American Quakers Face the Civil War
Baltimore Yearly Meeting
From ANSWERS TO THE QUERIES
Our testimony against a hireling ministry, oaths, military services, clandestine trade, prize goods and lotteries, appears to be generally maintained. Though three reports mention deviations, respecting military services, to some cases of which care has been extended.
Baltimore Thirtieth of the [Tenth] Month, and 5th of the week.
The Committee appointed upon the subject at a former sitting, produced the following minute of the exercises of this Meeting, to be inserted in our Extracts for the benefits of our absent members, which was approved, viz:
The reading of the Epistles, from the several yearly Meetings with which we correspond, has brought us into near unity with our distant brethren, and has afforded to our minds confirming evidence of the unity of the Christian Church; for all who are taught of the Lord, are actuated by one spirit, even that which ascribes, Glory to God in the highest, and breathes peace on earth, and good will to men.
The sorrowful condition of our beloved country, so feelingly alluded to in those Epistles, has tended much to solemnize the Meeting, and to humble us under the considerations of our many delinquencies, as a nation and as individuals. Lively testimonies have been borne in this Meeting, not only against the horrors of war, but to the all-sufficiency of that grace which emanates from the Father of Spirits, and which will save to the uttermost all who place their trust in him.
It was clearly shown, that however ardently we may feel attached to our excellent government its preservation, or that of any civil institution, is of small importance when compared with the sublime principles of the Gospel of Christ, and the salvation of immortal souls. The disciples of the Prince of Peace can only promote the advancement of his kingdom, by obedience to his Spirit, and keeping his commandments. "Without me," he says, "ye can do nothing." "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me." These are still the unchangeable terms of discipleship; for we cannot serve two masters;we are either conformed to this world, or transformed by the renewings of our minds.
They who have experienced the mercy and forgiveness of God, will be enabled by his grace to forgive others; and continuing under this holy influence, they will be endued with patience and confidence in him who, "ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will." He sees from the beginning to the end of time, for one day with the Lord is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
Information has been received at this Meeting, that many of our members who reside in Virginia, have, during the past year, been subjected to great trials by reason of the civil war which is now desolating that portion of our country. Some of them have been arrested by the military authorities of the Southern States, and held as prisoners for a time. Among these, our beloved friend, Job Throckmorton, was one whose sufferings excited general sympathy. While on his way to attend the Monthly Meeting at Hopewell, he was arrested by the military, and with many other prisoners, who had not been bearing arms, he was subjected to fatiguing marches and great privations, which resulted in his death. His pure and blameless life was such, that we have no doubt he laid down his head in peace, and has entered in to eternal rest.
Our religious meetings in that section of the country have generally been maintained, though most of our meeting-houses have, at times, been occupied for military purposes. At Hopewell and Winchester, our members have been subjected to peculiar privations and trials, by reason of the large contending armies that have alternately occupied and despoiled that region; but the Meetings of Friends have seldom been omitted, though often held in private houses.
At Woodlawn, a branch of Alexandria Monthly Meeting, the meeting-house was, during the whole of last winter, occupied by the federal troops. The Midweek Meetings of Friends were then held in a private house; but on First days, they assembled in the meeting-house with the soldiers, who carefully prepared the house, expressed a desire that the Meetings should be kept up, and were evidently much interested in them.
At Waterford [Virginia], a part of the meeting-house was for many months, occupied by the Southern soldiers, while another part was reserved for the Meetings of Friends. The officers and some of the soldiers usually attended, behaved with decorum, and at times expressed their cordial appreciation of those seasons of deep solemnity and religious exercises. We have reason to believe Gospel of Peace and Love, at some favored seasons, was felt to flow, like a refreshing stream in a desert land.
The evidences thus afforded of the power of Divine truth, and the consolations of the Gospel of Christ, should incite us to increased diligence, that we may, through watchfulness and prayer, and unreserved obedience, fill up the measure of our duties, and obtain the rich reward of divine approbation.
While engaged in examining the condition of our religious body, an earnest desire has been felt, that we may live up to our professed principles, and faithfully maintain our religious testimonies. . . .