Imatges de pÓgina

truths which he feels, may be sure that God inspires him.” Then he overwhelmed me with quotations from scripture, which demonstrated, according to him, that there is no christianity without an immediate revelation; and he added these remarkable words :-“ When thou movest one of thy members, is it thine own strength that stirs it? Doubtless not; for this member has often involuntary movements; it is therefore he who created thy body who moves this body of clay; and the ideas which thy soul receives, is it thou who formest them? Still less so; for they come in spite of thee; it is therefore the creator of thy soul who gives thee thy ideas; but as he has left liberty to thine heart, he gives to thy mind the ideas which thy heart merits; thou seest through God, thou actest, thou thinkest through God. Thou hast therefore only to open thine eyes to this light which enlightens all men, and thou wilt both see the truth and cause it to be seen."-"Ah! this is quite father Malebranche,” exclaimed I. “I know thy Malebranche,” said he; "he was a little of a quaker, but not sufficiently so."

These are the most important things which I have learned concerning the doctrine of the quakers. In the following section you shall have their history, which you will find still more singular than their doctrine.


History of the Quakers. We have already seen that the quakers date from Jesus Christ, who, according to them was the first quaker. Religion, they say, became corrupted immediately after his death, and remained in this corruption for about six hundred years; but there were always some quakers concealed in the world, who took care to preserve the sacred fire, everywhere else extinguished, until finally this doctrine extended itself in England in the year

1642. It was at the time that three or four sects divided Great Britain by civil wars, undertaken in the name of God, that a man of the name of George Fox, of the county of Leicester, the son of a silk weaver, began to preach in the true apostolic style; that is to say, without knowing how to read or write. He was a young man of twenty-five, of irreproachable manners, and holily mad. He was dressed in leather from head to foot, and went from village to village, exclaiming against war and the clergy. If he had only preached against soldiers, he would have had nothing to fear; but as he attacked the clergy, he was soon put in prison, and carried before a justice of the peace at Derby. Fox presented himself to the judge with his leathern hat on his head. A serjeant gave him a blow on the cheek, saying "Rascal, dost thou not know that thou shouldst appear bare-headed before the judge?" Fox offered the other cheek, and begged the serjeant to give him the other blow for the love of God. The judge of Derby wishing him to swear before he was interrogated" Friend," said he to him, “ know that I never take the name of God in vain.” The judge; angry at being so addressed, and wishing to swear him, sent him to the mad-house at Derby to be whipped. Fox went, praising God, to the mad-house, where they failed not to execute the sentence with rigour. Those who inflicted the punishment of the whip on him were much surprised when he begged them to give him some more blows for the good of his soul.

They waited not to be asked again. Fox had his double dose, for which he very cordially thanked them, and began to preach to them. At first they laughed; afterwards they listened to him; and, as enthusiasm is a contagious disease, several were persuaded, and those who had whipped him became his first disciples. Delivered from prison, he went about the country with a dozen proselytes, always preaching against the clergy, and being whipped from time to time. One day, being put into the stocks, he harangued all the people with such force, that he converted about fifty, and drew the rest so into his interest, that they released him in triumph from the hole in which he was shackled, and put the vicar, whose credit had condemned Fox to this punishment, in his place.


QUAKERS. He dared to convert some of Cromwell's soldiers, who renounced the trade of war and refused to take Coaths. Cromwell would not have a sect who did not fight, as Sixtus V. augured ill of a sect' dove non si chiavava,' and made use of his power to persecute these new comers. The prisons were filled with them, but persecutions served only to make proselytes: they went from their prisons confirmed in their belief, and followed by their gaolers whom they had converted, But what most contributed to extend the sect was, that Fox, believing himself inspired, thought that he should speak in a different manner from other men. He began to tremble, to make contortions, and retain his breath, and respire violently; the priestess of Delphos could not have done it better. In a short time he acquired a great habit of inspiration, and soon afterwards he could scarcely speak otherwise. It was the first gift which he communicated to his disciples, who quickly made all the grimaces of their master, and trembled with all their might at the moment of inspiration. It was from this practice that they acquired the name of quakers, which signifies tremblers.

The lower people amused themselves with mimicking them, they trembled, spoke through their noses, had convulsions, and believed they had the Holy Ghost. They wanted some miracles, and they performed them. : The patriarch Fox said publicly to a justice of the peace, in the presence of a large assembly—“ Friend, take care of thyself; God will punish thee soon for persecuting the holy.” This judge was a drunkard, who was intoxicated every day with bad beer and brandy; he died of apoplexy two days after, at the moment he was going to sign an order to send some quakers to prison. This sudden death was not attributed to the intemperance of the magistrate; every body regarded it as an effect of the predictions of the holy man. This death made more quakers than a thousand sermons and as many convulsions could have done. Cromwell, seeing that their number augmented every day, wished to draw them to his side; he offered them

money, but they were incorruptible; and he one day said, that this was the only religion against which he could not prevail with gold.

They were sometimes persecuted under Charles II., not for their religion but for not wishing to pay tithes to the clergy; for thouing'the magistrates, and refusing to take the oaths prescribed by the law. Finally, in 1765, Robert Barclay, a Scotchman, presented to the king his Apology of the Quakers, as good a work of the kind as could be written. The epistle dedicatory to Charles II. contained no base flatteries, but bold truths and just counsels.—“ Thou hast tasted,” says he to Charles at the end of this epistle, “ of sweetness and bitterness, of prosperity and of the greatest misfortunes; thou hast been driven from the country in which thou reignest; thou hast felt the weight of oppression; and thou shouldst know how detestable the oppressor is to God and men. If, after so many trials and blessings, thy heart should harden and forget the God who remembered thee in thy misfortunes, thy crime would be greater, and thy condemnation more terrible; therefore, instead of listening to the flatterers of thy court, listen to the voice of conscience, which will never flatter thee. “ I am thy faithful friend and subject,

6. ROBERT BARCLAY." What is still more astonishing, this letter, written to a king by an obscure individual, had its effect, and the persecution ceased.

About this time appeared the illustrious William Penn, who established the sect of quakers in America, and who would have rendered them respectable in Europe, if men could have respected virtue under ridiculous appearances. He was the only son of Sir William Penn, vice-admiral of England, and favourite of the duke of York, afterwards James II.

This William Pein, at the age of fifteen, met with a quaker at Oxford, where he pursued his studies; this quaker persuaded him, and the young man, who was lively and naturally eloquent, and who had a prepossessing physiognomy and manners, soon gained over

to go

some of his contrades, and insensibly established a society of young quakers, who assembled round him, so that at the age of sixteen he found himself at the head of a sect. On his return from college to the viceadmiral his father, instead of kneeling before him and asking his blessing, according to the custom of the English, he kept his hat on his head and said to him

I am very happy, friend, to see thee in good health.” The vice-admiral thought his son mad, but soon discovered that he was a quaker. He tried all means which human prudence can employ to engage him to live like other people: the young man only answered his father by exhorting him to become a quaker himself. At last the father desisted, merely desiring him

and see the king and the duke of York with his hat under his arm, and without thouing' them. William replied, that his conscience would not permit it, and that it was better to obey God than men. His father, indignant and in despair, drove him from his house. Young Penn thanked God for what he had already suffered in his cause; he went to preach in the city, and there made many proselytes. The sermons of the minister improved every day, and as he was young, handsome, and well-made, all the ladies of the court and city devoutly ran to hear him. The patriarch, George Fox, came from the remotest part of England to see him at London, on his reputation, and both resolved to make missions into foreign countries; they embarked for Holland, after leaving plenty of labourers to take care of the vineyard of London.

Their labours were successful at Amsterdam; but that which did them most honour, and put their humility the most in danger, was the reception given to them by the princess palatine, Elizabeth, aunt of George I., king of England, a woman illustrious by her wit and knowledge, and to whom Descartes dedicated his romance of Philosophy. She was then retired to the Hague, where she saw the friends, for so the quakers called themselves, in Holland. She had several conferences with them, and if they made not a perfect quakeress of her, they at least confess that she

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