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aware of the errors which led to it: especially as these errors are a perversion of the truths of Christianity, and endanger the eternal salvation of man.
The great deception appears to have originated in the assumption, that we are authorised to expect to be taught the true knowledge of God and of his salvation, our duty to him, and to our fellow-men, immediately by the SPIRIT, independently of his revelation through the Scriptures, an assumption which is unsupported by Scripture, contradicted by fact, and one which renders its votaries a prey to many fatal delusions.
As a consequence of this assumption, the Hicksites denied the paramount authority of the Scriptures, even calling them A DEAD LETTER: and, whilst professing a high regard for the sacred writings, they gave many cautions against depending on them, under the pretext of a watchful care not to dishonour the Spirit.
They considered certain impressions made on
their own minds, and on the minds of each other, to be the dictates of inspiration; and not bringing these impressions to the test of Scripture, they were plainly liable to mistake the convictions of conscience, the illusions of the imagination, or even the suggestions of Satan, for the blessed influence of the Holy Spirit.
By vainly attempting to compare the Scriptures with the SPIRIT, and asserting that the Spirit is a higher rule, they depreciated the attested revelation of the Spirit, the only standard of religious truth. Yet this attempted comparison, whatever might be their view of it, was not between the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit, (for these admit of no comparison,) but in reality, the comparison between the true revelation of God by Holy Scripture, and impressions made on their own minds.
The gift of the Holy Spirit, and his influence in AWAKENING, REPROVING, ENLIGHTENING, GUIDING, TEACHING, COMFORTING, AND SANCTIFYING
the heart, is, indeed, a gracious evidence of divine
love; and the doctrine ought to be held in all the fulness in which it is set forth in Scripture. The history of fanaticism, and the following extracts, however, too fully prove, that under the profession of honouring the Spirit, a specious but false doctrine with regard to spiritual influence may be held, which is wholly subversive of Christianity.
In publishing these extracts in the hope that they may prove a beacon to friends, it is important to draw their attention to the pernicious theory before alluded to, viz. that the revelation of the Spirit through the Scriptures is only a secondary rulethat the Spirit himself is a higher rule.
Now the Holy Spirit cannot, in any proper sense, be denominated a RULE. Thus to have designated Him, has evidently arisen from misapprehension of terms, and has led to confusion of ideas; for whilst we reverently and thankfully acknowledge the Holy Spirit to be the great agent in the believer, through whom his sanctification is effected, it is plain that the RULE must be that which proceeds from
the Spirit, and not the Holy Spirit himself. To speak of the Holy Spirit as a rule, involves the same incongruity as to speak of God as a rule.
Assuming then (what is admitted by all,) that the Scriptures of the New Testament are of as high authority as the Scriptures of the Old,* it is clear to demonstration, that there CAN BE NO HIGHER RULE than the Scriptures.
There can be no higher rule, than that which is given by inspiration of God.
"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God." 2 Tim. iii. 16.
Therefore there can be no higher rule than the Holy Scriptures.
"In order to prevent any misapprehension as to our views, we feel ourselves called upon at this time, to avow our belief in the inspiration and divine authority of the Old and New Testament."-Yearly Meeting, London, 1829.
Moreover, if the Holy Scriptures are "the only fit outward* judge of controversies among Christians; and that whatever doctrine is contrary unto their testimony may therefore justly be rejected as false;" if all our doctrines and practices" are to "be tried by them, as the judge and test;"—and "that whatever any do, pretending to the Spirit, which is contrary to the Scriptures," is to "be accounted and reckoned a delusion of the Devil,”— (Barclay's Apology)-we submit, that THAT which is the ABSOLUTE TEST of all doctrines and practices, is, and cannot but be, the PARAMOUNT rule.
To the constant and rigorous application of this rule and test, is the reader most earnestly recommended, not only as relates to the doctrines brought into view by the following extracts from the Ser
* The meaning of the word "outward," as it stands in this place, is not very apparent it is obvious that, for the
decision of controversy, there can be none but an OUTWARD