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 23-28.
[P. 23] "If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God. If any man minister, let him do it as of the ability God giveth, that God in all things may be glorified." I Peter 4:11.Such ministry is not the effect of man's will or wisdom, but it is the ministry of the Spirit. Now the Gospel dispensation, is a Spiritual dispensation, and all those who profess to be ministers of the Gospel, if they are really such, have received a gift of the Spirit for that purpose. "And he gave some apostles, and some prophets, and some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying the body of Christ." Eph. 15:12. We believe therefore that no human talents or learning can qualify a man without this gift, to be a Gospel minister. And no one can be assured that he has this gift of the Spirit for the work of the ministry, but by the immediate impression and evidence of the Spirit itself. Nor can those among whom he labours know that the gift has been bestowed, unless they also have the evidence of the same Spirit. The [P. 24] Church of Christ was to be under his government, and built upon him, the only true foundation; consequently its members were not left to any uncertainty; they had the Spirit of Christ; for according to the Scriptures, "if any man have not the Spirit of Christ he is none of his." Rom. 89. The true Church therefore consisting of living members influenced by the Holy Head, necessarily know when the ministry proceeds from the Spirit. And although it may be possible for human learning and parts to become very correct in the knowledge of the letter, yet the ministry of the Spirit not accompanying the letter, these only are ministers of death, and they never can rise any higher, unless they receive the gift of the ministry. This gift we believe is only at the disposal of Him from whom all perfect gifts proceed, and not in the power of any man or set of men to confer upon another. We believe also that the gift of the Spirit is it not confined to nation or sex; that it is bestowed upon all; and that the gift of the ministry is bestowed upon females as well as males. "For ye are all the children of God by faith in Jesus Christ, for as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have [P. 25] put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female, for ye are all one in Christ." Gal. 3:26-28. If then we are, when baptized into Christ, all one in him (and we believe no one can be a minister of Christ until baptized into him,) whether male or female, we all receive of his Spirit; and those whom it may please him to put into the ministry will be to the edification of the body of Christ, which is his Church. That females were to receive the gift of prophecy appears from the following"I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy." Joel 2:28. The Apostle Peter on the memorable day of Pentecost makes use of this same passage, confirming the right of prophecy to the female sex. And though Paul, for the purpose of guarding the Church in his day from unnecessary questions and a consequent disturbance of the solemnity, enjoined that a woman should not be suffered to speak in it, but should enquire of her husband at home; yet it appears plain that he had no view to forbid them the right to minister when they should be thereunto called; for we find he has instructed them in what [P. 26] manner they should appear. "But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with head uncovered, dishonoreth her head." 1 Cor. 11:5. He has also spoken by way of approbation of women in the ministry of the Gospel"And I intreat thee also, true yoke fellow, help those women which laboured with me in the Gospel, with Clement also and with other my fellow labourers whose names are in the book of Life." Philip. 4:5. The Society of Friends being satisfied that females, were called to the ministry amongst them, and having every necessary assurance, that it was agreeable to the wise administration of the Head of the Church, have not believed that they should be excluded, but they own them in the ministry, and are Often edified by their labours in the Gospel. One of the duties which we are satisfied is vested in the Church, is a careful attention to this subject. Those who have had experience and have long stood firm in obedience to the Spirit of Christ, are necessarily bound to take notice of appearances in the ministry; and where any come forth who have mistaken their gift, timely to counsel and caution them. Thus the living members are instrumental to preserve all in their proper [P. 27] places; instructing one another in the opening of that Light which makes manifest. But though we are satisfied that male and female are called to the ministry; we do not believe they are to be paid for their labours, or to preach by contract; but agreeably to the charge of Christ to his disciples--"Freely ye have received, freely give." Mat. 10:1. We cannot therefore own any in the ministry who disobey this command of Christ. But as it was the duty of the Church in the primitive day to give to the poor amongst them, so we believe we are also in duty bound to provide for our poor, as well ministers as others. Although we esteem a living and authorized ministry, and believe it is a blessing to the Church, yet as we consider all true ministers to be the servants of Christ, who only can render effectual their services, so we are satisfied, that they must necessarily wait for his instruction in every step they take in this solemn duty. But should any attempt to speak in his name, under the influence or choice of the creaturely will, we believe such would contribute to their own condemnation, and by no means profit the people. Therefore as we do not unite with those who are hirelings, so neither do we own such to be the ministers [P. 28] of Christ, who profess to be always ready, and who make it their rule to preach at all times when as assembly is gathered.