« AnteriorContinuar »
bloody Bonner and Gardiner. But to be truly religious they could not be; that is, of the pure religion, and undefiled before God; which is, “to visit the fatherless and widow in their afflictions, and keep themselves unspotted from the world,” when they make widows and fatherless, and afflict them too, and imprison them instead of visiting them; and are so impure, defiled, and spotted with the world, nay, the worst of spots, blood and persecution, though they fled thither from the persecution of the bishops in England, yet turned greater persecutors themselves; for though they imprisoned, whipped, and cut off ears, these have not only done so, and with the utmost aggravation, but banished and put to death, and in such a barbarous manner as aforesaid; and though they were tender and zealous once and pretended liberty of conscience, yet now being degenerated, and lost their first love, as they confess, and become hardened, they would not allow it to others; so that I may apply to them that verse as one once did:
This is the Presbyterian moon, which in the night was light,
Book III., chap. i., page 1.-“When Truth shall have liberty to speak, it will be known that Christianity was never more expressed unto the life, than in the lives of the persons that have been thus reproached among the legions of the accuser of the brethren.” Obs. This might much more truly have been said of, and applied to, the people of God, called Quakers, than of their persecutors who reproach them as heretics, &c., but “when Truth shall have liberty to speak," as he says, let him name the people in whom Christianity was ever more expressed, in all respects since the primitive times, than in the lives of the said people, of whom I may say, as one did in the vision of God, when his eyes were open seeing Israel abiding in his tents, “How goodly are thy tents, O Jacob, and thy tabernacles, O Israel!” And as Moses, “Happy art thou, O Israel: who is like unto thee, O people saved by the Lord?”
* Poor Widow's Mite.
Ibid., Chap. ii.-"Among the rest, that at the meeting of the Christians, a dog tied unto a candlestick drew away the light; whereupon they proceeded unto the most adulterous confusions in the world, as he says, a great man, in his writings, does affirm he had heard told more than once, with no small confidence, concerning the Puritans.” Obs. And by no more truth are many things now told by him and others with no small confidence concerning the Quakers, as anon, when I come to examine his stories of them, will more evidently appear.
Chap. i., page 5.—“The occasion upon which these retired into an horrid wilderness in America was, the violent persecution wherewith a prevailing party in the Church of England harassed them, deprived not only of their living, but also of their liberty to exercise their ministry." Obs. The horrid apostasy of these men to flee persecution, and yet turn the greatest persecutors themselves, next to the Papists; to seek new habitations for want of liberty, and yet deny it to others; though it is to be questioned whether the loss of their living was not a chief motive to some of them. For had it been truly liberty of conscience, though I doubt not but many of them were tender in those days, they could hardly have degenerated so soon as to have no regard towards others, and turn such bitter persecutors as they did; and, says he, “they were exposed to extreme sufferings, because they conscientiously dissented from the use of some things, in the worship of God which they accounted sins." Obs. That the sufferings of some in those days were hard and grievous, is not to be doubted, but pitied and lamented; but what were those to the sufferings that they inflicted on our Friends in New England ? I know none of them were put to death. If they whipped any as they did John Lilburn, the Presbyterians exceeded them, witness William Brend, Ann Coleman, and others; and if they cut off the ears of some, as Burton, Bastwick, and Prynne, they did not cut off their heads or hang them, as they did our Friends in New England; not that I would go to extenuate their sufferings or excuse their persecutors. I know they went too far, as Cotton Mather says of themselves, and suffered for it; but know not, but that the Presbyterians learned their cruelty and improved it, to use one of his own terms, but says he, ibid., “I leave it unto the consideration of mankind, whether this forbidding of such men to do their duty, were no ingredient of that iniquity which immediately upon the departure of these good men brought upon Great Britain, and especially upon the greatest authors of this persecution, a wrath unto the utmost in the ensuing desolation." Obs. And I leave it unto the consideration of mankind, whether the “forbidding of such men to do their duty," when the Lord sent them, but imprison, whip, cut off ears, banish, and at last put them to death, “were ingredient of that iniquity which immediately upon the departure of these good men brought upon Great Britain, ay, and New England too, a wrath unto the utmost in the ensuing desolations,” which he so much complains of; but to proceed with him, “such was the ruin which the ceremonious persecutors brought upon the most conscientious non-conformists unto their unscriptural ceremonies;" and at last on themselves, say I. But says he, “As the kingdom of darkness uses to be always at length overthrown by its own policy, so will be at last found no advantage unto that party in the Church of England, new as well as old, that the orders and actions by them thus produced become an history;" which will stand rather to their infamy than praise to future ages; for
Our martyrs of Jesus shall be
Chap. ii., page 11.—“I saw a fearful degeneracy creeping, I cannot say, but rushing in upon these churches, I saw to multiply continually our dangers of our losing no small points in our first faith as well as our first love." Obs. No wonder, as I said before, that they that go to stifle all further discovery and breaking forth of Truth should degenerate and grow worse and worse, for opposing more light is a token of apostasy, as in the Papists, so as to lose the faith as well as their first love, as those ancient churches did whose candlesticks were removed, as Increase Mather confesses many of yours have been: and if it was not so they could not turn such great enemies to Truth, and persecute it as you have döne; and so it will be, that you will lose and go backward till you turn to the Light of Christ, which you now hate, and believe in it, that the Lord may heal your backsliding.
Chap. ii., page 38.-Having related Priest Norton's death and mis-cited Friends' words in the representation as to the judgment of God on him, he tells of his book against the Quakers, called The Heart of New England Rent, and says, “ Perhaps it had been better if this had been all the confutation.” Perhaps so too, says 1; but it is a judgment on persecutors not to repent till it is too late; but if that dark confused discourse be all the confutation of the Quakers that they have, we need never fear their confutations rambling up and down and staggering to and fro like a drunken man, or as the blind that grope at noonday. See what else he says of the Light: page 16, “The light which is in every man that is born into the world is not Gospel light, the Gospel being the secret of God, a mystery unknown to angels,* and Adam himself in the time of innocency;' page 17, “this little light that there is, is much miscarried whilst it is managed by the reigning influence of the power of darkness;''t page 18, “this indeed is but darkness; but if compared with the light of the Gospel, it is worse than gross darkness;" I and cites as a proof, “Ye were darkness," – Eph. v. 8, as if, because they were darkness in their natural state, therefore the light that shineth in darkness, though the darkness comprehendeth it not, was darkness. Ibid. "They, Calvin, Beza, &c., are as far from affirming this light to be the light of life, as they are from denying Christ to be the light of life, and yet John says, “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. ... That was the true light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” This is his first chapter. His second pretends to be, by the contents, “ The Signal Nature of the Quakers,'' &c., but never mentions them in all the chapter besides, but roams up and down to no purpose; which in reading it brought to my mind a
• Contrary to Col. i. 26, 27.
story I have read of one Doria, the Admiral of Genoa, who, being to fight at sea against the Saracens, fetched such a compass about to gain the wind, that he never came to strike a stroke till the battle was over. In his third, page 40, he sets Christ as one of the objects that he pretends the Quakers “single out to fight against;' but, page 41, drops it, as not necessary to be spoken to, no doubt because he could produce nothing like a proof of it; and in the whole chapter, as well as most of the book besides, he is but “like one that beats the air” and sets up a man of straw, or like Thomas Hicks, a later adversary, makes a Quaker of his own, that he might the easier beat him down. And I would ask Cotton Mather whether he thinks the stories he tells of John of Leyden, Munster, &c., do any more concern the Quakers than the Presbyterians, or half so much, though the said Norton wickedly suggests, page 61, that they walked in the same steps, and that "from the same root, reason teacheth, if maturely prevented,* to expect the same fruits; and from the same principles, the same issues,” &c., when now, for above these fifty years that we have been a people, being not of the same principles, the most malicious of our adversaries, whatever they have suggested of our numbers, cannot pretend that we ever went to take up arms to destroy our enemies, or act such things as is reported of the others, which we abhor, whatever the Presbyterians have done. But I must not forget to tell the reader, that this book of John Norton's, called The Heart of New England Rent, was answered by F. Howgill in another, fitly entitled The Heart of New England Hardened, to which I refer the reader for further satisfaction, and shall not descend any further into it at present; nor should not thus far, if Cotton Mather had not given me this occasion, by calling it a confutation; yea, and saying, “It had been better if that had been all the confutation;" which is so little to the purpose, that I say we need never fear such confutations, “Which I add," says he, “because I will not, I cannot make myself a
* And so hang them for fear of what they would do, according to Priest Chauncey's comparison in the case of wolves as aforesaid; but who are most like wolves, any may judge.