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while inveighing against a specious counterfeit which is not only not christianity, but seductive and false to the hopes of the soul ! and which (by its ostentatious pageantry of plainness and some qualities of sensible comfort and economy involved in it—which are prodigiously over-valued ordinarily and the appeal of which is to the sympathies and the senses and the temporal convenience mainly after all) obtrudes itself plausibly on the feelings of the “unlearned” and the “unstable ;" who like Quakerism remarkably; even while they dislike“the holy scriptures,” and impiously "wrest them to their own destruction.” It is no slander of the society, but a plain and proveable verity which I can myself most solemnly attest, that of all sects of serious professors in christendom, they have a solitary preference, or rather pre-eminence, in the estimate of infidels! It was the dying declaration of the author of the Age of Reason—very like the age of foxian light—that he decisively preferred them and wished to be buried in their cemetery ! the distinguished praise of the sage of Lanark and his FEMALE coadjutors, has not been more equivocal or less cordial, in their late memorable missionary illuminations toward “the natives" of the United States! And sceptics of all sorts, socinian and others, give them a preference, which a christian would abhor! See John, 7:7. 15:16-21, especially 19. “ The seed of the serpent” is NEVER pleased or pacific toward “the seed of the woman that is toward Christ and christians; James, 4; 4, though sometimes robed in celestial attire, its smooth
ness, and softness, and passivity of tenderness, and love to every thing, commend its pretension to the confidence of thousands. “For there shall arise false Christs and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders ; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” Matt, 24:24.
Before I conclude this prolonged introduction, I would offer some remarks on two topics in connexion with the synopsis; which, quoting from BARCLAY alone, I have endeavored so to display as hopefully to stand proof against even the suspicion of inten
It is my
The first is the subject of the TRINITY. own persuasion that the received orthodox statement of our common creeds, (those of the church of England, the Methodist Episcopal, the Baptist, the Lutheran, the Moravian, and all other protestants even generically of the stamp of the REFORMATION,) is not that of Friends. On the contrary, I believe them all, and especially the orthodox,' to be at best, sabellians, or most equivocal mystics, on that grand article. THEY DENY THE DISTINCTION OF PERSONS IN THE GODHEAD; THE HYPOSTATICAL DESCRIPTION OF THE DIVINE NATURE!' and yet they say so many things that are true, and so many that are imposing, that the absence of sagacity will always favor their orthodox' pretension, more than its presence.
Penn is their great champion on this article, which their greater champion, Barclay, plainly evades : on whose lucubrations respecting it, and those of the modern orthodox,' L also would “show mine opinion."
1. Penn utterly mis-states what he vilifies; using person as we and all protestants use it not, as it is used on common subjects, implying a distinct existence. Hence he resolves our doctrine into tritheism ; and entertains his readers with playing off a reductio ad absurdum, with scintillating fireworks and other “sparks” that his light “has
6 kindled," against the absurdities that he makes himself; insolently and unfairly sporting about “ three eternal entities” or “three eternal nothings," and so forth. He does it all too, on the assumption that our doctrine is essentially ruinous to the unity of the divine nature, as if we believed in three Gods ; and as if he, and the lights that see with him, were the only sound defenders of the faith that “there is but one only, the living and true God.” He implies that "separate and distinct” personalties, is our creed ; as if what is “ distinct in some respects, must necessarily be " separate" in all or in the same respects: and so, when he has got, by that jesuitical sophism or rather “sly” involution, the persons of the Godhead" separated,” his inductive absurdities become considerable.
2. It is impossible for enlightened believers of the truth to acknowledge the corrupters of this revealed doctrine: and all the sect are in this condemnation. Of one party, no one will doubt that this is truth. And who are the orthodox ? Those who uphold William Penn as an inspired and illustrious teacher in religion, and a most worthy minister of Jesus Christ! who endorse his Socinian or Sabellian errors, and canonize his revilings against
the truth! who vindicate equally him, and Barclay, aud Fox, as inspired teachers sent from God! and who place their writings on a par with “ the oracles of God;" declaring them, and more constantly honoring them in conduct, as of even “ greater authority.
3. Their confession on this article is very ambiguous and insufficient. At best it seems to me rather an obscuration than an elucidation of what they believe-if indeed they do formally and fully believe any thing. To tell us that they believe in “ the sacred Three,” or “the Three that bear record in heaven,” is not enough; nor yet, in the words of Penn, that they “never have disowned a Father, Word, and Spirit, which are One, but men's inventions ;" nor yet that they believe them “ according to the scriptures:" which last is a mere circle. It is like saying, “I believe in all truth ; my creed is orthodoxy; I believe exactly right; or,
r; I believe the whole Bible !". It is plainly no symbol of faith, and no symbol at all, where one will not state, in plain and definite language, the premises, and what he does totidem verbis believe. In such case a man may refer to cited passages, for illustration or for proof; but never properly for statement! This, honesty requires him to give in the language and style of definition, using the perspicuous language of his mother tongue and the words of his own conceptions on the topic. It is plain that to quote scripture, is not the way of showing what I believe or the sense of scripture as I entertain it. The truth is given to the church, for confession and diffusion ; and through the church, to all mankind “ for the obedience of faith :" and hence the policy of a private creed, or the privilege of holding one thing and preaching or professing another, is abomination, is odious sin! It is just the way which apostles did not; 2 Cor. 2 :17; 4: 1-3. 1 Thess. 2 : 3–20; and the very way which any moderns do sinningly alone. Paul merely uses the language of his slanderers, in 2 Cor. 12 : 16, that he may indignantly refute it, as he does! it is shocking to observe some authors (though Friends I now mean less) mistake it utterly; and abuse it too, as the sanction of an odious system of priest-craft and dishonesty!
4. Friends are hence “tender” of adopting the common language of trinitarians ; disapproving it and substituting the words of scripture, in a way faulty and deceptive! “ They have carefully avoided
! entangling themselves by the use of unscriptural terms, invented to define Him who is undefinable, scrupulously adhering to the safe and simple language of the holy scriptures, as contained in Matt. 28 : 18, 19, and 1 John, 5:7.” Evans’ Exposition, p. 39. I object to this (1) that the “ terms ” were not so “invented.” It was not to define Him; but the doctrine which we believe to be revealed of him, that the terms are used : and when used, they were not invented, but only applied. (2) Friends would become “ entangled,” it seems, by using them. Why? Other professors are disentangled and relieved by their use. Do they believe something very different from the common faith, after all, ortho