A Beacon to the Society of Friends/Sermon VI



Creaturely exertions. Stillness. Waiting.

"Not all the external means, and all external instruction, could give them [the disciples] an understanding of the way of it. This [the new birth] cannot be understood till the mind becomes quieted and settled, and divested of all its roving and running, all its creaturely exertions, all its willing and doing, and comes into that state that Jesus commended his disciples to come into. The soul must become willing to wait as he told them.' 'He told them that they must be still and submissive; that they must be nothing; that they must experience a time, when, in self abasement, they would be settled and confirmed in the belief, that they could do nothing at all, but merely to wait for that power by which, said he, I have done those miracles you have seen me do." p. 137.

"Creaturely exertions," creaturely activity, are not Scripture phrases; and the mischief is very great, that has been produced by using unscriptural terms, in speaking and writing on religious subjects, when the meaning of those terms is not clear and definite. Such phrases also as sinking down—centering down—digging deep—dwelling deep—turning inward, &c., the reader may have observed, but we hardly need say, they are not the language of Christ and his Apostles. The Apostle Peter exhorted Simon the sorcerer, even when he was in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity, to repent and pray, if perhaps the thought of his heart might be forgiven him; but did he caution him in doing this, to be much on his guard against creaturely exertion?

"He told them that they must be still."—Upon what occasion did the Lord Jesus tell his disciples, "that they must be still?" He often told them to believe, and to pray; but we recollect no one instance, in which he recommended the mystical quiet, which in these extracts is represented as of vital importance.

See under Ser. II. Ex. 7; Ser. V. Ex. 2; Ser. VII. Ex. 1 and 2; Ser. x. Ex. 1.

"They could do nothing but merely to wait."—It is a great fallacy to represent, that, unaided by the Holy Spirit, we have the ability, even to wait upon God, in the sense in which David uses the expression, "My soul, wait thou only upon God, for my expectation is from him."


The authority of the Apostles. Spirit given to every rational creature.

"Oh! that we might look to ourselves, and examine ourselves rightly, under the influence of the Holy Spirit. For I hope we all believe the Apostle's testimony—not by any means because he has said it, but because we feel an evidence of it in ourselves. For there is a portion of the Spirit given to every rational creature under heaven, to profit withal, and it will do the work for us if we will only unite with it." p. 142.

"Not by any means because he has said it."—Is not the testimony of the Apostles really the testimony of the Holy Spirit? Where will the errors of that man end, who thinks that we are not required to believe, on the authority of the Apostles? Surely no Christian can entertain such a sentiment. Let us consider the fullness of the divine testimony, with regard to the commission and authority of the Apostles.

1st,—The Testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ.

"Jesus spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you." Matt. xxviii. 18-20.

"As my Father hath sent me, even so, send I you." Jno. xx. 21.

"All things that I have heard of my Father, I have made known unto you, [the Apostles.] Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain." Jno. xv. 15, 16.

"Ye are the light of the world." Matt. v. 14.

"I have manifested thy

name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word. Now they have known that all things, whatsoever thou hast given me, are of thee: For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou dldst send me. I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them.—I have given them thy word.—Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth. As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I sent them

into the World." Jno. xvii. 6–10, 14, 17, 18.

"I have yet many things to say unto you, [the Apostles] but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit, when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you unto all truth: he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear; that shall he speak; and he will show you things to come. He shall glorify me; for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine and show it unto you." Jno. xvi. 12-15.


"Verily I say unto you, whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." Matt. xviii. 18.

"I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." Matt. xvi. 19.

"Whose soever sins ye remit; they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained unto them." Jno. xx. 23.


"When the Son of Man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." Matt. xix. 28.

"Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations; and I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; that ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." Luke, xxii. 28-30.


"And he said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day; and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, and ye are witnesses of these things." Luke, xxiv. 46, 47.

"Ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been

with me from the beginning." Jno. xv. 27.

"Ye shall be witnesses

unto me—unto the uttermost part of the earth." Acts, i. 8.

Can we conceive a more plenary commission? What man was ever put on the same footing?

2nd,—The two-fold testimony of the Spirit to their commission and authority. 1st,—Through the Apostles themselves, they speaking as inspired men; and 2nd,—Through the revelation of the Spirit to us by the Holy Scriptures.

"We are witnesses of all things which he did; him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly; not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead. And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the judge of quick and dead." Acts, x. 39, 40-42.

"This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses." Acts. ii. 32.

"Ye killed the Prince of Life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses." Acts, iii. 15.

"God raised him from the dead: and he was seen many days of themwho are his witnesses unto the people." Acts, xiii. 30, 31.

"With great power gave the Apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus." Acts, iv. 33.


"The Lord said,—he [Paul] is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel." Acts, ix. 15.

"The Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul; for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome." Acts, xxiii. 11.

"I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles." Acts, xxii. 21.

"I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness, both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; delivering thee from the people and from the

Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me." Acts, xxvi. 16-18.


"By revelation he made known unto me the mystery,—which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto the holy Apostles and Prophets by the Spirit." Eph. iii. 3, 5.[1]

"Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath entered into the heart of man, the good things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us [the Apostles] by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.—Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things which are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not

in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.—We have the mind of Christ." 1 Cor. ii. 9, 10, 12, 13, 16.

"[God] hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation.—Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us; we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God." 2 Cor. v. 18, 20.


"Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an Apostle, separated unto the Gospel of God.—By whom [Jesus Christ] we have received grace and apostleship." Rom. i. 1, 5.

"I am ordained a preacher and an Apostle." 1 Tim. ii. 7.

"I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you." 1 Cor. xi. 23.

"If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord." 1 Cor. xiv. 37.


“Ye are built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone.” Eph. ii. 20.

“As a wise master builder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon.” 1 Cor. iii. 10.


“Though we, or an Angel from heaven, preach any other Gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other Gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” Gal. i. 8, 9.

This important mass of evidence, it will be remembered, is wholly independent of the miracles which were wrought by the Apostles, and which, of themselves are irrefragable evidence of their divine commission. In speaking of a mass of evidence, we would observe, that generally each passage is brought forward as being of itself a distinct and full proof; and we would affectionately recommend some of our younger readers in particular, to test them as they go along. We believe this would be a valuable means of fixing some of the great and precious doctrines of the Gospel more permanently in their minds.

There is a portion of the Spirit given to every rational creature under heaven.”—This assertion appears to be made on the ground of the perversion of the passage, 1 Cor. xii. 7:—“But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal,” and is a humbling proof of the propensity to wrest the Scriptures, for the sake of establishing a favourite doctrine. Was it not to the church of God at Corinth— sanctified in Christ Jesus—called saints—enriched in every thing—in all utterance and all knowledge—behind in no gift—called unto the fellowship of Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom the Apostle was writing concerning spiritual gifts; and plainly in the seventh verse, refers to the proper use of the divers gifts conferred by the Spirit. And there is no more reason why we should suppose every man in the seventh verse means all mankind, than we should conclude all mankind are meant in the eleventh verse.—"All these worketh that one and the self same Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will;" an error which none appear to fall into.

"Every candid person, on attentively reading the whole chapter, can hardly fail to be convinced, that the purpose of the Apostle was, to urge the faithful exercise of the several gifts he describes; and to show that whoever was entrusted with any particular gift, and of whatever nature it might be, as all the gifts proceeded from the same Spirit, every man was to consider his gift, not as a private possession, of something for his own benefit, but as an endowment for the benefit of the church, that all might be profited; and that the church might be edified, [built up] whether by Apostles, prophets, teachers, or workers of miracles. And that no such doctrine was here intended, as that "a portion of the Spirit is given to every rational creature:" in contradiction of the express testimony of Christ, John, xiv. 17. "Whom the world cannot receive."

How necessary is it for us to regard the object of the writer, before we fix the meaning of the words which he uses: the adjectives all and every, seem especially to require the exercise of this caution. Take, as illustration, the following passages. Many more might be given.

"The law and the prophets were until John; since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it." Luke, xvi. 16.

"He will judge the world

in righteousness, by that man whom he hath ordained, whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.—See Ser. x. Ex. 3.


Belief and unbelief.

"And when we come to this principle, this gift of grace, this light, there is no necessity for us to be careful about what we will believe, and what we wont believe; because nothing can give us a true belief but this light. It will give every one of the children of men a belief sufficient to induce them to enter on the work of salvation aright. For as this is the medium, and the only one, by which God continues with his rational creatures; there is no other way by which he gives them an evidence of what is right and what is wrong. For he has set good and evil before us all; and left it for us to choose.—"Choose you this day whom ye will serve." Here as you come to this, you need not trouble yourselves, or recommend to your friends what they must believe, that they must believe this or that;—it is all nonsense, because a man cannot believe just what he wants to believe;—he cannot believe any thing but what the divine light gives him an evidence of, and this he must believe, and he cannot resist it. Here then we discover that belief is no virtue, and unbelief no crime—because why? It is an involuntary thing to man. But when the soul is willing to be instructed by the grace of God, it will be instructed, and when it is instructed, it will have an evidence of the truth, and it cannot resist it,—it is bound and forced to believe it; not from any compulsory measure, but from the clear force of the thing, because it is self evident; and when we have self evident certainty of any thing, though we had no belief about it before, this will be a saving knowledge." p. 146.

How fully in this extract is shown the root of the false doctrines, which it is our object to expose, in contrast with Scripture, viz., the pride of the deceived heart of man, setting itself above the wisdom of God. We now see the reason for the pains that were taken to undermine the Scriptures; until this was done, it was less likely that men would be persuaded to abandon their hope of salvation through Jesus Christ, as therein revealed. But after rejecting the authority of the revelation of the Spirit in Holy Scripture, the atonement made for sin by Jesus Christ is boldly denied; and transgressors against the righteous law of an infinitely pure and holy God, are invited to risk the safety of the never dying soul on the deistical notion furnished by Satan, from the perversion of Scriptural truth, (and therefore the more subtle and dangerous) that all men in the world, believers and unbelievers, are in possession of a principle, independent of the Gospel, sufficient for them to secure the favour of God, and eternal life!

The doctrine of the New Testament is,—

"God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our [believers] hearts, to give the light of the knowledge

of the glory of God in the face of jesus christ" 2 Cor. iv. 6.

"The God of this world hath blinded the minds of

them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them." 2 Cor. iv. 4.

"He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life." 1 Jno. v. 12.

"Repent and be baptized every one of you, in the

name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." Acts, ii. 38.

"These things are written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name." Jno. xx. 31.

But with affecting consistency we are told, "we need not trouble ourselves what we must believe; or tell others they must believe this or that,—it is all nonsense:" in direct opposition to the express declaration of the Spirit of God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

"He that believeth not God hath made him a liar, because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son." 1 Jno. v. 10.

"He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." Mark, xvi. 16.

"He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already; because

he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." Jno. iii. 18.

"If any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not:—He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him; The word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day." John, xii. 47, 48.


Quietude sometimes delusive.

"Is it possible that by our own exertions, we could bring ourselves into this quiet? No! by no ability of our own could we effect it. Then have we not reason to attribute to Almighty God this quietude and stillness; which I consider a very great mercy." p. 147.

How easy is it for man to delude himself, when he does not take the Scripture for his guide! What is meant by "this quiet?" Can the "peace of God" be experienced by any but the regenerate; and can they be "renewed in the spirit of their minds," who believe not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ?

  1. Observe, not to all men, but to the holy apostles and prophets.