Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

age.

on the ministry, was commenced in that year, when he might be about thirty years

of To revert to an earlier period of the Author's life, he relates many interesting circumstances attendant on the different religious views of the community at large, exhibiting the conduct of various parties about the eventful period of the Revolution in 1688; but the object of John Kendall seems to have been to select those parts, which referred more immediately to the Author's own religious experience.

There are however omissions even of this kind, some of which the present editor has supplied in the text, in the Author's own words, and denoted the respective additions by printing them in a smaller type, or, with but few exceptions, by placing a small letter of this kind aa bb at the commencement and conclusion of the part so added, which sometimes extends for several pages in continuity. Some few passages are omitted, which were in the former Abridgment.

On an occasion subsequent to the Revolution just adverted to, the Author informs us that in the year 1691, Dr. Gilpin sent his son, a counsellor, under whom Thomas Story had been initiated into the study of the law, to invite him to the Doctor's residence at Scaleby-Castle ; and desiring to see some of the Quakers' books, supposing that Thomas Story had been imposed on by reading them.

It appears however that the Author had not then read any books of this kind, though some were in his

possession; but apprehending the Doctor was preparing something relative to what are termed the two sacraments, to discourse with him upon, he “began to search out some Scriptures in defence of his own sentiments;” but as he proceeded, he says: “I became more uneasy and clouded ; upon which I laid down my Bible, and sat still looking towards the Lord for counsel.” “ And then it was clear in my understanding, that as the Doctor was in his own will and strength, though with a good intent, in his own sense, searching the letter, and depending upon that and his own wisdom, acquirements, and subtilty, leaning to his own spirit and understanding, I must decline that way, and trust in the Spirit of Christ, the Divine Author of the Holy Scriptures.”

He had just before observed in reference to his religious sentiments : “I had not all this while conversed with any Friend about their Principles, or read any of their books.” “ But I was favoured of the Lord with something to give me understanding and support in time of need, more excellent than books; for that book which had been sealed with seven seals, was now in measure opened by the powerful voice of the Lion of the royal tribe, and by the Holy Lamb of God! even the book of the eternal law of God, the law of the Spirit of Life from the Father, by Christ the Son, Redeemer of the world ; and my delight was to read day and night therein : by which I profited more, in a short time, in the knowledge of God and the things of his holy kingdom,

than if I could have read and understood all the written and printed books in the world.”

By taking abstractedly and alone testimonies like these to the power and efficacy of the “ Word which is very nigh in the heart,” it is highly probable has originated an unfounded idea, that some of our early Friends did not duly appreciate the Sacred Volume. In order however to form a correct estimate of their opinions in this respect, we must not only consider the circumstances in which they were placed, but must take into view the further sentiments which they themselves expressed, in connexion with those testimonies to the Internal Word; and also their sentiments respecting the Holy Scriptures when speaking of them on other occasions.

In the instance before us, the Author, in direct opposition to the maxims of the learned Doctor with whom he was about to discourse, was to be brought from a dependence on his own natural and acquired abilities, and to be taught an humble reliance on Divine aid, consistently with the promises :" When ye shall be brought before rulers and kings for my sake, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate ; but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye ; for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost.” 66 The Comforter shall bring all things to your remembrance.” Fully to attain this blessed experience, how must a man be reduced and emptied of himself! Though on this occasion the Author felt relieved in

desisting from any previous preparation, yet, in this satisfactory disconrse with the doctor, (See p. 90-100 of this vol.) he freely applied Scripture in support of his views; and we may judge of the high estimation in which he held the Sacred Writings, by what has been already quoted, in which we see he describes them as emanating from “ the Spirit of Curist, the Divine Author of the Holy Scriptures." And to the passage recently adduced, in which he speaks of an Instructor, superior to reading, he adds : “ It must be allowed that the reading of good books, ESPECIALLY the HOLY SCRIPTURES, the cHIEF OF ALL, and upon which the Truth of the rest depends, is HIGHLY PROFITABLE and commendable."

The Author made very free and frequent use of the Sacred Volume, in all the discourses which he had with others on religious subjects; and it is obvious that he considered it superior to all other writings, and to be Divinely inspired; but though “able to make wise unto salvation THROUGH FAITH WHICH IS IN Curist JESUS;” yet he had been taught by experience, that even words proceeding from Inspiration were of little avail, without the renewed efficacy of Divine Influence, flowing from the same Fountain of Inspiration whence the Scriptures had proceeded.

We have the testimony of the Holy Scriptures them. selves, that man through unbelief or hardness of heart, could resist and reject the words even of our blessed Lord himself, when personally on earth; and as a memorable exemplification of this may be adduced, the occasion on which He said : “It is the Spirit that

quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing. The WORDS THAT I SPEAK UNTO YOU, THEY ARE SPIRIT and THEY ARE LIFE.” And yet consonant with the position just laid down, we are told, that “from THAT TIME many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with Him;" agreeably to our Lord's own declaration at the same time : " No man can come unto Me, except it were given unto Him of my

Father.” When thus given, the free agency of man admits of his receiving or rejecting the offers of Divine love and mercy graciously extended; yet we can in no degree command this Divine Influence : “ Repentance is the GIFT of God.”

The professors of religion, in the time of our early Friends, were too generally strangers to the operation of this gift of the Father in their own hearts. Hence, instead of coming unto Christ, they were trusting in the mere WORDS of Holy Writ without seeking after the evidences of Divine Life in themselves; so that very many might be addressed in the words of our blessed Lord : “Search

66 Ye search the Scriptures; for in them

ye
think

ye

have eternal life; and they are they which testify of Me; and ye WILL NOT COME UNTO ME that ye might have life.”

That the Author and others of our early Friends had ceased to depend on the mere letter, and were led about and instructed in a way peculiarly calculated, most feelingly to impress upon them the conviction of these solemn truths, is very obvious from the relation of their experiences left us upon record,

or

« AnteriorContinuar »