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DIFFERENCES AND DISPUTES.
ADVISED, that friends be tender to the principle of God in all, and shun the occasion of vain disputes and janglings, both amongst themselves and others ; for this, many times, is like a blustering wind, that hurts and bruises the tender buds of plants. 1676.
Seeing our comfort as a people, depends upon our care to maintain peace and fellowship amongst brethren, in all our services, we earnestly recommend an humble and condescending frame of spirit unto all; that with godly fear, wisdom and meekness, we may be so ordered in all our respective services, that every high and rough thing may be laid low, that all occasions of striving may be prevented, and the peace of the church of Christ preserved and increased amongst us.
And to this purpose it is tenderly advised, that we diligently and carefully observe the comely and blessed gospel order, so long known and in practice amongst us, in the spirit of meekness and of a sound mind; which is the way to crush all differences in their infancy, and suppress the rise as well
as to stop the progress of every thing that is unseemly, and inconsistent with the testimony of the precious truth. 1699.
Advised, that a spirit of love and humility may more and more diffuse itself among us, and influence the hearts of all, so that every one may come to seek peace and pursue it; and that none be apt to take offence, but each in his own particular, be more careful to rectify his own failings and imperfections, than curious in observing, censuring, and aggravating, those of others. This will lead to the exercise of mutual forbearance and forgiveness one of another, by which the occasions of contention will be avoided, and the church preserved in a state of peace and tranquility. 1736.
DISCIPLINE—AND MEETINGS FOR
ADVISED, that the church's testimony and judg. ments against disorderly and scandalous walkers, as also the repentance and condemnation of the parties restored, be recorded in a distinct book, in the respective monthly and quarterly meetings, for the clearing of truth, friends, and our holy profession; to be produced and published by friends for that end and purpose, so far only as in God's heavenly wisdom they shall see needful.
And it is also our advice, in the love of God, that after any friend's repentance and restoration, he abiding faithful in the truth that condemns the evil, none among you so remember his transgression, as to cast it at him, or upbraid him with it; for that is not according to the mercies of God. 1675.
Earnestly recommended, whatever your places and stations in the church may be, that in the most weighty and serious manner you often call to remembrance, in all humility of mind, what it was that brought us to be a people, and what is and will be that which will preserve us such: that the foundation
on which a true Christian is built, is the spirit of Christ; let this therefore direct you in all things, both respecting your private conversation, and whatever you do for God in his church. This is the only true means to preserve you holy and blameless in the one, as well as serviceable and useful in the other; in this every one will have a single regard to the service that comes before him, in monthly and quarterly meetings, without partiality or respect of persons.
“Hear the causes between your brethren, and judge righteously between every man and his brother, and the stranger that is with him. Ye shall not respect persons in judgment; but ye shall hear the small as well as the great ; ye shall not be afraid of the face of man ; for the judgment is God's.” Deut. i. 16, 17. And in the management of such affairs, they will find their own spirits rightly seasoned and prepared for every work and service to which they may be called ; and all disorderly proceedings, arising from the heat of our own spirits, will thereby be shut out; and thus the church will be preserved, on her ancient, solid, and permanent foundation, to the glory of God, and her own quiet and comfort. 1726.
And in order for the regular and easy proceeding in the service and discipline of the church, meetings have been by divine assistance, as above hinted, set up and established, serviceable and subordinate one unto another, as Preparative, consisting of friends belonging to one or more particular meetings for worship; Monthly, consisting of as many preparatives as may most usefully compose the same: Quarterly, to consist of as many monthly meetings
as are thought useful to constitute the same, to meet together once in three months: Yearly, consisting of all the quarterly meetings in New England, [except Vermont,] to meet annually, in the sixth month, on Rhode Island, for a great and weighty oversight and Christian care of the affairs of the churches, pertaining to our holy profession and Christian communion; that good order, true love, unity and concord, may be faithfully followed and maintained among all of us as a peculiar people, called and chosen out of the world, and the errors and corruptions thereof. And as it hath been experienced, that in those meetings great comfort and satisfaction have been received and enjoyed, when the members have attended them in awe, humility and love, with no other view than the service of God, and the help and assistance one of another; this meeting doth therefore, in brotherly love, exhort all friends carefully to gather in • uprightness and singleness of heart, suitable to our calling, and the dignity of that power, which as we behave wisely and meekly, will preside and govern in all our meetings. This will divest us of partiality and stiffness of opinion, and all high thoughts of ourselves, and raise in us patience and condescension, according to that excellent admonition of our blessed Lord, that he that is greatest among you be your servant.
Agreed that no quarterly meeting be set up, divided into two, or discontinued, but by the yearly meeting; no monthly meeting, but by the quarterly; no preparative meeting or meeting of worship, but by the monthly meeting, which is the lowest meeting that has the right of disowning members. These