"I stand only to the Lord in respect of my selfe."
James Nayler, Sauls Errand pg.15 1654

"Let him to whom an Idol is nothing, to whom all shadows, Types and Figures, are come to an end, let him exercise his freedom; yet with all tender love and forbearance to those that see not the same liberty;"
Robert Rich, Hidden Things Brought to Light

God hath a People among them [Quakers], many of whom have long been reviled and falsly accused and slandered, because they have conscientiusly refused to conform to Prescriptions without Conviction
Thomas Crisp, Babels Builders, Preface pg.1, London, 1681

Friday, August 9, 2019

The Relative Propriety of the inshining Light in the Consciences of the Early Gathering of Friends

NOTE: Draft Copy - 8-9-19

Preface

From the earliest days of the gathering of Friends, through the appearance of the Spirit of Christ in their conscience and consciousness, a people testified to witnessing the appearance of inherently sustained Life itself in itself within their conscience and consciousness; so that they were drawn out of the process of being guided and informed by the reflected thoughts of other people and institutions. They were come out of the process of reflective thought to organize and administer human relationships and worship. The impulse of the inherently sustained Presence of Christ was completely sufficient in itself to guide their relations with one another.

There were others from the earliest days the gathering who shared the witness of the inshining Light in their conscience and consciousness, however, they were drawn into and heirs of the process of being guided and informed by outward reflections of other people, practices, and institutions (in and through the Power of God) to help guide their relationships and worship. Their faith was such that they accepted following or being guided by a person or practice in the Light of Christ is different from following a person or practice outside of the Light of Christ which was the nature of contemporary protestantism or catholicism.

In The Journal of George Fox, Fox writes View Passages in Source Document that there were people from the very beginning of the gathering of Friends who were not drawn into the Work or Manifestations (that is, identification with and participation in the outward formalities, ministrations, and institutions which were being established) in the gathering of Friends. The witness or experience of being drawn out of the process of reflective formalities (through the appearance of inherently sustained Presence itself in the conscience) to guide and inform relationships and worship was, according to George Fox, not of the nature of the appearance of the Spirit. These people were run out of the Truth. Some Friends, through the appearance of the Spirit of Christ in their conscience, were drawn out of the dead forms of protestantism and catholicism of the time and into living forms to guide and inform their relationships and worship. Other Friends, through the appearance of the Spirit of Christ in their conscience, were drawn out of all forms (relatively speaking) into the complete sufficiency of the inshining Light itself to guide their relationships and worship. Some on both sides did not affirm the other knew the appearance of or anointing within of the Spirit.

While there was unity concerning the testimony of the appearance of the inshining Light to guide the people gathering, there manifested a disunity relative to the witness or the nature of the experience as it was lived out in daily life. Some in the gathering valued the process of looking to the motion and impulse of the inshining Light in other people and insitutions to guide and inform their relationships and worship. These people promoted and embraced the establishment of reflected prescriptions and institutions that were given in the Spirit through other people. While they denied the outwardly reflected constructs of the leaders and institutions of Protestantism and Catholicism as being out of the Spirit, they affirmed in the dispensation of Friends that the Spirit did reflect through others, so that their reflections, practices, and institutions were of God while that of the Protestants and Catholics were not. The important thing here is that while they denied outwardly reflected forms of Protestantism and Catholicism, they did not deny the process of being guided, affected and informed by the reflections of other people and the institutional forms that were inspired by or set up through the motion and leading of the Spirit in the conscience.

There were others in the gathering who were drawn out of the very process of being guided and informed in their relationships through reflective thought. They did not look to the reflections of others to minister their relationships; resting their faith in the complete sufficiency of the inshining Light itself in itself to guide. Over time, those in the way of complete sufficiency without regard for the helps of outward forms and those in the way of complete sufficiency who regarded outward forms (in the power of God), came to a disunity based upon whether the testimony to the witness of being come out of the reflective process of all helps, instrumentalities, formalities, to guide and inform relationships and worship was of the nature of the anointing of Christ within and the original Quaker dispensation.

It is the intent here is to observe, explore, and discover a people from the earliest days of the gathering of friends who (through the appearance of Christ in their conscience) were drawn out of the process of reflective thought to guide and inform their relationships and worship. Various early quaker texts will be explored to highlight the essential nature of the different inclinations in the shared witness of the appearance of the inshining presence of Christ (or anointing within) which gathered and drew them to connect with people in different ways. Most cross-referenced texts will link to a complete copy of the source document. This will give the reader the chance to engage with and immerse themselves in primary sources based upon their interest. In the first chapter, Quaker writers who spoke out against those in the gathering who were drawn out relation to people through reflected forms, formalities, practices, and other instrumentalities to guide their relationships and worship will be quoted, referenced, and directly linked. The words of those early Friends who spoke out in opposition to the Way of Independence View in Source Document not only can shed light on those they opposed but also on the opposers.

Chapter One

Section One: Stephen Crisp and those whose only “Keeper” is the Light in their Consciences.

In 1666, Stephen Crisp in An Epistle to Friends Concerning the Present and Succeeding Times View Source Document, reflects on some people within the gathering of Friends who have no Keeper but the Measure of Light revealed in their Hearts and Consciences View Passage in Source Document. Crisp lays out the nature of those who are drawn out of relation to outwardly established forms as having no Keeper, that is, they were not kept in relation to outward forms. There are those whose sole and sufficient Keeper is the inherent measure of light in their conscience. That is they are not kept, in the care of, attended, affected by, or in relation to outwardly reflected content (like ministers, teachers, institutions, etc.) to guide and inform their relationships and worship. They testify to the experience of being drawn out of all outward forms (relatively speaking) through the witness or experience of the Light in their hearts and consciences. That is, they are come out of relation to the process of identification with and participation in reflected forms (such as, Meeting at set times, etc.) to guide and inform their relationships, interactions and worship.

This observation by Crisp reveals there were people in the gathering who related to one another differently. They were affected by the appearance of the Spirit within their conscience differently than Crisp and those who share his affection through the impulse of the Spirit. Some people in the gathering were drawn out of affection for outwardly reflected forms.

Section Two: The Queries of Isaac Penington

In 1673, the anonymous writer of Tyranny and Hypocrisy Detected View Source Document published a series of queries laid down (circa 1660?) by Isaac Penington entitled Some Queries in the Power and the Drawings of the Spirit of the Lord View in Source Document. In this set of queries Penington examines the nature of the Quaker ministration of life and reveals an underlying tension in the Quaker gathering.

The first Query View in Source Document considers whether, through the anointing within, life is ministered completely through the inshining guidance of the Spirit and not through the reflective or reasoning process. In one sense, he is asking whether the inshining appearance of the Spirit in the conscience is sufficient in itself to guide and teach without relation to outwardly reflected forms. Penington asks whether the ministration of life in the Quaker gathering draws them completely out of reasoning about or reflective thought and draws them into the impulse of the inshining Spirit to teach.

The second Query View in Source Document considers whether those who initially testified to the sufficiency of direct guidance within ever suggested being guided and informed by identification with the reflections of others or whether they suggested being guided completely by the Spirit within and to only follow the reflections or practices of others when led thereto by the Spirit within. In which case, people may come into unity that is founded upon the impulse of the spirit itself in their conscience and not through affection for the practices of others.

The fifth Query View in Source Document considers whether engaging in the reflective process to guide and inform the conscience by identification with the reflections of others and coming out of direct experience of and focus upon the anointing within does not lead to separation and division? It is not the diversity of practices and prescriptions that causes disunity. It is engaging in and identifying with results of the process of reflective thought to guide and inform relationships and interactions that nurtures division.

These queries are significant as documentation of a distinction of inclinations within the Quaker gathering, from the very beginning, relative to the appearance of the inshining Light of Christ in their conscience.

In 1716, John Pickford relates in his A Charge of Error View Quotation that Penington was so severely censored by others in the Quaker gathering that he eventually disowned these queries which led to some shift in his testimony.

Section Three: Isaac Penington and being Misrepresented.

Penington wrote Some Misrepresentations of me Concerning Church Government (Printed on or around 1675) View Source Document in response to a piece1 by John Pennyman which highlighted certain passages from The Authority and Government which Christ Excluded out of his Church (Printed 1660) View Source Document in such a way that made it look as if Penington was against all church Government which he clearly denies View in Source Document. Penington further reveals a difference inherent in the Quaker gathering. Some people in the gathering (relatively speaking) were come out of all church-government; resting their faith completely in the direct and immediate guidance of the immanent presence of inherent Christ in the conscience without regard for outward instrumentalities, formalities, ceremony, and institutions. This difference was a source of disunity that manifested in the early Quaker gathering when both sides turned their awareness from the life itself in their consciences and asserted their leading (reflective thought) over against the leadings of others in the gathering. Penington, in a revealing passage fromSomewhat Relating to Church Government View Source Document writes about those who mean to say they have grown out of the Church, or out of the Spirit of life of the church View in Source Document. This led to argumentation over the Visible Church and the Invisible Church. For there was indeed a testimony to the witness of being come out of relation to the visible church. William Penn expressed his frustration over those who affirmed such a witness in his response to The Spirit of the Hat View Source Document entitled The Spirit of Alexander the Copper-Smith View Source Document, writing:

There is either such a Thing as a Christian Society, sometimes call’d a Visible Body, or Church, or there is not: If there be not, all is at an end; and why Contend we at all Smith* View in Source Document

Those Quakers who were come out of the visible church would respond with … Exactly, there is no outward thing to contend for, and that is the message.

Penington ends Some Misrepresentations of me … with the proclamation that: And though men are blessedly and gloriously turned, and to be turned to the light within, in these our days; yet they are not thereby taught to neglect or despise the voice of God, in any whom he sends and speaks by … View in Source Document. While Penington’s concern over those who would despise the voice of God in others is valid. It is one thing to caution against despising and opposing the voice of God mediated through others, it is another to proclaim against the testimony of being guided completely by the voice of God within as actually not the voice of God. What about those in the gather who were drawn out of relation to or affection for outwardly reflected forms but who did not speak disparagingly about those in the gathering who did not share such an experience? Penington here lays down a prohibition against the testimony of being come out of the process of being guided and informed by outward teachers or leaders. Penington’s words affirm a different experience of the nature of the Church. It was so different Penington and others in the gathering would eventually come out in opposite to the testimony of being drawn out of all forms. Penington and others who share his experience were fine with opposing and condemning those in the gathering who did not share his experience, however, he and others did not take well to those they opposed coming out in opposition to them.

Penington draws a line of demarcation in his essay Somewhat Relating to Church Government (published in or around 1678) View Source Document that is a response to Jeffery Bullock’s Antichrist’s Transformation Within Discovered By The Light Within (published in or around 1678). He writes that, if Bullock’s experience has led him out of identification with the visible church, then such must be denied View Passage in Source Document. He also writes that such a testify to being come out of being guided and informed by relation to outward instrumentalities must be condemned View Passage in Source Document.

Penington writes in The Authority and Government which Christ Excluded out of the Church View Source Document about a wrong thing that is got up in those who are in The Way of Independency View Passage in Source Document. He uses a similar phrase another thing in Some Queries Concerning the Order and Government of the Church of Christ View Source Document concerning those who are come out of the process of identification with and participation in visible Quaker practices and institutions through the experience of the anointing within as sufficiency or complete in itself to guide and inform their relationships. Such a testimony to a spiritual witness is of another nature and (according to Penington) it is not the intent of the Spirit in the Vessel, but to cry itself up, and to make its Voice go for the Voice of the Measure of Life. View Passage in Source Document. It is interesting and curious that even those who know the complete sufficiency of the anointing within itself in itself to guide and inform their relationships and worship would agree with Penington only from a different perspective. To setup the voice of the spirit within the conscience in a particular Vessel as The Voice which all should adhere to, would certainly be a usurpation of the motion and impulse of the anointing within other vessels.

John Wilkinson and John Story and their Letter of Satisfaction

Indeed, some of those who were come out of all forms and practices of the visible church to guide their relationships would assert that all True Children of Light must forego the process of identification with and participation in the formalities of the visible church. However, it is not likely they were of the generality. One example is found in The Exalted Diostrephes Reprehended View Source Document wherein is printed a letter of condescension by John Wilkinson and John Story View in Source Document (The subscribers to The Exalted Diostrophes Reprehended refer to the letter as The Paper of Condemnation) to a group of Quakers who expressed their concerns that they were causing disunity in the Quaker gathering.

In the Letter of Satisfaction, John Story and John Wilkinson recognize and condemn (in anyone) a spirit that opposes the practices of some Friends who find those practices of the visible church commendable. They apologize for and acknowledge being influenced by a spirit (entering into the reflective process) that opposed the practices that others found helpful and instrumental to guide and inform their relationships and worship. They were not, however, apologizing for the testimony of being come out of all forms through the experience of the complete sufficiency of the anointing within their conscience. They were convicted in their conscience that they had wrongly opposed and judged others who did not share their experience and (more to the point) they had got up into the process of reflective thought (reflecting negative or evil intentions) to guide and inform their relationships with others in the gathering which manifested a Jealous spirit that was want to impose their experience on the conscience of others. For it is not the being come out of all forms that guides and informs, it is the unmediated experience of the inherent and inshining Light itself in their conscience. Wilkinson and Story recognize this.

This is an example of the nature of the inherent appearance of the Spirit of Christ itself in itself in the conscience. Wilkinson and Story recognize they and other Friends had, at times, usurped the prerogative of the Spirit itself in itself in the conscience to guide people in their relationships and interactions by imposing the reflective thought of the necessity of being come out of all formalities to guide their relationships certainly risked leading people into a reflected form rather than giving way to the Spirit itself in itself to guide in others.

Penington shows agreement with Wilkinson and Story that this tendency toward contention among those in the Way of Independency was notional View in Source Document or come through the reflective thought process rather than unmediated spiritual experience. The testimony of being come out of all forms can be idolatrous when the notion becomes a rule rather the unmediated experience of Christ’s inherently sustained consciousness.

Section 3: Asserting the Visible Church and Established Forms over the Invisible Church

In 1666, the tension between inclinations in the gathering of Friends led to the publication of 2A Testimony from the Brethren, who were Met Together at London in the third Month, 1666, to be Communicated to Faithful Friends and Elders in the Counties, by them to be read in their Several Meetings, and Kept as a Testimony amongst them View Source Document. The subscribers of this testimony included Richard Farnsworth, George Whitehead, and Stephen Crisp. This document suggests the sidelining (suppressing the influence) of those who testified to the witness of being come out of relation to the Church or Body of Friends or those who divide from or who experienced exaltation above the Body of Friends to guide and inform their relationships, interactions, and worship through the appearance of the immanent presence of the Spirit of Christ in their conscience and consciousness. There was agreement among those subscribers that Friends in the gathering who had experienced being drawn out of identification with and participation in the outward godly prescriptions and practices to guide and inform their conscience should be censored to suppress their influence over those who participate in and identify with the visible Church. There was manifest a divided Spirit between those who recognized unity through uniformity and those who recognized unity in diversity relative to outward instrumentalities. The anonymous writer of The Spirit of the Hat wrote in 1673 that:

In the true Church, Unity stands in diversities; But in the false, Unity will not stand without Uniformity. And it is greatly to be lamented how that very many will do nothing without the Authority of the Body, though it be never so clear in them; and this sets up the Body above Christ. View in Source Document

There came a time that many in the gathering of Friends became unwilling to forebear those in the gathering who did not share their affection for the outward formalities which were being established and conversely from the other side. The core or essential driver of this suppression was a frustration between those who testified to the witness or experience the inherently sustained presence of Christ in their conscience and consciousness drew them out of the process (relatively speaking) of being guided by reflective thought concerning matters of relationships and worship. This was essentially not a disagreement over the best formalities and practices to guide the gathering. It was over whether the process of identification with and participation in outward formalities to guide the gathering of Friends was of the nature of Friend’s witness or experience … whether such an experience is of the nature of the anointing within.

The anonymous writer of The Spirit of the Hat, like Penington, also sets up a line of demarcation suggesting that the false Church or Body seeks to reflect formalized unity through outward uniformity. It is one thing to suggest that some people are led to seek and practice uniformity by identification with outward formal practices and institutions of the Body while others are drawn out. It is another to suggest such unity through uniformity to outward institutional structure is false. Both sides attempt to characterize (or reflect upon the other - engage in reflective thought) as evil or flawed. The Wilkinson and Story letter View in Source Document, considered above, suggests such a turning into reflective thought to relate to others is concerning and is the beginning of disunity, contention, and strife.

Section 4: George Fox and Concorporation with perspective from Stephen Crisp

George Fox writes in Saul’s Errand to Damascus View Source Document that early Quakers forborne to concorporate in parochial assemblies, wherein they profess themselves to have gained little of the knowledge of Jesus Christ. View in Source Document. During the first century of the Friends gathering, there were those Quakers who did not value (relatively speaking) concorporation or uniting in mass under the formal religious structures of the period. So they came together outside of the contemporary religious institutions. There were those early Quakers who (relatively speaking) did not value meeting together under any set formal structures; even set times and places for worship. They were come out of relating to worship in the context of set outwardly established formalities. Stephen Crisp wrote an epistle reflecting upon, and critical of, those in the gathering of Friends who did not engage in formalities entitled An Epistle from Stephen Crisp to Friends against such as cry against the Form of Godliness, as against Meeting at set time, on First Days, etc. View Source Document. He represented those Friends who valued outward forms; just not the dead forms laid down by contemporary protestant and catholic institutions.

Crisp writes that the Ministers of Righteousness have professed one Doctrine and have sought to establish the gathering of Friends in both the Power and Form of the Truth View Passage in Source Document. To be drawn out of the forms the Minister of Righteousness have established is to be out of the Power according the Crisp. There is a direct link between the Power and the Form according to the Ministers of Righteousness. However, according to others in the gathering of Friends it was the Power itself in itself that was their guide and which drew them out of participation in and identification with all Formalities.

Crisp admonishes and encourages his readers to meet together according to the prescribed times and places that have been established to come into the Presence of God View Passage in Source Document. This admonishment is in contrast to those in the gathering who were drawn out of set times and places to meet as a result of the Presence of God in their consciences.

Crisp further contrasts those in the Power and Form of Truth with those whose sole Keeper is the Power itself in itself by distinguishing those in the sole propriety of the Life itself in itself as people who promise a further Glory, higher Dispensations, new Discoveries under the Pretence of leading out of Formality into the Power View Passage in Source Document.3 The intention here of Crisp is to undermine the testimony to the witness of the sole propriety of the Life itself in itself to guide and inform relationships and worship.

The writer of The Spirit of the Hat responses to those who profess and promote participation in and identification with outward formalities in the gathering of early Friends this way:

And because a further Dispensation is not relished by the Elders, the which they hide from the Inferiours, lest their glory should be eclipsed, and draw the rest from dependence upon them: They content themselves with this limited Ministration, and set up Tabernacles here for their Residence; which is above, and beside the Spirit of the Lord’s teaching, which leads us to know and follow the Lord. These are they that stop Israels travel out of all appearances, which his Spirit leads not to; These are they that lay stumbling blocks in the way of their Journey; … View Passage in Source Document4

Fox also was one who valued outward formal structure. Over time, George Fox, and those who shared his conviction, began to institutionalize the gathering. Those who were come out of (relatively speaking) the very process of gathering around any formal structure and who testified to their sole habitation in the inshining Light itself in their conscience, forbore (relatively speaking) from the institutions George Fox was setting up. Both the establishment of institutional forms and a conscience against coming into them caused tension in the gathering; especially when either side or both professed their inclination to be the true way of Friends.

George Fox writes in his journal that he knew, the Devil would bestir himself in his Instruments, when Men’s and Womens Meetings came to be setup … I did not expect, but that there would be an Opposition against such Meetings View in whole journal entry. Here Fox affirms the establishment of institutional structure in the form of Meetings where there once were none in the gathering. Also, that he was surprised that there were some Quakers in the Gathering who would not identify with or participate in the Meeting structure that was being established. This affirms that while George Fox spoke out against gathering in the protestant and catholic institutions of the time, he was not against concorporating into outward or visible formalities as a practice in itself. The issue wasthat the religious formalities of the time were out of the Spirit. About those who opposed such outwardly established formalities, Fox writes such opposition against forms and practices others find helpful is a problem and they are out of the Power of God. It is valid to hold concern over people in the gathering who were, in their opposition, seeking to undermine the forms others were establishing through the impulse of the inshining Light in their conscience. Fox states such people in the gathering are blind and darkened. View in Journal Entry. What of those Quakers in the gathering who did not come out in direct opposition to new forms being established in the gathering but who did not identify with and participation in them as a result of the power of God in their conscience leading them out of the process if participation in and identification with any outward formalities?

In Concerning those that go out of unity and deny forms (published in 1669) View Source Document, Fox makes a correlation between denying all true forms and being out of the power of God. This implies the testimony to the witness of being drawn out of all forms (even True forms) is an indication of being out of the power of God. Fox further suggests such people are out of the very bonds of humanity. The implication here is that being drawn out of all all forms and making no distinction5 between good and bad or true and false forms (to mash them all together) shatters the very glue of that which is the bond of civil men and women. The fabric being the process of identification with and participation in true reflected forms and comely or gospel order. This ties in somewhat with Penington’s characterization of being out of the Spirit of the Church. Both phrases are important. Exploring them reveals a sense that for Fox, Penington, and others in the gathering of Friends, there is an absolute connection between identification with outward forms and civil unity and church organization. This was not the inclination of those who were draw out of all form through the appearance of the inshining light in their conscience. They were actually come out of the process of being bond together by reflected forms. They were bond together and related to one another through their shared experience of inherent Presence itself in itself in their conscience and consciousness.

In 1778, Fox wrote a paper stating that those who deny Prescriptions without distinction, and deny Prescriptions given forth by the Power and Spirit of God, do thereby oppose the Spirit that gave them forth in all the Holy men of God View in Source Document. Care should be used concerning this statement. What does Fox mean to say here? Is he saying that the testimony to the experience of being come out of identification with and participation in all prescriptions and human mediators through the appearance of Christ in their conscience is denial of, and opposition to, the Spirit which would mean he is also making the statement the testimony to coming out of all forms is not of the nature of Christ inshining upon conscience? Is this a condemnation of those in the Quaker gathering who experienced being drawn out of the process of identification with and participation in outward prescription and practice and human reflections to guide there relationships? It is true, they were come out of relating to people through the reflections or mediations of other people even those inspired by the Spirit. Through the appearance of the inshining Light in their conscience, they were drawn out of (relatively speaking) the very nature of the reflective process to guide their relationships and interactions with others people. It was the process itself they were drawn out of; it is understandable they made no distinction between specific prescriptions.

Section 5. George Foxes' Sleepless Night over those in the Gathering whose only guide is the Inshining Light itself in itself in the conscience and consciousness.

One night in 1677, while in Amsterdam, Fox found himself unable to sleep over concern about those Quakers who would under the pretence of crying down men destroy the Government of Christ and Order of the Gospel and set up their own and to cry up themselves and their own order which is not of God. They would set people on float above their conditions. Under the pretense of crying down men is a reference to the testimony of coming out of being guided and informed through people and institutions as mediators. It is understandable why Fox would have concerns over a people in the gathering who testified to being drawn out of the process of identification with and participation in all outward forms (including the mediations of instrumentalities and ministrations of men) to guide their relationships and worship. To one who has set about the mission of drawing and establishing the gathering into a particular set of prescriptions, practices, ceremonies, etc. which were recommended { View Passages by Fox concerning God’s Recommendations to Him} to him by God, those Friends who were come out of all formalities were problematic on an organization scale; they undermined the established forms and good order of God which are the formal impressions of God laid down through God’s mediators.

The phrase on float is revealing; eliciting the image of ship with no formal impression to guide it; suggesting they have no dock to lash onto because they are come out of being guided and informed by the true or outward godly order. John Wilkinson, in a response View Passage in Source Document to one of seven queries (published in The Christian Quaker by William Rogers, 1680.) which asked of him whether Wilkinson had advised That the Way of Truth should be as the Way of a Ship in the Sea; or such-like? Wilkinson replied: Nay: But if they mean no Impression of Form left behind, I like it well. While denying he wrote and spoke such advice, Wilkinson affirms his affinity for the sense that a ship leaves no trace (impression) of its path through the water. Whereas, the sense of the query is one of being identified with a particular path or port. In one simple reply Wilkinson juxtaposes his sense with that of those who wrote the query. In essence establishing he is come into being guided in his relationships and interactions without outward formal impressions laid out before him or laying down impressions himself for others to follow. Those who wrote the query, reveal a need or valuation for following the impressions of others or to leave their own impressions, to guide their relationships and worship. Wilkinson reveals a different sense in his answer which is not of the nature of formal impressions. Also, notice he speaks of form in general and makes no distinction. Yet, direct and unmediated experience of the immanent presence of Christ in their conscience that is itself in itself their invisible impression.

Fox writes in Concerning those that go out of unity and deny forms (published in 1669) View Source Document that there is a godly form.

For there is a form of godliness, and there is a form of sound words; many have a form. All creatures have a form, the earth hath a form, and all things were brought into a form by the power of God; for the earth was once without form, and was void, and empty and confused. View Passage in Source Document

Fox asserts that he is not of the same spirit as those who are come out of all forms.

John Perrot among those who did not distinguish between prescriptions.

John Perrot, in a letter (circa 1665), wrote that he did not relate to people as good or bad so that he may know the immanent presence of God in everyone View in Source Document. He wrote further in the same letter that he sees no evil thing as evil and would cease upbraiding people so that his Rest may be found in the Lord View in Source Document. This is a piece of primary documentation affirming Foxes' contention there were Quakers in the gathering who made no distinction between good and bad prescriptions. Perrot, (and those in the gathering who shared his witness) was testifying to an inclination, through the impulse of the inshining Spirit, of not distinguishing between good or bad people or prescriptions. For the outward act of not distinguishing between prescriptions is an indication of a different experience at the very core of conscience and consciousness. People no longer related to one another through reflective consciousness; they experienced being come out of relation to people and worship through the reflective process. Fox sensed this being drawn out of reflective thought in people like Perrot and it kept him up at night with worry and concern. Penington also discovered this another or wrong thing that had got up into some Quakers. Even though both condemned people who were draw out of reflective thought to guide their conscience and consciousness, Penington’s reflections are a mirror into the state of those who were so inclined by the impulse of the Spirit within out of all forms. For Penington writes, though they are in another thing which is of Death, they do not see it as such. Rather, they look upon themselves as gloriously living View in Source Document. Penington accounts those who were come out of reflective thought in relation to other people as very happy and fulfilled.

Imagine what it would be like for Fox, and those in the gathering who shared his experience, to realize there is a people amongst them who testify to being come out of all forms, whether Godly or otherwise, to guide their relationships and worship. Surely, the response that they are on float and without a port of anchor to guide their relationships and interactions is completely understandable. Remember, Fox was surprised by those in the gathering of Friends who would not follow him into the godly forms he was establishing under the recommendation of God.

Fox shares further frustration in writing that he doesn’t even have the words to properly express View in Source Document the nature of those who testify to being come out of all forms to guide their relationships and worship and so who did not identify with and participate in (relatively speaking) the new godly forms or godly Order Fox and others were establishing among the gathering of Quakers through the power and recommendation of God. Fox and many others in the gathering related to the new forms being established in the light of Christ; in such a way they were heirs to these godly forms and practices through the appearance of the Spirit of Christ in their hearts. For other Friends in the gathering to testify to the witness that, through the inshining Spirit of Christ, they were come out of all forms and made no distinction between godly and ungodly forms was rejection of their heritage in the light of Christ and finally, rejection of Christ himself. In the same way, the establishment of outward forms and practices to guide and inform the people in the gathering and their relationships and worship surely would have struck those who were come out of all forms through the impulse of the inshining Light as a turning away from the very foundation of their relationship with God and between themselves. William Rogers expresses it as a turning back to that which God has led them him out of View in Source Document or in other words View in Source Document. To the extent that the new forms were reflected upon as of the very nature of the Quaker experience, and to the extent that being come out of all forms was reflected upon as essential to the Quaker experience is the extent to which conflict and contention manifested.

Nathaniel Smith, in circa 1669, wrote The Quakers Spiritual Court Proclaimed View Source Document. In this document he writes, that while most groups eventually organized around a certain set of Laws to govern and rule over one another, the Quakers were the only people to speak out against the process of organizing around outwardly reflected forms (laws) to guide and inform their relationships View Passage in Source Document. Rather they kept their habitation in the anointing within the conscience to guide the people in the gathering without regard for outwardly set up rules and prescriptions. Smith may be overstating his case here in suggesting all Quakers spoke out against the process of establishing outward rules to govern the gathering. However, Smith’s words are further confirmation there were people in the early Quaker gathering who did not seek the establishment of outward rules to govern the gathering.

The extent of the tension between the godly Formalists and the Unestablished is revealed in the relationship between Fox and Nayler. Various Passages in The Journal of George Fox manifest a compelling narrative. Here is an example:

Now after I had tarried some time in London, and had visited Friends in their Meetings there, I went out of Town again; leaving James Nailer in the City. And as I passed from him, I cast my Eyes upon him , and a Fear struck into me concerning him: But I went away …6 1655.

But James Nayler and some of them could not stay the meeting but kept on their hats when I prayed. And they were the first that gave that bad example amongst Friends. So after I had been warring with the world, now there was a wicked spirit risen up amongst Friends to war against.7 1656.

The next day I spake to James Nayler again ; and he slighted, what I said, and was dark, and much out : yet he would have come, and kissed me. But I said, ‘Since he had turned against the Power of God , I could not receive his shew of Kindness’: So the Lord God moved me to slight him , and to set the Power of God over him.8 1656.

James run out into Imaginations, and a Company with him; and they raised up a great Darkness in the Nation.9 1656.

There were some, that had run out with James Naylor, that did not come to Meetings, to whom I sent Word , That the Day of their Visitation was over: and they never prospered after.10 1657.

Fox reflects upon Nayler and his company as being out of or against the Power of God. He draws a connection between the Power of God and ceremonial acts. Not removing their hats during prayer or not attending established Meetings, etc. was mark of being out of the Power of God. Some twenty years after the quotes above Fox (quoted in The Christian Quaker by William Roger) , writing to John Wilkinson in 1676, tells of those who would destroy Men’s and Women’s Meeting or who were come out of outward form View Passage in Source Document. As alluded to earlier, the formal or ceremonial godly or comely order, practices, and prescriptions Fox institutionalized into the gathering of Friends were part of the heritage of Friends through the Power of God. These forms were the gathering of Friends' inheritance through their coming into the power of God in their conscience. In the same letter to Wilkinson, Fox writes of the Quakers formalities as their inheritance View Passage in Source Document. For Fox, the act of not respecting or adhering to the comely forms Friends inherited through the Power of God was a rejection of the Power of God itself. The testimony to the witness from many in the gathering of Friends was of being drawn out of all formalities (or of not coming into formalities until convicted in the conscience) to guide and inform their relationships, interactions, and worship. It is the actual testimony to the experience of being drawn out of all forms (relatively speaking) through the presence of God within their conscience and consciousness that is the source of Fox’s concern with some Friends and his war against that wicked spirit risen up among Friends. Those Friends who, through the appearance of the inherent Life itself in itself of Christ in their conscience and consciousness, were drawn out of all outward formalities, ceremonies, prescriptions, and practices (whether Godly or Ungodly) would not come into their inheritance and are, by default, out of the Power of God and, according to George Fox, the Day of their Visitation was over. That is, God is no longer shining upon their conscience. Essentially, Fox asserts that the appearance of God in the conscience does not draw human being out of all forms … Echoing Pennington:

But that which pretends to ſet up the meaſure of Life as a Teacher, otherwiſe than God hath appointed, and in oppoſition to the Teaching and Miniſtry which he hath appointed, and to his Gift in thoſe Veſſels, which is as well for the building up and perfecting of the Body, as for the gathering: That is another thing in that Veſſel that doth ſo, than the meaſure of Life; another Spirit, another Nature, another Ear than that, that firſt heard. And though it ſeem to cry up the ſufficiency of the meaſure of Life, and to plead for that (and perhaps the creature thinks it is really ſo: yet that is not the intent of the Spirit in the Veſſel, but to cry up itſelf, and to make its voice go for the Voice of the Meaſure of Life : and ſo ſuch err from the Faith, the Truth, the Spirit, the meaſure of Life, and are in the nature, ſpirit and meaſure of another thing, which is indeed Death, though they ſee it not, but look upon themſelves as gloriouſly living, and abiding in the pure Doctrine and Principle above others. View Passage in Source Document.

A Telling Moment from the anonymous writer of The Spirit of the Hat, 1673.

The writer of The Spirit of the Hat, in 1673, tells of when George Fox altered the meaning of a sentence in a letter originally written by George Fox:

One of the most eminent Ministers amongst them, being of a moderate spirit, writ as in the name of the Lord, judging both those that kept the Hat off or on, in a wilful, opposite, contentious spirit; But as for those that kept it off, or on, as to the Lord, those he nor the Spirit of the Lord did not judg, or words to this purpose: he blotted out a line or more, and write over it clearly another sense, to wit, That he did judg those that kept it on, and not those that kept it off; and John Whitehead, who writ the Letter, knew not of it. View in Source Document

The writer of Tyranny and Hypocrisy Detected also mentions the event:

This great Prophet (I say) is charg’d by our Author with opening Letters and altering the Contents, that he took a Letter of John Whiteheads (a most eminent Minister among the Quakers) which was writ by him (as he said) in the name of the Lord, and blotted out a line or more, and wrote or caused to be {Page 20} writ, to a quite contrary sense, to wit, That he did judge those that kept the Hat on, and not those that kept it off, (or words to this effect) whereas John Whitehead did therein justify both those that kept it off or on, &c View in Source Document. This letter was (as I am informed) sent into Holland to the Quakers there, which comming to the hands of Benj. Furly, he discovered the forgery, and it was sent back again; and being complained of at a private Meeting by John Osgood, William Penington and John Pennyman &c. And John Bolton putting on’t to John Whitehead, whether he did not give G. Fox liberty to alter it, said, No, not any liberty to alter a substance, which he said that was, and at another time said he was abused therein, &c. Let the world see by this Instance from what Spirit it is these men speak and write in the name of the Lord, when they can so flatly contradict one another!

In his response to Tyranny and Hypocrisy Detected entitled Judas and the Jews Combined Against Christ, William Penn also mentions the event in this way:

In pag. 19, 20. of the Spirit of the Hat’s Tyranny and Hypecrisie, and in page 32. in all those pages is mentioned John Whitehead’s Paper, and G. F. is charged with opening J. Whitehead’s Letter, which was writ by him, which is a Lye, and a Forgery; for G. F. did not open the Letter, but it was sent Open, only Enclosed to another, and left to G. F. and other Friends to dispose of, as J. W’s Testimony under his own Hand (before going) doth testifie: And therefore here you may see what sort of Men these are, that forge such Lyes upon G. F. And that which he left to G. F. and others to alter, was the Matter concerning Wearing the Hat in Prayer; for that was the Matter then in Controversie (and not Other things) which he wrote to you; For the Spirit of the Prophets is to be subject to the Prophets. View Passage in Source Document

Penn also published George Whitehead’s response:

WHereas the Author of the aforesaid Pamphlet doth charge that Faithful Servant of God G. F. with the Opening and Altering a Letter written by me, against my Consent; I declare, That both he and his Author have Malitiously Slandered G. F. in that Case; for I ordered W. Kerby by a Letter, wherein that Letter was Inclosed and UNSEALED, to shew it to George Fox, and the rest of the Brethren in Town, that he or they might dispose of it as they saw a Service for Truth. And it was written as a Testimony against that Spirit, which would have brought in the Wearing of the Hat in Prayer, and not to Justifie that Unheard of Practice in the Church; for I ever Condemned it in my Heart, and bore my Testimony against it, knowing the Spirit of the Lord did not lead into it, though I had a Tenderness to those who intended well, and had their Simplicity betrayed by the subtil Workings of that Spirit of Error, which I witnessed against, and Laboured not in Vain to pluck them as Brands out of the Fire of Contention, that with the Light of Christ they might see whither they were going; and several did see the Error of their Way, and Returned.

And if any have been so bad, as to Mis-apply my Words, and Harden their own Hearts through my Tenderness, the Hurt will be their own, and I shall be Clear in the Day of God, though now I am Evilly Requited by those, who {Page 68} to their own Hurt give and receive Information against me, (as if I Acted or Lived Wantonly) like those which said, Come, let us Smite him with the Tongue; Report, and we will Report it: But my Innocency in that Case, without further Defence, is my sufficient Refuge from the Slanderous Tongues of these Ungodly Men; And through the Grace of God, whereby I am taught Sobriety and Godliness in this World, I can and do say, The Lord forgive them. View in Source Document

John Whitehead.

This episode is telling in that George Fox gives people in the gathering permission to enter into the process of reflective thought by judging and asserting certain practices and prescriptions over against the conscience of others in the gathering. There is one thing agreed upon in this episode. That George Fox altered the original sense of Whitehead’s words. The alteration changed the sense away from condescension and forebearance between differing practices to condemnation of one over the other. Yet Fox’s alteration goes deeper. It is an assertion of the process of reflective thought over the impulse of inherent Presence itself in the conscience of others who are out of the propriety of outward form in relationships and worship. In other words, it is the assertion of outwardly reflected thoughts, prescriptions, and practices (formal impressions) to guide and inform the conscience of others over the impulse of the inherently sustained presence of Christ in the conscience without regard for any outward formalities.

The writings of early institutionalized Friends antagonistic toward non-institutionalized Friends in the gathering documents distinct spiritual inclinations (relatively speaking) among early Friends. Among those inclinations were those Friends who were drawn out of (through the impulse of the inshining Light) the very process of the reflective nature to guide their relationships, interactions, and worship. This spirit which would not come into outward formalities was a source of concern for those early Friends who, while drawn out of the dead formalities of the protestantism and catholicism of the time, were drawn into a godly or comely (as oppose too ungodly or uncomely) set of formalities through God’s recommendations. The testimony to the witness or experience of resting completely in the inherent impulse of Life itself in itself in the conscious and consciousness to guide relationships, interactions, and worship and being drawn out of the reflective process in relation to people was foreign to many early Friends or, if not foreign, was understood to be not of the nature of the gathering of Friends dispensation. However, others in the gathering testified to it as essential to their fellowship as Friends.


  1. Penington may be responding to Pennyman’s This is for the People called Quakers. Being a Collection of several Passages taken out of Isaac Penington’s, Edward Burrough’s, and other Men’s writings. Whereunto are added Three Letters sent to some of the said People, By John Pennyman. 1675.

  2. A document from Hartford that was not well received by Friends is mentioned in The Spirit of the Hat View Passage in Source Document. William Penn, in his response to The Spirit of the Hat, entitled The Spirit of Alexander the Copper-Smith View Passage in Source Document published a letter subscribed by three people who deny the existence of such a paper. Then the anonymous writer of Tyranny and Hypocrisy Detected in response to Penn’s The Spirit of Alexander the Copper-Smith suggested View Passage in Source Documentation the writer of The Spirit of the Hat was merely mistaken and was referencing this 1666 paper from london. This prompted William Penn, in his response to Tyranny and Hypocrisy Detected, entitled, Judas and the Jews Combined to publish a response from Henry Stout View Passage in Source Document.

  3. Of the higher Dispensations, reference these passages from The Spirit of the Hat. XR5008, XR5333, XR3575

  4. The writer’s characterization of the motives behind those who profess the propriety of outward forms is not the matter relative to this article. The value of the writer’s words is the extent to which they document or represent people in the early days of the gathering of Friends who testified to the witness of coming out of all appearances, which his Spirit leads not to. The further dispensation is one of coming out of all appearances (relatively speaking).

  5. Reference John Perrot’s words in An Epistle for the most Pure Amity and Unity View Passage in Source Document

  6. Journal of G.F. (Ellwood edition) Part 1, pg.295. London. 1709.

  7. Journal of G.F. (Nickalls edition) pg. 268. Cambridge. 1952.

  8. Journal of G.F. (Ellwood edition) Part 1, pg. 374. London. 1709.

  9. Journal of G.F. (Ellwood edition) Part 1. Pg. 374.

  10. Journal of G.F. (Ellwood edition) Part 1, pg. 415.

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