Our Book of Discipline

 

The Basis of Friends in Christ

To seek the community and fellowship of all those who love the Lord and wish to make a stand for Christ Jesus in this day and generation through the faith, testimonies and witness that all true Friends have held since the beginning.

A STATEMENT OF FAITH

 In his letter to the Governor of Barbados in 1671 George Fox wrote “we own and believe in God, the only wise, omnipotent and everlasting God, the Creator of all things in heaven and on earth, and the Preserver of all that he hath made; who is God over all, blessed forever. And we own and believe in Jesus Christ his beloved and only begotten Son, in whom he is well pleased. And we own and believe that he was made a sacrifice for sin, who knew no sin, and that he was buried and rose again the third day by the power of his Father, for our justification and that he ascended up into heaven. This Jesus who was the foundation of the holy prophets and apostles, is our foundation and we believe there is no other foundation to be laid but that which is laid even Christ Jesus who tasted death for every man, shed his blood for all men, is the propitiation for our sins and not ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. We believe that he alone is our Redeemer and Saviour. Christ Jesus the Alpha and Omega, the First and Last. He is (as the Scriptures of Truth say of him) our wisdom, righteousness, justification and redemption, neither is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. He rules in our hearts; by his law of love and life and made us free from the law of sin and death. We have no life but by him, for he is the quickening Spirit, the second Adam. He is our Mediator who makes peace and reconciliation between God offended and us offending. He being the Oath of God, the new Covenant of Light, Life, Grace and Peace, the author and finisher of our faith. This we say is that Lord Jesus Christ, whom we own to be our life and salvation.”

We can accept that statement and other such statements that have been made from generation to generation; such as “By grace are ye saved, through faith and that not of yourselves it is the Gift of God. This Grace of God teaches us to deny all ungodliness and the world’s lusts and where it is received and obeyed it gives faith to believe that we shall be strengthened and enabled by it to overcome the world, the flesh and the devil. Thus as we are saved by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, through faith in him and we continue to believe and follow him to the end we shall know him to be the finisher as well as the author of this living victorious faith.” Dost thou submit in loving obedience to the leadings of Christ, the Word within thee, to do the will of the Father?

Approved and accepted by the Yearly Meeting of Friends in Christ, 23.vii.93

 

Queries & Advices

 “Ye are my friends if ye do whatsoever I command you”
John ch. 15 v. 14

 Introduction

We warmly recommend these queries and advices to the careful perusal and consideration of Friends and whoever else may come to read them, in the heartfelt concern that they may know Christ as their Saviour and seek to let his Holy Spirit guide their lives and conduct, and that the cause of Truth may prosper. Our desire being the best interests, wellbeing and happiness of all men and women.

We salute you with joy and peace which can be found in Jesus Christ and wish to remain your loving friends.

 

Reference and Historical Notes:

These are the Queries and Advices of Friends in Christ, being the guidelines for conduct of meetings and members belonging to that body. They should be used in conjunction with the Book of Extracts from the minutes of London Yearly Meeting (1802 edition) and the Book of Discipline of New York Yearly Meeting (primitive), 1859 edition.

Friends in Christ seek to maintain the original Quaker message and testimonies as a living witness to the Christian faith which Friends have proclaimed since their beginnings in the seventeenth century.

We may be known as being ‘Primitive’ or ‘Orthodox’ for purposes of reference.

We are in unity with other such groups and individuals in the USA and elsewhere.

We believe we are a living continuation of the faith of our forefathers and are in unity with George Fox, Robert Barclay, William Penn, Isaac Pennington and all those men and women whohave followed in their footsteps till this present day.

The Queries and Advices contain most of the original material from the Queries and Advices (1924) used by the former Fritchley and Bournbrook General Meetings and also material gleaned from the New York Discipline (1859), the Ohio (1922 and 1977 editions) and Iowa (Conservative) 1953 Yearly Meeting Disciplines, the London Yearly Meeting Discipline (earlier editions) including material extracted from the very first recorded Queries of the Society. It also contains materialgleaned from other Quaker sources.

The last sentence of advice 11 is from Robert Barclay’s Apology which is also recommended to Friends for further perusal.

The second last sentence of advice 7 is based on the ministry of George Fox.

 

The Personal Queries

To be read out not less than twice yearly in all Preparative, Monthly Meetings and in all Elders and Ministers Meetings and Overseers meetings. They may further be read at Quarterly Meetings and during Yearly Meeting. They should also be discussed with new applicants for membership at the time of their visitation.

1 Dost thou seek to love God with all thy heart, soul, strength and mind so that his Love and Power may grow in thee and rule thy life? Dost thou seek to love others as thyself, within whom his Light is also to be found and cherished?

2 Since God is Spirit and God is Truth dost thou worship him in Spirit and in Truth with all thy heart, soul, strength and mind?

Dost thou make sufficient time to wait upon Jesus Christ, the Word of God who is the Spirit of Truth and Prophecy. to listen to him as the Father has commanded and to feel him exercise his offices within thee and now that Jesus Christ is come to teach his people himself dost thou learn of him, from him, concerning righteousness and holiness?

3 Dost thou seek to remain in a right relationship with God through his Son. Jesus Christ, the Word of Life. who is the Way to the Father and the Author and Perfecter of the true Faith that saves, justifies and leads into all righteousness?

4 Dost thou endeavour to walk in the Light, following Jesus Christ, the Light that gives light to all who enter the world to be guided by him out of all darkness and into the Power of God to become a child of the Light?

5 As he is a Prophet raised up by God does he open his mysteries to thee showing the way of salvation and of destruction? Dost thou hear him in all things? How does he reveal the Father to thee?

As he is a Priest, how dost thou experience him at work. sanctifying his people to present them to his Father without blemish. spot or wrinkle?

6 As he is King how does he reign over thee? Art. thou subject to his Laws of Life, Love and Faith? As he is a Shepherd dost thou hear his voice? Does he feed thee with the Bread of Life?

7 As he is a Counsellor and Commander dost thou follow him and his Counsel? As he is a Bishop does he oversee thy soul, spirit and mind when they go astray?

8 Dost thou submit in loving obedience to the leadings of Christ the Word within thee to do the will of the Father? And how is his work within thee known as he is a Preacher, Mediator, Interceder, Leader, Author, Perfecter, Captain and Physician?

9 Is he the Rock of thy faith and life? Is he the Foundation of all faith? How is thy faith and life built upon him? Does Christ remain thy Anchor and thy Hope to keep thee in his Light and from the power of darkness?

10 Dost thou remember to pray for others, holding them in the presence of God? Also to pray for the work of the church unceasing?

Art thou ready to take up the Cross of Christ which is the Power of God, living in it and preaching it in season and out of season, so that others may be brought to a realisation of the Kingdom of God?

11 Remembering that the causes of war and strife can through jealousy and hatred begin within our own hearts, art thou at peace within thyself, within thy family, within thy home, within thy meeting, within our religious society and with thy fellow men and women?

Is thy home a place of friendliness, sweet rest and contentment, where the presence of God can be experienced and known by those who live there and where through a sense of harmony and the offer of warm Christian hospitality the Peace of the Lord may be found by all who visit there?

12 Dost thou come to Meetings for Worship with heart and mind prepared knowing that “where two or three are gathered” in his name he will be present in our midst and that he may call upon thee to serve him?

 

The Corporate Queries

To be read one per month at every Preparative Meeting. Written answers to each query should be sent to the Elders of the Monthly Meeting who will summarise them and forward them to Quarterly Meetings each quarter. They should then be sent to Yearly Meeting via the half-Yearly Meeting on Ministry and Oversight.

1 Are Friends endeavouring to maintain the Gospel order? Are meetings for worship and meetings for church affairs and discipline called in the Name of Jesus kept up? Are they held in right ordering in a prayerful dependence and waiting upon the guidance of the Word of Life? Is the hour observed? Are they clear of all unbecoming behaviour in them.

2 Do Friends endeavour by example and precept to train up their children and those under their care in a religious life and conversation, consistent with our Christian profession, in the frequent reading of the Holy Scriptures and the approved writings of Friends and in plainness of speecb, behaviour, diet and apparel? Are the children of Friends provided with a good education which will better enable them to live in the world as followers of Christ and are sufficient funds made available for this purpose? Are the children of Friends helped and assisted to learn a useful trade or profession? Do Friends and their families and any who may be in their employment rest from all unnecessary trade and labour on the First Day of the week?

3 Are Friends clear of joining Masonic lodges or other secret societies? Are Friends preserved in love towards each other? If differences arise is due care taken speedily to end them? Are Friends careful to avoid and discourage tale-bearing, idle and malicious gossip and detraction?

4 Are Friends just in their dealings and punctual in fulfilling their engagements, are they annually advised carefully to inspect the state of their affairs at least once in the year? Are they careful to conduct their business as becomes our religious profession? When any give occasion for fear on these accounts are they seasonably laboured with for their preservation and recovery?

Are the financial affairs of the Preparative Meetings and the Monthly Meeting kept in good order? Are yearly accounts drawn up, checked and brought before the meeting that they may have sight of them?

Are correct accounts kept of all trust funds that are under the care of the Monthly Meeting?

Are meeting houses, schools, burial grounds, and any other property that is entrusted to the care of the Monthly Meeting kept in good order and repair?

Are the minutes of the Preparative Meetings and the Monthly Meeting and all other records relating thereto kept in good order and in a safe place?

5 Are Friends careful to avoid vain and cruel sports, lavish entertainments, circuses, dance-halls, card parties and other places of harmful diversion, gambling, intemperance, artificial music and the unnecessary frequenting of places where intoxicating drinks are sold?

6 As Christ said “But I say unto you swear not at all” Matt. ch. 5 vs. 33-37, do Friends bear a faithful and Christian testimony against all oaths?

As all men and women are created equal before God, do Friends continue to refrain from hat honour, flattering titles and worldly modes of address and any form of false honour towards their fellow men, remembering the dreadful sufferings of Friends in times past because of their refusal to follow the vain fashions and customs of the world?

Do they seek to use the Scriptural names of the days and months, namely their numbers only and not the heathenish given names?

As we hold that one day is no more holy than another, as all days are the gift of the most High, do we continue to maintain a firm Christian witness that our members do not join in any public fasts, feasts, so called holy-days and religious festivals (such as times called “Christmas” and “Easter” by some); for though exterior observances of a similar kind were once authorised under the law, as shadows of things to come, yet they who come to Christ will we believe assuredly find that in him all shadows end. As a further witness, are all Friends clear of paying tithes and avoiding outward and formal acts of so called religious observances?

Christ said “Freely ye have received, freely give”, Matt. ch. 10 vs. 7-10. Is our testimony against a hireling priesthood maintained and do Friends seek to uphold a free Gospel ministry?

7 Are Friends faithful in maintaining our Christian testimony against all war, military preparations, training and service, and of paying any fine or tax instead thereof. Are they vigilant against oppression, violence and all forms of cruelty either to our fellow men or women or to the sentient creatures?

8 Are the needs of the poor, the elderly, disabled and those in ill-health among you receiving oversight and does your heart reach out in love to all those who suffer wherever they are in the world and to seek to aid their relief wherever possible?

Are Friends supportive of one another’s endeavours? Do they seek to make full use of the goods and services provided by those members who are engaged in trade? Are those Friends that are employers able to offer work to other Friends?

9 Are Friends endeavouring to uphold our Christian testimonies regarding marriage and family life? Do they seek to be supportive of those contemplating marriage, offering loving advice and assistance whenever possible, reminding them of the value we attach to the ancient Quaker wedding procedures and that we consider marriage to be a Divine ordinance?

Are Friends tender and understanding of any who are experiencing difficulties within their marriage or family life, so that they may have someone to whom they can turn to for friendly advice, who will carefully listen with a confidential ear, that through Divine assistance and in the knowledge that they are supported by the prayers of their friends they may come to resolve their problems and thus strengthen their relationships.

10 Are Friends endeavouring to live by a high moral code as befits the followers of Christ to avoid all forms of vice, sexual perversion, adultery, fornication, greed, gluttony and excess? Do Friends maintain a plain and simple lifestyle avoiding superfluity, undue extravagance and vain worldly fashions in the furniture of their homes, in dress, diet, motor vehicles and other personal effects? Do they seek to be honest and plain in their language and to endeavour to speak the Truth with love?

11 “As the Earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof” Psalm 24, are Friends seeking ways of avoiding or limiting their use of products that are polluting the creation and are they seeking to conserve all natural resources particularly those that are non-renewable?

Are Friends conscious of how the Lord has provided for us abundantly that we are not to waste the fruits of the harvest, that all may obtain sufficient food for their needs?

12 How does the Truth prosper with you? Is there any growth and has any convincement appeared since our last annual gathering?

Are there any Friends suffering for the cause of Truth? And is every effort being made for their relief and to support their families? Have any Friends obtained a minute from your Monthly Meeting to labour in the love of the Gospel since our last annual gathering and are they and their families being supported by the meeting where necessary?

What Friends have been called into the ministry since our last Yearly Meeting and have they been acknowledged by your Quarterly Meeting?

Have any ministering Friends died since our last Yearly Meeting? Where Memorials to the Grace of God in the life of deceased Friends have been prepared, have they been forwarded with a covering minute to your Quarterly Meeting?

 

The General Advices

To be read at Preparative, Monthly and Quarterly Meetings at least four times each year and at Yearly Meeting. It might also be found acceptable to read the ten commandments and the two commandments of Jesus at such times.

1 Friends be diligent in waiting upon the Lord. Heed him, who is the Word of Life and the Spirit of Truth and Prophecy, within your hearts. He is the Way to the Father. By his redemptive love Christ Jesus shines in our hearts to reveal the glory of God. It is only by heeding and obeying Jesus, the Word of God that we are shown our darkness and led into his Light to find true repentance.

In Christ the Light we are shepherded along the paths of righteousness and brought to the Father ready to do his will. In heeding and obeying the Word of God we are called to live in the life and power of the Holy Spirit. As disciples of the Word of God we are to labour together in spreading the Everlasting Gospel. Under the Lord’s hand and guidance it becomes our task to bring others to a realisation of God’s Kingdom and citizenship of it.

2 Friends are advised to be diligent in inward waiting upon God in the spirit of true prayer under that holy influence which is secretly and constantly working for our regeneration as it is yielded to, that so they may be enabled in prosperity or adversity, to endure ‘as seeing him who is invisible’ being kept alive unto God and preserved in love and unity with each other, harmoniously labouring together for the spreading and increase of the Redeemer’s Kingdom in the World.

3 To endeavour to attend all our meetings for worship as being a primary duty which we owe to the unseen Head of the Church and a public testimony to our belief in and dependence upon him; and likewise a duty which we owe to his people, as also for our own advancement, since it is at such times of collective worship that Christ specially promised to be with his followers.

Friends should avoid all contention and personal reflections in our Meetings for Discipline and Church Affairs and be careful to keep out of undue excitement and doubtful disputations that they may be conducted in the peaceable spirit and wisdom of Jesus, with forbearance and love.

4 Jesus Christ, who is the Head of the Church on Earth, is present in our midst when two or more have come together to worship in his name.

Therefore Friends corporate worship is to be treasured. It should be our primary endeavour to attend all our meetings for worship with joy and reverence, so that we may corporately sit at his feet to learn of him and from him. He is the Word of God and the Spirit of Truth and Prophecy and as our Prophet he reveals the will of the Father to his Church. Therefore wait in silence in the name of Jesus to receive his leadings. If thou hast a leading of the Spirit be ready and be prepared to discern if it is of Christ or simply thine own strivings within thee. Ask the Lord for confirmation and guidance. If the Lord has summoned thee to spoken ministry speak his words faithfully and clearly that all may hear, remembering that thou art only the humble instrument of his will and glory, not thine own. Receive the spoken ministry of others with tenderness and spiritual understanding.

Remember the important place of true prayer in thy life and in the home and family and in the corporate witness of the meeting. Some do not receive a call to public ministry, but can often make an effective witness through kneeling in vocal prayer and all can help uphold our meetings through prayer and intercession during times of quiet waiting.

 

The Corporate Monthly Advices

To be read one per month in your preparative meetings and in your monthly meeting. Extracts should also be read in Quarterly Meetings and during the sessions of Yearly Meeting.

Friends are advised-

1 “That as the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit”, 1 Corinthians ch 6 v 19, seek to maintain its purity and wellbeing with a plain, wholesome and natural diet, with adequate fresh air and suitable exercise, thus promoting a healthy lifestyle and a wise protection against many diseases.

Avoid unclean thoughts and actions.

Abstain from the use of intoxicating drinks, tobacco, narcotic drugs and other forms of addiction, both on account of their effects and the associations frequently connected therewith. To be conversant with the reasons for our early testimony against vaccination and immunisation. To seek more natural and satisfactory forms of protection against disease both for ourselves and our children.

To seek healing through prayer and the use of natural remedies wherever possible and work towards the realisation of the wholeness of man, unity of body, mind and soul, through the light and grace of our Saviour the Lord Jesus Christ.

2 To be frequent in the private and also in the family reading of the Bible, to endeavour to enter into the power of that Spirit by which the Scriptures were given forth so that all may be led into a right use and understanding of them, also to find time both in private and in your families and in your reading meetings to read the approved writings of Friends.

That parents and others having the care of young people early instruct them in the principles of Truth as professed by us.

Be careful to make a worthwhile and religious use of those portions of time on FIrst Days, which are not occupied by out meetings for worship.

3 That our members refrain from joining Masonic lodges or other secret societies, remembering that these are incapable of producing any good which might not be effected by safe and open means and that the pledge to secrecy is in itself a surrender of manly independence which tends to moral decadence and spiritual loss.

4 Friends are advised to make their wills and settle their outward affairs in time of health and to appoint suitable Friends as their executors.

Remember, beloved Friends, the uncertainty of this life and the vast importance of a preparation for that life which is to come.

Remember the Biblical injunctions “What does the Lord require of thee but to do justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with thy God”, Micah ch 6, v 8 and to seek that “peace of God which passeth all understanding”, Phillippians ch 4, v 7.

5 To avoid every form of gambling.

To guard against the introduction of hurtful and evil ideas, improper books, periodicals and broadcasts into your families and against such companionships, recreations, diversions and activities intent upon Truth’s destruction and the denial of Christ, for what has Truth to do with darkness? Friends should especially avoid any involvement with astrology, oracles, spiritism and other arcane practices that have no place in God’s Kingdom and lead into the ways and powers of darkness. For remember we shall be. called to account for the use we have made of our time.

6 To limit the use of motor vehicles as far as possible because of the detrimental effects on the creation and on the wellbeing of mankind. Those Friends who are of necessity drivers of motor vehicles are asked to exercise due diligence and care on the roads and to avoid any show of vanity in respect of their vehicles.

7 To avoid those farming and other trade practices that involve cruelty and the use as far as is possible of any products thereby obtained.

To be supportive of farmers and others who are seeking to produce food and materials in a way that is humane and friendly to God’s creation.

To be supportive of humane alternatives to vivisection, and to avoid as far as possible those products that have involved animals in cruel experiments. For all cruelty whether it be to mankind or sentient creatures is against the Peaceable Kingdom. Let the law of kindness know no limits: show a loving consideration for all God’s creatures. Seek to live in harmony with all creation.

To support the cause of Peace and the spreading of the Redeemer’s Kingdom here on earth.

8 To attend to the limitations of Truth in trade and other outward concerns. To maintain strict honesty and integrity in all your business transactions, remembering that you will have to account for the mode of acquiring and for the manner of using your possessions. In your dealings and intercourse with all men, maintain a truly Christian character – bearing in mind the injunction, “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven”, Matt. ch 5, v 16.

To invest their monies ethically where they may not be used for evil purposes and not to exact unjust usury.

9 That those contemplating marriage ask counsel of God and look principally to that which will help them in their heavenward journey. bearing in mind the great importance of accordance in religious belief and practice; paying also filial attention to the judgment of concerned parents in all matters relating thereto; that thus they may be favoured with Divine blessing, which alone can make truly rich and to which no enduring sorrow is added.

Marriage being a Divine ordinance. a safe and secure haven from the world and a solemn engagement for life, is not to be entered into unadvisedly or lightly, but discreetly, soberly and in the fear of the Lord, duly considering the relative duties. roles and responsibilities of husband and wife fully. Marriage implies union as much in spiritual as in physical and temporal matters and concerns.

Observe simplicity and moderation at marriages.

Friends be careful in connection with all marriages that they do not in any way invalidate our testimony that marriage is an ordinance of God and that he alone can rightly join man and woman therein.

10 To observe simplicity and avoid undue extravagance in the furniture of your homes, in your diet and manner of living, in your personal attire and in that of your children and in all your personal effects.

11 To till the soil with respect and gather its fruits with thankfulness in your hearts. To preserve its beauty and abundance for future generations.

To remember clean fresh air and pure water are God’s life enhancing gifts to mankind for our enjoyment and benefit. We are not to misuse, pollute or contaminate them in any way. “When men are not content to make proper use of the Creation trouble begins.”

12 Finally it is recommended that Friends watch over one another for good, that when occasions of uneasiness are first observed in any, they may be treated with in privacy and tenderness before the matter be communicated to another. Thus the hands of those concerned in the further exercise of the discipline will not be weakened by a consciousness of their having themselves departed from the true order of the Gospel. No one can live to self alone. Be ready to seek advice and counsel from one another and when in despair, weakness or temptation, seek Christ’s help in their defeat. He is your Hope and Anchor. He is your Counsellor. Heed his counsel, placing your full trust in him. Christ will not let you weaken or despair more than you can bear. Remember that as his Church, we are one body in him as he is within us. Live in love as Christian brethren. Follow peace with all men, desiring the true happiness of all. And Friends everywhere are advised to endeavour to maintain “the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace”. Ephesians ch. 4, v. 3.

 

A Concise Account of the Beliefs and Tenets of the Society of Friends in Christ

Belief in God the Father and his only begotten Son Jesus Christ our Saviour, that Jesus promised to send us the Comforter which we believe to be the Holy Spirit to abide with us forever, see: John ch. 14 vs. 16-29 & 26, ch. 15 v. 16.

We do not use the term ‘trinity’ as it is not to be found in the Scriptures and although we do not accept the terms of separate and distinct persons in the Godhead, yet we have ever believed and as constantly maintained, the truth of that great and mysterious doctrine of the “Three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one.” John ch. 5 v. 7.

That God can and does reveal himself to each one of us by the Light of Jesus Christ. Christ who is come a Light into the world, shows us our darkness, brings us to repentance, frees us from sin, unites us to him and to one another and enables us to live in obedience to him. “In him was life; and the life was the light of men.” John ch. 1 v. 4.

“That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” John ch. 1 v. 9.

“I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth in me should not abide in darkness.” John ch. 12 v. 46.

Belief in the spiritual nature of the waiting Divine worship. “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Matt. ch. 18 v. 20.

“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46 v. 10. “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.” Rev. ch. 3 v. l3. “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.” Cor. ch. 12 v. 7.

The upholding of a free and living Gospel ministry and not to maintain paid preachers or priesthood. “Freely ye have received, freely give.” Matt ch. 10 v. 8.

That men and women can and do equally receive the spiritual gifts, including those of ministry and eldership. “Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy.” Joel ch. 2 v. 28, Acts ch. 2 v. 17.

Belief in the inward baptism of the Holy Spirit. “He shall baptise you with the Holy Ghost and with fire.” Matt ch. 3 v. 11, Mark ch. 1 v. 8, Luke ch. 3 v. 16, John ch. 1 vs. 26-33.

Belief in the inward supper “I will come in to him and will sup with him and he with me.” Rev. ch. 3 v. 20.

An avoidance of the use of all outward creeds, symbols, rites and ceremonies, including instrumental music and the outward enactment of the sacraments, the avoidance of programmed or preorganised services. ”They that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” John ch. 4 v. 24.

Belief in the Scriptures of Truth which were given forth by inspiration of God, therefore they are to be believed, highly prized and frequently read, not only individually, but we believe the daily reading of them in the family gathering is a duty which cannot be neglected without a loss in spiritual life. We believe any doctrine. belief or practice that contradicts the Scriptures is not to be accepted. and that they are the most perfect outward rule of faith and practice, but not the primary rule, which we attribute to the Spirit that gave them forth. by which alone their meaning can be rightly understood, and we believe without this Spirit none should endeavour to study or teach them.

Friends speak: of the Scriptures as the words of God, believing Christ to be the Word which was in the beginning, which was with God and was God; that he is the en grafted word which is able to save the soul. and that he is the word which all Christians must be born of, as is spoken of by the apostle Peter. wherein he says, “Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit into unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently; being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever.” 1 Peter ch. 1 vs. 22,23. To call the Scriptures the Word of God seems to place them upon an equality with Christ, which we believe is not proper, much as we esteem them, and believe them to be “Profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness.” 2 Tim ch. 3 vs. 16, 17.

That every day is the gift of God, that no one day is more holy or special than another. “This is the day which the Lord hath made, we will rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118 v. 24. Thus we avoid participation in outward and public feasts, fasts so called “religious holidays”. “Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth, they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them” Isaiah ch. 1 vs. 9-14, see: Gal. ch. 4 vs. 9-11.

That we have one day a week which is specially set aside for the family to rest and for public worship, when we avoid unnecessary labour. We generally choose the First Day of the week for this purpose, as this was the practice of the early Christians. We believe that under the new covenant, Jesus himself is the Sabbath, “And he said unto them :- That the Son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath.” Luke ch. 6 v. 5. “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matt. ch. 11 v. 28. This day does not therefore replace the Jewish Sabbath which we are no longer called to maintain. We also believe in the value and necessity of coming together for worship in the middle of the week.

That we choose to walk humbly in the strait and narrow way, avoiding immorality and harmful diversions of any kind “Enter ye in at the strait gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction and many there be which go in thereat.” Matt. ch. 7 v. 13.

That all our time is the gift of God and that we must not misuse our time.

That we are called to live soberly and to keep to truth, honesty, moderation, and to avoid all superfluity and extravagance in all our outward affairs, remembering that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, vis: 1 Cor. ch. 6 v. 19. “What does the Lord require of thee but to do justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with thy God.” Micah ch. 6 v. 8.

That the whole of creation and all created beings and things in it are the work of his hands, thus we are to avoid misusing or harming it in any way. “As the Earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.” Psalm 24 v. 1.

That we do not use the Lord’s name in vain; this includes not taking oaths. “Swear not at all.” Matt ch. 5 vs. 33-37, see: James ch. 5 v. 12.

That we do not use the names of false gods. “And in all things that I have said unto you be circumspect and make no mention of the name of other gods, neither let it be heard out of thy mouth.” Exodus ch. 23 v. 13, Joshua ch. 23 v. 7. Therefore we seek to uphold the use of the Scriptural calendar.

That all life is the gift of God, and that we have no right to take life in warfare, capital punishment, abortion or murder, “Thou shalt not kill.” Exodus ch. 20 v. 13.

That we avoid all violence, oppression and cruelty both to mankind and animals.

That only Jesus can give us true peace, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you.” John ch. 14 v. 27. “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” Phil. ch. 4 v. 7.

That we are called to spread the Redeemer’s Kingdom here on earth. “Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” Matt. ch. 6 v. 10, see: Matt. ch. 28 vs. 18-20. Jesus sent out his twelve disciples “To preach the kingdom of God”, see: Luke ch. 10. “I beseech you therefore, brethren by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” “And be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God”, Rom. ch. 12 vs. 1,2. Thus we should be wary of being too heavily involved in civil government and in seeking legal and political solutions to what we consider to be moral and spiritual questions and problems.

These then are and ever have been since the beginning the accepted beliefs of all true Friends; they are in no way contrary to the Scriptures ofTruth, and we believe were revealed to us by the prornptings and leadings of the Holy Spirit. We preach primitive Christianity revived, the one universal everlasting Gospel, as clearly expounded in the works of George Fox, William Penn, Robert Barclay, Isaac Pennington and other Friends, in the recorded minutes of the meetings and in the continuing living witness to our testimonies, right up to this present day. We do not seek to alter them in any way, though we are conscious that as mere mortals we often fail and fall short of our high calling. Our heart felt desire is to maintain and witness to them to the best of our abilities, through the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Advices from a General Meeting held at Balby, Yorkshire (1656)

The Elders and Brethren send unto the Brethren in the North these necessary things following; to which, if you, in the Light wait, to be kept in obedience, you will do well. Fare you well.

1 That the particular meetings, by all the Children of the Light, be duly kept and observed, where they be already settled, every FIrst Day of the week; except they be moved to other places. And that general meetings be kept in order and sweet in the life of God, on some other day of the week than on FIrst Day, unless there be a moving to the contrary; that so in the light and life, the meetings be kept, to the praise of God.

2 That care be taken, that as any are brought into the Truth, meetings be in such places amongst them as may be for the most convenience of all, without respect of persons; and that hands be laid on none suddenly, lest the Truth suffer.

3 That if any person draw back from meetings, and walk disorderly, some go to speak to them to exhort and admonish such with tender, meek spirit, whom they find negligent or disorderly. And if any, after admonition, persist in the thing not good, let them again be admonished and reproved before two or three witnesses; that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every thing may be established. And if still they persevere in them, then let the thing be declared to the church and when the church hath reproved them for their disorderly walking, and admonished them in the tender and meek spirit, and they do not reform, then let their names and the causes, and such as can justly testify the truth therein, and their answers be sent in writing to some who the Lord hath raised up in the power of his Spirit to be fathers, his children in the Light, that the thing may be known to the body and with the consent of the whole body, the thing may be determined in the Light.

4 That as any are moved of the Lord to speak the word of the Lord’s at such meetings, that it be done in faithfulness, without adding or diminishing. And if at such meetings, any thing at any time be otherwise spoken by any out of the Light, whereby the seed of God cometh to be burdened, let the person or persons in whom the seed of God is burdened speak in the Light (as of the Lord they are moved) in meekness and godly fear, to him; but let it be done in private, betwixt them two, or before two or three witnesses, and not in the public meetings, except there be a special moving so to do.

5 That collections be timely made for the poor (that are so indeed), as they are moved, according to order, for relief of prisoners, and other necessary uses, as need shall require; and all moneys so collected, an account thereof to be taken; from which every need may be supplied. as made known by the overseers in every meeting; that no private ends may be answered, by all brought to the Light, that the Gospel be not slandered.

6 That care be taken for the families and goods of such as are called forth into the ministry, or who are imprisoned for the Truth’s sake; that no creatures be lost for want of the creatures [1] .

7 That as any are moved to take a brother or a sister in marriage (marriage being honourable in all, and the bed undefiled). let it be made known to the children of the Light. especially to those of the meeting of which parties are members; that all in the Light may witness it to be of God. And let them be joined together in the Lord and in his fear, in the presence of many witnesses; according to the example of the holy men of God in the Scriptures of Truth recorded (which were written for our example and learning); that no scandal may rest upon the Truth, nor anything be done in secret; but all things brought to the Light, that Truth may triumph over deceit; and that they who are joined together in the Lord. may not by man be put asunder, whom God hath joined together. That there may be a record in writing. witnessing of the day, place, and year. of such things, kept within that meeting. of which the one or both of them are members; under which writing the witnesses present may subscribe their names, or so many of them as be convenient; for the stopping of the mouths of gainsayers. and for the manifesting the truth to all who are without.

8 That a record be kept in every meeting of the births of the children of such who are members of that meeting, and of the burials of the dead (who die in the Lord), as they depart out of the body; which be done after the manner of the holy men of God, recorded in the Scriptures of Truth; and not after the customs of the heathen, who know not God.

9 That husbands and wives dwell together according to knowledge, as being heirs together of the grace of life [2]2. That children obey their parents in the Lord; and that parents provoke not their children to wrath, but bring them up in the nurture and fear of the Lord, walking before them as good examples, in gravity and godliness; providing things honest in the sight of God and man.

10 That servants be obedient to them that are their masters in the flesh, in things that are good, in singleness of heart as unto Christ, not with eye-service as men­ pleasers, but as the servants of Christ; doing the will of God from the heart; with good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men; knowing whatsoever good thing any man doth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free. And that masters give to their servants that which is just and equal; forbearing threatening, knowing that their Master is also in Heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him

11 That care be taken that none who are servants depart from their masters, but as they both do see in the Light; nor any master to put away his servant, but by the consent of the servant; and if any master or servant in their wills do otherwise, it is to be judged with Friends in the Light

12 That the necessities of the poor, widows and fatherless, may be truly supplied, and that such as are able to work, and do not, may be admonished; and if, after admonition, they refuse to work, then let them not eat. And that the children of such as are in necessity be put to honest employment; that none be idle in the Lord’s vineyard.

13 That care be taken, that as any are called before the outward powers of the nation, that in the Light, obedience to the Lord be given.

14 That if any be called to serve the commonwealth in any public service, which is for the public wealth and good, that with cheerfulness it be undertaken, and in faithfulness discharged unto God; that therein patterns and examples in the thing that is righteous, they may be, to those that be without.

15 That all Friends that have callings and trades, do labour in the thing that is good in faithfulness and uprightness; and keep to their yea and nay in all their communications; and that all who are indebted to the world, endeavour to discharge the same, that nothing they may owe to any man but to love one another.

16 That no one speak evil of another, neither judge one against another; but rather judge this, that none put a stumbling-block or occasion to fall in his brother’s way.

17 That none be busy-bodies in other’s matters, but each one to bear another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ; that they be sincere and without offence, and that all things which are honest be done without murmurings and disputings; that they may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, amongst whom they may shine as lights in the world.

18 That Christian moderation be used towards all men; that they who obey not the Word may be won by those that in the Word dwell, to guide in an holy life and godly conversation.

19 That the Elders made by the Holy Ghost feed the flock of God, taking oversight thereof willingly, not by constraint, but of a willing mind; neither as lords over God’s heritage, but as examples to the flock of Christ.

20 That the younger submit themselves to the elder, yea all be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility; for God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble.

From the Spirit of Truth to the Children of Light, to walk in the Light; that all in the order be kept in obedience to God; that he may be glorified, who is worthy over all, blessed for ever – Amen!

Given forth at a General Meeting of Friends in the Truth at B alby in Yorkshire, in the Ninth Month, 1656, from the Spirit of Truth to the Children of Light in the Light to walk, that all in order may be kept in obedience, that he may be glorified, who is worthy over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.

Dearly beloved Friends, these things we do not lay upon you as a rule or form to walk by; but that all, with a measure of the Light which is pure and holy, may be guided; and so in the Light walking and abiding, these things may be fulfilled in the Spirit, not in the letter; for the letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life. See 2 Cor. ch. 3 v.6.

 

[1] This means that none should perish for the want of necessities

[2] See 1 Peter 3v7

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