A Beacon to the Society of Friends/Sermon IX
Disguised spiritual pride.
Every one under the Christian name, and who is professing to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, must stand alone from all the kingdoms of the world, as his kingdom is not of this world, otherwise they cannot be his disciples or subjects.—Our profession is above that of all the professors of Christianity.—Because we presume to say, that we are led and guided by the unerring Spirit of God, and this Spirit will lead into the Gospel of Jesus Christ, into the true nature of it.—I apprehend the prophecy, or declaration of Balaam, will apply in a particular manner, as much to us, as to Israel.—'The people shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations.' p. 215.—And as we each in our several allotments, turn inward to this teacher; we who make this high profession,—we should be as a city set on a hill, standing alone, we should not amalgamate with those in the kingdoms of this world. And by attending to this precious leader, likewise, instead of their leading us off from the right way to them, they would come over to us, who standing like a city on a hill, would not be easily hid; and seeing our good works, they would be running to the standard which is set up for the nations. Oh! let us be persuaded then to centre home to the gift of God in our own hearts.—My heart seems filled with thankfulness and gratitude to the author of all mercies, who has been pleased to be near us, and to bring us under such a solemn tender calm." pp. 223, 224.
There are perhaps few circumstances, under which spiritual pride works more insidiously, than in a persuasion, that the favour of God is especially to the religious body to which we belong. But where is the warrant in the New Testament for any sect of Christians, to assume that the favour of God is peculiarly towards them? The promises of God under the Gospel, are many and precious; they are not however to sects, but to believers individually under whatever name. How severely do the Scriptures reprehend such arrogant pretensions!
"I have spread out my hands all the day unto a rebellious people, which walketh in a way not good, after their own thoughts;—which say, Stand by thyself, come not near to me; for I am holier than thou. These are a smoke in my nose, a fire that burneth all the day." Isa. lxv. 2, 5.
"Thus saith the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel, Amend your ways and your doings.—Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, are these." Jere. vii. 3, 4.
"Woe unto you Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in
yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in." Matt. xxiii. 13.
"Woe unto you Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and annise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith." Matt. xxiii. 23.
"Woe unto you Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness.—Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?" Matt. xxiii. 27, 33.
"He spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and
|despised others."—See the parable of the Pharisee and||the Publican.—Luke, xviii. 9-14.|
What a solemn warning does the last sentence of the foregoing extract convey to us; not to lay any stress upon our religious feelings, unless they be governed by the faith of the Gospel; for we see how the calm of an infidel, may be brought to react on his mind, and tend to confirm him in his fatal errors.
"Oh then that there may be a recurring to first principles! I have, I trust, been led to see these things, in that light that does not deceive me, and will not deceive any one living.—Hence I say, that it is perfectly inconsistent with our profession to take the least part or lot in the governments of the world, so as to be numbered with the nations among whom we live." p. 217.
To the words of the Yearly Meeting of Philadelphia, which in the "Declaration" set forth the danger of the first steps in this insidious course, we cannot but often recur, whilst contemplating this awful delusion, which under the persuasion of following the light within, and professing a recurrence to first principles, goes even to the denying of the Lord who bought us.
To the sincere desire, that there may be a recurring to first principles, every true Christian must respond; but how dangerous is it to suppose, that they are any where to be found except in the "oracles of God."
To those who hold such sentiments, as are set forth in these extracts, how appropriate is the reproof of the Apostle!
"Ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of
|the oracles of god." Heb. v. 12.|
Of how much importance is it then, that we should make ourselves well acquainted with first principles, by a diligent study of Holy Scripture, accompanied with prayer for the enlightening of the Holy Spirit; and that none should delude themselves, by supposing they can become acquainted with the first principles of Christianity, but from the revelation of the Spirit in the Holy Scriptures. The errors which result from a mere superficial knowledge of these sacred records are indeed fearful.
Observe the high pretensions of mysticism to infallibility.—Does popery itself go beyond this?
Some tests for self examination.
"Examine yourselves whether ye be in the faith; prove yourselves: know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates? Now let your attention be turned outward from the expression of these words, for very probably the translators have not given it right to us. Because the outward Christ never could be, or can be, in us. No doubt it was meant that the light or spirit of life in the soul, is in every one of us, which is the anointing of the Lord." p. 222.
"The light or spirit of life in the soul, is in every one of us," &c.—How is the pretension of an infidel, to the light and spirit of life in his soul, which he says does not deceive him, to be disproved, but by bringing his doctrines to the test of Scripture?
By the following tests, among others, a man may prove whether he be in the faith.
"Many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist." 2 John. 7.
"Who is a liar, but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father." 1 Jno. ii. 22, 23.
"Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son." 2 Jno. 9.
"Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of Man also confess before the Angels of
God: but he that denieth me before men shall be denied before the Angels of God." Luke, xii. 8, 9.
"Hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him." 1 Jno. ii. 3-?5.
"And this is his commandment, that we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment." 1 Jno. iii. 23.