<GF1:67> GFJN <1> That all may know the dealings of the Lord with me, and the various exercises, trials, and troubles through which he led me, in order to prepare and fit me for the work unto which he had appointed me, and may thereby be drawn to admire and glorify his infinite wisdom and goodness; I think fit, before I proceed to set forth my public travels in the service of truth, briefly to mention how it was with me in my youth, and how the work of the Lord was begun, and gradually carried on in me, even from my childhood.
I was born in the month called July, in the year 1624, at Drayton in the Clay, in Leicestershire. My father's name was Christopher Fox. He was by profession a weaver, an honest man, and there was a seed of God in him. The neighbours called him righteous Christer. My mother was an upright woman; her maiden name was Mary Lago, of the family of the Lagos, and of the stock of the martyrs.
In my very young years I had a gravity and stayedness of mind and spirit not usual in children; insomuch that when I have seen old men carry themselves lightly and wantonly towards each other, a dislike thereof hath risen in my heart, and I have said within myself, ‘If ever I come to be a man, surely I should not do so, nor be so wanton.’
When I came to eleven years of age, I knew pureness and righteousness; for while I was a child I was taught how to walk so as to keep <68> pure. The Lord taught me to be <2> faithful in all things [1 Tim 3:11], and to act faithfully two ways, viz. inwardly to God, and outwardly to man; and to keep to yea and nay in all things [Mat 5:37]. For the Lord showed me, that though the people of the world have mouths full of deceit and changeable words, yet I was to keep to yea and nay in all things; that my words should be few [Eccl 5:2] and savoury, seasoned with grace [Col 4:6]; and that I might not eat and drink to make myself wanton, but for health, using the creatures in their service, as servants in their places, to the glory of him that created them [1 Cor 10:31] they being in their covenant, and I being brought up into the covenant, as sanctified by the word [1 Tim 4:5] which was in the beginning [John 1:1], by which all things were upheld [Heb 1:3], wherein is unity with the creation.
But people being strangers to the covenant of life with God, they eat and drink to make themselves wanton with the creatures, wasting them upon their lusts [Jas 4:3], living in all filthiness, loving foul ways, and devouring the creation; all this in the world, in the pollutions thereof without God: therefore I was to shun all such.
As I grew up my relations thought to have made me a priest; but others persuaded to the contrary. Whereupon I was put to a man who was a shoemaker by trade, and dealt in wool. He also used grazing, and sold cattle; and a great deal went through my hands. While I was with him he was blessed, but after I left him he broke and came to nothing. I never wronged man or woman in all that time; for the Lord's power was with me, and over me, to preserve me. While I was in that service, I used in my dealings the word ‘verily,’ and it was a common saying among those that knew me, ‘If George says verily, there is no altering him.’ When boys and rude persons would laugh at me, I let them alone and went my way: but people had generally a love to me for my innocency and honesty.
When I came towards nineteen years of age, being <3> upon business at a fair, one of my cousins, whose name was Bradford, a professor, having another professor with him, came and asked me to drink part of a jug of beer with them; and I being thirsty, went in with them; for I loved any who had a sense of good, or that sought after the Lord. When we had drunk a glass apiece, they began to drink healths, and called for more drink, agreeing together, that he that would not drink, should pay all. I was grieved that any, who made profession of religion, should offer to do so. They grieved me very much, having never had such a thing put to me before, by any sort of people. Wherefore I rose up, and putting my hand in my pocket, took out a groat, and laid it upon the table before them, saying, ‘If it be so, I will leave you.’ So I went away; and when I had done my business returned home; but did not go to bed that night, nor could I sleep; but sometimes walked up and <69> down, and sometimes prayed, and cried to the Lord, who said unto me: ‘Thou seest how young people go together into vanity, and old people into the earth; thou must forsake all, young and old, keep out of all, and be as a stranger [Jer 14:8?] unto all.’
Then at the command of God, on the ninth of the seventh month, 1643, I left my relations, and brake off all familiarity or fellowship with young or old. I passed to Lutterworth where I staid some time. From thence I went to Northampton, where also I made some stay; then passed to Newport-pagnel, in Buckinghamshire; where, after I had staid awhile I went to Barnet, in the fourth month called June, in the year 1644. As I thus travelled through the country, professors took notice <4> of me, and sought to be acquainted with me; but I was afraid of them: for I was sensible they did not possess what they professed.
During the time I was at Barnet, a strong temptation to despair came upon me. I then saw how Christ was tempted, and mighty troubles I was in. Sometimes I kept myself retired in my chamber, and often walked solitary in the chase to wait upon the Lord. I wondered why these things should come to me. I looked upon myself, and said, ‘Was I ever so before?’ Then I thought, because I had forsaken my relations, I had done amiss against them. So I was brought to call to mind all my time that I had spent, and to consider whether I had wronged any: but temptations grew more and more, and I was tempted almost to despair; and when satan could not effect his design upon me that way, he laid snares and baits to draw me to commit some sin, whereby he might take advantage to bring me to despair. I was about twenty years of age when these exercises came upon me, and some years I continued in that condition in great trouble, and fain I would have put it from me. I went to many a priest to look for comfort, but found no comfort from them.
From Barnet I went to London, where I took a lodging, and was under great misery and trouble there; for I looked upon the great professors of the city of London, and saw all was dark and under the chain of darkness [2 Pet 2:4/Jude 1:6]. I had an uncle there, one Pickering, a Baptist, and they were tender then: yet I could not impart my mind to him, nor join with them; for I saw all, young and old, where they were. Some tender people would have had me staid, but I was fearful, and returned homeward into Leicestershire, having a regard upon my mind to my parents and relations lest I should grieve them; who, I understood, were troubled at my absence.
Being returned into Leicestershire, my relations would have had me married; but I told them I was but a lad, and must get wisdom [Prov 4:5]. Others would have had me <5> into the auxiliary band among the soldiery, but I refused, and was grieved that they proffered such things to me, being a <70> tender youth. Then I went to Coventry, where I took a chamber for awhile at a professor's house, till people began to be acquainted with me; for there were many tender people in that town.
And after some time I went into my own country again, and continued about a year, in great sorrow and trouble, and walked many nights by myself. Then the priest of Drayton, the town of my birth, whose name was Nathaniel Stevens, came often to me, and I went often to him; and another priest sometimes came with him; and they would give place to me, to hear me; and I would ask them questions, and reason with them. This priest Stevens asked me, why Christ cried out upon the cross, ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’ [Psa 22:1, Mat 22:46] And why he said, ‘If it be possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not my will, but thine be done?’ [Mat 26:39] I told him, at that time the sins of all mankind were upon him, and their iniquities and transgressions, with which he was wounded; which he was to bear [Isa 53:5,11] and to be an offering for, as he was man, but died not as he was God; so, in that he died for all men, tasting death for every man [Heb 2:9], he was an offering for the sins of the whole world [1 Jn 2:2]. This I spoke, being at that time in a measure sensible of Christ's sufferings, and what he went through. The priest said, ‘It was a very good, full answer, and such a one as he had not heard.’ At that time he would applaud and speak highly of me to others; and what I said in discourse to him on weekdays, he would preach of on First-days, which gave me a dislike to him. This priest afterwards became my great persecutor.
After this I went to another ancient priest at Mansetter in Warwickshire, and reasoned with him about the ground of despair and temptations; but he was ignorant of my condition: he bid me take tobacco and sing psalms. <6> Tobacco was a thing I did not love, and psalms I was not in a state to sing; I could not sing. He bid me come again, and he would tell me many things; but when I came he was angry and pettish, for my former words had displeased him. He told my troubles, sorrows, and griefs to his servants, so that it was got among the milk-lasses. It grieved me that I should open my mind to such a one. I saw they were all miserable comforters [Job 16:2], and this increased my troubles upon me.
I heard of a priest living about Tamworth, who was accounted an experienced man. I went seven miles to him, but found him like an empty, hollow cask. I heard of one called Dr. Cradock, of Coventry, and went to him; I asked him the ground of temptations and despair, and how troubles came to be wrought in man? He asked me, ‘who was Christ's father and mother?’ I told him Mary was his mother, and that he was supposed to be the son of Joseph; but he was the son of God. As we were walking together in his garden, the alley being narrow, I chanced, in turning, to set my foot on the side of a bed; at which he raged as if his house had been on fire. <71> Thus all our discourse was lost, and I went away in sorrow, worse than I was when I came. I thought them miserable comforters, and saw they were all as nothing to me; for they could not reach my condition.
After this I went to another, one Macham, a priest, in high account. He would needs give me some physic, and I was to have been let blood; but they could not get one drop of blood from me, either in arms or head, though they endeavoured it, my body being, as it were, dried up with sorrows, griefs, and troubles, which were so great upon me, that I could have wished I had never been born, or that I had been born blind, that I might never have seen wickedness nor vanity; and deaf, that I might never have heard vain and wicked words, or the Lord's name blasphemed.
<7> When the time called Christmas came, while others were feasting and sporting themselves, I looked out poor widows from house to house, and gave them some money. When I was invited to marriages I went to none at all; but the next day, or soon after, I would go and visit them; and if they were poor I gave them some money; for I had wherewith both to keep myself from being chargeable to others, and to administer something to the necessities of others.
About the beginning of the year 1646, as I was going into Coventry, a consideration arose in me, how it was said, that ‘all christians are believers, both Protestants and Papists;’ and the Lord opened to me that if all were believers, then they were all born of God [1 Jn 3:9], and passed from death to life [1 Jn 3:14]; and that none were true believers but such: and though others said they were believers, yet they were not. At another time, as I was walking in a field on a First-day morning, the Lord opened unto me, ‘that being bred at Oxford or Cambridge was not enough to fit and qualify men to be ministers of Christ:’ and I wondered at it, because it was the common belief of people. But I saw it clearly as the Lord opened it to me, and was satisfied and admired the goodness of the Lord, who had opened this thing unto me that morning. This struck at priest Stevens’ ministry, namely, that ‘to be bred at Oxford or Cambridge was not enough to make a man fit to be a minister of Christ.’ So that which opened in me, I saw struck at the priest's ministry.
But my relations were much troubled, that I would not go with them to hear the priest; for I would go into the orchard or the fields, with my bible, by myself. I asked them, did not the apostle say to believers, ‘that they needed no man to teach them, but as the anointing teacheth them?’ [1 Jn 2:27] Though they knew this was scripture, and that it was true, yet they were grieved, because I could not be subject in this matter, to go to hear the priest with <8> them. I saw that to be a true believer was another thing than they looked upon it to be; and I saw that being bred at Oxford or Cambridge did not qualify or fit a <72> man to be a minister of Christ; what then should I follow such for? So neither them, nor any of the dissenting people could I join with; but was as a stranger to all, relying wholly upon the Lord Jesus Christ.
At another time it was opened in me, ‘that God who made the world did not dwell in temples made with hands.’ [Acts 17:24] This at the first seemed strange, because both priests and people used to call their temples or churches, dreadful places, holy ground [Exo 3:5], and the temples of God. But the Lord showed me clearly, that he did not dwell in these temples which men had commanded and set up, but in people's hearts. Both Stephen and the apostle Paul bore testimony, that he did not dwell in temples made with hands, not even in that which he had once commanded to be built, since he put an end to the typical dispensation; but that his people were his temple, and he dwelt in them [1 Cor 3:16]. This opened in me, as I walked in the fields to my relation's house. When I came there, they told me Nathaniel Stevens, the priest, had been there, and said, ‘he was afraid of me for going after new lights.’ I smiled in myself, knowing what the Lord had opened in me concerning him and his brethren; but I told not my relations, who, though they saw beyond the priests, yet went to hear them, and were grieved because I would not go also. But I showed them by the scriptures, there was an anointing within man to teach him [1 Jn 2:27], and that the Lord would teach his people himself. I had great openings concerning the things written in the Revelations; and when I spoke of them, the priests and professors would say, that was a sealed book, and would have kept me out of it. But I told them, Christ could open the seals [Rev 5:5,9], and that they were the nearest thing to us; for the epistles were written to the saints that lived in former ages, but the Revelations were written of things to come.
After this I met with a sort of people that held, women <9> have no souls, (adding in a light manner,) no more than a goose. I reproved them, and told them that was not right; for Mary said, ‘My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my saviour.’ [Luk 1:46f]
Removing to another place I came among a people that relied much on dreams. I told them except they could distinguish between dream and dream they would confound all together; for there were three sorts of dreams: multitude of business sometimes caused dreams; and there were whisperings of satan in man in the night season; and there were speakings of God to man in dreams. But these people came out of these things, and at last became Friends.
Though I had great openings, yet great trouble and temptations came many times upon me, so that when it was day I wished for night, and when it was night I wished for day [Deut 28:67]; and by reason of the openings I had in my troubles, I could say as David said, ‘Day unto day uttereth <73> speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge .#8217;[Psa 19:2] When I had openings they answered one another, and answered the scriptures; for I had great openings of the scriptures; and when I was in troubles, one trouble also answered to another.
About the beginning of the year 1647 I was moved of the Lord to go into Derbyshire, where I met with some friendly people, and had many discourses with them. Then passing into the Peak country, I met with more friendly people, and with some in empty high notions. And travelling on through some parts of Leicestershire, and into Nottinghamshire, I met with a tender people, and a very tender woman, whose name was Elizabeth Hootton. With these I had some meetings and discourses; but my troubles continued, and I was often under great temptations. I fasted much, walked abroad in solitary places many days, and often took my bible, and sat in hollow trees and lonesome places till night came on; and frequently in the night walked mournfully about by myself: for I was a man of <10> sorrows [Isa 53:3] in the time of the first workings of the Lord in me.
During all this time I was never joined in profession of religion with any, but gave up myself to the Lord, having forsaken all evil company, taken leave of father and mother, and all other relations, and travelled up and down as a stranger in the earth [Psa 119:19], which way the Lord inclined my heart; taking a chamber to myself in the town where I came, and tarrying sometimes more, sometimes less in a place: for I durst not stay long in a place, being afraid both of professor and profane, lest, being a tender young man, I should be hurt by conversing much with either. For which reason I kept much as a stranger, seeking heavenly wisdom, and getting knowledge from the Lord; and was brought off from outward things, to rely on the Lord alone. Though my exercises and troubles were very great, yet were they not so continual but that I had some intermissions, and was sometimes brought into such an heavenly joy, that I thought I had been in Abraham's bosom [Luk 16:22f]. As I cannot declare the misery I was in, it was so great and heavy upon me, so neither can I set forth the mercies of God unto me in all my misery. Oh! the everlasting love of God to my soul, when I was in great distress! when my troubles and torments were great, then was his love exceeding great. Thou, Lord, makest a fruitful field a barren wilderness [Psa 107:34], and a barren wilderness a fruitful field [Isa 32:15]! thou bringest down and settest up [1 Sam 2:6]! thou killest and makest alive! all honour and glory be to thee, O Lord of glory! The knowledge of thee in the spirit is life; but that knowledge which is fleshly works death [Rom 8:6]. While there is this knowledge in the flesh, deceit and self will conform to any thing, and will say, yes, yes, to that it doth not know. The knowledge which the world hath, of what the prophets and apostles spake, is a fleshly knowledge; <74> and the apostates from the life, in which the prophets and apostles were, have got their words, the holy scriptures, in a form, but not in the life nor spirit that gave them <11> forth. So they all lie in confusion; and are making provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof [Rom 13:14], but not to fulfil the law and command of Christ in his power and spirit: for that, they say they cannot do; but to fulfil the lusts of the flesh, that they can do with delight.
After I had received that opening from the Lord, that to be bred at Oxford or Cambridge, was not sufficient to fit a man to be a minister of Christ, I regarded the priests less, and looked more after the dissenting people. Among them I saw there was some tenderness; and many of them came afterwards to be convinced, for they had some openings. But as I had forsaken the priests, so I left the separate preachers also, and those called the most experienced people; for I saw there was none among them all that could speak to my condition. And when all my hopes in them and in all men were gone, so that I had nothing outwardly to help me, nor could tell what to do; then, Oh! then I heard a voice which said, ‘There is one, even Christ Jesus, that can speak to thy condition.’ When I heard it, my heart did leap for joy. Then the Lord let me see why there was none upon the earth that could speak to my condition, namely, that I might give him all the glory. For all are concluded under sin [Gal 3:22], and shut up in unbelief [Rom 11:32], as I had been, that Jesus Christ might have pre-eminence [Col 1:18], who enlightens [John 1:9], and gives grace, faith, and power. Thus when God doth work, who shall let it? [Isa 43:13] This I knew experimentally.
My desires after the Lord grew stronger, and zeal in the pure knowledge of God, and of Christ alone, without the help of any man, book, or writing. For though I read the scriptures that spake of Christ and of God, yet I knew him not but by revelation, as he who hath the key did open [Rev 3:7], and as the Father of life drew me to his son [John 6:44] by his spirit. Then the Lord gently led me along, and let me see his love, which was endless and eternal, surpassing all the knowledge that men have in the natural state, or can get by history or books. That love let <12> me see myself, as I was without him; and I was afraid of all company: for I saw them perfectly, where they were, through the love of God which let me see myself. I had not fellowship with any people, priests, nor professors, nor any sort of separated people, but with Christ who hath the key [Rev 3:7], and opened the door of light and life unto me. I was afraid of all carnal talk and talkers, for I could see nothing but corruptions, and the life lay under the burden of corruptions. When I was in the deep, under all shut up, I could not believe that I should ever overcome; my troubles, my sorrows, and my temptations were so great, that I often thought I should have despaired, I was so tempted. But when Christ opened to me how he was tempted <75> by the same devil, and had overcome him [Mat 4:1-11], and had bruised his head [Gen 3:15]; and that through him and his power, light, grace, and spirit, I should overcome also, I had confidence in him. So he it was that opened to me, when I was shut up, and had neither hope nor faith. Christ, who had enlightened me, gave me his light to believe in, and gave me hope, which is himself, revealed himself in me [Gal 1:16], and gave me his spirit and grace, which I found sufficient [2 Cor 12:9] in the deeps and in weakness. Thus in the deepest miseries, and in the greatest sorrows and temptations that beset me, the Lord in his mercy did keep me.
I found two thirsts in me; the one after the creatures, to have got help and strength there; and the other after the Lord the creator, and his son Jesus Christ; and I saw all the world could do me no good. If I had had a king's diet, palace, and attendance, all would have been as nothing; for nothing gave me comfort but the Lord by his power. I saw professors, priests, and people, were whole and at ease in that condition which was my misery, and they loved that which I would have been rid of. But the Lord did stay my desires upon himself, from whom my help came, and my care was cast upon him alone. Therefore, all wait patiently upon the Lord, whatsoever condition you be in; wait in the grace and truth <13> that comes by Jesus [John 1:17]; for if ye so do, there is a promise to you, and the Lord God will fulfil it in you. And blessed are all they indeed that do indeed hunger and thirst after righteousness, they shall be satisfied [Mat 5:6] with it. I have found it so; praised be the Lord who filleth with it, and satisfieth the desires of the hungry soul. Oh! let the house of the spiritual Israel say, his mercy endureth for ever! [Psa 118:2] It is the great love of God, to make a wilderness of that which is pleasant [Jer 12:10] to the outward eye and fleshly mind; and to make a fruitful field of a barren wilderness [Isa 32:15]. This is the great work of God. But while people's minds run in the earthly, after the creatures and changeable things, changeable ways and religions, and changeable uncertain teachers, their minds are in bondage, and they are brittle and changeable, tossed up and down with windy doctrines [Eph 4:14], thoughts, notions, and things; their minds being out of the unchangeable truth in the inward parts [Psa 51:6], the light of Jesus Christ, which would keep them to the unchangeable. He is the way to the Father; who, in all my troubles preserved me by his spirit and power: praised be his holy name for ever!
Again, I heard a voice which said, ‘Thou serpent, thou dost seek to destroy the life, but canst not; for the sword which keepeth the tree of life [Gen 3:24] shall destroy thee.’ So Christ, the word of God, that bruised the head of the serpent, the destroyer, preserved me; my mind being joined to his good seed [Mat 13:37] that bruised the head of this serpent [Gen 3:15], the destroyer. This inward life sprang up in me, to answer all the opposing professors and priests, and brought scriptures to my memory to refute them with. <76>
At another time I saw the great love of God, and was filled with admiration at the infiniteness of it. I saw what was cast out from God, and what entered into God's kingdom; and how by Jesus, the opener of the door by his heavenly key [Rev 3:7], the entrance was given. I saw death, how it had passed upon all men [Rom 5:12], and oppressed the seed of God in man, and in me; and how I in the seed <14> came forth, and what the promise was to [Gal 4:19, 29]. Yet it was so, that there seemed to be two pleading in me; and questionings arose in my mind about gifts and prophecies, and I was tempted again to despair, as if I had sinned against the holy ghost [Mat 12:31]. I was in great perplexity and trouble for many days; yet I gave up myself to the Lord still.
One day, when I had been walking solitarily abroad, and was come home, I was taken up in the love of God, so that I could not but admire the greatness of his love; and while I was in that condition, it was opened unto me by the eternal light and power, and I therein clearly saw, that all was done and to be done in and by Christ; and how he conquers and destroys this tempter, the devil, and all his works [Heb 2:14/1 Jn 3:8], and is atop of him; and that all these troubles were good for me, and temptations for the trial of my faith [1 Pet 1:6f], which Christ had given me. The Lord opened me, that I saw through all these troubles and temptations. My living faith was raised, that I saw all was done by Christ the life, and my belief was in him. When at any time my condition was veiled [2 Cor 13:13-16], my secret belief was staid firm, and hope underneath held me, as an anchor [Heb 6:19] in the bottom of the sea, and anchored my immortal soul to its bishop [1 Pet 2:25], causing it to swim above the sea, the world, where all the raging waves [Jude 1:13], foul weather, tempests, and temptations are. But Oh! then did I see my troubles, trials, and temptations more clearly than ever I had done. As the light appeared, all appeared that is out of the light; darkness, death, temptations, the unrighteous, the ungodly; all was manifest and seen in the light [Eph 5:13].
After this, a pure fire appeared in me: then I saw how he sat as a refiner's fire, and as the fuller's soap [Mal 3:2]. Then the spiritual discerning came into me; by which I discerned my own thoughts, groans, and sighs; and what it was that veiled me, and what it was that opened me. That which could not abide in the patience, nor endure the fire, in the light I found to be the groans of the flesh, that could not give up to the will of God; which <15> had so veiled me, that I could not be patient in all trials, troubles, anguishes, and perplexities; could not give up self to die by the cross, the power of God [1 Cor 1:18], that the living and quickened might follow him, and that that which would cloud and veil from the presence of Christ, that which the sword of the spirit cuts down [Eph 6:17/Heb 4:12], and which must die, might not be kept alive. I discerned the groans of the spirit, which opened me, and made intercession to God: in which spirit is the true waiting upon God, for the redemption of the body, and of the whole <77> creation. [Rom 8:26, 22f] By this true spirit, in which the true sighing is, I saw over the false sighings and groanings. By this invisible spirit I discerned all the false hearing, the false seeing, and the false smelling, which was above the spirit, quenching and grieving it [1 Th 5:19, Eph 4:30]; and that all that were there were in confusion and deceit, where the false asking and praying is, in deceit and atop, in that nature and tongue that takes God's holy name in vain [Exo 20:7], wallows in the Egyptian sea [Isa 11:15], and asketh but hath not [Jas 4:3]; for they hate his light [John 3:20], resist the holy ghost [Acts 7:51], turn the grace into wantonness [Jude 1:4], rebel against the spirit [Isa 63:10], and are erred from the faith [1 Tim 6:10] they should ask in, and from the spirit they should pray by. He that knoweth these things in the true spirit can witness them. The divine light of Christ manifesteth all things [Eph 5:13], and the spiritual fire trieth and severeth all things. Several things did I then see, as the Lord opened them to me; for he showed me that which can live in his holy refining fire [Mal 3:2], and that can live to God under his law. He made me sensible, how the law and the prophets were until John [Mat 11:13]; and how the least in the everlasting kingdom of God is greater than John [Mat 11:11].
The pure and perfect law of God is over the flesh, to keep it and its works, which are not perfect, under, by the perfect law: and the law of God which is perfect [Psa 19:7], answers the perfect principle of God in every one. This law the Jews, the prophets, and John were to perform and do. None knows the giver of this law but by the spirit of God; neither can any truly read it, or hear its voice, but by the spirit of <16> God. He that can receive it, let him. John, who was one of the greatest prophets that was born of a woman [Mat 11:11], bore witness to the light [John 1:8] which Christ, the great heavenly prophet, hath enlightened every man that cometh into the world withal [John 1:9]; that they might believe in it, become the children of light [John 12:36], and so have the light of life, and not come into condemnation. For the true belief stands in the light that condemns all evil; and the devil, who is the prince of darkness, and would draw out of the light into condemnation [John 3:19-21]. They that walk in this light [Isa 2:5], come to the mountain of the house of God, established above all mountains, and to God's teaching, who will teach them his ways [Isa 2:2f]. These things were opened to me in the light.
I saw also the mountains burning up, and the rubbish, and the rough, and crooked ways and places made smooth and plain, that the Lord might come into his tabernacle [Isa 40:3f]. These things are to be found in man's heart; but to speak of these things being within, seemed strange to the rough, crooked, and mountainous ones. Yet the Lord saith, ‘O earth, hear the word of the Lord!’ [Jer 22:29] The law of the spirit [Rom 8:2] crosseth the fleshly mind, spirit, and will, which lives in disobedience, and doth not keep within the law of the spirit. I saw this law was the pure love of God which was upon me, and which I must go through, though I was troubled while I was under it; for I could not be dead to the law but through <78> the law [Gal 2:19], which did judge and condemn that which is to be condemned. I saw, many talked of the law, who had never known the law to be their schoolmaster [Gal 3:24]; and many talked of the gospel of Christ, who had never known life and immortality brought to light [2 Tim 1:10] in them by it. You that have been under that schoolmaster, and the condemnation of it, know these things; for though the Lord in that day opened these things unto me in secret, they have been since published by his eternal spirit, as on the house top [Mat 10:27]. And as you are brought into the law, and through the law to be dead to it, and witness the righteousness of the law fulfilled in you, ye will afterwards come to know what it is to be brought into the faith, and through <17> faith from under the law; and abiding in the faith, which Christ is the author of [Heb 12:2], ye will have peace and access to God [Rom 5:1f]. But if ye look out [Eccl 12:3] from the faith, and from that which would keep you in the victory, and look after fleshly things or words, ye will be brought into bondage to the flesh again, and to the law which takes hold upon the flesh and sin, and worketh wrath [Rom 4:15], and the works of the flesh will appear again. The law of God takes hold upon the law of sin and death; but the law of faith [Rom 3:27], or the law of the spirit of life [Rom 8:2], which is the love of God, and which comes by Jesus, (who is the end of the law for righteousness’ sake [Rom 10:4],) makes free from the law of sin and death [Rom 8:2]. This law of life fleshly-minded men do not know; yet they will tempt you, to draw you from the spirit into the flesh, and so into bondage [2 Pet 2:18f].
Therefore ye, who know the love of God, and the law of his spirit, and the freedom that is in Jesus Christ, stand fast in him, in that divine faith which he is the author of in you [Heb 2:12]; and be not entangled with the yoke of bondage [Gal 5:1]. For the ministry of Christ Jesus, and his teaching, bringeth into liberty and freedom; but the ministry that is of man, and by man, which stands in the will of man, bringeth into bondage, and under the shadow of death and darkness. Therefore none can be ministers of Christ Jesus but in the eternal spirit, which was before the scriptures were given forth; for if they have not his spirit, they are none of his [Rom 8:9]. Though they may have his light to condemn them that hate it, yet they can never bring any into unity and fellowship in the spirit, except they be in it; for the seed of God is a burdensome stone [Zech 12:3] to the selfish, fleshly, earthly will, which reigns in its own knowledge and understanding that must perish [Isa 29:14], and its own wisdom that is devilish [Jas 3:15]. The spirit of God is grieved, vexed, and quenched [Eph 4:30/Isa 63:10/1 Th 5:19] with that which brings into the fleshly bondage; and that which wars against the spirit of God must be mortified by it; for the flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh, and these are contrary the one to the other. The flesh would have its liberty, and the spirit would have its <18> liberty; but the spirit is to have its liberty, and not the flesh. If therefore ye quench the spirit [1 Th 5:19], join to the flesh, and <79> be servants of it, then ye are judged and tormented by the spirit; but if ye join to the spirit, and serve God in it, ye have liberty and victory over the flesh and its works. Therefore, keep in the daily cross [Luk 9:23], the power of God [1 Cor 1:18], by which ye may witness all that to be crucified which is contrary to the will of God, and which shall not come into his kingdom.
These things are here mentioned and opened for information, exhortation, and comfort to others, as the Lord opened them unto me in that day. In that day I wondered that the children of Israel should murmur for water and victuals [Exo 15:24, 16:2f], for I could have fasted long without murmuring or minding victuals. But I was judged at other times, that I was not contented to be sometimes without the water and bread of life [Rev 21:6, John 6:35], that I might learn to know how to want, and how to abound [Phil 4:12].
I heard of a woman in Lancashire, who had fasted two and twenty days, and I travelled to see her; but when I came to her, I saw she was under a temptation. When I had spoken to her what I had from the Lord, I left her, her father being high in profession. Passing on, I went among the professors at Duckenfield and Manchester, where I staid awhile and declared truth among them. There were some convinced, who received the Lord's teaching, by which they were confirmed, and stood in the truth. The professors were in a rage, all pleading for sin and imperfection; and could not endure to hear talk of perfection, or of a holy and sinless life. But the Lord's power was over all; though they were chained under darkness [2 Pet 2:4/Jude 1:6] and sin, which they pleaded for, and quenched the tender thing in them.
About this time there was a great meeting of the Baptists at Broughton, in Leicestershire, with some that had separated from them; and people of other notions went thither, and I went also. Not many of the Baptists came, but abundance of other people were there; and the Lord <19> opened my mouth, and his everlasting truth was declared amongst them, and the power of the Lord was over them all. In that day the Lord's power began to spring; I had great openings in the scriptures, and several were convinced in those parts, and ; were turned from darkness to light, and from the power of satan unto God [Acts 26:18]: his power they did receive, and by it many were raised up to praise God. When I reasoned with professors and other people, some were convinced, and did stand.
Yet I was under great temptations sometimes, and my inward sufferings were heavy; but I could find none to open my condition to but the Lord alone, unto whom I cried night and day [Psa 88:1]. I went back into Nottinghamshire, where the Lord showed me, that the natures of those things which were hurtful without, were within in the hearts and minds of wicked men. The natures of dogs, swine, vipers, of Sodom, and Egypt, Pharaoh, Cain, Ishmael, Esau, &c. The natures of these I saw within, though people had been looking without. I cried to the <80> Lord, saying, ‘Why should I be thus, seeing I was never addicted to commit those evils?’ And the Lord answered, ‘It was needful I should have a sense of all conditions, how else should I speak to all conditions?’ In this I saw the infinite love of God. I saw also, that there was an ocean of darkness and death; but an infinite ocean of light and love, which flowed over the ocean of darkness. In that also I saw the infinite love of God, and I had great openings.
As I was walking by the steeple-house side in the town of Mansfield, the Lord said unto me, ‘That which people trample upon must be thy food [Jer 12:10?].’ And as the Lord spake he opened to me, that people and professors trampled upon the life, even the life of Christ was trampled upon; they fed upon words, and fed one another with words, but trampled upon the life, and trampled under foot the blood of the son of God [Heb 10:29], which blood was my life; and they lived in their airy notions talking of him. It seemed strange to me at the first, that <20> I should feed on that which the high professors trampled upon; but the Lord opened it clearly to me by his eternal spirit and power.
<NJ adds (SJ): In Mansfield there came a priest who was looked upon to be above others, and all that professed themselves above the priests went to hear him and cried him up. I was against their going, and spoke to them against their going, and asked them if they had not a teacher within them; the anointing to teach them [1 Jn 2:27], and why they would go out to man. And then when they were gone to hear him, I was in sore travail, and it came upon me that I was moved to go to the steeplehouse to tell the people and the priest, and to bid them cease from man whose breath was in their nostrils [Isa 2:22], and to tell them where their teacher was, within them, the spirit and the light of Jesus, and how God that made the world doth not dwell in temples made with hands [Acts 17:24]. And many other things concerning the Truth I spake to them. And they were pretty moderate to hear the truth, whereby, after, many were wrought upon. > Then came people from far and near to see me: and I was fearful of being drawn out by them; yet I was made to open things to them.
One Brown had great prophecies and sights upon his death-bed of me. He spoke openly, of what I should be made instrumental by the Lord to bring forth. And of others he spoke, that they should come to nothing; which was fulfilled on some, who then were something in show. When this man was buried, a great work of the Lord fell upon me, to the admiration of many, who thought I had been dead; and many came to see me about fourteen days. For I was very much altered in countenance and person, as if my body had been new-moulded or changed. While I was in that condition, I had a sense and discerning given me by the Lord, through which I saw plainly, that when many people <21> talked of God and of Christ, &c. the serpent spoke in them; but this was hard to be borne. Yet the work of the Lord went on in some, and my sorrows and troubles began to wear off, and tears of joy dropped from me, so that I could have wept night and day with tears of joy to the Lord, in humility and brokenness of heart. I saw into that which was without end, things which cannot be uttered, and of the greatness and infiniteness of the love of God, which cannot be expressed by words. For I had been brought through the very ocean of darkness and death, and through and over the power of satan, by the eternal glorious power of Christ; even through that darkness was I brought which covered over all the world, which chained down all, and shut up all in the death. The same eternal power of God which brought me through these things, was that which afterwards shook the nations, priests, professors, and people. Then could I say, I had been in spiritual Babylon, Sodom, Egypt [Rev 11:8], and the grave; but by the eternal power of God I was come <81> out of it, was brought over it, and the power of it into the power of Christ. And I saw the harvest white, and the seed of God lying thick in the ground [John 5:35], as ever did wheat that was sown outwardly, and none to gather it [cf Luk 10:2]; for this I mourned with tears.
A report went abroad of me, that I was a young man who had a discerning spirit; whereupon many came to me from far and near, professors, priests, and people. The Lord's power broke forth, and I had great openings and prophecies, and spoke unto them of the things of God, which they heard with attention and silence, and went away and spread the fame thereof. Then came the tempter and set upon me again, charging me, that I had sinned against the holy ghost [Mat 12:31f]; but I could not tell in what. Then Paul's condition came before me, how after he had been taken up into the third heavens, and seen things not lawful to be uttered, a messenger of satan was sent to buffet him [2 Cor 12:2-7]. Thus by the power of Christ I got over that temptation also.
In the year 1648, as I was sitting in a Friend's house in Nottinghamshire, (for by this time the power of God had opened the hearts of some to receive the word of life and reconciliation [1 Jn 1:1 / 2 Cor 5:19,) I saw there was a great crack to go throughout the earth, and a great smoke to go as the crack went, and that after the crack there should be a great shaking. This was the earth in people's hearts, which was to be shaken [Heb 12:26f] before the seed of God was raised out of the earth. And it was so; for the Lord's power began to shake them, and great meetings we began to have, and a mighty power and work of God there was amongst people, to the astonishment of both people and priests.
There was a meeting of priests and professors at a justice's house, and I went among them. Here they discoursed how Paul said, ‘he had not known sin but by the law [Rom 7:7], which said, thou shalt not lust:’ and they held that to be spoken of the outward law. But I told them, Paul spoke that after he was convinced; for he had the outward law before, and was bred up in it, when he was in the lust of persecution; but this was the law of God in his mind which he served [Rom 7:25], which the law in his members warred against [Rom 7:23]: for that which he thought had been life to him, proved death. So the more sober of the priests and professors yielded, and consented that it was not the outward law, but the inward, which showed the inward lust which Paul spake of after he was convinced; for the outward law took hold of the outward action, but the inward law of the inward lust.
After this I went again to Mansfield, where was a great meeting of professors and people: and I was moved to pray; and the Lord's power was so great, that the house seemed to be shaken [Acts 4:31]. When I had done, some of the professors <23> said, ‘It was now as in the days of the apostles, when the house was shaken where they were.’ After I had prayed, <82> one of the professors would pray; which brought deadness and a veil over them [2 Cor 3:13-16]. Others of the professors were grieved at him, and told him, ‘it was a temptation upon him.’ Then he came to me, and desired that I would pray again; but I could not pray in man's will.
Soon after there was another great meeting of professors, and a captain named Amor Stoddard came in. They were discoursing of the blood of Christ. And as they were discoursing of it, I saw through the immediate opening of the invisible spirit, the blood of Christ; and I cried out among them, saying, ‘Do ye not see the blood of Christ? See it in your hearts, to sprinkle your hearts and consciences from dead works, to serve the living God [Heb 10:22/9:14.’ For I saw it, the blood of the new covenant [Luk 22:20?], how it came into the heart. This startled the professors, who would have the blood only without them, and not in them. But captain Stoddard was reached, and said, ‘Let the youth speak, hear the youth speak;’ when he saw they endeavoured to bear me down with many words.
There were also a company of priests, that were looked upon to be tender; one of their names was Kellet, and several tender people went to hear them. I was moved to go after them, and bid them mind the Lord's teaching in their inward parts. That priest Kellet was against parsonages then: but afterwards he got a great one, and turned a persecutor.
Now after I had some service in these parts, I went through Derbyshire into my own country Leicestershire again, and several tender people were convinced. Passing thence, I met with a great company of professors in Warwickshire, who were praying and expounding the scriptures in the fields. They gave the bible to me, and I opened it on the fifth of Matthew, where Christ expounded the law; and I opened the inward state to them, and outward state; upon which they fell into a fierce contention, and parted: but the Lord's power got ground. <24>
Then I heard of a great meeting to be at Leicester for a dispute, wherein Presbyterians, Independents, Baptists, and common-prayermen, were said to be all concerned. The meeting was in a steeple-house; and thither I was moved by the Lord God to go, and be amongst them. I heard their discourse and reasonings, some being in pews, and the priest in the pulpit, abundance of people being gathered together. At last one woman asked a question out of Peter, what that birth was, viz. a being ‘born again of incorruptible seed, by the word of God, that liveth and abideth for ever [1 Pet 1:23]?’ The priest said to her, ‘I permit not a woman to speak in the church [1 Cor 14:34];’ though he had before given liberty for any to speak. Whereupon I was wrapt up as in a rapture, in the Lord's power; and I stepped up, and asked the priest, ‘Dost thou call this place (the steeple-house) a church? or dost thou call this mixed <83> multitude [Num 11:4] a church?’ For the woman asking a question, he ought to have answered it, having given liberty for any to speak. But instead of answering me, he asked me, what a church was? I told him, the church was the pillar and ground of truth [1 Tim 3:15], made up of living stones, living members, a spiritual household [1 Pet 2:5], which Christ was the head of [Eph 5:23]: but he was not the head of a mixed multitude, or of an old house made up of lime, stones, and wood.
[This set them all on fire. <NJ substitutes: Then I spoke how that the Church was in God the father of our Lord Jesus Christ [1 Th 1:1], and what the woman was that was not to speak, and what the woman was that might prophesy and speak; and it broke them all to pieces and confused them, and they all turned against me into jangling [1 Tim 1:6]. >]
The priest came down from his pulpit, and others out of their pews, and the dispute there was marred. But I went to a great inn and there disputed the thing with the priests and professors of all sorts, and they were all on <25> fire. But I maintained the true church, and the true head thereof, over the heads of them all, till they all gave out and fled away. One man seemed loving, and appeared for awhile to join with me; but he soon turned against me, and joined with a priest, in pleading for infant baptism, though he himself had been a Baptist before; so he left me alone. Howbeit, there were several convinced that day; and the woman that asked the question was convinced, and her family: and the Lord's power and glory shined over all.
After this I returned into Nottinghamshire again, and went into the Vale of Beavor. As I went, I preached repentance to the people: and there were many convinced in the Vale of Beavor in many towns; for I staid some weeks amongst them. One morning, as I was sitting by the fire, a great cloud came over me, and a temptation beset me; and I sat still. And it was said, ‘All things come by nature.’ And the elements and stars [Gal 4:9f?] came over me, so that I was in a manner quite clouded with it. But as I sat still and said nothing, the people of the house perceived nothing. And as I sat still under it and let it alone, a living hope and a true voice arose in me, which said, ‘There is a living God who made all things.’ Immediately the cloud and temptation vanished away, and life rose over it all; my heart was glad, and I praised the living God.
After some time I met with some people who had such a notion that there was no God, but that all things come by nature. And I had a great dispute with them, and overturned them, and made some of them confess, that there is a living God. Then I saw that it was good that I had gone through that exercise. We had great meetings in those parts; for the power of the Lord broke through in that side of the country.
Returning into Nottinghamshire, I found there a company of shattered Baptists, and others. The Lord's power wrought mightily, and gathered many of them. <26> Afterwards I went to Mansfield and there-away; where the Lord's power was wonderfully manifested both at Mansfield, and other towns thereabouts. In Derbyshire the mighty power of God wrought in a wonderful manner. At Eton, a town near Derby, there was a meeting of Friends, where appeared such a mighty <84> power of God that they were greatly shaken, and many mouths were opened in the power of the Lord God. And many were moved by the Lord to go to steeple-houses, to the priests, and to the people, to declare the everlasting truth unto them.
At a certain time when I was at Mansfield there was a sitting of the justices about hiring servants; and it was upon me from the Lord to go and speak to the justices, that they should not oppress the servants in their wages [Mal 3:5]. So I walked towards the inn where they sat; but finding a company of fiddlers there, I did not go in, but thought to come in the morning, when I might have a more serious opportunity to discourse with them, not thinking that a seasonable time. But when I came again in the morning, they were gone, and I was struck even blind, that I could not see. I inquired of the innkeeper, where the justices were to sit that day? He told me, at a town eight miles off. And my sight began to come to me again; and I went and ran thitherward as fast as I could. When I was come to the house where they were, and many servants with them, I exhorted the justices not to oppress the servants in their wages, but to do that which was right and just to them; and I exhorted the servants to do their duties, and serve honestly, &c. They all received my exhortation kindly, for I was moved of the Lord therein.
Moreover, I was moved to go to several courts and steeple-houses at Mansfield and other places, to warn them to leave off oppression and oaths, and to turn from deceit to the Lord, and do justly [Mic 6:8]. Particularly at Mansfield, after I had been at a court there, I was moved to go and speak to one of the wickedest men in the country, <27> one who was a common drunkard, a noted whoremaster, and a rhyme-maker; and I reproved him, in the dread of the mighty God, for his evil courses. When I had done speaking, and left him he came after me, and told me, he was so smitten when I spake to him, that he had scarce any strength left in him. So this man was convinced, turned from his wickedness, and remained an honest, sober man, to the astonishment of the people who had known him before.
Thus the work of the Lord went forward, and many were turned from darkness to light [Acts 26:18], within the compass of these three years, 1646, 1647, and 1648. Divers meetings of Friends, in several places, were then gathered to God's teaching, by his light, spirit, and power: for the Lord's power broke forth daily more and more wonderfully.
Now was I come up in spirit, through the flaming sword, into the paradise of God [Gen 3:24]. All things were new [Rev 21:5], and all the creation gave another smell unto me than before, beyond what words can utter. I knew nothing but pureness, innocency, and righteousness, being renewed up into the image of God by Christ Jesus [Col 3:10]; so that I was come up to the <85> state of Adam, which he was in before he fell. The creation was open to me; and it was showed me, how all things had their names given them, according to their nature and virtue. I was at a stand in my mind, whether I should practise physic for the good of mankind, seeing the nature and virtues of the creatures were so opened to me by the Lord. But I was immediately taken up in spirit, to see into another or more steadfast state than Adam's in innocency, even into a state in Christ Jesus, that should never fall. And the Lord showed me, that such as were faithful to him, in the power and light of Christ, should come up into that state in which Adam was before he fell; in which the admirable works of the creation, and the virtues thereof may be known, through the openings of that divine word of wisdom and power by which they were made. Great things did the Lord <28> lead me into, and wonderful depths were opened unto me, beyond what can by words be declared; but as people come into subjection to the spirit of God, and grow up in the image and power of the Almighty, they may receive the word of wisdom [1 Cor 12:8] that opens all things, and come to know the hidden unity in the Eternal Being.
Thus travelled I on in the Lord's service, as he led me. When I came to Nottingham, the mighty power of God was there among Friends. From thence I went to Clauson, in Leicestershire, in the vale of Beavor, and the mighty power of God appeared there also, in several towns and villages where Friends were gathered. While I was there, the Lord opened to me three things, relating to those three great professions in the world, physic, divinity, (so called,) and law. He showed me, that the physicians were out of the wisdom of God, by which the creatures were made; and knew not the virtues of the creatures, because they were out of the word of wisdom, by which they were made [John 1:3]. And he showed me that the priests were out of the true faith, which Christ is the author of [Heb 12:2]; the faith which purifies [Acts 15:9], gives victory [1 Jn 5:4], and brings people to have access to God [Rom 5:2], by which they please God [Heb 11:6]; the mystery of which faith is held in a pure conscience [1 Tim 3:5]. He showed me also, that the lawyers were out of the equity, out of the true justice, and out of the law of God, which went over the first transgression, and over all sin, and answered the spirit of God, that was grieved and transgressed in man. And that these three, the physicians, the priests, and the lawyers, ruled the world out of the wisdom, out of the faith, and out of the equity and law of God; the one pretending the cure of the body, the other the cure of the soul, and the third the protection of the property of the people. But I saw they were all out of the wisdom, out of the faith, out of the equity and perfect law of God [Psa 19:7].
And as the Lord opened these things unto me, I felt his power went forth over of all, by which all might be reformed, if they would receive and bow unto it. <86> The priests might be reformed, and brought into the true faith, <29> which is the gift of God [Eph 2:8]. The lawyers might be reformed, and brought into the law of God, which answers that of God, which is transgressed, in every one, and brings to love one's neighbour as himself [Lev 19:18]. This lets man see, if he wrongs his neighbour, he wrongs himself; and this teaches him to do unto others as he would they should do unto him [Mat 7:12]. The physicians might be reformed, and brought into the wisdom of God [1 Cor 1:24], by which all things were made and created [Wis 7:22, Psa 104:24]; that they might receive a right knowledge of the creatures, and understand the virtues of them, which the word of wisdom, by which they were made and are upheld [Heb 1:2f], hath given them. Abundance was opened concerning these things; how all lay out of the wisdom of God, and out of the righteousness and holiness that man at the first was made in [Eph 4:24]. But as all believe in the light [John 12:36], and walk in the light [1 Jn 1:7] which Christ hath enlightened every man that cometh into the world withal [John 1:9], and so become children of the light, and of the day [John 12:36/1 Th 5:5] of Christ; in his day all things are seen, visible and invisible, by the divine light of Christ, the spiritual heavenly man [1 Cor 15:45-47], by whom all things were made [John 1:3] and created.
I saw concerning the priests, that although they stood in the deceit, and acted by the dark power which both they and their people were kept under; yet they were not the greatest deceivers spoken of in the scriptures, for they were not come so far as many of these had come. But the Lord opened to me who the greatest deceivers were, and how far they might come; even such as came as far as Cain, to hear the voice of God [Gen 4; Cain/Corah/Balaam, Jude 1:11]; such as came out of Egypt, and through the Red Sea [Exo 14], to praise God on the banks of the sea-shore [Exo 15:19]; such as could speak by experience of God's miracles and wonders; such as were come as far as Corah, Dathan, and their company [Num 16]; such as were come as far as Balaam [Num 22-24], who could speak the word of the Lord, who heard his voice and knew it, and knew his spirit, and could see the star of Jacob [Num 24:17], and the goodliness of Israel's tent [Num 24:5]; the second birth, which no enchantment could prevail against [Num 23:23]; these that could speak so much of their experiences of God, and yet turned from the spirit and the word, and went into the gainsaying [Jude 1:11], these were and would be the great deceivers, <30> far beyond the priests. Likewise among Christians, such as should preach in Christ's name, should work miracles, cast out devils [Mat 7:22f], and go as far as a Cain, a Corah, and a Balaam [Jude 1:11] in the gospel times: these were and would be the great deceivers. They that could speak some experiences of Christ and God, but lived not in the life, these were they that led the world after them, who got the form of godliness, but denied the power [2 Tim 3:5]; who inwardly ravened from the spirit [Mat 7:15], and brought people into the form, but persecuted them that were in the power, as Cain did; and ran greedily after the error of Balaam, through covetousness, <87> loving the wages of unrighteousness, as Balaam did [2 Pet 2:15]. These followers of Cain, Corah, and Balaam, have brought the world, since the apostles’ days to be like a sea. Such as these I saw might deceive now, as they did in former ages; but it is impossible for them to deceive the elect [Mat 24:24], who were chosen in Christ, who was before the world began, and before the deceiver was: though others may be deceived in their openings and prophecies, not keeping their minds to the Lord Jesus Christ, who doth open and reveal to his.
I saw the state of those, both priests and people, who, in reading the scriptures, cry out much against Cain, Esau, Judas, and other wicked men of former times, mentioned in the holy scriptures; but do not see the nature of Cain, of Esau, of Judas, and those others, in themselves. These said, it was they, they, they, that were the bad people; putting it off from themselves: but when some of these came, with the light and spirit of truth, to see into themselves, then they came to say, I, I, I, it is I myself, that have been the Ishmael, the Esau, &c. For then they saw the nature of wild Ishmael [Gen 16:12] in themselves; the nature of Cain, Esau, Corah, Baalam, and of the son of perdition [John 17:12, 2 Th 2:3] in themselves, sitting above all that is called God [2 Th 2:4] in them.
So I saw, it was the fallen man that was got up into the scriptures, and was finding fault with those before mentioned; and with the backsliding Jews, calling them the sturdy oaks, tall cedars, fat bulls of Bashan, wild heifers [Zech 11:2/Isa 2:13/Jer 50:11/Ezek 39:18], vipers, serpents [Mat 23:33], &c. and charging them, that it was they that closed their eyes, stopped their ears, hardened their hearts, and were dull of hearing [Isa 6:9f]; that it was they that hated the light [John 3:20], rebelled against it [Job 24:13], quenched the spirit, vexed and grieved it [1 Th 5:19/Isa 63:10/Eph 4:30], walked despitefully against the spirit of grace [Heb 10:29], and turned the grace of God into wantonness [Jude 1:4]; that it was they that resisted <31> the holy ghost [Acts 7:52], got the form of godliness, and turned against the power [2 Tim 3:5]: and that they were the inwardly ravening wolves who had got the sheep's clothing [Mat 7:15]; and that they were the wells without water, clouds without rain, trees without fruit, &c. [w Pet 2:17/Jude 1:12] But when these, who were so much taken up with finding fault with others, and thought themselves clear from these things, came to look into themselves, and with the light of Christ thoroughly to search themselves, they might see enough of this in themselves; then the cry could not be, it is he or they, but I and we are found in these conditions.
I saw also how people read the scriptures without a right sense of them, and without duly applying them to their own states. For when they read, that death reigned from Adam to Moses [Rom 5:14]; that the law and the prophets were until John [Mat 11:13]; and that the least in the kingdom is greater than John [Mat 11:11]; they read these things without them, and applied them to others, (and the things were true of others,) but they did not turn in to find the truth of these things in themselves. As these things <88> were opened in me, I saw death reigned over them from Adam to Moses [Rom 5:14]; from the entrance into transgression, till they came to the ministration of condemnation [2 Cor 3:9], which restrains people from sin that brings death. When the ministration of Moses is passed through, the ministry of the prophets comes to be read and understood, which reaches through the figures, types, and shadows unto John, the greatest prophet born of a woman [Mat 11:11]; whose ministration prepares the way of the Lord, by bringing down the exalted mountains, and making straight paths [Isa 40:3f, Luk 3:4f]. As this ministration is passed through, an entrance comes to be known into the everlasting kingdom [2 Pet 2:11].
I saw plainly, that none could read Moses aright without Moses's spirit, by which he saw how man was in the image of God in paradise [Gen 1:26f], how he fell, how death came over him, and how all men have been under this death [Rom 5:12]. I saw how Moses received the pure law, that went over all transgressors; and how the clean beasts, which were figures and types, were offered up, when the people were come into the righteous law that went over the first transgression. Moses and the prophets saw through the types and figures, and beyond them, and saw Christ the great prophet, that was to come to fulfil them. <32>
I saw that none could read John's words [see below: Isa 40:3-5, Luk 3:4-6] aright, and with a true understanding of them, but in and with the same divine spirit by which John spake them; and by his burning, shining light [John 5:35] which is sent from God [John 1:6]. For by that spirit their crooked natures might be made straight, their rough natures smooth [Isa 40:4], and the exacter and violent doer in them might be cast out; and those that had been hypocrites, might come to bring forth fruits meet for repentance [Mat 3:8], and their mountain of sin and earthliness might be laid low, and their valley exalted in them, that there might be a way prepared for the Lord in them [Isa 40:3f]: and then the least in the kingdom is greater than John [Mat 11:11]. But all must first know the voice crying in the wilderness [Isa 40:3] in their hearts, which through transgression were become as a wilderness. Thus I saw it was an easy matter to say, death reigned from Adam to Moses; and that the law and the prophets were until John; and that the least in the kingdom is greater than John; but none could know how death reigned from Adam to Moses, &c. but by the same holy spirit which Moses, the prophets, and John were in. They could not know the spiritual meaning of Moses, the prophets, and John's words, nor see their path and travels, much less to see through them, and to the end of them into the kingdom, unless they had the spirit and light of Jesus; nor could they know the words of Christ and of his apostles without his spirit. But as man comes through by the spirit and power of God to Christ, (who fulfils the types, figures, shadows, promises, and prophecies that were of him,) and is led by the holy ghost into the truth [John 16:13] and substance <89> of the scriptures, sitting down in him who is the author and end of them [Heb 12:2], then are they read and understood with profit [2 Tim 3:16] and great delight.
Moreover, the Lord God let me see, when I was brought up into his image in righteousness and holiness, and into the paradise of God [Rev 2:7], the state, how Adam was made a living soul [Gen 2:7]; and also the stature of Christ, the mystery that had been hid from ages and generations [Col 1:26]: which things are hard to be uttered [Heb 5:11], and cannot be borne by many. For of all the sects in Christendom (so called) that I discoursed withal, I found none that could bear to be told, that any should come to Adam's perfection, into that image of God, and righteousness and holiness that Adam was in before he fell; to be clear and pure without sin as he was. Therefore, how should they be able to bear being told, that any should grow up to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ [Eph 4:13], when they cannot bear to hear that any <33> shall come, whilst upon earth, into the same power and spirit that the prophets and apostles were in? Though it be a certain truth, that none can understand their writings aright, without the same spirit by which they were written.
The Lord God opened to me by his invisible power, how that ‘every man was enlightened by the divine light of Christ.[John 1:9]’ I saw it shine through all, and that they that believed in it came out of condemnation to the light of life [John 8:12], and became the children of it [John 12:36]; but they that hated it, and did not believe in it, were condemned by it [John 3:19f], though they made a profession of Christ. This I saw in the pure openings of the light without the help of any man; neither did I then know where to find it in the scriptures; though afterwards, searching the scriptures, I found it. For I saw in that light and spirit which was before the scriptures were given forth, and which led the holy men of God to give them forth [2 Pet 1:21], that all must come to that spirit, if they would know God or Christ, or the scriptures aright, which they that gave them forth were led and taught by.
But I observed a dullness and drowsy heaviness upon people [Isa 6:9f], which I wondered at; for sometimes, when I would set myself to sleep, my mind went over all to the beginning, in that which is from everlasting to everlasting [Psa 90:2]: I saw death was to pass over this sleepy, heavy state, and I told people they must come to witness death to that sleepy, heavy nature, and a cross to it in the power of God, that their minds and hearts might be on things above [Col 3:2].
On a certain time, as I was walking in the fields, the Lord said unto me, ‘ Thy name is written in the Lamb's book of life, which was before the foundation of the world [Rev 13:8]:’ and as the Lord spoke it, I believed and saw it in the new birth. Some time after, the Lord commanded me to go abroad into the world which was like a briery, thorny wilderness [Isa 14:17/Judg 8:7]. When I came, in the Lord's mighty power, with the word of life into <90> the world, the world swelled and made a noise like the great raging waves of the sea [Isa 17:12/Jude 1:13]. Priests and professors, magistrates and people, were all <34> like a sea [Rev 17:15], when I came to proclaim the day of the Lord [Joel 2:1] amongst them, and to preach repentance [Mark 1:4 | Luk 3:3] to them.
I was sent to turn people from darkness to the light [Acts 26:18], that they might receive Christ Jesus; for to as many as should receive him in his light, I saw he would give power to become the sons of God [John 1:12]; which I had obtained by receiving Christ. I was to direct people to the spirit, that gave forth the scriptures, by which they might be led into all truth [John 16:13], and so up to Christ and God, as those had been who gave them forth. I was to turn them to the grace of God, and to the truth in the heart, which came by Jesus [John 1:17]; that by this grace they might be taught, which would bring them salvation [Tit 2:11f], that their hearts might be established by it [Heb 13:9], their words might be seasoned [Col 4:6], and all might come to know their salvation nigh. For I saw that Christ had died for all men [2 Cor 5:15, was a propitiation for all [1 Jn 2:2], and had enlightened all men and woman with his divine and saving light; and that none could be true believers, but those that believed in it. I saw that the grace of God, which brings salvation, had appeared to all men [Tit 2:11], and that the manifestation of the spirit of God was given to every man, to profit withal [1 Cor 12:7]. These things I did not see by the help of man, nor by the letter, though they are written in the letter; but I saw them in the light of the Lord Jesus Christ, and by his immediate spirit and power, as did the holy men of God by whom the holy scriptures were written [2 Pet 1:21]. Yet I had no slight esteem of the holy scriptures, they were very precious to me; for I was in that spirit by which they were given forth; and what the Lord opened in me, I afterwards found was agreeable to them. I could speak much of these things, and many volumes might be written; but all would prove too short to set forth the infinite love, wisdom, and power of God, in preparing, fitting, and furnishing me for the service he had appointed me to; letting me see the depths of satan, on the one hand, and opening to me, on the other hand, the divine mysteries of his own everlasting kingdom. [Mat 13:11/Psa 145:13]
When the Lord God and his son Jesus Christ <35> sent me forth into the world to preach his everlasting gospel [Rev 14:6] and kingdom, I was glad that I was commanded to turn people to that inward light, spirit, and grace, by which all might know their salvation and their way to God; even that divine spirit which would lead them into all truth [John 16:13], and which I infallibly knew would never deceive any. But with and by this divine power and spirit of God, and the light of Jesus, I was to bring people off from all their own ways, to Christ the new and living way [Heb 10:20]; from their churches, which men had made and gathered, to the church in God, the general assembly written in heaven, [Heb 12:23] <91> which Christ is the head of [Eph 5:23]; and off from the world's teachers made by men, to learn of Christ [Mat 11:29], who is the way, the truth, and the life [John 14:6], of whom the Father said, ‘This is my beloved son, hear ye him [Mat 17:5];’ and off from all the world's worships, to know the spirit of truth in the inward parts [John 14:17/Psa 51:6], and to be led thereby, that in it they might worship the Father of spirits [Heb 12:9], who seeks such to worship him [John 4:23]; which spirit they that worshipped not in, knew not what they worshipped [John 4:22].
I was to bring people off from all the world's religions, which are in vain; that they might know the pure religion, might visit the fatherless, the widows, and the strangers, and keep themselves from the spots of the world [Jas 1:26f]: then there would not be so many beggars; the sight of whom often grieved my heart, as it denoted so much hardheartedness amongst those that professed the name of Christ. I was to bring them off from all the world's fellowships, prayings, and singings, which stood in forms without power [2 Tim 3:5], that their fellowship might be in the holy ghost, the eternal spirit of God; that they might pray in the holy ghost [Jude 1:20], sing in the spirit [1 Cor 14:15], and with the grace that comes by Jesus [John 1:17]; making melody in their hearts to the Lord [Eph 5:19], who hath sent his beloved son to be their saviour, caused his heavenly sun to shine upon all the world, and through them all; and his heavenly rain to fall upon the just and the unjust [Mat 5:45], (as his outward rain doth fall, and his outward sun doth shine on all,) which is God's unspeakable love to the world. <36>
I was to bring people off from Jewish ceremonies, from heathenish fables [Tit 1:14?], from men's inventions and windy doctrines, by which they blowed the people about [Eph 4:14], this way and the other way, from sect to sect; and from all their beggarly rudiments [Gal 4:9GB], with their schools and colleges, for making ministers of Christ, who are indeed ministers of their own making, but not of Christ's; and from all their images, crosses, and sprinkling of infants, with all their holy-days, (so called,) and all their vain traditions [Col 2:8, 1 Pet 1:18], which they had got up since the apostles’ days, which the Lord's power was against. In the dread and authority thereof was I moved to declare against them all, and against all that preached and not freely, as being such who had not received freely from Christ [Mat 10:8].
Moreover, when the Lord sent me into the world, he forbade me to put off my hat to any, high or low; and I was required to thee and thou all men and women, without any respect to rich or poor, great or small [Jas 2:1-9]. And as I travelled up and down, I was not to bid people ‘good morrow,’ or ‘good evening,’ neither might I bow or scrape with my leg to any one. This made the sects and professions rage. But the Lord's power carried me over all to his glory, and many came to be turned to God in a little time; for the heavenly day of the Lord sprang from on high [Luk 1:78], and broke forth apace; by the light of which many came to see where they were. <92>
But Oh! the rage that was in the priests, magistrates, professors, and people of all sorts; but especially in priests and professors: for though ‘thou’ to a single person was according to their accidence and grammar rules, and according to the bible, yet they could not bear to hear it; and because I could not put off my hat to them, it set them all into a rage. But the Lord showed me that it was an honour below, which he would lay in the dust [Psa 7:5] and stain [Isa 23:9]; an honour which proud flesh looked for, but sought not the honour which comes from God only [John 5:44]. That it was an honour invented by men in the fall and in the alienation from God [Eph 4:18], who <37> were offended if it was not given them; yet would be looked upon as saints, church-members, and great christians: but Christ saith, ‘How can ye believe, who receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only?’ ‘And I (saith Christ) receive not honour of men [John 5:41].’ Showing that men have an honour which they will receive and give, but Christ will have none of it. This is the honour which Christ will not receive, and which must be laid in the dust. Oh! the scorn, heat, and fury that arose! Oh! the blows, punchings, beatings, and imprisonments that we underwent for not putting off our hats to men! For that soon tried all men's patience and sobriety, what it was. Some had their hats violently plucked off and thrown away, so that they quite lost them. The bad language and evil usage we received on this account is hard to be expressed, besides the danger we were sometimes in of losing our lives for this matter, and that by the great professors of christianity, who thereby discovered they were not true believers. And though it was but a small thing in the eye of man, yet a wonderful confusion it brought among all professors and priests; but, blessed be the Lord, many came to see the vanity of that custom of putting off the hat to men, and felt the weight of truth's testimony against it.
About this time I was sorely exercised in going to their courts to cry for justice; in speaking and writing to judges and justices to do justly [Mic 6:8]; in warning such as kept public houses for entertainment, that they should not let people have more drink than would do them good; and in testifying against wakes, feasts, may-games, sports, plays, and shows, which trained up people to vanity and looseness, and led them from the fear of God: and the days set forth for holiness were usually the times wherein they most dishonoured God by these things. In fairs also, and in markets, I was made to declare against their deceitful merchandise, cheating, and cozening; warning all to deal justly, to speak the truth, <38> to let their yea be yea, and their nay be nay [Mat 5:37], and to do unto others as they would have others do unto them [Mat 7:12]; forewarning them of the great and terrible day of the Lord [Joel 2:31], which would come upon them all. I was moved also to cry against all sorts of music, and against the mountebanks <93> playing tricks on their stages; for they burdened the pure life, and stirred up people's minds to vanity.
I was much exercised too with schoolmasters and schoolmistresses, warning them to teach children sobriety in the fear of the Lord, that they might not be nursed and trained up in lightness, vanity, and wantonness. I was made to warn masters and mistresses, fathers and mothers, in private families, to take care that their children and servants might be trained up in the fear of the Lord [Prov 22:6/Psa 34:11], and that themselves should be therein examples and patterns of sobriety and virtue to them. For I saw that as the Jews were to teach their children the law of God, the old covenant, and to train them up in it, and their servants, yea the very strangers were to keep the sabbath [Exo 20:10] among them, and be circumcised, before they might eat of their sacrifices [Exo 12:48]; so all that made a profession of christianity ought to train up their children and servants in the new covenant of light [Isa 42:6], Christ Jesus, who is God's salvation to the ends of the earth [Acts 13:47], that all may know their salvation. And they ought to train them up in the law of life, the law of the spirit [Rom 8:2], the law of love and of faith [Rom 3:27], that they might be made free from the law of sin and death [Rom 8:2]. And all christians ought to be circumcised by the spirit [Rom 2:29], which puts off the body of the sins of the flesh [Col 2:11], that they may come to eat of the heavenly sacrifice, Christ Jesus, that true spiritual food [1 Cor 10:3f], which none can rightly feed upon but they that are circumcised by the spirit. Likewise I was exercised about the star-gazers [Isa 47:13], who drew people's minds from Christ, the bright and the morning-star [Rev 22:16], and from the sun of righteousness [Mal 4:2], by whom the sun, moon, and stars, and all things else were made, who is the wisdom of God [1 Cor 1:24], from whom the right knowledge of all things is received. <39>
But the black earthly spirit of the priests wounded my life: and when I heard the bell toll to call people together to the steeple-house, it struck at my life; for it was just like a market-bell to gather people together, that the priest might set forth his ware to sale. Oh! the vast sums of money that are got by the trade they make of selling the scriptures [2 Cor 2:17G], and by their preaching, from the highest bishop to the lowest priest! What one trade else in the world is comparable to it? notwithstanding the scriptures were given forth freely, Christ commanded his ministers to preach freely [Mat 10:8], and the prophets and apostles denounced judgment against all covetous hirelings and diviners for money [Mic 3:11]. But in this free spirit of the Lord Jesus was I sent forth to declare the word of life [1 Jn 1:1,3] and reconciliation [2 Cor 5:19] freely, that all might come to Christ, who gives freely, and renews up into the image of God [Col 3:10], which man and woman were in before they fell, that they might sit down in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus [Eph 2:6].
[End of GFJN Ch II]
This page added July 2006