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Particular traits in the Quaker-character-the first
of these is benevolence this includes good-will to man in his temporal capacity-Reasons why the world has bestowed this trait upon the members of this Society-Probability of its existence-from their ignorance of many of the degrading diversions of the world—from their great tenet on war
-- from their discipline, which inculcates equality --and watchfulness over morals—and from their doctrine, that man is the temple of the Holy
Spirit. Of the good traits in the Quaker-character, which may be called particular, I shall first notice that of Benevolence. This benevolence will include, first, good-will to man in his temporal capacity, or a tender feeling for him, as a fellow-creature in the varied situations of his life*.
* The reader must be aware that all the members do not partake of this good part of the character. That the generality do, I believe That all ought to partake of it, VOL. III,
The epithet of Benevolent has been long given to this Society. Indeed I know of no point, where the judgment of the world has been called forth, in which it has been more unanimous than in the acknowledgment of this particular trait, as a part of the Quakercharacter.
The reasons for the application of this epíthet to the Society may be various.
It has been long known, that as the early Christians called each other Brethren, and loved each other as such, so there runs through the whole Society a system of similar love,--their affection for one another having been long proverbial.
It has been long known, again, that as the early Christians extended their benevolence out of the pale of their own community to others, who lived around them, so the Quakers manifest a similar disposition towards their countrymen at large. In matters of private distress, where persons of a different religious denomination have been the ob
I know; because their principles, as will be clearly seen, lead to such a character. They, therefore, who do not, will see their own deficiency, or how much they have yet to attain, before they can become Quakers.
jects, and where such objects have been worthy, their purses have been generally open, and they have generally given as largely, in proportion to their abilities, as other people. To public charities in their respective places of residence they have generally administered their proper share. But, of late years, as they have mixed more with the world, this character has become more conspicuous, or better known. In the cases of dearth and distress, which happened
years ago, it is a matter of publicity that they were amongst the foremost in the metropolis, and in some other towns in the kingdom, not only in procuring contributions, but in frequent and regular attendance for the proper distribution of them. And if their character has ever stood higher for willingness to contribute to the wants of others at any one time than at another, it stands the highest, from whatever cause iç may happen, at the present day.
It has been long known, again, that as the early Christians extended their love beyond their own Society, and beyond those of the world who lived around them, to those who were reputed natural enemies in their own
times, so the Quakers do not confine their benevolence to their own countrymen, but extend it to the various inhabitants of the globe, without any discriinination, whether they are reputed hostile or not to the Government, under which they live. In times of war we never see them bearing arms; and in times of victory we never see them exulting, like other people. We never see them illuminating their houses, or running up and down the streets, frantic with joy, upon such occasions. Their joy, on the other hand, is wounded by the melancholy consideration of the destruction of the human race, when they lament' with almost equal sympathy over the slaughter of enemies and friends,
But this character of a Benevolent People has been raised higher of late years in the estimation of the public by new circumstances, or by the unanimous and decided part, which they have taken as a body, in behalf of the Abolition of the Slave-trade. For where has the injured African experienced more sympathy than from the hearts of Quakers ? In this great cause they have been singularly conspicuous.
They have been actuated as it were by one spring.
In the different attempts made for the annihilation of this trade, they have come forward with a religious zeal. They were at the original formation of the committee for this important object, where they gave an almost unexampled attendance for years.
I mentioned in the preceding volume, that near a century ago, when this question had not awakened the general attention, it had awakened that of the individuals of this Society, and that they had made regulations in their commercial concerns, with a view of keeping themselves clear of the blood of this cruel traffic. And from that time to the present day they have never forgotten this subject. Their yearly Epistles notice it frequently, and whenever such notice is considered to be useful. And they hold themselves in readiness, on all fit occasions, to unite their efforts for the removal of this great and shocking source of suffering to their fellow-creatures.
But whether these are the reasons, or whether they are not the reasons, why the Quakers have been denominated Benevolent, nothing is more true than that this appellation has been bestowed upon them, and this by the consent of their countrymen. For we