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BELOW TM PULPIT.
WITH THE FRIENDS.
[By our Special Reporter.]
One of the most curioas systems of wor ship represented in the religious life of Adelaide is that of the Quakers— or, as they prefer, to be called, the Society of Friends.
This church— founded by George Fox, a shoemaker, of Drayton, Leicestershire, in 1624— while professing the . fundamental facts of Christianity, holds, as its leading principle, ? the doctrine of- the 'internal light,' believing that the Holy Spirit, or the Indwelling Christ, 'alone maketh wise to salvation, illuminating the mind with true and spiritual knowledge.' The Friends say that the call to theChristian ministry ia 'not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father,' and is bestow ed irrespective of rank, talent, learning, or Eex. Consequently they do . not consider ''human learning' essential to a minister of the Gospel, and look with distrust on tho training methods of other denominations. They maintain the absolutely voluntary cha racter of religious obb'gations, and believe that Christians should do all for love, and nothing for money. . Those to whom the call to the ministry has come, and who give proof to this effect, have that gift ac knowledged by the church, and are called 'recorded ministers;' but this does not free them from business or| home claims, or en title them to any remuneration. While the Friends glory in exercising their spiritual gjfts when engaged m their ordinary avoca tions, they feel it a privilege to give assis tance to those whose call may interfere with the ordinary business life. With the Quakers worship does not consist in the use
or disuse of ceremonial; ib \s the intercourse of the soul with God, and may be either with or without words, but must be in spirit and in truth. The mode of conduct ing service is never preordained, for wor ship is deemed to be an attitude .rather than an act; and', 'though the Quaker docs not worship silence, lie often worships in si lence.' Singing has no place itf the ordi nary service., The worshippers prefer to 'make melody in the heart unto God,' this being, in their estimation, more spiritua' than the outward service of the voice. War is held to be contrary to the' spirit of Christianity, and militaiy systems are diametrically; regarded as opposed to the teaching of Christ. The Friends have long stood firmly for the bloodless settlement of international disputes. They literally in terpret the words of Christ, 'Swear not at all,' and 'Let your Yea be yea, and your Nay, nay,' and object to taking an oath in a court of justice or for any purpose what ever. Baptism they reject as a carnal ordinance imposed until a time of reforma tion, and the place of the Lord's Supper must be taken by 'a true and living and satisfying communion with the Lord.' Mi nor scruples indude objections to.'bal|s, gaming places, horse races, and playhouses, music, musical exhibitions (such ag ora torios), plays, romances, novels, and other pernicious books.' Then* unswerving con demnation .of slavery, exemplified in the work of William Penn (founder of the Quaker State of Pennsylvania), and the writings of Whittier, the Quaker poet, is a matter of ldstory. The stand they have taken in other reforms dealing with social evils will also be remembered, and the world is still talking of. the famous tempe rance work of Mr. Rowntree and the gene rosity of Mr. Cadbury, two noted members of the Society. Incidentally one may sug gest that there seems to be an intimate con nection betwetn Quakerism and cocoa, for three world-known cocoa manufacturers like Cadbury, Fry, and Rowntree are all connected with the Society of Friends. Mr. Edwin Cadbury, a son of the head of the firm of that name, visited Adelaide about three years ago, and Mr. Rowntree was also in this city subsequently. The Friends have foreign missions in operation in India, Madagascar, Syria, China, and Ceylon. —The Adelaide Mating House.— Last Sunday morning I proceeded in tho direction of St. Peter's Cathedral at a few minutes before 11. My attention was ar rested by a notice board just within Pen nington terrace, notifying the passer-by that the Friends' Meeting House was there situ ated, and that sendee was held every First Day at 11 o'clock. I had never attended a Quakers' meeting, and did not recollect hav ing seen in Adelaide any wearers of the masculine 'Quaker hate' of paternal tra dition, or hearing within the state a com mon conversation interlarded with the rich and full 'thec' and 'thou' of an older day, that I had been told was affected by every ? member of the Society of Friends.
.Turning up a right-of-way, I passed through a pair oflarge picket gates, and came upon the meeting house. Quaint and old fashion ed it looked, as to my mind befitted its pur nose. Of wood throughout, it had a bunga low roof, covered with slates, surrounded with oU-sWe weatherboards (evidently hand planed), and supported at the eaves bv- 'verandah posts' of 1-in. round iron. The little boxlike porch seemed to be a later addition, contrived from woodwork that had served some other purpose, and a lean to of galvanized iron at the other extremity appeared to be entirely out of place. For some moments I was alone, and had oppor tunity to view the surroundings. The piece of land on which the church stood -was squnre and snug, ag though cut off from the allotment in front. The shingle fence at one side divided this simple house of devo tion from the great Cathedral, from which at that moment was pouring forth a noble flood of organ melody; and the white marble symbols of redemptive love on the lofty spires were lighted with a. glint of sun Rhine from a rift in the iram cloud that liung full of promise for material blessing. Around were clustered cottages, whicn seemed to be trying to crowd out the little meeting house as unworthy of the place it occupied. All about me the raindrops fell from uncared-for trees, to one of which a horse was tied. A trapshed and tbe clumpy growth of gross on well-trodden ground tokf that the little congregation came in their vehicles from long distances. The only evidence of attention in the way of gardening was a miscellaneous variety of plants and creepers near to the western fence. Now an old gentleman, short, white haired, and pleasant featured— who, I af terwards learnt, was Mr. W. Smith, the ac knowledged minister in Adelaide— appeared.
—A Neglected Cemetery.— I called. Mr. Smith's attention in some surprise to a tombstone laid flat on seve ral courses of brick which had just attrac ted my notice, and remarked that I did not know any. one was buried within the city. 'Oh, yes,' he said; 'there are 17 persons lying in this churchyard. They were in terred here between 50 and 60 years ago, but the Government forbade any more burials to take place in the ground. There are two other graves between that tomb stone and the church, some more where that horse ia standing, and a few on the south ern side of the meeting house.' 1 stepped over, and read on the stone before me this memorial of sorrow long past:— 'In memory of Mary Ann Barritt, died 5th 4th Mo., 1849, aged .32 years; and her son Joseph Edwin Barritt. who was drowned 8th 2nd Mo., 1849, aged 5 years.' , —An Early Building.— By this time it was 11.15 by the clock, but the Friends present (who numbered only two) did not appear anxious to begin their meeting, and waited until others ar rived. Meanwhile I had asked the minister for particulars regarding the building and its age. 'Don't raow its age,' said he; 'but it was brought from England in sec tions somewhere in the forties; it cost about £200 landed at tbe Port, and as much again to cart it here in bullock drays and erect it where it stands. Those were
the days of Governor Gawler, which you have read about, 'when all the bills were dis honoured. Labour, too, was very scarce and expensive. The late Mr. Barton Hack gave us this piece of land, and he had the con tract 'for tbe building. The land extended to the terrace, but the title had not been properly completed. There was a hitch when his estate was gone into, and the parties who dealt with It sold the front portion of this property to balance the accounts.' Mr. Benjamin Robson, tbe clerk of the society, then came up, and told me that there were in all 80 Quakers in South Australia. 'Just about the same number we had 60 years ago,' said the minister; 'but they have been much fewer, and are now coming up again.' 'This,' continued Mr. Robson, 'is our only, meeting house. We used to have a meeting in Mrs. Colman's private house, at Mount Barker. The old lady, who was, I believe, one of the foundation members here, now lives at Blaekwood, and we are opening -u meeting there.' —The Service.— The members stepped within the church, and asked if I would hie to follow] I did so. Minister and clerk walked up the dop ing floor, and seated themselves on a form close to the further wall. Two ladies and a gentleman occupied another form on one side, another man took a lone seat opposite, and I sat just in the rear; so that there were seven present. Within half a minute absolute stillness prevailed, Bave for ..the ticking of an eight-day clock suspended against the matchboarded wall. I looked before me. Parson and clerk were sitting calm and unmoved, with eyes closed and fingers clasped before them. The other four Quakers seemed equally lost in meditation and oblivious to their sunoundinzs. The clock ticked rapidly, and I found myBelf taking a mental inventory of the room. Walls painted 'light washing-day blue;1' forms, would probably seat 90 people, col oured blue-grey; deal table same tinge (square legs); green tablecloth, pattern in black; gas laid on; total value of furnish ings £20. Oh, no; a piano— what for I could not divine, as there is no singing in the service (was afterwards informed that it was used in tbe adults' Sunday school). Thanks for that clock; it gives some sem blance of life to the place! After 10 minutes of stillness Friend Smith slowly stood up, and remarked — 'We are assured that where two or three are gathered together, there will God be in the midst. We believe that in silence we can draw near and worship in spirit Him who ia a Spirit. It is not in form and ceremony, but from the heart, that God must be worshipped. It is well to read a portion of Scripture at times, that we may understand it and ponder ib in our minds.' He then read Matthew x. 40, xi. 15. In three minutes the ticking clock once more held sway. In the next interval I noticed that each of the longer sides of the ' building was made up of seven panels 4 ft wide, and lighted by three 12-paned win dows five or six feet from the floor. The fiound of praise from the Cathedral came as a _ relief from . the silence of the gathering. . . . But my friend just in front is on his knees. There is a movement hvthc congregation, and I kneel too: but this is not the proper thing, for tho rest of the people are standing! Th.. man before me offers a short extempore petition that, withdrawn from the world, they might in spirit take hold on God. and that the work of all ministers and Christian preachers, churches, and missions might be blest. Tho people resume their scats. In a few minu tes the old minister's fingers move. He takes the Bible, turns over two or three leaves, and— puts the book down again! A. quarter of an hour longer, and he again rises to his feet— this time to give a short address. He states that he has often thought they had, in a manner, too much silence in their worship. He believed, how ever, it never was intended to degenerate into a formal service, with frequent and perhaps much useless' speaking: the object of the silence being to bring the soul into an attitude to receive God's will. -- Tiiey, were there for. somctliinE more than to ?pour out the mind to the Father in secret— something more than praise; in order that the heart might be filled with knowledge, which, if not then to be spoken aloud, would serve some future requirement. Eve.i though they might never be called upon to preach aloud to men, by thus wait ing upon the Lord they received instruction from the Master, and. were assured of Hia presence with them to renew their strength. Once more the old man sat down by tbe immobile clerk, and for another long period— it seemed interminable— the hands and works of the old timepiece were the only moving things in the room. Then the white-haired minister's hand stole softly towards that of his friend, who grasped iti with a formal pressure. This was the sig nal for the close qf the meeting. The Friends moved to the door, and greeted each other heartily; and the service waa over. I was informed that the ordinary at tendance wns 15 out of the 20 or so local Qualwrs, and that about the same number came to the Sunday school for Bible study. Once more in the fresh cool air, the drip, drip from the trees in the park and the ?varied Founds of street life seemed a glad relief from the tedious hour and a quarter, of which, four-fifths had been passed in silence.