A PORTRAITURE OF QUAKERISM, VOLUME II
Taken from a View of the Education and Discipline, Social Manners, Civil and Political Economy, Religious Principles and Character, of the Society of Friends
THOMAS CLARKSON, M.A. Author of Several Essays on the Slave Trade
New York: Published by Samuel Stansbury, No 111, Water-Street
CONTENTS OF THE SECOND VOLUME.
SECT. I.—Marriage—Regulation and example of George Fox, relative to Marriage—Present regulations, and manner of the celebration of it among the Quakers.
SECT. II.—Those who marry out of the society, are disowned—Various reasons for such a measure—Objection to it—Reply.
SECT III.—But the disowned may be restored to membership—Terms of their restoration—these terms censured—Reply.
SECT IV.—More women disowned on this account than men—Probable causes of this difference of number.
SECT I.—Funerals—Extravagance and pageantry of ancient and modern funerals—These discarded by the Quakers—Plain manner in which they inter their dead.
SECT II.—Quakers use no tomb-stones, nor monumental inscriptions —Various reasons of their disuse of these.
SECT. III.—Neither do they use mourning garments—Reasons why they thus differ from the world—These reasons farther elucidated by considerations on Court-mourning.
Occupations—Agriculture declining among the Quakers—Causes and disadvantages of this decline.
SECT. I.—Trade—Quakers view trade as a moral question—Prohibit a variety of trades and dealings on this account—various other wholesome regulations concerning it.
SECT. II.—But though the Quakers thus prohibit many trades, they are found in some which are considered objectionable by the world—These specified and examined.
Settlement of differences—Abstain from duels-and also from law—Have recourse to arbitration—Their rules concerning arbitration—An account of an Arbitration Society at Newcastle upon Tyne, on Quaker-principles.
SECT. I.—Poor—No beggars among the Quakers—Manner of relieving and providing for the poor.
SECT. II.—Education of the children of the poor provided for—Observations on the number of the Quaker-poor—and on their character.
Invitation to a perusal of this part of the work—The necessity of humility and charity in religion on account of the limited powers of the human understanding—Object of this invitation.
God has given to all, besides an intellectual, a spiritual understanding—Some have had a greater portion of this spirit than others, such as Abraham, and Moses, and the prophets, and Apostles—Jesus Christ had it without limit or measure.
Except a man has a portion of the same spirit, which Jesus, and the Prophets, and the Apostles had, he cannot know spiritual things—This doctrine confirmed by St. Paul—And elucidated by a comparison between the faculties of men and of brutes.
Neither except he has a portion of the same spirit, can he know the scriptures to be of divine origin, nor can he spiritually understand them—Objection to this doctrine-Reply.
This spirit, which has been thus given to men in different degrees, has been given them as a teacher or guide in their spiritual concerns—Way in which it teaches.
This spirit may be considered as the primary and infallible guide—and the scriptures but a secondary means of instruction—but the Quakers do not undervalue the latter on this account—Their opinion concerning them.
This spirit, as a primary and infallible guide, has been given to men universally—From the creation to Moses—From Moses to Christ—From Christ to the present day.
Sect. I.—And as it has been universally to men, so it has been given them sufficiently—Those who resist it, quench it—Those who attend to it, are in the way of redemption.
Sect. II.—This spirit then besides its office of a spiritual guide, performs that of a Redeemer to men—Redemption outward and inward—Inward effected by this spirit.
Sect. III.—Inward redemption produces a new birth—and leads to perfection—This inward redemption possible to all.
Sect. IV—New birth and perfection more particularly explained-New birth as real from "the spiritual seed of the kingdom" as that of plants and vegetables from their seeds in the natural world—and goes on in the same manner progressively to maturity.
SECT. I.—Possibility of redemption to all denied by the favours of "Election and Reprobation"—Quaker-refutation of the later doctrine.
SECT. II.—Quaker refutation continued.
Recapitulation of all the doctrines advanced—Objection that the Quakers make every thing of the Spirit and but little of Jesus Christ—Attempt to show that Christians often differ without a just cause—Or that there is no material difference between the creeds of the Quakers and that of the objectors on this subject.
SECT. I.—Ministers of the Gospel—Quakers conceive that the spirit of God alone can qualify for the ministry—Women equally qualified with men—Way in which ministers are called and acknowledged among the Quakers.
SECT. II.—Quaker-ministers, when acknowledged, engage in family visits—Nature of these—and sometimes in missions through England—and sometimes in foreign parts.
Elders—Their origin and their office—These are not to meddle with the discipline of the church.
SECT I.—Worship—is usually made to consist of prayer and preaching—But neither of these are considered by the Quakers to be effectual without the aid of the spirit—Hence no liturgy or studied form of words among the Quakers—Reputed manner and character of Quaker-preaching—Observations upon these.
SECT. II—Silent worship—Manner of it—Worship not necessarily connected with words—Advantages of this mode of worship.
SECT. III.—Quakers discard every thing formal and superstitious from their worship—No consecrated ground—No priest's garments—No psalmody—No one day esteemed by them holier than another—Reasons for these singularities.
Miscellaneous particularities—Quakers seldom use the words "original sin," or "Trinity," and never "the word of God" for the Scriptures—Believe in the manhood and divinity of Christ—In the resurrection—Their ideas on sanctification and justification.
Quakers reject baptism and the Lord's supper—Indulgence solicited for them on account of the difficulties connected with these subjects—These difficulties explained.
SECT. I.—Two baptisms, that of John and of Christ—That of John was by water—and a Jewish ordinance—John the prophet left under the law.
SECT. II.—Baptism of Christ was by the Spirit—This the baptism of the Gospel—Authorities on which this distinction between the two is founded.
SECT. III.—Quakers conceive it was not the baptism of John which Jesus included in the Great Commission, when he ordered his disciples to go into all nations, and to teach them, baptizing in the name of the father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost—This shown from expressions taken from St. Peter and St. Paul—and from the object and nature of this baptism.
SECT. IV.—But that it was the baptism of Christ—This shown from a critical examination of the words in the commission itself—And from the commission, as explained by St. Mark, St. Luke, and St. Paul.
SECT. V.—Practice of Jesus and the Apostles a confirmation of this opinion.
Sect. I.—Two suppers, the one instituted by Moses, the other by Jesus Christ—The first called the passover—Ancient and modern manner of its celebration.
Sect. II.—Second, enjoined by Jesus at Capernaum—This wholly, of a spiritual nature—Way in which this may be enjoyed.
Sect. III.—Quakers say that Jesus instituted no new supper distinct from that of the passover, and which was to render null and void that enjoined at Capernaum, at a rite of the Christian church—No such institution to be collected from St. Matthew, St. Mark, or St. John.
Sect. IV.—Nor from St. Luke—St. Luke only says, that all future passovers of the Disciples with Christ were to be spiritual—but if, as Jews, they could not all at once abdicate the passover to which they had been educated, they were to celebrate it with a new meaning—But no acknowledged permission of it to others.
Sect. V.—Nor from St. Paul—St. Paul only says that the passover, as spiritualized by Jesus, was allowed to his disciples, or to the Jewish converts, who could not all at once lay aside their prejudices concerning it, but that it was to last only for a time—Different opinions about this time—That of the Quakers concerning it.
Sect. VI.—Had a new supper, distinct from that of the passover, been intended as a ceremonial of the Christian church, it would have been commanded to others besides the disciples, and its duration would not have been limited—Reasons from St. Paul, to show that he himself did not probably consider it as a Christian ordinance—Whereas the supper enjoined at Capernaum, was to be eternal—and universal—and an essential with all Christians.
PECULIAR CUSTOMS OF THE QUAKERS.
VOL. II B.
PECULIAR CUSTOMS OF THE QUAKERS.
Marriage—Quakers differ in many respects from others, on the subject of Marriage—George Fox introduced Regulations concerning it—Protested against the usual manner of the celebration of it—Gave an example of what he recommended—Present regulations of the Quakers on this subject.
In the continuation of the Customs of the Quakers, a subject which I purpose to resume in the present volume, I shall begin with that of Marriage.
The Quakers differ from others in many of their regulations concerning this custom. They differ also in the manner of the celebration of it. And, as they differ in these respects, so they experience generally a different result. The Quakers, as a married, may be said to be a happy, people. Hence the detailers of scandal, have rarely had it in their power to promulgate a Quaker adultery. Nor have the lawyers had an opportunity in our public courts of proclaiming a Quaker divorce.
George Fox suggested many regulations on this subject. He advised, among other things, when persons had it in contemplation to marry, that they should lay their intention before the monthly meetings, both of the men and women. He advised also, that the consent of their parents should be previously obtained, and certified to these. Thus he laid the foundation for greater harmony in the approaching union. He advised again, that an inquiry should be made, if the parties were clear of engagements or promises of marriage to others, and, if they were not, that they should be hindered from proceeding. Thus, he cut off some of the causes of the interruption of connubial happiness, by preventing uneasy reflections, or suits at law, after the union had taken place. He advised also, in the case of second marriages, that any offspring resulting from the former, should have their due rights and a proper provision secured to them, before they were allowed to be solemnized. Thus he gave a greater chance for happiness, by preventing mercenary motives from becoming the causes of the union of husbands and wives.
But George Fox, as he introduced these and other salutary regulations on the subject of Marriage, so he introduced a new manner of the celebration of it. He protested against the manner of the world, that is, against the formal prayers and exhortations as they were repeated, and against the formal ceremonies, an they were practised by the Parish Priest. He considered that it was God, who joined man and woman before the fall; and that in Christian times, or where the man was truly renovated in heart, there could be no other right or honourable way of union. Consistently with this view of the subject, he observed, that in the ancient scriptural times, persons took each other in marriage in the assemblies of the Elders; and there was no record, from the Book of Genesis to that of Revelations, of any marriage by a Priest. Hence it became his new society, as a religious or renovated people, to abandon apostate usages, and to adopt a manner that was more agreeable to their new state.
George Fox gave in his own marriage, an example of all that he had thus recommended to the society. Having agreed with Margaret Fell, the widow of Judge Fell, upon the propriety of their union as husband and wife, he desired her to send for her children. As soon as they were come, he asked them and their respective husbands, "If they had any thing against it, or for it, desiring them to speak? and they all severally expressed their satisfaction therein. Then he asked Margaret, if she had fulfilled and performed her husband's Will to her children? She replied, the children know that. Whereupon he asked them, whether, if their mother married, they should not lose by it? And he asked Margaret, whether she had done any thing in lieu of it, which might answer it to the children? The children said, she had answered it to them, and desired him to speak no more about that. He told them, that he was plain, and that he would have all things done plainly; for he sought not any outward advantage to himself. So, after he had acquainted the children with it, their intention of marriage was laid before Friends, both privately and publicly;" and afterwards a meeting being appointed for the accomplishment of the marriage, in the public Meeting-house at Broad Mead, in Bristol, they took each other in marriage, in the plain and simple manner as then practised, and which he himself had originally recommended to his followers.
[Footnote 1: G. Fox's Journal, Vol. 2. p. 135.]
The regulations concerning marriage, and the manner of the celebration of it, which obtained in the time of George Fox, nearly obtain among the Quakers of the present day.
When marriage is agreed upon between two persons, the man and the woman, at one of the monthly meetings, publicly declare their intention, and ask leave to proceed. At this time their parents, if living, must either appear, or send certificates to signify their consent. This being done, two men are appointed by the men's meeting, and two women are appointed by that of the women, to wait upon the man and woman respectively, and to learn from themselves, as well as by other inquiry, if they stand perfectly clear from any marriage-promises and engagements to others. At the next monthly meeting the deputation make their report. If either of the parties is reported to have given expectation of marriage to any other individual, the proceedings are stopped till the matter be satisfactorily explained. But if they are both of them reported to be clear in this respect, they are at liberty to proceed, and one or more persons of respectability of each sex, are deputed to see that the marriage be conducted in an orderly manner.
In the case of second marriages, additional instructions are sometimes given; for if any of the parties thus intimating their intentions of marrying should have children alive, the same persons, who were deputed to inquire into their clearness from all other engagements, are to see that the rights of such children be legally secured.
When the parties are considered to be free, by the reports of the deputation, to proceed upon their union, they appoint a suitable day for the celebration of it, which is generally one of the week-day meetings for worship. On this day they repair to the Meeting-house with their friends. The congregation, when seated, sit in silence. Perhaps some minister is induced to speak. After a suitable time has elapsed, the man and the woman rise up together, and, taking each other by the hand, declare publicly, that they thus take each other as husband and wife. This constitutes their marriage. By way, however, of evidence of their union, a paper is signed by the man and woman, in the presence of three witnesses, who sign it also, in which it is stated that they have so taken each other in marriage. And, in addition to this, though, it be not a necessary practice, another paper is generally produced and read, stating concisely the proceedings of the parties in their respective Meetings for the purpose of their marriage, and the declaration made by them, as having taken each other as man and wife. This is signed by the parties, their relations, and frequently by many of their friends, and others present. All marriages of other Dissenters are celebrated in the established churches, according to the ceremonies of the same. But the marriages of the Quakers are valid by law in their own Meeting-houses, when solemnised in this simple manner.
Quakers, marrying out of the Society, to be disowned—That regulation charged with pride and cruelty—Reasons for this disownment are—That mixed Marriages cannot be celebrated without a violation of same of the great Principles of the Society—That they are generally productive of disputes and uneasiness to those concerned—and that the discipline cannot be carried on in such families.
Among the regulations suggested by George Fox, and adopted by his followers, it was determined that persons, belonging to the society, should not intermarry with those of other religious professions. Such an heterogeneous union was denominated a mixed marriage; and persons, engaging in such mixed marriages, were to be disowned.
People of other denominations have charged the Quakers with a more than usually censurable pride, on account of their adoption of this law. They consider them as looking down upon the rest of their fellow-creatures, as so inferior or unholy, as not to deign or to dare to mix in alliance with them, or as looking upon them in the same light as the Jews considered the Heathen, or the Greeks the Barbarian world. And they have charged them also with as much cruelty as pride, on the same account. "A Quaker, they say, feels himself strongly attached to an accomplished woman; but she does not belong to the society. He wishes to marry, but he cannot marry her on account of its laws. Having a respect for the society, he looks round it again, but he looks round it in vain. He finds no one equal to this woman; no one, whom he could love so well. To marry one in the society, while he loves another out of it better, would be evidently wrong. If he does not marry her, he makes the greatest of all sacrifices, for he loses that which he supposes would constitute a source of enjoyment to him for the remainder of his life. If he marries her, he is expelled the society; and this, without having been guilty of an immoral offence."
One of the reasons, which the Quakers give for the adoption of this law of disownment in the case of mixed marriages, is, that those who engage in them violate some of the most important principles of the society, and such indeed as are distinguishing characteristics of Quakerism from the religion of the world.
It is a religious tenet of the Quakers, as will be shown in its proper place, that no appointment of man can make a minister of the gospel, and that no service, consisting of an artificial form of words, to be pronounced on stated occasions, can constitute a religious act; for that the spirit of God is essentially necessary to create the one, and to produce the other. It is also another tenet with them, that no minister of a christian church, ought to be paid for his Gospel-labours. This latter tenet is held so sacred by the Quakers, that it affords one reason among others, why they refuse payment of tithes, and other demands of the church, preferring to suffer loss by distraints for them, than to comply with them in the usual manner. Now these two principles are essentials of Quakerism. But no person, who marries out of the society, can be legally married without going through the forms of the established church. Those therefore who submit to this ceremony, as performed by a priest, acknowledge, according to the Quakers, the validity of an human appointment of the ministry. They acknowledge the validity of an artificial service in religion. They acknowledge the propriety of paying a Gospel-minister for the discharge of his office. The Quakers, therefore, consider those who marry out of the society, as guilty of such a dereliction of Quaker-principles, that they can be no longer considered as sound or consistent members.
But independently of the violation of these principles, which the Quakers take as the strongest ground for their conduct on such an occasion, they think themselves warranted in disowning, from a contemplation of the consequences, which have been known to result from these marriages.
In the first place, disownment is held to be necessary, because it acts as a check upon such marriages, and because, by acting as such a check, it prevents the family-disputes and disagreements which might otherwise arise; for such marriages have been found to be more productive of uneasiness than of enjoyment. When two persons of different religious principles, a Quaker for example, and a woman of the church, join in marriage, it is almost impossible that they should not occasionally differ. The subject of religion arises, and perhaps some little altercation with it, as the Sunday comes. The one will not go to church, and the other will not go to meeting. These disputes do not always die with time. They arise, however, more or less, according to circumstances. If neither of the parties set any value upon their religious opinions, there will be but little occasion for dispute. If both of them, on the other hand, are of a serious cast, much will depend upon the liberality of their sentiments: but, generally speaking, it falls to the lot of but few to be free from religious prejudices. And here it may be observed, that points in religion also may occasionally be suggested, which may bring with them the seeds of temporary uneasiness. People of other religious denominations generally approach nearer to one another in their respective creeds, than the Quakers to either of them. Most christians agree, for example, in the use of Baptism in some form or other, and also in the celebration of the Lord's Supper. But the Quakers, as will be shown in this volume, consider these ordinances in a spiritual light, admitting no ceremonials in so pure a system as that of the Christian religion.
But these differences, which may thus soon or late take their rise upon these or other subjects, where the parties set a value on their respective religious opinions, cannot fail of being augmented by new circumstances in time. The parties in question have children. The education of these is now a subject of the most important concern. New disputes are engendered on this head, both adhering to their respective tenets as the best to be embraced by their rising offspring. Unable at length to agree on this point, a sort of compromise takes place. The boys are denied, while the girls are permitted, baptism. The boys, again, are brought up to meeting, and the girls to church, or they go to church and meeting alternately. In the latter case, none of the children can have any fixed principles. Nor will they be much better off in the former. There will be frequently an opposition of each other's religious opinions, and a constant hesitation and doubt about the consistency of these. There are many points, which the mothers will teach the daughters as right, or essential, but which the fathers will teach the sons as erroneous or unimportant. Thus disputes will be conveyed to the children. In their progress through life other circumstances may arise, which may give birth to feelings of an unpleasant nature. The daughters will be probably instructed in the accomplishments of the world. They will be also introduced to the card-room, and to assemblies, and to the theatre, in their turn. The boys will be admitted to neither. The latter will of course feel their pleasures abridged, and consider their case as hard, and their father as morose and cruel. Little jealousies may arise upon this difference of their treatment, which may be subversive of filial and fraternal affection. Nor can religion be called in to correct them; for while the two opposite examples of father and mother, and of sisters and brothers, are held out to be right, there will be considerable doubts as to what are religious truths.
The Quakers urge again in behalf of their law against mixed marriages, that if these were not forbidden, it would be impossible to carry on the discipline of the society. The truth of this may be judged by the preceding remarks. For if the family were divided into two parties, as has been just stated, on account of their religion, it would be but in a kind of mongrel-state. If, for instance, it were thought right, that the Quaker-part of it should preserve the simplicity of the Quaker-dress, and the plainness of the Quaker-language, how is this to be done, while the other part daily move in the fashions, and are taught as a right usage, to persist in the phrases of the world? If, again, the Quaker-part of it are to be kept from the amusements prohibited by the society, how is this to be effected, while the other part of it speak of them from their own experience, with rapture or delight? It would be impossible, therefore, in the opinion of the Quakers, in so mixed a family, to keep up that discipline, which they consider as the corner-stone of their constitutional fabric, and which may be said to have been an instrument in obtaining for them the character of a moral people.
But though persons are thus disowned, they may be restored to membership—Generally understood, however, that they must previously express their repentance for their marriages—This confession of repentance censured by the world—But is admissible without the criminality supposed—The word repentance misunderstood by the world.
But though the Quakers may disown such as marry out of their society, it does not follow that these may not be reinstated as members. If these should conduct themselves after their disownment in an orderly manner, and, still retaining their attachment to the society, should bring up their children in the principles and customs of it, they may, if they apply for restoration, obtain it, with all their former privileges and rights.
The children also of such as marry out of the society, though they are never considered to be members of it, may yet become so in particular cases. The society advises that the monthly meetings, should extend a tender care towards such children, and that they should be admitted into membership at the discretion of the said meetings, either in infancy or in maturer age.
But here I must stop to make a few observations, on an opinion which prevails upon this subject. It is generally understood that the Quakers, in their restoration of disowned persons to membership, require them previously and publicly to acknowledge, that they have repented of their marriages. This obligation to make this public confession of repentance, has given to many a handle for heavy charges against them. Indeed I scarcely know, in any part of the Quaker-system, where people are louder in their censures, than upon this point. "A man, they say, cannot express his penitence for his marriage without throwing a stigma upon his wife. To do this is morally wrong, if he has no fault to find with her. To do it, even if she has been in fault, is indelicate. And not to do it, is to forego his restoration to membership. This law therefore of the Quakers is considered to be immoral, because it may lead both to hypocrisy and falsehood."
I shall not take up much time in correcting the notions that have gone abroad on this subject.
Of those who marry out of the society, it may be presumed that there are some, who were never considered to be sound in the Quaker-principles, and these are generally they who intermarry with the world. Now they, who compose this class, generally live after their marriages, as happily out of the society as when they were in it. Of course, these do not repent of the change. And if they do not repent, they never sue for restoration to membership. They cannot, therefore, incur any of the charges in question. Nor can the society be blamed in this case, who, by never asking them to become members, never entice them to any objectionable repentance.
Of those again, who marry out of the society, there may be individuals, so attached to its communion, that it was never imagined they would have acted in this manner. Now of these, it may in general be said, that they often bitterly repent. They find, soon or late, that the opposite opinions and manners, to be found in their union, do not harmonize. And here it may be observed, that it is very possible, that such persons may say they repent without any crimination of their wives. A man, for instance, may have found in his wife all the agreeableness of temper, all the domestic virtue and knowledge, all the liberality of religious opinion, which he had anticipated; but in consequence of the mixed principles resulting from mixed marriages, or of other unforeseen causes, he may be so alarmed about the unsteady disposition of his children and their future prospects, that the pain which he feels on these accounts may overbalance the pleasure, which he acknowledges in the constant prudence, goodness, solicitude, and affection, of his wife. This may be so much the case, that all her consolatory offices may not be able to get the better of his grief. A man, therefore, in such circumstances, may truly repent of his marriage, or that he was ever the father of such children, though he can never complain as the husband of such a wife.
The truth, however, is, that those who make the charge in question, have entirely misapplied the meaning of the word repent. People are not called upon to express their sorrow, for having married the objects of their choice, but for having violated those great tenets of the society, which have been already mentioned, and which form distinguishing characteristics between Quakerism and the religion of the world. Those, therefore, who say they repent, say no more than what any other persons might be presumed to say, who had violated the religious tenets of any other society to which they might have belonged, or who had flown in the face of what they had imagined to be religious truths.
Of persons, disowned for marriage, the greater proportion is said to consist of women—Causes assigned for this difference of number in the two sexes.
It will perhaps appear a curious fact to the world, but I am told it is true, that the number of the women, disowned for marrying out of the society, far exceeds the number of the men, who are disowned on the same account.
It is not difficult, if the fact be as it is stated, to assign a reason for this difference of number in the two sexes.
When men wish to marry, they wish, at least if they are men of sense, to find such women as are virtuous; to find such as are prudent and domestic, and such as have a proper sense of the folly and dissipation of the Fashionable world; such in fact as will make good mothers and good wives. Now if a Quaker looks into his own society, he will generally find the female part of it of this description. Female Quakers excel in these points. But if he looks into the world at large, he will in general find a contrast in the females there. These, in general, are but badly educated. They are taught to place a portion of their happiness in finery and show: utility is abandoned for fashion: The knowledge of the etiquette of the drawing-room usurps the place of the knowledge of the domestic duties: A kind of false and dangerous taste predominates: Scandal and the card-table are preferred to the pleasures of a rural walk: Virtue and Modesty are seen with only half their energies, being overpowered by the noxiousness of novel-reading principles, and by the moral taint which infects those who engage in the varied rounds of a fashionable life. Hence a want of knowledge, a love of trifles, and a dissipated turn of mind, generally characterize those who are considered as having had the education of the world.
We see therefore a good reason why Quaker-men should confine themselves in their marriages to their own society. But the same reason, which thus operates with Quaker-men in the choice of Quaker-women, operates with men who are not of the society, in choosing them also for their wives. These are often no strangers to the good education, and to the high character, of the Quaker-females. Fearful often of marrying among the badly educated women of their own persuasion, they frequently address themselves to this society, and not unfrequently succeed.
To this it may be added, that if Quaker-men were to attempt to marry out of their own society, they would not in general be well received. Their dress and their manners are considered as uncouth in the eyes of the female-world, and would present themselves as so many obstacles in the way of their success. The women of this description generally like a smart and showy exterior. They admire heroism and spirit. But neither such an exterior, nor such spirit, are to be seen in the Quaker-men. The dress of the Quaker-females, on the other hand, is considered as neat and elegant, and their modesty and demeanor as worthy of admiration. From these circumstances they captivate. Hence the difference, both in the inward and outward person, between the men and the women of this society, renders the former not so pleasing, while it renders the latter objects of admiration, and even choice.
Funerals—Most nations have paid extravagant attention to their dead—The moderns follow their example—This extravagance, or the pageantry of funerals, discarded by the Quakers—Their reasons for it—Plainness of Quaker-funerals.
If we look into the history of the world, we shall find, from whatever cause it has arisen, whether from any thing connected with our moral feelings, such as love, gratitude, or respect, or from vanity, or ostentation, that almost all nations, where individuals have been able to afford it, have incurred considerable expense in the interment of their dead. The Greeks were often very extravagant in their funerals. Many persons, ornamented with garlands, followed the corpse, while others were employed in singing and dancing before it. At the funerals of the great, among the Romans, couches were carried, containing the waxen or other images of the family of the deceased, and hundreds joined in the procession. In our own times, we find a difference in the manner of furnishing or decorating funerals, though but little in the intention of making them objects of outward show. A bearer of plumes precedes the procession. The horses employed are dressed in trappings. The hearse follows ornamented with plumes of feathers, and gilded and silvered with gaudy escutcheons, or the armorial bearings of the progenitors of the deceased. A group of hired persons range themselves on each side of the hearse and attendant carriages, while others close the procession. These again are all of them clad in long cloaks, or furnished, in regular order, with scarfs and hat-bands. Now all these outward appendages, which may be called the pageantry of funerals, the Quakers have discarded, from the time of their institution, in the practice of the burial of their dead.
The Quakers are of opinion, that funeral processions should be made, if any thing is to be made of them, to excite serious reflections, and to produce lessons of morality in those who see them. This they conceive to be best done by depriving the dead body of all ornaments and outward honours. For, stripped in this manner, they conceive it to approach the nearest to its native worthlessness or dust. Such funerals, therefore, may excite in the spectator a deep sense of the low and debased condition of man. And his feelings will be pure on the occasion, because they will be unmixed with the consideration of the artificial distinctions of human life. The spectator too will be more likely, if he sees all go undistinguished to the grave, to deduce for himself the moral lesson, that there is no true elevation of one above another, only as men follow the practical duties of virtue and religion. But what serious reflections, or what lessons of morality, on the other hand, do the funerals of the world produce, if accompanied with pomp and splendour? To those who have sober and serious minds, they produce a kind of pity, that is mingled with disgust. In those of a ludicrous turn, they provoke ludicrous ideas, when they see a dead body attended with such extravagant parade. To the vulgar and the ignorant no one useful lesson is given. Their senses are all absorbed in the show; and the thoughts of the worthlessness of man, as well as of death and the grave, which ought naturally to suggest themselves on such occasions, are swallowed up in the grandeur and pageantry of the procession. Funerals, therefore, of this kind, are calculated to throw honour upon riches, abstractedly of moral merit; to make the creature of as much importance when dead as when alive; to lessen the humility of man; and to destroy, of course, the moral and religious feelings that should arise upon such occasions. Add to which, that such a conduct among christians must be peculiarly improper; for the christian dispensation teaches man, that he is "to work out his salvation with fear and trembling." It seems inconsistent, therefore, to accompany with all the outward signs of honour and greatness the body of a poor wretch, who has had this difficult and awful task to perform, and who is on his last earthly journey, previously to his appearance before the tribunal of the Almighty to be judged for the deeds which he has committed in the flesh.
Actuated by such sentiments as these, the Quakers have discarded all parade at their funerals. When they die, they are buried in a manner singularly plain. The corpse is deposited in a plain coffin. When carried to the meeting-house or grave-yard, it is attended by relations and friends. These have nothing different at this time in their external garments from their ordinary dress. Neither man nor horse is apparelled for the purpose. All pomp and parade, however rich the deceased may have been, are banished from their funeral processions. The corpse, at length, arrives at the meeting-house. It is suffered to remain there in the sight of the spectators. The congregation then sit in silence, as at a meeting for worship. If any one feels himself induced to speak, he delivers himself accordingly; if not, no other rite is used at this time. In process of time the coffin is taken out of the meeting-house, and carried to the grave. Many of the acquaintances of the deceased, both Quakers and others, follow it. It is at length placed by the side of the grave. A solemn, silent pause, immediately takes place. It is then interred. Another shorter pause then generally follows. These pauses are made, that the "spectators may be more deeply touched with a sense of their approaching exit, and their future state." If a minister or other person, during these pauses, have any observation or exhortation to make, which is frequently the case, he makes it. If no person should feel himself impressed to speak, the assembled persons depart. The act of seeing the body deposited in the grave, is the last public act of respect which the Quakers show to their deceased relations. This is the whole process of a Quaker-funeral.
[Footnote 2: It is sometimes buried without being carried there.]
Quakers use no vaults in their burying-grounds—Relations sometimes buried near each other, but oftener otherwise—They use no tomb-stones or monumental inscriptions—Reasons for this disuse—But they sometimes record accounts of the lives, deaths, and dying sayings, of their Ministers.
The Quakers, in the infancy of their institution, were buried in their gardens, or orchards, or in the fields and premises of one another. They had at that time no grave-yards of their own; and they refused to be buried in those of the church, lest they should thus acknowledge the validity of an human appointment of the priesthood, the propriety of payment for gospel-labour, and the peculiar holiness of consecrated ground. This refusal to be buried within the precincts of the church, was considered as the bearing of their testimony for truth. In process of time they raised their own meeting-houses, and had their respective burying places. But these were not always contiguous, but sometimes at a distance from one another, The Quakers have no sepulchres or arched vaults under ground for the reception of their dead. There has been here and there a vault, and there is here and there a grave with sides of brick; but the coffins, containing their bodies, are usually committed to the dust.
I may observe also, that the Quakers are sometimes buried near their relations, but more frequently otherwise. In places where the Quaker-population is thin, and the burial ground large, a relation is buried next to a relation, if it be desired. In other places, however, the graves are usually dug in rows, and the bodies deposited in them, not as their relations lie, but as they happen to be opened in succession without any attention to family connexions. When the first grave in the row is opened and filled, the person who dies next, is put into that which is next to it; and the person who dies next, occupies that which is next to the second. It is to many an endearing thought, that they shall lie after their death, near the remains of those whom they loved in life. But the Quakers, in general, have not thought it right or wise to indulge such feelings. They believe that all good men, however their bodies may be separated in their subterraneous houses of clay, will assuredly meet at the resurrection of the just.
[Footnote 3: By this process a small piece of ground is longer in filling, no room being lost, and the danger and disagreeable necessity of opening graves before the bodies in them are decayed, is avoided.]
The Quakers also reject the fashions of the world in the use of tomb-stones and monumental inscriptions. These are generally supposed to be erected out of respect to the memory or character of the deceased. The Quakers, however, are of opinion, that this is not the proper manner of honouring the dead. If you wish to honour a good man, who has departed this life, let all his good actions live in your memory; let them live in your grateful love and esteem; so cherish them in your heart, that they may constantly awaken you to imitation. Thus you will show, by your adoption of his amiable example, that you really respect his memory. This is also that tribute, which, if he himself could be asked in the other world how he would have his memory respected in this, he would prefer to any description of his virtues, that might be given by the ablest writer, or handed down to posterity by the ablest monument of the sculptor's art.
But the Quakers have an objection to the use of tomb-stones and monumental inscriptions, for other reasons. For, where pillars of marble, abounding with panegyric, and decorated in a splendid manner, are erected to the ashes of dead men, there is a danger, lest, by making too much of these, a superstitious awe should be produced, and a superstitious veneration should attach to them. The early Christians, by making too much of the relics of their saints or pious men, fell into such errors.
The Quakers believe, again, that if they were to allow the custom of these outward monuments to obtain among them, they might be often led, as the world is, and by the same causes, to a deviation from the truth; for it is in human nature to praise those whom we love, but more particularly when we have lost them. Hence, we find often such extravagant encomiums upon the dead, that if it were possible for these to be made acquainted with them, they would show their disapprobation of such records. Hence we find also, that "as false as an epitaph," has become a proverbial expression.
But even in the case where nothing more is said upon the tomb-stone than what Moses said of Seth, and of Enos, and of Cainan, and others, when he reckoned up the genealogy of Adam, namely, that "they lived and that they died," the Quakers do not approve of such memorials. For these convey no merit of the deceased, by which his example should be followed. They convey no lesson of morality: and in general they are not particularly useful. They may serve perhaps to point out to surviving relations, the place where the body of the deceased was buried, so that they may know where to mark out the line for their own graves. But as the Quakers in general have overcome the prejudice of "sleeping with their fathers," such memorials cannot be so useful to them.
The Quakers, however, have no objection, if a man has conducted himself particularly well in life, that a true statement should be made concerning him, provided such a statement would operate as a lesson of morality to others; but they think that the tomb-stone is not the best medium of conveying it. They are persuaded that very little moral advantage is derived to the cursory readers of epitaphs, or that they can trace their improvement in morals to this source. Sensible, however, that the memorials of good men may be made serviceable to the rising generation, ("and there are no ideas, says Addison, which strike more forcibly on our imaginations, than those which are raised from reflections upon the exits of great and excellent men,") they are willing to receive accounts of the lives, deaths, and remarkable dying sayings, of those ministers in their own society, who have been eminent for their labours. These are drawn up by individuals, and presented to the monthly meetings, to which the deceased belonged. But here they must undergo an examination before they are passed. The truth of the statement, and the utility of the record, must appear. It then falls to the quarterly meetings to examine them again, and these may alter, or pass, or reject them, as it may appear to be most proper. If these should pass them, they are forwarded to the yearly meeting. Many of them, after this, are printed; and, finding their way into the bookcases of the Quakers, they become collected essays of morality, and operate as incitements to piety to the rising youth. Thus the memorials of men are made useful by the Quakers in an unobjectionable manner; for the falsehood and flattery of epitaphs are thus avoided; none but good men having been selected, whose virtues, if they are recorded, can be perpetuated with truth.
They discard also mourning garments—These are only emblems of sorrow—and often make men pretend to be what they are not—This contrary to Christianity—Thus they may become little better than disguised pomp, or fashionable forms—This instanced in the changes and duration of common mourning—and in the custom also of court-mourning —Ramifications of the latter.
As the Quakers neither allow of the tomb-stones, nor the monumental inscriptions, so they do not allow of the mourning garments of the world.
They believe there can be no true sorrow but in the heart, and that there can be no other true outward way of showing it than by fulfilling the desires, and by imitating the best actions, of those whom men have lost and loved. "The mourning, says William Penn, which it is fit for a Christian to have on the departure of beloved relations and friends, should be worn in the mind, which is only sensible of the loss. And the love which men have had to these, and their remembrance of them, should be outwardly expressed by a respect to their advice, and care of those they have left behind them, and their love of that which they loved."
But mourning garments, the Quakers contend, are only emblems of sorrow. They will therefore frequently be used, where no sorrow is. Many persons follow their deceased relatives to the grave, whose death, in point of gain, is a matter of real joy; witness young spendthrifts, who have been raising sum after sum on expectation, and calculating with voracious anxiety, the probable duration of their relations' lives. And yet all these follow the corpse to the grave, with white handkerchiefs, mourning habits, slouched hats, and dangling hat-bands. Mourning garments, therefore, frequently make men pretend to be what they are not. But no true or consistent Christian can exhibit an outward appearance to the world, which his inward feelings do not justify.
It is not contended here by the Quakers, that because a man becomes occasionally a hypocrite, this is a sufficient objection against any system; for a man may be an Atheist even in a Quaker's garb. Nor is it insinuated, that individuals do not sometimes feel in their hearts, the sorrow which they purpose to signify by their clothing. But it is asserted to be true, that men who use mourning habits as they are generally used, do not wear them for those deceased persons only whom they loved, and abstain from the use of them where they had no esteem, but that they wear them promiscuously on all the occasions which have been dictated by fashion. Mourning habits therefore, in consequence of a long system of etiquette, have become, in the opinion of the Quakers, but little better than disguised pomp, or fashionable forms.
I shall endeavour to throw some light upon this position of the Quakers, by looking into the practice of the world.
In the first place, there are seasons there, when full mourning, and seasons when only half mourning, is to be worn. Thus the habit is changed, and for no other reason, than that of conformity with the laws of fashion. The length of this time also, or season of mourning, is made to depend upon the scale of men's affinity to the deceased; though nothing can be more obvious, than that men's affection for the living, and that their sorrow for them when dead, cannot be measured by this standard. Hence the very time that a man shall mourn, and the very time that he shall only half-mourn, and the very time that he shall cease to mourn, is fixed for him by the world, whatever may be the duration of his own sorrow.
In court-mourning also, we have an instance of men being instructed to mourn, where their feelings are neither interested nor concerned. In this case, the disguised pomp, spoken of by the Quakers, will be more apparent. Two princes have perhaps been fighting with each other for a considerable portion of their reigns. The blood of their subjects has been spilled, and their treasures have been exhausted. They have probably had, during all this time, no kind disposition one towards another, each considering the other as the aggressor, or as the author of the war. When both have been wearied out with expense, they have made peace. But they have still mutual jealousies and fears. At length one of them dies. The other, on receiving an express relative to the event, orders mourning for the deceased for a given time. As other potentates receive the intelligence, they follow the example. Their several levees or drawing-rooms, or places of public audience, are filled with mourners. Every individual of each sex, who is accustomed to attend them, is now habited in black. Thus a round of mourning is kept up by the courtiers of Europe, not by means of any sympathetic beating of the heart, but at the sound, as it were, of the postman's horn.
But let us trace this species of mourning farther, and let us now more particularly look at the example of our own country for the elucidation of the point in question. The same Gazette, which gave birth to this black influenza at court, spreads it still farther. The private gentlemen of the land undertake to mourn also. You see them accordingly in the streets, and in private parties, and at public places, in their mourning habits. Nor is this all. Military officers, who have fought against the armies of the deceased, wear black crapes over their arms in token of the same sorrow.
But the fever does not stop even here. It still spreads, and in tracing its progress, we find it to have attacked our merchants. Yes, the disorder has actually got upon change. But what have I said? Mourning habits upon change! Where the news of an army cut to pieces, produces the most cheerful countenances in many, if it raises the stocks but an half per cent. Mourning habits upon change, where contracts are made for human flesh and blood! Where plans that shall consign cargoes of human beings to misery and untimely death, and their posterity to bondage, are deliberately formed and agreed upon! O sorrow, sorrow! what hast thou to do upon change, except in the case of commercial losses, or disappointed speculation! But to add to this disguised pomp, as the Quakers call it, not one of ten thousand of the mourners, ever saw the deceased prince; and perhaps ninety nine in the hundred, of all who heard of him, reprobated his character when alive.
Occupations of the Quakers—Agriculture declining among them—Probable reasons of this decline—Country congenial to the quietude of mind required by their religion—Sentiments of Cowper—Congenial also to the improvement of their moral feelings—Sentiments of William Penn—Particularly suited to them as lovers of the animal creation.
The Quakers generally bring up their children to some employment. They believe that these, by having an occupation, may avoid evils, into which they might otherwise fall, if they had upon their hands an undue proportion of vacant time. "Friends of all degrees, says the book of extracts, are advised to take due care to breed up their children in some useful and necessary employment, that they may not spend their precious time in idleness, which is of evil example, and tends much to their hurt."
The Quakers have been described to be a domestic people, and as peculiarly cherishing domestic happiness. Upon this principle it is, combined with the ties of their discipline and peculiar customs, that we scarcely find any of this society quitting their country, except for America, to reside in foreign parts. If it be a charge against the Quakers, that they are eager in the pursuit of wealth, let it at least be mentioned in their favour, that, in their accumulation of it, they have been careful not to suffer their knowledge to take advantage of the ignorance of others, and to keep their hands clear of the oppression, and of the blood of their fellow-creatures.
In looking among the occupations of the Quakers, we shall find some, who are brought up as manufacturers and mechanics; but the number of these is small.
Others, but these are few, follow the sea. There may be here and there a mate or captain in the coasting employ. In America, where they have great local and other advantages, there may be more in the seafaring line. But, in general, the Quakers are domestic characters, and prefer home.
There are but few also, who follow the professions. Their education and their religion exclude them from some of these. Some, however, are to be found in the department of medicine: and others, as conveyancers, in the law.
Several of the Quakers follow agriculture. But these are few, compared with the rest of the society, or compared with the number of those who formerly followed a rural life. Almost all the Quakers were originally in the country, and but few of them in the towns. But this order of things is reversing fast. They are flocking into the towns, and are abandoning agricultural pursuits.
The reasons, which may be given for this change, may be the following. It is not at all unlikely but that tithes may have had some influence in producing it. I am aware, however, it will be said, that a Quaker, living in the country, and strongly principled against these, would think it a dereliction of his duty to leave it on this account, and would remain upon the principle, that an abode there, under the annual exercise of his testimony, would, in a religions point of view, add strength to his strength. But it must be observed; on the other hand, that where men are not obliged to remain under grievous evils, and can get rid of them, merely by changing their occupation in life, and this honourably, it is in human nature to do it. And so far tithes, I believe, have had an influence, in driving the Quakers into the towns. Of later years, as the society has grown thinner in the country, I believe new reasons have sprung up; for the Quakers have had less opportunity of society with one another. They have been subjected, also to greater inconvenience in attending their religious meetings. Their children also have been more exposed to improper connexions in marriage. To which it may be added, that the large and rapid profits frequently made in trade, compared with the generally small and slow returns from agricultural concerns, may probably have operated with many, as an inducement to such a change.
But whatever reasons may have induced them to quit the country, and to settle in the towns, no temporal advantages can make up to them, as a society, the measure of their loss. For when we consider that the Quakers never partake of the amusements of the world; that their worldly pleasures are chiefly of a domestic nature; that calmness, and quietude, and abstraction from worldly thoughts, to which rural retirement is peculiarly favourable, is the state of mind which they themselves acknowledge to be required by their religion, it would seem that the country was peculiarly the place for their habitations.
It would seem, also as if, by this forsaking of the country, they had deprived themselves of many opportunities of the highest enjoyment of which they are capable as Quakers. The objects in the country are peculiarly favourable to the improvement of morality in the exercise of the spiritual feelings. The bud and the blossom, the rising and the falling leaf, the blade of corn and the ear, the seed time and the harvest, the sun that warms and ripens, the cloud that cools and emits the fruitful shower; these, and an hundred objects, afford daily food for the religious growth of the mind. Even the natural man is pleased with these. They excite in him natural ideas, and produce in him a natural kind of pleasure. But the spiritual man experiences a sublimer joy. He sees none of these without feeling both spiritual improvement and delight. It is here that he converses with the Deity in his works: It is here that he finds himself grateful for his goodness—that he acknowledges his wisdom—that he expresses his admiration of his power.
The poet Cowper, in his contemplation of a country life, speaks forcibly on this subject.
"O friendly to the best pursuits of man, Friendly to thought, to virtue, and to peace, Domestic life, in rural leisure pass'd! Few know thy value, and few taste thy sweets; Though many boast thy favours, and affect To understand and choose these for their own But foolish man forgoes his proper bliss, Ev'n as his first progenitor, and quits, Though plac'd in Paradise, (for earth has still Some traces of her youthful beauty left,) Substantial happiness for transient joy. Scenes form'd for contemplation, and to nurse The growing seeds of wisdom, that suggest By every pleasing image they present, Reflections, such as meliorate the heart, Compose the passions, and exalt the mind."
William Penn, in the beautiful letter which he left his wife and children before his first voyage to America, speaks also in strong terms upon the point in question.
"But agriculture, says he, is especially in my eye. Let my children be husbandmen and housewives. This occupation is industrious, healthy, honest, and of good example. Like Abraham and the holy ancients, who pleased God, and obtained a good report, this leads to consider the works of God, and nature of things that are good, and diverts the mind from being taken up with the vain arts and inventions of a luxurious world." And a little farther on he says, "Of cities and towns, of concourse beware. The world is apt to stick close to those, who have lived and got wealth there. A country life and estate, I like best for my children. I prefer a decent mansion of a hundred pounds a year, to ten thousand pounds in London, or such like place, in the way of trade."
To these observations it may he added, that the country, independently of the opportunity it affords for calmness and quietude of mind, and the moral improvement of it in the exercise of the spiritual feelings, is peculiarly fitted for the habitation of the Quakers, on account of their peculiar love for the animal creation. It would afford them a wide range for the exercise of this love, and the improvement of the benevolent affections. For tenderness, if encouraged, like a plant that is duly watered, still grows. What man has ever shown a proper affection for the brute creation, who has been backward in his love of the human race?
Trade—Trade seldom considered as a question of morals—But Quakers view it in this light—Prohibit the slave-trade—Privateering —Manufactories of weapons of war—Also trade where the revenue is defrauded—Hazardous enterprises—Fictitious paper—Insist upon punctuality to words and engagements—Advise an annual inspection of their own affairs—Regulations in case of bankruptcy.
I stated in the last chapter, that some of the Quakers, though these were few in number, were manufacturers and mechanics; that others followed the sea; that, others were to be found in the medical profession, and in the law; and that others were occupied in the concerns of a rural life. I believe with these few exceptions, that the rest of the society may be considered as engaged in trade.
Trade is a subject, which seldom comes under the discussion of mankind as a moral question. If men who follow it, are honest and punctual in their dealings, little is thought of the nature of their occupations, or of the influence of these upon their minds. It will hardly, however, be denied by moralists, that the buying and selling of commodities for profit, is surrounded with temptation, and is injurious to pure, benevolent, or disinterested feelings; or that where the mind is constantly intent upon the gaining of wealth, by traffic, it is dangerously employed. Much less will it be denied, that trade is an evil, if any of the branches of it through which men acquire their wealth, are productive of mischief either to themselves or others. If they are destructive to the health of the inferior agents, or to the morality of any of the persons concerned in them, they can never be sanctioned by Christianity.
The Quakers have thought it their duty, as a religious body, to make several regulations on this subject.
In the first place they have made it a rule, that no person, acknowledged to be in profession with them, shall have any concern in the slave-trade.
The Quakers began to consider this subject, as a Christian body, so early as in the beginning of the last century. In the year 1727, they passed a public censure upon this trade. In the year 1758, and afterwards in the year 1761, they warned and exhorted all in profession with them "to keep their hands clear of this unrighteous gain of oppression." In the yearly meeting of 1763, they renewed their exhortation in the following words: "We renew our exhortation, that Friends every where be especially careful to keep their hands clear of giving encouragement in any shape to the slave-trade; it being evidently destructive of the natural rights of mankind, who are all ransomed by one Saviour, and visited by one divine light in order to salvation; a traffic calculated to enrich and aggrandize some upon the miseries of others; in its nature abhorrent to every just and tender sentiment, and contrary to the whole tenour of the Gospel."
In the same manner, from the year 1763, they have publicly manifested a tender concern for the happiness of the injured Africans, and they have not only been vigilant to see that none of their own members were concerned in this impious traffic, but they have lent their assistance with other Christians in promoting its discontinuance.
They have forbidden also the trade of privateering in war. The Quakers consider the capture of private vessels by private persons, as a robbery committed on the property of others, which no human authority can make reconcileable to the consciences of honest individuals. And upon this motive they forbid it, as well as upon that of their known profession against war.
They forbid also the trade of the manufacturing of gun-powder, and of arms or weapons of war, such as swords, guns, pistols, bayonets, and the like, that they may stand clear of the charge of having made any instrument, the avowed use of which is the destruction of human life.
They have forbidden also all trade, that has for its object the defrauding of the king either of his customs or his excise. They are not only not to smuggle themselves, but they are not to deal in such goods as they know, or such as they even suspect, to be smuggled; nor to buy any article of this description, even for their private use. This prohibition is enjoined, because all Christians ought "to render to Caesar the things that are Caesars," in all cases where their consciences do not suffer by doing it: because those, who are accessory to smuggling, give encouragement to perjury and bloodshed, these being frequently the attendants of such unlawful practices; and because they do considerable injury to the honest trader.
They discourage also concerns in "hazardous enterprises," in the way of trade. Such enterprisses are apt to disturb the tranquillity of the mind, and to unfit if for religious exercise. They may involve also the parties concerned, and their families, in ruin. They may deprive them again of the means of paying their just debts, and thus render them injurious to their creditors. Members, therefore, are advised to be rather content with callings which may produce small but certain profits, than to hazard the tranquillity of their minds, and the property of themselves and others.
In the exercise of those callings which are deemed lawful by the society, two things are insisted upon: first, that their members "never raise and circulate any fictitious kind of paper credit, with endorsements and acceptances, to give it an appearance of value without an intrinsic reality:" secondly, that they should be particularly attentive to their words, and to the punctual performance of their engagements, and on no account delay their payments beyond the time they have promised. The society have very much at heart the enforcement of the latter injunction, not only because all christians are under an obligation to do these things, but because they wish to see the high reputation of their ancestors, in these respects, preserved among those of their own day. The early Quakers were noted for a scrupulous attention to their duty, as Christians, in their commercial concerns. One of the great clamours against them, in the infancy of their institution, was, that they would get all the trade. It was nothing but their great honour in their dealings, arising from religious principle, that gave birth to this uproar, or secured them a more than ordinary portion of the custom of the world in the line of their respective trades.
Among other regulations made by the Quakers on the subject of trade, it is advised publicly to the members of the society, to inspect the state of their affairs once a year. And lest this advice should be disregarded, the monthly meetings are directed to make annual appointments of suitable Friends to communicate it to the members individually. But independently of this public recommendation, they are earnestly advised by their book of extracts, to examine their situations frequently. This is done with a view, that they may see how they stand with respect to themselves and the world at large; that they may not launch out into commercial concerns beyond their strength, nor live beyond their income, nor go on longer in their business than they can pay their debts.
If a Quaker, after this inspection of his affairs, should find himself unable to pay his just debts, he is immediately to disclose his affairs to some judicious members of the society, or to his principal creditors, and to take their advice how he is to act; but to be particularly careful not to pay one creditor in preference to another.
When a person of the society becomes a bankrupt, a committee is appointed by his own monthly meeting, to confer with him on his affairs. If the bankruptcy should appear, by their report, to have been the result of misconduct, he is disowned. He may, however, on a full repentance, (for it is a maxim with the society, that "true repentance washes put all stains,") and by a full payment of every man his own, be admitted into membership again; or if he has begun to pay his creditors, and has made arrangements satisfactory to the society for paying them, he may be received as a member, even before the whole of the debt is settled.
If it should appear, on the other hand, that the bankruptcy was the unavoidable result of misfortune, and not of imprudence, he is allowed to continue in the society.
But in either of these cases, that is, where a man is disowned and restored, or where he has not been disowned at all, he is never considered as a member, entitled to every privilege of the society, till he has paid the whole of the debts. And the Quakers are so strict upon this point, that if a person has paid ten shillings in the pound, and his creditors have accepted the composition, and the law has given him his discharge, it is insisted upon that he pays the remaining ten as soon as he is able. No distance of time will be any excuse to the society for his refusal to comply with this honourable law. Nor will he be considered as a full member, as I observed before, till he has paid the uttermost farthing; for no collection for the poor, nor any legacy for the poor, or for other services of the society, will be received from his purse, while any thing remains of the former debt. This rule of refusing charitable contributions on such occasions, is founded on the principle that money, taken from a man in such a situation, is taken from his lawful creditors; and that such a man can have nothing to give, while he owes any thing to another.
It may be observed of this rule or custom, that as it is founded in moral principle, so it tends to promote a moral end. When persons of this description see their own donations dispensed with, but those of the rest of the meeting taken, they are reminded of their own situation, and of the desirableness of making the full satisfaction required. The custom, therefore, operates as a constant memento, that their debts are still hanging over them, and prompts to new industry and anxious exertion for their discharge. There are many instances of Quakers, who have paid their composition as others do, but who, after a lapse of many years, have surprised their former creditors by bringing them the remaining amount of their former debts. Hence the Quakers are often enabled to say, what few others can say on the same subject, that they are not ultimately hurtful to mankind, either by their errors, or by their misfortunes.
But though the Quakers have made these regulations, the world find fault with many of their trades or callings—Several of these specified—Standard proposed by which to examine them—Some of these censurable by this standard—and given up by many Quakers on this account, though individuals may still follow them.
But though the Quakers have made these beautiful regulations concerning trade, it is manifest that the world are not wholly satisfied with their conduct on this subject. People charge them with the exercise of improper callings, or of occupations inconsistent with the principles they profess.
It is well known that the Quakers consider themselves as a highly professing people; that they declaim against the follies and vanities of the world; and that they bear their testimony against civil customs and institutions, even to personal suffering. Hence, professing more than others, more is expected from them. George Fox endeavoured to inculcate this idea into his new society. In his letter to the yearly meeting in 1679, he expresses himself as follows: "The world also does expect more from Friends than from other people, because they profess more. Therefore you should be more just than others in your words and dealings, and more righteous, holy, and pure, in your lives and conversations; so that your lives and conversations may preach. For the world's tongues and mouths have preached long enough; but their lives and conversations have denied what their tongues have professed and declared." I may observe, therefore, that the circumstance of a more than ordinary profession of consistency, and not any supposed immorality on the part of the Quakers, has brought them, in the instances alluded to, under the censure of the world. Other people, found in the same trades or occupations, are seldom noticed as doing wrong. But when men are set as lights upon a hill, blemishes will be discovered in them, which will be overlooked among those who walk in the vale below.
The trades or occupations which are usually condemned as improper for Quakers to follow, are numerous. I shall not therefore specify them all. Those, however, which I purpose to select for mention, I shall accompany with all the distinctions which equity demands on the occasion.
The trade of a distiller, or of a spirit-merchant, is considered as objectionable if in the hands of a Quaker.
That of a cotton manufacturer, who employs a number of poor children in the usual way, or in a way which is destructive to their morals and to their health, is considered as equally deserving of censured.
[Footnote 4: Poor children are frequently sent by parishes to cotton-mills. Little or no care is taken of their morals. The men, when grown up, frequently become drunken, and the girls debauched. But the evil does not stop here. The progeny of these, vitiated by the drunkenness and debauchery of their parents, have generally diseased and crippled constitutions, which they perpetuate to a new generation; after which the whole race, I am told, generally becomes extinct. What Christian can gain wealth at the expense of the health, morals, and happiness of his fellow-creatures?]
There is a calling which is seldom followed by itself: I mean the furnishing of funerals, or the serving of the pall. This is generally in the hands of Cabinet-makers, or of Upholsterers, or of woollen-drapers. Now if any Quaker should be found in any of these occupations, and if he should unite with these that of serving the pall, he would be considered by such an union, as following an objectionable trade. For the Quakers having discarded all the pomp, and parade, and dress, connected with funerals, from their own practice, and this upon moral principles, it is insisted upon, that they ought not to be accessary to the promotion of such ceremonials among others.
The trade of a printer, or bookseller, when exercised by a Quaker, has not escaped the animadversions of the world. A distinction, however, must be made here. They who condemn this calling, can never do it justly, but in supposed cases. They must suppose, for example, that the persons in question follow these callings generally, or that they do not make an exception with respect to the printing or selling of such books as may convey poison to the morals of those who read them.
A Quaker-tailor is considered as a character, which cannot consistently exist. But a similar distinction must be made here as in a former case. The world cannot mean that if a Quaker confines himself to the making of clothes for his own society, he is reproachable for so doing; but only if he makes clothes for every one without distinction, following, as he is ordered, all the varying fashions of the world.
A Quaker-hatter is looked upon in the same light as a Quaker-tailor. But here a distinction suggests itself again. If he make only plain and useful hats for the community and for other Quakers, it cannot be understood that he is acting inconsistently with his religious profession. The charge can only lie against him, where he furnishes the hat with the gold and the silver-lace, or the lady's riding-hat with its ornaments, or the military hat with its lace, cockade, and plumes. In this case he will be considered as censurable by many, because he will be looked upon as a dealer in the superfluities condemned by his own religion.
The last occupation I shall notice is that of a silversmith. And here the censure will depend upon a contingency also. If a Quaker confines himself to the selling of plain silver articles for use, little objection can be raised against his employ. But if, in addition to this, he sells goldheaded canes, trinkets, rings, ear-rings, bracelets, jewels, and other ornaments of the person, he will be considered as chargeable with the same inconsistency as the follower of the former trade.
In examining these and other occupations of the Quakers, with a view of seeing how far the objections which have been advanced against them are valid, I own I have a difficult task to perform. For what standard shall I fix upon, or what limits shall I draw upon this occasion? The objections are founded in part upon the principle, that Quakers ought not to sell those things, of which their own practice shows that they disapprove. But shall I admit this principle without any limitation or reserve? Shall I say without any reserve, that a Quaker-woman, who discards the use of a simple ribbon from her dress, shall not sell it to another female, who has been constantly in the habit of using it, and this without any detriment to her mind? Shall I say again, without any reserve, that a Quaker-man who discards the use of black cloth, shall not sell a yard of it to another? And, if I should say so, where am I to stop? Shall I not be obliged to go over all the colours in his shop, and object to all but the brown and the drab? Shall I say again, without any reserve, that a Quaker cannot sell any thing which is innocent in itself, without inquiring of the buyer its application or its use? And if I should say so, might I not as well say, that no Quaker can be in trade? I fear that to say this, would be to get into a labyrinth, out of which there would be no clew to guide us.
Difficult, however, as the task may seem, I think I may lay down three positions, which will probably not be denied, and which, if admitted, will assist us in the determination of the question before us. The first of these is, that no Quaker can be concerned in the sale of a thing, which is evil in itself. Secondly, that he cannot encourage the sale of an article, which he knows to be essentially, or very generally, that is, in seven cases out of ten, productive of evil. And, thirdly, that he cannot sell things which he has discarded from his own use, if he has discarded them on a belief that they are specifically forbidden by Christianity, or that they are morally injurious to the human mind.
If these positions be acknowledged, they will give ample latitude for the condemnation of many branches of trade.
A Quaker-bookseller, according to these positions, cannot sell a profane or improper book.
A Quaker spirit-merchant cannot sell his liquor but to those whom he believes will use it in moderation, or medicinally, or on proper occasions.
A Quaker, who is a manufacturer of cotton, cannot exercise his occupation but upon an amended plan.
A Quaker-silversmith cannot deal in any splendid ornaments of the person.
The latter cannot do this for the following reasons. The Quakers reject all such ornaments, because they believe them to be specifically condemned by Christianity. The words of the apostles Paul and Peter, have been quoted both by Fox, Penn, Barclay, and others, upon this subject. But surely, if the Christian religion positively condemns the use of them in one, it condemns the use of them in another. And how can any one, professing this religion, sell that, the use of which he believes it to have forbidden? The Quakers also have rejected all ornaments of the person, as we find by their own writers, on account of their immoral tendency; or because they are supposed to be instrumental in puffing up the creature, or in the generation of vanity and pride. But if they have rejected the use of them upon this principle, they are bound, as Christians, to refuse to sell them to others. Christian love, and the Christian obligation to do as we would wish to be done by, positively enjoin this conduct. For no man, consistently with this divine law and obligation, can sow the seeds of moral disease in his neighbour's mind.
And here I may observe, that though there are trades, which may be innocent in themselves, yet Quakers may make them objectionable by the manner in which they may conduct themselves in disposing of the articles which belong to them. They can never pass them off, as other people do, by the declaration that they are the fashionable articles of the day. Such words ought never to come out of Quakers' mouths; not so much because their own lives are a living protest against the fashions of the world, as because they cannot knowingly be instrumental in doing a moral injury to others. For it is undoubtedly the belief of the Quakers, as I had occasion to observe in a former volume, that the following of such fashions, begets a worldly spirit, and that in proportion as men indulge this spirit, they are found to follow the loose and changeable morality of the world, instead of the strict and steady morality of the gospel.
That some such positions as these may be fixed upon for the farther regulation of commercial concerns among the Quakers, is evident, when we consider the example of many estimable persons in this society.
The Quakers, in the early times of their institution, were very circumspect about the nature of their occupations, and particularly as to dealing in superfluities and ornaments of the person. Gilbert Latey was one of those who bore his public testimony against them. Though he was only a tailor, he was known and highly respected by king James the Second. He would not allow his servants to put any corruptive finery upon the clothes which he had been ordered to make for others. From Gilbert Latey I may pass to John Woolman. In examining the Journal of the latter I find him speaking thus: "It had been my general practice to buy and sell things really useful. Things that served chiefly to please the vain mind in people, I was not easy to trade in; seldom did it; and whenever I did, I found it weaken me as a Christian." And from John Woolman I might mention the names of many, and, if delicacy did not forbid me, those of Quakers now living, who relinquished or regulated their callings, on an idea, that they could not consistently follow them at all, or that they could not follow them according to the usual manner of the world. I knew the relation of a Quaker-distiller, who left off his business upon principle. I was intimate with a Quaker-bookseller. He did not give up his occupation, for this was unnecessary; but he was scrupulous about the selling of an improper book. Another friend of mine, in the society, succeeded but a few years ago to a draper's shop. The furnishing of funerals had been a profitable part of the employ. But he refused to be concerned in this branch of it, wholly owing to his scruples about it. Another had been established as a silversmith for many years, and had traded in the ornamental part of the business, but he left it wholly, though advantageously situated, for the same reason, and betook himself to another trade. I know other Quakers, who have held other occupations, not usually objectionable by the world, who have become uneasy about them, and have relinquished them in their turn. These noble instances of the dereliction of gain, where it has interfered with principle, I feel it only justice to mention in this place. It is an homage due to Quakerism; for genuine Quakerism will always produce such instances. No true Quaker will remain in any occupation, which he believes it improper to pursue. And I hope, if there are Quakers, who mix the sale of objectionable with that of the other articles of their trade, it is because they have entered into this mixed business, without their usual portion of thought, or that the occupation itself has never come as an improper occupation before their minds.
Upon the whole, it must be stated that it is wholly owing to the more than ordinary professions of the Quakers, as a religious body, that the charges in question have been exhibited against such individuals among them, as have been found in particular trades. If other people had been found in the same callings, the same blemishes would not have been so apparent. And if others had been found in the same, callings, and it had been observed of these, that they had made all the beautiful regulations which I have shown the Quakers to have done on the subject of trade, these blemishes would have been removed from the usual range of the human vision. They would have been like the spots in the sun's disk, which are hid from the observation of the human eye, because they are lost in the superior beauty of its blaze. But when the Quakers have been looked at solely as Quakers, or as men of high religious profession, these blemishes have become conspicuous. The moon, when it eclipses the sun, appears as a blemish in the body of that luminary. So a public departure from publicly professed principles will always be noticed, because it will be an excrescence or blemish, too large and protuberant, to be overlooked in the moral character.
Settlement of differences—Quakers, when they differ, abstain from violence—No instance of a duel—George For protested against going to law, and Recommended arbitration-Laws relative to arbitration—Account of an arbitration-society, at Newcastle upon Tyne, on Quaker-principles —Its dissolution—Such societies might be usefully promoted.
Men are so constituted by nature, and their mutual intercourse is such, that circumstances must unavoidably arise, which will occasion differences. These differences will occasionally rouse the passions; and, after all, they will still be to be settled. The Quakers, like other men, have their differences. But you rarely see any disturbance of the temper on this account. You rarely hear intemperate invectives. You are witness to no blows. If in the courts of law you have never seen their characters stained by convictions for a breach of the marriage-contract, or the crime of adultery; so neither have you seen them disgraced by convictions for brutal violence, or that most barbarous of all Gothic customs, the duel.
It is a lamentable fact, when we consider that we live in an age, removed above eighteen hundred years from the first promulgation of Christianity, one of the great objects of which was to insist upon the subjugation of the passions, that our children should not have been better instructed, than that we should now have to behold men, of apparently good education, settling their disputes by an appeal to arms. It is difficult to conceive what preposterous principles can actuate men, to induce them to such a mode of decision. Justice is the ultimate wish of every reasonable man in the termination of his casual differences with others, But, in the determination of cases by the sword, the injured man not unfrequently falls, while the aggressor sometimes adds to his offence, by making a widow or an orphan, and by the murder of of a fellow-creature. But it is possible the duellist may conceive that he adds to his reputation by decisions of this sanguinary nature. But surely he has no other reputation with good men, than that of a weak, or a savage, or an infatuated creature; and, if he fells, he is pitied by these on no other motive than that of his folly and of his crime. What philosopher can extol his courage, who, knowing the bondage of the mind while under the dominion of fashion, believes that more courage is necessary in refusing a challenge, than in going into the field? What legislator can applaud his patriotism, when he sees him violate the laws of his country? What Christian his religion, when he reflects on the relative duties of man, on the law of lore and benevolence that should have guided him, on the principle that it is more noble to suffer than to resist, and on the circumstance, that he may put himself into the doubly criminal situation of a murderer and a suicide by the same act?