"It is not easy even for the investigator, delving beneath the radical and bitter expressions, to find out what was justice in the contentions, or what was true as to the conduct, much less as to the motives, of individuals. So strong was the disposition of the men active in the politics or religion of Pennsylvania at that time to believe anything against their real or supposed adversaries that even such evidence as a contemporary letter can not always be depended upon. With no purpose of making an arraignment against venerated personages, but ready to find a plea for the poorer in estate, the followers of a different ecclesiastical use, and others animadverted upon, I have said some things which will displease, but I have tried to be impartial, and to make allowances for all parties in the clashing of interests and consciences. Investigation has led me to different conclusions from those prevalent in this part of the country, and formerly accepted by myself. I trust that no expressions, however, will be thought to indicate want of respect for the truly religious members of the Society of Friends, and it seems to me that everybody living at the present time ought to wish the world converted to the "peaceable persuasion" of the majority of the Assembly of Pennsylvania from 1688 to 1748."
The Quakers without a standard of belief--George Keith--His contentions with members of the Society--Separate meetings--Written judgment against him and replies thereto--Arrest ofBradford and McComb, seizure of Bradford's tools, and proclamation against Keith--The Yearly Meeting of 1692--Liability of Keith to punishment under the civil laws--His arraignment with that of Boss, Budd, Bradford, and McComb--Hat incident--The rest of the Court proceedings--Relief granted by the Governor under the Crown--Keithians issue exhortation against negro slavery--The Yearly Meeting in London disowns Keith--His services in the Turners' Hall, London, and decision to join the Established Church--Subsequent course of various Keithians--Welsh Baptists--Upper Dublin--Seventh Day Baptist burying ground in the city--Trinity Church, Oxford--Upper Providence Keithians and rival congregations formed among them--Philadelphia Keithian Meeting--Thomas Rutter--Dispute as to the property--The Lloydians--Triumph of Orthodoxy in the Society of Friends.
The Society of Friends had never promulgated articles of religion to be subscribed, or a catechism to be taught. Peculiar tenets and practices, which presupposed the truth of much of what Western Europe believed, were recognized as Quakerism : but the prefatory and even basic dogmas, while they might be gathered from writings like Barclay's, were left to the individual conscience, directed by an inner revelation. There was no insisting upon even those creeds which have been called the symbols of Christianity, and which Fox and the majority of his followers had accepted together with the historical statements of the Gospels. Fox had flouted at training-schools for ministers, even at making them familiar with Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. Thus, with hearers ignorant of, or with no predilection towards, what was agreed upon by Roman Catholic, Calvinist, Lutheran, Greek, and Anglican, there was a diversity of teaching in the bond of fellowship, which is delightful in the view of many people of to-day. There does not seem to have been any considerable movement to give a Unitarian interpretation to the New Testament. John Gough's History of the People called Quakers(1) says that George Whitehead, William, Mead, and other English Friends, on examination before Parliament, gave satisfactory statement of their belief in the Trinity as well as Holy Writ, so that the profession of faith required by the Act of Toleration then passed was put in the words suggested by them--a strange way, indeed, of stating the Trinity--viz: "I, A. B. do profess faith in God the Father and in Jesus Christ his eternal Son, the true God, and in the Holy Spirit, one God blessed for evermore; and do acknowledge the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be given by Divine Inspiration." Yet there had been, and there lingered in that body of exalters of their personal intuition a tendency to make figurative or to forget the Bible's story, and, from the expressions of some prominent members, it seemed at times that they were lapsing into Deism. The great opposition which Christian theologians, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, and Congregationalists, made to the Society of Friends in the last third of that Century was more conscientious than a desire for soldiers, for tithes, or even for observance of the sacraments : it was loyalty to external Revelation. The reproaches cast upon the Society that its teachers, if, indeed, they did not reject, at least failed to hand down, their deposit of truth, seemed to many people to be justified by the events now to be mentioned, when a party taking a stand for Orthodoxy declined to hold meetings with the majority of the ministers at Philadelphia, and when, moreover, the Yearly Meeting in London expelled the leader of that party.
George Keith, one of the most eminent preachers and controversialists of the Society, long felt the need of some sort of confession of the faith, probably almost as much to answer the jibes of non-Quakers, as to control or teach Quakers. In fact, the occasion of his urging the matter in the Philadelphia meeting was the accusation made by Christian Lodowick in Rhode Island that the Quakers, giving another sense to the words of Scripture, denied the true Christ. Keith had gone to Rhode Island to assist other Friends in disputation. No impression seeming to be made by the spoken avowal of positive or literal faith, Keith and others, in 4th month, 1691,(2) wrote a declaration of the belief of the Friends in certain points of elementary Orthodoxy as to our Lord Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Apparently it was another one of Keith's productions, printed in 1692, which he submitted to the Philadelphia Monthly Meeting of 11th month, 1691, and approval of which was expressed at the next Monthly Meeting by three of the six appointed to examine it. The Rhode Island Meeting directed the printing of the aforesaid confession, and it was printed by Bradford in Philadelphia. The leaders in Penn's great town went so far as to find fault with Bradford for doing this, they never having authorized the publication of that much of a creed.
It is necessary not only to mention the Keithian schism, because it was an important incident in the history of the colony, but to go into considerable detail, because, with the exception of Gough, the Quaker writers and those who have echoed them, have told little except of the bad temper, violent language, and self-will of Keith. He certainly had the natural indignation of a zealot, he was habituated to the bitterness of expression of that age, in which the Quakers had been about as bitter as others, and he carried out the sectarian idea of separating from those teaching what is false. The schismatics from whom he separated, by that time, however, had formed themselves into what they believed to be a Church, and thought schism from it to be a sin; and their preachers had begun to be separate as clergy from the laity. Gough's account is not entirely accurate in details, apart from being pretty much a sermon upon two texts put at the end, viz: the statement that on 1mo. 16, 1713-4, Keith, as he lay sick in bed, said that he did believe that if God had taken him out of the world when he went among the Quakers, and in that profession, it had been well with him; and the statement that, a couple of years later, to a Quaker visiting Keith, when on his death-bed, he said that he wished he had died when a Quaker, for he was sure that it would have been well for his soul--remarks which were, after all, different from saying that he had done wrong in leaving the latitudinarians controlling the Society of Friends, and did not even involve the unimportance of the sacraments, for he had received them, water-baptism, as he mentions, and almost certainly the bread and wine before becoming a Quaker. Both Robert Barclay and he had shown themselves not wholly satisfied with the Quakers' discontinuance of a religious--we may say eucharistic, but not sacramental--feast; and, before Keith received the Communion from the Church of England, he practised the rite, as well as that of baptism, among the seceding Quakers who attended him. Some of the Scotch Quakers were then practising a feast.
Keith was born in the vicinity of Aberdeen, Scotland, and graduated at Marischal College, intending, it is supposed, to be a minister of the Scottish Kirk. He was converted to Quakerism in or before 1664, when he suffered the first of his many imprisonments in its cause. He assisted Robert Barclay in disputations, succeeded Christopher Taylor in the school at Edmonton, and was Surveyor-General of East Jersey. Bp. Burnet, acquainted with Keith at College, claimed that he was the most learned member of the Society of Friends. He came to Philadelphia in 1689, and for over a year had charge of the school charted by Penn, retiring from it on 4mo. 10, 1691.
"... nothing could be done among the Philadelphia Friends which did not commend itself to Thomas Lloyd, while any confession of faith would abridge the liberty, or contradict the views, of some old preacher or 'martyr.'"
Keith, who, by his far superior prominence in the Society at large, could without presumption aspire to the leadership of the members in America, first ruffled his new neighbours by projects for changing their discipline. Gough says that Keith proposed some regulations to the ministers at the Yearly Meeting, but, on the latter wishing to ask the Yearly Meeting in London, decided to let the matter drop. He then undertook to correct by Orthodox standards the loose preaching which he was hearing at Meetings. In attempting to restrain the tendency to allegorize the New Testament, he overhauled William Stockdale for preaching "Christ within" to the exclusion of the historic Christ. Going beyond this elementary reform, Keith insisted on doctrines well accepted by contemporary theologians, but of which probably his fellow ministers present had never heard, while he indulged in speculations which perhaps they did not comprehend. Jennings reported afterwards to the Quakers in England that the question on which so many took the negative was the universality of the need of faith in the historic Christ for salvation. Keith had formerly taken the negative, but, changing, suggested at one time that the heathen might acquire that faith in some future state, and suggested at another time that the "inner light" could give an unconscious faith. In short, Keith undertook to direct in doctrine and procedure the Friends of Pennsylvania. How troublesome certain of them were in secular affairs, this history elsewhere shows; while as to Jennings, who had recently moved from West Jersey, his course there may have been conscientious, but he was once elected Governor of that province, and his election declared by Quaker arbitraters an infringement of Byllinge's right. It was difficult enough to teach a group of the most independent religious thinkers. Those with whom Keith was concerned, were the most important part of the Society of Friends politically, and felt themselves a chosen people. At their head as Clerk of the Quarterly Meeting of Ministers, enabling him to mould the expression of the sense, was Jennings; and nothing could be done among the Philadelphia Friends which did not commend itself to Thomas Lloyd, while any confession of faith would abridge the liberty, or contradict the views, of some old preacher or "martyr." Lloyd (see Robert's letter in Pennsylvania Mag. of Hist., Vol. XVIII, page. 205) did not antagonize Keith until he insisted upon a declaration of faith. There were some leaders who actually had cast aside many of the older and widely prevalent beliefs. In the Reasons and Causes of the Separation, written by Keith or his friends, it is said that the doctrine of Christ's being in Heaven in the true nature of man, and of faith in Him being necessary to our perfect justification and salvation, and of His coming again, outside of us, to judge the quick and the dead, and of the resurrection of the dead and day of judgment were called by some "Popery," and by others "Presbyterian and Baptist principles." With the leaders, the resentment excited by Keith's various propositions, and with the more docile, the feeling that he was troublesome, obscured the greater issue which was raised when he criticized theological expressions, and was met with statements and questions which until some time in the Nineteenth Century, would not have been tolerated in any so-called Christian Church. Some of those who refused to follow Keith, including Lloyd, had no intention of committing themselves to Rationalism, particularly after a letter was received from George Whitehead, Patrick Livingston, and other London Friends deprecating disputations upon subjects not tending to edification, and affirming salvation through Christ to those who never heard of Him, but urging all not to reject Jesus Christ's outward coming, suffering, death, resurrection, ascension, and glorified state in the heavens.
Those who had been reproved by Keith, attacked him in return. Stockdale criticized Keith's speaking so much of Christ within and Christ without as preaching two Christs, or as letting people infer two distinct Christs. The Pleas of the Innocent, in contradiction to the Quarterly Meeting of the following year about the violation of Gospel order, says that Keith did privately deal with Stockdale, and then laid the matter before twelve of the ministers, who, except John Hart, and except John Delaval, rather excused Stockdale. Calling Stockdale an ignorant heathen, Keith asked judgment against him for making the criticism, or charge, and receiving no answer, laid the matter before the Yearly Meeting held in Philadelphia in 7th month, 1691. Keith afterwards made a great point that that assembly of preachers of the Gospel debated for about ten hours one day, and at five subsequent "meetings," i.e. sittings, whether preaching Christ within and Christ without was preaching two Christs, and then came to "a slender and partial judgment," of which they made no record. Nevertheless, a declaration was made that Stockdale was blameworthy, because Keith's doctrine was true. On 11mo. 29, 1691, at the Monthly Meeting, Thomas Fitzwater charged Keith with denying the sufficiency of the light within for salvation. This insinuated that Keith could no longer be properly classified as a Quaker. Gough is not accurate in his account of the Fitzwater episode. At the next Monthly Meeting, 12mo. 26, 1691, to which Fitzwater had promised to bring his proof, Stockdale came forth as a witness in support of Fitzwater, but other Friends testified that Keith had denied the sufficiency "without something more," meaning the death and mediation of Christ. After Jennings, the Clerk, and other opposers of Keith, had retired from the assemblage, those remaining, including Fitzwater, unanimously agreed to adjourn to the next day at 8th hour at the school house, the usual place of holding meetings in winter. Lloyd and Cooke, but not Jennings, attended this adjourned meeting, as did Fitzwater. However, there being strong contention, all three went away. Stockdale was sent for, but declined to come. Those present, numbering about sixty, including ministers and "those in the habit of attending monthly meetings," then unanimously agreed to a judgment signed by J. W. (Qu: Joseph Willcox?), whom they constituted Clerk, to the effect that Fitzwater should forbear to preach until he gave a writing condemning his charge against Keith, and satisfying as to his own true faith and belief in Christ's resurrection and Christ's being in Heaven in his glorified human nature; and also to the effect that Stockdale forbear to preach until he condemn his unrighteous charge against Keith of preaching two Christs. Furthermore, the opinion was given that the book vindicating the Christian faith of the Quakers of Rhode Island was for good, and for the service of truth, and that Bradford should not be discouraged for printing it. With a misprint giving date of the meeting as 2nd month instead of 12th month [i.e. February], the names of "some of the Friends that gave the aforesaid judgment," to the number of forty-five are in print.(3)
At the Quarterly Meeting held at the beginning of March, 1691-2, a few days after this, it was asked that this judgment be recorded in the Monthly Meeting book, but the other party denied that those who gave the judgment constituted a legal Meeting, inasmuch as there was no precedent for an adjourned Monthly Meeting, and as the Clerk had gone, and few ministers were present. Moreover, this party asserted that, as the subject of the charge against the ministers Fitzwater and Stockdale was a matter of doctrine, it could not be judged by a Monthly Meeting, but only by a meeting of ministers. However, it was agreed that the adjourned meeting was legal, but than an appeal had been taken from its decision. Keith was then told that he should submit to a judgment by the present Meeting. This curtailment of the right of private judgment, so much talked of by Protestants, was denied by Keith, as giving the ministers the teaching powers of a sacerdotal order. He would say only that he would submit to the judgment "of the spirit of truth in Friends." When asked to leave pending discussion, he refused to do so, unless about seven or eight of his opposers also absented themselves, and, they not doing this, the subject was not taken up. As the policy of the leaders was to smother discussion, and to shield comrades whose views the majority themselves thought erroneous, there was really no inaccuracy in Keith's remark, made at this time, that the ministers opposed to him had "met together," that is had come intending, "to cloak heresies and deceits."
The subject at bottom was and is, however, one as to which Patrick Henry's words at the beginning of the American Revolution are appropriate, even if some readers would emphasize the first word : "Gentlemen may cry, peace, peace--but there is no peace." These criers of "peace" undertook to silence Keith's tongue. Accordingly, two members were appointed to admonish him to retract at the next Quarterly Meeting; but, when they visited him, he, feeling himself a champion of the truth, said that there were "more damnable heresies and doctrines of devils among the Quakers than among any profession of Protestants," and that he trampled "the judgment of the Meeting under his feet as dirt."
At the Monthly Meeting held on March 25, 1692, some of his opponents proposed to change the hour and place of meetings for worship established for the Winter. This was objected to by several of the Keithian faction, but was agreed to by the majority, and declared adopted. Although Lloyd and his party accordingly went the next morning to the meeting-house at the Centre, the followers of Keith, claiming that the change contravened the principle of unanimity by which all Quakers proceedings were to be conducted, met at the usual time and place, and did not unite with the others in the afternoon at the Bank Meeting House (Front above Arch), a few of them holding a private gathering at Keith's house. Subsequently they attempted to go to the house on the bank in the morning, but found the doors locked against them.
"Outside of Philadelphia, the sense of many of the regular meetings was Keithian..."
With the fair claim that the others were the aggressors, but on the broad basis of duty not to unite in worship with those who rejected the truth, arose the "Christian Quakers," as they called themselves, or "Separatists," or "Keithians," as the others called them. Out of the sparse population of the country and the small number of dwellers in the great towne, hundreds flocked to hear Keith, wherever he was expected to preach. Persons of other religious antecedents joined these Separatists, so that Keith prepared a confession of faith. Outside of Philadelphia, the sense of many of the regular meetings was Keithian : and Joseph C. Martindale, M.D., in his History of the Townships of Byberry and Moreland, asserts that, at one time which he does not clearly indicate, Keith's followers had the ascendency in sixteen out of thirty-two Meetings. Apparently the latter number covers the Meetings previously established for worship on one or both sides of the Delaware.
Yet the Keithians, soon after the beginning of the separation, put themselves on record as attempting an accommodation. Fifteen made in writing an offer for restoration of unity and the oblivion of all hard words, if the others would bring their erroneous ministers to a confession of error, and would declare certain fundamental doctrines. Through the influence of two visiting Friends from England, a conference was held on 3mo. 14 [i.e. May 14], between the ministers then in town and an equal number of Keithians, but, the matter not being settled, T. B. and W. B. (Thomas Budd and William Bradford) wrote the next day to T---- and A---- (evidently Thomas Lloyd and Arthur Cooke), for another meeting. This brought no reply, and Keith did not help the cause of harmony, but was thought a disturber, by going to the afternoon meeting on the 22nd, and expressing a desire to have the breach healed. Two of the opposite side came to Keith's meeting, and declared their testimony against him. The Monthly Meeting of 3rd mo. 26, 1692, controlled by Keith's enemies, disposed of the Fitzwater matter by letting him off with an apology for his "rash spirit in making the charge" against Keith of denying the sufficiency of the Light Within without something more, which charge Fitzwater, however, said was true; and no affirmance of belief was made in the paper given forth.
The ministers in Quarterly Meeting judged Stockdale on 4mo. 4, 1692 [i.e. June 4]; the paper signed by Jennings as Clerk reproved him for "uttering new words offensive to many sound and tender persons," but blamed Keith for violating Gospel order in not dealing with Stockdale alone before prosecuting the complaint, and for his "indecent expression" to Stockdale. Keith not appearing to retract what he said about "cloaking heresies and deceits," and the persons sent by the last Quarterly Meeting to admonish him reporting his words about "doctrines of devils," and about trampling "the judgment of the Meeting under his feet," a second committee was sent to him, and the Meeting adjourned for a fortnight. The second committee, obtaining no satisfaction, prepared a testimony, to be published after he should have an opportunity to read it, for which they were obliged to wait four or five days later. The Meeting, on reconvening, forbade him to preach, and the declaration was published against him, dated 4mo. 20, 1692, and signed by the twenty-eight "public friends" following: (See note 4.)
Certain of these twenty-eight signers went from Meeting to Meeting to deliver the judgment. On 4mo. 27, Lloyd, Jennings, and Delaval with Samuel Richardson went to Frankford Monthly Meeting to give countenance to the reading of the judgment, Lloyd speaking against Keith for "imposing unscriptural words," i.e. asking belief according to theological terms. This judgment could not have been received at Frankford Monthly meeting with unanimous satisfaction; for Martindale's History says that John Hart controlled the constituent First Day Meeting at Byberry in Keith's favor, and in time drove the opposing attendants of Byberry to secede.
The friends and followers of Keith in Philadelphia were not overawed. In protest against the judgment, Peter Boss wrote two letters to Jennings. The first receiving no notice, Boss kept a copy of the second, to insure an answer to it. It was clearly scurrilous in saying that the twenty-eight would have been better employed in inquiring whether Jennings or Simcock had been drunk on certain occasions, and also it was scurrilous in Quaker eyes in similarly insinuating that Jennings had once made a bet on the speed of his horse. The letter was not put in print until after Boss had been tried for defaming a magistrate. Keith and Thomas Budd wrote a Plea for the Innocent, signing it on behalf of themselves and other Friends of their Meeting. Extenuating and justifying Keith's use of bad names to his opponents, and telling of the bad names which they gave to him, the Plea was very severe on Jennings, and said much more besides calling him "an ignorant, presumptuous, and insolent men" and "too high and imperious both in Friends meetings and worldly courts"; expressions for which Keith and Budd were indicted as contravening an Act of Assembly that no words of defamation be spoken against a magistrate. An answer to the judgments was issued "on behalf of brethren who are falsely called the Separate meetings at Philadelphia," maintaining that, by the first judgment of Monthly Meeting, those making it had declared themselves no true believers in Christ Jesus, and so the answerers could not own them as Christians, nor join with them in worship. This answer was dated 5mo. 3, 1692, at a meeting at the house of Philip James, and signed by [see note 5].
This answer was followed by an Appeal to the Yearly Meeting. The Appeal was signed by Keith, Budd, Dungworth, George Hutcheson, John Hart, and Abraham Opdegraves, and offered to have tried by two or three impartial men twelve questions, whether Keith's "reviling words" were not true, and whether the expressions and certain practices of his enemies were not condemnable. The 9th of these questions was based upon the use of force against Babbitt and his men, as mentioned in the last preceding chapter (6), and inquired whether the twenty-eight condemners of Keith had not better have condemned some of themselves for hiring men to fight, commissioning them, as one preacher had done, and so, by force of arms, recovering a sloop, and taking privateers. There will be little doubt that the hiring of men to fight, and the providing of Indians with powder and lead to fight other Indians, against which the 10th question was directed, was inconsistent with the peace principles of Friends. Question No. 11 was whether it was according to the Gospel that ministers should pass sentence of death on malefactors, as some had done, "preaching one day not to take an eye for an eye, . . . another day taking life for life?" In this connection, it may be remarked that the Bishops in the English House of Lords do not adjudge matters of treason or capital crime. This 11th question, which may have been suggested by Opdegraves, a former Mennonite, brought forward the difficulty in conscience which had induced Quakers elsewhere and all Mennonites to keep aloof from administering secular government. Bradford, the printer, having taken side with Keith, printed this Appeal.
"Justices Cooke, Jennings, Richardson, Morrey, Ewer, and Anthony Morris asked the only Justices who were not Quakers, viz : Lasse Cock, a Swede, and John Holmes, a Baptist, to join in taking steps against 'the seditious and dangerous,' but Cock and Holmes told their five colleagues that the whole matter was a religious difference, and did not relate to the government."
Thereupon began proceedings which amounted to religious persecution by indirection, although it took the form of prosecution for slander, and for unlicensed use of the press, and could be justified if the acts of some modern judges of our day in punishing for contempt of court can be.(7) Those whose conduct had been animadverted upon in this published Appeal, who probably had previously, in another situation, contended for liberty of conscience and of the press, now persuaded themselves that bitter words against magistrates uttered in religious controversy, and questions whether their executing offices was consistent with their principles, tended to overthrow the government. They proceeded against the printer. A warrant was signed by Samuel Richardson and Robert Ewer, Justices; and the Sheriff and a constable entered Bradford's shop, and seized all the copies of the Appeal which could be found, and took Bradford before the Justices. John McComb, who was alleged to have circulated two copies, was also arrested. Refusing to give security to answer at the next court, Bradford and McComb were committed to jail by warrant dated Aug. 24, 1692, signed by Justices Cooke, Jennings, and Humphrey Morrey, as well as Robert Ewer. On another warrant, Bradford's house was searched, and his type taken away. The day after the commitment of Bradford and McComb, Justices Cooke, Jennings, Richardson, Morrey, Ewer, and Anthony Morris asked the only Justices who were not Quakers, viz : Lasse Cock, a Swede, and John Holmes, a Baptist, to join in taking steps against "the seditious and dangerous," but Cock and Holmes told their five colleagues that the whole matter was a religious difference, and did not relate to the government. Holmes asked them to send for Keith, and offered to join them if it them appeared that Keith struck at the government. This not being done, Cock and Holmes then withdrew. The others then issued a proclamation describing Keith as a seditious person and enemy to the King and Queen's government, in that Keith had publicly reviled Thomas Lloyd, the Deputy-Governor, calling him an impudent man, telling him that he was not fit to be Governor, and that his name would stink, and in that Keith had misrepresented the industry, care, readiness, and vigilance of some magistrates and others in the proceedings against some privateers. The point was made in the documents that to grant that it was inconsistent for ministers of the gospel to act as magistrates, would render the "Proprietary incapable of the powers given him by the King's letters patent, and so prostitute the validity of every act of government more especially in the executive part thereof to the courtesie and censure of all factious spirits." After explaining that the procedure against those in the Sheriff's custody, and what was intended against others, respected only the tendency to sedition and disturbance, and did not relate to difference in religion, the proclamation warned against giving countenance to any contemners of authority, and against further publishing of the pamphlet called the Appeal. It is declared in New England's Spirit of Persecution Transmitted to Pennsilvania(8) that Keith never spoke the aforesaid words except in Monthly Meetings and religious controversies, and that Lloyd had several times said that he would take no advantage of what was being said.
Bradford and McComb asked for a trial at the approaching term of Court, but the case was continued until December, and McComb's license to keep an inn was revoked. Meanwhile Bradford retired from his employment of printing for Friends. The restraint upon the two was indeed relaxed by the Sheriff : McComb's wife lying ill, he was let off daily, and even at night, to visit her, and afterwards both he and Bradford were allowed to go about their business, on giving their word to appear. But they or their advisers saw the dramatic effect of writing a statement from prison, so, having prepared a statement to the public, they went to the Sheriff's house, which served as jail, and which communicated by a common entry with the house adjoining, and, the Sheriff being out, so that they could get in no further, they signed their names in the entry. With more frankness, to show the unfairness of the claim that the Appeal was subversive of government, the three judgments complained of by Keith, the Answer, and the Appeal were then printed in one pamphlet. The Appeal was set up on posts in Philadelphia nine days before the time appointed for the Yearly Meeting.
The Yearly Meeting was held that year in Burlington on the 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th days of 7th month [i.e. September]. It is evident that those who gave the judgment appealed from, were not willing to submit the subject to the general company of Friends attending : Keith, if given the opportunity to make a speech, was to be feared. He and his supporters conferred together in the Court House, and sent to the Meeting a paper asking for an answer to the Appeal, or requesting their adversaries to allow a fair hearing before impartial Friends an hour after the close of meeting for worship on the second day of meeting. The messenger found the door of the meeting-house crowded, with the object, he supposed, of keeping out the Keith party; whereupon the messenger got up into the window, and stood there while he read, probably both letter and Appeal, nor did he desist when Thomas Janney started to pray, which the Keithians believed to be an expedient to stop the reading. It is not necessary here to examine the question, who had the standing to be considered in adjourning the sittings, or taking the action of Yearly Meetings. Many who claimed impartiality, as not having been concerned actually on either side, met at the time Keith desired for a hearing. Lloyd and his party were then sent for, but refuse to come, and those in attendance adjourned until an hour after the public meeting the next day. Then Lloyd and his party again refused to come. Then or on the previous day some ministers came to offer a hearing on the last day of the Meeting, but these were sent away, because Keith would not agree : he knew that the large attendance, on which he depended for victory, would not continue so long. The following, who may have included a number of New Jersey ministers, then declared Lloyd and his party in default, and proceeded to hear Keith, and decided in his favor: [See note 9].
They signed as from the Yearly Meeting, on behalf of themselves and "many more Friends who are one with us herein," a declaration that Keith and his friends were not guilty of the division leading to the setting up of separate meetings, that Lloyd and the rest of the twenty-eight should recall their paper of condemnation, and condemn the same in writing, and that the public Friends charged with misdemeanors and ill behavior should forbear speaking in public meetings until they cleared themselves. The declaration, or decision, with the signatures was printed : a reprint of the whole is in Mrs. Thomas Potts James's Memorial of Thomas Potts. We are more familiar with other forms of some of the surnames, such as Fitz Randolph (now Randolph of Phila. and N. J.), Updengraff, van Bebber, &ct. A Confession of Faith, probably the one prepared by Keith, as before mentioned, was also issued under date of 7mo. 7, 1692. It was subsequently printed by Bradford. It appears that those remaining in attendance at the meeting-house either treated Keith's appeal as not prosecuted before them, or formally confirmed the judgment against him, the latter action being mentioned by Gough. A contrite letter dated 11, 31, 1692, from Caleb Wheatly, aforesaid signer in favor of Keith, saying that he had been blinded by fond, foolish affection for Keith, is printed by Gough.
"It seems straining the meaning to say that putting to death was authorized. Overt acts of sedition, rioting, &tc. seem to have been so punishable, by the laws of England in this regard not having been superseded."
As hinted in the Justices' proclamation, Keith could be caught under Chapter XXVIII of the Great Law of 1682, that any person convicted of speaking, writing, or any act tending to sedition or disturbance of the peace should be fined not less than 20s., or else under Chapter XXIX, that any person convicted of speaking slightingly or carrying himself abusively against any magistrate or person in office should suffer according to the quality of the magistrate and nature of the offence, but not less than a fine of 20s. or ten days imprisonment at hard labor. Both of these statutes allowed much latitude to the judges imposing sentence, although Chapter XXVIII did not admit of imprisonment, except as resulting from non-payment of a heavy fine, whereas Chapter XXIX contemplated a severe punishment when the magistrate in question was the highest officer in the Province, as was Thomas Lloyd. It seems straining the meaning to say that putting to death was authorized. Overt acts of sedition, rioting, &tc. seem to have been so punishable, by the laws of England in this regard not having been superseded. As to one who had done more than print or circulate a pamphlet, or write a scurrilous letter, it was to be expected, from the tone of the proclamation, that in some process or proceeding emanating from them or other members of their party invested with the authority, there would be the formal charge of sedition. We cannot suppose that there was any likelihood of Keith suffering death, but the possibility of it was not only set forth by him, some years later, apparently as a claim to hearing and consideration, but, indeed, was mentioned by his old antagonist, Rev. Cotton Mather, before Keith's statement, at least the one known to the present writer, appeared. Mather said in his Decennium Luctuosum, printed in Boston in 1699 (reprinted in Narratives of Indian Wars 1675-1699): "'tis verily thought that poor George would have been made a sacrifice to Squire Samuel Jennings and the rest of the Pennsylvania dragons [is there an allusion to St. George and the dragon?]; and that since a crime which their laws had made capital was mentioned in the mittimus whereby Keith was committed, they would have hang'd him, if a revolution upon their government had not set him at liberty." Keith's statement was "I was presented by a grand jury at Philadelphia, and the presentment would have been prosecuted if the government had not been changed, and I had been accused for endeavoring to alter the government, which is capital by their law, and they would have found me guilty of death, had they not been turned out of the government, tho' I was innocent, and when I objected against the jury, they would not suffer one of the jury to be cast." Perhaps he meant the Grand Jury.
The actual proceedings in the County Court, as far as ascertained, were as follows. Boss, Budd, Keith, Bradford, and McComb, having been indicted by the grand jury of Philadelphia County, were arraigned for trial in December, 1692. The Justices sitting through the proceedings were Jennings, Cooke, Richardson, Ewer, Henry Waddy, and Griffith Owen, Quakers, and Holmes, the Baptist, but Turner, a Keithian, attended on the 10 and 12th of the month, and Cock, the Swede, and Anthony Morris attended on the 12th. When Bradford and McComb, apparently the first ones to be tried, appeared, a Justice upraided them for "standing so before the Court." McComb said "You can order our hats taken off." Probably the Quaker Justices did not proceed to such inconsistency. About thirty years after this, when, as Chancellor of the Court of Equity, Sir William Keith--no near relative of George--ordered John Kinsey's hat to be taken off, strong exception was taken to such interference with Quaker custom, and, on the next day, the Chancellor made an order that thenceforth, in the Courts of the Province, every man should remain covered or uncovered according to his persuasion. We may here recall the story which Miss Strickland, in her Queens of England, tells of King James II, when, for the first time after his accession, receiving William Penn. Penn came with his hat on, whereupon the King took off his own, and, on Penn being surprised, naively remarked that it was the custom in that place for "only one man to wear a hat."
"The jurors in this case remained out forty-eight hours, and then came in to ask a question, and were sent back, according to the barbarous method of forcing a decision,--it was Winter,--without meat, drink, fire, or tobacco. In the afternoon, they returned and said that they could not agree, and were discharged."
The vindication of the dignity of Lloyd and the Quaker ministers in the judiciary was not left in the hands of impartial men, and in the proceedings in Court, there was a neglect of the proprieties which only the scarcity of lawyers, judges, and jurors disconnected with the controversy can, as to some points, excuse. The public prosecutor, or Attorney-General, John Moore, being an adherent of the Church of England, David Lloyd was appointed to conduct the prosecution. Jennings sat on the bench with the other Judges, even in the trial of Boss, although refraining from joining in the judgment, or the fixing of the fines. Keith made a speech, but declined to plead in form, and was marked "Nihil dicit;" the others, particularly Boss, putting themselves on trial, excepted to the Quakers on the jury as prejudice, some especially so, against Keith and all who favored him, but the majority of the Judges would not allow the exceptions, although the Baptist Judge wished to; and one of the twenty-eight who signed the paper of condemnation against Keith, and against whom Boss's letter was written, actually sat on this jury. However, to the credit of Quakers be it spoken, the jurors, or at least enough to control the verdict, were rather scrupulous, and gave a verdict satisfactory to the prosecution only in the case of Boss, whom they found guilty of transgressing the XXIXth Chapter of the Law. He was accordingly fined 6£, in default of paying which he remained a prisoner until after the change of government. In Budd's case, the jury, after sitting all night, found him simply guilty of saying that Jennings behaved himself too high and imperiously in worldly courts. It was claimed that this was no conviction on the indictment. However, Budd was fined 5£. Bradford, denying that the Appeal was seditious, asserted the advanced principle that the jury must find both that it was seditious, and that he had printed it. This protection to liberty was not allowed : a majority of the Judges declared that whether it was seditious was a question for the Judges, and that all the jury had to do was to say whether he had printed it. To prove that fact, his printing frame was sent to the jury after he had retired, without it being exhibited in open court. The jurors in this case remained out forty-eight hours, and then came in to ask a question, and were sent back, according to the barbarous method of forcing a decision,--it was Winter,--without meat, drink, fire, or tobacco. In the afternoon, they returned and said that they could not agree, and were discharged. McComb appears to have been acquitted or discharged; for Gough says that he afterwards was so just as to give a true state of the case. Budd and Keith asked for an appeal to the Provincial Court, but this was denied. They then asked for an appeal to the King and Queen under the Vth article of the Charter to Penn. This, too, was denied, Justice Robert Turner dissenting, as he had done on several points. However guilty the various accused had been of discrediting the civil government, and even if the circumstances had not mitigated their offence, there is no wonder that, reading the report of these trials in New England's Spirit of Persecution Transmitted to Pennsilvania, and even before hearing of any danger to the life of Keith, people outside of the Province felt, that, if such were Quaker methods, no man could trust his liberty or property to a trial by Quakers. Whether the law had been stretched too far or not, the fact remained that both liberty and property had been taken away judicially by the opposing party in a religious dispute. Should a case arise where the legal penalty clearly involved loss of life, would not the Quakers vindicate their authority in the same way as the Congregationalists of New England? This suspicion had nothing to do with the assumption, described in the next chapter, of the government by the Crown. That change had already been ordered. What was the occasion of the letter of Lloyd and others to Keith shortly after the Court adjourned, is not known.
The indictment or a fresh one was pending against Keith when the new Governor assumed authority.(10) Keith, in his aforesaid statement about being accused of a capital offence, goes on to say that this representative of the Crown "ordered them to let fall the indictment, and I was cleared by a public writ signed by the Deputy Governor Col. Markham and the Council." The only record found bearing on this is the minute of Fletcher's Council for June 20, 1693, Markham presiding, that George Keith (printed "Seith" in Colonial Records, Vol. I.) exhibited a letter to Keith dated 10th month 26, 1692 [i.e. December], from Thomas Lloyd, Samll. Jennings, Arthur Cooke, and Jno. Delaval, charging him with being crazy, turbulent, a decrier of magistracy, and a notorious evil instrument in Church and State; whereupon Fletcher's Council issued a certificate of Keith's good behavior. The fines against Keith and Budd, which the Quaker government had not attempted to collect, were remitted, as well as Boss's, by Fletcher, who released Boss from prison, and caused Bradford's tools and type to be returned to him.
It was the Keithian Monthly Meeting which, at Philadelphia, on 8mo. 13, 1693, gave forth "an exhortation and caution to Friends concerning buying or keeping of negroes." This, except what was expressed at a gathering in Germantown in 1688, was the first anti-slavery declaration of the Quakers.
Keith and Budd went to England about the end of 1693. Jennings and Thomas Duckett went about the same time, to circumvent them. Keith and Budd attended the next Yearly Meeting in London, where Jennings and Thomas Duckett appeared against them from America, and were supported by the visiting Friends, Thomas Wilson and James Dickenson. The Meeting declared that Keith had done ill in printing and publishing the differences, and asked him to call in his books, or publish something to clear the body of Quakers. Thomas Ellwood submitted on the 2nd day an epistle warning against him, and obtained leave to print it. Keith being no more inclined to submission than most reformers, the next Yearly Meeting, on May 25, 1695, after hearing him through, disowned him, explaining that this was not for doctrine, but for his unbearable temper and carriage and refusal to withdraw his charges against the Philadelphia Quakers.
Keith then hired the Turners' Hall, Philpot Lane, London, and there, in Quaker garb, he preached and administered baptism and communion. Koster the Pietist(11), or more likely his biographer Rathlef, misunderstanding him, strangely accounts for the Keithians of Pennsylvania delaying to practise these ordinances from Keith's Anglican misgivings about a layman doing so, misgivings which Koster as a Lutheran did not have. The Keithians of Pennsylvania, we are told, being twitted with not practising what they showed their belief in, several of them who had not been baptized in infancy induced Koster to immerse them in the Delaware River. It was a few years after this, and when various Pennsylvania Keithians had gone different ways, that Keith entered the ministry of the Established Church. He gave his reasons for so doing in a farewell sermon at the Hall on May 5, 1700, and was made deacon by the Bishop of London several days later. Keith's further career will be mentioned in connection with the Church of England.
Although it has been stated that some of the Keithians reunited with the regular organization of the Society of Friends, no instance has been found of any prominent one doing so. Robert Turner and others of those who were inhabitants of the City are recorded in the list kept by William Hudson of persons deceased "not Friends." Nor did a movement back to the Society break up the Keithian meetings at Southampton, Lower Dublin, or Providence. Equally untrue is the idea that Christ Church, Philadelphia, the Mother of the Episcopal Churches of the City and the Province, was started by or absorbed most of the Keithians. The greatest trend was towards the Baptists, but a number, after being immersed, were keepers of Saturday as the day of rest and worship, and joined the Seventh Day Baptists.
According to Rev. Morgan Edwards's Materials towards a History of the Baptists in Pennsylvania, William Davis and Thomas Rutter in 1697 were immersed by Rev. Thomas Killingworth, a First Day, or regular, Baptist minister from Norfolk, England, who had a small congregation at Cohansey, New Jersey. Davis joined the Pennypack Baptist Church, but was expelled on Feb. 17, 1698, for heresy as to the Divine and human natures in Christ. John Hart seems to have led the non-seceding members of his First Day Meeting to the house of John Swift in Southampton Township, where they joined other Keithians. To these Hart preached. He was immersed by Rutter in 1697. For a while at least, Hart and his followers were among those convinced of the obligation to keep Saturday as the Sabbath, but he, in 1702, and most of the other Keithians of Southampton sooner or later joined Pennypack Baptist Church. Evan Morgan was also immersed by Rutter in or about 1697, and became a minister in 1706.
Perhaps it should be here noted that the Pennypack Church bid fair to become flourishing, a not inconsiderable number of Baptists from Pembrokeshire and Carmarthanshire, who had organized in 1701 at Milford, came over that year to Philadelphia with their minister, Rev. Thomas Griffiths, and went to the Pennypack. However, they insisted upon the ceremony of laying on of hands, and so could not be in fellowship with the others, and, in 1703, bought 30,000 acres, since known as the Welsh tract, in New Castle Co., and removed thither. From the Welsh Tract Church, missions and perhaps emigrants founded several congregations, among them that of the Great Valley (in Tredyffrin Township, Chester Co.), instituted in 1711 with Rev. Hugh Davis, an ordained minister from Wales. The Pennypack Church died out, and the views and practices of the Welsh Tract people spread through the Baptist denominations of Penn's colony.
Either before or after aligning themselves with Keith, certain Friends about Frankford and in Lower Dublin built a meeting-house on land belonging to Thomas Graves. Among them was John Wells, a signer of the answer to the judgment of Lloyd and others. Wells on Sep. 27, 1697, became a Baptist. Davis, upon his expulsion from the Pennypack Baptist Church, joined the Keithians of Lower Dublin, who before long began to separate rapidly. In 1699, David Price and wife, Abraham Pratt and wife, Richard Wells, Richard Sparks, and others were baptized, and formed a congregation with Davis as minister. Davis adopted Sabbatarian views, in which he was joined by a number, including Pratt, at whose house meetings were at some time held, and it appears that others seceded. In 1703 and 1704, there was a dispute, mentioned in the records of the Sabbatarians of Westerly, Rhode Island, before whom appeared Davis and Pratt--Sachse quotes the record "Abraham ----."(12) Davis went in 1710 to take charge of the Sabbatarians at Westerly. Richard Sparks, above mentioned, died in 1716, having left a lot in Philadelphia on the east side of 5th below Market as a burial ground for himself and other Seventh Day Baptists. It is now included in the pavement in front of the Bourse, the remains that could be found having been removed to the Cemetery of Seventh Day Baptists at Shiloh, Cumberland Co., N.J.
It is claimed, however, that most of the "Christian Quakers" of Frankford and Lower Dublin, including Graves, as the fruit of Anglican preaching, and independently of Keith, went over to the Church of England in 1699 or 1700. Graves conveyed the meeting-house and lot of three acres by deed dated Dec. 30, 1700, to Joshua Carpenter and John Moore "for the use and service of those in communion with our holy mother the Church of England and to no other use or uses whatsoever." The congregation since known as Trinity Church, Oxford, worshipped for a time in the meeting-house, and before Nov. 5, 1713, erected on the lot its present church edifice, the meeting-house becoming a stable, and afterwards being taken down. Before our civil courts undertook to enforce theological trusts, there were several instances, where, as a result of change in religious opinion or the impracticability of keeping to the old design, the majority of a congregation or the holders of title to church property took it into another ecclesiastical connection. These instances seem to us, where they were not the nearest possible carrying out of the trust, fraudulent conversions to new uses : but the persons who gave the ground, or built the edifice, may have said to themselves that their primary intention was to provide a place for themselves to worship in, and that they were not to lose the use of it, because of some obstinate associate, or of somebody with whom they once agreed in opinion.
"When these became impressed with the obligation of baptism and the Lord's Supper, and were left to their liberty by those in association with them in Philadelphia, Thomas Martin was selected to baptize them, but first to be baptized himself by Abel Noble, who had been already baptized."
There is a tradition mentioned by Sachse, but not by Edwards, that Abel Noble, visiting Jersey, had been baptized by Killingworth. Perhaps it was in Rhode Island by Stephen Mumford of Newport. Noble had devoted himself very much to the Keithians of Upper Providence. When these became impressed with the obligation of baptism and the Lord's Supper, and were left to their liberty by those in association with them in Philadelphia, Thomas Martin was selected to baptize them, but first to be baptized himself by Abel Noble, who had been already baptized. Edwards gives the date of Noble's baptizing Martin as June 28, 1697. Afterwards, the members nominated Thomas Budd, Thomas Martin, and William Beckingham, and, lots being drawn, the choice fell on Martin to administer the Lord's Supper. Edwards says that Martin did so on Oct. 12. An offer was made to receive such friends in Philadelphia as thought their baptism when infants sufficient, provided there was nothing else against them, but these refused, and the others soon felt relieved, the record saying: "we account it a providence, and acknowledge our shortness in giving away the Lord's cause." This Upper Providence congregation split on the question of the Sabbath, and dissolved. However, those who favored keeping Sunday were gathered together about 1715 by Rev. Abel Morgan, and, in 1718, built a meeting-house in Birmingham Township, bearing the name of Brandywine Baptist Church. The Sabbatarians, on the other hand, united at Newtown. In 1717, a number took up considerable land between Brandywine and French Creek, and, reinforced by some seceders from the Great Valley Baptist Church, this congregation, called Nantmeal, became a strong one.
The Keithians in the City of Philadelphia had a wooden meeting-house on the west side of Second below Mulberry (Arch) street. The lot had been conveyed to Thomas Budd, Thomas Peart, Ralph Ward, and James Poulter in trust for the use of the Christian people called Quakers subscribing the articles of faith, for a meeting-house or place of worship, and such other uses as the major part of the Meeting should appoint, and to convey to such persons as the major part of the Meeting should appoint. The meeting-house was lent to the Church of England congregation, while its building was in course of erection.
Thomas Budd died, his burial being on 12mo. 15, 1697-8. His antecedents or inclinations, at least the ecclesiastical destination of his family, was Presbyterian.
Rutter baptized nine persons, among whom was Thomas Peart, and these nine, with Rutter as Minister, united for meetings on June 12, 1698, and they continued apparently to be included under the name of Keithians, and doubtless, through Peart being a trustee, occupied the meeting-house, or perhaps shared it, even at first, with those who attended a different preacher. The chapter on the Church of England will mention the removal thither of the regular Baptists. Rutter remained a while in Germantown, and then at Manatawny, where he began making iron in 1716 or 1717, being the first to start an iron works within the limits of Pennsylvania.
We learn, from the statement prepared in 1730 in favor of Christ Church's claim to the Keithian meeting-house property (Penn. Archives 1st Series, Vol. I), that those who paid nearly two thirds of the original purchase money, including Thomas Peart and Ralph Ward, joined Christ Church congregation, but, as before said, they were not among its earliest members. Logan speaks in 1702 of some Keithians, including McComb, greatly opposing Keith at that time : but either before or later, as their Society died out, Nicholas Pearce and Thomas Tresse were among those who became Churchmen. The tombstone of the former is in the floor of the present edifice of Christ Church. The statement tells that in 1723 Thomas Peart, as surviving trustee, conveyed the meeting-house property to certain Churchmen in trust for a school for all Christians without any violence to their consciences. About this time, Joan Lee, who, with her husband, William Lee, had joined Christ Church, forsook it for the Baptists : She and two other Baptist women, former members of the Keithian Meeting, and John Budd, heir of Thomas Budd, and William Betridge and his wife Frances, heiress of James Poulter, as representatives of deceased members, made a deed to the Baptists in 1725. After some years dispute, Christ Church surrendered to the Baptists all claim in consideration of 50l .
For some time, the name "Lloydians," after Thomas Lloyd, was given to those Quakers who had adhered to him. The word is misprinted as "Hoytians" in the letter of Rev. Thomas Clayton published in Perry's Collections, as will be shown in the chapter on the Church of England.
In the remnant of the Society of Friends on the Delaware remaining after the Keithian secession and the subsequent propaganda of various denominations, Orthodoxy triumphed; perhaps because of the death of certain radical opposers of Keith, perhaps because of the influence of the positive teaching of the religious bodies surrounding--but there is here no intention to deny that it was the work of the Spirit. There was early a readiness in prominent adherents to profess their faith in the Trinity, and to acknowledge the Scriptures to be divinely inspired. Within four years after the Philadelphia Quarterly Meeting's condemnation of Keith, five signers of the declaration against him, viz: Waln, Maris, Simcock, Blunston, and Biles, and prominent men like David Lloyd, Richardson, Shippen, Morris, and Carpenter, and also Caleb Pusey, who then or afterwards wrote against Keith, had subscribed the declaration and acknowledgment set forth in the English Act of Toleration. The Frame of Government of 1696 was not designed to exclude the leading Friends from office, nor was it objected to as having such effect; yet it prescribed the making and signing of such profession and acknowledgment as the alternative for taking a certain oath for qualifying to serve as Councillor, Assemblyman, or any officer, and the Assembly chosen in 1705, composed almost entirely of Quakers, passed bills, which became the permanent law of the Province, not merely requiring that profession and acknowledgment for eligibility to office, but also insuring liberty of conscience only for those whose belief was represented in the Parliamentary phraseology. It is not likely that there were at the time any number of Pennsylvania Quakers left unprotected by such curtailment of toleration. Going, however, beyond this outline of faith, the following, under date of 3mo. 20, 1696, signed, in a petition to King William III, their recognition of Jesus conceived miraculously by the Holy Ghost, born of a Virgin, giving his life on the cross a sacrifice for man's sins, rising again, ascending into glory, and living to make intercession for men, as the Son of God and Saviour of the World.(13)
Following this lead, it came to pass and continued throughout the rest of Colonial times and into the Nineteenth Century that American Quakerdom in the greater notes, if with some minor elisions, joined in chorus with Rome, Geneva, Augsburg, Constantinople, and Canterbury.