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moft unchriftian Language, and even Blafphemy it felf; as inclined all fober Perfons to believe, that they ought to be rather burnt, than confuted.
But the violent Heat of this Frenzy by Degrees abated; and the Profeffors of Quakerifm began to recover their Senfes, and to act like Men, tho' not like Chriftians. Then they endevored to justify their horrible Tenets by plaufible Arguments, and to gild over their impious Doctrines with pretences to Scripture authority for them.
At length Mr.William Penn, Mr.George Keith, and Mr. Robert Barclay arofe. Thefe dreffed up their Religion to the best Advantage. The Two laft efpecially endevored to refine Quakerifm; They joined their Studies and their Labors; They knew and improved each others Notions; and what Books they Published, either feparately or jointly, were received with great applause by their own Party.
About the fame Time, and alfo fince, there were and are diverfe other noted Quaker Writers: but I think thofe Three already mentioned by far the most confiderable Patrons of the Caufe; and I have fome reafon to affirm, that they have done it much greater Service, than all the rest of the fame Perfuafion.
Wherefore it cannot now be pretended, that the Disputes between our Selves and the Quakers are too mean for our ableft Champions to engage in. They have been managed on the Quaker fide by very fhrewd Perfons, and I may add, with great Dexterity. Why then fhould they be defpifed by thofe amongst our felves, to whom God has given the greatest Abilities? Certainly the Talents wherewith they are intrufted, ought to be carefully imployed, whenfoever occafion offers, in the Vindication of our Holy Religion, and for the Benefit of deluded Souls.
Since the Mifchiefs of Quakerifm are numberless, the Confideration of them ought to inflame the Zeal of All Spiritual Guides. Efpecially the most Learned are obliged to Lead the Way, and make a powerful Oppofition to that abominable Sect, which threatens Destruction to the Gospel of our Lord, by Sapping the very Foundations of
Nor can they fail of Brightning their own Reputation, by fuch a faithful Dif charge of (what I cannot but think) their indifpenfable Duty, both towards that God whofe Ambaffadors they are, and towards thofe Souls for whom they must give a strict Account at the Great day of our Savior's Appearance.
'Tis true, Quakerifm has been lately attackt; and diverse useful Books have within the Compass of a few Years been publifht against it. But yet it may be observed, that even thefe late Writers have generally dwelt upon fome abominable Paffages, which they have found in Quaker Books, especially fuch as are Ancient and Scarce. They have dif covered thofe Impious and Blafphemous AfSertions, which have been uttered in the Name of the Lord. And the Quakers have thereby been effectually expofed for fuch particulars, as (tho they are now very unwilling to own them, yet) they cannot either difprove or defend.
But still, in the midst of thefe Skirmishes, the Principal business has been neglected. For the avowed Doctrines of the Quakers, thofe which they univerfally profess, and never deny, and the feveral Arguments which they endevor to confirm them with, have been (generally Speaking) but slightly touched.
I confefs the Author of the Snake in the Grafs has given us many useful Hints upon thefe Heads. He has also written a particular Difcourfe concerning Water-Baptifm, wherein he has largely canvaffed that Point, propofing his own Arguments, and anfwering thofe of his Adverfaries. Mr. Norris has published Two Treatifes concerning
cerning the Divine Light. And Mr. Keith, to whom God has given a Sight of his former Errors, has examined the Quaker Tenets. Particularly he has returned an answer to Mr. Barclay's Apology, which is certainly the exacteft Piece, that ever was written in Defence of Quakerism.
But even thefe Authors have left room for Additions, and the Subject is still capable of improvement. Wherefore I have often wifhed, that those whom God has bleffed with much Leifure, found Judgment, and a thorough Acquaintance with the Scriptures, would proceed in the Confutation of Quakerifm, and especially of Mr. Barclay's Apology and other Works.
But I could never yet hear of any, that intended to bless the World with so useful a Book; and therefore I have determined to offer the following Papers (how imperfect foever they are) to public View.
I do not defpair, Iconfefs, of their being for the prefent in fome Small Measure ferviceable to the Church of Chrift; but I earnestly defire notwithstanding, that a better Performance upon the fame Subject, which very many of my Brethren are able to give us, may render them hereafter perfectly needlefs and fuperfluous.
I must add, that I am by no means Fond of Writing a large Volume; and therefore
I have endevored to fhorten thefe Controverfies, as much as 'twas poffible. To this end I have wholly omitted fome difputes which others may think Material. For inStance, I have faid nothing concerning the Payment of Tithes, the Lawfulness of Ta-: king an Oath, the Expreffions of outward. respect, faying You to a fingle Perfon, &c. But I do not find, that these matters do ever create any difficulty to thofe Perfons, who are convinced of the Falfhood of thofe Quaker Doctrines, which I hope I have fufficiently overthrown. And therefore I have not thought it neceffary to contend about them.
March 10. 170.