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Hence it is no matter of surprize that they should, on some occasions, express in very full and unequivocal terms, the efficacy of that Divine Influence by which they had themselves been so immediately taught and instructed; and that they should as clearly set forth this Divine Influence through "FAITH in CHRIST JESUS," who is the Divine Instructor, as that by which alone the Scriptures themselves were given forth, and through which alone they could be the means of communicating saving knowledge and virtue. And is not this giving to the Sacred Volume, all which that Volume ascribes to itself?
That they were conversant with its contents, and even mighty in the Scriptures, is no less evident; as well as that they were willing to bring their faith in ALL respects to the test of its sacred pages. It does not appear however that their day was seen to be the Lord's time for that universal diffusion of the Sacred Volume, which it is now become the duty of all to promote. Hence whilst they highly prized, and both by example and precept, very forcibly recommended the use of the Holy Scriptures, their peculiar calling and duty appears to have been to lead people to the knowledge of the gift of God in their own hearts; so that this duty had a paramount claim on their efforts and exertions. The signs of the present times however call upon us, their successors, to exercise every talent bestowed in promoting with more equal endeavours, both the inward knowledge of Christ Jesus as our Redeemer and Saviour, and likewise an intimate acquaintance with the ways of God to man, and with the history
of the great work of human redemption, as they are exhibited in the Sacred Records.
In corroboration of the preceding remarks, the editor may adduce some observations of the Author, made in the year 1696, in a letter which he wrote to an inquirer after the way of Truth, and which, treating on various topics, occupies more than twenty pages of the folio volume. After stating that "in the LORD JESUS, the WORD OF GOD, are hid all the treasures of wisdom and kuowledge; by whose breath of Divine Life (not by reason) understanding is given, and the Scriptures are opened," he adds: "whilst I remained reasoning with flesh and blood, I had no true peace or knowledge of God; but when it pleased Him to reveal the life of his Son IN ME, then I denied myself and the world, with all the vain pleasures and glory of it, and likewise my own wisdom; and, to the world, became as a fool, that from thenceforth I might be a partaker of that wisdom and knowledge dispensed by Him who is the Fountain and Dispenser of all true wisdom, knowledge, and understanding."
"And upon this Word have I ever depended since I was favoured with the knowledge of God, and not upon my own reason, as a man only, nor upon any supposed natural parts or acquirements; which, by themselves, ought not to intermeddle with the things of God."
"And now, my dear friend, know that I am not a contemner of the Holy Scriptures, but DO LOVE THEM, and have searched them from my youth, and have often been мUCH COMFORTED, and my heart has often glowed within, whilst the blessed and Holy
Spirit of Christ, which was in the prophets and apostles, brought the SCRIPTURES to my remembrance, and OPENED the MYSTERIES THEREOF in me. And therefore to the Word of God, which the noble Bereans received with all readiness of mind, before they searched the Scriptures, do I refer thee; even to the Ingrafted Word, which is able to save thy soul, if thou believest therein; that by the light and power of it, thou mayst read and understand as well the Divine law of God written in thy heart, as the LETTER or THE BOOK, and mayst HAVE THE SCRIPTURES opened unto thee."
On other occasions the Author sets forth his belief in the divinely inspired origin of the Holy Scriptures; though he justly views that Divine power, from which they derive their sanctity, as the sole cause of rendering them efficacious; and hence considers the Lord Jesus Christ himself, their Divine Author, to be the only round of faith. See pages 291-297 of this volume.
Though it appears to have pleased Divine Providence, peculiarly to illumine the minds of individuals, in different ages of the world, by the immediate operation and influence of the Spirit of his Son, as for instance, in the revelation of the Holy Scriptures themselves ; it must however be most freely confessed, that the Holy Scriptures are the grand influential medium of "making wise unto salvation, THROUGH FAITH IN CHRIST JESUS;" for where the knowledge of them is wanting the knowledge of God is very dim and imperfect.
After the Author had taken up his residence in London, in the year 1695, in the practice of the law, as a conveyancer, Friends employed him to record all the foreign sufferings, which till that time had remained in the chamber there, as they had been sent from all parts. He was also employed in examining the title deeds belonging to the Quarterly Meeting of London, in divers of which, he found, and rectified mistakes. He also made a general index and abstract of these deeds by which means the purport of any deed, and the remaining trustees might be readily found. The utility of such documents is very considerable, besides the advantage of possessing them, in case of the loss of original deeds; and it is probable that this early production, led the way to the care which the Society has since exercised in this respect.
The Author's business increased daily, so that he had several offers of clerks with competent premiums for their instruction; but considering that engagements of this kind would be too confining, consistent with the liberty requisite in the exercise of his ministry, and the sacrifices he had already made in order to devote himself to the Lord's work, he declined every proposal of that nature, and confined himself to such business as he could accomplish with the help of writing-clerks employed occasionally.
In the letter written in 1696, which has been already adverted to, the Author makes the following
observations, on the subject of what is termed the "Lord's Supper :"
"Breaking bread and drinking wine, was a Jewish rite, begun in the time of the captivity at Babylon, continued till the coming of Christ, and used at the passover and eating of the paschal lamb; which was a type of Christ as the Lamb of God, the true vine and wine of the kingdom, and antitype of that figure; who made the application of it immediately to Himself, as being the real Substance. And though He was at that time come, and present with them as born of the Virgin Mary, and as the Messiah outwardly, according to the prophets; yet He was then shortly to come or be revealed, according to the prophecy of Malachi, the last of the prophets, and of John the baptist, who prophesied of a more excellent divine coming and manifestation of the same Christ and Saviour; even the revelation of Him, as the Mediator and Messenger of the new and second covenant, of Light and Life. He is also that Covenant; and like a refiner's fire, and fuller's soap, sitting in the hearts of mankind, as a refiner and purifier of silver; to make men pure, and purer than fine gold, seven times tried in the fire; to gather the weighty and solid wheat into the garner of God, to be reserved there for his use; but to burn up the chaff of pollutions with fire unquenchable, by Him who is that fire, the Word of God; who as John baptized with water, baptizeth with the Holy Ghost, and with that divine and holy fire.
"As often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye show forth the Lord's death till He come.' They