A common belief voiced by many Christians is “once saved, always saved,” and too often that’s taken as a license to continue in sin. Not so with Quakers. Listen to Elizabeth Bathurst:
- This Doctrine [teaching] being held by the Quakers, it hath been branded with the opprobrious Term of Heterodox; which if so, I know not how the Apostles Doctrine can be accounted Orthodox, and yet I know the general Opinion of many Professors is, Once in Grace, and ever in Grace, (or, once in Christ, and ever in Christ. )
- Here I’ll digress no farther, but proceed to shew the Apostle’s Judgment in this Matter: Paul speaking of the Jews (whom he calls the natural Branches of the true Olive) how that they were broken off, that the Gentiles (whom he compares to Branches of a wild Olive) they might be grafted in, saith the Apostle to them, Well, because of Unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by Faith; be not high-minded, but fear; for if God spared not the natural Branches, take heed also, lest he spare not thee. Behold therefore (saith he) the Goodness and Severity of God: Towards them that fell, Severity; but towards thee, Goodness, if thou continue in his Goodness, otherwise thou shalt be cut off, Rom. xi. 20, 21, 22. And the Author in his Epistle to the Hebrews, having spoken of Israel of old, to whom God sware in his Wrath, That they should not enter into his Rest: He cautions them, saying, Take heed, lest there be in any of you an evil Heart of Unbelief, in departing from the Living God, Heb. iii. 12. And in Chap. iv. Vers. 11. he exhorts both them and himself, saying, Let us labour therefore to enter into that Rest, lest any Man fall after the same Example of Unbelief. And in Chap. vi. Vers. 4, 5, 6. he shews them the Danger of falling;
- Nor was this his Suspicion concerning others only, but his Supposition of himself; For I keep under my Body, and bring it into Subjection (saith he) lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should become a Castaway.
- And then you will come to know that Faith which Jesus is the Author of, which stands in the Power of God; even in that Power which enables to resist Temptations, and overcome Sin, and to get Victory over the World, and the Spirit of it; so will you witness a dying unto Sin, and a living unto Righteousness, to the Praise of his Grace, who is calling of you out of Darkness into Light, that you may be Holy in all manner of Conversation.
- So now since God’s saving Arm is made bare for the gathering of many People to himself before your Eyes; Beware therefore lest that come upon you, which is spoken of in the Prophets, Behold you Despisers, and wonder, and perish; for I work a Work in your Days, which you shall in no wise believe, though a Man declare it unto you.
- Although I have heard say, That the Quakers are Free-Willers; yet this doth not prove them to be so, no more than People saying so, is Proof that they deny the Scriptures.
- Thus, having shewn in several Particulars how grossly People have abused the Principle of the Quakers, I should next come to speak concerning their Practices, to see if they find any more Favour; but remembring my Promise was, not only to rectify Peoples Mistakes concerning, but to inform them in the Principle of true Religion (for the Principle of Truth is but one) I shall therefore, according to the Manifestation of the Spirit given unto me, endeavour to signify, what this Principle is, from whom it comes, and whereto it leads.
Just listen to Elizabeth Bathurst (1655?-1685):
- Sanctification and Justification. Put both these together, because though I do grant they may be distinguished, yet I cannot see how they can be divided, being so near of Kin, that if one languish, t’other cannot but greatly mourn.
- True indeed, all are not sanctified and made perfect by him, although this was the End of his Coming, that he might finish Transgression, and make an End of Sin, and this was the Will of the Father in sending him, to wit, our thorough Sanctification; but this is not because all have not a Knowledge and Manifestation of his Light, or spiritual Appearance of him in themselves, but because all do not believe in, and obey this his Appearance.
- Yet do they [Quakers] not expect to be saved, neither for their Faith alone, nor by their Works, but by Christ who worketh true Faith.
- Thus do they commend themselves to every Man’s Conscience in the Sight of God, by turning them to the Light of Jesus, the Power of God manifest within, which, as ’tis yielded to and obeyed, maketh free from Sin, which still is that one Thing that I am writing concerning, viz. A Principle of Divine Light and Life in Christ Jesus, according to the Apostle’s Record.
- In him was Life, and the Life was the Light of Men: And this Light, I say, however it may be called, ’tis the Shining of the Sun of Righteousness in Men’s Consciences: ‘Tis not Conscience, which some have described to be a reflex Act of the Mind, whereby Men view their past Actions, the which accuses them for what they have done ill, and approveth of what they have done well; though this be more than some there are will allow in this Matter, yet is this too short to express its noble Nature: For this Principle doth as well shew Men the Sin of their future evil Purposes and Intentions, as set before them the Iniquity of their former Actions.
- Therefore I say, ’tis not Conscience, for that is but a created Faculty; but that of God placed in the Conscience has its Being from all Eternity, For he that sheweth unto Man his Thoughts, is the same that formed the Mountains, and created the Winds, whose Name is the Lord of Hosts, as saith the Prophet Amos.
- This is the Seed of the Kingdom of Heaven; for Heaven’s Kingdom is within, as Christ said.
- Hear ye therefore the Parable of the Sower, saith Christ, When any one heareth the Word of the Kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his Heart: This is he that received Seed by the Wayside, &c.
- And this Knowledge of himself, the Father is pleased to dispense to Men, in and through the Son of his Love, Christ Jesus our Lord, who is come a Light into the World (saith Christ) that whosoever believeth in me, shall not abide in Darkness. And therefore I believe, and am well assured, this is the one Faith, whereunto many Thousands by the Lord have been gathered, viz. That the God of all Grace hath sent his Son into the World, a free Gift unto the World; and hath given a Measure of his Light and Spirit, to manifest and reveal him unto all Men.
- ‘Tis to those that are faithful unto Death, to whom is promised a Crown of Life. Such as are implanted into Christ, and abide in him, they shall inherit the Kingdom.