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people himself; and every one that will not hear this prophet, which God hath raised up, and which Moses spake of, when he said, ' Like unto me will God raise you up a prophet, him shall you hear;' every one, I say, that will not hear this prophet, is to be cut off.” In his Journal, he says, “From Coventry I went to Atherstone, and it being their lecture day, I was moved to go to their chapel, to speak to the priest and the people. They were generally pretty quiet; only some few raged, and would have had my relations, to have bound me. I declared largely to them, that God was come to teach his people himself, and to bring them from all their man-made teachers, to hear his Son ; and some were convinced there.” This same language, “that God was come to teach his people himself,” Fox used upon more than one occasion. Those very words he addressed to the people at Doncaster; and with those same, we have seen, he so staggered the poor papist, that he fled from his own home with horror, as Fox triumphantly records. We repeat, that we know how, upon occasion, this language was qualified and explained; but this was the language; this was the abrupt, daring, astounding manner in which he was accustomed to address persons, who neither knew his person nor his principles; and such an address sounded, we suspect, to his hearers, quite as blasphemous as the ravings of Muggleton, or any other madman..
But even the real pretensions of Fox, as admitted by his followers, and collected from his own words, understood with his own interpretation, were not a little startling. The foundation of his dissent was, briefly, that the scriptures are not the rule either of conduct or judgment, but “ the light of Christ within man.” The “ light within,” is to the understanding of the million, the misunderstanding million, we suppose Fox would say, at any rate, to all but himself and followers, is reason; and to say, men's conduct and judgment are not to be formed by the scriptures, but by reason, is pure deism. But Fox's words are, “ the light of Christ within ;' and, says Penn, there is the natural light that is, reason—the light of God, and the light of the evil one. Admit it; but how are the world, the uninitiated, to distinguish between them. “ Experience,” says one of themselves, when difference had sprung up, “ hath taught, that imagination sometimes works so powerfully in the mind, that one thinks himself obliged to do a thing which were better left undone.” The Quakers themselves then cannot distinguish between these lights, and have no other rule to decide by, but the conduct and opinions of another, being in agreement with their own conduct and opinions. “ Every man,” said one of them, “ hath the witness in himself,” and must witness to himself, we add ; but what is to witness to the world? what was to satisfy the minds, for instance, of the people of Nottingham, when their minister had just told them, it was the scriptures by which they were to try all doctrines, religions, and opinions; that Fox was justified in rudely interrupting him, and exclaiming, “ Oh no; it is not the scriptures ; it is the holy spirit of God, by which the holy men of God gave forth the scriptures ?”. How were they to distinguish between Fox and Muggleton; between “ the truths” of the one,' and “ the blasphemies” of the other ? and why were they to shut up one from the conversation of men, and leave the other at liberty ? " Oh,” say the Quakers, “every man bath the witness within himself,”-that is to say, the test within himself. Well, then, by this test was Fox tried, and shut up in prison, though not excluded from the conversation of men. This is not our argument, it is their own.
But this “ witness," it appears to us, is not certainly relied on, even by the Quakers themselves. It is time, and not agreement, that is the real test. What do they say to the following, as we quote it, word for word, from the first edition of the Journal, edited by Penn:-“ As I was sitting in a house full of people, declaring the word of life to them, I cast mine eyes upon a woman, and I discerned an unclean spirit in her. And I was moved of the Lord to speak sharply to her; and told her she was u witch: whereupon the woman went out of the room. Now, I being a stranger there, and knowing nothing of the woman outwardly, the people wondered at it; and told me afterwards, I had discovered a great thing, for all the country looked upon her as a witch. The Lord had given me a spirit of discerning, by which I many times saw the states and conditions of people, and could try their spirits. For, not long before, as I was going to a meeting, I saw women in a field, and I discerned them to be witches ; and I was moved to go out of my way into the field to them, and to declare unto them their conditions ; telling them plainly, they were in the spirit of witchcraft. At another time, there came such an one into Swarthmore Hall, in the meeting time; and I was moved to speak sharply to her, and told her, she was a witch; and the people said, afterwards, she was generally accounted so." Now we beg the reader, and it is necessary, if he means to do justice to this “ discernment,” to transport himself back to the age in which Fox lived ; to remember ihat witchcraft was then a statutable offence, as well known, and as certainly punished, as house-breaking, or highway robbery ; and that more than sixty persons are said to have suffered death for it, in one year, in one county. Now we ask, what did the Quakers of the eighteenth century say to this discovery of witches, by the spirit of the Lord? Why, they said nothing, but silently, without one word of note or comment, altered the passage ; which' is thus printed in the last edition : If this be not done in “the spirit of the Lord,” it is in " the spirit of discerning;” of discerning what nonsense the age has outgrown. We request the readers to compare the passages in italics, and mark the omissions. “As I was sitting in a house full of people, declaring the word of life unto them, I cast mine eye upon a woman, and discerned an unclean spirit: in her; I was moved of the Lord to speak sharply to her, and told her, she was under the influence of an unclean spirit ; whereupon the woman went out of the room. I being a stranger there, and knowing nothing of the woman outwardly, the people wondered, and told me afterwards, I had discovered a great thing, for all the country looked upon her to be a wicked person. The Lord had given me a spirit of discerning, by which I many tinies saw the states and conditions of people, and could try their spirits. Not long before, as I was going to a meeting, I saw some women in a field, and discerned an evil spirit in them; and I was moved to go out of my way into the field to them, and declare unto them their conditions. Another time, there came one into Swarthmore Hall, in the meeting time, and I was moved to speak sharply to her, and told her she was under the power of an evil spirit ; and the people said afterwards, she was generally accounted so to be.". These are strange alterations, and we hardly know how to reconcile them with that sincerity, which we are willing and anxious to allow to all men, however widely we may differ from them in opinion.*
* This is an old charge against the Quakers. Thus, in A Trumpet of the Lord, sounded forth of Sion, &c. written by the famous Edward Burroughs, and published in 1656; a trumpet sounded, as he asserted, " By order and authority given unto me, by the Spirit of the living God, the 31st day of the tenth month, 1655, about the fourth hour in the morning.” One blast was addressed to “ Oliver Cromwell and his Council ;” another, “ to the judges ;" a third “ to all astrologers, &c.;" a fourth, '" to all generals, &c.;" and there was a fifth, “ to all you, who are, and have been always, enemies to the very appearance of righteousness, who are called Delinquents and Cavaliers.” Now, it appears this trumpet was not quite so distinct in any of its soundings, in 1672, when the work was reprinted, but this fifth sounding was so especially soft, that it could not be heard, and was wholly omitted in that edition. Now, considering the authority, being no other than “ the Spirit of the living God,” we know not well how to reconcile these things. We know it is the practice, but we are not aware that they claim the power to silence a prophet, or to amend, alter, or apply the positive commands of God, as they assert these things to be. It would certainly have required some nerve to publish this fifth sounding after the Restoration, and some ingenuity to réconcile it with foreknowledge and omnipotence.
But we will confine ourselves, as closely as possible, to some of the opinions and pretensions of Fox, and let the reader judge of his sanity. The foundation of his dissent, as we have shewn, was, that the scriptures are not the rule, either of conduct or judgment, but the light of Christ within men. By this light only, by the same “ divine spirit,” in which they were written, could the scriptures be rightly interpreted. The spirit of the prophets was as much wanting as heretofore; “ none could read John's words aright, but in and with the same divine spirit, by which John spake them ;' none “ could know the words of Christ and of his apostles, without his spirit.” All, indeed, that Fox knew, was by divine inspiration, for he professes to have“ no slight esteem” for the scriptures ; not for what they taught him, but that " what the Lord opened in me, I afterwards found was agreeable to them.” But this is an idle waste of words ; it is proving by circumstances what is capable of direct proof. Pox claimed not only to be inspired, but to be a prophet; and this is asserted not only of him, but of many others of the sect, by the Quakers themselves. Barclay, says the republicans, “evilly intreated the messengers of the Lord, and caused his prophets to be beaten and imprisoned.” “ Being one day,” says Fox, “ in Swarthmore Hall, when Judge Fell and Justice Benson were talking of the news, and of the parliament then sitting, (called the Long Parliament,) I was moved to tell them, Before that day two weeks the parliament should be broken up, and the Speaker plucked out of his chair; and that day two weeks, Justice Benson told Judge Fell, that now he saw George was a true prophet, for Oliver had broken up the parliament.”. In another place he observes, “ When some forward spirits, that came among us, would have bought Somersethouse, that we might have meetings in it, I forbade them to do it; for I then foresaw the king's coming in again.” But, if we put faith in the Quaker historian, one or other of the sect foretold every great event for twenty years :—the breaking up of the long parliament—the Restoration—the Dutch war—the plague
“ Thus saith the Lord, my controversy is against you, even my hand in judgment is upon you already; and you are become cursed in all your hatchings and endeavours, and from time to time my band hath been against you in battle; and you have been and are given up to be a prey to your enemies, &c. &c.; therefore, I rose in my fury against you, and will have war with all your followers, herein, for ever, &c. &c. And though your kings and princes have been cut off in wrath, &c. &c., you will not see, how you are given up to be a curse and a desolation, and a prey, in houses and lands, and persons, to those whom I raised against you, and gave power over you, &c." .
in Cromwell's timers, no sure was well as other pro re
and the great fire, inclusive. But, unfortunately, their foreknowledge was of no service, either to themselves or others. In Cromwell's time, they spoke of the republicans as almost as bad as the cavaliers, no sure way of conciliating the latter; of the plague, the prophets died as well as other people; and from the fire, they had not the common prudence to remove their property; although one of them, named Ibbit, came expressly, and in haste, from Huntingdonshire, having delayed to announce it, “ until he felt," as he expressed it, “ the fire in his own bosom ;" he then “began to scatter his money up and down the streets, turn his horse loose, untie the knees of his breeches, [we suppose, prophets, like
“ Cannon, shoot the higher pitches, The lower they let down their breeches.")
to let his stockings fall down, and to unbutton his doublet, (to cool the fire in his bosom, we presume,] and went all over the city denouncing the judgment against the people. So should they run up and down, scattering their money and goods, half undressed, like mad people, as he was a sign to them,”—and “ the very first day of the following week it was fearfully proved true.” If this were any thing but nonsense, any thing but the casual and accidental concurrence of circumstance, which will, surely, make a true prophet of some one out of a hundred daily and hourly prophecying, we think the government should have had an eye to the Quakers rather than the papists, and the Monument have been surmounted with a hat and brim of Quaker dimensions, rather than disfigured with its prosy and lying inscription. This same Ibbit, when the fire had reached Cheapside, placed himself before the flames, and spread his arms forth to stop its progress; but his friends removed him thence, or, says the historian, “he must have perished.” This latter, they say, was madness, proceeding from spiritual pride at the fulfilment of his prediction. It was madness, and so was the prediction itself.
Another of the bewildering doctrines of Fox was the perfectibility of man. As explained by Penn, they teach “perfection from sin,” but not “a perfection in wisdom and glory in this life, or from natural infirmities or death, as some have with a weak or ill mind imagined and insinuated against them” -a weak or ill mind indeed, that would add fresh burthens to the heavily laden, and make George Fox responsible for nonsense he never taught. But let us quote his own words on this subject.--" Now was I come up in spirit, through the flaming sword, into the paradise of God. All things were new, and all the creation gave another smell unto me than before, beyond