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In presenting to the public a volume of the works of Job Scott, late of Providence, Rhode Island, it may be proper to inform the reader, that divers of the following essays were, by the author himself, submitted to the inspection and correction of the Meeting for Sufferings (a committee representing the religious Society of Friends) in New England, of which he was a member. His treatise on Christian Baptism, and some others, were approved, and published, previous to his decease. Since which, his Journal, as published in 1797, and a number of other essays, have been examined by that committee, and the Meeting for Sufferings in New York, and also approved ; of which character are several of the ensuing pieces, which, from particular causes and circumstances, have not heretofore been published. It appears also, that some of these essays were corrected, transcribed, and copies forwarded to the Meeting for Sufferings in Philadelphia, for its advice and concurrence.
This care of his friends appeared necessary, in conformity with the order of society, and with the dying request of the author, who appeared conscious that many of “ his writings were far from being properly digested ;” and his belief that “ some of them might be a good deal better guarded.”
Since the decease of the author, several of his essays, and divers of the Epistles or Letters, contained in this volume, have been published. These appear to have been read with much interest and instruction, as well as the Journal of his life, and have passed through several editions in this country, and in England.
The uniform object of the writer appears to have been, the promotion of truth and righteousness, and the good of mankind; for which purpose he not only wrote, but travelled extensively, in order to turn the minds of the people from darkness and ignorance, to divine light and knowledge, and from under the influence of bigotry,
superstition, and selfishness, to the life and power of God in themselves, as the way of happiness and peace.
In the character of Job Scott, as delineated by his friends, he is represented as “a man whose life was conspicuously marked with humility and self-denial, and a faithful labourer in support of practical religion ;''* “ being deep in heavenly mysteries; yet his communications were agreeable, and remarkably instructive.”† “ Thus for several years, as well as by letters and epistles, for which he was eminently gifted with instructive and edifying talents, he laboured for the promotion of the cause of truth. Being of strong and ready abilities, and his mind improved and enlarged by the sanctifying power of Truth, he was enabled, and zealously and very usefully disposed for the promotion of the cause of righteousness, in which he was engaged.”I
To diffuse then, the instructive views, and promote the labours of his dedicated mind, a collection of the writings of Job Scott, has been made: and these essays have been submitted to the inspection and correction of the Representative Committee, or Meeting for Sufferings of the Yearly Meeting of Friends held in Philadelphia. The report of that committee to the Yearly Meeting in the Fourth month last, states, that the writings of Job Scott had been carefully examined, and such corrections made, as were believed to comport with the views and intentions of the author. These corrections were chiefly verbal, avoiding "too punctilious” criticism, even of the phraseology, and peculiar idioms used by the writer. A due care has also prevailed, that his doctrinal views should be faithfully exhibited ; and a desire felt that his authority, with the convictions of Truth in the mind of the reader, may be their principal sanction and recommendation.
From the following expressions of Job Scott, in his last letter from Ireland, the reader will bear in mind, that, should he meet with any thing imperfect, abstruse, or unfinished in any of these essays, it must be attributed to the want of time and opportunity in the writer to mature, digest, and complete the views, or subjects intended to be illustrated ; and which defect, it would be improper now to attempt to supply. “ There is scarce any thing,” says he, “ that
+ Testimony from Ireland.
* T. Willis.
makes longer life desirable, but to finish the field of religious labour, which I had hitherto mostly thought, was not yet done ; especially with regard to digesting my Journal and some other writings. Indeed, it has often felt as if I should probably die in debt to the world, if I did not even make some considerable additions upon some subjects that may have been thought a little peculiar to myself, but which, I still believe, are as strictly in the very life and essence of the gospel, as I believe any truth whatever: there is not the least scruple in my mind about them. I trust I as firmly believe in the divinity of Christ, as any man living : but I have no more belief that there are two divinities, than two Gods. It is altogether clear to my mind, that that one divinity actually became the seed of the woman, and bruised the serpent's head, as early as any man ever witnessed redemption from sin; and is one in the head and all the members, he being like us in all things, except sin. My only hope of eternal salvation is on this ground; nor do I believe there has ever been any other possible way of salvation, but that of a real conception and birth of the divinity in man. It is not now a time to enlarge. There are several sketches of this doctrine in my Journal, and several other very unfinished little essays."*
This doctrine of salvation by Christ in man, is a theme on which Job Scott often dwelt and frequently wrote; and the views and openings presented to his mind, illustrative of it, are probably what he alludes to, as having “ been thought a little peculiar” to himself. On this subject, as well as some others, there are repetitions of nearly similar views and descriptions. Of this the author appeared sensible, vihen he said, “ As to doctrines, I am not afraid, that treating at different times on nearly the same subject, a little differently illustrated, will do any harm.” “ Our views of things do not usually open all at once. It is so in the individual ; it is so in the world. Things have hitherto been gradually evolving ; and it may be consistent with infinite wisdom that such a progression should always continue.”
In the arrangement of the articles comprised in this volume, the order of time, where this could be ascertained, has been mostly followed.
His Epistolary Correspondence, commencing with some of his earliest writings, is first introduced, because in divers of his letters, there is a reference to, if not a repetition of, some of the narratives and circumstances mentioned in the preceding Journal. Another reason for this preference, is contained in the sentiment of H. Tuke, that "among the various means of developing human characters, private letters form an important and interesting part.”
* See Appendix, vol. J.
The essay on Future Rewards and Punishments, in answer to Relly's Treatise of Union, appears to have been written about the year 1785 or 6. It was laid before the Meeting for Sufferings, and, as appears by a memorandum found in the original manuscript, approved, and liberty given for its publication. We are also informed that it was placed in the bands of one of the author's particular friends for that purpose, but from some peculiar circumstances, was not then published. It may now seem somewhat obsolete ; but, on a careful perusal, the concern of the author, his arguments, and illustrations of scripture testimony, may be found interesting to the reader.
The remarks on Liberty and Necessity, were penned in Ireland about three months before his decease.'
Most of the essays in this volume, and those in Appendix to vol. I., have been compared with, and corrected, where needful, by the original manuscripts, as left by the author. This may account for some variations from the printed copies of some of the essays.
JOHN COMLY. Byberry, 12th mo. 1830.