« VorigeDoorgaan »
Keld, have often a long journey to perform. The Quakers are frequently out two or three whole days, and sometimes longer upon this occasion. But as this sort of meeting takes place but once in the quarter, the loss of their time, and the fatigue of their journey, and the expences attending it, are borne cheerfully.
When all of them are assembled, nearly the same custom obtains at the quarterly, as has been described at the monthly meeting. A meeting for worship is first held. The men and women, when this is over, separate into their different apartments, after which the meeting for discipline begins in each.
I shall not detail the different kinds of business, which come on at this meeting. I shall explain the principal subject only.
The society at large have agreed upon a number of questions, or queries as they call them, which they have committed to print, and which they expect to be read and answered in the course of these quarterly meetings. The following is a list of them.
I. Are meetings for worship and discipline kept up, and do Friends attend them duly, and at the time appointed; and do they avoid all unbecoming behaviour therein?
II. Is there among you any growth in the truth; and hath any convincement appeared since last year?
III. Are Friends preserved in love towards each other; if differences arise, is due care taken speedily to end them; and are Friends careful to avoid and discourage tale-bearing and detraction?
IV. Do Friends endeavour by example and precept to train up their children, servants, and all under their care, in a religious life and conversation, consistent with our christian profession, in the frequent reading of the holy scriptures, and in plainness of speech, behaviour and apparel?
V. Are Friends just in their dealings and punctual in fulfilling their engagements; and are they annually advised carefully to inspect the state of their affairs once in the year?
VI. Are Friends careful to avoid all vain sports and places of diversion, gaming, all unnecessary frequenting of taverns, and other public houses, excess in drinking, and other intemperance?
VII. Do Friends bear a faithful and christian testimony against receiving and paying tythes, priests demands, and those called church-rates?
VIII. Are Friends faithful in our testimony against bearing arms, and being in any manner concerned in the militia, in privateers, letters of marque, or armed vessels, or dealing in prize-goods?
IX. Are Friends clear of defrauding the king of his customs, duties and excise, and of using, or dealing in goods suspected to be run?
X. Are the necessities of the poor among you properly inspected and relieved; and is good care taken of the education of their offspring?
XI. Have any meetings been settled, discontinued, or united since last year?
XII. Are there any Friends prisoners for our testimonies; and if any one hath died a prisoner, or been discharged since last year, when and how?
XIII. Is early care taken to admonish such as ap pear inclinable to marry in a manner contrary to the rules of our society; and to deal with such as persist in refusing to take counsel ?
XIV. Have you two or more faithful friends, appointed by the monthly meeting, as overseers in each particular meeting; are the rules respecting removals duly observed; and is due care taken, when any thing appears amiss, that the rules of our discipline be timely and impartially put in practice?
XV. Do you keep a record of the prosecutions and sufferings of your members; is due care taken to register all marriages, births, and burials; are the titles of your meeting houses, burial grounds, &c. duly preserved and recorded; and are all legacies and donations properly secured, and recorded, and duly applied?
These are the Questions, which the society expect should be publicly asked and answered in
their quarterly courts or meetings. Some of these are to be answered in one quarterly meeting, and (&) others in another; and all of them in the course of
The clerk of the quarterly meeting, when they come to this part of the business, reads the first of the appointed queries to the members present, and is then silent. Soon after this a deputy from one of the monthly meetings comes forward, and producing the written documents, or answers to the queries, all of which were prepared at the meeting where he was chosen, reads that document, which contains a reply to the first query in behalf of the meeting he represents. A deputy from a second monthly meeting then comes forward, and produces his written documents also, and answers the same query in behalf of his own meeting in the same manner. A deputy from a third where there are more than two meetings then produces his documents in his turn, and replies to it also, and this mode is observed, till all the deputies from each of the monthly meetings in the county have answered the first query.
(&) The Quakers consider the punctual attendance of their religious meetings, the preservation of love among them, and the care of the poor, of such particular importance, that they require the first, third, and tenth to be answered every quarter.
When the first query has been thus fully answered, silence is observed through the whole court. Mem. bers present have now an opportunity of making any observations they may think proper. If it should appear by any of the answers to the first query, that there is any departure from principles on the subject it contains in any of the monthly meetings which the deputies represent, it is noticed by any one present. The observations made by one frequently give rise to observations from another. Advice is sometimes ordered to be given, adapted to the nature of this departure from principles; and this advice is occasionally circulated, through the medium of the different monthly meetings, to the particular congregation, where the deviation has taken place.
When the first query has been thus read by the clerk, and answered by the deputies, and when observations have been made upon it, and instructions given as now described, a second query is read audibly, and the same process takes place, and similar observations are sometimes made, and instructions given.
In the same manner a third query is read by the clerk, and answered by all the deputies, and observed upon by the meeting at large; and so on a fourth, and a fifth, till all the queries, set apart for the day are answered.