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attendance, and be present at the hour of meeting precisely, and that whoever absents himself four meetings together, without giving satisfactory reason to the society, shall be looked upon as disaffected to it. 7. That to prevent confusion, no person be removed from the society but by the director, who shall be present on such occasion, and that any person do apply to him in cases [where] he judges such removal needful; and that a disorderly carriage, or a proud, contentious, disputing temper (the greatest bane to Christian love and peace) be sufficient ground for such complaint and removal.
N. B. By a disorderly carriage, we mean not only the commission of gross and scandalous sins, but also what are esteemed matters of little moment in the eyes of the world, such as light use of the words, Lord, God, Jesus, &c. in ordinary conversation, which we cannot but interpret [as] an evidence of the want of God's presence in the heart. The buying and selling of goods which have not paid custom. The doing needless work on the Lord's-day. The frequenting ale-houses or taverns without necessary business.
8. And considering the said consequences of vain amusements so generally practised, we do in charity to the souls of others, as well as to avoid the danger of such things to ourselves, think ourselves obliged to use particular caution, with respect to many of them, however innocent they may be, or are esteemed, to be in themselves; such as cards, dancing, clubs for entertainment, play-houses, sports at festivals and parish feasts, and as much as may be parish feasts themselves; lest by joining therein, we are a hindrance
And that no person may
to ourselves and others. remove from one place or society to another, without the consent of the director.
9. That with the concurrence of the director, the major part of the society may have power to make new orders, when need shall require it, but that the proposal for this purpose be made by the director, and that any member may consult him about it before the day of meeting.
10. That every member do esteem himself peculiarly obliged to live in an inoffensive and orderly manner, to the glory of God and the edification of his neighbours; that he study to advance in himself and others, humility and meekness, faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, love to God, gospel repentance, and new obedience, in which things Christian edification consists, and not in vain janglings. And that in all his
conversation and articles of his faith, he stick close to the plain and obvious sense of Holy Scripture, carefully avoiding all intricate niceties and refinements upon it.
11. That these orders shall be read over at least four times a year by the director, and that with such deliberation, that each member may have time to examine his own conduct by them.
Not only did Mr. Walker submit these strict rules to the society, but during the time of its meeting, he assumed that due control of the people which belongs to the minister, and prevented all improper trespass on his province, by reserving to himself the sole per
formance of the devotional exercises. For this purpose, he drew up what he called the " office of devotion," for the weekly meeting. He commenced with reading six appropriate sentences of Scripture, and the collects of our church; "prevent us, O Lord"—" blessed Lord who hath caused all Holy Scriptures," &c. "O God, forasmuch as without thee, &c." After this, the whole assembly seated themselves, and a portion of the bible was read, followed by the confession, "Almighty God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, maker of all things, judge of all men, &c." succeeded by the Lord's prayer, in which they all joined kneeling. This concluded, Mr. Walker alone offered up a prayer composed by himself. It commenced with the collect" Almighty and everlasting God who hatest nothing that thou hast made, &c." and continued in a strain of fervent supplication, for help to cultivate the graces and exhibit the conduct recommended in the rules.
They next sung a psalm, after which the director, or in his absence some person appointed by him, read an instructive treatise, which was followed by a prayer selected for the occasion. The whole assembly upon rising, stood in silent attention to hear an exhortation to humility, drawn up for the purpose by their minister. After this they sang again, and the director said, "it is very meet right, &c." adding therefore with angels and archangels, &c." in which all united. The director then concluded the meeting
9 These were Ps. lxxxix, 8; Psalm vii, 12; Proverbs xxviii, 13; 1 John ii, 1, 2; Psalm xcv,
Eccles, xii, 14; 6.
with "the grace of our Lord, &c." and all departed in order to their houses.
A meeting of serious people thus conducted, upon principles of church discipline, under the watchful eye and controlling hand of Mr. Walker, could not fail to be productive of most happy results. Their director so well knew how to combine dignity with affection, tenderness with fidelity, and superiority with meekness, that his followers were insensible to the strength of the rein by which he guided them into the paths of duty and knowledge. He was himself a bright example of the Christian virtues and acts of self-denial enjoined upon his people, and thus obtained a power to restrain or excite them, which no precepts, unaccompanied by actions, could ever have achieved. Powerful objections have frequently been urged against such associations among the serious parishioners of clergymen, and it may be fairly argued, that without able management, their tendency is to produce a greater aggregate of evil than of good. Laymen officiating in the presence of their authorized minister, and endeavouring to rival or eclipse him in prayer; women forgetting the modesty of their sex, and the propriety of their situation, in the enthusiastic utterance of feelings real or imaginary; youths put forward because of a gift, to the destruction of all humility; ignorant and illiterate persons permitted to give vent to unintelligible rhapsodies, exhibit violations of decency and order, such as it is surprising that any leader of a sect should ever have permitted, much less encouraged. That some of the most devoted champions of religion could have
looked, as undoubtedly they did, with complacency on such caricatures of its sublimities, only affords a melancholy proof of the tendency of party spirit to distort the clearest vision. Mr. Walker foresaw and obviated these objectionable results, and so arranged his regulations, that no motive but a desire to gain and do good, could well operate with those who asked to be admitted into the Truro classes.
When he wrote to the wise and excellent Mr. Adam,5 of Wintringham, on the subject, he received from him a reply, in which that judicious man inquires, "how do you manage to avoid disputes in your society? and what method have you of terminating them amicably when they do arise?" Lest, however, he should be understood as at all discouraging the laudable proposal to bind together the people of God, by the ties of a discreet union, he adds, "you will understand me right; I have not the least thought of damping the design: Heb, x, 25. I take to be fully to the purpose, and much good may be expected from it. Indeed truly religious persons will hardly be kept asunder. But upon the whole it is a delicate affair, and requires all the steadiness, prudence, and piety of an able conductor, to keep the members of it knit together in the bonds of Christian love, considering the variety of tempers and the frailty of the heart. May it answer your most sanguine expectations! May God daily add to it, and make it a blessing to the place where you are, in the pious examples, Christian lives, and brotherly
5 Vid. Christian Observer, 1802 and 1803.