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till Charles II. issued his letters patent for the general discharge of the quakers from prison, in 1672. Supported by consciousness of a good cause, and patient acquiescence in the divine disposals, he held his integrity to the last.*
In 1684 died William Bennet, of Woodbridge in Suffolk, a man of a religious turn of mind from his infancy, which, as he grew up, led him to associate with the strictest professors. His first connections were among the independents ; he then joined the quakers, and continued a steady, serviceable, and honorable member of their society till bis death. He travelled in the exercise of his min, istry, edifying his friends and making converts, through many parts of England, adorning his character by the innocence and integrity of his life, so as to gain universal esteem, and to extort from his adversaries an acknowledgment of his personal merit. Yet his sufferings were remarkable; he appears to have spent, at least in the latter part of his life, nearly as much if not more time in prison, than in the enjoyment of his liberty ; till growing weaker and weaker, by close and continued confinement, he fell a sacrifice to the sentence of partial magistrates, and the forced construction of unequal laws. · This year died, also, in Carlisle gaol, Thomas Stordy, descended from a family of repute in Cumberland, and born to the inheritance of an handsome estate, Abont middle age he became seriously thoughtful, in the pursuit of pure religion. He first joined the independents, among whom his talents, in exhortations and religious exercises, were highly esteemed. After some time he left them, and con. nected bimself with the quakers; in this society he spent the remainder of his life, respected in his neighborhood as a man of circumspect, sober, and temperate demeanor, upright in his dealings, obliging in bis disposition, hospitable in his house, and liberally charitable to the poor around him. But this honest, respectable citizen was harrassed by prosecution upon prosecution, and penalty opon penal. ty; he was detained a close prisoner at Carlisle, under a proemunire, till released by the king's declaration in 1672, He was fined for a meeting, when he was under restraint several miles from it. On the statute of the 23d of Eliza.
* Gough, vol. ii. p. 554–557. Vol. V.
beth, he was cast into gaol, and confined there several years, till his death. Not long before his decease, being visited by some of his friends, he encouraged them to faithfulness in these words : “ If you continue faithful unto the Lord wbilst you live in this world, he will reward you, as he now rewards me, with his sweet peace.” He was so confident in his opinion concerning tithes, that he not only refused to pay, but to receive them ; for inheriting from his ancestors an impropriation of 10l. per annum, he quitted all claim to it for himself, bis heirs and assigns for ever, and by a legal instrument released the owners of the lands from wbence the tithes accrued. *
Another eminent minister and member of this society, who finished an useful life, this year, was William Gibson of London. He was born at Caton in Lancashire, in 1629, and, in the civil wars, enlisted as a soldier. Being in the garrison at Carlisle, he went to a quakers' meeting, with three of his comrades, to insalt and abuse the preacher; arriving at the place before his companions, after the minister had begun, he was so impressed and affected, that, instead of executing his purpose, he stept up near to the preacher to defend him from insult, if it should be offered. From that time he frequented the meetings of the society, soon quitted bis military employment, and after three years became a preacber. In 1662 he married and settled near Warrington, and his ministry, while resident in that country, was very successful; and on his removal, he left a good report and impressions of affectionate respect to his memory. He afterwards fixed in London, where his service was conspicuous against hypocrisy, formality, and libertinism, and his circumspect conversation was a credit to bis ministry. He suffered persecution in the loss of substance by various distraints, in divers imprisonments, and in personal abuses. In Shropsbire, the gaoler would not permit his food to be taken to him, but obliged him to draw it up by a rope, and also threw him down a pair of . stone stairs, whereby his body was greatly bruised, and beat bim to that degree that he was ils near six months.He was engaged in some controversies concerning tithes; was the author of several treatises serviceable at the time,
* Gough, vol. iii. p. 34–37.
and employed a part of his time in his imprisonments in writing epistles to his friends for their edification in righteousness. He died, recommending union, and exhorting to faithfulness and confidence in the Lord, at the age of 55, and his funeral was attended to Bunbill fields by many hundreds of friends and others. *
While the society derived honor, at this period, from the virtues of character, and fortitude under sufferings, of distinguished members, it was greatly indebted to the able writings of Penn and Barclay. The former, the year before the king's declaration, 1671, employed the time of his confinement in prison, in writing “ The great cause of Lib. erty of Conscience briefly debated and defended ;" and several other pieces. In 1675, on account of the divisions and animosities prevailing in the nation, he published a treatise, entitled “ England's Present Interest considered;" to shew the consistency of a general liberty of conscience with the peace of the kingdom; and the remedies which be proposes to be adopted for allaying the heat of contrary interests were “ an inviolable and impartial maintenance of English rights; our superiors governing them. selves upon a balance, as near as may be, towards the sev. eral religious interests ; and a sincere promotion of general and practical religion.” Solid reasoning and a multitude of authorities are employed to support these propositions, which form the ground-work of the treatise: “a work" says Gough, “ wherein the liberal charity of real christianity, and the candid spirit of genuine patriotism, are eminently conspicuous." The Preface, addressed to the higher powers, exhibits a pathetic representation of the se. verities of the times; when to see the imprisoned was crime enough for a jail ; to visit the sick to make a conventicle : when whole barns of corn were seized, thrashed, and carried away; parents left without their children ; children without their parents, and both without subsist
But that which aggravates the cruelty," he adds, “ is, the widow's mite hath not escaped their hands; they have made her cow the forfeiture of her conscience, not Jeaving her a bed to lie on, nor a blanket to cover her; and what is yet more barbarous, and helps to make up this
* Gough, vol. iii. p. 134-157.
tragedy, the poor orphan's milk, boiling over the fire, hatte been flung to the dogs, and the skillet made part of the prize; so that had not nature in neighbors been stronger tban cruelty in such informers, to open her bowels for their relief and subsistence, they must have utterly perished.”. In the same year in wbich this piece appeared, Penn likewise wrote a treatise on oaths, to shew the reason for not swearing at all.*
A work of extensive and permanent celebrity came this year from the pen of Robert Barclay, entitled " An Apology for the true Christian Divinity, being an explanation and vindication of the principles and doctrines of the people called quakers.” It was prefaced with an address to king Charles II. remarkable for its plain dealing and honest simplicity, and as important, curious, and extraordinary as any part of the work. It has been admired both by our own countrymen and strangers. The work itself has been universally allowed to surpass every thing of its kind, and to set the principles of the quakers in the fair. est light possible. The author sent two copies of it to each of the public ministers, then at the famous congress of Nimeguen, where it was received with all imaginable favor and respect, and the knowledge, charity, and disiaterested probity of its author justly applauded. It was printed in Latin at Amsterdam, in 1676, and was quickly translated into High Dutch, Low Dutch, French and Spanish. As it attracted great notice, so it drew out various answers, abroad and at home; some from the pens of men, who had before gained a considerable reputation in the learned world. These replies contributed to spread and advance the fame of Barclay's work; and it is remarkable, that while these have been little regarded and sunk into oblivion, this treatise maintains its celebrity. Though it had not the desired effect of stopping the persecution against the people, in whose cause it was written, " yet it answered," as it is observed, “a more important end, by shewing, that the pretences upon wbich they were persecuted, were false and ill-grounded: and that those, who, on one side, represented them as concealed papists, and such, as on the other hand denied their being chris.
* Gough, vol. ii. p. 397-400,
tians, were equally in the wrong, and equally misled by their prejudices." The work did, in this view, great service to those of the author's persuasion ; while quakerism, which before had been looked on as an heap of extravagancies and visions, assumed in this treatise a systematic form, was reduced to fixed principles, and recommended itself to the judicious and enlightened mind. “ It was an essay," says Gough, “ to strip quakerism of the disguise in which eamity or ignorance had dressed it up, and to represent it to the world in its genuine shape and complexion. A work which, with unprejudiced readers, answered the end of its publication, and gained the author the approbation of the ingenuous in general."* It is some proof
It is some proof of the high est timation in which it hath been held, that Mr. Baskerville printed a very elegant edition of it. A Scots poet, writing of the two famous Barclays, William and John, bath concluded with these verses upon Robert :
“But, lo! a third appears, with serious air;
In 1676 Barclay published a work entitled “ The Anarchy of the Ranters and other Libertines, the hierarchy of the Romanists and other pretended churches, equally refused and refuted." This is pronounced to be a learned and excellent treatise, containing as much sound reasoning as any book of its size in ours, or perhaps in any modern language. The design of it was to vindicate the discipline established among the quakers, against those who accused
* Gough, vol. ii. p. 401-406. Biographia Britan. vol. ij. 2d ed. Article Barclay. Dictionaire des Heresies, vol. ii. p. 460 Mosheim, however, has not treated this work with candor or justice, but endeav. ors to depreciate it, and asperses the author, charging him with duplicity, and with giving a fallacious account of the principles of this society. By which he has exposed himself to the just animadversions of the historian of this society. Mosheim's Eccles. History, vol. v. p. 36, note (b) 2d ed. and Gough, ut supra.
† Biographia Brit. vol. ii. p. 602, of the 2d. edit.