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The direction of this in my heart, was to friends in truth, in Chalfont, and thereaways, among whom my heart hath been greatly comforted and refreshed, who (fome of you) had some knowledge of my former great mifery and diftrefs, for want of the power and presence of the Lord, and are now witneffes with me of his tender mercy and great falvation; glory to him who fits on the throne, and to the Lamb whofe kingdom is exalted over all, who already reigns in righteoufnefs in the hearts of a remnant; who fit down, and find reft and peace, and true joy of heart, foul, and fpirit, under the shadow of his government, and cannot but fing and found forth praises, pure praises, honour, and dominion, and strength, to the name and arm which hath done the valiant acts, bringing fin, corruption, death, and the grave under, and bringing life and immortality to rule and have dominion over it; fo that he that is pure power and life, is felt tabernacling and living in his people, and he gives unto them to live in, and through, and with him; and they cannot but found praises to the power and glory of his life from day to day; glory in the highest to our God, and to his Chrift, for ever and ever, Amen, Hallelujah.
UER IE S
COMPULSION in RELIGION.
HETHER every man ought not to endeavour to be fully perfuaded in his own foul concerning the religion and worship which he performs and offers up to God?
Query 2. Whether, when a man is fully perfuaded concerning the religion and worship he ought to perform to God, whether he is not then bound in confcience fo to worship and ferve God, as he is fully perfuaded in his own foul?
Query 3. Whether, if a man fhould leave that way of religion and worship, whereof he is fully perfuaded in his own foul, and should worship according to the law and worship of the country wherein he lives, whether this would be accepted of the Lord, and whether his foul would not be in danger of the displeasure and wrath of the Lord therefore?
Query 4. Whether God hath given any man or men power, by laws and penalties, to compel men to worship him contrary to the belief of their hearts and the full perfuafions of their fouls? Is it not written, that whatfoever is not of faith is fin? And hath God given, any men power and authority to compel others to fin? Surely the end of magiftracy is to restrain men from fin, and not to compel men to fin.
Query 5. Whether under the law of Mofes, the worship was not first made manifeftly clear to mens hearts and confciences, and they fully perfuaded thereof; before they fuffered any penalties annexed for failing in it, or turning aside from it?
Query 6. Whether under the gofpel, Chrift or his apoftles did ever compel any by outward force to their way of worship, or give any rule for compulfion after their days. Did not they fay, they were not lords over mens faith, but that there was one Lord and Master, even Chrift, to whom every man was to give an account? Now if men fhould commend us for worshiping as they teach us, and by laws require of us contrary to the belief and full perfuafion of our own fouls, and Chrift condemn and punish us therefore, would it not go hard with us?
Query 7. Was it not the beast that compelled men to worship, and is he not branded therefore, Rev. xiii.? But could he by his laws and penalties compel any, whose names were written in the book of life, to his worship? others indeed he did compel, and cause to worship, as may be seen in that chapter.
Query 8. Is not Chrift's kingdom fpiritual? Are not the weapons of his warfare fpiritual? Are they not mighty through God, to convince and establish men in the truth, and in the way of the gofpel-worship? Would Christ have any people forced by outward compulfion, to ferve or worship him? Whofoever will, let him come, faith he; and his people are a willing people, and God loveth a chearful giver and a chearful worshipper. Is not compulfion a great argument against that church and miniftry that ufeth it, that they want the fpiritual weapons? That they want the authority and power of the true church and ministry, and so are fain to feek to fupply it by the authority and power of Man? For that which is of man, if it were not held up by man, would fall; but the truth will grow and increase, and that which is of God will ftand and out-live all the violence and oppofitions of men. And one thing is worthy of very serious confideration concerning this worship, which there is fuch ftriving to compel men to, which is this; what kind of persons they are that diffent from it, and what they are, for the generality, that fo cry it up. Are not many Are not many of them very loofe, prophane, fwearers, curfers, exceffive drinkers, yea fome of them Atheists? Is there not a ground of jealoufy at leaft, if not a strong argument, against that worship and way of religon which pleaseth these?
Can that which came from God, and is of God, please corrupt man? And who are they that diffent from, and dare not practife it? Are they not
men of tender confciences, and that fear to offend the Lord, and who feek after that religion and worship, wherein there is truth, life, virtue, and power? Now which of thefe are likelieft to know the truth, and to be taught of the Lord the true worship.
Oh! that these things were feriously confidered of; for though men were wicked and prophane themfelves, yet if they did not oppofe that which is good, but could fuffer others quietly to ferve and fear the Lord, neither their fin nor danger would be fo great.
Reading Goal, 19th of the 7th Month, 1670.
He that ruleth over men must be juft, ruling in the fear of God, now he that is juft and ruleth in the fear of God, cannot afflict or punish any for fearing God, or for worship which they perform to him in his fear. Shall not he that made the world, be worshipped by his children and fervants, according as he requires of them? But fhall the authorities of this world oppofe him therein, and with all their might ftop and hinder (as much as in them lies) his children and fervants from obeying him? Now the Lord God of heaven and earth (who is above all, and hath power over all) knoweth, that not in opposition to authority, but in the fear of his name, do we (who are called QUAKERS) meet together to worship him as he hath required of us; and that if we fhould not fo do, we should fin against him, and be guilty of rebellion against the King of kings, who is able to fave and deftroy body and foul for ever. And in this cafe it is that Christ hath bid us not fear him that can kill the body, and can go no further, but rather to fear him who can kill both body and foul, and caft them into hell. Oh! that the magiftrates of this nation were juft, ruling in the fear of God! could they then afflict those that fear him as they do, even fuch as are taught by him to love and pray for their enemies? Is not there work enough for the magiftrates fword against manifest wicked men, but it must still be turned against those that fear the Lord? Will ye provoke the Lord to the utmoft? Are ye ftronger than he? Will ye put it to the proof, whether he be able to deliver his people or no? Remember, the nations are but as the drop of a bucket, and as the fmall duft of the balance before him? What then is the wisdom and ftrength of one, two, three, or four nations, to his wisdom and
strength? This is written in our hearts, that God is to have his due, as well as Cafar his; and that God is to have his due in the first place, but Cæfar after God, and in subjection to God. But if there be an absolute ne
ceffity put upon us by men (which they ought not to do), either of difobeying God or Cæfar, we do really believe that queftion of fome of the apostles, in this cafe, to be very weighty, and worthy to be duly confidered, Acts iv. 19. Whether it be right in the fight of God, to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye (for we cannot but obey the Lord our God in what he hath required and doth require of us). And truly if we should fo do, great and dreadful woe would be upon our fouls, and we should lofe the enjoyment of God's presence, and the peace which paffeth all understanding; which we cannot but value above our eftates, liberties, or whatever outward thing we can enjoy or poffefs in this world, even above our very lives; yea, it were far better for every one of us to lose our lives in our faithful teftimony to the true worship of God in Spirit and truth, which he hath taught us, and required us to practife and give our teftimony to, than to be found unfaithful and difobedient to him herein.
Reading Goal, the 12th of the 7th Month, 1670.