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extraordinary powers which the scriptures declare to have been given to the chosen prophets of God; to the out-pouring of the miraculous spirit in the days of Jesus and his apostles; and to the special gifts which were granted in the primitive age to the church ; whereas their statement of the case is, that man, as man, necessarily receives a portion of this divine influence—that it is naturally possessed by allbelievers or unbelievers, Christians or Heathens. This view of the subject, therefore, not only derives no support from the evidence by which the special gifts of the spirit are maintained, but is, in fact, irreconcilable with it; and, inasmuch as it supercedes its necessity, so it tends directly to impeach its truth.
If, however, we are held to the case of the prophets, apostles, and evangelists of scripture history, the Friends will, of course, not object to our drawing, at the same time, a comparison between the lives and writings and discourses of such scripture characters, and those of the prophets and apostles and evangelists of their church. Let then the reader, for his own satisfaction, compare the prophecy of Isaiah with the predictions of Burrough-the Psalms of David with the doggrels of Evansthe Acts of the Apostles with the Journal of Fox-the Epistles of Paul with the Letters of Howgiil. These-all of these—in the judgment of the Quaker, were influenced and guided by the inward light, the spirit of God; and yet, the causes being supposed the same, the discrepancy in the effects will be found to be as great, as, on their hypothesis, it is unaccountable. Nor let it be pleaded in behalf of the early Quakers, that they appeared and wrote in a dark and ignorant age, for, not to repeat what we have already said on this subject, assuredly the age was not more dark and ignorant than that in which the apostles entered on their mission. Surrounded by the mists of rabbinical traditions, and immersed in the thick darkness of Heathen superstitions, they, by the simplicity and power of their teaching, held forth the torch of divine truth, as “ a light shining out “of a dark place.” The Quaker apostles, however, appear only to have increased the gloom of their age, and by their mysterious uncertain light, rather to have rendered - dark"ness visible.” It is true, indeed, that according to the hypothesis of the Friends, the spirit, thus given to all, is given to different individuals in different proportions; but this remark will avail them little ; for, upon the principles and statements of the Friends, it would appear that they claim for themselves the possession of this spirit, not in a less, but, on the contrary, in a much higher degree, and to a far greater extent, than ever the apostles and inspired men of old pretended to. The apostles, it is true, were endowed with the spirit of power, which enabled them to work miracles in attestation of their mission, and as a sign, in those ages, to unbelievers : this extraordinary power directed them also in cases of difficulty connected with their mission, to which the unassisted judgment of the mind had proved incompetent; but, the apostles did not profess to speak and write and act in the performance of the general duties of their ministry, under the impulse of the divine spirit. Paul, indeed, expressly, on one occasion, distinguishes, when offering his advice, that he had received“ no commandment of the Lord” upon the point under inquiry ; but that he gave only his “ judgment.” (1 Cor. vii. 25, 26.) An avowal so pretentionless as this, is not to be found in all the writings of Fox! *
* Revelation being in its own nature a miraculous communication, its doctrines were evidenced to the world by miraculous means; hence, the reason and necessity of the gifts of the spirit at the first establishment of Christianity, by means of which the first teachers of, and converts to, that system, were enabled to exhibit such extraordinary powers, as were calculated to prove to the world, that God was with them. The continuance of these powers or gifts of the spirit to the present age, would have defeated the end for which they were given, as their continued recurrence would cease to excite attention, and would necessarily be resolved into the ordinary operations of nature; they were given, therefore, only for a season and for an object, and when that season had arrived and that object was obtained, these gifts of the spirit were withdrawn agreeably to the express declaration of the apostle. (1 Cor. xiii. 8.) “ But, whether there be
prophecies they shall fail, whether there be tongues they shall ceuse, whether " there be knowledge it shall vanish away." Addressed, as were the writings of the New Testament, to the church, in an age when these gifts existed, frequent reference would necessarily be made to their use, their operation, and importance-such reference being, of course, intended for that age only; but the
Quakers participating in the common error of supposing these scriptures were written for, and addressed to posterity, naturally apply the greater portion of such references to themselves. This delusion is, in some measure, aided by construing, in a mystical manner,various passages of scripture, in which the term spirit occurs, as expressive merely of the mind or disposition of the Christian, or the spirit and genius of the gospel. The doctrines of the gospel are also frequently and appropriately represented by the figure of light, and the same similitude is applied to Jesus, as the teacher of those doctrines. Thus he is called, (John i. 8.) “ The true light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world;" but translate, as it should be translated, the term world, as age or dispensation, and this passage expresses, that— all who come into the Christian dispensation, are enlightened (instructed) by Jesus—by the doctrines, the motives and hopes, he has set before his church. It is needless to say, that this and similar passages are mistakenly applied by the Friends, as evidence of the doctrine of the inward light, which light, if it exist in the manner defined and maintained by them, must render all the doctrines of the gospel as at best but useless, to those who possess this higher guide of action!
Without attempting to anticipate the judgment of the reader upon the case now presented, we confess, for ourselves, that rising, as we have done, from a perusal of the Quaker history, we want words wherewith to express our sense of the folly and presumption of such a people, pretending to a peculiar divine illumination! And what, even now
notwithstanding their acknowledged mental improvement-what now are these modern illuminati? We speak it from an honest conviction, and with no intention to give pain to a single member of the sect, that in our judgment, upon all subjects connected with religion, they are less informed, less clear in their views, and consecutive, in their reasonings, than any other class of the religious public. Why do we offer this reflection, but that it is in strict connection with the leading principle of their profession? for,“ where much is given, much shall be required.” Here is a sect possessed, as they tell us, in a peculiar degree, with the spirit of God; that spirit becoming their guide—their monitor--their instructor-inspiring their thoughts, and speaking in their voices; and, what are the effects ?Reader, hast thou ever been present at a Quaker meeting for worship ?-If not, then go thither for thine own convincement! It may not, however, be unprofitable, instead of endeavouring at the task ourselves, to give a sketch of one such meeting, as drawn by a masterly hand. Voltaire, it seems, attracted by the singularity of the Quaker sect, visited, when in England, one of their distinguished members, with the view of obtaining information concerning their tenets and professions. The lively picture which he presents of Quakerism in his Dictionnaire Philosophique, professes to be drawn up from the information then derived from his Quaker friend, Andrew Pitt, and from his own observations upon the body. Voltaire, we readily allow is, upon all religious subjects, a very questionable authority; at the same time, we may observe, that his testimony, in this instance, is not that of an enemy, as his writings abound in eulogiums on the Quaker sect, whose simplicity, morality, and love of peace, he takes occasion frequently to contrast with the pretensions and conduct of other Christian professors.
“ Such was the substance (à peu près) of the conversation which I had with this singular man; but I was greatly astonished when, on the following Sunday, he took me to the church of the Quakers. They have several chapels in London, that to which I went, is near to their famous pillar, called the Monument. They were already assembled, when I entered with my-guide; there were about four hundred men, and three hundred women in the place. The faces of the women were concealed; the men were
covered with their large hats ; all were seated-all in profound silence. I passed through the middle of them, without any one lifting up his eyes towards me. This silence continued for a quarter of an hour; at length one of them arose, took off his hat, and after some sighs—he uttered partly with the mouth and partly with the nose, a wire-drawn bombast about his belief of the gospel, of which, neither himself, nor any one else, understood any thing. When this maker of wry faces had finished his fine soliloquy, and the company had separated quite edifyed and quite stupid, I inquired of my companion, why the more sober ones amongst them permitted such folly? We are compelled to tolerate it, said he, because we cannot know, whether a man who gets up to speak, will be inspired by the spirit, or by nonsense (folie). In this state of doubt we listen patiently; we suffer even our women to speak; two or three of our devout ones frequently find themselves inspired at the same time, and then a fine uproar is made in the house of the Lord !!*
Upon the reasons which induce the Friends, not unfree quently, to submit to the nonsense that is talked at their meetings, we apprehend, Voltaire must have misunderstood his Quaker informant; as the following fact will evince, that they can foresee when a speaker will be moved by the spirit. We allude to a practice not uncommon amongst them, that of sending round hand bills, on the arrival, from a distance, of any highly-gifted speaker or minister, to collect their neighbours, to hear his discourse ; and it is found that, at the day, and hour, and place named, the spirit. moves accordingly. This, certainly, would appear to militate against the supposition, that the Friends do not know before hand, whether a teacher will be moved by the spirit; although it is certain that there are several rules observed by the society of Friends, with regard to the choice and approbation of those who are blessed with what is termed by them “ the outward testimony," which would seem to proceed upon an uncertainty as to the operation of the spirit on the oral powers of their speakers. We profess, indeed, not to understand these difficulties, they involve contradictions, which our spirit does not enable us to solve; but, shall con-. clude this article with another testimony, with regard to the intellectual standard of modern Quakerism, from no less & pen than that of Souther, the present Poet Laureat. Let
* Dictionnaire Philosophique de Voltaire, Tome 7. Not having any English translation of the above, we have felt it proper to adhere, in our translation, as closely as possible to the original, to which scrupulosity on our part, the spirit and happiness of the original is, in some measure, sacrificed. We would also observe, that there is a note to the above article, by the Editors, in which they say, that “ Andrew Pitt wrote afterwards to the “ Author to complain of his having added a little to the truth; and to assure
him, that God was offended at his having jested at the Quakers.”.
us see what, according to this writer, the inward lightthe supposed peculiar possession of the spirit of God, has made this people.
“ Their preaching strikes a stranger as ludicrous. You may conceive what it must needs be, when the preacher imagines himself to be the organ of inspiration; and instead of thinking what he should say, watches for what he believes to be internally dictated to him. Nothing, in fact, can be more incoherent than their discourses ; and their manifest inferiority, to those of any other sect, ought to convince them of the fallacy of the opmion upon which they proceed. It is not, however, the matter of these discourses which impresses those who are disposed to be impressed ; knowing the speaker to be seriously affected, they partake his feelings, and become seriously affected also. Their history affords a curious illustration of this: the mother of their chronicler was a Dutch woman, who being moved, as she believed, by the spirit, came to preach in England in the days of her persecution. She understood no English, and, therefore, delivered herself through an interpreter. One day it happened that the interpreter was not at hand when the call came upon her; and the person who attempted to translate her meaning, found that he could not understand her. The congregation, however, called upon her to proceed, affirming, that the RELIGIOUS FEELING WHICH SHE IMPRESSED UPON THEM, COULD NOT BE STRONGER IF THEY HAD UNDERSTOOD HER!"-Espriella's Letters, vol. 3, p. 92, 93.
In measuring the extent of fanaticism and folly which, from sources of undoubted authority, we have already adduced against the early Quakers, among whom, because they were the founders of the body, we ought to expect to find the sublime conceptions of the sect, even in higher purity than in our own days, the reader must keep constantly in mind, that these are the records of a body professing to be moved by the spirit of God, and to dwell in the light of God; the advantages of which are thus expressed by the founder of the sect in question ? But, dwelling in the light, all sects and “ all opinions and religions are discovered, and stand naked “ before the Lord, and before all who are of God, and are “ seen with the eternal eye?". And again, “Dwelling in the
light there's no occasion at all for stumbling, FOR ALLTHINGS " ARE DISCOVERED WITH THE LIGHT. Thou that lovest it " here's thy teacher, when thou art walking abroad, it is
present with thee, in thy bosom ; thou need'st not say lo “ here ! or lo there! And, as thou liest in thy bed, 'tis
present to teach thee and judge thy wandering mind, which “ would wander abroad.” — Fox's Doctrinals, p. 2 and 3. folio edition. The proficiency of the early and most apt scholars of this teacher is now before the reader; and, in our next, it will be our endeavour to prove, that its teaching has a direct tendency to UNDERMINE THE AUTHORITY OF THE SCRIPTURES, AND TO SUPERSEDE THE DOCTRINES QR THE GOSPEL.