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P R E F A C E
SINCE first that great apostacy took place in the hearts and heads of those who began, even in the apostles days, to depart from the fimplicity and purity of the gospel, as it was then delivered in its primitive splendour and integrity, innumerable have been the manifold inventions and traditions, the different and various notions and opinions, wherewith man, by giving way to the vain and airy imaginations of his own unstable mind, hath burthened the Christian faith : so that indeed, first by adding these things, and afterwards by equalling them, if not exalting them above the Truth, they have at last come to be substitute in the stead of it; fo that in process of time Truth came to be shut out of doors, and another thing placed in the room thereof, having a fhew and name, but wanting the substance and thing itself. Neverthe
less, it pleased God to raise up witnesses for himself almost in every age and generation, who, according to the discoveries they received, bore some testimony, less or more, against the fuperftition and apostacy of the time. And in a special manner, through the appearing of that light which first broke forth in Germany, about one hundred and fifty years ago, and afterwards reached divers other nations, the beast received a deadly wound ; and a very great number did at one time protest against, and rescind from, the church of Rome, in divers of her moft gross and sensual doctrines, and fuperstitious traditions. But alas! it is for matter of lamentation, that the fucceffors of these Protestants are establishing, and building up in themselves, that which their fathers were pulling down; instead of prosecuting and going on with so good and honourable a work : which will thus easily appear.
The generality of all Protestants, though in many other things miferably rent and shattered among themselves, do agree in dividing from the church of Rome in these two particulars :
First, That every principle and doctrine of the Christian faith is, and ought to be, founded upon the scripture; and that whatsoever priņciples or doctrines are not only not contrary, but even not according thereto, ought to be denied as antichristian.
Secondly, That the scriptures themselves are plain and easy to be understood; and that every private Christian and member of the church ought to read and peruse them, that they may know their faith and belief founded upon them; and receive them for that cause alone, and not because any church or afsembly has compounded and 'recommended them; the choicest and most pure of which they are obliged to look upon as fallible.
Now, contrary to this their known and acknowledged principle, they do most vigoroully prosecute and persecute others, with the like severity the papists did their fathers, for believing things that are plainly set down in the scriptures; and for not believing divers principles, for which themselves are forced to recur to tradition, and can by no means prove from scripturé : to fhew which I shall not here infilt, having allotted a chapter for it in the book itself; because to put it here, would swell it beyond the bounds of a preface.
Oh! how like do they shew themselves, I mention it with regret, to the scribes and pharisees of old, who, of all men, moft cried up and exalted Mofes and the prophets, boasting greatly of their being
Abraham's children? And yet those were they that were the greatest opposers and vilifiers of Christ, to whom Moses and all the prophets gave witness; yea, their chief accusations and exceptions against Chrift, were, as being a breaker of the law, and a blafphemer.
Can there any comparison run more parallel; seeing there is now found a people, who are greatly persecuted, and bitterly reviled, and accused as heretics, by a generation that cry up and exalt the scriptures ? And yet this people's principles are found in scripture, word by word; though the most grievous, and indeed the greatest calumny cast upon them is, that they vilify and deny the scriptures, and set up their own imaginations instead of them.
To disprove which, this catechism and confession of faith is compiled, and presented to thy serious and impartial view. If thou lovest the scripture indeed, and desirest to hold the plain doctrines there delivered, and not those strained and far-fetched confequences, which men have invented, thou Ahalt easily observe the whole principles of the people called Quakers, plainly couched in scripture words, without addition or commentary, especially in those things their adversaries oppose them in, where the scripture plainly decideth the controversy