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A Portraiture of Quakerism, Volume 1 by Clarkson

Had been both admonished and disowned

The mention of this last fact leads me to the notice, and the correction, of an error, which I have found to have been taken up by individuals. It is said by these that the Quakers are very wary with respect to their disorderly members, for that when any of them behave ill, they are expelled the society in order to rescue it from the disgrace of a bad character. Thus if a Quaker woman were discovered to be a prostitute, or a Quaker man to be taken up for a criminal offence, no disgrace could attach to this society as it would to others; for if, in the course of a week, after a discovery had been made of their several offences, any person were to state that two Quaker members had become infamous, it would be retorted upon him, that they were not members of the society.

It will be proper to observe upon the subject of this error, that it is not so probable that the Quakers would disown these, after the discovery of their infamy, to get rid of any stain upon the character of the society, as it is that these persons, long before the facts could be known, had been both admonished and disowned. For there is great truth in the old maxim "Nemo fecit repente 'turpissimus;" or "no man was ever all at once a rogue."

So in the case of these persons, as of all others, they must have been vicious by degrees: they must have shewn symptoms of some deviations from rectitude, before the measure of their iniquity could have been completed. But by the constitution of Quakerism, as will appear soon, no person of the society can be found erring even for the first time, without being liable to be privately admonished. These admonitions may be repeated for weeks, or for months, or even for years, before the subjects of them are pronounced so incorrigible as to be disowned. There is great reason therefore to presume, in the case before us, though the offenders in question would have undoubtedly been disowned by the Quakers, after they were known to be such, yet that they had been disowned long before their offences had been made public.

Upon the whole it may be allowed, that young Quakers arrive at the knowledge of just sentiments, or at the true wisdom of life earlier than those, who are inured to the fashions of the world; and it may be allowed also that the Quakers, as a body, are a moral people. Now these effects will generally be considered as the result of education; and though the prohibitions of the Quakers may not be considered as the only instruments of producing these effects, yet they must be allowed to be component parts of the system, which produces them.


CHAP. I.... SECT. I.

_Discipline of two kinds--as it relates to the regulation of the internal affairs of the society--or to the cognizance of immoral conduct--difficulty of procuring obedience to moral precepts--this attempted to be obviated by George Fox--outlines of his system for this purpose--additions made to his system since his time--objections to the system considered--this system, or the discipline of the Quakers, as far as this branch of it is concerned, the great foundation-stone on which their moral education is supported._

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