Images de page

formed any part of the creed which he intended 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.


[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]
[ocr errors]

And they must therefore conclude, either that no person has rightly understood it, and that it has hitherto been kept in mystery; or, if it be intelligible to the human understanding, it must be explained by comparing it with other texts of the same apostle, as well as with those of others, and always in connection with the general doctrines of Christianity, and the character and attributes of God. . Now the apostle Paul, who is considered to intimate that God predestinated some to eternal salvation, and the rest to eternal misery*, says, that “ God made of one blood all nations of men to dwell on all the face of the earth t;" that in the Gospel-dispensation“ there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian nor Scythian, bond nor free I.” He desires also Timothy “to make prayers and supplications and intercessions for all meng;" which the Quakers conceive he could not have done, if he had not believed it to be possible that all might be saved. “For this is acceptable,” says he,“ in the sight of our Saviour, who will have all men to


* Rom. chap. ix. + Acts xvii. 26.

Coloss. iii. 11.
§ 1 Tim. ii. 1,2,3,4,5,6.


be saved ; for there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all.” Again : he says “ that Jesus Christ tasted death for every man

And in another place he says,

« The

grace of God, which bringeth salvation, has appeared unto all ment." But if this grace has appeared to all, none can have been without it; and if its object be salvation, then all must have had sufficient of it to save them, if obedient to its saving operations.

If the doctrine of Election and Reprobation be true, then the recommendations of Jesus Christ and of his Apostles, and particularly of Paul himself, can be of no avail, and ought never to have been given. Prayer is inculcated by these as an acceptable duty. But why should men pray, if they are condemned beforehand, and if their destiny is inevitable? If the doctrine, again, be true, then all the exhortations to repentance, which are to be found in the Scriptures, must be unnecessary.

For why should men repent, except for a little temporary happiness in this

* Heb. ii. 9.

+ Titus ii. 11.


world, if they cannot be saved in a future ? This doctrine is considered by the Quakers as making the precepts of the Apostles unnecessary; as setting aside the hopes and encouragements of the Gospel; and as standing in the way of repentance or holiness of life.

This doctrine, again, they consider as objectionable, inasmuch as it obliges men to sin, and charges them with the commission of it. It makes also the fountain of all

purity the fountain of all sin ; and the Author of all good the fountain of all evil. It gives to the Supreme Being a malevolence, that is not to be found in the character of the most malevolent of his creatures. It makes him more cruel than the most cruel oppressor ever recorded of the human race. It makes him to have deliberately made millions of men, for no other purpose than to stand by and delight in their misery and destruction. But is it possible, the Quakers say, for this to be true of him, who is thus described by St. John,–“God is love ?"



Quakers' interpretation of the texts which relate to

this doctrinc--these terts of public and private import--Election, as of public import, relates to offices of usefulness, and not to salvationas of private, it relates immediately to the Jewsthese had been elected, but were passed over for the Gentiles-nothing more unreasonalle in this than in the case of Ishmael and Esauor that Pharaoh's crimes should receive Pharaoh's punishment -but though the Gentiles were chosen, they could stand in favour no longer than while they were obedient and faithful.

[ocr errors]

The Quakers conceive, that in their interpretation of the passages which are usually quoted in support of the doctrine of Election and Reprobation, and which I shall now give to the reader, they do no violence to the attributes of the Almighty, but, an the other hand, confirm his wisdom, justice, and mercy, as displayed in the Sacred Writings, in his religious government of the world,

These passages may be considered both as of public and of private import: of public,


« PrécédentContinuer »