BALTIMORE: Printed by WILLIAM PECHIN, No. 15, Market-street. 1799.



THE FIRST PROPOSITION. Concerning the True Foundation of Knowledge.

SEEING the height of all happiness is placed in the true knowledge of God (This is life eternal, to know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent §) the true and right understanding of this foundation and ground of know­ledge, is that which is most necessary to be known and believed in the first place.

THE SECOND PROPOSITION. Concerning immediate Revelation.

SEEING no man knoweth the Father but the Son, and he to whom the Son revealeth him and seeing the revelation of the Son is in and by the Spirit; therefore, the testimony of the Spirit is that alone by which the true knowledge of God hath been, is [Page 4] and can be, only revealed; who, as, by the moving of his own Spirit he converted the chaos of this world in that wonderful order wherein it was in the beginning, and created man a liv­ing soul to rule and govern it so by the revelation of the same spirit he hath manifested himself all along unto the sons of men, both patriarchs, prophets, and apostles: which revelations of God by the spirit whether by outward voices and appearances, dreams, or inward objective manifestations on the heart, were of old the the [...]orm [...]n object of their saith, and remain ye so to be; since the object of the so [...] saith as the same in all ages, though set forth under divers administrations. Moreover these divine in­ward revelations, which we make absolutely necessary for the building up of true faith, neither do nor can ever contradict the outward testimony of the scriptures or right and found reason. Yet from hence it will not follow that these divine revelations are to be subjected to the examination either of the outward testimony of the scriptures or of the natural reason of man as to a more noble or certain rule or touchstone; for this divine revelation, and inward illumination, is that which is evident and clear of itself, forcing, by its own evidence and clearness, the well disposed understanding to assent, irresistibly moving the same thereunto; even as the common principles of natural truths move and incline the mind to a natural assent; as, that whole is greater than its part; that two contradictory sayings cannot be both true, nor both false: which is also mani­fest according to our adversaries principle; who supposing the possibility of inward divine revelations, will nevertheless confess with us, that neither scripture nor found reason will contradict it: and yet it will not follow according to them, that the scripture, or found reason, should be subjected to the examination of the divine revelations in the heart.

THE THIRD PROPOSITION. Concerning the Scriptures.

FROM these revelations of the Spirit of God to the saints, have proceeded the scriptures of truth, which contain 1. A [Page 5] faithful historical account of the actings of God's people in di­vers ages, with many singular and remarkable providences at­tending them. 2. A prophetical account of several things, whereof some are already past and some yet to come. 3. A full and ample account of all the chief principles of the doctrine of Christ held forth in divers precious declarations exhortati­ons and sentances which, by the moving of God's spirit were at several times, and upon sundry occasions, spoken and written unto some churches and their paitors: nevertheless, because they are only a declaration of the Fountain, and not the Fountain it­self therefore they are not to be esteemed the principal ground of all truth and knowledge, nor yet the adequate primary rule of saith and manners. Nevertheless, as that which giveth a true and faithful testimony of the first Foundation, they are and may be esteemed a secondary RULE, subordinate to the SPIRIT, from which, they have all their excellency and certainty: for as by the inward testimony of the Spirit we do alone truly know them, so they testify, that the SPIRIT is that guide by which the saints are led into an truth; therefore, according to the scrip­tures, the Spirit is the first and principal leader. And seeing we do therefore receive and believe the scriptures, because they proceeded from the spirit; therefore also the Spirit is more originally and principally the rule, according to that received maxim in the schools, Prop [...]er quod [...] of tale, illud ipsum est magis [...], English thus; That for which a thing is such, that thing itself is more such.

THE FOURTH PROPOSITION. Concerning the Condition of Man in the Fall.

ALL Adam's posterity (or mankind) both Jews and Gen­tiles, as to the first Adam or earthly man, is fallen degenerated, and dead, deprived of the sensation of feeling of this inward [Page 6] testimony or seed of God; and is subject unto the power, na­ture, and feed of the serpents which he sows in mens hearts, while they abide in this natural and corrupted state; from whence it comes, that not their words and deeds only, but all their imaginations are evil perpetually in the sight of God, as proceeding from this depraved and wicked seed. Man, there­fore, as he is in this state, can know nothing aright; yea his thoughts and conceptions concerning God and things spiritual, until he be disjoined from this evil seed, and united to the di­vine Light, are unprofitable both to himself and others. Hence are rejected the Socinian and Pelagian errors, in exalting a na­ural light; as also those of the Papists, and most Protestants, who affirm, That man, without the true Grace of God, may be a true minister of the Gospel. Nevertheless, this seed is not im­puted to infants, until by transgression they actually join themselves therewith; ‘for they are by nature the children of wrath, who walk according to the power of the prince of the air.’

THE FIFTH AND SIXTH PROPOSITIONS. Concerning the Universal Redemption by Christ, and also the Saving and Spiritual Light, wherewith every man is enlightened.


GOD, out of his infinite love, who delighteth not in the death of a sinner, but that all should live and be saved, hath so loved the world, that he hath given his only Son a Light, that whosoever be­lieveth in him should be saved; who enlighteneth every man that cometh into the world, and maketh manifest all things that are re­prova [...]le, and teacheth all temperance, righteousness, and godli­ness§: and this Light enlighteneth the hearts of all in a 6 [Page 7] day in order to salvation, if not resisted. Nor is it less univer­sal than the seed of sin, being the purchase of his death, who tasted death for every man; for as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive


ACCORDING to which principle, or hypothesis, all the ob­jections against the Universality of Christ's death are easily solved; neither is it needful to recur to the ministry of angels, and those other miraculous means, which, they say, God makes use of to manifest the doctrine and history of Christ's passion unto such who (living in those places of the world where the outward preaching of the gospel is unknown) have well im­proved the first and common Grace: for hence it well follows, that as some of the old Phisolophers might have been saved, so also may now some who by Providence are cast into those remote parts of the world, where the knowledge of the History is wan­ting) be made partakers of the divine mystery, if they receive and resist not that Grace, a manifestation whereof is given to e­very man to profit withal|. This certain doctrine then being received, to wit, that there is an evangelical and saving Light and Grace in All, the universality of the love and mercy of God towards mankind (both in the death of his beloved Son, the Lord jesus Christ, and in the manifestation of the Light in the heart) is established and confirmed, against all the objects of such as deny it. Therefore Christ hath tasted death for every man § not only for all kinds of men, as some vainly talk, but for every one of all kinds; the benefit of whose offering is not only extended to such who have the distinct outward knowledge of his death and sufferings, as the same is declared in the scriptures, but even unto those who are necessarily excluded from the be­nefit [Page 8] of this knowledge by some inevitable accident; which knowledge we willingly confess to be very profitable and com­fortable, but not absolutely needful unto such from whom God himself hath with-held it; yet they may be made partakers of the mystery of his death (though ignorant of the history) if they suffer his Seed and Light enlightening their hearts to take place (in which Light, communion with the Father and Son is enjoyed) so as of wicked men to become holy, and lovers of that power by whose inward and secret touches they feel them­selves turned from the evil to the good and learn to do to o­thers as they would be done by; in which Christ himself affirms all to be included. As they then have fastly and erroneously taught who have denied Christ, to have died for all men; so neither have they sufficiently taught the truth who affirming him to have died for all have added the absolute necessity of the outward knowledge thereof in order to the obtaining its sav­ing effect; among whom the Remons [...]ra [...]s of [...] have been chiefly wanting and many other asserters of [...] Re­demption, in that they have not placed the extent of this salvati­on in that divine and evangelical principle of Light and Life, wherewith Christ hath enlightened every man that comes into the world; which is excellently and evidently held forth in these scriptures, Gen. vi. 3. Deut. xxx. 14, John i. 7, 8, 9, Rom. x. 8. Tit. ii. 11.

THE SEVENTH PROPOSITION. Concerning Justification.

AS many as resist not this Light, but receive the same, in them is produced an holy, pure, and spiritual birth, bringing forth holiness, righteousness, purity, and all those on her blessed fruits which are acceptable to God; by which holy birth to wit, Jesus Christ formed within us, and working his works within us) as we are sanctified, so are we justified in the sight of God, according to the apostle's words, But ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, [Page 9] and by the Spirit of our God *. Therefore it is not by our works wrought in our will, nor yet by good works, considered as of themselves, but by CHIRST, who, is both the gift and the giver, and the cause producing the effects in us; who as he hath recon­ciled us while we were enemies, doth also in his wisdom save us, and justify us after this manner, as saith the same apostle else where, According to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of rege­neration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost.

THE EIGHTH PROPOSITION. Concerning Perfection.

IN whom this Holy and Pure Birth is fully brought forth, the body of death and sin comes to be crucified and removed, and their hearts united and subjected to the truth, so as not to o­bey any suggestion or temptation of the evil one, but to be free from actual sinning, and transgressing of the law of God, and in that respect perfect §. Yet doth this perfection still admit of a growth; and there remaineth a possibility of sinning, where the mind doth not most diligently and watchfully attend unto the Lord.

THE NINTH PROPOSITION. Concerning Perseverance, and the Possibility of Falling from Grace.

ALTHOUGH this Gift, and inward Grace of God, be suffi­cient to work out salvation; yet in those in whom it is resisted it both may and doth become their condemnation. Moreover, in whom it hath wrought in part, to purify and sanctify them, in order to their further perfection, by disobedience, such may [Page 10] fall from it, and turn it to wantonness, making shipwreck of faith; and after having tasted of the heavenly gift, and been made partakers of the Holy Ghost, again fall away § Yet such an in­crease and stability in the truth may in this life be attained, from which there cannot he a total apostasy.

THE TENTH PROPOSITION. Concerning the Ministry.

AS by this Gift, or Light of God, all true knowledge in things spiritual is received and revealed; so by the same, as it is manifested and received in the heart, by the strength and pow­er thereof, every true minister of the Gospel is ordained, pre­pared and supplied in the work of the ministry: and by the lead­ing, moving, and drawing thereof, ought every evangelist and Christian pastor to be led and ordered in his labour and work of the Gospel, both as to the place where, as to the persons to whom, and as to the times when, he is to minster. Moreover, those who have this authority may and ought to preach the Gospel, though without human commission or literature; as, on the other hand, those who want the authority of this divine gift, however learned or authorized by the commissions of men and churches, are to be esteemed but as deceivers, and not true Ministers of the Gospel. Also, who have received this holy and unspotted gift, as they are freely received, so are they freely to give *, without hire or bargaining, far less to use it as a trade to get money by it: yet if God hath called any from their em­ployments, or trades, by which they acquire their livelihood, it may be lawful for such (according to the liberty which they feel given them in the Lord) to receive such temporals (to wit, what may be needful to them for meat and cloathing) as are freely given them by those to whom they have communicat­ed spirituals.

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ALL true and acceptable Worship to God is offered in the inward and immediate moving and drawing of his own Spirit, which is neither limited to places, times, or persons: for though we be to worship him always, in that we are to fear before him; yet as to the outward signification thereof, in prayers, praises, and preachings, we ought not to do it where and when we will, but where and when we are moved there­unto by the secret inspiration of his spirit in our hearts; which God heareth and accepteth of, and is never wanting to move us thereunto, when need is, of which he himself is the alone proper judge. All other worship then, both praises, prayers, and preachings, which man sets about in his own will, and at his own appointment, which he can both begin and end at his plea­sure, do or leave undone, as himself sees meet; whether they be a prescribed form, as a liturgy, or prayers conceived [...]xtempo­rarily, by the natural strength and faculty of the mind they are all but superstitions, will-worship, and abominable idolatry in the sight of God |, which are to be denied, rejected and sepa­rated from, in this day of his spiritual arising; however it might have pleased him (who winked at the times, of ignorance with respect to the simplicity and integrity of some, and of his own innocent Seed, which lay as it were buried in the hearts of men, under the mass of superstition) to blow upon the dead and dry bones, and raise some breathings, and answer them, and that until the day should more clearly dawn and break forth.

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As there is One Lord and One faith so there is One Baptism; which not the putting away the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience before God, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. And this Baptism is a pure and spiritual thing, to wit, the Bap­tism of the Spirit and Fire, by which we are buried with him, that being washed and purged from our sins, we may walk in newness of life of which the baptism of John was a figure, which was commanded for a time, and not to continue for e­ver. As to the baptism of infants, it is a mere human tradition, for which neither precept nor practice is to be found in all the scripture.

THE THIRTEENTH PROPOSITION. Concerning the Communion, or Participation of the Body and Blood of Christ.

THE communion of the body and Blood of Christ is inward and Spiritual§, which is the participation of his Flesh and Blood, | by which the inward man is daily nourished in the hearts of those in whom Christ dwells; of which things the breaking of bread by Christ with his disciples was a figure, which they even used in the church for a time, who had received the substance, for the cause of the weak; even as abstaining from things strang­led, and from blood, the washing one another's feet and the anoint­ing of the sick with oil*; all which are commanded with no less authority and solemnity than the former; yet seeing they are [Page 13] but the shadows of better things, they cease in such as have ob­tained the substances.

THE FOURTEENTH PROPOSITION. Concerning the Power of the Civil Magistrate, in Mat­ters purely Religious, and pertaining to the Conscience.

SINCE God hath assumed to himself the power and dominion of the conscience, who alone can rightly instruct and govern it, therefore it is not lawful for any whatsoever, by virtue of any authority or principality they bear in the government of this world, to force the consciences of others; and therefore all kil­ling, banishing, fining, imprisoning, and other such things, which men are afflicted with, for the alone exercise of their con­science, or difference in worship or opinion, proceedeth from the spirit of Cain, the murderer, and is contrary to the Truth: Provided always, that no man, under the pretence of consci­ence, prejudice his neighbour in his life or estate; or do any thing destructive to, or inconsistent with, human society; in which case the law is for the transgressor, and justice to be ad­ministered upon all, without respect of persons.

THE FIFTEENTH PROPOSITION. Concerning the Salutations and Recreations, &c.

SEEING the chief end of all religion is to redeem man from the spirit and vain conversation of this world, and to lead into inward communion with God , before whom if we fear always, we are accounted happy: therefore all the vain customs and habits thereof, both in word and deed, are to be rejected and forsaken by those who come to this fear; such as the taking off [Page 14] the hat to a man, the bowings and cringings of the body, and such other salutations of that kind, with all the foolish and superstitious formalities attending them; all which man has invented in his degenerate state, to feed his pride in the vain pomp and glory of this world; as also the unprofitable plays, frivolous recreations, sportings and gamings, which are invent­ed to pass away the precious time, and divert the mind from the Witness of God in the heart, and from the living sense of his fear, and from that evangelical Spirit where with Christians ought to be leavened, and which leads into sobriety, gravity, and godly fear; in which as we abide, the blessing of the Lord is felt to attend us in those actions in which we are necessarily engaged, in order to the taking care for the sustenance of the outward man.

A Short Account OF THE PEOPLE CALLED QUAKERS;— THEIR Rise, Religious Principles & Settlement in America.

THESE People were first distinguished by the Name of Qua­kers in England, about the middle of the last century. George Fox was the principal Instrument of gathering them into a religi­ous society. His outward employment while young, was chiefly in the care of sheep, and from his infancy being of a grave, so­lid, observing turn of mind, was early restrained from the fol­lies [Page 15] incident to youth; solicitous, above all things, to obtain the favour of God, and to avoid every thing which either the Scriptures or the inward principle of Divine Grace taught him to believe was offensive to him; though in so doing many corrupt practices, which custom had familiarized to the Profes­sors of Christianity, presented themselves as obstacles in his way, which for a time occasioned him much anxiety, lest his own particular prospect should mislead him; but as he retained an inflexible integrity, he gained experience by the things that he suffered, and as his understanding was gradually illuminated, he received satisfaction in the many doubts he had long pain­fully laboured under. In the Year 1647, and 23d year of his age, he travelled through several counties of England, seeking out such as, in religions tenderness, were inquiring after the way of life and salvation: these he taught both by precept and ex­ample the benefit of retiring into silence, and instructed them to cease from all self-performances to turn to the [...] Christ in their own hearts, and wait to feel the instructio [...] [...] Spirit there, that their knowledge, worship and religious services, might not stand in the will of man, but in ‘the power of an endless life.’

In this service of love he continued some years, and his la­bours were so blessed, that great numbers were convinced by his Ministry and that of others who were gathered into the same inward divine Principle, who at first were called, Children of the Light. But the power and reverential awe attending them so affected their minds, and those of the piously disposed people to whom they ministered, as often to cause them to tremble before the Divine Majesty, under an abasing sense of their own unworthiness, whence they were in derision called Quakers; which name they have since been most generally known by in the world; tho' from their mutual love and patient suffering of injuries, which they held ought ever to mark the Followers of Christ, they stiled them­selves Friends, or the Friends of Truth. Thus it was, that a man without any worldly advantages of station or literature, meerly by a continued attention to the guidance of that Di­vine [Page 16] Light, which he bore testimony to in the energy and powers of his ministry, the convincing plainness and clearness of his doctrine, and the correspondent sanctity of his life, became an instrument in the Lord's hand, to collect from all professions and most ranks, great numbers of piously disposed people, who were at length embodied into a religious society, governed by one of the best systems of Christian Discipline that history af­fords any account of.

These converts to the Light of Christ in the Soul of Man, were distinguishable for a grave, sedate deportment; singular uprightness in their dealings; punctuality in the performance of their promises; a sparingness in discourse; great temperance and frugality at their tables; and plainness and simplicity in their dress and behaviour. They declined servile and fantasti­cal gestures, compliments and other customary forms of saluta­tion [...] putting off the hat, scraping the foot, bending the knee, [...] healths, &c. esteeming them to be violations of that sincerty and seriousness which becomes Christians; yet considered it their duty to treat all men with gentleness and respect. Making use of the singular number (Thou) as most proper and consistent with Scripture and the most approved an­cient writers, avoiding the customary use of the plural (You) when speaking to a single person, with such other flattering titles of address as serve to feed the Pride of the human heart, accounting them both contrary to the simplicity of the gos­pel and inconsistent with truth. They disused such names of the months or days of the week as were derived from the gods of the heathen, believing that under the gospel dispensation those prophesies were to be fulfilled, by which the Lord declared, he would so effectually take away the name of Baalim from his people, that they should no more be remembered by their names*

They maintained that as the end of true religion is to redeem the minds of mankind from the spirit of the world, and bring them to an inward communion with God, that therefore the pursuit of wordly fashions, all diversions, such as gaming, dan­cing, [Page 17] stage playing and other amusements of the same baneful tendency, are to be refrained from, as evidently tending to raise the human mind, which is prone to vanity, above the preserving fear of God, and to weaken its desires after those effusions of his love and goodness, wherewith it ought to seek daily to be leavened. For according to scripture testimony and the corres­pondent evidences of Gospel Light, in their own hearts, they found, that while men's affections are engrossed by the plea­sures and delights of this world, they are dead to a sense of the Divine Life in them; the absolute necessity of regeneration and the power by which this great work is effected, are both inclu­ded in that doctrine of the apostle, If ye live after the flesh ye shall d [...]; but if ye thro' the spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live: for as many as are led by the Spirit of God they are the Sons of God. *

It was about thirty years after the first appearan [...] [...] Qua­kers in England, that many of them settled in America. In the Year 1681, the province of Pennsylvania being granted to William Penn, he removed thither with a considerable number of his friends, mostly of the people called Quakers. It is wor­thy of special notice, that most of the settlements in Ame­rica were made with little regard to any prior title in the na­tives; but William Penn did not think his permission to colo­nize the tract of land granted to him by king Charles II. a sufficient title to the country; but assembled the Sachems or Prin­ces, and obtained their consent to settle upon the extent of land that he wanted. When it became necessary to extend the settle­ment, new lands were purchased from the original possessors, which established so much love and confidence in them towards William Penn and the first settlers of Pennsylvania, that his and their names were, and still continue to be, revered amongst them.

Such a toleration and liberty of conscience was established in Pennsylvania, as promoted and maintained a true sense of religion, which penal laws have ever failed of effecting; hypo­crisy [Page 18] and profaneness were discouraged, and those Ecclesiastical Establishments which tend to deprive men of their religious and civil rights avoided. William Penn granted a general to­leration to all who professed to believe in one Supreme Almigh­ty Being; and allowed the different sects of Christians to hold offices, and to enjoy the highest posts in the state; as by the Charter of Privileges, dated 28th October 1701, is expressly provided, viz. ‘Because no people can be truly happy though under the greatest enjoyment of Civil Liberties, if abridged of the freedom of their Consciences, as to their re­ligious profession and worship; and Almighty God being the only Lord of conscience, father of lights and spirits, and the author as well as object, of all divine knowledge, faith and worship, who only doth enlighten the minds and persuade [...] convince the understandings of people: I do hereby gr [...] [...] declare that no person or persons inhabiting in this P [...]e or Territories, who shall confess and acknow­ledge one almighty God, the creator, upholder and ruler of the world, and profess him or themselves obliged to live quietly under the civil government, shall be in any case molested or prejudiced in his or their person or estate, because of his or their conscientious persuasion or practice; nor be compelled to frequent or maintain any religious worship, place or mini­stry contrary to his or their minds; or to do, or suffer any o­ther act or thing contrary to their religious persuasion. And that all persons who also profess to believe in Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world, shall be capable (notwithstanding their other persuasions and practices in point of conscience and religion) to serve this government in any capacity, both legislative and executively.’

And in order to guard, as much as was in his power against the instability of future human councils, William Penn provided, in the most solemn manner, in the last paragraph of his charter, that this most essential Liberty and Privlege should be preserv­ed inviolate, in the following memorable conclusion of it, viz. ‘But because the happiness of mankind depends so much upon the enjoying of liberty of their consciences as aforesaid, I do [Page 19] hereby solemnly declare, promise and grant for me, my hiers and assigns, that the first article of this charter, relating to Liberty of Conscience, and every part and clause therein, ac­cording to the true intent and meaning thereof, shall be kept and remain, without any alteration, inviolably for ever. And lastly I the said William Penn, proprietary and governor of the province of Pennsylvania and Territories thereunto be­longing, for myself, my heirs and assigns, have solemnly de­clared, granted and confirmed, and do hereby solemnly de­clare, grant and confirm, that neither I, my heirs or assigns, shall procure or do, any thing or things, whereby the liber­ties in this charter contained, and expressed, nor any part thereof, shall be infringed or broken; and if any thing shall be procured or done by any person or persons contrary to these presents, it shall be held of no force or effect.’

This general Liberty of Conscience was the natural effect of the divine principle of light and truth professed by the Quakers, who hold none excluded from the favour of God on account of their different religious persuasion, provided it [...] founded on the fear of God and love to mankind. A government establish­ed upon so liberal and extensive a plan, was an encouragement to great numbers of different persuasions to emigrate from va­rious countries, where many had suffered for their non confor­mity to ecclesiastical requisitions, to settle under a constitution, the basis of which was religious and civil liberty, to which wise provision the rapid settlement and improvement of the Province has, by the blessing of Providence been principally owing. It is a situation of society beautiful in prospect, and happy in the enjoyment, when men mutually give and receive liberty to live, with equality and affection; if not as belonging to the same visible church, yet to the same fraternity of mankind; agree­able to our blessed Saviour's doctrine, One is your master, and all ye are brethren. * The changes which for a number of years past, have gradually prevailed in this once peaceful land, principally owing to the great accession of people of different [Page 20] dispositions from the first settlers, the views of many of whom having been to amass wealth and aggrandize themselves, has very much reversed the system of happiness so long and suc­cessfully pursued: hence the friendly disposition of the Indians, conspicuous for a long course of years, in favour of the inhabi­tants, has been so changed, that Pennsylvania, after enjoying an uninterupted peace of more than sixty years, has, in com­mon with the other colonies, suffered severely from the incursi­ons of the natives.


The Universality of the Grace of GOD and its saving Effects.

THE Doctrine they principally hold is, that there is one God, almighty, holy, pure and eternal; who of his infi­nite love has offered salvation, through Jesus Christ his son, who should taste death for every man: *Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth: That a gift of saving light and Grace hath appeared to all men; teach­ing us, that denying ungodliness, and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world: That this light is Christ, the true Light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. §

The Divine Principle of redeeming power which under the dispensation of the law was pointed to in types and ceremo­nies is by the gospel revealed to be Christ in you (saith the apo­stle) the hope of Glory, | that is agreeable to the promise made to the fathers, that all shall know him (i. e. the Lord) from the least of them to the greatest.

[Page 21] The Quakers hold that this law of truth, this test of virtue and vice is not hid from any part of mankind; but that every man born into the world, is enlightened by it; the serious and well disposed Heathens, in different ages and nations, have, un­der various appellations, expressed their sensibility of the ex­istence and efficacy of this Divine Principle, this law of God written in the heart, to deliver from that corruption under which they laboured. Socrates, Plato, Seneca, Epictetus, and several others of the philosophers called their disciples to an attention to its dictates. These doubtless were some of those virtuous Heathens commended in the scriptures, Rom. ii. 14. Who tho' they had not, instrumentally, been taught the law, yet from a conformity to this inward principle of divine intelli­gence, do by nature the things contained in the law, were a law unto themselves, which (says the apostle) shew the work of the law writ­ten in their hearts, * this they maintain to be a light of God's own nature; the Life of him being the Light of men. And therefore superior to and distinct from the mere light of our natural faculties, because it doth not properly appertain to men, as fallen creatures; but is the gift of God, superadded to them, thro' Jesus Christ, for their information and assistance, in pur­suing after those things which relate to the favour of God, and their eternal Salvation. Hence the Quakers hold it as a funda­mental doctrine, that whosoever will carefully and seriously turn into himself, with a sincere desire to know and practice his duty, will not fail to find there a sufficient director, a ray from the fountain of light, illuminating his understanding and assisting him to distinguish good from evil. As saith the prophet, He hath shewed the O man, what is good, and what doth the Lord require of thee; but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God. They are per­suaded that as many as resist not this light, in what ever part of the world they live, or of what mode of religious profession they may be, it produceth holiness, righteousness, purity and other fruits acceptable to God, agreeable to the declaration made by the apostle Peter, after he had been at the house of [Page 22] Cornelius, "of a truth I Perceive that God is no respecter of persons; but in every nation, he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.

They esteem the scriptures of the old and new testament a­bove all other writings, believing them to be given by Divine In­spiration, as a rule of faith and practice, in subordination to the light and spirit of God, which is the primary rule—that much depends on the scriptures being judged of under the influence of the same Divine Spirit which gave them forth; that otherwise, in the hands of men actuated by their corrupt propensities, they may and have been used as a pretext for doing many things ab­horrent to the nature and spirit of the gospel. Witness those terrible persecutions which a false zeal, joined to a wrong con­struction of the scripture, have occasioned. They decline to call them the Word of God, as being a denomination properly attributed to Christ alone; and they are the more scrupulous in this respect, because people are apt to be hereby led to think that if they have the scriptures, they have all that is necessary to salvation, and look for no further Word or Light.


THE Quakers absolutely declare against being concered in the destruction of their fellow men, who equally with them­selves are the objects of saving grace; hence they can take no part in war, being persuaded that all wars stand in opposition to the intent and nature of the gospel: war being the sad effect of the fall of man; a fall from meekness, purity and love, into [Page 23] sensuality, pride, revenge and wrath. The apostle James, chap. 4th, hath stated the question with respect to the cause of war so as to preclude all difficulty and doubt about it, From whence come wars and fightings among you, come they not hence, even of your lusts. * The evident fruits of a spirit contrary to the spirit of Christ, opposite both in its nature and effects to the pure religion he hath called men to the practice of; wherefore they are convinced that the followers of the meek and peace­able Jesus, ought to take no part in war; but rather to la­bour in the ability received from the blessed mediator, to recon­cile men unto God and one unto another. Blessed, saith our mer­ciful Saviour, are the meek for they shall inherit the earth; Bles­sed are the peace makers for they shall be called the children of God, they will enjoy that peace of God which passeth all understanding. And the apostle speaking of the believers adds, Tho' we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh, for the weapons of our warefare are not carnal. They look upon the gospel of Jesus Christ to be an eminent display of divine benignity and love to mankind; that the son of God, took upon him flesh, and suffer­ed, and died, to destroy that enmity which, thro' sin, had pre­vailed over the whole human race, and to restore unto fallen man the first life of purity and love; leaving us saith the apostle an example that ye should follow his steps. § They believe the wars mentioned in the old Testament afford no argument for its continuance under the gospel, which is declared to be the bringing in of a better hope, by the which we draw nigh unto God, | a dispensation of peculiar love and mercy to mankind, which our Saviour himself distinguishes from the former dispensation, when he says: Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth; but I say unto you, That ye resist not evil; again Ye have heared that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy: but I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to thom that hate you, and pray for them which dispitefully use [Page 24] you and persecute you, that ye may be the children of your father which is in heaven. *

Agreeable to this is the testimony of most, if not all the an­cient fathers, and faithful christians of the first three hundred years after Christ, as their writings clearly shew, wherein they declare that the prophecies of Isaiah and Micah, relating to the establishment of the peaceable reign of the Messiah, as well as the declaration made by the Angels at the birth of Christ, of Peace on Earth, good will towards men, § was verified in the experience of the faithful in their days.

The inspired apostle describes the fruits of the Holy Spirit to be love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekess, temperance, | so that these important truths experi­enced, by holy men so early and latter ages, manifest that this doctrine and firm persuasion of the Quakers is not new; and it must be allowed, that essential service may arise from their hold­ing up the efficacy of this divine principle which leads to over­come evil with good, § to a world distracted with wrath, covet­ousness and pride; nor should it appear strange that the doc­trine of the cross of Christ is mysterious to the carnal wisdom of man, it was to the Jews a stumbling block, and to the Creeks foolishness; but unto them which are called, saith the apostle, it is the power of God and Wisdom of God.

And however threatning the maintenance of this peaceable testimony may appear, of bringing deep suffering upon those who are faithful therein; yet they believe that Christ, the blessed Shepherd of his flock, will ever uphold those who faith­fully follow him, in the meek, forgiving, suffering spirit. They cannot consider victories obtained by the destruction of men, as [Page 25] occasions of rejoicing; much less as subjects of thanksgiving to a God of love, of peace and goodness, * the creator of man­kind; but regard them as occasions of lamentation and mourn­ing, and that both on account of those who, inflamed with rage, and defiled with blood, are precipitated into an awful eternity, and those who are left to share and deplore the desolations of war; also in the consideration, that the understanding of any, who bear the christian name, should be so exceedingly blind to the nature of the gospel, as to imagine its Divine Author, who declares He came not to destroy mens lives; but to save them, can look, with favour on such addresses, as arise from a conduct totally repugnant to the great end of his coming.


THEY look upon Divine Worship to be the most solemn act the mind of man is capable of being engaged in, and in consider­ation of the high and inconceivable majesty of Almighty God, think it their duty to approach him with the greatest reverence. They assert that the true worship of God is in Spirit and in Truth, not limited to any place or time, agreeable to our Lord's declaration to the woman of Samaria; but is to be perform­ed through the operation of the Spirit of Jesus Christ our Lord, who regards the prayer of the humble and contrite, that in sincerity seek him, and has declared, where two or three are ga­thered together in my Name, there am I in the midst of them; [Page 26] to revive the spirit of the humble and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.

They acknowledge no priestly office to subsist under the gos­pel dispensation, in any other sense than as every sincere chris­tian may be called a priest as he others up to God the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, from a pure and contrite heart, in which respect the apostle calls all christians a royal priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices—an holy nation, a peculiar peo­ple.

They apprehend it their duty to be deligent in assembling themselves together for the public worship of almighty God, when such as are duly prepared by being gathered into a com­posed awful frame of mind, are enabled under the influence of divine grace to worship, in solemn silence, during the whole time of the meeting, or if moved thereto, to pray or preach (i. e. prophecy) as the Spirit giveth them utterance; agreeable to the practice of the primitive church, without distinction of quality or sex; every one who is of a sober life and approved conversation, if divinely called or moved thereto, is permitted to speak in their assemblies, and as such persevere therein, to the satisfaction of the congregation, they are recommended as gos­pel ministers. They say, that as well at meals as on all other occasions, a sense of gratitude should be lived in for the blessing, preservation, and support we daily receive, particularly look­ing up to God and waiting to feel the motion of his Spirit to animate to mental prayer, without which all vocal expression is insufficient.

They think men ought to be very careful in their pretensi­ons to the ministerial gifts, it being very presumptuous and dan­gerous in any to take upon them that high office without being divinely called thereto, and that no man has a sufficient ground to think he is called to the ministry by the Holy Ghost, without a clear putting forth of the Spirit hi his heart, from a sense of duty to God, and a feeling, pressing, disinterested love to the [Page 27] brethren, to the satisfaction of the congregation or meeting he belongs to. This to them appears to comprehend the substance of the primative ordination in the apostolic age. To settle sa­laries and pensions for the maintenance of the ordained preach­ers, who afterwards exact them as a debt, they look upon as a dishonour to the ministry of the gospel, degrading it to a world­ly traffic: That agreeable to our Saviour's positive command, Having freely received they ought freely to give. * The apostle Paul declared, That his own hands had ministered unto his necessities.

As the Ouakers held it a fundamental doctrine, That it is the Spirit that giveth life, That God hath made foolish the wisdom of this world, they cannot esteem human learning to be a necessary qualification to the ministry, the apostle declares to the believers, That not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not ma­ny noble are called, but God hath chosen the foolish things, and the weak things of the world to [...] the things which are mighty; you and things which are not, to bring is nought things that are, that no flesh should glory in his presence. And my speech and my preaching was not with [...] of words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of spirit and power; that your faith should not stand in he wisdom of men, but in the power of God.

For the same reason they utterly disclaim that divinity, false­ly so called, taught in the schools, and those degrees conferred in Academies; the nature of which, they look upon, tends to puff up the vain mind in estimation of its own importance, to assume lordship and to seek honour one from another, in oppo­sition to the advice of our Saviour to his disciples, Not to be called Rabbi; but directs to a brotherly equality among his dis­ciples, One is your Master, even Christ, and all ye are brethen. They also refuse to pay tythes or to contribute to the support of a hireling ministry, looking upon the forcible demand of the clergy of all denominations, who claim a maintenance by laws, [Page 28] to be an usurpation not in the least warranted by, but contrary to scripture, under the gospel which they are in conscience oblig­ed to withstand.

They assert that amongst the many mistaken practices which have been introduced, and correspond not with the voice of Christ the only Shepherd, of the Soul none appear more oppos­ed to the meek, and humble, self-denying state of the gospel, than the practice of those Who [...] for hire and divine for mo­ [...], who are generally ready to prepare war against those who put not [...] their Mouths, and arrogate to themselves, that they, by virtue of their several ordinations are the only guides and shepherds, in all Christians, who are to receive the gospel from their lips, in contradiction to the promise made to the be­lievers, That all should know the Lord from the least to the grea­ [...]

Not withstanding the testimony of the Quakers is against those [...] among the different denominations, that labour in [...] own will▪ who preach for hire and divine for money, yet [...] such among them who are men fearing God and [...] [...]etousness, and have engaged in that weighty service [...] [...]pre [...]ension of duty nor do they deny that the Spirit [...] [...]ace sometimes condescends to co-operate with the religi­ous [...]abours of such: Nevertheless they cannot direct the search­er [...] after truth to the ministry of any man, but to the immediate teaching of the word [...]igh in the heart, even the Spirit of God, which is the only infallible teacher, the primary adequate rule of faith and practice, which will lead those who attend to its dictates into the knowledge of truth and righteousness.

And as there is a general dispensation of Divine Grace, alike to male and female, who in scripture are declared to be all one in Christ, they admit that women have a like call to the ministry as the men, and are made equally partakers of the same enlarge­ment of Spirit, peculiar to the gospel times; as was clearly prophesied by the prophet Joel and confirmed by the apostle Pe­ter [Page 29] at the time of pentecost, viz. That God would pour out of his Spirit upon all flesh and their sons and their daughters should prophesy—and on my servants and on my hand-maids will I pour out, in those days, of my Spirit, and they shall prophesy, the apostle Paul, also, gives directions to both sexes, how they are to behave themselves in their publick praying or prophesying, both which signify speaking unto men to exhortation and com­fort. Whence it may safely concluded, that the prohibition that apostle lays on a woman's speaking, of which such a handle is made to deprive the church of so great a benefit, was only intended as a check to the unwarrantable activity of some wo­men, at that peculiar time, and by no means in contradiction to what himself had said in confirmation of the fore-mentioned prophesy.


THE Quakers being convinced that no outward practice can give a possession in the kingdom of God, but it is solely the renovation of heart called in scripture the New Creature, that can justly entitle us to the appellation of Children of God, a­greeable to the apostle's doctrine, That the Kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost, they see no necessity for continuing the use of wa­ter baptism, and the outward supper in the church, esteeming these to have been used only as figures pointing to the substance, and abstractedly considered of no greater avail than Washing the feet, circumcision or any Jewish rite to the renovation of mind we stand in need of; yet believe there are those who use these signs in uprightness, and that the Lord, who respects the dis­position of the mind more than any outward circumstance, con­descends [Page 30] to favour such with the blessing of peace: They agree that some of the apostles used water baptism, in the infant state of the church, while the Jewish part of the believers remained under some attachment to the preceeding shadowy dispensation of the law; but we may observe that Paul the apostle of the Gentiles, who was not under those prejudices says, That Christ sent him not to baptize, [...]t to preach the Gospel, * and declares the baptizing power of the Holy Ghost to be an essential means of admission into the church of Christ, For, says he, by one Spirit are we all baptiszed into one holy, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one spirit. The same apostle expressly declares, That there is one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism. And the apostle Peter, That the baptism which saveth, is not the putting away of the faith of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward, God, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. §

Now in this advanced age of the church when Christ is con­fessed, by all denominations of christians to be the great Anti­type, in whom all the figures and shadows of the law are fulfilled, for any to insist on the Perpetuation of these forms, and place their dependance thereon for the accomplishment of that work of salvation, which can only be wrought by his saving spirit and power, they apprehend is to derogate from his honour, and tends to stop the seeking mind in a dangerous dependence on something short of the true object. Thus the water baptism of John was carefully distinguished, by himself, from that of Christ by which the purification of the soul is effected, I indeed says he, baptize you with water unto repentance; but he that cometh after me is rightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear, he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with Fire. | Accor­dingly when in obedience to Christ's directions, the disciples were asser [...]led at Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost, and then experienced the descent of this baptizing power upon them, it opened their mouths in testimony to its quickning influences; [Page 31] and when afterwards, under the same divine qualification, Pe­ter began to preach to some at the house of Cornelius, he says, The Holy Ghost fell on than, as on us at the beginning; Then re­membered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost. *

The like spiritual acceptation the Quakers give to the Lord's supper, the outward practice of which they apprehend was on­ly to continue until he came by his spiritual appearance, who as the antitype, fulfilled the law and put an end to all the Jew­ish rites; and that they who experience his coming a second time, without sin unto salvation, feel the force and propriety of the apostle's rebuke, and dare not return to the beggarly ele­ments but desire to feed by saith on him who testified thus of himself, Whoso eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath e­ternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day; for my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me and I in him; which declaration clearly points to the communication of his divine nature, alluded to where he is described as standing at a door, waiting for an entrance to bless the hungry soul with the en­joyment of it; Behold, I stand at the door and knock, if any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to him and will step with him, and he with me. § This is the holy supper and blessed communion of saints, which the living members of the church experience and is still continued to the followers of Christ: So that though they reject the use of those outward cere­monies, yet they are advocates for the true spiritual baptism and the Lord's supper, which are those inward and spiritual graces to which the figures point.

[Page 32]


THEY teach a strict regard to Truth without swearing, ac­cording to the injunction of our blessed Saviour, Swear not at all; but let your communication be yea; nay, nay—for what­soever is more than these cometh of evil, * and the exhortation of the apostle James, But above all things my brethren swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath; but let your yea, be yea, and your nay, nay [...] lest ye fall into con­demnation." apprehending that where the mind is under the tye and bond of truth, there can be no necessity for oaths and asseverations, which are evidently the least regarded by those who make the freest use of them: Yet willing to submit to any punishment for false affirming which others are liable to for perjury. And in this there is reason to believe they follow the example of the fathers of the five first centuries, who according to Dr. Whitby (in his dissert. de script. interp. p. 154,) and o­ther authors agree, that oaths of all kinds were unlawful to christians in the first centuries of the church.


THE Slavery, which during a long course of years has sub­sisted in America, promoted by a cruel and criminal trade, car­ried on both from Europe and America, for the fixed purpose of purchasing the African Negroes, in order to subject them to a state of bondage, being one of the great evils now prevailing among the professors of christianity, when considered in its na­ture and effects, as well to the Negroes, as to their lordly op­pressors and their unhappy offspring, hath particularly engaged the attention of this religious society, who have required all [Page 33] their members to avoid being, in any respct, concerned in the support of this infamous trassick; and have also enjoined all their members who hare any of these oppressed people in pos­session, that they should, without delay, set them at liberty, and directed that such who refused to comply with this injunc­tion, shall be considered as no longer in fellowship with them, and to have renounced their right of membership. And having also observed the many disadvantages these afflicted people la­bour under in point of education and otherwise, a tender care has taken place to promote their instruction in school learning, and also their religious and temporal welfare, in order to quali­fy them for becoming reputable members of society.


RELIGIOUS Society, in its simplest form, being an agree­ment of its members to watch over each other for good, as in this lapsed state of existence, we are subject to many weaknesses and stand in need of the care and counsel one of another; hence discipline; for the well government of such a society becomes necessary. Thus where a number of this people are set­tled in a neighbourhood, and belong to one established meeting for worship, if any individual falls Into indi­gent circumstances, when such case becomes known, relief is ad­ministered; or if any member walk disorderly, or a report is spread to his disadvantage, that person of the society who first observes or hears thereof, is enjoined privately to admonish him, carefully avoiding a disclosure of the matter to a third per­son, until repeated trials to reclaim him prove ineffectual. He is then to take a judicious person with him, and if their united endeavours prove also fruitless, his case is made known to the o­verseers, of which there are generally one or more in each [Page 34] particular meeting; whose business is to see that the order and rules of the society are observed, and who after visiting the offender, and finding him irreclaimable, first apprize him of their intention, and then lay his case before the elders, overseers and other members of the meeting he belongs to, where if none are inclined to visit him again, it is carried forward to the monthly meeting, which is a meeting generally made up of the members of several such particular meetings as lie contiguous to it; here a committee is commonly deputed to use further endeavours to convince and regain the offender; but if after repeatedly visit­ing and waiting upon him a proper time, no sign of amendment is reported, that meeting proceeds to testify its disapprobation of his conduct, and that he has thereby excluded himself from a right of membership in the society. This testification it is usual to deliver him a copy of, and inform him of his right of appeal from their judgment, to the quarterly meeting, which consists of the members who constitute the monthly meetings within each county; and from the quarterly meeting appeals also lie to the yearly meeting, which is a collection of all the quar­terly meetings; here appeals are finally determined, rules for the government of the society are agreed on; with such advices as from time to time appear necessary.

THE Quakers refusal to unite in any thing of a warlike na­ture, which proceeds from a conviction that every measure which tends to the destruction of mankind is inconsistent with the nature of the Gospel; their refusing to join in publick re­joicing for successes obtained in war; their denying to swear in any case; to pay tythes, or to contribute to the support of the national ministry; as well as their nonconformity to the common modes of address, &c. have subjected them to much obloquy and many grievious sufferings, which nevertheless have been much mitigated by the indulgence different governments have extended to them, convinced by their patient sufferings, that their profession of conscientious scruples were sincere; and [Page 35] that nothing dangerous to civil society could be apprehended from a people who utterly disclaimed the use of arms, or of being in any wife concerned in fomenting divisions or civil com­motions, and who think it their duty to contribute their endea­vours for the peace and welfare of every country where their lots are cast, and are willing chearfully to comply with every just requisition, for the support of the civil order of government, not inconsistent with what they apprehend is their duty to God. They are careful to minister to the necessities of these among them whose circumstances call for relief, not suffering any of their members to become a publick charge; they moreover chearfully pay their equal assessment with others, for the sup­port of the general poor. Nor have any other people mani­fested a greater desire and willingness to promote the welfare of civil society, by their liberality in contributing to the relief of the poor, and in attention to the care of them; and in the management of those institutions which have been established for the benefit of the community at large: For a considerable num­ber of years many of them were concerned with others in the legislative and executive part of civil government, wherein they manifested a firm attachment to the constitutional rights of the people; but as acting in these stations was attended with snares and temptations, it was the concern of their yearly meet­ing to excite such a watchful care against deviating from their christian, peaceable principles; and at length as the inhabitants became numerous, by emigrations from Europe and otherwise, and the holding public offices was attended with greater diffi­culty, services being required which interfered more immedi­ately with their religious principles, the yearly meeting advised their members to withdraw therefrom, perceiving that the seeking or accepting of offices in legislation or magistracy was dangerous, and frequently injurous to the individuals in a religious sense; more especially when sought for and accepted for the sake of the profits, emol­uments and worldly honours annexed to them, tending to [Page 36] debase the mind to the odious bondage of ambition and ava­rice.

IF upon observing the conduct of many who profess themselves members of this religious society, any should be offended at the great deviation, which appears in the practice of such from their principles as set forth in the foregoing account, they are desired to consider the frailty and corruption of the human heart in its fallen-state; its natural biass and attachment to the world, to its delights, its friendship and honours, and remember how repugnant these propensities are to the precepts and self-deny­ing example left us by our Lord; that the necessary charge of heart which the gospel proposes, is not gained by birth, but must be purchased by submission to, and an humble abiding un­der the cross of Christ. When this is duly weighed, it will not appear strange if the instances of defection are many; it was early the case amongst the believers in the primitive ages of christianity, when they grew numerous, and hath been the case in all religious-societies since that time. Nevertheless it is great cause of encouragement to the upright enquirer, that a large number of those people are mercifully preserved, in an eminent degree faithful to their first principles and doctrine, and upright in their life and conversation, who are living mon­uments of the efficacy and all-sufficient grace of God, as wit­nesses for him and for his truth and righteousness on earth.

They who are desirous of more full information respecting the doctrine and principles of this people, are referred to the writings of Robert Barclay, William Penn, C [...]orge Whitel [...]ad and others, by whom they are fully set forth, as also of late times by Joseph Phipps.

[Page 37]

Further Considerations on WAR.

THE temporal miseries and wrongs which are the sad ef­fects of war, are neither to be numbered nor expressed.—What theivery bears any proportion to that which with the boldness of drum and trumpet, plunders the innocent of all they have? and if themselves are left alive, with all their limbs, or their daughters unravished, they have many times only the ashes of their consumed houses to lye down upon.—What honour has war gotten, from its thousands and tens of hundreds of thousands of men slaughtered on heaps, with as little regret or concern as at loads of rubbish thrown into a pit—Who but the fiery dragon, would put a wreath, of laurel on such heroes heads. Who but he, could say unto them. Well done, good and faithful servants. But there is still an evil of war much greater, though less regarded, apparent to those who reflect, how many hun­dreds of thousands of men, born into this world, for no other end but that they may, by being born again of Christ, from sons of Adam's misery, became sons of God, and fellow-heirs with Christ, in everlasting glory; who reflects, I say, what name­less numbers of these are robbed of God's precious gift of life to them, before they have known the one sole benefit of living, who are not suffered to stay in this world, till age and experi­ence have helped them to know the inward voice and operation of God's spirit, have helped them to find and feel that evil, curse, and sting of sin and death, which must be taken from with­in them, before they can die the death of the righteous; who in­stead of this, have been either violently forced or tempted in the fire of youth, and full strength of sinful lusts, to forget God, eternity, and their own souls, and rush into kill or be killed, with as much furious haste and goodness of spirit, as tyger kills tyger for the sake of his prey. Amongst unfallen creatures in heaven, God's name and nature is love, light and glory—to the fallen sons of Adam, that which was love, light, and glory [Page 38] in heaven, becomes infinite pity and compassion on earth, in a God, cloathed with the nature of his fallen creature, bearing all its infirmities, entering into all its troubles, and in the meek innocence of a lamb of God; living a life and dying a death of all sufferings due to sin, Sing! O ye heavens! and shout all ye lower parts of the earth, for this is our God, that varies not, whose first creating love knows no change, but into a re­deeming pity towards all his fallen creatures. Look now at warring Christendom, what smallest drop of pity towards sin­ners is to be found in it? or how could a spirit, all hellish, more fully contrive and hasten their destruction; it stirs up and kin­dles every passion of fallen nature, that is contrary to all hum­ble, all-meek, all-loving, all-forgiving, all-saving spirit of Christ—it unites, it drives, and compells nameless numbers of unconverted sinners to fall murdering and murdered, amongst flashes of fire, with the wrath and swiftness of lightning, into a fire infinitely worse than that in which they died—O sad sub­ject for thanksgiving days, whether in popish or protestant churches; for if there is a joy of all the angels in heaven for one sinner that repenteth, what a joy must there be in hell, over such multitudes of sinners, not suffered to repent? And if they who have converted many to righteousness, shall shine as the stars in the firma­ment forever, what Chorazin woe may they not justly fear, whose proud wreath, and vain glory, have robbed such numberless troops of poor wretches, of all time and place of knowing what righteousness they wanted for the salvation of their immortal souls. * Here my pen trembles in my hand—But when, O! when [Page 39] will one single christian church, people, or language, tremble as the share they have in this death of sinners—Again, would you further see the fall of the universal church, from being led by the Spirit of Christ, to be guided by the inspiration of the great fiery dragon, look at all European Christendom failing round the globe, with fire and sword, and every murdering art of war, to seize the possessions and steal or kill the inhabitants of the Africa and the Indies—What natural right of man, what supernatural virtue, which Christ bro't down from heaven, is not here trodden under foot?—all that you ever read or heared of heathen barbarity, was here outdone by christian conquerors. What wars of christians against christians, blended with scalping heathens, have stained the earth and the seas with human blood, for a miserable share in the spoils of a plundered heathen world; a world which should have heard, or seen, or felt nothing from the followers of Christ, but a divine love that had forced them from distant lands, and through the perils of long seas, to visit strangers, with those glad tidings of peace and salvation, to all the world, which angels from heaven, and shep­herds on earth, proclaimed at the birth of Christ.

But to know whether christianity admits of war, christiani­ty is to be considered as in its right state; now the true state of the world, turned christian, is thus described by the great Gospel-prophet, who shewed what a change it was to make in the fallen state of the world; It shall come to pass, in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and all nations shall flow into it, and many people shall say, Let us go up to the mountain of the Lord's house, and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths, Isa. ii. 2. Now what follows from this going up of the nations to the mountain of the Lord's house, the holy prophet expressly tells you in the following words: They shall beat their swords into plow-shares, and their spears into pruning-hooks: nation shall not lift up its sword against nation, ☞ neither shall they learn war any more, Isa. ii. 4. Mic. iv. 3. This is the prophet's true Christendom, with one and the same essential divine mark se [...] [Page 40] upon it, as when the Lamb of God said, By this shall all men know, that ye are my disciples, if ye love one another, as I have loved you, John xiii. 34. Christ's kingdom is no where come, but where the works of the devil are destroyed, and men are turned from the power of satan unto God—God is only ano­ther name for the highest and only good, and the highest and only good means nothing else but love, with all its works. Would you farther see when and where the kingdoms of this fallen world are become a kingdom of God, the Gospel prophet tells you, that it is then and there where all enmity ceaseth. The wolf, saith he, shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lye down with the kid: the calf and the young lion, and the s [...]tling together, and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall feed, and their young ones shall lye down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice den—for they shall not hart and destroy in all my holy mountain, Isa. xi. 6. See here a kingdom of God on the earth; it is no­thing else but a kingdom of meer love, where all hurt and de­stroying is done away, and every work of enmity changed into one united power of heavenly love—but observe again and a­gain, whence this comes to pass, that God's kingdom on earth is, and can be nothing else, put the power of reigning love; the prophet tells us, it is because in the days of his kingdom the earth, shall be fall of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.

Hence we are enjoined, by our blessed Saviour, to pray for, and continually to watch over every suggestion of our corrupt minds, which may impede the accomplishment of these gracious promises: Thy kingdom come, thy will be done in earth, as is done in heaven. The frequent accounts we meet with in the Old Testament, of wars being carried on in the time of the law, gives no sanction to the same practice under the gospel; as this last dispensation is a wonderous display of divine benignity and love, pronouncing those only blessed, who are found in the actual possession of that poverty of spirit, that meekness and [Page 41] purity of heart, which was pointed out in types and cere­monies, under the law; hence the gospel dispensation is declar­ed to be the bringing in of a better hope, by which we draw nigh un­to God, Heb. vii. 19.

We are Christians, not Jews, and are therefore required to at­tend to the instruction and practice of our great and good ex­ampler, Jesus Christ, who was declared from heaven to be the beloved Son of God; and whose appearance on earth was usher­ed in by the angels and heavenly host, with a publication of peace on earth, and good will towards men. The prophecies which preceded our Saviour's coming, clearly pointed to the greater excellency of the dispensation, which was to take place when He, the peaceable Shiloh, the desire of nations should come, unto whom the gathering of the people was to be, Hag. ii. 7.

The primitive christians bore a testimony to the inconsistency of war with the gospel. Robert Barclay, in his Apology, says, ‘That this was the judgment of most (if not all) the ancient fathers, (so called) the first three hundred years after Christ. They affirmed the prophecies of Isa [...] and Micah, respecting the peaceable reign of the Messiah, to be fulfilled in the chris­tians of their time.* Many of the Reformers favoured the same sentiment, particularly John Wickliff; the first eminent instrument raised in opposition to the errors and corruptions then prevalent in the world; of whom we are told in the account of his life, ‘That he thought the whole trade of war was sinful.’

We find by the accounts we meet within John Fox's Acts and Monuments of the Church, that the same testimony against war [Page 42] was maintained amongst the followers of Wickliff. This ap­pears more particularly, from a representation, called Conclusi­ons and Reformations, laid before the parliament, by those first Reformers, the 17th of Richard the IId, in the year 1395, as mentioned vol. 1. p. 579. It farther appears from what John Fox calls, "The godly Declaration of Walter Brute;"of whose sufferings for the truth, he gives us a large account, at page 554. An extract of the said Walter's expressions, on that head, are as follows, viz.

‘I marvel why wise men, leaving the plain and manifest doc­trine of Christ, whereby he teacheth patience, do seek cor­ners of their own imagining, to the intent they may approve fightings and wars; why mark they not after what manner Christ spake to Peter, striking the high bishop's servant, say­ing, Put up the sword into the sheath; for every one that shall take the sword shall perish with the sword.

Again, ‘the apostle writing to the Corinthians, as touching judgment and contention, which are matter of less weight than are fightings; he writeth, Now verily there is great fault in you, that ye be at law amongst yourselves; why ra­ther take ye not wrong? why rather suffer ye not deceit. And that apostle generally in all his epistles, teacheth, that patience should be kept, and not corporal resistence by fight­ings, because charity is patient, it is courteous, it s [...]ffereth all things. I marvel how they justify, and make good the wars by christians, saving only the wars against the devil and sin. For seeing that it is plain, that those things which were in the Old Testament, were figures of things to be done in the New Testament, therefore we must needs say, that corporal wars being then done, were figures of the christian wars a­gainst sin and the devil, for the heavenly country, which is our inheritance.*

[Page 43] In the times which preceded our Saviour's appearance on earth, ‘every battle of the warrior was with the confused noise, and garments rolled in blood,’ but the warfare which was to be introduced by HIM, the Prince of Peace, of the increase of whose government there is to be no end, was to be "with burning and fuel of fire," * Isaiah ix. 5. to the destruction of the man of sin, the corrupt propensity of nature, and establishment of that purity of heart and universal love, which the gospel pro­poses.

The apostle tells the believers, Eph. vi. 12. ‘That they warred not after the flesh.’ 2 Cor. x. 4. ‘That the wea­pons of their warfare were not carnal, but mighty through God, to the pulling down the strong holds, casting down eve­ry imagination, and high thins which exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.’ It was by meekness and patient suffering, that our Saviour overcame and gave a deadly [Page 44] blow to sin; leaving us an example that we should follow his footsteps. ‘Learn of me, says this blessed Redeemer, for I am meek and low, and ye shall find rest to your souls. Blessed are the meek, and merciful, and those who hunger and thirst af­ter righteousness,’ (with this blessed promise) for they shall ‘be filled. Blessed are the peace-makers, for they shall be called THE CHILDREN OF GOD,’ Mat. v. And to his disci­ples, when he sent them to preach the Gospel, he says, ‘behold I send you as lambs amongst wolves.’ The evangelick prophet had a clear prospect of the abasement and sufferings of our Sa­viour, when he says, ‘He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he o­pened not his mouth; he is brought as a lamb to the slaugh­ter and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth,’ Isa. liii. 7.

The efficacy of this suffering spirit of Christ was contrary to the natural will, and a mystery to the reasoning part in man; ‘it was to the Jews a stumbling-block, and to the Greeks foolishness,’ and still remains a mystery to the ‘wisdom of the world,’ 1 Cor. 1.22.

Our Saviour himself, in the course of his precepts, clearly dis­tinguished the greater purity of the doctrine he was about to establish, from the imperfectness of that practised in the former dispensations; Mat. v. ‘Ye have heard that it hath been said to them of old times—an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth, but I say unto you, that ye resist not evil.’ Again: ‘Ye have heard that it hath been said, thou shall love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy, but I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you [Page 45] and persecute you, that ye may be the children of your Fa­ther which is in heaven.

Hence we have reason to believe, that the injunction and al­lowance granted to the Jews, of making war upon their ene­mies, and one upon another; was in consequence of that hard­ness of heart, which prevailed amongst them; and that this permission was granted from the same motive, as that mention­ed by our Lord, when the Jews were pleading the licence given them by Moses, to put away their wives and marry other women, Mark x. 5 ‘For the hardness of your hearts, Mo­ses wrote you this precept; but from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female—what therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder.’ This, as well as war, slavery, and other practices of the like nature, were a violence upon that union, purity and brotherly love, which subsisted in the beginning, in the original constitution of things, whilst man retained his primative innocency. And that the spilling of human blood was not acceptable in the eyes of perfect Purity, who the apostle denominates under the appellation of love, God is Love, appears from the prohibition laid upon king David, not to build an house unto God, on ac­count of his having been concerned in the destruction of so ma­ny of his fellow creatures, as himself declared, 1 Chron. xxii. 8. ‘The word of the Lord came to me, saying, Thou hast shed blood abundantly, and hast made great wars; thou shalt not build an house unto my name, because thou hast shed much blood upon the earth in my fight.’

That pious, learned man, bishop Taylor, chaplain to king Charles the 1st, in his dedication to his Discourse on the liberty of Prophesying, printed in London, 1702; appears to have had a clear prospect of what must be the genuine effect of the doc­trine and power, which our blessed Saviour came to communi­cate to mankind, even that inexpressible love, which breathing [Page 46] peace and goodwill to every individual, knows of no enemy; but, in Jesus Christ, embraces with brotherly affection, the whole creation. He expresses himself as follows at page 3. &c. ‘As contrary as cruelty is to mercy, tyranny to charity; so is wa [...] and bloodshed, to the meekness and gentleness of the christian religion. I had thought, says he, of the prophecy, That under the gospel, our swords should be turned into plow shares, and our spears into pruning hooks: I knew that no tittle spoken by God's Spirit, should return unperformed and ineffectual; and I was certain, that such was the excel­lency of Christ's doctrine, that if men would obey it, christi­ans should never war one against another.’

IF People had never seen War kindled in a Country and be­tween neighbouring Nations, they could hardly believe time men would be so inattentive to the dictates of Reason, the ten­der feelings of humanity and the more sublime nature and pre­cepts of the Gospel, * as deliberately to engage in battle for the destruction of each other. That loaded as men are with their own frailties and miseries, they should industriously labour to encrease them and contrive new ways for the ruin and slaugh­ter one of another. They have but a short and uncertain time to live, a work of the greatest importance to perform, and yet will not suffer those awful moments to pass away in peace. ‘Wars, says an Antient Father, are Spectacles by which the de­vil doth cruelly sport with Mankind.’ And Bishop Taylor well observes. ‘That as contrary as cruelty is to mercy; ty­ranny to charity, so is War and Bloodshed to the Meekness and [Page 47] Gentleness of the Christian Religion.’ The apostle James hath clearly answered the question with respect to the occasion of War [...]pap. iv. 1. ‘From whence came Wars and Fightings amongst you? come they not hence even of your lusts?’ How extreme then must be that corruption which produces so desperate an ef­fect. It is now several years since the hand of God has been lift­ed up in Judgment; great distress and sufferings have and still do attend us; multitudes of our Fellow-men have been hurried into Eternity, and yet the people do not appear humbled nor careful to inquire into the true cause. Sinners are chastised, and yet remain unconverted. Let us look no where else but in ourselves for the cause of our miseries; our Sins are our greatest Enemies and draw upon us all the rest. We fight against those we esteem our Foes, and instead of labouring to overcome our sins, we basely, yield to their temptations.

It is the Sighing and Supplications of the contrite hearted which God will hear, and when his anger is passed over, He will remember his former mercies. Let us, beloved Brethen, not forget our profession as Christians; nor the blessing promised by Christ to the Peace-makers but let all sincerely address our common Father for ability to pray, not for the destruction of our Enemies, who are still our Brethren, the Purchase of our bles­sed Redeemer's blood; but for an agreement with them. Nor in order to indulge our passions in the Gain and Delights of this vain World, and forget that we are called to be as Pilgrims and Strangers in it; but that we may be more composed and better sitted for the kingdom of God; that in the dispensations of his good pleasure he may grant us such a Peace, as may prove to the consolation of the Church, as well as the Nation, and be on earth an image of the tranquillity of Heaven.


A FEW SERIOUS Queries & Observations. Addressed to the high perfessors of religion in this day, by one who was long in the profession, but knew not the power; till it pleased the Lord, by the ministry and writings of the people called Quakers, to direct him to where alone the power is to he known, within.

IS it one who asserts to and believes certain facts, as recorded in holy writ, and forms certain principles and opinions thereup­on; producing perhaps a partial reformation, an abstaining from the grosser pollutions of sin, but denying the possibility of a total cleansing and freedom from sin in this world? Or is it one who knows not in word only, but in deed and in truth, a death unto sin, and a new birth unto righteousness; a being born again, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of man, but of God? For, says our blessed Lord, "except a man be born again, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." A man may know with Nicodemus, and confess, that Christ is a teach­er sent from God, he may be able to talk much about the doc­trines of the gospel, and fancy himself secure by imputation, but what has this to do with the new birth so essentially necessary? What can all his wisdom and understanding teach him. Nay, he cannot come into the new birth till all is parted with. The very nature of the thing implies a beginning again, a life as dif­ferent, from his former as light from darkness. ‘Ye were sometime darkness,’ says Paul, "but now are ye light in the Lord." Now he who knows this new birth, not a change [Page 49] of opinion, not a comprehending the truths of the gospel in his understanding, or joining this or that society, but who knows the thing itself; not the name, not the imaginations concerning it, but the nature, the life, the essence, will such a man be like what he was before.

The forerunner of our Lord expressly told his hearers; when preparing them for the gospel dispensation, ‘The axe is laid to the root of the trees, and every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down and cast into the fire.’ What tree and what root is there meant? Is it outward or inward? Who can answer that, but he who hath felt the axe, and the destruction in a measure of the corrupt tree? ‘His fan is in his hand, he adds, and he will thoroughly purge his floor;’ (mark "thoroughly,") what will remain then? that pro­fessors were concerned to know, and willing to part, with all that stands in the way, that they may know indeed what it is to be thoroughly purged, instead of denying the possibility of it; for it is a dreadful thing to oppose or deny the power of Christ.

Christ said, "Blessed are the pure in heart," but modern Christians, as they would be thought, say, There is no purity of heart, but it is and must remain deceitful above all things and desperately wicked? Again it is said, ‘who brings a clean thing out of an unclean?’ That the heart is naturally unclean as allowed, but hath not the Lord promised to cleanse his peo­ple from all their uncleannesses; mark all, what uncleanness will then remain? Some attempt to excuse themselves by what Paul once experienced; ‘The flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh; a law in the members warring against the law of the mind.’ That Paul once felt that, is allowed, but did he not after say, ‘There is no con­demnation to them that are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh but after the spirit,’ and did he not say, "The law of the spirit of life had made him free from the law [Page 50] of sin; and how could they who were dead unto sin live any longer therein?" Doth he not again say, ‘I am dead with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I, (not natural sinful self,) but Christ liveth in me?" "I will dwell in them, and walk in them, saith the Lord;’ and will the Lord dwell in an un­holy place? As soon would light dwell with darkness. Satan can indeed transform himself into an angel of light, yea, he, as God, sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. The imagining part in man is sure to be deceived, and wor­ship the appearance instead of the reality, for the worldby wis­dom, man by his natural or humanly acquired abilities, knew not, nor ever can know God. "If any man, says Paul, will be wise, let him first become a fool," that his old eye may be clos­ed, and the new eye which alone can discern the things of God, may be opened.

Again, Christ saith, ‘Be ye perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.’ But modern Christians, as they call themselves, say there is no such thing as perfection. O that they would consider whom they oppose by so saying.

Doth not Pa [...] desire those he was writing to, to cleanse themselves from all filthiness of flesh and spirit, perfecting holi­ness in the fear of the Lord; and pray that others may be perfect and complete in all the will of God? What does such plain express language mean? O the subtility of that serpent, who can reason and argue the true meaning away; and O the lamentable state of those who are so deceived by him, who are sitting down at ease, with the vain imagination that what Christ hath done, as they suppose for them, will be sufficient with­out experiencing the work in them; who having eyes see not, and ears hear not, in the true spiritual sense.

Again, Christ saith, "Swear not at all;" but modern Chri­stians say, We may swear in some cases. We will reason about Christ's words, and judge ourselves what they mean; how far they are to be obeyed or not. Tho' James says, "Above all things, my brethren, "swear not." But how it is; We may [Page 51] swear such and such oaths. O poor Christendom, how is thy gold become dim!

Again, Christ saith, "Whosoever he be of you that forsak­eth "not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple; but now Christians can keep all; their own wisdom, their own wills, the favour of the world, its riches and friendships, its fashions and customs; though our Lord saith, "Whoever is the friend of the world, is the enemy of God;" and Paul says, ‘If [...] please them, I am not the servant of Christ.’

A FEW REASONS For leaving the National Established Mode of Wor­ship, Addressed principally to those who attend at the place called ST. GILES's CHURCH, READING.

‘"Prove all things, hold fast that which is good," 1 Thes. v. 21.’

MY mind hath been much exercised, at times, since I seperated from your communion, with desires for your real ad­vancement in the spirit and power of that religion you make profession of; and being persuaded there are those among you who do really desire to know the truth, I feel a renewed concern to salute these, in a degree, I hope, of true gospel love; and to offer to your serious consideration, the reasons which induced me to separate from your society. And truly, Friends, there were many ties, which nearly united me to you; and very unwilling [Page 52] I was for a considerable time, to believe that those things I had been engaged in, and so highly esteemed, were not what they had appeared to be; but, as I earnestly desired to know the truth, whatever it might cost me, I felt the axe laid to the root of the tree, and the fine buildings and plausible appearan­ces were shaken. I became sensible, that the tree must first be made good, before the fruit could be good; a doctrine essenti­ally different from what I had heard of men, even of men highly esteemed; by whom I was taught, that deliverance from sin is not to be expected in this life; and was hearing, day after day, the uniform acknowledgement of 'being miserable sinners, hav­ing no health,' &c. which I found by the manifestations of that spirit which "is given to every man to profit withal," 1 Cor. xii. 7, and which discovers the secret things of darkness, to be not agreeable, but contrary, to the scriptures of truth; which expressly declare, that the great Author of the gospel dispen­sation "came to save his people from their sins," Matt. 1.21, and not in them: a very essential difference. This I believe must be experimentally known, feeling sin to be the great dis­ease of the soul, the alone cause of separation from the most High, in whom alone true happiness is found. I was sensible that while sin remained, the separation must continue, there being "no communion between light and darkness, righteous­ness and unrighteousness; 2. Cor. vi. 14, nor could that gracious promise be fulfilled, "I will dwell in them, and walk in them, I will be their God, and they shall be my people;" 2 Cor vi. 16, for the apostle says, "ye are the temple of God, and the temple of God is holy." 1 Cor. iii. 17.

Further, John the Baptist who was sent to prepare the way of the Lord, describing the nature and effects of his master's kingdom, says "Now (mark now) is the axe laid to the root of the tree; every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down and cast into the fire." Mat. iii 10. This is a language surely implying a complete, effectual cleansing from all the pollutions of sin, even now in this life. Our Lord himself uni­formly, in all his discourses, inculcated this doctrine. In that [Page 53] most excellent sermon on the Mount, Matt. v. 6.7, he insists on the necessity of a righteousness superior to that of the law; for says he, "except your righteousness exceed the righteous­ness of the Scribes and Pharise [...] [...] no case enter in­to the kingdom of heaven." What language can be plainer? And that he did not mean an imaginary, merely imputed right­eousness, as I fear, many vainly suppose, is evident from the conclusion; where he draws the comparison between those who hear, and do his sayings, and them who hear and do them not; thereby fully establishing the possibility of doing them▪ And if due attention is paid to every part of that discourse, I think it must be obvious, that they who are of the happy number, who not only hear, but do those sayings; and who our Lord li­kens to a building upon a rock, on which they are able to withstand all opposition; will not be miserable sinners, doing what they ought not to do, having no health in them; &c. but will know a righteousness wrought in them far superior to that of the law. For, as the law, the outward law, written on ta­bles of stone, took cognizance of outward actions; the law of Christ, written, as the apostle says, in the fleshly tables of the heart, reaches to the root, and source of action; for, whereas the law said, "Thou shalt not kill," Christ forbids being an­gry without cause. Again, the law said, "Thou shalt not com­mit adultery;" Christ forbids lust, thus striking at the root. The cause being removed, the consequence or effect must una­voidably be done away. Once more, the law said, "Thou shalt love thy neighbour and hate thine enemy; an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth." Christ says, "Resist not evil, love your enemies, do good to them that hate you;" with much more of like import, which many who profess to follow him, seem to pay very little attention to; as though it was an indifferent matter, whether they do them or not. But it may be well for such to consider whether our Lord would have said, "Be ye perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is per­fect," if he did not mean that they should be so; and whether they who do as he there exhorts, will not be perfect. I can­not [Page 54] conceive how it is possible to deduce any other inference without grossly wresting the scripture "Ye are my friends," said he at another time, ‘if ye do whatsoever I have command­ed you.’ John xv. 14. ‘He that loveth me keepeth my commandments,’ John xiv. 21. "Not every one that saith unto me Lord, Lord, (that call me master and honour me with their lips,) shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of my Father, which is in heaven." Matt. vii. 21. "If ye know these things happy are ye if ye do them," John xiii. 17. For if the simple belief of Christ's sufferings, resurrection, &c. be sufficient to save; to what purpose was all his discourses, wherein he repeatedly insists upon the necessity of regeneration, a being born again; which certainly implies something more than a change of opinion, a persuasion of the judgment, and a partial reformation? For as he said to Nicode­mus, "That which is born of the flesh, is flesh, and that which is born of the spirit, is spirit," John iii. 6. it obviously follows, that they who are really born of the spirit, will be of the same nature as the spirit. "Old things will be passed away, and all things become new, and all of God," 2 Cor. v. 17. "A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump," Luke xiii. 21. "New wine must be put into new bottles." Mark ii. 22; with many other similitudes, plainly implying the necessity of a total effec­tual change. Again to confirm this great and necessary truth of freedom from sin, he says to his disciples, "if ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed, and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free," and, to reprove their carnal ideas of a temporal outward freedom, he adds, "He that committeth sin, is the servant of sin," and "If the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed," John viii 31. &c. That this freedom from sin, even from the power, as well as the guilt, is to be known in this life, is certified again, by his saying of those who die in their sins, "Whither I go, ye cannot come," John viii. 21. Now if deliverance from sin is not known in this life, we must of necessity die in our sins. Therefore it matters not what knowledge a man hath, what is [Page 55] his faith, or what profession he hath made, if he hath not known deliverance from sin. This is a point so important, and a mistake therein liable to such baneful consequences, that I am induced to dwell upon it: knowing from my own experience, how pre­vailing is the contrary opinion. Nor is it strange, that people should prefer and indulge the notion of the possibility of deli­verance from the guilt and punishment of sin, without the pow­er thereof being subdued. We naturally love ease, an ease which the cross of Christ is decidedly against. So close does it apply, that it is, in our Lord's own words, as cutting off a right hand, and plucking out a right eye. Matt. vi. 29.30. "Who soever," says he, again and again, "doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple," Luke xiv. 27. The apostle bears testimony to this important truth, where he says "They that are Christ's, have crucified the flesh with its affec­tions and lusts." Gal. v. xxiv. Surely if lusts and affections, the very root and seed of sin, are slain, what can remain there­of? In another place he says, "How shall we that are dead to sin live any longer therein?" Rom. vi. 2. Another apostle says, Whosoever is born of God, doth not commit sin, for his seed remaineth in him, and he cannot sin, because he is born of God." 1 John iii. 9.

I have produced a few plain passages of scripture, to shew the ground or cause of my separation; that deliverance from sin, a being cleansed from all defilement thereof in this life, is not only possible, but indispensibly necessary; and that the contra­ry doctrine is fundamentally erroneous; as it sets up the sha­dow instead of the substance, an imaginary, instead of a real holiness. I may probably make some more observations on this most important point, as I proceed. I shall now offer a few remarks on some of the services usually performed; com­paring them also with the scriptures of truth, which most pro­fessors acknowledge to be the standard or rule; from which comparison they clearly appear to me, not to be what many call them, means of grace and ordinances of God; but the mere inventions of man, set up in his own fallen wisdom, as a substi­tute [Page 56] for the life and power, which were lost in a long dark night of apostacy: not the true worship of God, but such bodily exer­cise as the apostle says, "profiteth little, 1 Tim. iv. 8. For be it remembered, the great Author of the gospel dispensation expressly declared, "that the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth," John iv. 23. And the apos­tle confirms it, by saying, "We know not what we should pray for, as we ought; but the spirit helpeth our infirmities and maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered, Rom. vii. 26. Therefore, as this necessary assistance is not at our command, for people to pretend to worship the Most High in a prescribed form, or in the studied or extempore pro­ductions of their own natural or acquired abilities, in their own wills, and their own time, without waiting to feel the influences and movings of the Holy Spirit, in and through which alone true worship can be performed, appears to me to be nothing better, whatever it may be called, than will-worship. The scriptures also repeatedly mention a growing in grace, 2 Pet. iii. 18, a going on unto perfection, Heb. vi. [...] How inconsistent then is the repeated uniform acknowledgment, "We are miserable sinners, doing what we ought not to do, having no health in us," &c? Doth it not obviously confess, if the truth is spoken, that no benefit hath been received, notwithstanding the frequent (as it is pretended) waiting upon the Lord? But if it is true, as the scriptures declare, that Christ came to 'save his people from their sins;' they who make that confession, acknowledge they are not of that number; for if they are miserable sinners, they certainly are not saved from their sins, however they may attempt to reconcile so plain a contradiction. This is a lan­guage not confined to a particular part of the service; the in­consistency of the whole appears equally obvious; as at one time confessing their sins and wickednesses; then called upon to ad­dress the most High, with pure, humble, penitent, and obedient hearts; one while returning thanks for creation, preservation and redemption; again acknowledging having erred and strayed like lost sheep; desiring to shew forth his praise not only with [Page 57] their lips, but in their lives, by giving themselves up to his service, and walking before him in holiness and righteousness all their days; but still miserable sinners, doing what they ought not to do, &c. Can this running backwards and forwards, one time saying one thing, another time quite the contrary, be acceptable service to that God, who searcheth the heart, tri­eth the r [...]ins, and requireth truth in the inward parts? Again, in repeating the experiences of the royal Psalmist, how is it pos­sible but many gross falsehoods must be expressed? For if the words of the mouth do not express the real experimental lan­guage of the heart, however excellent they may be yet they are to those who utter them, not the language of truth but of falsehood. I should hope a little serious consideration will con­vince of this.

Again, respecting the custom or practice of singing, I have a few observations to make. How inconsistent is it, that they who have just before been confessing their misery and wretch­edness, should appear so quickly and easily to forget all, and be­gin singing. Surely it seems evidently to declare, they were not sincere in their acknowledgments, or that they think it of very little consequence whether their prayers are answered or not. Besides, not only the manner to me appears absurd and inconsistent: but the matter in many quite contrary to truth, and to what has been just before openly avowed. I could spe­cify many instances in every collection I have seen, but I wish people to search for themselves. Surely this is trifling with serious things. I am fully persuaded that the common practice of singing is only calculated to amuse the creature, to please the outward ear; whatever may be pretended of its warming the heart and kindling devotion. And if those who practise it would be honest and candid, I am of opinion they would be constrained to acknowledge that amusement is the chief object; or why so pleased with tunes and music? Can it for a moment be supposed, that the Almighty is to be pleased with such su­perficial [Page 58] conduct? Surely not, And with respect to its kindling devotion, it may be well to remember what is said of those, "who kindle a fire, and encompass themselves about with sparks; they may walk in the light thereof, but they shall lie down in sorrow," Isa. l. 11. I readily admit what is advanced to defend this custom, that our Lord and his disciples, the night before he suffered, sang a hymn, but what or how we are not informed; no doubt the matter and manner were both proper and seasonable; and that Paul and Silas, in prison, "sang praises to the Lord," I believe; but I cannot conceive what argument can be deduced from thence for the present custom of singing whatever may be given out, suitable or not, whether praise, profession, acknowledgment or petition. I fully believe this outward inconsiderate singing is very different from that recom­mended by the apostle, "Singing with the spirit, and with the understanding, 1 Cor. xiv. 15. "Singing and making melody in your hearts to the Lord," Eph. v. 19. And I also believe, that the true source of praise, even a greatful sense of the Lord's mercies, can be more consistently expressed than in outward jingle and sound.

Indeed, my friends, I fear you are, many of you, agreeably to your own confession, in a miserable condition. Suffer me to prevail upon you to consider, whether your continuing year after year miserable sinners, is not the consequence of your prayers not being heard; and let a concern arise to en­quire, whether you have been seeking aright or not: for our Lord promised plainly and expressly, "that they who seek shall find," Matt. vii. 5. Now, what have they found, who continue as they acknowledge, 'miserable sinners having no health in them &c? Do they not rather confess that the means they have used are insufficient to cleanse and heal them; that they have not rightly applied to the great physician, to the balm of Gilead, "to that tree, whose leaves are for the healing of the nations; but have been spending their money for that which is not bread, and their Labour for that which satis­fieth not; instead of hearkening diligently unto the Lord, and eating that which is good;" Isa. lv. 2. that true bread of life, [Page 59] which our Lord said, "whosoever eat thereof should live fore­ver?" John vi. 58. It may be well to have recourse to these means before the possibility of cure is denied; lest they thereby deny the power of God, that he is not able to "cast out the strong man armed, who keepeth his palace and his goods in peace," Luke xi 21. I think I need not add, who is there meant by the strong man armed, where is his palace, and what are his goods. The apostle speaks of some, "who had a form of godliness but denied the power thereof." 2 Tim. iii. 5. Now, it may be well to consider, in what can the power of godli­ness be known, but in dominion over its adversary, which is sin. And do not they who deny the possibility of sins being subdued, deny the power of godliness? A serious consideration may not be unprofitable. I have often admired, that those who plead for sin pretend highly to value the scriptures, and say, 'the scriptures is the rule;' whereas the scriptures uniformly insist upon the necessity of holiness; not an imaginary holiness, but a real purity of heart and of life. "Without holiness," said the apostle, "no man shall see the Lord." Heb. xii. 14. "Be ye holy in all manner of conversation, because it is written, Be ye holy for I am holy," 1. Pet. i. 15. "Present your bodies, (mark, your bodies) a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service," Rom. xii. 1. They talk much of the blood of Christ; it is a subject often in the mouth, but what of the nature and effects of it is known, let their own acknowledgments testify. The apostle declares it cleanseth from all sin," 1 John i. vii. Now how those who continue 'miserable sinners, doing what they ought not to do,' &c can be cleansed from all sin, let the considerate judge.

It is with me now, to answer some objections to this impor­tant truth; and to remark on some passages of scripture, which those who deny the possibility of sin being subdued, endeavour to cover themselves with. First, that 'The heart of man is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked, who can [Page 60] know it?' Jer. xvii. 9. That the heart of every man, of every natural unregenerate man, is truely so, I firmly believe: but be it remembered that the Lord promised to give his people a new heart and a new spirit: Ezek. xxxvi. 26. And dare any one say, that heart is deceitful and wicked? O, beware of de­preciating the gift of God. "Blessed are the pure in heart' saith our Lord, for they shall see God." Matt. v. 8. "A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit." Mark vii. 18. "The seed on the good ground are they who in an honest and good heart, hav­ing heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with pati­ence." Luke viii. 15. For now, in the gospel dispensation, the axe is laid to the root of the tree, Matt. iii. 10. What is the root of the tree there alluded to but the heart, from whence words and actions have their birth? "Thou blind Pharisee," said Christ, "cleanse first that which is within the cup and the platter, that the outside may be clean also" Matt. xxiii. 26. And do they not in the sta [...]ed form, pray that God, 'would cleanse the thoughts of their hearts, by the inspiration of his holy spi­rit" a most excellent petition; but what is it in those who use it and yet deny the possibility of its being answered, but a so­lemn mockery? For if the thoughts of the heart are really cleansed, there can be no sin, for sin defiles and pollutes the heart.

Another objection, is the language of the apostle, where he speaks of 'a law in his members warring against the law of his mind, and bringing him into captivity to the law of sin, and that in his flesh dwelt no good thing, Rom. vii. That the a­postle once was in that state, I think, is beyond a doubt; and that every real Christian experiences a similar, till the strong man armed is cast out, and the old leaven purged away. But that he was so at the time of waiting it, [...]o me appears by no means credible, from what he has written just before and after; or he must grossly contradict himself, which will hardly be allowed? but rather that he was describing the effects of the law upon the carnal unregenerate mind: for he says, "The [Page 61] law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin." Now can it be supposed that the apostle was then carnal? &c. Surely not, For just after, he says. 'the carnal mind is enmity against God, and 'to be carnal minded is death.' chap. viii. 6.7. and that "they who are in the flesh cannot please God;" but he adds, "Ye are not in the flesh, but in the spirit, if the spirit of God dwell in you; and if any man have not the spirit of Christ, he is none of his." It consequently follows, that if the apostle was then in a carnal state, he was none of Christ's, but at enmity against God. A little before, he says, "Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroy­ed, that henceforth we should not serve sin: for he that is dead is freed from sin, " chap. vi. 6.7. And in the 2nd verse, "How shall we that are dead to sin, live any longer therein." And in the 22nd verse, "Being made free from sin, and become ser­vants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end e­verlasting life."

Now let this plain language, both before and after, written no boubt at the same time, determine whether the apostle was then in a carnal unregenerate state or not. And though he elsewhere says, "Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect;" Phil. iii. 10. I think it in no respect fa­vours the construction many put upon it, that the apostle was then in a sinful state, but rather makes against them, as it plain­ly condemns the notion, of being perfectly and for ever justifiable by mere imputation, and evinces the danger of sitting down at ease, resting satisfied with an imaginary justification. For in another place, speaking of the Christian progress, he says, though he did not run as uncertainly, or fight as one that beateth the air, yet he found it necessary to keep under his body and bring it into subjection, or there was a danger, notwithstanding he had preached to others, of his being still a cast away, 1 Cor. ix. 26, 27. Another objection is, the same apostle says, "By grace ye are saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves? it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast." Eph. ii. 8, 9. In answer to which, I believe it is very necessary to [Page 62] distinguish between the works of man, which he does in his own will and strength, and those works which are wrought of God. Perhaps it is not rightly knowing this distinction that people cry out against works us though they were all a self-righteousness. The works of man, of the unrenewed carnal mind, yea the best of them, are as filthy rags; but I think there should be a great care not to join the works of God (those which he worketh in his people) with man's own works; for in the next verse the apostle says, "Ye are his workman­ship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained, that we should walk in them." That it is by grace, I believe, no real Christian will deny, but will, with humble gratitude in all his progress, acknowledge with the a­postle, "by the grace of God I am what I am," 1 Cor. xv, 10. This grace the same apostle declared, hath appeared to all men, (mark that, not to any particular part) and teaches, that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world. He does not say (it teaches) we must continue in sin, "What," says he in another place, "shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound, God forbid," Rom. vi. 1. That it is also through faith, who will deny? for "without faith it is im­possible to please God," Heb. xi, 6. But the apostle speaks of a dead faith, James ii. 17. of a faith the devils have, verse 19. The true faith, he says, worketh by love, Gal. v. 6. purifieth the heart, Acts xv. 9. and overcometh the world, 1 John v. 4. Now what faith have those, who say, they are 'tied and bound with the chain of their sins, that they are miserable sinners, having no health in them" &c. The tree is known by its fruit.

Again, the words of our Lord, when upon the earth in the days of his flesh, to those whom he had healed of their dis­eases, are pleaded in excuse for continuing in sin, as "Thy faith hath saved thee, thy faith hath made thee whole, &c. But be it remembered, that those to whom he said so were com­pletely cured, received 'perfect soundness;' and, I believe, [Page 63] there is a remnant at this day, who witness the same works, spiritually accomplished by the powerful operation of the same word in the heart, even a being made whole, a being [...] of the great disease of sin, prefigured by the various cures performed on the bodies of the people.

Once more, another argument adduced is where the apostle says, "If we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us," 1 John i. 8. But a due attention to what follows, I think will clearly explain, that the apostle does not favour the idea that he was then in that state; for he adds, 'if we say we have sinned,' plainly alluding to time past, and conti­nues, "if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness;" and as all unrighteousness is sin, chap. v. 16. they who are cleansed from all, surely [...] have none remaining. It is the sincere de­sire of my mind, that the people would consider for them­selves, and not take things of such importance upon trust, but attend to the advice of the apostle, "Let every man prove his own work, then shall he have rejoicing in himself, and not in another, for every man shall bare his own burden." Gal. vi. 4, 5. "Be not deceived," he adds just after, "God is not mocked; whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he reap," what­ever be his opinion, knowledge or faith. And in another place he says, though he had all knowledge, could understand all mys­teries, though he had all faith, even to remove mountains, yet he might be as nothing, 1 Cor. xiii. 2. Therefore it might be well to have a care of talking so highly of the scriptures, while the life and conversation is not agreeable thereto; and remember the words of our Lord to some of old, "Search the scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life; and they are they which testify of me, and ye will not come unto me that ye might have life," John v. 39.40. From which it appears, and is worthy the most serious attention, that those who had the scriptures and valued them, as to think they had eternal life in them, yet they would not come unto Christ, of whom they testified; and "who was and is alone the life as [Page 64] well as the light of men," John i. 4. Therefore it may be well to take care of putting the letter, the testimony, the decla­ration, concerning an object, for the object itself; for our Lord did not say the scriptures is the way; but "I am the way, the truth, and the life, and no man cometh unto the Father but by me," John xiv. 6. And learn the difference between the let­ter, the outward word, and the word that was in the beginning, John i. 1, before the scriptures, "the word high in the mouth, and in the heart;" Rom. x. 8, "which is quick and powerful, sharper than a two-edged sword, dividing asunder soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart, before whom all things are naked and open," Heb. iv. 12. and of whom, as I before observed, the scriptures testify; and without whose all powerful aid they re­main a dead letter, a sealed book. The apostle declared, the things of God can only be known but by the Spirit of God, 1 Cor. ii. 11. They are foolishness to the natural man. There­fore I think we should be careful how we attempt to compre­hend the truths, which are contained in the scriptures by our own understandings; but rather be willing, as the apostle re­commends, to become fools, that we may be truely wise, 1 Cor. iii. 18.

I would now offer a few remarks on those two ordinances or ceremonies, Baptism and the Lord's Supper as they are cal­led.

With respect to the first, as practised by those I more parti­cularly address myself to, little need be said; as sprinkling in­fants is not even an imitation of true baptism, has no relation to it whatever, nor do I believe, can there be found a single precept or example for it in any of the scriptures of truth. I am well persuaded it is, like many other things of the kind, a mere po­pish invention, in the times of darkness and apostacy, as a sub­stitute for the reality; not in any one respect calculated to answer any good purpose whatever. It may be well seri­ously to consider a language used at that ceremony, that 'this child is regenerate, and grafted into the body of Christ's [Page 65] church;' and in the catechism respecting it, that 'he is therein made a member of Christ, a child of God, and an inheritor of the kingdom of Heaven.' Now let every considerate person solemnly ask himself, whether he really believes such effects are really produced by it. If it is possible that any one can think so, his ideas of regeneration, and Christ's church also, differ very widely from mine.

Let it be considered also, what people are taught to promise at this ceremony: To renounce the devil and all his works, the pomps and vanities of this wicked world, and all the sin­ful lusts of the flesh; to keep God's holy will and command­ments, and to walk in the same all the days of their lives.' Are they not here required to promise what is believed and confessed to be impossible to perform; for surely if it was per­formed, they would not 'be miserable sinners, doing what they ought not to do,' &c.

That baptism is necessary, absolutely necessary, for every member of Christ's church, I fully believe; but I believe, no application of water, even when rightly imitated, is the one true baptism. It is not the putting away the filth of the flesh, which is all outward elementary water can do, but the bap­tism of the Holy Ghost and of Fire,' Matt iii. 11, even a being baptized in the name, that is nature, of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, thereby experiencing the consuming of the earth­ly part in themselves, and a being cleansed and purified from all filthiness of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of the Lord; for the apostle says, "As many as are baptized into Christ, have put on Christ, "Gal. iii. 27. not imaginarily, but really; and being buried with him, by this spiritual baptism into death, even a death unto sin: that "like as Christ was raised from the dead; by the glory of the Father, so they also will walk in the newness of life," Rom. vi 4. And again, If any man be in Christ he is a new creature, old things are passed away, all things become new, and all of God:" 2 Cor. v. [Page 66] 17. and if all of God, there can be no sin, for "sin is of the de­vil, and not of God." 1 John iii. 8.

With respect to that other ceremony, called the Lord's Sup­per, notwithstanding I am sensible of the deep rooted prejudice in favour of it, I feel no discouragement: under a belief that a glorious day is dawning, when clouds and shadows, signs and appearances, shall give place to reality, to the pure essential substance. I am perfectly satisfied in mine own mind respecting it, and will endeavour to give my reasons, why I believe it is not of that consequence or obligation many fix upon it.

That our Lord, the night before he suffered, took bread and brake it, and gave to his disciples, as also the cup, I believe; and that he said, this do in rememberance of me; but that he en­joined it to be an ordinance I cannot find. I presume it will be allowed to be a part of the feast of the Jewish passover, as our Lord said, "With desire, I have desired to eat this passover with you, before I suffer," Luke xxii. 10. and which was a re­markable type or figure of Christ, who was the very Paschal Lamb, the substance or antitype itself. That the bread and wine, as a part of the passover, represented the body and blood of Christ, to be broken and shed for the remission of sins, I presume will also be allowed. Now as there is certainly a very essential difference between the sign and the thing signi­fied, let us consider a little, which is of most consequence, or whether both are of obligation. I expect none to whom I ad­dress myself will deny, that Christ was and is really the sub­stance and antitype of every type and figure, under the Mo­saic ceremonial dispensation. This then being one of those fi­gures representing the death of Christ; the substance being come, the type fulfilled, what need of the shadow; why not give place, as others are acknowledged to do? The apostle, writ­ing to some, remarks, "As often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death, till he come." 1 Cor. xi. 26. But this I think, by no means implies that it was an enjoined ordinance, but rather, that those to whom he was writing, continued in the use or observance of the Jewish passover [Page 67] This I think, cannot appear improbable, when it is con­sidered, that for a time it was taught by some of the disciples, that "it was needful to be circumcised, and to keep the l [...]w of Moses," Acts xv. 5. of course this among the rest. There­fore it appears to me, that they, as yet, knew not, in a spiritu­al sense, the coming of Christ; that is, his spiritual appearance in their hearts: an inference which seems to be confirmed by what is recorded of some, who had been baptized with John's baptism, that is of water, yet had not so much as heard whe­ther there were an Holy Ghost, Acts xix 2. the promised mode of his coming again, John xvi. 7. Again, the apostle says, speak­ing unto wise men, no doubt spiritually wise, "The cup of blessing we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?" 1 Cor. x. 15.16. Can it be supposed that he here alludes to outward bread and wine? for if he did, all who par­take of that ceremony, let them be who they may, or what they may, have communion with Christ. Surely that would be join­ing light and darkness, Christ and Belial, righteousness and un­righteousness together, in direct opposition to the same apo­stle's plain declaration to the same people. 2. Cor vi. xv. He says again, "Ye cannot drink of the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils; ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table, and the table of devils." 1 Cor. x. 20. Now it is very ob­vious, that any can partake of the outward bread and wine, therefore that cannot be the cup and table of the Lord. Again, what is recorded of the disciples breaking bread from house to house, Acts ii. 24, I think by no means implies such a ceremony, but rather a social way of living among them­selves; as it is said, they had all things common verse 44 and, from what immediately follows, "did eat their meat with glad­ness and singleness of heart," verse 46, plainly alluding to their common meals. It is also I think, very observable, that when the apostles were assembled at Jerusalem, to consider what was necessary to be enjoined to the believing Gentiles, this cere­mony [Page 68] was not even mentioned: which had it been necessary, would sure not have been omitted, considering the things which were then enjoined; most of which have since been laid aside, Acts xv. 20. But our Lord's own words appear to me decidedly to discountenance the outward sign; as where he emphatically calls himself the "Bread of Life." "That his flesh is meat indeed, and his blood drink indeed, and that who­soever ate and drank it had eternal life." John vi. 46, &c. And to reprove their carnal ideas of outward eating and drink­ing, verse 52. and to direct their minds to the spiritual allusi­on, he adds, "What, and if you shall see the Son of Man as­cend up where he was before," verse 62, how will ye eat him then, not in outward bread and wine, "it is the spirit that quickeneth, the flesh (or outward food) profiteth nothing."

I believe there are among those whom I address myself to, such as are sensible of the necessity of this spiritual communion, and are truly desirous to partake thereof. Far be it from me to wound any of these. I do tenderly salute them, and feel a degree of unity with the least appearance of the true seed of the kingdom: I would not hurt the lead plant of the Lord's own right hand planting. However some little differences may ap­pear, yet let me say to these in a spirit of love and unity, as this is acknowledged to be but a sign or token, why is this con­tinued, when others of equal authority and obligation are dis­pensed with? For instance, that of circumcision, which our Lord submitted to, Luke ii. 21; and which for a time, even after his ascension, was enjoined by his disciples as I before quoted; Why this laid aside? It may perhaps be answered, this sign according to the apostle's definition of it, represented the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, Col. ii 11. I fully believe it did, and as it is equally true that bread and wine is also a sign, there appears to me not a shadow of a reason why the one should be continued in preference to the other: the thing signified by both being of equal obligation.

[Page 69] Again, it is worthy of observation that the beloved disciple John, in his relation, makes not the least mention of this cere­mony; but is very particular in giving an account of our Lord's washing his disciples feet. Why is not this ceremony observed, as it appears to be more particularly enjoined than the other? For says Christ "Ye call me Master, and Lord and ye say well, for so I am; if I then your Lord and Master have wash­ed your feet, ye ought also to wash one another's feet, for I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done unto you" John xiii. 13. Now where can there be found so strong an injunction for the other, that of bread and wine? If it is answered, that was a sign or figure to teach humility and love to each other which I readily admit it was. I think it is necessary to prove, that the other is somewhat more than a sign, to sup­port its continuance in preference; which I expect will hard­ly be attempted. That it was not practised or observed as an ordinance by the apostles, I think evidently appears from the whole tenor of their writings. Paul reproves some for being subject to ordinances. "Touch not, taste not, handle not," says he, "which all are to perish with the using." Col. ii. 20. and doth not outward bread and wine perish with the using? The apostle well knew the true living bread is not of a perish­able nature. Again, he says, "Let no man judge you in meat and in drink, or in respect to the holy day, new moon, or the sab­bath, which" he adds, "are a shadow of things to come, but the body, (the substance) is of Christ, verse 16. In another place he says, "The kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but righteousness and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost." Rom. xiv. 17. And to some others he said "I am afraid of you, left I have bestowed on you labour in vain," because af­ter they had known God, had tasted somewhat of the substance, they turned again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereun­to they desired again to be in bondage. Gal iv 9. "Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years." verse 10, said he, which he had declared to be but shadows of good things; and I fear the same language is too applicable to many, who make a very high profession in this day.

[Page 70] From what I have observed on this subject, I think to an un­prejudiced mind, it must appear that the true supper of the Lord is an inward, spiritual communion. "Behold," says Christ, "I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me," Rev. iii. 20; and that the outward bread and wine, was nothing more than a part of the Jewish ce­remonial dispensation; neither commanded to, nor practised generally by, the Gentiles in the apostle's days. For, I would just add, if it is a necessary ordinance; if in other words, it is what by many it is asserted to be, the effects of it would be e­vident; for our Lord said, "Whosoever ate his flesh and drank his blood, had eternal life." Now I presume no one to whom I now address myself, will impute such an effect to outward bread and wine; therefore it cannot be the Lord's supper. We no where read of two suppers. The difference between the sign and thing signified, the shadow and the substance, I be­lieve many are in a degree sensible of; and as the substance, the reality is to be partaken of, yea absolutely necessary; (for said our Lord, "Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, ye have no life in you;" John vi. 53.) and as I before observed we read of but one supper of the Lord; surely it is of consequence rightly to know which is indeed the true supper.

I have no doubt but there are those who in sincerity and up­rightness of heart continue in the use of the sign; far be it from me to judge [...]ese. I have only a caution to give in love, that where these signs are regarded, it may be as to the Lord, and and not unto men. See Rom xiv. 6. I fully believe religion doth not consist in observing, or not observing, outward cere­monies. For as the apostle says, "In Christ Jesus, neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but a new creature;" Gal. vi. 15. It is not a name, a profession, or any outward observance; but I am not without a fear that many regard them as to men, and are in bondage unto them, and so settled down at ease in them, that they will hardly hear [Page 71] the least objection to them. Such perhaps must be left for [...] time: however, I have given some of my reasons for absenting myself from your communion, and why I believe the worship there performed, is not the worship which the Lord requireth; that it is not agreeable, but contrary to, the Scriptures; that it is not the means of grace, and ordinance of God" but the in­vention and imagination of man; that it is wrong in principle and in practice; in principle, because you are taught you must not expect deliverance from sin in this life, whereas the scriptures testify the contrary; in practice, because you worship in your own wills, and teach for doctrines the commandments of men, which our Lord testified against; Mark vii. 7: yea in an unre­generate state, according to your own confession, for a sinner is not regenerate. Therefore, what I have heard among you, that your best services are polluted, is strictly true; for while you yourselves are in the polluted state, all your performances are polluted also. "For who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean; not one," Job xiv. 4; but it may be well to re­member, it stands an unchangeable truth, "That the sacrifices of the wicked are an abomination to the Lord," Prov. xxi. 27. and though we may amuse ourselves with the vain idea that all is well, I do assuredly believe, that to offer any acceptable sacrifice or service, we must know, experimentally know, a being washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the spirit of our God. 1 Cor. vi. 11. Therefore remember a language of old to some who had no health in them, but were unsound from head to foot, as many confess they now are. "To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices," v. 12. "Bring no more vain oblations, incense is a­bomination to me, the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies I cannot away with, it is iniquity even the solemn meeting. When you spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes, yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear." ver. 13, 14. And consider the exhortation to them, "Wash ye, make ye clean, put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes: cease to do evil, learn to do well," &c. ver. 16. Then it is added, "Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall [Page 72] be white as snow: though they be red like crimson they shall be as wool. If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land; but if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be de­voured with the sword: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it." ver. 18. Oh, how awful is this denunciation now fulfill­ing around us! It is the fervent breathing of my spirit, that this highly professing, much favoured nation, who have been calling abundantly upon the Lord with their mouths and ho­nouring him with their lips, may avert the impending st [...]oke, by truly humbling themselves before him? and as his judgments are in the earth, may indeed learn righteousness, [...]fa. xxv. 9.

I know, friends, from a degree of experience, that there are many and various appearances signs and shadows, set up a­mong professing Christians; some of which I have pointed out. I now wish to direct, according to the ability I am at present favoured with, to the reality or substance itself; and this in­estimable treasure which I had long in vain sought for without, among the various appearances, I at last found to be within. I can anticipate the surprise, and perhaps the indignation, the word within may excite in some minds, who may be ready to exclaim, Can there be any thing good in man? Yes, friends, the sovereign good, the only good, is to be found there; and I desire your patient attention while I endeavour to remove that unjust, delusive, yea too destructive idea, that nothing good is to be found in man. I believe it is the grand artifice, the most successful insinuation, of the great adversary of man­kind, to divert the attention, from that which is alone able ef­fectually to destroy his kingdom or rule in the heart, to objects without, to similitudes and appearances. (Mystery Babylon.) This good then, though in man is not or man, it is not natu­ral to him; but a free, spontaneous, unmerited gift. This good is, with reverence be it spoken even God himself, a truth I believe of the utmost importance to be experimentally known by every individual; and a truth abundantly testified to in the sacred writings; as the ground work, the substance the foun­dation of real religion; a language also repeatedly expressed [Page 73] by the professors of Christianity; though the truth, the reality of it, appears so little known, as by many even to be denied. Do not you frequently read, "I will dwell in them, and walk in them; I will be their God, and they shall be my people," 2 Cor. vi. 16. "If a man love me," said our Lord, "he will keep my words, and my father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him," John xiv. 23. "The Comforter, even the Spirit of Truth," proceeding from the Father, said he, "dwelleth with you and shall be in you," ver. 17. "Know ye not," said the Apostle, "that Jesus Christ is in you except ye be reprobates?" 2 Cor. xiii. 5, and that your bodies are the temples of the living God? 1. Cor. vi. 19. I could multiply quotations of Scriptures, to prove this great important truth, but am sensible that those to whom I address myself are well acquainted with the words. 'You are fre­quently reading, of "Christ within the hope of glory," Col. i. 27▪ under various similitudes; but what is the reason, he is not known there? it is an important question. What is the reason, I again repeat it, that Christ so often read of in the Scriptures as within, notwithstanding so much talk and imaginations about him, is not known there in reality? I believe, friends, I can tell you the reason why he, the one great foundation, is not known, where alone he is truly to [...]e known. Because he is not sought for there, but in something without some appear­ance or representation of him, a knowledge gathered from men or books, from the history or outward letter, which, however highly it may be valued, I believe is merely notional. The real experimental knowledge is only known by his internal appear­ance, his second coming, without sin, unto salvation; Heb. ix. 23, and the operation and effects thereby produced. See Mal. iii, 3. "The kingdom of God," said our Lord, "cometh not by observation:" man with all his wisdom, is unable to com­prehend it, neither shall they say, "Lo here is Christ, or lo there," not in any outward appearance, "for behold the king­dom of God is within you." Luke xvii, 20, 21. "Say not in [Page 74] thine heart," said the apostle, "who shall ascend into heaven that is to bring Christ down from above, or who shall descend into the deep, that is to bring Christ again from the dead:" He is not at a distance, but "the word is nigh thee, in thy mouth and in thy heart. Rom. x. 6, 7, 8. Our Lord represented this great truth by various objects or similitudes, to convey spiritual instruction to his disciples; as a treasure hid in a [...]ield; Mat. xiii, 44, seed sown in the ground; Mark iv. 26, a grain of mustard seed; Mat. xiii. 31, a little leaven hid in meal; ver. 33. plainly alluding to this inestimable treasure as hid in the heart, the earthly part of man. There were some of whom our Lord said, having ears they heard not; they could not understand the spiritual meaning of his parables; but to some he said, "Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God." Mark iv. 11. Now, friends, it is of consequence to know of which number we are, whether these are still to us as parables, or whether we know that which unsolds their true meaning: "I am the light of the world;" said Christ, "he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." John viii. 12.

The apostle says there is no communion between light and darkness. 2 Cor. vi. 14. If we have not light, we must of ne­cessity be in darkness. There is a spiritual light, as well as a natural. This great apostle to the Gentiles, declaring his com­mission to preach the gospel, said it was to turn people from darkness, to light, from the power of satan unto God. Acts xxvi. 18. Of what consequence then is it to be acquainted with this light, by which alone we can discern between good and evil. "All things." said the apostle, "that are reproved, are made manifest by the light; for whatsoever doth make manifest is light." Eph. v. 13. That we may know what this light is the scriptures abundantly declare. John the Baptist was sent to bear witness of this light, which is the true light, which light­eth every man that cometh into the world. John 1. 8, 9. In him, i. e. Christ was life, and the life was the light of men. ver. 4. This light shineth in darkness, even the dark heart of man; [Page 75] though the darkness comprehended it not. ver. 5. This is the light of the glorious gospel; therefore, friends, I caution you to beware of calling it a natural light, or a new lights, as many have done. For I believe the same light, if attended to and its discoveries obeyed, will eff [...] the same works spiritually in the heart, or inner man, as it formerly did on the bodies of the peo­ple. Therefore I believe there is great danger of speaking evil of the light, for whoever do, confess they are strangers to it, and of course are walking in darkness, for there is but one true spiritual light. And "If we say we have fellowship with him and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his son, cleanseth us from all sin." 1. John, i. 6, 7.

Our Lord himself plainly declared, that "Every one that doeth evil, hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved; but he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God." John. iii. 20, 21. Therefore it is not strange that those who plead for sin, which is evil, should speak against this light, and call it a natural light; or any thing, to excuse themselves; because it cannot but condemn them. Those things which the light, if attended to, [...]ould manifest to be evil, are too dearly loved, to be parted with, while they can persuade themselves they are secure in retaining them. I speak from ex­perience, and do earnestly recommend a turning to this light within from all the 'Lo heres,' and 'Lo theres:' the various appearances, signs, and shadows, set up by the will and wisdom of men, in the times of darkness and apostacy; even to Christ within, the hope of glory, the true foundation, 1 Cor. iii. 11; the rock against which even the gates of hell shall not prevail, Mat. xvi. 18; nor all the opposition of men, as it is faithfully abode in. This I believe is the substance of every shadow, the reality of every appearance, the word nigh in the mouth and in the heart; the true anointing, which is truth and no lie, and [Page 76] which teacheth all things without need of man's teaching. 1. John ii. 27. This is the new covenant, graciously promised by the Most High. "I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts, and will be their God, and they shall be my people; and they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord, for they shall all know me from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord." Jer. xxxi. 33, 34.

Behold, said our Lord, the kingdom of God is within you. Luke xvii. 21. The seed of the kingdom which is sown in the hearts, though too small for the eye of man's wisdom to disco­ver, though it is still to the high professing Jew a stumbling block, and to the worldly wise Greek foolishness; yet it is to those who hear its call and obey it, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. 1. Cor. i. 23, 24. This I believe is the new birth, without which our Lord declared no one even could see the kingdom of God. John iii. 3. The birth which is not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God, John, i. 13. For that which is born of the flesh, however high and specious its appearance, is still flesh; and that which is born of the spirit, however mean and contempti­ble in the eye of man's wisdom, is spirit. The gospel is a spiritual dispensation. The spirit of truth inwardly manifested, our Lord promised should guide into all truth. John xvi. 13. The apostles were not to leave Jerusalem till they had received it. Acts i. 4. And then we are informed, "They spake as the spirit gave them utterance." Acts ii. 4. We have no reason to suppose they used any form of words, neither that they spake when or where they chose; but we are frequently informed of their going or forbearing; as by the spirit they were directed; Acts viii, 29. xix. 7, &c. neither are we to suppose that this in­fluence and direction of the spirit was confined to any period of time; for, says our Lord, "Lo, I am with you alway, even un­to the end of the world." Mat. xxviii. 20. What a departure from their example and precepts is lamentably conspicuous among most professing Christians; who have invented various [Page 77] images, forms, and modes of worship, which they can perform when they please; evidently acknowledging that they think the influence and assistance of the spirit unnecessary; at least that they will begin at a venture, whether it may come or not. Surely it may be well to consider, whether it is not offering strange fire before the Lord. Lev. x. 1. The only true worship under the gospel dispensation, is, agreeably to our Lord's ex­press declaration, that which is in spirit and in truth, John iv. 24, and as the influences and movings of the spirit, (although so ab­solutely necessary, as that no acceptable worship can be per­formed without them) are not at our command; how proper, yea, how needful then, is a humble, silent, dependent waiting upon Him, who alone can administer this assistance; that there­by the true preparation of the heart may be experienced, to re­ceive whatever He, who searcheth the heart, and who alone knoweth what is good for those who wait upon him, may be pleased to administer: whether immediately, by his still small voice in the secret of the heart; or instrumentally, by whom­soever he may please to appoint!

"They that wait upon the Lord," said the Prophet, "shall renew their strength." Isa. xl. 31. It is the professed object of most assemblies for religious worship, to wait upon the Lord. Now, whether those who in solemn humble silence, wait to feel the influences of the spirit, to instruct and enable, when and what to offer, or what immediately to receive from the foun­tain of good, are such as that promise applies to; or those who are always ready to begin, either in a prescribed form, or in the exercise of their own natural or acquired abilities, whether they may have the assistance so necessary or not; I think a little serious consideration may determine. Indeed the plain express meaning of the term, Waiting, appears to me to be a silent at­tentive expectation of something; and if it is weightily consi­dered, that, at such times, we more particularly profess to ap­proach the sacred presence of Him, "who searcheth the heart, trieth the reins, and requireth truth in the inward parts;" who cannot possibly be deceived or amused by the most plausible [Page 78] expressions or the most eloquent language; who has decidedly condemned the practice of drawing near to him with the mouth, and honouring him with the lips, whilst the heart is far from him; Isa. xxix. 13. surely it is needful at such times to wait, silently wait, for the reception of spiritual power, lest we should be like those who offer the sacrifice of fools. Eccles. v. 1. "Let not thine heart," said the wise man, "be hasty to utter any thing before God, for God is in heaven and thou upon earth; therefore let thy words be few." ver. 2. "Without me," said our blessed Lord, "ye can do nothing." John xv. 5. Yet the practice of many who profess to follow him, evidently de­clares that they think they can do without him, for they are, as to words and outward performances, always ready. The apostle plainly declared, that "we know not what we should pray for as we ought, but it is the spirit that helpeth our infirm­ities." Rom. viii. 26. Then what are all the arts of composi­tion, and the powers of human eloquence, without this assist­ance, but as "sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal?" "When we pray," said our Lord, "use not vain repetitions as the hea­then do: for they think they shall be heard, for their much speaking;" Mat. vi. 7. a language too applicable I fear, not only to the prescribed formal prayers, but to the more private extempore productions: as though prayer consisted in outward expressions, an idea repeatedly condemned in the Scriptures of Truth.

The apostle, after saving we know not what to pray for, adds, "The spirit itself maketh intercession for us, with groanings which cannot be uttered," and Christ called them hypocrites who prayed to be seen of men; Mat. vi. 5, and directed his dis­ciples to pray in secret to the father, who seeth in secret. ver. 6. The apostle also recommends a praying always, with all prayer and supplication in the spirit and watching thereunto with all perseverance. Eph. vi. 18. He does not recommend to begin singing as soon as they conclude a prayer. In another place, he exhorts to a "Continuing instant in prayer;" Rom. xii. 12. again, "Pray without ceasing;" 1. Thes. v. 17. from all which [Page 79] I think it must appear that there may be true prayer without words, and that there may be also words without prayer. I believe, there are those possessed of considerable abilities, a ready flow of words, and a pleasing eloquent delivery, who can at any time when they please, deliver what I have heard called an excellent prayer; without waiting to feel that influence, which can alone enable to "pray with the spirit, and with true understanding;" but though such exercises may produce a temporary warmth, both in speaker and hearer, I believe, it will be found to be only a fire of their own kindling, a mere appearance, and not the effects of the live coal from the true altar. Isa. vi. 6. The same observations are equally applicable to every other external performance of worship, public or private: for however it may affect the outward ear, yea, and kindle sparks as it were pro­ducing a temporary warmth; if it does not proceed from the immediate sensible movings of the spirit of truth, I much fear the appellation of will-worship is too applicable to it.

I have also had a fear, that a language of old, respecting some of whom it was said, "They limited the Holy One of Israel," Psa. lxxviii. 41. is applicable to most professing religious socie­ties, where any particular man or set of men, assume to them­selves the exclusive right of teaching or preaching: a practice I believe totally repugnant to the gospel dispensation, and the uniform example and precepts of Christ and his apostles. For I fully believe that no human authority, call, qualification, or or­dination, can make a minister of Christ. That is the perogative of Christ himself. It is absolutely necessary that every individual Christian should be born of the Spirit; John iii. 5. and surely it most also be necessary that the ministers of Christ should, in an especial manner, be so too. Paul said he was made an apostle, "Not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father." Gal. i. 1. And, as I before observed, the dispensation of the gospel being 'a dispensation of the spirit,' the ministers thereof are ministers of the spirit, and not of the letter: not ministers of the words only, though scripture words themselves; but of the "word of eternal life," even of the "word which [Page 80] was in the beginning, which liveth and abideth for ever." 1. Pet. i. 23. That word which is "quick and powerful, discern­ing the thoughts and intents of the heart." Heb. iv. 12. Words may have, and no doubt have, their service, as the spirit brings to rememberance, and giveth utterance; but to steal the words of Scripture, see Jer. xxiii. 30, 31. and put them in a premedi­tated form, however eloquently they may be delivered, I believe is not preaching the gospel. But I believe that they who are particularly called, qualified, and sent by Christ himself, as I believe every true minister is, will not presume to preach or pray, when, where, or what they please; but as they are im­mediately moved and directed by the spirit of Christ, inwardly revealed; see Gal. i. 1.16. who can alone know what is needful to be administered, and these as they freely receive, they will, agreeably to our Lord's command, Freely give, Mat. x. 8, &c. 'without any view to temporal interest whatever.' And as they are not their own, they cannot dispose of their time or talents, according to their own wills; but as He who hath call­ed them is pleased to direct.

To conclude: the few observations I have now offered, may perhaps, to unprejudiced minds, be sufficient to evince the in­ward spiritual nature of the gospel dispensation; and that signs and figures, all external ceremonial performances, are totally abolish­ed from that worship, which can only be performed in spirit and in truth. John iv. 23, 24.

They may also evince that the only necessary qualification for true worship, is the influence and direction of the spirit of truth, inwardly revealed: that this necessary assistance is not confined to time or place, nor to any particular man or set of men. For as the apostle declared, "The manifestation of the spirit is given to every man, to profit withal," 1. Cor. xii. 7 [...] I believe there are no individuals arrived to the years of discre­tion, but who are favoured with a sufficient portion thereof, if properly attended to, to direct them into the paths of true judg­ment. The word, even the word of eternal life, is nigh to all, nor need any look to men for instruction; but this same anoint­ing, [Page 81] if the mind is simply and unreservedly directed to it, teacheth all things and is truth. 1 John ii. 27. Who is there, who has not felt its secret reproofs for evil, and its approbati­on for good? To this true teacher, of whose all sufficient aid I have thankfully to acknowledge a degree of experience, I do earnestly recommend the particular, unwearied, faithful attention of every individual.


TWO LETTERS WRITTEN BY SAMUEL CRISP, About the Year 1702, to some of his acquaintance, upon his change from a Chaplain of the Church of England, to join the people called QUAKERS.

Prove all Things, hold fast that which is good.

1 THESS. v. 21.


My dear Friend,

I Received a Letter from thee the Week before last, which was sent by thy Uncle Bolton: There were a great many kind Expressions in it, and in thy Sister Clopton's likewise. I acknow­ledge myself much obliged to you both, and to the whole Fa­mily, for many repeated Kindnesses, and if my School had not [Page 82] engrossed so much of my Time, I would have taken Opportunity to answer my dear Friend's Letter e're now, and upon that Ac­count my Delay will be the more excusable.

The News thou hast heard of my late Change, is really true, I cannot conceal it, for it is what I glory in; neither was it any Prospect of temporal Advantage that induced me to it, but a sincere Love to the Truth, and pure Regard to my own Soul: Neither can I be sufficiently thankful to God, that he hath let me live to this glorious Day, & not cut me off in the Midst of my Sins and Provocations against Him; He is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to Repentance: He hath brought me off from the Forms and sha­dows of Religion, and let me see in a more illustrious Manner what is the Life and Substance of it, as he found me in some De­gree faithful to that Measure of Light and Knowledge he hath bestowed on me, whilst I was in the Communion of the Church of England; therefore he was pleased of late, as I humbly waited upon him, to make known to me greater and deeper Mysteries of his Kingdom: And I can truly say, that I find by daily Experience, as I keep low and retired into that pure Gift which he hath planted within me, Things are every Day more and more cleared up to me, and the Truth shines and prevails greatly over the Kingdom of Darkness; And if I should now turn my Back upon such Manifestations as these, and entangle myself again with the Yoke of Bondage, surely I should grieve the Holy Spirit: So that he might justly withdraw his kind Operations, and never return more to assist and comfort me: For God is not mocked; Religion is a very serious and weigh­ty Thing; Repentance and Salvation are not to be trifled with, nor is turning to God to be put off till our own Time, Leisure or Conveniency, but we must love and cherish the least Ap­pearance of Christ, not slighting or despising the Day of small Things, but embrace the first Opportunity of following Christ in any of his Commands: When he speaks, there is such Force and Authority in it that we cannot stand to cavil, dispute or ask Questions; for unless we will be so obstinate as to shut our Eyes [Page 83] against the Sun, we must needs confess to the Truth of his Doc­trine, and presently strike in with it. And therefore, when for several Weeks I had lived more privately and retiredly in Lon­don than was usual, Fasting twice or thrice in a Week, or some­times more, spending my Time in reading the Scriptures and in Prayer to God, this was a good Preparation of my Mind to re­ceive the Truth which he was then about to make known to me: I lamented the Errors of my past Life, and was desirous to attain a more excellent Degree of Holiness than I had disco­vered in the Church of England. In this religous Retirement God knew the Breathings of my Soul, how sincere I was, and resigned to him when alone; I wanted him to set me free, and to speak Peace and Comfort to my Soul, which was grieved and wearied with the Burthen of Sin: For tho' I had strictly con­formed myself to the Orders and Ceremonies of the Church of England, and had kept myself from running into any great or scandalous Enormities, the Fear of the Almighty preserving me; [...] still I had not that Rest and Satisfaction in myself which I desired and greatly longed for; I found; when I had examined my State and Condition to God-ward, that Things were not right with me.

As for a sober and plausable Conversation in the Eye of the World, I knew that was a very easy Attainment; a good na­tural Temper, with the Advantage of a liberal Education, will quickly furnish a Man with Abilities for that, so that he shall be looked upon as a Saint, and very spiritual, when perhaps in Chains of Darkness, in the Gall of Bitterness, and in the very Bond of Iniquity. If this sort of Righteousness would have done; perhaps I might make as fair Pretensions that Way as some others: But alas! I soon saw the Emptiness and Unsatisfacto­riness of those Things: This is a covering that will not protect or hide us from the Wrath of the Almighty, when he comes to Judgment: 'Tis not a Man's natural Temper, nor his Education, that makes him a good Christian; this is not the Righteousness, [Page 84] which the Gospel calls for; nor is this Truth in the inward Parts, which God requires: The heart and Affections must be cleansed and purified before we can be acceptable to God; there­fore it was Death to me to think of taking up my Rest in a for­mal Pretence of Holiness; wherein, yet, I saw, to my Grief, Abundance of People wrap'd themselves; slept securely and quietly, dreaming of the Felicity of Paradise, as if Heaven were now their own, and they needed not trouble themselves any more about Religion: I could not entertain so dangerous an O­pinion as this, for then I should be tempted to take up my Rest by the Way, whilst I was travelling towards the promised Land. I think I made a little Progress in a holy Life, and through God [...]s Assistance I awakened some of my spiritual Enemies whilst I lived in the Communion of the national Church. I thank my God, I can truly say, Whilst I used those Prayers I did it with Zeal and Sincerity, in his Fear and Dread; but still, I ceased not my earnest Supplication to him in private, that he would shew me something more excellent, that I might get a compleat Victory over all my Lusts and Passions, and might perfect Righ­teousness before him; for I found a great many Sins and Weak­nesses daily attending me: And tho' I made frequent Resoluti­ons to forsake those Sins, yet still the Temptation was too strong for me so that often I had Cause to complain with the Apostle, in the Bitterness of my Soul, O wretched Man that I am, who shall deliver me from the Body of this Death! Who shall set me free, and give me Strength to triumph over Sin, the World and the Devil? That I may in every Thing please God, and there may not be the least Thought. Word or Motion, Gesture or Action, but what is exactly agreeable to his most holy Will, as if I saw him standing before me, and as if I were to be judged by him for the Thoughts of my Heart next Moment. O divine Life! O seraphiek Soul! O that I could always Stand here! for here is no reflection, no Sorrow, no Repentance! but at God's right Hand there is perfect Peace, and a river of un­speakable joy. O that we might imitate the Life of Jesus, and be throughly furnished unto every good Word and Work! This was the frequent Breathing of my Soul to God when I was [Page 85] in the Country, but more especially after I had left my new Preferment of a Chaplain, and took private Lodgings in London: In this Retirement I hope I may say, without Boasting, that I was very devout and Religious, and I found great Comfort and Refreshment in it from the Lord, who let me see the Beauty of Holiness; and the sweetness that arises from an humbled morti­fied Life, was then very pleasant to my Taste, and I rejoiced in it more than in all the Delights and Pleasures of the World.

And now it pleased God to shew me, that if I would indeed live strictly and holily as becomes the Gospel, then I must leave the Communion of the Church of England; but knew not yet which Way to determine myself, nor to what Body of Men I should join, who were more orthodox, and more regular in their Lives. As for the Quakers, so called, I was so great a Stranger to them, that I had never read any of their Books, nor do I remember, that ever I conversed with any one Man of that Communion in my whole Life: I think there was one in Foxly while I was a Curate there, But I never saw the Man, tho' I went several times to his House on Purpose to talk with him, and to bring him off from his wild and mad Enthusiasm, as I then ignorantly thought it to be: As for that Way, I know it was every where spoken against; he that had a mind to appear more witty and ingenious than the rest, would chuse this for the Subject of his profane Jests and Drollery; with this he makes Sport, and diverts the Company; for a Quaker is but another Name for a Fool or a Mad-man, and was scarce ever mention'd but with Scorn and Contempt. As for Drollery, I confess I was never any great Friend to it; but indeed if all was true that was laid to the Quaker's Charge, I thought that they were some of the worst People that ever appeared in the World, and wondered with what Face they could call themselves Chri­stians, since I was told they denied the fundamental Articles of the Holy Faith, to which I ever bore the highest Veneration and Esteem; and notwithstanding I had always lived at the greatest Distance from that People, and was very zealous in the worship of the Church of England, and upon all Occasions would [Page 86] speak very honourably of it, moreover was content to suffer some few Inconveniences upon that Account, (as thou very well knowest) yet my Father still look'd upon me as inclining to the Quakers; and some Years ago signified to a Friend, he was a­fraid I would become an Enthusiast; and whilst I was at Bungan School he sent me two Books to read that were writ against the Quakers, one of which was John Faldo's, who hath been sufficiently exposed for it by William Penn.

Whilst I lived in London in that private retired Manner (I was just now speaking of) walking very humbly in the Sight of God, and having Opportunity to reflect upon my past Life, as I had Occasion to be one Day at a Book-seller's Shop, I happen­ed to cast my Eye on Barclay's Works; and having heard in the Country, that he was a Man of great Account among the Quakers, I had a mind to see what their Principles were, and what Defence they could make for themselves; for [...], these People are not so silly and ridiculous, nor maintainers of such horrid Opinions, as the Authors of the Snake, and some o­thers, would make us believe. I took Barclay home with me, and I read him through in a Week's Time, save a little Treatise at the End, which I found to be very philosophical, I omitted; but however, I soon read enough to convince me of my own Blindness and Ignorance in the Things of God; there I found a Light to break in upon my mind, which did mightily refresh and comfort me in that poor, low, and humble state in which I then was; for indeed I was then, and had been so for a consider­able Time before, very hungry and thirsty after Righteous­ness, and therefore I received the Truth with all Readiness of mind; 'twas like Balm to my Soul, and as Showers of Rain to the thirsty Earth which is parched with Heat and Drought.

This Author laid things down so plainly, and proved them with such Ingenuity and Dexterity of Learning, and opened the Scriptures so clearly to me, that without standing to cavil, dis­pute, raise Argument or Objection; or consulting with Flesh and Blood, I presently resigned myself to God, and weeping [Page 87] for Joy that I had found so great a Treasure, I often thanked him with Tears in my eyes for so kind a Visitation of his Love, that he was graciously pleased to look towards me when my Soul cried after him; so, that tho' before I was in great Doubt and Trouble of mind, not knowing which Way to determine myself, yet now the Sun breaking out so powerfully upon me, the Clouds were scattered: I was now fully satisfied in my own Mind which Way I ought to go, and to what Body of Peo­ple I should join myself. So I immediately left the Communion of the Church of England and went to Gracious-street Meeting. After I had read Barclay, I read some other Books of that Kind, among which was an excellent Piece, tho' in a small Volume, called, No Cross, No Crown: Thus I continued reading and fre­quenting Meetings for several Weeks together, but did not let any one Soul know what I was about: The first Man I convers­ed with was G. Whitehead, and this was several Weeks after I began to read Barclay, and frequent their Meetings; By him I was introduced into more Acquaintance, and still the farther I went the more I liked their Plainness, and the Decency and Simplicity of their Conversation: They do not use the Ceremo­nies and Salutations of the Church of England, but shake hands freely and converse together as Brothers and Sisters that are sprung of the same Royal seed, and made Kings and Priests un­to God. O, the Love, the Sweetness and tenderness of affecti­on I have seen among this people! By this says Christ, shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. John xiii. 35. Put on therefore, says the Apostle, (as the Elect of God holy and beloved) bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering, Col. iii. 12.

Thus, my dear friend, I have given thee an account of my proceedings on this affair. As to my bodily state, if thou de­sirest to know what it is, I may acquaint thee that I have my health as well as ever, and I bless God I have food and raiment sufficient for me, so that I want no outward thing; and I have the necessities and conveniencies of life liberally. Let us not burthen ourselves with taking care for the vanities and super­fluities [Page 88] of it; let us possess our vessels in sanctification and honour. 1. Thes. iv. 4. And as we bring our minds into perfect subjec­tion to the whole will of God, so let us bring our body to the most simple and natural way of living, being content with the fewest Things, never studying to gratify our wanton Appetites, nor to follow the Customs and Humours of men, but how we may so contract our earthly Cares and Pleasures, that we may bring most Glory to God, most Health and Peace to our own Souls, and do most Service to the Truth; and if this be our Aim, certainly a very small portion of the Things of this World will suffice us: Seeing we are Christians, we should therefore earnestly pursue those Things which bring us nearest to God, and which are most perfective of human Nature; for what is more than a Competency seems to be a Burden to a generous philosophical Soul, which would breathe in a pure Vehicle, that so it may have a quick Sense and Relish of all Blessings, both of the superior and inferior Worlds.

Thou knowest, my dear Friend, that Religion is a very seri­ous Thing, and Repentance is a great Work, and one preci­ous immortal Soul is of more worth, than ten thousand perish­ing Worlds, with all their Pomp and Glory: Therefore let us take Courage, and be valiant for the Truth upon the Earth, let us not content ourselves with a Name and Profession of Godli­ness, let us come to the Life and Power of it; let us not despond of getting the Victory; we have a little Strength for God; let us be faithful to him and he will give us more Strength, so that we shall see the Enemy of our Peace fall before us, and no­thing shall be impossible unto us: I say, my Friend, let us be faithful to that Measure of Light and Knowledge which God has given us, to be profited and edified by it in a spiritual Life, and as God sees we are diligent and faithful to work with the Strength we have, he will more and more enlighten us, so that we shall see to the End of those Forms and Shadows of Religi­on wherein we have formerly lived; but if he sees we are about to take up our Rest in those Shadows, that we grow cold and indifferent in the pursuit of Holiness, running out into Notions and Speculations, and have more mind to dispute; and to make [Page 89] a Shew of Learning and Subtility, than to lead a holy and de­vout Life, then 'tis just with God to leave us in a carnal and polluted State, to continue yet but in the outward Court, where we may please ourselves with beholding the Beauty and orna­ments of a worldly Sanctuary, and never witness the vail be­ing taken away, and that we are brought by the Blood of Je­sus into the Holiest of all, where alone there is true Peace with God, and Rest to the weary Soul. I could say much more up­on this Head, if Time or Leisure would give Leave.

As for a particular Answer to thy Letter, I have not Time now to give it; and for the present let this general Answer suf­fice: and if thou wilt consider Things in their pure abstracted Nature, and not suffer the Prejudices of Education to sway thee, but in Fear and Humility wilt search out the Truth for thyself, thou wilt find that there needs no other Answer to thy Letter than what I have already given; for by waiting on God, and deligently seeking him, thou wilt find Answer to it in thy own Bosom, and this will be much more full, clear, and satisfactory than I, or any other Man living can pretend to give thee, or a­ny other Friend who hath lovingly wrote to me, for whom I desire, with all the sincere-hearted in the Church of England, that they may come to witness the Almighty Power of God, to save and redeem them from every Yoke; and that they may see clearly to the End of those Things which are abolished, and come to the Enjoyment of spiritual and heavenly Things them­selves, is the daily Prayer and deep Travil of my Soul, God knoweth. 'Till I can be more particular, if thou please thou may'st communicate this to them, and let them know that I am well, and thank them for their kind Letters. Let us re­member to pray for one another with all Fervency, that we may stand perfect in the whole Will of God, Amen, saith my soul, I am thy most affectionate Friend and servant in Jesus.

[Page 90]


My dear Friend,

I LATELY received a kind and brotherly Letter from thee, for which I return thee many Thanks. I am now in the Com­munion of the People called Quakers; and I have Cause to bless God for this happy Change of my Life: I am thro' Mercy brought off from the Shadow of Religion, and am pressing for­wards to get Acquaintance with the quickening Power, Life and Virtue of it, if that I may be a Christian indeed, and not in Name and Profession only. I had a threat while talk'd and dis­cours'd of Holiness, but did not understand what it was to talk with God, to live and dwell in him. Perhaps indeed some may think I made a fair Shew of Piety when I was with you. But alas! I was deeply sensible of my own Faults and Miscarriages and I resolved thro' God's Assistance to enquire after something more Noble and Excellent than I had discovered in that State; and blessed be his Name for ever, that God hath answered the Cry of my Soul, and let me see a People that are hated and de­spised by the World, but are dear to him; for he hath revealed to them the Mysteries of the Kingdom; he hath carried them upon Eagles Wings, and cherished them as the Apple of his Eye. As for me, I have been yet but in the outward Court; and far [...] of that Truth and Righteousness that is taught and prac­tised among this People: For they are come within the Holiest of all, they are come into a near Communion with God, to be­hold the Cherubims of Glory that cover the Mercy-Seat, to be fed with the true Manna. These are Mysteries that are to be revealed unto the Meek and Lowly, but the Haughty, Insolent and Prophane, cannot come near them, nor taste of the Sweet­ness nor Comfort of them. Indeed the formal traditional sort of People of the World, may talk of these Things as they have heard from others, and in their sober minutes may have some faint Glimmerings that Way; but to come to a real and in­ward Enjoyment of them, they can no more pretend to, than to work the greatest Impossibilities; all their Wit and Subtility, and Learning cannot reach higher for to handle of the Word of [Page 91] Life; this is peculiar only to those who are content to forsake all, and become Fools for Christ, they are those who are in a good Temper to receive and co-operate with the influence of the Holy Spirit, and have seen the Emptiness and Vanity of all those Things that are so much admired by the World; the Schools, and Universities, and Learned Doctors, and Great Rab­bies, have not profitted me; they are ravened from the Spirit of God, and gone out into their own Notions and Speculations, thinking thereby to search out God and comprehend the Truth. Alas! the Mysteries of God's Kingdom are far out of their Reach in their carnal minds; they weary themselves in vain; the Vulture's Eye cannot pierce into these Secrets; all the great Critick Scholars and Philosophers of the World are Fools in these things, and whilst they are wearying themselves to find the deep Things of our God, studying and racking their Heads, tossing and tumbling to and fro like a wild Bull in a Net, and knows not which Way to disentangle himself; the more he struggles, the weaker he grows, the faster he is bound; so the more these vain Talkers read the more they write; the more they cavil and dispute, the further they are from God, and the more they declare their Hatred and Enmity to the Spirit of Christ, and to the Simplicity of the Gospel. I have been a long time aware of the Folly and Impertinency of these Men, and chiefly the celebrated Fathers of the Church, as they call them; the Councils and Synods of Old, are now of very small Account with me; I am not ashamed to sit under the Teachings of Wo­men and Mechanicks, howsoever they may seem in the Eye of the World; for they teach me more Christianity, and instruct me more perfectly in a divine Life, than all the studied elabo­rated Sermons and Discourses that ever I heard at the Univer­sities, or since; their Words are with Power, they are mighti­ly assisted with the Spirit of God, they speak with Majesty and Authority, and there is a native Beauty, Clearness and Solidity of Expression that shines thro' their Discourses, which is suffi­cient to answer that groundless Calumny, viz, The Quakers [Page 92] Preaching is Nonsense, and no Body could understand them. This I have heard often refuted by many living Testimonies, so that I do rather think them the best Wits, and the most ingenious Peo­ple in the World; for they employ their Parts and Learning in the Fear of God to his Glory and Service, and to promote the truest Interest of Mankind. As for the little Jests, Witnesses, and vain Pedantry of the Age, which I know the World hath Esteem for, and nothing will please but what abounds with such Fooleries. I say, if the Quakers be deficient in any of these, it is not for want of Abilities, or because they have less Wit than other Men, but because they have more Prudence and Wisdom to govern it, and that is the Reason why they avoid such child­ish Vanities, which are so freely used and indulged by others, to the great Dishonour of God and the Christian Religion; and therefore because they do not seek to please a wanton Age, to make people laugh and be merry, nor to entertain the carnal airy Mind with pleasant Stories, fine Notions, and witty Expres­sions of natural Things; from thence it is that they have been shamefully traduced by the World, as the most ignorant, blind and foolish People that ever made any Profession of Religion, and yet this is the People to whom I have now joined myself in a sincere Love to Truth, God knoweth; and I glory more in this Fellowship and Acquaintance with these Lambs of Christ, than if I were related to the greatest Kings, Lords and Potentates upon the Earth. Oftentimes hath my Spirit been refreshed with theirs, when we have met together to wait upon God; and my Soul still longs and pants more and more to be filled with these divine Comforts: he is ready always to pour down Blessings up­on us, if we could qualify ourselves for the Reception of them; If we would put away vain Thoughts, which cloud and darken the Mind, and so hinders the Favourable Influence and Iradati­ons of Heaven.

And since it hath pleased God to visit me of late, and to make known to me Excellent Things in Righteousness, he alone is to have the Praise and Glory of all, and now I freely resign myself to the Conduct of the blessed Spirit; now let the Truth prosper, now let it run and be glorified in the Earth, let it shine out in [Page 93] its full Lusture, to the Terror and Confusion of all the Enemies thereof, and to the reviving of the Souls of the Hungry and Thirsty, who are ready to faint, waiting for and expecting the Consolation of Israel, until the Times of Refreshment comes from the Presence of the Lord, who will open a Fountain for Judah and Jerusalem, so that Rivers shall run in dry Places: There will he speak Peace to his People, and after they have sat silent a little While in the Dust, suffering patiently the chastiz­ing Rod of his Love to pass over them, he shall then comfort the Daughter of Sion, and say, Arise thou afflicted, and weep and mourn no more, but put on thy beautiful Garments. Oh! Jerusa­lem, raise thy Head, uncover thy Face, and gird up thy Loins with Strength, see the Day break, and the Morning spread itself upon the Mountains; now the sorrowful Nights of Affliction are gone over, the Clouds are scatter'd and gone, the Sun is risen in its Brightness, and now Joy and Peace shall be multi­plied; in a little Wrath I hid my Face from thee for a Moment, but with everlasting Kindness will I have Mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer. Oh! let us wait in Humility of Soul, and tenderness of Heart, before the Lord, that we may witness this great Change and Salvation wrought in us and for us, that the Scripture may be no more a sealed Book to us, but that we may feel the precious Truths therein recorded to be fulfilled, in our own Particulars. Then there we shall never be weary of praying, and reading the holy Scriptures, we shall never be loath or unwilling to come into God's Presence; for his Love, & the sweetness of his Ointment, will draw & allure us to dwell always under his Canopy, that we may feel Life and Power to flow from Him who is the Ocean that supplies all the Wants of the Children of Men; and how shall we come to taste of that heavenly Banquet he hath prepared for us, that we may eat and drink at his Table, and that our Souls may delight in Fatness? I say, how shall we attain to this, but by a strict and mortified Life? Certainly the more we retire from worldly Joys, and empty ourselves of earthly Comforts and false Delights, the fit­ter we shall be to receive those that are spiritual and heavenly; and not only to receive and rejoice in them for a Time, but to [Page 94] live and dwell in them for ever, for this is the Life of Jesus and here the Kingdom of God reigns in the Heart and Soul, by which it is changed from Glory to Glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. And now I would ask all the wise and prudent, all the rich, all the noble and learned Men of the World, what they think of these Things? Whether this is to be learned in their Courts and Palaces? Or whether any of the great Scholars and Universities in Christendom can furnish us with such a Sys­tem of Divinity as this? No, they hate it, and despise it, and instead of a sober Answer to my Query, they return Scoffs and Contempt. This is Canting they say, and an idle Dream, and forged Chimera of my own Brain, and a great many more op­probrious Names they have for such Enquiries as these. Some­times, perhaps, they will suffer the Expression, with an hypo­critical Shew, will pretend to pity me, calling it an unhappy Effect of Melancholy, and too much Retirement from the World; and this they think too much Condesension, that I ought to think myself beholding to them for giving it so mild a Character; for at other Times they deal more sharply, and say confidently that it is Madness, Delusion, Witchcraft, and diabolical Enthusiasm.

But I am content to lie under all these odious Imputations from the World, knowing very well that better Men than I, have suffer'd the same Things before me, and do, at this pre­sent Time. As for my Enemies, I can truly say, I thank God I pity them, and pray for them; they do not hurt me, but them­selves. And now, my dear Friend, before I conclude, suffer me a little to speak of thy present Circumstances; for, as God knoweth, my Bowels yearns towards thee in the tender Love of Jesus. I suppose thou art now where I left thee, viz. with the Lord Richardson, so called, in the Capacity of a Chaplain, an Office which I havv had a little Experience of myself, since I last saw thee; but was quickly so weary of that servile Yoke, so unworthy of that holy Function I bore, that in ten Days Time I quitted my new Preferment, and left it more freely than ever I undertook it. What Peace or satisfaction thou canst have in such Employment I know not; for my Part, I could find none; [Page 95] my Soul was grieved and burthen'd every Day with seeing and hearing their evil Deeds, beholding their Vanities and Exces­ses; this was a sword to my Soul and spirit, it wounded me very deep; and I do solemnly profess, I had rather beg my bread from Door to Door, than to live in the like Bondage a­gain, where I must be obliged to such Ceremonies and Forma­lities, to flatter Men in their Sins, to cry Peace, peace; and to sow Pillows under the arm-holes of delicate people, that can never bear the least Check or Frown, but expect the mercenary Priest should always laugh or smile in their Faces, even when he sees plainly they are going to Hell and Destruction; and yet I must tell thee, the Family I was in, was looked upon as one of the most sober and regular, as the World goes now; and I must needs say, I did not leave them for any Drinking, Ga­ming, Swearing or Whoring that I preceived amongst them; in all these filthy scandalous Practices, as far as I could see, they were blameless; but yet I saw their Hearts were not right; for they were Lovers of pleasures, more than Lovers of God; and thou knowest that he or they, let them be great or small, if they live in Pleasure, grow fat and wanton against Christ; such Persons are dead while they live: I say, whatever their Faith, or Principles, or Professions may be, yet in Religion they are dead.

I shall say no more, but hasten to a Conclusion. If thou desire a particular Account of my Convincement, thou mayst see it in a Letter which I wrote lately to Richard Lake, Junr. wherein I gave him a fair and true Relation of my Proceedings in that Matter, what Steps I took, and how God did graciously assist me when he had raised in me sincere Desires and Enquiries after Truth and Holiness. Dear Friend, I have no more at present, but to let thee know I do most heartily pray for thee, that thou mayst consider Things without Prejudice, and not suffer any of the Temptations or Allurements of the World to draw thy Mind from God, and to hinder thee in thy Pursuit of Holiness; he that loves Father or Mother, Brother or Sister, or any of the Endearments of this world more than Christ, is not worthy of him; but if thou wilt come into Communion with Christ, and [Page 96] chiefly to follow the Guidence of his Light and Spirit, O what a blessed and happy Rest shalt thou find to thy Soul! O what Rivers of Living Waters will spring up in thee, of which thou mayst drink freely, and praise God for all his Mercies and Be­nefits, that thou mayst indeed come to such spiritual Enjoyment and Refreshments as these, is the sincere Desire of

Thy Loving and Affectionate Friend, SAMUEL CRISP.



THERE is nothing more capable of letting us into the know­ledge of human misery, than an inquiry after the real cause of that perpetual hurry and confusion, in which we pass our lives. The soul is sent into the body, to be sojourner of a few days. [Page 97] She knows this is but a stop, till she may embark for eternity; and that a small space is allowed her to prepare for the voyage. The main part of this space is ravished from her by the neces­sities of nature, and but a slender pittance left to her own dis­posal: and yet, this moment that remains, does so strangely op­press and perplex her, that she only studies how to lose it. She feels an intolerable burden, in being obliged to live with herself, and think of herself; and, therefore, her principal care is to forget herself, and to let this short and precious moment pass away without reflection, by being amused with things that prevent her notice of its speed. This is the ground of all the tumultuary business, of all the trifling diversions amongst men; in which our general aim is to make the time pass off our hands, without feeling it, or rather without feeling our­selves; and, by getting rid of this small portion of life, to avoid that inward disgust and bitterness, which we should not fail to meet with, if we found leisure to descend into our own breasts.

We imagine that, at least, some respite, some shelter, may be found, by agreeing to banish them from our meditation. This is the only natural comfort which mankind have been a­ble to invent under their numerous calamities. But a most mi­serable comfort it proves; because it does not tend to the re­moval of these evils, but only to the concealment of them for a short season; and because, in thus concealing them it hinders us from applying such proper means as would remove them. Thus, by a strange revolution in the nature of man, that grief and inward disquiet which he dreads as the greatest of sensible e­vils, is, in one respect, his greatest good; because it might contribute, more than all things besides, to the putting of him in a successful method of recovery. On the other hand, his di­versions, which he seems to prize as his sovereign good, are, in­deed his greatest evil; because they are of all things the most effctually in making him negligent under his distemper: they do but amuse and beguile him; and, in the conclusion, lead him down blindfold into the grave. It is, indeed, one of the miracles [Page 98] of Christianity, that, by reconciling man to God, it restores him to his own good opinion; that it makes him able to bear the sight of himself; and, in some cases, renders solitude and silence more agreeable than all the intercourse and action of mankind. Nor is it by fixing man in his own person, that these wonderful effects are produced; it is by carrying him to God, and by supporting him under the sense of his miseries, with the hopes of an assured and complete deliverance in a better life.

From the PRINCE of CONTI.

"THE call which men have for diversion, is not by far so great as is thought, and it consists more in imagination or in custom, than in real necessity. Those who are employed in bodily labour, have only need of a bare cessation from it. Those who are employed in affairs toilsome to the mind, and but lit­tle laborious to the body, have only need to recollect themselves from that disposition which those sort of employments naturally cause, and not to dissipate themselves yet more, by diversions which extremely engage the mind. It is a jest to fancy that one has need to pass three hours in filling the mind with follies at a play. Those who find in themselves this need, ought to look on it, not as a natural weakness, but as a vice of custom, which they must cure by serious employment."

"If the soul abandon itself to false pleasures, it loses the re­lish of spiritual ones, and finds nothing but disgust for God. When one feeds himself with the vain pleasures of the world, the spiritual senses become stupified, and incapable of relishing or understanding, the things of God.—Now, among the plea­sures of the world, which extinguish the love of God, it may be said that plays and romances hold the first rank; because there is nothing more opposed to truth; and the Spirit of God, being a Spirit of truth, can have no part with the vanities of the world."

"Plays and romances not only indispose the soul for all acts of religion and piety, but they give it a disgust, in some measure, to all serious and ordinary actions. As nothing is represented [Page 99] in them but galantries, or extraordinary adventures, and the discourses are far distant from such as are used in serious affairs, one insensibly takes from them a romantic disposition of mind: the head is filled with heroes; and heroines; and women, see­ing the adorations which, in them are given to their sex, have that sort of life so much impressed on their minds, that the af­fairs of their family and of common life, become insupportable to them; and when they return to their houses, with minds thus evaporated and filled with these follies, they find every thing there disagreeable, and especially their husbands, who, being taken up with their affairs, are not always in the humour of paying them those ridiculous complaisances which are given to women in plays, in romances, and in the romantic life."

"Those deceive themselves extremely, who think that plays make no ill impression on them, because they do not find them excite any formed evil desire. There are many degrees before one comes to an entire corruption of mind; and it is always ex­tremely hurtful to the soul, to destroy the ramparts which se­cured it from temptation."

"One does not begin to fall when the fall becomes sensible; the fallings of the soul are slow, they have preparations and progressions; and it often happens, that we are overcome by temptations, only by our having weakened ourselves in occasi­ons which seemed of no importance: it being certain, that he who despises little things, shall fall by little and little."

"It must not be imagined that the wicked maxims of which plays are full, are not hurtful, because people do not go there to form their sentiments, but to divert themselves: for they do not fail of making impressions, notwithstanding, without being perceived.—For instance, the opinion that the chimera of honour is so great a good, that it must be preserved, even at the expence of life, is what produces the brutal rage of the gentle­men of France. If those who fight a duel were ever spoken of but as fools and madmen—as indeed they are; if that phantom [Page 100] of honour, which is their idol, were never represented but as a chimera and a folly; if care were taken never to form any image of revenge, but as of a mean and cowardly action; the resent­ment which men feel upon an affront would be infinitely weak­er; but that which exasperates and renders it the more lively' is the false impression, that there is cowardice in bearing an af­front. Now, it cannot be denied that plays, which are full of these evil maxims, do greatly contribute to fortify that im­pression; because the mind being by them transported, and en­tirely out of itself instead of correcting those sentiments abandons itself to them without resistence and delighst to feel the motions they inspire, which dispose it to produce the like upon occasion."—"God does not impute to us the coldness which pro­ceeds from the withdrawing of his light, or merely from the heaviness of this body; but, no doubt, he imputes to us that to which we have contributed by our negligence, and our vain di­versions. It is his will that we should esteem nothing so much as the gracious gift which he has made us of his love; and that we should be careful to preserve it by giving it nourishment. This command he has intimated to us in the persons of the priests in the ancient law, whom he ordains always to maintain the fire on the altar, and to take care to put wood upon it eve­ry day in the morning. This altar is the heart of man, and e­very Christian is the priest; who ought to be careful to nourish the fire of charity on the altar of his heart, by putting wood e­very day upon it; that is to say, maintaining it by the medita­tion of divine things, and by exercises of piety. Now, if those who go to plays have yet any sense of piety, they cannot disown that plays deaden, and tend to entirely extinguish devotion; so that they should not doubt, God judges them extremely guil­ty, for having made so little account of his love, that instead of nourishing and endeavouring to augment it, they have not feared to extinguish it by their vain diversions; and that he will impute to them as a great sin, the abatement or the [...]oss of their love to him. For if a dissipation of the goods of the world and of the earthly riches, by luxury and gaming, is no little sin, what must be judged of a dissipation of the goods of grace, [Page 101] and of that precious treasure the Scriptures speaks of which we ought to purchase, by the loss of all the goods, and all the pleasures of this life?"

From the Same.

"There will be many persons ready to assert, that they have never received any ill impression from Comedy; but I maintain, either that they are very few in number, or that they are not sincere, or that they have not reflected enough on themselves to perceive it, or else, that the only reason why Comedy has not corrupted their manners, is, because it found them already cor­rupted, and that they had left it nothing to do in this matter."

From the Same.

"It is impossible to consider the business of a Player, and to compare it with the Christian profession, without being sensible that there is nothing more unworthy of a Child of GOD, and of a member of JESUS CHRIST, than this employment. I do not speak of the gross irregularities only, and the dissolute man­ner in which the women appear on the Stage, because they who justify Plays, always separate those sort of disorders from them in their imagination, though they are never seperated in effect. I speak only of that which is absolutely inseparable from them. 'Tis an employment, the end of which is, the diversion of o­thers; where men and women appear on a Theatre, to repre­sent the passions of Hatred, Anger, Ambition, Revenge, and chief­ly that of Love. They must express them as lively and as natu­rally as is possible for them; and they cannot do so, if they do not in some manner excite them in themselves, and if their souls no not take all the changes which we see in their faces. Those, then, who represent a passion, must be in some measure touched with it whilst they represent it; and it is not to be imagined, that they can presently efface from their minds that impression which they have voluntarily excited, and that it does not leave a great disposition to the same passion which they have been so willingly sensibly of. Thus, Plays are, even in their nature a school and exercise of vice, since it is an art, in which one must necessarily excite in himself vicious passions. And if we [Page 102] consider that the whole life of Players is employed in this exer­cise, that they pass it entirely either in learning by themselves, or rehearsing among one another, or in representing to specta­tors the image of some vice; and that they have scarce any thing in their minds but these follies; we shall easily see, that it is impossible to join this employment with the Purity of our Religion. And thus it must be owned, that it is a prophane em­ployment, and unworthy of a Christian; and that by conse­quence, it is not allowable for others to contribute to maintain them in a profession contrary to Christianity, or to authorize it by their presence."

CAVE, in his account of the PRIMITIVE CHRISTIANS, says,

"The Christians of those days went not to public feasts, nor frequented the shews that were made for the disport, and the entertainment of the people, and this was so notorious, that the heathens charged it upon them as a part of their crime; observe how in Minutius Foelix, it is drawn up (saith Clemens Alexan­drinus,) the Romans, says he, govern and enjoy the world, while you in the mean time are careful and mopish, abstaining even from lawful pleasures; you visit not the shews, nor are present at the pomps, nor frequent the public feasts; you ab­hor the holy games, the sacrificial meats and drinks; crown not your heads with garlands, nor perfume your bodies with sweet odours; a ghastly, fearful and miserable people:" which by the time that Octavius the Christian comes to an­swer he grants it all to be true, and tells him; there was very good reason why they should abstain from their shews, pomps and divertisements, at which they could not be present without great sin and shame, without affronting their modesty and offering a distaste and horror to their minds."


speaking of Interludes and Stage-Plays, says, "They offend against many branches of the 7th commandment together, both in the abuse of apparel, tongue, eyes, countenance, gestures, and all parts almost of the body. For besides the wantonness therein used, both in attire, speech [Page 103] and action; the man putteth on the apparel of the woman (which is forbidden as a thing abominable: Duet. 22.5.) much filthiness is presented to the beholders, and foolish talking and jesting, which are not convenient: Lastly, fornication and all un­cleanness, (which ought not to be once named among Christians,) is made a spectacle of joy and laughter. (Eph. 5.3.4.) There­fore they that go to see such sights, and hear such words, shew their neglect of Christian Duty, and carelessness in sinning, whereas they willingly commit themselves into the snare of the Devil. (1. Cor. 15, 33.)

ARCHBISHOP TILLOTSON, mentioning Plays, says,

"They are intolerable, and not fit to be permitted in a civi­lized, much less a Christian nation: They do most notoriously minister to vice and infidelity: By their phrophaneness they are apt to instill bad principles into the mind's of men, and to lessen that awe and reverence which all men ought to have of GOD and Religion; and by their lewdness they teach vice, and are apt to infect the minds of men, and dispose them to lewd and dissolute practises."—AND

AGAIN, "Some parents are such monsters, as not to give good things to their children; but instead of Bread give them a Stone, instead of a Fish give them a Serpent, instead of an Egg give them a scorpion.

"These are evil indeed, who train up their children for ru­in and destruction, in the service of the Devil, and in the trade and mystery of iniquity: Who instead of teaching them the fear of the LORD, infuse into them the principles of Atheism, Irre­ligion and Prophaneness; instead of teaching them to love and reverence religion, they teach them to hate and despise it, and to make a mock both of sin and holiness; instead of training them up in the knowledge of the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make men wise unto Salvation, they allow them to pro­phane that Holy Book.

[Page 104]


"Beware of too much recreation. Some bodily exercised is necessary, for sedentary men especially; but let it not be too frequent nor too long. Gaming, Taverns, and Plays, as they are pernicious, and corrupt youth; so if they had no other fault, they are justly to be declined in respect of their excessive expence of time, and habituating men to idleness and vain thoughts, and disturbing passions and symptoms when they are past, as well as while they are used."


in his Essay on Study, speaking of Plays and Ro­mances, says, "By what I have seen of them, I believe they are generally very indiscreetly and foolishly written, in a way pro­per to recommend vanity and wickedness, rather than discre­dit them; have a strong tendency to corrupt and debauch the mind with silly mischevious notions of love and honour, and o­ther things relating to the conduct of Life."

WILLIAM LAW, a Clergyman of the CHURCH of ENGLAND.

"You own that God has called you to great purity of con­versation; that you are forbid all foolish discourse, and filthy jesting, as expressly as you are forbid swearing; and that you are told to let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, and yet you go to a house of corrupt communication; you hire persons to entertain you with ribaldry, profaneness, rant and impurity of discourse; who are to present you with poisonous sentiments, and lewd imaginations, dressed up in elegant lan­guage; and to make wicked, vain, and impure discourse, more lively & delightful, than you could possibly have it in any other ill company. Is not this sinning with a high hand, and grossly offending against the plainest doctrines of scripture."

"As prejudices, the force of education, the authority of num­bers, the way of the world, the example of great names, may make people believe; so the same causes may make people act against all sense and reason, and be guilty of practices which are utterly inconsistent with the purity of their religion."

[Page 105] "If impure speeches; if wanton amours; if wild passions and immoral rant, can give us any delight, is it not past all doubt, that we have something of all these disorders in our na­ture? and that we nourish and strengthen them by those grati­fications?"

There is no doctrine of our blessed Saviour, that more con­cerns all Christians, or is more essential to their salvation than this, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." Now take the stage in its best state, when some admired trage­dy is upon it; are the extravagant passions of distracted lovers, the impure ravings of inflamed heroes, the joys and torments of love, and refined descriptions of lusts; are the indecent ac­tions, the amorous transports, the wanton address of the Actors, which makes so great a part of the most sober and modest tra­gedies; are these things consistent with the Christian doctrine of purity of heart?"

"All people who enter into these houses of entertainment, or contribute the smallest mite towards them, must look on them­selves as having been so far friends to the most powerful instru­ments of sensuality, and to be guilty of contributing to an open and public exercise of splendid impurity and profaneness. When we encourage any good design, either with our consent, our money, or presence, we are apt to take a great deal of merit to ourselves; we presently conclude that we are partakers of all that is good or praise worthy in it; of all the benefit that arises from it, because we are contributors towards it. A man does not think that he has no share in some public charity, be­cause he is but one in ten thousand that contributes towards it (or because it would go forward without his contribution) but if it be a religious charity, and attended with great and happy effects, his conscience tells him, that he is a sharer of all that great good to which he contributed. Now let this teach us how we ought to judge of the guilt of encouraging any thing that is bad, either with our consent, our money, or our presence. We must not consider how much our single part contributes towards it [Page 106] how much less we contribute than several thousands of other peo­ple, nor that the work would go forwards if we did not at all contribute to it; but we must look at the whole thing itself, & whatever there is of evil in it; or whatever evil arises from it, we must charge ourselves with a share of the whole guilt of so great an evil."

"People of fashion and quality have great advantage above the vulgar; their condition and education give them a liveliness, and brightness of parts from whence one might justly expect a more exalted virtue. How comes it then, that we see as ill mo­rals, as little religious wisdom, and as great disorders among them as among the most rude, uneducated part of the world; it is because the politeness of their lives, their course of diversi­ons & amusements, & their way of spending their time, as much extinguish the wisdom and light of religion, as the grossness and ignorance of the dullest part of the world—Any way of life that darkens our minds, that misemploys our understanding, that fills us with a trifling Spirit, that disorders our passions, that separates us from the spirit of God, is the same certain road to destruction, whether it arises from stupid sensuality, rude ig­norance, or polite pleasures. Had any one therefore, the pow­er of an Apostle, or the tongue of an Angel, it would e well employed in exposing, and dissuading from those ways of life, which wealth, corruption and politeness have brought among us. We indeed only call them diversions; but they do the whole work of idolatry and infidelity, and fill people with so much blindness and hardness of heart, that they neither live by wisdom, nor feel the want of if, but are content to play away their lives, with scarce any attention to the approaching scenes of death, judgment, and eternity."

WILLIAM PENN, in his No Cross, No Crown, says,

"How many plays, did JESUS CHRIST and his Apostles re­create themselves at? What Romances, Comedies, and the like, did the Apostles and Saints make, or use, to pass away their time withal? I know, they bid all redeem their time, to avoid foolish talking, vain jesting, profane babblings, and fabulous [Page 107] stories, as what tend to ungodliness, and rather to watch, to work out their salvation with fear and trembling, to flee foolish and youthful lusts, and to follow Righteousness, Peace, Goodness, Love, Charity, and to mind the things that are above, as they would have Honour, Glory, Immortality, and Eternal Life."


Pricipal of the University, of Paris, and a zealous advocate for the moral and religions education of youth, recites the following passage from the writings of Rochefoucault, with approbation:

‘All great diversions are dangerous to a Christian: but of all that have been invented, there is none we have so much reason to fear as plays. The passions, in these entertain­ments, are so naturally and artfully delineated, that they are excited by them, and imprinted on our hearts, especially that of love; & this more forcibly, when it is represented as chaste & honest: for the more innocent it appears to innocent souls, the more strongly are they disposed to be affected with it.’


speaking of the pernicious effects of Plays, says, ‘Upon setting up or opening a certain Theatre, its contiguity to the City soon made it a Place of resort, and what was apprehended from the advertisement of the Plays to be exhibited in that quarter of the town, soon follow­ed; the adjacent Houses became Taverns in name, but in truth they were houses of lewd Resort, and the former occu­piers of them, useful Manufacturers and industrious Artificers were driven to seek elsewhere for a Residence.’

And he farther remarks ‘that the Merchants of London then a grave sagacious Body of Men, found the Theatre was a temptation to idleness and to pleasure, that their Clerks could not resist; they regretted to see the corruptions of Covent-Gar­dens extended; and the Scats of industry hold forth allure­ments [Page 108] to Vice and Debauchery’—And again he observes ‘That altho' of plays it is said, that they teach Morality, and of the Stage, that it is the mirror of human life, these asser­tions are mere declamation, and have no foundation in truth or experience, on the contrary a Play House, and the Regions about it, are the very Hot Beds of Vice; how else comes it to pass that no sooner is a Play House opened in any part of the Kingdom, than it becomes a Halo (or Circle) of Brothels.—Of this truth the neighbour [...]ood of the place I am now speaking of has had Experience; One Parish alone adjacent thereto, having to my knowledge expended the Sum of £1300 in prosecutions for the purpose of removing those Inhabitants whom the Play House had drawn thither.’

MONTAGUE, in his reflections on the rise and fall of the an­tient republics, observes, on the account given by Plutarch, of the effects of theatrical entertainments above two thousand years ago.

"Could we raise that venerable sage (Plutarch) from the grave to take a short survey of the manners of our own country­men, would he not find an amazingly exact copy of those of the Athenians? Would he not see the same series of daily and night­ly diversions, adapted to the taste of every class of people, from the public breakfastings (that bane of the time and indu­stry of the tradesman) up to our modern orgies, the masque­rade &c."

"This strange degeneracy of the Athenian manners, which Plutarch so severely censures, was first introduced by Pericles—he procured a law that every citizen was entitled to a gratuity out of the public money, for not only attending the courts of judicature and the assemblies of the states, but even at the en­tertainments of the theatre, &c. thus Pericles bought the peo­ple with their own money; the consequence of this corruption, we may learn from the writings of Demosthenes, was, that in a few years time the Athenians were no more the same people."

[Page 109] "Athens, however, by her fall has left us some instructions &c. warned by her fate we may learn, that luxury and a pre­vailing fondness for public diversions, are the never sailing fore­runners of universal Idleness, Effeminacy and Corruption. Re­duced at last to a province of the Romans, Athens contributed her taste, for arts and sciences, towards polishing; and her pas­sion for theatrical performances, towards corrupting the man­ners of that people."

"The regular drama (as it is called) was imported with the luxury of Greece, but every species of this kind of entertain­ment, whether tragedy, comedy, farce or pantomime, was com­prehended under the general denomination of Stage-Plays, and the different performers alike ranged under the general Term of Players. The profession itself was scandalous and proper on­ly for Slaves, and if once a Roman citizen appeared upon the stage, he immediately forfeited his right of voting, and every o­ther privilege of a free man."

"The generous Spartan, trained up in a state when public virtue still continued to be the object of public applause, could not behold the ridiculous assiduity of the Choragi, or magistrates who presided at the public shews, and the immense sums they lavished in the decorations of a new tragedy, without indigna­tion.


published in England in the year 1745—during the time of the Rebellion, the author in a pathetic expostulation with his countrymen on the dissipation prevailing, and bringing into view many signal Providential deliverances extend­ed to Great Britain in times of iminent danger and calamity; expresses himself on the subject of stage entertainments in the fol­lowing terms: "Should I pretend to give a view of the wickedness of the Theatre, I should not know where to begin or to what length the subject would carry me. For whether I insisted on the lewd­ness or impiety of most of the plays themselves, on the infa­mous [Page 110] characters of the actors and actresses, on the scandalous farces they commonly tag the gravest plays with, or above all on the inhumanly impudent dances and songs, with which they lard them between the acts: I say, whichsoever of these parti­culars I insisted on, each of them would furnish matter for a great many pages, and much more, if I should enter upon a fall view of them all. Indeed the theatre is at present on such a footing, that it is impossible to enter it, and not come out the worse for having been in it; for now a days a good play is no other than a trap to draw in the modest and innocent to a love of theatrical entertainments; and the minds of the spectators are not the safer from being polluted and de­bauched, tho' the play itself be in the main decent and modest; since the ingenious contrivance of the managers entirely pre­vents the good effects of any worthy sentiment expressed in the play by introducing a painted strumpet at the end of every act, to cut capers on the stage in such an impudent and unwomanly manner, as must make the most shocking impression on every mind; & lest the audience should chance in spite of all this, to car­ry away somewhat that might make their hearts the better, a ludicrous and shameless farce concludes the whole, and with one stroke erases all the little traces of virtuous sentiments that were formed by the play itself.

"I only beg leave to ask you my dear countrymen, for what purpose you support a sacred order of men to teach you the pure and holy laws of the Christian Religion, and at the same time encourage by your countenance and your riches a set of the very dregs of human nature, who make it their business to debauch your minds by their lewd compositions and wanton gesticulations, to fill them with impure and vile ideas, and to disappoint the most diligent endeavours of a christian ministry. Surely it can never be consistent with com­mon sense to support in the same country, one order of men for the propagation of virtue and Religion, and another for the destruction of them; to maintain one set of people for promot­ing a reformation of manners, and another for promoting an u­niversal corruption."

[Page 111] "It is the saying of a Great man of the last age, That upon some accounts it were better that wicked men would fairly re­nounce christianity than continue to profess it, and at the same time disgrace it by their scandalous lives: And indeed it could be no such matter of grief to good men to see a nation or bar­barians overran with vice and debauchery, as to see this nation once illustrious for its purity in doctrine & practice, celebrated for its martyrs, & which pretends to be the grand bulwark of the protestant religion; to see this nation I say thus sunk to a pitch of lewdness in its public entertainments which at Athens, where they worshiped the unknown God, would have thrown the ce­lebrated diversions of the stage into utter disgrace."

"And are these favourite pleasures which so wholly engross and bewitch a christian nation that we can not live without them even while an enemy is laying waste our country, and ex­pected every hour at our gates?

"And now my dear countrymen, what remains or what more is in the power of any private person, than after having thus laid before you a brief view of the national guilt that has brought the late troubles into our land, to conclude this little tract by earnestly calling upon each particular rank to exert themselves in their public and private stations for bringing a­bout that general reformation which is necessary for averting a final and extirpating judgment."


IT must be evident to every sober and unprejudiced mind, that the sentiments of these enlightened men, on the corrupting influence, and the fatal amusements, of the theatre, merit the most serious and attentive consideration: and to some minds, it is apprehended, they will appear to be solid and awakening reflections.

If it be true, that many profane, indecent, and irreligious sentiments are to be found in the works of dramatic writers, and these sentiments coloured with the softest names, and re­commended on the stage by the most captivating characters and actions;—if the senses and imagination are so charmed with the [Page 112] elegance of the scenery, the richness of the dresses, the power of the music, the address of the performers, and the gai [...]y and splendour of the whole surrounding scene, as to deprive the mind of sober reflection, and agitate it too much for receiving benefit from moral and rational instruction—if these passionate and fascinating exhibitions injure the delicacy of our best feel­ings, and gradually weaken our abhorrence of immoral indul­gences; if they frequently break down the ramparts of our vir­tue, and lay us open to the inroads and government of vice and folly;—if they chiefly address the inferior powers of our nature, our senses, imagination, and passions, and regale them with such high-seasoned enjoyments, as too often vitiate our moral taste, and not only indispose, but give us a disgust to every com­position that is not much refined, and especially to the Holy Scriptures, and those sober and religious studies and engage­ments, which from the great duties of life, and promote our happiness here and hereafter;—if the persons who attend these places of diversions; do neither look for, nor receive, any seri­ous impressions from them, but, on the contrary, often find their minds enervated, and accompanied with a vain and romantic spirit;—if they occupy, in the perusal and exhibition, in the preparation for them and langour after them, so much of our precious time, as to prevent us from attending to necessary and important concerns; and thus also superinduce habits of indo­lence and dissipation;—if they abound with flattering pictures of the world, and present, to the youthful mind especially, such highly finished and captivating views of human life and happi­ness, as are seldom or never realized; and hence, besides an a­version or indifference to the ordinary duties and affairs of mankind, not unfrequently produce deep anxiety, disappoint­ment, and discontent through time,—if it be of importance to preserve the principles and manners of the rising generation pure and untainted, to prevent them from being governed by their imagination and passions, and to encourage in them mode­sty, humility, moderation, and a reverence for piety and virtue;—if religion and goodness must be supported by constant care and vigilance, and our preservation from evil depends on our [Page 113] preservation from evil depends on our avoiding temptations, and praying daily for Divine assistance against it;—if many great and good men have borne public testimony against the per­nicious tendency of these amusements; and if numbers of seri­ous and worthy characters of all denominations, have been convinced of the evils connected with them, and thought it their duty to avoid and discourage the attendance and support of them;—it Christianity teaches us to consider ourselves as stran­gers and pilgrims, travelling towards a better country; and admonishes us not to love the world, nor to be conformed to its vain customs and fashions, but to be transformed by the re­newing of our minds, and to maintain a steady self-denial against the lust of the flesh, the last of the eyes, and the pride of life;—if these are the common effects and consequences of dramatic entertainments, and truths which cannot fairly be controverted, can we hesitate to acknowledge, that they are of the highest moment, and that it is incumbent upon us not to expose our principles and virtue to the influence of temptations, which are the more dangerous, as they are highly pleasing, little suspected, and seldom opposed?

What advantages can they yeild us, that will compensate the loss or hazard of interests so important. All the pleasures, and all the refinements which their warmest votaries have ever found in them, are indeed a poor recompence for the corrupti­on, extravagance, and misery which they have too frequently sown the seeds of, and produced in human life.

It becomes us then, as rational beings, as Christians, who are called to renounce the vanities of this transient precarious state, and who have a permanent and better world in view, to assert the dignity of our nature, and to act conformably to the impor­tance of our destination. A few fleeting years will bring us all to the verge of an awful scene, when the vain diversions and pastimes, which are now so highly prized, will appear in their true light, a most lamentable abuse of that precious time and ta­lent with which we have been entrusted, for the great purpose of working out our soul's salvation. At that solemn period, tho great business of religion, a pious and virtuous life; dedicated to the love and service of God, will appear of inestimable value, and, in the highest degree, worthy of the concern and pursuit of reasonable beings. Happy will it be for us, if we become wise in time, take up the cross to all ensnaring pleasures, for the few remaining days of our lives, and steadily persevere, under the Divine Aid, in fulfiling the various duties assigned us, & in making suitable returns to the Author of all good, for the unmerited blessings which he hath bountifully bestowed up­on [Page 114] us. In these exalted employments we shall experience the noblest pleasure, and feel no want of empty and injurious en­tertainments, to occupy our minds, or to fill up our time. In the scens and productions of nature, and in the useful works of art; in the faithful narratives of human life, and the descrip­tion of interesting objects; in the endearments of social and do­mestic intercourse; in acts of charity and benevolence; and in the pleasing reflections of an upright and self-approving mind, we shall perceive also abundant sources of innocent refreshment and true cheerfulness, as well as the means of enlarging our understandings and improving our hearts.

May those persons, therefore, who have doubts respecting propriety of indulging themselves in theatrical amusements, and, indeed, may all who read these lines, seriously consider the hazard of such indulgences and give the subject that attention which its importance demand. May those especially, who are convinced of their dangerous nature and tendency; reject with abhorrence the solicitations of appetite and pleasure, and the fallacious reasonings which are often adduced in their support. May we never be imposed on by the common, but de­lusive sentiments, that moral and religious improvement is to be acquired from such impure mixtures; and that the literary merit, and accurate knowledge of the human heart, which are displayed in many parts of dramatic works, will alone for the fatal wounds which innocence, delicacy, and religion, too fre­quently suffer from these performances. But being convinced that depraved nature will ever select what is most congenial to itself; and that the pleasures derived from refined compositi­on, and the exhibitions of taste and elegance, may be purcha­sed at too dear a rate, let us resolutely and uniformly oppose what we believe to be evil, however it may be arrayed; and do our utmost to discourage by our example and influence, those powerful and destructive engines of dissipation, profaneness and, corruption.

THE following sentiments, so expressive of the nature and power of true religion, and its influence upon his own mind was solemnly expressed by GILBERT BUR­NET, near the conclusion of his days.

"I WILL conclude with that which is the most important of all things, and which alone will carry every thing else along with it; which is; to recommend, in the most solemn and seri­ous [Page 115] manner, the study and practice of religion to all sorts of men, as that which is both the light of the world, and salt of the earth.

"Nothing does so open our faculties, and compose and direct the whole man, as an inward sense of God; of his authority o­ver us; the laws he hath set us; of his eye over us; of his hearing our prayers; assisting our endeavours; watching over our concerns; of his being to judge, & reward or punish us in a­nother state, according to what we do in this. Nothing will give a man such a detestation of sin, and such a sense of the good­ness of God, and of our obligations to holiness, as a right un­derstanding and firm belief of the Christian religion. Nothing can give a man so calm a peace within, and such a firm securi­ty against all fears and dangers without, as the belief of a kind, wise providence, and of a future state."

"Integrity of heart gives a man courage and confidence that cannot be shaken. A man is sure, that by living according to the rules of religion, he becomes the wisest, the best & the happi­est creature that he is capable of being. Honest industry, the employing of time well, a constant sobriety, an undefiled purity and chastity, with a quiet serenity, are the best preservatives too of life and health: so that take a man as an individual, re­ligion is his guard, his perfection, his beauty, and his glory. This will make him a light in the world, shining brightly, and enlightening many round about him."

"Thus, religion, if truly received and sincerely adhered to, would prove the greatest of all blessings to a nation. But, by religion; I understand something more than the receiving of some doctrines, though ever so true, or the professing of them, and engaging to support them, not without zeal and eagerness. What signify the best doctrines, if men do not live suitably to them; if they have not a due influence upon their thoughts and their lives? Men of bad lives, with found opinions, are self con­demned and lie under a highly aggravated guilt."

"By religion, I do not mean an outward compliance with forms and customs, in going to Church, to prayers, to sermons, and to sacraments, with an external shew of devotion; or, which is more, with some inward forced good thoughts, in which many satisfy themselves, while they have no visible ef­fect on their lives, nor any [...]ward force to subdue' and rectify their appetites, passions, and [...]ecret designs. Those customary performances, how good and useful soever, when understood, and rightly directed, are of little value when they rest on them, and think because they do them, they have acquitted themselves of their duty, though they continue still proud, covetous, full of deceit, envy and malice. Even secret prayers, the most ef­fectual [Page 116] means, are designed for a higher end; which is, to pos­sess our minds with such a constant and present sense of divine truths, as may make he set live in us, and draw down such as­sistance, as to exalt and sanctify our natures."

"So that, by religion, I mean such a sense of divine truth as enters into a man, and becomes the spring of a new nature within him; reforming his thoughts and designs, purifying his heart; sanctifying and governing his whole deportment, his words as well as his actions; convincing him that it is not e­nough not to be scandalously vicious, or to be innocent in his conversation, but that he must be entirely, uniformly, and con­stantly pure and virtuous, animated with zeal to be still better and better, more eminently good and exemplary."

"This is true religion, which is the perfection of human na­ture, and the joy and delight of every one that feels it active and strong within him. It is true this is not arrived at, all at once, and it will have an unhappy alloy, hanging long even about a good man; but, as those ill mixtures are the perpetual grief of his soul, so that it is his chief care to watch over, and mortify them, he will be in a continual progress, still gaining ground upon himself: and as he attains to a degree of purity, he will find a flame of life and joy growing up in him. Of this I write with a greater concern and emotion, because I have felt this the true, and indeed, the only joy which runs through a man's heart and life. It is that which hath been, for many years my greatest support. I rejoice daily in it, I feel from it the earnest of that supreme joy which I want & long for; and I am sure there is nothing else which can afford any true and com­plete happiness."


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