Quaker Heritage Press > Online Texts > The Old Discipline > Defamation and Detraction


Friends are every where exhorted to maintain a strict watch over themselves and each other against the subtle and mischievous spirit of tale-bearing and detraction -- the manifest tendency of which is to lay waste the unity of the body, by sowing the seeds of disesteem, strife, and discord among brethren and neighbours; as well as to unfit those who either propagate or listen to evil reports, for being of that service to the persons reflected upon, which they might be if the order prescribed by our blessed Lord to his church, was strictly observed, viz. "If thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that, in the mouth of two or three witnesses, ever word may be established. And if if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church; but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee an an heathen man and a publican."

It is therefore advised that, in whomsoever this weakness appears, it may be immediately checked; and, if any one gives way to it, to the obvious injury of another's reputation or interest, let him or her be faithfully admonished; and, if they persist, and cannot be prevailed with to give due satisfaction, the preparative or mothly meeting should be informed of it, and deal further with them; when, if this produce not the desired effect, they should be testified against.

And, if any member who offends in this respect, shelters him or herself under a pretence, that they say no more than they have heard from others, but will not discover who they are: Such reporters or tale-bearers should in like manner be dealt with, and testified against as being themselves the authors.

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