Page images
PDF
EPUB

But this state of manhood, “ by which the man of God may be made perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works*, does not take place till Christ be fully formed in the souls of believers, or till they are brought wholly under his rule and government. He must be substantially formed in them. He must actually be their life and their hope of glory. He must be their head and governor.

As the head and the body and the members are one, according to the apostle, but the head directs; so Christ, and believers in whom Christ is born and formed, are one spiritual body, which he himself must direct also. Thus Christ, where he is fully formed in man, or where believers are grown up to the measure of the stature and fulness of sonship, is the head of every man, and God is the head of Christ. Thus Christ the begotten entirely governs the whole man, as the head directs and governs all the members of the body; and God the Father, as the head of Christ, entirely guides and governs the begotten. Hence, believers “are Christ's, and Christ is God's t:" so that ultimately God is all in all. * 2 Tim. iii. 17.

t i Cor. iii. 23.

Having given this new view of the subject, I shall only observe further upon it, that the substance of this chapter turns out to be the same as that of the preceding; or, that inward redemption cannot be effected but through the medium of the Spirit of God. For Christ, according to the ideas now held out, must be born in men, and he must be formed in them, and he must rule them, before they can experience full inward redemption ; or, in other words, they cannot experience this inward redemption, except they can truly say that he governs them, or except they can truly call him Governor or Lord. But no person can say that Christ rules in him, except he undergoes the spiritual process of regeneration which has been described; or, to use the words of the apostle, “* no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Spiritt.”

* i Cor. xii. 3.

+ The reader will easily discern from this new view of the new birth, how men, according to the Quakers, become partakers of the divine nature, and how the Quakers make it out that Abraham and others saw Christ's day, as I mentioned in a former chapter.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]
[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

CHAPTER VIII.

SECTION I.

Quakers believe from the foregoing account thut

redemption is possible to all-hence they deny the doctrine of Election and Reprobation-do not deny the texts on which it is founded, lut the interpretation of them as contrary to the doctrines of Jesus Christ and the apostles13 making his mission unnecessary-as rendering many precepts uselessand as casting a stain

on the character and attributes of God. It will appear from the foregoing observations, that it is the belief of the Quakers that every man has the power of inward redemption within himself, who attends to the strivings of the Holy Spirit; and that as outward redemption by the sufferings of Jesus Christ extends to all, where the inward has taken place, so redemption or salvation, in its full extent, is possible to every individual of the human race. This position, however, is denied by those

Christians

Christians who have pronounced in favour of the doctrine of Election and Reprobation; because, if they believe some were predestinated from all eternity to eternal happiness, and the rest to eternal misery, they must then believe that salvation is not possible to all, and that it was not intended to be universal.

The Quakers have attempted to answer the objections which have been thus made to their theory of redemption. And as the reader will probably expect that I should notice what they have said upon this subject,. I have reserved the answers they have given for the present place.

The Quakers do not deny the genuineness of any of those texts which are usually advanced against them. Of all people they fly the least to the cover of interpolation or mutilation of Scripture, to shield themselves from the strokes of their opponents. They 'believe, however, that there are passages in the Sacred Writings which will admit of an interpretation different from that which has been assigned them by many; and upon this they principally rely in the present case. If there are passages to which two meanings

may

may be annexed, and if for one there is equal authority as for the other; yet if one meaning should destroy all the most glorious attributes of the Supreme Being, and the other should preserve them as recognised in the other

parts of the Scripture, they think they are bound to receive that which favours the justice, mercy, and wisdom of God, rather than that which makes him appear both unjust and cruel,

The Quakers believe that some Christians have misunderstood the texts which they quote in favour of the doctrine of Election and Reprobation, for the following reasons:

First, because, if God had from all eternity predestinated some to eternal happiness, and the rest to eternal misery, the mission of Jesus Christ upon earth became unnecessary, and his mediation ineffectual.

If this, again, had been a fundamental doctrine of Christianity, it never could have been overlooked (considering that it is of more importance to men than any other) by the Founder of that religion. But he never delivered any words in the course of his ministry, from whence any reasonable conclusion could be drawn, that such a doctrine

formed

a

« PreviousContinue »