The Missing Cross to Purity

The Journal of George Fox - 1655 - 1656 - Further Ministry and Lancaster Jail <page 3 >

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Surely, friend, there must be a very great offence to deprive a man of justice, of being heard as to wrong, of the benefit of the law, and of those laws before stated; to defend the justice and equity of which, a man has adventured his blood and all that is dear to him. But to stand covered, (or with the hat on), in conscience to the command of the Lord, is made by you such an offence, (which is not in the law), and rendered upon us, (who are innocent, serving the living God), effectual to deny us justice; though the laws of God, and of man, and the oath, and equity and reason say the contrary, and on it pronounces such a penalty. "If you will be uncovered, (said you), I will hear you, and do you justice:" but justice we had not, nor were we heard, because Jesus Christ, who is the higher power, the lawgiver of his people, in our consciences commanded us not to respect persons; whom we choose to obey rather than man. You have cast us into prison and have kept us there until today because of our obedience to him; having showed us neither law for it, nor scripture, nor instances of either, nor example of heathens or others. Friend come down to that of God that is just in you, and consider, was there ever such a thing as this heard of in this nation? What is become of seriousness, of true judgment, and of righteousness? An unrighteous man standing before you with his hat off shall be heard; but an innocent man appearing with his hat on in conscience to the Lord shall neither be heard or get justice. Is not this regarding of persons contrary to the laws before mentioned, and the oath, and the Law of God? Understand, and judge. Did we not acknowledge authority and government often before the court? Did you not say in the court, you were glad to hear so much from us of our owning magistracy? We did not plead to the indictment, though it was such a novel one as England had never heard of before? Did we not come when you sent for us? Did we not go when you told us to go? And are we not still prisoners at your command and at your will? If the hat had been such an offence to you, could you not have ordered it removed from our heads, when you often heard us declare that we could not remove our hat in conscience to the commands of the Lord; and that for that reason, we did not comply in taking hats off, not in contempt of you, or of authority, nor in disrespect to yours or any  persons, (for we said, we honored all men in the Lord, and owned authority, which was a terror to evil doers, and a praise to them that do well; and our souls were subject to the higher powers for conscience sake), as you caused them to be taken off, and to be kept so, when you called the jury to find us transgressors without a law? What effort have you made to take away the righteousness of the righteous from him, and to cause us to suffer further, whom you knew to have been so long wrongfully in prison contrary to law? Is not liberty of conscience a natural right? Had there been a law in this case, and we being bound up in our consciences that we could not have obeyed it, was not liberty of conscience there to take place? For where there is law no law against, there needs no plea of liberty of conscience: but the law have we not offended; yet in your will have you caused, and do you yet cause us to suffer for our consciences, where the law requires no such thing: and yet for liberty of conscience has all the blood been spilt, and the miseries of the late wars undergone, and, as the protector said, this government undertaken, to preserve it; and a natural right, he said, it is; and he that would have it, he said, ought to give it. And if it be a natural right, as is undeniable, then to attempt to force it, or to punish a man for not doing contrary to it, is to act against nature: which as it is unreasonable, so it is the same as to offer violence to a man's life. And what an offence that is in the law, you know; and how, by the common law of England, all acts, agreements, and laws that are against nature are mere nullities: and all the judges cannot make one case to be law that is against nature. But put the case, our standing with our hats on had been a violation of the law, and we willfully, and in contempt, and not out of conscience had stood so, (which we deny), yet that is not grounds for us to be denied justice, or to be heard, as to the wrong done to us. "If you will not offend in one case, I will do you justice in another:" this is not the language of the law, or of justice, which distributes to everyone their right; justice to whom justice is due; punishment to whom punishment is due. A man who does wrong may also have wrong done to him; shall not he who is wronged have right, unless the wrong be corrected to right by he who wronged? The law said not so; but the wrong doer is to suffer, and the sufferer of wrong to be righted. Otherwise is this not a denying, a letting or stopping of even law and execution of justice, and a bringing under the penalties before said? Mind and consider.

And should you have accused, when no witness appeared against us, as in the particulars of striking Peter Ceely, and dispersing books, (as you said), against magistracy and ministry, with which you did falsely accuse one of us? Said not the law, "The judge ought not to be the accuser!" much less a false accuser. And were you not such a one, in affirming, that he distributed books against magistracy and ministry, when the books were violently taken out of our chamber, not distributed by him, or any of us? Nor did you offer any evidence that the books,  you so violently did cause to be taken away, were against magistracy or ministry; or did you bother to respond to his denial of your charge; when he asked you to support your charges by showing the books. Is not the sword of the magistrate of God to pass upon such evil doing? And according to the administration of the law, ought not accusations to be by way of indictment, wherein the offence is to be charged, and the law expressed, against which it is? Can there be an issue without an indictment? Or can an indictment be found, before proof is made of the offence charged therein? And has not you herein gone contrary to the law, and the administration of that, and your duty as a judge? What just cause of offence gave George Fox to you, when, upon your producing a paper concerning swearing, sent by him, (as you said), to the grand jury, and requiring him to say, whether it was his handwriting? he answered. "Read it up before the country; and when he had heard it read, if it were his, he would own it." Is it not equal, and according to law, that what a man is charged with before the country, should be read in the hearing of him and of the country? When a paper is delivered out of a man's hand, alterations may be made in it to his prejudice, which, on a sudden looking over it, may not presently be discerned; but by hearing it read up, may be better understood whether any such alterations have been made therein? Could you in justice have expected, or required him otherwise to do? Considering also, that he was not insensible how much he had suffered already, being innocent; and what endeavors there were used to cause him further to suffer?' Was not what he said a plain and single answer, and sufficient in the law? Though, (as has been demonstrated), contrary to law you did act, and to your office, in being his accuser therein, and producing the paper against him. And in his liberty it was, whether he would have made you any answer at all to what you did exhibit, or demand out of the due course of law: for to the law answer is to be made; not to your will. Why you were then so filled with rage and fury upon that his reply? Calmly, and in the fear of the Lord, consider. Why did you revile him, particularly with the reproachful names of juggler and prevaricator? What did he juggle? What did he prevaricate? Why did you use such threatening language, and such menacings to him and us, saying, you would ferk us, with such like? Does not the law forbid reviling, and rage, and fury, and threatening, and menacing of prisoners? Soberly mind; is this to act like a judge, or man? Is not this transgression? Is not the sword of the magistrate of God to pass on this as evil doing, which the righteous law condemns, and the higher power is against, which judges for God? Take heed what you do; for you judge not for man, but for the Lord, who is with you in the judgment: "Why now, let the fear of the Lord be upon you; take heed, and do it: for there is no iniquity with the Lord our God, nor respect of persons, nor taking of gifts," said Jehoshaphat to the judges of Judah. Pride, and fury, and passion, and rage, and reviling, and threatening, are not the Lord's: these, and the principle out of which they spring, are for judgment, and must come under the sword of the magistrate of God; and of an ill savor, especially such an expression, as to threaten to ferk us. Is not such a saying more becoming a pedant, or schoolmaster with his rod or ferule in his hand, than you, who are the chief justice of the nation, who sit in the highest seat of judgment; who ought to give a good example, and so to judge, that others may hear and fear? Weigh it soberly, and consider. Does not threatening language demonstrate an inequality and partiality in him who sits as a judge? Is it not a deterring of a prisoner from standing to and pleading the innocency of his cause? Does not the law forbid it? Does the law not say that irons and all other bonds shall be taken from the prisoner, that he may plead without confusion, and with such freedom of spirit as if he were not a prisoner?  But when he, who is to judge according to the law, shall beforehand threaten and menace the prisoner contrary to the law, how can the mind of the prisoner be free, to plead his innocence before him; or expect equal judgment from him, who before he hears him, threatens what he will do to him? Is not this the case between you and us? Is not this the measure we have received at your hands? In this matter, have you acted according to law, or to your duty, or as you would be done unto?  Let that of God in your conscience judge.

And did you not say, there was a law requiring the removal of  the hat; and that you would show a law; and did you not often so express yourself? But did you produce any law; or show where that law might be found; or any judicial precedent, or in what king's reign, when we so often desired it of you? We have never heard of, or known any such law, by which you did judge us. Was not what we demanded of you reasonable and just? Was that a savory answer, and according to law, which you gave us, viz. "I am not to carry the law books at my back, up and down the country; I am not to instruct you." Was ever such an expression heard, before these days, to come out of a judge's mouth? Is he not to be of counsel in the law for the prisoner and to instruct him accordingly? Is it not for this cause that the prisoner, in many cases, is not allowed counsel by the law? In all courts of justice in this nation, has it not been known so to have been?

And to the prisoner has not this been often declared, when he has demanded counsel, alleging his ignorance in the law, by reason of which his cause might miscarry, though it were righteous, viz. "The court is of counsel for you" Ought not he that judges in the law to be expert in the law? Could you not tell by what act of parliament it was made, or by what judicial precedent, or in what king's reign, or when it was adjudged so by the common law, (which are all the grounds the law of England has), had there been such a law, though the words of the law you could not remember? Surely, to inform the prisoner when he desired it, especially as to a law which was never heard of, by which he proceeds to judge him, that he may know what law it is by which he is to be judged, becomes him who judges for God: for so the law was read to the Jews, by which they were to be judged, yes, every Sabbath day; this was the commandment of the Lord. But instead of that, to say, "I am not to carry the law books at my back, up and down the country; I am not to instruct you:" to say, "there is a law," and to say, "you will show it," and yet not show it, nor to tell where it is to be found; consider whether it be consistent with savoriness, truth, or justice?
Have not your whole proceedings against us made it evidently to appear that your desire was to cause us to suffer, not to deliver us, who being innocent, suffered; to have us aspersed and reproached before the country, not to have our innocence cleared and vindicated? Does not your taking away our books, as before said, and the perusing of them in such haste before our trial, and your accusing us with something which you said was contained in them, make it appear that matter was sought out of them in order to charge us, when the et cetera warrant would not stand in law by which we stood committed, and were then upon our delivery according to the due course of law? Does it not further appear, by your refusing to take from our hands a copy of the strange et cetera warrant by which we were committed, and of the paper for which we were apprehended, to read it, or cause it to be read; that so our long sufferings, by reason of both might be looked into, and weighed in the law, whether just or righteous, and the country might as well see our innocence and sufferings without a cause, and the manner of dealing with us, as to hear such reports which went of us as great offenders, when we called upon you often so to do, and which you ought to have done, and said you would do, but did it not; nor so much as took notice before the country that we had been falsely imprisoned, and had wrongfully suffered? But what might asperse and charge us you brought in yourself, contrary to law, and did call to have us charged therewith. Is not this further manifest, in that you did cause us, on a sudden, to be withdrawn, and the petty jury to be called in with their verdict; whereupon Peter Ceely's falsely accusing George Fox "with telling him privately of a design, and persuading him to join in," was by George Fox made so clear to be a manifest falsehood, and so plainly to be perceived, that the cause of our sufferings was not any evil we had done, or law that we had transgressed, but malice and wickedness? And is it not abundantly clear, from your not permitting us to answer and clear ourselves of the many foul slanders charged upon us in the new found indictment, of which no proof was made? But when we were answering thereunto, and clearing ourselves of that, you did stop us, saying, "You minded not those things, but only the putting off the hat:" when, as before the country, the new found indictment charged us with those things, and the petty jury brought in their verdict, "Guilty of the trespasses and contempts mentioned therein;" of which (except as to the hat) not one witness or piece of evidence was produced; and as to the hat, not any law or judicial precedent, upon the transgression of which all legal indictments are to be grounded? Now the law seeks not for causes whereby to make the innocent suffer; but helps him to right who suffers wrong, relieves the oppressed, and searches out the matter, a man stands accused is guilty of not; seeking judgment and hastening righteousness; and it said, " The innocent and the righteous slay you not." But whether you have done so to us, or the contrary, let the witness of God in you search and judge; as these your fruits do also make manifest.

And friend, consider how abominably wicked, and how highly to be abhorred, denied and witnessed against, and how contrary to the laws such a proceeding is, as to charge a man with many offences in an indictment, which they who draw the indictment, they who prosecute, and they who find the bill, know to be false, and to be put in purposely to reproach and wound his good name; whom, with some small matter which they can prove, they charge and indict, as is the common practice at this day. Prove but one particular charge in the indictment, and it must stand, (say they), for a true bill; though there be never so many falsehoods and lies therein, on set purpose to wrong him who is maliciously prosecuted: this is known to the judges, and almost to every man who has to do with and attends their courts. How contrary is this to the end and righteousness of the law, which clears the innocent and condemns the guilty, and condemns not the righteous with the wicked! Much it is cried out of; but what reformation is there of that? How else shall clerks of assize, and other clerks of courts fill up their bags, (out of which perhaps their master must have a secret consideration), and be heightened in pride and impudence; that even in open court they take upon them to check and revile men without reproof, when a few lines might serve instead of a hundred? How else shall the spirit that is in men, that lusts unto envy, malice, strife, and contention, be cherished and nourished, to feed the lawyers and dependents on courts with the bread of men's children and the ruin of their families, to maintain their long suits and malicious contentions! For a judge to say, "I mind not these things; I will not hear you; clear yourselves of what you are falsely accused of; one thing I mind in your charge, the rest are but matter of form, set there to render you such wicked men before the country, as the thing that is to be proved against you is not sufficient to make out." Oh! abominable wickedness, and perverting of the righteous end of the law, which is so careful and tender of every man's peace and innocence! How is the law in the administration of that adulterated by the lawyers, as the scriptures are mangled by the priests! And what was made to preserve the righteous, and to punish the wicked, perverted to the punishing of the righteous and the preserving of the wicked! An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, life for life, burning for burning, wound for wound, a stripe for a stripe; he that accuses a man falsely, to suffer the same as he should have suffered, who was falsely accused, if he had been guilty. This said the righteous law of God; which is agreeable to that of God in every man's conscience. Are not such forms of iniquity to be denied, which are so contrary to the law of God and man; those which serve for the gendering of strife, and the kindling of contention? And was not this nature what used to cause us to be indicted? And did not you uphold this form by not permitting us to answer to the many foul slanders therein; saying, “Those things you mind not." Will not the wrath of God be revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; who are so far from the power of godliness, that they have not the form, but the form of iniquity, which is set up and held up instead of and as a law, to overthrow and destroy the righteousness of the righteous, and so to shut him up as by the law he can never get out? Is not the cry, think you, gone up? "It is time for you to set to your hand, 0h Lord, for your enemies have made void your law!" Draws not the hour near? Fills not up the measure of iniquity apace? Surely the day is coming, and hasten. You have been warned from the presence, and by the mouth of the Lord; and he will be clear when he comes to judgment, and upright when he gives sentence. That of God in everyone of your consciences shall so to him bear witness and confess, and your mouths shall be stopped, and before your judge shall you be silent, when he shall divide you your portion, and render unto you according to your deeds. Therefore, while you have time, prize it, and repent: for verily, "our God shall come, and shall not keep silence; a fire shall devour before him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about him. He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that he may judge his people; and the heavens shall declare his righteousness: for God is judge himself. Consider this, you that forget God, for fear that he tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver."

And, friend, should you have given judgment against us, (wherein you did fine us twenty marks apiece, and imprisonment until payment), without causing us, being prisoners, to be brought before you, to hear the judgment, and to move what we had to say in arrest of judgment? Is not this contrary to the law, as is manifest to those who understand the proceedings of that? Is not the prisoner to be called before judgment be given? And is not the indictment to be read, and the verdict? And is not liberty to be given him to move in arrest of judgment? And if it be a just exception in the law, ought not there to be an arrest of judgment? For the indictment may not be drawn up according to law, and may be wrong placed, and the offence charged within may not be a crime in law; or the jury may have been corrupted or menaced, or set on by some of the justices; with other particulars, which are known to be legal and just exceptions. And the judgment ought to be in the prisoner's hearing, not behind his back; as if the judge were so conscious of the error of that, that he dares not give it to the face of the prisoner. But these privileges of the law, this justice we, (who had so long and so greatly suffered contrary to law), received not, nor could have at your hands; no, not so much as a copy or sight of that long and new found indictment, (which in England was never heard of before, nor that the matter contained therein was an offence in law, nor ever was there any law or judicial precedent that made it so), though two Friends of ours, in our names and behalf, that night, the next day, and the day following, often desired it of the clerk of the assize, and his assistant and servants; but they could not have it, nor so much liberty as to see it. And it is likely it was not unknown or unperceived by you, that, had we been called as we ought to have been, or had known when it was to be given, three or four words might have made a sufficient legal arrest of the judgment given on that new found indictment, and the verdict thereupon. Therefore as our liberties, who are innocent, have not in your account been worth the minding, and esteemed fit for nothing but to be trampled under foot and destroyed; so, if we find fault with what you have done, you have taken care that no door be left open to us in the law, but a writ of error; the consideration whereof, and the judgment to be given thereon, is to be had only where yourself is chief; of whom such complaint is to be made, and the error assigned for the reverse of the judgment. And what the fruit of that may be well expected to be, by what we have already mentioned as having received at your hands, you have given us to understand. And here you may think you have made yourself secure and sufficiently barred up our way of relief, against whom, (though you knew we had done nothing contrary to the law or worthy of bonds, much less of the bonds and sufferings we had sustained), you have proceeded, as has been rehearsed; notwithstanding that you are, as are all the judges of the nation, entrusted not with a legislative power but to administer justice, and to do "even law and execution of right to all, high and low, rich and poor, without having regard to any man's person;" and are sworn so to do; and wherein you do contrary are liable to punishment, as ceasing from being a judge, and becoming a wrong doer and an oppressor; which what it is to be many of your predecessors have understood, some by death, others by fine and imprisonment. And of this you may not be ignorant, that to deny a prisoner any of the privileges the law allows him, is to deny him justice; to try him in an arbitrary way, to rob him of that liberty which the law gives him, which is his inheritance as a freeman: and which to do, is in effect "to subvert the fundamental laws and government of England, and to introduce an arbitrary and tyrannical government against law;" which is treason by the common law: and treasons by the common law are not taken away by the statutes of 25 Edw. III. 1 H. IV. 1, 2. m. See O. St. Johns, now chief justice of the common pleas, his argument against Strafford, fol. 65, &c. in the case.

'These things, friend, we have laid before you in all plainness, to the end that, (with the light of Jesus Christ, who lights everyone that comes into the world, a measure of which you have, which shows you evil and reproves you for sin, for which you must be accountable), you being still and cool may consider and see what you have done against the innocent, and shame may overtake you, and you may turn to the Lord, who now calls you to repentance by his servants, whom, for witnessing his living truth in them, you have cast into, and yet continues under cruel bonds and sufferings,'

Edward Pyot

From the Jail in Lanceston, the 14th day of Fifth-mo. 1656

By this letter the reader may observe how contrary to law we were made to suffer; but the Lord, who saw the integrity of our hearts to him, and knew the innocence of our cause, was with us in our sufferings, bore up our spirits, and made them easy to us; and gave us opportunities of publishing his name and truth among the people: so that several of the town came to be convinced; many were made loving to us, and Friends from several parts of the country came to visit us; among whom were two out of Wales, who had been justices of the peace. Judge Hagget's wife, of Bristol, came to visit us, who was convinced, with several of her children; and her husband was very kind and serviceable to Friends, and had a great love to God's people, which he retained to his death.

Now in Cornwall, Devonshire, Dorsetshire, and Somersetshire, truth began mightily to spread; many were turned to Christ Jesus and his free teaching: for many Friends that came to visit us were drawn to declare the truth in those counties; which made the priests and professors rage, and they stirred up the magistrates to trap Friends. They set up watches in the streets and highways, on pretence of taking up suspicious persons; under which excuse they stopped and took up Friends coming to visit us in prison; which they did to prevent them from traveling in the Lord's service. But the way they planned to stop the truth was the means of spreading it even more; for then Friends were frequently moved to speak to one constable, and the other officer, and to the justices they were brought before; which caused the truth to spread more in all their parishes. And when Friends were arrested by the watches, it would be two or three weeks before they could get out of them again; for no sooner had one constable arrested them and taken them before the justices, and they had discharged them, than another would arrest them and take them before other justices, which put the country to a great deal of needless trouble and charges.

As Thomas Rawlinson was coming out of the north to visit us, a constable in Devonshire arrested him; and at night took twenty shillings out of his pocket; and after being robbed, he was cast into Exeter jail. They cast Henry Pollexfen also into prison in Devonshire, under pretence of him being a Jesuit; he had been a justice of the peace for almost forty years before. Many Friends were cruelly beaten by them; some clothiers that were but going to mill with their cloth, and others going about their natural business were arrested and whipped even though these men who earned  about eighty or a hundred pounds by the year and were not more than four to five miles from their families.

The mayor of Lanceston arrested all he could and cast them into prison. He would search the under clothing of middle class dignified women. I drew up all the gross, inhuman, and unchristian actions of the mayor and when a young man came to see us, gave it to him, telling him to seal it up and leave the prison by the back way, and then go into the town through the gates. He did so, and the watch arrested him and carried him before the mayor. He soon searched his pockets and found the letter, in which he read all his actions reported. This so shamed him that from that time on he seldom interfered with the Lord's servants.

{They cast Henry Polixphen into prison at Devonshire for being a Jesuit; he had been a Justice of the Peace for the past forty years. This action exhibited the rage and the fruits of the Presbyterians, Independent Puritans, and Baptists in the time they referred to as "their gospel times," which the time of the power of darkness instead.}

From the sense I had of the trap that was laid, and mischief intended in setting up those watches at that time to stop and arrest Friends, it came upon me to give forth the following lines, as

An exhortation and warning to the magistrates.

All you powers of the earth, Christ has come to reign, and is among you, and you know him not; who enlightens everyone of you, that you all through him might believe, who is the light, who treads the wine press alone without the city, and whose feet are upon it. Therefore see all, and examine with the light what you are ripe for; for the press is ready for you.

Before honor is humility. All you that would have honor before you have humility, are you not as the heathen are? You would have honor before you have humility; did not all the persecutors that ever were upon the earth want this humility? They wanted the honor, and yet would have the honor before they had the humility, and have learned that. So you that are out of humility, are out of the honor, and you are not to have the honor who have not the humility: for "before honor is humility," mark before it.

You pretend liberty of conscience, yet a person cannot carry a letter to a Friend, nor men visit their friends, nor visit prisoners, nor carry a book about them, either for their own use or for their friends! Men cannot see their friends: but watches are set up against them to catch and stop them; and these must be well armed too against an innocent people, that have not so much as a stick in their hands, who are in scorn called Quakers. Yet those who set up these watches  pretend liberty of conscience; who take up them whose consciences are exercised towards God and men, who worship God in spirit and truth; which they that are out of the light call heresy. These set up watches against those they in scorn call Quakers, because they confess and witness the true light, that lights everyone that comes into the world among people as they pass through the country, or among their friends. This is the dangerous doctrine which watchmen are set up against, to subdue error, as they call it, which is the light that enlightens every man that comes into the world; him by whom the world was made, who was glorified with the Father before the world began. For those whom they in scorn call Quakers, have they setup their watches, able men, well armed, to take them up that bear this testimony either in words, books, or letters. So that is the light you hate, which enlightens every man that comes into the world; and these that witness to this light you put in prison; and after you have imprisoned them, you set up your watches to arrest all that go to visit them, and to imprison them also. So that by setting up your watches, you would stop all relief from coming to prisoners. Therefore this is the word of the Lord God to you, and a charge to you all, in the presence of the living God of heaven and earth: every man of you being enlightened with a light that comes from Christ, the savior of people's souls; to this light, all take heed, that with it you may see Christ from whom the light comes, you may see him to be your savior by whom the world was made; who said, learn of me. But if you hate this light, you hate Christ who enlightens you all, that through him (who is the light) you might believe. But not believing in the light, or bringing your deeds to the light, which will make them manifest and reprove them, this becomes your condemner, even the light. Remember you are warned in your lifetime; for this light is your way to salvation, if you walk in it; and this light is your condemner, if you reject and hate it. You can never come to Christ, the second priest, until you come to the light with which the second priest has enlightened you. So you that come not to the light; you go to the priests that take tithes, as did the first priesthood; and so hale out of your synagogues and temples as that priesthood did which took tithes: which those of the second priesthood did not. Was there ever such a generation! Or did ever such a generation of men appear as do now in this age, who are so full of madness, envy, and persecution, that they stand up in watches, with bills and weapons, against the truth, to persecute it, as the towns and countries declare; which rings as Sodom, and like Gomorrah! And this has its liberty, and truth is stood against; and to reprove sin is accounted a breach of the peace, as those say who are out of the truth, and set up their watches against it.'

George Fox

Besides this general warning, I received a copy of a warrant issued from the sessions of Exon, in express terms, ‘For apprehending of all Quakers;' wherein truth and Friends were reproached and vilified, I was moved to write an answer to it, and send it abroad, for the clearing of truth and Friends from the slanders within cast upon them; and to manifest the wickedness of that persecuting spirit from where it proceeded, which was after this manner:

As there was a warrant granted the last sessions held at Exon, on the eighteenth day of the Fifth-month, 1656, which warrant is "For the apprehending and taking up all such as are Quakers, or call themselves Quakers, or go under the belief of Quakers;" and is directed "to the chief constables, to be sent by them to the petty constables, requiring them to set watches, able men with bills, to take up all such Quakers as before said;" and where in your said warrant you speak of the Quakers spreading seditious books and papers; I answer, they, whom you in scorn call Quakers, have no seditious books or papers; but their books are against sedition, and seditious men, seditious books, seditious teachers, and seditious ways. Thus you have numbered honest men, godly men, holy men, men that fear God, among beggars, rogues, and vagabonds; putting no difference between the precious and the vile. You are not fit to judge, who have set up your bills; and armed your men to stand up together in battle against innocent people, the lambs of Christ; who have not lifted up a hand against you. But if you were sensible of the state of your own country, your cities, your towns, your villages, how the cry of them is like Gomorrah, the ring like Sodom, and the sound like the old world, where all flesh had corrupted its way, which God overthrew with the flood; if you did consider this with yourselves, you would find something to turn the sword against, and not against the lambs of Christ, and not make a mock of the innocent, that stand a witness  against all sin and unrighteousness in your towns and steeple-houses. Noah, the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, was grieved with the filthy conversation of the wicked; so are we now. Just Lot was grieved with their unmerciful deeds, and the filthy conversation of Sodom. And were not these hated of the world, and of them that lived in filthiness? And you speak of those you in scorn call Quakers, that they are a grief to those whom you call pious and religious people, and their religion; such as are in the religion that is vain, whose tongues are not bridled. I believe the Quakers are a grief to those whose religion is vain, but they are not a grief to such as are in the pure religion, which keeps unspotted of the world; which sets not up bills, nor watches, to maintain it by the world. Those in the pure religion are not of the world, and are kept unspotted of the world. Mark, the "pure religion, which keeps unspotted of the world." But such as are in the religion that is not pure; who have a form of godliness, and not the power, such as you call pious, the truth itself to such was always a grief; and so it is in this age.

And now your fruits appear, the end of your religion and profession, and what you possess; but you are in the error, and have been except in the profession, while out of the possession of the spirit, and therefore not in the spirit of truth. For where did that ever set bounds, and number the just and innocent with the wicked? But the wicked set bounds and limits to the just, and numbered them among the wicked; yes, all manner of evil they spoke of them, as you are doing now of us. According as it was foretold in the scripture, such as tremble at the word of God, you cast out and hate, you that have your temple-worship. You say the Quakers come to disturb you in your churches, as you call them. Was it not the practice of the apostles to go into the synagogues and temples, to witness against the priesthood that took tithes? Was it not the practice of the Jews to hale them out, persecute them, and stone them, that witnessed Christ the second priest, and went to bring people off from the first priesthood?  Was it not the practice of the prophets to go and cry against the high places? And was it not the practice of the Jews, when they were backslidden, and of the heathen, to imprison and persecute the prophets, and send after them into other countries? Is not this your practice now, who are holding up your high places which the Papists set up, which you now call your churches; where you beat and persecute? What kind of religious people are you, who are filled with so much madness? Did not Paul confess he was mad while he was in your practice, haling, beating, imprisoning, putting out of the synagogues, having his authority from the chief priests? And are not the chief priests the cause of this? Was there ever such a cry made in any age past, as there is now in the pulpits, railing against an innocent people, who lift not up a hand against you; and who are indeed the pious, that are of the pure religion, who fear God, and worship him in the spirit and in the truth, but cannot join with you in your religion? Do not the ministers of God say that the scriptures are a declaration, which you call the “word”? Do not you rob Christ of his title and of his honor, and give it to the letter, and show yourselves out of the doctrine of the ministers of God, who called the scriptures by the name of writings, and treatises, and declarations: and said, Christ's name is called the word of God? Are not you here in the error you speak of, which is common talk among you? There was talk among some of you of your gospel-shining. Does the gospel persecute? Did any of those that did possess it ever cast anyone into prison, and not allow others to visit them? Are you like christians in this, or like heathen, who set bounds and watches over the land, that they should not pass to visit those in prison? Was ever the like heard in any age? Search and see, if you have not outstripped them all in your watches, if not in your manner of persecution, and in your imprisonments. And Oh! never say that we are a grief to them that are in the pure religion.

And whereas in your warrant we are represented as disaffected to government; I say, the law, that is a terror to the evil doer, we own; the higher power, to which the soul must be subject; but we deny the evil doer, the malicious man reigning, and the envious man seeking for his prey, whose envy is against the innocent; who raises up the country against honest men, and so becomes a trouble to the country, in raising them up to take the innocent: but that we leave that to the Lord to judge. Your false accusations of heresy and blasphemy we deny. You should have declared the details, that people might have seen them; and not have slandered us behind our backs. The law said, The crime should be mentioned in the warrant. Then for your saying, "We deny the godly minister" to be a true ministry of Christ;” that is false; for we say, the godly ministers are the ministers of Christ. But which of your ministers dare say that they are truly godly? And for your charging us with seducing many weak people, that is false also; we seduce none. But you, that deny the light which lights every man that comes into the world, are seduced from the anointing which should teach you; and if you would be taught by it, you would not need that any man should teach you. But such as are taught by the anointing which abides in them, and deny man's teaching, these you call seducers, quite contrary to John's doctrine. 1 John 2:26-27. That which is truth you call seducing; and what he calls seducing, you call truth. Read the latter part of the chapter. And beware, I warn you all from the Lord God of glory, set not any bound against him. Limit not the Holy One of Israel; for the Lord is rising in power and great glory, who will rule the nations with a rod of iron, which to him are but as the drop of a bucket. He that measures the waters in the hollow of his hand will dash nations together as a potter's vessel. And know, you that are found in this his day blaspheming his work which he has brought forth, calling it blasphemy, fighting against it, setting up your carnal weapons, making your bonds strong; God will break asunder what your carnal policy has invented, and which by your carnal weapons you would uphold, and make you know there is a God in heaven who carries his lambs in his arms, which are come among wolves, and are ready to be torn in pieces in every place, yes, in your steeple-houses; where people have appeared without reason and natural affection. Therefore all you petty constables, sheriffs, and justices, take warning; take heed what you do against the lambs of Christ; for Christ is come, and coming, who will give to everyone of you a reward according to your works, you that have the letter, which speaks of Christ; who are persecuting what the scripture speaks of; so your fruits make you manifest. Therefore everyone, sheriffs, justices, constables, etc., consider what you possess, and what a profession you are now in, that all these carnal weapons are set up against the innocent, yes, against the truth; which shows, that you have not the spiritual weapons; and that you lack the counsel of Gamaliel, yes, you lack the counsel of such a man among you, who said, "Let the apostles alone: if it be of God, it will stand; if it be not, it will come to nothing." But you may see yourselves, on the contrary, in the spirit of them that came with Judas, with swords and staves from the chief priests against Christ; it is still against Christ, where he is made manifest. Paul (while Saul) went against him, though he and the Jews professed a Christ that was to come; yet Paul persecuted him, where he was manifested in his saints. So you profess a Christ that is come, but persecute him where he is manifest. You that have the letter, the high places, the synagogues, you persecute him where he is made manifest in his saints, as the Jews did. Those who were in the letter, out of the life, persecuted them that were in the life of what they professed in the letter: so do you persecute them that are in the life, and are yourselves strangers to it; as your fruits make apparent. You have numbered the people of God among transgressors; but have you imprisoned any of the rogues and transgressors you speak of? You have imprisoned the innocent, and let the others go free.

George Fox

When I had sent abroad the foregoing, so great a sense came upon me of the veil of darkness that was over the priests and professors of christianity, that I was moved to give forth the following, as an awakening warning to them:

Blindness has happened to the professed christians of the letter now-a-days, as blindness happened to the Jews; who professed the letter, but owned not the life, which the letter speaks of; as the christians now, to whom this blindness has happened, who profess the scripture, but own not the life which the scripture speaks of. For against the life the Jews stood, who professed the letter of the scripture; but they were blind, they gathered counsel against the life; they were in an uproar, when the babe was born in Bethlehem, Herod and all the chief priests. And Herod sought to destroy all the young children in Bethlehem, yet missed the babe; Herod, that fox, though he put John to death. You may see here, how the literal professors stood up, not for the truth, but quite against it. Furthermore, the chief priests consulted together how they might take Jesus by subtlety, and put him to death; mark, by their subtlety. The professors of a Christ that was to come, they preached of a Messiah, of a Christ, of a savior; but denied the life, when he was made manifest. The chief priests, who were gathered together with the council, said his disciples had stolen him away by night; and gave large sums of money to the soldiers to declare this. Likewise in the day, when the children of Israel were in Egypt, and they with their children began to spread and multiply, the Egyptians said, "Come let us deal wisely with them to afflict them and tax them;" which held until the Lord overthrew their oppressors, and brought his seed by his mighty power from under the oppressor, and exalted his son above all; though the heathen raged, and the people imagined vain things. He made his power known, that all might see that there was no God upon the earth but himself. This power now has brought forth the work of the Lord! Many, who are turned to the light, Christ, have received the power of God, and are thereby become the sons of God. Now this birth, that is born of God, are all the powers of the world joined together to crucify; to put to death those Jews in the spirit, as they put Christ to death in the flesh formerly. This is the birth that all the wicked world is enraged against. Against this they set their watches, this birth, brought forth by the mighty God of Jacob, who rides upon the high places of the earth. This is the birth that the professed christians without the life in our days rage against, and lay all their wisdom about. Are not the chief priests and wise men of the earth consulting together how they may destroy this birth? Is not this the birth that is banished out of your hearts, you that profess the scripture, and are talkers of it, but do not own the light and life which the scripture speaks of, as the Jews would not; and so will not have Christ to reign over you, as they would not? Do you not hale out of your synagogues, and before magistrates? Do you not herein fulfill Christ's words, who said to his disciples, they should be haled out of the synagogues, and before rulers! Do you not persecute them from city to city? Do you not almost fill your prisons with them? And now set your watches, that none should visit them, whom you have put into prison? Is not this an unchristian spirit? How can you for shame say, you are upholders of truth? Or how can you for shame say, that truth has been professed among you? We grant that you have talked of it. And how can you for shame say, "The gospel shines among you," when you will not own it, the life of it; when you call it error, and the evil seed yes, the very truth, the very life of truth you have blasphemed against now, as the Jews did against Christ, calling him a devil; you now call it error, and the evil seed, and stand up against it, and turn the sword against it. As it was in the days of the Jews who turned the sword against Christ; so it is in these days of the christian professors of the scripture, but out of the life that gave it forth; as those were the Jews outward in the flesh, not the Jews in the spirit. Is it not a shame to the ministers of the gospel, (as they are called), that they can find no better way to maintain what they call the truth, and their gospel, than by carnal weapons, stocks, prisons, whips, watches, and wards, and powers of the earth? Were these the apostles' weapons? Carnal watches, stocks, prisons, and halings out of the synagogues, when they came to speak? Judge yourselves, what an anti-christian spirit you have. Never talk of defending truth with what is against truth. For are you not setting up the rabble of the world against it? Do they not join with you, with swords and staves against it? Is this the life of Christians? Is not this the life of error, and of the evil seedsman? Surely you would find work enough, if you were in the fear of the Lord, to turn your swords against the profaneness, the oaths and wickedness that are in your streets and highways. How do they ring like Sodom, and give a sound like Gomorrah! But these are become a prey in this age, that reprove in your gate sin, wickedness, and profaneness. They are become your by word. Against them your councils are gathered, them you cast into prison, and hale them out of your synagogues; and cast them likewise into prison that write and speak against it; and set your guards to stop and hinder any from visiting them whom you cast into prison, and give them the names of vagabonds and wanderers. Was ever the like heard in the days of the heathen against the apostles, who witnessed the gospel? Did they set guards and watches in every town, in every city, to take the disciples, the brethren, the believers, that heard the apostles were cast into prison, and came to see what they wanted? Show you not as much rage and fury now in your age, as was in those in that age? How can you talk of the gospel, and of defending the gospel, when you are setting guards and watches against it, and are defending what stands against it; and the lambs of Christ are almost torn to pieces among you, who are like wolves? For the Lord has now sent his lambs among wolves. Have not you professed the words of Christ, the prophets, and apostles, as the Jews had long professed the scriptures, the words of Moses, and the prophets, that prophesied of Christ that was to come; and stood against him when he was come? As you do in this day of his reign, in this day of his glorious gospel, who are persecuting the messengers of it, imprisoning them, persecuting them in your streets and highways, and setting up your watches against them who bring the glad tidings of peace to your souls; whose feet are beautiful atop of the mountains; mark, atop of the mountains; that against which the mountains rage and swell; but God will make them to melt; the sun is risen, which will make them to melt. God will cleave the rocks and mountains asunder, and make the hills to bow perpetually; for his son he will exalt, and his glory he will give to him, and not to another. Therefore be awakened, you rulers of the earth, and take counsel of the Lord. Take not counsel together against him. Make not your bonds strong. Set not yourselves in battle against him; for you will be found but as briers and thorns before him, which the fire shall consume. Therefore be awakened, all you talkers of the scripture, that gather yourselves together by your multitudes and meetings, and have had your teachers; but not having the spirit that gave forth the scriptures, the Lord God of glory, the Father of spirits, will scatter you. All your bonds will not hold you together, who are out of the spirit, which is the bond of peace. The threshing instrument is gone forth, which will beat the hills to pieces. Zion is risen to thresh. Out of the holy mountain is the trumpet sounded. Stand not up against the Lord; for all nations are to him as the drop of a bucket. He that measures the waters in the hollow of his hand, and weighs the earth in scales, the Lord of hosts is his name, who is now risen and rising, to plead the cause of the innocent, and is exalting his son, and bringing his sheep to him. Now are they seen and known, that feed upon wind, that are lifted up, given up to believe lies; who report, and say, "Report, and we will report it." Now are they seen, who have a form of godliness, but deny the power: so Christ is denied; for Christ is the power of God. And the power being denied by you, that have a form of godliness, and the words of the scriptures; the gospel is denied for the gospel is the power of God. Thus it is among you that have the knowledge and wisdom that is sensual, earthly, and devilish. Does it not appear so? Let your jails and watches witness your fruits in every town. Your wisdom is earthly, sensual, and devilish. You have a knowledge and wisdom, but not what is from above; for that is pure and gentle, so is not your knowledge. But to know Christ is life eternal. Your fruits have manifested, that you are not of this; and so out of the power of God, which is the cross of Christ; for you are found in the world, out of the power of God, out of the cross of Christ, persecuting. So what does persecute, and send forth writings and decrees to stop and take up all, and set watches, and prepare bonds to limit the Lord; to imprison and persecute, and suffer none to go and visit them; this shows you are not christians, but stand against the christian life, which brings to love enemies. Where is your love to your enemies who are thus persecuting your Friends? "He came to his own, and his own received him not." Here is a turning the sword against the just. Do you show here a christian's life, or yourselves christians, who are filling your jails with the christians in the spirit, you that are in the letter, (in shadows), as the Jews in the letter did put the Jews in the spirit into prison? Is not this the fruit in our days of christians in the letter, to put christians in the spirit into prison? Does not this show that your decrees, which you have sent forth, proceed from death, who thus act against the life, and them that are in it; which the scriptures were given forth from? Is it not here, as it was with Saul, when he went to persecute, to hale, to prison, and bind all that he could find calling upon that name, who were christians in the life, the spirit, such as you are persecuting, because they are in the life, though you profess their words? Are not your decrees gone forth from the same spirit of envy, against the same spirit of Christ they were in? Is it not manifest to all that fear God, and to the sober minded and honest hearted people, that see your practices, your decrees, your letters, to stop, to molest, to hinder, to imprison them that are moved of the Lord to do his will, or to go to visit prisoners whom you have imprisoned? Does this show you to have a spirit like Paul, yes, or no? Are you not quite contrary, like them that persecuted Paul? The day has declared it. To that of God in you all I speak, which shall witness it at the last day, in the day of judgment. Persecution was blind in all ages; and madness and folly led it; yet persecution got always a form or pretence of godliness, a talk of religion, as in the days of Moses, of Jeremiah, of Christ, and of the apostles. "Come," said the council, "let us crush them while they are young, they have almost overspread the nation in every corner." This is as much as to say, "Let us put this birth to death, as Pharaoh and Herod did the children." But the Lord caused his truth the more to spread. For you may read what numbers came out of Egypt, and what multitudes followed Christ! Therefore with consideration read these lines, and not with fury. Let not foolishness appear; but consider in humility the paths you go in, what spirit you are of, and what the end of your conduct is; for in love to your souls I write, that in the day of your visitation you may consider it.

From him who loves righteousness, and the establishing of it, and truth, peace, and faith, which is by Christ Jesus. (Mercy and peace be multiplied among such!) But a witness against all hypocrites, and all who have a profession, but live out of the possession; in a hypocritical religion, in the lusts and fashions of the world, having a form of godliness, but standing against the power with might and main, sword and staff. Which things declare your conversation and practices to be out of Christ's life, against the gospel practice, and contrary to the manner and order of the saints.

George Fox

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