The elders who assembled at Balby, in the north of England, in 1656 wrote twenty “advices,” which included the first detailed directions about what to do in certain circumstances such as when “any person draw back from meetings and walk disorderly.” Their epistle, which follows, prepared the ground for later books of discipline.

To help us understand something of our heritage, this book of discipline contains this early statement of Friends’ principles. Yet it is important to re-examine these advices in the Light as we know it and to restate them freshly in the language of today. There will continue to be revisions of our discipline so that the words of this volume and the rewordings of future times serve the same spirit and reinterpret the same truth.