« הקודםהמשך »
Philadelphia, 4th Month 10th, 1811.
[The following Vindication was published at the end of the edition of Mosheim's Ecclesiastical History, printed in Philadelphia in 1800. It is but just to remark, that, as far as regards the religious society called Quakers, the translation of A. Maclaine is very faulty ; the translator has interwoven his own sentiments in such a manner with those of the original author, both in the notes and in the text, that it is impossible for a mere English reader to distinguish them ; and in divers instances, he has entirely contradicted him. This will be evident to all, if a literal translation of Mosheim shall ever be published.*
VINDICATION OF THE QUAKERS.
TO THE EDITORS OF THE FIRST AMERICAN EDITION OF MOSHEIM'S ECCLE
An American edition of MosHEIM's ECCLESIASTICAL HisTORY being nearly completed, in which is contained a very false account of the principles, doctrine, and discipline of our religious society; a very erroneous character of George Fox, and divers other misrepresentations and untrue charges; and although full answers and refutations of these calumnies have been heretofore published, yet as this work may fall into the hands of persons unacquainted with the true state of facts, we think it a point of justice due to the cause of truth and to our religious society, and for the information of candid and unprejudiced minds, briefly to give what from authentic histories and our own knowledge we are ascertained is a just narration.
Men who consider themselves accountable for their words and actions, and think it bighly criminal to deceive
* The editor of the present edition, since the above note was sent for publication, has obtained a literal and accurate translation, from a Latin 4to. copy in the library at Cambridge. And, by comparing it with A. Maclaine's translation, discovers that Mr. M. has taken an unauthorized freedom with his author; and, in many instances, been very profuse and invective.
To a candid reader it would evidently appear, that Mr. Maclaine " has interwo. yen his own sentiments' with unusual acrimony.
others, by either disguising or falsification, who are wellinformed and acquainted with the facts and subjects they relate or write upon, are entitled to greater credit than prosessed and avowed opposers, who from mistaken motives publish distortions and misconstructions. From the misrepresentations and wrong accounts given by our adversaries, we have no doubt Mosheim has taken most of his narrative.
The true character of George Fox has been drawn by men of the first respectability and the fullest information; men who were conversant with him from his youth to his close; and a cloud of witnesses and authentic testimonies can be produced to prove, that he was a pious, sober, solid, and exemplary man, and no fanatic; eminently qualified for the work he was raised up to promote. As we wish to be brief, we shall omit recurring to other documents, and only cite a few sentences from a preface to George Fox's Journal, written by William Penn, as follows: “He was a man that God endowed with a clear and wonderful depth, a discerner of others' spirits, and very much a master of his own.
“He was of an innocent life, no busy body nor self-seeker, neither touchy nor critical. So meek, contented, modest, steady, tender, it was a pleasure to be in his company.
“ As he was unwearied, so he was undaunted in his services for God. For in all things he acquitted himself like å man, a new and heavenly-minded man, a divine and a naturalist, and all of God Almighty's making. I have been surprised at his questions and answers in natural things, that whilst he was ignorant of useless and sophistical science, he had in him the foundation of useful and commendable knowledge, and cherished it every where.
“ Thus he lived and sojourned among us, and as he lived, so he died, feeling in his last moments the same eternal power that had raised and preserved him.”
Instead of the first association of Quakers“ being mostly composed of visionary fanatics, and of persons that really seened to be disordered in their brains," William Penn, in his aforesaid preface, gives the names of a number of eminent men who became members, of this society, and who were instrumental with many others, in spreading and propagating the doctrines which they had espoused, and also of establishing a discipline and church government which
must be allowed to be a compact and well-regulated system of good order.
The charge of their “running like bacchanals through the towns and villages, declaiming against episcopacy, presbyterianism, and every fixed form of religion, &c. trampling upon the laws, and making use of their pretended inspirations to excite the most vehement commotions both in church and state," and divers other scandalous aspersions, we deny.
That tumults were raised by their opposers, is very true, and also that they refused complying with laws which they conceived as violating the rights of conscience; but that in any one instance they offered violence to the person of any man, or departed from their peaceable testimony, is false. That they bore beatings, imprisonment, and death, with patience, meekness, and perseverance, praying for their enemies, is a fact indisputable and of great notoriety; so that in time, when the clouds of prejudice were dissipated, and their innocence fully manifested, way was made in the minds of rulers for their toleration : and this
with truth be said, that such of them as keep true to their principles, are as good members of civil society as any other people, and have never been found in any plots or combinations against the governments, which, in the course of providence, have been set over them.
The conduct of James Naylor, in his dark and bewildered state, we freely condemn; but his punishment was rigorous in the extreme. That two or three weak persons were deluded, and paid a sort of divine honour to him, is confessed; but that this was in any degree countenanced by our religious society, is positively denied; but on the contrary, was fully reprobated by them. Although James Naylor had lamentably missed his way, yet we have reason to believe, he was, through divine mercy, restored to a sound mind. He published a condemnation of his misconduct, and we reverently hope he died in peace with God and love to all men.
As to the absurd story of “one of these people going to the parliament house with a drawn sword, and wounding several, and saying he was inspired by the Holy Spirit to kill every man that sat in that house,” it is a very fiction, and we deny that any acknowledged member among us ever was guilty of such conduct.
We have also made diligent search, and cannot find any account of a female going naked, as mentioned in the same note, and believe it is untrue.
That George Keith was a man of learning and a member of our society, and wrote several pieces in support of our tenets, is true; but that he gave way to a contentious spirit, and endeavoured to lay waste what he himself had assisted to build up; and was, after much patient labour and forbearance disowned by friends, we acknowledge; and that an opposition was made to the establishment of meetings for discipline, by some through ignorance, who afterward saw their error and condemned it, and by others from mistaken motives; but that our fundamental opinions have been the same from the first promulgation of them, we confidently assert.
We believe the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be of divine original, and give full credit to the historical facts, as well as the doctrines therein delivered; and never had any doubt of the truth of the actual birth, life, sufferings, death, resurrection, and ascension of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, as related by the evangelists, without any mental or other reserve, or the least diminution, by allegorical explanation; and there is not, nor ever has been, any essential difference in faith or practice between Friends in Europe and America; but a correspondence is regularly maintained, and love, harmony, and unity have been preserved down to this day; and we hope and believe, under divine favour, nothing will be able to scatter or divide us.
We do not wish to meddle with those called mystics, or to adopt many of their expressions. We presume there were sincerely religious people among them: but we think religion is a simple thing, the work of the Spirit of God in the hearts of men; and as to our tenets and history, we refer to Fox, Barclay, Penn, Sewel, Gough, &c. and declare, that we never had, nor now have, any other doctrines to publish, and that there are no religious opinions or practices among us which have not been made known to the world.
When any person, by submitting to the influence and operation of the Spirit of God, becomes thereby qualified, and is called to the work of the ministry, after having made full proof thereof to the satisfaction of the congregation, he or she is accepted and recommended as such ; but as to any person being appointed with a stipend, small or great, or preparing a sermon to be delivered in our meetings, to be previously examined, or without such examination, there never was any such practice among us. Our ministers, elders, overseers, and other friends appointed to religious services, receive no pecuniary pay, but spend their time and their own money freely on such occasions, at home and abroad; yet proper attention is given to those in low or poor circumstances of every description, besides contributing our full proportion to the support of the general poor. Equally untrue is the insinuation that we are ashamed of our silent meetings, having experienced them to be both profitable and refreshing, as by waiting on the Lord, we renew our strength in him.
Having referred to divers books for further information respecting us, and a more minute refutation of the other false charges, we shall content ourselves at present with this general answer.
Signed by direction and in behalf of a meeting representing the religious society
called Quakers in Pennsylvania, New-Jersey, &c. held in PHILADELPHIA, the 22d of 11th Month, 1799.
JOHN DRINKER, CLERK.