Quaker Heritage Press > Online Texts > The Old Discipline > Civil Government


Liberty of conscience being the common right of all men, and particularly essential to the well-being of religious societies, we hold it to be indispensably incumbent upon us to maintain it inviolable among ourselves: and therefore advise and exhort all in profession with us, to decline the acceptance of any office or station in civil government, the duties of which are inconsistent with our religious principles; or in the exercise of which they may be, or think themselves to be, under the necessity of exacting of their brethren any compliances against which we are conscientiously scrupulous. And if any persons in membership with us, notwithstanding this advice, shall persist in a conduct so reverse to our principles and religious liberty, it is the sense of this meeting that they be treated with, as in other cases of offence; and if they cannot be brought to see and acknowledge their error, that the monthly meetings to which they belong should proceed to testify our disunity with them.

And it is also the sense and judgment of this meeting, that Friends ought not, in any wise, to be active or accessary in electing, or promoting to be elected, their brethren to such offices or stations in civil government, the execution whereof tends to lay waste our Christian testimony, or subject their brethren or others to sufferings on account of their conscientious scruples.

Believing that we are called to show forth to the world in life and practice, that the blessed reign of the Messiah, the Prince of Peace, is begun, and we doubt not, will proceed till it attains its completion in the earth, when according to the prophecies of Isaiah and Micah, "Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more." Influenced by these principles, we cannot consistently join with such as form combinations of a hostile nature against any; much less in opposition to those placed in sovereign or subordinate authority; nor can we unite with or encourage such as revile and asperse them, for it is written, "Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people." Acts 23:5.

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