vation.— The Holy Scriptures contain the decree of God, so far as it is necessary for us to know for our salvation; so that whatsoever is not contained therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be enjoined on any to believe as an article of faith, nor as a doctrine essential to salvation.

By the Holy Scriptures, we understand those canonical books of the Old and New Testament, which the church at all times indubiously received as such.

VI. Concerning the Old Testament.—The Old and New Testaments are not contrary to each other; in both, as well in the Old as in the New Testament, everlasting lise is offered to mankind by Christ, being both God and man, and the only Mediator between God and man. Wherefore they are not to be heard, who teach that the fathers of the ancient covenant had grounded their expectations on transitory promises only. Though the law given from God by Moses, touching ceremonies and rites, doth not bind Christians by any means, nor ought the civil precepts thereof of necessity be received in any commonwealth: yet, notwithstanding, no Christian is free from the obedience of the ten commandments, which are also called the moral law.

VII. Of Original Sin.-Original sin consisteth not in the following of Adam (as some falsely pretend); but it is that corruption of the human nature, in which every offspring of Adam appears in this world—a corruption, whereby man is very far gone from original righteousness, and, on the contrary, is of his own nature inclined to evil, and that continually.

VIII. Of Free Will.—The condition of man after and since the fall of Adam is so wretched, that we cannot turn unto God by the simple powers of nature; and hence we cannot by our own natural strength do any good works, pleasing and acceptable in the sight of God, without the grace of God by Christ preventing us, and influencing us that we may have a good will, and working with us, when we have that good will.

IX. Of the Justification of Man. We are never accounted righteous before God on account of our works or merits; but it is only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and by faith in his name, that we are justified. Wherefore, that we are justified by faith only, is a most wholesome doctrine, and full of comfort.

X. Of Good Works.— Though good works are the fruits of faith, and follow justification, whilst they have not the virtue to put away our sins, nor to avert the judgment, or endure the severity of God's justice: yet they are pleasing and acceptable to God in Christ, if they spring out

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

of a true and living faith, insomuch, that by them living faith may

be as evidently known, as a tree is discerned by its fruit.

XI. Of Sin after Justification. Not every sin willingly committed after justification is, therefore, the sin against the Holy Ghost, which is unpardonable. They cannot all be precluded from repentance who fall in sin after justification, nor their acceptance straightway denied them. After we have received the Holy Ghost, it may so happen, that we may depart from grace, and fall into sin; and, we may even thus arise again by the grace of God and amend our lives. And, therefore, the doctrine of those is to be rejected, who say, they can no more fall into sin as long as they live here, or who deny the place of forgiveness to such as do truly repent.

XII. Of the Church.The visible Church of Christ is the community of true believers, among whom the word of God is preached in its purity, and the means of grace are duly administered, according to Christ's own appointment in all those things, so far as they are requisite, and in conformity with the ordinances of Christ.

XIII. Of speaking in the Congregation in such a Tongue as the People may understand.—Public prayers in the church, and the ministering of baptism and of the Lord's Supper in a tongue not understood by the people, are matters plainly repugnant to the word of God, and the custom of the primitive church.

XIV. Of Baptism and the Lord's Supper.—Baptism and the Lord's Supper, ordained by Christ, are not only given pledges or tokens of Christian men's profession, but they are much more certain signs of grace and God's good will towards us, by which he works invisibly in us, quickens and also strengthens and confirms our faith in him.

Baptism and the Lord's Supper were not ordained by Christ that we should abuse them; but that we should duly use them. And in such only, as worthily receive the same, they produce a wholesome and effectual power; but such, as receive them unworthily, purchase to themselves damnation, as Paul saith.

XV. Of Baptism.-Baptism is not merely a token of a Christian profession, whereby Christians are distinguished from others, and whereby they obligate themselves to observe every Christian duty; but it is also a sign of internal ablution, renovation, or the new birth.

XVI. Of the Lord's Supper.—The Supper of the Lord is not merely a token of love and union, that Christians ought to have among themselves and one towards another; but it is much more, a mystery or a representation of our redemption by the sufferings and death of Christ; insomuch, that such as rightly, and worthily, and faithfully receive the same, partake of the body and blood of Christ by faith, as the impart

[ocr errors]

ing means, not in a bodily but in a spiritual manner, in eating the broken bread and in drinking the blessed cup, which is handed them. Transubstantiation, or the changing of the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ in the Lord's Supper, cannot be supported by Holy Writ, but is repugnant to the plain words of the Scriptures.

XVII. Of the only Oblation of Christ, finished upon the Cross.—The offering which was once made by Christ on the cross, is that perfect redemption, propitiation and satisfaction, for all the sins of the whole world, both original and actual, so that there is no other satisfaction required but that alone.

XVIII. Of Church Rites and Ceremonies. It is by no means necessary, that ceremonies and rites should in all places be the same, or exactly alike; for they have always been different, and may be changed according to the diversity of countries, times and national manners, provided, that nothing be introduced contrary to God's ordinances. Whosoever, through his private judgment, willingly and purposely doth break the ordinances, ceremonies and rites of the church to which he belongs, (if they are not repugnant to the word of God, and are ordained by proper authority,) ought to be rebuked openly, as one that offendeth against the order of the church, and woundeth the consciences of the weaker brethren, in order that others may be deterred from similar audacity.

Every particular church has the privilege to introduce, change and abolish rites and ceremonies; yet so, that all things may be done to edification.

XIX. Of the Rulers of the United States of America.The President, Congress, the General Assemblies, the Governors, and the Councils of State, as the delegates of the people, according to the regulation and transfer of power, made to them by the constitution of the United States, and by the constitutions of their respective states, are the rulers of, and in the United States. And these states are a sovereign and independent nation, which is and ought not to be subject to any foreign jurisdiction: though we believe that wars and bloodshed are not agreeable with the gospel and spirit of Christ.

XX. Concerning the Christian's temporal property.— The temporal property of Christians must not be considered as common, in regard to the right, title and possession of the same, as some do vainly pretend; but as lawful possessions. Notwithstanding, every one ought, of the things he possesseth, to give to the poor and needy, and to manifest Christian love and liberality towards them.

XXI. Of the last Judgment and God's righteous Sentence of Rewards and Punishments. We believe that Jesus Christ will come in the last

day, to judge all mankind by a righteous judgment; that God will give unto the faithful, elect and godly, eternal life and happiness, everlasting rest, peace and joy without end. But God will bid the impenitent and ungodly, depart to the devil and his angels, to endure everlasting damnation, punishment and pain, torment and misery. Therefore we are not to concede to the doctrine of those who maintain that devils and ungodly men will not have to suffer eternal punishment and torment.


Their conferences are: first, a quarterly; second, an annual; and third, a general conference. The first takes place on every circuit at the quarterly meetings; the second once a year in every conference district, and the third every four years in the district of the whole society, on account of which it is called the general conference. The members of the quarterly conference are all the class-leaders, exhorters, travelling and local preachers, residing or stationed in the circuit of said quarterly conference. The members of the annual conferences are all the travelling preachers, and such as have travelled, and who by ordination stand in full connexion with the ministry. The general conference consists of delegates who are elected of every annual conference every fourth year, one for every four members of her own body. There is in addition to these another annual conference appointed for the local preachers on every circuit, where several of them reside; but these are destined principally for the investigation of the character and conduct of said preachers, in order to save time at the annual conferences of the travelling ministry.

Arrangement of the Society.The whole society is divided into conference districts, the conference districts into smaller districts, these into circuits, and the circuits into classes.




The religious Society of Friends, commonly called Quakers, is a body of Christian professors, which arose in England about the middle of the seventeenth century. The ministry of George Fox was chiefly instrumental, under the divine blessing, in convincing those who joined him of those Christian principles and testimonies which distinguish the society; and his pious labours contributed in no small degree to their establishment as an organized body, having a regular form of church government and discipline.

This devoted servant of Christ was born at Drayton, in Leicestershire, in the year 1624, and was carefully educated by his parents in the Episcopal mode of worship. He appears to have led a religious life from his childhood, and to have been deeply concerned for the salvation of his soul. Amid a high profession of religion, then generally prevalent, he observed among the people much vain and trifling conversation and conduct, as well as sordid earthly-mindedness, both which he believed to be incompatible with the Christian life. This brought great trouble upon his mind, clearly perceiving that the profession in which he had been educated did not give to its adherents that victory over sin which the gospel enjoins, and which his soul panted after. He withdrew from his former associates, and passed much of his time in retirement,-reading the holy scriptures, and endeavouring to wait upon the Lord for the revelation of his Spirit, to enable him rightly to understand the truths of the gospel.

In this state of reverent dependence upon the Fountain of saving knowledge, his mind was enlightened to see into the spirituality of the gospel dispensation, and to detect many errors which had crept into the professing Christian church. In the year 1647, he commenced his labours as a minister of the gospel, travelling extensively through England, generally on foot; and, from a conviction that it was contrary to Christ's positive command, he refused to

« ElőzőTovább »