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Having given this new view of the subject, I shall only observe further upon it, that the substance of this chapter turns out to be the same as that of the preceding; or, that inward redemption cannot be effected but through the medium of the Spirit of God. For Christ, according to the ideas now held out, must be born in men, and he must be formed in them, and he must rule them, before they can experience full inward redemption; or, in other words, they can.not experience this inward redemption, except they can truly say that he governs them, or except they can truly call him Governor or Lord. But no person can say that Christ rules in him, except he undergoes the spiritual process of regeneration which has been described ; or, to use the words of the apostle, “*no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Spiritt.”
1 Cor. xii. 3. + The reader will easily discern from this new view of the new birth, how meri, according to the Quakers, become partakers of the divine nature, and how the Quakers make it out that Abraham and others saw Christ's day, as I mentioned in a former chapter.
Quakers believe from the foregoing account that
redemption is possible to all hence they deny the doctrine of Election and Reprobation--do not deny the texts on which it is founded, but the interpretation of them-as contrary to the doctrines of Jesus Christ and the apostles-as making his mission unnecessary--as rendering many precepts useless—and as casting a stain
on the character and attributes of God. It will appear from the foregoing observations, that it is the belief of the Quakers that every man has the power of inward redemption within himself, who attends to the strivings of the Holy Spirit; and that as outward redemption by the sufferings of Jesus Christ extends to all, where the inward has taken place, so redemption or salpation, in its full extent, is possible to every individual of the human race, This position, however, is denied by those
Christians who have pronounced in favour of the doctrine of Election and Reprobation ; because, if they believe some were predestinated from all eternity to eternal happiness, and the rest to eternal misery, they must then believe thạt salvation is not possible to all, and that it was not intended to be uni. versal.
The Quakers have attempted to answer the objections which have been thus made to their theory of redemption. And as the reader will probably expect that I should notice what they have said upon this subject, I have reserved the answers they have given for the present place. The Quakers do not deny the genuine
any of those texts which are usually advanced against them. Of all people they fly the least to the cover of interpolation or mutilation of Scripture, to shield themselves from the strokes of their opponents. They believe, however, that there are passages in the Sacred Writings which will admit of an interpretation different from that which has been assigned them by many ;
upon this they principally rely in the present case, If there are passages to which two meanings
may be annexed, and if for one there is equal authority as for the other; yet if one meaning should destroy all the most glorious attributes of the Supreme Being, and the other should preserve them as recognised in the other parts of the Scripture, they think they are bound to receive that which favours the justice, mercy, and wisdom of God, rather than that which makes him appear both unjust and cruel.
The Quakers believe that some Christians have misunderstood the texts which they quote in favour of the doctrine of Election and Reprobation, for the following reasons:
First, because, if God had from all eternity predestinated some to eternal happiness, and the rest to eternal misery, the mission of Jesus Christ upon earth became unnecessary, and his mediation ineffectual,
If this, again, had been a fundamental doctrine of Christianity, it never could have been overlooked (considering that it is of more importance to men than any other) by the Founder of that religion. But he never delivered any words in the course of his ministry, from whence any reasonable conclusion could be drawn, that such a doctrine formed any part of the creed which he in. tended to establish among men.
His doctrine was that of Mercy, Tenderness, and Love, in which he inculcated the power and efficacy of repentance, and declared there was more joy in heaven over one sinner that repented, than over ninety-nine just persons who needed no repentance. By the parable of the Sower, which the Quakers consider to relate wholly to the word or Spirit of God, it appears that persons of all descriptions were visited equally for their salvation ; and that their salvation depended much upon themselves, and that where obstacles arose, they arose from themselves also, by allowing temptations, persecutions, and the cares of the world, to overcome them. In short, the Quakers believe that the doctrine of Election and Reprobation is contrary to the whole tenour of the doctrines promulgated by Jesus Christ.
They conceive, also, that this doctrine is contrary to the doctrines promulgated by the Evangelists and Apostles, and particularly contrary to those of St. Paul himself, from whom it is principally taken. To make this apostle contradict himself they dare not.