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Rise Of The Quaker In England

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OCR Text

The eariy halr of the seventeenth century iö Ëngland was one of the culminatixig opochs in its history. For nearly one .tiunared years a disintegration of society had en going on, kept in check only by stro.n8 bonds of t6pression; at Ia3t the bona were broken, the popular will took a pos.'ve 8naPe and blow af ter blow feil upon e social structure of the old, overthro.'ln8 '" and tearing it away to make plac or the new. The Society of Friends was a natura! outgrowth of thoae times. Taking its rise at the penod of general upheaval and dissolution of existing customs, religious, aocial, and political, holding in its doctrines principies similar to those f ormulated by the leaders of the period, but carrying them to f ar greater extremes, finding no prescribed check upon the free and unlicensed expression of its theories, it reached a bound of radicalism compared to which Puritanism itself was conservative, and which all r.laxspa comhined to ODDOse with an intense animosity that brought a ' deluge of persecution and abuse upon the devoted sect. The Puritans were willing to decapitate a king that stood in the way of the advancement of progress. They did not hesitate to tear down an existing religious institution, but even the most extreme Puritan never advocated sucli measures as the entire abolition of all clergy, the levelling of all classes, whether monarchial or aristocratie, into a universal brotherhood, or the undermining of all laws, whether national or civil, to make place f or a law of brotherly love that alone was to guide all mankind. But tuis virtually was what the new sect demanded. They were religious Nihilists. But, they maintained, man must prepare himself to be a fit agent to govern his own actions. He must depend upon the word of the Lord for gaidance, therefore he must open his heart to receive that word, and in such a way that the trnth shall not be distorted by the lusts of a carnal heart. To so prepare himself he must abjure all the -ïrtira rvP fhia wrtrlrl t.hafc pIka mierht tend to turn his heart toward it, and away from the world to come. He must live upon the aimplest food, and dress in the plainest garments. He must obey none of the mandates of the world, even in the smallest observances, for the ways uf the world were the ways of man, and not of God. Personal cleanliness and chastity must be observed, for, said they, if the outer man is unclean, how can the inner man be othervrise? Only to the man who had followed such a life as these principies pointed out could the word of the Lord come in all its strength and purity; but when it came to such a one it must be obeyed implicitly, no matter to what it directed. This was the doctrine of "inner light." Above all other institutions, the clergy, whether Episcopalian or Presbyterian, was most obnoxious to this sect. .... However, it wa3 not the clergy alone that were thus attacked, but all ofcher existing institutions of the time. Courts of law were entered, and justice such as they believed in demanded for the people. Legislators and those in power received Communications calling upon them to come down from the vanity of their place, and veil their stomachs in humility. Prominent offlcers of the army also were called upon to give up the ways of blood and wickedness, and live in peace with all man' kind. Of course persecution followed,.


Old News
Ann Arbor Democrat