The Missing Cross to Purity

The Life of William Dewsbury



1658. William Dewsbury in Scotland – Epistle – Trials from false brethren – John Perrot’s case – William Dewsbury’s labors with these – Restoration of many – Self-renunciation required of Friends – William Dewsbury at a meeting in Warwickshire – Disturbance and violent treatment of Friends – His is imprisoned in York Castle, with five hundred more, where five die – He is released – Writes Epistles of Encouragement to Friends.

By the date of William Dewsbury's next epistle, we trace him to Scotland.

From the few scattered notices which were preserved of his labors in that nation, it appears that they were eminently blessed to the religious establishment of many persons, in whose hearts the work of preparation had been going on for several years. When Friends in the capacity of ministers had their steps first directed among the people of that nation, the word preached was truly glad tidings to their souls. We are informed by John Barclay, in his Memoirs of Friends in Scotland, that "in the south of Scotland, as in the north, there were individuals, whose minds had been for some years weary and heavy laden, under a sense of their manifold short-comings, yet who believed there was to be known, a more purely spiritual way of worship, and of life and conduct, than that which they, or any with whose profession they were acquainted, had arrived at. Deeply burdened with the formality, superstition, and will-worship prevalent around them, and under which the various public preachers too generally detained their hearers, these serious inquirers had separated from the several congregations of the people; and at length some of them began to meet together by themselves, waiting upon God in a holy silence and awful humility of soul, for ability to draw near unto him in true spiritual worship. On these occasions, they were at times made sensible of the quickening virtue, power, and life of the holy Spirit, enabling some of them to speak forth the praises of the Almighty, and from an inward experience of his goodness, to extend instrumentally a hand of help to others."

To a people thus situated, it appeared to be consistent with the mind of the great and good Shepherd to extend his merciful regard; and between the years 1653 and 1658, when William Dewsbury paid them his first visit, the feet of many Gospel messengers were turned in that direction. We are further informed in the Memoirs, that the Gospel messages of these, and other zealous witnesses, [who had already occupied the ground] reached the consciences of many who heard them; yet, with regard to Aberdeen and the district thereabouts, no open espousal of the tenets of the people called Quakers took place, until towards the end of the year 1662; when William Dewsbury was drawn in love to these prepared and panting souls, to proclaim among them the acceptable year of the Lord, even deliverance from the bondage of corruption, by the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus. Thus was the remarkable work of convincement, which had been secretly going on in some of their hearts for several years, through many deep conflicts of spirit, helped forward to such a point, that they were made willing, even in all things, to take up the daily cross, though in various respects as bitter as death, and to follow the guidance of Christ by his spirit within them, wherever he should be pleased to lead.

Thus much is known of William Dewsbury's labors as regards Aberdeen. But the above referred to is dated Leith, at an earlier period, namely, the 24th of the seventh month, 1658, and refers to his first visit to Scotland, respecting which I have not been able to discover particulars from any other source than the epistle itself. On this account, and because of its intrinsic worth, I have concluded to lay it before the reader. It is as follows.

Dear Friends,

In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ walk, so as to reign over all that is contrary to the light; that, in the light and glory of God, you may all shine forth, living witnesses of the name of the everlasting, holy, pure God, who has looked upon you in his tender love, to gather you to stand against all deceit, in his everlasting power. Blessed are you who are faithful in obeying the light of Christ, who follow him in the cross and the straight way of self-denial, You are my brethren and sisters in the Lord Jesus, our Captain. He will crown you with his mighty power to stand over all [temptations] to follow him in faith and patience, until every tongue that lifts up itself against you, shall fall in judgment, together with all who stumble at Christ Jesus, our light and life, who will gather a large people to himself. In that country, many shall come in, who are yet wandering upon the mountains, where they find no rest. Blessed are all you that abide and walk faithfully with the Lord, whom he has called and chosen to be the first fruits. Whatever arises contrary to the light, within or without, watching in the light, you will discern; stay your hearts upon the Lord, holding fast your confidence in him. He will deliver you out of all that is contrary to the light, and cause you to rejoice in the daily cross, crucifying you to the world and the world to you. Over the world He will cause you to rejoice, and you shall stand over it in the power of God, with all its pomp and glory and the evil therein, to his praise and glory. Even so be it with you all, in the mighty power of God, in which my soul salutes you that faithfully and humbly walk before the Lord, in obedience to his counsel.

Dear lambs, called to lie down in the safe fold of rest, in Christ our life, in tender love beseech you, that you are faithful in meeting together in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ; and diligently watch to know your own measure of grace in Christ, to feel him in you to judge your thoughts, and every vain imagination, that you may reign over them, and delight in the refreshing of his presence. And all take heed of many words; at all times let them be few, and from the savory spirit of life, in Christ. In him, the blessing of the Lord rest on you all forevermore; there to farewell with me in the everlasting love of the Father in Christ, Amen.

William Dewsbury

Let copies of this be carefully written and sent to the churches, to be read among them, when they are met together in the fear of God.

Another letter from Leith addressed to Margaret Fell is as follows.

In the everlasting power and life in Christ, the light and righteousness, over all God blessed forever. In his power, which keeps the faithful, dear sister, I have been and am refreshed in my travails, which in measure you know what they are, for the Seed's sake. Dwell in the power, in which the Lord has chosen you to bear his Name in righteousness; even so the Almighty God keep you, your tender children and family a refreshing to the Israel of God. My dear sister, your care I have often felt, bearing the burden for the Seed's sake, and much for the poor oppressed seed in Scotland; the care of which has been much upon me. My tender Father, after six years' travel in England, has freed me to come into Scotland, which was on the 13th day of the sixth month. At Berwick I left my horse, and Samuel Thornton was moved to come with me. I bought shoes at Berwick, and came on foot into Scotland with great joy.

On the first day's journey, I met with hundreds of people. It was harvest time and the people in the fields and highways heard the truth in much tenderness. The 15th, being the first-day of the week, I was at the meeting at Edinburgh. I stayed for three meetings, and God appeared greatly to his own glory. The 19th day, I journeyed towards the west; the 22nd day, being the first-day of the week, I was with Friends at Badcow, through the country to the garrison of Air; the 29th I came to the meeting of Friends at Heads; Friends in measure have come into the simplicity of the Truth. Then journeyed to Hamilton, Glasgow, Stirling, and to the castle of Bandallo. In the fields and highways, many hundreds heard the word of eternal life, many being very tender where I have been led. The 12th of the seventh month, being first-day, I returned to Edinburgh, where I have had many meetings and pretty many came. Here has been as yet no opposition, the Lord has much appeared, many clearly convinced of the Truth; Carttan is resolved to follow the Lord in obedience; he is of the baptized people.

Dear sister, in a short time, the Lord led me on foot, some hundreds of miles with much joy, for the Seed's sake; my bread I am casting on the waters, assured I am, I shall find it in the time appointed.

The everlasting God keep all in his power and wisdom, everyone in their places, to his praise and glory, Amen!

Farewell! your dear brother

William Dewsbury

From the date of another of his epistles, we learn that William Dewsbury was in London in the eleventh month, 1659. This year was one of cruel persecution to the Society of Friends, then, rising into considerable importance, through the diligence of the numerous laborers engaged in testifying the Gospel of the grace of God. The boldness with which they asserted their peculiar belief, together with the power which attended their preaching, tended greatly to add to their numbers, notwithstanding their suffering lot, and the persecutions which awaited them. It is however evident, from some of the epistles of this Friend, both of early and later date, that all who were convinced of the truth, did not abide faithful to their testimony.

Despite the address, which William Dewsbury with so much wisdom made to the Society as early as 1653, on the subject a discipline, no regular system appears to have been organized previous to the year 1688. It was then accomplished under the zealous, enlightened, and judicious exertions of George Fox, who had a special call to proceed with that work. In the meantime, as already related, some attempts were made to meet the exigencies that arose; and it does appear from an answer which William Dewsbury returns to an adversary, who had opposed him in some of his writings, that the address in question had subsequently been followed up, either by the regular appointment of overseers, or by the exercise of that office. It was however too much to expect, without something more than ordinary to account for it, that a society so numerous and so extensive that Friends had now become, should conduct their affairs in all respects harmoniously, or remain wholly free from the incursions of that Spirit, which by means of his agents takes pleasure in sowing discord among brethren.

Accordingly, about this time, one John Perrot became the author of much confusion in this Society; more especially among those, who, having recently joined it, were weak in the faith. Of this number, I find the truly honorable name of Thomas Ellwood; and from whose Journal, such information may be gathered on the subject, as is proper to precede the relation of some facts, which William Dewsbury has left us in one of his epistles relative to the part he took in the affair. John Perrot joined the people called Quakers about the year 1658, and being of a forward, conceited, and what may be truly called a fanatical spirit, he soon took upon himself the ministerial office; and being great in opinion of himself, nothing less would serve him than to attempt the conversion of the Pope. But soon after his arrival at Rome, he was cast into Bedlam, and his companion Luff, (or Love, as George Fox writes his name), into the Inquisition. The reputed madman, though not the best man, had the better chance, as it turned out, for he lived, and succeeded in returning to England, while the other died in prison, not without well-grounded suspicions of having been murdered. On his return to England, Perrot, by magnifying his sufferings and putting on the appearance of great sanctity, so won upon the tender and compassionate feelings of Friends, as to procure for him a place in their affection and esteem which he in no wise deserved. This made way for his propagating his peculiar error, of keeping on the hat during public or private prayer. Improbable as it may appear at this day, many sincere minds were taken with the bait, and very great confusion was the result. Ellwood, with all the ingenuousness of a man of real worth, relates his own case with full confessions of his error, which he publicly condemned.

Site Editor’s Comments: Perrot pleaded that the hat removal was a form of outward observance, and as such should be discontinued. The society believed the hat removal before prayer, was a sign of respect and honor to God – the honor that man had demanded, which the Quakers refused to grant. Sermons in all the other sects were preached with the minister’s hat on his head. So the Quakers reversed the hat honor of man, to become only the hat honor to God. Perrot later wrote two very critical pamphlets against the Quakers, and was caught forging a document as to have originated by Edward Burrough. Later Perrot went to America, became a magistrate, and severely persecuted Quakers for not taking oaths.

The problem of Perrot appears to have started when "he took on the ministerial office himself." One wonders why a spiritually mature member did not simply reprove him for still being in the flesh. If someone claimed authority to preach, it appears there was no formal method to submit them to approval. Once he had been accepted as qualified to preach, he was in a position to lead a group astray, as it happened.

In an epistle addressed by William Dewsbury, "to all the faithful in Christ," bearing the date of 1663, he thus describes the progress of this error, as it took possession of the minds of those who were the leaders in its propagation:

In that which tries and weighs your own spirits, in coolness and singleness of heart, try and taste what spirit they are of who come among you at this day; where many come forth with us as to the owning of Truth in their judgments, who regulate the outward man in some gestures like to the children of Truth. Some of them have felt the stroke of the judgment of the Lord [for sin,] which has caused them to forsake some things which formerly they delighted in; and in some measure of zeal they have borne a testimony to the light, enduring stripes and imprisonments, both in this nation, and some beyond the seas. While they stood in the fear of the Lord, he for his name's sake delivered them from the winter storms they suffered under; yet for want of watchfulness, the mystery of iniquity has wrought and drawn them from the light into the pride of their hearts, to deck themselves with the jewels and gifts, which the Spirit of God gave unto them when they were humbled before him.

But, departing from the redeeming judgment of God, the deadly wound was healed again, and instead of giving glory to God for their deliverance, they in this time of rest, took their flight as on the Sabbath day, upon the mountains of high-imagination, and did sacrifice on the high places. Having gone from the light, they neither regarded the glory of God nor the good of his people.

Such as these became a source of much trouble and concern to their brethren; and after having succeeded in unsettling the minds of many, fell off from the body, drawing away their adherents after them. Further on, in the same epistle, the author writes as follows:

Oh! how did my bowels yearn for the presentation of John Perrot, in doing what could, to draw and separate him from that spirit which gave forth the paper that propagated the keeping on of the hat in prayer, and reflected upon those that called upon the name of the Lord with their heads uncovered. But after much counseling of him in tender love, to stop that paper from going abroad, he would not be separated from that spirit that gave it forth; so I cleared my conscience in the word of the Lord. And now, in my freedom in God, I declare to the children of Zion, what the judgment is that did arise in my heart, to this purpose:

John, if you propagate what you have written in this paper, you will wound more hearts, and cause more trouble of spirit among the tender-hearted people of the Lord, than when the temptation entered James Naylor; who deeply suffered, but the Lord restored him again by true repentance. As to my particular, it is not my nature be found striving with you or any upon the earth; but having declared the truth to you, I will return to my rest in the Lord; and let every birth live out the length of its day, and let time manifest what is born of God. For that spirit that stands up in self-striving, will weary itself, and die, and end in the earth. And this will certainly come to pass upon all those that do not diligently wait in the light, judge the outgoings of their minds, [yielding] in true self-denial to be lad in the footsteps, where the flocks of Christ's companions delight to walk, serving one another in love, and everyone with the spirit of love and meekness, seeking to restore another out of what any have done, through the violence of temptation or weakness.

William Dewsbury

Such was the amiable, and discriminating line of conduct which William Dewsbury pursued, in the wisdom that was given him to rule the church of God, and such the harmless and lowly authority which he exercised. Although, at this period, trials and afflictions sorely proved the Society from within, as did persecutions from without, there was from time to time a degree of faith administered to such steadfast spirits, as were numerous among Friends who were the laborers and sufferers of that day, which made them a match for every occasion where they were called to exercise it. In this faith, which is the saints' victory, the same writer, in his address, proceeds to hand them the word of encouragements.

Dear brethren, though the wrath for what withstands the work of our God is great, which wrath works openly and mysteriously, to lay burdens upon the innocent, and add afflictions to the afflicted;- in the word of the Lord that arises in my heart, I declare, they shall but weary themselves, and all their hopes shall fail them, and their expectations shall come to nothing; who wait for evil, which relates to you who love the Lord better than your lives, and delight in waiting to feel his power at all times, leading and ordering you in the bonds and within the limits of his Spirit.

This subject must not be concluded, without presenting the reader with some further information, relative to the manner in which a very large proportion of those persons became disentangled, who had thus been taken in "the snare of the fowler."—"A meeting was appointed to be held in London, through a divine opening in the motion of life, in that eminent servant and minister of Christ, George Fox; for the restoring and bringing in again those who had gone out from Truth and the holy unity of Friends therein by the means and ministry of John Perrot." This meeting, or rather meetings, lasted whole days, and some who had run out from the Truth and clashed with Friends were reached by the power of the Lord; which came wonderfully over them, and made them condemn themselves, and tear their papers of controversies to pieces. George Fox, who relates the circumstance, had several meetings with them, and "the Lord's everlasting power," as he declares, "was over all, and set judgment on the head of that Spirit in which they had run out. Some acknowledged, that these Friends were more righteous than they; and that if their Friends had not stood, they would have been lost, and had fallen into perdition. And thus, the Lord's power was wonderfully manifested, and came over all." Thomas Ellwood, himself at first deceived by Perrot, writes:

In this manner, in the motion of life, were the healing waters stirred; and many through the virtue and power thereof were restored to soundness; and indeed, not many lost. And though most of these, who thus returned were such as, with myself, had before renounced the error, and forsaken the practice; yet we did sensibly find that forsaking without confessing, in case of public scandal, was not sufficient; but that an open acknowledgment of open offences, as well as forsaking them, was necessary to the obtaining complete remission.

Besides an abatement of numbers in the Society, from such a cause as the one now described, it will not be difficult to believe, that while persecution did to a certain extent prevent its increase, there were those also to whom the way proved too narrow, as it involved greater sacrifices than they could submit to. Without an unreserved dedication of soul, such as these would be not unlike the children of Ephraim, who carrying bows, turned their backs in the day of battle. Although they might be said to have the weapons, the knowledge and the profession; yet wanting that living faith which could alone fortify them with courage and endurance, they were unable to stand the brunt of that fiery trial, which inevitably awaited the faithful servants of Christ. As our Lord said to his immediate followers, "If any man comes to me, and hates not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple." So it was with Friends in that day; there could be no reservations. Those who were not prepared to part with all, even to the renunciation of lawful enjoyments, for the testimony of a pure conscience, in which the faith is preserved, could not abide the fiery trial of that time, but must fall back. William Dewsbury was not numbered among such deficients. He was ready at all times to "endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ." Such indeed was the deep and abiding effect on his mind, of that sweet evidence of the love of God in Christ Jesus to his soul, with which the Lord was pleased to favor him previous to his venturing upon the work of the ministry, and such the evidences testified of the heavenly power that attended him and Friends, that according to a testimony which he bore on his death-bed, he never afterward played the coward, but joyfully entered prisons as palaces, telling his enemies to hold him there as long as they could. In prisons he sang praises to his God, and esteemed the bolts and locks put upon him, as jewels. He said "and in the name of the eternal God, I always had the victory; for they could keep me no longer than the determined time of my God." Accordingly, when at liberty, he was an indefatigable laborer in the cause which he had espoused with so much sincerity and zeal.

On one occasion, about this time, we find from Besse's Collection of the Sufferings of Friends, that he was at a meeting in Warwickshire, at the house of one William Reynolds, which was disturbed by a constable accompanied and assisted by a rude multitude, armed with swords and staves, who pulled the Friends out of the house, and having beat and abused some of them, they fell to breaking the windows of the house in the constable's presence. But these were the everyday occurrences of those lawless and intolerant times.

Towards the close of the year 1660, William Dewsbury is to be traced to Ousebridge prison in the city of York, to which he was committed in company with eleven others, among whom I find the name of William Tuke, for refusing to take the oaths (no doubt) of allegiance and supremacy. It may be here remarked, that the practice of that day, by which the dominant party forced these oaths upon the people, and thus through the frequent changes in the government made them to swear and then break their oaths. This was evidence of why Friends refused to take them, independent of those strong objections which they entertained, on scriptural grounds, to all oaths, as unlawful under the gospel dispensation. For the Truth had made them free from the necessity of oaths; they were an upright people; and as such, for conscience-sake, conducted themselves both privately and to the government, so far as the laws of man did not infringe upon the paramount obligations of religious duty. And their words of promise were more binding to them than the oaths of most other people. From Ousebridge prison he was shortly after removed to York Tower. From there he went to the Castle, where, by the date of one of his epistles, I find him in the 3rd month, 1661. Besse, from whom these particulars have been obtained, informs us, that the whole number of Friends imprisoned at one time in York Castle, and other prisons in the county, in the two months of which he had been writing, was 536, of whom 505 were in the Castle itself; where five died through the unhealthiness of the place.

It is not the Editor's purpose here to enlarge on the subject of these lamentable facts, or he might readily produce a mass of evidence, in illustration of the cruelty and wrong inflicted upon the early Quakers in general during this period. But an original letter of a Friend, addressed to George Fox, having come to his hand, dated from the place of William Dewsbury's frequent allotment, the dungeon of Warwick jail, an extract may serve to show, that other places were not behind York, in the harsh conditions inflicted upon these suffering people:

Dear George Fox,

My love flows forth unto you in the pure, holy, immortal life; and Friends here, their dear love is to you, and our love to all faithful Friends in and about London. There are many of us here imprisoned in Warwick, to the number of one hundred and twenty, as near as we can judge of it, and among us some women Friends. Our persecutors continue still, for there were several more brought to prison this morning We do not have certain knowledge of the number of prisoners in Coventry and in another place in this county, but we heard that there is above a hundred besides ourselves at Warwick. We here are kept confined from visiting one another. There were some of our Friends here, a little time since, put into a close cellar, where they did not have room to lie one by another. One of them almost died for want of room and air and was brought forth very weak; and he is still sick and weak. This cruelty of the persecutors has caused a great cry against them from many in Warwick; since which time, they have removed the prisoners to a more convenient place; but they are there kept close, and there is little coming to them for us many times, but with much difficulty to bring us necessary things. But occasionally it is otherwise.

William Dewsbury

 6th of 12th month, 1660

William Dewsbury was not long detained in confinement after 1660; for in the postscript to an address, altogether worthy of a Christian minister, dated the 20th, which he wrote and found means of presenting to King Charles II, then newly seated on the throne; he informs the King, that before the document could be sent to him by a private and safe hand, he was set at liberty, with some others of his brethren, "by the late proclamation, which we own as an act of justice." These latter are his own words. The act just referred to, appears to have originated in the circumstance of Margaret Fell, the wife of Judge Fell of Swarthmore Hall, appearing twice before the king, with a view to lay before him the grievous sufferings of Friends. This was about the time of the rising of the Fifth Monarchy men, in whose absurd views Friends, to their cost, were unjustly supposed to have participated. Margaret Fell's pleas were aided by an act of justice performed towards the Society by the Fifth Monarch men testifying that Quakers had no part or knowledge in the rebellion before they were sentenced in court. George Fox with several prominent Friends also published a this time a declaration against all sedition, plotters, and fighters, which asserted Friends to be a harmless people, whose principles were against wars and fightings. This timely act of Fox, appears to have had considerable weight with both the King and council in procuring the desired relief.

William Dewsbury's address to the King, together with that to Cromwell is in the Appendix; they are both recommended to the notice of the reader, as specimens of the spiritual authority with which Dewsbury spoke, as well as his marvelous measure of Christ. It has already been intimated, that while he was under confinement at York, William Dewsbury wrote several epistles of encouragement to the dispersed among Friends, exhorting them to steadfastness and faithful adherence to the testimonies which had been given them to bear, despite the trials and sufferings to which they were subjected. Among these, the following will serve as a specimen of his spirit at this juncture.

Dear brethren and sisters in the church of the first-born, of the royal seed of the Most High God, — Grace, mercy, and peace be multiplied in and among you, to whom God revealed what he determined, and is now manifesting, that every one in the light and life of God might stand single, out of and over the snares of those whom God lays aside as the broken reeds of Egypt; that his own name might be trusted in, and his mighty arm alone seen and felt, in leading and preserving his people to his glory, as witnessed this day, blessed be the God of our strength and safety. All dear and chosen vessels of God, whether in bonds or out of bonds, this is to you the word of the everlasting God:—in the everlasting light and life stay your minds, and lift up your heads, and be strong in the name of the Lord. And fear not the wrath of man, for it is limited and shall turn to the praise of God forever; who is making up his jewels this day, and gathering his wheat into his garner, and the sheep of his pasture into the safety of his power, that he may lead them and save them with his outstretched arm, to the confounding of the heathen that know not God.

Dear Friends, gird up the loins of your minds, and in the faith and patience of Jesus stand still in the light, and see the salvation of God this day; who has caused the mountains and hills that withstood his glorious arising, to melt like wax, and to vanish as the untimely fruit. He has divided the waters and turned them on heaps, and has made a way through them for the ransomed ones to walk in his service, to where he has called them. He has made the weak as strong as David, before whom have fallen the uncircumcised, who resisted the God of Israel.

Dear Friends, let the love of God constrain you to trust in him; and feel the birth of the seed of God borne up over all, to eat and feed on the bread of life; that, out of time and place and over all visibles, you may live, and rejoice over all hardships that would appear and over all wrath that arises. All, keep the word of faith in the power of God. The mountains shall fall before you more and more, and you shall tread down the pride of the perverse and forward generation, in the patience and dominion of God forever. Let the strong bear the burden of the weak so that all in the unity of the Spirit, in the power of the love of God, may grow up a holy priesthood, offering up souls and bodies a living sacrifice, in faithful obedience to do the will of God. In his name, it is declared unto you, dear Friends, that it is in vain for man to strive to limit the Holy One of Israel, or his Spirit in his people. For if those who that seek to oppress and destroy you, (who love God more than anything in the world, yes, than life itself), were as the sand that is on the sea-shore, fear not; comfort yourselves in the light of his countenance. For he will arise, and scatter in his wrath all those that resist his Spirit as dust before the wind, and his righteousness will he establish in the earth forever. Oh Zion, your God reigns! You shall see your enemies come bending to the soles of your feet. Your renown shall go forth more and more over the earth, your leaves shall heal the nations that shall walk in your light; and you shall be known in all the earth to be the city of the most high God, yes, the righteous seed, when the faces of your enemies shall be covered with shame,— the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken it. Let this be sent abroad among Friends with understanding in the fear of God.  

William Dewsbury

York Tower, 19th of 12th month, 1660.

Thus was this dedicated servant of Christ, himself at the time a prisoner for his testimony, enabled "in the spirit of power and of love and of a sound mind," to encourage the suffering flock. This was a time, when it may be said with much truth, that Friends were accounted as little better than sheep for the slaughter, and when their enemies seemed ready to swallow them up quickly. We who live in this day of ease, have little conception of the amount and extremity of their sufferings, have need to be cautioned against indifference. We should never forget, it was through the endurance of such wrongs as have now been related, though to a far greater extent, that our present degree of religious freedom has been purchased.

Site Editors Comments: The 19th Century Quakers are thankful to be free from persecution, but they were free only because they were not in the Spirit, sufficient to be directed by Christ in thought, word, and deed; and so were not sent by Christ into the houses of Christendom to warn their occupants of their false salvation? Thinking themselves saved by grace, instead of saved from all their sins with their carnal mind destroyed, they were not persecuted. If they had been in the same Spirit as the Apostles and early Quakers, they would not have had freedom of religion. Then or now, those born of the flesh will always persecute those born of the Spirit; and such persecution would include going to the civil authorities to imprison those who "disturbed their meetings."


1660. Epistles—William Dewsbury little known in his domestic character—He is apprehended at an inn in Warwick, for giving thanks after supper, and imprisoned, but shortly after liberated—Arrives in London, and is imprisoned in Newgate.

IT is thought, that as the four following epistles illustrate in a beautiful manner, the kind of care William Dewsbury exercised over the flock, no apology will be required for introducing them here. They show, how he endeavored to build them up in our most holy faith, the faith of the gospel of Jesus Christ, which is according to godliness; what the groundwork was, which he sought to lay for those works of righteousness which alone are acceptable to the Lord; powerfully turning the minds of his readers, at the same time, to the eternal and unfailing source of all saving help, deliverance and consolation in the hour of inward conflict and temptation. They are laid before the reader, under the conviction, that they will not only be interesting as illustrative documents, but eminently calculated to comfort, help, and edify many within the borders of our own Society. It is also possible, they may prove strengthening to many a wayfaring man, who in all respects may not walk with us; but who nevertheless may be suffering the day of Jacob's trouble.

They may be the means of encouraging him to persevere in that act of wrestling, which in the end shall purchase for him a new name, even that of Israel. The first in order, which bears chiefly on the subject of exercising spiritual gifts in the church, is dated the 10th of the 12th month, 1660.

Dear Friends and Brethren, called and chosen of God, to wait upon him in his light:—every one in particular, feel the power and life of God, exercising you in his service, whatever he calls you unto. When the Lord fills the heart of any one of you with his presence, and his life moves in you, quench not the Spirit, I am commanded to lay it upon you, whosoever you are, from the least to the highest growth. All, dear Friends, wait to be kept in the bond of the Spirit, obedient to its motions:—to cease and stay when it moves not, as well as to begin any exercise when it moves. And, dear and tender little babes, as well as you strong men, retain the pure* in every particular, and let not anything straiten you when God moves. You faithful babe, though you flutter and stammer forth a few words in the dread of the Lord, they are accepted. All who are strong, serve the weak in strengthening them; and wait in wisdom, to give place to the motion of the Spirit in them, that it may have time to bring forth what God has given. Dear brethren, feed the lambs; and loose the tongue of the dumb, that praises may arise in and among you all, to the glory of God; that in him you may be a well-spring of life one to another, in the power of the endless love of God, in which the Lord God keep you all.

William Dewsbury

*The wisdom which is from above is first pure. The meaning of the Dewsbury doubtless is, “preserve a pure conscience by obedience to that in the soul which leads into purity of life, which is not of man, but from above; for disobedience causes straitness (or confinement to the flesh);” this is what the writer cautions the church against.

Dear faithful Friends in God, who in your travels have known the day when nothing has been dear to you, not life itself, that you might enjoy the light of the countenance of God, which he has now manifested in the everlasting covenant of his light in Christ; and which now constrains to stand out, over, and above all flattering tongues, and all threats and wrath of men. This will be more and more manifest, before this day of trial is over; and whatever wrath the Lord allows to arise in the powers of the earth, without He moves, do not any seek to stop it. Let God have the glory; the wrath of man turns to his praise, and the remainder he will restrain, while the royal babes in meekness and patience stand still, and give glory to God in faithful obedience, with life to death, if the Lord call for it. He has blessed the labor of all whom he called into the vineyard, in whom my bowels are enlarged, in the strength of the life I have received of the Father. Oh! feel me, for I am with you, filled with joy in the Lord, that his royal birth is brought forth and the captive set free, the tongue of the dumb loosed and the living power of God raised, to offer up living praises on the holy altar of God, in the assemblies of his saints. Oh! lift up your heads, be glad in the strength of the Lord, in this his day of gathering in the good ripe fruit in the vineyard of the Lord. Now do the vines abound with virtue, laden with clusters of the purest grapes full ripe, which drop abundantly with wine, renewed in the kingdom of the Father. Oh! fill your cups, be not straitened in your spirits to receive of the fullness of God. In whom I am constrained to say unto you in the light,—drink, drink abundantly; let the thirst of the immortal birth reach forth itself earnestly, in the light, to draw more and more of the infinite life, that it may comprehend you in the power of itself. That in its strength your hearts may be set free over all below, and your spirit in the light of life, raised in the heavenly harmony, to praise and glorify the name of the Lord, in eternal unity, to the astonishment of all that know not God, whose hearts shall fail before the life of God. This, with whatever he gives, keeps all that abide in it low in his fear, so that neither heights nor depths, tribulation nor distress, persecution nor famine, nakedness, peril, or sword, life nor death, things present nor things to come, can ever separate the royal birth from its faithful obedience to Christ Jesus, the Light. And, dwell out of time and place, and over all created enjoyments, in the unlimited power, to guide you, whether in bonds or out of bonds, so that your words be few and savory at all times and minister grace to the hearers. And be tenderly affectionate to one another in the pure chaste love of God; all to lie down together in the eternal unity in the most high God, one in the fullness, blessed forever! Farewell.

Your brother,

William Dewsbury

From the Tower in York,
25th of 1st month, 1661

The third epistle is thus prefaced:

Let this go abroad among all the afflicted and wounded in spirit. With care send this to them.

Dear child, who cries, over all the world, and beyond all the pleasure, pomp, and vanity therein, for the enjoyment of the light and countenance of God;—fear not, neither be discouraged, because of the violent assaults of the enemy, who seeks to draw you into the carnal reasonings of your spirit, and in it to kindle a fire to yourself, and causes you to walk in the light of the sparks that you have kindled;—and this you have at the hand of the Lord, in going from his counsel, you lie down in sorrow. Few know your great distress; but, to the Lord it is known, and to those who have walked in the same paths. Oh, you dear and afflicted soul, who live in the deep sense of the working of the evil one in your mind, and many times are ready to say,— Never was any like unto me, nor any sorrow like unto my sorrow:—and in this languishing, despairing, mourning of your soul, all things are made bitter to you as the waters of Marah. Thus are you driven from all comfort, as a child without a father, a desolate widow without a husband and as a stranger whom no eye pities, in your apprehension; sometimes saying in your heart, in the heat of the temptation, and the fire you have kindled, Oh, that I had been any creature but what I am! or, if it were the will of the Lord, that he might shorten my days, that I might not be any longer on earth to sin against him! For in your own sense and feeling, you, walking in the sparks you have kindled, in carnal reasonings, discerns not anything but wrath, on every side, horror, misery, and distress, and great languishes; secretly crying out in your heart,—Oh, that I were alone in the wilderness, or in a cave, or den of the earth, that I might never see nor hear any of the sons of men any more, but in secret retire, even roar and mourn out my days until I die. Oh, you child of the morning of the pure eternal day of the God of Israel, hearken no longer to the enemy, who said, there has none traveled where you are [traveling,] neither drunk of the cup that you are drinking. He is a liar, who goes about to destroy your precious soul. In the word of the Lord God, I declare unto you, I drank the same cup, with my faithful friends, who are born of the royal seed, every one in their measure have traveled in the same path, and have endured the same temptations, and walked in the light of the same sparks, and lain down in sorrow, in the sense of the same misery as you mourn under this day. No longer lend an ear unto the enemy, and to the thoughts of your heart. Arise, arise, in the light of the covenant, and stay your heart; and the Lord God, he will throw down the enemy of your peace, destroy the carnal reasonings of your mind, and put out the fire that you have kindled. He will deliver you forth of the horrible pit, and set your feet upon the Rock of Ages. You shall tread down the enemy of your soul, in the sensible feeling of the bowels of the love of the Father, who will manifest himself to be a father to the fatherless in you, and a husband to that mournful widow, and a comfort to that immortal babe that mourned in you, in the uprightness of your heart, to do the will of the living God. So, in the power of his might, stay your heart; and tread upon all doubts, fears, despairing thoughts, questionings, reasonings, musings, imaginations, and consultings. Arise over them all in the light of Christ. He will lead you into the banqueting-house of the pleasure of our God, where you shall sit down with me and all the redeemed of my Father, who are born of the immortal seed, and have passed through great tribulations, and have washed our garments and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore do we now stand before the throne of God, praising him day and night in his holy temple. And this shall be the portion of your cup, if you diligently hearken to the counsel of the Lord, which calls you to trust in him. He will embrace you in the arm of his love, and you shall praise his name forever! God Almighty, in his light and life, raise up your soul, and establish your heart in his counsel, steadfastly to wait for his power to lead you, in the cross, out of all unbelief, and cause you to lie down at rest in obedience to his will: where you shall drink the cup of the salvation of God forever.

Farewell! From the Spirit of the Lord,

William Dewsbury

given forth in York Castle,
the 23rd of 3rd month, 1661

It would be gratifying to our natural feelings, to be able to contemplate the character of such a man as William Dewsbury, under other circumstances beside those in which we have thus found him. We have been incidentally informed, that his home was at Wakefield, that he was a married man, and was blessed with a family of children. On each of those occasions, when he is permitted to escape from the hands of his persecutors, and to enjoy his liberty again, the mind is involuntarily carried to the scenes of domestic life, prepared to participate in that enjoyment which all parties must feel on so happy an event. It would be interesting to us further, to contemplate this zealous servant and minister of Christ, like Paul the tent-maker, employed in the pursuit of his trade, and to be able to state his success, and how far the Lord had blessed him in these his outward affairs, agreeable to the gracious promise made to him on his setting out in life. But, though there is no reason to doubt the Lord's faithfulness, such was the devotion of his servant to the cause of Truth, the testimony of Jesus, that little or no mention is made by him of these things; so much so, that we are at a loss to know, how a man so totally deprived as he was of the opportunity of enriching himself by his own exertions in business, was preserved from having his wife and family reduced to poverty and distress. We are not even informed, that on his liberation from confinement at York, he visited his home, however probable it is that such was the case. So fully engrossed were the minds of Friends in that day, in the pursuit of the one great object that was before them, that with them worldly affairs appear to have had but very little place. They felt and saw that the time was short, and that the fashion of this world passes away, so they were without carefulness; they that had wives were as though they had none, they that wept as though they wept not, they that rejoiced as though they rejoiced not, they that bought, as though they possessed not:—they used this world, as not abusing it. One single document, however, has come to hand, since the above lines were penned, which affords in a few words a striking illustration of the above remarks as regards William Dewsbury. Under date of the 10th of 4th month of this year, he makes a request to his correspondent, Margaret Fell, "a mother in Israel," to write to "my tender children and family." He adds, "In the life of my God, I have given them up, with my own life when he will call for it, a free sacrifice: in his will it is offered up, for him to do what is good in his eyes."— Editor.] The following beautiful sentence, which closes one of his epistles about this period, may also be added:—

Watch over one another with a single eye, building up one another in the holy faith, opening your hearts in the free Spirit of God to them that are in need, that you may bear the image of your heavenly Father, who relieves the hungry, and eases the burdened, and makes glad in refreshing his, in the time of need; giving liberally and upbraiding not. Even so be it with you, in the name of the Lord, said your brother and companion in the Lord Jesus Christ. Farewell!

In such instances of devotedness as that of William Dewsbury and many of the early Friends, and others the servants of Christ, we are strongly reminded of the words of our Lord to his disciples, "My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work." And there is no reason to doubt, that a measure of living support is often, in gracious condescension, administered under such circumstances, so as even to render the creature for the time indifferent and inattentive to the body and its various necessities.

 It was about the beginning of the 4th month, 1661, that William Dewsbury was liberated from York Castle, as has been stated, by proclamation of Charles II, as secured by George Whitehead, the increasingly influential Quaker spokesman who pleaded with the kings and parliaments. In the 6th month we meet with him in Bedfordshire, at Buckrin's Park, the residence of James Nagill, who with Justice Crutt had been already convinced of the Truth by his powerful ministry. These were the two mighty men alluded to by Francis Ellington in his letter, who with their families had been thus slain by him. Between this visit and his being in London, where he was confined four months in Newgate, we find him suffering among other Friends at Warwick, for giving thanks after supper at an inn, which was called preaching at a conventicle. This latter act of preaching under certain circumstances, had been recently made illegal by the government. On the present occasion, the Friends were taken before a magistrate at an inn, who tendered them the oaths, and because they for conscience sake refused to swear, they were sent to prison under sentence of premunire; where, shameful to relate, some of them were detained for as long a period as TEN YEARS, and were never brought to any further trial. Such was the exercise of arbitrary power, under which Friends so grievously, yet so patiently suffered. It appears from Besse's relation of the circumstance, to have been about the 8th month of the year, when this occurrence took place; and as, in the same month, Dewsbury dates an epistle from Newgate prison, London, it is evident that he obtained his liberty at Warwick, and proceeded pretty directly on his journey to that city.


1661. Act against conventicles, under which Friends suffered Banishment—Epistles of encouragement— William Dewsbury is imprisoned in York Castle— General Epistle to the Church.

How, and under what particular circumstances, this meek and constant sufferer came to be cast into Newgate, I have not been able to discover. But it was in this year, that the cruel and intolerant act against conventicles, which was framed as an instrument of persecution against Friends, first came into force. By this act it was decreed, that "if any person should refuse to take an oath when by law required, or should maintain the taking of any oath to be unlawful, or if the persons called Quakers should meet for religious exercise after the 24th of March 1661, being thereof convicted, they should forfeit for the first offence, £5, for the second, £10, to be levied by distress; and, for want of possessions to allow of such distress, to be imprisoned, for the first offence three months, for the second six months; and upon conviction for the third offence, he or she should abjure the realm, or otherwise the king and council might cause him or them to be transported to any of the king's plantations beyond the seas." These were the acts, by which the blessed Truth was attempted to be crushed in those days; and under the mayoralty of one Richard Brown, the leading features of whose character were pride, intolerance, and cruelty, in which he appears to have delighted, (for, says Sewel, "he would commit cruelty with a smiling countenance"), the government had a fit executor in London of this their new and barbarous law; some of the consequences of which will be seen hereafter. I apprehend however, that it was under a first offence of meeting for religious worship contrary to this act, that Dewsbury with a multitude of others was cast into Newgate. Among the epistles which he wrote while confined there, for the edification and encouragement of the church and of individuals under various circumstances, is the following:

To my dear suffering brethren and companions, in the tribulations and kingdom of patience in Christ Jesus.

In him watch and pray, and believe in his name that you may keep the word of his patience, and in the will of God, quietly lie down in your present sufferings for the word of God and testimony of Jesus Christ, who numbers the days of your sufferings; and when they are accomplished, will plead the cause of his people in the day in which he will be revealed in flames of fire, rendering vengeance upon all that know him not, and obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Then shall your innocence with all the elect be cleared, in the sight of all people, and you shall shine as the morning stars in the power of God, to enlighten the people of the nations, through the brightness of the glory of God that shall rest upon you, to the gathering of the brethren from far, and the sisters from the ends of the earth; who shall bless the name of the Lord for you that endure in faithfulness unto the end,—the crown of glory shall rest upon you forever. The eternal God in his everlasting power keep you in the deep life of his Son, in unity, to finish your testimony to his glory.


William Dewsbury

Given forth in Newgate Prison, London,
the 13th day of the 12th month, 1661

P. S. Dear lambs, keep in the unity, in the life and power of God; and let your words be few.

We have also from his pen, during this imprisonment, the following animated address to his suffering friends.

Dear Friends,

All in their measure abide in God, that in the unlimited power and life in his kingdom you stand, so as to keep your dominion in his heavenly authority these trying days, where husband is called to forsake wife, and wife husband, parents children and children parents, and other created enjoyments, for the testimony of the name of the Lord. All you families of God, who are or shall be called to bear your testimony, prize the mercy of the Lord, who has made you his chosen jewels and the first fruits among many brethren, to fill up the measure of the sufferings that are yet behind. In the name and power of the Lord Jesus arise, whether husband, wife, parents, or children, in bonds or out of bonds, and take to you the sharp threshing instrument, which is the power of God, that you may thresh inwardly all the mountains of thoughts, fears, or unbelief, representations of hardships, and every desire and imagination that would draw from a peaceable rest in God. In the name of the Lord, I lay it upon you, be valiant for your freedom; and with the powerful instrument of God, thresh and bruise down the mountains as chaff and dust. Thresh upon the head of the great red dragon, the old serpent, the devil, spare him not, and be not afraid of encountering him. For mighty is the Lord, who has called you to conquer him. So keep his head under; with the threshing instrument bruise down and keep under all that would disquiet you, or draw you from your rest. That so, in peace in Christ you may all abide, in a pure resignation to the will of the Father. That, in the habitation of peace in his kingdom, you in his dominion reign over, above, and atop of all below the light. So will your joy flow as a river, and your triumph and dominion be in the authority of God, over all the mountains of this world within and without, to reign in the mountain of the holy life with Christ. In the lowly mind and holy fear, admire and sound out the new song with triumph, over the devil and his angels and the accuser of the brethren; whom you will see cast down; and you shall tread upon him; and bruise him under, and all that would join with him, with the sharp threshing instrument, the mighty power of God, which you have received in Christ the Light.

In all things you do one for another, let love abound in the innocent life, doing as you would be done unto in the sight of God. You who are servants in families, who are in sufferings, lay it upon you, be faithful, that the good savor of God is found among you, to the praise of the Lord. You who are out of bonds, in what you may as the wisdom of God leads, be of assistance in every way, bearing one another's burdens to fulfill the law of Christ, who is taking to him his great power to reign forever. The strength even of the mighty God be with you, and lift up all your heads. Stand in his authority and keep the word of his patience, to finish your testimony to the praise and glory of his name, over all, blessed forever. Of his dominion there is no end; in which you, dear lambs, may feel me and read me in the life that is hidden from the world, but known to you in the secret of God, where our eternal joy and triumph are. Whatever becomes of the outward man, is the will of God, farewell!—yes, farewell, in the name of the Lord!

William Dewsbury

Given forth in Newgate Prison,
the 3rd day of the 1st month, 1661—2

With a few exceptions as regards some insulated facts, all that is known of the last twenty- five years of the life of William Dewsbury might be comprised in a small compass; and this will necessarily be the case with considerable portions of it. He was delivered from Newgate prison in London early in the year 1662, and proceeded homewards, where it is probable that he continued a few months. But we are informed by Besse, that persecution pursued him there also. He says, that on the 29th of the 5th month of that year, he was taken from his own house at Durteen, in the West Riding of Yorkshire, and committed to York Castle, his old residence, as a ringleader and preacher among the Quakers.

[A letter under his hand, dated York Castle, the 3rd of the 8th month, states, that there are upwards of one hundred Friends his fellow-prisoners, that they meet daily for the purpose of waiting upon and worshipping Almighty God, and that his presence covers their assemblies, to their great comfort and the astonishment of their enemies.—Editor.]

Here he was not idle, but still continued to visit the church by his epistles. Among those which he wrote during this confinement at York; the following is one which I should not feel myself excused in withholding from the reader. It is addressed as follows:

The word of the Lord to his beloved city, New Jerusalem, come from God, clothed with the excellence of the glory of his love, and is the Bride, the Lamb's wife; in the flowings of the tender compassionate bowels of the Lord Jesus, to all the mourners in Zion; and the afflicted, desolate people, who wait for his coming, as for the morning, and have no satisfaction in anything but in the enjoyment of his sweet and comfortable presence.

Oh Jerusalem! You beloved among the people, who have become the beautiful Bride, the Lamb's wife:—Oh, how did he seek you in the day of your divorcement, when you were weeping in the barren wilderness, as a desolate widow, who had not any to comfort her; then your greatest mournings and breakings of heart were your greatest comfort! The more your tears were shed for want of him, the greater was your satisfaction. Oh, the weary days you had upon the earth because your languishing soul did not know where to meet with your Beloved, neither did you know how to walk in the steps of the flock of your companions; who were comforted with His presence whom your soul lacked. Then, though you knew it not, he was near to you, enlivening the desires that were towards his name. In the accepted time he sent forth whom he had ordained, to declare unto you the glory of his love, in the light of his own life, in which he has covered you this day as with a wedding garment, and in it you appeared comely in his sight, and acceptable in his presence.

For your sake, Oh Jerusalem, you city of the living God, what has been endured? How many innocent lambs have suffered for bringing glad tidings to you of Him whom your soul thirsted after, is hard to be expressed. How, in God's authority, have the striplings run to and fro on the earth, willing to spend and be spent in all services of love, to persuade you to forsake all that has entangled your mind, and hindered you from enjoying the innocent life of your Beloved. Your mighty men, with many of the sons and daughters of glory, have sealed their living testimony with their blood, in the patience and sufferings of the Lamb of God, that you may be affected with the excellence of the glory of Him whom your soul desires.

Now the Lord God requires of every particular son and daughter of Zion, to watch and pray that none enter into temptation; and all that have any stain upon their garments, to come to the fountain which is opened for Judah and Jerusalem to wash in, which is the heart-breaking love of God manifested in the light of his covenant, and sealed up to the soul in the blood of Jesus.

Oh, come away, come away, out of all your thoughts, desires, doubts, and unbelief, which would turn you aside from the enjoyment of the love of God in Christ Jesus. Let none stand afar off because of your littleness, lameness, blindness, weakness, or infirmities, who cannot live at peace until you are healed by the blood of the Lamb.

Arise, arise, you necessitated people, in the light of the Lord. Give up to the drawing spirit of life in the light of Jesus Christ. He will carry you, who cannot go, in the arms of his compassions; he will cause the lame to walk; and you, who are sensible of your blindness, to recover your sight; yes, he will heal you of all your infirmities, who wait in the light, to be ordered and guided as a little child by the washing and sanctifying Spirit of the Lord Jesus; who has become a husband to the desolate widow, a repairer of the breaches, and a restorer of the desolate places; in whom the fatherless have found mercy this day, for his name's sake.

Oh! What shall I say of the unspeakable love of God in Christ Jesus, the Husband of the Bride. Oh! You sons of the glorious day, read, and feel in the deep tastes of the unsearchable love; and you handmaids of glory, drink of the inexhaustible ocean, which in the light flows over all opposition. This is the Son of the Father's love, who has been "a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief." "He was wounded for our transgressions, and by his stripes are we healed;" and this is the work of the Lord.—Let all crowns be thrown down before him, he alone shall have the glory, for besides him there is no other. Therefore in the measure of him, let every son, daughter, and servant of God, watch and diligently hearken to his counsel; and whatever the natural man most inclines to, when the temptation besets you, judge yourselves, look up to the Lord, and resist the devil with boldness in the first assault, and the Lord God will give you dominion over them, and the bond of iniquity shall not have power over you. In his holy authority, every one stand in dominion upon the head of the first man, with all his excellence and glory; that in the perfect freedom every particular individual may reign, in the measure of the light, over every thought and desire that is contrary to the will of God; that, in his eternal will, you sons and daughters of the Most High, you all dwell in the holy faith, which will evidence to you beyond sight, and will arm against all the fiery darts of the devil. You shall break down Satan under your feet, and shall overcome in the triumphing dominion, through the blood of the Lamb and the word of your testimony; and continually drink of the rivers of pleasure, the presence of the Lord Jesus, our Light, Life, and Righteousness forever. For he is become our Husband, and we are as the wife of his bosom, in the delight of his glorious love.

Let the mourners in Zion rejoice, and the afflicted among the people be glad, and fear the Lord. Let not any who desires salvation in uprightness of heart, say, "The Lord regards me not;" for whatever you hunger and thirst for in his life, you are the heir of it, and the Lord will satisfy your hunger with his refreshings for his name's sake. This is the portion of those who are least in their own eyes among the people; the Lord has spoken it.

All you, inhabitants of the city of the great God, whom the Lord has prospered in your living testimony, in what he has called unto,— Blessed be the Lord God for you who retain the sensibility of your nothingness in self, and so become poor with the poorest, and weak with the weakest, and truly make self of no reputation, but humble it to the cross, and do not serve self but God and his people, with all his gifts and ornaments, with which he has adorned you;—because of the savor of this ointment that you have in Christ, the souls of all the upright in heart do praise the Lord for you. Oh! Your steadfast, valiant, unwearied travails, labors, and sufferings for the Lord, cause the hearts of his people to be enlarged with hallelujahs and high praises in the holy assemblies of his saints. You know that your reward is with you; and woe to them that devise mischief against you, whom the Lord has blessed.

Oh, Zion's children, from the least to the greatest, love the Lord Jesus Christ. Let not a thought of the heart have any power to draw from the light, life, and love of the Lord Jesus. Let the day of the resurrection arise upon you, which will set your souls in perfect love, above all infidelity and unbelief. Oh! Drink, drink, drink to the full satisfaction of your souls, of the cup of his salvation, for it is freely handed to all that love him, that thirst for his mercies, and trample and tread down the self-working spirit; so that all is bound down in silence, and kept in the death, that would move in any exercise to utter words rashly before the Lord. But in the resurrection, light, power, life, and innocent birth, enter the kingdom and reign in the dominion thereof.

Oh! Here, my dear Friends, let us comfort and console our souls together for this is our Beloved; we have waited for him, and now he is come with power and great glory to deliver his captives, and to establish them in his glorious freedom, where the evil one shall not prevail against them; and to marry unto himself the soul that has waited for him as for the morning. All, in the marriage union, feel his power to lead into the daily cross abounding in you, and to stand over all that would draw from the sweet unity, that is in the footsteps of the flock of his companions that walk in the light. Stir up the gift of God in you, in all faithful obedience. As your hearts are filled with the heavenly power of the Lord, and broken in the sense of the overcomings of his life, and moved in the forcible strength thereof, in any exercise in your families, or in the assemblies of his people,—quench not the Spirit of the Lord, but be obedient, and keep within the bounds of a broken heart and a contrite spirit, which sacrifice is acceptable in his presence. All feel the love of God enlarging your hearts one to another, that the strong may bear the burdens of the weak, and in the pure life of love all may grow fruitful plants in the vineyard which God's right hand has planted.

As for our little sister, scattered among the people of the nations, who has no breasts of consolation, her broken cisterns have failed her; what shall we do for her? In this day which is come upon us, she shall be spoken for, though at present she cannot draw near, but mourns at a distance, and cries in secret for want of the enjoyment of the God of our salvation. Oh! Let your bowels open to her, and let your hearts breathe unto the Lord, that he may seal his counsel to her, and cause her to walk with us in the light of the Lord; with us, whom he has raised to be the first fruits among many brethren, to bear his glorious testimony over the heads of the children of men and above all their wrath, who withstand the appearance of God; who will cause them to bow before his glory, in the day in which he will clear the innocence of his beloved people. Neither by sword, nor spear, nor by the arm of flesh, but with the breath of his mouth, shall he strike the hearts of them that know him not, and by the brightness of his coming, who shall spread his fame over all nations, to gather our brethren from afar, and sisters from the ends of the earth. Yes, the mighty shall bow to his scepter, and the nations that are saved shall walk in his light, with us, whom he has made as dear unto himself as the apple of his eye. Though a woman may forget her sucking child, yet the Lord will not forget any that fear him. But he will lead them through all tribulations, with joy in his heavenly power, until we have finished our course with gladness, to the glory of his name forever.

This is the portion of the lot of your inheritance, you beautiful Bride, the Lamb's wife, against whom every tongue that is lifted up shall fall in judgment, neither shall the weapons that are formed against you prosper. For the Lord has made you to be a burdensome stone to the nations, and the praise of the whole earth. The desires of the people shall be to the Most High God, who dwells in the midst of you; who has displayed his banner of love over you, and has turned away the fury of his wrath from you. You, who love the light, and bathe your soul in the ocean of his inexpressible mercies, shall never more lack the fresh springs of life. The Lord will keep you in the safety of his power,— and the gates of hell shall not prevail against any of the sons and daughters who walk in the light of your city, O Jerusalem, in whom there is no more curse; but the throne of God and of the Lamb is in you, and his servants do serve you, and they behold his face, and his name is written in their foreheads. There is no night there, neither need of candle, nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light, and they do reign forever,— as the Lord has spoken through your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom of patience in the Lord Jesus.

William Dewsbury

Given forth in York Castle,
the 19th of 1st month, 1663

<<Continued >>>>

This web site's purpose is to show how to become
free from sin
by benefiting from the changing power of God through the cross,
which leads to union with God in his Kingdom.



Top | About Us | Home | ©2006 Hall Worthington