Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
Many people have asked me in the past which early Quaker I most sense a fellowship. Their question was difficult for me to answer. I could name names, however, I was compelled to add numerous qualifications. Generally, I would say John Perrot, and then add qualifications. William Salt is an early Quaker with whom I sense a deep and abiding fellowship without qualification. My research so far suggests he first shows up as a companion of George Fox in their endeavors to spread the news of the risen Christ in the hearts of all people. This is documented in the pamphlet entitled "The West Answering to the North." 1657, wherein the persecution by the magistrates of the fellowship of three (of whom Salt was one) is laid out.
It becomes clear that at or around 1660, when George Fox, and those who followed him, began enforcing the institutionalizing the Quaker gathering, William Salt could not in good conscious join with them and, (in fellowship with John Perrot) it seems, after expressing his concerns with integrity and not in the spirit of contention and strife ... he withdrew.
I share with you a part of Salt's "Some Breathings of Life, from a Naked Heart." 1663:
SOME BREATHINGS OF LIFE, From a Naked Heart. Presented in Love to the Honest, Vpright, and Single-Hearted, That they, with me may wait to feel the imediate Drawings, and Leadings of the Holy Spirit in all things; Or come to know that State which the Apostle speaks of, to have the Anointing to teach them all things, or of all things that cometh from Christ, Gods Anointed; So that they need not any man to Teach them, 1 Joh. 2.27. With an Epistle for Peace and Unity.
Thus hath it been said by a Servant of the Lord. If Thy Presence go not with us, carry us not from hence. And another blamed some for that They had need to be Taught the first Principles of the Oracles of God. Not by Might, nor by Power, but by my Spirit saith the Lord of Hosts. Who art thou O Great Mountain, before Zerubbabel Thou shalt become a Plain, and he shall bring forth the Head Stone thereof, with Shoutings, Crying Grace, Grace unto it.
Printed in the Year, 1663
[Page 3] Some Breathings of Life, from a Naked Heart.
Not to run with the Stream, nor Strive against the Flood which casts up its Mire and Dirt (which is the same with that in France, Italy, Spain, &c.) for it is the Nature of the Sea to cast up its Mire and Dirt; therefore to stand still in the Arke, to abide still in the Secret of the Almighty, and so to keep out of its reach, not to strive against it, least it cast upon thee its Mire and Dirt; neither to run with the Stream, for it runs into the Sea that is Bottomlesse. So strive not, stir not, nor provoke, but stand still, and the Lord will dry it up. Which shall not hinder the Churches coming out of the Wildernesse, though the Dragon may cast out his Floods, but come over every green thing, yea those Professors that have talked of Noah's Flood returning, and abide not in the Ark, will run with it. And many Floods shall passe over the Righteous Soul whom the Lord will Deliver, and will be as a Winter-storm; So that its like the Floods may rise, and swell, and may prevail for a while, but who are in the Arke will ride upon the Floods; So that there is no going out, but to stand still, till it be abated. And there hath been a time of bringing all Home, of bringing them to their own, and there may be a time of keeping at Home. And so every one to sit down under his own Vine, and quietly to enjoy the Fruits of his Labours, for it hath been the Lords Work to bring us hither. And he that hath laboured, will now come to eat. So let Israel abide in their Tents, and not in any thing outwardly to put forth, but as seeing the thing inwardly in their own Life, and according to the moveings and leadings of the Spirit of the Lord, for therein is safety, that their own life may be their head in every thing.
And the Lord bid Noah go forth of the Arke before he went forth, after that the Flood was abated. So that as he Commanded him in, so he Commanded him forth again, and he was held in Subjection.
So that the mans part being kept down, any thing may be done at the Commandment of the Lord where the Creature is held in Subjection.
If I find movings from the Spirit of the Lord, to put off any Garment, or the whole, and see the end thereof, I may do it, otherwise [Page 4] it would be wisdom to let it alone in its place.
And if it be to go to any man, or place, I may do it as I find drawings, and there it would be safest to find leadings to it, and the hasty thing kept down, and the Creature kept to the lowly, humble self abasing Spirit.
And though I have an high esteem as to Meetings, yet I am not to do the thing in my own will or time, nor any other, least it be said who required this at your hands. So that there is no other course to come into, but that which the Spirit of the Lord leads into daily; And not to uphold any thing because it hath been done, no farther then the Spirit of the Lord moves, or leads thereunto at the present, Newly, for I am to serve God in Newnesse of Spirit; and so is the Creature kept in a daily Subjection to the Spirit in every thing.
And so as sometimes I have said, Let Life lead in all things, and as that leads, so to follow (or else to be still) if it be from House to House, so that I am to Act from the Life. For the Worship of God is a weighty thing, therefore am I to do it rightly, and truely, in the sincerity of my heart, and not lightly, as a Costome, Tradition or formal thing, but in the strength of my Life. And this is not to bring things out of course, or leave things at uncertainties, to do it in the moveings and leadings of the Spirit of the Lord daily and hourly in every thing, for who are from the feeling of that, and the leading of that run at uncertainties.
Therefore if I go to a Meeting, I go in the moveings, or in the fear and dread of the Lord upon my Spirit, in expectation of some thing that from the Lord hath been stirring thereunto (that both may be done in the Spirit wherein is the unity,) or else it would not be right in him or them that hath appointed it; and it would turn to Israels reproach not to have the Lord going before us in every Meeting, or thing done, to wait for his Motion or appearance, as towards that Thing or Service, or else not to put forth in it. And as was said by one, We are ready to hear all things that are Commanded thee of God, so say I. And it hath been upon my heart for the Preservation of the simple in this day, and the avoiding Customariness, and Formality in any Service of God. Go not forth but stand still, neither stir up the Souls Beloved untill he please, nor force the thing, but let it alone, untill he gently leads; that People might not loose their Expectation coming to find some appearance of the Lord, and find carelesnesle in Meetings, Customarinesse, Formality, Deadnesse and Drowsinesse, can they say this to be of the Lord, or according to the appointment of his Spirit?
[Page 5] Some have been blamed for that they were grown so formal, as to know before hand when to begin, and when to end their matter.
O that the dread of God may be upon all hearts in this day, that nothing may be given forth or attempted, but what he appears in first (for Christs Sheep hear his voice, and they follow him.) And the hungry would be willing to wait for his appearance, and many would be disappointed of their wicked intents and purposes, as not knowing the time, which the Seed of God raised up by the power of God fees all time in the Fathers hand or dispose; And so would Friends in their Service be preserved, serving in the Spirit, and walking in the Spirit, or else be still. Did Israel trust upon God, and rest wholly upon him, they would find him their rest. And good it is to be found faithfull in what they are called of God; And so in their Callings to abide with God, and then is man in his place, one day as well as another; for there hath been a time of shewing these things unto many, and there may be a time of practizing the same, what they have seen and that from the Lord concerning their coming out of observation of dayes; and though they cannot act therein so inoffensively as they would in respect of them without, yet to do it as inoffensively as they can. Now who have believed do enter into rest; and he that is entred into his rest he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his: And such a one his Servant shall rest as well as him, and his Cattel likewise, for a good man is merciful to his Beast. And if any more publiquely hath a testimony to bear against their day, and that from the Lord, let none be offended, but all Israel keep in, keep coole and quiet; And that is the way to keep safe, and not to strive to go forth that day more then another; If that there was formerly Collection for the Saints on the first day of the week, must there needs be meetings on that day, whether the Spirit of the Lord move or not? For as to time I know it, from the Lord, that there is none more holy then other. For the Seed of God being come up, sees over time, and beyond, and as it is kept in the Dominion over things in time, and keeps open and single unto God, which is the blessed Seed, or that in which the blessing is, and seeth all time in the Fathers hand. For feast-days, holy-dayes, or Sabbath-days, what were they more then Shadows of good things to come? but the Body is Christ, whose day is holy, and his rest is Everlasting. For all Shaddows were to terminate in something, be they what they would, Christ the end of all things in whom all Types, Figures and Shadows end, the restorer of the Creation, the Rest that God hath prepared for his People, in whose Arm of Power [Page 6] the weary Soul finds rest. And the resting in any outward Observation or Thing could not give rest to the Soul; therefore was there a necessity of bringing in that which was more perfect, the better hope by which we draw nigh unto God; And when that which is perfect is come, then that which is imperfect comes to be done away.
So each thing was to be done as under the Covenant in which it was, and according to its appointment; but the first gave place unto the second, and was changed, then there must be also a change of the rest; For the Priesthood being changed, there must be also a change of the things that were done under it; A change of their offerings, which Christ the one Offering ends, and the end of their Law by which they took their Tithes.
Christ within, the hope of Glory, the Mystery hid, but now revealed, praises be to his Name who liveth for ever, who is the Souls Bishop, who watcheth over, and taketh the Care of his Flock; for had his Compassions failed, we had not been a People, whose Love hath overcome my heart, therefore have I a Zeal for him, and for his People. And it is his blessed appearance that is to be waited for, that blesseth you, the Glory of the Lord to fill his own Temple, which appearance many have waited for. For of old they were to go up by appointment, and do things in its Order. And we are now to receive an appointment before we do, and to do things as under that Covenant in which we are, not according to the Letter of a dispensation, as they that were ordered according to the Law of the Carnal Commandment, which was to come to its end, but in newnesse of Spirit to receive the Commandment new, and in all things to be ordered according to the power of the endlesse Life.
For it is the New Testament to which we are come, where are new and fresh discoveries, and leadings according to his will that we are Children of; He made known his Will unto the Children of the first Covenant, which they were to obey and do, and he maketh knows his mind by putting his Law into our minds, that we might serve and obey him likewise, not as they did in the oldnesse of the Letter, but in newness of the Spirit. And this is that which we are to keep on in the New and Living way, that leadeth unto the Living God, wherein is found the Daily Bread; for that which I Received Yesterday, will not serve me to day, nor that which I have to day will not serve me to morrow, but I must have it fresh and new, and then it is good. So that this I find according to the mind of the Spirit of God in me to be the time under which we are (as New-Covenant Children) to [Page 7] Act in newnesse, to walk in newnesse of life, marke new, for the [...]ords have an import in the very sound of the Covenants, the first could not continue which was old and ready to vanish away, but the second is new and everlasting, and abides for ever, and is a Covenant of life and peace to all that stand in it, or live answerable to it.
So that this is according to what Moses Prophesied of Christ, that [...] was to be heard in all things. And said the Minister of Christ, whatsever ye do in word or deed do all in the Name of the Lord Jesus, or in his power, that the power may stir first, then in the name of Jesus which is the Saviour, there is safty. And so he may be called a spirituall man that doth all in the spirit, and with it and a good understanding, wherein the true worshippers worship the Father in spirit & in truth.
And this will be a Dread among People, that they see we serve God indeed, with Reverence and Godly Fear, not in our own Time nor Will, nor their Will, but when he pleaseth or stirreth, and not till then; And this is that which is acceptable, not Customary, Formally, or by Tradition as others have done, which the Lord hath cast out before us.
And the Lord knowes I am even sick with love, therefore beare with me, and overcome with the goodnesse of the Lord which my soule hath felt, and it is the life of love that I breath after to see brought forth among us, & to know the depth thereof; gifts may cease, and tongues may cease, but love abideth which is most excellent. And this when even tyred and wearied in my mind, the Lord fixed me upon his spirit of love which he hath born up in me, which I prayed the Lord and supplicated him for, as seeing a beauty in it, which the Lord will bring his people to more and more love, generall, universal, to live in it, and bring them over all straitnesse and narrownesse, Amen saith my spirit. Which I hope as the Lord hath brought me to see it, so he will enable me to abide in it.
And as touching them who have declared among us, and do goe forth, as they stand in their places and are serviceable to the Lord in the moveing of his spirit, to reprove sin and teach transgressors the way of God, and keep to their first principles, walking in the light of the Lamb, it is lovely, but not to meddle in what concernes them not, vaileing the mans part that the Lord alone might have all the glory. For thus it was said by them who were in the spirit of truth and of love, who is Paul, and who is Apollo, but servants by whom ye have believed; for neither is he that planteth any thing, nor he that watereth, but God that giveth the increase; mark, not any thing but God: and this [Page 8] farther ran through me from the spirit of the Lord, neither are they to be as Lords over Gods heritage, but to be Examples to the flock. And the Apostle who was not inferiour to the chiefest Apostles, yet he said he was nothing; And that the Lord might be all, and his truth all, they were content to abase themselves, and such the Lord will [...]. And that whereby I have been preserved this day hath been onely in the name and power of the Lord, his arme that hath upheld me, but I see siftings, and winnowings must come, and good it will be for many; And as the Lord hath tryed all other professions, so he will try this, that they that are approved may be made manifest. And this I see, Forms will be broken, the customary Observasion of dayes, and Friends preserved as the spirit of the Lord is harkened unto and obeyed, and goes before in all things. And that which I have come to see and feele into this day, and to have my heart fixed, yea that I can say my heart is fixed, I can sing and rejoyce, hath been through the travell of my soule, and prayers and supplications to the Lord that heares in secret, who hath had regard unto my low estate (whose mercy indureth for ever) and to see his people in the spirit of love, and the Imediate movings in it, and from it, indeed I should be Answered; And I hope (it being from my very Soul that I have defired it) that I shall see it and be satisfied. And I know he that dwelleth in the Love of God, dwelleth in a safe place, for He that dwelle [...] in Love, dwelleth in God, where Storms, Tempests, nor Pushings cannot come, nor hurt; The Creature may be hurt if he go forth, or let his mind forth, but keeping within he is safe, the mind out of the Creatures, or any visible thing up to the invisible God. And the Lord hath brought me to a State that I see over the Visibles, and where they are in their place, and man standing in his place, and the Creatures used in their place in Gods Covenant of Light are very good; So there is a necessity of perfecting what is begun, or bringing forth that which many are yet out of, Even perfect Love that thinks no evil, nor rejoyceth in Iniquity, wherein we may see one another, and serve one another, and not be smiting without cause, not to have the pure Life and Motions of the Spirit of Truth it self, judged by them that are Professors thereof, because it came not forth according to their Mind, Form, Time, or Way, even as others have done, ready to judge all out of their own way; when as it is evident the Lords way is not as mans wayes, and no man is to have Dominion over another faith, but to be helpers of each others joy, if they cannot help, then they are not to hinder; But the Lord will have all to bow and be [...] [Page 9] [...] him, be they never so strong there is need of a continual De [...]ance and eying him, even as the Servant of Christ of old De [...]ld, without him he could do nothing, but in him he could do all things; [...] have been brought to see my own weaknesse, and my own [...]gth, and in that could do nothing, and when I have been weak [...] then have I been strongest, and the Lords strength is pretious, And as it hath been so it is, Every mans way hath been right in his own [...], but the Lord pondereth the Steps; And in him was no Form nor [...]linesse, nor nothing to be desired; Mark, here did not appear Form nor Comlinesse, but a man of Sorrows, and acquainted with Griefs; So who stands in the Holy Mountain, will see and walk over all these Forms, Outward-appearances, and Comliness, and know the Kings Daughter that is all glorious within.
And this would not leave any at a loss or uncertainty, to be guided and led by the Spirit of God in all things, and if guided, then that to go before, or be directed by it, for there is no other way whereby the Lord will carry on his own work; Not by Might, nor by Power, but by my Spirit saith the Lord; And the Spirit is not to be tyed or bound unto mans Conveniency, or limited to the narrow compass of his occasions to serve him when he hath leasture, but the Creature is to [...]ve way unto him; So that a man going without his guide may ea [...] loose his way, and that imediately, to see or to hear it, otherwise he goes but uncertainly. And where Friends have provided a [...], or others have given up their House as to a Meeting-Place, it may be made use of, when they feel stirrings in the life, both in respect of time and place, as they see, or are moved by the Eternal, in which they stand over all the Earth, and there will be safety, whatsoever may come either to dye or to live, even in and through the Eternal Spirit to offer up themselves.
And such that are Simple-hearted, and go in simplicity of their [...]arts to such Meetings, directed or led into by the Spirit of the Lord, [...] his own Seed-sake, them the Lord may preserve, but to do the [...] clearly in the Life, and imediate movings of the Spirit towards [...] a thing is sure and safe, & it would be disobedience if not answered, if required; for it is the Lord that is to be hearked unto, and his [...] obeyed, and the Creature not to go forth into any thing, any [...]ther then that leadeth, but to be kept in subjection; for if you [...] to feel the thing in your selves, and it be not hearked unto, [...] shall go on any in a Formality or Customarinesse, out of the ime [...]ate Leadings and Guidance of the Spirit of the Lord, The thing will [Page 10] come over you, and overtake you, and some will be burthened thereat, untill they do declare against it Publickly. And so walking in the unity of the Spirit, and keeping down the mans part, then unity would be preserved and strengthned; for if the Spirit be stopt, or quenched, then the unity is quenched, that is plain; And this would put a stop quickly to all Customary and Formal proceedings, all to do, and every one to do as they are moved of the Spirit by the Lord, which is Holy, Just and True. And thus I have born forth my Testimony, as moved of the Lord, and in Love to you all, wherein let me be Received.
Perhaps Salt's words will speak to the conscious of some as his words speaks in my own.