Category Archives: Quakers

Item of the Day: History of Pennsylvania Vol. I. (1797)

Full Title: The History of Pennsylvania, in North America, from the Original Institution and Settlement of that Province, under the first Proprietor and governor William Penn, in 1681, till after the Year 1742; with an Introduction, Respecting, the Life of W. Penn, prior to the grant of the Province, and the religious Society of the People called Quakers:; —with the first rise of the neighbouring Colonies, more particularly of West-New-Jersey, and the Settlement of the Dutch and Swedes in Delaware. To which is added, A brief Description of the said Province, and of the General State, in which it flourished, principally between the Years 1760 and 1770. The whole including a Variety of Things, Useful and interesting to be known, respecting that Country in early Time, &c. With an Appendix. Written principally between the Years 1776 and 1780, By Robert Proud. Vol. I. Philadelphia: Printed and sold by Zachariah Poulson, Junior, Number Eighty, Chesnut-Street, 1797.

INTRODUCTION.PART THE FIRST.

CONTAINING,

MEMOIRS

OF THE

LIFE

OF

WILLIAM PENN,

Prior to his founding the Province of Pennsylvania;

and including

A general and comprehensive view of the rise, principles, religious system and practice, or manners, of the people called QUAKERS, who first settled the province, under his government.

THE wisdom of former ages, when transmitted, in writing, to posterity, is an inestimable treasure; but the actions of illustrious and viruous persons, in the same manner exhibited, is still more beneficial: by the former our judgments are rightly informed, and our minds brought into a proper way of thinking; by the latter we are animated to an imitation; and while the excellency of noble examples is displayed before our understandings, our minds are inspired with a love of virtue. This appears to be the office of history; by which every succeeding age may avail itself of the wisdom, and, even, of the folly, of the preceding, and become wiser and happier by a proper application. Through this medium when we view the conduct of those great men of antiquity, who have benefited mankind, in their most essential interests, they appear frequently to have been actuated by motives, the most disinterested, and attended with a satisfaction more than human! —Adversity, which refines men, and renders them more fit to benefit the human race, is a frequent concomitant of worthy minds; and apparent success doth not always immediately attend noble and just designs: —When a Socrates is put to death, wisdom and truth seem to suffer; and when an Aristides is exiled, justice appears to be in disgrace. But virtue is its own reward, and depends not on the fluctuating opinions of mortals, nor on the breath of popular applause; which is often on the side of error, and entirely opposite to the real interests of its votaries.

An example of true wisdom and fortitude, is no less conspicuous in the venerable founder of the province of Pennsylvania, the truly great and worthy William Penn, than in many of the celebrated sages and legislators of former ages; who, in opposition to the vulgar notions of the times in which they lived, have seemingly suffered in their own particular, in order to benefit mankind: this will appear in the following sketch of his life, both with respect to his religion in joining the people called Quakers, and likewise in settling the province itself. In both of which his engagement for the happiness of men was not unattended with a large share of that difficulty and opposition, to which the most excellent undertakings are generally exposed: but minds of such exalted virtue are actuated by motives above mortality, and indisputably are influenced by something divine; without which, as Cicero says, “there never was a really good and great man.” . . .

 

Of the rise, religious principles and practices, &c. of the people called Quakers.

Before I proceed to be more particular respecting William Penn, I shall here intermit the further  account of his life; and, that the reader might have some just idea of the people, with whom he joined in religious society, and who first settled the province of Pennsylvania, under him, I shall next exhibit a short summary of the rise, religious principles, general system and practice or manners, of the people called Quakers, sufficient for the purpose, principally extracted from their own accounts, and in their own words, referring the more inquisitive enquirer to their particular writings, for further information.

Nothing can be a more signal evidence of an over-ruling Providence, superintending the works of the creation, and directing the end of things, than the rise of good out of evil; and the conversion of the wicked machinations of perverse mankind to good purposes: that out of persecution and hatred should spring charity, and mutual benevolence; that from tyranny and ignorance should flow rational liberty, and true knowledge, is as manifest a demonstration of an all preserving cause, as the creation itself is evident of its own existence: this appears, im part from the rise of the religious people called Quakers, and the settling of the flourishing province of Pennsylvania.

Near the middle of the 17th. century, during the civil war, in England, when men were tearing each other in pieces, and when confusion and bloodshed  had overspread the nation, many sober and thinking persons of the different religious societies, weighing the uncertainty of human affairs, and beholding the various vicissitudes in the political system, after having examined the many vain and futile opinions, and absurd customs, in religion, which were either imposed, practised or insisted on, by the various professors of Christianity, under the denominations, in that country, withdrew themselves from their assemblies for divine worship; and, having their minds turned to what appeared to them more rational, and consistent with a rightly informed understanding, and a life more congruous, or agreeable, to the mind of that Deity which is spiritual, and communicates his goodness and knowledge more nearly through a medium of his own nature; and places the human mind above the reach of terrestrial influence; they thence fell into the practical belief, and christian conduct, which gave rise to this religious society.

It was not till the year 1650, that the name of Quakers was imposed on them; who before had generally gone under the denomination of professors, or children, of the light; but the most common appellation, by which they distinguished themselves from others, and even to this day, is by the name of Friends . . .

 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under 1700's, Colonial America, Eighteenth century, History, Pennsylvania, Posted by Caroline Fuchs, Quakers