The Beginnings of Quakerism

By William C. Braithwaite | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XVIII
THE RESTORATION YEAR (1660)

As concerning those late overturnings . . . be not ye troubled nor shaken in mind because of these things. There is a secret hand working in and through all these overturnings; and they come not to pass without the knowledge of the Lord, for making way for greater things, which the Lord hath to bring to pass in this nation for much is yet to be thrown down, before truth and righteousness be set up. My advice and counsel is that every one of you, who love and believe in the light, be still and quiet, and side not with any parties, but own and cherish the good wherever it appears, and testify against the evil in all wherever it appears, not like the children of this world, warring with carnal weapons against flesh and blood to destroy men's lives, but like Christians with spiritual weapons warring against spiritual wickedness . . . not striking at creatures, but at the power that captivates the creatures, that so the creatures may be redeemed from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the sons of God.-- ALEXANDER PARKER, "Letter of 14th January 1660", in Letters of Early Friends, p.368.

THE swift overthrow of Puritanism is at first sight one of the strangest passages in English history. When Oliver died, his Government stood at its greatest height of power. "Abroad his arms had been successful and his influence decisive; at home all opposition and intrigue, Royalist and Republican alike, had been beaten down, and his hold over the army remained unshaken."1 But in reality Cromwell, who had struck down King and Parliament when they stood in the way of what he believed to be the interests of the nation, had failed to rear any stable government in their stead. His rule at the last was an unsanctioned military absolutism; the Commonwealth of England rested on force and not on consent. As soon as his supreme personality was withdrawn, it was inevitable

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1
Cambridge Modern History, iv. 448.

-468-

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