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sent to France, to Switzerland, to Italy, to Greece, to Germany, to Russia, and even to the islands of the South Seas? Can those Friends, who have been thus zealous in their distribution, really know what opinions they are thereby attempting to disseminate? Can they be aware that the former, in addition to much other objectionable matter, contains a tract * which, to the present day, is reprinted and circulated by the Unitarians, as a masterly defence of their doctrines; and that the latter revives the vain at, tempt to assimilate the Platonic philosophy with the truths of Revelation ?
When we consider the peculiar circumstances of our Society in America, we shall see, in its late spiritual desolation, the natural consequences of indifference to the possession of the Scriptures t,
* It may be replied, that Penn, when told that he had given great offence to the Christian world by this unsound tract, « The Sandy Foundation Shaken,” wrote another to explain it. But this made the matter almost worse ; for though his object in doing it was to prove his orthodoxy, he explains himself in so halting and unsatisfactory a manner as to leave a strong impression that his views were not clear and evangelical. So notorious was the character of the tract in question, that Evelyn, the well-known author of “ Sylva,” makes the following entry in his Diary :-“ 1669. 1 Jan. About this time one of Sr Wm Pen's sonns had publish'd a blasphemous book against the Deity of our blessed Lord.” (Evelyn's Memoirs, 4to. 1818, vol. i. p. 396.) -I am the more impressed with these facts, from the circumstance of having been asked by a Unitarian minister, how it was that one of our ministers was, as he termed it, preaching a crusade against Unitarianism, while they considered Penn as one of their able defenders ? It is, however, comforting to have reason to believe that this great man's sentiments became much more scriptural at a later period of his life.
+ As a lamentable proof of this, the Friends in America almost uniformly refused to unite with their fellow-Christians in Bible Societies. And it is now evident that the Friends in America protested against the ignorant blasphemies of Elias Hicks and his deluded followers, but not against the source from which they sprang.
The awful maturity to which that frightful heresy attained
of neglect of their study, and of opposition to their authority, united with a most culpable deficiency in religious education, which generally prevailed in that country.
It can therefore be no matter of surprise that doctrinal errors of the most serious character should there have taken such firm root; or that in this country very questionable views should be held by those who, it may be feared, restrict themselves too exclusively to the writings of our early Friends. It
may be observed, in reference to the most offensive passages in general, and to the blasphemous ones in particular, which are quoted in the "Beacon," from Hicks and his deluded disciples, that we may rejoice in the hope that there is not a minister in our Society who would unite with them. At the same time, it cannot be denied that many of the remaining passages present no unfair specimen of the style of preaching, which at one time prevailed to a fearful extent in this country, and which is now but too frequently heard.
Under such preaching, the conscience-smitten sinner who should be anxiously inquiring,
" What must I do to be saved?” would in vain listen for the inspired Apostle's answer,
« Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved ; but, on the contrary, would be directed to the “ seed” within him; to the “ inward light,” which, if dwelt under and obeyed, would in due time soften and prepare his in America, was the natural result of a degree of scriptural ignorance that is happily unknown in this country.
* Of a large proportion of these passages, (and the most shocking are not quoted in the “ Beacon"), it may be most correctly said, that their depravity is only equalled by the gross ignorance they evince.
mind " by the operation of something good," and ultimately justify, sanctify, and everlastingly save *.
It would be difficult justly to characterize this style of preaching without being offensive. It is, however, easy to shew that it is not the preaching of the Gospel, --because it does not inculcate
repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ;” because it does not teach the necessity of coming in faith to the foot of the Cross, there to be delivered from the guilt and condemnation of sin; of “ looking unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith,
," or who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justifica
because it speaks not of that mystery of redemption —“God manifest in the flesh” — “ that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them ; and hath committed unto us ” (his ministers) “ the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us : we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin ; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him t.” (2 Cor. v. 19-21.)
* Dr. Hancock speaks, in page 70 of the “ Defence,” of the operation of something good (in their minds) which“
gave them this faith.” The Bible says, “ By grace are ye saved, through
and that not of yourselves : it is the gift of God” (Eph. ii. 8); and, that “in me”-that is, in man—" dwelleth no good thing."
† It was beautifully said, by one of our true Gospel ministers of the present day, “ We do not want an argumentative ministry, or an eloquent ministry: what we want, is a ministry that can break the heart and that can heal the heart-a ministry that directs the hearer to Christ; that brings him to Christ, and that leaves him there."
How sublimely simple is the scriptural scheme of salvation by faith in the Son of God, when compared with the deep and mystical philosophizings of the schoolmen! how exactly suited to the fallen and helpless condition of man! But, alas ! it is too simple for his proud heart ; he must have some doings or deservings whereby to merit God's favour, and come before Him with acceptance. He will go about to establish his own righteousness, and therefore he will not humbly and thankfully submit to be saved by the righteousness of Christ. He will strive to merit by obedience,” that which is declared to be the free “ gift of God” – namely, “ eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
"Nothing is so opposed to the carnal wisdom of man, as preaching that the cross of Christ is the power of God unto salvation. Truly, herein he hath made foolish the wisdom of this world. Ecclesiastical history loudly proclaims the fact, that professing Christians have sought to reach heaven by almost any other means, rather than by faith in Him whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation for our sins. Sincerity of purpose, alms-giving, submission to church authority, even the persecution of heretics, and a multitude of voluntary humiliations, have been promulgated as the means whereby fallen man might entitle himself to Divine acceptance.
“In proportion as there is a turning from the great doctrine, that those who are justified by faith have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, do men establish some other law for the guidance of the conscience, rather than the law of the Lord, which is perfect, converting the soul; and which, whether
revealed under the Mosaic dispensation, or ratified by the Christian, is a law of perfect love to Godtruly a most reasonable service, yet one which no child of Adam has ever fully rendered to the bounteous Giver of all good.
“The peculiar danger to which Friends are exposed, is a proneness to substitute their own individual impressions of duty for the will of the Lord revealed in the Bible; and they may thus fall into most pernicious Antinomianism. Persons who have entertained the unscriptural idea, that our duties are chiefly to be learnt by the present feeling of comfort or uneasiness, may probably find cause for deep repentance, on examining their own, thus sanctioned, deviations from the spirituality of the Divine law. Nonconformity to the customs of the world in some respects, may have taken the place which should have been filled by the faith that overcomes the world; and, under some profession of self-denial, the love of riches may have been indulged, and the praise of men may have been eagerly sought for, solemn as is the warning of Scripture upon these points. A man may have supposed himself to be piously defending the faith, whilst indulging a carnal mind in his sectarian adherence to his favourite teachers, refusing to acknowledge the Gospel bond of brotherhood ; neither his words nor actions uttering the language, 'Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity.' The Scriptures teach us that all judgment is committed unto the Son of Man; nor is there any promise that fallible mortals shall receive power to ascertain the acceptance of their brethren in His