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order and confusion in worship which must naturally attend it. . But as I had no evil intention or sinister end in engaging in it, but was simply betrayed by the specious pretence and shew of greater spirituality, the Lord, in tender compassion to my soul, was graciously pleased to open my understanding, and give me a clear sight of the enemy's design in this work, and drew me off from the practice of it, and to bear testimony against it, as occasion offered.
But when that solemn meeting was appoint. ed at London, for a travel in spirit on behalf of those who had thus gone out, that they might rightly return, and be sensibly received into the unity of the body again, my spirit rejoiced, and with gladness of heart I went to it; as did many more of both city and country ; and with great simplicity and humility of mind, did honestly and openly acknowledge our outgoing, and take condemnation and shame to ourselves. And some that lived at too remote a distance in this nation, as well as beyond the seas, upon notice given of that meeting, and the intended service of it, did the like by writing, in letters directed to, and openly read in the meeting, which for that purpose was continued many days.
Thus, in the motion of life, were the heal. ing waters stirred; and many through the virtuous power thereof, restored to soundness; and indeed not many lost. And though most of these who thus returned, were such as
with myself, had before renounced the error, and forsaken the practice; yet did we sensibly. find, that forsaking without confessing (in case of public scandal) was not sufficient ; but that an open acknowledgment, of open offences, as well as forsaking them, was necessary to the obtaining complete remission.
Not long after this, George Fox was moved of the Lord to travel through the countries, from county to county, to advise and encour. age Friends to set up monthly and quarterly meetings, for the better ordering the affairs of the church, in taking care of the poor, and exercising a true gospel-discipline, for a due dealing with any that might walk disorderly under our name, and to see that such as should marry among us, did act fairly and clearly in that respect.
1668. When he came into this county, I was one of the many Friends that were with him, at the meeting for that purpose. And afterwards I travelled with Guli and her maid into the west of England to meet him there, and to visit Friends in those parts; and we went as far as Topsham in Devonshire, before we found him. He had been in Cornwall, and was then returning, and came in unexpectedly at Topsham, where we then were providing, if he had not then come thither, to have gone that day towards Cornwall. But after he was come to us, we turned back with him through De. vonshire, Somersetshire and Dorsetshire; having generally very good meetings where he
was : and the work he was chiefly concerned in went on very prosperously and well, without any opposition or dislike, save that in the general meeting of Friends in Dorsetshire, a quarrelsome man, who had gone out from Friends in John Perrot's business, and had not come rightly in again, but continued in the practice of keeping on his hat in time of prayer, to the great trouble and offence of Friends, began to cavil, and raise disputes, which occasioned some interruption and disturbance.
Not only George, and Alexander Parker (who was with him, but divers of the ancient Friends of that country, endeavoured to quiet that troublesome man, and make him sensible of his error ; but his unruly spirit would still be opposing what was said unto him, and jus. tifying himself in that practice. This brought a great weight and exercise upon me, who sat at a distance in the outward part of the meeting, and after I had for some time bore the burthen thereof, I stood up in the constraining power of the Lord, and in great ten, derness of spirit, declared unto the meeting, and to that person more particularly, how it had been with me in that respect; how I had been betrayed into that wrong practice, how strong I had been therein, and how the Lord had been graciously pleased to shew me the evil thereof, and recover me out of it.
This coming unexpectedly from me, a young nian, a stranger, and one who had not inter
medled with the business of the meeting, had that effect upon the caviller, that if it did not satisfy him, it did at least silence him, and made him for the present sink down and be still, without giving any further disturbance to the meeting. And the Friends were well pleased with this unlooked-for testimony from me ; and I was glad that I had that opportunity to confess to the truth, and to acknowledge once more in so public a manner, the mercy and goodness of the Lord to me therein.
By the time we came back from this journey, the summer was pretty far gone, and the following winter I spent with the children of the family as before, without any remarkable alteration in my circumstances, until the next spring, when I found in myself a disposition of mind to change my single life for a married state.
1669. I had always entertained so high a regard for marriage, as it was a divine institu. tion, that I held it not lawful to make it a sort of political trade to rise in the world by. And therefore as I could not but, in my judgment, blame such as I found made it their business to hunt after, and endeavour to gain those who were accounted great fortunes ; not so much regarding what she is, as what she has, but making wealth the chief, if not the only thing they aimed at; so I resolved to avoid in my own practice, that course ; and how much soever my condition might have prompted me as well as others, to seek advantage that way,
never to engage on the account of riches, nor at all to marry, till judicious affection drew me to it, which I now began to feel at work in my breast.
The object of this affection was a Friend whose name was Mary Ellis, whom for divers years I had had an acquaintance with, in the way of common friendship only, and in whom I thought I then saw those fair prints of truth and solid virtue, which I afterwards found in a sublime degree in her ; but what her condition in the world was, as to estate, I was wholly a stranger to, nor desired to know.
I had once, a year or two before, had an opportunity to do her a small piece of service, which she wanted some assistance in; wherein I acted with all sincerity and freedom of mind, not expecting, or desiring any ad. vantage by her, or reward from her; being very well satisfied in the act itself, that I had served a friend, and helped the helpless.
That little intercourse of common kindness between us ended, without the least thought (I am verily persuaded on her part; well-assured on my own) of any other or further relation, than that of free and fair friendship: nor did it at that time, lead us into any closer conversation, or more intimate acquaintance one with the other, than had been before.
But some time (and that a good while) af. ter, I found my heart secretly drawn, and in