Twelve Good Rules

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These “Twelve Rules for Promoting Harmony among Church Members” are taken from a “Manual for the Members of the Second Presbyterian Church” of Charleston, SC, from 1838. They previously appeared in a similar manual for a Presbyterian church in Petersburg, VA, in 1833. They are variously credited to Thomas Smyth (b. 1878, d.1873), pastor of the Charleston church, and William Plumer (b. 1802, d.1880), pastor of the Petersburg church. The facsimile is taken from the “Complete Works” of Thomas Smyth.

Presbyterian churches trace their origins, via Scotland, to the Swiss Reformers, John Calvin and Ulrich Zwingli, and are thus part of the Reformed tradition of Protestant churches; as is true of most Protestant traditions there are now both more conservative and more liberal Presbyterian denominations.

These “Twelve Rules” are, of course, not specifically Presbyterian, but would contribute to peace and harmony in all churches, parishes, and communities, regardless of denomination.

Twelve Rules for Promoting Harmony
among Church Members

    1. To remember that we are all subject to failings and infirmities, of one kind or another.” — Matt 7:1-5; Rom 2:21-23.
    2. To bear with and not magnify each other’s infirmities.” — Gal 6:1.
    3. To pray one for another in our social meetings, and particularly in private.” — James 5:16.
    4. To avoid going from house to house, for the purpose of hearing news, and interfering with other people’s business.” — Lev 19:16.
    5. Always to turn a deaf ear to any slanderous report, and to allow no charge to be brought against any person until well founded and proved.” — Prov 25:23.
    6. If a member be in fault, to tell him of it in private, before it is mentioned to others.” — Matt 18:15.
    7. To watch against shyness of each other, and put the best construction on any action that has the appearance of opposition or resentment.” — Prov 10:12.
    8. To observe the just rule of Solomon, that is, to leave off contention before it be meddled with.” — Prov 17:14.
    9. If a member has offended, to consider how glorious, how God-like it is to forgive, and how unlike a Christian it is to revenge.” — Eph 4:2.
    10. To remember that it is always a grand artifice of the Devil, to promote distance and animosity among members of Churches, and we should, therefore, watch against everything that furthers his the Devil’s end.” — James 3:16.
    11. To consider how much more good we can do in the world at large, and in the Church in particular when we are all united in love, than we could do when acting alone, and indulging a contrary spirit.” — John 13:35.
    12. Lastly, to consider the express injunction of Scripture, and the beautiful example of Christ, as to these important things.” — Eph 4:32; 1 Pet 2:21; John 13:5,35.


The facsimile page is taken from a Facebook post by Log College Press but should be in the public domain because of its age.

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