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poor, and answer the like occasions. Wherefore collections were early and liberally made for that and divers other services in the church, and entrusted with faithful men, fearing God, and of good report, who were not weary in well-doing ; adding often of their own, in large proportions, which they never brought to account, or desired should be known, much less restored to them, that none might want, nor any service be retarded or disappointed.
They were also very careful that every one that belonged to them, answered their profession in their behaviour among men upon all occasions; that they lived peaceably, and were in all things good examples. They found themselves engaged to record their sufferings and services; and in case of marriage, which they could not perform in the usual methods of the nation, but among themselves, they took care that all things were clear between the parties and all others. And it was rare then, that any one entertained such inclinations to a person on that account, till he or she had communicated it secretly to some very weighty and eminent friends among them, that they might have a sense of the matter; looking to the counsel and unity of their brethren as of great moment to them. But because the charge of the poor, the number of orphans, marriages, sufferings, and other matters multiplied, and that it was good that the churches were in some way and method of proceeding in such affairs among them, to the end they might the better correspond upon occasion, where a member of one meeting might have to do with one of another; it pleased the Lord, in his wisdom and goodness, to open the understanding of the first instrument of this dispensation of life, about a good and orderly way of proceeding; and he felt a holy concern to visit the churches in person throughout this nation, to begin and establish it among
and by his épistles the like was done in other nations and provinces abroad; which he also afterwards visited, and helped in that service, as shall be observed when I come to speak of him.
Now the care, conduct, and discipline I have been speaking of, and which are now practised among this people, are as followeth :
This godly elder, in every county where he travelled, exhorted them, that some out of every meeting of worship, should meet together once in the month, to confer about the wants and occasions of the church. And as the case required, so those monthly meetings were fewer or more in number in every respective county; four or six meetings of worship usually making one monthly meeting of business. And accordingly the brethren met him from place to place, and began the said meetings, viz., for the Poor; Orphans; Orderly Walking ; Integrity to their Profession ; Births, Marriages, Burials, Sufferings, &c. And that these monthly meetings should, in each county, make up one quarterly meeting, where the most
zealous and eminent friends of the county should assemble to communicate, advise, and help one another, especially when any business seemed difficult, or a monthly meeting was tender of determining a matter.
Also these quarterly meetings should digest the reports of the monthly meetings, and prepare one for the county, against the yearly meeting, in which the quarterly meetings resolve, which is held yearly in London ; where the churches in this nation and other nations* and provinces meet, by chosen members of their respective counties, both mutually to communicate their church affairs, and to advise, and be advised in any depending case to edification; also to provide a requisite stock for the discharge of general expenses for general services in the church, not needful to be here particularized.t
At these meetings any of the members of the churches may come, if they please, and speak their minds freely, in the fear of God, to any matter; but the mind of each meeting therein represented is chiefly understood, as to particular cases, in the sense delivered by the persons deputed or chosen for that service.
During their yearly meeting, to which their other meetings refer in their order and resolve themselves, care is taken by a select number, for that service chosen by the general assembly, to draw up the minutes & of the said meeting, upon the several matters that have been under consideration therein, to the end that the respective quarterly and monthly meetings may be informed of all proceedings, together with a general exhortation to holiness, unity, and charity. Of all which proceedings in yearly, quarterly, and monthly meetings, due record is kept by some one appointed for that service, or that hath voluntarily undertaken it. These meetings are opened, and usually concluded, in their solemn waiting upon God, who is sometimes graciously pleased to answer them with as signal evidences of his love and presence, as in any of their meetings for worship.
It is further to be noted, that in these solemn assemblies for the church's service, there is no one who presides among them after the manner of the assemblies of other people; Christ only being their president, as he
* At present (1836), there are eight Yearly Meetings on the American continent, which correspond with the Yearly Meeting in London, and mutually with each other; they are united in doctrine, and their discipline is similar.
+ They are thus particularised in a more recent publication of the Society :“This is an occasional voluntary contribution, expended in printing books; houserent for a clerk, and his wages for keeping records; the passage of ministers who visit their brethren beyond sea; and some small incidental charges; but not, as has been falsely supposed, the re-imbursement of those who suffer distraint for tithes, and other demands, with which they scruple to comply.”.
$ This is not now quite correct. A committee still draws up the General Epistlc; but the ininutes of the transactions of the meeting are made as matters occur during its several sittings.
is pleased to appear in life and wisdom in any one or more of them, to whom, whatever be their capacity or degree, the rest adhere with a firm unity, not of authority but conviction, which is the divine authority and way of Christ's power and Spirit in his people: making good-his blessed promise, “ that he would be in the midst of his, where and whenever they were met together in his name, even to the end of the world.” So be it.
Now it may be expected, I should here set down what sort of authority is exercised by this people, upon such members of their society, as correspond not in their lives with their profession, and that are refractory to this good and wholesome order settled among them; and the rather, because they have not wanted their reproach and suffering from some tongues, upon this occasion, in a plentiful manner.
The power they exercise is such as Christ has given to his own people, to the end of the world, in the persons of his disciples, viz., "to oversee, exhort, reprove," and after long suffering and waiting upon the disobedient and refractory, "to disown them, as any more of their communion, or that they will any longer stand charged in the sight and judgment of God or men, with their conversation or behaviour as one of them until they repent.”
The subject matter about which this authority, in any of the foregoing branches of it, is exercised, is first, in relation to common and general practice; and secondly, about those things that more strictly refer to their own character and profession, and distinguish them from all other professors of Christianity; avoiding two extremes upon which many split, viz., persecution and libertinism ; that is, a coercive power to whip people into the temple; that such as will not conform, though against faith and conscience, shall be punished in their persons or estates; or leaving all loose and at large, as to practice, unaccountable to all but God and the magistrate. To which hurtful extreme nothing has more contributed than the abuse of church power, by such as suffer their passions and private interests to prevail with them to carry it to outward force and corporal punishment_a practice they have been taught to dislike, by their extreme sufferings, as well as their known principle for an universal liberty of conscience.
On the other hand, they equally dislike an independency in society, an unaccountableness in practice and conversation to the terms of their own communion, and to those that are the members of it. They distinguish between imposing any practice that immediately regards faith or worship (which is never to be done, nor suffered, or submitted unto), and requiring Christian compliance with those methods that only respect church-business in its more civil part and concern, and that regard the discreet and orderly maintenance of the character of the society, as a sober and religious community. In short, what is for the promotion of holiness and charity, that
men may practice what they profess, live up to their own principles, and not be at liberty to give the lie to their own profession, without rebuke, is their use and limit of church power. They compel none to them, but oblige those that are of them to walk suitably, or they are denied by them; that is all the mark they set upon them, and the power they exercise, or judge a Christian society can exercise, upon those that are the members of it.
The way of their proceeding against one who has lapsed or transgressed is this. He is visited by some of them, and the matter of fact laid home to him, be it any evil practice against known and general virtue, or any branch of their particular testimony, which he, in common, professeth with them. They labour with him in much love and zeal for the good of his soul, the honour of God, and reputation of their profession, to own his fault and condemn it, in as ample a manner as the evil or scandal was given by him; which, for the most part, is performed by some written testimony under the party's hand; and if it so happen that the party proves refractory, and is not willing to clear the truth they profess from the reproach of his or her evil-doing or unfaithfulness, they, after repeated entreaties and due waiting for a token of repentance, give forth a paper to disown such a fact, and the party offending; recording the same as a testimony of their care for the honour of the truth they profess.
And if such shall clear their profession and themselves, by sincere acknowledgment of their fault, and godly sorrow for so doing, they are received and looked upon again as members of their communion. For as God, so his true people, upbraid no man after repentance.
This is the account I had to give of the people of God called Quakers, as to their rise, appearance, principles, and practices, in this age of the world, both with respect to their faith and worship, discipline and conversation. And I judge it very proper in this place, because it is to preface the Journal of the first blessed and glorious instrument of this work, and for a testimony to him in his singular qualifications and services, in which he abundantly excelled in this day, and which are worthy to be set forth as an example to all succeeding times; to the glory of the most high God, and for a just memorial to that worthy and excellent man, his faithful •servant and apostle to this generation of the world.
I am now come to the third head or branch of my Preface, viz., the instrumental author. For it is natural for some to say, Well, here is the people and work, but where and who was the man, the instrument ? he that in this age was sent to begin this work and people? I shall, as God shall enable me, declare who and what he was, not only by report of others, but from my own long and most inward converse, and intimate knowledge of him; for which my soul blesseth God, as it hath often done ; and I doubt
not, that by the time I have discharged myself of this part of my Preface, my serious readers will believe I had good cause so to do.
The blessed instrument of this work in this day of God, of whom I am now about to write, was GEORGE Fox, distinguished from another of that name, by that other's addition of Younger to his name in all his writings; not that he was so in years, but that he was so in the truth; but he was also a worthy man, witness, and servant of God in his time.
But this George Fox was born in Leicestershire, about the year 1624. He descended of honest and sufficient parents, who endeavoured to bring him up, as they did the rest of their children, in the way and worship of the nation ; especially his mother, who was a woman accomplished above most of her degree in the place where she lived. But from a child he appeared of another frame of mind than the rest of his brethren; being more religious, inward, still, solid, and observing, beyond his years, as the answers he would give, and the questions he would put upon occasion, manifested to the astonishment of those that heard him, especially in divine things.
His mother taking notice of his singular temper, and the gravity, wisdom, and piety that very early shined through him, refusing childish and vain sports and company, when very young, she was tender and indulgent over him, so that from her he met with little difficulty. As to his employment, he was brought up in country business ; and as he took most delight in sheep, so he was very skilful in them; an employment that very well suited his mind in several respects, both from its innocency and solitude; and was a just figure of his after ministry and service.
I shall not break in upon his own account, which is by much the best that can be given, and therefore desire, what I can, to avoid saying any thing of what is said already, as to the particular passages of his coming forth; but, in general, when he was somewhat above twenty, he left his friends, and visited the most retired and religious people in those parts; and some there were, short of few, if any, in this nation, who waited for the consolation of Israel night and day; as Zacharias, Anna, and good old Simeon did of old time. To these he was sent, and these he sought out in the neighbouring counties, and among them he sojourned till his more ample ministry came upon him. At this time he taught, and was an example: of silence, endeavouring to bring them from self-performances, testifying and turning to the Light of Christ within them, and encouraging them to wait in patience to feel the power of it to stir in their hearts, that their knowledge and worship of God might stand in the power of an endless life, which was to be found in the Light, as it was obeyed in the manifestation of it in man. “For in the Word was Life, and that Life is the Light of men,” Life in the Word, Light in men--and Life in men too, as the Light