A Beacon to the Society of Friends/Sermon I
FROM SERMONS OF ELIAS HICKS.
Attempt to supersede the Gospel.
"When we speak to the natives [Indians] of our country, we have reason to suppose that they have a higher sense of this divine light of God in the soul, than the professors of Christianity generally have. They appeal to it in all cases respecting the soul. They appeal to it abundantly, as I have witnessed among those with whom I have had converse; especially those who have never had intercourse with any, except their own nation.—The religion of Christ and the Gospel is one in all the nations of the earth. And I have no doubt, that there are those in every nation of the earth, who have the religion of Jesus,—the religion of truth and righteousness,—and that they are saved by it, and by nothing else." p. 6.
By this insidious doctrine, both the preaching of the Gospel, according to the command of our Lord to his Apostles, "Go ye into all the world, preach the Gospel to every creature," &c., and also the teaching of the Holy Spirit by the Scriptures, are rendered useless. The foundation of the Christian's hope consists in believing, that God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, who offered up himself a ransom for us, whereby we have an unfailing assurance of the love of God. And truly believing this, our hearts, by the power of the Spirit, are melted with love to him, and in that love really desire to do his will. But this truth, that God so loved the world, is no where declared to us, but by the revelation of the Spirit in the Holy Scriptures. And so vast is the difference between Christianity, and any knowledge of God as possessed by the Heathen, that the attempt to prove the similarity ought to be accounted a delusion.
Atonement and Reconciliation.
"Some will set up a particular system, and tell much about old things, the prophets under the law, and about Jesus Christ in that outward body, asserting that his death made atonement for our sins.—What astonishing ignorance it must be, to suppose that material blood, made of the dust of the earth, can be considered a satisfactory offering for a spiritual being, that is all spirit, and no flesh! I say what astonishing ignorance!" p. 15, 17.
Atonement for sin, and reconciliation to God, through the death of his Son our Lord Jesus Christ, is the cardinal doctrine of Christianity; it runs through the whole of the sacred volume. It was intimated immediately after the fall of our first parents: it was prefigured by types under the Patriarchial, and more fully under the Mosaic dispensation; and it was the "theme of prophecy," until "the fulness of the time was come, when God sent forth his Son, made of a woman" into this lower world. It has, with different degrees of light, been the object of the saints' faith in every age; and it is the only ground of hope to man, whether saint or sinner. And therefore the denial, or disregard of the doctrine of the Atonement, constitutes a man an enemy of the cross of Christ.
What saith the Scripture?
The testimony of the Spirit by Prophets and Apostles.
"After threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself." Dan. ix. 26.
"He shall bear their iniquities." Isa. liii. 11.
"Who his own self bare
|our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed." 1 Pet. ii. 24.
Observe, it was through the grace, and by the appointment of the Father.
"It pleased Jehovah to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of Jehovah shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities." Isa. liii. 10, 11.
"It pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; and (having made peace through the blood of his cross,) by him to reconcile all things unto himself.—And you, that were sometime alienated, and enemies in your mind, by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy, and unblamable, and unreprovable, in his sight." Col. i. 19-22
|"He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all." Isa. liii. 5, 6.
"Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins." 1 John, iv. 10.
"Who was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification." Rom. iv. 25.
"He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all." Rom. viii. 32.
"He hath made him to be sin [a sin offering] for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." 2 Cor. v. 21.
"We see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he, by the grace of God, should taste death for every man." Heb. ii. 9.
"God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now 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. And not only so, but we also joy in God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement." Rom. v. 8—11.
"Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things,—but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish, and without spot: who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God." 1 Pet. i. 18—21.
"He hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sin." Eph. i. 6, 7.
It was also through the ineffable grace of the Son, our adorable Redeemer.
His own Testimony.
"The Son of man came not to be ministered unto but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many." Matt. xx. 28.
"Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father." John. x. 17, 18.
"As Moses lifted up
|the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up: that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John, iii. 14—16.
"This is my blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many, for the remission of sins." Matt. xxvi. 28.
The Testimony of the Spirit again, through Apostles and Prophets.
"Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God, for a sweet smelling savour." Eph. v. 2.
"The Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." Gal. ii. 20.
"Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity." Tit. ii. 14.
|"Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father." Gal. i. 4.
"That he might reconcile both [Jews and Gentiles] unto God, in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby." Eph. ii. 16.
"He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter." Isa. liii. 7.
"Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." John, i. 29.
"In the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain." Rev. v. 6.
"Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures." 1 Cor. xv. 3.
"Christ died for the ungodly." Rom. v. 6.
"Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God." 1 Pet. iii. 18.
"How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the Eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works, to serve the living God?" Heb. ix. 14.
"Now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.
|And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many." Heb. ix. 26-28.
"By his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us." Heb. ix. 12.
"Having therefore, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh." Heb. x. 19, 20.
"But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off, are made nigh by the blood of Christ." Eph. ii. 13.
"And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof; for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood." Rev. v. 9.
"Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood." Rev. i 5.
It is obvious that the words or phrases, flesh, blood, death, died, laid down life, delivered up, lifted up, gave himself, offered himself, are but different modes of expressing the same thing. This variety, however, irrefragably proves that atonement for sin and reconciliation to God, is through the death of his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.
See also under Ser. III. Extr. 2;—Ser. IV. Extr. 2.
On counting the Blood of the Covenant unholy.
"Instead of being spiritually minded, they are resting in a carnal mind; they are looking to outward blood, as having a tendency to cleanse the soul, when it is no more related to the soul than the dust of the earth; it has no part with it, nor can it take from, or add any part to it. It never gave it any life, nurture, or succour, whatever." p. 10.
What is the Testimony of the Spirit?
"If we sin wilfully, after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses' law died without mercy, under two or three witnesses: of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of
|God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of Grace? For we know him that hath said, 'Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord.' and again, 'The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.'" Heb. x. 26-31.
Perverting the Scripture.—Setting Scripture in its right place.
"There is no other way for them to act, without they would be willing to turn to the light, and gather into it. But for want of this the Scriptures are a sealed Book. And instead of being useful, it becomes a curse to them, while they are determined to put their own construction upon them, it keeps them in darkness. And there are those who assert that I disbelieve the Scriptures, and that I undervalue them! But there is not a greater falsehood expressed among mankind! And I will assure you, my friends, that what I say is truth; I have loved the Scriptures from my youth, and I have delighted in reading them. And I presume, according to my knowledge, no man has received more advantage than I have, and continue to have, from reading them. And I am at this time convinced, that wherever I have been called to be a mouth for the Lord, in the line of the Gospel ministry, I need not make this apology or declaration. No individual ever brought forth more Scripture to prove their doctrines than I have, when under the influence of divine love and truth, that gave forth the Scriptures. Divine Wisdom knowing the state of the people, that they would hardly receive my doctrines unless confirmed by Scripture testimony, here immediately, without the necessity of seeking for it, a passage would rise up in consonance with my assertion or declaration. And I appeal to the people, where my lot has been cast, if it has not been the case. Then what infatuation, to say that I undervalue the Scriptures of truth. No, my friends, I do not undervalue the Scriptures, but I feel it a duty to set them in the right place, and I dare not set them above it" p. 19.
- Some persons go to the Scriptures, not for the purpose of being taught by Scripture, but for the purpose of building up their own theories. "A desire to have Scripture on our side," says an eminent writer, "is one thing, and a sincere desire to be on the side of Scripture is another." With what force does the warning against the danger of putting our own construction upon Scripture, attach to those who thus awfully pervert the divine Word; and instead of interpreting Scripture by Scripture, and accepting what is given by inspiration of God in its most obvious sense, distort and becloud it with mysticism!
- Who is the man that admits that he undervalues the Scriptures? The veriest infidel thinks he sets them in their right place. The foregoing extract is a sufficient proof, that a declaration of high esteem for the Scriptures, is entitled to little regard, when it comes from those who account what our Lord Jesus Christ has spoken, and what the Holy Spirit has revealed to prophets and apostles, and has given for our instruction, inferior as a rule, to those impressions on their own minds, which they believe to be from the Holy Spirit.