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occasions, gave rise to the vulgar names of Michaelmas, Martinmas, Christmas, and the like.
“ Seeing, therefore, that these appellations and names of days, months, and times, are of an idolatrous or superstitious original, contrary to the Divine command--the practice of good and holy, men in former ages and repugnant to the Christian testimony borne by our faithful friends and predecessors in the Truth, for the sake of which they patiently endured many revilings; let neither the reproach of singularity, nor the specious reasonings of such as would evade the cross of Christ, turn you aside from the simplicity of the Gospel; nor discourage you from keeping to the language of Truth, in denominating the months and days according to the plain and scriptural way of expression: thereby following the example of our worthy elders, and coming up in a noble and honourable testimony against these, and all other remains of idolatry and superstition.
“ From the Meeting for Sufferings in London,
the sixth day of the seventh month, 1751."
OF SALUTATIONS AND RECREATIONS.
From the first rise of the Society to the present time, one uniform sentiment has prevailed in relation to Salutations and Recreations. About the commence. ment of the Christian Era, pride and presumption seem to have attained their very summit at Rome, then the mistress of the world, and the pattern of what the world denominated fashionable, elegant, or great. Sunk, too, in the depth of Pagan darkness, they did not hesitate to ascribe Divine honours to those individuals who attained to the pinnacle of power-inferior orders imitated the example, and followed behind, as near as they could venture to approach the highest characters. Only a few centuries passed over the Christian Church, before Constantine adopted the profession of Christianity, when, of course, the profession became fashionable among the higher orders of society. As many embraced it for the sake of fashion, as well as for other motives even worse, so fashion pervaded the manners of professed Christians.
The injunction of the apostle was now but little regarded : “ Be not conformed to this world ; but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind." Rom. xii. 2. On the contrary, that great empire, with all its grandeur, power, and policy, now asked admission into the visible Church-which, cheated by the smiles of power, stooped
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to the low degradation of admitting the applicant. A degradation indeed it was : for she ceased to be " the Bride, the Lamb's wife.” Rev. xxi. 9. She ceased to appear in that transcendent glory, described as, the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners.” Cant. vi. 10. And instead of this glory she took on herself the paltry trappings of an earthly empire, and added to these the pollutions of Pagan superstition.
Extravagant honours, from being paid to emperors and others possessed of power, by the prevalence of pride, became grateful to every inferior rank, and were freely bestowed on all. Hence the fashionable appellation of you, to a single person; it being thought, by minds infated with pride, to be too little to be regarded as a sins gle individual--the idea of plurality must be conveyed. Bowing, which had been practised in earlier times, was still recognized, and had the uncovering of the head, another act of worship, connected with it. From these corrupt sources, proceeded those salutations which make up the complimental intercourse of fashionable life.
And as they originated in pride, and other depraved passions of the human heart, so the Society of Friends believe they have a powerful tendency to become, reci. procally, both causes and effects; and have consequently laid them aside.
They believe there is no propriety in bowing the body, and uncovering the head, to any created beings; for worship belongs to God only. But if we are told, that in fashionable life, these actions have no such ina tention, we reply, that if they have become unmeaning, men of correct feelings ought neither to offer nor receive
them. If they are intended only to express civility and ordinary respect, we say, that these can be expressed in à more appropriate manner, than by degrading the outward acts of Divine worship, down to a mere expression of common civility, or even nothing at all. Every thing which relates to Divine worship, or that homage we pay to the Almighty, should be carefully guarded from being introduced into the familiar intercourse between man and man; lest, by the association of ideas, our worship itself become adulterated and offensive.
We believe that under the Gospel, we are bound to speak every man truth to his neighbour.' The expressions, mister, or master, and your most obedient, &c., your humble servant, &c., being in the common application untrue, we decline to use. The love and charity which the Gospel inspires, are above all complimental expressions, and need neither flattery nor falsehood to set them off to advantage.
However the censorious may charge the Society with singularity, and with attaching unreal consequence to little things, the history of early times affords abundant evidence that these compliments were not understood, at that day, as empty sounds. Often have men of high standing, and even some of an opposite class, been so enraged at not receiving these pitiful compliments, as to set no bounds to their resentment. Even the simple expression of thou, to one person, was considered an indignity not to be borne: and many have suffered severely, for no higher offence than the use of this simple and correct language.
The plain language, as we term it, or the use of the singular pronouns to a single person, has much to recommend it. In the first place, it is consonant to truth: for the plural pronoun does express a plurality of persons to whom it relates : hence we consider it a departure from truth, to address a single individual with a word that conveys an idea of more than one. We consider the plain language, too, as the language of the greatest and best of men that have ever lived, to one another and to God. And we think this authority ought to possess great weight. The rules of the language contribute something to the same effect. It must be admitted, that the beauty and precision of the language are greatly injured by the promiscuous use of the plural pronouns. But we shall be told that we do not use the
prom nouns grammatically. I admit the truth of the charge, and admit also that it is a great defect in our language. But this is a colloquial liberty taken-improperly so, I confess; yet it is not universal among the Society. So far as this grammatical error prevails, it destroys the beauty and dignity of our language, but it does not affect the principle. It does not touch the argument that rests on the truth of the expression, nor does it destroy the precision of the language. The idea it conveys is still in the singular number. It is not the false, flattering attempt to magnify one individual into a great many. The primary grounds for this deviation from the plural language, remain the same. I candidly acknowledge, however, that we ought to use the singular pronouns grammatically.
Those vain Amusements which have been denomi. nated Recreations, we consider beneath the dignity of the Christian character; and they frequently prove the inlet to much vice and corruption,