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A PAMPHLET has recently made its appearance in this city, entitled “ The Sandy Foundation Shaken, &c. by Wm. Penn, to which are added, Extracts from the writings of divers of our primitive Friends on the Divinity of Christ, Atonement, the Scriptures, &c.;" the obvious intention of which, is to make it appear, that the worthy founders of the Society of Friends, concurred with the Socinians and modern Unitarians, in denying these important doctrines of the Christian religion.
It is now incontrovertibly established by the writings, as well as the public preaching of Elias Hicks, that he denies the miraculous conception, and the divinity of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; the virtue of that most satisfactory sacrifice for sin, which he made of himself upon the cross, without the gates of Jerusalem, and likewise the authenticity, genuineness, and authority of the Holy Scriptures of Truth. His adherents being no longer able to deny these charges, nor to screen him, by saying that he is misunderstood ; are now attempting to prove, that in thus rejecting some of the most important and precious doctrines of the Christian religion, he does no more than was done by the early Quakers.
This was a task not to be performed without much labour and contrivance-full and fair quotations would not answer their purpose, but prove the contrary of that which they wished to establish, and therefore the compilers of this pamphlet, have resorted to the disingenuous stratagem of mutilating, altering, and grossly perverting the language and obvious meaning of the authors, whose writings they quote. In the following pages we shall bring ample proof of the validity of these charges, and show that they have committed acts of great injustice towards those worthy men, whose names they have adduced, to sanction doctrines which they declared they never held nor owned. Our present remarks will be confined to the contradictions and misrepresentations contained in their preface.
It is a truth established by long experience, that not only a frequent recurrence, but also a firm adherence, to its original principles, is essentially necessary to the preservation of every religious society. But in order to realize the advantages of this important truth, it is absolutely necessary for the members of every such society, to be able to determine, what those ori.
ginal principles are ; and it is evident that for this purpose they must be in possession of some declaration which can inform them, what the peculiar points of belief or practice were, which formed the great terms of the compact into which their predecessors entered, and in which themselves have now become parties. Hence the obvious necessity, according to the maxim laid down by the authors of the preface, that every society should have its declaration of faith. Obvious however as this is, and indispensable as the authors have thus made it, they seem soon to bave forgotten, or else not perceiv- , ed their own admission; for immediately after, they assert that the Quakers rejected all creeds and confessions of faith. How then we would ask, do the authors determine, what those original principles are which they recommend us to recur to; or how do they ascertain, that Elias Hicks does not “ bold and propagate doctrines and opinions contrary to the doctrines and opinions of primitive Friends."
The word creed, signifies no more than a form of words, expressive of the belief of a person or society; and is synonymous with confession of faith. Every declaration whether oral or written, which contains any thing believed, is a creed; it is a confession of faith ; and consequently if, (as the authors assert) the early Quakers rejected all creeds and confessions of faith, it follows that they had no first principles or belief whatever. To recommend us, therefore, to recur to "original principles” and to assert that the doctrines of E. H. are coincident with those of the early Friends, and at the same time to deny that the early Friends had any principles or doctrines, is a palpable exhibit of absurdity and contradiction.
The authors assert, that the individuals composing the Society in its commencement, “bad become disgusted with the many palpable errors in faith and practice prevalent among religious professors.” Now if they withdrew from the communion of other religious professors, in consequence of their many errors in faith as well as practice, it must have been, because these errors in faith, were inconsistent with their own doctrines and belief; and the Quakers must have had some written declaration of their own faith, whereby they showed that they did not hold those errors. This then was their creed and confession of faith ; and how can the authors assert that they rejected all creeds and confessions of faith? Their own assertions mutually prove each other to be untrue.
The authors also tell us that“ they sought for, and embraced only, what they believed to be substantial truths, and the realities of religion.” How, we would ask, do they ascertain that the Quakers embraced substantial truths, or that they believed their doctrines to be the realities of religion, if they had re
jected all creeds and confessions of faith? Could the early Quakers have embraced or believed in any substantial truths, if they had rejected all belief? The sources whence the authors of the preface, derive the knowledge of those substantial truths, and realities of religion, which they say the Society of Friends embraced, are undoubtedly those writings in which they declare what they did believe ; and these are as certainly their confessions or declarations of faith.
Again, say the authors, “ a zealous adherence to their principles, and a faithful discharge of their religious duties, soon rendered them obnoxious to the derision and persecution of both priests and people." Now we can readily believe that the faithful discharge of religious duties, rendered them obnoxious to scorn and suffering; but we are at a loss to comprehend how the Quakers could zealously adhere to principles, when they had none; or how such an adherence, to principles of which the world could know nothing, (since they rejected all creeds and confessions of faith,) should render them obnoxious to derision and persecution.
If the Quakers confessed no belief-if they owned no creed, if they declared no particular faith, the world could not know that they had any. Such are the strange contradictions and absurdities, which these authors have run
themselves into, in their anxiety to apologize for the unbelief of Elias Hicks.
The authors are either ignorant of the history of the people, whose faith they pretend to give us; or what is still more culpable, wilfully misrepresent them ; when they assert, that they rejected all creeds and confessions of faith.
Not only individuals, but the society, has at different periods published to the world, full and ample confessions of their faith, on various important points of christian doctrine; some of which we shall notice.
In 1658, but a few years after the rise of the society, Richard Farnsworth, a distinguished minister, published a “ Confession and profession of faith in God, &c.” In 1668, William Penn, being imprisoned in the Tower, upon the charges of denying the divinity of Christ, and of being a Socinian, published a declaration of his faith in God, and in Jesus Christ our Lord, which is included in his “ Innocency with her Open Face, or an Apology for the Sandy Foundation Shaken;" a part of which, the compilers have inserted in their pamphlet. It begins thus : “ I sincerely own and unfeignedly believe,” &c. We would ask, is not this a creed or confession of faith?
the year 1671, George Fox wrote a declaration or confession of the faith of the Society of Friends, addressed to the Governor and Council, &c. of Barbadoes; in order to clear himself and his brethren, from the false accusation of those,