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up their houses, whose hearts are overwhelmed with sorrow! And, in the second place, the event, which is celebrated, may not always be a matter of joy to good minds. The birth-day of a prince, for example, may be ushered in as welcome, and the celebration of it may call his actions to mind, upon which a reflection may produce pleasure; but the celebration of the slaughter or devastation of mankind can afford no happiness to the Christian.
They consider the practice, again, accompanied as it is with all its fiery instruments, as dangerous and cruel. For, how
For, how many accidents have happened, and how many lives have been lost, upon such occasions !
They consider it, again, as replete with evil. The wild uproar which it creates, the mad and riotous joy which it produces, the licentiousness which it favours, the invidious comparisons which it occasions, the partial favour which it fixes on individuals who have probably no moral merit, the false joys which it holds out, and the enmity which it has on some occasions a tendency to perpetuate, åre so many additional arguments against it in the opinion of the Quakers.
For these and other reasons they choose not to submit to the custom, but to bear their testimony against it, and to run the hazard of having their windows broken, or their houses pillaged, as the populace may dictate. And in the same manner, if there be
any other practice, in which the world may expect them to coincide, they reject it, fearless of the consequences, if they believe it to be productive of evil.
This noble practice of bearing testimony by which a few individuals attempt to stem the torrent of immorality by opposing themselves to its stream, and which
be sidered as a living martyrdom, does, in a moral point of view, a great deal of good to those, who conscientiously adopt it. It recalls first principles to their minds. It keeps in their remembrance the religious rights of man.
It teaches them to reason upon principle, and to make their estimates by a moral standard. It is productive both of patience and of courage. It occasions them to be kind, and attentive, and merciful, to those, who are persecuted and oppressed. It throws them into the presence of the Divinity when they are persecuted themselves.
In short, it warms their moral feelings, and elevates their religious thoughts. Like oil, ir keeps them from rusting. Like a whetstone, it gives them a new edge. Take away this practice from the constitution of the members of this Society, and you pull down a considerable support of their moral charàcter. It is a great pity, that, as professing Christians, we should not more of us incorporate this noble principle individually into our religion. We concur unquestionably in customs, through the fear of being reputed singular, of which our hearts do not always approve, though nothing is more true than that a Christian is expected to be singular with respect to the corruptions of the world. What an immensity of good would be done, if cases of persons, choosing rather to suffer than to temporize, were so numerous as to attract the general notice of men! Would not every case of suffering operate as one of the most forcible lessons, that could be given, to those who should see it? And how long would that infamous system have to live, which makes a distinction between political expediency and moral right?
A fourth trait is, that in political affairs they reason upon principle, and not from consequences—this mode of reasoning ensures the adoption of the maxim of not doing evil that good may come had Quakers been legislators, many public evils had been avoided, which are now known in the world-existence of this trait probable from the influence of the former trait—and from the influence of the peculiar customs of the Quakersand from the influence of their system of discipline
upon their minds. The next trait, which I shall lay open to the world as belonging to the Quaker-character, is that in all those
may be called political, the members of this Society generally reason upon principle, and but seldom upon consequences.
I do not know of any good quality, which ever impressed me more, in all my intercourse with them, than this. It was one of those, which obtruded itself to my notice on my first acquaintance with them, and it
has continued equally conspicuous to the
If an impartial philosopher from some unknown land, and to whom our manners and opinions and history were unknown, were introduced suddenly into our metropolis, and were to converse with the Quakers there on a given political subject, and to be directly afterwards conveyed to the west end of the town, and there to converse with politicians, or men of fashion, or men of the world, upon the same, he could not fail to be greatly surprised. If he thought the former wise, or virtuous, or great, he would unavoidably consider the latter as foolish, or vicious, or little. Two such opposite conclusions, as he would hear deduced from the reasonings of each, would impress him with an idea that he had been taken to a country inhabited by two different races of men, He would never conceive that they had been educated in the same country, or under the same Government. If left to himself, he would probably imagine that they had embraced two different religions. But if he were told that they professed the same, he would then say that the precepts of this