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Τ Η Ε Ρ R E F A C Ε.
This trial is printed from the author's second edition, even without altering such phrases as are peculiar to that denomination of christians with whom he generally associated, and whose style he adopted; and certainly the quakers ought to think themselves honoured even by this kind of relation to Mr. Elwall. Such firmness in the cause of truth, and fuch. presence of mind in asserting and vindicating it, as appear in this trial, are truly apoftolical, and have had but few examples fince the first promulgation of christianity. It is impossible for an unprejudiced person to read this account of it (which is written with so much true fimplicity, perspicuity, and strength of evidence) without feeling the greatest veneration for the writer, the fullest conviction and love of the truth, and a proportional zeal in maintaining it. I should even think it impossible for the most prejudiced person to read it attentively, but, if he use no violence with his own mind, he will receive some favourable impressions both of the author, and of that cause, which he supports with such becoming dignity, and with a temper and disposition of mind, in every respect worthy of a true christian. So
great was the force of truth on this memorable occasion, that a reputable and honest jury, directed by a good-natured and sensible judge, acquitted the criminal contrary to the express laws of this country, according to which this glorious man ought to have been sentenced to a severe punishment, as a convicted and avowed blafphemer. What must a lover of truth and of free enquiry, as subservient to truth, think of such laws, and of the ecclefiaftical constitution of the countries in which they are in force!
It is to be wished that such a monument of the TRIUMPH OF TRUTH might be constantly held out to the view of all mankind, and particularly in this country where it was exhibited.
The dedication of the treatise, on account of which Mr. Elwall was prosecuted, is dated the eighth day of the second month, 1724; he speaks of his trial in a treatise intitled, A declaration against all kings and temporal powers under heaven, printed in 1732: and judge Denton, before whom he was tried, went the Oxford circuit in 1726 and 1728. From these circumstances it may be concluded, that the former of these years is the date of this remarkable trial, especially as in some part of the same year 1726 Mr. Elwall published another defence of the uni. tarian system, in a treatise which he intitled Dagon fallen before the Ark of God, which would probably have been mentioned in the course of the trial, if it had been published at that time.
TRIAL OF Mr. E. ELWALL, &C.
BECAUSE so many persons have earnestly defired to read this trial, I have here publiced a second edition of it, in order to encourage all honest men, who have the eternal law of God on their fide, not to fear the faces of priests, who are generally the grand adversaries of liberty and truth, and the bastions and bulwarks of all ceremonies, fopperies, and absurd doctrines that are in the world.
I do this for the glory of the Most High God, and for the honour of his sacred law, and for the good of all my fellow-creatures ; that they may obey God, and not man; Christ, and not the pope; the prophets and apostles, and not prelates and priests; and God knoweth this is my fincere defire, that all religion and spiritual things may be perfectly free, neither forced nor hindered; this. being the true liberty of the gospel of Jesus Chrift, who faid, The kings of the gentiles exercise authority, but it fvall not be so with you.
About fourteen years ago I wrote a book entitled, “A True Testimony for God and his “ facred Law; being a plain, honest defence of " the first commandment of God, against all the “ trinitarians under heaven, Thou shalt bave no co other Gods but me.” I lived then at Wolverhamp-, ton in Staffordshire, where my ancestors have lived
above eleven hundred years, ever-fince the Saxons conquered the Britons.
When this book was published, the priests in the country began to rage, especially the priests of Wolverhampton ; who had a great hand in the several troubles I underwent. In short, they never ceased 'till they had procured a large indictment against me at Stafford aflizes; where I felt the power of God, enabling me to speak before a great number of people ; being accused of heresy, &c. But I truly answered, as my beloved brother Paul did in his day, viz. In that way which some call heresy, so chuse I to serve the God of my fathers, believing all that is written in the law and the prophets.
Afterthe long indiament was read, I was asked if I pleaded guilty, or not guilty. I said I was not guilty of any evil, that I knew of, in writing that book ; but if they meant whether I wrote the book or not (for they had quoted many pages of the book in that indictment) I owned I did write it; and that if I might have liberty to speak, I believed I should make it manifest to be the plain truth of God.
Then the judge stood up, and said, “Mr. Elwall, “ I suppose you have had a copy of your indict“ ment?” I told him I had not had any copy of it. Upon which he turned towards the priests, and told them that I ought to have had a copy of it. But they not answering he turned to me, and said,