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Again : says Elias Hicks, “ Would he not rather go forward, and offer himself wholly up to suffer all the penalties due to his crimes, rather than the innocent should suffer ?”
As regards the sufferings of Jesus Christ, they were en tirely voluntary, as the Scriptures abundantly shew; consequently the latter clause of this sentence loses all its force. He freely and of his own will, gave himself a ransom for us -a sacrifice well pleasing unto God.
What now is the penalty, or “all the penalties, due to man's crimes ? Let the Bible answer : “ Tribulation and anguish upon every soul of man that doeth evil”—“Everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and the glory of his power”—“To be cast into hell”—“Suffering the vengeance of eternal fire”_" Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched” - To be cast into the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone" !--" The smoke of whose torment ascendeth for ever and ever.”
Is it not, then, a plain inference from the language of this letter, " that any rational being that has any right sense of justice and mercy, would rather go forward, and offer his soul up to suffer all these penalties,” than accept the forgiveness of sins through the propitiatory sacrifice of Jesus Christ? And yet the Scriptures, as we have before shown, assert that these are the terms upon which that forgiveness is offered.
Nay,” says Elias Hicks, “was he so hardy as to acknowledge a willingness to be saved through such a medium, would it not prove that he stood in direct opposition to every principle of justice and honesty, of mercy and love, and show himself to be a poor selfish creature, and unworthy of notice ?"
Here, the words “such a medium,” refer to the atonement, as must be evident from the context. What, then, saith this sentence? Was any rational being so hardy as to acknowledge a willingness to be saved through that medium, which the Holy Scriptures declare to be the only medium of salvation that God hath appointed, viz. the coming, sufferings, and death of the Son of God, as a sacrifice for sin ; would it not prove that rational being to be standing in direct opposition to every prin ciple of justice and honesty, of mercy and love, and show him to be a poor selfish creature, and unworthy of notice ?
Now, if man would thus debase and degrade himself by accepting, or by merely acknowledging a willingness to be saved through the offered medium ; what must HE be who could ordain and appoint that medium? We tremble when we reflect upon the inferences which result from the reasoning contained in this letter. Does it not make the pure and infi- *
nite Jehovah, the Judge of the spirits of all flesh, to be standing in direct opposition to every principle of justice and honesty, of mercy and love, and to be a poor selfish creature, and unworthy of notice!!
Let the reader contrast the sentiments avowed in this letter, with the views and feelings of a truly awakened and penitent sinner.
Humbled in the dust under an agonizing sense of the amazing weight of his sins, and the just punishment which they merit; conscious of his utter inability to extricate himself from the dreadful situation into which his iniquities have plunged him; the repenting sinner casts about him a look of anxious inquiry, and exclaims in the anguish of remorse, “ Oh wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death ?”
Conscious of his utter unworthiness and nothingness in the Divine sight, he “ dares not so much as lift his eyes to heaven," but “smiting upon his breast," cries out “God be merciful to me a sinner." Fully aware that his multiplied crimes have brought upon him all the penalties of the violated law, and that the just sentence of everlasting condemnation is upon him, he can most truly and sincerely adopt the language, “ A Saviour or I die, a Redeemer or I perish for ever.”
Would such a man talk of not accepting the forgiveness of his sins, on the terms of the propitiation of Jesus Christ? Would he consider the doctrine of the atonement as wicked and absurd; as an outrage against every righteous law of God and man? Would he go forward and offer himself wholly up to suffer all the pangs and woes and torments which he feels to be due to his crimes, rather than be saved through that medium which the Bible declares, God has offered him?
Far, very far from this. With what humble, reverent grati. tude and joy would such a suppliant sinner listen to the glad. dening assurances of the gospel, “ That when we were yet without strength, in due time, Christ died for the ungodly”-that God commendeth his love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us; “ that being justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him ;" “ 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.”
How fully, how emphatically, would these gracious declarations, prove “ glad tidings of great joy," to such a sinner as we have described, and how different would every feeling and sentiment of his soul be, from the language of this letter. The author of this letter appears to deny the divinity and Godhead of Jesus Christ, and to consider him a mere man. He rejects the Christian doctrine of the atonement in the most decided and positive language. His scheme cuts us off from all hope of mercy through this means, and makes man the Redeemer of himself.
Well may we adopt the language of an inspired writer “ Can a man de profitable unto God, as he that is wise may be profitable unto himself? Is it any pleasure to the Almighty that thou art righteous, or is it any gain to him that thou makest thy ways perfect? What hast thou that thou' didst not receive ? Now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory as if thou hadst not received it ?”
Instead of claiming the forgiveness of sins and the blessedness of heaven on the ground of personal worthiness, it would "be acting more in character, for a sinful wretch to cry out, “ Behold I am vile, what shall I answer thee? I will lay my hand upon my mouth-Once have I spoken, but I will not answer, yea twice, but I will proceed no further. Enter not into judgment with thy servant, Oh! Lord, for in thy sight shall no man living be justified.”
The author of the document which we have been examining, commences his observations with saying, that “all truth is siinple when we free ourselves from the improper bias of tradition and education;" and concludes them, by recommending us to “ shake off all traditional views imbibed from external evidences," a term which he frequently uses to designate the Holy Scriptures.
It appears from these expressions, as well as from the general tenor of the letter, that it is a necessary preliminary to becoming converts to Elias Hicks' doctrine, that we should divest our minds of all regard to, or belief in, those plain and positive truths which we have been taught to revere from our childhood; which holy men of all ages and of different countries, since the Christian era, have held most sacred
Truths, which the Scriptures assert in the most solemn and impressive manner, and in support of which, thousands of pious Christians have suffered martyrdom. And truly we think, that before any person of sane mind, could adopt the sentiments which this letter contains, he must shake off, not only “ all traditional views,” but also a due reverence for sacred things, as well as all common sense and consistency, and totally discard his belief in the sacred volume.
END OF THE REVIEW.
The following quotation from the writings of George Fox, will shew the views of the Society of Friends relative to the doctrines of the Divinity and propitiation of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, from which it will be seen that the notions of Elias Hicks on these points are entirely at variance with them.
In a declaration of faith on behalf of the Society he says ;
“Whereas, many scandalous lies and slanders have been cast upon us, to render us odious; as that we deny God, Christ Jesus, and the Scriptures of Truth, &c. This is to inform you, that all our books and declarations, which for these many years have been published to the world, clearly testify the contrary. Yet for your satisfaction, we now plainly and sincerely declare
“ That we own and believe in the only, wise, omnipotent, and everlasting God, the Creator of all things in heaven and earth, and the Preserver of all that he hath made; who is God over all blessed for
ever, to whom be all honour, glory, dominion, praise, and thanksgiving, both now and for evermore!
“ And we own and believe in Jesus Christ, his beloved and only begotten Son, in whom he is well pleased, who was conceived by the Holy Ghost and born of the Virgin Mary; in whom we have redemption, through his blood, 'even the forgiveness of sins ; who is the express image of the invisible God, the First Born of every Creature ; by whom were all things created that are in Heaven and in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, dominions, principalities, or powers, all things were created by Him.
“ And we own and believe, that he was made a sacrifice for sin who knew no sin ; neither was guile found in his mouth; that he was crucified for us, in the flesh, without the gates of Jerusalem ; and that he was buried and rose again the third day, by the power of his Father, for our justification, and that he ascended up into Heaven, and now sitteth at the right hand of God.
“ This Jesus, who was the foundation of the holy prophets and apostles, is our foundation ; and we believe there is no other foundation to be laid, but that which is laid, even Christ
Jesus, who tasted death for every man, shed his blood for all men; is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world : according as John the Baptist testified of him, when he said, · Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sins of the world.' John i. 29.
• We believe that He alone is our Redeemer and Saviour, the Captain of our salvation, who saves us from sin, as well as from hell and the wrath to come, and destroys the devil and his works; He is the seed of the woman, that bruises the ser. pent's head, viz. Christ Jesus, the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last. He is, as the Scriptures of truth say of him, our wisdom, righteousness, justification and redemption ; nei. ther is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven, given among men, whereby we may be saved. He alone is the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls : He is our Prophet whom Moses long since testified of, saying, “A Prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you, of your brethren like unto me; Him shall ye bear in all things, whatsoever He shall say unto you : and it shall come to pass that every soul that will not hear that Prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people. Acts ii. 22, 23.
“ He is now come in Spirit, and hath given us an understanding that we know him that is true.' He rules in our hearts by his law of love and life, and makes us free from the law of sin and death. We have no life but by him, for He is the quickening Spirit, the second Adam, the Lord from heaven, by whose blood we are cleansed and our consciences sprinkled from dead works to serve the living God. He is our Mediator, who makes peace and reconciliation between God offended, and us offending ; he being the Oath of God, the new covenant of light, life, grace and peace, the author and finisher of our faith. This Lord Jesus Christ, the heavenly Man, the Immanuel, God with us, we all own and believe in; He whom the high priest raged against, and said he had spoken blasphemy; whom the priests and elders of the Jews took counsel together against, and put to death; the same whom Judas betrayed for thirty pieces of silver, which the priests gave him, as a reward for his treason ; who also gave large money to the soldiers, to broach a horrible lie, namely, that his disciples came and stole him away by night whilst they slept. After he was risen from the dead, the history of the Acts of the Apostles sets forth, how the chief priests and elders persecuted the disciples of this Jesus, for preaching Christ and his resurrection. This, we say, is that Lord Jesus Christ whom we own to be our life and salvation.” P. 145, 146, Journal, vol. ii.-1673.