Vindication of, and Motives for Publishing, being a Reply to an Article in Philadelphia "Friend"
My notice having been called by several Friends to a leading article in Philadelphia Friend, of 6th Mo. 4th, 1881, respecting Job Scott's treatise on "Salvation by Christ"--the sum and substance of which was to justify its suppression, and thereby to censure my publication of it--I immediately wrote the following reply, by way of defense, to the editors of that Journal--begging them most urgently to print my answer in their next issue. I argued, as they had given one side of the question, and that very fully, it was only just and fair that the other side should be heard also, by their own readers, so that the remedy might be as broad as the injury done to my cause--for having circulated over a thousand copies, my readers might begin to doubt Job Scott's truths, or their authenticity.
I therefore entreated them to be impartial and give me a chance of being heard and tried, and I would be quite willing to leave judgment with their readers.
Journalists, the world over, recognize fair dealing. If they print an article, reflecting on an individual, they will also be just, and print their reply; and if they dissent from the manner or the matter, clear themselves by an editorial note. But this justice seems denied to me. Instead of printing my answer, they select just two short sentences for publication, which favor their article (inserted by me as a confession of faith), and omit all the rest, because it might not uphold their published views on the subject.
Justice being refused, I have no alternative but to publish it myself, and circulate as widely as I can, that my many friends may be confirmed in their belief of Job Scott's wonderful truths--assured of the perfect literal authenticity of his suppressed writings published by me (insinuations to the contrary notwithstanding), and also that I had good grounds and proper motives for bringing them to light--and, as I belong to Orthodox Friends, and have printed and circulated gratis, at a great expense, never having sold a copy--so my aim is not a partisan one, nor my zeal interested.
After my letter of defense, I have added an extract from the Journal of Hugh Judge, a valued and eminent Friend, proving and establishing the very things I have stated in my defense, viz.:
1st. That there was a considerable difference of opinion amongst the Friends appointed to revise Job Scott's writings (of whom he was one), many wishing to publish his "Salvation by Christ."
2nd. That it was authentic and correct, as from the pen of Job Scott.
3rd. That they all believed in the truth of what Job Scott had written on salvation; and
4th. That it was (as I say) on the ground of expediency alone, it was thought best not to publish it at that time; but that the time might come when it would be right to do so.
This extract was sent me only a day or two ago, by a genuine Friend in America, so that it did not influence my defense. He says it is a verbatim copy from Hugh Judge's good sized Journal.
GEORGE PITT MITCHAM, SURREY, England, 27th of 7th Month, 1881
REPLY TO ARTICLE IN PHILADELPHIA "FRIEND"
BERKELEY HOUSE, MITCHAM, SURREY, ENGLAND 18th of 6th Month, 1881
(To the Editors of the Philadelphia "Friend")
DEAR FRIENDS,--My attention has been called to a long leading article in your journal of 6th Mo. 4th, 1881, referring to my publication of Job Scott's Treatise on "Salvation by Christ," which, as it attacks my character as a faithful and consistent Friend, calls forth this my defense, and which, I trust, in fairness to me, you will find space for in your next issue.
It seems somewhat strange, after sending you, on printing my book, an early copy, that more than five years should elapse before any notice is taken of it; and now that you have spoken--you, who seem so well informed about Job Scott, are unable, or do not, impeach the soundness or truth of any of his writings, or the accuracy of my reproduction of them.
A novice, on reading your remarks, might, I think, suppose that these suppressed parts were surreptitiously obtained, and then altered to suit anti-Quaker views. Whereas the fact is, they were voluntarily placed by Job Scott's relatives in John Comly's hands to make a fair copy from, and when he published his complete Works in 1830, from which I reprinted, said, "They were faithfully copied from manuscripts left by the author." He further says, that in the original edition of Job Scott's Journal, published in 1797, by orthodox Friends, and so often reprinted, and supposed to be accurate, that numerous errors were discovered in it, on comparing with the original MSS.
Having cleared the ground thus far, that what I have published of some of his (J.S.'s) suppressed writings are authentic, and that all his writings are admitted sound, I will proceed to give my motive for republishing; but would first observe that the ample Preface I affixed to my reprint is a good answer to the charge of indiscretion you prefer against me, and anyone who desires to see it may have a copy gratuitously on applying to me.
The treatise you refer to, on Salvation, is only a part, about one-half, of my book--the other half being twenty-four extracts from Job Scott's entire Journal, and which are omitted in his Ordinary Journal.
You speak of Job Scott's Treatise on Salvation as a rough draft, chiefly written on his voyage to Great Britain, and unrevised. This, of necessity, was the case, as he died before returning home; but as the very same sentiments on the very same subject repeatedly occur in his earlier writings, which he himself points out; and this treatise on salvation seemed to be a concern resting on him to rewrite his previously scattered ideas in a collected form--and although he did on his death-bed say that his writings might be a good deal better guarded--and were far from properly digested, and that he submitted them to the careful inspection, correction, and determination of his Friends--still in that very same death-bed letter, he gave an emphatic endorsement to what he had written on the subject of "Salvation by Christ"--in these words, viz., "I trust I as firmly believe in the divinity of Christ as any man living: but I have no more belief there are two divinities than two Gods. It is altogether clear to my mind that that one divinity actually became the seed of the woman, and bruised the serpent's head as early as anyone ever witnessed redemption from sin; and is one in the head and all the members, he being like us in all things, except sin. My only hope of salvation is on this ground--nor do I believe there ever has been any other possible way of salvation, but that of a real conception and birth of a divinity IN man. There are several sketches of this doctrine in my Journal."
Again, in a paper written the year before his death, he says: "There are some things in my writings I am persuaded are true in the visions of God, but which many of the wise, even in our Society, cannot receive, so as feelingly to approve and promote. That he had treated some mysteries more openly and differently to anything he had read, but yet he was deeply grounded in them as being the very life and substance of Christianity--indeed of all true religion--and that he was very doubtful whether a suppression of them would not retard, rather than promote, the true knowledge of Christ. He knew many Friends were afraid of the objections of professors, who no doubt would object, as they had always done, to every unfolding of truth. It is time professors of our own fold were aroused, as well as others, for great numbers amongst us can scarcely bear the true undisguised doctrines of the gospel. That times and seasons will come, wherein that which is revealed in the ear, must be proclaimed on the housetop. That he would as soon trust his immortal state upon the profession of deism, as upon the common notions of salvation by Christ! That too few have any clear sense of either what, or where Christ is, and many are ready to quarrel with everything that tends to open the mystery."
Similar remarks by Job Scott I could much extend if space permitted, but these may suffice to show that in his last moments he emphatically endorsed his clear convictions on the subject of salvation, as given in these treatises, and of the propriety of publishing them. If so, the query arises: Were the Friends entrusted to revise them rightly qualified? And, if so, why did they suppress so much of them, and such important parts? I esteem greatly some of the revising Friends; but that there was a division of opinion amongst them, seems inferred by the appeal to three Yearly Meetings. Had I been one of the committee, I should have concurred in their judgment, on the ground of expediency.
Eighty years ago, Hicksite doctrines were gathering force in America, and timid Friends might shun the responsibility of publishing Quaker truths, tending to strengthen the wrong thing. It was expedient for the time to suppress them.
But what came of it? It did not avert the calamity of rending the Society into about equal halves, with a fixed gulf between. It seems to me preposterous that because some Friends of that age thought it undesirable to produce the most searching truths in Job Scott's writings, therefore for all time they should be buried in oblivion. Barclay's Apology is said to be a standard work with Unitarians. Should we therefore suppress it? Certainly not!
The gospel was called a stumbling stone to some, even to those for whom it was specially intended; yet it was proclaimed notwithstanding.
I respect all good discipline and all good Friends in our Society; but where is the discipline and the Society now? Scarce a vestige of discipline remains unchanged, and the Society is in fragments!
If Job Scott, in the very last lines of the very last letter he ever wrote--the death-bed letter before alluded to--could say of it, "Alas! if there is any such thing as the abomination of desolation, it is mournfully seen standing in ours (Society) in almost every part of the countries." If so then, what is it now?
I must serve God rather than men, and in the retrospect of my publication have the greatest satisfaction, and would by no means withdraw any part of it, if I could. Truth will, I know, be justified of her children. As to others, if they steal the children's bread, and abuse it, they must look to the consequences.
What you produce to show Job Scott's faith in the atoning sacrifice of our Savior, I can fully endorse. Of the two editions I have carefully circulated amongst Friends only, is there a single Friend whom it has helped to disbelieve in this important doctrine? I sincerely believe not, and if any think otherwise, I request proof; for thoughts and fancies often try to usurp the place of facts. Had I believed the tendency of it was to engender doubts about the divinity of our blessed Savior, and the efficacy of his sacrifice, I would certainly not have circulated it.
Testimonies of unity with the work have poured in on me from select living Friends whose judgment I respect. Some modern Friends, however, were enraged at me and it. Elders forbade members reading it. Some high in repute burned it. Others called me a Hicksite and Unitarian. When I asked for even a shadow of proof, from anything I had ever written or spoken, they were unable to supply it; but concluded so, because I seldom, if ever, spoke of the outward Christ and his sacrifice. The belief in the divinity of Jesus Christ, and the efficacy of his meritorious offering on the cross, for the sins of all mankind, is the alma mater of my creed, as it is also of all the faithful beloved early Friends. They, too, were repeatedly accused, and very justly too, by the priests and professors of their day, of not preaching up the outward Savior, and what he did without man.
In John Bayly's works, who was a pillar in our Society, may be found a piece he wrote in answer to this common censure.
In all true Quaker writings, or records, we hardly ever find them speak of, or preach up the outward Savior, except as a confession of faith. It cannot be otherwise! Because all Christians only in name, believe in that. The work of a Quaker is to lead people on beyond that, to the more substantial and useful part--to what Jesus Christ, our blessed Savior, is doing, and may do within us.
In fact the inward knowledge should precede the outward. How can we be forgiven till we repent? How can we repent when we do not feel our sins, and are not sorry for them? Who can give us the sense of sin and unworthiness but Christ inwardly revealed? When he does that, then it happens we feel and know the value of that atoning sacrifice of Jesus, while in the prepared body, which produces pardoning love and a repentance not to be repented of.
When I read J.J. Gurney's so widely circulated sermon on the same subject, "Salvation by Christ," I was sad, and sick at heart, and felt: This is the doctrine and state our Society was called and gathered out of, and now, like the dog, we turn to our vomit again. It was like a Quaker sermon reversed. All about the outward Christ. His inward virtue and power was ignored. Fox, Penn, Barclay, Penington, Crisp, and many other Quaker writings answered my experience, as face to face in a glass. I could unite with every paragraph, but in this sermon of Gurney, not a single paragraph had the true Quaker ring. Gurneyism is a defection from Quaker truth, less odious perhaps than Hicksism, but still a heresy quite as decided and defined, and more baneful, because more fashionable and insidious. This Gurney leaven permeates more than nine-tenths of the present orthodox Society the world over.
It being so, I ask: Is it a right time to bury those important truths dwelt on by Job Scott, which are, if accepted, an antidote against this Gurney poison? It is not surely!
Following is the extract from Hugh Judge's Journal, alluded to in the Introduction--he was one of the committee who revised Job Scott's writings, and especially his Salvation by Christ.
DEER CREEK, 1st Mo. 20th, 1829
. . . In the following spring he [Hugh Judge] returned to his son-in-law, Asahel Thomas, at Stillwater; and not long after, as appears from the date, he wrote the following, which he calls a statement of facts:
3rd Mo. 31st, 1829.--I have been repeatedly asked if I knew anything respecting Job Scott's essay, called "Salvation by Christ"; and as its genuineness has been called in question by some, I think it right to give the following statement of facts concerning it. I am, perhaps, the only Friend in the State of Ohio that ever saw it as it came from Job's pen.
When I lived in the city of New York, the Meeting for Sufferings in New England sent that part of Job Scott's journal which is now in use, and the piece above alluded to, to the Meeting for Sufferings in New York, for its examination; and I was a member of that meeting at the time. After giving that attention to the business which is usual, the whole was placed with a large committee, of which I was one. The journal part was soon examined and returned; the Essay on Salvation was retained; and the committee gave close attention to it, examining it very minutely, paragraph by paragraph. It was some time on hand, and I read it so as to become fully acquainted with it in every part. After a full, free, and open discussion, there were a considerable number of Friends of the first standing who wished to have it printed and given to the public; but there were some others who held back; not but that we were all fully united with Job Scott in his views in every part of the essay; the only difficulty with those who held back was the language he used in calling man the mother of Christ. Yet even in this we believed we fully understood him and thought him correct; but some thought the time was not then come to publish it, though it might come when it would be right to have it printed. With this view it was returned to Friends in New England.
Since the essay was published in Philadelphia by Emmor Kimber, a copy has been sent to me; and on carefully reading it, according to the best of my recollection, I do not perceive any change made in any part of it, and believe it is substantially correct as it came from Job Scott's hand. I may further add, that when I was in New York last spring, I had a conference with a few Friends yet living who were on the Committee of the Meeting for Sufferings with myself, and we were of one mind that the printed essay on "Salvation by Christ" is the same that was before the committee in manuscript, and that it is genuine.