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but to save them : and it is the devil that is the destroyer of men's lives about religion, and that blinds and corrupts men and women, and makes them deaf and blind to the things of God, and to halt out of God's way. They that obey the evil one and forsake the Lord, such the destroyer doth destroy: but Christ doth destroy that destroyer, and in Christ all have life.'
I writ another paper also concerning meditation, delight, exercise and study; shewing from the scriptures of truth, what the true Christians ought to meditate upon, and to exercise their minds in, and what they should take delight in, and what they should study to do. For in these things, not the profane and loose people only, but even the great professors of religion are very inuch mistaken; taking delight in earthly, fading, perishing things, whereas they ought to meditate on heavenly things, and to delight in the law of God after the inward man, and exercise themselves to have always a conscience void of offence towards God, and towards men, as the apostle Paul did.
And inasmuch as sufferings continued very sore and heavy upon friends not only in the city, but in most parts of the nation, I drew up a paper to be presented to the king; setting forth our grievances therein, and desiring redress from him in those particular cases, which I understood were in his power. But not having relief from him, it came upon me to write an epistle to friends, to encourage them in their sufferings, that they might bear with patience the many exercises that were brought upon them, both from the outward magistrates, and by false brethren and apostates, whose wicked books and filthy slanders did grieve the upright-hearted. This epistle I writ at Dalston, wbither I went to visit an ancient friend that lay sick:
• Friends and brethren in Christ Jesus, whom the Lord hath called and gathered into him, in him abide ; for without him (to wit, Christ) ye can do nothing, and through him ye can do all things, who is your strength and support in all your trials, templations, imprisonments and sufferings, who for Christ's sake are accounted as sheep for the slaughter : and in all these things we are more than copquerors, through Christ who hath loved us. And there fore, friends, though ye do suffer by the outward power.. ye know that the prophets, Christ, and the apostler sufiert by the unconverted. And though ye do sufier bis ta. brethren, and false a postates for a time, and to tier 1.
books and tongues; whose tongues indeed are become no slander, let them speak, write or print what they will; for the sober people even of the world hardly regard it. And it is well they have manifested themselves to the world, that their folly may proceed no farther ; though to the utmost of their power they have shewed their wicked intent, to stir up the magistrates, professors and profane against us, and to speak evil of the way of truth. But God's judgment will overtake them, and come upon them, as sure as they have come upon those that are gone before them. Let their pretence be never so high, mark their end; for they will fall like untimely figs, and wither like the grass on the top of the house. T'hough they may seem to flourish, and make a boast and a noise for a time, yet the seed is on the head of such, which will grind them to powder; which seed bruises the serpent's head. Therefore in this seed, Christ, who is your sanctuary, rest, peace and quiet habitation, who is the first and last, and over all, in him walk; for the Lord taketh pleasure in his people that are faithful, and that serve and worship him, And therefore let the saints be joyful in glory; and the God of peace, the God of all grace, who hath called us into his eternal glory by Jesus Christ, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, establish, strengthen and settle you; casting all your care upon the Lord, for he careth for you. And, dearly beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing had happened unto you; for it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for welldoing, than for evil-doing : and rejoice, inasmuch as ye are made partakers of Christ's sufferings. Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God, commit the keeping of their souls to him in well-doing as unto a faithful Creator; for unto you is given, in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for his sake. So it is given, or is a gift from Christ to suffer for his name; and therefore (as I said before) rejoice, inasmuch as ye are made partakers of Christ's sufferings. And if ye be reproached, or evil spoken of for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you : on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. And therefore if any suffer as Chris, tians, let them not be ashamed, but let them glorify God on this behalt. Though now for a season ye are in sufferings, and trials, and temptations, that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than that of gold, which perishes, though it be tried with fire, may be found unto
praise, honour and glory, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation. Therefore mind your Keeper wherever ye are, or what sufferings soever ye be in; and mind the example of the apostle, how he suffered trouble as an evil-doer unto bonds. But the word of God is not bound, which is everlasting and endures for ever; and they who are in that, which is not everlasting, and doth not endure for ever, cannot bind the word. And the apostle said, I endure all things for the elects' sake, that they may also obtain the salvation, which is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory (mark, with eternal glory.) And if we suffer with Christ, we shall reign with Christ, who abide faithful. Therefore strive not about words to no profit, but shun profane and vain babblings, for they will increase unto more ungodliness ; so that ye may be vessels of honour, sanctified and meet for Christ your Master's use, and prepared unto every good work. 'Follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience and meekness, and fight the good fight of faith with your heavenly weapons, which faith is victory (or gives victory) by which ye lay hold on eternal life, and have access unto God, who will render to every man according to his deeds; to then, who by patient continuing in well-doing, seek for glory, and honour, and immortality; eternal life: but unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness; indignation and wrath; tribulation and anguish upon every soul of man, that doth evil; but glory, honour and peace to every man that worketh good. Christ said to his disciples, “ If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it bated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love its own; but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” And, “ If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you.” And John in his general epistle to the church saith, “ Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren." And Christ in his prayer to his Father saith of his followers; “As tbou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world; and the glory which thou gavest me, I have given them, that they may be one, even as we are one And therefore all ye, that know God and Jesu Chris (whom to know is eternal life) and are partaker. Es glory, keep the testimony of Jesus, and be valies: tu as truth upon earth, that ye may be all settled upu ? the rock and foundation.' Palston, the 3rd of the Eiglith month, 1682.
I made but little stay at Dalston, but returned again to London, where I continued most part of the winter, labouring in the service of truth amongst friends; save that I was a little while at Kingston, in the tenth month this year; where I writ a book, setting forth the state of the birth temporal, and the birth spiritual: and the duty and state of a child, youth, young men, aged men, and fathers in the truth, &c. But I staid not long at Kingston neither, for the heat of persecution still continuing, I felt my ser. vice to be most at London; where our meetings were for the most part disturbed and broken up, or friends were forced to meet without doors, being kept out of their meet. ing houses by the officers. Yet sometimes, beyond expec. tation, we got a quiet and peaceable meeting in the houses. One time I was minded to have gone a mile or two out of town, to visit a friend that was not well; but bearing that the king had sent to the mayor to put the laws in execution against dissenters, and thai the magistrates thereupon in. tended to nail up the meeting-bouse doors, I had not free. dom to go out of town, but was mored to go to the meeting in Gracechurch-street. And notwithstanding all the threats, a great meeting it was, and very quiet, and the glory of the Lord shone over all.
The same week I went to the meeting at the Peel in John'sestreet; and the sessions were holdea the same day at Hicks's-hall. I went to the Peel in the morning, and William Mead being to appear at the sessions-house for not going to the steeple-house-worship, he came once or twice from Hicks's-ball to me at the Peel; which some illminded people observing, went and informed the justices at the beach that he was gone to a meeting at the Peel. Whereupon the justices seat a messenger, to see if there were a meeting; but this being in the foregoon, there was no meeting there then ; and so the messenger, when he had looked about, went back and told them. Then others is. forbed the justices that there would be a meeting there about three or four in the afternoon: whereupon thes seat for the chief coastable, and asked him wby be su fered a meeting to be at the Peel, so aigh him. He told them, he did not know of any meeting there. They asked him, how he could but know it, and live so nigh to it. He said, he was never there in bis life, and did not know that there was a meeting there. They would have persuaded bin that he must reeds know of it, but he standing statist in the denial of it, they said they shogid take order to have it looked after in the a:ternoon. But a multitude of business cuming before them at the sessions, wien dinner-time
came, they hastened to their dinner, without giving order. And when they came to the bench again after dinner, the Lord put it out of their minds, so that they sent no officer; and so the meeting was quiet, beginning and ending in peace; and a blessed meeting we had, the Lord's presence being preciously amongst us. Many friends had a concern upon their minds, when they saw me come into the meeting, lest I should have been taken ; but I was freely given up to suffer, if it was the Lord's will, before I went to the meeting ; and had nothing in my mind concerning it but the Lord's glory. And I do believe the Lord put it out of their minds, that they should not send to break up our meeting that day. Yet the first-day after, three or four justices (as I heard) came to the Peel, and put friends out of their meeting there, and kept them out; and inquired for William Mead, but he was not there.
That day I was moved to go to Gracechurch-street meeting; and it was expected that the officers would come to break up the meeting, or keep friends out; and many hundreds of people came to see what would be done to us. But the officers came not, and so we were in peace and quietness : and many of the people that came to look on, staid all the time; and a glorious, precious meeting we had; for the Lord's presence was plentifully amongst us, and his power came over all; glory to his name for ever, who is over all.
I had seen the mayor's printed speech for putting the laws in execution against dissenters : and it was much in my mind, that we should draw up a paper to send to the mayor and aldermen, to clear ourselves from being such, as those laws were made against; and to set forth our peaceable behaviour both towards the king and the government. Accordingly a paper was drawn up, and signed, and delivered to the mayor, and copies thereof to the aldermen, and to the bishop of London also ; and they generally took it kindly, and were civil to the friends that delivered it.
About this time I was moved to write the few lines following to friends :
• Dear friends,
Feel the power of God in you all, and over all, and by it let all your hearts be united to one another, and to the Lord God, who hath gathered you to himself by his power and spirit, to be a people to serve and worship him. So that you may all strive to excel one another in virtue, and in that love that doth bear all things, and doth edity the body of Christ, the body of the second Adam. For the