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Fox. As to Samuel Fisher, he died in 1665, in prison, where he had been about a year and a half; and of about the last four years of his life, he was three years and a half in different prisons.*
As to the rules of the society, whoever will consult the printed collection of them, t will see that they have flowed from time to time from the yearly meeting itself; but much of the substance of them is to he found in Fox's epistles of 1668, and 1669, in the collection of them printed in 1698, when his memory was still fresh. Penn's account is dated 1694. Fox died in 1690.
The assertion, at page 42, line 20, that they never salute any person they meet by the way, is entirely false. False also is it, that they refuse to appear on behalf of their property before a civil tribunal. These circumstances are mentioned, untrue as they are, as proofs of an austere, stiff, proud, and formal spirit. The tame relinquishing of their property, and non-resistance of injury, are however ill adduced as a proof of stiffness; nor are the rustic simplicity of their apparel, and the frugality of their tables, mentioned just after, much better selected as instances of their pride. Such are the inconsistencies of writers who meddle with that which they do not thoroughly understand, or investigate.
One thing more is asserted respecting the elders, in these words; " It is well known that in some places these speakers, the ministers, show their discourses to the ruling elders, before they deliver them,” &c. Which the places are, is not mentioned; but this 1 may say, that such a practice is not, as Mosheim says, “ well known;" and, as one who hath been, for many years, intimately acquainted with the concerns of one large meeting, and much in the way of knowing the general practices of the body, and of those relating to ministers and elders in particular, I may add that I never knew of any such practice. It may further be noted, that the story supposes our preachers to write their discourses; a thing entirely disapproved by the society, and repugnant to our principles.
With two more gross misrepresentations I intend to close this part of my remarks on Mosheim. One is the account,
* Presatory Epistle to Fisher's works, by Ellis Hookes. + Extracts from the Minutes and Advices of the Yearly Meeting, from its first institu
tion. 4to. 1783.
that“ there are in some of the most considerable congregations, and more especially in those that are erected in London, certain persons, whose vocation it is to be always prepared to speak to the people, to prevent meetings from being wholly silent." The other is, that “these appointed speakers have a small salary.” From my long residence in London, the chief seat of this pretended provision, and personal acquaintance with all the ministers in it of our society, I can with confidence pronounce the first of these to be false ; and, being false, the latter falls of
Sections VI. to XI. inclusive, give us the author's account of Quaker Doctrines. In these sections much is marked as quotation, but without reference to any author; and is, probably, not any creed of the Quakers, but a creed for the Quakers, compiled out of the author's apprehension of their tenets. He sets out, in his career of description, with a similitude which he has found between the Quakers and the ancient Mystics ; a comparison, however, which, on the whole, does our friends no injury, although it is not drawn with perfect accuracy: For it appears from this very Ecclesiastical History, that whatever were the fạilings of the Mystics, they seem not only to have been repositories of genuine piety through the corrupt and dark ages of the church; but that in that period of it in which, says our author,* " its corruption was complete, and the abuses that it permitted were gone to the greatest height of enormity.” ' “ If any sparks of real piety subsisted," to continue the use of his own words, " they were only to be found among the Mystics. For this sect, renouncing the subtlety of the schools, the vain contentions of the learned, with all the acts and ceremonies of external worship, exhorted their followers to aim at nothing but internal sanctity of heart, and communion with God, the centre and source of perfection.”
Some of the falsehoods of the Eleventh Section, at p. 42, have been already noted: it seems therefore only, but scarcely, necessary to observe, that if we take his account of Quaker morality altogether, it will not subject its professors to censure. First he tells us, “that the faithful are to avoid every thing that tends to gratify the external
* Mosheim's History, Vol. III. p. 301. 2d Edition.
senses and passions,” this however is no tenet of the Quakers, “or," and a useful word this or is, “such pleasure is to be so modified by reason and meditation, as to prevent its debasing and corrupting the mind." This latter alternative, which I believe no Friend will disclaim, is so much like what the apostle James calls, “ to keep himself unspotted by the world,” that if the poor Quakers do but also “visit the widows and fatherless in their affliction," it will be hard for such as our author to deny, that they have arrived at the substance of true religion.
I have already testified my readiness to believe that the account of our society by Mosheim, fraught as it is with inaccuracy, may, nevertheless, not be intentionally malevolent. It is to be remembered that he lived at a distance from the places where the members of the society which he was describing had their abode; and his literary friends in England were, probably, such as were themselves but little acquainted with our principles. This I am warranted in supposing, from having frequently observed how little even some of our countrymen, with whom we daily converse, enter into an examination of our motives; which, as formerly they had the lot to be misrepresented and traduced, because our manners were dissimilar to those of the
age, and novel; so now these seem to have become too familiar to excite much curiosity respecting the principles from which they arise. We are just considered as a good sort of people in the main, who refuse to fight, and to swear, and to pay tithes; and while the improved manners of the age allow that for these, and other singularities, we ought not to be molested, the public in general cares little further about us; and seldom inquires a reason of the hope that
But the excuses which I willingly seek for Mosheim, I cannot so readily find for his translator. It behooved him when he found in his authorso distorted a portrait, to have inquired, to have seen, whether it were a true resemblance of the original; and not himself to have heightened the caricature.
Let us begin with his note respecting the character of Fox, whom he labours to represent as a man of a turbulent spirit. The first part of the note gives an account of an anonymous defender of the Quakers, who had represented Fox as a meek, contented, easy, steady man. The testimony of this author, Maclaine rejects, because he supposes him to draw his account from
is in us.
Penn, who was intimate with Fox; and from Ellwood, who had been in his company. Maclaine however chooses to refer us to Sewel, from whose history he selects three instances of Fox's opposition to Ministers in the public celebration of divine service, at Nottingham, Mansfield, and Market Bosworth. I shall not stop long to inquire whether the sermon be a part of divine service; nor to admit that Fox frequently, in the early part of his career, did promulgate his doctrines in the public places for worship; but as the passages are short, shall lay the words of Sewel before my readers. The transactions are all of the year 1649, and may therefore easily be found in any edition of Sewel. Mine is the first English one, 1722. Nottingham -he “ went away to the steeple house, where the priest took for his text these words of the apostle Peter, We have a most, probably a mistake for more,* sure word of prophecy, whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day.star arise in your hearts.' And he told the people that this was the scripture, by which they were to try all doctrines, religions, and opinions. G. Fox hearing this, felt such mighty power and godly zeal working in him that he was made to cry out, 'O! no, it is not the Scripture, but it is the Holy Spirit, by which the holy men of God gave forth the Scriptures, whereby opinions, religions, and judgments, are to be tried. That it was it, which led into all truth, and gave the knowledge thereof. For the Jews had the Scriptures, and yet resisted the Holy Ghost, and rejected Christ, the bright morning-star, and persecuted him and his apostles ; though they took upon them to try their doctrine by the Scriptures; but they erred in judgment, and did not try them aright, because they did it without the Holy Ghost.' He thus speaking, the officers came and took him away, and put him into a nasty stinking prison." Before I proceed, I would just remark how little Mosheim, when he said that the modern Quakers misapprehend the doctrines of their ancestors, &c. (see his note at page 38,) would have thanked his translator for referring to this passage. Sewel adds that the sheriff who examined Fox, (was so little apprehensive of his turbulence, that he] took him to his own house from the common prison; that he was so
* It seems by the way, not easy, in our translation, to find what constitutes the comparison, in this passage.
much affected with the interview, that he sent for a woman with whom he had traded, confessing that he had wronged her, and must make restitution; and that he and some others were moved to exhort the people to repent
Such were the effects of Fox's declaration, whether turbulent or otherwise.
The account Sewel gives of the transaction at Mansfield is this ; “ Whilst G. Foxwas in this place, he was moved to go to the steeple house, and declare there the truth to the priest and the people; which doing, the people fell on him, and struck him down, almost smothering him, for he was cruelly beaten and bruised with their hands, bibles, and sticks. Then they hauled him out, who was hardly able to stand, and put him into the stocks, where he sat some hours; and they having brought horsewhips, threatened to whip him. After some time they had him before the magistrates, at a knight's house; who, seeing how ill he had been used, set him at liberty, after much threatening. But the rude multitude stoned him out of the town." Here was certainly turbulence; but I think the passage not well adduced to prove it upon Fox.
Respecting Market Bosworth, Sewel gives this short relation; “Coming into the public place of worship, he (G.F.) found Nathaniel Stephens preaching, who was priest of the town where G. Fox was born; here G. Fox taking occasion to speak, Stephens told the people he was mad, and that they should not hear him; though he had said before to one colonel Purfoy, concerning him, that there was never such a plant bred in England. The people now being stirred up by the priest, fell upon G. Fox and his friends, and stoned them out of the town."