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Quakers' interpretation of the texts which relate to this doctrine--These texts of public and private import
-Election, as of public import, relates to offices of usefulness, and not to salvation—as of private, it relates to the Jews-These had been elected, but were passed over for the Gentiles-Nothing more unreasonable in this than in the case of Ishmael and Esau or that Pharaoh's crimes should receive Pharaoh's punishment—But though the Gentiles were chosen, they could stand in favour no longer than while they were obedient and faithful.
THE Quakers conceive that, in their interpretation of the passages which are usually quoted in support of the doctrine of election and reprobation, and which I shall now give to the reader, they do no violence to the attributes of the Almighty; but, on the other hand, confirm his wisdom, justice, and mercy, as displayed in the sacred writings, in his religious government of the world.
These passages may be considered both as of public and of private import; of public, as they
relate to the world at large; of private, as they relate to the Jews, to whom they were addressed by the Apostle.
The Quakers, in viewing the doctrine as of public import, use the words "called," "predestinated," and "chosen," in the ordinary way in which they are used in the scriptures, or in the way in which Christians generally understand them.
They believe that the Almighty intended, from the beginning, to make both individuals and nations subservient to the end which he had proposed to himself in the creation of the world. For this purpose he gave men different measures of his Holy Spirit; and in proportion as they have used these gifts more extensively than others, they have been more useful among mankind. Now all these may be truly said to have been instruments in the hands of Providence, for the good works which they have severally performed; but, if instruments in his hands, then they may not improperly be stiled chosen vessels. In this sense the Quakers view the words " chosen," or "called." In the same sense they view also the word "preordained;" but with this difference, that the instruments were foreknown; and that God should have known these instruments beforehand is not wonderful; for he who created the world, and who, to
use an human expression, must see at one glance all that ever has been, and that is, and that is to come, must have known the means to be employed, and the characters who were to move, in the execution of his different dispensations to the world.
In this sense the Quakers conceive God may be said to have foreknown, called, chosen, and preordained Noah, and also Abraham, and also Moses, and Aaron, and his sons, and all the prophets, and all the evangelists, and apostles, and all the good men, who have been useful in spiritual services in their own generation or day.
In this sense also many may be said to have been chosen or called in the days of the Apostle Paul; for they are described as having had various gifts bestowed upon them by the spirit of God. "" To one was given the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge; to another the discerning of spirits; to another prophecy; and to others other kinds of gifts. But the self-same spirit worked all these, dividing to every man severally as he chose." That is, particular persons were called by the spirit of God, in the days of the Apostle, to particular offices for the perfecting of his
n 1 Cor. 12. 10. IL
In the same sense the Quakers consider all true ministers of the Gospel to be chosen. They believe that no imposition of hands or human ordination can qualify for this office. God, by means of his Holy Spirit alone, prepares such as are to be the vessels in his house. Those there
fore, who, in obedience to this spirit, come forth from the multitude to perform spiritual offices, may be said to be called or chosen.
In this sense, nations may be said to be chosen also. Such were the Israelites, who by means of their peculiar laws and institutions, were kept apart from the other inhabitants of the world,
Now the dispute is, if any persons should be said to have been chosen in the scripture language, for what purpose they were so chosen. The favourers of the doctrine of election and reprobation, say for their salvation. But the Quakers say, this is no where manifest: for the term salvation is not annexed to any of the passages from which the doctrine is drawn. Nor do they believe it can be made to appear from any of the scriptural writings, that one man is called or chosen, or predestined to salvation, more than another. They believe, on the other hand, that these words relate wholly to the usefulness of individuals, and that if God has chosen any particular persons, he
has chosen them that they might be the ministers of good to others; that they might be spiritual lights in the universe; or that they might become, in different times and circumstances, instruments of increasing the happiness of their fellow-creaThus the Almighty may be said to have chosen Noah, to perpetuate the memory of the deluge; to promulgate the origin and history of mankind; and to become, as St. Peter calls him, a preacher of righteousness" to those who were to be the ancestors of men. Thus he may be said to have chosen Moses to give the law, and to lead out the Israelites, and to preserve them as a distinct people, who should carry with them notions of his existence, his providence, and his power. Thus he may be said to have chosen the prophets, that men, in after ages, seeing their prophecies accomplished, might believe that Christianity was of divine origin. Thus also be may be said to have chosen Paul, (▾ and indeed Paul is described as a chosen vessel) to diffuse the Gospel among the Gentile world.
That the words, called or chosen, relate to the usefulness of individuals in the world, and not to their salvation, the Quakers believe from examin
v Acts 9. 15.