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renounce all fantastical and whimsical intoxications, or any pretence to the revelation of new matter, in opposition to the ancient gospel declared by Christ Jesus and his apostles; and therefore not the revelation of new things, but the renewed revelation of the eternal way of truth.”
That true Christians in the present day are to be immediately led and governed by the Holy Spirit dwelling in the heart, is evident from many Scripture promises and declarations. Our Lord himself, a short time before his ascension, gave this promise to his disciples: “I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever; even the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him, for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you." Again he says, “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” “Howbeit, when He, the Spirit of Truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth; for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come.”
We are here told, first, who this is, designated by the several names of the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, the Holy Ghost, the sent of the Father in the name of Christ; secondly, where he is to be found; He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you; and thirdly, what his work is; He shall teach you all things, bring all things to your remembrance, and guide you into all truth.
That the Holy Spirit is to dwell in the saints now, and that these promises were not made to the immediate disciples of our Lord only, but to all who receive him when he knocks at the door, and obey his voice, is proved by many passages in the Scriptures. Paul says to the Romans, Ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be the Spirit of God dwell in you;" and to the Corinthians, “ Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God.” What is this but affirming that they in whom the Holy Spirit dwells, are no longer in the flesh, or of those who please not God, but are become Christians indeed; and in the same verse above quoted, he tells the Romans that "if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his;" that is, he is no Christian. He then who acknowledges himself a stranger to the work and government of the Spirit of Christ in his own heart, has not attained to the least measure of Christian experience; nay, has not so much as embraced the Christian religion, notwithstanding all he may otherwise know and believe about Christ, or how much soever he may be acquainted with the letter of the Holy Scriptures. If the Spirit is taken away, Christianity is no more Christianity, than the dead body of a man is a man, when the soul is departed. Whatsoever is excellent, whatsoever is noble, whatsoever is worthy, whatsoever is desirable in the Christian faith is ascribed to the Spirit.
To this, true Christians in all ages attribute their strength and life: by it they declare themselves to be illuminated, converted, regenerated and redeemed from the world. By it they are strengthened in weakness, comforted in affliction, armed against temptation, fortified against sufferings, enabled to triumph over their persecutors, and to hold communion with God. It is the Spirit that quickeneth; it was the Spirit that gave them utterance; it was the Spirit by which Stephen spake, so that the Jews were not able to resist. It is such as walk after the Spirit that receive no condemnation, for the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus makes them free from the law of sin and death; and it is by the Spirit of God dwelling in us that we are redeemed from the carnal mind. It is the Spirit of Christ dwelling in us that quickeneth our mortal bodies; it is through the Spirit that the deeds of the body are mortified and life obtained. It is by the Spirit that we are adopted and cry Abba, Father; for it is the Spirit that beareth witness with our spirits that we are the children of God. It is the Spirit that helpeth our infirmities and maketh intercession for us, with groanings which cannot be uttered; and it is by the Spirit that the glorious things which God hath laid up for the righteous, which neither outward ear hath heard, nor outward eye seen, nor the heart of man conceived by all his reasonings, are revealed unto us. It is by this Spirit that wisdom, knowledge, faith, tongues, prophecies are imparted to man, and it is by it that we are all baptized into one body and made to drink into one cup. In a word, there is nothing relating to the salvation of the soul, that can be rightly performed or effectually obtained, without it.
This gift of the Holy Spirit, which comes through our Lord Jesus Christ, is indeed the glory of the gospel dispensation; and we believe that if the professors of the Christian name, would lay aside the prejudices of
education and their preconceived opinions, and consult the testimony of the Spirit in their own hearts, they would find that whatever of spiritual comfort, strength, or other benefit they partake of, is not to be ascribed to their forms or ceremonies, nor does it come through them, but from the inward operations of the Holy Spirit; and that if they were weaned from those outward observances, and their attention and dependence placed upon this blessed source of divine consolation and strength, they would be made the joyful partakers of much fuller manifestations of his glorious presence and power. The more we are brought into humble child-like reliance upon Christ, and obedience to the dictates of his Spirit, the greater degrees of faith will be granted us in his power to deliver us out of all evil, in his wisdom and goodness to guide us in the way everlasting, and in his unfailing strength to enable us to perform the will of God; by which his faithful followers will grow in divine knowledge and experience, and be built upon Him, the Rock of ages and the foundation of many generations.
We have dwelt the more largely upon this doctrine, because we believe it to be of great practical importance, and are apprehensive that it is not sufficiently regarded or lived up to, by many under our name. It is our earnest desire, that none among us may be drawn into the adoption of sentiments, or the use of expressions which tend to weaken a belief in the immediate guidance of the Spirit of Truth, or put the Holy Scriptures into its place and office, thinking that by the study of them they can come to the saving knowledge of spiritual things, and esteeming them, instead of the Spirit, the principal means for the enlightening,
conversion and edification of mankind, or of unfolding to the mind the divine will concerning us.
It pleased the Lord, by his blessed Spirit, to give our primitive Friends to see the deadness and formality of the religious professions of their day; to bring them out of the observance of those forms and ceremonies which yielded no life or peace to their panting souls, and to gather them into reverent, silent waiting upon himself, for a qualification to perform that worship which is in spirit and in truth. In faithfully following his heavenly guidance, they were united in the faith and fellowship of the gospel, and all spake the same language, come out of what society or from what country they might; and thus harmoniously travailing together for the honour of God and the spread of the kingdom of Christ, they were like a city set upon a hill that could not be hid; many souls were awakened and converted, through their instrumentality, and joined the Society, and they were successfully engaged in diffusing a knowledge of the doctrines and testimonies of the gospel in many parts of the world. May we all be sincerely engaged to follow them as they followed Christ, that others seeing our good works, may glorify our Father who is in Heaven.
THE FALLEN STATE OF MAN.
Man was created in the image of God, capable of understanding the divine law, and holding communion with his Creator. Through transgression he fell from this blessed state, and consequently lost the heavenly image. His posterity come into the world in the image of the earthly, and until renewed by the quick