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most unchristian Language, and even Blafphemy it self; as inclined all sober Persons to believe, that they ought to be rather burnt, than confuted.
But the violent Heat of this Frenzy by Degrees abated; and the Profesors of Quakerism began to recover their Senfes, and to act like Men, tho' not like Christi
Then they endevored to justify their horrible Tenets by plausible Arguments, and to gild over their impious Doctrines with pretences to Scripture authority for them.
At length Mr. William Penn, Mr.George Keith, and Mr. Robert Barclay arose. These dressed up their Religion to the best Advantage. The Two last especially endevõred to refine Quakerisi; They joined their Studies and their Labors; They knew and improved each others Notions ; and what Books they Published, either separately or jointly, were received with great applause by their own Party,
About the fame Time, and also fince, there were and are diverse other noted Quaker Writers: but I think those Three already mentioned by far the most considerable Patrons of the Cause; and I have some reason to affirm, that they have done it much greater Service, than all the rest of the same Persuasion.
Wherefore it cannot now be pretended, that the Disputes between our Selves and the Quakers are too mean for our ablest Champions to engage in. They have been managed on the Quaker side by very farewd Persons; and I may add, with great Dexterity. Why then should they be despised by those amongst our selves, to whom God has given the greatest Abilities ? Certainly the Talents wherewith they are intrusted, ought to be carefully imployed, whenfoever occafion offers, in the Vindication of our Holy Religion, and for the Benefit of deluded Souls.
Since the Mischiefs of Quakerism are numberless, the Consideration of them ought to inflame the Zeal of All Spiritual Guides. Especially the most Learned are obliged to Lead the Way, and make a powerful Opposition to that abominable Sect, which threatens Destruction to the Gospel of our Lord, by Sapping the very
Foundations of it.
Nor can they fail of Brightning, their own Reputation, by such a faithful Difcharge of (what I cannot but think) their indispensable Duty, both towards that God whose Ambassadors they are, and towards those Souls for whom they must give a strict Account at the Great day of our Savior's Appearance.
'Tis true, Quakerism has been lately attackt; and diverse useful Books have within the Compass of a few Years been publisht against it. But yet it may be observed, that even these late Writers have generally dwelt upon some abominable Passages, which they have found in Quaker Books, especially such as are Ancient and Scarce. They have difcovered those Impious and Blasphemous Afsertions, which have been uttered in the Name of the Lord. And the Quakers have thereby been effe&tually exposed for such particulars, as (tho they are now very unwilling to own them, yet) they cannot either disprove or defend. But still, in the
midst of these Skirmishes, the Principal business has been neglected. For the avowed Doctrines of the Quakers, those which they universally profess, and never deny, and the several Arguments which they endevor to confirm them with, have been (generally Speaking) but slightly touched.
I confess the Author of the Snake in the Grass has given us many useful Hints upon these · Heads. ' He has also written a particular Discourse concerning IVater-Baptism, wherein he has largely canvassed that Point, proposing his own Arguments, and answering those of his Adversaries. Mr. Norris has published Two Treatises çon.
cerning the Divine Light. And Mr. Keith, to whom God has given a Sight of his former Errors, has examined the Quaker Tenets. Particularly he has returned an answer to Mr. Barclay's Apology, which is certainly the exactest Piece, that ever was written in Defence of Quakerism.
But even these Authors have left room for Additions, and the Subject is still capable of improvement. Wherefore I have often wished, that those whom God has blesed with much Leisure, sound Judgment, and a thorough Acquaintance with the Scriptures, would proceed in the Confutation of Quakerism, and especially of Mr. Barclay's Apology and other Works.
But I could never yet hear of any, that intended to bless the World with so useful a Book; and therefore I have determined to offer the following Papers (how imperfect Soever they are) to public View.
I do not despair, I confefs, of their being for the present in some small Measure sera viceable to the Church of Christ; but I earnestly desire notwithstanding, that a better Performance upon the same Subject, which very many of my Brethren are able to give us, may render them hereafter perfectly needless and superfluous,
I must add, that I am by no means Fond of Writing a large Volume; and therefore
I have indevored to shorten these Controversies, as much as'twas possible. To this end I have wholly omitted some disputes which others may think Material. For instance, I have said nothing concerning the Payment of Tithes, the Lawfulnefs of Ta. king an Oath, the Expressions of outward rejpest, saying You to a single Perfon, &c. But I do not finds that these matters da ever create any difficulty to those Persons, who are convinced of the Falshood of those Quaker Doctrines, which I hope I have sufficiently overthrown. And therefore I have not thought it necessary to contend about them.
March 10. 1704