A short Manifestation of the Main End of Outward Government.

OH England, how great is the Love which the Mighty GOD of Heaven and Earth doth manifest towards thee! how doth he withhold his Judgements from thee for his own Names sake! Surely he would not that thou shouldst utterly perish, but graciously waits that thou mightest come to Repentance, and turn from the evil of the doings, that he might shew thee Mercy; for the Love which he hath towards thee is in sparing thee, and not in delighting in thee, be­cause thy wayes are grievous to him, and thy Abomination provokes him daily, and he hath raised up his Seed within thee to bear witness unto the Truth, and all that are born of it they travel for thy good and welfare, that thou mightst be a Land of Righ­teousness, Justice and Equity, and bear the name of Christianity in the nature of it a­bove all Nations in the World; this is the kindness of the Lord towards thee, who for these several years hath warned thee to forsake thy sins, and to put away the evil of thy doings, but thou kickest against his Counsel, and growest worse and worse: and though he hath beheld the deep Sufferings and Afflictions that his People have endured under thy Cruelty, and how thou hast made thy own Natives the Object of thy Seve­rity, yet he hath not speedily executed his Judgments to the full upon thee, but unto this day had rather that thou wouldst turn from thy wickedness and live; O there­fore be not still rebellious against so gracious a God, but hear and obey his Counsel, that thou mayest love mercy, do justly, and walk humbly with God; for whilst thou art at enmity against his Light, thou exercisest thy self in cruelty, and walkest proudly, scornfully and disdainfully, and with that spirit art striving to banish Truth out of thy Dominions, and to rid the Land of Innocent People, whose holy Conversation in all things is blameless towards thee; for we that are called Quakers have a Witness in the Consciences of many that bears a sure Testimony to our peaceable life; and did not the Execution of the late Act manifest the Intention to be against ƲS, we could not have believed it from the express words of it, neither are our Meetings any more con­cerned in it, according to the form of it, than the children that are yet unborn; but seeing that the Execution is laid upon us, by which it appears that it is Intentionally against Us, we have clearness in the power of God to manifest our own Innocency, that the Cruelty of such as put it in execution against us may lie upon their own heads; and for this end it is that we are moved thus to write, that all people may see and under­stand that our Meetings are free from any guilt according to the form of the said Act, and that we ought not in Reason, Truth or Righteousness to be suppressed or banish­ed, or any way disturbed in relation to our Meetings, being that no manner of evil can be proved to have risen from them at any time, but contrariwise very much good, as many are witnesses; and whosoever set themselves to act against us in this mat­ter, they out-run the form of their own Law, and transgress the Righteous Law of God, and unto God they must give account for such their doings: therefore let none reject Counsel which tendeth to their eternal good, for they that would be regula­ting others before they be regulated in themselves, and clearly understand by the In­spiration of the Almighty, what they ought to suppress, and what to encourage, they may in their undertakings suppress the Truth and encourage Error, and so run them­selves into irregular actions and proceedings, and yet count them legal; therefore to consider the ground which first caused the necessity of outward Laws is of great concernment, for if all people were guided by the principle of God in themselves, then they would not need any outward Law to govern them, but the Principle of God being transgressed, then the Enmity got up and governed, and because of trans­gression the Law was added; and Cain who was of the wicked one he transgressed the Principle of God, and slew his brother about Religion, and the just Law of God took hold upon him as a transgressor, and his punishment was greater than he could bear; and think you to escape whose hands are doing the same work? do not deceive your selves with your Law, for the righteous God is just in all his ways, and your Law will not be a defence unto you, when the Law of the Spirit of Life takes hold upon you in Judgment. Now Religion is not a thing that falls within the compass or power of Nations Laws, but wholly belongs unto God, to order as he seeth good, and man is only to extend his power unto such things as he is in a capacity to understand, and that which appears to be transgression in Civil things he is to lay the Law upon it for the terror of evil-doers; for whatsoever is ordained of God there is an end for which it is ordained, and the End is only to be answered; and so Outward Government hath its End, and if it keep in its place, and answer its end, it is good, and ought to be submitted unto for Conscience-sake; if it relieve the Oppressed and judg the cause of the Widdow; if it preserve the Nation in peace, and the People in their well-being; if it do right to those that are wronged, and keep down vanity and profaness, which is in the transgression, then it answers its End, and is to be submitted unto: And as this is the main End of Outward Government, so it is to be faithfully answer­ed by all that are entrusted with it, and they are not to intrude into any thing be­yond it, for where any do so, either in making Laws or executing them, they do that for which they were never ordained of God; and so unrighteous Decrees come to be made and executed, and that against an Innocent People, that answers the End of the Law without the force of the Law, and against whom there is no Law; for the Law was not made for the Righteous, but for Sinners, (mark) for Sinners: but to worship God in his Spirit is not sin; to live peaceably, righteously and soberly is not sin; to speak the Truth and not to swear is not sin; the Law was not made for such as so live, but for sinners; (mark again) for Thieves, Murderers, Drunkards, Adulterers, Swearers, Lyars, Sporters, Players, Rioters and wrong-doers, proud, heady, high-minded, vain, and prophane people, here are the sinners for whom the Law was made; and have you any thing of this na [...]ure against us? or, doth not the Witness of God in your own Consciences clear us? Now where doth your Sword fall, do you not miss the Sinners, and smite the Righteous? Is not your Sword in your left hand, that makes you strike so far wide of that which you should hit? must our peaceable Meetings be suppressed, and we afflicted and punished, and such as meet to exercise vanity and prophaness escape and go free? if you govern not over such things, what do you govern over? Truth governs it self, and all that live in it are well governed by it; therefore go­vern over the Evil, and let not it govern over you, for thereby you are drawn to de­light in it, and so cannot smite it, but smite the Righteous, that are well-governed in the Power and Wisdom of God. O it is a sad thing that such as represent the Nation should act against the Body of their Representation, and such as are in power in the Country should put such Acts in execution, and thereby endeavour to banish out of the Nation their own Neighbours, and so leave Wives Widows, and Chil­dren Fatherless, and Families destitute of outward succour! Surely God never or­dained you to do such things, neither doth God or good men approve you in it, and you are happy that have or do avoid the evil of it: O return to your places all you that are out of them, that you may be found doing such things as are well-pleasing un­to God; and let your care be to answer the End of your places in things that you understand, that the Nation may be kept in peace by your means, and do not run things into distraction and confusion under pretence of Reformation and Regulation. Now look over your proceedings according to your own Law, Can you proceed to Judgment in any offence criminal, or in any case of difference, without some Evi­dence to make proof unto you of the matter in question? and is not every Witness engaged to speak the Truth, the whole Truth, and nothing but the Truth? and are not all Juries engaged to try all Causes according to their Evidence? Now consi­der whether this can be done in a Case of Conscience, being that no Evidence can speak from a true knowledge or understanding of the matter; and though the Act be brought forth in such terms as something may be taken notice of as an offence, that is to say, Sedit [...]ous Conventicles; but no Evidence can prove a Peaceable Meeting to be a Seditious Conventicle, if they speak the Truth, the whole Truth, and nothing but the Truth; and so a Peaceable Meeting to worship God in tenderness of Con­science is not an offence which the Act takes notice of, neither is it transgression a­gainst it, for no Evidence can prove such a Meeting to be a Seditious Conventicle; and the matter not being proved, no Jury is in a capacity to find it, nor Judge to con­demn it. O therefore consider, and be serious in your places, who are concerned in Authority this day; for the main End of Outward Government is to suppress evil, and to be a terror to evil-doers, and a praise to them that do well: Now if you say, We look upon you not to do well, in that you will not be conformable with us unto the Worship which we observe, but meet together contrary to our discipline, and in that sense we do suppress you as evil-doers: Well, this is your perswasion; but God hath otherwise perswaded us: and if it should be an evil in us in this case, yet it is not for you to condemn, but to leave it unto God who is a righteous Judge of the Conscience: but we are fully perswaded in the Lord, that our not-conforming with you, and also our Meet­ings in that way wherein we worship God, is according to his mind; for he hath opened our understandings by his Light, in which we see that your Worship is not grounded upon a true foundation; and he hath called us to Separation: and though separated from your way, yet we truly worship God in his living Spirit, which is his own way; and he hath called us so to do; and in obeying the Lord we do well, and not evil: and therefore it is not what you may be perswaded concerning us in this case, that makes us Evil-doers in the sight of God, neither are you to force us into your perswasion, or from our own, but to suppress every manifest Evil, as before is mentioned, and not to make a thing evil from a supposition according to your own perswasions, and then to make a Law against it to suppress it, this is besides your pla­ces, and doth not belong unto you: therefore if you will do that which properly be­longs to your places, cut down the sin that abounds this day before your own eyes, and then you will answer the End of the Law in Truth; for we desire that all in Power may be kept out of this great Evil of Persecution for Conscience-sake, or being in it, may be plucked forth through Information to their understandings, which is the main End why we write after this manner; for if it was not in pitty unto such as are herein concerned, we could be silent, and in patience lie down, knowing the deter­mination of God concerning our Cause: And as for such whose Resolutions are to carry it on to the height against us, unto such I say, Let not Enmity oversway Ju­stice and Equity, and we are ready to make our Defence; but if in Enmity you will prosecute contrary to Justice and Equity, then I say unto you in the Word of the Lord God, That when you have filled up your measures, the dregs of your own Cup you must drink, yea, and drink them off, and none shall pitty you; for the Lord God is on our side, and his fresh-Springs are our Consolation, and from his Presence you cannot banish us: though you may be permitted to force some out of their Native Land, yet when you have done, they will be at home with the Lord, and in the Land of the Living possess unspeakable Joy; therefore let all your thoughts cease concern­ing us, for we are of good courage in our Innocent Cause, and knowing that in this matter we have not wronged any man, we can boldly appeal to the Witness of God in all men for Justice and Equity; and with him alone we leave our Cause, who is our Helper and Deliverer, in whom we trust, the Lord God of Heaven and Earth, the Righteous Judge of all the Earth, whose living Spirit is our weapon, and his Salvation our walls and bulwarks.

W. S.
The beginning of the 7th month, 1664.

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