Something concerning the Proceedings of Thomas Willmate, Vicar of the Parish of Broms­grove, in the County of Worcester, against me John Boweter, (who am a Prisoner for the Te­stimony of Christ Jesus) with a Salutation of Love to my loving and kind Neighbours.

MAny have been the Troubles of the Righteous, but the Lord hath been their Deliverer, who said, I will not leave you Comfortless: He hath been a Comfort unto us in the time of our Affliction, who hath made a Prison like a Palace unto us, as in faithfulness we have given up all for his Name-sake, and suffered the spoiling of our Goods chearfully, we have not lost our Reward, we have had peace in the Lord (when our Adversa­ries have been tormented) and the Promise of Christ in the World to come, which is Life Everlasting: And the Apostle Paul, who had a part in sufferings, said, I reckon the Sufferings of this present Life is not to be compared to the Glory that shall be re­vealed. This is that which makes our Sufferings comfortable unto us; this Recompence Moses had an Eye unto, who refused the Glory of Aegypt, chusing rather to suffer Affliction with the People of God, than to enjoy the Pleasures of Sin for a season; counting the Reproach of Christ greater Riches than all the Treasure of Aegypt.

But some may say, Ye Quakers thrust your selves into Sufferings; What matter of Conscience is it to detain your Tythe from a Minister?

To this I Answer: Some years ago, Thomas Willmate, Vicar of the Parish of Bromsgrove (a profest Minister of the Gospel, but not in the Practice of the true Gospel Ministers in the primi­tive Times) in which Parish I have had my abode from my Childhood) he sending to me to demand Tythe, I not being satisfied in my Spirit concerning paying Tythe in these Gospel times, I went unto him, expecting he might have satisfied me, or he have been satisfied with my Proposal, which was this; If [Page 2] he could prove himself a Minister of the Gospel, and Tythe a Gospel Maintenance, I would pay him Tythe: But being he neither did, nor could make out to me by the Scripture, I refused to pay him; because Christ (who is a Priest unto God, and hath put an end to that Priesthood that Tythe was to be paid unto) said, Every Plant that my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up, Mat. 15.13. I never read in the Scripture of the New Testa­ment, that Christ ever ordained Tythe to be a Maintenance for his Ministers, neither was Tythe established by his holy Apostles for a Maintenance for Ministers, but rather in the time of Popery, when that Apostatizing Spirit was entred, of which Jude spoke, Jude 11. Who run greedily after the Error of Balaam for Reward, who were not content with such things as were set before them; stirred up the Rulers to make Laws to compel a Maintenance, being departed from that purity that was in the primitive Church; and so not content to receive freely of the Lord, and so to administer freely, but in the steps of those Christ spoke of, That should come in Sheeps Cloathing, but inwardly ravening Wolves. Tythe was not a Maintenance appointed by Christ nor his Apostles for Ministers, for it belonged to the Tribe of Levi in the time of the Law, who were for the offer­ing up of Sacrifices; they were to set open their Gates that the Widdow, Fatherless and Strangers might be relieved. But Christ being come and offered up, became the compleat Sa­crifice to God for us, and a Reconciler betwixt God and Man, and so no need of that Priesthood now; The Priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change of the Law also, Heb. 7.

But some may say, Did not Christ say, in Luke 11.42. Ye Tythe Mint, Rue, and all manner of Herbs, these things ye ought to do?

Answ. This was not spoke to his Ministers, nor to Christians, to establish Tythe amongst them, but to those that were under the Law, and were boasting of their Righteousness under the Law; for Christ said, Wo unto you Scribes, Pharisees and Hypo­crites, for ye pay Tythe of Mint, Annis, &c. and omit or neglect the weighty matters of the Law, Mat. 23.23. These were not Christians, but were under the Law, which Law Christ came to fulfill, and did fulfill the Law, which was a Shadow of the good things to come. Now Christ, who is the Substance, being come, the Sha­dows were to pass away. And so, Christ being the end of the [Page 3] Law for Righteousness sake to every one that believes, Rom. 10.4. Who being nailed to the Cross, became a Sacrifice acceptable with the Fa­ther. And so, this acceptable Sacrifice being once offered up for all, there is no need now of those former Shadows nor Ceremo­nies that were in the time of the Law: No need now of those Priests to offer up Sacrifices: No need now of offering as former­ly; for Christ is the Offering acceptable with God, whom God raised up from the dead; he hath led Captivity captive, and gi­ven Gifts unto men, by which Gifts of his holy Spirit many were furnished for the Work of the Ministry, and were faithful Labourers in the Work and Service of the Lord, not seeking their own Honour, but the Honour of God, and the Good of Souls; Not coveting any mans Silver, Gold or Apparel, but la­bouring to bring them unto the Lord: These freely received of the Lord, and as good Stewards of the manifold Grace of God, ad­ministred freely; these did not seek after the Fleece, but to ga­ther the Flock, and to Feed the Flock of God, taking the Oversight thereof not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy Lucre, but of a ready Mind; not as Lords over Gods Heritage, but Examples to the Flock. But there were some in those dayes began to creep in amongst the Apostles, such as Christ spoke of, That should come in Sheeps Clothing, but inwardly were ravening Wolves, whom the Apostle said, were Enemies to the Cross of Christ, whose end was Destruction, whose God was their Belly, whose Glory is their Shame, who mind Earthly things. And the Apostle Peter (in 2 Pet 2.23.) said, There were false Prophets amongst the People, even as there shall be false Teachers amongst you, who privily shall bring in damnable Heresie, even denying the Lord that bought them; who with feigned Words and fair Speeches, and through Covetousness make Merchandize of you; as the said Thomas Willmate hath of me, in hunting after me with Writ upon Writ, and hurrying me from Prison to Prison, who contented not himself in keep­ing me a Prisoner in Worcester-County-Goal about a year and a half, (because I for Conscience towards the Lord could not pay him Tythe and Offerings to the Value of Six Shillings; I could not so far deny my Lord and Master to be come in the Flesh, as to pay Tythe and Offerings now in these Gospel times, Christ being come, who is a Priest forever, and the Offering accepta­ble with the Father. But this Merciless man hath removed me [Page 4] to London, to the Fleet-Prison (that my Children might be, as it were, Fatherless, who had need of a Father to counsel them) though I never eat of his Bread, nor imploy'd him in any Business, neither received any thing from him; but he like the false Pro­phets in Micah 3.5. And he that putteth not into their Mouthes, they even prepare War against him. And as Ezekiel said, Ezek. 34.2, 3, 4. Wo be to the Shepherds that do feed themselves: Should not the Shepherds feed the Flocks? Ye eat the Fat, and clothe you with the Wool, but the Diseased strengthened they not; neither have ye healed them which were Sick; but with Force and with Cruelty have ye ruled them. The Lord said, He was against the Shepherds that did feed themselves; and he will deliver his Sheep from their Mouthes, that they may not be a Prey unto them any longer. And I may say, out of the hands of such unreasonable men, the Lord deliver me; yet I can truly say, Father, forgive him; Lord, lay not this Sin to his charge.

I am a Prisoner at the Fleet-Prison, and am one that loves the good of Sion, and desireth the Prosperity of Israel; and prayeth, That Truth & Righteousness may be set up in the Earth,

John Boweter.

A Salutation of Love from a Prisoner for the Testimo­ny of Christ Jesus, to his loving and kind Neighbours.

FRiends and Neighbours, in and about Bromsgrove, amongst whom I have had my abode from my Childhood, I under­standing many of you are concerned for me, and dissatisfied con­cerning my present Sufferings, which with a Spirit of Meekness and Moderation I shall endeavour to satisfie, if it may be.

Now Friends, we have all one Master, that we must either stand or fall to; for we must all give an Account to God of our Deeds done in the Body, whether they be Good, or whether they be Evil, which I desire to stand Approved before. And although some may account my Sufferings Frivolous, or out of a Stubborn [Page 5] Will, I do desire to appeal unto the Lord, who knoweth the Inte­grity of my Heart, and that knoweth all things, that it is not in a Stubborn Will, nor in contempt of Authority, but in obedience unto the Lord, to bear a Testimony against those who profess themselves Ministers of the Gospel, & walk contrary to the command of Christ, and Examples of the true Ministers in the Primitive Time. Now it may be said, That every Soul ought to be subject unto the higher Powers; which my Soul desires to be, and to submit to Magistrates in their places, so that I may keep my Conscience clear unto the Lord; and to pay Tribute to the King, who is set over us as a Ruler to defend our Just Rights in outward things; but our Conscience we must keep clear unto the Lord, for he must rule there: for God must have his Due as well as Caesar his. We do not read in the Scriptures that it belonged to Caesar to chuse Prophets or Priests in the time of the Law; that was God's Due and Work, and belonged unto him, who made use of Aaron to be as a Mouth and Priest unto Israel; and chose the Tribe of Levi to perform the Priesthood under the Law, and gave them the Tenth of the encrease, who were to have no other In­heritance amongst their Brethren; but the Tenth was their Portion in the old Covenant, who stood untill the time of Reformation, and remained for the offering up of Sacrifices, untill Christ, the accept­able Sacrifice, was offered up, Who offered himself up once for all, and put an end to that Priesthood under the Law, which continued not by reason of Death; and so stands as Priest forever, who ever liveth to make Inter­cession for us, Heb. 7.23, 24, 25. And so this Priesthood which was maintained by Tythe, is Changed, and that Law also, vers. 12. For Christ is to be Prophet, Priest and Lawgiver; and it is he only and alone that chuseth Ministers and fitteth them for his Use and Service, and sends them forth and takes care of them, who sent them forth as Lambs amongst Wolves, and were not to take thought what to eat or what to put on, but to enquire, Who was worthy, and to eat such things as were set before them: They were not to Compel a Tenth of Peoples Labours, for they had no such Command; for that Priesthood that took Tythe was to cease: Christ's Ministers received Freely of him, and were to administer Freely.

And so it was not Caesars due nor place to chuse Ministers & appoint Maintenance for them, but God's and Christ's Due: And so we must give Caesar his Due in outward Things, and God and Christ their Due in spiritual Things▪ and in chusing Ministers for themselves, and ap­pointing [Page 6] them a Maintenance. The Apostle said, He was not made a Minister by the Will of Man, nor received his Gospel from Man, neither was taught it of Man, but by the Revelation of Jesus Christ, Gal. 1.1, 11, 12. And the holy Ghost said, Separate Barnabas and Saul for the Work I have for them to do; and they were sent by the holy Ghost, Acts 13.2, 3, 4. And these whom the Lord chose were not sent to Schools to learn Latin, Greek and Hebrew to make them Gospel-Mi­nisters, which are but Natural Languages, and then to a Colledge to take their Degrees, as Batchelors of Art, and Masters of Art, for Christ commanded his Ministers not to be called Masters, Mat. 23.10. and Batchelors of Divinity, and Doctors of Divinity; and if they can make Friends with Money, or otherwise, they may be made Lord Bishops, or Deans, and have Hundreds or Thousands by the Year; which all is come in since the Apostles days, and since Popery came up, in the dark night of Apostacy: For we do not read in the Scriptures of Truth of a Lord Bishop; they were not to be Lords over Gods Heritage, 1 Pet. 1.1, 2, 3. There you may read, they were not to compel a Tenth of Peoples Labours; but to feed the Flock of God, taking the oversight thereof, not by Constraint, but Willingly, not for filthy Lucre, but with a ready Mind: And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, they shall have a Crown of Life that fadeth not away. But these who are made Ministers by Man, taking their Degrees from Schools and Col­ledges, they exercise Lordship over People; he that for Conscience-sake cannot answer their corrupt Greedy Mind, they soon make use of a Law against them; and it may be for the value of Five or Six Shillings will cast a man into Prison, and there keep him, it may be, Moneths, Years, or for term of Life: We do not read of such Pro­ceedings amongst the true Christians. And they will tell us, It is the Law that takes hold of us, like the Jews, who were stirred up by the chief Priests against Christ, our Lord & Master, to put him to Death; Pilate finding him a Just Man, and nothing worthy of Death, they said, We have a Law, and by our Law he ought to Dye, John 19.6, 7. Now some may say, Do you compare your selves to Christ? I say, no otherwise but as Christ our Lord and Master, and we his Servants and Followers, who said, The Servant is not greater than his Lord; they have persecuted me, and they will persecute you. And so that is our Por­tion from these that exercise Lordship over People, that bind heavy Burdens and lay them on mens Shoulders, grievous to be born, and they themselves not touch them with one of their Fingers.

[Page 7]And so, Friends and Neighbours, having something cleared my Spirit, I leave it with you, to consider well of it; and the desire of my Soul, and Prayer of my Heart unto the Lord for you, is, That an understanding may be opened in you. And loving Neighbours, I de­sire you in the Bowels of Love and Tenderness, That you judge not of things before the Time; for the Day will discover all things, and bring every hidden thing to Light; and then it will be known who are they that serve the Lord, and they that serve him not; and a separation will be betwixt the Precious and the Vile. And in the mean time I do desire to rest satisfied in my condition, untill the Lord please to set me Free, which I believe will be in his ap­pointed time: He who knows our Grief, and bottleth up our Tears, will Ease the Oppressed, and set the Prisoners Free. And loving and kind Neighbours, I call you Loving and Kind, because you have been so to me, I take my leave of you, and rest your Friend and Neighbour, willing, in what I may, to serye you in Love,

John Boweter.


WHo goeth a Warfare at his own Charge? (some may say) Are not Ministers to have a Maintenance? Were not they that waited at the Altar, to partake of the things of the Altar? And is not he that preacheth the Gospel, to live of the Gospel? and he that soweth Spi­ritual, to reap Carnal things?

To this I Answer: He that preacheth the Gospel is to live of the Gospel: It doth not say, he that preacheth the Gospel shall live of the Law, or Sue men at the Law for a Maintenance; for the Gospel is a Free Thing, which is the Gift of God, and received Freely, and is not to be bought and sold for Money, Acts 8.18, 19, 20, 21. Now the Apostle had a Necessity laid upon him, who said, Wo is to me if I preach not the Gospel, 1 Cor. 9.16. yet he was not limitted, but that he might reap Carnal things; For the Work-man is worthy of his Meat: But it is not reasonable to compel it of them that set them not at work, neither own their Work. Now he that should come in the Name of the Lord, and have the free Gospel to declare, and being necessitated, I could freely, according to my Ability, administer of my Carnal or Temporal things to him for his Relief. Farewell.

J. B.
VVHere Peace of Conscience from the Lord one Knows,
A Prison like a Palace is to Those;
Though Fellons Swear and Goalers Rage,
And Drunkards Fight and Quarrel,
True Peace from God outswayes it All,
Where Truth is truly Follow'd.
Where Conscience is kept clear to God; though Suffering they Endure,
Christ is to them a Recompence, an Inheritance most Sure.
Though Priest and Rulers may Combine
Our weakly Bodies to Confine
To Prisons close, and Holes remote Asunder,
Our Rock is Christ, in whom we trust, he surely will Deliver;
He is our Captain, and hath gone Before,
Yea, sore Afflictions he most meekly Bore;
Vile Contradictions he Also,
Of Sinners greatly he did Know.
And as a Lamb before the Shearers Dumb,
So in all Meekness he did Overcome.
In Glorious brightness he doth sit as King,
To render a just Recompence to him that suffers Wrong;
And soon must all before him Come,
To give an account of all things Done:
If Well done, into Joy and Comfort Sure,
If Ill done, Torment they must Endure.
This is our Comfort in all our Suffering,
Christ is our Captain, and our blessed King;
He's gone before, who has in store prepar'd a place most Sure,
For all that suffer for his Truth, and in it do Endure:
He is the bright and Morning Star,
That leads unto a day most Clear;
Who guides the Ʋpright in his holy Way,
And is to them a perfect Stay.
Rejoyce ye Followers of the Lamb, that suffer with him in your Day,
A Crown of Life, a day of Joy, as ye do follow him alway.
Although through pain our outward man may weaken and Decay,
In Christ, our Lord, our inward man's renewed day by Day.

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