« VorigeDoorgaan »
holy spirit and truth the devil is out of, and cannot come into it.
And now, I desire all Christian magistrates to take heed of persecuting any, though they differ from you in matters of faith, worship, and religion. For Christ saith, Let the tares and the wheat grow together till the harvest; and be forbad such as would be plucking up tares: the reason was, lest they should pluck up the wheat also; for that, Christ said, should be his angels' work, to separate the tares from the wheat. Moreover, Christ said, they should go into everlasting punishment that did not visit him in prison in his members : then what will become of them that cast him into prison, where he is made manifest in bis members! Oh, lay these things to heart! A day of judgment will come, vengeance and recompense upon every one according to their works.
And Christ said to his disciples, who would have had fire to come down from heaven to consume them that would not receive him; He turned him about and rebuked them, and told them, they did not know what spirit they were of; for he came not to destroy men's lives, but to save them.
" And therefore let all the magistrates and the priests in that which is called Christendom, consider who have destroyed mens' and womens' lives since the apostles' days, because they could not receive their religions, ways, and worships, (or conform to them) which they have made and set up; have they known what spirit they have been of? Are they not all reproved by, and come under the judgment of Christ? Therefore let all persecution be laid away concerning religion, and let love bear the sway, to overcome evil and enemies; and let patience oversway passion in all such doings : that all may retain the heavenly reason, and the pure understanding, that your moderation in true Christianity may be known to all men. not the Turks, Jews, Tartars, Indians, and atheists' eyes upon you, and upon Christendom? And therefore be in unity, and let not the name of God and Christ be blasphemed amongst them by means of any that bear the name of Christians : so that God may be glorified by all and in all, through Jesus Christ, who is over all, who calls all to peace, who is blessed for ever.
"And now, I would have you to be as noble as the Bereans, and search the scriptures of Christ and the apostles, wherever he or they did give any command to imprison, banish, persecute, or put to death, any, that would
For have you
not receive or conform to them, or that were contraryminded to them in religion, or differed from them in matters of worship?
'. Again, I desire all Christian magistrates to search both scriptures and chronicles, and see what was the end of all persecutors, and what judgments came upon them. What came to Cain, who was the first persecutor for matters of faith and sacrifice ? Did not he become a runnagade, a vagabond, and a fugitive in the earth? What became of the old world, that grieved God and Noah, a preacher of righteousness? What became of Sodom, that vexed just Lot? What became of Pharaoh, that persecuted God's people in Egypt? (though the more he persecuted them, the more they grew.) What became of Ahab and Jezebel, that persecuted the Lord's prophets? And what became of Haman, that would have destroyed the Jews ? What became of the Jews and Jerusalem, that persecuted Christ and the apostles? What was the end of all these ? Are they not become vagabonds in the earth, and driven away from their native country? Therefore I beseech you in the love and fear of God, be so noble as to search both scripture and history, and let not your divine understanding be clouded. What will become of the beast and whore, spoken of in the Revelations, with their false prophets, that have drunk the blood of the saints, martyrs, and prophets of Jesus? Must they not all go with the devil (who is a murderer, destroyer, an enemy, and adversary of mankind) into the lake of fire, that burns with brimstone ? And ye may be sure, that spirit that stirs you up to persecution, let it be in whomsoever it will, is not of Christ and of his lamb-like nature; who takes away the sins of the world, not the lives of men.
• Paul was a persecutor and a haler to prison, before he was couverted to Christianity; but never after. And therefore, are not all in Saul's nature (let them be of what name or profession soever they be) that are persecutors, and unconverted into Paul's life of Christianity? He said, the life that he did live, after he was converted, was by the faith in the Son of God: and that he lived, yet not he, but Christ lived in him, who came to save mens' lives, and not to destroy them; which life should be the life of all Christians now, which Paul in his converted state lived in. And the apostle saith, “ The law is good, if a man use it lawfully; knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless, and for the ungodly, and sinners, and for unholy and prophane, and for murderers of fathers and mothers, and for manslayers, for
whoremongers, and for them that defile themselves with mankind, for men-stealers, liars, and perjured persons, 1. Tim. i. So the law in its place, is good against such. Again the apostle says, “ The law was added, because of transgression,” Gal. iii. 19. Now here all magistrates may see wbat the law in its place is good against; and what it was made for and against; and what evils, the apostle says it takes hold upon : He does not say the law should be laid upon men that differed from them in their religion and judgment, nor upon the righteous men.
And so you may see in what condition the law is good, and what it was made against; not against righteous men, against whom they have nothing in their lives and conversations, only because they differ from them in matters of religion; and let manslayers, whoremongers, perjured persons, ungodly, prophane persons, liars, &c. gounpunished : such do not use, nor execute the law lawfully, as the apostle says, “The law is good, if a man use it lawfully.” Therefore it ought to be used lawfully; which law the apostle says, “is for the punishment of the evil-doers, and a praise for them that do well :” as may be seen, Rom. xiii. And so, as the apostle said, “ We do not break the law, nor make it void; but we establish the law," Rom. iii. 31.'
This is from him who desires the eternal good and
the first month, 1680–1.
After I had finished these services there, I returned to London, where I staid about a month, labouring amongst friends in the work of the Lord, both in public meetings for worship, and in the meetings relating to the outward affairs of the church. Then feeling my spirit drawn to visit friends about Enfield-side, I went down to Walthamabbey, where I had a very precious meeting; and another at Flamstead-heath (not far from thence.) And having spent some time amongst friends there and thereabouts, and had divers good meetings at Edmonton, Enfield, Winchmore-hill, and other places thereaways, I came back to London a little before the yearly meeting, which was in the third month, 1681; it was a very precious meeting, in which the glorious presence and power of the Lord was eminently felt and enjoyed.
Some iime after the yearly meeting was over, it came upon me to write the following epistle, which I directed
To the Quarterly Mens' and Womens' Meetings that are
gathered in the name and power of Jesus.
• Christ, the second Adam, who is both head and husband of his church, and Redeemer, and Purchaser, and Saviour, and Sanctifier, and Reconciler of his sons and daughters (his church) to God, I say, his presence (to wit, Christ's) feel among you, to exercise his prophetical office, in opening of you with his light, grace, truth, power, and spirit; and to exercise bis office, as he is a bishop, to oversee you with his light, grace, power, and spirit, that ye do not go astray from God. And as Christ is a shepherd, feel, see, and hear him exercising that office, who has laid down his life for his sheep, and is feeding them in his living pastures of life, and makes them to drink of his living eternal springs. And let him rule and govern in your hearts, as he is King, that his heavenly and spiritual government all may live under, as true gubjects of his righteous peaceable kingdom, which stands in righteousness, and power, and joy, in the Holy Ghost, over satan and his power, and the unclean, unholy ghost, and all unrighteousness. So all ye subjects to Christ's kingdom of peace, if ye want wisdom, or knowledge, or life, or sal. vation, Christ is the treasure; feel him the treasure among you. And every one among you, as ye have received Christ, walk in him, in whom ye have all peace; who bruises the head of the serpent, that is the author of all strife, distraction, and confusion : yea, you have peace with God, and one with another, though the trouble be from the world and the world's spirit. And therefore, my dear friends, brethren and sisters, love one another with the love that is of God, shed in your hearts; that ye may bear the marks of Christ's disciples, and it may appear that Christ is in you, and ye in bim; so that God Almighty may be glorified among you. And whatever ye do, let it be done in the name of Jesus, to the praise of God the Father, keeping in unity in the holy Spirit of God, which was before the unholy spirit was: which holy Spirit is your bond of peaee, yea, the holy King of kings and Lord of Lords, his peace. And in this holy pure Spirit is your eternal unity and fellowship ; in which spirit of truih ye do serve and worship the God of Truth, who is God over all, blessed for ever, amen.
So the Lord guide you all with his word of patience, word of life, power, and wisdom, in all your actions, lives, conversations, and meetings, to God's glory. My love to you all in the Lord Jesus
Christ, by whom all things were made, and who is over all, the first and the last.'
G. F. London, the 9th of the
4th month, 1681.
About this time I had occasion to go to several of the judge's chambers upon a suit about tithes. For both I and my wife, and several other friends, were sued in Cartmel. Wapentake Court in Lancashire, for small tithes, and we had demurred to the jurisdiction of that court. Whereupon the plaintiff prosecuted us into the Exchequer Court at Westminster, where they run us up to a writ of rebellion, for not answering the bill upon oath; and got an order of court to the serjeant, to take me and my wife into custody. This was a little before the yearly meeting, at which time it was thought they would have taken me up; and according to outward appearance, it was likely indeed that he would; and very easy for him to have done it, I lodging at the same places where I used to lodge, and being very public in meetings. But the Lord's power was over them, and restrained them; so that they did not take me. Yet understanding that there was a warrant out against me, as soon as the yearly meeting was well over, I took William Mead with me, and went to several of the judge's chambers to speak with them about it; and to let them understand both the state of the case, and the ground and reason of our refusing to pay tithes. The first that I went to was judge Gregory, to whom I tendered mine and my wife's answer to the plaintiff's bill; in which was set forth, that my wife had lived three and forty years at Swarthmore, and in all that time there had been no tithe paid nor demanded : and an old man, who had long been a tithe gatherer, had made affidavit, that he never gathered tithe at Swarthmore-hall in judge Fell's time, nor since. There were many particulars in our answer, but it would not be accepted without an oath. I told the judge that both tithe and swearing among Christians came from the pope, and it was matter of conscience to us not to pay tithes nor to swear; for Christ bid his disciples, who had freely received, give freely ; and he commanded them not to swear at all. The judge said, there was tithe paid in England before popery was: I asked him by what law or statute they were paid then; but he was silent. Then I told him, there were eight poor men brought up to London out of the north about two hundred miles for small tithes,