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ger cannot intermeddle witb bis joy. But what occurs from my own knowledge, or from his books and papers, pertinent to the case in hand, shall faithfully be related.
Therefore, to resume the thread of his discourse, and begin where he leaves off. He in. timates at the close of his own account, that the magistrates, not thinking the laws made against us, (viz. the conventicle act, &c.) severe enough, perverted the law, by making our peaceable meetings, riots; and indicting our Friends as rioters, that they might fine at pleasure; which he knew to be contrary to law and justice. Nor was it long, says he, before he had occasion offered more thoroughly to consider this matter, viz. the breaking up of the meeting near Wooburn, by justice Hampson, sending Friends to prison, and indicting them for a riot, which shews he designed to write a book on that subject, though he doth not mention it, and accordingly did this year, after the Caution to Constables, &c. as aforesaid. This he called a Discourse concerning Riots ; occasioned by some of the People called Quakers being indicted for a Riot, &c. Of which he gives, by way of preface, this further account. • The proceedings of late in city and country, against some of the people called Quakers for riots, for only meeting peaceably together to serve and worship God, first put me upon inquiring into the nature of riots. What upon inquiry I have found, I here present to public view, for common benefit ; that
none through ignorance, may be the occasion of bringing an unjust suffering upon an innocent people, and thereby guilt on themselves. I do not pretend much skill in law, a study and profession I was never bred to, but having spent some hours on this occasion, in search. ing what the law books say in this case, I hope I may, without incurring the censure of presumption, communicate my gleaning to such of my well meaning countrymen, as have not leisure or opportunity to inform themselves otherwise. I solemnly declare, I have no other end or aim in this work, than to do good and prevent evil; which consideration, with men of candour and ingenuity, will be, I hope, a sufficient apology for my seeming boldness in this undertaking. And so he proceeds to set forth what riots are in the law, and law books; of which he cites divers, and scripture too, to shew that our peaceable meetings, which in those days they used to make riots, that they might imprison and fine us at pleasure, could not be riots; though through ignorance or envy, they were often so rendered, which shewed their injustice ; saying, how truly I have stated the case on the one hand, with respect to riots, the many quotations in the foregoing discourse, will shew. How true an account, on the other hand, I have given of our meetings, the whole nation and all nations where we have meetings, may
upon the whole. My request is, that all both justices and jurors, who have.or shall be
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concerned in this or the like, case, will seri. ously weigh the matter, and not strain the law. beyond its due extent. To oppress any by: colour of law, is the greatest abuse of law.” Goncluding with a serious recapitulation, and application of the whole; that none for the future might err ignorantly in that respect, and if any would wilfully, they might be left with out excuse.
About the same time, or not long after, he wrote also, A Seasonable Dissuasive from Persecution ; humbly and modestly, yet with Christian freedom and plainness of Speech, offered to the Consideration of all concerned therein ; on behalf generally of all that suffer: for conscience sake, particularly the people called Quakers. In the beginning of which, he defines what persecution is. Persecution, says he, 'is a word of so harsh a sound, and so generally distasteful to English ears, that scarce. any of those who are most forward and active in that work, are willing to have their actions called by that name. That none, therefore, who have set an hand to that work, or whose minds are any whit inclining thereto, may from the dislike they have to the word PERSECUTION reject this dissuasive, as a thing wherein they are not concerned; I think it needful here to declare, what it is I mean by persecut. tion. By persecution then, I intend a forcing or compelling any, by pains or penalties, bodily or pecuniary, to relinquish or forsake that exercise of religion, or way of worship, which
they believe to be the right way of worship; and the true and acceptable exercise of religion, which God hath required of them. And to receive, embrace, conform to, and perform some other exercise of religion, and way of worship, which they who are so compelled, are either firmly persuaded is not the right; or at least, have no belief that it is right. This, in short, is that which I call persecution; and this is that which I dissuade from, whatever other name the actors of it may please themselves in calling it by.'
I. To begin with the first of these, viz. the forcing or compelling any to forsake, and leave that exercise of religion, or way of worship, &c. The reasons by which he endeavours to dissuade all men from such an undertaking, are these, i. e. the heads of them : 11. You may, for aught you know, be found fighting against God. You are not, you cannot be, upon your own principles, infallibly sure, that that way of worship which endeavour to force us from, is not the true worship of God.
2. By endeavouring to force us from that way of worship, which we believe the Lord hath led us into, and requireth of us; you endeavour to force us, to make shipwreck of faith.-3. In endeavouring by force and cruelty, to restrain us from worshipping God, as we are fully persuaded he hath taught us, and doth require us, you go out of the path of the righteous, and tread in the steps of the wicked and ungodly.
4. That exercise of religion which force us from, is not simply of itself con. demned and disallowed by that law, by the severity of which you would force us from it.-5. In thus eagerly pursuing us, and dis. turbing our peaceable meetings, you give yourselves as well as us, a great deal of need, less trouble.Refrain from these men, and let them alone.-6. And lastly, be pleased to consider, what sort of agents and instruments you are fain to make use of, (and not seldom are yourselves made use of by) to carry on this work. Concluding this part thus; O never give cause for this epitaph to be written on your tombs, “Here lies a persecutor of the peos ple of God.
II. Now for the other branch of persecution, yiz. The forcing or compelling of any, by pains or penalties, to receive, embrace, con form to, and perform some exercise of reli. gion, and way of worship, &c.
of worship, &c. The reasons by which he endeavours to dissuade all men from such an undertaking, are these, viz. the heads :
1.' . In thus imposing your way of worship upon others, you act quite contrary to Christ and his apostles.--2. In thus imposing your way of worship. upon others, you follow the worst of patterns, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, &c.-3. In forcing people to your way of worship, who have no belief that it is the right, you cause them to sin: for whatsoever is not of faith, is sin.-4. In forcing