming yourself to ridiculous customs, and making one at idle talking and vain jesting, wherever you go, not considering you shall account to God for every idle word spoken. And let all your frolicking associates know, the day is hastening, in which they shall not abide the presence of Him that sits upon the throne. It shall be a time of horror, amazement and distress. Then shall they know there is a righteous, holy Judge of all. As for you, with pity is your condition often in my thoughts, and often is it my desire that you may do well; but while I see you in that spirit,* which savours of this world's delights, ease, plenty and esteem, neglecting that one thing necessary; then I have but little hopes. However, I could not let this plain admonition pass me; and what place soever it may have in your thoughts, I am sure it is in true love to whom shall be happy or miserable to all eternity. I have not sought fine words or chiming expressions; the gravity, the concern, and nature of my subject, admit no such butterflies. In short, be advised, my friend, to be serious, and to ponder that which belongs to your eternal peace. Retire from the noise and clatter of tempting visible things, to the beholding Him who is invisible, that He may reign in your soul, God over all, exalted and blessed for ever.

I am your well-wishing, real friend,


Almost as soon as he had identified himself with the Society of Friends, he felt himself called to be a defender of their religious belief against public attacks. In this year Jonathan Clapham published a work called A Guide to True Religion, in which he set forth certain articles as the true Christian creed, declaring all who did not assent to them incapable of salvation, and inveighing with severity against the doctrines of the Friends. William Penn in reply wrote The Guide Mistaken, from which a few passages are taken.

You must not, reader, from my querying thus, conclude we deny (as he has falsely charged us) those glorious three which bear record in heaven, the Father, Word, and Spirit,* neither the Infinity, Eternity, and Divinity of Jesus Christ, for we know that He is the mighty God; nor what the Father sent his Son to do on the behalf of lost man; declaring to the whole world, we know no other name, by which atonement, salvation, and plenteous redemption comes; but by his name are, according to our measures, made sensible of its mighty power.

* Penn is defending a verse that was conspicuously absent in earlier Biblical manuscripts, proving the manuscript used to translated the King James Version had been modified by a Roman Catholic scribe, (whose name, Erasmus, is even known), to support their sect's invented trinity. See the Footnote 2 to this verse in the Net Bible for the full details.

His next accusation is, That they extol the light in all men, as the only sufficient rule to walk by, to the apparent slighting of Scriptures and preaching. Reader, if you are yet a stranger to this Light, let me beseech you once to observe it in yourself, and tell me then if it has not that divine quality to discern between the precious and the vile, and manifest every thought, word, and act; whether it is well-pleasing, or the contrary, to the great God ? If it is criminal to own those Scriptures he falsely says we slight, the case is changed, otherwise, we all confess that God is light, and that He has enlightened every man; by heeding and obeying the dictates of which we may be preserved in that capacity, as the same Scripture says, which shall bring us into the pure fellowship, and that the blood of Jesus shall cleanse us from all sin. Nor do they own a principle in the clouds, but above all people, have demonstrated the power and authority of their principle by that redemption it has wrought for them, and the alteration it has made from that condition which nakedly exposed their immortal souls to the snares and entanglements of this world's perishing glories, to experience the blood which cleanses from all iniquity, the unspeakable peace of perfect reconciliation with God. And for his confident affirming we slight both Scriptures and preaching, I have this to say: that as there is not any who discover more respect for them, by a conformity of life to what they require, so do they both read, and as often quote them in preaching or declaration as any who profess them for their rule.

His fifth reflection is, Our openly denying the doctrine of the Trinity. But I think it would become him who is reproving others for not paying that respect they ought unto the Scriptures, to be a little more exemplary in using their unquestionable phrase and sound expression, for I am altogether ignorant of any Scripture that mentions that word Trinity; yet if by Trinity he understands those three witnesses in heaven, Father, Word, and Spirit, he should have better acquainted himself with what we disown, than thus ignorantly to blaze abroad our open denial of what we most absolutely credit and believe.

His next slander runs thus: The person of Jesus Christ, as to his human nature, with all his offices assigned to Him by his Father, they utterly reject, though this is an secret that is kept hidden from their novices. He is insinuating hard thoughts concerning an inoffensive people; while in reality they own no other name by which salvation is obtainable than the Christ of God; and all the offices that ever were assigned Him by his Father are by them acknowledged; and so remote are they from hiding their sentiments, that whoever would attend their meetings, or review their books, would soon perceive how very far this characterization of us is wide of truth.

His next report is, we call not upon God in the name and mediation of Jesus Christ. But, reader, assure yourself, the Quakers never knew any other name than that of Jesus Christ, through which to find acceptance with God; nor is it by any other than Jesus, the Mediator of the new covenant, by whom they expect redemption, and may receive the promise of an eternal inheritance.

He further says : They trust not in his death for pardon and salvation, but in a pretended sinless perfection. They are so far from disowning the death and sufferings of Christ that there is not a people on the earth that so assuredly witness and demonstrate a fellowship therewith, confessing before men and angels that Christ died for the sins of the world, and gave his life a ransom. Perfection from sin they hold attainable, because he that is born of God sins not, and that nothing which is unclean can enter the kingdom of God; no crown without victory; the little leaven leavens the whole lump; the strong man must be cast out. Paul prays they might be sanctified wholly; be ye perfect as God is perfect; be perfect, be of good comfort; unto a perfect man; as many as be perfect; that the man of God may be perfect; the God of peace make you perfect in every good work; the God of all grace make you perfect; let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God; leaving those things behind, let us go on unto perfection, and this will we do if God permit. If perfection were unattainable, it would be strange that the Scriptures should speak of such a state, and very preposterous that Paul, Peter, etc., should so solicit and pray for the ancient saints, that they might come there, even to the spirits of just men made perfect; no, he positively avouches to have arrived there, at the heavenly Jerusalem, at the church of the first-born, etc. The doctrine of the resurrection of the just and unjust, last judgment, heaven and hell, as future rewards; they believe and confess. And, as my faithful testimony both to their life and doctrine, I declare, and be it known to all that ever knew me, that when the unspeakable riches of God's love visited me, by the call of his glorious light, from the dark practices, wandering notions, and vain conversations of this polluted world, and that my heart was influenced thereby, and consequently disposed for the more intimate and sincere reception of it; those very habits, which once I judged impossible, while here, to have relinquished, and did allow myself a liberty in them, because not openly gross or scandalous, became not only burdensome, and by that light were manifested to be of another nature than that which I was called to the participation of; but in my faithful adherence to its holy counsel and instructions, I was immediately endued with a power that gave dominion over them. And being in measure redeemed from that to which the curse is pronounced, I sensibly enjoyed the blessings that attended a reconciliation. And ever since I have been conversant with their principles have I found one article that did not receive a full and satisfactory assent from that very grace, spirit, or light of God which first called me from the gross impieties, vain entertainments, tempting glories, and will-worships of this generation. As I have the seal of God's eternal spirit of love upon my soul as an infallible assurance, so, since my first frequenting of them and their assemblies, I have observed that holy, innocent, and righteous conversation which harmonizes with the severity, circumspection, and self-denying life of the Gospel; and testify (as revealed from God) that since those centuries in which the apostasy eclipsed the beauty of the primitive light there has not been so glorious a discovery of spiritual, pure, and evangelical worship, life, and doctrine as God has, in his loving-kindness, raised the so much despised Quakers to own, practice, and declare amongst the nations; as the good old way of holiness that leads from intemperance, vanity, pride, oppression, and the love of this world's perishing glories, to that everlasting joy and rest which is reserved for the people of the most high God. In short, they are sound in principle, zealous for God, devout in worship, earnest in prayer, constant in profession, harmless and exemplary in their lives, patient in sufferings, orderly in their affairs, few in words, punctual in dealings, merciful to enemies, self-denying as to this world's delights and enjoyments; and to sum up all, standards for the God of heaven, against the pride, cruelty, lust, avarice, etc., of this godless generation, whom the unborn shall call blessed when their testimonies are finished, and they gathered into the unspeakable solace and possession of God's eternal presence.

<<Part II of PENN>>>>

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