From John Woolman (1741)

I went to meetings in an awful frame of mind, and endeavored to be inwardly acquainted with the language of the true Shepherd. And one day, being under a strong exercise of spirit, I stood up, and said some words in a meeting, but not keeping close to the divine opening, I said more than was required of me and being soon sensible to my error, I was afflicted in mind some weeks, without any light or comfort, even to that degree that I could take satisfaction in nothing. I remembered God and was troubled, and in the depth of my distress he had pity upon me, and sent the Comforter. I then felt forgiveness for my offence, and my mind became calm and quiet, being truly thankful to my gracious Redeemer for his mercies. And after this, feeling the spring of divine love opened, and a concern to speak, I said a few words in a meeting in which I found peace. This I believe was about six weeks from the first time, and as I was thus humbled and disciplined under the cross, my understanding became more strengthened to distinguish the language of the pure spirit which inwardly moves upon the heart, and taught me to wait in silence sometimes many weeks together, until I felt that rise which prepares the creature to stand like a trumpet, through which the Lord speaks to his flock. John Woolman (1741)

Views: 411

Comment by Keith Saylor on 6th mo. 30, 2020 at 2:39pm

Summary, Observations, and Considerations
John Woolman's Journal Chapter 8 Paragraph One

Having felt my mind drawn toward a Visit to a few meetings in Pennsylvania, I was very desirous to be instructed Rightly as to the time of seting of, and on the 10. 5. 1761, being the first day of the week I went to Haddonfield Meeting. Concluding [in my mind] to Seek for heavenly instruction, and come home or go on as I might then believe best for me; and there through the Springing up of pure love I felt encouragement and so crossed the River. In this visit I was at two Quarterly and three monthly meetings, and in the love of Truth, felt my way open to Labour with some noted Friends who kept Negroes, and as I was favoured to keep the Root, and Endeavoured to discharge what I believed was Required of me, I found inward peace therein from time to time, and thankfulness of heart to the Lord, who was graciously pleased to guide me.
Source: https://johnwoolman.blogspot.com/p/john-woolman-journal-chapter-eig...

In this paragraph Woolman's mind is drawn to visit some Meetings. He determines to first seek heavenly instruction about when to make the journey by going to a Meeting. There, through the Springing up of pure love, he was encourage to begin immediately. During the journey it happened that in the love of truth he felt my way open to Labour with some noted Friends and, in doing so, he was able to keep to the Root and discharged what was required him. This manifested an inward peace ... from time to time and thankfulness to the Lord for guidance.

This paragraph contains various terms and phrases which suggests a way a relating to people and circumstances through an impulse or force that is not of the nature of reason or reflective thought. Woolman says his mind was drawn or pulled toward a certain activity and that he sought heavenly instruction manifesting as the Springing up of pure love which was an affirmation or encouragement to proceed on his journey immediately. It was the impulse of the springing up of pure love itself that was the basis of his decision to go forward on his journey. There is no indication here that his decision was based upon engagement in the process of reflective thought. That is, his testimony here suggests he did not reason to his decision. The motion or experience of the springing up or explosion or increase of pure love was the basis of his decision. To bring this home further, His testimony suggests his behavior is being guided by the experience of pure love and an increase in the intensity of the experience of pure love affirms a particular activity or direction. Woolman goes on to write that, while in the love of Truth, he felt my way open to Labour with some people. Johnson's Dictionary printed in 1792, 10th edition, defines:

to Labour
  1. To toil; to act with painful effort.
  2. To do work; to take pains.
  3. To move with difficulty.
  4. To be diseased with.
  5. To be in distress; to be pressed.
  6. To be in child-birth. to be in travail.

Woolman's use of the phrase to Labour suggests an entering into contention. He writes that in the love of Truth he felt open to labour or contend with other people.

Being in the love of Truth suggests something akin to being in the presence of the Lord which further suggests he became sensible or aware (open) that while labouring with other people, he experienced or remained in the presence of Lord; that he kept to the Root. This becoming aware of being kept to the Root cleared the way for him to contend or enter into reflective thought with other people. This suggests the basis of his Labouring with people was predicated on his being aware of the presence of the Lord in the activity Labouring. The process of reflecting on and with others was affirmed precisely because he was aware of the presence of the Lord.

Woolman suggests he knew a way of being and relating to people that was not of the nature of reflective thought and also that the aperture for engaging in the process of reflecting upon and with others is an awareness of the of its movement through increased illumination of the presence of the Lord. Each of the keywords in this paragraph presume the direct impulse or awareness of the presence of the Lord guiding particular actions by a heightened experience or springing up of Presence itself.

Keywords and Phrases

felt my mind drawn
instructed rightly
heavenly instruction
springing up of pure love
felt encouragement
in the love of truth
felt my way open to labour
keep to the root
inward peace
guide

Something to consider moving forward. On three occasions in this paragraph Woolman uses the term felt in relation to some activity. The term felt suggest sensation rather then reason. That is, he became sensible or aware of an action upon him which influences his activty. He use the term believed once. Believed suggests reason in the sense of his participation in the process rather than something acting upon him. I am curious whether this distinction manifests in other contexts in his Journal and whether something of significance can be gleaned.

Comment by Keith Saylor on 7th mo. 3, 2020 at 12:34pm

Hello William, I'm still getting my feet under this project. However, a path is clearing as I move forward. It has become important that there is a strong element of traceable references and cross-references. The approach will to work through the whole journal (and in the process publish it online with references and cross-references linked).

#WoolmanProject #ResearchNotes

John Woolman writes, in his essay Serious Considerations on Various Subjects of Importance:

Where violent Measures are pursued in opposing Injustice, the Passions and Resentments of the Injured frequently operate in the Prosecution of their Designs: and after Conflicts productive of very great Calamities, the Minds of contending Parties often remain as little acquainted with the pure Principle of Divine Love as they were before. But where People walk in that pure Light in which all their "Works are wrought in God;" and under Oppression persevere in the meek Spirit, and abide firm in the Cause of Truth, without actively complying with oppressive Demands, through those the Lord hath often manifested his Power, in opening the Understandings of others, to the promoting Righteousness in the Earth.
#AnchoredNotecard WPEssay2P3
Source: View in Source Document

This paragraph is very instructive. Here Woolman suggests being outside the pure Principle of Divine Love (the directly experienced presence of God) results in a people who are ruled by Passions and Resentments (the process of reflective thought) and, in contending against injustice through the agency of these passions and resentments, they are drawn out of the Cause of Truth (the directly experienced presence of God). Woolman intimates a different way of opposing injustice that is not of the nature passions and resentments that manifest through reflective thought. This different way opposes injustice through a perseverance in the immanent presence of God (a meek Spirit) that actively does not comply with oppressive demands (reflective thoughts). In this way the power of the presence of the Lord is manifested and people are opened to the immanent presence of the Lord which is, in itself, the promotion of Righteousness in the Earth.

This paragraph is an anchored notecard for the purposes of this project. This means it is part of a growing number of other anchored notecards that will be cross-referenced with one another to give depth and nuance to Woolman's various considerations in the Journal. Over time a mind map will be generated to visually show the various interconnections.

The paragraph below is a re-write of the quoted paragraph. It is merely an initial reference point or exercise for future reference. Its validity cannot be measured at this time as this project in its beginning stages making any solid conclusions premature.

#RewriteExercise Essay2P3

Where reflective thought guides human relations, outward emotions, desires, and thoughts influence actions and people are outside or without a continuous awareness of the immanent presence of God in their conscience and consciousness to guide and inform their relationships and interactions. People aware of the presence of immanent Being in their conscience persevere in that awareness itself in itself and do not comply with those who would have them adhere to the process of reflective thought to guide and inform their relationships. In doing so, those deepened down into the presence of God, show and open a different way and promote human being guided and informed in the direct and immediate presence of God in the Earth rather than through reflective thought.

Comment by William F Rushby on 7th mo. 4, 2020 at 3:35pm

Keith Saylor: Thanks for your great effort!

Comment by Keith Saylor yesterday

Reference Key: TJAEOJSOAC
Summary, Observations, and Considerations
John Woolman's Journal Chapter 8 Paragraph Two

Woolman writes:

In the 8. 1761, having felt drawings in my mind to Visit Friends in and about Shrewsbury I went there & was at their firstday meeting and their, monthly meeting and had a meeting at Squan1 and another at Squankum, and as way opened I had Conversation with some noted Friends in the fear of the Lord concerning their slaves, and returned home in a thankful sense of the Goodness of God.
Source: Woolman Journal - Chapter 8 View Chapter 8

This second paragraph manifests some of the same content that is in the first; relative to the foundational question that guides this study, i.e. What Woolman knew about God and how he knew it.

Again, Woolman writes that he felt drawings in his mind to visit Friends. The sense here may be that he was being drawn to visit by some impulse other than his own rational or reflection. That is, he did not make these visitations based upon his own rationalizations but at the prompting of something not based in reflection. He knew to make the journey because he was drawn in that direction.

He also reveals a way opened to have a conversation. A way opened suggests an awareness of a path that was previously closed. He proceeds further to write that the conversation was in the fear of the Lord. This latter phrase is interesting and may be a qualifier in regard to a way opened, in the sense that being in the fear of the Lord was the opening to a particular action. But what does the phrase in the fear of the Lord mean to Woolman? Is this phrase another way of saying in the presence of the Lord? So that, in the fear of the Lord means an awareness of the presence of the Lord? If so, then Woolman may be indicating the way opened because the conversation was established in awareness of the fear or presence of the Lord. The suggestion here is that, without this awareness of the fear or presence of the Lord, he would not be open to engage in a conversation. Of course, it could also be he meant that a way opened for a particular conversation because, those who he conversed with, were willing conversing with him. However, why would he then predicate the conversation as in the fear of the Lord? Clearly their seems a further dynamic to this conversation than merely a mutual agreement between people to discuss something. This awareness of the fear or presence of the Lord may reveal a spiritual, intuitive, and mutual intimacy with the Lord that is not of a dualistic or reflective nature; which hearkens back to his having felt drawings.

This paragraph may reveal a way of conversing that is not founded upon reflection, but on a continuous awareness on the fear or presence of the Lord; that the impulse to opening the aperture to conversation with others is this awareness itself in itself.

A look at the first Anchor Paragraph View Anchor tied to this study is revealing and instructive relative to this study. Here Woolman writes that people, whose conversation and actions are guided by reflections (such as passions or resentments) and not the Principle of Divine Love (the directly experienced presence of the Lord?), nurture conflict and strife and contentious conversation.

Consideration: Are many of the various phrases used by Woolman reducible or equal to the phrase in the presence of the Lord?

#FeltDrawingsInMyMind #InTheFearOfTheLord #InThePresenceOfTheLord #WayOpened #Conversation #AnchorCard1 #PrincipleOfDivineLord #WoolmanProject #ResearchNotes


  1. Manasquan
Comment by William F Rushby yesterday

It seems clear to me that John Woolman was guided by intuitive leadings rather than (or more than) rational considerations in his "religious movements."  Modern Friends are, by contrast, very cerebral in their approach to life, including religious experience.  Strangely enough, they do not engage with the Christian (including Quaker) theological framework!  In theological matters, they appear to indulge in sloganeering more than disciplined theological thought.  Thus, we get "that of God in every XXX" without any serious explanation of what that means to them.  Or lists of "Quaker values" or "Quaker testimonies" without explaining what they are based on or how they are identified.

Comment by William F Rushby yesterday

In my younger years, I tried to get Quaker sociologists to turn the spotlight on their own faith and/or faith community.  This largely drew a blank!  They seemed more interested in examining social issues/problems and politics than issues concerning Quaker church matters.  It took the likes of Brother Dandelion at Woodbrooke or that congenital maverick Chuck Fager to redirect the focus to Quaker religious issues.  This is in sharp contrast to Mennonite scholars!

Comment by Keith Saylor 19 hours ago

#AuxiliaryConsiderations #WoolmanProject #Conscience

James Naylor, on page one of his Discovery of the First Wisdom from Beneath, and the Second Wisdom from Above (published 1656) writes of the will and the brain which is the Serpents seat View in Source Document. On page five he writes of that light shining into the conscience (the throne of Christ) View in Source Document. These quotes are revealing in context. In the first, Naylor is concerned that people focus on the Lord your guide and not stand in outward things, devised in the will and brain which is the Serpents seat. It is clear here that the Serpent is the process of reflection which drawns human being out to visible things1 (political, religious, and social, formalities, thoughts, insitutions, creeds, etc.) to guide their ways or human relations. In the second, Naylor is also concerned that people who profess Jesus Christ are taught by Christ, however, here he suggests a different way that is not seated in the process of reflection to guide human ways and relations. This different way anchors human relations in that light shining into the conscience (the throne of Christ). Understanding that the word conscience also assumed or carried the meaning consciousness in the seventeenth century (View Here), these words are a powerful testimony to the event of the coming of Jesus Christ into the conscience and consciousness which is human being's moral and conscious life founded upon or established in the Spirit itself. The coming of the light of Christ inshining upon and anchoring human relations through awareness or consciousness of this immanent Presence is literally a spiritual hack of the process of Reflection to guide human relations.

Naylor also writes of the kingdom of God and our faith in our conscience (View in Source Document) . In the same paragraph he hearkens to the seat of the Serpent or the process of reflection which politicians use to tempt us away in any way to deny him and own them in their wills which is the seat of the Serpent. That is, politicians seek to bind people to their own wills by drawing them into the process of reflection to guide and inform human relations.

Issac Penington in his The Authority and Government which Christ Excluded out of his Church writes that the conscience is the seat of faith (View in Source Document).

Secondly, Care must be had that the conscience be kept tender, that nothing be received, but according to the light in the conscience. The conscience is the seat of faith XR3340; and if it be not kept close to the light which God lighteth there, faith is soon made shipwreck of. Christianity is begun in the Spirit, which keepeth out the fleshly part, with all its fleshly wisdom and reasonings about spiritual things; and as the beginning is in the anointing, so must the progress be. As the Spirit begins in the conscience, by convincing that, by persuading that, by setting up his light there, and leading the soul by that light; so that light must still be eyed, and according to its growth and manifestation in the conscience, so must the soul stand still, or go on.

Pennington writes that the Spirit keeps out the fleshly (brain, the seat of the process of reflection?) reasonings. He goes on the Spirit begins in the conscience (and consciousness) through the coming of the Light and that light must be eyed (resting in awareness of) according to it's impulse in the conscience (and consciousness).

These testimonies of Naylor and Pennington place the seat or throne of the Kingdom of God, of Faith, of Christ, in the conscience. That is, faith, Christ, and the Kingdom of God are found in the conscience (and consciousness). The kingdom of God, Faith, and Christ, are found in the conscience and consciousness, through the shining (awareness) of the Light upon human being. This is a complete reorientation of human being. Christ, the kingdom of God and Faith are not established at a distance in the way of reflection or as a place or person apart from who we are. They are not anticipated, they are lived and experienced continuously, literally, and directly on earth; leading the soul by the Light itself in itself.

The process of reflection (manifested through the eating of the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil) is overcome or hacked in the coming or presence of the inshining Light and the enthronement and government of Christ in conscience and consciousness; without regard for reflected (political, religious, of social, outward forms) content to rule, guide, and inform, human relations.


  1. Reference the biblical story of the Tree of Knowledge of God and evil.

Comment

You need to be a member of QuakerQuaker to add comments!

Join QuakerQuaker

Support Us

Did you know that QuakerQuaker is 100% reader supported? If you think this kind of outreach and conversation is important, please support it with a monthly subscription or one-time gift.


You can also make a one-time donation.

Latest Activity

Keith Saylor commented on William F Rushby's blog post 'From John Woolman on Ministry'
"#AuxiliaryConsiderations #WoolmanProject #Conscience James Naylor, on page one of his Discovery of…"
19 hours ago
Annett Pettet commented on Glenn Morison's blog post 'One good turn deserves another'
"Playing PC games for a considerable length of time and evenings may be obliterating for kids'…"
yesterday
William F Rushby commented on William F Rushby's blog post 'From John Woolman on Ministry'
"In my younger years, I tried to get Quaker sociologists to turn the spotlight on their own faith…"
yesterday
William F Rushby commented on William F Rushby's blog post 'From John Woolman on Ministry'
"It seems clear to me that John Woolman was guided by intuitive leadings rather than (or more than)…"
yesterday
Keith Saylor commented on William F Rushby's blog post 'From John Woolman on Ministry'
"Reference Key: TJAEOJSOAC Summary, Observations, and Considerations John Woolman's Journal…"
yesterday
Kirby Urner replied to Kirby Urner's discussion 'Connecting Quakers and Sufis (ongoing project)'
"Indeed I agree and Jorjani goes into that in his Perisian Renaissance interviews, contrasting the…"
6th day (Fri)
Kirby Urner replied to Kirby Urner's discussion 'Connecting Quakers and Sufis (ongoing project)'
"Hi Marcia.  Yes, the Sufi Gulenists as one might call them (are Quakers Foxists?) have or have…"
6th day (Fri)
Forrest Curo replied to Kirby Urner's discussion 'Connecting Quakers and Sufis (ongoing project)'
"Religions seem to intrinsically develop a mystical wing and a doctrinal one. Mystics from different…"
5th day (Thu)

© 2020   Created by QuakerQuaker.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service