Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
The Church-State and way of worship not the knowledge or the faith in the Life ...
I have smarted deeply for these things, and have been taught by the briars and thorns of the wilderness, whereby my ears came to be opened, to hear the sound of the everlasting gospel, to which they were before through ignorance stopped. For I also did believe and expect great things in a church-state and way of worship; and in simplicity of heart did I enter into it, and walk in it, and was not without knowledge, warmth, and experiences there. But all this the Lord broke down by a strong hand, in one moment; and hath taught me since to throw away all my gains here, and elsewhere, and to count them but dross and dung, for the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ my Lord. And having tasted, having seen, having felt, having handled, I cannot but commend the life ; and dissuade all men from all knowledge, all worship, all religion, all ways, and practices (though ever so taking, pleasant, and promising), out of the life. And this is to know Christ; namely, to know the life: and this is to obey Christ, to obey the life: and this is the kingdom of Christ which is to come, to have the life reign in power and great glory. But the knowing or believing of a history concerning Christ, this is not the knowledge or the faith: antichrist all along the apostasy, in all his various forms and dresses, hath known and believed thus: and this kind of knowledge must pass away, further than it can find a place and service in the life. Be not angry at my testimony; it flows from pure love, and comes forth in great good-will to your souls.
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This is powerful testimony from Penington. Here he unambiguously calls all knowledge, all worship, all religion, all ways and practices (though ever so taking, pleasant, and promising) out of the life, dross and dung.
He unambiguously affirms the sufficiency the life. And call all outward thoughts, institutions, and practices, about the life dross and dung. He admonishes to live the life. Knowing and believing of a history concerning Christ ... he says ... is not the knowledge or the faith. The knowledge and the faith is the direct experience of the life.
This testimony is cordial to my conscious and conscience. I affirm it not because Penington says it. I affirm it through the workings of the Presence within me. I am experiencing that which he experienced. I am well on the path to not believing or seeking knowledge through any theology, any doctrine, any scripture, any religion, any practice. I seek only the immediacy of the Presence unmediated through words or thoughts. Consciousness and conscience free from the borrowed experiences of others by knowing through direct experience the Life within. I am not religious, I am not theist, I am not atheist, I am not Quaker, I am not Baptist, I am not Christian, I am not Protestant, Catholic. In the Presence of Christ ... I am. I am without predication.
This is my testimony. This is my journey. I am thankful their are others who fellowship with me. I am thankful for the fellowship I find in the writings of the early Quakers.
The Life is individual consciousness and conscience anchored in the direct experience of the Presence.