AN Expostulation WITH THE BISHOPS, so called, in ENGLAND, Concerning their Jurisdiction over the People of God, called QUAKERS; with a few wholesom Words of Exhortation and Advice, tending to unite Them with Ʋs in one true spiritual Worship.


Consider that many Years are passed, wherein God's Hand hath eminently appeared in divers Overturns, since the former Bishops were taken away, or did cease to exercise that Office in their respective Dioceses; whether because they were discountenanced by Authority, or for want of their Revenues, or for want of Love & Faith in Christ (whom they said, call'd them to watch over, and feed his Lambs) we shall not now determine; though we are perswaded that the Office of a Bishop or Over-seer, that is made so by the Holy Ghost, is, to watch over the Flock of Christ & feed them, as well (if not more chiefly) in the most perilous times of Persecution, as in the Times of greatest Prosperity Act. 20.28. Witness also the Ecclesia­stical History of the Church for the first 300. Years. For the Over­seers that were ordained by the Holy Ghost in the Primitive times, did watch over their Flocks, when they had neither large Revenues, nor temporal Princes to uphold them, [...]ut were under most grievous Persecution: But when men in Authority began to dislike your [Page 2] Way, and the temporal Power and large Revenues which were annex [...]d to your Offices, were taken away, we know not one of the Bishops that did stand in the Power of God, willingly and of a ready Mind, to watch over his See; but We the poor Flock, were left to wander, or become a Prey to such as God did never send, or ordain to be his Ministers; who whilst they were countenanced by Authority, endeavoured with Force and Cruelty to rule over us, and did feed themselves with the Fat, and cloath themselves with the Fleece, but did not feed us the poor scattered Sheep; but with their Covetousness and Cruelty alienated our Minds from them, whilst in Sincerity we did seek the Lord God: And when he saw that we were desolate and forsaken, and none sought after us, then did he remember the Promise that he had made of old, declared by the Mouth of his holy Prophet Ezekiel, Read Ezek. 34. and did both seek and search us out from wandring upon the Barren Mountains, & from amongst the Briars and Thorns of the Wilderness, which did tear the Wool from off us; and the Lord himself did become unto us a Shepherd, and hath gathered us into his Fold, where our Souls find Rest, and he feedeth us in fresh Pastures: so that we have no cause at all to turn aside from following of him; for we are in Truth the Sheep of his Hands, not at all gathered by your Labours, nor by the Priests whom ye have ordained and sent forth; neither hath any one of your Curates ever healed our Wounds, nor strengthned us when we were weak and diseased: Therefore in Justice and Righteousness you can­not claim any Spiritual Jurisdiction over us, nor at all blame us for separating from you, seeing you were first separate from us; but if you have the Mind of Christ, you will rejoyce that we meet to­gether in his Name, and obey his Light in our Consciences, though we follow not you. Mark 9.38.

But if you object and say, you have Spiritual Jurisdiction over us, and may justly blame us for separating from you, because that many of us, when we were Infants, were baptized into your Church, and did enter into Covenant to continue in the same, &c.

We answer, That then we were not at all capable to know or understand the Doctrine of your Church, and much less of true Faith and Baptism, and therefore we could not then enter into any such Covenant as you speak of: But if you say, that we did it by our Sureties, who did promise and vow in our Names, We answer, [Page 3] That to no such l [...]king were we then capable of consenting; there­fore you must wholly look to the Sureties which your Fore Fathers took; and if they caused them to promise and vow that which they are in no wise able to perform, you may do well to take heed of doing the like to others: And now that we are come to Years of Discretion, till we can see your Church in the Life & Power of God, and your Doctrine in all things according to Godliness, we cannot for Conscience sake joyn with you.

Therefore (Friends) in all your Visitations, Mind the Apostle's Example, who went forth to visit those to whom they had preached the Gospel, that did believe, Act. 16.36. and were gathered from the Jews Sy­nagogues, and Heathens Temples; and do not stretch your selves beyond your line, nor ambitiously seek to be Lords over US, whom ye have not convinced to your Way, nor laboured at all among us; for what have you to do to judge them that are without your Church? Therefore take heed, 1 Cor. 5.12. lest the Shepherd and Bishop of our Souls (who doubtless hath Sheep which are not of your Folds) do judge you as bold Intruders, John 10.16. that would Lord over those of his He­ritage, which he never committed to your Charge. Therefore re­ceive this Advice from us, who in Humility do respect the Offi e of a Bishop, Job 31.21. and can give double Honour to those Overseers that rule well, though we can't give flattering Titles, nor respect the Person of any man; for in so doing, our Maker would soon take us away. Prov. 28.21.1.

First, Come ye to the Light wherewith Christ hath enlightned your Consciences, that while you seek to take the Motes out of your Brethrens Eyes, you may see that there be no Beams in your own, which may so blind you, that you cannot discern Tares from Wheat, Luk. 22.23, 26, 27. nor a Wolf from a Lamb: Therefore first begin the Work of Re­formation in your own Hearts and Housholds, till ye be wholly blameless, as the Stewards of God, &c. according to the Apostles Doctrine, 1 Tim. 3. & Tit. 2.7, 8, 9. And be not ye called Lords, because Christ said to his Disciples, 1 Pet. 5.1, 2, 3. The Princes of the Gentiles ex­ercise Lordship, and their great Ones exercise Authority; but it shall not be so among you: So in Obedience to Christ, if ye would be e­steemed his Bishops, be ye good Examples to the Flock, that you and your Ministers have convinced to your Way, and to all Peo­ple, that you may have a good report of them that are without, & be not lifted up with Pride, lest ye fall into Reproach, and the Snare of the Divel.

[Page 4] Secondly, That there may not be a Cry of Oppression in the Country, Reform your Officers, Priests and Curates, until they be every way Blameless, as the Ministers of Jesus Christ; and set them not up meerly because they have natural Parts and human Learning, but try (if you can) whether they be of God, or no; and whether they have received Power from on high by the Gift of his Spirit, and be made apt to teach or no, before you send them forth: see whether there be a Necessity laid upon them to preach the Gospel; if so, then they will do it freely, as well in Time of Per­secution, as in Time of Prosperity: And if you would have your Courts esteemed as Spiritual, then let not your Officers in them be carnal, earthly Men, but virtuous, impartial, Men fearing God and hating Covetousness: Read Mat. 23. And let none of your Priests be such as say, but do not; nor be call [...]d of Men Masters; nor have the chiefest Seats in the Assemblies; nor go in long Robes; nor lay heavy Burth [...]ns upon the Peopl [...];Isa. 56.10, 11.nor devour Widdows Houses; nor for a Pretence make long Prayers, nor use vain Repet [...]tions in their Prayers, as the Heathens, chief Priests & Pharisees did, which Christ cryed Wo against; nei­ther let your Priests preach for Hire,Micha 3.11, 12. Jude.nor your Curates divine for Mo­ney, which thing the Prophet Micha cried Wo against; neither let them be such as Isaiah called greedy dumb Dogs, which never can have enough, but all look to their own Way, every one for his Gain from his Quarter; neither let them be such as go in the Way of Cain, which will envy and persecute; nor such as go in the Way of Bala­am for Rewards; nor such as will [...]ell Words for Money, which have Hearts exercised with covetous Practices; 2 Pet. 2.14, 15. Act. 20.29 nor such grievous Wolves, as the Apostle said, w ll not spare the Flock (but even sue People for Wages, whom they do no Work for) neither let be at all Hirelings; for Christ said, such care not for the Sheep; but let them be su h as do every way accord with the Primitive Pattern; and let none of them be prophane Swearers, Joh. 10.12, 13. Mat. 12.34.nor Drunkards, nor Idola­ters, nor Ad [...]lterers, nor Fornicators, nor Gamesters, nor Scoffers, nor such as speak Lyes, and are given to Lightness and foolish Jest ng; for how can they that be evil speak good Things?

Thirdly, 3 Reform your People, that one may distinguish between y [...] Chur [...]h and the World: separate the pretious from the vile, and [...]ithdraw from every Brother that walks disorderly; and let not your Church be made numerous with Unbelievers, nor such estee­med [Page 5] Members, as do live in Covetousness, Pride, Envy or Malice; Jer. 15.19. Gal. 5.19, 20, 21. nor any that is an Extortioner, or an Oppressor of the Poor, Father­less & Widdows; nor any that live in Gluttony, Drunkenness, Rioting and Excess; nor any that be prophane Swearers, Lyars, Cheaters and Cozeners; nor any which abuse themselves with Mankind;Ephes. 5.3, 4, 5. 1 Cor. 6.9, 10. Chap. 12.13.nor any that be Murtherers or Man-slayers; nor any that be Adulterers or Adulteresses, because such have no Inheritance in the Kingdom of God, nor of Christ. And you that profess to be Bishops or Over­seers of the Church, which is his Body; let not any be admitted Members, but such as are baptized into it by the Spirit; for if any Man have not the Spirit of Christ he is none of his; Rom. 8, 9. and such will scoff like Ishmael, at the Movings of the Spirit in those that are his.

Fourthly, Reform yo [...]r Worship if you can,4 till it differ neither in matter, nor manner; in whole, nor in Part, from the Apostles and primitive Christians Worship, Mat. 15.7, 8, 9. Joh. 4.23. Col. 2.20, 21, 22. and let it not be mad [...] vain with the Doctrines, Commandments, Traditions and invented Ceremonies of Men, which will all perish with the using; but worship God (who dwelleth not in Temples made with Hands) wholly in Spirit and in Truth; if you have received the one, and know the other, you will see that no other Worship, besides the Worship in Spirit, is either decent, orderly, or accepted with God. Act. 7.48.

And when you have so reformed your selves, your Officers, Priests and Curates, your People and your Worship, till you be both in Word, in Spirit, in Worship and Conversation, one with the Primitive Christians, that Men may joyn with you, and not touch an unclean thing; then see if we cannot have Unity and Fellow­ship with you: But in the mean time let us qui tly feed in our green Pastures, and follow Christ, the Shepherd and Bishop of our Souls, who leads us to living Fountains of Water; and take heed of cur­sing us whom the Lord hath blessed, lest it fall upon your own Heads; for until you have sound Doctrine, and the Example of a good Conversation, with Christian Love and Charity, to draw us to a Conformity, ye may despair to drive us by Force and Cruelty; for the more of that ye do exercise upon us, the more shall we be confirmed; and it will also manifest your Church, not to be the Lamb's Wife but rather a Daughter of that Mother of Harlots, R [...]v. 17.5, 6. that hath drunk the Blood of the Saints and Martyrs of Jesus.

Therefore consider of these things, and think not to settle your [Page 6] selves with Threatnings, Excommunications, Prisons, and the like; for by such Things ye cannot convince Gainsayers, that your Way is right; nor at all shake them that be in the Truth, though ye may fright Hypocrites, and make them come bending under you for a Season, till they can get over you: Therefore it will be your Wis­dom to shew your Zeal in casting out the Filth from amongst your selves, and such as profess y [...]r Way, and by a virtuous Life and wholsom Doctrine, seek to win such as differ from you; For things are not now as they were thirty Years ago in this Nation; for Light is broken forth as the Morning, and your Steps will he marked; Therefore wait that God may direct you the right Way, To do unto all Men, as ye would they should do unto you.

Having spoken the Truth in Love, We rest your Friends, desiring that in Love ye may receive and read these Lines; and do not slight that which concerns your Peace in them, because they are sent from us that be in Scorn called QƲAKERS.

A Postscript
Concerning the Proceedings of those called Bishops, against us.

NOt withstanding the Reasons before given against your Jurisdi­ction over us, which might come to the Hands of some of you near twelve Years ago, and remain unanswered unto this Day; ye have both against Reason and Truth proceed d against us in you Courts, and censured us, over whom ye have no Power, a [...]d excommunicated us, who never were of your Church, and persecuted some of the Lord's People unto Imprisonment, and k [...]pt them in Prison by your Writs of Excommunication till Death, because for Conscience sake they could not conform to your Way; so that to all the former Evils, of which ye were faithfully warned, and advised to reform, y [...] have add [...]d this also of Imprisoning the Lord's Servants, or causing them to be impri­soned till Death, that in your Skirts also may be found the Blood of the Saints and Servants of Christ Jesus: Therefore repent, and cease to smite and persecute those wh [...]ch are the faithful Servants of Christ, whom you profess to be your Lord; and do not, like the evil and sloth­ful Servant, say in your Hearts, He delayes his Coming, lest in an Hour when ye are not aware, he give you your Portion with Ʋnbelie­vers and Hypocrites in utter Darkness, where shall be weeping, wai­ling and gnashing of Teeth.

J. W.

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