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Scotland, this loss appeared to be in some measure compensated, by a regular and connected detail of their history, expressly collected for the use of posterity. For although, in the course of it, no large portion has allusion to our worthy Diarist himself; yet I found, that, not only in these parts but in every other, is held up to view, a glowing exemplification of many of those very themes of meditation and of sentiment, upon which he had so largely dwelt. And besides this, on looking into the Records kept by the Monthly Meeting of Friends at Aberdeen, a remarkable fact appeared, namely, that the Author of the Diary himself, only a year before his own decease, was the first to set his hand to the work of preparing this ancient document; and that, after that event, his son Andrew in particular, together with “the Apologist” and others, became a chief contributor.
These things thus coming to my knowledge and to my charge, perhaps it was not very unnatural for me to conclude, such memorials of the just were not designed to be buried in oblivion; but were equally calculated for the service of the present, as for generations that had gone before. Neither could I, in reference to them, divest myself of the feeling of a trust consigned to me, (however unworthy,) for this end,namely, to bear them forth, as a testimony, to the church and to the world. The religious Society of Friends has ever had a high sense of the obligation there is, to treasure up and to proclaim such evidences of the faithfulness of the Most High in his dealings with his children ; and they have ever considered themselves as subjects and witnesses of his redeeming mercy and all-sufficient grace in Jesus Christ. In confirmation of this position, may be brought forward the language of William Penn at the beginning of his Preface to Robert Barclay's Works. “ Our blessed Lord having effectually gathered and fed his people by his disciples in this generation, it is a duty we owe to God and ourselves, as well as to them, that we gather up the remainder of their testimonies of love and service, that so nothing be lost."
The foregoing being the acknowledged ground-work of the ensuing Memoirs, it may be added, that various original and other sources have been consulted in the present compilation. Besse, in forming his “Collection of the Sufferings of Friends," 1753, evidently had access to a copy of the above Record ; and Gough, in his History, 1790, takes his chief authority from Besse; but both these accounts of the affairs of the Society in Scotland are defective and incorrect. In the arrangement of the materials for the present division of this volume, very little liberty of composition has been indulged in; so that the reader is here furnished with a faithful, and in many places almost a literal transcript of events, oftentimes expressed in nearly the words of the eye-witnesses. So far, then, as applies to the correctness of the details themselves, and even the mode of stating them, I consider myself divested of responsibility; at the same time, the Society of Friends, as a body, are not committed by the reflections interspersed among those details. Some of the accounts, of rather an extraordinary nature, are here represented in the light of direct Providential interpositions : and it may possibly be thought, that matters of this kind, as well as the comments upon them, had better have been wholly excluded, or at least not turned to so high an account. But, let it be observed, how much more chargeable an author would have been, himself a member of this religious community, had he been disposed to expunge from their History, a feature so well known and so fully sanctioned, not only in all their recorded annals, but in most of their standard publications.
There may also be those, who, in perusing these recollections of earlier days, would incline to think, that the unchristian conduct and principles, which appear at one time to have governed any individuals or set of men, had better not be thus revived, lest it should seem too much like aggravating occasions of repulsion among the followers of the same Lord. This objection, however, must apply with equal weight to all other subjects of history, and would have its parallel in every age of the church.
But, it should be distinctly understood, that the controversy of the people called Quakers never was against any set of men, as such ; on the contrary, they always loved and esteemed that which is excellent and of good report in all ; and if such classes or persons, on whom any degree of opprobrium has rested, testify against the conduct of those that have given cause for it, their system of religious policy is not by any means chargeable with faults, that have been disowned by them, and condemned:- although this very course has been pursued towards the Friends, by some whose character ranks well in the estimation of the public.--See Joseph Gurney Bevan's Refutation of some of the more modern Misrepresentations of the Friends.— Such instances, however, of individuals, who have in any wise failed of the grace of God, must not be expected, nor are they often allowed,'altogether to go into oblivion; they more ordinarily remain,-as the stranded vessel or as the warning beacon,- sea-mark to deter the ignorant or too daring mariner ; nor (to drop the metaphor) would any of these, when brought into a penitent and reformed state, even desire to have it otherwise, if they are of the Apostle Paul's way of thinking on this subject. 1 Tim. i. 12 to 16.
It is, moreover, due to the memory of those, who, in the spirit of their meek and self-denying Saviour, “ endured such contradiction of sinners against" themselves, that the temper and tendency of that age should be manifested ;—otherwise, very superficial and incorrect notions might be readily taken up respecting them; and the peculiar line of behaviour, so uniformly observed by these true friends of the true spiritual liberty, might be greatly misunderstood. This remark leads to the notice of one trait, in particular, which has ever been, and I believe must ever be attributable to the real “Quaker," and which is strikingly apparent throughout the greater part of these Memoirs : namely, an unconceding and close adherence to that course of conduct, which their sense of duty has at any time indicated. Clarkson, in his “Portraiture” of us, has adverted to it in these words.-" It was observed, in the
time of George Fox, of the members of this Society, that they were as stiff as trees; and this idea concerning them has come down to the present day. The origin of this defective feature must be obvious to all. The Quakers, as we have seen, will neither
pay tithes, nor perform military service, nor illuminate their houses, like other people, though they are sure of suffering by their refusing to comply with custom in these cases. Now, when individuals, few in number, become singular, and differ from the world at large, it is generally considered, that the majority are in the right, and that the minority are in the wrong. But, obstinacy may be defined to be, a perseverance in that which is generally considered to be wrong. This epithet has attached, and will attach to those, who resist the popular opinion, till men are better educated, or till they lose their prejudices, or have more correct and liberal notions on religion. The early Christians were themselves accused of obstinacy, and this even by the enlightened Pliny. He tells us, that they would not use wine and frankincense before the statues of the emperors; and that there was no question, that for such obstinacy they deserved punishment. In judging of this trait, two questions will arise : First, Whether the members of this Society, in adhering rigidly to those singularities which have produced it, are really wrong as a body of Christians? And Secondly, Whether they do not conscientiously believe themselves to be right? In the case of the early Christians, which has been mentioned, we who live at this day, have no doubt, that Pliny put a false estimation on their character. We believe them to have done their duty, and we believe also that they considered themselves as doing it, when they refused Divine honours to the emperors. The action, therefore, which Pliny denominated obstinacy, would, if it had been left to us to name it, have been called inflexible virtue, as arising out of a sense of the obligation imposed upon them by the Christian religion. In the same manner we may argue
with respect to the Quakers.”— Vol. iii. p. 248. But this candid writer, in an earlier page, has himself given the best explanation of their motives :—and may such motives and such line of conduct ever continue to prevail individually in their hearts, and collectively in their assemblies ! “ It has been,” says he, “an established rule with them, from the formation of the Society, not to temporise, or to violate their consciences ; or, in other words, not to do that which, as a body of Christians, they believe to be wrong, though the usages of the world, or the government of the country under which they live, should require it; but rather to submit to the frowns and indignation of the one, and the legal penalties annexed to their disobedience by the other. This suffering, in preference to the violation of their consciences, is what they call the bearing of their testimony,' or a demonstration to the world by the testimony of their own example, they consider it to be the duty of Christians rather to suffer, than have any concern with that which they conceive to be evil. The Quakers, in putting this principle into practice, stand, I believe, alone; for I know of no other Christians, (unless it be the Moravians,) who, as a body, pay this homage to their scruples, or who determine upon an ordeal of suffering, in preference to a compromise with their ease and safety.” “ This noble practice of bearing testimony, by which a few individuals attempt to stem the torrent of immorality by opposing themselves to its stream, and which may be considered as a living martyrdom, does, in a moral point of view, a great deal of good to those who conscientiously adopt it. It recalls first principles to their minds. It keeps in their remembrance the religious rights of man. It teaches them to reason upon principle, and to make their estimates by a moral standard. It is productive both of patience and of courage. It occasions them to be kind, and attentive, and merciful to those who are persecuted and oppressed. It throws them into the presence of the Divinity, when they are persecuted themselves. In short, it warms their moral feelings, and elevates their religious thoughts. Like oil it keeps them from rusting. Like a whet-stone, it gives them a new edge. Take away this practice from the constitution of the members of this Society, and you pull down