« AnteriorContinuar »
and it had been observed of these, that they had made all the beautiful regulations which I have shown the Society 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 spots in the sun's disk, which are hid from the observation of the human
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 cha
CHAP tery, other
Settlement of differences--Quakers, when they dif. fer, 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-principlesIts dissolution-Such societies might be usefully promoted, Men are so constituted by nature, and the mutual intercourse between them 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 mariage-contract, or for the crime of adultery, so neither have you seen them disgraced by convictions of 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 have not been better instructed; and 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 a fellow-creature. sible, however, 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 falls, 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 bond. age
It is pos
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 love and benevolence that should have guided him, on the principle that it is more noble to suffer than 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 ?
George Fox, in his doctrine of the influ. ence of the Spirit as a divine teacher, and in that of the necessity of the subjugation of the passions, in order that the inward man might be in a fit state to receive its admonitions, left to the Society a system of education, which, if acted upon, could not fail
of producing peaceable and quiet characters ; but, foreseeing that among the best men differences would unavoidably arise from their intercourse in business and other causes, it was his desire, that these should be settled in a Christian manner. He advised there. fore that no member should appeal to law ; but that he should refer his difference to arbitration by persons of exemplary character in the Society, This mode of decision
appeared to him to be consistent with the spirit of Christianity, and with the advice of the apostle Paul, who recommended that all the differences among the Christians of his own time should be referred to the decision of the saints, or of such other Christians as were eminent for their lives and conversation.
This mode of decision, which began to take place among the Quakers in the time of George Fox, has been continued by them to the present day. Cases, where property is concerned to the amount of
thousands, are determined in no other manner. By this process they obtain their verdicts in a way peculiarly satisfactory. For law-suits are at best tedious. They