Page images

as if the Spirit of God led man at any time to that which is evil in itself; or that it were possible to be sinless in the commission of sin, as murder, theft, adultery, revenge, &c. For that never was, nor can be, the way and method of God's Spirit, which is pure and holy for ever; and brings all, that regard the convictions and motions of it, into a sense and sorrow for sin, and so leads them into a state of reformation; without which, all profession of religion is mere formality and hypocrisy. So that man's sin and destruction are of himself; but his help is in God alone, through Jesus Christ, our blessed Sacrifice and Sanctifier.


Of Infallibility and Perfection.

Pervers. 5. The Quakers must be all infallible and perfect, if they have such an infallible light in them.'

Principle. No such matter: this is also a great abuse of their true meaning. They say, 'the principle is pure, perfect, unerrable in itself; or else it were very unfit to lead men out of error and impurity.' But they never did assert themselves such, merely because it was within them: by no means. But that all who are led by it, and live according to its manifestation, are so far perfect; and so far infallible in the right way, as they are led by it, and not a jot farther. For it is not opinion, or speculation, or notions, of what is true;* or assent to, or the subscription of, 'articles or propositions, though never so soundly worded, that according to their sense, makes a man a true believer, or a true Christian: but it is a conformity of mind and practice to the will of God, in all holiness of conversation, according to the dictates of this divine principle of light and life in the soul, which denotes a person truly a child of God. "For the children of God are led by the Spirit of God; but if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his." And let it be noted, that though this spiritual principle be in man, yet, it is not of man, but of God, through Jesus Christ. Who can lay down a more independent doctrine upon self, and a more depending one upon the grace or gift of God? Let us not, I pray, be mistaken, nor suffer such misapprehensions, nor be made to hold what we do not, on purpose to disrepute us with sober people, or to support the mistaken charges of our enemies. Yet to show that a state of perfection from sin (though not in fulness of wisdom and glory) is attainable in; they,

Rom. viii. 4.

Rom. viii. 9: 14.

among others, refer them to these scriptures, which, for brevity's sake, are not set down at large, but the reader is desired to turn to them.

Gen. xvii. 1. Deut. xviii. 13.

viii. 20.

Job i. 1. 8. ch. ii. 3, &c. Psal. xviii. 32.; xxxvii. 37. and cxix. 1. Prov.

fi. 21. Mat. v. 48. Luke vi. 40. 1 Cor. ii. 6. 2 Cor.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

Of the Scriptures, their truth, authority, and service.

Pervers. 6. The Quakers deny the scriptures; for they deny them to be the word of God.'

Principle. They own and style the scriptures, as they own and style themselves; viz. A declaration of those things most truly believed, given forth, in former ages, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit; consequently that they are profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.'* They are the form of sound words. We profess to believe them, and read them, and say, it is the work we have to do in this world, and the earnest desire of our souls to Almighty God, that we may feel and witness the fulfilling of them in and upon ourselves; that so God's will may be done in earth, as it is in heaven. But to call them the word of God, (the ground of the charge) which they never call themselves, but which they peculiarly denominate and call Christ by; in reverence to Christ, and in no slight to them (which they believe to be of divine authority, and embrace as the best of books, and allow to be as much the word of God, as a book can be) they do, as in duty and reason bound, attribute that title to Christ only.

And yet, as the word of God may, in some sense, signify the command of God, referring to the thing or matter commanded, as the mind of God, it may be called the word of the Lord, or word of God: as, on particular occasions, the prophets had the word of the Lord to persons and places; that is to say, the mind, or will, of God, or that which was commanded them of the. Lord to declare or do. So Christ uses it, when he tells the Pharisees, that they had "made the word (or command) of God of none effect by their traditions." But because people are so apt to think, Luke i. 1. 2 Tim üi. 16, 17. John i. 4 14. Rev. xix. 13.


+ Mark vii. 19.


if they have the scriptures they have all; for that they aecount them the only word of God, and so look no farther; that is, to no other word, from whence those good words came: therefore this people have been constrained, and they believe by God's good Spirit, once and again to point them to the great Word of words, Christ Jesus, in whom is life, and that life the light of men; that they might feel something nearer to them than the scriptures, to wit, the word in the heart, from whence all holy scripture came, which is "Christ within them, the hope of their glory."+ And, to be sure, He is the only right expounder, as well as the author of holy scripture; and without whose light, spirit, or grace, they cannot be profitably read, by those that

read them.

Pervers. 7. They deny them to be any means whereby to resist temptation.'

Principle. This is a very uncharitable aspersion. True it is, that they deny the scriptures merely, or of themselves, to be sufficient to resist temptations; for then all that have them, and read them, would be sure to be preserved by them against temptations: but that they should deny them to be any means, or instrument, in God's hand, is either great ignorance, or injustice, in their adversaries. God hath made use of the scriptures, and daily doth and will make use of them, for instruction, reproof, comfort, and edifi. cation, throngh the Spirit, to those that read them as they ought to do. Thus, they say, they have felt them, and so they have been, and are, made unto them, through the good Spirit of God, coming in upon their Spirits, in the reading and considering of them; and wish heartily they were more in request with the professors of Christianity.


Of the Holy Spirit of God, and its Office with respect to Man; and of Ministry, &c.

Pervers. 8. The Quakers assert the Spirit of God to be the immediate teacher, and that there is no other means now to be used, as ministry, ordinances,' &c.

Principle. They never spoke such language, and their daily practice confutes the reflection. But herein we perceive the great subtlety of Satan, as well as in other things, to darken the appearance of the truth, and prepossess people's minds against it. For since he cannot hinder the exaltation of the Spirit above all visible instruments, nor the necessity of its manifestations, convictions, motions, and ↑ Deut. xxx. 14. Rom. x. 6, 7, 8.

* John i. 4.

operations, to be known in the hearts of men, and the great suitableness thereof to the gospel-administration, he would spoil all by over-doing the matter, and carrying our assertions beyond bounds: for they never denied the use of means; but, to this day, from the beginning, they have been in the practice of them. But then they are such means as are used in the life and power of God, and not in and from man's mere wit, will, or carnal innovation or imitation, the only thing they strike at. For instance; they cannot own that to be a gospel-ministry, that is without a gospelspirit; or that such can be sent of God, that are not taught of God; or that they are fit to teach others what regeneration and the way to heaven are, that have never been born again themselves; or that such can ever bring souls to God, that are themselves strangers (like those in the Acts xix. 21.) to the baptism of fire, and the Holy Ghost; never having been circumcised with the circumcision of the heart in the spirit, Rom. ii. 29. Which is so absolutely necessary to make a true Jew, or a real Christian, and much more the requisite qualification of a gospel-ministry.

This unexperienced and lifeless ministry, is the only ministry, and such the only ministers, that the people called Quakers cannot own and receive, and therefore cannot maintain. For the ministry and the ministers that are according to scripture, they both own, respect, and delight in; and are ready to assist and support, in their service for God.*

It is strange, because they deny all false means, or means not sanctified, or used in the openings and leadings of God's power and Spirit, that therefore they must deny all means, however rightly used or employed. This is an injustice to their profession and practice. Wherefore all are desired to take notice, that evangelical means and order they love, and desire to keep: for they diligently assemble themselves together to wait upon God, to enable them to worship. him; where they both pray and prophesy, one by one, as prepared and moved in their hearts by his Spirit, and as any thing is revealed to them, according to primitive practice; otherwise they are silent before the Lord, Nor are they without spiritual songs, making melody in their hearts to God their Redeemer, by the same Holy Ghost, as often as they are comforted and moved by it, as it was the primitive practice.+

John xiv. 16, 17, 26. ch. xvi. 13. Acts i. 8. + See 1 Cor. xiv. 15, 29, 30, 31. John xvi. 7, 20, 22.

Gal. i. 1, 15, 16.
Eph. v. 19. Col. iii. 16.


Of the Holy Three, or Scripture Trinity. Pervers. 9. The Quakers deny the Trinity.'

Principle. Nothing less they believe in the Holy Three, or Trinity of Father, Word, and Spirit, according to scrip'ture. And that these Three are truly and properly One: of one nature, as well as will. But they are very tender of quitting scripture terms and phrases for schoolmen's; such as, distinct and separate persons,' and 'subsistences,' &c. are; from whence people are apt to entertain gross ideas and notions of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. And they judge, that a curious inquiry into those high and divine relations, and other speculative subjects, though never so great truth in themselves, tend little to godliness, and less to peace; which should be the chief aim of true Christians and therefore they cannot gratify that curiosity in themselves, or others: speculative truths being, in their judgment, to be sparingly and tenderly declared, and never to be made the measure and condition of Christian communion. For besides that Christ Jesus hath taught them other things, the sad consequences, in all times, of superfining upon scripture-texts, do sufficiently caution and forbid them. Men are too apt to let their heads out-run their hearts, and their notion exceed their obedience, and their passion support their conceits; instead of a daily cross, a constant watch, and an holy practice. The despised Quakers desire this may be their care, and the text their creed in this, as in all other points preferring self-denial to opinion, and charity to knowledge, according to that great Christian doctrine, I Cor. xiii.


Of the Divinity of Christ.

Pervers. 10. The Quakers deny Christ to be God.' Principle. A most untrue and unreasonable censure: for their great and characteristic principle being this, ‘That Christ, as the Divine Word, lighteth the souls of all men that come into the world, with a spiritual and saving light, according to John i. 9. ch. viii. 12.' (which nothing but the Creator of souls can do) it does sufficiently show they believe him to be God; for they truly, and expressly, own him to be so, according to scripture; viz. "In him was life, and that life the light of men; and he is God over all, blessed for ever.+"

* John i. 1. ch. xiv. 9. 2-6. Col. ii, 8.

Rom. ix. 5.

+ John i. 1.

1 John v. 7. I Cor. i. 18, 31.. ch. ii. Rom. ix. 5.

« PreviousContinue »