The Missing Cross to Purity


A JOURNAL OF THE LIFE THAT ANCIENT SERVANT OF CHRIST,

JOHN GRATTON

(Continued)

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At this meeting a woman was convinced, who with her parents lived at Tideswall; they greatly desired that I would have a meeting at their house; accordingly I went, where many people gathered in the garden. This was a town in which I was formerly well known. After the meeting had been some time in silence, I was moved to stand up and speak, which I continued for about four hours; but my very countenance had changed so much, that there arose a reasoning among the people, as to whether I really was John Gratton or not. In the time of my declaring, a woman who was a Baptist, put a question to me, which I answered so much to her satisfaction that she was convinced of the Truth.

This woman's husband was a Muggletonian; and when her husband came to understand she had turned Quaker, he told her he would write to his prophet [Muggleton] to curse me; which he did accordingly. Upon which Muggleton, by letter, sent me his curse, the words of which are not worth mentioning; but in answer I gave him to understand, it was of no matter to me.

At this meeting the people looked earnestly upon me, at which I marveled, but perceived the attention was to a band of lace that I had on my collar. This struck me, and I was sorry; for since my convincement, until now, I had not paid it any attention. Friends in those days showed no appearance of pride in their apparel. Neither was I pleased with myself; for I saw that the Holy Spirit did not allow of any superfluity, either in apparel or anything else; from a sense of which I took it off, and wore it no more. Neither did my dear wife ever offer to put it on again; but when she understood that I was troubled for wearing lace, she took it off all the rest of my bands, although she was not then convinced of the Truth, though some time after she was.

My being convinced* was talked about much abroad, many people disputed and conferred with me, and my relatives were very troubled, and would have had me abstain from the carriage and language that Truth had led me into, saying, “We ought not to offend anyone." I told them, it was the little ones who believe in Christ who ought not to be offended. "But woe to the world!" said Christ our Lord, for the world took offence at him, without just cause; and so they do at his followers, who are given up to do his will, and to follow the leading and guidance of his Holy Spirit. If righteousness offends the wicked, whose fault is it? Abel could not help it when Cain hated him because his works were righteous; and he pleased God, though Cain was offended. Even so, he who is born after the flesh hates and takes offence at them who are born after the spirit to this day, and thinks it strange because they do not run with them in their carnal ways, to the same excess of riot; and so they speak evil of them.

*To be convinced, means to have become certain of the way required for salvation; not to receive salvation itself. Most all of these newly convinced people had previously been devout readers of the Bible, professed that Jesus was the Son of God, had been baptized, attended sect services, etc.; but they were all still captive to sin, and knew there had to be a way to become free of even the desire to sin. When they heard the way proclaimed to become pure, to become free of sin, their hearts bore witness to that truth; so they joined with others seeking to become free of sin, by waiting in silence to hear from the Teacher within, to obey Him, and to receive his changing grace that taught them to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and how to live soberly, righteously, godly life in their world then; to be redeemed from all iniquity, and purified - and to then have a zeal for good works energized and prompted by God. This process, from convincement to purity, required them to continue working out their salvation over time with fear and trembling. Because they trembled in the presence of God's Spirit working on their hearts, showing them their sins, convicting them of the secrets in their hearts, they trembled - or quaked - thus they became known as Quakers.

But when Christ said, "Woe be to the world, because of offences," He said also, "that offences should come; but woe be to that man by whom they come!" Now why do offences come? So those who are tried, living stones, may be made manifest; and that those who will not take up the cross and deny themselves, may also be made manifest. For the "Friendship of this world is enmity against God;" and, "if any man loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him." But the cause lies here,—that unregenerated men are known by their fruits. Woe be to the false prophets, false priests, false professors, and hypocrites; though they walked in long robes and sounded a trumpet when they gave alms and prayed in the corners, of the streets, to be seen of men, and made long prayers for a pretence. For all this they were proud, and loved the chief place in the synagogue; the highest rooms at feasts, and greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, master. They were covetous, and devoured widows' houses; tithing mint, anise and cumin, but omitted mercy, judgment and truth; for they were not what they pretended to be.

The Sodomites offended Lot, and vexed the righteous soul of him that entertained the angels of the Lord; for which they were offended at him; but woe and misery came upon the wicked Sodomites, but Lot was delivered. Jerusalem took offence at Jesus Christ, who came to save his people from their sins, and to finish transgression, and to bring in everlasting righteousness. The Jews hated him without a cause; Him that would have gathered them, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, to save them from the devouring fowls of the air, that would destroy them utterly. Even so Christ spreads the wing of his power over those that are gathered unto him, to save them from the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the hearts of the children of disobedience; that roaring lion, that goes about seeking whom he may devour.

But the church is safe under the shadow of the Lord, saying, "I sat under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet unto my taste ;" for it is all good; but the fruit of the evil one is all bad, bitter as death, wormwood and gall; and so it will be forever.

Woe and misery came upon Jerusalem also, which would not be gathered or saved, but rejected the Holy One, and the Just, and chose a thief and a murderer before him; as those do who chose to serve the devil before Christ Jesus, the Lord of life and glory. I went abroad much, and had meetings in several counties, as Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, Staffordshire, Cheshire and Derbyshire; and many were convinced, and great joy and gladness, love, unity and concord flowed among us.

My wife was not yet convinced. I was in great sorrow for her, and so was she for me, and disputed with me often, until we both wept; but still we loved each other dearly. Before the second meeting at my house, as I was upon the road one evening, in great heaviness for my wife, the word of the Lord came to me, saying, "I will give you your wife;" at which I was glad and comforted. For I believed that it would be fulfilled before long; as it was accordingly—she was soon after convinced, blessed be the Lord.

At the next meeting one William Yardley came; and after the meeting my wife had a long discussion with him, but at last Truth sprung up in her, and in him also, that he went to her and said, "Ann, God's love is to you," which she felt, and was given up to obey it, and was glad. Then our days were made more joyous, and we lived together after this about thirty-five years, and many friends came to see us, of whom we were glad. We had an open house, and open hearts to entertain the Lord's people, and were glad he had in mercy fitted and enabled us to be serviceable to his people; and my trade increased, for we had favor with God and men.

I was very concerned in preaching the gospel of our Lord, and went around the area to meetings. Many people were convinced in several places; as in Darbydale, Matlockside, Ashover parish, Brampton, Harsdale, and in the High Peak. We had many and precious meetings for we had freedom to meet at houses, and meetings were settled. Many of my own kindred were convinced and died in the Truth. I have ground to hope my aged grandfather, who was about ninety years old, was convinced and glad of the Truth in his old age, telling my mother, "This is what I have been seeking for all my days," meaning the Truth. After some time, I went to Derby, and had some meetings there and at Little Chester, and many Baptists were convinced in Cheshire. Afterwards it was required of me to go and visit the churches in Nottinghamshire; so I went to Nottingham, and found William Smith lying sick, a fine living, faithful man, and brave minister of Christ. It was revealed to me that he would be taken away at that time, as I told Thomas Highfield over night. The next day, after the meeting was over, I went to see him, and stayed with him some time. Oh! he was in a sweet frame, full of love; life and peace were plentifully in him. I left him in great unity, tenderness and love, and went to Mansfield; and he died in a few days, and left a good savor behind him. His memory is sweet to me, and those parts had a great loss of him. From there I went to Skegby, Hucknell, and then home.

After this, the Lord was pleased to lay it upon me to go abroad again into Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire, which I was very loath to do; but I dared not but go. I went to the Tupton meeting on the fifth-day, and Boulsover on the sixth, where we had some disturbance, and on the seventh-day to Chesterfield, where we had a glorious meeting, and some convincement. Oh! the Lord's power was over all. From there I would wanted to go home again, but I did not have the permission of the Lord, and I wept sorely. I went into Nottinghamshire, and on first-day had a meeting at Worksop, in a barn, which William Bailey had rented. As his wife was riding near Worksop, she fell off her horse and broke her leg; and her husband came down from London to see her. Finding that she was not fit to be moved, he rented a house for one year, in which Friends then held meetings. I went to see her, and had a meeting there on first-day; and as I was at prayer, the officers, with many others, came railing and raging up into the meeting, making a great noise, as if they would have frightened us, until  they came near me; and just as they came to me, the power of the Lord increased, and my voice rose strongly, and they all stopped, and turned back like men smitten, and went quite away, not having power to do us any harm. We had a precious meeting, and went away comforted.

Next day I was at a good meeting at Blyth, and another in the evening; to which came John Seaton, one of the chief men of that town, who was convinced, and proved a faithful man to the Truth until  his dying day. Many more in that town, and about it, were convinced of the Truth, and stood nobly to it through suffering times, faithful to the end. The next day I went to a meeting at a town called Etalstall, in the forest, where I had a good meeting. Many came to it, and some were convinced, particularly John Kent, who received the Truth.

I went to a meeting at Kersall, and the priest of the town came, and made a great noise at my back for a while to stop me; but I held on, and was sorry he troubled the meeting, for it was in a precious frame. But at last I felt I must stop, and turned to him; but he offering to clear himself from preaching for hire, said he need not to preach except he pleased, for he had an estate to live on, if he did not preach. So I told the people take notice: "This man is his own master, and needs not to preach, unless he wishes; but the apostle Paul, and those that were sent of God, were not so. For Paul said, "Necessity is laid on me, and woe is to me if I do not preach the gospel." By this I showed the priest from his own words, that he was no minister of Christ; Christ was not his Lord and Master, since he could do what he would, either preach or not preach. So he was made manifest, [exposed] and went away in a great rage, and his company went with him. The Lord was mightily with us that day, and we had a good meeting, and were sweetly comforted, and had no harm from man.

Then I went to Akring, and had a meeting, and John Allin came to it, and was convinced and shaken wonderfully; but though he trembled, yet he rejoiced, and cried out, "He has come! He has come! He has come!" After which, he went home, and met with nearby professors, and disputed with them greatly. Then he took his Bible and went around the town, but he ran before he was sent, and came to some loss. So his relatives sent him to me, and when he came to my house and talked with me, he was finely recovered; so that in a few days he went home. But the family and professors about him set on him again; and he was zealous, and discussed them until  he hurt himself again. Then I took my horse, and went and took him away to his uncle's at Blyth, where I left him. He did well, and proved an honest Friend, and after some time went to London, and was arrested at a meeting with his wife. She went with him before the mayor, who, in pity to his wife, would not send him to prison with the other Friends, which he was freely given up to, and grieved that his wife came in the mayor's sight, and was very sincere, I hope, as long as he lived.

The next day I went to a meeting at Ogston, which was very large. I had never seen the like appearance before—the living Truth went through the meeting. Many were reached, and the power of the Lord came over all to the joy and comfort of many.

I was also at a meeting at Long Clauson, in the vale of Beavor, and there was a young man, called William Marriott, who was full of life; and Sarah Brown, Elizabeth Doubleday and Edward Hallam, and Friends were comforted together.

The next day I went to a meeting at Harby; and the day following being first-day, I went to a meeting at Crowston. There a man named lord Ross, so called, came to the steeple-house, and our meeting was near it. The officers and others came to break up the meeting with a great noise, as if they meant to frighten us all. As they came up the entry I turned my face upon them, as I was declaring the Truth; the Lord enabled me to speak boldly, and his power came over them; but before they came to me they were silent, and turned back, like men smitten in their hearts. In a little time they went away and left us, and we had a good meeting, praised be the Lord forever, whose power was over all.

Next day I went to a meeting at Broughton, at John Wilsford's, where a Baptist got privately to hear, who was reached, and confessed to the Truth of what I spoke, as John told me afterwards.

The next day I came to Nottingham, and had a good meeting there on the third-day, and Friends were happy to see me, and we were comforted together. But a Friend came to take me home from there; for my wife was very weak, and more likely to die than live, thinking she would scarcely live to see me. I hastened home on fourth-day, and found my wife very weak, and I was very exhausted; but thanks be to God, he raised her up again. My mother was with her, but my father was not convinced. He had heard that I had been abroad, and how things were at home; so he thought to come and chide me for leaving my wife in her condition. But there was a meeting at my house the next first-day, and my father did not arrive until  that morning, where some Friends had arrived before him. So he decided to stay all night, and deferred his confrontation with me to avoid a scene before the Friends. When the meeting had gathered, after some time I spoke. There were some of the chief of the town, whose tears I saw run down their cheeks; and my dear father was so broken, that he cried aloud, in great joy of heart, while he trembled. At which I was silent a little, and my father came to me, before all the people, weeping, and took me in his arms and kissed me. The next day we walked alone, and had a long discussion, until  he fell to weeping again, and desired me to abstain, and say no more; after which we parted—he loved me much, yet he never came into open obedience to the Truth.

I stayed at home some time. And Oh the peace that flowed in my heart! as Christ promised, not as the world gives, who cry peace, peace, when there is no peace at all experienced. But, praises to the God of my life, his peace has he given to me and many thousands in this day; that peace the world does not know, neither can they take it away from us, glory to the Highest forever. Oh! the love and life that flows here, and springs from the Fountain of living waters, in whom all our fresh springs are. Feel it reader, in yourself. Have you not seen it gush out of your rocky heart; when Christ, the spiritual Moses, has smitten upon it, with the rod of God in his hand?

AN EPISTLE TO FRIENDS

 My dear Friends,

It is in my heart to write a few lines to you before I proceed. Have you not found in your measures, this Christ of God, to be what I say of him? Oh! prize this immortal life that now stirs in you, and praise the Lord for his mercy. Live in this life that frees from death; abide in it, and your joy will be full. The world little knows your joy, little knows your peace; though you sorrow, yet always rejoice; though you war daily, yet live in peace. Live in the peace of God, that surpasses all understanding, which peace keeps your hearts and minds in one, in that light of life, which now shines in your hearts, that you may never fall. Always keep low in your measures, and see that none look out, or mind anything but the Lord, who alone is to be minded in all, by all, and above all, and followed, obeyed and trusted in.

Dear friends, keep in the innocent life, and this will knit you together, and enliven every member, and quicken you all, and make you savory; and seasonable fruit will be reaped, and you will be a good savor to one another; and this will feed you, and your strength will be daily renewed, and the increase of God experienced, and you will daily feel his love, which is better than wine, to make your hearts glad, and to surpass the world's love. This will rejoice your souls in times of adversity; for many waters cannot quench this love. Therefore, dear friends, all keep your minds stayed on the Lord, and take heed that you do not lose the things you have received of him; but all wait, in your measures, upon the Lord only, and expect nothing from man, for he is not to be accounted of; nor think to live on the manna others have gathered, but come you and be diligent also. Take heed the Lord does not call for you, when you are gone abroad with your minds, about your own business. Keep your habitation, and the Lord will keep you, even as the apple of his eye. "Nothing shall harm you, if you are followers of what is good." All live in the true light, and abide in it, by which all dangers whatever will be made naked and bare to you, and all false spirits will be seen and tried in the true light, and the mind of God you will clearly know; and if you all keep here and live in it, you will find safety, and the enemy will not be able to touch you.

Therefore, dearly beloved friends, keep in the light, of which you were convinced, and by which you were converted and turned to the Lord. Keep in that, for that keeps you truly humble, in sincerity and truth; and so all feigned humility and all pretences and outside professors will be made manifest, and your enemies' strength will also be clearly seen, which is mere weakness. Do not be forward in answering questions put forth by the opposers of the Lord's Truth; but stand singly in obedience to the Lord, and be as fools, that the true wisdom may be preferred, and thus shall the Lord's will be done, whether their wills are answered or not. Your peace will be as a river, as you hearken to the Lord, and the Lord's cause will be pleaded with all flesh by himself, and his arising will be the scattering of his enemies. For Babel's destruction will come upon her. By the brightness of his coming and by the breath of his lips Babel will be utterly destroyed; the mouth of the Lord has spoken it. So, my dear friends, all keep in your strength, and feel the arm of his power stretched out to carry you on; that you may daily know victory, and praise the Lord in his own sanctuary, and declare of his wondrous works. For it is with a strong hand that he has brought us out of anguish and bitterness of spirit, which we once were in, by reason of our cruel bondage in sin. Had not the Lord come to visit us, we would have been in slavery even until  now, for no one else was able to deliver us, neither was there any to intercede for us. Therefore, his own arm brought salvation to us. All keep in that grace which saves, that breaks the rocks, and grace has often broken you, even to pieces, and has made your earthly house to tremble, and has filled you with dread. O, remember his mighty works in the deep, and receive the law from his mouth—hear it, and do it—behold, it is near you, in your heart, and in your mouth, that you may not depart from it. Dear friends, watch diligently, for in this furnace you will be tried. But though you are allowed to be tempted, yet the Lord will not permit you to be tempted beyond your measures. Therefore all keep in your measures—there is your safety. "My grace is sufficient," said the Lord; therefore do not fear your adversary, for he cannot hurt you, if you always fear the Lord your God, and live in his counsel, by which your hearts will be kept clean habitations for his holy Spirit to dwell in. For greater is he that is within you, than he that is in the world.

From your dear friend and fellow laborer in the work of the gospel,

John Gratton

 3rd of the Eighth month, 1673

The Baptists were displeased with me when they saw there was no hope of my return to them, and they often disputed with me; for great disputes were at Monyash between them and Friends. But the Lord had opened my understanding, and had also opened the holy Scriptures to me. I wrote a little book concerning baptism, and in it showed that no man had commission from Christ to baptize with water since John's race was run, and his ministry fulfilled, making it appear that the Baptists baptized without any command from Christ.

At this time Truth prospered in the Peak country, in Derbyshire, and the word of God grew, and was multiplied; the word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. "That word," said Peter, "which was published throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached;" which word, Peter preached to the Gentiles, namely: Christ Jesus, the Lord of all, by whom is the only way to come unto God. "For no man can come unto the Father," said Christ, "but by me ;" and there is no other name given under heaven by which any can be saved, but by Jesus Christ; for he is the Fountain of eternal life, which is opened for all to wash in and be cleansed, and for that end he has poured out of his Spirit upon all flesh, that they may have a part in him; and the cleaner we are washed, although it is in great tribulation, the whiter our robes will be. Now I came to know what the city of God is, which I had read about in the Revelation, namely; to be the true church, which has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it; for the glory of God does enlighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof, in which light, the nations of them that are saved must walk. To here the kings of the earth shall bring their glory and honor; the gates of this city shall not be shut at all by day, and there is no night there; here none are to enter who are defiled, neither those who work abomination, or lies; but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life.

After this I went to Oxston again, where the informers were very busy, and the officers came, and as I was speaking in the power of God, one charged me in the king's name to come down and be silent. But I charged him in the name of the King of kings to be silent, and also asked him, if he came in the king's name; he said yes. Then I asked, "Did he send you? Does he know of our meeting?" He answered no. Then said I, "how can you come in the king's name, if he did not send you?" At which point the man turned from me and went away, taking those away who came with him. We had a precious meeting that day. After this, I went to Great Markham, where they stoned us as we rode through the streets, and brought a man to the meeting, furnished with rotten eggs, as I supposed; for he came and stood just before my face, and flung them towards me, but didn't hit me with any of them.

Another time I went to Markham again, and the priest came and brought the town officers, and sent them in to break up the meeting, while he stayed at the door. The officers came in, and Friends made way for them. They sat down and heard very quietly; for I was declaring in the Lord's heavenly power before they came in, and they stayed until the meeting was done, and gave no disturbance; but the priest had stayed at the door without to see the meeting broken up, and when they failed to break up the meeting, the priest raged. He said that he brought them to break up the meeting and they just stayed and listened. So the priest went away angry, and we departed afterwards, sweetly refreshed and comforted.

I traveled around the area and had many meetings in the High Peak, Scarsdale, Staffordshire, Cheshire, Lancashire and Yorkshire; and Truth prospered gloriously. I also had first time meetings in places such as Ashford, Longson, Tideswell, Bradow, Grinlowe, Baslow, Matlock.

There had been a convincement at Bradow, and around in the Peak, including Jonathan Fisher and his wife and others. We appointed meetings there, and so many people came that the house could not contain them. Therefore I went into the street under a great tree at the market place that was walled about, and I got upon the top of the wall and spoke to the people; but a company of rude fellows started to stone us, and the stones flew about my head, and rattled in the trees, yet none hit me. A large stone struck and wounded a woman that happened to be sitting near me, and the people came and carried her into an house; but she recovered after some time. At last a man came, blaming those who threw the stones at us, and went into the crowd; but after he had stood awhile, he stooped to take up a stone to fling at me, as was supposed. One of his neighbors was standing by, who, for some time had been very attentive. When he saw the man, who had blamed others, was about to throw a stone, he struck him on the ear so that the stone fell from his hand and was not thrown at me. The man who struck the other was convinced that day, and became an honest man, and so continued until  his death, as I have heard.

At last Henry Jackson, and Henry Roebuck came to the meeting, and got on the top of the wall also; and as Henry Jackson was declaring, a group of young men came and violently pushed Friends off the wall. Henry Jackson was heavy, and they had difficulty in pushing off the wall, but they succeeded. I went down and spoke to one of them, asking him why he was so uncivil; he answered, if they were to let us alone, all the town would become Quakers.

I went to a part of the wall that was nearest to the greatest part of the crowd, and getting up on it, I kneeled down on the top of the wall before their faces. All fear of stones or men was gone, and I prayed to the Lord by the help of his Holy Spirit with a loud voice; and the Lord's power came over all, and the people fell in their minds, and were still, and became like a different people. Henry Jackson had good service among them afterwards, and our meeting ended in great sweetness. As we rode out of town, some blessed us and seemed very friendly and loving. I was never disturbed after this, though I have since been at many meetings there, at Jonathan Fisher's house, who lived and died an honest Friend, and left a good savor behind him, and his memory is sweet. Many were convinced there, and at Slackhall also.

We went sometimes over the East Moor, and had meetings at Totly and Dore, where some were convinced, and near Beechief, where Justice Pegg lived, but he never concerned himself to disturb us. Most of our meetings were out of doors, but one we had in the hall, and several in a large barn. One first-day we had one near Beechief, which was at the back side of a house in a lane, and many came to it. While I was preaching a high constable named John Stone came there with officers and a company with him on horseback; and the constable charged me in the king's name to keep the king's peace. But the Lord's power and presence was with us, and I held on speaking boldly in the name of the Lord. He sent one of his company and told him go bring me out. The man came and laid his hand on me and trembled, but did not have the power to take me away; he stood by me while I continued my testimony. He then left me and went through the meeting without me. When he came to his master, he asked him, "Why have you not brought him?" What answer he made I did not hear. Then John Stone took out his pen, ink, and a little book, and called to a Friend to assist him; the Friend went to him to see what he wrote, and said Stone's hand trembled so that he could not write. After I had eased my spirit a little, I was silent, and yielded speaking to Henry Jackson, my elder brother, who had good service that day. The officers were very uneasy, and John Stone rode away angry, as though he would go to the justice for more power, and the meeting continued finely. He stayed, I suppose, above an hour; when he came again, he had as little authority over us as before, for the people were so affected and strengthened, that they ventured to talk boldly to him, and told him, it was fitter for him to go and search the ale-houses, and to take notice of drunkards and bad people, than to come there after that manner, to disturb such honest people as we were. He fumed about awhile, and at last put spurs to his horse and rode away, and took all his company with him. So we had a precious time, and he had no power to stir us. Soon after that, the high constable died. There were some who went away soon after the officers came, but they have been poor ever since; but the Lord has blessed the faithful in every way, thanks be given to him forever! He was with us from day to day, and from place to place, and allowed no weapon or wicked instrument to hurt me, wherever I went. Blessed be his holy name forevermore.

Another time I went to a meeting at an old house near Whitwell common, and the officers came there, but I declared the holy truth among them. After a while they went out, as I thought, to consult what to do, and I heard that one said to the other, "He speaks almost nothing but Scripture;" and they were not willing to disturb us, and after a while they went away. The Lord was with us, and gave us a good meeting, praises be given to him forever.

I was invited to a meeting not far from Newcastle-Underline, where I went. When I arrived, the house was too small to contain the many who had come to it. William Yardley was there. So William and I sat down in the house, but the parlor and other rooms were filled with people, and a man from Newcastle came on purpose to be an informer against that meeting. He went into a by-room that had many people in it. The meeting was gathered, and I felt the Lord with us; he enabled me to speak, and my voice was shrill so that all those in the other rooms heard plainly. This informer took offence at some words which I spoke, but he was a dark ignorant fellow, as all informers are, else they would not be informers to hurt the Lord's people for their obedience to him. His offence was so great, that he was restless, and disturbed the people that were in the room with him; yet he stayed while William Yardley continued to declare to the meeting. I sat silently waiting upon the Lord, and it pleased him to show me that there was a man in another room that had taken offence at some words which I had spoken. He showed me the words, and I remembered them, though no creature had told me anything, nor had I seen the man; but I had been so plainly shown it from the Lord, that when William Yardley had finished speaking, I stood up again, and called out to the man, saying: "Whosoever you are that are offended at these words," which I then repeated; and then I spoke fully regarding them, and opened them, making it appear plain and easy to be understood, that the words which I spoke were words of truth and righteousness. The man heard me and was satisfied and got up and went quietly away.

Soon after the meeting ended, the people that were in that room with the man before mentioned, came to me and asked me who told me; I answered them, "No man told me;" at which they wondered how I should know so fully, and tell it so plainly. So God had the glory, and the man did not have power to hurt us; but he went his way, and I saw him no more. Thus were we delivered from the wicked, that they did not gain their prey upon the righteous who trusted in God; and for this end I write these things, that they that fear and love God may put their trust in him, and be obedient to him, and valiant for his name and Truth, and fear not man whose breath is in his nostrils, who is here today and gone tomorrow.

After this I went to a meeting at Blyth again, and we met on the highway side, for the meeting-house doors were locked up, and we were kept out. The officers, who had locked up the meeting house, watched for fear that the informers might come; and when our meeting was done and all silent, and about to part, the officers stepped to us, and went away with us as though they had broken us up; but they took some before a justice, and told him the meeting was silent, so Friends were not fined, nor were the officers subject to God's condemnation. The officers took that way on purpose to save themselves and Friends also.

We had many good meetings at Baslow, until  at last they cast Hugh Masland into prison at Derby, and George Ellis and Hugh Masland's wife died. One meeting day two men came to be informers, and stayed through the meeting quietly, but afterwards went to Justice Ayre of Highlow, to inform, and wanted a warrant to distrain our goods. But he was displeased and sharp upon them, and told them look to themselves; for if he found that they had sworn falsely themselves, and if he ever caught them in a lie, or to that effect, he would have their ears; by which they were so daunted that they went away and troubled us no more.

After this the priest of that town grew angry, and gave a challenge in writing to dispute with me on three points. First: he said there was no revelation in these days. Second: that no man had the Spirit of God in him in these days. Thirdly: that if I had the Spirit of God I might read in a book he had, which was Greek. He set a day and place to meet on; and when the day came, I met him in a closed area of Humphrey Chapman's, in Baslow, a civil man, and many people of several sorts were there. When I had showed the priest's blindness about revelation, he put his book into my hand, and said, "If you have the Spirit of God in you, read in this book;" so I took it and held it until he was finished vainly boasted in his speech to the people, and then he would have taken the book from me. No, I said, you gave it me to read; first see whether I shall read or not. So I took my Bible and read the Scriptures to the people, and showed them how they spoke quite contrary to the priest, and the priest quite contrary to the holy Scriptures, which said the Spirit of God is given to all, but not to all alike; to one was given the gift of tongues, to another the interpretation; some were gifted for miracles, but not all; some do prophesy, and preach the gospel; but the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit with. I read the plain Scripture, but he did not know that it was Scripture, but talked against it, until  one that stood by, told him, "It is Scripture, man," so he was sorely despised; and when he saw that he had plunged himself into a great deal of error, he was silent, and was so exposed that Benjamin Ashton, the justice's son, came to him and took him by the sleeve and led him quite away, and left me with the people. There were many Baptists, to whom I spoke awhile; so all the people stayed except the man who went away with the priest. We had good service for God that day, and many were comforted. Truth prevailed and the people were edified, and the Lord's power was over all. Many talked of this dispute, and the priests of the country were offended with this priest, for challenging me, and envied me the more for it. Because our meeting at Monyash was increasing in numbers of people attending, several priests up and down the country were angry and very envious; and I and others were served with sessions and assize processes. The chief priest of our parish, named Wilson, had to come on a first-day to our town to give or sell to the people bread and wine. Those that would not buy it from him, he used the courts to force payment; whether they will have it or not, pay they must; for he has sent officers and seized my goods by court order for it, though neither I nor my wife ever had heard anything from him.

The meeting was to be at our town that day, and the priest ordered one of the church wardens to go early that morning, and call at Ashford, and take the constable with him to Justice Ashton, a moderate, peaceable man, one who did much good in his place. The constable had some private notice and slipped out of the way, but the officer of Monyash went as the priest had ordered him, and desired the justice to grant him a warrant to break up a meeting that was to be that day. "How!" said the justice, "a meeting that has not occurred? I will grant no warrant for a meeting that is yet to be. How do you know that it will occur? If you had seen the meeting, I would have granted you a warrant; but I will not give you one on such basis;" this he said, or to this effect, as I was informed. So the officer came back without a warrant. Yet priest Wilson came, after he had done his morning's work, and sent for all the officers in the town, and came to our meeting, and brought his clerk to be informer, for they would have broken up our meeting by pulling and hauling us out by force. But when they had pulled us out, and went back in to bring out more, we followed them in again; and as some were forced out, others went in. Thus they wearied themselves awhile, and then the priest was going away; but having entered again after they had hauled me out, my mouth was opened to preach. When the priest heard that I had begun to preach, he turned again and stood quietly; and all was still until I had done. I spoke to the priest before the people, and told him, if he took himself to be our shepherd, and that we had strayed from the flock of Christ, let him demonstrate that we were in an error, and I would take it friendly; but he said he came not to take the sheep, but wolves, and went away. The informer remained, and a Friend went to prayer, and praised the Lord, that his presence was with us. Yet this informer went after this to the monthly meeting of justices, to inform against this meeting. The high constable was then living in our town, who was a loving, friendly, moderate man; he was sitting in the room when the priest's clerk came to inform against Friends, and asked him why he came there. The clerk told him, but when the high constable understood his business, he got up and put him out of the room, and kept him out so that he could not inform that day. It happened soon after, that this informer, who was a trained soldier, was firing his musket; and it burst in pieces, by which he was wounded, and narrowly escaped being killed. He confessed that he thought it fell to his lot to be so hurt for what he had done to the Quakers, and that he was finished informing if at all possible; so he troubled us no more. After this I heard that Wilson, the priest of our parish, went to the justices himself, and wanted some course to be taken with the Quakers to put down their meeting; for he was hot against us, and against me above all; but the justices held him off, telling him that they were not willing to have any hand in ruining their neighbors, and desired him to take some other way than by informers. Before these things happened, I was in great exercise of mind, notwithstanding which I was willingly given up to serve the Lord, whatever I suffered for it. In this exercise I was brought very low, being deeply plunged in my spirit. This lowness of spirit lasted until at a meeting in my house, it pleased the Lord in mercy to mightily break in upon me, greatly tendering my spirit, to the gladdening of my soul. Then my tears became tears of joy, for I rejoiced in the Lord, for his mercy endures forever; thanksgiving be given to him, who failed me not in this needful time, but supported and bore me up in these days of great tribulation. At this time Friends suffered deeply in many places, both by fines and imprisonments; also the priests in their pulpits raged against Truth and us. In these perilous days I went up to London, to the yearly meeting, where I was glad to see such brave meetings. The first-day I was at was in Gracious street, which was so large that the court was almost filled. In this meeting the Lord's power was with me, and I had more mind to hear others than to be heard myself; for there were many brave men there, who have since gone to their rest. But the power of the Lord came upon me, and at length my mouth was opened in the demonstration of the holy Spirit, to my great joy.

In the afternoon I went to the meeting at the Bull and Mouth, which was also very large. Before I got there, a woman Friend was declaring. Her name was Theophila Townsend—she had a living, powerful testimony, yet notwithstanding that, the rude people about the door despised her, and spoke unhandsomely of her. I pressed through them and got into the gallery, and after she had done, I spoke, and first directed my speech to those unruly men, showing whom the Scripture said should not enter into the kingdom of God; but said, "It is likely you think God will be better than his word;" and they were still and silent, for the Lord's power came over all. Then I spoke to the meeting, and Oh! the streams of life that ran through the living that day. The next day I went to another meeting, and to several meetings following in that week, and it was a precious time to Friends.

On the seventh-day I met with three Friends who were going to see Lodowick Muggleton, namely: Robert Barclay, Patrick Livingston, and William Hague; and I went along with them, only I asked they would not announce my name to him, for he had received my critical letter only a little while before. When we came there, his wife civilly conducted us into a room, after which he came down and looked on us, saying, " Is any one of you John Gratton?" But Robert Barclay answered, " Are you a prophet, and need you to ask?" At this Muggleton stopped, saying, "You are Scotchmen, and I will have nothing to do with you; for I was lately cheated by a Scotchman, one John Swinton."

This J. Swinton had been to see this false prophet, and in discoursing with him, he supposing Muggleton to be a poor man, Swinton gave him half a guinea. At which point Muggleton blessed him; but before Swinton went away, he told him he believed that he was a false prophet. Upon which Muggleton cursed him; this why he said that he would not have any dealings with Scotchmen. Robert Barclay then asked him, why he didn't return the man his gold guinea again? To which question, he had no reply. Then I spoke to him, saying, "I am an Englishman, so talk with me;" and I put some questions to him, as to whether all Scotchmen must suffer for one man's offence, if it was so that he had been offended? He said he didn't care. I told him it seemed to be contrary to the nature of Christ Jesus, who came to seek and to save what was lost. Then I asked him how he came to his authority as a prophet; had he seen anything, or heard any voice? He answered no. Then I said, "you have nothing to authorize what you do, except what you had from John Reeve?" He said no, he had not. Then I said, "I perceive that all you have for what you do is only the bare word of a man." He answered, it was. Then I said, "do you not think it would be a risky thing for me to venture my eternal salvation upon the bare word of a man?" To this he answered, "you must, if you are ever to be saved." "That is strange," I said; for I knew he lied, and was a false prophet; praised be the Lord, who gave me to see him fully. Then I asked him if he had power to bless a man after he had cursed him; he answered no. I said, What! have you power to curse a man after you have blessed him, and yet you don't have the power to bless him after you have cursed him, provided the man repents? He answered no. Robert Barclay then replied, that it was strange, if he had power to curse men after he had blessed them, for then, by the same rule, he should have power to bless men after he had cursed them. But still he did not know me. Then Patrick Livingston spoke, saying, "I was with a disciple of yours at Chesterfield, and she told me I would never have any more openings or fresh springs again; but," he said, "I have found her a liar every day." Then he said, "Did she curse you?" "Yes," replied Patrick. " Well," said Muggleton, "in confirmation of her curse, I pronounce you cursed." Then another said something to him, and he cursed him also; and when he had done he was so pleased, that he said it did him more good than if a man had given him forty shillings. Upon which I asked him what he thought of me, and what would become of me ? He answered, if I were careful I might do well; saying several times, "If you are careful, it will be well with you in the end."

Then I desired Friends to bear witness, that this false prophet said he did not have the power to bless a man after he has cursed him; and yet, having cursed me before ever he saw me, he tells me now, if I am careful, I may do well, and it will be well with me in the end. “O," I said, ”what a false prophet are you!” And then I told him my name; but when he heard that, he was sadly confounded, and made no further reply to me. So we left him, and went away.

This I write in the memory I have of it, in a detailed account, so that it may be seen how plainly he was made manifest to be a deceiver, that others may beware of him; desiring that it may please the Lord, to deliver every honest hearted soul from the baits, snares, cunning wiles, and devices of the enemy of all mankind.

Soon after this, as I was riding through Islington, I looked upon the city, remembering thankfully the good time I had had there, and it was manifest to me that I should meet with some trial before I got home, for the gospel's sake; yet, nevertheless, we went forward, and came to Ware. There we called to see Thomas Burr. From there we went to Huntington, where I had some relatives. At this place great spoil* had been made on Friends, it being a time of great persecution; we called to see a Friend at Godmanchester, whose house was sadly plundered for meeting together. We passed on to Ives, where we stayed for their first-day meeting, which was very large, and Friends ordered it to be in an outer house, which belonged to Tobias Hardmeat, though it fell by course to be elsewhere that day. Here the informers missed of us, though they intended to have caught us, but they were misinformed of the meeting, and we were preserved out of their hands. From there  we went to Stamford, in Lincolnshire, to William Collingworth's, where I had previously had a meeting, and to Oakham at Joseph Holt's. From there we passed on until  we came to Long Clawson, in the vale of Beaver; and as we walked down the hill, it came into my mind that at this place I should meet with the exercise which I had a foreseen before, notwithstanding which, I was given up to the service I was called unto.

*Spoil - is to seize property in lieu of a fine not being paid in cash. The term originates from spoils of war; soldiers often enlisting in an army, so that they could seize the property of the conquered population as the army moved through the territory of the enemy. It is also referenced in the King James version of Hebrews 10:34.

We came a Friend's house named Edward Hallam, where we lodged that night, and Friends came to see us, and desired us to stay a meeting with them next day; but I inquired of them, how things were with them, whether they were quiet ? For I was sure we should be disturbed, yet I dared not deny a meeting with them, keeping my concerns to myself. They told me as yet they had met with no trouble, but said the priest had threatened them lately. However we agreed to have a meeting the next day,- and I told them it might so fall out, that they might be fined twenty pounds for me; they answered, "If you will venture, we will;" so it was resolved on. That night in my sleep, the Lord showed me the meeting in the meeting-house, and let me see a company of great dogs come in and fall on us, and rear up at us with their forefeet upon our shoulders, as if they would strike us with great fear. One seemed to be upon me, and had gotten my left arm in his mouth, but I lifted up my right hand and knocked him down; and down they all came, and went away, and we had a good meeting after, and looked one upon another to see if any were hurt, and no man had so much as his skin broken, so we parted. The next day before the meeting was gathered, as soon as I came within sight of the meeting-house door, I saw the priest and officers of the town with two informers in soldiers coats going there; and I saw they were pressing to get into the meeting-house, insomuch that I was afraid they would get in before me and keep me out. But I hastened all I could, and pressed through the crowd, and got in before the priest and officers. Soon after they came in, and went to taking names; but they were so confounded, that it was observed they asked their own town's people their names, though they knew them well enough. After some time, the power of the Lord arose in me, and I kneeling down, went to prayer; so my right hand was lifted up, and they fell and got away out of the meeting. The priest and constable mounted their horses and went about four miles to fetch a justice, whom they brought back with them to the meeting, though it had ended before their return. The informers, by the help they had obtained, kept us in until the justice and priest came; so we all sat silent. Then the justice asked, " What were we doing there?" And after some pause I stood up, and went before him and told him that we were there in obedience to the Lord, to wait upon and worship him according to his own will, in spirit and in truth, and not in any contempt of authority; and though some of us had wives and children, and some estates in the world to lose, if it pleased the Lord to allow it so to be, yet we dared do not otherwise than we did, or to this effect. He asked me my name, and where I dwelled, which I told him. So he went on and took names through all the meeting, and fined me twenty pounds for preaching, and the rest five shillings a piece for attending to listen. This was about the time called mid-summer, and about the time called Michaelmas. After he sent up a warrant by the informer, to Justice Gilbert of Locka, and he gave his warrant to the constable to distrain of me for twenty pounds. The night before they came to seize my goods, I was laid down in my bed, and a great exercise fell upon me. I waited to see what it would come to, and as it increased upon me, I thought I was walking upon a very fine green place, and saw a storm coming, with a very strong wind, upon which I resolved to stand it, and set myself so as I thought to stand fast, and not be moved; but the storm came upon me, and took me up, but I was filled with the power of God. When it was over, I considered this exercise, and it came into my mind, that it did not come to me for nothing, for I thought the Lord had something for me to do, and I felt him very sweetly with me; and I said in my heart, Lord, what would you have me to do? Then the word of the Lord arose in my heart, saying, "Sell all that you have." After this I fell to rest, and next morning I went to the quarterly meeting at Tupton; when I came there, I heard that two red coats -were gone up to Monyash to distrain my goods, and the rumor was, all that I had must be taken from me for preaching the everlasting gospel, for that was my crime, and nothing else; praised be the Almighty forever! I acquainted the meeting with the exercise I had in my bed the night before, and how the word of the Lord came to me, telling me to sell everything; and I desired the sense of the meeting, whether I should sell all actually, or give up all, and let it all go patiently and freely for the truth's sake, if the Lord was pleased to allow me to be so tried with the loss of all? And it was the sense of the meeting, that I should give up all into the Lord's hand. At that time I owed monies both to Friends and others, which would have set me hard to pay on a sudden, without selling what I had in mine own possession, for I had much owing me, but could not get it in suddenly, whatever came on me. But I owed most to Friends, and they were at the quarterly meeting, and came to me, and were very tender to me, and encouraged me to give up all freely; and if all went, they would be content to take things as they were, or as it did fall. A precious day it was, and the Lord's power was over all the powers of the earth, and I was strengthened; praises to our God forever!

I came home that night, and the two informers had come to town with a warrant from Justice Gilbert, it being certified to him concerning that meeting at Clawson, by the said Lister, called a justice, who never prospered since, but is wasted and gone into a low condition, and become poor. The informers sent for the constable, who heard that I was not at home over night, upon which he refused to come until  the next morning. But on the next morning early, I sent for a man of the Church of England, to whom I owed ten pounds; he came and I delivered goods into his hand to sell and pay himself, and give me the surplus; so he took them and was well pleased to see my honest care of him. To another man I owed three pounds, but it happened he had a cow of mine in his grounds; so I sent to him to keep her for his money, or sell her, and pay himself, and give me the surplus. Then what I owed to Friends I was easy about, seeing they had been so kind and tender, and gave up theirs freely.

Soon after this was done, I saw the constable go into a neighbor’s house, to whom I went and spoke; but, poor man! he was full of trouble, and wanted counsel; when he saw me, he said to me, "you have brought yourself into trouble, and me too, and was very passionate." "Man," I said, "I have done no man any wrong, I would not have you be troubled, for if you will distrain you may, but if you will take my counsel, I will tell you what I would have you to do." He asked, "what would you have me to do?" I said, "send these men away, and tell them, if you need assistance, you can call to your neighbors." He was pleased with my advice, and went up to the inn; but before he left me, the informers came, and they knew me, and asked if I were the man in the legal order. "Yes," I said, how is Justice Lister? I thought he would have been more moderate than to have prosecuted the law against me to this height. One of them said, "you are a people that will be obedient to no law." I felt the Lord's power to arise in me, and I said unto him, "what do you think, are we children of God, or children of the devil? If the latter, you may take courage to do as you do; (though I knew he ought not, if it was so) but if you think we are children of God, how dare you? But one thing let me tell you, the Scripture said, that he that is born after the flesh, persecutes him that is born after the spirit. Now," I said, "there is your mark; and further, it said, that is an evident sign to them of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God."

The Lord's power appearing with these words, they both were silent, and went away to the inn, and the constable also followed them. I stayed a little and weighed in my mind, what to do; at which point I felt freedom to go to the inn also, and found the informers at eating, and talked with them, inquiring of Friends at Clawson, how they stood? And whether any shrunk? And they told me, indeed Friends suffered deeply.

The constable and some neighbors were in another room, and called me to come to them, but when I came they said to me, "are you so mad as to stay with your enemies?" "Ah", I said, "we must love our enemies, and do good to them that hate us, and pray for them that persecute and despitefully use us." "Ah, they said, "it is well for you if you can do so, for we cannot."

The informers left the constable, and told him, they believed I was an honest man, and they would have him be as favorable to me as he could, saying, "it would not be much, if the town's men would pay it for him; for," they said, "we heard as we came up the country, that he was an honest man." Then they begged of the constable, to give them some money to help them home, for they had above thirty miles to go, upon which he gave them sixpence.

When they were gone, the constable came down, and I thought he would have followed me into my house, but he stayed in the street, hanging down his head very sorrowfully.

Some of the town offered to pay the money, and take it up again as I could pay it, but I could not with freedom do it; but while I was at the inn, some of the chief women of the town came to my house, and finding nobody in it but my wife, they, against her mind, violently took all the best of the goods away, and carried them—on purpose to save them for us—to a neighbor’s house. When I came home and saw the goods gone, I was sorry, and asked my wife, how it was? She told me she could not help it, and where they had carried them she could not tell, for they would do it, whether she approved or not.

I went out and invited the constable to come in, but he desired me to not admit him to my home and shut the door. I answered him, "no, for I had done no wrong, nor was I afraid of any man, and besides, I was not free to shut my doors;" then he came in, and sat down in much trouble, hanging down his head.

After some time, we had some warm food ready for dinner, and we invited him to dine; he roused himself up and eat with us, and after dinner, he went and sat down again as before in much trouble.

At last I began to think, what to do with him, for no way opened to him for how to proceed, and it was difficult for him to seize my goods in distrain, for he seemed confused to a stand. Then I spoke and told him that he might write down what goods there were here and in what condition they were; and if he did not take them away, I would not move them. Then he could announce their availability for sale at the market-cross* and the steeple-house also; and if anyone wished to buy them, they could come to my house and buy them.

*a market-cross was a cross placed at a major intersection of roads, on which notices were posted to alert the population.

He liked this proposal, and did accordingly, but when people heard them proclaimed, they wished sad things to anyone who bought any of them; so that none were sold.

Soon after this the court sessions came to town, and the constable went there to  meet with Sir Henry Every and Justice Gilbert, of Locka, who had granted the warrant. He offered to deliver them his warrant and his bill of goods that he had distrained, telling them that he was unable to  sell them; but Justice Gilbert said to him, "If you cannot sell them in Derbyshire, you must carry them into Yorkshire." "No," replied Justice Every, "what need is there to do that; you have granted your warrant, and you have done your official duty; and good fellow," he said to the constable," having done your duty and cannot sell them, you can go home and let it be as it is." He was Chief Justice in that county, and loved honest Friends, but hated hypocrites; and he was very opposed to proud priests. The Earl of Devonshire and his lady had also previously advised him to be tender of me, as he was ever after.

At a later time, when I was a prisoner, he laid hold of every twig of encouragement until  he got me out again. When King James put out his proclamation,—of which some would have prevented me from receiving the benefit—he spoke to the judge, and got me discharged.

The constable came home, and with great joy told me what had taken place, that he came off so finely, and that my goods were saved.

Thus the Lord delivered me, defended and pleaded my cause in the time of need. Oh! his mercies were great to me at this time, he filled me with the Holy Spirit that day the informers were with me; so that sometimes I was ready to say that if I had had an house full of goods to lose, I could freely part with them for the sake of truth. For to us it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for his sake; and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus must suffer persecution. It is cause of great joy, when we are counted worthy to suffer for him; and he that loses anything for his sake, shall receive an hundred fold in this life, and in the world to come life everlasting. If we suffer with him, we shall reign with him; but if we deny him, he also will deny us. They are counted happy that endure; for he that endures to the end shall be saved; therefore we are exhorted, to lay hold on eternal life, and hold it fast, for fear that any take our crown, which he freely gives to all them that love his appearing.

After this sessions I was fined several times, twenty pounds a time, and the constables took the same way as the first did, and always went to Justice Every, and returned their warrants to him, which he took, and discharged the officers and sent them home; so the Lord preserved me from the spoilers, blessed be his name! He allowed the enemies of Truth to go no further, nor to do any more than he was pleased to give his people strength to bear, with comfort and rejoicing; for he has been my rock and stay, yes, my portion both for soul and body. He has helped me in all my necessities, and stood by me to hold up my head above all the waters and tempests; he is my salvation and treasure which will never decay, praise forevermore be given to him!

After this I went to a meeting at a town called Whittington, to which meeting came the mayor of Chesterfield, where two men waited on him; but the priest of the town, as they told us, sent two informers, who followed the mayor into the meeting, though he did not know what or who they were, that I could hear of.

The mayor came simply and innocently to hear truth declared. I was preaching when he came in and stood up close by me. I was opening to the people the parable of the supper, (Luke 14:15-24) and how those who were invited made excuses, but the servant was sent out again into the streets and lanes of the city, to bring in the poor, the maimed, the lame and the blind to the supper; and I was showing who these poor, lame, blind and maimed were, and how those that were wounded and lay lame and sick came to the supper. The mayor asked me how were they wounded? Without stopping, I told him that they were the poor in spirit who received the kingdom, and the wounded in spirit, saying, "The spirit of a man would sustain his infirmities; but a wounded spirit, who can bear, and so went on speaking. The power of God broke mightily through the meeting, so much so that the mayor cried out, "It is true!" When I had done, he went out and wept bitterly, and asked Francis Davenport, the Friend of the house where the meeting was, to show him where he might lie down awhile. He took him into a chamber, where he lay down, weeping sorely. He was very loving to me all his days after; though, poor soul, he was very rich in worldly riches, and it was too hard for him to stand in a public profession of the truth with us; but he was under a concern in his mind to his dying day.

But though the mayor, I believe, neither thought to do, nor did us any harm, yet the laws were such that I was fined twenty pounds again for preaching, and the Friend of the house was fined twenty pounds also; for the two men that the priest of the town sent to our meeting, as before said, went and informed against it for being a conventicle.*

*A conventicle was a seditious meeting of those persons threatening the peace of the Kingdom – defined by law to be any group of five or more person over sixteen years of age meeting together, where any religious service differed from the Church of England’s common prayer and liturgy.

Justice Barton, of Dranfield, without calling me before him to hear my accusers face to face, according to the ancient laws of the nation, sent out his warrants to distrain our goods, and they took Francis Davenport's cattle and horses, and went to the Fleshly fair and sold most of them before Francis and I could get there; but after we came to the fair and told them how they took the goods from us, nobody would buy any more of them. One man, who had ignorantly bought some of the cattle, was sorely troubled, and said that had he known it, he would not have bought them. The officers of our town followed the precedent and took the same method as the former constable had done; they took some goods away from me, but could sell none, upon which the constable acquainted Justice Every, who told him to go home, and let it be as it was. Thus this justice stood in the gap, and stopped my goods in favor to me from being sold time after time, by which means I was preserved wonderfully from being plundered; and the goods they took out of my house were returned after the sessions. Indeed my neighbors showed much love to me, and were loath to have me hurt at any time, so that the Lord was wonderfully good, both to me and my family, and was pleased to work for me from time to time; glory to his great and honorable name forever! So that I never lacked a bed to lie on, or beds for my friends, or food to eat, or clothing to put on.

About this time I went into Cheshire, and had a meeting at Chester, where I met Roger Haydock, Eleanor Loe, and Mary Warrel, whose company I enjoyed. There were several men who had received the truth in this place, and yet through unfaithfulness had fallen away. When I learned of this I was sorry, and went again to Chester; for I had no ease in my spirit for two days and nights. I came there on the sixth-day of the week, and at night I had a few words with an apothecary and his wife at supper.

The next day I walked throughout the market, with a great concern upon my mind, but I did not have an opportunity in the street to speak to the people. The apothecary took me to his house, where both he and his wife were very friendly. He also told me, that the unfaithfulness of some in that city had hindered them, otherwise they would been with us before. I talked with them and then we parted friendly.

On first-day I went to Richard Smith's house to the meeting, and sat down and stayed an hour or more before the meeting was fully gathered; then I stood up and went nearer to Friends, for it was a very large room, and the Lord in mercy was pleased to give us a precious meeting, and there was great brokenness of heart with many tears. At the latter end of this meeting, Richard Smith spoke very tenderly, and desired that they who were unfaithful might amend their ways, and for the time to come do better; yet poor man, notwithstanding this exhortation, he himself, after some time, did worse than he had done before, for he wrote against Friends and the blessed Truth; however, he, with some others who opposed the Truth, soon after died.

King Charles II gave liberty to such Presbyterians as would, to license places to meet in, and they got a great barn at Ashford in-the-water. I happened to be in the town one day, and saw their meeting break up; there appeared in the street an abundance of people, and it troubled my spirit to see so many poor people led away, with such as I had tried by scripture and found to be false apostles. Within three days the word of the Lord came to me, telling me to go to that meeting on the next fifth-day, but it was very hard with me to give up to go, for there were many there that I loved very well, and that I believed loved me; but the Lord was good and encouraged me, upon which I acquainted an ancient Friend with the concern which was upon me, and he also encouraged me.

On fifth-day morning a friend came to me, and we went to the meeting where the priest was preaching, who preached false doctrine. My message to the meeting was that their meeting would fall and come down before long, as it did in a few weeks afterwards; and there has never been a meeting since in that barn, though they had set up a pulpit and fine seats in it. When the priest had finished, I asked the privilege of the gospel, which was: If anything was revealed to him that sat by, let him speak, and the rest hold their peace. But before I had said what I had to say, they rushed upon me violently upon me, abusing me and dragging me out. The priest looked pale and went away, though I charged him with false doctrine. When I had been drug outside, I declared to the people in the power of God against their priests and worship, but no one answered me in defense of their way. When I had finished, I went away; and soon after saw the word of the Lord fulfilled, for their meeting was not to be found in all the country, because they fled and went into hiding in those suffering times.

Another day I was at Wirksworth market, and the people were swearing dreadfully, at which my spirit was sorely grieved, and the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, “Go to the market-cross and declare against the wickedness of the people.” I was loath to go, for I knew many of them were rude, wicked, drunken, swearing people; besides, I did not know but what they might tear me to pieces, and therefore I took my horse and went home. But I was followed with sharp reproofs and righteous judgments from the Lord, with which I was in deep sorrow, and I looked for the renewing of that concern no more.

But the next time I went, when I was in the market again, an exercise fell heavy upon me to go and warn the people. Now I went, not standing to consider it any more, and in the heavenly power of God declared the Truth, and bore my testimony against their great wickedness, insomuch that the people were much reached, and wept aloud, and no man had power to hurt me. I stopped twice and sat down, and waited still for the fresh motion of life, and the Lord enabled me to stand up again. When I had eased my spirit I came away in peace and great joy. After I came to my inn, some followed me, but it rose in my heart to go out of town, which I did. After I was gone, I heard one Justice Loe came to the town, and sent to my inn to fetch me before him, intending to send me to prison, but the Lord delivered and saved me out of the hands of wicked men; for this justice was a great persecutor of Friends. Thus the Lord was with me, and kept me wherever I went. Oh! let my soul livingly praise his holy Name.

About this time I went much to meetings, all around, the Lord helping me, without whom I could do nothing, for in him all fullness dwells; and many were convinced, and our meetings were greater and greater, and many proved faithful; but the priests raged sorely, for I went abroad as much as I could, and kept my trade going too. My family also grew larger, and my care was great to pay all I owed to everybody, so that I was often constrained to ride many miles after meetings, to gain my markets on the second-day of the week, and the Lord blessed me in every way.

Many Friends came to visit me at my house, for the more I traveled and labored in the work and service of the Lord, the more I gained acquaintance with Friends abroad. And I went often to the yearly meeting at London, and there inquired how Truth spread abroad from nation to nation. I was glad that Friends came in love to see me, and I went in the love of God to visit those who had visited me. Our town's people thought that they would destroy me with their fines, as I heard, expecting to see me fail in the world; but when it did not prove so, but rather the contrary, then they changed their minds, and said, that the Quakers, as they called them, gave me money for preaching. I patiently endured many similar false accusations and slanders in those days.

Thus the subtle serpent, by his wicked and false reports, labored to hinder the prosperity of the pure Truth; yet I saw no way but to give up my cause, and the cause of Truth, into the Lord's hand, for him to plead it as he saw fit.

The priests seeing the magistrates did not like to persecute us, put their heads together, and got out a writ against me and two other Friends.

It so happened that I was gone to York, and those parts, in Truth's service, and did not come not home until the writ was near being out of date, but the other two Friends were taken and sent to prison at Derby, and were long kept prisoners there.

After this, they cited me to the bishops' court, to which I went, and when I was called, went up towards the high priest and the others; one of them was called the Register, whose name was Nichols, of Litchfield. When I came near him, he looked on me with an envious countenance, saying to me, "How are you here? I thought to have had you in jail before now;" but he said, "I will have you in jail."

Then I said, "I have read, that the devil shall cast some of you into prison; but I never read, that any prophet, apostle, or servant of Jesus Christ laid any man in prison for conscience sake." But Nichols answered again, "I will lay you in prison." Then I said, “You will join with the devil. " "Pray, Mr. Wilson," he said to the high priest, the same one who had come to our meeting to persecute us after he had been at his so called sacrament, "admonish him." Upon which I expected some information and counsel; but all he said was, "I admonish you to come to church; I admonish, I admonish you to come to church." I was amazed at their folly and blindness; for I expected they would have labored to show me that it was my duty to come to church, or that I was in error; but seeing nothing was said but I admonish three times, to make way for their wicked court to go on to persecute me and get money; I said to him, "I pray you, whether you admonish me for the good of my soul, or for the love of my money?"  Nichols said, "I do for the love of your money, and he does for the good of your soul." With that the people broke out laughing; for they saw it was money more than the good of souls that they aimed at in that wicked court. Then the Lord's power arose in my heart, and I was going to declare against them; for I saw their wickedness in their high places was very great, and from an evil, cruel, persecuting, selfish spirit; but they cried out, "Have him away;" upon which I was violently hurried out of their court. At the next court I was cited again, and in the meantime summoned to appear at the assizes at Derby. The bailiff of our district told me, we must go to the clerk of the assizes. I told him we would not, for it was in useless, to go to him unless we would give him money. Then said he, "You must appear before the judge." I seemed willing to that, and told him that it might do well to let him know how we were abused by him, and his men the bailiffs; for we are hurried to the assizes and sessions, because we cannot give you money, and people of other opinions, who can give you money, you leave at home. Yes," I said, "to my own knowledge, you left one at home for one groat."* We were many Friends together, and when he heard me so willing to appear before the judge and reveal how they made their ends of the people in the country, he told me to go home, if I would. I said I would go only if all my friends went along with me. He told me to take them, and away we went home; and these greedy men were not able to prey on us.

*groat- a former English coin worth four pennies.

Being cited to appear again the next day before the Spiritual court, (so called, but it was rather wicked court), at Bakewell, three of us went. I came from the Temporal court one day, and went to the Spiritual court another, but they all missed of their chief ends of me; for they were of Felix's mind, they troubled me the oftener, thinking to get money of me. When we came there, the court was removed into the inn, to go to dinner; after which they held their court in a chamber, where we appeared; but Nichols said he would not take mine for an appearance. I asked him why, saying any time that day, while the court lasted would do. The priest answered, saying, " you are a people that will not be obedient to the king's laws." I then asked him, "Is the king your ruler?" To this he was silent, and told an officer to take me away, but I stayed until the other Friends were finished, and then went away.

After this I traveled hard, and went to meetings in many places; and one day as I was drawing homeward, having been in Leicestershire, and Nottinghamshire, coming by Derby, William Fallowfield being with me, a letter from Abraham Morris, of Lincoln, met me, desiring me to speak to a great woman, who was about to put some Friends in prison, who were her tenants for tithes. I went to her, and after some talk with her, she grew very cool and moderate, and ordered me to go to her steward, about eight miles from Derby; so William Fallowfield left me. I went home from Derby, and on the next day I went to the steward's, but he was gone to Brasson. I went there, and he was gone to the hall. I sent for him to my inn, but he would not come. So I went to him to the hall, where were two priests and the master of the house, and some of Derby, who all knew me. I got the steward from them into the hall, where I had a discussion with him, telling him his mistress's mind, and left him very friendly; after which I heard no more of the Friends going to Lincoln prison. I pressed on then to go home to my family, though it snowed and blew hard; but when I was on Brasson Moor, the word of the Lord came to me, telling me go to Auldwark and help them out. I went there, not daring to deny the Lord’s instructions. There was no priest or priest's shop in that town, and several were under trouble about religion. I had some acquaintance with John Buzston, to whose house I went, and he made me welcome. I acquainted him that  I had a desire to have a meeting, and they acquainted the town; and at the hour appointed for the meeting, the house was full. I was able to speak as in the ability of God's holy Spirit, and was powerfully carried on for about four hours. The meeting ended before twelve, but some stayed until  two, and the man and his wile were convinced along with both of their parents; also convinced was the servant man, who has since a fine testimony among Friends, and twenty more of the town. John Buzston said he believed the whole town was convinced. Many came to meetings, some until  they died, some until  they married; some went into America, and did well, as I hear. I had also meetings about the same time at Newman-Lays-Millen, and it was an excellent convincement in those days; some of whom are alive to this day, still faithful to the truth. By his own right arm the Lord did many unutterable things in many other many places where the Lord ordered me and went with me. Many were convinced, yes, I believe it was hundreds, who came to meetings; at which the devil was angry, and I was cast into prison.

<John Gratton's Journal Continued>>>>

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