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LIFE, TRAVELS, SUFFER INGS, &c.
This year several Friends were moved to go beyond sea, to publish truth in foreign countries. John Stubbs, Henry Fell, and Richard Costrop were moved to go towards China and Prester John's country; but no masters of ships would carry them. With much ado they got a warrant from the king; but the East India company found ways to avoid it, and the masters of their ships would not carry them. Then they went into Holland, hoping to have got passage there; but no passage could they get there neither. Then John Stubbs and Henry Fell took shipping for Alexandria in Egypt, intending to go by the caravans from thence. Meanwhile Daniel Baker being to go to Smyrna, drew Richard Costrop, contrary to his own freedom, to go along with him; and in the passage, Richard falling sick, D. Baker left him sick in the ship ; where he died. But that hard-hearted man afterwards lost his own condition. John Stubbs and Henry Fell got to Alexandria; but they had not been long there before the English consul banished them from thence; yet before they came away, they dispersed many books and papers there for the opening the principles and way of truth to the Turks and Grecians. They gave the book called, “The Pope's strength broken,” to an old friar, for him to give or send to the pope; which book, when the friar had perused, he clapped his hand upon his breast, and confessed, ‘What was written thesein was truth; but, (said he,) if I should confess it openly, they would burn me.’ John Stubbs and Henry Fell, not being suffered to go farther, returned to England, and came to London again. John had a vision that the English and Dutch, who had joined together not to carry them, “would fall out one with another.' And so it came to pass. Having staid in London some time, I felt drawings to visit Friends in Essex. I went to Colchester, where I had very large meetings, and Wol. II. 1
from thence to Coggeshall; not far from which there was a priest convinced, and I had a meeting at his house. So travelling a little in those parts, visiting Friends in their meetings, I returned pretty quickly to London, where I found great service for the Lord; for a large door was opened, many flocked into our meetings, and the Lord's truth spread mightily this year. Yet Friends had great travail and sore labour, the rude people having been so heightened by the monarchy-men's rising a little before. But the Lord's power was over all, and in it Friends had dominion; though we had not only those sufferings without, but sufferings within also, by John Perrot and his company; who giving heed to a spirit of delusion, sought to introduce among Friends that evil and uncomely practice of ‘keeping on the hat in the time of public prayers.' Friends had spoken to him and divers of his followers about it, and I had written to them concerning it; but he and some others rather strengthened themselves against Friends therein. Wherefore feeling the judgment of truth rise against it, I gave forth the following lines, as a warning to all that were concerned therein.
‘Whosoever is tainted with this spirit of John Perrot, it will perish. Mark theirs and his end, that are turned into those outward things and janglings about them, and that which is not savoury; all which is for perpetual judgment, and is to be swept and cleansed out of the camp of God's elect. This is to that spirit that is gone into jangling about that which is below, (the rotten principle of the old Ranters,) gone from the invisible power of God, in which is the everlasting fellowship; so many are become like the corn on the house-top, and like the untimely figs, and now clamour and speak against them that are in the power of God. O! consider! the light and power of God goes over you all, and leaves you in the fretting nature, out of the unity which is in the everlasting light, life, and power of God. Consider this before the day be gone from you, and take heed that your memorial be not rooted out from among the righteous. G. F.”
Among the exercises and troubles that Friends had from without, one was concerning Friends' marriages, which sometimes were called in question. In this year there happened to be a cause tried at the assize at Nottingham concerning a Friend's marriage. The case was thus: some years before, two Friends were joined together in marriage amongst Friends, and lived together as man and wife about two years. Then the man died, leaving his wife with child, and leaving an estate in lands of copyhold. When the woman was delivered, the jury presented the child heir to its father's lands, and accordingly the child was admitted; afterwards another Friend married the widow. And after that, a man that was near of kin to her former husband, brought his action against the Friend who had last married her, endeavouring to dispossess them, and deprive the child of the inheritance, and to possess himself thereof, as next heir to the woman's first husband. To effect this, he endeavoured to prove the child illegitimate, alleging, ‘the marriage was not according to law.” In opening the cause, the plaintiff's counsel used upseemly words concerning Friends, saying, “they went together like brute beasts,’ with other ill expressions. After the counsels on both sides had pleaded, the judge, (viz. judge Archer,) took the matter in hand, and opened it to them, telling them, “there was a marriage in paradise when Adam took Eve, and Eve took Adam, and that it was the consent of the parties that made a marriage. And for the Quakers, (he said,) he did not know their opinions; but he did not believe they went together as brute beasts, as had been said of them, but as christians; and therefore, he did believe the marriage was lawful, and the child lawful heir.’ And the better to satisfy the jury, he brought them a case to this purpose: ‘A man that was weak of body, and kept his bed, had a desire in that condition to marry, and did declare before witnesses, that he did take such a woman to be his wife, and the woman declared that she took that man to be her husband. This marriage was afterwards called in question, and (as the judge said,) all the bishops did conclude it to be a lawful marriage.' Hereupon the jury gave in their verdict for the Friend's child, and against the man that would have deprived it of its inheritance. About this time the oaths of allegiance and supremacy were tendered to Friends as a snare, because it was known we could not swear, and thereupon many were imprisoned, and divers premunired. Upon that occasion Friends published in print, ‘The grounds and reasons why they refused to swear;' besides which, I was moved to give forth these few lines following, to be given to the magistrates:
“THE world saith, “kiss the book;” but the book saith, “kiss the Son, lest he be angry;” and the Son saith, “swear not at all;” but keep to yea and nay in all your communications; for whatsoever is more than this cometh of evil. Again, the world saith, “lay your hand on the book;” but the book saith, “handle the word;” and the word saith, “handle not the traditions,” nor the inventions, nor the rudiments of the world. And God saith, “this is my beloved Son, hear him;” who is the life, the truth, the light, and the way to God. G. F.”
Now there being very many Friends in prison in the nation, Richard Hubberthorn and I drew up a paper concerning them; and got it delivered to the king, that he might understand how we were dealt with by his officers. It was directed thus:
For the King.
‘FRIEND, who art the chief ruler of these dominions, here is a list of some of the sufferings of the people of God, in scorn called Quakers, that have suffered under the changeable powers before thee, by whom there have been imprisoned, and under whom there have suffered for good conscience sake, and for bearing testimony to the truth, as it is in Jesus, “three thousand one hundred and seventy-three persons;” and there lie yet in.prison in the name of the commonwealth, “seventy-three persons,” that we know of And there have died in prison, in the time of the commonwealth, and of Oliver and Richard, the protectors, through cruel and hard imprisonments, upon nasty straw and in dungeons, “thirty-two persons.” There have been also imprisoned in thy name, since thy arrival, by such as thought to ingratiate themselves thereby with thee, “three thousand sixty and eight persons.” Besides this, our meetings are daily broken up by men with clubs and arms, (though we meet peaceably, according to the practice of God's people in the primitive times,) and our friends are thrown into waters, and trod upon till the very blood gusheth out of them; the number of which abuses can hardly be uttered. Now this we would have of thee, to set them at liberty that lie in prison in the names of the commonwealth and of the two protectors, and them that lie in thy own name, for speaking the truth, and for a good conscience
sake, who have not listed up an hand against thee nor any man; and
that the meetings of our friends, who meet peaceably together in the fear of God to worship him, may not be broken up by rude people, with their clubs, swords, and staves. One of the greatest things that we have suffered for formerly, was because we could not swear to the protectors and all the changeable governments; and now we are imprisoned because we cannot take the oath of allegiance. Now, ifyea be not yea, and nay nay, to thee, and to all men upon the earth, let us suffer as much for breaking of that as others do for breaking an oath. We have suffered these many years both in lives and estates under these changeable governments, because we cannot swear, but obey Christ's doctrine, who commands “we should not swear at all,” JMatt. Y. James v. and this we seal with our lives and estates, and with our yea and nay, according to the doctrine of Christ. Hearken to these things, and so consider them in the wisdom of thy God, that by it such actions may be stopped; thou that hast the government, and mayst do it. We desire that all that are in prison may be set at liberty, and that for the time to come they may not be imprisoned for conscience and for truth's sake, And if thou question the innocency of their sufferings, let them and their accusers be brought before thee, and we shall produce a more particular and full account of their sufferings, if required.
I mentioned before, that in the year 1650, I was kept prisoner six months in the house of correction at Derby, and that the keeper of the prison being a cruel man, and one that had dealt very wickedly by me, was smitten in himself, the plagues and terrors of the Lord falling upon him because thereof: this man, being afterwards convinced of truth, wrote me the following letter.
“DEAR FRIEND,-Having such a convenient messenger, I could do no less than give thee an account of my present condition; remembering, that to the first awakening of me to a sense of life, and of the inward principle, God was pleased to make use of thee as an instrument. So that sometimes I am taken with admiration that it should come by such a means as it did; that is to say, that Providence should order thee to be my prisoner, to give me my first real sight of the truth. It makes me many times to think of the gaoler's conversation by the apostles. O, happy George Fox that first breathed that breath of life within the walls of my habitation notwithstanding my outward losses are since that time such that I am become nothing in the world, yet I hope I shall find that all these light afflictions, which are but for a moment, will work for me a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. They have taken all from me; and now, instead of keeping a prison, I am rather waiting when I shall become a prisoner myself. Pray for me, that my faith fail not, but that I may hold out to the death, that I may receive a crown of life. I earnestly desire to hear from thee, and of thy condition, which would very much rejoice me. Not having else at present, but my kind love unto thee, and all christian friends with thee, in haste, I rest thine in Christ Jesus. Thomas SHARMAN.
‘Derby, the 22d of the 4th month, 1662.’
There were two of our friends in prison in the inquisition at Malta, both women; Catharine Evans and Sarah Chevers. I was told that one called the Lord D'Aubeny could procure their liberty; wherefore I went to him: and having informed him concerning their imprisonment, desired him to write to the magistrates there for their release. He readily promised me he would; and said, “if I would come again within a month he would tell me of their discharge.’ I went again about that time, and he said, “he thought his letters had miscarried, because he had received no answer.” But he promised he would write again, and did so: whereupon they were set at liberty.
With this great man I had a great deal of reasoning about religion, and he confessed that “Christ hath enlightened every man that cometh into the world with his spiritual light; that he had tasted death for every man: that the grace of God, which brings salvation, hath appeared to