Geroge Fox and those early Quakers who denied “prescriptions without distinction.”

Research Notes: George Fox, Researchcode: geofoxjournalpt2pg3331709ed


In 1678 George Fox was moved to write a paper against those Quakers who opposed the Godily established order and disciple in the Quaker gathering. Fox says these Quakers who opposed the divinely given order of the Quakers “deny Prescriptions without distinction.”


To deny Prescriptions without distinction is to not differentiate between those outward prescriptions that are divinely given and those that are not in the power of God. To be more specific, there were some early Quakers who did not participate in the process of the valuation of certain outward prescriptions over others because their consciences were guided and informed in and through the direct motion of the Spirit. For example, some Quakers did not remove their hats during prayer at worship because the immanent inshining motion of the Spirit did not make a distinction between the outward acts of removing their hat or not removing them. The act itself of removing the at during prayer meant no more or less than the act of removing the hat.


The prescription for the removal of the hat during prayer was of no value relative to their spiritual being and edification.


Fox’s characterization of those Quaker who “deny Prescriptions without distinction” is not relegated to Prescriptions only, but also to the establishment of yearly, monthly, and quarterly meetings or any outwardly established form. Many early Quakers made no distinction (to use Fox’s terms) between the Protestant and Catholic outward church building and the establishments Quaker’s want to establish the Meeting House or the process of establishing set times and places for worship. For many early Quakers it was the process of establishing, participating in, and identifying with outward forms that their witness of the Presence of God (or immanent self-existence or consciousness) lead them out of. Again, Fox’s phrase could read “deny all outward forms without distinction.” The witness of these early Quakers is that they were come out of the very process of participating in and identification with outwardly established prescriptions, buildings, set times and places for worship, traditions, or images to guide and inform their consciences and relationships with other people because the inshining Presence of Christ is taken form in their conscience and consciousness.

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