« PrécédentContinuer »
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
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 doctrine-these texts of public and private import-Election, as of public import, relates to offices of usefulness, and not to salvation as of private, it relates immediately to the Jews--these had been elected, but were passed over for the Gentiles-nothing more unreasonable in this than in the case of Ishmael and Esau or that Pha, raoh'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.
THE Quakers conceive, that in their interpretation of the passages which are usually quoted in support of the doctrine of Elec tion and Reprobation, and which I shall now give to the reader, they do no violence to the attributes of the Almighty, but, on 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,
as they relate to the world at large; of private, as they relate to the Jews, to whom they were addressed by the apostle.
The Quakers, in viewing the doctrine as of public import, use the words "called," "predestined," and "chosen," in the ordinary way in which they are used in the Scriptures, or in the way in which Christians generally understand them.
They believe that the Almighty intended, from the beginning, to make both individuals and nations subservient to the end which he had proposed to himself in the creation of the world. For this purpose he gave men different measures of his Holy Spirit; and in proportion as they have used these gifts more extensively than others, they have been more useful among man kind. Now all these may be truly said to have been instruments in the hands of Providence for the good works which they have severally performed; but, if instruments in his hands, then they may not improperly be styled Chosen Vessels. In this sense the Quakers view the words "chosen" or or "called." In the same sense they view also the word pre-ordained," but with this difference,
that the instruments were foreknown. And that God should have known these instru ments beforehand is not wonderful; for he who created the world, and who, to use a human expression, must see at one glance all that ever has been, and that is, and that is to come, must have known the means to be employed, and the characters who were to move, in the execution of his different dispensations to the world.
In this sense the Quakers conceive that God may be said to have foreknown, called, chosen, and pre-ordained Noah, and also Abraham, and also Moses, and Aaron and his sons, and all the Prophets, and all the Evangelists and Apostles, and all the good men who have been useful in spiritual services in their own generation or day.
In this sense also many may be said to have been chosen or called in the days of the apostle Paul; for they are described as having had various gifts bestowed upon them by the Spirit of God. "To one was given the word of wisdom, to another the word of knowledge, to another the discerning of spirits, to another prophecy, and to others other kinds of gifts. But the self-same
Spirit worked all these, dividing to every man severally as he chose*" that is, particular persons were called by the Spirit of God, in the days of the apostle, to particular offices for the perfecting of his church.
In the same sense the Quakers considered all true ministers of the Gospel to be chosen. They believe that no imposition of hands or human ordination can qualify for this office. God, by means of his Holy Spirit alone, prepares such as are to be the vessels in his house. Those therefore, who, in obedience to this Spirit, come forth from the multitude to perform spiritual offices, may be said to be called or chosen.
In this sense nations may be said to be chosen also: such were the Israelites, who, by means of their peculiar laws and institutions, were kept apart from the other inhabitants of the world.
Now the dispute is, if any persons should be said to have been chosen in the Scripturelanguage, for what they were so chosen. The favourers of the doctrine of Election and Reprobation say, for their salvation.
* 1 Cor. xii. 10, 11.