« PreviousContinue »
at work, and the earth was helping the woman. But when they had done, I applied myself to the chief justice, desiring that I might speak, and he said I might. Then I related the cause of our journey, the manner of our being taken and committed, and the time of our imprisonment until the sessions; with a brief account of our trial at the sessions, and what I had offered to the justices then, as a declaration, that I could make or sign, instead of the oaths of allegiance and supremacy. When I had done, the chief justice said I was to be turned over to the king's bench, and the sheriff of Worcester to be discharged of me. He said also that they would consider further of it; and if they found any error in the record, or in the justices' proceedings, I should be set at liberty. So a tipstaff was called to take me into custody, and he delivered me to the keeper of the king'sbench, who let me go to a friend's house, where I lodged, and appointed to meet me at Edward Man's, in Bishopsgate-street, next day. But after this, justice Parker, or some other of my adversaries, moved the court that I might be sent back to Worcester. Whereupon another day was appointed for another hearing, and they had four counsels that pleaded against me; and there was one Geo. Stroud, a counsellor, that pleaded for me, and was pleading before I was brought into the court; but they bore him down, and prevailed with the judges to give judgment, that I should be sent down to Worcester sessions. Only they told me I might put in bail to appear at the sessions, and to be of the good behaviour in the mean time. But I told them I was never in ill behaviour in my life; and that they, the four judges, might as well put the oath to me there as send me to Worcester to be ensnared by the justices, in their put. ting the oath to me, and then premuniring me, who never took oath in my life. But I told them, if I brake my yea and nay, I was content to suffer the same penalty which they should that break their oaths. The alteration of the judges' minds in my case, proceeded (as was thought) from some false informations that my adversary, justice Parker, had given against me: for between the times of my former appearance and this, he had spread abroad a very false and malicious story, viz. that there were many substantial men with me, out of several parts of the nation, when he took me; and that we had a design or plot in hand, and that Thomas Lower staid with me in prison long after he was set at liberty, to carry on our design. This was spoken in the parliament-house, insomuch, that if I had not been brought up to London when I was, I had been stopped at Worcester, and Thomas had been recommitted with me,
But although these lies were easily disproved, and laid open to Parker's shame, yet would not the judges alter their last sentence, but remanded me to Worcester jail; only this favour was granted, that I might go down my own way, and at my own leisure, provided I would be without fail there by the assize, which was to begin on the second-day of the second month next following.
So I staid in and about london till toward the latter end of the first month, 1674, and then went down leisurely (for I was not able to abide hasty and hard travel), and came into Worcester on the last day of the first month, 1674, being the day before the judges came to town. On the second day of the second month I was brought from the jail to an inn near the hall, that I might be in readiness if I should be called. But not being called that day, the jailer came to me at night, and told me I might go home, (meaning to the jail), whereupon Gerrard Roberts of Lon. don being with me, he and I walked down together to the jail without any keeper. Next day being brought up again, they set a little boy of about eleven years old, to be my keeper. I came to understand that justice Parker and the clerk of the peace had given order, that I should not be put into the calendar, that so I might not be brought before the judge; wherefore I got the judge's son to move in court, that I might be called ; and thereupon I was called, and brought up to the bar before judge Turner, my old ad. versary, who had tendered me the oaths and premunired me once before at Lancaster. After silence made, he asked me what I did desire? I answered, My liberty, according to justice. He said, I lay upon the oath, and asked if I would take it. I desired he would hear the manner of my being taken and committed, and he being silent, I gave him an account thereof at large, as is before set down, letting him also know, that since my imprisonment I had understood that my mother, who was an ancient, tender woman, and had desired to see me before she died, hearing that I was stopped and imprisoned in my journey, so that I was not likely to come to see her, it struck her so, that she died soon after : which was a very hard thing to me, When ( had done speaking he again asked me to take the oaths; I told him I could not take any oath for consciencesake, and I did believe he and they all knew in their consciences, that it was for conscience-sake I could not swear at all. But I did declare amongst them what I could say, and what I could sign, in owning of the king's right to the government, and in denying the pope and his pretended power, and all plotters, plots, and conspiracies against the
government. Some thought the judge bed a mind to have set me at liberty, for he saw they had nothing justly against me; but Parker, who committed me, endeavoured to incense him against me, telling him that I was a ringleader; that many of the nation followed me, and he knew not what it might come to; with many more envious words, which some that stood near took notice of; who also observed that the judge gave hinı never a word in answer to it. However, the judge, willing to ease himself, referred me and my case to the sessions again, bidding the justices make an end of it there, and not trouble the assizes any more with me. So I was continued prisoner chiefly (as it seemed) through the means of justice Parker, who in this case, was as false as envioue; for he had promised Richard Cannon of London, (who had, it seems, acquaintance with him) that he would endeavour to have me set at liberty; and yet he was the worst enemy I had in court, as some of the court observed and reported. Other of the justices were very loving, and promised that I should have the liberty of the town, and io lodge at a friend's house till the sessions; which accordingly i had, and the people were very civil and respectful to me.
Between this time and the sessions (having the liberty of the town for my health's sake) I had some service for the Lord with several people that came to visit me. For at one time there canie three nonconformist priests and two lawyers to discourse with me, and one of the priests undertook to prove, that the scriptures are the only rule of life. Whereupon, after ! bad plunged him about his proof, I had a fit opportunity to open unto them the right and proper use, service, and excellency of the scriptures; and also to shew that the Spirit of God, which was given to every one to profit withial, and the grace of God, which bringeth salvation, and which hath appeared to all men, and teacheth them that obey it to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world ; that this, I say, is the most fit, proper and universal rule, which God hath given to all mankind to rule, direct, govern, and order their lives by.
Another time there came a common-prayer priest, and some people with him, and he asked me if I was grown up to perfection? I told him, what I was, I was hy the grace of God. He replied, it was a modest and civil answer. Then he urged 'the words of John, “ If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." And he asked, what did I say to that? I said, with the same apostle, “If we say that we have not sinued, we
make him a liar, and his word is not in us; " who came to destroy sin, and to take away sin. So there is a time for people to see that they have sinned, and there is a time for them to see that they have sin; and there is a time for them to confess their sin, and to forsake it, and to know the blood of Christ to cleanse from all sin. Then the priest was asked, whether Adam was not perfect before he fell? and whether all God's works were not perfect? The priest said, there might be a perfection, as À dam had, and a falling from it. But I told him, there is a perfection in Christ, above Adam, and beyond falling, and that it was the work of the ministers of Christ, to present every man perfect in Christ; and for the perfecting of them they had their gifts from Christ; and therefore, they that denied perfection denied the work of the ministry, and the gifts which Christ gave for the perfecting of the saints. The priest said, we must always be striving. But I told him, it was a sad and comfortless sort of striving, to strive with a belief that we should never overcome. I told him also that Paul, who cried out of the body of death, did also thank God, who gave him the victory, through our Lord Jesus Christ. So there was a time of crying out for want of victory, and a time of praising God for the victory. And Paul said, there is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus. The priest said, Job was not perfect. I told him, God said, Job was a perfect man, and that he did shun evil: and the devil wns forced to confess that God had set an hedge about him, which was not an outward hedge, but the invisible heavenly power. The priest said, Job said “ He chargeth his angels with folly, and the heavens are not clean in his sight.” I told him that was his wistake, for it was not Job said so, but Eliphaz, who contended against Job. Well but, said the priest, what say you to that scripture, " The justest man that is sinneth seven times a day." Why truly (said I) I say, there is no such scripture; and with that the priest's mouth was stopped. Many other services I had with several sorts of people between the assizes and the sessions.
The next quarter-sessions began on the twenty-ninth day of the second month, and there I was called before the justices. The chairman's name was — Street, who was a judge in the Welch circuit; and he misrepresented me and my case to the country, telling them that we had a meeting at Tredington, from all parts of the nation, to the terrifying of the king's subjects, for which we had been committed to prison : that for the trial of my fidelity the oaths were pui to me; and having had time to consider of
it, he asked me if I would now take the oaths ? I desired liberty to speak for myself, and having obtained that, began first to clear myself from those falsehoods he had charged on me and friends, declaring that we had not any such meeting from all parts of the nation, as he had represented it; but that (except the friend from whose house we came, and who came with us to guide us thither, and one friend of Bristol, who came accidentally, or rather providentially, to assist my wife homewards after we were taken) they that were with me were in a sense part of my own family, being my wife and her daughter, and her son-inlaw. And we did not meet in any way or manner that would occasion terror to any of the king's subjects, for we met peaceably and quietly without arms; and I did not believe there could any one be produced, that could truly say he was terrified with our meeting. Besides, I told them, we were but in our journey, the occasion whereof I now again related as before. Then as to the oaths, I shewed why I could not take them (seeing Christ hath forbidden all swearing), and what I could say or sign in lieu of them, as I had done before. Yet they caused the oaths to be read to me again, and afterwards read an indictment also, which they had drawn up in readiness, having a jury ready also. Now when the indictment was read, the judge asked me if I was guilty ? I said, nay, for it was a great bundle of lies, which I shewed and proved to the judge in several particulars, which I instanced ; asking him if he did not know in his conscience that they were lies ? He said, it was their form. I said it was not a true form. He asked me again whether I was guilty? I told him nay, I was not guilty of the matter nor of the form : for I was against the pope and popery, and did acknowledge and should set my hand to that. Then the judge told the jury what they should say, and what they should do, and what they should write on the back side of the indictment; and as he said, they did. But before the jury gave in their verdict, I spake to them, and told them, that it was for Christ's sake, and in obedience to his and the apostle's command, that I could not swear; and therefore (said 1) take heed what ye do, for before his judgment seat ye shall all be brought. The judge said, this is canting (a base word). I said, if to confess Christ our Lord and Saviour, and to obey his command, be called canting by a judge of a court, it is to little purpose for me to say more among you: yet ye shall see that I am a Christian, and shall shew forth Christianity, and my innocency shall be manifest. So the jailer led me out of the court; and the people were generally