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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."
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, Christ. 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."
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.
It is nevertheless certain, that they express themselves in a very ambiguous manner on many points thai 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
Quakers flow from the same original source, from Tileipnerings which, as we have already observed, their doc
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
outward object, reducesit to a state of absolute tranquillity, silences every inward motion and affection, and plunges it, as it were, into the abyss of Deity. They neither observe the institution of baptism, nor do they renew the remembrance of Christ's death, and of the benefits that result from it, by the celebration of the eucharist. They look upon these two institutions as merely Judaical, and allege, that our Saviour observed them for no other end than to show for once, in a visible manner, the mystical purification of the soul, under the figure of baptism, and the spiritual nourishment of the inward man, under that of the eucharist.
xi. The moral doctrine of the Quakers, which is re: markable for its excessive austerity, is chiefly Their moral comprehended in the two following precepts; first, precepts
. “ That the faithful are either to avoid entirely every thing that tends to gratify the external senses and passions, every thing that can be ranked under the denomination of sensual or bodily pleasure ; or, if such rigorous abstinence be impossible in this present state, and contrary to the evident laws of nature, such pleasure is to be so modified and restrained by reason and meditation, as to prevent its debasing and corrupting the mind. For as the whole attention of the mind must be given to the voice and orders of the internal guide, so, for this purpose, all possible care must be taken to remove it from the contagion of the body, and from all intimate and habitual commerce with corporeal objects.” By the second leading precept of morality among the Quakers, all imitation of those external manners, that go by the name of civility and politeness, as also several matters of form, usual in the conduct of life, and in the connexions of human society, are strictly prohibited as unlawful. Hence they are easily distinguished from all other Christian sects, by their outward deportment and their manner of life. They never salute any person they meet in their way, nor employ in their conversation the usual manner of address, and the appellations that civility and custom have rendered a matter of decency, at least, if not of duty; they never express their respect for magistrates, or persons in authority, either by bodily gestures, titles of honour, or in general by any of the marks of homage that are paid them by persons of all other denominations. They carry their pacific sentiments to such
an extravagant length, as to renounce the right of self-defence, and let pass with impunity, and even without resistance, the attacks that are made on their possessions, their reputation, nay, on their lives. They refuse to confirm their testimonies by an oath, to appear in behalf of their property before 'a civil tribunal, or to accuse those who have injured them. To these negative parts of their external conduct, they add peculiar circumstances of a positive kind, that discover the same austere, stiff, proud, and formal spirit; for they distinguish themselves, in a striking manner, from the rest of their fellow-citizens, by the gravity of their aspect, the rustic simplicity of their apparel, the affected tone of their voice, the stiffness of their conversation, and the frugality of their tables. It is however affirmed by persons of credit, who are eyewitnesses of what passes among the members of this sect, that the modern, and more especially the English Quakers, whom trade has furnished with the means of luxury, have departed from this rigid and austere manner of life, and daily grow more reconciled to the outward pleasures and enjoyments of the world. These more sociable Quakers are also said to modify and explain the theology of their ancestors, in such a manner, as to render it more rational than it was in its primitive state. At the same time it is certain, that many
of the members of this sect have either a false notion, or no notion at all, of that ancient theology. XII. The principles of this community seem to exclude
the very idea of order, discipline, and ecclesiastiTelete corical of cal government. Its leading members however,
began to perceive, in process of time, that with out laws and rulers it could not subsist, but must inevitably fall into confusion and ruin. They accordingly erected a council of elders, who discuss and determine matters of a doubtful or difficult nature, and use all possible care and diligence in inspecting the conduct of the brethren, and in preventing whatever they look upon as prejudicial to the interests of the community. The names of those that enter into the state of wedlock are given in to those leading members, who also keep an exact register of the births and deaths that happen in their society. They exercise, moreover, a certain degree of authority over those who speak in their meetings; since it is well known, that in
some places these speakers show their discourses to the ruling elders before they deliver them, in order that they may judge whether or no they are fit to be repeated in public. For since the abuse that was made of the unbounded liberty that every individual had to instruct and exhort the congregation, and to speak and harangue when the pretended spirit moved them, new regulations have been observed; and this liberty has been considerably modified, in several places, to avoid the moekery, contempt, and censure, to which the community was constantly exposed, by the absurd, incoherent, and insipid discourses of many of its members. There are also in some of the more considerable congregations, and more especially in those that are erected at London, certain persons, whose vocation it is to be always prepared to speak to the people, in case none of the congregation find themselves inwardly moved, or disposed to perform that office. The appointment of these professed speakers was designed to remedy an inconveniency that frequently happened in the Quaker meetings, even that the whole assembly was dismissed without either instruction or exhortation, because none found themselves moved to speak. It is indeed to be observed, that this public discourse is not looked upon by the Quakers as an essential part of their religion and worship; for the brethren and sisters do not meet that they may hear the words of an external teacher, but that they may listen with recollection to the voice of the divine instructer, which every one carries with him in his own breast, or, to use their own phrase, that they may commune with themselves. Nevertheless, as these mute assemblies excite the laughter of their adversaries, and expose them to the reproach of enthusiasm and phrensy, they have, on that account, appointed fixed speakers, to whom they give a small salary, that the whole time of their meeting may not be passed in silence.
The Quakers have, annually, a general assembly of the whole sect, which meets at London, the week before Whitsunday, and is composed of deputies from all their particular congregations. They still complain, notwithstanding the toleration they enjoy, of certain severities and hard
Dd The truth of this account of fixed speakers, appointed to discourse and exhort, when the spirit does not move any of the other brethren, and rewarded for their pains, is denied by the writer of the Letter to Dr. Formey: we leave the decision of the matter to those who have an opportunity of examining the fact. VOL. IV.