The Missing Cross to Purity


The Christian Progress

of George Whitehead

Part XI Continued

Site Editor's Comments: George Whitehead, more than any other Quaker, had interfaced with three previous kings of England, as related in previous sections of this writing. He had many meetings with King Charles II, countless meetings with King James II, and several with King William III. There is no record of his royal meetings in the twelve-year rule of Queen Anne. Whitehead was imminently successful in his meetings with previous kings; speaking with great knowledge of law and the record of persecutions of Quakers, while maintaining respect, humility, kindness, love, and tolerance. He never warned or accused any king of being irresponsible or even tardy in fulfilling past promises, but was a true Christian statesman. His pleas and meetings with the kings of the past were remarkably and consistently successful, to the favor of the Quakers and dissidents in general. Upon the accession to the throne by King George, a German from Hanover, the Quakers were most interested in assuring him of their goodwill and love towards him; and of course preventing his misunderstanding of their intent, which might lead to the return of persecutions. So it was natural for their senior statesman, George Whitehead, now an ancient 78 years of age, to perform the welcome address. As usual his words were filled with kindness, humility, love, and respect; but as always, purposed to promoting toleration of the Quaker faith.

Through patience a ruler can be persuaded, and a gentle tongue can break a bone.
Pro 25:15

Speeches and Addresses to King George by George Whitehead

On the 3rd day of the eighth month , 1714, the people called Quakers presented A congratulatory address to king George, upon his accession to the crown, which being read to and graciously accepted by the king, George Whitehead made a speech to this effect:

You are welcome to us, King George. We heartily wish you health and happiness, and to your son the Prince also. King William the third was a happy instrument in putting stop to persecution, by promoting tolerance, which being intended for uniting the king’s Protestant subjects, in interest and affection, has so far that effect, as to make them more kind to one another, even among the differing persuasions, than they were when persecution was afoot. We desire the king may have further knowledge of us and our innocence; and that to live a peaceable and quiet life, in all godliness and honesty is according to our principle and practice.

George Whitehead having thus spoken, his name was asked; to which he answered, "George Whitehead." And having it upon his mind to see the prince also, and intimating his  desire to a lord who was gentleman to the Prince's bed-chamber, he proceeded to the Prince's quarters. Thus George Whitehead, with some of his friends, were granted access, and were introduced by one of the Prince's gentlemen into a waiting chamber where the Prince met them; and then George Whitehead spoke to him, the substance of which speech was as follows:

We take it as a favor that we are thus admitted to see the Prince of Wales, and are truly very glad to see you. Having delivered our address to the King, your royal father, and desiring to give yourself a visit, in true love we very heartily wish health and happiness to you both; and that if it should please God you should survive your father and come to the throne, that you may enjoy tranquility and peace.

I am persuaded, that if the King, your father, and yourself, do stand for toleration, for liberty of conscience to be kept inviolable, God will stand by you.

May King Solomon's choice of wisdom be your choice, with holy Job’s integrity and compassion to the oppressed; and the state of the righteous ruler commended by King David, that is: 'He that rules over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God; and he shall be as the light of the morning, when the sun rises, even a morning without clouds, as the tender grass springing out of the earth, by clear shining after rain.'"

This speech was favorably heard by the prince.

In the year 1715, after the breaking out of that unnatural rebellion, which was suppressed by the King's forces at Preston; George Whitehead, accompanied by his friend John Butcher, having obtained an admission to the King's presence, presented to him a paper, a copy of which, found among the author's manuscripts, since his decease, we here insert:

A few words in true love to King George, humbly presented.

Seeing our most gracious God has been pleased, by his overruling power and providence, to give you a free and peaceable accession to the throne of these kingdoms. Oh let your trust and confidence be in the same divine Power, and your eye to that light and grace thereby given you, and the Lord will, no doubt, confound your foes, and disperse and expel that dark cloud and spirit of rebellion that is risen up against you and your lawful government, constituted for the defense and support of our just liberties and properties, religious and civil, against popery and slavery.

Your Christian principle for liberty to tender consciences being maintained and stood by, against persecution, the pillar of popery, the Lord will stand by and defend you and you royal offspring; for surely mercy and truth preserves the King, and his throne is upheld by mercy. Remember what the Spirit of the Lord spoke by King David in his last words: "He that rules over men, must be just, ruling in the fear of God, and he shall be as the light of the morning, even a morning without clouds."

The Lord, the God of hosts be your defense, your guide and counselor, and replenish your heart with his wisdom, by which kings reign and princes decree justice; for in that wisdom, true dominion stands.

That you, O King, may be a blessing in the hand of the Lord, to these nations, and enjoy a safe, a peaceable and prosperous reign in this life, and a crown of righteousness in that to come, is the hearty prayer of an ancient servant of Jesus Christ, and a truly loving and faithful subject.

George Whitehead

In the month called May, 1716, the people called Quakers, at their yearly meeting in London, drew up an address, and presented it to the king, testifying their loyalty, and expressing their sense of the signal providence of God in confounding the late black conspiracy; at the presenting of which address, George Whitehead made a previous speech to the king, signifying:

"That in their annual assembly, held for the religious concerns of their Society, endeavoring to promote and put in practice the duties of religion professed by them, the sense of the great deliverance had such a weight upon their minds, that they were willing to express it in an address to King George, whom God by his providence had brought here, and preserved, so that he could well say, he was George, by the grace of God, King of Great Britain, et. al. And that as men carried that saying stamped on the money in their pockets, so it was to be wished it might be imprinted in the hearts of the subjects."

Although now above eighty years of age, and feeble in body, he nevertheless continued to bear his testimony in the public assemblies, to the virtue and excellence of that divine grace, which had supported him from his youth upward, imparting in most sensible expressions, such choice fruits of his own experiences, that an attentive hearer could not depart without edification. And even in meetings about church affairs, where sometimes a diversity of sentiments might arise, he would express his thoughts with a convincing force and solid reasoning, which was no less admirable than the unspotted integrity of his gray hairs was honorable.

He wrote in the latter part of his time, several small treatises, particularly one in the eighty-sixth year of his age, entitled, An Epistle to our Christian Friends, called Quakers, &c., which being already in print, we refer thereto.

Sustained by the consciousness of a well led life, he passed the last infirmities of age with Christian patience and resignation, and, on the 8th day of the month called March, 1722-3, died the best of deaths; for as Cicero, in the person of Cato the elder, excellently expresses it:

“The best end of a man's life is, when the understanding and other senses remaining entire, nature takes in pieces her own work, which she herself did put together....  Whatever is according to nature, is to be accounted good; and, what is more natural than for old men to die; a thing, which happens also to young men, notwithstanding nature's opposition and reluctance. Young men therefore, seem to me to die, like as a fierce flame is quenched by abundance of water; but old men, as when a fire being spent, goes out of its own accord, without compulsion: and as apples, while green, are plucked from the trees by force, but, when ripe, fall of themselves; so violence bereaves young men of life, maturity the aged: which indeed to me is so delightful, that as I approach nearer to death, I think I see the land, and after a tedious voyage I am at last making to my port."

Site Editor's Comment: Before the concluding testimonies, the greatest testimony is first.

From the Word of the Lord within, regarding his son and servant, George Whitehead:

'And many were convinced by this extraordinary and powerful partisan.'

[It is interesting to note the Lord's use of the descriptive word partisan -
the definition of which is a fervent and even militant proponent of a cause.
As George Whitehead surely was, a fervent, magnificent soldier of Truth for 71 years,
under the command of his eternal King and Master, the Lord Jesus Christ.]

We shall conclude with the character given him after his decease, in two testimonies, the one written by Richard Claridge, his intimate friend and acquaintance, who survived him but a few weeks; the other by the friends of the monthly meeting at Devonshire house, London, in whose neighborhood he had been an inhabitant many years.

Richard Claridge’s Testimony concerning George Whitehead

"George Whitehead was one whom the Lord had highly dignified in his day, calling him about the sixteenth year of his age, to the acknowledgment of the blessed truth, and about the eighteenth, to bear a public testimony to it, in which testimony the Lord preserved him faithful until the end of his day, which was on the 8th of the first month, (Julian calendar) called March, 1722, being about eighty-seven years of age.

The Lord had bestowed on him such a measure of his divine gifts of faith, wisdom, judgment, understanding, self denial, patience, love, meekness, utterance, and other graces of the spirit, that he was an instrument in his hand to open the blind eyes, and turn men from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God.

And as it pleased the Lord to make him an able minister of the New Testament, so his speech and his preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that our faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God; 1 Cor 2: 4-5; so that when he spoke, he spoke as the oracles of God; and when he ministered, he did it as of the ability which God gives; 1 Pet 4:11.

He was not as many who peddle the word of God for profit, but as of sincerity. As of God in the sight of God, he spoke in Christ; 2 Cor 2:17.

His ministry was a sound and living ministry, and many yet living have a testimony of it in their hearts and consciences.

He was an eloquent man, and mighty in the Scriptures, and fervent in the spirit; Acts 18:24-25.

A good man, and full of the Holy Ghost, and of faith, and many people were added unto the Lord; Acts 11:24.

He was an elder, whom the Lord had anointed unto the spiritual and evangelical ministry, raised up among many others, near the first breaking forth of this gospel day, after a long night of apostasy, which had overspread this and other nations with gross darkness, in matters relating to Christianity.

And though bonds and afflictions attended him, yet none of these things moved him, neither did he count his life dear to himself, so that he might finish his course with joy and the ministry he had received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God; Acts 20:23-24.

For having this ministry, as he had received mercy, he fainted not; but renounced the hidden things of dishonesty; not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth, commending himself to every man's conscience in the sight of God; 2 Cor 4:1-2.

Richard Claridge

The Testimony of  Devonshire House monthly meeting.
A short account and testimony concerning our dear and worthy friend,

GEORGE  WHITEHEAD

Our ancient worthy friends, who in the morning of this gospel day, were about the same time sent forth to declare the truth, with this our deceased friend, are now most of them gone to their rest; yet the generality of friends of middle age may have had a long knowledge of him, and of his gravity, wisdom and abilities, beyond many in the church of Christ; but for the sake of the younger friends, that have not had that knowledge, and for the encouragement of those in faithfulness, that are, or may be convinced of the blessed truth, or receive a gift of the ministry, we of the monthly meeting of Devonshire house, of which he was a very eminent member, about the space of fifty years, esteem ourselves engaged to give in this our short account and testimony concerning him. We find he was born at Sun-rigg, in the parish of Orton, in the county of Westmoreland, about the year 1636, of honest parents, who gave him an education in grammar learning.

At or about the fourteenth year of his age, when some friends, by the mighty power of God, were gathered to be a people, the Lord was pleased to visit him, and by the testimony of truth, he was reached unto and convinced of the necessity of an inward and spiritual work to be known and wrought upon the souls of men; and of the emptiness and in a sufficiency of outward show and formality, out of the life and power. In the year 1654, and the eighteenth year of his age, the Lord sent him forth to preach the everlasting gospel in life and power; and having passed through York, Lincoln and Cambridge, he had some service in his journey, and traveling on foot, came a youth into Norfolk and Suffolk, where he visited some few meetings of friends, and steeple-houses, and meetings of sober believers; at one of which, near a whole meeting was convinced, by the mighty power of God, through his lively and piercing testimony and prayer.

He continued some months in Norfolk and about Norwich, where having meetings, he preached the everlasting gospel, and thereby turned many from darkness to light, and from the power of sin and Satan, unto God and his power; that people might not continue in empty forms and shadows, but come to the life and substance of true religion; and to know Christ their true Teacher and Leader. Great was his service, labor and travel in those counties, by which many were reached, convinced, and established in the blessed truth; and some raised up to bear a public testimony to it. But he suffered great opposition, hardships, long and sore imprisonments, and severe whippings, for his testimony to the truth, in those his tender years, although few now remain who were living witnesses thereof; yet by a journal of his own writing, which we desire may be printed, the same will more largely appear; and the perusal of which, we hope, may be edifying and serviceable to the present and succeeding generations. We would not be too particular in relating his suffering, imprisonments, services and travels, throughout most parts of this nation, but proceed to say something of our own experience, and that knowledge we had of him, and of his eminent services and great concern for the peace and prosperity of the church of Christ everywhere, during his long stay with us in this city.

We may say, he was one whom the Lord had fitly qualified and prepared by his divine power and Holy Spirit, for that work to which he was called; and by which he was made one of the most able ministers of the gospel in our day. He was largely experienced of the work of God, and deep mysteries of the heavenly kingdom, and was frequently opened in meetings to declare of, and unfold the same, in the clear demonstration of the Spirit and power, dividing the word aright, opening and convincing the understandings of many, who were unacquainted with the way and work of truth; and comforting, confirming, and establishing the people and children of the Lord, in their journey towards Zion.

He was not only a zealous contender for, and asserter of the true faith and doctrine of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, in a sound and intelligible testimony, but also was valiant and skillful in the defense of it, against adversaries and opposers of the same; and one, who through a long course of many days, was careful to adorn the doctrine of our holy profession by a circumspect life and godly conversation, in which the fruits of the spirit: love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance, did eminently shine forth through him, to the praise and glory of God.

Being thus qualified, and of a meek and peaceable disposition, he was had in good esteem among most sorts of people that were acquainted with him; which tended much to the opening his way in his public service for truth and frequent solicitations unto several kings and Parliaments, bishops and great men, of our land, for the relief and release of his suffering friends and brethren, under sore persecutions and hard imprisonments, and for liberty of conscience, and also for relief in the case of oaths. In these labors of love and eminent services among other brethren, this our dear friend was principally exercised, and the Lord was with him, and made way for him in the hearts of the rulers of the land; so that his faithful labor was often crowned with success, to the comforting and rejoicing of the hearts of many suffering brethren.

He was a good example to the flock, in his diligent frequenting of first and week-day meetings for public worship, and other meetings for the service of truth, so long as his ability of body remained; willing to take all opportunities for publishing and promoting the truth; zealous to support good order and discipline in the church of Christ. And as he was not suddenly for taking hold of any, as he was as exemplary in not being forward to cast any out in whom there appeared anything that was good, always desiring to encourage the good in all, condescending to the weak, but admonishing the faulty in the spirit of meekness and wisdom, that they might be preserved in love to truth, and come into the unity of the one Spirit, which is the bond of peace.

We may truly say, he was a tender father in the church, and as such was of great compassion, sympathizing with friends under affliction, whether in body or mind; a diligent visitor of the sick, and laboring to comfort the mourning soul; careful to prevent, and diligent in composing differences.

Dear friends, much more we might say on the behalf of this our dear deceased friend, an elder worthy of double honor; but it is not with us to give large formal praises of the dead; we have rather chosen to give but short hints of some of the Christian virtues and qualifications he was endued with, believing there is a witness in the hearts of many yet remaining, that testifies for him and his faithful labors and service in his day; desiring the Lord may raise up many, in the place of this and other worthy elders, some of whom have lately been removed from us, and we believe, taken into mansions of glory, in the kingdom of God.

It pleased the Lord to visit this our dear friend, with some severe pains and weakness of body, so that he was disabled for some weeks from getting to meetings, but he often expressed his desires for the welfare of the church of Christ, and that friends might live in love and unity.

He continued in a patient, resigned frame of mind to the will of God, waiting for his great change, rather desiring to be dissolved and be with Christ, saying, the sting of death was taken away. He expressed a little before his departure, that he had a renewed sight or remembrance of his labors and travels that he had gone through from his first convincement; he looked upon them with abundance of comfort and satisfaction, and admired how the presence of the Lord had attended and carried him through them all.

He departed this life in great peace and quiet, the 8th day of the first month, 1722-3, about the eighty-seventh year of his age; and we firmly believe he died in the Lord, and is now at rest from his labors, and his works go with him.

He was a minister of the gospel about seventy years, and was buried on the 13th of the first month Friend’s burial grounds, among many of his ancient brethren, next to George Fox; his burial was attended by a very large number or friends and others.

Signed on behalf of the monthly meeting, at the Devonshire house, the 15th day of the third month, 1723, by:

William Mackett,                      William Hodgson,
Theodore Eccleston,                 John Lee,
John Knight,                               Joseph Rossell,
Lascells Metcalf,                        John West,
Arnold Frowd,                           Samuel Mackerness,
William Price,                             Caleb Hughes,
John Belch,                                  Miles Walker,
Benjamin Sanchey,                   Jonathan Stevens,
Robert Plumstead,                    Samuel Bowley,
John Baker,                                 Samuel Scott,
Jonathan Scarth,                       John Hayton,
Thomas Edes,                             George Fossick,
John Lunn,                                  Joseph  North,
Thomas Broadbank,                William Dodd,
Peter Exton,                                 Elizabeth Fossick,
Richard Price,                             Richard How,
Richard Lea,                                Herman Hingsberg,
Thomas Crawley,                      Thomas Mayleigh,
James Lambert,                         William Teaguij,
Josiah Knight,                             Benjamin Bealing.

 

 

 

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