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requiring obedience from me, and promising to assist me therein. Whereupon I arose from my bed, and in the fear and dread of the Lord, committed to writing what he, in the motion of his Divine spirit, dictated to me to write.
When I had done it, though the sharpness of the message therein delivered, was hard to my nature to be the publisher of, yet I found acceptance with the Lord, in
my obedience to his will, and his peace filled my heart. As soon as I could, I communicated to my friends what I had written ; and it was printed in the year 1660, in one sheet of pa.. per, under the title of “An alarm to the Priests; or, a Message from Heaven, to forewarn them," &c.
Some time after the publishing of this paper, having occasion to go to London, I went to visit George Fox the younger, who with another friend, was then a prisoner in a Mes. senger's hands. I had never seen him, nor he me before ; yet this paper lying on the table before him, he, pointing to it, asked me if I was the person that wrote it? I told him I was. It is much said the other friend that they bear it. It is, replied he, their portion, and they must bear it.
While I was then in London, I went to a little meeting of Friends, which was then held in the house of one Humphry Bache, a goldsmith, at the sign of the snail, in Tower-street, It was then a very troublesome time, not from the government, but from the rabble of boys
and rude people, who upon the turn of the times, at the return of the king, took liberty to be very abusive.
When the meeting ended, a pretty number of these unruly folk were got together at the door, ready to receive the friends as they came forth, not only with evil words, but with blows; which I saw they bestowed freely on some of them that were gone out before me, and expected I should have my share of, when I came amongst them. But quite contrary to my expectation, when I came out, they said one to another, let him alone, do not meddle with him, he is no Quaker I will warrant you.
This struck me, and was worse to me than if they had laid their fists on me, as they did on others. I was troubled to think what the matter was, or what these rude people saw in me, that made them not take me for a Quaker. And upon a close examination of myself, with respect to my habit and deportment, I could not find any thing to place it on, but that I had then on my head a large mountier cap of black velvet, the skirt of which being turned up in folds, looked it seems, somewhat above the then common garb of a Quaker, and this put me out of conceit with my cap.
I came, at this time to London, from Isaac Pennington's, and thither I went again, in my way home, and while I staid there, amongst other friends who came thither, Tho
mas Loe of Oxford was one. A faithful and diligent labourer he was in the work of the Lord, and an excellent ministerial gift he had. And I in my zeal for truth, being very desirous that my neighbours might have the opportunity of hearing the gospel, the glad tid. ings of salvation, livingly and powerfully preached among them, entered into communi. cation with him about it ; offering to procure some convenient place in the town where I lived, for a meeting to be held, and to invite my neighbours to it; if he could give me any ground to expect his company at it. He told me he was not at his own command, but at the Lord's; and he knew not how he migh dispose of him, but wished me, if I found when I was come home, that the thing con: tinued with weight upon my mind, and that I could get a fit place for a meeting, I would advertise him of it by a few lines directed to him at Oxford, whither he was then going, and he might then let me know how his free. dom stood in that matter.
When therefore I was come home, and had treated with a neighbour for a place to have a meeting in, I wrote to my friend Thomas Loe, to acquaint him that I had procured a place for a meeting, and would invite company to it, if he would fix the time, and give me some ground to hope that he would be at it.
This letter I sent by a neighbour to Thame, to be given to a dyer of Oxford, who con: stantly kept Thame market, with whom I was
pretty well acquainted; having sometimes formerly used him, not only in his way of trade, but to carry letters between my brother and me, when he was a student in the University, for which he was always paid, and had been so careful in the delivery, that our letters had always gone safe until now.
But this time, Providence so ordering, or at least for my trial permitting it, this letter of mine, instead of being delivered according to its direction, was seized and carried, as I was told, to the lord Faulkland, who was then called lord-lieu. tenant of that county:
The occasion of this stopping of letters at: that time, was that mad prank of those infat. uated fifth-monarchy-men, who, from their meeting-house in Coleman-street, London, breaking forth in arms, under the command of their chieftain Venner, made an insurrection in the city ; on pretence of setting up the kingdom of Jesus; who, it is said, they expected would come down from heaven, to be their leader. So little understood they the nature of his kingdom; though he himself had declared it was not of this world.
The king, a little before his arrival in Eng. land, had, by his declaration from Breda, given assurance of liberty to tender consciences; and that no man should be disquieted, or called in question for differences of opinion in matters of religion, who did not disturb the peace of the kingdom; upon this assurance, dissenters of all sorts relied, and held them.
selves secure. But now, by this frantic action of a few hot brained men, the king was by some, holden discharged from this his royal word and promise, in his foregoing declaration publickly given. And hereupon let. ters were intercepted and broken open, for discovery of suspected plots, and designs against the government; and not only dissenter's meetings of all sorts, without distinction, were disturbed, but very many were imprisoned, in most parts, throughout the nation; and great search there was, in all countries, for suspected persons, who, if not found at meetings, were fetched in from their own houses.
The lord lieutenant, so called, of Oxford. shire, had on this occasion taken Thomas Loe, and many other of our friends, at a meeting, and sent them prisoners to Oxford-Castle, just before my letter was brought to his hand, wherein I had invited Thomas Loe to a meet. ing; and he, putting the worst construction upon it, as if I, a poor simple lad, had intended a seditious meeting, in order to raise rebellion, ordered two of the deputy-lieutenants, who lived nearest to me, to send a party of horse to fetch me in.
Accordingly, while I, wholly ignorant of what had passed at Oxford, was in daily expectation of an agreeable answer to my letter, came a party of horse one morning to my father's gate, and asked for me.