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By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house, by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.” Heb. 11:7. Noah also explained himself, unquestionably : for he was a minister of religion, a man of resources and influence, a character of probity and renown, and as such well known by the whole world. “God spared not the old world, but saved Noah, the eighth person, A PREACHER OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly.” 2 Pet. 2:5. Thus it appears that the whole world, by outward means, and mainly through the preaching of Noah, were warned; were rebellious to the known will of God; and so perished for ever. This seems to be, without doubt, the purport of the passage in 1 Pet. 3 : 19, 20, which affirms that those spirits, once rebellious “while the ark was preparing,” are now “in prison,” no more reached with the ministrations of mercy and the offers of salvation. See Macknight in loco. It affirms that Christ preached to them; just as Paul affirms that, after his ascension, Christ " came and preached peace ” to the Ephesians : he preached to these by the apostles and their colleagues ; and to the antidelavians by Noah and others. Thus the adage, Quod facit per alium, facit per se :
what one does by another, he does by himself.
From all this, I infer that those ancients had a correct knowledge of the creation of the world; of the temptation and fall of man; of the promised
Messiah ; of the worship and murder of Abel ; of the holy Sabbath ; (compare Gen. 2:2, 3. 8:10, 12, and other places where the number seren was eminent as a symbol of perfection ;) of the character, prophecy, and translation of Enoch ; of the divine institution and typical import of sacrifices; of the influences of the Spirit; of the perfections and ways of Jehovah ; of the nature of religion ;
l of God's anger with them; of the second advent of Christ and eternal judgment; (see Jude, 14, 15;) and of innumerable other things, to a degree far surpassing in some respects our outward privileges ; and all this without any implication or sanction of the fancy of an internal objective light whose manifestations were given to every man on the globe.
(3) There is nothing in the condition of the church or of mankind, before the scriptures began to be written, that requires or warrants the theory of Friends.
I am thus extensive on this point, because it is one in which the genius of Quakerism triumphs, as if all its rash assumptions were infallible truths. This paper need not be loaded with quotations from all their works in which they speak of periods before the scriptures brgan to be written, as those in which their views of the light within must be admitted. Who spake to Abraham, or Noah, or Enoch, and others, say they, before there was any Bible? And how did those patriarchs manage who had no Bible and yet walked with God? They make these bold appeals just as if their questions could be answered only by admitting their
answers ! only by adopting their doctrine! only by rejoicing in “the sparks that they have kindled !" This absurd exultation looks so much like evidence, argument, demonstration, in the eyes of those who admit their inspiration while they thus exult, that millions are captivated, convinced, converted, and it may be also inspired, when they witness its imaginings.
The apostle says that all these ancients were actuated by faith; and with Barclay, I admit that the great object of faith then and since is “ Deus loquens,” God speaking. But cannot God speak to us, unless he speaks in us, and in each one of us ? This is the question : and until they actually prove the negative, Friends have proved nothing to the purpose. Barclay himself admits that God, in all that long tract of time, 2500 years, before the Bible or the Pentateuch was given, and before alphabetical writing was known, (or revealed, as some think it was of inspired original and first made known to Moses,) often spake to men by the ministry of angels, by “outward voices, appearances, and dreams,” and by the agency of human preachers: and any one of these fire modes will account for the knowledge and piety of the ancients, without all influence or agency of the light within ! Hence their own admissions answer their appeals : while all their arguments are wholly destitute of proof that such a universal internal light, or seed, or vehiculum dei, or divine emanation, or paramount rule of action, has any existence.
Let it be remembered too that “Noah lived after
the flood 350 years ;” and that Abraham was born two years after Noah's death, and lived the cotemporary of Shem 150 years. These facts might be extended : but enough is written to evince that tradition must have been a great help from the beginning of the world to the time of Moses. In his time, it is thought, (see Psalm 90,) human life was reduced to nearly its present span. The tradition of theological truth could come, through faithful channels, from Adam to Moses by six or seven steps! and none can doubt the interest of those ancient Fathers of the church in handing down, from sire to son, a pure account of those wonders and truths of God which themselves superlatively loved, defended, and diffused. Friends at least ought to admit the value of tradition, since, to the exclusion of better lights in our day, it makes so forceful a part of their own system of education. Besides, in the period (427 years) after the flood till the calling of Abraham, the tradition, the credit, and the monuments, of that terrific chapter of the divine judgments, were yet recent and unquestionable. The deluge was then of modern memory
The fact that such a lesson was by many soon forgot, must indeed be admitted : it is equally criminal, wonderful, lamentable! But this infers nothing against the sufficiency of the means for “retaining" it in their knowledge. “For this they willingly are ignorant of, that—the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished.” God is not answerable for the perverse inconsiderateness of men. Where the evidence
is sufficient and the creature accountable, God is vindicated, whatever may
be the result. The light of nature every where teaches more than men anywhere learn from it; more than theologians have generally admitted ; and quite sufficient to conclude against all the excuses of idolaters, “all the nations that forget God,” pre-eminently all the enemies of revelation. This light does not interfere with that of traditional, any more than with that of scriptural truth. And here it requires, methinks, only a little comprehension of the facts of the case and a little ingenuousness of heart toward God, to perceive the irrelevancy of the theory of Friends, the non-necessity of their universal inward light. I have bestowed thus much to the consideration of the subject, which is so plain and rational as represented in the total scope
of scripture that the theory of Friends is necessary to make rather than solve its difficulties; because with them it is a capital subject, and one in their view quite conclusive against the paramount claims of “the oracles of God."
I pass to the next passage, in which Barclay affirms that the inward light is so "excellently and evidently” taught.
2. This occurs in Deut. 30:14. “But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.” As Rom. 10:8 is virtually the same text, or rather a quotation and amplification of the first, they may be considered together; though by Barclay separately noted, yet simply in the order of priority in scripture. With