Page images
PDF
EPUB

junctive therewith, to constitute it “ a true founi.. tion.”

On this ground, how would Dr. H. venture to enter upon a controversy with a Roman Catholic priest on the authority of the church? How could he combat the opinions of the ancient Fathers of the second and third centuries, but by giving up his own traditional views, and taking his stand on the broad, impregnable basis of the Reformation-namely, the paramount authority of Holy Scripture? Let him dare the conflict on his own mixed authority. Will not the Roman Catholic insist, and with great reason, that the authenticated writings and received traditions of the ancient Fathers, some of whom were contemporaries with the Apostles, and had the benefit of their oral instructions, must surely be of far greater weight and authority, than the peculiar opinions of a handful of simple and mostly unlettered men, however well-meaning and pious, who appeared in the seventeenth century? Cannot Dr. H., and those who think with him, see their danger—that, with this antiprotestant admission of the authority of something as independent of, and having equal weight with, the written word, the Jesuit would drive them, however reluctantly, to the very gates of the Vatican ?

In short, give up the grand principle of the Reformation, that " the Bible, and the Bible only, is the religion of Protestants,” and where is our barrier against Popery on the one hand, and fanaticism on the other? Even weaken it, by undervaluing the Scriptures, and by allowing them only a kind of subordinate authority, and specious errors and dangerous

doctrines will creep in, under the guise, it may be, of high spirituality, and undermine the faith of the church.

The New Testament says of the Holy Scriptures, that they are able to make men wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus ;” but Dr. H. says, in effect, in the passage we are considering, Nothey may make a man of another denomination wise unto salvation, but they will never make a true Quaker. And in conformity with this remarkable sentiment, and in confirmation of it, we find him asserting (p. 8), that, “if nothing but the light and knowledge of Scripture had operated upon the minds of men, then, I believe, our religious Society never would have had an exist ence. For, they” (Fox and Penn) “were taught immediately by Christ, and they directed all to Christ.”

Now this is no less than an assumption of a new revelation, independent of, and in addition to, the revelation of the will of God in Holy Scripture,-a revival of Barclay's assertion, that “The Lord God

* hath been pleased to reserve the more full discovery of this glorious and evangelical dispensation to this our age.”(Apology, Props. v. and vi. §. 10.)

Thus, indeed, when men leave the true “ foundation of the Apostles and Prophets," and build on any thing else, their works will sooner or later be betrayed by the sandy foundation on which they have been erected.

The more I have examined the “ Defence,” compared one part with another, and carefully analyzed some of its obscure and ambiguous passages, the more I have seen to disapprove in its general tone and tendency, and in the views which it attempts to

* *

defend. Has it never occurred to Dr. Hancock, that a first step was wanting-namely, the proof of the accordance of Barclay with Holy Scripture? This question is certainly not an unfair one, since Dr. H. assumes that we are to defer to that author as

authority,” and at the same time desires to “ rest entirely on the authority of Holy Scripture."

OF IMMEDIATE REVELATION.

The two main principles for which Dr. Hancock contends as essential to Quakerism, are “ the doctrines of Immediate Revelation, and Universal and Saving Light." In considering these doctrines, my chief object will be, simply to shew that they are not, as he states them, in accordance with the written word of God. That they were held much in the same manner both by Barclay and Penn, I not only freely admit, but shall bring extracts from their works to prove. This, however, does not affect the question. If these doctrines are unscriptural, we, as Christians, must not retain them. My readers will therefore see, that it will not at all affect my opinions to be told, that the views, now so strenuously brought out into unwonted prominence by Dr. Hancock, are those of Penn and Barclay. Great men they were learned men-illustrious in their day—men eminent for piety, virtue, high honour, unflinching courage, unblemished reputation. They adopted with youthful ardour the spiritual views of the early Friends; and, excited by the heroic courage and Christian fortitude with which they bore up against the cruel and vulgar persecution of their day, they stood up in the breach like veteran champions; and, young as they were, each, in his own peculiar sphere, acted the part of a David against the Goliath of oppression.

1

But they were both schoolmen ; their theological treatises were respectively written when both were very young, fresh from college, and full of the Scholastic Theology of their day. They systematized the mass of crude materials before them; and, carrying out some doctrines, at that day much overlooked by many religious professors, into undue because exclusive prominence, and sustaining their views of others by restricted interpretations of insulated passages of Scripture, they not only threw into the shade doctrines both true and essential, but sought to defend their particular views, less by the New Testament, than by the Christian Fathers and the Heathen Philosophers.

In reference to the doctrine of “ Immediate Revelation,” to which subject Dr. Hancock devotes (professedly) thirteen pages : he appears chiefly to be contending against certain errors and misconceptions, which really have no existence but in his own fearful apprehensions; for, allowing, as every candid mind would wish to do, that by his questionable term, “ Immediate Revelation,” he only means to describe the Scriptural doctrine of the influence of the Holy Spirit, as promised to all believers, and most especially to those who may be called to labour in word and doctrine, there remains little to object against; though a certain interpretation of some of his expressions here, and more especially the following quotations from an earlier part of his work, would involve opinions widely differing from the scriptural doctrine

Now, while I believe in the unanswerable soundness of Robert Barclay's Propositions, that 'Inward,

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »