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This is a rare instance of the circuitous mode of reasoning. The Spirit within them, and the Scriptures without them, are a rule by turns; with this difference only, that if plain passages of holy writ are urged against any of their notions, the Quakers immediately have recourse to this subterfuge, to call it no worse, that the enlightening or teaching of the Spirit within, is to be attended to in opposition to the mere letter of Scripture.
This preposterous tenet, which reduces tbe bible to a cypher, or rather makes of it a nose of'wax to serve the purpose of any crafty deceiver, or inflamed enthusiast, is stated in express terms by Mr. Clarkson, who backs it by a remarkable assertion of Barclay, which contains in fact the essence of the deistical arguments to be found in the writings of Collins, Tindall, and Chubb. "We cannot, fays Barclay, " call the Scriptures the fountain of all truth and knowledge, nor yet the first adequate rule of faith and manners, because the principal fountain of truth must be the Truth itself; that is, that, whose certainty and authority depend not upon another."
This, as we have already said, is the essence of deism. It is setting up a rule above the revealed will of God; it is making the light within, let it be what it may, the judge of truth. That which we have hitherto esteemed to be revelation, becomes a secondary or subordinate guide, consequently it is fallible, and if fallible it cannot be of divine origin.
All the difference between the avowed deists and the Quakers consists in this, that the one look for actual inspiration, by which to judge the Scriptures, and the others deny inspiration altogether; but the arguments of the one party, with regard to the authority as the Scriptures, may with full as good reason be adopted by the other.
We now return to a consideration of the Quaker doctrine concerning the Holy Spirit.
"The Quakers believe," says Mr. Clarkson, "that when the Almighty created the universe, he effected it by means of the life, or vital or vivifying energy that was in his own Spirit. "And (he earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of thedeep, and the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters."
We take leave to observe that before this passage in Genesis was thus conspicuously produced, it became our au.
thor thor to prove that the word rvy in this place, means exactly what the Quakers understand by the word spirit. Mr. Clarkson should have told us what reason there is for preferring the word "Spirit" to the word " wind" in the translation of this text. If the original signifies oftentimes spirit, it as often denotes wind, and could not otherwise be rendered, without making nonsense ol the passage in which it stands.
But to proceed:
"This life of the spirit" says Mr. Ctarkson, " has been differently named, but is concisely styled by St. John, the Evangelist, "the .Word," for he says, "In the beginning was the Word, and "the Word was with God, and the Word was God. All things "were made by him, and without him was not any thing made '• that was made." The Almighty also by means, of. the same divine energy or life of the spirit, which had first created the universe, became the cause of material ■ life, and of vital functions. He called forth all animated nature into existence; for "he made the living creature after his kind."
What is here meant by "the life of the spirit" we cannot comprehend. The terms are in contradiction to each other. Do the Quakers wish to be understood that the Logos is the "life of the spirit ?" if so they overthrow one of their leading principles, that the spirit must be in us, though not in the fame degree, as he was in Christ himself. But this is not the only instance of a confusion of terms and ideas in the Quaker creed. There is worse darkmess still before us.
On the state of man before the fall, the Quakers hold, that,
"Adam the first man, received directly from the Almighty into his own' breast, such an emanation from the life of his own Spirit, as was sufficient to have enabled him both to hold, and to have continued, a spiritual intercourse with his maker, and to have preserved him in the state of innocence in which he had been created. As long as he continued in this divine light of the spirit, he remained in the image of God, and was perfectly happy; but not attending faithfully and perseveringly to this his spiritual monitor, he fell into the snares of Satan, or gave way to the temptations of sin."
Upon this explication of the Mosaical history we shall jtaake no remark, though it were easy enough to shew that
it has no foundation in the sacred text. We have quoted it by .way of introducing and comparing it with the Quakers' doctrine, concerning the person and mission of Jesus Christ.
"At length in the fulness of time," say they, "that is, when all things had been fulfilled, which were previously to take place, this divine spirit which had appeared in creation, or this divine Word, or Light, took flesh (for, as St. John the Evangelist says "the Word was made flesh and dwelled among us,") and inhabited the body which had been prepared for it," or, in other words, it inhabited the body of the person Jesus; but with this difference, that whereas only a portion of this divine Light, or Spirit, had been given to Adam, and afterwards to the prophets, it was given without limit or measure, to the man Jesus * "For he whom God hath sent," says St. John, speaketh the words of God; for God giveth not the spirit by measure unto him." And St. Paul says f "In him the fulness of the Godhead dwelleth bodily." In him, therefore, the promise given to Adam was accomplished, "that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head ;" for we see, in this case, a human body weak and infirm, and subject lo passions, possessed or occupied without limit or measure by the spirit of God. But if the man Jesus had the full spirit of God within him, he could not be otherwise than perfectly holy. <And, if so, sin never could have entered, and must therefore, as far as relates to him, have been entirely repelled. Thus he answered the prophetic character, which had been given him independently of his victory over sin, by the sacrifice of himself, or by becoming afterwards a comforter to those in bondage, who should be willing to receive him."
According to this representation, the same spirit was in Jesus that was in Adam, but in a greater measure, and in this respect only can our Saviour be said to be. divine. This therefore is flat Socinianism. But again, Jesus possessed the Spirit of God so fully as to be perfectly holy, and on this account he could not possibly fin, or as it is here expressed, "fin never could enter into him:" If so, what becomes of the virtue of his patience and long suffering; his resistance of temptations and submission to death?
When it is said that " our Lord was tempted in 'all points like as we are, yet without sin," it is not meant that "sin could not enter into him," for then there would be no virtue in conquering the Tempter, nor could Jesus be properly set before us as an example, since according to the Quakers' doctrine, his virtue was the virtue of absolute necessity, and ours the guidance of a portion of the Spirit, which was more fully and completely in him. This at once sets aside the doctrine of the atonement, or the merits of Christ's death, and the freedom of human action.
The perversions of scriptural passages in these volumes are numerous, but none will be found to exceed the Quaker comment on St. Paul's words, "For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the Spirit of a man which is in him? Even so the things of God, knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the Spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God, that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God;" and again, "But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned."
"By these expressions" says our author, "the Quakers conceive that the history of man, as explained above, is confirmed; or that the Almighty not only gave to man reason, which was to assist him in his temporal, but also superadded a portion of his own Spirit, which was lo assist him in his spiritual, concerns.
"They conceive again, from these expressions of the apostle, that these two principles in man are different from each other. They are mentioned under the distinct names of the spirit of man, and of the Spirit of God. The former they suppose to relate to the understanding, and the latter conjointly to the understanding and to the heart. The former can be brought into use at all times, if the body of a man is in health. The latter is not at his own disposal. Man must wait for its inspirations. Like the wind, it bloweth where it listelh. Man also, when he feels this divine influence, feels that it is distinct from his reason. When it is gone, he feels the loss of it, though all his rational faculties be alive. "Those" says Alexander Arscott, "who have this experience certainly know, that as at times in their silent retirements and humble waitings upon God, they receive an understanding of his will, relating to their present duty, in such a clear light as leaves no doubt or hesitation; so at other times, when this is withdrawn drawn from them, they are at a loss" again, and see themselves, as they really are, ignorant and destitute."
The foa; in which this envelopes us is shocking: all that we are satisfied of is this, that the texts here cited, are abominably wrested from their real meaning, and applied to support an errour of which the apostle was a most zealous opponent.
The fact is, St. Paul's language here quoted is at direct variance with the'Quaker comment, for he is by analogy proving that the things or mysteries of our religion are only to be learned in the Scriptures, which were revealed to man by the ministration of the Spirit of God. Therefore it is added, that the "natural man," the Gentile, or he who reje'efeth Revelation, " receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." This is explained by what the apostle fays in the preceding chapter, that the doctrine of "Christ crucified, is unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks," who prided themselves on their great wisdom, "foolishness."
Upon this passage concerning the "natural man's rejecting the things of the Spirit of God," Chrysostom has a most excellent note, which we cannot forbear quoting in this place as an antidote to the poison of the Quakers,
"F.or if we should go about" says he, " to prove by natural reasons, how that God was made man, and entered into the virgin's womb, instead of leaving these matters to faith, (i. e. instead of proving them by testimonies of divine revelation) they [the heathens] would laugh at us more than they do already^*"
The reader is desired to take this explication, and Alexander Arscott's experience, into his serious consideration, and judge, as far as he can, between plain fense and mystical jargon, which is to be preferred as giving the clearest view of the apostle's meaning.
According to the doctrine of the Quakers, reason hai nothing to do in our religious course, but only in temporal matters. The divine influence which is to be our guide, is distinct from reason, and comes and goes while all the rational faculties remain alive. How then came an apostle