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from declaring and crying against you, as such whom the Lord never sent, but are contrary to Christ, his prophets, and apostles, in all your ways and practices; and the hand of the Lord is certainly against you, and his power and dread will come over you, and lie upon your consciences.
Now, reader, whosoever thou art that readest this following volume, if thy mind be sober, and thy heart right towards God, thou may come to a good understanding of the ground and cause of this great controversy, between the priests and the professors of this nation, and us who are in scorn called Quakers, for it is not unknown to nations. Of this great debate and battle, now for some years of continuance in this nation, no man can be ignorant. What putting in prisons, and what persecuting, and what preaching and printing against us, and what reports and fame have been through this nation for some years past! And the Quakers, so called, have written, and spoken, and printed against the priests, and their worships, and ways, and doctrines, and declared against them, as deceivers and false prophets, and such as never were sent of God. And on the other hand, thus have the priests, and more abundantly, cried out against, and printed against the Quakers, as heretics, and deceivers, and witches, and all that they could say that was evil. And these things being not unknown, but publicly brought to pass, it will be good to discover unto every man, the first ground and cause of this great strife, and the matter of it, and its beginning, so that all may know the certainty of these things, and know they are not without good ground and sufficient reason on our part, to wit, that we have just cause to do, and strive against that generation of priests and teachers, and that we do nothing rashly, and without sufficient reason.
It is now about seven years since the Lord raised us up in the north of England, and opened our mouths in this his spirit; and what we were before in our religion, profession, and practices is well known to that part of the country; that generally we were men of the strictest sect, and of the greatest zeal in the performance of outward righteousness, and went through and tried all sorts of teachers, and run from mountain to mountain, and from man to man, and from one form to another, as do many to this very day, who yet remain ungathered to the Lord. And such we were, (to say no more of us,) that sought the Lord, and desired the knowledge of his ways more than any thing beside, and for one I may speak, who, from a child, even a few years old, set my face to seek and find the saviour, and, more than life and treasure or any mortal crown, sought with all my heart the one thing that is needful, to wit, the knowledge of God.
And after our long seeking the Lord appeared to us, and revealed his glory in us, and gave us of his spirit from heaven, and poured it
upon us, and gave us of his wisdom to guide us, whereby we saw all the world, and the true state of things, and the true condition of the church in her present estate. First the Lord brought us by his power and wisdom, and the word by which all things were made, to know and understand, and see perfectly, that God had given to us, every one of us in particular, a light from himself shining in our hearts and consciences; which light, Christ his son, the saviour of the world, had lighted every man withal; which light in us we found sufficient to reprove us, and convince us of every evil deed, word, and thought, and by it, in us, we came to know good from evil, right from wrong, and whatsoever is of God, and according to him, from what is of the devil, and what was contrary to God in motion, word, and works. And this light gave us to discern between truth and error, between every false and right way, and it perfectly discovered to us the true state of all things; and we thereby came to know man, what he was in his creation before transgression, and how he was deceived and overcome by the devil, and his estate in transgression, and in disobedience, and how he is driven and banished from the presence of the Lord, and the sorrow and anguish which he is in and to undergo. And also by the light in us, we perfectly came to know the way of restoration, and the means by which to be restored, and the state of man when come out of transgression and restored. These things to us were revealed by the light within us, which Christ had given us, and lighted us withal; what man was before transgression, and what he is in transgression, and what he is being redeemed out of transgression. And also as our minds became turned, and our hearts inclined to the light which shined in every one of us, the perfect estate of the church we came to know; her estate before the apostles' days, and in the apostles' days, and since the days of the apostles. And her present estate we found to be as a woman who had once been clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, who brought forth him that was to rule the nations; but she was filed into the wilderness, and there sitting desolate, in her place that was prepared of God for such a season, in the very end of which season, when the time of her sojourning was towards a full end, then were we brought forth. If any have an ear they may hear. So that all these things concerning man, and concerning the times and seasons, and the changing and renewing of times, and all things that pertain to salvation, and redemption, and eternal life, needful for man to know, all these were revealed, discovered, and made known to us, by the light which was in us, which Christ had lighted us withal.
And we found this light to be a sufficient teacher, to lead us to Christ, from whence this light came, and thereby it gave us to receive Christ, and to wituess him to dwell in us; and through it the new co
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venant we came to enter into, to be made heirs of life and salvation. And in all things we found the light which we were enlightened withal, (which is Christ,) to be alone and only sufficient to bring to life and eternal salvation; and that all who did own the light in them which Christ hath enlightened every man withal, they needed no man to teach them, but the Lord was their teacher, by his light in their own consciences, and they received the holy anointing.
And so we ceased from the teachings of all men, and their words, and their worships, and their temples, and all their baptisms and churches; and we ceased from our own words, and professions, and practices in religion, in times before zealously performed by us, through divers forms, and we became fools for Christ's sake, that we might become truly wise. And by this light of Christ in us were we led out of all false ways, and false preachings, and from false ministers, and we met together often, and waited upon the Lord in pure silence from our own words, and all men's words, and hearkened to the voice of the Lord, and felt his word in our hearts, to burn up and beat down all that was contrary to God; and we obeyed the light of Christ in us, and followed the motions of the Lord's pure spirit, and took up the cross to all earthly glories, crowns, and ways, and denied ourselves, our relations, and all that stood in the way betwixt us and the Lord; and we chose to suffer with and for the name of Christ, rather than enjoy all the pleasures upon earth, or all our former zealous professions and practices in religion without the power and spirit of God, which the world yet lives in. And while waiting upon the Lord in silence, as often we did for many hours together, with our minds and hearts toward him, being staid in the light of Christ within us, from all thoughts, fleshly motions, and desires, in our diligent waiting and fear of his name, and hearkening to his word, we received often the pouring down of the spirit upon us, and the gift of God's holy eternal spirit as in the days of old, and our hearts were made glad, and our tongues loosed, and our mouths opened, and we spake with new tongues, as the Lord gave us utterance, and as his spirit led us, which was poured down upon us, on sons and daughters. And to us hereby were the deep things of God revealed, and things unutterable were known and made manifest; and the glory of the Father was revealed, and then began we to sing praises to the Lord God Almighty, and to the Lamb for ever, who had redeemed us to God, and brought us out of the captivity and bondage of the world, and put an end to sin and death; and all this was by and through, and in the light of Christ within us. And much more might be declared hereof, that which could not be believed if it were spoken, of the several and particular operations and manifestations of the everlasting spirit that was given us, and reyealed in us. But this is the VOL. III,
sum: lisc and immortality were brought to light, power from on high and wisdom were made manifest, and the day everlasting appeared unto us, and the joyful sun of righteousness did arise and shine forth unto us and in us; and the holy anointing, the everlasting comforter, we received; and the babe of glory was born, and the heir of the promise brought forth to reign over the earth, and over hell and death, whereby we entered into everlasting union, and fellowship, and covenant with the Lord God, whose mercies are sure and infinite, and his promise never fails. We were raised from death to life, and changed from satan's power to God, and gathered from all the dumb shepherds, and off all the barren mountains, into the fold of eternal peace and rest, and mighty and wonderful things hath the Lord wrought for us,
and by us, by his own outstretched arm.
And thus we became followers of the Lamb whithersoever he goes; and he hath called us to make war in righteousness for his name's sake against hell and death, and all the powers of darkness, and against the beast and false prophet, which have deceived the nations. And we are of the royal seed elect, chosen and faithful, and we war in truth and just judgment; not with weapons that are carnal, but by the sword that goes out of his mouth, which shall slay the wicked, and cut them to pieces. And after this manner was our birth or bringing forth, and thus hath the Lord chosen us and made us an army dreadful and terrible, before whom the wicked do fear and tremble; and our standard is truth, justice, righteousness, and equity; and all that come unto us, must cleave thereunto, and fight under that banner without fear, and without doubting, and they shall never be ashamed nor put to flight, neither shall they ever be conquered by hell or death, or by the powers of darkness; but the Lord shail be their armour, weapon, and defence for evermore. And they that follow the Lamb shall overcome, and get the victory over the beast, and over the dragon, and over the gates of hell; for the Lord is with us, and who shall be able to make us afraid?
Then having thus armed us with power, strength, and wisdom, and dominion, according to his mind, and we having learned of him, and being taught of him in all things, and he having chosen us into his work, and put his sword into our hand, and given us perfect commission to go forth in his name and authority, having the word from his mouth what to cut down and what to preserve, and having the everlasting gospel to preach to the inhabitants of the earth, and being commanded in spirit to leave all, and follow him, and go forth in his work, yea an absolute necessity was laid upon us, and wo unto us if we preached not the gospel. For when we looked abroad and beheld the world, behold it was altogether darkness, and even as a wilderness,
and desolate, and barren of good fruit; and death reigned over men, and no good fruit was brought forth to God, but leaves we beheld upon every soul. And all men and peoples were made drunk with the wine of whoredoms, and the whore's cup they had drunk, and were committing fornication with the great whore, and she reigned over the kings and peoples of the earth. And the antichrist was set up in the temple of God, ruling over all, having brought nations under his power, and set up his government over all for many ages; even since the days of the apostles and true churches hath he reigned, while the woman hath becn fled into the wilderness, and the man child caught up to God. Christ said antichrist should come, and put on the sheep's clothing, and be inwardly a ravening wolf; and John saw that antichrist was come in his days, and he went forth then from the true church, and went into the world, and deceived the world; and ever since, his kingdom hath reigned over nations; for then he began to exalt himself, and it is sixteen hundred years since, all which time antichrist hath had the sheep's clothing, but inwardly a ravener, and hath ruled and reigned. And this we saw, in the very time of our birth and bringing forth; and we beheld nations as a wilderness untilled, and men's hearts as the fallow ground, unbroken up, and not ploughed nor sown with the good seed of God's kingdom. So that we saw all states and orders of men corrupted and degenerated from what they ought to be, and from what God had once ordained them. As for the ministry, first, we looking upon it with a single eye, in the light of the spirit of God which had anointed us, we beheld it clcarly (which we had been stumbling at, and much doubting that it was not the perfect ministry of Christ, for many years before) not to be of Christ, nor sent of him, nor having the commission, power, and authority of Christ, as his ministry had in the days of the true churches; but in all things, as in call, practice, maintenance, and in cvery thing else, in fruits and effects we found it to disagrcc, and be wholly contrary to the true ministry of Christ in the days of the apostles. And likewise, we truly beheld it to be in call, practice, and maintenance, and all things, the very same in fruits and effects with the falsc ministry, and false prophets, and false apostles, and deceivers of old. And this I do testify, and am able to prove in the spirit and authority of the Lord, that the public ministry as now it stands generally, is wholly degenerated from what the true ministry of Christ once was, and dissereth, and is contrary in all things to what Christ's ministers ivere, and agreeth, and is equal in all things with what the false prophets and deceivers were throughout all ages. And this I charge upon it, in the face and view of all men to whom this may come; for this we saw concerning it, in the beginning, and our first assurance. And as for other places and orders of men and