Images de page

in the divine presence, and there silently to adore their Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier. For hereby they would become habitually recollected. Devotion would be their element; and they would know by experience, what our blessed Saviour and his great apostle meant, when they enjoin us to pray without ceasing. It was, I suppose, by some such method of devotion as I am now speaking of, that Enoch walked with God; that Moses saw him that is invisible; that the royal psalmist set the Lord always before him; and that our Lord Jesus himself continued whole nights in prayer to God. No man, I believe, will imagine this his prayer, during all the space in which it is said to have continued, was altogether vocal When he was in his agony in the garden, he used but a few words. His vocal prayer then consisted only of one petition, and an act of pure resignation thrice repeated. But I hope all will allow that his devotion lasted longer than while he was employed in the uttering of a few sentences."

These meetings then, which are usually denominated Silent, and in which, though not a word be spoken, it appears from the testimony

be truly

testimony of others that God may worshipped, the Quakers consider as an important and sublime part of their churchservice, and as possessing advantages which are not to be found in the worship which proceeds solely through the medium of the mouth.

For, in the first place, it must be obvious, that in these silent meetings men cannot become chargeable before God, either with hypocrisy or falsehood, by pretending to worship him with their lips, when their affections are far from him, or by uttering a language that is inconsistent with the feelings of the heart.

It must be obvious again, that every man's devotion, in these silent meetings, is made as it ought to be, to depend upon himself; for no man can work out the salvation of another for him. A man does not depend at these times on the words of a minister, or of any other person present; but his own soul, worked upon by the divine influence, pleads in silence with the Almighty its own And thus, by extending this idea to the congregation at large, we shall find a number of individuals offering up at the


same time their own several confessions, pouring out their own several petitions, giving their own thanks severally, or praising and adoring, all of them, in different languages adapted to their several conditions, and yet not interrupting one another.

Nor is it the least recommendation of this worship, in the opinion of the Quakers, that, being thus wholly spiritual, it is out of the power of the natural man to obstruct it. No man can break the chain, that thus binds the spirit of man to the Spirit of God; for this chain, which is spiritual, is invisible. But this is not the case, the Quakers say, with any oral worship. "For how," says Barclay, alluding to his own times, "can the Papists say their mass, if there be any there to disturb and interrupt them? Do but take away the mass-book, the chalice, the host, or the priests' garments; yea, do but spill the water, or the wine, or blow out the candles (a thing quickly to be done), and the whole business is marred, and no sacrifice can be offered. Take from the Lutherans and Episcopalians their liturgy, or common prayer-book, and no service can be said. Remove from the Calvinists, Arminians, Socinians,

Socinians, Independents, or Anabaptists, the pulpit, the bible, and the hour-glass, or make but such a noise as the voice of the preacher cannot be heard, or disturb him but so before he come, or strip him of his bible, or his books, and he must be dumb: for they all think it a heresy to wait to speak, as the Spirit of God giveth utterance; and thus easily their whole worship may be marred."


Quakers reject every thing ostentatious and spiritless from their worship-Ground on which their meeting-houses stand, not consecrated-the latter plain-Women sit apart from the men-no pews -nor priests' garments-nor psalmody-no one day thought more holy than another-but as public worship is necessary, days have been fixed upon for that purpose.

JESUS CHRIST, as he was sitting at Jacob's Well, and talking with the woman of Samaria, made use of the following among other expressions in his discourse. " Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye

[ocr errors]


shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in Spirit and in truth.

These expressions the Quakers generally render thus. I tell you that a new dispensation is at hand.

ship at Jerusalem,

Men will no longer wormore acceptably than in any other place. Neither will it be expected of them, that they shall worship in temples, like the temple there. Neither the glory, nor the ornaments of gold and silver, and precious stones, nor the splendid garments of the high priest, will be any parts of the new worship that is approaching. All ceremonies will be done away, and men's religion will be reduced simply to the worshipping of God in Spirit and in truth. In short, the Quakers believe, that when Jesus Christ came, he ended the temple, its ornaments, its music, its Levitical priesthood, its tithes, its new moons and sabbaths, and the various ceremonial ordinances that had been engrafted into the religion of the Jews.

The Quakers reject every thing that appears to them to be superstitious, or formal,

« PrécédentContinuer »