« PreviousContinue »
&c. 3dly, That justification, as taken for remission of sin, accounting penitents as just as if they had not sinned, refers to Christ as a propitiation. He was our common offering for sin;' and as the word is taken for man's being made inherently just and holy, it refers to Christ as the sanctifier of his people; so that it is Christ still, every way, by which we hope for salvation. And for our works, even the best, such as James meant, James ii. they are rewardable, but not meritorious; because there is no proportion between the work and wages; for "the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord," Rom. vi. 23.
Your ninth charge is, That we deny the divinity of Christ,' (but your reasons shame your charge); And this they do with a witness,' say you, if they make him nothing but themselves.' But if we do not, what have you made of yourselves, think you? Who, of us, ever said so? Are we the "Light that lighteth all that come into the world?" Or did we make the world? Indeed you are very gross. Your other proof is as lame; you say, We deny him to be God; but not a word of ours cited to that purpose; for we believe, that "Christ was God manifested in the flesh;" as John i. 14. 1 Tim. iii. 16.
Your tenth charge is antarctic to your ninth: for now you say, We more plainly deny his humanity.' Thus you make us shift and take turns at faith, till you have left us none: but what are your proofs? G. F. Myst. p. 71. Christ is not human: where doth the scripture speak of human? We deny the word human.' But that all readers may deny you, till you deny yourselves the pleasure of abusing us, we will repeat the place as it lies.
Priest saith, Christ's human nature,' &c,
G. Fox Answ. Where doth the scripture speak of human? The word human, where is it written? Tell us, that we may search for it? Now we do not deny that Christ, according to the flesh, was of Abraham, but not the word human and Christ's nature is not human, which is earthly, for that is the first Adam.' Now, Athenians, if you can, blush! What! make us deny that Christ came of the seed of Abraham after the flesh, by a place that owns it, and that owns it fully, scripturally, and as it should be owned and worded by Christians, that use the form of sound words, given them by the Holy Ghost, denying only a school-term, borrowed from the ground: this is hard!
Thus you serve us also in your last charge, where you will have us to deny angels, spirits, heaven, and hell; and so make an end of us, and our religion. And to prove it,
you bring a book, that is none of ours; and not without injury to the author neither; and then conclude us, 'a compendium of all heresies;' naming twenty-two of them rank and file, and a cum multis aliis at the tail of them. But if they had as foul play from their judges, as we have had from you, they will deserve a better name. However, you are obliged to us, that we have abbreviated heresy for you; and yet you have not convicted us of any one point that deserves that black name. We must say, we are sorry to see you act as if you thought us exempted from the common claims of humanity; to be dealt with as you please, and as if injuries could not be committed upon such wretches as we are in your esteem: for you add, diminish, pervert, and that boldly; and when you have shaped and dressed up the monster, you are pleased to write Quaker upon him, and then lead him about the streets, in your Mercuries, for a show, at a penny a-piece: God Almighty show you mercy, that allow us none, but refuse to be just! for, after all your black charges, you fall to asking what our faith is? which should have been first done.
You objected upon us, 'Of turning the other cheek ;' saying, 'It was patience per force.'
But you are mistaken in fact; we have put up legal advantages many times, and endured and forgiven innumerable personal injuries from those out of office as well as from those that have been in government; nay, oftentimes dared cruelties and oppression with a literal conformity to the text. Speak not so peremptorily what you do not know; you expect better things from our religion, than your own, and yet would have ours to be worse.
2. You say, 'It was not conscience, but an unaccountable, not to say brutal, stubbornness.' You have endeavoured to rob us of our religion; will you now rob us of our suffering, and the good intention of it too? For that word of yours authorizes all the imprisonments, plunders, banishments, and murders we have suffered since a people; and, if we should strain consequences, intitles you as arrant persecutors, as bishop Bonner, or Dr. Story.
But, 3rdly, You say, We give hard words: Do we? Such as the things call for, doubtless: I hope no personal reflections? Yes, Whitehead complains of a new persecution' and with very good reason, when the old is justified by you, and you proclaim us a Compendium of twoand-twenty heresies,' with multis aliis at the end of it: which, in other words, is saying, Take them, Dr. Pinfold.' Again; 'You take it ill,' he says, you make beasts and
devils of us' but what else, pray, do you make of us, when you cannot make worse of us than you have?
You add, That we call you impertinent:' and pertinently, we think, to ramble, as you have done, from your province, to spread invectives upon us. 'Wicked:' what can you think it less, to abuse an whole people in the tenderest point? Followers of blind guides:' how else could you have missed your way so much? For it is plain nothing can be more mistaken. It is a wonder,' say you, 'dumb dogs do not come in too, though we have no silent meetings.' We cannot think why you should wonder at that, since you know how much you have barked at us. There
is no danger of your being dumb, but deaf. And since you brought in this to introduce your profane jest at our silent meetings, we must tell you, you may see in yourselves the use of silence, by your abuse of speech; and therein a defence of us, and a reproof to you. In short, we recommend silence to you, as Pythagoras did to his scholars, till you have learned to speak better than you do.
The next thing is your ten questions, an unreasonable as well as an unsuitable conclusion: for you first judge; and then query; and, after charging us home, you ask, 'What is our belief?' It shows too great a levity, for men of your claim to sense; and, though not enthusiastical, yet, if you will not be angry, it looks very silly. But because, for that reason, it does not look malicious, you may have an answer, though least of all for your sakes, by another hand. But, before we part, pray take this along with you: our religion, and the true religion, which makes people truly religious, is the fear of God, planted in the soul by the grace of God, which sanctifies and rules the heart and affections; and not creeds of words, though never so true: for the devils have knowledge and faith; but their knowledge does not work by obedience, nor their faith by love; and therefore they are never the better for it: nor are wicked men, as the world shows. Religion, then, is a divine experience and work in the soul, by the divine spirit. It is regeneration, and that a new creature, Gal. vi. 15, 16. And as the Jew inward is the circumcision of the heart, so is that the character of a true Christian. A short creed of words served of old with an upright heart. "Thou art the Son of God, Thou art the King of Israel," was Nathaniel's confession. "My Lord and my God," was all Thomas's retractation and creed, John xx. 23. And Peter's confession of faith is little larger, Mat. xvi. 18. Thus also the blind, lame, and sick, that come believingly to him.
To be a Christian then, was to be, like Christ, meek, humble, holy, loving, patient; and this his light and spirit maketh those that embrace it. Unto which we refer and exhort you, and all to whom these papers may come, as the great agent of man's happiness; desiring earnestly that our care may be about our conformity to our Saviour, rather than controversies about him; since the first true religion is to be like Christ, I Pet. ii. 21. chap. iii. 10, 11, 12. 1 John ii. 6. Say not then, That we value our title to Chistianity by human laws;' you wrong us much: ours hath an higher claim; and so must yours, if you expect to be saved by it. We spoke not of being therefore Christians in God's account, but of being esteemed enough to live quieter than your invectives seem to let us, among men. But it is not the least part of the cross we bear, to be, in almost every thing, so much misunderstood, and by some so evilly represented. One while they will have us deny the divinity of Christ; another while, the humanity. Sometimes we must be Socinians; then Sabellians. Very often we are told, That we expect to be saved by our own works;' and as often, 'That we will do nothing, unless the spirit move us.' Again, Sometimes we are said to send all to hell but ourselves;' and presently, We deny any such thing.' Aye, we are accused withIdolatry to men's persons,' and yet 'Scorned for denying all honours or respects to the persons of men.' Just thus we are made to disown all ministry;' and by and by accused, That every one among us is a minister, or may be so.' It would be tedious to repeat the contradictions, and absurd dilemmas men have brought themselves into, by their rash and unjust attempts against us; which they will easily perceive, that please to peruse some of our controversial tracts, as, Rusticus ad Academicos; The Christian Quaker, in two parts; R. B.'s Apology and Defence; Quakerism a New Nick-name for Old Christianity, and the Rejoinder in its defence; The Way cast-up; Reason against Railing, and, Wisdom Justified of her Children,' &c. In which our belief is distinguished and defended, against the abuses which men, through ignorance or prejudice, have put upon it. God Almighty enlighten and forgive them. That is the worst of our wishes, for their many hard speeches against us, and our holy profession: concluding, after all your unfriendly usage,
Your well-wishing friends.