Page images
PDF
EPUB

worthy of all the pains and efforts that can be bestowed upon

him. The religion of the Quakers furnishes also à cause, which occasions them to consider man in an elevated light. They view him, as may be collected from the preceding voInme, as a temple of the Spirit of God. There is no man so mean in station who is not made capable by them of feeling the presence of the Divinity within him. Neither sect, nor country, nor colour, excludes him, in their opinion, from this presence. But it is impossible to view man as a tabernacle, in which the Divinity may reside, without viewing him in a dignified manner. And though this doctrine of the agency of the Spirit dwelling in man belongs to many other Christian Societies, yet it is no where $o systematically acted upon as by that of the Quakers.

These considerations may probably induce the reader to believe, that the trait of benevolence, which has been affixed to the Quaker-character, has not been given it in vain. There can be no such feeling for the moral interests of man, or such a benevolent attention towards him in his temporal capacity, where 'men have been accustomed to see one another in low and degrading characters, as where no such spectacles have occurred : nor can there be such a genuine or well-founded love towards him, where men, on a signal given by their respective Governments, transform their pruning-hooks into spears, and become tigers to one another without any private provocation, as where they can be brought under no condition whatever to lift up their arm to the injury of any of the human race. SECTION II.

There must, in a practical system of equality, be a due

appreciation of man as man. There must, in a system, where it is a duty to watch over him for his good, be a tender affection towards him as a fellow-creature. And in a system, which considers him as a temple in which the Divine Being may dwell, there must be a respect towards him, which will have something like the appearance of a be. nevolent disposition to the world.

[ocr errors][merged small]

Trait of benevolence includes, again, good-will to

wards man in his religious capacityQuaker's said to have no spirit of persecution, nor to talk with bitterness respecting other religious sects this trait probable because, nothing in their doctrine that narrows love-their sufferings on the other hand-and their law against detractionand their aversion to make religion a subject of common talk--all in favour of this trait.

The word Benevolence, when mentioned as a trait in the character of the Society, includes also good-will to man in his religious capacity.

It has often been observed of the Quakers, that they show no spirit of persecution, and that you

seldom hear them talk with bitterness respecting other religious Societies.

On the first part of this amiable quality ic may be observed, that they have never had any great power of exercising dominion over others in matters of religion. In America, where they have had the greatest, they have conducted themselves well. William Penn secured to every colonist the full rights of men as to religious opinion and worship. If the spirit of persecution is ever to be traced to them, it must be found in their writings on the subject of Religion. In one or two of the productions of their first. authors, who were obliged to support their opinions by controversy, there is certainly an appearance of an improper warmth of temper; but it is remarkable that, since those times, scarcely a book has appeared, written by a Quaker, against the religion of another. Satisfied with their own religious belief, they seem to have wished only to be allowed to enjoy it in peace. For when they have appeared as polemical writers, it has been principally in defence of themselves.

secured

On the second part of this amiable quality I may remark, that it is possible, in the case of tithes, where their temper has been tried by expensive distraints and hard imprisonments, that they may utter a harsh expression against a system, which they believe to be antichristian, and which they consider also as repugnant to equity, inasmuch as it compels them to pay labourers, who perform nó work in their own harvest. But this feeling is

only

count.

only temporary, and is seldom extended beyond the object that produces it. They have never, to my knowledge, spoken with bitterness against Churchmen on this ac

Nor have I ever heard them, in such a season of suffering, pass the slightest reflection

upon their faith. That this trait of benevolence to man in his religious capacity is probably true, I shall endeavour to show according to the method I have proposed.

There is nothing, in the first place, in the religious doctrines of the Society, which can produce a narrowness of mind in religion, or a contempt for the creeds of others. I have certainly in the course of my life known some bigots in religion; though, like the Quakers, I censure no man for his faith. I have known some, who have considered Baptism and the Sacrament of the Supper as such essentials in Christianity, as to deny that those, who scrupled to admit them, were Christians. I have known others pronouncing an anathema against persons, because they did not believe the Atonement in their own way.

I have known others; again, who have descended into the greatest

depths

« PreviousContinue »