It is not difficult to foresee what other questions the superior being would ask, and probably the first of these would be, the duration of the lives of these little beings, and the length and frequency of their wars? It would be replied to this, that their lives were but as a vapour, which appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away, and that a quarter, and sometimes half of their time on earth, was spent in those destructive pursuits. The superior being would unquestionably be grieved at this account, because he would feel, that they really frustrated their own happiness, or that they lost by their own fault a considerable portion of the enjoyment of their lives.
In this impatience and anxiety for their future comfort, he would probably ask again, if they had any notion of any generous end for which they were born, for it is impossible they could suppose, that they came into the world to destroy one another. It would be replied, that they could not be ignorant of the true object or end; for the same religion, in which they believed, and which was said before to have been given them by a spirit sent from heaven, inculcated that they were sent there on a life of trial, and that in a future existence they were to give an account of their conduct, and were to be rewarded or punished accordingly. The same religion, it would be replied, also inculcated, notwithstanding their fightings, the utmost benevolence from one towards another. It wished so much every one of them to live peaceably, that it enjoined it as a duty rather to put up with an injury than to resent it, and it carried its benevolence so far, that it made no distinction between others of the same species, who spoke a different language, or lived in other districts or parts of the same world.
But here the superior being would interrupt.—What, he would say! Are they not to resent injuries, and yet do they go to war? And are they not afraid of fighting in this manner, when they are to give an account of their conduct in a future state? It would be replied, No: they have their philosophers among them, and most of these have determined, that, in this particular case, responsibility lies at the door of those who employ them. But, notwithstanding this, there are others living among them, who think otherwise. These are of opinion, that those who employ them cannot take the responsibility upon themselves without taking it from those whom they thus employ. But the religion of the Great Spirit no where says, that any constituted authorities among them can take away the responsibility of individual creatures, but, on the other hand, in the most positive terms, that every individual creature is responsible wholly for himself. And this religion does not give any creature an exemption on account of any force which may be used against him; because no one, according to its precepts, is to do evil, not even that good may come. But if he be persecuted, he is to adhere to that which is right, and to expect his reward in the other state. The impossibility, therefore, of breaking or dissolving individual responsibility, in the case of immoral action, is an argument to many, of the unlawfulness of these wars. And those who reason in this manner, think they have reasoned right, when they consider besides, that, if any of the beings in question were to kill one of his usually reputed enemies in the time of peace, he would suffer death for it, and be considered as accountable also for his crime in a future state. They cannot see, therefore, how any constituted authorities among them can alter the nature of things, or how these beings can kill others in time of war, without the imputation of a crime, whom they could not kill without such an imputation in time of peace. They see in the book of the Great Spirit no dispensation given to societies to after the nature of actions, which are pronounced to be crimes.
But the superior being would say, is it really defined, and is it defined clearly in the great book of the Spirit, that if one of them should kill another, he is guilty of a crime! It would be replied, not only of a crime, but of the greatest of all crimes, and that no dispensation is given to any of them to commit it in any case. And it would be observed farther, that there are other crimes, which these fightings generally include, which are equally specified and forbidden in the great book, but which they think it proper to sanction in the present case. Thus, all kinds of treachery and deceit are considered to be allowable, for a very ancient philosopher among them has left a maxim upon record, and it has not yet been beaten out of their heads, notwithstanding the precepts of the great book, in nearly the following words: "Who thinks of requiring open courage of an enemy, or that treachery is not equally allowable in war?"
[Footnote 15: Dolus an virtus quis in hoste requirat?]
Strange! the superior being would reply. They seem to me to be reversing the order of their nature, and the end of their existence. But how do they justify themselves on these occasions? It would be answered, that they not only justify themselves, but they even go so far as to call these fightings honourable. The greater the treachery, if it succeeds, and the greater the number of these beings killed, the more glorious is the action esteemed.
Still more strange! the superior being would reply. And is it possible, he would add, that they enter into this profession With a belief, that they are entering into an honourable employ? Some of them, it would be replied, consider it as a genteel employ. And hence they engage in it. Others, of a lazy disposition, prefer it to any other. Others are decoyed into it by treachery in various ways. There are also strong drinks, which they are fond of, and if they are prevailed upon to take these to excess, they lose their reason, and then they are obliged to submit to it. It must be owned too, that when these wars begin, the trades of many of these little beings are stopped, so that, to get a temporary livelihood, they go out and fight. Nor must it be concealed, that many are forced to go, both against their judgment and against their will.
The superior being, hurt at these various accounts, would probably ask, and what then does the community get by these wars, as a counterbalance for the loss of so much happiness, and the production of so much evil? It would be replied, nothing. The community is generally worse off at the end of these wars, than when it began to contend. But here the superior being would wish to hear no more of the system. He would suddenly turn away his face, and retire into one of the deep valleys of his planet, either with exclamations against the folly, or with emotions of pity for the situation, or with expressions of disgust at the wickedness, of these little creatures.
"O for a lodge in some vast wilderness, Some boundless contiguity of shade, Where tumour of oppression and deceit, Of unsuccessful or successful war, Might never reach me more! My ear is pain'd, My soul is sick with every day's report, Of wrong and outrage, with which earth is fill'd. Lands, intersected by a narrow frith, Abhor each other. Mountains interpos'd, Make enemies of nations who had else, Like kindred drops, been mingled into one. Thus men devotes his brother, and destroys— Then what is man? And what man, seeing this, And having human feelings, does not blush, And hang his head, to think himself a man?"
Subject farther considered—Sad conceptions of those relative to the Divine Being, and the nature of the Gospel, who plead for the necessity of war—War necessary, where statesmen pursue the policy of the world—Nature and tendency of this policy—but not necessary where they pursue the policy of the Gospel—Nature and tendency of this policy—This tendency farther confirmed by a supposed case of a few Quakers becoming the governors of the world.
It is now an old maxim, and time with all its improvements has not worn it away, that wars are necessary in the present constitution of the world. It has not even been obliterated, that they are necessary, in order to sweep off mankind on account of the narrow boundaries of the earth. But they, who make use of this argument, must be aware, that, in espousing it, they declare no less, than that God, in the formation of his system, had only half calculated or half provided for its continuance, and that they charge him with a worse cruelty than is recorded of the worst of men: because, if he told men to increase and multiply, and gave them passions accordingly, it would appear as if he had created them only to enjoy an eternal feast in the sight of their destruction. Nor do they make him a moral governor of the world, if he allows men to butcher one another without an individual provocation or offence.
Neither do persons, arguing for the necessity of wars, do less than set themselves above the prophecies or oracles of God, which declare, that such warfare shall some time or other cease.
Neither do they, when they consider wars as necessary, and as never to be done away on account of the wicked passions of men, do less than speak blasphemy against the Gospel of Jesus Christ, because they proclaim it to be inadequate to the end proposed. For the proper subjugation of these, among other purposes, it was that the Gospel was promulgated. If it be thought a miracle, that the passions of men should be subdued, it is still a miracle, which Christianity professes to work; which it has worked since the hour of its institution; which it has worked in men, who have placed their highest reputation in martial glory; and which it continues to work, at the present day. Those, therefore, who promote wars, and excite the passions of men for this purpose, attempt to undo what it is the object of Christianity to do, and to stop the benign influence of the Gospel in the hearts of men.
That wars are necessary, or rather that they will be begun and continued, I do not mean to deny, while statesmen pursue the wisdom or policy of the world.
What this wisdom or policy is, it will not be difficult to trace. And first, when any matter is in dispute among the rulers of nations, is it not a maxim, that a high tone is desirable in the settlement of it, in order that the parties may seem to betray neither fear nor weakness, and that they may not be thought to lose any of their dignity or their spirit? Now as the human passions are constituted, except they have previously been brought under due regulation by Christianity, what is more likely than that a high tone of language on one side should beget a similar tone on the other, or that spirit, once manifested, should, produce spirit in return, and that each should fly off, as it were, at a greater distance from accommodation than before, and that, when once exasperation has begun, it should increase. Now what is the chance, if such policy be resorted to on such occasions, of the preservation of peace between them?
And, secondly, is it not also a received maxim, that, in controversies of this sort, a nation, even during the discussion, should arm itself, in order that it may shew itself prepared? But if any one nation arms during the discussion; if it fits out armies or fleets of observation with a view of deterring, or of being ready in case of necessity of striking, as it is called, the first blow; what is more probable, than that the other will arm also, and that it will fit out its own armies and fleets likewise? But when both are thus armed, pride and spirit will scarcely suffer them to relax, and what is then more probable, than that they will begin to fight?
And, thirdly, is it not a maxim also, that, even during the attempt to terminate the dispute, the public mind should be prepared? Are not the public papers let loose to excite and propagate a flame? And are not the deeds of our ancestors ushered into our ears to produce a martial spirit? But if the national temper is roused on both sides, and if preparations are carrying on at the same time with the utmost vigour, where again is the hope of the prevention of war between them?
And, fourthly, after hostilities are commenced, is it not a maxim also to perpetuate the enmity, which has been thus begun, and to give it a deeper root, and even to make it eternal by connecting it with religion? Thus flag-staffs are exhibited upon steeples, bells are rung to announce victories, and sermons are preached as occasions arise, as if the places allotted for Christian worship, were the most proper from whence to issue the news of human suffering, or to excite the passions of men for the destruction of one another. Nor is this all. The very colours of the armies are consecrated. I do not mean to say, that like the banners in the Praetorian tents, they are actually worshipped, but that an attempt is made to render them holy in the eyes of those who are present. An attempt is made, wonderful to relate, to incorporate war into the religion of Jesus Christ, and to perpetuate enmity on the foundation of the Gospel!
Now this is the policy of the world, and can it be seriously imagined, that such a system as this can ever lead to peace? For while discussions relative to matters of national dispute are carried on in a high tone, because a more humble tone would betray weakness or fear; while again, during this discussion, preparations for war are going on, because the appearance of being prepared would convey the idea of determined resolution, and of more than ordinary strength; while again, during the same discussion, the national spirit is awakened and inflamed; and while again, when hostilities have commenced, measures are resorted to, to perpetuate a national enmity, so that the parties consider themselves as natural enemies even in the succeeding peace, what hope is there of the extermination of war on earth?
But let us now look at the opposite policy, which is that of the Gospel. Now this policy would consist in the practice of meekness, moderation, love, patience, and forbearance, with a strict regard to justice, so that no advantages might be taken on either side. But if these principles, all of which are preventive of irritation, were to be displayed in our negotiations abroad, in the case of any matter in dispute, would they not annihilate the necessity of wars? For what is the natural tendency of such principles? What is their tendency, for instance, in private life? And who are the negotiators on these occasions but men? Which kind of conduct is most likely to disarm an opponent, that of him who holds up his arm to strike, if his opponent should not comply with his terms, or of him who argues justly, who manifests a temper of love and forbearance, and who professes that he will rather suffer than resist, and that he will do every thing sooner than that the affair shall not be amicably settled? The Apostle Paul, who knew well the human heart, says, "If thine enemy hunger, feed him, for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head." That is, thou shall cause him, by thy amiable conduct, to experience burning feelings within himself, which, while they torment him with the wickedness of his own conduct, shall make him esteem thee, and bring him over to thy side. Thus thou shalt overcome his evil by thy good. Or, in other words, as fire melts the hardest metals, so thy kindness shall melt his anger. Thus Parnell—
"So artists melt the sullen ore of lead, By heaping coals of fire upon its head. Touch'd by the warmth, the metal teams to glow, And pure from dress, the silver tang below."
This policy again would consist of the practical duty of attempting to tranquillize the minds of the people, while the discussion was going on, of exhorting them to await the event with composure, of declaring against the folly and wickedness of wars, as if peace only could be the result, of abstaining from all hostile preparations, and indeed from all appearance of violence. Now what influence would such conduct have again, but particularly when known to the opposite party? If the opposite party were to see those alluded to keeping down the passions of their people, would they inflame the passions of their own? If they were to be convinced, that these were making no preparations for war, would they put themselves to the expence of arming? Can we see any other termination of such a contest than the continuance of peace?
That the policy of the Gospel, if acted upon by statesmen, would render wars unnecessary, we may infer from supposed cases. And, first, I would ask this simple question, whether, if all the world were Quakers, there would be any more wars? I am sure the reply would be, no. But why not? Because nations of Quakers, it would be replied, would discuss matters in dispute between them with moderation, with temper, and with forbearance. They would never make any threats. They would never arm, and consequently they would never fight. It would be owing then to these principles, or, in other words, to the adoption of the policy of the Gospel in preference of the policy of the world, that, if the globe were to be peopled by Quakers, there would be no wars. Now I would ask, what are Quakers but men, and might not all, if they would suffer themselves to be cast in the same mould as the Quakers, come out of it of the same form and character?
But I will go still farther. I will suppose that any one of the four continents, having been previously divided into three parts, was governed only by three Quakers, and that these had the same authority over their subjects, as their respective sovereigns have at present. And I win maintain, that there would never be, upon this continent, during their respective administrations, another war. For, first, many of the causes of war would be cut off. Thus, for instance, there would be no disputes about insults offered to flags. There would be none again about the balance of power. In short, it would be laid down as a position, that no one was to do evil, that good might come. But as, notwithstanding, there might still be disputes from other causes, these would be amicably settled. For first, the same Christian disposition would be manifest in the discussion as in the former case. And, secondly, if the matter should be of an intricate nature, so that one Quaker government could not settle it with another, these would refer it, according to their constitution, to a third. This would be the "ne plus ultra" of the business. Both the discussion and the dispute would end here. What a folly then to talk of the necessity of wars, when, if but three Quakers were to rule a continent, they would cease there? There can be no plea for such language, but the impossibility of taming the human passions. But the subjugation of these is the immediate object of our religion. To confess, therefore, that wars must be, is either to utter a libel against Christianity, or to confess that we have not yet arrived at the stature of real Christians.
Subject farther examined—Case allowed, that if a cabinet of good men had to negotiate with a cabinet of good men, there might be no wars—but what would be the issue if good had to deal with bad—Case of American settlers, who adopted the policy of the world, and were always at war—and of other American settlers, who adopted the policy of the Gospel, and were always at peace—No case stronger, than where civilized men had to deal with savage American tribes.
I believe it will be allowed, that the Quaker instances, mentioned in the last section, are in point. But I am aware also, it will be said that, though different cabinets, all having the same Christian disposition, would settle their disputes in a friendly manner, how would a cabinet, consisting of spiritually minded men, settle with a cabinet of other men, who had not brought their passions under due regulation, and who, besides, had no notion of the unlawfulness of war.
I apprehend that it will not be denied, that men, as ferocious as any recorded in history, were those, who were found in America, when that continent was discovered. We hear nothing of Africans, or of Asiatics, which would induce us to suppose, that they were as wild and as barbarous as these. And nothing is more true of these, than they, were frequently concerned in wars. I shall therefore take these for an example, and I shall shew by the opposite conduct of two different communities towards them, that it rests with men to live peaceably or not, as they cultivate the disposition to do it, or as they follow the policy of the Gospel in preference of the policy of the world.
When the English, Dutch, and others, began to people America, they purchased land of the natives. But when they went to that continent, notwithstanding there were amiable persons among them, and friends to civil and religious liberty, they went with the notions of worldly policy, and they did not take with them the Christian wisdom of the unlawfulness of war. They acted on the system of preparation, because there might be danger. They never settled without palisadoes and a fort. They kept their nightly watches, though unmolested. They were, in short, in the midst of war, though no injury had been offered them by the natives, and though professedly in the midst of peace.
In the peopling of Connecticut, for I must begin with some one state, it was ordered at an English court, "holden at Dorchester, on the seventh day of June, 1736, that every town should keep a watch, and be well supplied with ammunition. The constables were directed to warn the watches in their turns, and to make it their care, that they should be kept according to the direction of the court. They were required also to take care that the inhabitants were well furnished with arms and ammunition, and kept in a constant state of defence." As these infant settlements, the author observes, "were filled and surrounded with numerous savages, the people conceived themselves in danger, when they lay down, and when they rose up, when they went out, and when they came in. Their circumstances were such, that it was judged necessary for every man to be a soldier."
[Footnote 16: Trumbull's History of Connecticut, p. 56.]
I find from this author, looking farther into his history, that previously to the order of the court at Dorchester, which did nothing more than enjoin a more strict execution of the original plan, which was that of military preparation and defence, some of the settlers had been killed by the natives. The provocation which the natives received, is not mentioned. But it was probably provocation enough to savage Indians, to see people settle in their country with all the signs and symptoms of war. Was such a system likely to have any other effect than that of exciting their jealousy? They could see that these settlers had at least no objection to the use of arms. They could see that these arms could never be intended but against other persons, and there were no other persons there but themselves. Judging therefore by outward circumstances, they could draw no inference of a peaceable disposition in their new neighbours. War soon followed. The Pequots were attacked. Prisoners were made on both sides. The Indians treated those settlers barbarously, who fell into their hands, for they did not see, on the capture of their own countrymen, any better usage on the part of the settlers themselves; for these settlers, again, had not the wisdom to use the policy of the Gospel, but preferred the policy of the world. "Though the first planters of New-England and Connecticut, says the same author, were men of eminent piety and strict morals, yet, like other good men, they were subject to misconception, and the influence of passion. Their beheading sachems whom they took in war, killing the male captives, and enslaving the women and children, was treating them with a severity, which, on the benevolent principles of Christianity, it will be difficult to justify."
[Footnote 17: P. 112.]
After this treatment, war followed war. And as other settlements were made by others in other states on the same principles, war fell to their portion likewise. And the whole history of the settlement of America, where these principles were followed, or where the policy of the world was adopted, is full of the wars between the settlers and the Indians, which have continued more or less, and this nearly up to the present day.
But widely different was the situation of the settlers under William Penn. When he and his fellow Quakers went to this continent, they went with the principles of Christian wisdom, or they adopted the policy of the Gospel instead of the policy of the world. They had to deal with the same savage Indians as the other settlers. They had the same fury to guard against, and were in a situation much more exposed to attack, and of course much more creative of alarm; for they had neither sword nor musket, nor pallisadoe, nor fort. They judged it neither necessary to watch, nor to be provided with ammunition, nor to become soldiers. They spoke the language of peace to the natives, and they proved the sincerity of their language by their continuance in a defenceless condition. They held out also, that all wars were unlawful, and that, whatever injuries were offered them, they would sooner bear them, than gratify the principle of revenge. It is quite needless to go farther into the system of this venerable founder of Pennsylvania. But it may be observed, that no Quaker settlers, when known to be such, were killed, and, whatever attacks were made upon the possessors of land in their neighbourhood, none were ever made upon those who settled on the lands purchased by William Penn.
[Footnote 18: "The Indians shot him who had the gun, says Storey in his Journal, and when they knew the young man they killed was a Quaker, they seemed sorry for it, but blamed him for carrying a gun. For they knew the Quakers would not fight, or do them any harm, and therefore, by carrying a gun, they took him for an enemy." This instance, which was in after times, confirms still more strongly all that has been said on this subject. Quakers at this time occasionally armed themselves against the wild beasts of the country.]
It may not be improper to observe farther, that the harmonious intercourse between the Quakers and the Indians continues uninterrupted to the present day. In matters of great and public concern, of which I could mention instances, it has been usual with the Indians to send deputies to the Quakers for advice, and the former have even been prevailed upon by the latter to relinquish wars, which they had it in contemplation to undertake. It is usual also for some of these to send their children to the Quakers for education. And so great is the influence of the Quakers over some of these tribes, that many individuals belonging to them, and now living together, have been reclaimed from a savage life. These have laid aside the toilsome occupations of the chase. They raise horses, cattle, and sheep. They cultivate wheat and flax. They weave and spin. They have houses, barns, and saw-mills among them. They have schools also, and civilization is taking place of the grossest barbarism.
These facts, when contrasted, speak for themselves. A cabinet of Quaker ministers, acting upon the policy of the Gospel, has been seated in the heart of a savage and warlike nation, and peace has been kept with them for ever. A cabinet of other settlers, acting on the policy of the world, has been seated in the heart of nations of a similar description, and they have almost constantly, been embroiled in wars. If Christian policy has had its influence on Barbarians, it would be libellous to say, that it would not have its influence upon those who profess to be Christians. Let us then again, from the instances which have been now recited, deprecate the necessity of wars. Let us not think so meanly of the Christian religion, as that it does not forbid, nor so meanly of its power, as that it is not ante to prevent, their continuance. Let us not think, to the disgrace of our religion, that the human heart, under its influence, should be so retrogade, that the expected blessing of universal peace should be thought no improvement in our moral condition, or that our feelings under its influence should continue so impure, that, when it arrives, we should regard it not so much a blessing, as a cures. But let us, on the other hand, hope and believe, that, as an opposite and purer policy is acted upon, it will do good to our own natures, good to the peace and happiness of the world, and honour to the religion of the Gospel.
Subject finally considered—Authors of wars generally justify their own as defensive—and state that, if any nation were to give up the practice of war, or to act on the policy of the Gospel, it would be overrun by others, which acted upon the policy of the world—Reason to believe, that such a nation would be held in veneration by others, and applied to by them for the settlement of their disputes—Sentiments of Bishop Butler in a supposed case—Case of Antoninus Pius—Conclusion.
Having now said all that I intended to say on the supposed necessity of wars, I shall for a short time direct the attention of the reader to two points, the only two, that I purpose to notice on this subject.
It is usually said, first, that the different powers, who go to war, give it out that their wars are defensive, or that they justify themselves on this principle.
I shall observe in reply to this, that it is frequently difficult to determine, where actual aggression begins. Even old aggressions, of long standing, have their bearings in these disputes. Not shall we find often any clue to a solution of the difficulty in the manifestoes of either party, for each makes his own case good in these; and if we were to decide on the merits of the question by the contents of these, we should often come to the conclusion, that both the parties were wrong. Thus, for instance, a notion may have been guilty of an offence to another. So far the cause of the other is a just one. But if the other should arm first, and this during an attempt at accommodation, it will be a question, whether it does not forfeit its pretensions to a just case, and whether both are not then to be considered as aggressors on the occasion?
When a nation avows its object in a war, and changes its object in the course of it, the presumption is, that such a nation has been the aggressor. And where any nation goes to war upon no other avowed principle, than that of the balance of power, such a nation, however right according to the policy of the world, is an aggressor according to the policy of the Gospel, because it proceeds upon the principle, that it is lawful to do evil, that good may come.
If a nation hires or employs the troops of another to fight for it, though it is not the aggressor in any war, yet it has the crime upon its head of making those aggressors, whom it employs.
But, generally speaking, few modern wars can be called defensive. A war, purely defensive, is that in which the inhabitants of a nation remain wholly at home to repel the attacks of another, and content themselves with sending protection to the settlements which belong to it. But few instance are recorded of such wars.
But if there be often a difficulty in discerning between aggressive and defensive wars, and if, moreover, there is reason to suppose, that most of the modern wars are aggressive, or that both patties become aggressors in the course of the dispute, it becomes the rulers of nations to pause, and to examine their own consciences with fear and trembling, before they allow the Sword to bedrawn, lest a dreadful responsibility should fall upon their heads for all the destruction of happiness, all the havoc of life, and all the slaughter of morals that may ensue.
It is said, secondly, that if any nation were publicly to determine to relinquish the practice if war, or to act on the policy of the Gospel, it would be overrun by other nations which might act on the policy of the world.
This argument is neither more nor less than that of the Pagan Celsus, who said in the second century, that, if the rest of the Roman empire were Christians, it would be overrun by the Barbarians.
Independently of the protection, which such a nation might count upon from the moral Governor of the world, let us enquire, upon rational principles, what would be likely to be its fate.
Armies, we know, are kept up by one nation, principally because they are kept up by another.
And in proportion as one rival nation adds to its standing armies, it is thought by the other to be consistent with the policy of the world to do the same. But if one nation were to decline keeping any armies at all, where would be the violence, to reason to suppose, that the other would follow the example? Who would not be glad to get rid of the expence of keeping them, if they could do it with safety? Nor is it likely, that any powerful nation, professing to relinquish war, would experience the calamities of it. Its care to avoid provocation would be so great, and its language would be so temperate, and reasonable, and just, and conciliatory, in the case of any dispute which might arise, that it could hardly fail of obtaining an accommodation. And the probability is, that such a nation would grow so high in esteem with other nations, that they would have recourse to it in their disputes with one another, and would abide by its decision. "Add the general influence, says the great Bishop Butler in his Analogy, which each a kingdom would have over the face of the earth, by way of example particularly, and the reverence which would be paid to it. It would plainly be superior to all others, and the world must gradually come under its empire, not by means of lawless violence, but partly by what must be allowed to be just conquest, and partly by other kingdoms submitting themselves voluntarily to it, throughout a course of ages, and claiming its protection one after another in successive exigencies. The head of it would be an universal monarch in another sense than any other mortal has yet been, and the eastern style would be literally applicable to him, "that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him." Now Bishop Butler supposes this would be the effect, where the individuals of a nation were perfectly virtuous. But I ask much less for my hypothesis. I only ask that the ruling members of the cabinet of any great nation (and perhaps these would only amount to three or four) should consist of real Christians, or of such men as would implicitly follow the policy of the Gospel, and I believe the result would be as I have described it.
Nor indeed are we without instances of the kind. The goodness of the emperor Antoninus Pius was so great, that he was said to have outdone all example. He had no war in the course of a long reign of twenty-four years, so that he was compared to Numa. And nothing is more true, than that princes referred their controversies to his decision.
Nor most I forget again to bring to the notice of the reader the instance, though on a smaller scale, of the colonists and descendants of William Penn. The Quakers have uniformly conducted themselves towards the Indians in such a manner, as to have given them from their earliest intercourse, an exulted idea of their character. And the consequence is, as I stated in a former section, that the former, in affairs of importance, are consulted by the latter at the present day. But why, if the cabinet of any one powerful nation were to act upon the noble principle of relinquishing war, should we think the other cabinets so lost to good feelings, as not to respect its virtue? Let us instantly abandon this thought; for the supposition of a contrary sentiment would make them worse than the savages I have mentioned.
Let us then cherish the fond hope, that human animosities are not to be eternal, and that man is not always to be made a tiger to man. Let us hope that the government of some one nation (and when we consider the vast power of the British empire, the nature of its constitution and religion, and the general humanity of its inhabitants, none would be better qualified than our own) will set the example of the total dereliction of wars. And let us, in all our respective situations, precede the anticipated blessing, by holding out the necessity of the subjugation of the passions, and by inculcating the doctrine of universal benevolence to man, so that when we look upon the beautiful islands, which lie scattered as so many ornaments of the ocean, we may wish their several inhabitants no greater injury than the violence of their own waves; or that, when we view continents at a distance from us, we may consider them as inhabited by our brothers; or that when we contemplate the ocean itself, which may separate them from our sight, we may consider it, not as separating our love, but as intended by Providence to be the means of a quicker intercourse for the exchange of reciprocal blessings.
Fourth tenet is on the subject of a pecuniary maintenance of a Gospel ministry—Example and precepts of Jesus Christ—Also of Paul and Peter—Conclusions from these premises—These conclusions supported by the primitive practice—Great tenet resulting from these conclusions, and this primitive practice is, that the Quakers hold it unlawful to pay their own ministers, and also others of any other denomination, for their Gospel labours.
The fourth and last tenet of the Quakers is on the subject of the unlawfulness of a pecuniary maintenance of a Gospel ministry.
In explaining this tenet, I am aware that I am treading upon delicate ground. The great majority of Christians have determined, that the spiritual labourer is worthy of his hire; that if men relinquish the usual occupations by which a livelihood is obtained, in order that they may devote themselves to the service of religion, they are entitled to a pecuniary maintenance; and that, if they produce a rich harvest from what they sow, they are of all men, considering their usefulness to man to be greater in this than in any other service they can render him, the most worthy of encouragement and support. I am aware also of the possibility of giving offence to some in the course of the explanation of this tenet. To these I can only say, that I have no intention of hurting the feelings of any; that in the church there are those whom I esteem and love, and whom of all others I should be sorry to offend. But it must be obvious to these, and indeed to all, that it is impossible for me, in writing a history of the manners and opinions of the Quakers, to pass over in silence the tenet that is now before me; and if I notice it, they must be sensible, that it becomes me to state fully and fairly all the arguments which the Quakers give for the difference of opinion, which they manifest from the rest of their fellow-citizens, on this subject.
It does not appear then, the Quakers say, by any records that can be produced, that Jesus Christ ever received any payment for the doctrines which he taught, neither does it appear, as far as his own instructions, which are recorded by the Evangelists, can be collected on this subject, that he considered any pecuniary stipend as necessary or proper for those who were to assist in the promotion of his religion.
Jesus Christ, on the erection of his Gospel ministry, gave rules to his disciples, how they were to conduct themselves in the case before us. He enjoined the twelve, before he sent them on this errand, as we collect from St. Matthew and St. Luke, that, "as they had received freely, so they were to give freely; that they were to provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in their purses, nor scrip, nor other things for their journey; for that the workman was worthy of his meat." And, on their return from their mission, he asked them, "When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye any thing? And they said, nothing. Then said he unto them, but now he that hath a purse let him take it, and likewise his scrip."
[Footnote 19: Matt x. 8. Luke ix. 1.]
[Footnote 20: Luke xxii. 35.]
In a little time afterwards, Jesus Christ sent out other seventy as disciples, to whom he gave instructions similar to the former, that they should not take scrip, clothes, and money with them. But to these he said additionally, that "wheresoever they were received, they were to eat such things as were given them; but where they were not received, they were to go their way, and say, even the dust of your city, which cleaveth on us, we do wipe off against you." And as on that occasion he compared the ministers of his Gospel to the labourers, whom a man sends to the harvest, he told them they were at liberty to eat what was set before them, because the labourer was worthy of his hire.
[Footnote 21: Luke x.]
This the Quakers conceive to be the substance of all that Jesus Christ taught upon this subject. They go therefore next to St. Paul for a farther elucidation of it.
They are of opinion, that St. Paul, in his Epistle to Timothy, and to the Corinthians, and Galatians, acknowledges the position, that the spiritual labourer is worthy of his hire.
[Footnote 22: 1 Cor. ix.—1 Tim. v.—Gal. vi.]
The same Apostle, however, says, "that if any would not work, neither should he eat." From this text the Quakers draw two conclusions, first, that when ministers of the Gospel are idle, they are not entitled to bodily sustenance; and, secondly, that those only, who receive them, are expected to support them. The same Apostle says also, "Let him that is taught in the word, communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things," but he nowhere says, "to him that teacheth not."
[Footnote 23: 2 Thes. iii. 10.]
[Footnote 24: Gal. vi. 6.]
But though men, who faithfully spend their time in preaching the Gospel, are entitled to bodily maintenance from those who receive them, yet St. Paul, the Quakers say, as far as his own practice was concerned thought it more consistent with the spirit of Christianity, and less detrimental to its interests, to support himself by the labour of his own hands, than to be supported by that of others. And he advises others to do the same, and not to make their preaching chargeable, "not because, says he we have not power, but to make ourselves an ensample to you to follow us."
[Footnote 25: 2 Thes. iii. 0.]
This power the Quakers consider ministers of the Gospel to abuse, who make their preaching chargeable, if by any means, they can support themselves; for St. Paul says farther,  "What is my reward then? Verily that, when I preach the Gospel, I may make the Gospel of Christ without charge, that I abuse not my power in the Gospel." Thus the Apostle, they conceive, looks up to God and not to men for the reward of his spiritual labours. And the same Apostle makes it a characteristic of the false teachers, that they make merchandize of their hearers.
[Footnote 26: 1 Cor. ix. 18.]
[Footnote 27: 2 Pet. ii. 3.]
It is objected to the Quakers, on this occasion, that St. Paul received relief from the brethren at Philippi, as well as from others, when he did not preach. But their reply is, that this relief consisted of voluntary and affectionate presents sent to him in circumstances of distress. In this case the Apostle states, that he never desired these gifts, but that it was pleasant to him to see his religious instruction produce a benevolence of disposition that would abound to their account.
[Footnote 28: Philip. iv. 17.]
St. Peter is the only other person, who is mentioned in the New Testament as speaking on this subject. Writing to those, who had been called to the spiritual oversight of the churches, he advises as follows: "Feed the flock of God, which is among you, taking the oversight thereof not by constraint but willingly, not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind, neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away." Upon these words the Quakers make three observations; that ministers should not make a gain of the Gospel; that they should look to God for their reward, and not to men; and that Peter himself must have preached, like St. Paul, without fee or reward, or he could not consistently have recommended such a practice to others.
[Footnote 29: 1 Pet. v. 2.]
The Quakers, therefore, from the example and precepts of Jesus Christ, and of the Apostles Paul and Peter, come to the following conclusions on this subject. First, that God raises up his own ministers. Secondly, that these are to dispense his Gospel freely. Thirdly, that they are to take, whereever they are received, such things as are given them, which things they deserve while in the exercise of their calling, as much as the labourer his hire, but that no bargains are to be made about religion; that they are not to compel men to give, neither are they to take away any thing from those who are unwilling to receive them, but, in this case, to go their ways, and shake the dust from their feet against them, or, in other words, to declare that they have done their own duty in going to them with the word of God, and that the fault lies with them in refusing to hear it. Neither, when they return from their, missions, or are idle at home, are they to receive any thing, but to use their own scrips and purses, and clothes. And fourthly, that though it be lawful for them to receive such sustenance, under such limitations, during the exercise of their ministry, it would be more consistent with the spirit of Christianity, if they would give their spiritual labours freely, and look up to God for their reward, thus avoiding the character of false teachers, and the imputation of an abuse of their power in the Gospel.
Now these conclusions, the Quakers say, seem to have been sanctioned, in a great measure, by the primitive practice for the three first centuries of the church, or till the darkness of apostacy began to overwhelm the religious world.
In the very early times of the Gospel, many Christians, both at Jerusalem and Alexandria in Egypt, sold their possessions, and lived together on the produce of their common stock. Others in Antioch, Galatia, and Pontus, retained their estates in their possession, but established a fund, consisting of weekly or monthly offerings, for the support of the church. This fund continued in after times. But it was principally for the relief of poor and distressed saints, in which the ministers of the Gospel, if in that situation, might also share. Tertullian, in speaking of such funds, gives the following account: "Whatsoever we have, says he, in the treasury of our churches, is not raised by taxation, as though we put men to ransom their religion, but every man once a month, or when it pleaseth him, bestoweth what he thinks proper, but not except he be willing. For no man is compelled, but left free to his own discretion. And that, which is thus given, is not bestowed in vanity, but in relieving the poor, and upon children destitute of parents, and in the maintenance of aged and feeble persons, and of men wrecked by sea, and of such as have been condemned to metallic mines, or have been banished to islands, or have been cast into prison, professing the Christian faith."
In process of time, towards the close of the third century, some lands began to be given to the church. The revenue from these was thrown into the general treasury or fund, and was distributed, as other offerings were, by the deacons and elders, but neither bishops nor ministers of the Gospel were allowed to have any concern with it. It appears from Origen, Cyprian, Urban, Prosper, and others, that if in those times such ministers were able to support themselves, they were to have nothing from this fund. The fund was not for the benefit of any particular person. But if such ministers stood in need of sustenance, they might receive from it; but they were to be satisfied with simple diet, and necessary apparel. And so sacred was this fund held to the purposes of its institution, that the first Christian emperors, who did as the bishops advised them, had no recourse to it, but supplied the wants of ministers of the Gospel from their own revenues, as Eusebius, Theodoret, and Sozomen relate.
The council of Antioch, in the year 340, finding fault with the deacons relative to the management of the funds of the churches, ordained that the bishops might distribute them, but that they should take no part of them to themselves, or for the use of the priests and brethren who lived with them, unless necessity required it, using the words of the Apostle, "Having food and raiment, be therewith content."
In looking at other instances, cited by the Quakers, I shall mention one, which throws light for a few years farther upon this subject. In the year 359, Constantine, the emperor, having summoned a general council of bishops to Arminium in Italy, and provided for their subsistence there, the British and French bishops, judging it not fit to live on the public, chose rather to live at their own expence. Three only out of Britain, compelled by want, but yet refusing assistance offered to them by the rest, accepted the emperor's provision, judging it more proper to subsist by public than by private support. This delicate conduct of the bishops is brought to shew, that, where ministers of the Gospel had the power of maintaining themselves, they had no notion of looking to the public. In short, in those early times, ministers were maintained only where their necessities required it, and this out of the fund for the poor. Those, who took from the fund, had the particular application given them of "sportularii," or basket-clerks, because, according to Origen, Tertullian, Cyprian, and others, they had their portion of sustenance, given them in baskets. These portions consisted but of a small pittance, sufficient only for their livelihood, and were given them on the principle laid down by St. Matthew, that the ministers of Jesus Christ were to eat and drink only such things as were set before them.
In process of time new doctrines were advanced relative to the maintenance of the ministry, which will be hereafter explained. But as these were the inventions of men, and introduced during the apostacy, the Quakers see no reason, why they should look up to these in preference to those of Jesus Christ, and of the Apostles, and of the practice of Christians in the purest periods of the church. They believe, on the other hand, that the latter only are to be relied upon as the true doctrines. These were founded in divine wisdom on the erection of the Gospel ministry, and were unmixed with the inventions of men. They were founded on the genius and spirit of Christianity, and not on the genius or spirit of the world. The Quakers therefore, looking up to these as to the surer foundation, have adopted the following tenets on this subject.
They believe, first, that it would be inconsistent in them as Christians, to make a pecuniary payment to their own ministers for their Gospel labours. And they regulate their practice accordingly upon this principle. No one is ever paid by the Quakers for the performance of any office in the church. If a minister lives at home, and attends the meeting to which he belongs, he supports himself, as St. Paul did, by his own trade. If he goes on the ministry to other meetings, he is received by the Quakers as he travels along, and he finds meat and drink at the houses of these. His travelling expenses also are generally defrayed in this particular case. But he receives no reward, or fixed or permanent stipend, for his services on these or on any other such occasions.
And as the Quakers cannot pay their own ministers, so it is a tenet with them, that they cannot pay those of other denominations for their Gospel labours upon the same principle; that is, they believe, that all ministers of every description ought to follow the example, which St. Paul gave and enjoined them, of maintaining themselves by their own hands; they ought to look up to God and not to men for their reward; they ought to avoid the character of false teachers, and the imputation of abusing their power in the Gospel. And to these they add a particular reason, drawn from the texts quoted, which is not applicable in the former case, namely, that ministers are not authorised to take meat and drink from those who are not willing to receive them.
Other reasons why Quakers cannot pay ministers of the Gospel of a different denomination from themselves—These arise out of the nature of the payments made to them, or out of the nature of tithes—History of tithes from the fourth century to the reign of Henry the eighth, when they were definitively consolidated into the laws of the land.
But the Quakers have other reasons, besides the general reasons, and the particular one which has been given, why as Christians they cannot pay ministers of a different denomination from themselves for their Gospel labours, or why they cannot pay ministers of the established church. These arise out of the nature of the payments which are made to them, or out of the nature of tithes. But to see these in their proper light, some notion should be given of the origin of this mode of their maintenance. I shall therefore give a very concise history of tithes from the fourth century, to which period I have already brought the reader, to the reign of Henry the eighth, when they took a station in the laws of the land, from which they have never yet been displaced.
It has already appeared that, between the middle and the close of the fourth century, such ministers of the Gospel as were able, supported themselves, but that those who were not able, were supported out of the fund for the poor. The latter, however, had no fixed or determined proportion of this fund allotted them, but had only a bare livelihood from it, consisting of victuals served out to them in baskets, as before explained. This fund too consisted of voluntary offerings, or of revenues from land voluntarily bequeathed. And the principle, on which these gifts or voluntary offerings were made, was the duty of charity to the poor. One material innovation, however, had been introduced, as I remarked before, since its institution, namely, that the bishops, and not the deacons, had now the management of this fund.
At the latter end of the fourth century, and from this period to the eighth, other changes took place in the system of which I have been speaking. Ministers of the Gospel began to be supported, all of them without distinction, from the funds of the poor. This circumstance occasioned a greater number of persons to be provided for than before. The people therefore were solicited for greater contributions than had been ordinarily given. Jerom and Omrysostom, out of good and pious motives, exhorted them in turn to give bountifully to the poor, and double honour to those who laboured in the lord's work. And though they left the people at liberty to bestow what they pleased, they gave it as their opinion, that they ought not to be less liberal than the ancient Jews, who, under the Levitical law, gave a tenth of their property to the priesthood and to the poor. Ambrose, in like manner, recommended tenths, as now necessary, and as only a suitable donation for these purposes.
The same line of conduct continued to be pursued by those who succeeded in the government of the church, by Augustin, bishop of Hippo, by Pope Leo, by Gregory, by Severin among the Christians, in Pannonia, and by others. Their exhortations, however, on this subject, were now mixed with promises and, threats. Pardon of sins and future rewards were held out on the one hand, and it was suggested on the other, that the people, themselves would be reduced to a tenth, and the blood of all the poor who died, would be upon their heads, if they gave less than a tenth of their incomes to holy uses. By exhortations of this sort, reiterated for three centuries, it began at length to be expected of the people, that they would not give less than tenths of what they possessed. No right however was alleged to such a proportion of their income, nor was coercion ever spoken of. These tenths also were for holy uses, which chiefly included the benefit of the poor. They were called the Lord's goods in consequence, and were also denominated the patrimony of the poor.
Another change took place within the period assigned, which I must now mention as of great concern. Ministers of the Gospel now living wholly out of the tenths, which with legacies constituted the fund of the poor, a determined portion of this fund, contrary to all former usage, was set apart for their use. Of this fund, one fourth was generally given to the poor, one fourth to the repairs of churches, one fourth to officiating ministers, and one fourth to the bishops with whom they lived. Hence the maintenance of ministers, as consisting of these two orders, and the repairs of churches, took now the greatest part of it, so that the face of things began to be materially altered. For whereas formerly this fund went chiefly to the poor, out of which ministers of the Gospel were provided, it now went chiefly to the church, out of which there came a provision for the poor. Another change also must be noticed with respect to the principle on which the gifts towards this fund were offered. For whereas tenths were formerly solicited on the Christian duty of charity to the poor, they were now solicited on the principle, that by the law of Moses they ought to be given for holy uses, in which the benefit of the fatherless, the stranger, and the widow, were included. From this time I shall use the word tithes for tenths, and the word clergy instead of ministers of the Gospel.
[Footnote 30: In process of time, as the bishops became otherwise provided for, the fund was divided into three parts for the other three purposes just mentioned.]
In the eighth century, matters were as I have now represented them. The people had been brought into a notion, that they were to give no less than a tenth of their income to holy uses. Bishops generally at this time, and indeed long previously to this, lived in monasteries. Their clergy lived also with them in these monasteries, and went from thence to preach in the country within the diocese. It must be also noticed, that there were, at this time, other monasteries under abbots or priors, consisting mostly of lay persons, and distinct from those mentioned, and supported by offerings and legacies in the same manner. The latter, however, not having numerous ecclesiastics to support, laid out more of their funds than the former were enabled to do, towards the entertainment of strangers, and towards the maintenance of the poor. Now it must be observed, that, when these two kinds of monasteries existed, the people were at liberty to pay their tithes to either of them as they pleased, and that, having this permission, they generally favoured the latter. To these they not only paid their tithes, but gave their donations by legacy. This preference of the lay abbies to the ecclesiastical arose from a knowledge that the poor, for whose benefit tithes had been originally preached up, would be more materially served. Other circumstances too occurred, which induced the people to continue the same preference. For the bishops in many places began to abuse their trust, as the deacons had done before, by attaching the bequeathed lands to their sees, so that the inferior clergy, and the poor became in a manner dependent upon them for their daily bread. In other places the clergy had seized all to their own use. The people therefore so thoroughly favoured the lay abbies in preference to those of the church, that the former became daily richer, while the, latter did little more than maintain their ground.
This preference, however, which made such a difference in the funds of the ecclesiastical, and of the lay monasteries, was viewed with a jealous eye by the clergy of those times, and measures were at length taken to remove it. In a council under Pope Alexander the third, in the year 1180, it was determined, that the liberty of the people should be restrained with respect to their tithes. They were accordingly forbidden to make appropriations to religious houses without the consent of the bishop, in whose diocese they lived. But even this prohibition did not succeed. The people still favoured the lay abbies, paying their tithes there, till Pope Innocent the third, in the year 1200, ordained, and he enforced it by ecclesiastical censures, that every one should pay his tithes to those who administered to him spiritual things in his own parish. In a general council also held at Lyons, in the year 1274, it was decreed, that it was no longer lawful for men to pay their tithes where they pleased, as before, but that they should pay them to mother church. And the principle, on which they had now been long demanded, was confirmed by the council of Trent under Pope Pius the fourth, in the year 1560, which was, that they were due by divine right. In the course of forty years after the payment of tithes had been forced by ecclesiastical censures and excommunications, prescription was set up. Thus the very principle, in which tithes had originated, was changed. Thus free will-offerings became dues, to be exacted by compulsion. And thus the fund of the poor was converted almost wholly into a fund for the maintenance of the church.
Having now traced the origin of tithes, as far as a part of the continent of Europe is concerned, I shall trace it as far as they have reference to our own country. And here I may instantly observe, and in a few words, that the same system and the same changes are conspicuous. Free will-offerings and donations of land constituted a fund for the poor, out of which the clergy were maintained. In process of time, tenths or tithes followed. Of these, certain proportions were allotted to the clergy, the repairs of the churches, and the poor. This was the state of things in the time of Offa, king of Mercia, towards the close of the eighth century, when that prince, having caused Ethelbert, king of the East Angles, to be treacherously murdered, fled to the Pope for pardon, to please whom, and to expiate his own sin, he caused those tithes to become dues in his own dominions, which were only at the will of the donors before.
About sixty years afterwards, Ethelwolf, a weak and superstitious prince, was worked upon by the clergy to extend tithes as dues to the whole kingdom; and he consented to it under the notion, that he was thus to avert the judgments of God, which they represented as visible in the frequent ravages of the Danes. Poor laymen, however, were still to be supported out of these tithes, and the people were still at liberty to pay them to whichever religious persons they pleased.
About the close of the tenth century, Edgar took from the people the right of disposing of their tithes at their own discretion, and directed that they should be paid to the parish churches. But the other monasteries or lay-houses resisting, his orders became useless for a time. At this period the lay monasteries were rich, but the parochial clergy poor. Pope Innocent, however, by sending out his famous decree before mentioned to king John, which was to be observed in England as well as in other places under his jurisdiction, and by which it was enacted, that every man was to pay his tithes to those only, who administered spiritual help to him in his own parish, settled the affair; for he set up ecclesiastical courts, thundered out his interdicts, and frightened both king and people.
[Footnote 31: To shew the principles, upon which princes acted with respect to tithes in these times, the following translation of a preamble to a grant of king Stephen may be produced: "Because, through the providence of Divine Mercy, we know it to be so ordered, and by the churches publishing it far and near, every body has heard, that, by the distribution of alms, persons may be absolved from the bonds of sin, and acquire the rewards of heavenly joys, I, Stephen, by the grace of God, king of England, being willing to have a share with those, who by a happy kind of commerce exchange heavenly things for earthly, and smitten with the love of God, and for the salvation of my own soul, and the souls of my father and mother, and all my forefathers and ancestors," &c.]
Richard the second confirmed these tithes to the parishes, as thus settled by this pope, but it was directed by an act, that, in all appropriations of churches, the bishop of the diocese should ordain a convenient sum of money to be distributed out of the fruits and profits of every living among the poor parishioners annually, in aid of their living and sustenance. "Thus it seems, says Judge Blackstone, the people were frequently sufferers by the withholding of those alms, for which, among other purposes, the payment of tithes was originally imposed." At length tithes were finally confirmed, and, in a more explicit manner, by the famous act of Henry the eighth on this subject. And here I must just observe, that, whereas from the eighth century to this reign, tithes were said to be due, whenever the reason of them was expressed, by divine right as under the Levitical law, so, in the preamble to the act of Henry the eighth, they are founded on the same principle, being described therein, "as due to God and the church." Thus, both on the continent of Europe, as well as in our own country, were these changes brought about, which have been described. And they were brought about also by the same means, for they were made partly by the exhortations and sermons of monks, partly by the decrees of popes, partly by the edicts of popish kings, and partly by the determinations of popish councils.
It is not necessary, that I should trace this subject farther, or that I should make distinctions relative to tithes, whether they may be rectorial, or vicarial, or whether they may belong to lay persons, I have already developed enough of their history for my purpose. I shall therefore hasten to state those other reasons, which the Quakers have to give, why they cannot pay other ministers of the Gospel for their spiritual labours, or rather, why they cannot consent to the payment of tithes, as the particular species of payment demanded by the church.
The other reasons then, as deducible from the history of tithes, are the following—First, that they are not in equity dues of the church—Secondly, that the payment of them being compulsory, it would, if acceded to, be an acknowledgment that the civil magistrate has a right to use force in matters of religion—And thirdly, that being claimed upon an act which holds them forth as of divine right, any payment of them would be an acknowledgment of the Jewish religion, and that Christ had not yet actually come.
The other reasons then, which the Quakers have to give for refusing to support other ministers of the Gospel, may be now deduced from the nature of tithes, as explained in the former section.
The early Quakers rejected the payment of tithes for three reasons; and, first, because they were demanded of them as dues of the church.
Against this doctrine, they set their faces as a religious body. They contended that, if they were due at all, they were due to the poor, from whom they had been forcibly taken, and to whom in equity they still belonged; that no prince could alter the nature of right and wrong that tithes were not justly due to the church, because Offa wished them to be so, to expiate his own crimes; or because Ethelwolf wished them to be so, from a superstitious notion, that he might thus prevent the incursions of the Danes; or because Stephen wished them to be so, as his own grant expresses, on the principle, that "the bonds of sin might be dissolved, and that he might have a part with those, who by a happy kind of commerce exchanged heavenly things for earthly;" or because the popes of Rome wished them to be so, from whose jurisdiction all the subjects of England were discharged by law.
They resisted the payment of them, because, secondly, tithes had become of a compulsory nature, or because they were compelled to pay them.
They contended on this head, that tithes had been originally free will-offerings, but that by violence they had been changed into dues, to be collected by force; that nothing could be more clear, than that ministers of the Gospel, if the instructions of Jesus to his disciples were to be regarded, were not authorized even to demand, much less to force, a maintenance from others; and that any constrained payment of these, while it was contrary to his intention, would be an infringement of their great tenet, by which they hold, that, Christ's kingdom being of a spiritual nature, the civil magistrate had no right to dictate a religion to any one, nor to enforce payment from individuals for the same, and that any interference in those matters, which were solely between God and man, was neither more nor less than an usurpation of the prerogative of God.
They resisted the payment of them, because, thirdly, they were demanded on the principle, as appeared by the preamble of the act of Henry the eighth, that they were due as under the Levitical law by divine right.
Against this they urged, first, that, if they were due as the Levitical tithes were, they must have been subject to the same conditions. They contended that, if the Levites had a right to tithes, they had previously given up to the community their own right to a share of the land, but that the clergy claimed a tenth of the produce of the lands of others, but had given up none of their own. They contended also, that tithes by the Levitical law were for the strangers, the fatherless, and the widows, as well as for the Levites, but that the clergy, by taking tithes, had taken that which had been for the maintenance of the poor, and had appropriated it solely to their own use, leaving them thus to become a second burthen upon the land.
But they contended, that the principle itself was false. They maintained, that the Levitical priesthood and tithes with it, had ceased on the coming of Jesus Christ, as appeared by his own example and that of his Apostles; that it became them, therefore, as Christians, to make a stand against this principle, for that, by acquiescing in the notion that the Jewish law extended to them, they conceived they would be acknowledging that the priesthood of Aaron still existed, and that Christ had not actually come.
This latter argument, by which it was insisted upon, that tithes ceased with the Jewish dispensation, and that those who acknowledged them, acknowledged the Jewish religion for Christians, was not confined to the early Quakers, but admitted among many other serious Christians of those times. The great John Milton himself, in a treatise which he wrote against tithes, did not disdain to use it. "Although, says he, hire to the labourer be of moral and perpetual right, yet that special kind of hire, the tenth, can be of no right or necessity but to that special labour for which God ordained it. That special labour was the Levitical and ceremonial service of the tabernacle, which is now abolished. The right, therefore, of that special hire, must needs be withal abolished, as being also ceremonial. That tithes were ceremonial is plain, not being given to the Levites till they had been first offered an heave offering to the Lord. He then, who by that law brings tithes into the Gospel, of necessity brings in withal a sacrifice and an altar, without which tithes by that law were unsanctified and polluted, and therefore never thought of in the first Christian times, nor till ceremonies, altars, and oblations had been brought back. And yet the Jews, ever since their temple was destroyed, though they have rabbies and teachers of their law, yet pay no tithes, as having no Levites to whom, no temple where, to pay them, nor altar whereon to hallow them; which argues, that the Jews themselves never thought tithes moral, but ceremonial only. That Christians therefore should take them up, when Jews have laid them down, must needs be very absurd and preposterous."
Having now stated the three great reasons, which the early Quakers gave, in addition to those mentioned in a former section, why they could not contribute towards the maintenance of an alien ministry, or why they could not submit to the payment of tithes, as the peculiar payment demanded by the established church, I shall only observe, that these are still insisted upon by their descendants, but more particularly the latter, because all the more, modern acts upon this subject take the act of Henry the eighth as the great ground-work or legal foundation of tithes, in the preamble of which it is inserted, that "they are due to God and the church." Now this preamble, the Quakers assert, has never been done away, nor has any other principle been acknowledged instead of that in this preamble, why tithes have been established by law. The Quakers therefore conceive, that tithes are still collected on the foundation of divine right, and therefore that it is impossible for them as Christians to pay them, for that by every such payment, they would not only be acknowledging the Jewish religion for themselves, but would be agreeing in sentiment with the modern Jews, that Jesus Christ has not yet made his appearance upon earth.
CHARACTER OF THE QUAKERS
Character of the Quakers—Character of great importance in life—yet often improperly estimated—This the case with that of the Quakers—Attempt to appreciate it duly—Many outward circumstances in the constitution of the Quakers, which may be referred to as certain helps in the promotion of this attempt.
Nothing is of more importance to an individual, than a good character, during life. Posthumous reputation, however desirable it may be thought, is of no service to the person whom it follows. But a living character, if it be excellent, is inestimable, on account of the good which it produces to him who possesses it. It procures him attention, civility, love, and respect from others. Hence virtue may be said to have its reward in the present life. This account will be also true of bodies, and particularly of religious bodies, of men. It will make a difference to the individuals of these, whether they be respected, as a body, by the individuals of other religious denominations, or by the government under which they live.
But though character be of so much importance in life, there are few who estimate it, either when they view it individually or collectively, as if really is. It is often, on the one hand, heightened by partiality, and, on the other, lowered by prejudice. Other causes also combine to afford wrong apprehensions concerning it. For as different diseases throw out often the same symptoms, and the judgment of the physician is baffled, so different motives produce frequently similar actions, and the man who tries to develop a character, even if he wishes to speak truth, finds himself at a loss to pronounce justly upon it.
As these failings and difficulties have attended men in estimating the character of individuals, so they seem to have attended those who have attempted to delineate that of the society of the Quakers. Indeed, if we were to take a view of the different traits which have been assigned to the latter, we could not but conclude, that there must have been some mistake concerning them. We should have occasion to observe, that some of these were so different in their kind, that they could not reasonably be supposed to exist in the same persons. We should find that others could scarcely be admitted among a body of professing Christians. The Quaker character, in short, as it has been exhibited to the world, is a strange medley of consistency and contradiction, and of merit and defect.
Amidst accounts, which have been so incongruous, I shall attempt the task of drawing the character of the Quakers. I shall state, first, all the excellencies, that have been said to belong to it. I shall state also, all the blemishes with which it has been described to be chargeable. I shall then enquire how far it is probable that any of these, and in what degree they are true. In this enquiry, some little reliance must be placed upon my personal knowledge of the Quakers, and upon my desire not to deceive. It is fortunate, however, that I shall be able, in this case, to apply to a test, which will be more satisfactory to the world, than any opinion of my own upon this subject. I mean to say that the Quakers, like others, are the creatures of their own education and habits, or that there are circumstances in their constitution, the knowledge of which will assist us in the discussion of this question; circumstances, which will speak for themselves and to which we way always refer in the case of difficulty or doubt. Their moral education, for example, which has been already explained, cannot but have an influence on the minds of those who receive it. Their discipline also, which has appeared to be of so extraordinary a nature, and to be conducted in so extraordinary a manner, cannot but have an effect of its own kind. The peculiar customs, in which they have been described to have been born and educated, and which must of course act upon them as a second nature, must have a correspondent influence again. From these, and other prominent and distinguishing features in their constitution, I may hope to confirm some of the truths which have been told, and to correct some of the errors that have been stated, on the subject which is now before us.
Nor am I without the hope, that the discussion of this subject upon such principles, will be acceptable to many. To those, who love truth, this attempt to investigate it will be interesting. To the Quakers it will be highly useful. For they will see, in the glass or mirror which I shall set before them, the appearance which they make in the world. And if they shall learn, in consequence, any of the causes either of their merits or of their failings, they will have learnt a lesson, which they may make useful by the farther improvement of their moral character.
Good part of the character of the Quakers—This general or particular—Great general trait is, that they are a moral people—This opinion of the world accounted for and confirmed by a statement of some of the causes that operate in the production of character—One of these causes is, the discipline peculiar to this society.
I come, according to my design, to the good part of the character of the Quakers. This may be divided into two sorts, into that which is general, and into that which is particular. On the subject of their general good character I shall first speak.
It is admitted by the world, as I had occasion to observe in the first chapter of the first volume, that whatever other objections might be brought against the Quakers as a body, they deserved the character of a moral people.
Though this fact be admitted, and there would therefore appear to be no necessity for confirming it, I shall endeavour, according to the plan proposed, to shew, by means of the peculiar system of the Quakers as a religious body, that this is one of the traits given them by the world, which cannot be otherwise than true.
The Quakers believe, in the first place, that the Spirit of God, acting in man, is one of the wises of virtuous character. They believe it to be, of all others, the purest and sublimest source. It is that spring, they conceive, to good action, and of course to exalted character, in which man can have none but a passive concern. It is neither hereditary nor factitious. It can neither be perpetuated in generation by the father to the child, nor be given by human art. It is considered by the Quakers as the great and distinguishing mark of their calling. Neither dress, nor language, nor peculiar customs, constitute the Quaker, but the spiritual knowledge which he possesses. Hence all pious men may be said to have been Quakers. Hence the patriarchs were Quakers, that is, because they professed to be led by the Spirit of God. Hence the Apostles and primitive Christians were Quakers. Hence the virtuous among the Heathens, who knew nothing of Christianity, were Quakers also. Hence Socrates may be ranked in profession with the members of this society. He believed in the agency of the Divine Spirit. It was said of him, "that he had the guide of his life within him; that this spirit furnished him with divine knowledge; and that it often impelled him to address and exhort the people." Justin the Martyr had no scruple in calling both Socrates and Heraclitus Christians, though they lived long before Christ; "for all such as these, says he, who lived according to the divine word within them, and which word was in all men, were Christians." Hence also, since the introduction of Christianity, many of our own countrymen have been Quakers, though undistinguished by the exterior marks of dress or language. Among these we may reckon the great and venerable Milton. His works are full of the sentiments of Quakerism. And hence, in other countries and in other ages, there have been men, who might be called Quakers, though the word Quakerism was unknown.
[Footnote 32: Milton not only considered the Spirit of God as a divine teacher, but that the scriptures were not to be spiritually understood but by the means of this spirit. He believed also, that human learning was not necessary for the qualification of a minister of the Gospel. And he wrote an essay against tithes.]
But independently of the agency of the Spirit of God, which the Quakers thus consider to be the purest cause of a good life and character, we may reckon a subordinate cause, which may be artificial, and within the contrivance and wisdom of man. When the early Quakers met together as a religious body, though they consisted of spiritually minded men, they resolved on a system of discipline, which should be followed by those who became members of the society. This discipline we have already seen. We have seen how it attempts to secure obedience to Christian precepts. How it marks its offences. How it takes cognizance of them when committed. How it tries to reclaim and save. How, in short, by endeavouring to keep up the members of the society to a good life, it becomes instrumental in the production or preservation of a good character.
From hence it will appear, that the virtue of the Quakers, and of course that their character may be distinguished into two kinds, as arising from two sources. It may arise from spiritual knowledge on the one hand, or from their discipline on the other. That which arises from the first, will be a perfect virtue. It will produce activity in excellence. That which arises from the second, will be inferior and sluggish. But, however it may be subject to this lower estimation, it will always be able to produce for those who have it, a certain degree of moral reputation in the opinion of the world.
These distinctions having been made as to the sources of virtuous character, there will be no difficulty in shewing, that the world has not been deceived in the point in question. For if it be admitted that the Divine Spirit, by means of its agency on the heart of man, is really a cause of virtuous character, it will then be but reasonable to suppose, that the Quakers, who lay themselves open for its reception more than others, both by frequent private retirements, and by their peculiar mode of public worship, should bear at least as fair a reputation as others, on account of the purity of their lives. But the discipline, which is unquestionably a guardian of morals, is peculiar to themselves. Virtue therefore is kept up among the Quakers by an extraordinary cause, or by a cause which does not act among many other bodies of men. It ought therefore to be expected, while this extraordinary cause exists, that an extraordinary result should follow, or that more will be kept apparently virtuous among the Quakers, in proportion to their numbers, than among those where no such discipline can be found, or, in other words, that, whenever the Quakers are compared with those of the world at large, they will obtain the reputation of a moral people.
Particular traits in the Quaker character—The first of these is benevolence—This includes good will to man in his temporal capacity—Reasons why the world has bestowed this trait upon the Quakers—Probability of its existence—from their ignorance of many degrading diversions of the world—from their great tenet on war—from their discipline which inculcates equality—and watchfulness over morals—and from their doctrine that man is the temple of the Holy Spirit.
Of the good traits in the Quaker character, which may be called particular, I shall first notice that of benevolence. This benevolence will include, first, good will to man in his temporal capacity, or a tender feeling for him as a fellow creature in the varied situations of his life.
[Footnote 33: The reader must be aware, that all Quakers do not partake of this good part of the character. That the generality do, I believe. That all ought to do, I know, because their principles, as will be clearly seen, lead to such a character. Those, therefore, who do not, will see their own deficiency, or how much they have yet to attain, before they can become Quakers.]
The epithet of benevolent has been long given to this society. Indeed I know of no point, where the judgment of the world has been called forth, in which it has been more unanimous, than in the acknowledgment of this particular trait, as a part of the Quaker character.
The reasons for the application of this epithet to the society, may be various.
It has been long known, that as the early Christians called each other brethren, and loved each other as such, so there runs through the whole society of the Quakers a system of similar love, their affection for one another having been long proverbial.
It has been long known again, that as the early Christians extended their benevolence out of the pale of their own society to others who lived around them, so the Quakers manifest a similar disposition towards their countrymen at large. In matters of private distress, where persons of a different religious denomination have been the objects, and where such objects have been worthy, their purses have been generally open, and they have generally given as largely in proportion to their abilities as other people. To public charities in their respective places of residence, they have generally administered their proper share. But of late years, as they have mixed more with the world, this character of the society has become more conspicuous or better known. In the cases of dearth and distress, which happened a few years ago, it is a matter of publicity, that they were among the foremost in the metropolis, and in same other towns in the kingdom, not only in pecuniary contributions, but in frequent and regular attendances for the proper distribution of them. And if their character has ever stood higher for willingness to contribute to the wants of others at any one time than at another, it stands the highest, from whatever cause it may happen, at the present day.
It has been long known again, that as the early Christians extended their love beyond their own society, and beyond those of the world who lived around them, to those who were reputed natural enemies in their own times, so the Quakers do not confine their benevolence to their own countrymen, but extend it to the various inhabitants of the globe, without any discrimination, whether they are reputed hostile to the government under which they live. In times of war we never see them bearing arms, and in times of victory we never see them exulting, like other people. We never see them illuminating their houses, or running up and down the streets, frantic with joy upon such occasions. Their joy, on the other hand, is wounded by the melancholy consideration of the destruction of the human race, when they lament, with almost equal sympathy, over the slaughter of enemies and friends.
But this character of a benevolent people has been raised higher of late years in the estimation of the public by new circumstances or by the unanimous and decided part, which they have taken as a body, in behalf of the abolition of the slave-trade. For where has the injured African experienced more sympathy than from the hearts of Quakers? In this great cause the Quakers have been singularly conspicuous. They have been actuated as it were by one spring. In the different attempts, made for the annihilation of this trade, they have come forward with a religious zeal. They were at the original formation of the committee for this important object, where they gave an almost unexampled attendance for years. I mentioned in the preceding volume, that near a century ago, when this question had not awakened the general attention, it had awakened that of the Quakers as a body; and that they had made regulations in their commercial concerns with a view of keeping themselves clear of the blood of this cruel traffic. And from that time to the present day they have never forgotten this subject. Their yearly epistles notice it, whenever such notice is considered to be useful. And they hold themselves in readiness, on all fit occasions, to unite their efforts for the removal of this great and shocking source of suffering to their fellow-creatures.
But whether these be the reasons, or whether they be not the reasons, why the Quakers have been denominated benevolent, nothing is more true than that this appellation has been bestowed upon them, and this by the consent of their countrymen. For we have only to examine our public prints, to prove the truth of the assertion. We shall generally find there, that when there is occasion to mention the society, the word "benevolent" accompanies it.
The reader will perhaps be anxious to know how it happens, that the Quakers should possess this general feeling of benevolence in a degree so much stronger than the general body of their countrymen, that it should have become an acknowledged feature in their character. He will naturally ask, does their education produce it? Does their discipline produce it? Do their religious tenets produce it? What springs act upon the Quakers, which do not equally act upon other people? The explanation of this phenomenon will be perfectly consistent with my design; for I purpose, as I stated before, to try the truth or falsehood of the different traits assigned to the character of the Quakers, by the test of probabilities as arising from the nature of the customs or opinions which they adopt. I shall endeavour therefore to show, that there are circumstances, connected with their constitution, which have a tendency to make them look upon man in a less degraded and hostile, and in a more kindred and elevated light, than many others. And when I shall have accomplished this, I shall have given that explanation of the phenomenon, or that confirmation of the trait, which, whether it may or may not satisfy others, has always satisfied myself.
The Quakers, in the first place, have seldom seen a man degraded but by his vices. Unaccustomed to many of the diversions of the world, they have seldom, if ever, seen him in the low condition of a hired buffoon or mimic. Men, who consent to let others degrade themselves for their sport, become degraded in their turn. And this degradation increases with the frequency of the spectacle. Persons in such habits are apt to lose sight of the dignity of mankind, and to consider them as made for administration to their pleasures, or in an animal or a reptile light. But the Quakers, who know nothing of such spectacles, cannot, at least as far as these are concerned, lose either their own dignity of mind, or behold others lose it. They cannot therefore view men under the degrading light of animals for sport, or of purchasable play-things.
And as they are not accustomed to consider their fellow-creatures as below themselves, so neither are they accustomed to look with enmity towards them. Their tenet on the subject of war, which has been so amply detailed, prevents any disposition of this kind. For they interpret those words of Jesus Christ, as I have before shewn, which relate to injuries, as extending not to their fellow-citizens alone, but to every individual in the world, and his precept of loving enemies, as extending not only to those individuals of their own country, who may have any private resentment against them, but to those who become reputed enemies in the course of wars, so that they fix no boundaries of land or ocean, and no limits of kindred, to their love, but consider Jew and Gentile, Greek and Barbarian, bond and free, as their brethren. Hence neither fine nor imprisonment can induce them to learn the use of arms, so as to become qualified to fight against these, or to shed their blood. And this principle of love is not laid as it were upon the shelf, like a volume of obsolete laws, so that it may be forgotten, but is kept alive in their memories by the testimony which they are occasionally called to bear or by the sufferings they undergo by distraints upon their property, and sometimes by short imprisonments, for refusing military service.
But while these circumstances may have some influence in the production of this trait of benevolence to man in the character of the Quakers, the one by preventing the hateful sight of the loss of his dignity, and the other by destroying the seeds of enmity towards him, there are others, interwoven into their constitution, which will have a similar, though a stronger tendency towards it.
The great system of equality, which their discipline daily teaches and enforces, will make them look with an equal eye towards all of the human race. Who can be less than a man in the Quaker society, when the rich and poor have an equal voice in the exercise of its discipline, and when they fill equally the important offices that belong to it? And who is there out of the society, whom the Quakers esteem more than human? They bow their knees or, their bodies, as I have before noticed, to no man. They flatter no man on account of his riches or his station. They pay homage to no man on account of his rank or title. Stripped of all trappings, they view the creature man. If then they view him in this abstracted light, they can view him only as an equal. Bit in what other society is it, that a similar estimate is made of him? The world are apt in general to make too much of those in an elevated station, and those again in this station are apt to make less of others beneath them than they ought. Thus an under or an over valuation of individuals generally takes place in society; from whence it will unavoidably happen, that if some men are classed a little below gods, others will be classed but a little above the brutes of the field. Their discipline, again, has a tendency to produce in them an anxious concern for the good of their fellow-creatures. Man is considered, in the theory of this discipline, as a being, for whose spiritual welfare the members are bound to watch. They are to take an interest in his character and his happiness. If he be overtaken in a fault, he is not to be deserted, but reclaimed. No endeavour is to be spared for his restoration. He is considered, in short, as a creature, worthy of all the pains and efforts that can be bestowed upon him.