Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

1

demned 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. have rejected the use of them upon 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.

But if they this principle,

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,

[ocr errors]

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. a tailor, he was known and king. James the Second.

Though he was only highly respected by 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 sil

versmith 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

[blocks in formation]

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.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »