The Missing Cross to Purity



The Life of William Dewsbury
Continued

CHAPTER XIV

1663. William Dewsbury released from York—imprisoned for near eight years in Warwick jail — Persecutions of Friends; the Banishment of many — William Dewsbury's consolatory addresses to the sufferers.

WILLIAM DEWSBURY was set at liberty from his confinement at York early in the following year, and the scene of his imprisonment was changed towards the close of 1663 to the common jail at Warwick; where he was a prisoner from that time until the early part of the year 1671, a period of nearly eight years. Thus were "bonds and afflictions" meted out to this patient and cheerful sufferer for “the Truth as it is in Jesus.” As an introduction to some epistles of sympathy and encouragement which he addressed during this imprisonment, to Friends under sentence of banishment, it will be necessary now to give the reader some information relative to the operation of that cruel and intolerant act of the government already mentioned, which was intended to crush the Society and to root out their principles from the land. Long and loud was the cry, "Great is Diana of the Ephesians;" and the makers of silver shrines for the goddess might well exclaim, "Our craft is in danger to be set at nothing. "The persecution of Friends under the conventicle act was carried to such an extreme, that the prisons, in London especially, were continually crowded with them, and some hundreds were sentenced to banishment under the stroke of that arbitrary instrument. William Crouch, a Friend who lived through that terrible period writing of the year 1664-5 gives us the following information. I quote his own words.

Now the enemies and adversaries of the church, were in deep counsels and consultations, utterly to root the Quakers out of England, by banishing them into foreign plantations. The law was passed, and many of the magistrates and rulers were intent on prosecuting it quickly and to the full. The act allowed banishment on the third conviction of attending an illegal meeting. So many Friends were repeatedly quickly taken up at our religious meetings and imprisoned, and at their courts of assize and session were sentenced to banishment, to be put on ship-board to be sent away. Some were actually carried to the plantations abroad! But others who were put on shipboard, were afterwards set on shore in England by the masters of the vessels. But it was not long before the Lord was pleased to manifest his displeasure, and to put a stop to these unnatural, unrighteous, and inhuman actions, by those severe strokes of his hand upon the nation, in the years 1665 and 1666. It appears from the same author, that the first proceedings under this act took place at the assizes at Hertford, the 12th and 13th days of the month called August, 1664, where Orlando Bridgman presided as judge; when he passed sentence of banishment against eight Friends, who were then and there brought to trial. Seven of these, namely, Nicholas Lucas, Henry Feast, Henry Marshall, Francis Pryor, John Blindell, Jeremiah Hearn, and Samuel Trahern, were brought up to London, and on the 14th of the month called September put on board the Ann, the packet for Jamaica, Thomas May commander. But two months afterwards they were set on shore, for the following- among- other reasons, given under the commander's own hand, and duly witnessed:

I, seeing Providence has much crossed me hitherto, whereby I perceive that the hand of the Lord is against me, that I dare not proceed on my voyage to carry them, they being innocent persons, and no crime signified against them, worthy of banishment," etc.—" for these reasons and many more, I will not carry them."

This was certified and given to the sufferers, to show that they had not made their escape from the ship. After this, three other Friends, namely, Cannawell Britten, Bartholomew Croker, and Lewis Rogers, were put on board the ship, Mary Fortune, bound for Barbados, John Lloyd, master: who also repented, and on that account refusing to carry them, set them on shore, giving them a certificate containing the following among other reasons for his doing so. After alluding to some causes of detention, he says,

"But now, going to depart, their cry and the cry of their families and friends are entered into the ears of the Lord God, and he has smitten us even unto the very heart, saying, 'Cursed is he that parts man and wife:' and moreover, 'They that oppress his people, his plagues shall follow them, wherever they go.' And assuredly, we do in part partake of them already; for our consciences will in no wise let us rest, or be in quiet, for the Lord has smitten us with a terrible fear, so that we can in no wise proceed to carry them."

From Besse's account of the sufferings of Friends we learn, that many hundreds of them, were sentenced to drink of the same cup, but masters of ships, conscious of the innocence of the sufferers, generally refused to have any share in "the gain of oppression." But three Friends, namely, Edward Brush, James Harding, and Robert Hays, were, on the 24th of the 1st month, 1664, taken from Newgate and carried down to Gravesend, and there put on board ship with little or no warning. Hays was sick at the time and soon died; his corpse was brought back to London and there buried. The other two Friends were carried to Jamaica, where, under the divine blessing, they were prosperous; and after having remained a short time in the island, they returned to England, Edward Brush to his wife and family, and James Harding with a wife he had married there, and three children, with which she had presented him at birth.

The last instance of banishment which it is my intention to lay before the reader, may be related as follows. In the year 1664 fifty-five Friends were sentenced into exile, by judgment passed at Hicks's Hall, by Judges Hyde and Twisden; consisting of thirty-seven men and eighteen women. They were imprisoned in Newgate until the 4th of the 6th month, 1665; and at this time, while the plague was raging in London, they were taken from prison; and the government agents, after much search and many refusals, having engaged with a man of infamous character to carry them to Jamaica— the prisoners were put on board, some of them being ill of the plague at the time. The ship, called the Black Eagle, the master's name Fudge, took seven weeks before it got to the Downs, [a very long time to travel a short distance from London, to the south coast of England] within which time twenty-seven Friends died. Many were buried in the marshes below Gravesend. Fudge, who had run himself largely into debt in fitting out his ship, was arrested and cast into prison, and Peter Love was made master in his room. In the Downs, they were many weeks detained by contrary winds, as also between that and Plymouth; after considerable detention, clearing away from that harbor, the Black Eagle was captured by a Dutch privateer; they then encountered a storm, which separated the vessels, and carried one of them to the coast of Norway, but at length it succeeded in arriving at Holland, where all the Friends met. The Dutch, finding that their prisoners were not likely to be exchanged for prisoners of war, granted certificates to such of them and sent them home. Thus, in this instance, the mercy of an overruling Providence interposed, to frustrate and to blast the design of these arbitrary and cruel proceedings.

George Fox has left us the following more circumstantial account of the same extraordinary instance of persecution:

There were great imprisonments in this [1666] and the former years, while I was prisoner at Lancaster and Scarborough. At London, many Friends were crowded into Newgate and other prisons, where the sickness [the pestilence] was, and many Friends died in prison. Many also were banished, and several sent on ship-board by the king's order. Some masters of ships would not carry them, but set them on shore again: yet some were sent to Barbados, Jamaica, and Nevis; and the Lord blessed them there. There was one master of a ship, who was very wicked and cruel to Friends that were put on board of his ship: for he kept Friends down under decks, though the sickness was among them, so that many died of it. But the Lord plagued him for his wickedness. For he lost most of his seamen by the plague, and lay several months crossed by contrary winds; though other ships went out and made their voyages. At last he came before Plymouth; and then the governor and magistrates would not allow him or any of his men to come ashore, though he wanted necessaries for his voyage. But Thomas Lower, Arthur Cotton, John Light and some other Friends went to the ship's side, and carried necessaries for Friends that were prisoners on board. The master being thus crossed and plagued and vexed, cursed those who had put him upon this freight, and said, he hoped he should not go far before he was taken. The vessel was but a little while gone out of sight of Plymouth, when she was taken by a Dutch man of war, and carried into Holland. When they came into Holland, the States there sent the banished Friends back to England, with a letter of passport and a certificate [to show] that they had not made an escape, but were sent back by them. But, in time, the Lord's power wrought over this storm, and many of our persecutors were confounded and put to shame."—Journal.

The two epistles immediately following, are those referred to in a preceding paragraph.

For my dear, honorable Brethren, who are or may be sentenced to be transported to the isles beyond the sea, for the testimony of the name of the Lord Jesus.

My dear Friends, in the suffering of the Lamb, who lives and reigns forever and ever, and shall overcome all his enemies in the day determined, when all his enemies shall bow under the soles of his feet,—then shall all that oppress you, call you the blessed of the Lord forever. Oh my dear brethren! Lift up your heads in the light and life of Jesus, for whom you suffer; abide in his light; reign over your thoughts, either of wife or children, or whatever would trouble your minds, for giving up freely in this your testimony. Oh, you valiants among the people, the first-fruits and the leading champions! The Lord is with you, and thousands and ten thousands shall bless the name of the Lord for your faithful testimony, which shall sound over nations, to gather the people, and to the bringing in of our little sister, who has no breasts, [the other sects, outside the Quakers] to feel the consolation of the life of our Beloved, for whom we this day suffer.

Oh, my dear Brethren, triumph, triumph, in the face of all your enemies! It shall be well with you, wherever the Lord allows you to be carried; and as to your wives and children, the Lord has said to my soul, it shall be well with them; the blessing of the Lord shall rest upon them forever and ever,—and with you, to the comfort of the isles that wait for his law. Therefore, in the peaceable power of the Lord, go on, you chosen brethren of the suffering seed, which the Lord has blessed. Oh happy men, that ever you were born! Blessed be the day, that ever the Lord called you by his power, to stand faithful in what he requires of you; in which living testimony, you stream through the whole body, as a river of oil and virtuous refreshings, your memorial shall never perish, but preach to ages and generations, to the glory of the name of our God forever! Oh, go on with gladness, and triumph, for it is to bring in the seed from all the ends of the earth, that our brethren may come from far, and our sisters from the ends of the world. Oh, mighty God! Cover your faithful servants with your glorious power, and cause them and their families to rejoice forever and ever, in your disposing of them! Amen." My life in the suffering Spirit goes with you, in the name of the Lord, forever!

My dear companions in these bonds salute you in the love of the Lord. Farewell!

William Dewsbury

Warwick common jail,
10th of the 8th month, I664.

For the dear daughters of Zion, from whom the Lord has suffered or shall suffer their dear and tender husbands to be separated beyond the seas or elsewhere, for the testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Dear Handmaids of glory, whom the Lord has counted worthy to part with your dear, and tender, and beloved husbands, for the name of the Lord!—Assuredly, many put their shoulders to help to bear the burden of your trials this day. Oh, the tears and breakings of heart, that are poured forth before the Lord for your dear husbands, and you and your tender children! You are families of many prayers, and assuredly shall be known to be families of many mercies. Oh, dear daughters of Zion! Be content with your cup, handed forth to you this day; and bless the name of the Lord, that you are accounted worthy to be the first fruits among the beloved daughters. What could the Lord do more for you, than count you worthy to suffer in this nature, and give you such blessed husbands, who are set as glorious lights in the face of all people. Dear chosen, beloved daughters of Zion, let it be seen that you love the Lord Jesus more than your dear husbands. Stand over the affectionate part, and solace your souls in the love and life of the Lord Jesus, your eternal husband and the comforter of your real husbands. He will make us all rejoice in whatever he calls us unto, we diligently watching and judging ourselves, and resting in the Light and in the will of God. In which, the Lord establish you, you dear, beloved daughters of Zion, for whom breathes the soul of your brother daily to the Lord, to strengthen you and your dear husbands and all that love the Lord Jesus Christ; in whom, fare you well!"

William Dewsbury

Warwick common jail,
10th of 8th month, 1664

The following extraordinary epistle belongs to this period; and it is subjoined for the information and satisfaction of those, who have faith to receive it as an evidence, in addition to those which have preceded, that the flock of Christ is not left alone and comfortless in the day of trouble, affliction, and distress.

To all faithful and suffering members in all holes, prisons, and jails, for the word of God and testimony of Jesus Christ; with the rest of the faithful, wherever scattered upon the face of the earth.

Dear Brethren and Sisters!

Hear the word of the Lord:—thus said the Lord, though you now drink the cup of adversity, and eat the bread of affliction, and are trampled upon as though you were not worthy to live upon the earth, yet, despite all the fury of men, you are resolved in the strength of my Spirit, forever to be deprived of the sweet enjoyments of wife, husband, tender children, parents, and outward possessions, liberty, and life [rather than] deny the testimony of my name before the sons-of men. Oh! you dear and tender children, who love not your lives unto death this day, that you may finish a good testimony for the glory of my name, said the Lord God; lift up your heads in the light of my covenant, and believe in my name, for I am near you, said the mighty God of safety. Let not any weight or burden lie upon you; for I will be more than a husband to wife, and more than a wife to husband, or parents to children, or children to parents; yes, I will be a husband to the widow, and a father to the children who are deprived of their tender parents for my name's sake. I will enlarge your borders in the life of my righteousness. You who suffer in true innocence, will I refresh with the depth of my mercies. Yes, I will guard you with the angel of my presence, and all who devise mischief against you, shall be confounded before the glory of my power, with which I will keep and preserve you in the word of my patience, in safety, in my presence, said the Lord God. Therefore, you dear children, who drink the deepest in sufferings, think it not hard; for it is my purpose unto you all, that have not any eye to self, but alone seek my glory in all that you do, to make you more and more honorable in the glory of my life, and double my blessings upon you and yours. For I have beheld your integrity, and my bowels are mightily moved in compassion towards you. Therefore am I risen for your sake this day, to declare unto you, my suffering people, that not a hair of your head shall perish, neither shall you be detained in prisons and desolate holes any longer than I have determined shall be for your eternal good, and the glory of my name forever. Therefore in my life stand faithful, in resistance of every evil thought, or whatever would cause you to murmur, or desire anything but what you know will advance the glory of my name, and the exaltation of my Truth, over all that rises up against it; in your being truly subject to the measure of my light and life, that will not let any seek a preeminence or esteem among men. Neither let self-striving nor self-serving have power in any; but in true humility, love and meekness, watch one over another; and let the strong take the weak by the hand, that you may all gently, in love, meekness, and holy fear, serve one another and dread my name; that your love may be manifest unto me, said the Lord your God, and one unto another, in the naked simplicity of your spirits. Then will I make my dwelling among you, and with you; and my dreadful and glorious presence you shall feel mightily in you and among you, moving in the exercise of my Spirit, to the renown of my name, and the comfort one of another. I will crown you with heavenly blessings in the glory of my powerful life; and you shall praise my name forever, that I made you my jewels, and counted you worthy to suffer for the testimony of my name. I will go before you, through all the waters and floods of afflictions; and I will appear with you before all the counsels of the sons of men; and my saving power shall compass you about in your hot and sharp afflictions, all you who have your confidence alone in me, the LORD your GOD. Therefore trust in my name, you, my dear children, and cast all your care upon me. If any of you joyfully suffer the spoiling of your goods, I will supply what is needful for you and yours. If any of you seal your testimony in the word of my patience with your blood, I will take care of your tender wives and children, or parents, for whom your souls have been poured forth in prayers unto me for their good.

Therefore bear my word that is sounded unto you from the throne of my grace and eternal glory. Rejoice not too much in spirits made subject, but throw down your crowns before me, that there is not a self-seeking, self-serving spirit in the family of my people. But all feel the birth immortal raised up in the resurrection of my life in you all, which truly makes self of no reputation; so that all loftiness is laid low, and all haughtiness bowed down in every one. Thus I, the Lord God, may be loved, obeyed, and exalted in you all. I am taking to me my great power, to exalt the meek upon the earth, and to reign over all the pride of the children of men, who are exalted above the witness in their consciences; so that my sons may be brought from afar, and my daughters from the ends of the earth, in the sight of all people; whom I will make to confess, in subjection to my power, that you are the beloved people of the Most High God, and of the righteous seed which the Lord has blessed. Not any weapon that is formed against you shall prosper, but come to nothing, which will be hastened and certainly performed, according to what is here declared, to your comfort and eternal joy. And you shall assuredly know, that the mouth of the Lord has spoken it.

The word of the Lord, before expressed, came to me in the prison-house at Warwick, the 11th day of the 1st month, 1664; which constrained me to send it to be read among you, dear, faithful, and suffering people of the Almighty God, in whom I remain your brother and companion in tribulation and kingdom of patience in the Lord Jesus Christ.

William Dewsbury

Site Editor’s Comments: The prophecy above is the long and should be ample evidence of the measure of Christ possessed by William Dewsbury. Couple his prophecy with his fruits of love, exhibited throughout his writings in this biography; add to it the persecutions he suffered, including twenty years of imprisonment; and you have undeniable proof that Dewsbury truly possessed of the same Spirit of God as did the Apostles.

CHAPTER XV

Grounds on which Friends were willing to endure such sufferings—Statement of their principles— Additional testimony from Penington.

IN the last chapter we have seen, how the malice of the grand adversary of mankind was exercised towards those, who in that day, by the powerful efforts they were making, threatened to shake his kingdom to its very foundation. Friends had taken their station in the front of the battle, in which the nation was then engaged for the security of its rights and liberties. They, however, fought not as others did. They wrestled not with flesh and blood, neither were the weapons they wielded carnal ones. With spiritual weapons they contended against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, and against spiritual wickedness in high places. No instrument could have been easily constructed to put the constancy of this faithful band more fully to the test than the one that was resorted to, namely, the act against conventicles; which, to the unavailing inflictions of fine and imprisonment, now added confiscation and banishment; with the determination, if it had been possible, to bend their steadfast wills under the despotism of the prevailing power and make them bow to the image of the day. The following is a summary of the conventicle act:

It is styled, An act to prevent and suppress seditious conventicles. In the preamble, the 25th Eliz. ch, i, is declared to be in force: and also for providing of further and more speedy remedy against the growing and dangerous practices of seditious sects, and other disloyal persons, who under pretence of tender consciences, do at their meetings continue insurrections, as late experience has shown. Thus far the preamble and reason given for the act.

Thereupon it is enacted, that if any person of the age of sixteen years and upwards, being a subject, etc., shall be present at any assembly, conventicle, or meeting, under color or pretence of any exercise of religion, in other manner than is allowed by the liturgy of the church of England, every such person being convicted before two justices of the peace, to be committed to the jailor House of Correction, there to remain without bail or surety, for any time not exceeding three months, unless such person pay down to the said justices such sum of money not exceeding five pounds, as they might fine the offender at.

And for the second offence, the person convicted incurred the penalty of imprisonment for any time not exceeding six months, without bail or surety, unless the person convicted pay down such sum of money, not exceeding ten pounds, as the justices would fine him.

The penalty for the third offence, was imprisonment without bail or mainprize, until the next general quarter sessions, assizes, jail delivery, etc., there to be indicted, arraigned, etc., and when convicted, judgment to be entered, that such offender should be transported beyond the seas, to any of his majesty's foreign plantations — Virginia and New England only excepted — there to remain seven years.

And the said respective courts were also empowered to give out warrants to the several constables, etc., where the estate, real or personal, of such offender so to be transported, should be; commanding them to seize into their hands the profits of the lands, and to impound and sell the goods of the person to be transported, for the reimbursing the sheriff's charges for conveying and embarking the person to be transported.

And it is also enacted, that in case the offender convicted for the third offence, shall pay one hundred pounds in court, he shall be discharged from imprisonment, transportation and judgment for the same.

And it is further enacted, that the like imprisonment, judgment, arraignment, and proceedings, shall be against every such offender as often as he shall again offend after such third offence; nevertheless is dischargeable and discharged by payment of the like sum as was paid for his or her said offence, next before committed, together with the additional and increased sum of one hundred pounds more upon every new offence committed.

Friends saw that the stake was great, and that the trust confided to them was no less so. The cause was another's, not their own; and their success, through his faithfulness who stood by and protected them, was beyond anything that mere human energy could have accomplished. But such of my readers as look upon the views of Friends to have been merely sectarian may still be disposed to inquire what the object was, the attainment of which the Quakers proposed to themselves, that could possibly afford them an equivalent, either present or future, in return for the dreadful sufferings they thus patiently and perseveringly endured. I answer, they suffered for the testimony of a good conscience,* and many of them were Christian martyrs in the comprehensive sense of the word; and their cause was identified with the broad principles and catholic spirit of Christianity itself, and by no means sectarian. But to satisfy an inquiry of this kind it will be necessary to speak more in detail, and to define with some precision, though briefly, those points in the religious opinions and practices of that period, in which their consciences were so deeply involved.

*No! The author betrays his understanding of salvation and his lack of salvation. Suffering is required to be delivered from sin, which is salvation, as Peter so eloquently states:

Therefore, since Christ has suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same mind because he who has suffered in the flesh is finished with sin,
So that you should not live the rest of your time in the flesh in the lusts of men, but to the will of God. 1 Pet 4:1-2.

And Paul further tells us why suffering should be undergone:

If we suffer, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he will also deny us. 2 Tim 2:12.
For we know that our our old man has been crucified with him, that our body of sin might be destroyed, so that we would not serve sin any longer. Rom 6:6

No suffering, no salvation, no son of God; and such suffering is not a hard day at the office, or a car wreck, or a divorce. Such suffering is because of your determination to live a godly life in Christ Jesus, inflicted by your fellow man, or supernaturally by spiritual forces, with the permission of the Lord to try you and scourge you:

 And you have forgotten the exhortation that speaks to you as to children, "My son, do not despise the chastening [correcting rebuke] of the Lord, nor faint when you are rebuked by him.
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and scourges every son whom he accepts."
If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom the father does not chasten?
But if you are without chastisement [correcting rebuke], of which all must share, then are you illegitimate, and not sons. Hebrews 12:5-8

They laid it down as a principle of paramount importance, that no earthly power ought to be allowed to interfere in matters of conscience. With this fundamental principle once established in their minds, they hesitated not to show by an open, a decided, and an intrepid line of conduct, that they were sincere in asserting to be Truth, whatever was thus solemnly and clearly impressed upon their minds as such, however greatly it might be opposed to prevailing notions, or at variance with human laws and long established custom; provided always, that it did not contradict any of those doctrines or principles which are revealed to us in the Holy Scriptures; to which writings they at all times appealed, for a confirmation of the ground on which they acted. Unjust laws, together with antichristian practices, and even those in private or common life that were vain or sinful, were the things against which they kept up a continual warfare; refusing compliance with the former, and zealously reproving the latter, on all occasions, and without respect of persons, as they were led by the Spirit of Truth: patiently enduring whatever sufferings they might be obnoxious to, from thus exercising themselves to have a conscience void of offence towards God and towards man.

For the greater part of forty years they persevered, through grievous persecutions, in their resistance to man's usurpation of a prerogative over conscience, to which he has no real claim; until they saw their desires in some measure answered, by a considerable alteration in the laws, as well as a manifest amelioration in public feeling. With regard to their religious opinions, they may be briefly stated as follows: they asserted it to be a doctrine clearly deducible from Scripture itself, that unless the truths of the gospel are by revelation of the divine Spirit laid open and sealed to the mind of man, he must remain without a true perception of their import, and so fail to obtain possession of that saving knowledge of the Truth, which those writings are intended to impart.

While they asserted this as regards the Holy Scriptures, they were strenuous in affirming it as their belief, upon a foundation no less solid, that the love of God to man is such and so universal, that he has provided for the salvation of all his creatures, if they on their part do not willfully reject the offers of his love in Christ Jesus. That Christ, being the "true light that lights every one that comes into the world," and by which all things that are reprovable are made manifest,— believing in the Light, is virtually believing in Christ, and following the Light which teaches temperance, righteousness, and godliness, is following Christ, although he may never have been heard of him by the outward ear.* That, as it is this which reproves the heart of all individuals for sin, so it would work out the salvation of all, if not resisted: nor is it less universal than the seed of sin; being the purchase of his blood, who "tasted death for every man." Thus, all among the heathen who are saved, are accepted for Christ's sake, in their obedience to that measure of light and grace, however small, which they have severally received.

*Site Editor’s Comment: All of the Quaker writers consistently maintained that every man on earth had his day of visitation from God, appealing to him to go the right way and fear God. They believed the basic gospel had been preached to every man, by the Spirit of God and Light within every man; and if a man was in a country where he had never heard of Jesus, by being totally obedient to the light within, he could attain salvation. Understand, they did not say that someone who rejects Jesus could attain salvation. The Lord has told this editor that if someone of another faith was a serious seeker, who waited on God to come into the Light, that the Light would eventually reveal itself to be Jesus Christ to that person; giving them the opportunity to accept or reject the truth of the revelation.

Consistently with the foregoing statement, respecting "the true Light, that lights every man that comes into the world," they believed it to be one with Him, who, in the Revelation of the apostle John, is called "the faithful and true Witness, the beginning of the creation of God;" and therefore, that all who desire to experience a being created anew in Christ Jesus, must be found walking in the light, as He is in the light, in which alone is to be enjoyed that holy fellowship, which is with the saints in light, and that cleansing from all sin which is by the blood of the everlasting covenant. Thus, without defining the order in which the great work is accomplished, regeneration, including justification and sanctification, is truly experienced. On these general principles were based some of those particular views which made Friends so offensive in their early days.

These principles regulated their opinions and their conclusions on the subject of gospel ministry; which excluded pay for preaching, and human appointments or acquirements as necessary for this important work. They were strenuous in their belief that the true gospel ministry was a thing very different from that which passed for it in the world. From Him who instructed them they learned, agreeably with the testimony of the Holy Scriptures, that gospel ministry, correctly so called, can only be exercised by virtue of a gift received from Christ, and under the immediate influence of his Spirit; and that, therefore, no unregenerate person can ever really be one of his ministers. Although multitudes intrude themselves into that sacred office, under the sanction of prevailing opinions and established systems, Friends bore a decided, a conscientious, and a living testimony against all exercise of ministerial functions unless authorized as above.

They also deprecated in the strongest terms any system of maintenance, whether of tithe or otherwise, which, by instituting a stipendiary ministry, tended to pervert the gospel of Christ, to annul his express injunction, "Freely you have received, freely give," and to sanction the practice of trading in holy things. Thus they were taught to consider ministers taking money in salary or requested contribution as wholly unscriptural and antichristian, and therefore embracing within itself the principles of its own destruction; inasmuch as, if incurring Divine disapprobation, though the system might have been long permitted, the purposes of the Almighty would ultimately be fulfilled, as his will prevails through the earth, in its utter extinction, [still to come]. With opinions such as these, not lightly taken up, but under exercises of no extraordinary character, the early Friends went forth as sheep in the midst of wolves; and it is not too much to say of a large proportion of them, that they were wise as serpents and harmless as doves.

When George Fox went forth at the Lord's command as a minister of the everlasting gospel, "the world (he says) was like a briary, thorny wilderness." Again, "When I came, in the Lord's mighty power with the word of life, into the world, the world swelled and made a noise like the great raging waves of the sea. Priests and professors, magistrates and people, were all like a sea, when I came to proclaim the day of the Lord among them, and to preach repentance to them." And it was no matter of surprise that such should have been the case. Those views, entirely new to that generation, which he and the early Friends were led to take of Christian doctrine and the principles of individual practice, were such, as to make them appear not only very singular, but, in their zealous and public reproof of what they justly esteemed to be evil, whether in the root or in the fruit, made them (as Penington said) "seem to be opposed to existing institutions and enemies to all sorts of men;" but it was "for the Lord's sake."

Having a testimony given them to bear against “a hireling ministry,” they found it to be their place to resist, passively, the payment of all demands of an ecclesiastical nature; as well as to endeavor, in the most active and zealous manner, by their preaching and by their writings, to open the eyes of the people to the deception by which they were beguiled, and the bondage which enthralled them. This they were enabled to do, through the faithful exercise of their several gifts, and that in a very powerful and effectual manner; and it was one main source of the sufferings which the early Friends had to endure.

Another branch of that ministry which was committed to them, was that of drawing people off from a dependence upon those forms and ceremonies so much insisted upon in religion, and directing their attention to the substance, to that "engrafted word" which is alone able to save the soul. With this view they testified to all kinds of professors, that "the incorruptible seed and word of God that lives and abides forever," is that by which the great work of regeneration is begun, carried forward, and perfected in the souls of men,—and only in proportion as there is a cooperation therewith by obedience to its manifestations.

This exposed them to many malicious attacks, and gained them many enemies; among those, more especially, who were either selfishly interested in, or superstitiously attached to, what are called the ordinances of religion:—such as placed all their hopes upon the practice of outward observances, though in connection with a belief in Christ and a reliance upon his merits, yet to the virtual exclusion or undervaluing of that inward work, the being born again, born of the Spirit, without which, our Savior himself has expressly told us, we cannot see the kingdom of God. In conformity with these views, they found themselves called upon to lay aside both water baptism and the use of the bread and wine, called sacrament; feeling their minds engaged rather to press after and by all means to hold up that spiritual baptism, and also that union and communion with Christ as the Bread of life, which is all essential and complete in itself. Verily, verily, I say unto you, except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you have no life in you." "Behold I stand at the door, and knock; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me." Rev 3:20.

They saw to the end of all wars and fightings, and were called to renounce them, together with the root from where they spring; as all must do [by the personal commands heard from Christ] in whom the great work of regeneration is truly perfected.

In the same way, they laid aside all oaths, agreeably with the command of Christ and his apostle, and in conformity with an evidence which they felt in themselves, that the bond of an oath was no longer necessary where the Truth of the gospel has become the governing principle of the soul. This became both the direct and the incidental, though fruitful source of suffering to Friends in the early times. Those matters which relate to their outward deportment, dress, and address were the incessant occasion of persecution and abuse. As these wounded the pride of men, so they excited the contempt and malice of the corrupt nature. The refusing to take off the hat, for instance, excepting us a sign of worship to Almighty God, was one of the things that in those days put to the proof the spirit, by which professors and others were too much actuated. For although it is in itself a small matter, it was grievously offensive to the proud nature of man; and on that account occasioned Friends full as much reproach and persecution as some things of far greater moment, in which they were led to differ from other men.

Thus briefly enumerated, the reader is now in possession of the chief particulars wherein Friends became so obnoxious to their contemporaries; and by means of which they drew down upon themselves that large amount of suffering, they had for so long a period to endure; this however eventually purchased for the community at large as well as for themselves much of the liberty they have since enjoyed. The following short paragraphs from Isaac Penington sets forth and more clearly defines the moving principle which actuated the early Friends. It serves to illustrate the depth of those feelings, under which they were made willing to become as signs and wonders in their day. Penington says:

"Our work in the world, is to hold forth the virtues of Him that has called us; to live like God; not to own [approve] anything in the world that God does not own. To forget our country, our kindred, our father's house, and to live like persons of another country, of another kindred, of another family. Not to do anything of ourselves, and which is pleasing to the old nature; but all our words, all our conduct, yes, every thought in us is to become new. Whatever comes from us, is to come from the new principle of life in us, and to answer that in others; but we must not please the old nature at all, in ourselves nor in anyone else. And walking faithfully thus with God, we have a reward at present, and a crown in the end, which does and will countervail all the reproaches and hardships we do or can meet with in the world. We are also to be witnesses for God, and to propagate his life in the world: to be instruments in his hands, to bring others out of death and captivity into true life and liberty. We are to fight against the powers of darkness everywhere, as the Lord calls us forth. And this we are to do in his wisdom, according to his will, in his power, and in his love, sweetness, and meekness. We are not to take ways according to our own wisdom,— there must be a strict watch set in the life lest that get up again;—nor must we speak such words as man's wisdom would call wise; nor may we go in our own will to seek any; but the Lord must go before. Nor may we make use of our own strength, but feel his arm in our weakness. Nor may we go forth in that love, sweetness, or meekness, which is pleasing to the fleshly mind; but we must be true to God, handling the sword skillfully and faithfully, judging and cutting down the transgressor in the power and authority of God. And when the meek, the lowly, the humble thing is reached and raised, then the true love, the sweetness, the tenderness, the meekness must go forth over that. The Lord God is rough with the transgressor, and all along the Scripture hews and judges him; and if we come forth in the same spirit, we shall find the same leadings where we meet with the same thing. For the Lord God will never be tender there, nor can that which comes from him, lives in him, is led by him, be tender there, where he is not."—Penington's Works. Svo.vol. .p. 91, 92.

CHAPTER XVI

1672. William Dewsbury discharged from Warwick jail—Travels to Bristol—John Roberts—Anecdote respecting him, his wife, and W. D.—Letter to George Fox from the North of England—G. F. in Worcester jail: tried before Judge Hale; his opinion of G. F.—Extract from an epistle—William Dewsbury visited by John Whiting—Popish plot, Friends suffer under a charge of being Jesuits—William Dewsbury confined six years at Warwick.

WILLIAM DEWSBURY was released from his long confinement in Warwick jail in the year 1672. At that time, there lay in prison throughout England and Wales above four hundred of the people called Quakers, many of them under sentence of premunire and banishment. Soon after the Declaration of Indulgence was published, in consequence of an interview which George Whitehead and other Friends had with the king in council when their grievously oppressed condition was laid before him, he was induced to issue an order for their discharge, and the remission of all pains and penalties adjudged against them. Under this instrument, William Dewsbury was set at liberty. During the interval of several years which elapsed between this date and that of the epistle at the close of the last chapter, it can hardly he expected that many incidents would occur calculated to fill up the chasm in this history. This protracted imprisonment furnishes one out of many instances, which show, that the faith and constancy of Friends, though closely proved, was sufficient to preserve the sufferer from fainting under his trials. It should, however, be stated, that from what we may gather in two of his epistles, his mental suffering was so great at one time while under durance at Warwick, on account of the danger many Friends were in, from dissensions that had arisen in the Society, that his spirit was deeply wounded, and his bodily health impaired. His life on this occasion appears to have been in imminent danger; for his strength was so reduced that he was hardly able to speak, and to all appearance his end was for several weeks approaching. "But," he says, "God in his mercy restored strength in his appointed time." We have, however, reason to conclude, despite these facts, that he bore this imprisonment, aggravated as it probably was beyond most other occasions, with the same cheerful resignation as heretofore; and in proof of it we find, that he was enabled to write various animating addresses for the encouragement of other Friends under like suffering, whom the rage of persecution or the floods of temptation continued to assail. Several of these must be omitted; but I will not hesitate to add the following, which was written at the time when his detention was drawing towards a close. It is dated the 5th of the 3rd month 1671; and is as remarkable for its brevity, as for its fullness.

My dear Friends, In these trying days, be not afraid of what man can do, whose breath is in his nostrils; but look up to the all-sufficiency of Almighty God, to stay your minds on him, who has counted you worthy to suffer for him. In all humility, walk faithfully before him unto the end; he is your reward, and will give unto you a crown of Life for ever. Even so be it with you, in the name of the Lord, is the breathing of my soul for you whom my soul loves. Keep your meetings in the authority and life of the meek and patient Spirit, which wears out, and overcomes all things that are not of its own nature.

Read this in the fear of the Lord among Friends.

William Dewsbury

During the interval of liberty which followed his deliverance from this imprisonment, John Whiting, who was personally acquainted with him, informs us, that his travels were extensive in several parts of England, particularly in the west and north, of which no detailed account has been preserved. From Bristol, the 7th of 3rd month, 1673, he addresses a letter to George Whitehead and Alexander Parker, and other brethren concerned in the general meeting then about to assemble in London; in which he excuses himself from being with them on the ground of the Lord having disposed of him in another way, ("but I am ordered otherwise, having much upon me while the door is open.") In a postscript he informs them, that "Friends are generally in a sweet state with God in this city and where I have passed, both to my comfort and yours in the Lord: blessed be his name for ever."

The following circumstances, narrated by Daniel Roberts of his father, John Roberts, in some very interesting Memoirs which he has left us respecting him, ought perhaps to have been introduced at a somewhat earlier period. Although the smaller and latter part only relates to William Dewsbury; yet as the point of the anecdote would have been lost by separating it from the narrative, and as the latter well illustrates some particulars peculiar to the early Friends, the reader will not object to my presenting him with the whole.

In the year 1665, it pleased the Lord to send two women Friends out of the north, to Cirencester; who inquiring after such as feared God, were directed to my father, as the likeliest person to entertain them. They came to his house, and desired a meeting. He granted it, and invited several of his acquaintances to sit with them. After some time of silence, the Friends spoke a few words, which had a good effect. The meeting being over, my father endeavored to engage them in discourse; but they said little, only recommended him to Richard Farnsworth, then prisoner for the testimony of Truth in Banbury jail, where they were going.

Upon this recommendation, my father went shortly after to the prison, in order to converse with Richard, where he met with the two women who had been at his house. The turnkey was denying them entrance, and telling them, he had an order not to let in any of those giddy-headed people; and therefore if they did go in, he would keep them there. But, upon my father's desire, they were admitted in along with him, and conducted through several rooms to a dungeon, where Richard Farnsworth was preaching through the grating to the people in the street. But soon after they came in, he desisted; and after a little time of silence, turning to them, spoke to this purpose: That Zaccheus being a man of low stature, and having a mind to see Christ, ran before, and climbed up into a sycamore-tree; and our Savior knowing his good desires called to him, Zaccheus, come down! The day of salvation has come to your house. Thus Zaccheus was like some in our day who are climbing up into the tree of knowledge, thinking to find Christ there. But the word now is, Zaccheus, come! come down! for that which is to be known of God is manifested within. This, with more to the same purpose, was spoken with such authority, that, when my father came home, he told my mother, he had seen Richard Farnsworth, who had spoken his condition as if he had known him from his youth.

From this time, he patiently bore the cross. And afterwards, (probably in the year 1673), when it pleased God to communicate to him a portion of the knowledge of his blessed Truth, a necessity was laid upon him, one first-day morning, to go to the public worship house in Cirencester at the time of worship, not knowing what might be required of him there. He went; and standing with his hat on, the priest was silent for some time; but being asked, Why he did not go on, he answered, he could not while that man stood with his hat on. Upon this, some took him by the arm, and led him into the street, staying at the door to keep him out. But after waiting a little in stillness, he found himself clear and passed away. As he passed the market-place, the tie of his shoe slackened; and while he stooped down to fasten it, a man came behind him, and struck him on the back a hard blow with a stone, saying, 'There, take that for Jesus Christ's sake.' He answered, 'So I do;' not looking back to see who it was, but quietly going on his way. A few days after, a man came and asked him forgiveness; telling him, he was the unhappy man that gave him the blow on the back, and he could have no rest since he had done it.

Not long after, three Friends came that way, who found the like concern, namely, Robert Sylvester, Philip Grey, and Thomas Onyon. These, standing in the steeple-house with their hats on, though they said nothing, the priest was silent; and being asked if he was not well, he answered, he could not go forward, while those dumb dogs stood there. Whereupon the people drug them out; and the priest afterwards informed a justice, that they had interrupted him in divine service; so they were bound over to the quarter sessions. My father, at their desire accompanied them to the sessions. When they were called, and the priest had accused them, the bench, in a rage, without asking them any questions, ordered their mittimuses to be made out. This unjust and illegal proceeding kindled my father's zeal; insomuch that he, stepping forward, called to the justices, saying, 'Are those who sit on the bench sworn to do justice? Is there not a man among you that will do the thing that is right?'

Whereupon John Stephens of Lypeat, then chairman, cried out, ' Who are you, sirrah? What is your name?'

My father telling him his name, he said, 'I am glad I have you here. I have heard of you. You deserve a stone doublet. There are many more honest men than you that I have hung.'

'It may be so,’ answered my father, 'but what do you think becomes of those that hang honest men?'

The justice replied, 'I'll send you to prison: and if any insurrection or tumult is in the land, I'll come and cut your throat first with my own sword; for I fear to sleep in my bed, lest such fanatics should come and cut my throat.' And snatching up a ball of wax, he violently threw it at my father, who avoided the blow by stepping aside. Their mittimuses were then made out, and they were all sent to prison.

The same evening my [great] uncle Solliss, who was one of the justices on the bench, came to the prison, and calling for my father, asked him, 'If he was willing to have his liberty to go home to his wife and family: '

'Upon what terms, uncle?' said my father.

Justice. 'Upon such terms, that the jailer open the doors and let you out.'

John Roberts. ' What! without entering into any recognizances?'

Justice. ' Yes.' John Roberts. 'Then I accept of my liberty; but I admire, uncle, how you and several others could sit upon the bench, as with your thumbs in your mouths, when you should speak a word in behalf of the innocent.'

Justice. 'You must learn to live under a law, cousin; and if you will accept of your liberty until next sessions, you may have it; if not, stay where you are.'

So they parted; and on the next day my father went home, having also the jailer's permission.

In the night, a concern came upon him with such weight, that it made him tremble until the bed shook under him. My mother asking the reason of it, he answered, 'The Lord requires hard things of me: if it would please him, I had rather lay down my life, than obey him in what he requires at my hands.' To which my mother replied, 'If you are fully persuaded the Lord requires it of you, I would not have you disobey him for he will require nothing of us but what he will enable us to go through; therefore we have good cause to trust in him.' On which, he said, ' I must go to this John Stephens, who is my great enemy, and sent me to prison where he said he would secure me; and as my uncle Solliss in kindness has given me leave to come home, I can expect no more favor from him, if I now go and run myself into the mouth of my adversary. But I must go, whatever I suffer.'

He arose and prepared for his journey; but dared not eat or drink anything. When he mounted his horse, the command of the Lord was to him, 'Remember Lot's wife; look not back.' So on he rode very cheerfully eight or nine miles, until he came within sight of the justice's house; and then he let in the reasoner, who reasoned him out of all his courage, presenting to his mind that his uncle Solliss and all his neighbors would say, he had no regard for his wife and family, thus to push himself into the hands of his greatest enemy. This brought such a cloud over his mind, that he alighted off his horse, and sat down upon the ground to spread his cause before the Lord. After he had waited some time in silence, the Lord appeared and dissipated the cloud, and his word was to him, 'Go, and I will go with you, and I will give you a threshing instrument, and you shall thresh the mountains.'

Now he was exceedingly overcome by the love of God; and I have often heard him say, he was filled like a vessel that wanted vent; and said in his heart, 'Your presence is enough.' Proceeding to the house with great satisfaction, it being pretty early in the morning, and seeing the stable door open, he went to the groom, and desired him to put up his horse.

While this was doing the justice's son and his clerk came up, who roughly said, I thought you had been in Gloucester castle.'

John Roberts. 'So I was.'"

Clerk. 'And how did you get out?'

John Roberts. 'When you have authority to demand it, I can give you an answer. But my business is with your master, if I may speak with him.'"

Clerk. 'You may, if you will promise to be civil.'"

John Roberts. 'If you see me uncivil, I desire you to tell me of it.'"

They went in; and my father following them, they told him to wait in the hall, and they would acquaint the justice with his being there. He was soon called in; and my father no sooner saw him, (the justice), but he believed the Lord had been at work upon him for as he had behaved with the fierceness of a lion before, he now appeared like a lamb, meeting him with a pleasant countenance, and taking him by the hand, said, 'Friend, how are you?'

My father answered, 'Pretty well;' and then proceeded thus: 'I am come in the fear and dread of heaven, to warn you to repent of your wickedness with speed, lest the Lord cut the thread of your life, and send you to the pit that is bottomless. I am come to warn you with great love, whether you will hear or forbear, and to preach the everlasting gospel to you.'

The justice replied, 'You are a welcome messenger to me; that is what I have long desired to hear.'

"The everlasting gospel," returned my father, "is the same that God sent his servant John to declare, when he saw an angel fly through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, 'Fear God, and give glory to his name, and worship him who made heaven and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of water.' "

The justice then caused my father to sit down by him on the couch, and said, 'I believe your message is from God, and I receive it as such. I am sorry I have done you wrong. I will never wrong you more.' After much more discourse, he offered my father the best entertainment his house afforded; but my father excused himself from eating or drinking with him at that time, expressing his kind acceptance of his love; and so in much love they parted.

The same day, William Dewsbury had appointed a meeting at Tedbury, where my mother went. But she was so concerned on account of my father's exercise, that she could receive little benefit from the meeting. After the meeting was ended, William Dewsbury walked to and fro in a long passage, groaning in spirit; and by and by came up to my mother; and though she was a stranger to him, he laid his hand upon her head, and said, 'Woman, your sorrow is great; I sorrow with you.' Then walking a little to and fro as before, he came to her again, and said, 'Now the time is come, that those who marry must be as though they married not, and those who have husbands as though they had none; for the Lord calls for all to be offered up." By this she saw the Lord had given him a sense of her great burden; for she had not discovered her exercise to any. It gave her such ease in her mind, that she went home rejoicing in the Lord. She no sooner got home, than she found my father returned from Lypeat, where his message was received in such love as was far from their expectation; the sense of which much broke them into tears, in consideration of the goodness of God, in so eminently making way for and helping them that day.

The following letter addressed to George Fox, although there is no date attached to it, belongs to this period, and therefore takes that place in the writer's collected works. In the absence of further particulars respecting the journey to which it alludes, it is considered to be worthy of a place here, not only on account of the information it contains, but for the evidence it affords, of that sweet fellowship and harmony which subsisted between the two Friends, both of them very leading characters and eminent in their day. It also conveys a very pleasing testimony to the estimation in which George Fox was held among his brethren.

Dear brother, in the covenant of life, in Christ our Head, my soul salutes you, and sympathizes with you in your
exercise in your bonds; with breathings to the Lord to sweeten all our ways,— what He calls us unto,—with his living presence, to the perfecting of his glory forever, Amen. Dear George Fox, I have been through many counties in the north country, and the comfortable presence of the Lord did manifest itself in all the assemblies of his people, to all our comfort in Him our Head and Life, blessed forever!

All was very peaceable; and great resort of all sorts of people to Friends' meetings; and not any opposition, but all meetings separated in peace. It would be too tedious to mention the names of them that minded their love to you, through all the counties where I traveled; but generally all the ancient Friends in Cumberland, Northumberland, Bishopric, [Durham,] and Yorkshire, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, and in this town, desired to have their dear love remembered to you. The deep sense of your labor and travail is fresh upon their spirits; which causes many prayers to be poured forth before the Lord, if it is his good will and pleasure, to give you strength of body and liberty, to travel among them to their great comfort as in days of old and years past. But in the will of our God our souls rest with you, in the pleasure of our God, in whom I remain,

Your dear Brother,

William Dewsbury

If the foregoing letter be correctly placed as to date, the "bonds" to which it refers, and under which George Fox was then suffering, answers to his imprisonment in Worcester jail. In that prison he was confined nearly twelve months, and was at length by Habeas Corpus brought up to London, to await his trial in the Court of King's Bench. In this case again, Sir Matthew Hale was his judge, who had now learned how to estimate the character of such men as George Fox. For, after the decision of the court had been given in the prisoner's favor, some of his adversaries knowing the consequences of his refusing to swear, used their endeavors to persuade the judges to tender to him again the oaths of allegiance and supremacy, on the pretended ground of his being a dangerous person to be at liberty. Judge Hale, whose character as a judge stands so pre-eminent, replied that he had indeed heard some such reports of him, but he had also heard many more good reports; he therefore with the other judges ordered him to be set free by proclamation. The epistle from which the subsequent extracts are taken, is dated the 14th of the 11th month, 1675 ; and the portion selected being very much of a general character, is thought to be too valuable to be excluded from this volume.

Dear Friends, whom the Lord has visited in this his glorious day, and plucked as brands out of the fire to wait upon him, in his light, that his great work of regeneration may be perfected in you, to your eternal comfort, and the glory of the name of our God forever.

My dear Friends, seeing that many are called and few chosen; many convinced who are not converted; and many come forth with us who are not of us, as by sad experience has been witnessed ;-from the deep sense of this working of the enemy, I am constrained to send this epistle among you; — knowing the kingdom of God is compared unto ten virgins, five wise and five foolish, who all had lamps, and slumbered in the secure mind, until they were awakened to enter in with their Lord. Then were the foolish virgins made manifest, who, though they had lamps like the other, yet wanting the oil, they neither did nor could enter in. Oh! dear and tender Friends, let all dread the Lord, who make mention of his name in the light of Christ; for this parable is to you, unto whom the Lord has sent, to preach to you and in you the word of his kingdom.

This is on my spirit in the word of the Lord, to you all, convinced of the precious Truth of our God, that you may have a certain knowledge, how it is with you, and how you escaped the subtle wiles of the enemy, which have hindered so many from the possession of the life of Truth;— examine and search your hearts, with the light of Christ, that you may truly discern, how the enemy draws into the foolish conceitedness, in the outside and formal profession of the Truth, feeding upon the knowing part, and so stops the hunger that should reach the Life. Then in an exalted mind to say: I see, know, am clothed, and want nothing, when such are blind, naked, miserable, and need all things. This is the state of the foolish virgins, who dwell in the outward court, and place all their confidence in the form and outside, and in the profession of Truth, and so have lost the sense of that heavenly hunger, which must possess the life "hidden with Christ in God," or mourn out its days in sorrow.

Therefore, all dear Friends, watch diligently to the heart-searching light, that you may all discern this mystery of iniquity; that so the enemy may not prevail against you, to turn you aside either to the right hand or to the left. That you may wait upon the Lord for strength to preserve you out of whatever he has convinced you to be evil, and thus answer God's witness in the regulation of your conduct, and in the uprightness of your hearts stand clear before the Lord, that you are ready to do and suffer whatever he should call you to. When you have done all this, be watchful in the heart-searching light, that the enemy does not draw your minds, to place confidence in the work of righteousness you have done, as the ground and hope of your calling in Christ; and in need of faith in him, cause you to rest in your services; and so, come short of the hidden life, enjoyed through faith in the light and life of Christ, our righteousness.

I beseech you, dear Friends, wait to know your passage in this great mystery. The entrance to it is by the strait gate; and all the foolish virgins, though their lamp in the outward profession is never so glorious, yet through pride in their attainments, never enter into this rest; for this is the furthest that ever any come who make a profession of the Truth, and go from us, but are not of us. You, tender Friends, who truly seek God's glory, and so love his light that you are willing to give up life and all to do his will,—when the enemy would draw you to rest in what you have done, and so take the jewels of God, and play the harlot and deck yourselves,—dread the Lord, and in his light you [will] see more light. You [will] see, that all you have done is but your duty and your reasonable service, which you must do, or otherwise perish eternally. Yet in the light your poor souls travel on in the footsteps of the flock of the mournful companions, who are weeping in secret and inwardly seeking the Lord God, to be married unto him in that hidden life, which is hidden with Christ in God. Until you enjoy the marriage union, in deep humiliation you wait in the light for the Lord to create you to a lively hope in Christ Jesus, the second Adam.

William Dewsbury

In the year 1676, John Whiting, who lived at Nailsey, in Somersetshire, in the course of a visit which he paid in some of the midland counties, went to see William Dewsbury at Warwick; who, although not then a prisoner, had permanently removed his residence from Yorkshire to that town. I conclude that, previous to this time, his wife died, as no mention is made of her in the narrative given by John Whiting, which is as follows:

William Dewsbury then dwelt in his own hired house, with whom I had pretty much discourse, in his garden, of many things to my great comfort and satisfaction for he was very free and open to me beyond what I could expect, being a young man, and a stranger outwardly to him. He told me some things I shall never forget. He was an extraordinary man in many ways, and I thought, as exact a pattern of a perfect man as ever I knew. He gave me an epistle to carry to Friends, and coming to the door with me, when I came away the last time, told me, at taking leave of him, that, the blessing of the Lord would be with me if I was faithful; which was an encouragement to me, and through the Lord's goodness, I have found it so, beyond my desert; blessed be his holy name for ever!

We have already seen that the rising of the Fifth Monarchy men was made a pretext for exercising, or rather for augmenting the cruelties already practiced on the Friends; and now in the year 1678, the time of the Popish plot, they were made to suffer under the charge of being Jesuits; a plea that was more than once resorted to, as a sanction for persecution. On this plea, William Dewsbury was this year cast into Warwick jail, and although the notorious Titus Gates gave a certificate under his own hand to clear him from that odious charge, it was in vain. He was confined there for a period of at least six years, and was at last set at liberty on the general proclamation of James II, which was dated the 18th of April, 1685.

Site Editor's Comment: This proclamation from King James, was greatly influenced through the noble efforts of King James' good friend, William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania, and noble minister of the Quakers. He delivered and successfully lobbied a petition to King James, showing that thirteen hundred of their faith were then in prison, and that in the last five years hundreds of them had died of prison hardships. Within a year, by a proclamation of King James, they were every one set at liberty, along with all the other dissenters, who were in prison for their religion. Over two thousand came trooping out of the noisome pest-houses in which they had been confined, and fathers and brothers, even wives, and mothers, were restored to their families. It was a strange condition of society that we now can scarcely understand, such a jail delivery as this of people who had been imprisoned for several years for nothing but their religion. There was great rejoicing all over England, especially among the Quakers, who at their next annual meeting in London saw the faces of valued friends, some of whom according to their historian, Gough, had been in prison “twelve or fifteen years and upward."

 

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