ORDER OF PUBLICATIONS--QUAKERS--"SNAKE IN THE GRASS"--PENN--OLIVER'S PORTER--CRISP--CALUMNIES--CONSPIRACY--TITHES--SOCINIANISM--ANECDOTES--SUPPLEMENTS--QUAKER AND SOCINIAN CONTROVERSIES--QUALIFICATION FOR ADMINISTRATION OF SACRAMENTS.
DURING several years from 1694, our author continued his original design of providing a complete armoury of defence for the Church of England against her various antagonists, within and without. Circumstances neither suggested nor materially affected this design, though they influenced both the time and manner of its prosecution. Some subjects were so interwoven and related to each other, that his treatises upon them proceeded simultaneously or alternately in parts. But the design itself was not altered by those circumstances which arose from time to time to vary slightly the manner of its execution. Deists, Jews, Quakers, Socinians, ranged themselves outside the Catholic Church in a natural order for consideration. Then followed other communities professing connection with her--Nonjurors, the Establishment and Erastians in the Church of England, the Gallican and the Roman branches. Intercourse with individuals or passing events only modified his plan so far as to affect the order of publication in some respects. Biographers, therefore, have been mistaken in ascribing the origin of several treatises to casual circumstances, as in the case of the next production of Leslie's pen which calls for notice, the "Snake in the Grass," with its sequels and supplements directed against Quakers. They formed a numerous and prominent sect at that time, compared with their present condition. And one main reason among others of their gradual loss of influence and consideration, was the completeness and effectiveness of his confutation of their tenets and pretences. They never recovered from the blow he dealt, and after a few angry recriminations the leading professors of Quakerism subsided into that silence which the community has generally maintained ever since. Hostility to the Church has not been abandoned; but its current is directed into safer, more secret channels of political antagonism, merged in the common flood of sectarian opposition to the Establishment. Adders' poison is under their lips still, but they do not bite so venomously and frequently in the nineteenth century as in the seventeenth. Nor with one exception have any parliamentary scorpions risen above the meanest level of mediocrity. Quakers now for the most part, if insignificant in numbers, yet really are more esteemed and respected than formerly, because they have receded from their aggressive attitude, and sloughed off earlier eccentricities and extravagances. Some other sects might advantageously take a lesson from their decorous and peaceable character. Why they should discard the name Quakers, and almost resent its application, is not very intelligible, for certainly it originated with their own founders, and was justified and gloried in by Fox, Penn, Ellwood, and others, as involving some moral or spiritual resemblance to Moses and Habakkuk, Leslie had no personal antipathy to any amongst them; on the contrary, a very kindly feeling to several. He wrote entirely in the interests of truth against error, as he earnestly assured them in his first treatise, wishing them to consider not who said it, but what was said. Before its publication he presented in a formal and respectful manner several productions, to which he invited a reply from their chief assembly in London; but this was evaded by lame and paltry excuses from one meeting to another. Nor could they reasonably object to inquiry or interference from outside, because Quakers themselves actively interfered in public affairs affecting the Church's interest, denied her doctrines, and denounced her discipline in most violent terms. No members of any sect, even Anabaptists, committed greater outrages against decency as well as the law of the land, or indulged in more scurrilous and abusive language against the clergy. Therefore they would have had no just ground of complaint had severer retorts been provoked by their offensive demeanour than he had any inclination to offer. But his object was not to quarrel with Quakers but refute Quakerism; and providential circumstances brought within his reach means and opportunities of performing what he deemed "a holy duty" towards them and society at large just at the most needful season, and in conformity with the original plan sketched out for himself.
London has undergone such immense and frequent alterations that little idea can be formed of a locality and its condition, or clue afforded for its identification by furnishing its name or situation two centuries ago. It may be mentioned, however, that our author, shortly before his treatise on Quakerism, had taken lodgings in the house of a member of this community, the Society of Friends, facing the new Exchange, into which his sitting-room looked, and where he remained for about twelve months or more. From this it may readily be inferred that his pecuniary circumstances were not in a very flourishing condition, for he had a wife and now two children to provide for. The neighbourhood was on some accounts favourable to him from its contiguity to churches the most numerously attended, and to clubs or coffee-houses which his own friends frequented, religious, literary, and political. There was the real London of that day, the centre of its life and activity; where people brought the latest news and inquired for it; where plots were hatched or pretended; where men and books were discussed by friends and foes unceasingly. Society was not so exclusive as at the present day, nor religion and politics so palpably subjugated to material considerations of rank and wealth. A name meant something, whether that something were good or bad. Then also literature and literary men stood in higher estimation, though not so many persons pretended to education among the higher and middle classes. To have written a learned treatise, or a really able and vigorous pamphlet upon any side of a question, was a sure passport to admiration, with of course some envy or detraction, much more than to possess a fine-house, hold a lucrative post, or slaughter numberless birds. Nonjurors and Jacobites naturally resorted to London, not only because of a similarity of plumage and congeniality of tastes, but, their resources being greatly crippled, they thus could more readily enjoy that relaxation and social intercourse which the majority, being men of cultivated intellect, desired, but could not find elsewhere. Oxford was also a favourite resort for the same reason, and the still greater advantages it afforded for study of books, so as to give rise to the saying that "its streets were paved with the skulls of Jacobites," though the real author of that saying was not Dr. Johnson, as commonly supposed, but Sir Simon Har-court.1 The great lexicographer consciously or unconsciously adopted it, to stereotype an important fact of history.
Whether Leslie selected his lodging with an eye to the object he had in view of confuting Quakerism or not is a point of little consequence; but nothing could have proved more opportune, for thus facilities were afforded of acquiring full and accurate information concerning their peculiar tenets. Conversation with his landlord produced so strong an impression as to lead to discussion with many more of the Society invited to be present on various occasions, who brought with them their own books for reference, and stated in the freest manner their opinions and objections. The happy result of these conversations and debates was at length the conversion not only of the landlord and his family but also of several other persons.
Another special reason served to concentrate attention on this subject about the same time. Leslie's known adhesion to the cause of the Royal family in exile necessarily brought him into contact with a great number of persons, some of whom proved occasionally a source of embarrassment; for acquaintance with them furnished a handle of suspicion among Government spies and tale-bearers, though the Government themselves showed no desire to meddle with him. Appeals for pecuniary assistance were not unfre-qucnt, which it was difficult to refuse even by one whose own resources were slender, and in some cases, as that of the family of the late Bishop of Oxford, friendship strengthened the claim of most undeserved suffering. Many who complained most loudly of that poor bishop's subserviency to James, might have formed a more lenient judgment had they known how much he needed some office in coin-mendam to eke out a very scanty income, and in what absolute destitution at last his family were left, so that the burden was even beyond the power of a few friends like Leslie to sustain alone. Dr. Kennct, the intruded bishop at Peterborough, was one who, with his characteristic kindness even to opponents, assisted in this case when made known to him. But there were many more claimants upon Jacobites and Nonjurors, of whom none knew but themselves; some good, and some bad perhaps, none the less possessing a strong title to commiseration when fellow-sufferers for conscience' sake. Now conspicuous as a Royalist among his acquaintances stood the famous William Penn, whom Macaulay the historian has so ungenerously laboured to depreciate, owing to a family pique against the Quakers. He was really a man of superior powers and education as well as of good birth, united with winning manners and address. Had he not possessed more than ordinary talents he could never have attained the position which he had gained, in spite of his peculiar opinions, under two Sovereigns. Nor is there any reasonable ground for imputation upon his integrity in the various matters of business which he was called upon to undertake at different times. On all occasions he seems to have acted uprightly as a Christian gentleman of more than ordinary sagacity; and the only inexplicable thing is how such a person could have apostatized from the Church of England, in which he had been brought up, to embrace the delusions of this fanatical body. Most of them were notoriously illiterate, especially the founder, George Fox, a journeyman shoemaker or cobbler, who could not write or speak English grammatically, and who, in presuming to interpret Holy Scripture, made the most extraordinary blunders about simple texts and matters of fact which children are supposed to understand. Probably Penn was the only person then of the slightest pretence to learning in the whole community, though they had since their origin in 1650, and introduction into London in 1654, increased in wealth and importance beyond most other sects. Several undertook to write books and pamphlets, which only' showed them to be without the most elementary rudiments of education, so that they had done better to adhere exclusively to profession of inspiration and infallibility. Whereas a majority of Quakers were republicans and radicals; though Leslie shows how they could shift their ground before and after the Restoration in addresses to the king; Penn steadfastly and sincerely devoted himself to the house of Stuart both in prosperity and adversity. His loyalty to the Throne remained beyond dispute, even when he had unhappily apostatized from the Altar on which it most properly rested. His position, accordingly, was an anomalous and influential one, which he knew well how best to turn to advantage without detriment to his high character. Such a man could not fail to enlist the sympathy and esteem of many who otherwise might have held aloof or even shunned his acquaintance. Leslie treated him with a particular respect upon every occasion. More than that, deeply deploring to see one of such breadth of understanding carried away by a spirit of fanaticism, he addressed to him several personal remonstrances. Sceptics, who cannot understand a Christian's feeling in converting even a Gildon from the error of his way, would deem it no doubt a great triumph to have recovered Mr. Penn. Leslie, who fully estimated the influence of his example, appealed the more earnestly to his sober judgment, but failed; not because his arguments were unconvincing, but because prejudice was more powerful than argument. It should be remembered, moreover, that what first warped and alienated the mind of Penn from the Church of England was the flagrant treasons and inconsistencies of a multitude of her own professing teachers and disciples in the revolutionary ranks. The effort to win him back, though it failed, was a noble one. Equally creditable was Penn's conduct in one respect. He displayed no feeling of indignation at the remonstrances or censures addressed to him upon his religious system. All was taken in good part as intended, and, whereas he could make use of very severe and decided language when he thought proper towards co-religionists as well as others, none of those abusive epithets and angry taunts in which they lavishly indulged ever escaped his lips against Leslie. The friendly footing established between them continued unimpared by the determined adherence of each to his own system.
A larger amount of space was devoted to the Quaker controversy than relatively to others it might seem to merit. None, except the Socinian, has been treated at such length. This arose in the first place from the number and variety of points disputed; for Quakerism was but "one branch of enthusiasm," and a form embracing errors held by other fanatics. To confute one, therefore, was to confute them all, whatever name they might pass under. In the next place, from the necessity of supporting charges made against the community by evidence capable of test at the time when they were made. Now such particulars are not worth repetition or remembrance; perhaps they never were deserving the pains bestowed upon verification of dates, times, and persons. And as they greatly serve to encumber the subject, may be advantageously omitted with the remark that not a single assertion could be disproved, only the plaintiff's attorney abused, and that the heresies imputed to the Quakers were derived from the published Writings of their own acknowledged leaders. The controversy can thus be reduced to narrow limits; but the Slain features here reproduced deserve serious consideration by Christian people who deem themselves in no danger of becoming Quakers. For heresies have their roots in human nature, and may spring up almost imperceptibly in assimilation to the truth they design to strangle, like weeds in different soils, which are often difficult to distinguish from the plants they fasten upon for destruction. The value of these treatises eminently consists in the masterly method of stripping off disguises and exposing the danger and falsehood of doctrines speciously clothed in evangelical terms, to pass current among communities which have no idea of their real origin and tendencies. Fortunately for himself, the subject of this biography possessed a sufficiently cheerful disposition for acrimonious attacks to produce little impression. Had he, however, been more sensitive, the kindly demeanour of a considerable party among the "Friends," and the result of his labours, would have afforded ample compensation. The "Snake in the Grass" obtained celebrity far beyond their circles; no publication of its kind enjoyed a wider circulation, three editions being called for in as many years, though greatly assisted by some of them.
The "Friends" by no means formed a single, undivided, happy family. They had their separations and divisions and strivings for superiority like other sects. And bickerings sometimes rose to a white heat among them, when they could assume quite a papal tone of authority, denouncing and excommunicating each other. Even the sober, sedate Penn confessed that upon one occasion, when his own interpretation of a text was contradicted by one who had no idea that he was doing so, and whose opinion no Christian could doubt to be correct, was so transported with indignation as "not to know whether he was standing on his head or his heels." As may be supposed from this admission, the unfortunate offender incurred a malediction of no very gentle or soothing description. It was also rather in defence of another poor victim, George Keith, than from the need of any reply, that one was made in "Satan Disrobed" to "An Antidote for the Snake's Venom," by George Whitehead--a very feeble performance. One objection, however, of his deserves notice. He asked, Why should failings of individuals be chargeable against their society more than those of individuals against the Church, or any other community to which they belonged? This in itself was fairly and forcibly urged; but Leslie's answer was equally pointed, that Quakers make pretensions to inspiration and infallibility as individuals, which members of no other communion do. When, therefore, they disagree, who can presume to apportion the amount of inspiration or infallibility qualifying one to condemn another?
Leslie was the first in England who opposed the fallacies and fanaticism of Madame Bourignon, of whom he has given a brief account as the real author of Quakerism, which he had hoped to be done at greater length by his learned friend, Bishop Hickes. No originality was pretended in the title "Snake in the Grass," which had been frequently employed, and very recently in a caustic and able pamphlet on political matters, supposed to be from the pen of Soincrs or Rochester, but its application is explained thus: "There is no enthusiasm where there is no pride, which, being dressed in the garb and guise of humility, is literally the devil transformed into an angel of light; and then he is most a devil because he can most deceive."
Muggletonianism has' nearly died out. Its very name only lingers in the purlieus of old-fashioned towns among traces of bygone credulity and ignorance. Yet it sprang into existence from the same source and in the same year with the other heresy, and under auspices quite as distinguished; for its founder, Ludovic Muggleton, was a tailor, whose thoughts revolved on an axis of equal power to that of the man's with the awl and wax. Personally the two agreed together, but their disciples soon became rivals for popularity, and Penn termed Muggleton "the sorcerer of these days;" while both appealed to light within as their ground for leaving the Church of England. At length the Quaker light eclipsed or extinguished the Muggleton; but they were, in fact, "twin enthusiasts, which, though like Samson's foxes drawing two ways, their tails were joined with firebrands to set the Church in a flame." In order to do no injustice to his system, Leslie took pains to become personally acquainted with this man, and learned it from his own lips.
Divine authority declares that "of writing many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh." Our champion of orthodoxy was not so closely pinioned to his desk as to have no relaxation from his self-imposed tasks, nor compelled to find it only in discussion classes. These proved less irksome to him than they would have done to most persons even of a literary turn, not only because there he learned practically the fallacies and delusions which most readily found favour with different minds, and the best mode of treating them, but also because they afforded experience and an agreeable sphere of usefulness. Other means of recreation filled up intervals of leisure. Jacobite and Nonjuring principles did not restrict his society to any particular set, nor residence in lodgings prevent cards and invitations coming there from more fashionable quarters. He and his wife had many visitors, and spent a considerable portion of time from home. Among members of Parliament in both Houses were a great number to whom his politics, instead of being an objection, proved rather a recommendation. In Oxford, Berkshire, and Surrey they had several friends, and especially at Bagshot a warm welcome could always be counted upon. If he never concealed his opinions nor forgot his ecclesiastical character, yet he knew there is a time for everything, and with his gaiety of manner and conversational powers could unbend whenever a proper occasion offered to lay aside controversy of every description. Country sports and amusements had a great charm for him, so that he was not one of those guests whom a host can only leave in the library for the best part of the day, but was equally ready to shoot, or ride, or drive with the rest of the company; while he seemed as well acquainted with lighter literature and the current topics of the day, as the more favourite subjects of his study. These accomplishments not only served to dissipate unfavourable prejudices and prepossessions and secure him a general popularity, but contributed to invigorate his own health of mind and body. His constitution was by no means so strong as his father's, for he suffered frequently and severely from the gout, which could neither be attributed, at least immediately, to inheritance from him nor to luxurious habits, for he was equally temperate and moderate. But each recurrence of a more painful attack synchronized palpably with some excessive mental strain or excitement, so that there can be no doubt, that without the pleasure and relief afforded by such innocent indulgence, he never could have accomplished the amount of intellectual work he did, or performed it so satisfactorily. Another reason of success in writing was his habit, instead of bottling up his wit and learning for sudden surprises, of discussing freely the subject he had in hand with qualified friends, that he might benefit by their criticisms, whilst few authors have been less indebted to other persons for their ideas than he was.
An amusing adventure is mentioned in the "Snake," which the author met with in 1696. He went to visit another prophet generally called Oliver's Porter in Bedlam, where he was confined on the ground of insanity. His Christian name was Daniel, and his proper surname nobody seemed to know or cared to inquire, but accepted the designation conferred upon him in memory of his former employment in the hall of the great usurper. Perhaps there was some "method in his madness," for the probability is, that by being supposed to have gone off his head, he escaped the penalty of losing it altogether in the first excitement of the Restoration, for having occupied so prominent a position during the Rebellion. Whether his mental aberration was genuine or affected, his education and accomplishments were equal to those of other prophets. He had studied some books of a mystical kind, and was so fond of reading that his library was allowed to him in the asylum, among which was a large Bible given by Nell Gwynn, because perhaps she found little time for its perusal at Court Though constant war raged between him, Fox, and Muggleton, they calling him mad, and he them wicked and profane for despising his gifts and mission, he was popularly credited with having foretold the great fire of London and other remarkable events. Preaching occupied a considerable portion of his time, when crowds collected to hear, and sat many hours under his window at the end of the building overlooking a grass plot. Observing among some women on this occasion, busy turning over the leaves of their Bibles for the texts Oliver's Porter quoted, one grave, sober-like matron, Leslie had the curiosity to ask her what profit she could expect from listening to such a mad man; when she, with a composed countenance and as pitying his ignorance, replied that "Festus thought Paul was mad." This made him, he says, reflect that there were several sorts of madness; and what ill luck some mad folks had to be closed up, whilst others went about the streets. Undoubtedly also the line of demarcation between preacher and audience-was slighter than stone walls indicated; and acquaintance with inmates of such establishments has led some people to doubt whether more reason is generally displayed inside or outside them on religious subjects.
Among Leslie's converts was a youth called Crisp, who relapsed into his former heresy. This was a triumph vaunted with high exultation among the Quakers, yet the poor creature could not be properly accounted a gain or loss to any community, being subject to fits of insanity, which appeared very evident on his admission to Holy Orders. He would stop in the middle of public service for private ejaculations; and when this was made a cause of complaint by congregations who were discomforted, he resigned his office, saying, "He could not stay where he had not time for his devotions." He had promised that if any fresh scruples should arise in his mind, he would take no step without first apprising his converter. Under the influence of certain members of the sect this promise was broken, and only a scurrilous letter sent upon remonstrance with him. Such an apostasy formed a small set-off against the many converts who never could be seduced back to their former heresy. But the circumstances have an interest in a very different light as showing the wisdom and fairness of Leslie's own conduct in regard to such persons. It was not to Nonjurors as such in opposition to the Establishment, but to the Church of England, he reconciled his converts; not attempting to impose upon them or even recommend the political obligations which he felt binding on his own conscience. The same attitude he consistently maintained in other respects; one entirely devoid of the faintest character of schism any more than heresy. So much so that when Quakers taunted him with "expulsion from the ministry for refusing oaths," the reproach easily recoiled on themselves and damaged their community, whose only boast was "non-swearing" in the eyes of the public. Another charge pained him, because he knew that a calumny of the kind can be circulated amongst numbers who never hear its contradiction. They called him a "mercenary priest who wrote for bread, and for hire against them;" "necessitous and malicious; who employed his skulking leisure for base ends, and found means supplied by the contents" (of his books). With many more such choice epithets and flowers of rhetoric, in favour with a peace-professing community fond of making quarrels, but which does not fight. Their victim need not have experienced even a moment's discomposure, had he but known what contempt and indignation they brought upon themselves, and how universally their insinuations were scouted by all classes. Now that the circumstances are all forgotten, it is due to Leslie's reputation to repeat simple facts. His treatises were composed and published, without concert with any single being, at his own cost and risk. If he did not suffer pecuniary loss, that was entirely owing to their popularity; but on the whole he did not "make a single guinea," nor ever received a retaining fee for writing in his life. Had he done so, however, he would have been in company with the ablest and most honourable of literary characters then or ever since.
The crime of being necessitous is unfortunately too prevalent at all times to need any apology; but his accusers really only aimed random blows in the dark, knowing nothing beyond what was apparent to the world of his real circumstances, of which there never was any reason or attempt at concealment, but under a false impression that he had lost enormous emoluments with his ecclesiastical preferment.
His real offence was exposure of the inconsistencies between practice and profession on the part of the sect. Such as these. George Fox objects to "the painting of a likeness upon any sign," yet when a simple Friend called upon them at a meeting to throw away their money as having images of heads, lions, etc., it was of no avail, though Fox professed that he dictated his "doctrine from the mouth of the Lord." They say "thee and thou" to the world's people, but do not like it back from them; and therefore prefer Christian servants who "speak in the language they approve of." Scoffing at observance of Church festivals, yet keeping their own yearly meetings in London at Whitsuntide--which, if it mean anything, must mean what the Church commemorates, and suits their worldly taste of a visit to the metropolis in the height of the season. Costly furniture, fine houses, luxurious living carriages and liveries--at first denounced as signs of pride, whilst to the Fox and his children grapes were sour; but with increase of wealth became not only allowable, but characteristic; for they have a method of eliminating poorer members from their society. To such an extent did the indignation of the more furious zealots rise, that a conspiracy was formed for the murder of Leslie. It was most deliberately organized by the Quaker leaders; and so eager and exultant were they in the prospect of its accomplishment, that nothing but a want of reticence on their own part, under the merciful care of Divine Providence, prevented its accomplishment. Leslie had an intimation sufficient to assure him of the reality of the design against his life; also to take the necessary precautions for his safety; and he was no more wanting in physical than moral courage. When, however, urgently pressed to proceed against the guilty persons involved in this cowardly attempt, he nobly and most properly refused to produce the evidence in his hand; and this not on account of his informants, who made no such conditions, but because he preferred to overcome evil with good; though very great stress was put upon him for a complete disclosure of the facts. For once, at any rate, the priest must have felt thankful that he no longer was a magistrate, between two stools on the Justices' bench.
Several replies appeared at intervals beside the "Antidote" of Whitehead, the more noticeable one being Ellwood's reply to "Satan Disrobed." All of them were answered, but they contained so little of argument and so much of repetition, with mere angry recrimination, that now few readers would have patience enough for their perusal. What is material will be found in the supplement to this chapter, which deserves attention as containing expositions of Scripture, and statements of sound doctrine of great value, independently of the particular circumstances which called them forth.
Controversy has its pitfalls and disadvantages for champions of orthodoxy as well as disseminators of heresy. And Leslie was betrayed into some statements of doctrine which do not bear the stamp of theological accuracy, upon a subject which required most cautious handling. One Eccles had said that "the blood of Christ is no more than the blood of another saint." When this properly called out reprobation, Ellwood came to the rescue by explaining Eccles to have meant only that "blood forced out of the Saviour after He was dead," but admitting it to be an "unjustifiable expression." It was a great deal more--very wicked, false, and wantonly shocking language; and the apology did not mend its false doctrine. Yet it would have been better to leave the matter there, than invite speculation about a mystery further by these words: "S. John lays much stress upon, and tells this with more particular observation than of the shedding of any other part of His blood. Then it was the blood and water issued forth out of His side, the two sacraments." What the Quakers intended was to deny the union of the divine and human nature in the one Person of the Redeemer. But both the error and its irreverent statement might have been reproved without suggesting, as Leslie unintentionally did, a question of the relative value of the blood, shed and unshed. Upon that nothing can be rightly hazarded, either in word or thought. And his own reference to the Sacraments in the latter part of his sentence shows the unguarded character of the former, affording an opening to materialistic considerations which himself was the furthest from entertaining.
Again, his statements on Justification and Sanctification were defective, or not so satisfactory and explicit as to prevent misconception. What he wrote is true enough so far as it goes, and applicable to the points under discussion, but falling short of the full doctrine, and drawing distinctions which, though finding favour among Protestant writers of note, seem to countenance a part of the Calvinistic system of modern invention, unwarranted by Holy Scripture, the teaching of the early Fathers, or the formularies of the Church of England. Justification is a state as well as an act of absolving, and a man cannot be made or become righteous solely and simply by imputation of the Redeemer's merits. To be accounted righteous before God, he must really become so; for there can be no pretences or false assumptions with Him, therefore righteousness must be imparted. Even Isaac Barrow is not quite consistent with himself upon this subject in his sermons,1 for much the same reason as Leslie--a desire of pressing a single view of truth against error, or the suspicion of holding it among Protestants, to the exclusion of another equally necessary view. Points of difference between the Church of England and Rome are numerous and serious, nor will a faithful and wise member of either try to conceal or obscure them. The interests of truth are best secured by unreserved candid admissions. But neither truth nor the interest of either Church is served by inventing differences, or exaggerating them to widen the breach. Bull and Bellarmine were no more at variance than S. Paul and S. James concerning justification, though earlier controversialists have contrived to represent these in antagonism. Now that the heat and blindness which disfigured all religious discussion in former times have in some degree abated, writers and teachers, who remember that theology is a science, should use technical terms with accuracy, and forbear the use of distinctions and cloudy verbiage which insinuate opinions incapable of support by acknowledged standards of orthodoxy. Tithes are touched upon in this portion of the Quaker controversy, and more fully in another special treatise, which will be considered in its place. It therefore suffices here to press one point arising from his remarks upon the consideration of those who approve of receiving them. Tithes are inseparably connected in the Law and the Gospel with priesthood; those clergy, therefore, who represent their own titles to Orders as a mere solemn sham, and repudiate the name and notion of priesthood for themselves, ought consistently to refuse them. Their claim at the very best is a parliamentary title to an income which the same power bestowing it can as properly take away. They deprive themselves of any religious obligation or authority for demanding tithes, so would do well to weigh our author's forcible words, or reconsider their position.
Quakers professed themselves particularly aggrieved at being charged, among other gross corruptions, of doctrine and worship with Socinianism, because they knew how abhorrent that was to the many who only smiled at their other excesses as foolish eccentricities. Socinians, on the other hand, were indignant at being classed with people who indulged in language and conduct of the most shocking description, of which superabundant evidence had been produced. That Leslie should have condescended to particularize these so amply remains a matter of deep regret, for they have greatly disfigured his pages, and unfitted some for general perusal. Though the facts could not be gainsaid--nay, there were things worse than he related notoriously practised by members of the community, and heaps of profanity and nonsense written by their recognized authors--yet it would have been more consistent with the dignity and solemnity of sacred subjects to have omitted them altogether, or at least relegated not only a portion but the whole to the obscurity of an appendix. He apologized himself for "cleansing the Augean stable" from a sense of duty, and for indulging occasionally in coarse wit a banter suited to the minds of his opponents. No doubt serious subjects may be treated with advantage sometimes in a light and pleasant vein of raillery; and one may even play the fool to answer one according to his folly. But both Solomon and S. Paul have suggested cautions in doing so, which seem to have been insufficiently kept in view. Accordingly Socinians expressed no small indignation at any identification of their sect with the other. Their special plea for attention lay in the reasonableness and sobriety of their system; and it must be admitted, if they could write angrily, seldom violated decency. Nevertheless Leslie was fully justified in connecting the two systems of error together. Nor was it possible for him, in collecting materials for confutation of the one, not to be struck with its family resemblance and fundamental relationship to the other. True indeed that Quakerism was the offspring of Romish corruption. Its mother, Bourignon, lived and died in that communion. The wonder is she has not yet been canonized, but Romish dignitaries testified to her odours of sanctity; whereas Arius and Macedonius at least had the merit of antiquity. But then the heresy of Bourignon and all her offspring was in reality a revival and reproduction of heresies condemned as long ago. Leslie, therefore, only followed the natural and proper order of things when pari passu and simultaneously he carried on controversy with these two sets of opponents for several years; since what else in either required confutation had already received it in the "Short and Easy Method with the Deists." This plan helped to lighten his labours, and afford a prospect of their earlier termination. How he dealt with the more sober, rationalistic, no less heretical body, comes now under consideration.
Certain circumstances had occurred to render most necessary execution of our author's design of directing his artillery against Socinianism. When the Emperor of Morocco's ambassador visited the court of Charles II., its adherents had taken the remarkable step of presenting him with an elaborate address, in which they described themselves as the proper representatives of Christianity in England, denouncing Church-people as mere "idolizing Christians," while Mahomet was declared to be "the scourge whom God had raised up for their punishment," and his disciples their "own votaries and fellow-worshippers of the sole supreme Deity, with other wholesome doctrines." Since the indulgence to Dissenters granted by William, they had set up a meeting-house in the metropolis for the first time, to which visitors were being earnestly invited. And still more recently a series of pamphlets against the doctrine of the Church had been gratuitously circulated. It was time, therefore, that something should be done before this fresh crop of deadly heresy should seed itself in the hearts of an ignorant multitude, and Leslie girded himself for its extermination. The name Socinian has been commonly and indiscriminately applied to all who deny the Christian doctrine of the Trinity and our blessed Saviour's divine "nature, derived from Lselius and Faustus Socinus. Of * these the elder was born at Sienna, in Tuscany, of a distinguished family, who travelled through several countries in search of a religion to suit him, and settling at Zurich, died at an early age, in 1562, nominally in communion with the Protestant body there. His real opinions were expounded and developed by his nephew Faustus, with additions probably of his own. Other persons soon associated with him, and helped to mould his heretical opinions into a formal system, whose head-quarters were fixed in Poland, where it was disseminated widely in surrounding countries, and passed into England. Here it met with little success for a considerable time, and had to conduct its operations secretly for fear of the Government. The real founders and fathers of the sect were, however, as themselves admitted in their letter to the ambassador, none other than the heretics Paul of Samosata, Anus, Marcellus, Macedonius (though they did not mention him), and such like, long ago condemned and excommunicated by the Christian Church.
Leslie opened his battery by a published "Letter to a Friend," in 1694, briefly explaining the irreconcilable difference between the Christian doctrine and their notions, with the inconsistency and self-contradiction involved in these, as stated in "Biddle's Confession of Faith," lately published. Instead of repudiating the name Trinity, Socinians then, as now, studiously retained it for the purpose of veiling their real teaching under a false pretence. "Some made the Second and Third Persons to be creatures; others denied them to be persons at all, but only manifestations of divine power and wisdom. Both are equally false, while contradicting each other. First, if the Word and the Spirit are only creatures, to worship them were idolatry of the plainest description. If they are only manifestations, then all the attributes are equally divine, so there would be more than a Trinity, some twenty or more. How could the Word be made flesh, as Holy Scripture says, for a manifestation is nothing in itself? If there be only one Person in the Godhead, it would follow that He became incarnate and died, so there could be now no God. Why should men have been commanded to be baptized in the Name of the Three Persons if there be only One? Or again, if there be not Three Persons, how could it have been said by the Saviour that blasphemy against One might be forgiven, but not against Another? How could One be made flesh and the Others not? Then observe their differences between themselves, the one part making God their object of worship, the other part only a creature; the one to say there are Persons, the other there are not.... There is as great and sublime mystery in the Holy Trinity of God as in His nature, and even in human nature, which yet is no reason for disbelief, nor any contradiction, because the Persons are not Three and One in the same respect."
An interval of three years elapsed without this letter eliciting any reply, though plainly issued as a challenge. A second then followed, coming to closer quarters. First, Leslie protested against assumption of the title Unitarians, as if Socinians believed in the unity of the Godhead more than Christians, and the designating these Trinitarians when themselves professed, not only one, but different sorts of Trinitarianism. Then English Socinians are shown to be with more propriety termed Mahometans, as greater enemies to Christ than disciples of the false prophet, for they refuse Him divine honour. It is not enough to believe there was such a man as Christ, or that He was the Messiah which Mahometans confess, and His mission and miracles. Again, English ones were not reckoned Christians by the main body of Socinians in Poland, because they denied divine worship to Christ, though themselves affirming Him to be only a Creator. Herein lay the germ of the controversy, which was fully unfolded in six dialogues supposed to be held between a Socinian and Christian upon the subject, as treated in a book entitled "A brief History of the Unitarians compared with the Words of Scripture and the Current Sense of the Church from the First."
The profession of Arianism and Socinianism has dwindled down to a vanishing point during the last century in this country, till in the year of grace 1884 the very name has disappeared from enumeration among a hundred and eighty sects in public Returns! Such is the stigma affixed to memory both of ancient and modern founders of the heresy that their children disown, and are ashamed of their proper parentage. But the deadly thing itself still exists with its former vitality, and remains lurking and hiding under various disguises of piety, purity, philosophy, or Protestantism. As the snake in the grass has been scotched but not killed, only is more silent and sleek, so the old serpent's other brood are being hatched in various coverts, and the slimy track may be traced here and everywhere abroad. They bask in the warmth of princely smiles, and fold themselves in ermine and lawn. They glide through gilded saloons, Council chambers, and circles of fashion. They are dressed in the garb of superior enlightenment and rough common sense. They sit in Decanal Stalls, and even claim to be the peculiar guardians of sound theology. Their poison is diffused through the press, still gratuitously offered and decked out with rhetorical artifice and flourishes of over-punctuated, glittering platitudes from the pulpit in Cathedrals and churches. Anabaptist, Congregational, and Independent sects are saturated and drenched with Socinianism; and even Methodists are drenched with it to the heart's core, though their churchless, creedless community are too deficient in learning or intelligence to know what they worship. If there were not Arians and Socinians in Parliament, and among prelates and priests of the Establishment, such frantic anxiety would not be exhibited to mutilate the Book of Common Prayer and eliminate that bulwark of orthodoxy, the Athanasian Creed. These constitute the real danger to the Church of England--her treacherous dealers, who would play with the serpent and enemies within the camp. Leslie pointed out the deadly character 'of their heresy and their wiles in his day. These are more perilous two centuries later, in proportion as their devices are more concealed. They want to sting true religion to the death, and therefore it is infatuation to let their system steal insidiously closer and closer, till it has coiled itself round and sucked the very heart's blood out of the Church of England. The old names and the old profession will be resumed if ever disciples of Arius and Socinus feel strong enough openly to confront and defy the Catholic faith. Meanwhile that faith is a precious heritage and a trust which her children have received to preserve at all hazard, and transmit uncontaminated to their children's children. It is not theirs to pollute or dilute, to barter or surrender. Let people and things also be called by their right names, at least among true Christians. What Leslie stated negatively and positively is true, and should be acted upon now. Arians and Socinians have no title to the name Unitarians. That, and Trinitarians if they will, not in opposition but as correlative terms, belong exclusively to professors of the Catholic faith--the faith once delivered to the saints--that "we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity." To apply it to deniers of this fundamental verity is to make the word a meaningless misnomer, and break down the barrier between truth and falsehood under a spurious, suicidal pretence of charity. Arianism and Socinianism are not Christianity, but a form of Antichrist, as the Evangelist S. John declared; nor is there any such genuine charity as that which "speaks the truth in love." It may be sincerely hoped that some outside the Church hold unconsciously more sound and exalted views concerning the doctrine of the Trinity than their particular sect confesses, as it is to be feared that inside the Church there are some who do not fully believe her confession of faith. An able minister of the Arian body in the north of Ireland, now dead, used freely to speak of letters from a late distinguished Conservative statesman, containing acknowledgment of agreement in his particular religious opinions, while publicly in communion with the Church of England. Is it any wonder that he dealt some terrible blows to her establishment in the sister kingdom? Within the last twenty years there resided in a large English town a Jewish gentleman deservedly respected on several accounts, with whom a clergyman had long been on a friendly footing. Meeting accidentally one Sunday morning, the priest inquired whither he was going, when he replied, "To my place of worship." "I did not know," said the other, "that you had a Synagogue here." "No," said he, "but when I am well served there, and hear nothing to the contrary, why should I not be well content?" indicating at the same time the Arian meeting-house. His testimony was confirmed by another Jewish gentleman of as high character. The facts illustrate most forcibly the position established by Leslie with uncontrovertible evidence that Socinianism or Arianism has an essential connection with Deism, Judaism, and Quakerism, but no affinity with genuine Christianity. Here again is the trail of the serpent. A tract widely distributed within the last few years bears this title, "What Unitarians believe," the contents of which are only their old rank heresy disguised in Christian terms and popular phraseology, to divert incautious or uneducated readers from asking, What Arians do not believe? which is the main question requiring an answer. The last brochure of their printing company is a so-called "Prize Essay," just as disingenuously entitled "History of the Doctrine of the Trinity in the Christian Church," which history it misrepresents, and which doctrine it labours by garbled quotations ' to destroy, If no more skilful performance could win a bribe of fifty guineas, then some people and their money are easily parted; and it stands out clearly that, so far from advocates of this system having advanced beyond their fathers or gained by apostates, they have seriously retrograded in intelligence. They do not possess at least the wisdom of the serpent now, or would leave its defence in the old hands. Another sceptic, apparently unattached to any particular sect, has impugned some of Leslie's arguments; but as he only repeats the purport of objections by his contemporary opponents Biddle and Clendon, without adding anything to their weight, readers had better consult their own writings for a statement of their case. Leslie termed Biddle "a mere pragmatical schoolmaster," and complained of his "rude" language personally to himself. Certainly his feathers appear to have been considerably ruffled by the rigid scrutiny his History underwent. Nor was Mr. Clendon so courteous in his language as became a "calm judgment" and "philosophic plainness." But on the whole the controversy can be read with much interest and profit, on account of the thorough investigation of scriptural texts which it affords. Mr. Clendon unfortunately suffered a prosecution for some statements of doctrine which offended the Government; but the fault of this lay, in the first instance, with his own imprudence in trying to force his publication upon the attention of distinguished persons, with not a little grotesque kind of flattery. Nobody regretted his misfortune more sincerely than Leslie, because he disapproved of persecutions and prosecutions on account of religion, as weapons of carnal warfare, though those urged their use against High Churchmen, Jacobites, and Nonjurors could not with much reason complain of retaliation upon themselves. Nor could he feel much indignation at some hard speeches into which the names of Dr. Tillotson, Burnct, Sherlock, and Stillingfleet were needlessly dragged. Defence of the two former by an avowed Socinian could not help to clear them of the suspicion of heresy, and comparison with the two latter was rather a compliment than anything else to Leslie's ability. The controversy continued for a long period in the shape of supplements, replies, examinations, and answers, which only served to darken counsel by words and involve the necessity of re-slaying the slain. All its main features and elucidation of important texts are, it is hoped, fairly indicated in a brief sketch or outline at the close of this chapter.
Rejoinders by Biddle and Clendon led to restatements and enforcement of the previous argument from Scripture. The text Isa. liii. 11 had been explained by him to mean that God the Father had seen the travail of His Son's soul, and was satisfied with it as an offering for sin--which they termed "not so happy as ridiculous." Nevertheless the context is wholly in favour of this interpretation, nor is there anything in the original to prevent it. The ordinary one which they preferred--that Christ saw of the travail of His own soul and was satisfied--has nothing else to recommend it but its popularity, which is chiefly owing to want of consideration. The same remark applies to Gal. iii. 13.
Dr. Stillingfleet's name came up again, but inasmuch as he subsequently acknowledged many errors and mistakes in the writings of his youth, it is fair to suppose his apology was intended to include those upon more important subjects as well as less--a point of great importance, which has been overlooked frequently by writers appealing to his authority in support of their views. The question about the eternity of punishment has been revived in the present day by a few latitudinarians as ambitious of success, but of less ability, and they have thrown no light on the subject nor answered Leslie's arguments, because most probably they have never read them.
Two other treatises, in 1698-99, were published during the same period, and in reply more immediately to Quaker objections, but equally applicable to other schismatic bodies and their pretensions, (i) The qualifications necessary for administration of the Sacraments lie at the root of the whole matter; and the want of these is one main reason why Sacraments themselves are so glaringly made light of. If it were not for decoying ignorant people from their mother Church, the pretence of retaining Sacraments would be totally discontinued among the pretended followers of John Wesley. (2) Tithes are objected to now simply on the score of covetousness. Tenants delude themselves with the notion that if the legal obligation were removed they should pocket the difference. This is a practical error, which experience alone perhaps may remove; and when the day shall come, surrender must be still larger on the part of lay impropriators than of clergy. But for those who wish to know the sacredness and justice of the claim to tithes on the part of priests apart from political questions, nothing can be more clear and convincing than the account Leslie has furnished. It is, of course, a great difficulty to undo a pernicious system long established, or revert to the original practice in any institution. Where the receipt of money is concerned this difficulty is increased, because people readily suspect there is some crafty purpose at the bottom of any proposed alteration. Nevertheless the collection of tithes in a thoroughly secular way at lawyers' offices, or worse, at public-houses, is so alien from the idea of a religious duty, that some united movement among the clergy ought to be devised for removal of the evil. Until a sacred association be restored instead of these degrading and desecrating customs, tithes will continue to be reluctantly paid and awkwardly received, or be swept away altogether. The spirit of Hophni and Phinehas makes the offering of the Lord abhorred.
"In sooth, the sorrow of such days
Is not to be expressed,
When he that takes, and he that pays
Are both alike distress'd."
[Cowper's "Yearly Distress."]
More unjustifiable are lay impropriations. A fact will illustrate Leslie's observation. Five thousand workmen were a few years ago charged a shilling each for admission to the grounds of a Peer in Yorkshire, every acre of which was originally taken from the Church with the obligation of maintaining the ancient hospitality to the poor.
ABRIDGMENT OF THE "SNAKE IN THE GRASS," "SATAN DISROBED," AND "AN ANSWER TO THE SWITCH."
Quakers inherit the hypocrisy as well as heresy of Arians and Socinians, and defend themselves with the same distinctions. Their notion of the one light within is of that which lighteth every man that cometh into the world, therefore every man has it; not natural reason or conscience, but a divine light. We doubt not there is an influence from above, as of the sun upon all the earth, so of the Holy Spirit shining upon the consciences of the most profligate, till by repeated provocations He is banished. But George Fox makes the light within not only an illumination from God, but itself to be the essential God and Christ. Hence Quakers call their souls a part of God, of His being and essence. This monstrous notion is the foundation of all their other errors and blasphemies; they assume to themselves the name of Christ, and make themselves equal with God, infallible and perfectly sinless. Damning all the Christian world from the days of the apostles, while worshipping and adoring one another because of the light, or Christ, or God, which they suppose to be in them; though, if every man has it, it is no peculiarity of the Quakers. Their meaning must be that none but Quakers follow this light. If a man may leave it without knowing he does so, then all Quakers have left it, for ought they know. If he cannot, then there can be no sin of ignorance, which is to contradict both the Law and the Gospel.... A man may think himself in the right and be mistaken, which will destroy all the Quakers' certainty. George Fox replies to this objection in the case of S. Paul, that "Christ said it was hard for him to kick against what pricked him, and the light within was that" The apostle himself tells us there were no such pricks of conscience within, for he was fully persuaded and zealous in persecution of the Christians.
Fox says the soul is "infinite, not a creature," which is making it God. Mr. Fenn makes excuse for him on account of his ignorance; for by equality with God he meant only unity; and by infinite, something that is not finite. It is a strange excuse for infallibility. Fox affirmed himself to be equal with God, and to be the Christ--the Way, the Truth, and the Life. To have outward visions and revelations. He said, "they (Quakers) are come to what the apostles were in: the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit of God; they witness immediate revelation." "They can discern who are saints and who are devils, and who apostles, without speaking ever a word." "They have the Word of God, Christ which is eternal and infallible, in their heart to judge persons and things."
At other times, when pressed, they bring down this infallibility to mean nothing that distinguishes them from other men. Quakers preaching up the light within, is not only derogatory to the satisfaction paid by Christ for our sins, but it is blasphemous in ascribing to ourselves a power sufficient to work out our own salvation, whereas no wisdom less than infinite could have found out the means, nor power less than infinite could have effected our salvation. Is Quaker infallibility limited to speaking only? They can judge hearts, and tell who are saints and who are devils by winks and glances.
Extraordinary inspirations are not to be credited unless vouched by miracles, and if pretended to come from Him but are not, then they are demonstrated to be from the devil. Here is a mark. Those from the devil generally tend to rebellion, as in the case of Jeroboam and the Ten Tribes. On the other hand, though God sent many prophets to reprove kings and priests, yet they neither rebelled nor set up opposite Altars. When our Saviour came He did not separate from the public worship and communion of the Jewish Church. The apostles frequented the Jewish temple and liturgy, though they had separate meetings for institutions of the Christian religion till the destruction of Jerusalem.
The Quakers' notion of the light within must necessarily cut off dependence upon Holy Scriptures as a Rule either of Faith or manners. Because these are often brought in contradiction to it. Some of their authors called the Holy Scriptures by the wicked and contemptible names of dust, death, serpents, meat, etc.; which one Whitehead says was only in opposition "to some ignorant priests in the north, who would have the very paper and ink and characters to be the Word of God and the gospel." That had not been reason for these barbarous expressions, but there never were in the north or anywhere else priests so ignorant as to say it.
Besides, these were not the words of the languages in which the Scriptures were written, though it is likely enough Fox and others thought so; and they made conscience of sticking to the letter, and saying "thee" and "thou" instead of "you." As the scorpion is said to carry oil which cures its own venom, so the wise providence of God has disposed of most errors, that they carry contradictions to themselves in their own bowels. If the Holy Scriptures must not be called the Word of God because written in letters, why must the Quakers' blasphemous and profane scribbles be styled the Word of the Lord? Have they not broken off from the Church government established in England and all the Christian world? Yet they call any opposition to their "Church" no less than rebellion against God Himself.
In short, enthusiasts have no principles, no rule, but their own fancy, which they take for Inspiration; and there never was any enthusiasm in the world that exceeded the Quakers'. None have ever so condemned and vilified the Holy Scriptures as they have done. Nor was there ever, from their first appearing in the world, one Chapter read at any of their meetings, though many of their own epistles have been frequently, and enjoined to be read there; pursuant to which principle, in their disputes among themselves, they appeal to their own writings instead of the Scriptures.
So have they committed the wildest idolatry to one another, putting themselves in the place of God. Fox said, "The Quakers are in the power of God and in the authority of the Lamb, and are upon the throne." In a letter to Oliver Cromwell he called himself "the Son of God," "the Branch," "the Star," "the Door that ever was, the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever." Though they will not give their hat or a nod to men of the world, it is their custom to bow to one another as to the light within, which is Christ. A woman threw herself on her knees at Fox's feet, saying, "Thou art the Son of the living God." Another preacher in a public meeting accosted him, "Thou art the King of saints." At which another woman being offended, her excuse was that it was not to Fox she spoke those words, but to Christ who was within him. This was the very ground and foundation of all idolatry, namely, the supposed presence or inhabitation of the divinity in creatures or images. In a book called "The Guilty Clergyman Unveiled," they make the Quakers' blood to be the blood of Christ by which we are saved. It cannot be surprising if we find them altogether heterodox in the fundamental principles of the Christian religion. They acknowledge a Three, but deny a Trinity, which is to confess the same thing in English and to deny it in Latin; but their meaning is, they would not have the Three in heaven to be Persons before Christ was born, and so these must be creatures.
They say Christ took flesh, but, as they explain, no otherwise than as angels assumed bodies; or as He inspired or dwelt in the prophets of old. They deny any proper incarnation, or that Jesus and Christ were one Person, or that Christ did carry up with Him a body into heaven, nor know what Christ did with the body of Jesus after He had raised it from the grave. There is no other Christ but what is within them, and they call themselves His body and Church. Mr. Penn will not have the true Christ to be a Person, but only a moral principle. And that the "body which suffered at Jerusalem was the body of Christ, not assumed into His person, but as a cloak or veil like that in which angels appear for a time; but that the outward person which suffered was properly the Son of God we utterly deny."
They construe the imputation of Christ's righteousness to be only within them, but have a notion of inward blood-shedding, expressly denying Christ's outward blood to be the blood of the new covenant, or more than that of any good man. Mr. Penn says the serpent is a spirit, and nothing can bruise its head but something spiritual; consequently the seed of the promise is an holy principle of light and life, which, received into the heart, bruiseth the serpent's head, and this is Christ, the light within. A supposition of so pernicious a nature that it unchristianizes any one who holds it; for the faith of Christians is built upon Jesus Christ as the Seed promised to bruise the serpent's head, and that this was performed by the shedding of His blood outwardly upon the cross, as a propitiation and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world. By the help of this distinction of an outward and inward Christ's blood, etc., the Quakers can subscribe to the whole Creed yet not mean one word of it. Quakers are direct Socinians, for they deny positively the satisfaction of Christ, and copy their arguments, though it would seem without knowing it. Mr. Penn understands that long and elegant description of the resurrection of our bodies in i Cor. xv., "only of the spiritual state of the soul in this life." Now, among other names of reproach Mr. Penn bestows upon one of the Separate Quakers, are Hymenseus and Philetus, not minding how near home this brought the accusation (2 Tim. ii. 18); for those were direct Quakers who spiritualized the resurrection from the letter, and meant it only of the rising up of Christ in our hearts, which S. Paul calls "overthrowing the faith."
As they deny any outward resurrection, so they deny any outward heaven. The text, I Cor. xi. 6, of "showing forth the Lord's death till He come," they explain to mean coming spiritually in our hearts, and so suppose there is an end of that ordinance; though they cannot deny that Christ was come in the hearts of the apostles and primitive Christians, none of whom dreamed of the time being expired--the same time appointed for the other sacrament--"always, even unto the end of the world." Christ has promised His gift to go along with His institution by the hands of His ministers, and therefore the outward ordinance is necessary, even where the inward gift has been already attained (Acts x. 47). Their neglect of these ordinances has lost to the Quakers the reality and the thing signified. The devil having stolen the body or outward part of religion, the soul soon disappeared; for religion can no more live without outward and corporal means, than the soul while here without the body; and hence this corporal service, Rom. xi. I, is called "reasonable." Whoever goes about to separate bodily from spiritual service does as much murder religion as he that should separate a man's soul from his body. Quakers never give us any creed or summary of their faith. They find fault with others, but tell not plainly what they hold themselves. G. Whitehead has at last done it, and comprises it in just twelve articles, but in such dubious and general terms as to deceive an unwary reader, yet keep from contradicting the heart of the heresy.
There is no point wherein the Quakers are more fierce and positive than in opposition to tithes, because if they were taken away they suppose the clergy would sink of course, and be deprived of their subsistence, and so the total ruin of the Church follow. What if the light within should allow some to pay, as being legally established? Would their rulers give them leave to follow their light? When some did so they were proceeded against as rebels to God. It is an ingenious excuse that Fox only wrote against payment to the Popish clergy, not the right of the Church of England as settled by the civil government. Yet there were no tithes paid to any Popish priest in England ever since Quakerism appeared. And why do they boast of sufferings and imprisonments for not paying tithes as a sort of martyrdom for the truth? Now, the evangelical priesthood is after the order of Mclchizedek, and tithes are claimed as being due to that; so that all their arguments as to the Law and Levitical priesthood being superseded operate nothing against a superior and more excellent Order. I have no manner of doubt but they are as ancient as priesthood itself; that is, as Adam, from whom descended the knowledge of tithes, as of sacrifice and priesthood, which are relative; the one being the maintenance, the other the office of the priesthood, therefore the one must be as ancient as the other. God reserved the tenth part of our substance and the seventh of our time as a tribute and acknowledgment to Him from whom we receive all. They are called "His inheritance," not as then instituted, but then given to the Levites. Nor is Melchizedck's tithing mentioned as the beginning or first rising, but as a thing well known and received even in those early ages. The word enthusiasm signifies inspiration, and may mean a good as well as evil one; though from frequent false pretences it is generally used in the worst sense. The sort owned in the Church of England is full as much as any sober Quaker can mean by the light within. It is the Alpha and Omega of our religion, as shown in our Offices of Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders; in our Catechism and Common Prayers. Then why do they break off and separate from our communion? Miraculous gifts are of much less value than saving graces, so are not to be greatly coveted or prayed for; and to pretend falsely to any such gifts is downright blasphemy.
Quakers say in the "Switch" that it is "impossible for man to withstand and leave the light without knowing that he does so." This is to answer a suggestion in the "Snake," and they suppose that such men as Paul, while a persecutor, had before resisted the light, for punishment of which it was hid from their eyes. This will not help Quakerism; for by their own argument this strong delusion may be sent for former resisting of the light. Besides, this casts a foul reflection upon S. Paul, as if he had been a wilful sinner against his own convictions, contrary to his testimony (Acts xxvi. 4; Phil. iii. 6); whereas his great sincerity was the cause of his obtaining mercy. They will needs have his miraculous conversion to have come, not from the glorious apparition and outward voice from heaven, but from the pricks of his light within, against which he could not kick. Where was the inward command before the outward voice? See how unwilling Quakers are to allow anything to the outward revelations of God. It is mere fancy, and nothing else, which they mistake for divine light within them, and the power that accompanies it is the delusion of Satan.
Here is the mystery of their perfection, their saintship, and their being equal to God; for this seed in them they suppose to have been first conceived in their virgin hearts by the Holy Ghost, then to grow up in them to be a Son born in them, and at last to become the everlasting Father. At the same time they own they have the evil one in them too; and what evil they do is only his, and not theirs. If so, then the good in them is no more theirs than the evil. And why should the evil deeds of other men be accounted theirs any more than those of the Quakers? They think their faith in the light within as God and Christ makes them acceptable, and atones for their sins, which will not be imputed to them, but to others who have not this faith. So the Quakers and we are at the utmost distance possible. We differ about the object of faith---they or we are blasphemers and idolaters; there is no compounding; their doctrine is totally exclusive of any Christ without. And they mean that it was the same in them which suffered at Jerusalem, and that He was then not outward more than now. The Quakers having rejected our Lord and Christ, it cannot be expected that they should place the satisfaction for sin in anything He did or suffered. Now, this satisfaction made for our sins by the perfect obedience, sufferings, and death of our Lord and only Saviour, Jesus of Nazareth, performed in His own person for us, is the only meritorious and procuring cause of our salvation. And all this is wholly without us; we have no share in the propitiation, atonement, or satisfaction made for sin; that is wholly attributed to Christ. The satisfaction is applied to us by a true lively faith, and this is our justification. A true and sincere repentance succeeding this faith, with amendment of life, and a due thankfulness for our redemption, is our sanctification, which cannot be wrought in us but by the inward operation of the Holy Ghost. But the Gift is not the Giver. That is the great mistake into which Quakers have run. The light within is the gift of God, but not God; it is not the sufferings and spiritual blood of this which makes the atonement; our faith must not be in this, but the meritorious passion of the Son of God wholly without us, though inwardly applied to the heart by faith. Justification and sanctification are distinguished; one wholly the work of Christ without us, the other of His Holy Spirit within our hearts; the one but once performed, the other daily to be renewed.
AN ABRIDGMENT OF THE SOCINIAN CONTROVERSY.
The "Switch" quotes from William Penn that very positively he determines the resurrection is a change, not of accidents, but of bodies; and that the body which dies shall never rise any more. We mean by the resurrection of the body rising of the same body. It can be meant of no other; for if it be a perfectly new body which is given to the soul, it may be called a creation, or anything but a resurrection.
The whole question concerning the doctrines of the Trinity and Incarnation is, whether they are revealed in Holy Scripture or not. And the way to know this is twofold. I. From the very words of Scripture itself. 2. From the current sense of the Church in those ages when the Scriptures were written and downwards; they who learned the faith from the mouths of the inspired writers, and conveyed their writings down to us, being the most capable of any to give us their true sense and meaning.
We not only ought not, but it is not in our power, to believe anything but what we think we have reason to believe. We are forced from plain reason to acknowledge a First Cause, which gave being to all other things, and from whom all other things proceeded. Then from the same reason we must believe that the First Cause did not produce itself; likewise that this First Cause had no beginning. We believe, though we cannot solve these difficulties and seeming contradictions; yet because you cannot solve difficulties, as in the Trinity and Incarnation, you reject the revelation in the Holy Scriptures, and the current sense of the Catholic Church.... A contradiction is only of the same thing, and in the same respect. That three persons may be in one nature is no contradiction. Nor must that be a contradiction in one nature which is so in another. What is a contradiction to body is not to soul; what is to time is none to eternity; what is with men is not so with God.
If there were words which could express the nature of God properly, or as He is known to the angels of heaven, they would be as unintelligible to us as the word seeing is to one born blind. Thus we understand the word Person quite differently from the person of a man upon earth. Is it not a contradiction that the Son should be as old as the Father? Because it is among men it will not follow that it is so in God.... Light and heat are necessary effects of the sun; it is before them in nature, because they proceed from it; but not before them in time, because they are necessary effects, and the sun cannot be without them. Though it cannot be in human nature that the son should be as old as the father, yet it may be in the divine, for the production no doubt is necessary. These are only illustrations, nor can there be an exact parallel betwixt God and any creature. I go on to show what is no contradiction in the faculties of the soul--understanding, memory, will. These are of the constitution of the soul, and it could not be a soul without them, therefore each must be as old as the other, and all as old as the soul; though these faculties act distinctly yet not separately, and the soul is not divided or multiplied, but acts in each or all of them.
There are Persons and not faculties in the Godhead. Scripture calls Christ the express image of His (Father's) Person, the image of His subsistence or personality Again, a person being the most complete and perfect subsistence, as subsisting by itself and not in another (like faculties or qualities), must be given to God. Passions come and go, but faculties in the soul are of perpetual necessity, as dimensions in a body. And our blessed Saviour, in the parable of the Sower, describing the several ways by which the seed becomes unfruitful, arranges them after the three faculties of the soul, but not after the passions, which are many. We may rise up higher as on a ladder to view more of the perfection of God.
To be beneficial to others is an image of God: this is expressed in the heavens and their influence upon earth, but they are not sensible of it. It is then a nearer image to know when we do good and take pleasure or satisfaction in it, as God did in His works, and saw that they were very good. But there is a higher degree of happiness, a yet nearer image to God, when we ourselves are made the object of our own benefactions, when we can do good to ourselves and taste our own happiness. This is performed by what we call self-reflection, whereby we become the object of our own knowledge and love. In this consists the essential happiness of God, in the knowledge and love of Himself; and this, reflected perfectly from one Person to another, is infinitely more complete than the shadow of it in the reciprocal reflection of the faculties in our soul.
This leads me to another step on the ladder. To the happiness there is in thought, there is a further added, which is to communicate that thought to another; without which the soul would be a very solitary thing. Without conversation life would be a burden; the Son is called the Word of God. He is also called the Word, as He was the instrument by which God made all things, and communciated Himself to creatures; and the creation is described as being all spoken. For there is another communication beyond that of thoughts by words--to communicate one's self fully and entire in full perfection. Since the communication of one's nature is a perfection, it is of necessity that God must have it.
S. Athanasius did not invent the terms and distinctions of his Creed; he but followed the same used in Holy Scripture and by the Catholic Church before him. God is not compounded or made up of anything; His unity is the most perfect of all unities. But in every unity there is a union of diverse things, for there is no union of one. Unity in bodies is by way of composition. Spirits are not compounded, and cannot be divided. And the Persons are not parts of God, nor is He compounded of them or divided among them; but the whole Deity, flowing in its full infinity perpetually from one Person to another, is in the eternal enjoyment of its own beatitude blessed for ever in itself: in so perfect a unity as can be but faintly represented in the unity of any creature even of a soul.
Enjoyment and satisfaction in the union of bodies is from the union of their souls; this is what we call love. Friendship is the strongest tic among men, and the chief cement of conjugal affection. S. Paul speaks how intimately we are united to Christ, and in Him with the whole blessed Trinity, which the apostle calls "a great mystery.'
... By the word God in Holy Scripture always given to the Father only, the whole Trinity is meant; but is sometimes used even in distinction from the Father, and sometimes the term Father is given to the Son. Even heathen philosophers held three supreme and almighty principles which they called likewise persons from the Jews, but fell into sundry errors.
There is another point--the Incarnation; that the divine and human natures should be both joined in one Person: in the words of S. Athanasius, "as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man, so God and man is one Christ." Now, there are no two things in the world so different as the natures of body and soul; hardly anything except that of being agrees to both. Yet how are they united so as both to make but one person?' The parting of them is the destruction of the person, and even while they remain united their natures and properties are no ways confounded and blended together. By what links and chains God and man can be joined together so as to make one Person, the same to be finite and 'infinite, I cannot tell, nor how God communicates of Himself to creatures; no more than how the same creatures can be mortal and immortal, nor the links and chains by which spirit and flesh are joined together. But what is impossible with men is easy to God. In order to our right understanding of Holy Scripture, the ground and foundation we have to go upon in disputed passages is the sense in which they to whom they were delivered, who learnt them from apostles, taught them again, and so on through the several ages of the Church. What was the common and received doctrine in far-distant Churches must be what was delivered to them, and could not by any concert or contrivance be the same. And this was the method taken with Arius in the Council of Alexandria.
They did not go with him upon his logic, nor criticism and etymology of words, but, "Who ever heard such things before?" And the new notions started by Arius were rejected as novelties and breaches upon the Christian faith. One Cerinthus, an arch-heretic and disciple of Simon Magus, affirmed that Jesus was the son of Joseph and Mary; that Christ came upon Him in the form of a dove at His baptism, inspired Him with the knowledge of God the Father, and with the power of working miracles; that when Jesus suffered Christ left Him and flew up into heaven without partaking any of His sufferings. Against this Cerinthus and his followers S. John wrote his Gospel. Two answers which the "History of Unitarianism" gives to this text contradict one another, that by the Word is only meant God's power and wisdom; and that the appellation of God is given to angels and men, as Moses was called a God to Pharaoh. The first makes the Word not to be anything different from God, the second says that it is man and not God. We do not say that any of the Persons are distinct from God, but in God. And there is an example of this among men; we do not say that John is a distinct person from human nature, but in it from other persons who possess the same. The Word is a distinct Person from the Father, because personal actions are attributed to Him, and because He is set up as the Object of our adoration. In Psalm cx. i, the second Lord spoken of was Christ is plain from S. Matt. xxii. 44, and the Jews so understood it; nor can there be a greater distinction of persons than for one to speak to the other--one to sit on the other's right hand, one to subdue the other's enemies. Therefore by the Word a Person must be meant, and not only a property or attribute of God. S. John xvi. 13, 14 proves the diversity of Persons in the Godhead. How could one Person be more distinguished from another or from a naked quality than to say, as here, "He shall not speak of Himself," and "He shall receive of Mine, and show it unto you"? Again, in Acts viii. 29, and Acts xiii. 2, it is clearly a Person who spoke, the Holy Ghost.
S. Matt. xii. 31. It is said of Moses "they provoked his spirit," meaning him; then this is the meaning put upon the text, that sins against God are to be forgiven, but sins against His Spirit are not to be forgiven. But the spirit of Moses was not a person, that is, not subsisting by itself, therefore we cannot affirm anything of it otherwise than of Moses. And it would be the same absurdity to say anything of the Spirit of God otherwise than of God, if He were not a Person, that is, subsisting by Himself.
S. Matthew xviii. 19. Mr. Biddle's exposition of the text is, baptizing unto such a one is sometimes meant of baptizing in his name. As our fathers are said to have been baptized unto Moses, and some persons unto John's baptism. So it is not a proof that such a one is God. Being baptized in the name of such a one includes being baptized unto him; but being baptized unto such a one does not include being baptized in his name. Unto such a one may mean no more than his ministry, but in one's name is owning him the author of my religion, a dedicating and devoting myself to him, which is not lawful to do to any creature (i Cor. i. 13-15). And there is not an instance in all the Scripture of any that were baptized in the name of any creature. To be baptized into Christ's baptism is all one with being baptized in the name of Christ, because the form of His baptism was in His own name, together with that of the Father and of the Holy Ghost; but to be baptized unto John's baptism was not to be baptized in the name of John, for his baptism referred to Christ, who should come after him. The question is not of being baptized into the profession of a doctrine, for all are obliged by their baptism to profess the doctrine of that person in whose name they are baptized; as no man is enlisted in the name of a cause, but of some person for whose cause he fights. S. John iii. 13. Socinians understand literally, and say that before our Lord entered upon His office of Messiah he was taken up to heaven to be instructed in the mind and will of God, as Moses was into the mount; and from thence descended to execute this office and to declare this will; and that the same is hinted in S. John vi. 38, 46, 51, and viii. 40. None of these passages say so. Before His incarnation He was there, and came down; nor any need was there for Christ being taken up to heaven to be instructed in the will of God, since upon this author's own principles the Word of God, His whole wisdom and power, abode in Him. S. John viii. 58. Socinians explain this, before Abraham was it was decreed that Christ should come. The words will not bear it, and the Scripture is to be understood, like other writings, by the common use of words. If he meant in decree only, it was no answer to their question. Our Lord did not speak sophistically. Irenaeus understands this text of Christ's existing before Abraham. But why should the Jews go to stone Him for this answer? There was no sort of difficulty in it as Socinians explain it. The Jews say these misunderstood it. Then they must suppose that He spoke with a mental reservation, on purpose that they might mistake. Yes, say they, He spake "in parables, that seeing they might not see," etc., but not to hinder men from believing.
Christ says, "I and the Father are One," by which Tertullian proves that we pray to the Son when we pray to the Father. And S. Cyprian quotes this text as proving the natural union of the Father and the Son. "Thou being a man makest Thyself God." A natural son partakes of the true nature of his father; in which sense to call any one the Son of God is to call Him true and real God, as the Jews here understood it; in which sense Christ is God's only begotten. They explain their own meaning past dispute. They could not say, "Thou makest Thyself God," if they had meant only a man. On the other hand, if He had not been such as they meant, without doubt He would have renounced the blasphemy, nor suffered the Jews to go away in so mortal an error, nor lose His life for it. "Ye believe in God, believe also in Me." No prophet, nor apostle, nor angel durst thus compare himself with God. "He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father." He who will not hearken to a herald despiseth the king that sent him, but one cannot say that he who sees a herald sees his king. "If ye ask anything in My name I will do it." No man or angel ever spoke after this manner.
"The Holy Ghost shall receive of Christ's." Why? Because, says He, "all things that the Father hath are Mine, therefore said I that He shall receive of Mine." And "I will send Him unto you." Will one give to a creature the power of sending the Holy Spirit? It is objected again, that the Holy Spirit appeared in the form of a dove on Christ, and of cloven tongues on the apostles. The first was to signify the meek and peaceable spirit of Christ, and the second to express the gift then bestowed, not the form or shape of the giver. It is a vulgar error that there was any shape of a dove at our Saviour's baptism. There was a bodily shape, else people could not have seen it, which descended leisurely, hovering as a dove, that people might take more notice, and to express the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit, and it abode and remained upon our Saviour. Rom. ix. 5. The Person spoken of here is over all and blessed for ever, and is God. The apostle is only speaking of Christ from the beginning of the chapter. Tertullian quotes the text as proving Christ to be God. S. Cyprian does the same. And that other expression, "as concerning the flesh," shows plainly that He had another nature derived to Him from His birth of the blessed Virgin (Acts xi. 30).
S. John ii. 24, 25. There is a difference between this and Elisha's knowing what the King of Syria spoke in his bed-chamber, and it can be no parallel.
Phil. ii. 6. The form of a thing is its essence, not its shadow or likeness, and therefore whatever is in the form of God is of His essence, and consequently must be God. The inference of the apostle is, that because Christ was in the form of God, therefore He was equal to God. If Christ was originally a creature, as the Socinians would have Him, and advanced to the divine honour, or a made God, then indeed it could not be excused from a great robbery, presumption, and blasphemy for Him to pretend to be equal with God. The apostle in this text seems to have foreseen and obviated the Socinian heresy. Again, if Christ was nothing but a servant and a man, how can it be said that "He took upon Him the form of a servant"? It is not said that He took upon Him the form of God, because He always was in that form, and so could not take it. As to the objection that the apostle urges Christ's example of love and humility, this must suppose a choice in Him; for who calls it humility to be born poor? Does a man choose to be born? Therefore it must have been before coming into the world that He made His choice.
Heb. vii. 3. Melchizedek is compared to the Son of God, but the Son of God really was what Melchizedek was said to be. Then how came Melchizedek to be like the Son of God if there were none when he was made? The pattern after which anything is made must be before the copy. How can these things be reconciled upon the Socinian principle? But in the Christian scheme it is most easy; namely, the eternal Son of God was before Melchizedek, but in time incarnate after him. And yet it was the same Jesus, yesterday, to-day, and for ever, as expressly said of Him, Heb. xiii. 8, and other places of Scripture. It is objected that Christ should have assistance of the Holy Ghost, Himself being God? Christ submitted Himself to the infirmities of our nature, for He came to be an example to us, which He had not been if His divinity had exerted itself to the utmost. Therefore He was perfected as we are by the unction of the Holy Spirit. All the Three Persons are joint--as in their nature so in all their operations; though yet some operations are more peculiarly but not exclusively attributed to one than to another.
In the Creed God is named at first as a nature or species to individuals; then the several Persons follow in their order. If this be sufficient with us to express our meaning, it was much more so before the Arians had disturbed the doctrine of the Trinity, which occasioned a further explication in the Nicene and Athanasian Creeds.
"They whom we now call Socinians were by the Fathers and first ages of Christianity called Nazarenes, Ebionites," etc. They were so called and condemned as heretics, and they stand condemned as such to this day by the whole Christian Church. The spirit of antichrist is the same with the Socinian opinion, that Christ had no being before He was born of the Virgin. S. John does not only say that Christ was flesh, but came in a body of flesh. Must He not then have existed before He came, as was so clothed? He says also that "He was" in the beginning with God, was sent by God to take upon Him our flesh, that He came to do this--to deny it is an antichrist. Mahomet should be accepted as one of the fathers of Socinianism, only he is much more Christian than these heretics; but they are not so well known in the world now as he, therefore Socinians do not own him to be of their party.
The doctrine of satisfaction is a main foundation of the Christian religion. God gave his Son to be a propitiation for sin, and received from Him satisfaction for our sins; and this proves Him to be both God and Man. God because none else could pay infinite satisfaction for infinite goodness offended; and man, because that which offended must make the satisfaction. But human nature could not do this, "in that it was weak through the flesh;" therefore, says S. Paul, God sending "His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin," or by a sacrifice for sin (as our margent reads it) "condemned sin in the flesh." The Socinians argue against the satisfaction, that it would hinder piety because sin is called a debt. But the sophistry consists in not distinguishing aright betwixt a debt of sin and money. God does not lose by sin as a man loses his money; that is a gross conception. It is an offence against love and goodness, and "God is love." Sufferings in hell are not intended for the amendment of offenders, but as a satisfaction to justice, the time for forgiveness being over. There is not in Scripture any intimation of the abatement or non-execution of its eternal punishment, which would not be so if the worm should die or the fire be quenched. I will not say that everybody must be damned that does not believe the satisfaction of Christ, but that none can be saved except by it; infants, fools, and madmen, and those who never heard of it are excused from believing it, yet are saved by virtue of it.
ABRIDGMENT OF "QUALIFICATIONS FOR ADMINISTRATION OF SACRAMENTS."
These qualifications are of two sorts--personal and sacerdotal. Personal, the holiness of the administrator. Though this be a great qualification to fit a man for such a holy administration, yet it docs not alone qualify any man to take this upon him. But there is moreover required a sacerdotal qualification, that is, an outward commission (Hob. v. 4.; S. Matt. iv.). What other man can pretend to it upon the account of personal excellencies in himself? So Christ did not leave it to His disciples, to every one's opinion of his own sufficiency, to thrust himself into the vineyard; but chose twelve apostles by name, and after them seventy others of an inferior order, whom He sent to preach. His apostles did proceed in the same manner after His Ascension (Acts xiv. 23). And those thus ordained had power to ordain others (i Tim. v. 22; Titus i. 5). S. Clement says the apostles had known through the Lord Jesus Christ that there would be a contention concerning the name of bishop; on this account they did themselves appoint the persons, and established an order how, when they should die, fit and approved men should succeed them in their ministry. [I Ep. Corinth., pp. 43, 44.]
This succession is preserved and derived only in bishops, as the continuance of any society is deduced in the succession of the chief governors, not its inferior officers. And wherever Christianity was planted, episcopacy was established without exception. The words bishop and presbyter are sometimes used in the same sense; they may as well prove that Christ was only a deacon, because He is so called in Rom. xv. 8; or that apostles were aldermen, or emperors no more than generals of armies, or kings only dukes. It was charged to Timothy how he should sit in judgment, etc., upon his presbyters (i Tim. v. 19), which destroys the Presbyterian claim of parity. If they will take S. Jerome's word, whom they boast to favour them so much, then what Aaron, his sons, and the Levites were in the temple, that same are bishops, presbyters, and deacons in the Church.
Presbyterians alone of all Dissenters have any pretence to succession; so what has been said must operate still more strongly against others who set up merely their own pretended gifts. It is objected that idolatry and other great errors unchurch a people, and consequently break the episcopal succession. But Scripture supposes a Christian may be an idolater, therefore it does not unchurch (i Cor. v. 11). There were frequent lapses to idolatry in the Church of the Jews; yet this did not unchurch them, nor deprive them of a competent measure of the Holy Spirit. Apply this to the evangelical priesthood which is as surely fixed in the bishops of the Church, and its succession continued, as the Lcvitical priesthood was confirmed and continued in Aaron's line. Abuses in the sacerdotal commission do not take it away, till God do so.
The whole Christian world, as it has always been, is episcopal except a few Dissenters, who in less than two hundred years last past have arisen like a wart upon the face of the Western Church. And among them every class does condemn the rest; and each denies the other's ordination. What allowance God may make for those who think their ordination to be good, I will not determine. But they have no right to expect this allowance who have been warned beforehand, and notwithstanding venture. To state the case most impartially, to receive baptism from Dissenters is at least a hazard of many thousands to one; but to receive it from episcopal clergy has no hazard of validity at all, even disowned by themselves. The only objection of Quakers is the necessity of great personal holiness in the administrators, without which they cannot see how the spiritual effects can be conveyed.
His greatness is often most magnified in the meanness of the instruments by which He works.
The argument will hold more strongly as to the Sacraments than in the office of preaching; because in preaching much depends upon the qualification of the person as to invention, memory, judgment, etc.; but in the administration of an outward Sacrament, nothing is required as of necessity but the lawfulness of the commission. It is contrary to all God's former institutions; the wickedness of priests under the law did not excuse any of the people from bringing their sacrifices, nor were their offerings less accepted. We should be in a much worse condition under the Gospel demonstration if the effect of Christ's institution depended either wholly or in part upon the personal holiness of His priests (i Cor. iii. 21). This was the error of the ancient Donatists, for which reason they rejected all baptism except performed by themselves, arguing, "How shall a man give that to another which he has not himself?" But Optatus answers that "God was the Giver, and not man." They were nothing but ministers or workmen, and that as when a cloth was dyed, the change of the cloth came from the colours infused, not from the virtue of the dyer; so that in baptism the change of the baptized came from the virtue of the sacrament, not from the administrator. Therefore let us work that God, who has promised, may bestow the effect. Consider the grievous sin of schism no less than the rending of Christ's body; and therefore great things ought to be borne rather than run into it--even all things, except what is sinful. There is an objection not worth an answer, but that I would condescend to the meanest and leave no stumbling-block; viz. that no visible effect is seen from our baptisms, and therefore it is concluded there is no virtue. To make this argument of any force, it must be proved that none do receive any benefit; for if some do and others do not, this must be charged upon the disposition of the recipient. Simon Magus received no benefit; the devil entered into Judas; yet the other apostles did receive benefit. Therefore we are commanded to examine and prepare our hearts.
Modern Presbyterians have departed as much from Calvin and Luther as from all the Christian world; while at the same time they would seem to pay the greatest reverence to these reformers, and much more than to the first and purest ages of Christianity. In this they imitate the hardness of the Jews, who built the sepulchres of those prophets whom their fathers slew, while at the same time they adhered to and outdid the wickedness of their fathers in persecuting the successors of those prophets.
ABRIDGMENT OF "DIVINE RIGHT OF TITHES."
The subject of tithes is the great Diana of the Quakers. Milton has more wit, but little more argument than them. His fancy was too predominant for his judgment; his talent lay so much in satire that he hated reasoning; or rather he had not leave to make use of it while he wrote for hire against his own opinions, which appears by what he wrote unbribed, contrary to what he afterwards had a pension to set up. He sacrificed a noble genius to the vices of the age. Nothing else could have made him set down the cry of the ignorant Quakers, that we "made use of the Popish arguments for tithes," whereas all that have any skill in these matters know that Popish writers were the first corrupters of the doctrine of tithes. If the name "hireling" be meant of those who take anything for their preaching, it flies directly in the face of our Saviour (S. Luke x. 7). But if it be meant that they are the culpable hirelings who value the hire more than their work, that can be only known by Him who knows the heart, and can be guessed at only by us from the consequences. And for S. Paul's preaching gratis, it tells against Milton, for the apostle asserts his right to have been burdensome. He, abating of that for prudential considerations at that time, is far from a precedent for all times and places; for the same apostle tells us that the other apostles did not, and himself did otherwise at other times and places.
Selden, on what he calls the "History of Tithes," carries on his more underground, and gives such an account of them as would effectually overthrow them. Covetousness is so the root of sacrilege, that as no man would rob God for nought, so can none return from his sacrilege till he is cured of the covetousness which caused it. And covetous-ness cannot be cured while we are possessed with that distrust of God which is the cause of it. When God created man He instituted a worship for the happiness of man, not that He wanted anything from him. God required our absolute dependence upon Him as to necessaries of life. He reserved great portions of time to be employed in His worship. He required a tenth part of substance as a yearly tribute. To this end were tithes and sabbaths instituted, to use us to daily acts of faith; and till we are used to these we can never rise to higher. The command is often repeated that none should appear before the Lord empty. This part of worship cannot be paid after our fancies, but as God has appointed. Therefore what part of our substance God has reserved as a part of His worship is not to be reckoned among bare acts of charity, but must be offered in such manner and method as He has prescribed.
It is evident that a tenth part of all increase under the law was reserved to be offered to the priests, not only for a maintenance, but as to the Lord. And the tithes were reckoned in the same rank with the sacrifices and other offerings (Lev. xxvii. 30; Numb, xviii. 24; Deut. xii. 6). And the substraction of tithes was called "robbing God" (Mai. iii. 8). That this institution was before the law is evident from the example of Abraham and Jacob. The apostle argues the greatness of Melchizcdek over Abraham from the paying of tithes to him; if a gratuity it would have argued the other way, for a giver is greater than a receiver. And the preference given to Melchizedek was because of his priesthood. The word is observable--"tithed" Abraham that is, exacted tithe as his due. And because it was part of the priests' office to receive the Lord's tithe, a receiver of tithe and a priest are synonymous (Heb. x. 8, 23).
Selden infers that only a tithe of the spoils were given. It would prove nothing but that spoils taken in war are tithable, as well as profits of labour in peace.
The word signifies literally "tops of heaps," being the choicest and best parts. Suidas says that Abraham gave to Melchizedek a tenth part of "all" before mention of the tithe of the spoils, which cannot limit the other. Jacob's vow was not only a vow but a further declaration that the Lord only was his God, because he would offer his tithe only unto Him. However Gentiles paid their tithes, the notion was received time out of mind, and tenths generally mean the same thing; and though not always, yet often in sacred writings. If tithes were thought so sacred that they made conscience of paying them without compulsion of any temporal law, this shows the notion they had of a higher original, jure divino. The notion which all the world had was as of a tribute to God for what He had bestowed, and to procure His further blessing which holds as well for one year as another. If the end of offering tithes can be no other than a due acknowledgment of what we have received from Him, the reason must reach to all things. And this was the notion of the Gentiles. There is no account how the practice of tithes began among the Gentiles; it was time out of mind. Melchizedek is the first of whom express mention is made that he received them, and the first called priest. Yet no one doubts that there were priests before him; as little can we doubt that tithes were paid before, for his tithing of Abraham is not mentioned as the introduction of a new custom, else who had known what it meant? and we should have been told. On the contrary, the apostle argues that it was paid as a tribute due to Melchizedek, and thence infers his superiority. Selden supposes him to have been Shem, the eldest son of Noah; so that we must pass the Flood to search for a higher original of tithes. Sacrifices were appointed as types of Christ our true Passover; and Adam could have no knowledge of Him but by revelation. It is allowed that sacrifice and priesthood and marriage were instituted at first by God, and descended by immemorial tradition from Adam. Now tithe, as well as any of these, was universally received among the Gentiles, and must have been from the beginning. How else should all the world have hit upon a tenth more than any other number, in nations far distant and without any correspondence? The gospel was not meant to overturn anything in the law, but to confirm by fulfilling it. Tithes were no part either of the typical or ceremonial laws; therefore were not fulfilled in Christ. He has given express approbation to them as an act of worship to God. He would never have commanded that to disciples; which He would not have His disciples to fulfil more abundantly. The apostle says that Christ received tithes (for his words, Heb. vii. 8, can be meant of no other), and then He has confirmed them not only negatively but positively, Himself now in heaven ever living to receive them.
Again S. Paul, I Cor. ix. 13, 14, makes a comparison of the tithes and offerings of the altar. "Even so" Evangelical priests should live of the gospel--to have a revenue like that of the temple--else it were not "even so." The only dispute which could then be, was to whom they should be paid, whether to the priests of the Temple or the Gospel. The priests of the temple were then in possession of them, and would have raised a much more severe persecution against the Gospel, if its priests had pretended to them. When the Papacy had grown great upon the ruins of Episc'pacy, the Pope took upon him to alienate the tithes of the Church, forgetting the first and chief end of them as a worship and tribute due to God, and insisting only upon the secondary consideration of being a maintenance for the clergy. Schoolmen made a new scheme about the year 1230 A.D., that the particular quantity of a tenth was only of ecclesiastical institution. There is no stop in the art of encroachment, so the Begging Friars after this got up and made tithes to be perfectly arbitrary at the will and pleasure of the giver, mere alms which might be given to any religious beggar; a shameless preaching of greed to rob the Secular clergy. Popes have in several ages taken upon them to sell the tithes of the Church to laymen. In England we have the sacred sanction of vows to that general obligation. Tithes have been dedicated to God by kings and parliaments, with the most solemn imprecations upon themselves and their posterities who should take back or retract any part, from before the Conquest down to Henry VIII. Selden yields that they are unalienable and irrevocable. And Spelman, in his "History of Sacrilege," has given many remarkable instances of the ruin and destruction of those families who shared most of the Church lands and tithes in the beginning of the Reformation, and before Henry VIII. had lived to see that incredible mass of wealth which he had robbed from the Churches all melt away like ice before the sun, and his own vast treasure with it, insomuch that he was at last reduced to coin base money.
There can be no pretence for the lawfulness of impropriations, when those very Acts of Parliament which took them from the Church and gave them to laymen, acknowledge they are God's dues and His rights; and they were obliged to frame a particular Act to enable laymen to sue for tithe, which before they could not do, though in it tithe is named as being due to Almighty God. Tithes are to be paid out of all our gifts and goods. Some part of our substance, a tenth at least, is due to God as an act of worship, which is different from an act of charity; therefore we must give to the poor out of our own nine parts. Though we give the full proportion, yet if we do not give it of the very best, we fail as to the quality of our gift, and forfeit the blessing.
All who worship God ought to pay tithes. All that expect His blessing upon the remaining nine parts. This is no harder to the poor than to the rich, because they pay proportionably; and it is accepted by God as much, if given with a good heart, as the offerings of the rich. He did not give the Levites temporal possessions among their brethren, but settled upon them "His own inheritance," which, as the priesthood had its original and institution, so it should have its revenue and maintenance and dependence from God alone. "Even so hath the Lord ordained that they who preach the gospel should live of the gospel," that is, of those things which are due to God under the gospel. The offering of our tithe ought to be performed with prayer and adoration of God. What benefit has the farmer for tithes being taken from the clergy? They are still paid, only with this difference, that the impropriators generally throughout England set their tithes a shilling or eighteenpence an acre dearer than the incumbent. Impropriators have taken these lands in reason and law, as well of God as man, with that charge that was put upon them by the donors of the lands, and by God upon the tithes of maintaining the poor. Therefore the impropriators stand chargeable to keep the poor at least from being a tax to the nation. And at the beginning of the Reformation, when the laity were first put in possession of these lands and tithes, they did make a show of keeping up the former hospitality. But when the fish was caught they soon laid aside the net.
There was another and a greater burden upon these lands, etc., the cure of souls; and that also they undertook.