Obrazy na stronie

other. The former was a practice common among the Jews, used by all masters of families, upon that occasion; but this, as to the manner, and person acting it, to wit, for the master to rise up, and wash the feet of his servants and disciples, was more singular and observable. In the breaking of bread, and giving of wine, it is not pleaded by our adversaries, nor yet mentioned in the text, that he particularly put them into the hands of all; but breaking it, and blessing it, gave it the nearest, and so they from hand to hand. But here it is mentioned, that he washed not the feet of one or two, but of many. He saith not in the former, if they do not eat of that bread, and drink of that wine, that they shall be prejudiced by it; but here he says expressly to Peter, that if he wash him not, he hath no part with him;' which being spoken upon Peter's refusing to let him wash his feet, would seem to import no less than not the continuance only, but even the necessity of the ceremony. In the former he saith, as it were passingly, 'Do this in remembrance of me;' but here he sitteth down again, he


desires them to consider what he hath done, tells them positively, that as he hath done to them, so ought they to do to one another;' and yet again he redoubles that precept, by telling them, that he has given them an example, that they should do so likewise.' If we respect the nature of the thing, it hath as much in it as either baptism or the breaking of the bread, seeing it is an outward element of a cleansing nature, applied to the outward man, by the command and the example of Christ, to signify an inward purifying. I would willingly propose this seriously to men, that will be pleased to make use of that reason and understanding that God hath given them, and not be imposed upon, nor abused by the custom or tradition of others, whether this ceremony, if we respect either the time that it was appointed in, or the circumstances wherewith it was performed, or the command enjoining the use of it, hath not as much to recommend it for a standing ordinance of the Gospel, as either water-baptism, or bread and wine, or any other of that kind? I wonder, then, what reason the Papists

Z 2

pists can give, why they have not numbered it among their sacraments, except merely • voluntas Ecclesiæ et traditio Patrum;' that is, the tradition of the Fathers and the will of the Church."

The reader will see by this time, that on subjects, which have given rise to such controversies as Baptism and the Lord's Supper have now been described to have done, people may be readily excused, if they should entertain their own opinions about them, though these may be different from those, which are generally received by the world. The difficulties indeed, which have occurred with respect to these ordinances, should make us tender of casting reproach upon others, who should differ from ourselves concerning them. For, when we consider that there is no one point, connected with these ordinances, about which there has not been some dispute; that those, who have engaged in these disputes, have been men of equal learning and piety; that all of them have pleaded primitive usage, in almost all cases, in behalf of their own opinions; and that these disputes are not even now, all of

[ocr errors]


them, settled; who will take upon him to censure his brother, either for the omission or the observance of one or the other rite? And let the Quakers, among others, find indulgence from their countrymen for their opinions on these subjects. This indulgence they have a right to claim, from the consideration that they themselves never censure others of other denominations on account of their religion. With respect to those who belong to the Society, as the rejection of these ceremonies is one of the fundamentals of Quakerism, it is expected that they should be consistent with what they are considered to profess. But with respect to others, they have no unpleasant feelings towards those, who observe them. If a man believes that Baptism is an essential rite of the Christian church, the Quakers would not judge him, if he were to go himself, or if he were to carry his children, to receive it. And if, at the communion table, he should find his devotion to be so spiritualized, that in the taking of the bread and wine he really and spiritually discerned the body and blood of Christ, and was sure


that his own conduct would be influenced morally by it, they would not censure him for becoming an attendant at the altar. In short, the Quakers do not condemn those of a different persuasion for their attendances on these occasions. They only hope that, as they do not see these ordinances in the same light as others, they may escape censure if they refuse to admit them among themselves.


« PoprzedniaDalej »