Page images
PDF
EPUB

in the most important matters of eternal life, I shall here subjoin a short confession.

I sincerely own, and unfeignedly believe (by virtue of the found knowledge and experience received from the gift of that holy unction, and divine grace inspired from on high) in one holy, just, merciful, almighty and eternal God, who is the Father of all things; that appeared to the holy patriarchs and prophets of old, at sundry times, and in divers manners °; and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the everlasting wisdom, divine power, true light, only Saviour and preserver of all, the same one, holy, just, merciful, almighty and eternal God, who in the fulness of time took, and was manifested in the flesh, at which time he preached (and his disciples after him) the everlasting gospel of repentance, and promise of remission of fins and eternal life, to all that heard and obeyed; who said, he that is with you in the flesh) shall be in you, (by the fpirit) and though he left them (as to the Aesh) yet not comfortless, for he would come to them again, (in the spirit :) " for a little while, and they should is not see him (as to the flesh;) again, a little while « and they should see him in the spirit;") for the Lord (Jesus Chrift) is that fpirit, a manifestation whereof is given to everyone to profit withal; In which Holy Spirit I believe, as the same almighty and eternal God, who, as in those times he ended all shadows, and became the infallible guide to them that walked therein, by which they were adopted heirs and co-heirs of glory; so am I a living witness, that the same holy, just, merciful, almighty and eternal God, is now, as then, (after this tedious night of idolatry, superstition, and hunian inventions, that hath overspread the world) gloriously manifested to discover and save from all iniquity, and to conduct unto the holy

• 1 Cor. viii. 5, 6. Heb. i. 1. Cor. viii. 6. p John i. 14.

1 Tim. ii. 16. Mat. iv. 17. Luke xxiv. 47. John xiv. 17, 18. Chap. xvi. 16. 2 Cor. ii. 17. Cor. i. 7. Rom. viii. 14, 17.

land land of pure and endless peace; in a word, to tabernacle in men : and I also firmly believe, that without repenting and forsaking of past sins, and walking in obedience to this heavenly voice, which would guide into all truth, and establish there, remiffion and eternal life can never be obtained ; but unto them that fear his name, and keep his commandments, they, and they only shall have right unto the tree of life ?; for whose name's fake I have been made willing to relinquish and forfake all the vain fashions, enticing pleasures, alluring honours, and glittering glories of this transitory world,' and readily to accept the portion of a fool, from this deriding generation, and become a man of sorrow, and a perpetual reproach to my familiars; yea, and with the greatest chearfulness can obfignate and confirm, (with no lefs seal, than the loss of whatsoever this doting world accounts dear) this faithful confeflion; having my eye fixed upon a more enduring substance and lasting inheritance ; and being infallibly assured, that when time shall be no more, I shall (if faithful hereunto) possess the mansions of eternal life, and be received into his everlasting habi. tation of rest and glory.

IV. Lastly, it may not be unreasonable to observe, that however industrious some (and those difsenters too) have been to represent me as a person disturbing the civil peace, I have not violated any truly fundamental law which relates to external property and good behaviour, and not to religious apprehensions; it being the constant principle of myself and friends, to maintain good works, and keep our consciences void of offence, paying active or passive obedience, fuitable to the meek example of our Lord Jesus Christ. Nor would I have any ignorant, how forward I was by messages, letters and visits, to have determined this debate in a sober and select assembly, notwithstanding the rude entertainment we had met with

? Rev. xxi. 3. Prov. xxviii. 13. Luke xiv. 33. Rev. xxi. 27..

Chap. xxii, 14. Maf. x. 37, 38, 39. i Pet. iv. 14.
Vol. I.
P

before;

before ; but, contrary to their own appointments, our adversaries failed us, which necessitated me to that defence; and finding the truth so prest with sander, I cannot but say I saw my just call to her relief: but, alas ! how have those two or three extemporary sheets been tost, tumbled, and torn on all hands, yea, aggravated to a monstrous design, even the subversion of the Christian religion, than which there could be nothing more repugnant to my principle and purpose; wherefore how very intemperate as well as unjust have all my adversaries been in their revilings, Nanders and defamations ! using the most opprobrious terms of « Seducer, heretick, blasphemer, deceiver, Socinian,

Pelagian, Simon Magus, impiously robbing Christ i of his divinity, for whom the vengeance of the great

day is reserved,' &c. Nor have these things been whispered, but, in one book and pulpit after another, have more or less been thundered out against me, as if some bull had lately been arrived from Rome; and all this acted under the foul pretence of zeal and love to Jesus Christ, whose meek and gentle example always taught it for a principal mark of true Chriftianity, to suffer the most outrageous injuries, but never to return any; nay, if my adversaries would but be just and constant to themselves, how can they offer to conspire my destruction upon a religious ground, who either are themselves under a present limitation, or have been formerly by the Papists? tell me, I pray, did Luther, that grand reformer, whom you so much reverence, justly demand from the emperor at the diet of Worms (where he was summoned to appear) that none should sit judge upon his doctrines but the scripture; and in case they should be caft, that no other sentence should be passed upon him, than what Gamaliel offered to the Jewish council, If it were not of God it would not stand ;' and

i See T. Vincent's late railing piece against the Quakers, also T.

Danson's and Dr. Owen's. Mat: v. 39, 40. u Coun. Trent. p. 14.

if you will not censure him who first of all arraigned the Christian world (so called) at the bar of his private judgment, (that had so many hundred years soundly slept, without so much as giving one confi- ; derable shrug or turn, during that tedious winternight of dark apostacy) but justify his proceedings, can you so furiously assault others ? But, above all, you, who refuse conformity to others, and that have been writing these eight years for liberty of conscience, and take it at this very season by an indulgent connivance; what pregnant testimonies do you give of your unwillingness to grant that to others you so earnestly beg for yourselves ? Doth it not discover your injustice, and plainly express that only want of power hinders you to act ? But of all Protestants in general I demand, do you believe that persecution to be christian in yourselves, that you condemned for antichristian in the Papists? You judged it a weakness in their religion, and is it a cogent argument in yours? Nay, is it not the readiest way to enhance and propagate the reputation of what you would depress ? If you were displeased at their assuming an infallibity, will you believe it impossible in yourselves to err Have Whitaker, Reynolds, Laud, Owen, Baxter, Stillingfeet, Poole, &c. disarmed the Romanists of these inhuman weapons, that you might employ them against your inoffensive countrymen? Let the example and holy precepts of Christ dissuade you, who came not to destroy, but fave; and soberly reflect upon his equal law of doing as you would be done unto. Remember I have not dethroned a divinity, subverted faith, made void obedience, nor frustrated the hope of an eternal recompence; much less have I injured your persons, or in any thing deviated from that Beds èx-JETOS and outsipois, or holy principle, so much insisted on by philosophers and lawyers as the original of good laws, and life: no, your own consciences shall advocate on my behalf. Let it suffice then, that we who are nicknamed Quakers have, under every revolution of power and religion, been the most reP 2

viled,

viled, contemned and persecuted, as if God indeed as had set us forth in these last days as a spectacle to " the world, to angels and to men ";" and treated as if, by being what we are, our common right and interest in human societies were forfeited; neither accept that for a true measure of our life and doctrines, which hath been taken by the ill-will or ignorance of others; but rather make an impartial examination, that what you judge may be from what you know, and not from what you hear at second-hand; and then we shall as little question your just opinion of our innocency, as we have too much been made sensible of the fad effects that follow an ignorant and unadvised zeal: for so monstrously fond are some of their persuasions, and doting on the patrons of them, that they seldom have discretion, much less religious defires, to consider how true or false another religion is, or what may be the consequence of its toleration; but with a fury, not inferior to their ignorance, cry Crucify, crucify; and pharisee-like, out of pretence of honour and service done to God Almighty, and the memory of his holy prophets, stick not to persecute his beloved Son, and righteous servants; fo cruel, blind, and obftinate is perfecution: be therefore advised in the words of that meek example Jesus Christ; call not for fire any more: let the tares grow with the wheat; neither employ that sword any more, which was commanded to be sheathed so many hundred years ago; suppose we were enemies to the true religion ; but have a care you are not upon one of Saul's errands to Damascus, and helping the mighty against God and his anointed; and rather chuse by fair and moderate debates (not penalties ratified by imperial decrees) to determine religious differences ; so will you at least obtain tranquillity, which may be called a civil-unity. But if you are resolved severity shall take its course, in this our case can never change, nor happiness abate; for no human edict can possibly deprive us of

"i Cor. iv. 9.

« PreviousContinue »