|Mysticism and Christianity|
|Topic: Mysticism||Type: Article||Author: Warfield, Bunyan, etc|
Mysticism and Christianity
by Benjamin B. Warfield (1851-1921)
Reprinted from The Biblical Review, ii. 1917, pp. 169-191. This edition is from The Works of Benjamin B. Warfield (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1981, vol. 9, pp. 649-666).
RELIGION is, shortly [briefly], the reaction of the human soul in the presence of God. As God is as much a part of the environment of man as the Earth on which he stands, no man can escape from religion any more than he can escape from gravitation. But though every man necessarily reacts to God, men react of course diversely, each according to his nature, or perhaps we would better say, each according to his temperament. Thus, broadly speaking, three main types of religion arise, corresponding to the three main varieties of the activity of the human spirit, intellectual, emotional, and voluntary. According as the intellect, sensibility, or will is dominant in him, each man produces for himself a religion prevailingly of the intellect, sensibility, or active will; and all the religions which men have made for themselves find places somewhere among these three types, as they produce themselves more or less purely, or variously intermingle with one another.
We say advisedly, all the religions which men have made for themselves. For there is an even more fundamental division among religions than that which is supplied by these varieties. This is the division between man-made and God-made religions. Besides the religions which man has made for himself, God has made a religion for man. We call this revealed religion; and the most fundamental division which separates between religions is that which divides revealed religion from unrevealed religions [Emphasis added - aal]. Of course, we do not mean to deny that there is an element of revelation in all religions. God is a person, and persons are known only as they make themselves knownreveal themselves. The term revelation is used in this distinction, therefore, in a pregnant sense. In the unrevealed religions God is known only as He has revealed Himself in His acts of the creation and government of the world as every person must reveal himself in his acts if he acts at all. In the one revealed religion God has revealed Himself also in acts of special grace, among which is included the open Word.
There is an element in revealed religion, therefore, which is not found in any unrevealed religion. This is the element of authority. Revealed religion comes to man from without; it is imposed upon him from a source superior to his own spirit. The unrevealed religions, on the other hand, flow from no higher source than the human spirit itself. However much they may differ among themselves in the relative prominence given in each to the functioning of the intellect, sensibility, or will, they have this fundamental thing in common. They are all, in other words, natural religions in contradistinction to the one supernatural religion which God has made.
There is a true sense, then, in which it may be said that the unrevealed religions are "religions of the spirit" and revealed religion is the "religion of authority." Authority is the correlate of revelation, and wherever revelation isand only where revelation isis there authority. Just because we do not see in revelation man reaching up lame hands toward God and feeling fumblingly after Him if haply he may find Him, but God graciously reaching strong hands down to man, bringing him help in his need, we see in it a gift from God, not a creation of man's. On the other hand, the characteristic of all unrevealed religions is that they are distinctly man made. They have no authority to appeal to, they rest solely on the deliverances of the human spirit. As Rudyard Kipling shrewdly makes his "Tommy" declare:
The heathen in his blindness bows down to wood and stone, He don't obey no orders unless they is his own.
Naturally it makes no difference in this respect whether it is the rational, emotional, or volitional element in the activities of the human spirit to which appeal is chiefly made. In no case are the foundations sunk deeper than the human spirit itself, and nothing appears in the structure that is raised which the human spirit does not supply. The preponderance of one or another of these activities in the structure does, however, make an immense difference in the aspect of that structure. Mysticism is the name which is given to the particular one of these structures, the predominant place in which is taken by the sensibility. It is characteristic of mysticism that it makes its appeal to the feelings as the sole, or at least as the normative, source of knowledge of divine things. That is to say, it is the religious sentiment which constitutes for it the source of religious knowledge. Of course mystics differ with one another in the consistency with which they apply their principle. And of course they differ with one another in the account they give of this religious sentiment to which they make their appeal. There are, therefore, many varieties of mystics, pure and impure, consistent and inconsistent, naturalistic and supernaturalistic, pantheistic and theisticeven "Christian". What is common to them all, and what makes them all mystics, is that they all rest on the religious sentiment as the source of knowledge of divine things [Emphasis added - aal].
The great variety of the accounts which mystics give of the feeling to which they make their appeal arises from the very nature of the case. There is a deeper reason for a mystic being "mute"that is what the name impliesthan that he wishes to make a mystery of his discoveries. He is "mute" because, as a mystic, he has nothing to say. When he sinks within himself he finds feelings, not conceptions; his is an emotional, not a conceptional, religion; and feelings, emotions, though not inaudible, are not articulate. As a mystic, he has no conceptional language in which to express what he feels. If he attempts to describe it he must make use of terms derived from the religious or philosophical thought in vogue about him, that is to say, of non-mystical language. His hands may be "the hands of Esau, but his voice is the voice of Jacob". The language in which he describes the reality which he finds within him does not in the least indicate, then, what it is; it is merely a concession to the necessity of communicating with the external world or with his own more external self. What he finds within him is just to his apprehension an "unutterable abyss." And Synesius does himself and his fellow mystics no injustice when he declares that "the mystic mind says this and that, gyrating around the unutterable abyss."
On the brink of this abyss the mystic may stand in awe, and, standing in awe upon its brink, he may deify it. Then he calls it indifferently Brahm or Zeus, Allah or the Holy Spirit, according as men about him speak of God [Emphasis added - aal]. He explains its meaning, in other words, in terms of the conception of the universe which he has brought with him, or, as it is more fashionable now to phrase it, each in accordance with his own world-view. Those who are held in the grasp of a naturalistic conception of the world will naturally speak of the religious feeling of which they have become acutely conscious as only one of the multitudinous natural movements of the human soul, and will seek merely, by a logical analysis of its presuppositions and implications, to draw out its full meaning. Those who are sunk in a pantheistic world-view will speak of its movements as motions of the subliminal consciousness, and will interpret them as the surgings within us of the divine ground of all things, in listening to which they conceive themselves to be sinking beneath the waves that fret the surface of the ocean of being and penetrating to its profounder depths. If, on the other hand, the mystic chances to be a theist, he may look upon the movements of his religious feelings as effects in his soul wrought by the voluntary actions of the God whom he acknowledges; and if he should happen to be a Christian, he may interpret these movements, in accordance with the teachings of the Scriptures, as the leadings of the Holy Spirit or as the manifestations within him of the Christ within us the hope of glory.
This Christian mysticism, now, obviously differs in no essential respect from the parallel phenomena which are observable in other religions. It is only general mysticism manifesting itself on Christian ground and interpreting itself accordingly in the forms of Christian thought. It is mysticism which has learned to speak in Christian language. The phenomena themselves are universal. There has never been an age of the world, or a form of religion, in which they have not been in evidence. There are always everywhere some men who stand out among their fellows as listeners to the inner voice, and who, refusing the warning which Thoas gives to Iphigenia in Goethe's play, "There speaks no God: thy heart alone 'tis speaks," respond like Iphigenia with passionate conviction, "'Tis only through our hearts the gods e'er speak." But these common phenomena are, naturally, interpreted in each instance, according to the general presuppositions of each several subject or observer of them. Thus, for example, they are treated as the intrusion of God into the soul (Ribet), or as the involuntary intrusion of the unconscious into consciousness (Hartmann), or as the intrusion of the subconscious into the consciousness (Du Prel), or as the intrusion of feeling, strong and overmastering, into the operations of the intellect (Goethe).
According to these varying interpretations we get different types of mysticism, differing from one another not in intrinsic character so much as in the explanations given of the common phenomena. Many attempts have been made to arrange these types in logical schemes which shall embrace all varieties and present them in an intelligible order. Thus, for example, from the point of view of the ends sought, R. A. Vaughan distinguishes between theopathic, theosophic, and theurgic mysticism, the first of which is content with feeling, while the second aspires to knowledge, and the third seeks power. The same classes may perhaps be called more simply emotional, intellectual, and thelematic mysticism. From the point of view of the inquiry into the sources of religious knowledge four well marked varieties present themselves, which have been given the names of naturalistic, supernaturalistic, theosophical, and pantheistic mysticism.
The common element in all these varieties of mysticism is that they all seek all, or most, or the normative or at least a substantial part, of the knowledge of God in human feelings, which they look upon as the sole or at least the most trust worthy or the most direct source of the knowledge of God. The differences between them turn on the diverging conceptions which they entertain of the origin of the religious feelings thus appealed to. Naturalistic mysticism conceives them as merely "the natural religious consciousness of men, as excited and influenced by the circumstances of the individual." Supernaturalistic, as the effects of operations of the divine Spirit in the heart, the human spirit moving only as it is moved upon by the divine. Theosophical mysticism goes a step further and regards the religious feelings as the footprints of Deity moving in the soul, and as, therefore, immediate sources of knowledge of God, which is to be obtained by simple quiescence and rapt contemplation of these His movements. Pantheistic mysticism advances to the complete identification of the soul with God, who is therefore to be known by applying oneself to the simple axiom: "Know thyself."
Clearly it is the type which has been called supernaturalistic that has the closest affinity with Christianity. Christian mysticism accordingly, at its best, takes this form and passes insensibly from it into evangelical Christianity, to which the indwelling of the Holy Spiritthe Christ withinis fundamental, and which rejoices in such spiritual experiences as are summed up in the old categories of regeneration and sanctificationthe rebegetting of the soul into newness of life and the leading of the new created soul along the pathway of holy living. From these experiences, of course, much may be inferred not only of the modes of God's working in the salvation of men but also of the nature and character of God the worker.
The distinction between mysticism of this type and evangelical Christianity, from the point of view which is now occupying our attention, is nevertheless clear. Evangelical Christianity interprets all religious experience by the normative revelation of God recorded for us in the Holy Scriptures, and guides, directs, and corrects it from these Scriptures, and thus molds it into harmony with what God in His revealed Word lays down as the normal Christian life. The mystic, on the other hand, tends to substitute his religious experience for the objective revelation of God recorded in the written Word, as the source from which he derives his knowledge of God, or at least to subordinate the expressly revealed Word as the less direct and convincing source of knowledge of God to his own religious experience. The result is that the external revelation is relatively depressed in value, if not totally set aside.
In the history of Christian thought mysticism appears accordingly as that tendency among professing Christians which looks within, that is, to the religious feelings, in its search for God. It supposes itself to contemplate within the soul the movements of the divine Spirit, and finds in them either the sole sources of trustworthy knowledge of God, or the most immediate and convincing sources of that knowledge, or, at least, a coordinate source of it alongside of the written Word. The characteristic of Christian mysticism, from the point of view of religious knowledge, is therefore its appeal to the "inner light," or "the internal word," either to the exclusion of the external or written Word, or as superior to it and normative for its interpretation, or at least as coordinate authority with it, this "inner light" or "internal word" being conceived not as the rational understanding but as the immediate deliverance of the religious sentiment. As a mere matter of fact, now, we lack all criteria, apart from the written Word, to distinguish between those motions of the heart which are created within us by the Spirit of God and those which arise out of the natural functioning of the religious consciousness. This substitution of our religious experienceor "Christian consciousness," as it is sometimes calledfor the objective Word as the proper source of our religious knowledge ends therefore either in betraying us into purely rationalistic mysticism, or is rescued from that by the postulation of a relation of the soul to God which strongly tends toward pantheizing mysticism.
In point of fact, mysticism in the Church is found to gravitate, with pretty general regularity, either toward rationalism or toward pantheism [Emphasis added - aal]. In effect, indeed, it appears to differ from rationalism chiefly in temperament, if we may not even say in temperature. The two have it in common that they appeal for knowledge of God only to what is internal to man [Emphasis added - aal]; and to what, internal to man, men make their actual appeal, seems to be determined very much by their temperaments, or, as has been said, by their temperatures. The human soul is a small thing at best; it is not divided into water-tight compartments; the streams of feeling which are flowing up and down in it and the judgments of the understanding which are incessantly being framed in it are constantly acting and reacting on one another. It is not always easy for it to be perfectly clear, as it turns within itself and gazes upon its complex movements, of the real source, rational or emotional, of the impressions which it observes to be crystallizing within it into convictions. It has often been observed in the progress of history, accordingly, that men who have deserted the guidance of external revelation have become mystics or rationalists, largely according as their religious life was warm or cold. In periods of religious fervor or in periods of fervid religious reactions they are mystics; in periods of religious decline they are rationalists. The same person, indeed, sometimes vibrates between the two points of view with the utmost facility [Emphasis added - aal].
It is, however, with pantheism that mysticism stands in the closest association. It would not be untrue, in fact, to say that as a historical phenomenon mysticism is just pantheism reduced to a religion, that is to say, with its postulates transformed into ends. Defenses of mysticism against the inevitable (and true) charge of pantheizing usually, indeed, stop with the announcement of this damaging fact. "Lasson," remarks Dean Inge as if that were the conclusion of the matter instead of, as it is, the confession of judgment, "says well, in his book on Meister Eckhart, 'Mysticism views everything from the standpoint of teleology, while pantheism generally stops at causality.'" What it is of importance to observe is that it is precisely what pantheism, being a philosophy, postulates as conditions of being that mysticism, being a religion, proposes as objects of attainment. Mysticism is simply, therefore, pantheism expressed in the terms of religious aspiration.
This is as true within the Christian Church as without it. All forms of mysticism have no doubt from time to time found a place for themselves within the Church. Or perhaps we should rather say that they have always existed in it, and have from time to time manifested their presence there. This must be said even of naturalistic mysticism. There are those who call themselves Christians who yet conceive of Christianity as merely the natural religious sentiment excited into action by contact with the religious impulse set in motion by Jesus Christ and transmitted down the ages by the natural laws of motion, as motion is transmitted, say, through a row of billiard balls in contact with one another. Yet it would only be true to say that mysticism as a phenomenon in the history of the Church has commonly arisen in the wake of the dominating influence in the contemporary world of a pantheizing philosophy. It is the product of a pantheizing manner of thinking impinging on the religious nature, or, if we prefer to phrase it from the opposite point of view, of religious thought seeking to assimilate and to express itself in terms of a pantheizing philosophy.
The fullest stream of mystical thought which has entered the Church finds its origin in the Neoplatonic philosophy. It is to the writings of the PseudoDionysius that its naturalization in the Eastern Church is usually broadly ascribed. The sluice gates of the Western Church were opened for it, in the same broad sense, by John Scotus Erigena. It has flowed strongly down through all the subsequent centuries, widening here and there into lakelets. The form of mysticism which is most widely disturbing the modern Protestant churches comes, however, from a different source. It takes its origin from the movement inaugurated in the first third of the nineteenth century by Friedrich Schleiermacher, with the ostensible purpose of rescuing Christianity from the assaults of rationalism by vindicating for religion its own independent right of existence, in a region "beyond reason." The result of this attempt to separate religion from reason has been, of course, merely to render religion unreasonable; even Plotinus, warned us long ago that "he who would rise above reason falls outside of it." But what we are immediately concerned to observe is the very widespread rejection of all "external authority," which has been one of the results of this movement, and the consequent casting of men back upon their "religious experience," corporate or individual, as their sole trustworthy ground of religious convictions. This is, of course, only "the inner light" of an earlier form of mysticism under a new and (so it has been hoped) more inoffensive name; and it is naturally, therefore, burdened with all the evils which inhere in the mystical attitude. These evils do not affect extreme forms of mysticism only; they are intrinsic in the two common principles which give to all its forms their fundamental characterthe misprision of "external authority," and the attempt to discover in the movements of the sensibilities the ground or norm of all the religious truth which will be acknowledged.
"Mystics," says George Tyrrell, "think they touch the divine when they have only blurred the human form with a cloud of words." The astonishing thing about this judgment is not the judgment itself but the source from which it comes. For Tyrrell himself as a "Modernist" held with our "experientialists," and when he cast his eye into the future could see nothing but mysticism as the last refuge for religion. "Houtin and Loisy are right," he writes; "the Christianity of the future will consist of mysticism and charity, and possibly the eucharist in its primitive form as the outward bond. I desire no more." The plain fact is that this "religious experience," to which we are referred for our religious knowledge, can speak to us only in the language of religious thought; and where there is no religious thought to give it a tongue it is dumb. And above all, it must be punctually noted, it cannot speak to us in a Christian tongue unless that Christian tongue is lent it by the Christian revelation. The rejection of "external authority" and our relegation to "religious experience" for our religious knowledge is nothing more nor less, then, than the definitive abolition of Christianity and the substitution for it of natural religion. Tyrrell perfectly understood this, and that is what he means when he speaks of the Christianity of the future as reduced to "mysticism and charity."All the puzzling facts of Christianity (this is his view)the incarnation and resurrection of the Son of God and all the puzzling doctrines of Christianitythe atonement in Christ's blood, the renewal through the Spirit, the resurrection of the bodyall, all will be gone. For all this rests on "external authority." And men will content themselves, will be compelled to content themselves, with the motions of their own religious sensibilities [Emphasis added - aal]and (let us hope) with charity.
There is nothing more important in the age in which we live than to bear constantly in mind that all the Christianity of Christianity rests precisely on "external authority." Religion, of course, we can have without "external authority," for man is a religious animal and will function religiously always and everywhere. But Christianity, no. Christianity rests on "external authority," and that for the very good reason that it is not the product of man's religious sentiment but is a gift from God.To ask us to set aside "external authority" and throw ourselves back on what we can find within us alonecall it by whatever name you choose, "religious experience," "the Christian consciousness," "the inner light," "the immanent Divine"is to ask us to discard Christianity and revert to natural religion [Emphasis added - aal]. Natural religion is of course good in its own proper place and for its own proper purposes. Nobody doubtsor nobody ought to doubtthat men are by nature religious and will have a religion in any event. The sensus divinitatis [sense of divinity] implanted in usto employ Calvin's phrasesfunctions inevitably as a semen religionis [the beginning of religion].
Of course Christianity does not abolish or supersede this natural religion; it vitalizes it, and confirms it, and fills it with richer content. But it does so much more than this that, great as this is, it is pardonable that it should now and then be overlooked. It supplements it, and, in supplementing it, it transforms it, and makes it, with its supplements, a religion fitted for and adequate to the needs of sinful man. There is nothing "soteriological" in natural religion. It grows out of the recognized relations of creature and Maker; it is the creature's response to the perception of its Lord, in feelings of dependence and responsibility. It knows nothing of salvation. When the creature has become a sinner, and the relations proper to it as creature to its Lord have been superseded by relations proper to the criminal to its judge, natural religion is dumb. It fails just because it is natural religion and is unequal to unnatural conditions. Of course we do not say that it is suspended; we say only that it has become inadequate. It requires to be supplemented by elements which are proper to the relation of the offending creature to the offended Lord. This is what Christianity brings, and it is because this is what Christianity brings that it so supplements and transforms natural religion as to make it a religion for sinners. It does not supersede natural religion; it takes it up in its entirety unto itself, expanding it and developing it on new sides to meet new needs and supplementing it where it is insufficient for these new needs.
We have touched here the elements of truth in George Tyrrell's contention, otherwise bizarre enough, that Christianity builds not on Judaism but on paganism. The antithesis is unfortunate. Although in very different senses, Christianity builds both on Judaism and on paganism; it is the completion of the supernatural religion begun in Judaism, and it is the supernatural supplement to the natural religion which lies beneath all the horrible perversions of paganism. Tyrrell, viewing everything from the point of view of his Catholicism and dealing in historical as much as in theological judgments, puts his contention in this form: "That Catholicism is Christianized paganism or world religion and not the Christianized Judaism of the New Testament." The idea he wishes to express is that Catholicism is the only tenable form of Christianity because it alone is founded, not on Judaism, but on "world religion." What is worthy of our notice is that he says "world religion," not "world religions." He is thinking not of the infinite variety of pagan religionsmany of them gross enough, none of them worthy of humanity ("man's worst crimes are his religions," says Dr. Faunce somewhere, most strikingly)but of the underlying religion which sustains and gives whatever value they possess to them all.
Now mysticism is just this world religion; that is to say, it is the expression of the ineradicable religiosity of the human race. So far as it is this, and nothing but this, it is valid religion, and eternal religion. No man can do without it, not even the Christian man. But it is not adequate religion for sinners. And when it pushes itself forward as an adequate religion for sinners it presses beyond its mark and becomes, in the poet's phrase, "procuress to the lords of hell." As vitalized and informed, supplemented and transformed by Christianity, as supplying to Christianity the natural foundation for its supernatural structure, it is valid religion. As a substitute for Christianity it is not merely a return to the beggarly elements of the world, but inevitably rots down to something far worse. Confining himself to what he can find in himself, man naturally cannot rise above himself, and unfortunately the self above which he cannot rise is a sinful self.
The pride which is inherent in the self-poised, self-contained attitude which will acknowledge no truth that is not found within oneself is already an unlovely trait, and a dangerous one as well, since pride is unhappily a thing which grows by what it feeds on. The history of mysticism only too clearly shows that he who begins by seeking God within himself may end by confusing himself with God. We may conceivably think that Mr. G. K. Chesterton might have chosen his language with a little more delicacy of feeling, but what he says in the following telling way much needs to be said in this generation in words which will command a hearing. He had seen some such observation as that which we have quoted from Tyrrell, to the effect that the Christianity of the future is to be a mere mysticism. This is the way he deals with it:
Only the other day I saw in an excellent weekly paper of Puritan tone this remark, that Christianity when stripped of its armor of dogma (as who should speak of a man stripped of his armor of bones) turned out to be nothing but the Quaker doctrine of the Inner Light. Now, if I were to say that Christianity came into the world specially to destroy the doctrine of the Inner Light, that would be an exaggeration. But it would be very much nearer the truth. . . . Of all the conceivable forms of enlightenment, the worst is what these people call the Inner Light. Of all horrible religions the most horrible is the worship of the God within. Anyone who knows anybody knows how it would work; anyone who knows anyone from the Higher Thought Center knows how it does work. That Jones should worship the God within him turns out ultimately to mean that Jones shall worship Jones. Let Jones worship the sun or moon, anything rather than the Inner Light; let Jones worship cats or crocodiles, if he can find any in his street, but not the God within. Christianity came into the world first in order to assert with violence that a man had not only to look inward, but to look outward, to behold with astonishment and enthusiasm a divine company and a divine captain. The only fun of being a Christian was that a man was not left alone with the Inner Light, but definitely recognized an outer light, fair as the sun, clear as the moon, terrible as an army with banners.
Certainly, valuable as the inner light isadequate as it might be for men who were not sinnersthere is no fate which could be more terrible for a sinner than to be left alone with it. And we must not blink the fact that it is just that, in the full terribleness of its meaning, which mysticism means. Above all other elements of Christianity, Christ and what Christ stands for, with the cross at the center, come to us solely by "external authority." No "external authority," no Christ, and no cross of Christ. For Christ is history, and Christ's cross is history, and mysticism which lives solely on what is within can have nothing to do with history; mysticism which seeks solely eternal verities can have nothing to do with time and that which has occurred in time. Accordingly a whole series of recent mystical devotional writers sublimate the entire body of those historical facts, which we do not say merely lie at the basis of Christianitywe say rather, which constitute the very substance of Christianityinto a mere set of symbols, a dramatization of psychological experiences succeeding one another in the soul. Christ Himself becomes but an external sign of an inward grace. Read but the writings of John Cordelier. Not even the most reluctant mystic, however, can altogether escape some such process of elimination of the external Christ; by virtue of the very fact that he will not have anything in his religion which he does not find within himself he must sooner or later "pass beyond Christ."
We do not like Wilhelm Herrmann's rationalism any better than we like mysticism, and we would as soon have no Christ at all as the Christ Herrmann gives us. But Herrmann tells the exact truth when he explains in well chosen words that "the piety of the mystic is such that at the highest point to which it leads Christ must vanish from the soul along with all else that is external." "When he has found God," he explains again, "the mystic has left Christ behind." At the best, Christ can be to the mystic but the model mystic, not Himself the Way as He declared of Himself, but only a traveler along with us upon the common way. So Miss Underhill elaborately depicts Him, but not she alone. Soderblom says of von Hugel that Jesus is to him "merely a high point in the religious development to which man must aspire." "He has no eye," he adds, "for the unique personal power which His figure exercises on man." This applies to the whole class. But much more than this needs to be said. Christ may be the mystic's brother. He may possibly even be his exemplar and leader, although He is not always recognized as such. What He cannot by any possibility be is his Savior. Is not God within him? And has he not merely to sink within himself to sink himself into God? He has no need of "salvation" and allows no place for it.
We hear much of the revolt of mysticism against the forensic theory of the atonement and imputed righteousness. This is a mere euphemism for its revolt against all "atonement" and all "justification." The whole external side of the Christian salvation simply falls away. In the same euphemistic language Miss Underhill declares that "nothing done for us, or exhibited to us, can have the significance of that which is done in us." She means that it has no significance for us at all. Even a William Law can say: "Christ given for us neither more nor less than Christ given into us. He is in no other sense our full, perfect, and sufficient Atonement, than as His nature and spirit are born and formed in us." The cross and all that the cross stands for are abolished; it becomes at best but a symbol of a general lawper aspera ad astra. "There is but one salvation for all mankind," says Law, "and the way to it is one; and that is the desire of the soul turned to God. This desire brings the soul to God and God into the soul: it unites with God, it cooperates with God, and is one life with God." If Christ is still spoken of, and His death and resurrection and ascension, and all the currents of religious feeling still turn to Him, that is because Christians must so speak and feel. The same experiences may be had under other skies and will under them express themselves in other terms appropriate to the traditions of those other times and places. That Christian mysticism is Christ mysticism, seeking and finding Christ within and referring all its ecstasies to Him, is thus only an accident. And even the functions of this Christ within us, which alone it knows, are degraded far below those of the Christ within us of the Christian revelation.
The great thing aboutthe indwelling Christ of the Christian revelation is that He comes to us in [by] His Spirit with creative power. Veni, creator Spiritus, we sing, and we look to be new creatures, created in Christ Jesus into newness of life. The mystic will allow, not a resurrection from the dead [Emphasis added - aal], but only an awakening from sleep. Christ enters the heart not to produce something new but to arouse what was dormant, what has belonged to man as man from the beginning and only needs to be set to work. "If Christ was to raise a new life like His own in every man," writes Law, "then every man must have had originally in the inmost spirit of his life a seed of Christ, or Christ as a seed of heaven, lying there in a state of insensibility, out of which it could not arise but by the mediatorial power of Christ." He cannot conceive of Christ bringing anything new; what Christ seems to bring he really finds already there. "The Word of God," he says, "is the hidden treasure of every human soul, immured under flesh and blood, till as a day star it arises in our hearts and changes the son of an earthly Adam into a son of God." Nothing is brought to us; what is already in us is only "brought out," and what is already in usin every manis "the Word of God." This is Christ mysticism; that is to say, it is the mysticism in which the divinity which is in every man by nature is called Christrather than, say, Brahm or Allah, or what not.
Even in such a movement as that represented by Bishop Chandler's Cult of the Passing Moment, the disintegrating operation of mysticism on historical Christianitywhich is all the Christianity there isis seen at work. Bishop Chandler himself, we are thankful to say, exalts the cross and thinks of it as a creative influence in the lives of men. But this only exemplifies the want of logical consistency, which indeed is the boast of the school which he represents. If our one rule of life is to be the spiritual improvement of the impressions of the moment, and we are to follow these blindly wherever they lead with no steadying, not to say guidance, derived from the great Revelation of the past, there can be but one issue. We are simply substituting our own passing impulses, interpreted as inspirations, for the one final revelation of God as the guide of life; that God has spoken once for all for the guidance of His people is forgotten; His great corporate provision for His people is cast aside; and we are adrift upon the billows of merely subjective feeling.
We see that it is not merely Christ and His cross, then, which may be neglected, as external things belonging to time and space. God Himself, speaking in His Word, may be forgotten in "the cult of the passing moment." We are reminded that there have been mystics who have not scrupled openly to contrast even the God without them with the God within, and to speak in such fashion as to be understood (or misunderstood) as counseling divesting ourselves of God Himself and turning only to the inwardly shining light. No doubt they did not mean all that their words may be pressed into seeming to say. Nevertheless, their words may stand for us as a kind of symbol of the whole mystical conception, with the exaggerated value which it sets upon the personal feelings and its contempt for all that is external to the individual's spirit, even though it must be allowed that this excludes all that makes Christianity the religion of salvation for a lost world the cross, Christ Himself, and the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who in His love gave His Son to die for sinners.
The issue which mysticism creates is thus just the issue of Christianity. The question which it raises is, whether we need, whether we have, a provision in the blood of Christ for our sins; or whether we, each of us, possess within ourselves all that can be required for time and for eternity. Both of these things cannot be true, and obviously tertium non datur. We may be mystics, or we may be Christians. We cannot be both [Emphasis added - aal]. And the pretension of being both usually merely veils defection from Christianity. Mysticism baptized with the name of Christianity is not thereby made Christianity. A rose by any other name will smell as sweet. But it does not follow that whatever we choose to call a rose will possess the rose's fragrance.
John Bunyan on the Quakers (Mystics - "inner light")
SOME QUESTIONS TO THE QUAKERS
Be ready always to give an answer to every man who asks you a reason of the hope that is in you [1PE 3:15]. And I beseech you do it in sincerity.
1. If you say that every one [Emphasis added - aal] has a measure of the Spirit of Jesus Christ within him, why say the Scriptures that some are sensual, having not the Spirit? [JUD 1:19]. And when Christ tells His disciples of sending them the Spirit, He also says, the world cannot receive Him [JOH 14:17].
2. What is the church of God redeemed by, from the curse of the law? Is it by something that is done within them, or by something done without them? If you answer, It is redeemed from the curse of the law by something that works in them: then I ask,: Why did the man Christ Jesus hang upon the cross on Mount Calvary, outside the gates of Jerusalem, for the sins of the people? And why do the Scriptures say, that through this man is preached to us the forgiveness of sins; that is, through His blood [EPH 1:7], which was shed outside the gates of Jerusalem? [HEB 13:12].
3. What Scripture have you to prove that Christ is, or was crucified within you, dead within you, risen within you, and ascended within you?
4. Is that very Man Who was crucified on Mount Calvary between two thieves, whose name is Jesus, the Son of Mary, I say, is He the very Christ of God, yes or no?
5. Is that very man, with that very body, within you, yes or no?
6. Was that Jesus, who was born of the Virgin Mary, a real man of flesh and bones, after His resurrection from the dead out of Joseph's tomb, yes or no? For the Scripture says He was, as in Luke 24:39. If so, then did that Man Who said, Handle Me and see, for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see Me have; I say, did that man go away from His disciples, and not into them, in His body, as these Scriptures declare, Luke 24:39, 40, compared with verses 50, 51; also Acts 1:9-11; or did He with that body of flesh go into His disciples, as some fond dreamers think?
7. Has that Christ who was with God the Father before the world was, no other body but His church? If you say so, as it is your usual course, then again I ask you, what that was in which He did bear the sins of His children? If you answer, It was in His own body on the tree, for so says the Scripture, [1PE 2:24], then I ask you further, whether that body in which He did bear our sins, (which is also called his own body), was or is the church of God, yes or no? Again, if you say He has no body but the church, the saints, then I ask, what that was that was taken down from the cross, and laid in Joseph's tomb [LUK 23:51, 52].
Now I know, that as Christ is the head of His church, so the church is the body of the head, which is Christ. But as Christ is the mediator between God and man, I say, as He is a mediator, so He is a man [1TI 2:5], and absent from His saints in the world, as is clear [2CO 5:6]. Therefore as He is mediator, and a man, so He has a body that is absent from His church, which body ascended from His disciples, above the clouds into Heaven. If you say no, then I ask you, Did He leave the body behind Him, which was born of the Virgin Mary, who walked up and down with His disciples in the world, was afterwards hanged on the cross, buried, rose again from the dead, with which body He did eat, drink, and likewise walk with His disciples after His resurrection from the dead, and did bid His disciples see if he were not flesh and bones, yes or no?
A VINDICATION OF GOSPEL TRUTHS OPENED
ACCORDING TO THE SCRIPTURES;
And also, The things that were then laid down, and declared to the world by me, are a second time borne witness to, according to truth: with the answer of Edward Borrough to the Queries then laid down in my book reproved. And also, a plain Answer to his Queries, given in simplicity of soul; and is now also presented to the world, or who else may read, or hear them; to the end (if God will) that truth may be discovered thereby.
I have found David a man after My own heart, (says God). Of this man's seed has God according to His promise raised up to Israel a Savior, Jesus, (says the Apostle). .... And when they had fulfilled all that was written of Him, they took Him down from the tree, and laid Him in a tomb. But God raised Him from the dead.... And we declare to you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made to the Fathers, God has fulfilled the same to us their children, in that He raised up Jesus again. . . be it known to you, therefore, men and brethren, that through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins. And by Him all who believe are justified from all things, from which they could not be justified by the Law of Moses [ACT 13:22-39].
TO THE READER
Since it has pleased the Lord to work in my soul by His Holy Spirit, and has translated me in some measure from darkness to light, I have seen and heard that such things have been done by those who did once pretend themselves to be the servants of Jesus Christ, that it has made me marvel: partly, while I have beheld the vile life of some, and also the seeming legal holiness of others, together with their destructive doctrine, who have, notwithstanding their professions, made shipwreck of the faith, both to themselves and their followers. I having had some insight into such things as these, was provoked to publish a small treatise touching the fundamentals of religion, supposing that God might add His blessing thereto, both for the establishing of some, and the convincing of others; which things I doubt not but they have been accomplished, and will be still more and more. But as it was in former days, so it is now: that is, some in all former ages have been on foot in the world ready to oppose the truth. So it is now; there are certain men newly started up in our days, called Quakers, who have set themselves against the truth of our Lord Jesus Christ, and do in very deed deny that salvation was then obtained by Him when He did hang on the cross outside Jerusalem's gate. Now, these men do pretend that they do verily and truly profess the Lord Jesus Christ; but when it comes to the trial, and their principles be thoroughly weighed, the best that they do, is to take one truth and corrupt it, that they may thereby fight more stoutly against another. As, for instance,
First, they will own that salvation was obtained by Christ; this is truth, that salvation was obtained by Christ. But come close to the thing, and you will find that they corrupt the word, and only mean:that salvation is wrought out by Christ as He is within [Emphasis added - aal]; and by it, though not warranted by the Scripture, they will fight against the truth; namely, that salvation was obtained for sinners by the Man Who did hang on the cross on Mount Calvary between two thieves, called Jesus Christ: I say, by what He did then for sinners in His own person or body, which He took from the Virgin Mary, according to the word of God.
Second. They will own the doctrine of Christ within. This is truth, that Christ is within His saints:but this doctrine they will take to fight against the doctrine of Christ without, ascended from His disciples into Heaven, by whom salvation was obtained [Emphasis added - aal]; neither is there salvation in any other. [ACT 4:12].
Third. They will own the resurrection of the saints,but their meaning is only that the saints are raised from the state of nature to a state of grace, and herewith they will fight against this truth; namely, the resurrection of the bodies of saints out of their graves, into which they were laid, some thousands, some hundreds of years before. And if they do say they do own the resurrection of the saints out of their graves, they do mean out of the grave of sin only, and nothing else [Emphasis added - aal].
Fourth.They will say, they do own the second coming of Christ to judge the world; but search them to the bottom, and you will find them only to own Him in His coming in spirit, within, in opposition to the glorious coming of the Lord Jesus, the Son of Mary, from Heaven in the clouds, with all His mighty angels, to raise the dead, and bring them to judgment, according to the Scripture [Emphasis added - aal]. And so for the intercession of Christ, and the truths of the gospel; they only own them to be within; in opposition to the glorious intercession and mediation of the man Christ Jesus in His own person without, now in the presence of His Father, between us and Him, pleading and making intercession for His children. These things, together with many more, I might mention, but now I forbear, knowing that none shall be lost, nor altogether carried away by them, nor any heretics, but the sons of perdition. Now, that they might the better make their doctrine take place in the hearers, they endeavor to make a fair show in the flesh, that thereby they might now, as did their fathers in time past, compel and constrain them who are not by the Lord's right hand planted into the truth of Jesus, to follow their covered errors, as it is written, [GAL 6:12] For as many as desire to make a fair show in the flesh, that is, according to works of the law, do with good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple [ROM 16:18]. And indeed it does clearly appear, that those who are carried away, are such as are not able to discern between fair speeches declared by heretics, and sound doctrine declared by the simple-hearted servants of Jesus.
I. Now, I shall lay down several grounds, not only why errors are abroad in the world, but also why so many are carried away with them.
1. One ground why so many errors do from time to time come into the world, is because those who are not indeed of the planting of the Lord's right hand might be rooted out[MAT 15:13]. Now these are many times carried away by deceivable doctrines: and truly in this our God has both a care of His own glory, and of His church's welfare. For, first, should they not be swept away by some heresy or other, there might be great dishonor brought to His name by their continuing among His people: and, second, that He might take away such grievances as such may bring, had they continued still in the society of His children.
2. Another ground why the Lord does suffer such errors to come into the world is, because those who are Christians indeed might be approved and appear[1CO 11:19]. For there must be heresies among you, that those who are approved may be made manifest. Should not the Lord go this way to work sometimes there would be many who would make people believe that they are Christians, and yet are not. And, again, that He might make it appear, that though there be heretics, yet He has a people enabled by his Spirit to contradict and oppose them, and plead to the truth of our Lord Jesus Christ, and His glorious gospel against them.
3. Another ground why the Lord does suffer; yes, even send delusions among the people, is, that those who were so idle and slothful as not to seek after the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity, might be taken away, and violently possessed with error, and be made to run greedily after the same; that they might smart the more for their neglect of the truth. For always those who were lazy in seeking after the truth when it was offered, and afterward hasty after the doctrine of demons, when that is declared to them, shall be sure to have their latter behavior to rise up in judgment against them, in that when the truth was offered to them they were idle and did not receive it, and yet when delusion did offer itself, they were industrious and laboring. Now mark, that they all might be damned who believe not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness; because they received not the truth in the love of it, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusions, that they might believe a lie, and be damned[2TH 2:10-12].
II. Now, in the second place, why so many are so easily carried away with errors in this day. The grounds are these that follow.
1. Because men count it enough to be professors of the truth, without seeking to be possessors of the same. Now, because men are but only professors of the truth, but not having it in their hearts in reality, they are carried away with an error, if it come in never so little power more than the truth they profess. And this is the reason why so many are carried away with the errors that are broached in these days, because they have not indeed received the Lord Jesus by the revelation of the Spirit, and with power, but by the relation of others only; and so having no other witness to set them down withal but the history of the word, and the relation of others concerning the truths contained therein, though the knowledge of the truth this way should abundantly aggravate their damnation, yet they have not had the Spirit of the Lord to confirm these things effectually unto them, they are carried away with delusions.
2. Another reason why so many are carried away with delusions is those differences that are among the children of God about smaller matters. Oh, friends! how is the hand of the enemy strengthened by our carnality: while one says, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; many a poor soul is carried away with delusion. And why so? They are not satisfied that this is the truth, because the children are at difference among themselves about some outward things. And, again, it makes those who are not so desperately possessed with a spirit of delusion as are others, but are mere moral men, I say it makes them to say within themselves, and one to another, There are so many sects and judgments in the world, that we cannot tell which way to take. And, therefore, you who have the Spirit, pray that these things may cease, lest you blush for your folly at the appearing of Jesus our Lord.
3. The pride, covetousness, and impiety of hypocrites and carnal professors, are great stumbling blocks to the poor world; and the cause why many at this day do drink down so greedily a deluding doctrine, and especially if it come with a garment of pretended holiness: but as for these, they shall go to their place in their time, with the curse of the Almighty poured out upon them, for their casting of stumbling-blocks before the simple by their loose conduct, if they do not hastily repent of their wickedness, and close in reality with our blessed Lord Jesus.
4. Another reason why delusions do so easily take place in the hearts of the ignorant, is, because those who pretend to be their teachers do behave themselves so basely among them. And, indeed, I may say of these, as our Lord said of the Pharisees in another case, all the blood of the ignorant, from the beginning of the world, shall be laid to the charge of this generation. Those who pretend they are sent of the Lord, and come, saying, Thus says the Lord; we are the servants of the Lord, our commission is from the Lord, by succession and the like, I say, these pretending themselves to be the preachers of truth, but are not, do by their loose conduct render the true doctrine of God, and his Son Jesus Christ, by whom the saints are saved, contemptible, and do give the adversary mighty encouragement to cry out against the truths of our Lord Jesus Christ, because of their wicked walking. Now shall not his soul be avenged on such a nation as this, who pretend to be teachers of the people in goodness, when as for the most part of them they are the men who at this day do so harden their hearers in their sins by giving them, even their hearers, such ill examples, that none goes beyond them for impiety! As, for example would a parishioner learn to be proud? he or she need look no farther than to the priest, his wife and family; for there is a notable pattern before them. Would the people learn to be wanton? they may also see a pattern among their teachers. Would they learn to be drunkards? they may also have that from some of their ministers; for indeed they are ministers in this, to minister ill examples to their congregations. Again, would the people learn to be covetous, they need but look to their minister, and they shall have a lively, or rather a deadly resemblance set before them, in both riding and running after great benefices and parsonages by night and by day. Nay, they among themselves will scramble for the same. I have seen, that so soon as a man has but departed from his benefice, as he calls it, either by death or out of covetousness of a bigger; we have had one priest from this town, and another from that, so run for these tithe-cocks and handfulls of barley, as if it were their proper trade and calling to hunt after the same. Oh, wonderful impiety and ungodliness! are you not ashamed of your doings? If you say no, it is, perhaps, because you are given over of God to a reprobate mind. Read ROM 1 towards the end. As it was with them, so, it is to be feared, it is with many of you, who knowing the judgments of God, that they who do such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have, as I may so say, pleasure also in those who do them. And, now you who pretend to be the teachers of the people in verity and truth, though we know that some of you are not: is it a small thing with you, to set them you say are your flock such an example as this? Were ever the Pharisees so profane; to whom Christ said, You vipers, how can you escape the damnation of hell? does not the ground groan under you? surely, it will favor you no more than it favored your forerunners. Certainly the wrath of God lies heavy at your doors; it is but a very little while, and your recompense shall be upon your own head. And as for you who are indeed of God among them, though not of them; separate yourselves. Why should the righteous partake of the same plagues with the wicked? Oh, you children of the harlot! I cannot well tell how to have done with you; your stain is so odious, and you are so senseless, as appears by your practices. But I shall at this time forbear, having in some measure discharged my conscience according to the truth against you; hoping if God do give me opportunity, and a fair call, that I shall a second time in this world give testimony against your filthy conversations, though now I shall say no more only this much: Be ashamed of your earthly-mindedness, if you can; and be converted, or else you shall never be healed.
Here might I also aggravate your sin by its several circumstances but I shall rather forbear; supposing that you may entertain wrong and harsh thoughts of me, though I have spoken the truth; therefore I shall at this time rather keep silence, and wish you to amend, than to rake in your sores; for thereby would your stink go more abroad in the world: therefore I say, I forbear. And now to the reader, I beseech you to have a care of your soul, and look well to the welfare of it: and that you may do so, have a care what doctrine it is that you receive. Be not contented until you in deed and in truth, in the light of the Spirit of Christ, see your sins washed away in the blood of that Lamb, Who did offer up Himself a ransom on the cross on Mount Calvary, for the sins of your soul and body, together with the rest of the saints of God.
And let not the legal holiness of the one, nor the loose, profane conduct of the other, beat off from pursuing after the truths of Jesus, as the truth is in Jesus, and so laid down in this my discourse. Neither let the plausibleness of the other beguile your simple heart. And now to you who are carried away with the delusions at this day broached in the world, by the instruments of Satan, and that after a profession of the truth: I say to you, Turn again, if you can, peradventure there may be hope, and that you may escape that wrath which justly you have deserved. But if you shall still refuse the Lord Who speaks now from Heaven in mercy to you, you shall not hereafter escape the Lord, that in His own time will speak to you in His wrath, and vex you in his sore displeasure.
And now a few words to you who have indeed closed in with the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of Mary; and they are these that follow. 1. Be of good cheer, all your sins are forgiven you for His name's sake[1JO 2:12]. 2. Know, "He Who has begun the good work of his grace in you, will perfect it, even to the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" [PHI 1:6]. 3. Know that though your Lord Jesus, Who is in you by His Spirit [Emphasis added - aal], be absent from you touching His bodily presence, yet He is not forgetful of you, but is preparing a place for you [JOH 14:1-3]. 4. Consider, that He is also at this very present, in His very person, in the presence of His Father now in the Heavens, praying and making intercession for you, that you may be brought safe to glory [HEB 7:24]. Father, I will, He says, that those that You have given Me may be where I am, that they may behold My glory [JOH 17:25]. 5. Know also, that He has overcome in His own person, when He was in the world; Devil, death, sin, Hell, the curse of the law, the power of the grave, and all other evils, in the body of His flesh for you. [HEB 2:14]. 6. Believe, also, that while you are in the world all things shall fall out for your good at the end, whether they be temptations, doctrines of demons, workings of corruptions, all things shall fall out for your good, who love our precious Lord Jesus. [ROM 8:28]. 7. Be assured, that all your enemies shall very suddenly be under your feet, even Satan and all [ROM 16:20]. 8. Consider, that there shall no temptation befall you in the days of your pilgrimage, but God will enable you to bear it, yes, and make a way also for you to escape the destroying danger of it [1CO 10:13]. 9. When the time of your dissolution shall come, your Jesus will deal with you, as He did with blessed Lazarus, that is, He will send His angels to fetch your souls away to glory [LUK 16:22]. 10. Believe also, and know assuredly that, at the last day, He will also raise your bodies out of their graves, and make them also for ever vessels of His glory [ROM 8:23, compare with JOH 5:28; 1TH 4:14-18]. 11. And, last, consider, that though now by the world, and heretics, you be counted as not worth the looking after; yet you have your day coming, when as the Diveses of this and all other ages would be glad if they might have but the least favor from you, one drop of cold water on the top of your fingers. Oh, you despised begging Lazaruses [as in LUK 16:24]; for the world, for all their stoutness, must be forced to come to judgment, before your Lord and you. [1CO 6:23]. "This honor have all His saints" [PSA 149:9].
Now seeing that these things be so, I beseech you by those the mercies of God, 1. That you do give up your bodies, as hands, tongue, strength, health, wealth, and all that you have and are, to the service of God, your God[ROM 12:1]. 2. "Let your moderation in everything be known to all men," for "the Lord is at hand" [PHI.4:5]. 3. Study to walk as like the Lord Jesus Christ as ever you can for your lives [MAT 11:29]. 4. Let that you strive for, be the faith of the gospel of your precious Lord Jesus [PHI 1:27], and not any earthly advantages. 5. "Let your conduct be as becomes the gospel" [PHI 1:27]. 6. Let your hearts be always in Heaven, where our Lord Jesus is [COL 3:1-3]. 7. Forbear and forgive one another, in love, and with all your hearts, as God for Christ's sake has forgiven you [EPH 4:2]. 8. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father Who is in Heaven [MAT 5:16]. 9. You are the salt of the earth, have a care you lose not your savor [MAT 5:13]. 10. Be forward to distribute to those that are in want, for this is well pleasing to your most glorious loving Father [HEB 13:16]. 11. Learn all one of another the things that are good, for this is the command of God, and also commendable in saints. [PHI 3:17]. 12. And last, O brethren, consider what the Lord has done for you; He has bought you, and paid for you with His blood, and He does now also make it His business to pray for your safe conduct to glory [HEB 7:25]. He has delivered you from those who would have been your ruin, and has promised to you everlasting life. Let the love of Christ constrain you, let the love of God win upon your souls. What! He Who spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all: how shall He not with Him freely give us all things! Hold out, my brethren, hold out, for you have but a little while to run. Hold fast unto the death and Christ will give you a crown of life. [REV 2:10]. Farewell, dear brethren; the mighty God of Jacob preserve and deliver you from every evil work, and all the days of our pilgrimage let us pray one for another, that our God would count us worthy of this rich and glorious calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of His goodness, and the work of faith with power, to Whom be glory now and ever.
And now, reader, before I make an end of this discourse, I think it meet to let you understand, that though there has been a book put forth by Edward Borrough, in seeming opposition to that of mine, called, Some Gospel Truths opened according to the Scripture, yet the substance of my discourse then published by me stands uncontrolled by Scripture, as from him or others. I do not say, he does not wrangle with them, but I say, he does not by any one plain Scripture contradict them.
As. for instance, 1. The first great thing that I do hold forth in that discourse, is this: That that baby Who was born of the Virgin Mary, and that at that time did give satisfaction for sin, was the very Christ of God, and not a type of anything afterward to be revealed for the obtaining redemption for sinners within them. Which thing my adversary can find no ground in Scripture to build an opposition upon, see his book, p. 12; but is forced to confess it in word, though he do deny the very same in doctrine; see his book, p. 29, at his 6th query. And p. 26, where in answer to this question of mine, Why did the man Christ hang on the cross on Mount Calvary? all the answer he gives is this. Because they wickedly judged Him to be a blasphemer; and as in their account, says he, He died as an evil-doer. And this is all the ground he gives: see his answer tomy second query in this my book, taken word for word as he laid them down.
2. The next thing I do prove in that book is, That that light which every one has, is not the Spirit of Christ; because the Scripture says, Some have it not[JUD 1:19]. But Edward Borrough says, It is given to every one; p. 18 of his book: and he says, They have it within them too; p. 26 of his book, in answer to my first question, though he have no Scripture to confirm the same, as I have had to contradict it. See his book.
3. The next thing I prove is, That Jesus Christ did fulfil the law in His own person without us for justification, and that His blood then shed has washed away the sins of the children of God, as aforesaid. Which thing he would oppose, but finds no footing for his discourse. See his book, p. 12, where he says, The law is not fulfilled (read the latter end of that page), contrary to Scripture[COL 2:14; ROM 10:4], which says, "He did fulfil all the law for justification for every one who believes." Another thing I prove in that book is, That Christ is ascended into that Heaven without, above the clouds and stars; and that I prove by eight several scripture demonstrations, of which not one is confuted by Scripture, though secretly in his book smitten against. Read his whole book.
4. The next thing I prove is, That the same Jesus Who was born of Mary, laid in the manger, Who is the Savior, is at this day making intercession in that body He then took of Mary; whichthing also is not confuted by him by the Scripture; though cunningly smitten against in his discourse, where he says, It is only necessary to salvation to preach Christ within, laying aside all that Christ did when He was in His own person in the world. See p. 29 of his book, Question 6.
5. Another truth I prove is, That the very same Jesus Who was born of Mary, that very man, Who was also hanged on the cross, will come the second time, and that shall be to save His children, and to judge the world at the last day, that great day of judgment. And though they will not own that He shall so come as He went away, which was a very man without; yet they could not at all by the Scripture contradict it. But the very sum of his discourses is a wrangling with the thing laid down, as a dog with a bone; but has not, nor cannot by Scripture overcome the same. This have I written, that the reader into whose hand this book may come, may have the more certain information concerning the things before published by me, and also concerning the opposition made against them by the adversary. And here, because I am loth to be too tedious, I do conclude, and desire your prayers to God for me, if you are a Christian, that I may not only be preserved to the end in the faith of Jesus, but that God would enable me to be an earnest contender for the same, even to the last; and rest,
The servant of the Lord Jesus,
READER,We, whose names are here underwritten, having, through grace, some blessed faith and experience of the truths declared in this book, and knowing them so to be; having tried them by the Scriptures in the light of the Spirit, thought it our duty to bear witness thereunto together with our brother, desiring the blessing of God may go along with these endeavors of his, for the doing good to our Christian brethren, or any other who may read it. Farewell.
Yours in the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, for which faith we desire to contend,
RICHARD SPENCLY. JOHN BURTON. JOHN CHILD.
We recommend the reading of the following book (now out of print - try to locate it in
a used book store):
Johnson, Arthur L. FAITH MISGUIDED: Exposing the Dangers of Mysticism. 1988, Chicago: IL, Moody Press.
We also recommend the reading of the following article:Collmer, Robert G., The Limitations of Mysticism. Bibliotheca Sacra, Vol. 116, #462; Apr-Jun 1959. P. 127 ff., Dallas: TX, Dallas Theological Seminary.
Collmer's purpose is to give "a brief summation of the "commendable" features of mysticism and a criticism of mysticism in relation to a central doctrine of Christianitythe resurrection of the body"[Emphasis added - aal].
He names several of the well known mystics, both "classical" and more recent representatives, including: Evelyn Underhill; Suso; Tauler; Eckhart; Ruysbroeck; Hilton; Teresa of Avila; John of the Cross; George Fox; C. S. Lewis; Elton Trueblood; the anonymous fourteenth-century Theologia Germanica; Jacob Boehme; William Law and Madame Guyon.
Following his commendation to the mystics Collmer admits that they deny the doctrine of the resurrection of the bodyboth the resurrection of Christs body and the resurrection of the bodies of believers.
Collmer clearly points out that "Where the resurrection is referred to, it is viewed 'spiritually' that is, not physically" and that to them it is "the interior resurrection of the spirit". He again states that, "In mystical theology. . . 'resurrection of the dead' refers to a moral change, not to a bodily resurrection, just as in Gnosticism.
Collmer attempts to give a sympathetic treatment of Mysticism, HOWEVER, his discussion about the bodily resurrection really shows that Mysticism is NOT Christianity at all.
The apostle Paul, by the Spirit of God wrote:If there is no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ is not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain [1CO 15:13-14].
Return To Main Index
This Page Last Updated: 08/09/99 A. Allison Lewis email@example.com