Page images
PDF
EPUB

of antiquity standing, as if his religion was not intended to extirpate the very groundwork of it?

Finally, they are confirmed in their ideas upon this subject, from a belief that oaths were to cease either at the coming of Jesus Christ, or as men became Christians. For, in the first place, the oath “ by the name of God” is considered by some, as I have before noticed, to have been permitted to the Jews during their weak state, that they might not swear by the idols of their contemporary neighbours, and thus lose sight of the only and true God. But what Christian stands in need of any preservative against idolatry, or of any commemorative of the existence and superintendence of an almighty, wise, beneficent, and moral Governor of the World ? Some, again, have imagined, that as the different purifications among the Jews, denoting the holiness of God, signified that it became men to endeavour to be holy,—so the oath by the name of God, denoting the verity of God, signified that it became men to devote themselves to the truth. But no true Christian stands in need of such symbols to make him consider his word as equivalent to his oath. Others, again, have imagined that the oath “ by the name of God” typified the Truth, or the Eternal Word. But as the type ceases when the antitype appears ---SO the coming of Jesus Christ, who in the Gospel-language is called both the Truth and the Eternal Word, may be considered as putting an end to this, as to other types and shadows of the Jewish church. Isto Vi ? By the in the

[ocr errors][merged small]

CHAPTER III.

SECTION I.

War-Tenet on war-Quakers hold it unlawful for

Christians to fight--scriptural passages which they produce in support of this tenet-_arguments which others produce from scriptural authority against it-reply of the Quakers to these argu

ments, The next of the great tenets, which the members of this Society hold, is on the subject of War. They believe it unlawful for Christians to engage in the profession of arms, or indeed to bear arms, under any circumstance of hostility whatever. Hence there is no such character as that of a Quaker-soldier. A Quaker is always able to avoid the regular army, because the circumstance of entering into it is generally a matter of choice. But where he has no such choice, as is the case in the militia, he either submits, if he has property, to distraint upon it; or, if he has not, to prison.

The

The Quakers ground the illicitness of war on several passages,

which are to be found in the New Testament*. I shall not quote all the texts, which they bring forward, but shall make a selection of them on this occasion.

Jesus Christ, in the famous sermon which he preached upon the mount, took occasion to ention specifically some of the precepts of the Jewish law, and to inform his hearers that he expected of those, who were to be his true disciples, that they would carry these to a much higher extent in their practice under the New Dispensation, which he was then affording them. Christianity required a greater perfection of the human character than was required under the Law. Men were not only not to kill, but not even to cherish the passion of revenge.

* The Quakers have been charged with inconsistency in refusing military service, and yet in paying those taxes, which are expressly for the support of wars. To this charge they reply, That they believe it to be their duty " to render to Cæsar the things which are Cæsar's," and to leave the application of it to Cæsar himself as lie judges best for the support of Government. This duty they collect from the example of Jesus Christ, who paid the tribute-money himself, and ordered his Disciples to do it, and this to a Government not only professedly military, but distinguished for its idolatry and despotism, Personal service, however, they conceive to militate against a positive command by our Saviour, which will be explained in this chapter.

a greater says,

And « Whereas it was said of old, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth, I say unto you, says Christ, that ye

resist not evil. But whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also*.” And further on in the same chapter he

" Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies t, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you. For, if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” Now the Quakers are of opinion, that no man can receive this doctrine in his heart, and assist either offensively or defensively in the operations of war. Other

passages, quoted by the members of * Matt. v. 38, &c.

+ The Heathen nations, on account of their idolatry, were called Enemies by the Jews.

« PreviousContinue »