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shall College, I have given you a few plain and practical ideas upon the appropriate education, and the peculiar duties and responsibilities, of professional men in America. I have shown you that they occupy a station more commanding and influential than any other class. On them devolves the power widely to bless, to adorn and elevate society, or as widely to wrong, corrupt, and degrade it. Whatever may be the course that others may take, you, I hope, will always be found on the side of sound morality, thorough education, and pure patriotism; and in whatever profession you may be called to serve your country, I trust that you will never forget the academic shades in which you have been nurtured, nor lose the conviction that you are bound by your early vows, to add the accomplishments of the scholar to the solid virtues of the Christian, the citizen, and the man.
RISE AND PRINCIPLES OF THE SOCIETY OF FRIENDS.*
The time is coming, it is to be hoped, when a more philosophical, as well as a more just and charitable view will be taken, of the causes and consequences of the different sects which, from time to time, have sprung up in the Christian church. They are too often considered as heresies, that is, divisions arising from a bad and perverse spirit, and not the results aimed at by honest minds, earnestly and fearlessly seeking for truth. It is a much more charitable, and, we believe, a truer view to take of them, to consider them as the consequence of the comprehensive nature of truth, and the limited capacities of the human intellect, together with the almost endless relations of Christian duty, and the consequent failure of any one man, or any class of men, to arrive at, or express the fulness and perfection of the Christian character. Minds arise, from time to time, of deeper penetration and wider grasp
* An essay written and published 1843.
RISE AND PRINCIPLES OF THE FRIENDS.
than is conferred upon the general mass of mankind;—these discover, what has escaped the observation of their predecessors and cotemporaries, that the different parts of the Christian system have not been proportionally developed. Some truths having been made prominent, whilst others perhaps have been altogether overlooked. Some parts of the Christian life have been too much insisted on, while others have been totally neglected. Or corruptions in doctrine and abuses in practice have crept, unawares, into the Christian world, which, through the force of habit, no one perceives, any more than those who, accustomed from birth to breathe an infected atmosphere or noxious vapors by which they are surrounded, are sensible of the condition of the air around them. An honest and fearless mind, which has discovered some doctrine exaggerated or perverted, or some principle overlooked-some minor duty made too conspicuous, while others more important are altogether neglected or despised, feels called upon to remonstrate,-to testify against error and abuse, and to endeavor to bring about a better state of things. But he necessarily meets with opposition, for he can not at once bring all to see things in the same light that he does. Yet if he be active and persevering, and there be intrinsic value in his discovery, he naturally persuades many to coincide with him in
opinion. These associate together and attempt to carry out what they consider reform. They make the doctrine, or the principle, or the practice on which they have set their minds and hearts, prominent in their new association, they get some new name, generally given them by their opponents in derision, and commence a distinct and separate existence, and so a new sect is born into the world. They, however, share in the same weakness which they endeavor to correct in others, and commit, perhaps, some of the same mistakes with those whose faults they are sincerely endeavoring to remedy. Instead of carefully discriminating between the good and the evil of the systems they are endeavoring to amend, they suffer the evil, by association, to prejudice them against the good, and therefore neglect to incorporate the good into their new system; and thus it comes that reform is not always an improvement. Some things are made better, but perhaps other things are made worse.
An important point, however, may have been secured--a new phasis of Christian truth inay have been exhibited, and a new and fresh development of the Christian character and life displayed. Thus we perceive, that it takes various and even apparently conflicting elements, to discover and develop all the great truths of the Gospel, and to exhibit all the graces
and perfections of the Christian character. Thus the Christian world are exploring, some in one way and some in another, the length and the breadth, the height and depth of the vast and glorious treasures which are brought to light by the Gospel, and bringing them to bear on the whole surface of human life, and on every relation that is sustained by the human race, in the present world.
The principles we have here laid down are, as it seems to us, strikingly exemplified in the history of the Friends, or people called Quakers. The existence of this sect has exerted and still continues to exercise a more important influence, we believe, than is generally attributed to it by superficial observers. Its peculiarities are not mere oddities, adopted in caprice, and persevered in from obstinacy.
They are the representatives of great principles, deemed vital by those who founded the sect. They were solemn testimonies against what seemed to those virtuous and sincere hearted individuals great errors and great abuses in the Christian church. The peculiarities of the Quakers, therefore, have an intrinsic respectability. They have their basis, as few things human have, in principle. They were a solemn protest against the corruptions of the Christian world, in the age in which they, originated, and the honest expression of deep