The volume [of Fisher's collected works] contains nearly a thousand closely-printed pages, and the contents are clothed in a redundancy of language, lavish even for the long-winded seventeenth century. Laborious and sadly involved sentences, pages bristling with parentheses, and a woeful economy in full stops, make the long paragraphs "heavy travelling" for a twentieth-century reader. So much must be frankly confessed, and it is therefore evident that "wise oblivion" must play its part in any resuscitation of Fisher's writing. But, despite these defects of style, there is much to interest the student of theology in the old pages. Vigorous conviction pulses through the often uncouth phraseology, and little as modern taste may relish the acrimonious controversy of Fisher's time we can at least do justice to the sincerity which prompted its expression.-- EMILY J. HART, "Paper on Samuel Fisher" in the Young Friends' Review ( May 1906), p. 193.
WHEN Fox was released from Launceston in September 1656 he was moved of the Lord to travel through the country in order to answer the objections of envious Puritans against Friends.1 Hitherto the ardent First Publishers of Truth had been most often the attacking force, but their success had roused their opponents into fierce hostility, while Nayler's extravagances were causing their central message to be looked upon with suspicion. Fox and his followers were called upon to justify their position, and their answers give us an insight into the religious outlook of Quakerism at a time when its new wine was still bursting the bottles of Calvinism.
Friends had attacked the ministers of the Puritan sects as false prophets and Antichrists. They had published a flood of controversial literature upon the subject. For example, Fox, in 1653, had issued his____________________