The Missing Cross to Purity


A JOURNAL OF THE LIFE THAT ANCIENT SERVANT OF CHRIST,

JOHN GRATTON

(Continued)

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Soon after this, a writ de Excommunicate Capiendo came out. While I was abroad among Friends, I had a great sense of a deep suffering falling upon me, insomuch that I said to a friend, it was so deep I could not see to the bottom of it; and I desired in my heart of the Lord, that I might be enabled to stand it. Before I got home out of Yorkshire, I had a dream one night, in which I saw, as I thought, a great mastiff dog took hold on me, and held me by my clothes just by Derby jail. I saw it was to no purpose to strive, and therefore after I had called to his master to take him off, but could not see he was inclined to it, I gave up to let him hold me. The day before I got home I felt the suffering more and more; and the next day I went to Bakewell fair, and the officer arrested me before I could get into my inn, or put up my horse in the stable, being the 16th of the sixth month, 1680. So to Derby I must go, but we stayed that night at Bakewell, where my wife came next morning, and wept. I told her not to weep, but rather to rejoice that we were counted worthy to suffer for Christ's sake, who had suffered so much for us. Then she bore it very well, when she saw me bear it so cheerfully.

Now when we came to the jail I demanded a free prison, but the jailer was unwilling, and offered me kindness if I would stay in his house and pay for my table, but I had a wife and family, and therefore could not afford to lie at seven shillings per week in his house; but I insisted to have a free prison, as I knew the law allowed. It happened that a little before, there were several Friends in that prison whom he put in the dungeon among thieves, and would scarcely allow them clean straw; so I got a statute book, which said that no sheriff, nor under-sheriff, nor jailer, nor under-jailer, should keep and lodge debtors and felons together, upon the penalty of five pounds. I took it and went to the sheriff, whose wife and mine claimed some kindred; they were very friendly to me, and desired me to leave my book with him, and meet him at the assizes, where he would speak to the judge, which he did, and the judge ordered my friends to be put from the felons, and to have rooms to themselves. The next that came to prison was myself, so I demanded one of those rooms. He said he had corn in it. Take it out then, I said, which he did in great vexation, and put me there, it being an old prison chamber. I borrowed a bed, with some other things and went in. He came up to see how I fared. I had a fire, and though I could see the stars at night through the holes in the tiles, yet I lay warm enough. I had my health and was well content, and thought in my mind that this was but small suffering to what I might go through before I died. I gave up all into the Lord's hand, soul, body and spirit, wife, children, and all I had, saying in my heart, sickness or health, life or death, the will of the Lord be done. Oh! how good the Lord was to me, and I lay quiet and slept sweetly.

But when the jailer saw that I settled to abide there, and framed to housekeeping, he was angry and went his way, and locked me up close, and I remained so some time. I did not so much as desire to look out at the door. My heart was glad that I was accounted worthy of those bonds; and though I could get nothing except I had drawn it in at the window with a cord, yet it happened that I wanted nothing all the time it was thus with me, for indeed I resolved to abide it patiently.

At length a Friend, one Robert Meek, came to see me, and the turnkey came to tell me there was one come to see me, saying, I must come down into the house to him. By this I saw that the jailer was willing to have me come to my friends that they might spend money in the house; at which point I told the turnkey that I was not willing to go down. If my friends, I said, must not come to me, I am not willing to come to them. He went down and in a short time brought up the Friend to me, leaving us together with the door unlocked; and when the Friend had stayed his time, I went down with him to see him take horse. When he was gone, I spoke to the jailer and asked him why he treated me so so severely? I told him, if he was civil, he would have civility from me, and if he would not, he might do as he would. He said that we were a people that would do nothing but what we listed; so when we had talked a while, he said, "There hangs the key, take it, and do as you please."

Ever after I went in and out as I had occasion into the jailer's house and gardens, but home he would not let me go, though my wife was taken so ill, that it was feared she would have died. I gave up wife and children, and all I had into the Lord's hand, and was contented, saying in my heart, after this manner: "Life or death, poverty or riches, come what will come, the will of the Lord be done." But it pleased the Lord that my wife mended again; and, Oh! how at peace I was after I had given up all, and my jail was as a pleasant place to me, for the Lord in mercy was with me, so that I even sang a living song of praise; for to him praise is due forevermore!

Friends at London, in brotherly love, sent down a habeas corpus to have me up to appear in London, where I went to please them; for Nichols had not applied the law correctly. But the court at London would not release me at that time. I was very uneasy until I came to the court and heard what tricks the priest's party and Nichols had done; then I gave my efforts up, and resolved to wait the Lord's time to bring me out, as he had been pleased to appear to me. The word of the Lord came to me, “Be content, and I will bring you out with honor.” Upon which I went back to prison, and lay quietly until King James set me at liberty.

After this that jailer left, replaced by another, who was very civil and kind to me, as was his wife also kind. Towards the spring my eldest son John died. I obtained liberty to go to see him, but he died that night after he had seen me. Some of his last words were that he hoped we should meet where they (meaning evil men) would not part us any more. The day after he was buried, I left my wife and went to prison again.

The priests were pleased that I was in prison; and at a meeting in my inn at Tideswell, priest Wilson said to Fern, with whom I had the dispute at Baslow, "Sir, I can tell you news." "What news?" Fern said. "Why," Wilson said, "Gratton is in prison." "I am glad of it," Fern said. These are the hirelings that show their envious spirit, who spare not the flock of Christ!

This year I wrote an epistle to the yearly meeting in London, which is as follows:

Dear friends and brethren,

In the pure unchangeable truth do I dearly salute you all, who are truly kept faithful in and by the power of God to his glory; who has in his endless mercy called and chosen us to bear testimony to his eternal power and godhead, who is God over all the gods of the earth, which are but as grass, which soon wither and come to an end.

You, dear friends, who dwell in the power of God, the mountain of true holiness, and in the unchangeable light, that is the same at this day which it was at the first of its breaking forth in us, is my love at this time freshly unto. And I feel you near and dear to me as ever. You, whom God has made pillars in his house, honorable vessels in his hand, fitted for his service, my soul honors, yes, and highly esteems in the Lord; knowing right well, that it is your food and drink to do the will of your Father which is in heaven; and your hearts are gladly carried on in your Father's business. You can truly say that they, and they only, are your brethren and sisters, who know and do the will of your Father which is in heaven; for God, even our God and Father everlasting, has raised us up by his own arm and brought us forth in his own light, life and power, not to do our own wills, but to do his. Blessed be his name! His own people delight to live under his government, and love his reign, and are not a little glad to feel the increase of his kingdom, in their own particulars, and to behold it in others. For this, dear friends, is a travail known in every upright heart, and a weighty concern upon the honest minded in all the churches of the saints, that nothing may be allowed or permitted that hinders the increase of the kingdom and government of Christ Jesus our Lord. For this cause, with others I might mention, I know it is a thing well pleasing unto the Lord, that you meet together, who have cheerfully a weighty care upon your spirits, for the prosperity of the eternal Truth, which is truly precious unto you; that you may in the wisdom and love of God, through his eternal power, and in the spring of life be truly carried forth as one man to stand up for the cause of God, and enabled to discharge your spirits of that weighty service which lies upon you. Oh! how largely has the Lord our God made it manifest, that your meeting is well pleasing unto him, by giving you his presence in such a powerful and glorious manner, as is beyond my ability to declare, and has sealed it in my heart, and I am sure in your hearts, that it is a right good and honorable thing; and declares to all the world, that though we are of several counties of this nation, yes, and of several nations, yet are we one body, in one spirit and mind; and our unity, love and concord remain fresh in that life and light which never alters, and is the same at this day that ever it was. Therefore the enemy rages and envies our prosperity in the blessed Truth, and seeks every way to hinder the increase of the kingdom and government of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever! The Lord rebuke him and chain him down and tread him under our feet. I earnestly breathe unto the Lord our God, to give you a good soul-satisfying opportunity, according to his usual manner, and I believe he will do it, and fill your cups full, yes, and make them overflow abundantly, to the joy and consolation of every sincere heart among you; and the Lord fill you with the spirit of judgment, that you may be as assistants in government. Judge for God, and set true judgment on the head of transgression and transgressors, wherever they are found, and so clear Truth, which is clear from scandals and scandalous professors of it, that God may be glorified, and all his enemies who will not that he should reign over them, be brought down and slain before him, that he over all may be exalted, who alone is worthy—God blessed forever. Amen.

Dear brethren, I can truly say I am with you in spirit; and my love springs freshly to you, and I should be glad to be with you personally, but could not get leave; so as a token of my dear love and true unity unto you and with you, it was in my heart thus to write. In this I remain your dear friend and brother. Everlasting praises be given to our God forever. Amen.

Written in Derby jail, where I am a prisoner for the Truth's sake.

John Gratton

22nd of the Third month, 1683

After some years the jailer gave me leave to go home sometimes, and stay some weeks, but it displeased the priests and officers. One time, when I was at home, a Friend who was to be married came to me, and was earnest with me to come to his marriage, saying, he believed there would be a great service, for many people of the town of Chesterfield, where he had been an apprentice, would be at it. Therefore I thought to go, but that night after he was gone, as I sat in my own house, an exercise fell upon me, so I turned in my mind, and waited to know the cause, and the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, "You must not go to this marriage, for the officer will be there; but you must go to Derby to the jail tomorrow." I went to bed very sorry that I must go to Derby so soon, because I had leave to stay at home some weeks longer. I told my wife of it, and questioned whether I should sleep, yet through mercy I did; but when I awoke the next morning, it remained with me until I went. When I came to Derby, the jailer was at the Bowling-green. I told him I had come to see them, at which he was glad, and told me go down, and he would follow me. When I had been a little time at the jail, two high priests came with one called a gentleman to see me, and asked for me; so I came to them, but when they saw me, they had nothing to say to me. For they called for me, as I suppose, as if they were sure that I was not there. Only the man who came with them, whose name was Ouldershaw, and knew me well, to cover the matter, put himself to talk a little with me, and framed some discourse about religion; but he was soon silent, and was not able to withstand the Truth, while the priests said nothing, but made their view and went away. When they were gone, the jailer rejoiced that it was so ordered, that I was there so ready to be seen by them; and said that if I had not been there that day, it would have cost him forty pounds; for one of the priests was the chief priest of Derby town, and the other one very high. He was so pleased, that he let me go home again the same day.

Thus the wicked plotted against the just; for we perceived their design was to have advantage against the jailer for giving me liberty, and so have gotten me to be kept close prisoner, and then they hoped some relation of mine would have given them money for my release. I suppose they had some information that I was expected to be at the marriage before mentioned; and they laid the design so, that the officer went to the marriage to catch me there, expecting to find me preaching, for he brought a justice with him to the meeting, called Gladman, one who knew better than he practiced, who asked for me; and the justice took hold of R. C. to pull him out of the meeting, but slipped his hold, and fell upon a form, and there to the floor, and there lay until Friends helped him up. Those priests were to have evidenced that they came that day to the prison and called for me, and that I was not there. But the good God disappointed them, and ordered me to be at the jail, and not at the marriage. But the officer informed against the meeting, and Friends were fined; one Friend twenty pounds for preaching, which would have been my lot, had they found me preaching there, and the rest five shillings a piece for listening. So they distrained on G. H. for twenty pounds, and Friends for five shillings, but the Lord saw all their plots against me, and in mercy delivered me that day; neither did my jailer suffer for his kindness to me. Oh! what a manifestation of the Lord's great love was this, for which I was not able to the full to return the praise and humble acknowledgments that are due to him, for his mercy and fatherly care, who knew the designs of our enemies, and prevented them.

Though we were ignorant and knew nothing of this plot, yet the Lord in mercy revealed it to me by his good Spirit, that I should go to the prison. Oh! What a tender Father and wonderful Counselor have we; heaven and earth are full of his majesty, and his power is over all. Let the whole creation, and my soul, with all that is within me praise the Lord, for his mercy endures from generation to generation. He is God and changes not—the same today, yesterday and forever. Therefore his people are not consumed, though the sea rage, and the beasts of the field roar, yet the sheep and lambs of the flock of Christ Jesus are saved, and the lions and bears slain by him, who has all power in heaven and earth, and will deliver all that truly trust in him. David said, "Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The rulers take counsel together against the Lord, and against his anointed;" whom the apostle remembered with joy: Acts 4:18-34. Read it and take courage, you that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity, and fear not man; for, if God be for us, who can be against us? Neither men nor devils can hurt us, though they may tempt and try us; yet if we follow the Lord, he will help us in time of need. My chief end in writing these remarkable things is, that others may take courage to trust in God, and be obedient to him in all things, without fearing man, who is but as grass.

While I lay in prison, I sometimes spoke out of the window to the people, and many of them were loving and friendly to me, and some young men were convinced, among whom was the jailer's eldest son, who came finely forth in obedience to the Lord, for which his father was angry and turned him out of the house. He was likewise offended with me, and said he would put me in the dungeon and chain me to the wall. But he never did; for he would sometimes seem worse than he really was, for he loved me more than he made a show of, and the liberty he gave me declared it. One day I was concerned in mind for his son, for he got little trade in Derby, for the town was envious, and many of them seemed to turn from him, and would not trade with him, because he was turned to the Truth. His father was uneasy, for some would have had the high sheriff to put him out from being jailer; but it came into my heart to make the jailer a proposal, that if he pleased to give me and his son leave, I would go with him to London, and place him there. I went down and told his wife, and she told her husband, to which he consented; upon which I helped his son what I could off with his goods, then I took him with me to London, and placed him with an honest Friend, George Watts, where he did well, for the Lord gave him favor in the sight of Friends, and he grew in the Truth. After some time he found his mind engaged in affection toward a sober young woman, of an honest family, a Friend; upon which he came down to have the consent of his parents, to proceed in marriage. So now I had to go up again to London, which I did, and liked the young woman well. So they married, and he went into partnership with a Friend in trade, and grew rich every way, and the Lord blessed him. After some time his father went up to London, and saw how his son lived, and confessed that I had done more for him than he could have done. One time, having leave to go home for some time, to see my wife and family, it fell out so that Robert Meiler, of Whitehough in Staffordshire, died, who had been an honest Friend in his day, and a noble standard in suffering times; his wife was also a sincere hearted woman, and his son John a very honest Friend. They hearing of my being at home, sent and invited me to come to his burial; and though I was sorry for the loss of so faithful a Friend, yet I desired to go to his burial, thinking there would be many people, for he was beloved both by rich and poor, and of good report among men of all sorts. Since I was a prisoner, I was considerate of the jailer possibly being blamed, or turned out of his place on account of my absence; for both he and his wife and children loved me well, and were very kind to me. So, I waited upon the Lord, desiring to know his mind, whether I should go, or not. Then I felt I might go; though I had a sense there would be danger of meeting with some trouble, but how or which way it would come I did not know.

When the day came I went, and many people were there, many of them people of note and figure in the world, and the high constable of our hundred, to whom Robert was uncle. I was not easy in my spirit to stay at the house, but it was in my mind to go to the grave-yard, and not to stay until the corpse was carried from the house; upon which I left the people at dinner, and went away, and when I came at Basford town's end, I overtook two men in black raiment, who opened the gate for me, but as I went on, it rose in my heart that they were informers; they went on also past the grave-yard, as though they had been going further, though I knew there was no road that way which they went. Then I slipped off my horse and went to a stile to watch them, and saw they went through a village into the Friend's ground who lived there, and lay down under a hedge until the corpse came near; when they arose and put themselves into the crowd, all which I saw and was exercised what to do, whether I should go into the grave-yard or not; for if I should go, I did not know but my keeper might be turned out of his place, and there were three public Friends besides, namely: W. F., J. H., and J. J. So I humbly waited on the Lord for counsel, if in mercy he would please to teach and help me to do his will at that time; and as I waited and walked about, the people came with the corpse, and it pleased the Lord to encourage me to go to the grave and all should be well; at which point I went, where my mouth was opened to speak to the people, and the Lord's power was with me, and after I had done I went into the Friend's house, and sat down and kept my coat about me; but some strangers came in under pretence of lighting their tobacco, and asked the Friend's maid who I was; saying, what a brave man they had heard; wishing they could do as he had said. I sat by, and they did not know me again, but asked my name and where I dwelled; and she told them, by which they got their end. Now the two men in black proved informers, the one of them was a priest, and the other a schoolmaster, as I heard afterwards. They informed against me to the magistrates, and they fined me twenty pounds, and the three Friends who spoke at the grave twenty pounds each, and Thomas Hammersley, the Friend of the house, for the graveyard twenty pounds, in all a hundred pounds, besides other Friends five shillings a piece for the others present. Yet these informers got nothing of that hundred pounds of any of us five, for Friends went to the magistrates, and they moderated it, also the justices of our county refused to grant their warrants to distrain my goods, because I was a prisoner. The deceased Friend was a rich man, and so were his relations, both in that county and in Derbyshire; upon which they sent out a warrant to distrain upon the widow's goods, from whom they took a mare, and few else lost much by these informers, for the hearts of many people rose against them. I being in another county, a warrant was sent after me to sir William Boothly, to distrain my goods for twenty pounds, but he said, I was out of his hundred, and he would not meddle; by this he put them off, and all was well, though they employed a sorry attorney of Staffordshire, to go to Simon Degg, a justice of Derby, for a warrant to distrain my goods, but the justice told them I was a prisoner. "No," said the attorney, "he is at liberty." " No," said the justice, " he is in prison." It happened that there was a prisoner by at that time, and the justice asked him, and he bore witness that I was in jail, for I came in over night, for he both saw me, and was with me some time in the jailer's house; upon which the justice said, "What would you have? He is a prisoner; therefore I will not grant any warrant against him." The prisoner came home in the evening, and told me, before the jailer and his wife and many others, what a tug he had about me at Justice Degg's, saying, "The attorney Sutton craved a warrant against you, for preaching at Robert Meller's burial;" but the prisoner before said; by name Porter, affirmed that I was in prison, and so Sutton got no warrant. When my jailer perceived that while I had been about home upon leave, I did venture to go to this burial, he cried out, saying, "You will undo yourself and me too.” But I looked on him, and said boldly as it arose in my heart: “Man, never fear, for you will suffer nothing for any kindness you show to me.”

This was the assize time at Derby, and the high constable before said, who was Robert Meller's nephew, and was at the burial, told counselor Leming, that he could find in his heart to complain to the judge of my jailer, for letting me have liberty to go to meetings. Counselor Leming told it to a friend of mine, an attorney in the town, who wished me well, and he told me what he had heard, and who told him. I said to him, “Pray ask the counselor, if it was not Robert Dale; for he was at the burial as well as me;” and I said, it is hard, if we may not have liberty to bury one another, or to this effect. But when he knew that I had marked him out, he said no more, nor made any complaint to the judge; for it would have been a shame for him to complain against me for being at his uncle's burial. My kind jailer had no blame, but all was well, according to what was said in my heart when I went to the graveside, that all would be well. The devil was not allowed to do so much mischief as he would have done; and the Lord comforted my soul through all these exercises; glory, honor and praise be given to him, who never fails those who truly trust in him.

After some time I went to London again, and was there when King Charles died, and his brother came to the crown, who, after some time, set all who were in prison for conscience sake, at liberty.

While I remained in prison, I had some discussion with the Papists, who were in prison with me, about several things. The first time the popish priest began with me thus; the jailer being ill I went down to see him, and when the priest heard I was with the jailer, he came also, with about eight debtors, who were civil men, being well brought up, and they came to see the jailer, and being pretty cheerful with the old man, the popish priest broke out, and said, " Well may I be cheerful, who suffer for the Truth, when I see how cheerfully some men suffer for error."

There were no one but he and another Papist, and I, who suffered for our profession of religion, so that I saw he struck at me. I told him, there were none at that time who suffered for their religion but him and another of his own mind and me; therefore I said, either you or I suffer for error. Either prove your charge, or acknowledge your fault, for I am not willing to sit down with it; telling him, that if he could make it appear that I suffered for an error, I would take him for my friend, for I was not wiling either to live or die in error, if I knew it.

Then he would have heard no more of it, but I was not willing to pass it by and let him go so; for the charge was great. Prove it, I said, or confess your error.

So he asked what we must be tried by; it was answered, “By the rule of the church.” He acquiesced with that, and so did I. Then I asked him what that rule was; but he seemed evasive and would not answer; but another that sat by said it was the Scriptures. The Papist said no. Then I asked him again what he said the rule was; to which he made no answer. I asked: “Is it the pope?” "No," he said. I asked if it was the church?; he answered no; and so I agreed, for the church was to be ruled by the rule, therefore could not be the rule. But I asked again what he said was the true church's rule ? But he seemed loath to answer; but being urged, he said tradition was the rule. Tradition? I said, but what was the rule before there was tradition, for there must have been the elders, before there was the tradition of the elders. And I said that the rule is a firm, stable, standing rule, from the beginning of the world to the end, that does not alter or change, which cannot be added to or taken from. All this he seemed to have little or nothing to reply against. The company asked me to tell them what I believed this rule was. And in answer to their request, I told them that it was the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of Truth, which was in the beginning, and was God, and is God, and changes not; and since our Lord Jesus Christ suffered death for us, and rose again, this Spirit is poured forth upon all flesh, (see Acts 2). This is what guided Enoch, so that he obtained testimony that he pleased God. This has been the guide, rule and leader of all the patriarchs, prophets and the holy men of God, who spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, or Spirit of Truth, which leads and guides the true church into all truth, and all true worship is in it. And as many as are led and guided by the Spirit of God, they are the sons and daughters of God. This was and is the true church's rule; and if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his; so this that is the guide of the church, must be the rule; he that works by a rule is guided by it and ruled by it. This is what baptizes men into the church or body of Christ; of which the children of God are born, and are nourished by, so that it gives them life, and inspires them, and gives them understanding, manifesting to every man what is for his profit and welfare, and is freely given. The apostles were ministers or servants of it; this brings men into the adoption, and enables them to call God Father, and to say truly, that Jesus is the Lord, it directs men to obey, and enables them to do the will of God; this is grace and a free gift to all, and if they will, they may come and drink abundantly of it, for it is a fountain of living water. Since men have turned from it, and run after blind guides, they oppose it and one another, and are confounded! Having lost the rule, the true guide, they cry, Lo here, and lo there, and are out of love and charity one with another, and one is for one head and ruler, and another for another head; so every head would rule, and there being many heads and horns, even to admiration, they are pushing at one another, and in Babylon is found all the blood of the saints and martyrs of Jesus; but the true church is full of love and good will to all mankind - with much more to that purpose. Upon this converse the company believed that the Spirit of Truth was the rule and guide; at which point the popish priest desired that he and I might be at peace, and would have no more discussion.

After this, two men of the church of England, who wished me well, came to see me, and sent for me into the jailer's hall; but before I came, another Papist, that had been tried for counterfeiting coins, got into converse with them, and vilified their church sadly, and was very high. Then I asked if it can’t be shown that the pope of Rome is in the apostle Peter's spirit, would they concede that that he could not be Peter's successor? The Papist answered yes. Then I asked him if Simon Magus was not out of Peter's spirit, who thought that the gift of God could be bought and sold for money? He replied yes. "Then," I said, "the pope is in Simon Magus's spirit, and not in Peter's, for he has the same idea, (to gain money from giving the Spirit);" but he said no, the pope did not think that way. "Then," I said, "he is worse than Simon Magus, because he makes people believe they will obtain the Spirit; else, why does he take money for his bulls, pardons, and indulgences?" To this neither he nor the popish priest that stood by, said a word more, but went away; and the Episcopalian men were glad.

After this a Jesuit with another priest and two more Papists came to the prison. One day the Jesuit showed me a place in a book, which spoke of a man being born of the Spirit and of water. I asked him why he showed me that, and he answered so that I could see that a man must be born of water as well as of the Spirit. I asked him what water? He said baptismal water. "What!" I said, "earthly water?" He said yes. "Then," I said, "do you believe that earthly water has virtue in it to help to make a man a new creature?" To which He said, yes. Then I denied their baptism, and told him he could not prove that our Saviour Christ ever baptized any with water, or commanded any man to baptize with water; and told him to either prove or yield; but he could not prove their baptism, and to yield he was not willing. So I left him to search the Scriptures for a proof. After this he fell on me sharply, about the eucharist or sacrament, as they call it, of bread and wine. He told me, that after the words of consecration, so called, by the priest, (we read of no such words in Scripture), the bread was really, corporeally, and substantially the very flesh of Christ, and the wine his very blood, urging Christ's words, "Take, eat, this is my body." I told him, Christ also said, "The flesh profits nothing, it is the Spirit which gives life; the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life; and he that has the Son, has life; but he that has not the Son, has not life. But the apostle speaking of the children of Israel, 1 Cor 10, says, they were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and they did all eat the same spiritual meat, and did all drink the same spiritual drink; for they drank of that spiritual Rock which followed them, and that Rock was Christ. Now, if it is the same, it is spiritual, and not, as you say, corporeal; and if it is not the same, the apostle did not speak truly. This put him to silence, for he dared not say the apostle lied; and if so, then it was the same, and if the same, then not the very flesh of Christ corporeally. So he was silent a while; at last he said, "Well, for my part, I know nothing of spiritual eating or drinking." Then, I said, there is no need to further talk with you. Another time he began to converse with me, asking me if I did not believe in a purgatory, where all go before they can go to heaven. He said there was a place of purging after this life, and there were three sorts of people went into purgatory; one sort were so holy, that they went strait through it into heaven, for their works did abide, and they had reward of the same; another sort was so unholy, that they went strait through purgatory into hell; and there was a third sort, the most numerous, who were neither so holy, as to go strait to heaven, nor so very unholy as to go strait to hell, and those stayed in purgatory fire, until they were made clean, and suffered loss, because their works did not abide when they were tried by fire, yet they were saved but so as by fire; alluding to the apostle's words, that every man's work should be tried by fire, of what sort it is, wood, hay, or stubble; 1 Cor 3:12-14. Then he queried, "Can any man's work be tried before it is done?" I said no. Then he said, "Can a man's work be said to be done before he is dead?" I said no. "Well then," he said, "if a man's work cannot be tried before it is done, as it cannot, nor done before he is dead, it must be tried after he is dead, and it must be tried by fire, therefore it must be purgatory fire." I asked him what sort of fire it was, whether like that before us, which was a coal fire, elementary fire? He said yes. "I had never heard before," I said, "that a coal fire could try men's works, or that it would burn to all eternity."

Now the Lord was pleased to appear, for I felt him near me, and he opened my understanding, and I labored to show him from the holy Scriptures, that men were to know a being baptized into Christ's death, and to become dead to sin while here, and be buried with him by baptism into death; that like as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together, said the apostle, in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection; knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin : Rom. 6. The apostle said, "How can you that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?" So the old man being crucified, death has no more dominion over you; and he that enters into Christ, the true rest, ceases from his own works, as God did from his; Christ works in him, for he is all in all. The baptism of Christ is with the Holy Ghost and fire; and he will purge away the filth of the daughter of Zion with the spirit of judgment and burning; and the day of the Lord shall burn as an oven; and Jacob shall become a flame, and the house of Esau stubble; and the Lord shall sit as a refiner's fire, and like a fuller with soap, and take away the filth of the daughter of Zion, and purely purge away her dross, and take away her tin. The Lord said by his prophet, "I will make a man more precious than gold, than the golden wedge of Ophir;" and that he would purify the sons of Levi. The word of the Lord is as a fire and a hammer, to break the rocks asunder; and our God is a consuming fire to all the workers of iniquity, and reveals himself in flames of fire, to render vengeance upon all that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord makes all things new; and if any man be in Christ he is a new creature; old things are done away, and become as dross and dung in comparison of Christ. So that man loses all his own works, for they cannot abide the trial; but Christ is, of God, made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption; and if any man glory, he must glory in the Lord, for out of him there is none. This must be done or known in this life, in the day time, for the day shall declare it, and the fire try every man's work, of what sort it is. Therefore, said Christ, "Work while it is day, for the night cometh wherein no man can work." There are twelve hours in the day, in which a man may work, but there is neither work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave, where you go; therefore, whatsoever your hand find to do, do it with your might, for as the tree falls so it shall be, and as death leaves judgment finds, and in the grave there is no repentance. The grave cannot praise the Lord, death cannot celebrate him, they that go down into the pit cannot hope for his Truth, but they that die in the Lord are blessed; and they that are in Christ need no purgatory after death, having washed their garments, and made them white in his own blood. Nothing else can cleanse people, or save them from their sins, for there is no other way to God but by him, neither is there any can save from death, and give life eternal, but Jesus Christ.

Much more was said than I can now remember. But he was ignorant and not acquainted with these things, that he had no resource to oppose me or deny what I said; so his purgatory was all thrown aside as an invention of men, and their pretending to pray men out of purgatory is all a cheat by which to get money, and all their pardons are nothing but deceit, for the Lord only has power to forgive sin. Much opened in my mind, and all he could say came to nothing; so we parted friendly.

Oh! blessed be the Lord, who has discovered the great deceiver, and all her abominations; and the false prophet, with all his transformings are seen, and both thrown down to the earth together. She is full of the blood of the saints and martyrs of Jesus, and she thirsts for more; but the Lord has a remnant that have come out of her, and refuse to partake with her of her sins, for fear that they should partake with her of her plagues; for strong is the Lord God Almighty, that judges her.

I also had good service with many other people, and sometimes got to some meetings at Little-Eaton and other places, but I did not write down what passed in all places, only some things of note.

I wrote to the priests of Derby, about the rude, wicked practices in which the people of that town lived for they made bonfires; and one year they carried about a thing they called the pope, and then burnt it in the fire, and the next year they carried about a thing they called Presbyter John, and burnt that also; and these things, with many others I beheld in the town, grieved me very much.

*Site Editor's Comment: Regarding Halloween. One fall evening in while I was in Switzerland, there suddenly appeared log fires on many of the surrounding hills and mountain sides. The logs were arranged in a roofless, rectangular log house, with large gaps between the logs. Inside the log structure could be seen an image of a dummy of man. I asked the long-time residents what was the meaning of these fires, and they replied it was an ancient annual occurrence, for which they did not know why. Curious, I researched the phenomenon and found the origin of a bonfire to be a bone fire of the Druid priesthood. Every fall the pagan Celts celebrated Samhain, at the beginning of the "darker half of the year," the end of summer. The Druid priests would visit each household at night, coming with candles in gourds (jack-o-lanterns of Halloween) requesting gifts (animals or children) for the gods; the candles were made from the fat of sacrificed humans. The same priests also decided who would be the human sacrifices to the gods that year; sacrifices were required to keep the gods happy. So each household attempted to be very cooperative or face being cursed or selected as a human sacrifice, (trick or treat of Halloween). The unfortunate souls selected to appease the gods were sacrificed by being placed in a wooden stockade (wicca cages) and then burnt to death in the stockade conflagration, dramatically visible to all, particularly in the mountainous regions. While people and animals were screaming in agony, being burnt to death, the druids and their followers would dress in costumes made of animal skins and heads. They would dance, chant and jump through the flames in the hope of warding off evil spirits. This occurred throughout Europe for the Druids were in control of most of Europe. The Roman sect, in an attempt to capture the traditions of pagan religion and appeal to more people, converted this day to All Saints Day.

This variation in England of burning the pope and Presbyter John is obviously of the same origin.

About this time the priests in their pulpits preached aloud, that active obedience must be practiced by all the king's subjects. And one Henry Ward having been one day with the mayor, came to me in the evening, and told me that the mayor said, we must obey the king actively; so that if the king did command us to worship Mahomet, we ought to do it; and if it was amiss, it would be the king's fault, and not ours.

At this time the Act for twenty pounds per month was put in execution, against those who were rich, or such whom the prosecutors were minded to afflict; upon which one Burrows of Derby, to avoid suffering, conformed; and there was scarcely a man in that town, according to the remarks I then made upon them, who was willing to be reputed a Presbyterian, for they had no meeting in or about that town, unless it was secret.

Such is the cowardice of men, whose religion is built upon the tradition and inventions of men, and not upon Christ; for from this it is plain, how needful it is for men to lay their building upon that Rock, which neither the windy doctrines of men, nor the swelling waves of persecution are able to move.

In this time of my confinement, several people resorted to me in prison on first-days, and we had good meetings there; for though the ministers of the gospel may be shut up in jails for the testimony's sake, yet the word of God cannot be bound, for it had free course, and was glorified.

This prison was made easy to me, and things were well at home with my dear wife and family; and though she was a tender woman, yet she was enabled, through mercy, to keep markets, to carry on our business for a livelihood; she also came sometimes to see me in prison, though it was sixteen miles, which was bad for her in the winter season.

While I was a prisoner I wrote a little book, which I entitled The Prisoner's Vindication, also some epistles and letters to Friends, and meditations in verse, for my children. The reason why I wrote some remarkable passages of my sufferings for Truth, and also the great things which the Lord has wrought for me, both in supporting me therein, and delivering me out of, is that my children and others may be encouraged to be faithful to the Lord, and valiant for the Truth upon the earth; for this cause it came into my mind, to tell to others how good the Lord has been to me, for which I am deeply engaged to praise his great name.

[The following extract is taken from the work above alluded to.]

To all Persecutors, both by words and actions.

Upon the 16th day of the Sixth month, called August, 1680; I being at Bakewell about my trading, it being a fair, was arrested by two or three bailiffs, by virtue of a writ of Excommunicato Capiendo, for not coming to the parish church, so called, and not appearing at the Spiritual court. I had appeared there several times and offered the parish priest that if by clear Scripture he could make it appear I was in an error, I would take him for my friend. And further, that if he could make it appear from clear Scripture, that it was my duty in the sight of God to come to the parish church and conform to them, I would do it. But he did not find it his business to seek to inform me at that time, or any other, being not so charitable as to ask me come another time and then he would discuss it with me. Although after this I was never cited to the court again, yet upon the day before mentioned, I was sent to Derby jail where I remain a prisoner.

After I was sent to prison, many false charges were flung after me, to render me and Truth odious to the country people, who were ready to wonder why they should send such a peaceable man to prison. I was by my persecutors highly accused to be an heretic, a factious fellow, the ringleader of a factious people, a blasphemer, an enemy to Caesar, a dangerous fellow, and a spreader of dangerous principles, and what not. Their purpose in all these accusations was to make the people think poorly of me, and believe against their better judgment that I was some dangerous man; insomuch, that they said, I was not fit to live, especially not fit to be loose in the country; for by keeping me in prison, they had hopes to scatter the rest of dissidents to the Church of England. At the hearing of these malicious and false calumnies, I was grieved, not for myself, but others, who I heard were ready to think badly of me; because such reports had gained some credit with some, who were thought both wise and sober, and they believed them, because others believed them. Those others believed them because my persecutors, who are looked upon by most to be spiritual men, reported them among these uncharitable men. Not one came to show me my reported sad condition, but in prison I must lie, come what will come of wife and children. My wife went with two friends more to the Arch-Deacon, so called, and showed him the unreasonableness of my suffering and the need of my liberty; but his words were great charges as before said, though he never conversed about religion in his life. It is true, he also said, that he would come to me and converse me, and if I was in the right, and he in the wrong, I should come out of prison, and he would go in for me; but he yet fails to make his words good. I do declare to all that may read these lines that if I cannot make it appear that he is wrong, and I right, I then will be content to stay where I am; only I would be judged by men unprejudiced against the Truth, such as are not partial, and make no outward gain [monetary profit] of the Scriptures. Many others have desired my release, some by letters, and some person appeals; but all fails except I will conform and pay the charges they have been at in laying me in prison; which thing I cannot, and dare not do. For, first, I believe I ought not to conform to the worship that is now maintained by the priests of this nation by their preaching and practice, which is not supported by their own purses (money); for both they and their worship has cost the people dearly. Secondly, I believe, that though they call my way of worship heresy, yet I believe it is the true worship of God; and I do find by good and great experience, that the Lord God of heaven and earth, who is a Spirit, does approve and own it so to be. For the worship I own and believe is the true worship of God, that is spoken of in John 4:23-24. They that worship God must worship him in spirit and in truth; and said our Saviour, the Father seeks such to worship him. Thirdly, seeing our Lord, Christ Jesus, did set up, appoint and command this worship, therefore I believe I ought not to leave it, and run to another worship, that is no where commanded in Scripture, either by Christ or any of his apostles, thinking thereby to save my estate, and to live at liberty in the world, and enjoy those natural rights and privileges of which I am a free-born heir to and which I note that the drunkard, swearer, cursor and proud wicked person is not deprived of, though he is so wicked. Lastly, seeing I do those things I believe I ought to do, and have not given any just occasion of offence, or done wrong to any man; therefore I cannot consider myself to be at fault and give monies for a pardon to those, who while they are pardoning others, by which they are committing the highest sins they can approach unto. If I have sinned, it is against God, and to him I look for mercy; but in this I am not by him accused or judged as a sinner, but owned and justified by him, and can say, it is God that justifies me, who shall condemn me? Now should I come to my persecutors, and own myself an offender, and buy their absolution, and conform to their invented ceremonies, then should I by so doing give God's spirit and my own heart and conscience the lie; from which, I hope, without offence I may take the liberty to say, good Lord preserve me.

But seeing I must have no better treatment from my persecutors than a prison, which indeed is the way of argument that the false prophets in all ages have taken, with things of the like nature, as fines, whips, lions' dens, fiery furnaces, faggots, and such like; I desire they will be pleased to allow me to treat them with a few arguments, which are in my mind, and when I have done, I shall leave them to do, as it shall please God to suffer them, as to me, and desire they may consider and consult their own profit eternally, and not forget, that before long, both they and I must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, to give an account of the deeds done in the body, whether they be good or evil.

And first, I enquire of you that persecute me and others, whether if it was so, as you say falsely it is, that I was a heretic, a factious fellow, etc., what precept or example you have from Christ or his apostles, to lay me in prison, seeing I am a peaceable man and just in my dealing, and pay to Caesar his due, as many that know me will witness? But instead of a command for persecution, does not our Lord Christ prohibit it several times? It may be you will say, it is no persecution that is done in this kind to an erroneous person, etc., though it may be, for all he is so called by you, who call light darkness and darkness light, he is a true Christian, and servant of Jesus Christ. Does not Christ prohibit all manner of violence, cruelty, imposition and the like, when he tells his followers to love their enemies, which prohibits persecuting their friends; and whatever they would that men should do unto them, to do so unto men, saying, this is the law and the prophets. He also said, with what measure you use (or give), it shall be measured to you again? Is it obeying Christ's command to lay men in prison? You would not be so done unto for your faithless faith and worthless worship. Though you profess to love God, yet while you in works deny him, I shall not much heed your profession; for he is a true lover of him that keeps his commandments, as will be found one day, when those that pretended to preach and prophesy in his name, and in his name to cast out devils, shall be told to depart from him, as workers of iniquity. And if those that preach and prophesy in his name, and in his name cast out devils, are sent away from him, because they, for all that, were workers of iniquity, what do you think will be the portion of those that preach and prophesy in man's name, and by man's authority only are held up; and instead of casting devils out, tell people, they must live in sin all their lives, and make the people content to let the devil keep the house, hurry them on into iniquity, transgression and sin all the days of their lives; and for all this, tell those very people that they are Christians, and though they do those things they ought not, and leave undone those things they ought to do, and are miserable offenders, in whom there is no health, yet while they put into the priest's mouth, are owned as a dear brother and sister, and so called when they are buried by him, though it may be they have killed themselves in a drunken bout. О! how dreadful will the end of these things be! It is a grief to my spirit to think of it.

But further, did not Christ command that both tares and wheat should grow together? And do not these two words, wheat and tares comprehend all mankind? What can you make for your practices here ? If I am a tare, you should let me alone until the day of the harvest; for what have you to do with another man's servant; to his own master he stands or falls. Christ Jesus showed a reason also, why he would have men to let them alone, and both grow together; for, he said, for fear that while you pluck up the tares, you root out the wheat also. This clearly shows that men may be mistaken, especially those that have not an infallible spirit; for it is the spirit of God that is infallible, which searches and makes all things manifest, even the deep things of God. We have had sufficient experience, that under pretence of plucking up the tares, which is contrary to Christ's command, the devil has labored with all his might, to root the wheat out of the world; and though Christ said, he came not to destroy men's lives, but to save them, yet the devil came to kill and destroy men's lives, not to save them. Christ rebuked his disciples, when they would have called fire from heaven, and told them, they did not know what spirit they were of. My kingdom, he said, is not of this world. He did not come to be Lord and King in an outward manner, and make men yield to him by outward force, for if so, then would his servants fight; but he came to set up his kingdom in the hearts of men. It was promised by the Lord, that he would give him for a covenant to the people, and would create new hearts in them, and write his laws in them, and put his fear in their inward parts, and be their God. So when Christ came, he said to them, the kingdom of heaven is within you; and said the prophet, he shall sit as a refiner's fire, and fuller's soap; what for but to purify the heart, that it may offer an offering in righteousness? It is true, the apostles in their weakness, did forbid those that they found casting out devils in his name, because they did not follow him; but did Christ approve of it? No, he rebuked them, saying, he that is not against me, is for me.* I think this might be taken notice of by you priests, who persecute me and others; since you have seen some of your drunken hearers become very sober men, after they have come to hear the Quakers, as you call us, preach. Some of your swearers, cursing, proud, profane hearers become very careful people, both in words and deeds; and what! does this grieve you? I think you should realize such men as these, that prevail so upon people's hearts to be good men, men of your side, if you are for God, and should, like Christ, whom you call your Lord and Master, rather rebuke such as forbid us, than forbid us yourselves. When, like Peter, John, and Paul, we dare not but speak the things we hear and see and are commanded, not then to take us and put us in prison; and so stop the mouths of them God has opened, and be angry with them, though they do what they do freely, and look for no part of your great revenues. Remember, you do not desire to be similarly treated; and also it is worth your taking notice, that those our Saviour Christ whipped out of the temple, were buyers and sellers; what would you think, if such must be whipped out of your steeple-houses now, and only those were admitted to preach, who would preach freely! But though he whipped such out of the temple, as before said, yet we never read that he whipped any into the temple; or that if any would not come to that place, he imprisoned them, or fined them, or the like. No, he was a Shepherd, tender and loving to them. If any go astray, his way to fetch them in by his ever gentle calls to them, in reproving, rebuking and checking them in their hearts by his spirit, and following them with his righteous judgments in their inward man.

*Casting out devils in the name of Jesus is one thing to be tolerated. However, if someone preached a different way to salvation, they were to be firmly rebuked and stopped - even cursed. Paul said: For there are many insubordinate, both idle talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision,whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole households, teaching things which they ought not, for the sake of dishonest gain. One of them, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” Titus 1:10-12. And Paul said: if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. Gal 1:9

So that for want of true peace with God, many have returned again to him, who shows them how they offend; and when they return, there is more joy in heaven over one sinner that repents, than over ninety-nine just persons which need no repentance. Just persons; mark that! Such persons as these do not exist in your church of miserable offenders. But let me ask you, is not faith the gift of God? And what is not of faith, is sin; is it not ? If so, then I ask, what you would gain if you could make a man choose to conform to your worship, which contrary to his faith and conscience, just so that he would not lose his enjoyments of wife, children, liberty and estate. Would this not make no more than hypocrite, one that seemed to be what he is not? No, may I not say any better than a heretic; for I take him to be a heretic that is condemned of himself, that allows himself to do what he condemns himself for. This way of persecuting men for their faith and conscience, is the way to bring some to become hypocrites and heretics, and this is the way such men have gone in, to hold up their idolatry and superstition in all ages; witness Baal's prophets. The old serpent knows this well enough; therefore it was said in the revelation, the devil shall cast some of you into prison. Some of whom are the servants and faithful witnesses of Jesus, who would not, and could not worship the beast. But further, suppose I wanted faith and a right understanding of the things that belong to my everlasting peace, do you think that a prison will be a means to bring me into the true faith? Can the prison walls rectify my understanding, or give me faith and wisdom? Did ever Christ command the use of a prison or fine, or anything of that nature, to men that would not hear him, or believe him? What ground have you for this? Show us your foundation for these actions, and bring command, precept or example for them from Christ or his servants, and then I shall think better of you; but if not, let me tell you, one day you may find your portion to be what the prophet said, Woe to him that spoils, and is not spoiled. Therefore I could gladly desire, even in pity to your own souls, that you would consider your doings; not that I am so much grieved for my own sufferings for truth's sake; no, though my poor wife and children are near and dear to me, yet blessed be the Lord, I have faith in God concerning them, and believe he will take care for them and me too, and can trust the Lord upon all accounts, blessed be his name forever! Though it is hard, and will be so found one day to you that part me from them, to be stripped from them for my obedience to God, and laid in prison, and by you reported to be one of the worst of men. О! this is the way and manner which the serpent and his instruments of old took with the servants of Jesus Christ; witness Paul's accusers, and persecutors. "We," they said, "have found this man a pestilent fellow, a mover of sedition, a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes" .. And the great rabbis of those days, the Scribes, Pharisees, high priests and rulers, that persecuted our great Lord and Master Jesus Christ, accused him to be an enemy to Caesar, a blasphemer, and a deceiver. And you that are my persecutors, are not you much like these men before said, who persecuted Christ and his apostles and cried to the rulers for help in your proceedings against me? And though some of you never saw me as I know of, and none of you ever came to converse me, or see how I was mistaken as to my faith and principles; yet you can fling it out, that I am a dangerous person, a deceiver, and run up and down the country to delude people. These your false charges will one day be remembered, except you repent, which I desire you may.

Consider your doings, and see who you run parallel with; you are only men, you may be mistaken, seeing you are not led by an infallible spirit, and therefore cannot be sure you are in the right. But you go by conjectures, and rest upon the judgment of ancient fathers, reverend divines, as some call them, heathen authors, or else your own conceivings, or the like, and yet are uncertain, and leave the people unsatisfied, and so manifest yourselves to be such as are not sent with the Lord's message, received from God himself, as by your uncertain mouthing of high words is manifest to every one whose eyes the Lord has opened. So that there is great danger, if I should leave Christ the true light and teacher of men, who now appears by his pure spirit in my heart, and shows me the things that belong to my peace, and follow you, I should then be led, both in principle and practice, to do those things I ought not, and leave undone those things I ought to do; and then I could not escape being a miserable sinner and offender, in whom there is no health.

Suppose I should, contrary to my faith and knowledge, come to you, and live and die in error, for fear of being kept here in prison, and brought to poverty in the world, which, blessed be the Lord, I value not in comparison of my peace with him, the God of peace, and think to plead with God, and say, I did what I did in submission to men's will, who said, they were the ministers of Christ, and was forced to it by the chief priests of our country, and must either submit to their wills, or lie in prison, have my goods seized, and my wife and children impoverished; so that I did what I did only to save my estate, and have my liberty, etc., or else I would not have done it, for it was against my faith and conscience, and because of the fear of man. Will this excuse me? If not, then I ask you, can you excuse me to God, and assure me of it, if I will conform to your worship, and give you money for a pardon of my true obedience to God in disobedience to you? For so indeed the case lies; if you cannot excuse me, if you should or could force me to sin against God, then why should not I, who am a peaceable man, and wrong no man, but love all men, have my liberty to live as I dare to die? Seeing I must answer for myself, and stand or fall to my own master, what have you to do to judge me, who am the Lord's servant? I must stand or fall to him I serve; how dare you smite your fellow servants, and cast them into prison who have done you no wrong, nor owe you anything but love, when he that put his fellow servant in prison, who owed him an hundred pence, was so severely judged of his Lord, who had forgiven him a greater debt ? And He has taught us to use those words in prayer, forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us. And would you not have God answer your own desire?

Consider these things, and learn to do as you would be done unto; for with the same measure you mete, it shall be measured to you again. Remember what your Savior laid down as great offences at the last day, to those on the left hand, Go you cursed into everlasting torment with the devil and his angels; or, depart from me, you workers of iniquity, I know you not; for I was an hungered, and you gave me no meat; thirsty, and you gave me no drink; naked, and you clothed me not; sick, and in prison, and you visited me not. And when they answered, when did we see you as hungered, thirsty, naked, and did not minister unto you? He told them, inasmuch as you did it not to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it not to me. By which it is clear, he takes what is done to his followers as done to himself; for indeed it is for his sake, who teaches us to live righteously, soberly and godly in this present evil world; and because we obey him, and keep his command, therefore are we hated of all men for his name's sake. But the wicked are not thus treated by you; the swearer, liar, drunkard, proud person, etc., are left at liberty, and in these days are the men in fashion. But if it is so great an offence not to visit the servants of Christ, when in distress; what will it become of those that sentence them in prison, and keep them there, which is a means to bring them into nakedness, hunger, thirst and sickness? Was it not said, that it were better a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than to offend one of those little ones that believed in Christ. What then will his portion be that not only offends them, but persecutes them, imprisons them, spoils their goods, belies and slanders their person, and misrepresents them to the world, takes the righteousness of the righteous from him, and takes him from his dear wife and children, and causes them to suffer also; though it is said, Cursed is he that parts man and wife. What excuse can you make at the last day for these things! How unlike are you to him who is good to all men, and laid down his life a ransom for all, and does cause his sun to shine upon all, and his rain to descend upon all, and his grace that brings salvation appears in all, and strives with all.

I was a prisoner for the gospel's sake here above five years and a half before I was set at liberty, by King James II. I was discharged in open court, the 23rd of the first month, 1635-6. Then I went home to my wife, but after I had stayed a while, I was concerned to visit friends, and traveled through most parts of this nation, except Cornwall, and was also in some parts of Wales. I had also many meetings in and about Eastwood, Nottinghamshire, and many were convinced, and became obedient to the blessed truth. But the priest of Eastwood hearing a great rumor about Friends, as also that many of his hearers left him, told his son who was also a priest and sometimes preached in his father's absence, to preach the same doctrine which I did; but when he attempted to preach as his father had advised him, he was so confounded in his matter, that he could not go on. It happened one day, that I had a very large meeting at the house of Luke Hanks, where I heard that this priest of Eastwood said that I had stolen his sheep from him, meaning some of those who had been his hearers. After meeting I went to a friend's house, but that night the priest sent his clerk, asking me to come to his house, where I went, and several friends along with me. When we came there, we were invited to sit down, which we did, and sat a while in silence; until the priest of Heynor, who had followed us there, spoke to the priest of Eastwood, saying, he perceived that I was sent for to him, that he might speak with me; upon which the young priest asked me, how I was called to be a preacher. But before I answered his question, he added, “I grant that a man may be rightly called, though not of God; for," he said, "the king's call is sufficient." At which a friend, who was present, said, “I suppose this king has called none of you.” “No,” replied the priest, “I believe he will call you before any of us.” I then said that I denied that any man can be rightly called, if he is not called of God, as was Aaron; and this I was willing to prove by Scripture. The priest of the house labored to help his son out, but he ran himself into the same snare, for they were not able to prove that any man was rightly called to preach, unless he was called of God. We talked further until they were both silent and confounded; in this silence a concern came upon me, on which I stood up and preached truth among them, and when I had done, the priests gave me their hands, and we parted friendly; when we were gone, the priest's wife was angry with them, saying, they sent for me like fools, and let me go like fools; but if ever I came again, she threatened, that she would either burn or scald me. After this I heard that the priest of Heynor fell into great trouble of mind, and was confounded in his pulpit.

I visited Friends in Lancashire, [and several other parts] and the Lord was with me in his great love and mercy, else my travels had been tiresome and unpleasant, but the Lord helped me many a time; yes, the living know it, and met with him to their comfort, else meeting with me could have done little, for the work was the Lord's, and he wrought in us and for us, of his own good pleasure; glory, honor and praise are wholly due to him.

After this I went into Cheshire, and to Chester again, where I had been exercised, and where there was now more openness than formerly.

I went to Chester several times after, and had good meetings there, through the Lord's goodness and mercy, who made them so with his precious presence, according to his blessed testimony; that wherever two or three are met together in his name, there is he in the midst of them. This I have witnessed many a time; for if the Lord had not been with us, we could have done nothing without him. He was mouth and wisdom to us, and gave us to understand Scripture, and also the motion of his holy Spirit, inspiring us by it; for we spoke as it moved us, and gave us utterance. Renowned and exalted over all, be our gracious God; for we came not with words of our own wisdom, or with words which man's wisdom teaches or taught us, but with words which the Holy Ghost gave us, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

I went to most meetings in the county of Cheshire; and a fine people there were, and much love, unity, peace and concord were among Friends.

After this I traveled in several counties in England, both east, west and south; and through other counties northward; as Worcestershire and Staffordshire in my return home, and found Friends in great love and unity, and many were convinced. Truth prospered, and we were sweetly refreshed and comforted together; for we were an help and a strength one to another, and the body edified itself in love; blessed and praised be the name of our God forever.

I went much abroad to meetings, and traveled around to the utmost of my ability in most parts of the nation, preaching the gospel freely; and I also traveled into Wales, and through great part of it, where we many good meetings. We were in great danger in passing over the water at Aust into Gloucestershire, but through mercy, got safely to John Bolton's, at Ouldstone, and visited most meetings in that county. I was at Frenchay, and from there to Bristol, and was at many good meetings in Somersetshire, and in Devonshire, as far as Exeter, where a fine meeting and a house had been newly built. I traveled through several counties to London. The Lord in great mercy favored me with his power and presence, to my great comfort and joy. After the yearly meeting at London, I went into Hertfordshire and Essex, and to and fro in Suffolk, Norfolk, as far as Yarmouth, and back to Norwich, and up and down in that county to Downham and Lynn, and into the Isle of Ely, Cambridgeshire, Huntingtonshire, Northamptonshire, Leicestershire and Rutland, into Lincolnshire, to Boston and Lincoln city, and through most of that great county. So into Nottinghamshire, and then into Derbyshire home. Having traveled in great love, many in this journey were turned to the Lord, from the evil of their ways, as at many other times and places, where I traveled, and though I often came home much spent, weak and weary, yet I had my reward with me, my sheaves in my bosom, and usually was soon better when I had rested a while.

I had it upon me to go and visit Friends in Scotland; and accordingly I went by Halifax, Leeds and York, where I met Thomas Aldam, who accompanied me. We went to North Allerton, Yarm, Stockton, Bishop Auckland and Durham; there to Newcastle upon Tyne, where we had great meetings; was at Sunderland, and many places in Northumberland, which I cannot name. We came to Berwick, where the rude people disturbed the meeting, breaking the windows, but a lady who dwelt in Northumberland, being there, went to the magistrates of the town, upon which the rabble were rebuked. Next day we went to Kelso, and had a quiet meeting. James Holliday went with us to Edinburgh, where we were at their yearly meeting for that nation, and it was a comfortable opportunity; the next meeting we had was at Montrose; we had also another meeting before we came to Ury, where the widow of Robert Barclay dwelt. There we stayed several days, in which time I observed, that when her children were up in the morning and dressed, she sat down with them before breakfast, and in a religious manner waited upon the Lord; which pious care and the motherly instruction of her children, when young, doubtless had its desired effect upon them; for as they grew in years, they also grew in the knowledge of the blessed Truth, and since that time some of them are become public preachers of the Truth.

From there we went to Aberdeen, and found a fine meeting of Friends, and stayed there some time; there to John Forbes's, and to Cashore, Kingswells, and back to Aberdeen, Ury and Montrose, Dundee, Leith and Edinburgh, at which place they stoned us, when we were quietly in the meeting. Then we went to Lithgow, and so to Charles Hambleton's, the duke's servant; from there we came to Durand, and a town where there was a meeting-house, in which we had a meeting. Then we went to Glasgow, where the people were wicked, and there to Hambleton, where we had a good meeting; so to Argyle and Douglass, and to one James Wood's house, where we had a meeting; and he came with us by Dumfries into England. The Lord in mercy helped me mightily with his heavenly power, and gave us many precious meetings up and down in that nation, though I felt the Scotch people in a bitter, envious spirit in several places, and we were in perils twice, both at Edinburgh and Glasgow, where they stoned us. At Edinburgh a stone hit me as I was declaring in the meeting, but did not hurt me.

After our return out of Scotland, we had many good meetings in Cumberland, which were comfortable seasons to us; for the Comforter was with us, and mightily helped us from meeting to meeting. From there we traveled to Kendal, the Height, and Swarthmore, where we had a fine meeting; we were also at Lancaster, from which place we returned back again to Kendal, and passed from there to Thomas Camm's, and into Yorkshire, to John Blakling's near Sedberg, and by William Ellis's to Skipton, from whence we went to Leeds and Warnsworth, where I left my companion, Thomas Aldam, and returned home, and there found my wife and family well, to my great comfort; praised be the Lord forever.

Friends in Scotland and elsewhere were very loving to us, and fine living meetings there were in that nation. I felt them in the life near to my spirit, in which the living know one another beyond words, and I hope and believe the Lord will have a great people there in time to come, though the enemy is angry, and would hinder the spreading of the holy Truth, by the enemies thereof; you his weapons are but carnal, silly and weak. I desire many Friends may think of that nation, and in the will of God give up to visit there; for is a zealous professing people there, and if they were only brought to the knowledge of the Truth, I believe very many would be zealous for it.

I found that those two worthy men, Robert Barclay and Patrick Livingston, had left a sweet savor behind them, and the removing of them, especially the former, was a great loss to that nation, and cause of great mourning to Friends there, and also to others elsewhere; but blessed be God that Robert Barclay has left a hopeful family behind him; praises be given to the Lord forever.

In this year I had a concern to visit Friends with the following lines.

An Epistle to Friends in Scotland, written at Monyash, the 22nd of the eleventh month, 1694.

Truly beloved friends and brethren,

With pure love unfeigned, which springs from the Fountain thereof, do I tenderly salute you, and all true Friends with you, feeing you near and dear to me at all times when I remember you; and am glad that the God and Fountain of all our mercies, has reached forth so plentifully to your immortal souls, and made you so largely to partake with us of his free grace and gift of eternal life, so that your portions and measures hereof are very large, to the mutual joy of you, me, and many more, for which we are deeply obliged to be truly thankful unto our God, from whom every good and perfect gift comes. Unto him alone we ought still to look, that as men in need of continual supply, we may experience his bountiful hand to minister freely to every one of us for it is he alone that both makes and keeps us and all his, truly living, faithful, fruitful and serviceable in this blessed day of his mighty power, wherein as we abide we have fellowship both with him and one with another. The travail and earnest desire of my soul to the Lord is, that we may all be preserved to the end in true self-denial, humbly, meekly and innocently walking in this glorious day of gospel light, life and power, so as we may help one another's joy; and the blessed unity of his holy Spirit being lived in, no man can take our joy from us, which is only possessed by us as we abide in him, who is life eternal, to whom be praise given by us and all that partake with us, forever, Amen.

Many are the exercises, temptations, sufferings and tribulations which attend us here, both within and without. Well may we say, our God is God and changes not, else before this we might have been destroyed, for we are poor, and weak, and insufficient of ourselves, to think a good thought. The enemy knows this, and labors to deceive us with his subtle wiles; for if we keep not in him who is our wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption, we have no wisdom of our own, or righteousness, or power to save ourselves at all. Oh, the goodness of God to us is without measure! And we see as much need as ever to keep looking unto him for help every moment, for all our time is a time of need; and if the Lord was not with us, we could not bear up against the enemy's floods, tempests and raging violence and storms that attend us in this perilous pilgrimage. But glory, honor, praises, and high returns of humble and sincere thanks be given to our great and merciful God. He is with us, and is the same as he was in ancient days, when he carried Israel through the Red sea on dry ground, and gave them to behold his miraculous deliverance, and saved them out of the hands of their many enemies, who sought to destroy them. The sense of his love, and the experience which I have of his goodness, tenders my poor heart, and bows my spirit before him; and I hope you partake with me, and will also feel with me beyond words or writings.

Dear friends, I desire we may all be mindful of Him who is our rock and refuge, keeping near him always, not forgetting the Lord. Here is divine light, for he dwells in it, and in him is no darkness at all; here we see our states as they are, and that what we are, we are by his grace. Here it is we meet with fresh pastures of life, and feed together, where the enemy cannot come, nor the lofty, unclean Edomite approach. My heart is glad, to feel love run so freely towards you at this time. I do not write these things as though I looked upon you not to know them; no, if I did, I could not be so free and open to you, but a little to remind you, and in these few lines to confer with you in love; for it is the fruits of dear, unfeigned love, I here salute you with, as men that I can say are of my flesh and bones, and members with me, of that sweet, harmonious body, of which Christ Jesus is Head, Lord and King. Worthy is he to reign, it is his right. He that would be great among you, must be least of all; and this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes. Oh! that we may see this low estate by experience, for in that place many have met with him, and been met withal by him, who despises not the low estate of his servants and handmaids. Surely it behooves us to be low, for our teacher is meek and lowly in heart.

My dear and truly beloved, the meek are most filled with love, even that love which is not puffed up, seeks not its own; in that sense the apostle means to lead us to seek the good of all, and the things that are Jesus Christ's. I pray that we may always dwell in this love, and then we shall be sure to love one another. I was glad in heart, when I felt your love to me and my companion in the Lord, when I was present with you; and also when I felt your love kept fresh to us after our departure from you in person, but not in spirit. I was also happy that you remembered me in your prayers; I desire you would still remember me, and I hope I shall not forget you. I desire you as a brother, to keep up the good order of the blessed Truth among you, and let not your monthly and quarterly meetings be neglected, and take care of the whole church of God, in your nation, and delay not to help one another. For God Almighty has set up his standard, and his controversy is proclaimed against all unrighteousness. I know there was a lacking of some help in some places, when I was with you; the Lord has gifted some to be of help, and to rule well in the church; and we know the apostles in their travels left the brethren decrees to keep, and took care of the churches as they traveled, and went to see how they did. I hope you will take it well that I make boldly do the same for you, and will feel my tender love to you.

I was glad when I saw a copy of your letter to G. K., yet sorry to see the answer to you from him, or his wife, or both; he must, it seems, be made manifest. I desire you may grow in the heavenly root, and multiply to the glory of him that has grafted you into it.

My dear friends, in every respect be truly obedient unto the Lord, and may he by his own power strengthen, establish and root you deeply in his blessed Truth. To him I tenderly commit you all. He is God Almighty even now as in Abraham's days; to him be praise, worship, honor, glory and renown forever more, Amen.

Read this to all as you see a service, and send honest Bartholomew Gibson a copy of it, and let him know my dear love is to him and his wife, Francis Soneman, and Friends in Edinburgh. Let copies of it be sent to all in Scotland. I thank God I am pretty healthy, but not strong in body. So with my true love to you all, I am your sincere friend in pure love,

John Gratton

I stayed about home some time, where I had many meetings, and there was a fine increase in the number of Friends. But many of them went into America, about forty from our monthly meeting, and some others, which lessened our meeting pretty much. After some time it came upon me to go and visit Friends in Ireland; several of whom had been in England, and a love lived in me to them. I gave up to go, and went to Westchester in order to it, but found there was an embargo laid upon ships, that they must not go out. When we could not go for Ireland, we went to Shrewsbury, and so down into Herefordshire, R. Needham being with me, and to the yearly meeting in Wales, at Ponty Moyle, in Monmouthshire. A fine meeting it was, and after at the Pont, and so over the passage into Gloucestershire, to Bristol, and into Somersetshire, to Richard Vickris's, at Chew, John Whiting's at Wrington, and William Laurence's at Axbridge, and back to Bristol to the yearly meeting there, and from there to the yearly meeting at London. After that I returned home with my wife, and stayed about seven days, and then set forward again for Ireland with Godfrey Newhall, a Friend of Yorkshire, and went to Whitehaven in Cumberland for George Rook's company, and so to sea; the winds were somewhat contrary, and we were in some danger of our lives; but we put into the Isle of Man, and at last arrived safe at Dublin in the fifth month.

We had many precious meetings in that nation, especially their province meetings, and Friends were generally in sweet love, unity, peace, concord and order, and good government among them, and great love and care of one another's families, the poor and youth in all respects. When we had been at all the meetings of Friends that we knew of in the nation, or seen some Friends of all the meetings, and were clear to come away, we left them in true love, being well satisfied in visiting them; and took shipping at Dublin, and came to Holyhead, and through Wales to Westchester, and so home.

Many Friends in Ireland had a great care upon them in the oversight of the flock, watching over them; reminding Friends to be careful in all respects, to keep their profession without blame, and that none run inordinately after the world, or break in other men's debt; to prevent which they are advised to labor lawfully for the maintenance of their families, providing things honest in the sight of men; by thus watching over one another, doubtless some things are prevented, which otherwise might prove a discredit to our holy profession.

_________________

After his return from Ireland, he kept no exact account of the residue of his travels, though he visited Friends in divers counties, laboring in the work of the gospel, as he found drawings thereto, though in his latter days he was afflicted with disease, which much abated his natural strength; nevertheless he came several times to London, and particularly in the winter, 1699.

He also came to the yearly meeting in 1700; and in his return home had many good meetings in the way, being accompanied by John Cade to Blyth, where his wife met him.

The next year he traveled as far as Bristol, and was at their yearly meeting. From there he went to Bath, and traveled up to London to the yearly meeting, which fell in the fourth month, 1701. It was a large and precious meeting, after which he returned home.

He also came up to the next yearly meeting in London, 1702. At this time he brought up his Treatise relating to Tithes, which was an answer to a letter, entitled, The Clergy's Legal Right to Tithes..

In the year 1703, he came again to the yearly meeting, visiting Friends in many places as he came.

The 26th of the second month, 1704, he set out again for London, visiting Friends in many places as he came, as in Nottinghamshire, Huntingtonshire, the Isle of Ely, and a great part of Norfolk, and had several meetings in Suffolk, the last of which was at Ipswich, from which place he came to Colchester, and was at their meeting on first-day; after which he visited several meetings in Essex, and then came to London to the yearly meeting; having traveled in this journey three hundred and thirty-four miles, according to his own account.

After his return home at this time, there is no account of his traveling for two or three years; greater weakness growing upon him, it is probable he continued about home, visiting Friends as he was able.

In 1707, he disposed of his estate at Monyash, and dwelled with his son Joseph some time; then he went to visit some Friends in several adjacent places, his wife accompanying him, though both of them were aged and weakly. But after they returned home, his wife growing weaker and weaker, departed this life the 4th of the tenth month, 1707; dying in peace with the Lord, leaving a good report behind her, among those who knew her. The account of her death he gave himself, saying, a very comfortable wife she had been to him nearly thirty-eight years; adding, that she had never hindered him from going abroad to visit Friends.

In the year 1708, he took a journey to London again, and went into some parts of Essex, Surry and Kent; after which he returned to London again, where staying some time, he was taken ill, and weakness increasing upon him, he removed out of the city, for the benefit of the air, to Richard Richardson's, near Uxbridge, where he was carefully attended for three weeks, in which time, several Friends of London went to visit him. From this place Daniel Wharley took him to his house; from there he went to Ailsbury, and by small journeys he got home, Richard Needham accompanying him. He continued living with his daughter above three years, being weakly until his decease, which was in the ninth month, 1711, aged about seventy years; dying, no doubt in peace with the Lord, and unity with all the faithful, and is entered into his everlasting rest, among the faithful followers of Jesus.

<John Gratton's Letters Continued>>>>

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