Reference > Cambridge History > The Age of Dryden > The Early Quakers > Early Attacks upon the Quakers, and their Replies
  James Nayler Samuel Fisher  

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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume VIII. The Age of Dryden.

IV. The Early Quakers.

§ 9. Early Attacks upon the Quakers, and their Replies.


The early quakers, like most Christian mystics, had no thought of setting themselves in opposition to fundamental orthodoxy as they understood it. But, inevitably, their constant appeal to the Light Within, and their consequent refusal to bow down to outward authority, brought them into fierce conflict with the religious teachers of their day, by most of whom the Bible had been erected into the final and only “rule” of faith and practice. And so, as they were compelled to defend themselves against attacks which condemned them, with indiscriminate violence as papists, heretics, atheists and blasphemers, the purpose of their writings became more and more directly theological. On both sides, it is to be feared,abuse counted for more than argument, and the oblivion into which these reams of printed matter have fallen cannot be said to have been undeserved.   24
  So early as 1656, John Bunyan attacked the quakers, without explicitly naming them, in Some Gospel Truths Opened, and was answered by Edward Burrough and George Fox. Thomas Hicks, the baptist, roused the wrath of Ellwood by his Dialogue between a Christian and a Quaker; and Richard Baxter, in his Quaker’s Catechism, complaining of their “violent and railing language,” denounced them as “abominable infidels,” “Pagans” and “a generation of the Devil.” In kindlier vein, Henry More the Cambridge Platonist, while admitting as “safe and reasonable” the principle of “the light within a man,” expressed his sorrow at their “uncouth and ridiculous” opinions, and was sorely grieved when his friend the learned and philosophical viscountess Conway (daughter of speaker Finch) joined herself to what he described as “the most melancholy sect that ever was in the world.” To all these, and many more, the quakers issued voluminous replies.  7    25

Note 7. In vol. I of E. Arber’s Term Catalogues, the titles are given of 44 books written against the quakers between the years 1671 and 1680. Joseph Smith’s Bibliotheca Anti-Quakeriana (1873), contains an alphabetical catalogue of many hundreds of these writings. George Fox’s The Great Mystery (1659) has replies to over one hundred attacks on the quakers. [ back ]

CONTENTS · VOLUME CONTENTS · INDEX OF ALL CHAPTERS · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD
  James Nayler Samuel Fisher  
 
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