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A Portraiture of Quakerism Volume Ii Part 10

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[Footnote 75: Rom. 8. 19, 21.]

[Footnote 76: Cor. 5. 17, 18.]

They who are the babes of the regeneration begin to see spiritual things. The natural man, the mere creature, never saw G.o.d. But the babes, who cry Abba, Father, begin to see and to know him. Though as yet unskilful in the word of righteousness, [77] "they desire the sincere milk of the word, that they may grow thereby." And [78] "their sins are forgiven them."

[Footnote 77: 1 Pet 2. 2.]

[Footnote 78: 1 John 2. 12.]



They, who are considered as the young men in this state, are said to be [79] "spiritually strong, and the word of G.o.d abiding in them, to have overcome the wicked one."

[Footnote 79: 1 John 2. 14.]

They, who have attained a state of manhood, are called fathers, or are said to be of full age, and to be capable of taking strong meat.

[80] "They come, in the unity of faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of G.o.d, unto perfect men, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ. They arrive at such a state of stability, that they are no more children tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine; but speaking the truth in love, grow up unto him in all things, which is the head, even Christ." [81] "The old man with his deeds being put off, they have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him." [82] "They are washed, they are sanctified, they are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and in the spirit of our G.o.d." The new creation is thus completed, and the sabbath wherein man ceases from his own works, commences; so that every believer can then say with the apostle, [83] "I am crucified with Christ. Nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me. And the life, which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of G.o.d, who loved me, and gave himself for me."

[Footnote 80: Eph. 4. 13.14.15.]

[Footnote 81: Col. 3.9.10.]

[Footnote 82: 1 Cor. 6.11.]

[Footnote 83: Gal. 2.20.]

But this state of manhood, [84] "by which the man of G.o.d may be made perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works, does not take place, until Christ be fully formed in the souls of believers, or till they are brought wholly under his rule and government. He must be substantially formed in them. He must actually be their life, and their hope of glory.

He must be their head and governor. As the head, and the body, and the members are one, according to the apostle, but the head directs; so Christ, and, believers in whom Christ is born and formed, are one spiritual body, which he himself must direct also. Thus Christ, where he is fully formed in man, or where believers are grown up to the measure of the stature and fulness of sonship, is the head of every man, and G.o.d is the head of Christ. Thus Christ the begotten entirely governs the whole man, as the head directs and governs all the members of the body; and G.o.d the Father, as the head of Christ, entirely guides and governs the begotten. Hence, believers [85] 'are Christ's, and Christ is G.o.d's;'

so that ultimately G.o.d is all in all."

[Footnote 84: 2 Tim. 9.17.]

[Footnote 85: Cor. 9.23.]

Having given this new view of the subject, I shall only observe farther upon it, that the substance of this chapter turns out to be the same as that of the preceding, or according to the notions of the Quakers, that inward redemption cannot be effected but through the medium of the spirit of G.o.d. For Christ, according to the ideas now held out, must be formed in man, and he must rule them before they can experience full inward redemption; or, in other words, they cannot experience this inward redemption, except they can truly say that he governs them, or except they can truly call him Governor, or Lord. But no person can say that Christ rules in him, except he undergoes the spiritual process of regeneration which has been described, or to use the words of the Apostle, [86] "No man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Spirit.[87]"

[Footnote 86: 1 Cor. 12.6]

[Footnote 87: The reader will easily discern from this new view of the new birth, how men, according to the Quakers, become partakers of the divine nature, and how the Quakers make it out, that Abraham and others saw Christ's day, as I mentioned in a former chapter.]

CHAP. VIII.

SECT. I.

_Quakers believe from the foregoing accounts, that redemption is possible to all--Hence they deny the doctrine of election and reprobation--do not deny the texts on which it is founded, but the interpretation of them--as contrary to the doctrines of Jesus Christ and the Apostles--as making his mission unnecessary--as rendering many precepts useless--and as casting a stain on the character and attributes of G.o.d._

It will appear from the foregoing observations, that it Is the belief of the Quakers, that every man has the power of inward redemption within himself, who attends to the strivings of the Holy Spirit, and that as outward redemption by the sufferings of Jesus Christ extends to all, where the inward has taken place, so redemption or salvation, in its full extent, is possible to every individual of the human race.

This position, however, is denied by those Christians, who have p.r.o.nounced in favour of the doctrine of election and reprobation; because, if they believe some predestined from all eternity to eternal happiness, and the rest to eternal misery, they must then believe that salvation is not possible to all, and that it was not intended to be universal.

The Quakers have attempted to answer the objections, which have been thus made to their theory of redemption; and as the reader will probably expect that I should notice what they have said upon this subject, I have reserved the answers they have given for the present place.

The Quakers do not deny the genuineness of any of those texts, which are usually advanced against them. Of all people, they fly the least to the cover of interpolation or mutilation of scripture to shield themselves from the strokes of their opponents. They believe, however, that there are pa.s.sages in the sacred writings, which will admit of an interpretation different from that which has been a.s.signed them by many, and upon this they princ.i.p.ally rely in the present case. If there are pa.s.sages, to which two meanings may be annexed, and if for one there is equal authority as for the other, yet if one meaning should destroy all the most glorious attributes of the supreme being, and the other should preserve them as recognized in the other parts of the scripture, they think they are bound to receive that which favours the justice, mercy, and wisdom of G.o.d, rather than that which makes him appear both unjust and cruel.

The Quakers believe, that some Christians have misunderstood the texts which they quote in favour of the doctrine of election and reprobation, for the following reasons:--

First, because if G.o.d had from all eternity predestinated some to eternal happiness, and the rest to eternal misery, the mission of Jesus Christ upon earth became unnecessary, and his mediation ineffectual.

If this again had been a fundamental doctrine of Christianity, it never could have been overlooked, (considering that it is of more importance to men than any other) by the founder of that religion. But he never delivered any words in the course of his ministry, from whence any reasonable conclusion could be drawn, that such a doctrine formed any part of the creed which he intended to establish among men. His doctrine was that of mercy, tenderness, and love; in which he inculcated the power and efficacy of repentance, and declared there was more joy in Heaven over one sinner that repented, than over ninety-nine just persons who needed no repentance.

By the parable of the sower, which the Quakers consider to relate wholly to the word or spirit of G.o.d, it appears that persons of all description were visited equally for their salvation; and that their salvation depended much upon themselves; and that where obstacles arose, they arose from themselves also, by allowing temptations, persecutions, and the cares of the world, to overcome them. In short, the Quakers believe, that the doctrine of election and reprobation is contrary to the whole tenour of the doctrines promulgated by Jesus Christ.

They conceive also, that this doctrine is contrary to the doctrines promulgated by the Evangelists and Apostles, and particularly contrary to those of St. Paul himself, from whom it is princ.i.p.ally taken. To make this Apostle contradict himself, they dare not. And they must therefore conclude, either that no person has rightly understood it, and that it has been hitherto kept in mystery; or, if it be intelligible to the human understanding, it must be explained by comparing it with other texts of the same Apostle, as well as with those of others, and always in connexion with the general doctrines of Christianity, and the character and attributes of G.o.d. Now the Apostle Paul, who is considered to [88] intimate, that G.o.d predestined some to eternal salvation, and the rest to eternal misery, says, [89]that "G.o.d made of one blood all nations of men to dwell on all the face of the earth;" that, in the Gospel dispensation, [90] "there is neither Greek nor Jew, circ.u.mcision nor uncirc.u.mcision, Barbarian nor Scythian, bond nor free." [91]He desires also Timothy "to make prayers and supplications and intercessions for all men;" which the Quakers conceive he could not have done, if he had not believed it to be possible, that all might be saved.

"For this is acceptable, says he, in the sight of our Saviour, who will have all men to be saved; for there is one G.o.d and one mediator between G.o.d and man, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all."

Again, he says,[92] that "Jesus Christ tasted death for every man." And in another place he says, [93] "The grace of G.o.d, which bringeth salvation, has appeared unto all men." But if this grace has appeared to all, none can have been without it. And if its object be salvation, then all must have had sufficient of it to save them, if obedient to its saving operations.

[Footnote 88: Romans, Chap. 9.]

[Footnote 89: Acts 17. 26.]

[Footnote 90: Coloss. 3. 11.]

[Footnote 91: 1 Tim. 2. 1. 3. 4. 5. 6.]

[Footnote 92: Hebrews 2. 9.]

[Footnote 93: t.i.tus 2. 11.]

Again, if the doctrine of election and reprobation be true, then the recommendations of Jesus Christ and his Apostles, and particularly of Paul himself, can be of no avail, and ought never to have been given.

Prayer is inculcated by these as an acceptable duty. But why should men pray, if they are condemned before-hand, and if their destiny is inevitable? If the doctrine again be true, then all the exhortations to repentance, which are to be found in the scriptures, must be unnecessary. For why should men repent, except for a little temporary happiness in this world, if they cannot be saved in a future? This doctrine is considered by the Quakers as making the precepts of the Apostles unnecessary; as setting aside the hopes and encouragements of the Gospel; and as standing in the way of repentance or holiness of life.

This doctrine again they consider as objectionable, in as much as it obliges men to sin, and charges them with the commission of it. It makes also the fountain of all purity the fountain of all sin; and the author of all good the dispenser of all evil. It gives to the Supreme Being a malevolence that is not to be found in the character of the most malevolent of his creatures. It makes him more cruel than the most cruel oppressor ever recorded of the human race. It makes him to have deliberately made millions of men, for no other purpose than to stand by and delight in their misery and destruction. But is it possible, the Quakers say, for this to be true of him, who is thus described by St.

John--"G.o.d is Love?"

SECT. II.

_Quakers' interpretation of the texts which relate to this doctrine--These texts of public and private import--Election, as of public import, relates to offices of usefulness, and not to salvation--as of private, it relates to the Jews--These had been elected, but were pa.s.sed over for the Gentiles--Nothing more unreasonable in this than in the case of Ishmael and Esau--or that Pharaoh's crimes should receive Pharaoh's punishment--But though the Gentiles were chosen, they could stand in favour no longer than while they were obedient and faithful_.

The Quakers conceive that, in their interpretation of the pa.s.sages which are usually quoted in support of the doctrine of election and reprobation, and which I shall now give to the reader, they do no violence to the attributes of the Almighty; but, on the other hand, confirm his wisdom, justice, and mercy, as displayed in the sacred writings, in his religious government of the world.

These pa.s.saged may be considered both as of public and of private import; of public, as they relate to the world at large; of private, as they relate to the Jews, to whom they were addressed by the Apostle.

The Quakers, in viewing the doctrine as of public import, use the words "called," "predestinated," and "chosen," in the ordinary way in which they are used in the scriptures, or in the way in which Christians generally understand them.

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