From John Woolman (1741)

I went to meetings in an awful frame of mind, and endeavored to be inwardly acquainted with the language of the true Shepherd. And one day, being under a strong exercise of spirit, I stood up, and said some words in a meeting, but not keeping close to the divine opening, I said more than was required of me and being soon sensible to my error, I was afflicted in mind some weeks, without any light or comfort, even to that degree that I could take satisfaction in nothing. I remembered God and was troubled, and in the depth of my distress he had pity upon me, and sent the Comforter. I then felt forgiveness for my offence, and my mind became calm and quiet, being truly thankful to my gracious Redeemer for his mercies. And after this, feeling the spring of divine love opened, and a concern to speak, I said a few words in a meeting in which I found peace. This I believe was about six weeks from the first time, and as I was thus humbled and disciplined under the cross, my understanding became more strengthened to distinguish the language of the pure spirit which inwardly moves upon the heart, and taught me to wait in silence sometimes many weeks together, until I felt that rise which prepares the creature to stand like a trumpet, through which the Lord speaks to his flock. John Woolman (1741)

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Comment by William F Rushby on 5th mo. 6, 2020 at 11:29am

I don't mind!  

Comment by William F Rushby on 5th mo. 6, 2020 at 2:27pm

Forrest Curo wrote: "Seriously, I need to write something that isn't limited to what who did in the 18th Century."

John Woolman's life and ministry aren't going to go away anytime soon! "He, being dead, yet speaketh."

In honesty, I can report that I have experienced something similar to his narrative in my own life and witness.

Comment by Keith Saylor on 5th mo. 8, 2020 at 1:38pm

Research Notes: MARIJW, Kershner Notecards and Quotecards
Source: Mysticism and Revelation in John Woolman's Theology by John Kershner.
URL: https://digitalcommons.georgefox.edu/qrt/vol125/iss1/6/

In the first paragraph of Kershner's conclusion to his article he writes:

Receiving and identifying God’s revelation was not a matter of rational, exegetical or theological methodology, it was the result of a new state in God, a state that crossed the borders of eternity, and provided Woolman with an “existential confidence”

Kershner finds that Woolman's leadings or openings were not of the nature of reflective or critical thought. It was a "new state in God." What is the nature of this new or different state and how does this new state guide and inform behavior?

Kershner hints at an answer when he observes that, for Woolman, those who did not follow a particular message or leading would experience being "shut up" to God's presence. That is, there would be an experience of a dimming of God's presence. This is a pivotal observation. The continual experience of God's presence and the action of the waxing, waning, or stasis of God's presence replaces the process of reflective, critical, or rational thought to guide behavior. An increased awareness of God's presence affirms an activity. Just as a decrease in God's presence suggests a particular behavior needs altering. It is this motion or impulse of God's presence that quides and informs human relationships and interactions. This is a different way of being and living in the world. It is being drawn out of reflective thought in relating to other people and it is discovered to us that the motion of God's presence itself in itself rules how we relate to others. Kershner further writes.

Woolman’s theology of revelation was contingent on Christ’s mystical presence, which was actively and directly instructing the faithful how to respond to the issues of their day and live a faithful life. This ongoing mystical presence leads to the second element in Woolman’s spiritual immediacy, the eschatological prolepsis in which Christ’s presence revealed the contours of human destiny and God’s ultimate ends

This "active" and "direct" instruction is not of the nature of reflective thought. It is the directly experienced operation of the waxing, waning, and stasis of God's presence that instructs. It is the direct experience of the motion of God's presence that instructs, not the leading. As Wool man's testimony indicates in the original Quote that started this thread.

Kershner also writes:

By mystical, then, I mean that Woolman believed himself to be united to God’s will and capable of knowing and doing what God prescribed moment by moment, what Woolman sometimes called having “the mind of Christ,” a phrase borrowed from the Apostle Paul. The immediacy of Christ was continual and ongoing, for Woolman this immediacy was not merely a perception, it was primarily a command of God and a new way of being within the world. Woolman was adamant that the effects of spiritual connection would be manifest in new ways of acting in the world, such as “looking into the wants of the poor…”

The capacity of "knowing" God's prescription is through the experience of God's relative impulse of the waxing, waning, or stasis of immanent being. The knowing is not rational, it is the result of alignment with the active and continual experience of relative impulse of God's presence immanently in a given interaction with other people. This is truly a different way of being and relating to people. To be united with God's will is to know and experience the relative impulse of immanent being in the conscience.

Comment by William F Rushby on 5th mo. 9, 2020 at 4:39am

Thanks, Keith, for your comments about John Woolman's mode(s) of religious knowing.  If I understand correctly, you have said that Woolman favored the intuitive very strongly over the rational.  Is that correct?  It seems that you also conclude that Woolman's lapses into a rational approach to understanding God and His will "shut down" Woolman's sense of God's presence.   Is that correct?

I wish that we had someone so well acquainted with Woolman's journal and other writings that they could point to excerpts from Woolman that would "flesh out" what he knew about God and how he knew it!

I don't know enough about Woolman to do this job of "fleshing out" his approach to spirituality myself.  I am aware of certain incidents which illustrate his ethical sensitivity.  I'm thinking of the  occasion when he killed the mother bird and then realized the consequences of what he had done.  And also of the time when his employer asked him to write a bill of sale for a slave and Woolman found that he couldn't do it.  What was the "mental process" involved in these two events, and are there other similar experiences that guided Woolman's decision-making?

I am also aware of Woolman's vision of the luminescent tree and wonder how it embodies his "spiritual knowing."  Did he also have other visionary experiences of that kind?

Comment by William F Rushby on 5th mo. 9, 2020 at 4:49am

I would also like to know more about Woolman's experiences in vocal ministry, similar to the narrative that started this thread.

Are these experiences relevant to us today, hundreds of years after Woolman lived and ministered?  If so, how do they inform our own approach to ministry?

Comment by Keith Saylor on 5th mo. 9, 2020 at 12:17pm

Hello William, Through the living impulse of the spirit of Christ within me, my heart is tender to your conversation and questions. It has been a long time since I have taken up the writings of Woolman. However, I am opened to working through his writings together in pursuit of your concerns toward our mutual edification under the power of the living immanent heavenly Principle itself in itself. I have begun revisiting his journal and other writings and will begin by addressing your questions to me as a preface to a closer visitation with Woolman's writings. I will use this thread as the framework to move forward and post over the next few months as the awareness of the pure motion of the immanent presence of God is risen within me.

Comment by Keith Saylor on 5th mo. 28, 2020 at 10:29am

Preface to Study

Hello William

In consideration of how to proceed with this study of John Woolman's Journal, I concluded to anchor the study on questions and comments you posted.

I wish that we had someone so well acquainted with Woolman's journal and other writings that they could point to excerpts from Woolman that would "flesh out" what he knew about God and how he knew it!

I don't know enough about Woolman to do this job of "fleshing out" his approach to spirituality myself. I am aware of certain incidents which illustrate his ethical sensitivity. I'm thinking of the occasion when he killed the mother bird and then realized the consequences of what he had done. And also of the time when his employer asked him to write a bill of sale for a slave and Woolman found that he couldn't do it. What was the "mental process" involved in these two events, and are there other similar experiences that guided Woolman's decision-making?

I am also aware of Woolman's vision of the luminescent tree and wonder how it embodies his "spiritual knowing." Did he also have other visionary experiences of that kind?

I would also like to know more about Woolman's experiences in vocal ministry, similar to the narrative that started this thread.

Are these experiences relevant to us today, hundreds of years after Woolman lived and ministered? If so, how do they inform our own approach to ministry?

Thanks, Keith, for your comments about John Woolman's mode(s) of religious knowing. If I understand correctly, you have said that Woolman favored the intuitive very strongly over the rational. Is that correct? It seems that you also conclude that Woolman's lapses into a rational approach to understanding God and His will "shut down" Woolman's sense of God's presence. Is that correct?

These quotes were gleaned from the comments section on the post at: http://www.quakerquaker.org/profiles/blogs/from-john-woolman-on-min...

Keywords: Knowledge of God, Source of Knowledge, Reflective Thought, Spiritual Knowing, Vocal Ministry, Rational Knowledge, Intuitive Knowledge

With these focal points in mind, I decided to jump ahead and go over chapter 8 of Woolman's Journal to begin things. This is because many of your guiding questions and comments are touched upon in this chapter, however, in the context of relatively less sweeping concerns. It is hoped these concerns will not distract from the focal framework established through your questions and comments and will help plant and establish well a rooted approach. I will publish full copies of each Chapter as we move through the Journal.

Comment by William F Rushby on 5th mo. 28, 2020 at 11:03am

++++

Comment by Keith Saylor on 6th mo. 27, 2020 at 12:59pm

Chapter Eight from Woolman's Journal and an essay entitled "Serious Considerations on Various Subjects of Importance" has been keyboarded and published for use as reference. The basic online structure is created for the eventual publication of Woolman's Journal and essays.

I hope to begin looking at various particulars of Chapter 8 along with some cross-referencing with the above mentioned essay this upcoming week.

Here are links to the content

Woolman Journal Title Page

Woolman's Journal Chapter 8

Serious Considerations on Various Subjects of Importance

Comment by Keith Saylor on 6th mo. 30, 2020 at 12:23pm

Last minute changes.

For various reasons I have created a independent framework for Woolman's  Journal.

Ignore the links above. Here are the new links to the Journal

Journal Title Page

Woolman Journal Chapter Eight

Serious Considerations on various subjects'

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