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this single point-whether we cordially embrace the
Will you, superior, and safe by presumption, scorn the representation; and count it methodistical and gross? Then know, my friends, that the experi
it may never be yours—will be more gross than the representation-more humblingmore terrible! I fear that few of you ever have been, as ALL MEN ought to be, rationally afraid, of the
“ DAMNATION” which the scriptures reveal. Strange is the paradox on this subject, respecting the doctrine of the fact, that those generally who seem least afraid of the fact are most annoyed with the doctrine; those most exposed to the greater, most nauseate the less; those who can imperturbably brave damnation for a whole life-time, are most delicately timid of the word even occasionally told to them.
It seems impossible for Friends to distinguish wisely between the figurative and the mystical style; and because the Bible abounds with the former though totally destitute of the latter, and because Friends abound with the latter even more than the former, they are perpetually mysticising. In their interpretation of scripture especially, nothing will satisfy them, when in this vein, but mystery : every figure must be mystified before it can be held to contain any thing spiritual. This propensity does infinite mischief to their religion : it ruins the sober influence of scripture, or rather wholly prevents it. The best interpreters (and the best men are also meant by these) have shown that mysticalness is no attribute of revelation : which is the disclosure of things otherwise secret, and the attestation of things otherwise uncertain. What God says is true. But in what he says, the grand matter is what he means. Meaning is the soul of truth. To suppose that there is no sober coincidence between his words and his meaning, or that his meaning is unintelligible, or recondite beyond all the laws of language to contain, and all the fairest laws of interpretation
to evolve, is monstrous. It is the same as to charge God with deception and shuffling. It is a contradiction also. For, what kind of a revelation is that, which purposely obscures what it professes to unveil? Now mysticism is nothing but double and doubtful meaning; where all is more dark and senseless, after the explanation professedly given. The facts or realities revealed in scripture are grand ; and mysterious, it may be, in the mode of their existence. But as facts they are all intelligible, and the propositions in which they are expressed are all intelligible : and to believe the facts in the propositions is properly faith, and saving faith also if we believe them with the heart. But the mode of them, and the mystery of them, have nothing to do with faith any more than with intelligence. Mysticism draws a veil of its own weaving over the open face of revelation. What God reveals, as far as he REVEALS it, may be understood ; and in that respect it may be said that we understand all that we believe. Thus the proposition that God exists is plain, and I believe it. As a fact it is intelligible, credible, and not at all mysterious. But the MODE of the fact is mysterious. How does he exist? I do not know. I do not believe or preach or care any thing in respect to the mode : so that I am wholly without faith, where I am also without knowledge and understanding, on the question How does he exist? So also of all the facts of revelation; while a consistent practical recognition of this plain distinction would answer all the ends of faith and piety, without any of the absurdities of our own
making on this article, which are wholly adverse to those ends.
But some of you will say; After all, your distinction is of little consequence! Why? Because it sheds too strong a light on the subject? Because you hate the facts revealed? Then know that this is the quintessence of—depravity. You are the unconverted children of the first Adam, and not the converted children of the second. To hate the facts of revelation-is just the character and the crime of our total species, since the primeval apostacy! it is that very fundamental fact which the scriptures reveal and which heresy sophisticates ! the fact without which the whole fabric of the gospel falls, and the right experimental knowledge of which is necessary to all true spiritual discernment. The depravity of man is his fault, and not his misfortune. For it he is to be primarily blamed, not pitied. He is voluntary in it all. He never excuses its ebullitions in others, especially when it injures him. God will not excuse it in him. And yet it is not peculiar to Friends, but to the species, to deny, conceal, and most reluctantly to own it. Still, it is the statute of Jehovah's mercy and the limitation of its sway of glorious sovereignty, that the person of an opposite character, and he alone, shall be pardoned and saved. “ He that covereth his sins shall not prosper : but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” Prov. 28 : 13. Friends, however, have some peculiar ways of
covering” sin ; and very few ways of confessing
it. In the “ Journal” of their founder there are repeated asseverations of an almost immaculate innocency;" but scarcely such a thing as one humiliating confession of sin in all the two octavos ! And this characteristic, not without some exceptions, pervades the mass of their writings. They mystify the acknowledgment of their depravity ; throw it mostly into the third person universal ; and seem much estranged to the petition of the publican-especially its formal allusion to the atonement, which, you know, dear sirs, though unperceived in our translation, is a prominent excellence of the original. They speak of their wickedness as “a seed, a principle, a root," and so forth ; as if it were a physical malady, for which they were to be more pitied than periled or blamed, and not a mere moral evil for which they, and they only, are to blame;or, sin is no longer sin; and the difference between physical and moral evil is no more to be discriminated or believed. I need not add that to confound this primordial distinction, is to explode all moral government; to violate the public sentiment of mankind; to be condemned by the philosophy of more enlightened heathenism; to contradict our own moral organization and consciousness; to confound the day of judgment and the Judge himself ! If men are moral agents, absolutely and perfectly such; if all their moral conduct, right and wrong, is entirely voluntary, and subject to the jurisdiction of the Eternal Lawgiver; if their responsibility is necessary and entire ; if they can disbelieve the gospel, only by neglecting it, perverting it, avoiding