him, and shall publish the Gospel truths he may feel
inwardly, such an one may be assured that he is inspired
by the Lord.” He then poured forth a numberless
multitude of Scripture texts which proved, as he imagined,
that there is no such thing as Christianity without
an immediate revelation, and added these remarkable
words: “When thou movest one of thy limbs,
is it moved by thy own power? Certainly not;
for this limb is often sensible to involuntary motions.
Consequently he who created thy body gives motion
to this earthly tabernacle. And are the several
ideas of which thy soul receives the impression formed
by thyself? Much less are they, since these
pour in upon thy mind whether thou wilt or no; consequently
thou receivest thy ideas from Him who created thy
soul. But as He leaves thy affections at full
liberty, He gives thy mind such ideas as thy affections
may deserve; if thou livest in God, thou actest, thou
thinkest in God. After this thou needest only
but open thine eyes to that light which enlightens
all mankind, and it is then thou wilt perceive the
truth, and make others perceive it.” “Why,
this,” said I, “is Malebranche’s
doctrine to a tittle.” “I am acquainted
with thy Malebranche,” said he; “he had
something of the Friend in him, but was not enough
so.” These are the most considerable particulars
I learnt concerning the doctrine of the Quakers.
In my next letter I shall acquaint you with their
history, which you will find more singular than their
You have already heard that the Quakers date from
Christ, who, according to them, was the first Quaker.
Religion, say these, was corrupted a little after
His death, and remained in that state of corruption
about sixteen hundred years. But there were
always a few Quakers concealed in the world, who carefully
preserved the sacred fire, which was extinguished
in all but themselves, until at last this light spread
itself in England in 1642.
It was at the time when Great Britain was torn to
pieces by the intestine wars which three or four sects
had raised in the name of God, that one George Fox,
born in Leicestershire, and son to a silk-weaver, took
it into his head to preach, and, as he pretended,
with all the requisites of a true apostle—that
is, without being able either to read or write.
He was about twenty-five years of age, irreproachable
in his life and conduct, and a holy madman.
He was equipped in leather from head to foot, and
travelled from one village to another, exclaiming against
war and the clergy. Had his invectives been
levelled against the soldiery only he would have been
safe enough, but he inveighed against ecclesiastics.
Fox was seized at Derby, and being carried before
a justice of peace, he did not once offer to pull
off his leathern hat, upon which an officer gave him
a great box of the ear, and cried to him, “Don’t
you know you are to appear uncovered before his worship?”