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government of God,” published in the MURRAYSTREET DISCOURSES, he inquires, “Does error spring from deficiency of evidence? Is there not, in the arguments by which the scriptures are proved to be divine, a variety, an amplitude, adapted to carry conviction to every mind not stupified by passion, or rendered impenetrable by prejudice ? They never have been, they never can be, undermined or shaken. And as it regards the general features of the system which the Bible has inculcated, is it not a reflection on the wisdom of him from whom it emanated, and subversive of the very design of its promulgation, to say that it cannot be satisfactorily ascertained, by any diligence of research, united with candor of mind and purity of moral feeling ? Radical error, in one who applies himself to the study of the sacred records, cannot arise from any want of perspicuity in them, but must be the offspring of a heart hostile to that Being who has impressed upon the gospel the image and superscription of his own glory. The conclusion cannot be evaded, but by assuming at once all the monstrous dogmas of infidelity. To that conclusion I find myself painfully reduced in reference to the erring system of Friends, whenever I ponder the affecting subject—from which my thoughts are almost NEVER away! Hence I judge their “ foundation ” to be “sandy;” needing to be “ shaken " not only, but utterly subverted and supplanted by that of the gospel-which is ANOTHER SYSTEM AND THE ONLY SURE ONE! Fri
are not alone in the magnanimity, that likes truth only
when it suits them. But among all tellurians or lunarians of my acquaintance, they are distinguished for liking those that like them, and liking no others. Matt. 5 : 46, 47. To refute them, especially if it be unanswerable, is a great injury. It mars all “the unity of the Spirit” which is identified with-their feelings ! and this is the highest idea that any of them seem to have of the matter. Their feelings are—inspiration !
I regard Quakerism also to be one of the most heavily oppressive systems that ever became prevalent, as the voluntarily cherished incubus of mind. “While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption.” While they vaunt themselves peculiarly free in their mental action, it is plain to a dispassionate observer of facts on both sides, that they are perhaps the most priest-ridden community in christendom. This fact I know somewhat experimentally-contrasting present freedom with former bondage. The principles of priestcraft, properly such, are organized into the very structure of their society. A few have rule; control every thing; forestall argument; check investigation ; propound doctrine ; imprison thought in their spell of influence; enunciate the last advices of their inward oracle; tell how it was with “early Friends;" denounce all priest-craft except their own; and dogmatize serenely away all wicked dubitation and worldly propensities to examine. Hence mind is suffocated with smoke, called “ light;" and the more “ductile” they are, to the invisible monitor, the impalpable fanaticism, the most celestial
looking forgery, the more saturated are they with inward light according to “ the unity in the silence of all flesh !” Hence the deception is a perfect spiritual fascination too. Fox was, while he lived, the Loyola of the order, for authority. No convent was ever ruled more completely by sanctimonious abbot or fastidious prioress, than the whole society by a recent forgery from heaven, delivered by one or more (for they generally confirm each others' reports) male or female functionaries, in great “sincerity.” I have myself witnessed facts of doating folly which it would be sullying these pages to rehearse-all “ sincere,” I have no doubt. In the spell of this influence are they all, more or less :—except perhaps those hickory allies, who have merely a nominal relation to the society, and have been educated with very little of its realized influence. The feminine venders are more numerous. Their spirituality is loquacious. They see more visions; more frequently uncover the head to usurp the headship of a large assembly: and often virgin diffidence itself, is taught to deny itself, and brazen the looks of promiscuous thousands, sonorous and superior, infallible as the Delphian oracle, clothed cap-a-pie in spiritual sincerity, bronzed in the holy impudence, and willing sacrifices in the cause of "the light !"
Priest-craft may be defined—Any system of influence, maintained by religious officers or others, under the assumed sanction of the name of God, which is not authorized by evidence that can be demonstrated, and which may not be so resolved
into the authority of God alone. According to this definition, it may be observed; 1. That PRIESTCRAFT IS AS OLD AS SIN; and as wide, in its seminal existence and tendencies, as the depravity of men. They reason most perversely who charge it IN ANY SENSE on christianity : for (1) It ordinarily abounds most (though never most hated) where christianity is least known and possesses no influence. It is the very soul and body of paganism. The Druids, as Cæsar's Commentaries tell every school-boy, practised a most perfect system in the British Islands, before christianity, as such, was known in the world. Chaldea, Egypt, Troy, Carthage, the cities of Greece, the story of pagan Rome, the altars and oracles of heathenism, the facts of universal history, and the false worship of the nations since the age of Nimrod, all attest it. An illegitimate spiritual regency, a system of imposture with its mystagogue or its hierophant its priest or its priestess, in gorgeous and glaring or simple and “ plain” habiliments, is the brief description of false religion in this apostate and benighted world. This is priest-craft. It is the disguise of the devil as the great deceiver of the nations. But (2) How can christianity be oppugned for this? There is no system like christianity. It is its own original. It exposes, denounces, execrates, all priest-craft; and has really taught even infidels among us, all they know in principle against its evil nature and impious usurpations. I observe 2. That CHRISTIANITY IS THE ONLY CURE FOR PRIEST-CRAFT IN THE
Man is “ a religious animal,” as philoso
phers tell us. It is true. He has a conscience, is a mass of wants and fears ; is weak and knows
; it, even against his vanity and his vaunting; infers by necessity the existence of a superior power, from the attestations of the visible universe; is a moral being and a sinful one, and knows both even when he owns neither; as mutual censure, and mutual crimination, and mutual ambition of praise, every where demonstrate : and he will HAVE a religion of some sort. All history proves it. If not the true, he will have a false one: and he PREFERS A FALSE ONE NOTORIOUSLY! Yet, just in proportion as you indulge his preference, you will morally imbrute and degrade him; you will make him servile, superstitious, sanguinary; you will indulge priest-craft of some sort, and facilitate the irruption of every sort and every degree of that. ruinous and soul-murdering leaven! What shall we do? What is the inference? Where the alternative? It is plain, as the vision of angels to the shepherds of Bethlehem ; sweet, as the music of their song; efficacious, as the salvation of their Prince: GIVE HIM CHRISTIANITY; PURE, LUCID, FULL; AND MAN WILL BE NEITHER SLAVE, NOR SIMPLETON, NOR COMPARATIVELY SINNER. Christianity is the grand catholicon; the only one under heaven that deserves the name; the only one that abhors all quackery, all false profession, all forged certificates, all money-making: imposture, all abuse; the only catholicon that meets the case, suits the wants, equals the malady, restores the ruin, answers the intellect, and reinstates the total being of man in.