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A Portraiture of Quakerism, Volume 1 by Clarkson

Prefatory arrangementsandremarks


As

to his life, it was innocent. It is true indeed, that there were persons, high in civil offices, who, because he addressed the people in public, considered him as a disturber of the peace. But none of these ever pretended to cast a stain on his moral character. He was considered both by friends and enemies, as irreproachable in his life.

Such was the character of the founder of Quakerism, He was born in July 1624, and died on the thirteenth of November 1690, in the sixty-seventh year of his age. He had separated himself from the word in order to attend to serious things, as I observed before, at the age of nineteen, so that he had devoted himself to the exercises and services of religion for no less a period than forty-eight years. A few hours before his death, upon some friends asking him how he found himself, he replied "never heed. All is well. The seed or power of God reigns over all, and over death itself, blessed be the Lord." This answer was full of courage, and corresponded with that courage, which had been conspicuous in him during life. It contained on evidence, as manifested in his own feelings, of the tranquillity and happiness of his mind, and that the power and terrors of death had been vanquished in himself. It shewed also the ground of his courage and of his confidence. "He was full of assurance," says William Penn, "that he had triumphed over death, and so much so, even to the last, that death appeared to him hardly worth notice

or mention." Thus he departed this life, affording an instance of the truth of those words of the psalmist, "Behold the upright, for the end of that man is peace."

PREFATORY ARRANGEMENTS

AND

REMARKS.

PREFATORY ARRANGEMENTS AND REMARKS.

QUAKERISM, A HIGH PROFESSION--QUAKERS GENERALLY ALLOWED TO BE A MORAL PEOPLE--VARIOUS CAUSES OF THIS MORALITY OF CHARACTER--THEIR MORAL EDUCATION, 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 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.


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