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with Holy Scripture, I shall feel myself indebted to any Christian brother who will kindly correct my error*; for while I must on principle refuse
subscription ” to any human authority, I shall most willingly submit to be tested by the Inspired Writings.
The publication of the “ Beacon," and of some other recent works by members of the Society of Friends, has given greater publicity to the doctrinal differences which exist among us. An increased knowledge of Holy Scripture, and a more implicit deference to its authority, had already manifested the error of certain views, held from educational bias by a large proportion of our members. Many had in consequence left the Society; and the number was rapidly increasing of those who felt dissatisfied, not because “ so narrow a path” was "uncongenial” to them t, (for the Bible had directed them into "the narrow way”), nor because they had any desire to mix in the pleasures or dissipations of the world, but because they were sitting under the ministry of those, who, if they were sound as to their own hope of salvation, did not “ preach unto them Jesus,” but, with a strange peculiarity, kept the
* Having put my name to this little tract, I shall not feel bound to notice any anonymous observations upon it. + See “ A Defence,” &c. by Dr. Hancock, p. 80.
wheat to themselves, leaving the famishing people to perish on the husks.
The more open discussions which have since taken place, have discovered to those who feel dissatisfied, that there are very many who sympathize with them. A religious revival has undoubtedly commenced ; and is it not therefore the duty of those, who, under other circumstances, might feel themselves compelled to resort to the painful alternative of secession, to be willing to go a little longer mourning on their way, in the hope that brighter days are opening upon us, when there will be a large increase of truly anointed ministers; of such as will fully, and faithfully, and fearlessly declare the whole counsel of God- the truth as it is in Jesus-preaching “repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ”-that Gospel of which Paul says, “Though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other Gospel unto you
than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” (Gal. i. 8.)
The present state of our Society is truly a painful one ; yet, as the spirit of inquiry which now prevails, has arisen from a spread of Scriptural information in various ways, its tendency will doubtless be to establish more and more firmly the paramount authority of Holy Scripture, and to remove those obstacles to Evangelical religion, which opi
nions not derived from that source, have raised up and maintained.
“While we strive to follow the example of our Lord, in a continual reference to that which is written, let us never forget that it is' with the heart man believeth unto righteousness. Persons may read and study the Bible-may admit its truthand yet be like a sick man, who, instead of taking the medicine prescribed for his disease, should content himself with analyzing its ingredients. Such a theologian may be a stranger to the actual presence and indwelling of God's testimony in his heart,---may be unacquainted with the fulfilment of the gracious assurance, ' If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.'
The Christian church is awakened from a lengthened slumber; she is shaking off the nightmare of superstition, and the flitting visions of dreamy speculation, and opening her eyes broadly and fearlessly to the light of truth. Upon the shining pathway, which is before her, she will walk in glory and in strength, heedless alike of foes on the one hand or enticements on the other.
“Onward to the goal!” must be the Christian's motto ; and he is not yet fully imbued with the spirit of his Master, who is not prepared to give up every view, or opinion, or practice, however
time-hallowed or however dear, which he discovers to be at variance with the doctrine and testimony of our Divine Saviour and his Inspired Apostles *.
* For this publication the writer is exclusively and individually responsible, with the exception only of such passages as are noted with quotation marks, and also of the various articles in the Appendix. In the course of the work, Italics are frequently employed, to mark emphasis in quotations, in cases, where they may not occur in the original works.
The Elms, near Taunton,
HOLY SCRIPTURE THE TEST
HAVING been, for many years, a close observer of the course of events in the Christian world, and having been deeply interested in noticing, in almost all the different sections into which it is divided, an increasing willingness to submit every doctrine and practice to the test of Scripture, it has not been matter of surprise to me, that our religious society has partaken of this mental movement, and that the study of Holy Scripture has tended to the spread of evangelical religion; nor, that this has occasioned much dissatisfaction with both writers and preachers whose principles do not appear to be in accordance with “ the truth as it is in Jesus."
There are those who have long seen and deplored that there was much, both in the accredited writings of the Society, and in the preaching of many of its acknowledged ministers, which would not bear this test; and to them it has been evident that an increased deference to the authority of Scripture, would, of necessity, bring these erroneous opinions more closely under review, and consequently ex