A Solemn PROTESTATION against George Keith's Advertisment, Arbitrary Summons and Proceedings against Certain Persons, and a Meet­ing of the People called Quakers.

WHEREAS the said G. K. a Scotchman, has assumed to him­self a Power and Authority to Erect several Meetings of the Nature of some strange and new Court of Judicature at Turners-Hall, London, one on the Eleventh of the Month called June, 1696. and another on the 29th of this present Month called April, 1697. (under pretence of having the Permission of the Civil Authority, that he is further to Detect the Vile and Gross Errors and Heresies of certain Persons by Name, and a Meeting of the People called Quakers) unto which he hath Cited or Summoned them, to hear themselves Re-charged, and Prov'd Guilty thereof, as being Repugnant to the Great Fundamentals of the Christian Religion (which Charges of his, as perversly Stated by him, are Expresly Denyed by us) for Proof thereof, Referring to his own Printed Advertisement and Narrative, which have been largely Answered in Print, he having begun the Controversy with us, by Print­ing divers bitter Invectives against us, expresly Contrary to his own for­mer Testimonies in Print; and divers of our Friends Books, in Answer to him, still lye heavy upon him, unreply'd to. And seeing he cannot Effect his Invidious Designs in Print, to make his Odious Character of Heresie, Spreading Gangreen, and Contagion, &c. take Effect against us, he has Presum'd to Erect such an Arbitrary Course of Judicature, in a Con­fused Meeting at Turners-Hall, and thereunto, in his own Name and Au­thority, to Summon the Persons and Meeting, as aforesaid, without their Privity, Concurrence, Consent or Agreement thereunto; either as to the Time, Place, Terms or Propositions, but he is the Sole Imposer.

We therefore, who are Concern'd in behalf of the Peaceable People called Quakers, both as Free-Born English-Men and Christians, do deny, and Solemnly Testifie against the Usurpation, Arbitrary and Irregular Proceedings of the said G. K. and against his new Jurisdiction (assum'd by him) for the same Reasons, which were Exhibited in Print the last Year, Why the People called Quakers Refused their Appearance at his Pe­remptory Summons (and therefore he had no Reason to Expect their Ap­pearance this Year, the more Insincere he, in his new Summons) and more particularly,

1. Because he has no Legal Power to Erect any such new Court of Ju­dicature, and therein set himself up as Judge, and Publickly to Stage, Brand, and Condemn Peaceable Protestant Subjects, and that in their Absence too (who are also Free-Born English-Men) as Hereticks, &c. and thereby to Endeavour to Expose them to the Scorn, Contempt and Rage of a mixt Multitude, who are unmeet to Judge of Religious and Spiritual Matters, or Controversies.

2. We do not believe the Civil Authority, or any Concerned there­in, on Due Consideration, or Just Information, will Countenance or Per­mit such an Usurp'd Authority, or Pernicious President, as the said G. K. has Assum'd and Attempted in this Case; tending, not only to Dis­cord, Divisions, Heats, Animosities and Tumults, but to Invade the just Liberties of Free-Born English-Men (who are Peaceable Protestant Sub­jects,) and to Gratify and Strengthen the Popish Interest, that they may Glory in such Divisions and Disorders, made by Turbulent Incendiaries.

We are not Unfensible, that some Officious and Envious Agents are in the bottom of this Turbulent Attempt; who, altho' they may pretend to be Reformed Protestants, yet savour too much of a Popish Persecuting Spi­rit, (Justly Complain'd of by Protestants) and whose Work tends to bring an Odium upon the Protestant Religion.

3. We presume the said G. K. can Produce no Legal Commission from the Civil Authority, either by Act of Parliament, or under the Great Seal of England, Annually to Erect and hold his said Court of Ju­dicature, to Summon, Convict and Condemn Quakers (so called) or any other Free-Born English-Men, or Protestant Subjects for Heresie or Here­ticks, who are Contrary wise Legally Recognized.

4. His feigned and false Pretence of Justly Desiring the Persons and Meeting aforesaid to be present (i. e. to hear themselves Recharged, Con­victed and Condemn'd of Vile and Gross Heresies, &c.) appears, not only a peremptory Summons, but his Noise of Vile and Gross Errors, and Heresies, spreading Gangreen and Contagion, Infecting many Thousands in these Three Na­tions, &c. does much Resemble the Popish Clamours and Calumnies against Protestant Martyrs, and then away with them, cut them off; and Fire and Faggot followed, when the Writ de Haeretico Gomburendo, and the Six Bloody Articles were in Force, 31. H. 8. Ch. 14. both which are justly and happily Repeal'd.

5. For the same Reasons, which the Parliament gave in the 16th Year of K. Charles the First, against the Court of Star-Chamber, and High-Commission-Court (Ch. 9, 10.) and for taking away, and dissolving the same (tho' these had more Face of Authority, than this of G. Keith's) we Oppose, Deny and Protest against these his Irregular and Arbitrary [Page 3]Proceedings and his new Court of Judicature, and Usurped Pow­er and Authority therein, as (not only tending to Discord, Disorder, and Persecution, and Endangering the Publick Peace, but also) Re­pugnant to the Great Charter, Fundamental Laws (and Liberties of Eng­land) Providing that no Free-Man shall be Condemned, or any way Destroy­ed without due Order of Law; as well as expresly Contrary to the Intent and Tenor of the late Act of Parliament, made in the 1st Year of the Reign of K. William and Q. Mary, Entituled, An Act for Exempting their Majesties Protestant Subjects Dissenting from the Church of England, &c. made for the Ease of Scrupulous Consciences in the Exercise of Religion, as an Effectual Means to Ʋnite their Majesties Protestant Subjects in Interest and Affection. And the Meeting Places thereby Permitted or Allow'd and Recorded, being for RELIGIOƲS WORSHIP, as in the said Act is Ex­pressed, Consequently, not for Division, Discord or Stages of Conten­tention; and therefore we are not free, either as Men or Christians, to Subject our selves to any such Irregular Summons, or Arbitrary Power and Usurpation, as aforesaid.

6. Heresie having been made an High Crime in Law [Mirror. Justices, p. 16.] and highly Punishable, G. K.'s Publickly Staging and Branding us as Hereticks, appears both an High Defamation, and tending to Destroy us in our Reputations and Liberties also, both Contrary to Law and Gos­ple, and to Introduce a new and severe Persecution to Gratify his Envy. For his Turbulent, Persecuting Spirit and Apostacy, from Christian Cha­rity, Meekness and Moderation, and from that Faith that Works by Love, sufficiently appear; also by his Earnest Expostulation with the most Pious and Learned of the Church of England (as Flatteringly he Terms them) to Incense both the Clergy and Civil Authority against us, in his Printed Postscript to his Antichrists and Sadducees, and therein Commend­ing the Popish Watch-Men of Rome, and Popish Countries, above most among the Protestants, for their Zeal against such Antichristian Errors and Heresies, as he there would make the World believe, Quakers hold much worse than the worst of Popery (p. 40, 41.) and his Summoning and Condemn­ing us as Hereticks, appears so much Resembling the Practice of some of his Country-Men of the Presbytery, to Incense the Rabble or Mob against our Friends in Scotland, as they have of late shamefully done, both in Glas­gow and Edenbrough, to the Great and Barbarous Abuse of our poor harm­less Friends in those parts, by their bitter Clamours and Aspersions against them, as Hereticks, &c. That we humbly hope, the Civil Protestant Go­vernment of England will never Countenance or Permit such unwarranta­ble Usurpation, which is not to use only Spiritual Weapons (as he pre­tends) but is of a contrary Nature and Tendence. We having treated [Page 4]the said G. K. at many Select and Solemn Meetings, we have had with him, in all Christian Patience and Tenderness on our parts; which were Slighted and Rejected by him. Thus we have Answer'd his Ad­vertisement and Summons, ad hominem, as Peaceable, Free-Born English-Men, whose present Liberty ought not to be Invaded or Disquieted, ei­ther by any Arbitrary Usurpation, or Contentious Irreligious Meetings, whose End is to Asperse and Abuse others: Nor may such, with safety, be Imitated, Allowed or Abetted by any of different Perswasions.

Now, let it be observed, whatever may happen to be the Effects or Consequence of the said G. K.'s Disorderly and Unwarrantable Proceed­ings, or Meeting aforesaid, we have given out this Solemn Protestation against the same, to Manifest our own Innocency and Clearness there­from.

Written, in Behalf of the People called Quakers, by some of them Con­cerned.


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