American Quakers Face the Civil War
Baltimore Yearly Meeting
From ANSWERS TO THE QUERIES
Our testimony against a hireling ministry, oaths, clandestine trade, prize goods, and lotteries, appears to be generally maintained. But many of our members have deviated from our precious testimony in relation to military services. Some cases of infringement thereof, are under care.
Baltimore 11th month 2d
The Committee appointed at a former sitting to endeavor to embody the exercises of the Meeting while engaged in the consideration of the state of Society, produced the following Minute, which was approved, viz:
. . . The sanguinary conflict that now rage sin our beloved country, laying waste some of its fairest scenes, bringing to an untimely grave many thousands of its inhabitants, and causing bereavement throughout the land, has called forth the expression of much sympathy for those who are suffering from this awful calamity. It has been our earnest prayer that we may not put our trust in the arm of flesh, but rather rely on the never-failing arm of Divine power, which sustained our worthy ancestors in seasons of severe suffering, made them instrumental in promoting the cause of Truth, and, in His own good time, delivered them from all their afflictions.
Our ancient testimony to the peaceable nature of Christs kingdom, has been made more dear to our hearts, by contemplating the scenes of carnage and destruction that abound in our land. It was doubtless the intention of the Most High in sending his beloved Son into the world, to redeem mankind from the dominion of evil, to influence them by his meek example and sublime precepts, and through the guidance of his pure Spirit, to bring them into harmony and fraternal love. This happy condition was shadowed forth in the figurative language of prophecy: "The wolf shall dwell with the lamb; the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf and the young lion, and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them."
The primitive Christian church was the depository of this pure doctrine, which subsequently became obscured through the false teaching of a corrupt priesthood, and an alliance with the world; but being revived by the early Friends, the precious legacy has been transmitted to us. May we ever remember that the Truth of God can only be promoted by obedience to His Spiritual law; and placing the light upon the candlestick by a consistent example, may we keep alive the sacred flame which must spread far and wide, before the prophecy shall be fulfilled, "The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ."
We have rejoiced in the announcement that, throughout the State of Maryland, liberty has been proclaimed to the long-oppressed descendants of Africa, and an earnest desire has been expressed in this Meeting, that we may not be unmindful of the great work yet to be accomplished, in extending to the freed people who dwell among us, the benefits of education and christian care. In contemplating the progress of our testimony against slavery, from its small beginning near the close of the 17th century, to the present day, our hearts are filled with gratitude and love to that Almighty Being who called our predecessors to labor in this cause, and led them safely along through the guidance of his grace. The prophetic language of John Woolman, written nearly one hundred years ago, has been feelingly revived among us, as being now in the process of fulfilment: "I have seen in the light of the Lord, that the day is approaching, when the man that is most wise in human policy, shall be the greatest fool; and the arm that is mighty to support injustice, shall be broken to pieces: The enemies of righteousness shall make a terrible rattle, and shall mightily torment one another; for He that is omnipotent is rising up to judgment, and will plead the cause of the oppressed; and he commanded me to open the vision."
The Christian duty of dealing with offenders in the spirit of meekness and love, has been to our minds, a subject of religious exercise, and an earnest desire is felt that at this trying season, we maybe governed by Divine wisdom, remembering that the first object to be sought, is the restoration of the diseased member to health, rather than its separation from the body.
Our Meeting this year has been unusually large, and favored with remarkable solemnity. A considerable number have attended from that section of our country where the scourge of war has exerted its desolating effects. Although great pecuniary losses have been sustained, and personal danger sometimes encountered, we have rejoiced in learning that the Meetings of Friends have been generally kept up, their lives have been preserved from the hand of violence, and amidst all their trials, they have often had cause to rejoice in the Lord.