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precepts of Scripture ; deeming them excellent, practicable, and binding ; but we deny them to be the principal ground of truth and knowledge; or the adequate primary rule of faith and manners. They are a secondary and subordinate rale: the revelations of the Spirit to us, are to be considered as the first rule *.”
In endeavouring to refute these tenets, we are encountered at first, with one most perplexing dif. ficulty. Shall we appeal to Scriptore? The Quakers own a higher tribunal. Shall we ground our reply in reasoning? An inward light, superior to it, is pretended. Our observations, therefore, are addressed, rather as a caution to those who may feel inclined to this mystical persuasion, than as an attempt to proselytize any, who, in bowing to its dominion, have bidden defiance to both reason and Scripture.
In denying the Scriptures to be the primary or
* See Barclay's Apology; Buck's Theolog. Dict. ; Mosheim; "Adams ; Christian Observer, Review of Clarkson's Life of Penn, 1813 ; Summary of the History, Doctrine, and Discipline of Friends, 8th edit. Lond. Philips.
“ Immediate revelation has not ceased; a measure of light being given to all men, sufficient for the working out of their salvation, unless resisted. This light is not less universal than the seed of sin, and saves those who have not the OUTWARD means of salvation : and it is a divine principle, in which God, as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, dwells ; which the Scriptures call, Christ within, the hope of glory' + inte is
ont Gregory, Church Hist. :
sole standard of faith, and representing them as inferior to a certain inward light in the bosom of every individual, the Quakers destroy all positive certainty in regard to doctrine. On this hypothesis, every man 'may entertain a separate body of opinions, different in some points from those of his brother; and there will be no acknowledged rule to which these discordant pretensions can be referred. “No,” says the Friend, “it is the Spirit who guides individuals, and the Spirit cannot mislead.” But if 'any two Christians, suppose both of them Quakers, differ on any speculative point (and with respect, at least, to the extent to which amusements may be carried, we very well know, they will differ), this argument refutes itself; for might not they, who, to use a coarse though common 'phrase, are termed « Wet Quakers,” who have clipped the rotundity of their hats, dropped the TUTOYING pedantry, and witnessed a rational drama (characters, many among whom are of irreproachable morals), reply to their stricter brethren: “By what right do you exclude us from your society the same inward light by which you are influenced, acquaints us, that in -using greater latitude in dress and discourse, we are not doing what is wrong." How is such a difference to be settled. Not by an appeal.to Scripture, if the Quaker system be admitted; for that were an appeal downwards from the infallible to the less certain authority.
. [17th Cent. · What was the grand and simple principle of Protestantism, allowed in common by the leaders of the Reformation ? Was it not, that the Bible should be referred to as the standard of doctrine? What was the general complaint against the church of Rome? Was it not, that it demanded respect for traditional authority, and imposed articles of belief not warranted by the Sacred Records? While all other denominations of reformers, then, how. ever differing in sentiment, the Calvinist and the Socinian, the Independent and Episcopalian, agree in appealing to the Scriptures as the test of their opinions, and only accuse each other of not interpreting these Scriptures rightly; the Quakers establish a paramount authority to that of the · Bible, depart from the general principle of the Reformation, and revert to that species of error, of which all the reformers complained, as the root of corruptions in the Romish church.
That the Scriptures ought to be acknowledged as the ultimate standard of religious opinion, may - be proved from the following passages : “ From a child thou hast known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation, &c. *" -" That the man of God may be PERFECT; tho- roughly furnished unto all good works.”—“Though
we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other
* 2 Tim. ch. iii. ver. 15, 16, 17.
Gospel than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed, &c. *" .
In setting up an inward revelation of superior authority to Scripture, the Quakers dishonour Scripture. They fling a stone of imputation at its veracity. Scripture is a revelation to be received by faith, as equally certain with any that might be INFALLIBLY whispered to the mind. To reduce it, then, beneath that which we only IMAGINE to be whispered to the mind, is to appeal from faith to supposition ; from what ought to be assurance, to what is, at the best, but fancy ; to what the Quakers themselves acknowledge MAY BE fancy, in appointing judges to examine the qualifications of candidates for the office of teaching in their meetings. . • There is every reason to think, in opposition to the tenets of Quakerism, that immediate revelations have ceased, because the power of working miracles, the only certain test of extraordinary inspiration and assistance, has ceased. And, indeed, so far as we may presume to reason on the dis-, pensations of Providence, the present state of the religious world appears not to require, that the same measure of preternatural aid should be bestowed on Christians, as the first disciples received.
Nec deus intersit nisi dignus vindice nodus
Inciderit, may, with all reverence, be transferred from its
. * Galat. i. 8, 9. ,
original application, to the dealings of the true God. Christianity had to struggle, in its infant years, with the pride of philosophy, the prejudices of Judaisin, the superstitions of pagan worship, not less than with the interests of priests, and the power of magistrates, engaged in support of long-established systems. As the poor, simple, -homble, unlearned fishermen of Galilee could not -surmount obstacles so various and powerful, without the ability of working miracles; they cani hardly be supposed capable of undergoing, with fortitude, the persecutions to which opposition, thus combined and determined, subjected them, unless endowed with an extraordinary afflation of divine succour. But as soon as Christianity had settled itself, or gained a footing in different countries, it is reasonable to suppose, nor are we war- ranted not to suppose, that this latter extraordi“ nary aid was withdrawn along with the former ; and for the same reason, namely, its being no longer necessary. Not that all spiritual aid whatever ceased with the cessation of miraculous gifts : for the depravity of nature is, and ever will be, far : too commanding to be overcome by the power of man, unaided by supernatural influences. Besides, our Saviour declares, “Lo! I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world;" God is with us in his capacity of the third Person of the Trinity. But the aids of his grace are now measured out according to the existing necessitiės of