Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

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 him, “they should be tried, and every action should crown itself.” He quarrelled with me for calling their ministers priests. I asked hiin, “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 called so, and there are many tender people amongst them.” We came to LONDON on the 8th, and on the 11th 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 Chief Justice Hale 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 the indictment.” The judge replied, “you should have told us, and we would have forced them to make a return sooner.” Then said Judge Wild, “Mr. Corbet, you go upon general terms; and if it be 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 to 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 Hale said, “He had indeed heard some such reports, 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 pardon, or coming under any obligation or engagement at all; and the Lord's everlasting power went over all, to his glory and praise. Counsellor Corbet, who pleaded for me, obtained 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 London and back again, I wrote several books for the press; one of which was called, 4 Warning to England. Another was, To the Jews, proving, by ihe Prophets, that the Messiah is come. Another, Concerning Inspiration, Revelation, and Prophecy. Another, Against all 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 entitled, Our Testimony concerning Christ. And another little book, Concerning Swearing; being the first of those two that were given to the parliament. Besides these, I wrote 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 of the affairs of the church of Christ.

CHAPTER VII.

1675-1677.-George Fox attends the Yearly Meeting, and afterwards sets forward

towards the North-attends the Quarterly Meeting at Lancaster, and goes thence to Swarthmore-writes many books and papers for the Truth-the titles of several named-writes to Friends in Westmorland to keep in the power of God, and thereby avoid strife-writes an epistle to the Yearly Meeting---nakes a collection and arrangement of his various papers and writings, and of the names of divers Friends engaged in particular service, or against the Truth-some meetings for discipline established in the North in 1653-recites his labours and travels for establishing meetings for discipline-a spirit of discord and separation appears in the church —the separatists are rebuked and reproved--the establishment of men's and women's meetings is much opposed-a narrative of the spreading of Truth, and of the opposition from the worldly powers--death of Priest Lampitt, a persecutor-George Fox travels again towards the South-writes to his wife from York-finds some slack in their testimony against Tithes--writes an epistle to Friends on the subject-attends the Yearly Meeting-with John Burnyeat, and other Friends, visits Wm. Penn at his house at Worminghurst, in Sussex-sets things in order for visiting Holland-precious meeting.

BEING now at liberty, I visited Friends in LONDON; and having been very weak, and not yet well recovered, I went to KINGSTON. I did not stay long, but having visited Friends there, I returned to LONDON, wrote a paper to the parliament, and sent several books to them. A great book against Swearing had been delivered to them a little before; the reasonableness whereof had so much influence upon many of them, that it was thought they would have done something towards our relief, if they had sat longer. I stayed in and near London till the Yearly Meeting, to which Friends came from most parts of the nation, and some from beyond the sea. A glorious meeting we had in the everlasting power of God.

· This meeting being over, and the parliament also risen (who had done nothing for or against Friends), I was clear of my service for the Lord at London. And. having taken my leave of Friends there, and had a glorious meeting with some of them at John Elson's in the morning, I set forward with my wife and her daughter Susan, by coach (for I was not able to travel on horseback) towards the North ; many Friends accompanying us as far as HIGHGATE, and some to DUNSTABLE, where we lodged that night. We visited Friends, and were visited by them, at NEWPORT-PAGNEL, NORTHAMPTON, and COSSEL, where, amongst others, came a woman, and brought her daughter, for me to see how well she was; putting me in mind, “that when I was there before, she had brought her to me, much troubled with the disease called the king's evil, and had then desired me to pray for her;" which I did, and she grew well upon it, praised be the Lord! From Cossel we went on by John Simcock's and William Gandy's, to WARRINGTON and PRESTON, and so to LANCASTER.

I had not been at Lancaster since I was carried prisoner from thence by the under-sheriff and jailer, towards Scarbro' Castle. I found the town

full of people; for it was both the fair time, and the trained bands were met upon a general muster. Many Friends were also in town from several parts of the county, because the Quarterly Meeting was to be there the next day. I stayed two nights and a day at Lancaster, and visited Friends both at their men's and women's meetings, which were very full, large, and peaceable; for the Lord's power was over all, and none meddled with us. Here met us Thomas Lower and his wife, Sarah Fell, James Lancaster, and Leonard Fell. Next day after the meeting, being the 25th of the 4th Month, we went over the Sands, with several other Friends, to SWARTIIMORE.

After I had been a while at Swarthmore, several Friends from divers parts of the nation came to visit me, and some out of Scotland; by whom I understood that four young students of Aberdeen were convinced there this year, at a dispute held there by Robert Barclay, and George Keith, with some of the scholars of that university. *

Among others Colonel Kirby paid me a visit, who had been one of my great persecutors; but now, he said, he came to bid me welcome into the country; and carried himself in appearance very lovingly. Yet before I left Swarthmore, he sent for the constables of Ulverstone, and ordered them to tell me," that we must have no more meetings at Swarthmore; for if we had, they were commanded by him to break them up; and they were to come the next First-day.” That day we had a very precious meeting, the Lord's presence was wonderfully amongst us, and the constables did not come to disturb us. The meetings have been quiet since, and have increased.

The illness I got in my imprisonment at Worcester had so much weakened me, that it was long before I recovered my natural strength again. For which reason, and as many things lay upon me to write, both for public and private service, I did not stir much abroad during the time that I now stayed in the North ; but when Friends were not with me, spent much time in writing for truth's service. While I was at Swarth. more, I gave several books to be printed. One, Concerning Swearing. Another, showing, "that none are successors to the Prophets and Apostles, but who succeed them in the same power and Holy Ghost that they were in.” Another, “ that Possession is above Profession, and how the professors now do persecute Christ in Spirit, as the professing Jews did persecute him outwardly in the days of his flesh.” Also the eight following books, viz. :-To the Magistrates of Dantzic; Cain against Abel; or, an Answer to the New Englandmen's Laws ; To Friends at Nevis, concerning Watching ; t A General Epistle to all Friends in America ; Concerning Cæsar's due, and God's due, &c.; Concerning the Ordering of Families ; The Spiritual Man judgeth all things ; Concerning the Higher Power.

Besides these, I wrote several epistles to Friends, both in England, and beyond the seas; and answers to divers papers concerning “the run

* Some particulars of the controversy here alluded to, may be seen in Barclay's Works; also in Jaffray's Diary, p. 328–330. The students who were convinced issued a written declaration, stating the grounds of their change, which remains on record.

† See Selections from the Epistles of George Fox, by Samuel Tuke.

ning out of some, who had opposed the order of the gospel, and had stirred up much strife and contention in Westmorland.” Wherefore I was moved to write a few lines, particularly to Friends there.

This is for Friends in Westmorland. “All live in the power of God, in his Light and Spirit, which first convinced you; that in it ye may keep in the ancient unity, in humility, in the fear of the Lord, and his gentle and peaceable wisdom, which is easy to be entreated; that in the same Power, Light, and Spirit of God, ye may all be serviceable in your men's and women's meetings, in the possession of the gospel-order; which gospel, the power of God, hath brought life and immortality to light; that in this ye may see over him that hath darkened you. In this power, the glorious gospel, no apostates can come; for the power of God was before apostates were, or the fall of man and woman was, or the devil either, and will be when he is gone. Therefore praise God in the eternal fellowship of the everlasting gospel of Jesus Christ, which is not of man, nor by man. And therefore, all Friends in Westmorland, keep in the power of God, which will and must preserve and cover you, if ye be preserved. Let your faith stand in the power of God, and not in the wisdom of men's words, lest ye fall. In God's power ye have peace, life, and unity; and for want of keeping in God's power, and in his righteousness and Holy Ghost, is all this strife come among you.” G. F.

I also wrote the following general epistle to Friends at the Yearly Meeting in London :

“MY DEAR FRIENDS AND BRETHREN, “Whom the Lord hath preserved by his eternal power to this day, over and through many troubles, storms, tempests, and prisons. Let, therefore, every one's faith stand in the power of God, which is over the Devil, and was before him. So your faith standing in the invisible power of God, stands in that which does not change; and the faith, that Christ Jesus, the power of God, is the author of, must stand in the power of God; so then it stands in that which is over all, in which they are esta. blished. To this the apostle brought the church, the true Christians; and so now the faith of all true Christians, which Christ is the author of, must stand in the power of God, in which the everlasting kingdom stands. As every one's faith stands in the power of God, it keeps all in the power of godliness.

“For as it was in the days of the apostles, when some were crying up Paul and Apollos, and so forth, he judged them as carnal; and exhorted and admonished them, that their faith should not stand in men, nor in the words of man's wisdom, but in the power of God. He said he would not know the speech of them, but the power amongst them; for the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power. So it is to be now. Every one's faith must stand in the power of God, and not in men, nor in their speeches or good words. For we have seen by experience, when any begin to cry up men, and their faith stands in them, such men as would have people's taith stand in them, love popularity, and bring not people's faith to stand

« VorigeDoorgaan »