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pride in others? May it not give an occasion to great mischief and irreligion?'
Answ. By no means; for when people are of age, they of right, expect their inheritances; and the end of all words is to bring people to the great Word, and then the promise of God is accomplished, "They shall be all taught of me, from the least to the greatest, and in righteousness (pray mark that) they shall be established, and great shall be their peace." To this of the evangelical prophet, the beloved disciple agrees, and gives a full answer to the objection: "These things have I written unto you, concerning them that seduce you but the anointing, which ye have received of him, abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you, but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him." In which, three things are observ able. First, That he writ his epistle upon an extraordinary occasion, viz. to prevent their delusion. Secondly, That he asserts a nearer and superior minister than himself, viz. the anointing or grace they had received; and that not only in that particular exigency, but in all cases that might attend them. Thirdly, That if they did but take heed to the teachings of it, they would have no need of man's directions, or fear of his seducings; at least of no ministry that comes not from the power of the anointing: though I rather take the apostle in the highest sense of the words: thus also the apostle Paul to the Thessalonians, "But as touching brotherly love, ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another." 1 Thess. iv. 9. But helps are useful, and a great blessing, if from God, such was John the Baptist's; but remember he pointed all to Christ. John i. 26. "Lo the Lamb of God!
baptize you with water, but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire." Matt. iii. 11. And so the true ministry does. And while people are sensual, and under such an eclipse, by the interposition of sin and Satan, God is pleased to send forth his enlightening servants to awaken and turn from the darkness to the light in themselves, that, through obedience to it, they may come to be " children of the light," John xii. 36. and have their fellowship one with another in it, and an inheritance, at last, with the saints in light for ever.
And as it is the way God has taken to call and gather people, so a living and holy ministry is of great advantage, to watch over and build up the young, and comfort and establish the feeble and simple ones. But still, I say, the more inward, the less outward: the more people come to
be taught immediately of God, by the light of his word and Spirit in their hearts, the less need of outward means: read Isaiah xvi. 19, 20. which is held by all to be a gospel promise, and the sun and moon there are generally understood to mean the external means in the church. Compare them with John i. 13. Rom. i. 19. I Cor. ii. 11. 15. 1 Thess. iv. 9. 1 John ii. 20. 27. Rev. xxi. 22, 23, 24. All which places prove what we assert of the sufficiency and glorious privilege of inward and spiritual teachings. And, most certainly, as men grow in grace, and know the anointing of the word in themselves, the dispensation will be less in words (though in words) and more in life; and preaching will in great measure be turned into praising, and the worship of God, more into walking with, than talking of, God: for that is worship indeed, that bows to his will at all times, and in all places the truest, the highest worship man is capable of in this world. And it is that conformity that gives communion; and there is no fellowship with God, no light of his countenance to be enjoyed, no peace and assurance to be had, farther than their obedience to his will, and a faithfulness to his word, according to the manifestation of the light thereof in the heart.
I say, this is the truest and highest state of worship; for set days and places, with all the solemnity of them, were most in request in the weakest dispensation. Altars, ark, and temples, sabbaths and festivals, &c. are not to be found in the writing of the New Testament. There, every day is alike; but if there were a dedication "let it be to the Lord." Thus the apostle; but he plainly shows a state beyond it, "for to live (with him) was Christ, and to die was gain ;" for the life he lived "was by the faith of the Son of God; and therefore it was not he that lived, but Christ that lived in him;"* that is, that ruled, conducted, and bore sway in him, which is the true Christian life, the supersensual life; the life of conversion and regeneration; to which all the dispensations of God, and ministry of his servants, have ever tended, as the consummation of God's work for man's happiness. Here every man is a temple, and every family a church, and every place, a meeting-place, and every visit, a meeting. And yet a little while, and it shall be so yet more and more; and a people the Lord is now preparing to enter into this sabbath or degree of rest.
Not that we should be thought to undervalue public and solemn meetings; we have them all over the nation where the Lord has called us. Yea, though but two or three of
* Rom. xiv. 5, 6, 7, 8, 17.
Cor. viii. 6. Col. ii. 16, 17. Phil. i. 21,
us be in a corner of a country, we meet, as the apostle exhorted the saints of his time, and reproved such as neglected to assemble themselves. But yet show we unto thee, O reader," a more excellent way of worship:" for many have come to those meetings, and go away carnal, dead, and dry; but the worshippers in spirit and in truth, whose hearts bow, whose minds adore the eternal God," that is a Spirit," in and by his Spirit, such as conform to his will, and walk with him in a spiritual life, they are the true, constant, living, and acceptable worshippers, whether it be in meetings or out of meetings and as with such, all outward assemblies are greatly comfortable, so also do we meet for a public testimony of religion and worship, and for the edification and encouragement of those that are yet young in the truth, and to call and gather others to the knowledge of it, who are yet going astray and, blessed be God, it is not in vain, since many are thereby added to the church, that we hope, and believe, shall be saved.
§. 1. Against tithes. §. 2. Against all swearing. §. 3. Against war among Christians. §. 4. Against the salutations of the times. §. 5. And for plainness of speech. §. 6. Against mixed marriages. §. 7. And for plainness in Apparel, &c. No sports and pastimes after the manner of this world. §. 8. Of observing days. §.9. Of care of poor, peace, and conversation.
§. 1. AND as God has been pleased to call us from an human ministry, so we cannot, for conscience sake, support and maintain it: and upon that score, and not out of humour or covetousness, we refuse to pay tithes, or such-like pretended dues, concerning which, many books have been writ in our defence: we cannot support what we cannot approve, but have a testimony against; for thereby we should be found inconsistent with ourselves.
§. 2. We dare not swear, because Christ forbids it. Mat. v. 24. 37. and James, his true follower. It is needless, as well as evil; for the reason of swearing being untruth, that men's yea was not yea, swearing was used to awe men to truth-speaking, and to give others satisfaction that what was sworn was true. But the true Christian's yea being yea, the end of an oath is answered, and therefore the use of it needless, superfluous, and cometh of evil. The apostle James taught the same doctrine, and the primitive Christians practised it, as may be seen in the Book of Martyrs; as also the earliest and best of the reformers.
§. 3. We also believe, that war ought to cease among the followers of the Lamb, Christ Jesus, who taught his disciples to "forgive and love their enemies," and not to war against them, and kill them; and that therefore the weapons of his true followers are not carnal, but spiritual; yea mighty, through God, to cut down sin and wickedness, and dethrone him that is the author thereof. And as this is the most Christian, so the most rational way; love and persuasion having more force than weapons of war. Nor would the worst of men easily be brought to hurt those that they really think love them. It is that love and patience which must, in the end, have the victory.
§. 4. We dare not give worldly honour, or use the frequent and modish salutations of the times, seeing plainly, that vanity, pride, and ostentation, belong to them. Christ also forbad them in his day, and made the love of them a mark of declension from the simplicity of purer times; and his disciples, and their followers, were observed to have obeyed their Master's precept. It is not to distinguish ourselves a party, or out of pride, ill-breeding, or humour, but in obedience to the sight and sense we have received from the Spirit of Christ, of the evil rise and tendency thereof.
§. 5. For the same reason we have returned to the first plainness of speech, viz. thou and thee, to a single person; which though men give no other to God, they will hardly endure it from us. It has been a great test upon pride, and shown the blind and weak insides of many. This also is out of pure conscience, whatever people may think or say of us for it. We may be despised, and have been so often, yea, very evilly intreated: but we are now better known, and people better informed. In short, it is also both scripture and grammar, and we have propriety of speech for it, as well as peace in it.
§. 6. We cannot allow of mixed marriages, that is, to join with such as are not of our society, but oppose and disown them, if at any time any of our profession so grosly err from the rule of their communion; yet restore them upon sincere repentance, but not disjoin them. The book I writ of the Rise and Progress of the People called Quakers, is more full and express therein.
§. 7. Plainness in apparel and furniture, is another testimony peculiar to us, in the degree that we have borne it to the world: as also few words, and being at a word. Likewise temperance in food, and abstinence from the recreations and pastimes of the world: all which we have been taught, by the Spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ, to be according to
godliness; and therefore we have long exhorted all, that their "moderation may be known unto all men, for that the Lord was at hand," to enter into judgment with us for every intemperance or excess; and herein we hope we have been no ill example, or scandal unto any that have a due consideration of things.
§. 8. We cannot, in conscience to God, observe holy days (so called), the public fasts and feasts, because of their human institution and ordination, and that they have not a divine warrant, but are appointed in the will of man.
§. 9. Lastly, we have been led by this good Spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ of which I have treated in this discourse, according to primitive practice, to have a due care over one another, for the preservation of the whole society in a conversation more suitable to their holy profession.
First, In respect to a strict walking, both towards those that are without, and those that are within; that their conversation in the world, and walking in and towards the church may be blameless. That as they may be strict in the one, so they may be faithful in the other.
Secondly, That collections be made to supply the wants of the poor, and that care be taken of widows and orphans, and such as are helpless, as well in counsel, as about substance.
Thirdly, That all such as are intended to marry, if they have parents, or are under the direction of guardians or trustees, are obliged, first, to declare to them their intention, and have their consent, before they propose it to one another, and the meeting they relate to; who are also careful to examine their clearness, and being satisfied with it, they are by them allowed to solemnize their marriage in a public select meeting, for that purpose appointed, and not otherwise whereby all clandestine and indirect marriages are prevented among us.
Fourthly, And to the end that this good order may be observed, for the comfort and edification of the society, in the ways of truth and soberness; select meetings (of care and business) are fixed in all parts where we inhabit, which are held monthly, and which resolve into quarterly meetings, and those into one yearly meeting, for our better communication one with another, in those things that maintain piety and charity; that God, who by his grace has called us to be a people to his praise, may have it from us, through his beloved Son, and our ever-blessed and only Redeemer, Jesus Christ, for he is worthy, worthy, now, and ever. Amen.