Compiled by Ken Stockbridge
- Baltimore Yearly Meeting Faith & Practice, Historical Sketch, p. 1-11.
- David Murray-Rust’s booklet Quakers in Brief about Quaker history and practice
- Download Acrobat version – includes timeline from Quaker History Archives (recommended for printing)
- Letter from the Elders Gathered at Balby, 1656
- George Fox (1624-1691)
- “There is one, even Christ Jesus…”
- “Ocean of Light”
- Something Further Concerning Silent Meetings
- “Be patterns, be examples, … walk cheerfully over the world…”
- “That life and power that took away the occasion for all wars”
- 1660 Declaration Concerning Wars
- Margaret Fell (1614-1702)
- On Hearing Fox
- Women’s Speaking…
- James Nayler (1617?-1660)
- There is a spirit…
- Edward Burrough (1633-1663)
- Account concerning early Friends
- Isaac Penington (1616-1679)
- On Unity and Liberty
- On Quaker Discipline
- Robert Barclay (1648-1690)
- William Penn (1644-1718)
- On early friends
- Try what love will do
- Live Better In the World
- John Woolman (1720-1772)
- “Channel of universal love”
- “A Principle which is pure”
- War and Simplicity
- Philadelphia Yearly Meeting
- Queries from the Book of Discipline, 1806
- Lucretia Mott (1793-1880)
- Likeness to Christ
- No Passivist
- Richmond Declaration of Faith (1887) – Excerpts
- Caroline Stephen (1834-1909)
- On Worship
- Sandra Cronk
- The Process of Mutual Accountability
“The Elders and Brethren send unto the Brethren in the North these necessary things following; to which, if you, in the light wait, to be kept in obedience, you will do well. Fare you well…[List of 20 advisable practices.]
“From the Spirit of Truth to the children of light, to walk in the light; that all in the order be kept in obedience to God; that He may be glorified, who is worthy over all, blessed for ever–Amen!
“Dearly beloved Friends, these things we do not lay upon you as a rule or form to walk by; but that all, with a measure of the light, which is pure and holy, may be guided: and so in the light walking and abiding, these things may be fulfilled in the Spirit, not in the letter; for the letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life.”
“There is one, even Christ Jesus…”
“But as I had forsaken the priests, so I left the separate preachers also, and those esteemed the most experienced people; for I saw there was none among them all that could speak to my condition. When all my hopes in them and in all men were gone, so that I had nothing outwardly to help me, nor could I tell what to do, then, oh, then, I heard a voice which said, “There is one, even Christ Jesus, that can speak to thy condition”; and when I heard it, my heart did leap for joy.
“Then the Lord let me see why there was none upon the earth that could speak to my condition, namely, that I might give Him all the glory. For all are concluded under sin, and shut up in unbelief, as I had been; that Jesus Christ might have the preeminence who enlightens, and gives grace, and faith, and power. Thus when God doth work, who shall hinder it? and this I knew experimentally.”
Fox’s Journal, Chap. I
“Ocean of Light”
“I went back into Nottinghamshire, and there the Lord showed me that the natures of those things, which were hurtful without, were within, in the hearts and minds of wicked men. The natures of dogs, swine, vipers, of Sodom and Egypt, Pharaoh, Cain, Ishmael, Esau, etc.; the natures of these I saw within, though people had been looking without. I cried to the Lord, saying, ‘Why should I be thus, seeing I was never addicted to commit those evils?’ and the Lord answered, ‘That it was needful I should have a sense of all conditions, how else should I speak to all conditions!’ and in this I saw the infinite love of God.
“I saw, also, that there was an ocean of darkness and death; but an infinite ocean of light and love, which flowed over the ocean of darkness. In that also I saw the infinite love of God, and I had great openings.”
Fox’s Journal, Chap. I
Something Further Concerning Silent Meetings
“Concerning silent meetings; the intent of all speaking is to bring into the life, and to walk in, and to possess the same, and to live in and enjoy it, and to feel God’s presence, and that is in the silence, (not the wandering whirling tempestuous part of man or woman) for there is the flock lying down at noon-day, and the feeding of the bread of life, and drinking of the springs of life, when they do not speak words; for words declared are to bring people to it, and confessing God’s goodness and love, as they are moved by the eternal God and his spirit, and so all the ravenous spirits that are from the witness of God in themselves, cannot be still, cannot be silent, it is a burthen to them; so cannot keep at home in their own houses, but are the hunters before the Lord like Nimrod, the first builder of Bable; but God confounded them, for they went out of the stillness and quietness, as did the Jews that went from the law of God, then they gadded abroad, and changed their ways, and so did not see their salvation; as do the apostate christians, who inwardly rove from the spirit of God; so are gone from the silence, and stillness, and from waiting upon God to have their strength renewed, and so are dropped into sects, among one another, and so have the words of Christ and the apostles, but inwardly are ravened from the still life, in which the fellowship is attained to in the spirit of God, in the power of God, which is the gospel; in which is the fellowship, when there are no words spoken.”
Fox, George. Philadelphia: Marcus T.C. Gould;
New York: Isaac T. Hopper, 1831, p. 74
The Works of George Fox, Vol. IV.
“Be patterns, be examples, … walk cheerfully over the world…”
“Be patterns, be examples, in all countries, places, islands, nations, wherever you come; that your carriage and life may preach among all sorts of people, and to them; then you will come to walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in every one.”
“Exhortation to Friends in the ministry” from Launceston prison, 1656
as quoted in London Yearly Meeting Faith & Practice
“That life and power that took away the occasion for all wars”
The time of my commitment to the house of correction being very nearly ended, and there being many new soldiers raised, the commissioners would have made me captain over them; and the soldiers cried out that they would have none but me. So the keeper of the house of correction was commanded to bring me before the commissioners and soldiers in the market-place, where they offered me that preferment, as they called it, asking me if I would not take up arms for the Commonwealth against Charles Stuart. I told them I knew whence all wars arose, even from the lusts, according to James’ doctrine; and that I lived in the virtue of that life and power that took away the occasion of all wars.
Yet they courted me to accept of their offer, and thought I did but compliment them. But I told them I was come into the covenant of peace, which was before wars and strifes were.
Fox’s Journal, Chap. IV
1660 Declaration Concerning Wars
A DECLARATION FROM THE HARMLESS AND INNOCENT PEOPLE OF GOD, CALLED QUAKERS, AGAINST ALL SEDITION, PLOTTERS, AND FIGHTERS IN THE WORLD: FOR REMOVING THE GROUND OF JEALOUSY AND SUSPICION FROM MAGISTRATES AND PEOPLE CONCERNING WARS AND FIGHTINGS.
George Fox and others.
Presented to the King upon the 21st day of the 11th Month, 1660.
“OUR principle is, and our practices have always been, to seek peace and ensue it; to follow after righteousness and the knowledge of God; seeking the good and welfare, and doing that which tends to the peace of all. We know that wars and fightings proceed from the lusts of men, as James iv. 1–3, out of which the Lord hath redeemed us, and so out of the occasion of war. The occasion of war, and war itself (wherein envious men, who are lovers of them-selves more than lovers of God lust, kill, and desire to have men’s lives or estates) ariseth from lust All bloody principles and practices, as to our own particulars, we utterly- deny; with all outward wars and strife, and fightings with – outward weapons, for any end, or under an pretense whatsoever; this is our testimony to the whole world.
“And whereas it is objected:
“But although you now say ‘that you cannot fight, nor take up arms at all, yet if the Spirit move you, then you will change your principle, and you will sell your coat, buy a sword, and fight for the kingdom of Christ.’
“To this we answer, Christ said to Peter, ‘ Put up thy sword in his place;’ though he had said before, he that had no sword might sell his coat and buy one (to the fulfilling of the law and the Scripture), yet after, when he had bid him put it up, he said, “he that taketh the when the sword, shall perish with the sword. And further, Christ said to Pilate, ‘Thinkest thou, that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?’ And this might satisfy Peter, Luke xxii. 36, after he had put up his sword, when he said to him. ‘He that took it, should perish with it ;’ which satisfieth us, Matt. xxvi. 51-53 And in the Revelation, it is said, ‘He that kills with the sword, shall perish with the sword; and here is the faith and the patience of the saints.’ And so Christ’s kingdom is not of this world, therefore do not his servants fight, as he told Pilate, the magistrate, who crucified him. And did they not look upon Christ as a raiser of sedition? And did he pray, ‘Forgive them?’ But thus it is that we are numbered amongst transgressors, and fighters, that the Scriptures might be fulfilled.
“That the Spirit of Christ, by which we are guided, is not changeable, so as once to command us from a thing as evil, and again to move unto it; and we certainly know, and testify to the world, that the Spirit of Christ, which leads us into all truth, will never move us to fight and war against any man with outward weapons, neither for the kingdom of Christ, nor for the kingdoms of this world.
“First, Because the kingdom of Christ God will exalt, according to his promise, and cause it to grow and flourish in righteousness; ‘not by might, nor by power (of outward sword), but by my Spirit, saith the Lord,’ Zech. iv. 6. So those that use any weapon to fight for Christ, or for the establishing of his kingdom or government, – –their spirit, principle, and practice we deny.
“Secondly, We do earnestly desire and wait, that, by the Word of God’s power, and its effectual operation in the hearts of men, the kingdoms of this world may become the kingdoms of the Lord, and of his Christ; that he may rule and reign in men by his Sp irit and truth; that thereby all people, out of every profession, may be brought into love and unity with God, and one with another; and that they may all come to witness the prophet’s words, who said, ‘ Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more,’ Isa. ii. 4., Mic. iv. 3.
“So we, whom the Lord hath called into the obedience of his truth, have denied wars and fightings, and cannot more learn them. This is a certain testimony unto all the world, of the truth of our hearts in this particular, that as God persuadeth every man ‘s heart to believe, so they may receive it. For we have not, as some others, gone about with cunningly -devised fables, not. have we ever denied in practice what we have professed in principle; but in sincerity and truth, and by the word of God, have we laboured to manifest unto all men, that both we and our ways might be witnessed in the hearts of all.
“And whereas all manner of evil hath been falsely spoken of us, we hereby speak the plain truth of our hearts, to take away the occasion of that offense; that so being innocent, we may not suffer for other men’s offenses, nor be made a prey of by the wil ls of men for that of which we were never guilty; but in the uprightness of our hearts we may, under the power ordained of God for the punishment of evil-doers, and for the praise of them that do well, live a peaceable and godly life, in all godliness an d honesty. For although we have always suffered, and do now more abundantly suffer, yet we know that it is for righteousness’ sake; ‘for our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our consciences, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world,’ 2 Cor. i. 12, which for us is a witness for the convincing of our enemies. For this we can say to all the world, we have wronged no man, we have used no force nor violence against any man: we have been found in no plots, nor guilty of sedition. When we have been wronged, we have not sought to revenge ourselves; we have not made resistance against authority; but wherein we could not obey for conscience’ sake we have suffered the mo st of all people in the nation. We have been counted as sheep for the slaughter, persecuted and despised, beaten, stoned, wounded, stocked, whipped, imprisoned, haled out of synagogues, cast into dungeons and noisome vaults, where many have died in bonds , shut up from our friends, denied needful sustenance for many days together, with other the like cruelties.
“And the cause of all these sufferings is not for any evil, but for things relating to the worship of our God, and in obedience to his requirings. For which cause we shall freely give up our bodies a sacrifice, rather than disobey the Lord: for we know a s the Lord hath kept us innocent, so he will plead our cause, when there is none in the earth to plead it. So we, in obedience unto his truth, do not love our lives unto death, that we may do his will, and wrong no man in our generation, but seek the good and peace of all men. He who hath commanded us that we shall not swear at all, Matt. v. 31, hath also commanded us that we shall not kill, Matt. v.; so that we can neither kill men, nor swear for or against them This is both our principle and practice, and has been from the beginning; so that if we suffer, as suspected to take up arms, or make war against any, it is without any ground from us; for it neither is, nor ever was in our hearts, since we owned the truth of God; neither shall we ever do it, because it is contrary to the Spirit of Christ, his doctrine, and the practices of his apostles; even contrary to him, for whom we suffer all things, and endure all things.
“And whereas men come against us with clubs, staves, drawn swords, pistols cocked, and beat, cut, and abuse us, yet we never resisted them; but to them our hair, backs, and cheeks, have been ready. It is not an honour, to manhood or nobility, to run upon harmless people, who lift not up a hand against them, with arms and weapons.
“Therefore consider these things, ye men of understanding: for plotters, raisers of insurrections, tumultuous ones, and fighters, running with swords, clubs, staves, and pistols, one against another; these, we say, are of the world, and have their foundation from this unrighteous world, from the foundation of which the Lamb hath been slain; which Lamb hath redeemed us from this unrighteous world, and we are not of it, but are heirs of a world of which there is no end, and of a kingdom where no corruptible thing enters. Our weapons are spiritual, and not carnal, yet mighty through God, to the pulling down of the strongholds of sin and Satan, who is the author of wars, fighting, murder, and plots. Our swords are broken into ploughshares, and spears into pruning-hooks, as prophesied of in Micah iv. Therefore we cannot learn war any more, neither rise up against nation or kingdom with outward weapons, though you have numbered us amongst the transgressors and plotters. The Lord knows our innocency herein, and will plead our cause with all people upon earth, at the day of their judgment, when all men shall have a reward according to their works.
“Therefore in love we warn you for your soul’s good, not to wrong the innocent, nor the babes of Christ, which he hath in his hand, which he cares for as the apple of his eye; neither seek to destroy the heritage of God, nor turn your swords backward upon such as the law was not made for, i.e., the righteous; but for sinners and transgressors, to keep them down. For those are not peacemakers, nor lovers of enemies, neither can they overcome evil with good, who wrong them that are friends to you and all men, and wish your good, and the good of all people on the earth. If you oppress us, as they did the children of Israel in Egypt, and if you oppress us as they did when Christ was born, and as they did the Christians in the primitive times; we can say, ‘ The Lord forgive you;’ and leave the Lord to deal with you, and not revenge ourselves. If you say, as the council said to Peter and John, ‘speak no more in that name;’ and if you serve us, as they served the three children spoken of in Daniel, God is the same that ever he was, that lives for ever and ever, who hath the innocent in his arms.
“O, Friends! offend not the Lord and his little ones, neither afflict his people; but consider and be moderate. Do not run on hastily, but consider mercy, justice, and judgment; that is the way for you to prosper, and obtain favor of the Lord. Our meetings were stopped and broken up in the days of Oliver, under pretense of plotting against him; in the days of the Committee of Safety we were looked upon as plotters to bring in King Charles; and now our peaceable meetings are termed seditious. O! that men should lose their reason, and go contrary to their own conscience; knowing that we have suffered all things, and have been accounted plotters from the beginning, though we have declared against them both by word of mouth and printing, and are clear from any such thing! We have suffered all along, because we would not take up carnal weapons to fight, and are thus made a prey, because we are the innocent lambs of Christ, and cannot avenge ourselves! These things are left on your hearts to consider; but w e are out of all those things, in the patience of the saints; and we know. as Christ said, ‘He that takes the sword, shall perish with the sword;’ Matt. xxvi. 52; Rev. xiii. 10.
“This is given forth from the people called Quakers, to satisfy the king and his council, and all those that have any jealousy concerning us, that all occasion of suspicion may be taken away, and our innocency cleared.
” Postscript . Though we are numbered amongst transgressors, and have been given up to rude, merciless men, by whom our meetings are broken up, in which we edified one another in our holy faith, and prayed together to the Lord that lives for ever, yet he is our pleader in this day. The Lord saith, ‘They that feared his name spoke often together’ (as in Malachi); which were as his jewels. For this cause, and no evil-doing, are we cast into holes, dungeons, houses of correction, prisons (neither old nor young being spared men nor women), and mad a prey of in the sight of all nations, under the pretense of being seditious, etc., so that all rude people run upon us to take possession. For which we say, ‘The Lord forgive them that have thus done to us; ‘ who doth, and will enable us to suffer; and never shall we lift up hand against any that thus use us; but desire the Lord may have mercy upon them, that they may consider what they have done. For how is it possible for them to requite us for the wrong they have done to us? Who to all nations have sounded us abroad as seditious, who were never found plotters against ally, since we knew the life and power of Jesus Christ manifested in us, who hath redeemed us from the world, all works of darkness, and plotters therein, by which we know the election, before the world began. So we say, the Lord have mercy upon our enemies and forgive them, for what they have done unto us!
“0! do as ye would be done by ; do unto all men as you would have them do unto you; for this is the law and the prophets.
“All plots, insurrections, and riotous meetings we deny, knowing them to be of the devil, the murderer; which we in Christ, who was before they were, triumph over. And all wars and fightings with carnal weapons we deny, who have the sword of the Spirit; and all that wrong us, we leave to the Lord. This is to clear our innocency from the aspersion cast upon us, that we are seditious or plotters.”
Added in the reprinting.
“This was our testimony above twenty years ago; since then we have not been found acting contrary to it, nor ever shall; for the truth, that is our guide, is unchangeable. This is now reprinted to the men of this age, many of whom were then children, and doth stand as our certain testimony against all plotting and fightings with carnal weapons. and if any by departing from the truth should do so, this is our testimony in the truth against them, and will stand over them and the truth will be clear of them.”
[Text from the 2 Volume 8th and Bicentenary Edition of
Fox’s Journal, London: Friends’ Tract Association, 1891.] http://www.qhpress.org/quakerpages/qwhp/dec1660.htm
On Hearing Fox
“And so he went on, and said, ‘That Christ was the Light of the world, and lighteth every man that cometh into the world; and that by this light they might be gathered to God,’ &c. I stood up in my pew, and wondered at his doctrine, for I had never heard such before. And then he went on, and opened the scriptures, and said, ‘The scriptures were the prophets’ words, and Christ’s and the apostles’ words, and what, as they spoke, they enjoyed and possessed, and had it from the Lord’: and said, ‘Then what had any to do with the scriptures, but as they came to the Spirit that gave them forth? You will say, “Christ saith this, and the apostles say this,” but what canst thou say? Art thou a child of the Light, and hast thou walked in the Light, and what thou speakest, is it inwardly from God?’ &c. This opened me so, that it cut me to the heart; and then I saw clearly we were all wrong. So I sat down in my pew again, and cried bitterly: and I cried in my spirit to the Lord, ‘We are all thieves; we are all thieves; we have taken the scriptures in words, and know nothing of them in ourselves.'”
from “The testimony of Margaret Fox concerning her late husband”
Justified, Proved, and Allowed of by the Scriptures, All such as speak by the Spirit and Power of the Lord Jesus.
And how Women were the first that Preached the Tidings of the Resurrection of Jesus, and were sent by Christ’s own Command, before he Ascended to the Father, John 20. 17.
Whereas it hath been an Objection in the Minds of many, and several times hath been objected by the Clergy, or Ministers and others, against Women’s speaking in the Church; and so consequently may be taken, that they are condemned for medling in the things of God: The ground of which Objection is taken from the Apostle’s Words, which he writ in his first Epistle to the Corinthians, Chap. 14. Vers. 34, 35. And also what he writ to Timothy in the first Epistle, Chap. 2. Vers. 11, 12. But how far they wrong the Apostle’s Intentions in these Scriptures, we shall shew clearly when we come to them in their course and order. But first let me lay down how God himself hath manifested his Will and Mind concerning Women, and unto women…
And so let this serve to stop that opposing Spirit that would limit the Power and Spirit of the Lord Jesus, whose Spirit is poured upon all Flesh, both Sons and Daughters, now in his Resurrection; and since that the Lord God in the Creation, when he made Man in his own Image, he made them Male and Female; and since that Christ Jesus, as the Apostle saith, was made of a Woman, and the Power of the Highest overshadowed her, and the Holy Ghost came upon her, and the Holy Thing that was born of her, was called the Son of God; and when he was upon the Earth, he manifested his Love, and his Will, and his Mind, both to the Woman of Samaria, and Martha, and Mary her Sister, and several others, as hath been shewed; and after his Resurrection also, manifested himself unto them first of all, even before he ascended unto his Father: Now when Jesus was risen, the first Day of the Week, he appeared first unto Mary Magdalene, Mark 16. 9. And thus the Lord Jesus hath manifested himself and his Power, without Respect of Persons; and so let all Mouths be stopt that would limit him, whose Power and Spirit is infinite, who is pouring it upon all Flesh.
And thus much in answer to these two Scriptures, which have been made such a Stumbling-block, that the Ministers of Darkness have made such a Mountain of: But the Lord is removing all this, and taking it out of the way.
There is a spirit…
“There is a spirit which I feel, that delights to do no evil, nor to avenge any wrong, but delights to endure all things in hope to enjoy its own in the end. Its hope is to outlive all wrath and contention, and to weary out all exaltation and cruelty, or whatever is of a nature contrary to itself. It sees to the end of all temptations. As it bears no evil in itself, so it conceives none in thought to any other: if it be betrayed, it bears it; for its ground and spring are the mercies and forgiveness of God. Its crown is meekness, its life is everlasting love unfeigned, and takes its kingdom with entreaty, and not with contention, and keeps it by lowliness of mind. In God alone it can rejoice, though none else regard it, or can own its life. It is conceived in sorrow, and brought forth without any to pity it; nor doth it murmur at grief, and oppression. It never rejoiceth but through sufferings; for with the world’s joy it is murdered. I found it alone, being forsaken. I have fellowship therein with them who lived in dens, and desolate places of the earth, who through death obtained this resurrection, and eternal holy life.”
Account concerning early Friends
“It is now about seven years since the Lord raised us up in the north of England, and opened our mouths in his Spirit. What we were before, in our religious professions and practice, is well known to that part of the country; how generally we were men of the strictest sect, and of the greatest zeal in the performance of outward righteousness. We went through and tried all sorts of teachers, and ran from mountain to mountain and from man to man, and from one form to another, as many do to this day, and remain not gathered to the Lord. After our long seeking, the Lord appeared to us and revealed his glory in us, and gave us of his Spirit, and gave us of his wisdom to guide us, whereby we saw all the world and the true state of all things, and the true condition of the church in her present estate.
“By this light of Christ in us we were led out of all false ways, and false preachings and false ministers; and met together often, and waited upon the Lord in pure silence… [We] hearkened to the voice of the Lord, and felt his word in our hearts to burn up and beat down all that was contrary to God; and we obeyed the light of Christ in us, and followed the motions of the Lord’s pure Spirit and took up the cross to all earthly glories, crowns and ways, and denied ourselves, our relations, and all that stood in the way betwixt us and the Lord. We chose to suffer with and for the name of Christ, rather than [enjoy] all the pleasures upon earth, or all our former professions and practices in religion without the power and Spirit of God.
“Being prepared of the Lord, and having received power from on high, we went forth as commanded of the Lord, leaving all relations and all things of the world behind us, that we might fulfil the work of the Lord, unto which he called us…and the word of the Lord we sounded, and did not spare; and caused the deaf to hear, the blind to see, and the heart that was hardened to be awakened.”
From The memorable works of a son of thunder, 1672
As quoted in London Yearly Meeting Faith and Practice
On Unity and Liberty
“And oh, how sweet and pleasant it is to the truly spiritual eye to see several sorts of believers, several forms of Christians in the school of Christ, every one learning their own lesson, performing their own peculiar service, and knowing, owning, and loving one another in the their several places and different performances to their Master…. For this is the true ground of love and unity, not that such a man walks and does just as I do, but because I feel the same Spirit and life in him….
“The great error of the ages of the apostacy hath been to set up an outward order and uniformity, and to make men’s consciences bend thereto, either by arguments of wisdom, or by force; but the property of the true church government is, to leave the conscience to its full liberty in the Lord, to preserve it single and entire of the Lord to exercise, and to seek unity in the light and in the Spirit, walking sweetly and harmoniously together in the midst of different practices.”
On Quaker Discipline
“I have heard that thou hast somewhat against W.R., …; this thou oughtst seriously to weigh and consider; that thy path and walking herein, may be right and straight before the Lord. Is the thing, or are the things, which thou hast against him, fully so, as thou apprehendest? Hast thou seen evil in him, or to break forth from him? and hast thou considered him therein, and dealt with him, as if it had been thy own case? Hast thou pitied him, mourned over him, cried to the Lord for him, and in tender love and meekness of spirit, laid the thing before him? … If thou hast proceeded thus, thou hast proceeded tenderly and orderly, according to the law of brotherly love; … But, if thou hast let in any hardness of spirit, or hard reasonings against him…, the witness of God will not justify thee in that.”
From Letters of Isaac Penington
As quoted in Sandra Cronk,
Gospel Order: A Quaker Understanding of Faithful Church Community.
Pendle Hill Pamphlet 297, 1991.
“For not a few have come to be convinced of the truth after this manner, of which I myself, in part, am a true witness, who not by strength of arguments, or by a particular disquisition of each doctrine, and convincement of my understanding thereby, came to receive and bear witness of the truth, but by being secretly reached by this life; for when I came into the silent assemblies of God’s people, I felt a secret power among them, which touched my heart, and as I gave way unto it, I found the evil weakening in me, and the good raised up, and so I became thus knit and united unto them, hungering more and more after the increase of this power and life, whereby I might feel myself perfectly redeemed. And indeed this is the surest way to become a Christian, to whom afterwards the knowledge and understanding will not be wanting, but will grow up so much as is needful, as the natural fruit of this good root.”
From Apology For The True Christian Divinity
On early friends
“They were changed men themselves before they went about to change others. Their hearts were rent as well as their garments, and they knew the power and work of God upon them…And as they freely received what they had to say from the Lord, so they freely administered it to others. The bent and stress of their ministry was conversion to God, regeneration and holiness, not schemes of doctrines and verbal creeds or new forms of worship, but a leaving off in religion the superfluous and reducing the ceremonious and formal part, and pressing earnestly the substantial, the necessary and profitable part, as all upon a serious reflection must and do acknowledge.”
Preface to Fox’s Journal (1694)
As quoted in London Yearly Meeting Faith and Practice
Try what love will do
545. Let us then try what Love will do: For if Men did once see we Love them, we should soon find they would not harm us.
546. Force may subdue, but Love gains: And he that forgives first, wins the Lawrel,
547. If I am even with my Enemy, the Debt is paid; but if I forgive it, I oblige him for ever.
Some Fruits of Solitude
Live Better In the World
“True religion does not draw men out of the world but enables them to live better in it and excites their endeavors to mend it.”
From No Cross, No Crown
“Channel of universal love”
“Our gracious Creator cares and provides for all his creatures. His tender mercies are over all his works and so far as true love influences our minds, so far we become interested in his workmanship and feel a desire to make use of every opportunity to lessen the distresses of the afflicted and to increase the happiness of the creation. Here we have the prospect of one common interest from which our own is inseparable, that to turn all we possess into the channel of universal love becomes the business of our lives.”
-as quoted in Britain Yearly Meeting’s Faith & Practice, Ch. 23.14
“A Principle which is pure”
“There is a principle which is pure, placed in the human mind, which in different places and ages hath had different names. It is, however, pure and proceeds from God. It is deep and inward, confined to no forms of religion nor excluded from any, where the heart stands in perfect sincerity. In whomsoever this takes root and grows, of what nation soever, they become brethren in the best sense of the expression.”
“Considerations on Keeping Negroes” 1746
War and Simplicity
“The way of carrying on wars common in the world is so far distinguishable from the purity of Christ’s religion that many scruple to join in them. Those who are so redeemed from the love of the world as to possess nothing in a fleshly spirit, their “life is hid with Christ in God;”(1) and these he preserves in resignedness, even in times of commotion.
“As they possess nothing but what pertains to his family, anxious thoughts about wealth or dominion have little or nothing in them to work upon; and they learn contentment in being disposed of according to his will who, being omnipotent and always mindful of his children, causeth all things to work for their good. But where that spirit works which loves riches, and in its working gathers wealth and cleaves to customs which have their root in self-pleasing; — this spirit, thus separating from universal love, seeks help from the power which stands in the separation, and whatever name it hath, it still desires to defend the treasures thus gotten: — This is like a chain, where the end of one link encloseth the end of another. The rising up of a desire to obtain wealth is the beginning; this desire, being cherished, moves to action; and riches thus gotten please self; and while self has a life in them it desires to have them defended.
“Wealth is attended with power, by which bargains and proceedings, contrary to universal righteousness, are supported; and hence oppression, carried on with worldly policy and order, clothes itself with the name of justice and becomes like a seed of discord in the soul. And as this spirit which wanders from the pure habitation prevails, so the seeds of war swell and sprout, and grow, and become strong, until much fruit is ripened. Then cometh the harvest spoken of by the prophet, which “is a heap, in the day of grief and desperate sorrows.”(2)
“Oh! that we who declare against wars, and acknowledge our trust to be in God only, may walk in the light, and therein examine our foundation and motives in holding great estates! May we look upon our treasures, and the furniture of our houses, and the garments in which we array ourselves, and try whether the seeds of war have nourishment in these our possessions, or not. Holding treasures in the self-pleasing spirit is a strong plant, the fruit whereof ripens fast.
“A day of outward distress is coming, and Divine love calls to prepare against it. Hearken then, O ye children who have known the light, and come forth. Leave every thing which Jesus Christ does not own. Think not his pattern too plain, too coarse for you. Think not a small portion in this life too little. But let us live in his spirit, and walk as he walked: so shall we be preserved in the greatest troubles.”
From “A Plea for the Poor,” Part X
Queries from the Book of Discipline, 1806
It is agreed that the nine queries belonging to meetings for discipline, be read, deliberately considered and answered in each preparative and monthly meeting once a year; in order to convey an explicit account in writing to the quarterly meetings next preceding the yearly meeting that so this meeting may be clearly informed of the state of all our meetings.
Also, that the first, second and eighth of those queries be read, considered, and explicit answers to them made in writing in the two quarterly meetings preceding the one before mentioned, and also in the preparative and monthly meetings which report thereto. But none of the queries are to be read or answered in those quarterly meetings for discipline which immediately succeed the yearly meeting nor in the preparative or monthly meetings which report to those quarters.
It is not considered as obligatory on any meeting to read the above queries oftener than is here mentioned, or to read any others than such as are to be answered. Nor is the reading and answering of them enjoined on any preparative meeting, where the members of that and the monthly meeting are the same.–1806.
It is further agreed that at the time when the nine queries are read in the preparative and monthly meetings, the advices and caution subjoined, shall be also distinctly read and solidly pondered; as a means of putting the members present upon considering, whether there be any occasion for an extension of care in those respects: and, if there is, of stirring them up to a faithful discharge of their duty as individuals, one towards another.
Are all our religious meetings for worship and discipline duly attended; is the hour observed; and are friends clear of sleeping, and of all other unbecoming behaviour therein?
Is love and unity maintained amongst you. Are tale-bearing and detraction discouraged. And where any differences arise, are endeavours used speedily to end them?
Are Friends careful to bring up those under their direction, in plainness of speech, behaviour, and apparel; in frequent reading the holy scriptures; and to restrain them from reading pernicious books and from the corrupt conversation of the world?
Are Friends careful to discourage the unnecessary distillation or use of spirituous liquors, frequenting taverns and places of diversion; and to keep in true moderation and temperance on the account of marriages, burials and other occasions?
Are poor Friends necessities duly inspected, and they relieved or assisted in such business as they are capable of. Do their children freely partake of learning to fit them for business: And are they and other Friends children placed among Friends?
Do you maintain a faithful testimony against oaths; an hireling ministry; bearing arms, training, and other military services; being concerned in any fraudulent or clandestine trade; buying or vending goods so imported, or prize goods; and against encouraging lotteries of any kind?
Are Friends careful to live within the bounds of their circumstances, and to keep to moderation in their trade or business: Are they punctual to their promises, and just in the payment of their debts; and are such as give reasonable grounds for fear on these accounts timely laboured with for their preservation or recovery?
Do you take due care regularly to deal with all offenders in the spirit of meekness, without partiality or unnecessary delay, in order for their help; and where such labour is ineffectual, to place judgment upon them in the authority of truth?
Is due care taken to keep a regular record of births and burials?
And in the preparative and monthly meetings, when all the foregoing queries are read and answered, the following advices are to be read with a suitable pause between them:
That no young or single persons make or encourage proposals of marriage with each other without consent of parents or guardians, or keep company with those who are not of our religious society, upon that account; and if parents give their consent to, or connive at their children’s thus keeping company, or marrying, that they be dealt with according to our discipline: And if any of our members have been present at marriages accomplished contrary to the rules of our discipline, that they also be dealt with.
That all public gifts and legacies be strictly applied to the uses intended by the donors; or, if any unforeseen occurrence should render such compliance difficult or impracticable, that an early application be made to the meeting for sufferings for its advice or assistance; and that timely care be taken for the renewal of trusts.
That Friends intending removal be careful to apply for certificates; and that the cases of such who remove without certificates, or of sojourners coming from other places and appearing as Friends, without producing certificates, be properly attended to.
That Friends carefully inspect the state of their affairs once in the year; and make their wills and settle their outward estates whilst in health.
And it is further recommended that in conducting the affairs of our meetings, Friends endeavour to manage them in the peaceable spirit and wisdom of Jesus, with decency, forbearance and love of each other.
The following queries are also to be read, considered and answered once a year, in each monthly and quarterly meeting, and a report thereof made in writing to this meeting: and it is recommended that in answering the query respecting schools, monthly meetings furnish their respective quarters with particular accounts of the situation and circumstance of the several schools within their limits, and that the quarterly meetings convey to this meeting a summary statement thereof.
What ministers and elders deceased, and when?
What new meeting houses built, or new meetings settled?
Are there schools established for the education of our youth, under the care of teachers in membership with us, and superintended by committees appointed either in the monthly or preparative meetings?
Are the queries addressed to the quarterly, monthly and preparative meetings read and answered therein as directed?–1755, 1782, 1806.
QUERIES FOR MEETINGS OF MINISTERS AND ELDERS
IT is also concluded, that of the following four queries, formed for the use of the meetings of ministers and elders, the first three be read and distinctly answered in writing three times in a year, by each preparative meeting of that kind, to its respective quarterly meeting: and that all the said four queries shall be in like manner read and answered, by the preparative to their quarterly meetings next preceding the yearly meeting of ministers and elders; that the quarterly meetings may be enabled to transmit a clear and distinct statement of those answers to that meeting.
Are ministers and elders careful to attend meetings for divine worship, bringing their families with them.
Do they diligently attend meetings for discipline, encouraging such of their families to this duty as are of proper age, and suitable deportment?
Are ministers sound in word and doctrine; careful to minister in the ability which God gives, and thereby kept from burthening the living?
Are the lives and conversation of ministers and elders clean and blameless amongst men: are they in unity one with another, and with the meeting they belong to, harmoniously labouring together for truth’s honour?
Are they good examples in uprightness, temperance and moderation; and careful to train up their families in plainness of dress and simplicity of manners, becoming our religious profession?
And it is earnestly and affectionately recommended, that ministers and elders watch over one another for good, to help those who are exercised in the ministry in the right line, discouraging forward spirits that run into words without life and power, advising against affectation of tones and gestures, and every thing that would hurt their service; yet encouraging
the humble careful traveller; “speaking a word in season to them that are weary.” And let all dwell in that which gives ability to labour successfully in the church of Christ, adorning the doctrine which they deliver to others, being examples of the Believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, and in purity.–1755, 1795, 1806.
Likeness to Christ
This sermon was delivered at the Cherry Street Meeting in Philadelphia, September 30, 1849
“It is time that Christians were judged more by their likeness to Christ than their notions of Christ. Were this sentiment generally admitted we should not see such tenacious adherence to what men deem the opinions and doctrines of Christ while at the same time in every day practise is exhibited anything but a likeness to Christ. My reflections in this meeting have been upon the origin, parentage, and character of Jesus. I have thought we might profitably dwell upon the facts connected with his life, his precepts, and his practise in his walks among men. Humble as was his birth, obscure as was his parentage, little known as he seemed to be in his neighborhood and country, he has astonished the world and brought a response from all mankind by the purity of his precepts, the excellence of his example. Wherever that inimitable sermon on the mount is read, let it be translated into any language and spread before the people, there is an acknowledgement of its truth. When we come to judge the sectarian professors of his name by the true test, how widely do their lives differ from his?
“Instead of going about doing good as was his wont, instead of being constantly in the exercise of benevolence and love as was his practice, we find the disposition too generally to measure the Christian by his assent to a creed which had not its sign with him nor indeed in his day. Instead of engaging in the exercise of peace, justice, and mercy, how many of the professors are arrayed against him in opposition to those great principles even as were his opposers in his day. Instead of being the bold nonconformist (if I may so speak) that he was, they are adhering to old church usages, and worn-out forms and exhibiting little of a Christ like disposition and character. Instead of uttering the earnest protests against the spirit of proselytism and sectarianism as did the blessed Jesus–the divine, the holy, the born of God, there is the servile accommodation to this sectarian spirit and an observance of those forms even long after there is any claim of virtue in them; a disposition to use language which shall convey belief that in the inmost heart of many they reject.
“Is this honest, is this Christ like? Should Jesus again appear and preach as he did round about Judea and Jerusalem and Galilee, these high professors would be among the first to set him at naught, if not to resort to the extremes which were resorted to in his day. There is no danger of this now, however, because the customs of the age will not bear the bigot out in it, but the spirit is manifest, which led martyrs to the stake, Jesus to the cross, Mary Dyer to the gallows. This spirit is now showing itself in casting out the name one of another, as evil, in brother delivering up brother unto sectarian death. We say if Jesus should again appear–He *is* here; he *has* appeared, from generation to generation and his spirit is now as manifest, in the humble, the meek, the bold reformers, even among some of obscure parentage.
“His spirit is now going up and down among men seeking their good, and endeavoring to promote the benign and holy principles of peace, justice, and love. And blessing to the merciful, to the peacemaker, to the pure in heart, and the poor in spirit, to the just, the upright, to those who desire righteousness is earnestly proclaimed, by these messengers of the Highest who are now in our midst. These, the preachers of righteousness, are no more acknowledged by the same class of people than was the messiah to the Jews. They are the anointed of God, the inspired preachers and writers and believers of the present time. In the pure example which they exhibit to the nations, they are emphatically the beloved sons of God. It is, my friends, my mission to declare these things among you at the hazard of shocking many prejudices. The testimony of the chosen servants of the Highest in our day is equally divine inspiration with the inspired teaching of those in former times. It is evidence of the superstition of our age, that we can adhere to, Yea that, we can bow with profound veneration to the records of an Abraham, the sensualist Solomon, and the war-like David, inspired though they many have been, and I am not disposed to doubt it, more than to the equal inspiration of the writers of the present age. Why not acknowledge the inspiration of many of the poets of succeeding ages, as well as of Deborah and Miriam in their songs of victory of Job and David in their beautiful poetry and psalms, or of Isaiah and Jeremiah in their scorching rebukes and mournful lamentations? These are beautifully instructive but ought they to command our veneration more than the divine poetic language of many, very many, since their day, who have uttered truth equally precious? Truth speaks the same language in every age of the world and is equally valuable to us. Are we so blindly superstitious as to reject the one and adhere to the other? How much does this society lose by this undue veneration to ancient authorities, a want of equal respect to the living inspired testimonies of latter time? Christianity requires that we bring into view the apostles of succeeding generations, that we acknowledge their apostleship and give the right hand of fellowship to those who have been and who are sent forth of God with Great truths to declare before the people; and also to practice lives of righteousness, exceeding the righteousness of the scribes and pharisees, and even of the chosen ones of former times. The people in their childish and dark state, just emerging out of barbarism, were not prepared to exhibit all those great principles in the near approach to fullness, to the perfection that is called for at our hands. There is this continued advance toward perfection from age to age. The records of our predecessors give evidence of such progress. When I quote the language of William Penn, “it is time for Christians to be judged more by their likeness to Christ than their notions of Christ,” I offer the sentiment of one who is justly held in great regard if not veneration by this people, and whose writings may be referred to with as much profit as those of the servants of God in former ages; and we may well respect the memory of him and his contemporaries as well as of many not limited to our religious society, who have borne testimony to the truth.
“It is of importance to us, also, to speak of those whom we know, those whose characters we have fuller acquaintance with, than we can have with such as lived in ages past, that we should bring into view the lives of the faithful of our generation.
“Jesus bore his testimony–doing always the things which pleased his Father. He lived his meek, his humble and useful life–drawing his disciples around him, and declaring great truths to the people who gathered to hear him.
“His apostles and their successors were faithful in their day–going out into the world, and shaking the nations around them. Reformers since their time have done their work in exposing error and wrong, and calling for priests of righteousness in place of vain forms. The bold utterances of Elias Hicks and his contemporaries aroused the sectarian and theological world in our day. Their demand for a higher righteousness was not in vain. Their examples of self-denials and faithfulness to duty should be held up for imitation. We overestimate those who have lived and labored in days long past, while we value not sufficiently the labors of those around us, who may have as high a commission as had their predecessors.
“Let us not hesitate to regard the utterance of truth in our age, as of equal value with that which is recorded in the scriptures. None can revere more than I do the truths of the Bible. I have read it perhaps as much as any one present, and, I trust, with profit. It has at times been more to me than my daily food. When an attempt was made some twenty years ago to engraft some church dogmas upon this society, claiming this book for authority, it led me to examine, and compare text with the content. In so doing I became so much interested that I scarcely noted the passage of time. Even to this day, when I open this volume, so familiar is almost every chapter that I can sometimes scarcely lay it aside from the interest I feel in its beautiful pages. But I should be recreant to the principle, did I not say, the great error in Christendom is in regarding these scriptures taken as a whole as the plenary inspiration of God, and their authority as supreme. I consider this as Elias Hicks did one of the greatest drawbacks, one of the greatest barriers to human progress that there is in the religious world, for while this volume is held as it is, and, by a resort to it, war, and slavery, wine drinking, and other cruel, oppressive, and degrading evils are sustained, pleading the example of the ancients as authority it serves as a check to human progress, as an obstacle in the way of these great and glorious reformers that are now upon the field. Well did that servant of God, Elias Hicks, warn the people against an undue veneration of the Bible, or of any human authority, any written record or outward testimony. The tendency of his ministry was to lead the mind to the divine teacher, the sublime ruler, that all would find within themselves, which was above men’s teaching, human records, or outward authorities. Highly as he valued these ancient testimonies, they were not to take the place of the higher law inwardly revealed, which was and should be, the governing principle of our lives. One of our early friends, Richard Davies, attended a meeting of the independents, and heard the preacher express the sentiment that the time would come when Christians would have no more need of the Bible than of any other book. He remarked on this saying of the preacher, “Hast thou not experienced that time already come.” Does not this imply, or may we not infer from this, that our worthy friend has experienced that time already come; was it a greater heresy, than that uttered by the apostle Paul, when he declared that those who had known a birth into the gospel, had no more need of the law? that they were under a higher dispensation than were they who were bound by their statutes and ceremonies? Let us also not hesitate to declare it, and to speak the truth plainly as it is in Jesus, that we believe the time is come when this undue adherence to outward authorities, or to any forms of baptism or of communion of church or sabbath worship, should give place to more practical goodness among men, more love manifested one unto another in our every day life, doing good and ministering to the wants and interests of our fellow beings the world over. If we fully believe this, should we be most honest, did we so far seek to please men, more than to please God, as to fail to utter in our meetings, and whenever we feel called upon to do so in our conversation, in our writings, and to exhibit by example, by a life of non-conformity, in accordance with these views, that we have faith and confidence in our convictions? It needs, my friends, in this day that one should go forth saying neither baptism profiteth anything nor non-baptism, but faith which worketh by love, neither the ordinance of the communion table profiteth anything, nor the absence from the same, but faith which worketh by love. These things should never be regarded as the test of the worshipper. Neither your sabbath observance profiteth anything, nor the non-observance of the day, but faith with worketh by love. Let all these subjects be held up in their true light. Let them be plainly spoken of– and let our lives be in accordance with our convictions of right, each striving to carry out our principles. Then obscure though we may be, lost sight of almost, in the great and pompous religious associations of the day, we yet shall have our influence and it will be felt. Why do we wish it to be felt? Because we believe it is the testimony of truth, and our duty to spread it far and wide. Because the healthful growth of the people requires that they should come away from their vain oblations, and settle upon the ground of obedience to the requirings of truth.
“I desire to speak so as to be understood, and trust there are among you ears blessed that they hear, and that these principles shall be received as the Gospel of the blessed son of God. Happy shall they be, who by observing these, shall come to be divested of the traditions and superstitions which have been clinging to them, leading them to erect an altar “to the unknown God.”
“In the place of this shall an altar be raised where on may be oblations of God’s own preparing. Thus may these approach our Father in Heaven and hold communion with him–entering his courts with thanksgiving, and his gates with praise, even though there may be no oral expression. He may unite in prayer and in praise, which will ascend as sweet incense, and the blessing will come which we can scarcely contain.”
Remarks delivered at the 24th annual meeting of the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society, October 25-26, 1860[Lucretia Mott was glad that the resolution does not sanction the measures resorted to by John Brown, as in contradistinction to those approved by this Society, and by the American organization of which it is a part. Mrs Mott read from the Declaration of Sentiments what she said were her views, and what were at the same time the authorized views of this Society.]
“Our principles lead us to reject and to intreat the oppressed to reject all carnal weapons, relying solely on those which are might through God to the pulling down of strongholds.” We did not countenance force, and it did not become those–Friends and others–who go to the polls to elect a commander-in-chief of the army and navy, whose business it would be to use that army and navy, if needed, to keep the slaves of the South in their chains, and secure to the masters the undisturbed enjoyment of their system–it did not become such to find fault with us because we praise John Brown for his heroism. For it is not John Brown the soldier that we praise; it is John Brown the moral hero; John Brown the noble confessor and martyr whom we honor, and whom we think it proper to honor in this day when men are carried away by the corrupt and pro-slavery clamor against him. Our weapons were drawn only from the armory of Truth; they were those of faith and hope and love. They were those of moral indignation strongly expressed against wrong. Robert Purvis has said that I was “the most belligerent non-resistant he ever saw.” I accept the character he gives me; and I glory in it. I have no idea, because I am a non-resistant, of submitting tamely to injustice inflicted either on me or on the slave. I will oppose it with all the moral powers with which I am endowed. I am no advocate of passivity. Quakerism, as I understand it, does not mean quietism. The early Friends were agitators; disturbers of the peace; and were more obnoxious in their day to charges, which are now so freely made, than we are.[Mrs Mott concluded by expressing her pleasure that the resolution committed the Society to nothing inconsistent with the high moral grounds it had ever occupied. O’Connell had said that no revolution was worth the cost of a single drop of human blood. John Brown had well illustrated in his own case the superiority of moral power to physical power; of the sword of the spirit to the sword of the flesh.]
“National Anti-Slavery Standard,” November 3, 1860
- Of God
- The Lord Jesus Christ
- The Holy Spirit
- The Holy Scriptures
- Man’s Creation and Fall
- Justification and Sanctification
- The Resurrection and Final Judgment
- The Supper of the Lord
- Public Worship
- Prayer and Praise
- Liberty of Conscience in its Relation to Civil Government
- The First Day of the Week
It is under a deep sense of what we owe to Him who has loved us that we feel called upon to offer a declaration of those fundamental doctrines of Christian truth that have always been professed by our branch of the Church of Christ.
We believe in one holy, (Isaiah 6:3, 57:15) almighty, (Genesis 17:1) all-wise, (Romans 11:33, 16:27) and everlasting (Psalms 90:1-2) God, the Father, (Matthew 11:25-27) the Creator (Genesis 1:1) and Preserver (Job 7:20) of all things; and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, by whom all things were made, (John 1:3) and by whom all things consist; (Colossians 1:17) and in one Holy Spirit proceeding from the Father and the Son, (John 15:26, 16:7) the Reprover (John 16:8) of the world, the witness for Christ (John 15:26) and the Teacher, (John 14:26) Guide, (John 16:13) and Sanctifier (2 Thessalonians 2:13) of the people of God; and that these three are one in the eternal Godhead; (Matthew 27:19; John 10:30, 17:21) to whom be honor, praise, and thanksgiving, now and forever. Amen. …
We would express our continued conviction that our Lord appointed no outward rite or ceremony for observance in His church. We accept every command of our Lord in what we believe to be its genuine import, as absolutely conclusive. The question of the use of outward ordinances is with us a question, not as to the authority of Christ, but as to His real meaning. We reverently believe that, as there is one Lord and one faith, so there is, under the Christian dispensation, but one baptism, (Ephesians 4:4-5) even that whereby all believers are baptized in the one Spirit into the one body. (1 Corinthians 12:13, R.V.) This is not an outward baptism with water, but a spiritual experience; not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, (1 Peter 3:21) but that inward work which, by transforming the heart and settling the soul upon Christ, brings forth the answer of a good conscience towards God, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, in the experience of His love and power, as the risen and ascended Savior. No baptism in outward water can satisfy the description of the apostle, of being buried with Christ by baptism unto death. (Romans 6:4) It is with the Spirit alone that any can thus be baptized. In this experience the announcement of the Forerunner of our Lord is fulfilled, “He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire.” (Matthew 3:11) In this view we accept the commission of our blessed Lord as given in Matthew 27:18-20: “And Jesus came to them and spake unto them saying, ‘All authority hath been given unto me in heaven and earth. Go ye, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.'” (R.V.) This commission, as we believe, was not designed to set up a new ritual under the new covenant, or to connect the initiation into a membership, in its nature essentially spiritual, with a mere ceremony of a typical character. Otherwise it was not possible for the Apostle Paul, who was not a whit behind the very chiefest apostle, (2 Corinthians 11:5) to have disclaimed that which would, in that case, have been the essence of his commission when he wrote, “Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the Gospel.” (1 Corinthians 1:17) Whenever an external ceremony is commanded, the particulars, the mode and incidents of that ceremony, become of its essence. There is an utter abscence of these particulars in the text before us, which confirms our persuasion that the commission must be construed in connection with the spiritual power which the risen Lord promised should attend the witness of his apostles and of the church to Him, and which, after Pentecost, so mightily accompanied their ministry of the word and prayer, that those to whom they were sent were introduced into an experience wherein they have a saving knowledge of, and living fellowship with, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Intimately connected with the conviction already expressed is the view that we have ever maintained as to the true supper of the Lord. We are well aware that our Lord was pleased to make use of a variety of symbolical utterances, but He often gently upbraided His disciples for accepting literally what He had intended only in its spiritual meaning. His teachings, as in His parables or in the command to wash one another’s feet, was often in symbols, and ought never to be received in the light of His own emphatic declaration, “The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life.” (John 6:63) The old covenant was full of ceremonial symbols; the new covenant, to which our Savior alluded at the last supper, is expressly declared by the prophet to be “not according to the old.” (Jeremiah 31:32; Hebrews 8:9) We cannot believe that in setting up this new covenant the Lord Jesus intended an institution out of harmony with the spirit of this prophecy. The eating of His body and the drinking of His blood cannot be an outward act. They truly partake of them who habitually rest upon the sufferings and death of their Lord as their only hope, and to whom the indwelling Spirit gives to drink of the fullness that is in Christ. It is this inward and spiritual partaking that is the true supper of the Lord.
The presence of Christ with His church is not designed to be by symbol or representation, but in the real communication of His own Spirit. “I will pray the Father and He shall give you another Comforter, who shall abide with you forever.” (John 14:16) Convincing of sin, testifying of Jesus, taking of the things of Christ, this blessed Comforter communicates to the believer and to the church, in a gracious, abiding manifestation, the REAL PRESENCE of the Lord. As the Great Remembrancer, through whom the promise is fulfilled, He needs no ritual or priestly intervention in bringing the experience of the true commemoration and communion. “Behold,” saith the risen Redeemer, “I stand at the door and knock. If any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come in and sup with him and He with me.” (Revelation 3:20) In an especial manner, when assembled for congregational worship, are believers invited to the festival fo the Savior’s peace, and, in a united act of faith and love, unfettered by any outward rite or ceremonial, to partake together of the body that was broken and of the blood that was shed for them, without the gates of Jerusalem. In such a worship they are enabled to understand the words of the apostle as expressive of a sweet and most real experience: “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we being many are one bread, and one body; for we are all partakers of that one bread.” (1 Corinthians 10:16-17) …
We feel bound explicitly to avow our unshaken persuasion that all war is utterly incompatible with the plain precepts of our divine Lord and Law-giver, and the whole spirit of His gospel, and that no plea of necessity or policy, however urgent or peculiar, can avail to release either individuals or nations from the paramount allegiance which they owe to Him who hath said, “Love your enemies.” (Matthew 5:44; Luke 6:27) In enjoining this love, and the forgiveness of injuries, He who has brought us to Himself has not prescribed for man precepts which are incapable of being carried into practice, or of which the practice is to be postponed until all shall be persuaded to act upon them. We cannot doubt that they are incumbent now, and that we have in the prophetic Scriptures the distinct intimation of their direct application not only to individuals, but to nations also. (Isaiah 2:4; Micah 4:1) When nations conform their laws to this divine teaching, wars must necessarily cease.
We would, in humility, but in faithfulness to our Lord, express our firm persuasion that all the exigencies of civil government and social order may be met under the banner of the Prince of Peace, in strict conformity with His commands.
We hold it to be the inalienable privilege of the discipline of the Lord Jesus that his statements concerning matters of fact within his knowledge should be accepted, under all circumstances, as expressing his belief as to the fact asserted. We rest upon the plain command of our Lord and Master, “Swear not at all;” (Matthew 5:34) and we believe any departure from this standard to be prejudicial to the cause of truth and to that confidence between man and man, the maintenance of which is indispensable to our mutual well being. This command, in our persuasion, applies not to profane swearing only, but to judicial oaths also. It abrogates any previous permission to the contrary, and is, for the Christian, absolutely conclusive. …
(1) The silence we value is not the mere outward silence of the lips. It is a deep quietness of heart and mind, a laying aside of the preoccupation with passing things — yes, even with the workings of our own minds; a resolute fixing of the heart upon that which is unchangeable and eternal. This “silence of all flesh” appears to be the essential preparation for any act of true worship. It is also, we believe, the essential condition at all times of inward illumination. “Stand still in the light,” says George Fox again and again, and then strength comes — and peace and victory and deliverance, and all other good things. “Be still, and know that I am God.” It is the experience, I believe, of all those who have been most deeply conscious of his revelations of himself, that they are made emphatically to the “waiting” soul, to the spirit which is most fully conscious of its inability to do more than wait in silence before him.
(2) …as Friends love to say, our worship does not begin when we sit down together in our public assemblies, nor end when we leave them. The worship in spirit and in truth is in no way limited by time and place. The same idea of waiting “in the silence of all flesh” to hear the voice of the Lord speaking within us, characterizes the Friends’ private times of worship; or, as the more cautious expression is, of “religious retirement.”
Selections from her Quaker Strongholds (1890)
The Process of Mutual Accountability
“Historically mutual accountability provided an internal dynamic to keep gospel order strong within the Quaker community. Friends often referred to this internal dynamic and, indeed, the whole pattern of community life as “church discipline.” The term is difficult for many people to hear today. It rings in contemporary ears with a note of rigidity and punishment. This negative reaction comes in part because of the historical memory of abuses in the handling of church discipline during past eras of Quaker history, especially the era of divisions. This reaction comes also because of the influence of our individualistic society, which is reluctant to establish and uphold corporate standards of living lest they infringe on individual freedom. There is no question that church discipline can become distorted, but it would be a mistake to see these distortions as the essence of the process. It is helpful to realize that discipline is the process of discipling, i.e., acting toward one another as disciples and helping one another become disciples of Christ. Mutual accountability is the lifeblood of the process of discipling.
“The core of the accountability procedure used by Friends came from Jesus’ instructions in Matthew 18. This scripture passage became the backbone of Quaker discipline during the middle period of Quakerism. Matthew 18 recommends going to the person who has sinned and talking to that person in private. If this does not bring an amendment of behavior and a reconciliation between the two parties, Jesus suggests taking one or two others along so they can be present during the conversation. If the person still refuses to listen, then the matter should be brought to the attention of the church. If no repentance is forthcoming, then one should treat the person as a tax gatherer or pagan, i.e., as someone outside the community…
“In gospel order, those gathered into the church-community have a covenant with God. It is a living relationship of trust, listening, and responsiveness to God’s call. They also have a covenantal relationship comprising the same qualities with each other. They are accountable to God and each other for maintaining these relationships. Matthew 18 is an outline of a procedure to embody accountability within a community so that it does not have to use an impersonal, legalistic framework…
“Friends saw mutual admonition as part of a larger process of spiritual guidance and nurture that went beyond the specific advice of Matthew 18 about confronting a person who had sinned. It meant helping each other hear and respond to God’s call. The admonitory aspect of mutual accountability involved all kinds of situations, including helping people to recognize and exercise their gifts, to see where the broken and unfaithful places were in their lives, to overcome paralyzing fears, to discern leadings, and to know when they had outrun or lagged behind their Guide. Thus, admonition was not simply telling others when they were wrong, at least in the way we usually interpret that idea. It was admonishing a person to be courageous in adversity or to undertake a much needed ministry or service. It was encouraging one another to take a risk in trusting God’s leading or letting go of a behavior that was blocking deeper commitment to God. In short, it was helping each other move toward greater faithfulness in all areas of living.”
From Sandra Cronk, Gospel Order: A Quaker Understanding of Faithful Church Community. Pendle Hill Pamphlet 297, 1991.