The New Student's Reference Work/Quakers

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Qua'kers or Society of Friends, a sect founded by George Fox in 1648-66. In spite of severe and cruel persecutions the Quakers established themselves in England and in America. Although not a large denomination, they have exerted a strong and good influence on the public at large by their purity of life and the stand they have taken in great questions, as war and slavery. Friends began to protest against slavery as early as 1688, and in 1787 no known Friend owned a slave. As early as 1727 they commenced to censure the traffic in slaves, and opposed it more and more warmly, until the whole British nation felt the blow and set their slaves free. Their leading doctrine is that of "internal light." They believe that the Holy Spirit or the indwelling Christ alone maketh wise unto salvation and illumines the mind with true and spiritual knowledge of the things of God. Hence they do not consider human learning essential to a minister of the gospel, and have no theological schools or classes for students. Their ministers do not receive a salary, but bestow their labor freely, and in return are freely entertained when their work takes them away from home. The Friends have from the start, by example and precept, urged "plainness of speech, behavior and apparel;" and hence a Friend could always be distinguished by certain outward peculiarities, as "thee, thou, first month, second day," instead of the usual terms used, and by their quaint garb. In 1827 Elias Hicks denied the divine authority of the Scriptures, the divinity of Christ and His atonement, and carried with him about half of the Society in America. These are now known as the Hicksite Friends, while the remainder are called Orthodox Friends. The more eminent leaders of this sect have been George Fox, Robert Barclay, Thomas Ellwood, John Woolman, William Penn and John Bright. They number in the United States about 120,000; while about 20,000 of them are in England. See Fox's Journal and Sewell's History of the Quakers.