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flashes of the light, they felt its reality and they know (no religionists speak more confidently) that it is true. If ever they reform, it will be of course according to all the formalities and usages of Friends; now they are gay and dissipated, but they are still Friends :--and education has decided their creed! Hence a Friend is always established and unalterable ; and this without examination, without knowledge, and (I fear) without prayer! Hence he never changes, but plods onward and dies as he lives—a Friend! In this Friends often, very often, glory. If a man is once made acquainted with Friends' principles, say they, he can never wholly “get rid of it.” Of this I have often been myself reminded! And in general it is truth! But is this any argument, or one of their best, for the truth of their system? It may prove the strength of false and early and habituated impressions alone! It may prove that the system has nothing to do with evidence; that it is purely mechanical, and that it only enslaves its disciples : it may prove that the whole concern is nothing better than an organized system of prejudice. Such a process may make Friends, just as, in a change of circumstances, it also makes Deists, Mahommedans, Jews, Romanists, Pagans, or even Atheists! Now, it is a known principle in the philosophy of mind, that a man can seldom be by evidence corrected from that course of which he was not by evidence convinced; he cannot be reasoned out of error, if he was not at first reasoned into it! If it were reasoning that makes an infidel, reasoning could much more convert him
But when passion, pride, prejudice, education, personal influence, social sympathies, interest, fashion, worldly considerations, or profligacy, or a combination of such causes, make for a man his principles or persuasion in religion, he is ordinarily shut against the light of evidence; he is proof to the truth and the grace of the gospel. His soul is the victim, and heaven the forfeiture! and justly, for no man, young or old, has a right to believe without evidence, and to be led by mere dictation, in the awful matters of salvation and eternity! God has furnished us with full and perfect evidence of his own being and perfections; of his ways of administration with men; and of the unalterable principles of his moral empire ; of the person and offices of his Son, and of the only way of salvation “through his blood” and by faith in his name! And “how shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation ?"
I do not however deny that there are good things, such as they are, in the style of education adopted by Friends. There are many good things in itfor the present world, which would be infinitely better, were it not for the world to come! They make their children commonly industrious, orderly, economical, tender in their affections, obedient to parents, regular in their habits, moderate in their desires, comfortable in their dwellings, and respectable-often rich! in society. This they do in a certain form, to a good degree, and with a fearful amount of degenerate exceptions not equally recognised by ordinary observers. But what is all this to an immortal, who must obey the gospel of Jesus
Christ or-perish for ever! What is all this, if, with so much of temporal convenience, they undermine the welfare of his soul and effectually prejudice him against the religion of Jesus Christ? What of all this, if they have given him principles of religion perfectly incorrigible and fundamentally wrong? They have done him the greatest possible disservice, which is all the worse for the good things that accompany it.
Friends have one advantage in respect to reputation, touching apostates and delinquents of the society “disowned,” which is peculiar to themselves. Their degenerate sons forego the costume, and so exonerate the society. Hence their relation to Friends, being no longer advertised along the streets, in “plainness of speech, behavior, and apparel,” becomes as though it was not or had never been. Thus the public in effect grant them total irresponsibility in this matter; and judge of them as if their best appearing specimens were all; and so frame all their associations in their favor. In the mean time, Souvenirs, and Tokens, and Amulets, and all the harpings of semi-pagan minstrelsey and popular sentimentalism, the sickliness of refined religion that proposes a way to heaven less vulgar than that of “repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ;" all these influences report them well, and view them as moving citadels of light and purity.
The Quaker stood under his smooth broad brim,
Who looked on the inward part;
Reserved for the pure in heart.-EXTRACTED.
In effect, the world is a great forest, in which a renegade Friend ensconces himself, and relieves the fame of the society. Hence seemingly they have no such characters. The individual instances that occur, though terribly numerous, are known each by a comparative few, and not by the public. This is one cause of their popularity with the superficial, the sceptical, the morbidly sentimental, and the weakly charitable—who seem to love every thing alike or at least to profess that impracticable folly. How noble, as well as different, is the prayer of the apostle for his Philippian converts ! “that your love
" may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; that ye may approve (DISCRIMINATE) things that are excellent ; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.”
There is no heresy, says an ancient father, in which, taken as a whole, there is not more of truth than error! So, there might be more of food than poison in a fatal dish, in which, but for the food, the poison would never be tasted; still, the poison is more than sufficient to kill: and is the food then an advantage? This simile shows the real state of the case, the gospel being umpire. The fatal chalice of the “ murderer" of souls, must be made
palatable, and is often bountiful and luxurious beside: or, it would not be so eagerly quaffed even by the multitude. I, for one, little thank Quakerism for all its imposing worldly excellencies, since I am well persuaded that their scheme deprives me of my only glory and hope—“ Jesus Christ and him crucified,” and the worship of God according to his own authority and grace! Take from me this—and I would you could rob me of existence too! since, being without blessedness, is not desirable; and blessedness without Christ, is impossible; and Christ without his truth and worship is a vile illusion. The Christ of Quakerism is not the Christ of the scriptures. The gospel sends us out of ourselves to Christ by faith, for eternal life : Quakerism sends us feeling in the dark for the inward light, which is Christ in every man from the foundation of the world! Is this the Christ of the New Testament! I have no words with which to express the horror of my soul at the perversion! How many worldly good things ought Quakerism to give us in compensation for such a robbery? I would say to Quakerism personified with its lures, “ Thy money perish with thee! for I perceive thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity!" Take Christ away, only quench the glory of the mercy-seat, only put out the sun of our day, and all your lighted tapers, your festivity and your friendship, your banqueting and merriment, but mock the melancholy
of him whose thought can stretch beyond an hour.