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A Portraiture of Quakerism Volume Ii Part 8

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CHAP. VII.

SECT. I.

_This spirit, as it has been given universally, so it has been given sufficiently--Hence G.o.d is exonerated Of injustice, and men are left without excuse--Those who resist this spirit, are said to quench it, and may become so hardened in time, as to be insensible of its impressions--Those who attend to it, may be said to be in the way of redemption--Similar sentiments of Monro--This visitation, treatment, and influence of the spirit, usually explained by the Quakers by the Parable of the sower._

As the spirit of G.o.d has been thus afforded to every man, since the foundation of the world, to profit withal, so the Quakers say, that it has been given to him in a sufficient measure for this purpose. By the word "sufficient" we are not to understand that this divine monitor calls upon men every day or hour, but that it is within every man, and that it awakens him seasonably, and so often during the term of his natural life, as to exonerate G.o.d from the charge of condemning him unjustly, if he fails in his duty, and as to leave himself without excuse. And in proportion as a greater or less measure of this spirit has been afforded him, so he is more or less guilty in the sight of his Maker.

If any should resist these salutary operations of the Holy Spirit, they resist it to their own condemnation.



Of such it may he observed, that they are said to quench or grieve the spirit, and, not unfrequently, to resist G.o.d, and to crucify Christ afresh; for G.o.d and Christ and the Spirit are considered to be inseparably united in the scriptures.

Of such also it may be again observed, that if they continue to resist G.o.d's holy Spirit, their feelings may become so callous or hardened in time, that they may never be able to perceive its notices again, and thus the day of their visitation may be over: for [42] "my people, saith G.o.d, would not hearken to my voice, and Israel would none of me; so I gave them up to their own hearts' l.u.s.ts, and they walked in their own counsels." To the same import was the saying of Jesus Christ, when he wept over Jerusalem. [43] "If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes." As if he had said, there was a day, in which ye, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, might have known those things which belonged to your peace. I was then willing to gather you, as a hen gathereth her chickens, but as ye would not suffer me, the things belonging to your peace are now hid from your eyes. Ye would not attend to the impressions by G.o.d's Holy Spirit, when your feelings were tender and penetrable, and therefore now, the day having pa.s.sed over, ye have lost the power of discerning them.

[Footnote 42: Psalm 81. 11,12]

[Footnote 43: Luke 19, 42.]

Those, on the other hand, who, during this visitation of the Holy Spirit, attend to its suggestions or warnings, are said to be in the way of their redemption or salvation.

These sentiments of the Quakers on this subject are beautifully described by Monro, in his just measures of the pious inst.i.tutions of youth. "The Holy Spirit," says he, "solicits and importunes those who are in a state of sin, to return, by inward motions and impressions, by suggesting good thoughts and prompting to pious resolutions, by checks and controls, by conviction of sin and duty; sometimes by frights and terrors, and other whiles by love and endearments: But if men, notwithstanding all his loving solicitations, do still cherish and cleave to their l.u.s.ts, and persevere in a state of sin, they are then said to resist the Holy Ghost, whereby their condition becomes very deplorable, and their conversion very difficult; for the more men resist the importunities, and stifle the motions of the Holy Spirit, the stronger do the chains of their corruption and servitude become. Every new act of sin gives these a degree of strength, and consequently puts a new obstacle in the way of conversion; and when sin is turned into an inveterate and rooted habit, (which by reiterated commissions and long continuance it is) then it becomes a nature, and is with as much difficulty altered as nature is. Can the Ethiopian change his colour, or the Leopard his spots? Then may you also do good, who are accustomed to do evil."

"The Holy Spirit again," says he, "inspires the prayers of those who, in consequence of his powerful operations, have crucified the flesh with the affections and l.u.s.ts, with devout and filial affections, and makes intercession for them with sighs and groans that cannot be uttered. He guides and manages them. The sons of G.o.d are led by the spirit of G.o.d.

He makes, his blessed fruits, righteousness, peace, joy, and divine love, more and more to abound in them; he confirms them in goodness, persuades them to perseverance, and seals them to the day of redemption."

The Quakers usually elucidate this visitation, treatment, and influence of the Holy Spirit, by the parable of the sower, as recorded by three of the Evangelists. "Now the seed is the word of G.o.d." But as the word of G.o.d and the spirit, according to St. John the Evangelist, are the same, the parable is considered by the Quakers as relating to that divine light or spirit which is given to man for his spiritual instruction and salvation. As the seed was sown in all sorts of ground, good, bad, and indifferent, so this light or spirit is afforded, without exception, to all. As thorns choked this seed, and hindered it from coming to perfection, so bad customs, or the pleasures and cares of the world, hinder men from attending to this divine principle within them, and render it unfruitful in their hearts. And as the seed in the good ground was not interrupted, and therefore produced fruit in abundance, so this spiritual principle, where it is not checked, but received and cherished, produces also abundance of spiritual fruit in the inward man, by putting him into the way of redemption from sin, or of holiness of life.

SECT. II.

_The spirit of G.o.d, therefore, besides its office of a teacher, performs that of a Redeemer of men--Redemption outward and inward--Outward is by the sufferings of Jesus Christ--These produce forgiveness of past sins, and put men into a capacity of salvation--inward, or the office now alluded to, is by the operation of the spirit--This converts men, and preserves them from sins to come--outward and inward connected with each other._

The spirit of G.o.d, which we have seen to be given to men, and to be given them universally, to enable them to distinguish between 'good and evil, was given them also, the Quakers believe, for another purpose, namely, to redeem or save them. Redemption and salvation, in this sense,' are the same, in the language of the Quakers, and mean a purification from the sins or pollutions of the world, so that a new birth may be produced, and maintained in the inward man.

As the doctrine of the Quakers, with respect to redemption, differs from that which generally obtains, I shall allot this chapter to an explanation of the distinctions, which the Quakers usually make upon this subject.

The Quakers never make use of the words "original sin," because these are never to be found in the sacred writings. They consider man, however, as in a fallen or degraded state, and as inclined and liable to sin. They consider him, in short, as having the seed of sin within him, which he inherited from his parent Adam. But though they acknowledge this, they dare not say, that sin is imputed to him on account of Adam's transgression, or that he is chargeable with sin, until he actually commits it.

As every descendant, however, of Adam, has this seed within him, which, amidst the numerous temptations that beset him, he allows sometime or other to germinate, so he stands in need of a Redeemer; that is, of some power that shall be able to procure pardon for past offences, and of some power that shall be able to preserve him in the way of holiness for the future. To expiate himself, in a manner satisfactory to the Almighty, for so foot a stain upon his nature as that of sin, is utterly beyond his abilities; for no good action, that he can do, can do away that which has been once done. And to preserve himself in a state of virtue for the future, is equally out of his own power, because this cannot be done by any effort of his reason, but only by the conversion of his heart. It has therefore pleased the Almighty to find a remedy for him in each of these cases. Jesus Christ, by the sacrifice of his own body, expiates for sins that are past, and the spirit of G.o.d, which has been afforded to him, as a spiritual teacher, has the power of cleansing and purifying the heart so thoroughly, that he may be preserved from sins to come.

That forgiveness of past sins is procured by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, is obvious from various pa.s.sages in the holy scriptures. Thus the apostle Paul says, that Jesus Christ [44] "was set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past through the forbearance of G.o.d."

And in his epistle to the Colossians he says, [45] "In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins." This redemption may be called outward, because it has been effected by outward means, or by the outward sufferings of Jesus Christ; and it is considered as putting men, in consequence of this forgiveness, into the capacity of salvation. The Quakers, however, attribute this redemption wholly to the love of G.o.d, and not to the impossibility of his forgiveness without a plenary satisfaction, or to the motive of heaping all his vengeance on the head of Jesus Christ, that he might appease his own wrath.

[Footnote 44: Rom. 3.25.]

[Footnote 45: Coloss. 1.14.]

The other redemption, on the other hand, is called inward, because it is considered by the Quakers to be an inward redemption from the power of sin, or a cleansing the heart from the pollutions of the world. This inward redemption is produced by the spirit of G.o.d, as before stated, operating on the hearts of men, and so cleansing and purifying them, as to produce a new birth in the inward man; so that the same spirit of G.o.d, which has been given to men in various degrees since the foundation of the world, as a teacher in their spiritual concerns, which hath visited every man in his day, and which hath exhorted and reproved him for his spiritual welfare[46], has the power of preserving him from future sin, and of leading him to salvation.

[Footnote 46: The Quakers believe, however, that this spirit was more plentifully diffused, and that greater gifts were given to man, after Jews was glorified, than before. Ephes. 4.8.]

That this inward redemption is performed by the spirit of G.o.d, the Quakers show from various pa.s.sages in the sacred writings. Thus St. Paul says, [47] "According to his mercy he hath saved us by the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost." The same apostle says, again, [48] "It is the law of the Spirit that maketh free from the law of sin and death." And again--[49] "As many as are led by the spirit of G.o.d, they are the sons of G.o.d."

[Footnote 47: t.i.tus 3.5.]

[Footnote 48: Rom. 8.2.]

[Footnote 49: Rom. 8.14.]

The Quakers say, that this inward redemption or salvation as effected by the spirit, is obvious also from the experience of all good men, or from the manner in which many have experienced a total conversion or change of heart. For though there are undoubtedly some who have gone on so gradually in their reformation from vice to virtue, that it may have been considered to be the effect of reason, which has previously determined on the necessity of a holy life, yet the change from vice to holiness has often been so rapid and decisive, as to leave no doubt whatever, that it could not have been produced by any effort of reason, but only by some divine operation, which could only have been that of the spirit of G.o.d.

Of these two kinds of redemption, the outward and the inward, of which the latter will be the subject of our consideration, it may be observed, that they go hand in hand together[50]. St. Paul has coupled them in these words: "for if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to G.o.d by the death of his son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life;" that is, by the life of his spirit working inwardly in us.--And as they go together in the mind of the apostle, so they go together as to the benefit of their effects. For, in the first place, the outward redemption takes place, when the inward has begun. And, secondly, the outward redemption, or the sufferings of Jesus Christ, which redeem from past sins, cannot have any efficacy till the inward has begun, or while men remain in their sins; or, in other words, no man can be ent.i.tled to the forgiveness of sins that have been committed, till there has been a change in the inward man; for St. John intimates, that [51]the blood of Christ does not cleanse from sin, except men walk in the light, or, to use an expression synonymous with the Quakers, except men walk in the spirit.

[Footnote 50: Rom, 5. 10.]

[Footnote 51: John I. 6.7.]

SECT. III.

_Inward redemption, which thus goes on by the operation of the Holy Spirit, has the power of producing a new birth in men--This office of the spirit acknowledged by other Christians--Monro--Hammond--Locke--It has the power also of leading to perfection--Sentiments of the Quakers as to perfection--and of the ever memorable John Hales--Gell--Monro --This power of inward redemption bestowed upon all._

The sufferings then of Jesus Christ, having by means of the forgiveness of past sins, put men into a capacity for salvation, the remaining part of salvation, or the inward redemption of man, is performed by the operation of the Holy Spirit; of which, however, it must be remembered, that a more plentiful diffusion is considered by the Quakers to have been given to men after the ascension of Jesus Christ, than at any former period.

The nature of this inward redemption, or the nature of this new office, which it performs in addition to that of a religious teacher, may be seen in the following account.

It has the power, the Quakers believe, of checking and preventing bad inclinations and pa.s.sions; of cleansing and purifying the heart; of destroying the carnal mind; of making all old things pa.s.s away; of introducing new; of raising our spiritual senses, so as to make us delight in the things of G.o.d, and to put us above the enjoyment of earthly pleasures. Redeeming thus from the pollutions of the world, and leading to spiritual purity, it forms a new creature. It produces the new man in the heart. It occasions a man by its quickening power to be born again, and thus puts him into the way of salvation. [52] "For verily I say unto thee, says Jesus Christ to Nicodemus, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of G.o.d."

[Footnote 52: John 3.3.]

This office and power of the spirit of G.o.d is acknowledged by other Christians. Monro, who has been before quoted, observes, "that the soul, being thus raised from the death of sin and born again, is divinely animated, and discovers that it is alive by the vital operations which it performs."

"Again, says he, this blissful presence, the regenerate who are delivered from the dominion, and cleansed from the impurities of sin, have recovered, and it is on the account of it, that they are said to be an habitation of G.o.d through the spirit and the temples of the Holy Ghost. For that good spirit takes possession of them, resides in their hearts, becomes the mover, enlightener, and director of all their faculties and powers, gives a new and heavenly tincture and tendency to all their inclinations and desires, and, in one word, is the great spring of all they think, or do, or say; and hence it is that they are said to walk no more after the flesh, but after the spirit, and to be led by the spirit of G.o.d."

Dr. Hammond, in his paraphrase and annotations on the New Testament, observes, that "he who hath been born of G.o.d, is literally he who hath had such a blessed change wrought in him by the operation of G.o.d's spirit in his heart, as to be translated from the power of darkness into the kingdom of his dear Son."

"As Christ in the flesh, says the great and venerable Locke, was wholly exempt from all taint and sin, so we, by that spirit which was in him, shall be exempt from the dominion of carnal l.u.s.ts, if we make it our choice, and endeavour to live after the spirit."

"Here the apostle, says Locke, shows that Christians are delivered from the dominion of their carnal l.u.s.ts by the spirit of G.o.d that is given to them, and dwells in them, as a new quickening principle and power, by which they are put into the state of a spiritual life, wherein their members are made capable of becoming the instruments of righteousness."

And this spirit of G.o.d, which thus redeems from the pollutions of the world, and puts a new heart as it were into man, is considered by the Quakers as so powerful in its operations, as to be able to lead him to perfection. By this the Quakers do not mean to say, that the perfection of man is at all like the perfection of G.o.d; because the perfection of the former is capable of growth. They believe, however, that, in his renewed state, he may be brought to be so perfect, as to be able to keep those commandments of G.o.d which are enjoined him. In this sense they believe it is, that Noah is called by Moses [53]a just and perfect man in his generation; and that Job is described [54]as a perfect and an upright man; and that the evangelist Luke speaks of Zacharias and Elizabeth in these words--[55] "They were both righteous before G.o.d, and walked in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless."

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