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Indeed, you are very unguarded in your expressions. "Nor," say you, "so much as Christ in a proper sense. We do not understand you. Would you have any thing die but the body? You deny the soul's sleeping, and falsly make it a principle of ours, with the addition of a Socinian dream. If not, then ye say, Christ died,' as we say, since that was the body of Christ that died. You dream of our idolizing one another from this principle of Christ being in men. But take it from us, (as you ought in justice) what we believe, and not from enemies, that seek advantages, and screw, wring, and pervert our words, that we abhor such practices. But you have three evidences, which, as you think, cannot fail you.
1. That many of us worshipped Nayler.' Just as much as we worship Francis Bugg, or you. But this we know, that your many were a few, and yet too many, giddy men and women; and that their actions were denied by us, and by themselves at last.
Your second proof, as you pretend, is J. Coal's words, in a letter to G. F. And your last proof, which doubtless you think your best, is a passage in a letter of J. Audland's to G. Fox.
But first, Where these letters are, you do not tell us, nor give us any sufficient authority for them, nor for the truth of your copies; which, upon so high a charge, should, in common justice, have been done.
2. Besides, they are given us in fractions, and &c.'s as appears by your breaks; and that is also unfair. For might not they write to G. F. and yet fall to pray and praise God occasionally also? A thing frequent in religious correspondences.
3. But if it were a fault, must it include an whole people? Was it writ to them, or printed by them? Be just!
4. Is it their practice? If not, you are to blame; and if it be, you must certainly have more instances, and fresher than J. A. who has been deceased almost thirty years. But this shows your uncharitableness, that any thing, at any time, or at any hand, shall serve you to back your unwary and unreasonable charges against us..
5. And we believe J. A. was too good a man to intend G. F. in that sense you take it, and G. F. to accept it; whose labour was to turn the eyes of people from man to Christ, which lays the axe to all human and creaturely exaltation. And G. F. lived a true example of humility, and abominated all such appearances of evil. And they that ever saw or heard him pray, would not think he should like being any one's idol; since, above all men, he appeared to
express the profoundest reverence to God and Christ in prayer; as strangers, to him and us, have occasionally observed and declared. And as he lived he died, in care for nothing, But the glory of God, and the exaltation of the kingdom of his Son in his people; and, as it was said of David, "He left us in a good old age, full of days, and of durable riches and honour."
In answer to the Athenian Mercury of the 14th of the 4th month, called June.
THE first part of your third Mercury finds an answer in the conclusion of ours to your second yet since you make such a voluminous pother about R. B.'s words of the body of Christ, as well as of the letter to G. F. taking up, in their aggravation, more than the room of seven other charges, we shall consider what you say: which is this. If the nature of this eternal light, substance, or spiritual body, that is in all of them, be material; as it must be, because, according to them, a divisible substance; then there is plain penetration of dimensions, and every Quaker carries about all transubstantiation in his belly.'
But why, pray you, must it be a material substance? Do you find it in the first of John, iv. 9? for there is our light asserted and described. The life of the word is our light, and your light, if you please." In the word was life, and that life the light of men; and that was the true light, that lighteth every man that comes into the world." Is that life no substance? And if it be, is it a material or spiritual one? And if it be a spiritual one, is it, or is it needful it should be, a divisible one? Consider well; is the sun divided because all see by it? No more is Christ: so that divisibility is your own conceit, and not our opinion or consequence of it, but of your mistaking it: and all the transubstantiation you thought was in our belly, proves, at last, to be in your own heads; and, it is hoped, this will help to get it out for you.
Again; you say, 'If immaterial, let them make sense of it if they can, for to us it is pure Quakerism.' How now, Athenians! Have you never met with immaterial substances in your reading? Then, surely, you have travelled but a little way in the commonwealth of letters. Both the new and old philosophy must be strangers to you; and, which is worse, you are so to the Bible. Wash your eyes, therefore, I pray, and turn to John vi. from 48 to 63, and
tell us, if you will, or can, 'Who is the living bread there that comes down from heaven; and what is that flesh and blood Christians must feed upon if they would be saved?' Here is an immaterial substance or body for yon, one of God's providing, which, you, in derision, call pure Quakerism' but very glad we are of it, and should be more, that you were better acquainted with it. We pity your extreme ignorance of heavenly things; for nothing else could make you so gross, or abusive, upon so essential a part of religion, and us for asserting it. Take not that strictly, which is spoken with construction; not that properly or literally, which is figuratively and mystically expressed, or to be understood, and we shall neither appear so monstrous, nor you so much mistaken. You may wring as great inconsistency out of scripture as any other book, if you take that course to expound it. Be therefore just to us, and show you would inform us, or be informed by us, as sometimes you would have us to believe; but do not jeer at what you do not understand, nor charge what you do not know.
For your aggravation of the letter to G. F. and the confident conclusions you make of our idolatry, they are both untrue and abusive: it is not our principle, it was never our practice; abhorring utterly that extravagant as well as unchristian imputation; no people or testimony, since the world began, laying men lower than we have done, even to a fault, in our adversaries' apprehension. For we have not only opposed an idolatry to creatures or works of men's hands, which is the grosser sort, but that of the mind also; the worship men too generally, and too zealously, pay to their own imaginations, or the ideas they have framed to themselves of God and Christ; and will, at any rate, make others do so too, if they can. A refined idolatry too many are guilty of, that exclaim against the other; and very pernicious to the soul's true knowledge and enjoyment of God and Christ.
Your fifth charge is, That we deny the Trinity.' But you should, in justice, have added, of persons, with all the school-niceties and distinctions that belong to that sort of explication of scripture; for to that only it is your first proof refers, viz. W. P's Sandy Foundation, p. 12. For the scripture no-where calls God the Holy Three of Israel, but Holy One of Israel.' And if he had said, imagined Trinity, p. 16. as you cite, which he does not, in the copy we have, it ought not to be so heinous with you, since three persons are not to be found in the Bible, which you exalt for the only rule of faith. And if you will not allow that council to be infallible that formed that article above 300
years after Christ's ascension, as to be sure you will not, I hope it must be their imagination of the text, if not a Divine inspiration. Your proof, 1 John v. 7. "There are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, and these three are one," will not support your charge, because it contains not the matter controverted in it, viz. Three persons, for that is the point in controversy. Let it suffice, if you please, that we believe the scripture, though we reject that interpretation; and that we own three witnesses, and that those three are one; without allowing the intricacy and confusion of the schools.
Your second proof is from Sweet Sips: but that is no Quaker's book, and so no proof upon us. Be more cautious another time, and know better what you do.
Your sixth charge, That we hold the soul sleeps,' you yourselves retract, but would have it a fruit of your ingenuity; and because we would encourage a thing so rare with you, we will at this time spare your disingenuity in making it. But, as if you were more troubled at our being clear than guilty, and at yourselves for missing the blow at us, than for abusing us; to recover that slip, and to make us amends, your ingenuous retraction ends in two other charges.
1. That we deny the resurrection of the body. 2. The distinct existence of the soul after death.' Your proof for the first is G. Whitehead's saying, ' That he did not believe his body should rise again after death: (but G. W. denies that to be his answer :) and William Penn's not denying it to John Faldo.' Whereas they answer no otherwise than what the apostle said to the Corinthians, "Thou sowest not that body which shall be," 1 Cor. xv. 37. How is it then a crime, to deny your gross conceit of the resurrection? For, in all scriptural respects, we reverently and joyfully own the resurrection, as we have good cause to do, of all people. And if you believe, that death came by sin, that innocent, wise, and upright man, I. Pennington, 2 Prin. p. 34. was not out of the way; to say, 'That what we lost in the first Adam we regained in the second;' and the resurrection, to be sure, is not the least part; which is alone through him that was himself "the first-begotten from the dead." And for 'Sweet Sips,' though none of ours, yet no proof for you; for the very quotation owns the resurrection. But curious questions we avoid, and count them the foolish and unlearned ones that the apostle forbad, 1 Tim. vi. 4, 5 2 Tim. ii. 22, 23. being more solicitous that we appear accepted with God, than with what bodies we shall appear.
2. That we deny the distinct existence of the soul,' is
as false as that we assert the soul sleeps; but, perhaps, you think that 'Sweet Sips' will help you out, chap. 26. but for that very proof you owe us another retraction; and we wish you may do it more ingenuously than you did your last.
Your seventh charge is, 'That we have been looked upon as fly-blows of the Jesuits.' If so, upon what church, pray you, did they beget us? but out of the abundance of your hearts your mouths speak, and that foully, and falsly too, too often. But your proofs for this? Why, most writers say so.' Do they so? Where are they, pray? And for what reasons? But you say not a word of that. This you cannot think a fruit of your ingenuity. But, it seems, if we would peruse Ignatius's life, we should think him as arrant a Quaker as William Penn himself.' So that while you take it ill of us to refer you, for our belief, to our own books, and do not write new ones to tell you our religion, you take upon you to send us to other people's books to learn our own, and that with reflections also. In this, whatever you think, you are not over-modest or reasonable. But if inside be outside; if spirit be forms; plainness, pomp; conviction, implicit faith; and Christ's kingdom be of this world, you are in the right, or else you abuse us.
Your eighth charge makes us to deny the plenary satisfaction of Christ, and to rest upon our own merits. It is some comfort to us, that there is not one charge that is a text of scripture, or delivered in scripture-phrase. Where do you find plenary satisfaction in the bible? Or what do you mean by it? You, that would have it the only rule, should make it yours. You cite J. N.'s Love to the Lost, p. 7. his righteouness imputed, or put into the creature;' and this you squib at; not considering that Abraham was really righteous, when his faith was imputed, or accounted, to him for righteousness; or you will charge the Holy Ghost with wrong reckonings. But any thing rather than have Christ's righteousness within men. Pray read 1 Sam. xxii. 15. Psal. xxxii. 2. and you will find impute, or imputeth, so applied. Your second proof is R. B. p. (no where) saying, We are justified by Christ formed in us.' And so we are, in the complete sense of the word; for the word comprehends remission of sins that are past, upon repentance, and sanctification, or being made holy and just inwardly. And, to be plain with you, we do believe, 1st. "That Christ died for all, and is a propitiation for the sins of the world," 1 John ji. 1, 2. 2dly, "That he was herein the effect, rather than cause, of the Father's love;" as John iii. 16. and 1 John iv. 9, 10. "God so loved the world,"