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have only to examine our public prints to prove the truth of the assertion. We shall generally find there, that when there is occasion to mention the Society, the word “ Benevolent” accompanies it.
The reader will perhaps be anxious to know how it happens, that the Quakers, should possess this general feeling of benevolence in a degree so much stronger than the general body of their countrymen, that it should have become an acknowledged feature in their character, He will naturally ask, Does their Discipline produce it?-Do their religious tenets produce it ?-What springs act upon these, which do not equally act upon other people ? — The explanation of this phænomenon will be perfectly consistent with my design ; for I purpose, as I stated before, to try the truth or falsehood of the different qualities assigned to the character of the Quakers by the test of probabilities, as arising from the nature of the customs or opinions, which they adopt. I shall endeavour therefore to show, that there are circumstances connected with their constitution, which have a tendency to make them look upon man in a less degraded and hostile, and in a more kindred and elevated
light than many others. And when I have accomplished this, I shall have given that explanation of the phænomenon, or that confirmation of the trait, which, whether it may or may not satisfy others, has always satisfied myself.
The members of this community, in the first place, have seldom seen a man degraded but by his vices. Unaccustomed to many of the diversions of the world, they have seldom, if ever, seen him in the low condition of a hired buffoon or mimic. Men, who consent to let others degrade themselves for their sport, beconie degraded in their turn. And this degradation increases with the frequency of the spectacle. Persons in such habits are apt to lose sight of the dignity of mankind, and to consider the actors as made to administer to their pleasures--or to consider them in an animal or a reptile light. But the Quakers, who know nothing of such spectacles, cannot, at least as far as these are concerned, lose either their own dignity of mind, or behold others lose it. They cannot therefore view men under the degrading light of animals for sport, or of purchaseable playthings.
And as they are not accustomed to consider their fellow-creatures as below themselves, so neither are they accustomed to look with enmity towards them. Their tenet on the subject of War, which has been $0 amply detailed, prevents any disposition of this kind. For they interpret those words of Jesus Christ, as I have before shown, which relate to injuries, as extending not to their fellow-citizens alone, but to every individual in the world; and his precept of loving enemies, as extending not only to those individuals of their own country,
who may have any private resentment against them, but to those, who become reputed enemies in the course of wars ;- so that they fix no boundaries of land or ocean, and no limits of kindred, to their love, but consider Jew and Gentile, Greek and Barbarian, Bond and Free, as their Brethren. Hence neither fine nor imprisonment can induce them to learn the use of arms, so as to become qualified to fight against these, or to shed their blood. And this principle of love is not laid as it were upon the shelf, like a volume of obsolete laws, so that it may be forgotten,—but is kept alive in their
memories by the testimony, which they are occasionally called to bear, or by the sufferings they undergo by distraints upon their property, and sometimes by short imprisonments, for refusing military service.
But while these circumstances may have some influence in the production of this trait of benevolence to man in the character of the Quakers, the one by preventing the hateful sight of the loss of his dignity, and the other by destroying the seeds of enmity towards him, there are others interwoven in their constitution, which will have a similar, though a stronger, tendency towards it. The
great system of equality, which their discipline daily teaches and enforces, will make them look with an equal eye towards all of the human race. Who can be less than a man in this Society, when the rich and
poor have an equal voice in the exercise its discipline, and when they fill equally the important offices that belong to it? And who is there out of the Society, whom its members esteem more than human? They bow their knees or their bodies, as I have before noticed, to no man. They flatter no man on account of his riches or his station.
They They pay homage to no.man on account of his rank or title. Stript of all trappings they view the creature man. If, then, they view him in this abstracted light, they can view him only as an equal. But in what other Society is it that a similar estimate is made of him? The world are apt in general to make too much of those in an elevated station; and those, again, in this station are apt to make less of others beneath them than they ought. Thus an under- or an overvaluation of individuals generally takes place in society ; from whence it will unavoidably 'happen, that if some men are classed a little below superior Beings, others will be classed but little above the brutes of the field.
Their discipline, again, has a tendency to produce in them an anxious concern for the good of their fellow-creatures. Man is considered, in the theory of this discipline, as a being, for whose spiritual welfare the members are bound to watch. They are to take an interest in his character and his happi
If he be overtaken in a fault, he is not to be deserted, but reclaimed. No endeavour is to be spared for his restoration. He is considered, in short, as a creature