Samuel Allinson Explains Why Quakers Cannot Pay Taxes For War

During the American Revolution, the issue of taxes and the Quaker peace testimony was a complicated one. There were some who felt that to pay any taxes whatsoever to the rebel government was to acknowledge and legitimize rebellion and revolution. Others extended this to a refusal to use the rebel government’s currency.

On the other hand, some Quakers had no problem paying taxes to Congress, or selling goods and services to its army.

Possibly the most thorough look at the debate among American Quakers at this time is in an essay by Samuel Allinson that he did not have widely distributed at the time and hasn’t been republished since.

Thanks to someone on-line who has offered help on my Tax Resistance Reader project, I got my hands on a photocopy of the original manuscript. It’s hard to read in some places, but I was able to decipher the bulk of it. He starts by explaining the Quaker objection to war itself, and then gives his argument against paying war taxes:

Why we cannot pay Taxes for the support of War

On this head it may be most proper simply to suppose,

1st: That if we are forbidden by him who has a right to our obedience in heaven and on earth, personally to engage in war, it seemeth of consequence to follow that we ought not mediately to promote it by actively giving our money for that use; for can we so effectually bear our Testimony against any thing as to withhold an active compliance with that which facilitates the carrying it on. The apostles exhortation was “be not conformed to this world but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Many have in times past been pained on this account, and their minds have been renewed in seeing what they apprehended to be “that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” in this matter; and time and circumstances run now fully to have matured the child, and if so, death must ensue if the birth is not accomplished.

2d: It is thought to be wrong for Friends to pay Taxes for war, an hireling ministry being thereby supported, which is not allowed by us to be consonant with Christ’s doctrine “Freely ye have received, freely give.” And the Apostle Paul declares that “laboring night and day, because they would not be chargeable, they preached the Gospel of God.”

3d: Because, by our ancient testimony, we profess to have “no hand or connivance in setting up or putting down Kings and Governments” but the present war was and is evidently to put down one and set up another. Hence, those Taxes which are for its support not only oppose that testimony, but differ also from any hitherto paid by us, which difference will be spoke of hereafter, being a reason only peculiar to this war.

4th: Because it is apprehended to run counter in its known consequences to many Christian precepts the observance of which we hold essential. “Abstain from all appearance of evil.” It leads to corruption and violence, which were the two causes assigned for destroying the old world (Genesis 6:11). Because of violence the land formally mourned and does now; and how can we say we are clear, or bear a faithful Testimony against it while we voluntarily contribute towards carrying it on.

5th: Because we are accountable stewards for what has been given us. “The Earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.” And ought we to apply his goods to that which we are led out of as displeasing to him?

6th: Because being in different states at war against each other, we thereby contribute to the opposition, blow up the flame in each country, and advance contradictory things, for both cannot be right, it is not so in the support of civil justice and order which never contradicts or opposes itself in different places, though it may vary a little according to the laws constituted and different circumstances of each.

These reasons are but secondary, and flowed subsequent to… an outward confirmation of an inward persuasion which several times showed me what I believed to be the “light of Truth, teaching those who look for it above all things, the way of peace and true happiness, which though it requires not the help of anything outward to support it, never contradicts right reason and argument, but will ever be found supportable by them, all corresponding with each other.

But it is objected, 1st: That our Savior paid tribute in general terms without inquiring its use (Matthew 17:24) and commanded to render Cæsar his dues (Matthew 22:17). That St. Paul (Romans 13) strongly enjoins subjection to the higher powers, and the payment of tribute also to whom it is due.

Answer. — In the first, where our Savior worked a miracle to pay the tax, different authors disagree about its use, some affirming it was a tax formerly paid to the temple, which is not, perhaps, very material as it was then at the disposal of the Roman conqueror to what use he pleased. Burkitt says, it was “changed from an homage-penny to God, to a tribute-penny to the conqueror.” In the second, the question put to our Savior on the point was with evil intention to ensnare and render him culpable to one of the great parties or sects then existing, who differed about the payment of taxes, his answer, though conclusive, was so wisely framed that it left them still in doubt, what things belonged to Cæsar and what to God, thus he avoided giving either of them offence which he must inevitably have done by a determination that tribute indefinitely was due to Cæsar. Our first and principle obedience is due to the Almighty, even in contradiction to man, “We ought to obey God rather than men.” Hence, if tribute is demanded for a use that is antichristian, it seems right for every Christian to deny it, for Cæsar can have no title to that which opposes the Lord’s command. Both these texts, as well as that of Romans 13 may also be fairly satisfied without applying them to war. It is well known that the government of Tiberius Cæsar was peaceable and quiet; and at the time when Paul thus wrote, which, according to Locke, was about , it was also a time of Peace, neither of those reigns appear to have been much or any disturbed by wars, though the latter was very tyrannical and shamefully depraved, hence it may be informed, that the tax which our Savior paid, if not applied to the temple, which seems most probable, was appropriated to the purposes of civil government. It is however sufficient that it does not appear to have been applied to war, although some, too boldly seem to take it for granted that it was, being paid to a warlike nation. It looks likely from the word rulers, among others, used by St. Paul in the text above cited, that he alluded only to civil order and regulations, to municipal justice in government, and not to military exertions. The latter often puts down civil rule, and is not instituted for “the punishment of the evildoer and praise of those who do well” nor for the determination of “that which is evil” each party contending that the Lord is on their side, and the question at the end of the war is as unanswered as at the beginning, it is not so in civil matters, mankind having agreed what is evil, and what is justice, and upon a certain mode of determining it, and then punishment is regularly inflicted on the guilty. But military force is for offensive or defensive war which generally includes the innocent with the guilty and often falls heaviest on the former.

It is observable that a suspicion arose among the People, that our Savior intended to establish an earthly kingdom, hence he cautiously guarded against such an opinion, was careful to undeceive them and to give no occasion of offence, of which the acknowledgment of his being a subject by paying tribute was a strong proof; and this it is thought he did that they might be more attentive to his doctrine. Besides, it might not be proper at this early period before the Gospel was a little spread and known to touch upon a matter which would have, so materially, alarmed the powers of the earth, hence divine wisdom might refer it to a future day. Nor can it be a just construction of Paul’s words “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers, for there is no power but of God: whosoever therefore resisteth the power resisteth the ordinance of God” to suppose, that he meant implicit obedience should be rendered to every requisition of the governing powers, this appears plain by Acts 5:29 as well as in the cases of the three children Daniel mentioned in Scripture, and must therefore be understood in a qualified, limited sense. The apostle Peter is to be understood in the same manner Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake; whether it be to the King as supreme; or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well and if governments were thus exercised few would refuse an active compliance with every demand, for virtue would thereby be promoted and vice discouraged, but since it is not so, when tribute or any other thing is required which opposes the Christian duty “he ought to obey God rather than Men.” It is remarkable, that when Paul speaks on the subject of tribute, he does not determine what, or to whom, but speaks in nearly the same language with our Savior, “render therefore to all their dues, tribute to whom tribute is due.”

2d: It is alleged, that our Society have always owned and honored government, paid their taxes of all kinds, apprehending it to be their duty so to do and supposing that they were not accountable for any erroneous applications of them though they know it before hand.

Answer. — It is true that until the instance of John Churchman, John Woolman and others in , and since, Friends have generally paid their taxes, except those in lieu of personal service, and for the purchase of drums, colors, etc. called Trophy Money in England. It is as true also that for many years Friends bought and sold Negroes, held them as slaves, and took the profits of their labor, which is condemned now. While evil remains in the world it is probable war may be suffered to continue and rage at times, but whether those who profess to be and are in a good degree redeemed from the causes whence it proceeds, and from the spirit with which it is supported, should voluntarily contribute thereto in any respect is the question. It looks most consistent, even in the eye of the degenerate world, and it feels sensibly so at times to a remnant who desire to be clear of a business so dark and destructive, that we should avoid the furtherance of it in any and every form. This therefore seems to be the criterion; whenever an act strikes the mind with a religious fear that the voluntary performance of it will not be holding up the light of the Gospel of Peace, or be a stumbling block to others it ought carefully to be avoided, thus being faithful to every manifestation of Grace, righteousness would rise higher and higher, and the light thereof would not only open the path of its true votaries but be seen by others, to the advancement of the Kingdom of the Messiah, that it may be established, and his will be done on earth as it is done in heaven; a state possible, I presume, or he would not have taught us to pray for it. And nothing, perhaps, will more contribute to the hastening of this kingdom than a patient suffering for well doing, or for a refusal to do ill, mediately as well as immediately.

Friends formerly were a favored people, and were no doubt in a good degree, or fully, faithful to what was required of them; they suffered much and were persecuted even unto death; their patience and the purity of their lives at length obtained them the kindness of government and laws were made for their relief and worldly promotion; being a grateful people, and wearied with their sufferings, they might possibly stop a little to enjoy the smiles of power, and whether their distinctions between a fine or tax in lieu of personal services, to be applied to warlike purposes, and a tax, immediately for the pay of men hired to perform the same services? between a tax to purchase drums, colors etc., and the common taxes to arm, cloath, victual etc., was not too great a refinement? whether they did not lean too much, though to themselves imperceptible, on the arm of flesh, the power of military force? and were not leavened into too great a complaisance for mankind they engaged, when it favored their outward interest, care, and conveniency? I shall not determine: But, without breach of charity, may suppose, that this complaisance to the outward protection, force of government, added to the acquisition of much wealth, which sometimes seems to need the arm of power to secure, might a little dim their eyes and stay them from that full and earnest pursuit of their religious duties which before now would have more exalted the Truth and cleared up some painful difficulties, which the present day produceth, without the trials which now attend in their successors, some being at present under the purifying hand in diverse respects.

The Christian is exhorted to put on the whole armor of light, and nothing less will enable him to discover the perfect day (Proverbs 4:18, Romans 13:12). We cannot have too much complaisance to men where it tends to shew forth our good works, and to convince them of the beauty of virtue and excellence of Love; nor too much firmness against the erroneous customs of the world and the whiles of Satan, by which he deceives mankind, if it is in the meekness of wisdom which beareth much and is kind, which when reviled reviles not again. It is sorrowfully evident that our connection with offices of government, and mixing with the world in their human consultations, manners and policy, hath been a loss to many, and a general departure from the purity of our Principles hath been too prevalent amongst us; and whether it has not crept in from this cause among others (to wit) our raising up and relying on the kingdoms of this world, joining with the spirit of them, although our Savior expressly told those of his day, that his kingdom was not of this world, if it was his soldiers would fight, and leave to the consideration of others.

3d: But it is said, taxes are due to government, as much as the payment of a debt on performance of a contract is obligatory upon the party engaged; that we receive a consideration therefore, and this debt therefore must not be withheld on account of the use it may be put to though fixed and the payer cannot approve it.

Answer. — The cases do not appear parallel; Every valid contract is voluntarily entered into, and as it is the duty of every one previously to see that his engagement is innocent, so when his promise is purchased by a consideration given it would be dishonest and deceitful not to perform it, the other party having, as it were, deposited so much effects in his hands, which he is to render back according to agreement and when received the receiver has a right to apply it as he pleases without any account to the payer, but in the case of taxes he who gives has a right to call to such an account and therefore seems himself liable for and privy to the application. Every man has or has not given his assent to the government he lives under, in the first, he has formally declared his allegiance thereto, in the latter, that allegiance is implied in consideration of his receiving the protection and benefit of it in the safety of his person and the security of his property, in both, it is no more than to be “true and faithful” which can never mean a compliance with every requisition, for we owe a superior allegiance to the King of Kings, and whenever the requisitions of man run counter thereto we “ought to obey God rather than men.” This, as already mentioned, is further proved by the example of Daniel and the three children. Indeed this allegiance, express or implied, seems only to guard against treason in a subject which he who “lives a peaceable quiet life in Godliness and honesty” the professed principle of our Society, will never be in danger of committing — We pay our proportion to the support of the poor, the maintenance of roads and the support of civil order in government if the demand is unmixed with war or tithes. These include every benefit we ask or receive; we desire not war or any of its consequences, nor do we apprehend any benefit arising from it, but the reverse to mankind in general is, we think, very evident; hence a refusal to pay taxes for war and tithes (which latter are demanded of our brethren in England) ought not to exclude us from any advantage of civil government, so especially as we quietly suffer the distraint of our effects for these uses also, government taking the load of thus spoiling us for endeavoring to preserve a consistent conduct and a conscience void of offense towards the almighty, upon themselves; yet we desire no guilt to be laid to their charge but that they may see the error for their own sakes. Nor would these sentiments if fully adopted be prejudicial to mankind, virtue would then stand at helm, and the bark would be conducted by religion, with peace and amity, to every part of the globe. We have never entered into any contract, express or implied, for the payment of taxes for war, nor the performance of anything contrary to our religious duties, and therefore cannot be looked upon as disaffected or rebellious to any government: for these refusals, if this be our Testimony under all, which many believe it will hereafter be. Some may indeed say that the sword of war is as necessary to be unsheathed against a foreign enemy as the sword of municipal justice is sometimes against an internal malefactor, but there is a manifest difference — municipal justice is conducted by known rules agreed upon in stillness and quiet, and may be done without injury to any one; war makes no distinction, proceeds by violent arbitrary measures, and makes havoc of the innocent peaceable inhabitant as well as those who are in the spirit of it — the rights of all where it comes are trampled upon. If the most inoffensive subject of either power sends his vessel abroad on the most necessary occasion it is liable to be captured and the property confiscated thought he has been in no fault. Civil justice is an innocent dispassionate remedy; this cannot be said of war. And without asserting that war is not necessary but to the pride of man let it be considered that it is for want of due regard to the Christian virtues, mostly on both sides, that the amicable means of treaty and accommodation are not heartily adopted or they would effectually settle every difference. War generally springs from known causes which might be remedied and both sides are generally in fault; Civil wrongs happen often to the most innocent on whom no blame could be fixed, and as the sufferer did not foresee so he could not prevent them. Hence there appears to be a wide distinction between the military part of government and the civil, the former springing out of evil, and seems to be a general punishment for evil, the other may be compared to the various regulations or powers of a machine, each tending to keep the whole in order, and may be executed in harmony and good will; or to the government: or authority of a parent over his children and family.

It is not to be wondered at, or an argument to be drawn against a reformation in the refusal of taxes for war at this day, that our brethren formerly paid them; knowledge is progressive — every reform had its beginning, even the disciples were for some time ignorant of many religious truths though they had the company and precepts of our Savior, and they continued so for some time after his ascension; — instance the conversion of the Gentiles, for they could not at first believe that they were to preach the Gospel and initiate them in the Christian church, until a miracle was wrought to convince them of it; the doctrine of circumcision is another instance, to which rite as well as water baptism Christ submitted, but we do not argue thence that they ought to continue. Our Savior told his disciples he had many things to say to them which they could not then bear, but he promised, that when he left them he would send them the comforter, and he should teach them all things; guide them into all truth and shew them things to come. Some things which our Savior taught them not when on Earth, or at least which they understood not, having by this comforter or spirit of truth, been afterwards disclosed, other things may yet. The Christian life is gradual and the irradiations of the Gospel are not all at once. The prophecy of peace and love must go slow: and be perfected though it is now much oppressed, but before its completion war must be laid aside so as not ever to be “learned.” A faithful testimony in all respects borne against this great engine of Satan will lead to a reformation in many other essential matters and narrow the path of life. Let us remember the exhortation and who gave it, “Enter ye at the strait gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction and many there be who go in thereat; because strait is the gate and narrow is the way which leadeth into life, and few there be that find it.”

The refusal to pay taxes is not peculiar to these times. John Churchman, John Woolman and others had the scruple in the last war . Friends in England many years past have had an uneasiness on this account as appears by John Richardson’s Journal. On Rhode Island he was asked by Friends, on a query in their meeting what Friends might do in case there should be a tax laid for building some fortification and to provide men and arms for the security of the Island? and what they did in England in like cases? after having some time and the meeting waiting for his answer he said “I have heard the matter debated both in superior and inferior meetings and privately, and the most general result was this; Friends did not see an effectual door opened to avoid the thing, that tax being mixed with the other taxes; although many Friends are not so easy as they could desire: neither have we any other sway in the government, than only giving our voices for such as are concerned therein; therefore as things appear to me there is a great disparity between our circumstances and yours; for you have a great interest here and a great share in the government, and perhaps may put such a thing by in voting, therefore look not for help to the Mother, as they called England, or Friends there, wherein she is not capable of helping herself, but mind your own way in the Truth and look not out.” Samuel Fothergill also, , was averse to and advised Friends against the payment of taxes for war, and though Friends in England disapproved this scruple , it at least shows the scruple to be an ancient one, and under the old government when the war did not run counter to another of our principles, above hinted at, (to wit) the destruction of one and erecting another government by the sword. — And though I distinguish not between war so as to approve it in any case, it may a little account for the Society having their eyes more opened now than formerly in proportion as the consideration is brought more strikingly before us from its now violating one of our religious principles untouched then, as well as by several other considerations entirely new to us; of which the great frauds committed, and injuries occasioned to many, by a currency made for the purposes of war; the evil, profanity and destructive tendency of the war, now brought to our doors are not the least. Can we look at the dismal consequences of war and immediately reflect that we give our voluntary aid to it any way and to be easy under it? or think we are consistent throughout?

Let none startle at thus advancing in what is believed by some to be our indispensable duty as find our minds touched with a concern so to do; one step makes way for another, even greater things and further advances may in the future be required of us, if we are faithful to the discoveries of true knowledge, and happy will it be for us to be found worthy of divine communication. Comfortable are the prophecies which are yet to be fulfilled and which point to this happy reformation. Kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and their queens thy nursing mothers and for they shall not be ashamed that wait for me.” “And the Gentiles shall come to thy light and kings to the brightness of thy rising. I will also make thy officers peace, and thy exactors righteousness; Violence shall no more be heard in thy land; wasting nor destruction within thy borders, but thou shalt call thy walls Salvation and thy gates Praise.” Although the present state of things is not thus beautiful, a belief in the scriptures of truth will raise a full confidence of their future verification, and it is a noble and worthy object to look for and endeavor after its fulfillment, which will be joy unspeakable in true humility and self abasement to the mark and lamblike nature, which thousands have already in measure felt, and have been thereby led out of all strife, contention, war and fighting, which proceed from pride and lust, and lead to violence, wasting and destruction the fruits of fallen nature, works of Satan, and sure passports, as they are continued in, to the Chambers of Death.

As some of the preceding sentiments run counter to the received opinion and practice of our predecessors in the Truth, if we apply them simply to any government as appears by George Fox’s Journal, Thomas Story’s Journal… and diverse other parts of Friends’ writings; and as I know my attainments are small and very far short of their experience, I desire to be understood with tenderness; I write with caution and great deference to others of more extensive thought and abilities, who either have not seen the change that has opened and appears to be further opening to some; and to those also who in sincerity still approve the former conduct of the society in respect to taxes, and their intercourse with mankind even to the supplying of the Army and furthering military matters, for it is certainly true that some Friends did formerly act as commissaries, charter their vessels to the crown for transporting soldiers, sell their effects for the use of the Army, etc. and often educate their children under persons not in union with us, though many now find an insuperable scruple in their minds on these and other accounts, and are desirous of standing as clear of any connection or aid which tends to strengthen the sinews of war or corrupt our offspring, as our present mixed state amongst mankind admits. It is clear that there never was a time in all respects similar to this; nor can we say that even our worthy ancestors would not be led to differ from themselves if they were now living, it is rather highly probable that they would. To hear a collector say to a Friend, that he must have the tax for war of him, to a raise a fund for the payment of certain other Friends who have sold their products to supply the Army with necessaries and want their money, and some other circumstances of the like kind, sounds very unpleasant, and is what we have not been accustomed before now to hear. We are called upon to take up our cross daily and follow Christ; that may be a cross today which has not been so heretofore, but as soon as it is fixed on the mind, obedience after is a duty. “Love is the fulfilling of the Law.” Let us then strive to possess ourselves of this efficacious love towards one another in a particular manner, and towards others also, as the most effectual means of carrying conviction with us, that it is the fulfilling of the law of righteousness and true holiness that we are always aiming at, and that this is “the mark for the prize of the high calling of God which we press after” and “whereto we have already attained let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing” and let us affectionately endeavor to feel each others scruples and concerns as well as patiently to forbear with each other in love where a sincere desire after the Master’s will and a faithful discharge of our known duties appear to be uppermost.

This love will lead us to acts of justice, of kindness and of mercy; but will it lead us to a compliance with anything that promotes violence, wrath, cruelty, circumvention or wrong? Thomas Story, even where he advocates the payment of taxes, says, “It will not be by human force or policy but by conviction; not by violence but consent, that the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdoms of God and of his Christ: nor will the kingdoms and powers in this world ever cease, being God’s ordinance in natural and civil affairs, till the reason of them cease; that is till all violence and injustice cease, and evildoing come to an end, by the advancement of truth, righteousness, love and peace over all nations; which is the true end of the coming of the Lord Jesus, and nature of his kingdom here on earth.” Now it is not by “human force, policy or violence” but by “conviction and consent” in us producing the fruits of justice, “truth, righteousness, love and peace;” by a life of suffering and a patient continuance in well doing, that we endeavor to advance “the kingdom of Christ here on earth;” and if the reason of the kingdoms of this world hath ceased in us, and we have turned our backs on “force violence and evil” why must we voluntarily promote them any way, or in any one? or why may we not by a quiet refusal of every aid towards them, at least put others, who are in the practice of them, more seriously on thinking, and thus instrumentally lead them into a better path, “which no fowl knoweth, which the vulture’s eye hath not seen, the lion’s whelps have not trodden it, nor the fierce lion passed by it” “a way that is called the way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it. The wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein. No lion shall be there nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon, but the redeemed shall walk there.” These, and many other beautiful scriptures indicate a great advancement of the Christian life, and oh! that we may be favored to see and pursue this simple “peaceful holy way” which must be a consistent one, but our conduct even in time past has appeared inconsistent, the illiterate poor Indian, the foreigner, the wise men of this world, and others, not of us; when they have been told that we have a testimony against War, have answered, but you pay others for fighting, alluding to our payment of taxes for that purpose; and this has been taken to proceed from our attachment to our outward substance, from our desire for its increase and outward preservation, and a reliance on the arm of flesh for our liberty and property; whereas, if we “sought first the kingdom of God and his righteousness all these things would be added unto us.” “Salvation would he appoint as walls and bulwarks round about” us and we should truly experience that Christ “gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people zealous of good works” — Thus by a life of virtue we should be led out of the evils that are in the world, our “meat would be to do the will of our great master” and to imitate his example when on earth, and then we should, with the perfect man, become “as eyes to the blind, feet to the lame, a father to the poor, and the cause which we knew not we should search out” and though “the gate of entrance herein is straight and the way narrow,” as we travelled in it, continually watching unto prayer, that the Lord’s “will might be done on earth as it is done in heaven,” and that he would hasten the accomplishment thereof, we should find it a “way of pleasantness, and that all his paths are paths of peace” patiently bearing every thing for his sake, that a perseverance in this way should ease us, and thus in the end, our minds being stayed and exercised on him we should experience his “preservation of us in perfect peace, our trust being in him.” And “though he may give us the bread of adversity and the water of affliction” yet he has promised “thy teachers shall not be removed into a corner any more, but thine eyes shall see thy teachers” and agreeable to the same prophet’s words, “no weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, for their righteousness is of me saith the Lord.”

The above sentiments, whether right or wrong are adopted by great numbers, and are even from thence become of importance, and I hope may repeatedly be adverted to and viewed with the calmness of true wisdom; and a sincere desire possesses me, that, without judging one another in matters wherein we may differ from our ancestors and one from another for a time as a trial of our patience, love and forbearance, we may earnestly strive, after the life of religion, for if we evidently feel ourselves grow in this we shall be dear to each other under every dispensation of providence, but if the spirit of censure and fault-finding insinuates itself; if the love of this world or the things of it takes up the room of our minds, if darkness, from these or other causes, prevails over us or dissension raises its head amongst us, then are we in great danger. It is clear that whatever is of God will prosper and cannot be overthrown, but that which is of men must come to naught (Acts 5:38–39); Whatever is elementary or expressive of the substance must have an end though it may be right for a time; and if John, the forerunner of Christ, who by our Savior himself was declared to be “one of the greatest born of women” was to decrease but our Savior to increase (John 3:30) alluding to their dispensation, practice and doctrine in matters religious; may it not be questioned whether the governments of this world, as practiced in their present form, may not in the future be found insubstantial and replaced by something better; hence why are we tenacious about anything which the pure truth is superior to? and which in its most perfect state is imperfect, for all imperfection must perish? “Be ye therefore perfect even as your Father who is in heaven is perfect” was a precept of our Savior. Our first parents were placed in an innocent perfect situation, and nothing less than an innocent endeavor after, in order to regain that happy state of innocence unmixed can truly satisfy an immortal mind. — The humble christian, who, with his hands on his loins and his mind girt about with sobriety is daily endeavoring to work out his salvation with fear and trembling, knowing who it is that worketh in him, stands in need of few outward laws, and the nearer he approaches the image of the great Pattern the less necessary they become.