A Sermon Delivered by ELIAS HICKS, at Pine Street Meeting in Philadelphia, December 10, 1826. With Responses to Hicks by JONATHAN EVANS and ISAAC LLOYD, and Responses to them by ELIAS HICKS and WILLET HICKS.
The Quaker, Vol. 1, No. 3 (Undated, 1827) pages 49-74.
This is The Quaker Homiletics On-Line Anthology, Section Three: The 19th Century.
In looking over this large assembly, my mind has become impressed with a sentiment, which
comprehends in it much caution and instruction. It may be (or the substance of it) recorded in the
scriptures of truth, but whether it is or not, it loses none of its excellency. It was in this language:
"Let love be without dissimulation." Now I conclude, that a degree--at least a profession of love
to religion, has been the principal inducement, of collecting so many together at this time; for
religion, or the name of it, is a very popular thing in these days, and may therefore lead those who
have not much love for it to profess it and to attend religious opportunities. .
Not that I would judge any present of being in this condition, but only to propose tile necessity of
examining ourselves, that we may know the foundation of our love. Because we will all agree~
that love is the most excellent and powerful principle in heaven or in earth---its power is above all
powers. It will indeed subject all other powers to itself; because God is love, and that love that is
of God and in God is stronger than earth.
Now a dissembling love is a hypocritical love; for under a profession of it, men and women may
cover a great deal of real hatred and ill-will towards their fellow creatures. It is therefore of
infinite importance to us, as professors of Christianity, to examine ourselves and try ourselves on
this principle. For to be Christians, we must be not only possessed of love, but it must be the
ruling principle of all our actions. We have this clearly pointed out and enforced in the example of
Jesus Christ, both in his doctrines, and life of good works.
There can be no agreement between hatred and love; and there can be nothing in love that will
ever promote discord among men. Because a Christian must be in the same life, and live with the
same blood as Christ did. And you know, my friends, what makes the life of a child of God, one
who is truly a child of God, and in the image of God. We are told that in the beginning, "God
breathed into man the breath of life and he became a living soul." And as the support of the animal
life is the blood; so it is with the soul: the breath of life which God breathed into it is the blood of
the soul, the life of the soul; and it is in this sense we are to understand it, and in no other sense.
And as animal blood is the animal life, it can reach no higher than animal life.
Here now we may all decide for ourselves under the influence of that gift which the great and all-wise Creator has dispensed to us, agreeably to abundant scripture testimony, and our own individual experience. Because I am ready to conclude that there is no man or woman so wicked, that they would not in their serious moments acknowledge that they have this gift. For otherwise, my friends and fellow professors, what would ever reprove us of sin? Do we suppose that there is any thing else in heaven or earth that would reprove us for sin, in the manner that we are reproved in ourselves? No; there is nothing else, and therefore we must be convinced that it arises from God; that it is God that reproves us; and when he thus reproves us we may try all our days to get rid of it but still confusion and distress will follow us so long as we transgress against this life 'and gift. I say~ I dare appeal to the wickedest of men, and they must acknowledge that they do know they have ib and are reproved by it.
Now here is the great business of our lives, not only to know this reprover, but to know that it is
a gift from God, a manifestation of his own pure life, that was in his son Jesus Christ. As the
apostle testifies: "In him was life, and the life was the light of men; and that was the true light
which lighteth every man that cometh into the world." Now can we hesitate a single moment in
regard to the truth of this declaration? No sensible, reflecting mind can possibly do it.
This, then, seems to be my principal concern, and has been for many years--and all that the best
teachers ever did or could do was, to gather people's minds to this gift. This was the concern of
Jesus Christ, our great pattern, in regard to the woman of Samaria, at Jacob's well. He reminded
her of the known gift of God; by which, had she acted consistently with it, she would have
discovered who he was and have asked of him; as he was the only instructor at that time to Israel.
They had refused to be spoken to immediately; they preferred to be spoken to by man: therefore
Moses, the prophets, and Jesus Christ spoke to them words communicated by the Holy Spirit.
Here we see of what account this gift is to us; that all our present and future happiness depends
on a right attention to it. It is able to give us happiness here on earth, and it will enable ns to sit in
heavenly places in Christ Jesus--that is, to feel sweet communion of spirit with God our creator,
which no external thing can do for ns. No traditional Christian can experience it--no mere,
traditional Christian, who depends on the letter and not on the spirit. For if we look back, we are
made to conclude, from history, that a traditional religion has been a persecuting religion from the
beginning of the world, ever since the fall of man to tile present day. And we see that it cannot be
otherwise, when we reflect seriously. Because, what is tradition? It is something that we learn
from men who have gone before us, or who are living with us. It is taking upon trust what others
have done or are doing, pinning our faith upon others' sleeves. And thus we make void the
commandments of God by our traditions; as Jesus told the high professors in his day, the rulers
and elders in Israel. Now we are to take care and not split on that rock. Our religion must be a
religion of experience--a religion of love, arising out of the life giving presence or our Heavenly
Father. "For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? Even
so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God."
Now do we believe this? We read the scriptures, and say that we believe them; but let us look
over our conduct individually, and see whether it comports with this belief; whether we live
consistently with this profession. For as I have observed, a profession of religion has become a
popular thing: men are led by popularity, which appears to be the ruling principle at the present
day, in almost every thing. When any thing becomes popular the multitude run to it.
Here we ought to consider the ground and cause of this deception, and from whence it arises. It
arises from the very same source that was pointed out by Jesus to the Scribes and Pharisees. They
loved the praise of their fellow creatures; they loved the praise of men more than their God. "For
all their works," he says, "they do to be seen of men." Now what an awful state! How deeply it
ought to impress our minds, under the consideration, that by nature we are so liable to fall into
this condition and state of mind. It has caused a great deal of mourning with many, not only as it
regards religion: but even in civil matters and in moral things; for it destroys outward, civil
government and moral laws. It makes them worth little or nothing, as popularity becomes the
ruling principle; for whether it be right or wrong, is not so much the concern of individuals to
investigate, as to run with the current.
I want to speak to your senses, for you must know from experience, that this is too apt to be the
case. I am not about to criminate any, or to suppose that there are not exceptions. I hope there are
many, and that there are many true hearted men and women who love God sincerely. And if they
love him sincerely and above all, they will love religion--for what is true religion? It consists
entirely in righteousness, that righteousness which is acceptable in the sight of God. It unites them
with God, as it did his blessed Son, and brings them to partake of his holy nature, and they
become one with him--as the disciples formerly, were declared to be partakers of the divine
nature. Therefore they are divine, in proportion as they are swallowed up in the divinity of their
Heavenly Father. For every child of God must have the nature of God; as nothing else can qualify
him to enjoy the happiness of God, or the happiness that he intends for his rational children. Here
now we see the necessity of coming to this blessed principle of love; for it comprehends every
thing--it comprehends all virtue, all power, all wisdom, and all knowledge that is true and real.
For if God is love, every thing that man can attribute to him as virtuous--all his gracious
attributes, center in that one point, and must be all swallowed up in divine love.
Here now we see, that if man had not turned away what blessings he would have attained. The
whole creation would have been always under subjection to the divine will, and would have been
always united as one; for God is one, and his children one in him. Here we should have gone on,
my friends, had man always been faithful; for he has dealt out to us equally in all ages of the
world. He has never made any distinction in the manifestation of his love to his rational creatures.
He has placed every son and daughter of Adam on the same ground, and in the same condition
that our first parents were in. For every child must come clean out of the hands of God: for by his
power all are created, however he may have pointed out by his wisdom, a different way for the
continuance of this creation. As it regards the first act of creation, in respect to our first parents,
he made them male and female, that they might carry on the great work of creation continually,
but always by the aid of his power and assistance: and I want our minds to be gathered back to
first principles. And what are these? Why the same principle, the same divine life which God
breathed into our first parents, He has breathed into every rational soul under heaven.
Now this life is the first principle, and has been the first principle in every step of reformation
since man's fall and disobedience to God, and every thing in which he takes the seat of God in the
heart. For when man turns away from Gad and his commandments--from his divine law written in
the mind, he breaks the covenant that God made with him in the beginning--a covenant of love
and life. For the covenant made with man in the beginning has never been altered nor changed, but
it is the same that ever it was to all the children of men. Therefore, the covenant of love and life is
the breath of life, which the Almighty breathed into man--he breathed into him power and life
sufficient to know himself and the God that made him. Here he learns his dependence on him, and
that it is his duty to obey him in all things, and never to usurp authority above his commandments.
Here now, it is only by gathering to this light that we can gain a place in his favour, and by
endeavouring that all our actions should proceed from the movings of this life in the immortal
soul--and as this comes to be our case we gain reconciliation with the Father.
Now we see that all the holy men of old have signified this to us in plain terms--"Cease to do evil, learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed"--all these are required, for till we do every thing in our power, by every means put in our hands, we shall not find support from God. "Cease to do evil; learn to do well; seek judgment (true judgment, my friends;) relieve the oppressed; plead for the widow." Then--see--not till then--"Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord." What bounty ! what encouragement, my friends! Every thing in me bows before it--"Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." There are no sins so great, in this probationary state, but he stands ready to forgive us, if we turn to him with full purpose of heart and acknowledge our transgressions. He gives us the grace of repentance and enables us so to walk as to be reconciled to him, and gain a greater establishment in himself, and in the truth, than when we first came out of his creating hands. For although man was made pure and without defilement--for He declares that all that He made "was very good"--yet man had no virtue, for he had no knowledge: we bring no true knowledge into the world with us. But God, in his infinite wisdom and goodness, saw that the only way in which man could rise and be a communicant with him, was to place him in a state of probation, and furnish him with means whereby he might go on in the warfare that this state of probation opened in his soul. For having endued his creature man with propensities both of body and mind, these propensities tempted him to turn aside from the will of his Creator. Here was immediately a warfare begun--God was on one side, and every thing good was united with him and in him. The creature--the rational creature as it was united to the animal body, was of the earth, and therefore earthy. As the apostle says--"The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man, that is, the birth of God in the soul, is spiritual." Every one that is born of God has this inward birth this second birth;--as we read: "That was not first which is spiritual but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual." And here now, this has been the experience of every rational soul under heaven; and it is the only medium whereby we can ever be united again to God. And if man had not fallen as we come into the world without knowledge and capacity to do any thing, though innocent; so we must know another birth--a birth of the immortal spirit, which is as invisible as God himself. We must come to witness a birth of the Spirit, a second birth as Jesus declared to Nicodemus, "Except a man be born again he cannot see the Kingdom of God."
So that we see, man is a twofold creature, and must experience a twofold birth. First he is born
into the world an animal composed of flesh and blood, all of the earth--all produced out of the
dust of the earth. And all flesh and blood returns to the earth again because it is mortal. It is a
thing designed in the wisdom of God to continue only for a while, as a tabernacle for the immortal
soul to go through its exercises in. And when it has finished its course, a separation takes place:
the body returns to dust--to the bosom of its mother earth, and there lies in eternal quiet--and it is
not accountable to God; for it is not in bones to think or flesh to reason. The animal body is not
accountable to God, because he has put it under the direction of the immortal soul, and given it
sovereignty over it.
Now this is the work of God, for every rational creature sees, that the body is passive to the mind,
as meal is to the leaven: for it is the mind that directs the body in all its movements. If the mind
says kill, it kills; if it says save alive, it saves alive according to its power. The animal natures, the
animal bodies of the children of men can act upon nothing but what is material, and all the bodies
on earth can never touch the soul to do it harm, any other than by the animal propensities leading
the soul to enlist in the service of the passions.
Now here, we see what excellency there is comprehended in this little sentence: "Let love be
without dissimulation." It leads to abhor the evil and to do the good. Here is the work of love,
pure undefiled love--to leave undone that which is evil, and do that which is good. Here it begins
its work--it begins to give a display to the minds of the children of men, what they are to do;
neither does it stop here. For it not only leads to abhor the evil and do tile good, but it
condescends to show in a clear and explicit manner what this good is. "Be kindly affectioned one
to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another." Here then is the drift and
tendency of love. And how it humbles the creature and brings him down, and leads him off from
every thing, that carries the least degree of exaltation in it. And it does not stop here, but it
commands to "mind not high things, but to condescend to men of low estate." What blessedness is
comprehended in this saying, provided we do not rest in the outside and the profession of it--the
mere profession of faith and belief; for faith without works is dead. It never did any thing for an
individual but to make his condemnation more severe. Finally, love lands us in this blessed
condition, that the God of peace will be with us; because, why? We have followed in the course of
his appointment; we have submitted to his holy will, manifested by his grace in our souls: and the
God of peace will be with all these. And as every positive proposition embraces a negative one of
the same value as to the truth of the thing; so here we see in a plain way, that those who have not
gone in this course of God's appointment, this peace will not be with them. This negative truth is
as clear as the positive.
O my beloved friends and fellow professors! how my soul craves that you may not only hear me
but feel me; for I trust I have this one good trait of a Christian, that I love you all sincerely, for
God's sake and for your souls' sake. And therefore I don't want to be a judge of your conduct, but
to act the part of a counselor, and encourager to every one. I feel that love which I believe is
spread over the whole human race--the love of God, who stands ready to help every one and to
give strength and ability to walk in it. I would not dare to suppose any thing contrary to this, as I
consider it would be a high offence against God.
But now after looking at the excellency of persevering in this love, it is good to look at both sides
of the question, and see what any religion can do, which is not founded in this pure and undefiled
love. If our religion is a traditional one what is it worth? Jesus has told us--the lip of truth has told
us, and I believe it sincerely. When speaking to the high professors in that day, the Scribes and
Pharisees, he told them in plain and explicit language that they made void the commandments of
God by their traditions. Don't you believe it, my friends? If you believe the scriptures you must
believe it, and feel and know the effects of this kind of tradition. For the Israelites had a plain,
simple law of commandments given them by God Almighty; and it was written by his finger upon
tables of stone. And these were broken, through the conduct or in consequence of the conduct of
the Israelites. For when Moses was a little while separated from them, they went back to their
idolatry. which was the condition they were in their fallen state. But this law was regained and
written again; and he added thereto statutes and judgments to Israel. But all was plain; and he
speaks to them all as to one individual; for this dispensation was a figure, type, or shadow of
better things, to all those who should come to a knowledge of it.
Now you will acknowledge, I trust, that the Israelites did very illy in not filling up consistently
their law, as every Israelite had the means given him, and he had power to live up to it. And we
see how unwise they were at the same time, that they did not live up to it, for their outward
interest depended on it; and it brought misery and distress upon the people when they deviated
from it: because it was so plain that when they turned aside they were confounded. They had a
portion of the divine light in them, sufficient to answer the purpose of the dispensation and to
teach them their duty to God. But here they were not contented; they wanted to do something
themselves. Their temptation was to have their eyes opened to see right and wrong without God's
commandments, and to decide contrary to the law and covenant that thus opened things so clearly
to the people. And as they departed from the law that God had given them, it was natural for
them to fall into traditions, and these became so powerful that they superseded the law, and thus
they made void the law of God.
Now do you not suppose, that the same causes will always produce the same effects? To be sure
we are not called on to come into that dispensation--we are not to go back to the things there
commanded; for one greater than Moses is come, and has introduced a new covenant, or rather
has called the people back to the first dispensation and covenant which God made with his
creature man in the beginning, and which is written upon the tables of the heart by the finger of
God, and not upon tables of stone, but upon the very tablets of our souls. Here is a law more
comprehensive than the law of Moses, and it is clear to every individual of us, as the law was to
the Israelites. For I dare not suppose that the Almighty would by any means make it a doubtful or
mysterious one. It would not become God at all to suppose this the case--it would be casting a
deep reflection upon his goodness, and wisdom. Therefore I conceive that the law written in the
heart, if we attend to it and do not turn from it to build up traditions, or depend on any thing that
arises from self, or that is in our own power, but come to be regulated by this law, we shall see
that it is the easiest thing to be understood that can be, and that all our benefits depend on our
complying with this law.
Here now we see what tradition is. It is a departure from this law: and it has the same effect now
that tradition had upon the followers of the outward law; as a belief in tradition was produced
they were bound by it and trusted in it. And so people, now-a-days, seem to be compelled to
believe in tradition, and thus they: turn away from the gospel dispensation, or otherwise the light
and life of God's Spirit in the soul, which is the law of the new covenant; for the law is light and
the commandment a lamp to show us the way to life.
Be serious, my dear friends, it is an awful thing; and I believe that the hovering wing of divine
kindness is near, and that it has brought upon us this quiet state that we may learn of him.
Here we see that we could have no possible tradition--no such thing. Because as the law was clear
to every Israelite. They had no need of tradition; and so with us now, we have the inward law
written in our hearts, agreeable to the prediction of Jeremiah. "I will make a new covenant with
them." Now this could only have been with Israel, because he had never given such a covenant to
any except the Israelites, and all others were reckoned under the law of the first covenant, the
covenant of love and life. For when God breathed into them his presence his own power; and
made the soul alive, he put it in a capacity to hear God, to look inwardly and commune with him
inwardly and spiritually, while they kept free from transgression.
He told them he would make a new covenant with the house of Israel. "Behold, the days come,
saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of
Judah: not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by
the hand, to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake. But this shall be
the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel: After those days; saith the Lord; I will put
my law in their inward parts and write it in their hearts; and I will be their God; and they shall be
my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother
saying, know the Lord; for they shall all know me from the least of them unto the greatest of
See my friends, do you believe these truths? If you doubt you don't believe the scriptures; after all
your profession of them; you don't believe them. For by our works we must be tried; and not by a
profession founded on belief or faith; nor by faith only; for belief never saved the soul, except
when it has become an operative belief--till the soul is led to condescend to those things that are
pointed out to it by the light, and to work by it and with it whereby the soul is brought from under
the power and dominion of sin; and is washed clean in the blood of the lamb.
And what is the blood of the lamb? It was his life, my friends; for as outward, material blood was
made use of to express the animal life, inspired men used it as a simile. Outward blood is the life
of the animal, but it has nothing to do with the soul; for the soul has no animal blood, no material
blood. The life of God in the soul is the blood of the soul, and the life of God is the blood of God;
and so it was the life and blood of Jesus Christ his son. For he was born of the spirit of his
heavenly Father, and swallowed up fully and completely in his divine nature, so that he was
completely divine. It was this that operated; in that twofold state; and governed the whole animal
man which was the son of Abraham and David--a tabernacle for his blessed soul. Here now we
see; that flesh and blood are not capable of being in reality divine; for are they not altogether
under the direction and guidance of the soul? Thus the animal body of Jesus did nothing but what
the divine power in the soul told it to do. Here he was swallowed up in the divinity of his Father
while here on earth and it was this that was the active thing, the active principle that governed the
animate earth. For it corresponds, and cannot do otherwise. with Almighty goodness, that the soul
should have power to command the animal body to do good or evil; because he has placed us in
this probationary state; and in his wisdom has set evil and good before us, light and darkness. He
has made us free agents; and given us opportunity to make our own election.
Here now we shall see what is meant by election; the election of God. We see that those who
choose the Lord for their portion and the God of Jacob for the lot of their inheritance; these are
the elect. And nothing ever did or can elect a soul to God; but in this choice. Here we see this in
the whole scope of the scriptures: although they are not sufficient to empower us to see things
clearly. Yet the scriptures, go to certify us of this truth. And when we come to see in the true light
we shall find there is not power in the letter to give us strength; and if we ever have a sufficiency
there is but one power that can give it to us. What do the scriptures say? Don't they say that we
must go to the spirit; this divine law written upon the tables of our hearts; the light and life of
God, in our souls?
Oh! my friends; that we were more spiritually minded! The consequence would be; that we should
all be united in brotherly love; and understand the truth of that declaration: "Let love be without
dissimulation." Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to
another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another., But by going on in a contrary
course--when our religion is traditional we love to be highest~ and lords over God's heritage. This
is the result of traditional religion. And we may conclude from the annals of the world than in
every tongue, kindred, and people, where there has been a profession of religion, and where
priests have taken the rule, and made traditions popular, and rested in them, it has always
eventuated in persecution to the greatest extent that the power of man could exert to kill and
destroy: by every cruel way which could be invented.
But in this latter age of the world, what advantages and privileges we have! If we improve them
as we ought and reflect on these things, we shall see the insufficiency of every thing external and
mortal, and that no external evidence whatever, not even all the outward miracles wrought by all
the servants of God in former ages, ever will cleanse the soul from sin. The principal thing that
they could do, was to bring in and open upon the minds of the Israelites a consideration of the
First Cause. But we see that they did not give any knowledge of the supreme power and great
First Cause; but through the interference of outward miracles, which appeared to be beyond all
the power of man, they were led to consider that there was an invisible God, whose power was
above all external means and powers.
And this is the way we must come to know God. We must know him in a rational sense~ as that
power that fills the immensity of space, that is every where present that cannot alter, that cannot
be lessened, and who cannot be exalted above or made greater than what he is. For by and
through his wisdom: power, and goodness he created the worlds which we behold, and likely ten
thousand more which we cannot behold with our external eyes. This we must suppose, from the
true sense which we have of him, and from scripture testimony, that, he fills all things and is every
where present-that he emits of his goodness and gives a display of it to his rational creature man,
whereby he visits his soul and causes him to partake of his divine nature. But he loses nothing--he
is eternally the same, unaltered, self living, and self preserving principle. And he has given us an
outward display of it. And how wonderful it is, when we are led to see the works of creation, to
look at the outward sun, how it is constantly emitting its rays on the outward creation: it emits of
its power, warmth, and goodness, and yet it never lessens; it never loses any of its essence; it still
remains the same as it ever was. See what an index it is to lead us to adore the great Jehovah, the
God who made the sun and all the worlds and who is ever emitting of His goodness, for we feel
that in us, that the outward sun could not do for us. It opens a light in our souls, that the light of
the outward sun has nothing to do with. It only enlightens our outward eyes; but the sun of
heaven enlightens the souls of the children of men, and gives them to see spiritual things as clearly
as the outward sun does corporeal things. Here how we ought to adore the Almighty wisdom,
power, and goodness, to the children of men, in opening so many ways whereby they might
improve, if they would keep under a state of subordination to the Creator.
Now this leads us to this point, that the will of man being separated from the will of God is the
cause of all the sin, misery, oppression, and every thing that is bad in the world. This is the whole
cause of it; because the will of man never can work the righteousness of God.
And yet how men like to have their own will in opposition to that of God their Creator. They will
set up governments by the dint of the sword, and agreeable to their own wills--they want to have
dominion over their fellow creatures--they want to be glorious in earthly things. They want to get
possession of miles of earth and set up kingdoms and states in their own will. Here we learn that
tile wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. And not only so in moral and corporeal things,
which we have a sense of, and a control over, in a certain degree as animal creatures. But when
we come to a knowledge of things in religion, we see what presumption this is, and how we cast
the Almighty Sovereign of all things out of the heart~ and take his seat in the soul, take his throne
from him, and arc therefore exalted above all that is called God in us; as Paul describes, the man
of sin, that should "be revealed, the son of perdition: who opposeth and exalteth himself above all
that is called God; or that is worshiped."
And what is this man of sin, my fellow Christians? It is nothing but the will of God's rational
creation separated from the divine will. He has in every sense usurped the place of God and stands
in the throne of God, and makes up his religion according to his own will. If it is not so why are
all these schools and colleges found among men, to teach them to become ministers of the gospel?
If it is not so what are these for? If the Almighty is every where present, and if he comprehends all
wisdom and power, he is able to raise up gospel ministers from the most insignificant creatures,
and the most despised among tile children of men. And when he raises up these will he select and
bring into his service men who are under the government of their own wills. But when he raises
up any from the ground, how they are made to marvel. Yet we see that they wont learn though he
raises up, as it were from the dunghill, a dear little female or a male. He endues them with his love
and life, that through obedience, filial obedience they may grow wise unto salvation till they feel
redeemed from all sin. Here they come into that love which will seek the welfare and good of all.
Here the moving of this love upon their souls, though they feel themselves so insignificant, raises
a desire for the good of others, though it is a great cross to them, considering their obscure state
in society, and feeling how unworthy they are. How hard it is for such to give up to God and to be
a messenger, and yet how he raises up some of these and how they glorify his name by what he
manifests by his life in their souls.
But now when we turn to other men, who are trusting to human science, all of which is
foolishness and perfect nonsense, and cannot help one jot or tittle forward in our souls
redemption, for all such science is deficient and cannot help us to know God; then how reasonable
and plain a case it is. Because as God has all power and comprehends, all knowledge; so he is in
our souls, and ready to open all knowledge that will do us good; for he has all knowledge of good
and evil. Man never brought into the world any knowledge; and he has no power to decide
correctly. It is only through the efficiency of this divine light and life or grace of God, that he can
decide. And this is given to every one to profit with.
Now it is called light, especially by us of this society, who profess to be Christians. This is the
foundation which George Fox came out upon--he directed them to "mind the light." But it led
many of the professors to be his enemies, and they told strange things about him, that he denied
the divinity of Jesus Christ; and they persecuted him and his immediate followers. Then why will
we not learn, when we have such opportunities? Why not bring things home and examine for
ourselves, and not pin our faith upon others' sleeves, and be led along, by the nose I was going to
say, to follow others? It is no wonder that it has led us into darkness, and, therefore, away from
the life giving presence of God, which would give us every thing we need to know, as the sons of
men, whose breath is in their nostrils.
I say, dearly beloved, my soul craves it for us, that we may sink down and examine ourselves;
according to the declaration of the apostle: "Examine yourselves whether ye be in the faith; prove
your own selves: Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you except ye be
reprobates?" Now we cannot suppose that the apostle meant that outward man, that walked about
the streets of Jerusalem; because he is not in any of us. But what is this Jesus Christ? He came to
be a Saviour to that nation, and was limited to that nation. He came to gather up, and look up the
lost sheep of the house of Israel. But as he was a Saviour in the outward sense, so he was an
outward shadow of good things to come; and so the work of the man, Jesus Christ, was a figure.
He healed the sick of their outward calamities, he cleansed the leprosy--all of which was external
and affected only their bodies--as sickness don't affect the souls of the children of men, though
they may labour under all these things. But as he was considered a Saviour, he meant by what he
said, a Saviour is within you, the anointing of the spirit of God is within you: for this made the
ways of Jesus so wonderful in his day, that the Psalmist in his prophecy concerning him exclaims,
"Thou hast loved righteousness and hated iniquity: therefore God, even thy God hath anointed
thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows." He had loved righteousness, you perceive, and
therefore was prepared to receive the fullness of the spirit, the fullness of that divine anointing; for
there was no germ of evil in him or about him: both his soul and body were pure. He was anointed
above all his fellows, to be the head of the church, the top stone, the chief corner stone, elect and
precious. And what was it that was a Saviour? Not that which was outward; it was not flesh and
blood: for "flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven;" it must go to the earth from
whence it was taken. It was that life, that same life that I have already mentioned, that was in him,
and which is the light and life of men, and which lighteth every man, and consequently every
woman, that cometh into the world. And we have this light and life in us; which is what the
apostle meant by Jesus Christ; and if we have not this ruling in us we are dead, because we are not
under the law of the spirit of life. For the "law is light and the reproofs of instruction the way to
I want us to be more and more spiritually minded, for all depends on it. The apostle has given this
distinction and has clearly recapitulated it in his argumentation, in nearly the same expressions as
the prophet; though not exactly in the same language. "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither
have entered into the heart of man the things which God hath prepared for them that love him."
"Eye hath not seen," that is, the external eye; and the external ear hath not heard, "neither have
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 by his spirit: for the spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep
things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him ?
Even so the things of God knoweth no man but the spirit of God," that is in him.
This is clear and positive to every one present, if they would only look at it. As there is no
creature under man, that can enjoy the happiness, or the things of a man. They must first come to
have the nature and spirit of a man; for it is not till then, that they can know the things of a man.
So none can know the things of God, but by the spirit of God--certainly so. Hence the necessity
to gather inward to the spirit, the light and life of God in the soul; for thus do we become united
to God, and when this is the case, we are born again as sure as we are born into this world. For
the children of the Lord are taught of the Lord, and in righteousness are they established; and
great shall be the peace of those children. May this be our experience, one and all--it is the prayer
of my mind.
And Oh! may the dearly beloved youth let these things have place. How frequently has my heart
yearned for you, I know what it is to be young--I know the temptations of youth--I know how
liable we are to be led astray by our parents, and those who are older than ourselves. If we have
not come under the dominion of love, or which is the same thing to us, if our religion is only a
traditional one, it is calculated to make us stumbling blocks to the youth. But, my dear young
friends, you are all to answer for yourselves: for no man can save his brother, or give to God a
ransom for his soul. We are to cast off all such dependence; and yet we are not to dishonour our
parents in the least degree. And, my dear young friends, if you come under the influence of the
grace of God, you will be enabled to honour your parents more than you can do in any other way;
though it should lead you to go directly counter, and to stand directly counter to your parents;
which it no doubt will do, if they have no religion but a traditional one. And yet you may act in
your places with propriety. For under the law children were not to be obedient only in the Lord;
so it will be with those children, who are brought under the influence of divine grace.
I know what I say: for often in the days of my vanity, I felt something in me so controlling, as not
to do any thing to harm my kind and loving parent by running into practices that would give pain
to his mind. I continued watchful not to do it so that he could have knowledge of it. Here I was
led to deceive him; for I could not bear to do it so that he should have knowledge of it as I knew
it would grieve him. And though we may hide it from them, this is better than wickedly to go to
disregard and wound the feelings of our tender parent: and even if he is wrong, we must be
careful not to wound or grieve him. Thus children under the influence and guidance of the grace
of God will submit to and close in with its requisitions, and thus they will honour their parents,
though they are led for a time to counteract their minds and wishes; yet never otherwise than the
nature of the case requires. But these dear children if they have persevered in this line, they have
after a while, so brought their parents down into due consideration, that I have considered them
the actual saviours of their parents. Then see what a blessing children may be to their parents--and
thus the parents are made to rejoice that their children have thus conducted themselves.
I speak this for the encouragement of the dear youth; and I desire that they may gather inward to
the gift of divine grace, which I am persuaded will never lead them astray from their duty to their
parents, but make them love them, although they cannot obey man rather than God, but must
obey God rather than man. Therefore, dear children, I want you all to feel for yourselves, that you
are accountable creatures--that life is uncertain, and there is certainty of no other day. Dare we
then lie down to take our rest with a defiled heart; when we feel condemnation and confusion. If
we do, what presumptuous creatures we are--we cannot believe that we are accountable
creatures. I dare not do such a thin as this--I dare not lay down my head to sleep till my peace is
made with my heavenly Father; so that if I should never open my eyes again, I may have
confidence to believe in his mercy, and that he will receive me into favour. I don't speak these
things boastingly, for I consider myself, oftentimes, the most unworthy of merit, for anything I do.
I ascribe all, as our blessed pattern ascribed all, to the power and wisdom of my heavenly Father.
And so it will be with all who are obedient to his grace--they will come to feel it operating in
them, as God over all, blessed and forever.
With Responses to them by Elias Hicks and Willet Hicks
Jonathan Evans: "I believe it right for me to say, that our Society have always believe in the
atonement, mediation, and intercession of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ--that by him all
things were created, in heaven and in earth, both visible and invisible, whether they be thrones,
principalities, or powers.
"We believe that all things were created by him, and that he was before all things, and that by him
all things consist. And any doctrine which goes to invalidate these fundamental doctrines of the
Christian religion, we cannot admit, nor do we hold ourselves accountable for.
"Great efforts are making, to make people believe, that Jesus Christ was no more than a man, but
we do not believe any such thing, nor can we receive any such doctrine, or any things which goes
to inculcate such an idea.
"We believe him to be the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords, before whose judgment seat every
soul shall be arraigned and judged by him. We do not conceive him to be a mere man; and we
therefore desire, that people may not suppose, that we hold any such doctrines, or that we have
nay unity with them."
Isaac Lloyd: "I united with Jonathan Evans,--we have never believed, that our blessed Lord and
Saviour, Jesus Christ, came to the Jews only; for he was given for God's salvation, to the ends of
Elias Hicks: "I have spoken; and I leave it for the people to judge--I don't assume the judgment
Willet Hicks hoped that this large assembly would gather into quiet, which had been in some
measure interrupted; as it was very visible that there was a great want of religious life. He said he
was not replying to any thing that had been said, for he did not notice it. It must be evident to all,
that there was a want of life among the professors of the Christian religion We all unite in this I
trust, but individually, we are ascribing it to various causes, among which we enumerate many
things. But this is visible and tangible, that it is all the effect of a cause; and there is but one cause
that has produced this effect among us, and that is a departure from the guidance and influence of
the Holy Ghost--this is the ground and cause of all this evil and wickedness.
Those that believe the blessed Master's testimony, that the Holy Ghost would be sent and that it
would lead and guide into all truth, must believe this and we have the evidence in ourselves, that
his declaration is true. For we have found that the Holy Ghost is come, and that its office is to
lead and guide into all truth, all those who obey it. Therefore we know of a truth according to the
testimony of the scriptures, that the Holy Ghost is given unto men to lead them to the kingdom of
God. And it will as certainly lead every son and daughter of Adam to the city of God, as ever the
star led the wise men of the east to Bethlehem of Judea, where the babe was, if they will only
attend to it. And it will be unto them as "a pillar of cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night," to
mark the holy way to God. This was promised, and is given unto men for their leader, their
comforter, and their guide. Therefore, a departure from this, is the cause of all the sin and
wickedness in the world. And Oh! that men would come home and acknowledge its power, and
live under its influence.
I am desirous that people should be well grounded in this principle of light, and life; "for by their
fruits ye shall know them," and "the fruits of the spirit," Paul says, "are love, joy, peace,
long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, charity," and the whole catalogue of virtues. And
when we see these fruits brought forth such as love, joy, peace, and all the train of virtues, we
must judge by this rule, that, that which produces them is good.
But what are the fruits of the flesh? They are hypocrisy, envy, jealousy, hatred, malice, and many
other fruits of a similar character. From which we have reason to judge, that those who produce
them, have departed from the Holy Spirit of God, by which, as Paul says, we are sealed unto the
day of redemption. Therefore I want the minds of the people to be serious. And O ye rising youth!
may you seek the God of your fathers; for if you seek him he will be found of you, but if you
forsake him, he will cast you off. Oh! that you may seek him, in these times that are so trying;
when there seems to be few that you can look up to, for an example: for you now see and feel,
that you must examine for yourselves. The time is come, when you must look and investigate into
the truth for yourselves. Oh! that you may seek the Lord early and steadfastly, that he may lead
and guide you into all truth: and in the same measure that this is your engagement, the Lord will
be your friend, and guide you in the paths of righteousness and in the paths of peace.