The Christian Progress
of George Whitehead
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The following writing is George Whitehead's Journal, titled The Christian Progress of George Whitehead. By 1800, Whitehead's writings were in disfavor by the Quaker Society, branded as "controversial." The reasons are: 1) he so clearly states the necessity of death of self on the cross , and 2) at the time of his death, he clearly stated the requirements of being a true Quaker and accurately called the beginnings of the Quaker departure from the truth. But make no mistake, Whitehead's life is a bright and shining example of courage, strong suffering, dedication, legal skill, patience, and love; in a Christian maturity that only the early Quakers exhibited.
George Whitehead was born at Sunrigg in Westmoreland in 1636. He became convinced of Quaker principles when only 14 years of age, and started limited preaching under the Lord's direction at 16 years of age. He was one of the notable band of the Valiant Sixty; sixty men and women, who, having first preached in the North, started forth on an evangelistic mission to spread the truth throughout England. Of these sixty worthy souls, George Whitehead was 17, James Parnell was 16, and Edward Burrough was 18. These young men had been convinced and personally taught by Christ, and when sufficiently mature, commanded by Christ to preach his true gospel through the power of His spirit. Their hard-hitting testimonies are proof of the power of the Holy Spirit to teach even youths, resulting in their knowledge being vastly superior to what the ministers and preachers of then and today learn in their Bible Colleges or Seminaries. Their youth, knowledge, and powerful ministries testify to God dwelling powerfully in the young who seek his face, and are reminders of the following scriptures:
As William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania, said in his farewell advice to his family and children:
George Whitehead was a skilful controversialist, and it is on record that at one meeting he held in Norfolk... "nearly the whole congregation was convinced by the mighty power of God, through his lively and piercing testimony and prayer." He gave much time and strength to the pleading of the cause of the oppressed. In 1661, (at 24 years of age) accompanied by Edward Burrough and other Friends, he appeared before the bar of the House of Commons in the hope of preventing the passing of the Act of Uniformity. In this they were unsuccessful, but the deputation created a deep impression in the House. Later on, George Whitehead took the leading part in obtaining a general Pardon, from Charles II, by which over 490 Quakers were released from prison, among the number being John Bunyan, (an opponent of the Quakers). He was also successful in obtaining relief from many hardships in the reigns of James II and William and Mary. Although born in the reign of Charles I, George Whitehead lived to see George I crowned king, and took part as the spokesman in a deputation of Friends that waited upon the King and the Prince of Wales to present an address of welcome from the Society. At 87 years of age he died in 1723, and was buried by the side of George Fox in the Quaker ground at Bunhill Fields.
George Whitehead was one of the few in the Valiant Sixty to not have died from persecution in the heated days of the early Quakers' suffering. And when you read of his accomplishments throughout his life, he was obviously an important instrument in the hand of the Lord, destined to serve so magnificently. One cannot but be impressed at how great was George Whitehead's service to the cause, not only as a minister, as a preacher, as an evangelist, in countless debates, in imprisonments, and in severe sufferings — but also with the patient dedication to a prodigious outpouring of letters, petitions, and personal pleas to courts, magistrates, mayors, justices, parliaments, kings, courtier officials, priests, bishops, ecclesiastic authorities, etc. In all these efforts, like all Quaker ministers, he served without salary or pay, simply earning his living as a grocer with a shop in London. Making numerous personal, lengthy pleas to King Charles II, James II, and William III, George Whitehead always spoke without accusation, sarcasm, or bitterness; but spoke with love, kindness, humility, and respect. He was a Christian statesman, magnificently representing the Lord's people; and when he obtained the kings' many concessions, he was relentless in pursuing the case, however narrow the door had been opened, to the conclusion of: 1) several mass releases from prisons, with many individual reliefs, 2) freedom to assemble for worship, proposed by three kings, and finally approved by Parliament, 3) freedom from being forced to swear, and 4) relief of fines for not paying tithes, which resulted in imprisonment. His patient appeals are the classic evidence of the truth in the Proverbs:
Never shunning menial work, after his great success in obtaining the several kings' concessions, he did not rest on his laurels — but then followed through tirelessly until everyone was freed, or the necessary legislation had been pushed through Parliament. For example, after he had personally persuaded King Charles to pardon over 490 Quakers, some having suffered in prison for up to ten years, he labored night and day for six months delivering and distributing the pardons to the prisons and courts throughout England and Wales, to be sure no one stayed in prison through that next winter, in which so many of the prisoners had previously died.
When the Black Death plague broke out in London, it killed over one hundred thousand people, including many Quakers. Most people fled to the countryside; but not George Whitehead. Fearlessly, and with magnificent faith, George Whitehead personally ministered to the dying Quakers in severely infected prisons, in their homes, and on board ships where they contacted the disease and died, while awaiting forced deportation to foreign lands. He was tireless in all, including very menial tasks, the proverbial humble water carrier, and wonderfully successful — an eminent servant of the Lord, a notable worthy of His Master, who should be an inspiration to all future generations. From the Word of the Lord within:
"And many were convinced by this extraordinary and powerful partisan
The original text has been modernized, substituting you for thee, has for hath, etc.; in addition, sentences have occasionally been re-written when they were too complex or vaguely worded. Some sections have been isolated from the main body, but the entire journal is available for reading on this site. This first part, written in review and as a preface to the Journal of his life, is particularly instructive in his spiritual journey to the fullness of Christ.
Until we all attain oneness in the faith and in the comprehension
The Christian Progress
His Early Spiritual Journey to Zion
I remember the Lord our Gracious God in his ways, and merciful dealings with me from my youth; how He found me among his lost and strayed sheep, on the barren mountains of fruitless professions; and how He drew me to an inward experience of his Power and sanctifying work in my heart; and to know his teaching and spiritual ministry. Thus he enabled me by degrees, experientially to minister to others. As well, he obliged me to live accordingly; and to suffer patiently, with resignation of liberty and life for Christ's sake. Whenever I was called to suffer, I was supported by his Power and cheerfully carried through many great trials and deep sufferings for his Name's sake. Since I benefited from my youth of many eminent deliverances and preservations, I have been the more concerned for my friends and brethren, who for conscience' sake have deeply suffered by imprisonments and seizure of goods; and in the tender bowels of Christ Jesus I have truly sympathized with the faithful in their sufferings and afflictions. In His love I have many times been moved and stirred up to plead their innocent cause before various government authorities, as well as to lobby in their behalf with great industry. I have often been in the hand of the Lord, and his Presence and counsel have strengthened and helped me, in answer to my prayers and supplications. His Power has prevailed by degrees to mollify the hearts of many in the several governments towards us. Glory to the Name of the Lord our God, who pleaded the cause of the innocent!
For these reasons, a concern has long been upon my spirit, to leave some remarks and footsteps, by a historical account, of my progress under the Lord's help and conduct in his work and service. In order to do this, I collected several papers, notes, and memorials that I had reserved, regarding some of those exercises and transactions, in which I have been both actively and passively concerned on Truth’s account. Then I had to briefly compile these into a form that was plain and the most intelligible, both in facts and doctrine. My good intention in relating these observations was their being conducive to the Glory of God, the honor of his excellent name, and to the advantage of the serious reader; the more to consider of his Divine Grace and goodness, which endure forever, to those who love and fear Him.
With early inclinations and desires the Lord was graciously pleased to stir my heart towards his blessed Truth, as it is in Christ Jesus; to be drawn to be inquisitive after the knowledge of Truth; and how to become truly penitent, and witness a true amendment of life from such a vain conduct. From my childhood I had been prone to this, being partly educated under a Presbyterian ministry, which the Lord showed me came short in several things they professed and pretended in their worships, preachings, and prayers. With those understandings I could not cordially join with them. Before I heard of the people called Quakers, I was at a loss in my spirit for what I sometimes secretly desired and wanted. I was as one bewildered, and I wandered farther, seeking among other people who had some higher and more refined notions concerning spiritual gifts. I was then about fourteen years of age.
After a short time, I heard of some people called Quakers, who trembled at the word of God. I noticed how they were reviled and reproached by loose and wicked people. This aroused my further inquiry, after which the Lord led me to believe they were His people. Before I ever attended one of their meetings, or heard any of them preach, I defended them and their principles, as far as they were represented favorably to me.
And though the Lord had raised good desires in me towards Himself, that I might know true repentance unto life, yet those desires were often quenched; and my mind was led away through an airy, light disposition, after music, vain merriment, and other vanities. However, the Lord was graciously pleased to secretly follow me with judgment and reproof in my very young years; and He renewed desires in me for the right way. However, I had no peace of mind, while listening to ministers and other believers; nor knowing of, or following the Light of Christ within me, which convinced and reproved me for the sins of my youth.
The light shone in darkness, as in a dark place, before it shone out of darkness. The Spirit of the Lord moved upon the waters, even when darkness was upon the face of the great deep, before His works of old were wrought; and now, in order to bring forth His works in the new creation, and to make us new creatures in Christ Jesus, his Spirit moves upon peoples' hearts, even when unstable as waters. His Light shines in them before they know God or Jesus Christ, in order to give them the knowledge of the glory and power of God, and of His dear Son Jesus Christ.
After some religious discussions with some young men soberly inclined, and having just heard of a few people called Quakers at Sedbergh, in Yorkshire, and in Kendal Barony in Westmoreland, I wanted to go to a meeting of theirs. A meeting of these people was held at Captain Ward's, in a area called SunnyBank, near Grayrigg Chapel.
At my first attendance, when I came into the meeting and sat down seriously among them, after a little space of silence, a friend, one Thomas Arey, spoke a little while of the spiritual deliverances, travels, and progress of the Lord's people in his way and work; alluding to Israel's deliverance out of Egypt, from under Pharaoh and his task-masters. All this I thought I easily understood allegorically, as spiritualized, but what was most ostensible to me was, there appeared to me a great work in the Power of the Lord in the meeting, breaking the hearts of many into great sorrow, weeping, and contrition of spirit; which I believed was a godly sorrow for sin, in order to unfeigned repentance.
I was more confirmed in this, when I saw a young woman go mourning out of the meeting. I seriously followed to observe her sorrowful condition; and I found her seated on the ground with her face toward the earth as if she regarded nobody present, as she, mourning bitterly, cried out: "Lord! Make me clean; O Lord! Make me clean." This far more tenderly and deeply affected my heart than what I had heard spoken. It counted more with me than all the preaching that I had ever heard from all men; and it was certainly a testimony to me, with the Spirit of the Lord evidencing to my spirit, that it was a real work of his power upon her heart. His power also operated upon the hearts of others, causing trembling, sorrow, and contrition; in order to bring them to true repentance and amendment of life, and so truly to experience the work of regeneration, and sanctification from sin and uncleanness. Accordingly it proved to result in that for many, glory to our God forever! These things having made deep impression upon my mind, I was the more confirmed in the belief I had before, that the Lord was at work among that small despised people; and that He was about to gather and raise up a people to Himself, to worship Him in spirit and in truth. For He seeks worshipers, and this worship is not in the dead and empty forms set up in the wills and minds of men.
Under these considerations I was induced to leave the parish-priests, or ministers who were authorized by the will of man, having no divine authority from God, nor commission from Christ to teach others. These priests and ministers were not even good examples to the flock, because their pride and covetousness was contrary to Christ's command and His ministers' example. After the Lord by his Light opened my eyes, to see the blindness of those guides whom I had followed by education and tradition, it was obvious; I knew I should turn away from them.
And though I met with opposition and hard speeches from some near relatives and others, for confessing and vindicating truth according to that little measure of understanding I then had; I was still weak and young in years, and beset with many temptations and discouragements. Yet the Lord my God helped and persuaded me to take up a resolution, not only wholly to leave the priests, but also to constantly attend meetings of this despised people called Quakers, and to sit down among them. There were only few in number then, compared to what they have increased since. For some time the meetings that I frequented were in Sedbergh parish in Yorkshire, and sometimes at Grayrigg, near Kendal, in Westmoreland, the county where I was born.
I heard our dear Friend George Fox, after I had been for some time persuaded and resolved to persevere among Friends and fully convinced with my mind turned to the Light. The first time I heard him minister was at an friend’s meeting in Captain Ward's house at Sunny Bank. I was then very low, serious, and intent in my mind; willing to see and taste for myself; for my own inward satisfaction. I saw and felt Fox's testimony was weighty and deep, and that it proceeded from life and experience. His words spoke divine revelation, and tended to bring to an inward feeling and sense of the life and power of Christ with a sanctifying operation in the heart. His speech was not with the affected eloquence of oratory, or human wisdom, but in the simplicity of the Gospel, to turn the mind to the Light and Life of Christ; and the Lord abundantly blessed his ministry to many.
Our meetings in Sedbergh were often at several locations, including Thomas Blaykling's house, whose family was honest and of good reputation; at Gervase Benson's house, who had been a justice of peace; at Richard Robinson's at Brigflats, who was an innocent faithful man; and at other nearby places in those parts.
Having joined with the people, in derision
termed Quakers, and being by the Grace of God
resolved to continue and persevere in their
communion, and to wait upon God in his
Light, with which He had enlightened my understanding in a good measure, I had great
satisfaction in it. We were sensible that our
association and conversation with one another, as we
had received the love of the Truth, was helpful
and encouraging to us, and tended to our edification and comfort. I greatly loved and
delighted in the free conversation and fellowship
of sober, faithful Friends. When I was a school-boy, at the free school
at Blencoe in Cumberland, I had loved retirement
with sober, studious scholars, though but simple
and poor in the world, rather than the company
of loose, extravagant boys, though of the gentry
or richer sort, who were given to much play
and gaming. In that company which I was most
fond, we were the most profitable one to
another in our learning, and communicating the
effects of our studies to each other. In a spiritual and higher sense, we were much more beneficial to each other, when we had in
some degree come to know the blessed Truth
in the Light of our Lord Jesus Christ. Our
Christian society and communications of our inward experiences redounded to our
mutual help and edification in the love of the
Truth. The Truth is in Christ the Light and Life, and
our great Apostle and minister; who teaches
his true followers to profit, in that love and life
which flows from Him, the Fountain and Foundation
of all our mercies; to whom alone be
the praise and glory for evermore!
Upon these and such serious Christian considerations, I was persuaded by the Grace of God, to give up in obedience to follow Christ Jesus; to believe in and obey his Light given me; and to wait there diligently, to receive power from Him to become a true child of God; for to as many as truly receive Christ the Son of God, He gives power to become sons of God.
I saw it was my place to retire inward to the Light, to the Grace of God, the immortal incorruptible Seed, the engrafted Word, which is our Divine Principle; and frequently testified of among the said people, according to Holy Scripture.
And my mind being turned to this Light, I came plainly to see my inward and outward state; how much fallen into a state of degeneration, and how much depraved, corrupted, and alienated from the Life of Christ and of God. The very vanity of mind and thoughts, in which I had been wandering and estranged from the Light and Life of Christ, became my great burden and exercise to be delivered from, that I might be truly renewed in the spirit of my mind, and therein joined to the Lord. Being persuaded to wait in the Light, in the way of his judgments, and to bear and submit to his fatherly chastisements and reproofs of instruction-believing, that Zion must be redeemed through judgment, and her converts with righteousness. Vain thoughts, imaginations, and wanderings of the mind, became a suffering and burden to me, and I earnestly sought the Lord for power to suppress them, and that He would give me victory over them all, and stay my mind upon Himself, that I might enjoy inward peace with Him.
I had a spiritual warfare to go through, and a body of sin to put off and be destroyed, though not grown to that maturity, as many of riper years, who are guilty of many gross evils, by their longer continuance and custom in sinning; nevertheless I knew a real necessity of the work of sanctification, inward cleansing from sin, and being born again. That is the new birth that is born from above, which only is entitled to the kingdom of Christ and of God, which no unclean person can inherit.
In waiting upon God, and sincerely seeking after him with my mind inwardly retired, and my soul desiring and breathing after his name and power, he was graciously pleased to often renew his merciful visitations to my poor soul. In the midst of judgment and chastisements, he showed mercy, that he might be feared. The sense of this often broke and tendered my heart, and caused me to be more mindful of the work of the Lord our God, and my more awareness his divine hand's operation, whose dealing with me was in judgment and mercy. By judgment His eternal word caused my fear and trembling in his presence; by showing mercy to me, I felt brokenness and true tenderness of heart. In the vivid remembrance, I find still great cause to ascribe the praise and glory to his excellent name, power and divine goodness, manifest through his dear Son, even the Son of his love, our blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Many of the Presbyterian priests in Westmoreland, and other northern parts of England, appeared very envious against us, in the years 1652, 1653, and 1654. In their lectures and sermons they reviled and reproached the Quakers and their ministers, terming them deceivers and antichrists, who had come in the last times; gathering what evil and false reports they could to incense their believing followers against us. They were like invidious [prejudiced] sowers, setting both neighbors and families at variance and discord.
Some of their congregation were even of my own relatives. They and others, when they had come from their public worship, where they had heard this preaching against Quakers, came full of their teachings, to talk against them, often only nonsense. Sometimes I replied to them with a Christian answer; which when rejected, I have many times found it my place to be silent, and let them clamor and scoff on. The leaders of the people, even those priests, caused them to err, and with their sour leaven, soured the spirits of many into enmity, by which they hurt many.
My parents were hurt by them and influenced against me until the Lord turned their hearts and opened their understandings, to see better than they would by following their blind guides, whose work was to make divisions. Yet in their own way, my parents and relations had great natural affection and care for me. For when they appeared most opposed and offended, which was a trial to me, because I left their church and ministers, and was joined with the people called Quakers, their trouble and grief came more from their priest's influencing them against us and fear of my misfortune, or losing preferment in the world, than either from any prejudice against me or my religious profession.
They retained a real affectionate natural love to me, while I was absent from them in the ministry and service of the Truth. This was for about three years, and in that time I had suffered several hard imprisonments, and others for the same, in Norfolk and Suffolk. When I returned to visit them, they were very reconciled and loving to me, and their understandings and hearts had opened toward me and my friends, who came to visit me, when I resided in their house.
My mother, some years before her decease, was really convinced of the Truth, and became a Friend in her heart; and my father seeing the corruption, pride and avarice of the priests, retained a love toward Friends until the end of his days. Likewise my sister Aone, before the death of her mother, became friend to Truth and Friends, and continued so, an honest, loving, and serviceable woman until death.
It is observable, when the priests or parish ministers, could not prevail to stop the progress and spreading of the blessed Truth and power of Christ, nor prevent the increase of our friends in it by all their lectures and reviling sermons and preaching against us, their work was to incense the magistrates, justices, and the government, against the people called Quakers. This discord resulted in several justices and officers being instigated to persecution and imprisonment of many of our Friends in Kendal and Appleby jails of Westmoreland for bearing testimony against them. I was moved in the dread and fear the Lord, to bear public testimony against their wickedness in several of their places worship in Westmoreland, [between 16 and 18] before I traveled into the south parts of England, yet the Lord was pleased to preserve me then, from any harm or imprisonment, having a further work for me in other parts of the Nation.
For some time between the years of 1652 and 1654, I was conversant among our friends and frequented the meeting to which I belonged in Westmoreland and Yorkshire. I was very inwardly exercised in waiting upon the Lord among them, where we had little preaching. Our meetings were often principally in silence, or with few words declared. The Lord was sometimes pleased by his power and word of life, to tender and open my heart and understanding, giving me and some others a few words from the life to utter. [At 16 he was doing limited preaching in meetings, but it was two years later when he was sent out by Christ as His traveling evangelist]. These words from the Lord, which I was told to announce in the meeting, were to their and my own comfort, in Him who opened our hearts in great love one to another, which then increased and grew among US; blessed be the Lord our God forever. It was out of these, and such frequently silent meetings, the Lord was pleased to raise up, and bring forth living witnesses, faithful ministers, and true prophets, in early days in Westmoreland, and other northern parts, in the years 1654 and 1656.
The Lord our God having in these latter days and times been pleased to visit this island with his gospel day and power, according to the promise unto the Gentiles, and the isles that should wait for his law; and that his elect, his Christ, in whom his soul delights, should bring forth judgment to the Gentiles; Isaiah 42:1. By waiting in true silence upon him, and eyeing his inward appearance in spirit, and the work of his power in us, we truly came to see and feel our strength renewed, in living faith, true love and holy zeal for his name and power; so that the Lord gradually brought us to experience what is said of old, by his holy prophet; “Keep silence before me, O islands; and let the people renew their strength: let them come near; then let them speak: let us come near together to judgment."
Thus keeping silence before the Lord, and drawing near to him in a true silent frame of spirit, to first hear what the Lord speaks to us before we speak to others, whether it is judgment or mercy, is the way for renewing our strength, and to be his ministers, to speak to others only what he first speaks to us. O! That the people were truly mindful of this; that they would seriously consider this; then would they not run after, or follow such as their ministers, priests, or prophets, who ran out to preach when God had never sent them; and who say, Thus said the Lord,” when God has not spoken to them; and, "who shall not profit the people at all."
Before I was considered a Quaker or had joined in communion with them, I had some understanding given me concerning those parish ministers, or priests. I understood they had not been sent of God or Christ, with no divine commission or call to the ministry, but were made and set up solely by the will of man, [without Christ's direction or even approval]. They were not experienced in Christ, but artificial preachers of what they had studied or had gathered from others. They preached what they had composed beforehand, without either waiting for, or receiving immediate openings or instructions from the spirit of Christ. They were without real belief in Christ, or of any necessity of the immediate help of the spirit and power of Christ Jesus, for his ministry, or thereby to preach Him in these days. But to the contrary, they have denied the same, and opposed our Christian testimony of the same, which none of Christ's sheep or flock will do, for they both hear and know Christ's voice, and follow him; he being their leader and commander, and a stranger they will not follow.
Their own pride and covetousness set many well inclined people against them, and caused some to turn away from them. Even more people turned against them, when many showed their envy and covetousness by persecuting, imprisoning, and greatly oppressing the people called Quakers for conscientiously refusing to pay tithes, either small or great, or to gratify the priest's greed. For the value of a tithe pig or goose, etc., they have prosecuted several honest men to imprisonment in jails; as if they valued their neighbor’s pig or goose which they coveted, more than the liberty or life of their neighbor. Oh! How inhuman and unmerciful they were! But when the priests became rigid persecutors and oppressors of us, it turned greatly to their own disadvantage, disgrace and shame, and set tender people against them; and the numbers of Quakers increased even more. Though we were weak, we came to be the more confirmed against those persecuting ministers, or parish priests, knowing that the true Christian religion is not a cruel or persecuting religion, but tender, loving, and compassionate, and not without natural affections; for it cannot be a good religion that is void of humanity, one towards another. We know also, that true Christians were persecuted, but were never persecutors; that they were patient sufferers, not oppressors; they prayed for their enemies and persecutors, and did not seek revenge against them.
I was convinced and persuaded early on that tithes ought not to be required or paid under the gospel dispensation. Those called Quakers, who are true to their Christian principle, cannot for conscience sake pay tithes in this gospel day because:
To return to my own inward state, and experience in my spiritual travel and progress- when the Lord was graciously pleased to lead me through the law, judgment and condemnation against sin in the flesh, which Christ came to condemn, in order to bring me to the more glorious ministration and law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus, the foundation of the prophets, and spiritually to experience the mystery of John's ministry of repentance, the washing of regeneration, the axe being laid to the root of the trees, as well as the cutting off the superfluous branches, that a thorough work of regeneration might be wrought; these things were spiritually, and by degrees experienced inwardly, through the obedience of faith, waiting and persevering in the grace, light and truth received from Christ, in order to obtain victory over sin and Satan, that his work of sin, and the body thereof, might be destroyed root and branch. And whatever divine openings, prophecies, sights, or discoveries, the Lord was pleased at any time to give me by his Holy Spirit, for my encouragement, the increase of faith and hope, I saw I must still be mindful of his inward work of grace, sanctification and holiness, that it might go on and prosper. Although many weaknesses and temptations attended, his grace was sufficient for me, and he often gave me strength and victory over the enemy of my soul, and frustrated his evil designs. When the enemy would have come in like a flood, with manifold temptations and devices, the spirit of the Lord lifted up a standard against him, and repelled him: "Glory to our God, and to the Lamb, in whom is our salvation and strength forever and ever, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion without end."
As our blessed Lord Jesus Christ declared, "If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine." It was in the day of his power as the light did appear, that a willingness was wrought in my heart to do his will, as the same came to be made known to me, and to follow him in self-denial, and taking up the daily cross, which every man must do that will be his disciple; by whose light and teaching I came from the life to believe, understand, and receive those doctrines and principles essential to a Christian life and salvation, especially and particularly these following, namely:
I always had a love to the Bible, and to reading therein, from my childhood, yet did not truly understand, nor experience these doctrines essential to salvation, nor the new covenant dispensation, until my mind was turned to the light of Christ, the living eternal Word, the entrance whereof gives light and understanding to the simple. Yet I do consider it was some advantage to me frequently to read the holy Scriptures when I was ignorant, and did not understand the great and excellent things therein testified of. For when the Lord had from the life in some measure opened my understanding in the holy Scriptures, by my often reading the same before, having the better remembrance, it was often a help and advantage to my secret meditations, when a lively sense and comfort of the Scriptures was in measure given me by the Spirit, and thereby I was the more induced to the serious reading and consideration of what I read in the holy Scriptures, and the comfort made known by the holy Spirit enlightening the understanding. All the promises of God, which are yes and amen in Christ Jesus, are truly comfortable when applied by the same Spirit, for that spirit will make no wrong application; that Spirit will never apply peace to the wicked, nor to persons living in their sins; nor tell the unjust that they are just, or righteous in God's sight. It is through faith which is in Christ, that the holy Scriptures are said to make the man of God, “Wise unto salvation, and profitable to aim, for doctrine, reproof, admonition, and instruction in righteousness, that he may be complete and equipped for all good works." Doubtless, Paul deemed Timothy’s knowing the holy Scriptures from a child, to be some advantage and help to him, but it was principally through faith, which is in Christ Jesus.
These things considered, I would still urge Christian parents to be responsible in educating their children, causing them to read the holy Scriptures; both inducing them to learn and frequently to read the Bible. When they come to have their understandings enlightened by the Spirit and know the Truth as it is in Christ Jesus, it can be a real advantage and profitable to them. I have seen that children reading the Bible have been affected with the good things they have read; and from a secret belief of them, which has had such impression, that they have been induced to a more serious consideration, when the Lord has opened their understandings in some measure, by the light of his grace in them.
Even to the evangelical prophets of God it was without doubt an advantage that they knew the Law of Moses and understood God's declared judgments and threats within it. When the Spirit revealed to these prophets that Israel was in danger of any of those judgments, they had an advantage both to warn them and to declare such judgments for their great transgressions; and their advantage over the people was even greater because they had the Law of Moses read among them, who professed the same. So Christ's ministers, who know the holy Scriptures, have the greater advantage over the hypocritical professors of the Bible, which is their only rule and who exhibit uncontrolled, corrupt, and disorderly conversations.
By what I have here declared in commendation of holy Scripture, and the advantage thereof, I would not be understood to limit the gift of the Spirit of God, or ministry thereof, or any of his divine graces, from the illiterate, the unlearned, or from persons of little education, — - as ploughmen, herdsmen, shepherds, fishermen, etc. For God has given of his good Spirit, and spiritual gifts to such, and has promised "to pour out of his Spirit upon all flesh; and that sons and daughters should prophesy." And Moses said, “Would God that all the Lord's people were prophets, and that he would put his Spirit upon them;" among whom, he meant both men and women, learned and unlearned are included.
My entrance into, and beginning in the spirit, and believing in the light of our Lord Jesus Christ, was really in order to come into the new covenant and dispensation; Christ being given both for a light and a covenant, and to be God's salvation unto the ends of the earth. This new covenant is the covenant of grace, of mercy and peace with God, in his dear Son Jesus Christ. It is that reconciliation, that near agreement with God and Christ, which man must come into, if he is ever to enjoy true peace. All the Lord's people and true Christians know him in this covenant, from the least to the greatest; and are all taught of God, having also his laws written in their heart and put into their minds by his holy Spirit. His divine finger is in this covenant so that the Lord blots out their former forsaken transgressions and remembers their sins and iniquities no more, providing they continue in this everlasting covenant and in his goodness. To those who truly fear him, he is a God that keeps that covenant and mercy forever, Oh! My cry, my soul's breathing, my inward spiritual travail, my watchings and praying have been, "O Lord, preserve and keep me in your holy fear, in humility, in the sense of your power; that I may never depart from you, nor from your covenant; that I may never dishonor your Truth, our holy profession." Prior to this the Lord had helped me on my spiritual journey and race towards the prize: I ascribe the glory and praise only to Him, who gives power to the faint; and to them of no might, he increases strength, as often in my weak estate, He has manifested strength. Salvation and strength come from Him who is the God of our salvation, that his redeemed ones may sing of salvation; yes, of his judgments and mercies, and ascribe salvation to our God, and the Lamb that sits with him upon the throne, in glory and majesty forever.
As it was my early belief and persuasion, when convinced of the blessed Truth, that who are truly called into Christ's ministry, to be ministers of the everlasting gospel, and preachers of righteousness, must be sanctified, divinely inspired, and gifted for that sacred work and service of our blessed Lord Jesus Christ. They must be careful that their conversations remain a credit to the gospel; they must live good lives, as well as speak good words; they must be men fearing God, and eschewing evil; truly fearing God, and hating covetousness, and giving no offence in anything, so that the ministry is not censured. The Lord had laid upon me a godly care, which still remains upon me, both for myself and others,that our ministry is not blamed; nor any offence created, which results in blame or discredit on it. What good is it to name oneself a Christian, when they are dead? What will it avail them; or loose, vain, proud, covetous, or unsanctified persons, to pretend to be in holy orders, when they themselves are altogether unholy, polluted, and sinful? In my very young years I was fully persuaded that Jesus Christ would neither employ wicked or corrupt persons in sacred service of the ministry, nor afford such his presence in their preaching, whatever they pretend or profess in his name. Christ's faithful ministers are those who truly obey him and follow his example, so that he will accompany them with his divine presence and help them in their ministry and gospel testimony. It was to such he gave this great encouragement and promise: "Lo, I am with you always, even unto end of the world" or throughout all ages.
What that kingly prophet David earnestly prayed to God for, in Psalm fifty-one, truly sets forth the state and condition of true gospel ministers, whose ministry is attended with His power and presence, and thereby made effective for the conversion of sinners unto him. "Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence; and take not your holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of your salvation; and uphold me with your free Spirit. Then will I teach transgressors your ways; and sinners shall be converted to you."
These things I have sincerely aimed at and earnestly desired of the Lord, traveling inwardly in spirit with my soul and whole heart. And the Lord in measure answered me in them, before I traveled abroad in the ministry of the gospel of Christ, even the gospel of the grace of God; which gradually, he gave and increased from small beginnings in me and unto me; blessed be his most excellent name forever. For he promised to his people, saying: "I will give you pastors according to my own heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding." Those he truly gives are the only true pastors and ministers, and he has given many such and will continue to give in this gospel-day, according as was testified by a preacher, [the apostle Paul] both of Christ as he had come in the flesh, and of the mystery of Christ as he had come in spirit. "Even the mystery which has been hidden from ages and generations, but now is made manifest to his saints, to whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory, whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every; in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus; to which I also labor, striving according to his working, which works in me mightily."
According to a real belief and persuasion that God would reveal this mystery of Christ in us, I was made tenderly concerned to wait for the same, that I might experience, witness and feel the power and coming of Christ inwardly in spirit, both to sanctify my heart, and give me understanding to do his will. And when he called me to bear testimony for his name and power, and also for his inward and spiritual work in man, I was engaged in spirit to wait for his power and spirit to move and work in me; and that I might labor in his service according to his working in me by his Spirit, and not otherwise to run or to strive in my own will, wisdom or strength, as knowing that without Christ, his power and presence, help and counsel, I could of myself do nothing, nor anyone else. And when my ability was only little, and I was in much weakness, fear and trembling many times, the Lord helped me and increased my strength and ability in my labors beyond expectation. This care still rests upon me, even in my early travels, to minister only according to the ability and gift given to me of my heavenly Father; so to keep within compass of my own gift and ability. When the Spirit of the Lord opened and moved only in a few words, I must not speak more that ordered; but speak only what instructed and then sit down in silence. Many times in waiting upon the Lord, and secretly breathing to him in silence, the spring of life would arise, and open counsel afresh to my own and other souls' refreshment and consolation. My soul has often been brought low, and the Lord has helped me and renewed my strength to persevere in his service; being sensible the lower I was in myself, and the more in fear toward God, though but weak and simple of myself, the more he would manifest his power, and bless my endeavors and service. Let him have the praise of all, who is forever worthy.
Evangelist Missions Begin
After many blessed and comfortable seasons and refreshments from the presence of our heavenly Father, which we enjoyed in our meetings in the northern parts; and having cleared my conscience in testimony for the Truth, both in word and Christian conversation toward my parents and relations, being before some time with them, I traveled abroad into the south parts of England. A weighty concern came upon me to leave my father's house and county of Westmoreland, and to travel abroad southward. I acquainted some Friends with my plans, and my dear friend Edward Edwards, who then was a young man, and lived at Gervase Benson's, near Coatley Cragg, above Sedbergh, though he was not then called into the ministry, gave up to travel with me, and to keep me company to York, above sixty miles, it being after harvest, in the year 1654. Both of us were given up to travel on foot, and went together directly to York, where we stayed two or three nights, and were at a Friends' meeting there on first day, which was but small, and I had a few words given me from the Life to declare among them.
Then we traveled southward in Yorkshire, and met with our beloved friend and brother in Christ, George Fox, at one captain Bradrord's, where we were at a meeting with him in the evening; and afterward we traveled into East Holderness, to Joseph Storr's, where again we met with George Fox, and several other Friends, and were comforted together, and traveled a little while in that country to some meetings where he was, who then had public service wholly upon him there, for the strengthening and settling Friends in the Light and in the Truth.
I had some testimony laid upon me to bear at two steeple houses, before I left that county, and did not meet with any injury except being forced out; while the Lord supported me in faith and hope for the service he had for me further south. My honest, dear friend, Edward Edwards and I parted in Holderness; and Thomas Ralison, who traveled with George Fox, came with me to Hull, where we went that night over the river Humber in their boat, being about four miles over, into Lincolnshire. There was a rude, abusive, drunken company in the boat, who threatened and otherwise abused us, but the Lord preserved us from being harmed by them.
We being on foot, George Fox and Alexander Parker overtook us on our way toward Lincoln. We got to a place at night where there was a meeting the next day, being first-day. A burden came then upon me to go and bear testimony for the Truth at two steeple houses, one in the morning, and the other in the afternoon. I experienced no harm or violence at either steeple-house, except being pulled and pushed out. But Thomas Ralison was there that afternoon and was abused, beaten, and then followed into the field by a pack of young fellows. I was sorry that he was so evilly treated.
The next day he and I parted, and I took leave of George Fox and Friends with him. I traveled on toward Lincoln, stopping for a meeting by the way, where the Lord opened my mouth in a living testimony. Afterwards, traveling a few more miles, I arrived at Lincoln that night and met with John Whitehead. He had been exercised in public service in that city, meeting some acceptance; and gave some account. I only stayed one night in Lincoln, being pressed in spirit to travel forward toward Cambridge and Norwich, though left to travel alone and still on foot. I went to Cambridge from Lincoln in less than three days; the days were then short. Although my feet were pretty much galled and blistered even before I had left Yorkshire, they mended while I traveled, before I got to Norwich, and I was preserved in health all along; which I thankfully esteemed as a great mercy from God, being then not eighteen years of age.
At Cambridge I was received kindly by alderman Blakeling and his wife, and by the few Friends there. James Parnell met me before I went there, and we were comforted in one another as well as among the other Friends. After two or three days stay there, I was still pressed in spirit to go on to Norwich from Cambridge. Thomas Lightfoot traveled with me toward Norwich. Before the wet and showery weather stopped us, we got within about three miles of Thetford in Norfolk. It was very difficult to get lodging for our money at a little village where we stayed, they were so shy or timorous of us; yet at a house where they sold beer, we prevailed with them to let us stay that night. The room in which we lodged was cold and poor, and the window was so shattered that the snow came in upon us. The next day we traveled to Windham, which is about six miles from Norwich, where Robert Constable and his wife kindly received us. They had been convinced a little time before by our dear friend Richard Hubberthorn, who was then a prisoner in Norwich castle for bearing public testimony to Truth at the steeple house at Windham, where those called Independents met with John Money as their preacher.
From Windham we went to Norwich next day, and I visited Richard Hubberthorn in prison, where we gladly embraced each other in dear and tender love, and were comforted together in the Lord. There were a few Friends in the city that had been convinced by his testimony and suffering; when they had visited him in prison, they were convinced of the Truth and became Friends. The most noted, serviceable Friend then in that city, was Thomas Symonds, a master weaver, who received traveling Friends. He was a loving, honest man, who had received a gift in the ministry and was faithful until he died. He lived and died in the faith, and was a partaker of the promises, which are yes and amen in Christ Jesus. He was exemplary in the Truth, and serviceable both in the city of Norwich and county of Norfolk, where he lived.
Though I expected to suffer imprisonment in that city, yet as the Lord so ordered, I had liberty for several weeks to have several meetings at Thomas Symonds' house in Norwich, and in Windham at Robert Harvey's, a glover, who was an honest, innocent man, that received the Truth in the love for it. Captain John Lawrence came to a meeting at his house, who was then tenderly affected with Truth and requested that I have a meeting at his house at Wramplingham, which I was very willing and glad to do.
Three ministers came to that meeting, Jonathan Clapham, the minister of the town, and two others to oppose me; they stayed in the parlor until the meeting was settled. At first they peeped out to see me, judging me only a boy; and because of my youth, I was somewhat contemptible in their eyes to discuss with; and I understood they slighted me the more because of it. However, Jonathan Clapham started to oppose and interrogate me about our not respecting persons by bowing, etc.; he being as one ambitious, and more regarding worldly honor, and respecting persons, than seeking the honor which is from above. He pleaded as best he could for it, and the Lord gave me suitable and scriptural answers, which in the spirit of meekness I returned upon him and his party, laying open some of their unscriptural and unwarrantable practices. Feeling the Lord's power and counsel with me, I had dominion given me to vindicate the Truth, confounding the opposers. After a short time, Jonathan Clapham and another minister, named Purt, withdrew; but the third stayed until the meeting was over. After the contest with the other two priests had ended, I had a very good and blessed opportunity to declare the Truth, and open several matters of weight, as the Lord was pleased to open them to me, and enlarge my spirit to demonstrate them, so much so that at the same meeting most of John Lawrence's family, with several others, were convinced and persuaded of the way of Truth. The Lord gave me great comfort and encouragement, by his divine assistance in his work and service that day; and the Friends who were present were greatly satisfied. The ministers' contempt of me, his poor servant and weak instrument, turned to the contempt and disgrace of themselves. So that I had then, and have often had cause to ascribe the glory and praise to the Lord our God, and to declare that, "Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings have you ordained strength, because of your enemies, that you might still the enemy and the avenger;” though at these things the prominent ministers are very unhappy.
John Lawrence received the Truth, which I and others of the Lord's messengers in great love and tenderness had given up to freely in obedience. When he knew a beginning in the Spirit, he did not turn back, but persevered, and bore a faithful testimony in suffering for the truth, both in his person and goods. By he and his family turning to truth and Friends, it drew many others after them away from the mercenary priests, to Christ, his light and free ministry; that they might know him to be their minister, their High Priest, their Shepherd, and the Bishop of their souls.
Near that time, in the ninth and tenth months of 1654, I had several meetings in and near Windham and in Norwich. The Lord was with me and helped me to publish his name and truth; to preach the everlasting gospel; and to turn many from darkness to the light, and from the power of sin and Satan, to God and his power. By this turning people ceased in their religion of empty forms and shadows and came to the life and substance of true religion; and to the power of godliness, to know Christ to be their teacher and leader, whose voice his sheep hear and will not follow the voice of a stranger. Many in those parts were convinced of the truth of these things and turned to the light of Christ in them. Let the work of the Lord praise him, which began in those days and has prospered since in that country, both in the offspring of many who then first received the love of the truth, and in many others, whom the Lord has blessed in their obedience and willingness to serve him; they having come to the dawning of the day of Christ's power, in which his people are a willing people.
The first opposition with which I met was at a meeting in the city of Norwich at Thomas Symonds' house by an Antinomian preacher, who pleaded for sin to continue, even in the best of saints, through life. He cited from Paul's warfare, etc., Rom 7, and that though they still continue sinners, they are not under the law, but under grace, and reckoned righteous in Christ. We met with a lot of doctrine that excused sin from the professors [believers] in those days, whom in the name of the Lord we withstood, as I did with the Antinomian; and by the Lord's help, stood over him and his perverse arguments, to his confusion. I saw those - Antinomians were very dark and corrupt in doctrine, contrary to Christ's work, which is to destroy sin, and to save his people from sin and transgression.
At that meeting there were some persons deemed Ranters,* who pleaded for liberty to sin. One of the chief of them seemed to acknowledge what I said against the Antinomian; I then received a sense that he had a corrupt spirit, and told him, I also denied his spirit, as I did the opposers’ spirits, for I felt a zeal from the Lord against them both. The Lord's power was over all, in whose service he encouraged me from one meeting to another, so much that I was sure the Lord stood by me and strengthened my spirit in his work and service. The more I traveled and labored for Him, the more my strength in him increased; for which my soul did often praise His glorious name, and sing praises to him even in solitary places. A little time after I had another meeting at Thomas Symonds' house in Norwich, on a first-day of the week, and a company of ranters came; including the same person who seemed to take my part against the Antinomian opposer. The power and dread of the Lord God fell so heavily upon me to bear testimony against sin and wickedness, its root and branch — against the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, the pride of life, and the love of the world- that the powerful word of the Lord pierced through the meeting and so wonderfully struck down the spirits of those Ranters, and other loose spirits, that they came to me that evening like men greatly wounded and brought down from their high floating notions of Ranters. They questioned their salvation, which before they thought themselves secure in, as if their mountain could never be removed; yet now they were under doubts and fears, and such questions as: “Men and brethren, what shall we do to be saved?”
In compassion to their poor souls, I earnestly exhorted them to bear the judgment of the Lord and his indignation because they had greatly sinned against him; so that they might find mercy from him through true humiliation and repentance; with more such like necessary counsel and warning, as the Lord by his light then showed me was most suitable to their conditions. I had never been acquainted with that sort of people before those in Norwich. Most of them were convinced of the truth, and several of them became reformed in their lives and conversations; though some turned back into their corrupt carnal liberty, through carelessness, and want of watchfulness, not keeping in the fear of God.
We have seen in our day, that where the deadly wound in the beast, or beastly nature, has been healed, in those who have not gone forward through mortification, nor patiently waited to see judgment brought forth into victory, they have miscarried, and turned from the grace of God into immorality, or to embrace the world, and thereby to sell the truth, and themselves too, even their poor souls, for their own iniquities. "Behold, for your iniquities have you sold yourselves."
Some time after the before mentioned meeting at John Lawrence's, I went to visit him and his family and relations that were with them. His wife, and her sister-in-law, Elizabeth Bedwell, and others of the family having been convinced, were truly loving to Friends, as were their children. They were glad of the good service I had at that meeting, where the three priests were so greatly disappointed of their designed conquest and so much confounded. Elizabeth Bedwell told me, that the wife of the priest of the town and she were having a discussion before the meeting, and expected some dispute between the priests and the Quaker. The priest's wife had asked her, saying "Mrs. Bedwell, which side will you be for?" Elizabeth pleasantly answered her, "I'll be for the strongest side." After the meeting was over, the priest's wife told Elizabeth, "Now Mrs. Bedwell, I know you'll be of the Quaker's side, or for the Quakers, for you said you would be for the strongest side."
John Lawrence would often tell of that meeting with great pleasure, remembering the service to the truth and the disappointment of the three priests, and how poorly they often appeared. Elizabeth Bedwell, who would be for the strongest side, continued a faithful, innocent, loving Friend in the truth, and an example of humility until death; and her husband was a loving man and friend to truth and Friends, especially in his latter years. It is worthy to be remembered, that both John Lawrence's own mother, and his wife's mother, who were very ancient women, came to be convinced and received the truth at the same time, continuing to be Friends in their old age to the last.
Also Joseph Lawrence, who was brother to John Lawrence, and his wife, received the truth and Friends in true love, and became very serviceable. Before he died Joseph suffered considerably for the truth by imprisonments. His wife did not live for many years after she received the truth, but in her day she was a very virtuous, sober, ingenuous, and loving Friend; and by her sober life and good example, left a sweet savor behind her.
Our ancient and faithful friend, William Barber, of Gissing, in the county of Norfolk, and his wife, had earlier received the truth and Friends in great love and tenderness in 1654. I first met him at Diss, in Norfolk, and declared the truth to him and some others present, opening something of the mystery of Christ and of the ministry and work of His spirit within; and also speaking of the enemy's contrary work in man, as the Lord was pleased to open and enable me. William was very tenderly affected and broken into tears, and his spirit humbled, though he had been a great man and captain in the army; truth was near him. I felt him near it, and my heart was open and tender toward him in the love of Christ. It was some time after that I saw his wife. She was an honest, sober woman, receiving the truth and Friends in great love and tenderness; and continued a faithful, innocent and loving Friend until her dying day. I observed that the Lord had endued her with much patience, considering the great and long suffering her husband endured by imprisonment in Norwich Castle, for the space of twenty years, or more, chiefly for non-payment of tithes to an old priest of the parish, who appeared implacably malicious in his prosecution, or rather persecution and revenge. William Barber bore a faithful testimony through patience and long suffering. I know of none who suffered like him in those parts, though many Friends thereabouts have suffered deeply on the same account, and the Lord supported them it their sufferings.
After I had labored and traveled some weeks in that county, in the work of the Lord and his gospel, in the winter of 1654, a weighty concern came upon me to travel into the county of Suffolk, and first into some part of High Suffolk. As we went, Robert Constable, the Friend who went with me, organized an evening meeting at a town called Budsdale, where the people were pretty civil and quiet. The next day we went to Mendlesham in Suffolk, to Robert Duncan's, of whom I had a good account before, and of his desire to have some Friends to visit them in those parts; for a meeting of an honest minded people had been some time kept at his house, dissenting from the parish priests and their worship; and yet they had several preachers, or such as esteemed themselves spiritually gifted, in some degree to preach and pray among them.
When I came to Robert's house, he kindly received me. The next day was the first-day of the week, and I went to their meeting at his house. We sat in silence for some time, waiting upon the Lord in his holy fear to see and feel what He would be pleased by his power to open unto me to declare to the people, who were waiting to hear what would be spoken to them. Some of their teachers seemed a little uneasy with our being silent so long. Robert Duncan then spoke a few words to this purpose: that perhaps they had been too much in words, or depending on men's teaching; and therefore God now might see fit to bring them into silence, so that they might come to depend more on him for teaching.
Some of their preachers were for urging one or other of them to pray. I let them alone and patiently bore them in their speaking without prompting by the Spirit, their voluntary devotion. After a little pause, the Lord opened and made way for me to preach the truth to them; to turn their minds to the true light. I preached so that they might know the immortal seed and birth, which is from above, unto which God's everlasting love is; as opposed to that seed and birth which he hates, subdues, crucifies and slays. I truly desired they might all come to the inward work of his Spirit, and to the knowledge of Christ in spirit; and that they might know God's teaching by his Spirit.
I was really among them in great humility, meekness, and poverty of spirit; in which the Lord was with me, and by his invisible power helped me, for his own name's sake — yes, and for his seed's sake, which I felt among that people. The Lord had a tender seed and people among them, towards whom my soul was truly affected, in the love and bowels of Christ Jesus my Lord and leader, who went before me in his gospel work and service; to him be the glory forever.
The meeting was kept and ended in much sobriety and seriousness, and no opposition was made to what the Lord gave me to declare among them. For the most part they were well inclined and convinced of the truth, which they confirmed by testifying. The meeting continued being held in that place. The people were so well satisfied with the truth and dispensation of the spirit, as professed and owned among the people called Quakers, that the friends were content to wait upon the Lord together in silence, to know and receive life, power and teaching also from him. The Lord prospered them for many years. At first, as their meetings were reduced to know a state of silence, some of their former preachers left it for a time; yet afterward returned, especially the one that was most noted, namely Edward Blumsted, senior. He, his wife, and family all came to be loving Friends in our Society; and he became a preacher of the truth among Friends for some years before he died.
On my first visit to Robert Duncan's, his wife was convinced and received the truth in much love and tenderness, which she also showed to me. She was a weakly woman in body and had been for some time confined to her bedroom. By the Lord's power she was restored to her health and strength, so that she could walk many miles on foot, and continued an innocent, loving and faithful Friend until death. Robert himself was greatly instrumental in the hand of the Lord in his day, in the support and encouragement of that meeting at his house, as well as by his great love to friends in frequently allowing them to also stay at his home. He was an overseer that was truly given to hospitality, and the Lord blessed him both inwardly and outwardly.
After that meeting I was again concerned in spirit to return to the direction of Norwich, where we had had an effective service in and for the blessed truth, among the convinced Friends convinced and other well inclined people. I also visited my beloved friend and brother, Richard Hubberthorn, as often as I could. He was still detained a prisoner in Norwich Castle, where he only had a poor hole to lodge in on the end of a cross wall. It was a little old stone arched hole or room; and it broke, falling down not many years after. It was the Lord's mercy that if did not fall while Richard Hubberthorn was in it.
My dear friend, Thomas Symonds, was the brother-in-law of Robert Duncan. Thomas had a great love for Robert and desire for his good. He had been at the meeting at his brother-in-law's house, and we returned to Norwich together.
A few days later, it being near the end of the tenth month, 1654, there was a lecture at place called Peter's church in Norwich. I believed the Lord required me to go there to bear such testimony as he would be pleased to give me. I was endued with a holy zeal against iniquity and the pride and covetousness that even of the high priests showed in those days; as well, I had compassion for the ignorance and blindness of the people being misled by the priests.
When the priest, named Boatman, had ended his sermon, I was allowed to say only a few words against iniquity, etc., when some of the priest's audience, came violently upon me to hale me out, some pulling by one arm, and some by the other, contrariwise; some striving to hale me out at the north door, and some out at the south porch. By their violence I was injured with inward pain in one side of my breast from being overstrained by their pulling and haling me contrariwise; but in a few days it pleased the Lord to heal the hurt and pain I received from their cruel treatment. From the steeple-house I was taken to Guild-hall; before Thomas Toft, the mayor, who after examination about water baptism, and some other things, committed me to the city jail.
The mayor seemed to seek some case against me because he had none. He questioned me about water baptism, asking me: "if the baptism of John was from heaven, or of men?" To which I answered him: "if they, who now pleaded for water baptism could prove, or make it appear that they had commission from heaven to baptize, as John had, I would acknowledge it." But I supposed he did not intend to do so; but he was for sprinkling infants. However, though he could get no advantage against me, he would send me to prison.
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