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John Wilbur

Wilbur, John. A Narrative and Exposition of the Late Proceedings of New England Yearly Meeting, With Some of its Subordinate Meetings & Their committees, in Relation to the Doctrinal Controversy Now Existing in the Society of Friends: Prefaced by a Concise View of the Church, Showing the Occasion of its Apostacy, both Under the Former and Present Dispensations, With an Appendix. Edited from Record Kept, From Time to Time, of Those Proceedings, and Interspersed With Occasional Remarks and Observations. Addressed to the Members of the Said Yearly Meeting. New York: Piercy & Reed, Printers, 1854, pages 277-325.

(All italics added by J.W. for emphasis. All words supplied in [Square Brackets] by J.W.
Page numbers from original publication by -pds in {Set Brackets.}

This Document is on The Quaker Writings Home Page.

J. J. Gurney (Portable Evidences, pp. 109, 110.): "Furnished as we are by the Author of our being with a moral principle, it is impossible for us to conceive that God will reward and punish mankind in a future world, by any other than the moral rule. We should be utterly at a loss to account for the contrary, which would be directly opposed to that sense of right and wrong which He has so gracwusly interwoven with our very nature."
(Ibid. p. 123.) "All men have sinned against the law of God, as it is written on their hearts; and those on whom the Scriptures are bestowed, have sinned against the same law as it is more largely unfolded in tho sacred volume."
(Ibid. pp. 121,122.): "Now where but in the Sacred writings, shall we look for a full account of the holiness and comprehensiveness of the law of God? Where, but in them, shall we learn the lesson of its variety and completeness; of its spiritual and searchlng nature; of its divine control, not only over our words and actions, but over our thoughts, motives, and dispositions?"
(Note at bottom of page 20, of Strictures on "Truth Vindicated.") "Had R. Barclay lived to witness the result of the labors of many eminent biblical critics, during the last 150 years, he would have entertained a higher view than he appears to have done, of the substantial correctness of the text of the Old and New Testaments."
(Portable Evidence, p. 109.) "Now I conceive that in the agreement between the law written on the heart, and the law written in the book, and in the extension of the latter beyond the natural limits of the former, we {p. 322}have two cogent and distinct evidences, that the Scriptures are the book of God."
(Misinterpretations of Scripture as published in the Inquirer, Vol. I. No. 7, p. 195.) "The idea was at one time rather prevalent among the members of our Society, that when the Apostle used the term, 'a more sure word of prophecy,' he was alluding not to any word written, but to that Divine illuminating influence by which the prophets were inspired, and which guides the Christian believer 'into all truth.' Such a view of the passage is, indeed, but seldom insisted upon at the present day; but as it is sometimes advanced, I think it right to acknowledge my own sentiment, that it is at variance with the simplicity which we ought always to maintain in the perusal and interpretation of the Sacred writings. That the 'very sure word of prophecy' was that which had been uttered and Written, is evident from the immediate context, itl which the Apostle distinguishes the word from the day star in the heart, and at the same time identifies it (as I conceive) with prophecy of the Scripture."
(Ibid. p. 198.) "The misinterpretation which I wish to notice is, that of several writers who appear to suppose that because Christ is called the light, (i e. the enlightener,) he is therefore to be identified with the influence which he hestows; in short, that the light of the Spirit of God in the heart of man is itself actually Christ. The obvious tendency of this mistake is, to deprive, the Saviour of his personal attributes and to reduce Him to the rank of a principle.
(Ibid. p. 194.) "It is unquestionably our duty to exercise diligence and care, in order to obtain a right understanding of the sacred volume; for this, like every other book, must be interpreted in accordance with the known principles of language, and not without reference to innumerable facts and circumstances which throw light on its meaning."

Contrast these sentiments with

Penington (Works, Part. I. p. 8.): "But poor man having lost the life, what should he do? he can do no {p. 323}other, but cry up the letter, and make as good shift with it as he can, though his soul the meanwhile is starved, and lies in famine and death for want of the bread of life, and a wrong thing is fed."
Geo. Fox (Journal, Vol. 1. 32.): "He [the Priest] took for his text these words of Peter, 'We have also a more sure word of prophecy, whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day Star arise in your hearts.' He told the people this was the Scriptures, by which they were to try all doctrines, religions, and opinions. Now the Lord's power was so mighty upon me, and so strong in me, that I could not hold; but was made to cry out, ' Oh ! no; it is not the Scriptures;' and told them it was the Holy Spirit, by which the holy men of God gave forth the Scriptures, whereby opinions, religions, and judgments were to be tried; for it led into all truth, and so gave the knowledge of all truth. The Jews had the Scriptures, yet resisted the Holy Ghost, and rejected Christ, the bright morning star. They persecuted him and his Apostles, and took upon them to try their doctrines by the Scriptures, but erred in judgment, and did not try them right; because they tried without the Holy Ghost."
Barclay (Apology, p. 147.): "So we confess also, that conscience is an excellent thing, where it is rightly informed and enlightened: wherefore some of us have fitly compared it to the lantern, and the light of Christ to a candle; a lantern is useful, when a clear candle burns and shines in it; but otherwise is of no use. To the light of Christ then in the conscience, and not to man's natural conscience, it is that we continually commend men; that, not this is it that we preach up, and direct people to, as a most certain guide into life eternal. Lastly, this light, seed, &c., appears to be no power or natural faculty of man's mind; because a man that is in his health can, when he pleases, stir up, move, and exercise the faculties of his soul; he is absolute master of them; and except there be some natural cause or impediment in the way, he can use them at {p. 324} his pleasure; but this light and seed of God in man, he cannot move and stir up when he pleaseth; but it moves, blows, and strives with man as the Lord seeth meet."
Geo. Fox (Journal, Vol. I. p. 111.): "I was sent to turn people from darkness to the light, that they might receive Christ Jesus; for to as many as should receive him in his light, I saw he would give power to become the sons of God; which I had obtained by receiving Christ. I was to direct people to the Spirit, that gave forth the Scriptures, by which they might be led up to all truth, and up to Christ and God, as those had been who gave'them forth. I was to turn them to the graco of God, and to the truth in the heart, which came by Jesus; that by this grace they might be taught, which would bring them salvation, that their hearts might be established byit, their words might be seasoned, and all might come to know their salvation nigh. I saw that Christ died for all men, was a propitiation for all, and enlightened all men and women with his divine and saving light; and that none could be true believers, but those that believed therein. I saw that the grace of God, which brings salvation, had appeared to all men, and that the manifestation of the Spirit of God was given to every man, to profit withal. These things I did not see by the help of man, nor by the letter; though they are written in the lelter; but I saw them in the light of the Lord Jesus Christ, and by his immmediate spirit and power, as did the holy men of God by whom the Holy Scriptures were written."
(Ibid. p. 212.) "Another time, this priest came to a meeting, and fell to jangling. First, he said, 'The Scriptures were the word of' God.' I told him, they were the words of God, but not Christ, the word; and bid him prove by Scripture what he said."
J.J. Gurney (Brief Remarks, p. 15.): "And as it is appointed unto men once to die; but after this the judgment: so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them who look forhim shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation. {p. 325} Heb. ix: 27, 28. It is generally allowed and I think it is very oovious that the second appearing of Christ, here mentioned is nothing more nor less than his future coming in glory, to judge the quick and dead."
Discipline of New England, (Yearly Meeting, p. 74.): "And to his spiritual appearance in the heart, for unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time, without sin, unto salvation."
J.J. Gurney. "Were I required to define Quakerism, I would not describe it as the system so elaborately wrought out by a Barclay, or as the doctrine and maxims of a Penn, or as the deep and refined views of a Penington; for all these authors have their defects as well as their excellencies; I should call it the religion of the New Testament of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, without dimunition, without addition, and without compromise."
See concluding paragraph of his misinterpretation of Scripture.
I. Penington says, "Now mark, see if this be not a clear thing, He that giveth any other meaning of any Scripture, than what is the true, proper meaning thereof, he both addeth and diminisheth; he takes away the true sense, he addeth a sense that is not true. The Spirit of the Lord is the true expositor of Scripture, he never addeth nor diminisheth: but man (being without the Spirit) doth but guess, doth but imagine, doth but study or invent a meaning, and so he is ever adding or diminishing."     .

NOTE.--The Publisher of this Narrative, is indebted to a much esteemed Friend for most of the foregoing extracts.

Continuation of Appendix: Letters and Testimonies