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system, and comparing it with the practice of the world, it appeared to them like the renovation of the primitive Christian system upon earth. It approached also in their opinion, like the latter, the nearest to the letter and spirit of the new Covenant. When ushered into the world by them, it was followed, considering the severity of its discipline, by an almost miraculous proselytism. Priests, magistrates, and people left their religion in great numbers, many of the former giving up valuable livings, to support it. They too, who thus espoused it, were ready, like the apostles of old, to stamp the sincerity of their conversion by martyrdom. From these and other considerations, the early Quakers looked upon the system in question in the light now mentioned; and hence it was that they spoke with an authority which might have the appearance
of arrogance with others. Much about this time a person of the name of Jonathan Clapham published “A Guide to the True Religion.” His object, as there stated, was to assist persons in making a proper choice of their faith. For this purpose he drew up a number of articles, D 2 which
which he considered to compose the true Christian creed. Those who embraced other articles, he pronounced to be incapable of salvation, but particularly the Papists, Socinians, and Quakers; the last of whom he treated with the most severity. This publication happened to fall into the hands of William Penn. It set him as it were on fire, and he brought out almost immediately “ The Guide mistaken.” This book contained four chapters. In the first he attempted to confute the Guide's system of religion ; in the second, he reprehended his. aspersions; in the third, he laboured to detect his hypocrisy; and in the fourth, he compared his contradictions.
“The Guide mistaken” had not been out long, when a circumstance happened, which, as far as William Penn was concerned, led to a most disagreeable result, the parti*culars of which I must now expiain. Two persons belonging to a Presbyterian congregation in Spital-Fields went one day to the meeting-house of the Quakers, merely to learn what their religious doctrines were. It happened that they were converted there. This news being carried to Thomas Vincent,
their pastor, it so stirred him up, that he not only used his influence to prevent the converts in question from attending there again, but he decried the doctrines of the Quakers as damnable, and said many unhandsome things concerning them. This slander having gone abroad, William Penn, accompanied by George Whitehead, an eminent minister among the Quakers, who had already written twenty-nine pamphlets in their defence, went to Vincent, and demanded an opportunity of defending their principles publicly. This, after a good deal of demur, was agreed to. The Presbyterian meeting-house was fixed upon for this purpose, and the day and hour appointed also. When the time came, the Quakers presented themselves at the door; but Vincent, to insure a majority on his side, had filled a great part of the meeting-house with his own hearers, so that there was, but little room for them. Penn however and Whitehead, with a few others of the society, pushed their way in. They had scarcely done this, when they heard it proclaimed aloud, “that the Quakers held damnable doctrines.” Immediately upon this White- head
head showed himself. He began, in answer to the charge, to explain aloud what the. principles of the society really were ; but here Vincent interrupted him, contending that it would be a better way of proceeding, for himself to examine the Quakers as to their own creed. He then put a proposal to this effect to the auditors. They agreed to it, and their voice was law.
Vincent, having carried his point, began by asking the Quakers, “ Whether they owned one Godhead subsisting in three distinct and separate persons.” Penn and his friend Whitehead, both asserted that this, delivered as it was by Vincent, was no scriptural doctrine. Vincent, in reply, formed a syllogism upon the words ? There are three, that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, and these three are one," and deduced from them the doctrine of three separate subsistences and yet of but one Deity. Whitehead immediately rejected the term “subsistence," as no where to be found in the Scriptures, and demanded that their opponents should explain it, as God did not wrap up his truths in heathenish metaphysics, but deliver them
in plain language. Upon this several attempted an explanation: but the sum of all their answers was, that subsistence meant either person or the mode of a substance. To these substitutes William Penn and Whitehead both objected. They urged many texts from Scripture in behalf of their objection; and having done this, they begged leave to ask Vincent one question in their turn, namely," whether God was to be understood in an abstractive sense from his substance:" but the auditors pronounced this to be a point more fit for admiration than dispute. · It will not be necessary to detail the argu. ments brought forward in this controversy, in which much was said but nothing settled. It will be proper however to say something of the manner in which it was conducted, as well as of the result of it. While the debate was going on, great intemperance was betrayed on the part of several of the Presbyterians. They laughed, hissed, and stigmatized the Quakers by various opprobrious names, of which that of Jesuit was exclusively bestowed upon William Penn. On an answer which George Whitehead