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labyrinth, out of which there would be no clew to guide us.
Difficult, however, as the task may seem, I think I may lay down three positions, which will probably not be denied; and which, if admitted, will assist us in the determination of the question before us. The first of these is, that no Quaker can be concerned in the sale of a thing which is evil in itself. Secondly, that he cannot encourage the sale of an article which he knows to be essentially, or very generally, that is, in seven cases out of ten, productive of evil. And thirdly, that he cannot sell things which he has discarded from his own use, if he have discarded them on a belief that they are specifically forbidden by Christianity, or that they are morally injurious to the human mind.
If these positions be acknowledged, they will give ample latitude for the condemnation of many branches of trade.
A Quaker bookseller, according to these positions, cannot sell a profane or improper book.
A Quaker spirit-merchant cannot sell his liquor but to those whom he believes will
use it in moderation, or medicinally, or on proper occasions.
A Quaker who is a manufacturer of cotcannot exercise his occupation but upon an amended plan,
A Quaker silversmith cannot deal in any splendid ornaments of the person.
This he cannot do for the following reasons. The Quakers reject all such ornaments, because they believe them to be specifically condemned by Christianity. The words of the apostles Paul and Peter have been quoted both by Fox, Penn, Barclay, and others, upon this subject. But surely if the Christian religion positively condemn the use of them in me, it condemns the use of them in another. And how can any one, professing this religion, sell that, the use of which he believes it to have forbidden? The Quakers also have rejected all ornaments of the person, as we find by their own writers, on account of their immoral tendency, or because they are supposed to be instrumental in puffing up the creature, or in the generation of vanity and pride. But if they have rejected the use of them upon this principle, they are bound, as Christians, to
refuse to sell them to others. Christian love, and the christian obligation to do as we would wish to be done by, positively enjoin this conduct. For no man, consistently with this divine law and obligation, can sow the seeds of moral disease in his neighbour's mind.
And here I may observe that, though there are trades which may be innocent in themselves, yet Quakers may make them objectionable by the manner in which they may conduct themselves in disposing of the articles which belong to them. They can never pass them off, as other people do, by the declaration, that they are the fashionable articles of the day. Such words ought never to come out of Quakers' mouths; not so much because their own lives are a living protest against the fashions of the world, as because they cannot, knowingly, be instrumental in doing a moral injury to others. For it is undoubtedly the belief of the Quakers, as I had occasion to observe in a former yolume, that the following of such fashions begets a worldly spirit, and that in proportion as men indulge this spirit they are found to follow the loose and changeable
morality of the world, instead of the strict and steady morality of the Gospel.
That some such positions as these may be fixed upon for the further regulation of commercial concerns among the Quakers is evident, when we consider the example many estimable persons in this Society.
The Quakers, in the early times of their institution, were very circumspect about the nature of their occupations, and particularly as to dealing in superfluities and ornaments of the person. Gilbert Latey was one of those who bore his public testimony against them. Though he was only a tailor, he was known, and highly spoken of, by king James the second. He would not allow his servants to put any corruptive finery upon the clothes which he had been ordered to make for others. From Gilbert Latey I may pass to John Woolman. In examining the journal of the latter I find him speaking thus. "It had been my general practice to buy and sell things really useful. Things that served chiefly to please the vain mind in people, I was not easy to trade in; seldom did it; and whenever I did, I found it weaken me as a Christian." And from John Woolman
Woolman I might mention the names of many, and, if delicacy did not forbid me, those of Quakers now living, who relinquished or regulated their callings, on an idea that they could not consistently follow them at all, or that they could not follow them according to the usual manner of the world. I knew the relation of a distiller, who left off his business upon principle. I was intimate with a Quaker-bookseller: He did not give up his occupation, for this was unnecessary; but he was scrupulous about the selling of an improper book. Another friend of mine, in the Society, succeeded but a few years ago to a draper's shop. The furnishing of funerals had been a profitable branch of the employ. But he refused to be concerned in this branch of it, wholly owing to his scruples about it. Another had been established as a silversmith for many years, and had traded in the ornamental part of the business; but he left it wholly, though advantageously situated, for the same reason, and betook himself to another trade. I know other Quakers, who have held other occupations, not usually objectionable by the world, who have be