Obrazy na stronie

to the same injunction. They never meet upon saints' days, as such, that is, as days demanding the religious assemblings of men, more than others; first, because they conceive this would be giving into popish superstition; and secondly, because these days were originally the appointment of men, and not of God; and no human appointment, they believe, can make one day holier than another.

For the latter reason, also, they do not assemble for worship on those days, which their own government, though they are particularly attached to it, appoint as fasts. They are influenced also by another reason in this latter case. They conceive, as religion is of a spiritual nature, and must depend upon the Spirit of God, that true devotion cannot be excited for given purposes, or at a given time. They are influenced again by the consideration, that the real fast is of a different nature from that required. “Is not this the fast,” says Isaiah*, " that I have chosen, to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and

* Isaiah lviii. 6, 7.


to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor, that are cast out, to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him, and that thou hide not thyself froin thy own flesh ?” This the Quakers believe to be the true fast, and not the work of a particular day, but to be the daily work of every real Christian.

Indeed, no one day, in the estimation of this people, can be made by human appointment either more holy or more proper for worship than another. They do not even believe that the Jewish Sabbath, which was by the appointment of God, continues in Gospel-times, or that it has been handed down by divine authority as the true Sabbath of Christians. All days with the members of this Society are equally holy, and all equally proper for the worship of God. In this opinion they coincide with the evermemorable John Hales. “ For prayer, indeed,” says this venerable Sabbath ordained. Yet prayer itself is sabbathless, and admits of no rest, no intermission at all. If our hands be clean, we

man, «


was the when

must, as our apostle commands us, lift them up every where, at all times, and make every place a church, every day a sabbath-day, every

hour canonical. As you go to the market, as you stand in the streets, as you walk in the fields,-in all these places, you may pray as well, and with as good acceptance, as in the church; for you yourselves are temples of the Holy Ghost, if the Grace of God be in you, more precious than any

of those which are made with hands.” Though, however, the Quakers believe no one day in the sight of God to be holier than another, and no one capable of being rendered so by human authority, yet they think that Christians ought to assemble for the public worship of God. They think they ought to bear an outward and public testimony for God; and this can only be done by becoming members of a visible church, where they may be seen to acknowledge him publicly in the face of men. They think also, that the public worship of God increases, as it were, the fire of devotion, and enlarges the sphere of spiritual life in the souls of men. “ God causes the inward life,” says Barclay, “the more to abound,

when his children assemble themselves dili"gently together to wait upon him ; so that, as iron sharpeneth iron, the seeing of the faces of one another, when both are inwardly gathered unto the Life, giveth occasion for the Life secretly to rise, and to pass from vessel to vessel. And as many candles lighted, and put in one place, do greatly augment the light, and make it more to shine forth; so, when many are gathered together into the same Life, there is more of the glory of God, and his power appears to the refreshment of each individual ; for that he partakes not only of the Light and Life raised in himself, but in all the rest. And therefore Christ hath particularly promised a blessing to such as assemble in his name, seeing he will be in the midst of them.” For these and other reasons, the Quakers think it proper that men should be drawn together to the public worship of God. But if so, they must be drawn together at certain times. Now as one day has never been in the eyes of the Quakers more desirable for such an object than another, their ancestors chose the first day in the week, because the Apostles had chosen it for the


religious assembling of themselves and their followers. And, in addition to this, that more frequent opportunities might be af forded them of bearing their outward testimony publicly for God, and of enlarging the sphere of their spiritual life, they appointed a meeting on one other day in the week in most places, and two in some others, for the same purpose.


« PoprzedniaDalej »