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said so of the apostles, when they came to preach the Gospel amongst them, to turn them from darkness to light; and the Papists, &c., of the Protestants, and such as endeavoured a further reformation; when it was they themselves were driven by the devil to persecute them as they did, thereby pushing themselves the more furiously on the government of Christ, who is . alone the king of conscience, as King Charles I. said; and also exposed themselves to the wrath of God, which hath been sharp upon them, “for the sharp which,” he says, “they turned upon them; whereupon,” says he, “the government unhappily proceeded unto the execution of the laws in scourging, and then banishing, and, upon their mad return, executing three or four of the chief offenders.” Is not this a rare history-writer, that cannot tell how many they put to death, or their names, or the causes, or when, or for what? Do the Histories of England run over the sufferings of the martyrs at this slight rate? Even Popish historians themselves, as Patavius the Jesuit, of John Huss and Jerome of Prague, calling them “glorious martyrs for the Truth of the Gospel; ” and doth not run on railing against them, as Cotton Mather doth against the Quakers, wherein he is worse than they ; and for “coming upon the point,” that was turned against them, and calling their return “mad.” The Papists might have said the same of the martyrs, that they knew their laws, and their whip with six strings, and why would they come upon it, or expose themselves to sufferings? But would that excuse them any more than the Jews, who said, “they had a law, and by their law Christ ought to die” P Oh! nay; nor will it those bloody persecutors of New England. And as to “with what spirit they died, that they showed little enough of the spirit of martyrdom,” I would fain know wherein; and beseech the reader to read, not only their examinations and speeches at their deaths, but also their papers in relation to their sufferings, especially their Epistles, &c., in the Aspendix to the first part of the book aforesaid, where are more than in the former edition, and compare them with the speeches and letters of
* Book of Martyrs, Vol. II., page 441.
the martyrs, in The Book of Martyrs, Vol. III., and also in the book of The Letters of the Saints and Martyrs of God, and see whether they do not savour of the spirit of martyrdom and holy resignation in the case. Some of their dying words I shall set down, viz., such as could not be heard for the drum; and rather because some of them, especially of the first two, are not in the former treatise, as William Robinson, on the ladder, “That this they suffered, not as evil-doers, but as those who testified and manifested the Truth;” saying, “This is the day of your visitation,” wherein the Lord hath visited you. This is the day the Lord is arisen in His mighty power, to be avenged of all His adversaries; and therefore desired them to mind the light that was in them, the light of Christ of which he testified, and was now going to seal it with his blood,” (at which Priest Wilson reviled,) and, as they covered his face with his neckcloth, he said, “Now ye are made manifest.” And as the executioner was about to turn him off, he said, “I suffer for Christ, in whom I lived and for whom I die.” Marmaduke Stevenson being on the ladder, said to the people, “Be it known unto all this day, that we suffer not as evil-doers, but for conscience' sake.” And as the executioner was going to turn him off, he spoke these words, “This day shall we be at rest with the Lord.” Mary Dyer, when sentence of death was passed on her, said, “The will of the Lord be done.” And the marshal being, commanded to take her away, she said, “Yea, and joyfully I go.” And on the way to the prison, often used such speeches, with “Praises to the Lord” for the same; and bid the marshal “let her alone, for she should go to the prison without him.” “I believe you, Mrs. Dyer,” said he, “but I must do what I am commanded.” And as she went to the place of execution, she said, “It is the greatest joy and hour I can enjoy in this world;” with these words, “No eye can see, no ear can hear, no tongue can speak, no heart can understand the sweet incomes and refreshings of the Spirit of the Lord which I now enjoy.” And at the time of execution, to some that said, “If she would return, she might come down and save her life,” she answered, “Nay, I cannot, for in obedience to the will of the Lord God I came, and in His will I abide faithful to the death.” “And to Captain Webb, who said, “She had been there before, and had the sentence of banishment on pain of death, and had broken the law, in coming again now as well as formerly, and therefore she was guilty of her own blood;” to which she said, “Nay, I came to keep blood-guiltiness from you, desiring you to repeal the unrighteous and unjust"law of banishment upon pain of death, made against the innocent servants of the Lord, therefore my blood will be required at your hands who wilfully do it; but for those that do it in the simplicity of their hearts, I do desire the Lord to forgive them. I came to do the will of my Father, and in obedience to His will I stand, even to the death.” And to Priest Wilson, bidding her “repent,” &c., she said, “Nay, man, I am not now to repent.” Being asked, “Whether she would have the elders to pray for her?” she said, “I know never an elder here.” They asked, “Whether she would have any of the people to pray for her?” She said, “She desired the prayers of all the people of God.” Some scoffingly said, “It may be she thinks there is none here.” She, looking about, said, “I know but few here.” Then they spoke to her again, “that one of the elders might pray for her;” she replied, “Nay, first a child, then a young man, then a strong man before an elder of Christ Jesus,” with other words. William Leddra at his examination answered to one that asked him, “If he would recant of those errors?” viz., saying thee and thou to a single person, and not putting off his hat, “What! to join with such murderers as you are? Then let every man that meets me say, Lo, this is the man that hath forsaken the God of his salvation 1" and on their telling him “he might have had liberty, if he would have promised to come there no more,” he answered, “I stand not in my own will, but in the will of the Lord. If I may have my freedom, I shall go; but to make such a promise I cannot.” And when he was on the ladder, he said to Thomas Wilkie, “Friend, know that this day I am willing to offer up my life for the witness of Jesus.” And to the people he said, “For bearing my testimony for the Lord against deceivers and the deceived, I am brought here to suffer.”* As the executioner was putting the halter about his neck, he said, “I commit my righteous cause unto Thee, O God,” and as he was turning off the ladder he said, “Lord Jesus, receive my soul, for unto Thee I commit my spirit.” And they overcame by the blood of the Lamb, and the word of their testimony; “and they loved not their lives unto the death.” And “precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.” Yea, Wenlock Christison, though they did not put him to death, yet they sentenced him to die, so that their cruel purposes were nevertheless. I cannot forbear to mention what he spoke, being so prophetical, not only as to the judgment of God coming on Major-general Adderton, but as to their putting any more Quakers to death after they had passed sentence on him, viz., “The will of the Lord be done, in whose will I come amongst you, and in His counsel Istand, feeling His eternal power, that will uphold me unto the last gasp, I do not question it.” And saying, “Known be it unto you all, that if you have power to take my life from me, my soul shall enter into everlasting rest and peace with God, where you yourselves shall never come; and if you have power to take my life from me, the which I do question, I do believe you shall never more take Quakers' lives from them. [Note my words.] Do not think to weary out the living God by taking away the lives of His servants,” &c. See more before, page 210, f which is much like what Roger Holland, whom the Papists burned at a stake in Smithfield, spoke in the spirit of prophecy a little before his death, that “God would shorten their hand of cruelty, and that after that day in that place there should not be any put to the trial of fire and fagot.” And so it came to pass; which I have set down for the reader to compare and see whether “they showed little of the spirit of martyrdom” in their death, and whether, as he says, “they died not like the true martyrs of Jesus Christ, with the glorious Spirit of God resting on them;” which I still desire to know wherein, and let the unprejudiced judge; and that this is only the effect of his malicious spirit against them so to say, which I leave to the Lord to judge him for. And what will not envy misrepresent? They died so like the martyrs of Jesus Christ, with the glorious Spirit of God resting on them, yea, and supporting them to the last, that it so affected the hearts of many at the time that several were convinced of the Truth at their deaths, as is related in the former treatise; therefore it is little matter what Cotton Mather says to the contrary, for “Ill will speaks well of none.” If such things had been taken only from adversaries, or the persecutors' words had been credited in relation to the martyrs, there would have been no true history of them in the world, as he says:— Book III., Chap. i., page 1.—“And if a man should have no other ideas of the Puritan Christians in our days, than what the Tory pens of the sons of Bolsecus have given them, we would think that it was a just thing to banish them into the cold swamps of the North America.” So, I may say, if a man were to have no other account of the Quakers than what he hath from the partial and prejudiced pens of such as Cotton Mather, they might think it no wonder, especially if they were of a persecuting spirit, like themselves, to have them not only banished into the swamps of North America, but also put to death; but as there is not only a better relation of the Puritans, and other good people before them, so there is and shall be of our Friends, which I hope the impartial will credit before the Tory pens of their adversaries, as they have done the relations of the people of God in former ages. And of the like nature is his saying, “A fierce, a raging, a sullen and revengeful spirit, and a degree of madness rather inspired them;” which I return on him as malicious slanders and calumnies, and dare him to tell wherein they were fierce, raging, or revengeful. Did they ever go to revenge themselves, or offer violence to any? No, they left “vengeance to the Lord, to whom it belongs, and who will repay it,” as he hath said and done; and
* Call from Death to Life. P. Pearson's Relation, page 4; and E. Burroughs' Declaration of the Sad and Great Persecution and Martyrdom, &c.
* N. Upshall's Relation, Appendix to the first part of George Bishop's first edition, page 196.
f See it, and his last words, Book of Martyrs, edition 1641, Vol. III., pages 877 and 878.