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A Portraiture of Quakerism, Volume 1 by Clarkson

And answered by all the deputies


When

the first query has been thus read by the clerk, and answered by the deputies, and when observations have been made upon it, and instructions given as now described, a second query is read audibly, and the same process takes place, and similar observations are sometimes made, and instructions given.

In the same manner a third query is read by the clerk, and answered by all the deputies, and observed upon by the meeting at large; and so on a fourth, and a fifth, till all the queries, set apart for the day are answered.

It may be proper now to observe, that while the men in their own meeting-house are thus transacting the quarterly business for themselves, the women, in a different apartment or meeting-house, are conducting it also for their own sex. They read, answer, and observe upon, the queries in the same manner. When they nave settled their own business, they send one or two of their members, as they did in the case of the monthly meeting, to the apartment of the men, to know if they have any thing to communicate to them. When the business is finished in both meetings, they break up, and prepare for their respective homes.

CHAP. IV.

_Great yearly court or meeting--constitution of this meeting--one place only of meeting fixed upon for the whole kingdom--this the metropolis--deputies appointed to it from

the quarterly meetings--business transacted at this meeting--matters decided, not by the influence of numbers, but by the weight of religious character--no head or chairman of this meeting--character of this discipline or government of the Quakers--the laws, relating to it better obeyed than those under any other discipline or government--reasons of this obedience_.

In the order, in which I have hitherto mentioned the meetings for the discipline of the Quakers, we have seen them rising by regular ascent, both in importance and power. We have seen each in due progression comprizing the actions of a greater population than the foregoing, and for a greater period of time. I come now to the yearly meeting, which is possessed of a higher and wider jurisdiction than any that have been yet described. This meeting does not take cognizance of the conduct of particular or of monthly meetings, but, at one general view, of the state and conduct of the members of each quarterly meeting, in order to form a judgment of the general state of the society for the whole kingdom.

We have seen, on a former occasion, the Quakers with their several deputies repairing to different places in a county; and we have seen them lately with their deputies again repairing to one great town in the different counties at large. We are now to see them repairing to the metropolis of the kingdom.

As deputies were chosen by each monthly meeting to represent it in the quarterly meeting, so the quarterly meetings choose deputies to represent them in the yearly meeting. These deputies are commissioned to be the bearers of certain documents to London, which contain answers in writing to a [27]number of the queries mentioned in the last chapter. These answers are made up from the answers received by the several quarterly meetings from their respective monthly meetings. Besides these they are to carry with them other documents, among which are accounts of sufferings in consequence of a refusal of military service, and of the payment of the demands of the church.


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