Page:Yorkshire Oddities, Incidents and Strange Events.djvu/50

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Yorkshire Oddities and Incidents.

On Sunday evening he reappeared in Bradford, and adopted the following extraordinary expedient to impress the congregation:—Unknown to the members, he caused two men to stand, one on each side of the archway leading into the second room of the meeting-house—the house being divided into three parallel apartments, which opened into each other by an archway in each partition, thus forming a sort of narthex, nave, and chancel. Each man held a sword, and the swords were united at the points, so that the Friends, to enter, had to pass under the swords. Wroe entered last of all. Then the men pointed their swords at his breast saying, "The sword of the Lord is against thee." Wroe instantly fell on his knees, and prayed aloud that if his mission were not Divine, the swords might fall and smite him asunder.

Wroe then stood up and walked to the second archway, the men with the swords stepping backwards before him, still with their swords at his breast. Thus he stood and preached on his mission to the congregation, who were amazingly impressed at this solemn farce. When all was over, he bade those of the Bradford Society who believed in him to pass under the swords; and the great majority of the congregation did so. This naturally created a schism in the body.

Letters were written by the Committee of the Society at Bradford, by Wroe's direction, to the Societies at Ashton-under-Line, Stockport, Sheffield, and Colne, to inform them of what had taken place, and requesting them to delegate two men from each congregation to come to Bradford and examine the truth concerning the mission of Wroe. The Societies at Stockport and Sheffield declined the invitation, but in the following year nearly the whole of the body at Sheffield accepted the prophetic mission of Wroe, and some at Stockport believed.