Изображения страниц

measure given them. Of those who possessed the greatest share of it, some were the ancient patriarchs, such as Noah and Abraham, and others were the ancient scriptural writers, such as Moses and the prophets. The latter again experienced it in different measures or degrees; and in proportion as they had it, they delivered more or less those prophecies which are usually considered as inspired truths, from a belief that many of them have been circumstantially completed.

At length, in the fulness of time, that is, when all things had been fulfilled which were previously to take place, this divine spirit which had appeared in creation, this divine word, or light, took flesh, (for, as St. John the Evangelist says, "the word was made flesh, and dwelled among us,") and inhabited "the body which had been prepared for it;" or, in other words, it inhabited the body of the person Jesus; but with this difference, that whereas only a portion of this divine light or spirit had been given to Adam, and afterwards to the prophets, it was given without limit or measure to the man Jesush." For he whom God hath sent, says St. John, speaketh the words of God, for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him." And St. Paul says, In him the fulness of the Godhead

[blocks in formation]

dwelled bodily." In him, therefore, the promise given to Adam was accomplished, " that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head;" for we see in this case a human body, weak and infirm, and subject to passions, possessed or occupied, without limit or measure, by the spirit of God. But if the man Jesus had the full spirit of God within him, he could not be otherwise than perfectly holy. And if so, sin never could have entered, and must therefore, as far as relates to him, have been entirely repelled. Thus he answered the prophetic character which had been given of him, independently of his victory over sin by the sacrifice of himself, or by becoming afterwards a comforter to those in bondage, who should be willing to receive him.

After Jesus Christ came the Evangelists and Apostles. Of the same spirit which he had possessed immeasurably, these had their several portions; and though these were limited, and differed in degree from one another, they were sufficient to enable them to do their duty to God and men, to enjoy the presence of the Almighty, and to promote the purposes designed by him in the propagation of his gospel.

k 2 Cor. 10. 15.


Except a man has a portion of the same spirit, which Jesus and the prophets and the apostles had, he can have no knowledge of God or spiritual things -Doctrine of St. Paul on this subject-This confirms the history of the human and divine spirit in man-These spirits distinct in their kind-This distinction farther elucidated by a comparison between the faculties of men and brutes-Sentiments of Augustin-Luther-Calvin-Smith-Taylor -Cudworth.

THE Quakers believe, that there can be no spiritual knowledge of God, but through the medium of his holy spirit; or, in other words, that if men have not a portion of the same spirit which the holy men of old, and which the Evangelists and Apostles, and which Jesus himself had, they can have no true or vital religion.

In favour of this proposition, they usually quote those remarkable words of the Apostle Paul; 1 "for what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of a man which is in him? Even so the

1 1 Cor, 2. 11, &c.

things of God knoweth no man, but the spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God, that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God." And again" but the natural man receiveth not the things of the spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned."

By these expressions the Quakers conceive that the history of man, as explained in the last chapter, is confirmed; or that the Almighty not only gave to man reason, which was to assist him in his temporal, but also superadded a portion of his own spirit, which was to assist him in his spiritual concerns. They conceive it also to be still farther confirmed by other expressions of the same Apostle. In his first letter to the Corinthians, he says, m" Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, which is in you, which ye have of God;" and in his letter to Timothy he desires him

"to hold fast that good thing which was committed to him by means of the holy Ghost, which dwelled in him." Now these expressions can only be accurate on a supposition of the truth of the history of man, as explained in the former chap

m 1 Cor. 6. 19. VOL. IR

n 2 Tim. 1. 14.


ter. If this history be true, then they are considered as words of course: for if there be a communication between the supreme Being and his creature man, or if the Almighty has afforded to man an emanation of his own spirit, which is to act for a time in his mortal body, and then to return to him that gave it, we may say, with great consistency, that the divinity resides in him, or that his body is the temple of the holy spirit.

The Quakers conceive again from these expressions of the Apostle, that these two principles in man are different from each other; they are mentioned under the distinct names of the spirit of man, and of the spirit of God. The former they suppose to relate to the understanding: the latter conjointly to the understanding and to the heart. The former can be brought into use at all times, if the body of a man be in health. The latter is not at his own disposal. Man must wait for its inspirations. Like the wind, it bloweth when it listeth. Man also, when he feels this divine influence, feels that it is distinct from his reason. When it is gone, he feels the loss of it, though all his rational faculties be alive. "Those, says Alexander Arscott, who have this experience, certainly know that as at times, in their silent retirements and humble waitings upon God, they

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »