Letters on England eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 113 pages of information about Letters on England.
him, and shall publish the Gospel truths he may feel inwardly, such an one may be assured that he is inspired by the Lord.”  He then poured forth a numberless multitude of Scripture texts which proved, as he imagined, that there is no such thing as Christianity without an immediate revelation, and added these remarkable words:  “When thou movest one of thy limbs, is it moved by thy own power?  Certainly not; for this limb is often sensible to involuntary motions.  Consequently he who created thy body gives motion to this earthly tabernacle.  And are the several ideas of which thy soul receives the impression formed by thyself?  Much less are they, since these pour in upon thy mind whether thou wilt or no; consequently thou receivest thy ideas from Him who created thy soul.  But as He leaves thy affections at full liberty, He gives thy mind such ideas as thy affections may deserve; if thou livest in God, thou actest, thou thinkest in God.  After this thou needest only but open thine eyes to that light which enlightens all mankind, and it is then thou wilt perceive the truth, and make others perceive it.”  “Why, this,” said I, “is Malebranche’s doctrine to a tittle.”  “I am acquainted with thy Malebranche,” said he; “he had something of the Friend in him, but was not enough so.”  These are the most considerable particulars I learnt concerning the doctrine of the Quakers.  In my next letter I shall acquaint you with their history, which you will find more singular than their opinions.

LETTER III.—­ON THE QUAKERS

You have already heard that the Quakers date from Christ, who, according to them, was the first Quaker.  Religion, say these, was corrupted a little after His death, and remained in that state of corruption about sixteen hundred years.  But there were always a few Quakers concealed in the world, who carefully preserved the sacred fire, which was extinguished in all but themselves, until at last this light spread itself in England in 1642.

It was at the time when Great Britain was torn to pieces by the intestine wars which three or four sects had raised in the name of God, that one George Fox, born in Leicestershire, and son to a silk-weaver, took it into his head to preach, and, as he pretended, with all the requisites of a true apostle—­that is, without being able either to read or write.  He was about twenty-five years of age, irreproachable in his life and conduct, and a holy madman.  He was equipped in leather from head to foot, and travelled from one village to another, exclaiming against war and the clergy.  Had his invectives been levelled against the soldiery only he would have been safe enough, but he inveighed against ecclesiastics.  Fox was seized at Derby, and being carried before a justice of peace, he did not once offer to pull off his leathern hat, upon which an officer gave him a great box of the ear, and cried to him, “Don’t you know you are to appear uncovered before his worship?”

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Letters on England from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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