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did walk in the Spirit of Christ, by it to have the evil spirit and its fruits mortified and cut down in them; then, not being led by the evil spirit, but by the good Spirit of Christ, the fruits of the good Spirit would appear in all men and women; for as people are led by the good Spirit of Christ, it leads them out of sin and evil, which the magistrates' sword takes hold upon, and so would be an ease to the magistrates. But as people err from this good Spirit of Christ and follow the evil spirit, which leads them into sin and evil; that spirit brings the magistrate into a great deal of trouble, to execute the law upon the sinners and transgressors of the good Spirit. That Spirit that leads people from all manner of sin and evil, is one with the magistrates' power, and with the righteous law; for the law being added because of transgression, that Spirit that leads out of transgression, must needs be one with that law that is against transgressors. So that Spirit that leads out of transgression, is the good Spirit of Christ, and is one with the magistrates in the higher power, and owns it and them: but that spirit that leads into transgression, is the bad spirit, and is against the law, and against the magistrates, and makes them a great deal of troublesome work. Now the manifestation of the good Spirit is given to every man to profit withal; and no man can profit in the things of God, but by the Spirit of God, which brings to deny all sin and evil. It is said of Israel, Nehem. ix. “ The Lord gave them his good Spirit to instruct them, yet they rebelled against it.” But if all people did mind this manifestation of the Spirit, which God hath given to instruct them, it would lead them to forsake all manner of sin and evil, enmity, hatred, malice, and all manner of unrighteousness and ungodliness, and to mortify it. And then in the Spirit of Christ they would have fellowship and unity, which is the bond of peace; and then would love and peace, which are the fruits of the good Spirit, flow among all them that are called Christians.
Now we are a people, who in tenderness of conscience to the command of Christ and of his apostle, cannot swear; for we are commanded in Matth. v. and James v. to keep to yea and nay, and not to swear at all, not by heaven, nor by earth, nor by any other oath, lest we go into evil, and fall into condemnation. The words of Christ are these, Ye have heard that it hath been said by (or to) them of old time, thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths; these were true and solemn oaths, which they who made ought to perform in old time: but these Christ and his apostle forbids in the
gospel times, as well as false and vain oaths. Now if we could take any oath at all, we could take the oath of allegiance, as knowing that king Charles was by the power of God brought into England, and set up king of England, &c. over the heads of our old persecutors; and as for the pope's supremacy, we do utterly deny it. But Christ and the apostle having commanded us not to swear, but to keep to yea and nay, we dare not break their commands; and therefore many have put the oaths to us, as a snare, that they might make a prey of us. So our derying to swear is not in wilsulness, stubbornness, or contempt, but only in obedience to the command of Christ and l.is apostle; and we are content, if we break our yea and nay, to suffer the same penalty as they should that break their oaths. We desire therefore that the king would take this into his consideration, and how long we have suffered in this case. This is from one who desires the eternal good and prosperity of the king, and of all his subjects in the Lord Jesus Christ.'
About this time I had a fit of sickness, which brought me very low and weak in my body, and I continued so a pretty while, insomuch that some friends began to doubt of my recovery; and I seemed to myself to be amongst the graves and dead corpses. Yet the invisible power did secretly support me, and conveyed refreshing strength into me, even when I was so weak that I was almost speechless. And one night, as I was lying awake upon my bed in the glory of the Lord, which was over all, it was said unto me, that the Lord had a great deal more work for me to do for hiin, before he took me to himself.
Endeavours were used to get me released, at least for a time, till I was grown stronger, but the way of effecting it proving difficult and tedious (for the king was not willing to release me by any other way than a pardon, being told he could not legally do it; and I was not willing to be released by a pardon, which he would readily have given me, because I did not look upon that way as agreeable with the innocency of my cause) a friend, one Edward Pitway, having occasion to speak with justice Parker upon some other business, desired him to give order to the jailer, that in regard of my weakness, I might have liberty to go out of the jail into the city. Whereupon justice Parker wrote the following letter to the jailer, and sent it to the friend to deliver.
" Mr. Harris, • I have been much importuned by some friends to George Fox to write to you. I am informed by them that he is in a very weak condition, and very much indisposed ; what lawful favour you can do for the benefit of the air for his health, pray shew him. I suppose the next term they will make application to the king. I am, Sir,
Your loving friend,
Henry PARKER. Evesham, the 8th of
After this my wife went to London, and spake with the king, laying before him my long and unjust imprisonment, with the manner of my being taken, and the justice's proceedings against me, in tendering me the oath as a snare, whereby they had premunired me; so that I being now his prisoner, it was in his power and at his pleasure to release, which she desired. T'he king spake kindly to her, and referred her to the lord-keeper; to whom she went, but could not obtain what she desired, for he said the king could not release me otherwise than by a pardon; and I was not free to receive a pardon, knowing I had not done evil. And if I would have been freed by a pardon, I needed not have lain so long, for the king was willing to have given me a pardon long before, and told Thomas Moore that I need not scruple being released by a pardon, for many a man, that was as innocent as a child, had had a pardon granted him; yet I could not consent to have one, For I had rather have lain in prison all my days, than have come out in any way dishonourable to truth; where fore I chose to have the validity of my indictment tried before the judges. And thereupon, having first had the opinion of a counsellor upon it (one Thomas Corbet of London, whom Richard Davis of Welchpool was well acquainted with, and recommended to me) an habeas corpus was sent down to Worcester to bring me up once more to the King's Bench bar, for the trial of the errors in my indictment. The under-sheriff set forward with me on the fourth day of the twelfth month, there being with us in the coach the clerk of the peace and some others. The clerk had been my enemy all along, and now sought to ensnare me in discourse; but I saw and shunned him. He asked me what I would do with the errors in the indictment? I told bim they should be tried, and every action should crown itself. He quarrelled with me for calling their ministers priests :
1 asked him if the law did not call them so ? Then he asked me what I thought of the church of England ; were there no Christians among them? I said, they are all called so, and there are many tender people amongst them. We came to London on the eighth of the twelfth month, and on the eleventh I was brought before the four judges at the King's Bench, where counsellor Corbet pleaded my cause. He started a new plea; for he told the judges that they could not imprison any man upon a premunire. Whereupon the chief justice Hales said, Mr. Corbet, you should have come sooner, at the beginning of the term with this plea : he answered, we could not get a copy of the return and of the indictment. The judge replied, you should have told us, and we would have forced them to have made a return sooner. Then said judge Wild, Mr. Corbet, you go upon general terms, and if it be so, as you say, we have committed many errors at the Old Bailey, and in other courts. Corbet was positive that by law they could not imprison upon a premunire. The judge said, there is summons in the statute. Yes, said Corbet, but summons is not imprisonment; for summons is in order to a trial. Well, said the judge, we must have time to look in our books and consult the statutes : so the hearing was put off till the next day. The next day they chose rather to let this plea fall, and begin with the errors of the indictment; and when they came to be opened, they were so many and gross, that the judges were all of opinion that the indictment was quashed and void, and that I ought to have my liberty. There were that day several great men, lords and others, who had the oaths of allegiance and supremacy tendered unto them in open court, just before my trial came on; and some of my adversaries moved the judges, that the oaths might be tendered again to me, telling them I was a dangerous man to be at liberty. But judge Hales, who was then chief-justice of England, said he had indeed heard some such reports of me, but he had also heard many more good reports of me; and so he and the rest of the judges ordered me to be freed by proclamation. Thus after I had suffered imprisonment a year and almost two months for nothing, I was fairly set at liberty upon a trial of the errors in my indictment, without receiving any par, don, or coming under any obligation or engagement at all; and the Lord's everlasting power went over all, to his glory and praise, and to the magnifying of his name for ever! amen. Counsellor Corbet, who pleaded for me, got great fame by it, for many of the lawyers came to him, and told him he had brought that to light which had 'not been
known before, as to the not imprisoning upon a premunire; and after the trial a judge said to him, you have attained a great deal of honour by pleading George Fox's cause so in court.
During the time of my imprisonment in Worcester, (notwithstanding my illness and want of health, and my being so often hurried to and fro to Londou and back again) I writ several books for the press; one whereot' was called, A Warning to England. Another was, To the Jews, proving by the Prophets that the Messiah is come. Another, concerning Inspiration, Revelation, and Prophecy. Another, Against ali vain Disputes. Another, For all Bishops and Ministers, to try themselves by the Scriptures. Another, To such as say we love none but ourselves. Another entituled, Our Testimony concerning Christ. And another little book concerning Swearing; being the first of those two that were given to the parliament. Be. sides these I writ many papers and epistles to friends, to encourage and strengthen them in their services for God, which some (who had made profession of truth, but had given way to a seducing spirit, and were departed from the unity and fellowship of the gospel, in which friends stand) endeavoured to discourage them from, especially in their diligent and watchful care for the well-ordering and managing the affairs of the church of Christ; which may be read amongst the rest of my epistles.
Now after I was set at Jiberty, I visited the friends in London, and having for some time been very weak, and not yet well recovered, I went down to Kingston for a little season. But I did not stay long there, but having visited the friends there, I returned to London again, and writ a paper to the parliament, and sent several books to them. And a great book against swearing had been delivered to them a little before, the reasonableness whereof had so much influence upon inany of them, that it was thought they would have done something towards our relief therein if they had sat longer. I staid in and near London until the yearly meeting came on, to which friends came up from most parts of the nation, and some from beyond the seas; and a glorious meeting we had in the everlasting power of God. : After this meeting was over, the parliament being also risen (who had done nothing for nor against friends) I clear of my service for the Lord at London. And having taken my leave of friends there, and bad a glorious meeting with some of them at John Elson's in the morning before I came away, I set forward from thence with my