Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
Research Note, Inshining Light sufficiency, Outward Forms, excommunication, I AM
In The Quakers Spiritual Court Proclaimed published in 1669, Nathaniel Smith writes:
... all Sects, Formes, or other Dispensations, it thou please to call them so (or by what Name soever) after they have raised to themselves a considerable number of People, then they go about to set up themselves, and make to themselves Laws, whereby they may Govern, and bear Rule one over another; for these People called the Quakers, were the only People that did speak against this, and said, That Man ought to fear God, and to walk justly before him, and be taught of him; but now they have a Rule or a Light to walk by, (or rather of Law) and if any do not observe this, then he is cast out from amongst them, as not being one of the Flock of God.
This is another compelling piece of personal testimony (anecdotal) suggesting that there was a time at the foundation of the Quaker gathering wherein not only were they not guided and informed by outward forms and insitutions, but they actually spoke out (relatively speaking) against the very process of identification with and participation with outward forms to rule and govern over against the conscience. Smith here actually takes the time to point that Quakers, were the only People that did speak against this and who testified to the sufficiency of being taught of God. He also documents that there came a time wherein, like all other “Dispensations,” some of the quakers were led back into idenitification with and participation in outward forms.
The is compelling to me because, in my research, Smith’s testimony mirrors the testimonies of a number of other founding and early Quakers; which I will also publish over time. One piece of anecdotal information is not reliable enough to support a conclusion, however, a number of them over time and place and from different people, can be.