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VOL. XI. PART I.
ART. I.- A Journal, or Historical Account of the Life, Travels,
Sufferings, Christian Experience, and Labour of Love, in the work of the Ministry, of that ancient, eminent, and faithful Servant of Jesus Christ, George Fox. Third Edition. London, 1765.
The progress of human opinion, the knowledge of human nature, the weakness to which we may be reduced, and the strength of which we are capable, are the great lessons taught by history to all mankind. Not, indeed, history in its more limited meaning; as the record of events, measured not by the depth of the sources whence they sprang, the permanence of their causes, the universality of the principle, but their magnitude in the world's eye; not history, the manual for warriors, statesmen, legislators, negotiators, and others who ride in triumph on the shoulders of the world, on the neck of crowned Fortune,” to uphold their dignity, and secure their power; but the history of the human mind; the recorded facts that lay bare its powers and its passions, its hopes and its delusions ; where every man may read, and has an interest in the record, and whence every man should rise the wiser and the better. To the great mass of mankind, the history of one single error, one delusion, to which the human mind was long subject, and from which it is now emancipated, and has forgotten, is of more value, than all the battles, intrigues, and negotiations, since courts and courtiers have had being. So it seems to us; but this, perhaps, is one of those very delusions, where
desire beguiles and cheats us into belief; for it is, certainly, an opinion that gives more than the admitted importance to our present labour, which is, to bring before our readers, the life and opinions of as extraordinary a man, as visionary a dreamer, as mad an enthusiast, and as honest a man, as ever played a part in the great human drama.
Of course it needs no preface to inform the reader that George Fox, the writer of this Journal, called by the famous Penn, “ Annals of the man of God,” was, in the language of his followers, “a chosen vessel through whom the eternal, wise, and good God was pleased, in bis infinite love, to honour and visit this benighted and bewildered nation, with his chosen day-spring from on high”-or, as the irreverend would say, was founder of the sect of Quakers.
As, with all our love of toleration, we cannot extend the principle so far as to give to nonsense a license and privilege from exposure, we hold it well to premise that nothing we may hereafter say, is meant to apply to the Quakers of the present day. They are a quiet, orderly, peaceable, self-satisfied, browncoated, broad-beavered generation, and have little, except their abstract principles, in common with the unquiet, disorderly, self-dissatisfied, buckskin-breeched, and buckskin-coated, booted, and spurred founder of their sect. They have, indeed, no more to do with his follies and extravagance, than his virtues and his sufferings. The present generation are as little likely to be found annoying and persecuting other people with their opinions, as they are to be found in jail for resisting tythes, or not resisting the influence of the spirit. The Quakers, indeed, as they had the disadvantage of the world's opinion in the beginning, have the advantage of it now ;-their virtues are all of that worldly character, which the world well knows how to estimate;--they are honest, sober, civil, and industrious, virtues, by which the world and the individual are equally benefited ; and benefit is the
very sensible measure by which the world forms its judgment, and the Quakers too; that “honesty is the best policy,” is a proverb, and the best that can be said of the Quakers, is that they know it; so far from trusting themselves to the direction, or misdirection, of the spirit, they never trust themselves to any one single impulse of their nature; they never diverge, right or left, from the common, beaten, bigh-way of established usage; they are just such men, " and women too,” as in the progress of improvement, and the consummation of machinery, will some day or other, we expect, be manufactured by steam engines. They are, in fact, as opposite to the founder of their seci, as the spirit of Quixotism is to that of Quietism. Thus much, by way of preface; now to the immediate subject of this article.