Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

TO THE

UNPREJUDICED READER.

IF it had not been the Lord who was on our side when men rose up against us, “Now may we (with Israel) say, then they had swallowed us up quick, when their wrath was kindled against us.”

Had our separation and testimony been of men, or by man's will, we had fallen long since, as many of our adversaries have falsely prophesied. We had not been sustained through our many trials, nor borne up above the floods of enmity, if the Lord had not been with us.

But he who hath gathered and chosen us to witness furth his name and truth in the power and spirit of it, hath preserved and given us strength to persevere therein. Blessed be his name for ever.

And this I, with my brethren, must give testimony of, that as God hath in these last days been pleased to visit us by his eternal power, and in his love and kindness to

open
the

eyes of our understanding, to see his goodness, both to our own particulars and to mankind in general, in extending saving grace or light to all ; so it is by his power that he hath raised up, and set forth witnesses of the same.

The sense we have of the love of God, and his glorious light revealed, induces and moves us, even in the spirit of the gospel, to call others out of darkness, and to direct their minds to the appearance of the true light in their hearts and consciences, in what degree soever it showeth itself, which God in his goodness hath universally afforded for good to mankind, that they might both know him, and their duty to him. God did stretch forth his hand, and reach unto us by his power, for this very end, to gather us to his Divine light or shining in our hearts, that thereby we might receive the knowledge of his glory in the face of Christ Jesus, as his former witnesses did.

And although we must still confess to the love and good will of God to man, in affording Divine light universally throughout all ages, yet transgression and darkness have been such in the earth, that they have in many ages so much veiled and obscured the light, that the knowledge and manifestation thereof has been much wanting, even because of man's transgression and disobedience.

Wherefore light being now sprung up, and truth arisen out of darkness and obscurity, we must faithfully testify thereof, and own the least degrees and lowest dispensations of Divine light in man, as his duty to observe, and not to slight nor despise it in any. For we know, that as light has risen, and shined out of obscurity, and truth has risen up out of the earth, it has been from a less appear. ance and degree to a greater, even from that degree of shining in a dark place, unto the perfect day. And as all the promises of God are yea and amen in Christ, so all his glorious dispensations and promises centre in a Divine and unchangeable principle of life and fight, however gradually discovered to and in man. 'Therefore the

less appearance or manifestation in any, while it is of the same principle, cannot be extinguished nor lessened by the greater in others, in that the highest attainments of Divine knowledge were always gradually obtained by the holy men of God.

Moreover, this we assert, that God that ma man for his own glory, (whose mercies are over all his works, and who willeth not the death of sinners, but rather that they should return and live,) hath not only throughout all ages universally afforded an unchangeable principle of Divine light, which he hath placed in man, to direct him his way out of darkness and sin; but he also signally visits him at times with living appearances, motions, and operations of his light and spirit, to his reproof and conviction, thereby often warning and calling man out of iniquity. The Spirit of God strove with the old world that had corrupted its way before him, and was destroyed by the flood, for its flood of iniquity; and he gave his good Spirit unto the rebellious Jews, which they grieved and vexed, until he became their enemy and fought against them. “ He by his lightnings enlightened the world, and the earth trembled and shook," -and upon whom doth not his light arise ?” although “ they that rebel against the light know not the ways of it, because they abide not in the paths thereof.” He that causeth his sun to arise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth his rain on the just and the unjust, hath not left himself without sufficient witness in the earth, both inward and outward; as, namely, his Divine immediate light in man appearing to the soul, and his works of creation which are obvious to the sight, universally declaring his wisdom, power, and greatness to be inwardly considered and understood, as his inward light opens man's understanding.

Howbeit, man having transgressed this Divine principle, and his mind being alienated from it, and blinded by the god of this world; God having bowels of pity still remaining, he hath been pleased so far to commiserate poor lost man, as to afford and extend those precious promises, the more eminently to declare, show forth, and renew his love, light, and power, for man's recovery out of his lost and dark estate: as, that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head ;” and this did Christ in general, (and doth in particular,) by the power of the Father. Which can no ways lessen nor detract from his light within, nor be any inconsistency with its directing men to the same power of God, for the subduing and bruising satan under their feet, which in their own particulars they must experience, whoever attain to deliverance or salvation from the power of sin and satan.

As also, God hath promised to 6 make a new covenant with his people.” It is called new, not as opposed to the light within, or as implying its waxing old; but because the old covenant without, (which the Jews broke,) was to decay and vanish. This new covenant is a covenant of light, life, and peace; a covenant whereby he takes away and forgives sin. This they only have a part in, who obey the universal light of the Son of God within, which no way viffers in nature from the covenant itself, nor can it oppose the ends

of it; but is a light of the same life and fulness that is enjoyed in the covenant or agreement with God, moving and conducing to the very same end and agreement, as it is obeyed and waited in. And as the Jews outward had a rule, directory, and law in the letter without, (though that alone could not give life, so the Jew inward hath his rule, directory, and law inward in spirit, which can give life.

And this new covenant is the last dispensation of God in Christ to man, wherein his highest, spiritual, and saving knowledge is to be received, by all that truly obey his light. And though this be new as to his renewed glorious discovery herein; yet he who is the life of this covenant, and given for a covenant and salvation, is the first and the last, the rock of ages, whom God hath decreed to anoint or set up on the hill of his holiness, even the holy hill of Sion, that he may subdue and rule the nations, and be the salvation of God to the ends of the earth : more abundantly to be mani. fest in these last ages, wherein his church cometh out of the wilderness, and the holy city New Jerusalem is discovered from heaven as a bride prepared for the bridegroom, and the Lord God and the Lamb (as promised) is the light thereof; and the nations of them that are saved shall walk in the light of this city. And for this end is the gospel made known and preached again, after a long night and reign of anti-christ, beast, false prophet, dragon, and whore, whose judgment is revealed; even against all the dark spirits, and hypocritical envious agents of anti-christ and satan, who not only envy, oppose, and gainsay the truth, and undervalue the true light, as it is an universal principle in man, but also resist and strive against the glorious breaking forth and discovery thereof in our days; for which the Lord will rebuke them.

Such Babylonish builders, and envious agents, divers of these men called Anabaptists, or Dippers, now show themselves to be ; whose malice, madness, and folly shall be manifest to all men.Why do they rage, and fret, and revile, but because the light is sprung up, and the over-spreading day of God is broken forth,who hath said, “ As truly as I' live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord.” Num. xiv. 21. The stone cut out without hands, that smites the image, shall become a great mountain, and fill the earth. The God of heaven is setting up his kingdom which shall never be destroyed, as prophesied in Daniel. Yea, truth is sprung out of the earth, which strikes at satan's and anti-christ's kingdom, and again bruiseth the serpent's head, who hath lodged and covered himself under their empty forms, shadows, and lifeless professions, as he did among the persecuting Jews of old. The Lord hath lifted up a standard against their hypocrisy and deceit, who have been covering an envious spirit with a pretence of Christianity. And he is exalting his gospel dispensation, in setting up his light above their darkness, his power above their empty forms, the substance above the shadow, the spirit above the letter, and his worship in spirit and truth above will-worship in hypocrisy

At this satan is offended, and his agents are angry. These our present opposers vent forth their confusion, envy, and strife, though

it be against the stream. They are wearying themselves for very vanity; the fire which they have kindled in their envy against the Lord's heritage, wherein they are labouring, shall devour them.

1. These Anabaptists' babylonish confusion greatly appears, about the light which is in every man, as men whom enmity hath blinded, and whose minds are alienated from it into gross darkness. Though the controvery between us is not upon the question, whether there be a light, or any light, in every man, for thus far we both agree in the affirmative, but whether God hath given a Divine or sufficient light to every man, to show and direct him out of sin and evil, to God who is light, and the giver of light for life and salvation ? which we affirm, but these Dippers deny, especially such of them who are particular electioners or predestinarians, whose partial doctrine doth not really place the cause of men's condemnation upon their neglect or disobedience of the light given them, but originally upon God's secret decree against them, and his withholding saving light or grace from them, as they both falsely and partially imagine, however it is coufessed to be tendered to all, in preaching the gospel without exception or respect of persons.

But under what terms or names do these our opposers represent this light, which they confess is in every man, to prove it insufficient either for a rule or guide to salvation. Sometimes they call it a creature, sometimes a natural light, sometimes the substance of the law, or first covenant, which they grant ought to be improved. Sometimes, after a more gross manner, they blasphemously represent it as a misguiding light, directly opposing the covenant of grace, and to be rejected. But how well this agrees with its being a light given of God to be improved, (surely for a good end,) I leave to the serious impartial reader to judge ; of which he may see further in the following answer to Thomas Hicks.

And touching these men's envy against us called Quakers, as being offended at our present liberty and prosperity, H. Grigg endeavours to clear them, in his epistle to the Baptists, (not Babylonish,) by this passage, viz. “ I have not the least enmity nor hatred in my heart against

the persons of any of these people called Quakers, nor are we offended or troubled at their present liberty, (as he seems to charge us, though we cannot deny but their principles and unsound doctrines tend to the wounding and grieving of our souls, because we see daily more and more the dangerous and damnable nature thereof."

Mark, that while hypocritically they pretend to clear and quit themselves from having the least enmity against our persons, or offence at our present liberty, it appears they would be gratified or pleased, if the powers would do them that favour, to suppress us, and restrain our liberty, as their bitter invectives and inveterate clamours plainly import, and intimate their persecuting spirit and implacable malice; as while they are complaining agaiost' our principles and doctrines as damnable, calling us cheats, impostors, Romish emissaries, &c. Though their charge herein they have never proved against us, nor can they; This not only bespeaks a willingness or desire to have our principles suppressed, but our persons likewise. As also

T. Hicks' proclaiming to the world, (p. 62,) that the Quakers' religion is a mere cheat, calculated to the service of the devil; and wickedly insinuating against our sufferings, that the satisfaction of our wilis aud lusts, the promoting our carnal interest, respect only to something to be enjoyed here, carnal advantage, outward gains, &c. may be our chief motive, inducement, and encouragement to do and suffer as we do.—Dialogue, p. 75. And he questions, whether we are not really acted by some Romish emissaries, to insinuate cov. ertly many of their own heresies, to distract, deform, and declaim the Protestant profession, &c. p. 76.

Judge, candid reader, whether these malicious and false insinuations do not savour of a persecuting spirit, though they would not be seen to envy our liberty; yet how do these invectives tend to stir up persecution, and to incense the world, and instigate the rulers against us for our suppression ? (Their pretended allegations for them are hereafter answered and refuted.) And how absurd they are in these accusations.

1. To insinuate that our sufferings have been either for carnal advantage, temporal gains, or to satisfy lusts, whilst in our resigning up ourselves to these many and deep sufferings, we have often offered up our lives, and consequently with them all our temporal enjoyments and advantages, as many this day can testify, together with those many innocent persons' lives that have been laid down among us by imprisonments, exilements, and other sufferings.

2. How ill it doth become these Anabaptists to endeavour to make the world believe, that we are either infuenced or acted by Romish emissaries, either to distract, deform, or delame the Protestant fession, which is not only a popular and deceitful insinuation against us, (as if the Dippers had the chief care of Protestant religion, or were the most Catholic therein,) but most notoriously false and wicked. And I challenge Thomas Hicks, and all the rest of his fraternity to prove it, or else for ever be ashamed thereof. Have they not more cause to look back at home, and reflect upon themselves, since that di. vers of their brethren, even some of their preachers, have of late years turned Papists, whose names being so well known, I need not now mention thein. But when or where did any preachers owned among us turo Papists, or were any such emissaries?

Oh the great enmity that is in these our opposers, and the great disingenuity and immoderation that appears among them, as will further be manifest to their shame, and the Lord will certainly rebuke them, and all their feigned coverings will be too narrow for them, and they shall see and be ashamed of their envy at his people.

But I must proceed to give the reader a short view of some of Thomas Hicks' doctrines that passed at a dispute, and in a paper of his, before his fictitious and unchristian Dialogue came forth, as some introduction to my following answer, which was written quickly after the said Dialogue came forth. I am a well wisher to all men, even desiring my enemies' repentance.

G. W. London, the 4th of the 1st Month, 1673.

pro

« ForrigeFortsæt »