« ForrigeFortsæt »
AND HIS DIVINE TESTIMONI
STATED AND VINDICATED
SCRIPTURE, REASON, & AUTHORITIES;
The injurious attempts of several adversaries.
IN TWO PARTS.
THE FIRST MORE GENEAAL,
THE SEOOND MORE PARTICULAR,
Veritas fatigari potest, vinci non potest, Ether. et Beat. lib. 1.
Thus saith thy Lord the LORD, and thy God that pleadeth the cause of his people; behold I bare taken out of thine hand the cup of trembling, even the dregs of the cup of my fury, thou shall no more drink it again : but I will put it into the hand of them that afilict thee. Ionish ti. 22, 23.
London Printed in the Year 1674.
No. 256, NOBTK THIRD STRIT,
THE NOBLE BEREANS OF THIS AGE.
WHEN our dear Lord Jesus Christ, the blessed author of the christian religion, first sent forth his disciples to proclaim the happy approach of the heavenly kingdom, among several other things that he gave them in charge, it pleased bim to make this one of their instructions : " Into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, inquire who in it is worthy;" foreseeing the ill use unworthy persons would make of that message, and with what unweariedness the implacable pharisee and subtile scribe would endeavour to pervert the right way of the Lord, and thereby prejudice the simple against the reception of that excellent testimony.
This being the case with the people called Quakers, who above every tribe of men are most maliciously represented, bitterly envied, and furiously oppugned by many of the scribes and pharisees of our time, for as impious wretches as those of that reputed our blessed Saviour and his constant followers, it becometh us in a condition so desperate, to provide ourselves with some worthy readers, men that dare trust their reason above reports, and be impartial in an age as biassed as this we live in ; whose determinations shall not wait upon the sentence of ignorance nor interest, but a sincere and punctual examination of the matter.
And since there are none recorded in sacred writ, on whom the Holy Ghost conferred so honourable a character, but the Bereans of that age, (for that they both searched after truth impartially, and when they found it, embraced it readily, for which they were entitled noble.) therefore it is that to you, the offspring of that worthy stock, and noble Bereans of our age, we, the so inuch calumniated abettors of the cause of truth, choose to dedicate this defence of our holy profession from the injurious practices of a sort of men, not unlike to the Jews of Thessalonica, who, envying the prosperity of the gospel among your ancestors, made it their business to stir up the multitude against the zealous promoters of it. And no matter what it be, provided they can but obtain their end of fixing an odium upon the Quakers. They do not only boldly condemn what they esteem worst in us, (how deservedly we will not now say,) but slyly insinuate what is best, to be criminal.
The sobriety of our lives, they call a “cheat for custom ;” and our incessant preachings and holy living, a “decoy to advance our party.” If we say nothing to them when they interrogate us, it is
sullenness or inability. If we say something to them, it is impertinency or equivocation. We must not believe as we do believe, but as they would have us believe, which they are sure to make obnoxious enough, that they may the more securely inveigh against us. Nor must our writings mean what we say we mean by them, but what they will have them to mean, lest they should want proofs for their charges. It was our very case that put David upon that sad complaint, “every day they wrest my words, all their thoughts are against me for evil.” But to David's God we commit our slandered cause, and to you the Bereans of our age.
Degenerate not from the example of your progenitors. If you do, you are no longer true Bereans, and to such only we inscribe this work. If f you do not, we may assure ourselves of the justice of a fair inquiry and an equal judgment. The God and Father of our
Lord Jesus Christ augment your desire after truth, give you clearer discerning of the truth, and enable you both more readily to receive, and with greater resolution to maintain the truth. We are
Your greatly traduced,
GEORGE WHITEHEAD. Rickmersworth, the 16th of the
10th Month, 1674.
THE insatiable thirst of men after religious or civil empire, has filled almost every age with contests. But for pure religion scarcely has any one contended.
To mention the disorders within the first six hundred years from Christ, (which have been by far worse succeeded,) were to write the ecclesiastical history. But such as are not ignorant in it, must needs know, that religion, so early, became a cloak for dominion, and truth a pretence for revenge.*
What better has happened since, modern stories tell us. Certainly the separation of most parties from former institutions, however rightly begun, have basely degenerated into self-promotion, and when there, to the exercise of that power over consciences, which, when it was their own case to suffer from others, they esteemed most cruel.
I well know, that there is something in man, that prompts to religion, and such as stands not in the traditions of men, nor any mere formality. But man, that he may not wholly lose the honour of a share, or be reputed sloathful, with an unwarrantable activity so adulterates, and by an intermixture of his own conceptions with those, divine dictates and purer discoveries, so sophisticates, that they at last become more his own workmanship than the truth’s. And so fond is he of this child of his brain, that like some ancient tyrants, he will rather cut his way to the throne by a violence upon all other consciences, than not put an earthly crown upon its head.
They that know not the truth of this, have scarcely looked back to their great grandfather's time. Two centuries have not passed as yet, since bold and honourable attempts were made against that apostate church of Rome, which proved so successful as to win many kingdoms from her tyranny.t God certainly blessed the endeavours of those conscientious persons, who spent their estate, time, and blood in that truly holy, but passive war.
But this has been the misery, that they being intercepted by death, their successors, who acted nut in the same simplicity and upon like convictions as they did, began to think it no small testimony of their regard to their martyred ancestors, to invest what they called their religion with worldly majesty, and then make use of the temporal sword to establish it, with their own additions, as the most true, certain, and infallible way ;t employing that force, those mulcts and cruel penalties to extort conformity, or else perish
Read Euseb. Evag. Socr. Ruffi Coun. Trent. Simps. Full. Perr. Bak. Dan. Trus. Daval. Clark. Merl. &c.
† See book of Mar. Luth. contr. Ecc. Zuing. Caly. Beza, &c. * Heyl. of Reform.