The Missing Cross to Purity

The Christian Progress

of George Whitehead

Part III Continued

Released Again

Being set at liberty without being sent to our respective homes, we could then travel where the Lord pleased to order us, to visit our friends and meetings; and the Lord laid a concern upon me, especially to visit our friends and meetings in Norfolk and Norwich. I had previously labored in the gospel there, and had suffered there before, as well as in High Suffolk and Essex and some other parts. The Lord greatly strengthened and assisted me by his power in his service in all these places. This was effectual to his praise and to his people's comfort and confirmation in the living faith, which is in Christ Jesus, his light and grace. Although our hardships in Bury prison were extreme, as before related, yet the Lord caused all to work together for good to us; our faith and strength in Christ was greatly increased, and the blessed truth was promoted. Through the great sufferings of those times, and by our faithful testimony borne in them, many were convinced, added to the church, and gathered into our spiritual communion and Society. The great persecutions then against us aroused unprejudiced and well disposed people's curiosity, who concluded that persecution and cruelty against us for religion was a sign of a false religion in the persecutors; and that the patient sufferers were more like true Christians than the persecutors.

In the time of our severe confinement in Bury jail before mentioned, my fellow prisoners, George Fox Jr. and George Rose, received a gift and part in the ministry of the everlasting gospel. They were enabled by the power and Spirit of Christ to thunder out judgment against deceit and wickedness and to preach the way of life and salvation; which they did in the zeal and love of the Lord God, and ministered according to their several gifts and abilities, received from the giver of every good and perfect gift.

George Rose became a great traveler in the work of the Lord beyond the seas, not only in Holland and Germany, but also in the American colonies of New England, Virginia, Bermudas, Barbados, and other remote places. I don't have a detailed account of his travels in those parts and islands, and we have often wished we could have known more of them. We understand, however, that after various difficulties and dangers he passed through by sea, and great travels and service in those foreign parts in America, he and some other Friends lost their lives in a storm at sea near the coast of Virginia.

George Fox Jr. did not live long after an imprisonment he underwent when King Charles II came in, though it was not a hard imprisonment; he was moved from Harwich to Lambeth, on some groundless suggestions or complaints. He died in the country sometime after he was at liberty.

John Harwood, who was prisoner with us in Bury jail while we were there confined, patiently suffered with us, and walked orderly and soberly. He had fasted with us, had become low and humble in his spirit, and had some part in the ministry; but within three or four years after we had been released, he came to loss by proceeding in a disorderly manner with a widow toward marriage, but was disappointed. Adding to his hurt, he conceived prejudice against some of the brethren, including George Fox senior and others for disowning his irregular and unwarrantable marriage procedure. This I mention to prevent reflection, that we may not be unjustly upbraided by his miscarriage.

The Public Lash

When I was at Colchester and Coggeshall side, a priest named Okely, (or Okey), of Stanway, three miles from Colchester, had been disparaging the Quakers in his ignorant opposition. Stephen Crisp answered him briefly and requested a public debate with him in his so called parish church, and a meeting and time was agreed to take place at his church. However, when we came there, the priest took up most of the time in preaching upon the text, "Remember you the law of Moses, my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb, for all Israel," etc. The theme of his sermon stated the Scriptures should be their preferred and only rule. But it was nearly night before the sermon had ended, and because the days then were very short, we had very little time to speak. He did not know how to begin to charge us, but questioned us about Christ and his human nature, (as their term is). We owned his divine nature, and his being man also, as he is our only Mediator, according to Scripture. But when our dear ancient friend, Robert Ludguter, questioned the priest about the two natures of Christ, those that he called human and the divine nature, the priest turned this question into sort of levity and impertinency. As it grew night, the meeting soon ended, with no advantage, but disadvantage to the priest, for the people were generally civil, and more serious than their priest.

Before the winter of 1656 had ended, the Lord gave me an opportunity to visit Friends at London, which I had been prevented from visiting before my imprisonment at Edmundsbury. The London visit was very acceptable to Friends, and I had very good service in and through the meetings in the ministry and demonstration of the holy Spirit and truth of Christ; and several were convinced in them, while I was among them, which was not long. I was concerned to return into Essex and Sussex. I visited meetings at Colchester, Coggeshall, and other parts of Essex, as in Denge hundred, and many parts of the county, and also at Sudbury and Haverhill, and other places in Suffolk. A concern fell on me to have a meeting at Saffron Walden, where I had a large and good meeting; though toward the conclusion, some professors made a little opposition, but they were soon answered and silenced. Yet, when some Friends of Essex and myself were at an inn that evening at supper, the bailiff of the town with a constable, or some officer, and others with them, came in and caused me to be taken away, and set in the stocks.* They kept me there until late in the night before they let me out. They did this without any breach of law or crime laid to my charge, but only out of a peevish humor and their own envious wills, and to cast causeless contempt upon me and my friends. I wrote to the bailiff next morning to ask if he had any matter of fact against me, or any more to say to me; but he gave me no answer. So I went from there to Cambridge and adjacent parts, where I visited meetings in the love of God around the countryside until I returned into Essex, to Colchester.

*Stocks are a wooden instrument of punishment on a post with holes for the neck and hands; offenders were locked in and so exposed to public scorn.

I had a meeting at Nayland in Suffolk, not far from Colchester, where the common people were so rude that they would not allow the meeting to be quiet inside the house and appeared to be ready to pull down the small house. So we withdrew to meet in a meadow ground, near the town's end on the Essex side. The meeting was large, and I had a good and full opportunity to declare and demonstrate the living truth, with power and dominion given me of God. The Lord's power was over all, and so came over the meeting that it was quiet, though it lasted for nearly three hours altogether, and the season was then somewhat cold.

That morning before the meeting the Friend, who owned the house in Nayland where the meeting had been appointed, came to me weeping and very troubled, because some wicked fellows of the town had threatened to kill me if I had a meeting there. I pitied the man for letting in such fears from their threats, and told him I did not fear them, - I was given up in the will of God, in whose hands my life is, and they could do no more than he permitted them. I did not doubt that the Lord would restrain them with their envy and wicked purposes; and I would not disappoint the scheduled meeting, nor alter the appointment. So I encouraged the poor Friend against his fears, and the Lord appeared for me, both in his service and in my own and Friends' preservation, by his divine power that gave us dominion and a quiet meeting. Let the dominion, glory and praise be ascribed and returned to him forever.

After a few weeks the Lord again placed a concern on me to have another meeting in Nayland, which accordingly was appointed at the same Friend's house where the first had been. But we had this second meeting in his yard or little orchard with many Friends of Colchester and other places in Essex and Suffolk attending. After we had for some time waited upon the Lord in silence, I was moved to stand up and preach the everlasting gospel including testimony against sin and wickedness, against the beast and false prophet, and against the devil's persecuting power and ministry. After I had declared the truth for a considerable time in the meeting, a person pretending to be a gentleman, came rushing in with a constable and rude company, violently pulling me down as I was declaring the truth. The constable and some of them took me to Affington to our old adversary, John Gurden. Information against our meeting had already been given to him, and he quickly began to threaten me. I asked for his moderation to hear me before he passed judgment. "You are a moderate rogue," said he. I replied that such language did not become a justice of peace, especially one professing Christianity. He became very angry and furiously threatened me. I was detained, and he plotted how to imprison me again as he had previously, causing several of us to deeply suffer. After his angry threats, he returned into his parlor, where his son and the priest of the parish conferred.

In the interim I sat in his hall with some Friends, waiting upon the Lord. I secretly breathed in spirit, that if it might stand with his will, he would not then permit that persecutor to send me to Bury jail, where I and others had just been, deeply suffering for a long time; for his malice ended not with that hard imprisonment or ours. The Lord was pleased to answer my desire, and immediately showed me that he would not send me to prison, but cause me to suffer by the lash of the whip. I was greatly refreshed, strengthened, and given up in the will of the Lord, patiently to endure that punishment, which the prejudiced persecutor was permitted to inflict upon me, it being for Christ's sake and his gospel truth, in which I had great peace and strong consolation in Him, for whose sake I suffered.

I was soon called into the parlor before John Gurden and his son Robert with the priest. I was examined with many questions including my name, country, and reason of traveling abroad. I gave particular answers and plainly told them how God would overturn them and take away their power, who were persecutors and oppressors of his servants or seed; and withal, that God would limit him, i. e., John Gurden, that he should not effect all his evil designs. He derisively told me “Go quake." I said, do you then despise quaking?" He answered, “Yes; I do despise quaking." I said, "Then you despise that which the word of the Lord has commanded." "How do you prove that?" he said. I asked him to bring me a bible. A bible was close by, and I showed him Ezekiel 12:17-18.  In addition,  the word of the Lord came to me saying: son of man, eat your bread with quaking, and drink your water with trembling and with carefulness. At which point he could not vindicate his despite of quaking.

His clerk took part in my examination by writing as he ordered him; which the clerk then read, and John Gurden required me to sign it. I indicated that it was deficient and poorly written. He urged me to sign it. So I took the pen and began to write my exception against the deficiency of the content, intending to sign my name at the bottom of what the clerk had written. But John Gurden plucked the pen out of my hand and said I should write nothing but my name, which I positively refused, saying that if he would not allow me to write my exception, he ought not to impose on me to sign an inaccurate statement that was only partially true.

After being so poorly treated, we were ordered to withdraw into the hall. John Gurden and his son, Robert, directed the clerk to draw up a warrant to have me severely whipped next day at Nayland, the town where I had been arrested and taken from the meeting. John Gurden came out to me in the hall and greatly threatened me again, having a law book in his hand, which I recognized to be Dalton's Justice of Peace; and he read some abstract of an ancient statute or law, against vagrants, sturdy beggars, idle and dissolute persons, loiterers, peddlers, tinkers, etc., with the penalties. He intimated that they had ordered me to be whipped at Nayland; and if I came again into that country, I would branded in the shoulder as a rogue; but if I came a third time I would be hung. I answered: "I am no such person as you have mentioned; you are an old man, and going to your grave; you do not know how soon the Lord may put an end to your days, and disappoint you or your evil designs against me. However, I do not fear your threats, and if the Lord whom I serve requires my return into these parts, I must obey him." He replied, “I know I am an old man." I  said he was old in iniquity and it was high time for him to repent.

I was called to hear their warrant for my punishment read, and the constable to have his charge of execution given him; which being read, Robert Gurden charged the constable to see their warrant executed upon me to the purpose. At his peril, I told him:

That I could expect no better from him, [Robert Gurden] because he had falsely sworn against Henry Marshall, an honest man, at the quarter sessions; where he swore that Henry had said that Christ was a vagabond, which resulted in Henry being wrongfully fined as a blasphemer and kept in jail with us at Edmundsbury for nearly twelve months.

That Henry’s words had been most grossly perverted, quite contrary to what he said when taken prisoner.

That when Henry had been accused as a vagabond or vagrant, Henry told them, "That Cain was a vagabond, though he had a city upon earth; but Christ was no vagabond, though he did not have a place to lay his head."  

That all this was contrary to the information given upon oath against him at sessions.

And, that Henry told us this falseness more than forty times in prison.

I also charged the son, Robert Gurden, that once while we were in prison, he had come to scornfully view us; and I reminded him before his father, when he charged the constable to see their warrant executed to purpose upon me. To excuse his son, the father said he had sworn to the best of his remembrance. I asked him if he could not remember to speak the truth; and do men use to swear in court upon uncertainties, or doubtfully?

When the warrant was signed and sealed by the father and the son, I was returned back to Nayland, in order to endure the execution of it the next day. That night I lodged at a public house, where I rested quietly in much peace.

A copy or the warrant and pass follows.

To all constables and all other officers whom it may concern, and to every of them.

“Be it remembered, that one George Whitehead, a young man about twenty years of age, who confesses himself to have been born at Orton, in Westmoreland, being this present day found vagrant and wandering at Nayland, in this county, contrary to the laws of this nation, and being thereupon brought before us, two justices of the peace for this county, is by us ordered to be openly whipped at Nayland before said, till his body is bloody, as the law in such case enjoins; and he is to pass there from parish to parish, by the officers thereof, the next way to Orton before said,

Dated at Affington, in this county of Suffolk, the 1st day of April, 1657.

Be it remembered, that this bloody warrant is grounded upon a notorious falsehood; for I was neither found vagrant nor wandering at Nayland, but I was in a religious meeting for the worship of God. Out of the same meeting I was pulled away with violence, and brought before these two persecuting justices, who, contrary to their office and titles, have in this matter acted both contrary to law, justice, and to the peace of the nation, by causing an innocent person to be cruelly scourged, based entirely upon a gross and notorious falsehood.

The next day after the warrant's date, it was severely executed by a foolish fellow, whom the constable got to do it. The constable stripped me above the waist, which he could not persuade me to do. Instead I let them perform their own cruelty. The fellow proceeded to whim me with a long, sharp whip, laid on so violently, that he cut and wounded both my back and breast with long stripes, tearing the skin and shedding blood, until some people watching cried out to stop him. There was a great number present, since it was done in a public place, like the street in a market place. Many wept to see their cruelty; yet, by the Lord's power I was enabled cheerfully to bear it all with patience, great comfort and rejoicing, even in the very time of the execution, by which many were amazed and smitten. How many stripes I had, I do not know; but I remember that the marks were to be seen a long time afterwards, both on my back and breast.

It is also very memorable to me, how wonderfully the Lord, by his divine power, supported me, even while they were inflicting their cruelty and punishment upon my body; that even then my spirit was raised, and my mouth opened to sing aloud in praises to the Lord, my God, that he counted me worthy to suffer for his Name and truth's sake.

When the hand of the executioner was stayed from beating me by the cry or call that was made to stop him, I told the people that it was a proof of a minister of Christ, patiently to endure afflictions, persecutions, stripes, imprisonments, according as the holy apostle testifies; "Approving ourselves as the ministers of God in much patience, in afflictions, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults," as it is more fully in 2 Cor 6:4. And while I stood with my stripes and wounds naked before them, I then told the officers concerned, that if they had any more to lay upon me, I was ready and given up to suffer, it being in the cause of Christ, for conscience sake. I may not forget the wonderful power, aid, and comfort which the Lord afforded me in that suffering condition, and the contempt my persecutors enviously designed to cast upon me and our friends by that sort of punishment, legally intended against rogues and thieves, but unjustly inflicted upon me, who was innocent.

This memorial is given to warn all justices and magistrates professing Christianity, against following the steps or those prejudiced, persecuting justices before mentioned.

When the execution against me and the solemnity attending it was over at Nayland, I took my horse and was accompanied out of the town by the constable and others towards Sudbury; to Sudbury the officers with their warrant and pass accompanied me the same day it was executed. The next day I was passed away from constable to constable, through Clare and Haverhill, into the edge of Cambridgeshire. In Clare, when the warrant was produced to pass me forward as ordered, several persons took great notice of me, and seeing that I had a pretty good horse with good quality tack, some said, "This young man does not look like a vagrant."

In the edge of Cambridgeshire, we met with a constable in the field at the harrow. When he realized that the next day he was required by the warrant to take me about nine miles to another constable toward Cambridge, he thought it was too far for him to go with me. I said be need not trouble himself, I knew what way to go. He then gladly gave me the warrant. Since night was approaching, I returned alone to find some town where I might lodge that night; and not in the very way that I came, but somewhat more toward the south. So I rode about five miles that evening, to a town called Steeple Bumsted, in Essex, where I got lodging at an inn. The inn keeper was drunk, and understanding I was called a Quaker, I heard him say, "I'll kick him from doorpost to doorpost;" yet the next morning he was more sober, and when I paid for what I had, he parted friendly with me. Then I rode to Halsted and Coggeshall. After that I rode to Colchester, and had several good meetings there and in those parts, including one at Sudbury and one near Nayland.

The country was alarmed and awakened by my suffering. The people were more interested in coming to meetings to see and hear the young man that was so cruelly whipped at Nayland. Many were tenderly affected and convinced, and the truth of our testimony spread wider and prevailed. So the dark wrath of the persecutor was transformed to the praise of God, and I had great joy and consolation in Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I was freely given up to suffer. He powerfully sustained and stood by me in all that; glory to his name, and dominion be to him forever.

The Young Man Confounds Many Older Priests

I was more deeply concerned in spirit to travel and labor in the gospel ministry in that country and those parts where I had so greatly and openly suffered. I often visited those eastern counties, being supported in spirit, and borne up above all the threats of branding and hanging, and above the envy of that cruel, persecuting spirit, and especially the shame it could cast upon me by reproach and contempt.

In the first part of that summer, in the year 1657, meeting with my dear friend and brother, Richard Hubberthorn, we traveled together out of Huntingtonshire, from King-Rippon to Leicester, and to Coventry, Warwick, and Worcester; we visited Friends as we went in those places, having some meetings with them. In Gloucestershire we met with our dear brother, George Fox Sr., at justice Grimes' house, a few miles from Gloucester, who with his wife and family, were convinced of the blessed truth, as it is in Christ Jesus, his life and power. In the courtyard of this house, George Fox had a large meeting that first-day we met him. I showed him the justice John Gurden's bloody warrant against me and the pass before mentioned; at which George Fox was amazed and offended at the justice's cruelty, and he resolved to write to him against his persecution.

The next day I went to Gloucester and met with those few Friends then in that city, which was very acceptable to them. After that, I traveled about in that county and Worcestershire, and visited the meetings of Friends mostly around the counties and in part of Herefordshire. The word of Christ and of life was plenteously in my heart and ministry, which enabled me by his power largely to preach, to the convincing, strengthening, and comfort of many. I met with opposition and contention from some Baptists, and others in those parts, as in Gloucestershire, Lemster in Herefordshire, and in the city and county of Worcester. However, the Lord stood by me, and strengthened me to stand against all the opposition and contention which I met with, or stood in my way; for which I did and ever shall bless that divine Power by which I was called forth, and greatly assisted  in the defense of the gospel of our blessed Lord Jesus Christ.

Our friend and brother, Thomas Goodyear, and some Baptists, had appointed or agreed to a meeting at our Friends' meeting place at Stoak Orchard, near Tewksbury, to dispute and discuss differences about religion. Hearing about the scheduled meeting, I went to it. It was held in a barn, where Thomas Goodyear and the Baptists, with a great company of people, Friends, and others were attending.

The Baptist preacher began in a kind of preaching, instead of arguing against our friends and principles. He preached chiefly about eternal life, and where he thought we could find eternal life. He stated eternal life was to be found in the Scriptures, and not by following the light within; not confessing Christ or his light within, or in man, nor to his divine revelation or immediate [direct from the Spirit] teaching and ministry in believers; but placing all chiefly upon the Scriptures without, giving them the preference; insisting on John 5:39. “You search the Scriptures; for in them you think* you have eternal life.”  Further, in his preaching on this subject, he mentioned these words of Christ: "The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life." From this the Baptist argued: "If the words of Christ are in the Scriptures, then there is spirit and life in the Scriptures, or we may find eternal life in the Scriptures. Since the words of Christ are in the Scriptures, therefore spirit and life, or eternal life is in the Scriptures, or we may find eternal life in the Scriptures;" with more such doctrine, -  he continued preaching on this so long, I think nearly an hour, that after we had borne it so long and patiently, I was constrained to call out to be heard, to give answer.

*Site Editor's Comment: This is a classic case of a dishonest minister twisting the scriptures to his congregation's destruction. Look at the entire verse:

You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.
But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life. John 5:39-40

The Baptist minister completely inverted the meaning. Searching the scriptures did NOT give them eternal life, and kept them from COMING TO HIM SO THEY MIGHT HAVE ETERNAL LIFE.

I obtained silence and liberty to answer, and then went through the points of his objections, and gave him plain answers, refuting them individually; but still sincerely acknowledging the holy Scriptures to be the words and doctrine of Christ contained within them. But the Baptist's argument and inference from Christ's words [the Scripture] I distinguished in this way: that though the words of Christ, as proceeding immediately from his mouth, are spirit and life when he speaks them, yet the same words as written and only read in the Scriptures, are not spirit and life; for many read his words without his spirit, and without a true understanding. By his saying, “The words I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life;” he does not say the words as written, much less the Scriptures or writings, are spirit and life. When Christ himself speaks to a soul, his words are spirit and life to that soul, for spirit and life are in his words, when he speaks them. But when another reads or speaks them without his spirit, they minister neither spirit nor life. For instance, Christ's calling to Lazarus when dead and buried, “Lazarus come forth;" his words were spirit and life to Lazarus. But let another read or speak the same words to a man dead and buried, and cry to him to come forth, they will not raise him to life. With much more in the plain demonstration and evidence of truth, I answered his objections; which, because he had taken such a long time making his assertions, it required the longer time to answer them, which I claimed as my right on truth's account.

The Friends present at the meeting were very satisfied in the defense that the Lord enabled me to make at that time, in vindication of the blessed truth, and the friends of the truth. The audience, who were unprejudiced, were the better informed, and their understandings opened. The opposer and his party became silent and went away. The Lord's power went over all in that meeting, and the truth gained ground, though it was through some contention.

At Worcester city I had a large meeting, where I met with some opposition. In one meeting I met with opposition from some professors, when several persons of note were present. But their dispute was soon over, for they could not maintain their opposition, and the truth prevailed over them, to the convincing of many. The Lord was with me in my testimony for his name, and he gave me suitable answers by his immediate power and spirit, opening matters in vindication of the truth of the gospel, which he had given me a dispensation of, to bear witness to his light and grace, and to turn people thereto in their own hearts and consciences. Glory to his excellent name and power forever.

I also had a meeting at a place called Clifton upon Tearnd, about seven miles from Worcester; it was outdoors in an orchard, and many Friends and others came to it, including some Friends out of Herefordshire. After I had some time to preach the truth, John Dedicote, a minister or priest of Richard Baxter's communion, along with several others of his brethren, and Colonel Birch, along with most of the others with him, entered into dispute against me. His main point was to dispute against perfection and freedom from sin in this life; as not attainable for believers or saints on this side the grave. One or two Friends out of Herefordshire had been believers before being convinced of the truth, and one of them answered the priest for me, being fearful that I would not be able to deal with him because of my youth, and because the priest was ready to run into his logic and syllogisms.* I waited awhile and observed what argument the Friend would use to answer the priest's argument. I quickly saw that I must step in and discuss the point, and not be intimidated. After I entered upon the dispute, the Friends who had feared my inability concluded I could deal well enough with the priest, and he quietly left the controversy with me to manage.

*George Fox ridiculed syllogisms, saying they could be used to prove anything such as: all chickens have two legs, since people have two legs, therefore people are chickens.

The principal point of doctrine John Dedicote that insisted upon was that sin and imperfection were impossible to be free from in this life; that perfection, (that is, freedom from sin), is not attainable in this life; accusing even Paul with not being free from the act of sin while in the body, or upon earth. But he could not cite any actual sin or act of sin to Paul's charge, or to the charge of any other of the saints who had died in the faith, which they had not departed from before death. On the Scripture, Heb 12:22-23,* in which the attainment of perfection is stated, my opposer would still not own to be attainable in this life, particularly their being come to the spirits of just men made perfect. He would have the Scripture interpreted as not referring to while in this life, or on this side the grave, arguing after this manner: if perfection is not attainable on this side the grave, then they did not come to the spirits of just men made perfect in this life, or on this side the grave; but perfection, that is, freedom from sin, or the act of sinning, is not attainable in this life; therefore they did not come to the spirits of just men made perfect on this side the grave.

*But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly,to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, Heb 12:22-23.

I clearly saw the fallacy of his argument in the second proposition and consequence, and the absurdity, and showed the people how the apostle then wrote to those believing Hebrews, to whom he says: “But you have come unto mount Zion, but unto the city of the living God, and to the general assembly and church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven, and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect." Clearly those believers to whom the apostle wrote were not then dead and in their graves when the apostle wrote thus to them, and told them they were come to the spirits of just men made perfect. Can you think the apostle would write to them when they were dead in their graves? Then the argument was forced to be dropped, and several other arguments our opponent attempted, but made little of it, being fully answered and refuted, and matters cleared relating to the inward and spiritual work of Christ, and his being made manifest to destroy the work of the devil, which is sin and the pollution thereof.

I had then and oftentimes, great comfort, life, and strength given me in pleading the cause of Christ and his righteousness against the devil's cause and work of sin and unrighteousness; and the power of Christ and his counsel did really accompany and assist me in that service, to the confounding of all those who pleaded Satan's cause, for the continuance of sin for duration of life on earth; in which work they were none of Christ's friends, servants, or ministers, whatever their professions or pretensions were.

In this dispute the Lord showed me both the fallacies of the adversaries' arguments and gave me more discovery and sight of their kind of logic, and their crafty way of using syllogisms, than ever I had before; and quickly, to find out fallacies, and many times absurdities, in their arguing, though they pretended mood and figure for it.

The Lord gave me to recognize a false proposition was false, and when the inference was unjustly deduced from a proposition, though in itself true; knowing that it is a principal part of true logic in disputes, to first be certain that the proposition is true or truly stated, as well as the consequence which naturally follows is true, so that they truly agree.

After the Lord was pleased to give me a clear understanding in this matter, between the true and the false way of arguing, between what was true logic and what was falsely so termed, (as there is a true science and that which is falsely so called); I was then the one prepared to withstand all the crafty opposition of pretended logic and syllogisms which I met with, both at Cambridge and other places, and valued them no more than pedantry [an ostentatious display of learning]. I could easily invert an adversary's absurdity back upon him by way of syllogism. I have met with many priests very full at their acquired artificial logic, which was frequently stretched into many absurdities, while they would often condemn and deride us as illiterate men; but when we had discovered and refuted their ignorance and absurdities, then they would cry out against us, and accuse us as being Jesuits.* I been often accused in this manner by them.

*Jesuits were a particular order of Roman Catholic priests, highly educated but very unprincipled. They were considered to be the Pope's secret police because they were reputed to have murdered and instigated wars and insurrections to further the Pope's domain. They had been a principal in the inquisitions that tortured and murdered 9,000,000 souls in the middle ages. Jesuits were so feared in England that it was legal to execute them. The Quakers were frequently accused of being Jesuits, particularly when they appeared so young with so much knowledge of the Bible and of God, usually without any education. When all else failed, to call someone a Jesuit was the ultimate insult and accusation of the time.

After John Dedicote and his brethren could not stand their ground to maintain his plea and arguments for the continuance of sin and imperfection in the best of saints during life, Colonel Birch resumed the plea to maintain their point, contrary to the apostle John's testimony: "Whosoever is born of God does not commit sin; for his seed remains in him, and he cannot sin, because he is born of God." Against this the Colonel argued from that article in the Lord's prayer; "Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us." He said, “Therefore, they had trespasses that needed to be forgiven, and they were born of God, but were his children, because he was their Father when they said, “Our Father which art in heaven”

This seemed to be the principal argument that was advanced at that dispute, in which he appeared to go beyond the priests. But I demonstrated the several states and degrees of children of such as might call God father: of such children under Christ's teaching, or still in his school of teaching, as needed to crave forgiveness of their trespasses; and of such children whom John wrote unto when he said; “I write unto you little children, because your sins are forgiven you." Did they always need to pray for forgiveness of their sins their entire life time, even after their sins were forgiven? Surely not, for that would imply that still they wanted forgiveness, or were in a state of condemnation when their sins were already forgiven them, which is very inconsistent. To which I did not understand any reply could be given by the Colonel or priests; who, after full discourse quietly withdrew from the meeting. But further, as to the point then in question, about calling God our father, and the several states of being his children that we must pass through to be born again, etc.

1. He is so; and may be so called, as he is our Creator, having created man in his own image: "Have we not all one Father?  Has not one God created us."

2. God is owned to be our father when we are begotten by his living Word, into a measure of true and living faith in Christ, in order to be sanctified, being adopted or chosen to be his sons and heirs or eternal life; and being such children or sons by adoption, we have received the spirit or adoption, by which, as young and weak children, we cry to him, Abba Father.

3. When we did experience but a small entrance into the work of regeneration or sanctification, and our hearts were turned toward God with tender breathings and desires to him, that the work might go forward and prosper, toward the completing or the new birth, then we could truly call God, "Our father, having begotten us again unto a living hope."

4. And though little children, whose sins are forgiven, through repentance and faith in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, are but weak, and may stumble and possibly fall, so as to get some bruises or hurts, yet the apostle John gives this encouragement to such; “My little children, these things write I unto you, that you sin not," by which he implies a possibility of a sinless state, as also our duty not to sin. And also not to despair of help and recovery, if any of us in that weak condition of little children, happen to sin, or get some fall, hurt, or bruise, as in these following words: "And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the "sins of the whole world." Such kindness and help has our Mediator afforded, if we do not sin willfully.

5. And furthermore, even such little children, who are still weak and feeble and experience a measure of true faith and repentance in the name or Christ, God is not willing to cast off; but to own them for his children and people; and if they are sincere in their desires and love to him, and do not draw back, but follow the Lord fully, yes, follow the Lord Jesus Christ in and through the work of regeneration, they will become his [God] free born children; he [God] will be an everlasting Father unto them, and they shall be his sons and daughters, and heirs of his heavenly kingdom forever.

6. God was pleased to esteem Ephraim his dear son and pleasant child, when he was humbled under his chastisement, and prayed to be turned, and repented; see Jer 31:18-20. And in that low condition the Lord extended compassion and mercy to him, or that tribe. Oh! the bowels of the tender mercies or God, which move and are opened abundantly in his dear Son Jesus Christ, to the truly penitent and humbled, through his fatherly chastisements.

7. Now to consider the new birth completed or perfectly formed in Christ Jesus; such who are perfectly born from above, by the Holy Ghost, born of water and of the Spirit, so as to be thoroughly washed, sanctified, and made living to God in Christ, abide in him and sin not, as John said, Whoever abides in him, sins not; and he who is so born of God, that he cannot sin, it is because he is so born, and his seed remains in him. To attain to this state and stature in Christ Jesus, requires a true travail of soul, a perseverance and growth in grace and faithfulness in the love of God, being rooted in love, and a real stability in truth and righteousness. The true and heaven born child must be kept in the bosom of the Father, - and blessed be our heavenly Father, he has many such children, who will never forsake him who is the God of their salvation, and who will rather die than deny the truth. And, “Who shall separate them from the love of Christ?" And, "We can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth."

Contrary to which apostolic doctrine, the said John Dedicote has also argued in a letter to me, dated the 23rd of the fifth month, 1657, though I had otherwise fully informed him, both at our dispute and by writing. His doctrine therein is much as before, against perfection and a sinless state in this life, signifying that his heart is saddened, because that perfection in this life and freedom from sin are preached up by us. And that no error does more sadden his heart than that doctrine, and that it is a soul ruining doctrine.

His doctrine herein is contrary to the holy apostle's doctrine; "Finally, brethren, farewell; be perfect, be of good comfort, ..." The doctrine of perfection, therefore, was not to sadden their hearts, but to comfort them, Neither could it be either an erroneous or soul ruining, doctrine; and to affirm it to be such, is to reproach Christ and his ministry, who preached the same doctrine of perfection and holiness. See Mat 5:48, Luke 6:40, 1 Cor 7:1, Eph 4:12, 2 Cor 12:9, 2 Tim 3:17, Heb 10:14, 1 John 4:12-13, 2 Cor 7:1, Psa 1:2.

The person whose heart was saddened, because of our doctrine of perfection and freedom from sin is attainable in this light, further affirms, that the righteous are not perfect in graces, and that faith is imperfect; that the faith of the best is sometimes weak and full of doubts; and that faith and knowledge are both imperfect.

Observe: This is a heavy charge against the righteous, and even the best of men, together with their graces, faith and knowledge, without exception. But he has not affirmed this either from his own experience, or from holy Scripture, that he is either one of the best of men, or one really righteous, or one in the faith of Christ, by which faith He purifies the heart of a true believer. If his by use of the word imperfect, he means sinful, or mixed with sin, or having sin, (for he equates imperfection and sin), he, with many others of his profession, who are but sinful ministers, do greatly err in being ignorant both of: the divine graces; and the faith of the righteous and best of men. It is not good sense to affirm their faith is sometimes full of doubts; which is little better than to tell us, that the faith of the best is full of distrust or unbelief; which is contrary to the nature of that true and living faith which is the gift of God, which Christ is the author of and a fruit of the holy Spirit. It is also called, the faith of the operation of God. Although there is a state of weak believers, who are weak in faith, or of little faith for a time, yet their faith grows and increases, who follow Christ, the author of true faith; even the most holy faith, which was and is the saints' victory. The degrees and increase of faith, do not prove that the faith of the best of men is sometimes full of doubts and imperfection. A desire for growth in faith, for some time, does not evidence false faith; for faith begins small, as a grain of mustard seed and must grow. It is a weakness on the believer's part to entertain doubts, fears or distrust, by which there is a decline from the faith which is the gift of God, from whom every good and perfect gift comes, and men's declining or erring from the faith, is not the condition of any truly religious man; much less a condition of the best of men, whose faith and confidence stands in the name and power of Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we receive the end, the blessed reward of our faith, even the everlasting salvation of our immortal gospel.

Site Editor's Comments: As your beginning faith grows, you become sure of what you hope for and certain of what you do not yet see, experience, or possess. As Christ, the Author and Perfecter of your faith, brings you to the finish, doubts disappear, until gone. The just live by faith, (this is obviously without doubt). In a time of doubts running through my mind, the Lord told me years ago, "the light will destroy all doubts;" which he has largely done. Faith is a gift, a component of the fruit of the Spirit.

In the same year and summer of 1667, I traveled and labored much in the gospel ministry, in the several counties of Nottingham, Derby, Leicester, Warwick, and in Staffordshire, and other parts; and visited many meetings in the love and good will of God, of which I had through his dear Son received a true and living sense and experience, by which I was strengthened and supported in great labor in the work of the ministry of the gospel; and in which love my service was very acceptable where I traveled among Friends and friendly people. I met with little opposition, disputes, or controversies from adversaries; after those I met with in Gloucestershire, Worcestershire, and once at a meeting at Lemster in Herefordshire, at the latter end of the meeting; and at a meeting in Warwickshire, where a fierce Baptist began a contest about the Word, but made little of it; for it was observable how impertinently he opposed our asserting Christ to be the Word of God, which was in the belittling. And consequently, that the Word was before the Scriptures were written. Against which the Baptist made exception from Christ's parable and construction, Mat 13:4-19. Mark 4:4-15. Luke 8:6-12; concerning some seeds which fell by the way side, which the fowls came and devoured; that is, when anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and understands it not, then comes the wicked one and takes away that which was sown in his heart; or, the devil comes and take away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.

Therefore it was objected, that the devil could not take away Christ out of their hearts. So what? Neither is it said the devil takes away the Scriptures out of their hearts, or that the Scriptures were sown in them, or in those several sorts of ground. Parables are not to be taken literally, nor always to be constrained to a literal sense. Though the devil cannot take away Christ out of men's hearts, he can take away loose and ignorant hearers' hearts from the sense of the Word preached, when touched with it, that they may not believe and be saved; which is too common among forgetful, barren believers. And all that can be argued from this can never prove that the Word is not Christ, for that is to contradict John 1:1; or that Christ is not the Word preached, for that would contradict his ministers, who preach Christ the living, eternal Word.

I had sometimes heard of Rice Jones, and that he was at first convinced of the truth testified by George Fox; but that he soon turned aside against him and Friends, and gathered a separate meeting to himself. Some people termed this separate group, proud Quakers. Rice made them believe that he was divinely inspired, able to open the spiritual sense of the Scriptures. They kept their meetings at the castle at Nottingham. When I was there on a first-day of the week, I was concerned to visit them at their meeting. I sat awhile, and observed the manner of their exercise, and them listening to Rice explain Scripture to them. Seeing how dead and empty their devotion or exercise was, I was moved to bear a plain testimony against their deadness. I questioned their not waiting [silently] to feel the power of the Lord to quicken them to his spiritual worship. I had some discussion with Rice, upon which he seemed somewhat down in his spirit and stopped from going on that time.

A woman present, who appeared to be a sober and the leader of his listeners, seemed somewhat offended at my discussion with him. She said to me, "I saw a simplicity in you when you first came arrived, but now the subtlety is gotten up in you;" by which she seemed to aim at, or acknowledge the virtue of simplicity. However, my spiritual, living testimony made among them had so much effect upon that woman and some others, that they were convinced of the truth, and left Rice Jones and his meeting and to become Friends. They were able to see, regarding Rice that "though he had a form, he denied the power of godliness, and therefore they might well turn away from such."

Although Rice himself came to a few of our meetings afterwards, yet I never heard that he came to any true settlement in his mind, in the light or power of truth, or to a real love of Friends. It is not men's professions or notions, gathered merely from the letter; but it is the spirit that begets true love, amity and unity.

I labored in the gospel work in the counties and places before mentioned and had many large meetings outdoors that summer. As a result of my confinement and hard usage in prison in Edmundsbury, as before related, toward the latter end of summer, at a meeting outdoors in Leicester, on a first-day, I became somewhat weak in body, and was taken sick of a fever, through some cold that had seized upon me. I was so sick and weak that my recovery was doubtful. When the disease was at the height, or close, the Lord showed me that he would restore and raise me up again. My work was not yet done - I must yet live to bear testimony against the covetous priests, etc. This was so clearly and powerfully revealed and shown to me, that I was immediately revived by it; and certainly believed what I had cause before to question, that the Lord would restore me to health for his name and work, and people's sake.

The next morning I told some Friends where I lay sick, how the Lord had that night showed me that he would raise me up and restore me to health, my work was not done, he had yet more work for me to do, and I must further testify against the covetous priests. The Friends who heard me were very glad; and my health sprang up so speedily, that I recovered and grew better and better, and increased in strength every day; the time of that sickness being about two weeks before I recovered. The place where had I laid sick at that time was in a town called Whetstone, near Leicester, at Thomas Pauley's or Parley; who with his wife, were honest, loving Friends. Quickly after my recovery, I traveled again in the work and service of the Lord through part of Warwickshire and Coventry, and northward through Yorkshire, visiting as many meetings as I conveniently could in my journey toward my own county, Westmoreland, the summer being then near over and winter was approaching.

I had several good meetings in Yorkshire, and got well to my parents' house in Westmoreland, to whom I was very welcomed, and received with great joy and kindness, having been absent from them for more than three years. In that space of time I was known to have suffered great hardships under persecution; so that I was to them as one come or risen from the dead. They had believed me as one lost or dead, as it was in a contrary case to mine; “This my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost and is found." Though I never was a prodigal, yet they had accounted me as one lost from God, until the Lord gave them a better understanding; to my relatives who had thought I was lost from God. In the time of my three years absence, the Lord secretly, by his power, removed those prejudicial and hard thoughts out of the hearts of my parents and relations, which the priests had at first influenced them with, concerning me and my friends, the people called Quakers. I was and am still fully satisfied, that the Lord secretly plead my innocent cause, after I was rendered as a miserable object, and given over for lost and undone. Yet through all, the Lord gave me faith and patience to bear all, and to outlive many oppositions, trials and exercises, as well as hardships; glory to his excellent name and power forevermore.

Being returned into my native county, I had good opportunities to visit Friends at the several meetings which I had frequented, and where I was most known before I traveled abroad in the work of the ministry; as Sedbergh, Grayrigg, Kendal, Ravenstondale, and Strickland meetings, and those parts in Westmoreland, etc., where I was joyfully received, and my ministry, given me of the Lord, very acceptable and to the great comfort of many innocent Friends, in whom their first love was fresh and lively, and which they retained to the end of their days.

I also rode over the sands to Swarthmore, in Lancashire, to judge Fell's, to visit Margaret Fell and her family, and the meeting of Friends at their house; where we were comforted together in the Lord, and in the great love and unity which our Friends there, and in those parts, were then in.

I also visited Friends' meetings through Cumberland, where I had not been conversant or much known before that journey; yet Friends being very loving in that county also, they very kindly received me and my testimony and service for the Lord God and his blessed ever living truth; he having made me zealously concerned for the promoting and spreading, as well as he had enabled me to endure great suffering and hardships for the same.

I remember in those days, Friends in the west part of Cumberland kept their meetings without doors, at a place on the common called Pardsay Cragg, not then having convenient house room to contain the meetings. It was very cold, stormy, snowy and sleety weather, at one of the meetings which I had there on the Cragg; but since there were several sides of it, so sheep may shelter from the wind and storm, Friends commonly took the same advantage to meet on the calmest side. I truly had several good and blessed meetings outdoors at Pardsay Cragg, both in the winter and summer times; and after our friends had a meeting-house built there, I had some meeting there indoors too. Likewise our friends of Strickland and Shapp, and that side of Westmoreland, kept their meetings for some years on the common, [common land for parks and grazing], both winter and summer, until they had a meeting-house built at Great Strickland. At first our friends in those northern counties had their meetings on the commons and mountainous places for several years; they were greatly enabled by the Lord to bear the cold and all sorts of weather.

It rained most of the time at some meetings, and we have been very much wet; yet I do not remember that ever I got any sickness from these meetings. For the Lord preserved and defended us by his power; blessed be his name, who enabled me and many others, to stand and to bear diverse kinds of storms and winds.

I traveled the former part of the winter, 1667, in Westmoreland, and after into the county of Durham to Newcastle and Northumberland, and thoroughly visited the meetings of Friends in those parts, and at Berwick upon Tweed; and returned back to that called the Holy island, by the seaside. The wife of the governor of the garrison or fort there was a Friend; Richard Wilson, a Friend of Sunderland, accompanied me to Berwick and back again. We were kindly received on that island, both by the governor, captain Phillips, as they called him, and his wife; and that evening I had a meeting in the castle where the garrison was kept with the family and among the soldiers, who were civil to us. We lodged there that night, being kindly hosted; and the next morning the Governor sent his man to guide us over the sands. Because he had been convinced of the truth, he showed more kindness to us; and he became a Friend. Some time after he and his wife moved into Oxfordshire, to Banbury side; and as far as I know, both continued Friends to the end of their days.

In our return through Northumberland I declared the truth, and warned the people in several towns to repentance and amendment of their lives. I particularly remember one town where they had a piper playing, and people were around him dancing by a hay stack in a yard. I rode up to them, and in the dread of the Lord, warned them to repentance. The piper ceased playing, and he and the people present heard me quietly until I had cleared my conscience, and then parted peaceably from them. There were only a few Friends or meetings then in that county. As we traveled to Berwick and back again, it was hard for us to get lodgings in some places, particularly at Alnwick and one other place in our return. We had only a small meeting of Friends at Berwick. Our loving friend John Dove, and his wife and family at Whittlesey, kindly received me at his house; and I had a meeting at both Northshields and Tynemouth.

Great efforts were made to arrange meetings in Newcastle upon Tyne, while I was in those parts; but the mayor of the town, influenced by the priests, would not allow us to keep any meeting within the jurisdiction of the town; though in Gateside, being out of the mayor's jurisdiction, our friends had settled a meeting at our beloved friend Richard Ubank’s house.

The first meeting we then endeavored to have within the town of Newcastle, was in large room taken on purpose by some Friends; William Coatsworth of Southshields with other Friends, being zealously concerned for the same. The meeting was not fully gathered, when the mayor and his officers came, and by force turned us out of the meeting and the out of the town. The mayor and his company commanded us, and went along with us as far as the bridge over the river Tyne, that separated Newcastle and Gateside; upon which bridge there is a blue stone, to which the mayor's jurisdiction only extends; when we come to that stone the mayor gave his charge to each of us in these words:

 "I charge and command you in the name of his highness the lord Protector, that you come no more into Newcastle, to have any more meetings there, at your peril."

On a first-day after, we met again within the jurisdiction of the town of Newcastle outdoors, near the river side, where the mayor's officers came again and haled us away out of the jurisdiction, on the bridge as before; and in Gateside we could enjoy our meetings peaceably, for which we were thankful to God.

Being thus forcibly disappointed of keeping any meetings within the jurisdiction of the town, some Friend or Friends, agreed with the man that kept the Guild-hall, or shire-house, to allow Friends to have a meeting in it, since it was outside of the liberty of the town. Although the keeper of the hall had agreed for the price, the priest of the town interposed to prevent our meeting after it was appointed there, and persuaded the keeper to break his word and bargain made with our friends; and to keep them out of the house he had agreed they should meet in, the priest giving him half a crown to go back from his bargain - as we had account given us - for we shamed the keeper to show the cause of the breach of his agreement, in keeping us out of doors.

Being thus disappointed of the house, after the meeting had been beforehand appointed and the time fixed, we were required to keep the meeting outside, on the side of the hill near the shire-house, being outside of the mayor's liberty.

It was so ordered of the Lord, by his overruling power, that we had not only a large meeting of a great gathering of people besides our own friends, but it was also kept quiet, and the spirits of the people subjected and brought under by the power and prevalence of the truth and gospel testimony, which the Lord our God gave me strength to bear in that meeting, in power and authority, for a considerable time. I believe it was two or three hours altogether; and my voice was raised to that degree, that some said I was heard from the side of the castle hill over the river Tyne, into Gateside, which ascends opposite to the other.

Besides many soberly inclined people in attendance at the meeting, there was also a great gathering of rude and ignorant people. It was by the great mercy and providence of God that the meeting was kept in such a quiet state, especially since the priests and the mayor were so much set against us, that they refused permission to have a meeting within the jurisdiction of the town. The meeting was also forced to be held outdoors, because the priest fraudulently prevented our indoor meeting, persuading and bribing the man to break his word and bargain.

The peaceable posture, order and end of the meeting were greatly comforting to us, who were concerned for the promotion of truth in it; and it was to Friends' great satisfaction.

I remember the care of some persons that were present, some of whom seemed to be in office. They accompanied me to be certain I was secure from the hands of the mob; they did this both when the meeting was ended, and as I traveled through part of the town of Newcastle. That day's work and service is very memorable, as well it was remarkable. The fresh remembrance of the goodness and power of the Lord, my strength and help in his own work and service, is still a matter of comfort to me. Even greater comfort is that I have a living sense of the continuance of the same divine goodness, love and power of the Lord God with me still; the same love and power that assisted and helped me through deep sufferings, trials and weighty undertakings in his service, for his holy name and blessed truth's sake. O my soul, bless the Lord, and let all that is within me praise his holy name, for his mercy endures forever.

About the time that we were disappointed of having meetings in Newcastle, being turned out of the town by the mayor, as related, a sorrowful occasion and trouble to many Friends occurred as follows:

The before mentioned William Coatsworth had persisted in trying to arrange a meeting in Newcastle, and being disappointed, he let in too much grief and trouble of mind. So much troubled, that he became unsettled and in a hurry took a horse to London in all haste to speak to Oliver Cromwell, Protector, to complain and make his case known against the mayor of Newcastle; but when got to Durham, he was stopped at his father-in-law's, John Joplin. Being seen to be in considerably distraught, he was detained, and brought under the hands of physicians. They gave him several doses of their medicine, until he was near death; some reported he had another dose of medicine given him within an hour before he died, though he had before denied the use of such carnal means, as he termed them.

Before he died he was better composed, and became so sensible as to declare several things for the clearing of the truth, and taking the blame upon himself, by which he had missed his way and committed error, confessing to the just judgments of God which had been upon him; telling his father-in-law and mother Joplin, "It is the just judgment of God to bring me here to lay my shame open among you. Father and mother, I feasted and rioted with you, and when you were careless I was careless; and when you laughed and talked, I did so; and so betrayed the simplicity of God in me; poor William Coatsworth! And though you were friends to me in the outward, you were enemies to the seed of God in me." Poor man, he was made sensible he had not stood in the cross, nor been as watchful as he ought to have been. And it was no doubt a mercy to him that he was made so sensible before his end.

He spoke several times of George Fox, and said he was tender over the simplicity of God in him; and that Richard Farnsworth told him labor to be little-little in his own eyes; "But," said he, "I could never get to be little, little in my own will." These things I had told me from several Friends that were with him; he died in a few days after he stopped at Durham, on the 8th day of the eleventh month, 1657. His example may be a warning to others who are convinced of the truth, to be low in their minds, little in their own eyes, and watchful to dwell under the power of the cross, to their own wills and runnings.

I was truly sorry for his afflicted and distressed widow, and in Christian compassion visited her, and had a meeting at her house at Southshields, and for a little time visited other meetings in that county of Durham, as Sunderland and other places. When I found myself clear in spirit of those parts, I took my journey to York, and forward pretty directly toward the south, as the isle of Ely, Norfolk, Suffolk, and Essex, where my service as well as sufferings had principally been.

After great labor and travel in many parts of the nation, as before related, in the second month of the year 1658, I was taken sick of an ague [alternating chills and fever, like malaria] and fever, which began in Essex. I labored under it for some days, and had several meetings until I got into Norfolk, though in a low condition. My weakness increased so much, that I was constrained to stay at a Friend's house at Dysse for two or three weeks. The Lord was pleased to recover and restore me by degrees to my health and strength. I had been brought so very low by that sickness, that my recovery appeared to be by a special providence of God, who has been pleased to lengthen out my days for his name and work's sake. By his over-ruling power and merciful providence, he has afforded me such manifest preservations, so that neither furious tumults, stonings, beating, cruel confinements, severe stripes, manifold labors, travels, nor sickness, have been allowed to shorten my days; for the Lord has prolonged them even beyond my own expectation, many years ago, as well as to the disappointment of my cruel persecutors' expectations and desires. May my heart and soul in true humility, bless the Lord our God for his manifold blessings and eminent preservations, both inward and outward. Let him have the glory and praise over all, who alone is worthy forever more.

On the 12th day of the fifth month, 1658, as I was riding through the town of Hoxon, in Suffolk, and meeting with Edward Willan, the priest of the town, I exhorted him to fear God and cease from iniquity. We fell into some discussion, in which the priest accused me with seducing his flock from the church. Having had a meeting in the town the day before, I asked the priest concerning Hoxon Steeple-house - we being near it - if that was the church he spoke of? He affirmed that it was the church. I demanded of him to prove that such a house made of wood and stone is the church of Christ. He pretended to prove it was, from 1 Cor 11:22; "Or despise the church of God?" Which no way proves a church of God to be such a house as is made up of wood and stone; for the apostle the very same place distinguishes between their houses and the church of God; in saying. “What, have ye not houses to eat and drink in? or despise you the church of God?" I told the priest that the church of Christ was built up of living stones: - that he granted; but stood to maintain the outward house or fabric, as Hoxon steeple-house, to be the Church; though he acknowledged that house was not built of living stones, but alleged that when the apostle spoke of the church, he spoke of the thing containing, for the thing contained, in which he wronged the apostle's words and sense; for when the apostle wrote the church of Christ, or to the church of God, he wrote to those who were sanctified in Christ, called to be saints, .. 1 Cor 1:2, and to the church which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Thes 1:1 The Apostle wrote to the sanctified people, the saints, not to a house of wood or stone.

Having detected and declared the priest's error, he grew angry, for he appeared both ignorant and envious, and could not fairly hold an argument with moderation. In our discussion, his envy and rage rose to such a degree, that he took my horse by the bridle and forcibly held him, having some of his followers presently to assist him, who, together with the priest, forced me to go before one Anthony Barry, who was called a justice of peace, and was a member of an Independent congregation or church, at Silarn, near Hoxon, where Habergham was pastor, who was esteemed a noted minister among that people.

Edward Willan the priest, gave some prejudiced information to this justice Barry against me, for calling him persecutor and the like, which was after he had assaulted me in Hoxon street, and threatened to pull me off my horse. Though it was made apparent to the justice, what an ignorant, prejudiced person the priest was, and what small and groundless occasion he took against me, to persecute me; and what a breaker of the peace the priest himself was, in his assaulting me in the highway; yet to gratify the envy of the priest, the pretended justice, Anthony Barry, made a warrant to commit me to the county jail in Ipswich. This was under pretence of having reviled the priest, though he could not prove any law transgressed by me in my discoursing with the priest, which was fairly done in a Christian way by me.

But justice Barry pretended a law with which he accused me, the breach of which he told us was a late act of Parliament, made for the punishment of vagrants, idle, loose, dissolute persons, and fiddlers, etc; which he said, was only for Quakers. But it could not be true; for it was made against idle, loose, and dissolute persons, who might properly be termed vagrants or vagabonds. As for the people called Quakers, I believe there then were, and still are, as sufficiently responsible men among them as the justice ever was, if not more responsible, and of better reputation in every way. And therefore it was very unjust in him to term the Quakers vagabonds or vagrants, telling us that the said act of Parliament made against vagabonds, was only made for Quakers, and then to take an unjust, as well as illegal occasion to commit me to prison. However, he would make a mittimus to send me to jail, and they were so hasty to convey me there, that they would not allow me to take one night's rest, but being laid down on a bench, the very same night after I was apprehended, I was hurried away on horseback, and guarded by some men of the town of Hoxon to Ipswich jail. We rode most of that night, and got there a little after sun-rising, it being, as I take it, above twenty miles.

When I was delivered up to the keeper, I found three of our friends then in the common jail, where they put felons; one was William Alexander of Needham, an honest young man, and two other honest Friends, who suffered for non-payment of tithes.

I was very well content to suffer with such good company in the common ward, where both the place and our lodgings were but poor, having no other beds to lie upon than pease straw, yet we had sheets and bed clothes upon the straw. John Story, the keeper of the jail, although he had dealt harshly to George Rose and some other Friends before, yet he was far more civil to me, and Friends with me, than Robert Newton, the jailer at Edmundsbury had been.

I was detained there until the next quarter sessions, and then had before the justices, where the priest, Edward Willan, and another prejudiced person, Thomas Yellop, appeared to prosecute me, who gave a false, partial, and aggravated information upon oath against me; that I had reviled the ministry of the Word of God at a meeting at Hoxon. Yet he confessed in court, that he did not hear me at the meeting, for he was not at it, but took an envious bailiff, one Thomas Yellop, for his witness, who swore to the same thing the priest had done against me. But neither of these prosecutors could discover facts relating to the accusation Edward Willan had given against me, by assaulting me in the highway, only for exhorting him, and disputing against his erroneous doctrine about the church, and his demanding tithes or wages for praying for people, as he had before confessed. He would not inform the Sessions of these things, being conscious of them himself; but complained of my charging him as a persecutor, and testifying against his envy and malice, which was Cain's way, and which his own violence and abuse against me did evidence he was justly chargeable with. This he took as a great affront, and reviling him, having come so far as from Hoxon to Ipswich, to prosecute me upon oath, which he could scarcely do without trembling, like one under some consternation, guilt, and great envy and revenge. Whether to gratify or pacify him, Edmund Harvey and others of the justices, were pleased to show the priest so much favor as to fine me twenty shillings, when a jury of ignorant men had brought in their unjust verdict or sentence against me, according to what the priest had falsely sworn; though I did clear my conscience in testimony against their persecution and partial proceeding against the innocent.

Being returned back to prison, I was there detained for some weeks, until their lord Protector, Oliver Cromwell died, in whose name I was committed, fined, and detained prisoner, as many others of our friends were in his days, and his son Richard Cromwell was proclaimed Protector in his place. In a short time after, my dear friend Robert Duncan, making application to his uncle Duncan of Ipswich, and to justice Edgar, or so the justices in my behalf, I was set at liberty from that imprisonment, in which I was confined about sixteen weeks in all, which I esteemed but a small suffering in comparison with what I had undergone before. I would give a further hint of priest Willan's envy and ignorance, with observations thereupon. Threatening some persons that were none of his hearers to get a writ from justice Barry for tithes or wages he pretended they owed him, he was asked in the presence of the justice, if it was just to receive wages from those that he had done no work for? The priest answered, "I pray for everyone in my parish, or that have heard were in parish, whether they come to hear me or not."

The priest and justice agreed in an action against the Quakers, though not in profession of religion, the one being a Presbyterian parish priest, and the other a member of Independent church, who pretended to be better reformed and more refined than the parish priests and their churches were; pretending to spiritual gifts, as having the spirit of Christ, and the other not to have that infallible spirit; the one for a parochial church without exception; the other for an independent church, better qualified to receive their communion; but in the spirit of persecution, both the priest and the justice were agreed.

We want scriptural proof of where any minister of Christ demands tithes or money of any people for praying for them. Neither is there any precedent or example in Scripture, where any of Christ's ministers sued men or procured a warrant from any magistrate to force them to their tithes or wages, either for preaching to them or praying for them; they both preached and prayed freely, as Christ commanded, by the spirit of Christ Jesus, which they had received of him.

But the said priest Willan confessed that he was not called by an infallible spirit, but claimed to have an infallible spirit in him. By which he showed that his preaching and praying proceeded from his own fallible erring spirit, and not from the spirit of Christ, which is an infallible and unerring Spirit. The Lord is against those foolish prophets who follow their own spirits, and have seen nothing. And "He that has not the spirit Christ, is none of his."

Now in what a sad case is that people, how miserable are they who are led by the blind guides who do not follow the spirit of Christ, but follow their own spirits! And what good are prayers from those who are none of Christ's? And what a poor bargain do people have who are forced to pay tithes or money for prayers from false prophets? This trade must surely come to an end where Christ comes to be the, priest, prophet, minister and bishop of his people.

After I was released from my imprisonment, I had very good and comfortable work of the gospel ministry, in several places in the country, particularly at Waltonside, in Suffolk, and at Manningtree, Colchester, and other towns in Essex, where we had quiet and comfortable meetings; things appeared then for a change to be pretty easy towards us and our meetings upon this new change in government by Richard, the Protector, so called. Still the envying spirit secretly remained, and the fruits in a sort of professing people supporting their teachers, against us the people called Quakers, and our religious meetings. They would not willingly allow any people to exercise their conscience but themselves, by which they could not exercise their conscience void of envy either toward God or men. Their own wills had greater sway over them without a just, equal, or tender conscience; they could have had some tender respect for the just, equal and divine precept of doing to others as they would have done to them; of which all persecutors' consciences were void, is evidenced in the following account.

In a meeting of our friends with me, being in the town of Ipswich, some weeks after my release out of prison, and our honest Friend Timothy Grimble, shipmaster, and his wife, wished us to meet at their house. Accordingly we had a good and peaceable meeting for the worship and service of Almighty God, and the manifestation of his blessed truth. Many honest people met, and the Lord's presence was known among us. But our adversaries in the town were still possessed with hate and envy against us and our meetings. They were in an anxious state, and plotted how to renew their persecution in their new Protector’s name to make him culpable and guilty like the persecutors had done by their mal-administration of inferior laws had often brought reproach upon superiors in government, when they have used their names. In the pursuit of these evil designs against us, to prevent Friends from having more meetings in their town, the following presentment was made against our friend Timothy Grimble.

Suffolk - The jury for his highness Richard, lord Protector of the commonwealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland and the dominions and territories thereunto belonging, upon their oaths do present, that Timothy Grimble, late of Ipswich, in the above county, mariner at Ipswich before said, the 7th day of January, 1658, and continually after, until the day of the taking this inquisition, has received into his house, countenanced, harbored and supported many dissolute, idle, loose, lewd and suspected persons; disturbers of the public peace, to the jurors unknown, commonly called Quakers, of evil conversation. He also keeps disorder, evil rule and government in his house, to the great nuisance of his neighbors and other people of this commonwealth, and against the peace."

The names of the said jury: John Mall, John Hamont, Thomas Wright, jr., John Donty, Robert Stebbing, Thomas Grigg, Charles Wright, John Gray, John Jolley, Samuel Humphrey, Edward Keen, Richard Humphrey, Joseph Haymor, Richard Clopton, Peter Cole, Robert Grows, Edmund Darby, Thomas Brook, Richard Thurston, William Goodale.

An Abstract of an answer that was given to the said presentment, by some Friends concerned.

Let all sober people observe how envious these jurymen and inquisitors have appeared against Timothy Grimble and his innocent friends.

1. Their presentment being grounded and made up of false accusations, gross lies and slanders. The meeting that we had at Timothy's house, which was on the 6th day of the eleventh month, 1658, was a peaceable meeting, for the service of God and his worship, and the holy truth therein held forth; and no cause thereby given for these jurors or any others, to be offended at such a meeting, which was both according to the law of God, and owned by him, and also tolerated by the government. What enmity and malignity therefore, appears in such a scandalous presentment, thus to defame an honest man for allowing a peaceable meeting, and entertaining quiet, innocent people at his house, who ought by law to be protected, and not punished for the exercise of their religion, or conscience toward God.

2. As for those called Quakers, whom Timothy Grimble received and harbored in his house, who they say are unknown to the jurors, some of their names are, Robert Duncan, Robert Grassingham, Joseph Scott, and George Whitehead; and they are well known to be no dissolute, no idle, no loose, no lewd or suspected persons, nor disturbers of the public peace, as they are unjustly defamed and reproached in the presentment given upon oath against them. But very well known to be sober, honest persons, and also responsible where they live.

What a large conscience did appear in these jurors, who could swear against men unknown to them, and upon oath present them so highly criminal, as being no other than dissolute, idle, loose, lewd, and suspected persons, while unknown to these their accusers and swearers against them.

3. We ask you jurors, where and when did we, called Quakers, whom you have sworn against, disturb the public peace? And what evil conversation can you charge or prove against us? If you cannot prove the matter of fact charged, and by this you have sworn against us, be ashamed. Surely those magistrates, or that court, that have such a presentment as yours, ought not to trust your oath to the same, but to examine you of the particular crimes or accusations charged, you having grossly and very unjustly defamed Timothy Grimble and his friends called Quakers, for which you are accountable. Let the magistrates inquire of you, what suspected persons he has harbored continually, and try you upon what ground you have cast such aspersions upon sober, honest men? And what disorder, evil rule and government, does Timothy Grimble keep in his house? What 'sober, honest neighbors’ will say that they are annoyed or disturbed by disorder, evil rule or government, kept at Timothy Grimble's? Produce your proofs for these accusations; or else like perjured persons, forever stop your mouths, and let shame cover your lips. For in this you have acted neither like rational men or Christians, or done as you would be done by! Would you take it well to be presented or indicted for entertaining your friends, as you have presented and grossly misrepresented Timothy Grimble for harboring his friends?

4. Many can witness, that the meetings we had at Timothy Grimble's house in Ipswich, were peaceable and lawful. And those priests and professors who were offended at them, had done more honestly or discreetly if they had come to our faces in our meetings to have manifested openly, what lewdness or errors were practiced or held forth by any of us, if they could; rather than to go behind our backs, to instigate the magistrates against us, without any just cause. But the deceit of those who have thus acted in the dark against the innocent, is made manifest to their shame; and the more by grossly abusing innocent people, as the said jurors and their abettors have done.

5. To swear at all, is a transgression against Christ's doctrine. But to present lies and slanders upon oath, to cause the innocent to suffer, is a much greater offence, which these jurors have done against Timothy Grimble and his friends, called Quakers, who are witnesses against all idleness, disorder, looseness, lewdness, and evil government whatever. Thus the wicked have made lies their refuge, and like men mad with envy, have forged such slanders against honest men, as are contained in the said presentment. So that we may even say with the prophet; They that were mad against us, were sworn against us.

Thus I have abstracted the substance and greatest part of our original answer, which was signed by Robert Duncan, George Whitehead, and Robert Grassingham.

George Whitehead's letter to the inhabitants of Ipswich, both teachers and people.

Oh! the pride, high-mindedness and self-conceitedness which abound in this town of Ipswich! What pretension, hypocrisy, and will-worshipping are among the believers, who ignorantly worship an unknown God according to their own wills; who have gotten words of the saints, and of the Scriptures of truth, but the light which led the saints they are out of, and have grieved and quenched the spirit of it, when it has appeared in their own consciences to convince them of sin and evil. So that their sin remains in them, and the curse of God has power over those who live in pride, deceit, superstition and ungodly conversation.

There has been a zeal stirring for the Lord in several of them formerly, according to what they knew; but now much deadness, coldness, emptiness and barrenness is over their spirits, and unrighteousness has the pre-eminence among them. The teachers have gotten the saints' words to speak of, and are painted over with an empty profession, and a feigned humility, but inwardly are proud, covetous and rebellious-resisting the truth, and make a trade upon the Scriptures; teaching for hire, and divining for money. Such the true prophets of God cried against; "For they are as women that sew pillows under people's arm holes, speaking peace to the wicked, where there is no peace. And they are as foxes in the deserts, that are greedy, waiting for their prey." And much willfulness and slavery is in the proud and covetous priests, and in many of the believers, who will not bring their deeds to the light, neither dare they try all things, as the apostle commanded, but cry out against us called Quakers behind our backs, but would not be tried face to face, nor allow others to come and try us face to face; though for the truth's sake several of us have suffered among them in prison. Many of the teachers incense the people against us and that which we profess, which is the truth; so are they kept in slavery and ignorance. And you professors in Ipswich, Christ may justly say to you; "I was a stranger and you did not take me in. I was in prison among you, and you did not visit me: as much as you did nothing for these little ones that believe in me, who have suffered among you, you did nothing for me."

Yet this from the Lord I declare unto you, that the day of visitation and the kingdom of God has come near you; and woe unto those who still walk on in filthiness, resisting and hating the light, which is God's witness in their own consciences, which convinces them of sin and evil, and reproves them when they commit it. Take heed how you always resist the truth, since the Lord has warned you; for fear that you perish in your iniquities, and your blood is on your own heads, and upon your teachers, who retain the wages of unrighteousness, and exercise lordship over you, to keep you in ignorance of the true light in yourselves, which Christ has enlightened you with, which all must come to and follow, whoever comes to be saved from the wrath of God, and from the curse which abides upon the children of disobedience. Away with all your empty professions, and let such as name the name of Christ, depart from iniquity. Away with all your proud and covetous teachers who preach for hire, who make a trade upon the saints' words, which were spoken forth freely from the Spirit of truth. Away with all your pride, gaudy attire, and superfluity of naughtiness, the Lord is grieved with you because of these things; you have not come to the modest apparel outwardly, nor to the true adorning inwardly, which is not costly nor gaudy attire, but it is that of a meek and quiet spirit, which is of great price with the Lord. "How long shall the Lord wait to be gracious to you," and yet you resist his grace, which has appeared to you, to teach you to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly and godly in this present evil world. How long shall the Lord warn you, and without your repenting? How often shall he call you, by his light in you, out of your filthiness, and yet you don’t answer him, nor listen to his voice? How often shall the Lord knock at the door of your hearts, and yet you have not opened to him? But know that his spirit will not always strive with man; but it comes to pass, that they that will be filthy, must be filthy still. Therefore as you love your souls take warning.

From a friend to all that desire to know the Lord, and one who for the gospel's sake, has lately suffered fifteen weeks, or above, in Ipswich prison.

Suffolk, the 1st day of the Ninth month, l608

George Whitehead

It was observable, that despite all the persecutions, reproaches and calumnies which we suffered under, and were multiplied against us, especially against those of us who did bear a public testimony for Christ Jesus and his truth, and against the corruptions of the world; that the truth gained ground and prevailed, and our numbers and meetings increased in those days of the commonwealth, so termed. The covetous, proud priests were sorely offended and disturbed, that so many of their hearers and benefactors left them and resorted to our assemblies; and though we that were public preachers of righteousness, had some respite and ease from open persecution in the years 1658 and 1659, after Richard Cromwell was set up for Protector; yet in his short time, those priests did not cease their persecution, by grossly misrepresenting and reproaching us in their pulpits and congregations, to incense people against us, and to deter and frighten them, however they could, from hearing us. But their pulpit noise against us made the indifferent, unprejudiced people the more inquisitive and willing to come to our assemblies to hear and see for themselves, and not to be so credulous and partial as to take all evil reports and reproaches upon trust against us, our doctrine or ministry, as too many have unjustly and injuriously done, to their own disgrace and shame.

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