The Missing Cross to Purity

The Christian Progress

of George Whitehead

Part V Continued

Disputes Continue

After some disputes between us and them with letters and manuscripts passing between John Horn and myself, I had a furious letter from him, containing his raging bull* of excommunication and repeated curse against me; which greatly showed the temper of his spirit, that he was not of a Christian, but of a bitter persecuting spirit. Some passages contained in his letter follow: "God stood by and enabled me to stop your mouth, and prove you to be such as the people ought to account accursed. The gall of bitterness you are in - deceivers, hardened in your way, and it is to no purpose to multiply answers, or writings, or words, to you that are self condemned; and the apostle bids, after the first and second admonition, reject a heretic, one that has chosen his own way, and is hardened therein. It is but labor in vain, to bestow writings or answers upon you? Seeing you are full of tergiversations [falsifications by means of vague or ambiguous language], craft and subtlety, and resolved in your way, ... And therefore I hereby reject you as a self condemned person, once and the second time admonished, or detected to be a deceiver; which is reason sufficient for my refusing to answer these, or any other future queries to you, upon whom there is no hope of any good to be done thereby, unless you recant and repent, ... Having written this rejection of you, I know you, being deceivers, cannot write anything worth the reading, for any rightness therein. We are satisfied, and so were the people that heard our discourse, very generally, that you Quakers, so called, are deceivers, and such as we ought to reject, and you are hardened in your evil way; your writings we know are full of equivocation and falsehood," ... And so ends John Horn’s accusations.

*a bull is an edict, patent, or charter from the Pope with with a special leaden seal, a bulla, that was attached to it for authentication. Whitehead is humorously comparing the letter from Horn to be a Papal edict or bull.

Remark. As to the judgment and rejection here denounced against me and the people called Quakers, as deceivers, accursed, heretics, etc., I am well satisfied in my conscience, that it is a mere piece of foul rubbish and presumptuous raillery, unjustly to defame and calumniate [to charge falsely with malicious intent of defamation] me and my friends, the said people; and as grossly false as it is, that the people that heard our discussion, were very generally so satisfied that we, who are called Quakers, are not deceivers. For the people generally, except a few of John Horn's scornful proselytes, were civil toward me at that discussion; and at the conclusion many of them were so kind, that they took care to see me safely attended and conducted out of the chancel and steeple-house, where we had the discussion, bo be sure no harm was received from any of the ruder sort. And the Lord by his power, so stood by me, that even those of the rougher sort, counted as of the mob, were so moderate and kind, that they attended me in my defense. For as I believed, so I felt the power of the Lord over all, to moderate, calm, and quiet their spirits, even beyond the doubts and fears, which beforehand had somewhat entered the spirits of some Friends. The Friends expected the seamen and others of the looser sort of people would then be at liberty, and they were fearful how our adversaries might incense them by vilifying and reproaching us. But blessed be the Lord our God, who stood by and defended us; to him who has bounded the sea and limited the waves thereof, be glory and dominion for evermore.

After these public discourses and controversies, with John Horn and Thomas Moor Jr, they published two books more against the people called Quakers; the one styled, A Fuller Discovery, by John Horn and Thomas Moor Sr and Thomas Moor Jr, and the other boastfully styled, Truth's Triumph, by John Horn.

An answer was given by George Whitehead to these books, titled Innocence elevated against Insolence. This book addressed and answered the matters in controversy more than the preceding answers already stated; and these men's envy and calumnies against us also detected, being far more numerous than are specified or touched upon in this brief account.

Our adversaries before mentioned, being implacably set against us, and bent in their persecuting spirit, to revile and reproach us and our holy profession, to possess the minds of other people with prejudice against us, occasioned a greater concern to be laid upon me from the Lord, the oftener to visit that town of Lynn, and to have the more meetings there for Truth's sake, and in good will to the people and true love to their souls, that they might not be misled through these adversaries' injurious calumnies and invidious noise.

And I had not only many considerable meetings of our friends and others in that town, but also several public discussions with our adversaries; as twice with John Horn and Thomas Moor, as before related. I also had three meetings public with William Falconer, a Presbyterian minister or priest, in Lynn, but not in their parish church, so called, but at certain convenient houses in that town.

To prepare us for a public discussion or dispute, William Falconer proposed the following nine questions, to which brief answers are likewise here given.

Question 1. Whether there are three persons in the Godhead?
. Three persons in the deity we cannot read of in holy Scripture; instead of three bearing witness in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit, and that the three are one.

Question 2. Whether the Scriptures are the rule to try doctrines and spirits?
Answer. The holy Scriptures are truly owned and esteemed a rule subordinate to the Holy Spirit, from which they were given forth; and by the help of the same Spirit, doctrines and spirits may be tried; but the Spirit is the supreme, universal guide and rule, which affords light and understanding, to discern and try both spirits and doctrines, to the truly spiritually minded; for discerning of spirits is a spiritual gift of the Holy Spirit. 1 Cor12:10.

Question 3. Whether the Scriptures are the Word of God and the means of salvation?

1. The Scriptures, i.e., the writings are not properly the Word, but Christ is the Word: In the beginning was the Word; John 1:1-3; Rev. 19:13; which the Scriptures were not; though the holy Scriptures contain the words, holy commands and doctrine of God and Christ; and they, i.e. the Scriptures, cannot be termed the Word of God, in a proper and strict sense, but rather figuratively, the effect (Scriptures) being substituted for the cause (the Spirit of Christ). The worlds were framed by the Word of God; Heb 11:3; not by the Scriptures.

2. The Scriptures are not the means of conversion and salvation universally; for we hope many may be and are converted and saved, who do not have a Bible, and also many who cannot read the Bible. But Christ, who is given to be the light of the Gentiles, and God's salvation unto the ends of the earth; He is the way to the Father, and his light is the universal and effectual means of conversion and salvation.

3. Sometimes true preaching is a means of conversion and salvation by the power of Christ; and the holy Scriptures being given for divine inspiration, are by his spirit made profitable to the man of God, [speaking of a mature person in Christ, taught by Christ, called and under orders by Christ - not any man who reads the scriptures], for doctrine, reproof and instruction in righteousness, that a man of God may be perfect. And they are able to make wise as to the way of salvation; but it is through faith, which is in Christ Jesus, who therefore is the efficient cause of salvation, he being our blessed and only Savior.

Site Editor's Comment: Before you need expertise in scripture, you need to get perfect.
Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Mat 5:48
Not be kind of perfect. Not perfect as you can. Not as perfect as humanly possible while trying.
Perfect - as your heavenly Father is perfect - a definitive qualification of perfect.
Perfect that is impossible without divine grace: to change us, to purify us, to make us like Him, perfect.
The only way you are ever going to be perfect is to abide in Jesus; whoever continues to feed on Me shall live through and because of Me. John 6:57
Let his Word and Light search your heart and show its defects to you; you repent, and He change you by grace - one defect at a time.
After you are perfect, Christ will personally open the scriptures to you, showing you the events within.

Question 4. Whether there is in every person a sufficient light to bring him to believe Christ?
Answer. Yes, Christ is the light of the world; that true light which enlightens every one that comes into the world, whose light directs and leads to him who gives it: Christ exhorted to believe in the light, that you may be children of the light; therefore his light is sufficient to bring men to the faith of Christ, and believe in him, even in his name and power.

Question 5. Whether believers are justified in the imputation of the righteousness of Christ, applied to them by faith, which he fulfilled without them in his flesh?
. This question is not a fair or clear question, but obscure and ambiguous; the terms not being explained, it may be equivalently turned into several meanings: however, in truth's simplicity and plainness I answer:

1. The application or imputation of Christ's righteousness, when made by himself, i.e. by his own spirit, unto believers, who truly apply their hearts to obey and follow him, is to their justification and salvation; yet not if experienced without the sanctification of his Holy Spirit and work within them; nor by any men's reckoning or applying to themselves the righteousness of Christ, or his obedience considered only without them, while sin and disobedience are continued within them; “If I do not wash you said Christ, you have no part with me."

2. Christ's obedience, even unto the death of the cross, though it was for us, to make peace, and obtain great good for us, as mercy and eternal redemption, yet that will not justify or save us, unless we yield sincere obedience unto him in us also.

3. There are too many that please themselves! Yes in their polluted sinful state, with a false faith, imputing or reckoning to themselves that, which in reality, they have no share in: as that of Christ's righteousness only, without them, while they themselves are filthy and unrighteous still; not agreeable to the justified state of true believers, who are washed, sanctified, and justified, in the name of our Lord Jesus, and by the spirit of our God. 1 Cor 6:11.

Site Editor's Comments:
The blind guides want us to rely on the "imputed righteousness of Christ" to us, based on our faith; as it was with Abraham.
Abraham was imputed righteous because his was obedient to God's voice.
We are imputed righteousness after we have crucified our sinful nature by obedience on the cross.
Abraham went on to be circumcised
, just as we must receive the spiritual circumcision- our heart circumcised from sin.
As Abraham exercised his faith to leave his home for a new land - so we forsake the world to enter God's Kingdom.
No, we must go to Him to receive his cleansing grace to become righteous- the fruit of which is peace;
the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever. Isaiah 32:17

Do you not know that to whom you yield yourselves as slaves to obey, you are the slaves of whom you obey; whether of sin that leads to death, or of obedience that leads to righteousness? Rom 6:16

Question 6. Whether all, or any believers attain to such a perfection in this life, as to be without sin?
. Yes; those true believers who are born of God, and abide in Christ; whose work is to destroy the devil's works, and to put an end to sin, and finish transgression, and bring in everlasting righteousness. These believers attain to such a sinless perfection in this life.

Question 7. Whether the Lord's supper - administered in bread and wine - and baptism with water, are not the standing ordinances of Jesus Christ until the end of the world?


1. In the first part he begs the question, and imposes without proving, the priest's ministering bread and wine to be the Lord's supper; for the supper of the Lord, Christ, with his own disciples, consisted not only in bread and wine - or the cup - but chiefly the passover, which was typical and legal, and therefore not any standing ordinance of Jesus Christ; Luke 22; Mat 26:18.

2. Baptism with, or in water, was John's baptism, and not Christ's baptism, nor a standing ordinance, but a decreasing, shadowy, or typical ministration; and John, as he preferred Christ before himself, so he preferred Christ's spiritual baptism above his own. The dispensation of Christ and the new covenant, a dispensation of substance, not of shadows; and the higher the sun rises, and the brighter the same shines, the more the shadows decrease and flee away.

3. But I take it for granted, this questioner, the Presbyterian minister, by baptism with water, did not mean what was properly water baptism, as John's was; but sprinkling infants on their faces; which is no real or proper baptism, but rather Ranterism, for which there is no foundation in the scriptures

Question 8. Whether the present ministry of England, whom the Quakers revile, is not the true ministry of Christ?
. That we revile them, is not true; yet we do not believe them to be the true ministry of Christ, or called by Christ to be his ministers; for if we did, we would not dissent from them. And the same cause of dissent which we had in those days, i.e. or the Commonwealth, so called, we have still, namely: the great corruption, avarice, and pride of priests and ministers,

Question 9. Whether the same body which dies, shall rise again?
. For answer, I refer to the apostle's answer to the like question, which was, "How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?" His answer in a way of allusion, simile, was, "You fool, what you sow, is not quickened unless it dies; and what you sow, you sow not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain: but God gives it a body as it pleases him; and to every seed his own body." And to speak more plainly in his negative, of the sameness or the body, he said; "Now this I say brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither does corruption inherit incorruption."

William Falconer promised beforehand, to dispute the seventh and eighth questions at any time and place, and on such conditions as should, by some men of each party, be seen fit; and that he would prove the ministry of England to be the ministry of Christ. This he promised at Isabel Barnet's, of Lynn, the 17th day of-the eighth month, 1659. But at our first dispute or discourse, we got not to the seventh and eighth questions, but upon some of the questions before. When we had met in a large room, yet small enough-to contain the people, I gave an answer to his first question, according to Scripture, and to the same effect as I have answered it before; but that would not satisfy him, unless I would answer his question in his own terms, i.e. about the personalities or three distinct persons in the deity. Because he wished to prove by Scripture these terms, he partly insisted on Psalm 2:7, “The Lord has said unto me, you are my Son, this day have I begotten you.” But hereby he did not prove the terms, three persons in the deity, or three distinct equally eternal personalities in the Godhead according to their principle. For he could not deny that Christ the Son of God, was begotten in time, and that, This day have I begotten thee, was an net in time; and yet the Son of God, the eternal Word, was in and with God from eternity, before days and time; and in due time proceeded and came out from God; "In the fullness of time God sent his Son made of a woman, made under the law," ...

The holy Scripture trinity, or three thereby meant, we never questioned, but believed; as also the unity of essence, that they are one substance; one divine, infinite Being; and also we question not, but sincerely believe the relative properties of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, according to holy Scripture testimony, Mat 28:19; and that, “These three are one.” 1 John 5:7.

William Falconer, being deficient in Scripture proof of their terms, Three persons in the Godhead, our discourse of that point, and first question, soon went off, and with ease to us; George Fox Jr., being also with me at our first discourse with William Falconer.

I well remember in a conference which we had with Dr. Tennison, archbishop of Canterbury, our friends, Gilbert Latey, and Dr. Thomas Lower, present; the bishop and I, in some friendly discussion about the trinity as to their definition of a person, what a person is. I told the bishop I had discussed with many, especially of the learned, about this point; and that upon the definition of a person, or what the word person means, I could never find them consistent, but contradicting themselves, on their own article of faith; as when they thus define person, namely, an intelligent being; or individual substance, of a rational nature, as Thomas Aquinas, who has been quoted against us, said; "A person is an individual substance, of a rational nature, which is neither a part of another, nor upheld by another." In mentioning this to the archbishop, I told him that to assert three persons in the deity, was false because they are not three beings, or three substances. I confessed I could never reconcile that there were three distinct or separate persons, and not three substances, but one substance or being; because a person is a rational substance by their own account. And since they deemed it blasphemy to hold the blessed trinity to be three substances, or three beings, which made them three Gods; how then are they three distinct persons, i.e. rational substances. These, as I told the archbishop, I could never reconcile; for if they are not three distinct substances, they are not three distinct persons. To which he ingenuously answered; “It is safest or best to keep to Scripture words or terms in expressing such weighty matters of faith, concerning the deity, and not to express them in metaphysical terms of philosophy, or the like, which are not in holy Scripture." And truly I was glad when I heard such an honest confession from him. [For it was they who had used the terms of beings and substances to start with.]

As to the second question, and first part of the third, we had little controversy after we gave precedence to the holy Spirit over the Scriptures, as being the chief guide and rule, and the holy Scriptures as truly useful in their place, under the help and guidance of the Spirit; and the Word [Christ] as higher than the Scriptures. But on the second part of the third question, whether the Scriptures are the means of conversion and salvation; and on the fourth question, of the sufficiency of the light in man to bring him to be a true believer in Christ; which tends to resolve the conclusion of the third, when truly answered and distinguished between the internal Word, the Light, and the Scriptures. Here arose the chief controversy, the priest giving the preference to the Scriptures, from the text in 2 Pet 1:19; “We have a more sure word of prophecy; to which we do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns, and the day-star arises in your hearts." The priest would have this more sure word to be the Scriptures of the prophets, which I was constrained to oppose,* considering where and between what the comparison more sure word consisted; as being between the voice that came from heaven to Christ on the Mount - which Peter and James and John heard - and the word, the light, or the spirit of prophecy, in the hearts of those believers, who did not hear that voice from heaven, nor there with Peter, James and John in the mountain, when they heard that voice from the excellent glory from heaven. Yet that voice was certainly true, that Christ was the Beloved Son of God, whom, by that voice they were required to hear. It is not said, you have also a more true word of prophecy, but a more sure word. It was more sure to them who had it in their hearts constantly to take heed to, and to guide them to the arising of the day-star in their hearts, even the bright and Morning Star. I say this word, this light, which they had in their hearts, must be more sure to them than that voice which they never had nor heard; it being especially and peculiarly heard by three disciples, not by all believers; but this internal word or light, is generally manifest, and continues in the believers, who wait for the appearance of Christ in spirit.

*George Fox similarly opposed this blundering interpretation of scripture. From his Journal:

As I went towards Nottingham on a First-day in the morning, with Friends to a meeting there, when I came on the top of a hill in sight of the town, I saw the great steeple-house: and the Lord said unto me, ‘You must go cry against that distant great idol, and against the worshippers inside.’ I said nothing of this to the Friends, but went with them to the meeting, where the mighty power of the Lord God was among us; in which I left Friends sitting in the meeting, and went to the steeple-house. When I came there all the people looked like fallow ground, and the priest, like a great lump of earth, stood in his pulpit above: he took for his text these words of Peter, ' We have also a more sure word of prophecy, which you do well to heed, as unto a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day-star arise in your hearts.' He told the people this was the scriptures, by which they were to try all doctrines, religions, and opinions. Now the Lord's power was so mighty upon me, and so strong in me, that I could not hold; but was made to cry out, 'Oh! no, it is not the scriptures;' and told them what it was, namely, the holy spirit, by which the holy men of God gave forth the scriptures, by which opinions, religions, and judgments were to be tried; for it led into all truth, and so gave the knowledge of all truth. For the Jews had the scriptures, yet resisted the holy ghost, and rejected Christ, the bright morning-star, and persecuted Christ and his apostles, and took upon them to try their doctrines by the scriptures, but erred in judgment, and did not try them aright, because they tried them without the holy ghost.

The priest would have this more sure word of prophecy, unto which Peter directed them, to be the Scriptures of the prophets, who prophesied of Christ to come, before he came. To which I answered; the voice from the excellent glory, which Peter, James and John heard, when they were with Christ on the mount, testified of Christ having come, saying; "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him." Therefore this voice and testimony so expressed to them, must be more sure than the Scriptures of the prophets, written before he had come. It would be no small perversion of Peter's words, to turn them thus: although we have a voice and testimony from heaven, that Christ the Messiah is come already, yet ye have also more sure Scriptures of the prophets, which foretell and declare unto you that the Messiah is to come, and that ye do well to take heed thereunto until he comes. This denies Christ to have already come, contrary to the testimony just given him being the Father's son from heaven, to and by three of his faithful and credible witnesses, Peter, James and John. And though that voice from heaven was sure and certain, to them who heard it [the three disciples only], yet that Word, that Light of Christ, which in many appears as a light shining in a dark place, even in dark hearts, is more sure to them than that voice or vision which they have not heard or seen, [as reported as prophecy in Scripture]. This word or light, will be known to be a very sure guide and rule; it will prophesy, open, and show things to come, especially to those who do well, that is, in taking timely heed thereunto.

This point about the more sure word held longest in dispute, but I argued the matter so closely, the Lord standing by and assisting me, that the priest appeared to come down in his spirit, as one under some conviction when his logic failed him; which being observed, George Fox the younger called out to him to mind that which convinced him in his own conscience of the truth, that had been demonstrated to him; to which he made no reply that I remember, but appeared more moderate, and less in prejudice than either of our adversaries before, namely, John Horn and Thomas Moor.

There was little discussion, if any at that time, upon the 4th, 5th and 6th questions, about the sufficiency of the light in men, perfection and justification, which therefore I shall not, nor need no, here insist upon, having answered them already before.

At our second meeting, many considerable persons and others of Lynn were gathered together, and were generally civil, as they were before. William Falconer had some time before promised to prove the ministry of England to be the true ministry or Christ, in answer to his 8th question, which he then affirmed, but could not grant, and put him upon proof in several respects.

1. Because they could not be the ministry, ministers, or messengers of Christ, unless they were called, gifted, qualified and sent by him, as his ministers and messengers ought to be;* but of this the priest gave no proof or demonstration from, or according to holy Scripture. The laying the hands of the Presbytery upon him for approbation, alleged from 1 Tim 4:14, could not evidence this person either gifted or called by Christ Jesus into his ministry. It could not prove him to be either so qualified or gifted, or a minister of Christ, as Timothy was; for those elders who gave their approbation of Timothy, and signified the same by laying on of hands, no doubt understood he was well gifted and qualified, in order to be employed in the work of Christ's ministry; for Paul thus exhorted him in the very place pleaded; Neglect not the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the Presbytery or elders; one of whom Paul was. 2 Tim 1:6.

*The ministers of Christendom are not taught by the Lord's voice and light, not perfected by the Lord, not gifted with an authorized ministry, not sent by the Lord, and not speaking words from the Spirit of the Lord; rather they speak from their carnal minds, the nature of death, and preach their vain opinions from the imagination of their evil hearts. As Jesus said: He who speaks from himself (from his own mind) seeks his own glory; but he who seeks the glory of the One who sent him, that man is true, and there is no unrighteousness in him. John 7:18

This Presbytery or company of elders, owned both the inward divine gift, and prophecy in those days, which Timothy partaking of to prepare him for his ministry, was approved of by those elders in Christ, who knew Timothy; by which we could not therefore believe that those of that Presbytery, which were of William Falconer's society, could either make or confirm him to be a minister of Christ, or prove him called by Christ unto his ministry. No more than if he should have argued, because Timothy and Titus were ministers of Christ, and approved and encouraged by St. Paul; therefore, I William Falconer, am a minister of Christ, approved by my brethren of the Presbytery, which would be but a poor way of arguing; according to which any false pretender may claim a part in Christ's ministry; but no sincere honest man or minister of Christ Jesus will say, or argue, that because Peter and Paul were Christ's ministers and ambassadors, therefore I am a minister of Christ.

2. Their education at their academies, schools, and colleges, to learn and study natural arts and sciences, philosophy, and divinity, etc., and esteeming such learning and acquirements essential to their ministry, or to qualify them for divines or gospel ministers, or to this effect was objected against their being Christ's ministers.

3. Besides, their colleges erected by Papists in the dark times of Popery, and many of them called by saints' names; this was also objected against their ministry, as not being called by Christ, but set up by man, and in the will of man.

The priest's chief plea or allegation for their colleges, was, that there was a college in Jerusalem. 2 Kings 22:14; 2 Chron 34:22.

I showed the meeting that was no sufficient proof or warrant for their colleges now, to educate men for Christ's ministry, or to make them Christ's ministers, by natural learning and study at these colleges; this could be no proof of Christ's call or ministry. In that college or second court, as it is called in Jerusalem, dwelled Huldah the prophetess, to whom Josiah, king of Judah, sent Hilkiah the priest and others, to inquire of the Lord for him, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of the book of the law, when it was read before the king. 2 Kings 22. Here was a good woman, a prophetess, who dwelled in this college, or second court, to whom the king sent a priest and others, his servants, for counsel. It appears the king had more confidence in this woman, than in the priest, as also believing she had more of the counsel of God, and more understanding of his law and judgments written within her than the priest had; or else he had no need of sending the priest to her for counsel. She had the spirit and gift of prophecy, to discover judgments when coming or approaching, which were foretold in the law of Moses. It was by this divine gift, as appears, she could expound the law better that the priests. Yet she did not have knowledge or learning from the college, or by natural learning, for she was a prophetess, endued with the spirit and gift of prophecy, which did not come by the will of man, nor was it of man, but of God and from him.

While these colleges pleaded for their right to make ministers, i.e. the ministry of England, they could not make ministers such as the above prophetess; neither do the colleges even acknowledge the possibility of prophets or prophesying in this day. They say that both prophesying and revelations have ceased, [truly they have ceased for all false prophets], as many of priests have declared, and generally do conclude. Consequently they have no divine or immediate call from Christ into his ministry, but only a human call from men, when educated in human learning, without being qualified or gifted by the Holy Spirit.

Yet we allow and own human learning in its place, as useful and necessary in many respects, [except training for the ministry]; but we do not idolize it as to think men may be thereby made divines* or ministers of Jesus Christ, for they must be of Christ's own education and calling. And what authority do they have, either the Presbytery or Episcopacy, to authorize others to be Christ's ministers, who themselves are not authorized by his spirit and power, i.e., the same spirit which the holy apostles, primitive elders, and overseers had? Surely their ceremony of laying on of hands cannot transmit such authority, spirit, and power, nor give them divine authority.

*a divine was someone who had studied the Bible in Greek, Latin and Hebrew, thereby becoming an expert in the divine tongues; actually they were called a divine. George Fox frequently ridiculed this distinction and title, saying by this qualification, Pilate, the Roman governor who crucified Christ, was the first divine, for Pilate had written a sign in all three languages saying "Jesus the Nazarene, the King of the Jews," which he had placed at the top of the cross.

Our discourse about their colleges did not continue much longer, and the meeting ended civilly and quietly. The audience was disappointed that their parson had not proved the ministry of the Church of England to be the true ministry of Christ, which is impossible to prove, both as to their call, conversation, and practices. We have found these college made ministers to be without any of these, for the true ministers of Jesus Christ were free from pride and greed, preaching the gospel without charge to anyone; as Christ, their Lord and Master required of them. But this was not true of England’s proud and covetous priests and ministers.

We had another meeting at the house of our friend Isabel Barnet, in Lynn, in a large parlor, at which William Falconer's seventh question was entered upon, about water baptism, and what he termed the Lord's supper; esteeming both standing ordinances of Jesus Christ, until the end of the world, according to his question before cited, which he affirmed that it required proof on his part. Since I had a negative view, he accused me of denying all ordinances, which was not true, truly inferred against me from my recitation of Col 2:20-22; “If you are dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why as though living in the world are you subject to ordinances? Touch not, taste not, handle which are all to perish with the using, after the commandments and doctrines of men.” This instance could not be a denial of all ordinances, nor of any that are standing in force, and to continue by divine appointment, and the dispensation of the new covenant, which consists not in carnal ordinances, or human institutions or impositions, nor yet in things elementary, typical or shadowy, but is a dispensation of spirit, life and substance. Christ was ordained and appointed of God to be our High Priest and minister of this new and everlasting covenant.

William Falconer alleged Mat 28:19, and Acts 10:47 for water baptism being an ordinance of Christ to continue to the end of the world; thereby he fell short, though he used the Baptist's plea for his proof, yet his practice and theirs differ, in their baptizing believers, as they describe them, and his sprinkling infants. But in reply to those scriptures pleaded:

1. There is no water mentioned in the first; "Go you therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them, or rather into, the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." Here is no water mentioned; their gospel ministry was a spiritual, powerful, baptizing ministry, even into the name, power and spirit of our heavenly Father, and or his Son Christ Jesus, and his Holy Spirit; for as the apostle said, "Our gospel came not to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance."

2. Neither will Peter's questions or command to those Gentiles, mentioned in Acts 10: 47-48, prove water baptism a standing ordinance of Christ to the end or the world; for water baptism was John's baptism, decreasing and giving place to Christ's baptism, and being allowed in the church's infancy, to show a respect to those believing Gentiles, as well as to the Jews; all this proves it not an ordinance or Christ, nor its standing to the end of the world.

Neither was water baptism included in Paul's commission, as William Falconer affirmed, for Paul declares the contrary; "For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel;" nor will these words bear such a construction, as that baptism was not the principal thing he was sent for, as William Falconer construed them. Paul did not say, Christ sent me not only to baptize, but also to preach, but positively, "Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel." This was the general and plain reason he gives, why he thanks God he baptized none, and no other of them but Crispus and Gaius, and the household of Stephanus: his particular reason was, "Lest any should say, that he baptized in his own name." But his general reason is more extensive; "For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel." Certainly if he had had a commission to baptize as well as to preach, he would not have denied his commission, nor have thanked God for his neglecting, or not performing it but to so very few, far short of the number of those he preached unto: this in substance I insisted upon.

It may therefore be rationally concluded, first, that if Paul was not sent to baptize, that is with water, but to preach the gospel, the commission the other apostles had, Mat. 28:19, does not include or intend water baptism, for Paul's commission was as large and comprehensive as the rest had; he had the whole counsel of God to declare, not being behind the most eminent apostles. Therefore his complying to baptize a few at Corinth, must be rather in condescension, than by a commission from Christ.

But what insincerity or hypocrisy is it, for any of those ministers or priests to use the arguments of those called Anabaptists, for water baptism to continue in this gospel day, from Mat. 28:19, and Acts 10: 47, when thereby they do not mean that which is the real baptism of water, but sprinkling the faces of infants with a little water, when they know that sprinkling is Ranterism, and not baptism [as John baptized in the river].

Thus my opposer at last argued for infants' baptism, so miscalled, which was: That as the promise was to Abraham and his seed, so all infants of believers are as visibly the members of the church, and have right to the outward privileges of the gospel covenant as their parents, and therefore have right to water baptism, as all the seed of Abraham had to circumcision.

This is an old, worn and torn argument, still stated without any Scripture proof, either that sprinkling infants is real baptism, or that it is a privilege of the gospel covenant, or that Christ has set it and enjoined it in the room or place of circumcision, as if that were a type or sprinkling infants. But we have no Scripture proof for any of these, or to ascribe any of these to that human tradition of sprinkling water on infants' faces, both of male and female; whereas it was only the males of the seed of Abraham, who were circumcised. How then could circumcision typify this infants' baptism, [as applied both male and female] as it is miscalled?

When 1 Cor 12:13 was instanced, that it was the baptism of the spirit by which true believers were baptized into the church, William Falconer said that referred to water baptism, yet confessed there was both an inward baptism of the spirit, and an outward baptism of water, by which they were baptized into the church or body of Christ, thereby adding to the express words or the text; "We are all baptized by one spirit into one body," He does not say we are all baptized by two baptisms, that of water and that of the spirit into one body. Therefore the one saving and uniting baptism is that of the Spirit; as there is one body and one spirit, so there is one Lord, one faith, and one baptism: Eph 4: 4-5. Clearly, just as there are no multiple Lords, there are no multiple baptisms.

There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism. Eph 4:4-5

Concerning their sacrament of bread and wine, as their terms are, called the Lord's supper, he said that the passover was not included in the Lord's supper; which was expressly contrary to plain Scripture. The passover was prepared or made ready as Christ required his disciples, which he and they did eat at his supper; Luke 22, Mat 26. And it appeared to be the principal part of his and their last supper, at the feast of the passover, which was a legal feast, supper and type, fulfilled and ended by Christ.

We proceeded not far upon this point, our friend Thomas Briggs being with me, gave a powerful testimony to Christ, as being the bread of life from heaven, the substance and end of the shadows, and who gives life and nourishment to the immortal soul.

When we had discoursed but a short time upon this subject, a discomposed man stood up in the meeting, which was crowded, and made a hideous noise and was clamorous, which put the people into a great disturbance and uproar, many being surprised and frightened with the clamor he made, and the uproar he occasioned. William Falconer, the priest himself, appeared sorely amazed and frightened, so that he was past disputing against the Quakers, and great care was taken by some of his hearers to get him safely conveyed out of the house, for he was glad to be gone; so in a little time they crowded him out of the meeting and house, and he went out of doors trembling, having a friend of ours - who told me - by the hand as he went out,

The man that made the disturbance in the meeting, did, in like manner, make a disturbance at the other meeting which I had in the chancel with John Horn; upon which Thomas Moor unjustly reported, that it was the fruit George Whitehead's ministry, when the contrary was well known, that my ministry was, as it still is, the ministry of the gospel of peace, tending to turn people's minds from darkness and distractions to the true light, and to settle them in it, to wait upon God without distraction.

Although that turbulent person had been partly convinced of the truth, and for some time had come to our friends' meetings, yet he had not kept his mind low and humble, in the measure of light given him, to feel and understand the power and spirit of Christ to work in him unto sanctification and self-denial. So he grew conceited and exalted in his imaginations; and he set up a righteousness and made a cross of his own imagination, thinking he would thereby make himself more righteous than all other Friends, and a judge over all. But the enemy of his soul prevailed to hurry and disorder his mind and spirit, so that he went from a self-righteousness and singularity, to run into confusion, vain and distracted imaginations, and turbulent behavior; though I question not, he was not without sufficient and seasonable instruction and warning to the contrary.

I had early drawings in spirit to visit the city of Norwich, and county of Norfolk, in the year 1654, and among other places in the same county, to visit Buckingham, Gissing, and Pulham-side, in which parts I believed the Lord had a people to bring forth, as it afterwards came to pass. Hearing of Thomas Benton, a noted teacher or pastor of an Independent people about Pulham, I believed that some, if not many, of them would be gathered from among them, out of their formal profession and worship, unto the light, life and power of God, and of Christ Jesus.

At a certain time being informed that the Thomas Benton was to preach at a lecture at Diss, in Norfolk, in the spring of 1655, a weight came upon me to go to the steeple-house. My dear friend Robert Duncan, accompanied me, and I stayed there and heard Benton preach until he had finished. I was then moved to call to him and tell him, "You have been weighed and found too light." And so he was proved upon further trial afterward, as I am about to relate.

He seemed to be somewhat stirred and offended at my speaking to him, and prepossessed against the people called Quakers, by some priest's book out of the north. As I remember, it was titled The perfect Pharisee under monkish holiness, distributed by the priests of Newcastle. However, I was quickly pushed out of the steeple-house by his instigation; at then I stood upon a tomb or grave stone, and preached the truth in power and plainness, showing the barrenness and fruitlessness of the people under such ministers, and their dead ministry; and how the vineyards of such vine dressers were grown over with briars and thorns; and what cause they had to howl and lament. The people heard me quietly for a pretty space; but some rude persons, after I stepped down, would have set me in the stocks; but others, one which was the schoolmaster, prevented them. I then had ample time then to clear my conscience.

Four plus years after that meeting, I obtained a public meeting with Thomas Benton, at his parish church, as it is called, at Pulham, which was on the 4th day of the eighth month, 1659.

The chief points of our controversy were: 1) about the light within or in man, and 2) ministers taking tithes of their hearers in this gospel day; the first I advocated, i.e. the light of God and Christ in man; the second I opposed, i.e. tithes, etc. The first question addressed to Thomas Benton for discussion was whether every man in the world is enlightened with a spiritual light, yes or no?

His answer was, that he denied that every man is enlightened with a spiritual light; but with a natural light, - as the light of reason, creation light, or the like; yet confessed that first man is enlightened by Christ as a Creator, but not as a Mediator.

In this his inconsistency was apparent, for if every man is enlightened by Christ as Creator, then every man is enlightened with a spiritual, divine light; for since Christ is Creator, he is a divine, spiritual Light, and the fountain of light, for God is a spirit, and light also, in whom is no darkness at all.

Nevertheless, Thomas Benton confessed that the word enlighten, is with a light within, in the soul, but that he could not fully interpret that scripture, John 1:9. Wherein he showed some ingenuousness in confessing his shortcoming. And it may be observed, he did not demonstrate from Scripture his distinction of two different lights in men, as one from Christ as Creator, that is only natural in all men; and another light, which is spiritual, from Christ as Mediator, only in some men. Christ himself speaks more plainly and generally; “I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believes on me should not abide in darkness."

But to render the light of the Creator natural, or natural reason, and the light of Christ spiritual, is not only to divide the light, which is one, but to set the light of the Mediator above the light of the Creator.

John the evangelist testified of Christ the Word, that was with God and was God, that he was the true Light, which lights every man that comes into the world; and that in him was life, and the life was the light of men; John 1:1-4, 9. This life of the eternal Word, is above any natural light or natural reason, for it is a divine principle of life and light.

And, "God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, has shined in our hearts;" for what end? To give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ: 2 Cor 4. Therefore, before we have that knowledge or degree of light given, God shines in our hearts to give it to us; and still it is the light and glory of one and the same God and Christ Jesus, gradually revealed and made known in us.

Moreover we ought to consider, that Christ, as he is God and man, does not act or give spiritual gifts separately from God the Creator, whether they are light, grace, spirit, power or wisdom; for Jesus Christ, when he speaks as man, or as Mediator, always gives preference to the heavenly Father; as when he said, "The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he sees the Father do: and my Father works here, and I work."

And likewise, what power, glory, spirit, life, light and wisdom, the Son has to give or impart to men, especially to true believers, his followers, it is all first given him by the Father. He received gifts for men; yes, for the rebellious also, that the Lord God might dwell among them; Psalm 68:18. From whom did he receive them, but of his heavenly Father?

As our heavenly Father and his dear Son are not divided, no more is their light - it is one individual light and life; the fullness of the Father dwells in Christ the Son of the living God, in whom it pleased the Father, that all fullness should dwell; Col 1:19. And to give all power in heaven and earth unto him; Mat 28:18. Although to every one of us is given grace, according to the measure or the gift of Christ; Eph 4:7. What he has of light and grace in fullness, who received the spirit not by measure, but in immensity or immense fullness, he gives to us by measure, and the knowledge thereof gradually, if we are sincerely obedient to his gift.

Thomas Benton also affirmed, that if those Gentiles mentioned, Rom 2:14, had improved that light to the utmost which they had, it had not been sufficient for them to salvation.

This is still relative to his mistaken notion, that they had only a light from God the Creator, but not from Christ the Mediator, which appears contrary to the text, Rom 2:13-15. For both Jews and Gentiles were all to be judged, even the secrets of men, without exception, by Jesus Christ, according to the gospel; verse 16. But if they are to be judged and condemned, either because they did not have a sufficient light given to them by God to save them, or no gospel light by Jesus Christ, for them to improve unto salvation; this renders God and Christ both unmerciful and unjust judges. What! Judge and condemn men for not improving, or not obeying a light, law or gospel, which they never had, nor might have, if not given unto them? Or when they made the best improvement they could of that light given unto them, yet for all this, to fall short of salvation, and consequently to be judged unto condemnation. O! Unmerciful and cruel, and contrary to common justice among men; and surely such doctrine cannot be according to the gospel of the free grace of God in Jesus Christ; but rather agreeable to the partial, narrow notion of believers in predestination, and such as would by their doctrine limit and confine the grace and love of God to only a small select number of mankind.

Such partial opinion is manifestly repugnant to the free and universal love of God; with whose great love his dear Son Jesus Christ, was so fully replenished, that he was correctly called the Son of his love; which he has so freely and universally extended unto the world, according to the good will of his heavenly Father, in all the good he has done and given to the children of men; and therefore the love of Christ testified of in holy Scripture, is truly the love of God in him to us all.

And if God spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all; how shall he not with him, also freely give us all things? Rom 8:32.

Jesus Christ showed his own and his heavenly Father's great love to all men, as he is the light of the world, and given for a light unto the Gentiles, and to be God's salvation to the ends of the earth; and also in his dying for all men; by the grace of God tasting death for every man; giving himself a ransom for all men, and in making intercession both for transgressors and for the saints; also according to the will of God, even in heaven itself, he appears in the presence of God for us; and also by his Holy Spirit in all true believers. His Spirit makes intercession, helps our infirmities, moves and assists us in prayer. They who are sons of God, are sensible that he has sent forth the Spirit of his Son into their hearts, crying, Abba Father; Gal 4:6.

The humility, mercy and condescension of Jesus Christ, our blessed Mediator, are such that he is touched with the feeling or our infirmities, weaknesses and temptations, and ready to succor, help, and relieve all those that are tempted, even by his grace and good Spirit, in their drawing near to the throne of his mercy and grace.

O faithful Creator, O King of saints, O merciful High Priest, O compassionate Mediator, let your light and your truth shine forth more and more, to the glory of your great and excellent name and power, and expel the great darkness of apostasy that has covered many nations and professions of Christianity, and greatly appeared in these latter times against your light, your truth and people, whom you have called and delivered out of darkness by your marvelous light. Glory and dominion be to your great name and power, forever and ever.

To return to the matter in controversy, my opposer Thomas Benton, affirmed that it was a corrupt nature by which those Gentiles -mentioned in Rom 2:14 – did those things contained in the law, which he confessed was the moral law, or ten commandments. In this proposition the man was as far out as in the rest of his mistakes; for who can bring a clean thing [observing the law] out of an unclean corrupt nature? Do men gather grapes of thorns? Or can an evil tree bring forth good fruit? Certainly not! No more could those Gentiles by a corrupt, unsanctified nature, do those things contained in the righteous law of God; which requires sincere and entire love to him, and true love to our neighbors as to ourselves. If by a corrupt nature, this law may be performed, by what nature is it transgressed, where men neither love their Creator nor their neighbors?

The opposer did not well consider the text of Rom 2:14, nor the state of those Gentiles, who did by nature the things contained in the law; whom the apostle does instance in justification; verse 13. Though they had not the law, i.e. in the letter, they had the spirit, even in their hearts. And what was the work of the law in their hearts, being written therein? Surely it was a sanctifying work in them, from where their performance proceeded. The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; Psalm 19:7. Therefore their performance of those things contained in the law of God, was not by, or in a depraved nature, but in a converted, sanctified, or reformed nature and state.

Other gross mistakes and errors were at that dispute committed by Thomas Benton, as, that those mentioned, Rom 1:20, saw the invisible things of God by a natural light; and that natural men might clearly see the eternal power of God as a Creator, but not Christ as a Mediator.

In this, his mistake was notorious; for the invisible things of God there mentioned, are his eternal power and deity, or Godhead, and they, who understood and saw them from the creation, were of those Gentiles who knew God, and yet liked not to retain him in their knowledge, but became vain in their imaginations, by which their foolish hearts were darkened; and so they became miserable apostates. The sight and knowledge they sometimes had of God and his eternal power was not by a natural light or knowledge; but by a spiritual divine light, given them by God; and their knowledge they had of God, and their understanding and sight of his invisible things, originally sprang from a divine principle in them; seeing, that which might be known of God was manifest in them, for it was God that showed the same unto them; Rom 1. Insomuch that they themselves were without excuse in their decline from the same. For it is plain, that the natural man neither receives, nor can know the things of the spirit of God, they being spiritually discerned; 1 Cor 2:14. All men are surely vain by nature who are ignorant of God, and cannot know him, that is, by the good things that are seen; Wisdom 13:1.

Men must be changed and renewed in the spirit of their minds, in some measure, before they can clearly see or know the invisible things of God, or of his spirit. It is not by the spirit of this world, nor by the wisdom of it, nor yet by any mere natural light, that those things of God, which he has freely given unto us, are made known unto us, but by the Spirit, which is of God; 1 Cor 2:10. Which Spirit being obeyed, we follow God's teachings and drawings thereby, and shall not fall short of the knowledge of Christ our Mediator, nor be deprived of the great benefit or fruit of his mediation; who said, "Every man that has heard and learned of the Father, comes unto me." And Christ Jesus the Son God, being the way to the Father; "No man comes unto the Father but by him."

Again, our adversary's doctrine reflects on God, and in effect charges him with injustice, as requiring an impossibility of men; in his saying that, all men may believe in Christ, if they will or can; but all men do not have power. As, if he said, I may travel a hundred miles before night, but I cannot. Yet men are reproved and condemned for the sin of unbelief, because they believe not in him, i.e. Christ, whom God has sent.

But how will it stand either with the mercy and justice of God, to reprove men for a sin they cannot avoid, or for not believing in, or obeying Christ, if they don't have the light or power given them to believe and obey when they are willing. But it is their sin if they will not; as it was their sin and rebellion, who would not be gathered by Christ, nor come unto him that they might have life, when they might have come at his call, who gives men both light and grace to persuade and enable them to believe and obey. It is the work of God to believe in his Son Christ Jesus; but it is our act of obedience, we must be exercised in this work of God, in the obedience of faith. With the heart man believes unto righteousness; otherwise it is unrighteous to charge God with condemning men for their unbelief if he did not give them light and grace, or power to believe.

And as unjust and erroneous doctrine it is, to teach, that where Christ said; "God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved;" that by world here, is meant only the number of believers, which is a manifest perversion of Christ's testimony in this place; for God sent his Son into the world of unbelievers and sinners, to call them to repentance, and he called such to repent and believe the gospel; Mark 1:15. Christ is the author of faith; he comes to work faith in the hearts of people by his light and grace; the world are not believers until he works faith in them. Shall he find faith on earth when he comes? No sure; he finds men unbelievers. It would be injurious to Christ's words, and impertinent to turn and limit them thus: God sent not his Son into the world of believers, to condemn the world of believers, but that the world of believers through him might be saved [a false statement for illustration]. Christ's testimony is more general, and an indication of the universal and free love or God to mankind, where he likewise said in the place mentioned, John 3:16; God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him, should not perish, but have everlasting life. He does not say here, that this is only the world of believers, or the world of the elect, as some of these partial, narrow spirited, pitiful preachers have done. But this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil; John 3:19. Surely he did not mean the world of believers, that this is the condemnation of the world of believers, or that believers loved darkness rather than light; no surely; for they are children of the light, they all love the light, they walk in the light, and bring their deeds to the light, who are true believers, and children or the light, and of the day.

The second question: Whether a true minister that takes money, gifts or tithes, for preaching?

Answer. I deny this. To which question Thomas Benton replied, that ministers may take money or tithes for maintenance, for the labor of preaching the gospel. Yet that he claims not tithes by a divine right, but yet for all he knew, they belong to the priesthood of Christ the antitype, because they were received by Melchizedek in the type. But herein he was not fully resolved or clear, for he desired to receive more light from George Whitehead in it.

Thus it appeared in those days, how ready some persons who pretended to be gifted men, and to a reformation above the parish priests, were to lay hold of their lucre, gain and revenues, by tithes or otherwise, so as their avarice might be answered and satisfied. And seeing such persons who were not bred up to the priesthood, but were tradesmen, some of the lesser learned sort, as butchers, tailors, weavers, etc., yet pretending to be gifted by the Spirit, were set up by the seeking people to be preachers in their pulpits, like priests in some parish churches, so called, chiefly because they had made them believe they were spiritually gifted, and had not their ministry by human learning at universities. Honest minded people were betrayed and misled by such pretenders, to set them up and promote them, until they became as corrupt and covetous as the parish priests; and then they would evade Christ's command to his ministers, "Freely ye have received, freely give;" and his ministers' example agreeably thereto. A free ministry would not be allowed by such mercenary ministers, when the people had promoted them for their pretended gifts, many of then having a secret belief, that the Spirit's teaching and gifts were not all ceased; upon which their selfish, mercenary teachers took advantage to get into preferments. Then tithes and forced maintenance became acceptable, though not jure divino; that divine law and right the priesthood of Levi had - requiring tithes and oblations - being abolished and ended by Christ, according to the 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th chapters of the Hebrews.

Although tithes are granted to be typical, being received by Melchizedek in the type, yet now, quotes Thomas Benton, for all he knew, they belong to the priesthood of Christ the antitype.

How can that be, when they cannot he claimed by a divine right, according to his own confession; but if in the antitype they belong to Christ's priesthood, then that must be jure divino. But for that we have no Scripture proof, no more than for turning a type into an antitype, as this my opposer seemed to do, in making tithes that were a type in Melchizedek’s receiving them, the antitype in Christ's priesthood. If he could thus turn types into antitype, be might as well turn legal shadows into gospel substances.

But his instance of Melchizedek’s receiving tithes of Abraham, being the tenth of the spoil taken in war, will not parallel or warrant the case of tithes as now it stands. It is not that sort of tenths the priests now take, but of the choicest fruits of the earth, corn and cattle, pigs, geese, wool, and lambs, etc. Then I showed Thomas Benton that, although Melchizedek was a type of Christ, his receiving the tenth of the spoil taken in war, which Abraham freely gave him, is no ground for priests now taking those tithes they do, nor any warrant or proof for Christ's ministers to take tithes of any sort, either or spoils or otherwise.

When I answered Thomas Benton to this purpose, he replied thus: "George Whitehead, your answer is like his who was asked how many miles it was to London; and answered, a pope full of plums;" by which answer he showed his levity and impertinency.

When he could not maintain his claim for tithes, as due to the priesthood or Christ, by Scripture or divine right, then his chief plea was, that the tenths were never the people's, which is not true, but given to the ministers by the magistrates or state; and that if the people will be so base, that they will not maintain their ministers, then they are to be forced by the law to do it.

It was not the practice of Christ's faithful ministers to force maintenance from people; neither coveted they any man's money or gold, meat, drink, or apparel, but preached the gospel freely, without making the gospel chargeable, being under a necessity, which Christ laid upon them, to preach the gospel. Yet they were allowed and had power to eat and to drink, and to be relieved by such as were worthy to receive them; and also to reap where they had sown, for their necessary relief, but not to compel or force maintenance from any, whether unworthy, base, or worthy; but the worthy need no compulsion to be charitable and kind, especially to their friends and brethren. And for such as are base and unworthy, who reject Christ's ministry, both they and theirs are rejected; and no more credit can any priests gain, by compelling tithes or maintenance from such as they deem base and unworthy, than by persecuting those who are none of their hearers, because they cannot for conscience sake follow them, nor sit under their fruitless ministry.

Site Editor's Comments:
Peter's command:
Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre (money). 1 Peter 5:2.

Paul said:
Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, like men sent from God. 2 Cor 2:17.

Jesus said: I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.John 10:11-13

Yet Thomas Benton blamed our friend Richard White, and accused him of unrighteousness, for detaining tithes from the priest who sued and persecuted him for the same, when it was known Richard was then no hearer of the priest's; he had no work done for him, therefore the more unjust in the priest to demand wages of such for whom he has done no work.

As for Richard White, he was well known; he received the truth in true love in early days, among the first stock of our friends in High Suffolk; and because for conscience sake to Christ Jesus, and with a true regard of the gospel and new covenant dispensation, refused the payment of tithes, and denied the priesthood that takes them, and yet pretend to be Christ's ministers; he suffered long imprisonment in Ipswich jail, and otherwise, in which he bore a faithful testimony for Christ Jesus and the truth of the gospel.

Our meeting and dispute ended peaceably, and the eyes of many were opened, to see the corruption of such ministers as opposed be light of Christ in man, and the universal grace of God to mankind, and pleaded for tithes and forced maintenance for preaching.

When it pleased the Lord to send some of us, his faithful servants and ministers among them, who were really partakers of his spiritual gift and ministry, many honest minded people in those parts left those ministers, who under pretence of being spiritually gifted, grew selfish, corrupt and covetous, preferring their gain to godliness, and gathering to themselves, not to Christ Jesus, nor to his light, grace, or spirit, in their hearts. Many serious people even in those days came out from among those self-exalted ministers, teachers and priests, and were turned to Christ, their light; and he became their Minister, High Priest, and Pastor, to whom be glory and dominion forever.

A short time after the public dispute at Pulham, Robert Duncan and I went to visit Thomas Benton at his house, where we had some moderate discourse, and I endeavored to inform his understanding in some weighty matters of Christianity, at which he did not seem offended, but rather friendly, and accordingly we parted peaceably.

After which, for his further information, I wrote a brief answer to those points in controversy at our public dispute, to remind him of his deficiencies and inconsistency in several points; and in the conclusion of my answer, wrote him the following lines:

Thomas Benton,

Where is your equity or righteousness? Who would have a priest take tithes from those whom he does no work for, nor has he taught them? Surely if you listened to the equal and just principle in yourself, it would teach you better lessons than what you have taught; but from that principle you have erred. And this I must tell you: since you have gotten into the old, dirty road of the priests, and are not only a partaker with them of their covetous practices, but a preacher up thereof, you have grown as dark as they are, upon whom the sun is set. You have lost the sincerity or the truth that has stirred in you in times past; for now many of the honest hearted have begun to loathe your covetousness and hypocrisy, for which the Lord will judge you; dryness and withering have already come upon you. Remember from where you have fallen, and consider your sad apostasy, so you may happily find repentance.

From a friend to your soul,

George Whitehead

The 8th of the Eighth month, 1659.

One James Bedford, priest of Bluntisham and Erith in Huntingtonshire, having made a great boasting and clamor against the people called Quakers, to render them ridiculous and odious, some of our friends had some public discourses with him, in order to abate his clamor; yet notwithstanding he persisted in his reviling and ostentation against us, as if he could refute and run down the Quakers. At a dispute which our dear friend, John Whitehead, had with the said priest, at the steeple house at Haddenham, in the isle or Ely, where I was present, but did not much interpose, the appointment being between the priest and John, I observed the priest to be a mere empty, confident boaster and reviler, and made but poor work of it.

When the dispute was over, the priest went to justice Castle's in the town, and I went there after him, in order to have some discussion with him before the justice, which I obtained, and discovered his ignorance, of which the justice was made sensible in some measure; yet seemed to speak a little in the priest's favor, but could not vindicate him.

Nevertheless the priest continued a boastful, clamorous adversary, and being a notorious persecutor of our friends for tithes; it was desired by some Friends that I might have a public meeting with the him, to dispute with him; and also I understood that our dear friend and brother, George Fox, senior, wished me to meet meet him. After serious consideration thereof; I found the Lord gave me freedom to meet this priest publicly, whereupon I wrote him a few lines, importing my willingness or desire to meet him at his own parish church, so called, on a certain day mentioned in my note.

But to divert my intention and disappoint me from meeting him on the day that I had designated, the priest craftily appointed another day, the 14th of the twelfth month, 1659-60, whereon he understood, being told, that I was engaged to be at a meeting at Cottenham in Cambridgeshire. The priest by his note, published in Ives market the day of his own appointment, pretending that he and George Whitehead were to have a dispute that day at Bluntisham church; though he did not expect I should meet him that day, knowing that I was otherwise engaged in Cambridgeshire, if the Lord pleased; that being always the condition of my appointments beforehand, to be at meetings; I used to write, or say, if the Lord will, I intend to be at such a meeting.

Having notice of the priest's fraudulent appointment, the day before that which he had appointed, and my dear friend John Crook, being then with me in Cambridgeshire, I entreated him to ride to Erith or Bluntisham, the next morning, and the Friend that gave us notice thereof to go with him, being about eight or nine miles, and that John would excuse me to the people, when met, and show them how the priest had circumvented me, as to the day and time of meeting; that day he had appointed not being agreed upon, and I otherwise pre-engaged to another meeting.

John and the other Friend willingly took horse and rode to Erith, and I to Cottenham, in order to be at the meeting appointed for me; but when they got to Erith, they considered or understood the priest would take great advantage and insult over Friends, if I did not meet him that day and pretend that I was afraid to meet him, which was far beyond my feelings.

So John Crook and the other Friend immediately rode on horseback to see me at Cottenham before the meeting there had begun, and they told me the necessity of my going to meet the priest that day, on the considerations before mentioned, it being then near mid day, and John said he would stay for that meeting at Cottenham, taking my place.

The Friend and I immediately left on horseback to hasten the five miles to Erith and Bluntisham, where we quickly arrived. I sat down quietly in a pew of the steeple house about a half an hour before the priest came. When he came in with his books or tools to make a noise against us, smiling and bowing toward the people, I only looked at him and sat down again quietly in the pew.

The priest mounted the pulpit like some conqueror; and not expecting an antagonist or contest, vauntingly called for George Whitehead. I sat still awhile, being out of his sight, to hear how he would boast or insult us. He called over and over, "Where is George Whitehead?" At last Henry Foster forwardly answered, "He is here;" so I stood up and said, "Here I am." But the priest would not acknowledge that I was the George Whitehead that was to meet him. I was then he was surprised, being disappointed in his fraudulent design; yet still he questioned as if he would have shuffled me off or shifted disputing saying, "You are not Whitehead, though you have a white face." Justice Castle was present and said; " Yes, he is the man; Mr. Bedford, look to yourself."

Seeing the priest so vain and trifling in his talk, before he would enter into dispute, I called to him, “Cease your babbling, and let’s get to the subject."

Then the priest took out his watch and laid it before him, and proposed: for each of us to speak one quarter of an hour at a time; and not to exceed that time; and he would begin first; and I should have the like time to answer. I told him I could not be limited to a quarter of an hour; that perhaps I might answer him in less time. But if what he alleged against us required more to answer, I ought to have time allowed accordingly. I did not know but in a quarter of an hour he might accuse us with so many particulars, as might require more time to answer. However, he pretended he would keep to his quarter of an hour.

Then he began to read many accusations and perverse stories out of a book or books against the people called Quakers, written by some invidious adversaries, priests or others, and with contempt and derision he descanted upon what he read against the said people. The topics of his accusations are abstracted as follows.

James Bedford manifested his ignorance and irreligious frame of spirit, by scoffing at quaking and trembling without distinction, judging the trembling to be of the devil. He derided the Quakers' silent meetings, terming them ridiculous foppery. He falsely accused the Quakers with treading under foot the Word of God, because they confessed Christ to be the eternal Word, which was in the beginning, and not the Scriptures. He affirmed that all the Scriptures, from the beginning of Genesis to the end of the Revelation, is the Word of God; and that the devil's words recorded in Scripture, are the also the Word of God. He denied that every man is enlightened with a spiritual light; and affirmed, that the light within men led them to murder; his proof was, John 16:1-2. He accused Paul, instead of Saul, as persecuting the saints, [implying the light had caused him to persecute them].

He made some scornful reflections upon these accusations until his quarter of an hour was finished. I answered in brief, to the following effect.

His accusation and judgment against quaking and trembling, appeared grossly erroneous and blasphemous, for many of the servants of the Lord trembled and quaked at his powerful word; see Isa 64:2, and 66:2, 5, Job 21:6, Jer 5:22, 33:9, Eze 26:16,18 and 32:10, Hab 3:16, 1 Cor 2:3, Phil 2:12.

He also derided the practice of many of the Lord's people and servants, who kept silent and met in silence, waiting upon the Lord. Silence was maintained in order to hear him speak and minister to them, and to endue them with his power and spirit, before they spoke or ministered to others; see Jer 8:14, Lam 3:28, Hab 2:20, Zech 2:13, Isa 41:1.

The Quakers confessing Christ the Son of God, to be the Word, which was in the begriming, before the Scriptures were written, cannot be a treading under foot the Word of God; for the holy Scriptures testify the same. John 1:1, Rev 19:13-16

He was very wrong in affirming all the Scriptures - which are writings - to be the Word of God, from Genesis to Revelation, without making any exception; for though the Scriptures contain the words, doctrines, commands, divine precepts, and faithful sayings of God and of Christ; yet the Scriptures themselves make distinction between these and the devil's words and sayings, and blasphemies of wicked persons, which are also historically recorded in Scripture; and therefore it is blasphemy to call the devil’s words the Word of God.

His denying a spiritual light to be in every man, is contrary to the holy evangelist's testimony of Christ the true light, .. John 1:4,7,9; and in his affirming that the light within led men to murder and persecute, from John 16:2, he puts dark and murderous, persecuting thoughts, enmity and madness of persecutors for the light, and consequently he puts darkness for light; by which this priest showed himself in great darkness. See Isa 5:20.

When I had made my first defense, and muted the priest's invectives, justice Castleton saw he could not stand to maintain his cause against us, and departed before the debate or meeting had ended; concluding the priest had enough, as I was told, seeing he could make no reply, but took care to stop us when the quarter of an hour was ended; saying to me, "Will you break faith and truth?" But he rambled into many other accusations and impertinent stories against the Quakers, in which he exceeded his quarter of an hour and took up much more time. His chief complaint against the Quakers was, that a Quaker had called him a beast, and he took up some time to prove himself to not be a beast. Seeing he had broken his faith and truth by exceeding his own limit of a quarter of an hour, I called out several times, desiring to be heard; but he went on in his rambling and reviling discourse, and would not allow me to respond and be heard, until the people grew impatient and disturbed at his tedious impertinencies, and called out several times, "Please, Mr. Bedford, hear him, or allow him to answer." He ignored them for some time, continuing with his ramble and clamor, complaining against the Quaker that had called him a beast.

I told the people, if I might be heard, I would prove that he was a beast; at which the people - some of his chief hearers - were the more earnest to persuade him to be silent, so they could hear me prove him to be a beast; but he eagerly strove to hold on in his ranting against the Quakers, on purpose to take up the time, and prevent me; so that some of the people said he was mad, or they thought him mad; but they finally got him to be silent, that I might be heard to prove what I had promised against him.

At which point I first proposed that some men were termed beasts in Scripture for several causes or crimes; and if I proved James Bedford guilty of the same, or the like, then I had proved him a beast according to Scripture.

Then to prove that some men or persons were termed beasts in Scripture, I instanced Titus 1:10-12; There are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, ..whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre's sake. One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, the Cretians are always liars, evil beasts, slow bellies.

Now if I proved James Bedford was guilty of these same evils, for which they in the Scriptures cited were called evil beasts, then I prove him such a beast as they were.

First, it was evident to the audience that James Bedford had showed himself an unruly and vain talker, having taken up a great deal of time here in vainly talking and ranting to no purpose, without giving any reply.

Second, that he teaches, or has taught things which he ought not to teach, in teaching that the light within led men to murder, which is contrary to the light of Christ in men, and to holy Scripture; and no better than blasphemy against that light.

Lastly, that his teaching is for filthy lucre's sake is manifest by his covetous practices, and his persecution for filthy lucre, against those who dissent from him; witness his and his men's taking away by force and violence, wheat, barley and peas, in great quantities, as much as he and his men pleased, for tithes, from John Cranwell; besides four lambs and wool, what his men pleased in quantity, without account of the value; and also three cows with calf and a cart and wheels, in all amounting to £20 worth of goods, for £12 demanded. And besides all this oppression and extortion, he imprisoned John Cranwell in Huntington jail, to show how legally he pretended to proceed, when he had so arbitrarily and illegally proceeded by force, to spoil and take away his honest neighbor’s goods, to gratify his own avarice and revenge against him.

Thus it was apparent this priest taught for filthy lucre's sake, such things as he ought not; consequently he was openly, before his own hearers and others, proved a beast, according to the sense of the apostle Paul, and the Scriptures of truth; and I may add, that consequently he merited the character of an evil beast.

And when according to the preceding argument and instances, I had proved my charge against priest Bedford, instead of making any reply or defense for himself, he quickly came down and fled away, abandoning the place and the assembly. So his former boasting and insulting was at an end, as I really had believed the Lord would stop his mouth. For I had felt the zeal of the Lord and his power with me at that time, as well as at many other times, in vindication of his blessed truth and people. To the Lord our God, who stood by me, and has in the past also helped me, I do ascribe the praise of all, and over all, blessed forever.

After the priest went away and left the assembly, I had a very good and quiet opportunity to declare and demonstrate the truth, and preach the gospel to the people; and they were all peaceful. When I had cleared my conscience to them, I gave them public notice of a meeting I intended, if the Lord pleased, the next day at the same town. We all went peacefully out of their steeple-house, without any disturbance, affront, or molestation; and the next day, according to appointment, we had a very good and serviceable meeting in the town, to which many men of account came.

After I had traveled and labored some time in the work of the gospel, in Cambridgeshire, Huntingtonshire, the isle of Ely, and some parts of Lincolnshire, (as that called Holland), also in some parts of Northamptonshire, I was much pressed in spirit to seek a meeting in the city of Peterborough, though I heard of no Friends there to receive me or our friends. But upon inquiry, there was found a sober, honest minded man, of reputation and quality, who was willing to have a meeting at his house, which accordingly was appointed to be on a first-day the week. I cannot remember whether it was in first or second month; but it was springtime in the year 1660, and many Friends from adjacent parts traveled to it, some out of Fens and others out of Rutlandshire.

In the week before the meeting, I had a great weight and sense upon my spirit that we would have some trial and exercise by suffering at that meeting. Although it was a small city, I was sensible of great darkness and wickedness that was in city; and so the trial came to pass. When our friends and I had begun to meet in the house, a mob of rude people gathered around it in the yard in such a rude and turbulent manner, as if they were intended to pull down the house. So we thought it would be best to move the meeting into adjoining court yard, being unwilling for the honest man's house to be damaged in any way by that rude crew. I was resigned to the will of Lord, willing to be to be given into their hands, than for the family where we met to suffer on account of the meeting there.

After we had moved into the yard, I was moved to stand up on a stool, and in the name of the Lord to preach the truth for sometime, nearly an hour. The Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that I was enabled with living words to declare the truth, and with a free resignation to suffer whatever violence or evil he might permit the wicked to do to, or inflict upon me; for before that time I had often resigned my will of life and liberty for the gospel's sake.

While I was declaring the truth, a man, who they said was an innkeeper, with rude company after him violently and furiously rushed into the meeting, aiming chiefly to pull me down. The meeting was somewhat crowded, and several Friends were in his way, so he could not readily get at me. In meantime, others threw dirt and eggs, thought to be rotten, at me, by which my head face were greatly daubed, yet I went on declaring the truth. The furious man was still trying to come at me, and he took up a stool by it feet, and lifted it up to strike at those who stood blocking his way. But a Friend, who was standing nearby, caught hold of the stool as he was making his blow, to prevent it; yet he struck an ancient woman friend of ours a blow with the edge of stool on the side of her head, which made such a cut and wound on her temple, near her eye, that it was thought if his blow had fallen directly on her head, it might have beaten out her brains; but the Lord providentially prevented that.

The man's fury and rage seemed to be principally against me, and his struggle was to get at me. To prevent him from injuring others, I asked the meeting to clear the way, that he might come to me, for I was above the fear of any hurt he or they could do to me. Then he and his company came and violently pulled me down, and when I was in their hands I felt much ease in my spirit, being sensible the Lord, who stood by me, was secretly pleading my cause with them, so that their fury was immediately abated, and their spirits down, and they were restrained from doing me harm. They haled me out of the meeting, through part of their cathedral church, so termed, there being a passage open near one end, and then they quickly let me go.

There were some soldiers from Lambert's, or the old army, then quartered at Peterborough, who were spectators, and they saw how I and others of us were treated and abused at the meeting. Some of them took compassion, and had us to one of their quarters, where I got to the pump, and washed the dirt off my face, but could not then wash my head, to get my hair clean.

Some Friends with me, were then directed to an upper room in the inn, where we sat together, waiting upon the Lord for some time, I think nearly two hours; and the Lord comforted and refreshed our spirits, and he put it into my heart to return again to the same house, from which I had been haled away out of the meeting. Several sober people were gathered there in the afternoon, and I had a good meeting and service for the Lord, in bearing testimony for his blessed truth among them; and we held the meeting quietly and parted peaceably without molestation.

That evening, after the meeting was over, I left Peterborough, and some other Friends with me, much comforted and refreshed in the Lord my God; having felt his living power and presence with me and my friends, to our preservation and deliverance out of the hands of unreasonable men. Though they had so much shown their fury and madness against us that day, they were not allowed to do us much harm, except the ancient woman Friend being wounded in her head; but so far as I know, she got well again in a short time. The same evening we rode a few miles to an honest Friend's house, I think his name was John Mason, who had left the army, received the truth, and had become a serviceable Friend.

Next morning Isabel Hacker, the wife of Col. Hacker, who had been at the said meeting, bestowed some labor to get out of my hair the dirt which was thrown at me the day before, at the said meeting. After that, I rode with her and company to Oucom, to her house in Rutlandshire, where the priest of the town came the next day, with whom I had some discussion in the presence of Col. Hacker The priest being high and proud, was apt to get in a passion, which made him incapable of holding any fair discussion. I told him of it, which he would not acknowledge, but told me I was in anger, because I spoke somewhat earnestly to him. I told him he could not provoke me to anger if he should rail against me from morning till evening; so our discussion quickly broke up. I did not perceive that Col. Hacker, or anyone present, could excuse the angry priest.

When Presbyterian and Independent ministers had the design to reform from corruptions, immoralities, profaneness and superstitions, which were increased and spread under Episcopacy, (Church of England, Anglican, Episcopalian) there appeared some sincerity and zeal, in their way, for the practice of religion and piety; and their preaching against drunkenness, Sabbath breaking, swearing, lying, envy, pride, covetousness, idolatry, superstition, etc. What care and caution did they show toward their hearers, to prepare them to be worthy communicants, that they might not eat and drink unworthily, nor damnation nor judgment to themselves, as those that discern not the Lord's body; though that discerning has been long wanting, since the apostasy from the substance.

In those early days of the designed reformation from Episcopacy, some of those reformers, in their zeal, believed the Lord was with them, and that his presence attended their ministry. And while there was a zeal in many of them against vice, and for promoting virtue, no doubt a secret presence of the Lord, in measure, attended the ministry of such, which had some good effect toward a reformation. But when the teachers and leaders of several sorts and societies, got to be parish priests, and into pride and covetousness, into high places, great livings, to preach for lucre, forced maintenance, tithes, oblations, obventions, revenues, etc., and being favored by the revolutions of the government, their zeal grew cold, corruption and covetousness increased, their ministry and preaching became dead and barren; and many well disposed people began to see their declension and corruptions, and grew weary of them.

Then the gospel harvest drew near and came on, for many to be gathered to the life of the Christian religion, and the power of godliness; from darkness to the true light; from the flesh to the spirit; from dead forms to the living power; from shadows to Christ the substance; from dead ways and false worships, into the living way and worship of God in spirit and truth. For this end and purpose God was graciously pleased, in an acceptable time, to raise up living and faithful witnesses and ministers [the early Quakers] of the everlasting gospel, to open the eyes and understandings of the people. To turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God; that thereby truly repenting, they might receive remission of sins, and an inheritance among the sanctified, through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the true light. And the ministry of these faithful witnesses was very acceptable and effectual to many, whose hearts God had prepared and opened to receive the love of the truth, as it is in Christ Jesus.

Then the proud and covetous priests, and mercenary preachers of all sorts, were greatly disturbed. The very report of a people risen in the north of England, called Quakers, and of their increase and spreading, and the prevalence of their testimony, caused a fear and consternation to seize upon the spirits of many of those preachers, when their trade was in danger, and their gain lay at stake, as Christ's free gospel ministry took effect and place in people's hearts. Then rung the pulpits; lectures were promoted and conferences; complaints and petitions were exhibited to magistrates against the Quakers, under the unjust and false pretences of their being antichrists, come in the last days;* deceivers, seducers; dangerous to church and state. Some of them being conscious of their decaying ministry, and as they were declining and going downward in the eyes and esteem of their congregation, they became the more afraid and jealous of their standing; especially knowing partly their own corruptions, that whatever good words they could use, yet their actions did not reflect what they spoke. Thus they pleaded with their congregation to excuse them, saying: "You must do as we say, and not as we do;" thereby rendering themselves hypocrites, in the state of the scribes and Pharisees, who sat in Moses' seat. As the Pharisees represented Moses' law, being then in force, they told people to observe the same, which was what they were then to observe and do; but Christ said: Do not do according to their works; for they say and do not: Mat 23:3. See the whole chapter, how sharply and zealously our Lord testified against those hypocrites, with many woes to them; Christ was far removed from acknowledging them as true ministers.

*[The last days began 2000 years ago at Pentecost, as Peter explained in Acts:

But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel:

'And it shall come to pass in the last days, said God, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all men; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams;

And John said that the deceivers and antichrists had already come, 2000 years ago:

Little children, it is the last time; and as you have heard that antichrist will come, even now many antichrists have come. By this we know that it is the last time. 1 John 2:18]

I very well remember some of the heads of a remarkable conference, among some of those called Independent ministers or pastors, which occurred as they were declining from the sincerity and zeal that had been formerly moving among and in some of them. I had the account from our dear, ancient, and faithful friend, Robert Ludgater Sr., of Great Coggeshall, in Essex, in effect following:

That many Independent ministers or priests, at a meeting at Coggeshall, had a conference which was chiefly on a question first asked by Samuel Crosman, pastor of a church in Sudbury in Suffolk. The question was this:

What is the reason why the presence of God does not attend or accompany our ministry now, as it did at first, or in the beginning?" To which he that posed the question, first answered:

At first we had respect to good lives and conversations -to be good examples therein; and then we sought the good of the people's souls; we coveted them, not theirs. We then preached in the simplicity of the gospel, in plainness and sincerity, without affected high strains of eloquence, or words of men's wisdom; for it is a great pity any man should stand up in a pulpit to preach, and not preach the plainness and simplicity of the gospel.

[But the Puritan ministers did not even have a clue at to what the gospel is. They thought the gospel were the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, which they are not. For as Paul said: the gospel has been (past tense) preached in every creature, foremost being Abraham; the gospel is a mystery.]

But now the case is altered with us; though we speak good words, we live bad lives,· we are not good examples to our hearers. We covet theirs, more than them. We now effect flourishing eloquence, rhetoric, philosophy, or school learning, more than the plainness and simplicity of the gospel, in our preaching; for these reasons the presence of God does not go along with us in our ministry now, as at first, or formerly."

Another of the company, the minister or parish priest of Coggeshall, repeated the question, "What is the reason why the presence of God does not go along with our ministry now, as it did in the beginning?" And then proceeded, "I would add this question; "What was that presence of God that did accompany our ministry in the beginning?" To which he answered, "It was an enlightening presence; it was an enlivening or quickening presence; it was a strengthening and confirming presence; and all this is now wanting in our ministry,"

Another professing minister of the company, repeated the question, but varied in his answer, from his two brethren before:

What is the reason why the presence or God does not now go along with our ministry, as it did at first?"

Which he answered to this effect; "Our ministry is God's ordinance, and we may not suppose God will forsake his own ordinance; but there are many persons or people turned against us, who deny the ordinances and tell us: Your ordinances are barren ordinances; they are wilderness ordinances; your ministry is a barren ministry; it is a fruitless ministry, a dead ministry; and therefore, to such it must needs appear ineffectual and barren."

But he concluded to this effect; “Although our ministry or ordinances appear to you to be but as barren ordinances, wilderness ordinances; yet you should continue, or persist, in the observation thereof."

Another esteemed, great pastor among them, at last repeated the question, "What is the reason why the presence or God does not attend our ministry?" He answered to this purpose, contradicting the others; "God has not forsaken our ministry. He has not withdrawn his presence from his own ordinances, though it appears not as effectively as at first, without the same effect. That is because our ministry has only affected the elect, for their conversion, who were ordained to eternal life or salvation; but for those who are otherwise predestinated to damnation, it is not to be expected that our ministry should take effect upon them, for their conversion or salvation."

The first and second answers to the foregoing question, were ingenuous and honest, but the two last cloudy and prejudicial, especially the last, relating to the predestination doctrine, which is repugnant to the free and universal grace and love of God in Christ Jesus, to mankind; and to the free proffers thereof conditionally, in his gospel preached universally unto all.

Great notice was taken of Samuel Crosman, who first put the question, as to his further decline from his former zeal, sincerity, and professed reformation, independence, and dissent from Episcopacy. After king Charles the second came to the throne, and allowing of persecution began upon the most conscientious dissenters, and conformity was required and imposed, Samuel Crosman fled the cross, evaded his dissent and independence; and conformed and temporized, left his congregation and people at Sudbury, and moved to the city of Bristol; and there showing himself a zealous conformist, got preferment under the Anglican bishop, and became an Episcopalian parish priest in that city.

Once I was in Bristol, visiting Bertha Speed, a widow, and Samuel Crosman came into her parlor where I was sitting and demanded Easter reckonings [similar to tithe payments] of the widow, which I argued against, as unreasonable, as well as unscriptural, to demand that of her, who was not one of his congregation or communion. I told him of the fame I had heard and understood concerning him; as what an eminent minister he had been among the Independents at Sudbury, questioning how he could now be such a conformist to Episcopal doctrine, after all his high profession of reformation to the contrary; or how could his conscience allow him to demand money from a widow who was not even in his congregation.

He gave me a smooth, but evasive answer; in no way satisfactory or sincere, making it but as a matter of indifference to conform to the church of England; and the ceremonies thereof but indifferent things, that might be dispensed with, provided he might preach the gospel. Many of the worldly priest have used such allegations to excuse themselves in similar cases of severe compromise in their principles.

Having the opportunity, I reminded him of the passage before mentioned, and repeated his question and answer to himself; as Robert Ludgater had related them to me it was the more particular with Samuel Crosman, he being the person immediately concerned; to see if he could deny any part of the matter related upon his question: "What is the reason why the presence of God does not attend our ministry now, as it did in the beginning?" This, together with his answer, I reminded him of, and he did not deny any part of it; by which the truth of Robert Ludgater's account was the more confirmed to my satisfaction.

In humility and thankfulness to our great and most merciful Lord God, I must confess to his power and goodness, yes, and his special providence in helping me in the past, and strengthening me in his work and service, and in preserving and delivering me, through many trials, sufferings and persecutions, that I have not been delivered to the will of my enemies and persecutors, who sought my destruction; not only breathing out cruelty against me, and others of the servants of Christ, in our early days; but, to their power, have acted maliciously and cruelly against us. However, the remainder of their wrath the Lord has so far restrained, as not to allow them to execute their worst designs against us; the Lord having reserved for me more service in my day, as well as trials, suffering, and exercises of many kinds. The persecutions and hardships which I had undergone, were not allowed to put an end to my days, or service in the gospel of Jesus Christ, but to make the same more observable and effectual, through the Lord's power and tender mercy unto me and his people; and for the sake of many poor souls.

The hard imprisonments, confinements, tumults, cruel stripes, beatings, stonings, bruisings, and evil treatments, of several sorts, I say, were not allowed to put a period to my days, but the Lord's power sustained and preserved my spirit, in faith and patience, in all those afflictions and jeopardies, to obey and serve him with sincere resolution in the gospel and work thereof. Let my soul forever bless and praise the worthy name and power of the Lord my God.

I proceed now to some account of my further progress and exercises for the blessed truth.


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


Top | About Us | Home | ©2006 Hall Worthington