Cotton Mather, (1663-1728) was a socially & politically influential New England Puritan minister
Cotton Mather's (1663-1728) RULES For the Society of NEGROES. 1693. (Mather's rules for allowing African Americans to worship in the church.)
WE the Miserable Children of Adam, and of Noah, thankfully Admiring and Accepting the Free-Grace of GOD, that Offers to Save us from our Miseries, by the Lord Jesus Christ, freely Resolve, with His Help, to become the Servants of that Glorious LORD.
And that we may be Assisted in the Service of our Heavenly Master, we now Join together in a SOCIETY, wherein the following RULES are to be observed.
I. It shall be our Endeavour, to Meet in the Evening after the Sabbath; and Pray together by Turns, one to Begin, and another to Conclude the Meeting; And between the two Prayers, a Psalm shall be Sung, and a Sermon Repeated.
II. Our coming to the Meeting, shall never be without the Leave of such as have Power over us: And we will be Careful, that our Meeting may Begin and Conclude between the Hours of Seven and Nine; and that we may not be unseasonably Absent from the Families whereto we pertain.
III. As we will, with the Help of God, at all Times avoid all Wicked Company, so we will Receive none into our Meeting, but such as have sensibly Reformed their Lives from all manner of Wickedness. And therefore, None shall be Admitted, without the Knowledge and Consent of the Minister of God in this Place; unto whom we will also carry every Person, that seeks for Admission among us; to be by Him Examined, Instructed and Exhorted.
IV. We will, as often as may be Obtain some Wise and of the English in the Neighbourhood, and especially the Offcers of the Church, to look in upon us, and by their Presence and Counsil, do what they think fitting for us.
V. If any of our Number, fall into the Sin of Drunkenness, or Swearing, or Cursing, or Lying, or Stealing, or notorious Disobedience or Unfaithfulness unto their Masters, we will Admonish him of his Miscarriage, and Forbid his coming to the Meeting, for at least one Fortnight; And except he then come with great Signs and Hopes of his Repentance, we will utterly Exclude him, with Blotting his Name out of our List.
VI. If any of our Society Dele himself with Fornication, we will give him our Admonition; and so, debar him from the Meeting, at least half a Year: Nor shall he Return to it, ever any more, without Exemplary Testimonies of his becoming a New Creature.
VII. We will, as we have Opportunity, set our selves to do all the Good we can, to the other Negro-Servants in the Town; And if any of them should, at unfit Hours, be Abroad, much more, if any of them should Run away from their Masters, we will afford them no Shelter: But we will do what in us lies, that they may be discovered, and punished. And if any of us, are found Faulty, in this Matter, they shall be no longer of us.
VIII. None of our Society shall be Absent from our Meeting, without giving a Reason of the Absence; And if it be found, that any have pretended unto their Owners, that they came unto the Meeting, when they were otherwise and elsewhere Employ'd, we will faithfully Inform their Owners, and also do what we can to Reclaim such Person from all such Evil Courses for the Future.
IX. It shall be expected from every one in the Society, that he learn the Catechism; And therefore, it shall be one of our usual Exercises, for one of us, to ask the Questions, and for all the rest in their Order, to say the Answers in the Catechism; Either, The New-English Catechism, or the Assemblies Catechism, or the Catechism in the Negro Christianized.