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many, feeling their advice to be addressed to themselves, have resolved upon amendment in the several cases, to which their preaching seemed to be applied.
As I am speaking upon the subject of ministers, I will answer one or two questions, which I have often heard asked concerning it.
The first of these is, Do the members of this Society believe that their ministers are uniformly moved, when they preach, by the Spirit of God?
I answer, They believe they may be so moved, and that they ought to be so moved. They believe also, that they are often so moved. But they believe again, that except their ministers be peculiarly cautious, and keep particularly on their watch, they may mistake their own imaginations for the agency of this Spirit. And upon this latter belief it is, in part, that the office of elders is founded, as before described.
The second is, As there are no defined boundaries between the reason of man and the revelation of God, how do the Quakers know that they are favoured at any particular time, either when they preach, or
when they do not preach, with the visitation of this Spirit, or that it is, at any particular time, a resident within them?
Richard Claridge, a learned and pious clergyman of the Church of England in the last century,
but who gave up his benefices, and joined in membership with this Society, has said a few words, in his Tractatus Hierographicus, upon this subject, a part of which I shall transcribe as an answer to this latter question.
“ Men,” says he, “ may certainly know, that they do believe on the Son of God, with that faith which is unfeigned, and by which the heart is purified; for this faith is evidential, and assuring, and consequently the knowledge of it is certain. Now they, who certainly know that they have this knowledge, may be certain also of the Spirit of Christ dwelling in them; for “ he that believeth on the Son of God, hath the witness in himself*." and this witness is the Spirit ; for “ it is the Spirit that beareth witnesst;" of whose testimony they may be as certain, as of that faith the Spirit beareth witness to.
1 John v. 10.
† i John v. 6.
Again: "They may certainly know that they love the Lord above all, and their neighbour as themselves. For the command implies not only a possibility of knowing it in general, but also of such a knowledge 'as respects their own immediate concernment therein, and personal benefit arising from a sense of their conformity and obedience thereunto. And seeing they may certainly know this, they may also as certainly know that the Spirit of Christ dwelleth in them, for "God is Love; and he that dwelleth in Love dwelleth in God, and God in him." And "if we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in ust." In the same manner he goes on to enumerate many other marks from texts of Scripture by which he conceives the question may be determined ‡.
I shall conclude this chapter on the sub
* 1 John iv. 16.
† 1 John iv. 12.
The Quakers conceive it to be no more difficult for them to distinguish the motions of the Holy Spirit, than for those of the Church of England, who are candidates for holy orders. Every such candidate is asked, "Do you trust that you are inwardly moved by the Holy Ghost to take upon you this office and ministration?" The answer is, "I trust so."
ject of the Quaker-preaching, by an extract from Francis Lambert, of Avignon, whose book was published in the year 1516, long before the Society of the Quakers took its rise in the world.
Beware,” says he," that thou determine not precisely to speak what before thou hast meditated, whatsoever it be; for though it be lawful to determine the text which thou art to expound, yet not at all the interpretation ; lest, if thou doest so, thou takest from the Holy Spirit that which is his ; namely, to direct thy speech, that thou mayest preach in the name of the Lord, void of all learning, meditation, and experience, and as if thou hadst studied nothing at all, committing thy heart, thy tongue, and thyself wholly unto his Spirit, and trusting nothing to thy former studying or meditation, but saying to thyself, in great confidence of the divine promise, The Lord will give a word with much power unto those that preach the Gospel.”
But besides oral or vocal, there is silent worship among the Quakers-many meetings, where not a word is said, and yet worship is considered to have begun and to be proceeding-worship not necessarily connected with words-this the opi nion of other pious men besides Quakers—of Howe-Hales-Gell- Smaldridge, bishop of Bristol-Monro-Advantages which the Quakers attach to their silent worship.
I HAVE hitherto confined myself to those meetings of the Society where the minister is said to have received impressions from the Spirit of God with a desire of expressing them, and where, if he expresses them, he ought to deliver them to the congregation as the pictures of his will, and this as accurately as the mirror represents the object that is set before it. There are times, however, as I mentioned in the last section, when either no impressions may be said to be felt, or, if any are felt, there is no concomitant impulse to utter them. In this case, no person attempts to speak; for to speak