Our attention has been called to a work, entitled Salvation by Christ, written by that eminent minister of the Gospel Job Scott, who died in the year 1793 at Ballitore, in Ireland, having crossed the ocean on a religious visit.
Job Scott's Journal was subsequently published, with the sanction of his friends at home, and widely circulated; and we believe has been useful to many. Its author was favored with a clear insight into the spiritual nature of true religion, and into the necessity of that change of heart of which our Savior spoke to Nicodemus, when he told him, that unless a man was born again, he could not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Some of his religious exercises were of an unusual character; and he wrote feelingly of what had been opened to him in the visions of light, and what his own hands had handled of the Word of Life.
Besides his journal, he left in manuscript this treatise on Salvation by Christ; part of which appears to have been written on the ocean, during his voyage to Great Britain. His own view of his writings is shown in a letter to his family, dictated from the bed of death, a few days before his decease. In this, he says, "I was ever a good deal doubtful whether some parts ... 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. Our views of things do not usually open all at once; it is so in the individual, it is so in the world." After mentioning his intention, if he had lived, of "making very considerable abridgments" in his Journal, and his judgment that some things in it "require a very careful review," he concludes this subject by saying, "I submit all to the careful inspection, correction and determination of my friends."
In accordance with this dying request, the manuscripts of Job Scott were examined by the Meeting for Sufferings of New England, where his residence had been, and the Journal, as before stated, was published, with some abridgment. As respects the treatise on Salvation by Christ, its publication or suppression was felt to be so weighty a matter, that Friends of New England asked the advice of the Meeting for Sufferings of New York and of Philadelphia. The result of these deliberations on the part of these three representative bodies was, that it was not best to print the treatise; and in accordance with the discipline of the Society, it was laid aside. This was towards the close of last century. The minutes of Philadelphia Meeting for Sufferings of 2d mo. 16th, 1798, speak of receiving from New England Meeting for Sufferings two manuscripts, and a request for their judgment "respecting the fitness or expediency of their publication."
The manuscripts were referred for examination to a solid committee, several of whom are still remembered with great esteem as having been faithful laborers in their day in the cause of their Divine Master. We believe at least four of the number crossed the ocean on religious visits to their brethren in Europe. The members of this committee were Samuel Emlen, Oliver Paxson, Joseph Bringhurst, William Wilson, Jonathan Evans, David Bacon, Nicholas Waln, James Emlen, David Evans, James Cresson, and Samuel Smith. The committee reported about two months afterwards, that the publication of the work did not seem to them expedient; and the meeting concurring in this judgment, the clerk was directed to convey this information to New England Friends.
The manuscripts seems to have lain undisturbed for about a quarter of a century; but in the discussions that preceded the separation caused by the rejection of the doctrine of the atonement and divinity of Jesus Christ, it was brought to light and published in Philadelphia, in defiance of the established order and discipline of the Society of Friends. This was in 1824; and the following extract from the minutes of Philadelphia Meeting for Sufferings of 9th mo. 17th of that year, will show the concern thereby caused to Friends:
"Some MSS written by Job Scott having by his direction, a little before his decease, been submitted to the judgment and determination of the Meeting for Sufferings in New England, and that meeting having many years since furnished the Meeting for Sufferings in New York and this meeting with one styled 'Salvation by Christ,' &c., which, after deliberate consideration, having been disapproved of by those three several meetings--this meeting when last together was informed, that by some means a copy had been obtained, a person not in membership with Friends procured as the ostensible editor, and a book with various alterations had been printed in this city, as the work of Job Scott; in the preface to which are placed extracts of minutes purporting to be from the records of the Meeting for Sufferings in New England. This meeting was brought under much concern and exercise, that a writing which on solid consideration had been judged improper to be exposed, should through the agency of any Friend, and by the aid of subscriptions of members of our Society, be spread to the public at large, gave the subject in charge to a committee, to use endeavors for discovering by what means this violation of the good order of our Discipline had been made: and the Meeting for Sufferings in New England having been previously exercised with a like concern and care, had also appointed a committee with directions adapted to the same end, as appears by the following minute forwarded to us, showing that the subject still claims their weighty attention."
The Minute from New England here referred to, mentions the directions given by Job Scott, submitting his writings to "the careful inspection, correction and determination" of his Friends; and says, that a committee of their body, to whom had been referred the fact of this irregular publication, do not find that any correction of these pieces was ever made by this meeting, or by any committee acting under its direction."
The next issue of this treatise, with which we have met, was in the collected works of Job Scott published in 1830, after the separation above alluded to had been effected. This was edited by John Comly, perhaps the most influential member of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting that took part in that secession. Whether this was a reprint of the edition of 1824, in which the Minute of the Meeting for Sufferings states "various alterations" had been made from the original text, we are not informed; neither do we know whether the alterations spoken of affected the meaning of the author or not.
Within a few years, a Friend in England has published an edition for private circulation, reprinted from that of 1830. This has been sent abroad among many of our members in this country, particularly in Iowa; and this circumstance has called forth the present review of the history of the book.
While we give credit to the recent publisher for an honest desire to promote the spiritual interests of others, we think the publication of a doctrinal work, which, after due examination by the Representative Bodies of three Yearly Meetings, was decided to be not adapted for popular use, is not consistent with good order and proper respect for the discipline of our Society. It is probable, however, that the Friend who last issued it, was not aware of its previous history.
The question will naturally occur to our readers: "on what grounds did Friends 80 years ago decide not to print this treatise?" Without presuming to speak positively as to the reasons which influenced them, an examination of the book itself shows sufficient cause to believe that their judgment was correct.
The openings of Divine Truth on his mind, and his own religious experience, had given Job Scott very strong and decided views as to the deceptive character of a hope of salvation founded on anything that did not include a practical experience of the work of Christ inwardly revealed, and that transformation of heart which is effected through submission to his Divine Spirit. In this treatise, he enforces this sound and fundamental doctrine with great earnestness and with ample illustration and reiteration. His mind had been strongly impressed with the analogy between the outward birth, experience and sufferings of our Savior, and this inward work of the spiritual birth through the operation of the Lord's power, the death unto sin by the crucifixion of the spirit of self, and the quickenings of Divine Life.
Though the extent to which he carries out his analogy, illustration or comparison, may seem extreme, yet in the main his doctrine is in accordance with the teachings of Scripture, and with the spiritual views of the work and way of salvation repeatedly published to the world by our Society. Yet as a treatise on this subject, it is incomplete. It does not clearly bring to view the atoning sacrifice of our Savior (in which Job Scott was a firm believer), and the reason is evident--he was writing to those who were already grounded in that doctrine, but who were in danger of resting their hopes on what Christ had done without them, without knowing or looking for his work in their hearts, without which the other will not avail to their salvation. Hence, with all his power, he pressed on their attention this inward work as that which they especially needed to heed.
It must be remembered that the treatise is an unfinished work. It is the first rough draft, written in the heat of composition, and with no opportunity for revision. It contains expressions capable of double interpretation, and is not properly balanced. Job Scott's own judgment in regard to his writings, is undoubtedly applicable to it--that it is "far from properly digested," and "might be a good deal better guarded." It is not doing justice to the cause of Truth, or to the memory of one who was a useful laborer in the Lord's vineyard, to spread before the public unfinished and undigested writings, even though these may contain many sound truths. It is a violation of the last request of the author, who submitted them "to the careful inspection, correction and determination" of his friends.
We have said that Job Scott was a firm believer in the atoning sacrifice of our Savior. This is evidenced by several passages in his writings and Journal, written on various occasions, and being the outpourings of his heart. In a farewell salutation to his wife on leaving home on one of his religious visits, he says:
"He [the Lord] knows why he commands me hence; And let his will be done; I trust he'll be thy sure defense, And save thee through his Son. His Son has died for thy offense, For mine he gave his life."
In a letter to his wife, written from Baltimore in 1789, he speaks of "Christ, our holy head, who on the cross submitted to the will divine, and through a perfect death to all that death could seize on, conquered even death; yea, burst its bands; broke through the very grave; and after all his pains and toils, ascended up on high, where now he intercession makes for man, and will sufficient aid supply to every willing mind, to combat Satan in the field of fight."
In a letter to his wife's sister, Remember Anthony, to whom he was greatly attached, he says:
"Though Jesus has once passed through it all, and trod the wine press alone, he has not thereby exempted us from the like baptisms. On the contrary, he queried with those who seemed desirous to sit with him in his kingdom, 'Are ye able to drink of the cup that I drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?' These are the terms still. It is true, remission of sins that are past, is only through his blood; but as to actual sanctification, it is they only who suffer with him that can reign with him."
From a treatise On the Knowledge of the Lord, we extract the following: "True it is, 'If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, who is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world'; but this advocacy and propitiation does not exempt us from the necessity of daily self-denial, and real inward holiness, else Christ would be a cloak for our sins, whereas he himself testifies, that if he 'had not come and done the works which none other man did,' the people would not have had sin, 'but now they have no cloak for their sin.' He died, not that we might sin with impunity, but that we should henceforth not serve sin, nor live unto ourselves, but unto him that died for us. Through the mercy of God in Christ, we have, upon true faith and repentance, remission of past sins, and this holds as long and as often as upon any slip, deviation or shortcoming, we lay hold on our propitiation, by true faith and real unfeigned repentance; and this remission is without respect of persons, as elect or reprobate from eternity. He tasted death for every man, and is the fountain of propitiation for all. 'He that will come may come and partake of the waters of life freely, without money and without price.' We have none of us, as men, anything wherewith to pay the price of remission of sins; if we have it, we must have it freely; it is an act of free grace and pardon, but is not bestowed on those who continue sinning on, crucifying the Son of God afresh and putting him to open shame."
Near the conclusion of the same treatise, Job Scott speaks of the condition of him who is made clean through the power of Christ: "This is the blessed man to whom the Lord will not impute sin; no, he forgives his sins. Here is the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance and mercy of God in Christ; here his former sins are covered, as it were, or blotted out or passed by; here he is reconciled to God by the death of his Son; the mighty, immense score of his old sins, however formidable, is not equal to the love of God in Christ, and so is not suffered to prevent his being saved by the life of Christ. Indeed, every soul that is saved, is saved by his life inwardly revealed; for though the reconciliation to God in regard to past offenses is, and must be by the death of Christ, and that not without our being buried with him by baptism into real death to sin, filling up what remains behind of his sufferings, yet the joy of God's salvation is only known in and by the life of Christ in man, Christ in us, the hope of glory."
We have extended these extracts from Job Scott to considerable length (though without exhausting the evidences his writings furnish of his faith in Christ), because we have feared that the effect of the book we have been reviewing would be, in some cases, to lead its readers to a one-sided view of the work of salvation, to so confine their thoughts to the internal work of the Spirit as to lead them to undervalue the atoning efficacy of the offering on Calvary. The Society of Friends from the beginning has borne testimony to the necessity of both the outward and the inward work of Christ; and we greatly desire that it may ever be preserved faithful to this testimony.
John Banks, speaking for himself and his brethren, in 1704, says: "We are no such people as to our faith in Christ, as some ignorantly, and others hatefully have rendered us; as though we only or wholly depended upon the Light within, for salvation to our souls, and did not own or believe in Christ, as to his coming, death, resurrection, ascension, &c., and the benefit we and all true believers have thereby.
"But blessed, praised and magnified be the worthy name of the Lord our God forever, who hath opened our understandings by his power, whereby we know him in whom we do believe; which is not to believe in the light within, distinct from Christ; or as if people could believe in the light and not in Christ. But we believe in both, as one, knowing and being clear in our understanding, that no separation can be made between Christ and the light that comes from Him. . . . We as truly believe in that same Christ who laid down his body, and took it up again, as in his light within, and we have benefit to salvation by the one as well as the other, and of both, they being one, and are willing to lay hold of every help and means God, in and through Jesus Christ, has ordained for our salvation."
Appeared in the Philadelphia Friend (a periodical of the Orthodox branch), Vol. LIV, No. 43, pp. 342-344.