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satisfied with the accomplishing of it now, she should first send for her children: which she did. When the rest of her daughters were come, I asked both them and her sons-in-law, “if they had any thing against it, or for it !” desiring them to speak; and they all severally expressed their satisfaction therewith. Then I asked Margaret, “if she had sulfilled her husband's will to her children?” she replied, ‘the children knew she had.” Whereupon I asked them, “whether, if their mother married, they should not lose by it?” and I asked Margaret, “whether she had done any thing in lieu of it, which might answer it to the children?” the children said, “she had answered it to them, and desired me to speak no more of that. I told them, “I was plain, and would have all things done plainly: for I sought not any outward advantage to myself.’ So our intention of marriage was laid before Friends both privately and publicly, to their full satisfaction, many of whom gave testimony thereunto, for it was of God. Afterwards, a meeting being appointed on purpose for the accomplishing thereof, in the public meeting-house at Broad Mead, in Bristol, we took each other in marriage; the Lord joining us together in the honourable marriage, in the everlasting covenant and immortal seed of life. In the sense whereof, living and weighty testimonies were borne thereunto by Friends, in the movings of the heavenly power which united us together. Then was a certificate, relating both the proceedings and the marriage, openly read, and signed by the relations, and by most of the ancient Friends of that city; besides many others from divers parts of the nation. After we were married we staid about a week in Bristol, and then went together to Oldstone; where, taking leave of each other in the Lord, we parted, betaking ourselves each to our several service; Margaret returning homewards to the north, and I passing on in the work of the Lord as before. I travelled through Wiltshire, Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, and so to London, visiting Friends: in all which counties I had many large and precious meetings. Being in London, it came upon me to write to Friends throughout the nation, about ‘putting out poor children to trades.' Wherefore I sent the following epistle to the Quarterly Meetings of Friends in all the counties.
‘My DEAR FRIENDs, Let every Quarterly Meeting make inquiry through all the Monthly and other meetings, to know all Friends that are poor, widows or others, that have children fit to put out to apprenticeships; so that once a quarter you may set forth an apprentice from your Quarterly Meeting; so you may set forth four in a year, in each county, or more, if there be occasion. This apprentice, when out of his time, may help his father or mother, and support the family that is
decayed; and, in so doing, all may come to live comfortably. This being done in your Quarterly Meetings, ye will have knowledge through the county, in the Monthly and particular meetings, of masters fit for them; and of such trades as their parents or you desire, or the children are most inclinable to. Thus being placed out to Friends, they may be trained up in truth; and by this means in the wisdom of God, you may preserve Friends' children in the truth, and enable them to be a strength and help to their families, and nursers and preservers of their relations in their ancient days. Thus also, things being ordered in the wisdom of God, you will take off a continual maintenance, and free yourselves from much cumber. For in the country, ye know, ye may set forth an apprentice for a little to several trades, as bricklayers, masons, carpenters, wheelwrights, ploughwrights, taylors, tanners, curriers, blacksmiths, shoemakers, nailers, butchers, weavers of linen and woollen stuffs and serges, &c. And you may do well to have a stock in your Quarterly Meetings for that purpose. All that is given by any Friends at their decease (except it be given to some particular use, person, or meeting) may be brought to the public stock for that purpose. This will be a way for the preserving of many that are poor among you; and it will be a way of making up poor families. In several counties it is practised already. Some Quarterly Meetings set forth two apprentices; and sometimes the children of others that are laid on the parish. You may bind them for sewer or more years, according to their capacities. In all which things the wisdom of God will teach you; by which ye may help the children of poor Friends, that they may come to rear up their families, and preserve them in the fear of God. So no more, but my love in the everlasting Seed, by which ye will have wisdom to order all things to the glory of God. G. F. * London, the first of the 11th month, 1669.”
I staid not long in London; but having visited Friends, and finding things there quiet and well, the Lord's power being over all, I passed into Essex and Hertfordshire, where I had many precious meetings. But before I went out of London, intending to go as far as Leicestershire, I wrote a letter to my wife, to acquaint her there with; that, if she found it convenient, she might meet me there. From Hertfordshire I turned into Cambridgeshire; thence into Huntingdonshire, and so into Leicestershire; where, instead of meeting my wife, I heard she was haled out of her house to Lancaster prison, by an order got from the king and council, to fetch her back to prison upon the old premunire; though she had been discharged from that imprisonment by an order from the king and council the year before. Wherefore, having visited Friends as far as Leicestershire, I returned by Derbyshire and Warwickshire to London; having had many large and blessed meetings in the several counties I passed through, and been sweetly refreshed amongst Friends in my travels.
As soon as I was got to London, I hastened Mary Lower and Sarah Fell (two of my wife's daughters,) to the king, to acquaint him how their mother was dealt with, and see if they could get a full discharge for her, that she might enjoy her estate and liberty without molestation. This was somewhat difficult, but by diligent attendance they at length obtained it; the king giving command to Sir John Otway to signify his pleasure therein by letter to the sheriff, and others concerned in the country. Which letter Sarah Fell, going down with her brother and sister Rous, carried with her to Lancaster; and by them I wrote to my wife, as followeth:
‘..My dear heart in the truth and life, that changeth not.
“It was upon me that Mary Lower and Sarah should go to the king concerning thy imprisonment; and to Kirby, that the power of the Lord might appear over them all in thy deliverance. They went; and then thought to have come down; but it was upon me to stay them a little longer, that they might follow the business till it was effected: which it now is, and is here sent. The late declaration of mine hath been very serviceable, people being generally satisfied with it. So no more but my love in the holy seed. G. F.”
The declaration here mentioned was a printed sheet, written upon occasion of a new persecution stirred up. For by that time I was got to London, a fresh storm was risen, occasioned, it was thought, by that tumultuous meeting in a steeple-house in Wiltshire or Gloucestershire, mentioned a little before, from which, as it was said, some members of parliament took advantage to get an act passed against seditious conventicles; which soon after came forth, and was turned against us, who of all people were free from sedition and tumult. Whereupon I wrote a declaration, showing from the preamble and terms of the act that we were not such a people, nor our meetings such as were described in that act. Besides that declaration, I wrote also another short paper, on the occasion of that act against meetings; opening our case to the magistrates, as followeth:
“O FRIENDs, consider this act, which limits our meetings to five. Is this, “to do as ye would be done by ?" would ye be so served yourselves? we own Christ Jesus as well as you, his coming, death, and resurrection; and if we be contrary minded to you in some things, is not this the apostle's exhortation, to “wait till God hath revealed it?” doth not he say, “What is not of faith, is sin” seeing we have not faith in things which ye would have us to do, would it not be sin in us if we should act contrary to our faith ! why should any man have power over any other man's faith, seeing Christ is the author of it! when the apostles preached in the name of Jesus, and great multitudes heard them, and the rulers forbad them to speak any more in that name, did not they bid them judge whether it were better to obey God or man? would not this act have taken hold of the twelve apostles and seventy disciples; for they met often together ? if there had been a law made then, that not above five should have met with Christ, would not that have been a hindering him from meeting with his disciples’ do ye think that he, who is the wisdom of God, or his disciples, would have obeyed it? is such a law had been made in the apostles' days, that not above five might have met together, who had been different minded from either the Jews or the Gentiles, do ye think the churches of Christ at Corinth, Philippi, Ephesus, Thessalonica, or the rest of the gathered churches, would have obeyed it? Otherefore consider for we are christians, and partake of the nature and life of Christ. Strive not to limit the Holy One; for God's power cannot be limited, and is not to be quenched. “Do unto all men as ye would have them do unto you; for that is the law and the prophets.” ‘This is from those who wish you all well, and desire your everlasting good and prosperity, who are called Quakers; who seek the peace and good of all people, though they afflict us, and cause us to suffer. G. F.”
As I had endeavoured to soften the magistrates, and to take off the sharpness of their edge in the execution of the act, so it was upon me to write a few lines to Friends, to strengthen and encourage them to stand fast in their testimony, and bear with christian patience and content, the suffering that was coming upon them.” This I did in the following epistle:
“All my dear friends, keep in the faith of God above all outward things and in his power, that hath given you dominion over all. The same power of God is still with you to deliver you as formerly; for God and his power is the same; his seed is over all, and before all; and will be, when that which makes to suffer is gone. Be of good faith in that which changeth not; for whatsoever any doth against the truth it will come upon themselves, and fall as a millstone on their heads. If the Lord suffer you to be tried, let all be given up; look at the Lord and his power, which is over the whole world, and will remain when the
world is gone. In the Lord's power and truth rejoice, Friends, over that which makes to suffer, in the seed, which was before it was; for the life, truth, and power of God is over all. All keep in that; and if ye suffer in that it is to the Lord. ‘Friends, the Lord hath blessed you in outward things; and now he may try you, whether your minds be in outward things, or with the Lord that gave you them 1 therefore, keep in the seed, by which all outward things were made, and which is over them all. What shall not I pray, and speak to God, with my face towards heavenly Jerusalem, according to my wonted time ! let not any one's Delilah shave his head, lest such lose their strength; neither rest in its lap, lest the Philistines be upon you. For your rest is in Christ Jesus, therefore, rest not in any thing else. G. F. * London, the 12th of the 2d month, 1670.”
On the next first-day after the act came in force, I went to the meeting-house at Gracechurch-street, where I expected the storm was most likely to begin. When I came there, I found the street full of people, and a guard set to keep Friends out of their meeting-house. I went to the other passage, out of Lombard-street, where also I found a guard; but the court was full of people, and a Friend was speaking amongst them ; but spoke not long. When he had done, I stood up, and was moved to say, ‘Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against that which pricks thee. Then I showed, it is Saul's nature that persecutes still; and that they, who persecute Christ in his members now, where he is made manifest, kick against that which pricks them. That it was the birth of the flesh that persecuted the birth born of the spirit; and that it was the nature of dogs to tear and devour the sheep; but that we suffered as sheep that bite not again: for we were a peaceable people, and loved them that persecuted us.” After I had spoken awhile to this effect, the constable came with an informer and soldiers; and as they plucked me down, I said, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers.' The commander of the soldiers put me among the soldiers, and bid them secure me, saying to me, ‘You are the man I looked for.” They took also John Burneyate, with another Friend, and had us away first to the exchange, and afterwards towards Moorfields. As we went along the streets the people were very moderate. Some of them laughed at the constable, and told him, ‘We would not run away.' The informer went with us unknown; till falling into discourse with one of the company, he said, ‘It would never be a good world till all people came to the good old religion that was two hundred years ago.” Whereupon I asked him, ‘Art thou a Papist? what! a Papist informer? for two hundred years ago there was no other religion but that of the Papists.” He