« PrécédentContinuer »
kers never partake of the amusements of the world; that their worldly pleasures are principally of a domestic nature; that calmness, and quietude, and abstraction from worldly thoughts, to which rural retirement is peculiarly favourable, is the state of mind which they themselves acknowledge to be required by their religion, it would seem that the country was peculiarly the place for their habitations.
It would seem, also as if by this forsaking of the country they had deprived themselves of many opportunities of the highest enjoyment of which they are capable as Quakers. The objects in the country are peculiarly favourable to the improvement of morality in the exercise of the spiritual feelings. The bud and the blossom, the rising and the falling leaf, the blade of corn and the ear, the seed-time and the harvest, the sun that warms and ripens, the cloud that cools, and emits the fruitful shower, these and a hundred objects afford daily food for the religious growth of the mind. Even the natural man is pleased with these. They excite in him natural ideas, and produce in him a natural kind of pleasure.
pleasure. But the spiritual man experiences a sublimer joy. He sees none of these without feeling both spiritual improvement and delight. It is here that he converses with the Deity in his works. It is here that he finds himself grateful for his goodness; that he acknowledges his wisdom; that he expresses his admiration of his power.
The poet Cowper, in his Contemplation of a Country Life, speaks forcibly on this subject:
"O friendly to the best pursuits of man,
Friendly to thought, to virtue, and to peace,
Compose the passions, and exalt the mind."
William Penn, in the beautiful letter which he left his wife and children before
his first voyage to America, speaks also in strong terms upon the point in question.
"But agriculture," says he, "is especially
in my eye. Let my children be husband
men and housewives. This occupation is industrious, healthy, honest, and of good example. Like Abraham, and the holy ancients, who pleased God, and obtained a good report, this leads to consider the works of God, and nature of things that are good, and diverts the mind from being taken up with the vain arts and inventions of a luxurious world." And a little further he says, of cities and towns of concourse beware. The world is apt to stick close to those who have lived and got wealth there. A country-life and estate I like best for my children. I prefer a decent mansion of a hundred pounds a year to ten thousand pounds in London or such-like place, in the way of trade."
To these observations it may be added, that the country, independently of the opportunity it affords for calmness and quietude of mind, and the moral improvement of it in the exercise of the spiritual feelings,
is peculiarly fitted for the habitation of the Quakers, on account of their peculiar love for the animal-creation. It would afford them a wide range for the exercise of this love, and the improvement of the benevolent affections. For tenderness, if encouraged,
like a plant that is duly watered, still grows. What man has ever shown a proper affection for the brute-creation, who has been backward in his love of the human race?
Trade-Trade seldom considered as a question of morals-but Quakers view it in this light-prohibit the Slave-trade-privateering-manufac tories of weapons of war—also trade where the revenue is defrauded-hazardous enterprises fictitious paper-insist upon punctuality to words and engagements—advise an annual inspection of their own affairs-regulations in case of bankruptcy.
I STATED in the last chapter that some of the Quakers, though these were few in number, were manufacturers and mechanics; that others followed the sea; that others were to be found in the medical profession, and in the law; and that others were occupied in the concerns of a rural life. I believe, with these few exceptions, that the rest of the Society may be considered as engaged in trade.
Trade is a subject which seldom comes under the discussion of mankind as a moral question. If men who follow it are honest