Hidden things brought to light, or, the discord of the grand Quakers among themselves ...

Research Notes, Geroge Fox, John Pennymen, John Perrot, Robert Rich

I am currently keyboarding Robert Rich’s [R.R.]collection of letters written by George Fox, James Naylor, John Perrot, and Robert Rich, wherein the the nature of the discord between Fox, Naylor, and Perrot is manifested. The full text will appear here and will also be published archive.org. For now I wanted to share something from a letter written to George Fox from Robert Rich. By the way, Robert Rich, was a Quaker who strongly defended both Nayler and Perrot.

R.R.’s collection of letters was published in 1678.

Below R.R. writes:

”J.P. [John Perrot] speaks as one that has seen as end of all distinctions and separations by names; not preferring one sect before or above another: but where the grace of God or Spirit of the Father (Christ Jesus, the true Seed and Heir of Gods Kingdom) is received in the heart and doth there abide to teach and lead into truth and righteousness (mark G.F.). These he only accompteth for the Children of God. As further saith, THat though himself was known by the name of Quaker, that there are of the People called Seekers, Baptists, Independents, and others (Mark G.F.) whose conversations become the Professions of that they own and witness to be of God in themselves; whom (saith he) I as truly own, and with whom I have more unity than with divers which are called by the name of Quakers (whose name hath not changes them from the nature of the Love of God) so it is to be understood (saith J.P.) that the love and unit I seek amongst all stands (mark G.F.) in no other than the measure of the spirit and grace of God, given to every one to profit with, that which as ‘tis improved in all hearts, will keep our minds up to God; fashioning and frameing us into a gracious Life, well pleasing unto him ...”

”Sure I am that this Faith and Doctrine (which thou now revilest) is that which was first given to the Saints, and thou thy self hast preached, though now at fallen from it, and become a Persecutor of it. Tell me G.F. is not the Light of God in every mans Conscience the sure word fo Prophecy to guid the soul out of death into everlasting life peace, and rest and must not everyone that witness Redemtption be lead by his own measure of Grace and not another?”

“I tell thee G.F. thy spirit is much blinded from beholding Gods present work in the world.”

“And I have this farther to declare to thee and the world, to Jew, Gentile, Barbarian, and Christian, though I know it will be an offense and stone of stumbling to G.F. [George Fox] as to all Masters Of Assemblies in every Sect; who prescribe, impose, and and have dominion over the Faith of others: That the Eternal God (who wills not the death of any sinner) hath sent his dear Sone Emanuelhis light and spirit of Grace, into the World, his everlasting Covenant, a Divine Law writ in every mans heart: that whosoever believeth in him, and followeth him, shall have eternal Life. Hallelujah.”

‘And this Divine Law and Word in the Heart, is the Ensign to gather together all things in to himself and to present every man perfect in God, being thereby sanctified, and saved from their sins. Hallelujah. To which word in the heart, God Preacher, his Law and Covenant of Grace to all the world, do I recommend all Sects and Opinions, as the onely rule of their Souls progress into everlasting Peace and Rest. Hallelujah.”

“And I have yet further to testifie, That where this grace and gift of God is received, all outward Teaching, Admonitions, Interpretations, and Instructions, that G.F. or any other can give or allow of, are but Candles that the Lords Temple needs not; for the glory of God and the Lamb are the Light thereof. So the imposing spirit of G.F. (Which endeavors to limit the Light of God in others, and Lord it over Gods heritage) will in time be seen to be but mans wisdom ...”

John Pennyman in his collections of letters published his letter to Geroge Fox in 1680:

“You may think that you have built the highest and fairest Structure of any, yet know, and that for a truth, that not one Stone thereof shal be left upon another; and all your Buildings, your Inventions, your Imaginations, and your Conceivings, about your Forms, and your Proud Self-conceited Modes, your Impositions, your Prescriptions, Laws, and Comely Orders, (as you in your fallen Wisdom call them) must all be thrown down, laid Waste, and become as a By-word ...”

NOTE: As I move deeper and deeper into my research, it is becoming clear that many early Quakers were not of the same conscience as George Fox, and those who followed him, regarding Fox’s establishment and imposition of outward institutional forms and practices .... testifying to the witness that they were come out the the very process of establishing, participating in, and identifying with outward forms through the impulse and motion of the inshining Light itself in itself  in their consciousness and conscience. It is compelling to me that there were many early Quakers, contemporary to George Fox, who would not follow George Fox back into the process of participating in and identifying with outwardly established forms. 

John Pennyman, in his collection of letters, documents 67 early Quaker writers actively testifying to the inshining Witness through which they were come out of outward forms and would not be lead back into them through George Fox and those who followed him. 

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Comment by Keith Saylor on 3rd mo. 23, 2018 at 11:07am
Research Notes: John Perrot, George Fox

In 1664 John Perrott, writing from Jamaica, sent this a letter to George Fox concerning the various concerns Fox had with Perrott. One those those concerns was Perrott’s wearing of his hat during prayer in Meeting. Fox considered it out of ‘comely order’ and undermined unity for Perrot not to remove his hat during prayer. A part of Perrott’s response is below:


Furthermore thou maist well remember that upon the occasion of speaking to me about wearing of the Hat in Prayer. I told thee that it was that which the Lord required of me; to which thou didst answer that it would be an occasion of a breach of Unity, &c. And then I replied, saying in that I was sure that the Lord required it of me; if I should do otherwise, then I should sin: and therefore in as much as the Unity of the Saints, stood not in an Hat, or an outward Action with the Hat but in the Spirit only; every Man walking according to the motions and guiding of it: for me to do a thing contrary to the motion of the Spirit, and thereby to sin against my God; instead of seeking Unity with the Saints in such a manner, I should disunite my Soul from such as stood in the True Unity and Fellowship in the Holy and True Spirit; and therefore I said further unto thee, that I desired and entreated both thee and all Friends, to bear with me in that particular: for in that, I said also often unto thee and divers others; that I stood not in opposition to any Man that could say by the Word of the Living God, that he was moved to take off his Hat in Prayer: which I did esteem sufficient to have satisfied any rational Man living, that sought not to make his mind an absolute enforcing Rule, Law, or Tye, for another Mans Conscience, and seeing nothing of this would satisfie thee, I did conclude that thou wert not right in that particular …


Jamaica 1664
Source: Hidden things brought to light, or, The discord of the grand Quakers among themselves: discovered in some letter, papers, and passages, written to and from George Fox, James Nayler, and John Perrott: wherein may be seen the cause and ground of their Differences, and falling out: And what manner of Spirit, moved and acted Each of Them.
By: Robert Rich


Perrott’s response is significant. First, he tells Fox that it was through the motion of the Spirit in his conscience that he did not remove his hat during prayer and that that act of removing his hat would be against the impulse of Christ upon his conscience and that it would be sinful for him to follow the prompting of the Saints over against that the the Spirit itself in his conscience. Notice also, that Perrott does not judge or criticize those who, through the impulse of the inshining Light upon their own conscience, do remove their hats during prayer. He does not judge them, as Fox judged him, because Perrott does not seek the unity of the Quaker gathering through conformity to outward forms and ceremonies. He testifies that true unity is in each person adhering solely to the impulse of the Spirit itself and abiding each in the experience of the Spirit itself rather than in out ceremony and practice.

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