« PreviousContinue »
BY ELIAS HICKS
ADDRESSED TO HIM,
WITH HIS DECLARATIONS UPON THE SAME POINTS,
ON OTHER OCCASIONS, CONTRASTED WITH EACH OTHER, AND
WITH THE DOCTRINES OF THE SOCIETY OF FRIENDS.
PRINTED BY MAHLON DAY,
No. 376, PEARL-STREET.
c8324.164.5 137.552, 35
HARVARD COLLEGE LIBRARY
Feb. 7. 1935
The following Queries addressed to Elias Hicks, with his answers, as published in the 12th Month, 1829, may have been considered by some, as undeniable evidence of the soundness of his views on the points in question. Those Answers, however, being written at the request of one of his friends, and probably designed for a particular purpose, furnish but an imperfect view of his sentiments : nevertheless, being sanctioned as they were, by a number of his adherents, as the sentiments which they had always understood him to have maintained ; and no intimation appearing on his part, of any change in his opinions--the publi. cation therefore, may have misled many.
For the information of such, (as well as other sober inquirers,) the said Queries have been again brought into view, and answered, not only in his language of 1829, but also in the language expressed by him at sundry times, on the same points, together with some short specimens of the faith and doctrine of the Society of Friends on those subjects.
The impartial inquirer has thus an opportunity of judging for himself, what were the real sentiments of E. H. on these subjects, and also of contrasting them with the doctrines of the Society.
Moreover, as it is well known that Elias Hicks was instrumental in producing a sorrowful schism in the Society of Friends, and which took place in the Yearly Meeting of which he was a member, in 6th Month, 1828, the attentive reader will perceive, in perusing the following pages, that the direct answers given by him, were his language a considerable time after the said separation; and when, notwithstanding the schism, he claimed unity with the faith and doctrine of our primitive Friends. But the Answers collected
from his sayings and writings on the same points, exhibit his views on those subjects, as avowed at different times, for some years previous to the said separation, during which time his public communications were abundantly marked with sentiments similar to those contained in the following pages: the avowal of these and other unsound opinions, led to the schism in the Society, and finally to his disownment from being a member of it.
In the preface to the said Queries, the publisher complains of unfairness and perversion, in the use made of Elias Hicks' declarations; and that his "own writings shall not be suffered to speak for themselves,” &c. However unjust his complaint, yet in the present case, E. H. being made his own expositor, his friends can have no cause to complain, as his own words and writings are suffered to speak for themselves, as uttered and written by him at different times, during a number of years past. And the singular inconsistencies which the friends of Elias Hicks have involved both him and themselves in, by the putting forth of the Queries, thereby plainly exhibited.
The present work having been thus long withheld from the press, may be thought unseasonable by some, more especially as Elias Hicks is now unable to answer for himself: his demise, however, amongst other causes, has operated to retard its publication : some having entertained an opinion, that being deceased, he should now be permitted to rest quietly in his grave. This is indeed desirable, as far as relates to himself; and would be so in relation to his sentiments also, if those opinions of 'his, which are opposed to the doctrine of the Society of Friends, could thereby be buried in oblivion. We have no desire for controversy respecting him as an individual, nor to touch his character, further than is connected with the sentiments promulgated by him. We concede to him and his followers, their right to his opinions ; nevertheless, whilst they continue to approbate and publish them, and at the same time claim for him and themselves, unity in Taith and doctrine with our Primitive Friends, it devolves upon us asa duty, on suitable occasions, to show wherein his opinons were at variance with the Christian doctrines they held ; and which have been maintained by the Society of Friends down to the present day.
We cannot view those doctrines, as some have recențly done, as being mere matter of opinion; or that it is non-essential to us, as a body of professing Christians, whether we believe or disbelieve them; therefore we must dissent from the sentiments of E. H. who, whilst he abundantly urged an attention to one fundamental doctrine of our Society, viz: the internal manifestation of divine light; at the same time would lead his hearers to consider a belief in all others of no importance : “Here" saith he, as you come to this, you need not trouble yourselves to recommend to your friends what they must believe, that they must believe this or that : it is all nonsense, because a man cannot believe just what he wants to believe-he cannot believe any thing but what the divine light gives him an evidence of; and this he must believe, and he cannot resist it: Here then we discover that belief is no virtue, and unbelief no crime; because why? it is an involuntary thing to man.”-E. Hicks' Sermon, Qua. Vol. 1, p. 146.
In furnishing the following extracts from his serinons, letters, and other declarations, I have endeavored to give them fairly, embracing all that appeared necessary, to convey his true meaning; and to insert nothing as his own expressions, without being fully satified of their correctness, from my own knowledge, and the testimony of divers others of unquestionable veracity, who were witnesses to his declarations, and generally have preserved minutes thereof, made at or near the time they were uttered. The whole being as plain an exhibition as I have been capable of furnishing, of the sentiments expressed by himself, on the several points in question, wherein he dissented from the doctrines of our Society; which is submitted to the candid reader as being among the causes which led the Society of Friends to testify against him and his doctrines; and against such of its members as adhered to them.
THOMAS WILLIS. Jericho, 4th Month, 1831.