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PREFACE

TO THE AMERICAN EDITION.

It is near two centuries since the Society of Friends took their rise. In the beginning they were a plain sincere hearted people. "The bent and stress of their ministry (says William Penn) was conversion to God, regeneration and holiness; not schemes of doctrines and verbal creeds, or new forms of worship.” “They directed people to a principle, by which all that they asserted, preached, and exhorted others to, might be wrought in them, and known, through experience, to them to be true; which is a high and distinguishing mark of the truth of their ministry; both that they knew what they said, and were not afraid of coming to the test :” and while this principle was the rule of their lives, they were preserved in unity and harmony. But in process of time, about the year 1693, George Keith, a man of talents and learning, and who for several years had been a minister in the society, "giving way to a contentious spirit, endeavoured to lay waste what he himself had asssited to build up.” He “ let in an aspiring mind, aiming at pre-eminence among them, (his brethren,) which, when he could not attain, he transgressed the bounds, not only of Christian charity, but of common decency." "He charged 'T. F. and W. S. with preaching false doctrine, in setting forth the light of Christ to be sufficient for Salvation, and declared to T. F. that he himself did not believe the light was sufficient, without something else.” He further said, that although, of late, some of them say, they (Friends,) have a reverend esteem of

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