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they may, if they apply for restoration, obtain it, with all their former privileges and rights.
The children also of such as marry out of the Society, though they are never considered to be members of it, may yet become so in particular cases. The Society advise that the monthly meetings should extend a tender care towards such children, and that they should be admitted into membership, at the discretion of the said meetings, either in infancy or in maturer age.
But here I must stop to make a few observations on an opinion which prevails on this subject. It is generally understood that the Quakers, in their restoration of disowned persons to membership, require them previously and publicly to acknowledge that they have repented of their marriages. This obligation to make this public confession of repentance, has given to many a handle for heavy charges against them. Indeed, I scarcely know, in any part of the Quakersystem, where people are louder in their censures than upon this point. "A man, they say, cannot express his penitence 'for his marriage, without throwing a stigma
upon his wife. To do this is morally wrong, if he has no fault to find with her. To do
it, even if she has been in fault, is indelicate. And not to do it is to forgo his restoration to membership. This law therefore of the Quakers is considered to be immoral, because it may lead both to hypocrisy and falsehood." I shall not take up much time in correcting the notions that have gone abroad upon this subject.
Of those who marry out of the Society, it may be presumed that there are some who were never considered to be sound in the Quaker-principles; and these are generally they who intermarry with the world. Now those who compose this class generally live after their marriages as happily out of the Society as when they were in it. Of course these do not repent of the change. And if they do not repent, they never sue for restoration to membership. They cannot therefore incur any of the charges in question. Nor can the Society be blamed in this case, who, by never asking them to become members, never entice them to any objectionable repentance.
Of those again who marry out of the
society, there may be individuals so attached to its communion, that it was never imagined they would have acted in this manner. Now of these it may in general be said, that they often bitterly repent. They find, soon or late, that the opposite opinions and manners to be found in their union do not harmonize. And here it may be observed, that it is very possible that such persons may say that they repent, without any crimination of their wives. A man, for instance, may have found in his wife all the agreeableness of temper, all the domestic virtue and knowledge, all the liberality of religious opinion, which he had anticipated; but, in consequence of the mixed principles resulting from mixed marriages, or of other unforeseen causes, he may be so alarmed about the unsteady disposition of his children, and their future prospects, that the pain which he feels on these accounts may overbalance the pleasure which he acknowledges in the constant prudence, goodness, solicitude, and affection of his wife. This may be so much the case, that all her consolatory offices may not be able to get the better of his grief. A man therefore, in
such circumstances, may truly repent of his marriage, or that he was ever the father of such children, though he can never complain as the husband of such a wife.
The truth, however, is, that those who make the charge in question have entirely misapplied the meaning of the word "repent." People are not called upon to express their sorrow for having married the objects of their choice, but for having violated those great tenets of the society which have been already mentioned, and which form distinguishing characteristics between Quakerism and the religion of the world. Those therefore who say that they repent, say no more than what any other persons might be presumed to say, who had violated the religious tenets of any other society to which they might have belonged, or who had flown in the face of what they had imagined to be reli gious truths.
Of persons disowned for marriage, the greater proportion is said to consist of women-Causes assigned for this difference of number in the two
It will perhaps appear a curious fact to the world, but I am told it is true, that the number of the women who are disowned for marrying out of the Society far exceeds the number of the men who are disowned on the same account.
It is not difficult, if the fact be as it is stated, to assign a reason for this difference of number in the two sexes.
When men wish to marry, they wish, at least if they be men of sense, to find such women as are virtuous; to find such as are prudent and domestic; such as have a proper sense of the folly and dissipation of the world; such, in fact, as will make good mothers and good wives. Now, if a Quaker looks into his own society, he will generally find the female part of it of this description.