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sum. life and immortality were brought to light, power from on high and wisdom were made manifest, and the day everlasting appeared unto us, and the joyful sun of righteousness did arise and shine forth lunto us and in us; and the holy anointing, the everlasting comforter, we received; and the babe of glory was born, and the heir of the promise brought forth to reign over the earth, and over hell and death, whereby we entered into everlasting union, and fellowship, and covenant with the Lord God, whose mercies are sure and infinite, and his promise never fails. We were raised from death to life, and changed from satan's power to God, and gathered from all the dumb shepherds, and off all the barren mountains, into the fold of eternal peace and rest, and mighty and wonderful things hath the Lord wrought for us, and by us, by his own outstretched arm.
And thus we became followers of the Lamb whithersoever he goes; and he hath called us to make war in righteousness for his name's sake against hell and death, and all the powers of darkness, and against the beast and false prophet, which have deceived the nations. And we are of the royal seed elect, chosen and faithful, and we war in truth and just judgment; not with weapons that are carnal, but by the sword that goes out of his mouth, which shall slay the wicked, and cut them to pieces. And after this manner was our birth or bringing forth, and thus hath the Lord chosen us and made us an army dreadful and terrible, before whom the wicked do fear and tremble; and our standard is truth, justice, righteousness, and equity; and all that come unto us, must cleave thereunto, and fight under that banner without fear, and without doubting, and they shall never be ashamed nor put to flight, neither shall they ever be conquered by hell or death, or by the powers of darkness; but the Lord shall be their armour, weapon, and defence for evermore. And they that follow the Lamb shall overcome, and get the victory over the beast, and over the dragon, and over the gates of hell; for the Lord is with us, and who shall be able to make us afraid?
Then having thus armed us with power, strength, and wisdom, and dominion, according to his mind, and we having learned of him, and being taught of him in all things, and he having chosen us into his work, and put his sword into our hand, and given us perfect commission to go forth in his name and authority, having the word from his mouth what to cut down and what to preserve, and having the everlasting gospel to preach to the inhabitants of the earth, and being commanded in spirit to leave all, and follow him, and go forth in his work, yea an absolute necessity was laid upon us, and wo unto us if we preached not the gospel... For when we looked abroad and beheld the world, behold it was altogether darkness, and even as a wilderness,
and desolate, and barren of good fruit; and death reigned over men, and no good fruit was brought forth to God, but leaves we beheld upon every soul. And all men and peoples were made drunk with the wine of whoredoms, and the whore's cup they had drunk, and were committing fornication with the great whore, and she reigned over the kings and peoples of the earth. And the antichrist was set up in the temple of God, ruling over all, having brought nations under his power, and set up
many ages; even since the days of the apostles and true churches hath he reigned, while the woman hath been fled into the wilderness, and the man child caught up to God. Christ said antichrist should come, and put on the sheep's clothing, and be inwardly a ravening wolf; and John saw that antichrist was come in his days, and he went forth then from the true church, and went into the world, and deceived the world; and ever since, his kingdom hath reigned over nations; for then he began to exalt himself, and it is sixteen hundred years since, all which time antichrist hath had the sheep's clothing, but inwardly a ravener, and hath ruled and reigned. And this we saw, in the very time of our birth and bringing forth; and we beheld nations as a wilderness untilled, and men's hearts as the fallow ground, unbroken up, and not ploughed nor sown with the good seed of God's kingdom. So that we saw all states and orders of men corrupted and degenerated from what they ought to be, and from what God had once ordained them. As for the ministry, first, we looking upon it with a single eye, in the light of the spirit of God which had anointed us, we beheld it clearly (which we had been stumbling at, and much doubting that it was not the perfect ministry of Christ, for many years before) not to be of Christ, nor sent of him, nor having the commission, power, and authority of Christ, as his ministry had in the days of the true churches; but in all things, as in call, practice, maintenance, and in every thing else, in fruits and effects we found it to disagree, and be wholly contrary to the true ministry of Christ in the days of the apostles. And likewise, we truly beheld it to be in call, practice, and maintenance, and all things, the very same in fruits and effects with the false ministry, and false prophets, and false apostles, and deceivers of old. And this I do testify, and am able to prove in the spirit and authority of the Lord, that the public ministry as now it stands generally, is wholly degenerated from what the true ministry of Christ once was, and differeth, and is contrary in all things to what Christ's ministers were, and agreeth, and is equal in all things with what the false prophets and deceivers were throughout all ages. And this I charge upon it, in the face and view of all men to whom this may come; for this we saw concerning it, in the beginning, and our first assurance. And as for other places and orders of men and
callings, we saw them also corrupted and degenerated, and evil and iniquity abounding among all sorts of people; and blindness and darkness covered the face of the earth and of the world; and all people were in their transgressions, and making void the law of God; and that it was time for the Lord to work, and to arise to ease himself of his adversaries. And as for all churches (so called) and professions and gatherings of people, we beheld you as all in the apostacy and degeneration from the true church, not being gathered by the spirit of the Lord, nor anointed thereby, as the true members of Christ ever were, but to be in a form, and in forms of righteousness without the power, and in imitations without life and perfect knowledge. So that all the practices of religion we beheld without power and life, though some had a sincerity in them, and a zeal and a desire towards the Lord; yet all people erred in judgment, and none were guided in judgment by the eternal spirit; and the error in judgment made their zeal blind, and their performances of righteousness not accepted, though acted in some sincerity and zeal; because they were not guided in practice, and led in judgment by the spirit of the Lord, which only leads into all truth, and none are in the truth but who are led only thereby. So that we beheld all profession to be but as coverings with fig leaves, while the nature of transgression stood uncondemned and not crucified. We then also saw not only that the performance and practice in church state, and in religious orders were corrupted, but also government, and magistracy, and all things in civil state were not aright in the sight of the Lord, nor as the Lord required, neither as he had ordained in the beginning; for government, we know, as ordained of God, is to punish, and limit, and terrify all evil doers, and to preserve and defend all that do well; and that men's consciences are to be left free, to be ruled by the Lord alone, and guided by his spirit; and that outward power and civil magistrates and laws, (so called,) ought not to be Lord or ruler in men's consciences, nor over them. But we beheld how unrighteousness and iniquity, and sin and wickedness were strengthened and encouraged in the government, and by such as were in authority; and how the exercise of a good conscience in the fear of God was abused; so that it was turned backward from what it ought to be; them that did well were punished, and limited as transgressors, and the evil doers were set free, and not made afraid: so that we could truly cry, truth was fallen in the streets, and justice and true judgment turned backward, and equity had no place to enter, and the innocent were devoured through want of true and just judgment, and the needy were spoiled and made a prey. For no sooner had we opened our mouths, but the magistrates began to put us in prison, and execute great injustice upon us, and became oppressors of the innocent, and laid unjust
burdens upon us, grievous to be borne, and true justice and judgment were neglected, and wrong judgment brought forth, and good government abused, and men in authority not ruled by the Lord, neither ruling for the Lord among men: and thus it came to pass upon us, through the corruption and degeneration in government and magistrates, which we saw to be, as it was sulfilled by them, to wit, not as the Lord required, nor as he in the beginning ordained it, but quite the contrary. And this we saw in the beginning, when the spirit of the Lord was poured down upon us, and power from on high was revealed to declare against all the abominations of the earth, and to make war against all corruption, in all orders, and places, and men.
Then being prepared of the Lord, and having received power from on high, we went forth as commanded of the Lord, leaving all relations and all things of the world behind us, that we might fulfil the work of the Lord into which he called us. We consulted not with flesh and blood, nor any creature, nor took counsel of men, but of the Lord alone, who listed up our heads above the world, and all fears and doubtings; and was with us in power and dominion, over all that which opposed us, which was great and mighty; and gave us power over it all, and to bind kings in chains, and nobles in fetters of iron; and this is the saints' honour. And the word of the Lord we sounded, and did not spare, and caused the deaf to hear, the blind to see, and the heart that was hardened to be awakened; and the dread of the Lord went before us, and behind us, and terror took hold upon our enemies. And first of all, our mouths were opened, and our spirits filled with indignation against the priests and teachers, and with them and against them first we began to war, as being the causers of the people to err; the blind leaders that carried the blind into the ditch; the fountain of all wickedness abounding in the nations, and the issue of profaneness: for from them hath profaneness gone forth in all nations: and against them we cried aloud, being redeemed from their mouths who had made a prey upon us, as they do upon all that follow their ways. And in steeple-houses we visited them often, and in markets and other places, as the Lord moved and made way for us, showing unto them and all their people, that they were not lawful ministers of Christ, sent of him, but were deceivers and antichrists, and such whom the Lord never sent. And we spared not publicly, and at all seasons, to utter forth the judgments of the Lord against them and their ways, and against their churches, and worships, and practices, as not being of God, nor commanded by him, but by which they deceived the world. And this was our first work which we entered upon, to thresh down the deceivers, and lay them open, that all people might see their shame, and come to turn from them, and receive the knowledge of the truth, that they
might be saved. And this we did with no small opposition nor danger, yea, often times we were in danger of our lives, through beating, abusing, punishing, haling, casting over walls, striking with staves and cudgels, and knocking down to the ground; besides reproaching, scorning, revilings and hootings at, scoffings and slanderings, and all abuses that could be thought or acted by evil hands and tongues. And often were we carried before magistrates, with grievous threats, and sometimes put in the stocks, and whipped, and often imprisoned, and many hard dealings against us, the worst that tongues or hands could execute, sparing life. Of this all the north countries may witness; and all these things are sustained and suffered from people and rulers, because of our faithfulness to the Lord, and for declaring against the deceivers. For nothing, save only the hand of the Lord, and his power, could have preserved us, and carried us through all this. Neither for any outward reward, or advantage to ourselves whatsoever, would we have exposed ourselves to that violence, and those sufferings, and dangers, which befel us daily. But the Lord was our exceeding great reward through all these things, and kept us in the hollow of his hand, and under the shadow of his wings, and gave us dominion in spirit over all our enemies, and subdued them before us. And though rulers and people were combined against us, and executed their injustice and violence upon us, yet the Lord made us to prosper, and grow exceedingly in strength, wisdom, and number, and the hearts of the people inclined unto us, and the witness of God in many stirred for us, for to that in all consciences in our words and sufferings, and ways, we did commend ourselves to be known and approved.
And in the beginning we were but few in number, only a few that thus were carried on and dealt with, and that had received the power from on high in such a measure, and for such a work. And no sooner did the Lord appear to us, and with us, but the devil and his power rose up against us to destroy us; and it wrought in rulers, priests, and people, and all the ways and means invented by the devil that could be executed by his servants, were brought forth to quench the work of the Lord, and to stop our passage in what we were called to. Did ye but perfectly know, as we perfectly found, the craftiness, and policy, and wickedness of the devil, how to overcome this new born babe, and how to root out for ever this plant that was newly sprung forth, it would make you admire and wonder! All the priests and rulers were in an uproar. The priests petitioned to the magistrates, and run up and down from one session and judiciatory.to another, and took wicked oaths, and slandered the just with lies and reproaches, on purpose to incense all people against us. And the magistrates gave forth warrants for the apprehending of some, and gave orders to break our meetings,