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TO THE

Justices of the Peace in the County of Sussex.

Certain person in your parts hath lately troubled

himself and the world with a book, entitled, An Account of Familism, as it is revived and propagated by the Quakers;' and this dedicated to Sir J. Covert, knight and baronet, &c. How ill he spent his time in writing it, and how unadvised he was in publishing it, an impartial perusal of this small dircourse will briefly, yet abundantly manifest.

I come not to you for protection, (a thing he and his cause wanted), but for impartiality and justice: truth is sufficient to patronize and defend her own cause from the lash of envy, without the weak auxiliaries of human force; she gives sanctuary to all that take to her for refuge, but is all-sufficient to her own relief from the deepest pressure, and most inveterate prosecutions of her implacable enemies. And though the evil disposition of the world to receive her apologies, seems to conspire with the indefatigable endeavours of her adversaries to traduce her; yet her own purest innocency and unwearied patience have ever in the end broke forth, to such a clear conviction of her opposers, as hath proved at once both their confutation and their shame.

And let it seem no riddle to you, that I write so assured of truth on our side. There is no objection our adversary has made to the contrary, which we shall not easily remove. Our meanness in quality, breeding, literature, and fortunes in the world, (badges of reproach with him) will receive an ample parallel from the best persons and times, and is so far from making to overthrow, that if the scripture and other story be to be credited, they tell us, - that not many

o wise, JUSTICES

• of virtue,' as Heathen Plutarch calls it, will afford you to judge us by.

It has been man's venturing to wade into the holy scriptures without this divine principle, that has caused so many fearful miscarriages about religion. Something in man prompts him to religion ; but man, being not wholly guided by that which so inspires him with religious desires, hastily spoils all with the intermixture of his own fancies and conceits : and because he is assured that what first inclined him was right, he sticks not to stile his own inventions orthodox; and then, im. patient of contradiction, with a fury as great as his ignorance, endeavours the overthrow of whatever stands in his way, and refuses to receive his mark in his forehead, or in his right hand. This has occafioned so much trumpery in religion; ceremonies, shew, and mere formality, have swallowed up the greatest part of it: now were men brought to God's heavenly gift in themselves, it would reclaim and leaven the mind, chain the affections, and bring religion into holy and self-denying living, and erect an holy regimen in the heart and soul, by which the heavenly image would be renewed, and man become as one born again ; without which translation, there can be no entering into God's heavenly kingdom.

This the first Protestants made to be the reason of their revolt from Rome: for though it is true, that they charged the Papists with making God's tradition (the holy scriptures) void by their numerous dark traditions; yet that which begot that holy loathing of Rome's superstitions, idolatries, and will-worship, was God's grace in their hearts; and their best argument against Rome's assaults was this, "The scripture, which I believe from the testimony of the Spirit of God in

me, and which I can only understand from the illu• mination thereof, owns no such thing, and therefore I reject it.'

Such as converse with Luther and his followers, Zuinglius and his followers, will find this to have been the foundation of their whole work. And our

own

own martyrology is full to our purpose, particularly Tindal, Tims, and Philpot.

I omit to mention a whole cloud of witnesses, because I intend not to dwell here; only this I would be at, and I entreat you all to weigh it, whether any thing can give to understand aright, and enable to practise thole things of God, which it is necessary for man both to know and do, but God's light, grace, or word in the heart : what else can give us to relish the divine authority of the scriptures themselves, or to believe the things therein treated of to be undeniable truths ? Indeed, the want of this has been a great occasion of Atheism; man making, practising, and enacting that for religion, of which people have had no afsurance in themselves: but if they should speak their hearts, it is more probable they do not believe it; but instead thereof deride it, and so, under a shew of religion, live as men without God in the world.

To prevent which, and to bring men to the true understanding of what God expects from them, in order to that great account they are to give unto him at the revelation of his righteous judgments, “ when “ he will judge the secrets of all men by Jesus Chrift," we do exhort all to Christ's pure, unerring light in the conscience, (John viii. 12. 1 John i. 5, 6, 7.) which is fufficient to daily understanding and duty; that what they believe and profefs in matters of to high importance, they may be convinced in their very conscience, by the good understanding the inspiration of the Almighty gives, of the truth and rieceflity thereof; and not suffer themselves to be carried away with the torrent of fathers, councils, fynods, doctors, scholars, national constitutions, &c. (big, and most times untrue, and too often tit.pay word.) without that inward conviction and teftimony of God's good Spirit in your own consciences; the old proteftans, and only primitive ground of true faith and obedience.

I know, and shall always acknowiecge, that in the time of ignorance the Almighty winked, ard that in every age he has exprefiti his regard to those under Vol. III. H

the

the various forms of religion ever in the world, who have been sincere-hearted, and of sober and conscientious conversation : but I must also tell you, that by how much the more needless and unwarrantable cultoms, will-worship, and human religion built upon the dark and uncertain conjectures of men, are receded from, and the minds of people engaged in a diligent attendance upon that divine principle which only can clear up their understandings, and give them an experimental knowledge of the true God, and that way of worship and service which may be most acceptable with him, by so much more certain will they be of the truth of their religion; inasmuch as they have, over and above all external record, the assurance of unquestionable convictions in their own consciences.

Thus God, who made heaven and earth, knows, we came to receive that knowledge of him, which we now expose ourselves to all hardships to maintain.

We professed God; but, like our neighbours, in works we denied him. We worshipped him after man's conceivings; infomuch that I may say, we worshipped the unknown God in a false way. No doubt but we were stocked with the common talk of religion ; but " the cross of Christ we were strangers to.'

His blood we extolled, whilst by wicked works we trod • it under foot ;' and believed ourselves faved by it, ( who were uncleansed from sin. The whole end of his coming we esteemed the top of all love; but • never knew enough of it, truly kindled in our hearts, whereby to work such faith and resignation as could

give us victory over the world. Thus were we, Jews-like, children of God, ' whilst we crucified the i Son of God;' and of the seed of Abraham, whilft

the serpent's feed reigned ;' heirs of the kingdom, yet not born again ;' free, yet the bondslaves of vanity.' O! at this time of day it was that God found us out, and broke in upon our fouls with his righteous judgments for sin, and laid judgment to the line, and righteousness to the plummet, within us; the book of conscience was opened, and great fear

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