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Bserving the prevailing power of prejudice, and U the too great easiness of mankind to be imposed upon by designing persons, and especially on the side of uncharitableness, (so depraved is the nature of man) and considering also what mischievous effects that evil has produced among too many of all sorts of people, to the hurt of civil as well as religious society, by the coldness, jealousy, uncharitableness, and animosity, even to hatred and persecution, (the very contrary and reverse of the true Christian religion) that have thereby abounded; we have the less wondered at the hard treatment we, as a people, have suffered from other persuasions, almost all of them having in their turn, some, I hope, ignorantly, others, I fear, wilfully, misrepresented our principles, misgiven our plain meanings, and called their own strained interpretations, aye, and their downright perversions too, our faith and religion: and thus dressing us in the bear'sskin, the credulous have been excited to look upon and treat us as hereticks, seducers, blasphemers, and what not; while (blessed be God) our aim and bent have been the very power and work of religion upon our souls, that we might be God's workmanship through Christ Jesus, his blessed Son and heavenly Agent; taking this to be the very life and soul of true religion; the effect and fruit of the divine nature, which makes us Christians indeed here, and fits us for glory hereafter. And because we have chosen retirement, moderation, self-denial, which to be sure are the solids and inwards, the spirit and substance of religion, and have therefore waved and sequestered ourselves from more outward and pompous communions, offence has been taken at us, and we have been
disingedisingenuously represented to the world: on which account I have published this little treatise, for the sake of others, as well as in our own vindication, but theirs especially that are under prejudices from vulgar abuses. I would intreat such to consider, that if it be an evil to judge rashly or untruly of any single man, how much greater a sin it is to condemn an whole people: and if the matter about which the judgment is made, renders it more or less evil, certainly to condemn the religion of an whole people in the lump, which at once comprehends their faith, worship, and morals also, must be, if false or mistaken, as great an injustice as can well be committed; and the Al. mighty will not hold them guiltless that have been fo uncharitable and injurious to their neighbours. And this we have frequently lamented as our great unhappiness, above all that our enemies have been able argumentatively to urge against us, that we are yet unknown of those that stick not to condemn us. But they must certainly be inexcusable, with just minds, that will take our belief at our enemies rather than at our own hands, who best ought to know what we believe. But it will be the business of this little key to explain the pretended obscurity, and shew the difference between our principles, and the vulgar account and apprehensions, and thereby open a way into so clear and plain an understanding of our true principles, from our enemies perversions, that we hope, with God's blessing, all impartial inquirers will be satisfied of our holy and Christian profession : and this we also earnestly desire for their good, that as we have been called of God, out of the evil of the world, to be a people to his praise, through his grace, . so none may stumble or be offended at the truth we testify of; but seeing the excellency of it, by the peace and purity it leads into, they may embrace it, and walk in it; which is the best way to end controversy, and obtain the great and true end of religion, the
K EY, &c.
Of the Light within, what it is, and the virtue and
benefit of it to man.
Perversion 1. 'THE Quakers hold, that the natu
rral light in the conscience of ' every man in the world, is sufficient to save all that
follow it; and so they overthrow salvation by Cbrift.' A mighty error indeed, if it were true.
Principle. But it is, at best, a great mistake : for their belief and assertion is, « That Christ, who is the « Word, that was with God, and was God; (and is « so for ever) hath lighted every man that cometh « into the world, with his own light, a” as he is that true light, or such a light, as there is no other to be compared with him; which is the meaning of the emphasis true in the text, John i. 9. And that such as follow the reproofs, convictions, and leadings of that light, with which he enlightens the understandings and consciences of men, shall not walk in darkness, that is, in evil and ignorance of God, but shall have the light of life; that is, be in a boly and living state or condition towards God: a state of acceptance and salvation; which is, from sin here, as well as from wrath hereafter; and for which end Christ was given
• John i. 1, 9.
of God. So that they assert the light of Christ to be fufficient to save; that is, to convince of sin, lead out of it, and quicken the soul in the ways of holiness; and not to be a natural light, otherwise than as all men, born into the world, have a measure of Christ's light; and so it may, in a sense, be said to be natural to all men, because all men have it coming into the world. For this light is something else than the bare understanding man hath as a rational creature; since, as such, man cannot be a light to himself; but has only a capacity of seeing, by means of the light with which Christ, the Word, enlighteneth him. For we can no more be a mental or intellektual light to ourselves, than we are an external and corporeal light to ourselves : but as the sun in the firmament is the light of our BODIES, so the light of the Divine Word, is the fun of our SOULS; the glorious luminary of the intelleétual world; and they that walk in it, will by it be led to blessed
Pervers. 2. · The Quakers hold, that the light with. ' in them is God, Cbrift, and the Holy Spirit: so that • every Quaker has whole God, Christ, and Holy Spirrit, in him; which is gross blasphemy.'
Principle. This is also a mistake of their belief: they never said that every divine illumination, or mani. festation, of Christ, in the hearts of men, was whole God, Christ, or the Spirit; which might render them guilty of that gross and blasphemous absurdity some would fasten upon them: but that God, who is light, or the Word Christ, who is light, stiled “the Second « Adam, the Lord from heaven, and the quickening « Spirit, who is God over all blessed for ever," hath enlightened mankind with a measure of saying light; who said, “I am the light of the world ; and they " that follow me, shall not abide in darkness, but " have the light of life.d" So that the illumination
o See Ifa. xlix. 6. John i. 4, 9. c. iii. 21. C. V. 40. C. viii. 12. c. X. 10. Rev. xxi. 24. • John i. 4, 8, 12. i Cor. XV. 45, 47
is from God, or Christ, the Divine Word; but not therefore that whole God, or Cbrift, is in every man, any more than the whole sun, or air, is in every house or chamber. There are no such harsh and unscriptural words in their writings. It is only a frightful perversion of some of their enemies, to bring an odium upon their holy faith. Yet, in a sense, the scriptures say it; and that is their sense; in which, only, they say the same thing. “I will walk in them, and dwell in “ them. He that dwelleth with you, shall be in “ you: I will not leave you comfortless, I will come “ to you: I in them, and they in me: Christ in us, " the hope of glory. Unless Christ be in you, ye " are reprobates. Little children, of whom I travail “ again in birth, until Christ be formed in you.'' Now if they who denied his coming in the Aesh, though high-professing Jews, were to be accounted Antichrists, because enemies to that appearance and dispensation of God to men; what must they be reputed, who as ftifly disown his inward, nearer, and more spiritual coming, formation, and dominion in the soul; which is to be sure the higher and nobler knowledge of Chrift? Yea, “ the mystery hid from ages," and now revealed to God's people: “ the riches of « the glory of the mystery which God reserved to be “ made known to the Gentiles,” of whose stock we are. Certainly though they are called Christians, they must be no whit less Antichrists than those obstinate Jews of old, that opposed his more visible and bodily appearance.
Perverf. 3. By the Quakers doctrine, every man must be saved; for every man, they say, is savingly enlightened.
Principie. Not so neither : for though the light, or grace, of God hath and doth more or less appear to all men, and that it brings salvation to as many as arę
• John xiv. 3, 17, 18, 20, Col. i. 26, 27. . Cor. xiii. s, Gal. iv. 19. Col. i. 27.