Imágenes de página

sure the radicalism, as it may seem to them, of this way of procedure. Professing no love of innovation for its own sake, nor inclining at all to mistake it for improvement, as if the two were always identical, I confess myself unable to accede to the sentiment that Friends are to be meliorated and edified on their own foundation. I believe their system, as such, to be FUNDAMENTALLY FALSE: hence I CANNOT trifle with them or be other than RADICALIZING in opposition to their system. For this, on their account, I am cordially sorry and consciously grieved at heart; having no wish to make enemies or to hurt the feelings of a human being. Often have I tried to find some Tarshish conveyance, from the great Nineveh of my apprehended duty: bút, in that direction, I as often anticipated a storm, a shipwreck, a whale. To me indeed it seems only wonderful that christian men and christian ministers should ever take the ground of compromise, in relation to the system. Did they ever intelligently compare 1 Cor. 3:11, with Gal. 1:6-9! I ascribe their lenity mainly to ignorance and superficial judgment respecting it: while I have “counted the cost ” of a more thorough position, in view of possible consequences.

Still, to the persons of Friends, I am conscious only of good will and tenderness. Could I not distinguish between them and their system, in certain inodifications, I should have hope for none of them. As it is, I am quite willing to entréat them; to expostulate with them; and to BESEECH THEM TO HEAR ME CANDIDLY. If they see my faults, my prejudices, my extravagance, my severity, let them show the magnanimity of their own christian condescension; and put such a construction of charitableness on the deed, as will suit their own ideas of its indefinite largeness. To their youth, especially their young men, I would speak with some hope of being rationally considered and generously appreciated. I have been such an one myself. Them I venture to counsel as I would my own soul. Experience enables me to know and to feel as they do. I sympathize with them. Still, I summon them to manliness and moral courage of investigation. Will they so believe the system of their sires, as if it were true only because they taught it to them ? or as if examination would ruin it? A strange way to believe it! What is this bat disbelief of its ultimate truth? Do you, I would say to them, think it a privilege to err? to be Friends, even if you are not christians ? to think Quakerism and christianity identical, while fearing to consult evidence or look at the nature of the things? Then must you live and die-Friends, just as your fathers did: and certainly they ought to have been right!

I commence with an investigation of their doctrine of the INWARD LIGHT. That doctrine is that there is in erery man, by the goodness of his Creator, a certain inward light,' which is equally in all men of all ages and of all countries, by attention to the monitions of which men come into a state of spirituality and salvation ; and the only cause why some men are more benefited by its beams than

others, is thisthat some men pay more attention to it than others.”-Barclay.

Every sect that radically deviates from pure christianity, is characterized by some fundamental error, which is called THE GRAND ERROR of the system. Such an error do I conceive the inward light to be in the scheme of Quakerism. It is the centre of the system; the basis of the structure; the parent of all its obliquities. And if, after all, it should appear to be an ignis fatuus, a meteor of a troubled atmosphere, an airy and mischievous illusion, what is their condition, what their end, who have consigned themselves to its fatal guidance ? 6* If the light which is in thee,” &c. I once utterly believed it true-and it was the search and the faith of the scriptures that cured me of the prejudice. My reasons are the following: the impossibility of an intelligible definition of its nature; the argument, from the admission of its truth, that the scriptures are superfluous; the fact that all the real knowledge and intelligible preaching of Friends are derived from the scriptures; the condition and practice of those nations, who, being destitute of the scriptures, but not on this theory of the inward light, have had nothing to embarrass the growth of its natural fruits; the missionary practice of apostles, in carrying the gospel to distant nations and preaching it to all the world, as if the gospel so preached, and not the universal inward light, was to be the instrument of salvation “to every one that believeth;" the character of their preaching, and also of his who commissioned and preceded them, as

wonderfully destitute of all force and propriety, in respect to the doctrine of inward light, if that doctrine be true; the fallacy of all the evidence upon which the doctrine affects to be supported by scripture; the powerful decision of many passages against it; the innumerable contradictions of that light as it shines from Friends; the paramount office of scripture, according to its own claims, as our rule in religion. On each of these reasons I propose to enlarge.

I. THE IMPOSSIBILITY OF AN INTELLIGIBLE DEFINITION OF ITS NATURE, if there were nothing else to impeach its credibility, would authorize a denial of its claims, would absolutely require this at our hands.

What is this inward light? is a question which we have a right to ask; and which they ought to answer, who say of its authority that it is paramount to the scriptures; and of its efficacy that by attending to its influence, we come into a state of salvation. Is it reason, or conscience, or knowledge, or holiness, or blind impulse, or spontaneous action, or monitorial suggestion, or the Spirit of God in his person or his influences? What is the thing which they mean, if they mean definitely any thing, when they speak of “ the light within ?" Let them not scorn this question. It is worthier of their consideration than their contempt. We are serious who ask it. We cannot indeed help our conviction that there is no such thing properly in existence. Friends are wont to use the pronoun and the relative, instead of the direct antecedent, when they

speak of this indefinable influence. They say, for I have often heard them, it will teach thee, it will guide thee, it will keep thee from the enemy and bring thee under the shadow of the Almighty. This is all very fine; and concerning the scripture in

2 strumentally, or the Holy Spirit personally, or religion personified, it is both intelligible and true. But here I demand a definition of “it." To what must I attend, what must I follow, by what rule must I go, in order to these halcyon and heavenly results? They do not mean the scripture, unquestionably. Do they then mean the intellectual faculty? This they often disclaim. “We look upon reason as fit to order and rule man in things natural-yet that not being the right organ-it cannot profit him toward salvation, but rather hindereth.” Barclay.

Is it conscience ? As often do they deny this version of the inward light. “Our adversaries-calumniate us, as if we preached up a natural light, or the light of man's naturalconscience:-as if this which we preach up were some natural power and faculty of the soul, and that we only differ in the wording of it, and not in the thing itself—this light of which we speak is not only distinct, but of a different nature from the soul of man, and its faculties." —Barclay.

Take one specimen, however, of his own “preaching up.” It evinces their common style, and either exalts conscience into “a more noble and excellent rule" than the word of God; or, what does it mean? He says that Friends “cannot cease

« AnteriorContinuar »