Изображения страниц

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 warn

ed 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. prohibition is enjoined, because all christians ought" to render to Cæsar the things that are Cæsars," in all cases where their consciences do not suffer by doing it: because those, who are accessary 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 enterpris

[blocks in formation]

ses are apt to disturb the tranquillity of the mind, and to unfit it 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,

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »