Page images
PDF
EPUB

permitted unto them to speak. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home ; for it is a shame for women to speak in the church," 1 Cor. xiv, 34, 35.

Robert Barclay, indeed, says, “ Paul here only reproves the inconsiderate and talkative women.”

But the text says no such thing. It evidently speaks of women in general.

Again: The Apostle Paul saith to Timothy, “ Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.

For I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man," (which public teaching necessarily implies,)“ but to be in silence,I Tim. ïi, 11, 12.

To this Robert Barclay makes only that harmless reply: 6 We think this is not anyways repugnant to this doctrine.' Not repugnant to this, "I do suffer a woman to teach !" Then I know not what is.

“But a woman • laboured with Paul in the work of the gospel."" Yea, but not in the way he had himself expressly forbidden. • “But Joel foretold, your sons and your daughters shall prophesy.'. And Philip had four daughters which prophesied. And the Apostle himself directs women to prophesy; only with their heads covered.”

Very good. But how do you prove that prophesying in any of these places means preaching?

11. All true worship to God is offered in the inward and immediate moving of his own Spirit. We ought not to pray or preach where and when we will, but where and when we are moved thereto by his Spirit. All other worship, both praises, prayers, and preachings, which man sets about in his own will, and at his own appointment, which he can begin and end at pleagure, do or leave undone, as himself sees meet, are but superstitions, willworship, and abominable idolatries.”

Here lies one of the main differences between Quakerism and Christianity.

It is true indeed, that “all true worship to God is offered in the inward and immediate moving of his own Spirit;" or, (to speak plain,) that we cannot truly worship God, unless his Spirit move or incline our hearts. It is equally true, that " we ought to pray and preach, only where and when we are moved thereto by his Spirit ;" but I fear you do not in anywise understand what the being “moved by his Spirit” means. God moves man whom he has made a reasonable creature, according to the reason which he has given him. He moves him by his understanding, as well as his affections, by light as well as by heat. He moves him to do this or that by conviction, full as often as by desire. Accordingly, you are as really "moved by the Spirit” when he convinces you you ought to feed him that is hungry, as when he gives you ever so strong an impulse, desire, or inclination so to do. In like manner, you are as really moved by the Spirit to pray,

whether it be in public or private, when you have a conviction it is the will of God you should, as when you have the strongest impulse upon your heart. And he does truly move you to preach, when in his light you “ see light” clearly satisfying you it is his will; as much as when you feel the most vehement impulse or desire to "hold forth the words of eternal life.”

Now let us consider the main proposition : “ All worship which man sets about in his own will, and at his own appointment-Hold! that is quite another thing. It may be at his own appointment, and yet not in his own will; for instance: It is not my own will to preach at all. It is quite contrary to my will. Many a time have I cried out, “ Lord, send by whom thou wilt send ; only send not me!" But I am moved by the Spirit of God to preach : He clearly shows me it is his will I should ; and that I should do it when and where the greatest number of poor sinners may be gathered together. Moved by him, I give up my will, and appoint a time and place, when by his power I trust to speak in his name.

How widely different, then, from true Christianity is that amazing sentence: “ All praises, prayers, and preachings which man can begin and end at his pleasure, do or leave undone, as himself sees meet, are superstitions, will-worship, and abominable idolatry in the sight of God !"

There is not one tittle of Scripture for this; nor yet is there any sound reason. When you take it for granted, “In all preachings which a man begins or ends at his pleasure, does or leaves undone as he sees meet, he is not moved by the Spirit of God,” you are too hasty a great deal. It may be by the Spirit that he sees meet to do or leave it undone. How will you prove that it is not? His pleasure may depend on the pleasure of God, signified to him by his Spirit. His appointing this or that time or place does in nowise prove the contrary. Prove me that proposition if you can: “Every man who preaches or prays at an appointed time, preaches or prays in his own will, and not by the Spirit.”

That “all such preaching is will-worship, in the sense St. Paul uses the word,” is no more true than that it is murder. That it is superstition, remains also to be proved. That it is abominable idolatry, how will you reconcile with what follows but a few lines after ? “ However it might please God, who winked at the times of ignorance, to raise some breathings and answer them.” What! answer the breathings of abominable idolatry! I observe how warily this is worded; but it allows enough. If God ever raised and answered those prayers which were made at set times, then those prayers could not be abominable idolatry.

Again : That prayers and preachings, though made at appointed times, may yet proceed from the Spirit of God, may be clearly proved from those other words of Robert Barclay himself, p. 389 :

" That preaching or prayer which is not done by the actings and movings of God's Spirit cannot beget faith.” Most true.

But preaching and prayer at appointed times have begotten faith both at Bristol and Paulton. You know it well. Therefore that preaching and prayer, though at appointed times, was “done by the actings and movings of God's Spirit."

It follows that this preaching and prayer were far from “ abominable idolatry.” That expression can never be defended. Say, It was a rash word, and give it up.

In truth, from the beginning to the end, you set this matter upon a wrong foundation.

It is not on this circumstance,-the being at set times or not, that the acceptableness of our prayers depends; but on the intention and tempers with which we pray. He that prays in faith, at whatsoever time, is heard. In every time and place, God accepts him who lifts up holy hands, without wrath or doubting.” The charge of superstition, therefore, returns upon yourself; for what gross superstition is this, to lay so much stress on an indifferent circumstance, and so little on faith and the love of God!

But to proceed: “We confess singing of psalms to be a part of God's wor. ship, and very sweet and refreshful when it proceeds from a true sense of God's love; but as for formal singing, it has no foundation in Scripture."

In this there is no difference between Quakerism and Christianity.

But let it be observed here, that the Quakers in general cannot be excused, if this is true. For if they “confess singing of psalms to be a part of God's worship,” how dare they either condemn or neglect it?

“ Silence is a principal part of God's worship; that is, men's sitting silent together, ceasing from all outwards, from their own words and actings, in the natural will and comprehension, and feeling after the inward seed of life."

In this there is a manifest difference between Quakerism and Christianity.

This is will-worship, if there be any such thing under heaven. For there is neither command nor example for it in Scripture.

Robert Barclay indeed refers to abundance of scriptures to prove it is a command. But as he did not see good to set them down at length, I will take the trouble to transcribe a few of them :

“ Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart," Psalm xxvii, 14. “ Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently; fret not thyself at him who prospereth in his way. “ Wait on the Lord, and keep his way, and he shall exalt thee to inherit the land," Psalm xxxvii, 7, 34. “Say not thou, I will recompense evil; but wait on the Lord, and he shall save thee,” Prov. xx, 22.

By these one may judge of the rest. But how amazing is this ! What are all these to the point in question ?

For examples of silent meetings he refers to the five texts following:

“ They were all with one accord in one place,” Acts ii, 1. “ So they sat down with him seven days and seven nights, and none spake a word unto him: for they saw that his grief was very great," Job ii, 13.

“ Then were assembled unto me every one that trembled at the words of God. And I sat astonied until the evening sacrifice," Ezra ix, 4. “ Then came certain of the elders of Israel unto me, and sat before me,” Ezek. xiv, 1 ; xx, 1.

Was it possible for Robert Barclay to believe, that any one of these texts was any thing to the purpose ?

The odd expressions here also, “Ceasing from all outwards, in the natural will and comprehension, and feeling after the inward seed of life," are borrowed from Jacob Behmen.

12. As there is one Lord and one faith, so there is one baptism." Yea, one outward baptism ; which you deny. Here, therefore, is another difference between Quakerism and Christianity.

But “if those whom John baptized with water were not baptized with the baptism of Christ, then the baptism of water is not the baptism of Christ.”

This is a mere quibble. The sequel ought to be, “ Then that baptism of water" (that is, John's baptism) “was not the baptism of Christ.” Who says it was ?

Yet Robert Barclay is so fond of this argument, that he repeats it almost in the same words :

“ If John, who administered the baptism of water, yet did not baptize with the baptism of Christ, then the baptism of water is not the baptism of Christ."

This is the same fallacy still. The sequel here also should be, “Then that baptism of water was not the baptism of Christ.”

He repeats it with a little variation a third time: “Christ himself saith, John baptized with water, but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost.'»

He repeats it a fourth time: “ Peter saith, Then remembered I the word of the Lord, John baptized with water, but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost.' From all which it follows, that such as John baptized with water, yet were not baptized with the baptism of Christ.” Very true. But this proves neither more nor less than that the baptism of John differed from the baptism of Christ. And so doubtless it did; not indeed as to the outward sign, but as to the inward grace.

13. The breaking of bread by Christ with his disciples was but a figure, and ceases in such as have obtained the substance."

Here is another manifest difference between Quakerism and Christianity.

From the very time that our Lord gave that command, “Do this in remembrance of me,” all Christians throughout the habitable world did eat bread and drink wine in remembrance of him.

Allowing, therefore, all that Robert Barclay affirms for eighteen or twenty pages together, viz. (1.) That believers partake of the body and blood of Christ in a spiritual manner : (2.) That this may be done, in some sense, when we are not eating bread and drinking wine : (3.) That the Lutherans, Calvinists, and Papists, differ from each other, with regard to the Lord's Supper : And, (4.) That many of them have spoken wildly and absurdly concerning it: yet all this will never prove, that we need not do what Christ has expressly commanded to be done; and what the whole body of Christians in all ages have done, in obedience to that command.

That there was such a command, you cannot deny. But you say, “ It is ceased in such as have obtained the substance."

St. Paul knew nothing of this. He says nothing of its ceasing in all he writes of it to the Corinthians. Nay, quite the contrary. He says, “ As often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death till he come.” O, say you, the Apostle means “his inward coming, which some of the Corinthians had not yet known.” Nay, this cannot be his meaning. For he saith to all the Corinthian communicants, “Ye do show the Lord's death till he come.” Now, if he was not come (spiritually) in some of these, undoubtedly he was in others. Consequently, he cannot be speaking here of that coming which, in many of them at least, was already past. It remains, that he speaks of his coming in the clouds, to judge both the quick and dead.

In what Robert Barclay teaches concerning the Scriptures, justification, baptism, and the Lord's Supper, lies the main difference between Quakorism and Christianity.

[ocr errors]

* 14. Since God hath assumed to himself the dominion of the conscience. who alone can rightly instruct and govern it; therefore it is not lawful for any whatsoever to force the consciences of others.”

In this there is no difference at all between Quakerism and Christianity.

“ 15. It is not lawful for Christians to give or receive titles of honour, as, Your Majesty, Your Lordship, &c."

In this there is a difference between Quakerism and Christianity. Christians may give titles of honour, such as are usually annexed to certain offices.

Thus St. Paul gives the usual title of “ Most Noble” to the Roman Governor. Robert Barclay indeed says, “He would not have called him such, if he had not been truly noble; as indeed he was, in that he would not give way to the fury of the Jews against him.”

The Scripture says quite otherwise; that he did give way to the fury of the Jews against him. I read: “Festus, willing to do the Jews a pleasure, (who had desired a favour against him, that he would send for him to Jerusalem, lying in wait in the way to kill him,) said to Paul, Wilt thou go up to Jerusalem, and there be judged of these things before me? Then said Paul, I stand at Cæsar's judgment seat, where I ought to be judged: to the Jews have I done no wrong, as thou very well knowest. If I have done any thing worthy of death, I refuse not to die; but if there be none of these things whereof these accuse me, no man may deliver me unto them."

Hence it plainly appears, that Festus was a very wicked person, one who, “ to do the Jews a pleasure," would have betrayed the innocent blood. But although St. Paul was not ignorant of his character, still he calls him, “ Most Noble Festus,” giving him the title of his office; which, indeed, was neither more nor less than saying, “ Governor Festus,” or “ King Agrippa."

It is therefore mere superstition to scruple this. And it is, if possible, greater superstition still to scruple saying, yoll, vous, or ihr, whether to one or more persons, as is the common way of speaking in any country. It is this which fixes the language of every nation. It is this which makes me say you in England, vous in France, and ihr in Germany, rather than thou, tu, or du, rather than ou, de, or nx; which, if we speak strictly, is the only Scriptural language; not thou, or thee, any more than you. But the placing religion in such things as these is such egregious trifling, as naturally tends to make all religion stink in the nostrils of Infidels and Heathens.

And yet this, by a far greater abuse of words than that you would reform, you call the plain language. O my friend! he uses the plain language who speaks the truth from his heart; not he who says thee or thou, and in the mean time will dissemble or flatter, like the rest of the world.

* It is not lawful for Christians to kneel, or bow the body, or uncover the head, to any man." If this is not lawful, then some law of God forbids it. Can

you

show me that law? If you cannot, then the scrupling this is another plain instance of superstition, not Christianity.

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »