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WHILST the yearly meeting, in granting an appeal, considers it a precious privilege, it is affectionately desired that all may be careful how they encourage persons, of improper dispositions, to trouble superior meetings therewith.
If any be dissatisfied with, or think themselves aggrieved by, the judgment of a monthly meeting, they may, after a copy of the testimony of disownment is delivered to them, notify the first or second monthly meeting following, (but not after,) of their intention of appealing to the ensuing quarterly meeting; which notification the monthly meeting should enter on minute, and appoint a committee to attend the quarterly meeting, with a copy of the proceedings relative to the case, signed by the clerk; there to show the reasons on which that judgment was founded: the quarterly meeting is then to refer the same to a committee of Friends, omiting those of the monthly meeting from whence it came; and they are to confirm or reverse the judgment, as, on impartial examination, shall appear to be right, except they find that the case has not been acted on in the monthly meeting according to discipline; and, if so, it is to be returned to the monthly meeting of such proceedings for reexamination; taking care to inform the appellant of the result.
If any appellant, on being informed of the judgment of a quarterly meeting, shall be dissatisfied therewith, he or she may notify that, or the next quarterly meeting, (but not after,) of his or her intention of applying to the next yearly meeting for a rehearing: the said quarterly meeting,
after recording such notification, is, in like manner, to appoint a committee to attend the yearly meeting, with copies of the records of the monthly and quarterly meetings in the case, signed by the clerks. Here it is to be finally determined, except they find that the proceedings have not been acted on according to discipline by the monthly or quarterly meeting; in which case it is to be returned to the meeting of such proceedings for reexamination; but if the judgment of the quarterly meeting be confirmed, a copy of the determination is to be sent thereto, and from thence to the monthly meeting. Notices of appeals are to be forwarded from subordinate to superior meetings, in the regular reports of such meetings.
It is our earnest solicitude, that Friends may maintain the discipline of the church in the spirit of the gospel, which breathes "peace on earth, and good will to men." Under the influence of this, they will be favoured with wisdom prudently to determine the affairs of society, and thereby be more likely to prevent appeals coming to the yearly meeting, which, besides tending to prolong it, sometimes occasion uneasiness to the body.
When differences arise between our members in regard to their property, they are to proceed in the following manner: The party who thinks himself or herself aggrieved, should, in the first place, calmly and kindly request the other to comply with the demand; and if this be refused, the complainant himself, (or agent, if residing at too great distance,) should take with him one or two overseers, or other discreet Friends; and, in their presence, repeat the demand.
If this step also fail, and the matter appear a plain account or bond, against which no reasonable objection is made, the party complained of should be advised to settle it without farther trouble; but if there appear difficulty in the matter under dispute, or unsettled difference in accounts, or other reasonable objections, the parties should be advised to choose a suitable number of Friends as arbitrators.
Should this proposal be acceded to, the arbitrators ought, as speedily as circumstances will admit, to appoint a time and place, and attend to the business without unnecessary delay; giving the parties a fair and full hearing in the presence of each other, but listening to neither of them apart, nor suffering their own sentiments to be known abroad till they have fully digested the subject, and come to a clear decision; which they should be careful to do within the time agreed on.
But if either of the parties refuse the counsel of Friends in the matter under dispute; or when arbitrators are chosen, neglect to give his or her attendance when desired, without assigning sufficient reasons; or not abide by their award when issued; in either of these cases, the person so offending should be complained of to the monthly meeting of which he or she is a member; and if the brotherly endeavours and admonitions of society, in this capacity, fail to produce a conformity to justice in the case, the meeting should proceed to disown the offender, unless such person make it evident that the award or proceedings have been erroneous or unjust; in which case the matter in dispute may be referred to the same, or other arbitrators, as the meeting shall judge best, and their award shall be final. After which, if either of the parties prove so regardless of peace and unity, as not to acquiesce in such confirmed or corrected determination, the monthly meeting to which he or she belongs, should disown the person so refusing.
That arbitrators may better answer the end of their appointment, and be helpful in conciliating the minds of the parties, they ought not to consider themselves as advocates for those by whom they are chosen, but as men whose duty it is to 'judge righteously, fearing the Lord.' They should shun all previous information respecting the case; or having heard any thing of it, remain, as much as possible, unbiased thereby. They should reject no evidence, nor receive any, but in the presence of both parties.
And whereas there may be some circumstance, even in disputed matters, wherein the foregoing equitable mode of proceeding cannot be complied with; such as the party
absconding or leaving the country, with design to defraud his or her creditors; or apparent danger of bankruptcy, and other creditors generally coming on, which would occasion damage to the claimant, by the time it would take to pursue the above method; or where there may be danger of future damage, as in case of executors, administrators, trustees, and legatees: it may, therefore, be necessary, and it is directed, that monthly meetings, where such things happen, and which, on due inquiry, appear truly such, hold excused such as shall, in the before mentioned cases in this paragraph, appear to them really necessitated to proceed at law or equity. And in case of executors, administrators, trustees, and legatees, where it shall appear to the meeting that the matter is of importance, and that our friendly way would be unsafe, such may be permitted to have the matter tried at law or equity: also in cases concerning the titles of land, with this caution, 'that the parties on both sides behave towards each other in brotherly love, decency and moderation;' which will be a becoming testimony in courts, and show that nothing but the nature of the case, and our station, in common with others under the law of the land, take any of us there.
As it may sometimes occur, that a member, either for want of a clear understanding of the business, or through improper influence, may present a complaint against another; in such case, the overseers, after fully hearing both parties, and being decidedly of opinion that the case does not require a reference, are to advise a speedy settlement of it; when, if that be ineffectual, and the complainant remain dissatisfied, he or she may have liberty to inform the preparative meeting of which the other is a member, that 'having a matter in dispute with one of its members, he or she is desirous of assistance in settling it.' The said meeting is then to appoint a judicious committee to inquire into the propriety of leaving the matter to arbitration: if they judge that the complaint ought to be referred, they are to advise that it be submitted accordingly; but if they concur in judgment with the overseers, the complaint is to be dismissed.
If any preparative meeting thinks any matter too
weighty or inconvenient for it to manage, it may move it to the monthly meeting, which is to proceed in the same manner as directed to preparative meetings.
It is the advice of the yearly meeting, that our members who differ on account of worldly affairs, avoid, as much as possible, choosing Friends in the ministry as arbitrators.
As inconvenience may arise from a want of due attention to keeping regular records of births and deaths, it is enjoined upon each monthly meeting to appoint a careful Friend, whose duty it shall be to keep, in a book provided at the expense of the monthly meeting, a record of all marriages, certificates, births and deaths within its limits, which shall be offered to him for that purpose.
Friends are also enjoined to maintain our testimony against affixing superfluous monuments, of any description, to graves; and if any are placed thereat, that they be forthwith removed: and that they avoid the custom of wearing or giving mourning habits, and all extravagant expenses, on account of the dead.
It is the sense of the yearly meeting, that no member of our society shall print or publish any book or writing, having a tendency to excite disunity or discord; nor on any religious subject, without the perusal and approbation of such Friends as shall be appointed for that purpose. And if any shall print or publish any such book or writing, without consent of such committee, they are to be complained of to the monthly meeting to which they belong, and unless they condemn the same, to the satisfaction of said meeting, to be disowned.
When Friends are about to remove from one monthly meeting to another, they ought to apply to the monthly
meeting to which they belong for certificates of their membership; and such meeting, if nothing appear to obstruct it, ought to grant such applicants certificates, setting forth their right of membership, directed to the monthly meetings within the limits of which they are going to reside. And when a person receives a certificate of removal, if it be not accepted by the monthly meeting to which it is directed, nor returned by the individual as a resident, within twelve months from the date thereof, the monthly meeting which granted the certificate may disown such, unless some satisfactory reason be given.
If any in profession with us remove without first applying for certificates, and have not otherwise misbehaved, the monthly meeting shall send certificates to the monthly meetings within the limits of which they may reside, certifying their right of membership. If such have otherwise misbehaved, and removed without the acknowledged limits of any monthly meeting, the monthly meeting may disown them; and if within the limits of any monthly meeting, may forward a certificate with a statement of such misbehaviour, to such monthly meeting as they may have removed to, which monthly meeting may deal with or disown them.
All certificates of removal, prepared for women Friends, after being considered in their meeting, are to be sent to the men's, and if there approved, signed by both clerks.
When apprentices, or persons under age, are under the necessity of going from one place to another, their parents or guardians, masters or mistresses, should apply for certificates for them, recommending them to the care and oversight of the monthly meeting to which they remove.
When approved ministers move from one monthly meeting to another, they are to have certificates, setting forth their station and the unity Friends have with them therein. But when elders remove out of the limits of their quarterly meetings, they have not a right to a certificate of their eldership, but only as other members.
It is advised, that when any appearance of dissension, variance, or resentment, shall be discovered amongst our members, the parties be tenderly apprised of the danger to which it exposes them and others, and exhorted to mutual condescension and forgiveness; and if any, notwithstanding such admonition, manifest an implacable animosity, the overseers, or other solid Friends, of the monthly meeting to which they belong, should be informed thereof, and labour further with them; and if they still prove inflexible, they should be disowned, as out of the unity of the body.
It is the sense of the yearly meeting, that if any of our members accept, or act in, the office of member of the federal or state legislature, justice of the peace, clerk of a court, coroner, sheriff or constable, that they be dealt with, and if they cannot be convinced of the inconsistency of their conduct, after sufficient labour, they be disowned.
All who are guilty of lying, swearing, cursing; men and women unlawfully keeping company with each other, or any other scandalous practice; and all who occasion public scandal, should be dealt with by the overseers, or other concerned Friends; and if they are brought to a sense of their offence, they ought, without improper delay, to remove the scandal, and clear, as much as in them lies, our holy profession therefrom, by acknowledging the offence, and condemning the same, to the satisfaction of the monthly meeting. And when any such offenders refuse or neglect to acknowledge and condemn the fault, the monthly meeting should speedily disown them.
If any in membership with us shall blaspheme, or speak profanely of ALMIGHTY GOD, CHRIST JESUS, or the HOLY SPIRIT, or deny the Divinity of our Lord and Saviour Jesus
Christ, the immediate revelation of the Holy Spirit, or the authenticity of the Scriptures,--as it is manifest, that they are not one in faith with us, the monthly meeting to which they belong, having extended due care for the benefit of such individuals without effect, should disown them.
It is directed that the following order be observed respecting persons who apply for admittance into membership:--They are to apply to the overseers, or other discreet Friends, who are to lay the case before the preparative meeting; and after that meeting is fully satisfied, by paying a visit, or otherwise, they are to lay it before the monthly meeting; and if said meeting is not free to receive them at that time, it is to appoint some suitable Friends to inquire into the lives and conversation of the applicants, and also to take solid opportunities of conference with them, in order to understand whether their motives for such request are sincere, and on the ground of convincement, and report their sense; with which, if the meeting is satisfied, a minute should be made, signifying the acceptance of such into membership. Such as have once been members, and have been disowned, are, if they wish to join in society again, to request as other applicants.
As we are persuaded that no religious act can be acceptable to God, unless produced by the influence and assistance of his Holy Spirit, it is our judgment, that our members cannot consistently join with any, in the observance of public fasts, feasts, or what are termed holy days, or such injunctions and forms as are devised by the will of man, in regard thereto: for, though exterior observances of a similar kind, were authorised under the law, yet they who come to Christ, will assuredly find, that in Him all shadows end: and, therefore, when any in membership with us, do join with any of the above mentioned observances,
that they be admonished to a more circumspect conduct, and if they will not refrain, monthly meetings are to disown them.
Friends are exhorted to maintain a strict watch over themselves and one another, against the subtle and mischievous spirit of tale-bearing and detraction; the manifest tendency of which is, to lay waste the unity of the body, by sowing the seeds of disesteem, strife, and discord, among brethren and neighbours. It is advised, therefore, that in whomsoever this weakness appears, it may be immediately checked, and if persisted in, let such offenders be faithfully admonished; and unless they give due satisfaction, the preparative meeting should be informed, and deal further with them; when if that produce not the desired effect, the monthly meeting should proceed to disown them. And if any members who offend in this respect, should shelter themselves under pretence that they say no more than what they have heard from others, but will not discover who they are; such reporters or tale-bearers should, in like manner, be dealt with, and disowned, as being themselves the authors.
The connexion and subordination of our meetings for discipline are thus: preparative meetings are accountable to monthly; monthly to quarterly; and quarterly to the yearly meeting. So that if the yearly meeting be at any time dissatisfied with the proceedings of any subordinate meeting; or a quarterly meeting, with the proceedings of either of its monthly meetings; or a monthly meeting with the proceedings of either of its preparative meetings,--such meetings ought, with readiness and meekness, to render account thereof when required.
It is agreed that no quarterly meeting be set up, or put down, without consent of the yearly meeting; no monthly meeting, without consent of the quarterly meeting; nor
any preparative, or other meeting for business or worship, till application to the monthly meeting is first made, and when there approved, the consent of the quarterly meeting be had also.
It is directed, that a book be provided by every monthly and quarterly meeting, and fair minutes kept therein, of all matters which such meetings shall deem necessary to be recorded. Monthly meetings, particularly, are advised to attend to, and finish all business, with care and dispatch; that it may, at no time, suffer by improper delay. And if any case, under consideration, prove too weighty or difficult for them to determine, they should apply to their respective quarterly meetings for assistance. It is the sense of this meeting, as a general rule, in all cases, that when any monthly or quarterly meeting has occasion for, and requests copies of any of the papers, minutes, or records of another monthly or quarterly meeting, that the same be granted.
Each monthly meeting should appoint a suitable number of Friends to attend the service of the quarterly meeting, with such written reports, signed by the clerk, as may be given them in charge. Also, a suitable number of Friends, should be appointed by each quarterly meeting, to attend the service of the yearly meeting. And it is earnestly advised and desired, that all Friends who submit to these, or any other services of the society, may be punctual in their attendance thereto: or, if prevented by sickness, or any other unavoidable occurrence, that they be careful to send information thereof. Also, that those who are under appointments to meetings, do not withdraw therefrom, before the conclusion, without obtaining the meeting's consent.
It is advised that a watchful care be exercised over our members, to prevent their going to stage plays, taverns, horse-races, music and dancing, or any such sports and pastimes; or being concerned in lotteries, wagering, or any species of gaming: and if any of our members fall into those practices, and cannot be prevailed on by private labour, to
decline them, the monthly meeting to which the offenders belong, should be informed thereof, and if they be not reclaimed by further labour, to proceed to disown them.
It is the sense and judgment of the yearly meeting, that if any in membership with us, disregarding the gospel order prescribed by our discipline, shall arrest, or sue at law or equity, any other members of any meeting, except in the cases admissible under the head "Arbitrations," without first obtaining leave of the monthly meeting of which the complainant is a member, they, in so doing, depart from the peaceable principles of which we make profession; and if, on being treated with, by the monthly meeting to which they belong, they cannot be prevailed upon to withdraw the suit, and pay the costs of it, they should be disowned.
It is affectionately desired by the yearly meeting, that all young or unmarried persons, in membership with us, previously to their making any procedure in order to marriage, do seriously, and humbly wait upon the Lord, for his counsel and direction in this important concern: and when favoured with satifactory clearness therein, they should early acquaint their parents or guardians with their intentions, and wait for their consent. Thus, preservation from the dangerous bias of forward and uncertain affections. would be experienced, to the real benefit of the parties, and the comfort of their friends. And it is earnestly recommended to Friends, that they carefully and tenderly watch over one another; and extend seasonable caution and admonitions, relative to this interesting subject, as occasion may require.
All single persons about to marry at a distance from home, are to procure, from the monthly meeting, to which they belong, certificates of their right of membership, and clearness from any other person in respect to marriage engagements; and none are to be permitted to join themselves in marriage, until such certificates are produced.
No monthly meeting is to permit any marriage to be proposed therein, sooner than one year after the decease of a former wife or husband.
The yearly meeting, being tender concerning marriages, desires that no misdemeanor be treasured up against a person until the time of presenting marriage to the meeting, and then disclosed, though, perhaps, long before done, and known to those who so object to it at that time; which being a wrong thing, should be prohibited in all meetings.
It is recommended to Friends to be careful that men and women who make or receive proposals of marriage do not dwell together in the same house, from the commencement of such concern, until the marriage is accomplished; that no ground may be furnished for evil reports or surmises, but that our holy profession be maintained unsullied in the view of men.
Let such of our members be admonished who keep company in order for marriage, with persons not of our society; or with bond servants or apprentices, without leave of their masters or mistresses. And all who are either present themselves, or consent to their children's being present, at marriages or marriage entertainments, of a member or members, accomplished contrary to our order, are to be dealt with; and where they cannot be brought to a sense of their error, let them be disowned. And when any of our members accomplish their marriage contrary to our well-known and established order monthly meetings may accordingly disown them.
When parents or guardians have approved the visits or addresses of a member of society to any of their children, or those under their care, they ought not to retract the same, without giving such reasons as shall be satisfactory to the monthly meeting.
For the accomplishment of marriage, the following order is to be observed:--If both parties belong to the same monthly meeting, the men's and women's monthly meeting should be informed of their intentions, and the man, at a proper time, be accompanied into the women's apartment,
by a friend or two; there the parties are first to declare, "That they intend marriage with one another:" whereupon, two women Friends are to be appointed to make inquiry respecting the woman; they then proceed to the men's meeting, where they are to make the same declaration; and two men Friends be, in like manner, appointed to inquire into the clearness of the man, from any other marriage engagements. If the parties have parents or guardians present, their consent should be expressed. If the woman is a widow having children, two men Friends should be appointed to see that the rights of her children be legally secured.
At next meeting, if the committees report that careful inquiry has been made, and no obstruction to the further proceedings of the parties appears, the meetings are to leave them at liberty to accomplish their marriage, according to our rules; and appoint two Friends of each sex, to attend the marriage and marriage-entertainment, and see that good order be observed.
Marriages are to be solemnized at the meeting-house where the woman belongs, on a week-day, except that the monthly meeting consents that it shall be elsewhere, or on first-day. Towards the conclusion of the meeting, the parties are to stand up, and, taking each other by the hand, are to declare to the following effect: the man first--"I take this my friend D. E. to be my wife, promising, through divine assistance, to be unto her a loving and faithful husband, until death separates us." And the woman also,--"I take this my friend A. B. to be my husband, promising, with divine assistance, to be unto him, a loving and faithful wife, until death separates us." The marriage certificate is then to be audibly read by some suitable Friend; they are then to sign it, the man first, then the woman, with the assumed name of her husband; the relatives next, and such others as are disposed to subscribe as witnesses.
The form of the marriage certificate shall be as follows, or to the same effect:
"Whereas A. B. son of C. and D. B. in the county of , and state of , and E. F. daughter of H. and J. F. of same place, having expressed their intention
of marriage with each other, before a monthly meeting of Friends, held at , in the county and state aforesaid; and after due inquiry, nothing appearing to obstruct, were allowed by said meeting to proceed.
Now these are to certify whom it may concern,--That for the full accomplishment of their said intentions, this day of the month, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and , they, the said A. B. and E. F. appeared at a public meeting of Friends, held at meeting house, in the county of ; and they, the said A. B. and E. F. did, in a solemn manner, openly declare, that 'they took each other for husband and wife;' and, as a further confirmation thereof, did to these presents set their hands; she, according to the custom of marriage, assuming the name of her husband.
We whose names are hereunto subscribed, were present at the solemnization of the abovesaid marriage.
It is further directed, that marriages be accomplished decently, gravely, and weightily; and that the parties, their parents, and others concerned, take care, at the house to which they go after the solemnization is over, that no reproach arise, by any intemperate feasting or drinking, or by any unseemly, wanton, or rude discourse or action; but that all behave with such sobriety as becomes a people fearing God; and that the company retire in seasonable time. And the overseers are to make report to the next monthly meeting, whether good order has been observed, and take care that the marriage certificate be produced to be recorded.
That marriages of persons too nearly related, may, as much as possible, be prevented, it is the conclusion of the yearly meeting, that no marriages between any so near as first cousins, nor the children of half brothers or half sisters, shall be permitted amongst us; and when any such persons intermarry, their so doing shall be considered as a relinquishment of their right in our religious society, and they may be disowned by the monthly meeting of which they are members.
This meeting recommends that Friends who are exercised in the discipline, would early extend their brotherly love and care, in visiting such amongst us who neglect to attend our meetings for public worship. And, as a wilful neglect of this important duty is a manifest evidence of ingratitude to the Divine Being, contrary to the example and practice of primitive believers in Christ, and our religious testimony,--it is the sense of this meeting, that as such disunite themselves from christian fellowship with Friends, monthly meetings, after having fully discharged their duty towards them, and finding their endeavors to reclaim them ineffectual, should disown them.
As the appearance of a drowsy spirit in our religious meetings is offensive, and may be a cause of stumbling to sober inquirers, it is earnestly desired that this weakness may not exist amongst us. And as indulgence therein must have a disqualifying effect, it is the sense and judgment of this meeting, that quarterly, monthly, and other meetings, should be cautious of appointing such, who give way to this weakness, in the weighty affairs of the church.
When there is occasion for the appointment of one elder or more in any meeting, a proposal of name or names should be offered to the monthly meeting, and a committee appointed to inquire into the unity Friends have with forwarding such to that station. If, upon due consideration, the nomination is approved, a minute should be made, and a copy thereof forwarded to the quarterly meeting, and, if there concurred in, the person or persons are to be appointed to that station.
When any concerned Friend has frequently appeared in our religious meetings, as a minister, and the preparative meeting of ministers and elders apprehends it seasonable the subject should then claim the attention of the monthly meeting for discipline of which the person is a member,
it may here be opened, by a member of said preparative meeting, when, if the monthly meeting, after deliberate consideration, shall unite in believing that a gift in the ministry has been committed to him or her, a minute expression thereof should be forwarded to the quarterly meeting; where the case being solidly weighed and concurred in, information thereof should be sent to the preparative meeting of ministers and elders, of which the person is to be a member. And, until the approbation of the quarterly meeting is obtained, no such Friend is to be received as a minister, or permitted to travel abroad, or appoint any meeting without consent of the monthly meeting to which he or she belongs; neither is any approved minister to appoint any meeting, without consent of the monthly meeting.
When any approved minister apprehends it to be his or her duty to travel in truth's service, out of the limits of the yearly meeting, he or she is to open the concern in the monthly meeting to which he or she belongs, and obtain a certificate of its unity and concurrence, directed to Friends in the parts proposed to be visited, and obtain the consent of the quarterly meeting.--And when the service is accomplished, the said monthly meeting ought to be informed, and the certificate returned, without unnecessary delay.
No minister may go beyond sea, to Europe, or the West Indies, without the concurrence of the yearly meeting of ministers and elders.
Friends are advised to be cautious of receiving travelling Friends without certificates.
If any shall oppose a ministering Friend, whether recommended or not, in his or her preaching or exhortation, keep on the hat, or show any remarkable dislike to such, when engaged in prayer, let them be speedily admonished, in such manner as may be requisite; unless the person against whom the uneasiness is expressed, has been disowned, or his or her appearance disapproved by the monthly meeting.
On the contrary, when any have ought against what has been publicly delivered, they are to speak to the party, privately and orderly.
The ministers and elders of each monthly meeting, should meet once in three months, at such time and place as the monthly meeting may direct, in the capacity of a preparative meeting of ministers and elders,--when the queries addressed to such meeting are to be read, and answers made to them, signed by the clerk, and conveyed to the ensuing quarterly meeting of ministers and elders, by a suitable number of representatives. And in the said quarterly meetings, the queries are also to be read, and the answers from the respective preparative meetings, and the state of the members weightily considered; and, once a year, those answers, comprised in a report, signed by the clerk, are to be forwarded to the yearly meeting of ministers and elders, by representatives appointed for that purpose. In this meeting, the queries are also to be read, and the answers from the several quarters; and the state of this part of society, being thus collected and considered, advices adapted thereto, may, if requisite, be issued to the subordinate meetings of the like kind.
None of the said meetings of ministers and elders are, in any wise, to interfere with the business of any meeting for discipline; nor is the yearly meeting for ministers and elders, to suffer its adjournments to interfere with the sittings of the yearly meeting for discipline.
When any acknowledged member of the select meeting shall, at any time, be thought, by negligence or otherwise, to have lost his or her service in that station, so as to become burthensome, (yet not so as to be under the care of the monthly meeting for discipline, for misconduct,) it is advised, that timely and tender care be extended to such, according to gospel order; and if such care prove ineffectual, that some discreet Friend lay the same before the monthly meeting of which he or she is a member, and if the meeting concur therewith, that the subject be forwarded to the quarterly meeting for is approbation, and discontinuance of such Friend from his or her station, which is to be certified to the meeting of ministers and elders.
It is earnestly recommended to our members, to guard against the unnecessary use of intoxicating liquors, and distilling, or having them distilled, importing, or vending them, as articles of commerce; or giving them at vendues to excite bidding: and if any proceed in either of the practices aforesaid, to the dissatisfaction of the monthly meeting to which they belong, said meeting is to extend labour and advice in the matter, as it may think best; and if such members neglect, or refuse the counsel of their friends, they are to be disowned.
As a religious society, we have found it to be our indispensable duty, to declare to the world our belief of the repugnancy of slavery to the christian religion. It therefore remains to be our continued concern, to prohibit our members from holding in bondage our fellow men.
If any in membership with us, shall hire any in slavery, of their master or mistress, to assist them in their business, it is the judgment of the yearly meeting, that, in so doing, they promote the unrighteous traffic, and oppose our testimony against slavery; and if they cannot be prevailed upon to desist, monthly meetings are at liberty to disown them.
A proper regard to this testimony, would lead our members to avoid acting as executors or administrators to estates in which slaves are bequeathed, or being accessary to any step whereby their bondage may be prolonged.
If any of our members are concerned in selling or purchasing, or shall give away or transfer, any negro or slave, or accept of any such gift or assignment, so as to prolong his or her slavery, or prevent such from the benefit of their labour; they ought, speedily, to be treated with, in the spirit of love and wisdom, in order to convince them of the iniquity of their conduct; and if, after such christian labour, they are not brought to such a sense of their injustice as to do whatever the monthly meeting shall judge
to be necessary for the restoration of such slave to his or her natural liberty, and condemn their deviation from the laws of righteousness and equity, to the satisfaction of said meeting, such shall be disowned.
If any in membership with us shall be guilty of swearing before legal authority, or of administering an oath, instead of our approved, privileged, and ancient manner of affirming,--as it is a deviation from our principles, such ought to be treated with; and if they do not come to a sense and acknowledgment of their error, monthly meetings should disown them.
It is the recommendation of the yearly meeting, as productive of very beneficial consequences to society, that in every monthly meeting a proper number of faithful and discreet Friends be appointed to the station of overseers within the same; whose duty it is to exercise a vigilant and tender care over their fellow members, and to render accounts to monthly meetings when required; and also to inform the monthly meeting of all orphans and others, belonging to the same, who need guardians; and, on such information, the meeting is to appoint a committee to examine their situation, and promote suitable persons to the guardianships.
In case of parents making application for their children to be received into membership, if monthly meetings are fully satisfied concerning the clear convincement of such parents, they may receive such children in minority into membership. If only one of the parents come in by request, their children should have no right in society, till monthly meetings are free to receive them by their own request; but if parents have both been members after marriage, and one of them be disowned, and they have children
afterwards, such children should be looked upon as having full right in our society. It is further the judgment of the yearly meeting, that no illegitimate child should be considered as having a birth-right in our society.
It is earnestly desired that all our members may keep themselves, and their children which are in minority, to moderation and plainness, in gesture, speech, apparel, and furniture of houses; and it is hoped that when any deviate from the above advice, that Friends will be strict in wisdom, to take prudent care therein; and if such pious care and endeavours prove ineffectual, monthly meetings may disown them.
It is advised that the case of all indigent Friends may be duly inspected, advice and relief may be seasonably afforded, their necessities relieved, and prudent care taken for the education of their children.
It is agreed, that once in the second and third quarters each, succeeding the yearly meeting, the first four of the following queries, and once in the quarter immediately preceding the yearly meeting, all of them, be read, deliberately considered, and answered, in the preparative, monthly, and quarterly meetings, and an explicit account, in writing, conveyed to each yearly meeting.
Query 1. Are meetings for worship and discipline duly attended? the hour observed? and do Friends avoid all unbecoming behaviour therein? And is due care taken, when any thing appears amiss, that the rules of our discipline be timely put in practice?
Query 2. Are love and unity preserved among you? and do you discourage all tale-bearing and detraction? and when differences arise, are endeavours speedily used to end them?
Query 3. Do Friends keep to plainness and moderation in every part of their conduct? And do those who have children endeavour to train them up in the principles of our religious profession, to reading the holy scriptures and use the necessary restraints for their preservation?
Query 4. Are Friends clear of the unnecessary use of intoxicating? of distilling, or having them distilled, importing, or vending them, as articles of commerce? Are they careful to guard against frequenting taverns and places for diversion? or are they concerned in gaming, or lotteries?
Query 5. Are Friends clear of purchasing, disposing of, or holding mankind as slaves, so as to prevent them from the benefit of their labour? And do they use those well who are set free, and under their care, through non-age or otherwise, endeavouring to encourage them in a virtuous life?
Query 6. Are Friends careful to live within the bounds of their circumstances? do they avoid launching into trade or business beyond their abilities? are they just in their dealings, and punctual in fulfilling their engagements? or are they concerned in any fraudulent or clandestine trade?
Query 7. Are the necessities of poor Friends relieved, and care taken for the education of their children? Are not the rights of Friends' children neglected, nor they placed from amongst us without consent of the monthly meeting?
Query 8. Do any commence a suit at law or equity, against a Friend in unity, contrary to discipline, without consent of the monthly meeting?
Directed, that the following advice be read over after the queries, in a solemn, deliberate manner, and carefully attended to, and answered in writing annually:
Advised, That Friends be careful to keep wills by them.
That public gifts or legacies be applied to the uses intended by the donor.
That care be taken respecting removals, and that Friends about to remove apply for certificates.
That early care be taken to advise, and deal with, such as appear inclinable to marry contrary to discipline, and if parents give their consent, or connive at their children
therein, that they, and those who may attend such marriages, be dealt with accordingly.
That Friends keep proper records of marriages, births and deaths.
That care be taken to advise those who may appear inclinable, against marrying with too near kindred.
And we recommend, that Friends, every where, behave themselves orderly, both in their converse and commerce, so as to answer the witness for truth in them with whom they are concerned.
The yearly meeting directs that once a quarter, excepting that following each yearly meeting, the following queries, for the use of the select meeting, be read and answered, and distinct answers sent to the like quarterly meeting, in order that a summary may be made out for the yearly meeting of ministers and elders.
Query 1. Are ministers and elders careful to attend all their meetings in due time, taking their families with them, as circumstances will admit? and are they good examples in waiting therein?
Query 2. Are all public Friends sound in their ministry, and careful to administer in the right ability?
Query 3. Are the lives and conversation of ministers and elders clean and blameless among men, ruling their own houses well, and being exemplary themselves?
Query 4. Are ministers and elders in unity one with another, and with the meeting to which they belong? and do none overcharge themselves with business to the hurting of their service?
Query 5. Do any travel abroad as ministers, without being first recommended to, and accepted by, the quarterly meeting to which they belong, as such, or appoint meetings disorderly?
Query 6. Do you watch over one another for good? and are you careful to help those who are young in the ministry in the right line thereof?
We tenderly advise and exhort all parents and heads of families, to advise and instruct their children and families in the doctrines and precepts of the christian religion, as contained in the scriptures; and that they excite them to the diligent reading of those excellent books.
We think it necessary to caution all our members against frequenting taverns, and other places of public resort; and it is the judgment of this meeting, that none of our members engage in tavern-keeping, or any such employ, for a livelihood. And if any are in danger on those accounts, they should be timely and tenderly treated with in order to convince them of their danger, and if they cannot be prevailed upon to desist, they should be disowned.
It is the judgment of the yearly meeting, that offenders who incline to make acknowledgment of their offences, may prepare the same in writing, and therein particularize the matter or matters charged upon them, and show it to the overseers, or committee appointed in their case, and if the purport is judged to be suitable to the occasion, such may present it to the preparative or monthly meeting.
This meeting recommends to all of its members, that they be careful not to venture on such business as they do not understand, or to involve themselves in trade beyond their abilities to manage; but that they bound their engagements by their means; and when they give their words or enter into contracts, that they endeavour, on all occasions, strictly to fulfil them.
And that Friends be cautioned against purchasing any
kind of prize goods, or running any contraband goods from any port, or being concerned in any fraudulent or clandestine trade. And if any depart from the counsel of their friends in those respects, they should be speedily treated with for their restoration; and if such treatment prove ineffectual, they should be disowned.
Friends are exhorted faithfully to adhere to our testimony against wars and fightings, and in no way to unite with any in warlike measures, either offensive or defensive, or in carrying guns for defending their ships or persons; or privateering; or, as owners of ships, going with letters of marque:--that by the inoffensiveness of our lives, we may convincingly demonstrate ourselves to be the real subjects of the Messiah's peaceful reign.
And if any deviate from this our ancient testimony, or approve or show the least connivance at war, by attending at muster-fields or viewing military operations; or in any wise encouraging the unstable, deceitful spirit of party; illuminating their houses in token of rejoicing for victory obtained in war; or by joining political devices or associations; they are to be tenderly dealt with, and if they can- to be brought to acknowledge and forsake their error, monthly meetings should disown them.
Recommended, that women Friends continue to hold preparative, monthly, quarterly and yearly meetings, in separate apartments; and therein to have the care and oversight of their own sex, and exercise the discipline relative thereto.