Page images





W HEN the BLESSED MESSIAH first called forth

V the immediate followers of his person, he declared self-denial essential to discipleship, saying, “Whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after ” me, cannot be my disciple,” Luke xiv. 27. This path himself trod before them, setting all that should come after, an example of the most perfect pacience and resignation. The faithful, in every age, have met with variety of exercises; and many of them, by their more than human constancy, neither terrified by the roughest efforts of cruelty and malice on the one hand, nor enticed by the smoothest allurements of pleasure and vanity on the other, have given convincing proofs to the world, that the Grace, which supported them, was DiviNE.

It was this which gave our author, in his early years, a solid sense of religion, and a taste of that substantial peace, which the world can neither give nor take away: this instructed him to see the emptiness and vanity of earthly enjoyments, and to turn his back upon the honours, profits, and pleasures of the world, at an age most inclinable to embrace them: this enabled him to surmount all opposition in the search of TRUTH; which having found, he valued as a " pearl of price," and laboured in the propagation and defence of it, both by preaching and writing, almost incessantly for many years.

It being now thought meet to publish a selection of his works for general service, we judge it not im

proper proper to retain the following Journal of his Life, chiefly extracted out of his own private memoirs ; in which, we doubt not, the judicious reader will find many passages both exemplary and instructive.

WILLIAM PENN was born in the parish called St. Catharine's, near the Tower of London, on the 14th day of October, 1644. His father, of the fame name, was a man of good estate and reputation, and, in the time of the commonwealth, served in some of the highest maritime offices, as those of rear-admiral, viceadmiral, admiral of Ireland, vice-admiral of England, &c. in all which he acquitted himself with honour and fidelity. After the restoration, he was knighted by King Charles the Second, and became a peculiar favourite of the then Duke of York : his father's care, and a promising prospect of his son's advancement, induced him to give him a liberal education; and the youth, of an excellent genius, made fuch early improvements in literature, that about the 15th year of his age, he was entered a student at Christ's Church College in Oxford.

Now began his ardent desire after pure and fpiritual religion to thew itselfa; of which he had before received some taste or relish, through the ministry of Thomas Loe, one of the people called Quakers; for he, with certain other students of that university, withdrawing from the national way of worship, held private meetings for the exercise of religion, where they both preached and prayed among themselves : this gave great offence to the heads of the college, and he, being but sixteen years of age, was fined for nonconformity. Which finall stroke of persecution not at all abating the fervour of his, zeal, he was at length, for persevering in the like religious practices, expelled the college.

From thence he returned home, but still took great delight in the company of sober and religious people; which his father knowing to be a block in the way to




preferment, preferment, endeavoured both by words and blows to deter him from ; but finding those methods ineffectual, he was at length so incensed, that he turned him out of doors.

Patience surmounted this difficulty, till his father's affection had subdued his anger, who then sent him to France', in company with fome persons of quality, that were making a tour thither. He continued there a considerable time, till a quite different conversation had diverted his mind from the serious thoughts of religion : and upon his return, his father finding him not only a good proficient in the French tongue, but also perfectly accomplished with a polite and courtly behaviour, joyfully received him, hoping his point was gained ; and indeed for sometime after his return from France, his carriage was such as justly intitled him to the character of a complete young gentleman.

Great, about this time, was his spiritual conflicte: his natural inclination, his lively and active disposition, his acquired accomplishments, his father's favour, the respect of his friends and acquaintance, did strongly press him to embrace the glory and pleasures of this world, then, as it were, courting and caressing him, in the bloom of youth, to accept them. Such a combined force might seem almost invincible ; but the earneft supplication of his soul being to the Lord for prefervation, he was pleased to grant him such a portion of his holy power and spirit, as enabled him in due time to overcome all opposition, and with an holy resolution to follow Christ whatsoever reproaches or perfecutions might attend him.

About the year 1666, and the 22d of his age, his father committed to his care and management a confiderable estate in Ireland, which occasioned his refidence in that country. Being at Cork, he was informed by one of the people called Quakers, that Thomas Loe, whom we mentioned before, was to be shortly at a meeting in that city; he went to hear him, who be

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

gan his declaration with these words, « There is a « faith that overcomes the world, and there is a faith « that is overcome by the world ;” upon which subject he enlarged with much clearness and energy. By the living and powerful testimony of this man, which had made some impression upon his spirit ten years before, he was now thoroughly and effectually convinced, and afterwards constantly attended the meetings of that people, even through the heat of persecution.

On the third of the gth month, 1667, being again at a meeting in Cork, he, with many others, were apprehended and carried before the mayor, who obferving that his dress discovered not the Quaker, would have set him at liberty, upon bond for his good behaviour; which he refusing, was, with about eighteen others, committed to prison. He had, during his abode in Ireland, contracted an intimate acquaintance with many of the nobility and gentry, and, being now a prisoner, wrote the following letter.

To the Earl of Orrery, Lord President' of Munster.

[ocr errors]

backealled"); for

THE occasion may seem as strange, as my cause

1 is just; but your lordship will no less express your charity in the one, than your justice in the other.'

Religion, which is at once my crime and mine cinnocence, makes me a prisoner to a mayor's malice,

but mine own free-man; for being in the assembly

of the people called Quakers, there came several ( conftables, backed with foldiers, rudely and arbi

trarily requiring every man's appearance before the ( mayor, and amongst others, violently haled me with " them: upon my coining before him, he charged me < for being present at a tumultuous and riotous assem« bly; and unless I would give bond for my good behaviour, who challenge the world to accuse me juft

ly with the contrary, he would commit me. I asked < for his authority; for I humbly conceive without an " act of parliament, or an act of state, it might be

i justly juftly termed too much officiousness : his answer was, " A proclamation in the year 1660, and new instruc« tions to revive that dead and antiquated order.” I leave your lordship to be judge, if that proclamation relates to this concernment; that only was designed 'to suppress fifth-monarchy killing spirits; and since

the king's lord-lieutenant and yourself, being fully ' persuaded the intention of these called Quakers, by

their meetings, was really the service of God, have therefore manifested a repeal, by a long continuance of freedom, I hope your lordship will not now begin

an unusual severity, by indulging so much malice in rone, whose actions favour ill with his nearest neigh

bours, but that there may be a speedy releasement to all, for attending their honest callings, with the enjoyment of their families, and not to be longer separated from both.'

And though to diffent from a national system, imposed by authority, renders men hereticks, yet I dare I believe your lordship is better read in reason and

theology, than to subscribe a maxim so vulgar and runtrue; for imagining most visible constitutions

of religious government suited to the nature and genius of a civil empire, it cannot be esteemed heresy, but to scare a multitude from such enquiries

as may create divisions, fatal to a civil policy, and " therefore at worst deserves only the name of difturbers.' ! But I presume, my lord, the acquaintance you have had with other countries, muft needs have furnished you with this infallible observation, That diversities of faith and worship contribute not to the disturbance of any place, where moral uniformity ' is barely requisite to preserve the peace. It is not ' long since you were a good sollicitor for the liberty

I now crave, and concluded no way so effectual to improve or advantage this country, as to dispense with freedom in things relating to conscience ; and,

I suppose; were it riotous or tumultuary, as by some 'vainly imagined, your lordship’s inclination, as well




« PreviousContinue »