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of producing peaceable and quiet characters; but, foreseeing that among the best men differences would unavoidably arise from their intercourse in business and other causes, it was his desire, that these should be settled in a Christian manner. He advised therefore that no member should appeal to law; but that he should refer his difference to ar
bitration by persons of exemplary character in the Society. This mode of decision appeared to him to be consistent with the spirit of Christianity, and with the advice of the apostle Paul, who recommended that all the differences among the Christians of his own time should be referred to the decision of the saints, or of such other Christians as were eminent for their lives and conversation.
This mode of decision, which began to take place among the Quakers in the time of George Fox, has been continued by them to the present day. Cases where property is concerned to the amount of many thousands, are determined in no other manner. By this process the Quakers obtain their verdicts in a way peculiarly satisfactory. For law-suits are at best tedious. They
often destroy brotherly love in the individuals while they continue. They excite also, during this time, not unfrequently, a vindictive spirit, and lead to family-feuds and quarrels. They agitate the mind also, hurt the temper, and disqualify a man for the proper exercise of his devotion. Add to this, that the expenses of law are frequently so great, that burthens are imposed upon men for matters of little consequence, which they feel as evils and incumbrances for a portion of their lives; burthens, which guilt alone, and which no indiscretion could have merited. Hence the Quakers experience advantages in the settlement of their differences which are known but to few others.
The Quakers, when any difference arises about things that are not of serious moment, generally settle it amicably between themselves; but in matters that are intricate and of weighty concern, they have recourse to arbitration. If it should happen that they are slow in proceeding to arbitration, overseers, or any others of the Society, who may come to the knowledge of the circumstance, are to step in and to offer
their advice. If their advice be rejected, complaint is to be made to their own monthly meeting concerning them, after which they will come under the discipline of the Society; and if they still persist in refusing to settle their differences, or to proceed to arbitration, they may be disowned. I may mention here, that any member going to law with another, without having previously tried to accommodate matters between them, according to the rules of the Society, comes under the discipline in the like manner.
When arbitration is determined upon, the Quakers are enjoined to apply to persons of their own Society to decide the case. It is considered, however, desirable, that they should not trouble their ministers if they can help it on these occasions, as the minds of these ought to be drawn out as little as possible into worldly concerns. If Quakers, however, should not find among Quakers such as they would choose to employ for these purposes, or such as may possess skill. in regard to the matter in dispute, they may apply to others out of the Society, sooner than go to law.
The following is a concise statement of the rules recommended by the Society in the case of arbitrations.
Each party is to choose one or two friends as arbitrators, and all the persons so chosen. are to agree upon a third or fifth.-The arbitrators are not to consider themselves as advocates for the party by whom they were chosen, but as men whose duty it is to judge righteously, fearing the Lord. The parties are to enter into engagements: tó abide by the award of the arbitrators. Every meeting of the arbitrators is to be made known to the parties concerned, till they have been fully heard. No private meetings are allowed between some of the arbitrators, or with one party separate from the other, on the business referred to them. No representation of the case of one party, either by writing or otherwise, is to be admitted without its being made fully known to the other, and, if required, a copy of such representation is to be delivered to the other party. The arbitrators are to hear both parties fully in the presence of each other, whilst either has any fresh matter to offer, for a time mutually limited. In the case
of any doubtful point of law, the arbitrators are jointly to agree upon a case, and to consult counsel. It is recommended to arbitrators to propose to the parties that they should give an acknowledgment in writing, before the award is made, that they have been candidly and fully heard.
In the same manner as a Quaker proceeds with a Quaker in the case of any difference, he is led by his education and habits to proceed with others, who are not members of the same Society. A Quaker seldom goes to law with a person of another denomination, till he has proposed arbitration. If the proposal be not accepted, the Quaker has then no remedy but the law. For a person who is out of the Society cannot be obliged. upon pain of disownment, as a Quaker may, to submit to such a mode of decision, being out of the reach of the Quaker-discipline.
I shall close my observations upon this subject by giving an account of an institu tion for the accommodation of differences, which took place in the year 1793, upon Quaker-principles.
In the town of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, a number of disputes were continually arising