An anonymous pamphlet has recently made its appearance in this city, entitled "A Letter from a Friend in America to Luke Howard of Tottenham, near London; in which the character of our friend Job Scott is vindicated and defended, and his doctrines shewn to be consistent with Scripture, and sound reason. In reply to a letter addressed by Luke Howard to the author." It would certainly appear proper and necessary that the writer of this Letter should have affixed his name to it, as Luke Howard has done to his, in order that the latter might know to whom he should address a reply; but on giving the pamphlet a careful and candid perusal, we were not surprised that the author, who assumes the character of a Friend in America, has withheld his name. It contains so much unfounded calumny, and is so disfigured with misrepresentation and garbling, that we should suppose no person possessing a regard for his reputation, either as a religious man or a good citizen, would consent to appear as its author.
From the language of the title page, we expected to find it a full and systematic reply to the concise and able arguments of Luke Howard, but we were surprised to discover on perusing it, that the title of "Letter and reply to Luke Howard," were merely a guise or cover given to the pamphlet in order more effectually to make it the vehicle for propagating the new notions which have lately been adopted by some members of the Society of Friends; that not a single argument contained in his Letter is answered, and that almost the only notice taken of it, is to misrepresent or pervert his language in order to criminate his character. It would seem properly to belong to Luke Howard to reply to the injurious treatment of the "American Friend," though we are well assured that as regards himself, he would esteem it utterly unworthy of notice. Considerable time, however, must elapse before the Letter can reach him, and as many parts of it are calculated to make a very erroneous impression respecting the Society of Friends, as well as Luke Howard, we deem it proper to notice, briefly, a few of the glaring inconsistencies and errors with which it is fraught.
In the first place, then, the title page, as well as the first sentence of the letter, contains a palpable untruth. They assert the Letter of Luke Howard to have been addressed to the author of the pretended reply, whereas this is not the fact, the original letter from Luke Howard having been in our possession for nearly a year, we can show that the assertions of this pseudo "American Friend" are without colour of truth.
The author of the reply informs us, that he was for some time at a loss to discover any adequate motive for the writing of Luke Howard's letter, but his doubts upon the subject at length subside in the conviction, (natural enough to the mind of a prejudiced opponent) that his "motive for so much labour as his letter must have cost him," "was to prostrate the religious character," and to "destroy all confidence in the religious writings," of one of his highly esteemed friends, who had been dead more than thirty years, for whose memory, he informs us in this very letter, he cherishes a regard, and in whose religious reputation he declares that he feels himself concerned. This charge against Luke Howard is so utterly improbable, so contrary to all common sense and common experience, that it defeats its own purpose. While the author was gratuitously inventing motives for the actions of another, he would better have served his scheme of defamation if he had kept within the verge of probabilities.
There is nothing in the letter of Luke Howard which will bear the construction which the "American Friend" has forced upon it. It is written, throughout, in a calm, dispassionate, and temperate manner, and contains not a single expression which might not properly be used between the nearest friends. In order, therefore, to give this sweeping accusation some colour of truth, the author of the reply has resorted to the most unfair misrepresentation of Luke Howard's meaning, and even to garbling his language. Of the truth of this we shall adduce a few of the many proofs with which the reply abounds.
After panegyrising the character of Job Scott in terms of the highest praise, the author adds, "It is the valuable influence of such an example, that thy letter is calculated to destroy." This unfounded calumny is suitably graced with a note of admiration, with the evident design to convey the idea that the reputation of Job Scott is assailed by Luke Howard, whereas the reader, who will examine his letter will find, that it breathes throughout, a high regard and esteem for the character of his deceased friend, and whenever he found it his duty to dissent from his opinions, he has expressed that dissent in a mild and respectful manner.
In page 4, of his letter, speaking of the temperament of Job Scott's mind, L. Howard says -- "There was certainly in the character of this dear friend, a perceptible excess on the side of the imagination and the feelings. This had been the case with many good and useful men before him: and such a temperament, makes a minister faithful, or courageous and energetic in the discharge of duty, but in measure disqualifies him from being a competent judge of doctrine and controversies." In this delineation of the cast of Job Scott's mind, and the remarks which follow it, we discover nothing that indicates a disposition on the part of L. Howard to injure the reputation of his friend -- it is expressed in mild and becoming language, and yet the author of the reply distorts it into a violent attack upon the character of J.S. He garbles his extract, by omitting all those parts which we have italicized, and after asserting that it is this excess on the side of the imagination and feelings which constitutes "a fanatic," he coolly proceeds to accuse L. Howard of styling Job Scott "a fanatic," "an incompetent judge and unworthy of credit," and of ranking him in the same class with the Anabaptists of Munster, or the rioters of London under Lord Gordon.
It is only necessary for us to hint at such unfairness -- every honourable mind must at once turn from it with disgust -- it is so palpable, so odious, that it is best left to stand forth in its own naked deformity. But the author of the reply while he vilifies the character of L. Howard for the harmless sentiment, that Job Scott evinced an excess on the side of the imagination and the feelings, and represents this among his attempts to degrade the character of a deceased minister, appears willing enough to admit that such was the temperament of the great Apostle Paul, and to allow that "an ardent imagination and warm feelings on religious subjects, when governed and regulated by the Holy Spirit, are no impediments to religious growth and usefulness -- on the contrary, they fit the instrument for more extensive and productive labour in the Lord's vineyard." To us, therefore, it appears clear that the author of the reply is inconsistent with himself; and in his anxiety to eulogise Job Scott, has virtually done the very same thing for which he so severely censures Luke Howard.
An instance of the great want of candour which is evident throughout the reply, occurs on page 8. After quoting some expressions from the memorial of Providence Monthly Meeting, respecting Job Scott, the author says, "Can we suppose this would have been the case, if his labours and conduct had been marked by a fanatical spirit; or if thou prefers the terms, by a perceptible excess on the side of the imagination and the feelings." Here is an attempt to make these terms synonymous, and to insinuate that L. Howard really believed and said, that Job Scott's labours and conduct were marked by a fanatical spirit. But the author's construction is unfair, and no such inference can justly be drawn from any part of L. H's letter. If every degree of excess on the side of the imagination and the feelings, evince a fanatical spirit, or constitute a man a fanatic, there are few men who, at some period of their lives, would not merit the epithet.
The "Friend in America," after quoting from the Letter of Luke Howard, a circumstance which is introduced merely to elucidate his meaning, says, "In this paragraph, Job Scott is compared to an ignorant hired servant, who had to follow his master through the streets of London, in which crowded metropolis he had never been before, and who was so stupid as to think the passing multitude ought all to get out of his master's way." In the letter of Luke Howard no such comparison of Job Scott exists. The words "ignorant, stupid and hired servant," which the "Friend" has italicised, do not occur in the paragraph which he represents as so obnoxious. The application of them to Job Scott is not made by Luke Howard, but by the "Friend" himself, and to him therefore belongs "the lightness of spirit," and the "disposition, by a degrading comparison, to propagate the idea that Job Scott was an ignorant man." -- And what is yet worse, to the "Friend in America," belongs the odium which honest men will ever attach to the man, who attributes to an author, language which he never wrote, and misrepresents his sentiments, with the obvious intention of lessening him in the estimation of his friends.
On page 6 of Luke Howard's Letter he says -- "I shall strive not to make this letter the vehicle of improper thoughts, by quoting expressions which could not be read, I think, in a mixed company of Friends of both sexes, without bringing confusion over some of their faces; but I must specify enough, (and I may as well do it at once) to make myself intelligible." If the reader will reflect for a moment, that the subject of Job Scott's Essay on Salvation, is a generation, conception, and birth, "as real as any in nature," this apology of Luke Howard's will at once appear proper and becoming -- and yet the unfriendliness, of the "Friend in America," has converted it into a charge, "that Job Scott was a man of gross indelicate character." The reply recites only the first part of the sentence, and after the word "quote," the author has inserted the words "from the essay entitled Salvation by Christ, which are not in the letter of L. Howard.
Near the bottom of page 11, the "Friend" says, "Having briefly noticed the charges of fanaticism, ignorance, and indelicacy preferred against Job Scott," &c. &c. The reader will be surprised to find on perusing the letter of L. Howard, that it contains none of these words, nor are any such charges against Job Scott to be found in it; -- they are wholly gratuitous, the mere invention of the "Friend in America," and if preferred at all against Job Scott, it must be by him only, and he, not Luke Howard, is accountable for them.
In page 3 of his letter, speaking of Job Scott, L. Howard says, "Having heard him preach with much power and energy, when he was in England on that occasion, I was interested (I remember) and affected by the circumstances of his death in Ireland soon afterward; and the regard I have cherished for his memory, makes me a little concerned in his religious reputation. Had he lived to near the present time, (as he might have done in the course of nature;) and left his manuscripts revised for publication, I suppose no one could have complained that justice was not done to him by the appearance of the present pamphlet;" viz. Salvation by Christ, &c. It is clearly apparent from this paragraph, that Luke Howard was attached to Job Scott as a powerful energetic preacher, that he was much affected by his unexpected death in the very prime of life, and that the regard which he cherished for the memory of his deceased friend, excited feelings of interest in his religious reputation, which induced him to believe that injustice had been done to Job Scott's memory by the publication of his manuscripts. The former part of the paragraph is quoted by the author of the reply, in order to raise a doubt as to its correctness, and to insinuate that L. H. would have spoken more truly if he had said he was little concerned about Job Scott's religious reputation. The malignity of this insinuation will be sufficiently apparent from a perusal of the Letter itself. We need only remark, that the "Friend in America" with his usual probity, has mutilated the sentence, by changing the present tense "makes" for the perfect "made," and altering "in" to "for;" thus materially changing the sense, and restricting the interest which L. H. felt in the religious reputation of his deceased friend, to the time of Job Scott's visit in England, whereas it is his intention to inform his readers that he now feels that interest, and is concerned at the appearance of the Essay written by Job Scott, from a belief that if J. S. had lived he would not have published it as it now appears, and probably not at all.
On page 12 of the Reply, the "Friend in America" attempts to quote the passage in which L. H. expresses this sentiment; viz. "Had he lived to near the present time, (as he might have done in the course of nature) and left his manuscripts revised for publication, I suppose no one could have complained that justice was not done to him by the appearance of the present pamphlet: but my own decided opinion, after mature consideration, is, that he never would have published it as it now appears, nor probably at this time of day at all." The "Friend in America" is so great an adept at garbling, that he scarcely quotes a single sentence correctly. In the one we have just recited, he omits all the parts which are in italics, and changes "consideration" into "deliberation." The reason for the omission is in this instance very obvious to those who are acquainted with the manner in which the pamphlet of Job Scott was published; the omitted sentence of Luke Howard's administers a merited rebuke to the officiousness of those who were the procurers of its publication. That Luke Howard is correct in his opinion that Job Scott would never have printed the Essay as it now appears, is evident from the language of a letter dictated by him on his death bed, shortly before his close. He says in it, "On the ocean I wrote over about a quire of paper which I believe is now in my trunk at John Eliot's, which I was ever a good deal doubtful whether some parts of it, not particularly upon these points, were not more in a way of abstruse reasoning than might be best for a friend to publish; be that as it [may,] I am very apprehensive that most of my writings are far from properly digested, and some of them, I believe, might be a good deal better guarded." Again, "I think some parts of my journal abound too much with a repetition of similar exercises, services, trials, and favours, when on religious visits. In this respect I have steadily had an intention of making very considerable abridgments; several other things in the Journal, also require a very careful review. I have no wish any thing of mine should appear in print, but from a probability of usefulness: I have thought a considerable part of the Journal might be in some degree useful to some minds, but I submit all to the careful inspection, correction, and determination of my friends." These expressions evince beyond a doubt, that at the solemn period in which they were written, as well as previously to it, the mind of Job Scott was far from being satisfied with the manner in which he had treated some subjects in his doctrinal Essays -- he was himself "ever doubtful whether it was not more in the way of abstruse reasoning than might be best for a friend to publish." -- Knowing that such were the sentiments of his deceased friend, Luke Howard remarks, (and we apprehend every real well-wisher to the character of Job Scott and to the welfare of the Society of Friends, will concur in the opinion,) "the yearly meeting of New England, therefore, or its committee, did certainly evince both a prudent care and due regard for his reputation, and that of our religious society, in so long declining to sanction this piece."
It should be observed particularly in the letter of Job Scott, that he submits all his writings to the careful inspection, correction, and determination of his friends. He was a friend to discipline and to order, and he knew that the established usage and discipline of the Society required they should be so submitted, and we fully believe he would have been one of the last persons who would have attempted to publish any of them, contrary to the order of the Society, or without the advice and full consent of his brethren. His Essay on the Necessity and Authority of the Discipline of the Church, is a full voucher for this sentiment. It has been recently printed in this city, and we would respectfully recommend all the admirers of Job Scott to give it a careful perusal. In accordance with his dying expressions, the Essay on Salvation by Christ was submitted to the inspection of his friends of the yearly meetings of New England, New York, and Philadelphia; and after a careful examination they determined that it was not expedient to publish it. But since the days of Job Scott, a spirit of insubordination has unhappily seized some discontented members of the Society, and in violation of its order, as well as in opposition to the plain import of his dying expressions, they have brought it before the public, though the author himself tells them, it is "far from being properly digested."
The essay contains much abstruse matter, and doctrine which the Society of Friends never held or published, and as it is before the public, it is fairly open to criticism and refutation. The "American Friend," in page 53 of his letter, says, that "free inquiry is "one of the most sacred rights of a disciple of Christ," and he should therefore be the last person, by a course of unfounded calumnies, and injurious misrepresentations, to attempt "to frighten us from the use of it." In the "exercise of this sacred right," Luke Howard has written his Letter, reviewing some parts of Job Scott's Essay, and has adduced some irrefragable arguments against the doctrine which it teaches; and without answering one of these arguments, the "Friend" assails him with angry invective, merely for doing that which the "Friend" himself querulously and importunately claims the privilege of doing.
One other instance of garbling we shall adduce, as it is preeminently glaring. On page 43, our "Friend in America" pretends to give a quotation from L. Howard, but to aid him in misrepresenting it, has omitted all those parts which we put in italics, viz. "And, when, with unimpeachable integrity, and unquestionable piety, I see joined, in many whom I know of other denominations, a lively concern, and diligent endeavour to spread the knowledge of Christ, [here the "Friend" invidiously puts in "book knowledge"] to promote, (what I hope no member of our Society will deny to be of great importance, and of great probable future utility to mankind) the reception and perusal of the Holy Scriptures, [by means of Bible Societies is inserted] when I am obliged to admit, on certain evidence, that these labours have been blessed, and have succeeded to the turning of many to righteousness, Dan. xii.3, who before were dark, ignorant of the true God, and Jesus Christ, whom he hath sent, sensual and unprincipled; when I behold these things, in which we as a body have taken hitherto so little part, I own I feel for the Christian character and reputation of that part of the visible professing church on earth to which I belong." We merely quote the passage to shew the alterations which it has undergone in the hands of the American Friend: the observations which he makes upon it are too insignificant in their import to call forth any answer.
It is to be supposed that the author of the Reply has quoted from Luke Howard, the passages which he considers as most offensive, and we would now ask every candid reader whether they breathe a spirit at all analogous to that which the "Friend in America" attributes to him, or whether they merit "the intemperate and scurrilous language" (to use his own terms) which, in the plenitude of his charity, he has so liberally bestowed upon him. We are satisfied that every candid examiner will concur with us in the sentiment that the letter from Luke Howard is respectfully and temperately written, and under a feeling of regard for private character, in which particulars it forms a striking contrast with the Reply.
To show that the opinion and feelings of Luke Howard in relation to Job Scott, were the reverse of those which are attributed to him by the "Friend in America," we quote the following paragraph from page 18, of L. H.'s letter: viz.
"Let it not be thought, that in thus meeting the author of this piece, or rather the piece itself, as unceremoniously as it comes, (though there is more that is exceptionable left unnoticed,) I am actuated by any degree of hostility towards the memory or character of this deceased Friend. Truth, and above all, "the very Truth of God," as he has expressed it, is too precious a thing to be deserted by its advocate, were it even certain that he would lose all his friends (in this world) by defending it: the author himself would have joined me in this conclusion. I believe him to have been a very sincere and spiritually minded man, a fervent, and in some respects, a useful and effectual preacher, and a good example in life and conversation. With the strong perception which he seems to have had of some doctrinal errors of others, (such as the Antinomians, who probably came frequently in his way,) I think it quite probable that with further humbling experience of the power of Truth, and further opportunities of conference with his equals, he might have come to see and correct his own. That with all these strange notions about the manner of salvation, he was enabled, through the mercy of God in Jesus Christ, and the sanctifying efficacy of the Holy Spirit, to experience (through faith) the thing itself, is what I entertain no doubt of. And here I trust I may safely leave him and conclude the subject."
From personal invective against L. Howard, the author of the Reply turns to more general crimination, and arrays a long catalogue of charges against the Society of Friends. He accuses them of adopting an outward and carnal scheme of redemption, with receding from genuine Quakerism in doctrine and practice, and approaching what are called the reformed churches, &c. &c. All this is the stale and long repeated tale which disaffected members have so often raised against the Society, and it has now become so common, and is so well understood, as to be scarcely worthy of notice. It should however be known that all these accusations originate from the fact, that the Society of Friends, or that part of it at which they are levelled, steadily refuse to acknowledge or adopt the fashionable doctrines of Unitarianism. They have ever held, and professed from their first formation, the Holy Scripture doctrines of the Three which bear record in heaven, as set forth by the Apostle John, the divinity and manhood of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, his propitiatory sacrifice on the Cross for the sins of mankind, and the authenticity, genuineness, and divine authority of the Holy Scriptures. It is because they cannot conscientiously recede from these most blessed doctrines that they are calumniated by the pretended "Friend in America;" -- because they continue to declare, with their early founders, in the language of their learned apologist Barclay, that they are very willing all their doctrines and practices should be tried by the Scriptures, and that whatsoever is contrary thereto be reckoned and accounted a delusion of the devil; because in religious controversies they never refuse to acknowledge them as the judge and test of doctrines, they are accounted unworthy of the name of Quakers; and yet such is the doctrine of the primitive Friends, and such the language which the Society has ever held.
Against that portion of the Society who reside in England, and especially those ministers who have visited this land, the author of the Reply seems peculiarly exasperated. He charges them with holding and preaching an outward and carnal scheme of redemption; yet they preach no other scheme of redemption than that which was ushered in by Jesus Christ of Nazareth, promulgated by his holy Apostles, and reverently believed and upheld by sincere christians of all ages -- that scheme which is so clearly pourtrayed in the sacred volume. They accuse the most active members in the Society, of having "mournfully lapsed in doctrine and practice from the example of our primitive friends," and yet they set an example of integrity, of justice in the payment of debts, of disinterested, active and useful benevolence, which is worthy the imitation of this "Friend in America" and many of his fellows, who like him, delight to rail against English Friends.
The "Friend in America" charges them, moreover, with forming a coalition with the nobility, gentry and clergy of England, with conferring flattering titles, &c. &c. But he has involved himself in an inconsistency by asserting a little after, that this very clergy, with whom he says Friends are coalescing, and on whom, in token of their good will, they are bestowing these flattering titles, "annually extort from the little community of Friends" about seventy thousand dollars! These statements do not tally well. Is it usual, we would ask, for men to be so cordial with their oppressors? -- So anxious of approaching them and joining their Society, or to address them with epithets of praise? We think not. -- With whatever patience, the christian forbearance of Friends in England may induce them to suffer; the "Friend in America" has given ample proof that he is not made up of such charitable materials -- the waspish temper, the angry vindictiveness, which he has shewn in his pamphlet, induce us to fear, that with all his pretensions to regeneration, and love, and charity, he would not take very joyfully or patiently the spoiling of his goods for Christ's sake. But perhaps the ingenuity of the "Friend" will suggest, that Friends in England practice the species of fawning which he so unjustly charges them with, in the hope of procuring a diminution of their pecuniary exactions. We almost admire that in his "amazing fecundity" of aspersions, he did not bring forth this charge. Yet we could meet him, even here, by the plain fact, that the amount of distraints from Friends for ecclesiastical demands has been increasing for many years; and it is still more highly improbable, that generation after generation would continue to fawn and flatter when the only reward they received was an increase of oppression.
The insinuations of the "Friend in America" against the characters of those dedicated ministers of the gospel of Christ, who have left their native country, their homes and beloved families, without the hope or the wish for any other reward than that peace which results from the faithful discharge of religious duty, and have crossed the ocean at the peril of their lives to visit their brethren in America, and to preach among them the unsearchable riches of Christ, are at once groundless and ungenerous. Their fervent labours of love, their zeal and devotedness in the service of their divine Master,and their christian charity, are so many triumphant refutations of the "Friend's" calumnies. The assertion that there exists a "marked difference between the temper and conduct of some of our late visitors, and those who, during the preceding forty years, laboured among us," is entirely gratuitous -- the difference is in the hearers, in the visited, not in the visitors. The defection of many of those from the ancient faith of the gospel, their unwillingness to hear such as still inquire for, and walk in, the good old paths, have greatly prejudiced their minds against our brethren in England, who are remarkably preserved in unity of faith and doctrine. This prejudice has shewn itself in a manner disgraceful indeed -- the treatment which some of the visitors have received from some of the visited, from whom, even the loveliness and excellence of the female character has ceased to command the kindness and respect which even uncivilised nations have paid it, is such as must bring confusion and shame upon the face of every well bred citizen. It is a stain upon our character, as a well educated and hospitable people!
The author of the Reply seems to entertain no idea that his readers will inquire for the truth -- he appears to have anticipated an implicit reliance upon his unsupported ipse dixit. Hence, disregarding plain facts, with the doctrinal treatises of the society staring him in the face with direct contradiction, he roundly asserts, that "the atonement as preached by Fox, Penn, Whitehead, Pennington, and the great body of Friends in their day, was not an outward atonement, but an inward and spiritual one, to be accomplished in the soul of every candidate for salvation." The truth of this charge against the early Quakers we positively deny, and we could adduce, if time and space permitted us, ample proof of its falsity. We refer our readers, however, to the "Defence of the Christian Doctrines of the Society of Friends," against this and many other similar aspersions, in which they will find a full vindication of the Society. With the same disregard to truth, the "Friend" asserts, that "the Scriptures have always been considered by Friends, not the word of God, nor the words of God," &c. In proof of the incorrectness of this, we refer him to George Fox's letter to the Governor of Barbadoes, in the second volume of his Journal, page 147, where he says, "We believe the Holy Scriptures are the words of God, for it is said in Exodus xxi.1, God spake all these words, saying, &c. meaning the ten commandments given forth upon Mount Sinai. And in Revelations, xxii.18, saith John, 'I testify to every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this Book, if any man addeth unto these, and if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy," (not the word) &c. So in Luke, i.20. 'Because thou believest not my words.' And in John v.47. xiv.23. xii.47, So that we call the Holy Scriptures, as Christ, the apostles, and holy men of God called them, viz. THE WORDS OF GOD."
We could point out, were it necessary, many other derelictions from the truth; but we have already said enough to show that the assertions contained in the letter of the "Friend in America," are not to be relied upon. We shall now take a concise view of the scheme of regeneration which the author advocates. The following is his expose of it.
"By what has been said, it appears that the new birth of the Scriptures is two fold; the one, a birth of the soul into a spiritual state. This is that spoken of by Christ to Nicodemus. The other is a birth of the Holy Spirit into the soul, and is that of the apostle in the text alluded to, as well as in divers other places, as in Rom. viii.10. Gal. ii.10. Ephes. iii.17 &c."
It will be perceived, from this extract, that the "Friend in America" makes two births, and presently after he asserts them to be allegorical; in both which particulars, he is at issue with the author whom he attempts to explain, for Job Scott insists upon one birth only, and that not allegorical but real, "as real a birth as is our first birth, or birth into the world," "as perfect a reality as any in nature." Not "a birth of the soul into a spiritual state," or "a birth of the Holy Spirit into the soul," but "a babe of life," "a true child of God," which "is never brought forth, but through the union of the two seeds, human and divine." Such is Job Scott's birth, and if the author is correct in asserting, that his two-fold birth, is "the new birth of the Scriptures," then it will follow that Job Scott's is unscriptural -- both of them cannot be scriptural. Now, Job Scott says, that his theory is "the very truth of God," therefore, the notions of the "Friend in America," as they are entirely different, must be in error. Thus, we see that the very masters of this new scheme disagree with, and contradict each other, and are involved in the same confusion and error which they charge upon the Trinitarians.
The "Friend in America" explains his two mystical births as meaning, first, the process of regeneration, in which, "by obedience and submission to the gentle intimations of the Holy Spirit, that grace of God which has appeared unto all men, the soul receives new powers, new perceptions, new senses; and this is called a new birth," and "in the early stage of its religious progress, it may very properly be called a babe of life," &c.
"The other allegorical birth," says the "Friend," "is that of the primitive Quakers Christ within. It is alluded to by the apostle, Gal. iv.19, My little children, with whom I travail in birth, until Christ be formed in you." In this text two alterations are made, viz. the word "with" is substituted for "of," and the word "again" omitted after "birth:" if we restore it to the correct reading, we shall find that it will destroy the "Friends" forced construction of the passage. "In this passage," proceeds the "Friend," "the Holy Spirit, and its work in the soul are likened to an embryo not perfectly formed; the Galatians are compared to mothers, and the apostle expresses a lively interest in them as such." Let us pause a moment in this confusion of embryos, and mothers, and births, and endeavour to unravel the maze. First, we have the new birth by the Holy Spirit, in which the soul receives new powers, &c. Here the soul is the babe of life, and the Holy Spirit is the mother -- in the second birth, the soul, the babe, becomes mother, mother too, of its mother, and the Holy Spirit is now born of the soul. But, says the learned "Friend," by this second or other birth, the Holy Spirit is born into the soul; yet surely the Holy Spirit must have been in the soul, or rather the soul in it, before the first birth could have been perfected. It appears also, from the "Friends" notions, that even babes are mothers, and this too while in embryo, for, says he, the Galatians are compared to mothers, while both the Holy Spirit and its work in the soul, which observe is the first birth, were not yet perfectly formed -- here are embryos the mothers of other embryos. At the very time too, that these embryo Galatians were becoming the mothers of the Holy Spirit, (itself in embryo) the apostle Paul was acting the part of a mother to them, and travailing in birth with them. Such are the ridiculous and absurd consequences of the "Friends" scheme of two births; and such are some of the absurdities which men of weak minds run themselves into, when they seek to appear wise above what is written, and meddle with subjects which lie beyond their powers. The whole scheme is one so irrational, so contrary to all analogy and common sense, that we should suppose no person in his sober senses would ever think of adopting it. The terms "being born again," as used by our blessed Lord, beautifully illustrate the necessity of our experiencing a thorough change of heart -- a submission to the regenerating influences of the Holy Spirit, by which our perverse wills are subjected to the will of God, our corrupt propensities purified, our earthly desires and affections converted into heavenly tempers and dispositions, in a word, by which the new or spiritual creation is effected, and all things become of God. This we take to be the plain and simple meaning of the passage, which the "Friend" has distorted until his notions bear scarcely any marks either of reason or scripture.
Of the general tendency of the doctrines contained in the Reply, we have only to remark, that they appear to us to strike at the very basis of Christianity, and to be calculated, under pretensions of great sanctity and spirituality, to destroy a belief in the Holy Scriptures, and in the divinity and propitiation of our blessed Lord.
When we commenced our remarks, we had no intention of replying to all those parts of the "Friend's" letter which are open to animadversion. We have only touched upon a few of them; but we apprehend we have said enough to show that it is a tissue of misrepresentation and calumny, and instead of being, as it purports, a reply to Luke Howard, is merely the vehicle for propagating unsound and visionary notions, and for venting the spleen of a party against Friends in England and America, who steadfastly adhere to the ancient doctrines of the Christian religion, as professed by the Society from its beginning.