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ally upon the king to solicit his indulgence and protection for them; at her first admission she signified to him, they were an innocent, peaceable people, who did no injury, and administered no occasion of offence, except in keeping up their religious meetings, for no other purpose than worshipping God in that way they were persuaded was most acceptable to him, and edifying one another in his fear; which being to them a conscientious matter of duty to God, they could not violate it, in compliance with the ordinances or laws of man, whatever they suffered." In consequence of her applications and the declaration above-mentioned, the king sent out a proclamation, "forbidding soldiers to search any house without a constable." At length he was prevailed upon to issue out a declaration, ordering "the Quakers to be set at liberty without paying the fees *." Burrough, Hubberthorn, and Whitehead, among others, were active advocates for their suffering brethren. They attended parliament to solicit against the bill, brought in in 1661, passing into an act. Burrough presented to the king and council in the same year a paper, entitled, "A just and right Plea," representing their sentiments respecting oaths, and their established religious principle, "to enter into no plots, combinations, or rebellion against government; nor to seek deliverance from injustice or oppression by any such means." In this he was seconded by Hubberthorn and Whitehead, who with ability and spirit entered into a vindication of the religious meetings of their society +. Two letters, about this time, were addressed to the king, remonstrating on the countenance given to profane shows and sports, and the encouragement afforded to prosecutors, and boldly reproving his majesty for his personal conduct. The one was written by George Fox the elder, so called for distinction, as the elder brother of the society, the other was drawn up by George Fox the younger. They afford a specimen, as the historian observes, "of the honest plain dealing of men, who, with Elihu, knew not to flatter, lest in so doing their Maker should take them away." When the last of the two letters was delivered to the king, he seemed considerably affected with the contents. His brother, the duke of York, whose temper was more gloomy, reserved, and vindictive, being greatly exasperated with the writer, advised the king to punish him; but, with much propriety, he replied, "It were better for us to mend our lives. These epistles of the Foxes, however, left no permanent impression on the royal mind. In the year 1662, the universal rage against the peaceable society of the Quakers left them unmolested in few or no parts of the nation. On this George Fox again addressed the king on behalf of the suffering friends, and stated, that since his restoration three thousand and sixty-eight had been imprisoned, and a narrative signed by twelve witnesses was printed, which repre

*Gough, vol. 1. p. 455, 456.


Ibid. p. 500–505. ↑ Ibid. p. 510. 5.13,

sented that the number of men and women then in prison amounted to upwards of four thousand and two hundred. Humanity revolts at the circumstances of cruelty with which the members of this society were treated at this time; when their meetings were broken up by men with clubs, they themselves were thrown into the water, and trampled under foot till the blood gushed out. Among other endeavours that George Fox used to remove suspicion and soften enmity, was a paper which he wrote in 1663, as a testimony against all plots and conspiracies whatever; to admonish his friends to circumspection in their words and actions, and not to meddle in any civil commotions: copies of which he dispersed through the northern counties, and sent one to the king and council+.

Others of this society, besides George Fox, took up their pens in the cause of their innocent and oppressed brethren. When the conventicle-act was passed in 1664, George Whitehead published a piece to expose the severity of the persecutors, to exculpate his friends from the charge of obstinacy, to strengthen their steadfastness, and to remonstrate on the unequal and arbitrary manner in which the judges enforced the act. Another remonstrance was also published about the same time, by Josiah Coale, against persecution, addressed to the king and both houses of parliament.

In the year 1666 the cause of the Quakers began to derive great support and credit from the abilities and virtues of the celebrated William Penn, who in that year joined their society, and became one of its most eminent advocates and ornaments. His pen was soon employed in its defence. His first piece was entitled, "The Sandy Foundation shaken." This gave great offence to some powerful ecclesiastics, and it was answered by an accustomed mode of reply, namely, an order for imprisoning him. He was closely confined seven months in the Tower, and denied the visits of his friends. This precluded him from his ministerial labours: but several treatises were the fruits of his solitude, particularly one of great note, entitled, "No Cross, no Crown;" in which, Dr. Henry More observed, "Mr. Penn has treated the subject of a future life and the immortality of the soul, with a force and spirit equal to most writers §."

The first of the above pieces was occasioned by a particular circumstance, which called on the Quakers to vindicate themselves in a public disputation. Mr. Thomas Vincent, a Presbyterian minister of eminent piety, and who distinguished himself by his ministerial labours in the time of the plague, but whose zeal in this instance misled him, had, on two of his hearers going to the Quakers' meetings, indulged himself in invectives from the pulpit against that people, and in a licence of expression beyond + Ibid. vol. 2. p. 25.

* Gough, vol 1. p. 538.

Ibid. vol. 2. p. 115.

§ British Biography, vol. 7. p. 138.

the bounds of Christian moderation and common decency. This reaching the ears of some of those at whom they were cast, they demanded of him a public meeting to vindicate themselves from his severe reflections, or to give him an opportunity to support them by proof, to which, after some demur, Mr. Vincent agreed. Before the hour appointed the house was filled with his own hearers and partisans; and he was accompanied by three other Presbyterian ministers, as his assistants; Mr. Thomas Dawson, Mr. Thomas Doolittle, and Mr. William Maddocks. George Whitehead and William Penn, on the side of their friends, attended to his charges against the Quakers. Instead of bringing them forward, Mr. Vincent opened the conference with this question, "Whether they owned one Godhead in three distinct and separate persons?" He framed on this, according to the mode of argumentation then in use, a syllogism. George Whitehead rejected his terms as unscriptural, and not deducible from the text he quoted, and desired him to explain them so that they might be understood; observing, "that God did not use to wrap his truths in heathenish metaphysics, but deliver them in plain language." But Mr. Vincent and his coadjutors would neither keep to Scripture terms, nor allow them in their antagonists. After many insults offered to the Quakers, and opprobrious names cast upon them, the meeting was broken up by a prayer from Mr. Vincent, in which these people were accused as blasphemers. Some people staying, after he and his brethren withdrew, the Quakers found an opportunity of exculpating themselves from the invectives of their adversaries. Another debate was desired, but evaded. On this Penn appealed to the public*.

It falls within the period of which we are writing, to notice the remarks on the third conventicle act, which George Fox, being in London at the time, published in 1670, in order, if possible, to move the government to moderation. Apprehending an impending storm, he wrote also, at the same time, an epistle to his friends, to exhort them to faithfulness and steadfastness in their testimony to the truth, and to Christian patience, in bearing the sufferings which might be permitted to try their faith +.

Under a successive train of severe trials, this people maintained patience, resignation, and a blameless demeanour: and, with the powers of the world against them, their numbers were continually increasing. In the year 1666 they were become a large body. This gave them courage and resolution to erect in that year a new meeting-house in Whitehart-court, Gracechurchstreet, which, from its central situation, became afterward the place for their yearly meetings ‡.

The affairs of this society began now to range into a regular

• Gough, vol. 2. p. 226–228.

+ Ibid. p. 318.

Ibid. p. 157.

and systematic form. George Fox, as soon as he was released from his long confinement, proceeded as usual in his labours; and when he was so weak and stiff, and benumbed in his joints, by a cruel imprisonment for the greatest part of three years, that it was with difficulty he could mount his horse or alight, he went from Yorkshire to London. He saw it necessary to increase the number of meetings of discipline, as the exigencies and the numbers of the society were increased. In 1660, a general meeting for church affairs had been held at Skipton, in Yorkshire. The business of it was confined to the taking an account of their sufferings, and to collections for the relief of the poor. Quarterly meetings were afterwards established in London, which, in addition to the former subjects of attention, had the charge of the reputation of the society, to watch over the members, and admonish and exhort such as might appear disorderly and uncircumspect in their conversation, not agreeable to the strictness of their religious profession; besides the women's meetings, which had chiefly the care of poor widows and orphans. During George Fox's stay in London, there were established, at his recommendation, five monthly meetings of men and women in that city, to transact the business which had before employed the quarterly meetings; and a general meeting once in three months, as hitherto, for mutual counsel, advice, and deliberation, in relation to the common affairs and care of the whole body in the city. He afterward procured his plan of monthly meetings to be adopted through all the counties, in Scotland, Ireland, Holland, and the continent of America. The business of the monthly meetings was, at his advice and admonition, after this, extended to the taking cognizance of the orderly proceedings towards marriage, to see "that the parties who proposed marriage were clear from other engagements, that their relations were satisfied, that widows had made provision for their first husbands' children before they married again, and to institute whatever other inquiries were necessary for keeping all things clean and pure, in good order and righteousness, to the glory of God."

Some time after monthly and quarterly meetings were established, viz. in the year 1669, it was found expedient, and agreed upon, to hold a general meeting in London, representative of the whole body in England, and all other parts where any of the society were settled; which has, from that time, been held annually, and is called "The Yearly Meeting in London.". It is formed of deputies from each quarterly meeting in England, and from the half years' meetings in Ireland, without restraining from an attendance any member in unity with the society. Such places in Europe and America as are too remote conveniently to send representatives, keep up a correspondence with this meeting by epistles. A committee of correspondence in London and several counties and other places, to be consulted in the intervals between the yearly meetings, upon any emergency, was also established

The members appointed correspondents in London, to meet the sixth day in every week, to consult upon such matters as may be laid before them, particularly any suffering cases of friends, from whence it is called "The Meeting for Sufferings," and is a meeting of record.

From the meetings of discipline no members of the society are excluded. A regular record of all their proceedings is kept by a clerk, who, at the desire of the meeting, voluntarily undertakes the office. The business of these meetings is preceded by a solemn meeting of worship. An inquiry whether meetings for discipline and worship are duly attended, the preservation of love and unity, the religious education of youth, are some of the leading objects of these associations. Inquiries are also made, whether a faithful and Christian testimony is borne against the receiving or paying tithes, priests' demands, or those called churchrates? Whether friends are careful to avoid all vain sports, places of diversion, gaming, and all unnecessary frequenting of ale-houses or taverns, excess in drinking, and intemperance of every kind? Whether friends are just in their dealings, and punctual in fulfilling their engagements, and are advised carefully to inspect the state of their affairs once in the year? Whether early care be taken to advise and deal with such as appear inclinable to marry contrary to the rules of the society; and whether any remove from or into monthly or two weekly meetings without certificates? And whether two or more faithful friends are deputed in each particular meeting to have the oversight thereof: and care be taken, when any thing appears amiss, that the rules of their discipline be put in practice?

This sketch of the discipline and ecclesiastical government of this society cannot fail to give us a favourable idea of the spirit and principles which actuate it. It is recommended by the method and regularity which mark it: and it is a great excellence of it, that it is directed to the encouragement and promotion of good morals, of a peaceable, upright, and blameless conduct in social life. For a more full and accurate view of its nature and design, the reader may be referred to a long and judicious disquisition on it in Mr. Gough's history*: which, when he has perused, he will determine for himself whether it may not be justly extolled, as "bearing marks of a peculiar wisdom in the contrivance and goodness of heart in the ends in view, realized in the beneficial effects it then had, and hath since continued to produce."

The Quakers, besides supporting a series of sufferings with patience and fortitude, disseminating their principles through England, Wales, and Scotland, with unabating zeal, and forming their society upon a regular plan of government, traversed the Atlantic ocean, carried their sentiments into America, and esta

⚫ Gough, vol. 2. p. 161-198.

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