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hands of many, or at least picked up from the conversation and expressions of some persons of the mystic order. The tenets however which this blunt and illiterate man expressed in a rude, confused, and ambiguous manner, were dressed up and presented under a different form by the masterly hands of Barclay, Keith, Fisher, and Penn, who digested them with such sagacity and art, that they assumed the aspect of a regular system. The Quakers may therefore he deemed with reason the principal branch of the mystics, as they not only embraced the precepts of their hidden wisdom, but ever saw its whole tendency, and adopted without hesitation all its consequences."
b Most people are of opinion, that we are to learn the true doctrine and sentiments of the Quakers from the Catechism of Robert Barclay, and more especially from his Apology for the true Christian Divinity, &c. which was published at London in 4to. in the year 1676, and was translated into several foreign languages. Nor do I deny, that the members of this sect are very desirous that we should judge of their religious sentiments by the doctrine that is exhibited in these books. But if those who are disposed to judge by this rule go so far as to maintain, that these books contain all the religious tenets that have formerly been adyanced, or are at present adopted by the people called Quakers, they may be refuted, without difficulty, from a great variety of books and records, of unquestionable authenticity. It is necessary to enter into the true spirit of Barclay's writings. This ingenious man appeared as a patron and defender of Quakerism, and not as a professed teacher or expositor of its various doctrines ; and he interpreted and modified the opinions of this sect after the manner of a champion or advocate, who undertakes the defence of an odious cause. How then does he go to work? In the first place, he observes an entire silence in relation to those fundamental principles of Christianity, concerning which it is of great consequence to know the real opinions of the Quakers; and thus he exhibits a system of theology that is evidently lame and imperfect. For it is the peculiar business of a prudent apologist to pass over in silence points that are scarcely susceptible of a plausible defence, and to enlarge upon those only which the powers of genius and eloquence may be able to embellish and exhibit in an advantageous point of view. It is observable, in the second place, that Barclay touches in a slight, superficial, and hasty manner, some tenets, which, when amply explained, had exposed the Quakers to se vere censures; and in this he discovers plainly the weakness of his cause. Lastly, to omit many other observations that might be made here, this writer employs the greatest dexterity and art in sostening and modifying those invidious doctrines which he cannot conceal, and dare not disavow; for which purpose he carefully avoids all those phrases and terms that are made use of by the Quakers, and are peculiar to their sect, and expresses their tenets in ordinary language, in terms of a vague and indefinite nature, and in a style that casts a sort of mask over their natural aspect. At this rate the most enormous errors may be held with impunity; for there is no doctrine, however absurd, to which a plausible air may not be given by following the insidious method of Barclay; and it is well known, that even the doctrine of Spinosa was, with a like artifice, dressed out and disguised by some of his disciples. The other writers of this sect have declared their sentiments with more freedom, perspicuity, and candour, particularly the famous William Penn and George Whitehead, whose writings deserve an attentive porusal preferably to all the other productions of that community. Tbere is, among other writings of these eminent Quakers, one in whose composition they were both concerned, and which was published at London in the year 1674, under the following title ; The Christian Quaker and his Divine Testimony vindicated by Scripture, Reason, and Authorities, against the injurious Attempts that have been lately made by several Adversaries.' The first part of this book was written by Penn; and the second by Whitehead. There is also in Sewel's History, a confession of faith, that was published by the Quakers in the year 1693, during their controversy with Keith ; but this confession is composed with great prudence, and is full of am Higuity.
VII. The fundamental doctrine of Quakerism, from whence all their other tenets are derived, is that famous and ancient opinion of the mystic school, pal tenets of “ That there lies concealed in the minds of all men á certain portion of divine reason, a spark of the same wisdom that exists in the Supreme Being.” Therefore, those who are desirous of arriving at true felicity and eternal salvation, must, according to their system, by self converse, contemplation, and perpetual efforts to subdue their sensual affections, endeavour to draw forth, kindle, and inflame that divine, hidden spark, which is overpowered by the darkness of the flesh, and suffocated, as it were, by that mass of matter with which it is surrounded. They who observe this rule, will feel, say the Quakers, a divine glow of warmth and light, and hear à celestial and divine voice proceeding from the inward recesses of their souls; and by this light, and this voice, they will be led to all truth, and be perfectly assured of their union with the Supreme Being. This hidden treasure, which is possessed, though not improved, by all the human race, bears different denominations in the language of this fanatical sect. They frequently call it “ divine light,” sometimes a “ray of the eternal wisdom," at others, the “heavenly Sophia," whom they suppose married to a mortal, and whose wedding garments some of their writers describe with the most gaudy and pompous eloquence. But the most usual epithets given to this spiritual treasure are those of the internal word, and of Christ within; for as, on the one hand, they adopt that doctrine of Origin, and the ancient mystics, which represents Christ as the eternal reason, or wisdom of God; and, on the other, maintain, that all men are endowed naturally with a certain portion of the divine wisdom; they are thus directly led to affirm, that Christ, or the word of God, dwells and speaks in the - hearts of all men.
VIII. All the singularities and wonderful fancies that are to be found in the religious system of the Quakers, are the immediate consequences of the funda- that w from mental principle now mentioned. For since Christ resides in the inward frame of every mor
c It is nevertheless to be observed, that the modern Quakers, as appears from the writings of Martyn and others, are, generally speaking, ignorant of the system of their ancestors, and perpetually confound the innate divine light above mentioned, with the operations of the Holy Ghost in the minds of the faithful.
thatfiw from this fundamental dua trine.
Is that living, by signs and ey look
tal; it follows, “First, that the whole of religion consists in calling off the mind from external objects, in weakening the influence and ascendant of the outward senses, and in every one's entering deeply into the inmost recesses of his heart, and listening attentively to the divine instructions and commands that the internal word, or Christ within, delivers there; secondly, that the external word, i. e. the Holy Scripture, neither points out the way of salvation, nor leads men to it ; since it only consists of letters and words, which, being void of life, have not a degree of efficacy and power sufficient to illuminate the human mind, and to unite it to God. The only advantage that, in their opinion, results from a perusal of the Holy Scriptures, is, that they excite the mind to listen to the dictates of the internal word, and to go to the school of Christ, who teaches within them; or, to express the same thing in other words, they look upon the Bible as a mute master, who, by signs and figures, points out and discovers that living master and effectual guide who dwells in the mind. Thirdly, that they who are without this written word, such as the Jews, Mahometans, and savage nations, are not, on that account, either removed from the path, or destitute of the doctrine of salvation, though they indeed want this inferior and subordinate help to its attainment. For if they only attend to this inward teacher, who always speaketh when the man is silent, they will learn abundantly, from him, all that is necessary to be known and practised in order to their final happiness; that of consequence, fourthly, the kingdom of Christ is of a vast extent, and comprehends the whole race of mankind.. For all have Christ within them, and therefore, even those who are deprived of the means of knowledge, and live in the grossest ignorance of the Christian religion, are capable of obtaining, through him, wisdom here, and happiness hereafter. Hence also they conclude, that those who lead virtuous lives, and resist the impulse of their lusts and passions, whether they be Jews, Mahometans, or Polytheists, shall be united to God in this life, by means of the Christ that lies hidden within them, and shall enjoy the fruits of this union in the life to come. To these tenets they add, in the fifth place, that a heavy, dark body, composed of corrupt matter, hinders men from discerning, with ease, this hidden Christ, and from hearing his divine and internal voice. Therefore they look upon
it as a matter of the highest importance, to watch against the pernicious consequences of this union between the soul and body, that the latter may not blunt the powers of the former, disturb its tranquillity, or, by the ministry of the outward senses, fill it with the images of vain, sensible, and external objects.” The consideration now mentioned engages them, lastly, “To look upon it as utterly incredible, that God should ever again shut up, in the same material habitation, the souls that are set free by death from their bodily prison; and therefore they affirm that the gospel account of the resurrection of the body must either be interpreted in a figurative sense, or be understood as pointing out the creation of a new and celestial body.99d
IX. It appears evidently from all this, that the existence of the man Christ Jesus, together with the circumstantial accounts we have in Scripture of his Their doctrine divine origin, his life, and actions, his satisfaction, Cluist. merits, and sufferings, make no essential part of the theological system of the Quakers, which is built upon a different foundation, and derives the whole plan and method of salvation from the Christ within. Hence several members of that sect, as we learn from writers of unquestionable authority, went such an extravagant length as to maintain, that the accounts we have of Jesus Christ, in the gospel history, do not relate to the Son of God, who took upon him the nature of man, but to that Christ within, whose operations are recorded by the sacred historians, in a figu. rative and allegorical language. This opinion, if we may confide in the testimonies of unexceptionable witnesses, is so far from having lost its credit among them, that it is still openly professed by the American Quakers. Those of Europe, whether from the force of conviction or the suggestions of prudence, differ entirely from their brethren in this respect; they hold, “ That the divine wisdom or reason resided in the Son of the Virgin Mary, and conveyed its instructions to mankind by his ministry;" and they profess to believe, “that this divine man really did and suffered what is recorded concerning him by the sacred writers." It is nevertheless certain, that they express themselves in a very ambiguous manner on 'many points that relate to the history of the divine Saviour; and, in a more particular manner, their notions concerning the fruits of his sufferings, and the efficacy of his death, are so vague and obscure, that it is very difficult to know what is their real opinion about the degree of this efficacy, and the nature of these fruits. It is still further worthy of observation, that the European Quakers, though they acknowledge the reality of the life, actions, and sufferings of Christ, yet do not entirely reject the allegorical interpretation of our Saviour's history mentioned above ; for they consider the events that happened to Christ, in the course of his ministry here upon earth, as the signs and emblems of those scenes through which the mental Christ must pass, in order to render us partakers of eternal salvation. Hence they talk in high swoln and pompous strains, like their models the mystics, of the birth, life, sufferings, death, and resurrection of Christ in the hearts of the faithful. x. The religious discipline, worship, and practice of the
Their doctrine concerning
d The Quakers adopt all these tenets ; they are at least obliged to adopt them, unless they renounce the fundamental principles of their system. We have omitted the mention of those points about which they dispute among themselves, that we may not appear to take pleasure in representing them under odious colours.
Quakers flow from the same original source, from
gious which, as we have already observed, their docworship..trine and tenets were immediately derived. They meet for the purposes of religion on the same days which are set apart for the celebration of public worship in all other Christian churches; but they neither observe festivals, nor use external rites and ceremonies, nor suffer religion, which they place entirely in the mental worship of the hidden Christ, to be shackled and cramped by positive institutions. All the members of their community, whether male or female, have an equal right to teach and exhort in their public meetings; for who, say they, will presume to exclude from the liberty of speaking to the brethren, those persons in whom Christ dwells, and by whom he speaks? They reject the use of prayers, hymns, and the various outward forms of devotion, by which the public worship of other Christian churches is distinguished; and this indeed is an instance of their consistency with themselves, as it is the immediate consequence : of their religious system; for, in their judgment, it is not the person who expresses his desires in a set form of words, that can be said to pray truly, but he, on the contrary, who, by a deep recollection, withdraws his mind from every