Saturday, December 1, 2012

Catharine Evans and Sarah Cheevers against idols

Once, on a first day of the week, the friars came, and commanded them to kneel down with them to prayer. They signified they could not pray but as they were moved by the Lord. Then the friars commanded them the second time, and kneeled down by their bed-side, and prayed after this manner; which being done they said to the women, 'We have tried your spirits; now we know what spirit ye are of.' But they told them they could not know that, unless their minds were turned to the light of Christ in their consciences. The English friar then growing angry, showed them his crucifix, and bade them look on it. But they told him the Lord saith, "Thou shalt not make to thyself the likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or in the earth beneath, or in the water under the earth ; thou shalt not bow down to them, nor worship them ; but I the Lord thy God am a jealous God." The friar seeing Sarah speak so boldly to him, called for the irons to chain her. She then bowed her head, and said to him, 'Not only my hands and feet, but my neck also for the testimony of Jesus.' The friar seeming appeased, said he would do them any good he could; for he saw what they did was not in malice. And the friars came often, and said to them, 'If ye would but do a little ye should be set at liberty; but you will do nothing at all, but are against every thing.' To which they returned, that they would do any thing that might tend to God's glory.
She [Catharine] then asking what kind of charity this was, since he kept her in prison; the friar said, it was for the good of their souls he kept them in prison; farther adding, 'If you had not been going to preach, ye might have gone where ye would.' She returned; 'Our souls are out of the inquisitor's reach. Why should your love extend more to us than to your own family: for they commit all manner of sin, which you cannot charge us with. Why do not ye put them into the inquisition, and bid them turn?' He then said, 'You have not the true faith;' and showing her his crucifix, asked her, if she thought he did worship that: and she asked him, what then did he with it: to which he answered, it was a representation. And she replied, it did not represent Christ, for he was the express image of his Father's glory, which is light and life. 'But,' continued she, 'if thou canst put any life in any of thy images, then bring them to me. What representation had Daniel in the lion's den, or Jonah in the whale's belly? They cried unto the Lord, and he delivered them.' The friar, who could not abide to hear her speak so much against idols, said she talked like a mad woman, adding, 'I will give you to the devil.' She not fearing this, said, 'Give thy own, I am the Lord's.' He then stood up, and said, 'I will do to you as the apostles did to Ananias and Sapphira.' She then standing up also, said, 'I deny thee in the name of the Lord the living God, thou hast no power over me.'
They [Catharine Evans and Sarah Cheevers] were assaulted both from abroad, and within doors from the friars, who fiercely threatened them for their bold testimony against idolatry. Once when they showed Sarah the Virgin Mary and her babe pictured against a wall, and would have her look upon it, she, to show her zeal against idol-worship, stamped with her foot, and said, 'Cursed are all images, and image makers, and those that fall down to worship them.'

—William Sewel, The history of the rise, increase, and progress of the Christian people, called Quakers [The whole story about Catharine Evans and Sarah Cheevers starts on p. 495]