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members, however they may differ from us in principle or practice? The absurdity of the argument appears to me too great to need further confutation. What is sometimes adyanced with respect to degradation of character by disownment, it is apprehended, stands or falls with the former. If the society has, by its general good conduct, obtained such a degree of reputation, that those who are disowned by it, lose part of the good opinion of the public; must it sacrifice that reputation, by retaining in its bosom, those who violate its rules, or trample upon its principles: principles, for the support of whicb, our predecessors in religious profession were willing to suffer much ignominy ; with the loss of property, of liberty, or even of life itself ?
· Besides a general oversight of the conduct and conversation of our members, there are other objects which obtain attention in our meetings for discipline. One of the most material of these is, the support of the poor: for it has been the practice in our society, from its first establishment, to maintain our own poor, and not give them occasion to apply for the common modes of relief. Notwithstanding this, we think it right to con
tribute to the support of the poor who are not of our society, in common with our neighbours: and that, not only in cases where the law obliges us, but also, when ability is afforded, in those voluntary charities which are established, or occasionally promoted, for the benefit of this part of the community: a class, to the suitable relief and employment of which, much importance is very properly attached.
Another material object in our meetings for discipline, is, due attention to proceedings in relation to marriage; to take care that the parties are clear of other engagements of the same kind; that they are not within disallowed degrees of consanguinity; and that, in case of previous marriage, the rights of former children be properly secured : after which, care is also exercised, that the marriage be concluded in a proper and becoming manner.
The register of these marriages; of births and burials; the care of our meeting-houses and burial-grounds; the admission of members; the granting and receiving of certificates for those who remove from one district to another; the sufferings of our members on account of ecclesiastical and military demands, * with divers other matters; are also subjects of our care in these meetings.
The meetings in which these matters are transacted, are called Monthly Meetings, from their being held once in every month. They send representatives, and answer queries relative to the general conduct of their members, to other meetings, which are called Quarterly Meetings; the principal business of which is to superintend Monthly Meetings, and to advise and assist them when occasion may require. These Quarterly Meetings also send representatives, and answer queries, to a meeting which is called, the Yearly Meeting. This Meeting has a general oversight of the society; and makes rules for its government and welfare.
This description of our meetings for discipline is intended to apply only to the men's meetings: the women also have their Monthly, Quarterly, and Yearly Meetings, in wbich they attend to the wants of their own sex, and exercise a care over their conduct; but have no power of dismemberment.
* It may be proper here to remove a prevailing impression, that the amount of these sufferings is reimbursed to the sufferers. We not only have no funds for this purpose ; but such a practice does not, nor ever did, exist in our Society.
The importance of transacting this discipline in a right spirit, and by those who may be properly qualified, has ever been felt as of no small importance to its right preservation ; and many are the advices, which have been issued by the Yearly Meeting on this subject. The following, being short and comprehensive, will, I apprehend, afford an instructive description of our concern in this respect : “We tenderly exhort, that in all your meetings for the discipline of the church, you wait in humility, to have your spirits brought into subjection to the Spirit of Christ; that thereby you may be duly qualified for the work and service, conducive to the building up of his church; in which work all who are engaged should be men of upright hearts and clean hands ; rightly prepared for the service they undertake.” 1743.
Address to the Youth, on the Remembrance of their Creator. -Reason and Revelation.—The Holy Scriptures and Christianity.-On our peculiar principles.-On the necessity of regeneration.-Address to persons not of our religious persuasion.
IN the design and execution of this work, my mind has been much influenced by a desire for the welfare of the youth in our society, and for their instruction in the principles of true religion. To them I feel disposed to address myself in this conclusion.
Let me remind you, my dear friends, of that wise and pious injunction: “Remember thy Creator in the days of thy youth.”* Consider his operations in nature and in grace; in Providence and in Redemption. Although in the consideration of all these, some difficulties, not easily comprehended, may present themselves ; yet so much will be opened to the humble and attentive mind, as will excite the love and fear
* Eccles. xii. 1.