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the spirit of the New Testament, and perfectly repre. sents the effects of its principles fully carried out, and acted upon. They never heard of Platonism, or of Pythagoras in their lives, and consequently the Polemiek tricks, and evasions, which have been, as hinted just now, resorted to by Protestant Divines, to shift from the shoulders of Christianity to those of Plato or Pythagoras, the obnoxious principles we have been consider-. ing, are of no use in this case, as, whatever the charaeters of these Shakers may be, they were formed by the N. Testament, and by nothing else : And I believe, that ev-. ery scholar in Ecclesiastical History, who reads Brown's History of the Shakers, will be immediately, and powerfully struck with the resemblance subsisting between them, and the Christians of the two first centuries.
As examples of the effects of those precepts of Christian morality, which command us to hate father, and mother, and sister, and brother, for the sake of Jesus, take the following extracts from the History referred to.
66 According to their faith, natural affection must be eradicated ; and they say they must love all equally alike, as brothers, and sisters in the gospel. It would exceed the limits of this work to give a particular account of the various schemes that have been contrived, to destroy all natural affection, and social attachment between man and wife, parent and child, brothers and sisters ; especially towards such as have left the society. Two instances that occurred about this time, as specimens of others, may suffice. A mother, who had renounced the faith, (i. e. left the society,) came to Niskeuna to see her daughter. Eldress Hannah Matterson told the daughter to go into the room to her carnal mother, and say, “ What do you come here for? I don't want you to come and see me with your carnal affections."
66 The mother being grieved, replied, “ I did not expect that a daughter of mine would ever address me in that manner.”
66 The daughter, in obedience to what she was taught, replied again, “ You have come here with your carnal fleshly desires, and I do'nt want to see you," and left her mother."
tó Some time after, one Duncan Shapley, who had belonged to the society, called to see Abigail, his sister, at Niskeuna, whom he had not seen for six or seven years : but he was not admitted; he waited some time, being loth to go away without seeing her: at last she was ordered to go to the window and address him in the language of abuse and scurrility. The words she made use of it would be indecent to mention. For this she was applauded, and that in the author's hearing, when he belonged to the society."
This man gives a very curious account how the El. ders treated their babes," in their spiritual nursery; but I shall notice only one or two examples, which il. lustrate what I have advanced concerning the natural hostility of the spirit of the New Testament towards science. “I know of several, who, soon after they joined the Church, have been counselled by the Elders to dispose of their books; and have accordingly done it. Elder Ebenezer, being at my house one day, on seeing a number of books, he said Ah! Thomas must put away his books if he intends to become a good believer.?"
As an instance of it's effect upon the human understanding, take the following. “ A short time after, being at a believer's house, at eleven o'clock at night, they all having retired to rest, and I laying awake in a dry, well finished room, in which was a stove and fire, there fell a large drup of water on my temples ; on examination, I could not discover where the water came from. I told the believers of it in the morning."
66 One said, 66 Ah! it is a warning to you respecting your unbelief."
66 I then assigned some inconclusive reason, how the ' drop might have become formed in the room, and it's falling.”
66 One replied, “ Ah! that is the way, you render a natural reason for the cause of every thing, and so reason away your faith, and yourself out of the gospel.”
As another proof, that genuine Christianity discourages marriage, and considers celibacy as the only state of perfection, the Shakers allow of no marriages at all.
Thus you see that, among these people, to become a * Good Believer,” you must insult your parents, revile
your brother, despise learning, and never render a 6 nato ural reason” for any thing, lest you should 6 reason away your faith, and yourself out of the gospel.”.
Arter having seen the uselessness, and even the danger to individuals, of the perfections, the virtues, and the duties, which Christianity peculiarly commands; let us now see whether it has a more happy influence upon politicks; or whether it produces real happiness among the nations with whom this religion is established, and the spirit of it faithfully observed. Let us do so, and we shall find, that wherever Christianity is established and obeyed, it establishes a set of laws directly opposed to those of a well ordered national society, and it soon makes this disagreement and incompatibility distinctly to be felt.
Politicks are intended to maintain'union and concord among the citizens. Christianity, though it preaches universal love, and commands its followers to live in peace : yet by a strange inconsistency, consequentially annihilates the effect of these excellent precepts, by the inevitable divisions it causes among its followers; who necessarily understand differently the Old and New Testaments, because the latter is not only irreconcilably contradictory to the former, but is even inconsistent with itself. From the very commencement of Christianity, we perceive very violent disputes among its founders and teachers. And through every succeding century, we find, in the History of the Church, nothing but schism and heresy. These are followed by persecutions and
quarrels, exceedingly well adapted to destroy this · vaunted spirit of concord, said by its defenders to be peculiar to Christianity; and the existence of which is in faet impossible in a Religion which is one entire chaos of obscure doctrines, and impracticable précepts. In every religious dispute, both parties thought that God was on their side, and consequently they were obstinate and irreconcilable. And how should it have been otherwise ? since they confounded the cause of God, with
the miserable interests of their own vanity. Thus, being little disposed to give way on one part or the otherg they cut one another's throats, they tormented, they burnt each other, they tore one another to pieces ; and having exterminated, or put down the obnoxious seets, they sung Te Deum.
It is not my intention to pursue, in this place, the horrid detail of Ecclesiastical History, as connected with that of the Roman Empire. Mr. Gibbon has exhibited in such colours this dreadful record of follies, and of crimes, that it is difficult to see how the maxim of judg. ing the tree by its fruit, will not fatally affect the cause of the Christian Religion. I refer to Mr. Gibbon's History, as a cool and impartial narrative; for I am well satisfied, that so far from having reason to complain of him, the advocates of Christianity have very great reason, indeed, to thank him for his forbearance, since with his eloquence, he might have drawn a picture that would have made humanity shudder. For, throughout the whole history, if a man had wished to know what was then thé Orthodox Faith, the best method of ascertaining it would have been, undoubtedly, to ask, “ What is the Catechism of the Publick Executioner.” .
The Christian Religion was, it is evident from his history, the principal though by no means the only cause of the Decline, and Fall of the Roman Empire. Because it degraded the spirit of the people, and because it produced monks, and hermits in abundance, but yielded no soldiers. The Heathen Adversaries of Christiana ity were in the right when they said, that “if it prevailed Rome was no more !". The Christians would not serve in the armies of the emperor, if they could possibly avoid it. They justly considered the profession of a soldier and that of a Christian as incompatible. Celcus accuses them of abandoning the empire, under whose laws they lived, to its enemies. And what is the answer of Origen to this accusation ? Look at his pitiful reply! He endeavours to palliate this undutiful refusal by representing that the Christians had their peculiar camps, in which they insessantly combatted for the safety of the Emperor and Empire, by lifting up their right handson IN PRAYER”!! [See Origen contra Cel
sum, Lib. 8, p. 427.] This is a sneaking piece of business truly! But Origen could have given another answer, if he had dared to avow it, which is, that his Coreligionists in his time had not ceased to expeet their master momentarily to appear; and of course, it little mattered what became of the Emperor, or the Empire, This notion was the principal engine for making Proselytes ; and it was by this expectation that many were frightened into Baptism.
That Christianity was considered incompatible with the military profession is evident from many passages of the Fathers. And one of them, I believe Tertullian, ventures to insinuate to the Christians in the Legions, the expediency of deserting to rid themselves of 6 their carnal employment.” Nay, to such a hight did this spirit prevail, that it never stopped, till it taught the Roman youth in Italy the expedient of cutting off the thumbs of their right-hands in order to avoid the conscription, and that they might be allowed to count their beads at home in quiet.
If we examine, in detail, the precepts of this religion, as they affect nations, we shall see, that it interdicts every thing which can make a nation flourishing. We have seen already the notion of imperfection which Christianity attaches to marriage, and the esteem, and preference it holds out to celibacy. These ideas certainly do not favour population, which is without contradiction the first source of power to every state. 'n
Commerce is not less obnoxious to the principles of a Religion whose founder is represented as denouncing an anathema against the rich, and as excluding them from the Kingdom of Heaven. All industry is equally interdicted to perfect Christians, who are to spend their lives “as strangers, and pilgrims upon earth," and who are < not to take care of the morrow.”
Chrysostom says, that " a merchant cannot please God, and that such a one ought to be chased out of the Church.”
No Christian also without being inconsistent, can serye in the army. For a man, who is never sure of being in a state of grace, is the most extravagant of men, if by the hazard of battle, he exposes himself to