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evil suspicion, or sinister thoughts concern. ing me.
The stop I met with at Maindenhead, had spent me so much time, that when I came to Isaac Pennington's, the meeting there was half over, which gave them occasion, after meeting, to inquire of me, if any thing had befallen me on the way, which had caused me to come so late. Whereupon I related to them what exercise I had met with, and how the Lord had helped me through it; which when they had heard, they rejoiced with me, and for my sake.
Great was the love, and manifold the kind. nesses, which I received from these my wor. thy friends Isaac and Mary Pennington, while I abode in their family. They were indeed as affectionate parents, and tender nurses to me in this time of my religious childhood. For besides their weighty and seasonable counsels, and exemplary conversations, they furnished me with means to go to the other meet. ings of friends in that country, when the meeting was not in their own house. And indeed, the time I staid with them was so well spent, that it not only yielded great satisfaction to my mind, but turned in good measure to my spiritual advantage in the truth.
But that I might not, on the one hand, bear too hard upon my friends, nor on the other hand forget the house of thraldom, after I had staid with them some six or seven
weeks, from the time called Easter, to the time called Whitsuntide, I took my leave of them, to depart home; intending to walk to Wiccomb in one day, and from thence home in another.
That day that I came home I did not see my father, nor until noon the next day, when I went into the parlour where he was, to take my usual place at dinner.
As soon as I came in, I observed by my father's countenance, that my hat was still
offence to him ; but when I had sat down, and before I had eaten any thing, he made me understand it more fully, by saying to me, (but in a milder tone than he had formerly used to speak to me in) if you cannot content yourself to come to dinner without your hive on your head, (so he called my hat) pray rise, and go take your dinner somewhere else.
Upon these words I arose from the table, and leaving the room went into the kitchen; where I staid till the servants went to dinner, and then sat down very contentedly with them. Yet I suppose my father might intend that I should have gone into some other room, and there have eaten by myself. But I chose rather to eat with the servants; and did so from thenceforward, so long as he and I lived together. And from this time he rather chose, as I thought, to avoid seeing me, than to renew the quarrel about my hat.
My sisters, meanwhile, observing my wariness in words and behaviour, and being satis. fied, I suppose, that I acted upon a principle of religion and conscience, carried themselves very kindly to me; and did what they could to mitigate my father's displeasure against me. So that I now enjoyed much more quiet at home, and took more liberty to go abroad amongst my friends, than I had done, or could do before. And having informed myself where any meetings of friends were holden, within a reasonable distance from me, I resorted to them.
At first I went to a town called Haddenham, in Buckinghamshire, five miles from my father's; where, at the house of one Belson, a few who were called Quakers, did meet sometimes on a first-day of the week; but I found little satisfaction there. Afterwards upon further inquiry, I understood there was. a settled meeting at a little village called Mea. dle, about four long miles from me, in the house: of one John White, which is continued there still :: and to that thenceforward I constantly went, while I abode in that country, and was able. Many a sore day's travel have I had thither and back again ; being commonly, in the winter time, how fair soever the weather was over head, wet up to the ancles at least t; yet through the goodness of the Lord to me,, I was preserved in health.
A little meeting also there was, on the fourth-day of the week, at a town called Bled.
low, two miles from me, in the house of one Thomas Saunders, who professed the truth; but his wife, whose name was Damaris, did possess it, she being a woman of great sincerity and lively sense; and to that meeting also I usually went.
But though I took this liberty for the ser. vice of God, that I might worship him in the assemblies of his people, yet did I not use it upon other occasions, but spent my time, on other days, for the most part in my chamber, in retiredness of mind, waiting on the Lord. And the Lord was graciously pleased to visit me, by his quickening spirit and life; so that I came to feel the operation of his power in my heart, working out that which was con. trary to his will, and giving me in measure, dominion over it.
And as my spirit was kept in a due subjee* tion to this Divine power, I grew into a nearer acquaintance with the Lord; and the Lord vouchsafed to speak unto me, in the inward of my soul, and to open my understanding in his fear, to receive counsel from him; so that I not only, at sometimes heard his voice, but could distinguish his voice from the voice of the enemy:
As thus. I daily waited on the Lord, a weighty and unusual exercise came upon me; which bowed my spirit very low before the Lord, I had seen in the light of the Lord, the horrible guilt of those deceitful priests,
of divers sorts and denominations, who made a trade of preaching; and for filthy lucre's sake held the people always learning; yet so taught them, as that by their teaching and ministry, they were never able to come to the knowledge, much less to the acknowlecigment of the truth ; for as they themselves hated the light, because their own deeds were evil, so by reviling, reproaching, and blaspheming the true light, wherewith every man that cometh into the world is enlightened, (John i. 9.) they begat in the people a disesteem of the light; and laboured, as much as in them lay, to keep their hearers in the darkness, that they might not be turned to the light in themselves, lest by the light they should discover the wickedness of these their deceitful teachers; and turn from them,
Against this practice of these false teachers, the zeal of the Lord had famed in my breast for some time; and now the burthen of the word of the Lord against them, fell heavy upon me, with command to proclaim his controversy against them.
Fain would I have been excused from this service, which I judged too heavy for me; wherefore, I besought the Lord to take this weight from off me, who was, in every re. spect, but young;
young; and lay it upon some other of his servants, of whom he had many, who were much more able and fit for it. But the Lord would not be intreated, but continued the burden upon me, with greater weight;