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CH A P. II.
1. Tle futility of some reserves in the former concef
fions. 2. The distinction concerning the Scriptures, which allows them only to be a Secondary and Inas dequate rule, exploded. 3. Mr. Phipps's remarks on Scripture and right reason considered. 4. It is pewn, that other people have a right to appeal unto the Spirit, as well as the Quakers. 5. It is very observable, that Barclay argues in a circle upon this fubje£t.
ERSONS of any measure of accurate oba
servation will take notice of the guarded expression “ a standard,” which is known to be carefully kept up by Quakers, in their religious controversies, and of Mr. Barclay's directly observing in the second propofition-." Yet it will not follow, that “ these divine revelations are to be subjected to the “ examination, either of the outward testimony of the “ Scriptures, or of the natural reason of man, as to
a more noble or certain rule or touchstone."
In the passage quoted from Barclay, in the former chapter, he allows, that all their doctrines and practices should be tried by the Scriptures as the judge and test: but here he insists on it, that their di“ vine,” inward “ revelations should not be subjected “ to the examination, either of the Scriptures, or “ the natural reason of man, as to a more noble “ or certain rule or touchstone." This is however an artful referve, as it is presumed, will afterwards appear, Supposing we admitted it, the question in debate then would be, Whether the mision of George Fox, and the immediate internal revelations, under the influence of which Barclay presumes he writes, and to wbicb bis Brethren pretend, be from the unerring Spirit of God or not ? Did we admit the affirmative, the controversy would be at an end, and we should efteem it wicked and inpious to oppose them: But we deny it; so did those, for whom the Apology was written, with a view either of filencing or con= vincing them. We must therefore bring George Fox's pretensions and Barclay's revelations to the test of Scripture, right reason, or our own fupposed internal influence of the Spirit, in order to examine into their validity; or else, fubmit our judgments and consciences to their grave and bold dictates. But who, that has any fear of God, any dread of being imposed upon in matters of the highest consequence, or any just apprehensions of the fatal tendency of enthufiaftic delusions, will ever do this?
Let the reader well observe the following quotations.
“ Inward revelations are not to be subjected to the 6 examination either of the outward testimony of the “ Scripture*, or the natural reason of man, as to a
more noble or certain rule or touchstone." Apol. Prop. II.
* Mr. Phipps adds, P. 3, “ As understood only by the unrecti"fied natural reason of man, is not to be preferred to the internal “ revelation of the Spirit.' However there are not Mr. Barclay's words here, nor is this merely his meaning. Then Mr. Phipps fure ther writes, “ This is what our author must oppose. if he would * refute Barclay.” But our author thinks nor himself under any obligations to answer all Mr. Phipps's additions and perversions. In the next place, Mr. P. charges him with “ ignorance, designed perverfion," with “ combating his own man of Jiraw, and with “jangling with his own misconceptions,” but with what politeness, liberality, good-nature, and religious fpirit, the reader is left to judge.--It will be proper to ask one question here, Does Mr. P. think himself and his party the infallible judges of a person's reafon, and that they can determine, with certainty, whether it be “ unrectified” or not? He may think so, but his opponent, with equal authority and argument, may think quite the contrary.
“ Robert Barclay's exception has no other reserve “ in it, than that which ought ever to be made, " and which it would be manifestly unjust not to “ make, a reservation of the right of the supreme “ author, from whom the Scriptures derive their “ whole authority and value." Mr. Phipps, P. 4.
“ Nor can we prefer the Scriptures to the inward “ illuminations of the Holy Spirit itself.” P. 14.
“ The Scriptures are and may be esteemed a re“ condary rule.” Apol. Prop. III.—“ Nevertheless, “ because they are only a declaration of the fountain, " and not the fountain itself; therefore they are not “ to be esteemed the principal ground of all truth “ and knowledge, nor yet the adequate, primary « rule of faith and manners.”
“ That the Scriptures are not sufficient, neither were ever appointed to be the adequate and only
rule, nor yet can guide or direct a Christian, in all “ those things which are needful for him to know, “ .we shall leave that to the next proposition to be ex-. 66 amined.” Apol. P. 39.
Now it may be justly said, that the distinction above asserted is the gordian knot of Quakerism. If this be once fairly untied, the chief difficulty with which they always puzzle their opponents will be removed ; the arguments they have tacked to it will lose their main hold, and their dangerous mistake about it be justly exposed.
But before, we attempt to untie this knot, it will be proper to observe, that the caution of Barclay approved by Mr. Phipps, against trying inward divine revelations by the test of the Scriptures, as by a more noble rule or standard, seems to be useless, if he means not to set them up above the meaning of a written revelation. He cannot be well misunderstood here, as he has afterwards called the Scripture a secondary rule. He appears also to have written this under a firın persuasion, that he himself, Fox, and his brethren, had most assuredly these inward divine revelations. Mr. Phipps likewise, evidently supposes the fame of himself, which appears from his contemptuous treatment of his opponent, as being unexperienced and not knowing or else denying the gift of God within him.
2. Let us now attend a little closely to the forementioned distinction.
If the true sense of the Scriptures be allowed to be the mind and will of the Holy Ghost, surely it is of the fame authority, with those divine manifestations which he may be supposed to grant to any now. Barclay's defender intimates as much when he observes to this purpose, P. 2. “ It is impossible that one “ degree of the Holy Spirit, should oppose another “ degree of the fame Spirit, unless it be divided « in itself." And he admits that P. 15.“ Barclay's « and his brethrens call, was not of the fame degree, “ though he will have it, of the fame nature, with " that of the Apostles.” By which, it is presumed, that he means to give the latter the pre-eminence. If fo, then upon his own principles, the true sense of the Scriptures, is a nobler rule of judgment, in religion, than their own pretended inward divine revelations, or, at least, not inferior to them, and therefore Barclay's caution and distinction, which contain in them a futile reserve, are needless, nay, improper and absurd.
There is more yet to be said against it.
Is the real nature of the Spirit to be known either by mere feelings or metaphysical speculations? If by the former, they must tell us what these feelings are like; or, if by the latter, they must produce these nice theories. It is not conceived however that they can find out his efence either of these ways. Supposing then, but not granting, that they are under the immediate influence and direction of the Holy Spirit, all they can feel or know of him
is the views, the sentiments, the affections, and the dispositions, he produces within them. But upon the, footing of their own distinction, these are only the streams, not the fountain ; the creature,
not the Creator ; productions, not the supreme Author,
They would perhaps fyllogize on their distinction, thus- We are sure that the Spirit is more noble than the Scriptures, his productions
We have the Spirit
Therefore we have a more noble rule in religion than they can be.
But if all they can be supposed to know of him, be his influences or productions, they cannot with any propriety thus reason. The major propofition will not apply, in the dispute between us, did we allow the minor (which we do not) and therefore the conclufion is falfe : Especially too, when Mr. Phipps admits of that “ they have not so great a measure of s the Spirit's influences as the Apostles had."
In every view then, with respect to the dispute between them and their antagonists, the distinction is a mere quibble, intirely useless, and answers no other end, but to perplex. They have no shadow of reason for using it in their controversies, unless they can prove to us they know by feeling or speculation, the real nature of the Spirit, or can point out to us, by some means or other, this his nature, as fuperior to his productions. We may therefore make the following syllogism in reply
That which is not known, felt or discerned in its real nature, cannot be a rule of action to any one, superior to its own influence, effects or productions
* An expression applied by Mr. Phipps to the Scriptures, P. 4. + Fox, however, pretended to nearly the fame. See the Third Chapter.