The Beginnings of Quakerism

By William C. Braithwaite | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VI
FURTHER WORK IN THE NORTH (1653-1654)

The next day we came through the country into Cumberland again, where we bad a General Meeting of many thousands of people atop of an hill near Langlands. A glorious and heavenly meeting it was; for the glory of the Lord did shine over all; and there were as many as one could well speak over, the multitude was so great. Their eyes were fixed on Christ, their Teacher, and they came to sit under their own vine, insomuch that Francis Howgill coming afterwards to visit them, found they had no need of words. . . . A great convincement there was in Cumberland, Bishopric, Northumberland, Westmorland, Lancashire, and Yorkshire, and the plants of God grew and flourished so, the heavenly rain descending and God's glory shining upon them, that many mouths were opened by the Lord to His praise, yea to babes and sucklings He ordained strength.-- GEORGE FOX, Journal, i. 182 (anno 1653).

AFTER the Lancaster assizes Fox spent the midwinter of 1652-53 at Swarthmore, whence he issued several strongly worded letters to those who had persecuted Friends. Meanwhile the Westmorland clergy had roused themselves, and were petitioning the justices against Nayler, Fox, and Howgill. Nayler found the Kendal people hostile, and in November he and Howgill were taken before a justice at Kirby Stephen and were committed to Appleby gaol.1 At the January sessions Hayler was charged with blasphemy for saying that Christ was in him, and that there was but one Word of God. The striking account he gave of his spiritual experience convinced, as we have seen, one of the justices, Anthony Pearson, as he sat on the Bench, and another justice, Gervase Benson, was already a Friend. There was clearly

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1
For the trial see Nayler Works, pp. 1-16. See also Besse, Sufferings, ii. 3-6. Cf. F.P. T. p. 248, and letter, Nayler to Margt. Fell, Swarthm. Colln. i. 85.

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