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Extracts from
the collectivised writings of Quakers

The people called Quakers gathered together some of the minutes of their yearly meetings and, combining these with other writings, created a book of collective discipline. Because these writings retain their original date, they can be arranged as a documentary history of Quaker belief and practice.

21.1.1661 . Presented to the King upon the 21st day of the 11th Month, 1660 [Old style time]

A Declaration from the harmless and innocent people of God, called Quakers, against all plotters and fighters in the world, for the removing the ground of jealousy and suspicion from both magistrates and people in the kingdom, concerning wars and fightings. And also something in answer to that clause of the King's late proclamation which mentions the Quakers, to clear them from the plot and fighting which therein is mentioned, and for the clearing their innocency.

Our principle is, and our Practice have always been, to seek peace and ensue it and to follow after righteousness and the knowledge of God, seeking the good and welfare and doing that which tends to the peace of all. We know that wars and fightings proceed from the lusts of men (as Jas. iv. 1-3), out of which lusts the Lord hath redeemed us, and so out of the occasion of war. The occasion of which war, and war itself (wherein envious men, who are lovers of themselves more than lovers of God, lust, kill, and desire to have men's lives or estates) ariseth from the lust. All bloody principles and practices, we, as to our own particulars, do utterly deny, with all outward wars and strife and fightings with outward weapons, for any end or under any pretence whatsoever. And this is our testimony to the whole world.

And whereas it is objected:

'But although you now say that you cannot fight nor take up arms at all, yet if the spirit do move you, then you will change your principle, and then you will sell your coat and buy a sword and fight for the kingdom of Christ.'


As for this we say to you that Christ said to Peter, 'Put up thy sword in his place'; though he had said before that he that had no sword might sell his coat and buy one (to the fulfilling of the scripture), yet after, when he had bid him put it up, he said, 'He that taketh the sword shall perish with the sword.' And further, Christ said to Peter, 'Thinkest thou, that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?' And this might satisfy Peter, after he had put up his sword, when he said to him that he took it, should perish by it, which satisfieth us. (Luke xxii,36; Matt. xxvi.51- 53). And in the Revelation it's said, 'He that kills with the sword shall perish with the sword: and here is the faith and the patience of the saints.' (Rev. xiii.10). And so Christ's kingdom is not of this world, therefore do not his servants fight, as he told Pilate, the magistrate who crucified him. And did they not look upon Christ as a raiser of sedition? And did not he say, 'Forgive them'? But thus it is that we are numbered amongst fighters, that the Scriptures might be fulfilled.

That the spirit of Christ, by which we are guided, is not changeable, so as once to command us from a thing as evil and again to move unto it; and we do certainly know, and so testify to the world, that the spirit of Christ, which leads us into all Truth, will never move us to fight and war against any man with outward weapons, neither for the kingdom of Christ, nor for the kingdoms of this world.


Because the kingdom of Christ God will exalt, according to the promise, and cause it to grow and flourish in righteousness. 'Not by might, nor by power [of outward sword], but by my spirit, said the Lord.' (Zech.iv.6) SO those that use any weapon to fight for Christ, or for the establishing of his kingdom or government, both the spirit, principle and practice in that we deny.


And as for the kingdoms of this world, we cannot covet them, much less can we fight for them, but we do earnestly desire and wait, that by the Word of God's power and its effectual operation in the hearts of men, the kingdoms of this world may become the kingdoms of the Lord, and of his Christ, that he may rule and reign in men by his spirit and truth, that thereby all people, out of all different judgements and professions may be brought into love and unity with God, and one with another, and that they may all come to witness the prophet's words who said, 'Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.' (Isa.ii.4; Mic.iv.3)

So, we whom the Lord hath called into the obedience of his Truth have denied wars and fightings and cannot again any more learn it. This is a certain testimony unto all the world of the truth of our hearts in this particular, that as God persuadeth every man's heart to believe, so they may receive it. For we have not, as some others, gone about cunningly with devised fables, nor have we ever denied in practice what we have professed in principle, but in sincerity and truth and by the word of God have we laboured to be made manifest unto all men, that both we and our ways might be witnessed in the hearts of all people.

And whereas all manner of evil hath been falsely spoken of us, we hereby speak forth the plain truth of our hearts, to take away the occasion of that offence, that so we being innocent may not suffer for other men's offences, nor be made a prey upon by the wills of men for that of which we were never guilty; but in the uprightness of our hearts we may, under the power ordained of God for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of them that do well, live a peaceable and godly life in all godliness and honesty. For although we have always suffered. and do now more abundantly suffer, yet we know that it's for righteousness' sake; 'for all our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our consciences, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world' (2 Cor.i.12), which for us is a witness for the convincing of our enemies. For this we can say to the whole world, we have wronged no man's person or possessions, we have used no force nor violence against any man, we have been found in no plots, nor guilty of sedition. When we have been wronged, we have not sought to revenge ourselves, we have not made resistance against authority, but wherein we could not obey for conscience' sake, we have suffered even the most of any people in the nation. We have been accounted as sheep for the slaughter, persecuted and despised, beaten, stoned, wounded, stocked, whipped, imprisoned, haled out of synagogues, cast into dungeons and noisome vaults where many have died in bonds, shut up from our friends, denied needful sustenance for many days together, with other like cruelties.

And the cause of all this our sufferings is not for any evil, but for things relating to the worship of our God in obedience to his requirings of us. For which cause we shall freely give up our bodies a sacrifice, rather than disobey the Lord. For we know, as the Lord hath kept us innocent, so he will plead our cause, when there is none in the earth to plead it. So we, in obedience to his truth, do not love our lives unto the death, that we may do his will, and wrong no man in our generation, but seek the good and peace of all men. And he that hath commanded us that we shall not swear at all (Matt. v.34), hath also commanded us that we shall not kill (Matt. v.21), so that we can neither kill men, nor swear for or against them. And this is both our principle and practice, and hath been from the beginning, so that if we suffer, as suspected to take up arms or make war against any, it is without ground from us; for it neither is, nor ever was in our hearts, since we owned the truth of God; neither shall we ever do it, because it is contrary to the spirit of Christ, his doctrine, and the practice of his apostles, even contrary to him for whom we suffer all things, and endure all things.

And whereas men come against us with clubs, staves, drawn swords, pistols cocked, and do beat, cut, and abuse us, yet we never resisted them, but to them our hair, backs and cheeks have been ready. It is not an honour to manhood nor to nobility to run upon harmless people who lift not up a hand against them, with arms and weapons.

Therefore consider these things ye men of understanding; for plotters, raisers of insurrections, tumultuous ones, and fighters, running with swords, clubs, staves and pistols one against another, we say, these are of the world and hath its foundation from this unrighteous world, from the foundation of which the Lamb hath been slain, which Lamb hath redeemed us from the unrighteous world, and we are not of it, but are heirs of a world in which there is no end and of a kingdom where no corruptible thing enters. And our weapons are spiritual and not carnal, yet mighty through God to the plucking down of the strongholds of Satan, who is author of wars, fighting, murder, and plots. And our swords are broken until ploughshares and spears into pruning; hooks, as prophesied of in Micah iv. Therefore we cannot learn war any more, neither rise up against nation or kingdom with outward weapons, though you have numbered us among the transgressors and plotters. The Lord knows our innocency herein, and will plead our cause with all men and people upon earth at the day of their judgement, when all men shall have a reward according to their works ...

O friends offend not the Lord and his little ones, neither afflict his people, but consider and be moderate, and do not run hastily into things, but mind and consider mercy, justice, and judgement; that is the way for you to prosper and get the favour of the Lord. Our meetings were stopped and broken up in the days of Oliver, in pretence of plotting against him; and in the days of the Parliament and Committee of Safety we were looked upon as plotters to bring in King Charles, and now we are called plotters against King Charles. Oh, that men should lose their reason and go contrary to their own conscience, knowing that we have suffered all things and have been accounted plotters all along, though we have declared against them both by word of mouth and printing, and are clear from any such things. We have suffered all along because we would not take up carnal weapons to fight withal against any, and are thus made a prey upon because we are the innocent lambs of Christ and cannot avenge ourselves. These things are left upon your hearts to consider, but we are out of all those things in the patience of the saints, and we know that as Christ said, 'He that takes the sword, shall perish with the sword.' (Matt. xxvi.52; Rev.xiii.10)

This is given forth from the people called Quakers to satisfy the King and his Council, and all those that have any jealousy concerning us, that all occasion of suspicion may be taken away and our innocency cleared.

Given forth under our names, and in behalf of the whole body of the Elect People of God who are called Quakers.
George Fox Gerald Roberts Henry Fell
Richard Hubberthorn John Boulton John Hinde
John Stubbs Leonard Fell John Furley Jnr.
Francis Howgill Samuel Fisher Thomas Moore

Postscript: Though we are numbered with plotters in this late Proclamation and put in the midst of them and numbered amongst transgressors and have been given up to all rude, merciless men, by which our meetings are broken up, in which we edified one another in our holy faith and prayed together to the Lord that lives for ever, yet he is our pleader for us in this day. The Lord saith, 'They that feared his name spoke often together', as in Malachi, which were as his jewels. And for this cause and no evil doing, are we cast into holes, dungeons, houses of correction, prisons, they sparing neither old nor young, men or women, and just sold to all nations and made a prey to all nations under pretence of being plotters, so that all rude people run upon us to take possession. For which we say, 'The Lord forgive them that have thus done to us,' who doth and will enable us to suffer. And never shall we lift up a hand against any man that doth thus use us, but that the Lord may have mercy upon them, that they may consider what they have done. For how is it hardly possible for them to require us for the wrong they have done to us, who to all nations have sounded us abroad as plotters? We who were never found plotters against any power or man upon the earth since we knew the life and power of Jesus Christ manifested in us, who hath redeemed us from the world, and all works of darkness, and plotters that be in it, by which we know our election before the world began. So we say the Lord have mercy upon our enemies and forgive them, for that they have done unto us.

Oh, do as you would be done by. And do unto all men as you would have them do unto you, for this is but the law and the prophets.

And all plots, insurrections, and riotous meetings we do deny, knowing them to be of the devil, the murderer, which we in Christ, which was before they were, triumph over. And all wars and fightings with carnal weapons we do deny, who have the sword and the spirit; and all that wrong us we leave them to the Lord. And this is to clear our innocency from that aspersion cast upon us, that we are plotters.

1671 to 1673 America

An epistle from the Quakers to the Governor of Barbados, 1671, re-published in the First Edition of George Fox's Journal in 1694

We do own and believe in God, the only wise, omnipotent, and everlasting God, who is the Creator of all things both in heaven and in the earth, and the Preserver of all that He has made; who is God over all, blessed for ever; to whom be all.honour and glory, dominion, praise and thanks giving, both now and for evermore!

And we do own and believe in Jesus Christ his beloved and only begotten SON, in whom He is well pleased; who was conceived by the Holy Ghost and born of the Virgin Mary; in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins; who is the express image of the invisible God, the first-born of every creature, by whom were all things created that are in heaven and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers; all things were created by Him,

And we do own and believe that He was made a sacrifice for sin, who knew no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth; and that He was crucified for us in the flesh, without the gates of Jerusalem; and that He was buried, and rose again the third day by the power of his Father, for our justification; and we do believe that He ascended up into heaven, and now sitteth at the right hand of God.

This Jesus, who was the foundation of the holy prophets and apostles, is our foundation; and we do believe that there is no other foundation to be laid but that which is laid, even Christ Jesus; who, we. believe, tasted death for every man, and shed his blood for all men, and is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world : according as John the Baptist testified of Him, when he said,

"Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sins of the world" (John i. 29)

We believe that He alone is our Redeemer and Saviour, even the Captain of our salvation (who saves us from sin, as well as from hell and the wrath to come, and destroys the devil and his works); who is the Seed of the woman that bruises the serpent's head, to wit, Christ Jesus, the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last. That He is (as the Scriptures of truth say of Him) our wisdom and righteousness, justification and redemption; neither is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men, whereby we may be saved.

It is He alone who is the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls : He it is who is our Prophet, whom Moses long since testified of, saying,

"A Prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me ; Him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever He shall say unto you : and it shall come to pass, that every soul that will not hear that Prophet shall be destroyed from among the people" (Acts iii. 22, 23).

He it is that is now come,

"and hath given us an understanding, that we may know Him that is true."

And He rules in our hearts by his law of love and of life, and makes us free from the law of sin and death. And we have no life but by Him; for He is the quickening Spirit, the second Adam, the Lord from heaven, by whose blood we are cleansed, and our consciences sprinkled from dead works to serve the living God.

And He is our Mediator, that 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.

Now this Lord Jesus Christ, the heavenly man, the Emmanuel, God with us, we all own and believe in; Him whom the high-priest raged against, and said He had spoken blasphemy; whom the priests and the elders of the Jews took counsel together against, and put to death; the same whom Judas betrayed for thirty pieces of silver, which the priests gave him as a reward for his treason, who also gave large money to the soldiers to broach an horrible lie - namely, that his disciples came and stole Him away by night whilst they slept.

And after He was risen from the dead, the history of the Acts of the Apostles sets forth how the chief priests and elders persecuted the disciples of this Jesus for preaching Christ and his resurrection. This, we say, is that Lord Jesus Christ, whom we own to be our life and salvation.

And as concerning the Holy Scriptures, we do believe that they were given forth by the Holy Spirit of God, through the holy men of God, who (as the Scripture itself declares, 2 Peter i. 21)

"spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost."

We believe they are to be read, believed, and fulfilled (he that fulfils them is Christ); and they are

" profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works" (2 Tim. in. 16, 17) ;

and are able to make wise

" unto salvation, through faith in Christ Jesus."

We call the Holy Scriptures - as Christ and the apostles called them, and holy men of God called them - the words of God.

We do declare, that we do esteem it a duty incumbent on us to pray with and for, to teach, instruct and admonish, those in and belonging to our families; this being a command of the Lord, the disobedience whereunto will provoke the Lord's displeasure.

Now Negroes and Indians make up a very great part of the families in this island, for whom an account will be required by Him who comes to judge both quick and dead, at the great day of judgment when every one shall be rewarded according to the deeds done in the body, whether they be good or whether be evil, - at that day, I say, of the resurrection both the good and of the bad, of the just and the unjust,

"when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; when He shall come to be glorified in his saints and admired in all them that believe in that day." (2 Thess i 7-10. See also 2 Peter iii. 3, etc.)

21.4.1676: Action against Quakers
Whereas of late, many negroes have been suffered to remain at the meetings of the Quakers, as hearers of their doctrine, and taught in their principles, whereby safety of the island may be much hazarded: be it enacted, that if at any time after publication hereof, any negro, or negroes, be found wit 'the people called Quakers, at any of their meetings, as hearers of their preaching, he or they shall be forfeited, one half to such as shall seize, or sue for him or them, if belonging to any of the Quakers, and the other moiety to the public use of the island; provided that it' he or they be seized, such as seize, shall bring their actions upon this statute, within three months, against owner of the negro, or negroes: wherein the defendant having ten days summons, shall appear, plead, and come to trial at the first court after summons, or judgment to be given by nihil dicit, and execution immediately to issue. And if such negro, or negroes, do not belong to any of the persons present at the same meeting, any person or persons may bring an action upon this statute, against any of the persons present at the said meeting, at the election of the informer-, and so recover ten pounds for every negro, or negroes, present at the said meeting as aforesaid, to be divided as aforesaid, and in such actions proceedings to be as aforesaid. And no person whatsoever, shall keep any school, to instruct any child in any learning, unless within one month after the publication hereof, he first take the oaths of allegiance and supremacy, before some justice of peace of the parish where the party lives, and have a certificate thereof, or have a special license from the governor on pain of three months imprisonment, and forfeiture of 300 lbs. of Muscovado sugar, the one moiety to the informer, and the other to the public use of the island, to be recovered as aforesaid. And no person whatsoever, who is not an inhabitant and resident of this island, and hath been so for twelve months together, shall hereafter publicly discourse, or preach at the meeting of the Quakers, on pain of six months imprisonment, and forfeiture of 1000 lbs. Muscovado sugar, the one moiety to such as sue for it, the other to the public use of the island, to be recovered as aforesaid: provided that all actions upon this statute, be brought within six months after the offence.

Read, and passed the council the 21st of April, 1676, and consented to by his excellency [the governor] the same day.

EDWARD STEED, Deputy secretary.

Most of the following extracts are from the 1834 Rules of Discipline

Quaker women

1673 This extract from George Fox's diary for 1673 was quoted in Church Government (at least until 1931) to explain the division of the collective Quaker body into men's and women's meetings:

"Faithful women, who were called to a belief of the Truth, and made partakers of the same precious faith and heirs of the same everlasting Gospel of life and salvation that the men are, might in like manner come into the possession and practice of the Gospel order, and therein be meet-helps unto the men in the restoration, in the service of Truth, in the affairs in the Church, as they are outwardly in civil or temporal things. That so all the family of God, women as well as men, might know, possess, perform and discharge their offices and services in the house of God ; whereby the poor might be better taken care of, the younger instructed, informed, and taught in the way of God ; the loose and disorderly reproved and admonished in the fear of the Lord; the clearness of persons proposing marriage more closely and strictly inquired into in the wisdom of God; and all the members of the spiritual body, the Church, might watch over and be helpful to each other in love."

Monthly and Quarterly Meetings of Women Friends were extensively organized in the later years of the seventeenth century.

1675: It is our judgment and testimony that the rise and practice, setting up and establishment of Men's and Women's Meetings in the Church of Christ in this our generation is according to the mind and counsel of God, and done in the ordering and leading of his eternal Spirit; and that it is the duty of all Friends and brethren in the power of God, in all parts, to be diligent therein, and to encourage and further each other in that blessed work.

1691: It is our Christian advice that you do encourage faithful Women's Meetings, and the settling of them where they are wanting, and may with convenience be settled; knowing their service, and what need there is also of their godly care in the Church of Christ, in divers weighty respects proper to them.

In 1784, a representative Women's Yearly Meeting was established, with power to communicate directly with the subordinate Women's Meetings in this country, and to correspond with Women's Yearly Meetings in foreign parts.

1784 1790: The several Quarterly Meetings of women Friends are at liberty to appoint two or more of their members and Duties to meet in London, at the time of holding this Meeting; nevertheless, so that the number from any Women's Meeting do not exceed that of the representatives allowed to be appointed by the Men's Meeting for the same district. The Meeting so appointed shall be denominated the Yearly Meeting of Women Friends held in London.

This Meeting agrees that the said Meeting be at liberty to correspond in writing with the Quarterly Meetings of women Friends, to receive accounts from them, and to issue such advice as, in the wisdom of truth, may from time to time appear necessary and conducive to their mutual edification ; but it is not at liberty to make or alter any Rules of Discipline or Queries.

1792. 1801. 1802. 1822. 1861. 1875. 1883:

On considering the nature and extent of the discipline committed to women Friends, it is our judgment that its nature is to come up to the help of their brethren in the discipline of the Church.

As to its extent:-

(a). They are to inspect and, in their discretion, to relieve the wants of the poor of their own sex ; and to apply to the Men's Meeting for its concurrence, and for the means, as each case shall require.

(b). They are to join in certificates of removal for women Friends, and to make appointments to visit women Friends removed into the compass of the Monthly Meeting, conformably to the rules on that subject.

(c). They are, at the desire of the Men's Monthly Meeting, to make appointments to visit or join the men in visiting such women as apply for admission or reinstatement into membership.

(d). They are to assist the Men's Monthly Meeting in dealing with cases of delinquency of women Friends, conformably to the rules on that subject.

(e). The several Women's Quarterly and Monthly Meetings should annually, in the Spring, send to their Yearly Meeting or Quarterly Meeting respectively answers to the first parts of the 2nd and 10th Queries, conformably to the rules on that subject.

1865: Women's Meetings for Discipline are encouraged occasionally to enter upon the consideration of what may be due from them to the members and attenders of Meetings for Worship of their own sex; so that, if way should open, an appointment may be made to visit all, or any of these, under feelings of Christian sympathy; and that, when it can suitably be done, some of our younger Friends may be united in the service. The making of such appointments should, however, be reported to the Men's Meeting.

Women Friends are encouraged occasionally to read, in their Meetings for Discipline, passages from this volume, and from the printed " Extracts from the Proceedings of the Yearly Meeting."

We feel an earnest desire that our Women's Meetings may be maintained with life and efficiency, as we believe that they have exercised a very important influence on the female character within our own body, and, indirectly, beyond our borders.

In 1896, London Yearly Meeting affirmed the position that, "in future, women Friends are to be recognized as forming a constituent part of all our Meetings for Church Affairs equally with their brethren ".

In 1908 the Yearly Meeting, recognizing that the decisions come to in 1896 had resulted in the practical union of men and women Friends in Yearly Meeting considerations, decided that in future all sittings of the Yearly Meeting should be joint sessions, unless the Yearly Meeting should, on any particular occasion, otherwise determine. These recent decisions have in practice almost abolished separate Women's Meetings for Church Affairs. (Church Government 1931)

1717 [1834 Margin Grave Stones:] ... friends in some places have gone into the vain custom of erecting monuments over the dead bodies of friends, by stones, inscriptions, etc, it is therefore the advice of this meeting, that all such monuments should be removed, as much as may be with discretion and conveniency; and that none be any where made or set up, near or over, the dead bodies of friends or others, in friends' burying places for time to come

1766 [1834 Margin Grave Stones:] ... since the advice formerly issues, in order to excite friends to a proper regard for our testimony against grave stones, divers have accordingly been removed; and being desirous that the revival of this concern may be effectual, we earnestly recommend the removal of them becoming general

1663 Use of disown in the trial of Francis Howgill [bold added] from Besse (1753), Sufferings, volume 2. page 12. Although arrested in 1663, this hearing may be the Lent Assize of 1664.

Francis Howgill: Notwithstanding here has been diligent enquiry made by the Grand Jury concerning this plot, what have you found against the Quakers?

Justice Musgrave: There was one Reginald Fawcett, a Quaker, that is run away, that was an intellgencer from the County of Durham.

Francis Howgill: "Reginald Fawcett has been disowned by us these six years, nor do I believe he hath pretended to come among us these two years: And if perhaps any reputed by you to be Quakers, should be found offenders in this nature, I believe they would testify to you against themselves, that the body of our friends and meetings every where did disown them. It is therefore unkind to represent us hardly to the Country. God is with us and hath kept us from evils and temptations of this nature, of plotting and fighting, notwithstanding all the provocations and sufferings we have passed through.

1743: [1834 Margin Exercise of the discipline in cases of delinquency:] In the love of Christ, we earnestly exhort you to watch diligently over the flock, and deal in due time, and in a spirit of Christian love and tenderness, with all such as walk disorderly amongst you, in order to reclaim and restore them by brotherly counsel and admonition; and when, after patient waiting, you find that your Christian labour of love hath not its desired effect, neglect not to testify against and disown such persons, and thereby prevent the reproach and dishonour that may be brought upon our holy profession through their means; that the design of our wholesome discipline may be answered...

1806 Thomas Clarkson says in his Portrait of Quakerism "Should, however, all endeavours prove ineffectual, and should the committee, after having duly laboured with the offender, consider him at last as incorrigible, they report their proceedings to the monthly meeting. He is then publicly excluded from membership, or, as it is called, (s) disowned. This is done by a dis tinct document, called a testimony of disownment, in which the nature of the offence, and the means that have been used to reclaim him, are described. A wish is also generally expressed in this document, that he may repent, and be taken into membership again. A copy of this minute is always required to be given to him."

1782 - 1801 - 1833: [1834 Margin Course of proceeding:] When any of our members commits an offence, and after due private labour it has been communicated to the monthly meeting, that meeting shall appoint some well qualified friends to visit the offending member, and in christian love to inquire carefully into the matter, and labour for the restoration of the brother or sister who may have been overtaken in a fault. The friends appointed are to report as early as convenient to the monthly meeting...

Information of disownments, is to be sent to the women's monthly meeting; and also to the preparative meeting (if there be one) to which the disowned person belonged; and in all cases a copy is to be delivered to the person disowned, if access can be had to him.

1782 - 1801 - 1833: [1834 Margin Readmission of members:] Should any person having been disowned, coming to a just sense of his misconduct, be desirous of readmission into the society, he is to apply to the monthly meeting which disowned him; which, if it think proper, is to visit him or to apply to the meeting wherein he resides, to do it and make report. The meeting which disowned him is then to proceed to accept or reject his acknowledgement, as it may see meet: and, if readmitted, he is to become a member in the meeting to which he formerly belonged. The same course is to be pursued in the case of a friend who may have resigned his membership, and apply for readmission into the society.

Social process: see extrude in the Social Science Dictionary.

Position (Britain) since 1995

5th edition 10.12.2013

Termination [of membership] by the area meeting

11.30: Area meetings may take the initiative in terminating membership in cases where:
11.30c: the conduct or publicly expressed opinions of the member are so much at variance with the principles of the Society that the spiritual bond has been broken.

11.31: ... area meetings are therefore urged to see that clear and workable arrangements exist whereby local overseers can bring a few judicious Friends from elsewhere in the area meeting into consultation at an early stage in any membership matter that is likely to prove difficult.

11.32: If any Friend, by conduct or publicly expressed views, appears to be denying the Society's beliefs and principles or bringing it into disrepute, and private counsel has proved of no avail, the area meeting shall appoint well-qualified Friends to attempt to restore unity. If it appears that advice and counsel are, and are likely to continue to be, without their desired effect, the area meeting may record a minute of disunity with the action of that Friend and, in exceptional circumstances, terminate membership.


Area meetings should not normally terminate membership under 11.30 ... c until after a visit. An official letter inviting the Friend to reply should be issued by direction of the area meeting, signed by the clerk and sent to the Friend concerned before a decision to terminate membership under ... c is reached. On the actual termination of membership the area meeting clerk should immediately inform the Friend or Friends concerned, drawing their attention to the right of appeal should they feel aggrieved by the decision of the area meeting (see 4.25).

Chapter 4

Area meetings
Right of appeal against decisions

If a member is dissatisfied with a final decision of an area meeting affecting her or him (e.g. if membership has been terminated) and feels that the area meeting has acted unjustly, unreasonably, with insufficient knowledge or not in right ordering, the member may appeal in writing to the area meeting clerk. The nature of the appeal and name of the appellant should be kept confidential as far as is possible or is desired by the appellant. The area meeting shall then appoint a small group of disinterested Friends to try to settle the matter (see 4.23). If this fails, the area meeting shall then ask a neighbouring area meeting or meetings to appoint a small group of disinterested elders, or one drawn from those exercising eldership, to act as an appeal group. The appeal group should meet with the appellant and representatives of the respondent area meeting and issue a judgement to that area meeting, as far as possible without breaking the confidentiality of the parties. The area meeting should accept the judgement of the appeal group, at which stage the decision should become as public as is needed for the matter to be acted upon.

If the appellant remains dissatisfied with the decision of the appeal group, he or she may then appeal to Meeting for Sufferings against the decision of the area meeting. On receiving such an appeal, the clerk of Meeting for Sufferings shall report this to the area meeting and shall request Meeting for Sufferings to appoint an appeal group of five Friends, who should be independent of the area meeting concerned, to make all such enquiries as seem to them desirable, from the member concerned and from others having relevant knowledge, to consider and determine whether or not the appeal should be allowed and whether any further recommendations should be made. In conducting such enquiries the healing power of worship will be helpful. The decision of the Friends so appointed shall be final and be communicated directly to the parties concerned. The appeal group shall inform Meeting for Sufferings that they have reached a decision and communicated it to the parties concerned, and Meeting for Sufferings shall record this in its minutes without breaking the confidentiality of the parties concerned. Guidelines for the conduct of an appeal group are obtainable from the Recording Clerk. (offline)

1766: "To all masters and tutors of children, we affectionately address ourselves; that in a particular manner it may be your care to caution, and as much as in you lies to guard, the youth committed to your charge, against the dangers and allurements of evil communications, and the reading of profane and immoral writings, (those powerful engines of Satan), whether they be such as directly tend to defile the affections, or, with a more specious appearance, to subvert the doctrines of Christianity, by a presumptious abuse of human reason, and by vain and subtle disputations, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ"

1769: "There having been, for many years past, a great circulation of vain, idle, and irreligious books and pamphlets, tending to lead the mind away from sober and serious duty, to infect the inexperienced and unwary with notions which promote infidelity and corruption, and to alienate their attention from the Spirit of God, under whose influence and holy keeping alone is safety; we earnestly request that parents, and all others who have youth under their tuition, will keep a constant eye over them..."

1777: Marriage being a divine ordinance... it was primarily ordained... for the mutual assistance and comfort of both sexes, that they might be meet-helps to each other, both in spirituals and temporals, and that their endeavours might be united for the pious and proper education of their children, in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, and for suitably qualifying them to discharge their duty in the various allotments in the world.

Marriage implies union and concurrence, as well in spiritual as in temporal concerns. Whilst the parties differ in religion, they stand disunited in the main point; even that which should increase and confirm their mutual happiness, and render them meet-helps and blessings to each other.

To prevent falling into these disagreeable and disorderly engagements, it is requisite to beware of the paths that lead to them - the sordid interests, and ensnaring friendships of the world. the contaminating pleasures and idle pastimes of earthly minds; also the various solicitations and incentives to festivity and dissipation; likewise especially to avoid too frequent and too familiar converse with those from whom may arise a danger of entanglement, by their alluring the passions, and drawing the affections after them.

For want of watchfulness, and obedience to the convictions of divine grace in their consciences, many amongst us, as well as others, have wounded their own souls, distressed their friends, injured their families, and done great service to the church, by these unequal connexions; which have proved an inlet to too much degeneracy, and mournfully affected the minds of those who labour under a living concern for the good of all, and the prosperity of Truth upon earth.

1789: "We earnestly recommend to all, the frequent perusal of the Holy Scripture, according to repeated exhortations; and we at this time also recommend the writings of our faithful predecessors.."

1795: A concern has been spread amongst us, that the management of our Christian discipline be not committed to hands unclean; particularly that such should not be active therein, who allow, or connive at, undue liberties in their own children or families. "if a man," said the apostle, "know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?"...

"The following extract from their Yearly Epistle for 1815, will be read with unqualified pleasure". (History of the Origin and First Ten Years of the British and Foreign Bible Society by Reverend John Owen 1816)

"It has afforded us much satisfaction to believe, that the Christian practice of daily reading in families a portion of Holy Scripture, with a subsequent pause for retirement and reflection, is increasing among us. We conceive that it is both the duty and the interest of those who believe in the doctrines of the Gospel, and who possess the invaluable treasure of the sacred Records, frequently to recur to them for instruction and consolation. We are desirous that this wholesome domestic regulation may be adopted every where. Heads of families, who have themselves experienced the benefit of religious instruction, will do well to consider whether, in this respect, they have not a duty to discharge to their servants and others of their household. Parents, looking sincerely for help to Him of whom these Scriptures testify, may not unfrequently, on such occasions, feel themselves enabled and engaged to open to the minds of their interesting charge, the great truths of Christian duty and Christian redemption."

1818: [1834 Margin Counsel as the engaging in works of public benevolence:] A benevolent desire to promote the Lord's work in the earth, and to serve their fellow men, may have imperceptibly led some from a close and frequent examination of the state of their own hearts. In mixing in public companies, and in witnessing the success of the efforts that are used to promote the common good, our own minds may be gratified, but our quick perception of spiritual instruction may be weakened. Far be it from this meeting to discourage its members from sharing in...the universal dispersion of the sacred volume... the moral and religious instruction of the poor in this and other countries... [But] be especially careful, that you exertions for the good of others are adorned and enforced by humility...


[1834 Margin Fictitious paper-credit Among the evils of later times has been the practice of individuals trading beyond their capital, and that of carrying on their business by means of fictitious credit; practices very dangerous in their effects, and utterly inconsistent with Christian moderation and contentment.

[1834 Margin Friends to inspect their affairs frequently We entreat friends frequently to inspect the state of their affairs, and not to delay the performance of this duty, either from an appearance that things are going well, or from fear to know how their accounts really stand. It is a practice which can be injurious to no one; but it has very frequently been seen, that had it been timely and regularly resorted to, it would in all probability have prevented grievous suffering. Those who hold the property of others, and this may be said to be the case more of less with most who are engaged in trade, are not warranted, on the principles of justice, in neglecting to inform themselves from time to time of the real situation of their affairs...

We know that the experience and sufferings of the past year in this nation, have furnished many useful lessons to those who have escaped the troubles of which others have partaken; and we desire that these lessons may not be without their practical good effect. They should teach us not to entrust to uncertain riches; and they should be a warning to parents to be careful how they enlarge their domestic establishments, and not to hold out to their children expectations of ease and abundance, nor to train them up in habits of delicacy and indulgence...

1828 Joseph Fry's bank crashes. He was disowned.


1. In order to bring the following important Advices before all the members of our religious Society, and before those not in membership who attend our Meetings for Worship, it is concluded that they be read after the close of a First-day morning Meeting for Worship, once in the year. They are also to be read in the Winter Quarterly Meetings for Discipline; and in Monthly Meetings either consecutively, or in such portions as well as at such times, as may be deemed most desirable. They are to be read in the Women's as well as in the Men's Meetings for Discipline. 1861. 1875.


Take heed, dear Friends, we entreat you, to the convictions of the Holy Spirit, who leads, through unfeigned repentance, and living faith in the Son of God, to reconciliation with our Heavenly Father; and to the blessed hope of eternal life, purchased for us by the one offering of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Be earnestly concerned in religious meetings reverently to present yourselves before the Lord; and seek, by the help of the Holy Spirit, to worship God through Jesus Christ. Prize the privilege of access by Him unto the Father. Continue instant in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving.

Be in the frequent practice of waiting upon the Lord in private retirement; honestly examining yourselves as to your growth in grace, and your preparation for the life to come.

Be diligent in the private perusal of the Holy Scriptures ; and let the daily reading of them in your families be devoutly conducted.

Be careful to make a profitable and religious use of those portions of time on the first day of the week which are not occupied by our Meetings for Worship.

Live in love as Christian brethren, ready to be helpful one to another, and sympathizing with each other in the trials and afflictions of life. Watch over one another for good, manifesting an earnest desire that each may possess a well-grounded hope in Christ.

Follow peace with all men, desiring the true happiness of all: be kind and liberal to the poor, and endeavour to promote the temporal, moral, and religious well-being of your fellow-men.

With a tender conscience, in accordance with the precepts of the Gospel, take heed to the limitations of the Spirit of Truth in the pursuit of the things of this life.

Maintain strict integrity in your transactions in trade, and in all your outward concerns. Guard against the spirit of speculation, and the snare of accumulating wealth. Remember that we must account for the mode of acquiring, as well as for the manner of using, and finally disposing of our possessions.

Observe simplicity and moderation in your deportment and attire, in the furniture of your houses, and in your style and manner of living. Carefully maintain in your own conduct, and encourage in your families, truthfulness and sincerity; and avoid worldliness in all its forms.

Guard watchfully against the introduction into your households of publications of a hurtful tendency; and against such companionships, indulgences and recreations, whether for yourselves or your children, as may in any wise interfere with a growth in grace.

Let the poor of this world remember that it is our Heavenly Father's will that all his children should be rich in faith. Let your lights shine in lives of honest industry and patient love. Do your utmost to maintain yourselves and your families in an honour­able independence, and, by prudent care in time of health, to provide for sickness and old age, holding fast by the promise, " I will never leave thee nor forsake thee."

Whatever be your position in life, avoid such sports and places of diversion as are frivolous or demoralizing; all kinds of gaming; the needless frequenting of taverns and other public-houses, and the unnecessary use of intoxicating liquors.

In contemplating the engagement of marriage, look principally to that which will help you on your heavenward journey. Pay filial regard to the judgment of your parents. Bear in mind the vast importance, in such a union, of an accordance in religious principles and practice. Ask counsel of God; desiring, above all temporal considerations, that your union may be owned and blessed of Him.

Watch with Christian tenderness over the opening minds of your children: inure them to habits of self-restraint and filial obedience; carefully instruct them in the knowledge of the Holy Scriptures; and seek for ability to imbue their hearts with the love of their Heavenly Father, their Redeemer, and their Sanctifier.

Finally, dear Friends, let your whole conduct and conversation be such as become the Gospel. Exercise yourselves to have always a conscience void of offence toward God and toward men. Be steadfast and faithful in your allegiance and service to your Lord; continue in his love; endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of Peace.

1791. 1801. 1833. 1860. 1861. 1875. 1883.

The books of Quaker discipline

1738: Christian and brotherly advices given forth from time by the Yearly meeting in London, alphabetically digested under proper heads Manuscript volumes made available to clerks of Quarterly and Monthly meetings.

1782 Extracts from the minutes and advices of the yearly meeting of Friends held in London from its first institution. (First printed version) 1782 is the date agreed by Yearly Meeting. Date on Preface from Meeting for Sufferings is 24.1.1783.

1802 Second edition

1834 Rules of Discipline of the Religious Society of Friends, with Advices: being extracts from the minutes and epistles of their yearly meeting, held in London, from its first institution. Third edition. London: Darton and Harvey, Gracechurch Street. Besides substantial alterations in the counsel on practice and government, a long introduction "On the origin and establishment of our Christian discipline" was written for the occasion by Samuel Tuke... For the first time extracts from the epistle written by George Fox and others to the Governor of Barbados, and other extracts relating to Christian doctrine were added (at the front of the book).

1861 Grouping of chapters into three parts: Christian doctrine, Christian practice and Church government.

1883 Book of Christian Discipline of the Society of Friends in Great Britain. Samuel Harris and co. The Christian Doctrine section of this edition is substantially expanded on 1834.

1883 was the last revision as a whole and issue in one volume until 1994. The three parts were revised separately, and issued as three separate volumes, until 1960. In 1960 two of the parts were combined.

1911 Revised part on Christian Practice issued as a separate volume. This had been "carefully revised in the four years preceding 1911"

1922 Christian Life Faith and Thought: Being the first part of the Book of Christian Discipline of the Religious Society of Friends in Great Britain. This followed from a representative conference called following Yearly Meeting in 1919 to consider revising the "Christian Doctrine" part. It broke almost completely from the idea of doctrine, replacing it by the idea of experience. Apart from a few pages of "General Doctrinal Statements" in the centre, the book is a selection of extracts from writings of Quakers. The opening quotation is taken from "Postscript to the Letter from the Meeting of Elders at Balby, near Doncaster, 1656" which it says is "the earliest advice on Christian practice issued by any General body of Friends."

"Dearly beloved Friends, these things we do not lay upon you as a rule or form to walk by, but that all, with the measure of light that is pure and holy, may be guided: and so in the light walking and abiding, these may be fulfilled in the Spirit, not in the letter, for the letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life."

1925 Christian Practice: Being the Second Part of The Book of Christian Discipline of the Religious Society of Friends in Great Britain.

1931 Church Government: Being the Third Part of Christian Discipline in the Religious Society of Friends in Great Britain.

From 1960 Christian doctrine and Christian practice printed as one volume

1960 Christian Faith and Practice in the Experience of the Society of Friends. This book together with Church Government forms the Book of Christian Discipline of London Yearly Meeting of the Society of Friends.

1968 (Reprinted with subsequent amendments 1980) Church Government.

1980: [AandV]

1994 Yearly Meeting 1994 Documents in Advance. 3 volumes, volumes 2 and 3 being volumes 1+2 of the draft revision of the Book of Discipline, which would include all of it for the first time since the 1883 revision.

1995 Quaker Faith and Practice: the book of Christian discipline of the yearly meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in Britain available online at http://quakersfp.live.poptech.coop/qfp/index.html - archive of third edition: "text approved 1994 with revision to May 2004"

Online current (5th) edition of Quaker faith and practice: the book of Christian discipline of the Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in Britain - 10.12.2013)

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Advices 1883

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Family 1671: Negroes and Indians part of - 1673: family of God, women as well as men - Advices 1883

Negroes and Indians

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