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"Original Sin," because they never find them in use in the Sacred Writings.
The Scriptures are usually denominated by Christians," the Word of God," Though the Quakers believe them to have been given by divine inspiration, yet they reject this term. They apprehend that Christ is the Word of God. They cannot therefore consistently give to the Scriptures, however they reverence them, that name which St. John the Evangelist gives exclusively to the Son of God.
Neither do they often make use of the word" Trinity." This expression they can no where find in the Sacred Writings. This to them is a sufficient warrant for rejecting it. They consider it as a term of mere human invention, and of too late a date to claim a place among the expressions of primitive Christianity. For they find it neither in Justin Martyr, nor in Irenæus, nor in Tertullian, nor in Origen, nor in the Fathers of the three first centuries of the Church.
And as they seldom use the term, so they seldom or never try, when it offers itself to them, either in conversation or in books, to fathom
fathom its meaning. They judge that a curious inquiry into such high and speculative things, though ever so great truths in themselves, tends little to godliness, and less to peace; and that their principal concern is with that only which is clearly revealed, and which leads practically to holiness of life.
Consistently with this judgment, we find but little said respecting the Trinity by the Quaker-writers.
It is remarkable that Barclay, in the course of his Apology, takes no notice of this subject.
William Penn seems to have satisfied himself with refuting what he considered to be a gross notion; namely, that of three persons in the Trinity. For, after having shown what the Trinity was not, he no where attempts to explain what he conceived it to be. He says only, that he acknowledges a Father, Word, and Holy Spirit, according to the Scriptures, but not according to the notions of men; and that these three are truly and properly one, of one nature as well as will.
Isaac Pennington, an antient Quaker,
speaks thus: "That the three are distinct as three several beings or persons, the Quakers no where read in the Scriptures, but they read in them that they are one. And thus they believe their being to be one, their life one, their light one, their wisdom one, their power one. And he that knoweth and seeth any one of them, knoweth and seeth them all, according to that saying of Christ to Philip: "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father."
John Crook, another antient writer of this Society, in speaking of the Trinity, says that the Quakers "acknowledge one God, the Father of Jesus Christ, witnessed within man only by the Spirit of truth, and these three are one, and agree in one; and he that honours the Father, honours the Son that proceeds from him; and he that denies the Spirit, denies both the Father and the Son." But nothing further can be obtained from this author on this subject.
Henry Tuke, a modern writer among the Quakers, and who published an account of the principles of the Society only last year, says also but little upon the point before us. “This belief,” says he, "in the divinity of the Father,
Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, induced some of the teachers in the Christian Church, about three hundred years after Christ, to form a doctrine to which they gave the name of Trinity; but, in our writings, we seldom make use of this term, thinking it best on such a subject to keep to scriptural expressions, and to avoid those disputes which have, since perplexed the Christian world, and led into speculations beyond the power of human abilities to decide. If we consider that we ourselves are composed of an union of body, soul, and spirit, and yet cannot determine how even these are united, how much less may we expect perfect clearness on a subject. so far above our finite comprehension, as that of the divine nature!"
The Quakers believe that Jesus Christ was man, because he took flesh, and inhabited the body prepared for him, and was subject to human infirmities; but they believe also in his divinity, because he was the Word.
They believe also in the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead, as connected with the Christian religion. "In explaining our
belief of this doctrine," says Henry Tuke, we refer to the fifteenth chapter of the first Epistle to the Corinthians. In this chapter is clearly laid down the resurrection of a body, though not of the same body that dies. There are celestial bodies, and there are bodies terrestrial; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.-So also is the resurrection of the dead.-It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body: there is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.-Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.' Here we rest our belief in this mystery, without desiring to pry into it beyond what is revealed to us; remembering that secret things belong unto the Lord our God; but those things which are revealed, belong unto us and to our children."
The Quakers make but little difference, and not such as many other Christians do, between sanctification and justification. "Faith and works," says Richard Claridge, "are both concerned in our complete justification."-"Whosoever is justified, he is