Ancient Testimony and Principles of the People called Quakers renewed



Ancient Testimony and Principles of the People called Quakers, renewed, with respect to the King and Government; and touching the Commotions now prevailing in these and other parts of AMERICA, addressed to the People in general.

A religious concern for our friends and fellow-subjects of every denomination, and, more especially, for those of all ranks, who, in the present commotions, are engaged in publick employments and stations, induces us earnestly to beseech every individual, in the most solemn manner, to consider the end and tendency of the measures they are promoting, and on the most impartial inquiry into the state of their minds, carefully to examine whether they are acting in the fear of God, and in conformity to the precepts and doctrine of our Lord Jesus Christ, whom we profess to believe in, and that, by him alone, we expect to be saved from our sins.

The calamities and afflictions which now surround us should, as we apprehend, affect every mind with the most awful consideration of the dispensations of Divine Providence to mankind, in general, in former ages, and that as the sins and iniquities of the people subjected them to grievous sufferings, the same causes still produce the like effects. The inhabitants of these Provinces were long signally favoured with peace and plenty. Have the returns of true thankfulness been generally manifest? Have integrity and godly simplicity been maintained, and religiously regarded? Hath a religious care to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly, been evident? Hath the precept of Christ, to do unto others as we would they should do unto us, been the governing rule of our conduct? Hath an upright, impartial desire to prevent the slavery and oppression of our fellow-men, and to restore them to their natural right, to true Christian liberty, been cherished and encouraged? Or have pride, wantonness, luxury, profaneness, a partial spirit, and forgetfulness of the goodness and mercies of God, become lamentably prevalent. Have we not, therefore, abundant occasion to break off from our sins by righteousness, and our iniquities by showing mercy to the poor; and with true contrition and abasement of soul, to humble ourselves, and supplicate the almighty Preserver


of men, to show favour, and to renew unto us a state of tranquillity and peace? It is our fervent desire that this may soon appear to be the pious resolution of the people in general, of all ranks and denominations; then may we have a well-grounded hope, that wisdom from above, which is pure, peaceable, and full of mercy and good fruits, will preside and govern in the deliberations of those who, in these perilous times, undertake the transaction of the most important publick affairs; and that, by their steady care and endeavours, constantly to act under the influences of this wisdom, those of inferior stations will be incited diligently to pursue those measures which make for peace, and tend to the reconciliation of contending parties, on principles dictated by the spirit of Christ, who "came not to destroy men' s lives, but to save them." Luke ix, 56. We are so fully assured that these principles are the most certain and effectual means of preventing the extreme misery and desolations of wars and bloodshed, that we are constrained to entreat all, who profess faith in Christ, to manifest that they really believe in him, and desire to obtain the blessings he pronounced to the makers of pence. Matthew, v, 9. His spirit ever leads to seek for, and improve every opportunity of promoting peace and reconciliation, and constantly to remember, that, as we really confide in him, he can, in his own time, change the hearts of all men in such manner, that the way to obtain it, hath been often opened, contrary to every human prospect and expectation.

May we, therefore, heartily and sincerely unite in supplications to the Father of Mercies, to grant the plentiful effusions of his spirit to all, and, in an especial manner, to those in superior stations, that they may, with sincerity, guard against and reject all such measures and councils as may increase and perpetuate the discord, animosities, and unhappy contentions, which now sorrowfully abound.

We cannot, but with distressed minds, beseech all such, in the most solemn and awful manner, to consider that, if by their acting and persisting in a proud, selfish spirit, and not regarding the dictates of true wisdom, such measures are pursued as tend to the shedding of innocent blood, in the day when they, and all men, shall appear at the judgment-seat of Christ, to receive a reward according to their works, they will be excluded from his favour, and their portion will be in everlasting misery. See Mat˙ xxv, 41; 2 Cor˙ v, 10. The peculiar evidence of Divine regard manifested to our ancestors, in the founding and settlement of these Provinces, we have often commemorated, and desire ever to remember with true thankfulness and reverent admiration.

When we consider, that at the time they were persecuted and subjected to severe sufferings, as a people unworthy the benefits of religious or civil society, the hearts of the kings and rulers, under whom they thus suffered, were inclined to grant them these fruitful countries, and intrusted them with charters of very extensive powers and privileges; that on their arrival here, the minds of the Natives were inclined to receive them with great hospitality and friendship, and to cede to them the most valuable part of their land on very easy terms; that while the principles of justice and mercy continued to preside, they were preserved in tranquillity and peace, free from the desolating calamities of war, and their endeavours were wonderfully blessed and prospered, so that the saying of the wisest of Kings, was signally verified to them, "When a man' s ways please the Lord, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him." Prov˙ xvi, 7.

The benefits, advantages, and favours, we have experienced by our dependence on, and connection with, the Kings and Government under which we have enjoyed this happy state, appear to demand from us the greatest circumspection, care, and constant endeavours to guard against every attempt to alter, or subvert, that dependance and connection.

The scenes lately presented to our view, and the prospect before us, we are sensible, are very distressing and discouraging; and though we lament that such amicable measures as have been proposed, both here, and in England, for the adjustment of the unhappy contests subsisting, have not yet been effectual; nevertheless, we should rejoice to observe the continuance of mutual peaceable endeavours for effecting a reconciliation, having grounds to hope that the Divine favour and blessing will attend them.


"It hath ever been our judgment and principle, since we were called to profess the light of Christ Jesus, manifested in our consciences unto this day, that the setting up and putting down Kings and Governments, is God' s peculiar prerogative, for causes best known to himself, and that it is not our business to have any hand or contrivance therein; nor to be busy bodies above our station, much less to plot and contrive the ruin or overturn of any of them, but to pray for the King and safety of our nation, and good of all men; that we may live a peaceable and quiet life, in all goodness and honesty, under the Government which God is pleased to set over us." — Ancient Testimony, 1696, in Sewell' s History.

May we, therefore, firmly unite in the abhorrence of all such writings and measures as evidence a desire and design to break off the happy connection we have hitherto enjoyed with the Kingdom of Great Britain, and our just and necessary subordination to the King, and those who are lawfully placed in authority under him; that thus the repeated solemn declarations made on this subject, in the Addresses sent to the King, on the behalf of the people of America in general, may be confirmed, and remain to be our firm and sincere intentions to observe and fulfil.

Signed in, and on behalf of, a meeting of the Representatives of our Religious Society, in Pennsylvania and New-Jersey, held at Philadelphia, the twentieth day of the first Month, 1776.