Imatges de pÓgina

impressive illustrations of those important practical principles which she had derived from an enlightened phi losophy and from a careful examination of Scripture.


The Epistle from the Yearly Meeting, held in London, by Adjournments, from the 21st of the Fifth Month, to the 29th of the same, inclusive, 1823, to the Quarterly and Monthly Meetings of Friends, in Great Britain, Ireland and elsewhere.

It is our earnest solicitude, that all whom we are addressing may be enough concerned for the salvation of their souls. Dear friends, we believe that for the advancement of this most necessary work, it is good for us frequently to seek after retirement in spirit before the Lord, and to wait in


WE silence secret intima

TE have again been made thank

is not unmindful of us; and we reverently trust that this meeting has not been held in vain. We may inform you that the current of Christian love has renewedly flowed amongst us; and it has extended to all our absent friends. Under this precious influence, we offer you our endeared salutation, desiring your advancement in the way which leadeth unto eternal life; and that you may ever bear in remembrance that "other foundation can no man lay, than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ."

the mere assent of the judgment to the truths of Holy Scripture, however desirable such an assent may be, that is sufficient to make us real Christians. It is only by the sanctifying operation of the Holy Spirit that we come fully to partake of the benefits of the medi ation and propitiatory sacrifice of the Son of God.

Beloved friends, we have no new doctrine to communicate; no fresh precepts to enforce it is a peculiar excellence of the gospel that its character is always the same. To those who desire to have their hearts cleansed from the defilements of sin,-yea, to all-the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ continues to be freely offered. The cross must be daily borne by all who would become his disciples. If we would attain unto that holiness without which no man can see the Lord, we must apply in faith unto Him who "taketh away the sin of the world;" who was “wounded for our transgressions," who was " bruised for our iniquities," and by whose "stripes we are healed;" who, being in glory with the Father" before the world was," condescended in order to effect our redemption, to come down from heaven, and take upon him the nature of man. In contemplating the infinite importance of these solemn truths, and in publicly acknowledging our belief in the divinity of our blessed Saviour, we desire most clearly to convey the sentiment that it is not

tions of his will. If this be not immediately manifested, let not any be discouraged, but let them persevere in faith. Then we believe that in the Lord's time that evidence of his care will be granted, which will prove consoling to the mind. On such occasions the precepts of holy writ will at times be brought instructively to our remembrance. With these invaluable writings, it becomes every one who bears the name of a Christian, to endeavour to be well acquainted. In order to acquire this knowledge, we wish that all our members may observe the good practice of a daily serious reading of the Scriptures in their families, when collected; and also that they frequently read them in private in a pious disposition of mind, even though it be but a small portion at a time.

In the Sacred Writings, no duty is more clearly set forth than that of prayer. Prayer is the aspiration of the heart unto God: it is one of the first engagements of the awakened soul, and we believe that it becomes the clothing of the minds of those whose lives are regulated by the fear and love of their Creator. If in moments of serious reflection, and when communing with our own hearts, we are sufficiently alive to our helpless condition, we shall often feel that we may pour forth our secret supplications unto the Lord. And as we believe that it is one of the greatest privileges a Christian can enjoy, thus to draw nigh in spirit unto the Father of mercies, we earnestly desire that no one may deprive himself of so great a blessing. But let all on such occa

sions remember the awful majesty of Him who filleth heaven and earth, and their own unworthiness in His pure and holy sight. If these consider ations ought to possess the mind in our secret aspirations unto the Almighty, how incumbent is it upon those who publicly approach the throne of grace, to cherish them in their hearts, and to move only under the influence of that spirit which enables us to pray aright!

Whilst he who would be a real and not a nominal Christian, is duly impressed with the necessity of striving to become a meek and humble disciple of Jesus, whilst he bears in mind that he is constantly liable to fall, and that he must therefore be waiting for the renewal of his spiritual strength, and at all times be placing his depedence upon Divine aid, there is safety. But we fear, with respect to some who have run well for a time, that either through the friendship of men or outward prosperity, or through unwatchfulness, they have gradually fallen away from that to which they had once attained; and that others, from similar causes, are not advancing to that state of purity and simplicity in which they would become useful members of the church of Christ. Dear friends, permit us in Christian love, to remind you of the ever important injunction of our Lord

Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." If you endeavour to prove by your actions the sincerity of your profession, if in your intercourse with others you shew that you have an honest and upright heart, if your lives are ordered in the fear of the Lord; you may, by your daily walk through life, commend and adorn your own religious principles. But, if there be a want of consistency of conduct, it may lead those around you lightly to esteem those very principles which their judgment has at one time approved; nay, it may cause the way of truth to be evil spoken of.

There are many ways by which our attachment to religion and virtue may be made manifest to others. One of these is the due observance of that day which is publicly set apart for the performance of divine worship. Our care for the due attendance of our religious meetings, both on first-days

and on other days of the week, has been repeatedly expressed, nor have we at this time been unmindful of this primary obligation. We earnestly entreat every one, when thus met, to consider the worship of the Almighty as a solemn act.. Under this impression, his demeanour will bespeak a serious thoughtfulness; and let all remember, that at such times an indolent state of mind is offensive in the sight of Him whom we are met to serve. But the duties of the day to which we have adverted, are not confined to the time allotted to assembling with our brethren. Our spiritual growth may be advanced by habits of quietness and retirement, and by suitable reading, in the course of the day. On the other hand, great care is necessary that we do not by unprofitable visiting or conversation, by travelling on our outward avocations, or by otherwise engaging in them, dissipate those good impressions with which we may have been mercifully favoured.

The accounts of the sufferings of our members in Great Britain and Ireland, in support of our well-known testimony against tithes and all other ecclesiastical claims, including the costs and charges of distraint, and a few demands for military purposes, have been brought up in usual course. The amount is upwards of thirteen thousand two hundred pounds.

We rejoice with gratitude that this country has continued to be favoured with the blessing of peace, whilst we lament that other nations, at no great distance from us, have been involved in contention and bloodshed. We desire that we may all so live under the influence of that Spirit which breathes peace on earth and good will towards men, that, whenever occasions occur, we may be prepared, by our conversation and conduct, in meekness and wisdom to shew forth our precious testimony to the peaceable nature of the gospel dispensation.

Our friends in Ireland, and those of all the Yearly Meetings on the continent of America, have at this time been brought to our remembrance, with the feeling of much brotherly love, by the continuance of our usual exchange of epistles. This meeting has again felt deeply interested on behalf of the natives of Africa, who continue to be torn from their homes,

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from the author. The grounds which
he has adopted in imitation of Locke
and Taylor, to explain the Epistles of
Paul, are stated by him, and illus-
trated with his usual vigour and clear-
ness; but he is silent as to the most
effectual way of explaining, as appears
to me, whatever is obscure or ambi-
guous in these divine writings. The
Epistles of Paul are letters addressed
to the several churches, and rendered
necessary by the circumstances pecu-
liar to those churches; and the only
rational way to ascertain their mean-
ing, in all obscure or doubtful places,
is to know the local events which
called them forth. The writings of
Paul, according to Mr. Belsham, are
theoretical, dictated in the ease and
calmness of speculation, and to be
interpreted, like the ethics of Aristo-
tle, with the latitude of abstract and
general truths. The Apostle wrote, as
he has written, because he was a Jew,
with ideas modified more by Jewish
modes of thinking and speaking, than
by the changes which took place in
his views as an Apostle of Christ, and
in the character of those whom he had
converted to the faith. This scheme
of interpretation, though supported
by the high names of Locke, Taylor
and Belsham, is undoubtedly errone-
ous, as standing in direct opposition
to the evidence of facts. The Great
Apostle of the Gentiles was not a
recluse; he led a life of incessant toil
and activity, not of speculation. Mat-
ters of actual occurrence and vital
importance pressed on his heart, occu-
pied all his thoughts, and put not only
his mind, but his person and limbs, in
constant requisition. As a Jew, in-
deed, he could not be free from Jewish
ideas: as a Hellenistic writer, born and
educated a Hebrew, he could not but
think in Hebrew first what he next
expressed in Greek. But this could
affect only the idiom of his style, his
figures of speech, his methods of illus-
tration, and not the facts which are
the groundwork of his epistles. These
facts could be brought home to the
bosom of the persons addressed, only
by being selected as falling within the
range of their knowledge and experi-
ence. The respective churches felt
their force and propriety for no other
reason than that they turned upon
opinions and events peculiar to them-
selves. I shall illustrate these general

Clerk to the meeting this year.


On Mr. Belsham's Scheme of inter-
preting Paul's Epistles.
R. BELSHAM's Exposition of
the Epistles of Paul is a work
which I frequently take in my hands
with great pleasure; nor can any critic,
however profound, help being gratified
with the solid and useful matter, the
good sense and luminous arrangement
which characterise that elaborate and
most useful production. As to my-
self, actuated as I am by a conviction
of the author's superior talents, inde-
fatigable industry and undaunted cou-
rage in discussing and defending what-
ever he thinks to be the meaning of
the sacred writers; actuated as I am
by the remembrance of the benefits,
which, in common with his other
pupils, I have derived from his Moral,
Metaphysical and Theological Lec-
tures at Hackney, and by the hope
that his labours will prove highly bene-
ficial to the Christian world, I feel
thankful to the great Disposer of all
events, that his life has been spared to
finish it: and the friends of genuine
Christianity must join with me in the
wish that Christians of every denomi-
nation might become liberal and en-
lightened enough to profit by it. But
notwithstanding the useful and impor-
tant matter which abounds in it, and
in the justice of which every reader of
sense must acquiesce, there are many
things in which I cannot but differ

observations by examples taken from the Epistle to the Romans. "Behold, thou callest thyself a Jew, and reposest in the law, and gloriest in God, and knowest his will, and approvest things that are more excellent, as instructed in the law, and confidently pretendest to be a guide of the blind, a light to them that are in darkness, an instructor of the simple, a teacher of babes, having the form of true knowledge in the law. Thou then that teachest another, neglectest thou to teach thyself? Thou who preachest that a man should not steal, dost thou steal? Thou who forbiddest to commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? Thou who abhorrest idols, dost thou profanely rob the temple? Thou who gloriest in the law, dost thou by the transgression of this law, dishonour God? For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you." Chap. ii. 17-24.

Now, according to the plan suggested by Locke, illustrated by Taylor, and adopted by Mr. Belsham, this is an extreme case feigned by the Apostle to represent, under one character, the general state of the Jewish nation, and would be as proper, in a letter addressed to the Church at Corinth, to an assembly at Athens, or a synagogue in Jerusalem, as in the Epistle to the Romans. The words which Mr. Belsham subjoins to the passage are these: "The Apostle having sufficiently prepared the mind of his Jewish readers by arguing upon general principles, equally applicable to Jews and Gentiles, now brings his conclu sion home to the Jew exclusively, and directly charges him with being equally, and even more guilty than the untaught and despised Heathen." What is it possible that the Apostle Paul, the most cautious, the most correct and just of men, in his ideas and language, should thus exhibit, collectively exhibit, his own nation as guilty of theft, adultery, and even of sacrilege, as transgressing the law and blaspheming the name of God among the Gentiles? Dishonourable and apostate individuals among the children of Abraham, in Heathen countries, might answer to this description; but was this the general character of the nation? The Apostle would not have said this if it had been true, much less would he have ex

ceeded the truth in placing his countrymen, the disciples of Moses and the prophets, the worshipers of the true God, in an invidious and false light before those Gentile converts, whose prejudice against the Jews he sought to remove, and whose respect for the Jewish nation, and to the ora cles of God delivered to them, he endeavoured to conciliate. No, no, the Apostle never pursued a course so unwise, so erroneous, so devoid of candour and feeling as this supposes.

Now, if we relinquish this plan and adopt another, which is recommended by common sense, namely, if we suppose the Epistles of Paul to be letters, and letters, like all other letters, turning on circumstances peculiar to the person or persons to whom they are addressed, we shall have but one way, and that way an obvious and effectual one, to come at their meaning, namely, the development of those circumstances through the medium of ecclesiastical history or other collateral writings in the succeeding ages of the church. If we here could receive no light from history, it would be no unwarrantable stretch of fancy to suppose that there existed in the Church at Rome a Jew, guilty of the crimes which the Apostle lays to his charge; and that it is this very individual whose pretensions and hypocrisy the Apostle exposes in the above passage.

But happily in this case there is no need of mere supposition: for we have the fact stated on the authority of the Jewish historian. From Josephus and others we infer that a learned, but abandoned Jew, one of the framers and teachers of the Gnostic system, went and introduced that system into the Christian Church just established at Rome. His colleagues were the Samaritan impostor, the priests of Isis and Anubis, and, in general, the magicians and astrologers in the Court of Tiberius. The object of these wicked men was to deprive Christianity of its purifying influence by sinking it in Heathenism. Their first step towards this was to represent the founder as one of the Pagan gods, a man only in appearance, and born unlike other men: and availing themselves of the influence which their pretended skill in magic and astrology gave them over the mind of Tiberius,

they instigated that emperor to propose to the senate the deification of Jesus Christ, and to place him with Mercury and Apollo in the Pantheon of Rome. The Gnostics branded the apostles as illiterate, and as men to whom Christ did not think fit to reveal the mysteries of his gospel, while they assumed to themselves lofty terms, expressive of their superior wisdom. It is to this pretension that the Apostle alludes; and he uses the titles for no other reason than that they were arrogated by the wicked Jew and his associates. Thou confidently pretendest to be a guide of the blind, a light to them that are in darkness, an instructor of the simple and a teacher of babes."


gospel, both among the Jews and Gentiles. Hence the Apostle adds, "Thou who gloriest in the law, dost thou, by the transgression of his law, dishonour God? for through you the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles."

A lady of rank, the wife of Saturninus, a bosom friend of the emperor, became a convert to the new faith. Her beauty kindled the admiration of a Roman knight, whose offers she rejected with scorn and indignation; but the Jew and his Egyptian brethren were her masters, whose ascendancy over her mind induced them, for a large sum of money, to surrender her, under the most impious pretension, to the arms of Mandus, and to sacrifice her to his lust in the very Temple of Anubis. At the request of her deceivers she gave a large present of gold and purple for the use of the Temple at Jerusalem. This present, when delivered to be forwarded, they kept for their own use, which, adds Josephus, was their object in making the request. It is in reference to these facts, in which this impostor was a leading agent, that the Apostle puts the questions, "Thou who teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? Thou who preachest that a man should not steal, dost thou steal? Thou who forbiddest to commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? Thou who abhorrest idols, dost thou profanely rob the Temple?" The punishment of these crimes, when detected, instead of being confined, as justice required, to the perpetrators, was extended by the animosity of the emperor and senate to the Jews in Rome, all of them being involved in distress and ruin, as Josephus observes, for the misconduct of four men. These transactions became universally known, and caused great scandal to the friends of the VOL. XVIII.

JOHN JONES. (To be continued.)


N. B. As my Lexicon is now before the public, I propose to subjoin to each paper a short article illustrative of some word in the New Testament. The following illustration of evλaßeia, Heb. v. 7, though printed, I was earnestly requested to suppress, as savouring too much of Unitarianism. This term supposes the foresight of danger, and prudence in the choice of means to avoid it, or if unavoidable to bear up under it with honour and success. Thus our Lord, when going to suffer, is said by the apostle, Heb. v. 7, "being heard from his precaution." Christ foresaw in all its particulars, in all its horrors, the closing scene of his life and though his prayer that the cup should pass from him, could not be heard, the object of that prayer was virtually granted. He appears to have determined beforehand the plan of conducting himself throughout the awful crisis; and a faithful adherence to it insured him a happy and glorious result. His consciousness of innocence; a well-grounded confidence in the truth of his divine delegation; the most complete resignation to the will of heaven; and a due sense of the high commission he had to fulfil (namely, the deliverance of mankind from sin and death);-these considerations conspired in filling his soul with comfort, and arming him with fortitude, patience and meekness. Lest insult or cruelty should tempt him to say any thing unworthy of the noble cause in which he had engaged, he resolves that not a syllable should escape his lips during his trial and sufferings-he resolves to suffer in silence, without complaining, without retorting the taunts, or refuting the calumnies and accusations of his enemies. This virtuous resolution, this wise precaution, enabled him to exhibit unexampled dignity in the midst of ignominy and degradation; to obtain a signal triumph over the powers of 3 G

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