Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
ResearchNotes, Code:DisFirWis, Naylor, Creature, forebearance, condescension
The second man is spiritually begotten by the Spirit of the immortal seed, is the express image of the Father; he knows the Father and is known of him, not by relation of the creature but by the in dwelling of God in him, and he in him, according to that measure of the light revealed in him. (A Disovery of the First Wisdom from Beneath and the Second Wisdom from Above. By James Naylor, Simmons 1656 pg. 10)
There is a witness, in early Quaker writings, of being solely guided by the inshining light of Christ. This withness is not universally testified to in the same way between many in the gathering and even individuals will express this witness in seemlingly contradictory ways in their own writings. The earliest writings that came from out of the gathering, contain a deep sesnse of experience that a single reading often misses.
In the quote above, Naylor speaks of the Second Man (one who knows the Spirit of Christ within them) as immortal and the exact image of God. He also says that the second man knows and is know of God not by relation of the creature. This has been a curious phrase to me for a couple years now. The second man knows and is known of God not by relation of the creature. In his late 18th century dictionary Samuel Johnson defined creature as:
A being not self-existent, but created by the supreme power.
If Johnson’s definition matches that of Naylor’s, there is some curious and compelling meaning here. The second men knows God and is know of God not in a creator/created relationship. That is, there is a sense of the second man coming into or discovering self-existent being. The second man, Naylor writes, is the express or exact image of God. That is, when the second man sees or experiences or knows the presence of God so that God is in him and he is in God and self-existent being/Being is discovered through a relationship wherein there is God is not related to as a separate being but in a unity or neer Communion as Naylor writes.
Early in the pamphlet, Naylor writes that the first man worships of God at a distance, and knows him not, nor where he is, but by relation from others, either by word or writing: and as he recieves his knowledge of him from men, so if men, on whom he depends, command him to o the Steepl-house, he goes … (Simmons 1656 pg. 8). Here Naylor testifies to an abstract or distant relationship more like the creator and created.
Naylor writes further on page eight:
And thus in vain doth he worship, receiving for Doctrines the commandments of men, and so uphold and plead for a customary worship in a form of tradition, which he is resolved to practice as long as he lives; but as for any other fellowship with God, or knowledge of him, or overcoming the body of sin, or growing up toward perfection, he loooks for none while he is here; but he hath set up his Stand as far as he intends to go, and if any go any further, or witness any more then he knows, he accounts it blasphemy, and cries out against it, as a thing or to be suffered, and with carnal weapons would force all to his light, but who have eyes open see him to be blind.
In the next paragraph he writes:
- The second man worships a God at hand, where he dwells in his Holy Temple, and he knows him by his own word from his dwelling place and not by relation of others …and the Apostle exhorts the Saints to wait for the appearance of Christ in themselves, and to wait for the day Star arising in their hearts, and they knew themselves to be the Sons of God by the Spirit that he had given them, and so doth he that is born of the Spirit, and by the same Spirit that witnesseth God dwelling in him is he taught how, & where, and after what manner he will be worshipped, and he knows what he worships, and he worships in spirit, and he prays in the spirit and sings in the spirit, an with understanding also, and not in form and custom, and he hath an Ear open to hear what the spirit saith, by which he is taught when and how to pray, to sing, to fast and Feast of fat things, whereby the soul is nourished and feeds not the lust, he Feasts the inward man and not the outward, for all is spiritual, and so grows in the spirit into near Communion with God, and gathering victory over sin, the World, and the Devil, and as he comes into punitive, he is changed into the Image of the Lord from glory to glory, and all by the spirit.*
Considerations for development:
The first man who is guided and informed by outward religious forms and traditions is of a creaturely relation. His mind (consciousness) and heart (conscience) is anchored in and informed by the process of participation in and identification with outwardly setup and established forms professed by teachers and leaders (i.e. in creaturely relations) etc., within institutions designed to promote and foster the process itself. The second man enters into communion with and participation in the presence of God so that immanent Presence itself in itself is his identity and the source of his consciousness guiding his conscience without reference to and regard for the outward teachings and institutions of reigious leaders. This teaching in immanent presence is intuitive and non-conceptual.
Again, It is important to stay mindful of the complexity of spiritual experience in general and in the first two centuries of the Quaker gathering specifically. For, while there is a sense of a deep communion with the inshining immanent Presence of the Image of God (in early Quaker literature) that witnesses a coming into eternal self-existence that puts on the Image of God itself in itself in the mind and heart, the intensity of this experience is relative to each individual. More importantly, the willingness or leading to testify publically to the witness is as relative. For it is one thing, through the appearance of the inshining Light, it is one thing to witness (experience) oneness with immanent Presence that opens and reveals a new Self that puts on self-existence in the knowledge of the Presence of God, it is another to testify to such a witness. Research suggests a habit of forbearance manifested in the gather that led to a condescension toward those whose spiritual posture was less intuitive and more conceptual … relatively speaking. This condescension manifested a fear and/or unwillingness to opening testify to the witness of immanent self-existence through the inshining presence of God for the sake of others in the gathering. In the literature of Naylor (and other first and early Quakers) there is often a passing mention of forebearance and condescension. There is little doubt that testifying to immanent self-existence through the inshining Presence of God caused much discomfort among many 17th Quakers, that led to open chastisment, ridicule, and demonization, and sometimes disownment by some in the gathering toward others. However, with that said, there is no indication, in the literature, that those who came into the witness of immanent communion and self-existentence through the inshining presence of God, where immune from castigation and demonization of those in the gathering who did not share the intensity of their witness … at least there is no public indication.
This leads me to the consideration that those people of both sides, who were public, were a small minority or representation of those in the gathering who shared their witness or experience. As a researcher, I cannot but be tempered and mindful of the deep sense of forbearance and condescension that may have manifested in the vast majority of the early Quaker gathering and that that forbearance and condescension was a more true mark of the impulse and motion of the presence of God guiding the gathering as a whole … manifesting a the true and pure unity that both parties testiify to as their withness during first couple centuries of the gathering.