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It has the power, the Quakers believe, of checking and preventing bad inclinations and passions,—of cleansing and purifying. the heart, -of destroying the carnal mind, of making all old things pass away, --of introducing new,--of raising our spiritual senses, so as to make us delight in the things of God, and to put us above the enjoyment of earthly pleasures. Redeeming thus from the pollutions of the world, and leading to spiritual purity, it forms a new creature. It produces a new man in the heart. casions a man by its quickening power to be born again, and thus puts him into the way of salvation.
“ For verily I say unto thee," says Jesus Christ to Nicodemus, “except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God *.”
This office and power of the Spirit of God is acknowledged by other Christians. Monro, who has been before quoted, observes, “ that the soul, being thus raised from the death of sin and born again, is divinely animated, and discovers that it is alive by the vital operations which it performs.” * John vi. 3.
Again,” says he, “ this blissful presence the regenerate, who are delivered from the dominion and cleansed from the impurities of sin, have recovered, and it is on the account of it that they are said to be the habitation of God through the Spirit, and the temple of the Iloly Ghost. For that good Spirit takes possession of them, resides in their hearts, becomes the mover, enlightener, and director of all their faculties and powers, gives a new and heavenly tincture and tendency to all their inclinations and desires, and, in one word, is the great spring of all they think, or do, or say; and hence it is that they are said to walk no more after the flesh, but after the Spirit, and to be led by the Spirit of God.”
Dr. Hammond, in his Paraphrase and Annotations on the New Testament, observes, that he " who hath been born of God is literally he who hath had such a blessed change wrought in him by the operation of God's Spirit in his heart, as to be translated from the power of darkness into the kingdom of his dear Son."
“ As Christ in the flesh," says the great and venerable Locke, “ was wholly exempt
from all taint and sin; so we by that Spirit which was in him shall be exempt from the dominion of carnal lusts, if we make it our choice, and endeavour to live after the Spirit.”
“ Here the apostle,” says Locke, “shows that Christians are delivered from the dominion of their carnal lusts by the Spirit of God, that is given to them, and dwells in them, as a new quickening principle and power, by which they are put into the state of a spiritual life, wherein their members are made capable of becoming the instruments of righteousness.”
And this Spirit of God, which thus redeems from the pollutions of the world, and puts a new heart as it were into man, is considered by the Quakers as so powerful in its operations, as to be able to lead him to perfection. By this the Quakers do not mean to say that the perfection of man is at all like the perfection of God, because the perfection of the former is capable of growth. They believe, however, that in his renewed state he
may be brought to be so perfect, as to be able to keep those commandments of God which are enjoined him. In this sense
they believe it is that Noah is called by Moses a just and perfect man in his generation*, and that Job is described as a perfect and an upright mans, and that the evangelist Luke speaks of Zacharias and Elizabeth in these words : “ They were both righteous before God, and walked in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blamelesst."
That man who is renewed in heart can attain this degree of perfection, the Quakers think it but reasonable to suppose : for to think that God has given to man any law to keep which it is impossible for him, when aided by his Holy Spirit, to keep; or to think that the power of Satan can be stronger in man than the power of Christ; is to think very inadequately of the Almighty, and to cast a dishonourable reflection on his goodness, his justice, and
Add to which, that there would not have been such expressions in the New Testament as those of Jesus Christ: “ Be
ус therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” Nor would there
Cien, vi, 9.
Luke i. 6.
have been other expressions of the apostlès of a similar meaning, if the renewed man had not possessed the power of doing the will of God.
This doctrine of Perfection brought the Quakers into disputes with persons of other religious denominations at the time of their establishment. But however it might be disapproved of, it was not new in these times, nor was it originally introduced by them. Some of the fathers of the church, and many
estimable divines of different countries, had adopted it. And here it may be noticed, that the doctrine had been received also by several of the religious in our own.
In the Golden Remains of the ever memorable John Hales, we find that “ through the grace
of Him that doth enable us, we are stronger than Satan; and the policy of Christian warfare hath as many means to keep back and defend, as the deepest reach of Satan hath to give the onset.”
“St. Augustine,” says this amiable writer, was of opinion that it was possible for us even in this natural life, seconded by the grace of God, perfectly to accomplish what