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sight, except according to the rules which He has laid down ; yet, has not many a man ventured to quiet the consciences of the living, or to console survivors respecting their deceased friends, with an assurance of the safety of individuals, where no evidence had been given of 'repentance toward God, and of faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ?'
STRICTURES ON MISCELLANEOUS PASSAGES IN
DR. HANCOCK'S DEFENCE.
BEFORE entering upon an examination of the main subjects of Dr. Hancock's “Defence”-namely,“ Immediate Revelation, and Universal and Saving Light" -I propose to make a few remarks on some passages which do not properly come under either of these heads.
But I wish first to observe, that there does appear to be in that work so much that is uncandid in inference, and unjust in imputation*, in reference to the “ Beacon,” that one can hardly treat it in the manner it deserves without an appearance of harsh. ness, which no one would more condemn than the amiable author who is the subject of its animadversions. This, however, involves only personal considerations; but in bringing the performance in question to the test of Scripture, no feelings of false delicacy must interfere with a rigid examination and unflinching exposure of those passages, which appear most at variance with that infallible test.
The work, taken as a whole, contains so much
* My readers will see that this is not a groundless assertion, by referring to pages 15, 16, 77, and particularly to 24, 25, where the words " traps ”_"unwary”—“entrap”-“ baits”-“snare
“ stratagem " adversaries,” &c. occur; and also to page 29, where an allusion is made to 6 spiritual wickedness in high places."
that is unscriptural, closely interwoven with great truths about which no orthodox Christians are in doubt, and its general style is so obscure and ambiguous, that it is difficult to expose its erroneous tendencies without an appearance of opposing the truth.
Waving any notice of Dr. Hancock's insinuation, that the “ Beacon" is a covert attack upon the fundamental principles of the Society," I would observe, that in making the gratuitous assumption, that the “ truth of our testimonies” is always to be taken for granted--namely, “those fundamental doctrines which have been professed by the Society of Friends ever since it was established—I mean the doctrines of Immediate Revelation and Universal Saving Light”-it appears to me that he has entirely mistaken his correct course as a Christian controversialist. For, instead of Dr. H.'s “ business" being, as he states, “chiefly, if not entirely, with the question, whether his " (the author of the Beacon's)
opinions correspond with the avowed doctrines of the Society;" his first “business" certainly was, when taking part in a doctrinal controversy, to prove that the opinions to which he objects were not coincident with Holy Scripture. This is manifestly the course which he ought to have pursued, to be consistent with the avowal he makes in p. 17 : “I prove my own opinion of the Holy Scriptures by the acknowledgment, as well as the fact, that I endeavour to support every one of my religious principles by their authority, and that I consider every opinion which has not their support must fall to the ground.” And again, in p. 22 : “ Neither the opinion
of Robert Barclay, nor that of any other man, would weigh with me, if I did not consider that it was founded on a correct and enlarged view of Scripture doctrine." Yet at the same time, as if to court the charge of inconsistency, he says, in the succeeding paragraph, “I quote the Apology of Robert Barclay, concluding that one" (the author of the Beacon) " who is now a minister, in outward fellowship in the same Society with myself, can hardly be supposed to have thrown off the authority of a work so justly esteemed as it is amongst us; for this would imply that his departure from the ground of our testimonies was greater than I am yet willing to believe it to be.”
Considerable stress being laid in the “ Defence" upon what its author designates a departure from the true foundation, it appears important to exhibit, so far as we can gather it, what he supposes the true foundation to be, and then to state the plain doctrine of Holy Scripture; for where its declarations are clear and explicit, a Christian writer is not justified in being doubtful.
In p. 3, Dr. Hancock says, in reference to Hicks, ism, that he believes “ the sober-minded members of our Society generally, on this side of the Atlantic, are too firmly established on the right foundation, to manifest any tendency to fall off into that lamentable error, which has characterised the defection of Elias Hicks.”
In p. 5, when endeavouring to shew that the doc. trine of Immediate Revelation is assailed, though aware that the author of the Beacon is " disposed to admit, theoretically at least, the immediate influence of the Holy Spirit,” Dr. H. calls this “one of the
inconsistencies into which men are apt to fall when they leave the true foundation."
In p. 16, we have the following passage :-" The principles of the Society are well known; and though some have been ready, in every age since it was established, to slide from the foundation, those who are unstable in the present day, whether few or many, will never shake the foundation itself ; for the principles we profess are built upon the unchangeable and eternal truth of God.” As the author does not de. clare what the “ foundation" is from which some have in every age been ready to slide, and which can never be shaken by the unstable, it is impossible to estimate the correctness of this positive assertion. It is indeed true, that he tells us our principles are built
upon the eternal truth of God; but he does not add, as revealed to us in Holy Writ; and we are there. fore left to conjecture the meaning he may attach even to that term, which has a Neologian obscurity about it, calculated to excite suspicion. Surely Dr. Hancock must know, that the ancient philosophers of Persia, Egypt, and Greece, talked much and learnedly about “ eternal truth.” Christians must not, therefore, leave the sense in which they employ such terms to mere conjecture.
The next place in which “ true foundation” occurs is p. 58; but as I shall have occasion to quote this passage subsequently, I shall now only remark, that here also we are left in entire uncertainty as to the author's meaning.
The allusions to the foundation in the following paragraph (pp. 77, 78) are equally obscure and objectionable.“ This, if a true picture, is in itself a