« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
did our Saviour and his apostles. Hence, the reader may discover, that our practice in this particular, is not hostile to the Scriptures themselves, as Hibbard has affirmed. He also says, page 18, “But for them to
deny the Scriptures to be the word of God, “puts Moses and the prophets in such a
point of light as to oblige the reader to « doubt the truth of what they say. For " their language is, thus saith the Lord. 6 Hear
the word of the Lord God.'» Herein he is utterly mistaken; for, we have an unshaken faith and belief, that it was indeed the word of the Lord which came to Moses and the prophets, even the same divine word which I have described as distinct from the Scriptures ; and that they communicated faithfully to the people, what this word dictated to them ; of which, the Scriptures are a record. We, therefore, believe, with the apostle, that “the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man; holy men of God spake, as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." These written testimonies of the prophets and apostles, as they proceeded from the word of the Lord, through the inspiration of his
r 2 Pet. i. 2.
spirit, are a declaration of that word, but not the word itself : and this is the distinction, as above stated, which we make between the holy and divine word, which came to Moses and the prophets, and the Scriptures, which are a record of the operation of that word.
The foregoing, I apprehend, may sufficiently evince the light in which we view the Scriptures ; and that the reason why we do not call them “ the word of God,” is not to invalidate their divine authority, as Hib. bard alleges; but to place them in a proper point of view; and that our chief aim is to direct the minds of the people to Christ, the divine word, of whom the Scriptures bear ample testimony, as the Saviour and Redeemer of man; and who testifies of him, self, “ I am the way, and the truth, and the Jife : no man cometh unto the Father but by me.
In page 19, he says, " when Quakers re“ject the Scriptures as an all sufficient rule 6 for faith and practice, what will they sub* stitute in its place to try the spirit by, as u it is written, “ Believe not every spirit,
but try the spirits ?" For this we must have
s John, xiv. 6.
" an unerring rule ; one that is given us by “ an unerring God. The Scripture is such “ a rule. But the Quakers have rejected this as a proper
rule.' As I have acknowledged our belief in the Scriptures, as the outward rule to christians, for the proof of doctrine, and the test of the actions of inen; but not the sole or primary director, the spirit of truth being given for this purpose; so the Scriptures direct to the spirit, which is in itself the primary and sufficient rule.
But if the Scriptures were, as Hibbard asserts, the all sufficient and only rule to try the spirits by, what would become of that numerous part of the human family who have not the Scriptures, or any knowledge of them? Are they destitute of a rule? Can it be consistent with the attributes of the Di. vinity, that they are without a rule ? Nay : doubtless, they have an unerring one ; surnished by an unerring God; even as Elihu testified; “ there is a spirit in man, and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding." As this divine principle, or inspiration, is that which gives man a clear discerning betwixt good and evil, so it is
• Job, xxxii. 8.
the same which enables rightly to judge, according to the doctrine of Christ; and when he cautions to beware of false prophets, he says, “ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles ? even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit." Now as the spirit of discerning is requisite, in a certain degree, to discriminate betwixt thing and thing, according to their nature and kind, so the Apostle saith, “ for what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so, the things of God knoweth no man, but the spirit of God.” Neither Christ nor the apostles, gave the scriptures as a rule ; nor was it those which enabled Peter to judge, when he said to Simon Magus," I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and bond of iniquity;" neither was it the scripture, which gave that spirit of discerning to the prophet, by which he detected Gehazi, when, indulging a coretous mind, he had run after Naaman the Syrian for that reward which his master had refused. This divine inspiration, therefore, is the only sufficient rule to try the spirit by,
a Mat. vii. 16, 17.
"1 Cor. ii. 11.
w Acts, viii. 23.
THE NEW BIRTH.
In his second charge against us, page 20, he says, “ Quakers do not believe that the
new birth is an instantaneous work of the “ Holy Spirit. Barclay's Apol. page 368.
Thereby confounding conversion with con66 viction."
When the reader has examined Barclay, as here refered to, he will be able to judge of the rectitude of this inference. But, since it is charged upon us as
an error, I will briefly give our sentiments upon it. are not to limit the power of the Holy One, nor fix
any stated period, wherein the operation of divine Grace shall effect this very important work of conversion, or the new birth ; which, according to my apprehension, implies a thorough change of heart ; as beautifully described by our blessed Lord, in the parable of the leaven, which being hid in the meal, the whole lump became leavened thereby. Thus, when the soul of man is brought into a state of passivity, as represented by the meal, it becomes submissive to, and unites with the operation of the seed of the kingdom ; and the work goes on prosperously, progressing in proportion to the degree of resignation of the soul, upon