«PHILADELPHIA: Printed for the Author. 1737 This is an annotated text of All Slave-Keepers That keep the Innocent in Bondage, Apostates, published by ...»
That Spirit has something in view; the good of the Belly, a rich Wife or Husband, carrying on a good Trade, or to be exalted, and to get or keep up a strong Party for some Design, base enough; and under this Cloak of Deceit, accuse others of seeking a Party. Now when this Spirit goes forth with Authority from the outward Church, then our Meetings are or may be sure to be grievously pestered, with noise if not nonsense. It seems as if some of our Ministers (I was going to say many) have forgot the great Benefit of Silent Meetings, if ever they rightly knew it, that they are so restless in them, and must [page 130] be hammering & hammering. The Noise of the Workman’s Tool was not to be heard in Building the outward Temple, and much less the inward, which is the Work of God himself. Oh that the Lord would be pleased to put a Hook into the Nose of this Leviathan!
But if the Words be never so found and orthodox, without Life they are but as Chaff; and what is the Chaff to the Wheat? why truly, Friends, you know the Chaff is for the Beasts; but the blessed Wheat, with which our heavenly Father feeds his Babes; is for the Children of the Kingdom, New Jerusalem, the Church of the living God, his House.
But what said blessed Jesus to them that went or go without him; He that is not with me is against me, and he that gathereth not with me, scattereth abroad. Let his or her Words be ever so excellent, as if he had said.
Many worthy Friends have been burthened with this scattering Spirit for many Years, especially its profaning if not blaspheming the sacred Name in Prayer.
When our Meetings on First-Days or others, are a little settled in Silence, and the children in the Kingdom in their heavenly Places, and their Father begins to feed [page 131] them, up stands may be a crackt Trumpet, with an uncertain Sound; or peradventure an old broken Cistern, with a little thick muddy stinking Water at bottom, kept in for the Meeting, and there thrown out among the Children, when in Truth it is hardly fit for Swine, nay, I think I may venture to say, the very Swine do not like it, it is so bad. Now if such filthy Stuff be countenanced encouraged and commended by our Elders and Ministers, some of them, what Condition is the Church in, which should be without Spot or Wrinkle? I leave it to the Wife in Heart to judge, to such Ministers and Elders as rule well and are worthy of double Honour. So says B.L.
Abington, between II and 12, after a good Meeting at Oxford, where was 6 Males and 4 contra.
Dear Friends, I remember about 40 years ago I kept my elder Brother’s Sheep, and the pretty Lambs and their Dams would be quietly sweetly and prettily feeding together, a very beautiful and comely Sight to see. But if a Stranger, my friends, the Stranger, came near with his Dog, (the Dog sucks the Blood which is the [page 132] Life of the Sheep) and if this dog fell a barking yawling or howling, among the Sheep and the pretty pretty dear Lambs, immediately they leave their Feeding, and run for their dear Lives; so they, would be scatter’d, and scatter’d, altho’ there was or might be a great Flock of them together. Sometimes, I must confess, I have been a little careless and sleepy like some other Shepherds, and then the Sheep would go wandring about over Hedge and Ditch, and get into my Neighbour’s Corn, and do Mischief; and then it was very hard for me to get them out of the Corn and into order again. Sometimes it would cost me many Tears before I could get them in to order again. Sometimes if the Sheep and Lambs were not gathered before Night, in the Night in the Dark the Dog would come and bite many of them, and suck their Blood, and some he would kill;
so then that would be a Grief to the Owner, and a Reproach to the Shepherd.
So, my very dear Friends, you that are the right true Shepherds, that love the Sheep more than all things in this World, you can very easily make an Application, for it is your Life and Delight to take Care of your Father’s Sheep, and his [page 133] Lambs, especially, and are grieved when the Dog, the Dog, the Bloodsucker, does but bark, and hinder them from Feeding. I know what I write, blessed be the Name of the good and great Shepherd, for evermore, who laid down his Life for his Sheep and Lambs.
My dear faithful Friends, you are much esteemed by me, and your Unity in the Father in his Kingdom, which is his Church, is much more defined by me than all things in this World, I can truly say. It has been much in my Mind for a considerable time, to lay before you my Concern for having some of our ancient worthy Friends Epistles of Warning, Reproof, Caution, and Advice to Ministers, collected and reprinted; apprehending it may be of some Service to have a Collection of such as I have mentioned, or such as you shall think will be of most Service; I earnestly desire and entreat to have your Advice and Counsel; for I know right well that in the multitude of Counsel there is Safety, especially with them dear Friends that know the Truth and are faithful; these are the best Counsellors in the whole World. I am your Bother and Friend in the blessed Truth. B.L.
[page 134] Abington, the 18th of the 2d month, about 6 or 7 at night.
Dear Friends, AS I was at work in the Garden, it came into my Mind, that many of our Preachers would or did make Preaching so common, that many of our young People, and old ones too, did not much matter it; nay I believe many, yea very many, loath it; it is fulsome and burthensome to them, instead of edifying and strengthening; by reason of many, I fear very many, going and running in their own Will and Times; which brings a very great Exercise, and many heavy Burthens upon some tender dear young Ministers, and others, which are rightly concerned, which cannot receive their chaffy Doctrine, but are almost choaked with it, as well they may, for it is very killing to sit under their dead dry noisy dark dreaming in-and-out Harangues, with Death in the Pot, 2 Kings 4. 39, 40. which brings Death and Darkness over our Meetings, such as may be felt, something like that in Egypt, Ex. 10. 21. where the Tongue of the Dogs, Phil. 3. 2. was heard, the Voice of the Stranger, John 10.5. which darkens Counsel with or by Words without Knowledge, Job 38. 2.
being [page 135] alienated from the Life of God, indeed, through the Ignorance that is in them, because of the Blindness of their Heart, Eph. 4.18. False Ministers are working in their Hour and Power of Darkness, Luke. 22. 53. Matth. 6. 23. if the Light that is in them be turn’d to Darkness, it is very great. 2. Pet. 2. 1, 2, 3, 4. such are Wells without Water, Clouds without Rain. wandring dark Stars. 1 Job. 1.6. ---2. 9, 10 11. he that hateth his Brother is in Darkness, and walketh in Darkness, Darkness has blinded his Eyes. Mat. 23. 14. some for a Pretence make long Prayers, they shall receive the greater Damnation. Oh that the Almighty would be pleased to cut this Rahab and wound this Dragon, and dry up the Tongue of this Egyptian Sea, and put an Hook in the Nose of this Leviathan, that plays and sports himself in the mighty Waters. The People are as Waters, very unstable, and so are ready to receive unstable and unsound Doctrine, although it may prove to their destruction in time, e’er they are aware, and utter Ruin of the Church, and People or Congregation. Oh that it might be prevented before it is too late, saith my poor Soul.
[page 136] Abington, the 30th of the 2nd Month, 1737.
THIS Day as I was sitting at my Door, musing about or concerning the Miseries or Poverty of Mankind, it came into my Mind, that it was Ignorance and Idleness, Luxury and Pride, (not Temperance, Frugality and Industry; for with Parsimony, as one said, a little is sufficient, without it nothing) which leads to Covetousness, and Covetousness leads to them; the one is the Cause, and the other the Effect. Riches, then Pride. Luxury and Pride, then Oppression and Covetousness to maintain it.
The 1st of the 9th Month, 1737.
EArly this Morning it was given me to see, that all Slave-keepers and Traders with them for Gain, were Apostates which pretended to be Christians; especially in Ministers it is a double Crime, because of their bad Example to to their Flock; for all such have the Mark of the Beast, Whore and False Prophet on them, Mystery Babylon mother of Harlots, let them preach as long as they will or may.
Oh Israel! thy Leaders cause thee to err, by their Lyes and their Lightness! Oh how mine Eyes have seen some of the [page 137] first Rank, sit and stand and laugh, Preachers and others, when I have been speaking of the Bondage and miserable Captivity of their poor Slaves, in as light and airy a manner as any Boy in the Town need to do: Persons Male and Female, eminent in the Church, Friends of Renown in their generation and Congregation; long Custom and Covetousness having made the Sin, altho’ so very gross, so easy and familiar to them. Some of which I do verily believe have known the pure Presence of the divine Lord of Life and Glory, his holy Light and blessed Truth in their Souls; yet afterwards become vain in their Imaginations, to think Slave-keeping was lawful; so their foolish Hearts became darkened and hardened again worse than ever. Oh that is a sorrowful Condition, to have the greatest Mark of the Apostacy in the World, upon them, and not to know or believe it!
When I say All Slave-keepers Apostates, I mean them that keep innocent Men, Women and Children in everlasting Bondage. As to petty Criminals, that will not or cannot make Restitution, I think, as well as many other tender Friends and [page 138] People fearing God and loving his Creation, their Fellow-Creatures, although very wicked, that they had better be kept in Bondage, Exod. 22. 3. that by hard Labour they might be brought to Repentance and Amendment of Life, in order to a happy Death, than to put them to Death in their Sins; for in the Grave there is no Repentance; but hard Labour and mean Living is an Antidote to Luxury and Idleness, and Captivity the Reverse of Nature might prevent a great deal of Wickedness in the World, and bring many unthinking Creatures to remember and prepare for their latter End before it be too late, which I should rejoice to see. There is an excellent passage quoted by R. S. page 104. from Thomas Moore High Chancellor of England, much to the purpose. Likewise that holy Man of God G. Fox, that faithful Servant, and indefatigable Labourer in the most high Lord’s Vineyard, who turn’d more Souls from Darkness to Light and from the Power of Satan to the Power of God, than any one that England or the Dominions thereof, has produced since the Apostles Days, I do firmly believe, as his excellent Journal does make appear to them that can read it with the [page 139] same divine Mind in which it was written, besides the multitude of faithful Testimonies to the Divine Power that wrought all his Works in him, and for him. While this dear Lamb G. F. was in Darby prison, in Persecution, he was under great Suffering of Spirit, and under the very Sense of Death, as he writes, and he writ to the Judges about putting People to Death for stealing Cattle or Money, and small Matters, and thus it was.
I am moved to write unto you, to take heed of putting Men to death for stealing Cattle or Money, &c. for the Thieves in old time were to make Restitution, and if they had not wherewith, they were to be sold for their Theft. Mind the Laws of God in the Scriptures and Spirit that gave them forth, and let them be your Rule in executing Judgment, and shew Mercy that you may receive Mercy from God the Judge of all. And take need of Gifts and Rewards, and of Pride, for God doth forbid them, and they do blind the Eyes of the Wise. I do not write to give Liberty to Sin, God hath forbidden it; but that you should judge according to his Laws, and shew mercy, for be delighteth in true Judgment and in mercy. I beseech you mind these Things;
[page 140] and prize our time now you have it, and serve him, for he is a consuming Fire. So far G.F. and much more concerning these things, when in Prison in persecuting Times. Journal, Part I. page 98.
Abington, the 2nd of the 9th month, between 2 and 3 in the morning.
THE Thing appeared very clearly as at other Times, that Slave-keeping, with all its Concomitants, was the worst Idol, and one of the greatest Marks of the Apostacy, in the whole World, and the very worst Part of the great Whore’s Merchandise, Mystery Babylon, the Mother of Whores.