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A Portraiture of Quakerism, Volume 1 by Clarkson

From this great period of his ministry


here I would observe, before I proceed to the occurrences of another year, that there is reason to believe that George Fox disapproved of his own conduct in having interrupted the service of the church at Nottingham, which I have stated to have been the first occasion of his imprisonment. For if he believed any one of his actions, with which the world had been offended, to have been right, he repeated it, as circumstances called it forth, though he was sure of suffering for it either from the magistrates or the people. But he never repeated this, but he always afterwards, when any occasion of religious controversy occurred in any of the churches, where his travels lay, uniformly suspended his observations, till the service was over.

George Fox spent almost the whole of the next year, that is, of the year 1650, in confinement in Derby Prison.

In 1651, when he was set at liberty, he seems not to have been in the least disheartened by the treatment he had received there, or at the different places before mentioned, but to have resumed his travels, and to have held religious meetings, as he went along. He had even the boldness to go into Litchfield, because he imagined it to be his duty, and, with his shoes off to pronounce with an audible voice in the streets, and this on the market-day, a woe against that city. He continued also to visit the churches, as he journeyed, in the time of divine service, and to address

the priests and the people publicly, as he saw occasion, but not, as I observed before, till he believed the service to be over. It does not appear, however, that he suffered any interruption upon these occasions, in the course of the present year, except at York-Minster; where, as he was beginning to preach after the sermon, he was hurried out of it, and thrown down the steps by the congregation, which was then breaking up. It appears that he had been generally well received in the county of York, and that he had convinced many.

In the year 1652, after having passed through the shires of Nottingham and Lincoln, he came again into Yorkshire. Here, in the course of his journey, he ascended Pendle-Hill. At the top of this he apprehended it was opened to him, whither he was to direct his future steps, and that he saw a great host of people, who were to be converted by him in the course of his ministry. From this time we may consider him as having received his commission full and complete in his own mind. For in the vale of Beevor he conceived himself to have been informed of the various doctrines, which it became his duty to teach, and, on this occasion, to have had an insight of the places where he was to spread them.

To go over his life, even in the concise way, in which I have hitherto attempted it, would be to swell this introduction into a volume. I shall therefore, from this great period of his ministry, make only the following simple statement concerning it.

He continued his labours, as a minister of the gospel, and even preached, within two days of his death.

During this time he had settled meetings in most parts of the kingdom, and had given to these the foundation of that beautiful system of discipline, which I shall explain in this volume, and which exists among the Quakers at the present day.

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