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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.
HE 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 Quakerpopulation 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 be
c 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.
lieve 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.
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 ac