Quaker Heritage Press > Online Texts > The Old Discipline > Trade


It being evident that where the manifestations and restraints of the Spirit of truth are duly prized and regarded, it leads out of a bondage to the spirit of this world, and preserves the minds of its followers from many fettering and disqualifying entanglements; and contrarywise, that an inordinate love and pursuit of worldly riches, often betrays those who are captivated by them, into many difficulties and dangers, to the great obstruction of the work of truth in the heart: we affectionately desire that the counsel and gracious promise of our blessed Redeemer to his followers, may be borne in remembrance by us "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you." -- 1695 to 1746.

This meeting being earnestly concerned that the service of our religious society may not be obstructed, or its reputation dishonoured, by any imprudence of its members in their worldly engagements, recommends to all, that they be careful not to venture upon such business as they do not well understand; nor to launch out in trade beyond their abilities, and at the risk of others; especially on the credit which may be derived from a profession of the truth; but that they bound their engagements by their means; and when they enter into contracts, or give their words, that they endeavour on all occasions strictly to fulfil them.

We particularly exhort that none engage in such concerns as depend on the often deceptive probabilities of hazardous enterprizes; but rather content themselves with such a plain and moderate way of living as is consistent with the self-denying principle we make profession of; whereby many disappointments and grievous perplexities may be avoided, and that tranquillity of mind obtained which is inseparable from the right enjoyment even of temporal things. And it is advised that, where any among us err, or are in danger of erring in these respects, they be faithfully and timely admonished. -- 1724 to 1746.

It is recommended that Friends frequently inspect the state of their affairs, and keep their accounts so clear and accurate, that they may, at any time, easily know whether they live within the bounds of their circumstances, or not; and, in case of death, that these may not be perplexing to survivors. And whenever any find that they have no more property left than is sufficient to discharge their just debts, it is advised, that they immediately consult with some judicious Friends, and, without loss of time, make their circumstances known to their creditors, carefully avoiding the payment of one in preference to another, that so none may be injured, nor any reproach be incurred by mismanagement. -- 1782.

And where overseers, or other concerned Friends, have reason to fear that any person or family, by living above their means, or from a want of punctuality in fulfilling their contracts, or any other cause, are declining in their circumstances, and likely to fail, it is recommended that such be seasonably treated with, and (if it appear requisite) advised to call their creditors together without delay. And if, notwithstanding this advice, such persons still persist and run into embarrassment, to the loss of others and to their own disreputation, the preparative or monthly meeting to which they belong, ought to be timely informed thereof, and proceed to deal with them according to our rules; when, if this labour also prove ineffectual, a testimony of denial may be issued against them. -- 1710

It is advised that where such failures occur, and the cases are under the care of monthly meetings, that the Friends appointed to visit the parties, inquire of their assignees or trustees, how their deficiencies have happened, and report accordingly. And it is the judgment of this meeting that neither monthly nor other meetings should receive subscriptions, donations or bequests from persons so circumstanced until they have paid off their deficiencies, or are voluntarily acquitted thereof by their creditors; for it should be remembered that though, in such cases, the defaulter may have been legally discharged, the property he may afterwards acquire is not properly his own, till he has fairly paid off his former debts, to the satisfaction of the creditors. Wherefore we further advise that, if any such person or persons, on being suitably reminded of their duty in this respect, shall refuse to comply therewith, inquiry be made into the reason, and if it be not such as shall satisfy the monthly meetings of which they are members, and, they cannot be prevailed with, the said meetings, after a proper time of labour and forbearance, may issue a testimony of denial against them. -- 1782.

Advised that when Friends accept the office of trustee or assignee, they be active in collecting the effects of the estate, and punctual and speedy in making distribution.

Advised that Friends every where carefully avoid being any way concerned in defrauding the government of its duties; that so our ancient testimony in this respect may be inviolably maintained. -- 1755, 1796.

We warn our members against a pernicious practice amongst the trading part of the community, which has often issued in the ruin of those concerned therein, viz. That of raising and circulating a kind of paper credit, with indorsements, to give it an appearance of value, without an intrinsic reality; a practice which, as it appears to be inconsistent with the truth we profess, we declare our disapprobation of, and entreat every member of our society to avoid and discourage.

We also caution all in membership with us to avoid entering into joint securities with others, under the specious plea of rendering acts of kindness; many, by so doing, having been suddenly ruined, and their innocent wives and children reduced to deplorable circumstances. "Be not thou, said the wise man, one of them that strike hands; or of them that are sureties for debts. If thou hast nothing to pay, why should he take away thy bed from under thee?" -- 1806.

We affectionately desire that Friends may wait for divine counsel in all their engagements, and not suffer their minds to be hurried away by an inordinate desire of worldly riches; remembering the observation of the apostle in his day, and so often sorrowfully verified in ours, that "They who will be rich, fall into temptation and a snare;" and, erring from the faith, "pierce themselves through with many sorrows." Even when riches to any extraordinary degree have been amassed by the successful industry of parents, how often have they proved like wings to their children, carrying them beyond the limitations of truth, into liberties repugnant to our religious testimonies, and sometimes into enterprizes, which have terminated in irreparable damage to their temporal affairs, if not an entire forgetfulness of the great work of the soul's salvation. -- 1806.

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