To all that would know the way to the Kingdom, whether they be in Forms, Without Forms, or Got above all Forms.

In 1655 a tract was publish entitled “To all that would know the way to the Kingdom, whether they be in forms, Without Forms, or Got above all Forms ...” Authorship was “Given forth by those whom the world in scorn calls Quakers.” This usually means there were multiple people who contributed to the writing of the tract. In 1706 a compilation of some of George Fox’s writings was published under the title “Gospel-Truth Demonstrated, in a Collections Of Doctrinal Books, Given forth by that Faithful Minister of Jesus Christ, George Fox ...” A portion of the tract published in 1655 is published in this compilation and authorship is attributed to George Fox. In the marginal note the original publishing date is indicated as 1653. I have not been able to find, at this time, a copy of this tract published in 1653. The 1831 “Works of George Fox” republished the truncated tract under the same compilation “The Gospel Truth Demonstrated ...” Both the 1706 and 1831 versions of the tract seem to match one another in content. However, there are significant and meaningful differences between the 1655 text and the 1706 text. I am going to use the occasion of this post to highlight and discuss those differences and alterations. I have keyboarded the entire 1655 version and published it below. You can view the facsimile of the original 1655 text here: https://books.google.com/books?id=l3VmAAAAcAAJ&pg=PA19&dq=T...

And the 1706 “The Gospel Truth Demonstrated ...” here: https://books.google.com/books?id=gWo9AQAAMAAJ&printsec=frontco...

Both texts can be downloaded from the respective pages. The tract “To all that would know ...” is found on page one of in the “Gospel Truth Demonstrated ...”

Please note: I have tried to keyboard the 1655 tract of “To all those who would know the way to the Kingdom ...” without changing the topography, spelling, or punctuation to modern standards.

Finally, I have found two recent instances of Quakers discussing this tract. One is by Stuart Masters and can be found here: http://aquakerstew.blogspot.com/2014/06/k-is-for-kingdom-and-all-wh...

Another is by Ellis Hein and can be found here: https://thiswasthetruelight.wordpress.com/2017/07/31/spirituality-w...

Both use the 1831 compiliation of Fox’s works wherein the truncated version of the tract is publish in vol. 4. They make no mention of the 1655 version.

My comments will be from my reading of the 1655 version and the 1706 rendering of the text published under “The Gospel Truth Demonstrated ...”

Please find the full 1655 tract publish below. I will highlight the differences between the texts in the comments section as time permits.


Begin 1655 Text —

To all that would Know the WAY TO THE KINGDOME,


Whether they be In Forms, Without Forms, or Got above all Forms


A Direction to turn your minds within, Where the voice of God is heard, whom whom you ignorantly worship as afar off; and To wait upon him for the true Wisdom.


That you may know Truth from Errour, the Word from the Letter, the Power from the Form, And the true Prophets from the false.


Given forth by those whom the world in scorn calls QUAKERS.


Printed at London, 1655.

Keyboarded from original 2017 by Keith Saylor

kfsaylor@gmail.com

A warning to all sorts of people who live in sin and uncleanness, For the wicked must be turned into hell, and all that forget God: And who are workers of iniquity are accursed from Christ: for saith he, Go ye cursed, ye workers of iniquity into utter darkness.

I am the light of the world, and enlightens every one that cometh into the world: Christ hath enlightened every one that comes into the world; thou that loveth that light, which Christ hath enlightened thee withall, thou brings thy works to the Light, that thy deeds may be proved that they are wrought in God; and he that walks in the light, there is no occasion of stumbling in him, it teacheth righteousness and holiness, it will keep thee from lying, and not let thee lye, and keep thee in tenderness of conscience towards God and man, and never let thee swear, it will check thee if thou dost; the light will not let thee take Gods name in vain, it will let thee see if thou dost, thou must not go unpunished; And will never let thee follow Drunkenness, nor vain company, for who lives in that nature, are without God, and shall never inherit the Kingdom of God; therefore beware, this light will keep thee from adultery and whoredom for such will God Judge; and the light will keep thee from theft, quarrelling and fighting, and abusing thy self with mankind, and envy, and will keep thee in the fear of God, this light which is of God, and let thee see all the works of the world and draw thee out of the worships of the world, and keep thee in the fear of God; where the true wisdom is made manifest, the pure wisdom is made manifest to the pure, and put into the pure heart, and then thy own wisdom thou wilt see with the light, arising out of the earthly part in thee; which wisdom is sensual, and devilish and earthly; for while there is enviousness in thee, there lodegth the manslayer, and all the wisdom is from below, while that nature stands: there’s Sects, and there’s Opinions, and theres conceivings ariseth out of this earthly part, where lodgeth this wisdom, and self-conceit, and pride, and by this wisdom the living God is not known, and so all who dwells in this wisdom put the Letter for the word, and give meanings and expositions upon it, and so gathers together the outward Letter, not having the power and life that gave it forth; so theres castles builded, and strong holds, and fenced cities, and high walls, as the Jews, who had the outward form of the which was given forth from the power, the form of the Prophets, and Moses, and David, and Abraham, who saw Christ, who loved in the power, but the Pharisees and the Priests getting their words, knew not Christ: so it is now with this generation of the world: for you say, ye know Christ: the Jews said, they were of Abraham, the same; so they had gotten the letter, and other words which had the power, and all these are but imitations and likenesses which are above, lifted up above the pure, and here lodgeth the serpent in this earthly part; but as the eternal light which Christ hath enlighten you withall is loved, minded, and taken heed unto, this earthly part is wrought out, that daily cross is taken up, the fear of the Lord grows, the true wisdom increaseth, the errors of the wicked are discovered and made manifest, the unjust comes to suffer, the just comes to reign, the wisdom of the world come to be confounded, that the heathen begin to rage, then tumult arise. And dwelling in the light, all Sects, and all Opinions, and Religions are discovered, and stand naked before the Lord, and before all who are of God, and seen with the eternal eye, which ariseth out of the earthly part, and the earth is but one, and all they do raise their ground from the Letter, which is given forth from the power. Now the power dwelling in it, in the eternal light, all Sects and Opinions come to be judged and overturned, and seen to be chaff and is to be burned with that which cannot be quenched, for the light is but one which is Christ, who enligheneth every one, and all are enlightened with one light, every one taking heed to that light which Christ hath enlightened you withall, it leads you out of Sects, out of form, out of the beauty of the world, to live in live and power: and waiting in the light which Christ hath enlightened you withal, you come to be Disciples of Jesus Christ, and servants to the truth, and not to serve the lusts, not the desires, nor pleasures, but the light it judgeth them, for serving the desires and the lust, thou turns into the beastly nature in the world, and into the flesh, and comes to be darkened and vailed, then thy throat is an open Sepulchre, that thou drinketh up iniquity as it were water: but dwelling in the light, it judgeth all that; and all thy works and actions come to be judged by that light, and all walking in this light which Christ hath enlightened your with, you all walking in unity and oneness of mind and lay alway all guile, sin, and uncleanness, and all taught to fear the Lord God: and it will lead you to the Church of God, from the Church of the world, and from your Teachers, to cease from men, to be taught alone of God, who teacheth eternal things eternally, and leads the mind up out of external things: and dwelling in the light, there’s no occasion at all of stumbling, for all things are discovered with the light: thou that lovest it, here’s they teacher, when thou art walking abroad, its present with thee in thy bosom, thou need not say Lo here, or, Lo there: and as thou liest in thy bed its present to teach thee, and judge thy wandring mind; which would wander abroad, and thy high thoughts and imaginations, and makes them subject; for following thy thoughts thou art quickly lost: dwelling in this light, it will discover to thee the body of sin, and thy corruptions, and fallen estate where thou art, and multitude of thoughts: in that light which shews thee all this, stand, neither go to the right hand, nor the left: here’s patience exercised, here’s thy will subjected, here thou wilt see the mercies of God made manifest in death; here thou wilt see the drinkings of the Water of Shiloah, which run softly, and the promises of God fulfilled, which are to the seed, which seed is Christ: he that can own me here, and receive me into his heart, the immortal seed is born up, and thy own will thrust forth, for it is not him that willeth, nor him that ruineth, but the election obtaineth it, and God that shews mercy: for the first step of peace is to stand still in the light, which discovers things contrary to it, for power and strength to stand against that nature which the light discovers: here grace grows, here’s God alone glorified and exalted, and the unknown truth, unknown to the world, made manifest, which draws up that which lies in the prison, and refresheth it in time, up to God, out of time, through time.

Whom God loves he loves to the end, where the eternal unity is, where is all peace, all clean, no jarre, who are all of one mind, hid from the worlds wisdom, knowledge, and comprehension, and thoughts can never enter, as it is written, The world by wisdom knows not God, and he is coming to confound the wisdom of the wise. And the Church in God, is not in imitation, gathered from the Letter, and a high-flown people in their imaginations, but are them who are born again of the Immortal Seed, by the word of God, which lives and endures for ever, which the world knows not; for the Word cuts asunder, hews down all wickedness, pride, and honour of man, that all honour and glory may be given alone to God; he hews down the first, that he may establish the second, and raise up the second; and the Word of the Lord is a fire, burns up all corruptions, burns up all that it has hewn down, and as a hammer to beat down that nothing can stand it; and this is the Word by which the Saints are born again; you are born again by the immortal Word, which lives and endures for ever, and feeding upon the milk of the Word, which Word is God, which Word became flesh and dwelt among us; so he is the Head of the Church, and they are lively stones, but all you now, who put the Letter for the Word, and have gotten it in your minds, and gather Assemblies by it; this you cannot witness, and it is blasphemy for you to say, the Letter is the Word, when the Letter saith, God is the Word; and it is a lie to speak and say, the Steeple-house is the Church; or to say, them that are gathered by the form of the Letter, is the Church of God: for the Church is the Pillar and Ground of Truth, gathered by the Eternal Power before the Letter was; and all who are in this Church, as it is called of the world, and live in the comprehension of the Letter, and the earthly part yet standing, there is devilishness in your minds, and earthliness, and pride, and filth; and do but hearken to that in thy conscience, and it will let thee see so: and while that is standing, God accepts not; and praises, while the nature is standing, God accepts not, which is Cains, which God has no respect, but to Abels: and God is coming to judge the great Whore, all manner of Opinions, and all manner of Sects, and Fellowships, as you call them, all manner of Forms, several, as every one livs in, God is coming to overturn and overthrow, for they alle lodge in her; all the Foundation of them is in the Earth, and earthly wisdom, gathered in the Earthly nature; he will overturn them, that he may establish his own Truth, his own Truth in righteousness, his own Kingdom. Now the stone cut out of the Mountain without hands, begins to strike at the feet of the Image, that the head of Gold begins to fall: and the Breast of Silver, and Thighs of Brass, and Feet of Iron, and part Clay, & his Dominion is a Dominion for ever over all. And all who dwells not in this light, which Christ hath enlightened withal, you will be found too light, for he is coming to weight all things in the balance, & before him the Hills shall move & the mountains shall melt, & the rocks shall cleave, who measures the water in the hollow of his head, and his thunders begin to utter their voyces, that the mysteries of God may be opened, and the carnal hearts rent; great Earth quakes shall be, the terrible day of the Lord draws neer the Beast shall be taken, and the false Prophet, into the fire they must go, for the Beast and the false Prophet hath gone together, the one has holden up the other. Now is the Lord coming to sit as Judge, and reign as King, who is the Law-giver which shall go forth of Zion. Now shall Zion arise and thresh to beat the hills and thresh the Mountains, now is the Sword drawn, which glitters and is fourbushed, the Sword of the Almighty, to hew down Baals Priests, corrupt Judges, corrupt Justices, corrupt Lawyers, fruitless Trees which cumber the ground. Drunkard, thou canst not hide thyself, cursed speaker, thou canst not hide thy self; Whoremonger, thou canst not hide thy self. Awake awake all people every where who live in Forms, see what ye possess: not having that eternal spirit that gave forth the Scriptures; all your formal Prayers, formal Preaching, formal Singing, will be found as the chaff, which is for the unquenchable fire; for Christ is risen, the true light shines, the glory of the Lord appears, and you are discovered to him, to be empty of the eternal spirit to be born up in your understandings, which gave forth the Scriptures, I am the light which enligheneth every one, that light you hate, and all who hate this light set up Teachers without them, but all who love this light is of God, and teacheth to God, which is a Cross to all the world, and this light it is in every one, waiting in it to receive Christ; and as may as receive Christ, to them he gives power to become the Sons of God, which are not born of the will of man, nor by the will of man, but by the will of God: but these are them who are out of imitations, and have no Images, nor no likeness of truth, but are in it, and possess it: Glory, glory to the Lord God, forever, who governs his people, and is the head of Christ, he that can recieve this, if he had not known the Letter let him, he is come before the Letter was written. In the beginning was the word.

To all you who hate the light, your deeds are evil: Christ saith, He is the light of the world, and enlighteneth ever one that comes into the world: The one he loves the light, and bring his works to the light, and walks in it, there is no occasion of stumbling in him: The other he hates the light, and will not bring his works to the light to be made manifest, because his deeds are evil, and the light will reprove him. Thou that saith Christ doth not enlighten every one that comes into the world, thou art a lyar, and denier of Christ words, and laies waste the Scripture; and thou that saith this light is naturall, thou puts the letter for the light, which is natural; true it is, darkness cannot comprehend this light but the light makes manifest darkness and this is the condemnation of the world, the light, thou that hatest this light, thou hast it. Christ saith, Swear not all all, the light will say the same to thee, in thee, Christ saith, He that lusteth after a Woman committeth adultery with her in his heart: This light will tell thee the same, bringing thy works to it, and loving it. Christ cryed woe against the Pharisee, the Hypocrite; this light will let thee see the same. Christ will say, Go ye cursed workers of iniquity, his light will say the same to thee, in thee, who art a worker of iniquity; here shalt thou be condemned with the light, and judged with the light out of thy own mouth; this light will let thee see all thy hard speeches, thy venomous thoughts, thy evil intentions, and covetous desires, which is Idolatry, and dissembling and deceit, to be works of darkness, and let thee see that all those things are evil; there thou hast learned thy condemnation, there is thy teacher, that would teach thee to know God, there is thy condemnation, hating that light it will condemn thee from him: Thou wilt say, thou knowest in thy conscience that drunkenness is sin, here thou lovest darkness rather than the light that shews it thee, and lying and swearing, and cursed speaking in sin and yet thou followeth it, and pleasure, there thou lovest darkness rather than the light that shews thee them, because thy deeds are evil, and there thou hast learned thy condemnation, when Gods righteousness shall be revealed in flames of fire, thou shalt witness I speak truth. Thou knowest theft is sin, and all unrighteousness God forbids, thou wilt see something in thy conscience, and bring thee to repentance. Christ saith, I call sinners to repentance, that in thee calls thee to repentance, and if thou hearken to that, thou hearkens to Christ, and it thou hate that, thou hates Christ, and God, than. thou turns into the sorcery, into all uncleanness, and then god is not in thy thought, and then thou art the disobedient one, which disobeys that light which God hath enlightened thee with, and there the wrath of God abides on thee, and the Prince of the Air rules in thee, as he doth in all the children of disobedience, who hates this light. Now do not think that I hold free-will here, mans free-will, I speak of that which is contrary to mans will, and loving the light it will keep your wills from running, and your wills from willing any thing, and keeps it in subjection; but that hates this light, and makes a profession of God and Christ, and saith, that letter is the word, and the four Books, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, is the gospel, thou knowest not Christ, which is glad tidings, that Lamb of God, which takes away the sins of the world; for the letter takes not away sin; and thou that sayest thou had not come to repentance, if thou had not known the letter, thou denist Christ, who comes to call sinners to repentance before letter was, but it is he that calls to repentance sinners, and not the letter, but the letter is a declaration of the word, the book(?), God is the word; and it is a declaration of the light, Christ is the Light, and a declaration of the Spirit; but the Spirit is not in it; a declaration of power, but the power is not in it; the power, and the life, and the light, was in them that spoke it forth, which ever the world hated; there fore waiting in the light, which Christ hath enlightened you with, that’s Scripture within you, and that will open the Scriptures according as you grow in the light, the Saints conditions; as you are sanctified, and as you are cleansed and made free with the Son of God, for it is he that maketh free, who are made free from sin, from the world, are made free by the Son of God; and Blessed be the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath raised him from the dead, and by him raised us up from the dead.

And to you that tempt God, and say, the Lord give us a sight of our sins, Priests and people, does not the light, which Christ hath enlightened you with, let you see your sin, that lying, and swearing, cursed speaking, theft, murder, and whoredom, and covetousness, and pride, and lust, and pleasures, all these to be the works of flesh, and fruits of darkness? This light within you lets you see it, so you need not tempt God to give you a sight of your sins, for ye know enough, and waiting in the light, power and strength, shall be renewed and living in the light; and walking up to God, it will bring you to true true hunger and thirst after righteousness, that you may receive the Blessing from God, and give over your tempting of God, to give you a sight of your sins. And to all ye that say, God give us grace, and we shall refrain from our sin, there ye have got a tempting customary word, for the free grace of God hath appeared to all men, and this is the grace of God, which shews thee ungodliness and worldly lusts. Now thou that liveth in ungodliness, lying, and swearing, and theft, and murther, and drunkenness, and filthy pleasures, and lusting after the world, thou art he that turns the free grace of God into wantoness, and casts his laws behind thy back & walkest despightfully against the spirit of grace; here the Scriptures is fulfilled upon thee Oh vain man! Yet thou canst say, God is merciful; he is mercifull and just, and that shalt thou see, when destruction comes upon thee; for thou canst say, God is merciful; yet lives in the wickedness, passing on thy time without fear of God, sporting thy self in thy wickedness. Oh ye covetous proud Priests! which deceives the Nations, who mind earthly things, whose God is your belly, who glory in your shame, enemies of the Cross of Christ, your destruction is coming, that ye shall not make a prey upon the people any longer the Lord hath spoken it.

Oh ye great men, and rich men of the earth! weep and howl, for your misery is coming, who heaps up treasure for the last day, your gold and silver shall eat you up as the rust and the canker; the fire is kindled, the day of the Lord is appearing, a day of howling will be amongst your fat Bulls of Basham, that all the tall Ceders and strong Oaks must be hewn down, and all the loftiness of men must be laid low, then shall the Lord alone be exalted.

The free grace of God is the Saints teacher, which teacheth them to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, to live righteously and godly, like God, in this evil present world, denying all the worlds lusts, and worlds waies, and worlds teachers, and works of darkness, which grace is turned into wantoness, by those who follow the course of the world, and the works of darkness, drunkenness, and uncleanness, and such are they who cannot abide sound doctrine; which heaps up teachers, having itching ears, And all who turns this grace of God into wantonness, deny it to teach them, and they live in their worldly lusts and ungodliness. Oh how doth the Land mourn because of Oaths? Oaths are heard in the streets openly belched forth. Oh how doth the pride and haughtiness of Men and Women abound, scarce know how to walk in the streets? Oh how doth Oppression and Tyranny Rule, that the cries of the poor are entered into the Ear of the Lord of Sabboths? Oh how doth drunkenness and drunkards walk abroad in the streets, which devoures the creatures? The Lord is rising, and surely he will be avenged of all his Adversaries. He is come to sweep the Land of evil doers, that the earth shall yield his increase, and the Land enjoy her Sabbaths: And he will sit a Judge, and righteousness shall run down our streets, and God alone be magnified and glorified, to whom it alone belongs for ever. Oh how doth all the creation groan under this bondage of corruption? the Lord is pouring out his Spirit upon all flesh, that his sons and daughters may prophesie up and down this great City, and none shall make them afraid, crying for Justice, crying for Righteousness, crying for Equity: for the cry of the great Whore is come up before the Lord, who is adulterated from the truth, they who hate this light, hate Christ which is the husband, and goes from him: they who love the light, have the Husband which is Christ, but the Judgement of the great Whore is come, who made all Nations to drink the cup of her Fornication, who must drink of the cup of the indignation of the wrath of God poured out without mixture, who must have it filled double, Rejoyce, rejoyce all ye Prophets and holy men of God, triumph in glory: sing aloud praise to the Lord God almighty and Omnipotent, who is come to reign; rejoyce over the world, over the false Prophets, over the Beast, over the Whore, which is adulterated from the light, and tels all her lovers that the light is natural, and so denies the husband of Christ Jesus, and lives in Fornication but all who loves the light, and walks in the light, witness Jesus Christ to be the husband, and this light to be spiritual: Now she is convinced of her adultery, of he witchcraft, of her socery, and that which doth convince her is the light which Christ hath enlightened her with, and this is her condemnation. And now the Judgement of the great Whore is come, God will be avenged on her, who has drunk the blood of all his Saints, who dwelt in the light, and loved the light.

All who hate this light, they set up to be their light, such as are called Man Masters, have chief places in the Assemblies, stand making long Prayers, lay heavy burdens upon the people, which devour widows houses, the widow has not a husband, all are widows who are devoured of such; but who love the light which Christ hath enlightened them with, it joyns them to Christ, and then they witness him to be their husband, and such are not devoured of them. And who hate this light, hold up them who bear rule by their means, which Jeremy, who dwelt in the light, was sent to cry against. And they that hate this light, hold up them that cry for their gain from their quarter, and never have enough, which Isaiah who dwelt in the light was sent to cry out against. And they that hate the light go after the error of Balaam, and hold up such who love the wages of unrighteousness; and all who hate this light have the spirit error, and what the spirit of error follows, And all who hate this light, hold up the Hirelings that Micha cryed against and such as call for the Fleece, and cloath themselves with the wooll, that Ezekiel cryed against, who was the Light, and full of the spirit. Now where the same light is made manifest, as was in the Prophets which saw Christ the light; and the Apostles in the same light, which gave forth the Scripture, all the Scripture is witnessed; and here we are grounded upon the Prophets, upon the Apostles and Christ the Corner-stone, in the eternal light, by which we see tthe Priests bear rule by their means now, and seek for their gain, form their, Quarter now, and are greedy dumb Dogs now, ney worse than Balaam, who loved the wages of unrighteousness, but durst not take it; but these sue men at the Law for it; worse then Simon Magos, who would have bought the spirit, but these fell the letter: this corrupt doctrine hath long reigned, but now is made manifest, and in this light we see the Hirelings that Preach peace, but he that puts not in their mouths, they prepare war against him, and by which light, we see teachers who profess they are sent of Christ to be in the seat of the Scribes and Pharisees, and are called of men Masters, and have the chiefest places, going in their long robes, love salutations in the Markets, have the uppermost seats at Feasts, and under pretence making long Prayers, devouring widows houses, which Christ cryed woe against, and such we cannot own as sent of Christ, not hold up, for if we should, we should deny the Scriptures, and hold up that which Christ forbids; and if we should hold up them who rule by their means, we should deny Jeremiah to be a true Prophet, who cryed against such: and if we should hold up such as go for gifts and rewards, who love the wages of unrighteousness, we should deny the Apostle, who cryed against such; for the same light is manifest, praised be the Lord God, by which that are seen and cannot be owned, but must be denied, as they were by the Prophets, by Christ, by the Apostles; and if we should hold up such that say, Revelations are ceased, we should deny the Son, as they do, for none knows the Father but the Son, and he to whom the Son reveals him, and so we deny those to know any thing of Christ, or to be sent of Christ, which deny the Son, and deny Revelations; for the Apostle, which was a Minister of God, he was not a Minister of Christ, till the Son was revealed in him, and then he Preached him, and Preached the Kingdom of God, so all who deny Revelations deny the Son and the Father both, and live in their imaginations, of the Letter: And the Apostle exhorts the Saints to have the loins of their minds girded up, and hope to the end, for the grace that was to be brought to them at the Revelation of Jesus Christ; now has was a Minister, and did exhort to wait for the Revelation of Jesus Christ: but now thou that denies Revelations, dost declare they self openly, to be no Minister, and raceth thy self out from among the Ministers of Christ, and thou goest in the waies of Cain, thou art raced out from Abel, for in thy heart lodgeth Persecution, and thy mouth utters it, and thy hands Acts it. And you that speak a Divination of your own heart, are raced out from them who speak from the mouth of the Lord; for the Prophets of the Lord cried out ever against such, and so they do now: and yet that seek for gain from your quarter, are they that are raced out from the true Prophets of God; they cryed out against you, and the same light cries out against you now, otherwise the Prophes should be made of none effect, for they spoke forth freely and do they do now that speak forth the same light; the light is free, which hath enlightened every one that comes into the world: thou that hates it, has learned thy condemnation; it lets thee see all the evil deeds of the heart. And the Gospel is free to every creature; not to be bought and sold for money: Oh shameless men, that tell People the Letter is the Word, and buy and sell it for money, which is but a Declaration of the Word, and the Grace is free, which hath appeared to all men, which is the Saints teacher, and you need not have any teacher if you own the Grace, which shews your ungodliness and worldly lust; this Grace will teach you to deny it, and the Light which hath enlightened every one that comes into the world, there’s every one of you condemnation in particular that hates it; and there’s every one of your teachers that loves it: which is but one, and will open all the Figures, and the Parables, and Types to you: and waiting in it, it will guide you to God, there is your teacher: there is your condemnation: every one of you shall eternally witness me, to that which exerciseth your conscience do I speak, for now the mighty day of the Lord is coming, meet him, by putting off your works of darkness. God that made the world and all things in it, dwells not in Temples made with hands, neither will be worshipped with mens inventions; but Israel, when he had forgotten his Maker, builded Temples, and Judah builded fenced Cities; but the Lord will send a fire to devour them, and all your songs shall be turned into Mourning, the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it. Oh then, all ye that profess, see that you possess, and profess no more than you are.

All who stumbles at the light are without, and are not come to repentance, and so all who stumbles at the light, stumbles at repentance: All who stumbles at the light, stumbles at the door, the door is known by the light which comes from Christ: And al who stumbles at the light stumbles at the way; for Christ hath enlightened every one, that with the light he might see the way (which is Christ) to the Father. So all who stumbles at the light, stumbles at the Scriptures, and not know the meaning of them; for that eye that is turned from the light, is the blind, and leads into the ditch, and is to be condemned with the light from Christ: And all who stumbles at the light never knew Hope which purifies, nor Faith which purifies, nor the belief which overcomes the world; but he walks in darkness, and doth not know whether he goes, and the Children of light which dwels in the light, to him their condition is unknown, for he hates that which they walk in: So with that he is condemned, and to you all this is the word of God; And all who stumbles at the Prophets words, and cannot understand the words of them, spoken from the light which in them was; And all who stumbles of the light, stumbles at the Apostles words, which were declared from the light which was made manifest in all Consciences which ministred to the Spirits in Prison: So all who stumbles at the light, they are to be condemned with the light from the life of the Prophets and Apostles, which dwelt in the light with the rude wicked world. And here every one shall witness his condemnation just, and see it Just, with the light which shews his evil deeds, and Christs words true, and to own his condemnation.

To all that denies that light the enlightens the conscience to be the light of Christ, and all who say that light which enlightens the conscience is natural, Isaiah the 5 and 10. and to all that builders that denies the Corner-stone.

1. How is Christ the light of the world, and how doth he enlighten every one that comes into the world, if it be not in the conscience? John 8. 12. John 1. 9.

2. How doth the spirit of Christ reprove the world of sin, of righteousness, and of Judgement, if it be not in the conscience? John 16.8.

3. How doth the spirit of Christ guide into all truth, and shew things to come, if it be not within the conscience? John 16.13.

4. How are all the Children of God taught of God, if it be not by the light of God in the conscience, and how do they hear his voyce, if not in the soule and spirit within? Isaiah 59. 13. John 6. 45.

5. How that can be said to be a naturall light which bears witness to God in that which is Holy, and against all the natural inclinations of false man, seeing the Scripture saith; the natural man receives not the things of the spirit of God. 1 Corinthians 2. 14

6. If that be a natural light which enlightens the conscience of every one, and manifests the deeds of darkness, sin and evil in them, and that they are fallen from God, and in them dwells no good thing, then wherein doth Christ enlighten every one that comes into the world, and how do you distinguish of that natural light, from the light of Christ, by their several operations? John 1.9.

7. How Christ is given for a light to the Gentiles, who had not the Letter, and whether that [be] not the light of Christ which shewed them the law of God written in their hearts, who had not the law without, by which light they did the things contained in the law: and whether any Light lead to do the things contained in the law, but the light of Christ. Acts 26.23. Isaiah 49.3. Romans 2.15.

8. How is the Gospel of Christ Preached to every creature under heaven, if it be not the prescripts of the light in the conscience, it being that many never come to read or hear of the Scriptures? Romans 10.18. Colossians 1.23.

9. If that which accuseth or excerseth and so is Judge in the conscience, be a natural light, then all Judgement is not committed to the Son, But you set up another judge in the conscience before him? Romans 2.15. John 5.22.

10.. If that be a naturall light which Checks and bears Rule in the conscience, then is not Christ alone King in the conscience, but another Ruler is set up before Christ be owned? Matthew 2.6.

11. If that be a natural light which excuseth, and so gives peace in the conscience, then you set up a peace before Christ come, and here you deny him to be the foundation and Prince of peace? Zechariah 9.10. Ephesians 2.14.

12. If that be a natural light which shews the way towards God in the conscience, reproves the untoward wayes, then is not Christ alone the way to the Father, but you set up another way before him? John 14.6

13. If that by which all shall be Judged and condemned, be any outward teaching from the letter, or by man, then of what was the Gentiles condemned, who had not the law, letter, or outward teaching, and yet was to perish, not doing the things contained in the law? Romans 2. 12, 13, 14.

14. Is there any other thing that convinceth of unbelief but that which convinceth of sin in the conscience, seeing Christ saith he shall convince the world of sin, because they believe not in me? John 16.8.9. Ephesians 5.13 14.

15. If there be something in the conscience naturally which is light, then how is it that the scripture concludes [not readable] in their natural estate, and have not recieved the light of Christ, and how is Christ said to give light to them that sit in darkness. Ephesians 5.8. Luke 1. 79.

16. Whether in the Scriptures do you find any light that Convinceth the conscience but the light of Christ, which shews the Law of God in the heart, and the Beach of it?

17. Is not that good which beareth witness in the conscience against all evil; which if it be, and be not the light of Christ, but a natural light, then man is not wholy fallen, but is something good in man before Christ come? Matthew 19.17.

18. How Christ is tendered a Covenant of the Father freely to every creature, if it be not in the conscience, and if it be not tendered to every creature, then what shall be the Condemnation or Salvation of those to whom he was never tendered; and how it will stand with the Impartial God to tender Christ to some and not to others, and to condemn for unbeliefs, those to whom the light of Christ was never tendered. and how such can be said to be unbelievers? Genesis 9.9.10. John 3.18.19.

19. And now you that talke of a natural light, and a spiritual light. Produce one scripture that speakes of a natural light, But you who see with natural light, eye and minds not that in the conscience are Ignorant of this spiritual light, for darkness cannot comprehend the light, thought it shine in it. And here all you who denies Christ to be the light of the world, are seen to all who have the light to be children of Darkness, and are in that generation who hate the light, and put light for darkness and darkness for light, and here you are shut out of the Scriptures: And the Woe is to you, And the true light you deny, by which the Saints have judged, and have been guided in all ages, and you cannot judge of the things of god, nor his people. Isaiah 5.20.

To all who denies the teaching of God in Spirit, and would keep people in the teachings of men from the letter, ever learning but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

1. What and where that New Jerusalem is, which came came down from Heaven, in which there is no night, neither needs it light of Sun, Moon, or candle, but the Lord God is the Light thereof: and into which shall in no wise enter any thing that defileth, worketh abomination, or maketh a lye, but whose names are written in the Lambs Book of Life? Revelation 21.

2. What & where that Sion is to which all Nations shall flow, where the Lord shall teach of his waies, and fom whence the Law of God and his word shall go forth; after which they shall learn war no more, but shall say, Come let us walk in the light of the Lord. Isaiah 2. Micah 4

3. What and where that covenant is wherein the Lord will write his Law in peoples hearts and put it in their inward parts: and they shall no more teach every one their nighbour and brother; saying, Know the Lord, for all shall know him from the least to the greatest: and whether any may expect to come into that Covenant in these daies? Jeremiah 31. Hebrews 8.

4. What and where that unction and anointing is, by which the Saints knew all things and needed not that any should teach them, but as that anointing taught them of all things which was true, and it was no lye: and whether it be of the same effect in these daies?

5. What and where that comforter is, which doth reprove the world of sin, of righteousness and Judgement, and doth guide into all Truths, and shews things to come, and shews the things of Christ, and glorifies him: and whether that comforter may be expected in these daies? John 1.9.

6. Whether any of the Saints of God may expect, and wait to recieve his word from his mouth immediately, as all the Messengers of God did in all ages: or there must be no word now but the Letter taken out of Books, and which hath been formerly spoken to others? Jeremiah 23.

7. Whether any may wait for that promise fulfilling in these daies, That all the children of God shall be taught of God; and whether that teaching be sufficient to salvation, without any humane help or learning from man? Isaiah 54.13. John 6.45.

8. What and where the word is that people shall hear behind them, saying This is the way walk in it, when they turn to the right hand or to the left, and what that teacher in the midst of them is, which shall be no more in corners: and whether any may expect that word and Teacher in these daies? Isaiah 30.

9. What that word of faith is, which needs none to say, who shall ascend up into Heaven, or into the depth, to fetch Christ from above or below, but which was nigh in the heart, which the Apostles preached to them which had it in their hearts: and whether the same word be not in the hearts of people now, though they mind it not? Deuteronomy 30. Romans 10.

10. What that voice of Christ is which his sheep knows and how they come to know it from all other voices and which all that hear it, will no more hear the voice of a stranger, hireling, or thief, but by that voice are brought to follow Christ alone; And whether Christs sheep hear the same voice now, and know it from all false voices? John 6.10. [John Chapter 10]

11. What that way in the wilderness is, which is called the way to all holiness, which the unclean shall not pass over, but it shall be for the wayfaring men, and fools shall not err therein: in which way the redeemed shall walk, and the ransomed of the Lord shall come up to Sion; And whether any may find that way who are strangers and fools in these daies? Isaiah 35.

12. What that Ministration of spirit is which is given to every one to profit withall; and whether there can be any profiting without it: and whether it be not of it self an infallible guide in all the waies of God according to its manifestation. 1 Corinthians 12.7.

13. What and where that worship of God in spirit and truth is, which God alone seeketh to be worshipped in; and whether any can worship in Spirit, but he who is born of the spirit; and whether he that is born of the Spirit needs any guide in that spiritual worship but that spirit of which he is born, according to its measure, and whether such worshippers have not been and are now different from all other worships, and therefore hated by them in all ages.?

14. What and where that is which enlightens every one that comes into the world, and is the condemnation of all that lives darkness, because of their evil deeds: and whether there be any other condemantion but this light to all who believe not in it, but hate it?

15. What that Law of the spirit of life is, which after Paul’s warfare did set him free from the Law of sin and death, which formerly had led him captive into the Law of sin, and made him wretched; and whether any now in these daies may look to be set free by the Law of the Spirit of life from the said wretched condition, who find themselves in it?

16. What that grace of God is which bringeth salvation and hath appeared to all men, and teacheth the Saints to deny all ungodliness and worldly lusts, and whether it would not teach all the same, if they did not turn in into lasciviousness and they need no other teacher?

The LIGHT in your consciences the true Teacher.

Friends. You that look out at teachers without you consider what you have been doing all this while, and what you have learned, and you will see your selves to be strangers from the Covenant of promise, by which all comes to the know the Lord, and need not teach one another; this Covenant of peace you are strangers from who owns not the light, which Christ doth enlighten every one that cometh into the world withal, to teach you, if you have the light which Christ doth enlighten every one with, which shews you sin, and evil, and the deceits of your heart, and how you have spent your time, and how you spend it, and whom you have served, and whom you do serve, that light is your teacher to teach righteousness, for it is righteous; that light will be your condemnation hating it, and you set up such teachers as hates the light, that are called of man Masters, have the chief places in the Assemblies, which Christ cried woe against, and so doth not own that Christ which the Scripture speaks of, but sets up such as Christ cried wo against: as you may try your Spirits, read Matth. 23. If you will own the Scriptures; and if ever you will own God; you must own that light in your conscience which Christ hath enlightned you withal: and if ever you see God, you must see him with that light which Christ hath enlighten you with; for it is the Eye, and if ever you see the Church which is in God the father of our Lord Jesus Christ, it must be with this light which Christ hath enlightned you with; but hating this light, you run to the teachers of the world, and worships of the world, and so from god, and the Church in God, and this light will be your condemnation that hates it. Now if you love the light, it will teach you when you lie in bed, and shew you where your heart is, where your treasure is, and what your thoughts are upon, and all the deceits of your hearts, and bring you to stand in the counsel of God, to receive instruction from God, and direction how to walk before him; and as this light doth shew you sin, and the deceits of your hearts; stand still in the light, and will nothing: but wait for the power of God to stand against that nature which the light of Christ discovers in you, and here is your first step to peace.

And eternally you shall witness what is spoken: for to that in your consciences do we speak.

FINIS.

Views: 74

Comment by Forrest Curo on 10th mo. 2, 2017 at 11:34am

There's something attractive, as well as repellent, in the sterile Righteousness of the brother who stayed home, knowing that his wandering sibling was no doubt en route to a Bad End.

Indeed, the iniquities and inequities of Fox's day have festered and grown since his time. But Fox took far too harsh a view of the people who practiced them. God's love continues to work in us all, explicitly recognized or not.

Comment by Keith Saylor on 10th mo. 3, 2017 at 11:49am

The text of “To all that would know the way to the Kingdom …”(WTTK) attributed to George Fox in the 1706 compilation entitled “The Gospel Truth Demonstrated …” (TGTD) does not include the two sections of Queries and the closing paragraph that are part of the 1655 tract published above. This suggests that the compilers of 1706 TGTD knew George Fox had written the first section of the WTTK and others had written the other sections. With that said, the first section attributed to George Fox in the 1706 TGTD contains some significant textual and contextual differences from that of the 1655 WTTK; while overall the two texts match one another.

The tracts begin differently. Here are the first two paragraphs of the 1706 TGTD tract.

“Christ saith, Except a man be born again of Water and of the Spirit, he cannot see the Kingdom of God, not enter into it, John 3.3.5,8. So no Man in his first natural Birth can see the Kingdom of God, nor enter into it, nor know the things of God: For they that see the Kingdom of God, they must come to the Spirit of God, and the Spiritual Birth by which the things of God are known, and the Kingdom of God: And John the Divine said, he was in the Kingdom, Rev. 1.9. then he saw it: And the Apostle said, God hath translated us into the Kingdom of his dear Son: So then these saw the Kingdom and were in it, Col. 1.12.”


“And as many as received Christ, he gives them Power to become the Sons of God; even to them that believe on his Name, which were born not of Blood, nor of the Will of the Flesh, not of the Will of Man, but of God John 1.12,13. This is the Birth that sees, and enters God’s Kingdom.”

The 1655 tract does not contain these beginning paragraphs rather it begins with:

“A warning to all sorts of people who live in sin and uncleanness, For the wicked must be turned into hell, and all that forget God: And who are workers of iniquity are accursed from Christ: for saith he, Go ye cursed, ye workers of iniquity into utter darkness.”

The third paragraph of the 1706 tract and the second paragraph of the 1655 tract come more into line with one another. Here is how the third paragraph in the 1706 tract begins:

“I am the Light of the world, saith Christ, who enlightens every one that cometh into the World: Christ hath enlightened every one that’s come into the world.”

Here is how the second paragraph of the 1655 tract reads:

“I am the light of the world, and enlightens every one that cometh into the world: Christ hath enlightened every one that comes into the world …”

Here we find the first instance of differences between text that is part of both the 1655 and the 1706 tracts. In the 1706 tract the words “saith Christ” are placed after “I am the light of the world:”

“I am the Light of the world, saith Christ, who enlightens every one that cometh into the World: Christ hath enlightened every one that’s come into the world.”

The 1655 tract does not include the “saith Christ.” in the text:

“I am the light of the world, and enlightens every one that cometh into the world: Christ hath enlightened every one that comes into the world …”

I suggest that the author or authors of the 1655 tract were writing from a specific witness and were writing a specific testimony to that witness and that the 1706 inclusion of the words “saith Christ” changes or alters the nature of the 1655 witness or experience. I will support this suggestion by looking at other examples of these differences between the 1655 and 1706 tracts and bring in supporting material from other Quaker tracts written around 1655. I suggest the changes the compilers of the 1706 tract made to the 1655 tract were not merely one of helping to clarify the meaning of the 1655 text, but reflects a different witness wherein the Light itself had become more distant experientially. The 1655 tract shows such close participation in and identification with the Light itself that there is little distance between who I am and the Light so that those in the Light literally wrote “I am the Light of the World” and that Light is you also. This 1655 testimony to a specific witness at once identifies so completely with the Light that it is the light and also sees the light in everyone else.

More to come.

Comment by Forrest Curo on 10th mo. 3, 2017 at 2:21pm

The message would not have changed significantly.

But it's possible to incur all sorts of 'friendly-fire' attacks when people aren't familiar with your way of putting a message.

It's also possible to be misunderstood when people are too familiar with your language and inclined to dismiss it as something they already know. But they're much less likely to misunderstand it with automatic hostility and risks of persecution. Early Friends, certainly including Fox, had had far too much experience of that.

It's one thing to undergo (and have people you love) risk persecution for a message that your hearers simply don't like. But if the difference is a matter of words more than their substance, everyone is better off with wording more likely to be recognized.

Comment by Keith Saylor on 10th mo. 4, 2017 at 12:52pm

I have uploaded  pdf and epub version of the 1655 tract on archive.org. This is my first attempt at publishing in various formats. I will be publishing tracts I have keyboarded and that will be included in the supplemental section of the keyboarded text of William Rogers "The Christian Quaker." These smaller tracts are easy to deal with and will help me to better learn the process before going ahead with the publication of the much larger "The Christian Quaker."

Here is the link to downloadable pdf and epub version of the 1655 tract from the archives.org platform.

https://archive.org/details/waytokingdom1655

Comment by Keith Saylor on 7th day (Sat)

Marginal Note - In 1673 three tracts were written concerning the value of establishing outward forms among the gathering of Quakers. These three tracts will appear in the supplemental section of the keyboarded version of William Rogers “The Christian Quaker.” I’ve included various quotes and thoughts from these tracts as marginal notes to the main topic of this thread to add further context.


In 1673 a tract was published anonymously and entitled “The Spirit of the Hat or the Government of the Quakers Among Themselves, As it hath been Exercised of late years by George Fox, and other Leading Men, in their Monday, or Second-dayes Meeting at Devon-shire-House, brought to Light.” This tract is another example of those early and founding Quakers whose conscience led them to write down their testimony of “primitive Quakerism” and how George Fox, and those early and founding Quakers who followed him, had come out sideways and were leading the Quaker gathering back into that which they were come out of through the appearance of the inshining Light in their conscience. The writer shares this concerning the begininnings of Quakerism:


“It pleased the Lord, about twenty years ago, to visit this Nation with his loving-kindness, in sending forth a Spiritual-Ministry, in the midst of Wars and Fightings to turn us from Darkness to Light, and to bring us out of Strife into the Patience of Jesus, into his Love and meekness, to do good for evil.”


“This Seed being sown, prospered in the hearts of many, and brought forth Victory through Judgement, and the Spirit of Burning: And the Lord was wonderfully with them in this Dispensation, that very many came off from the barren Mountains, and out of the sandy Desarts, and were here refreshed, without Money, without Price, and the Bread was broken freely to the Hungry, and Water given freely to the thirsty: And not only so, but likewise our Vessels were filled with the same, whereby our hearts were made glad, and caused the Springs of Life to break forth our of our Bellies, and the Bread of Life to dwell within us, that we needed not to go forth out of our own House, having an Holy Anointing within us to supply the wants of our Souls, and lead us into all Truth.”


In this Dispensation, this coming off the Mountains and out of the Desert, a life is discovered wherein the Life itself in itself supplies all the wants in our Souls and the inward Life itself in itself we are led into all Truth and there is no need to go forth out of our own house (conscience) for the Life itself in itself is sufficient in itself to rule and guide our conscience and anchor our consciousness. The writer writes further:


“It’s the great Promise of the Father in these latter Dayes, That he will write his Laws in our Hearts, and put his spirit into our inward Parts, to lead us into all Truth, and out of all appearances, which his Spirit manifests in us to be in the Imitation, and after the Traditions of men.”


The great Promise is of the Spirit that is come into our Conscience and Consciousness, and the discovery that we are led out of all appearances, Imitations, and Traditions. That is, in the Life itself in itself as the sole guide in our conscience and the anchor of our consciousness is discovered a way of being or existence that does not look to outward political, social, or religious, institutions, practices, traditions, appearances, ideologies, to supply what wants of our Souls.


The writer then asks:


“How doth this differ from the World’s, and the Foxoman-Unity, which is to yeeld subjection to the Order of the Body, (so called) though no manifestation within, And this Unity they glory in; by this is their Kingdom upheld; from this they are able to boast, Who is able to make War with us? Who can stand before us? Do not all fall that his risen up against us? Are not these the high-swelling words of proud Babel, whose towering thoughts must be abased? Who practice hath been to crush the tender Ones, in their Bodies, Souls, and Spirits. This Language hath mine ears heard, this practice hath min eyes seen, to the grief and wounding of my Soul.”


“This combined Unity I have no pleasure in; its Nature is known by its Image, its Birth by the exercise of its Power.”


“This Spirit of Antichrist in G. Fox, &c. would wrest from me what I am not willing to part withal, to wit, my Conscience, under no less penalty than Excommunication; which is as far as in them lies, that loss both of Heaven and Earth: of Heaven by Excommunication, of Earth by Deprivation; and this without redemption, unless complying with his or their WIll and Pleasure; and for no other cause, than for the ommitance of a very small Ceremony, which they hold necessary to Salvation ...”


The writer was apparently excommunicated by the leaders of the Quaker gathering for refusing to take off his hat during prayer in a Quaker Meeting. It was the Quaker practice of not taking off their hats in honor of persons, however, it was their practice when in prayer to show respect and honor toward God by removing their hat. This quaker testifies that it was against his conscience to remove his hat even in prayer, basically because it was as much a ceremonial act as any other religious ceremony and that he had come out of all acts of ceremony, appearance, and imitation. For this he was excommunicated, as he relates it. So, he accuses George Fox of usurping the prerogative of Christ to rule and guide his conscience by placing his own conscience over and above others. He calls out the spirit of Antichrist in George Fox because Fox, and others with him, imposed and enforced unity through adherence to outward forms, practices, and ceremonies.


"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 never so clear in them; and this sets up the Body above Christ.”


This tract helps to show that there were early and founding Quakers who scrupled against building up outward ceremonies, practices, leaders, or other “helps” because such rebuilding of outward forms gives them a role in guiding and informing the conscience and conscious of people and, in some cases, the building up of forms results in the forms themselves taking presidence over the rule of Christ in the conscience. These people scrupled against their conscience being ruled and guided by outward forms and leaders because they are come into the inward rule and leadership of the inshining Light itself in itself. They are come out of identification with outward ceremonies and the leaders who promote those ceremonies and into idenitification with the inshining light of Christ in their conscience. Then it happened, that there were other Quakers like George Fox, who promoted outward standards like Hat honor and sought to impose that standard even on people whose conscience were come out of all ceremony by the power of the appearance of the spirit of Christ within. If, for conscience sake, they could not conform to the standard that Fox and others promoted, they were excommunicated. This was seen by many early and founding Quakers as not of the nature of their dispensation. Herein the writer says:


“And because a further dispensation is not relished by the Elders, the which they hide from the Inferiours, lest their glory should be eclisped, and draw the rest from dependence upon them: They content themselves with this limited Ministration, as set up Tabernacles here for their Residence; which is above, and beside the Spirit of the Lord’s teaching, which leads us on to know and follow the Lord.”


William Penn responded to this anonymous tract with no small amount of condemnation and demonization. Penn’s response is entitled “The Spirit of Alexander the Copper-Smith Justly Rebuk’d: or an Answer to a Late Pamphlet, Intituled, The Spirit of the Hat, or the Government of the Quakers.” He clearly was angry with the publication of this tract. Patient in the face of Penn (or any of the early Quakers) is important and fruitful when reading his angry defense of the outward Quaker forms he had a part in building and promoting. Moving through his anger is like being on all fours in a thicket full of thorny raspberry shrubs. If you just move forward in the peace of Christ you will come out into a sunny opening of clarity. After spending much time throughly demonizing the writing of “The Spirit of the Hat” Penn writes:


“His next great Cavil is about pulling of the HAT at Publick Prayer, either upon Conviction, or the Judgement of the Body; wherein he tell us, That not only some of us counsell’d or requir’d him to yield, because the Body would have it; saying, That was yielding to the Power: But his not so yielding, but persisting is no Dissention; but our Disowning any Person for that Cause, is a Breach of the Great Gospel-Charter of Liberty. Let him deny this to be the Strength of his Book if he can or dare; and which is as soon blown away, as the Chaff before the Wind.”


I don’t think the write of ‘The Spirit of the Hat’ would be in disagreement with Penn’s assessment of his tract. Penn goes on:


“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? If there be; then this Church either has Power or not: If no Power, then no Church. If a Body, Church, or Society (for the Word. Church signifies no more, borrowed from the Assemblies of the Athenians) then there must be a Power within itself to determine; an anointing to lead into all Truth. Deny this, and all falls of it self.”


These sentences have stayed with me for a few days. They caused a stop. However, not for the reason Penn would have wished. Penn here states that if there is an outward visible Church then there must be a Power within itself to “determine an Anoitning to lead into all Truth.” Is it necessarily the case that the outwardly visible Church has a power in itself? I suggest this goes against the great Dispensation of many of those early and founding Quakers gathered in the Light; including the writer of “The Spirit of the Hat.” Many of those would say without equivocation that the visible Church has no power in itself to rule and guide; that it is the conscience of men and women that is the throne of Christ and there is the power and anointing itself in itself. Let’s look even deeper. Penn writes that when people deny and lay down such a Thing as a visible Church or Society “why Contend we at all?” To which many early and founding Quakers (and many today, including myself) would answer: “Exactly!” The power of the 17th century Dispensation among the Quakers was that the visible Church or Society is of no value because the inshining Light of Christ itself in itself is come upon us and has replaced the outwardly visible Church or Society and its ceremonies, practices, traditions, buildings, institutions, as the sole and sufficient guide in human relationships. Again, Penn writes that if we deny the outwardly visible Church or Society, “why Contend we at all?” Penn suggests it all falls apart. However, many early and founding Quakers witnessed that is where it all came together, in the denial of the outwardly visible Chruch or Society to lead into all Truth and the acceptance of the inshining Light itself in itself in the conscience to lead into all truth. It is true that the outwardly established Church or Society is a source of contention. It is also true that those who are come out of looking the the outward Church or Society to rule and guide them and have come into the inshining Witness itself in itself to rule and guide in their conscience have come out of contention and into peace. It is also telling that Penn could only see in the denial of the outwardly established Church that all would ‘fall apart.’ It is also telling that those who are come into the sufficiency of the inshining Light itself in itself as the sole nurturement of this souls in their conscience could see beyond outward forms and, in their denial of them, experienced the coming together of Life.


Penn writes further:


“This now will be the Question, Whether, If any Person that had given those Signal Testimonies for a Way and People, and so incorporated himself with them, finding afterwards Fault with a Practice so Innocent, so Reverent, as keeping off the Hat in time of Publick Prayer to Almighty God , should step out of the Comely Order, set up a New Mark, and Standard, whereby some should have their Heads covered, others uncovered (a most divided, confused, and unseemly Sight) the Church in this Case may not Admonish, and after her due admonition; and the Parties tenacious, resolute, and captious Disputes for that unsuitable Practice, may not justly his own him as a Disputer about needless Questions, and one that is gone out of the compleat Union of the Body, and exercised by another Spirit? Deny this, and Farewel to all Christian-Order and Discipline; yea, and Truth it self: ...”


Apparently, the writer of the “Spirit of the Hat” had, for some time, participated in removing his hat during prayer, however, for conscience sake, had come to a point wherein he could no longer do so. Penn, here suggests that the outwardly visible Church should have the power to disown those who are unwilling to follow the establilshed ceremony of removing their hat and are not willing to come back into conformity with that ceremonial practice are rightfully “disowned” by the outwardly Church body. Notice how Penn characterizes the image of a group of people in prayful worship, wherein some have removed their hat and others had not, as “divided,” “confused,” and an “unseemly Sight.” What a difference vision and image the writer of “The Spirit of the Hat” lays forth, and I quote again:


“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 never so clear in them; and this sets up the Body above Christ.”


The writer of ‘The Spirit of the Hat’ does not see the image people assemblied together; some with their hats removed and others not, as unseemly at all. He sees it as of the nature of the “true” Church. Penn seek unity in Uniformity and the writer has come into the knowledge of a unity in diversity. Where Penn sees such divserity as a loss of Christian-Order and Discipline, the writer of the Spirit of the Hat sees unity not in uniformity to outwardly established ceremonial practices but a unity in the share experience of the inshining Light in their conscience as their sole and sufficient guide. So that,outward appearances, ceremonies, and practices do not define the gathering. For Penn Uniformity in outward appearances and imitations defines the gathering.


Another tract was written in response to Penn’s and in support of the writer of The Spirit of the Hat.” It is entitled “Tyranny and Hypocrisy Detected: or, A further Discovery of the Tyrannical Government, Popish-Principles, and vile Practices of the now-Leading Quakers, Being A Defence of the Letter, intituled, The Spirit of the Hat, against the Deceitful, Defective and Railing Answer, called The Spirit of Alexander, &c. This was also published in 1673 and anonymously by a person not of the Quaker gathering.


”For indeed the Quakers chief principle, namely, That every one ought diligently to take heed to, and walk according to the Light in himself, is of such evident truth in the plain sense of the terms, that there can scare be found either Christian or Heathen, (that understands what he saith) that can deny it; for it is in substance this, That every man ought diligently to observe and do what God doth by any meanes convince him to be his Duty. ... But herein lyes the mystery of their iniquity, (which this man the writer of “That Spirit of the Hat has been so ingenious and happy as to discover,) namely, That he who shall receive the forementioned principle as evident in his own heart, shall afterward be induced to believe that whatever the cheif Quakers teach, is as evident, and that this evidence is from the immediate Revelation of God’s infallible Spirit within himself.”


The writer of “Tyranny and Hypocrisy Detected ...” goes on to write:


“As for my self and other Christians, this Letter serves us most effectually to prove, 1. That these Quakers their crying up the Light within, or the infallible rule and guidance of the Holy Spirit in every particular Conscience as the supremacy Judge, is but a shooing-horn to draw people in, and that when they are brought over to them by that means, then they must be ruled and guided by the judgement of G. Fox and the ruling Elders: So ‘tis manifest, They preach that in their Doctrine, what they contradict in their practice. 2. That some Quakers (and it’s more than probable that most of them) believe and practice b tradition and imitation of the Leaders, persuading themselves in the mean-time that they are taught by the infallible Light in themselves so to do. 3. That the Body of Quakers consists of such a sort of implicite Believers, for when this man the writer of “The Spirit of the Hat and his Companions gave themselves so much liberty as to examine things to find particular conviction, they could find no such thing; and its easy to perceive by his reasoning, that he is more able to examine things than one of a thousand of them. So that, 4. Quakerism properly is not built upon that Principle rightly understood, viz. “Every man ought to believe and practice according to the Light in himself; (for in that respect we and all honest men are Quakers,) but upon a false and mistaken notion and sense of it, viz. That what the leading men teach for the Light in every man, is indeed so.”


Penn, himself, affirms the immediate rule and guidance of the Holy Spirit in the Conscience as supreme Judge, he also affirms a role for the visible Church to in some cases rule, guide, and impose outward ceremonial practices even in those cases where the testimony of others in the gathering, for conscience sake, does not match that of the visible Church body. Like, George Fox, he does not see this as a contradiction because he also affirms that the Holy Spirit speaks through the corporate visible Church to the conscience.


By way of coming back around to the tract “To all who would know the way to the Kingdom, whether they be in forms, without forms, or got above all forms.” Penn’s words that:


“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? If there be; then this Church either has Power or not: If no Power, then no Church. If a Body, Church, or Society (for the Word. Church signifies no more, borrowed from the Assemblies of the Athenians) then there must be a Power within itself to determine; an anointing to lead into all Truth. Deny this, and all falls of it self.”


Those who are “got above all forms” are those who are come into the invisible Church and no longer affirm the power of the Visible Church. Those who are without forms affirm the visible Church but not the power for the visible church to rule over the conscience. Those who are in forms, affirm the power of the outwardly established visible church to enforce conformity to outward Quaker ceremonial practices, traditions, ideologies etc. Penn made it cleat that he and those who were interested in establishing, promoting, and nurturing adherence to outward ceremonial forms for the sake of gospel-order would not stop until those who were not in conformity, for conscience sake, to the outward ceremonial forms that certain Quakers leaders like himself and George Fox were establishing and supporting in the Quaker gathering were brought back into formal conformity or disowned.


Many Quakers lamented what they proclaimed as an innovation brought into the Quaker gathering over against the primitive Witness which affirmed the sole and sufficient guidance and rule of the inshining Light itself in itself upon the conscience without regard for outward ceremonial forms and practices of a visible Quaker corporate body. Some shared this lamentation openly, however, many others were not willing to speak out publically. Williams Rogers in his “The Christian Quaker Distinguished from the Apostate and Innovator in Five Parts, Wherein Religious Difference Amongst the Quakers are treated upon wrote” in 1680:


”Oh Friends! The serious Consideration of these things bows us before the Lord, and in a Sense of his Mercies to us we can no longer keep silent, but in his Fear declare that our Consciences are concerned for the Cause of God, and his Truth: and since it is so, that an ill use is made of that Spirit of Forbearance and Condescension, which we are sensible hath been used by many of our Brethren, it is now become our Portion to unburthen our selves, of that which hath been our Burthen; believing that the Lord is not only arisen, but will yet more and more arise, against that Spirit that would exalt itself, over the Heritage of God, endeavouring to rule over their Consciences, whenas Christ alone is Lord thereof.”


Surely, there were many Quakers who did not voice their scruples against the establishment of outward forms among the gathering of the Quakers. Rather, they chose to “forbear and condescend.”

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