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by the will of God? Do they not differ in call, in practice, in maintenance, and in fruits and effects from the true ministers and true apostles? And do they not agree with the false prophets, false ministers, and deceivers, in their call, practice, maintenance, fruits, and effects? Search the scriptures, and lay them to that line, and then let the witness in your consciences judge and answer. And do not they prepare war against such as put not into their mouths? And do not they feed with the fat, and clothe with the wool? Do not they oppress the nation and the creation? And are not they such whose call, and practices, and maintenance, and whole ministry, have a dependence upon Popery? doth it not all savour of Popery, and in the main and principal parts thereof, ordained by the pope? This may be fully made manifest. And are not all professors, and sects of people, such as have the form but are without the power of godliness? Are not people still covetous, and earthly minded, and given to the world, and proud and vain, even such as profess religion, and to be a separated people? Are not professors as covetous and proud as such as do not profess? And are not they given to the world, and doth it not show that they are not changed nor translated, but death reigns among them? And is it not manifest that they have taken up the form of the apostles' and Christ's words and practices, and are without the life, and not guided by the spirit of Christ and the apostles in their praying and preaching? And are not your souls lean and starved? To the witness of God in you all I speak; which may testify that many people have a show of religion without life, and therefore have not we spoken the truth of them, in what we have said? In the day of judgment you shall answer it.
And as concerning the Quakers, what do you say of them? You have seen their conversation; sew towns but some of them have been and are amongst you. Do not they fear God? and do not they walk justly and truly among their neighbours, and speak the truth, and do the truth in all things, doing to all no otherwise than they would be done unto? And are they not meek, and humble, and sober? And do not they take much wrong, rather than give wrong to any? And are they not such as delight in the ways of the Lord? And do not they deny the world and its pleasures, and forsake all iniquity more than yourselves? And do not they take up the daily cross of Christ to all its ways and earthly glories? And do not they preach in the power of God, and reach to your consciences, when you hear them? And doth not the light in you answer that they speak the truth? And are not their call, and practice, and maintenance the same as was the apostles' and faithful ministers'? Compare them with the scripture, and then judge in your consciences. And do not they suffer many hard and cruel things, eyen all manner of evil spoken and donc against them falsely for the
name of Christ? Are you ignorant of their great sufferings through this nation? And what do you think! is their suffering for evil doing, or is it not for righteousness' sake? What harm do they to any, by work or word? Why are they reproached, and mocked, and scorned? And why are they put in prisons, and whipped, and thus sorely abused? Is it for any evil doing, or is it not because they are the servants of the Lord? Compare their fruits with the priests' fruits, their conversation with the priests' conversation, and see which be most like the apostles. These things I leave with you, that you may come to consider and judge justly of all things; for the Lord God is risen, and his light in people's consciences is shining forth, and it shall answer to what I say, in this world or in the day of judgment, when we, and all mankind, shall appear and come forth to trial, and every man's work shall be tried, and all shall receive according to their deeds.
And so gladly would we be made manifest to all the world, that if after the reading of this book, any be unsatisfied still in this matter; and if any, especially of the heads and rulers, have doubts or jealousies raised in them concerning us and the priests, and would be further satisfied and resolved; for that end let any wise men propound, for full satisfaction of all sorts of people, that we (with the consent of the chief in authority that have power in this nation, who may preserve peace and safety among people, and thereby to stop all jealousies) may freely and cheerfully, four, ten, twenty, thirty, more or fewer of us, give as many of the wisest and ablest of the priests and professors a meeting for dispute, at any place in England, at what time, and for what continuance they shall consent unto and fix, to dispute and controvert betwixt us and them any such thing, and every such particular as shall or may be objected by any of the heads and rulers, or other grave understanding men, wherein they are doubtful betwixt us, and would thereof be satisfied; that by such dispute and opening of such causes objected, full, and real, and total satisfaction may be given to the whole nation, and every particular man and member therein.
Otherwise, let the priests, or professors, or any of them, object what they can against us, in our principles, profession, faith, and practice, and our whole religion. And if they shall affirm and allege any one or more things against us, that any principle we hold, or practice we are found in throughout all our religion, are false principles and false practices, and not according to truth nor the scriptures, but shall affirm that our religion is not the true religion, nor we of the true church of Christ, they shall have free liberty, to give their best proof and reason for what ihey affirm and allege. Yet by the strength of Christ, and in the power and authority of God, and according to the scriptures, we shall confute all their proofs and strongest reasons; and on the con
trary we shall join our principles, doctrines, and practices, and all our religion, and every part and particular thereof, to be the very truth, and agreeing with the scriptures, and, according to that, shall maintain by lawful arguments and plea, that our religion and worship, and all that we profess and practice, are according to the mind of the Lord, and justified of him, and that whatsoever is and may be spoken against us upon that account is utterly false, and to be condemned. And upon this we will engage with them, and with any of our enemies, of what sect or profession soever, to the intent only that truth may be manifest and embraced, and deceit and error discovered and denied.
And also, upon such an engagement, we should agree to have the liberty, freely and soberly to object against the priests, concerning their ministry, their call, their practice, their maintenance, and their fruits and effects; and concerning their church, and principles, and worship, and whole religion; and shall hear patiently all that can be said in defence thereof by any or all of them, and shall prove by the spirit of the Lord, and according to the scriptures, that their ministry is not the true ministry of Christ, nor they true and lawful ministers of the gospel; but shall manifest by evident arguments, that their call, practice, maintenance, fruits and effects, are not according, but contrary to what the true ministry was, and its call, practice, maintenance, fruits and effects were in the true apostles, and among the true churches. And furthermore, by the grace of God, we shall prove their church, their worship, and their whole religion, in all parts thereof, to be degenerated from what the true church was, and the true worship, and true religion were, in the days of the apostles and true churches of old. And these things shall we make manifest by faithful and sound arguments according to the scriptures, that all the earth may know, and all people perceive who is in the truth, and of the true worship and religion, and who are in the contrary, and whether the priests, and that which they profess and practice for religion, or the Quakers, and that which they profess and practice for religion, be of God, and according to him, and which are contrary; that the end of this long travel, and war and controversy may be decided and justly ended between us, and all people may be resolved and satisfied concerning us, and them that do op
And let all the priests and professors lay aside and give over their houses of correction, and imprisoning people, and whipping them, and stocking us, and dealing in this manner of violence and cruelty, as for years past they have done in defence of their religion, and resisting of ours. And let them lay aside their carnal weapons, and fighting against our persons, and imprisoning us about our religion, and let them come forth in sound arguments, the best they have, and let us see what spi
ritual weapons they have to resist us, and defend them selves; and let us try whether their spiritual weapons or ours be the strongest, and the most powerful and mighty; and let theirs that are so prevail against the other, be it ours or theirs. And this is the way to try the truth, and to make all things manifest, and to decide and end the whole controversy between us and them, which hath been great these many years. And let the truth be set up and exalted, wherever it is, and all deceit thrown down to the ground; and let us war with the weapons of the spirit, against error and false religion one in the other, but let us not hurt nor imprison persons, nor stock and whip, and make them to suffer. But let us thresh deceit, and whip and beat that, and all false opinions, let us throw them down where they are found, whether in them or in us, and let us fight with the weapons of the spirit, that are spiritual, and let them fight no longer with such cruel carnal weapons. And then let such as get the victory, and overcome, appear to be in the truth of the church, and such as fall and are overcome, be manifest to be in the error, and of the false church and religion. And let us love one another's persons, and let them act no otherwise towards our persons, than we do upon theirs, and towards them; and let them take the liberty to deal with us and our persons, as we deal with them and their persons, and no otherwise.
And let such, whether they or we, that cannot prove ourselves to be the true church of Christ, nor of the true worship, and true religion, nor in the truth, but are found to be in the error, and out of the truth, let such deny their worship and church, and renounce all their religion, and confess to all the world, under their hands, that they are and have been deceived, and for ever hereafter stop their mouths, and never profess nor practice any more what they have done in such religion. Freely upon these issues and conditions we will join trial with them. Let them appoint time, place, and proffer terms at their own pleasure, and then to all the world it shall be manifest, and to all people discovered, whether we have not good ground and sufficient reason, to war against these priests; and it may perfectly appear that what we have said and written against them, these divers years, has been upon a good foundation, and we have had sufficient cause to speak and write against them as we have done; and none thenceforth shall have cause to say, or doubt, that what we have spoken and written against them hath been out of malice or envy, and without cause or good reason; but on the contrary, all shall know the ground of quarrel is sufficient, and full of equity on our part.
And upon these or any equal terms and conditions, would we, and are we willing to engage with these priests, and all or any one of these sects, in a lawful trial, in disputes or writings, for the trial and search
ing out of the truth, and the true religion. And were it not equal and reasonable, that we had the same liberty among all these priests, and in their churches or assemblies freely to declare our minds, and to let forth ourselves in what we hold and profess, without being violently haled, and beat, and whipped, and sent to prison as we have been these many years ? Which liberty we do freely grant and allow among us to all, to query, or declare what is upon them, without such violent dealing, or whipping, or sending them to prisons and houses of correction; and the same freedom and no other do we desire of others, in this particular, to declare the truth and what we hold, than what we do and would allow to others; and that no weapon be used by them against us, nor dealing towards us, but the weapons of the spirit, the best they have or can bring forth against us. And let them let creatures alone, and not hurt nor do violence to them, and no other weapons shall we use against them, nor deal with them by any other thing, but the weapons of the spirit of God, which is powerful, and will bring down strong holds; and as for creatures, we shall not hurt, nor do violence, nor imprison them. And whose weapons are the strongest, let such overcome.
And such as are overcome, are not the true church; for the true church of Christ, which is builded upon the rock, the gates of hell cannot prevail against. And who do overcome, let it be manifest that God of a truth is with them. And let them all cease to defend their church, and ministry, and religion, with prisons, and whips, and houses of correction; for by such things was never the true church, ministry, and religion defended, but only the power and authority of God preserved them, and resisted all their enemies; and so it is at this day. And let all cease to cry deceivers, and being afraid they will be deceived; for if they be the true church, all, or any one of these sects and professions of religion, then if we be deceivers, and come among them, they cannot be deceived, if they be in the election; for neither deceivers, nor the gates of hell can prevail against the true church of Christ, nor against them that are elect, which the devil hath nothing in. And if we be the true church of Christ, and in the election, then if all the deceivers upon earth come among us, they cannot prevail against us, nor deceive us; for the elect cannot be deceived. And upon these terms we may engage with any people and sect upon earth: therefore come to this, and join with us; take you the liberty to declare in soberness what you own and profess, and you shall not be persecuted, nor your bodies nor persons harmed by violence; and let us have that liberty to declare in meekness and soberness, and in God's authority, amongst you what we hold and profess, and let us not be persecuted, and dealt violently withal; and then let it appear whether we or our enemies have a greater testimony, and more powerful in the