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COMMONWEALTH." 515 and elevated in the scale of estimation, have monthly, quarterly, and yearly meetings of their own, though without the power of making laws. The great care taken of the poor of this society, has been attributed, and perhaps with justice, to the attention of their amiable females to that department of religion *. .
At Ackworth, a few miles from Pontefract, in Yorkshire, the Friends have a highly respectable and well-conducted school, the erection of which was chiefly promoted by Dr. Fothergill, to whose memory it is a noble monument.' Here about a hundred and eighty boys, and a hundred and twenty girls, are educated at a wonderfully moderate expense. Among other excellent regulations, no difference is allowed among the pupils in point of food, accommodation, pocket-money, or other indulgence, how various soeyer may be the circumstances of their parents. . • It is well known that Penn received from Charles II. a tract of land in America, in lieu of arrears due from government to his father, the admiral of that name. Not, however, conceiving himself to be invested with a right, which should supersede the prior possession of the natives, he summoned a council of their princes, and purchased froin
: * The seven yearly meetings are those, 1. of London, hav, ing representatives from Ireland; 2. New England; 3. New York; 4. Pennsylvania and New Jersey, &c.; 5. Mary. land ; 6. Virginia ; 7. Carolinas and Georgia,
them so much territory as suited his immediate
Associated with Penn, in the patronage of Qua-
* Many of the American Quakers held strange notions re-
See Penn's Brief Account of the Rise and Progress of the
On the other hand, Brown's Quakerism the Path to Pa-
Hist. Quakeriana tribus Libris comprehensa ; Voltaire, Mé* langes de Littérature ; Le Clerc, Biblioth. Univ. tom. xxii. p.
53; Leslie's Snake in the Grass, and other works, have been " written in opposition to the Quaker system.
Some of the Quakers in America have manifested an attachment to Socinian principles; and a female preacher, on account of inculcating them, was there recently silenced. But these sentiments are wholly disowned by the great body of Friends.
that in the great lines of doctrine their faith is strictly consentaneous with that of the purest Pro. testant churches. But let us consider the propositions in their order, commenting upon each as we go along. · The first is a postulate, or general truth, to which all denominations of Christians will, of course, accede. It acquaints us, that since the height of happiness is to know God, the first thing to be sought is the foundation of this knowledge.
2. On this right basis, however, has been reared a superstructure of error.' 'And even to the next point, which, while it teaches that it is by the Spirit that God is revealed to us, subjoins, that the inward revelations of the Spirit are not to be subjected to the testimony of Scripture, as to a touchstone, very strong objections are to be urged*. God; because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (1 John, iv. 1). Nay, the word of God has laid down to us the canon of judgment; and thus, in the trial of every claim to spiritual illumination, subordinated to itself the inward conviction of the claimant, .“ Beware of false prophets, &c. Ye shall know them by their fruits” (Matt. vii. 15, 16). • To a want of reference to this great standard it is, that the extravagances of most fanatics, and the blasphemies of Fox himself, are to be traced. We say blasphemies; for in his book, entitled, .“ News coming out of the North," p. 15, he says of himself, “ I am the door that ever was; the same. Christ yesterday, to-day, and for ever.” And again, in the introduction to his Battledore for Teachers and Professors, he says, “ All languages are to me no more than dust, who was before languages were." That these pretended secret revelations require some outward corrective, is now indeed practically admitted by the Friends themselves, in their appointment of elders, to judge and decide respecting their genuineness, in those who seek the office of teaching in the meetings.
God, in his written word, hath told us the very reverse of this : “ Beloved, believe not every spirit; but try the spirits, whether they are of
* The older Quakers were mystics ; and their singularities arose from the mystical principle of a ray of divine light, which was held to be innate in each bosom, and which was to be kindled and drawn forth by contemplation and abstraction. The modern Quakers confound this innate light with the operations of the Holy Spirit upon the souls of the faithful. All their leading particularities, however, might easily be still traced to the old mystical principle. Every maxim supposes the light within, and the necessity of abstracting the mind from those grosser enjoyments, and distracting cares, by which it might be overwhelmed and quenched.