63: A Caution to Friends Not to Do as the Bostoners Did

I should be heartily sorry (I can say) if any of our Friends, called Quakers, should go about to attempt or undertake or assume to act the same things as the Bostoners did to their progenitors. It would be a bad savor for or to our testimony to the unchangeable Truth which we profess and our dear, tender, and much honorable and worthy elders suffered so much for in Old England as well as New England and other countries.  

Oh this would be sorrowful for me and many other of my dear Friends to see or hear of, for persecution is of the same nature amongst all people wherever it comes: It points to its center root and foundation from whence it springs, and that is from the pit without bottom—no good bottom or foundation, but full of smoke, and some false and soul fire, which does abundance of hurt sometimes amongst brethren and neighbors too, and in kingdoms and nations far and near. Read Eusebius’s Ecclesiastical History, Josephus’s Wars of the Jews, History  of the Waldensians, The Spirit of the Martyrs Revived, and of latter date, The History of the Wars in England and Irelandand in Boston. They were going on valiantly in their master Satan’s service—for [all] time I never heard or read the like of it in story, all things considered—and how far they would have proceeded if they had not been stopped, no man knows.

Question:  And this persecution began with tongues—how so, may some say?   

Answer:  Why, there was a people raised up in Old England, whose meat and drink it was to do the will of God, [who] were Christ’s Friends and his own brethren and sisters, begotten and born of the same father.  I say born of the same father—the TRUTH, which is the true God and eternal Life. These [Quaker] saints, hearing there was [a] people [the Puritans] settled in America that fled from persecution in Old England [but] which were full of notion and empty of the Life of true religion (as many of all [religious] professions are), thought it their duty to instruct the ignorant and them that were out of the way of God and yet maybe some thought in the way [that] was right, as man’s ways are right in his own eyes oftentimes when he is wrong—as it appeared [to] those people in Boston. 

These dear creatures, loving the Truth more than all men, leave their wives, women their husbands and children, and their dear inwardly beloved Friends and their other outward comforts. In a faithful obedience [they] undertake a long, hazardous, dangerous, and chargeable voyage to Boston, in the love of TRUTH, to visit those high, yet very low, those full, very full, yet empty professors—as high as heaven in conceit and as low as the earth in substance, as full as the sea in pretension, as empty as hell in goodness—as afterward was manifest by their murdering of several of the saints and servants of the living God, the eternal TRUTH. And [Truth] is the pure holy Word by which these saints were sanctified and cleansed throughout from all sin, as well as the saints before of old or since. They were and are made clean through this Word that speaks to and in them—not in notion but experience. And it is the same now, where[ver] true Love and pure Faith unfeigned (not a sinful faith ) abounds above all. Glory, honor, and praise to this living Word! and nothing to man—no, no, not in the least degree. 

To these high professors, I say, these heavenly messengers were sent by their heavenly Father to bear their testimony in and for the pure TRUTH against all error, superstition, hypocrisy, idolatry, and formality—which I say [the high professors] were full of. I wish they were not so [still] now, as well—as in this and other parts of America.

These clean vessels [bore] a faithful testimony. And for this holy faith that was once, is now, and ever will be revealed in the saints—from faith to faith—growing from small stature to full strength, filled full, yea full with the pure TRUTH, then empty of all error, to be sure. For I do know, eternal thanks to TRUTH, that there is a way laid out, cast up, fenced in, and eternally well secured, and most—yea most gloriously and beautifully—adorned. And the sweetly refreshing streams of the River of Life for drink, and the Tree of Life for food, which bears twelve manners or all manner of good fruit, and yields her or its fruit every month at all times and seasons to them that are prepared and their vessels clean enough to receive it.

And the very leaves of this lovely [heavenly] Tree are for the healing of the people and purging of them from all sin, that they may have a proper right to partake of the fruit daily, without money or price, all free as was the Hebrews’ manna, but far more exceeding, as heaven is higher than the earth. That was for a time; this for eternity.

Oh! holy pleasure indeed, to eat of such food and drink of such drink, and travel in such a way, and with such heavenly companions and travelers, this blessed way. Although it may seem straight and narrow to the true travelers in the entrance, yet in the progress and middle very wide, easy, and delightful, but in and toward the end glorious in holiness indeed. Here the wayfaring man may and can walk and not err, though a fool—yea though a fool—the Way as well as the Guide, which is one, is so safe secure, powerful, holy, and perfect.