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THE PREFACE. Reader, It was the wise counsel of an ancient and grave prelate of the kingdom of Ireland, at a late visit I made bim there, to discourage controversy, and endeavour to abate strife among Christians : For,' said he, heaven is a quiet place; there are no quarrels there, and religion is an holy and peaceable thing, and excites to piety and charity, and not to genealogies, strife, and debates. But the bishop of Cork seems to be of another mind, that could not pass by so inoffensive a paper, as that, styled, 'Gospel Truths,' (given him by me, in a private way, at a friendly visit upon his own desire) without his public animadversion : and those expressed not with so much justice and charity, as might have been expected from him to his dissenting neighbours.
I am, I confess, very sorry my Christian visits to the bishop have met with no better returns than controversy : but because that is his, and not my fault, it shall be my satifaction.
I did, indeed, perceiving him conversant in our writings, and his character to be moderation, casually present him with one of those papers; but as the nature of it is far from provocation, so my design in it was purely to improve his temper, and not to excite his contradiction. Nor was it writ for an exact and complete account of our belief,' but occasionally to prevent the prejudices that the attempts of a coarse and scurrilous pen at Dublin, just before, might provoke in some against us, as to the points touched upon in the Gospel Truths.' And thougb we have been so unhappy as to be therein mistaken by the bishop, yet it is some comfort to us, that our Christian declaration hath had quite another reception with the generality of those to whose hands it has come : and I heartily wish that hath not been the most prevailing motive to his undertaking. However, since he has been pleased to fault it both with shortness and error, the first of which we thought healing, or least inoffensive, I esteem myself answerable for it, and shall, with God's assistance, defend it against the force of his exceptions, and I hope, with clearness and temper: for though I may be plain, as he must expect, I desire to be neither rude nor bitter.
I ask, reader, but the common justice due to all authors, especially in controverted points of religion, to wit, attention and impartiality; and then judge whether our pacific paper deserved so sharp a censure, and the manner of its being given him, so public a return : though I hope the consequence will be good. To Almighty God I leave the success, and am, in all Christian obligation,
Thy real friend,
WILLIAM Penn, Bristol, the 23rd of the
7th month, 1698.
The Paper was as follows. Sober Reader, IF thou hadst rather we should be in the right than in the wrong; and if thou thinkest it but a reasonable thing that we should be heard before we are.condemned, and that our belief ought to be taken from our own mouths, and not at theirs that have prejudged our cause; then we entreat thee to read and weigh the following brief account of those things that are chiefly received and professed among us, the people called Quakers, according to the testimony of the scriptures of truth, and the illumination of the Holy Ghost, which are
the double and agreeing record of true religion : published to inform the moderate enquirer, and reclaim the prejudiced to a better temper; which God grant, to his glory, and their peace.
I. It is our belief, that God is, and that he is a rewarder of all them that fear him, with eternal rewards of happiness; and that those that fear bim not, shall be turned into hell, Heb. xi. 16. Rev. xxii. 12. Rom. ii. 5, 6, 7, 8. Psalm ix. 17.
Il. That there are three that bear record in heaven; the Father, the Word, and the Spirit; and these three are really one, 1 John v. 7.
III. That the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among men, and was, and is, the only-begotten of the Father, fuli of grace and truth, his beloved Son, in whom he is wellpleased, and whom we are to hear in all things; who tasted death for every man, and died for sin, that we might die to sin, and by his power and Spirit be raised up to newness of life here, and to glory hereafter, John i. 14. Mat. iii. 17. Heb. ij. 9.
IV. That as we are only justified from the guilt of sin, by Christ, the propitiation, and not by works of righteousness that we have done; so there is an absolute necessity that we receive and obey, to unfeigned repentance, and amendment of life, the holy Light and Spirit of Jesus Christ, in order to obtain that remission and justification from sin : since no man can be justified by Christ, who walks not after the Spi. rit, but after the flesh; for whom he sanctifies, them he also justifies : and if we walk in the light, as he is light, his precious blood cleanseth us from all sin; as well from the pollution as guilt of sin, Rom, iii. 22 to 26. chap. viii. 1, 2, 3, 4. 1 John v. 7.
V. That Christ is the great light of the world, that lighteth every man that cometh into the world, and is full of grace and truth, and giveth to all light for light, and grace for grace; and by his light and grace he inwardly appears to man, and teaches such as will be taught by him, that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, they should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world, John viïi. 12. chap. i. 9, 14. Tit. ii. 11, 12.
VI. That this principle of light and grace, which is God's gift, through Christ, to man, is that which shows us our sins, reproves us for them, and would lead all out of them, that obey it, to serve God, in fear and love, all their days. And they that turn not at the reproofs thereof, and will not repent, and live, and walk according to it, shall die in their sins; and where Christ is gone, they shall never come ; who
is undefiled, and separated from sinners, Eph. v. 13. John xvi. 7. Prov. i. 20 to 24. John viii. 24.
VII. This is that principle by which God prepares the heart to worship him aright; and all the duties of religion, as praying, praising, and preaching, ought to be performed through the sanctifying power and assistance of it; other worship being but formal and will-worship, with which we cannot, in conscience, join, nor can we maiotaio or uphold it, Rom. viii. 26. 1 Pet. iv. 10, 11.
VIII. Worship, in this gospel-day, is inward and spiritual: for God is a Spirit, as Christ teacheth, and he will now be worshipped in Spirit and in truth, being most suitable to his divine nature. Wherefore we wait in our assemblies to feel God's Spirit to open and move upon our hearts, before we dare offer sacrifice to the Lord, or preach to others the way of his kingdom : that we may preach in power as well as words, and as God promised, and Christ ordained, without money, and without price, John iv. 23, 24. 1 Thes. i. 5. Isa. lv. 1. Rev. xxii, 17. Mat. x. 8.
IX. This also leads us to deny all the vain customs and fashions of the world, to avoid excess in all things, that our moderation may be seen of all men, because the Lord is at hand to see and judge us, according to our deeds, Tit. ii. 12. Rom. xii. 2. Phil. iv. 5. Eccl. xii. 14. Mat. xvi. 27. Rom, ji. 6. Rev. xx. 12. X. We believe the necessity of the one baptism of Christ
, as well as of his one supper, which he promiseth to eat with those that open the door of their hearts to him, being the baptism and supper signified by the outward signs; which, though we disuse, we judge not those that conscientiously practise them, Mat. iii. 11. Eph. iv. I. 1 Pet. iii. 21, 22. John yi. Rev. iii. 20.
XI. We honour government; for we believe it is an or dinance of God; and that we ought in all things to submit, by doing or suffering ; but esteem it a great blessing, where the administration is a terror to evil-doers, and a praise to them that do well, Rom. xiii. 1 to 5.
This hath all along been the general stream and tendency,
both of our ministry and writings, as our books will make appear, not withstanding what ill-minded and prejudiced persons may have strained to misrepresent us, and our Christian profession.
WILLIAM Pens. Dublin, the 4th of the
ANTHONY SHARP. Srd month, 1698.
The Testimony of the Bishop of Cork, as to a Paper, inti
i ubed Gospel Truths, held, &c. by the People called Quakers,' and delivered to him by an eminent Member of them.
Friends, I am such a reader as in your paper you desire. I have read, and soberly weighed, the account you give of those things, which, you say, are chiefly received and professed amongst you. And I will exercise so much moderation and charity, as to lay a great weight on that word [chiefly) hoping these are not the only things, or all that you believe. I should have been heartily glad to have found
that you had been in the truth, as I am well assured I myself am : but, as I professed, when the paper was given me, that if I took it, you must expect I should bear my testimony touching it, or against it;' so I must now tell you, I think myself bound in conscience to perform what I 'then professed; and that upon more reasons than I will now trouble the world with. You must not be offended if I say, you have such a way of writing and speaking, that it is very hard, in many matters of religion, to know what you mean. But, as far as I understand you, I will candidly acknowledge what truths you have sufficiently or tolerably expressed; I will show you with meekuess, how far your faith, if this be your faith, comes short of being sufficient, or Christian ; and I will sincerely tell you what I apprehend to be the cause of your delusion, and how dangerous a condition I really fear, nay, believe, you to be in.
And first, The only articles in which you have expressed a sufficient Christian belief, are your fourth, which is, touching justification, and your last, touching government, and your submission thereto. I wish you may always stick to this belief and practice; and I heartily rejoice to find you acknowledging the necessity of Christ, as a propitiation, in order to remission of sins, and justifying you, as sinners, from guilt. It is the first time I have heard of it amongst you.
As to all the rest of your articles, I mean those which I understand, I must tell you, the declaration of your faith comes so short of what is required from people to denominate them Christians, that except, under each article, you believe more than you have declared, you cannot be accounted Christians. For, first, in those articles of faith which you have thought fit to mention, you have set down only some little ends, I had almost called them snaps of the article. And, secondly, many more whole articles of the