« הקודםהמשך »
resisted; and, even if the conscience should be offended by: submitting to them, the penalties are to be patiently borne. Moral education ought to be the object of particular attention; and it is the duty of every religious community, not only to assist its poor members in point of bodily comfort, but to provide for the instruction of their children. The dignity of man requires, that his word should be equivalent to an oath ; and the Scriptures: in the most positive manner, confirm this sentimente Trade is not in itself degrading; but honesty, and a punctual adherence to engagements, are requisite for its prosecution, and such branches as may be attended with the moral detriment of the trader himself or of others, ought to be carefully avoided by every Christian,:6
These principles unquestionably exhibit the Quakers in the light of a moral sect; and those who are well acquainted with them will not deny their general claim to that character. They may also be regarded as a friendly community, if not distinguished by politeness of behaviour or elegance of manners. Shrewdness and good sense are frequently observed among them, though we cannot affirm that many of them are eminent for learning or erudition.
The Quakers, when their sect had been fully formed, were scarcely ever divided by doctrinal disputes ; but, early in the present century, they began to be agitated by a spirit of dissension; and the committee of manage ment, selected at one of the annual meetings, seemert willing to assume a degree of authority which the synod never intended to allow. One of the friends, in a spirited pamphlet, animadverted upon this arrogant conduct, and particularly censured the proceedings against Hannah Bernard, an itinerant expounder of Quakerism, who, for denying the Trinity, expressing her disbelief in miracles, and differing from the committee in other points, bad been prohibited from preaching. William Matthews also took up the pen against the new dictators, whom he ag cused of having arbitrarily excommunicated him fori such doctrinal variations as he was prepared to justify.coDis:
23: V!!) hirib
serisions of this kind are occasionally renewed, without leading, however, to a violent explosion. ** Although the Unitarians had been excused from the obligation of subscribing the thirty-nine articles, they were not satisfied while the act of king William hung over their heads, menacing them with penal inflictions, if they should deny the Trinity either in conversation or in writing ; but from this state of apprehension they were relieved in the year 1813. Another ground of dissatisfaction still remained'; for their marriages, like those of the catholics, were not considered as legal, when the ceremonies were merely accordant to their own ritual. · They therefore repeatedly applied to the parliament for a redress of this grievance. On their last application, in 1825, they were alarmed at the declaration of the lord-chancellor, that, however they might think themselves protected by statute law, they are yet liable to prosecution and punishment, by the common law of the land, for denying that doctrine which is an essential part of Christianity. They loudly complained of this insinuation, and declared that they would take the earliest opportunity of obviating its effects. The learned judge says that they are not Christians, as they deny the divinity of our Redeemer; and yet he connives at the toleration enjoyed by the Jews, the avowed enemies of every establishment which bears the impress of Christianity. He has uniformly opposed their efforts to procure an act of parliament for the solemnisation of their marriages according to their own forms, and, in this pertinacity, he is supported by the majority of the peers, in defiance of the arguments and influence of his more liberal friend, the prime minister. There is no good reason for with-holding so slight a favor, or (as the Uni. tarians would say) so just a claim.
A new association has been formed upon the same basis. The framers of this society were at first Universalists, and so far orthodox as to be Trinitarians; but a doubt arose in the mind of one of the members, whether the holy Trinity really existed, and, in the progress of deliberation, he convinced himself that the idea of the divine Unity was a more rational doctrine. By the plausi
bility of his arguments he drew others into his opinioni and, when the pastor of the flock pronounced it to be heretical, a secession was the natural result. The seceders publicly declared the motives and reasons of their cons duct, and, as if they were at a loss for an ecclesiastical constitution, and had never before thought icofsisuek a subject, attentively studied the New Testamenty with a view of ascertaining the nature and the laws of is the primitive Christian church. The result of this inquiry was a conviction that the unity of the church was one of its principal characteristics; that the equality of oits members distinguished the kingdom of Jesus from all political realms, and formed the true ground and security of Christian liberty ; that this general equality oughtspot to prevent the appointment of elders and of deacons, whe might preserve order in the establishment, and superinis tend its concerns; that not only these, but all the meme bers of their society, had a right to teach and exhortyqsa as to preclude the necessity of appointing regular preacha ers; and that it was a sufficient ground of communion with their sect, to acknowlege the authority of Christvåg a divine teacher, without regard to the various doctrines which have been engrafted upon that simple basis. They style themselves Free-thinking Christians, and appear to have made some progress in impressing others with their sentiments.
is c6 barbia While these sectaries were extending their influencera scheme of union was framed by the advocates of the same general principles. It was proposed, in the year 1885 that three partial societies should be united under the title of the British and Foreign Unitarian Association, which would be authorised to embrace every object, and circumstance connected with the propagation of Unita: rianism. The proposal was readily adopteds sandyoas many protestant dissenters had lately joined in the petis tions presented to the parliament against the relief of the catholics, the assembly took this opportunity of expressi ing a thorough disavowal and disapprobationis of ssitaika conduct, and a determination to support everly setting which might be made to break the chains imposed by
interested or short-sighted policy upon the sacred rights of oonsciencellor's o 21 Some years before this concentration of Unitarian strength, a secession from the established church occurred, not perhapse very important, but at least entitled to our notice. Several ministers, who had been in the habit of conferring okti vreligious topics, began to question the propriety of cohtinuing in a state of external adherence to the church, whiep ntheytentertained what they deemed reasonable objec tions to various parts of the ritual and the liturgy, and also disapproved the enforced dependence of the church (according to the present constitution) upon the temporal power. The baptismal service, they said, prescribed a ritual observance in lieu of a divine and spiritual operation : in the service appropriated to the dead, everyone was styled a Chris tian, whereas many who were thus honored were merely sorin external profession ; and the Athanasian creed was repugnant to that scriptural declaration which promised salvation to all who believed in Christ. "They at length resolved to renounce the general assent which they had given at their ordination to the thirty-nine articles, the homilies, and the prayer-book, while they readily acquiesced in particular clauses of those branches of our rebigious system; and, being conscientious men, they resigned their ecclesiastical preferments, which they considered as the wages of error, if not of iniquity." They then began to exercise their new ministry in the vicinity oftaunton ; but, being considered as Antinomians, they Werelnot so far respected as to be enabled to make great progress in the work of proselytism. They agreed with the Methodists in their opinion of faith, which alone, they thought, could produce a sinner's justification; and, when ituwas argued against them that they did not sufficiently inculcate the axiom of religious obedience, they alleged that theirnenforcement of the principle or the theory would lead to the requisite practice. They believed (as farsaş Apel canin judge from the opinions of some indiJiduals of their number) that Christ existed with God before the creation of the present world, and that he is yd D520qui artisit) 1 : A
نه توز فيه
the proper object of religious worship, the prophet, priest, and king of the church; and they leaned to the doctrine of election, without making it so prominent a part of their system as the rigid Calvinists do. With regard to the Trinity, they held a middle course between the orthodox clergy and the Unitarians. Some variations have occurred in their opinions since their original secession ; but these are of little moment, and are such as might reasonably be expected from sectaries who have not framed a deliberate creed.
The reveries of Joanna Southcott we mentioned on a former occasion. She continued her delusions long after the commencement of this century, and not only retained her influence over her original followers, but drew many more into her train. A seal, bearing the initials of her name, which she pretended to have accidentally found when she was at work in her master's house, furnished her with a pretence for declaring that she was authorised by Pro: vidence to propagate a new revelation ; and, in the unidst of her spiritual avocations, she derived temporal advad: tage from the sale of sealed passports for the admission of the faithful into the celestial regions. Near the close of her life, in the year 1814, she impudently announced her self as the future mother (though a virgin) of the Shiloh promised in holy writ. Her followers now became still more numerous, and, by their senseless liberality, presents were lavished upon the supposed object of divine favor, that the approaching birth might be celebrated with due splendor. The lady, however, died without enjoying the honor of being a mother. Many of her friends would not believe that she was actually dead, and fondly expected the speedy resuscitation of the spark of life : buty after an anxious suspense of four days, they resigned their hopes and suffered her to be consigned, like an ordinary mortal, to the grave. Her chaplain then declared, that she had renounced, on her death-bed, the visions of her disordered brain; yet there are still, it is said, many who are not ashamed to own that they yet follow her opinions. It might have been supposed that her recantation would have put
13 chot priel