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Miscellaneous particularities Quakers careful
about the use of such words as relate to religion --never use the words “ Original Sin”-nor “ the IVord of God” for the Scriptures--nor the word “ Trinity”—never pry into the latter mystery-believe in the manhood and divinity of Jesus Christ_also in a resurrection, but never attempt to fathom that subject Make little difference between sanctification and justification
--their ideas concerning the latter. The members of this Society are remarkably careful, both in their conversation and their writings on religious subjects, as to the terms which they use. They express scriptural images or ideas, as much as may be, by scriptural terms. By means of this particular caution they avoid much of the perplexity and many of the difficulties, which arise to others, and escape the theological disputes, which disturb the rest of the Christian world.
They scarcely ever utter the words “ Original Sin,” because they never find them in use in the Sacred Writings.
The Scriptures are usually denominated by Christians “the Word of God." Though
the Quakers believe them to have been given by divine inspiration, yet they reject this term. They apprehend that Christ is the Word of God. They cannot therefore consistently give to the Scriptures, however they reverence them, that name which St. John the Evangelist gives exclusively to the Son of God.
Neither do they often make use of the word “Trinity.” This expression they can no where find in the Sacred Writings. This to them is a sufficient warrant for rejecting it. They consider it as a term of mere human invention, and of too late a date to claim a place among the expressions of primitive Christianity. For they find it neither in Justin Martyr, nor in Irenæus, nor in Tertullian, nor in Origen, nor in the Fathers of the three first centuries of the Church.
And as they seldom use the term, so they seldom or never try, when it offers itself to them, either in conversation or in books, to fathom its meaning. They judge that a curious inquiry into such high and speculative things, though ever so great truths in themselves, tends little to godliness, and less to peace; and that their principal concern
is with that only which is clearly revealed, and which leads practically to holiness of life.
Consistently with this judgment, we find but little said respecting the Trinity by the Quaker-writers.
Barclay no where notices the Trinity as a distinct subject. In speaking, however, of the Seed or Word of God, or Light with which every one is enlightened, he says, “ We do not understand by this the proper essence and nature of God precisely taken, but a spiritual, heavenly, and invisible Principle, in which God, as Father, Son, and Spirit dwells.” In his Catechism also he acknowledges a distinction of Father, Son, and Spirit in the Deity. From these expres- , sions we collect his belief in a Trinity as recorded in the words of Scripture, but we obtain no particular knowledge concerning it. :
In the works of William Penn we find the following passage :
" We do believe in one only God Almighty, who is an eternal Spirit, the creator of all things. And in one Lord, Jesus Christ, his only Son, and express image of his substance, who took upon him flesh, and was in the world, to whose holy life, power, mediation, and blood, we only ascribe our sanctification, redemption, and perfect salvation. And we believe in one Holy Spirit, that proceeds and breathes from the Father and the Son, as the life and virtue of both the Father and the Son, a measure of which is given to all to profit with, and he that has one has all; for these three are one, who is the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, God over all blessed for ever.' In another
of his works he acknowledges again a Father, Word, and Holy Spirit; but he observes, not according to the notions of men, but according to the Scriptures; and that these three are truly and properly one, of one nature as well as will.
Isaac Pennington, an antient Quaker, speaks thus : “ That the three are distinct as three several beings or persons, the Quakers no where read in the Scriptures, but they read in them that they are one.
And thus they believe their being to be one, their life one, their light one, their wisdom one, their power one. And he, that knoweth and seeth any one of them, knoweth and seeth them all, according to that saying of Christ to Philip: “ He that hath seen me hath seen the Father.” In another place he saith : “I know three, and feel three in Spirit, even an eternal Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, which are but one
eternal God. And I feel them also
and have fellowship with them in their Life, and in their redeeming Power.”
John Crook, another antient writer of this Society, in speaking of the Trinity, says that the Quakers “ acknowledge one God, the Father of Jesus Christ, witnessed within man only by the Spirit of truth, and these three are one, and agree in one;
and he, that honours the Father, honours the Son that proceeds from him; and he, that denies the Spirit, denies both the Father and the Son." But nothing further can be obtained from this author on this subject.
Henry Tuke, a modern writer among the Quakers, and who published an account of the principles of the Society only last year, says also but little upon the point before us. “ We likewise believe,” says he, “in the divinity of the Holy Spirit, which is frequently united in Scripture with the Father and with the Son; and whose office, in the instruction and salvation of mankind is set forth in
in Holy Writ. This belief in the divinity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, induced some of the teachers in the Christian Church, about three hundred 1