« AnteriorContinuar »
The origin of applying the plural number to an individual, and of giving complimentary titles to one another, will, I suppose, be acknowledged, by those who have traced these things to their source, to have been vanity or pride. Besides this consideration, our practice of using the singular number to a single person, and of calling one another by the proper name, is both more correct and more perspicuous. This is also the case with respect to our names of days and months. - Nevertheless, it is not by reason and propriety alone, that our conduct in these things may be supported ; nor are these the grounds of our peculiar practice. Religion, if an attention to the examples and precepts recorded in the Holy Scriptures, has a claim to the name of religion, also justifies our conduct. It was, no doubt, in allusion to the complimentary, and not to the proper use, of the appellations of Rabbi, Father, and Master, that our Lord prohibited the practice among his followers. Speaking of the disposition of the Scribes and Pharisees, He says : “ They love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.”* Then, addressing Himself to the multitude and to his disciples, He adds : “ But be not ye called Rabbi : for one is your master, éven Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father upon
earth h; for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters; for one is your Master, even Christ.” + The following expressions of Elihu, a pious young man mentioned in the book of Job, are also applicable to our present purpose : 66 Let me not, I pray you, accept any man's person ; neither let me give flattering titles unto man ; for I know not to give flattering titles : in so doing, my Maker would soon take me away." I
* Matt, xxiii. 6,7. . + Matt, xxiii, 8, 9, 10.
# Job xxxii. 21, 22.
With respect to the use of the singular number to a single person, it is the uniform practice in the Holy Scriptures; and indeed in all other writings, to a period of time long posterior to that in which the last part of the Scriptures was written, It is not, therefore, to be expected, that any allusion to a contrary practice should be mentioned in them. We think, however, that we may consider our conduct, in this respect, consistent with that “ form of sound words," * recommended by Paul to Timothy.
The giving of the names of heathen deities, &c. to days and months, is not only inconsistent with the form of sound words" just mentioned; but also contrary to the spirit of the injunction given to the Israelites, as a preservative from contaminating themselves with idolatry : “In all things that I have said unto you, be circumspect : and make no mention of the name of other gods ; neither let it be heard out of thy mouth.” 12. It may also be remembered, that when the reformation of the Jews was foretold by the prophets, these, amongst other things, were stated as a part : “I will take the name of Baalim out of her mouth ;” I “I will turn to the people a pure language ;” ş and 6 I will cut off the names of the idols out of the land, and they shall no more be remembered.” ||
There is another peculiarity in our conduct, on which it may be proper to say a few words. Our refusal to take off the hat, as a mark of respect to man, is generally known. The reason for this is, that it is a token of reverence enjoined and used, in our solemn approaches to the Supreme Being, when exercising the religious duties of preaching and prayer. On this account, and not from any disrespect to our superiors, we think it right not to confound this solemn act of reverence to the Almighty, with the marks of respect to our fellow creatures. True civility and due respect may be better shown by conduct, than by compliment: and we are far from desiring to dismiss those social dụties from our attention and regard.
* 2 Tim. i. 13,
+ Exodus xxiii, 13. a See also Deut. xii. 3.
Joshua xxiii. 7. Psalm xvi. 4. | Hosea ii. 17.
f Zephaniah iij. 9. || Zechariah xiii. 2. The following lines are not inapplicable to this subject :
« The Pagan page how far more wise than ours !
Many are apt to plead general custom as a sanction to practices, which, were they impartially examined, would be acknowledged to be erroneous and improper : and it is to be regretted, that the professors of Christianity should retain so much that is inconsistent with its purity and simplicity. If these things cannot be styled “the weightier matters of the Law,”* and we allow they cannot, yet, we believe, they may be considered as the externals of religion, and as things which we
ought not to leave undone."
* Matt. xxiii. 23.
Peaceableness of our principles a security to Government.-- Duties of subjects.--Suffering peaceably submitted to, when active compliance cannot be conscientiously rendered.—Civil and religious liberty valued, and how best defended.
The peaceableness of our principles, when applied even to enemies, affords a strong security to any government under which we live, that we cannot unite in any practices, with a view either to injure or subvert it. The consideration of this circumstance, attended with a correspondent conduct, has probably been the means of obtaining indulgences for some of our principles, which are contrary to general laws. Several of these principles are such, as generally to exclude us from becoming a constituent part of government : what we have, therefore, to consider, are the duties of subjects.
These duties are clearly defined in the New Testament ; and under circumstances which render this definition peculiarly strong. When they were enjoined, the primitive Christians were frequently under persecution ; the government, at that time, was of a kind which is generally considered the worst, and in the hands of the worst of men ; nevertheless, we see no encouragement given to any thing like sedition or resistance. On the contrary, the believers in Christ were taught to be subject unto the higher powers,"*
* Rom. xiii. In
6 to obey magistrates,"
ordinance of man for the Lord's sake. As free, and not using liberty for a cloak of maliciousness, but as the servants of God." + These are the principles on which our Society, as a body, have uniformly acted ; as may be seen by the advices given on this subject, in a Book of Extracts from advices of the Yearly Meeting, printed in London, in the year 1802. From page 19 of this book, the following advice is taken : 66 We trust we are called to show forth to the world, in life and practice, that the blessed reign of the Messiah, the Prince of Peace, is begun ; and we doubt not but it will proceed, till it attain its completion in the earth : when, according to the prophecies of Isaiah and Micah, nation shall not lift up sword against nation ; neither shall they learn war any more.' Influenced by these principles, we cannot consistently join with such as form combinations of a hostile nature against any; much less in opposition to those placed in sovereign or subordinate authority : nor can unite with or encourage, such as revile and asperse them ; for it is written : “ Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people.'”-Yearly Meeting's Printed Epistle, 1775.
But whilst we think it right to put in practice the advices given to the primitive Christians on this subject, we are, as they were, under circumstances which sometimes prevent us from actively complying with what the laws of the country require. Nevertheless, we submit to the law, by suffering the peaceable execution of it, in cases in which we cannot actively comply. There are duties which we owe to our consciences and to God, with which human power
cannot dispensezand of which it is not a competent judge. The government of conscience is God's prerogative; and when it is neither used as a cloak of maliciousness, nor abused to the