Those Early Quakers who Scrupled against The Government of Quakers Excercised by George Fox

Research Notes, Spirit of the Hat, William Penn, George Fox, Religious Politic, Sufficiency, Inshining Light, John Perrot, James Naylor, Leo Damrosch


Those Early Quakers who Scrupled against The Government of Quakers Exercised by George Fox


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 our 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 (1). 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 writer 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.


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.”


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1. Note: Leo Damrosch, in his The Sorrows of the Quaker Jesus, published in 1996 by Harvard University Press, publishes a quote from George Fox concerning the “Hat” issue: Friends, the power of the Lord God is over all them that keep on their hats in prayer neither by the motion, not the power of God, not by the spirit of God, but (by and earthly dark spirit) against it, and them that are in the Power of God. This was the first ground of it, both in John Perrot and his company, when he run out, and James Nayler when he run out; and this first was done in opposition to them, that were in the truth and in the Power of God; but the power of God will crush to pieces that feigned, dark, earthly spirit, and to the earth and pit it must go.

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Comment by Forrest Curo on 12th mo. 12, 2017 at 7:51pm

No doubt these folks would have complained if George had hung them with a new rope.

But they were not forbidden the from participating in communion of a Quakerish sort, couldn't be -- because that was intrinsically available in any group whatsoever, including being alone with God. They wouldn't even have been forbidden to worship specifically with Friends, if 'disownment' worked then as it has in every period we have actual information about. If we don't know about this period... are we supposed to assume the worst possible construction?

You say we had a power play here... because GF had some organizational notions, and sufficient prestige to make the bulk of the group go along. Who twisted their arms?

Fox was undoubtedly a pill, and wrong about many things; but we're talking about a guy who'd paid more dues than both of us put together -- when 'persecution' meant "they lock you up; and if you don't pay the jailer for better lodging, he puts you in the room with the floor flooded with sewage." Quaker politics at their absolute worst don't reach that level.

Life is short.

Comment by Forrest Curo on 12th mo. 12, 2017 at 11:46pm

To put it more clearly: There is one What-It-Is present to every person; it isn't 'merely personal' (whether or not we perceive it as a personality) but the same to each and all.

The content and style of what any one person receives from That may differ, not from anyone being tuned-in to different 'Whats' but from our capacities and orientations making different messages appropriate to different hearers. But it all flows out of the same well.

Fox had put the bulk of his life, and considerable suffering, into turning as many people as possible towards seeking and following that in themselves.

You seem to think that Fox gradually turned against that in himself, starting channelling The Zombie Master instead -- while all these other people, conscious of their own lines to God Inside, started playing Blind Leading The Blind behind him.

The only interpretation that makes sense in that context, so far as I can see -- is that he saw that certain practices and organizational changes (however imperfect we can see them to be) were in fact the best this group would be able to sustain. And his followers, however much their considerable (& well-earned) respect for Fox may have influenced them, were also being led to see the truth of that.

Comment by Keith Saylor on 12th mo. 13, 2017 at 1:48am

I remind the reader that the topic of this post is about those contemporaries of George Fox who came out against his leading the gathering of Quakers “back into that which they were led out of, i.e. outward forms. The intent is also to publish the words of these contemporaries so they may speak for themselves … this I have done. The reader is reading the words of those who would not follow the new forms established by George Fox and their descriptions of the actions and behavior of George Fox against those people who, for conscience sake, did not come into conformity with new forms established and promoted amongst the gathering.


Forrest is engaged in deflection. He is trying to change the focus so that the reader will turn their from the primary source documentation that is here placed before the reader. Forrest writes: Fox had put the bulk of his life, and considerable suffering, into turning as many people as possible towards seeking and following that in themselves. Those contemporaries of George Fox who would not follow him into the forms he was creating also suffered considerably and were engaged in turning people toward that in themselves. The irony of their testimony is that they also suffered under George Fox, and those who followed him, because they would not comply. Mark this reader. According to them, and through there own words, the difference, between them, and the Foxonian Quakers is they did not engage in coercion through demonization, ridicule, and condemnation, against those in the Quaker gathering who were of a different conscience. It is a simple and documented fact that there were Quakers, contemporary to George Fox, who testified to being persecuted and excommunicated by Fox and those who followed him. Forrest, is of the opinion that he knows better than even those who were there at the time and walked among George Fox and documented his persecutions. Forrest even thinks he knows what I seem to think and proceeds to tell me. My interest is in what those people who would not follow George Fox testified to and documented concerning Fox’s actions and behavior toward them personally and I share their very words … giving specific examples from period sources.


This is also important. Forrest writes:


But they were not forbidden the from participating in communion of a Quakerish sort, couldn’t be – because that was intrinsically available in any group whatsoever, including being alone with God. They wouldn’t even have been forbidden to worship specifically with Friends, if ‘disownment’ worked then as it has in every period we have actual information about. If we don’t know about this period… are we supposed to assume the worst possible construction?


Again, even though they themselves testify (there words are published here for all to read) to being cast out of communion with other Quakers, Forrest replies … couldn’t be. All these years later, Forrest knows better than even those who where there.


My research supports and documents, it wasn’t as clear and easy as Forrest would have us think. Many of these people (who did not follow Fox into the forms he was establishing) were Quakers from the very beginning and had relationships with people based upon and guided by the inshining impulse of the Light even though they may not share the same conscience concerning outward practices. They cherished these relationships. These people were intertwined together and they suffered together and as long as, according to their testimony, they lived in and honored the measure of Light in each and the diversity of that light, they knew unity. Their testimony is that disunity happened as a result of George Fox enforcing compliance to his outward constructs. From the very beginning, according to their testimony of their witness, the gathering spoke out against setting up themselves, and to make themselves Laws, whereby they may Govern, and bear Rule one over another. And furthemore these People called the Quakers, were the only People that did speak against this.


Whether or not someone agrees with their testimony concerning being persecuted and excommunicated by Fox and whether Fox’s introduction of outward institutional forms was the cause of disunity amongst the gathering which once know unity is extraneous to and deflects from the intent of this thread; which is to document the simple fact that there are early Quakers who testified to such and to publish there very words. It is mine to bring them forward and let them speak for themselves.


Forrest further writes:


The only interpretation that makes sense in that context, so far as I can see – is that he saw that certain practices and organizational changes (however imperfect we can see them to be) were in fact the best this group would be able to sustain. And his followers, however much their considerable (& well-earned) respect for Fox may have influenced them, were also being led to see the truth of that.


Again, as those who would not follow George Fox into the forms he was establishing amongst the gathering make clear, the ultimate source of disunity was George Fox who set up rules to govern and bear rule over all in the the gathering and he coerced compliance through demonization, intimidation, persecution, and excommunication. There were many Quakers who were sustained solely by the rule and governance of the inshining Light in the conscience. William Rogers in the forth part of The Christian Quaker …* published a letter from John Wilkinson who admonished Fox against his spirit of imposition and persecution against those who are not of the same conscience. Wilkinson further admonishes Fox that unless he turns from such a spirit he will only nurture further fracture and fragmentation of the gathering. Quaker history manifests the prescient nature of Wilkinson’s words.

Comment by Howard Brod on 12th mo. 13, 2017 at 8:14am

It is interesting to me that the typical liberal Quaker of the twenty-first century would find (if they could even stomach reading it) much of George Fox's writings and specific teachings disturbing at best: judgmental, self-righteous, and steeped in strict interpretive biblical theology (this latter facet something that liberal Quakers generally find very distasteful). 

It is also interesting to me that liberal Quakers in mass would identify ever so closely with these words regarding conscience of the non-Foxonian Quakers (that Keith is presenting here) - it is our mode of operation!  It is no accident that most liberal Quakers have ceased reading the works of George Fox because most of his words and manner are repugnant; and instead liberal Quakers rely (for the most part) on the interaction of the inward Light as their guide - individually and in their meetings.  

It is clear that we (liberal Quakers) have more commonality with the very first gatherings of these children of Light than with George Fox in the latter years of his life.  The only thing left of George Fox for liberal Quakers is his original message of a direct relationship with the divine through the interaction of the inward Light.  We have ignored his details, theological structure, biblical obsession, and organizational vision.

Many, if not most, liberal Quaker meetings today operate closely to these non-Foxonian Quakers advocate; some liberal meetings more so and some less.   The liberal Quakers of the twenty-first century have dismantled all the authority that Fox instituted into Quarterly and Yearly Meetings.  These liberal Yearly meetings are now merely associations rather than governing bodies for liberal Quakers.

So why do we not recognize who we as a religious society have become.  We are far from the theology, practices, and organization functions of George Fox.  This speaks volumes to me.  If it walks and talks like a duck, it is a duck!

Comment by Forrest Curo on 12th mo. 13, 2017 at 10:31am

The bulk of the Friends there at the time did follow Fox's leading,

and it is those people here who believe they'd abandoned his previous witness who thereby conclude that  they know better than Fox and his followers -- and insist I must be taking up their attitude towards Fox and applying it to his unsuccessful rivals.

Who is playing Courtroom with these old bones, and why?

Quakers today can, and do, follow their noses wherever said noses lead them. Some of us know we are being led by God; some of us insist there's no such thing and we can't make them think so; some of us imagine that ten Quakers can be led more dependably than one (which is at best uncertain, but is what "having the Meeting test a leading" implies.)

Right or wrong in any absolute sense, it is the minority party being held up here as authorities we should accept. About what they thought they were going through, sure. As to the right course at the time, which group survived?

Comment by Keith Saylor on 12th mo. 13, 2017 at 3:05pm

For the Record:


-It is documentable that most early Quakers came under the Foxonian impulse into identification with outward institutional forms to rule and guide the gathering.
-It is also documentable that many Quakers among among those who came under Fox’s innovations did so out of a spirit of Forbearance and Condesencion. These early Quakers privately expressed reservations about the innovations of George Fox and his followers but did not and would not publically express them. Some would not because their conscience was against open and public displays of discord and disunity. Some others would not because they feared coercion through condemnation, ridicule, and demonization which my and did result in persecution or excommunication by Fox and those who followed him.
-As to why I am holding forth old Bones as Forrest characterizes them. These living testimonies, (which are contemporaneous to George Fox), were laid down for, in their own words, posterity. I am honoring these words to posterity by holding them forth for others to read. I have not tried to hide that I am sympathy and empathy with their inshining witness and what was discovered to them through the appearance of the Light itself in their conscience and consciousness. I am holding them forth and publishing their words in electronic format and offering them freely for others to read and glean according to the impulse of the inshining Light upon their conscience and consciousness.
-It is an untrue statement that the intent of this thread is to uphold those who would not follow George Fox into the innovations he was creating as authorities we should accept. I challenge Forrest to support by documentation anywhere in this thread were I have written that the readers should accept. Again, Forrest is here engaged in deflection in an attempt to draw the reader’s attention to and focus on an untruth in order to undermine the true intention of this thread.
- Finally, as I have said on other occasions, I am so thankful that there were early Quakers who, through the strength of the inshining Light upon their conscience, laid down their conscience in writing for those of us who are today, and at other times, are come out of (and who are coming out of) the process of identification with and participation in outwardly constructed forms. Their fellowship through their words are a sauve to those of us today who are come into and share their witness (experience). These early Quakers, who would not follow the Foxonian innovation, endured (by their own testimony) no small amount of coercion through demonization, condemnation, ridicule, persecution, and even excommunication by the hands of the Foxonian establishment. Yet, they defied the outward established Foxonian institutions like The Second Dayes Meeting that was established to approve or disapprove Quakers writings. Even over against the demands of George Fox himself, these people would not conform and ‘call in’ their writings. Many of them did so at the expense of their reputations at the hands of Foxonian recriminations; even at the expense of their livelihood’s which William Rogers documents in his The Christian Quaker Distinguished from the Apostate and Innovator (1680).
- I encourage those who have read this thread to read these Children of Light who would not follow George Fox into his innovation and reach down for the impulse of the inshining Light in their conscience as to the extent to which they are in unity with them.


So in the spirit of holding forth the words of those who did not conform to the outward institutions or innovation of George Fox I share these words from the anonymous writer of The Spirit of the Hat or The Government of the Quakers Among Themselves as has been Exercised of Late by George Fox, and other Leading Men, in their Monday or Second Dayes Meeting at Devonshire-house, brought to Light.:


If the Body saith, It is to be so or not so, (though two thirds of them are otherwise minded, yet are silent) and if it shall happen for one to oppose the thing with much moderation. And the said two thirds shall in their spirit unite with him, yet notwithstanding a few of the combined Elders will bring him to the Bar, and unless he will own Condemnation, Judgment shall pass against him, with such an imperious Authority, that the others dare not open their mouths, so that their arbitrary Commands they can impose upon their Fellow-Members. They process further, saying, He that will not submit to the Body, opposeth God and his Truth; And they make the Body the Touch-stone, saying, This is according, or not according to Truth, as the body hat Unity or not Unity with it; and so by this practice the Spirit of the Lord is to be tried, and judged by the Body. This hath two parts, to deprive us of the Law of the Spirit, and to bring in a tyrannical Government; it would lead us from the Rule within, to subject us to a Rule without.


it is asserted in Print, that I believe the Light within me directs me to a thing and the BOdy shall not have unity with it, it is safer for me to rely upon the judgement of the Body. I remember about a dozen of the great ones subscribed a Paper to this effect, and sent it to Hartford, but it was there much disliked: There was this also in it, That is any person had (as he thought) a command from God, to do a thing, or to put forth a thing in Print, he must first come and lay it before the Body, and as they judg, he must submit. Is not this an arbitrary Government, bounded by no Law, but what G.F. and a few more please? Herein the ground of our LIberties is taken from us, (to wit) To live, act, and judg according to the Law within. In this is the distribution of Justice, and he that is overawed by a power without, stifles and strangles true Judgement, which ariseth in himself; by this is Justice and true Judgement, obstructed and violated. It’s the highest usurpation of our just Liberties; For when such Principles are established, they are not easily laid down, they are encroached Jurisdiction where none was taking upon them a Power to judg and domineer over the Innocent, over the Conscientious, over the tender in Spirit, by new Laws which the Spirit never gave forth, nor hath unity withal, nor many of the Body, which through fear oppose these things. They go higher, they say, Their Judgement is God’s, and their Acts are as blinding as God’s, it proceeding from the Spirit of the Lord in the Body: Their Judgements are so positive from God and for God, and their Censures so severe, which causeth a faint-hearted ness in the weaker, to speak according to their measure lest they should displease the Body, and be brought to Judgment. It is a dangerous evil for any man, men, or Councel, to make him or them Lords, or Lawgivers in the Church: Christ himself being the immediate Lawgiver, and Judg in this the Day of his Power. Men have commonly thought, that to preserve the Church in peace, is to supporters errour; whereas to preserve them in Faith and Love, with the Father, Word and Spirit, this is rather to preserve the Church.


How many persons, under the pretence of healing the Body, would it still deeper, and under pretence of preserving its Peace, hurry it into endless Dissentions or reduce People to a Forms Faith! Doth not the abovesaid Body practice the same? Yea. AH! how do they build up that which they once pulled down; and do that themselves which they condemn in others! Ah! That they would suffer the Word only to be the Rule in the Kingdom, and the Light thereof alone to shine there, and no walk in the light of their own Fire, and in the Sparks such they themselves shave kindled, whereby they may lie down in sorrow, whilest they neglect the true Light, which lighteth every man that come into the World.


In the true Church, Unity stands in diversities; But is 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.

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