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To the Unprejudiced READER.

T was the fault of fome in ancient times, that they made void God's law by mens traditions, and certainly I may now affume the fame complaint; for whilft I take a ferious profpect of the fpiritual nature and tendency of the fecond covenant, which God Almighty, in the fulness of time, by his prophets, prophefied to make and perfect; and alfo the accomplishment thereof by Jefus Chrift, and what was brought to pass amongst the primitive believers; methinks I do not only fee an utter abolishment of ceremonial worfhips, but the infcribing that fpiritual law on the heart, and infufion of holy fear to the inward parts, whereby each perfon became capacitated to know fo much of God, as fuited with his present state, from an infallible demonstration in himself, and not on the flender grounds of mens lo-here interpretations, or lo-there; for the kingdom of God is within, where himself must be the teacher of his people: but on the other hand, when from the noife of every party's pretenfions to and contentions for their own way, as most infallible, I am induced to an impartial examination of them, alas! how have all adulterated from the purity both of fcripture record, and primitive example! receiving for unquestionable doctrines, the fallible apprehenfions, and uncertain determinations of fuch councils, whofe faction, prejudice, and cruelty, foon parallelled the foregoing heathenish perfecutions; and yet that the refults of perfons fo incompetently qualified, fhould at this day in their authority remain unqueftioned by the nations, is matter both of aftonishment and pity; but an implicit faith has ever been the confequence of ignorance, idlenefs, and fear, being strong impediments to a judicious enquiry how far profeffed and impofed opiM 2


nions have their confiftency with reason, and the true religion. But that which most of all deferves a lamentation is, that Proteftants, whofe better arguments have confuted the plea of fuch as made tradition and mens prefcriptions unquestionable in circumftantials, fhould themselves, by print and practice, fo openly declare and contend for its authority in effentials; as must be obvious to any that observe their zealous anathemas against whomfoever refufe a compliance with them in doctrines, manifeftly bottomed upon mens nice inventions.

This is the right ftate of the controverfy that is maintained by us (contemptibly called Quakers) against the world, and the undoubted reafon of our severe treatment at its hands; the end of God Almighty's raifing us, being for no other purpofe, than to declare, that which our eyes have feen, our ears heard, and which our hands have handled of the Eternal Word, in oppofition to the private opinions, conjectures, and interpretations of men concerning God and religion, that all people might thereby be reduced to faith in and obedience to the univerfal grace which brings falvation; which as it only can restore found judgment concerning God, and effect redemption from iniquity, fo its being relinquifhed by men, was the very ground both of their divifion in judgment, and corruption in


That this hath been, and is our cafe, I fhall produce an instance, which is indeed the occafion of this treatife.

Two perfons lately of Thomas Vincent's auditory in Spital-fields, (who goes under the notion of a pref byter) being defirous to prove all things, and to hold fast the beft, vifited our meeting, to understand if we were as really deferving blame, as reprefented by our enemies; where it then pleafed divine goodness to visit them with the call of his light, from the inventions, carnal obfervations, will-worship, and vain conversation of thofe to whom they were formerly related; that they might be made children of the day;


and though its appearance might be finall, yet fufficient to discover them to have been inhabitants of the night, and can never be rejected, but it fhall bring that condemnation which fhall farther teftify it to be of God.

But their relinquishing his congregation fo incenfed this prefbyterian preacher, as that his peevish zeal tranfported him beyond not only the moderation of Christianity, but the civility of education, venting his folly and prejudice much to this purpose, that he had as lieve they fhould go to a bawdy-houfe, as to frequent the Quakers meetings, because of their erroneous and damnable doctrines. And pointing to the window faid, If there fhould ftand a cup of poison, I would rather drink it than fuck in their damnable doctrines. He farther expreffed himself in this manner to one of them: If ever you go again, I will give you up, and God will give you up, that you may believe a lie, and be damned. Which storms of foul and railing accufation, proving ineffectual to fhipwreck that little grain of faith, his hearers, as forgetting they hold their preaching by connivance, and the many appeals made by their non-conforming brethren, for an indulgence, came with this caution to the pater-familias, (or he that was both husband and father to the concerned parties) that he would exercife his authority, as well to refuse them to all Quaker-vifitants, as prohibit them the liberty of their confciences in frequenting our meetings.

All which we could not for the truth-fake let pass in filence, and therefore did require him to let us have a publick meeting, in which we might have liberty to answer on the behalf both of ourselves and principles; which after fome demur was granted, the day he appointed, and at the second hour in the afternoon. But that he might not want applause of many voices, and doubtless to prevent our friends, (as I am informed) bespoke his ufual auditory to be there at one; and, as a man that would not over-fpend himself, or incur a nonplus for want of feconds, he had

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his third and fourth, to wit, Thomas Danfon, Thomas Doolittle, and Maddocks, who at their times (and often out of them) did interpofe, to whom George Whitehead moftly answered; nor had there any thing been fpoken by another but from their own example.

The matter in controverfy will be related in the beginning of this treatife, as a neceffary preludium, or introduction to the following difcourfe; the manner of it was fo grofs, that I know not how to represent it better, than by the levity and rudeness of some prize; laughing, hiffing, fhoving, ftriking, and ftigmatizing us with the opprobrious terms of confident fellow, impudent villain, blafphemer, &c. And, as the ufual refuge of fhallow perfons (when they have little elfe to fay, to prepoffefs their hearers with prejudice against the principles of fuch as do oppose them) he queftioned much whether I was not fome Jefuit; not remembering, or at least unwilling to let the people know, that none have been, nor are more inftant in the vindication of that doctrine he and his brother did affert, (to wit, God fubfifting in three diftinct perfons) than the Jefuits, fo that if I fhould not as well reflect a fcandal upon their learning by a comparison, as he did upon my principle, I could more truly invert jefuitifm upon himfelf: in fhort, they neither would keep to scripture-terms themselves, nor fuffer it in any others; but looking upon George Whitehead's explanation of their terms, and reduction of their matter (if poffible) to a fcripture-fenfe (thereby fitting it to the auditors apprehenfion) to be an indirect way of answering (as that which nakedly did expose their traditional folly to the vulgar) T. V. in an abrupt manner fell to his prayer, in which he falfly, and with many ftrangely-affected whines, accufed us for blafphemers unto God; and that he might prevent the clearing of ourselves, he defired the people, when he had finished, to be gone, giving them an example by his and three brethrens retreat: but we being desirous farther to inform the people of


our innocency, they did not only (as before) endeavour to pull us down, but put the candles out, though feveral perfons, of good efteem, continued whilst we fpoke in vindication of ourselves from the invectives of our adverfaries.

The people ftill remaining undifperfed, T. V. came very palely down the ftairs (having a candle in his hand) requiring their difmiffion, at which time he promised us, at our request, another meeting; but as one that knew not well what he faid, or never purpofed to perform what he promised, has given us fince to understand, he cannot in confcience fpare us fo much time; yet to fatisfy G. W. and myfelf, in private, he could agree; which furely cannot be termed another meeting, fince then it must relate to the preceding one: but how near the relation is betwixt an accufation before hundreds, and a fatisfaction before none, must needs be obvious to every unbiaffed perfon:-our right should have been altogether as publick as our wrong:

for which caufe we were neceffitated to vifit his meeting, where, on a lecture-day, (after a continued filence during all his worship) we modeftly intreated we might be cleared from those unjuft reflections before his congregation, leaving a difputation (if he could not then attend it) to fome more feasonable opportunity but as one, who refolved injuftice to mens reputation, as well as cowardice, in baulking a defence of his own principles, he flunk most shamefully away; nor would any there, though urged to it, affume his place to vindicate his practice towards us,

or his doctrines then delivered.

Reader, what is thy opinion of this favage entertainment? Would Socrates, Cato, or Seneca, whom they called heathens, have treated us with fuch unfeemly carriage? I fuppofe not: and well is it for the truly fober and confcientious, they are not liable to those fevere lafhes, and that peevish ufage, which are the infeparable appendix to a Scotch directory, whofe cold and cutting gales ever have defigned to nip and blaft

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