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whom did the first Quaker hear? He will surely allow us a beginning. However, I would have him know, no man can see divine truth by another man's speaking or writing, but through divine light, that shines in himself, giving him the understanding thereof: "for though the spirit of man knows the things of a man; yet the things of God knows no man, but the Spirit of God:" and therefore it is upon conviction, and not human authority, that our religion is built. And it is great uncharitableness in this opponent, as well as injustice, to charge a whole people with a confederacy against themselves, to their temporal woe, and eternal destruction that so much sobriety, patience, self-denial, suffering, constancy through all times and conditions, should be interpreted trick, juggling, legerdemain, on purpose to cozen the world, and their own souls; as this author is pleased to render them. But to inform him a little better, if yet he needs it; those clubs, as he is pleased to term them, that are subordinate to a general assembly, are not meetings to define and enjoin faith, or uniformity of worship, wherein conscience is more immediately exercised; but meetings of order and discipline, to take care of the poor, of fatherless and widows, and all that walk up to the holy profession they make which, I hope, is no argument against us, as if we embraced our religion by rote, and not by the illu minations and convictions of the light and Spirit of Christ Jesus.
Page 52. And W. P. thinks it consistent with the honour that is due to the scripture, to compare it with Roman legends.'
Answer. He would have done well to have cited the place where I had done so ill. I must leave it to my reader to do me justice against this gross writer, who says one of the worst things without the least proof. I am sure I could no more have been guilty of such an expression, than of renouncing my own belief: I pray God forgive him! But I would have him remember, that he is one day to be judged for this abuse.
I come to the second head of my reply; viz.
His insinuations and insincerity.'
Page 4. W. P. asserting, in sundry pieces, liberty of conscience to be ex jure naturali, has destroyed all morality, confounded blessings and curses, good and evil, somewhat worse than Hobbs himself: for he only asserts a natural
liberty, but this, a divine privilege to do wickedness in the name of the Lord.'
Answer. He has not quoted any one book, less the place, where he makes me capable of being guilty of so dangerous a principle; which, I hope, without being partial, I may say, is very disingenuous. If he can point me to any part of my writings, in defence of that noble principle of liberty, that has not in it a sufficient saving to morality, I will ask him and the world forgiveness; and if it has, I hope he knows whose part it is to cry Peccavi. But to insinuate I write for liberty of conscience, as a natural right, for those that should plead conscience to overthrow it, because I did maintain it in favour of those that kept within the bounds of morality, is to show none towards me.
Page 6. He very weakly, as well as unworthily, insinuates a near relation betwixt me and the Jesuits. First, some one of the society may have had, at one time or other, a title-page with the words, misrepresented, and, represented, in it, which make up a part of mine, with which he is so angry; as if title-pages were confessions of faith, or that the same words might not be used by men of different persuasions. It is to say, 'Because misrepresented may be misapplied, therefore it is not to be used.' Any man may be misrepresented; must not he therefore represent himself aright, for fear of being a Jesuit? This, to be sure, gives a very ill representation of him.
In the next place he says, 'W. P. imping the Jesuit again, he represents his own religion as like ours as may be, by the new softening method of Meaux.'
Truly, I do not know what religion he is of; for he has no more told us that, than his name; but a protestant, I suppose, at large and yet I am ready to think I can subscribe as many of the doctrines of the Reformation as himself. But if our religion be so like it, why does he labour in his whole treatise to render ours so grossly contrary to theirs? Contrary things do not look alike, for then they cannot properly be said to be contrary. And if we are of so softening a disposition, does he well to be so very hard? But truly I think it no fault to have a religion unlike his, unless it had more of sobriety and charity in it. However, the Jesuits are much beholden to him, whatever I am; it being the first time I have heard their methods esteemed so soft nor had they now had, I believe, that compliment from him, but to render us jesuitical, or popish at least.
Page 7. He adds, For W. P.'s scheme is, first to give the perversion of Quakerism, and then to represent it in equivocal terms, after his own way.'
By which he would have the reader think we are insincere, as well as mistaken; and that we have a design upon ourselves, to cozen ourselves, as well as the world, in the great business of salvation. But what must that man be that can have such a design? Certainly, a fool to himself, and a devil to others: but then what must they be, who render men so absurd and impious, only to have their evil ends upon their character and religion? Doubtless they must be as bad every jot. I must needs tell him, that little treatise was not intended for critics, but plain and ordinary understandings; to remove common and vulgar prejudices, and in a familiar style; and not after the bishop of Meaux's copy, which was performed with much address and
He says, 'My terms are equivocal.' I am sure I have mostly expressed myself in those of the holy scripture: it is a singular and unjust reflection, to say I did it in my own way; for it is in that way which is common to the writers of our persuasion, and according to the language of the Holy Ghost. And it is plain, from more places than this of his book, as p. 23, 41, &c. that he would have that little piece of mine the fruit of great contrivance and design: I know not why, unless that he might raise the greater reputation to his own undertaking; as he tells us, p. 5. But that will depend upon the conclusion, which will best show how well he has acquitted himself.
Page 11, 12. He farther insinuates, That we make the light within the rule, not only to direct our belief and practice of the Christian religion, but to discover to men the history of the coming and performances of Jesus of Nazareth, and that he is Christ the Lord; and this without the help of the scriptures.'
Answer. Now this is very insincere on his part: for though the light of the eternal Word be, without doubt, sufficient to reveal or discover those facts where they are not known, if God pleaseth; yet we never said the light was our rule to that purpose, but to judge of that which is revealed; or that the discoveries it made were of things past and historical, but of things immediate and practical, as of sin, in thought, word, and deed, and to be daily assisted to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this world; to pray, and preach, and worship God; which relating to the service of Jesus, and the service of Jesus being by him allowed to be the Christian religion, the asserting of that divine light to be the holy rule of our Christian conduct to perform those things, deserves not such abusive insinuations and inuendos as this author makes upon us.
Page 14. He would have his reader believe, as if there were not one passage in all my part of that book called, The Christian Quaker,' he can cite before it be corrected, both style and matter, because he only cites one which he thinks fit to correct; calling me for it a lewd author, and what else he pleases: but, according to his usual practice, he has inserted no page to direct us where to find this assertion. If to me he has thought it not needful, I must tell him, his amendment is as needless; for when I speak of Christ, I say He; and when of his body, I say it: notwithstanding, he charges me with other things: but, I think, through the many books I have written, it will never be found my practice or mistake, whatever may be the printer's.
Page 23. Since the Quakers will have their light to be common to all men, and not natural, there is no such thing in the universe."
Answer. By which he insinuates, that a divine light cannot be communicated to every man, and be divine. Would he have shown himself a candid author, one that desired to have informed, and not abused us, he would have first instructed himself what we have said on this occasion. By natural, we mean mere man; his compositum, or make; that is, of the nature of man, as he is man: by divine, what is above man, and from God, to direct man in all well-pleasingness to him. Yet if by natural may be meant, that every man that is born into the world has a portion of this light, or illuminating principle, to direct him in the way to blessedness, I should not very much quarrel at the word; it being, in a sort, natural to all men to have it; because all men that are born (from whence the word nature springs) as certainly have it, as that they are born into the world. See John i. 4, 19. 1 Cor. xii.
These few instances I thought fit to give of the unjust in sinuations and insincerity of this author; which brings me to my third head, viz.
His abusive terms and taunts upon us.
Indeed almost every page is freighted with them. My Key is a picklock, and we are imps of the Jesuits: our writings are apocryphal, our phrases like gypsy-gibberish and beggar's cant; our arguments putid sophisms; our leading men a pack of jugglers, sophistical, of suborned sense; men of tricks and legerdemain, abusing honest-meaning men, as jugglers do plain country people; ranting-cant, and that I
debauch the scriptures; with much more of this strain and style; besides that scorn and levity, which very much unbe comes one that pretends to correct others in matters of reli gion. I would fain have this author to consider whether he has acted like one that has any reverence towards God, or compassion to a mistaken people, supposing us to be such. Certainly, whether we are in the right or no, he must needs be in the wrong, and his religion vain, that has no better bridle to his tongue or pen: which said, I shall betake myself to my fourth head.
His pretended answers and interpretations of Scripture considered.
The first perversion, mentioned in my Key, is page 1. viz.The Quakers hold, that the natural light in the con science of every man in the world is sufficient to save all that follow it :' which, by the way after the flourish of an answer to the Key, (at least as to our doctrine of the light) is all that is cited by him; so that my explanations of our principle, in answer to this, and three other perversions upon this doctrine at the same time, are not so much as taken notice of by this man, that pretends to have considered them all. But let us hear what he says upon this perversion.
Page 7. This is no perversion; unless an objection made against a tenet be a perversion of a tenet; which no body thinks besides W. P; for we only say, that the Quakers believe that a natural light is supernatural and saving : we mistake not their meaning, but oppose it as an error.
Answer. He that changes the terms of a question, abuses his antagonist, and perverts the argument; which is the case for the people called Quakers never said, that a natural light was supernatural, or sufficient to salvation: and if natural be not their term, then it is a perversion of their principle. For whether they are mistaken in their principle, or no, is not the question; but whether their principle is not misgiven by their enemies. This author seems to make it natural in another place, because we affirm it is common to all, or that all are enlightened: but this begs the question in point of argument, and will not rectify or defend a matter that is in fact false: for besides that it is not fair, in any to charge their consequences upon others for principles, it is plain what any people say is their principle, is the rule for us to know whether what their adversaries say is so, be their principle or not. Suppose it were