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Friends, the adoption and punctual observance of such a line of conduct are not only matters of honest principle, but are truly the consequences of obedience to their inward Guide. It is a fact which the world can scarcely be expected to notice, but which is well known to every experienced Quaker, and will not be denied by any persons who possess an intimate knowledge of the Society, that the very same guiding and governing principle, which leads the sincerehearted and serious among Friends into the practice of universally acknowledged Christian virtues, leads them also into these peculiarities. I am not asserting that such would necessarily be the experience of all persons who endeavour to follow the guidance of the Spirit; nor would I, in any respect, venture to set limits to the sovereignty, freedom, scope, and variety, of divine operation. I assert only that this is our own experience. Such, therefore, being our experience, we cannot but derive from it a strong and satisfactory conviction, that our religious peculiarities appertain to the law of God; for it is certain, that the Spirit of Truth, by whose influence alone men are made truly righteous, and brought into conformity with the divine will, would never lead any of the followers of Jesus into a course of conduct which is not founded on the principles of that law. The inward manifestations of the Spirit are, in themselves, the law of God written on the heart.
I may now proceed to confirm this general argument by more particular observations on the several peculiarities already enumerated; and, in endeavoring to trace the connexion of each of them with the law of God, I shall appeal to the principles of that law, as they are unfolded in the New Testament. For, I consider that it is only under the new and more spiritual dispensation, that the divine law is revealed to us in all its purity and in all its completeness.
ON THE DISUSE OF ALL TYPICAL RITES IN THE WORSHIP
Though it is almost universally allowed among Christians, that, when the New Covenant was established in the world, by the death of Christ, the ceremonies of the Jewish law were abolished, there are two religious rites of a very similar description, the maintenance of which is still very generally insisted upon, as necessary to the edification, and true order, of the church of Christ. These rites are baptism with water, and that participation of bread and wine, which is usually called the sacrament of the Lord's supper. So great is the virtue and efficacy ascribed to these ceremonies, that they are considered, by very many Christians, to be especial means of grace, or mediums through which grace is conveyed to the soul; and not a few theologians, both ancient and modern, appear to have entertained the extraordinary opinion, that the rite of baptism, more especially, is indispensable to salvation.
On the other hand, I am informed that, in some parts of the continent of Europe, there are small societies of pious Christians, by whom water-baptism and the ceremony of the Lord's supper are entirely disused;' and that such is the fact in the Society of Friends is generally understood. It is our belief that we have been led out of the practice of these rites by the Spirit of Truth; that we could not recur to them without grieving our heavenly Monitor; and that, in fact, they are not in accordance with the entire spirituality of the Gospel dispensation.
In order to explain our principle on the subject, I must remark,
i This is the case, as I understand, with the Inspirés in Germany, and with the Malakans in South Russia.
in limine, that the ceremonies in question, as now practised among Christians, must be considered as forming a part of their system of worship: for they are, in the first place, in the strictest sense of the terms, religious rites performed in supposed obedience to the command of the Almighty; and, secondly, they are employed in immediate connexion with the more direct, and generally with the public, acts of divine worship. Such being the state of the case, the objection of Friends to the use of these ordinances will be perceived to have its foundation in a principle of acknowledged importance, and one which is clearly revealed in the New Testament, that, under the Christian dispensation, the worship of God is not to be formal, ceremonial, or typical, but, simply spiritual.
This principle was declared in a clear and forcible manner by Jesus Christ himself. When the woman of Samaria, with whom he condescended to converse by the well of Sychar, spake to him of the worship observed by the Jews at Jerusalem, and by the Samaritans on Mount Gerizim, our Lord answered, “Woman, believe me, the hour cometh when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father ... The hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” In this passage of our Lord's discourse, there is an evident allusion to two separate and distinct systems of worship, belonging to two different dispensations; and it is equally clear that the change was then about to take place from one of these to the other; that the one was about to be abolished—the other to be established. The system of worship about to be abolished was that which the Jews were accustomed to practice at Jerusalem, and which the Samaritans had endeavoured to imitate on their favourite mountain. Now, every one who is acquainted with the records of the Old Testament, must be aware that this was a system of worship chiefly consisting in outward ceremonies, in figurative or typical ordinances. The greatest nicety of divine direction accompanied the institution of these various rites, which were a “figure for the time then present,” and “which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed” on the Israelites until the time of reformation.". But now that time of reformation was at hand, and the law was pronounced by the great Mediator of the New Covenant, that men were henceforward to worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The new worship which was thus to distinguish Christianity was to be in spirit ; because it was to consist, not in outward rites of a formal and ceremonial nature, but in services dictated by the Spirit of the Lord, and in direct communion of the soul with its Creator. It was to be in truth ; not simply as arising from a sincere heart-a description which might apply with equal force to the abolished worship of the Jews—but because it was to consist in substantial realities. It was to be carried on, not through the old medium of types and figures, but by the application to the heart of the great and essential truths of the Gospel ; for the type was now to be exchanged for the antetype, the figure for the thing figured, the shadow for the substance.? Such then, and such only, is the true character of Christian worship
1 John iv. 21-24.
We ought by no means to disparage the forms and ceremonies of the Jewish law, as connected with the covenant to which they appertained. We cannot forget that this ministration of worship was appointed by the Almighty himself; nor can we refuse to acknowledge that it was, in its own time, glorious. For, although these ceremonies could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience, yet was the whole system, of which they formed a part, perfectly adapted, by Divine Wisdom, to the condition of the Israelites; and the ritual law served a purpose of high importance to the ultimate promotion of the cause of righteousness. To that purpose we have already alluded : it was to typify, prefigure, and introduce, the better, purer, and more glorious, ministration of the Gospel : for, it is precisely in reference to these ceremonies, that the apostle describes the Jewish law as being “a figure for the time then present ;” and as “having a shadow of good things But, important as was the purpose thus answered by the establishment and maintenance of the ceremonial law, it was one of a merely temporary nature. When the Messiah was come—when he had revealed the spiritual character of his own dispensation—when he had died for our sins—when he had risen again for our justificationwhen he had shed forth on his disciples the gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit—then were all the types fulfilled; then was the law of types abolished. “There is verily,” saith the apostle, “a disannulling of the commandment going before, for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof; for the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did, by the which we draw nigh unto God.” Again,“ Wherefore, when he cometh into the world, he saith, sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: in burnt-offerings and (sacrifices) for sin thou hast had no pleasure: then said I, Lo! I come, (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God. Above, when he said sacrifice and offering, and burnt-offerings, and (offering) for sin, thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein ; which are offered by the law; then said he, Lo! I coine to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second.” The system of types and sacrificial ordinances, therefore, being “ taken away,” and the spiritual system being, by the coming of Christ, established, we are no longer to worship the Father through the intervention of a human priesthood, of formal ceremonies, or of typical institutions, but solely through the mediation of the High Priest of our profession, and under the inmediate and all-sufficient influences of the Holy Ghost. Although the shadows of the old law formed an essential part of the Jewish dispensation, they were no sooner imposed upon Christians than they became unlawful, and assumed the character of an unrighteous bondage and of “ beggarly elements.” “Wherefore, if ye be dead with Christ, from the rudiments of the world,” says the apostle Paul to his Colossian converts, “why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances.”
1 Heb. ix. 10.
2 A similar explanation of our Lord's expressions, respecting Christian worship, will be found in the Commentaries of the following biblical critics:Theophylact, Calvin, Jac. Cappellus, Grotius, Rosenmüller, Whitby, Gill, Scott, and Doddridge.
3 Heb. ix. 9; x. 1.