Friends,-- Let God's wisdom have the stay of your minds, and let it be the end of all your words; beware of that spirit, that leads out of it into any thing. There is a day coming, wherein some may wish that they had walked in wisdom, as touching the weaknesses one of another, or the failings one of another; for what know ye, who may stand or who may fall in the day of God's trial? Then many, that have been unstable, may wish that they had kept their secrets in their bosoms, and in God's wisdom sought to restore all, and not to scatter; as that spirit doth which cannot bear and cover the weaknesses one of another who are yet in the wilderness, where the trials are many. I have seen a great danger in this thing. Wherefore beware of that spirit that cannot bear one with another, or forgive one another; for that which cannot, will discover rather than cover, and bring a cloud over many, wheresoever it is received, and raise the contrary in many, and veil the just, (it may be in whole meetings,) for want of wisdom to be stayed in the meek spirit, which trys all spirits, and gives clear sight of things. For want of this many may be cast by, and scarce ever restored again.
Therefore I say, tread over the dead, and that which works in that nature, and reach to the witness in all; so will ye stand for God, and God will bless you in the day of trial.
Epistle CXXXVII, written (in 1657 (?)) for the early Quakers (later the Religious Society of Friends). Excerpted from pages 132-33 of:
Many Select and Christian
Letters and Testimonies,
Written on Sundry Occasions,
Ancient, eminent, faithful Friend, and minister of Christ Jesus,
In two volumes.
(Philadelphia: Marcus T. C. Gould, 1831. Reprint edition, New York: AMS, 1975.)