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CHAP. 1. The introduction. Three questions proposed, stating the mat
ter to be treated upon. First, what is salvation? Ans. To be saved from sin, as well as from wrath ; and not from wrath without sin.
Being to write of the light of Christ within, the great principle of God in man, the root and spring of divine life and knowledge in the soul; that by which salvation is effected for man, and which is the characteristick of the people called Quakers, their faith and testimony to the world; I choose to consider it under these three following questions, as stated by none of the meanest of our adversaries, being comprehensive of the principle, its force, and friends; wherein I endeavour to solve those objections, as they natu, rally arise, which either have been, or may be, advanced against what is asserted by us, in favour of this divine principle, and its effects upon mankind : which I recommend to my readers' serious consideration ; desiring that patience and impartiality may keep them company in the perusal thereof; it being writ for their advantage, as well as our vindication, that they may have a nearer and clearer prospect
way the blessed ever trod to glory.
1. What is that salvation, which the light leads to ? 2. What is this light, and how does this light lead to it? And,
3. Who this he or they are, that obey this light; and, in obeying, attain salvation :
1. By salvation, we understand, as by scripture is deli, vered to us, Man's being saved from sin here, and the wages of it,' which is wrath to come. Whereby we are taught, utterly to renounce and reject the common acceptation of it, as the full and complete force of the word, viz. barely to be saved from punishment hereafter: in which security, through a vain expectation of salvation, whilst not really and actually saved from the power of sin, through the invisible power of Christ, thousands die. In short, we call salvation, Christ's making an end of sin ; destroying the works of the devil ; finishing of transgression; binding the strong man, and spoiling of his goods in the hearts and consciences of men and women; and bringing in his everlasting righteousness into the soul, whereby to cleanse, wash, regenerate, renew and refresh the soul;' in one scripturephrase, “ to save his people from their sins."
These are the times of refreshment, and this is the day of restitution; and thus is he King, to reign; Prophet, to give vision; and High Priest, to anoint with the holy unction, that leadeth his people into all truth, whose lips alone pre:
serve knowledge; and therefore it is the unchangeable gos. pel-rule to believers : and those who are thus freed, or saved here, from the power, nature, and defilement of sin, are the alone persons that are or shall be hereafter saved from eternal wrath and vengeance; the heavy recompence of sin. All this we understand by that word salvation ; and in this center the great and glorious prophecies and performances of Christ.
CHAP. II. The second question stated : particularly what is meant by
light. It is a principle that discovers the state of man, and leads to blessedness.
The second question runs thus : what is that light which leadeth to salvation, and how doth it lead to salvation ?
By light, I understand not the metaphorical use of the word; as when Christ said to his disciples, “ Ye are the lights of the world;" or, as the apostle speaks, “ Now are ye light in the Lord;” nor yet the mere spirit or reason of man; but Christ, that glorious Sun of righteousness, and heavenly luminary of the intellectual or invisible world : represented, of all outward resemblances, most exactly by the great sun of this sensible and visible world: that as this natural light ariseth upon all, and gives light to all, about the affairs of this life; so that divine light ariseth upon all, and gives light to all that will receive the manifestations of it, about the concerns of the other life. Such a light I mean by “ that light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world," and that leadeth those that obey it to eternal salvation.
The scripture says no less, John i. 4,9. “In the Word of God was life, and that (very) life was the light of men, that enlighteneth every man that cometh into the world.”
But to demonstrate it the most obviously that I can, to the lowest capacities, I shall evidence the nature and virtue of this principle, light, by the holy effects of it, which is the how, or the which way, it leadeth to salvation. This is so necessary in order to explicate the other, that as the tree is known by its fruits, so is the true Saviour by his salvation. If then I can make it appear, that the light, as obeyed in all its discoveries and requirings, is sufficient to salvation; all must yield to the efficacy of the light within.
I sball then, by the properties of this light, prove it sav. ing: in order to which, I shall begin with the first step towards salvation, viz. a sight of the cause of damnation; and that this is given us by the light within, the scripture is very plain, which is the great record of saving truth, and of that blessed testimony Christ has left to his flock.
CHAP. III. That the light within manifests sin ; yea, all sin. That apos
tacy, or sin in any, is no argument against the light. That the services of the Jews shew no imperfection in the light, but in the people, whose minds were abroad. If insufficiency against the light should be admitted, because of the wickedness of men, the same may be objected against the scriptures; which overthrows our adversary's assertion concerning their sufficiency.
The light, with which Christ lighteth all men, manifests sin, as these words import; “ For every one that doth evil, hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved :a" implying, that if they would have brought their deeds to the light, the light would have detected them, and tried them; which makes the light the touchstone, rule, and judge of conversation and practice. To which the apostle Paul bears express testimony, in his epistle to the Ephesians, “that whatsoever is reproved, is made manifest by the light; for whatsoever makes manifest, is light:b" where the universality of the apostle's assertion shews, that nothing that is reproved, as all sin is, is or can be excluded from the search or knowledge of this light: which takes in as well thoughts, as words and deeds. So that nothing being reproved, which the light doth not first manifest, how obvious is it to every understanding, that the light must needs have been, and be in all men, in order to such manifestation and conviction, or man could not have known sin,
It is as much as if the apostle had said, “Sin is that which damps all men; now it could not damn, if it were not reproveable; and it could never be reproveable, if the light did not manifest and condemn it as such.' So that our adversaries affirming the light not to be sufficient to discern all sin, is a flat repugnancy, and a downright giving of the lie to the apostle.' For, says the apostle, "all things that are reproved, are made manifest by the light.” But, say they, all things that are reproved, are not made manifest by the light. Sober reader, dwell'here a while, and after a little pause tell me, who deals most unworthily with the apostle, and the holy scriptures of truth, they or the Quakers ?
Obj. But it is objected, If there be that light in all men, how comes it, that all men are not convicted of their disobedience and duty, as the heathens of old, and many infidels at this day? Did the light in Saul reprove him for persecut, ing the church?
John iii. 20. Eph. v. 13. . That is the cause.
I answer, That this objection does no way impugn or lessen the efficacy of the light, although it greatly aggravates their evil that so rebelled against it. But that there were heathens, who became a law unto themselves, through the degree of light they had, by which they did the things contained in the law, and were preferred far before the circum. cision that kept not the law; the apostle Paul himself is very express in that known passage to the Romans, ch. ii. Nor are other histories silent, but loud in their acknowledgment of very divine attainments, which, by this light, several famous Gentiles arrived at; who, for their belief of One Eternal Being, his communication of divine light to men, the necessity of holy living, and of an immortality, with their strict manners, are left with honour upon record by credible writers, and their praises not a little augmented by after-ages, even of those called Christians too. Such were, Pythagoras, Timæus, Solon, Bias, Chilon, Anaxagoras, Socrates, Plato, Plotin, Antisthenes, Xenocrates, Zeno, Antipater, Seneca, Epictetus, Plutarch, Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, and others.
But what if Jews and Gentiles at any time did apostatize; and, particularly, what if Saul persecuted the church of God, putting disobedience for duty, murder for service, will it follow, that the light was insufficient ? By no means, but rather that Saul was rebellious, stiff-necked, resisting the Holy Ghost; as did his fathers, so did he: and thus much the words themselves shew; for it is said by the text, “ he kicked against the pricks.' Then it seems there were pricks : and where were they, if not in his conscience ? And what were they, if not the convictions of the light of Christ within him, which manifests evil, and reproves the deeds thereof? otherwise called the Son of God, which to the Ga. latians he said, “it had pleased God to reveal to him" : though Paul knew him not, nor his voice of a long time, his eye being darkened, and ear stopped by the god of this world, who had crept into the outward forms of religion, then, as now, and therein employed many emissaries to decry that pure, heavenly, and invisible life of truth and righteousness, which was then, and is now, begotten in the hearts of many, not only to confound the idolatries of the Gentiles, but to end the formality and outward services of both Jews and carnal Christians.
And I affirm on God's behalf, and with the reason of a man, that it is most absurd for any to charge the rebellion of men to the insufficiency of the light: for if men are wicked, is it not against knowledge ? And if it be, where is the
. Gal. i. 16.
fault? Else, if men are so, not because they would not be better, but because they neither see, nor know, nor are able to do better, how heavy, how black, and how blasphes, mous a character doth the consequence of such an opinion fasten upon the good and righteous God of heaven and earth; since it supposes him not to have given means sufficient to do that which he requires of them, and for not doing of which they are to be sentenced to eternal misery? But I confess, how deep soever this may stick with impartial spirits, I almost despair of entering some of our adversaries, whose souls are pinched up within the națrow compass most unmerciful kind of predestination; making the eternal God as partial as themselves ; like some ancients, that because they could not resemble God, they would make such gods as might resemble them.
I say, what else can be the tendency of this kind of doctrine, against the sufficiency of the light within, than that the gift of God is not perfect, or able, because men do not obey it: and that the talent God has given to all, is therefore insufficient for the end for which it was given, because man hides it in a napkin ?
Again, Let them tell me, would it be a good argument, that if the same corn should be sown in a fertile, and a barren soil, that growing in one, and not in the other, the fault should be in the seed, and not rather in the ground?
Who knows not, how tradition and custom have overlaid much of conviction, and benumbed the world, and that it is, through lusts and pleasures, become blind and stupid as to the invisible things of God? Alas! there had never been so much need of many exterior dispensations and appearances of God, in reference to religion, so much preferred by the professors of this day, had not men's minds been departed from the inward light and life of righteousness : so that they being outward and abroad, God was pleased to meet them there in some external manifestations; yet so, as to turn them home again to their first love; to that light and life which was given of God, as the way and guide to eternal salvation.
Nor could any of those things cleanse, as concerning the conscience; wherefore God still, by his servants and prophets, admonished and warned the people of old, “to put away the evil of their doings, and cease to do evil, and learn to do well, and to wash themselves, and to cleanse themselves ;e" for that all their exactness in outward services was otherwise but as the “ cutting off a dog's neck :f» a sacrifice equally pleasing. Wherefore the abrogation of
• Isa. i. 'Chap. Ixvi.