« 上一頁繼續 »
and told the people this was the scriptures. Now the Lord's power was so mighty upon me, and so strong in me, that I could not hold ; but was made to cry out, 'Oh, no! it is not the Scriptures, it is the spirit.””
This principle contained a moral revolution. If it flattered self-love and fed enthusiasm, it also established absolute freedom of mind, trod every idolatry under foot; and entered the strongest protest against the forms of a hierarchy. It was the principle for which Socrates died and Plato suffered ; and now that Fox went forth to proclaim it among the people, he was every where resisted with angry vehemence, and priests and professors, magistrates and people, swelled like the raging waves of the sea. At the Lancaster sessions forty priests appeared against him at once. To the ambitious Presbyterians, it seemed as if hell were broke loose ; and Fox, imprisoned and threatened with the gallows, still rebuked their bitterness as "exceeding rude and devilish,” resisting and overcoming pride with unbending stubbornness. Possessed of vast ideas which he could not trace to their origin, a mystery to himself, like Cromwell and so many others who have exercised vast influence on society, he believed himself the special ward of a favoring Providence, and his doctrine the spontaneous expression of irresistable, intuitive truth. Nothing could daunt his enthusiasm. Cast into jail among felons, he claimed of the public tribunals a release only to continue his exertions; and as he rode about the country, the seed of God sparkled about him like innumerable sparks of fire. If cruelly beaten, or set in the stocks, or ridiculed as mad, he still proclaimed the oracles of the voice within him, and rapidly gained adherents among the country people. If driven from the church he spoke in the open air; forced from the shelter of the humble alehouse, he slept without fear under a haystack, or watched among the furze. His fame increased; crowds gathered like flocks of pigeons, to hear him. His frame in prayer is described as the most awful, living, and reverent ever felt or seen; and his vigorous understanding, soon disciplined by clear convictions to natural dialectics, made him powerful in the public discussions to which he defied the world. A true witness, writing from knowledge, and not report, declares that by night and by day, by sea and by land, in every emergency of the nearest and most exercising nature, he was always in his place, and always a match for every service and occasion. By degrees “the hypocrites” feared to dispute with him ; and the simplicity of his principle found such ready entrance among the people, that the priests trembled and scud as he
drew near ; " so that it was a dreadful thing to them when it was told them, “The man in leathern breeches is come.'” The converts to his doctrine were chiefly among the
yeomanry; and Quakers were compared to the butterflies that live in felts. It is the boast of Barclay, that the simplicity of truth was restored by weak instruments, and Penn exults ihat the message came without suspicion of human wisdom. It was wonderful to witness the energy and the unity of mind and character which the strong perception of speculative truth imparted to the most illiterate mechanics; they delivered the oracles of conscience with fearless freedom and natural eloquence; and with happy and unconscious sagacity, spontaneously developed the system of moral truth, which, as they believed, existed as an incorruptible seed in every soul.
Every human being was embraced within the sphere of their benevolence. George Fox did not fail, by letter, to catechize Innocent XI. Ploughmen and milkmaids, becoming
itinerant preachers, sounded the alarm throughout the world, and appealed to the consciences of Puritans and Cavaliers, of the Pope and Grand Turk, of the negro and the savage. The plans of the Quakers designed no less than the establishment of a universal religion; their apostles made their way to Rome and Jerusalem, to New England and Egypt; and some were even moved to go towards China and Japan, and in search of the unknown realms of Prester John.
The rise of the people called Quakers is one of the memorable events in the history of man. It marks the moment when intellectual freedom was claimed unconditionally by the people as an inalienable birthright. To the masses in that age all reflection on politics, and morals, presented itself under a theological form. The Quaker doctrine is philosophy, summoned from the cloister, the college, and the saloon, and planted among the most despised of the people.
As poetry is older than critics, so philosophy is older than metaphysicians. The mysterious question of the purpose of our being is always before us and within us; and the little child, as it begins to prattle, makes inquiries which the pride of learning cannot solve. The method of the solution adopted by the Quakers was the natural consequence of the origin of their sect. The mind of George Fox had the highest systematic sagacity; and his doctrine, developed and rendered illustrious by Barclay and Penn, was distinguished by its simplicity and unity. The Quaker has but one word, THE INNER LIGHT, the voice of God in the soul. That light is as reality, and therefore in its freedom the highest revelation of truth ;
it has kindred with the Spirit of God, and therefore merits dominion as the guide to virtue; it shines in every man's breast, and therefore joins the whole human race in the unity of equal rights. Intellectual freedom, the supremacy of mind, universal enfranchisement—these three points include the whole of Quakerism, as far as it belongs to civil history.
Quakerism rests on the reality of the Inner Light, and its method of inquiry is absolute freedom applied to consciousness. The revelation of truth is immediate. It springs neither from tradition nor from the senses, but directly from the mind. No man comes to the knowledge of God but by the Spirit. “Each person,” says Penn, "knows God from an infallible demonstration in himself, and not on the slender grounds of men's lo here interpretations, or lo there.” “The instinct of a Deity is so natural to man, that he can no more be without it, and be, than he can be without the most essential part of himself.”
As the eye opens, light enters; and the mind, as it looks in upon itself, receives moral truth by intuition. Others have sought wisdom by consulting the outward world, and confounding consciousness with reflection, have trusted solely to the senses for the materials of thought; the Quaker, placing no dependence on the world of the senses, calls the soul home from its wanderings through the mazes of tradition and the wonders of the visible universe, bidding the vagrant sit down by its own fires to read the divine inscription on the heart. Some seek truth in books, some in learned men, but what they seek for is in themselves.” Man is an epitome of the world, and to be learned in it, we have only to read ourselves well."
THE PHRASE “SOVEREIGNTY OF THE PEOPLE,”
FROM BROWNSON'S BOSTON QUARTERLY REVIEW.
[ Mr. Brownson is commonly called a loco-foco, lately edited a
loco-foco paper, professes to be a democrat, and is therefore feared by many as an unsafe person. But in the following extract from a very interesting article on democracy, in the first No. of the Boston Review, he has given the best refutation, and the ablest exposure, of the fallacy contained in the common idea of the sovereignty of the people. ]
Democracy, in the sense we are now considering it, is sometimes asserted to be the sovereignty of the people. If this be a true account of it, it is indefensible. The sovereignty of the people is not a truth. Sovereignty is that which is highest, ultimate, which has not only the physical power to make itself obeyed, but the moral right to command whatever it pleases. The right to command involves the corresponding duty of obedience. What the sovereign may command, it is the duty of the subject to obey.
Are the people the highest ? Are they ultimate ? And are we bound in conscience to obey whatever it may be their good pleasure to ordain? If so, where is individual liberty? If so, the people, taken collectively, are the absolute master of every man taken individually. Every man, as a man, then, is an absolute slave. Whatever the people, in their collective capacity, may demand of him, he must feel himself bound in conscience to give. No matter how intolerant the burdens imposed, painful and needless the sacrifices required, he cannot refuse obedience without incurring the guilt of disloyalty ; and he must submit in quiet, in silence, without even the moral right to feel that he is wronged.
Now this, in theory at least, is absolutism. Whether it be a democracy, or any other form of government, if it be absolute, there is and there can be no individual liberty. Under a monarchy, the monarch is the state. “ L'Etat, c'est Moi, said Louis the fourteenth, and he expressed the whole monarchical theory. The state being absolute, and the monarch
being the state, the monarch has the right to command what he will, and exact obedience in the name of duty, loyalty. Hence absolutism, despotism. Under an aristocracy, the nobility are the state, and consequently, as the state is absolute, the nobility are also absolute. Whatever they command is binding. If they require the many to be “hewers of wood and drawers of water” to them, then “hewers of wood and drawers of water” to them the many must feel it their duty to be. Here, for the many, is absolutism as much as under a monarchy. Every body sees this.
Well, is it less so under a democracy, where the people, in their associated capacity, are held to be absolute ? ple are the state, and the state is absolute ; the people may therefore do whatever they please. Is not this freedom? Yes; for the state ; but what is it for the individual ? There are no kings, no nobilities, it is true; but the people may exercise all the power over the individual, that kings or nobilities may; and consequently, every man, taken singly, is, under a democracy, if the state be absolute, as much the slave of the state, as under the most absolute monarchy or aristocracy.
But this is not the end of the chapter. Under a democratic form of government, all questions which come up for the decision of authority, must be decided by a majority of voices. The sovereignty, which is asserted for the people, must, then, be transferred to the ruling majority. If the people are sovereign, then the majority are sovereign; and it sovereign, the majority have, as Miss Martineau lays it down, the absolute right to govern. If the majority have the absolute right to govern, it is the absolute duty of the minority to obey. We who chance to be in the minority are then completely disfranchised. We are wholly at the mercy of the majority. We hold our property, our wives and children, and our lives even, at its sovereign will and pleasure. It may do by us and ours as it pleases. If it take it into its head to make a new and arbitrary division of property, however unjust it may seem, we shall not only be impotent to resist, but we shall not even have the right of the wretched to complain. Conscience will be no shield. The authority of the absolute sovereign extends to spiritual matters, as well as to temporal. The creed the majority is pleased to impose, the minority must in all meekness and subrnission receive; and the form of religious worship the majority is good enough to prescribe, the minority must make it a matter of conscience to observe. Whatever has been done under the most absolute monarchy or the most lawless aristocracy, may be re-enacted under a pure democ