Have The Quakers Prevailed? -- By: Charles A. Briggs

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 047:186 (Apr 1890)
Article: Have The Quakers Prevailed?
Author: Charles A. Briggs


Have The Quakers Prevailed?

Rev. Prof. Charles A. Briggs

In the seventeenth century, Presbyterians and Congregationalists, so far as I have been able to determine, were unanimous in the opinion that the heathen and their infants were doomed to everlasting fire. The Baptists pressed the doctrine of the salvation of their unbaptized children as the children of believers; but they did not teach the salvation of the heathen and their babes. It was first the Latitudinarians of the Church of England, and then the so-called Quakers, or Friends, as they called themselves, who are entitled to the credit of opening up the doctrine of the universal salvation of children, and the partial salvation of the heathen. This was made possible by the great stress they laid upon the Light of nature, and “the Light which lighteth every man that Cometh into the world” (John 1:9).

I. Culverwell And Tuckney

Nathaniel Culver well published his book entitled “Light of Nature,” in 1652, in which he advocated the salvation of some of the heathen. He was immediately attacked by Anthony Tuckney, the chairman of the committee that composed the Westminster Shorter Catechism, in a sermon at Cambridge, July 4, 1652. This was published in 1654 under the title “None but Christ,” with an Appendix discussing the salvation of “(1) heathen; (2)

those of the Old World; the Jews and others before Christ, and (3) such as die infants and idiots, etc., now under the gospel.”

Culverwell states his views cautiously as follows: —

“Yet notwithstanding their censure is too harsh and rigid, who as if they were judges of eternal life and death, damne Plato and Aristotle without any question, without any delay at all; and do as confidently pronounce that they are in hell, as if they saw them flaming there. Whereas the infinite goodnesse and wisdome of God might for ought we know finde out several ways of saving such by the pleonasmes of his love in Jesus Christ; he might make a Socrates a branch of the true Vine, and might graffe Plato and Aristotle into the fruitful olive; for it was in his power, if he pleased, to reveal Christ unto them, and to infuse faith into them after an extraordinary manner; though indeed the Scripture does not afford our charity any sufficient ground to believe that he did; nor doth it warrant us peremptorily to conclude the contrary. Secreta Deo, it does not much concern us to know what became of them; let us then forbear our censure, and leave them to their competent Judge.

“Yet I am farre from the minde of those patrons of Universal Grace, that make all men in an equal propi...

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