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ous corruptions in christendom,) what is its moral influence on the abettors of the scheme? Does it make them christians ? does it sanctify them acceptable to God through Jesus Christ our Lord ? If salvation be possible in consistency with such error, which plainly challenges a doubt, it is not by the error, but in spite of it, that the mercy of God “ rejoiceth against judgment.” Error is poison ; the poison of the soul : and though we might possibly receive a given quantity of poison, mingled with our food, and eat it without death, yet no one is to be commended for such an act, especially if, by repetition, it becomes a habit; while the example may influence others whose judgment of the safe proportion may not be advised, and whose exit by the indulgence may be inevitable.
The assumed connection between inward light and the influence of the Holy Spirit, (of whose person and name we know nothing that the scriptures have not taught us,) is of prime importance in this controversy; and worthy, if possible, to be rationally resolved. By the Spirit they intend that same divine Agent by whom the scriptures were inspired. But if He is not the author of their inward light or at all chargeable with their inspired communications, if the proper characteristics of Quakerism arise from some other source, how unspeakably important that this should be known by all! It is my full and deep conviction that THE AUTHOR OF THE SCRIPTURES IS NOT THE AUTHOR OF QUAKERISM : that they are two and distinct and opposite spirits ! and that Quakerism hath originated from neglect or violation of this scriptural commandment, in common with innumerable others, of the Holy Ghost ; “ Believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God; because MANY FALSE PROPHETS are gone out into the world. Hereby KNOW YE [ASCERTAIN YE—imperatively] THE SPIRIT OF GOD: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is of God. And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is not of God: and this is that spirit of anti-christ, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.” 1 John, 4:1-3.
On this important passage, of the known and genuine words of the Holy Ghost, permit a few reflections. It is given as a criterion of discrimination between the Spirit of Christ and the spirit of anti-christ. The words that confesseth do not mean that admits with reluctance or constraint; as if tortured to the admission; but that boldly and in a way that CHARACTERIZES, asserts the important fact, without disparaging its amazing value or corrupting its sublime intention. It refers to the profession of cardinal doctrine. This might easily be demonstrated-and shall be, when the comment is respectably denied. The object of this confession, the proposition that Jesus Christ is come.[has come] in the flesh, means (as can be rigidly shown, when necessary) THAT JESUS, THE MESSIAH, HAS OUTWARDLY COME IN HUMAN NATURE; plainly according to the historical testimony of the four evangelists : verses 9 and 10. From these I infer that whatever
spirit is not CHARACTERIZED in his influences, by professing and magnifying that grand proposition, is a limb of anti-christ. Now let us “ try ” Quakerism by this inspired criterion. It is the spirit of Quakerism to confess that Jesus Christ from the beginning of the world, comes INWARDLY, SPIRITUALLY, IMPALPABLY, in the hearts of all men, as a “ little small thing." How is this coming in the flesh, according to the sense of scriptural phraseology! He “ came into the world to save sinners;" and this “is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation.” He “came to seek and to save that which was lost :-not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life A RANSOM for many: Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree; When the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.' This is THE WAY in which “ Jesus Christ came in the flesh ;" and the CONFESSION of that fundamental fact is made (by the criterion) the signal of the Spirit of Christ, and its non-confession the index of anti-christ. But the confession is too OUTWARD for Friends.
In regard to the expression in the flesh, it may be remarked that the word flesh, in the style of scripture, is (not mystically though) often figuratidely used : that it means either (1) flesh literally; or, (2) flesh morally, as the moral character of man; or, (3) flesh, referring to the species or human nature or mankind : that in this last sense is the expression to be understood when it is said Jesus Christ has come in the flesh ; that is, in human nature. Compare Rom. 8: 3. 9:5. 1 Tim. 3:16. 1 Pet. 3: 18. 4:1. 1 John, 4:2, 3. 2 John, 7. John, 1:14. There are doubtless other senses ; but these are the main ones ; with which however should be mentioned another, namely, (4) the state of human life temporal, as distinguished from that beyond the grave : as Paul says, Phil. 1: 24, “ to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.” I have heard one silly version of the proposition which is proposed as the criterion; it was given to me very
; confidently by a preacher of Friends. “In the flesh,” said he ;“ Christ has come in the flesh : that is the inward light, because it is in our flesh, it is inside of us. He is anti-christ that denies it !" Though the sage seems to think himself withal one of the wonders of the age, and though in divers singular respects he is truly a wonderful character and as certainly inspired as any other of his fraternity, yet is he one of those whose letters I never answer and whose positions I have ceased to deny. Tale portentum refutatione indignum est, as Calvin says of universalism :-a monstrosity of this sort is unworthy of serious refutation. He is too impervious to common sense and scripture, to be worthy of sober argument. “For many deceivers
• are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a de
a ceiver and an anti-christ.” 2 John, 7.
Now take a few specimens (thousands might be given) of the CONFESSION of Friends.. " Christ is
AND THEIR VERY DISTINGUISHING CONFESSION.
in all men as in a seed, yea, and he never is nor can be separate from that holy pure seed and light which is in all men. In this respect then, as he is in the seed which is in all men, we have said Christ is in all men, and have preached and directed all men to Christ in them, who lies crucified in them by their sins and iniquities, that they may look upon him whom they have pierced, and repent :
: whereby he that now lies as it were slain and buried in them, may come to be raised, and have dominion in their hearts over all.”—Barclay.
This mysticism and heresy is a true, but a very moderate specimen of their general confession. As a fact I can attest its truth that they do thus say and preach and direct men. IT IS THEIR GRAND
It is the great metropolis of the foxian empire : and its native influence and actual result are utterly to disparage and obscure the real advent, the real crucifixion, the real atonement, of the Son of God! It is the hostile opposite of the criterion proposition, Jesus CHRIST HAS COME IN HUMAN NATURE ! Speaking of the Jews, the apostle puts it as the climax of their dignities that “of them, as concerning the flesh, Christ CAME, who is over all, God blessed for ever." Here he teaches that Christ is both God and man in one person; that in his human nature he is descended of Jewish parents; that in his superior nature he is the supreme God: and that he thus “came” into the world. This splendid fact is worthy to be made the conFESSION of the church of Christ.