« PreviousContinue »
God; knoweth no man, but the spirit of God; 1 Cor. ii. 11. "A manifestation whereof, “ is: given to every man to profit withal.” 1 Cor. xii. 7. When we speak of revelation we mean this same divine Spirit; and we do not believe that'any man ever came to the knowledge of God without it. And as they who live in the spirit and walk in it, are in the unity and fela lowship of the truth, and enjoy that life by which the true knowledge of God is made 'manifest, so those who are enemies to the truth, though the light of it shine'in 'them, are in darka ness and spiritual death, and do not come to the light which is offered for their instruction, But in such is fulfilled what John the evangelist has written, “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds: were evil.” John iii. 19. It appears therefore that those who walk in the light, according to the Scriptures, are children of the light, and of the day. They are not merely traditional be." lievers in God, but have come to the living knowledge of him. We do not agree with. those who hold that when this divine life is witnessed or raised in the soul, such can never afterwards fall from the grace of God, because
We are satisfied that the Scriptures teach a dif. ferent doctrine. Paul was aware of the danger of falling from grace, « But I keep under my body and bring it into subjection, lest that by any means when I have preached to others, I myself should be a cast-away.” 1 Cor. ix, 27. Again, speaking to hiş son Timothy, he says, “ holding faith and a good conscience, which some having put away, concerning faith have made shipwreck.” 1 Tim. i. 19. Many other passages might be quoted agreeing with the foregoing, but what is already advanced may be sufficient.
CONCERNING THE SORIPTURES.
THE society of Friends do not agree with those professors of Christianity, who say the Scriptures are the word of God; but they are of the judgment that the testimonies of the holy Scriptures proceeded from, and were written under the guidance of the word or spirit of God: that they are as Paul expresses,“ Profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness." 2 Tim. iij.
16. But as they had an original spring or principle from whence they proceeded, so that principle we consider as the primary cause, and the holy Scriptures the effect. To that original principle which was before the Scriptures, we with John the evangelist, give the name of the Word, and not to the Scriptures. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John i. 1. There are important reasons for making this distinction ; some of which it may not be improper to mention. The Word of God as described by the evangelist John, we believe bas an universal influence, which cannot be admit. ted in relation to the Scriptures. But if the Scriptures are the alone means of salvation, then they must contradict themselves; because they testify that, “ a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the lamb, clothed with white robes and palms in their hands.” Rev. vii. 9. We cannot doubt but that of this great company there were many who had never read the Seriptures; but they were notwithstanding, clothed with the robes of righteousness. Hence we infer, that though the Scriptures are a great
blessing to us, yet they are not so much so as that Word or Spirit from whence they proceeded. But the Scriptures themselves cannot be understood, without the aid of the same spirit, by which they were at first written. We consequently believe that in the wisdom of God, many souls are instructed without the means of the Scriptures, by the immediate manifesta. tion of his own blessed spirit; if therefore we call the Scriptures the word of God, and say they are the only means of salvation; this would go to deny the doctrine which they contain, and exclude all those who cannot read them, from the possibility of salvation. The society of Friends observing these consequences, and finding that the spirit of truth is given to lead into all truth, and of course, out of all error, cannot join with those who after this manner depart from the doctrine of the Scriptures, but they on the contrary refuse to call the Scriptures by any other name than that which they claim for themselves..
« If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God. If any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth, that God in all things may be glorified.” 1 Peter iv. 11. Such ministry is not the effect of man's will or wisdom, but is the ministry of the spirit. Now the gospel dispensation, is a. spiritual dispensation, and all those who profess to be ministers of the gospel, if they are really such, have received a gift of the spirit. for that purpose. “And he gave some apostles, and some prophets, and some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying the body of Christ.”. Eph. xv. 12. We believe therefore that no human talents or learning can qualify a man without this gift, to be a gospel minister. And no one can be assured that he has this gift of the spirit for the work, of the ministry, but by the immediate. impression and evidence of the spirit itself. Nor can those among whom he labours know that the gift has been bestowed, unless they also have the evidence of the same spirit. The