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FROM THE LAMB'S WAR TO THE QUAKER MAGISTRATE: THEOCRACY AND DEMOCRACY IN EARLY NEW JERSEY By Hugh Barbour* When the Quakers began to settle colonies and set up their governments, they were turning to quite different goals and habits from their former mission to convince the world through the Inward Light. Along the way, their ideal of a nation ruled by totally Spirit-led men was overlaid by concerns for the rights and roles of many men of varying faiths. The Quaker settlements in New Jersey were the key stage in this transition. The first Friends to see New Jersey did not settle there : they were Thomas Thurston and Josiah Coale from Gloucestershire, who traveled overland from Maryland with the Virginia Friend Thomas Chapman in 1658. Their goal was Boston, from which Thurston and ten other Quakers had already been expelled two years before, and where two Quaker martyrs were to hang the following year. They were part of the great campaign to break down the barriers of puritan Massachusetts, and this itself was simply part of the worldwide warfare of the Friends to bring all mankind into submission to the Spirit of God. This they named "the Lamb's War," from the victories predicted for Christ the Lamb in the biblical Book of Revelation.1 The Quaker campaign was undertaken and fought in the hearts of men, but it led to the transforming of outward dress, speech, and business customs , and to battles against all injustice and intolerance. Friends believed that a new era in the whole world's history under God had begun. Its political implications involved the theocratic rule of nations by the Spirit in the Saints. Friends saw their movement in a strongly apocalyptic light, just as Jesus' own apostles had done, as witnessed in the Book of Revelation. In cold prose, the six years after 1652—when Quakerism first had flowered in the mass meetings at Firbank Fell and across northwestern Eng- * Hugh Barbour is Associate Professor of Religion at Earlham College. 1 Rev. 77:13-14, etc. This was also the title of one of James Nayler's most powerful tracts, calling each man to inward war against sin. 4 Quaker History land—saw the convincement of some 40,000 people in all parts of Britain and Europe. Similarly, Coale and Thurston spent the winter of 1657-58 in winning new Quakers among the Maryland settlers, and in inwardly building up the meetings which Elizabeth Harris had gathered there; but they had neither time nor interest for clearing empty American woodland themselves. Thus, though men today appreciate the idealism and statecraft of the colonizers of New Jersey and Pennsylvania, they often fail to recognize the narrowing of Quaker goals that was involved. Before turning to their new political ideas and their sources, we must review the Friends' starting-point (there is a fuller description in my book).2 The summary in the section which now follows uses new illustrations from the writings of those Friends most closely linked with the New Jersey experiments, but they were men typical of their movement. II The Lamb's War began for each Quaker as an inner struggle. Early journals regularly begin with a period of judgment and torment. We may take as typical the experience of John Burnyeat , later a visitor to all the American colonies. Like most of the Quaker leaders, he had been a farm boy, with a sober, rather puritanical upbringing, and a secure but modest income and education; he was from the north of England. In the year 1653 [he wrote], it pleased the Lord in his Love and Mercy to send his faithful servant George Fox. . . . With the eternal power of his Word, he proclaimed the Day of the Lord unto us, in this County of Cumberland . . . through which deep Judgment did spring in my Soul. . . . For God ... let me see the body . . . and power of Sin which reigned in me, and brought me to feel the guilt of it upon my Conscience. . . . And I came to see there was need of a Saviour to save from Sin, as well as the blood of a sacrificed Christ to blot out Sin...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1934-1504
Print ISSN
0033-5053
Pages
pp. 3-23
Launched on MUSE
2012-04-04
Open Access
No
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