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William Evans.

The Friends' library : comprising journals, doctrinal treatises, and other writings of members of the religious Society of Friends (Volume 1) online

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another in marriage, let there be not less than
twelve Friends and relations present, accord-
ing to your former order ; having first ac-



quainted the men's meeting, and that they have
clearness and unity with them ; and then the
marriage may be recorded in a book. And if
any walk contrary to the order of truth herein,
let some be appointed to speak to them and
give notice thereof to the next meeting.

" No man ought to speak to a woman con-
cerning marriage, before he hath spoken to
her father and mother, and had their consent;
and if she has no father or mother, but guar-
dians and trustees, then he must speak to
them if she be under age, and have their
consent.

" And when a marriage is to be propounded,
let it be laid before the women's meeting first.
And after they have declared it there, if they
know anything of the man or the woman,
that it should not proceed to the men's meet-
ing ; let two or three women go to the men's
meeting, that some of the men and women
may have a distinct meeting concerning it, and
let them end it before it comes to the men's
meeting. If there be no such occasion, let
two or three women go along with them to
the men's meeting : And after Friends have
taken their names and places of abode, let
two of the women's meeting be nominated,
and two men of the men's meeting, that if any
one have anything to say against the couple
before the next meeting they may speak to
them ; and if there should appear anything,
they may end it before they come to the meet-
ing. And if there be nothing, when they come
the second time to the women's meeting, a
woman Friend may go along with them to the
men, and testify that they know nothing against
their proceeding. And likewise the men that
are appointed to inquire, are to make the like
report, and let the man and the woman always
appear together, when they lay their intentions
of marriage. Then it is left to the men to
give their judgment and advice to the couple
that are to be married, all things being clear,
and nothing appearing to the contrary ; and
their fathers and mothers, or guardians, or
overseers being satisfied, then they may have
liberty to appoint a meeting, where they please,
in some public meeting place, where their re-
lations and friends may be present, and get a
certificate ready drawn up, with the day of
the month, place and year, showing that such
a couple did take one another in the presence
of God, and in the presence of his people,
who had laid their said intentions before them ;
and all things being found clear, according to
the law of God and the practice of the holy
men, recorded in the Scriptures of truth, to
live together in Christian, honourable marriage,
according to God's ordinance and his joining,
to be help-meets together as long as they live.

" And if any man or woman come out of



INSTITUTION OF THE DISCIPLINE.



129



another country, they must bring a certificate
from the men and women's meeting to that
where they take their wile or husband.

" And no man or woman is to be permitted
to proceed in marriage, if they be engaged or
entangled with any other, till they be cleared.

" If any one hath anything to say in oppo-
sition to the matter of marriage proposed to
the meeting, such Friend is to make known
what he hath against the parties, to such as
are appointed by the meeting to inquire into
their clearness.

" If any Friend hath anything against an-
other, let him not treasure it up until the time
of his marriage, and then cast it upon him
publicly. 1668.

" And dear Friends, whereas there have
been formerly, some discourses of marrying
within a year after the decease of the wife or
of the husband ; my desire is that in these
things, Friends may show forth chastity, vir-
tue, and temperance. For formerly, hasty
marriages were reckoned [not to be of good
report,] as for persons to marry within a year
of the death of the wife or husband. And
therefore, for virtue and chastity's sake, and
the truth and good example's sake, in that
which is honest, lovely, and of good report,
keep and walk. For we ought, in the power
of Christ Jesus, to outstrip the world in virtue,
chastity, modesty, and temperance, and in that
which is of good report. Our heavenly light
ought to shine so before men, that they may
see our good works, and glorify our Father
which is in heaven. 1683.

" Such as marry by the priests, or marry by
the world, those that are unbelievers, go from
God's power and spirit, and his joining, and
do break the law of God in their marriages,
which forbade to join with unbelievers. And
therefore with the light of Christ Jesus, are
such judged and condemned, and must come
through condemnation and judgment. 1669.

" Likewise, such as break their covenant in
marriage, go from the Spirit of God and his
joining, and from the spiritual society of God's
people, and their unity and fellowship. These
are to be reproved by the Spirit of God, and
if they do not return after reproof. Friends
cannot have unity or fellowship with them, but
turn away from them ; though they may have
the form of godliness. 1683.

" And now Friends, concerning marriages,
of which many things have already been
Avritten ;. it is desired that all may be careful
of running hastily together, and consider it
well first ; and as it is God's joining, so it is
his ordinance and honourable in all. And
such men as draw out the affections of young
women, and run from one to another, and leave
them and run to others ; and such women as

Vol. I.— No. 4.



draw men's affections to them, and then leave
them, and draw out other men's affections,
these bring into trouble, and are to be sharply
reproved. This work is not of God, but out
of his covenant. Some have gone so far as
to promises, espousals, and contracts, and then
left them and gone to others — this is to be
judged and reproved." 1683.

EDUCATION.

In order that children might be brought up
to habits of industry, so as to make useful men
and women, and taught to help themselves,
rather than depend upon others for aid or
maintainance, he gives the following excellent
advice respecting education, viz.

" All Friends, train up your children in the
fear of God ; and as they are capable, they
may be instructed and kept employed in some
lawful calling ; that they may be diligent, serv-
ing the Lord in the things that are good ; that
none may live idle and be destroyers of the
creation, and thereby become bvu'densome to
others, and to the just [witness] in themselves.

He further says on the important subject of
education : " Dear Friends, exhort all your
families at times and seasons, whether they be
servants or children, that they may be informed
in the truth. When ye were professors only,
many of you did exhort and instruct them in the
form, when ye had not the power ; and now
being brought into the truth, ye should be
more diligent to exhort, admonish, and instruct
them. 1656.

" And all Friends, see that your children
be trained up in soberness, holiness, righteous-
ness, temperance, meekness, gentleness, low-
liness, and modesty in their apparel and
carriage ; and exhort your childi'en and fami-
lies in the truth, that the Lord may be glorified
in all your families. Teach your children
when they are young, then will they remember
it when they are old, according to Solomon's
counsel ; that your children may be a blessing
to you and not a curse.

" All are to order their children and ser-
vants, in the order of the Gospel and in the
new covenant, that they may all come to know
the Lord. The outward Jews used to train
up their children in the old law, in the old
covenant ; and you that are called Christians,
are to train up your children in the fear of the
Lord, and in Christ Jesus, that they may walk
in him in modesty, holiness, and virtue. And
so all are to govern their families. And they
that govern, are to be governed and ordered
themselves, by the spirit and power of God,
to God's glory, and as examples to their
families. 1669.

In an epistle written in 1683, he says, " It
is desired that all Friends who have children,
17



130



L>fSTITUTION OF THE DISCIPLINE.



families, and servants^ may train them up in
the pure and unspotted religion, and in the
nurture and fear of God ; and that frequently
they read the Holy Scriptures, which is much
better than to be gadding abroad. And exhort
and admonish them, that every family apart
may serve and worship the Lord, as well as
in public. And when they go to meetings,
let them take their servants and families with
them, that they may not go wandering up and
down in the fields, or to ale-houses, as many
have done to the dishonour of God, of their
masters' and mistresses' families, and to their
own ruin. Therefore for Christ's sake, and
for his pure religion, let there be care taken to
prevent all these things. For such an one as
cannot rule well his own house, having his
children in subjection with all gravity, how
can he take care of the church of God.

" Dear Friends, consider old Eli's case, who
admonished his children, but because he did
not resti'ain them from the follies and the evils
they run into, therefore the Lord brought his
judgment upon him, so that he lost his chil-
dren's lives, and his priesthood, and his own
life. And do you not think that this was
written for an example, that others should be
warned, hear, and fear? And was not the
Gospel and the law given forth to restrain
people from sin and evil, and such things as
dishonour God?

" That you may put a difference between
the holy and the unholy, and the clean and
the unclean, and that you may teach your
children all the statutes which the Lord hath
spoken unto them by the hand of Moses, Lev.
X. Thus it was in the Old Testament, that
thej^ might learn the statutes there ; surely
much more are they to learn the commands
of Christ in his New Testament. And in
Deut. xxix. 10. They were to teach their sons,
and their sons' sons ; and to teach their chil-
dren, that they might learn to fear God all the
days that they lived upon the earth. It was
also the command of God, (Deut. xi.) that
they should teach their children his command-
ments, and to speak of them when they sat in
their house, and when they walked by the
way; when they lay down, and when they rose
up. Moses told them, that the word was nigh
them in their mouths and in their hearts, that
they might do it ; and David said, ' Come ye
children hearken unto me, and I will teach
you the fear of the Lord.' ' O fear the Lord
ye his saints, there is no want to them that
fear him.' ' Ye that fear the Lord, trust in
the Lord ; He is their help and their shield.'
Thus you may see all along in the Old Testa-
ment, they that feared the Lord, were com-
manded to teach and instruct their children in
the way of the Lord, that they might walk in



it and inherit the blessing, which is a better
portion than outward riches, which pass away.
1682.

" If children, and young people must be
left to themselves, and not be admonished, ex-
horted, and restrained from the evils and
vanities of the world, then why did Moses
and the prophets, and apostles, who were sent
of God, exhort people to train up their children
in the fear of the Lord, and to teach them his
law while they were young, that they might
not depart from it when they were old. And
if they did not, the Lord judged them for it,
as ye may read in the Scriptures of truth.
If they must be left to themselves, and not re-
strained from evil, how came it to pass that Eli
lost his life, his priesthood, and the ark of God
for not restraining his children fi-om evil.
Therefore consider, you that profess the new
covenant of the Spirit, what care lies upon
you in your families, of teaching and in-
structing your servants and children, and also
to bring them to the spirit of circumcision."
1686.

APPRENTICES.

" Let every Quarterly Meeting make inqui-
ry through all the Monthly and other meetings
to know all Friends who are widows, or others,
that have children fit to put out apprentices, so
that you may set forth four in a year in each
county, or more, if there be occasion. This
apprentice, when out of his time, may help
his father or mother to support the family that
is decayed, and in so doing all may come to
live comfortably. This being done in your
Quarterly Meetings, you will have a know-
ledge through the county, in the Monthly and
particular meetings, of masters fit for them,
and of such trades as their parents or you de-
sire, or the children are most inclinable to.
Thus being placed out to Friends, they may
be trained up in truth ; and by this means you
may preserve Friends' children, and enable
them to be a strength and help to their fami-
lies, and nursers and preservers of their rela-
tions in their ancient days."

" Friends, see that all apprentices that are
bound amongst you, serve out their time faith-
fully, according to covenant, that all may
know their pUices ; for youth if they be let
loose are like wild [creatures ;] and such many
times bring great dishonour by running into
looseness, and are more fit to be under rule
and order than to rule. Through a foolish
pity of some, they let up a great deal of airi-
ness and wildness in them ; all which should
be kept under by the power of God, wherein
the honour of the Lord may be preserved, and
liberty not be given to youth in those cases ;
for the true liberty is in Christ Jesus, which



INSTITUTION OF THE DISCIPLINE.



131



gives authority over that which will dishonour
God."



TRADE AND BUSINESS.



" All Friends everywhere that are shop-
keepers or mei-chants, or factors, or any other
trade, keep low in the power of God, and do
not go beyond your capacity, nor reach after
things more than ye can justly perform, and
answer all men ; but all in your places be just
and true, that ye may answer all men within
and without [the Society,] and truth and jus-
tice in your returns ; and keep your words,
so say, and so do, in all your tradings, which
is the royal law of liberty, else ye are a dis-
honour to Christianity. Therefore, see that
what ye do, and what ye say, ye may per-
form, that ye may not break your words and
promises ; for if ye do ye suffer loss. Neither
are ye masters of what ye take in hand ; for
a master should be atop of things, and be in
that, which can command things.

" Be not cumbered nor surfeited with the
riches of this world, nor bound nor straitened
with them, nor married to them, but be loose
and free from them and married to the Lord."
1658.

" And none are to be negligent in their bu-
siness, but give an account by word or writ-
ing, how things are with them, when others
write to them. So that none may wrong one
another in their outward things, nor oppress
one another, but be serviceable one to another,
keeping their words, (their going into thino-s
beyond their ability, makes them break their
words,) keeping within their compass, with-
that by which they may answer others, lest
any should be lifted up. It is a bad thing for
persons to be lifled up, and to make a noise
and a show for a time with other people's
goods, and yet cannot keep their word or their
promise. Such may be lifted up for a time,
and break and fall, and bring a great dis-
honour to Christ and true Christians. There-
fore keep your word, your day, your just mea-
sure and weight, and keep down oppression,
by the power of God and his spirit in your
hearts, then the blessing is doubled ; then ye
come to be rich and are a good savour to God,
in the hearts of all people. So every one
strive to be rich in the life, and in the king-
dom and things of the world that hath no end.
For he that covets to be rich in the things of
this world, falls into many snares and hurtful
lusts. Therefore, let him that buys or sells,
or possesses, or uses this world, be as if he
did not. Let them be masters over the world
in the power and spirit of God, and let them
know, that they owe no man anything but
love ; yet serve God in truth, and one another
in their generation. For Friends if ye be not



faithful in the outward treasure and outward
mammon, who will trust you with the true
treasure ? or who can believe that ye have the
true treasure, but rather that ye speak by
hearsay of it?" 1661.

" At first you know that many could not
take so much money in your trade as to buy
bread with — all people stood aloof from you,
when you stood upright and gave them the
plain language and were at a word [in your
dealings] ; but now that through this you are
come to answer that of God in all, they say they
will trust you before their own people, know-
ing you will not wrong nor oppress them. And
the cry now is, where is there a Quaker of
such or such a trade ? O, therefore. Friends,
who have purchased this through great suffer-
ings, lose not this great favour which God hath
given unto you, but answer the witness of God
in every man which witnesseth your faithful-
ness, that they may glorify your Father on
your behalf. If there be any oppression, ex-
action, or defrauding, through the freedom
which God hath given you, the world will see
such, and say the Quakers are not such as
they were : thei'efore, such should be exhorted
to equity and truth.

" All Friends everywhere, loathe deceit and
all unrighteousness, hard-heartedness, wrong-
ing, cheating or unjust dealing; and live in
the righteous life and power of God, so as to
answer the good and just principle in all. This
will win people to you, doing truth to all, with-
out respect to persons, to high and low, young
and old, rich and poor, so your lives and
words will preach wherever you come. Do
rightly, holily, justly, honestly and truly to all
people, whomsoever ye have to deal with.
Wrong not any in any case, though it be ever
so much to your advantage ; but deny your-
selves, and live in the cross of Christ, which
destroys injustice ; for without holiness none
can ever see the Lord, and out of righteous-
ness there is no true peace. Therefore, all,
of what sort or calling soever, do justly to one
another and to all — do that which is just and
righteous, upright and holy ; in this you will
have peace and see God." 1661.

" All such as go up and down to cheat,
by borrowing and getting money of Friends,
(and such have cheated several,) are to be
stopped and judged, and notice of them is to
be given to Friends and to other persons."
1669.

" And all, of what trade or calling soever,
keep out of debt. Owe to no man anything
but love. Go not beyond your estates, lest ye
bring yourselves into trouble and cumber and
a snare. Keep low in all things ye do ; for a
man that would be great, and goes beyond his
estate, lifts himself up, runs into debt, and



132



INSTITUTION OF THE DISCIPLINE.



lives highly on other men's means, he is a de-
stroyer of other men's estates, is not service-
able to the creation, but cumbereth himself
and troubleth others, is lifted up and would
seem to be somebody, but going from that
which is honest, just and good, falls into
shame." 1661.

" Take heed of the world's vanity and trust
not in uncertain riches, neither covet the riches
of this world, but seek the kingdom of God
and the righteousness thereof, and all other
things will follow. Let your minds be above
the costly and vain fashions of attire, but
mind the hidden man of the heart, even a
meek and quiet spirit, which is of great price
with the Lord. Keep to justice and truth in
all your dealings, and to the form of sound
words in the power of the Lord, and in equity,
in yea and nay in all your dealings, that your
lives and conversations may be in heaven,
above the earth, that they may preach to all
that you have to deal with. So may you be
as a city set on a hill that cannot be hid, and
as lights in the world, that God may in all
things be glorified. Pass the time of your
sojourning here with fear, as pilgrims, and
strangers, and sojourners, having your eye
over all things that are uncertain, as houses,
lands, goods, and things below. Possess them
as if ye did not, and they that marry as though
they did not, yet as having a city whose maker
and builder is God, and a possession in an in-
heritance that will never fade away, in which
you have riches that will abide with you eter-
nally." 1667.

CONDUCT AND CONVERSATION.

" Dear Friends, prize your heavenly calling
by which ye are called into holiness and right-
eousness, without which none shall see the
Lord. And let your conversation be as be-
cometh the Gospel, the holy power of God.
And keep in the lowly mind, and the humility
of Christ, that the fruits of your good con-
versation and regeneration may appear in
your lives, as a people I'edeemed from the
pleasures of the flesh, the spirit of the world,
and the beggarly lusts.

" Keep out of all false liberties, and that
which would lead you out of the fear of God ;
then ye will be preserved in the sense of the
power and the truth of God in your own
hearts. In that [let] every one watch, through
which knowledge and virtue is ministered unto
you, and peace from the God of virtue and
peace. And keep out of all that tends to
strife, and whisperings, and backbiting, and
tattling." 1653.

PLAIN LANGUAGE.

" All Friends, that believe in the light, as



Christ hath commanded you, and are be-
come children of light, keep to the proper
speech ; that is thee and thou to a single per-
son, and you to many : You may see through-
out the Scriptures, it was the language of God
and Christ, his prophets and apostles, and all
good men ; though, it is the practice of others
to say you, when they should say thou.
Therefore, take you heed of flattering to
please men, and of letting the world's spirit
over you."

Such was the sincerity and faithfulness
of that day, that George Fox advises all the
Monthly Meetings to make inquiry, "whether
any that profess truth, are out of the pure lan-
guage, thou to every one ; whether they keep
up God's and Christ's language, that the holy
prophets and apostles used, over all the flat-
tering words of the world." 1669.

CUSTOMS AND FASHIONS.

" My prayers, and soul's desire to God are,
that ye may be kept in the simplicity of the
truth in Christ Jesus, growing up in the power
of his resurrection, and made conformable to
his death, to have fellowship with him in his
sufferings : That all your hearts may be knit
together in love, and in one spirit to God, and
be kept out of all the world's evil customs,
fashions, words, works, manners, ordinances,
and commandments, which will all perish,
which the world holdeth up in the carnal mind,
and the carnal man doth act them. 1652.

" Be faithful in all things, and keep from
the world's vain customs. Do not wear ap-
parel to gratify the proud mind, neither eat
nor drink to make yourselves wanton, for it
was created for health and not for lust, to be
as servants to us, and we servants to God, to
use all those things to his glory. 16.54.

" All Friends, everywhere, do not delight
in apparel; do not delight in the creature
more than the Creator. Trust not in uncertain
riches which fade and pass away, but in the
living God, and love the riches that endure
and never fade away. Delight not in the
world that ends, but in the world that hath no
end, that ye may all come to have an assu-
rance of the endless life. 1656.

" All Friends, keep out of the vain fashions
of the world in your apparel, and run not
after every new fashion which the world in-
venteth and setteth up. Keep in your plain
fashion, that ye may judge the world's vanity
and spirit, in its vain fashions, and show a
constant spirit in the truth and plainness.
1657.

" The apostle, in the spirit and power of
Christ, had a care over the church of God,
that they should adorn themselves as becomes
the Gospel, with chaste lives and conversation,



INSTITUTION OF THE DISCIPLINE.



133



and with the hidden man of the heart, in that
which is not corruptible, even the ornament of
a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight
of God, of a great price. This is that which
arrays and beautifies God's church, and not
the outward adorning or plaiting the hair,
and every new fashion that comes up in the
world.

" And such young people [are to be judged
and reproved] that trim themselves up in gay
apparel, and make a great show, and hang
most on their backs, appearing what they are not
in substance; [by] which, women have some-
times deceived young men, and men deceived
women, and drawn out their afiections by out-



Online LibraryWilliam EvansThe Friends' library : comprising journals, doctrinal treatises, and other writings of members of the religious Society of Friends (Volume 1) → online text (page 29 of 105)