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ample account of their belief concerning the Christian religion and the duties which it enjoins. But the Apology being more especially adapted, in some particulars, to the time in which it was written, and also requiring a very attentive examination of all its relations and dependencies, in order fully to comprehend the views of its author ; it is therefore a work which we have reason to believe is at this day not so frequently and deliberately resorted to as we could wish. Not only strangers to the society of Friends, but many of our young people, it is believed, might be benefitted by having a work more concise, and, as far as possible, adapted to the same purpose.Under these considerations I have attempted to give a summary of our profession. From the nature of the subjects which will be trea
ted upon, some reasonings may be expected ; but generally the plan will be to state the belief of the society, and to shew the correspondence of such belief with the meaning and doctrine of the holy Scriptures. The author will not be confined from occasionally entering upon controverted points, and that because he believes it will be unavoidable. The society of Friends are known to differ in their profession, in various particulars, from others; and in stating to others their doctrines and be. lief, he will necessarily have to shew, in some instances, the reasons for such difference. This will be done not with a view to oppose any class of Christan professors, but wholly in conformity with the nature of the task he has undertaken.
THE CHRISTIAN'S BELIEF.
THE society of Friends believe that the Messiah spoken of by the prophets, and expected by the Jews, did, in the fulness of time, appear; that Jesus Christ, the son of God, born of the virgin Mary, was and is this promised Messiah; the same concerning whom the four evangelists have given testimony, and who was crucified without the gates of Jerusalem, under the sentence of Pontius Pilate; and that he rose again, agreeably to the Scriptures. That he died for, and in consequence of the sins of mankind; that in his death was an offering for the sins of the whole world; and that he is the only mediator between God and man. They also believe in the necessity of obedience to his doctrines, as contained in the holy Scriptures; and that the holy Scriptures were written under the direction of the spirit of Christ, and can only be understood by those who live in obedience to the same.
Man is a free agent, and the means of salvation are universal.
Although we believe in the doctrine of free will, we by no means deny the decrees of the Almighty; but acknowledge that these are fixed and unalterable. As for instance, he has decreed that “ the natural man receiveth not the things of the spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him ; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” i Cor. i. 14.
That is, that no man can know the things of God but by the spirit of God. Our free will, therefore, we hold to be limited by capacity and by consequences; as in the case of Cain, who was assured, “ If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted; but if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door." Gen. iy. 7. Here it appears he was free to act, but subject to consequences. Such a freedom as this, we apprehend, is implied in the very nature of a command; because it is not rational to suppose a command should be given by infinite wisdom where there was not a capacity to obey. But the doctrines of the holy Scriptures are sufficiently clear that commands have been given.
Adam was commanded not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” Gen. jj. 17. Wheresoever, therefore, a bommand is given, there we may
fairly infer power to obey. Friends believe that the light which shines in every man, and which is offered to him during the day of his visitation, he