The Journal of George Fox

Chapter 11

In the Home of the Covenanters 1657

After I had tarried two First-days at Swarthmore, and had visited Friends in their meetings thereabouts, I passed into Westmoreland, in the same work, till I came to John Audland’s, where there was a general meeting.

The night before I had had a vision of a desperate creature that was coming to destroy me, but I got victory over it. And next day in meeting-time came one Otway, with some rude fellows. He rode round about the meeting with his sword or rapier, and would fain have got in through the Friends to me; but the meeting being great, the Friends stood close, so that he could not easily come at me. When he had ridden about several times raging, and found he could not get in, being limited by the Lord’s power, he went away.

It was a glorious meeting, ended peaceably, and the Lord’s everlasting power came over all. This wild man went home, became distracted, and not long after died. I sent a paper to John Blakelin to read to him, while he lay ill, showing him his wickedness, and he acknowledged something of it.

I had for some time felt drawings on my spirit to go into Scotland, and had sent to Colonel William Osburn of Scotland, desiring him to meet me; and he, with some others, came out of Scotland to this meeting. After it was over (which, he said, was the most glorious meeting that ever he saw in his life), I passed with him and his company into Scotland, having with me Robert Widders, a thundering man against hypocrisy, deceit, and the rottenness of the priests.

The first night we came into Scotland we lodged at an inn. The innkeeper told us an earl lived about a quarter of a mile off, who had a desire to see me; and had left word at the inn that if ever I came into Scotland, he should be told of it. The innkeeper told us there were three drawbridges to the earl’s house; and that it would be nine o’clock before the third bridge was drawn.

Finding we had time in the evening, we walked to his house. He received us very lovingly, and said he would have gone with us on our journey, but that he was before engaged to go to a funeral. After we had spent some time with him, we parted very friendly, and returned to our inn. Next morning we travelled on, and passing through Dumfries, came to Douglas, where we met with some Friends. Thence we passed to the Heads, where we had a blessed meeting in the name of Jesus, and felt Him in the midst.

Leaving Heads, we went to Badcow, and had a meeting there, to which abundance of people came, and many were convinced. Amongst them was one called a lady. From thence we passed towards the Highlands to William Osburn’s, where we gathered up the sufferings of Friends, and the principles of the Scotch priests, which may be seen in a book called “The Scotch Priests’ Principles.”

Afterwards we returned to Heads, Badcow, and Garshore, where the said lady, Margaret Hambleton, was convinced; who afterwards went to warn Oliver Cromwell and Charles Fleetwood of the day of the Lord that was coming upon them.

On First-day we had a great meeting, and several professors came to it. Now, the priests had frightened the people with the doctrine of election and reprobation, telling them that God had ordained the greatest part of men and women for hell; and that, let them pray, or preach, or sing, or do what they would, it was all to no purpose, if they were ordained for hell. Also that God had a certain number elected for heaven, let them do what they would; as David was an adulterer, and Paul a persecutor, yet still they were elected vessels for heaven. So the priests said the fault was not at all in the creature, less or more, but that God had ordained it so.

I was led to open to the people the falseness and folly of their priests’ doctrines, and showed how they, the priests, had abused those Scriptures they quoted. Now all that believe in the Light of Christ, as He commands, are in the election, and sit under the teaching of the grace of God, which brings their salvation. But such as turn this grace into wantonness, are in the reprobation; and such as hate the Light, are in the condemnation.

So I exhorted all the people to believe in the Light, as Christ commands, and to own the grace of God, their free teacher; and it would assuredly bring them their salvation; for it is sufficient. Many Scriptures were opened concerning reprobation, and the eyes of the people were opened; and a spring of life rose up among them.

These things soon came to the priest’s ears; for the people that sat under their dark teachings began to see light, and to come into the covenant of light. The noise was spread over Scotland, amongst the priests, that I was come thither; and a great cry went up among them that all would be spoiled; for, they said, I had spoiled all the honest men and women in England already; so, according to their own account, the worst were left to them.

Upon this they gathered great assemblies of priests together, and drew up a number of curses to be read in their several steeple-houses, that all the people might say “Amen” to them. Some few of these I will here set down; the rest may be read in the book before mentioned, of “The Scotch Priests’ Principles.”

The first was, “Cursed is he that saith, Every man hath a light within him sufficient to lead him to salvation; and let all the people say, Amen.”

The second, “Cursed is he that saith, Faith is without sin; and let all the people say, Amen.”

The third, “Cursed is he that denieth the Sabbath-day; and let all the people say, Amen.”

In this last they make the people curse themselves; for on the Sabbath-day (which is the seventh day of the week, which the Jews kept by the command of God to them) they kept markets and fairs, and so brought the curse upon their own heads.

Now were the priests in such a rage that they posted to Edinburgh to Oliver Cromwell’s Council there, with petitions against me. The noise was that “all was gone”; for several Friends were come out of England and spread over Scotland, sounding the day of the Lord, preaching the everlasting gospel of salvation, and turning people to Christ Jesus, who died for them, that they might receive His free teaching.

After I had gathered the principles of the Scotch priests, and the sufferings of Friends, and had seen the Friends in that part of Scotland settled by the Lord’s power, upon Christ their foundation, I went to Edinburgh, and in the way came to Linlithgow, where lodging at an inn, the innkeeper’s wife, who was blind, received the Word of life, and came under the teaching of Christ Jesus, her Saviour.

At night there came in abundance of soldiers and some officers, with whom we had much discourse; and some were rude. One of the officers said he would obey the Turk’s or Pilate’s command, if they should command him to guard Christ to crucify Him. So far was he from all tenderness, or sense of the Spirit of Christ, that he would rather crucify the just than suffer for or with them; whereas many officers and magistrates have lost their places before they would turn against the Lord and His Just One.

When I had stayed a while at Edinburgh, I went to Leith, where many officers of the army came in with their wives, and many were convinced. Among these Edward Billings’s wife was one. She brought a great deal of coral in her hand, and threw it on the table before me, to see whether I would speak against it or not. I took no notice of it, but declared the Truth to her, and she was reached. There came in many Baptists, who were very rude; but the Lord’s power came over them, so that they went away confounded.

Then there came in another sort, and one of them said he would dispute with me; and for argument’s sake would deny there was a God. I told him he might be one of those fools that said in his heart, “There is no God,” but he would know Him in the day of His judgment. So he went his way.

A precious time we had afterwards with several people of account; and the Lord’s power came over all. William Osburn was with me. Colonel Lidcot’s wife, and William Welch’s wife, and several of the officers themselves, were convinced. Edward Billings and his wife at that time lived apart; and she being reached by Truth, and become loving to Friends, we sent for her husband, who came. The Lord’s power reached unto them both, and they joined in it, and agreed to live together in love and unity as man and wife.

After this we returned to Edinburgh where many thousands were gathered together, with abundance of priests among them, about burning a witch, and I was moved to declare the day of the Lord amongst them. When I had done, I went thence to our meeting, whither came many rude people and Baptists.

The Baptists began to vaunt with their logic and syllogisms; but I was moved in the Lord’s power to thresh their chaffy, light minds. I showed the people that, after that fallacious way of discoursing, they might make white seem black, and black seem white; as, that because a cock had two legs, and each of them had two legs, therefore they were all cocks. Thus they might turn anything into lightness and vanity; but it was not the way of Christ, or His apostles, to teach, speak, or reason after that manner.

Hereupon those Baptists went their way; and after they were gone we had a blessed meeting in the Lord’s power, which was over all.

I mentioned before that many of the Scotch priests, being greatly disturbed at the spreading of Truth, and the loss of their hearers thereby, were gone to Edinburgh to petition the Council against me. When I came from the meeting to the inn where I lodged, an officer belonging to the Council brought me the following order:

“Thursday, the 8th of October, 1657, at his Highness’ Council in Scotland:

“Ordered, That George Fox do appear before the Council on Tuesday, the 13th of October next, in the forenoon.

“E. Downing, Clerk of the Council.”

When he had delivered me the order, he asked me whether I would appear or not. I did not tell him; but asked him if he had not forged the order. He said “No”; that it was a real order from the Council, and he was sent as their messenger with it.

When the time came I appeared, and was taken into a great room, where many persons came and looked at me. After awhile the doorkeeper took me into the council-chamber; and as I was going he took off my hat. I asked him why he did so, and who was there that I might not go in with my hat on. I told him I had been before the Protector with my hat on. But he hung up my hat and took me in before them.

When I had stood awhile, and they said nothing to me, I was moved of the Lord to say, “Peace be amongst you. Wait in the fear of God, that ye may receive His wisdom from above, by which all things were made and created; that by it ye may all be ordered, and may order all things under your hands to God’s glory.”

They asked me what was the occasion of my coming into that nation. I told them I came to visit the Seed of God, which had long lain in bondage under corruption, so that all in the nation who professed the Scriptures, the words of Christ, of the prophets and apostles, might come to the Light, Spirit and power, which they were in who gave them forth. I told them that in and by the Spirit they might understand the Scriptures, and know Christ and God aright, and might have fellowship with them, and one with another.

They asked me whether I had any outward business there. I said, “Nay.” Then they asked me how long I intended to stay in that country. I told them I should say little to that; my time was not to be long; yet in my freedom in the Lord I stood, in the will of Him that sent me.

Then they bade me withdraw, and the doorkeeper took me by the hand and led me forth. In a little time they sent for me again, and told me that I must depart the nation of Scotland by that day sevennight. I asked them, “Why? What have I done? What is my transgression that you pass such a sentence upon me to depart out of the nation?” They told me they would not dispute with me. I desired them to hear what I had to say to them. They said they would not hear me. I told them, “Pharaoh heard Moses and Aaron, yet he was an heathen; and Herod heard John the Baptist; and you should not be worse than these.” But they cried, “Withdraw, withdraw.” Thereupon the doorkeeper took me again by the hand and led me out.

I returned to my inn, and continued still in Edinburgh; visiting Friends there and thereabouts, and strengthening them in the Lord. After a little time I wrote a letter to the Council to lay before them their unchristian dealings in banishing me, an innocent man, that sought their salvation and eternal good.

After I had spent some time among Friends at Edinburgh and thereabouts, I passed thence to Heads again, where Friends had been in great sufferings. For the Presbyterian priests had excommunicated them, and given charge that none should buy or sell or eat or drink with them. So they could neither sell their commodities nor buy what they wanted; which made it go very hard with some of them; for if they had bought bread or other victuals of any of their neighbors, the priests threatened them so with curses that they would run and fetch it from them again. But Colonel Ashfield, being a justice of the peace in that country, put a stop to the priests’ proceedings. This Colonel Ashfield was afterwards convinced himself, had a meeting settled at his house, declared the Truth, and lived and died in it.

After I had visited Friends at and about Heads, and encouraged them in the Lord, I went to Glasgow, where a meeting was appointed; but not one of the town came to it. As I went into the city, the guard at the gates took me before the governor, who was a moderate man. A great deal of discourse I had with him. He was too light to receive the Truth; yet he set me at liberty; so I passed to the meeting.

Seeing none of the town’s people came to the meeting, we declared Truth through the town; then passed away, visited Friends’ meetings thereabouts, and returned towards Badcow. Several Friends declared Truth in the steeple-houses and the Lord’s power was with them.

Once as I was going with William Osburn to his house there lay a company of rude fellows by the wayside, hid under the hedges and in bushes. Seeing them, I asked him what they were. “Oh,” said he “they are thieves.” Robert Widders, being moved to go and speak to a priest, was left behind, intending to come after. So I said to William Osburn, “I will stay here in this valley, and do thou go and look after Robert Widders”; but he was unwilling to go, being afraid to leave me there alone, because of those fellows, till I told him I feared them not.

Then I called to them, asking them what they lay lurking there for, and I bade them come to me; but they were loath to come. I charged them to come up to me, or else it might be worse with them; then they came trembling, for the dread of the Lord had struck them. I admonished them to be honest, and directed them to the Light of Christ in their hearts that by it they might see what an evil it was to follow after theft and robbery; and the power of the Lord came over them.

I stayed there till William Osburn and Robert Widders came up, then we passed on together. But it is likely that, if we two had gone away before, they would have robbed Robert Widders when he had come after alone, there being three or four of them.

We went to William Osburn’s house, where we had a good opportunity to declare the Truth to several people that came in. Then we went among the Highlanders, who were so devilish they were like to have spoiled us and our horses; for they ran at us with pitchforks. But through the Lord’s goodness we escaped them, being preserved by His power.

Thence we passed to Stirling, where the soldiers took us up, and had us to the main guard. After a few words with the officers, the Lord’s power coming over them, we were set at liberty; but no meeting could we get amongst them in the town, they were so closed up in darkness. Next morning there came a man with a horse that was to run a race, and most of the townspeople and officers went to see it. As they came back from the race, I had a brave opportunity to declare the day of the Lord and His Word of life amongst them. Some confessed to it, and some opposed; but the Lord’s truth and power came over them all.

Leaving Stirling, we came to Burntisland, where I had two meetings at one Captain Pool’s house; one in the morning, the other in the afternoon. Whilst they went to dine I walked to the seaside, not having freedom to eat with them. Both he and his wife were convinced, and became good Friends afterward; and several officers of the army came in and received the Truth.

We passed thence through several other places, till we came to Johnstons, where were several Baptists that were very bitter, and came in a rage to dispute with us. Vain janglers and disputers indeed they were. When they could not prevail by disputing they went and informed the governor against us; and next morning he raised a whole company of foot, and banished me and Alexander Parker, also James Lancaster and Robert Widders, out of the town.

As they guarded us through the town, James Lancaster was moved to sing with a melodious sound in the power of God; and I was moved to proclaim the day of the Lord, and preach the everlasting gospel to the people. For the people generally came forth, so that the streets were filled with them, and the soldiers were so ashamed that they said they would rather have gone to Jamaica than guarded us so.

But we were put into a boat with our horses, carried over the water, and there left. The Baptists who were the cause of our being thus put out of this town, were themselves, not long after, turned out of the army; and he that was then governor was discarded also when the king came in.

Being thus thrust out of Johnstons, we went to another market-town, where Edward Billings and many soldiers were quartered. We went to an inn, and desired to have a meeting in the town, that we might preach the everlasting gospel amongst them. The officers and soldiers said we should have it in the town-hall; but the Scotch magistrates in spite appointed a meeting there that day for the business of the town.

When the officers of the soldiery understood this, and perceived that it was done in malice, they would have had us go into the town-hall nevertheless. But we told them, “No; by no means; for then the magistrates might inform the governor against us and say, ‘They took the town-hall from us by force, when we were to do our town-business therein.'” We told them we would go to the market-place. They said it was market-day. We replied, “It is so much the better; for we would have all people to hear the Truth and know our principles.”

Alexander Parker went and stood upon the market-cross, with a Bible in his hand, and declared the Truth amongst the soldiers and market-people; but the Scots, being a dark, carnal people, gave little heed, and hardly took notice what was said. After awhile I was moved of the Lord to stand up at the cross, and to declare with a loud voice the everlasting Truth, and the day of the Lord that was coming upon all sin and wickedness. Thereupon the people came running out of the town-hall and gathered so together that at last we had a large meeting; for they only sat in the court for a colour to hinder us from having the hall to meet in.

When the people were come away the magistrates followed them. Some walked by, but some stayed and heard; and the Lord’s power came over all and kept all quiet. The people were turned to the Lord Jesus Christ, who died for them, and had enlightened them, that with His Light they might see their evil deeds, be saved from their sins by Him, and might come to know Him to be their teacher. But if they would not receive Christ, and own Him, it was told them that this Light which came from Him would be their condemnation.

We travelled from this town to Leith, warning and exhorting people, as we went, to turn to the Lord. At Leith the innkeeper told me that the Council had granted warrants to apprehend me, because I was not gone out of the nation after the seven days were expired that they had ordered me to depart in. Several friendly people also came and told me the same; to whom I said, “Why do ye tell me of their warrants against me? If there were a cart-load of them I would not heed them, for the Lord’s power is over them all.”

I went from Leith to Edinburgh again, where they said the warrants from the Council were out against me. I went to the inn where I had lodged before, and no man offered to meddle with me. After I had visited Friends in the city, I desired those that travelled with me to get ready their horses in the morning, and we rode out of town together. There were with me at that time Thomas Rawlinson, Alexander Parker, and Robert Widders.

When we were out of town they asked me whither I would go. I told them it was upon me from the Lord to go back again to Johnstons (the town out of which we had been lately thrust), to set the power of God and His Truth over them also. Alexander Parker said he would go along with me; and I wished the other two to stay at a town about three miles from Edinburgh till we returned.

Then Alexander and I got over the water, about three miles across, and rode through the country; but in the afternoon, his horse being weak and not able to hold up with mine, I rode on ahead and got into Johnstons just as they were drawing up the bridges, the officers and soldiers never questioning me. I rode up the street to Captain Davenport’s house, from which we had been banished. There were many officers with him; and when I came amongst them they lifted up their hands, wondering that I should come again. But I told them the Lord God had sent me amongst them again; so they went their way.

The Baptists sent me a letter, by way of challenge, to discourse with me next day. I sent them word that I would meet them at such a house, about half a mile out of the town, at such an hour. For I considered that if I should stay in town to discourse with them they might, under pretence of discoursing with me, raise men to put me out of the town again, as they had done before.

At the time appointed I went to the place, Captain Davenport and his son accompanying me. There I stayed some hours, but not one of them came. While I stayed there waiting for them, I saw Alexander Parker coming. Not being able to reach the town, he had lain out the night before; and I was exceedingly glad that we were met again.

This Captain Davenport was then loving to Friends; and afterwards, coming more into obedience to Truth, he was turned out of his place for not putting off his hat, and for saying Thou and Thee to them.

When we had waited beyond reasonable ground to expect any of them coming, we departed; and Alexander Parker being moved to go again to the town, where we had the meeting at the market-cross, I passed alone to Lieutenant Foster’s quarters, where I found several officers that were convinced. Thence I went up to the town, where I had left the other two Friends, and we went back to Edinburgh together.

When we were come to the city, I bade Robert Widders follow me; and in the dread and power of the Lord we came up to the two first sentries. The Lord’s power came so over them that we passed by them without any examination. Then we rode up the street to the market-place and by the main-guard, out at the gate by the third sentry, and so clear out into the suburbs; and there we came to an inn and put up our horses, it being Seventh-day. I saw and felt that we had ridden as it were against the cannon’s mouth or the sword’s point; but the Lord’s power and immediate hand carried us over the heads of them all.

Next day I went to the meeting in the city, Friends having had notice that I would attend it. There came many officers and soldiers to it, and a glorious meeting it was; the everlasting power of God was set over the nation, and His Son reigned in His glorious power. All was quiet, and no man offered to meddle with me.

When the meeting was ended, and I had visited Friends, I came out of the city to my inn again. The next day, being Second-day, we set forward towards the borders of England.

As we travelled along the country I espied a steeple-house, and it struck at my life. I asked what steeple-house it was, and was told that it was Dunbar. When I came thither, and had put up at an inn, I walked to the steeple-house, having a Friend or two with me.

When we came to the steeple-house yard, one of the chief men of the town was walking there. I asked one of the Friends that was with me to go to him and tell him that about the ninth hour next morning there would be a meeting there of the people of God called Quakers; of which we desired he would give notice to the people of the town. He sent me word that they were to have a lecture there by the ninth hour; but that we might have our meeting there by the eighth hour, if we would. We concluded to do so, and desired him to give notice of it.

Accordingly, in the morning both poor and rich came; and there being a captain of horse quartered in the town, he and his troopers came also, so that we had a large concourse; and a glorious meeting it was, the Lord’s power being over all. After some time the priest came, and went into the steeple-house; but we being in the yard, most of the people stayed with us. Friends were so full and their voices so high in the power of God, that the priest could do little in the house, but quickly came out again, stood awhile, and then went his way.

I opened to the people where they might find Christ Jesus, and turned them to the Light with which He had enlightened them, that in the Light they might see Christ who died for them, turn to Him, and know him to be their Saviour and Teacher. I let them see that the teachers they had hitherto followed were hirelings, who made the gospel chargeable; showed them the wrong ways they had walked in the night of apostasy; directed them to Christ, the new and living way to God, and manifested unto them how they had lost the religion and worship which Christ set up in spirit and truth, and had hitherto been in the religions and worships of men’s making and setting up.

After I had turned the people to the Spirit of God which led the holy men of God to give forth the Scriptures, and showed them that they must also come to receive and be led by the same Spirit in themselves (a measure of which was given unto every one of them) if ever they would come to know God and Christ and the Scriptures aright, perceiving the other Friends to be full of power and the Word of the Lord, I stepped down, giving way for them to declare what they had from the Lord to the people.

Towards the latter end of the meeting some professors began to jangle, whereupon I stood up again, and answered their questions, so that they seemed to be satisfied, and our meeting ended in the Lord’s power quiet and peaceable.

This was the last meeting I had in Scotland; the Truth and the power of God was set over that nation and many, by the power and Spirit of God, were turned to the Lord Jesus Christ, their Saviour and Teacher, whose blood was shed for them; and there is since a great increase and great there will be in Scotland. For when first I set my horse’s feet upon Scottish ground I felt the Seed of God to sparkle about me, like innumerable sparks of fire.

Not but that there is abundance of the thick, cloddy earth of hypocrisy and falseness above, and a briery, brambly nature, which is to be burnt up with God’s Word, and ploughed up with His spiritual plough, before God’s Seed brings forth heavenly and spiritual fruit to His glory. But the husbandman is to wait in patience.