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LETTER I.

INTRODUCTORY, AND MISCELLANEOUS.

FRIENDS,

In so addressing you, I wish to be understood as using, not merely the distinctive designation by which you have chosen to denominate yourselves as a body of professing Christians, but a designation expressive of personal regard. I have not been an inattentive or uninterested observer of the agitation that has, for some time past, pervaded your society ; and I have felt a strong inclination, blending with a hardly less strong repugnance, to "show mine opinion.”—The cause of my repugnance may be easily imagined. I may seem to many an officious intermeddler. I may fasten upon myself the unenviable character of a gratuitous and forward disputant, fond of the gauntlet, most unconscionably enamoured of controversy, when I thus, as it will be thought, go so far out of my way to find it,—when I cannot leave

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a Christian community, between which and myself there subsists no bond of connexion, to carry on, without interference, its own discussions, and settle its own disputes.—The inclination, however, has proved still stronger than the repugnance; and I trust, that, when it is with friends I have to do, and it is in the spirit of friendship that I enter their arena, I shall not verify the proverb of the wise man, and, in “meddling with strife that belongeth not to me,” find myself in the predicament of “ one that taketh a dog by the ears."

The inclination thus to address you has arisen from two sources.

3.—The first is, the esteem in which, on various grounds, I have long been accustomed to hold the Society of Friends; an esteem generated and maintained by both public and private, official and personal acquaintance. The part which they have all along acted in a variety of the leading objects of humanity and Christian benevolence, has entitled them to it. They have been the staunch promoters of the suppression of the slave-trade and the abolition of slavery; of the circulation of the Bible; of universal education ; of the mitigation of our sanguinary penal code; and of charitable relief in all its forms. Their high average character for simplicity, integrity, and general moral worth, has entitled them to it; a character which, with whatever amount of exceptions, either as to practice or principle, it may be regarded, could never have been so extensively earned, and so long maintained, without a corresponding reality. While I can smile at some of their peculiarities, and gravely condemn others, I yet cannot but hold them, as a body, in affectionate respect.And this respect, resting on public grounds, has been confirmed by personal acquaintance, and the intimacies of friendship. I may possibly have been fortunate in the individuals and families with whom I have had the pleasure of intercourse, and the little coteries of Quaker society into which circumstances have thrown me; but assuredly, from all with whom I have come into contact, my favourable impressions have received great accessions of strength. Those among whom

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lot has been cast, I have found, not only the steady and zealous friends of every measure of public benevolence, but amiable, social, and kind in private intercourse, cheerful without levity, and serious without moroseness. I have seldom felt happier than when in the bosom of their domestic and friendly circles.--Now, you must be aware, that in proportion to the degree in which our esteem and affection are engaged, the deeper becomes our regret, that in those who are the objects of them there should be aught which we are constrained to disapprove; and especially when this is the case in what relates to their spiritual and eternal interests, compared with which, in the Christian's estimate, all

else is lighter than vanity. It is thus I bave felt towards you. In the Quaker system of doctrine and practice, as expounded in those works which have heretofore been considered as the accredited standards of their profession, there have appeared to me such defects and errors, as well as such confused and indefinite generality on essential points, as are inconsistent with a Scriptural faith and a true subjection to Christ, detrimental to the spiritual life, and even hazardous to the soul's salvation.—You will pardon me, then, if, in these circumstances, affection prompts to remonstrance. When the young man came to our blessed Master, inquiring the terms of admission into the kingdom of heaven, it is said that “ Jesus, beholding him, loved him.” The Saviour's affection, in this case, was not, we may be assured, that of complacency in his principles and character; for he had spoken of himself with all the vain self-sufficiency of the Pharisee, unconscious of defect, and elated with the expectation of such a flattering reception as he conceived due to his merits,-a state of mind in which he who came “ to seek and to save that which was lost” must have felt any thing but satisfaction :-it was the tenderness of compassion, a feeling engendered in that gracious bosom by the sight of a youth, it is not unlikely of interesting and prepossessing appearance, labouring under such miserable self-delusion,puffed up with self-righteous conceit, and, judging by

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