« הקודםהמשך »
Lord, and we firmly believe that they are practicable, and binding on every Christian; and that in the life to come, every man will be rewarded according to his works. And further, it is our belief, that, in order to enable mankind to put in practice these sacred precepts, many of which are contradictory to the unregenerate will of man, every man coming into the world, is endued with a measure of the light, grace, or good Spirit of Christ; by which, as it is attended to, he is enabled to distinguish good from evil, and to correct the disorderly passions and corrupt propensities of bis nature, which mere reason is altogether insufficient to overcome. For all that belongs to man is fallible, and within the reach of temptation, but this divine grace, which comes by him who hath overcome the world, is to those who humbly and sincerely seek it, an all-sufficient and present help in time of need. By this, the snares of the enemy are detected, his allurements avoided, and deliverance is experienced through faith in its effectual operation; whereby the soul is translated out of the kingdom of darkness, and from under the power of Satan, into the marvellous light and kingdom of the Son of God.
Being thus persuaded that man, without the Spirit of Christ inwardly revealed, can do nothing to the glory of God, or to effect his own salvation; we think this influence especially necessary to the performance of the highest act of which the human mind is capable: even the worship of the Father of lights and of spirits, in spirit and in truth; therefore we consider as obstructions to pure worship, all forms which divert the attention of the mind from the secret influence of this unction from the Holy One. Yet, although true worship is not confined to time and place, we think it incumbent on Christians to meet often together," in testimony of their dependence on the heavenly Father, and for a renewal of their spiritual strength; nevertheless, in the performance of worship, we dare not depend, for our acceptance with him, on a formal repetition of the words and experiences of others : 'but we believe it to be our duty to lay aside the activity of the imagination, and to wait in silence to have a true sight of our condition bestowed upon us; believing even a single sigh,' arising from such a sense of our infirmities, and of the need we have of Divine help, to be more acceptable to God, than any performances, however specious, which originate in the will of man.
f Matt. xvi. 27. k Heb, x. 25.
h Ibid. xvi. 33.
il John ij. 20, 27.
& John i. 9.
Rom, vjü. 26.
From what has been said respecting worship, it follows that the ministry we approve must have its origin from the same source; for that which is needful for man's own direction, and for his acceptance with God," must be eminently so to enable him to be helpful to others. Accordingly we believe that the renewed assistance of the light and power of Christ, is indispensably necessary for all true ministry; and that his holy influence is not at our command, or to be procured by study, but is the free gift of God to chosen and devoted servants. Hence arises our testimony against preaching for hire, in contradiction to Christ's positive command, “Freely ye have received, freely give;"" and hence our conscientious refusal to support such ministry, by tithes or other means.
As we dare not encourage any ministry, but that which we believe to spring from the influence of the Holy Spirit, so neither dare we attempt to restrain this influence to persons of any condition in life, or to the male sex alone; but as male and female are one in Christ, we allow such of the female sex as we believe to be endued with a right qualification for the ministry, to exercise their gifts for the general edification of the church; and this liberty we esteem a peculiar mark of the gospel dispensation, as foretold by the prophet Joel,o and noticed by the apostle Peter.
There are two ceremonies in use among most professors of the Christian name, Water Baptism, and what is termed the Lord's Supper. The first of these is generally esteemed the essential means of initiation into the church of Christ; and the latter of maintaining communion with him. But as we have been convinced, that nothing short of his redeeming power, inwardly revealed, can set the soul free from the thraldom of sin; by this power alone we believe salvation to be effected. We hold, that as there is one Lord and one faith,' so his baptism is one, in nature and operation; that nothing short of it can make us living members of his mystical body; and that the baptism with water, administered by his forerunner John, belonged, as the latter confessed, to an inferiorand decreasing dispensation,
With respect to the other rite, we believe that communion between Christ and his church is not maintained by that, nor any other external performance, but only by a real participation of his divine nature," through faith; that this is the supper alluded to in Revelation,' “ Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me;" and that where the substance is attained, it is unnecessary to attend to the shadow ; which doth not confer grace, and concerning which opinions so different, and animosities so violent, have arisen.
Now, as we thus believe that the grace of God, which comes by Jesus Christ, is alone sufficient for salvation, we can neither admit that it is conferred on a few only, whilst others are left without it; nor, thus asserting its universality, can we limit its operation to a partial cleansing of the soul from sin, even in this life. We entertain worthier notions both of the power and goodness of our heavenly Father, and believe that he doth vouchsafe to assist the obedient to experience a total surrender of the natural will, to the guidance of his pure unerring Spirit; through whose renewed assistance they are enabled to bring forth fruits unto holiness, and to stand perfect in their present rank."
There are not many of our tenets more generally known than our testimony against Oaths, and against War. With respect to the former of these, we abide literally by Christ's positive injunction, delivered in his sermon on the mount, 1. Swear not at all." From the same sacred collection of the most excellent precepts of moral and religious duty, from the example of our Lord himself,* and from the correspondent convictions of his Spirit in our hearts, we are confirmed in the belief that wars and fightings are, in their origin and effects, utterly repugnant to the gospel; which still breathes peace and good-will to men.
We also are clearly of the judgment, that if the benevolence of the gospel were generally prevalent in the minds of men, it would effectually prevent them from oppressing, much more enslaving their brethren (of whatever colour or complexion) for whom, as for themselves, Christ died; and would even influence their conduct in their treatment of the brute cre
8 2 Pet. i. 4. Rev. iii. 20. u Matt. v. 43. Eph. iv. 13. Col. iv. 12. w Matt. v. 34.
Matt. v. 39, 44, &c. ch. xxvi. 52, 53, Luke xxii. 51. John xviii. 11.
ation ; which would no longer groan, the victims of their avarice, or of their false ideas of pleasure.
Some of our tenets have in former times, as hath been shown, subjected our friends to much suffering from government, though to the salutary purposes of government our principles are a security. They inculcate submission to the laws in all cases wherein conscience is not violated. But we hold, that as Christ's kingdom is not of this world, it is not the business of the civil magistrate to interfere in matters of religion; but to maintain the external peace and good order of the community. We therefore think
persecution, even in the smallest degree, unwarrantable. We are careful in requiring our members not to be concerned in illicit trade, nor in any manner to defraud the revenue.
It is well known that the society, from its first appearance, has disused those names of the months and days, which having been given in honour of the heroes or false gods of the heathen, originated in their flattery or superstition; and the custom of speaking to a single person in the plural number, as having arisen also from motives of adulation. Compliments, superfluity of apparel and furniture, outward shows of rejoicing and mourning, and the observation of days and times, we esteem to be incompatible with the simplicity and sincerity of a Christian life; and public diversions, gaming, and other vain amusements of the world, we cannot but condemn. They are a waste of that time which is given us for nobler purposes; and divert the attention of the mind from the sober duties of life, and from the reproofs of instruction, by which we are guided to an everlasting inheritance.
To conclude; although we have exhibited the several tenets which distinguish our religious society, as objects of our belief; yet we are sensible that a true and living faith is not produced in the mind of man by his own effort; but is the free gift of God in Christ Jesus, nourished and increased by the progressive operation of his Spirit in our hearts, and our proportionate obedience. Therefore, although for the preservation of the testimonies given us to bear, and for the peace and good order of the society, we deem it necessary that those who are admitted into membership with us, should be previously convinced of those
2 John vii. 17,
doctrines which we esteem essential; yet we require no formal subscription to any articles, either as a condition of membership, or a qualification for the service of the church. We prefer the judging of men by their fruits, and depending on the aid of Him, who, by his prophet, hath promised to be “a spirit of judgment to him that sitteth in judgment.”. Without this, there is a danger of receiving numbers into outward communion, without any addition to that spiritual sheepfold, whereofour blessed Lord declared himself to be both the door and the shepherd;" that is, such as know his voice, and follow him in the paths of obedience.
Its Purposes. Meetings for Discipline. Monthly Meetings. Poor.
Convinced Persons. Certificates of Removal. Overseers. Mode of Dealing with Offenders. Arbitration. Marriages. Births and Burials. Quarterly Meetings. Queries. Appeals. The Yearly Meeling. Women's Meetings. Meetings of Ministers and Elders. Certificates to Ministers. The Meetings for Sufferings. Conclusion.
The purposes which our discipline hath chiefly in view, are, the relief of the poor ; the maintenance of good order; the support of the testimonies which we believe it is our duty to bear to the world; and the help and recovery of such as are overtaken in faults.
In the practice of discipline, we think it indispensable that the order recommended by Christ himself be invariably observed. “If thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone; if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother; but if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses, every word may be established; and if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church."
To effect the salutary purposes of discipline, meetings were appointed, at an early period of the society, which, from the times of their being held, were called Quarterly meetings. It was afterward found expedient“ to divide
c Matt, xviii. 15--17.
« Scwcl, 48.1.
a Isaiah xxviii. 6. VOL. IV.
b John x, 7, 11.