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• There are many unruly and vain talkers, and deceivers, especially they of the circumcision, whose mouths must be stopped, &c.'” These words," whose mouths must be stopped," Barclay has in capitals, such stress he lays upon them. In the same page he asks,“ What need of convincing and exhorting gainsayers, if to gainsay be no crime? Where should the unity of the faith be?” Pages 65, 66, after affirming that the church “ hath power to decide by the spirit of God, in matters funda, mental and weighty," and also in other matters of less moment, he asserts her “power by the same spirit, and not otherwise, being acted, moved, assisted, and led by it thereto, to pronounce a positive judgment; which, no doubt, (says he,) will be found obligatory upon all such, who have a sense and feeling of the mind of the spirit; though rejected by such as are not watchful, and so are out of the feeling and unity of the life.” Then he mentions such with whom he had to do, and their claiming the privilege of immediate revelation, saying, “ that they being moved to do such and such things, though contrary to the mind and sense of the brethren, are not to be judged for it; (they) adding, 'why may it not be so that God hath moved them to it?" Now if this be a sufficient reason, (says he,) for them to suppose as to one or two, I may without absurdity suppose it as well to the whole body.” After this, he brings in several instructive passages of scripture, and speaks of things being done,“ not from the pure moving of the spirit of God; but either from that which being puffed up, affecteth singularity, and therethrough would be observed, commended, and exalted; or from that, which is the malignity of some humours and natural tempers, which will be contradicting without cause, and secretly begetting of divi. sions, animosities, and emulations, by which the unity and unfeighed love for the brethren is lessened or rent.” Then he proceeds, pages 69, 70, saying, “ If it be granted, (as it cannot be denied,) that there may arise persons in the true church that may do such things, from such a spirit, though pretending con, science and tenderness; then it must also be acknowledged, that such to whom God hath given a true discerning by his spirit, may, and ought to judge such practices, and the spirit they come from, and have no unity with them.” Again, page 91. « That
ordinarily God hath, in the communicating of his will under his gospel, employed such whom he had made use of in gathering of his church, and in feeding and watching over them, though not excluding others." This he argues upon, producing several instances, and pages 93, 94, says, “ And indeed l 'mind not where, under the gospel, Christ hath used any other method; but that he always, in revealing his will, hath made use of such as he himself had before appointed elders and officers in his church; though it be far from us to limit the Lord, so as to exclude any from this privilege; nor yet, on the other hand, will the possibility hereof, be a sufficient warrant to allow every obscure member, to stand up and offer to rulc, judge, and condemn the whole body ; nor yet is it without cause, that such an one's message is jealousied and called in question, unless it have very great evidence, and be bottomed upon some very weighty and solid cause and foundation."
Thus far Barclay, and a plenty more very pertinent might be quoted ; indeed the whole of this excellent treatise would, I believe, if rightly perused, prove very profitable to a well disposed mind.
Next I find in an Epistle written by Joseph Pike, bound with the aforesaid piece, much wholesome advice. Pages, 6, 7, he says, “ There are, and always will be, different degrees of growth, in the members of the church of Christ; yet as all are growing in truth, and drawing one way, and aiming at the same thing, namely, the honour of the Lord and prosperity of his holy truth, there will be a general condescension and submission to one another; but more especially to godly elders and overseers. Here the strong and self-will of man is kept out, and the unity of the spirit, in an heavenly harmony maintained in those meetings, as well as among the whole body, or church of Christ.” And considerable more, showing, pages 8, 9, how “rebellion and confederacy against good order in the church, was very great and strong," and that " in some places they set up separate meetings.” But that “the Lord brought a blast upon that spirit,” &c.
But I hasten to William Penn's “ Brief Examination of Spiritual Liberty," a truly valuable performance; in my quotations from which, I shall mention the pages, as printed in his Select Works. He directs it, “ To the people of the Lord called Quakers," introducing it thus, page 598, (or 279, vol. 4th,) “Dear Friends, and brethren, it hath of long time rested with some pressure upon my spirit, for Zion's sake, and the peace of Jerusalem, to write something of the nature of true spiritual liberty. Liberty, one of the most glorious words and things in the world, but little understood, and frequently abused by many. I beseech Almighty God to preserve you his people, in the right knowledge and use of that liberty, which Jesus Christ, the captain of our salvation, bath purchased for us and is redeeming us into." Page 600, (283, vol. 4th,) he queries, “ But must I conform to things, whether I can receive them or not? ought I not to be left to the grace and spirit of God in my own heart?" This he answers at large, in which he says, “ It is a dangerous principle, and pernicious to true religion, and which is worse, it is the root of Ranterism, to assert that nothing is a duty incumbent upon thee, but what thou art persuaded is thy duty; for the seared conscience pleads bis liberty against all duty, the dark conscience is here unconcerned, the dead conscience is here uncondemned,” &c. As to the second part of the question," ought I not to be left to the grace of God in my own heart ?" he answers, “ that is of all things most desirable, since they are well left, that are there left, for there is no fear of want of unity; where all are left with the one spirit of truth, they must be of one mind, they cannot be otherwise; so that to plead this against unity, is to abuse the very plea, and to commit the greatest contradiction to that very doctrine of scripture, viz. “ that all should be guided by the grace and spirit of God in themselves," for the end of that doctrine is certainty.
They shall all know me, saith the Lord, from the least to the greatest; and I will give them one heart,” &c. After this, and a little more scripture, he proceeds, " Therefore, 1 must say to thee, friend, what if thou wilt not be left with the grace and spirit of God in thyself, nor wait for its mind, nor be watchful to its revelations, nor humble and quiet, till thou hast received such necessary manifestations; but pleadest against the counsel of the spirit of the Lord, in other faithful persons, under the pretence of being left to his spirit in thyself? by which means thou opposest the spirit to the spirit, and pleadest for disunity under the name of liberty.” Page 602, (289,) he says, “If I will not comply with him, that God hath made an eye, because I am not that eye, or an hand, because I am not that member myself, nor a party to the action or performance of that member, I resist the Lord, though under pretence of resisting man for the Lord's sake. And truly, this is the rock that some of our own time, as well as persons of former ages, have split
Further on, (page 290, vol. 4,) he says, “ Since the spirit of the Lord is one in all, it ought to be obeyed through another, as well as in one's self; and this 1 affirm to you,
the same lowly frame of mind that receives and answers the mind of the spirit of the Lord in a man's self, will receive and have unity with the mind of the same spirit, through another.” And a little after he says, “ The carnal man pleadeth being left to his freedom; and it may be, talks of being left to the spirit in himself too, the better to escape the sense and judgment of the spiritual man. It is, (adds he,) my earnest desire, that all that have any knowledge of the Lord, would have a tender care how they use that plea against their faithful brethren, that God put into their mouths against the persecuting priests and hirelings of the world, namely, “I must mind the spirit of God in myself.' For though it be a great truth that all are to be left thereunto, yet it is true, that he whose soul is left with the spirit of truth in bimself, differs not from his brethren that are in the same spirit; and as true it is, that those who err from the spirit of truth, may plead being left to the spirit in themselves, against the motion and command of the spirit through another, when it pleaseth not his or her high-mind and perverse will.” Page 603, (291,) he queries, “ But though this be true, which hath been alleged for heavenly concord, yet what if I do not presently see that service in a thing that the rest of my brethren agree in? In this case what is my duty and theirs ? Answer, it is thy duty to wait upon God in silence, (mark, Penn says in silence,) and patience, out of all fleshly consultations; and as thou abidest in the simplicity of the truth, thou wilt receive an
understanding with the rest of thy brethren about the thing doubted. And it is their duty, whilst thou behavest thyself in meekness and humility, to bear with thee, and carry themselves tenderly and loving towards thee; but if, on the contrary, thou disturbest their godly care and practice, and growest contentious, and exaltest thy judgment against them, they have power from God to exhort, admonish, and reprove thee, and, if thou perseverest therein, in his name to refuse any further fellowship with thee till thou repentest of thy evil.” Soon after this, he saith,(page 292, vol. 4.) “ This I affirm from the understanding I have received of God, not only that the enemy is at work to scatter the minds of Friends by that loose plea, Wbat hast thou to do with me? leave me to my freedom and to the grace of God in myself,' and the like; but this proposition and expression, as now understood and alleged, is a deviation from and a perversion of the ancient principle of truth.” Page 604, (293, vol. 4.) he saith, “ From the deep sense that I have of the working of the enemy of Zion's peace, to rend and divide the heritage of God, who, under the pretence of crying down man, forms, and prescriptions, is crying down the heavenly man Christ Jesus, bis blessed order and government, which he hath brought forth by his own revelation and power, through his faithful witnesses, this I further testify, first, that the enemy, by these fair pretences, strikes at the godly care and travail that dwells upon the spirits of many faithful brethren, that all things might be preserved sweet, virtuous, comely, and of good report in the church of God,” &c. Further, he adds, “ I warn all that they take heed of a slighting and obstinate mind, and that they have a care how they give way to the outcry of some, falsely entitled, “Liberty of conscience against imposition,' &c."
Thus William Penn upon the subject. Next I find in the writings of Isaac Penington, that deeply experienced valiant of the Lord, many passages very pertinent to the present occasion, sonie of which I bere relate ; page 406, folio edition, part 2.* he saith, “Christ is in other members also, as well as in one, and
*Page 353, vol. 4, octavo edition. Vol. II.-32