Images de page

proceed upon their union, they appoint a suitable day for the solemnization of it, which is generally one of the week-day-meetings for worship. On this day, they repair to the meeting-house with their friends. The congregation, when seated, sit in silence. Perhaps some minister is induced to speak. After a suitable time has elapsed, the man and the woman rise up together, and, taking each other by the hand, declare publicly that they thus take each other as husband and wife. This constitutes their marriage. By way, however, of evidence of their union, a paper is signed by the man and woman in the presence of three witnesses, who sign it also, in which it is stated that they have so taken each other in marriage. And in addition to this, though it is not a necessary practice, another paper is generally produced and read, stating concisely the proceedings of the parties in their respective meetings, for the purpose of their marriage, and the declaration made by them as having taken each other as husband and wife. This is signed by the parties, their relatives, and frequently by many of their friends and others present. All marriages


of other dissenters are celebrated in the established churches, according to the cere But the marriages of

monies of the same.

the Quakers are valid by law in their own meeting-houses, when solemnized in this simple manner.


Quakers marrying out of the Society to be disowned -This regulation charged with pride and cruelty -Reasons for this disownment are-that mixed marriages cannot be celebrated without a violation of some of the great principles of the Societythat they are generally productive of disputes and uneasiness to those concerned-and that the discipline cannot be carried on in such families.

AMONG the regulations suggested by George Fox, and adopted by his followers, it was determined that persons belonging to the Society should not intermarry with those of other religious professions. Such a heterogeneous union was denominated a mixed marriage; and persons engaging in such mixed marriages were to be disowned.


People of other religious denominations have charged the Quakers with a more than usually censurable pride, on account of their adoption of this law. They consider them as looking down upon the rest of their fellow-creatures, as so inferior or unholy as not to deign or to dare to mix in alliance with them, or as looking upon them in the same light as the Jews considered the Heathen, or the Greeks the Barbarian world. And they have charged them also with as much cruelty as pride on the same account.

"A Quaker," they say, they say, "feels himself

strongly attached to an accomplished woman. But she does not belong to the Society. He wishes to marry, but he cannot marry her on account of its laws. Having a respect for the Society, he looks round it again, but he looks round it in vain. He finds no one equal to this woman; no one whom he could love so well. To marry one in the Society, while he loves another out of it better, would be evidently wrong. If he does not marry her, he makes the greatest of all sacrifices; for he loses that which he supposes would constitute a source of enjoyment to him for the remainder of his life.

If he marry her, he is expelled from the Society, and this without having been guilty of an immoral offence."

One of the reasons which the Quakers give for the adoption of this law of disownment in the case of mixed marriages, is, that those who engage in them violate some of the most important principles of the Society, and such indeed as are distinguishing characteristics of Quakerism from the religion of the world.

It is a religious tenet of the Quakers, as will be shown in its proper place, that no appointment of man can make a minister of the gospel; and that no service, consisting of an artificial form of words, to be pronounced on stated occasions, can constitute a religious act; for that the Spirit of God is essentially necessary to create the one, and to produce the other. It is also another tenet with them, that no minister of a Christian church ought to be paid for his gospel labours. This latter tenet is held so sacred by the Quakers, that it affords one reason among others, why they refuse payment of tithes and other demands of the church, choosing rather to suffer loss by di


straints for them, than to comply with them in the usual manner. Now these two principles are essentials of Quakerism. But no person who marries out of the Society can be. legally married without going through the forms of the established church. Those, therefore, who submit to this ceremony, as performed by a priest, acknowledge, according to the Quakers, the validity of a hu man appointment of the ministry. They acknowledge the validity of an artificial service in religion. They acknowledge the propriety of paying a gospel minister for the discharge of his office. The Quakers, therefore, consider those who marry out of the Society as guilty of such a dereliction of Quaker-principles, that they can no longer be considered as sound or consistent members.

But, independently of the violation of these principles, which the Quakers take as the strongest ground for their conduct on such an occasion, they think themselves warranted in disowning, from a contemplation of the consequences which have been known to result from these marriages.

In the first place, disownment is held to

« PrécédentContinuer »