« FöregåendeFortsätt »
should be reputed guilty! But the will of God be done! I accept of bad report as well as good.
J. R. Well, I must send you to Newgate for six months; and when they are expired, you will come out.
W. P. Is that all? Thou well knowest a larger imprison'ment has not daunted me: I accept it at the hand of the
Lord, and am contented to suffer his will. Alas ! you mistake your interest; you will miss your aim; this is not the way to compass your ends.
J. R. You bring yourself into trouble: You will be the heading of parties, and drawing people after you. • W. P. Thou mistakest, there is no such way as this to render men remarkable: you are angry that I am considerable, and yet you take the very way to make me só, by making this bustle and stir about one peaceable person.
J. R. wish your adhering to these things do not convert you to something at last.
W.P. I would have thee and all men to know, that I scorn that religion which is not worth suffering for, and able to sustain those that are afflicted for it: mine is; and whatever may be my lot for my constant profession of it, I am no-ways careful, but resigned to answer the will of God, by the loss of goods, liberty, and life itself. have all, you can have no more, and then perhaps you will be contented, and by that you will be better informed of our innocency. Thy religion persecutes, and mine forgives : and I desire my God to forgive you all, that are concerned in my commitment, and I leave you all in perfect charity, wishing your everlasting salvation.
J. R. Send a corporal, with a file of musqueteers along with him.
W. P. No, no, send thy lacquey; I know the way to Newgate.
Being committed to this prison for six months, he filled up the time of his confinement by continual employs; and here he wrote “ The great case of liberty of conscience, once more briefly debated and defended, together with several other pieces of occasional controversy.
In the time of his imprisonment, the parliament being about to take measures for enforcing with greater severity the aforesaid conventicle act, he, whose freedom of spirit a prison could not confine from advocating the cause of liberty, wrote the following paper, directed
• To the High Court of Parliament. FORASMUCH as it hath pleased you to make an act, intituled, “An act for suppressing seditious conventicles,
the dangerous practices of seditious sectaries," &c. And that, under pretence of authority from it, many have taken the ungodly liberty of plundering, pillaging, and breaking into houses, to the ruin and detriment of whole families, not regarding the poor, the widow, and the fatherless, beyond all precedent or excuse; and that we are informed it is your purpose, instead of relaxing your hand, tó supply the defects of that act by such explanatory clauses as will inevitably expose us to the fury and interest of our several adversaries, that under pretence of answering the intents of the said act, will only gratify their private humours, and doubtless extend it beyond its original purpose, to the utter destruction of us and our suffering friends;
We therefore esteem ourselves obliged in Christian duty, once more to remonstrate,
First, that we own civil government, or magistracy, as God's ordinance for the punishment of evil doers, and the praise of them that do well, and though we cannot comply with those laws, that prohibit us to worship God according to our consciences, as believing it to be his alone prerogative to preside in matters of faith and worship, yet we both own and are ready to yield obedience to, every ordinance of man relating to human affairs, and that for conscience sake.
. Secondly, That we deny and renounce, as an horrible impiety, all plots and conspiracies, or to promote our interest, or religion, by the blood and destruction of such as dissent from us, or yet those that persecute us.
Thirdly, That in all revolutions we have demeaned ourselves with much peace and patience, (disowning all contrary actings) notwithstanding the numerous provocations of cruel and ungodly men ; which is a demonstration of our harmless behaviour, that ought not to be of little moment
Fourthly, That as we have ever lived most peaceably under all the various governments that have been since our first appearance (notwithstanding we have been as their anvil to smite upon) so we do hereby signify, that it is our fixed resolution to continue the same, that where we cannot ACTUALLY OBEY, we PATIENTLY SHALL SUFFER, (leaving our innocent cause with God, not daring to love our lives unto the death, for our blessed testimony's sake,) thereby manifesting to the whole world, that we love God above all, and our neighbours as ourselves. . If this prevails not with you to suspend your thoughts of reinforcing your former act, we do desire that we, or some of our friends, may receive a free hearing from you,
(as several of us had upon the first act fur uniformity) having many great and weighty reasons to offer against all such severe proceedings, to the end all wrong measures of us and of our principles may be rectified, and that you, being better informed of both, may remove our heavy burdens, and let the oppressed go free, for such moderation will be well-pleasing both to God and good men.
From us who are now prisoners at Newgate (for conscience-sake) on the behalf of ourselves, and all our suffering friends in England, &c.
W. Pens, and several others.' • Newgate, Second mo. 1671.'
The keepers of Newgate being at this time very abusive to the Quakers there imprisoned (for honest men bringing less grist to the jailor's mill than riotous debauchees, are hardly welcome guests) he wrote a letter, by way of complaint, to the Sheriffs, who, that year, were men of good temper and moderation, being as follows.
"To the Sheriffs of London. Friends, Though we are a people, the plainness of whose principles will not admit of vain compliments, yet are we by them required to express our gratitude; and we must con. fess, that since your being in office, we have received many instances of your kindness, for which you never will be condemned of God or virtuous men, as well as that we send you by the bearer our acknowledgments.
• This done, we think fit to let you know, that though we are in a distinct house, yet not in a distinct capacity, with mere felons ;. unless it be, that they have a free prison, and we have none : for the keeper is so far from shewing us that common respect, or we enjoy that which differenced us from malefactors, that we are not less restrained, if not so much abused; for one of us desiring liberty to fetch some beer, the turnkey thrust him back, calling him loggerhead, puppy, rogue, &c. and that to several others.
In short, we are not willing to be bondsmen at our own cost; not for the value of our house-rent, with other ad. ditional expences, but for our testimony against the insulting menaces and extortions of some of the jailors, who would cast us into the common stinking jail! and therefore are resolved to undergo that severity : which is all at present from those who have wronged no man, but fear God, and have peace with him.'
"Your true Friends, W. P. &c.' • Newgate, Third Month, 1671.'
His.six months imprisonment in Newgate being expired, he was set at liberty, and shortly after went over into Holland and Germany: of his ministry and services at this time in those countries, some account is given by himself in the beginning of his subsequent travels into those parts, herein-after inserted.
In the beginning of the year 1672, and the 28th of his age, our author took to wife Gulielma Maria Springett, daughter of Sir William Springett, formerly of Darling in Sussex, who was killed in the time of the civil wars, at the siege of Bamber : his widow was afterward, married to Isaac Pennington, of Peters-Chalfont in Buckinghamshire, in whose family her said daughter was brought up; a young woman whom a virtuous disposition, joined to a comely person, rendered well accomplished.
Soon after his marriage, pitching upon a convenient habitation at Rickmersworth in Hertfordshire, he resided there with his family, often visiting the meetings of friends, and returning home again.
In the seventh month this year, he took a journey to visit his friends in Kent, Sussex, and Surrey; of which his own memorandums furnish us with an observation of that singular industry which the free ministers of the gospel exercise in the discharge of their office; for in the space of twentyone days, he, with his companion under the like concern, were present at, and preached to as many assemblies of people at distant places, viz. Rochester, Canterbury, Dover, Deal, Folkstone, Ashford, and other places in Kent; at Lewes, Horsham, Stenning, &c. in Sussex; and at Charlewood and Rygate in Surrey. Great was their service in these counties: their testimonies, effectual to the strengthening of their friends, silencing of gainsayers, and to a general edification, were received by the people with joy and openness of heart; and themselves, in the performance of their duty, filled with spiritual consolation. Our author gives this account of their last meeting in that journey, being at Rygate: “The Lord sealed up our labours and travels, according to the desire of my soul and spirit, with his heavenly refreshments and sweet living power and word of life, unto the reaching of all, and consolating our own hearts abundantly.' And concludes his narrative with these words : And thus hath the Lord been with us in all our travels for his truth, and with his blessings of peace are we returned, which is a reward beyond all worldly treasure.'
In the ninth month this year, being at home again, he wrote the following letter to one Dr. Hasbert, a physician at Embden in Germany.
• To Dr. Hasbert, Physician at the City of Embden.
• Dear Friend,
I have very often remembered thee in the deep sense of that weighty love of God, which his heavenly truth raised in my heart to visit thee in; earnestly praying in spirit, that thou mightest receive a clear understanding of that blessed way of life and salvation, which he hath counted a remnant worthy both to know and to suffer for in this day: glory and everlasting honour to his most holy name! O my friend, it is my heart's desire to the Lord, that he would preserve thee simple, upright, and constant in the obedience to that measure of the heavenly light, wherewith the God and father of light hath illuminated thee, and unto which thou art now turned ; in which as thou abidest, with thy mind rightly exercised in the fear and dread of the Lord God, thou wilt be preserved out of the vain janglings of the angry, peevish, and perverse professor, and kept clean from the sins and pollutions that are in the prophane world. O how many profess God and Christ, according to the historical knowledge of both, but never come to the mystical and experimental knowledge of them! No, it is utterly impossible, that any thing should bring to the internal knowledge and experience of the work and will of God, but the light and spirit only, by an inward revelation and operation : and such as entitle themselves to Christianity, whilst strangers to the terrors of the Lord for sin, and to a purgation from it, by the fiery trials of his inward judgments, as well as outward tribulations (who is as refiner's fire, and as everlasting burnings to all the workers of iniquity) they are of the synagogue of Satan, and subjects of the god of this world, whose throne is in the hearts of the children of disobedience unto the heavenly light within: and therefore in the name and authority of the Lord God of heaven and earth, I testify, that the way for every man and woman to come to God (whom darkness can have no access to, for to it is he inaccessible) is to bring his or her deeds to the light in him or herself, and see if they be wrought in God, or by him: if they be, the fire cannot consume the pure gold ; if they be not, judgment with the light will pass, on God's behalf, upon the creature, from whence there is no appeal, without due repentance, and turning to the light, in it to walk in thought, word, and deed, in which the nations of them that be saved must walk and live for ever.
And because of the righteous judgment this heavenly light brings (for, for judgment is it come into the world)