[b]Primitive Christianity Revived
in the faith and practice of the people called Quakers.[/b] [i]by William Penn[/i]. (1696)
BY this short ensuing treatise, thou wilt perceive the subject of it,viz.: The Light of Christ in Man, as the Manifestation of God's Love for Man's Happiness. Now, forasmuch as this is the peculiar testimony and characteristic of the people called Quakers,their great fundamental in religion,that by which they have been distinguished from other professors of Christianity in their time, and to which they refer all people about faith, worship, and practice both in their ministry and writings,that as the fingers shoot out of the hand, and the branches from the body of the tree, so true religion, in all the parts and articles of it, springs from this divine principle in man. And because the prejudices of some are very great against this people and their way; and that others, who love their seriousness and commend their good life, are yet, through mistakes, or want of inquiry, under jealousy of their unsoundness in some points of faith; and that there are not a few in all persuasions which desire earnestly to know and enjoy God in that sensible manner this people speak of, and who seem to long after a state of holiness and acceptance with God, but are under doubts and despondings of their attaining it, from the want they find in themselves of inward power to enable them, and are unacquainted with this efficacious agent which God hath given and appointed for their supply.
For these reasons and motives, know, reader, I have taken in hand to write this small tract of the nature and virtue of the light of Christ within man, and what and where it is, and for what end, and therein of the religion of the people called Quakers; ...
There are divers ways of speaking they have been led to use, by which they declare and express what this principle is, about which I think fit to precaution the reader-viz., they call it, [i]The light of Christ within man[/i], or, [i]light within[/i], which is their ancient, and most general and familiar phrase, also [i]the manifestation[/i] or [i]appearance of Christ[/i], the [i]witness of God[/i], the [i]seed of God[/i], the [i]seed of the kingdom, wisdom[/i], the [i]word in the heart[/i], the [i]grace that appears to all men[/i], the [i]spirit given to every man to profit with[/i], the [i]truth in the inward parts[/i], the [i]spiritual leaven that leavens the whole lump of man[/i]: which are many of them figurative expressions, ...
It is to this principle of Light, Life, and Grace, that this People refer all: for they say it is the great Agent in Religion; [i]that[/i], without which, there is no [i]Conviction[/i], so no [i]Conversion[/i], or [i]Regeneration[/i]; and consequently no entering into the Kingdom of God. That is to say, there can be no true sight of sin, nor sorrow for it, and therefore no forsaking or overcoming of it, or Remission or Justification from it. ...
... that the reason of so much [i]irreligion[/i] among Christians, so much [i]superstition[/i], instead of Devotion, and so much profession without enjoyment, and so little [i]Heart-reformation[/i], is, because people in religion, overlook this Principle, and leave it behind them.
They will be religious without it, and Christians [i]without[/i] it, though this be the only means of making them so indeed.
So natural is it to Man, in his degenerate state, to [i]prefer[/i] sacrifice before obedience, and to make prayers go for practice, and so flatter himself with hope, by ceremonial and bodily service, to excuse himself to God from the stricter discipline of this Principle in the soul, which leads Man to take up the Cross, deny self, and do that which God requires of him: and that is every man's true religion, and every such man is truly religious; that is, he is holy, humble, patient, meek, merciful, just, kind, and charitable; which they say, no man can make himself; but that this principle will make all men so that will embrace the [i]convictions and teachings of it[/i], being [i]the root of all true religion in man, and the good seed from whence all good fruits[/i] proceed. To sum up what they say upon the nature and virtue of it, as contents of that which follows, they declare that this principle is, first, [i]divine[/i]; secondly, [i]universal[/i]; thirdly, efficacious; in that it gives man, first, the knowledge of God and of himself, and therein a sight of his duty and disobedience to it. Secondly, [i]it begets a true sense and sorrow for sin[/i] in those that seriously regard the convictions of it. Thirdly, [i]it enables them to forsake sin, and sanctifies from it[/i]. Fourthly, [i]it applies God's mercies in Christ for the forgiveness of sins that are past, unto justification, upon such sincere repentance and obedience[/i]. Fifthly, [i]it gives to the faithful, perseverance unto a perfect man, and the assurance of blessedness, world without end.[/i]
To the truth of all which, they call in a threefold evidence: [i]First[/i], the Scriptures, which give an ample witness, especially those of the New and better Testament. [i]Secondly[/i], the reasonableness of it in itself. And [i]lastly[/i], a general experience, in great measure; but particularly, [i]their own[/i], made credible by the good fruits they have brought forth, and the answer God has given to their ministry: which, to impartial observers, have commended the principle, and gives me occasion to abstract their [i]history[/i], in divers particulars, for a conclusion to this little [i]treatise[/i]. ...
I SHALL begin with the evidence of the blessed Scriptures of Truth, for this divine principle, and that under the name of [i]light[/i], the first and most common word used by them, to express and denominate this principle by, as well as most apt and proper in this dark state of the world.
John i. 1. [i]In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God[/i],
Verse 3. [i]All things were made by him[/i].
Verse 4. [i]In him was life, and the life was the light of men[/i],
Verse 9. [i]That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world[/i]....
([i]Note: words in italics extant[/i])
[url=http://www.strecorsoc.org/penn/pcr_epistle.html]Primitive Christianity Revived[/url]