So that the true church government being in the Spirit, and over the conscience as in the sight of God, the great care must be to keep it within its bounds, that nothing else govern but the Spirit, and that the government be extended only unto that which is to be governed.

First, Care must be had that nothing govern in the church of Christ, but the spirit of Christ: that nothing else teach; nothing else exhort; nothing else admonish and reprove ; nothing else cut off and cast out. Every minister in the church is to watch over his own spirit, that it intrude not into the work of God, that it take not upon it to be the teacher, the exhorter, the reprover, &c. And every member is to wait in the measure of the Spirit which he hath received, to feel the goings-forth of the Spirit in him who teacheth and governeth ; and so to subject not to man, but to the Lord ; to receive from the Lord, to obey the Lord. Not to know any minister according to the flesh ; but to receive and submit to what comes from the Spirit, in the Spirit. Not to know Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, but the Spirit ministering in them. Paul may err, Apollos may err, Peter may err (and did err, when he compelled the Gentiles to live as the Jews, Gal. ii. 14. for which Paul withstood him to the face. ver. 11.), and Barnabas also did err. ver. 13. But the Spirit cannot err; and he that keeps to the measure of the Spirit in himself, cannot let in any of their errors, if they should err, but is preserved. For the least measure of the Spirit is true, and gives true judgment; but he that receiveth ever so great a measure of the Spirit, yet if he keep not low therein, but lifteth up himself because thereof above his brethren, may easily err himself, and draw aside others into his error.

Secondly, Care must be had that the conscience be kept tender, that nothing be received, but according to the light in the conscience. The conscience is the seat of faith; and if it be not kept close to the light which God lighteth there, faith is soon made shipwreck of. Christianity is begun in the Spirit, which keepeth out the fleshly part, with all its fleshly wisdom and reasonings about spiritual things; and the beginning is in the anointing, so must the progress be. As the Spirit begins in the conscience, by convincing that, by persuading that, by setting up his light there, and leading the soul by that light; so that light must still be eyed, and according to its growth and manifestation in the conscience, so must the soul stand still, or go on.
Isaac Penington "The Works" Vol. 1 page 459

"The conscience is the seat of faith" and "the Spirit begins in the conscience" are phrases speaking to very core and essence of christened human being. When reading first Quakers and their regular and frequent use of the "conscience," a deeper insight into their meaning is gained by keeping in mind the etymology of conscience. During the 17th century, when the first Quakers were writing, conscience had a more nuanced meaning than the moral component of today. It also carried the sense of consciousness or conscious or self- conscious ( see https://docs.google.com/document/d/1ME36XOI32OZZQLqyG_mJqPKPO4xN2ns...).

So when Penington writes "the conscience is the seat of faith" a more nuanced sense of the meaning behind his use of the term is conscious and conscience is the seat of faith or the Spirit begins in the conscious and conscience. That is why I often use a phrase like "a conscious anchored in and a conscience informed by the unmediated Presence." It is a way of honoring the nuance in the the first Quakers use of conscience.

When Penington writes "the Spirit begins in the conscience" he is saying the activity or work of the spirit is in consciousness and conscience. The inward working of the Spirit is in influencing or illuminating the conscious and conscience directly. This witness to the Spirit governing and anchoring conscience and conscious is the essence of first Quaker experience and the experience of those who share the same experience today.

What does this witness of the Spirit working in and governing the conscious and conscience mean? In essence, this experience is a different way of being conscious and a re-direction of how the conscience is informed. In this different conscious and conscience, the Spirit itself begins to anchor conscious in itself rather than in the normal way of consciousness which is anchored in outward forms like sense perceptions, thoughts, emotions, will, secular or religious ideology, religious theology, scripture, secular and religious institutions, secular or religious tradition, etc. The conscious anchored in these outward forms cannot sustain without them. This is easily illustrated by imagining being without sight, smell, touch, taste, hearing, thoughts from the brain, emotions from the heart, desires and will. When the physical body which supports these expires consciousness know longer sustains. A conscious anchored in the body or bodily nature dims with the expired body. The fear of death is the fear of loss of consciousness. Also, the informing the conscience directly is a redirection away from a conscience largely informed by outward forms. It is morality oriented from a different direction inwardly in the Spirit itself rather than mediated through the outward shadows or similitudes of the Spirit. The Spirit itself mediates.

Another way of sensing a conscious anchored in and a conscience informed the Presence itself is to ask who or what is seeing those hands typing on the computer; who on what looking at that body? Really ask yourself, who looking at your body? If you wait long enough in this question, you will begin to sense a Presence that is always there. A Presence that never leaves even when you no longer sense it because conscious and conscience are gathered up again into outward forms ... conscious is caught up the bodily nature. That is, there is work to do, babies to feed, errands to run. Imagine though, doing all those daily activities and staying gathered in that Presence.

Turning to that inward Presence begins in the conscious and conscience. Each of us has a measure the Spirit. We need only wait in that inwardly experienced measure we have and we will experience an increase so that our conscious will become more and more illuminated by inward Spirit and our conscience will become more and more informed by the Spirit directly than through outward secular and religious forms or through ouwardly expired or expressed thoughts and practices of other people. In the christening of the Spirit you will know and experience a different consciousness and a different conscience anchored in a informed by the immediancy the Spirit itself ... you will know and experience a conscious and conscience that will live and sustain even upon the expiration of the body ... you will know and experience eternal life ... you will be born again into a different conscious and conscience ... you will be saved. That is the promise of the new covenant.

Views: 251

Comment by James C Schultz on 1st mo. 18, 2015 at 5:14pm

Not to easy to follow for an old geezer like myself but the truth is there.  If you could make it simpler you would rival the best selling books on mindfulness and awareness that are popular in the secular book world.  I think at the end of the post you minimize the result of what you urge by doing what I often do - falling back into popular religious terminology.  So far as I understand it, this is also relevant to what the Experiment with the Light tries to do in a disciplined communal way.

Comment by Keith Saylor on 1st mo. 18, 2015 at 6:36pm

Thank you for your thoughts James. I have been immersed in Penington for a few months. You know how sometimes, when one day talking with a lifelong friend, you each happen upon the realization that your relationship and friendship is on a level much deeper than you previously conceived? That is how I feel with the writings of Penington. There is an intuitive and inspiring experience in reading his words that reviles that of reading Scirpture and the Gospel of Thomas.  

I'm close to completing an upholstery project that has been a challenge. I kept redoing and redoing a particular part of the project because I was not satisfied with it. It was so frustrating at times. That is how I feel about the message inspired by Presence within me. "I just can't get the words right, Lord." I find myself admonishing him over and over. Then I settle back into the quite and my conscious is illuminated and my conscience restored and I am aware that it is not my job to speak the perfect witness, it is His.

Comment by James C Schultz on 1st mo. 18, 2015 at 7:21pm

Am I right in thinking Pennington's "conscience" as you explain it is not the same as Paul's?

Comment by Keith Saylor on 1st mo. 18, 2015 at 8:11pm

Would you explain your question further? How do you think Paul's conscience is not the same as the way I explained Penington's. What is the nature of Paul's conscience that you think is different?

Comment by James C Schultz on 1st mo. 18, 2015 at 8:25pm

My understanding of the conscience that Paul talks about is our Moral compass that is formed by our society or culture and The Law or religious principals we were taught in our particular religion.  This is what he says must be purified by the Spirit.  As you point out we need a new purified conscience that is the work of the Spirit.  After the Spirit's work is done, if that ever truly gets done in this lifetime, the moral compass conscience will be in complete harmony with our consciousness (I like to think of that as the Mind of Christ but maybe I misunderstood your use of the word).

Comment by Keith Saylor on 1st mo. 19, 2015 at 12:29pm

Hi James, thank you for the clarification.  I think I understand your question better. I am going on 48 hours of no sleep trying to get an upholstery project completed. For the moment I will address your question very quickly and then expand on it later if needed.  Penington and Paul are not in disagreement over the nature of a conscience informed by unmediated Spirit. Paul himself speaks to being taught directly by Christ in various place in his writings, for example, the beginning of 1 Cor. Ch 1. The tension comes when Paul admonishes those whose measure of inward Light informing conscience, generally speaking, are significantly dimmed by the bodily nature to adhere to outward forms (rules etc.) to inform their conscience. Paul admonishes those he deems bound to the bodily nature to imitate him in various of his letters. Penington, generally speaking, approaches those whose measure of the Light informing conscious is dimmed by the bodily nature rather than a conscience, generally speaking, informed by the inward Light with a message of resting in their measure of inward Light and waiting patiently upon the promised increase of that measure. He seeks the direct experience of Presence itself as the teacher and the beginning of religion rather than mediation through similitudes of Presence Penington seeks to nurture to light within them directly rather than through the mediation and imitation of outward forms, even that outward form is Paul, or scripture, or religion, or theology.

A passage from the Penington quote I began this post with is illustrative:

 And every member is to wait in the measure of the Spirit which he hath received, to feel the goings-forth of the Spirit in him who teacheth and governeth ; and so to subject not to man, but to the Lord ; to receive from the Lord, to obey the Lord. Not to know any minister according to the flesh ; but to receive and submit to what comes from the Spirit, in the Spirit. Not to know Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, but the Spirit ministering in them. Paul may err, Apollos may err, Peter may err (and did err, when he compelled the Gentiles to live as the Jews, Gal. ii. 14. for which Paul withstood him to the face. ver. 11.), and Barnabas also did err. ver. 13. But the Spirit cannot err; and he that keeps to the measure of the Spirit in himself, cannot let in any of their errors, if they should err, but is preserved. For the least measure of the Spirit is true, and gives true judgment ...

Penington ever admonishes the Presence itself, even to those with the least of measure, instead of adherence to outward rules, principles, the Law of Moses, etc. They do not disagree on a conscience informed by Presence itself, they both know the experience. They is some tension about howto  help nurture increase measure through the power of Christ. 

I hope I expressed this clearly in my mind numbed state of little sleep.

Thank you for engaging.

Comment by James C Schultz on 1st mo. 19, 2015 at 6:11pm

I'm going to let you get some sleep and then I'm going to start a follow up from a different angle in a new discussion because I don't want to hi-jack Pennington.

Comment by Diane Benton on 1st mo. 21, 2015 at 12:44pm

Keith, I was following the conversation on the NFF website until they “disowned” your message and “read you out of meeting”.  So sad!

I’m glad I found you here because I’m resonating with what you’re saying.  James sounds like he’s a worthy discussion partner.

Comment by Keith Saylor on 1st mo. 21, 2015 at 1:56pm

Hello Diane,

The short period of time I spent with them was instructive and edifying, even though there was and is severe disagreement between us. My labor with them has strengthened the message of the sufficiency of direct and unmediated inspirued Presence within me. I wished them well in a private email conversation and have no animosity or disquiet relative to the their decision. To be disowned is often liberation for both the one disowned and those who disown.

Comment by Diane Benton on 1st mo. 21, 2015 at 2:32pm

Your gracious spirit is something I appreciate.  I, too, have found resistance to be a gift.  Leaning into it gives lift.  When going in different directions it is definitely best to unyoke.  Truth needs to be spoken and then Presence allowed to do its work.

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