By Thomas Clarkson (1806)
This spirit, as it has been given universally, so it has
been given sufficiently—Hence God is exonerated Of injustice, and men are left
without excuse— Those who resist this spirit, are said to quench it, and may
become so hardened in time, as to be insensible of its impressions—Those who
attend to it, may be said to be in the way of redemption—Similar sentiments of
Monro—This visitation, treatment, and influence of the spirit, usually explained
by the Quakers by the Parable of the sower.
As the spirit of God has been thus afforded to every man, since the foundation of the world, to profit withal, so the Quakers say, that it has been given to him in a sufficient measure for this purpose. By the word “sufficient” we are not to understand that this divine monitor calls upon men every day or hour, but that it is within every man, and that it awakens him seasonably, and so often during the term of his natural life, as to exonerate God from the charge of condemning him unjustly, if he fails in his duty, and as to leave himself without excuse. And in proportion as a greater or less measure of this spirit has been afforded him, so he is more or less guilty in the sight of his Maker.
If any should resist these salutary operations of the Holy Spirit, they resist it to their own condemnation.
Of such it may he observed, that they are said to quench or grieve the spirit, and, not unfrequently, to resist God, and to crucify Christ afresh; for God and Christ and the Spirit are considered to be inseparably united in the scriptures.
Of such also it may be again observed, that if they continue to resist God’s holy Spirit, their feelings may become so callous or hardened in time, that they may never be able to perceive its notices again, and thus the day of their visitation may be over: for “my people, saith God, would not hearken to my voice, and Israel would none of me; so I gave them up to their own hearts’ lusts, and they walked in their own counsels.” To the same import was the saying of Jesus Christ, when he wept over Jerusalem. “If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes.” As if he had said, there was a day, in which ye, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, might have known those things which belonged to your peace. I was then willing to gather you, as a hen gathereth her chickens, but as ye would not suffer me, the things belonging to your peace are now hid from your eyes. Ye would not attend to the impressions by God’s Holy Spirit, when your feelings were tender and penetrable, and therefore now, the day having passed over, ye have lost the power of discerning them.
Those, on the other hand, who, during this visitation of the Holy Spirit, attend to its suggestions or warnings, are said to be in the way of their redemption or salvation.
These sentiments of the Quakers on this subject are beautifully described by Monro, in his just measures of the pious institutions of youth. “The Holy Spirit,” says he, “solicits and importunes those who are in a state of sin, to return, by inward motions and impressions, by suggesting good thoughts and prompting to pious resolutions, by checks and controls, by conviction of sin and duty; sometimes by frights and terrors, and other whiles by love and endearments: But if men, notwithstanding all his loving solicitations, do still cherish and cleave to their lusts, and persevere in a state of sin, they are then said to resist the Holy Ghost, whereby their condition becomes very deplorable, and their conversion very difficult; for the more men resist the importunities, and stifle the motions of the Holy Spirit, the stronger do the chains of their corruption and servitude become. Every new act of sin gives these a degree of strength, and consequently puts a new obstacle in the way of conversion; and when sin is turned into an inveterate and rooted habit, (which by reiterated commissions and long continuance it is) then it becomes a nature, and is with as much difficulty altered as nature is. Can the Ethiopian change his colour, or the Leopard his spots? Then may you also do good, who are accustomed to do evil.”
“The Holy Spirit again,” says he, “inspires the prayers of those who, in consequence of his powerful operations, have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts, with devout and filial affections, and makes intercession for them with sighs and groans that cannot be uttered. He guides and manages them. The sons of God are led by the spirit of god. He makes, his blessed fruits, righteousness, peace, joy, and divine love, more and more to abound in them; he confirms them in goodness, persuades them to perseverance, and seals them to the day of redemption.”
The Quakers usually elucidate this visitation, treatment, and influence of the Holy Spirit, by the parable of the sower, as recorded by three of the Evangelists. “Now the seed is the word of God.” But as the word of God and the spirit, according to St. John the Evangelist, are the same, the parable is considered by the Quakers as relating to that divine light or spirit which is given to man for his spiritual instruction and salvation. As the seed was sown in all sorts of ground, good, bad, and indifferent, so this light or spirit is afforded, without exception, to all. As thorns choked this seed, and hindered it from coming to perfection, so bad customs, or the pleasures and cares of the world, hinder men from attending to this divine principle within them, and render it unfruitful in their hearts. And as the seed in the good ground was not interrupted, and therefore produced fruit in abundance, so this spiritual principle, where it is not checked, but received and cherished, produces also abundance of spiritual fruit in the inward man, by putting him into the way of redemption from sin, or of holiness of life.
The spirit of God, therefore, besides its office of a
teacher, performs that of a Redeemer of men—Redemption outward and
inward—Outward is by the sufferings of Jesus Christ—These produce
forgiveness of past sins, and put men into a capacity of salvation—inward, or
the office now alluded to, is by the operation of the spirit—This converts men,
and preserves them from sins to come—outward and inward connected with each
The spirit of God, which we have seen to be given to men, and to be given them universally, to enable them to distinguish between ‘good and evil, was given them also, the Quakers believe, for another purpose, namely, to redeem or save them. Redemption and salvation, in this sense,’ are the same, in the language of the Quakers, and mean a purification from the sins or pollutions of the world, so that a new birth may be produced, and maintained in the inward man.
As the doctrine of the Quakers, with respect to redemption, differs from that which generally obtains, I shall allot this chapter to an explanation of the distinctions, which the Quakers usually make upon this subject.
The Quakers never make use of the words “original sin,” because these are never to be found in the sacred writings. They consider man, however, as in a fallen or degraded state, and as inclined and liable to sin. They consider him, in short, as having the seed of sin within him, which he inherited from his parent Adam. But though they acknowledge this, they dare not say, that sin is imputed to him on account of Adam’s transgression, or that he is chargeable with sin, until he actually commits it.
As every descendant, however, of Adam, has this seed within him, which, amidst the numerous temptations that beset him, he allows sometime or other to germinate, so he stands in need of a Redeemer; that is, of some power that shall be able to procure pardon for past offences, and of some power that shall be able to preserve him in the way of holiness for the future. To expiate himself, in a manner satisfactory to the Almighty, for so foot a stain upon his nature as that of sin, is utterly beyond his abilities; for no good action, that he can do, can do away that which has been once done. And to preserve himself in a state of virtue for the future, is equally out of his own power, because this cannot be done by any effort of his reason, but only by the conversion of his heart. It has therefore pleased the Almighty to find a remedy for him in each of these cases. Jesus Christ, by the sacrifice of his own body, expiates for sins that are past, and the spirit of God, which has been afforded to him, as a spiritual teacher, has the power of cleansing and purifying the heart so thoroughly, that he may be preserved from sins to come.
That forgiveness of past sins is procured by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, is obvious from various passages in the holy scriptures. Thus the apostle Paul says, that Jesus Christ “was set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past through the forbearance of God.” And in his epistle to the Colossians he says, “In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.” This redemption may be called outward, because it has been effected by outward means, or by the outward sufferings of Jesus Christ; and it is considered as putting men, in consequence of this forgiveness, into the capacity of salvation. The Quakers, however, attribute this redemption wholly to the love of God, and not to the impossibility of his forgiveness without a plenary satisfaction, or to the motive of heaping all his vengeance on the head of Jesus Christ, that he might appease his own wrath.
The other redemption, on the other hand, is called inward, because it is considered by the Quakers to be an inward redemption from the power of sin, or a cleansing the heart from the pollutions of the world. This inward redemption is produced by the spirit of God, as before stated, operating on the hearts of men, and so cleansing and purifying them, as to produce a new birth in the inward man; so that the same spirit of God, which has been given to men in various degrees since the foundation of the world, as a teacher in their spiritual concerns, which hath visited every man in his day, and which hath exhorted and reproved him for his spiritual welfare, has the power of preserving him from future sin, and of leading him to salvation.
That this inward redemption is performed by the spirit of God, the Quakers show from various passages in the sacred writings. Thus St. Paul says, “According to his mercy he hath saved us by the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost.” The same apostle says, again, “It is the law of the Spirit that maketh free from the law of sin and death.” And again--“As many as are led by the spirit of God, they are the sons of God.”
The Quakers say, that this inward redemption or salvation as effected by the spirit, is obvious also from the experience of all good men, or from the manner in which many have experienced a total conversion or change of heart. For though there are undoubtedly some who have gone on so gradually in their reformation from vice to virtue, that it may have been considered to be the effect of reason, which has previously determined on the necessity of a holy life, yet the change from vice to holiness has often been so rapid and decisive, as to leave no doubt whatever, that it could not have been produced by any effort of reason, but only by some divine operation, which could only have been that of the spirit of God.
Of these two kinds of redemption, the outward and the inward, of which the latter will be the subject of our consideration, it may be observed, that they go hand in hand together. St. Paul has coupled them in these words: “for if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life;” that is, by the life of his spirit working inwardly in us.—And as they go together in the mind of the apostle, so they go together as to the benefit of their effects. For, in the first place, the outward redemption takes place, when the inward has begun. And, secondly, the outward redemption, or the sufferings of Jesus Christ, which redeem from past sins, cannot have any efficacy till the inward has begun, or while men remain in their sins; or, in other words, no man can be entitled to the forgiveness of sins that have been committed, till there has been a change in the inward man; for St. John intimates, that the blood of Christ does not cleanse from sin, except men walk in the light, or, to use an expression synonymous with the Quakers, except men walk in the spirit.
Inward redemption, which thus goes on by the operation
of the Holy Spirit, has the power of producing a new birth in men—This office of
the spirit acknowledged by other Christians—Monro—Hammond—Locke—It has the power
also of leading to perfection—Sentiments of the Quakers as to perfection—and of
the ever memorable John Hales—Gell—Monro --This power of inward redemption
bestowed upon all.
The sufferings then of Jesus Christ, having by means of the forgiveness of past sins, put men into a capacity for salvation, the remaining part of salvation, or the inward redemption of man, is performed by the operation of the Holy Spirit; of which, however, it must be remembered, that a more plentiful diffusion is considered by the Quakers to have been given to men after the ascension of Jesus Christ, than at any former period.
The nature of this inward redemption, or the nature of this new office, which it performs in addition to that of a religious teacher, may be seen in the following account.
It has the power, the Quakers believe, of checking and preventing bad inclinations and passions; of cleansing and purifying the heart; of destroying the carnal mind; of making all old things pass away; of introducing new; of raising our spiritual senses, so as to make us delight in the things of God, and to put us above the enjoyment of earthly pleasures. Redeeming thus from the pollutions of the world, and leading to spiritual purity, it forms a new creature. It produces the new man in the heart. It occasions a man by its quickening power to be born again, and thus puts him into the way of salvation. “For verily I say unto thee, says Jesus Christ to Nicodemus, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
This office and power of the spirit of God is acknowledged by other Christians. Monro, who has been before quoted, observes, “that the soul, being thus raised from the death of sin and born again, is divinely animated, and discovers that it is alive by the vital operations which it performs.”
“Again, says he, this blissful presence, the regenerate who are delivered from the dominion, and cleansed from the impurities of sin, have recovered, and it is on the account of it, that they are said to be an habitation of God through the spirit and the temples of the Holy Ghost. For that good spirit takes possession of them, resides in their hearts, becomes the mover, enlightener, and director of all their faculties and powers, gives a new and heavenly tincture and tendency to all their inclinations and desires, and, in one word, is the great spring of all they think, or do, or say; and hence it is that they are said to walk no more after the flesh, but after the spirit, and to be led by the spirit of God.”
Dr. Hammond, in his paraphrase and annotations on the New Testament, observes, that “he who hath been born of God, is literally he who hath had such a blessed change wrought in him by the operation of God’s spirit in his heart, as to be translated from the power of darkness into the kingdom of his dear Son.”
“As Christ in the flesh, says the great and venerable Locke, was wholly exempt from all taint and sin, so we, by that spirit which was in him, shall be exempt from the dominion of carnal lusts, if we make it our choice, and endeavour to live after the spirit.”
“Here the apostle, says Locke, shows that Christians are delivered from the dominion of their carnal lusts by the spirit of God that is given to them, and dwells in them, as a new quickening principle and power, by which they are put into the state of a spiritual life, wherein their members are made capable of becoming the instruments of righteousness.”
And this spirit of God, which thus redeems from the pollutions of the world, and puts a new heart as it were into man, is considered by the Quakers as so powerful in its operations, as to be able to lead him to perfection. By this the Quakers do not mean to say, that the perfection of man is at all like the perfection of God; because the perfection of the former is capable of growth. They believe, however, that, in his renewed state, he may be brought to be so perfect, as to be able to keep those commandments of God which are enjoined him. In this sense they believe it is, that Noah is called by Moses a just and perfect man in his generation; and that Job is described as a perfect and an upright man; and that the evangelist Luke speaks of Zacharias and Elizabeth in these words-- “They were both righteous before God, and walked in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.”
That man, who is renewed in heart, can attain this degree of perfection, the Quakers think it but reasonable to suppose. For to think that God has given man any law to keep, which it is impossible for him, when aided by his Holy Spirit, to keep, or to think that the power of Satan can be stronger in man than the power of Christ, is to think very inadequately of the Almighty, and to cast a dishonourable reflection on his goodness, his justice, and his power. Add to which, that there would not have been such expressions in the New Testament, as those of Jesus Christ—“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in Heaven is perfect”—Nor would there have been other expressions of the Apostles of a similar meaning, if the renewed man had not possessed the power of doing the will of God.
This doctrine of perfection brought the Quakers into disputes with persons of other religions denominations, at the time of their establishment. But, however it might be disapproved of, it was not new in these times; nor was it originally introduced by them. Some of the fathers of the church, and many estimable divines of different countries, had adopted it. And here it may be noticed, that the doctrine had been received also by several of the religious in our own.
In the golden remains of the ever memorable John Hales, we find, that “through the grace of Him that doth enable as, we are stronger than Satan, and the policy of Christian warfare hath as many means to keep back and defend, as the deepest reach of Satan hath to give the onset.”
“St. Augustine, says this amiable writer, was of opinion, that it was possible for us even in this natural life, seconded by the grace of God, perfectly to accomplish what the law requires at our hands.” In the Golden Remains, many sentiments are to be found of the same tenour.
Bacon, who collected and published Dr. Robert Gell’s remains, says in his preface, that Dr. Gell preached before King Charles the first on Ephesians 4. 10. at New-Market, in the year 1631, a bold discourse, yet becoming him, testifying before the King that doctrine he taught to his life’s end, “the possibility, through grace, of keeping the law of God in this life.” Whoever reads these venerable Remains, will find this doctrine inculcated in them.
Monro, who lived some time after Dr. Gell, continued the same doctrine:
So great, says he, in his just measures, is the goodness and benignity of God, and so perfect is the justice of his nature, that he will not, cannot command impossibilities. Whatever he requires of mankind by way of duty, he enables them to perform it—His grace goes before and assists their endeavours; so that when they do not comply with his injunctions, it is because they will not employ the power that he has given them, and which he is ready to increase and heighten, upon their dutiful improvement of what they have already received, and their serious application to him for more.
Again—“Though of ourselves, and without Christ, we can do nothing; yet with him we can do all things: and then, he adds a little lower, why should any duties frighten us, or seem impossible to us?”
Having now stated it to be the belief of the Quakers, that the spirit of God acts as an inward redeemer to man, and that its powers are such that it may lead him to perfection in the way explained, it remains for me to observe, that it is their belief also, that this spirit has been given for these purposes, without any exception, to all of the human race: or in the same manner as it was given as an universal teacher, so it has been given as an universal redeemer to man, and that it acts in this capacity, and fulfils its office to all those who attend to its inward strivings, and encourage its influence on their hearts.
That it was given to all for this purpose, they believe to be manifest from the Apostle Paul: “for the grace of God, says he, which bringeth salvation, hath appeared unto all men.” He says again, that “the Gospel was preached unto every creature which is under Heaven.” He defines the Gospel to be “the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.” He means therefore that this power of inward redemption was afforded to all. For the outward Gospel had not been preached to all in the time of the apostle; nor has it been preached to all even at the present day. But these passages are of universal import. They imply no exception. They comprehend every individual of the human race.
That this spirit was also given to all for these purposes, the Quakers believe, when they consider other passages in the scriptures, which appear to them to belong to this subject. For they consider this spirit to have begun its office as an inward redeemer with the fall of the first man, and to have continued it through the patriarchal ages to the time of the outward Gospel, when there was to be no other inward redemption but by the same means. Thus by the promise which was given to Adam, there was to be perpetual enmity between the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman, though the latter was to vanquish, or as, the Quakers interpret it, between the spirit of sin and the spirit of God, that was placed in man. This promise was fully accomplished by Jesus, (who came from the woman) after he had received immeasurably the spirit of God, or after he had become the Christ. But the Quakers consider it to have bean partially accomplished by many from the time of Adam; for they believe that many, who have attended to the seed of God, or, which is the same thing, to the portion of the spirit of God within them, have witnessed the enmity alluded to, and have bruised, in a great degree, the power of sin within their own hearts, or have experienced in these early times the redeeming power of the spirit of God. And except this be the case, the Quakers conceive some of the passages, which they suppose to relate to this subject, not to be so satisfactorily explicable as they might be rendered. For it is said of Abraham, that he saw Christ’s day. But as Abraham died long before the visible appearance of Christ in the flesh, he could neither have seen Christ outwardly, nor his day. It is still affirmed that he saw Christ’s day. And the Quakers say they believe he saw him inwardly, for he witnessed in his own spirit, which is the same thing, the redeeming power of the spirit of God. For as the world was made by the spirit, or by the word, which is frequently interpreted to be Christ, so these terms are synonimous, and often used the one for the other. The Quakers therefore believe Abraham to have experienced in a very high degree the power of this inward redemption. They believe also that Job experienced it in an extraordinary manner. For he asserted that he knew “that his redeemer lived.” But Job could never have said this, except be had alluded to the powerful influence within him, which had purified his heart from the pollutions of sin. For being as early as the time of Moses, he could never have seen any of the sacred writings which mentioned Jesus Christ as a redeemer, or the person of Jesus Christ.
The Quakers also consider David, from the numerous expressions to be found in the Psalms, as having experienced this inward redemption also, and in the same manner as they conceive this spirit to have striven with Abraham, and Job, and David, so they conceive it to have striven with others of the same nation for their inward redemption to the time of Jesus Christ. They believe again, that it has striven with all the Heathen nations, from the foundation of the world to the same period. And they believe also, that it has continued its office of a redeemer to all people, whether Jews, Heathens, or Christians, from the time of Jesus Christ to the present day.
Proposition of the new birth and perfection, as hitherto
explained in the ordinary way—New view of the subject from a more particular
detail of the views and expressions of the Quakers concerning it—A new spiritual
birth as real from the spiritual seed of the kingdom, as that of plants or
vegetables from their seeds in the natural world—And the new birth proceeds
really in the same progressive manner, to maturity or perfection—Result of this
new view the same as that in the former section.
I stated in the last section that the spirit of God is considered by the Quakers as an inward redeemer to men, and that, in this office, it has the power of producing a new birth in them, and of leading them to perfection in the way described. This proposition, however, I explained only in the ordinary way. But as the Quakers have a particular way of viewing and expressing it, and as they deem it one of the most important of their religious propositions, I trust I shall, be excused by the reader, if I allot one other section to this subject.
Jesus Christ states, as was said before, in the most clear and positive terms, that “except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of heaven.”
Now the great work of religion is salvation or redemption. Without this no man can see God; and therefore the meaning of the words of Jesus Christ will be this, that, except a man be born again, he cannot experience that inward redemption which shall enable him to see the kingdom of heaven.
Redemption then is necessary to qualify for a participation of the heavenly joys, and it is stated to take place by means of the new birth.
The particular ideas then, which the Quakers have relative to the new birth and perfection, are the following. In the same manner as the Divine Being has scattered the seeds of plants and vegetables in the body of the earth, so he has implanted a portion of his own incorruptible seed, or of that which, in scripture language, is called the “Seed of the Kingdom,” in the soul of every individual of the human race. As the sun by its genial influence quickens the vegetable seed, so it is the office of the Holy Spirit, in whom is life, and who resides in the temple of man, to quicken that which is heavenly. And in the same manner as the vegetable seed conceives and brings forth a plant, or a tree with stem and branches; so if the soul, in which the seed of the kingdom is placed, be willing to receive the influence of the Holy Spirit upon it, this seed is quickened and a spiritual offspring is produced. Now this offspring is as real a birth from the seed in the soul by means of the spirit, as the plant from its own seed by means of the influence of the sun. “The seed of the kingdom, says Isaac Pennington, consists not in words or notions of mind, but is an inward thing, an inward spiritual substance in the heart, as real inwardly in its kind, as other seeds are outwardly in their kind. And being received by faith, and taking root in man, (his heart, his earth, being ploughed up and prepared for it,) it groweth up inwardly, as truly and really, as any outward seed doth outwardly.”
With respect to the offspring thus produced in the soul of man, it maybe variously named. As it comes from the incorruptible seed of God, it may be called a birth of the divine nature or life. As it comes by the agency of the spirit, it may be called the life of the spirit. As it is new, it may be called the new man or creature: or it may have the appellation of a child of God: or it is that spiritual life and light, or that spiritual, principle and power within us, which may be called the Anointed, or Christ within.
“As this seed, says Barclay, is received in the heart and suffered to bring forth its natural and proper effect, Christ comes to be formed and raised, called in scripture the new man, Christ within us, the hope of glory. Yet herein they (the Quakers) do not equal themselves with the holy man, the Lord Jesus Christ, in whom the fulness of the Godhead dwelt bodily, neither destroy his present existence. For though they affirm Christ dwells in them, yet not immediately, but mediately, as he is in that seed which is in them.”
Of the same opinion was the learned Cudworth. “We all, says he, receive of his fulness grace for grace, as all the stars in heaven are said to light their candles at the sun’s flame. For though his body be withdrawn from us, yet by the lively and virtual contact of his spirit, he is always kindling, cheering, quickening, warming, and enlivening hearts. Nay, this divine life begun and kindled in any heart, wheresoever it be, is something of God in flesh, and in a sober and qualified sense, divinity incarnate; and all particular Christians, that are really possessed of it, are so many mystical Christs.”
Again—“Never was any tender infant so dear to those bowels that begat it, as an infant newborn Christ, formed in the heart of any true believer, to God the Father of it.”
This account relative to the new birth the Quakers conceive to be strictly deducible from the Holy Scriptures. It is true, they conceive, as far as the new birth relates to God and to the seed, and to the spirit, from the following passages: “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin, for his seed remaineth in him.” “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God.” “Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth.” It is considered to be true again, as far as the new birth relates to the creature born and to the name which it may bear, from these different expressions: “Of whom I travail in birth again, till Christ be formed in you.” “Nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.” “But ye have received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry Abba, Father.” “But as many as received him, that is, the spirit or word, to them gave he power to become the sons of God.” “For as many as are led by the spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” And as parents and children resemble one another, so believers are made “conformable to the image of his son,” “who is the image of the invisible God.”
Having explained in what the new birth consists, or having shown, according to Barclay, “that the seed is a real spiritual substance, which the soul of man is capable of feeling and apprehending, from which that real spiritual inward birth arises, called the new creature or the new man in the heart,” it remains to show how believers, or those in whose souls Christ is thus produced, may be said to grow up to perfection; for by this real birth or geniture in them they come to have those spiritual senses raised, by which they are made capable of tasting, smelling, seeing, and handling, the things of God.
It may be observed then, that in the new birth a progress is experienced from infancy to youth, and from youth to manhood. As it is only by submission to the operation of the spirit that this birth can take place, so it is only by a like submission, that any progress or growth from one stature to another will be experienced in it; neither can the regenerated become instrumental in the redemption of others, any farther or otherwise than as Christ or the anointing dwells and operates in them, teaching them all truths necessary to be known, and strengthening them to perform every act necessary to be done for this purpose. He must be their only means and “hope of glory.” It will then be that the “creature which waiteth in earnest expectation for the manifestation of the sons of God, will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.” For “if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new, and all things of God.”
They who are the babes of the regeneration begin to see spiritual things. The natural man, the mere creature, never saw God. But the babes, who cry Abba, Father, begin to see and to know him. Though as yet unskilful in the word of righteousness, “they desire the sincere milk of the word, that they may grow thereby.” And “their sins are forgiven them.”
They, who are considered as the young men in this state, are said to be “spiritually strong, and the word of God abiding in them, to have overcome the wicked one.”
They, who have attained a state of manhood, are called fathers, or are said to be of full age, and to be capable of taking strong meat. “They come, in the unity of faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto perfect men, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ. They arrive at such a state of stability, that they are no more children tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine; but speaking the truth in love, grow up unto him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.” “The old man with his deeds being put off, they have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him.” “They are washed, they are sanctified, they are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and in the spirit of our God.” The new creation is thus completed, and the sabbath wherein man ceases from his own works, commences; so that every believer can then say with the apostle, “I am crucified with Christ. Nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me. And the life, which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”
But this state of manhood, “by which the man of God may be made perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works, does not take place, until Christ be fully formed in the souls of believers, or till they are brought wholly under his rule and government. He must be substantially formed in them. He must actually be their life, and their hope of glory. He must be their head and governor. As the head, and the body, and the members are one, according to the apostle, but the head directs; so Christ, and, believers in whom Christ is born and formed, are one spiritual body, which he himself must direct also. Thus Christ, where he is fully formed in man, or where believers are grown up to the measure of the stature and fulness of sonship, is the head of every man, and God is the head of Christ. Thus Christ the begotten entirely governs the whole man, as the head directs and governs all the members of the body; and God the Father, as the head of Christ, entirely guides and governs the begotten. Hence, believers ‘are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s;’ so that ultimately God is all in all.”
Having given this new view of the subject, I shall only
observe farther upon it, that the substance of this chapter turns out to be the
same as that of the preceding, or according to the notions of the Quakers, that
inward redemption cannot be effected but through the medium of the spirit of
God. For Christ, according to the ideas now held out, must be formed in man, and
he must rule them before they can experience full inward redemption; or, in
other words, they cannot experience this inward redemption, except they can
truly say that he governs them, or except they can truly call him Governor, or
Lord. But no person can say that Christ rules in him, except he undergoes the
spiritual process of regeneration which has been described, or to use the words
of the Apostle, “No man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Spirit.”
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