Chapter 19 » 19.16

A gathered people

Commitment, however, involved not only attendance at worship, but also acceptance of those testimonies that had come to be held by Quakers as a whole. Thomas Ellwood soon found his new convictions put to the test:

A knot of my old acquaintance [at Oxford], espying me, came to me. One of these was a scholar in his gown, another a surgeon of that city… When they were come up to me, they all saluted me, after the usual manner, putting off their hats and bowing, and saying, ‘Your humble Servant, Sir’, expecting no doubt the same from me. But when they saw me stand still, not moving my cap, nor bowing my knee, in way of congee to them, they were amazed, and looked first one upon another, then upon me, and then one upon another again for a while, without a word speaking. At length, the surgeon … clapping his hand in a familiar way upon my shoulder and smiling on me said, ‘What, Tom, a Quaker!’ To which I readily, and cheerfully answered, ‘Yes, a Quaker.’ And as the words passed out of my mouth I felt joy spring in my heart, for I rejoiced that I had not been drawn out by them into a compliance with them, and that I had strength and boldness given me to confess myself to be one of that despised people.


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