It is as if there were some which came out of Babylon and out of captivity in some sort which nevertheless would not separate themselves from the filthiness of the heathen. For long custom had made it so familiar, easy, and sweet unto them, that they would not leave it: no not for the joy of the Lord. And some of these were priests and Levites, for ought we know. For they loved their heathen whores, I believe, and other filthiness which the heathens allow of almost as well as our spiritual priests and Levites, under the gospel of Christ, do their slaves. It is a very plain, parallel case, when neither the one nor the other will part with them: no not for the joy of the Lord. Then to be sure, not for the comfort and joy of their brethren and sisters, who have been in sore bondage and thralldom or captivity on that sinful hellish account—slave-keeping—for fifty years and more. And that by their brethren and sisters which keep them and will keep them, in spite of them, let them beg or pray or say or do what they can or will.
And all this while preach as their tender Friends do—who cannot touch with that sinful practice to gain the whole world. Profess the same pure Truth, gospel, unction, anointing, Urim and Thummim, measure of the Spirit. Pretend they have received the same manifestation and dispensation to preach as their innocent Friends, brethren, or sisters have.
And really to give them their due: they come very near them in words, from what I and some others can see. For we have observed them strictly as is our duty upon the Truth’s account, which suffers so much by them and their sinful practice, as well as their oppressed and greatly afflicted brethren and sisters.
I say these nocents come very near the innocents in words, except here and there they do stretch and strain, rest, part, pervert, misconstrue, and misapply Scripture to serve their covetous ends or to justify the practice or to extenuate the crime. If these things be done by them intentionally, we may say, without breach of charity: They shall receive the greater damnation; as Christ himself said in a case almost as bad. “But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation” (Matthew 23:13–14).