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


Friends are exhorted faithfully to adhere to our ancient testimony against wars, and fightings, and in no way to unite with any in warlike measures, either offensive or defensive, that by the inoffensiveness of our conduct we may convincingly demonstrate ourselves to be real subjects of the Messiah's peaceful reign, and be instrumental in the promotion thereof, towards its desired completion; when, according to ancient prophecy, "the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea; and its inhabitants shall learn war no more."

When goods have been distrained from any Friends on account of their refusal to pay fines for non-performance of military services, and the officers, after deducting the fines and costs, propose to return the remainder, it is the sense of this meeting, that Friends should maintain their testimony by suffering, rather than accept such overplus, unless the same or a part of it is returned without a change of the species. -- 1755.

It is declared to be the sense of this meeting, that furnishing waggons, or other means for conveying of military stores, is a military service, and that the care of elders, overseers, and faithful Friends, should be extended, in true love and Christian tenderness, to such as deviate herein, in order to convince them of their error. -- 1755.

It is the sense of this meeting, that a tax, levied for the purchasing of drums, colours, or for other warlike uses, cannot be paid consistently with our Christian testimony. -- 1776.

This meeting fervently recommends to the deep attention of all our members that they be religiously guarded against approving or showing the least connivance at war, either by attending at or viewing of military operations, or in any wise encouraging the unstable deceitful spirit of party, by joining with political devices or associations, however speciously disguised under the ensnaring subtleties commonly attendant thereon; but that they sincerely labour to experience a settlement on the alone sure foundation of pure unchangeable truth; whereby, through the prevalence of unfeigned Christian love and good will to men, we may convincingly demonstrate that the kingdom we seek is not of this world. A kingdom and government whose subjects are free indeed! redeemed from those captivating lusts from whence come wars and fighting.--1798

A living concern for the advancement of our testimony to the peaceable kingdom of Christ, continuing to spread in many minds, a fervent desire hath prevailed among us, that the members of our religious society would carefully avoid engaging in any trade or business promotive of war, sharing or partaking of the spoils of war by purchasing or selling prize goods, importing or shipping goods in armed vessels, paying taxes for the express purpose of war, grinding of grain, feeding of cattle, or selling their property for the use of the army: that through a close attention to the monitions of divine grace, and guarding against the suppression of it either in themselves or others, they may be preserved in a conduct consistent with our holy profession, from wounding the minds or increasing the sufferings of each other; not at all doubting, that he to whom appertains the kingdom and the power; who is wonderful in working, will continue to carry on and perfect his blessed cause of peace in the earth. A solid attention to this concern is recommended to quarterly, monthly and preparative meetings, and to our brethren in general, it being the judgment of this meeting, that if any of our members do either openly or by connivance pay any fine, penalty or tax in lieu of personal service for carrying on war, or allow their children, apprentices or servants to act therein, or are concerned in arming or equipping vessels with guns, or deal in public certificates issued as a compensation for expenses accrued or services performed in war, that they be tenderly dealt with, and if they cannot be brought to an acknowledgment of their error, monthly meetings are at liberty to testify against them. -- 1780, 1781.

It is the sense and judgment of this meeting that it is inconsistent with our religious testimony and principle for any Friend to pay a fine or tax, levied on them on account of their refusal to serve in the militia, although such fine or imposition may be applied towards defraying the expenses of civil government; and where deviations in this respect occur, tender dealing and advice should be extended to the party in order to their convincement and restoration; and if this proves ineffectual, monthly meetings should proceed to testify against them. -- 1790.

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