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offendeth against the common order of the Church, and woundeth the consciences of weak brethren.
Every particular Church may ordain, change, or abolish, rites and ceremonies, so that all things may be done to edification.
XXIII. Of the Rulers of the United States of America.
The president, the congress, the general assemblies, the governors, and the councils of state, as the delegates of the people, are the rulers of the United States of America, according to the division of power made to them by the constitution of the United States, and by the constitutions of their respective states. And the said states are a sovereign and independent nation, and ought not to be subject to any foreign jurisdiction.*
XXIV. Of Christian Men's Goods.
The riches and goods of Christians are not common, as touching the right, title, and possession of the same, as some do falsely boast. Notwithstanding, every man ought,
* As far as it respects civil affairs, we believe it the duty of Christians, and especially all Christian ministers, to be subject to the supreme authority of the country where they may reside, and to use all laudable means to enjoin obedience to the powers that be; and therefore it is expected that all our preachers and people, who may be under the British, or any other government, will behave themselves as peaceable and orderly subjects.
of such things as he possesseth, liberally to give alms to the poor, according to his ability.
XXV. Of a Christian Man's Oath.
As we confess that vain and rash swearing is forbidden Christian men by our Lord Jesus Christ and James his apostle; so we judge that the Christian religion doth not prohibit, but that a man may swear when the magistrate requireth, in a cause of faith and charity, so it be done according to the prophet's teaching, in justice, judgment, and truth.
GENERAL RULES, AND RECEPTION OF MEMBERS.
The Nature, Design, and General Rules of our United Societies.
(1) IN the latter end of the year 1739, eight or ten persons came to Mr. Wesley in London, who appeared to be deeply convinced of sin, and earnestly groaning for redemption. They desired (as did two or three more the next day) that he would spend some time with them in prayer, and advise them how to flee from the wrath to come; which they saw continually hanging
over their heads. That he might have more time for this great work, he appointed a day when they might all come together; which from thenceforward they did every week, namely, on Thursday, in the evening. To these, and as many more as desired to join with them, (for their number increased daily,) he gave those advices from time to time which he judged most needful for them; and they always concluded their meeting with prayer suited to their several necessities.
(2) This was the rise of the UNITED SOCIETY, first in Europe, and then in America. Such a society is no other than "a company of men having the form and seeking the power of godliness, united in order to pray together, to receive the word of exhortation, and to watch over one another in love, that they may help each other to work out their salvation."
(3) That it may the more easily be discerned whether they are indeed working out their own salvation, each society is divided into smaller companies, called classes, according to their respective places of abode. There are about twelve persons in a class; one of whom is styled the leader. It is his duty,
I. To see each person in his class once a week at least; in order,
1. To inquire how their soul's prosper. 2. To advise, reprove, comfort, or exhort, as occasion may require.
3. To receive what they are willing to
give toward the relief of the preachers, church, and poor.*
II. To meet the ministers and the stewards of the society once a week; in order, 1. To inform the minister of any that are sick, or of any that walk disorderly, and will not be reproved.
2. To pay the stewards what they have received of their several classes in the week preceding.
(4) There is only one condition previously required of those who desire admission into these societies, "a desire to flee from the wrath to come, and to be saved from their sins." But wherever this is really fixed in the soul, it will be shown by its fruits. It is therefore expected of all who continue therein, that they should continue to evidence their desire of salvation,
First, By doing no harm, by avoiding evil of every kind, especially that which is most generally practiced; such as,
The taking of the name of God in vain. The profaning the day of the Lord, either by doing ordinary work therein, or by buying or selling.
Drunkenness, buying or selling spirituous liquors, or drinking them, unless in cases of extreme necessity.
The buying and selling of men, women, and children, with an intention to enslave them. Fighting, quarrelling, brawling, brother
*This part refers to towns and cities; where the poor are generally numerous, and church expenses considerable.
going to law with brother; returning evil for evil; or railing for railing; the using many words in buying or selling.
The buying or selling goods that have not paid the duty.
The giving or taking things on usury, i. e., unlawful interest.
Uncharitable or unprofitable conversation; particularly speaking evil of magistrates or of ministers.
Doing to others as we would not they should do unto us.
Doing what we know is not for the glory of God: as,
The putting on of gold and costly apparel. The taking such diversions as cannot be used in the name of the Lord Jesus.
The singing those songs, or reading those books, which do not tend to the knowledge or love of God.
Softness and needless self-indulgence.
Borrowing without a probability of paying; or taking up goods without a probability of paying for them.
(5) It is expected of all who continue in these societies, that they should continue to evidence their desire of salvation,
Secondly, By doing good, by being in every kind merciful after their power, as they have opportunity, doing good of every possible sort, and, as far as possible, to all
To their bodies, of the ability which God giveth, by giving food to the hungry, by