Images de page
PDF
ePub

the Mosaic Law. For this law, which was engraven on tables of stone, did not set aside the law that was engraven on the heart. It assisted first, outwardly, in turning men's minds to God; and secondly, in fitting them, as a schoolmaster, for attention to the internal impressions by his Spirit. That the Spirit of God was still the great teacher, the Quakers conceive to be plain, for the sacred writings from Moses to Malachi affirm it for a part of the period now assigned; and for the rest, they offer as evidence, the reproof of the martyr Stephen, and the sentences from the New Testament, quoted in the last chapter but one. And in the same manner as this Spirit had been given to some in a greater measure than to others, both before and after the Deluge, so the Quakers believe it to have been given more abundantly to Moses and the Prophets than to others of the same nation; for they believe that the Law in particular, and that the general writings of Moses, and those of the Prophets also, were of divine inspiration, or the productions of the Spirit of God.

With respect to the Heathens or Gentiles, which is the third case, the Quakers believe that

that God's Holy Spirit became a guide also to them, and furnished them, as it had done the Patriarchs and Jews, with a rule of practice. For even these, who had none of the advantages of Scripture or of a written divine Law, believed, many of them, in God; such as Orpheus, Hesiod, Thales, Pythagoras, Socrates, Plato, Cicero, and others. And of these it may be observed, that it was their general belief, as well as it was the belief of many others in those days, that there was a divine Light or Spirit in man, to enable him to direct himself aright.

Among the remnants that have been preserved of the sayings of Pythagoras, are the following, which relate to this subject: "Those things which are agreeable to God cannot be known, except a man hear God himself."--Again: "But, having overcome these things, thou shalt know the cohabitation or dwelling together of the immortal God and mortal men. This work is Life. The work of God is Immortality and Life."

"The most excellent thing," says Timæus, "that the soul is awakened to, is her Guide or good Genius; but if she be rebellious to it, it will prove her Dæmon or Tormentor."

"It was frequently said of Socrates, that he had the Guide of his life within him, which, it was told his father Sophroniscus, would be of more worth to him than five hundred masters. He called it his good angel or spirit; that it suggested to his mind what was good and virtuous, and inclined and disposed him to a strict and pious life; that it furnished him with divine knowledge, and impelled him very often to speak publicly to the people, sometimes in a way of severe reproof, at other times to information." Plato says, "The Light and Spirit of God are as wings to the soul, or as that which raiseth up the soul into a sensible communion with God above the world."

.

[ocr errors]

"I have," says Seneca, "a more clear and certain Light, by which I may judge the truth from falsehood. That which belongs to the happiness of the soul, the Eternal Mind will direct to." Again: "It is a foolish thing for thee to wish for that which thou canst not obtain. God is near thee, and he is in thee. The good Spirit sits or resides within us, the observer of our good and evil actions. As he is dealt with by us, he dealeth with us."

The

The Quakers produce these, and a multitude of other quotations which it is not necessary to repeat, to show that the same Spirit, which taught the Patriarchs before the Law, and the Jews after it, taught the Gentiles also. But this revelation or manifestation of the Spirit was not confined, in the opinion of the Quakers, to the Roman or Greek philosophers, or to those who had greater pretensions than common to human wisdom. They believe that no nation was' ever discovered, among those of antiquity, to have been so wild or ignorant, as not to have acknowledged a Divinity, or as not to have known and established a difference between good and evil.

Cicero "There is no country so says, barbarous, no one of all men so savage, as that some apprehension of the Gods hath not tinctured his mind. That many indeed," says he, "think corruptly of them must be admitted; but this is the effect of vicious custom. For all do believe that there is a Divine Power and Nature."

Maximus Tyriensis, a Platonic philosopher, and a man of considerable knowledge, observes, that " notwithstanding the great

contention

contention and variety of opinions, which have existed concerning the nature and essence of God, yet the law and reason of every country are harmonious in these respects; namely, that there is one God, the King and Father of all; and that the many are but the servants and co-rulers unto God: that in this the Greek and the barbarian, the islander and the inhabitant of the continent, the wise and the foolish, speak the same language. Go," says he, "to the utmost bounds of the ocean, and you find God there. But if there have been," says he," since the existence of time, two or three atheistical, vile, senseless individuals, whose eyes and ears deceive them, and who are maimed in their very soul, an irrational and barren species, as monstrous as a lion without courage, an ox without horns, or a bird without wings,—yet out of these you will be able to understand something of God. For they know and confess him, whether they will or not."

Plutarch says, that "if a man were to travel through the world, he might possibly find cities without walls, without letters, without kings, without wealth, without

schools,

« PrécédentContinuer »