William Penn – “Establish such laws as shall best preserve true Christian and civil liberty, in all opposition to all unchristian…practices.”
The English and the Dutch fought together to defeat the Invincible Spanish Armada in 1588.
Afterwards, both England and the Dutch United Netherlands became world powers.
Tensions between them increased, breaking out into the First Anglo-Dutch War, 1652 to 1654.
Admiral William Penn helped lead the English to victory over the Dutch.
Under the English Commonwealth, Oliver Cromwell sent Penn to the Caribbean, where he captured Jamaica from the Spanish in 1655.
After Oliver Cromwell died, Admiral Penn helped restore Charles II to his father’s throne in 1660, ending the English Commonwealth.
Charles II knighted him, giving the rank of Lord High Admiral.
Admiral Sir William Penn helped defeat the Dutch navy in the Second Anglo-Dutch War, 1665-67, resulting in Britain capturing New Amsterdam and renaming it New York.
When young Penn was around 15 years old, while his father was in the Caribbean, a Quaker missionary named Thomas Loe visited the Penn household and shared about the light of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
Penn later recalled that it was during this time that “the Lord visited me and gave me divine Impressions of Himself.”
When the restored British government began enforcing religious uniformity, young William Penn became critical of the King’s church and began associating with the Quaker movement.
Numerous times the younger Penn was arrested, and his father, Admiral Penn, used his influence to get him freed.
Young Penn urged his father: “I intreat thee not to purchase my liberty.”
Young Penn’s actions caused considerable embarrassment to his father, who had spent his career carefully avoiding political entanglements.
At one point, when young Penn publicly embraced Quaker beliefs, it so dishonored his father that the elder Penn beat him with a cane, drove him out of the house and threatened to disinherit him.
Young Penn fled England and lived in France for several years.
William Penn associated with George Fox (1624-1691), the founder of the Quakers.
Penn returned to England and wrote The Sandy Foundation Shaken, which was critical of the King’s Church.
In 1668, when the government tried to force Penn to deny his conscience and abandon his religious convictions, he refused, resulting him being imprisoned in the Tower of London for eight months.
“Christ’s cross is Christ’s way to Christ’s crown … The unmortified Christian and the heathen are of the same religion, and the deity they truly worship is the god of this world.
It is a false notion that they may be children of God while in a state of disobedience to his holy commandments, and disciples of Jesus though they revolt from his cross.”
Upon being freed, Penn argued on behalf of the thousands of persecuted and jailed Quakers.
In Bushel’s Case, 1670, Penn was arrested and tried.
When the jury came back with a not guilty verdict, the judge put the entire jury in jail.
Admiral Penn realized after his death there would be no one to intercede for his son, so he spent his final days securing a promise from King Charles II to be favorable to him.
Among his last correspondence, Admiral Penn wrote to his son: “Let nothing in this world tempt you to wrong your conscience.”
After his father death, Penn wanted to use his inheritance to buy West Jersey in America so Quakers could emigrate there.
On MARCH 10, 1681, when he met with King Charles II to get permission, the King surprised Penn by giving a land grant of 45,000 square miles, making Penn the largest non-royalty landowner in the world.
Charles II named it “Pennsylvania” in honor of the father, Admiral Sir William Penn.
Penn wanted to make his colony of Pennsylvania a “holy experiment” where Christians of different denominations, who were persecuted in Europe for conscience sake, could flee for refuge and live together.
This was an unprecedented endeavor in the world, taking place at a time in history when Europe was predominately ruled by kings, the Qing dynasty was beginning its three century reign in China, and 200,000 Ottoman Turkish Muslims were laying siege to Vienna, Austria.
Emphasizing his Christian tolerance, Penn named the colony’s main city “Philadelphia,” which is Greek for “Brotherly Love.”
Not only were Quakers allowed in, but Presbyterians, Lutherans, Baptists, Moravians, Mennonites, and Amish. Pennsylvania was one of the few colonies to allow in Catholics and Jews.
William Penn wrote in England’s Present Interest Considered, 1675:
“Force makes hypocrites, ’tis persuasion only that makes converts.”
On January 1, 1681, Penn wrote to a friend concerning the land given to him, declaring he would:
“Make and establish such laws as shall best preserve true Christian and civil liberty, in all opposition to all unchristian … practices.”
Pennsylvania’s first legislative act was The Great Law of Pennsylvania, December 7, 1682:
“No person … who shall confess and acknowledge one Almighty God to be the Creator, Upholder and Ruler of the World … shall in any case be molested or prejudiced for his, or her Conscientious persuasion or practice
… but shall freely and fully enjoy his or her Christian Liberty without any interruption.”
History records that William Penn insisted on treating the Delaware Indians with honesty, paying them a fair sum for their land, resulting in his city of Philadelphia being spared the Indian attacks and scalpings that other colonies experienced.
Before arriving, William Penn wrote to the Delaware Indian chiefs, August 18, 1681:
This great God hath written His law in our hearts by which we are taught and commanded to love and help and doe good to one another and not to doe harm and mischief one unto another …
Now this great God hath pleased to make me concerned in my parts of the world, and the king of the country where I live, hath given unto me a great province therein,
but I desire to enjoy it with your love and consent, that we may always live together as neighbors and friends, else what would the great God say to us, who hath made us not to devour and destroy one another, but to live soberly and kindly together in the world …
I have great love and regard towards you, and I desire to gain your love and friendship by a kind, just and peaceable life, and the people I send are of the same mind, and shall in all things behave themselves accordingly …
I shall shortly come to you myself at which time we may more freely and largely confer and discourse of these matters.
Receive those presents and tokens which I have sent to you as a testimony to my goodwill to you and my resolution to live justly, peaceably and friendly with you.
I am your loving friend, William Penn.”
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