« VorigeDoorgaan »
Thus, reader, thou hast the character of the people called Quakers, in their doctrine, worship, ministry, practice, and discipline: compare it with scripture and primitive example, and we hope thou wilt find, that this short discourse hath, in good measure, answered the title of it, viz.
Primitive Christianity Revived, in the Principles and Practice of the People called Quakers.
TRUTH OF GOD,
AS HELD BY THE
PEOPLE CALLED QUAKERS.
Being a short Vindication of them from the Abuses and Misrepresentations often put upon them by envious Apostates and mercenary Adversaries.
OCCASION having been given us, which we never sought, we continue to improve it to the farther explanation and defence of our so much abused profession; that, if possible, people may see, at least the more sober and candid, that we are not at that distance from truth, nor so heterodox in our principles, as we have been, by too many, either rashly or interestedly represented: but that we hold the great truths of Christianity, according to the holy scriptures, and that the realities of religion are the mark we press after, and to disabuse and awaken people from their false hopes and carnal securities, under which they are too apt to indulge themselves, to their irreparable loss; that by our setting Christian doctrine in a true light, and reviving and pressing the necessity of a better practice, they may see the obligation they are under to redeem their precious time they have lost, by a more careful employment of that which remains, to a better purpose. In this short vindication of our mistaken principles, the ingenuous reader may easily discern how ill we have been treated, and what hardships we have laboured under, through the prejudice of some, and the unreasonable credulity of others, and that we are a people in earnest for heaven, and in that way our blessed Lord hath trod for us to glory.
A TESTIMONY TO THE TRUTH OF GOD.
By the observation we are led to make from Francis Bugg's late book, upon the bishop of Norwich's giving him his recommendatory letter to the clergy, &c. in his diocese, to relieve, by a collection, the necessities of that beggarly apostate; a copy of which letter the said F. B. hath pub lished in his said book:
And also by the observation we have made on the malicious attempts of the Snake in the Grass,' in his first, second, and third editions, which is a disingenuous and unjust collection from F. Bugg, and some other deserters, of things, for the most part, long since answered; as also lately, by the book intituled, An Antidote,' &c. (though because his second and third edition have some additions to his first, and that being new vamped, for a better market, he may expect a melius inquirendum after a while; yet should we follow the example of this rattle-snake, against the church of which he pretends to be a member, but at present a suspended one, we might, in retaliation, not only exceed the Cobler of Gloucester,' but the Scotch Eloquence,' and that master-piece, The Ground of the Contempt of the Clergy :')
And, lastly, by the observation we have made on the relation subscribed by some of the Norfolk clergy, dated October the 12th, 1698, we cannot forbear thinking, that as their confederacy is deep, so it aims at nothing less than the ruin of us, and our posterity, by rendering us blasphemers, and enemies to the government, and to be treated as such.
The Norfolk relation from the clergy aforesaid, charges the said people with blasphemy: first, Against God, Secondly, Against Jesus Christ. Thirdly, Against the holy scriptures, with contempt of civil magistracy, and the ordinances which Jesus Christ instituted, viz. baptism by water, and the Lord's supper by bread and wine. And, Lastly, That the light within, as taught by us, leaves us without ány certain rule, and exposes us to the blasphemies aforesaid, with many others.
Now, because this charge refers to doctrine, rather than fact, or particular persons, we thing ourselves concerned to
say something in vindication of our profession, and to wipe off the dirt thereby intended to be cast upon us, in giving our reader a plain account of our principles, free from the perversion of our enemies.
But to manifest how uncharitably and unjustly the said clergymen have reflected upon the people called Quakers, with respect to the said charge, we are contented the reader goes no farther than their own printed relation, dated Nov. 12, 1698, not doubting but by that very relation, and the letters therewith printed, he will meet with intire satisfaction, with respect to the reasonableness and justice of the Quakers' proceedings in that affair, and how ready they were to come to the test, and to bring the pretended charge upon the stage, and to purge themselves from the guilt of the same, provided they might be accommodated with what the common law allows malefactors, viz. a copy of their indictment; but this could not be obtained. And though the said clergy have thought fit to print the charge in general, without any proof, we think ourselves obliged to vindicate our profession, by freely declaring, (as now we do, without any mental reservation) our sincere belief of the very things they most unjustly charge us with denying.
I. Concerning God.
Because we declare, that God is a "God nigh at hand," and that he is, according to his promise, become the "Teacher of his people by his spirit in these latter days;" and that "true believers are the temples for him to walk and dwell in," as the apostle teacheth; and experiencing something of the accomplishment of this great and glorious truth among us, and having therefore pressed people earnestly to the knowledge and enjoyment thereof, as the blessing and glory of the latter days: we have been ignorantly,or maliciously, represented'and treated as heretics and blasphemers, as if we owned no God in heaven above the stars, and confined the Holy One of Israel to our beings: whereas we believe him to be the Eternal, Incomprehensible, Almighty, Allwise and Omnipresent God, creator and upholder of all things, and that he fills heaven and earth, and that the "heaven of heavens cannot contain him ;" yet he saith, by the prophet Isaiah, "To that man will I have regard, that is poor, and of a contrite spirit, and which trembles at my word" So that for professing that which is the very marrow of the Christian religion, viz. Emanuel, God with us,' we are represented blasphemers against that God, with whom we leave our innocent and suffering cause. Isa.
vii. xiv, xl. xxviii, xlviii. xvii. lxvi. 1, 2. 2 Cor. vi. 16. Rev. xxi. 3.
II. Concerning Jesus Christ.
Because we believe, that the word which was made flesh, and dwelt amongst men, and was and is the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth; his beloved Son, in whom he is well pleased, and whom we ought to hear in all things; who tasted death for every man, and died for sin, that we might die to sin; is the great light of the world, and full of grace and truth, and that he lighteth every man that cometh into the world, and giveth them grace for grace, and light for light, and that no man can know God and Christ, (whom to know is life eternal) and themselves, in order to true conviction and conversion, without receiving and obeying this holy light, and being taught by the divine grace; and that without it, no remission, no justification, no salvation, (as the scripture plentifully testifies) can be obtained: and because we therefore press the necessity of people's receiving the inward and spiritual appearance of his divine word, in order to a right and beneficial application of whatsoever he did for man, with respect to his life, miracles, death, sufferings, resurrection, ascension and mediation; our adversaries would have us deny any Christ without us. First, As to his divinity, because they make us to confine him too within us. Secondly, As to his humanity, or manhood, because as he was the Son of Abraham, David, and Mary, according to the flesh, he cannot be in us, and therefore we are heretics and blasphemers: whereas we believe him, according to the scripture, to be the Son of Abraham, David, and Mary, after the flesh, and also God over all, blessed for ever. So that he that is within us, is also without us, even the same that laid down his precious life for us, rose again from the dead, and ever liveth to make intercession for us, being the blessed and alone mediator betwixt God and man, and him by whom God will finally judge the world, both quick and dead: all which we as sincerely and stedfastly believe, as any other society of people, whatever may be ignorantly, or maliciously, insinuated to the contrary, either by our declared enemies, or mistaken neighbours. Deut. xv. 18. Mic. v. 2. John i. 1, 2, 3. Rev. xxii. 16.
III. Concerning the Holy Scriptures.
Because we assert the holy spirit to be the first great and general rule and guide of true Christians, as that by which