Quaker Heritage Press > Online Texts > Works of James Nayler > The Quakers' Catechism
Acts 20:30. Also of our own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them, therefore watch.
Rom. 16:17-18. Now I beseech you brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you have learned, and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ but their own belly, and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.
1 Thess. 5:12-13. And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake and be at peace among yourselves.
Heb. 13:17. Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves, for they watch for your souls, as they that must give an account, that they may do it with joy and not with grief, for that is unprofitable for you.
Jas. 3:13-16. Who is a wise man, and endued with knowledge among you? Let him show out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.
<108> Num. 16:3,8-10. And they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron, and said unto them, You take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy every one of them, and the Lord is among them. Wherefore then lift you up yourselves above the congregation of the Lord? And Moses said unto Korah, Seemeth it a small thing unto you that the God of Israel hath separated you from the congregation of Israel to bring you near to himself? And seek you the priesthood also?
2 Pet. 2:10-12. Presumptuous are they, self-willed, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities; whereas angels which are greater in power and might bring not railing accusation against them before the Lord. But these as natural brute beasts made to be taken and destroyed speak evil of the things that they understand not, and shall utterly perish in their own corruption.
Reader, I entreat thee conscionably to study these Scriptures, and compare the doctrines of all heretical enemies of the ministry with them.
Reader, I suppose thou wilt marvel that I trouble myself with so wild a generation as the people called Quakers are, or that I trouble thee with a few hasty lines which I wrote on such an occasion. I'll truly tell thee the cause of both: 1) They sent me five several papers, one of them containing the queries which I answer, and others of them almost nothing but a bundle of filthy railing words ("thou serpent," "thou liar," "thou deceiver," "thou child of the devil," "thou cursed hypocrite," thou dumb dog") with much more of the like. They chose out one day when it pleased God to confine me to my chamber by sickness, to come into our assembly and after morning sermon to fall a questioning the preacher, my assistant; and because he avoided public disputing with them at that season, as not taking it for a profitable spending of the Lord's Day, they call him "the hireling that flieth," it seems referring to John 10:12, and so confessing themselves to be the wolves. I find that they do so challenge and brag and triumph, if we say nothing to them, and that too many simple people expect that we should answer them, that (after an unprofitable verbal discourse with an unreasonable railing fellow) I resolved to send them this brief answer to their questions. And because they abhor syllogisms and disputings, and I was fain to deal further with them in their own questioning way: I had before offered to come and answer all their queries in their assembly, if they would consent that I might do it without disturbance. But instead of permitting that, they denied it, and sent me a letter of reviling, calling me over and over serpent and hypocrite and the like names, and commanding me in the name of the most high God to answer their questions in writing, that they might print them <109> with their reply; so that if I say nothing they will insult; if I write to them they will print it; being therefore so far called to speak, I chose rather to print my own papers, how mean soever, than let them do it.
Two objections I foresee will be raised against me: One is that the persons are so contemptible and the errors so gross that it's a needless work to strive against them. To which I say, let sad experience witness whether it be needless, when they so much multiply and so many where they come are presently infected. The salvation of the poorest Christian is so far from being contemptible, that it is worth much more than our greatest diligence. 2) It will be said, it is but the churches of the Separatists and Anabaptists that are emptied by these seducers; and it's best even let them alone to keep their own flocks and secure their churches, or if they fall off it may show others the tendency of their ways and so prevent their turning aside. To which I answer: (1) Though the stream of apostates be such as first were Anabaptists or Separatists, yet here and there one of the young unsettled sort do fall into that stream that were not before of them, but perhaps inclining to them, and so do some few that had no religiousness. (2) I have far rather that men continued Separatists and Anabaptists than turned Quakers or plain apostates, and therefore would do all that I can to hinder such an emptying of their churches as tendeth to the more certain filling of hell; it's better to stop them in a condition where we may have some hope of their salvation than to let them run into certain perdition. I did therefore take it to be my duty when these poor neighbors who had before been Anabaptists, Separatists, and some Seekers, had turned Quakers, to offer them a verbal answer to all their vain questions, that I might have had so much opportunity to undeceive them. When they refused that, and said they would not be drawn into a serpent's snare, I thought best to send them my answer in writing, committing it to some of their neighbors, that they might desire leave to read it in their assembly. And when I heard that they would not grant that neither (for all their insulting adjuring of us to answer them), but talks of printing something against me, I chose rather to tell the world of these passages between us, than leave them to their reports, especially hearing how they increase in London and other parts, and that the ignorant have need to some plain information to prevent their apostasy and perdition in this temptation.
April 20, 1655
Though God's mind be most plainly revealed to us in his written word, yet are his providences also teaching, and it is the duty of his <110> servants to read and study them, especially the penal withdrawing or withholding of his grace, and giving men up to believe lies, and to vile affections, to a reprobate sense and to an abominable conversation; these are such discoveries of the sore displeasure of the Most High as should make even the beholders to fear, and all that stand but near to this heavy judgment to fly away from it, as the Israelites did at the cries of the rebellious followers of Korah (Num. 16), lest the earth should have swallowed them up also. I am not of their mind that make light of the strange providences in our military affairs and changes of state, though I think every carnal admirer of them doth not understand them. But it's a matter of very sad consideration that many of those same men that seem so much to magnify these do no more observe, understand, and lay to heart the more remarkable providence of our heavy spiritual judgments! The overlooking of these providences makes many fear lest it be but their own interest which they study in the other, and lest by reading themselves and their own names where they should read God, they turn this light into darkness or seduction, and by surfeiting on this feast do contract those diseases that are like to be their bane. What is God's word for but to make himself and our duty known to us? And so he doth very much by his works, where we may see his nature and something of his approbation or dislike, especially as they are read by the help of the word. Certainly God is known by the judgment which he executeth, specially when the "wicked is snared in the work of his own hands" (Ps. 9:16). The hand of God is apparently gone out against your ways of Separation and Anabaptism: it is your duty to observe it. You may see you do but prepare too many for a further progress: Seekers, Ranters, Familists, and now Quakers, and too many professed infidels do spring up from among you, as if this were your journey's end and the perfection of your revolt. And it is your churches and those that lean toward you that presently receive the doctrines of the deceiver, and are the stream in which some others with them are carried away. You may see you cannot hold your followers when you have them; your work is blasted, you labor in vain, nay, worse than in vain; you do but prepare men for flat heresy and apostasy. I have heard yet from the several parts of the land but of very few that have drunk in this venom of the Ranters or Quakers, but such as have first been of your opinions and gone out at that door. The rest are but here and there a young person that was not noted for any great matter of religiousness, or only liked it and inclined to your ways. And if any others be seduced, the evil ariseth from among you, and from your graduates do they receive their taint, as yours do from the Papists and the great deceiver. Is it your ministry or ours that they bend their force against? Is it not part of their present business to do your work and cry down infant baptism? One of the queries which they have put to me is "What express <111> Scripture I have for infant baptism? which I must show without consequences or else confess myself a false prophet." And another tendeth to prove us no true churches. The Quakers then are Separatists and Antipaedobaptists, though more: I speak not this to reproach you but to mind you of the tendency of all your endeavors, that you may seriously as before the Lord consider whether he do not witness from heaven against you and your ways by giving up your followers to such abominations as since the days of the Nicolaitans and the rest of the Gnostics, the sun hath not seen, at least so openly and commonly owned. Have you well considered into what your societies were resolved in Germany and other parts? And do you well consider what fruits they here bring forth, and how likely they are to be shortly quite corrupted, if a speedy stop be not made? and what it is that you have done to the church of God, and how much it is beholden to you for the prosperity of truth and piety. Is it like to be God's way which so ordinarily leadeth to and endeth in such desperate evils? I make not this my first or chief argument against you, but it's a considerable second, and should make wise men at least suspicious of such a course. Nor would I thus argue from the apostasy of a few, or upon some unusual accident; but when such hath been the fate of the stream of your party, from the very first rising of them in the world to this day, I think it not inconsiderable. Nor would I thus argue from any temporal judgment or oppression by a persecuting enemy; for I know that is no such sign of God's displeasure. But if I suspect whether those persons are in a way pleasing to God, whom I see him so usually deliver up to Satan, I hope I may be excused. Certainly God's churches are the places of his blessing and his delight. And certainly such spiritual plagues as our eyes now behold are as evident notes of God's heavy displeasure as men can expect to see on earth. And we have the more reason yet to be suspicious that this is God's disowning of your way, and testimony from heaven against it, in that he followed the first heretics, the Simonians and their followers, with the same kind of judgments, and by such fearful desertions did then witness his detestation of those that withdraw from the unity of his church.
And it is very remarkable that it is a pretense of our impurity and of a greater purity with you, that is pleaded by those that first turn over to you, and that this height of all impieties should be the usual issue of a way pretended so exact and clean. Doubtless it is none of God's mind by this to discourage any from purity and true reformation, but to show his detestation of that spiritual pride which makes men have too high thoughts of themselves and too much to contemn others, and to desire to be further separated from them than God in the day of grace doth allow of, where the tares (of ungodly men) are such as cannot be pulled up and cast out of the church without danger of pulling up and casting out <112> some of the wheat, even the weakest true believers with them, there God would have us let both grow together till the time of harvest. But these proud men will stand at a further distance and will dislike God's gracious dealings with sinners, and their eye is evil because he is good; and they will not grow in the same field (or church) where such tares do grow but will transplant themselves and remove from the field because God will not pluck up the tares (especially if any ministerial neglect of discipline be conjoined as too commonly it is), and instead of blaming their own pride and misunderstanding of God's merciful dealings with sinners, they lay the blame on the corruption of the church, and call it "a field of tares" and not of wheat. In one word, it is most evident that spiritual pride doth turn most men from us to you, and that this is the very sin that undoes such a multitude of professors of religiousness, and which hath let in all God's judgments upon us, and the sin which he is now witnessing against from heaven. As none more like to Christ than the humble that are mean in their own eyes and compassionate to others, so none are more like to the devil than the proud, that think highly of themselves and contemptuously of others. And the better the thing is that they are proud of, the worse is their pride in this respect, that it is the setting up of God's precious mercies against him, and the building of Satan's house with Christ's materials. The Pharisee's liturgy is of too frequent use in the Separated congregations ("I thank thee O God that I am not as other men are, &c., nor even as this publican"). He that maketh us to differ from other men, and expecteth thanks for his differencing grace, doth yet abhor a proud ostentation of it, and a diminutive esteem of his smallest mercies unto others, and all proud desires that they should be thrust below us further than he hath appointed. It is the good of sinners and the honor of God that is the end of discipline, and not that we might personally be extolled and judged of above what is meet.
I beseech you take this plain admonition in good part from a desirer or your recovery and salvation.
I have perused your request, and am glad that you are not so confirmed in your misery but that you will yet ask advice of your friend; I pray God you be so ingenious and happy as to take it. It is a very sad thing to me and should be so much more to you, to think that after so much pains as you have taken in duty, and so much zeal as you have <113> professed for God, you should yet be so unacquainted with the will and word of God, and Christ should have so little interest in your heart, as that such horrid unchristian doctrines and practices should be so easily entertained by you, and so far approved of. I marvel why you took it for so great a work of grace to convert you from profaneness, and now will take it for a greater work to convert you to it again, or to much worse? Was it not the same ordinances that you despised before conversion, which you now much more despise? Was it not the same ministers that then you scorn'd whom ye now reproach with far greater bitterness (if you do as those whom you plead for do)? Is it not the same Christians whom you then derided, and now revile at and condemn as children of the devil? O miserable man! Is all your hearing and praying come to this? Dare you meet the messengers of Christ in the face and tell them they are liars and deceivers? Dare you cast out the holy worship of Christ as false worship, and seek to draw people into the contempt of it? Dare you damn those churches and millions of saints that Christ hath bought with his precious blood? Dare you seek to draw men to hate their teachers whom Christ hath set over them, and to hate his people as if they were the children of the devil, and to hate his worship and holy ways? Alas that ever a man in his wits should look upon such abominations as amiable, and much more that any man should be so mad as to do this under the name and profession of a Christian! That you can imagine that the furious opposition to the whole army of Christ, his officers, church and ordinances, can yet be a work that Christ accepteth: that you should no better know Christ's work from Satan's nor know that it is the dragon whose warfare these men do manage? I must needs profess that it is a very grievous thing in mine eyes, that after all our pains with men's souls, and after the rejoicings which we had in their seeming conversion and zealous lives, we should yet see so much ignorance, levity, and giddiness of professors, as that they are ready to entertain the most horrid abominations! That the devil can no sooner bait his hook but they greedily catch at it and swallow it without chewing; yea, nothing seems too gross for them, but so it seems novelty all goes down. I am afraid if they go a little further they will believe him that shall say the devil is God and to be worshiped and obeyed. Shall I freely tell you whence all this comes? Even from hellish pride of heart. You see it not (it's like) in yourself or in them, but I shall endeavor to make you see it both in yourselves and them. For yourselves you confess to me that you have long thought that infant baptism was an error and that now you think the Quakers are in the right; and yet you neither did once read any one of those books which we have written to prove infant baptism to be a duty, nor did once seriously and impartially lay open your doubts to your <114> teacher nor ask his advice, as if you were even then too good to inquire and would venture your soul to save you a little labor, yet are you now confident that you are in the right, and he and all of his mind are in the wrong. You know you are a young man and have had little opportunity to be acquainted with the word of God, in comparison of what your teacher hath had. If you presume that you are so much more beloved of God than he, that God will reveal that to you without seeking and study which upon the greatest diligence he will not reveal to him, what can this conceit proceed from but pride? God commandeth study and meditating day and night in his laws: your teacher hath spent twenty, if not an hundred hours in such meditation where you have spent one; he hath spent twenty if not an hundred hours in prayer to God for his Spirit of truth and grace, where you have spent one; his prayers are as earnest as yours; his life is much more holy and heavenly than yours; his office is to teach, and therefore God is as it were more engaged to be his teacher and to make known his truth to him than to you. Is it not then apparent pride for you to be confident that you are so much wiser than he and that you are so much more lovely in God's eyes that he will admit you more into the knowledge of his mysteries than those that have better used his own appointed means to know them? and for you in ignorance to run about with the shell on your head, exclaiming to the world of the ignorance of your late teachers? I say not that you do so. But the Quakers whom you approve of do so, and much more.
I pray you tell me, Did you ever study well what Paul meant (1 Tim. 3:6), where he requireth that he that is ordained should "not be a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil"? The word translated a "novice" signifieth a new plant, a late convert, or new or young Christian. You see here that such are in most danger of being lifted up with pride, and why so? but because 1) They have not yet knowledge enough to acquaint them with their ignorance and great weaknesses. 2) Nor have they yet grown to a just degree of humility and other establishing preserving graces. You see also that to fall into pride is to fall into the condemnation of the devil. You know sure that it is no wrong to you to say that you are but a novice or raw Christian, for it is but a few years since you came out of utter ignorance and carnality; and therefore that you have reason to be very watchful against this sin; yea, by the evidence that you give in against yourselves, you might see that you are too far ensnared in it already.
And for the Quakers, you are blind if you see not their horrible pride. You'll perhaps think it strange that pride should be the very master-sin in them that go in so poor a garb and cry out against pride so zealously as they do, and go up and down the world as if they were sent <115> from heaven to persuade men to wear no lace, or cuffs, or points, and that damn so many ministers for being called masters. But alas do you not know that pride of inward qualifications commonly called spiritual pride is the most killing and abominable! the better the thing is that you are proud of, the worse is your pride. Oh what a brave thing doth it seem in these men's eyes that they should seem to be possessed with such an excellent spirit as can trample upon worldly glory, and can boisterously contemn all that are not of their sect, and that can despise dignities, and be equal with the greatest: yea, that only they should have this admirable spirit, and all others are the children of the devil and under their feet. Though other men should never so much slight them, yet do they wonderfully please themselves with these high thoughts of themselves. For pride is first an overvaluing of a man's self, and thinking of himself above what is meet, and then a desire that others should do so by him too.
If yet you see not the pride of these men, I will show it you in these four particular evidences, and that so plainly, that if you know the difference between the language of heaven and of hell, you may easily perceive the devil speaking by their mouths. 1) They affirm themselves to be perfect, without sin (yea, some of them say they are Christ and God). And is it possible that any man in this life, that is not mad with spiritual pride, can indeed believe that he hath no sin? what? that he transgresseth no law? That he doth love God in the highest degree that he is bound to do? That he never hath a thought or word that is sinful, nor sinfully loseth one minute of his time? Yea, and this when in the eyes and ears of the wisest they foam out their own shame, as the raging sea doth cast out the dirt. The devil himself hath either less pride or less ignorance than to think himself to be perfect without sin. If they have no sin, what need they pray, "Forgive us our sins," or what further need have they of the blood of Christ or his intercession to procure them any further forgiveness? If you can see no pride in this, I fear you are blinded with them to destruction.
2) And is it not apparent pride in them to set up themselves so far above all the people of God on earth? yea, to vilify the most holy and eminent servants of God and condemn all the churches in the world, as if heaven were made for them alone (if it were so well, that all of them did believe a heaven besides that within them, which I suppose is but a sorry heaven).
3) And yet more unmatchable pride and impious infidelity is it to damn all the church and people of God for this 1600 years at least. Indeed God had never a people on earth of these men's way. But (to let pass the Scripture ages which condemn them) tell me, Had Christ any church since the apostles' days till now, or not? If he had not, then he <116> was no head of the church, and so no Christ. For there is no head without a body: if he had a church tell us where it was, and when? Do you not know (if you know anything of the state of the church for 1600 years) that Christ had no church on earth of the Quakers' mind, and that all his ministers have been such as they condemn, and have been called by as honorable titles as they are now? And is not that man either an infidel and enemy to Christ, or stark mad with pride, that can believe that Christ had no church till now, and that all the ministers of the gospel for 1600 years were the ministers of the devil (as they say of us that tread in their steps), and that all the Christians of that 1600 years are damned (as now they dare denounce against those that succeed them), and that God made the world, and Christ died for it, with a purpose to save none but a few Quakers that the world never knew till a few years ago; or at least a few heretics that were their predecessors of old.
4) And I should suppose that their proud, scornful, railing language should put it out of doubt what spirit they are of, to any that are acquainted with the language of Christ's Spirit, and of Satan, and are able to judge of spirits by the most palpable effects, and to know darkness from light.
But you say, it is Scripture-language which they speak. I answer, the greater is their presumptuous sin in making so ill a use of Scripture-language as to serve Satan by it and use it to reviling. What if Christ call Judas a devil? Is it therefore lawful to call Peter so, or any faithful servants of Christ? But I perceive you think they justly condemn us, because we are called masters of men, contrary to Matt. 23. Alas that a Christian should be so ignorant as not to know that even calling Master and Lord too is commonly allowed of in Scripture, and that it is not the title but 1) the proud affecting of the title, 2) and the lording it over men's faith as masters of that (as if others must be of their mind right or wrong) which Christ there condemneth. Even as in the same place he forbiddeth being called fathers, in the very same sense, when yet it is frequently allowed in a better sense. But for the fuller answering of these scruples of yours, and the rest about tithes and suchlike, I send you herewith an Answer to the Questions of some Quakers near us in the parish of Bromsgrove, and refer you to my defense of the Worcestershire Petition printed some years ago.
To your question, What I think of these men? I will tell you what I think and am past all doubt of.
There are in England a company of young raw professors that have more zeal than knowledge. And there are a company of carnal hypocrites that place all their religion in holding certain opinions, and using certain external worship, and siding with a religious party. It is no hard matter <117> to mislead all these if they be not better guided by others than by themselves. While they have due regard to the judgments of their teachers that know more than themselves, and so live in a learning way till they have attained to better understanding, they may escape deceivers. But if they are once brought to be wise enough in their own eyes and to despise their teachers, then they are like a man that hath lost his way in a dark night, or that hath lost his guide in an unknown wilderness, or like a dog that hath lost his master and therefore will be ready to follow anybody that first whistleth to him. The papists and the devil know this well enough, and therefore their first endeavor is to unsettle these people, by taking them off all dependence on their guides, and that must be by bringing the ministers into contempt with them. For if they could once accomplish this fully, and separate the people from their pastors, and so assault the people alone, or with weak and unlearnedc teachers only, they might then easily bear down all before them; and one popish friar or Jesuit would non-plus five hundred of our most famous sectmasters. They remember yet that it was the disgracing of the popish clergy, partly by their own notorious ignorance and viciousness, and partly by our persuading men that the Pope is Antichrist, which was the main advantage which the reformers had for the ruining of the papal kingdom. And therefore they would, partly in policy, and partly in revenge, attempt the destruction of our churches by the same means. These papists seeing the temper of our foresaid unsettled professors do creep in among them and use their utmost skill to unsettle them more, and bring them into dislike of their teachers, without which they have no hope of succeeding. Their first ways are by reproaching the settled government of the church and by drawing men to Separation and Anabaptism, and then persuading them that these are glorious truths of God, which their former teachers are unable to receive, and that they are but a blind, self-seeking, proud sort of men that would enthrall all men to their judgments, when they are in utter darkness themselves. When they have gotten them but thus far once, to despise their guides, then do they proceed further with them and persuade them that they that were blind in the points of baptism and church order, are so in other things as well as that, and that this light which they have seen already is but a spark, and that these being days of glorious discoveries there are yet more and greater matters to be revealed. Hereupon they put a handsome dress upon many of the grossest points of popery and recommend these as the new and rare discoveries. But this they do not in the name and garb of papists, but (as the popish Jew at Newcastle) they turn Anabaptists, and then rise a step higher and lead others <118> after them, so that the silly people shall never know that it is papists that are their leaders; yea, they will cry out of the Pope, and call all that differs from them antichristian, purposely to divert suspicions and blind men's eyes. Thus these papists have begotten this present sect of Quakers, first pretending to strange revelations, visions and trances, such as are commonly mentioned in the lives of their saints in the legends. And so you have here and there a papist lurking to be the chief speaker among them, and these have fashioned many others to their turns, to supply their rooms, who yet know not their own fathers.
And so the Quakers among us are the ignorant, proud, giddy sort of professors, first made Separatists or Anabaptists, and perhaps more (for the most part of them) and then drawn further by popish subtlety, and now headed with some secret dissembling friars, and by them and by the devil enraged against the ministers of Christ, and set upon the propagating of the substance of popery.
If you ask me how I know that it is papists who thus seduce them? I answer: 1) Because they do the papists' work and maintain their cause, as far as yet they dare venture to bring it forth. I could tell you of abundance of popery that the Quakers and Behmenists maintain, as that the pope is not antichrist (which is at least to their advantage whether popery or not) and the disgracing and secret undermining the sufficiency of the Scripture, the decrying of the ministry, the unchurching of our churches, the slighting of justification by imputed righteousness, and drawing men to the admiration of their inherent righteousness and of their works, the crying up the light within us and the sufficiency of common revelation, the setting up the strength of man's free will, the asserting the necessity of a judge of controversy above Scripture (which they are content should be the Spirit of revelations a while, till they can boldlier exchange that for the pope), the extolling of monastical community and virginity, and alienation from worldly employments, the doctrine of perfection without sin in this life, with many more of the like nature. All this the papists have taught the Quakers. If you say, they might learn it without them, I would ask you whether in all these great points you think the papists are righter than the Reformed Churches? If you say they be, speak out and confess yourself a papist; if you say they be not, then who think you should reveal all this popery to the Quakers? Not the Spirit of God, for he is not the author of popery or any falsehood. If it were the devil, then it seems that popery and the Quakers' faith is hatched by the prince of darkness. And whether it were friars or devils, or both, that make Quakers it's not worth the while to dispute, as long as we know that it is popery that they hold, and the devil befriendeth it.
Perhaps you will say that they hold many certain truths, they cry down pride and drunkenness, and worldliness, and cry up mortification <119> and charity and humility. I answer, and do not we do so as well as they? These are points where we are agreed with the papists. Do you think that God would extraordinarily send these men to preach down the very same sins which are commonly preached down already, better than they can do it, by those men whom they reproach? All that is good among them is only that which is as common among us, and I hope a little better maintained and managed. And all that wherein they differ from us is their popish and heretical errors.
2) But to give you further satisfaction, it is known by certain proof that it is the papists that do seduce and head them. Many of themselves have confessed such things, and their present industry among us is well known (which that they may proceed in with less impediment, they are the zealous defenders of universal toleration, or liberty for propagating soul poisoning doctrines, for all the torments of the Inquisition in other countries). Have you not seen a sheet of paper published by M. Prin, containing an oath of a citizen of Bristol taken before the magistrates of that city? I will transcribe you the deposition lest you have not seen it.
Who informeth on his oath, that in the month of September last, this informant had some discourse in Bristol with one M. Coppinger, an Irish man, formerly a schoolfellow of his, that came thither purposely for his passage into Ireland, who told this informant that he had lived in Rome and Italy eight or nine years and had taken upon him the order of a friar of the Franciscan Company. And he told this informant that he had been at London lately for some months, and whilst he was there he had been at all the churches and meetings, public and private, that he could hear of, and that none came so near him as the Quakers. And being at a meeting of the Quakers he there met with two of his acquaintance in Rome (the which two persons were of the same Franciscan order and company) that were now become chief speakers among the Quakers, and he himself had spoken among the Quakers in London about thirty times and was well approved of amongst them. And this informant further saith, that the said M. Coppinger asked him what kind of opinions in religion there were in Bristol? And this informant told him there were several opinions and judgments, and not naming any opinions of the Quakers, the said M. Coppinger asked him whether there had been any Quakers in Bristol? And the said informant answered him, No; whereupon the said M. Coppinger told him the said informant two or three times that if he did love his religion and his soul, he should not hear them, whereupon this informant told him <120> that he thought none of them would come to Bristol, who expressly replied, that if this informant would give him a pound he would make it 500 pounds if some Quakers did not come to Bristol within three weeks or a month then following. And on the morrow following the said Coppinger departed from this city for Ireland, his native place, and about 18 days after, there came to this city two persons that bare the name of Quakers.
If you further ask me, why the papists are so diligent in these kind of works? I answer, their tyrannical faction and schism is maintained by works of darkness and unconscionable deceits. And they know in such works as these they are not like to lose their labor; they have so many several ends which they hope to attain. Some they may bring directly to popery itself. Some they bring to a great part of popery before they know where they are. All of them they procure to do their work in disgracing the ministry, and many of them in disparaging the Scripture. All lest they know when men are loosened from all former grounds, they are readier to receive a new impression. Also by this means they think to make the multitudes of sects and the madness of them to be a shame to our religion. And by this argument they turn many others to their side. They use from hence to assault our common ungrounded Protestants, and say, You may see now what it is to depart from the unity of the Roman Catholic Church (for so they will needs call their transcendent schism). And when they talk among their own followers in France, Italy, and other countries, they mightily from hence confirm them in their errors, and do so aggravate the heresies and sects among us which themselves have cherished that they make the world abroad believe that the Protestants or Reformers in England are almost all running stark mad, and even given over to the devil to possess and move, and shake their bodies, and that we are broken into so many shreds and pieces, that we are almost "so many men so many minds," and have now no face of a church among us, especially having the advantage of the suffrages of some few over-angry divines among ourselves, who (on another ground) comply with the Separatists, affirming that we have no true churches where there is not the episcopal preeminence. You see then what game the papists play in their fomenting of these sects, and what use they make of them home and abroad.
To conclude, I entreat you to consider well of the sense of these passages in the holy Scriptures: Eph. 4:11-16, where you may see that Christ's officers or ministers are settled by him in his church for the edification, unity, and (at last) the perfecting of the body, and the preserving of the poor people from the snares of such seducers, "that we henceforth <121> be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine by the sleight of men and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive." Young unsettled novices and proud self-conceited professors and opinionists are like a bundle of feathers tossed up and down, and carried that way as the wind of temptation driveth them.
1 Cor. 11:18-19: "When ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you, and I partly believe it. For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you." I pray you mark here what God's end is in permitting these divisions and heresies among us. They are the wind that must sift us and show us which was the wheat and which the chaff. This trial is to prove you and all of us and see whether we are light or solid, approved and sound in the faith, or hypocrites. If this trial turn you quite over to the division of Separation and Anabaptism, and to the heresies of the Quakers, we shall know that you were before a proud, giddy, unsettled novice, not approved of God nor sound at the heart. And it's an excellent work of God thus to prepare for the great judgment and make such an open discovery of superficial, proud, unsanctified men. For as it's said (1 John 2:19), "They went out from us but they were not of us; for if they had been of us they would no doubt have continued with us, but they went out that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us." The Lord open your eyes and humble your heart, and acquaint you with your great darkness and imperfections and with the sufficiency of holy Scriptures, and the necessity of his order and ministry, and the need that you have of those guides whom you despise, and the obedience and submission that you owe them, and the excellency of the church's unity, and the mischief of all divisions and heresies, and recover you from their snares.
Your true friend,
Before the last I wrote to you, I had received three several papers, with the names of three several persons of you inscribed, viz: one Jane Hicks, one Thomas Chandler, and Edward Neway. These I have yet to show, though the spirit that possesseth you did since prevail with you to call me false liar and serpent in folio, but for telling you that I had received them from you. Forsooth, because I named not the woman before, and because Neway wrote not. But might not I receive them as from them, and having their names and only theirs inscribed for all that? Since that time I have received two more, one subscribed by Richard <122> Farnworth and Thomas Goodaire, and another without any subscribed name. I showed Thom. Goodaire that with his name, and asked him whether he owned it, who told me, he neither read it nor mine which it replied to, and yet so far believed those that had, that he owned his name at it. Having received in your first letters almost nothing but some sheets of "thou serpent, viper, thou child of the devil, thou son of perdition, thou dumb dog, thou false hireling, thou false liar, deceiver, greedy dog, thou ravening wolf, thou cursed hypocrite," with much more of the like, I returned you no reply, as confessing myself not so well skilled in that language and learning as you are. And for the dunghill-heaps of false accusations annexed, I pass them by, as being well known to be impudent slanders—such as my "upholding accursed, prelatical government, false worship, &c." for which you dare say "the vengeance of the Lord is against me," while you instance only in one word of a paper of mine, wherein I moved that men be restrained "from preaching against the essentials or fundamentals of Christianity," which one of you tells me is a restraining men from "speaking any more in Christ's name" and a "persecuting Christ's ministers." We may see what Christianity and Christ's ministers are in your account, who take it for such damnable enmity to Christ for a man to be restrained from preaching that there is no Christ, or from reproaching him. I do not think if I had desired that men should be restrained from calling you damnable heretics, or the bastards of the papists, that you would have been so forward as to have said that herein I was your enemy. Nor do I think you would have taken it for any dangerous restraint to the liberty of their consciences. But Christ will deal justly with you though you deal unjustly with him and his.
When your praters were here, I desired to know the further ground of all these heavy accusations, that must prove me a child of the devil, a greedy dumb dog, a son of perdition, with all the rest. And I could have no proof of all but this: that I was called Master; that I stood in a high place to preach; and that I studied; and that I preached by an hourglass, and so would limit the Spirit if I had it; and that I took money for tithes. False doctrine and worship I was charged with in general, but not one word of instance in any particular that I can remember. To these charges I shall give you some account anon.
When I had received your 24 Queries I sent you my answer, that if you would but subscribe your consent that I should come to your meeting and answer them all by word of mouth without disturbance, and you would receive what was made plain to yourselves to be the truth, I was willing to come over to that end. This motion you detest and reject with a sheet of further revilings in the same language as the first were: I hope you will not take it ill if I reply not in that grinning <123> or barking rhetoric. For if I be a dumb dog, you cannot expect that I should equal you in snarling, or barking, or howling.
But have you not bewrayed your deceitfulness in refusing to consent that I should come and answer your questions? Do not you show by this that you are children of the darkness, and the works of darkness you are carrying on? When you hate the light because your deeds are evil? Why would you send me queries which you would not give me leave to answer by speech? What was it that you feared?
But instead of this, you "charge and command me in the name of the most high God to answer them in writing," that you may "publish them with your reply if need be." But when I desired to see the commission by which you claim this authority, you show me none, but tell me it is invisible. And may not all the world command me on these terms as well as you? Instead of admitting me to answer in your congregation, some of you came over (taking a time when the Lord had shut me up by sickness, and could not go to the public meeting) to make a disturbance in our assembly, Mar. 25, and to try your rhetoric on the minds of people in this place; whereupon it pleased the magistrate to bind one of you to the good behavior, for the public disturbance, and railing at the magistrate. And upon this you send another paper with an outcry against us as persecutors; when you might know that I was not concerned in the business, and when indeed no man did so much as once ask my advice in it. But as for them that did it, I dare no more accuse them of persecution than I dare accuse them for persecution who shall burn a thief in the hand. Alas, what impatient souls are you to cry out so much of persecution, when many a poor scold is ducked in the gumble-stoold for words more incomparable sweet and lamb-like than yours?
I shall now come to say somewhat to your papers: and first give you a word of my reason why I may not answer them so punctually in order, and word by word, as you command me to do: 1) because I dare not be guilty of losing so much precious time; 2) because I have much more profitable work to do, though you accuse me for idleness because I do not dig or thresh—when yet your praters when they were here did neither dig nor thresh any more than I, nor do I hear that they do elsewhere, as they follow their seducing employment.
3) Because you have heaped up nonsense, vain repetitions and confusions so as to answer you accordingly would be of small use to any and would but prove me to be like yourselves. Many more reasons I overpass. There is not a scold in all the country but may as honestly and reasonably command me in the name of God to come and scold with <124> them in the marketplace as you may command me thus to answer your scurrilous scolding papers. Yet you shall have no cause to complain that I have overpassed anything that's worthy to be regarded.
Your first query is, "What's the first principle of the pure religion?" To which I answer, 1) "That God is" and next "that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him" (Heb. 11:6). 2) Do you ask this as learners? No, that you renounce. Or as teachers? Why then do you not show your commission to teach? And why do you not plainly teach, but ask questions? Or do you ask it for matter to feed your prating and slandering?
Your second query is "Whether they are a church of Christ that beat and persecute them that witness forth the truth in his name?" etc. Answ. Doubtless it's possible for a true church to be guilty of injuries. But you have as little cause to put this question as the Turk hath. What would you answer if a Jew or a Turk, or a witch, should put this question? "Is it a true church that persecuteth them that witness the truth?" Surely it's nothing to you, who witness abominable falsehoods and dreams. 2) But I'll tell you what do: When you come home, go to some of your gossips, the friars or other papists, and ask them this question: whether it be a true church which set up the Spanish Inquisition? and caused the French massacre? and hath by flames and sword drawn out the blood of so many hundred thousand true Christians? Ask them whether the butcheries of the Waldenses, and the Irish murders were done by a true church? It may be they will give you a more satisfactory answer than I can, because you will sooner hear them.
Your third question is about infant baptism. Of that I have already written a whole book, which in modesty you should peruse before you call to me for more. Have you soberly read what I have there wrote already? If not, to what purpose should I write more to you of the same subject?
Only to your query I will add this query to your founders the Anabaptists: whether by this time they do not feel God's plagues upon their party? And whether God do not visibly testify against them from heaven, in giving up their disciples to all kind of abominations? And whether the plague of Pharaoh be not on those hearts, and of the blinded Sodomites on their eyes, that in all this can see no reason at least to be very suspicious of their way? And whether they are yet resolved to wink on to destruction, or to stay till all turn Quakers, Ranters or infidels? And how much England yet feels itself beholden to Separation and Anabaptistry? And whether it be not the Separated and Anabaptists' churches that are emptied by the Quakers?
Your fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth queries are all <125> about tithes, the substance of which I had answered long ago to some of your leading brethren, in a book called The Worcestershire Petition Defended, to which book I refer you, to spare the labor of speaking one thing twice; and modesty should have taught you to take notice of that which I have done already before you call for the same things again. Only let me now add these queries also to you.
Qu. 1. Whether have you read any of those books that are written long ago to prove that tithes are still of divine right? If you have not, were it not well beseeming a tender conscience to hear all that can be said before men adventure to rail against that which they do not understand?
Qu. 2. Whether there be not sufficient Scripture to warrant a man to dedicate part of his lands to God for the service of his church and promoting of his worship? Yea, whether they did not in the primitive times so dedicate all? selling it, and laying down the price at the apostles' feet.
Qu. 3. Is it not lawful to take and use that which is so dedicated? And if the apostles and first church-officers might take all, may not we take the tenths, when they are thus devoted?
Qu. 4. If our ancestors, many an age ago, have given the tenths to the church for the ministry, are not those sacrilegious church-robbers that should now take them away, having nothing to do with them? And do not you counsel men to the sin of Judas or of Ananias and Sapphira?
Qu. 5. If one that bears the bag prove a Judas and thief, or one Nicolas a deacon should lead a sect of Nicolaitans, your predecessors, whether are all the apostles therefore thieves, or all the churches and pastors greedy dogs, for taking much more than the tenths, even men's whole estates that gave them to that use?
Qu. 6. Whether I or other ministers do ask the people so much for preaching as the Quakers receive themselves? Do not you receive meat and drink, to sustain your lives? But we ask not meat and drink of any, nor anything else that is theirs. The tithes is none of theirs, nor ever was, nor their fathers' before them; but they bought or took leases of their lands, with the condition of paying the tenths as none of their own. We ask them not for a penny, but only to divide between theirs and ours, and give us our own.
Qu. 7. If it be not a wrong to the people more than to the ministers to have the standing church-maintenance taken away, why then do people petition so hard for Augmentations where means is wanting? Or else do worse.
Qu. 8. If the supreme rulers of the commonwealth may lay an excise or tax on the nation, and pay soldiers with one part of it, what forbids but that they may pay ministers of the gospel with the other part? And if they may lay a tax for them, why may they not fix a settled maintenance in tenths for them? much more, why may they not <126> let them possess that which is theirs already by their forefathers' gift?
Qu. 9. Where doth any scripture forbid paying or taking tithes? I have showed you in my other book, where it commandeth allowing sufficient maintenance. Show where it condemneth the tenth part any more than the ninth, or the eleventh, or twelfth?
Qu. 10. When God hath commanded a sufficient maintenance in general, and left it to human prudence to judge what is sufficient (before they give it), if then a man shall say, "Where doth the Scripture require the tenths? and you are no true ministers who take the tenths," is not this as wise as to say, "Though Christ and his apostles did wear clothes, yet show where any of them preached in doublet, or breeches, or stockings, or else you are false prophets for wearing these." Is not this as wise arguing as the other, and to the same purpose?
And where you ask us so oft whether the apostles took the tenths, I tell you again, they took more; that is, men sold all and laid down the money at their feet. It's true that then the poor also were maintained out of it. And if you will show a commission to examine us, we will give you an account how far we maintain the poor out of our mere tenth part. In the meantime it's unreasonable that you demand that we should "so maintain them as to suffer no beggars." For if all that a minister hath will not maintain twenty poor people if he give it them all, how should he then maintain a hundred with it?
Your 10th Qu. is, "Whether Christ enlighteneth everyone that cometh into the world." To which I answer, Yea, he doth so. All that come into the world of nature, he enlighteneth with the light of nature (so called because that it is a knowledge gotten by the book of the creatures and natural means, without supernatural revelation, though it be of grace also, as it is freely given after a forfeiture). And all that come into the world of grace he enlighteneth with the light of supernatural revelation.
Having said as much to this query as you require, I will gratis add something that I may please you by supererogation: I lately saw another paper of your queries which you have dispersed in other places, which speaks almost only of this "inward light," in which I perceived, (1) That you falsely intimate that we deny the necessity of an inward light, whenas we maintain that the external light of the word alone is not sufficient without the inward light of the Spirit. (2) You there intimate to us a supposed sufficiency of the inward light that every man in the world hath. Concerning which I shall say more anon, and now only demand of you, 1) whether you mean it is sufficient to leave men without excuse (that we maintain as well as you), or is every man's light sufficient to his salvation? If so Q.2) was it sufficient before Christ preached the gospel and sent his apostles? Or is it now sufficient to all <127> that never heard the gospel? If so, is not the gospel a vain and needless thing? or are you Christians that dare so affirm? Q.3) If the world have sufficient light, what need they your teaching, or discourse, or conviction? Q.4) If all have sufficient light within them, what need there any converting grace? Q.5) Then why did Christ send Paul to open men's eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, if they had sufficient light before (Acts 26:18)? Q.6) I pray you do not disdain to tell me when you have rubbed your eyes, if all men have sufficient light within them, why you got up into the judgment seat, and pronounced me so oft to be in darkness, and to be void of the light, and to have none of the Spirit? If all have it, why may not I have it?
But let me tell you further in your ear, that we that you so frantically bawl against have read Bellarmine and other papists so oft that we cannot be ignorant who are your teachers, though yourselves are ignorant. We know how earnestly the Jesuits would persuade us that there is a light in every man's conscience, which if he improve and husband well, God is bound to give such additions as shall make it become saving, and that by the good use of natural light men may certainly get supernatural, and that it is in men's own power, what light soever they have, to improve it to salvation.
Your 11th Query is, "Whether we have seen God's face?" Ans. Whether these be learning, or teaching, or quarreling, or doting questions, I leave to your consideration: but what call you had to propound them to such serpents, dogs, and children of the devil, as you call us, I know not. But however I'll answer you truly. 1) By the eye of reason I have seen that there is a God, and that he is infinite, incomprehensible, most great and most good, &c. 2) The same I have seen more clearly by the eyes of faith. 3) But I never saw God by the eye of flesh, for none can so see God and live. "Nor hath any man seen God at any time, saving the only begotten Son who is in the bosom of his Father, he hath declared him." 4) Nor have I seen him in glory intuitively, or as the glorified in heaven do. If you say you have seen more, I shall not be very forward to believe you till I see better fruits of it. I also therefore demand of you, whether he that hath seen God do not abhor himself (as Job did) in dust and ashes? and whether the true knowledge of God do not ever abase the soul and make a man very mean in his own eyes? And then is it likely that ever those men had the true knowledge of God, who make it their business to exalt themselves as having the Spirit, and being perfect without sin, and to revile and bedung other men with their reproaches, as being all the children of the devil, and of darkness, that be not of their strain, and rave not as they do? The Pharisee that thanked God he was not as other men, nor as the publican, spoke humbly and modestly in comparison of you, <128> and yet was he counted a proud self-justifier. If ever you come to the least saving sight of God, it will mightily change the proud strain of your spirits and make you abhor the thoughts of your present evil ways.
Your 12th Query is, "Whether we have the same infallible Spirit as the holy men of God had that spoke forth the Scriptures?" Ans. Why must you know this? Are all dogs and serpents with you that have not that infallible Spirit? But we hear the croaking of your papist guides in that word "infallible"; that's the pillar of their kingdom, and the master-point of their new religion, that their church is infallible. For denying which, Knot the Jesuit against Chillingworth, and a late notable gaudy orator S.W. against Dr. Hammond, and others of them, would fain persuade us that we subvert Christianity and are little better than infidels because we are not infallible. But I will answer you and your masters together in a word. 1) The prophets and apostles had infallible inspirations of new matters of divine verity, not before revealed, because they were to be God's penmen and messengers of such new revelations, I have none such that I know of. 2) The prophets and apostles were guided infallibly in the manner as well as the matter, so that every word that they wrote to the churches was infallibly true; I have no such infallibility, nor your grandfather the pope neither. He may err while he pretendeth to the greatest infallibility in deciding controversies. 3) What man soever he be in the world that believes any truth, he doth infallibly believe it. For he that is in the right is not deceived so far, and he that is not mistaken is so far infallible, which is no more than non fallitur. 4) But if by "infallibility" you should mean the clearness and subjective certainty, as distinct from the objective and the bare truth of our conceptions, then I say, that's another thing than infallibility and not to be so called, and of that certainty men have different degrees. All true Christians are certain of their fundamentals, yet sometime with some doubting, so that they may find cause to say with the apostles, "Lord, increase our faith"; or "We believe, help thou our unbelief." But in lesser controverted points which salvation dependeth not on, the best man on earth may err, much more be uncertain. So that in a word, every church "in sensu composite," while a church is infallible in the essentials of Christianity; and so is every true Christian. And also they know infallibly every other truth that indeed they know, because truth is truth whether they know it or not, and when they do know it they are not deceived. But in many things we all err, because we know but in part, and so far are deceived.
Well, I say still, fair fall the honest humble Christian that will confess with Paul that "we know but in part." For I shall never like pretenders to unerring infallibility more. I know but two such pretenders, and they are both the most abominable deceivers and deceived. One is the <129> pope and his clergy, and who more erroneous. The other is yourselves, even distracted with error. The pope venteth abundance of falsehoods in doctrine and corruptions in discipline and worship, and with all these errors in his hands professeth he is infallible. The Quakers (all that yet have wrote to me or spoke to me) pour out the greatest abundance of most impudent lies, and spew their filthy railings in the faces of almost all they come near, so that I know not whether ever the sun saw a more hardened, shameless, abominable generation than they (with their brethren the Ranters) are; and yet with all this filth upon their lips, they confidently profess that they are infallible and without sin. You may well excuse us that we be not hasty in believing you till we see more reason for it.
Your 13th Query is, "What is hell's mouth that the wicked go in at," &c. I answer, 1) You are liker to know ere long than I; if a miracle of grace save you not, you'll be better able to answer this query than yet your unbelief will give you leave. 2) It sufficeth me to know that hell is a state of endless misery, where such as you shall everlastingly bear the effects of God's wrath and justice with the devils and his angels that now seduce you, if timely recovery prevent it not.
Your 14th Query is, "Whether the Bible be the word of God? and Matthew, Mark, Luke and John be the gospel, and whether there were any gospel before them, and whether they be the light?" To which I answer, 1) Only Jesus Christ is the co-essential, co-eternal word of the Father, being one with the Father. 2) But the holy Scriptures are the temporal expressed word, that is, the signs of God's mind to man, so that Christ and the Scriptures are not called the word in the same sense, no more than is the word of a man's mind, and the word of his mouth or pen. This signifying word was preached before it was written, and then was the gospel, but it was written after it was so preached at first, that it might be a standing rule, and might be kept entire and sure to the church to the world's end. For the bare memories of men would not have kept them for us with such certainty as they have been kept in Scripture and delivered unto us. This word therefore is the light, but not as Christ is the light, or as the Spirit is the light, for there are many lights that must concur to give us light. It is a wise question of him that shall ask, Whether the light by which a man sees be the visive faculty of his eyes, or the light of a candle, or the light in the air, or the sun? Why it may be all these. There must be 1) a sun; 2) a light from that sun in the air; 3) an inward light in the eyes; 4) and that outward received by the inward, before you can see. So God in Christ is the sun, man's reason is the eye, the gospel or word of God is the external light flowing to us from the sun. The Spirit closeth these two together, even the gospel and our reason, and by its powerful work in that closure breedeth a special <130> illumination in the soul which the word alone could not produce.
I shall add some queries to you. 1) Do you believe the Scriptures to be true or not? If you do, then you must believe what they say of themselves. But they call themselves the word of God (Mark 7:13, Rom. 10:8, 2 Cor. 2:17 & 4:2, 1 Thess 4:15, 1 Pet. 1:25). And often they are called the "laws" of God, his "testimonies," his "statutes," his "precepts," his "promises," "gospel," "covenants," &c. "All Scripture is written by divine inspiration" (2 Tim. 3:16). "The word of prophecy is a sure word" (2 Pet. 1:19).
2) Will you give us leave to smell the pope in your endeavors to disgrace the Scriptures, though your own noses be stopped? For we have been used to deal with him at this weapon, and know that this is the main point of his new religion.
Your 15th Qu. is "Whether we own revelations or no?" Ans. I own all divine revelations and disown all diabolical ones, so far as I know them. I own all those blessed revelations contained in the holy Scriptures; for they were infallibly sealed by multitudes of uncontrolled miracles and a spirit of holiness. I believe that the Scriptures or laws of Christ being finished and sealed, we must hold these till the coming of Christ (1 Tim. 6:13-14) and that Christ will be with the preachers of this same doctrine to the end of the world (Matt. 28:21), and that these are able to make men wise to salvation without any more additions, and therefore no more is to be expected. But yet I believe 1) That God hath not tied himself from revealing particular matters in subserviency to Scripture extraordinarily, as divers murders have been revealed, and the like matters of fact. 2) And I believe that all true Christians have the illuminating, sanctifying Spirit of Christ to help them to know all the meaning of the Scripture which is of flat necessity to salvation, and more, according to their several measures of the Spirit with other helps.
Your 16th Qu. is about "Singing David's Psalms," to which I say, Till you have considered what is already written on that question by Mr. Cotton and Mr. Ford, I know not why I should add any more. If all Scripture be written for our use and learning, why may not we speak to God in the words of David's Psalms as well as any other Scripture? Tell me if you can? And further, Qu. 2, They being used by the church till the apostles' times, where do you find that they did ever forbid or abolish that use? Qu. 3. Whether it is more lawful for us to speak God's praises in the words of holy Scripture, and particularly of David's Psalms, or for you to rake together all the threatenings and sharp reproofs in Scripture, to serve your turn to rail and slander me with?
Your 17th Qu. is, "What's the soul of man which the ministers of the gospel are to watch for as they that must give an account to God, and what is it that captivates the soul, and what death is it that hath passed <131> over all, &c. and what is the serpent's head that must be bruised."
Ans. Seeing I am fallen under your catechizing, I will readily obey. 1. The soul is that spiritual substance which causeth by its lower power, your life, growth, and nourishment, by its next power your feeling, and by its highest power (proper to man of all inferior creatures) your reasoning, intellective knowledge and rational willing and affections; which together with the body constituteth the whole man. Supposing that you look not for a definition, because you so abhor logic, I think this in brief may serve your turns. 2. The whole man is oft called the soul in Scripture, because the soul is the most noble part of him. 3. I pray mark the text that you allege, Heb. 13:17, "Obey them that rule over you, for they watch for your souls as those that must give account that they may do it with joy and not with grief, for that is unprofitable for you." Because you have put this text into my hand, I will mix my answer with these few queries to you (for I suppose you expect no great exactness of order from me). Qu. 1. Whether many words in Scripture translated "Masters" (, &c.) be not of as low and humble an importance as "Rulers," and therefore seeing God calleth ministers the rulers of the church, are they not so far masters as the word master signifieth a guide or teacher? And why else are they oft called teachers? Qu. 2 If God bid the people obey them as rulers, and the Quakers persuade them to abhor and reject them as dogs, serpents, and sons of perdition, which is to be obeyed: God or the Quakers? and whether it is the Spirit of God or of the devil and antichrist that the Quakers speak by? Qu. 3. Is it the ministers or the Quakers that watch for the good of souls, and have the rule over them? Q. 4. If the present pastors of the churches be not true ministers, speak out and tell us who are, and where we shall find them, and where they have been from Christ's time till now? Or whether Christ hath been so careless of his church, and so unfaithful of his promise, as to leave his church without pastors from the apostles' days till now; and to leave all the world without true pastors even till now, except the congregations of the Quakers in England? Q.5. According to this text, whether will it be to the people's profit or disprofit to despise and discourage their teachers and guides, and make them do their office with sighing and grief? and will they have in the end a better bargain of it to hearken to their rulers or to the despisers of them? Consider well of these things.
4. I proceed in my answer to your Qu. "That which hath captivated your souls" is the devil by sin: the understanding by blindness and error, your hearts by pride and hardness, your wills by transporting passions and perverseness; and so your lives by open wickedness; imitating your leader and going up and down like raging beasts night and day, seeking <132> whom you may deceive and devour. And against all your rage it is our duty to wait patiently, in meekness instructing such as oppose themselves, "if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth and that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will" (2 Tim. 2:24-26).
5. "The death that passed on all" is the separation of the soul from the body, and of God's special favor or grace from both, and the guilt of everlasting misery for sin.
6. "The serpent's head" is the devil's power and policy, when such as you are vanquished by the light and your folly made known to all; and when the kingdom of Satan in sin and darkness is overthrown, then his head is bruised, as Christ in his own person gave it the great bruise on earth, in the vanquishing of Satan's temptations, in the perfect holiness of his life, in his miracles, casting out devils, and in his triumphant death and resurrection, and afterward in the success of his doctrine.
Your 18th Qu. is, "What is the flaming sword that keeps the tree of life, and what the cherubims?" Ans. 2 Tim. 2:23, "But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes, and the servant of the Lord must not strive." You intrude into those things which you have not seen, vainly puffed up by your fleshly mind (Col. 2:18). It shall suffice me to know that the flaming sword is God's terrible restraint, and the cherubims are angelical executioners of his will: wisdom hath two gates, the gate of grace and the gate of glory. These things are seen by faith now, and by intuitive intellection in the life to come.
Your 19th Qu. is, "Whether they that stand praying in the synagogues or idols' temples, and love greetings in the markets, and binds heavy burdens on the people, and are called of men Master, be not out of Christ's doctrine?" Ans. Because this is all that you go about to prove me a false prophet by, I shall say the more to your satisfaction. 1. If our temples be Christ's temples, do they not blasphemously make Christ an idol, that call them idols' temples? 2. If you are not willfully blind you may perceive that it is not all the external actions mentioned (Matt. 23) that Christ condemneth, but the pride and hypocrisy which the Pharisees manifested in them. Mark first that he bids men even hear the hypocritical Scribes and Pharisees, and observe and do what they bid men observe and do, because they sat in Moses' chair. It is not therefore all the faults there charged on them that will acquit men from observation of their doctrine. Is this agreeable to your practice who damn men that despise not and reject not Christ's most upright and faithful ministers? Their sin is laid down in the 5th verse: "All their works they do to be seen of men." Prove this of us if you can? Because they were proud "They loved the uppermost rooms at feasts, and chief seats in the synagogues." Prove this by us if you can: I had rather have a lower <133> room at a feast than a higher, and ordinarily rather none than either; I use not the chief seats in synagogues; I sit in the midst of the assembly, and so I may conveniently be heard when I am to speak, I care not where I stand. Greetings in the marketplace when did I desire? Or to be called "Rabbi"? But I pray you mark that it is not using but loving the uppermost rooms that Christ condemneth, else no man must sit uppermost, and then we must have none but round tables or not sit at all. So consequently it is not being called Rabbi or Master that Christ intendeth, but a proud desire of and love to those titles. As a man may accept of the highest room for order, that loveth it not in pride; so may he accept of the title of Master from those that owe him respect, though he love it not in pride.
Besides, I pray you note that Christ forbiddeth the name of Master no further than he forbiddeth the name of "Father" (v. 9: "Call no man your Father upon earth)." And yet do you not know how oft the word "Father" is owned in Scripture, and children commanded to love and obey their fathers and honor them: I know the highest of your sect do forbid the owning of any such relations, or names, as fathers, children, husband, wife, master, servant, magistrate, subject, and they forbid all affections to such relations, or honor or respect. But if you were not hypocrites you would plainly speak this out, and then people would better understand you when you rail at ministers for being called Masters.
But for the sake of those among you that are not past recovery, I will tell you that which it seemeth you know not. The Pharisees had their several schools and sects, as the philosophers had, and every one gloried in his disciples, and those disciples in their own sect-masters. One cried up such a man, and another such a man, insomuch as sometimes the followers of these several sect-masters would fall together by the ears and kill each other in the temple, and in the streets, while they contended for their masters' honors. And look what faith the master was of; the scholars must all be of his faith. They must take their belief on trust from him. These leading men that were the masters of their schools and sects, whom none must contradict, were called by the Jews Rabbis and Fathers, as the papists now call their bishop the "Pope," which signifieth "a Father," because as children must be wholly ruled by the fathers, so would the Pharisees have their disciples to be by them, be the matter right or wrong. Just thus do the papists require that the people believe as the church believes, that is, the pope and his consistory whatever it be, and tell us that they are infallible, as being guided by the infallible Spirit, and therefore we must believe them by an implicit faith. Now the Lord Jesus meeteth with these Pharisees and commandeth his disciples that they call no man on earth Father, or Rabbi, or Master, as the Pharisees were called; that is, to have no such absolute master of <134> your religion, or Lord of your faith, because we have all one such absolute Father which is God, and one such absolute Master which is Christ. This is the very same thing that Paul meant when he chides them for saying, "I am of Paul," and "I am of Apollos," as if Christ were divided, or Paul had been crucified for them (1 Cor. 1:13). And it's the same thing that Peter meant (1 Pet. 5:1-3) where he giveth ministers the honorable title of "Elders" and "Overseers" and "Pastors," and bids them "oversee and feed the flock of God"; but yet forbids them doing it as "lords over God's heritage," because the heritage is God's, and Christ is the chief Shepherd. Paul calls a bishop the "steward of God" (Tit. 1:7), "One that must rule the church" (1 Tim. 3:4-5 and 5:17) and saith, "He that desires the office of a bishop desires a good work" (1 Tim. 3:1). But yet he would not have them taken for absolute masters of Christ's school, but as Christ's ushers and as stewards in his house: "Let a man so account of us as the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God" (1 Cor. 4:1), neither more nor less.
There are divers words in the Greek tongue which the gospel was wrote in, which we translate by one word "Master," but if our language be more scarce of words than the Greek, it doth not follow that Christ's words are all one. The word here used in Matthew is , and elsewhere which is as much as the chief leader of the way or the sect-master. What if this be forbidden, is all mastership therefore forbidden because this one is? The word is translated "Master" too, and sometimes "a teacher." I pray you consider here your most ignorant and sottish dealing. The gospel was not written by the apostles in English but in Greek. Because one word signifieth a teacher and a master (such as a schoolmaster is) and our translators sometimes translate it a teacher and sometimes a master, you impudently cry out that one of them is not Scripture, and yet yield that the other is. When in the Greek they are the same word, as you may see it used in Eph. 4:11, Luke 2:46, 1 Tim. 2:7, 2 Tim. 1:11, Acts 13:1, 1 Cor. 12:28, Matt. 10:24, Luke 6:40, Heb. 5:12, Jas. 3:1. In all which places the Holy Ghost useth the word though we English it sometime Masters, sometime Teachers, and sometime Doctors, yet it is all one word in the language that the Scripture was written in; and therefore Scripture alloweth one as much as another.
And if you will stick to the English, you may find the word "Master" used oft enough; and if it be lawful for another man why not for a minister? (Tit. 2:9, 1 Pet. 1:18, 1 Tim. 6:1-2, Col. 3:22, and 4:1, Eph. 6:5,9). Though the word signifieth such a mastership as ministers of Christ will not own as ministers, though over their hired servants they may own it.
<135> It may be you think Paul crossed Christ's rule and was a false prophet because he calls himself "a wise master-builder" (1 Cor. 3:10). Or do you think that the Holy Ghost did err when he called teachers "the Masters of the Assemblies" (Eccl. 12:11).
That the Spirit is no enemy to titles of honor, you may see in 1 Pet. 3:6, where Sarah is commended for obeying Abraham and calling him Lord. And Acts 26:25 Paul calleth Festus "Most Noble Festus," and calleth Agrippa "King Agrippa" (Acts 26:2,26,27). And Rom. 12:10. We are commanded "In honor to prefer one another." So that it's one man's duty to give those titles which another may not ambitiously seek. For my part I will gladly make this agreement with you: I will never wish any man to call me Master, nor be displeased with any that doth not (on that account) if this will satisfy you. But then I confess I dare not condemn them that use so much civility or respect, because God's word is of more esteem with me than your most confident fancies and reproaches.
By this time methinks I may well take leave to salute you with this query: Whether that man be not void of the fear of God, and given over to a seared conscience, that dare go up and down to rail against the most faithful and painful ministers of Christ, whom they are not able to charge with any crime but human frailties, and that because they are called Masters? and all this upon mere sottish ignorance of the Scripture that so commonly useth and alloweth the title.
All that I could get to all this from your prater Tho. Goodaire that was here, was but this, "I deny thy Greek and Hebrew if the Scripture be truly translated," which is but to say, I deny the words of Christ and the apostles. For true translating, there are many words in the original language which have not so many and apt in English to express them by. Translating excludeth not the necessity of explicating. And who knows not that one English word hath many significations? There is a beast called a wolf, and a fish called a wolf, and an eating disease called a wolf. Are these therefore all one, because they have one name? So a sect-master is called a Master, one that would be the lord of men's faith is called a Master, and a teacher of the church of Christ is called a Master. Doth it follow that all these are forbidden because one is?
Your prater also made a stir with me for calling the sacred languages "the original," because forsooth the Spirit of God is the original. And is not that a wise man to go cry down the ministry, that cannot discern the difference between the original cause and the original languages.
He charged me also to be empty of the Spirit because I studied, and told me he did not study, no not in speaking what to say. I the less marvel at his nonsense. But I pray God forgive me that I study no more. Do you think we cannot talk without study as well as you, and I hope a little better; and when the lazy fit overtaketh ministers they are ready to preach <136> without study as well as you do. I can bring you a woman fit for the gumble-stool that shall without any study talk it out with the best of you. We do not so despise God, his word or our hearers, as to speak before we consider what to say. Read 2 Tim. 2:15, Ps. 1:2, 1 Tim. 4:15, Ps. 119:15,23,48,78,97,99,148 and see whether it be not our duty to study and meditate continually day and night. And whereas you call us to thresh and dig, I profess if God would give me leave, I should take it for a great recreation and refreshment to my body, and should think it incomparably a more easy life than that which I endure. Solomon knew, and I know to my sorrow, that much study is a weariness to the flesh; and might I but plough and dig I should yet hope to live in some competent health, who now spend my days in continual pain and languishing. But then how shall I fulfill God's command (1 Tim. 4:15), "Meditate on these things; give thyself wholly to them [mark wholly] that thy profiting may appear to all." How should I "watch over the church day and night" (Acts 20:31), yet whereas your prater feared not before God to affirm that if I had no pay I would not preach, I do here profess before the same God that he is a liar, and I prove it, because I have long preached already without pay and been glad of liberty, and I would labor with my hands as far as my languishing body would bear, to supply my necessities, as Paul did to stop the mouths of your predecessors, rather than I would give over preaching the gospel. Judge therefore whether your lying spirit be the spirit of God or the meet author of reformation, or whether indeed you are perfect without sin?
Your 20th Qu. is, "Did ever the Lord of heaven and earth, or Jesus Christ bid thee, or any of you, Go, and preach to a people, or was any of the apostles or ministers of Christ made ministers by the will of man?"
Ans. I offered your prater here to show him my commission from God if he would show me his, and he told me that it was invisible; and why may not you take the answer that you give? 2. The Lord called his first apostles by his own voice, and appointed them to call others and to establish an order for the succeeding of others in that office of the ministry to the end of the world (Matt. 28:21e) and till the saints be one perfect man (Eph. 4:11-14), that they should ever after be called, might not expect a voice from heaven to their ears, but might be called in Christ's appointed way? And in this way I have been called by Christ. The signs of his call are: 1) My competent qualifications, 2) My thirst after the good of souls and the building of that house of God, 3) The ordination of authorized church-officers, 4) The call and consent of the people of Christ, over whom he hath set me, 5) And afterwards the success of my labors, 6) And some daily assistance of the Spirit in those labors, 7) And some <137> testimony of the Spirit to my conscience of God's acceptance. These seven set together are my evidence of mission, show you the like if you can.
2. Neither Paul nor any true minister is called by the mere will of man, nor are we the servants of men; nor were the apostles called by men at all, but immediately by Christ. But all afterwards were to be called by Christ, through the ordination of men (Tit. 1:5): "For this end left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest ordain elders in every city" (Acts 14:23). "When they had ordained them elders in every church," &c. The gift was given Timothy by prophecy, "with the laying on of the hands of the Presbytery" (1 Tim. 4:14). Paul directeth him whom to make bishops (1 Tim. 3). Will not all this suffice you?
Your 21st Qu. is, "Whether had any ministers of Christ an hourglass to preach by, or took a text and raised doctrines, reasons, uses, motives, or a carnal bell to call people together by, prove these things by Scripture, or else be silent, and never profess yourselves to be ministers of Christ more."
Ans. By your patience, I must tell you, that the conclusion is but your lordly ignorant command (such as is joined to many of the other queries): Scripture is God's laws, and a sufficient rule for doctrines and worship itself, but was never intended to name to you every circumstance that is lawful about that worship. Hath Scripture told you at what place you shall meet, or at what hour? I tell you again, you speak with no more wisdom than if you should say thus: "Prove that ever man read the Bible with a pair of spectacles, or that ever Christ or his apostles used a printed Bible (when printing was invented but a while ago) or that ever they used an English Bible (when they wrote in Greek) or that ever they preached in doublet, breeches, or stockings, or else call yourselves ministers of Christ no more"? And why so? Because you command us, and yet tell us your commission is invisible. These circumstances are purposely left by Christ to the determination of human prudence, as occasions shall require; and therefore he bids us do all things to edification, and decently, and in order (1 Cor. 14:26). And therefore sure we must discern what is edifying, decent and orderly. This is plain to them that will see. What, came the word of God out from you, or came it unto you only? If any man think himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things I write are the commandments of the Lord. But if any be ignorant let him be ignorant (1 Cor. 14:36-38).
But I pray you if an hourglass be unlawful, tell us whether a clock be lawful, or a dial, or a watch? or whether it be lawful to observe by the sun how the time passeth? and why one is more unlawful than another?
But your prater told me it was a limiting of the Spirit of God. As if I cannot limit myself and not limit the Spirit? Or as if the Spirit excluded reason and prudence, and set a man's tongue a going so that he <138> cannot stop it. Did the apostles stint the Spirit because they appointed their meetings on the Lord's Day and did not stay two or three days together? why then may not we resolve upon an hour as well as they did on a day. For one is limiting as well as the other. I think if I had your spirit to liquor my tongue, I should be angry at the hourglass, and preach the people out of the place.
And for a text: 1) Know you not that Christ himself took a text (Luke 4) and applied it? Know you not that it was then the common practice of the church to read, expound, and apply the Scriptures, as Ezra did? Know you not that there is doctrine, reason, and use in all the sermons and epistles of the apostles? Know you not that we are commanded rightly to divide the word of Truth, as workmen that need not be ashamed, and to study thereto (2 Tim. 2:15)? Ah wretched souls that dare so blindly cavil with the work of God.
For what you say of "a carnal bell" it is like the rest which I before answered, not fit for the mouth of a reasonable creature to have mentioned. But I must tell you that our bells are not carnal: if they were, they would scarce sound so well or last so long. If your meaning be that you would have us baptize our bells to make them spiritual as your ghostly fathers of Rome do, we will keep our carnal bells till we know more reason for that practice.
The 22nd Qu. is this, "Whether are not they that bear rule by their means, and seeks for their gain from their quarter, and seeks for the fleece, and makes a prey upon the people, and are hirelings, be not false prophets, yea or nay, and whether such be not to be cried out against now as they were then?"
Answ. To this I have sufficiently answered already to your brethren in my other book. Only let me tell you: 1) It is a most certain thing that God allowed the priests the tithes, and much more, when he thus cried out against them; dare you deny that? If you dare not, confess then that it was not the mere taking of tithes that caused God so to rebuke them. Read but Mal. 2 & 3 without spectacles and then judge. It's most evident then that the thing that God condemneth was not taking tithes but covetous greedy desires after gain, and neglecting the good of souls and the work of God. And are not we as willing to cast such out as you are to reproach them? Whether we seek theirs or them, and whether we are not willing to spend and be spent for the salvation of our people, we must be tried by a more righteous Judge than you.
Your 23rd Qu. is, "Whether do you own trembling and quaking which the Scripture witnesses?" Ans. I own the fear of the Lord which is the beginning of wisdom, and think him blessed that feareth always, and that he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief. But I think <139> that the great quaking that was in the army of the Philistines was no virtue or blessing to them, nor any sign of God among them (1 Sam. 14:15). And I think that "Perfect love casteth out fear," and that those shakings and quakings that come not from the humble sense of sin or judgment or the like, but in violent motions of the body affectedly, are either papistical tricks of deceit, or effects of fantastical conceit, or the motions of the great deceiver within you. I read of it as one of God's curses, that "The Lord should give them a trembling heart" (Deut. 28:65). And I am of opinion that the curse is fallen upon you which is written (Ps. 69:23), "Let their eyes be darkened that they see not, and make their loins continually to shake." God's kingdom is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.
Your 24th and last Qu. is, "Whether do you say you shall be free from the body of sin while you are on the earth, and whether shall any be perfect yea or nay?"
Ans. I believe that all true converts are free from the dominion of sin, but not from the remnants of it. And that our grace is of a perfect kind, as a small candle is of a perfect kind of fire, which yet will not enlighten all the town or house, nor scatter away all the darkness as the sun will do. I believe also that in the instant of death when we part with the flesh we part with all the remnants of sin. And for the doctrine of personal sinless perfection here, I believe the devil, the greatest sinner, bred it; the Pharisee received the foretastes and preparatives to it, the heretics and papists first entertained and cherished it, Christ detesteth it, and never man that knew himself or had one spark of true grace and Christian experience did to this day heartily believe it of himself. And I think that it is a part of the papists' dung which they have taught you to feed upon. Christ's kingdom is an hospital; he hath no subjects in it but diseased ones. The Father's kingdom before had perfect subjects, and so shall it have again when Christ hath perfected us. For when he hath perfected us by healing all our diseases and subduing all our enemies, even the last enemy Death (at the resurrection) then will he give up the kingdom to the Father. But now, "In many things we offend all" (Jas. 3:2), and there is no man on earth that doth good and sinneth not. And if we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us, therefore the truth is not in you Quakers.
I conclude my answer with this question to you: If you think you are perfect without sin, whether do you also think that you are already in heaven or perfect glory? For what can keep the soul from the perfect enjoyment of God, but sin. And to enjoy God perfectly is to be glorified perfectly. But I forgot that your brethren think heaven and hell is only within men. Perhaps you look for no more heaven than you have. And I wonder not at it: for if you did, in the way you are in, you are <140> no more likely ever to find it than darkness is to have communion with light, or Belial with Christ. The Lord give repentance unto life, to those of you that have not sinned unto death, and show you another heaven before you are out of reach of it, and a further hell before you are in it. Though I look for no thanks from you for my charitable desires, yet you shall have them whether you will or not.
Having been at this labor at your command to answer your Queries, may I not in reason expect that you should answer some of mine, which I do but request and not command. But I desire of you that you will not put me by with gumble-stool rhetoric instead of answers, but speak considerately, truly, and to the point in question. I mean first that you will answer all those Queries which I have before put to you among my answers to yours, and then that you will answer also these twenty Queries following.
Qu. 1. Are they not the very same ministers which you rail at, and which all the drunkards, swearers, whoremongers, and sensual wretches in the country do hate and rail at as well as you? Are you not then on their side and possessed with the same spirit? They despise the preachers of the gospel and would have them down, and so would you, even the very same men as they would. When they had opportunity they raged against them with swords, and so do you with filthy tongues. Would not all the covetous, malignant, ungodly enemies of piety have tithes down as well as you? What think you? I can witness it of most of my acquaintance that are such. Moreover, were they not the same sort of ministers which the late bishops silenced, suspended, and otherwise troubled, and which you revile at? Is it not then the same spirit by which you and all these were or are acted? Consider and judge.
Qu. 2. Whether it be not the same spirit which moveth in you and in the papists? when the papists say that we are no true ministers of Christ but deceivers, and teach the divination of our own brain, and delude souls, and so say you. The papists say our congregations are no true churches, who own us as their pastors, and so say the Quakers. The papists know that the great thing that must be done before they can seduce the people among us is first to make them despise and reject their teachers, and therefore they bend all their wits and endeavors to vilify them and draw the hearts of the people from them; and so do the Quakers. The papists' main error lieth in the contempt of the Scriptures: they say they will not take it for the word of God but on the authority of the church and that it is but part of his word; the Quakers say it is not the word of God. The papists say it is but a dead letter, and so do the Quakers. The papists say it is not fit to be the judge of controversies, and so say the <141> Quakers. The papists prefer the Vulgar translation before the same words in Hebrew and Greek which the Spirit did indite the Scriptures in, and so do the Quakers in English. Could the papists but get down the regulating authority of Scripture, they would think they had won the field, for they will not endure that all spirits should be tried by the written word, no more will the Quakers. The papists maintain man's free will hath power before conversion to repent and believe, and turn to God, and that it is not only the fruit of the Spirit in the elect, and so do the Quakers. The papists tell men of the sufficiency of the common light that is within them, and so do the Quakers. The papists say that a man may be perfect without sin in this life, and may fulfill all God's commandments, and so do the Quakers. The papists make this their perfection to lie in casting off worldly callings, employments, relations after the flesh, and propriety, as their nuns, monks, and hermits do; yea, and in casting off their old names, as their pope doth when he is made pope. And so do many of the Quakers, and much worse, as I have seen in papers under their own hands. The papists place their righteousness in their own works and perfection, while they slight the imputed righteousness of Christ, and so do the Quakers. The papists place this righteousness of their own pharisaically in externals, and things that have a show of wisdom and humility and neglecting of the body, not in any honor to the satisfying of the flesh, as "Touch not, taste not, handle not," which are all to perish with the using (Col. 2:18,20,23); so do the Quakers instead of preaching the righteousness of Christ, call out for a formal righteousness and perfection of our own, consisting in such things as these following, to wit: that we wear no points, nor cuffs, nor lace, nor any suchlike, that we preach on the lower places and not (as Ezra did) in a pulpit; that we use not an hourglass to discern how the time passes (whether a clock or watch be as dangerous I know not). That we say "thou" and not "you" to him we speak to (when the word that Christ used signifeth "you" as well as "thou"). That we call not men Masters or women Mistresses, when the Scripture frequently useth and alloweth it, and much more (though Christ forbid us to have any sect-masters or masters of our faith). In suchlike as these doth the Quakers' righteousness lie, while they are ignorant of Christ's righteousness. And just is it with God that they who set up their own righteousness against Christ's should be given up to that hellish delusion, as to take the most satanical slanders, lies, heresies, and railings to be their righteousness. Were it not tedious and not much necessary, I could show in many more particulars how the papists and Quakers do so conspire that we may well know whence their doctrines and delusions came.
Qu. 3. Whether there were ever greater monsters of ingratitude upon the face of the earth than these are, who set their hearts and tongues against those ministers of Christ that lay out themselves for the <142> saving of souls, through all the scorns and opposition of all sorts of wicked men, with whom these wretches join against them? Yea, and make their very study and labor their crime, when it were much easier for us to preach without study, and that I hope with somewhat more truth, sense, and order than they that so boast of the Spirit.
Qu. 4. Were not those faithful servants of God that suffered martyrdom under heathen and Arian persecutors, just such ministers as these men do now vilify, or wherein was the difference? And do not these wretches justify their murderers?
Qu. 5. Are not the ministers whom these men despise, of the same calling and practice as those were that suffered death in the flames in Q. Mary's days? Such as Bradford, Hooper, Latimer, Ridley, Cranmer, Saunders, Philpot, and the rest. Were not these called Masters? Did they not preach in pulpits and take tithes or money for preaching as their due maintenance, and the other things that the Quakers accuse us for? And do not these men justify the bloody opposers of them, and condemn God's saints afresh?
Qu. 6. Whether ever the earth bore men that did more proudly despise others in comparison of themselves? and whether their language savor of the Spirit of the Lamb of God? Or can he have any taste of that Spirit of Christ in himself that doth not even feel that their proud and railing language is of the devil?
Qu. 7. Was there ever a generation known on the earth that did more arrogantly step up into the throne of God and censure his servants, whose faces they never saw, and whom they can charge with nothing but being preachers of the gospel, and that in a pulpit, having an hourglass, taking tithes, &c., to be ministers of the devil, sons of perdition, with much of the like. Though Christ hath said, "Judge not that ye be not judged," and "who art thou that judgest another man's servant? To his own master he stands or falls."
Qu. 8. Was there ever a generation of men on whom the image of the devil was more visible than on these? He is the prince of darkness, pride and malice. And the depth of ignorance and height of pride and malice breaks out so abundantly in their carriage and discourse, that all not utterly blinded may see it. It is the work of the devil to be the "Accuser of the Brethren," and so it is the very religion and business of these wretches to accuse ministers and godly people to be hypocrites, liars, children of the devil, serpents, vipers, with much the like.
Qu. 9. Is it no kin to the blaspheming of the Holy Ghost for such wretches, when they have poured out the most horrid lies, slanders, railings, and false doctrines, to profess solemnly that all this is from the Spirit of Christ within them, and make God and his Holy Spirit the <143> author and patron of all?
Qu. 10. Can that man that hath one spark of grace believe that he hath no sin? Can he have so little knowledge of himself? And consequently of the need he hath of the physician? Dare you say to Christ, we will not be beholden to thee for thy blood to wash us any more, or to thy intercession to pardon us any more? Do you not believe that "In many things we offend all" (Jas. 3:2)? "If we say that we have no sin we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us" (1 John 1:8-10). Are not all Christ's disciples taught daily to pray "Forgive us our trespasses"? For my part, I am one that is sick and have need of the physician, and dare not tell God that I will ask him pardon for no more sins, nor be beholden to him for any more. But oh what a power hath the deceiver with these wretches, that in the midst of their horrid railing, slandering, and other wickedness, will stand to it that they have no sin. Just like the swearer that will swear he never swore an oath, or the drunkard that will swear he was never drunk, when he lieth drunk in the channel. Solomon saith, "There is not a just man upon earth that doth good and sinneth not" (Eccl. 7:20), and these Quakers that pharisaically and papistically justify themselves do give him the lie.
Qu. 11. Whether those that deny Scripture to be God's word as these Quakers do, and deny that there is any such person as Jesus Christ who suffered at Jerusalem, now glorified in heaven in the human nature, and only call somewhat within themselves by the name of Christ, I say, whether these are not abominable infidels, having nothing to do with the name of Christians?
Qu. 12. Is it not damnable hypocrisy in these wretches to prate so much of Scripture, and call for Scripture, while they thus deny it to be God's word?
Qu. 13. Is it not damnable hypocrisy in them to call themselves Christians, when they are infidels and deny the person of Jesus Christ crucified to be in heaven?
Qu. 14. Is not he a pagan and no Christian that thinks that the light which is in all the Indians, Americans, and other pagans on earth is sufficient without Scripture?
Qu. 15. Was that light in Paul which persuaded him that he ought to do many things against the name of Jesus, sufficient to convert him to the faith of Jesus? Or did Christ give him needlessly a light from heaven, and by Ananias his doctrine? Or had Cornelius sufficient light within him before Peter preached to him? Or had all the world sufficient light within them before Christ sent abroad his apostles to preach the gospel to them? Or did Christ send them a needless light by his <144> apostles? Have those persecutors sufficient light within them to cause them to believe in Christ, who think they do God service in killing or reproaching his ministers and people?
Qu. 16. If all have sufficient light within them, what need you go up and down to teach or persuade them? Is it needless light that you bring them, or is it hellish darkness?
Qu. 17. Is it not a most sottish trick of you to go up and down, prating and commanding, and yet refuse to show your commission from God? And to call ministers to show theirs and refuse to show your own, but say it is invisible within you? Are you so mad as to expect any should believe an invisible and indemonstrable commission? And might not we as well tell you ours is invisible (but that indeed it is not)? Or should we believe everyone that prates of a commission within him or no? if not, why should we believe you more than others that say the like?
Qu. 18. Seeing you cry down our ministry and churches, tell us which is the true ministry and church, and when yours begun, and where it hath been since Christ's abode on earth till now? Speak plainly and let us know whether you are indeed papists or pagans?
Qu. 19. Is not that man an infidel and a scorner of Christ, that dare say he came into the world and shed his blood to gather only a few raging Quakers in England 1652 years after his incarnation? If Christ have no subjects but these he is a poor king; if Christ have been till now without subjects, he was no king; if without a body, he was no head; if without a spouse, he was no husband. Therefore show us what church Christ hath had, or confess yourselves infidels.
Qu. 20. Did not the spirit of the Quakers speak in Num. 16:3 just as you do now against magistrates and ministers? And is not God very patient that causeth not the earth to open and swallow you up quick as it did them? Do you understand that the Simonians (or disciples of Simon Magus) and the Nicolaitans, whose doctrine and deeds Christ hateth (Rev. 2), and other Gnostic heretics in the apostles' days, did deal by them and the church then as you do by us now? and that the second epistle of Peter, the epistle of Jude, much of 1 John and 2 John were written purposely against them, besides many other scriptures? And have you well considered those scriptures, and applied them to yourselves?
When you have answered these questions, I require you to have no more to do with me nor any of this church. For we renounce you as heretics after a first and second admonition, and will have no fellowship with such self-condemned persons, nor receive you into our houses, or bid you Godspeed, lest we partake of your wicked deeds (Tit. 3:10, 2 John 10-11).
Kidderminster, March 28, 1655
a. A well-known Puritan pastor and writer.
b. Thomason date: June 16, 1655.
c. Originally printed as "weak, prating, unlearned"; changed to "weak and unlearned" in the Errata list.
d. gumble-stool: a chair in which an offender was strapped, to be jeered at by onlookers or ducked in the water.
e. A printing error: Baxter means Matt. 28:20.