A LETTER FROM A CLERGY-MAN IN THE COUNTRY, TO A CLERGY-MAN In The CITY, CONTAINING Free Thoughts about the Controversie, BETWEEN Some Ministers of the Church of England, AND THE QVAKERS: With Seasonable Advise to his Brethren, To Study Peace and Moderation.


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A LETTER from a Clergy-man in the Country, To a Clergy-man in the City, &c.

Reverend Brother,

THE long Knowledge I have had of your Wisdom, Temper and Moderation (for which I can truly say, without the least Umbrage of Flattery, you deserve to be highly valued) hath given me Encouragement to Communicate to you, my free and impartial Thoughts, concerning the Controversie, between some of our Brethren on the one hand, and the Quakers on the other. Tho' I am a great Admirer of Solitude and Retirement, being seldom seen in the Crowds of the Talkative and Unthinking Multitude, but sequestring my self, as much as I can possibly, from publick Noise, that I might have the more Opportunity to Introvert my Mind, and Wait upon, and adore my Creator; for when my Mind is Silent and Retired, and my own Imaginations and Reasonings are shut out; then I can hear his Still and Small Voice, and have an in­ward sensible Perception of his Divine Presence with my Soul: Yet I am not such an absolute Recluse, as to Cloyster my self wholly up from the Things of this World; for I admit of Visits from particular Friends, read Books at seasonable Intervals, and hold Epistolary Correspondence with Your self, and a few more Select Persons, who know the worth of Privacy, by the Benefit they Enjoy in it. So that tho' I am no Actor in the publick Theatre of the Times, yet I never have been, nor am an ignorant and unconcerned Spectator of those Transactions, that have happened in our Day.

And of all Occurences; the Dissentions about Religion, and those often attended with violent He [...]ts and Reflections, by Men of se­rious and intemperate Spirits, have most affected me. All profess themselves to be Christians, to be Disciples and Followers of Christ, and yet, how few [...]mitate him whom they pretend to be their Master? And 'tis a sad, but a true Observation, that they who have the worst Cause, and weakest Arguments, are very apt to give Hard Names, and to Revile and Slander their Opponents; that since they cannot Co [...] them by Dint of fair Ratiocination, they might, if possible, Pollute them with the Dirt of filthy Reflection. [Page 4] You know whose Practice this has been in their former Quarrels, with other Dissenters; and now, in a more particular manner, with the Quakers, especially since Mr. Bugg and Mr. Keith came amongst us; Persons who were not so much Deserters, as Cashired Men, for their Immoralities; for they did not Come, but were Thrust out from amongst the Quakers; at which taking deep Resentment, and cherishing that bad Humour in themselves, which caused their Expulsion, their whole Mass seems to be so corrupted, that their En­mity is become Implacable against that People.

And as it is natural for Malignant Humours to spread, especially over those Parts which were before Infected; so these Men, coming full amongst us, of Envy, Hatred and Malice, have infused their Wenom, into some of our Brethren, who had formerly been Tainted, and those, having received the Infection themselves, how Industri­ously do they endeavour to spread it among others.

I am heartily sorry to see it; but what Pains do they take? Yea what Artifices do they use, to possess not only private Persons with Prejudice, but also to stir up Persecution in the Government against the Quakers, as tho' they were not fit to live amongst us? The Pul­p [...]ts Ring with Invectives, and the Presses Groan with Abusive Books and Pamphlets against them. The common Charge is, That they are Guilty of Blasphemy against God, Christ, and the Holy Scriptures; thus our Norfolk-Brethren: Yea, of Blasphemy and Heresie; so Mr. Keith. But the Quakers have Answered those Charges again and again, and Cleared themselves in the Face of God and the World, as appears by their Printed Books and Papers. To be plain; Let any indifferent Man compare their Books with ours, and he will soon see, to whom the Blasphemy and Heresie belong.

You may remember, Sir, what you gave me in your last, as your Opi­nion about the Cause of our Brethrens Out cry against the Quakers, rather than other Dissenters, viz. Their Opposition to Tithes, which the other generally pay? and your sense was, That if the Quakers would comply in that One Thing, the N [...]i [...]e of Blasphemy and Here­sie would be no more heard against them: And I am inclined to be­lieve it, because you know, that Tithes are the very Pil [...]ars of out Church; take away them, and the Sumptuous Fabrick quickly fals into a Heap of Rubbish: We cannot Su [...]i [...]t without them, we can not Furn [...]h our Libraries, not Maintain our Families, without them. 'Tis granted, they are not due to Us by Vertue of the Divine Law, as they were to the Levites; but they are settled upon us by the Law of the Land; and so we Claim them, and so we Receive them, and upon no other Foot of Account.

[Page 5]The Quakers have said so much against our old Plea, of Divine Right, and made it out so fully, and plainly by Scripture, that none but some Zealous Novices, or Super annuated bigots, will now of­fer to use it; and therefore the Wise among us have quitted that Pre­tence, and do insist only upon a Right issuing from meer Humane Con­stitution.

I have diligently looked into the Controversie, that is between our Brethren and the Quakers, not with a Partial or Captious, but with a Single and Indifferent Eye; and I do not find, that the Quakers are either Guilty of those Real Errors that are laid to their Charge; or, that those which our Brethren suppose to be Errors, in them, are Er­rors at all; but are rather Glorious Gospel Truths. I will give some Instances in both.

First, The Quakers are charged, with Denying the Man Christ Je­sus; which were a great Error indeed, were they Guilty of it: but they sufficiently Acquit themselves of this, by confessing expresly to his Manhood; That he was Conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, Suffered under Pontius Pilate, was Crucified, Dead and Baried, Rose again the third Day, and Ascended into Heaven: So that this Charge is very untruly brought against them. G. Fox's Journal, p. 358.

2dly, They are charged, with Denying the Resurrection of the Body: But this also is another false Imputation; for they believe the Resur­rection according to Scripture, the one, from Sin; the other, from Death and the Grave, W. Penn's Key, &c. Perversion 15. Yea, That the Dead shall be Raised with the SAME BODIES, as far as a Natur­al, and Incorruptible, Terrestrial, and Celestial, can be the SAME, Truths Principles by J. Crook, printed Anno 1663.

3dly, They are charged, with Denying the Trinity: But the con­trary is manifest by their Writings; for they believe in the Holy Three, or Trinity of Father, Word and Spirit, 1 John 5.7. And that these Three are truly and properly One, of One Nature, as well as Will. W. Penn's Key, &c. Perversion 9. In the Unity of the God head, saith G. Wh [...]tehead, there is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; and that those Three are One, of One, Substance, Power and Eternity. Truth and Innocency Vindicated, &c. p. 52. See also Anguis Flagelea­tus, by Joseph Wyeth. p. 184.

4thly, Another Charge against them is, that, They Deny the Scriptu­res; than which, nothing can be Falser: For they have always Testi­fied, as J. Wyeth declares, to the 2 Tim. 3.16 That all Scripture is given by Inspiration of God, and is profitable for Doctrine, for Re­proof, for Correction, for Instruction in Righteousness, Ibid. p. 150. [Page 6] See also, The Defence of the People called Quakers, &c. p. 15. The like may be said of several other Things, which are real Errors, where ever they are met with, as well as those before mentioned; but they are untruly charged upon the Quakers [...] it evidently appears by their Writings.

Again, there are some other Things, which our Brethren suppo­sing to be Errors in the Quakers, have charged upon them, as such, which yet are found to be Glorious Gospel Truths.

First, Our Brethren suppose that the Quakers are in an Error about the LIGHT WITHIN; and thereupon have bestowed upon it many Opprobrious, not to say, Blasphemous Names; as, Ignis hotuus, A Diabolical Light, &c. So some: And others, A Spark from the De­vil's Forge; So our Norfolk Brethren (to wit) Doctor Beckham, Mr. Meriton, and Mr. Topcliffe, in their Principles of the Quakers, &c. p. 6. A Whimsical Witness fetch'd from Terra Incognita, p. 57. A Counterfeit Phantasm, p. 74. The Phantasm of a Christ within, p. 86. ibid. Another calls it, A Monstrous Notion; and Affirms it to be the Ground and Foundation of all their other Errors and Blasphemies: So the Author of The Snake in the Grass, 3d Edition, p. 8. But I have faithfully Examin'd the Quakers Notion about the LIGHT WITHIN, and compar'd it with the Scriptures, and do find, that they speak of it as the Scriptures do (v [...]z.) That Christ is the LIGHT of the World; and that he doth Enlighten every Man that cometh into it, with DI­VINE SAVING LIGHT. I am sorry our Brethren should be so Dark, as to oppose it.

2dly, Our Brethren Charge Immediate Revelation upon them, as an­other great Error; which is not an Error, but a Glorious Gospel Truth: for, if Immediate Revelation were Ceased, as our Brethren say, there could be no such Thing, as the Christian Religion in the World; for there is no Saving Knowledge of the Father and the Son Attainable without it. I have the Testimony of Christ himself, for what I say, and therefore am bold to Assert it. No Man knoweth the Son, but the Father; Neither knoweth any Man the Father save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will Reveal him, Mat. 11.27. Take away Imme­diate Revelation, and farewell to the Christian Religion; a Name and Notion of Christianity may be kept up, but the Life and Power cannot subsist without it. ‘The Quakers do not plead for any New Gospel, Faith, or Doctrine, different from that which Christ and his Holy A­postles and Prophets Taught, and is recorded in the Scriptures of Truth: but for the Revelation of that, which they Taught, & is there in Recorded. Defence of the People called Quakers, p. 6.

3dly, Our Brethren Charge it as an [...] upon the Quakers, for [Page 7] Asserting the Sufficiency of the LIGHT WITHIN to Salvation, without the Scriptures: But this is no Error in the Quakers Sence; for I per­ceive by their Writings, that they do not oppose the LIGHT WITH­IN to the Scriptures, nor do they exclude the Scriptures, where they are afforded unto Men: but by the LIGHT WITHIN, they under­standing Christ, who said, I am the LIGHT of the World, John 9.5. And is God Blessed for ever. Rom. 9.5. and therefore able to Save to the uttermost, do Testifie to the Sufficiency thereof, to Save all those who believe in and obey it; tho' the Scriptures are with-held from them by the Providence of God. For, as those that have the Literal Knowledge of the Work of the Scriptures, are not Saved meerly by that, without the Experimental Knowledge of the Work of the Spirit in, and upon their Hearts; so those that have the Experimental Knowledge, may be Saved without the Literal: And as many are In­jured by the Fall of the First Adam, who know nothing of him, or his Eating of the forbidden Fruit; so, many are made Partakers of the great Salvation, that comes by Jesus Christ, the Second Adam, tho' Ignorant of the History of his Sufferings and Death. Therefore, un­less our Brethren will deny the All-sufficiency of Christ, or exclude all those the Pale of divine Mercy, who know not the Scriptures (which is both contrary to Scripture, and to the repeated Testimony of God's Goodness Recorded therein) I cannot see what Pretence they can make for Oppugning this Assertion of the Quakers.

4thly, Another Truth held by this People, and mis-called Error by our Brethren is, Sinless Perfection on this Side the Grave: But if such a State is not attainable in this Life, to what end are there so many Precepts about it, so many Exhortations to it, so many Prayers for it, and so many Examples of it recorded in the Scripture? Why do we pray in the Te Deum, Vouchsafe, O Lord, to keep us this day without Sin? In the 3d Collect, at Morning Prayer; Grant that this day we fall into No Sin, neither run into Any kind of Danger; but that All our doings may be ordered by thy Governance, to do Always that which is Righteous in thy Sight. In the Litany; From All Evil and Mischief, from Sin, from the Crafts and Assaults of the Devil, from thy Wrath, and from Everlasting Damnation: Good Lord deliver us!

From Fornication, and All other deadly Sin, and from All the Deceits of the World, the Flesh, and the Devil, Good Lord deliver us! In the Collect for Innocents Day; Mortifie and Kill All Vices in us. For the Circumcision of Christ; Grant us the true Circumcision of the Spirit, that our Hearts, and All our Members, being mortified from All Worldly and Carnal Lusts; we may in All Things Obey thy blessed Will. For the 6th Sunday after Epiphany; Grant us, we beseech thee, that [Page 8] having this Hope, we may Purifie our selves even as he is Pure. For the first Sunday in Lent; Give us Grace to use such Abstinence, that our Flesh being subdued to the Spirit, we may Ever Obey thy Godly Motions in Righteousness and true Holiness. For the first Sunday after Easter; Grant us so to put away the Leaven of Malice and Wickedness, that we may Always Serve thee in Pureness of Living and Truth. For the 7th Sunday after Trinity; Nourish us with All Goodness, and of thy great Mercy keep us in the same. For the 15th Sunday after Trinity; Keep us Ever by thy Help, from All Things Hurtf [...]ll, and lead us to All Things Profitable to our Salvation. For the 17th Sunday after Trini­ty; Make us Continually to be given to All good Works. For the 18th, ibid; Lord, we beseech thee, grant thy People Grace to withstand the Temptations of the World, the Flesh and the Devil; and with pure Hearts and Minds to follow thee the Only God: Here we make the Spirit our Rule and Guide, and yet Quarrel with the Quakers for doing the same So the 19th, Grant that thy Holy Spirit may in All Things Direct and R [...]l [...] our Hearts: So the 21th, Grant, we beseech thee, mercifull Lord, to thy faithfull People, Pardon and Peace, that they may be cleansed from All their Sins. See more of the like kind, in the order for the Administration of the Lord's Supper, and the Ministration of Publick Baptism of Infants. Why, [...], do we Pray thus And why do we Teach our Children in the Church [...]at [...]hism, to Pray to be kept from All Sin and Wickedness, if it be impossible to be obtained?

You know, Sir, That SINLESS PERFECTION in this L [...]fe, is the Doctrine both of the Law and the Gospel, the Doctrine of Moses, and the Prophets, of Christ and his Apostles: Or Justin Martyr, in quaest & respon [...] ad Orthodox. Of Origen, Hem. 11. super Gen. Of Cy­prian, Serm. de Baptism. Christi. Of Chrysost. Hom. 3. in 2 Cor. 11. Of Hieron. l. 3. ad [...]. Pelag. Of Augustin de vera & falsa Paenitentia. Of Greg. Mag. l. 2. Mor. c. 8. Of Prosper, and many others: Yea, you know, that the most Learned Bishops of our Church, as Bp. An­drews, Bp. Overal, Bp White, and Bp. Taylor, were of this Opini­on; That King James I. saith, upon the Lord's Prayer, That' tis Blas­phemy to say, that any of Christ's Precepts are Impossible; for that were to give him the Lye, who told us out of his own Mouth, That his Yoke is Easie, and his Burden is Light; and Christ's intimate Disciple saith, 1 John 5.3. that his Commandments are not Grievous. See also what Dr. Thomas Drayton hath written upon this Subject, in his Proviso [...] or Condition of the Promises, & Mr. William Parker. in his Re vindi [...]at [...]on of the said Doctor, wherein he clearly proves these two Assertions, to be the Orthodox Protestant Doctrine.

First, That there is a Possibility, through the Grace and Help of Christ, of a Total Mortification of Sin in this Life.

[Page 9]2dly, Then there is a Possibility of perfect Obedience, through the Grace and help of Christ, to the Law of God in this Life.

Yea, Mr. Keith himself, tho' denying SINLESS PERFECTION, as held by the Quakers, yet Asserts it in his own Terms, as fully as can be; see the Account of an Occasional Conference between him and Thomas Upshare, p. 15. where he Affirms, That Persons, by the Help of God's Grace and Spirit continually assisting them, may, before Death, come to Perfection in the true sense of Scripture, so as with Sincerity of Heart to Love God, and walk in All his Commandments; and to be free from the condemning and commanding Power of Sin; and from All, not only Scandalous, but deliberate and wilful Sin, tho' liable to Sinful Im­perfections. For, do not the Quakers grant, that there remaineth al­ways in some part a possibility of Sinning, when the Mind doth not most Diligently and Wachfully Attend unto the Lord? See R. Barclay's Apo­logy, Prop. 8 So that Mr. Keith both Denies and Affirms, SINLESS PERFECTION, in the same Paragraph: For a Liableness to Sin, doth no more exclude SINLESS PERFECTION now, than it did to Adam before his Fell; who, tho' he was liable to Fall, yet was Perfect before he Fell:

I could add many more Testimonies in Confirmation of this Doct­rine, but I fear I should exceed the bounds of an Epistle, and therefore shall draw towards a Conclusion; Humbly advising my Brethren, that are to Hot and Violent against the Quakers, to Cool a little, & to [...]ate of their Impetuousness.

We profess to be Ministers of Jesus Christ; let us Imitate him in his Meckness, Lowliness, Gentleness, and in his loving and peaceable Disposition; and not Demonstrate to the World, by our contrary Pra­ctice, that he never Sent us. Moderation, is a Virtue that will Com­mend us, not only to our own People, but to those that Dissent from us; but Fierceness and Animosity, Strife and Contention, render us Contemptible unto all. If it be possible, as much as in us lies, let us live Peaceably with all Men

My advice is, to put an End to these Paper Skirmishes, with these Sober Peaceable People, and make War against our Lusts and Sins, of all sorts; this will be the Noblest Cause we can Engage in, and the most Comfortable and Glorious of Victories to obtain it. For how doth Iniquity abound among us? Are not All Orders and Degrees of Men and Women Infected? May we not All truely say, We are miserable Offenders, both Priests and People, being full of Wounds, and Bruises putrifying Sores? What Atheism & Profaneness, what Pride & Luxury, what Lewdness and Intemperance, what Lying and Swearing, what Chambering & Wantonness, what Gaming, & Sporting what Condeming & [Page 10] Cheating, what Injustice and O [...]ion, over-spread the Nation! We cry, The Church, The Church, as some of old did, The Temple of the Lord, The Temple of the Lord, are we, while Satan hath his Seat amongst us, and we have little left of Pure and Primitive Christianity in our Communion. We are so degenerated from that Life and Po­wer, that appeared in our first Reformers, that we are become a Re­proach to the Reformation: And now we make a great Ostentation of Essentials and Fundamentals in words, when we are departed from the Foundation in our Practices. It was the Saying of the Primitive Christi­ans, N [...]n mag [...] eloqui [...]ur, sed vivimas, We do not speak great things, but we live But behold, how notoriously the Apostacy of this Gene­ration contradicts it! So that we may take up our Lamentation, and say, Magna eloquimur sed non-vivimus; Our Impute Conversations, are a Shame to our splendid Professions. The Quakers, whom some call, Hereticks and Blasphemers, but still want proof for those Odious Epithets, are Sound and Orthodox Livers; you, they not only Out strip us in Real Piety and Vertue, but in Faith and Principle too, and for my part. I do believe, they are the People, whom God hath [...]a [...]ed up in this Dreggy Age of the World, to Refine it, and Restore talien Christianity to its Primitive State of Perfection and Innocency.

Bold and Angry Mr. Keith, write not only at Random, but with extream Vi [...]ulency against them; his C [...]oler overflows in all his late Pamphlets, and almost every Stroke of his Pen discovers either Gall of Blood. I had been astonished, when I read in his Reasons for lea­ving Quaker sin, p. 32. That he was able to prove, that they do not be­lieve one Article of the Apostles Creed: But that I consider, that when he has a mind, he may say the same of Us, or any other Christians in the World; yea, that he himself doth not believe them, and yet wipe, his Mouth, and say, He is always Sound in Fundamentals: for he is the greatest Instance of Confidence and Contradiction that this Age hath produced. But whom are we to believe, Mutable and Invidious Mr. Keith, or the Sober and Peaceable Quakers? A Furious and Implaca­ble Adversary, or an Honest and Conscientions People? You will ea­sily agree with me, that the Testimony of the lat [...] is of most Validi­ty. Now these People have often declared, That they do sincerely Believe every Article of the Apostles Creed, as their Books do Testifie.

Benjamin Coole speaks exceeding plain and full in this Matter: To obviate all Objections, as well to man fest the Intolerable Baseness of George Keith; I will add, saith he, that it is not only All what we suppose Truths in the Apostles Creed, that we bel [...]ive, but even all that is contained in what is called the Apostles Creed, allowing us but a just and reasonable Explanation in three Particulars, that seem to us not safel [...] [...]

[Page 11] First, He Descended into H [...]ll; Now, if by Hell be understood, [...] Dr. Wallis saith, no more, than that he was in the State of the [...] Subscribe to it.

Secondly, And from thence he shall come to Judge both Quick and Dead; from thence he shall come, implies, he shall leave that [...], with which he is Glorified with the Father; Now if it be intended only, That there is a Day appointed, wherein he shall come in Power and great Glory, to Judge both Quick and Dead, according to their Works, we Subscribe to that also; it being more Consonant to the Holy Scriptures Testimony, so to Believe, and say

Thirdly, The Resurrection of the Body; If by Body is meant a Spi­ritual Body, then we Subscribe to that also; as well as to All the rest; is being as much our Faith and Perswasion as any Man's. See his Ho­nesty the Truest-Pal [...]ey, &c. p. 106. printed 1700.

'Tis manifest, that M. Keith has done this People a great deal of Wrong; for he hath first drawn them in what ugly Colours his Invi­dious Fancy pleased, and then endeavoured to make us believe, his Monstrous Draught is their Real Picture: whereby he has done much H [...]t also to many of our own People, instilling into the Minds of the Unwary and Inconsiderate, such strange Notions of the Quakers, as tho' they were the Vilest of Hereticks, who are the Purest Part of the Reformation. For their Principle is Pure and Holy, and their Con­versation generally such, as becomes the Gospel of Christ, notwith­standing the Filth cast upon there by M. Keith in his Occasional Consc­ience with Thomas Upshare, p. 15. The Sins there charged, as Drun­kenness, Whoredom and Defrauding, and many more, being Notori­ously known to be frequently committed by many, both of our Teachers and People.

I have met with a Passage, which for the suteableness of it to Mr. Keith's Character, and Project against the Quakers, I shall here Sub­joyn, and Conclude.

Socrates, a Man of the greatest Reputation in his time, for Reli­gion and Virtue, one that did not take Money for Instructing the Peo­ple but freely Taught them Piety, Justice and Sobriety: The Priests of Athens, with some other of their Confederacy, being weery of him, & inraged against him, for his Honesty and Uprightness, and continual pressing the People thereto, amongst them contrived his Ruine; and to perfect their Design, they procured, and some say, Hired, one Ari­stophanes, a very poor Man, but of Parts sufficient to be their Tool in this wicked Work▪ who being willing to do any thing for Money, undertakes the Business, and writes his Comedy, called, The Clouds; wherein he brings in, and Personates Socrates, speaking as Heretically [Page 12] and Contemptibly, as Mr. Keith Represents the Quakers. The People having a great Love for Socrates, were surprised at first to see him so miserably Traduced;I do not compare M. Keith's lear­ning to Ari­stophanes's, but his Mer­cenary Con­science and [...]en to his. but after a while, they began to Cre­dit the false Representation of him, & his Philosophy, it had so much of Show and Appearance, tho' nothing of Truth and Reality in it; and Aristophanes was as much Applauded by the Priests, and ignorant Vulgar in those days, as Mr. Keith is now▪ Socrates his Enemies having thus Prepared the Peoples M [...]nds, began openly to Draw up a Charge against him, and their Principal Accusation was, That he was a Here­tick, and deny'd Fundamentals; or, as their Phrase was, He deny'd those to be God's, which the Priests of the City deemed to be so. By which Means, and through which Disadvantages, his Enemies never ceased Persecuting him, till they had destroyed him. But his Judges quickly repented themselves of what they had done, and slew many of his Accusers; and some others of them laid Violent Hands u­pon themselves. And 'tis observed by some Historians, That the City of Athens, not long after his Death, was punished with such a Ter­rible Plague, that never was amongst them before.

I would have Mr. Keith, and those of our Brethren, that are so Hot and Furious, consider of this, and be Wise in time: O Let not our Church become a Slaughter House, nor her Priests Instruments to Stirr up Cruelty and Persecution, against a Quiet and truely Religious People! But let us all Study to promote Love, Peace, Truth and Righteousness, both by Preaching and Living; That God may Look down upon us in Mercy, and Stay his Hand, which is Stretched out against us, for the Sins and Transgre [...] of our Priests and People.


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