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against us to be deceivers, deluders, heretics, and blasphemers, and such like, and that our doctrines were deceivable, and error, and factious, and what not; and that our practices were destructive to men, laws, and government? These things in the worst nature have been spoken against us without ceasing, by the wisest, and men of greatest parts and most religious, (falsely so accounted,) for these certain years, in the south, as well as in the north. Besides, what loss have we sustained other ways in the south, by beatings, and strikings, and abuses, and slanders, and false reproaches, and haling before magistrates, and imprisoning, and all the like dealing from priests, rulers, and people, yea, the same hard dealing and cruelty from all sorts of people we have suffered, and do daily, as we did in the north. Insomuch that we are now accustomed to the yoke, and well acquainted with sorrows and griefs from all sorts of people. And were not the Lord on our side, our enemies would swallow us up quick, and we had been long since devoured by the teeth of the ungodly. So that I may now call to witness all the jails and prisons in the south, as in the north, and all the inagistrates, and judges, and rulers, and all officers of the law, what sufferings we have sustained, and what cruel and hard dealing we have undergone, and what injustice, and unequal and false judgment have been executed upon us in these five years time. Which of the jails may appear free, where some of us have not suffered the loss of our liberties unjustly? And who of any justice of the peace, or any other officer, from the judge to the constable, can clear themselves from guilt in this matter, and have not had a hand in our unjust sufferings ? To the witness of God in all people of all sorts, through this whole nation and some others, do I appeal concerning this matter, how we have been dealt withal, and what we have sustained in our persons and in our names, and how many acts and words of cruelty and injustice we have borne and suffered. And these priests have been as the fountain and cause of all this, and the foremost in all this iniquity and injustice by all that they could do to incense the rulers and people against us, by preaching, and praying, and writing, and printing for the space of these seven years. Notwithstanding all this the mighty power and presence of the Lord have been with us, and preserved us from dangers great and many, and carried us through trials, and perplexities, and sufferings; and not only so, but he hath increased us in number, so that thousands and ten thousands have and may own us, and the truth which we give witness of, and live therein? For the eyes of all people are beginning to be opened, and the deaf ear is unstopped, and the way of life eternal is made manifest, and the Lord is gathering his flock, which hath been scattered in the cloudy and dark day, whilst these false idle shepherds, (these priests and teachers I mean,) have fed themselves with the fat, VOL. III.
and clothed themselves with the wool, and laid down in slumber, and not gathered the flock, nor fed them, but scattered them and driven them away; and with force and with cruelty have they ruled over the heritage of the Lord. Wo, wo, unto these shepherds, saith the Lord God, they shall be confounded and put to shame perpetually, and they shall be broken down and never builded any more, and the Lord will pluck them up by the roots, and they shall never again be planted.
And besides all their petitioning the magistrates against us, and preaching and praying against us, and all the evil and wickedness, in work, word, and desire brought forth against us from time to time; here sober reader thou hast a catalogue and whole number of books printed and written against us, and abundance of their doctrines uttered against us, and in opposition to us, gathered up in this volume in a sum, with our answers to them; and if thy heart and mind be single, thou mayst hereby understand, in measure, the difference in doctrine between them and us, and compare each of them with the scriptures, and see whether their doctrines and principles laid down as the subject of their books, or our doctrines and principles laid down in answer to theirs, agree with the scriptures. And if thou be impartial in this business, and single in this search and judgment, I doubt not, but thou wilt in a great measure satisfy thyself, and be resolved concerning the priests and professors of England, and us who are called Quakers. And when thou hast thus done, own and deny them or us, as the Lord shall persuade thee; for thou mayst fully perceive we differ in doctrines and principles, and the one thou must justify, and the other thou must.condemn, as being one clean contrary to the other in principles. And I wish also thou wouldst measure us, and compare us in life and conversation, and truly judge, whether they or we do the more follow Christ and his apostles in practice and conversation. And in all things lay us and them to the line of true judgment, and with an upright heart judge accordingly; for know this, there is not any principle we hold, nor any work which we practice in our religion and worship, but we are willing, and fully desire may be brought to the bar of true justice, and in every particular of principle and practice, examined and tried to the full, and each of us judged in truth and equity, whether it be they or we that are of the true religion, and true faith and true worship of God that the apostles were in ; and which of us it is that is in a wrong way, and in a falsc religion, and false faith and worship. And in this we will join issue with them, in the sight of the whole nation, if they will come forth to trial; if what already is brought forth by them against us, and by us against them, for these seven years, in disputes, and in printing, and otherwise, be not sufficient for all people to try us, and judge us by, whother they or we be in the right.
And now I do appeal to that of God in the consciences of all people in the nation, to judge between the priests and professors, and all the sects, and us. Ye have heard their doctrines, and ye have heard something of ours; ye have seen their conversation, and ye have seen something of ours; ye have heard them long, and something of us ye have heard for a little season, and now give your evidence, is it not with them as we have said ? Are not your priests in the steps of the false prophets and of the deceivers, and do not they seek for their gain from their quarter, as they did that Isaiah cried against. Do not they preach for hire and divine for money, as they did which Micah cried against ? Are not they such by whom you have not been profited, as Jeremiah cried against ? Let that of God in you answer to these things. And are they not proud men, and covetous men, and envious men, and heady high-minded men, and given to filthy lucre ? And are they not such as through covetousness make merchandise of souls, and that by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple, such as Paul and Peter declare against? And are they not such as the true prophets, Christ, and his apostles cried against ? And do they not bring forth the same fruits as did the false prophets, and false apostles ? I leave it to your consciences to be the judge: compare them, and lay them to the line of true judgment; if you shut not your eyes, you may see it is thus. And have we charged them falsely, or have we not spoken the truth concerning them? We have said they are false ministers and deceivers, and not true ministers of Christ; and is it not so ? Let the light in your consciences answer. We have said they have run, and never were sent, and that they have not not profited the people at all; and is it not so? To the witness of God in you I do appeal, and let that testify that we have spoken nothing but the truth. Examine and try in all things that we have charged them with, and are they not guilty in all things that we have charged upon them? Let the witness of God in you testify to this.
And what do you judge of them, are they not of that stock which Christ said should come, and should be wolves in sheep's clothing, and should deceive many, and which John saw were come in his days, and which the whole world went after? Are not they in the nature of wolves, devouring and tearing the lambs of Christ ? And do not they tear people by causing their bodies to be imprisoned and their goods to be spoiled? And do they not deceive many? And yet they have the sheep's clothing, the saints' words and their practices, but inwardly are they not ravening? And doth not the world go after them, and hath not the world run after them for many ages; and is it not thus with them? And have they received the gift of the holy ghost, or are they not made ministers by the will of man, and not
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; few 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 done 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 they 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