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storation, in order that our union and fellowship may be preserved, and a faithful testimony maintained to the excellency of the gospel dispensation which breathes peace on earth and good will to menit is our united concern and desire, that faithful Friends in their respective meetings, may speedily and earnestly labour, in the strength of this love, for the reclaiming of those who have thus deviated: And where it is necessary, that Quarterly meetings should appoint suitable Friends to join their assistance in the performance of this weighty service. And where such brotherly labour is so slighted and disregarded that, by persisting in this violation, they manifest that they are not convinced of our christian principles, or are actuated by a spirit and temper in opposition thereto, it is our duty to testify our disunion with them."
“And we also desire that all Friends, in this time of close probation, would be careful, in no part of their conduct to manifest an approbation or countenance to such things as are obviously contrary to our peaceable profession and principles, either as spectators or otherwise. At the same time avoiding to give just occasion of offence to any who do not make religious profession with us; manifesting that we are actuated solely by a conscientious principle and christian spirit; agreeable to the repeated cautions and advice heretofore given forth by this meeting, our meeting for sufferings, and the epistles from our brethren in Great Britain, since the commencement of the troubles which have lately arisen, and continue to prevail in these colonies."
“And as many Friends have expressed that a religious objection is raised in their minds against re
ceiving or paying certain paper bills of credit, lately issued expressly for the purpose of carrying on war; apprehending that it is a duty required of them to guard carefully against contributing thereto in any manner;-we therefore fervently desire, that such who are not convinced that it is their duty to refuse those bills, may be watchful over their own spirits, and abide in true love and charity, so that no expressions or conduct tending to the oppression of tender consciences, may appear among us. And we likewise affectionately exhort those who have this religious scruple, that they do not admit nor indulge any censure in their minds against their brethren who have not the same; carefully manifesting by the whole tenour of their conduct, that nothing is done through strife or contention, but that they act from the clear convictions of Truth in their own minds; showing forth by their meekness, humility and patient suffering, that they are followers of the Prince of peace.”
The preceding report was adopted by the Yearly Meeting and recommended to the serious observation of Friends in the several monthly and Quarterly meetings, and the practice of the members generally.
Nevertheless, on examining the minutes of a monthly meeting not far from Philadelphia, there are seventy-eight cases recorded of deviations from the peaceable principles of the gospel, during a few years of the American revolution--a large number of which resulted in disownments from society, as having "joined the military men.”
To this may be added, the formation of a society in Philadelphia and another in New England, called Free Quakers; be
ing composed of a large number of Friends who left the pacific principles of their former profession and espoused the American cause; openly avowing their opinion by their practice, and declaring that defensive war was allowable under the gospel dispensation.
With these facts before us, the inquiry arises, whát must have been the amount of dereliction from the peaceable principles of their christian profession in the whole society of Friends on this continent, extended as it then was from New Hampshire to South Carolina! What a motley picture of Quakerism was thus presented! How many departed from the society in principle and practice, and returned to it no more! And how few stood their ground with firmness and consistency in those seasons of close trial! It was an awful lesson to Friends to come out of, and to keep out of party spirit, and be separate from the mixtures and confusions of human policy and political expediency.
Now, if “like causes produce like effects;"-if “the thing that hath been is that which will be” again, whenever human policy and party spirit are suffered to prevail over christian moderation and the peaceable spirit of Christ,-however the circumstances and subjects may vary that are suffered to draw away the attention of the mind from the vital principles of the gospel,—how awful the admonition, the caution and the warning to him who thinketh he standeth, to take heed lest he fall!
ANTHONY BENEZET'S LETTERS.
To my friends in exile, Israel, John and James
Pemberton, and all others with them who love the Lord Jesus Christ, and are earnestly seeking an interest in his love.
It has not been for want of an affectionate concern for my afflicted brethren that I have not used much expression of words. Indeed the state of my natural, as well as religious powers, have been such as made it more safe for me to rest in a silent aspiration to the God and Father of mercies for our mutual preservation and strength; with an undoubted persuasion that he will, in his mercy, cause all things to work for the good of those who sincerely desire and honestly strive to be made conformable to his holy will. My prospect of what is most necessary to be generally, as well as particularly pursued, is a looking to the Hand that smites, rather than to the instruments made use of, and to know an amendment of our ways, with a continued, deeply humbled application to the Father of mercies for forgiveness and help.With the best love I am capable of, in which my wife and I. Thompson join, I remain your affectionate sympathizing friend,
Letter to J. P. Thine to thy mother Lloyd, in which thou makes a kind mention of me, came to hand. I am concerned that any discouragements I may be under may not give my afflicted brethren any reason to think I can be indifferent to, or insensible of the trying dispensation which attends themselves and families. Indeed it would be a matter of much satisfaction to me. to enlarge upon so pathetie a subject; but my mind is left very naked of any religious prospect felt in the Divine life; and a caution is renewed with me of the danger of falling into a kind of idolatry, by making to myself images and representations of things which I am possessed of more in ideal imagination than in humble reality. The only thought which occurred with plainness and continued with me, was the case of the Jews when the prophet Ezekiel so pathetically expostulated with them while captives in Babylon. This led me to look into the passage, and I observed the prophet's expostulation with them was as well on the account of their fearful defection from the path of integrity and truth, as the joyful promise of renewed favour upon humble submission and return.
I much wish we might rather lightly pass over the conduct of those who are instruments in God's hand in our sufferings; they are poor creatures under the influence of a selfish, corrupt mind, who know not what they do. But let us deeply attend to a consideration how far we, amongst others, for want of living up to what we have professed, and still do loudly profess, have contributed to the calamity which attends. We have professed to be called and redeemed from the spirit of the world—from that prevalent pride and indulgence so contrary to the low, humble, selfdenying life of Jesus Christ and his immediate followers: but have we indeed been such? Has not our conformity to the world; our engagements in life, in order to please ourselves and gain wealth, with little regard to the danger to the better part, been productive of all the evils pointed out in the gospel? Has it