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trust be at fulf liberty to follow the leader in prayer, whenever they kneel down together before God.
In large societies, all the members of those little bands are to: meet together once a week with the preacher, and to spend an hour in speaking their experience one after another, as in our lovefeasts: and these meetings have been rendered a great blefling to maay.
In very large societies, there should be a quarterly love-feast for the bands, as well as for the whole fociety (which always in cludes the members of the bands.)
Wherever also it is practicable, there should be formed a selezo Society chosen out of the members of the bands. This should be composed of believers who enjoy the perfect love of God, or who are earnestly seeking that great bleiling. In London, Bristol, &c. &c. in Europe, and in New York, &c. on this continent, these felect focieties have been very profitable. They also meet once a week for an hour, and the preacher presides among them. Each member is at liberty to speak his or her experience, the preacher giving such advice respecting the grand point their souls are aiming at, as he sees expedient.
Thus does our economy by its prudential ordinances, under the grace of God, tend to raise the members of our society from one degree of grace to another. And we have invariably observed, that where these meetings of the bands have been kept up in their life and power, the revival of the work of God has been manifest both in the addition of nembers to the society, and in the deepening of the life of God in general.
We earnestly with, that our clders, deacons and preachers be peculiarly attentive to these blefled ordinances in their respective fpheres of action. They probably may find earnest believers in almost every circuit, who will be willing to meet in band, if properly advised and encouraged. And when many of these bands are formed, the other me tings may easily be established and regulated. And we believe, hardly any thing will promote the genera work more than this.
'The propriety of separating the men and women in these bands, must be evident to every one who considers the account here given of this means of grace. The separating of the married and fingle arises from the peculiar c'rcumttances in which they are situated, and from the closer union which is likely to fubfift between those who are circumstanced alike. Widowers or widows may have their choice of me ting either with the married or the fingle, unless a band can be formed of them alone respectively.
The ficial principe is one of the grand springs in the foul of man. It was not the design of christianity to annihilate this prin.. ciple, but the very contrary--to improve it, to spiritualize it, and ftrengthen it. O then let us exercise it in fpiritual intercourse;
as we well know that one part of our heavenly felicity will flow from friendship and union with our brethren the redeemed of the Lord to all eternity! Gal. vi. 2. “Bear ye one another's burdens, and fo fulfil the law of Christ.” 1 Cor. xii. 26, 27.
“ Whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it: or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice-with it. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.". Phil. ii. 1, 2. “ If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any-fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies: fulfil ye my joy, that ye be like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.” We have perhaps one hundred thousand believers in our church throughout the world; and if all were thus of one accord, “ walking by the same rule, minding the fame thing." Phil. iii. 16. What a glorious church should we make; and God would hear our prayers, and look down upon us with the fame delight, as if we were all assembled in the same room, or in the same temple.
Observe, here is nothing of auricular confession or priestly absolution: the whole is the fruit of holy confidence and christian love.
The directions for the bands are included in the rules of the socięty, and have been already considered, excepting the last, " To observe, as days of fasting or abstinence, all Fridays in the year.”. In every thing the true believer should be a pattern of piety and crucifixion to the world. The times of abstinence are therefore fixed, as being more easily observed than if they were uncertain ; that at all events the disciple of Christ may keep his body under, and bring it into subjection,
of the Privileges granted to serious Persons
who are not of the Society.
Queft. 1. OW often thall we permit strangers to
be present at the meeting of the fociety? Answ. At every other meeting of the society in every place, let no stranger be admitted. At other times they may; but the fame persons not above twice or thrice.
Quefl. 2. How often shall we permit strangers to be present at our love-feasts ?
among the people; and to afford them all necessary information in writing or otherwise concerning the temporal affairs of the circuit. 9. He is to keep the registers. Lastly, He is to be ready to promote the work of God in every thing which relates to * his office, under the direction of the travelling ministers and
preachers of his circuit. When we consider all these branches of his charge, we may truly say, that his office is essential to the good order of the society, and highly honourable in the church of God.
In each large society, there are generally two or four stewards of that particular fociety, for the management of its temporal
These are appointed as well as the circuit-stewards, by the preacher who has the charge of the circuit. He is himself to have as little as poslıble to do with temporal affairs, but has the appointment of the officers of the society invested in him, as being likely to be the best judge of the society at large, and of ea h member in particular. Nevertheless, he is to advise with the quarterly-meeting on the appointment of circuit-fiewards, and with the leaders of each society respectively on the appointment of society-ftewards.
Prov. xxviii. 20.“ A faithful man shall abound with bleflings." I Cor. iv. 2. “ It is required in stewards, that they be found faithful.” See also James i. 27. and Matt. v. 9.
Of unlawful Marriages. Quej. 1.
evil which has prevail. D
ed among our societies with respect to marriage.
Anfw. Many of our members have married with unawakened perfons. This has produced bad effects; they have been either hindered for life, or have turned back 'to perdition.
Quest. 2. What can be done to put a stop to this?
Anw. i. Let every preacher publicly enforce the apoftle's caution, “ Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers.”
2. Let him openly declare, whoever does this, will be expelled the society.
such is expelled, let a suitable exhortation be subjoined.
4. Let all be exhorted to take no step in so weighty a matter, without advising with the most serious of their brethren.
Queft. 3. Ought any woman to marry without the consent of her parents ?
Answ. In general she ought not. Yet there may be exceptions. For if, 1. A woman be under the necesa fity of marrying: If, 2. Her parents abfolutely refuse to let her marry any chriftian : Then fhe may, nay, ought to marry without their consent. Yet even then a Methodist preacher ought not to be married to her.
N. B. By the word unawakened, as used above, we mean one whom we could not in conscience admit into fociety. We do not prohibit our people from marrying persons who are not of our society, provided, such persons have the form, and are seeking the power of godliness; but if they marry persons who do not come up to this description, we shall be obliged to purge our society of them: And even in a doubtful case, the member of our society shall be put back upon trial.
Ν Ο Τ Ε S.
We are well assured that few things have been more pernicidus to the work of God, than the marriage of the children of God with the children of this world. We therefore think ourselves obliged to bear our testimony, both in doctrine and discipline, against so great an evil. We have added the explication in the nota bene, hoping that thereby the preachers who have the overfight of circuits, will be easily enabled to determine on every point which may come before them, to the fatisfaction of the truly pious, and to the prevention of a practice so exceedingly injurious to vital religion.
We need only add a few texts out of the word of God for the confirmation of it. Gen. vi. 1-7. “ And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them; that the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose. And the Lord said, My Spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years. There were giants in the earth in
those days; and also after that, when the fons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them: the same became nighty men, which were of old men of renown. And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And the LORD said, I will destroy man, whom I have created, from the face of the earth, both man and beast, and the creeping things, and the fowls of the air : for it repenteth me that I have made them.” We have given this long quotation, as it evidently news, that one grand cause of the universal and entire depravity of the human race just before the deluge, and of the universal deluge itself, was the intermixture by marriage of the children of God with the children of this world. Gen. xxiv. 2-4. “And Abraham said unto his eldest servant of his house, I will make thee swear ty the Lord, the God of heaven and the God of the earth, that thou shalt not take a wife unto my son of the daughters of the Canaanites amongst whom I dwell: but thou shalt go unto my country, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son Isaac." xxvi. 46. “ And Rebeckah said to Isaac, I am weary of my life, because of the daughters of Heth; if Jacob take a wife of the daughters of Heth, such as these which are of the daughters of the land, what good ihall my life do me?” xxviii. 1. “And Ifaac called Jacob, and blessed him, and charged him, and said unto him, 'Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan.” Ver. 6–9. “ When Esau saw that Ifaac had blessed Jacob, and sent him away to Padan-aram, to take him a wise from thence; and that as he blessed him, he gave him a charge, saying, Thou Thalt not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan; and that Jacob obeyed his father, and his mother, and was gone to Padan-aramı; and Efau seeing that the daughters of Canaan pleafed not Isaac his father : Then went Efau unto Ishmael, and took unto the wives which he had, Mahalath, the daughter of Hhmael Abraham's fon, &c." Efau therefore married his first cousin. But did he please Jsaac thereby ? No, nor God. Ifaac wanted his sons to marry those, who sincerely waited for the Messiah, the promised feed of the woman. See Gen. iii. 15. Matt. xix. 5, 6. “For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they twain shall be one fick. Wherefore they are no more twain, but one Pefk.” See also Gen. ii. 24. and Erh. v. 31. 2 Cor. vi. 14--18. " Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers : for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness ? and what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? and what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said,