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in quiet resting places. The eye of them that see shall not be dim, the ear of them that hear shall hearken, the heart also of the rash shall understand knowledge, and the tongue of the stammerer shall be ready to speak plainly."* These are the blessed effects of walking in the way and paths of righteousness, which a remnant are living witnesses of, and can praise and magnify the name of the Lord in the sense thereof.
But none come to enjoy this blessed estate, nor inhabit this heavenly dwelling-place, but as their minds come truly to be exercised by and in the light of the Lord, and that by walking and abiding therein, come to have their minds established, settled, and stayed upon him, who is indeed the alone stay of his people, and rock of his inheritance.
And nothing can be found in the heavens above, nor in the earth beneath, that is able to satisfy or stay the mind of man, but the Lord; the mind or soul of man is more noble, more excellent than all visible things, so they are not all capable to fill or satisfy his soul, or stay his mind; thougla he might possess or have the whole world to himself, yet in the end will be made to cry out and confess, with the preacher of old, “Vanity of vanity, all is vanity and vexation of spirit,” &c. Eccles. i. But to have the mind stayed upon the Lord, there is pleasure, peace, and content truly found and enjoyed, according to the testimony of that divine prophet Isaiah, who said, speaking in the name of the Lord, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed upon thee.” This is such a truth, that none knoweth but he that hath it: it may be soon writ, read, or spoken, but to enjoy that estate is more than words, it is the end, sum and substance of all that can be said or done, and is the reward of the righteous from the immediate hand of God, viz. to be kept in perfect peace. It is the end of all holy breathings and desires, it is the end of the preaching the gospel of peace and salvation, even to know and feel, and experience the peace of God, to keep the heart, and to keep the mind, and to rule there.
This is a blessed state indeed, worthy to be waited for, and pressed after, by all that have a sight and sense thereof, and are in the way that leadeth thereto, though not yet arrived thereat. Go forward in the name of the Lord, even in that name, light, by which he hath made himself known unto us in this age; by which light thou sawest the wandering, and unstableness of thy mind, and the multitude of thy thoughts, imaginations, and inventions; persevere in the same and thou wilt become not only a child of it, but also grow from a child's estate, to the state of a young man, elder, and father; keeping the faith, and firmly believing, that which showeth thee the wandering and unstableness of thy mind, will be as a shepherd's crook unto thee, and in due time will bring thee back into the fold of rest. And that holy light that dis
* Isa. xxx. 3, 4. xxxii. 18.
covers, and showeth unto thee thy thoughts, and inward enemies, will also, by the brightness of its arising, disperse and destroy them for thee and bring thee into that estate thy soul desireth, panteth, and looketh after, even into the presence of the Lord, where the fulness of joy is, and where the rivers of pleasure run; where the reaping and returning with joy is, where the singing for joy of heart is, and the joy of God's salvation felt: the blessed light of God, or son of righteousness, in whom thou hast believed, is the only way to possess and inherit those things. And thy walking, abiding, and persevering in it, is the means, and there is not any other way or means appointed of God, to bring man back into that paradisical state of felicity he lost by transgression, and to the establishing him in it.
But all that walk not, nor abide and persevere therein after they are come into it, never attain to that blessed end of its appearance and shining to them; for a bare knowledge of the truth, and a profession of the light and spirit of God within, if they walk not in it, and are not guided and lead by it, avails nothing, but rather draws down fierce wrath and vengeance upon the head of such, who know their master's will and do it not, who talk and profess well, but are found doing evil, and thereby lay a stumbling block in the way of the blind, and cause the way of truth to be evil spoken of, and the name of the Lord (by which he hath made himself known in this age) to be blasphemed, by reason of their ungodly deeds under a profession of godliness, and cloak of righteousness; such their damnation slumbereth not.
And this I testify and declare to all people to whom this may come, (which may serve also as a caution and warning to them,) that if they meet with any under the name, form, and profession of a Christian, (in contempt called a Quaker,) who in his converse, trade, and dealing, commerce, and affairs, does not let his yea be yea, and his nay, nay, but breaketh his word and promises, there is need to have a special care of that man, and look upon him as one false and deceitful to the holy principle of truth, and as a hypocrite under the profession of it. He that is false to God, cannot be true to men: thou hadst better trust and give credit to a heathen or infidel, than to such a one. No wickedness beyond that which is acted under a peculiar cloak of religion. Such who gain credit and repute by wearing this cloak, and get widows' and orphans' monies into their hands, to create great trades by sea and land, and then break, are some of the worser sort of robbers and cheats, and the cry of the poor fatherless and widows, cries loud against them. This is a short testimony arising in my heart against this sort of wickedness, wherein I have a little eased my mind, and in the truth remain a friend to all men.
END OF SHEWEN.
Perhaps we cannot fill a few vacant pages more profitably, than with the
following address to the king and parliament of England, written at a very early period of the Society of Friends. It exhibits in a striking point of view, the inflexible integrity, intrepidity, and Christian firmness which characterized those worthy testimony bearers to the truth, and against the impositions of a hireling priesthood. It was personally delivered to the king by M. Fell, in the year 1660.
We who are the people of God called Quakers, who are hated and despised, and every where spoken against, as people not fit to live, as they were that went before us, who were of the same spirit, power, and life, and were as we are, in that they were accounted as the off-scouring of all things, by that spirit and nature that is of the world; and so the scripture is fulfilled, “He that is born of the flesh persecuteth him that is born of the spirit.” We have been a suffering people, under every power and change, and under every profession of religion that hath been, and borne the outward power in the nation these twelve years, since we were a people, and being that, through the old enemy which hath continually appeared against us, not only in the profane people of the nation, but also in the highest profession of sorts and sects of religion, we have suffered under, and been persecuted by them all: some even persecuted and imprisoned till death; others their bodies bruised till death, stigmatized, bored through the tongue, gagged in the mouth, stocked, and whipped through towns and cities; our goods spoiled, our bodies two or three years imprisoned; with much more that might be said, which is well known to the actors thereof. And this done not for the wronging of any man, nor for the breach of any just law of the nation, nor for evil doing, nor desiring any evil, or wishing any hurt to any man, but for conscience sake towards God, because we could not bow to their worship, and because we could not maintain a ministry, which ministry we could not join with nor own. So we look upon it to be unjust to maintain them we receive nothing from, nor cannot trust our souls under their teaching, who “teach for hire, and divine for money,” which the prophets of the Lord cried wo against. And Christ said, a hireling was a thief and a robber, and would fly because he was a hireling. And they are maintained by tithes, contrary to Christ and the apostles' doctrine, who said the priesthood was changed that took tithes, and the law also that gave them, and who witnessed Christ Jesus to be the everlasting offering once for all, who saith, “Such an high-priest hath become us, which is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications, with strong cries and tears, unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared: though he was a son yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered, and being made perfect became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.” And for obedience to him and his commands do we suffer, who hath said, “ Swear not at all.” And he said, “Call no man master upon earth, for ye have one master in heaven.” And who hath said, “How can you believe that seek honour one of another, and not the honour that comes from God only.” And who hath said " Let your yea be yea, and your nay, nay, for whatsoever is more than this, cometh of evil.” And because we cannot respect persons, which is contrary to the apostle's doctrine and practice, who hath said, “Of a truth God is no respecter of persons, but in every nation he that feareth God, and worketh righteousness, is accepted of him.” And the apostle James exhorted his brethren not to have as the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ
with respect of persons, for if you respect persons you commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors. And contrary to this faith and doctrine we are made transgressors by the powers of the earth, because we cannot respect persons, and commit sin, and be made transgressors of the law of God. And this hath been the only ground and cause of our sufferings, because we obeyed the command of Christ, the author of our eternal salvation, and observed the apostles' doctrine and practice; and not for any other cause or end have our sufferings been, but for conscience sake, because we cannot bow to men's wills and worships contrary to the command of Christ Jesus our everlasting priest, king, and prophet, whom we serve with our spirits, and worship in that which the world calls heresy.
And now because that several of you, who are most concerned in this government, are not acquainted with our principles and practices, neither have known our innocency and sufferings, and the old enemy, by whom we have suffered, at this time being ready to incense, and instigate, and infuse secretly into the minds of them who are strangers to us, against whom we have not transgressed, neither do we desire to give any just occasion of offence to these present governors, who yet have not done us much wrong, in making any law against us, that we know of; and we do believe would not, if ye did rightly understand our innocency and integrity, nakedness and singleness in our carriage towards all men upon the face of the earth, and if ye would but examine and search out our carriage and behaviour towards all men's persons, souls, and estates -if these things were searched and examined through the nations, and that no prejudice were let into your minds from others' words, which proceed from secret envy, malice, and hatred, and not from any just ground they have against us, but, as it is, from a contrary spirit and mind, as it was in the Jews against Christ, and in all others against the apostles, so it is the same now against us; but this we commit to the Lord, who will plead our cause, and clear our innocency, who hath said,
Vengeance is mine, and I will repay it.” And now that they know we cannot swear, nor take an oath, for conscience sake, but have suffered because we could not take them-now do the magistrates of several counties of the nation, through the suggestion of the priests' envy, which is inveterate against us, tender us an oath, which they call the oath of allegiance, with several other engagements, what their own wills can invent, on purpose to ensnare us, that upon the denial thereof they may cast us into prison, and have already cast several of us into prison at their own pleasure.
We do therefore declare, to take off all jealousies, fears, and suspicions of our truth and fidelity to the king, and these présent governors, that our intentions and endeavours are and shall be good, true, honest, and peaceable towards them, and that we do love, own, and honour the king and these present governors, so far as they do rule for God and his truth, and do not impose any thing upon people's consciences, but let the gospel have its free passage through the consciences of men, which we do not know that they have, by any law, as yet imposed. And if they grant liberty of conscience towards God and towards man, then we know that God will bless them. For want of which hath been the overthrow of all that went before them. We do not desire any liberty that may justly offend any one's conscience, but the liberty we do desire is, that we may keep our consciences clear and void of offence towards God and towards men, and that we may enjoy our civil rights and liberties of subjects, as freeborn Englishmen. And this we do in the presence of the Lord de
clare, not in flattering titles, but in reality and truth of our hearts, and shall manifest the same. Now, that we may be clear in the presence of the living God, and of all just and moderate men, that they may not have their hands in blood and persecution, as those have had that are gone before, and that they may not be ignorant of us, and of our principles and practice, and so receive information against us from others' envy, which may be contrary to our very principles, and the truth as it is in Jesus; and that we may be free from the blood of all men, and that they may not have a hand in persecuting and oppressing the innocent, whose cause God hath pleaded and will plead; we do therefore inform the governors of this nation, high and low, that we are a people that desire the good of all people, and their peace, and desire that all may be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth, the way, and the life, which is Christ Jesus, the everlasting covenant, which is given for a light to the Gentiles, and to be the salvation to the ends of the earth. And all the nations that are saved must walk in this light of the glorious gospel, which hath shined in our hearts, and given us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. And to this light we direct people's minds, that every one in particular may have a teacher and testimony according to the righteousness of faith, which speaketh on this wise: “ The word is very nigh, in the heart and in the mouth.” And if every one would come to this, there would be a feeling of God's justice and righteousness, and our intents to be just, innocent, and righteous, who hath said, “I will come near to judgment, and be a swift witness against the sorcerer, and adulterer, and false swearer.
Now, if every one would turn to this witness in their own consciences, this would keep them from oppressing and persecuting of others without cause, for God is coming to teach his people himself, by his own light and spirit, who hath said, “ It is written in your law, you shall be all taught of God;" which many of us now do witness; for which cause are we persecuted. The children of the Lord are taught of the Lord, and are established in righteousness, and are far from oppression.
The testimony that we have borne hath been chiefly against the priests, teachers, and professors of these nations, that are out of the life and power; for when it pleased the Lord to reveal his son in us, we saw them to be absolute deceivers of the people, and betrayers of their souls; for they lead them wholly from that of God in them to the letter of the scripture without them, and to their own inventions, and imaginations, and meanings, which they speak who are not taught of God themselves. For, for all their high profession, there is scarce one of them that dares say they have the infallible spirit of God, the same as the apostles had, that gave forth the scripture. The apostle saith, “that which may be known of God is manifested in them, for God shows it unto them." No people can retain God in their knowledge and worship him as God, but first they must come to that of God in them. But these teachers deny this doctrine, and have manifested themselves several ways to all sober-minded people, to be men not fearing God, and are not true to their principles; (for this must appear to all] who have minded them, and seen their carriage and behaviour in all these changes that have been these eight years, which have been many, as may be further manifest, for there have been changes of governments, of parliaments, and protectors, several in these eight years, and all these liave been warned not to uphold these priests contrary to people's consciences, but that every one might have their liberty,—that they that would have them might maintain them, and they that could not receive their doctrines, might not be forced to maintain them. But this would not satisfy their covetous practice, but they went on in the way of cruelty,