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of any marriage by a priest. Hence it became his new Society, as a religious or renovated people, to abandon apostate usages, and to adopt a manner that was more agreeable to their new state.
George Fox gave in his own marriage an example of all that he had thus recommended to the Society. Ilaving agreed with Margaret Fell, the widow of Judge Fell, upon the propriety of their union as husband and wife, he desired her to send for her children. As soon as they were come, he asked them and their respective husbands*, if they had any thing against it or for it, desiring them to speak. And they all severally expressed their satisfaction therein. Then he asked Margaret, if she had fulfilled and performed her husband's will. She replied, the children knew that. Whereupon he asked them, whether, if their mother married, they should not lose by it. And he asked Margaret, whether she had done any thing in lieu of it, which might answer it to the children. The children said, she had answered it to them, and de
* G. Fox's Journal, vol. ii. 135.
sired him to speak no more about that. He told them that he was plain, and that he would have all things done plainly, for he sought not any outward advantage to himself. So, after he had acquainted the children with it, their intention of marriage was laid before friends, both privately and publicly; and afterwards, a meeting being appointed for the accomplishment of the marriage, in the public meeting-house at Broad Mead in Bristol, they took each other in marriage, in the plain and simple manner as then practised, and which he himself had originally recommended to his followers.
The regulations concerning marriage, and the manner of the solemnization of it, which obtained in the time of George Fox, nearly obtain among the Quakers at the present day.
When marriage is agreed upon between two persons, the man and the woman, at one of the monthly meetings, publicly declare their intentions, and ask leave to proceed. At this time, their parents, if living, must either appear, or send certificates to signify their consent. This being done, two
men are appointed by the men's meeting,
the man and woman respectively, and to learn from themselves, as well as by other inquiry, if they stand perfectly clear from any marriage promises and engagements to others.
At the next monthly meeting, the deputation make their report. If either of the parties is reported to have given expectation of marriage to any other individual, the proceedings are stopped till the matter be satisfactorily explained. But if they are both of them reported to be clear in this respect, they are at liberty to proceed, and one or more persons of respectability, of each sex, are deputed to see that the marriage be orderly conducted.
In the case of second marriages, additional instructions are sometimes given; for if any of the parties, thus intimating their intention of marrying, should have children alive, the same persons, who were deputed to inquire into their clearness from all other engagements, are to see that the rights of such children be legally secured.
When the parties are considered to be free, by the reports of the deputation, to
proceed upon their union, they appoint a suitable day for the solemnization of it, which is generally one of the week-day-meetings for worship. On this day, they repair to the meeting-house with their friends. The congregation, when seated, sit in silence. Perhaps some minister is induced to speak. After a suitable time has elapsed, the man and the woman rise up together, and, taking each other by the hand, declare publicly that they thus take each other as husband and wife. This constitutes their marriage. By way, however, of evidence of their union, a paper is signed by the man and woman in the presence of three witnesses, who sign it also, in which it is stated that they have so taken each other in marriage. And in addition to this, though it is not a necessary practice, another paper is generally produced and rcad, stating concisely the proceedings of the parties in their respective meetings, for the purpose of their marriage, and the declaration made by them as having taken each other as husband and wife. This is signed by the parties, their relatives, and frequently by many of their friends and others present. All marriages
of other dissenters are celebrated in the established churches, according to the ceremonies of the same. But the marriages of the Quakers are valid by law in their own meeting-houses, when solemnized in this simple manner.
Quakers marrying out of the Society to le disowned
- Reasons for this disownment are—that mixed marriages cannot be celebrated without a violation of some of the great principles of the Societythat they are generally productive of disputes and uneasiness to those concerned and that the discipline cannot be carried on in such families.
AMONG the regulations suggested by George Fox, and adopted by his followers, it was determined that persons belonging to the Society should not intermarry with those of other religious professions. Such a heterogeneous union was denominated a mixed marriage; and persons engaging in such mixed marriages were to be disowned.