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rit. His appointing this or that time or place, does in nowise prove the contrary. Prove me the 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 appointe i times, have begotten faith both at Bristol and Paulton. (You know 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 taith, 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 circunstance, 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 worship, and very sweet and refreshful, when it proceeds from a true sense of God's love. But as for formal singing, it has no foun-. dation 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 be true. For if they.“ confess singing of psalms to be a part of God's worship," how dare they either condemn or regleci it!
· Silence is a principal part of God's worship: i. e. 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.' Psalm xxxvii. 7.
Wait on the Lord and keep his way, and he shall exalt thee to inherit the land.' ver.-34. •Say not thou, I will recompense evil; but wait on the Lord and he shall save thee.' Prov. xx. 23.
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, and xxüi.
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.
XII. " 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, (i. e. 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 tallacy 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.
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. vign, but as to the inward grace.
XIII. " 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 manitest 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. “0," 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 Quakerism and Christianity.
XIV, “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 Chris. tianity.
XV. “It is not lawful for Christians to give or receive titles of honour, as, your majesty, your lordship, &c."-In this there is a disference 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, it lie had not been truly noile : 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 mán 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, You, Vous, or Thr, 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 Ev, Ss, or ax, (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 at 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.
“ It is not lawful for a Christian to use superfluities in apparel : as neither, to use such games, sports, and plays, under the notion of recreations, as are not consistent with gravity and godly fear,” As to both these propositions, there is no difference between Quakerism and Christianity. Only observe, touching the former, that the sin of “ superfluous apparel,” lies chiefly in the superfluous expense. To make it therefore a point of conscience, to differ from others, as to the shape or colour of your apparel, is mere superstition : let the difference lie in the price, that you may have the more wherewith to clothe them that have none.
“ It is not lawful for Christians to swear before a magistrate, nor to fight in any cause." Whatever becomes of the latter proposition, the former is no part of Christianity: for Christ himself answered upon oath before a magistrate. Yea, he would not answer till he was put to his oath; till the high priest said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God.'
Friend, you have an honest heart, but a weak head: you have a zeal, but not according to knowledge. You were zealous once for the love of God and man; for holiness of heart and holiness of life, You are now zealous for particular forms of speaking, for a set of phrases and opinions. Once your zeal was against ungodliness and unrighteousness, against evil tempers and evil works. Now it is against forms of prayer, against singing psalms or hymns, against appointing times of praying or preaching ; against saying you to a single person, uncovering your head, or having too many buttons on your coat. O what a fall is here! What poor trifles are these, that now well nigh engross your thoughts! Come back, come back, to the weightier matters of the law, spiritual, rational, scriptural religion. No longer waste your time and strength in beating the air, in vain controversies and strife of words : but bend your whole soul to the growing in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, to the continually advancing in that holiness, without which you cannot see the Lord.
AN EXTRACT OF A LETTER
REV. MR. LAW;
OCCASIONED BY SOME OF HIS LATE WRITINGS.
IN matters of religion I regard no writings but the inspired. Tauler, Behmen, and a whole army of mystic authors are with me nothing to St. Paul. In every point l'appeal to the Law and the Testimony,' and value no authority but this
. At a time when I was in great danger of not valuing this authority enough, you made that important observation, “I see where your mistake lies. You would have a philosophical religion ; but there can be no such thing. Religion is the most plain, simple thing in the world. It is only, We love him, because he first loved us.' So far as you add philosophy to religion, just so far you spoil it.” This remark I have never forgotten since. And I trust in God I never shall.
But have not you? Permit me, Sir, to speak plainly. Have you ever thought of it since? Is there a writer in England who so continually blends philosophy with religion 3 Even in tracts on The Spirit of Prayer, and The Spirit of Love, wherein, from the titles of them, one would expect to find no more of philosophy, than in the epistles of St. John. Concerning which, give me leave to observe in general, 1. That the whole of it is utterly superfluous : a man may be full both of prayer and love, and not know a word of this hypothesis: 2. The whole of this hypothesis is unproved; it is all pre.