« AnteriorContinuar »
him utterance, he would have said, without any attempt at effect or beauty of diction.
He does not appear to have been learned in other books than the Bible, though he is evidently not wholly unacquainted with some commentaries.
He makes no appeal to the emotions, nor does he, in relating the cruel persecutions of himself or his followers, make any endeavour to over-excite the sympathies of his readers. He is rarely, if ever, fanatical.
His remonstrances to Oliver Cromwell for his persecution of the Quakers, and his admonitions of Charles II. on his restoration, are eloquent and dignified.
He is deficient in imagination and poetry. Stern, bare facts are his province, and he lays them before the reader with absolute impartiality. Of much the same religious opinions as John Bunyan, he differs widely from him, looking upon life with the eye of a moralist, and not of a poet. There are no flowers of imagination in his writings. He is no genius, no great writer. A plain earnest man, thinking only of his mission and never of himself, he tells us the story of his life in plain earnest words, without self-consciousness and without effort.
He is a man of sound common sense, great readiness of wit and undaunted courage. He, here and there, displays a certain grim humour and occasionally a touch of pathos. The main charms of his journal seem to consist in its sincerity and truthful
George Fox's style is emphatically the right sort for his matter. The interest of the reader is sustained but never inflamed. He carries conviction and arouses our sympathies by his unaffectedness and simplicity.
A. I. FITZROY.
A SENSE OF THE BLOOD OF MARTYRS
AND as I was walking along with several friends, I lifted up my head, and I saw three steeple-house spires, and they struck at my life; and I asked friends what place that was, and they said Lichfield ; immediately the word of the Lord came to me, that I must go thither. So being come to the house we were going to, I wished friends that were with me to walk into the house, saying nothing to them whither I was to go; and as soon as they were gone, I stepped away, and went by my eye over hedge and ditch, till I came within a mile of Lichfield, where, in a great field, there were shepherds keeping their sheep. Then I was commanded by the Lord to pull off my shoes; and I stood still (for it was winter); and the word of the Lord was like a fire in me. So I put off my shoes, and left them with the shepherds, and the poor shepherds trembled and were astonished. Then I walked on about a mile till I came into the city, and as soon as I was got within the city, the word of the Lord came to me again, saying, Cry, Woe unto the bloody city of Lichfield.” So I went up and down the streets, crying with a loud voice, “Woe to the bloody city of Lichfield !” And it being market day, I went into the market place, and to and fro in the several parts of it and made stands, crying as before, “Woe to the bloody city of Lichfield ! ” And no one laid hands on me; but as I went thus crying through the streets, there seemed to me to be a channel of blood running down the streets, and the market place appeared like a pool of blood. Now when I had declared what was upon me, and felt myself clear, I went out of the town in peace, and returning to the shepherds, gave them some money, and took my shoes of them again. But the fire of the Lord was so in my feet, and all over me, that I did not matter to put on my shoes any more, and was at a stand whether I should or no, till I felt freedom from the Lord so to do; and then, after I had washed my feet, I put on my shoes again. After this a deep consideration came upon me, why, or for what reason, I should be sent to cry against that city, and call it the bloody city. For though the parliament had the minster one while and the king another while, and much blood had been shed in the town during the wars between them, yet that was no more than had befallen many other places. But afterwards I came to understand that in the emperor Diocletian's time, a thousand Christians were martyred in Lichfield. So I was to go, without my shoes, through the channel of their blood, and into the pool of their blood in the market place, that I might raise up the memorial of the blood of those martyrs which had been shed above a thousand years before, and lay cold in their streets. So the sense of this blood was upon me, and I obeyed the word of the Lord. Ancient records testify how many of the Christian Britons suffered there ; and much I could write of the sense I had of the blood of the martyrs that hath been shed in this nation, for the name of Christ, both under the ten persecutions and since ; but I leave it to the Lord, and to His book, out of which all shall be judged; for His book is a most certain, true record, and His spirit a true recorder.
(From the Journal.)
A YOUTHFUL MARTYR
WHILST I was in the dungeon at Carlisle, one James Parnel, a little lad of about sixteen years of age came to see me, and was convinced ; and the Lord quickly made him a powerful minister of the word of life, and many were turned to Christ by him ; though he lived not long ; for travelling into Essex, in the work of the ministry, in the year 1655, he was committed to Colchester castle, where he endured very great hardships and sufferings, being put by the cruel jailor into a hole in the castle wall, called the oven, so high from the ground, that he went up to it by a ladder ; which being six feet too short, he was fain to climb from the ladder to the hole by a rope that was fastened above. And when friends would have given him a cord and a basket, to have drawn up his victuals in, the inhuman jailor would not suffer them, but forced him to go down and up by that short ladder and rope, to fetch his victuals (which for a long time he did) or else he might have famished in the hole. At length, his limbs being much benumbed with lying in that place, yet being constrained to go down to take up some victuals, as he came up the ladder again with his victuals in one hand, and catched at the rope with the other, he missed the rope, and fell down from a very great height upon the stones; by which fall he was exceedingly wounded in his head and arms, and his body much bruised ; and he died in a short time after. And when he was dead, the wicked professors, to cover their own cruelty, writ a book of him, and said he fasted himself to death ; which was an abominable falsehood, and was manifested so to be by another book, which was written in answer to that, and was called “The Lamb's Defence against Lies.”
(From the Same.)
A MAN OF A TENDER CONSCIENCE
I WAS brought before judge Twisden on the 14th day of the month called March, in the latter end of the year 1663. When I was set up to the bar, I said, Peace be amongst you all. The judge looked upon me, and said, What, do you come into the court with your hat on ! Upon which words the jailor taking it off, I said, The hat is not the honour that comes from God. Then said the judge to me, Will you take the oath of allegiance, George Fox? I said, I never took any oath in my life, nor any covenant or engagement. Well, said he, will you swear or no ? I answered, I am Christian, and Christ commands me not to swear, and so does the apostle James likewise ; and whether I should obey God or man, do thou judge. I ask you again, said he, whether you will swear or no ? I answered again, I am neither Turk, Jew, nor heathen, but a Christian, and should shew forth Christianity. And I asked him, if he did not know that Christians in the primitive times under the ten persecutions, and some also of the martyrs in queen Mary's days refused swearing, because Christ and the apostle had forbidden it. I told him also, they had had experience enough, how many men had first sworn for the king and then against the king ; but as for me, I had never taken an oath in all my life ; and my allegiance did not lie in swearing, but in truth and faithfulness, for I honour all men, much more the king. But Christ, who is the great prophet, who is the King of kings, who is the Saviour of the world, and the great judge of the whole world, he saith I must not swear ; now, whether must I obey, Christ or thee? For it is in tenderness of conscience, and in obedience to the commands of Christ, that I do not swear; and we have the word of a king for tender consciences. Then I asked the judge if he did own the king. Yes, said he, I do own the king. Why then, said I, dost thou not observe his declaration from Breda, and his promises made since he came into England, that no man should be called in question for matters of religion, so long as they lived peaceably. Now if thou ownest the king, said I, why dost thou call me into question, and put me upon taking an oath, which is a matter of religion, seeing thou nor none else can charge me with unpeaceable living. Then he was moved, and looking angrily at me, said, Sirrah, will you swear.
I told him, I was none of his sirrahs, I was a Christian ; and for him, that was an old man and a judge, to sit there and give nick-names to prisoners, it did not become either his gray hairs or his office. Well, said he, I am a Christian too. Then do Christians' works, said I. Sirrah, said he, thou thinkest to frighten me with thy words. Then catching himself and looking aside, he said, Hark! I am using the word (sirrah) again, and so checked himself. I said, I spake to thee in love, for that language did not become thee, a judge ; thou oughtest to instruct a prisoner in the law, if he were ignorant and out of the way. And I speak in love to thee too, said he. But, said I, love gives no nicknames. Then he roused himself up and said, I will not be afraid of thee, George Fox ; thou speakest so loud thy voice drowns mine and the court's, I must call for three or four criers to drown thy voice; thou hast good lungs. I am a prisoner here, said I, for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake ; for his sake do I suffer, and for him do I stand this day; and if my voice were five times louder yet I should lift it up, and sound it out for Christ's sake, for whose cause I stand this day before your judgment seat, in obedience to Christ, who commands not to swear, before whose judgment seat you must all be brought, and must give an account. Well, said the judge, George Fox, say whether thou wilt take the oath, yea or nay? I replied, I say as I said before, whether ought I to obey God or man, judge thou? If I could take any oath at all, I should take this; for I do not deny some oaths only, or on some occasion, but all oaths, according to Christ's doctrine, who hath commanded his not to swear at all. Now if thou or any of you, or any of your ministers or priests here, will prove that ever Christ or his apostles after they had forbidden all