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With respect to the other rite, we believe that communion between Christ and his church is not maintained by that, nor any other external performance, but only by a real participation of his divine nature, through faith ; that this is the supper alluded to in Revelation,' "Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me;" and that where the substance is attained, it is unnecessary to attend to the shadow; which doth not confer grace, and concerning which opinions so different, and animosities so violent, have arisen.
Now, as we thus believe that the grace of God, which comes by Jesus Christ, is alone sufficient for salvation, we can neither admit that it is conferred on a few only, whilst others are left without it; nor, thus asserting its universality, can we limit its operation to a partial cleansing of the soul from sin, even in this life. We entertain worthier notions both of the power and goodness of our heavenly Father, and believe that he doth vouchsafe to assist the obedient to experience a total surrender of the natural will, to the guidance of his pure unerring Spirit ; through whose renewed assistance they are enabled to bring forth fruits unto holiness, and to stand perfect in their present rank."
There are not many of our tenets more generally known than our testimony against Oaths, and against War. With respect to the former of these, we abide literally by Christ's positive injunction, delivered in his sermon on the mount, 66 Swear not at all.”w From the same sacred collection of the most excellent precepts of moral and religious duty, from the example of our Lord himself,* and from the correspondent convictions of his Spirit in our hearts, we are confirmed in the belief that wars and fightings are, in their origin and effects, utterly repugnant to the gospel ; which still breathes peace and good-will to men. We also are clearly of the judgment, that if the benevolence of the gospel were generally prevalent in the minds of men, it would effectually prevent them from oppressing, much more enslaving their brethren (of whatever colour or complexion,) for whom, as for themselves, Christ died; and would even influence their conduct in their treatment of the brute cre
$ 2 Pet. i. 4. t Rev. iij. 20. u Niatt. y. 48. Eph.iv. 13. Col. iv.12. w Matt. v. 34.
* Matt. v. 39, 44, &c, ch. xxvi. 52, 53. Luke xxii. 51, John xviii, 11.
ation; which would no longer groan, the victims of their avarice, or of their false ideas of pleasure.
Some of our tenets have in former times, as hath been shown, subjected our friends to much suffering from government, though to the salutary purposes of government our principles are a security. They inculcate submission to the laws in all cases wherein conscience is not violated. But we hold, that as Christ's kingdom is not of this world, it is not the business of the civil magistrate to interfere in matters of religion; but to maintain the external peace and good order of the community. We therefore think persecution, even in the smallest degree, unwarrantable. We are careful in requiring our members not to be concerned in illicit trade, nor in any manner to defraud the revenue.
It is well known that the society, from its first appearance, has disused those names of the months and days, which having been given in honour of the heroes or false gods of the heathen, originated in their flattery or superstition; and the custom of speaking to a single person in the plural number, as having arisen also from mộtives of adulation. Compliments, superfluity of apparel and furniture, outward shows of rejoicing and mourning, and the observation of days and times, we esteem to be incompatible with the simplicity and sincerity of a Christian life; and public diversions, gaming, and other vain amusements of the world, we cannot but condenın. They are a waste of that time which is given us for nobler purposes; and divert the attention of the mind from the sober duties of life, and from the reproofs of instruction, by which we are guided to an everlasting inheritance.
To conclude; although we have exhibited the several tenets which distinguish our religious society, as objects of our belief; yet we are sensible that a true and living faith is not produced in the mind of man by his own effort; but is the free gift of God in Christ Jesus, nourished and increased by the progressive operation of his Spirit in our hearts, and our proportionate obedience. Therefore, although for the preservation of the testimonies given us to bear, and for the peace and good order of the society, we . deem it necessary that those who are admitted into membership with us, should be previously convinced of those
y Eph. ii. 8.
z John vii, 17.
loctrines Waription to anation for these
doctrines which we esteem essential ; yet we require no formal subscription to any articles, either as a condition of membership, or a qualification for the service of the church. We prefer the judging of men by their fruits, and depending on the aid of Him, who, by his prophet, hath promised to be " a spirit of judgment to him that sitteth in judgment." Without this, there is a danger of receiving numbers into outward communion, without any addition to that spiritual sheepfold, whereof our blessed Lord declared himself to be both the door and the shepherd;" that is, such as know his voice, and follow him in the paths of obedience.
Its Purposes. Meetings for Discipline. Monthly Meetings. Poor.
Convinced Persons. Certificates of Removal. Overseers. Mode of Dealing with Of'enders. Arbitration. Marriages. Births and Burials. Quarterly Meetings. Queries. Appeals. The Yearly Meeting. Women's Meetings. Meetings of Ministers and Elders. Certificates to Ministers. The Meetings for Sufferings. Conclusion.
The purposes which our discipline hath chiefly in view, are, the relief of the poor; the maintenance of good order; the support of the testimonies which we believe it is our duty to bear to the world, and the help and recovery of such as are overtaken in faults. · In the practice of discipline, we think it indispensable that the order recommended by Christ himself be invariably observed. " If thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone; if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother ; but if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses, every word may be established; and if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church.”
To effect the salutary purposes of discipline, meetings were appointed, at an early period of the society, which, from the times of their being held, were called Quarterly meetings. It was afterward found expedient to 'divide
the districts of those meetings, and to meet more frequente ly; from whence arose Monthly meetings, subordinate to those held quarterly. At length, in 1669, a Yearly meeting was established, to superintend, assist, and provide rules for the whole ; previously to which, general meetings had been occasionally held.
A Monthly meeting is usually composed of several particular congregations,' situated within a convenient distance from each other. Its business is to provide for the subsistence of the poor, and for the education of their offspring : to judge of the sincerity and fitness of persons appearing to be convinced of the religious principles of the society, and desiring to be admitted into membership ; to excite due attention to the discharge of religious and moral duty; and to deal with disorderly members. Monthly Meetings also grant to such of their members as remove into other Monthly meetings certificates of their membership and conduct; without which they cannot gain membership in such meetings. Each Monthly meeting is required to appoint certain persons, under the name of overseers, who are to take care that the rules of our discipline be put in practice: and when any case of complaint, or disorderly conduct comes to their knowledge, to see that private admonition, agreeably to the gospel rule beforementioned, be given, previously to its being laid before the Monthly meeting.
When a case is introduced, it is usual for a small committee to be appointed, to visit the offender, to endeavour to convince him of his error, and to induce him to forsake and condemn it. If they succeed, the person is by minute declared to have made satisfaction for the offence; if not, he is disowned as a member of the society.
In disputes between individuals, it has long been the
e Fox, 390.
f Where this is the case, it is usual for the members of each congregation to form what is called a Preparative meeting, because its business is to prepare whatever may occur among themselves, to be laid before the Monthly meeting.
g On application of this kind, a small committee is appointed to visit the party, and report to the Monthly meeting; which is directed by our rules not to admit any into membership, without allowing a seasonable time to consider their conduct.
h This is generally done by a written acknowledgment, signed by the offender.
i This is done by what is termed a Testimony of denial; which is a paper reciting the offence, and sometimes the steps which have led to it; next, the means unavailingly used to reclaim the offender; after that, a clause disowning him ; to which is usually added an expression of desire for his repentance, and for his being restored to membership.
decided judgment of the society, that its members should not sue each other at law. It therefore enjoins all to end their differences by speedy and impartial arbitration, agreeably to rules laid down. If any refuse to adopt this mode, or, having adopted it, to submit to the award, it is the direction of the Yearly meeting that such be disowned.
To monthly meetings also belongs the allowing of marriages; for our Society hath always scrupled to acknowledge the exclusive authority of the priests in the solemnization of marriage. Those who intend to marry, appear together, and propose their intention to the Monthly meeting; and if not attended by their parents and guardians, produce a written certificate of their consent, signed in the presence of witnesses. The meeting then appoints a committee to inquire whether they be clear of other engagements respecting marriage; and if at a subsequent meeting, to which the parties also come and declare the continuance of their intention, no objections be reported, they have the meeting's consent to solemnize their intended marriage. This is done in a public meeting for worship, - toward the close whereof the parties stand up, and solemnly take each other for husband and wife. A certificate of the proceedings is then publicly read, and signed by the parties, and afterward by the relations and others as witnesses. Of such marriage the Monthly meeting keeps a record; as also of the births and burials of its members. A certificate of the date, of the name of the infant, and of its parents, signed by those present at the birth, is the subject of one of these last-mentioned records; and an order for the interment, countersigned by the gravemaker, of the other. The naming of children is without ceremony. Burials are also conducted in a simple manner. The body, followed by the relations and friends, is sometimes, previously to interment, carried to a meeting; and at the grave a pause is generally made; on both which occasions it frequently falls out, that one or more friends present have somewhat to express for the edification of those who attend; but no religious rite is considered as an essential part of burial.
Several Monthly meetings compose a Quarterly meeting. At the Quarterly meeting are produced written answers from the Monthly meetings, to certain queries respecting the conduct of their members, and the meetings' care over