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A Portraiture of Quakerism Volume Iii Part 4

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I believe it will be allowed, that the Quaker instances, mentioned in the last section, are in point. But I am aware also, it will be said that, though different cabinets, all having the same Christian disposition, would settle their disputes in a friendly manner, how would a cabinet, consisting of spiritually minded men, settle with a cabinet of other men, who had not brought their pa.s.sions under due regulation, and who, besides, had no notion of the unlawfulness of war.

I apprehend that it will not be denied, that men, as ferocious as any recorded in history, were those, who were found in America, when that continent was discovered. We hear nothing of Africans, or of Asiatics, which would induce us to suppose, that they were as wild and as barbarous as these. And nothing is more true of these, than they, were frequently concerned in wars. I shall therefore take these for an example, and I shall shew by the opposite conduct of two different communities towards them, that it rests with men to live peaceably or not, as they cultivate the disposition to do it, or as they follow the policy of the Gospel in preference of the policy of the world.

When the English, Dutch, and others, began to people America, they purchased land of the natives. But when they went to that continent, notwithstanding there were amiable persons among them, and friends to civil and religious liberty, they went with the notions of worldly policy, and they did not take with them the Christian wisdom of the unlawfulness of war. They acted on the system of preparation, because there might be danger. They never settled without palisadoes and a fort.

They kept their nightly watches, though unmolested. They were, in short, in the midst of war, though no injury had been offered them by the natives, and though professedly in the midst of peace.

In the peopling of Connecticut, for I must begin with some one state, it was ordered at an English court,[16] "holden at Dorchester, on the seventh day of June, 1736, that every town should keep a watch, and be well supplied with ammunition. The constables were directed to warn the watches in their turns, and to make it their care, that they should be kept according to the direction of the court. They were required also to take care that the inhabitants were well furnished with arms and ammunition, and kept in a constant state of defence." As these infant settlements, the author observes, "were filled and surrounded with numerous savages, the people conceived themselves in danger, when they lay down, and when they rose up, when they went out, and when they came in. Their circ.u.mstances were such, that it was judged necessary for every man to be a soldier."



[Footnote 16: Trumbull's History of Connecticut, p. 56.]

I find from this author, looking farther into his history, that previously to the order of the court at Dorchester, which did nothing more than enjoin a more strict execution of the original plan, which was that of military preparation and defence, some of the settlers had been killed by the natives. The provocation which the natives received, is not mentioned. But it was probably provocation enough to savage Indians, to see people settle in their country with all the signs and symptoms of war. Was such a system likely to have any other effect than that of exciting their jealousy? They could see that these settlers had at least no objection to the use of arms. They could see that these arms could never be intended but against other persons, and there were no other persons there but themselves. Judging therefore by outward circ.u.mstances, they could draw no inference of a peaceable disposition in their new neighbours. War soon followed. The Pequots were attacked.

Prisoners were made on both sides. The Indians treated those settlers barbarously, who fell into their hands, for they did not see, on the capture of their own countrymen, any better usage on the part of the settlers themselves; for these settlers, again, had not the wisdom to use the policy of the Gospel, but preferred the policy of the world.[17]

"Though the first planters of New-England and Connecticut, says the same author, were men of eminent piety and strict morals, yet, like other good men, they were subject to misconception, and the influence of pa.s.sion. Their beheading sachems whom they took in war, killing the male captives, and enslaving the women and children, was treating them with a severity, which, on the benevolent principles of Christianity, it will be difficult to justify."

[Footnote 17: P. 112.]

After this treatment, war followed war. And as other settlements were made by others in other states on the same principles, war fell to their portion likewise. And the whole history of the settlement of America, where these principles were followed, or where the policy of the world was adopted, is full of the wars between the settlers and the Indians, which have continued more or less, and this nearly up to the present day.

But widely different was the situation of the settlers under William Penn. When he and his fellow Quakers went to this continent, they went with the principles of Christian wisdom, or they adopted the policy of the Gospel instead of the policy of the world. They had to deal with the same savage Indians as the other settlers. They had the same fury to guard against, and were in a situation much more exposed to attack, and of course much more creative of alarm; for they had neither sword nor musket, nor pallisadoe, nor fort. They judged it neither necessary to watch, nor to be provided with ammunition, nor to become soldiers. They spoke the language of peace to the natives, and they proved the sincerity of their language by their continuance in a defenceless condition. They held out also, that all wars were unlawful, and that, whatever injuries were offered them, they would sooner bear them, than gratify the principle of revenge. It is quite needless to go farther into the system of this venerable founder of Pennsylvania. But it may be observed, that no Quaker settlers, when known to be such,[18] were killed, and, whatever attacks were made upon the possessors of land in their neighbourhood, none were ever made upon those who settled on the lands purchased by William Penn.

[Footnote 18: "The Indians shot him who had the gun, says Storey in his Journal, and when they knew the young man they killed was a Quaker, they seemed sorry for it, but blamed him for carrying a gun. For they knew the Quakers would not fight, or do them any harm, and therefore, by carrying a gun, they took him for an enemy." This instance, which was in after times, confirms still more strongly all that has been said on this subject. Quakers at this time occasionally armed themselves against the wild beasts of the country.]

It may not be improper to observe farther, that the harmonious intercourse between the Quakers and the Indians continues uninterrupted to the present day. In matters of great and public concern, of which I could mention instances, it has been usual with the Indians to send deputies to the Quakers for advice, and the former have even been prevailed upon by the latter to relinquish wars, which they had it in contemplation to undertake. It is usual also for some of these to send their children to the Quakers for education. And so great is the influence of the Quakers over some of these tribes, that many individuals belonging to them, and now living together, have been reclaimed from a savage life. These have laid aside the toilsome occupations of the chase. They raise horses, cattle, and sheep. They cultivate wheat and flax. They weave and spin. They have houses, barns, and saw-mills among them. They have schools also, and civilization is taking place of the grossest barbarism.

These facts, when contrasted, speak for themselves. A cabinet of Quaker ministers, acting upon the policy of the Gospel, has been seated in the heart of a savage and warlike nation, and peace has been kept with them for ever. A cabinet of other settlers, acting on the policy of the world, has been seated in the heart of nations of a similar description, and they have almost constantly, been embroiled in wars. If Christian policy has had its influence on Barbarians, it would be libellous to say, that it would not have its influence upon those who profess to be Christians. Let us then again, from the instances which have been now recited, deprecate the necessity of wars. Let us not think so meanly of the Christian religion, as that it does not forbid, nor so meanly of its power, as that it is not ante to prevent, their continuance. Let us not think, to the disgrace of our religion, that the human heart, under its influence, should be so retrogade, that the expected blessing of universal peace should be thought no improvement in our moral condition, or that our feelings under its influence should continue so impure, that, when it arrives, we should regard it not so much a blessing, as a cures. But let us, on the other hand, hope and believe, that, as an opposite and purer policy is acted upon, it will do good to our own natures, good to the peace and happiness of the world, and honour to the religion of the Gospel.

SECT. VIII

_Subject finally considered--Authors of wars generally justify their own as defensive--and state that, if any nation were to give up the practice of war, or to act on the policy of the Gospel, it would be overrun by others, which acted upon the policy of the world--Reason to believe, that such a nation would be held in veneration by others, and applied to by them for the settlement of their disputes--Sentiments of Bishop Butler in a supposed case--Case of Antoninus Pius--Conclusion._

Having now said all that I intended to say on the supposed necessity of wars, I shall for a short time direct the attention of the reader to two points, the only two, that I purpose to notice on this subject.

It is usually said, first, that the different powers, who go to war, give it out that their wars are defensive, or that they justify themselves on this principle.

I shall observe in reply to this, that it is frequently difficult to determine, where actual aggression begins. Even old aggressions, of long standing, have their bearings in these disputes. Not shall we find often any clue to a solution of the difficulty in the manifestoes of either party, for each makes his own case good in these; and if we were to decide on the merits of the question by the contents of these, we should often come to the conclusion, that both the parties were wrong. Thus, for instance, a notion may have been guilty of an offence to another. So far the cause of the other is a just one. But if the other should arm first, and this during an attempt at accommodation, it will be a question, whether it does not forfeit its pretensions to a just case, and whether both are not then to be considered as aggressors on the occasion?

When a nation avows its object in a war, and changes its object in the course of it, the presumption is, that such a nation has been the aggressor. And where any nation goes to war upon no other avowed principle, than that of the balance of power, such a nation, however right according to the policy of the world, is an aggressor according to the policy of the Gospel, because it proceeds upon the principle, that it is lawful to do evil, that good may come.

If a nation hires or employs the troops of another to fight for it, though it is not the aggressor in any war, yet it has the crime upon its head of making those aggressors, whom it employs.

But, generally speaking, few modern wars can be called defensive. A war, purely defensive, is that in which the inhabitants of a nation remain wholly at home to repel the attacks of another, and content themselves with sending protection to the settlements which belong to it. But few instance are recorded of such wars.

But if there be often a difficulty in discerning between aggressive and defensive wars, and if, moreover, there is reason to suppose, that most of the modern wars are aggressive, or that both patties become aggressors in the course of the dispute, it becomes the rulers of nations to pause, and to examine their own consciences with fear and trembling, before they allow the Sword to bedrawn, lest a dreadful responsibility should fall upon their heads for all the destruction of happiness, all the havoc of life, and all the slaughter of morals that may ensue.

It is said, secondly, that if any nation were publicly to determine to relinquish the practice if war, or to act on the policy of the Gospel, it would be overrun by other nations which might act on the policy of the world.

This argument is neither more nor less than that of the Pagan Celsus, who said in the second century, that, if the rest of the Roman empire were Christians, it would be overrun by the Barbarians.

Independently of the protection, which such a nation might count upon from the moral Governor of the world, let us enquire, upon rational principles, what would be likely to be its fate.

Armies, we know, are kept up by one nation, princ.i.p.ally because they are kept up by another.

And in proportion as one rival nation adds to its standing armies, it is thought by the other to be consistent with the policy of the world to do the same. But if one nation were to decline keeping any armies at all, where would be the violence, to reason to suppose, that the other would follow the example? Who would not be glad to get rid of the expence of keeping them, if they could do it with safety? Nor is it likely, that any powerful nation, professing to relinquish war, would experience the calamities of it. Its care to avoid provocation would be so great, and its language would be so temperate, and reasonable, and just, and conciliatory, in the case of any dispute which might arise, that it could hardly fail of obtaining an accommodation. And the probability is, that such a nation would grow so high in esteem with other nations, that they would have recourse to it in their disputes with one another, and would abide by its decision. "Add the general influence, says the great Bishop Butler in his a.n.a.logy, which each a kingdom would have over the face of the earth, by way of example particularly, and the reverence which would be paid to it. It would plainly be superior to all others, and the world must gradually come under its empire, not by means of lawless violence, but partly by what must be allowed to be just conquest, and partly by other kingdoms submitting themselves voluntarily to it, throughout a course of ages, and claiming its protection one after another in successive exigencies. The head of it would be an universal monarch in another sense than any other mortal has yet been, and the eastern style would be literally applicable to him, "that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him." Now Bishop Butler supposes this would be the effect, where the individuals of a nation were perfectly virtuous. But I ask much less for my hypothesis. I only ask that the ruling members of the cabinet of any great nation (and perhaps these would only amount to three or four) should consist of real Christians, or of such men as would implicitly follow the policy of the Gospel, and I believe the result would be as I have described it.

Nor indeed are we without instances of the kind. The goodness of the emperor Antoninus Pius was so great, that he was said to have outdone all example. He had no war in the course of a long reign of twenty-four years, so that he was compared to Numa. And nothing is more true, than that princes referred their controversies to his decision.

Nor most I forget again to bring to the notice of the reader the instance, though on a smaller scale, of the colonists and descendants of William Penn. The Quakers have uniformly conducted themselves towards the Indians in such a manner, as to have given them from their earliest intercourse, an exulted idea of their character. And the consequence is, as I stated in a former section, that the former, in affairs of importance, are consulted by the latter at the present day. But why, if the cabinet of any one powerful nation were to act upon the n.o.ble principle of relinquishing war, should we think the other cabinets so lost to good feelings, as not to respect its virtue? Let us instantly abandon this thought; for the supposition of a contrary sentiment would make them worse than the savages I have mentioned.

Let us then cherish the fond hope, that human animosities are not to be eternal, and that man is not always to be made a tiger to man. Let us hope that the government of some one nation (and when we consider the vast power of the British empire, the nature of its const.i.tution and religion, and the general humanity of its inhabitants, none would be better qualified than our own) will set the example of the total dereliction of wars. And let us, in all our respective situations, precede the antic.i.p.ated blessing, by holding out the necessity of the subjugation of the pa.s.sions, and by inculcating the doctrine of universal benevolence to man, so that when we look upon the beautiful islands, which lie scattered as so many ornaments of the ocean, we may wish their several inhabitants no greater injury than the violence of their own waves; or that, when we view continents at a distance from us, we may consider them as inhabited by our brothers; or that when we contemplate the ocean itself, which may separate them from our sight, we may consider it, not as separating our love, but as intended by Providence to be the means of a quicker intercourse for the exchange of reciprocal blessings.

CHAP. IV.

SECT. 1.

_Fourth tenet is on the subject of a pecuniary maintenance of a Gospel ministry--Example and precepts of Jesus Christ--Also of Paul and Peter--Conclusions from these premises--These conclusions supported by the primitive practice--Great tenet resulting from these conclusions, and this primitive practice is, that the Quakers hold it unlawful to pay their own ministers, and also others of any other denomination, for their Gospel labours._

The fourth and last tenet of the Quakers is on the subject of the unlawfulness of a pecuniary maintenance of a Gospel ministry.

In explaining this tenet, I am aware that I am treading upon delicate ground. The great majority of Christians have determined, that the spiritual labourer is worthy of his hire; that if men relinquish the usual occupations by which a livelihood is obtained, in order that they may devote themselves to the service of religion, they are ent.i.tled to a pecuniary maintenance; and that, if they produce a rich harvest from what they sow, they are of all men, considering their usefulness to man to be greater in this than in any other service they can render him, the most worthy of encouragement and support. I am aware also of the possibility of giving offence to some in the course of the explanation of this tenet. To these I can only say, that I have no intention of hurting the feelings of any; that in the church there are those whom I esteem and love, and whom of all others I should be sorry to offend. But it must be obvious to these, and indeed to all, that it is impossible for me, in writing a history of the manners and opinions of the Quakers, to pa.s.s over in silence the tenet that is now before me; and if I notice it, they must be sensible, that it becomes me to state fully and fairly all the arguments which the Quakers give for the difference of opinion, which they manifest from the rest of their fellow-citizens, on this subject.

It does not appear then, the Quakers say, by any records that can be produced, that Jesus Christ ever received any payment for the doctrines which he taught, neither does it appear, as far as his own instructions, which are recorded by the Evangelists, can be collected on this subject, that he considered any pecuniary stipend as necessary or proper for those who were to a.s.sist in the promotion of his religion.

Jesus Christ, on the erection of his Gospel ministry, gave rules to his disciples, how they were to conduct themselves in the case before us. He enjoined the twelve, before he sent them on this errand, as we collect from St. Matthew and St. Luke, that,[19] "as they had received freely, so they were to give freely; that they were to provide neither gold, nor silver, nor bra.s.s in their purses, nor scrip, nor other things for their journey; for that the workman was worthy of his meat." And, on their return from their mission, he asked them,[20] "When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye any thing? And they said, nothing. Then said he unto them, but now he that hath a purse let him take it, and likewise his scrip."

[Footnote 19: Matt x. 8. Luke ix. 1.]

[Footnote 20: Luke xxii. 35.]

In a little time afterwards, Jesus Christ sent out other seventy as disciples, to whom he gave instructions similar to the former, that they should not take scrip, clothes, and money with them. But to these he said additionally, that[21] "wheresoever they were received, they were to eat such things as were given them; but where they were not received, they were to go their way, and say, even the dust of your city, which cleaveth on us, we do wipe off against you." And as on that occasion he compared the ministers of his Gospel to the labourers, whom a man sends to the harvest, he told them they were at liberty to eat what was set before them, because the labourer was worthy of his hire.

[Footnote 21: Luke x.]

This the Quakers conceive to be the substance of all that Jesus Christ taught upon this subject. They go therefore next to St. Paul for a farther elucidation of it.

They are of opinion, that St. Paul, in his Epistle to[22] Timothy, and to the Corinthians, and Galatians, acknowledges the position, that the spiritual labourer is worthy of his hire.

[Footnote 22: 1 Cor. ix.--1 Tim. v.--Gal. vi.]

The same Apostle, however, says, "that[23] if any would not work, neither should he eat." From this text the Quakers draw two conclusions, first, that when ministers of the Gospel are idle, they are not ent.i.tled to bodily sustenance; and, secondly, that those only, who receive them, are expected to support them. The same Apostle says also,[24] "Let him that is taught in the word, communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things," but he nowhere says, "to him that teacheth not."

[Footnote 23: 2 Thes. iii. 10.]

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