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to recommend unto friends the setting up of the quarterly and monthly meetings in all counties, for the looking after the poor, and taking care for orderly proceedings in marriages; and other matters relating to the church of Christ : though some meetings for this end were settled in the North of England in the year 1653.
And after this also, truth still spreading further over the nation, and friends encreasing in number, I was moved by the same eternal power to recommend the setting up the women's meetings also; that all, both male and female, that had received the gospel, the word of eternal life, might come into the order of the gospel, brought forth by the power of God, and might act for God in the power, and therein do business and service for him in his church, All the faithful must labour in God's vineyard, they being his hired servants, and he having given them the earnest of his spirit. For a master that hires a servant, and gives him the earnest of his hire, expects he should do his work, after he knows his will, in the outward creation; so all God's people, that be of the new creation, and have received the earnest of his Spirit, ought to labour with, by, and in his spirit, power, and grace, and faith in the light, in God's vineyard, that they may have their wages every one, male and female, when the; have done God's work and business in his day, which is eternal life. But none can labour in his vineyard, and do his work and will, but as they walk in the heavenly divine light, grace, and spirit of Christ; which is, hath been, and is, my travail and labour in the Lord to turn all to.
But some that professed truth, and had made a great shew therein, being gone from the simplicity of the gospel into jangling, division, and a spirit of separation, endea. voured to discourage friends, (especially the women) from their godly care and watchfulness in the church over one another in the truth, opposing their meetings, which in the power of the Lord were set up for that end and service. Wherefore I was moved of the Lord to write the following epistle, and send it forth among friends, for the discovering of that spirit by which those opposers were acted, and its work and way, in and by which it wrought; and to warn friends of it, that they might not be betrayed by it:
• All my dear friends, live in the seed of peace, Christ Jesus, in whom ye have all life. And that spirit that comes amongst you to raise up strife, is out of Christ; for it is the spirit that is not easy to be intreated, nor gentle, so not of the wisdom of God, which is justified of her
children; and so they that follow that spirit, are none of Wisdom's children. Now there is a spirit that hath made a separation, and has been against men and women's meetings, yet has set up one of their own, whom they have given power to; and that none shall sit amongst them, but whom they give power to, but shall be looked upon as usurpers of authority. Now this spirit and its work' is not of God, though it has made some jumble amongst some; and the path it may travel in, is through the earthly affections, or the unestablished, or apostates. But all that are in the life, and spirit, and light, and grace, and truth, and the power of God, bar it out; and such as sit under their own vine, Christ Jesus, and are grafted into him, have no need of their exhortation or counsel; for the true believers are entered into their rest. And therefore all keep in the gospel of peace, and they that be heirs of the kingdom, and of it, keep in your possession of it.
Now some that are of this spirit have said to me, they see no service in women's meetings. My answer is, and hath been, to them and such, if they be blind and without sight, they should not oppose others, for there is none imposes any thing upon them; for God never received the blind for a sacrifice, neither can his people. But Christ has enlightened all, and to as many as receive him, he gives power to become the sons of God; and such as be heirs of his power, and of his gospel, which brings life and immortality to light, they can see over him that has darkened them; and all such do keep the order of the gospel, the power of God, and their meetings in it, which
preserves them in life and in immortality. And all these do see the great service of the men's and of the women's meetings, in the order of the gospel, which is the power of God; for they are meet-helps in this power, which is the authority of their meetings. And now I say to all you, that be against women's meetings or the men's, and say you see no service for the women's meetings, and oppose them, you are therein out of the power of God, and his spirit you live not in. For God saw a service for the assemblies of the women in the time of the law, about those things that appertained to his worship and service, and to the holy things of his tabernacle; and so do they in the same spirit see now their service in the gospel; many things in those meetings being more proper for the women to see into than the men; and they in the power and wisdom of God may inform the men of such things as are not proper for them; and the men may inforın the women of such things as are not proper for them, as meet-helps each unto ano
ther. For in the time of the law, by the law of God, the women were to offer as well as the men; and so in the time of the gospel much more are they to offer their spiritual sacrifices ; for they are all called, both men and women, a royal priesthood, and they are of the household of faith, and they are the living stones that make up the spiritual building, which Christ is the head of, and are to be encouraged in their labour in the gospel; for all things that they do, both men and women, are to be done in the power of God. And all such as see no service for these women's meetings, or the men's, but do oppose them, and make strife amongst friends, are in the same spirit of the world, that is against and forbids our other meetings; and are in the same spirit of the world, that hath been and is against women's speaking in meetings, and says they must be silent, &c, though the same apostle commands that men should keep silence as well as the women, if there were not an interpreter. And therefore all friends, you may see that the spirit of the world hath entered such opposers, though they come under another colour; for they would not have us to meet at all. And these are against the women's meetings, and some of them against the men's also, and say they see no service for them : then they may hold their tongues, and not oppose them that do see their service for God in these meetings.
• Therefore all you that feel the power of God, and your service for God, as aforesaid, in them, you men and women, keep your meetings in the power of God, the authority of them, as they were settled in it, and then ye will be preserved both over this spirit that opposes them, and over the spirit of the world that opposes your other meetings; for it is all one in the ground, and would bring you into bondage. For such are out of the peaceable gospel who oppose its order; and out of the faith that works by love ; and out of the wisdom that is gentle, and easy, and peaceable, &c. and out of the kingdom that stands in peace and joy. Therefore keep over that spirit that sows discord or dissension, and would draw you from your habitation and possession in the order of the gospel; for it is the same spirit that deceived Adam and Eve, by which they lost their habitation in the righteousness and holiness, and their dominion; and so that spirit got over them, and so it would get over you. One while it will tell you it sees no service for your meetings, and another time oppose you; but I say, this is the blind spirit, which is out of the power of God, and which the power of God is over, And
therefore keep in the power, that ye may stand up for your liberty in Christ Jesus, males and females, heirs of him
and of his gospel, and his order; and so stand up for your liberty in the gospel, and in the faith, which Christ Jesus hath been the author of; for if ye lose it, and let another spirit get over you, ye will not so soon regain it again. For I knew the devil would bestir himself in his instruments, when men's and women's meetings came to be set up, and all in the power, light, and truth, and heirs of the gospel, to take their possession of it in every county and city, in it to walk, and to watch one over another, and in it to take care of God's glory and honour, and his precious truth; and to see that all did walk in the truth, and as becomes the gospel, and to see that nothing was lacking; and so whatsoever was decent, modest, virtuous, lovely, comely, righteous, and of good report, to follow after; and to admonish and exhort all that was not faithful, and to rebuke all that did evil; I knew that this would give such a check to all loose speakers, talkers, and walkers, I did not expect but that there would be an opposition against such meetings. But never heed, truth will come over them all, and is over them all, and faith must have the victory; for the gospel and its order is everlasting, and the seed (Christ) is the beginning and the ending, and will out-last all; the amen, in whom ye have peace. I say all that do oppose the men's and women's meetings, or that marriages should be laid before them, or of recording of condemnations of sin and evil, or admonishing or exhorting such as walk not in the truth; they are of a loose spirit, and their spirits tend to looseness : and let them také them that will, for truth will not have them, nor will have none of their sacrifice; for nothing is accepted of God but what is done in truth, and in his Spirit, wbich is peaceable. And the authority of our men's and women's meetings is the power of God; and all the heirs of the gospel are heirs of that authority and dignity; and this is of God, and shall answer the witness of God in all. And the greatest opposers of this practice and work will be, and are, such as have been convinced of God's truth, but have not lived in it; and such were the greatest troublers of the church in Moses's day, and in the days of the apostles: but mark their end, and read what became of them all. And therefore all keep your habitation in truth, and therein ye may see what became of all the opposers of it for twenty years past : they are all gone, and the truth lives and reigns, and the seed is over all, and all is one in it, in rest, peace, and
life everlasting; and therein they sit down together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, the amen.
G. F. Swarthmore, the 5th of the
8tla month, 1676.
In this year, while I was at Swarthmore, died William Lampit, the old priest of Ulverstone (which is the parish that Swarthmore is in.) He was an old deceiver, and perverter of the right way of the Lord, and a persecutor of the people of God; and much contest I had with him when I first came into those parts. He had been an old false prophet; for in the year 1652 he prophesied (and said he would wage his life upon it) that the quakers would all yanish, and come to nought within half a year: but he came to nought himself. For he continued in his lying and false accusing of God's people, till a little before he died, and then he cried for a little rest : and to one of his hearers that came to visit him before he died, he said, I have been a preacher a long time, and thought I had lived well; but I did not think it had been so hard a thing to die.
Now after I had finished those services which lay upon me then to do, feeling my spirit drawn again towards the south, (though I was yet but weakly, and not able to travel far in a day) I left Swarthmore on the twenty-sixth day of the first month, 1677, and went to Thomas Pearson's at Powbank, in Westmoreland, where I had a meeting the next day; and went from thence to Thomas Cam's, at Cam's-Gill, whither Robert Widders with his wife, and several other friends, came to see me before I left the country, and to be at the meeting there the next day, which was very large, and in which I was largely drawn forth in testimony to the truth. After the meeting I had much discourse with some of that meeting, who at that time were not in unity with friends of the quarterly meeting they belonged to; but afterwards several of them that were somewhat tender, came to see their error, and gave forth condemnations against themselves. Next day John Blaykling came to Thomas Cam's, to bring me to his house at Drawell in Sedberg, in Yorkshire, wbither I went „with him, visiting friends in the way. I staid at Drawell two or three nights, having meetings there and thereabouts; for while I was there, the men and women's meetings were held there, which were very large and precious, And on the first-day following 1 had a meeting at BrigHlats, not far off, where were most part of the friends from