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closely united to him, you will experience the indwelling of his blessed spirit. 1761. When gathered in your religious assemblies, be truly concerned to retire to the divine and heavenly gift, which will minister to every state and condition though you may have no outward teaching, and will direct you to wait, without being restless or uneasy, till it be a proper time to break up your meeting with that decency and solemnity, which should attend our minds in such service. [1755.] And be not apt, as the manner of some is, at the close of your meetings, hastily to enter into discourses about the affairs of this life, much less the vain amusements thereof; a practice inconsistent with the Christian gravity, which at such times ought, in a special manner, to season the minds of persons so lately assembled for the worship of God, in spirit and in truth. 1748. Persons professing with us, who absent themselves from our religious meetings, either on Firstday or other days of the week, and disregard the repeated advice and endeavors of friends to stir them up to this necessary duty, are to be dealt with by the monthly meeting to which they belong, even to disowning such, if the case require it. 1770.
MINISTERS AND ELDERS, AND MEETINGS OF MINISTERS AND ELDERS.
It is recommended that one or more faithful friend or friends, of either or both sexes, be appointed out of each particular meeting as standing elders by the monthly meeting, whose duty it is to help young ministers, and give advice to all others as occasion may require; to encourage our youth and others in virtue, and in a reverent and early attention to, and belief in, the divine appearance and operation of the spirit of Christ in their own hearts, and in a venerable esteem of the Holy Scriptures, and a frequent reading and meditating therein; and to that plainness, moderation and simplicity, which is becoming our holy profession; to stir up those who are or may be deficient in the due attendance of our meetings; and in general to watch over the flock of Christ; being themselves examples in faith, meekness and charity. 1709, 1728, 1760. In the appointment of Elders, the following order is to be observed:— As these are officers of the church at large, let the monthly meeting, after it has approved such as it adjudges duly anointed and qualified for that service, (the name or names having been introduced either through the preparative meeting of ministers and elders, or by a committee appointed by the monthly meeting for that purpose) acquaint the quarterly meeting therewith, which, after solidly waiting for the concurring unity of men and women friends, and finding nothing to hinder, is to minute the same, and acquaint the select meeting thereof; which is also to enter the appointment on its minutes; and the friends so appointed may then sit in any of our meetings of ministers and elders. Information of such appointment is to be given by the quarterly meeting to the yearly meeting, and by the yearly meeting, through its clerk, to the yearly meeting of ministers and elders, and the names entered on the respective records of those meetings. The following order is to be observed in acknowledging the gift, and approving the public appearances of any friend in the ministry. Where any friend appears in public ministry whose conversation shall be clean and blameless, and the preparative meeting of ministers and elders, within the limits of which the friend belongs, is convinced that the Lord hath called him or her to that weighty work, it is then to lay the same before the quarterly meeting of ministers and elders, for its consideration, and when said quarterly meeting shall have united therein, without any record being made of its judgment, the said preparative meeting may lay the same before the monthly meeting, which, after weightily feeling after the mind of truth therein, and being united in approving him or her as a minister in the church, the same shall be recorded and sent forward in like manner as in the case of elders. Friends are advised, in these proceedings, to be weighty in their spirits and careful in their conversation, that no harm come to any from a disclosure, before the time, of what may be under the consideration of friends; that all may be kept in the love and unity of the gospel. 1856. The ministers and elders so approved, within the compass of each monthly meeting, (or where the quarterly meeting should think best to unite the members of two or more meetings in one,) are to meet by themselves once in three months, and, after solidly waiting to feel their minds seasoned with the virtue of truth, are to proceed to read and consider the queries, and how their purport is answered by their members; tenderly advising and assisting one another as the nature of the case may require; and to form such answers to the queries as are agreeable to their states; which answers are to be signed by their clerk, and two or more friends are to be appointed as representatives, who are to take the answers, and, assembling together previous to and at the place of holding the quarterly meeting, do, with the assistance of other select members within the compass of each quarter, compose a select quarterly meeting, where the queries are again to be read, and the state of the meeting inquired into, and such advice and assistance afforded the lower meetings thereunto belonging, by advice or committees, as occasion may require. And, once a year, preceding the yearly meeting, general answers in writing are to be drawn up and transmitted to the yearly select meeting, by representatives to be appointed to attend the same; at which meeting the state of all the several quarters and of their members is to be attended to, and such help afforded, and in such way and manner, as the meeting in the wisdom of truth may think proper, in subordination to our Christian discipline; preserving records of its proceedings, and annually choosing or re-appointing a clerk, which the quarterly and monthly select meetings are all advised to do. And it is agreed, that the quarterly select meeting be held the day before each quarterly meeting, at the same place, at the eleventh hour;* and that the yearly select meeting begin at Newport, at the ninth hour, on the day before the yearly meeting. This meeting desires that you, whom the Lord hath gifted with a public testimony for his name and truth, may be careful to attend to the motions of truth, and in it be diligent to visit the heritage of God in their meetings, and especially those least frequented. 1695. We further entreat you, that in all your religious meetings, appointed for the worship of Almighty God, you wait in humble reverence for the influence of the Word of life. Be cautious not to move, in acts of devotion, in your own will; set not forward self to work, but patiently attend and wait for the gift and enlivening power of the Divine Spirit, without which your performances will be unaccepta