Dear Friends,—All that feel the life, and power, and spirit of the living God [2 Cor 3:3], who are made alive by Christ Jesus [1 Cor 15:22], the living, heavenly, and spiritual man [1 Cor 15:47]; and so are come to feed upon the heavenly and spiritual things, which Christ your shepherd directs you to, according to your capacity, age, and growth; and so to know him that God has sent to feed you, above all the feeders that men have sent. Therefore, look unto him, who with his net, (which is his power,) hath gathered you out of this great sea [Mat 13:47], the world. And now, do not build like the fools upon the sand of the sea-shore; but upon the rock and foundation, which is Christ the life, that will stand over death, tempests, winds, and storms [Mat 7:24-27]; and so looking unto Jesus, that is your saviour, that has saved you out of the flood of destruction, who is the author of your faith [Heb 12:2]; by which faith you may walk upon the world's sea [Mat 14:25-32], looking unto him that will finish it; and so in truth you can say, faith is your victory [1 Jn 5:4]; this is your victory, even your faith, that Jesus has been the author of, the heavenly and spiritual man. And faith comes by hearing of the word [Rom 10:17], by which all things were made and created [John 1:3], and by which all things are upheld [Heb 1:3], which lives, and abides, and endures for ever [1 Pet 1:23]; which word was in the beginning with God [John 1:1], and God was the word; which word became flesh, and dwelt among us, who beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten son of God [John 1:14], who is risen, whom you come now to hear and see, and not only so, but come to be made partakers of his glory [1 Pet 5:1], and of his resurrection from the dead. So blessed are they, and you, that come to have part in the first resurrection, that on you the second death may have no power [Rev 20:6]; and such as do, they know a dying to sin [Rom 6:10] here, and putting off the body of sin [Col 2:11] and death [Rom 7:24], and a crucifying the old man [Rom 6:6], with his affections and lusts [Gal 5:24]; and a putting him off [Eph 4:22, Col 3:9], and to be dead from the rudiments of the world [Col 2:8.20]: and so they that ‘die with Christ, shall live with him [Rom 6:8];’ and they that are risen with Christ [Col 3:1], can never touch, taste, nor handle [Col 2:21] the doctrines, commandments, and dead rudiments of men of the world [Col 2:22,20]. But let such put on the new man, which (after the image of God) is created in righteousness and holiness [Eph 4:24/Col 3:10]; and <77> such come to live in Christ [2 Tim 3:12], and walk in him [Col 2:6], and have their part or lot in the first resurrection, in Christ Jesus, and the second death hath no power over them: but they live in him, that hath power over death, hell, and the grave, (and over the devil, and the power of death,) Christ Jesus, who was before he was, the first and last. But they that will not believe in Christ the resurrection and the life [John 11:25], are for condemnation with the devil, hell, and death, which are to be cast into the lake of fire; and over such the second death hath power [Rev 20:14f]. And therefore, all that come out of death, and partake of the first resurrection, and know that they have been dead in sins and trespasses, and are quickened by Christ Jesus [Eph 2:1], and know a living here in Christ, and a dying here with Christ, while upon the earth, (for John spake it whilst he was upon the earth,) the ‘second death shall have no power over them [Rev 20:6];’ and they that do not, the second death hath power over them, which (as I said before) must be cast into the lake of fire, that burns with brimstone [Rev 20:14]; and such have not the blessing, (as they in the first resurrection,) but the curse, wo, and misery. And therefore all you who are the first-fruits to God [Rev 14:4], in the resurrection by Jesus Christ, and who know him, the resurrection and the life, and are translated from darkness to light, and into the kingdom of his dear son [Col 1:13/Acts 26:18], that stands in righteousness and holiness, and joy in the holy ghost [Rom 14:17]; that you may show forth righteous and holy fruits, so that you may glorify God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; and may be as lights to the dark world [Mat 5:14], and salt to season the unsavoury [Mat 5:13]. For every sacrifice, which was offered up to God, was to be seasoned with salt [Lev 2:13]; so every sacrifice now that is to be offered up to God, must be seasoned, and made savoury with this heavenly salt of his heavenly spirit, so that all may give a good savour to him, and be as a sweet smelling sacrifice to the pure holy God, that made all to his glory. And you cannot bring forth this holy, righteous, and pure fruit unto God, but as you abide in Christ Jesus, the truth, who did descend and ascend far above [Eph 4:10] all principalities, thrones, and dominions [Col 1:16], that he might have the pre-eminence above all [Col 1:18], and that ye in him might live above all unto God. And so every one of you that has received Christ Jesus the Lord over all, in him (who is your Lord) walk, who is the amen [Rev 3:14]; and there all the living can praise God together; and the living gather in the name of Jesus [Mat 18:20], the name of him who was dead, and is alive again, and lives for evermore [Rev 1:18], who is the first and last [Rev 1:17, 22:13]. And here you all know, that there is no salvation in any other name under the whole heaven, but in the name of Jesus [Acts 4:12]; who is a priest made higher than the heavens [Heb 7:26]. So in his name keep your meetings, in whom you have salvation; and these are the true meetings, and true gatherings, who feel Jesus Christ in the midst of them [Mat 18:20], their prophet, their counsellor, their leader, their light and life [John 1:4], their way and their truth [John 14:6], their shepherd, that laid down <78> his life for them [John 10:15], that has bought you, his sheep, who feeds you in his pastures of life [Ezek 34:14]; and your heavenly bishop, to oversee you, that you do not go astray again from God [1 Pet 2:25]. And so it is through him you overcome, and he that overcomes shall go no more forth out of his fold, out of his pastures, who shall sit down in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus [Eph 2:6], who is your priest, that offered up himself for you [Heb 7:27], and sacrifices for you, and makes you holy and clean, that he may present you blameless [Col 1:22] up to the holy and pure God; and here you come to witness and know him in his offices, by his light, spirit, and power; and all your men's and women's meetings, in the power of God, which was before the devil and his power was, in the holy order of the gospel keep them, you being heirs of the everlasting gospel [Rev 14:6], the everlasting power [1 Tim 6:16] of God, that will last for ever; a joyful gospel, a joyful order, a comfortable gospel, so a comfortable order, a glorious gospel [2 Cor 4:4, 1 Tim 1:11], and glorious order. So in this everlasting gospel, the power of God, [Rom 1:16] in which you have everlasting fellowship and dominion over all sin and wickedness, unrighteousness, unholiness, and all that is bad whatsoever, you have dominion over, in the gospel, the power of God, yea, over the devil. And this gospel may every one testify unto, and to the order of it, that it is not of man, nor by man, neither is it received but by the revelation of Jesus Christ [Gal 1:12], sent down from heaven [1 Pet 1:12], which all the believers, that have part in the first resurrection, live, walk, and keep in the order of this gospel; and so have power to admonish, exhort, reprove, and rebuke, with all authority [Tit 2:15], such as talk of Christ, and do not walk in him; such as profess him, and do not possess him; such as live not in the religion that was set up above sixteen hundred years since; such as profess Christ the way, and walk not in the way, the truth, and the life [John 14:6], all such talkers, and not walkers, are dishonourers of God [Rom 2:23], and cause his holy name to be blasphemed among such as make no profession [Rom 2:24]. And therefore, all Friends that know that you are alive to God, by Jesus Christ, and know your translation [Col 1:13] from death to Christ the life [John 5:24], and from darkness to Christ the light [Acts 26:18]; so that you may all come now to be helps-meet [Gen 2:18] in your restoration by Christ Jesus, into the image of God [Col 3:10], and his righteousness and holiness, that man and woman were in before they fell [Eph 4:24]: for before they fell they were meet-helps to subdue the earth, they had both power over all that God made [Gen 1:28], while they kept in the image of God [Gen 1:27], and his righteousness and holiness; and so all that God made was blest and good to them; and so none can renew up into the righteousness and image of God, but Christ Jesus. And therefore, I say, in him live and walk, and keep his gospel-fellowship and order; so that men and women may be meet-helps, in the distinct men and women's meetings, one unto another in the gospel, the power of God, in the restoration, as man and woman was in before they fell: so if the men have any <79> thing to communicate unto the women, or the women any thing to the men, in the righteousness, and wisdom, and power of God, in the gospel order, in which the heavenly fellowship, unity, and order are kept, they may, as brethren and sisters. So here is the foundation of our meetings; and our men and women's meetings are testified unto by the spirit of the everlasting God, that the foundation of them is Christ, of the increase of his righteous, glorious, and spiritual government and peace there is no end [Isa 6:7]; nor of the glorious, everlasting, heavenly unity and order of his heavenly gospel, which the spiritual and heavenly minds keep and walk in accordingly, which is not of man, nor by man; so man has no glory, but God and Christ alone, who is almighty, omnipotent, immortal, everlasting, and eternal, and dwells in the light, blessed for ever, the inexpressible God.
And so all keep the unity of his eternal spirit, which is the eternal bond of your heavenly and eternal peace [Eph 4:3], of your King of kings, Lord of lords [Rev 19:16], and Prince of princes' peace [Dan 8:25], Amen. . . .
G. F. Top
Swarthmore, the 10th month, 1675.
Friends and brethren,—It lies upon me from the Lord to write unto you these following lines. First, I was sent out by the Lord God, in his eternal light and power, to preach the word of life [1 Jn 1:1], which was before the word of death, and to turn people to the light [Acts 26:18], which was before darkness and the power of it, that all might be reconciled to God, by the word [2 Cor 5:19]; and that all might believe in the light, which is the life in Christ the word, and so become children of the light [John 12:36] , and to know Christ the author of their faith; and their faith to stand in him, who is the author and finisher of it [Heb 12:2]; and to turn people to the spirit, which they had quenched, vexed, and grieved, and rebelled against [1 Th 5:19/Eph 4:30/Isa 63:10]; that in that holy spirit, they might see before the spirit of error [1 Jn 4:6] was; and that in the spirit they may know God and Christ, and the scriptures, which were given forth from it [2 Tim 3:16]; and that in the same spirit, they might all have fellowship one with another [1 Jn 1:7], and with the Father and son [1 Jn 1:3]; and so to preach the everlasting gospel [Rev 14:6], the power of God [Rom 1:16], (which was before <80> the devil was,) that brings life and immortality to light [2 Tim 1:10], in all that do receive it, that they might see over him that had darkened them. Which gospel I received not of man, nor by man, but of the Lord Jesus Christ [Gal 1:12], by his holy spirit sent down from heaven [1 Pet 1:12]. And so after I had received this, and preached it, and many thousands were come into it, in several places of the nation, then by the same power, and spirit, and light, I was moved to advise, to the setting up the men's Monthly and Quarterly Meetings, and the women's meetings. So that all in the power of God, the gospel, which was before the devil was; and in the light, which was before darkness was, and all in the holy spirit, before the unholy spirit was. That they might be all in their possessions of the light, spirit, and power of God; and therein to keep this heavenly order of the gospel, being heirs of Christ, and of his government; of the increase of which there is no end [Isa 9:7]. Which gospel order is over all the orders of Adam in the fall, or amongst the apostates from that gospel the apostles were in, and will stand, (the power of God, the gospel,) when they are gone. So that all the heirs of life and grace [1 Pet 3:7], and heirs of the gospel, might be in their possession, and keep in the power which was before the fall was; and into this no apostacy can come. So here in this power of the gospel, all have their liberty, and all have unity, and all have liberty in the spirit [2 Cor 3:17], and unity in the light, and unity in the faith [Eph 4:13], that Jesus Christ is the author of. So that all may see him and his government, which is over the government of Adam in the fall; for he was before old Adam was, and will be when he is gone. And so that all might be in the possession of Christ, and as they have received him, so to walk in him [Col 2:6], the heavenly and spiritual man [1 Cor 15:47]; of the increase of whose government there is no end; but there will be an end of old Adam's.
Now, friends, whosoever shall come, under what pretence soever, to alter these meetings, or to deny or speak against the men and women's meetings, it is the spirit of confusion and opposition, which would be seeming to do something, yet its work is to disquiet the simple minds; and it is the very same spirit with John Perrot's; and mark his end, and their end, and such as join with it. For it is against the power of God, in which the order is established, and the eternal spirit and light, in which the men and women's meetings were set up; in which all things should be established, and are fastened, in the light which was before darkness was, and in the power of God, before the devil was, and in the holy spirit, before the unclean spirit was, and will stand when he is gone. Therefore, in it keep your possessions in the power of God, and in his light and spirit, that you may know the mountain of the Lord established above all mountains [Isa 2:2]. And they are none but loose spirits, and such as tend to looseness, that stand against the men and women's <81> meetings, though it may come under pretence to set up a better way; or, under pretence only to alter them to another day; and, it may be, pretend their fear of the corruption of observing a day [Gal 4:10]. All this is but from a corrupt spirit of darkness, which God will blast; for we put no holiness in the usual and constant days of Monthly and Quarterly Meetings. For I would have them all to know, that they who are heirs of the gospel, and of Christ Jesus, are redeemed out of the vain observation of days, and out of the Jewish and apostate christians' holy days, to God by Christ, who made all days, and every thing good, and their eyes are to the supernatural day of Christ [Phil 1:10]; and they are the children of this day [1 Th 5:5].
And that is a creeping spirit, that would go to alter the usual and constant meeting days, under pretence to prevent people from the corruptions of observing a constant day, or under a pretence of keeping people out of a form, and so would father their deceit upon God. For they who are in the possession of the power, by which all true forms and all things are upheld [Heb 1:3], (which word and power gives form and being to all things,) and all they that are in it, are above all such things, and judge all such dark spirits. And they that are in the observation of days, are not heirs of the power, nor of Christ, who was before days were, and such cannot sit in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus [Eph 2:6], to do his churches' business. So, I say, that after people were turned to the light [Acts 26:18], power, and spirit of God; and they all come into the light, power, and spirit of God; all such are to make up the men and women's meetings; and in it to feel the wisdom of God, by which all things were made and created [Wis 7:22], and with it to be ordered, and to order all things [Wis 8:1] to God's glory [1 Cor 10:31]: so that wisdom may be justified of her children [Mat 11:19]. . . .
<82> . . . . So as Friends come to truth, which the devil is out of [John 8;44], and to the power of God, which was before the devil was; all being heirs of life, and the gospel, and heirs of Christ; I say, take your possession of life, and come into the order of life, and into the order of the gospel, and then you will have a witness in yourselves, and will say with me, our order is not of man, nor by man, but by Jesus Christ, and his gospel [Gal 1:12]; and of his government, of the increase of which there is no end [Isa 9:7]. And so all be faithful, keeping in your possessions, and in your inheritance, in that where no apostacy can come: for I must tell you, here is the same spirit stirring, if it could prevail, that would lay <83> waste God's heritage, and bring you out of your possessions, that it might rule over you: but if you keep your possessions of the gospel order, the power of God in Christ Jesus, you will rule over it, being in and upon the foundation of God, that stands sure; though some earthly loose spirits it may draw after them. But mark the end of it; for the power remains, and will remain, and the seed reigns over the head of all such false spirits, and orders, and governments, that are not set up by Jesus Christ, and it will grind them to pieces [Mat 21:44]: that is the word of the Lord God to you, let whoever will oppose it; for the power was before they were, and will stand when they are gone. For all our men and women's meetings, which are set up by the power and spirit of God, these meetings are for the practice of religion, and to see that all that do profess truth, do practise it and walk in it. And all such as are against them, are begetters of people into talking, and not walking, and of saying, but not doing; and such always were judged by all them that walked in the truth, and in the pure religion, that is undefiled before God, that kept and keeps from the spots of the world [Jas 1:27]. And all such are never like to prosper, that are against the practice of the pure religion.
And therefore, as I said before, live in the possession of the gospel and its order, the power of God, which was before the devil was, or the apostacy either; and know his government, of the increase of which there is no end, who is set up from everlasting to everlasting, the Amen [Rev 3:14].
And live in love and unity one with another; for that edifies the body [Eph 4:16] of Christ, and that is it, which will bear all things [1 Cor 13:7]; and in the patience run the race, and have the crown [Heb 12:1/1 Cor 9:24f], and keep in the meekness of the Lamb, that will have the victory [Rev 17:14].
And such opposers as cry against forms, and prescriptions, and edicts of men, they are the most in it themselves this day, and gather into a separation, by prescriptions and subscriptions; and under a pretence of crying against such things, oppose the power, and them that are in the possession of it. But the power will blast them, and make them to wither, like the grass and corn on the house-top [Psa 129:6], as it did John Perrot and his company; to whom it was the word of the Lord then, and so it is to these now; and the word lives, and abides, and endures for ever [1 Pet 1:23].
So with my love in the Lord Jesus Christ to you all, in whom is my labour and travail for your eternal good and settlement upon the eternal rock. Amen. Farewell.
G. F. Top
Let this be read in the men and women's meetings, when Friends are assembled together.
Swarthmore, the 12 th of the 12 th month, 1675.
All dear friends and brethren, keep up your testimony in the light, power, and spirit of God, for the worship, that Christ set up above sixteen hundred years since, in the spirit and truth [John 4:24], (which truth the devil is out of [John 8:44], who is an unclean spirit,) which is a worship that cannot be shaken [Heb 12:27?]. And keep up your testimony, against the anti-christian ministry, that is inwardly ravened from the spirit of God, and the light of Christ, and his anti-christian tithes, and maintenance, which he hath set up, by that inwardly ravening spirit [Mat 7:15], who hath ravened from the spirit of Christ, who said, ‘Freely you have received, freely give [Mat 10:8];’ and Christ's ministers coveted no man's silver, nor gold, nor apparel [Acts 20:33]. And keep up your testimony in the power of Christ, for the church that is made of living stones [1 Pet 2:5], (which he is the head of [Col 1:18],) who are the first-born written in heaven [Heb 12:23], a spiritual household, a royal priesthood, that offer up spiritual sacrifices [1 Pet 2:5/9]. So that every one may have something to offer from the spirit to God, who are of the church that is in God [1 Th 1:1]; gathered by the power and spirit of Christ to him; who feed on the bread that comes down from heaven [John 6:34-57]; and drink of the heavenly wine [Mat 26:29?], and so become flesh of his flesh, and bone of his bone [Gen 2:23, Eph 5:30], and sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus [Eph 2:6] ; who is the heavenly and spiritual head of his church, which is written in heaven, &c. And also keep your testimony, for your pure and undefiled religion [Jas 1:27], &c. and for the wisdom that is above [Jas 3:17], &c. And keep your testimony for the cross of Christ, which is the power of God [1 Cor 1:18], by which the world is crucified to you, and you to the world [Gal 6:14]. And you that were dead, and are risen with Christ, keep your testimony for those things, that you have sought, and have found, and received from above, (those heavenly things,) where Christ sits, at the right hand of God [Col 3:1].
And likewise, keep your testimony for the new and living way [Heb 10:20], Christ Jesus; and likewise for the light of Christ, which you believe in, and become children of the light and of the day [John 12:36, 1 Th 5:5].
And keep your testimony for your men and women's meetings, in the power of God, by which you are gathered out of the apostacy, and over it, into the everlasting gospel order, as was in the apostles' days. Which gospel order is not of man, nor by man; but by Christ [Gal 1:12], the spiritual man.
And all ye that are ministers of this gospel, help and encourage all those women in their meetings, that labour in the gospel; and the women may in the same power of God (the gospel) help and assist you. So that you may be helps-meet [Gen 2:18] together, in the restoration by Christ, in his glorious gospel and order, who never fell, nor changed, nor will <85> change. So that all the plants that God hath planted, may flourish, bud, and spring, and bring forth fruit, to the praise and glory of God, in his power. And this gospel of Christ Jesus, is everlasting, and holy, and glorious; which you all, that feel it, are heirs of; which hath brought life and immortality to light [2 Tim 1:10] in you; which gospel, the power of God [Rom 1:16], was before the devil was, that had darkened you. Now, in this power of God, the gospel, is all your comfort, and glad tidings; and an everlasting joy, in this everlasting gospel; and an everlasting possession and comfort, in the everlasting order, which is the gospel of Christ Jesus, who is the first and last, the spiritual heavenly man; his spiritual and heavenly order, for his spiritual and heavenly ones to keep and walk in.
And, friends, keep your testimony against the world's vain ways, words, fashions, customs, and worships, as you did at first, and to your proper, sound, plain language.
And, friends, keep your testimony to the Lord in all your sufferings and afflictions; for by the testimony of Jesus, and the blood of the Lamb, did and do the saints overcome; and the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy [Rev 19:10]; by which they see him that gives them their victory; and they feel him that suffered for them; and in all their sufferings and afflictions, he suffers with them, and is afflicted with them; who is able to save to the uttermost [Heb 7:25], and to help and succour you in all distresses; who is blessed for ever. Amen.
And, friends, keep your testimony (who are children of the new covenant, and are taught of God; in whose hearts God hath written his law, and put it in your minds [Jer 31:31-34) for your counsellor and leader, which God hath given you; and for your prophet, which God hath raised up, whom you ought to hear [Acts 22]; and for your shepherd, that God has given, who laid down his life for you [John 10:11,15], who hath redeemed you from the world's hireling shepherds [John 10:12f, Ezek 34:10], and feeds you in his pasture of life, and brings you to rest in his fold [Ezek 34:14]. And keep your testimony for Christ, your priest, who is made higher than the heavens [Heb 7:26], who laid down his life for you, and sanctified you, and presents you to God, without spot or wrinkle [Eph 5:27, Col 1:22]; who is holy, harmless, and separate from sinners [Heb 7:26]. And so keep your testimony for your heavenly spiritual bishop, Christ Jesus, who is the bishop of your souls [1 Pet 2:25], who doth oversee you with his light, power, and spirit.
And keep your testimony, for the sufferings and resurrection of Jesus Christ; for they that suffer with him, shall reign with him [2 Tim 2:12]. But they that shuffle, and flee in the time of persecution, and deny him before men, such he will deny, or be ashamed of, before his heavenly Father [Mat 10:33/Luke 9:26]. Who deny him, or are ashamed of him, before earthly men, such fear the wrath of men, more than the wrath of God; and such are the stony <86> ground, whose blade is scorched up by the heat of persecution [Mat 13:20f]; but the good seed sown in the good ground, that brings forth thirty, sixty, and a hundred fold [Mat 13:23] in this life.
And keep your testimony for your unity in the faith [Eph 4:13], that gives you victory [1 Jn 5:4]; and your fellowship and unity in the spirit, which is the bond [Eph 4:3]of the Prince of princes [Dan 8:25], King of kings, and Lord of lords' [Rev 19:16] peace. Amen.
G. F. Top
Dear friends,—To you all in Nevis, and the Carribee Islands thereabouts, I have seen a letter from some of you, wherein I understand that there has been some scruple concerning watching, or sending forth watchmen in your own way. . . .
And now as for watching in itself: Do not you watch your plantations against thieves in the night? And are not common watches set to discover thieves in the towns, or house-breakers, or such as might wickedly fire houses? Such civil things we were subject to, and do submit ourselves, for conscience' sake, unto every such ordinance of man, which are for the punishment of evil doers, and for the praise of them that do well [1 Pet 2:13f].
Now those evil doers that may rob your plantations, or houses, you complain to the magistrates, for the punishment of them, though you cannot swear against them; or if the Indians come to rob your plantations, or houses, you complain to the magistrates for the punishment of such evil doers, to stop them, which magistrates are for the praise of them that do well. So this watching is for the preventing thieves and murderers, and stopping burning of houses. So we do submit to every such ordinance of men for the Lord's sake; for the apostle exhorted to <87> submission, whether it be to the king, as supreme, or governors, as unto them that are sent by him, for the punishing of the evil doers, and for the praise of them that do well; for so it is the will of God, that with well doing you might put to silence the ignorance of foolish men, as free, not using your liberty for a cloak of maliciousness, but as servants of God [1 Pet 2:15f]; so that justice, and truth, and righteousness may be set upon the unrighteousness, and unjust, not using this liberty for a cloak of unrighteousness to any one, but as servants in the righteousness of the righteous God, as you may see in 1 Peter ii. 13. and in Titus iii. 1. ‘Put them in mind to obey magistrates, and to be ready to every good work [Tit 3:1].’ Mark, ‘every good work,’ that is against the evil, as drunkenness, murder, whoredom, these and all manner of uncleanness; so far we can obey them, in the Lord's power and truth, as they act against the evil, and that which dishonours God [Rom 2:23]; and if they act against the good, or if they would compel us to those things, which are matter of conscience in us towards God [1 Pet 3:21], we resist not [Rom 13:2], but suffer under them. For rulers are not to be a terror to the good workers, but to the evil; and wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same [Rom 13:3]; for he is a minister of God to thee for good, for he should keep down the evil. But if thou dost that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain; for he is a minister of God to revenge and execute wrath upon him that doth evil [Rom 13:4]. So he is the revenger and executioner of the wrath upon the evil doer, as God hath placed him, upon the adulterer, and him that steals or kills, and bears false witness, &c. But when the magistrate turns his sword backward upon the just and righteous [Isa 59:14?], then he abuses his power, and therein the just suffer under him. And therefore such have been warned by the just, as you may see through the scriptures. So you are not to be the revengers, but he is the revenger; and to that power that executes the revenge, and brings the sword upon the adulterer, murderer, thief, false witness [Exo 20:13-16, Rom 13:9]], and other evil doers, we must be subject to that power, and own that power, not only for wrath, but for conscience' sake [Rom 13:5]; which is for the punishment of the evil doers, and the praise of them that do well. . . . <88> . . .
And for this cause we pay tribute to them, and give Caesar his due, that we may live a godly and peaceable life under them, as they are God's ministers attending upon this very thing, to wit, the punishing of the evil doers, and the praise of them that do well; for the law was not made for the righteous, but for the sinner and disobedient [1 Tim 1:9], which is good in its place. Now if they do not do their duty, we are clear in giving them their tribute or customs; I say, if they do not do their duty to keep down evil doers, and be for the praise of them that do well, God Almighty will turn against them. But if the magistrate would have all, both God's due, and Caesar's too, that we cannot give; for God must have his worship, his praise, his honour, and his due; and Caesar must have his due, his earthly custom and tribute; and so herein, we render unto God the things which are God's, and unto Caesar the things which are his [Mat 22:21]. And whereas some may say, that the apostle would not eat flesh, lest he should offend his brother [1 Cor 8:13], that was upon a religious account; and not to give offence to the magistrate, who is set for the punishing of the evil doers, and for the praise of them that do well.
And whereas the apostle saith, Col. ii. ‘Wherefore if you be dead with Christ, from the rudiments of the world; why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, touch not, taste not, handle not, which all are to perish with the using, after the commandments and doctrines of men? [Col 2:20f]’ Now these ordinances, these doctrines, these commandments, were concerning religion and worship; and that was another thing, where the apostle saith, ‘Be subject to every ordinance of man, for the Lord's sake; for the punishment of evil doers.’ 1 Pet. ii. 13. For this was for the Lord's sake, which was for the praise of them that do well, and for the punishment of the evil doer. So he makes a distinction here.
And you know that masters of ships, and Friends, have their watches all night long, and they watch to preserve the ship, and to prevent any enemy, or hurts that might come to the ship, by passengers, or otherwise.
And Christ came in the fourth watch of the night, walking on the sea, &c. And Peter was in the ship, and his disciples [Mat 14:25-32], as you may see in Matt. xiv. and in Mark vi. 48.
And Simon Peter had part of the ship, as you may see in Luke v. And so it was that James and John, sons of Zebedee, were partners with Simon [Luke 5:10]. <89>
And Christ saith, (Luke xii. 38, 39.) speaking of his coming, and exhorting to watch, ‘If he, (to wit, the master,) should come in the second or third watch, and find them watching, blessed are those servants [Luke 12:38].’ So this watching was for Christ, and against sin and evil in their own hearts. And then he brings a comparison. ‘And this know, that if the good man of the house,’ said he, ‘had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not suffered his house to be broken up [Luke 12:39],’ &c. . . .
And so if the foreign Indians should come to steal your goods, or to <90> kill; for you to be left to your freedom to watch in your own way, and to discover to the magistrate such as would destroy your lives or plantations, or steal, let them come from at home, or come from abroad, such evil doers the magistrate is to punish, who is for the praise of them that do well. So that you may live and lead a godly and peaceable life under them. And you that are righteous, you watching, discovering and declaring against such evil doers, and things, you clear yourselves, and demonstrate that your testimony is against such things. And if the magistrates should be evilly inclined, and God should bring the evil doers as a rod upon them; yet you are clear in your testimony, that knows truth, and are in your duty, and in your obedience. And for this cause he has his tribute, and his custom, and his due, and double honour, if he rules well [1 Tim 5:17]; and God has his praise, and his honour; and in that power and truth of God, which is against untruth, and the power of darkness; and in the light which is against evil; and in the life, which is against death, you discover the bad to him, for him to punish them upon true evidence; and if he does not do it, it will lie upon him.
And if he be a praise to the evil, and a discouragement to the good, then the Lord will deal with him; and though to such, for conscience, and for the Lord's sake, we cannot be subject to the evil, but rather suffer thereby, and are subject to that which punishes and keeps down the evil, and are glad of it. And we desire that justice were uppermost in all magistrates, that they would hear Friends at their yea or nay [Mat 5:37], that do come to them, and discover to them the evil, and that they might see what they should do, and what they should not do. So Friends may discover all that which is evil, which comes to devour and destroy [Jer 15:3], both within and without, both within the island and without, to them that should keep it down.
And so, in the Lord's everlasting power, in which freedom is and dominion, the Lord God Almighty keep you in his power and life, in the gospel, which brings life and immortality to light [2 Tim 1:10] in you, that you may see over the devil that had darkened you, and kept you in a separation from God [Isa 59:2]: so that by his gospel, the power of God, which was before the devil was, and will be when he is gone, who was the author of strife; that in that power you may all freely approach to God, and in it feel nothing betwixt you and the Lord of hindering your passage unto him. So that in this gospel, the power of God, in which life and immortality are brought to light, you may keep and feel your everlasting fellowship and order of the gospel; which is not of man, nor by man [Gal 1:12].
So my love to all Friends in all those parts, as though I named them: and be at peace one with another; neither judge one another about such things, but live in love, which doth edify [Eph 4:16]. And in the <91> power of God, that your hearts, and souls, and minds, may unite together in it; and all to walk as becomes the gospel [Phil 1:27]: and let your lives and conversations preach, that with a measure of the spirit of God you may reach to that of God in all; so that his name may be glorified, and he honoured, in your bringing forth much heavenly spiritual fruit [John 15:8], from the heavenly seed, that Christ the heavenly seeds-man [Mark 4:14] hath sown in your hearts [Mat 13:19]; that so a hundred fold [Mat 13:8,23] of holiness, righteousness, godliness, virtue, and piety, from this heavenly seed, you may bring forth and increase in this life-time, and in the world to come reap life everlasting [Gal 6:8].
And give no occasion to your adversaries [1 Tim 5:14], neither in your lives nor words; but that you may all serve God in the new life [Rom 6:4/7:6], showing forth that you are new men, and that you are renewed in the image of God [Col 3:10], and that you are born again of the immortal heavenly seed, by the eternal everlasting word, that lives, and abides, and endures for ever [1 Pet 1:23]. And that you do feed upon the heavenly milk [1 Pet 2:2] and bread from above [John 6:34-57], and that your conversation is in heaven [Phil 3:20], and that you are clothed with the fine heavenly linen, which is the righteousness of saints [Rev 19:8], which is Christ's (the heavenly and spiritual man's [1 Cor 15:47]) livery; by which his servants are known by his badge of righteousness, and distinguished from all the servants of old Adam, Egypt, Sodom, and Babylon, with their badge of unrighteousness.
And so be valiant for God's truth upon the earth [Jer 9:3], and spread it abroad; preach Christ and his kingdom, his light, his grace, his truth to men; that all should walk in it; and his dreadful day upon all the talkers of God, Christ, his prophets, and apostles' words, that do not walk in the same power, spirit and life, grace and truth, as they walked in.
I say, preach this to the magistrates, and amongst the heathen men, and show yourselves to be quickened (by Christ) who have been dead in sins and trespasses [Eph 2:1]; but that you are now made alive [1 Cor 15:22] by him; and so show forth his light, life, and truth, and that you are awakened to righteousness [1 Cor 15:34]; and therefore show it forth to them that are asleep in the unrighteousness: so that the Lord's glory, and righteous power, truth, light, and life, may flow over all, to his glory over all, for ever. Amen. . . <92> . . .
Swarthmore, the 5th of the 9th month.