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NEFBQ: Reply to an Epistle to Quakers

I've fallen way behind in my entering A New England Fire-brand Quenched, but I finally completed the next section, Fox's reply to Roger Williams' opening Epistle to Quakers. (The previous section was a reply to the Epistle to the King, and the next section will be an Epistle to Richard Baxter, a Puritan who was none too fond of Quakers.)

Much of it is Fox's blasting Williams for his misjudgements about the Quakers, but I'm not so sure that tarring the founder of Rhode Island with the sins of Massachusetts was particularly sensible or effective here. (Rhode Island was founded as a sanctuary from the religious persecutions of Massachusetts.) There's also some discussion of Quaker behavior, like going naked for a sign.

{Epistle to Quakers}

And R. W. saith in his Epistle to the people called Quakers, From his Childhood (now above Threescore years) the Father of Light and Mercy hath touched his soul with a love to himself; to his only begotten the true Lord Jesus, to his Holy Scriptures, &c. His infinite wisdom hath given him to see the City, Court, and Country, the Schooles and Universities of his Native County, to converse with some Jews, Turks, and Papists, and all sorts of Protestants, and by Books to know the affairs and Religions of all Countries.

Ans. Roger, if thy Judgement and knowledge be no better of Jews, Turks, Papists, and Protestants, and Religions, then it is of the People of God called Quakers, thy Knowledge and Judgement is little worth for all thy great boast. Thou tells us of thy Knowledge; and if this be the end of thy Threescore-years work, it's sad, to publish so many falsehoods to the world against the People of God (which thou hadst not from the Father of Lights) and at this Age to desire Pope, Turk, Rome, and Constantinople were in Ashes; which thou received not from the God of Mercies, nor his only begotten the true Lord Jesus, nor from the Holy Scriptures, but from the Father of lyes, the destroyer, who appeared against the Prophets, Christ and the Apostles, and against Adam and Eve in Paradice. And Roger, we desire, that thou mayst see a day of Repentance, if it be not hid from thy eyes.

R. W. Thy Conclusion is: Be of good cheer, thy sins are forgiven thee, Mat. 9 and it is one of the joyful sounds that ever came to poor sinful ears. How to obtain this sound from the mouth of the Mediator that spoke it, is the greatest Dispute betwixt the Protestants, and the bloody Whore of Rome: this is also the great point betwixt the Protestants and yourselves (to wit, the Quakers.)

Ans. As for the Papists we leave them to answer R. W. themselves, but we never had this Dispute before, how to obtain this sound from the mouth of the Mediator (to wit, Christ Jesus) that is to say, be of good chear, thy sins be forgiven thee. Now, if R. W. or any of his dark Company, doth not know, how to obtain this sound from the mouth of Christ the Mediator, (which he says, is the Dispute betwixt the Papists and them, and them and the Quakers, though they both hear the sound or report of it) if this the Question, we tell him and them, by faith, as they did in Matth. 9. and by believing in the Light, which comes from Jesus, which Jesus has enlightened them withall, with which they may see their sins; and by believing it see Christ their Saviour and Mediator, and hear his Heavenly voice, saying, be of good chear, thy sins be forgiven three. Which the Quakers have heard, and so are his Sheep, and know his voice, and follow him: who gives them Life Eternal, and would have none to perish, Joh. 10 So we are to hear him, (and not to turn away from him) that speaketh from Heaven, &c. Heb. 12, 25, 26.

R. W. And further he saith: As also in Order to this to know, what man is (to the utmost) now by Nature? and what the true Lord Jesus is? and other Controversies discussed in this Book, not unworthy this your serious Weighing (as Mary did) in the Hearts and Spirits &c.

Ans. He may see by the Scripture how the Apostle hath made known, what man is now by Nature in his fallen State, to wit, dead in Sins and Trespasses, Ephe. 2 and what a Wicked mans State is? and how man is Saved? And Moses declares, how Man and Woman were before they fell; as may be seen Gen. 1. And Christ himself declares, how he and the Father is known by Revelation, wherein Christ said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of Heaven and Earth, for thou has bid threshings from the Wife and Prudent, and hast revealed them unto Babes: even so Father, for so it seemed good in thy fight. And no man knowes, who the Son is, but the Father, and who the Father is, but the Son, and to whom the Son will reveal him, Luk. 10, 21, 22. And (mark) it seems, we must weigh R. W.'s words, as Mary did Christs, and in our Hearts and Spirits: Nay Roger, we shall not make thy words equal with Christ's; for they are easily favor'd to come from another Spirit then Christs, as thou hast manifested in thy Book.

R. W. And when thou hast told us, what the Jesuites, and the Pope do, then thou say'st, Satan pretends to exalt and deifie you, under the Name of God and Christ, and the Sprit, &c. but his end is, as Peter tells us, to exalt himself, and fill his Hellish Paunch with Souls.

Ans. This R. W. had better have kept to himself, who pretends so much of God, and Christ, and the Spirit, &c. for it suits his own Condition the best, and not the Quakers. But Roger, where doth Peter use any such Expressions in the Scripture, as, Satan to fill his Hellish Paunch with Souls? this is the first time it was Scripture. Where doth Peter use any such language? is not this to abuse Peter's Scripture, and that blessed Spirit, from whence the Scripture came? though shouldst not charge such Unsavory words upon Peter, and tell us, that Peter tells you so? Therefore do not belye Peter, a Holy Apostle, as thou hast done us. And we charge thee to mention the Chap. and Verse, where Peter has told thee, and you New-England Priests such word, as Satan to exalt himself, to fill his Hellish Paunch with Souls? for we do not read, that ever Peter spoke these words; but they are of thy own forging.

R. W. Thou say'st, I have used some sharp Scripture-Language, but not as commonly you do, passionately, and unjustly. I sometimes call you Foxians (as Nicolaitans from Nicholas, &c.) because G. F. appeared the greatest Writer and Speaker, &c. among you.

Ans. Here, hast thou not given thyself the lye? is this Scripture- Language, to call the People of God Foxians? And how darest thou parallel the People of God in scorn called Quakers, with the Nicolaitans, whose Principles and Practices we do abhor? but this is thy Passion and Unjust Dealing. But if we could tell thee, thou art a Scoffer, and a Mocker, and a Nick-namer, this is not Passionate nor Unjust, when we find thee so doing. And when we have told you Persecuting Priests of New-England, who Hanged, and Banished, and Cut off Ears, that you in Cains nature and Jezebels, and the Beast, and the Whore, that drunk the blood of the Saints, and killed the Lords People, this was just, and true enough to tell you, what you were, and whose work you are doing, to with, the Murderers and not Christ's for your works show it.

R. W. And thou say'st, Sure it is, that he subtily run for it (to wit, G. F.) he ordered, that my Letters to our Deputy Governour (in which my Proposals to G. F. were) should not be delivered to the Deputy, until G. F. was some hours under Sail, that he might say, he never saw my Paper: though it is as clear as Noon-day, that he knew all matters by Copies, Letters and Relations perfectly, many days before his departure.

Ans. Here is the manifestation of a wicked lying Spirit. First, that he is sure, G. F. run for it: And next, that G. F. ordered that his Letters should not be given to the Deputy Governour, till G. F. was some hours under Sail: and thirdly, that G. F. might say, he never saw his Paper: and lastly, that it is as clear as Noon-day, that G.F. knew all matters by Copies of Letters and Relations perfectly, many days before his departure. These are four great Lies: for G. F. knew not, what was in thy papers Roger, neither had G. F. seen the Copies of those Proposals; neither did G. F. hinder their being delivered to the Governour. Nor did G. F. ever receive any letters from R. W. or go away for fear of him or them; nor was it a likely thing, that he should, when he knew nothing of them: for as I said before, when I was at Providence, where this Roger lives, he came not at me. And if he had any thing to have spoken to me, he might easily have done it, or have written to me, and have sent the same Copies to me, he sent to Captain Cranston; and not have made a clamour against me, belying of me to the world behind my back, when I was gone. But this is like the Fruits of his Spirits, but not the Spirit of Christ, and his Disciples.

R. W. And whereas thou say'st; G. F. knew, that I was furnished out of his own writings with Artillery.

Ans. This is notoriously false; for G. F. never knew, that thou hadst any of his Books, as before.

R. W. And thou seemest to flatter John Stubs, and John Burneyat, and rail'st against W. Edmondson, and say'st, W. E. was nothing but a bundle of Ignorance and Boysterousness; but J. S. and J. B. were Ingenuous. Ans. Yet all these three were Constantly on thee at once, as thou say'st; where was their Ingenuity then? here is thy Contradiction and Confusion.

R. W. And they say'st often over, that John Stubs said in Publick, That thou did'st not interrupt us. And thou say'st: You shall never per- suade Souls (not bewitched) that the Holy Spirit of God should per- suade your Women and Maidens to appear in Publick (Streets and Assem- blies) stark Naked.

Ans. We do believe thee, in that dark, persecuting, bloody Spirit, that thou and the New-England Priests are bewitched in, you cannot believe, that you are Naked from God and his Cloathing, and Blind. And therefore hath the Lord in his power moved some of his Sons and Daughters to go Naked; yes, and they did tell them in OLIVERS days, and the Long Parliament's, that God would strip them of their Church-profession, and of their Power as Naked as they were. And so they were True Prophets and Prophetesses to the Nation, as many Sober Men have confessed since; though thou and the Old Persecuting Priests in New-England remain in your Blindness and Nakedness. But it is, as it was of old, The Prophet is a Fool, and the Spiritual Man is Mad.

R. W. And whereas thou say'st, It is hard to persuade a Fox, or a Woolf, that he is so.

Ans. Now this is thine and the New-England Priests and Pro- fessors condition. For we grant you, that you have the Sheeps-Cloath- ing; but you have shewed the Wolfs nature in Worrying the Lambs, and sucking their blood, and tearing their Fleece. And are in your filthy Dreams, that thou tellest us of, then thou art with Christ Jesus; for thy words favour not of his Spirit.

R. W. And then thou say'st, All that I can hope for (without Gods wonderful mercy) is, to give my Testimony in my Generation: for (as Solomon speaks of the Whore) Few or None of you will return.

Ans. Nay, Roger, where thou and the New-England Priests and Professors are, the Lord has called us from among you, your Wolfish Nature, who feed upon the husk, like the Prodigal: and it is the Wonder- ful Mercy of God, who hath called us by his Grace, to hear and fol- low his Son. And so, it is not like for us To turn to you: but as the Lord saith to his Prophet, Turn not thou to them, but let them turn to thee: and therefore we cannot forsake the Living Mercies, and turn to your broken Cisterns, that cannot hold water. And as for Solomon's speaking of the Whore, apply that at home, Roger. For dost not thou after all thy lies wipe thy mouth? and did not all your Per- secuting Priests and Professors, after they had Hanged and Cut off Ears, and Banish the Lords Servants, wipe their mouths too? and is this not the Mark and Die of the Red Whore? But God seeth your hearts and mouths, and so doth his Holy People, which are built upon the foundation of the Prophets and Apostles, to wit, Christ Jesus: and we know what your foundation is, and your building too, they are Lyes and Bloody.

R. W. And thou say'st, I have proved, and will prove (if God please) that Spiritual Pride about Spiritual matters is the Root and Branch or your whole Religion; and that the King Eternal, who did cast out proud Angels out of his Palace, will hardly open his Gates to Proud and Scornful, Dust and Ashes.

Ans. Roger, this is, as I said before, thy own Condition, and the New-England Priests and Professors: Oh! that your eyes were open that you might see it! And so, what thou measurest to others, it will be measured to thee again, pressed down and running over: and the God of the World will fail thee in thy proof, and hath failed thee, and deceived thee; as he did thy Mother Eve, and thy Father Adam. For this is the Mouth of the Pit, that thou speakest of, and Lucifers boast in thee against the Children of the Lord, that are daily in Jeopardy of their Lives: and some of them have lost their Lives amongst you in New-England in Obedience to the Command of Christ, their Saviour. But now, since the Indians have risen upon them, they have confessed, how greatly they have fallen; as you may see in the Declaration 1675. but it is well, if it prove better, then Pharaoh's Confession. But the Lord God hath opened his Gates of Life and Mercy to us, that obey his voice; and Christ has opened the Book to us, which you cannot shut; Glory to his Name forever. And though we have the same Portion from thee, and such as thou art, as the Prophets, Christ and the Apostles had, the will of the Lord be done; and as Christ said, If they did so unto the green Tree, what would they do unto the dry? and we know, they hated Christ our Lord and Master without a Cause; and so you do us. ___ But R. W. may say, He doth not Persecute with his hands. But let him read p. 200, of his Book, wherein he declares himself, that a due and moderate Restraint and Punishment he would have inflicted upon us, yea, though pretending Conscience: and he would not have this called Persecution. But would R. W. be so served himself? No: but now he lives in a Peaceable Government, where he cannot Exercise his Cruely, and he hath not the Sword in his hand, but is in a Restless Spirit, who grudgeth at the Liberty of others, and cannot be content with his own; short of the Royal Law of God, That would do unto all, as they would have others do unto them. (6-11)


To: Simon St.Laurent
In your transcription of Fox's reply to Roger Williams, posted 6/18/07, there are instances where you have rendered the letter "s" as an "f". Of course this is easy to do as the two letters are often indistinguishable in the original typography. For example, in Fox's quote from Luke, you have "wife" instead of "wise" and "fight" instead of "sight". Thanks for the good service of posting this material, and I hope you will find time to do an editorial read-through to correct this sort of nit. best regards, Dan

Wow, they really went at each others' throats.

I wish that they would have recognized the Christ-centeredness in each others' ministries, as Christians from different traditions appeared on a more widespread basis in the following two centuries.

I read about George Whitefield's work with Friends, and their response. Although there was some cricitism, I was left with the distinct impression that they thought of each other as Christians. Also, Spurgeon gave a positive address to Friends.

Whitefield and Spurgeon resonate with me because I'm a Calvinist. Yet, the Friends at the Friends church of which I'm a member accept me (for which I'm grateful).

If other Christians had focussed on the Christ-centeredness in Fox's ministry, and he in their ministries, it would have meant much less contention, including less bloodshed.

It's very sad...