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for some time given over that employment, and like a mercenary Switzer, undertook to be the champion for the Baptists, and to maintain their quarrels against all comers.
His name was up for a topping disputant; but indeed, on the best observation I could make of him, both now and formerly, I could not find him a clean and fair disputant. He seemed, I confess, well read in the fallacies of logic, and was indeed rather ready than true and sound in framing syllogisms. But his chief art lay in tickling the humours of rude, unlearned, and injudicious hearers ; thereby insinuating himself into their good opinion, and then bantering his opponent.
1675. He lived not long after this, but his crafty, false and frothy carriage, had made some impressions on my mind, when I heard of his death.
The controversy which had been raised by those cavilling Baptists, had not been long ended, before another was raised by an Episcopal priest in Lincolnshire; who, fearing as it seemed, to lose some of his hearers, to the Quakers, wrote a book, which he miscalled a Friendly Conference between a Minister, and a Parishioner of his inclining to Quakerism. In which he mis-stated, and greatly perverted the Quakers' principles, that he might thereby beget in his parishioners an aversion to them. And that he might abuse us the more securely, he concealed himself, sending forth his book without a name. This
This book coming to my hand, became my concern, after I had read it, and considered the evil management and worse design there: of, to answer it which I did, in a treatise called Truth Prevailing, and detecting Er
Published in the year 1676. My answer I divided, according to the several subjects handled in the conference, into divers distinct chapters; the last of which treated of tithes.
This being the priest's Delilah, and that chapter of mine pinching them, it seems, in a tender part, the belly, they laid their heads together, and with what speed they could, sent forth a distinct reply to the last chapter of tithes in mine, under the title of the Right of Tithes Asserted and Proved. This also came forth without a name, yet pretended to be written by another hand.
1678. Before I had finished my rejoinder to this, came forth another, called a Vindica. tion of the Friendly Conference ; said to be written by the author of the feigned confetence, who was not yet willing to trust the world with his name. So much of it as related to the subject I was then upon, (tithes) I took into my rejoinder to the Right of Tithes; which I published in the year 1678, with this title, The Foundation of Tithes Shaken, &c.
1680. After this, it was a pretty while before I heard from either of them again. But at length came forth a reply to my last, supposed to be writen by the same hand, who had before
written the Right of Tithes Asserted, &c. but still without a name. This latter book had more of art than argument in it. It was indeed a hash of ill-cooked crambe, set off with as much flourish as the author was master of, and swelled into bulk by many quotations ; but those so wretchedly misgiven, misapplied or perverted, that to a judicious and impartial reader, I durst oppose my Foundation of Tithes Shaken, to the utmost force that book has in it. Yet, it coming forth at a time when I was pretty well at leisure, I intended a full refutation thereof; and in order thereunto, had written between forty and fifty sheets; when other business more urgent intervening, took me off, and detained me from it so long, that it was then judged out of season, and so it was laid aside.
Hitherto the war I had been engaged in was in a sort foreign, with people of other religious persuasions, such as were open and avowed enemies; but now another sort of war arose, an intestine war, raised by some among outselves; such as had once been of us, and yet retained the same profession, and would have been thought to be of us still ; but having through ill-grounded jealousies let in discontents, and thereupon fallen into jangling, chiefly about church-discipline, they at length brake forth into an open schism, headed by two northern men of name and note, John Wilkinson and John Story. The latter of which, as beiog the most active and popular
man, having gained a considerable interest in the west, carried the controversy with him thi. ther, and there spreading it, drew many, too many, to abet him therein.
Among those, William Rogers, a merchant of Bristol, was not the least, nor least account. ed of by himself and some others. He was a bold and an active man, moderately learned, but immoderately conceited of his own parts and abilities; which made him forward to engage, as thinking none would dare to take up the gauntlet he should cast down. This high opinion of himself made him rather a troublesome, than formidable enemy.
That I may here step over the various steps, by which he advanced to open hostility, (as what I was not actually, or personally engaged in) he in awhile arrived to that height of folly and wickedness, that he wrote and published a large book, in five parts, to which he maliciously gave for a title, The Christian Quaker distinguished from the Apostate and Innovator; thereby arrogating to himself
, and those who were of his party, the topping style of christian Quaker ; and no less impiously, than uncharitably branding and rejecting all others, even the main body of Friends, for apostates and innovators.
1681. When this book came abroad, it was not a little (and he, for it's sake) cried up by his injudicious admirers; whose applause setting his head afloat, he came up to London at the time of the yearly-meeting then following,
and at the close thereof, gave notice in writing to this effect, viz. That if any were dissatisfied with his book, he was there ready to maintain and defend both it and himself against all
This daring challenge was neither dreaded, nor slighted; but an answer forthwith returned in writing, signed by a few Friends, amongst whom I was one, to let him know, that as many were dissatisfied with his book and him, he should not fail, (God willing) to be met by the sixth hour next morning, at the meeting place at Devonshire-house.
Accordingly we 'met, and continued the meeting till noon, or after; in which time he, surrounded with those of his own party, as might abet and assist him, was so fairly foiled and baffled, and so fully exposed, that he was glad to quit the place, and early next morning the town also; leaving in excuse for his going so abruptly off, (and thereby refusing us another meeting with him, which we had earnestly provoked him to this slight shift, that he had before given earnest for his passage in the stage-coach home, and was not willing to lose it.
I had before this gotten a sight of his book, and procured one for my use, on this occasion ; but I had not time to read it through : but a while after, Providence cast another of them into my hands very unexpectedly; for our dear friend George Fox, passing through this country among Friends, and lying in his journey at