Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
Can you identify which of the following quotes are from Quaker sources? Knowing Quaker from non-Quaker writing will determines how we describe ourselves as Quakers. How many of the following 10 quotes can you accurately place in or outside of early Quaker thought?
1 So if it could be proved -as it can not- .... that the Gospels were the fabrication of designing and artful men, that Jesus of Nazareth had never lived, still Christianity would stand firm, and fear no evil. None of the doctrines of that religion would fall to the ground; for if true they stand by themselves.
2 How does this Word work in or upon the heart? According to the entrance it gets into the heart, or according as it is rejected or refused. As it gets entrance, it works life there, and works the creature into its life. It brings in its nature, its righteousness, its holiness, its sweetness, its peace, its love, its joy, its meekness, its patience, &c. as it makes room in the heart, by working out the contrary. But where it is rejected, it works death and condemnation, and increases the captivity and misery of the soul; so that it were better never to hear any sound of Christ in the heart, than not to hearken and become subject thereto.
3 That belief we term (important) which maintains that man has ideas, that come not through the five senses, or the powers of reasoning; but are either the result of direct revelation from God, his immediate inspiration of direct revelation from God, his immediate inspiration, or his immanent presence in the spiritual world ...
4 So the first which is earthly the Law kills because of sin, and want of obedience, but he that is born again is of the Spirit, and lives because of righteousness and obedience, so the boaster is excluded, being concluded under sin that the mercy may arise in the meek principle over all, to fulfil all.
5 Religion is to cease to be an outward form, the observance of the sabbath attendance on church, support of the clergy, the admission of the Bible and the Saviour, the assent of the will. It is to be a personal matter of each man, which each must do for himself; not mere uprightness of conduct, but positive, actual devotion of the spirit and the heart, the strong desire, the earnest endeavor, the hearty will to do what is right and true.
6 Now let any honest reasonable heart judge whether this can be a sure ground and true testimony for people, to trust their souls under such for teaching? for it was not Christ nor the Apostles practice to take others Records & Writings that had been spoken from others; but they spoke as the spirit gave them utterance, and as the holy Ghost taught them, not with wisdom of words, but in the demonstration of the spirit and of power.
7 Among (their) core beliefs was an ideal spiritual state that 'transcends' the physical and empirical and is only realized through the individual's intuition, rather than through the doctrines of established religions. .... (They) desired to ground their religion and philosophy in transcendental principles: principles not based on, or falsifiable by, sensuous experience, but deriving from the inner, spiritual or mental essence of the human.
8 Now we clearly saw, felt and understood, in the morning of our visitation, that the same ancient power of the Lord, wrought first to disunite us from the nature which separated us from God, and then to bring us up into unity and fellowship with himself, in his dear love, and therein one with another. For here ever was and is, the foundation of the true unity, even that of the Spirit; in which love, the body edifies itself, and is increasing and building up a holy habitation for God, through the Spirit.
9 This statement underlies his objective - to make man aware of his spiritual potential, of awakening this important faculty of man. He believed, and reiterated time after time, that the only reason to study .... man was to better comprehend the importance of developing the "spirit faculty" that exists within every man. (He) was able to let the creative force within him free itself.
10 (They believed in) Christ the light which is the way to God, and the door out of the world through which they must enter in unto the Father from the world, and from darkness, and death, .... into covenant with God, through the door Christ; and this is the light, in which light you see all your evil actions, you have evilly acted; .... The same light makes manifest the Savior from whom it comes, and makes manifest Christ to be the covenant of light and life through which you may come to have peace with God. (end of quotes)
Our ability to identify the writing and teaching of early Quakers from the teaching of other religious group will determine which of the following two quotes we see to be expressing our identity as either "liberal" or "conventional" Quakers .
1. On the subject of Christ, they (early Quakers) sheltered themselves behind the broad shield of allegory, and thus did not clearly discriminate between Christ as a person and Christ as a principle. And this led to great ambiguity of expression in them, and their successors down to the present day. Under the idea of possessing a sound sentiment, clear to their own conceptions, many of them have personified the spirit of divine illumination under the name of Christ, or Christ within, or, in other words, Christ as a principle.'
2. When we speak of the glorious display of the love of God to mankind in the miraculous conception, birth, life, miracles, death, resurrection and ascension of our Saviour, we prefer the use of such terms as we find in Scripture; and contented with that knowledge which Divine wisdom hath seen meet to reveal, we attempt not to explain those mysteries which remain under the veil; nevertheless we acknowledge and assert the Divinity of Christ.