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THE society of Friends, who were in derision called Quakers, because they exhorted their persecutors to fear and tremble at the word of God, appeared in the seventeenth century.
At that time there were many in England who were not satisfied with the opinions and forms of worship which were held by the different religious societies then existing. It appeared to them that the life and spirit of Christianity were much wanting, and that
formal ob ligations, which were connected with the various systems of wor. ship, were introduced and stood in the place of the substance.Hence they may be considered as waiting and looking for some fur. ther and more confident ground of faith than they conceived was to be met with among the associated professors of Christianity.— George Fox was one of this description: and being early in life awakened to see the sinful state of the world, had many serious considerations excited in his mind these he cherished, and was gradually brought to understand the Dature and design of the Gospel dispensation. It would exceed the bounds allotted to this work, were I to give the history of this plain but able advocate of vital religion. The reader may be readily acquainted with it by recurring to his own account contained in a journal of his life, which he has left behind him. Early after he came forth in the ministry, many embraced the truth to which he pointed, and a society was form
ed in England, who were known to each other by the name of Friends.
Many were the persecutions and sufferings to which this community were exposed. An account of them may be read either in Sewel's or Gough's history. A fundamental and primary object in the infancy of the society was to turn the attention of the people from outward forms and dependencies to the light of Christ in themselves. This they confidently maintained was universal ; that every man was enlightened by it; and that until the rational creation should conform to it, their claim to true religion had no solid foundation in Christianity.When they became distinguished, many accusations were raised against them, in order to prejudice their religious profession in the view of others. Such accusations
were usually met by suitable explanations. In the course of these occurrences, there occasionally appeared reasons for their dissent from others, but as such reasons were spread among controversial writings, no regular system or concentrated profession of their belief had as yet appeared. These circumstances continued until Robert Barclay, enlightened, as we believe, by the light of Christ, discovered the necessity for a remedy; hence he was impressed with a concern to communicate to the world his ideas and judgment of the true Christian principles and doctrines of the infant society, of which he was a member; and ac-: cordiogly published the work usually known by the name of Barclay's Apology. This book the society of Friends approve.
In it the reader may find a full and