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Historical texts  >  Journal of George Fox  >  Chapter Six


GEORGE FOX - An Autobiography

CHAPTER VI. A New Era Begins

1651-1652.


VI.

As we travelled we came near a very great hill, called Pendle Hill, and I was moved of the Lord to go up to the top of it; which I did with difficulty, it was so very steep and high. When I was come to the top, I saw the sea bordering upon Lancashire. From the top of this hill the Lord let me see in what places he had a great people to be gathered. As I went down, I found a spring of water in the side of the hill, with which I refreshed myself, having eaten or drunk but little for several days before.[69]

asterix At night we came to an inn, and declared truth to the man of the house, and wrote a paper to the priests and professors, declaring the day of the Lord, and that Christ was come to teach people Himself, by His power and Spirit in their hearts, and to bring people off from all the world's ways and teachers, to His own free teaching, who had bought them, and was the Saviour of all them that believed in Him. The man of the house spread the paper abroad, and was mightily affected with the truth. Here the Lord opened unto me, and let me see a great people in white raiment by a river side, coming to the Lord; and the place that I saw them in was about Wensleydale and Sedbergh.[70]

The next day we travelled on, and at night got a little fern or bracken to put under us, and lay upon a common. Next morning we reached a town, where Richard Farnsworth[71] parted from me; and then I travelled alone again. I came up Wensleydale, and at the market-town in that Dale, there was a lecture on the market-day. I went into the steeple-house; and after the priest had done I proclaimed the day of the Lord to the priest and people, warning them to turn from darkness to the Light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they might come to know God and Christ aright, and to receive His teaching, who teacheth freely. Largely and freely did I declare the Word of life unto them, and had not much persecution there.

Afterwards I passed up the Dales, warning people to fear God, and preaching the everlasting gospel to them. In my way I came to a great house, where was a schoolmaster; and they got me into the house. I asked them questions about their religion and worship; and afterwards I declared the truth to them. They had me into a parlour, and locked me in, pretending that I was a young man that was mad, and had run away from my relations; and that they would keep me till they could send to them. But I soon convinced them of their mistake, and they let me forth, and would have had me to stay; but I was not to stay there.

Then having exhorted them to repentance, and directed them to the Light of Christ Jesus, that through it they might come unto Him and be saved, I passed from them, and came in the night to a little ale-house on a common, where there was a company of rude fellows drinking. Because I would not drink with them, they struck me with their clubs; but I reproved them, and brought them to be somewhat cooler; and then I walked out of the house upon the common in the night.

After some time one of these drunken fellows came out, and would have come close up to me, pretending to whisper to me; but I perceived he had a knife; and therefore I kept off him, and bade him repent, and fear God. So the Lord by His power preserved me from this wicked man; and he went into the house again. The next morning I went on through other Dales, warning and exhorting people everywhere as I passed, to repent and turn to the Lord: and several were convinced. At one house that I came to, the man of the house (whom I afterwards found to be a kinsman of John Blakelin's) would have given me money, but I would not receive it.

The next day I went to a meeting at Justice Benson's, where I met a people that were separated from the public worship. This was the place I had seen, where a people came forth in white raiment. A large meeting it was, and the people were generally convinced; and they continue still a large meeting of Friends near Sedbergh; which was then first gathered through my ministry in the name of Jesus.

In the same week there was a great fair, at which servants used to be hired; and I declared the day of the Lord through the fair. After I had done so, I went into the steeple-house yard, and many of the people of the fair came thither to me, and abundance of priests and professors. There I declared the everlasting truth of the Lord and the Word of life for several hours, showing that the Lord was come to teach His people Himself, and to bring them off from all the world's ways and teachers, to Christ, the true teacher, and the true way to God. I laid open their teachers, showing that they were like them that were of old condemned by the prophets, and by Christ, and by the apostles. I exhorted the people to come off from the temples made with hands; and wait to receive the Spirit of the Lord, that they might know themselves to be the temples of God.

Not one of the priests had power to open his mouth against what I declared: but at last a captain said, "Why will you not go into the church? this is not a fit place to preach in." I told him I denied their church. Then stood up Francis Howgill, who was preacher to a congregation. He had not seen me before; yet he undertook to answer that captain; and he soon put him to silence. Then said Francis Howgill of me, "This man speaks with authority, and not as the scribes."

After this, I opened to the people that that ground and house were no holier than another place; and that the house is not the Church, but the people, of whom Christ is the head. After awhile the priests came up to me, and I warned them to repent. One of them said I was mad; so they turned away. But many were convinced there that day, who were glad to hear the truth declared, and received it with joy. Amongst these was Captain Ward, who received the truth in the love of it, and lived and died in it.

The next First-day I came to Firbank chapel in Westmoreland, where Francis Howgill and John Audland[72] had been preaching in the morning. The chapel was full of people, so that many could not get in. Francis said he thought I looked into the chapel, and his spirit was ready to fail, the Lord's power did so surprise him: but I did not look in. They made haste, and had quickly done, and they and some of the people went to dinner; but abundance stayed till they came again. John Blakelin and others came to me, and desired me not to reprove them publicly; for they were not parish-teachers, but pretty tender men. I could not tell them whether I should or no, though I had not at that time any drawings to declare publicly against them; but I said they must leave me to the Lord's movings.

While others were gone to dinner, I went to a brook, got a little water, and then came and sat down on the top of a rock hard by the chapel. In the afternoon the people gathered about me, with several of their preachers. It was judged there were above a thousand people; to whom I declared God's everlasting truth and Word of life freely and largely for about the space of three hours. I directed all to the Spirit of God in themselves; that they might be turned from darkness to Light, and believe in it; that they might become the children of it, and might be turned from the power of Satan unto God, and by the Spirit of truth might be led into all truth, and sensibly understand the words of the prophets, of Christ, and of the apostles; and might all come to know Christ to be their teacher to instruct them, their counsellor to direct them, their shepherd to feed them, their bishop to oversee them, and their prophet to open divine mysteries to them; and might know their bodies to be prepared, sanctified, and made fit temples for God and Christ to dwell in. In the openings of heavenly life I explained unto them the prophets, and the figures and shadows, and directed them to Christ, the substance. Then I opened the parables and sayings of Christ, and things that had been long hid.

asterix Now there were many old people who went into the chapel and looked out at the windows, thinking it a strange thing to see a man preach on a hill, and not in their church, as they called it; whereupon I was moved to open to the people that the steeple-house, and the ground whereon it stood were no more holy than that mountain; and that those temples, which they called the dreadful houses of God were not set up by the command of God and of Christ; nor their priests called, as Aaron's priesthood was; nor their tithes appointed by God, as those amongst the Jews were; but that Christ was come, who ended both the temple and its worship, and the priests and their tithes; and that all should now hearken unto Him; for He said, "Learn of me"; and God said of Him, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him."

I declared unto them that the Lord God had sent me to preach the everlasting gospel and Word of life amongst them, and to bring them off from all these temples, tithes, priests, and rudiments of the world, which had been instituted since the apostles' days, and had been set up by such as had erred from the Spirit and power the apostles were in. Very largely was I opened at this meeting, and the Lord's convincing power accompanied my ministry, and reached the hearts of the people, whereby many were convinced; and all the teachers of that congregation (who were many) were convinced of God's everlasting truth.

At Kendal a meeting was held in the Town-hall. Several were convinced and many were loving. One whose name was Cock met me in the street and would have given me a roll of tobacco, for people were then much given to smoking. I accepted his love, but did not receive his tobacco.

Thence I went to Underbarrow, and several people going along with me, great reasonings I had with them, especially with Edward Burrough.[73]

At night the priest and many professors came to the house; and a great deal of disputing I had with them. Supper being provided for the priest and the rest of the company, I had not freedom to eat with them; but told them that if they would appoint a meeting for the next day at the steeple-house, and acquaint the people with it, I might meet them. They had a great deal of reasoning about it; some being for, and some against it.

asterix In the morning, after I had spoken to them again concerning the meeting, as I walked upon a bank by the house, there came several poor travellers, asking relief, who I saw were in necessity; and they gave them nothing, but said they were cheats. It grieved me to see such hard-heartedness amongst professors; whereupon, when they were gone in to their breakfast, I ran after the poor people about a quarter of a mile, and gave them some money.

Meanwhile some that were in the house, coming out, and seeing me a quarter of a mile off, said I could not have gone so far in such an instant, if I had not had wings. Hereupon the meeting was like to have been put by; for they were filled with such strange thoughts concerning me that many of them were against having a meeting with me.[74]

I told them that I had run after those poor people to give them some money; being grieved at the hardheartedness of those who gave them nothing.

Then came Miles and Stephen Hubbersty, who, being more simple-hearted men, would have the meeting held. So to the chapel I went, and the priest came.

A great meeting there was, and the way of life and salvation was opened; and after awhile the priest fled away. Many of Crook and Underbarrow were convinced that day, received the Word of life, and stood fast in it under the teaching of Christ Jesus.

After I had declared the truth to them for some hours, and the meeting was ended, the chief constable and some other professors fell to reasoning with me in the chapel yard. Whereupon I took a Bible and opened the Scriptures, and dealt tenderly with them, as one would do with a child. They that were in the Light of Christ and Spirit of God knew when I spake Scripture, though I did not mention chapter and verse, after the priest's form, to them.

Then I went to an ale-house, to which many resorted betwixt the time of their morning and afternoon preaching, and had a great deal of reasoning with the people, declaring to them that God was come to teach His people, and to bring them off from the false teachers, such as the prophets, Christ, and the apostles cried against. Many received the Word of life at that time, and abode in it.

Thence I went to Ulverstone, and so to Swarthmore[75] to Judge Fell's; whither came up one Lampitt, a priest, who was a high notionist. With him I had much reasoning; for he talked of high notions and perfection, and thereby deceived the people. He would have owned me, but I could not own nor join with him, he was so full of filth.[76] He said he was above John; and made as though he knew all things. But I told him that death reigned from Adam to Moses; that he was under death, and knew not Moses, for Moses saw the paradise of God; but he knew neither Moses nor the prophets nor John; for that crooked and rough nature stood in him, and the mountain of sin and corruption; and the way was not prepared in him for the Lord.

He confessed he had been under a cross in things; but now he could sing psalms, and do anything. I told him that now he could see a thief, and join hand in hand with him; but he could not preach Moses, nor the prophets, nor John, nor Christ, except he were in the same Spirit that they were in.

Margaret Fell had been absent in the day-time; and at night her children told her that priest Lampitt and I had disagreed, which somewhat troubled her, because she was in profession with him; but he hid his dirty actions from them. At night we had much reasoning, and I declared the truth to her and her family. The next day Lampitt came again, and I had much discourse with him before Margaret Fell, who then clearly discerned the priest. A convincement of the Lord's truth came upon her and her family.

Soon after a day was to be observed for a humiliation, and Margaret Fell asked me to go with her to the steeple-house at Ulverstone, for she was not wholly come off from them. I replied, "I must do as I am ordered by the Lord." So I left her, and walked into the fields; and the Word of the Lord came to me, saying, "Go to the steeple-house after them."

When I came, Lampitt was singing with his people; but his spirit was so foul, and the matter they sung so unsuitable to their states, that after they had done singing, I was moved of the Lord to speak to him and the people. The word of the Lord to them was, "He is not a Jew that is one outwardly, but he is a Jew that is one inwardly, whose praise is not of man, but of God."

As the Lord opened further, I showed them that God was come to teach His people by His Spirit, and to bring them off from all their old ways, religions, churches, and worships; for all their religions, worships, and ways were but talking with other men's words; but they were out of the life and Spirit which they were in who gave them forth.

Then cried out one, called Justice Sawrey, "Take him away"; but Judge Fell's wife said to the officers, "Let him alone; why may not he speak as well as any other?"[77] Lampitt also, the priest, in deceit said, "Let him speak." So at length, when I had declared some time, Justice Sawrey caused the constable to put me out; and then I spoke to the people in the graveyard.

From thence I went into the island of Walney; and after the priest had done I spoke to him, but he got away. Then I declared the truth to the people, but they were something rude. I went to speak with the priest at his house, but he would not be seen. The people said he went to hide himself in the haymow; and they looked for him there, but could not find him. Then they said he was gone to hide himself in the standing corn, but they could not find him there either. I went to James Lancaster's, in the island, who was convinced, and from thence returned to Swarthmore, where the Lord's power seized upon Margaret Fell, her daughter Sarah, and several others.

Then I went to Baycliff, where Leonard Fell was convinced, and became a minister of the everlasting gospel. Several others were convinced there, and came into obedience to the truth. Here the people said they could not dispute; and would fain have put some other to hold talk with me; but I bade them fear the Lord, and not in a light way hold a talk of the Lord's words, but put the things in practice.[78]

I directed them to the Divine Light of Christ, and His Spirit in their hearts, which would let them see all the evil thoughts, words, and actions that they had thought, spoken, and acted; by which Light they might see their sin, and also their Saviour Christ Jesus to save them from their sins. This I told them was their first step to peace, even to stand still in the Light that showed them their sins and transgressions; by which they might come to see they were in the fall of old Adam, in darkness and death, strangers to the covenant of promise, and without God in the world; and by the same Light they might see Christ that died for them to be their Redeemer and Saviour, and their way to God.

Soon after, Judge Fell being come home, Margaret Fell, his wife, sent to me, desiring me to return thither; and feeling freedom from the Lord so to do, I went back to Swarthmore. I found the priests and professors, and that envious Justice Sawrey, had much incensed Judge Fell and Captain Sands against the truth by their lies; but when I came to speak with him I answered all his objections, and so thoroughly satisfied him by the Scriptures that he was convinced in his judgment. He asked me if I was that George Fox of whom Justice Robinson spoke so much in commendation amongst many of the Parliament men? I told him I had been with Justice Robinson, and with Justice Hotham in Yorkshire, who were very civil and loving to me; and that they were convinced in their judgment by the Spirit of God that the principle to which I bore testimony was the truth; and they saw over and beyond the priests of the nation, so that they, and many others, were now come to be wiser than their teachers.

After we had discoursed some time together, Judge Fell himself was satisfied also, and came to see, by the openings of the Spirit of God in his heart, over all the priests and teachers of the world, and did not go to hear them for some years before he died: for he knew it was the truth that I declared, and that Christ was the teacher of His people, and their Saviour. He sometimes wished that I were a while with Judge Bradshaw to discourse with him.

There came to Judge Fell's Captain Sands before-mentioned, endeavouring to incense the Judge against me, for he was an evil-minded man, and full of envy against me; and yet he could speak high things, and use the Scripture words, and say, "Behold, I make all things new." But I told him, then he must have a new God, for his God was his belly. Besides him came also that envious justice, John Sawrey. I told him his heart was rotten, and he was full of hypocrisy to the brim. Several other people also came, of whose states the Lord gave me a discerning; and I spoke to their conditions.[79] While I was in those parts, Richard Farnsworth and James Nayler came to see me and the family; and Judge Fell, being satisfied that it was the way of truth, notwithstanding all their opposition, suffered the meeting to be kept at his house. A great meeting was settled there in the Lord's power, which continued near forty years, until the year 1690, when a new meeting-house was erected near it.[80]

On the market-day I went to Lancaster, and spoke through the market in the dreadful power of God, declaring the day of the Lord to the people, and crying out against all their deceitful merchandise. I preached righteousness and truth unto them, which all should follow after, walk and live in, directing them how and where they might find and receive the Spirit of God to guide them thereinto.

After I had cleared myself in the market, I went to my lodging, whither several people came; and many were convinced who have since stood faithful to the truth.

The First-day following, in the forenoon, I had a great meeting in the street at Lancaster, amongst the soldiers and people, to whom I declared the Word of life, and the everlasting truth. I opened unto them that all the traditions they had lived in, all their worships and religions, and the profession they made of the Scriptures, were good for nothing while they lived out of the life and power which those were in who gave forth the Scriptures. I directed them to the Light of Christ, the heavenly man, and to the Spirit of God in their own hearts, that they might come to be acquainted with God and Christ, receive Him for their teacher, and know His kingdom set up in them.

In the afternoon I went to the steeple-house at Lancaster, and declared the truth to the priest and people, laying open before them the deceit they lived in, and directing them to the power and Spirit of God which they wanted. But they haled me out, and stoned me along the street till I came to John Lawson's house.

Another First-day I went to a steeple-house by the waterside, where one Whitehead was priest. To him and to the people I declared the truth in the dreadful power of God. There came a doctor so full of envy that he said he could find it in his heart to run me through with his rapier, though he were hanged for it the next day; yet this man came afterwards to be convinced of the truth so far as to be loving to Friends. Some were convinced thereabouts who willingly sat down under the ministry of Christ, their teacher; and a meeting was settled there in the power of God, which has continued to this day.

After this I returned into Westmoreland, and spoke through Kendal on a market-day. So dreadful was the power of God upon me, that people flew like chaff before me into their houses. I warned them of the mighty day of the Lord, and exhorted them to hearken to the voice of God in their own hearts, who was now come to teach His people Himself. When some opposed, many others took my part. At last some fell to fighting about me; but I went and spoke to them, and they parted again. Several were convinced.

After I had travelled up and down in those countries, and had had great meetings, I came to Swarthmore again. And when I had visited Friends in those parts, I heard of a great meeting the priests were to have at Ulverstone, on a lecture-day. I went to it, and into the steeple-house in the dread and power of the Lord. When the priest had done, I spoke among them the Word of the Lord, which was as a hammer, and as a fire amongst them. And though Lampitt, the priest of the place, had been at variance with most of the priests before, yet against the truth they all joined together. But the mighty power of the Lord was over all; and so wonderful was the appearance thereof, that priest Bennett said the church shook, insomuch that he was afraid and trembled. And when he had spoken a few confused words he hastened out for fear it should fall on his head. Many priests got together there; but they had no power as yet to persecute.

When I had cleared my conscience towards them, I went up to Swarthmore again, whither came four or five of the priests. Coming to discourse, I asked them whether any one of them could say he had ever had the word of the Lord to go and speak to such or such a people. None of them durst say he had; but one of them burst out into a passion and said that he could speak his experiences as well as I.

I told him experience was one thing; but to receive and go with a message, and to have a Word from the Lord, as the prophets and apostles had had and done, and as I had done to them, this was another thing. And therefore I put it to them again, "Can any of you say you have ever had a command or word from the Lord immediately at any time?" but none of them could say so.

Then I told them that the false prophets, the false apostles, and the antichrists, could use the words of the true prophets, the true apostles, and of Christ, and would speak of other men's experiences, though they themselves never knew or heard the voice of God or Christ; and that such as they might obtain the good words and experiences of others. This puzzled them much, and laid them open.

At another time, when I was discoursing with several priests at Judge Fell's house, and he was by, I asked them the same question, -- whether any of them had ever heard the voice of God or Christ, to bid him go to such and such a people, to declare His word or message unto them. Any one, I told them, that could but read, might declare the experiences of the prophets and apostles, which were recorded in the Scriptures. Thereupon Thomas Taylor,[81] an ancient priest, did ingenuously confess before Judge Fell that he had never heard the voice of God, nor of Christ, to send him to any people; but that he spoke his experiences, and the experiences of the saints in former ages, and that he preached. This very much confirmed Judge Fell in the persuasion he had that the priests were wrong; for he had thought formerly, as the generality of people then did, that they were sent from God.

Now began the priests to rage more and more, and as much as they could to stir up persecution. James Nayler and Francis Howgill were cast into prison in Appleby jail, at the instigation of the malicious priests, some of whom prophesied that within a month we should be all scattered again, and come to nothing. But, blessed for ever be the worthy name of the Lord, His work went on and prospered; for about this time John Audland, Francis Howgill, John Camm, Edward Burrough, Richard Hubberthorn, Miles Hubbersty, and Miles Halhead, with several others, being endued with power from on high, came forth in the work of the ministry, and approved themselves faithful labourers therein, travelling up and down, and preaching the gospel freely; by means whereof multitudes were convinced, and many effectually turned to the Lord.

On a lecture-day I was moved to go to the steeple-house at Ulverstone, where were abundance of professors, priests, and people. I went near to priest Lampitt, who was blustering on in his preaching. After the Lord had opened my mouth to speak, John Sawrey, the justice, came to me and said that if I would speak according to the Scriptures, I should speak. I admired him for speaking so to me, and told him I would speak according to the Scriptures, and bring the Scriptures to prove what I had to say; for I had something to speak to Lampitt and to them. Then he said I should not speak, contradicting himself, for he had said just before that I should speak if I would speak according to the Scriptures. The people were quiet, and heard me gladly, till this Justice Sawrey (who was the first stirrer-up of cruel persecution in the north) incensed them against me, and set them on to hale, beat, and bruise me. But now on a sudden the people were in a rage, and fell upon me in the steeple-house before his face, knocked me down, kicked me, and trampled upon me. So great was the uproar, that some tumbled over their seats for fear.

At last he came and took me from the people, led me out of the steeple-house, and put me into the hands of the constables and other officers, bidding them whip me, and put me out of the town. They led me about a quarter of a mile, some taking hold by my collar, some by my arms and shoulders; and they shook and dragged me along.

Many friendly people being come to the market, and some to the steeple-house to hear me, diverse of these they knocked down also, and broke their heads so that the blood ran down from several; and Judge Fell's son running after to see what they would do with me, they threw him into a ditch of water, some of them crying, "Knock the teeth out of his head."

When they had haled me to the common moss-side, a multitude following, the constables and other officers gave me some blows over my back with their willow rods, and thrust me among the rude multitude, who, having furnished themselves with staves, hedge-stakes, holm or holly bushes, fell upon me, and beat me on my head, arms, and shoulders, till they had deprived me of sense; so that I fell down upon the wet common.

When I recovered again, and saw myself lying in a watery common, and the people standing about me, I lay still a little while, and the power of the Lord sprang through me, and the eternal refreshings revived me; so that I stood up again in the strengthening power of the eternal God, and stretching out my arms toward them, I said, with a loud voice, "Strike again; here are my arms, my head, and my cheeks."

There was in the company a mason, a professor, but a rude fellow, who with his walking rule-staff gave me a blow with all his might just over the back of my hand, as it was stretched out; with which blow my hand was so bruised, and my arm so benumbed, that I could not draw it to me again. Some of the people cried, "He hath spoiled his hand for ever having the use of it any more." But I looked at it in the love of God (for I was in the love of God to all that persecuted me), and after awhile the Lord's power sprang through me again, and through my hand and arm, so that in a moment I recovered strength in my hand and arm in the sight of them all.

Then they began to fall out among themselves. Some of them came to me, and said that if I would give them money they would secure me from the rest. But I was moved of the Lord to declare the Word of life, and showed them their false Christianity, and the fruits of their priest's ministry, telling them that they were more like heathens and Jews than true Christians.

Then was I moved of the Lord to come up again through the midst of the people, and go into Ulverstone market. As I went, there met me a soldier, with his sword by his side. "Sir," said he to me, "I see you are a man, and I am ashamed and grieved that you should be thus abused"; and he offered to assist me in what he could. I told him that the Lord's power was over all; and I walked through the people in the market, none of whom had power to touch me then. But some of the market people abusing some Friends in the market, I turned about, and saw this soldier among them with his naked rapier; whereupon I ran, and, catching hold of the hand his rapier was in, bid him put up his sword again if he would go along with me.

About two weeks after this I went into Walney island, and James Nayler went with me. We stayed one night at a little town on this side, called Cockan, and had a meeting there, where one was convinced.

After a while there came a man with a pistol, whereupon the people ran out of doors. He called for me; and when I came out to him he snapped his pistol at me, but it would not go off. This caused the people to make a great bustle about him; and some of them took hold of him, to prevent his doing mischief. But I was moved in the Lord's power to speak to him; and he was so struck by the power of the Lord that he trembled for fear, and went and hid himself. Thus the Lord's power came over them all, though there was a great rage in the country.

Next morning I went over in a boat to James Lancaster's. As soon as I came to land there rushed out about forty men with staves, clubs, and fishing-poles, who fell upon me, beating and punching me, and endeavouring to thrust me backward into the sea. When they had thrust me almost into the sea, and I saw they would knock me down in it, I went up into the midst of them; but they laid at me again, and knocked me down, and stunned me.

asterix When I came to myself, I looked up and saw James Lancaster's wife throwing stones at my face, and her husband, James Lancaster, was lying over me, to keep the blows and the stones off me. For the people had persuaded James Lancaster's wife that I had bewitched her husband, and had promised her that if she would let them know when I came thither they would be my death. And having got knowledge of my coming, many of the town rose up in this manner with clubs and staves to kill me; but the Lord's power preserved me, that they could not take away my life.

At length I got up on my feet, but they beat me down again into the boat; which James Lancaster observing, he presently came into it, and set me over the water from them; but while we were on the water within their reach they struck at us with long poles, and threw stones after us. By the time we were come to the other side, we saw them beating James Nayler; for whilst they had been beating me, he walked up into a field, and they never minded him till I was gone; then they fell upon him, and all their cry was, "Kill him, kill him."

When I was come over to the town again, on the other side of the water, the townsmen rose up with pitchforks, flails, and staves, to keep me out of the town, crying, "Kill him, knock him on the head, bring the cart; and carry him away to the churchyard." So after they had abused me, they drove me some distance out of the town, and there left me.

Then James Lancaster went back to look after James Nayler; and I being now left alone, went to a ditch of water, and having washed myself (for they had besmeared my face, hands, and clothes with miry dirt), I walked about three miles to Thomas Hutton's house, where lodged Thomas Lawson, the priest that was convinced.

When I came in I could hardly speak to them, I was so bruised; only I told them where I left James Nayler. So they took each of them a horse, and went and brought him thither that night. The next day Margaret Fell hearing of it, sent a horse for me; but I was so sore with bruises, I was not able to bear the shaking of the horse without much pain.

When I was come to Swarthmore, Justice Sawrey, and one Justice Thompson, of Lancaster, granted a warrant against me; but Judge Fell coming home, it was not served upon me; for he was out of the country all this time that I was thus cruelly abused. When he came home he sent forth warrants into the isle of Walney, to apprehend all those riotous persons; whereupon some of them fled the country.

James Lancaster's wife was afterwards convinced of the truth, and repented of the evils she had done me; and so did others of those bitter persecutors also; but the judgments of God fell upon some of them, and destruction is come upon many of them since. Judge Fell asked me to give him a relation of my persecution; but I told him they could do no otherwise in the spirit wherein they were, and that they manifested the fruits of their priest's ministry, and their profession and religion to be wrong. So he told his wife I made light of it, and that I spoke of it as a man that had not been concerned; for, indeed, the Lord's power healed me again.

The time for the sessions at Lancaster being come, I went thither with Judge Fell, who on the way told me he had never had such a matter brought before him before, and he could not well tell what to do in the business. I told him, when Paul was brought before the rulers, and the Jews and priests came down to accuse him, and laid many false things to his charge, Paul stood still all that while. And when they had done, Festus, the governor, and king Agrippa, beckoned to him to speak for himself; which Paul did, and cleared himself of all those false accusations, so he might do with me.

Being come to Lancaster, Justice Sawrey and Justice Thompson having granted a warrant to apprehend me, though I was not apprehended by it, yet hearing of it, I appeared at the sessions, where there appeared against me about forty priests. These had chosen one Marshall, priest of Lancaster, to be their orator; and had provided one young priest, and two priests' sons, to bear witness against me, who had sworn beforehand that I had spoken blasphemy

When the justices were sat, they heard all that the priests and their witnesses could say and charge against me, their orator Marshall sitting by, and explaining their sayings for them. But the witnesses were so confounded that they discovered themselves to be false witnesses; for when the court had examined one of them upon oath, and then began to examine another, he was at such loss he could not answer directly, but said the other could say it. Which made the justices say to him, "Have you sworn it, and given it in already upon your oath, and now say that he can say it? It seems you did not hear those words spoken yourself, though you have sworn it."

There were then in court several who had been at that meeting, wherein the witnesses swore I spoke those blasphemous words which the priests accused me of; and these, being men of integrity and reputation in the country, did declare and affirm in court that the oath which the witnesses had taken against me was altogether false; and that no such words as they had sworn against me were spoken by me at that meeting. Indeed, most of the serious men of that side of the country, then at the sessions, had been at that meeting; and had heard me both at that and at other meetings also.

This was taken notice of by Colonel West, who, being a justice of the peace, was then upon the bench; and having long been weak in body, blessed the Lord and said that He had healed him that day; adding that he never saw so many sober people and good faces together in all his life. Then, turning himself to me, he said in the open sessions, "George, if thou hast anything to say to the people, thou mayest freely declare it."

I was moved of the Lord to speak; and as soon as I began, priest Marshall, the orator for the rest of the priests, went his way. That which I was moved to declare was this: that the holy Scriptures were given forth by the Spirit of God; and that all people must come to the Spirit of God in themselves in order to know God and Christ, of whom the prophets and apostles learnt: and that by the same Spirit all men might know the holy Scriptures. For as the Spirit of God was in them that gave forth the Scriptures, so the same Spirit must be in all them that come to understand the Scriptures. By this Spirit they might have fellowship with the Father, with the Son, with the Scriptures, and with one another: and without this Spirit they can know neither God, Christ, nor the Scriptures, nor have a right fellowship one with another.

I had no sooner spoken these words than about half a dozen priests, that stood behind me, burst into a passion. One of them, whose name was Jackus, amongst other things that he spake against the Truth, said that the Spirit and the letter were inseparable. I replied, "Then every one that hath the letter hath the Spirit; and they might buy the Spirit with the letter of the Scriptures."

This plain discovery of darkness in the priest moved Judge Fell and Colonel West to reprove them openly, and tell them that according to that position they might carry the Spirit in their pockets as they did the Scriptures. Upon this the priests, being confounded and put to silence, rushed out in a rage against the justices, because they could not have their bloody ends upon me. The justices, seeing the witnesses did not agree, and perceiving that they were brought to answer the priests' envy, and finding that all their evidences were not sufficient in law to make good their charge against me, discharged me.

After Judge Fell had spoken to Justice Sawrey and Justice Thompson concerning the warrant they had given forth against me, and showing them the errors thereof, he and Colonel West granted a supersedeas[82] to stop the execution of it. Thus I was cleared in open sessions of those lying accusations which the malicious priests had laid to my charge: and multitudes of people praised God that day, for it was a joyful day to many. Justice Benson, of Westmoreland, was convinced; and Major Ripan, mayor of the town of Lancaster, also.

It was a day of everlasting salvation to hundreds of people: for the Lord Jesus Christ, the way to the Father, the free Teacher, was exalted and set up; His everlasting gospel was preached, and the Word of eternal life was declared over the heads of the priests, and all such lucrative preachers. For the Lord opened many mouths that day to speak His Word to the priests, and several friendly people and professors reproved them in their inns, and in the streets, so that they fell, like an old rotten house: and the cry was among the people that the Quakers had got the day, and the priests were fallen.

Chapter Seven ...>>


Notes and Links

[69] This spring is still called "George Fox's well."

[70] No part of Fox's life is more remarkable than these few months of service that follow in Westmoreland -- "in and about Wensleydale and Sedbergh." Here he gathers about himself a band of preachers only slightly less gifted than himself. He wins the support of the Fells of Swarthmore Hall, which becomes henceforth a sort of headquarters to the movement, and he gains the incalculable assistance of Margaret Fell, -- for many years a wise and faithful friend, and finally his wife.

[71] Richard Farnsworth was "convinced" at Balby in 1601, and became one of George Fox's most valuable helpers.

[72] Howgill and Audland became two of the little band of powerful ministers who gave their lives to the proclamation of the truth as Fox interpreted it.

[73] Edward Burrough has been called the Whitefield of Quakerism. He possessed a trained mind and unusual original power. He was a vigorous writer, and his ministry was remarkably effective. "Son of thunder and consolation," he was named. He was one of the early martyrs to the truth, dying in a London prison in 1662. Just before his death he said: "Now my soul and spirit is entered into its own being with God, and this form of person must return whence it was taken."

[74] The superstitions everywhere existent among the people should be noted.

[75] In the Furness district.

[76] Of no other minister has Fox spoken so harshly as of this man Lampitt. There is every reason for believing that the picture which he gives of Lampitt is correct, though in Calamy's "Ejected Ministers" he is spoken of as "a warm and lively preacher."

[77] During the Commonwealth period it was no violation of law or custom for a person in the congregation to stand up and speak or object after the minister had finished his sermon. In most cases, where Fox spoke in the churches, he was exercising a right which was well-established. Occasionally he interrupted, which was contrary to good order, but he justified it by an appeal to the call of the Spirit, which he could not resist. (See Chapter III.) Justices of the Peace had authority to forbid any person to speak.

[78] Most wholesome words these, for that period of endless dispute, when religion too often meant the acceptance of some verbal statement.

[79] "Speaking to their conditions" meant describing their inward state.

[80] Justice Fell never became an avowed Friend. He, however, had much sympathy with the movement, and used his influence and authority to protect the Friends. He put no hindrance in the way of his wife, who did join them. Swarthmore Hall was always open to travelling ministers, and there is good reason to believe that substantial assistance went from Swarthmore Hall to those who were labouring throughout the kingdom. Margaret Fell was a great-granddaughter of Anne Askew, who was burned at the stake in 1545. Judge Fell was member for Parliament in 1645.
    This meeting-house, erected near Swarthmore Hall in 1690, the gift of George Fox is still standing, and contains many objects of interest.

[81] This Thomas Taylor was educated at Oxford, and was a man of profound insight. He became a valiant supporter of Fox and a convincing minister.

[82] A writ or order from the Court setting aside or staying the execution of the original writ.