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(and dreary) place, until the day dawn, and the star of morning rise in your hearts."
That Friends do not feel quite certain that they know what this means, is evident in one instance at least! and yet it is an awkward position for them to take, on more accounts than one. In an edition of Dr. Maclaine's Mosheim, published in “ NewYork, 1821," I find near the end about 45 pages of
VINDICATION OF THE QUAKERS,” smuggled 54 into the fourth volume ; where, among other documents, is one of “ Joseph Gurney Bevan,” of London, in which he alludes to this text, in connection with George Fox's career, and makes in the margin the following note : "It seems by the way, not easy, in our translation, to find what constitutes the comparison, in this passage.” Poor man,“not easy”—had he been trying hard to find it, preacher as I suppose he was! A very little sane contemplation of the context, I should judge, would relieve his difficulties, even if he could search only “ in our translation."
But his mighty master Fox was in the same predicament or a worse one. Bevan is commenting, in connection with the note above cited, on Fox's exemplary and singular trials in reference to this noted text. In the journal of Fox, he records his own exploits in his own incomparable way; and I ask leave to transcribe the total paragraph. The importance of the principles involved will warrant it.
“ As I went toward Nottingham on a first-day in the morning, with friends to a meeting there, when I came on the top of a hill in sight of the town, I
espied the great steeple-house; and the Lord said unto me, “Thou must go cry against yonder great idol, and against the worshippers therein.' I said nothing of this to the friends, but went with them to the meeting, where the mighty power of the Lord God was amongst us; in which I left friends sitting in the meeting, and went to the steeplehouse. When I came there, all the people looked like fallow ground, and the priest, like a great lump of earth, stood in his pulpit above : he took for his text these words of Peter, “We have also a more sure word of prophecy, whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day-star arise in your hearts.' He told the people this was the scriptures, by which they were to try all doctrines, religions and opinions. Now the Lord's power was so mighty upon me, and so strong in me, that I could not hold ; but was made to cry out, “Oh! no ; it is not the scriptures ;' and told them it was the holy Spirit, by which the holy men of God gave forth the scriptures, whereby opinions, religions, and judgments were to be tried; for it led into all truth, and so gave the knowledge of all truth. The Jews had the scriptures, yet resisted the Holy Ghost, and rejected Christ, the bright morning-star. They persecuted him and his apostles, and took upon them to try their doctrines by the scriptures, but erred in judgment, and did not try them right; because they tried without the Holy Ghost. As I spoke thus amongst them, the officers came, took me away, and put me into a nasty stink
ing prison; the smell whereof got so into my nose and throat that it very much annoyed me.
Thus far George.
We may now observe certain things that explain the text; that demonstrate THE PERFECT CORRECTNESS of the preacher, called by his invader and reviler “a great lump of earth,” in the position he advanced ; that conclude absolutely against the inspiration of Fox and show of consequence his wicked fanaticism; and that make the passage before us a luminous protest of heaven against their whole system, and in favor of the scriptures as the only book of inspiration in our world and the HIGHEST rule of action in religion. If these things appear, one may ask the nature of that morality that disturbs worshipping assemblies of christians in the very time and action of divine service; that pronounces the service "not divine;" that raises riot and confusion in the house of God; that molests (and this it did in numerous instances at first, and as long as it could conveniently or with impunity, and would now do with the worst kind of persecution if it dared) others in their conscientious public devo tions; and that, after having provoked the interference of the civil authorities, complains of severity, and uses its ostentatious sufferings to elicit the sympathies of the ignorant, to practise on the weak, and to facilitate the imposture of its own delusion!
I do not say that Friends never suffered wrongfully; or that justice was not often perverted in their punishment; or that they were not cruelly persecuted in many instances: but I do say that they were too often the aggressors, and the conscientious spiritual persecutors of the first part ; and that such persecution as theirs, characteristically theirs, is perhaps the most intolerable in the world, as themselves would now evince, I fear, if theirs were the power and the ascendency in the state —for we may hardly trust the “tender mercies” of men irresponsibly any where !
I say also that in either hemisphere they were punished by the civil arm less for their doctrines as religionists, than for their practices as religionists, against the rights of others and the laws and order of civil society, going “naked for a sign,"55 disturbing the worship of others, religious railing and abuse, calumniating all modes and ministers of religion except their own, and denouncing others in the coarsest and most offensive style. What could be worthier of censure from “the officers," and of their power interfering in the case, than the conduct of Fox in the occasion himself describes! But that occasion was only one of hundreds ; in all which he was inspired; the inspirer only was accountable ; he was identified with God; and to animadvert on his ways and doings were sacrilege! “We have also the prophetic word made more
or permanent : βεβαιοτερον τον προφητικον λογον. “More firm”—than what? What is the other subject of comparison, which is disparaged in the argument ? Friend Bevan, we remember, thought it “not easy to find."
A fox hunter of this sort, is often at fault when the game is near him, and quite visible to those who prefer the light
of heaven to inward darkness. Read the previous verses, where it is as plain as day; and as “easy to find” as it is to attend to what “the Spirit saith to the churches,” even “in our translation." Alas! how hard for some illuminees “to find” the sense of revealed truth! The reason is plain. The recipe of their darkness and mistake, the amulet of their preservation from its influence, is that forgery and folly—“the light within !" well may they take up the lamentation ; “Therefore is judgment far from us, neither doth justice overtake us; we wait for light, but behold obscurity ; for brightness, but we walk in darkness. We grope for the wall like the blind, and we grope as if we had no eyes : we stumble at noon-day as in the night; we are in desolate places as dead men.” I have no words in which to express my grief, shame, pain, and indignation, at a system of delusion so deceitful and so fixed with its talons in the blood of its prey!
In the previous verses of the chapter, 16–18, Peter refers to the glorious scene of the transfiguration, which himself and James and John were the privileged triumvirate to witness. See Matt. 18: 1-9. Mark, 9: 2-10. Luke, 9: 28–36. These three were several times selected to witness scenes of privacy and wonder, which they were especially to attest afterward to others, for the confirmation of their faith. Matt. 26 : 37. Mark, 5 : 37. So here. The noble apostle tells what they saw and what they heard ; “ when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.' And this voice which