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A Portraiture of Quakerism, Volume 1 by Clarkson

If the Quakers have religious scruples concerning them


[Footnote

54: Hobbesii Examen. et Emend. Hod. Math. P. 55. Edit. Amstel.]

It may be observed also on the language of the Quakers, that is, on that part of it, which relates to the alteration of the names of the months and days, that this alteration would form the most perfect model for an universal calendar of any that has yet appeared in the world. The French nation chose to alter their calendar, and, to make it useful to husbandry, they designated their months, so that they should be representatives of the different seasons of the year. They called them snowy, and windy, and harvest, and vintage-months, and the like. But in so large a territory, as that of France, these new designations were not the representatives of the truth. The northern and southern parts were not alike in their climate. Much less could these designations speak the truth for other parts of the world: whereas numerical appellations might be adopted with truth, and be attended with usefulness to all the nations of the world, who divided their time in the same manner.

On the latter subject of the names of the days and months, the alteration of which is considered as the most objectionable by the world, I shall only observe, that, if the Quakers have religious scruples concerning them, it is their duty to persevere in the disuse of them. Those of the world, on the other hand, who have no such scruples, are under no obligation to follow their example.

And in the same manner as the Quakers convert the disuse of these ancient terms to the improvement of their moral character, so those of the world may convert the use of them to a moral purpose. Man is a reasonable, and moral being, and capable of moral improvement; and this improvement may be made to proceed from apparently worthless causes. If we were to find crosses or other Roman-Catholic relics fixed in the walls of our places of worship, why should we displace them? Why should we not rather suffer them to remain, to put us in mind of the necessity of thankfulness for the reformation in our religion? If again we were to find an altar, which had been sacred to Moloc, but which had been turned into a stepping stone, to help the aged and infirm upon their horses, why should we destroy it? Might it not be made useful to our morality, as far as it could be made to excite sorrow for the past and gratitude for the present? And in the same manner might it not be edifying to retain the use of the ancient names of the days and months? Might not thankful feelings be excited in our hearts, that the crime of idolatry had ceased among us, and that the only remnant of it was a useful signature of the times? In fact, if it be the tendency of the corrupt part of our nature to render innocent things vicious, it is, on the other hand, in the essence of our nature, to render vicious things in process of time innocent; so that the remnants of idolatry and superstition may be made subservient to the moral improvement of mankind.

CHAP. IV.

_Address--all nations have used ceremonies of address--George Fox bears his testimony against those in use in his own times--sufferings of the Quakers on this account--makes no exception in favor of royalty--his dispute with Judge Glynn--modern Quakers follow his example--use no ceremonies even to majesty--various reasons for their disuse of them._

All nations have been in the habit of using outward gestures or ceremonies, as marks of affection, obeisance or respect. And these outward ceremonies have been different from one another, so much so, that those, which have been adjudged to be suitable emblems of certain affections or dispositions of the mind among one people, would have been considered as very improper emblems of the same, and would have been even thought ridiculous by another, yet all nations have supposed, that they employed the most rational modes for these purposes. And indeed, there were probably none of these outward gestures and ceremonies, which, in their beginning, would not have admitted of a reasonable defence while they continued to convey to the minds of those, who adopted them, the objects, for which they were intended, or while those, who used them, persevered with sincerity in their use, little or no objection could be made to them by the moralist. But as soon as the ends of their institution were lost, or they were used without any appropriate feeling of the heart, they became empty civilities, and little better than mockery or grimace.


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