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QUAKERISM, A HIGH PROFESSION QUAKERS GENERALLY ALLOWED TO BE A MORAL PEOPLE-VARIOUS causes OF THIS MORALITY OF CHARACTER THEIR MORAL EDUCA TION, WHICH IS ONE OF THEM, THE FIRST SUBJECT FOR CONSIDERATION THIS EDUCATION UNIVERSAL AMONG THEM ITS ORIGIN THE PROHIBITIONS BELONGING TO IT CHIEFLY TO BE CONSIDERED.
GEORGE FOX never gave, while living, nor
left after his death, any definition of Quakerism. He left, however, his journal behind him, and he left what is of equal importance, his example. Combining these with the sentiments and practice of the early Quakers, I may state, in a few words, what Quakerism is, or at least what we may suppose George Fox intended it to be.
Quakerism may be defined to be an attempt, under the divine influence, at practical christianity as far as it can be carried. Those, who profess it, consider
themselves bound to regulate their opinions, words, actions, and even outward demeanour, by christianity, and by christianity alone. They consider themselves bound to give up such of the customs, or fashions of men, however general, or generally approved, as militate, in any manner, against the letter or the spirit of the gospel. Hence they mix but little with the world, that they may be less liable to imbibe its spirit. Hence George Fox made a distinction between the members of his own society and others, by the different appellations of Friends, and People of the world. They consider themselves also under an obligation to follow virtue, not ordinarily, but even to the death. For they profess never to make a sacrifice of conscience, and therefore, if any ordinances of man are enjoined them, which they think to be contrary to the
divine will, they believe it right not to submit to them, but rather, after the example of the apostles and primitive christians, to suffer any loss, penalty, or inconvenience, which may result to them for so doing.
This then, in a few words, is a general definition. of (c) Quakerism. It is, as we see, a most strict profession of practical virtue under the direction of
(c) I wish to be understood, in writing this work, that I can give no account, that will be applicable to all under the name of Quakers. My account will comprehend the general practice, or that which ought to be the practice of those, who profess Quakerism.
christianity, and such as, when we consider the infirmities of human nature, and the temptations that daily surround it, it must be exceedingly difficult to fulfil. But, whatever difficulties may have lain in the way, or however, on account of the necessary weakness of human nature, the best individuals among the Quakers may have fallen below the pattern of excellence, which they have copied, nothing is more true, than that the result has been, that the whole society, as a body, have obtained from their countrymen, the character of a moral people.
If the reader be a lover of virtue, and anxious for the moral improvement of mankind, he will be de sirous of knowing what means the Quakers have used to have preserved, for a hundred and fifty years, this desirable reputation in the world.
If we were to put the question to the Quakers themselves for their own opinion upon it, I believe I can anticipate their reply. They would attribute any morality, they might be supposed to have, to the Supreme Being, whose will having been discovered by means of the scriptures, and of religious impressions upon the mind, when it has been calm, and still, and abstracted from the world, they have endeavoured to obey. But there is no doubt, that we may add, auxiliary causes of this morality, and such as the Quakers themselves would allow to have had their