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and grace of God, to life and salvation, that appears to all, though few regard it. This, the traditional Christian, conceited of himself, and strong in his own will and righteousness, overcome with blind zeal and passion, either despised as a low and common thing, or opposed as a novelty, under many hard names, and opprobrious terms; denying, in his ignorant and angry mind, any fresh manifestations of God's power and spirit in man, in these days, though never more needed to make true Christians. Not unlike those Jews of old, that rejected the Son of God, at the very same time that they blindly professed to wait for the Messiah to come ; because, alas ! he appeared not among them according to their carnal mind and expectation. : This brought forth many abusive books, which Glled the greater sort with envy, and lesser with rage; and made the way and progress of this blessed testimony strait and narrow indeed to those that received it. However, God owned his own work, and this testimony did, eftectually, reach, gather, comfort, and establish the weary and heavy-laden, the hungry and thirsty, the poor and needy, the mournful and sick of many maladies, that had spent all upon physicians of no value, and waited for relief from heaven; help only from above ; seeing, upon a serious trial of all things, nothing else would do but Christ himself; the light of his countenance, a touch of his garment, and help from his hand; who cured the poor woman's issue, raised the centurion's servant, the widow's son, the ruler's daughter, and Peter's mother : and, like her, they no sooner felt his power and efficacy upon their souls, but they gave up to obey him in a testimony to his power; and that with resigned wills and faithful hearts, through all mockings, contradictions, confiscations, beatings, prisons, and many other jeopardies that attended them for his blessed name's sake.
And truly they were very many, and very great! So that, in all human probability, they must have been swallowed up quick of the proud and boisterous waves that swelled and beat against them, but that the God of all their tender mer. cies was with them in his glorious authority; so that the hills often fled, and the mountains melted, before the power that filled them ; working mightily for them, as well as in them, one ever following the other: by which they saw plainly, to their exceeding great confirmation and comfort, " that all things were possible with him with whom they had to do :" and that the more that which God required seemed to cross man's wisdom, and expose them to man's wrath, the more God appeared to help and carry them through all to his glory.
· Insomuch that if ever any people could say in truth, u Thou art our sun and our shield, our rock and sanctuary; and by thee we have leaped over a wall, and by thee we have run through a troop, and by thee we have put the armies of the aliens to flight,” these people had a right to say it. And as God had delivered their souls of the wearisome burdens of sin and vanity, and enriched their poverty of spirit, and satisfied their great hunger and thirst after eternal righteousness, and filled them with the good things of his own house, and made them stewards of his manifold gifts; so they went forth to all quarters of these nations, 10 declare to the inhabitants thereof, “ what God had done for them ;" what they had found, and where and how they had found it, viz. the way to peace with God: inviting all to come, and see, and taste, for themselves, the truth of what they declared unto them.
And as their testimony was to the principle of God in man, the precious pearl and leaven of the kingdom, as the only blessed means appointed of God to quicken, convince, and sapctify man; so they opened to them what it was in itself, and what it was given to them for: how they might know it from their own spirit, and that of the subtle appearance of the evil one: and what it would do for all those, whose minds should be turned off from the vanity of the world, and its lifeless ways and teachers, and adhere to this blessed light in themselves, which discovers and condemns sin in all its appearances, and shows how to overcome it, if minded and obeyed in its holy manifestations and convictions : giving power to such to avoid and resist those things that do not please God, and to grow strong in love, faith, and good works : that so man, whom sin has made as a wilderness, over-run with briars and thorns, might become as the garden of God, cultivated by his divine power, and replenished with the most virtuous and beautiful plants of God's own right-hand planting, to his eternal praise.
But these experimental preachers of glad tidings of God's truth and kingdom, could not run when they list, or pray or preach when they pleased, but as Christ, their redeemer, prepared and moved them by his own blessed spirit; for which they waited, in their services and meetings, and spoke as that gave them utterance; and which was as those baving authority, and not like the dreaming, dry, and formal Pharisees. And so it plainly appeared to the serious-minded, whose spiritual eye the Lord Jesus had in any measure opened : so that to one was given the word of exhortation, to another the word of reproof, to another the word of con
solation, and all by the same Spirit, and in the good order thereof, to the convincing and edifying of many.
And truly they waxed strong and bold through faithfulness; and by the power and spirit of the Lord Jesus became very fruitful; thousands, in a short time, being turned to the truth in the inward parts, through their testimony, in ministry and sufferings : insomuch as in most counties, and many of the considerable towns of England, meetings were settled, and daily there were added such as should be saved. For they were diligent to plant and to water, and the Lord blessed their labours with an exceeding great increase; notwithstanding all the opposition made to their blessed progress, by false rumours, calumnies, and bitter persecutions; not only from the powers of the earth, but from every-one that listed to injure and abuse them: so that they seemed, indeed, to be as “poor sheep appointed to the slaughter, and as people killed all the day long.'
It were fitter for a volume than a preface, but so much as to repeat the contents of their cruel sufferings from professors, as well as from profane, and from magistrates as well as the rabble : so that it may be said of this abused and despised people, they went forth weeping and sowed in tears, bearing testimony to the precious seed, even the seed of the kingdom, which stands not in words, the finest, the highest that man's wit can use, but in power; the power of Christ Jesus, to whom God the Father hath given all power in heaven and in earth, that he might rule angels above, and men below : who impowered them, as their work witnesseth, by the many that were turned, through their ministry, froin darkness to the light, and out of the broad into the narrow way of life and peace; bringing people to a weighty, serious, and godlike conversation; the practice of that doctrine which they taught.
And as without this secret divine power, there is no quickening and regenerating of dead souls ; so the want of this generating and begetting power and life, is the cause of the little fruit that the many ministries, that have been and are in the world, bring forth. O that both ministers and people were sensible of this! My soul is often troubled for them, and sorrow and mourning compass me about for their sakes. O that they were wise! O that they would consider, and lay to heart, the things that truly and substantially make for their lasting peace !
Two things are to be considered, the doctrine they taught, and the example they led, among all people. I have already touched upon the fundamental principle, which is the corner stone of their fabric; and, indeed, to speak eminently and properly, their characteristic, or main distinguishing point or principle, viz. the light of Christ within, as God's gift for man's salvation : this, I say, is as the root of the goodly tree of doctrine, that grew and branched out from it, which I shall now mention in their natural and experimental order.
First, “Repentance from dead works, to serve the living God:” which comprehends three operations. First, a sight of sin. Secondly, a sense and godly sorrow for sin. Thirdly, an amendment for the time to come. This was the repentance they preached and pressed, and a natural result from the principle they turned all people unto. For of light came sight; and of sight came sense and sorrow; and of sense and sorrow, came amendment of life. Which doctrine of repentance leads to justification; that is, forgiveness of the sins that are past, through Christ, the alone propitiation ; and the sanctification or purgation of the soul, from the defiling nature and habits of sin present, by the Spirit of Christ in the soul : which is justification in the complete sense of that word; comprehending both justification from the guilt of the sins that are past, as if they had never been committed, through the love and mercy of God in Christ Jesus; and the creature's being made inwardly just through the cleansing and sanctifying power and Spirit of Christ revealed in the soul; which is commonly called sanctification : but that none can come to know Christ to be their sacrifice, that reject him as their sanctifier : the end of his coming being to save his people from the nature and defilement, as well as guilt of sin ; and that therefore those that resist his Light and Spirit, make his coming and offering of none effect to them.
From hence sprang a second doctrine they were led to declare, as the mark of the prize of the high calling," to all true Christians, viz. Perfection from sin, according to the scriptures of truth; which testify it to be the end of Christ's coming, and the nature of his kingdom, and for which his Spirit was and is given, viz. to be “ perfect, as our beavenly Father is perfect; and holy, because God is holy.” And this the apostle laboured for, that the Chris. tians should be “ sanctified throughout, in body, soul, and spirit.” But they never held a perfection in wisdom and glory in this life, or from natural infirmities, or death; as some have, with a weak or ill mind, imagined, and insinuated against them.
This they call a «redeemed state, regeneration, or the new-birth :' teaching every-where, according to their foundation, that without this work were known, there was no inheriting the kingdom of God.
Thirdly, this leads to an acknowledgment of eternal rewards and punishments, as they have had good reason; for else, of all people, certainly they must be the most miserable; who, for above forty years, have been exceeding great sufferers for their profession; and, in some cases, treated worse than the worst of men ; yea, as the “refuse and off-scouring of all things."
This was the purport of their doctrine and ministry; which, for the most part, is what other professors of Christianity pretend to hold in words and forms, but not in the power of godliness; which, generally speaking, has been long lost, by men's departing from that principle and seed of life that is in man, and which man has not regarded, but lost the sense of; and in and by which only he can be quickened in his mind to serve the living God in newness of life. For as the life of religion was lost, and the generality lived and worshipped God after their own wills, and not after the will of God, nor the mind of Christ, which stood in the works and fruits of the Holy Spirit; so that which they pressed, was not notion, but experience ; not formality, but godliness; as being sensible in themselves, through the work of God's righteous judgments, that“ without holiness, no man shall ever see the Lord, with comfort.”
Besides these general doctrines, as the larger branches, there sprang forth several particular doctrines, that did exemplify and farther explain the truth and efficacy of the general doctrine before observed, in their lives and examples. As,
I. Communion, and loving one another. This is a noted mark in the mouth of all sorts of people concerning them : * They will meet, they will help and stick one to another.' Whence it is common to hear some say, 'Look how the Quakers love and take care of one another.' Others, less moderate, will say, The Quakers love none but themselves.' And if loving one another, and having an intimate communion in religion, and constant care to meet to worship God, and help one another, be any mark of primitive Christianity, they had it, blessed be the Lord! in an ample manner.
1. To love enemies. This they both taught and practised. For they did not only refuse to be avenged for injuries done them, and condemned it, as of an unchristian spirit, but they did freely forgive, yea, help and relieve, those that had been cruel to them, when it was in their power to have been even with them ; of which many and singular instances might be given : endeavouring, through faith and patience, to over