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day in which we live so much bespeaks the deceptions of the Church. I really feel to lament that religion, a term which invariably ought to convey to mankind an idea, of the greatness, goodness and glory of God; their own present and future happiness should by the blind zeal of its advocates suggest but little, if any more than a mean form or theory, and even that, a subject of ridicule and contempt. Is it not in consequence of the disagreement amongst professors of Christianity about their different forms and tenets that the irreligious part of society is induced to look upon religion, as but a cold hearted mnonster that would rob then, their neighborhood, and society, of all the comforts of civil life? The language of my heart is, “ Tell it not in Gath ; publish it not in the streets of Askelon," but alas! though it is too bad to be told, yet it is too evident to be hid. The very savage earnestly petitions to be delivered from that which they conceive to be the christian religion! Can it be possible that, of all the enormous evils, that ever was permitted to seize upon
the human family, religion is sole monster and universal tyrant of the whole ! DTHIS IS THE RELIGION OF MEN, and not the religion of Jesus Christ. Amongst the several subjects of religious debate, I propose to notice the sacraments (so called) of Water-baptism, Bread and Wine, things which are imposed on the world by the plausible titles of Sacraments, Eucharists, Gospel-ordinances, Gospel-institutions, ordinances of the house of God, &c. names which are not so much as once so mentioned in the New Testament records. Millions have paid a debt to sacramental superstition with the loss of their lives-good would it have been if that worldly-wise and factious spirit, which so frequently shows itself to be inseparably connected with will-worship-religion had died with them,
It is to be remarked, that as the Jews suffered by borrowing certain customs, and superstitious notions from the heathen; so the christians have suffered by endeavoring to incorporate the proper. christian: dispensation with certain customs and ceremonies which they have borrowed from the law of the Jews. These ceremonies are so remote from the kingdom of Christ that the Spirit has nothing to do with them, consequently, men have been obliged to support them by their own renderings, and consequently they have with them; embraced many different notions, and all has tended to perplex the christian, and subject him to doubts and fears, uncharitableness and crueltyy. dispute and jealousy, exuberance and zeal, and finally to all the phenomena of priest-craft or prelatical-presidency.
Among several reasons, there are three particular: reasons why I have offered these few sheets to my friends and the public, to wit, duty, love and pity:
Eirstly-Duty in that, that the Lord, for
reasons only known to himself häth dealt surprisingly with me, and by his Spirit hath given me to understand his teachings and leadings from the inventions and teachings of men, and hath called me to bear a testimony to that truth, which he hath committed to me. Secondly-Love to many
my brethren, and the truth constrains me to suffer with. them that suffer for the truth. And as I know that there are many, who, if they were only apprised of the deceitfulness of their own spirit, would be persuaded and encouraged to come to the truth, as it is in Christ, I cheerfully, but with humility offer to them a relation of my own Convincement to the truth of revealed religion ; with a Plea for that religion and righteousness, which is independent of the systems and notions of men, which do so much obscure the truth.
Thirdly-Having myself been overtaken in a time, when my mind was not suspicious of the traditions of men, and drawn into the use of dead and lifeless church ceremonies, such as the sacrament of bread and wine; and water baptism, &c. and as I have made full proof of their pretended virtue, and found them to be useless, beggarly elements, I know how to pity the thousands, who like myself, when they have been drawn into the use of such lifeless ordinances, and not finding that blessing which they expected, but rather death and darkness instead of life, they have fallen into doubts and queries as to their own chris
tianity; and finaily in the end, led to doubt the truth of religion. Many, when they look into the scriptures and read of baptism, &c. they have not noticed the difference between a relation and a command ; that is, they have not noticed that these things were practiced in conformity to the law dispensation, and according to the prejudice of some, and in condescension to the weakness of others, who had been brought up under a typical dispensation; and as they have not discovered this, so they have not discovered that the scripture record, is but a relation of such things without giving a command. But as they have been taught, so they have practiced, and as “ the letter killeth but the Spirit giveth life,” they have been left to struggle between life and death ; and when they have practiced in the letter, they have been made sensible of a lack, and their own spiritual feeling has contradicted their practice ; so they have been led to queries, and like Noah's dove they have not been able to find rest to the sole of their foot. I have written this little volume for the help of such as are serious inquirers after truth. I have not written my Plea thinking to add any thing more than that which has already been said upon the ordinances (so called) by Robert Barclay, Scott, Phips and others, who have written long since. I have only written under a sense of my own duty, as no one can do duty for me. Should the reader discover a similarity in my
writings to the writings of Friends (called! Quakers) I would not wish to have him think that I have undertaken to give a relation of their sentiment. What I have written, I have written for myself, and so I shall hold myself accountable for all errors that may be held forth in these few sheets. In writing, I have not made any one my rule. As to the sentiment of Friends, I knew nothing of it, either from them or their writings, until about two: years after I had berne public testimony to The truth of the doctrine for which I now advocate. So that my readers may receive what I have written to be my own experience, without the counsel or traditions of any; and without regarding any person or sect; my great desire is the glory of God, and to; bear a testimony to the truth with them who have it.
My last and least reason for writing my Plea, is to answer for myself to calumnious reports which some public preachers, as well: as others, have spread abroad respecting my. religious sentiment, so that all may know for themselves the truth of what: I believe. I have written without regarding who may be pleased or displeased, and if I should appear to franchise, or use plainness. it shall be for the love I owe to my brethren and the cause of truth ;; and notwithstanding I may, use plainness, I wish to be counted a friend and not an enemy. Particular tenets will be found. very light when compared with the