Imatges de pÓgina
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known ill health because he had never indulged his passions nor practised intemperance. I never in my life saw a more noble or engaging air than his. He was dressed like all of his religion, in a coat without plaits in the sides, or buttons on the pockets and wrists, and wore a large hat with a broad brim like our ecclesiastics. He received me with his bat on his head, and advanced towards me without making the least inclination of his body; but he had more politeness in the open and humane expression of his countenance, than there is in the custom of drawing one leg after the other, and carrying in the hand that which is made to cover the head.

said he to me, that thou art a stranger; if I can be of any service to thee, thou hast only to speak." Sir,” said I, bending my body and sliding my foot towards him according to our custom,“ I flatter myself that my just curiosity will not displease you, and that you will do me the honour to instruct me in your religion.” “ The people of thy country,” answered he, “ make too many compliments and reverences; but I have never yet seen any of them who had the same curiosity. Come in and let us first dine together.” I made some more bad compliments, because I could not suddenly divest myself of my general habits; and after a wholesome and frugal repast, which was commenced and finished by a prayer to God, I began to interrogate my host.

I opened the subject by the question which good catholics have more than once put to huguenots :“My dear sir," said I, “ are you baptised?” No," answered the quaker, nor are my brethren.” “ Morbleu!" replied I, you are not then christians ?" “ Friend,” rejoined he, swear not at all: we are christians; but we think not that christianity consists in throwing water on the head of a child with a little salt in it." “ Oh, good God!” cried I, amazed at this impiety, “have you then forgotten that Jesus Christ was baptised by John ?" “ Once more, friend,

wards wrote to the author to complain that he had added a litile to the trutlı, and assured him that God was offended at his sporting with the quakers.-French Ed.

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no oaths,” said the benign quaker: “ Christ received the baptism of John, but he never baptised any one; we are not the disciples of John but of Christ.” Ah, you would be burnt immediately by the holy inquisition,” exclaimed I; “in the name of God, my dear man, let me baptise you.” “ If that only was wanting, in condescension to thy weakness we would do it willingly,” added he gravely; “ we condemn no one for using the ceremony of baptism, but we think that those professing a gentle, holy, and spiritual religion, should abstain as much as they can from judaical ceremonies.”

“Judaical ceremonies !" cried I. Yes, friend," continued he, “and so judaical, that several Jews still sometimes make use of the baptism of John. Consult antiquity, it will teach theė that John merely renewed this practice, which was in use a long time before him among the Hebrews, as the pilgrimage of Mecca was among the Ishmaelites. Jesus received the baptism of John in like manner; he also submitted to circumcision; but circumcision and washing with water should both be abolished by the baptism of Christ, that baptism of spirit, that ablution of souls which saves men. So the precursor John said-'I indeed baptise you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear; he shall baptise you with the Holy Ghost and with fire.' The great apostle of the Gentiles, Paul, also writes to the Corinthians,— Christ has not sent me to baptise, but to preach the gospel.' So this same Paul baptised but two persons with water, and that was against his inclination. He circumcised his disciple Timotheus; the other apostles circumcised all who wished it. Art thou circumcised ?” added he. plied that I had not that honour. “.Well, friend,” said he, “thou art a christian without being circumcised, and I without being baptised.”

This is the manner in which my good host misapplied, speciously enough, two or three passages of the holy scriptures which seemed to favour his sect; he forgot, with the best grace in the world, an hundred passages

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you use it?”

66 What! no

which quashed it. I took great care to contest nothing with him; there is nothing to be gained from an enthusiast. It is not advisable to tell a man of the faults of his mistress, nor a pleader of the weakness of his cause, nor to give reasons to a fanatic. Thus I passed on to other questions. “ With regard to the communion,” said I, “how do

'-" We use it not,” said he. communion ?”-“ No; no other than that of hearts." Then he again quoted the scriptures, made me a fine sermon against communion, and spoke with an inspired tone to prove to me that sacraments were all of human invention, and that the word sacrament is not once found in the gospel. " Pardon my ignorance," said he; “ I have not brought forward an hundredth party of the proofs of my religion, but thou mayest see them in the exposition of our faith by Robert Barclay. It is one of the best books which ever passed through the hands of men; our enemies agree that it is very

dangerous; which proves how reasonable it is.” I promised to read this book, and my quaker believed me already converted.

He afterwards, in a few words, gave me the reason of some singularities which expose this sect to the derision of others. “Confess,” said he, “ that thou hast. had much ado to prevent thyself from laughing, when I have answered all thy civilities with my hat on my

ead, and by thouing' thee. Yet thou appearest to me too well-informed to be ignorant, that in the time of Christ no nation fell into the ridiculous custom of substituting the plural for the singular: they said to Cæsar Augustus,– I laud thee, I pray thee, I thank thee; it was not even permitted to say sir, dominus. It was not until a long time after him, that men began to make use of you instead of thou, as if they were double; and to usurp the impertinent titles of highness, eminence, holiness, and even divinity, which some earthly reptiles give to other earthly reptiles, assuring them that, with a profound respect and infamous falsity, they are their very humble and obedient servants. It is to be more on our guard against this unworthy commerce of lies and flattery, that we equally 'thou' kings and coal-heavers; that we salute no person; having only charity for men and respect for the laws.

* We also wear rather a different dress from other men, in order that it may be a continual warning to us not to resemble them. Others wear marks of their dignities, and we those of christian humility. We fly assemblies of pleasure, spectacles, and play; for we should be much to blame to fill with these trifles hearts in which God should dwell. We never make sermons, not even on justice; we think that the name of the Most High should not be prostituted in the miserable debates of men. When we are obliged to appear before magistrates in the affairs of others (for We never have any law-suits), we affirm the truth by a yes or a no, and the judges believe us on our simple word, whilst so many other christians perjure themselves on the gospel. We never go to war; not that we fear death; on the contrary, we bless the moment which unites us to the Being of beings; but it is that we are neither wolves, tigers, nor bull dogs, but men and christians. Our God, who has commanded us to love our enemies, and to suffer without murmuring, would no doubt be displeased at our crossing the sea to go and kill our fellow-creatures, because murderers, dressed in red, with hats two feet high, enlist citizens by making a noise with two little sticks on the outstretched skin of an ass. And when, after battles gained, all London shines with illuminations, the sky blazes with rockets, and the air resounds with the noise of bells and cannons, we tremble with silence at the murders which cause this public joy."

Such was pretty nearly the conversation which I had with this singular man; but I was much surprised when, on the following sunday, he took me to the quaker's church. They have several chapels in London; that to which I went is near the famous pillar called the Monument. They were already assembled when I entered with my conductor. There were about four hundred men in the church, and three hundred women. The women hid their faces; the men were covered with

their large hats; all' were seated in profound silence. I passed through the midst of them without a single one raising his eyes to look at me. This silence lasted for a quarter an hour; at last one of them rose, took off his hat, and, after some sighs, uttered, half with his mouth and half through his nose, a piece of balderdash, drawn as he believed from the gospel, but of which neither himself nor any one else understood anything. When this maker of contortions had finished his fine monologue, the assembly separated, all edified and stupified. I enquired of my host why the wisest amongst them suffered such nonsense?“We are obliged to tolerate it,” said he; " because we cannot know, whether a man who rises to speak is inspired by the spirit, or by folly. In doubt, we listen patiently; we even permit women to speak; two or three of our devotees are often inspired at once, and then we have a great noise in the house of the Lord.”—“ You have no priest then?" said I. “No, friend,” said the quaker; " and we find ourselves the better for it.” Then opening a book of his sect, he read these words with emphasis : It pleaseth not God that we should dare to order some person to receive the Holy Ghost on sundays to the exclusion of all the other faithful.'-" Thank heaven, we are the only sect upon earth who have no priests. Wouldst thou take from us so happy a distinction? Why should we abandon our child to mercenary nurses when we have milk of our own to give it? These hired persons would soon rule the house, and oppress the mother and child. God has said — You have received freely, give freely. After this command, shall we make a trade of the gospel, sell the Holy Spirit, and make a merchant's shop of an assembly of christians? We give no money to men dressed in black, to assist our poor, bury our dead, and preach to the faithful; these holy employments are too dear to us to give them to others." - But how," insisted I, can you discern whether it is the spirit of God which animates your discourse?" “ Whoever,” said he,“ shall pray to God to enlighten him, and shall announce the evangelical

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VOL. V.

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