Chapter 20 » 20.22

The source of our strength

Luke Cock (1657–1740), a butcher by trade and a noted singer, was a young man living in North East Yorkshire when he was convinced. The following extract reports in his own idiom a sermon he gave at York in 1721:

Necessity, Friends, outstrips the law: necessity has made many people go by the Weeping Cross… I remember I was yonce travelling through Shrewsbury, and my Guide said to me: ‘I’ll show thee the Weeping Cross.’ ‘Nay’, said I, ‘thou need not; I have borne it a great while’. Now this place that he showed me was four lane ends.

I remember when I first met with my Guide. He led me into a very large and cross [place], where I was to speak the truth from my heart – and before I used to swear and lie too for gain. ‘Nay, then,’ said I to my Guide, ‘I mun leave Thee here: if Thou leads me up that lane, I can never follow: I’se be ruined of this butchering trade, if I mun’t lie for a gain.’ Here I left my Guide, and was filled with sorrow, and went back to the Weeping Cross: and I said, if I could find my good Guide again, I’ll follow Him, lead me whither He will. So here I found my Guide again, and began to follow Him up this lane and tell the truth from my heart. I had been nought but beggary and poverty before; and now I began to thrive at my trade, and got to the end of this lane, though with some difficulty.

But now my Guide began to lead me up another lane, harder than the first, which was to bear my testimony in using the plain language. This was very hard; yet I said to my Guide, ‘Take my feeble pace, and I’ll follow Thee as fast as I can. Don’t outstretch me, I pray Thee.’ So by degrees I got up here.

But now I was led up the third lane: it was harder still, to bear my testimony against tithes – my wife not being convinced. I said to my Guide, ‘Nay, I doubt I never can follow up here: but don’t leave me: take my pace, I pray Thee, for I mun rest me.’ So I tarried here a great while, till my wife cried, ‘We’se all be ruined: what is thee ganging stark mad to follow t’silly Quakers?’ Here I struggled and cried, and begged of my Guide to stay and take my pace: and presently my wife was convinced. ‘Well,’ says she, ‘now follow thy Guide, let come what will. The Lord hath done abundance for us: we will trust in Him.’ Nay, now, I thought, I’ll to my Guide again, now go on, I’ll follow Thee truly; so I got to the end of this lane cheerfully…

My Guide led me up another lane, more difficult than any of the former, which was to bear testimony to that Hand that had done all this for me. This was a hard one: I thought I must never have seen the end of it. I was eleven years all but one month in it. Here I began to go on my knees and to creep under the hedges, a trade I never forgot since, nor I hope never shall. I would fain think it is unpossible for me to fall now, but let him that thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.

I thought to have had a watering: but ye struggle so I cannot get you together. We mun have no watering tonight, I mun leave you every yan to his own Guide.

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