I reproduced some excerpts from Joshua Maule’s book Transactions and Changes in the Society of Friends, and Incidents in the Life and Experience of Joshua Maule concerning the debate over war tax resistance among Quakers during the American Civil War. Today I’ll continue with some additional excerpts.
Maule relates a debate he had with another Friend over whether the debate over war tax resistance was resulting in too much heat and not enough light.
I frequently received admonitory letters from members of our meeting, extending caution in relation to my speaking in meetings for discipline. The writers were professing to maintain sound principles, but were not firm themselves against the innovations introduced, and the violations of our testimonies and discipline which prevailed. I copy a part of a letter similar to others received:
Esteemed Friend, — I hope I am willing to respect the sentiments of the rightly concerned wherever found, but I feel myself very incompetent to debate or discuss essential creeds or principles; and thee is well aware of my objections to as much such discussion as has of latter years become common in our meetings; I was especially sorry to hear so much of it in our last monthly meeting. It certainly has become sorrowfully common amongst members of our Society in high station to be brooding over the misses of others, and magnifying them in their minds; and even in their statements to others of circumstances, to relate the most unfavourable version the truth will bear, whereas the spirit we profess to be actuated by would induce the most favourable speaking and opinions of one another. I do not want thee to mistake my meaning so much as to suppose I have especial allusion to thyself or any other individual. I feel myself very unworthy and incompetent to criticise or reprove the conduct of one that I regard as being so much my superior, but a secret fear has often attended my mind that thee sometimes hurts a good cause by an activity and earnestness that is not sufficiently divested of the creature, and that if not timely checked might lead into the same state that has often, in individuals and companies, since the rise of our Society, proved disastrous to themselves and repugnant to society. Many have, no doubt, thought, as Judas Iscariot when forewarned that he should betray his Lord and Master, that they would cheerfully suffer death rather than betray Him; but, as with him, the most sanguine and determined disposition to abide faithful is no safeguard against the assaults of the enemy, unless supported by that pure, regenerate faith which would inquire, Is it I? Is it I? I think, notwithstanding the great declension amongst us, that the principles are not so entirely forsaken as some suppose.
I know certainly that there was an objection with some here to paying our bounty tax, amounting to so much as to give particular directions to our agent not to pay it; and I do not believe he intended finally to do so, but was disappointed in the way it was credited; and it appears to me to be very unwise to disturb our meetings and engender so much hard feeling towards one another on account of this matter, which is so entirely blended with all business that none can keep entirely clear of it; yet I do not advocate the abandonment of the testimony, but wish it may be supported and defended in a becoming manner.
I do entreat thee, Joshua, to refrain from such expressions in our monthly meeting as that thee is prepared to believe that any innovation on our testimonies, however gross, would be advocated there, and many others of similar tendency thee has sometimes made use of, and strive to be imbued with the spirit of prayer by which Amos diverted the judgment of the grasshoppers and the fire, before they had consumed every green thing; and how applicable to the present is his inquiring: “By whom shall Jacob arise? for he is small.” I have said much more than I intended, but it has been in the freedom of friendship, and I hope thee will receive it so.
To this I replied:
Esteemed Friend, — Thy letter was duly received, and I am glad thou speaks thy mind plainly; thou need not fear giving me offence in so doing. I love honest, plain dealing, and I fully unite with thee in feelings of sorrow for the discussions which so much prevail of late years in our meetings. But why are these discussions? Who introduces them? Are they not constantly brought upon us by some innovation upon our principles or some departure from our excellent discipline or precious testimonies? And if there are any who cannot join in this course or submit to be carried by this current, they must, if they are faithful, endeavour to stand fast in the Truth; and according to their measure and station, according also to the circumstances in which they may be placed, as occasion calls, earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints. These discussions and the departures which are the cause of them are exceedingly painful to me; and while I am sensible of my inability of my self to promote any good word or work, assuredly knowing that the cause is all and I am nothing, yet I have been permitted to feel peace of mind, many times, in my endeavours to be faithful in defence of the unchangeable Truth, for the support of which so many worthy men and women suffered greatly in the rise of this Society, by the waste of their property, the loss of their liberty, and, in many cases, of their natural lives. It is as necessary now as it was in their day, or ever was, to contend for the Truth, “not only with open gainsayers, but with feigned friends, with false brethren and false teachers, and with such as are of our own selves.” I know that such as sustain these wrong things greatly desire that there should be no opposition to their schemes and devices; they are very ready to judge any whose voices may be raised against their doings, and to plead for the “ancient paths” and for the law and the testimony, — to judge these to be in a wrong spirit, working in “creaturely activity,” &c. I have been well assured by abundant entreaty along through Gurneyism, and, since the separation of that party, through the time that this insidious, deceitful spirit of middleism, or, as I believe, real Gurneyism in disguise, has ruled in our meetings, that I have been termed a troubler in Israel as well as all others, the few “who for Zion’s sake will not hold their peace.” The cry of those who are destroying this people has been, Peace, peace! but it has always been to gain a peace in which they could steadily pursue their work of laying waste the precious testimonies given us to uphold; and many whose eyes were once anointed to see the inroads of the enemy and to withstand him have, through unfaithfulness, lost their spiritual sight, and have given their strength to the prevailing spirit of apostasy.
If thou wilt consider the matter, thou may recollect I had nothing to do with introducing discussion into our last monthly meeting, neither had I anything to do with introducing the subject of war tax at our preparative meeting, though I believe it was brought there in the order of Truth. I did not speak of the war tax or bounty until it had been introduced by others and discussed: I had no desire to be heard. But when the arguments of officers of the law were repeated there as reasons, as I understood it, for rejecting the express injunctions of our discipline, I felt it to be my duty to speak in defence of the discipline, and of this vital Christian testimony, in such ability as I was capable. When in my place in meetings for discipline I am made sensible the Truth requires it, I endeavor to speak for, and, if need be, to contend for, the Truth. But thou, nor any one, hast not heard me argue or plead for lowering the standard of our discipline or changing it, or for excusing or justifying departures from our testimonies: neither hast thou heard me personally abuse or revile any one by name, as I have been repeatedly done unto; and in our last monthly meeting, while I was speaking, this was done by such as are made use of in the exercise of the discipline. I do not reply to this personal abuse, nor have I felt the least resentment towards those who practise it, though I have at times believed a spirit even worse than the “activity of the creature” was alive in them. I feel sorry for them, but if I can stand in my own proper place, these things will not hurt me. I am easy and well satisfied with the course I have been, through unmerited mercy, enabled to pursue in regard to our testimony against war. I have no desire “to magnify or brood over the misses of others” in relation to it. I seldom speak of it in meetings or elsewhere unless it is introduced by others, but I mourn over the weakness and unfaithfulness of many dear friends, whom I love in sincerity, who are shorn of their spiritual strength in this hour of need, by reasoning with flesh and blood, instead of looking to the Lord alone for help and ability to stand in His testimony. I am aware that it is only through watchfulness and earnest desires unto Him who hath promised to be a present helper in the needful time that I can at all hope for preservation, or be enabled to escape becoming a castaway, even as Judas Iscariot was.
I had no part or lot in bringing into the monthly meeting the discussion about that “new labour-saving machine,” as Ann Branson terms it, by which the Gurneyites are to be disowned, without being treated with. Our quarterly meeting rejected it and did not recommend it to monthly meetings, and I am satisfied the Truth will never own it. Was there any activity of the creature in the working of this matter? It was left altogether in the hands of its friends and supporters, but the discussion was long and wearisome, continuing until one of themselves said he thought they had better drop it altogether. Who introduced that request from Iowa? I did not. Our monthly meeting had once rejected it, when it was in a better condition than it is now, and this thing now hangs a doubtful matter in our yearly meeting, yet those who now control our monthly meeting, in the face of all this, and against the decided objections made there, carried it through. Truly it may be said of our meetings, “Ephraim is joined to idols: let him alone.”
I did express with sorrow in the monthly meeting that I was constrained to believe, from the evidence manifested there, that no innovation or departure, however great, — I did not use the word “gross,” as thou mentions, — could be introduced there but that it would be excused and defended. Thou says we gave “particular directions to our agent not to pay the bounty tax, and I do not believe he intended finally to do so, but was disappointed in the way it was credited.” This is remarkable. If a deception was practised upon him by the Treasurer and he intended to bear a faithful testimony against this tax, why did he not so inform the meeting, instead of giving the reason he did for paying it; repeating the arguments the officers of the law used to him? I would have rejoiced if he had kept his hands clear of this thing from the first. I looked to him for an example, and I was made sad by his course and arguments in favour of paying it a year ago. I had great respect for him, and I have earnestly desired for him as for myself that we might be preserved from every snare of the evil fowler. Those who honestly did not intend to pay this bounty tax, as thou mentions, are not to be blamed: I am glad there were such; but the paying it, or any direct war tax, is a plain violation of our Christian testimony. It is not among the “small misses,” but a clear transgression of the discipline, of much greater magnitude than the acts for which many are dealt with. It is as possible for Friends to keep clear of paying this direct war tax as ever it was for them to keep clear of paying tithes or military fines. I believe there are many snares to entrap the unwary in this thing, and not the least of these is the argument so much used, that it is so blended with all business that none can keep entirely clear of it. The framers of our discipline did not see it so blended. I many times hear it said by these who maintain no testimony against war taxes, and said, I apprehend, for the purpose of setting at naught the whole testimony, that the duties, the government money, &c., are all the same thing as paying the tax; but in the light of Truth they are very different things.
I do not differ from my friends of choice as a man; far from it; greatly have I ever desired to act with them; and I am, perhaps, not destitute of a sense of the necessity of submitting all that I can submit; but I dare not have regard to the persons of men when the cause is involved or in danger: that is not mine to give.
Thy sincere friend,
Maule proceeds to relate how his encounter with the tax collector went:
In , I went again to pay the tax. I found a new Treasurer had been elected; he was quite respectful and civil to me, but told me decidedly he would not take any tax as I offered mine, — that is, without the war tax. We conversed freely; he stated his reasons for refusing my request, and I answered him according to the ability afforded me. When we parted he appeared not quite so determined as at first, and said he would consider further and write to me. I wrote to him as follows:
Respected Friend J. Patterson, Treasurer:
As thou wast willing yesterday to refer my request for further consideration, I take the liberty to offer some views which, if thou finds them to deserve it, thou may take into consideration. I am not surprised that thou had decided to take no tax as I proposed, for I have no doubt it is considered to be ignorance or blind zeal which causes a few of the “Quakers” to make this request, and therefore thou had decided to not humour their whim. I believe it is the solemn requirement of Christian duty. We have no desire to make trouble for any one, but in as quiet a way as possible endeavour to act in accordance with the understanding given us of His will who came to proclaim peace on earth and good-will to men. Thou expressed thy wish that all men were of my opinion about war; but will the Christian principle of peace ever prevail until men individually act in accordance therewith?
I apprehend there is nothing in the part of the law thou read that is against thy receiving the tax as I requested; that law seems rather to contemplate that some taxes may be paid in part, and relieves thee from any violation of thy qualification in receiving them so. As to the application of the money when I pay the tax required for civil purposes, I am not accountable for the acts of the officers of the law, but when the demand is presented to me to pay so much for the war, if I do this voluntarily and understandingly, I put my own hand to the work of war and bloodshed, which I feel assured Christianity forbids. I am not finding fault with the law, or proposing to place any obstacle in the way of its execution, but I am desirous to keep clear of doing that which I am satisfied would be wrong for me to do, in the sight of the All-wise Judge unto whom the makers of all human law, as well as all other men, have to render an account.
Thy objection that if it is done for me others might ask it, and thus make trouble in collecting the tax, I apprehend is not well founded. The law will collect the tax, and it will much increase the difficulty, if there is any, for thee to decline to take all we can pay. For those who believe it to be their Christian duty to decline paying the war tax must, if they are consistent and faithful, decline to pay any of their tax unless it is taken without this, though it would cause much waste of our property, which I do not believe thou desires. If I did not appear and pay any part of my tax it would be no compromise on thy part of thy official duties; or if I paid half and did not appear again, that would be no fault of thine. It seems to me thy qualification requires thee to take all the tax that is offered, and the violation would be in declining to take it. The Constitution of Ohio says: “No interference with the rights of conscience shall be permitted.” I apprehend there is nothing in the law which prohibits thy taking the tax as I offer it; the experience of last year proves there was no risk or loss, except to those who pay in this way. The fear thou suggested, that many will ask it in this way, I presume will prove groundless. Men are not likely to risk the loss of their property in this way, except such as believe they have that at stake which is of more value than property.
If thou should comply with the request of a few who believe their best welfare is concerned in this matter, I am satisfied it will not compromise the duties of thy office, and it may be a more comfortable reflection to thy own mind than the consideration would be, that by refusing thou had caused waste of property, without benefiting any one. I was obliged by the kind manner in which thou heard me yesterday. I write this in the same feeling in which I spoke then, and desire thou may so receive it; and whatever thy decision may be, I hope to submit to it without any feeling of censure towards thee.
Respectfully thy friend,
Treasurer’s Office, St. Clairsville,
Mr. Joshua Maule, — Your favour of is received. You are not doing me justice when you attribute my refusal to grant your request to the idea that I consider your views whimsical. I do not base my decision on any views other than what I consider a strict construction of my duties under the law. I have no desire to use my brief power either for or against the interests or feelings of any man, but to endeavour faithfully to carry out the law under my official oath.
I consider you much mistaken in saying the law, which I read to you, contemplates such cases as yours. Let me quote Act of , Sec. 1: “That each person charged with any tax in the hands of any County Treasurer may, at his option, instead of paying the whole amount, pay one-half of said tax before the 20th of December, and the remaining half on or before the 20th of June ensuing.” This certainly does not permit any one to pay a portion of the half tax, or the whole tax other than the half. The Section 2 of the same act, which I read, conclusively proves to my mind that in the course you propose you would voluntarily pay the war tax on the amount so paid. Why not view it as paid by compulsion when I demand from you at the counter your whole tax? Very few men voluntarily and cheerfully pay their tax; it is only the fear of the law and the knowledge that their property would suffer if not paid that causes many to pay taxes.
Were I to grant your request and thus establish a new rule, I would lay the foundation for an immense amount of labour and trouble not contemplated by the law, as I could not well refuse another that which I had granted you and your friends. You say the Constitution grants liberty of conscience; so it does, but that does not apply to payment of taxes. You also say I am bound to receive all I can collect without distraining. My duty is plainly pointed out to me, — namely, to receive all I can collect or is offered me at my office, either the half or the whole tax, and if not so paid, then I am forced to collect by distraint.
I have endeavoured calmly and considerately to understand the law and my duty therein, and must repeat the decision I gave you at our interview, that I have no authority to divide either the whole or the half tax; and if not paid me by the time prescribed by law, to proceed to collect it by the force of the law. Towards you personally I have the highest regard, and trust that my course will not engender any ill feeling on the part of yourself and friends towards me, acting, as I do, in what I believe to be my duty under my official oath.
I am very truly yours,
Isaac Patterson, Treasurer, B. Co.
Notwithstanding the decided tone of this letter and the very little probability, if any, of my being allowed to pay the tax as I desired, I felt best satisfied to go and see the Treasurer again the day after his letter reached me. He received me pleasantly, and very soon inquired if voted at the last election. I told him I was not at the election. He then said if I had not voted for Lincoln and to sustain the present administration he would receive my tax as I offered to pay it, and so of all the Friends who had not voted. I told him that had nothing to do with the matter in hand; he had no right to question me in regard to voting with the view of basing his action thereon. I had voted for Lincoln at his first term, and if I had voted at the last election it would have been for him; I did not desire anything of him on this ground in regard to the tax, but on the ground of Christian principle. To this he replied: “I have known you well; you are a consistent man: I will take your tax as you desire.” Which he did, and that also of another Friend, which I paid in the same way. As I returned home my heart was filled with admiration of the goodness and wonder-working kindness of Him who turneth the hearts of men “as a man turneth his water-course in his field.” I am satisfied it was the secret operation of Divine power that changed the strong will of this man, with whom I could have no influence; and I was convinced that he used the plea as to my voting as an excuse, when at heart he felt it was right for him to take the money as I at first requested. He did not question Friends as to their voting who afterwards paid their tax in the same way. Oh that we might learn to render unhesitating obedience to the dictates of the Spirit of Truth in our own hearts, without reasoning upon the consequences! How often a way would be made where no way at first appeared, and we be guided, though as to a hair’s-brea[d]th, in the path that would lead to comfort and true peace, both in temporal things as well as in those of higher importance!
A little further on, he expresses his attitude toward voting in this way:
I did not vote when Abraham Lincoln was elected the second time, as I. Patterson had been told; though I voted for him at the first, in the hope that the war, then threatening, might be averted through his being elected. Before that time I had usually voted, though I had doubts as to the propriety of voting on the part of Friends who desired to walk in religious consistency. When the country was engaged in war I became fully convinced that to profess, as I was doing, to maintain a Christian testimony against war by declining to pay the tax required to support it, and at the same time to vote in the election of men whose legal duty, on accepting office, required them, in various ways, to direct and promote it, was inconsistent in itself and incompatible with the principles of the Gospel; since that time, more than twenty years, I have not voted.
In two other sections of the book, Maule relates his later experiences with the tax collector:
This year, , the newly-elected County Treasurer dealt moderately with me and received that part of my tax which was set down as to be applied to civil purposes. The collector distraining property for the war tax told me the amount of my bounty and war tax was one hundred and twenty-six dollars. He took a family carriage and a spring wagon, both in good repair; I paid five hundred dollars for a similar carriage and wagon to replace them. He afterwards informed me by letter that he had sold them for one hundred and sixty-six dollars, and that he had left forty dollars with the Treasurer to my credit: this I did not inquire after or claim in any way. At the time of the sale, which took place on my premises, a friendly neighbour asked me if he could do anything for me in any way to save loss on my property; but I told him he could not, and that I desired and intended to let the law take its course.
I think I was permitted throughout this transaction to experience somewhat of the feeling spoken of by early Friends when they took joyfully the spoiling of their goods. I was preserved from any desire to avert this waste of property, and for some days afterwards a feeling of peace and of sweet inward assurance of rectitude in desires and action attended my mind; and it still is renewed when I recur to the occasion. I gratefully admire how that in every step of this endeavour to bear a clean testimony, as the eye has been kept single to the true Source of help, with earnest desires to be rightly led and the will brought into subjection and true submission, strength has been afforded to meet every trial; and He who hath called to such a testimony hath not failed to verify His own words to one of the least of His creatures: “My grace is sufficient for thee.”
The collector of the war and bounty tax for stated that my war and bounty tax, with costs, &c., amounted to two hundred and eighty-five dollars. He went through my store and took such goods as he thought proper, — cloths, cassimeres, flannels, &c., — leaving a list showing, as he said, the sort, quantity, and price, which showed they cost me four hundred and forty-nine dollars and thirty cents. He took them, as I was informed, to the village of Pleasant Grove, where he disposed of them by public sale. I afterwards received the following letter:
St. Clairsville, .
Joshua and Jacob Maule, — Enclosed are your tax receipts for , and the surplus money from the sale of the goods on . If you desire, I can send you a copy of sale lists, as I have all correct. The surplus is thirty-one dollars and thirty-five cents. I could not stop at the time I would have liked to. I did the best under the circumstances that the case would admit of, and submit myself, respectfully,
T. J. Hawthorne
I returned to the collector the money he sent me, and informed him that I understood the law did not allow of more property being sold in such cases than what satisfied the claim; that if he would return my property as it was when he took it, I would receive it, but I would not receive the money for it after passing through his hands in the manner it had.
He also includes the text of a letter he sent to Joseph Hobson:
Since meeting with thee at Mount Pleasant an impression has attended my mind that it would be right for me to address a few lines to thee, and bring to thy view a matter which took place some years ago; and to revive in thy memory a subject which I would gladly be excused from speaking of; but while sitting in meeting to-day it pressed upon me with a feeling that it would not be best for me to delay it longer. It is what thou said to me on the subject of war taxes at Harrisville meetinghouse, at the time of quarterly meeting there, when informing me thou had paid the war taxes, which we had previously united in the belief it was not right for us to pay. Thou said, “I have done that which I knew to be wrong,” through the influence of others, whose names thou mentioned, and added, “but I never intend to do it again, or be influenced by them: I have had to suffer for it.”
It has come before me with a very serious and awful feeling of the great importance for thee weightily to consider, while time and opportunity is afforded, that thou did again, when the first occasion for it offered, do that evil thing which thou knew to be wrong; and that thou continued to do it year by year, thereby doing despite to the light and Divine Grace mercifully extended to thy own soul. And this revives that text which speaks of some “who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing.” I have been reuewedly impressed with the belief that the paying of this war money was an evil thing, and exceedingly offensive in the Divine sight for any to do who had been enlightened and given to see and know the peaceable nature of the Gospel dispensation as Friends profess to believe in it. And I am satisfied it will not stand thee in stead in the day of account, to say thou wast influenced by others to pay the price of blood, contrary to the secret convictions of thy own heart. I know the reasons and excuses which were given and made by the leaders of the people who caused them to err: that these taxes were mixed and could not be distinguished or separated from the other taxes, &c.; but thou knowest this was not true, for they were carefully divided and described, and plainly set before us, so that he that ran might read; and that for the war and bounty was not mixed with any other, until those who paid it voluntarily mixed it themselves, and thereby made it their own act to pay the price for men to go forth to the field of human slaughter. Oh! sad delusion, that any under the name of Friend should have become willing to do this; and the attempt to deny and cover the truth, Annanias-like, surely added to the offence.
He also includes the text of a letter he sent to Asa Branson:
I desire to refer, for thy consideration, to some things which took place in our meetings and elsewhere concerning the war tax. At a quarterly meeting held at Flushing this subject was before the meeting, and a lively exercise was manifested by a number that Friends should stand faithful to our principles and profession in this important testimony, as was shown by their expression. But this was mostly with such as were not prominent or foremost in the meeting: from the elders and heads of the meeting there was no encouragement to faithfulness in this concern. While it was under consideration thou boldly declared, as by authority, being clerk: “We can pay the tax, but we cannot fight.” And thou opposed any testimony being maintained against paying the war money, the hire of men to slay their brothers. Thou laboured with dark and subtle reasoning to destroy the conscientious scruples in the hearts of others: their voices were silenced, and darkness and death, spiritually, was, I believe, brought over the meeting, which appeared to acquiesce in the decision that we could freely pay the hire of other men to fight, but could not fight ourselves. I have no doubt the sin is less, in the Divine sight, with many who go, without due reflection and ignorantly, to the battle-field than it is with those whose eyes have been enlightened to see the peaceable nature of the Redeemer’s kingdom, and are professing to uphold it, yet voluntarily pay the wages of the warrior to lay it waste and to imbrue their hands in blood. Thy decision and arguments, with those of others who were like-minded, appeared to satisfy most of the members of the meeting: by this course they could save their property and avoid suffering, — a cogent argument, though no violation of our testimonies more plainly transgressed the letter of the discipline; but that was kept out of view, and abundant arguments were used by thyself and others, introducing things not named in the discipline, as the use of government money, &c., which confused and bewildered the honest-hearted with representations that these were as wrong as paying the war and bounty money. There appeared no concern with those who were promoting this work to admonish Friends to stand faithful to our principles and profession; no recommendation to take heed to that of which George Fox says: “I was glad I was commanded to turn people to that inward light, spirit, and grace by which all might know their salvation, and their way to God.” All of this character and tendency seemed to be lost sight of, and the war tax was paid with that blighting falsehood accompanying its performance which was so often uttered: “That it was a mixed tax and they could not avoid paying it.”
That worthy elder, Joseph Hobson, told me before the time of paying the tax that it was “his decided judgment Friends could not pay it without violating our discipline.” After the time of first paying it I inquired of him how he fared about it. With a sorrowful expression he replied: “I suffered myself to be influenced by Asa Branson and Nathan Hall,” an elder, “to do that which I knew to be wrong, and I paid the tax, but I intend they never shall influence me to do it again.” He had turned from the pure witness, and conferring with flesh and blood, he lost his strength, sold his birthright, and it was never restored to him again, for he continued to pay this tax while it was demanded. I wrote to him and brought this to his view, expressing my desire that, while time and opportunity were afforded, he might have it all removed out of his way. And I can say to thee in a measure of that feeling which sincerely desires the everlasting welfare of all, that surely thy ministry cannot profit thee or those who hear thee while these things remain uncondemned. The vessels to which the cleansing, purifying current of the Gospel is committed must themselves be clean and pure, and the exercise of the discipline by individuals and meetings upon whom the stain of this iniquity rests will be but a lifeless form, adding, I apprehend, to their further condemnation, as it can only be rightly exercised by those whose hands are clean in the support of our testimonies. It was said of Israel formerly: “Bring no more vain oblations: incense is an abomination unto me: the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them. And when ye spread forth your hands I will hide Mine eyes from you; yea, when you make many prayers I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.”
I desire to refer thee, my friend Isaac Mitchell, to some things thou said to me at my house before the war tax was paid. Thou told me that Friends must not pay it, saying: “They cannot consistently do it.” This was a comfort and encouragement to me. Some time after the tax-paying thou wast again at my house. I inquired how Friends of Flushing had proceeded about the tax. Thou said: “After I saw thee we conferred together and consulted with one another, and with Friends’ writings, and we decided it was best to pay it without making trouble, and we paid it;” and thou advised me to pay, and avoid making trouble about it. This fell upon my spirit with oppressive weight. Friends in the beginning were often charged with making trouble when they felt it to be their duty to stand faithful to these testimonies. I mourned because of the account thou gave me, yet I was satisfied there would be no safety for me in paying it, and I did not pay or make any compromise concerning it, though occasion was sought against me by such as should have encouraged me. Notwithstanding my property was wasted by the officers of the law, I believe those trials have been a blessing to me; and I am enabled, with gratitude of heart to the Preserver of men, to look back to the conflicts of that time, and rejoice that I was, though in a feeling of weakness, strengthened to hold fast my integrity in this vital testimony.
If faithfulness had been abode in by the elders and fathers in this thing, and against the blighting influence of Gurneyism, it may be the blessing of the Head of the Church would have rested on the yearly meeting, and He would have spared it, and many in it, “as a man spareth his own son that serveth him;” and also that the precious lives of many young men might have been spared, who, perceiving no difference in principle between paying for carrying on the war and engaging in it themselves, went down to that field of blood and perished there. “Will not the Lord visit for these things?” Are they not of serious importance to all who have been engaged in them? and if they are not removed, and pass “beforehand to judgment,” how will it be in that day of account, when profession will avail nothing; “when the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail”? For God shall bring every work into judgment with every secret thing, whether it be good or whether it be evil. I am as I have always been through the time of our acquaintance,
Your sincere friend,
Maule adds, “I received no reply to the above communication; there was not, to my knowledge, any objection made as to correctness to statements therein contained.”