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of yours there is no difference; for ye will confess that the foundation of your religion is grounded upon the scriptures; and yet now ye are persecuting them that be in the same life which they were in, who spake forth the scriptures, yourselves being the mean while under a profession of the words they spake: and this ye shall one day witness. So
ye have a profession and form, and persecute them that are in the possession, life, and power. Therefore know assuredly that ye must come to judgment; for he is made manifest, to whom all judgment is committed. Therefore to the light of Christ Jesus in yourconsciences, which searcheth and trieth you, turn your minds, and stand still, and wait there to receive the righteous law, which is according to that of God in the conscience, which is now rising, and is bearing witness against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men; and they whom ye persecute are manifest to God, and that of God in all consciences shall bear witness for us, that we are of God: and this ye shall one day witness, whether ye will hear or forbear. Our rejoicing is in the testimony of our consciences, that in simplicity and godly sincerity (not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God) we have had our conversation in the world, not handling the word of God deceitfully, but in the manifestation of the truth; commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God: and if our gospel be hid, it is bid to them that are lost. And for the witnessing the holding the mystery of faith in a pure conscience, we do suffer, and are subject for conscience sake. This is thankworthy, if a man, for conscience-sake, endure griefs and suffering wrongfully. And in this is our joy and rejoicing, having a good conscience, that whereas we are evil-spoken of, as evil-doers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse our good conversation in Christ; which is not only the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience towards God, by the resurrection of Jesus Cbrist. And this we witness made manifest, (eternal praises to the living God) and bear testimony to that which spake it in the apostle in life and power; and therefore do we bear witness and testify against those, who, being got into a forin and profession of it, do persecute the life and power. Therefore to the eternal light of Christ Jesus, the searcher and trier of all hearts, turn your minds, and see what ye are doing ; lest ye overturn your foundation and bottom, whereon ye pretend to stand, while ye are professing the scriptures, and persecuting the life, light, and power, which they were in who gave them forth. For the stone, cut out of the mountains
without hands, is now striking at the feet of the image, the profession, which is set up, and stands in the will of man. Now is that made manifest unto wbich all must answer, and appear before the judgment-seat of Christ, that every one may receive the things done in the body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men, but we are made manifest unto God, and shall be made manifest in all your consciences, which ye shall witness.'
Divers times, both in the time of the Long Parliament, and of the Protector (so called) and of the Committee of Safety, when they proclaimed fasts, I was moved to write to them, and tell them their fasts were like unto Jesabel's : for commonly when they proclaimed fasts, there was some mischief contrived against us: and I knew their fasts were for strife and debate, to smite with the fist of wickedness; as the New England professors soon after did, who, before they put our friends to death, proclaimed a fast also.
Now was it a time of great suffering, and many friends being in prisons, many other friends were moved to go to the parliament, to offer up themselves to lie in the same dungeons where their friends lay, that they that were in prison might go forth, and not perish in the stinking dungeons and jails. And this we did in love to God and our brethren, that they might not die in prison; and in love to them that cast them in, that they might not bring innocent blood upon their own heads, which we knew would cry to the Lord, and bring his wrath, vengeance, and plagues upon them. But little favour could we find from those professing parliaments; but instead thereof they would be in a rage, and sometimes threaten those friends that thus attended them, that they would whip them, and send them home. Then commonly soon after the Lord would turn them out, and send them home; who had not an heart to do good in the day of their power. But they went not off without being forewarned, for I was moved to write to them, in their several turns, as I did to the long parliament, unto whom I declared, before they were broken up, that thick darkness was coming over them all, even a day of darkness that should be felt.
And because the parliament that now sate was made up mostly of high professors, who pretended to be more religious than others, were indeed greater persecutors of them that were truly reglious, I was moved to send them the following lines, as a reproof of their hypocrisy :
O friends, do not cloak and cover yourselves ; there is a God that knoweth your hearts, and that will uncover you. He seeth your way: woe be to him that covereth, but not with my Spirit, saith the Lord. Do ye do contrary to the law, and then put it from you. Mercy and true judgment ye neglect. Look, what was spoken against such : my Saviour spake against such : “was sick, and ye visited me not; I was hungry, and ye fed me not; I was a stranger, and ye took me not in; I was in prison, and ye visited me not.” But they said, “When saw we thee in prison, and did not come to thee? ” “ Inasmuch as ye did it not unto one of these little ones, ye did it not unto me.” Friends, ye prison them that be in the life and power of truth, and yet profess to be the ministers of Christ. But if Christ had sent you, ye would bring out of prison, and out of bondage, and receive strangers. Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter : ye have condemned, and killed the just, and he doth not resist you.'
After this, as I was going out of town, having two friends with me, when we were gone little more than a mile out of the city, there met us two troopers belonging to colonel Hacker's regiment, and they took me and the friends that were with me, and brought us back to the mews, and there kept us prisoners a little while. But the Lord's power was so over them that they did not have us before any officer, but after awhile set us at liberty agaio. The same day, taking a boat, I went down to Kingston, and from thence went afterward toward Hampton Court, to speak with the Protector about the sufferings of friends. I met him riding into Hampton Court Park, and before I came at him, as he rode in the head of his life-guard, I saw and felt a waft (or apparition) of death go forth against him; and when I came to him, he looked like a dead man. After I had laid the sufferings of friends before him, and had warned him, according as I was moved to speak to him, he bid me come to his house. So I went back to Kingston, and the next day went up to Hampton Court again, to have spoken further with him. But when I came, he was sick, and
Harvey, who was one that waited on him, told me the doctors were not willing I should come in to speak with him. So I passed away, and never saw him any more,
From Kingston I went to Isaac Penington's, in Buck
inghamshire, where I had appointed a meeting, and the Lord's truth and power was preciously manifested amongst us. After I had visited friends in those parts, I returned to London, and soon after went into Essex, where I had not been long before I heard that the Protector was dead, and his son Richard made Protector in his room. Where upon I came up to London again.
And before this time the church-faith (so called) was given forth, which was said to be made at the Savoy in eleven days time. I got a copy of it before it was published, and writ an answer to it; and when their book of churchfaith was sold up and down the streets, my answer to it was sold also. This angered some of the parliament men, so that one of them told me they must have me to Smithfield. I told hiin I was over their fires, and feared them not. And reasoning with him, I wished him to consider, had all people been without a faith these sixteen hundred years, that now the priests must make them one ? Did not the apostle say, that Jesus was the author and finisher of their faith? And since Cbrist Jesus was the author of the apostles' faith, and of the church's faith in the primitive times, and of the martyrs' faith, should not all people look unto him to be the author and finisher of their faith, and not unto the priests? A great deal of work we had about the priests' made faith; for they called us housecreepers, leading silly women captive, because we met in houses, and would not hold up their priests and temples, which they had made and set up. But I told them that it was they that led silly women captive, and crept into houses, who kept people always learning under them, who were covetous, and had got a form of godliness, but denied the power and spirit which the apostles were in. Such began to creep in the apostles' days; but now they had got the magistrates on their side, who upheld those houses for them, which they had crept into, their temples, with their tithes : whereas the apostles brought people off from even that temple, and those tithes and offerings which God had for a time commanded. And the apostles met in several private houses, being to preach the gospel to all nations, which they did freely, as Christ had commanded them. And so do we, who bring people off from these priests, temples, and tithes (which God never commanded) to meet in houses, or on mountains,' as the saints of old did, who were gathered in the name of Jesus ; and Christ was their prophet, priest, and shepherd.
There was present with the parliament man that I discoursed with, one major Wiggan, a very envious man, yet he
bridled bimself before the parliament man, and some others that were there in company. He took upon him to make a speech, and said Christ had taken away the guilt of sin, but had left the power of sin remaining in us I told him that was strange doctrine, for Christ came to destroy the devil and his works, and the power of sin, and so to cleanse men from sin.
So major Wiggan's mouth was stopped at that time. But the next day, desiring to speak with me again, I took a friend or two with me, and went to him. Then he vented a great deal of passion and rage, beyond the bounds of a Christian or moral man; whereupon I was made to reprove him. And having brought the Lord's power over him, and let him see what condition he was in, I left him.
After some time I passed out of London, and had a meeting at serjeant Birkhead's at Twickenham, to which many people came, and some of considerable quality in the world. A glorious meeting it was, wherein the scriptures were largely and clearly opened, and Christ exalted above all, to the great satisfaction of the hearers.
But there was great persecution in many places, both by imprisoning and breaking up of meetings. "At a meeting about seven miles from London, the rude people usually came out of several parishes round about, to abuse friends, and did often beat and bruise them exceedingly. One day they beat and abused about eighty friends, that went to that meeting out of London, tearing their coats and cloaks from off their backs, and throwing them into ditches and ponds, and when they had besmeared them with dirt, then they said they looked like witches. The next first-day after this, I was moved of the Lord to go to that meeting, though at that time I was very weak. When I came there I bid friends bring a table, and set it in the close, where they used to meet, to stand upon. According to their wonted course, the rude people came, and I having a bible in my hand, shewed them theirs and their priests' and teachers' fruits : and the people came to be ashamed, and were quiet. And so I opened the scriptures to them, and our principles agreeing therewith, and I turned the people from the darkness to the light of Christ and his Spirit, by which they might understand the scriptures, and see themselves and their sins, and know Christ Jesus to be their Saviour. So the meeting ended quietly, and the Lord's power came over all, to his glory. But it was a time of great sufferings; for besides the imprisonments (through which many died in prisons) our meetings were gready disturbed ; for they have thrown rotten eggs and wild-fire