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country where all the elements of civilization abound? But is there no danger of carrying this notion too far? Our political destinies are written in the very features of the soil we inhabit. Its lakes, its rivers, its rich mines, its fertile valleys, utter but one prophecy. It is impossible to misinterpret such signs as these. They promise, --so long as peace shall unite these realms, –a perpetual increase of prosperity and glory. But what augury shall insure an equal increase of intellectual prosperity and moral glory? Shall we infer it from the institutions of this age ? Alas! they are not, like the physical features of our country, fixed and permanent tokens. They are the creations of the day, they can vouch only for the passing generation. Not to these, but to the principles which they represent, let us look for salvation. Let these be our pledge for the fulfilment of all that the imagination has ever pictured of the destination of man. The institutions of this country have sometimes been represented as an experiment, on the issue of which the cause of universal improvement, and all the best interests of humanity, in some measure depend. If these fail, it is said, then farewell all farther hope of liberty and social progress. We love not to believe that a stake so precious is pending on a cast so doubtful. These institutions may fail, they certainly will fail, whenever, in the course of our advancement, they shall cease to be faithful expressions of the wisdom and the power of the age. Like seared foliage, at the touch of Autumn, they will wither and drop whenever their brief destination is fulfilled. It may be they are destined to a less timely end. The tempest may pluck them now in all their prime,
“ And, with forced fingers, rude,
Shatter their leaves before the mellowing year." But let us not, therefore, for a moment, cease to believe in the practicability of that which these institutions were designed to realize. Let us rest our hope of liberty and social improvement on something more decisive than the issue of a single experiment, or the fate of a single people. Let our trust have a surer foundation than the land of Washington, though there be a spell in that name above all earthly names; let it have a pledge more infallible than the seed of the pilgrims, though there be a virtue in that race which the world
cannot match. Let us ground it on universal Man, on the might of the human will, and on the boundless resources of the human mind.
ART. II. --- Quakerism not Christianity: or Reasons for
renouncing the Doctrine of Friends. In Three Parts. By SAMUEL HANSON Cox, D. D., Pastor of the Laight Street Presbyterian Church ; and for Twenty Years a' Member of the Society of Friends. New York and Boston. 1833.
is anciently or and ter he books
This is an octavo volume of some seven hundred pages. The title sufficiently indicates the general purpose of the work. Of its character and tenor no one could derive any adequate notion but from the book itself. It passes the reviewer's art. It cannot be analyzed, it cannot be described, There is nothing in the whole compass of literature to which it can be likened. To give an extract as a specimen would be like giving a monosyllable to convey an idea of a copious language, or a little arc of a circle as a sample of the Egyptian Labyrinth. We cannot criticize the book in detail, for this article must have an end. We cannot praise it, for we do not approve it. We cannot denounce it altogether and there stop, for that would not be generous or fair. We cannot ridicule it, for the subject is serious, though the author's treatment of it is not always so. And yet we cannot let it wholly alone, for it is a literary curiosity and a theological phenomenon. It is a most illustrious exhibition of flaming zeal and uncompromising intolerance. It is a work that stands preëminent and unapproached among the multitudes of the same class that have appeared in all ages of the church, and we would therefore make it an occasion for some remarks upon the false principle in which such books originate and from which they take their tone.
We would first endeavour, however, to give our readers some faint conception of the character of the book before us. The author was born a member of the Society of Friends, and was educated by excellent parents in its principles. Early in youth, he became dissatisfied with the Society, and at the age of twenty he, with a praiseworthy in
dependence and honesty, defied and surmounted all obstacles, and denied the doctrines which he could not believe, and left the community with which he could not sympathize. He joined the Presbyterian Church, and in due time became a minister of that denomination in the city of New York. His mind is a powerful, copious, and imaginative one, but remarkably desultory, erratic, and unbridled. He confessedly scorns and sets at naught the common rules of style and taste, both in the construction of an individual sentence and a great book. He has a very ardent temperament, and writes with his mind constantly upon the stretch and in a continual glow. He manifests, and indeed professes, the greatest conceivable abhorrence and contempt, hatred and indignation towards Quakerism; and never did man take less care to restrain these uncomfortable feelings. He is perfectly certain that Quakerism, as to its peculiarities, is the greatest of abominations, false, absurd, and altogether the very opposite of Christianity. No honest and enlightened mind could possibly embrace it. And it is withal a fatal, soul.destroying system. Salvation under its guidance seems to be entirely out of the question. It is nearly as bad, in our author's opinion, as Unitarianism or infidelity or any similar device of Satan. He can hold no terms with it. It must be put down, it must be exterminated. And it is his vocation to aid in this holy work. He assails it with all weapons, with argument and criticism, with ridicule and sarcasm, with jests and with texts, with compassion and with revilings, with prayers and threats, in Latin and Greek, in poetry and prose, in the persons of Fox and Penn, Barclay and Hicks and Sarah Grubb. He is a wholesale denouncer, a splendid and most grandiloquent anathematizer and vituperator. His book is an ocean, nay an absolute infinity, of abuse of all sorts. We assure the reader, that if he has not seen this book, he has no conception, how many words there are in the dictionary, and elsewhere, and nowhere else, that can be brought to bear against a hated system; or by what an infinite series of permutations and combinations those words can be made to browbeat and anathematize a proscribed and devoted sect. It is due, however, to our author to record his solemn protest, that he is “conscious only of benevolence to their true temporal and eternal interests in all that he thinks, writes, or speaks concerning their erroneous scheme.” It is the system
that he hates. “I do certainly hate it ;" he says, “ by all the hope of heaven that I cherish consciously in Christ Jesus at this moment, I abhor it; by all the love I bear to the souls of men, my own and others, I abhor it; by all the sense I have of what Christianity is, and what ihe Scriptures mean, and what men infinitely need in order to salvation, I renounce and execrate it; and make it a part of my piety to detest it, as a composition of spiritual sorcery, presuming ignorance, and deceitful dogmatism, offensive to Heaven and deleterious to the noblest hopes of men in the life that now is, and also that which is to come'; - and I qualify the written solemnity only by remarking, that it is wholly and only against the system, and not at all against individuals, that it airns the honest and hearty declaration. I have no wish to 'snatch from His hand the balance or the rod,' who decides on persons accordirig to the truth; can be deceived by no specious counterfeits; has himself anathemized an angel from heaven' who should vend another gospel' or vitiate the true ; and who has of right and of power the independent sway of destinies, both mine and theirs. Amen. Alleluia.”
This he regards as perfectly consistent with genuine charity, yet he goes on to say ; " That there is criminality in all religious error, misanthropy as well as impiety, and essential sin in cherishing it, is plain to any honest reader of the word of God, or any common thinker on the nature of its contents.” And while, therefore, he regards the Friends as sunk into the lowest and darkest abyss of such criminal error, and while he calls their system a “pestilent limb of Antichrist," "covert Popery,” “ im palpable fanaticism, sustained by ingenious toils of devout sophistry and specious lying,” and stigmatizes their best men and greatest lights as “lustrous sons of moonshine," “inspired blunderers bronzed in holy in pudence, and the Quakers themselves as “ mainly, I fear, a community of infidels,” – while he thus speaks of Friends and their system, through seven hundred pages, and in language to which these clauses are, comparatively speaking, as “honey in the honeycomb," we must suppose that his charity, however real and sincere, and however comforting and satisfactory a sentiment it may be to his own bosom, will hardly seem very gracious and heavenly to the party assailed and denounced ; yet for ourselves we do believe, that there is a sort of sincerity, nay a real sincerity in his professions of charity and love towards those whom he abuses in this coarse language. We do not, after all, discover that Jesuitism and selfishness and cold malignity, that often pervade volumes of softer words. The very excess of the abuse manifests openness of soul and honesty of purpose. We believe we should hardly take offence if this same tremendous cannonade were levelled against ourselves and our faith. We are sure we could receive this whole outpouring with composure, and we doubt not that the Friends, proverbially meek, will so receive it. The utier recklessness of the assailant must preclude resentment. Still we should lament the perversion of so fine a mind, and the fieriness of so ingenuous a temper. And we should and do lameot, most of all, the prevalence of the bad principle which leads to, and seems to justify, such attacks, and keeps alive the spirit which the ymanifest. It is this ; that uniformity of belief, a oneness in speculative faith, is the only ground on which Christians can be one in brotherly fellowship and in the bond of peace.
We begin therefore with a direct denial of this principle as unsound, unevangelical, and pernicious. Uniformity of speculative opinion ought not to be regarded as the bond of union and the ground of fellowship among Christians; and men by their speculative differences do not violate the essential oneness of Christianity.
Jesus Christ could not have required or expected unity of speculative opinion with regard to his revelation, for the good and sufficient reason that there cannot be any such unity, The history of opinions and the history of human nature, from the earliest times to the latest, prove that there cannot be any thing like uniformity of opinion on subjects that admit in any degree of the exercise of reason. Such differences began under the ministry of the Apostles themselves. They sprang up immediately, in the very churches of their own planting. They have continued ever since, varying continually as to the subjects and modes of difference, yet always differences. Never for a moment have Christians agreed as to what are the true and only speculative doctrines of their religion. Every method that has ever been projected of reconciling such differences, has long ago proved itself chimerical, absurd, and impracticable. Every experiment, that has ever been made to produce uniformity, has aggravated the supposed evil, warred against human nature and human liberty, done great mischief, and turned out a miserable failure.