« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
inscriptions. These are generally supposed to be erected out of respect to the memory or character of the deceased. kers, however, are of opinion that this is not the proper manner of honouring the dead. If you wish to honour a good man, who has departed this life, let all his good actions live in your memory.
Let them live in your grateful love and esteem. So cherish them in your heart, that they may constantly awaken you to imitation. Thus you will show, by your adoption of his amiable example, that you really respect his memory. This is also that tribute, which, if he himself could be asked in the other world how he would have his memory respected in this, he would prefer to any description of his virtues, that might be given by the ablest writer, or handed down to posterity by the ablest monument of the sculptor's art.
But they have an objection to the use of tomb-stones and monumental inscriptions for other reasons. For, where pillars of marble, abounding with panegyric and decorated in a splendid manner, are erected to the ashes of dead men, there is a danger
lest, by making too much of these, a superstitious 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.
They believe, again, that, if they were to allow the custom of these outward monuments to obtain among them, they might be often led, as the world are, and by the same causes, to a deviation from the truth. For it is in human nature to praise those whom we love, but more particularly when we have lost them. Hence we find often such extravagant
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 been 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 the genealogy of Adam, namely, that they lived and that they died,” the Quakers do not approve of such memorials. For these 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 members of this Society have in general overcome the prejudice of
sleeping with their fathers," such memorials cannot be useful to them.
They have no objection, however, 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 source. Sen. sible, 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 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 col. lected lessons of morality, and operate as incitements to piety to the rising youth. Thus the memorials of men are made useful by the Society in an unobjectionable manner; for the falsehood and flattery of epi
taphs taphs 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 court. mourning-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