Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

by natural love, principally aiming at his son's temporal honour; he, guided by a diyine impulse, having chiefly in view his own eternal welfare : his father grieved to see the well accomplished son of his hopes, now ripe for worldly promotion, voluntarily turning his back upon it; he, no less afflicted to think a compliance with his earthly father's pleasures was inconsistent with his obedience to his heavenly one: his father pressing his conformity to the customs and fashions of the țimes; he, modestly craving leave to refrain from what would hurt his conscience: his father earnestly entreating him, and almost on his knees beseeching him, to yield to his desire ; he, of a loying and tender disposition, in an extreme agony of spirit to behold his father's concern and trouble: his father threatening to disinherit him; he, humbly submitting to his father's will therein: his father turning his back on him in anger ; he, lifting up his heart to God for strength to support him in that time of

frial.”

This interview, though some of the best feelings of the human mind were called forth in the course of it on the part of William,

had

had not the desired effect : for the die was then cast; he had actually become Quaker. The Admiral, after this, gave up all thought of altering the general views of his son. He hoped only to be able to prevail upon him to give up certain peculiarities which appeared to have little to do with conscience, and to be used merely as the distinguishing marks of a sect. He therefore told his son, that he would trouble him no more on the subject of his conversion, if he would only consent to sit with his hat off in his own presence, and in that of the King and the Duke of York. William, on receiving the proposition, desired time to consider of it. This agitated his father, He had no conception that the subject of his solicitation required thought. He became immediately suspicious, and told his son, that he had only asked for time, that he might consult his friends, the Quakers. William assured his father that he would do no such thing ; and having pledged his word to this effect, he left him, and retired to his own chamber.

It will be asked by some, what necessity there could be, in a matter apparently so trivial, to retire either for serious meditation

of

or for divine help? The answer can be furnished only by representing 'what were the notions of the Quakers on this subject at the time in question. I may observe then, that, when they were first gathered out of the world, they considered themselves as a select people, upon whom it devolved to bear their public testimony by abandoning all those fashions and customs belonging to it, which either corrupted or had a tendency to corrupt the mind. Among others they discarded what may be called the ceremonial use of the hat, such as the pulling it off on complimentary occasions. This they did in particular for the following reasons. First, they took it for granted that the use of the hat in the way described was either to show honour, respect, submission, or some similar feeling of the mind; but they contended, that, used as it then was, it was no more a criterion of these than mourning garments were crirerions of sorrow. The custom therefore, in their opinion, led to repeated acts of insin, cerity. A show was held out of the inind's intention where no such intention existed. Now Christianity was never satisfied but with the truth. It forbad all false appearances.

It allowed no action to be resorted to, that was not correspondent with the feelings of the heart. Secondly, in the case where the custom was intended to have a meaning, it was generally the sign of flattery. But no man could give way to flattery without degrading himself, and at the same time unduly exalting the person whom he distinguished by it. Hence they gave to the custom the name of Hat-worship, a name which it bears among them at the present day. Thirdly, it was the practice of their ministers, a practice enjoined by the apostle Paul, to uncover their heads, that is, to pull off their hats, both when they preached and prayed. But if they took off their hats as an outward act enjoined in the service of God, neither they nor their followers could with propriety take them off to men, because they would be thus giving to the creature the same outward honour which they gave to the Creator. From this account it will be obvious, that the ceremonial use of the hat was considered by the early Quakers as more connected with the conscience than the Admiral had imagined it to be: and in this point of view it was considered by his son also; for he looked upon

upon the request of his father as neithet more nor less than a call upon him to pull down one of the human barriers which he had but just erected in defence of his own virtue. This thought produced in him an · awful feeling ; for, if one of these barriers were destroyed, the citadel itself would be less safe. He conceived that if an inroad; however small, were once suffered to be made on principle, other inroads would be come more easy. If the mind gave way but to one deviation from what was right; it would more easily give way to others; for, as in no instance it could do so without losing a portion of its virtue, so, this portion being lost, its powers of resistance would be weakened. Under this impression, conjoined with the circumstance of his father's application, he experienced a severe conflict. He loved his father, and respected him; yet he dared not do that which he conceived would obstruct his religious growth. He was sensible of the duty which he owed him as a parent; but he was equally sensible) of a superior duty to God, to whom ultimately he was responsible. Yielding at length to these considerations, be found

himself

« ZurückWeiter »