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A Portraiture of Quakerism Volume Ii Part 21

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[Footnote 188: Matt. 24.]

Those therefore who interpret the words "till he come" to mean the end of the typical world, are of opinion that the pa.s.sover, as spiritualized by Jesus Christ, was allowed to the disciples, while they lived among a people, so wedded to religious ceremonies as the Jews, with whom it would have been a stumbling block in the way of their conversion, if they had seen the Apostles, who were their countrymen, rejecting it all at once; but that it was permitted, them, till the destruction of Jerusalem, after which event the Jews being annihilated as a nation, and being dispersed and mixed among the infinitely greater body of the Gentiles, the custom was to be laid aside, as the disuse of it could not be then prejudicial to the propagation of the Gospel among the community at large.

The Quakers, however, understand the words "till he come," to mean simply the coming of Christ substantially in the heart. Giving the words this meaning, they limit the duration of the spiritualized pa.s.sover, but do not specify the time. It might have ceased with some of them, they say, on the day of pentecost, when they began to discover the nature of Christ's kingdom; and they think it probable, that it ceased with all of them, when they found this kingdom realized in their hearts. For it is remarkable that those, who became Gospel writers, and it is to be presumed that they had attained great spiritual growth when they wrote their respective works, give no instructions to others, whether Jews or Gentiles, to observe the ceremonial permitted to the disciples by Jesus, as any ordinance of the Christian church. And in the same manner as the Quakers conceive the duration of the spiritualized pa.s.sover to have been limited to the disciples, they conceive it to have been limited to all other Jewish converts, who might have adopted it in those times, that is, till they should find by the substantial enjoyment of Christ in their hearts, that ceremonial ordinances belonged to the old, but that they were not const.i.tuent parts of the new kingdom.

SECT. VI.

_Quakers believe, from the preceding evidence, that Jesus Christ intended no ceremonial for the Christian church--for if the custom enjoined was the pa.s.sover spiritualized, it was more suitable for Jews than Gentiles--If intended as a ceremonial, it would have been commanded by Jesus to others besides his disciples, and by these to the Christian world--and its duration would not have been limited--Quakers believe St.



Paul thought it no Christian ordinance--three reasons taken from his own writings on this subject._

The Quakers then, on an examination of the preceding evidence, are of opinion that Jesus Christ, at the pa.s.sover-supper, never intended to inst.i.tute any new supper, distinct from that of the pa.s.sover, or from that enjoined at Capernaum, to be observed as a ceremonial by Christians.

For, in the first place, St. Matthew, who was at the supper, makes no mention of the words "do this in remembrance of me."

Neither are these words, nor any of a similar import, recorded by St.

Mark. It is true indeed that St. Mark was not at this supper. But it is clear he never understood from those who were, either that they were spoken, or that they bore this meaning, or he would have inserted them in his Gospel.

Nor is any mention made of such words by St. John. This was the beloved disciple who was more intimate with Jesus, and who knew more of the mind of his master, than any of the others. This was he who leaned upon his bosom at the pa.s.sover-supper, and who must have been so near him as to have heard all that pa.s.sed there. And. yet this disciple did not think it worth his while, except ma.n.u.scripts have been mutilated, to mention even the bread and wine that were used upon this occasion.

Neither does St. Luke, who mentions the words "do this in remembrance of me," establish any thing, in the opinion of the Quakers, material on this point. For it appears from him that Jesus, to make the most of his words, only spiritualized the old pa.s.sover for his disciples, all of whom were Jews, but that he gave no command with respect to the observance of it by others. Neither does St. Luke himself enjoin or call upon others to observe it.

St. Paul speaks nearly the same language as St. Luke, but with this difference, that the supper, as thus spiritualised by Jesus, was to last but for a time.

Now the Quakers are of opinion, that they have not sufficient ground to believe from these authorities, that Jesus intended to establish any ceremonial as an universal ordinance for the Christian church. For if the custom enjoined was the spiritualized pa.s.sover, it was better calculated for Jews than for Gentiles, who were neither interested in the motives nor acquainted with the customs of that feast. But it is of little importance, they contend, whether it was the spiritualized pa.s.sover or not; for if Jesus Christ had intended it, whatever it was, as an essential of his new religion, he would have commanded his disciples to enjoin it as a Christian duty, and the disciples themselves would have handed it down to their several converts in the same light.

But no injunction to this effect, either of Jesus to others, or of themselves to others, is to be found in any of their writings. Add to this, that the limitation of its duration for a time, seems a sufficient argument against it as a Christian ordinance, because whatever is once, most be for ever, an essential in the Christian church.

The Quakers believe, as a farther argument in their favour, that there is reason to presume that St. Paul never looked upon the spiritualised pa.s.sover as any permanent and essential rite, which Christians were enjoined to follow. For nothing can be more clear than that, when speaking of the guilt and hazard of judging one another by meats and drinks, he states it as a general and fundamental doctrine of Christianity, that [189] "the kingdom of G.o.d is not meat and drink, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost."

[Footnote 189: Romans 14. 17.]

It seems also by the mode of reasoning which the Apostle adopts in his epistle to the Corinthians on this subject, that he had no other idea of the observance of this rite, than he had of the observance of particular days, namely, that if men thought they were bound in conscience to keep them, they ought to keep them religiously. "He that regardeth a day, says the Apostle, regardeth it to the Lord." That is, "as he that esteemed a day, says Barclay, and placed conscience in keeping it, was to regard it to the Lord, (and so it was to him, in so far as he regarded it to the Lord, the Lord's day,) he was to do it worthily: and if he were to do it unworthily, he would be guilty of the Lord's day, and so keep it to his own condemnation." Just in the same manner St.

Paul tells the Corinthian Jews, that if they observed the ceremonial of the pa.s.sover, or rather, "as often as they observed it," they were to observe it worthily, and make it a religious act. They were not then come together to make merry on the anniversary of the deliverance of their ancestors from Egyptian bondage, but to meet in memorial of Christ's sufferings and death. And therefore, if they ate and drank the pa.s.sover, under its new and high allusions, unworthily, they profaned the ceremony, and were guilty of the body and blood of Christ.

It appears also from the Syriac, and other oriental versions of the New Testament, such as the Arabic and Ethiopic, as if he only permitted the celebration of the spiritualized pa.s.sover for a time in condescension to the weakness of some of his converts, who were probably from the Jewish synagogue at Corinth. For in the seventeenth verse of the eleventh chapter of his first epistle to the Corinthians, the Syriac runs thus: [190] "As to that, concerning which I am now instructing you, I commend you not, because you have not gone forward, but you have gone down into matters of less importance." "It appears from hence, says Barclay, that, the Apostle was grieved, that such was their condition that he was forced to give them instruction concerning these outward things, and doting upon which they showed that they were not gone forward in the life of Christianity, but rather sticking in the beggarly elements; and therefore the twentieth verse of the same version has it thus: [191]'When then ye meet together, ye do not do it as it is just ye should in the day of the Lord; ye eat and drink.' Therefore showing to them, that to meet together to eat and drink outward bread and wine, was not the labour and work of that day of the Lord."

[Footnote 190: The Syriac is a very ancient version, and as respectable or of as high authority as any. Leusden and Schaaf translate the Syriac thus: "Hoc autem, quod praecipio, non tanquam laudo vos, quia non progressi estis, sed ad id, quod minus est, descendistis." Compare this with the English edition.]

[Footnote 191: Quum igitur congregamini, non sicut justum est die domini nostri, comeditis et bibites. Leusden et Schaaf lordoni butavorum.]

Upon the whole, in whatever light the Quakers view the subject before us, they cannot _persuade_ themselves that Jesus Christ intended to establish any new _ceremonial_, distinct from the pa.s.sover-supper, or which should render null and void, (as it would be the tendency of all ceremonials to do) the supper which he had before commanded at Capernaum. The only supper which he ever enjoined to Christians, was the latter. This spiritual supper was to be eternal and universal. For he was always to be present with those "who would let him in, and they were to sup with him, and he with them." It was also to be obligatory, or an essential, with all Christians. "For except a man were to eat his flesh, and to drink his blood, he was to have no life in him." The supper, on the other hand, which our Saviour is supposed to have inst.i.tuted on the celebration of the pa.s.sover, was not enjoined by him to any but the disciples present. And it was, according to the confession of St. Paul, to last only for a time. This time is universally agreed upon to be that of the coming of Christ. That is, the duration of the spiritualized pa.s.sover was to be only till those to whom it had been recommended, had arrived at a state of religious manhood, or till they could enjoy the supper which Jesus Christ had commanded at Capernaum; after which repast, the Quakers believe they would consider all others as empty, and as not having the proper life and nourishment in them, and as of a kind not to harmonize with the spiritual nature of the Christian religion.

END OF THE SECOND VOLUME

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