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many years brought up in studying natural arts and natural languages; this is your ordination and your call, having no respect to receive or to wait for the gift of the holy spirit, to be made ministers thereby; and this is different from the apostles and true ministers, and equal and according to the false prophets and deceivers.
Secondly. Again you are not according, but contrary to the true ministry and ministers of Christ in practice; for they were led by the spirit of the Father which dwelt in them, and they preached the gospel by the spirit, and spake as the spirit gave them utterance, and went up and down the world through nations, converting people to the knowledge of the truth; and what they had handled, tasted, seen, and felt of the word of life in them, that they declared to others, and preached the gospel, which they had not received from man, nor by man, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ in them. But your practice is not such, but contrary, for the spirit of this world leads you, and it you follow in all your works, in your preaching, praying, and in your whole worship, in form and tradition; what you have studied out of books and old authors, you preach to people, and what ye have noted in a book, that you preach by an hour glass, and not as the spirit of God gives you utterance. And you seek out and inquire after great benefits, and much money by the year, and where there are much tithes and glebe lands, and such like; thither and to such a place, you go, and seek to be ministers there, and there you remain twenty or forty years, more or fewer as you can agree with the people, and while they will give you so much as will content you, and maintain you, your wives and fami. lies, as you say, and regard not whether any be converted to God by your preaching, but people remain always in blindness and ignorance generally, and without the knowledge of God. For you preach other men's words, and what you have collected in your imaginations from the saints' words, an hour by a glass, leaning upon a soft cushion, and for money and hire preaching to the people, and this is your manner of practice, and ministry in these nations. But thus did not the apostles, nor Christ's ministers; but the contrary. And by your fruits and works it appears that you are not followers of that spirit that Christ and his ministers were guided by, neither are lawful successors of the apostles; but by your fruits and practice you manifest that the Lord never sent you, and Christ never called you into his service to be his ministers; for in all your practices and in your whole performances of worship you differ, and do not agree with, but are contrary to what the practice and worship of Christ's ministers and churches were in the days of the apostles. This I charge upon you, in the name, and by the authority of the Lord God, and am able to prove it against you, face to face, or otherwise to show that you are not of the same spirit, but con
trary to the saints and apostles of old, and so not true successors of them, nor lawful ministers of Christ; as to all people it is, and shall be made manifest.
Thirdly. You disagree with and are contrary altogether to the true ministry, and to the apostles, in respect of your maintenance and wages; for the wages which Christ allowed his ministers, was, into whatsoever house they entered, that was worthy, they might eat such things as were set before them, for the workman (saith he) is worthy of his hire. And the apostles eat only of the fruit of the vineyard that they had planted, and of the milk of the flock which they kept, by a free gift of the people, whom they had begotten to the faith; and to whom they sowed spiritual things, it was but as a small matter if they reaped their carnal things; and though as a free gift they would do it, yet the apostle said he would not make the gospel of Christ chargeable. And in this manner were Christ's ministers and ministry in wages and gifts, upheld and maintained outwardly in the world.
But your practice and maintenance are not such, but contrary, as is fully made manifest; for you will have so much by the year promised to you in tithes, money, or glebe lands, or stipends; and of drunkards, and swearers, and profane worldly people, who are not sheep of Christ's flock, nor plants of his vineyard, you will have so much of each of them, and of every man in such a compass as you call your parish. And if any, either out of covetousness or good conscience, cannot pay you, you sue them at law, and cast them into prison, for wages, and spoil their goods, and take treble, nay sometimes five-fold damage. And through violence, and injustice, and cruelty are you maintained in such a manner, and not as the true ministers and apostles of Christ were, but in a way and manner quite contrary, as it is manifest; and so herein it is proved, that you are not lawful successors of the apostles and ministers of Christ.
Fourthly. Again, you follow not the apostles and true ministers of Christ, but are contrary to them in doctrine, as this following volume will clearly manifest, which for this very end is collected from your own mouths and pens, that all men may see what you are, and what you hold and profess; and being truly laid down and answered, let yourselves, and all sober men, compare your doctrines and sayings with the doctrines of the apostles, and they may see you agree not with them, but are contrary to them. And now, friends, to all you that profess yourselves to be ministers of the gospel, I do hereby declare unto you, in the name and authority of the Lord, that we have controversy with you, and a great charge against you in all these things, in your call, in your practice, in your maintenance, and in your doctrines; and our mouths hath the Lord opened, and they cannot be shut
from declaring and crying against you, as such whom the Lord never sent, but are contrary to Christ, his prophets, and apostles, in all your ways and practices; and the hand of the Lord is certainly against you, and his power and dread will come over you, and lie upon your consciences.
Now, reader, whosoever thou art that readest this following volume, if thy mind be sober, and thy heart right towards God, thou may come to a good understanding of the ground and cause of this great controversy, between the priests and the professors of this nation, and us who are in scorn called Quakers, for it is not unknown to nations. Of this great debate and battle, now for some years of continuance in this nation, no man can be ignorant. What putting in prisons, and what persecuting, and what preaching and printing against us, and what reports and fame have been through this nation for some years past! And the Quakers, so called, have written, and spoken, and printed against the priests, and their worships, and ways, and doctrines, and declared against them, as deceivers and false prophets, and such as never were sent of God. And on the other hand, thus have the priests, and more abundantly, cried out against, and printed against the Quakers, as heretics, and deceivers, and witches, and all that they could say that was evil. And these things being not unknown, but publicly brought to pass, it will be good to discover unto every man, the first ground and cause of this great strife, and the matter of it, and its beginning, so that all may know the certainty of these things, and know they are not without good ground and sufficient reason on our part, to wit, that we have just cause to do, and strive against that generation of priests and teachers, and that we do nothing rashly, and without sufficient reason.
It is now about seven years since the Lord raised us up in the north of England, and opened our mouths in this his spirit; and what we were before in our religion, profession, and practices is well known to that part of the country; that generally we were men of the strictest seet, and of the greatest zeal in the performance of outward righteousness, and went through and tried all sorts of teachers, and run from mountain to mountain, and from man to man, and from one form to another, as do many to this very day, who yet remain ungathered to the Lord. And such we were, (to say no more of us,) that sought the Lord, and desired the knowledge of his ways more than any thing beside, and for one I may speak, who, from a child, even a few years old, set my face to seek and find the saviour, and, more than life and treasure or any mortal crown, sought with all my heart the one thing that is needful, to wit, the knowledge of God.
And after our long seeking the Lord appeared to us, and revealed his glory in us, and gave us of his spirit from heaven, and poured it
upon us, and gave us of his wisdom to guide us, whereby we saw all the world, and the true state of things, and the true condition of the church in her present estate. First the Lord brought us by his power and wisdom, and the word by which all things were made, to know and understand, and see perfectly, that God had given to us, every one of us in particular, a light from himself shining in our hearts and consciences; which light, Christ his son, the saviour of the world, had lighted every man withal; which light in us we found sufficient to reprove us, and convince us of every evil deed, word, and thought, and by it, in us, we came to know good from evil, right from wrong, and whatsoever is of God, and according to him, from what is of the devil, and what was contrary to God in motion, word, and works. And this light gave us to discern between truth and error, between every false and right way, and it perfectly discovered to us the true state of all things; and we thereby came to know man, what he was in his creation before transgression, and how he was deceived and overcome by the devil, and his estate in transgression, and in disobedience, and how he is driven and banished from the presence of the Lord, and the sorrow and anguish which he is in and to undergo. And also by the light in us, we perfectly came to know the way of restoration, and the means by which to be restored, and the state of man when come out of transgression and restored. These things to us were revealed by the light within us, which Christ had given us, and lighted us withal; what man was before transgression, and what he is in transgression, and what he is being redeemed out of transgression. And also as our minds became turned, and our hearts inclined to the light which shined in every one of us, the perfect estate of the church we came to know; her estate before the apostles' days, and in the apostles' days, and since the days of the apostles. And her present estate we found to be as a woman who had once been clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, who brought forth him that was to rule the nations; but she was fed into the wilderness, and there sitting desolate, in her place that was prepared of God for such a season, in the very end of which season, when the time of her sojourning was towards a full end, then were we brought forth. If any have an ear they may hear. So that all these things concerning man, and concerning the times and seasons, and the changing and renewing of times, and all things that pertain to salvation, and redemption, and eternal life, needful for man to know, all these were revealed, discovered, and made known to us, by the light which was in us, which Christ had lighted us withal.
And we found this light to be a sufficient teacher, to lead us to Christ, from whence this light came, and thereby it gave us to receive Christ, and to witness him to dwell in us; and through it the new co
venant we came to enter into, to be made heirs of life and salvation. And in all things we found the light which we were enlightened withal, (which is Christ,) to be alone and only sufficient to bring to life and eternal salvation; and that all who did own the light in them which Christ hath enlightened every man withal, they needed no man to teach them, but the Lord was their teacher, by his light in their own consciences, and they received the holy anointing.
And so we ceased from the teachings of all men, and their words, and their worships, and their temples, and all their baptisms and churches, and we ceased from our own words, and professions, and practices in religion, in times before zealously performed by us, through divers forms, and we became fools for Christ's sake, that we might become truly wise. And by this light of Christ in us were we led out of all false ways, and false preachings, and from false ministers, and we met together often, and waited upon the Lord in pure silence from our own words, and all men's words, and hearkened to the voice of the Lord, and felt his word in our hearts, to burn up and beat down all that was contrary to God; and we obeyed the light of Christ in us, and followed the motions of the Lord's pure spirit, and took up the cross to all earthly glories, crowns, and ways, and denied ourselves, our relations, and all that stood in the way betwixt us and the Lord; and we chose to suffer with and for the name of Christ, rather than enjoy all the pleasures upon earth, or all our former zealous professions and practices in religion without the power and spirit of God, which the world yet lives in. And while waiting upon the Lord in silence, as often we did for many hours together, with our minds and hearts toward him, being staid in the light of Christ within us, from all thoughts, fleshly motions, and desires, in our diligent waiting and fear of his name, and hearkening to his word, we received often the pouring down of the spirit upon us, and the gift of God's holy eternal spirit as in the days of old, and our hearts were made glad, and our tongues loosed, and our mouths opened, and we spake with new tongues, as the Lord gave us utterance, and as his spirit led us, which was poured down upon us, on sons and daughters. And to us hereby were the deep things of God revealed, and things unutterable were known and made manifest; and the glory of the Father was revealed, and then began we to sing praises to the Lord God Almighty, and to the Lamb for ever, who had redeemed us to God, and brought us out of the captivity and bondage of the world, and put an end to sin and death; and all this was by and through, and in the light of Christ within us. And much more might be declared hereof, that which could not be believed if it were spoken, of the several and particular operations and manifestations of the everlasting spirit that was given us, and revealed in us. But this is the