There has been that has reflected on me: as if I wanted a party and to see what numbers I could get on my side. The living Lord God Almighty is witness for me that I desire no party, no number but what is on the Lord’s side and his party, which hold the blessed Truth in righteousness and holiness of Life indeed and in Truth. I must confess I rather choose that number, though but five, than 500 that hold the truth in unrighteousness and in unholiness. And though I could get the friendship of the world and worldly spirits, even them amongst ourselves and all their wealth beside—which is gotten by the iniquity of slave-keeping or otherwise—my witness is in Heaven.
But I must expect a great many more slanders than these. Nevertheless, I may say as it is written of slave-keeping ministers:
Unto the wicked God saith,(Psalm 50:16, 18, to the end)
What hast thou to do to declare my statutes,
or that thou shouldst take my covenant in thy mouth?
When thou sawest a thief, then thou consentedst with him,
and hast been partaker with adulterers.
Is not this very applicable to men-stealers and receivers?
But my dear Friends, as to my own part, if the Lord have stirred you up against me, let him accept of an offering. But if it be only men, I don’t fear in the least; but my dearest God, whom I serve with pure Love fervently, will deliver me, and in his own blessed time establish me in my inheritance with saints in Light. O that the Lord my God would be pleased to raise up some worthies that be valiant for the Truth upon earth, and bring them forth into open view, in sight of all men, for his name’s sake, which is the Truth (Hebrews 11:33–34).
O that we may never sell our birthright for a morsel of meat or any advantage of this beggarly world. For Truth said of old, and saith the same now, He that will not forsake all is not worthy of me: all for my sake deny himself, take up the Cross, and follow me.
Doth Truth lead its ministers to keep their fellow creatures in bondage and sore captivity and their off-spring for evermore? If it does not, but the practice be proved by the blessed Truth itself to be contrary and directly opposite to its divine nature: as to be sure it is. Why, I pray and beseech you my dear Friends, are some that seem to be Truth’s ministers so angry, in a rage, and such a fury—as many have been and are to my knowledge—when they have been reproved for, or opposed in this their wicked Sin, and very great Iniquity? For so it is proved by Truth itself: Do to all others, as you would they should do unto you. Truth saith, Whosoever is angry with his brother, without just cause, is in danger of judgment. But who dare judge a minister? He will be in such a fury if he is not true or [you] reprove him, although he pretend to be a servant in the church to us all.
I know what I write by large experience for many years in several nations where my lot hath been cast. So that I am not as one that beats the air in this cause, as concerning false Ministers. But as to Truth’s minister—that always dwells in Truth and follows Truth wheresoever he goes—Truth bears witness in me that I love them and the pure, dear, sweet testimony Truth hath given us better than all things in this vain world. Now as concerning offerers, Truth saith, If thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee, leave thy gift at or before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then, not before, come and offer thy gift.
O that these things were well considered by all preachers and hearers; and that no preacher might be suffered to appear in our Meetings but such as were clear of this sinful practice slave-keeping as well as all others. Then we should have but few preachers for a time, I think, but much better preaching. Dear Friends, I myself do consider how it stands and what I may have to encounter with, but shall leave all to my dear sweet and forever blessed Ebenezer, which hath hitherto helped, blessed be his holy name: says Benjamin Lay.
Is it not the church’s prerogative to judge of the ministry and ministers, and to call them to strict account concerning their doctrine, principles, practices, and manner of living?