A TREATISE ON FUNDAMENTAL DOCTRINES OF
THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION: IN WHICH ARE ILLUSTRATED THE PROFESSION, MINISTRY,
AND FAITH OF THE SOCIETY OF FRIENDS
Philadelphia: Emmor Kimbor, 1815. Pages 20-22.
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CONCERNING THE SCRIPTURES.
[P. 20] The Society of Friends do not agree with those professors of
Christianity, who say the Scriptures are the Word of God; but they are of
the judgment that the testimonies of the Holy Scriptures proceed from, and
were written under the guidance of the Spirit of God that they are "Profitable
for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness."
2 Tim. 316. But as they [P. 21] had an original spring or principle from
whence they proceeded, so that principle we consider as a primary cause,
and the Holy Scriptures the effect. To that original principle which was
before the Scriptures, we with John the Evangelist, give the name of the
Word, and not to the Scriptures. "In the beginning was the Word, and the
Word was with God, and the Word was God." John 11. There are important reasons
for making this distinction; some of which it may not be improper to mention.
The Word of God as described by the Evangelist John, we believe has an universal
influence, which cannot be admitted in relation to the Scriptures. But if
the Scriptures are the alone means of salvation, then they must contradict
themselves; because they testily, that "a great multitude, which no man could
number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before
the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes and palms in their
hands." Rev. 79. We cannot doubt but that of this great company there were
many who had never read the Scriptures; but they were, notwithstanding, clothed
with the robes of righteousness. Hence we infer, that though the scriptures
are a great blessing to us, yet they are not so much [P. 22] so as that Word
or Spirit from which they proceeded. But the Scriptures themselves cannot
be understood without the aid of the same Spirit, by which they were at first
written. We consequently believe that in the wisdom of God, many souls are
instructed without the means of the Scriptures, by the immediate manifestation
of his own blessed Spirit. If therefore we call the Scriptures the Word of
God, and say they are the only means of salvation, this would go to deny
the doctrine which they contain, and exclude all those who cannot read them,
from the possibility of salvation. The Society of Friends observing these
consequences, and finding that the Spirit of Truth is given to lead into
all Truth, and of course, out of all error, cannot join with those who after
this manner depart from the doctrine of the Scriptures, but they on the contrary
refuse to call the Scriptures by any other name than that which their claim