Advices 12, 13 & 14 of the Elders at Balby
12.- That the necessities of the poor, widows and fatherless, may be truly supplied, and that such as are able to work, and do not, may be admonished: and if, after admonition, they refuse to work, then let them not eat. And that the children of such as are in necessity, be put to honest employment; that none be idle in the Lord's vineyard.
Comment: This advice recalls Advice No. 5, already discussed, in which it is advised that Friends make and properly administer collections "for the poor (that are so indeed)". Here, however, the qualification only hinted at with that phrase "that are so indeed" is made more explicit. The elders evidently wanted Friends to make sure that they cared for those who were truly poor, but not to enable (as we might phrase it today) any one whose poverty sprang from a simple refusal to work. Much of the language here (as in all these advices) comes directly from the Bible, including "let them not eat". We have to wonder how this advice was actually applied. Was tender love or "tough love" predominant? Who made the determination of whether a given poor person was unable to work or simply didn't want to? Was it understood that work should be fairly compensated and not under oppressive conditions? There are loopholes here that could be exploited for hard-hearted abuse. That wouldn't be a problem, however, if the advices were read "in the spirit" as their famous postscript urges, rather than in the letter.
13.-That care be taken, that as any are called before outward powers of the nation, that in the light, obedience to the Lord be given.
Comment: This seems to mean "obey God rather than men", but the meaning is not made explicit. I noticed that this advice was recently quoted in a document published by the Friends Committee on National Legislation. FCNL assumed that being called before the "outward powers of the nation" meant being pressed into military service. Sounds likely, but I would like the opinion of an historian. Remember that these advices pre-date the declaration to King Charles against wars and fightings with outward weapons.
14.-That if any be called to serve the commonwealth in any public service, which is for the public wealth and good, that with cheerfulness it be undertaken, and in faithfulness discharged: and that therein patterns and examples, in the thing that is righteous, you may be, to those that be without.
Comment: I just received a jury summons. Is that a case in point?
Labels: Balby advices