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Historical texts  >  Primitive Christianity Revived, William Penn

Primitive Christianity Revived...

By William Penn.

From a reprint edition, including a Brief Memoir of Penn, by James M. Brown, 1857.

Title page | Contents

Primitive Christianity

in the faith and practice of the people called



in testimony to the present dispensation of God through them to the world;


prejudices may be removed, the simple informed, the well-inclined encouraged, and the truth and its innocent friends rightly represented.


William Penn


To which is prefixed a Memoir of Penn,

By James M. Brown,

of Virginia.

This reprint gives much of the Scripture which is referred to in the original.


Title page | Contents

Primitive Christianity Revived. By William Penn. 1696.

Penn's "Epistle to the 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...
§ 1. Their Fundamental Principle. § 2. The Nature of it. § 3. Called by several names. § 4. They refer all to this, as to Faith and Practice, Ministry and Worship.
§ 1. The evidence of Scripture for this Principle, John i. 4-9. In Him was life; and the life was the light of men. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. § 2. Its Divinity. § 3. All things created by it. § 4. What it is to Man as to Salvation.
§ 1. How this Scripture is wrested. § 2. That it is a Natural Light. § 3. That it lighteth not all. § 4. That it is only the Doctrine and Life of Christ when in the Flesh. All answered, and its Divinity and Universality proved.
§ 1. The virtue of the light within; it gives discerning. § 2. It manifests God. § 3. It gives life to the soul. § 4. It is the apostolic message. § 5. Objection answered about two lights. § 6. About natural and spiritual light: not two darknesses within, therefore, not two lights within. § 7. The Apostle John answers the objection fully : the light the same, 1 John ii. 8, 9. Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him, and in you; because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth. He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now.
§ 1. The Light the same with the Spirit. It is of God; proved by its properties. § 2. The properties of the Spirit compared with those of the Light. § 3. The Light and Grace flow from the same principle, proved by their agreeing properties. § 4. An objection answered. § 5. Difference in manifestation, or operation, especially in Gospel times, but not in principle, illustrated.
§ 1. An Objection answered: All are not Good, though all are lighted. § 2. Another Objection answered, That Gospel truths were known before Christ's Coming. § 3. Another: The Gentiles had the same Light, though not with those Advantages: Proved by Scripture.
§ 1. An Objection answered about the various Dispensations of God: The Principle the same. § 2. God's Work of a piece, and Truth the same under divers Shapes. § 3. The Reason of the Prevalency of Idolatry. § 4. The Quaker's Testimony the best Antidote against it, viz. Walking by a divine Principle in Man. § 5. It was God's End in all his Manifestations, that Man might be God's Image and Delight.
§ 1. The doctrines of satisfaction and justification owned and worded according to Scripture. § 2. What constructions we can't believe of them, and which is an abuse of them. § 3. Christ owned a Sacrifice and Mediator. § 4. Justification twofold, from the guilt of sin, and from the power and pollution of it. § 5. Exhortation to the reader upon the whole.
§ 1. A confession to Christ and his work, both in doing and suffering. § 2. That ought not to make void our belief and testimony of his inward and spiritual appearance in the soul. § 3. What our testimony is in the latter respect: that it is impossible to be saved by Christ without us, while we reject his work and power within us. § 4. The dispensation of grace, in its nature and extent. § 5. A further acknowledgment to the death and sufferings of Christ. § 6. The conclusion, showing our adversaries' unreasonableness.
§ 1. Of the true worship of God in what it stands. § 2. Of the true ministry, that it is by Inspiration. § 3. The Scripture plain in that case. § 4. Christ's ministers, true witnesses, they speak what they know, not by report. § 5. Christ's ministers preach freely; it is one of their marks. [§ 6. Of the sufficiency and glorious privilege of inward and spiritual teachings.]
§ 1. Against tithes. § 2. Against all swearing. § 3. Against war among Christians. § 4. Against the salutations of the times. § 5. And for plainness of speech. § 6. Against mixt marriages. § 7. And for plainness in apparel, &c. No sports and pastimes after the manner of this world. § 8. Of observing days. § 9. Of care of poor, peace and conversation.
A brief account of those things that are chiefly received and professed among us, the people called Quakers, according to the testimony of the Scriptures of truth, and the illumination of the Holy Ghost, which are the double and agreeing record of true religion. Published to inform the moderate inquirer, and reclaim the prejudiced to a better temper; which God grant, to his glory and their peace.
— William Penn, Thomas Story, Anthony Sharp, and George Rook. Dublin, 3d m. 1698.

A Brief Memoir of Penn, written by James M. Brown. 1857.

Acknowledgments and remarks.

To the public, but more especially to the followers of William Penn, George Fox, and Robert Barclay: If it be made a question why a member of the M. E. Church should interest himself so much as to reprint a work of William Penn's more than one hundred and fifty years after its first publication, and a short memoir of the man, let the answer be...

Chapter I.
An era of religious intolerance. William Penn, Sr., 1621-1670, named Commissioner of the Admiralty after the restoration of monarchy. William Penn the son born 1644; his early education and first encounters with Friends.
Chapter II.
Conflict between Penn the father and Penn the son. Further education and training. The son openly espouses the cause of the Quakers. What his father makes of it, upon reflection. Penn compared with Moses. Extracts of Penn's writings show his response to troubles and his religious temperment.
Chapter III.
The purchase of Pennsylvania. Penn's letter to the Indians, 1681. A new frame of government. The 'Exodus of the Quakers' to Pennsylvania.
Chapter IV.
Penn and the royal succession in England. James II overthrown in 1688. Penn accused of continuing to support him, and for many years is unable to travel to Pennsylvania. Trials and tribulations. Penn dies in 1718, having spent just a few years in Pennsylvania. Comments on his character and his accomplishments by Edmund Burke, Montesquieu, and Dr. Marsillac.
Chapter V.
"The Macaulay Charges"—a detailed response to charges made by TB Macaulay in his History of England, 1849, excerpted from Dixon's Life of Penn, 1851.

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1857, by

James M. Brown,

in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for the Western District of Virginia.

Stereotyped by L. Johnson and Co. Philadelphia.

William Penn's Primitive Christianity Revived is also available here in pdf format, to print out and read off-line, for study groups, etc. It's in three columns, on 25 pages including Penn's introductory epistle and the footnoted scriptural references from chapters I and II. At about 180k, the pdf document should be compatible with versions 3 and up of Adobe Acrobat and Acrobat Reader, the latter available for free for a variety of computer platforms (Windows, MacOS, Palm, Linux, etc.).