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lest, by making too much of these, a sur perstitious awe should be produced, and a superstitious veneration should attach to them. .
The early Christians, by making too much of the relics of the saints or pious men,
fell into such errors. .: The Quakers believe, again, that if they were to allow the custom of these outward monuinents to obtain among them, they might be often led, as the world are, and by the same canses, to a deviation from the truth. - For it is in human nature to praise those whom we love, but more particularly when we have last them. Hence we find often such extravagant encomiums upon the dead, that, if it were possible for these to be made acquainted with them, they would show their disapprobation of such records. Hence we find also that as “ false as an epitaph” has become a proverbial expression.
But even in the case where nothing more is said upon the tomb-stone, than what Moses said. of Seth, and of Enos, and of Cainan, and others, when he reckoned up thogenealogy of Adam, namely, that “they lived and that they died,” the Quakers do not approve of such mcinorials. For those
convey no merit of the deceased, by which his example should be followed. They convey no lesson of morality. And in general they are not particularly useful. They may serve, perhaps, to point out to surviving relations the place where the body of the deceased was buried, so that they may know where to mark out the line for their own graves. But as the Quakers in general have overcome the prejudice of “ sleeping with their fathers,” such memorials cannot be useful to them.
The Quakers, however, have no objection, if a man has conducted himself particularly well in life, that a true statement should be made concerning him, provided such a statement would operate as a lesson of morality to others; but they think that the tomb-stone is not the best medium of conveying it. They are persuaded that very little moral advantage is derived to the cursory readers of epitaphs, and that they can trace no improvement in morals to this
Sensible, however, that the memorials of good men may be made serviceable to the rising generation, (" and there
are no ideas," says Addison, “ which strike more forcibly on our imaginations than those which are raised from reflections
upon the exits of great and excellent men,") they are willing to receive accounts of the lives, deaths, and remarkable sayings of those ministers in their own Society, who have been eminent for their labours. These are drawn up by individuals, and pre
presented to the monthly meetings to which the deceased belonged. But here they must undergo an examination before they are passed. The truth of the statement and the utility of the record must appear.
It then falls to the quarterly meetings to examine them again; and these may alter, or pass, or reject them, as it may appear to be most proper. If these should pass them, they are forwarded to the yearly meeting. Many of them, after this, are printed; and, finding their way into the book-cases of the Quakers, they become' collected lessons of morality, and operate as incitements to piety to the rising youth. Thus the memorials of men are made useful by the Quakers in an unobjectionable manner; for the falsehood
and flattery of epitaphs are thus avoided, none but good men having been selected, whose virtues, if they are recorded, can be perpetuated with truth,
They discard also mourning garments--These are
only emblems of sorrow—and often make men pretend to be what they are not—This contrary to Christianity—Thus they may become little better than disguised pomp, or fashionable forms -This instanced in the changes and duration of common mourning—and in the custom of courtmourning-Ramifications of the latter.
As the Quakers neither allow of the tomb-stones nor the monumental inscriptions, so they do not allow of the mourning garments of the world.
They believe there can be no true sorrow but in the heart, and that there can be no other true outward way of showing it, than by fulfilling the desires, and by imitating the best actions, of those whom men have lost and loved. “ The mourning,” says
William Penn,“ which it is fit for a Christian to have on the departure of beloved relations and friends, should be worn in the mind, which is only sensible of the loss. And the love which men have had to these, and their remembrance of them, should be outwardly expressed by a respect to their advice, and care of those they have left behind them, and their love of that which they loved.”
But mourning garments, the Quakers contend, are only the emblems of sorrow. They will therefore frequently be used where no sorrow is. Many persons follow their deceased relatives to the grave, whose death, in point of gain, is a matter of real joy; witness young spendthrifts, who have been raising sum after sum on expectation, and calculating with voracious anxiety the probable duration of their relations' lives: and yet all these follow the
with white handkerchiefs, mourning habits, slouched hats, and dangling liat-bands. Mourning garments, therefore, frequently make men pretend to be what they are not. But no true or consistent Christian can exhibit an outward ap
corpse to the