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A Portraiture of Quakerism, Volume 1 by Clarkson

To be called Rabbi Rabbi of men


independently of these moral considerations, they rejected these titles, because they believed, that Jesus Christ had set them an example by his own declarations and conduct on a certain occasion. When a person addressed him by the name of good master, he was rebuked as having done an improper thing. [40] "Why, says our Saviour, callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is God." This censure they believe to have been passed upon him, because Jesus Christ knew, that when he addressed him by this title, he addressed him, not in his divine nature or capacity, but only as a man.

[Footnote 40: Matt. xix. 17.]

But Jesus Christ not only refused to receive such titles of distinction himself in his human nature, but on another occasion exhorted his followers to shun them also. They were not to be like the Scribes and Pharisees, who wished for high and eminent distinctions, that is, to be called Rabbi Rabbi of men; but says he, "be[41] ye not called Rabbi, for one is your master, even Christ, and all ye are brethren;" and he makes the desire which he discovered in the Jews, of seeking after worldly instead of heavenly honours, to be one cause of their infidelity towards Christ,[42] for that such could not believe, as received honour from one another, and sought not the honour, which cometh from God only; that is, that those persons, who courted earthly honours, could not have that humility of mind, that spirit

that was to be of no reputation in the world, which was essential to those, who wished to become the followers of Christ.

[Footnote 41: Matt xxiii. 8.]

[Footnote 42: John. v. 44.]

These considerations, both those of a moral nature, and those of the example of Jesus Christ, weighed so much with the early Quakers, that they made no exceptions even in favour of those of royal dignity, or of the rulers of their own land. George Fox wrote several letters to great men. He wrote twice to the king of Poland, three or four tunes to Oliver Cromwell, and several times to Charles the second; but he addressed them in no other manner man by their plain names, or by simple titles, expressive of their situations as rulers or kings.[43]

[Footnote 43: The Quakers never refuse the legal titles in the superscription or direction of their letter. They would direct to the king, as king: to a peer according to his rank, either as a duke, marquis, earl, viscount, or baron: to a clergyman, not as reverend, but as clerk.]

These several alterations, which took place in the language of the early Quakers, were adopted by their several successors, and are in force in the society at the present day.


_Other alterations in the language--the names of the days and months altered--reasons for this change--the word saint disused--various new phrases introduced_.

Another alteration, which took place in the language of the Quakers was the disuse of the common names of the days of the week, and of those of the months of the year.

The names of the days were considered to be of heathen origin. Sunday had been so called by the Saxons, because it was the day, on which they sacrificed to the sun. Monday on which they sacrificed to the moon. Tuesday to the god Tuisco. Wednesday to the god Woden. Thursday to the god Thor, and so on. Now when the Quakers considered that Jehovah had forbidden the Israelites to make mention even of the names of other gods, they thought it inconsistent in Christians to continue to use the names of heathen idols for the common divisions of their time, so that these names must be almost always in their mouths. They thought too, that they were paying a homage, in continuing the use of them, that bordered on idolatry. They considered also as neither Monday, nor Tuesday, nor any other of these days, were days, in which these sacrifices were now offered, they were using words, which conveyed false notions of things. Hence they determined upon the disuse of these words, and to put other names in their stead. The numerical way of naming the days seemed to them to be the most rational, and the most innocent. They called therefore Sunday the first day, Monday the second, Tuesday the third, and soon to Saturday, which was of course the seventh. They used no other names but these, either in their conversation, or in their letters.

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