« PreviousContinue »
Christ's table, in his kingdom, which the saints of old saw the coming of before they tasted of death; "for the kingdom' of God is within":"here all old things, covenants, signs, ordinances, and whatever perisheth with the using, shall be done away; and the everlasting unchangeable substance witnessed; and no more shall you profess religion, or perform worship from the imagining and transgressing nature, but from a certain sense of God's own operation; so shall your faith stand in that power the gates of hell can never prevail against for this I once more am necessitated to declare, by virtue of the sound knowledge given me of God, that whilst you are fulfilling the lusts of the flesh, and walking after your own will and imaginations, you are altogether strangers to the yoke, to the daily cross, and self-denying life; but are yet the corrupt ground, and evil tree, which bringeth forth evil fruits, thorns, briars, and sour grapes: "be ye undeceived, God will not be mocked; such as you sow, such shall you reap:
Wherefore I intreat, advise, and warn you all, before the day of your visitation be shut up, in the eternal withdrawings of God's love, and revelation of his dreadful, endless vengeance, O ye idolatrous, superstitious, carnal, proud, wanton, unclean, mocking and persecuting princes, priests and people, to repent; return, return, believe and obey this light, which manifests and reproves all your evil deeds, that in it you may know your redemption from the captivity of sin effectually wrought.
O tremble and quake with the prophet Habakkuk, you who scoff at Quakers, "that you may all rest in the day of trouble." Hab. iii. 16.
But if you shall still go on to rebel against the reproofs and instructions of this holy light, and despise and persecute the children of it; be it known to you all, that before the brightness of its glory shall your shadows vanish, your imitations fly away, your beggarly elements melt, and you shall die in your sins.
Nor shall we be solicitous what your intentions are concerning us, well knowing Him, in whom we have believed, "to be much greater in us than he that is in the world," who in love hath called us out of it, and we doubt not will by his everlasting arm of strength defend and preserve us over all opposition, and by us exalt his name, truth, and salvation unto the ends of the earth.
Therefore let the winds of imagination blow, the storms of persecution beat, and the sea of raging malice foam: yea, "though the fig-tree shall not blossom, neither fruit be in ⚫ Luke xvii. 20, 21. Job iv. 8. Gal. vi. 7. 8. 2 Tim. i, 12. 1 John iv. 4.
the vine; though the labour of the olive fail, and the fields yield not their meat; though the flock be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls';" though nations should combine against us, and multitudes assemble themselves to our overthrow ;-yet, be it reported to the nations, and let it be told unto the people, that we shall still confide and rejoice in that everlasting holy God Almighty, Lord of hosts, and King of saints, who hath gathered us, and therefore is by us, over all things in heaven, and things on earth, blessed and renowned for ever!
A cautionary Postscript to the People of England.
WHILST you have a day, prize it, and whilst you have the light, believe in it; for this is the word of the Lord God, that made heaven and earth, to you all; the time is at hand, that he that is unrighteous, must be unrighteous still. Be not deceived, put not the day far from you; neither cry, the Lord is on our side; for his indignation is ready to be revealed, and destruction is at the door.
Calamity, pining, and distress, is coming upon you, yea, a consumption is decreed, and trouble, perplexity, and terrible desolation; and what hand shall stop it? for the Lord God of hosts is arising, to avenge himself of his enemies, and to ease himself of the cruel oppressor of his righteous seed; yea, the mighty he will humble, and the proud shall be laid low. He will smite the wanton with paleness, and the despiser shall perish off the earth; and all the instruments of wickedness and oppression will he dash in pieces; and you shall know, that the Majesty which dwells on high is on our side, and that the nations of them who are saved shall walk in obedience to the light.
But unto such as believe in the light, and live in the daily cross, who have forsaken either father, mother, sister, brother, house, land, husband or wife, for this blessed testimony; and that through the good report and bad report are journeying on, towards an everlasting inheritance: blessings, honour, immortality, and eternal life, from God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.
I am not of this world; but seek a country eternal in the heavens.
Newgate in London, the 7th of the 2d month, 1671.
Hab. iii. 17, 18.
SANDY FOUNDATION SHAKEN;
Those so generally believed and applauded Doctrines, Of One God subsisting in three distinct and separate Persons; The Impossibility of God's pardoning Sinners, without a plenary Satisfaction; The Justification of impure persons, by an imputative Righteousness, Refuted,
From the Authority of Scripture Testimonies, and right Reason.
By WILLIAM PENN,
A Builder on that Foundation which cannot be moved.
But to us there is but one God the Father, of whom are all things. 1 Cor. viii. 6.
Published in the Year 1668.
To the Unprejudiced Reader.
It was the fault of some in ancient times, that they made void God's law by men's traditions, and certainly I may now assume the same complaint; for whilst I take a serious prospect of the spiritual nature and tendency of the second covenant, which God Almighty, in the fulness of time, by his prophets, prophesied to make and perfect; and also the accomplishment thereof by Jesus Christ, and what was brought to pass amongst the primitive believers; methinks I do not only see an utter abolishment of ceremonial worships, but the inscribing that spiritual law on the heart, and infusion of holy fear to the inward parts, whereby each person became capacitated to know so much of God, as suited with his present state, from an infallible demonstration in himself, and not on the slender grounds of men's Jo-here interpretations, or lo-there; for the kingdom of God is within, where himself must be the teacher of his people but on the other hand, when from the noise of every party's pretensions to and contentions for their own way, as most infallible, I am induced to an impartial examination of them, alas! how have all adulterated from the purity both of scripture record, and primitive example! receiving for unquestionable doctrines, the fallible apprehensions, and uncertain determinations of such councils, whose faction, prejudice, and cruelty, soon parallelled the VOL. I.
foregoing heathenish persecutions; and yet that the results of persons so incompetently qualified, should at this day in their authority remain unquestioned by the nations, is matter both of astonishment and pity; but an implicit faith has ever been the consequence of ignorance, idleness, and fear, being strong impediments to a judicious enquiry how far professed and imposed opinions have their consistency ·with reason, and the true religion. But that which most of all deserves a lamentation is, that Protestants, whose better garuments have confuted the plea of such as made tradition and men's prescriptions unquestionable in circumstantials, should themselves, by print and practice, so openly declare and contend for its authority in essentials; as must be obvious to any that observe their zealous anathemas against whomsoever refuse a compliance with them in doctrines, manifestly bottomed upon men's nice inventions.
This is the right state of the controversy that is maintained by us (contemptibly called Quakers) against the world, and the undoubted reason of our severe treatment at its hands; the end of God Almighty's raising us, being for no other purpose, than to declare, that which our eyes have seen, our ears heard, and which our hands have handled of the Eternal Word, in opposition to private opinions, conjectures, and interpretations of men concerning God and religion, that all people might thereby be reduced to faith in and obedience to the universal grace which brings salvation; which as it only can restore sound judgment concerning God, and effect redemption from iniquity, so its being relinquished by men, was the very ground both of their division in judgment, and corruption in manners.
That this hath been, and is our case, I shall produce an instance, which is indeed the occasion of this treatise.
Two persons lately of Thomas Vincent's auditory in Spitalfields, (who goes under the notion of a presbyter) being desirous to prove all things, and to hold fast the best, visited our meeting, to understand if we were as really deserving blame, as represented by our enemies; where it then pleased divine goodness to visit them with the call of his light, from the inventions, carnal observations, willworship, and vain conversation of those to whom they were formerly related; that they might be made children of the day; and though its appearance might be small, yet sufficient to discover them to have been inhabitants of the night, and can never be rejected, but it shall bring that condemnation which shall farther testify it to be of God.
But their relinquishing his congregation so incensed this presbyterian preacher, as that his peevish zeal transported
him beyond not only the moderation of Christianity, but the civility of education, venting his folly and prejudice much to this purpose, that he had as lieve they should go to a bawdy-house, as to frequent the Quakers' meetings, because of erroneous and damnable doctrines. And pointing to the window said, If there should stand a cup of poison, I would rather drink it than suck in their damnable doctrines. He farther expressed himself in this manner to one of them: If ever you go again, I will give you up, and God will give you up, that you may believe a lie, and be damned. Which storms of foul and railing accusation, proving ineffectual to shipwreck that little grain of faith, his hearers, as forgetting they hold their preaching by connivance, and the many appeals made by their non-conforming brethren, for an indulgence, came with this caution to the pater-familias, (or he that was both husband and father to the concerned parties) that he would exercise his authority, as well to refuse them to all Quaker-visitants, as prohibit them the liberty of their consciences in frequenting our meetings.
All which we could not for the truth-sake let pass in silence, and therefore did require him to let us have a public meeting, in which we might have liberty to answer on the behalf both of ourselves and principles; which after some demur was granted, the day he appointed, and at the second hour in the afternoon. But that he might not want applause of many voices, and doubtless to prevent our friends, (as I am informed) bespoke his usual auditory to be there at one; and, as a man that would not over-spend himself, or incur a nonplus for want of seconds, he had his third and fourth, to wit Thomas Danson, Thomas Doolittle, and Maddocks, who at their times (and often out of them) did interpose, to whom George Whitehead mostly answered; nor had there any thing been spoken by another but from their own example.
The matter in controversy will be related in the beginning of this treatise, as a necessary preludium, or introduction to the following discourse; the manner of it was so gross, that I know not how to represent it better, than by the levity and rudeness of some prize; laughing, hissing, shoving, striking, and stigmatizing us with the opprobrious terms of confident fellow, impudent villain, blasphemer, &c. And, as the usual refuge of shallow persons (when they have little else to say, to prepossess their hearers with prejudice against the principles of such as do oppose them) "he questioned much whether I was not some jesuit; not remembering, or at least unwilling to let the people know, that none have been, nor are more instant in the vidication of that doctrine