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in the opinion which our author expresses at the close of a note, p. 204. “ It would,” says his Lordship," I thing, be greatly for the advancement of religious truth, if there were public authority, for correcting, in the common version of the Bible, such passages as either contradict, or obscure, the meaning of the original."
Such is human imperfection, that it may be doubted whether a translation of any book be extant iv any language, that does not in some instances obscure, and in others even contradict, its original. A careful collation of our authorized version of the Bible, with the original, and with many other English translations, inclines us to think it surprisingly exempt from important errors, and, on the whole, superior to any of its rivals; although some modern versions, by the assistance of more recent critical researches, and in consequence of progressive improvements in our language, are in certain parts more intelligible and accurate. Deprecating any approximation of the English Bible to the state, in which the Vulgate, and several other versions of the Scriptures have long remained, wholly unintelligible to the populace, for whose use they were originally made, we cannot but wish for the timely substitution of familiar, in the room of obsolete, expressions ; some corrections of the text, also, on the solid evidence of a vast majority of ancient MSS. might safely be admitted. But respecting emendations merely critical, to what tribunal shall we appeal ? Few persons now living would probably be less exceptionable judges, than the worthy prelate whose remarks we have cited and opposed. Incomparably do we prefer our Bible as it is, than as it might be, after passing such an ordeal.
We think it necessary, moreover, to protest against such corruptions of the English language, as, coud for could; and eut, for ate ; which repeatedly occur in this volume. But these are trifles. We dismiss them, to bear a cordial testimony 10 the care with which the author has collected, arranged, and enforced his numerous arguments ; to the originality of some; the simplicity of the whole ; the candour and liberality of his disposition, and the benevolence and utility of his design. May he enjoy the happiest reward of his labours, in their utility to the welfare of mankind and the glory of God! Art. VII. A Portraiture of Quakerism ; taken from a View of thé Moral
Education, Discipline, Peculiar Customs, Religious Principles, Political and Civil Economy, and Character of the Society of Friends. By Thomas Clarkson, M. A. 3 vols. Svo. pp. xxxii. 1270. Price 11.75,
Longman and Co. 1807. WHEN the beams of the Reformation first rouzed the slum
bering intellect of Europe, a thousand pious men were enboldened to assert their rights, and snap the rusted fetters of
antichrist: Agreed as they were to exult in the liberty of the Gospel, - they differed widely as to the mode of enjoying, and the degree of extending it. Some imagined that a humble gratitude required them to acquiesce in the first steps of reform; while others seemed to adopt for their motto, “ Îhe farther from Rome the nearer to heaven." The date of its origin, generally, marked the gradation of sentiment, by which cach of the various sects was distinguished. Lutheranism, with its pictures, and mystery of consubstantiation, was the first of the reformed communions ; the system which Calvin established at Geneva, professed a higher degree of reformation, but was itself surpassed by Independency, which arose in Britain. At length sprang forth George Fox, the father of the Quakers, who diverged still farther from the principles of Popery, and of the Reformers. If other Protestants, condemning the bigotry which limits salvation to the Romish pale, extended their charity to every devout believer in Jesus, the Quakers adopted a system of universal grace, a light or Christ within, which made Christians of those who never heard the Gospel. The priests of Rome, who called themselves the church, engrossed the interpretations of Scripture, under pretence of superior 'inspiration; but protestants in general maintained, that every Christian enjoyed the instructions of that Spirit which unfolds the sacred book; and the Quakers seemed to claim for every man, immediate revelations of equal authority with those of apostles and prophets. If the reformed churches denied that ministers of the gospel were a sacred order of priests, and stripped them of much of their pompous array, the Quakers denied them all distinctions of dress and title, destroying, in the opinion of many, the office itself. The Protestants were charged with sacrilege, for reducing the seven sacraments to'two, regarding them no longer as objects of worship and grounds of hope, but employing then as instructive symbols : by the Quakers, - however, these two remaining rites were rejected with as little ceremony, as the Reformers had observed toward the holy chrism or the confessional chair. If one would extol this, as the perfection of Christian simplicity, another would reproach it as Reformation run mad; while a third would blame only the indiscriminate zeal which could reject, along with black coats, priestly robes, and reverend titles, the scriptural rites of baptism and the eucharist; as if Christ himself, when purifying the temple, had expelled the priests and worshippers, with the dealers in doves, and overturned the altar of God, with the tables of the exchanger.
This singular Society, however, through evil report and good report, grew in extent and stability, till at length it acquired, not only the advantages of toleration common to. other dissenters, but also some additional privileges, in accommodation to its peculiar scruples. The Friends have subsisted a hundred and fifty years, and though their numbers, we are informed, are now declining, their reputation has risen to a kind of popularity which religious sects are seldom found to acquire. To this nothing has more powerfully, nor more deservedly contributed, than their philanthropic and united zeal for the abolition of the slave trade ; and this distinction has also introduced them to the notice and partiality of Mr. Clarkson, whose exertions in the same glorious, and at length successful cause, have long endeared him to the friends of humanity. It may be difficult to separate the Quakers from their portrait now before us; and since to deny the reseme blance of a flattering picture, seems to imply some reflection on the beauties of the original, we may be in danger of appearing hostile to the reputation of those whom it is fạ. shionable to admire, though not to imitate. At the same time, we are perfectly well satisfied, that, as to this question of fidelity, our opinion will correspond with that of the observant and impartial reader, and even with the acknowledgements of the candid inembers of that singular Society. It was a Quaker of this description who confessed, “ Our good friend has told us what we should be, not what we are.”
Our author commences with what he calls the moral educą tion of the Quakers. This, with an account of their discipline and peculiar customs, occupies rather more than the first volume. The greater part of the second, details their religious sentiments. Their “ great tenets," concerning war, tythes, and oaths, with some miscellaneous reflections, are given in the concluding volumes.
As a fair specimen of Mr. C.'s manner, we shall give his definition of Quakerism.
• Quakerism may be defined to be an attempt, under the divine influence, at practical Christianity, as far as it can be carried. They, who profess it, consider themselves bound to regulate their opinions, words, actions, and even Outward demeanour, by Christianity, and by Christianity alone. They consider themselves bound to give up such of the customs or fashions of men, however general or generally approved, as militate, in any manner, against the letter or spirit of the Gospel. Hence, they mix but little with the world, that they may be less liable to imbibe its spirit. Hence, George Fox made a distinction between the members of his own society and others, by the different appellations of Friends, and People of the world. They consider themselves also under an obligation to föllow virtue, not ordinarily, but even unto death. For they profess never to make a sacrifice of conscience ; and therefore, if any ordinances of man are enjoined them, which they think to be contrary to the divine will, they believe it right not to submit to them, but rather, after the example of the Apostles and primitive Christians, to suffer any loss, penalty, or inconvenience, which may result to them for so doing.' pp. 4, 5.
This definition, it will be perceived, leaves the subject undefined. The whole paragraph contains only those traits which compose the countenance of true religion, without any distinction of sects; while those peculiarities which
divide Quakers from other pious persons, are wholly unnoticed. Lay this compendious picture before any of those who make a decided and cordial profession of religion, whether in the establishment or among the dissenting communions, and each will claim it as their own likeness, without the most distant suspicion that it was intended to distinguish the Quakers from them all.
The account which is given of the moral education of the Quakers, is itself as high a commendation as can be expressed. They appear to be the only body of Christians among us, who have shewn a consistent regard to the most important concerns of their offspring, by establishing schools, in which the youthful mind may be formed for its ultimate destiny, while it is educated for its earthly duties. How can any parent pretend to an earnest solicitude for the immortal happiness of his children, or a paramount preference of religious principle, if he is willing, for the sake of literary accomplishments, to place them under a tutor who is any thing but a Christian, and in a situation where the Scriptures are supplanted by the Classics, and the prevailing tone of sentiment is as much opposed to the spirit of the Gospel, as the brutality of a heathen god to the Divinity of the Redeemer ?
This stigma of inconsistency, with which too many who pro. fess superior sanctity are branded, the Quakers honourably avoid. They rigidly prohibit games, music, theatrical spectacles, dancing, novels, and the sports of the field; Mr. C. states the reasons with force and intelligence ; and he replies to the objections which may be urged against these pro-. hibitions. But he seems unaware that the great mass of the dissenters, and those who are termed evangelical churchmen, (i. e. all those who are classed together by the ingenious names which vice and impiety have invented for the avowedly serious) are unanimous in condemning most of these amusements, as unworthy of Christians, who are not of this world, but are called out of it, to be a peculiar people. Whenever an individual among these societies is perceived to addict himself to such gratifications, he is considered, as a fashionable conforming Quaker would be, on tip-toe to leave religion for the world. We must, however, except music, which Mr. C. has treated in a manner strangely superficial and unsatisfactory. Is it not extraordinary, that he should not cast VOL. III.
the slightest glance on sacred music? Amidst the many replies to inferior objections, should not some apology have been attempted for the total rejection of what all other Christians deem an important and delightful part of instituted Christian worship, " the singing of psalms and hymns and spiritual songs?" Is there not room for the suspicion, that Mr. C. adroitly evades an objection which he dares not face, and that his prudence rather prevailed over his candour, in declining to raise that particular ghost which he could not lay? A Quaker of no mean intelligence once acknowledged to us, that vocal, and not merely mental, singing, appears, from the New Testament, to have been practised by the earliest Christians. And while it is viewed as a mode of worship, sanctioned on the most solemn occasion by the Author of Christianity, will not the Quakers appear guilty of opposing their reasonings and feelings to his supreme wisdom and authority? In condemning songs, other devout persons heartily join with the Friends; and those abuses of music, and prostitutions of the voice, against which alone the objections to music itself are applicable, are as odious to every conscientious Christian, as they could possibly be to Fox himself. Notwithstanding these exceptions, we recommend this portion of the work as eminently useful : it abounds with good general principles, which enter into the essence of morals and true religion, and demand the serious attention of all who aspire to the holiness and happiness which result to the genuine disciples of Jesus, from a consistent perseverance in his precepts.
The subject of Discipline among the Quakers is next represented, as displaying all that considerate prudence and sound policy, for which this body is justly celebrated. Mr. C. anticipates some objections; but whether by design, or from want of farther acquaintance with the subject, he omits that one which is chief in importance, and most difficult of reply. The whole system of Quaker discipline has been considered as a beautiful frame of civil polity, introduced nevertheless into the Christian church with no greater propriety, than the Grecian tactics might have been employed to regulate the
mo. tions of the Jewish priests in the functions of the temple. They can only be called the laws of the corporate body; but it is desirable that every thing to which Christians, as such, are summoned to submit, should apply to the conscience with the authority of Christ, their only legislator. If once the principle be conceded, that any, earthly power is competent to frame a code for Christians, why may not Rome, it is urged, enact her body of canon laws?
The monthly, quarterly, and annual meetings of the Society, both the latter consisting of male and female: deputies,