Page images
[ocr errors]

Christ are as wrapped up therein ........ a real spiritual substance *," &c.

The Roman Catholic "host" differs from this “principle of Barclay, in being received consciously by the person who swallows it; whereas the “Vehiculum Dei," "seed,” or “principle,” is implanted at the time of the birth of every individual. There appears to me, therefore, to be more semblance of agreement with Scripture in the Catholic's notion, than in Barclay's, because the latter excludes faith entirely, since the introduction of the “Seed ” takes place without the consciousness of the individual receiving it; but it seems, after it has been within him for an indefinite time, he may feel it. The Catholic would consider faith necessary for the worthy reception of the “host.”

William Penn, in his “ Christian Quaker” (chap. 17), says : -“ And as at any time disobedient men have hearkened to the still voice of the Word ....... that very same principle and word of life in man, has mediated and atoned, and God has been propitious t,” &c.

It is difficult to conceive what bad consequences may not result from such a complication of deadly error, by which the very spirit and essence of the Gospel is destroyed.

All this ill-working machinery is evidently the contrivance of the wisdom of man, to do away with Justification by Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. The Catholic prepares a wafer : Barclay fancies a seed, whereof the Scripture knows nothing at all. But seed is spoken of in Scripture ; and as “the primary rule of faith and life is the sensible influences of the Holy Spirit” (see Evans's Exposition, Preface, p. 11)—and the Scripture is only the secondary rule—by the authority of the primary, the secondary may be rendered conveniently pliable ; and therefore Seed, although it be as clear as day that it means, when applied to our blessed Saviour as the "seed of the woman," the Offspring; and, when represented as being scattered by the sower, it means the “word of God,” the Gospel ; yet, as neither of these meanings would at all answer the purpose of supporting the theory of “ Universal and Saving Light,” it must

* For the whole of these passages, see pp. 34, 35. + This most curious account of the all-efficiency of the “ Seed,” or “Principle,” is given more at length in p. 36.

be made to mean the “ Vehiculum Dei,” or the “Inward Light,” “the Principle,” &c. &c., so as to render it unnecessary for mankind to know any thing of the Man Christ Jesus; whereas, alas ! if we eat not the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink not His blood, we have no life in us : in other words, if we do not look to the Lord Jesus as having subjected himself to death for our sakes, that we, instead of the death we deserve, might have life, the Scripture gives us no warrant whatever to hope that we shall have it. For this is the way which God hath appointed to warm our cold hearts, when by his Holy Spirit he quickens us to a sense of our sinful and lost state; then, to be made sensible that we have reconciliation with God by the death of His beloved Son, who gave himself for us, actually receiving in our stead the very shaft of death that must otherwise have pierced and rankled in our hearts eternally, may well move us to the love of God.

But why should the idea of our bringing a seed, an inward light, or an inward principle, into the world with us, or having it implanted in us as soon as we are born, move us to love God more than we should be induced to love Him because he has furnished us with bodily organs, or with intellectual powers ? “ Well, but Christ died that we might have this inward principle bestowed upon us, which if we obey we shall be saved.” Who told us so ? And to such sophistry as this the mournful answer of the honest heart must be, “ Alas! the good that I would I do not; but the evil which I would not, that I dom how am I to be saved by my obedience to an inward principle ? ? None, therefore, but the thorough-going Pharisee, can have satisfaction from this notion of obedience. But what will these do in the end ? A Saviour is as much wanted to atone for our disobedience to the “ seed or “light," as for our breaking the law. If, therefore, the value of his precious blood is exhausted in purchasing this “light” for us, we are left as completely in death and darkness as if there were no such provision supposed; and if in answer to this it be said, as Penn would give us to understand, that by our repentance we may have the benefit of the renewed atonement of “ the Principle,” the same answer must be made as was given at the Reformation concerning the sacrifice of the Mass :-"Either the one sacrifice of the body of Christ. for sin was sufficient, or it was not: If it was sufficient, there

[ocr errors]

can be no occasion for any other; if it was not, no repetition of it, were it possible, can be sufficient.” But to shew that such Quakerism is, in this respect, like Popery-a law of works, not of faith, I have often thought the epitome, given by William Penn in the same tract from which I have already quoted (The Christian Quaker, chap. 14), is


conclusive : “ The way to arrive at Evangelical righteousness, is first to perform the righteousness of the Law. By law I mean, not that of politic shadows and ceremonies, or the external order or policy of the Jews; but that moral and eternal law which is said to have come by Moses (though but repeated and renewed by him), and is accomplished by Christ. And there is great hopes, that they who conscientiously keep the beginning, will com. pass the end. Such as have conquered evil doing, if they be faithful to what they have received of God's Light and Spirit, it will enable them against bad saying, till at last they overcome evil thinking too; and witness that Scripture fulfilled, “ Judgment (the law) is brought forth unto victory (the Gospel),'" &c.

Now we see by this what the wisdom of man, with the highest and most plausible pretensions, would do for us : he would set the folding doors of heaven wide open, so that Turks, Jews, and Heathens may all go in without any difficulty, if they be but faithful to the light ; but, behold! when it comes to the point, they have a certain preliminary to execute, which no mere man has ever yet performed, nor ever will perform to the end of the world. In vain, therefore, is the door set open, for not a mortal can get to the threshold. Well might the inspired Apostle say, that “the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God!” And how fearfully will the wise be taken in their own craftiness, if they imagine they can perform the righteousness of the Law, in any degree, before they come to Christ. No: “ by grace are ye saved through faith ; and that not of yourselves : it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. Wherefore remember," &c. (Eph. ii. 8-11.) Would that we might all know and constantly remember our lost estate, and then we should most thankfully avail ourselves of that amazing grace whereof we have such infinite need !



MYSTICISM is a system of religion originating in the pride and wisdom of fallen human nature, and proceeding on the assumption that without being born again men are “partakers of the Divine nature *.”

It is interesting to trace the first germ of this exotic plant, its subsequent introduction into the Christian enclosure, and the fruits which it has brought forth.

One important consequence of exposing the false spirituality of the mystic writers, will, it is hoped, be to increase our value for the Scripture doctrine of the Holy Spirit in all its fulness; and especially to raise in our estimation the blessing of that indwelling of the Comforter in the hearts of believers in Jesus, which is their exalted privilege, and the earnest of their future inheritance t.

The mind of man is so constituted as to need some religious system, and, when ignorant of Revelation, is prone to attempt to explain that which is connected with the unseen world. Formed with a soul designed for communion with its Creator, but now alienated from the chief good of his existence, he pants after that which is not yet possessed; is attracted by whatever is mysterious ; though, at the same time, awed by the apprehension of unseen Power.

Hence, in an early age of the world, the contemplative portion of mankind in the wide regions of the East, had framed theories to explain the origin of evil, and other mysterious and incompresible subjects. They considered matter, in every form, the source of evil; and, consequently, imagined man's liability to sin to proceed from his connexion with a body of material structure. The soul, on the contrary, they regarded as a portion of Divinity

[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]


-a spark of eternal light, confined, as in a prison, in a body of flesh and sin. Man, therefore, whilst here below, was supposed to be compounded of two principles acting in direct opposition to each other : first, a terrestrial and corrupt or vitiated body; secondly, a soul partaking of the nature of the Deity, and derived from the region of purity and light. Religion consisted in endeavouring, by means of contemplation and abstraction from the body, to disentangle the soul from the defilements of earth, and to return to the source of Deity whence it was derived *.

Thus at the present day the philosophy of the unchanging East teaches, " that every thing we can see, or form any conception of, is to be referred to one or other of two principles-it is either spirit or matter all spirit is God.....God exists without attributes, in a state of eternal repose, unconnected with any of the forms of matter ;-that the spirit of man is individuated Deity; that in its connexion with matter it is degraded and imprisoned; and that the great and only business of man on earth, is to seek deliverance, and to return to the source whence it has been severed. The mode of doing this is by the practice of ceremonies connected with bodily austerities and torture +, which are said to leave spirit, even while in the body, in a state of Divine tranquillity resembling that of God, and to prepare it for reunion with Him. These speculations form the belief of all the Hindoos t.'

Plato, and his kindred band of philosophers among the Greeks, brought this system to perfection ; and if it had been permitted to mortal eye, unaided by Revelation, to scan the deep things of God, one ever promised better for the attempt S.

The following extracts, from a conversation supposed to take place between Socrates and his disciples on the day of his death,

* See Mosheim's “ Commentaries” (Introduction) for a full explanation of these views, Chap. i.

+ One of the means adopted'in order to leave the mind free from interruption, is to turn round until the bodily senses are in a state of suspension.

# “ Missionary Records”. “ India.”

Ś Some scanty rays of light from the Jewish Scriptures had, however, no doubt reached them. (See Dr. A. Clarke's Succession of Sacred Literature, vol. i. p. 248; and Lardner's Works, vol. iv. p. 205.)

« PreviousContinue »