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§ 107. The Society of Friends, or Quakers.
Geo. Fox (founder of the Society of Friends, d. 1690): Works (containing his Journal, Letters, and Exhortations), London, 1694–1706, in 3 vols. fol.; also Philadelphia, in 8 vols. 8vo.
Robert Barclay (the standard divine of the Quakers, d. 1690): Works, edited by William Penn, London, 1692, under the title, 'Truth Triumphant through the Spiritual Warfare, Christian Labors and Writings of that Able and Faithful Servant of Jesus Christ, Robert Barclay,' etc. The principal of these works are: Apologia Theologiæ vere Christianæ, first in Latin, Amst. 1675; then in English, by the author himself; also in German, Dutch, French, and Spanish. The full title of the English edition is, 'An Apology for the True Christian Divinity, being an Explanation and Vindication of the Principles and Doctrines of the People called Quakers.' (I have a very elegant copy of the eighth edition, Birmingham, 1765.) A Catechism and Confession of Faith, approved of and agreed unto by the General Assembly of the Patriarchs, Prophets, and Apostles, Christ himself Chief Speaker in and among them. (The answers wholly biblical.) 1673. The same, in Latin (Catechesis et Fidei Confessio, etc.). Rotterdam, 1676. Treatise on Christian Discipline, etc.
William Penn (d. 1718): A Summary of the History, Doctrine, and Discipline of Friends (London, 1692); Brief Account of the Rise and Progress of the People called Friends (London, 1694); 'Quakerism a New Nickname for Old Christianity;' 'The Great Case of Liberty of Conscience Debated and Defended,' etc. Some of Penn's tracts were translated into German by Seebohm (Pyrmont, 1792 and 1798).
Gerard Croese: History of the Quakers, containing the Lives, Tenets, Sufferings, Trials, Speeches, and Letters of all the most Eminent Quakers from the First Rise of the Sect. London, 1696, 8vo.
William Sewel (d. 1725): History of the Rise, Increase, and Progress of the Christian People called Quakers. London, 1725, fol.; 6th edition, 1834, in 2 vols.; also in Dutch and German. (Charles Lamb pronounced this book 'far more edifying and affecting than any thing of Wesley and his colleagues.')
Joseph Besse: Collection of the Sufferings of the People called Quakers, for the Testimony of a Good Conscience. London, 1753, 2 vols. fol.
John Gough: The History of the Quakers. Dublin, 1789, 4 vols. 8vo.
Sam. M. Janney: History of the Friends. Philadelphia, 1859–1867, 4 vols.
Biographies of G. Fox, by Jonah Marsh (1848), S. M. Janney (1853), W. Tallack (1868).
Biographies of W. Penn, by Marsiliac (1791), Clarkson (1813), Ellis (1852), Janney (1852), Hepworth Dixon (1856).
III. Explanatory and Apologetic.
Thos. Clarkson (d. 1846): A Portraiture of Quakerism. London, 1806; 2d ed. 1807, 3 vols.
Joseph John Gurney (d. 1847): Observations on the Distinguishing Views and Practices of the Society of Friends. 7th edition, London, 1834; 2d American from the 7th London edition, New York, 1869.
Thos. Evans: An Exposition of the Faith of the Religious Society of Friends. Philadelphia, 1828. Approved by the Quakers at a meeting held in Philadelphia, Oct. 19, 1827, and often printed. (Manchester edition, 1867.)
The Ancient Testimony of the Religious Society of Friends,... revived and given forth by the Yearly Meeting held in Philadelphia in the Fourth Month, 1843. Philadelphia, at Friends' book-store. A summary of orthodox Quakerism, chiefly from the writings of Barclay.
W. I. Allinson: Art. Friends, in M'Clintock and Strong's Cyclop., Vol. III. pp. 667 sqq. (New York, 1870).
Friends' Review, a Religious, Literary, and Miscellaneous Journal. Philadelphia, so far twenty-nine vols. till 1876 (edited by Henry Hartshorne).
IV. Polemical and Critical.
For a full account of the literature against the Quakers, see Jos. Smith's Bibliotheca anti-Quakeriana; or, A Catalogue of Books adverse to the Society of Friends. Alphabetically arranged. With Biographical Notices of the Authors, together with the Answers which ham been given to some of them by Friends and others. London, 8vo, pp. 474.
Möhler (R. C.): Symbolik, pp. 488–532; Rud. Hofmann: Symbolik, pp. 514–520; Schenckenburger, Lehrbegriffe der kleineren protest. Kirchenparteien, pp. 69–102.
The Religious Society of Friends, as they call themselves—or Quakers, as they are usually called16481648 The name 'Friends' designates a democratic brotherhood in Christ. The name 'Quakers' is sometimes wrongly derived from the warning of Fox to the magistrates 'to quake for fear' and 'to tremble at the Word of the Lord' (Isa. lxvi. 2). It comes rather from their own tremulous utterance of emotion in prayer and exhortation. Barclay (Apology, p. 310, on Prop. XI.) speaks of the trembling motion of the body under the power of the truth, by which Quakers are exercised as in the day of battle, and says: 'From this the name of Quakers, i.e., Tremblers, was first reproachfully cast upon us; which, though it be none of our choosing, yet in this respect we are not ashamed of it, but have rather reason to rejoice therefore, even that we are sensible of this power that hath oftentimes laid hold of our adversaries and made them yield unto us.' Allinson says (1.c. p. 668): 'The epithet Quakers was given in derision, because they often trembled under an awful sense of the infinite purity and majesty of God, and this name, rather submitted to than accepted by them, has become general as a designation.'—originated in the Puritan commotion which roused all the religious energies of England.
It was founded by George Fox (1624–1690), one of the oddest saints in Christendom, a self-taught and half-inspired man of genius, who was called by a higher power from the shepherd's staff to the evangelism of the baptism by fire and by the Spirit. In early youth he felt inclined to ascetic retirement, like the hermits of old. He was a thorough mystic, and desired to get at the naked truth without the obstruction of church, sacrament, ceremonies, theology, and ordinary study, except the Scriptures spiritually understood. He loved to commune with nature and nature's God, to walk in the inward light, to enjoy the indwelling Christ, and to receive inspirations from heaven. He spent much time in fasting and prayer, he wrestled with the devil, and passed through deep mental distress, doubt, and despondency. His moral character was beyond reproach—pure, truthful, unworldly, just, temperate, meek, and gentle, yet bold and utterly regardless of conventional usage and propriety. He began his public testimony in his twenty-third year, and traveled through England, Holland, and the American colonies, preaching and praying with pentecostal fervor and power, revealing hidden truths, boldly attacking pride, formality, and worldliness, and exhorting to repentance, humility, and mercy. He sometimes interrupted the clergymen at public service, and the lawyers in court, and warned them against the wrath to come. He was a stern ascetic, clad in leather, and wearing long hair. He addressed every body 'thou' or 'thee,' and sublimely ignored all worldly honors and dignities.16491649 'The Lord forbade him,' says Sewel, 'to put off his hat to any man, high or low; he was required to Thou and Thee every man and woman without distinction, and not to bid people Good-morrow or Good-evening; neither might he bow or scrape his leg to any one.' He was nine times thrown into prison for breaches of the peace and blasphemy, and suffered much hardship and indignity with imperturbable temper; but towards the close of his meteoric career he enjoyed comparative rest. His 'Journal' gives an account of his labors, and is, in the language of Sir James Mackintosh, 'one of the most extraordinary and instructive narratives in the world.' Fox was providentially provided with the best aid in founding his society.
Robert Barclay (1648–1690) was the apologist and theologian of the Quakers, the only one known to fame. Descended from a noble family in Scotland, and educated in Paris, he became a convert first to Romanism, then to Quakerism (1667). He had therefore the advantage of an experimental as well as theoretical knowledge of the Scotch Calvinistic and the Roman Catholic creeds. He made various missionary journeys in company with William Penn; he walked through the streets of Aberdeen in sackcloth and ashes, and was several times imprisoned, but spent his last years in peace on his estate of Ury.
William Penn (1644–1718), the statesman and politician of the Quakers, and the founder of Pennsylvania, was the son of an admiral, and enjoyed the favor of James II. (his father's friend), which he used in the cause of justice and mercy.16501650 The charges of Lord Macaulay against Penn's integrity have been repelled by W. E. Forster (William Penn and Thomas Babington Macaulay, 1850) and J. Paget (Edinburgh, 1858). He himself was expelled for his religion from the University of Oxford and his father's house, and was twice imprisoned, but ably defended the liberty of conscience, and was acquitted. By his influence more than twelve hundred Quakers were set at liberty. In 1680 he obtained from the king, in payment of a claim of £16,000, an extensive tract of land west of the Delaware River, and organized a colony on the basis of perfect freedom of religion (1682). The city of Philadelphia, or brotherly love, became the chief asylum of persecuted Quakers, a century afterwards the cradle of American independence, and in 1876 the theatre of the most remarkable centennial ever celebrated by any nation. Penn was twice in America, but died in England. He made a treaty with the Indians, of which Voltaire said that it was the only treaty never sworn to and never broken. The United States government would have fared better with the aborigines of the country if it had followed the humane example of Roger Williams and William Penn.
The Quakers, during the first forty years of their history, were more severely persecuted than any sect of Christians had ever been, with the exception of the Waldenses, and bore it with unflinching heroism. Their eccentricities and fanatical excesses, their utter disregard for the courtesies and conventionalities of civilized life, their fierce abuse of the national churches (or 'steeple-houses') and clergymen, their opposition to tithes, salary, the oath, and military service, provoked the combined hostility of magistrates, ministers, and people. Their places of worship were invaded by the populace armed with staves, cudgels, and pitchforks; the windows broken by stones and bullets; their religious services rudely interrupted by hallooing and railing; their property destroyed or sold; their persons ridiculed, buffeted, assailed with stones and filth, dragged by the hair through the streets, or thrown into loathsome prisons and punished as heretics and blasphemers.
Cromwell, who had a tender feeling for all 'godly' radicals and enthusiasts, was rather pleased with George Fox, with whom he had an interview (1654); he allowed him to keep on his hat, and to speak about the mysteries of spiritual experience; and, although he disapproved his disorderly conduct, he pressed his hand and said, 'Come again to my house; if thou and I were together but an hour in every day, we should be nearer one to the other.' But Cromwell could not control the local magistrates and the rabble.
Under Charles II. the Quakers fared much worse, and notwithstanding the influence of Penn upon James II., who favored them for political reasons in the interest of the Roman Catholics, they continued to suffer until the Act of Toleration, in 1689, or rather until 1696, when by a special Act of Parliament their solemn affirmation was recognized as equivalent to an oath.
During the period from 1650 to 1689, according to the patient researches of their historian, Joseph Besse, no less than 13,258 Quakers suffered fine, imprisonment, torture, and mutilation in England, Scotland, and Ireland, 219 were banished, and 360 perished in prisons, some almost literally rotting in pestilential cells.
In New England they were not treated any better: 170 instances of hard usage are enumerated, 47 were banished, and 4 hanged (three men and one woman, Mary Dyer). In explanation, though not in justification, of this severity of the Puritan colony towards them, we should remember those offenses against public decency which led some Quaker men and women to invade churches during divine service, and to promenade the streets of Boston, Cambridge, and Salem in sackcloth and ashes, even in puris naturalibus, for 'a sign and wonder' (in imitation of Isa. xx. 2, 3), to symbolize the 'naked truth,' and to utter a prophetic 'testimony' against the 'hireling priests,' the tyrannical magistrates, and the wicked and perverse generation, warning them of the impending judgments of the Lord, who would come with fire and sword.16511651 Palfrey, History of New England, Vol. II. pp. 461–485; Dexter, As to Roger Williams,' etc., pp. 124 sqq. One such case of Oriental teaching by signs occurred also in England, and is mentioned by Fox himself in his Journal: 'The Lord made one to go naked amongst you, a figure of thy nakedness, and as a sign, before your destruction cometh, that you might see that you were naked and not covered with the truth.' See Stoughton, The Church of the Commonwealth, p. 360. Even Roger Williams, in his debate with the Quakers at Newport (1672), with all his liberality, condemned such conduct.16521652 He wrote a curious book, George Fox digg'd out of his Burrowes, etc., which was republished by the Narragansett Club, 1872, with an introduction by Prof. Diman. Comp. Dexter, 1.c. p. 138.
Notwithstanding these persecutions, the Society of Friends spread rapidly, and numbered about 70,000 members towards the close of the seventeenth century. They afterwards diminished in England, but increased in America, though not as much as other denominations. On the Continent they had only a few adherents in Holland and Germany.
The fanatical heat of the martyr period of the Quakers cooled down with the cessation of persecution. They became a sober, quiet, orderly, and peaceful community. The oddities which they still retain are perfectly harmless, and form an interesting chapter in the history of morals. Quakerism is not so much a new theology as a new mode of Christian life, representing the utmost simplicity in opposition to show, ornament, and amusement.
The Quakers are more radical than the Independents and the Baptists. They utterly broke with historical Christianity, and reject its visible ordinances, which the Independents and the Baptists retained. They kept aloof from the Puritans, and would have nothing whatever to do with the national English or any other Church or sect in Christendom. They oppose all outward authority in religion, though it be the letter of the Bible itself.
With such views they can not consistently recognize any binding standards of doctrine which might obstruct the freedom of interpretation of the divine Word under the direct illumination of the Spirit.
Nevertheless, with all their radicalism, the Quakers retained the substance of the Christian faith, and, following the example of the early Christians, they set forth their tenets in a number of apologies against the misrepresentations of their enemies. The first 'Confession and Profession of Faith in God' was published by Richard Farnsworth in 1658. Similar apologetic documents followed in 1659 and 1661 by George Fox the Younger, in 1662 by John Crook, in 1664 by William Smith, in 1668 by William Penn, in 1671 by Whitehead and Perm, in 1698 by Penn and others, in 1671, 1675, and 1682 by George Fox.16531653 On these earlier confessions, see Evans, pp. xii. sqq.
The ablest and most authoritative exposition of the belief of the Quakers is the 'Apology' of Robert Barclay, written in his quiet retreat in Ury, Scotland, 1675, and addressed to Charles II. It is his most elaborate work, and is still held in the highest estimation by the orthodox Friends. He pays the school-divinity the compliment that, although it takes up almost a man's whole life-time to learn, it 'brings not a whit nearer to God, neither makes any man less wicked or more righteous.' 'Therefore,' he continues, 'hath God laid aside the wise and the learned and the disputers of this world, and hath chosen a few despicable and unlearned instruments as he did fishermen of old, to publish his pure and naked truth, and to free it of those mists and fogs wherewith the clergy hath clouded it.' Nevertheless, Barclay makes use of a considerable amount of learning—classical, patristic, and modern—for the defense of his views.
The 'Catechism' of Barclay (written in 1673) treats in fourteen
chapters of the doctrines of the Christian faith, and answers the questions in the
language of the Bible, without addition or comment, evidently for the purpose
of showing the entire harmony of the Quakers with the written Word of God.
Their distinctive peculiarities are skillfully put into the question, and
the Scripture passages are so selected as to
confirm them.16541654 Comp. Ch. XI., concerning Baptism,
and Bread and Wine. I will select, as a specimen, the questions on the Lord's Supper:
I perceive there was a baptism of water, which was John's
baptism, and is therefore by John himself contradistinguished from Christ's:
was there not likewise something of the like nature appointed by Christ to
his disciples, of eating bread, and drinking wine, in remembrance of him?
'Ans. For I have received of the Lord, that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread; and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat; this is my body which is broken for you; this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood; this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. 1 Cor. xi. 23–25.
'Ques. How long was this to continue?
Ans. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death till he come. 1 Cor. xi. 26.
'Ques. Did Christ promise to come again to his disciples?
'Ans. And I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you. Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words, and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. John xiv. 18, 23.
'Ques. Was this an inward coming?
'Ans. At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. John xiv. 20.
'Ques. But it would seem this was even practiced by the church of Corinth, after Christ was come inwardly: was it so, that there were certain appointments positively commanded, yea, and zealously and conscientiously practiced by the saints of old, which were not of perpetual continuance, nor yet now needful to be practiced in the Church?
'Ans. If I then your Lord and Master have washed your feet, ye ought also to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. John xiii. 14, 15.
'For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to us, to lay upon you no greater burthen than these necessary things: that ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication; from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well: Fare ye well. Acts xv. 28, 29.
'Is any man sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. James v. 14.
'Ques. These commands are no less positive than the other; yea, some of them are asserted as the very sense of the Holy Ghost, as no less necessary than abstaining from fornication, and yet the generality of Protestants have laid them aside, as not of perpetual continuance: but what other Scriptures are there, to show that it is not necessary for that of bread and wine to continue?
'Ans. For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. Rom. xiv. 17.
'Let no man therefore judge you in meat or drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days. Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances (touch not, taste not, handle not: which all are to perish with the using), after the commandments and doctrines of men? Col. ii. 16, 20–22.
'Ques. These Scriptures are very plain, and say as much for the abolishing of this, as to any necessity, as aught that can be alleged for the former: but what is the bread then, wherewith the saints are to be nourished?
'Ans. Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven, but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven,' etc.
Then follows the whole section, John vi. 32–35, 48–58. To the Catechism is added a brief 'Confession of Faith,' in twenty-three Articles, which is almost entirely composed of Scripture passages.
THE DISTINCTIVE PRINCIPLES OF THE FRIENDS.
The Friends are few in number, but honorably distinguished for their philanthropy, their consistent advocacy of religious freedom and the universal rights of men, their zeal in behalf of prison reform, the abolition of slavery and war. In private and social life they excel in simplicity, honesty, neatness, temperance, self-control, industry, and thrift. Their oddities in dress and habits are the shadows of virtues.
In theology and religion they are on the extreme border of Protestant orthodoxy, and reject even a regular ministry and the visible sacraments; yet they strongly believe in the supernatural and the constant presence and power of the Holy Spirit. They hold the essentials of the evangelical faith, the divine inspiration and infallibility of the Scriptures (though they disparage the letter and the human means of interpretation), the doctrine of the Trinity (in substance, though not in name),16551655 I can not find the term Trinity in Fox's Journal nor in Barclay's Apology, but both teach very clearly that Christ is God, and that the Holy Spirit is God, that all knowledge of the Father comes through the Son, and all knowledge of the Son through the Holy Spirit. the incarnation, the divinity of Christ, the atonement by his blood, the regeneration and sanctification by the Spirit, everlasting life and everlasting punishment. And while they deny the necessity of water baptism and the Lord's Supper as a participation of the elements of bread and wine, and regard such rites as a relapse into the religion of forms and shadows, they believe in the inward substance or invisible grace of the sacraments, viz., the baptism of the Spirit and fire, and the vital communion with Christ by faith. They belong to the supernaturalistic line of Protestant dissenters, while the Socinians and Unitarians tend in the opposite rationalistic direction.
Several of the peculiar views and practices of the Quakers were anticipated by Carlstadt, the Zwickau Prophets, the Mennonites, and especially by Caspar von Schwenkfeld, a pious and retiring nobleman of Silesia (born 1490, banished 1548, d. 1561 at Ulm). Schwenkfeld embraced and preached the doctrines of the Lutheran Reformation with zeal till 1524, when he adopted, as by a higher revelation, a peculiar view of the Lord's Supper, explaining the words of institution to mean, My body is this bread, i.e., spiritual nourishment for the soul.16561656 He understood σῶμα and αἷμα to be the subject, and τοῦτο the predicate. He also taught the deification of Christ's flesh, and opposed bibliolatry and all outward ecclesiasticism. A small remnant of his sect that was banished from Germany still survives in the eastern counties of Pennsylvania.16571657 See Erbkam, Geschichte der protest. Sekten im Zeitalter der Reformation, pp. 357 sqq., and Kadelbach, Geschichte K. v. Schwenkfeld's, etc. (Lauban, 1861). The German Catechism of the Schwenkfeldians of Pennsylvania, by Christopher Schultz, Senior (translated by Daniel Rupp, Stippackville, Pa. 1863), teaches Schwenkfeld's peculiar doctrine of the Lord's Supper, but not the deification of Christ's flesh. There is, however, no historical connection between George Fox and these predecessors. His views were entirely his own. The history of the Roman Catholic Church furnishes a parallel in the quietism of Miguel de Molinos (1627–1698), who taught that Christian perfection consists in the sweet repose of all the mental faculties in God, and in indifference to all the actions of the body. He was condemned as a heretic by Pope Innocent XI. (1687), and shut up for life in a monastic prison.
Quakerism is a system of mystic spiritualism. It is the only organized sect of mystics in England and America. The strong practical common-sense of the English race is constitutionally averse to mystic tendencies. Quakerism is an extreme reaction against ecclesiasticism, sacerdotalism, and sacramentalism. It demonstrates the paramount importance of the spirit in opposition to the worship of the letter; the superiority and independence of the inward and invisible in opposition to the overestimate of the external and visible; and the power of silence against the excess of speech.
Christianity undoubtedly is spirit and life, and may exist under different forms, or if necessary without form, like the spirit in the disembodied state. But the normal condition is a sound spirit in a sound body, and while God is independent of his own ordinances, we are bound to them. The Quakers make the exception the rule, but by the law of reaction formalism takes revenge. Their antiformalism becomes itself a stereotyped form, and their peculiar hats and coats are as distinctive as the clerical surplice and gown. When they leave their Society they usually join the Episcopal Church, the most formal among the Protestant denominations.
THE INNER LIGHT.
The ruling principle of Quakerism is the universal inner light.16581658 Penn (in the Preface to Fox's Journal, p. xiv.) calls it 'the fundamental principle which is as the corner-stone of their fabric, and, to speak eminently and properly, their characteristic or main distinguishing point or principle, viz., the light of Christ within, as God's gift for man's salvation. This is as the root of the goodly tree of doctrines that grew and branched out from it.' Fox's Journal is full of it; see the list of passages in Vol. II. pp. 551 sq. of the 6th ed. (Leeds, 1836). It is also called the seed, the Word of God, the gift of God, the indwe1ling Christ. This is not to be confounded with reason or conscience, or any natural faculty of man.16591659 Barclay (Apol. p. 74) rejects the errors of Pelagians and Socinians, and teaches the corruption of human nature in consequence of the fall, but maintains, in opposition to Augustine, Luther, and Calvin, that God does not impute sin to infants until they commit actual transgression. Gurney says (l.c. p. 6): 'Never did they [the Quakers] dare to consider this light as a part of fallen man's corrupt nature; never did they hesitate to ascribe it to the free and universal grace of God through Christ Jesus our Lord.' It is supernatural and divine in its origin; it is a direct illumination of the mind and heart by the Spirit of God for the purpose of salvation. It is the light of the Logos, which shines 'in darkness' and 'lighteth every man that cometh into the world,'16601660 John i. 9. The difference in the construction of ἐρχόμενου εἰς τὸν κόσμον does not affect the universality, which is sufficiently sustained by πάντα ἄνθρωπον but the question is whether John means the light of reason or the light of grace, and in the latter case whether it is sufficient for salvation or merely preparatory to it. When Fox, on his second visit to Cromwell (in 1656), quoted this passage, he was met with the objection that John meant 'the natural light;' but he 'showed him the contrary—that it was divine and spiritual, proceeding from Christ, the spiritual and heavenly man' (Journal, Vol. I. p. 383). It is Christ himself dwelling in man as the fountain of life, light, and salvation. It is the primary source of all religious truth and knowledge. It opens the sense of spiritual mysteries; it convinces and converts; it gives victory over sin, and brings joy and peace. It is communicated to men without distinction of race or religion or education, not indeed in the same measure, but in a degree sufficient to save them if they obey it, and to condemn them if they reject it. 'The grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men.'16611661 Titus ii. 11. Other passages quoted by Quakers for their favorite doctrine are, Gen. vi. 3; Deut. xxx. 14; Rom. x. 3; Luke ii. 10; Rom. ii. 14, 15; Col. i. 23; Eph. v. 13; Acts x. 35. A day of merciful visitation comes to every human being at least once in his life, and marks a critical turning-point which determines his character in this world and his eternal fate in the world to come. To many the voice from heaven speaks often.
Cornelius was, under the divine influence of that light before the arrival of Peter and the hearing of the gospel. Socrates traced his better impulses to the divine monitor in his breast, who from childhood checked his evil passions without coercion.16621662 Apol. Soc. He calls his δαιμόνιον (in Jowett's translation) 'a voice which comes to me and always forbids me to do something which I am going to do, but never commands me to do any thing, and which stands in the way of my being a politician.' He goes on to say that in politics he would have perished long ago without doing any good either to the people or to himself. The case of Socrates is not mentioned by Barclay, but by Gurney, p. 42: 'When Socrates, as compared with his fellow-countrymen, attained to an eminent degree of disinterestedness, integrity, justice, and charity; when he obeyed the counsels of that unknown monitor who so frequently checked him in the hour of temptation; when he bore so clear a testimony to virtue as to be persecuted to death for virtue's sake—on what scriptural grounds can any man deny that he was made a partaker, to a certain degree, of a divine influence?' The savage Indians of North America followed the light when, after having been long engaged in war, they sacrificed a spotless white dog to the Great Spirit and threw their tomahawks into the lake.16631663 Gurney, p. 42.
If Christ died for all men, his benefits must in some way be offered to all. He is the personal Light of the whole world, which shines into all parts of the human family backward to Adam and forward to the end of time. As many are sinners without ever having heard of Adam and the fall, so many are partakers of Christ without any external knowledge of him or the Scriptures. Else idiots, infants, and the saints who died before Christ's advent could not be saved. Historical knowledge can not save without experimental knowledge, but experimental knowledge may save without historical knowledge.
The inner light agrees with the teaching of the Bible, though not confined to its letter. It is the true interpreter of the Bible, which without it remains a sealed book. It holds in this respect the same position which the Roman Catholic Church assigns to unwritten tradition, with this important difference, that tradition is an outward, objective authority, and confined to the visible Church, while the inner light is subjective, and shines upon all men.
Quakerism thus boldly breaks through the confines of historical Christianity and the means of grace, indefinitely expands the sphere of revelation, and carries the saving power of Christ, even in this present life, into the regions of heathen darkness. It must consistently regard all virtuous and pious heathen as unconscious Christians, who, like the Athenians of old, 'unknowingly' worship an 'unknown God.' Justin Martyr, the first Christian philosopher, advanced the idea that the 'Logos spermaticos,' i.e., the Eternal Word of God, before his incarnation, scattered the divine seed of truth and righteousness among the Greeks as well as the Jews. Zwingli taught the salvation of many heathen and of all children dying in infancy. But these were isolated private opinions; the doctrinal standards of the orthodox Churches—Greek, Latin, and Protestant—know of no Christ and no salvation outside of Christendom and without the written or preached gospel. The Quakers teach the absolute universality, not indeed of salvation, but of the offer and the opportunity of salvation.
This doctrine is the corner-stone of their system.16641664 Hence their name, 'Professors of the Light,' 'Friends of Light,' 'Children of Light.' It is the source of their democracy, their philanthropy, their concern for the lowest and most neglected classes of society, their opposition to slavery, war, and violence, their meekness under suffering, their calmness and serenity of temper. But the same doctrine explains also their comparative disregard of the written Scriptures, the visible Church, the ministry, the means of grace, the forms of worship, and their indifference to heathen missions. There is, however, more recently among orthodox Friends a growing disposition to aid in the circulation of the Bible, the work of foreign missions, and to associate with evangelical Christians of other Churches.
1. The Foundation of Knowledge.—The height of happiness is in the true knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ (John xvii. 3).
2. Immediate Revelation.—This comes from the Son of God (Matt. xi. 27) through the testimony of the Spirit.
This is the inner light which has already been sufficiently explained.
3. The Holy Scriptures.—They contain the revelations of the Spirit of God to the saints. They are a declaration of the fountain, but not the fountain itself; they are the secondary rule of faith and morals, subordinate to the Spirit from which they derive all their excellency and certainty (John xvi. 13).
4. The Condition of Man after the Fall.—All men are by nature fallen, degenerated, and spiritually dead, but hereditary sin is not imputed to infants until they make it their own by actual transgression. Socinianism and Pelagianism are rejected, but also the doctrine of the 'Papists and most Protestants,' that a man without the grace of God may be a true minister of the gospel.
5. Universal Redemption by Christ.—God wills all men to be saved; Christ died for all men; the light is sent to every man for salvation, if not resisted.
On this point the Quakers side with Lutherans and Arminians against Calvinists, but go far beyond them.
6. Objections to the universality of redemption refuted.
7. Justification.—Man is regenerated and justified when he receives the inner light. It is not by our works that we are justified, but by Christ who is both the gift and the giver, and the cause producing the effects in us.
The Quakers closely connect justification with sanctification, and approach the Roman view, with this difference, that they teach justification in our works, not on account of our works. Penn distinguishes between legal justification, that is, the forgiveness of past sins through Christ, the alone propitiation, and moral justification or sanctification, whereby man is made inwardly just through the cleansing and sanctifying power and Spirit of Christ.
8. Perfection.—Man may become free from actual sinning, and so far perfect; yet perfection admits of growth, and there remains a possibility of sinning.16661666 Penn (Preface to Fox's Journal, p. xiv.) says that the Friends 'never held a perfection in wisdom and glory in this life, or from infirmities or death, as some have with a weak or ill mind imagined and insinuated against them.'
The Methodists have substantially adopted this view, and call it entire consecration or perfect love.
9. Perseverance.—Those who resist the light, or disobey it after receiving it, fall away (Heb. vi. 4–6; Tim. i. 6); but it is possible in this life to attain such a stability in the truth from which there can be no total apostasy.
This is a compromise between Calvinism and Arminianism.
10. The Ministry.—Those and only those are qualified ministers of the gospel who are illuminated and called by the Spirit, whether male or female, whether learned or unlearned. These ought to preach without hire or bargaining (Matt. x. 8), although they may receive a voluntary temporal support from the people to whom they administer in spiritual things.
11. Worship.—It consists 'in the inward and immediate moving and drawing of the Spirit, which is neither limited to places or times or persons.' All other worship which man appoints and can begin and end at his pleasure is superstition, will-worship, and idolatry.
All forms and even sacred music are excluded from the naked spiritualism of Quaker worship. It is simply reverent communion of the soul with God, uttered or silent. I once attended a Quaker meeting in London whose solemn silence was more impressive than many a sermon. I felt the force of the word, 'There was silence in heaven for the space of half an hour.' At another meeting I heard one man and several women exhort and pray in a tremulous voice and with reverential awe, as if in the immediate presence of the great Jehovah. All depends upon the power of the Holy Spirit.
12. Baptism.—It is 'a pure and spiritual thing, a baptism of the Spirit and of fire,' by which we are purged from sin (1 Pet. iii. 21; Rom. vi. 4; Col. ii. 12; Gal. iii. 27; John iii. 30). Of this the water-baptism of John was a figure commanded for a time. The baptism of infants is a human tradition, without Scripture precept or practice.
13. The Communion of the Body and Blood of Christ is likewise inward and spiritual, of which the breaking of bread at the last Supper was a figure. It was used for a time, for the sake of the weak, even by those who had received the substance, as the washing of feet and the anointing of the sick with oil was practiced; all which are only the shadows of better things. (John vi. 32–35; 1 Cor. x. 16, 17.)
This doctrine of the sacraments is a serious departure from the universal consensus of Christendom and the obvious intention of our Saviour. It can only be accounted for as a protest against the opposite extreme, which substitutes the visible sign for the invisible grace.
14. The Power of the Civil Magistrate.—It does not extend over the conscience, which God alone can instruct and govern, provided always that no man under pretense of conscience do any thing destructive to the rights of others and the peace of society. All civil punishments for matters of conscience proceed from the spirit of Cain the murderer.
Here the Quakers, like the Baptists, commit themselves most unequivocally to the doctrine of universal religious liberty as a part of their creed.
15. Salutations and Recreations.—Under this head are forbidden the taking off the hat to a man, the bowings and cringings of the body, and 'all the foolish or superstitious formalities' which feed pride and vanity and belong to the vain pomp and glory of this world; also all unprofitable and frivolous plays and recreations which divert the mind from the fear of God, from sobriety and gravity. Penn said of Fox that he was 'civil beyond all forms of breeding.'
The Apology of Barclay is a commentary on these propositions.
Note.—The Hicksites.—In the year 1827 a schism took place among the Friends in Philadelphia, and extended to most of the yearly meetings in America, but had no influence in England. Since then the Quakers are divided into 'orthodox' Quakers and 'Hicksites,' although the latter refuse to be called by any other name but that of 'Friends' or 'Quakers.' The founder of this rupture was Elias Hicks, born in Hempstead, Long Island, March 19, 1768; died in Jericho, N.Y., Feb. 27, 1830.
He took strong ground against slavery, and abstained from all participation in the fruits of slave labor. He was for a long time an acceptable preacher, but early in the present century he advocated radical Unitarian and other heterodox doctrines, which shocked the majority of the Quakers and led to commotion, censure, and schism. The first separation took place in the Yearly Meeting at Philadelphia, and then a similar one in New York, Baltimore, Ohio, and Indiana. Many espoused the cause of Hicks, in the interest of religious liberty and progress, without indorsing his heretical opinions on the articles of the Trinity, the divinity, and the atonement of Christ.
The extreme left of the Hicksites broke off in 1853 in Chester County, Pa., and organized a separate party under the name of Progressive Friends. They opened the door to all who recognize the equal brotherhood of the human family, without regard to sex, color, or condition, and engage in works of beneficence and charity. They disclaim all creeds and disciplinary authority, and are opposed to every form of ecclesiasticism.
The Hicksite movement drove the orthodox Quakers more closely to the Scriptures, and called forth several official counter-demonstrations.
On the 'Hicksite' Quakers, see Elias Hicks, Journal of his Life and Labors, and his Sermons, Phila. 1828; and Janney (a Hicksite), History of the Society of Friends, Vol. IV.
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