record of divine power and goodness, but did not consider a knowledge of it essential to salvation; for he supposed that a Hindoo or an African, who never heard of the Scriptures, or of Christ
, might become truly a child of God, if he humbly and sincerely followed the divine light within, given to every human soul, according to the measure of its faithfulness.
Many of his brethren, whose views assimilated more with orthodox opinions, accused him of having departed from the principles of early Friends.
But his predecessors had been guided only by the light within; and he followed the same guide, without deciding beforehand precisely how far it might lead him. This principle, if sincerely adopted and consistently applied, would obviously lead to large and liberal results, sufficient for the progressive growth of all coming ages.
It was so generally admitted to be the one definite bond of union among early Friends, that the right of Elias Hicks
to utter his own convictions, whether they were in accordance with others or not, would probably never have been questioned, if some influential members of the Society had not assumed more power than was delegated to them; thereby constituting themselves a kind of ecclesiastical tribunal.
It is the nature of such authority to seek enlargement of its boundaries, by encroaching more and more on individual freedom.