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From Dr. Hancock's “Defence."-"Now I have two reasons for quoting the authority of Robert Barclay. First, because I believe that his arguments remain not only unrefuted, but unanswerable,” &c. “Secondly, I quote the Apology of Robert Barclay, concluding that one 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 " (the author of the Beacon's) “ departure from the ground of our testimonies was greater than I am yet willing to believe it to be.” (p. 22.)
“ If there were not this seed, or gift, or talent, placed within us, the discovery of Divine truth never could be made congenial to us, because there would be nothing by which it could be received, and to which it could be assimilated." (p. 20.)
“If it be right to call that a principle which we believe to be a spiritual substance.” (p. 45.)
“ I have before alluded to the notion that something has been placed in the human heart, without which it would scarcely be reasonable, or according to analogy; to expect that any good thing, such as truth or virtue, could be received and substantially appropriated, so as to make a saving impression,” &c. (p.61.)
“ It might, indeed, be a question with many, whether it was first implanted by our blessed Saviour when he was in the world, and by the Apostles in his name afterwards, or had a previous existence from the beginning." (p. 62.)
“ Some had faith in him (Christ) and some had it not :--some, in fact, were softened and prepared in
their minds previously, by the operation of something good, which gave them this faith.” (p. 70.)
Thus we see that this “ Universal and Saving Light" is, according to Barclay, “a spiritual, hea., venly, and invisible principle, in which God, as Father, Son, and Spirit, dwells"--"a vehiculum Dei.” It is not the Father, it is not the Son, it is not the Holy Spirit, it is not "an accident;" but“ a real spiritual substance,” in which “ God and Christ are as wrapped up*."
“ It is universal and saving."—Now that which is universal and saving, must be of God; nothing short of Deity can save. “I, even I, am Jehovah ; and beside me there is no Saviour" (Isa. xliii. 11). It therefore follows, as it is not God, but a principle, in which Father, Son, and Holy Spirit dwells," that Barclay sets up the monstrous notion of a fourth manifestation of Deity! Now in all Christian candour I can see no fair escape from this conclusion. Are we to be burdened with this mystical incubus, and to be liable to be cast back upon this Platonic doctrine by almost every expositor of our principles ?
Thus did the very men, who so dreaded and decried all theological terms of human devising, that they rejected the word “ Trinity" because not found in
To those who incline to investigate the subject, a very striking analogy will be found to exist between this mystical notion and the Popish doctrine of transubstantiation (see Appendix A); and it is remarkable that Barclay adopts, almost verbatim, the terms of the Council of Trent-viz. after describing the process, they say the bread then becomes a principle in which God dwells, as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit." Where is Scripture authority for either?
Holy Writ, revive in the seventeenth century the mysticism * of the ancient Greek philosophizing Fathers, who too successfully strove to graft Christianity on the Platonic philosophy t, and thus gave rise to numerous errors, the more dangerous because they flattered the proud, unregenerate heart of man; -errors which find their support, not in the written word of God, but in the occult mysteries of Heathen philosophy, and are only to be expressed in terms of human devising 1. Try the doctrine as stated by Barclay, Penn, and others, by the written word of God, and the whole falls to pieces like a rope of sand.
The ineffectual efforts of the human mind in its highest state of intellectual attainment and philosophical enlightenment,-its agonizings to reach forth after the hidden treasures of the highest good,-are affecting proofs of man's loss by the Fall, and of the truth of the testimony of Holy Writ, that, in its degenerate state of mental darkness and perversion, “ the world by wisdom knew not God!”
Now if the knowledge of God and of His law could have been attained by the reachings forth of
* I refer my readers to the Appendix B-article, “ Notes on Mysticism,” by my friend John Eliot Howard—for a more full exposition of the origin of mysticism in the Christian church ;an article which is well worth an attentive perusal.
+ " Clement of Alexandria declares the Divine origin of the Eclectic philosophy.” “ He assigned a measure of inspiration to the Greek poets.” -“ Justin Martyr, and his pupil Athenagoras, both entertained the same opinion.”-“ Clement dearly loved the Greek philosophy, and the design of nearly all his (remaining) works is to harmonize the Eclectic system to that of Christianity.”—(Doctrinal Errors, pp. 32, 33, 157.)
Doctrinal Errors, p. 83: “ There is not a more copious source of inconvenience and error than these departures from Scripture phraseology, in treating upon matters whereof we know nothing but from thence.”
philosophy, the disciples of the “Divine Plato," as he has been called, would have been likely to attain unto it; but the most simple, unlettered Christian, and the humble Sabbath-school child, with the Bible in their hands, stand superior to the most erudite disciple of the Grove or the Academy, and are able to explain things which to him were utterly inexplicable.
Is it not well worthy of serious investigation, whether here, as on other points, Friends have not adopted confused notions in consequence of a want of simple and implicit reference to Holy Scripture? Have they not in this case, at least in words, if not in intention, mixed up confusedly the blessed doctrine of the influence of the Holy Spirit, as promised to believers, with an indefinite “ something”. ward light”—"a heavenly and invisible principle”. “ a substance "_"a holy seed ?" If the Holy Spirit, whether designated as the Spirit, the Spirit of God, or the Spirit of Christ, be intended by these terms, then the doctrine of Scripture respecting His presence and influences is clear and explicit : if something else be meant, where is the authority of Scripture on which it rests ?
It is remarkable, that there is no such term in Holy Scripture as “ Universal and Saving Light," “ Universal Light,” or
Saving Light;" but these terms, like some others equally unscriptural, have been so long current among us, that many, I doubt not, believe they are to be found in the New Testament: and have we not here a practical illustration of the evil resulting from the use of conventional terms on points of doctrine ?
The passage of Scripture on which the defenders
of this doctrine lay the greatest stress is, " That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world” (John i.9). I may here remark, that commentators entertain different opinions as to its right interpretation, and, among other reasons, because the words “all" and "every," when used in Scripture, have often a limited signification. Thus Christ says, “ The Law and the Prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it (Luke xvi. 16). But even taking the passage (John i. 9) in its literal interpretation, it affords no support to the strange doctrine of Barclay. It is stated by the Apostle, most unequivocally, that the Light of which he speaks was Christ. Now Barclay says as expressly, that his
light” is a spiritual, heavenly, invisible principle, a “vehiculum Dei," in which “God, as Father, Son, and Spirit, dwells,"_"a substance,"_" a holy seed."
In the following passages, it is worthy of remark that the term “light,” though alluded to in different ways, and with various significations, is almost invariably spoken of as that which is to be communicated in mercy. "A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel” (Luke ii. 32). “I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles” (Isa. xlix. 6). And “ The Gentiles shall come to thy light” (Isa. Ix. 3). “ The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light : they that dwell in the land of the shadow of ath, upon them hath the light shined" (Isa. ix. 2): namely, by the coming of Christ. “ God is the Lord which hath shewed us light” (Ps. cxviii. 27). “For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord : walk as children of the light" (Eph. v. 8); and in verse 14, “ Awake, thou