The most prominent among the Quakers were George Keith, Samuel Fisher, and William Penn. The last named was a man of a British admiral, and he proved his sincerity by the sacrifices and sufferings to which his adherence to a sect, then despised and persecuted, subjected him. Anyone who is somewhat familiar with American history has surely heard of William Penn. His name is associated with the state of Pennsylvania. 

Quakerism extols the inner testimony of the Holy Spirit. The guidance of the Holy Spirit is its fundamental principle. The Quakers, although acknowledging the divine authority of the Holy Scriptures, make fax less of them than other evangelical denominations. They make little of the Church and its ordinances; of the Sabbath; of a stated ministry, and nothing of the sacraments as external ordinances and means of grace. Indeed, according to Barclay, a leading figure and exponent in this movement, there are many things the Christian needs to know which are not contained in the Scriptures. In these matters he is guided by the Holy Spirit. There are matters, for example, such as: whether he is to preach; and, if called to preach, when, where, and what he should preach; where he is to go and what he ought to do in any given emergency. So, the Spirit teaches us when and where we are to pray, and what we are to pray for. 

Many, of course, are the objections to this Mystical Theory. We can, of course, speak of Mysticism in a good sense of the word. Christianity is surely mystical in a very real sense of the Word. It is true that the Lord has access to the human soul there is a very real and intimate association of the children of God with the alone blessed God. Besides, it is also true that the Lord has spoken at sundry times and in diverse manners to the children of men, That which eye hath not seen, ear hath not heard, and what could never enter into the heart of man has been communicated to the children of men by the living God. Holy men of old have spoken as directed infallibly by the Spirit of God. This is Divine inspiration. All inspiration is necessarily revelation, although all revelation is not necessarily inspiration. Inspiration is Divine revelation as it moved holy men to write unerringly the Word of God. Now Romanists will admit the infallibility of the written Word of God. However, they contend that the Scriptures are not sufficient in themselves, and that the Lord continues this infallible guidance of the Spirit in His Church. Only, of course, this infallible guidance of the Holy Spirit occurs in the pope at Rome. The Mystics, however, although conceding the infallibility of the Scriptures, maintain that the Holy Spirit is also given to every man as an inward teacher and guide, Whose instruction and influence are the highest rule of faith, and sufficient, even without the Scriptures, to assure the salvation of the soul. 

First, Mysticism has no support in the Scriptures. Now it is true, on the one hand, that we do read in the Word of God of revelations which the Lord gave to individuals. This is certainly true in the Old Testament. In the Old Dispensation the Lord revealed His Word to certain privileged persons. However, these persons were selected persons of God, chosen to be prophets, authorized by the Lord to receive and impart His Word to the people of God as they anxiously awaited these revelations from the Lord. In the Old Dispensation the Word of God was very incomplete. The first Scriptures, Genesis through Deuteronomy, were not given by God until Moses. So, these prophets were divinely appointed messengers to receive and impart His Word. And in the New Dispensation, the Lord chose His twelve apostles to be the Divine media of His Word. However, the written Word of God has now been completed and the Scriptures are the full and complete revelation of the Will of God, of all that one needs to know unto his salvation. And, on the other hand, it is also true that the Lord has promised His Church His Spirit to guide it into all the truth, if only we understand that this guidance of the Spirit does not merely operate in an individual but in His Church. But this truth can never be divorced from the Scriptures. Hence, we have the promise of the Lord that He will guide His Church by His Spirit into all the truth of His written Word. It is, of course, true that the Holy Spirit is a Teacher. Without His inner operation in our hearts and minds we will never be able to see the beauties of His Word. The Spirit must open our eyes; that we may see and our ears that we may hear. He must work in us the gift of spiritual illumination and discernment. But, this inner operation of the Holy Spirit, however immediate and irresistible it may be of itself, never occurs in the consciousness of the people of the Lord apart, from the written Word of the Lord. Spiritual discernment is surely the design and effect of the Spirit’s teaching. But He never speaks or testifies apart from the Word. There is no consciousness of salvation in separation from the written Word of God. 

Secondly, Mysticism is contrary to what we read in the Scriptures. It is not only true that it finds no support in the Word of God, but it is also contrary to what we read in it. In the prophecy of Isaiah the people of the Lord are commanded to return to the law and to the testimony. If in this they fail, they would see no light. Throughout the Scriptures we read the constantly repeated expression: Thus saith the Lord. Men were required to believe what was communicated to them and not what the Spirit had revealed to every or any individual. And in the New Dispensation Christ commands His Church to go out into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature, and he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved. We surely feel the thrust of this. This means, of course, that whosoever believeth this gospel, and not merely what the Spirit has revealed to one individually. The preaching of the gospel is presented as a power of God unto salvation. And so the Church of God has been commanded by the Lord to preach the gospel. And it is also for this reason that provision was made for this ministry of the gospel. Mysticism emphasizes the inner enlightenment of the Holy Spirit and speaks with considerable disdain of trained ministers of the gospel within the Church of God. But this is surely not according to the Word of the Lord. To preach the gospel one must study the Scriptures, the Word of God, and this demands constant application of self to this work. The apostle Paul admonishes his spiritual son, Timothy, to be a workman approved of God and exhorts him to divide the Word of God rightly. Do not the riches of the Scriptures and the calling to study the Word of God not imply that we can never have a ministry too well trained in the work of expounding the Word of the Lord? 

Thirdly, we may also say of Mysticism that it is contrary to fact and experience. It is simply an undeniable fact that the Word of God is a lamp before our feet and a light upon our path. And this implies that without the Word of God we have no lamp before our feet and no light upon our path. Without the Word of God we err and stumble in darkness. This is simply true to life. Mysticism would have us believe that by the inward operation of the Holy Spirit saving knowledge of the truth and of our Christian duty is given to the individual man. But all experience teaches us that without the written Word of God people are ignorant of Divine things. The sun is not more obviously the source of light than the Bible is the source of all knowledge. There is no true knowledge of the Lord apart from the Word of God. History plainly teaches us that if and when men depart from the Word of God they corrupt the truth and lack all true knowledge of the truth. Without the true knowledge of God there can be no true religion. Without the true knowledge of the Lord we cannot entertain any proper affections toward Him. The true knowledge of God is never found where there is no knowledge of His Word. There can be no holiness without the truth. The Scriptures are the only source to us of all saving and sanctifying knowledge. What happens, for example, when the study of the Scriptures is neglected or ignored? What is the history of, the Church of God in the Old Dispensation? Does not the prophet of the Lord complain that the people perish because there is no knowledge of the Lord? We read in Jeremiah 4:22: “For My people is foolish, they have not known Me; they are sottish children (stupid, senseless children, H.V.), and they have none understanding: they are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge.” What is, therefore, the result when people depart from the objective revelation of the Lord? They become foolish and as sottish children. What does the Old Testament teach us? This, that a rejection of the prophets of the Lord and of His Word always went hand in hand with a seeking after other gods and of the things that are below. And this surely lies in the very nature of the case. The Word of God alone is a lamp before our feet and a light upon our path. There is no operation of the Spirit of God in the consciousness of the believer except in conjunction with the Word of God. If we depart from these Scriptures we will simply follow the dictates of our own natural heart and mind. And my natural heart and mind will invariably lead me away from the living God and into the things of sin and evil. And this is ever the case throughout the ages! What characterizes people who do not honor the Word of God and study the Scriptures? Sound and thorough knowledge of the truth? Are these people noted for their staunch defense of the gospel and the fundamental principles of the Word of God? Are they noted for their allegiance to the doctrines of election and reprobation, to the depravity of man and the particular efficacy of the cross, to God’s irresistible grace and the certain glory of the believer? Hardly! They have no knowledge of the truth at all. They care not for any fundamental principles and teachings of the holy Scriptures. They are as little children who are swept along by every wind of doctrine. They lend a hearing ear to every revivalist they may encounter, regardless how he may distort and corrupt the Word of God. Every kind of heresy makes an impression upon his childish soul. They are not strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. They have no conception of the whole amour, appear to sense no reason whatever to put it on, do not know that we are called to put on this entire amour of the Lord, and have no idea whatever that, that which holds this amour together is the girdle of truth. They feel no particular need to defend the gospel inasmuch as the intents and purposes of evil men to corrupt it escapes their attention completely. They see no enemy of the living and true gospel of the Lord. They cannot discern between what is right and wrong, cannot distinguish the enemy from a friend. The admonition of the apostle that we must rightly divide the Word of truth means absolutely nothing, to them. They do not know the ways of the Lord. It is simply a fact that we cannot see without light. And it is just as true that it is impossible for us to see without the Word of God. History teaches us this abundantly and we do well to maintain this principle of the Scriptures and hold on to it with all the powers the Lord has given us.