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Spirit of God; when these things were foolishness unto them, because they are spiritually discerned.
This doubtless is also the experience of some at this day; who, though they may even have possessed the advantages conferred by a guarded religious education in the Society of Friends, may yet not fully apprehend its reasons for the adoption of all its testimonies; and may therefore at times be induced to make within themselves the enquiry, “ What is truth: and what does truth comprehend ?”
To such, if such there be within our borders, the brief reply may be given, that it embraces a true belief in God; living faith in Christ His Son, our Lord and Saviour who died upon the cross for every man; and not only in all that He did for us outwardly, but in all that He is willing to do for each of us inwardly, through the operation and guidance of the Holy Spirit. This true and living faith, by the power of Divine Grace, will produce a real change of heart; a state of continual watchfulness and prayer; an upright bearing of the daily cross; a willingness to follow the Lamb whithersoever He may lead. They who thus submit their souls to God, shall know of the doctrine of His Son; for His Spirit shall teach them what it is : and as obedience keeps pace with knowledge, they will be led forward step by step even into all truth, and shall know the truth to make them free. Firmly believing the written revelation of the will of God contained in the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, such was the doctrine, and in an eminent degree the blessed experience, into which many of the early Friends were led. May it be ours also, through faithfulness. If it were, there would be no unfruitfulness among us; no placing an undue value upon the things of this life; no assimilation to the children of this world, either in conversation or in conduct: but our treasure being in heaven, our hearts would be there also, and our life would be hid with Christ in God. Faithful in the little we should be made rulers over more; until each member of the body, filling his appointed place, should grow up into Him in all things which is the Head, even Christ Jesus.
Though in the reading of the following Memoirs, the grounds upon which Friends have maintained their Christian testimonies, now for upwards of two centuries, may become more or less evident, we may here notice a few of the important subjects, the inconsistency of which with the Gospel, is not generally apparent to our fellow-christians of other denominations. So strong is the bias of education and circumstances, that many, even in the “reformed churches,” continue in the use of what are termed “ordinances,” and in the practice of what is of a ceremonial character in their worship. All the Lord's children do not see alike as respects war, oaths, tithes, and other ecclesiastical imposts, which we regard as out of harmony with Christianity. Others do not expect, (and thus in a large degree deprive themselves of,) the inestimable privilege of immediate divine guidance: and not keeping in view the apostolic declaration, that “they
who are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God," know not fully the meaning of the language, “I will guide thee with mine eye.” Such will stand or fall to their own Master; let us remember our own responsibilities; for to whom much is given, of them will much be required.
We may also briefly allude to one or two circumstances characteristic of the proceedings of the early Friends and of the times in which they lived, which are only incidentally mentioned, or otherwise but slightly touched upon, in the narratives included in the present volume.
As respects their practice occasionally to enter the places of public worship belonging to religious professors of other persuasions and there to speak, it must be borne in mind that this was not unusual among others beside Friends, under the Protectorate of Cromwell, the time during which the majority of the instances left on record took place. The national buildings for religious worship were then to a large extent in possession of the Presbyterians and Independents; and some of the Friends who esteemed it to be their duty so to do, had been members of these very congregations, and continued to be subjected to severe pecuniary fines, and hard imprisonments, for refusing to assemble with them. They did not, however, in general interrupt the ordinary course of the worship; but almost invariably waited until its conclusion, and then asked permission before they addressed the audience.
The quaintness of the language used by some of them, must likewise be attributed in a great degree to the style of that day, when Old Testament Scripture phraseology, so remarkably pervaded the Court, the Camp, the Parliament, and People. Many of these Friends had been Puritans; and it was to be expected that some time would elapse, before they could cast aside a mode of speech which had become habitual.
In conclusion we would remark, that in preparing the present work for the press, we have not desired to exalt those whose memories