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nities may be afforded here, of encouraging and strengthening young ministers, of confirming the old, and of giving religious advice and assistance in various ways: and it must be supposed at any rate, that religious men cannot meet in religious conference, without some edification to each other. At these meetings, queries are proposed relative to the conduct both of ministers and elders, which they answer in writing to the quarterly meetings of ministers and elders to which they belong. Of the ministers and elders thus assembled, it may be observed, that it is their duty to confine themselves wholly to the exhortation of one another for good. They can make no laws, like the ancient synods and other convocations of the clergy, nor dictate any article of faith. Neither can they meddle with the government of the church. The Quakers allow neither ministers nor elders, by virtue of their office, to interfere with their discipline. Every proposition of this sort must be determined upon by the yearly meeting, or by the body at large.
Worship Consists of prayer and preaching-Neither of these effectual but by the Spirit-Hence no liturgy or form of words, or studied sermons, in the Quaker-church-Singular manner of delivering sermons-Tone of the voice usually censured -This may arise from the difference between nature and art-Objected, that there is little variety of subject in these sermons-Variety not so necessary to Quakers-Other objections-Replies-Observations of Francis Lambert, of Avignon.
no person, in the opinion of the Quakers, can be a true minister of the gospel, unless he feel himself called or appointed by the spirit of God, so there can be no true or effectual worship, except it come through the aid of the same spirit. The public worship of God is usually made to consist of prayer and preaching.
Prayer is a solemn address of the soul to God. It is a solemn confession of some weakness, or thanksgiving for some benefit, or petition for some
favour. But the Quakers consider such an address as deprived of its life and power, except it be spiritually conceived. "For the spirit helpeth our infirmities. For we know not what we should pray for as we ought. But the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered."
Preaching, on the other hand, is an address of man to men, that their attention may be turned towards God, and their minds be prepared for the secret and heavenly touches of his spirit. But this preaching, again, cannot be effectually performed, except the spirit of God accompany it. Thus St. Paul, in speaking of himself, says, d "And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the spirit and with power, that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God." So the Quakers believe that no words, however excellent, which men may deliver now, will avail, or will produce that faith which is to stand, except they be accompanied by that power which shall demonstrate them to be of God.
From hence it appears to be the opinion of the
e Rom. 8. 26.
d 1 Cor. 2, 4.
Quakers, that the whole worship of God, whether it consist of prayer or of preaching, must be spiritual. Jesus Christ has also, they say, left this declaration upon record, that " God is a spirit, and that they that worship him, must worship him in spirit and in truth." By worshipping him in truth, they mean, that men are to worship him only when they feel a right disposition to do it, and in such a manner as they judge, from their own internal feelings, to be the manner which the spirit of God then signifies.
e John 4. 24.
For these reasons, when the Quakers enter into their meetings, they use no liturgy or form of prayer. Such a form would be made up of the words of man's wisdom. Neither do they deliver any sermons that have been previously conceived or written down. Neither do they begin their service immediately after they are seated. But when they sit down, they wait in silence, f as the Apostles were commanded to do. They endeavour to be calm and composed. They take no thought as to what they shall say. They avoid, on the other hand, all activity of the imagination, and every thing that arises from the will of man. The creature is thus brought to be passive, and the spirit
f Mat. 10. 19. Acts 1. 4.
ual faculty to be disencumbered, so that it can receive and attend to the spiritual language of the Creator. * If, during this vacation from all mental activity, no impressions should be given to them, they say nothing. If impressions should be afforded to them, but no impulse to oral delivery, they remain equally silent. But if, on the other hand, impressions are given them, with an impulse to utterance, they deliver to the congregation as faithfully as they can, the copies of the several images, which they conceive to be painted upon their minds.
This utterance, when it manifests itself, is resolvable into prayer or preaching. If the minister engages in prayer, the whole company rise up, and the men with the minister take off their hats, that is, uncover their heads. If he preaches only, they do not rise, but remain upon their seats as before, with their heads covered. The preacher, however, uncovers his own head upon this occasion.
There is something singular in the manner in
g They believe it their duty, (to speak in the Quaker language,) to maintain the watch, by preserving the imagination from being carried away by thoughts originating in man; and, in such watch, patiently to await for the arising of that life, which, by subduing the thoughts of man, produces an inward silence, and therein bestows a true sight of his condition upon him. h 1 Cor. Ch. 11.