Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Do not Borrow or Steal in the face of ridicule, innuendo, and characterization.

When the measure of presence or illumination of the inshining Light is so strong and bright that identity, meaning, and purpose, is complete in the Light ( or inherent self-existence) itself without reference to any other outward forms, traditions, feelings, ideologies, institutions, practices, etc., then ridicule, mischaracterization, innuendo, caricature, and illusions, do not deflect or turn from direct Witness (or inherent self-existence) itself in itself. That is, the heritage of inherent self-existence is not enchanted. 

When our Witness of the sufficiency of the inshining Light itself in our conscious and conscience is darkened by the enchantment of outward forces like ridicule, our Witness is further darkened by reflections in the mirrors of anger, frustration, hurt, and on and on. These mirrors manifest through ridicule and innuendo which are engendered and nurtured by the person or people who ridicule. We then further lose our Witness by focusing upon these mirrors of anger, frustration, and hurt. In watchfulness, we are able to recognize our enchanted conscious and conscience, and then, acknowledging the reality of these mirrors before us, we re-turn to our faith in the Light itself by entering into patient and quiet waiting. In this waiting, we gaze upon the manifestations of anger, pain, and frustration, that others have successfully transferred upon us through their ridicule and accusation. In holding to the Quiet itself, the inshining Light begins to re-fill again into dark spaces and corners of our conscious and conscience. Only then, when our Witness of the sufficiency of the direct and unmediated experience of the inshining Light itself in itself, are we in a position to respond. However, even then, the only true opening to respond comes when the Light itself remains and guides the conscious and conscience in the very act of speaking and writing the response. The relative increase, decrease, or stasis, of the Light itself anchoring our conscious and informing our conscience is our guide. The extent to which we are unable or able to respond in the sustained Light itself, in the very activity of responding, is the extent to which we are open to respond.

To respond outside the covering of the Light itself, is to borrow or steal from the underlining anger of those who ridicule as an excuse to response. Ours is not to borrow or steal from others to excuse turning from our Witness of the sufficiency of direct and unmediated experience of the inshining Light itself anchoring our conscience and informing our conscience as our guide.  Ours is to hold and to sustain in the inshining Light itself is all circumstance and in all things without regard to person.

This is the peace of Heaven on earth. The Kingdom is come and is coming. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Conscience ... the throne of Christ

James Nayler writes of the:
... Light shining into the conscience* [the throne of Christ] ....
William Rogers writes:
Oh Friends, let the Remembrance of this Day come before you, and consider further, what was the voice of the Eternal Power unto such, who were struck of the Power of God; I well remember the voice was on this wise, To your own, to your own, to your own. Meaning thereby that they should turn in their minds to the Light of Christ in their consciences ... Source: The Christian Quaker ... the preface pg. 38
Immersion into the writings of the founding Children of inshining Light reveals the working of the inshining Light upon the conscience as the foundation of their experience. They are ever referencing the inshining Light itself illuminating the conscience as sufficient teacher and guide without regard to outward forms. However, once it is known that the term "conscience" (see footnote below) was more nuanced in meaning in the 17th century, the transforming and revolutionary significance of their witness and testimony is revealed.

Conscience in the 17th century did not reference the mere moral component that it does today. It also carried the meaning ... conscious. That is, when the word conscience was used by the founding Quaker it also meant conscious. When Nayler writes the inshining Light in the conscience which is the throne of Christ, he is saying the inshining Light into the conscience and conscious is the throne of Christ. He has not only witnessed the inshining Light being throned upon his conscience (moral) but his very conscious. That is, his conscious or awareness is anchored is the inshining Light and his conscience is informed by the inshining Light. Furthermore, he is saying the gathering of the Children of Light is anchored in mutual inshining knowledge and experience of the inshining Light. The gathering is conscious and conscience in the inshining Light itself and not in outward ritual, ideology, practice, institutions, or instrumentalities.

The mystery of a faith which is held in a pure conscience is this: consciousness is anchored in and conscience is informed by the inshining Light itself. This pure conscience is awareness in the inshining Light itself without regard to outward forms and persons. There are two ways of consciousness. A consciousness that is based on outward forms and a conscience that is founded upon the inshining Light in the conscious and conscience.

 A common phrase used by many of the founding Children of Light (called Quaker by those who opposed them) out of their witness of a faith anchored in the mystery of a pure conscience. For example, James Nayler writes:
... that faith stands in that which is pure, and the mystery of it is held in a pure conscience...
George Fox Writes:
... this is the faith which all the household of faith are to contend for, this one faith which Christ Jesus is the author of; which faith is the gift of God, and is held in a pure conscience. And it is called the mystery of faith ; for no natural men, with all the arts, languages, and wisdom upon the earth, can find it out, or know this mystery, nor make it ...
... the mystery of which is held in a pure conscience ; in which faith it hath its true liberty ...
So an everlasting fellowship in the everlasting power of God, that will out-last the power of darkness; for it was before it was. And also, their unity was to be in the precious divine faith, which Christ was the author and finisher of; the mystery of which was held in a pure conscience; and their worship was in the spirit of God, and in truth.
Isaac Penington writes:
The faith which gives victory over the world; the faith which feeds the life of the just, and slays the unjust; the faith which is pure, the mystery whereof is held in a pure conscience; the faith which gives entrance into the rest of God; the faith which is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen ; this hath been lost, and is not yet to be found among those who go for Christians. For those who challenge the name of Christians, and say they believe in Christ, and have faith in him, cannot with their faith overcome the world; but are daily overcome by the world. Where is there a Christian, but he is either in the honors, or in the fashions, or in the customs, or in the worships of the world, if not in them all ? He is so far from overcoming these, that he is overcome with them; yea, so overcome, so drunk therewith, that he hath even lost his senses, and thinks he may be a Christian, and in a good state while he is there. And the life of the just is not fed by their faith, but the unjust nature is fed, and the righteous witness, which is raised up and lives by the true faith, is kept down, and cannot bring forth his life in them, because of their unbelief; for that is the proper name of their faith; for being not true faith, it is not faith, but unbelief. And the faith of Christians (so called) is not a mystery (they know not the mystery of it, which is held in a pure conscience), but consists in believing an historical relation, and in a fleshly improving of that, and can be held in an impure conscience. Neither are they entered into rest by their faith; for they know not the sabbath in the Lord, but are still in a shadowy sabbath. Source: The Works of Isaac Penington: A Minister of the Gospel in the Society of Friends : Including His Collected Letters, Volume 1 pgs. 72.73
 Penington also writes:
Now that which they preach to is men's consciences in the sight of God. They open the truth which they know; they give their testimony in the moving, leading, and power of the Spirit, and leave it to the same Spirit to demonstrate it to men's consciences as it pleaseth. They are nothing, they can do nothing, they cannot convert any man to God; but the power that speaketh by them, the same power worketh in other men's consciences at its pleasure. And here is the beginning of the government of Christ in the heart; when his truth carries conviction with it to the conscience, and the conscience is drawn to yield itself up to him, then he lays his yoke upon it, and takes upon him the guiding of it; he cherisheth it, he cleanseth it, he comforteth it, he ordereth it at his pleasure; and he alone preserveth it pure, chaste, gentle, meek, and pliable to the impressions of his Spirit. And as the conscience is kept single and tender to Christ, so his government increases therein ; but as it becomes hard, or subject to men's wills, so another spirit gets dominion over it. Source: The Works of Isaac Penington: A Minister of the Gospel in the Society of Friends : Including His Collected Letters, Volume 1 pg. 460
James Nayler writes:
  You call, but receive no answer: but did you but mind that in your conscience which is pure, you would see how often he hath called to you, and checked you for sin, but you have not answered: there might you read the cause why you call, but he doth not answer; as he hath said, because I called, and you would not answer, therefore when you cry, I will not answer.
  And thus it is with you who observe the outward worships, but mind not the spirit which is given to profit withal in the worship; and though all have a measure, yet you that hide your talent, cannot pray with the spirit, nor with the understanding; and so your fellowship is with the form, but not in the power; with men in words, but not with God; and so your times are in your own hands; and you have resolved them before hand; and you have a time to pray, and a time to play; a time to abstain from your lusts, and a time to fulfil your lusts; a day to abstain from the world, and a day to conform to the world; and thus not being guided with that spirit which is before all, to lead and bring you out of time, you are still in observations, and your times of religion, and your times in the world; your customs in religion, and your customs in the world, are both in your own will, and corrupt nature, and so your prayers are abomination, and your ploughing sin: but the times of sons and daughters are not in their own hands; and this we have learned of Jesus in spirit not to please ourselves, nor be men-pleasers, but to be obedient to another principle, which moves contrary to the will of men, for him we witness, who is not born after the will of man, but which the fieshly will of man could never own, who by the wills of men ever suffered,where he is born into the world; and the same this day is manifest, a seed contrary to the seed of evil-doers, and a righteousness that exceeds the righteousness of the world, that which is amongst the greatest professions; and this is that holiness without which none shall see God.***

   And this further is given me to say to every particular person, to whom this writing shall come, whatever is thy condition, wait in the light which lest thee see it; there is thy counsel and thy strength to be received, to stay thee, and to recover thee. Art thou tempted to sin‘? Abide in that which lest thee see it, that there thou mayst come to feed on the right body, and not on the temptation; for if thou mindest the temptation it will overcome thee, but in the light is salvation: or having sinned, art thou tempted to despair or to destroy thy self. Mind not the temptation, for it’s death that sin hath brought forth; feed not on it nor mind it, least thou eatest condemnation, for that’s the wrong body.
   The body of Christ is felt in the light, in which is life from death, grace and truth to feed on, which will overcome for thee being followed; but if thou followest the temptation, fear and condemnation will swallow thee up; if there appear to thee voices, visions and revelations, feed not thereon, but abide in the light and feel the body of Christ, and there wilt thou receive faith and power to judge of every appearance and spirits, the good to hold fast and obey, and the false to resist. Art thou in darkness? Mind it not; for if thou dost, it will fill thee more; but stand still and act not, and wait in patience till light arise out of darkness to lead thee.— Art thou wounded in conscience? Feed not there, but abide in the light, which leads to the grace and truth, which teaches to deny and put off the weight, and removes the cause, and brings saving health to light; yea, this I say to thee in the name of Jesus Christ, that though thou hast made thy grave as deep as the nether-most hell, or were the afflictions as great as Job’s, and thy darkness as the depth of the sea, yet if thou wilt not run to vain helps, as I have done, but stay upon the Lord, till he give thee light by his word (who commands light to shine out of darkness) from thence will he bring thee forth, and his eye shall guide thee, and thou shalt praise his name, as I do this day, glory for evermore! And this word is nigh thee which must give thee light though darkness comprehends it not. ****
The inshining Light in the conscious and conscience (the throne of Christ) is eternal life. It is the distinguishing experience of the inward life over the outward life of forms. For those of you who have come to feel the body of Christ in the inshining Light upon your conscious and conscience and the conviction it brings, wait patiently in the Light, even in your successes and failures, wait patiently in the Light and feel the body of Christ and you will know the seconding coming of Christ and the sufficiency of the inshining Light to anchor you very awareness, meaning, purpose, and identity in itself. The promise of reconciliation and salvation is right there shining into your very conscious and conscience. Watch and wait upon it in all things and all circumstances.

* Conscience
In the 17th century, the word conscience carried a much more nuanced meaning than it does today. Conscience also carried the interwoven sense of conscious or consciousness which was a shared inward knowledge with others. The Oxford English Dictionary establishes the "obsolete" definition as:

1. Inward knowledge, consciousness; inmost thought, mind.
a.. Inward knowledge or consciousness; internal conviction.
b.. Internal or mental recognition or acknowledgement of something.
2. Inmost thought; mind 'heart'

*** Conscious
The Oxford English Dictionary establishes the "obsolete definition as:
1. Knowing or sharing the knowledge of anything, together with another; privy to anything with another.

The obsolete definition of "Consciousness" in the Oxford English Dictionary is "joint or mutual knowledge."

You can read more on this here:
Conscious and Conscience: Toward a deeper understand of early Quakers

** From James Nayler's essay: "A discovery of the wisdom which is from beneath, and the wisdom which is from above: or the difference between the two seeds, the one after the flesh, the other after the spirit."

*** From James Nayler's essay "Salutation to the Seed of God"

**** From James Nayler's recantation.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Sitting Down in Form

THERE was a glorious day, and bright appearance of Truth in the times of the apostles. They had the true Comforter, who led them into all Truth, and kept them alive in Truth, and Truth alive in them. By this Spirit, they, as living stones, were built up a spiritual house, founded upon Sion, the holy mount; into Jerusalem, the holy city, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of Truth. And here they had their conversation in heaven, with God, the judge of all; with Christ, the Mediator; and with the spirits of just men and the holy an gels, which always behold the face of God. They lived in the Spirit, they walked in the Spirit, they prayed in the Spirit, they sung in the Spirit, they worshipped in the Spirit, and in that understanding which the Truth had made free, and had God dwelling in them, and Christ walking in the midst of them ; and, by the presence and power of his life in them, were truly dead unto sin, and alive unto God; they being not strivers against sin with man's legal spirit, but by the power of grace, which made them more than conquerors through him that loved them. This was part of the glory of that state, in the day of the sunshine of the gospel.

But, behold ! a thick night of darkness overspread the beauty of this! Some false brethren went out from the true church into the world, getting the sheep's clothing, making a great outward appearance, and drew the world after them; yea, and some from the very churches themselves. (How hard was the apostle Paul obliged to plead with the Corinthians about his own apostleship and doctrine, that he might preserve that church from the false apostles!) And when they had gathered a sufficient party in the world, they made head against the true sheep and lambs of Christ, fought with them, and overcame them. And when they had overcome them that had the living testimony of Jesus, and the true power and presence of the Spirit among them, then they set up their own dead form, making a cry all over the nations of the earth: "Revelation is ceased! there is no looking now for such an infallible Spirit, and such immediate teachings as the Christians had in the apostles' days, who had the anointing to teach them all things;" but they pointed men to traditions, to the church, as they called it (which title the whore hath engrossed since the days of the apostles), or to searching of the scripture, and reading expositions upon it, and bodies of divinity, formed by the understanding-part in man to instruct the understanding-part. Thus the whole course of religion, and of the knowledge of God, came to be out of that Spirit and life wherein it first came forth (and wherein it first stood), and consisted in doctrines of men, and a form of worship and knowledge which the wisdom of man had framed, in an imitation of that which formerly stood in the life.

And now men being gone from the life, from the Spirit, and his immediate teachings, into an outward form of knowledge and worship of God in the wrong nature, anti christ is got up, and the dragon sits in the temple, appearing there as if he were God, giving out laws and ordinances of worship in public, and putting men upon duties and exercises of devotion in private, and he is obeyed and bowed down to in the observation of these; but the true, living God is not known, nor his secret, still voice which calls out of these heard; because of the great noise which the dragon makes in his temple (for so it is now, he having gained it, though it was once God's), about his laws and ordinances of worship, which he would have all compelled to, and none suffered to testify against them that they arc his, and not the Lord's. Yet it pleased the Lord, all the night of this darkness, to raise up some witnesses against the dragon, and all his invented forms of worship; though they were still hunted, persecuted, knocked down, and their testimony cried out against, as error, heresy, schism, and blasphemy; and the ways, worships, and ordinances of the whore, the beast, and dragon, still cried up as the truth. Thus the Papists cried out against the Protestants as heretics and schismatics, who were witnesses against them; and the Protestants cried out against the Non-conformists, Separatists, and Brownists, who were witnesses against them; and every sect cries out most against them who are led further from the apostasy, and raised up by the Lord, as witnesses against them, against their sitting down in their forms, and not pursuing the guidance of that Spirit, which would lead them quite out of the darkness, and not have them sit down by the way.

Now the Lord God, in these latter days, hath not only raised up witnesses against the whore, the dragon, the beast, the false prophets, with all their inventions which they have set up instead of the truth; but hath assayed, and begun to deliver his people out of this Egyptian darkness, and to bring them back to the light of the land of Canaan. And now great enemies have appeared ; the sons of the night exceedingly strengthening themselves to keep out the day light, everyone crying up his own form, and all joining hand in hand against the power: yea, and that spirit which first tempted from God is exceeding busy to cause those whom the Spirit of the Lord hath been drawing out of the land of darkness, to make a captain to return to Egypt; or at least to sit down in some form, or some pleasant notion of things by the way, and not to follow the Lord through all his intricate leadings in the vast, howling wilderness, till he bring them into the possession of the true rest. What a work was there to quench that spirit which stirred in the Protestants against Popery, and to fix them in Episcopacy, and in the use of the' common prayer-book! When that was detected, and turned from, the Presbytery endeavored to take its place, and to bring in its directory; but the pursuit of the Lord was so hot against that, that it sunk presently, and his mighty hand would not suffer it so much as to arise. Much about the same time Independency and Anabaptism appeared and contended; and there was a more simple and honest thing stirring there, than in the other: and accordingly the blessing of the Lord (which was not to the form, but to the life which was stirring within) did appear more among them. But they fixing there, lost the life and simplicity to which the blessing was, and met with the death and the curse, which is the proper reward of the form: for any form, out of the life, kills the life; and its reward is death to itself. The form kills the life, which stirred under neath, and made it appear with some freshness ; and when the life, from which it had its seeming beauty and lustre, dies, then it soon withers and dies also: so that the living principle being once slain, there remains nothing but the dead spirit, feeding on the dead form. There was one more pure appearance, and nearer to the kingdom than all these; which was of seeking and waiting: but death overcame it also, making a form of it, and stealing in some observations, from the letter of the Scriptures, concerning the kingdom, whereby their eyes were withheld from beholding the inward principle and seed of life within, to look for some great appearance of power without (such as was among the apostles), to set things to rights; and so they were held captive by the same spirit, in their seeking and waiting, whereby the others are held in their forms. Thus have persons generally missed the following of that good Spirit, which began to lead them out of Egypt, the dark land ; and losing their guide, have fixed somewhere or other by the way; resting in some form, or in some notion or expectation of things (according as in their wisdom they have imagined from their skill in the letter), short of the life itself. Thus have their carcasses fallen in the wilderness.

Now this I have to say to you all : all you who rest in any form whatsoever, or rest in any notion or apprehension of things short of the life itself, ye had even as good have stayed in Egypt, as to fix by the way, and to take up a rest in the wilderness, short of Canaan. In plain terms, ye had as good have abode in Popery or Episcopacy; ye had been as acceptable to God there as here. Not that I say your forms of Independency, Anabaptism, or Seeking, are as bad as Popery, Episcopacy, or Presbytery: nay; they are all somewhat nearer, and the last of them very much nearer: but your fixing there, and the dead spirit feeding there on the dead thing, is as remote from life as if it had gone quite back again. And this dead spirit is as hateful to God here, as it is among the Papists ; yea, and in one sense more, be cause it makes a pretence beyond them.

And the truth is, ye have gone back again, though not in the direct form, yet into that very spirit wherein Popery's strength and kingdom lie ; and so are become one of the beast's names; and your strength and defence lie in the beast's horns, either in the outward powers of the earth, or in that inward knowledge of things and wisdom from the letter, which is out of the life, and so are not yet come out of the city of Babylon. For mark : the spirit that fixeth in a form short of the life, is the same that whored from the life: and the same spirit is the whore still, in what form so ever she be. The Spirit that rose up in the life, against the death and corruption whereof Popery wholly consisted, was a good Spirit; and this Spirit would pass through all forms, till it meet with the life. It is the other spirit that says to thee, Thou hast gone far enough; and so tempts thee to stay by the way. And he who hearkens to this spirit, and stays any where by the way, is caught with the old whore in a new dress, and is drinking the cup of fornication afresh. And then, like the Papists, he runs to the powers of the earth, to defend his form against the witnesses of God (and that is his cover under which he persecutes, and there he lies hid), or at least to his own wisdom and reason, to strengthen himself with arguments for fixing here, and against going any further. And then he grows wise in the flesh, and cries against them who are still led by the same Spirit to press on further, as weak, silly, giddy, unsettled, seduced people, that can never know when they are well. Thus the wise Episcopalians reviled the simple-hearted Non-conformists, who pursued further than they. And the Non-conformists, when they lost their simplicity, and be gan to stick, reviled those that pursued beyond them. And thus at this day, those who are pressing on in the Spirit, are disdained by those who have taken up their station in the flesh ; and with their two great horns of earthly power and earthly wisdom, are they pushing at them.

Look about ye, look about ye, all sorts of devout profes sors; see where ye are! Are you not dead in your forms? Is not the good old Puritan principle (wherein once was true life in its measure) dead and buried there? Consider with yourselves ; hath that grown in your forms? Or hath it been slain there? Speak the truth in your own hearts; can ye truly say, from a sensible feeling in the life, that that principle is still alive in you? If it were so, ye could never be drawn to persecute, no, nor suffer persecution, ye that have power to hinder it: but if that seed be choked, then ye may well connive at, if not further the enemy, and plead for him, and join interests with him. While Abel lived in you, Cain could not rise up in his dominion; but now the right seed is slain, the murdering nature appears.

Oh hasten out of this spirit! Hasten out of Babylon! Cast off the spirit of Popery: return to the old Puritan principle: do not cry it up in deceit, to oppose the present appearance of truth, which is grown up further in it; but subject that dead, formal, earthly spirit to it, which is fallen beneath it. And when ye are come to a true touch of life there, ye may be able to own the same truth in its growth to a further measure. But while thou art in the dead understanding, and from the power and life of truth in thine own particular, dost thou think to be able to measure truth aright in others? Nay; thou measurest by a false appearance of things in the fallen understanding, and in the wisdom which thou hast gathered there, since thou thyself fullest from the living principle: and this must needs commend that most which is nearest to it, and not that which is nearest to truth. And this is the great error of this age; men, with a gathered knowledge from scripture words, without the true faith and life, go about to measure that life and knowledge which come from the faith ; and because it suits not with the apprehensions which they have taken into their minds, they condemn it. And thus, being in the stumbling wisdom, and way of observation to which truth was never revealed, but was ever an offence, they stumbled at it : and so men generally dash and split themselves against the same rock now, as the Pharisees did of old. Now this understanding must perish, and this wisdom in men be brought to nought, before that can be raised up which can judge aright.

Hearken therefore to my exhortation, as ye love your souls; Come out of Popery in deed and in truth: come out of the SPIRIT of Popery : burn the whore, in her new forms as well as in her old : cast oft' all these new names of the beast, under which the old spirit has made a prey of the life in your own particulars, and lies lurking to make a prey of the life in others, and to force it into its own deceitful forms of death, and slay it. Leave defending your faith and church by the beast's horns, and come to that faith and church which is received, gathered, and defended by Christ, the One Horn of Salvation. Leave your reasonings and disputings in that wisdom which has slain the life, and come to that wisdom which comes from the life, and springs up in the life ; and ye will find more certainty and satisfaction in one touch of true life, than in all the reasonings and disputes of wise men to the world's end. The ground wherein men's religion grows (even the most zealous) is bad; even the same ground wherein the Pharisees' religion stood and grew; and it hath brought forth such a kind of fruit; namely, such a kind of conformity to the letter as theirs was; which stands in the understanding and will of man, rearing up a pleasant building there, but keeps from the life, and from building in it. But the true religion stands in receiving a principle of life ; which, by its growth, forms a vessel for itself; and all the former part, wherein sin on the one hand, or self- righteousness on the other hand, stood and grew, passeth away.

These things following strike at the king of Babylon himself; yea, even at the very root of the antichristian spirit in every man; which ho that can mildly receive the stroke of, may feel the true Spirit of life (which lies underneath) spring up in him, and give life to his soul : which, when it is delivered, will be able truly to know, and rejoice in the Lord his Saviour. And when the root of that spirit is cut down (which never brought forth sweet, pleasant fruit unto life ; but only sour fruit, finely painted and dressed for the eye and palate of death), its body, branches, leaves, and fruit will wither and die daily, and truth come to grow safely.

From: The Axe Laid to the Root of the Old Corrupt Tree

The Works of Isaac Penington Vol. 1 pages 291-298

George Fox on the Sufficiency of the inshining Light

Source: A Collection of Many Select and Christian Epistles, Letters, and Testimonies, Written on Sundry Occasions by that Ancient, Eminent, Faithful Friend, and Minister of Christ Jesus, George Fox. Vol. Two, Philadelphia and New York, 1831

Therefore, there is joy when the day star appeareth and the day dawn ; there is great cause of joy for all the sons of God, when the day star appears, and for them to sing together; for long nights of trouble and travel have they been in. ' The path of the just is a shining light,' the path of the unjust is darkness. So there are but two paths. Now the unjust cannot abide to hear talk of the light, but call it natural, and created and made, or conscience, they do not know what to call it, whose darkness cannot comprehend the light, though it shines in the darkness ; and so, the path of the just being 'a shining light, which shines more and more unto the perfect day ;' signifying that the day is come, that the just hath his path, and his path is a shining light; and so increaseth, shineth more and more unto the perfect day. pg. 7
So the just man's path is sufficient, a shining light : for it shines more and more, it increaseth, it it is sufficient, and brings to the perfect day. Now the unjust, whose path is darkness, say, 'It is not sufficient,' but such cannot abide the light, cannot abide the just man's path, nor the just neither, but hate both, and speak against him and his path, with his darkness, that cannot comprehend the light, though light shines in his darkness ; and therefore if he cannot comprehend the light with his darkness, (how can he comprehend the prophets', and apostles', and Christ's words?) but calls light darkness, and darkness light, and calls it natural, or created, or made, or conscience; and so this comes to be fulfilled on them, as John said, who with their darkness could not comprehend the light, yet they would be talking of the saints' words, law and prophets, with their darkness, which could not comprehend the light. pg.8

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Contending over the Shell and not the Kernel

In William Roger's preface to his historical documentation (Written in 1680) of the disunity that arose within the gathering of the Children of Light (Quaker) over the establishment of outward frameworks to assist governance of the gathering as a whole he writes:

[The institution builders say] ... "let us have an eye to the Brethren: Further insinuating, as if God, had ordained Ministers amongst them, that are to see and hear for the Body, and common Members of the Churches, ... I cannot but be full of Jealousy*, that these Things have a Tendency, to insinuate Submission without Conviction, to nurture up Ignorance instead of Wisdom, and to introduce Bondage instead of Freedom in Christ, as much as ever was under the Cover of a Black-coat, in the Dark Night of Apostacy ... "

There is so much here that illustrates the nature of the disunity between those who were Jealous to build outward institutional frameworks and those in the gathering who were Jealous to for the establishment of the inshining Light itself in itself as the sole guide in the conscience** and conscious*** (Please read the definitions and discussion in the footnotes below). There were those Jealous to keep attentiveness upon the inshining Light itself in the conscious and conscience. That is, those whose inward knowledge (conscience) and whose shared or mutual inshining knowledge (conscious) in the unmediated and direct experience of the inshining Light itself did not value outward assistance of established forms and guides. The inshining Light itself in-formed their conscience and established them in a shared mutual inshining knowledge (conscious). This informed conscience and inshining conscious is what established them mutually.

When the institution builders manifested in the gathering of the Children of Light, they began telling the gathering to "have an eye to the Brethren, meaning, adhere to the outward doctrine and institutions the Brethren establish and attend your conscience (inward knowledge) and your conscious (shared inshining experience) to those outward leaders and ministers for they have been ordained by God (inherent self-existence) and they see for the Gathering and hear for the Gathering. Such adherence to outward forms and teachers was not of the conscious (mutual experience) and the conscience (inward knowledge) by which the Children of Light were initially established. To attend to the Brethren was to deflect attention away from a conscious anchored in and a conscience informed by the inshining Light itself resulting in submission to the outward forms of the institution builders without conviction in and by the presence of the inshining Light itself in mutual knowledge of the direct and unmediated experience of the inshining Light itself. These outward forms of the institution builders also nurture Ignorance of the inshining Light instead of wisdom in the inshining Light itself and introduced bondage to the forms of the institution builders rather than freedom in the inshining light that fills the gathering with unity in mutually shared unmediated experience of the inshining Light itself, upon which there is no occasion for disunity. The outward forms of the institution builders are nurseries for disunity and conflict because they  mediate that should be unmediated. The outwardly established forms and instrumentalities or mediations of the institution builders are a black coat blanketing and overshadowing the inshining Light itself in the conscious and conscience in a dark night.

For example, outward notions like equality and inclusiveness are mediations that supplant the direct experience of the inshining Light itself as guide and teacher in the conscious and conscience. These notions replace the inshining Light itself in the conscious and conscience. They become established as an outward source of mutual knowing (conscious) and inward knowledge (conscience) taking the place of the inshining Light itself in the conscious and conscience.

In the third part of his historical documentation of the disunity among those in the early years of the gathering of the Children of Light Roger's writes:

"As to the word Established, we further add, That the word ... is disowned by us; for though the Children of God may be Instruments in the hand of the Lord, to establish one another in the Faith of God's Elect, yet 'tis not in their power, or any one of them, positively and without exception, to establish what ought to be believed and practiced, whether it respect Doctrine, or Discipline: and if any one or more have attempted so to do , it may Justly be said of such, that he or they have endeavoured to invade Christ's Prerogative." (William Rogers - Christian Quaker - Part Three - page 32.)
Essentially, there were many in the early gathering of the Children of Light that were Jealous against the manifestation of institution builders. Because, by establishing outward forms, they were endeavoring to invade the prerogative of the inshining Light itself as the ruler and governor of mutually shared inward experience (conscious) and inward knowledge (conscience).

Along these lines Isaac Penington wrote:

"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."

It must be acknowledged here that Penington later tempered these words in Light of the disunity that the establishment of outward forms manifested among the Children of Light. Penington is said to have suffered personally over this disunity.

Roger's write further in his Preface:

A "great Part of the Contention of one Party with another, seems to be but about the Shell, and the Kernel: My Meaning thereby is, about Outward Forms and Methods, ... as if Hells Gates must be opened to receive all such, as walk not in the Outward Path, which ... hath been prescribed by" ... [the institution builders.]

* Jealousy. The Oxford English Dictionary establishes the "obsolete" or antiquated definition as:
1. Zeal or vehemence of feeling against some person or thing; anger, wrath, indignation.
2. Zeal or vehemence of feeling in favor of a person of thing; devotion, eagerness, anxiety to serve.

** Conscience
In the 17th century, the word conscience carried a much more nuanced meaning than it does today. Conscience also carried the interwoven sense of conscious or consciousness which was a shared inward knowledge with others. The Oxford English Dictionary establishes the "obsolete" definition as:

1. Inward knowledge, consciousness; inmost thought, mind.
a.. Inward knowledge or consciousness; internal conviction.
b.. Internal or mental recognition or acknowledgement of something.
2. Inmost thought; mind 'heart'

*** Conscious
The Oxford English Dictionary establishes the "obsolete definition as:
1. Knowing or sharing the knowledge of anything, together with another; privy to anything with another.

The obsolete definition of "Consciousness" in the Oxford English Dictionary is "joint or mutual knowledge."

You can read more on this here:
Conscious and Conscience: Toward a deeper understand of early Quakers

Sunday, March 6, 2016

The Inshining Light as sufficient teacher.

Now, reader, whosoever thou art that readest this following volume, if thy mind be sober, and thy heart right towards God, thou may come to a good understanding of the ground and cause of this great controversy, between the priests and the professorship of this nation, and us who are in scorn called Quakers, for it is not unknown to nations. Of this great debate and battle, now for some years of continuance in this nation, no man can be ignorant. What putting in prisons, and what persecuting, and what preaching and printing against us, and what reports and fame have been through this nation for some years past! And the Quakers, so called, have written, and spoken, and printed against the priests, and their worships, and ways, and doctrines, and declared against them, as deceivers and false prophets, and such as never were sent of God. And on the other hand, thus have the priests, and more abundantly, cried out against, and printed against the Quakers, as heretics, and deceivers, and witches, and all that they could say that was evil. And these things being not unknown, but publicly brought to pass, it will be good to discover unto every man, the first ground and cause of this great strife, and the matter of it, and its beginning, so that all may know the certainty of these things, and know they are not without good ground and sufficient reason on our part, to wit, that we have just cause to do, and strive against that generation of priests and teachers, and that we do nothing rashly, and without sufficient reason.

It is now about seven years since the Lord raised us up in the north of England, and opened our mouths in this his spirit; and what we were before in our religion, profession, and practices is well known to that part of the country; that generally we were men of the strictest sect, and of the greatest zeal in the performance of outward righteousness, and went through and tried all sorts of teachers, and run from mountain to mountain, and from man to man, and from one form to another, as do many to this very day, who yet remain ungathered to the Lord. And such we were, (to say no more of us,) that sought the Lord, and desired the knowledge of his ways more than any thing beside, and for one I may speak, who, from a child, even a few years old, set my face to seek and find the saviour, and, more than life and treasure or any mortal crown, sought with all my heart the one thing that is needful, to wit, the knowledge of God.

And after our long seeking the Lord appeared to us, and revealed his glory in us, and gave us of his spirit from heaven, and poured it upon us, and gave us of his wisdom to guide us, whereby we saw all the world, and the true state of things, and the true condition of the church in her present estate. First the Lord brought us by his power and wisdom, and the word by which all things were made, to know and understand, and see perfectly, that God had given to us, every one of us in particular, a light from himself shining in our hearts and consciences; which light, Christ his son, the saviour of the world, had lighted every man withal; which light in us we found sufficient to reprove us, and convince us of every evil deed, word, and thought, and by it, in us, we came to know good from evil, right from wrong, and whatsoever is of God, and according to him, from what is of the devil, and what was contrary to God in motion, word, and works. And this light gave us to discern between truth and error, between every false and right way, and it perfectly discovered to us the true state of all things; and we thereby came to know man, what he was in his creation before transgression, and how he was deceived and overcome by the devil, and his estate in transgression, and in disobedience, and how he is driven and banished from the presence of the Lord, and the sorrow and anguish which he is in and to undergo. And also by the light in us, we perfectly came to know the way of restoration, and the means by which to be restored, and the state of man when come out of transgression and restored. These things to us were revealed by the light within us, which Christ had given us, and lighted us withal; what man was before transgression, and what he is in transgression, and what he is being redeemed out of transgression. And also as our minds be came turned, and our hearts inclined to the light which shined in every one of us, the perfect estate of the church we came to know; her estate before the apostles' days, and in the apostles' days, and since the days of the apostles. And her present estate we found to be as a woman who had once been clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, who brought forth him that was to rule the nations; but she was fled into the wilderness, and there sitting desolate, in her place that was prepared of God for such a season, in the very end of which season, when the time of her sojourning was towards a full end, then were we brought forth. If any have an ear they may hear. So that all these things concerning man, and concerning the times and seasons, and the changing and renewing of times, and all things that pertain to salvation, and redemption, and eternal life, needful for man to know, all these were revealed, discovered, and made known to us, by the light which was in us, which Christ had lighted us withal.

And we found this light to be a sufficient teacher, to lead us to Christ, from whence this light came, and thereby it gave us to receive Christ, and to witness him to dwell in us; and through it the new covenant we came to enter into, to be made heirs of life and salvation. And in all things we found the light which we were enlightened withal, (which is Christ,) to be alone and only sufficient to bring to life and eternal salvation; and that all who did own the light in them which Christ hath enlightened every man withal, they needed no man to teach them, but the Lord was their teacher, by his light in their own consciences, and they received the holy anointing.

And so we ceased from the teachings of all men, and their words, and their worships, and their temples, and all their baptisms and churches; and we ceased from our own words, and professions, and practices in religion, in times before zealously performed by us, through divers forms, and we became fools for Christ's sake, that we might become truly wise. And by this light of Christ in us were we led out of all false ways, and false preachings, and from false ministers, and we met together often, and waited upon the Lord in pure silence from our own words, and all men's words, and hearkened to the voice of the Lord, and felt his word in our hearts, to burn up and beat down all that was contrary to God; and we obeyed the light of Christ in us, and followed the motions of the Lord's pure spirit, and took up the cross to all earthly glories, crowns, and ways, and denied ourselves, our relations, and all that stood in the way betwixt us and the Lord; and we chose to suffer with and for the name of Christ, rather than enjoy all the pleasures upon earth, or all our former zealous professions and practices in religion without the power and spirit of God, which the world yet lives in. And while waiting upon the Lord in silence, as often we did for many hours together, with our minds and hearts toward him, being staid in the light of Christ within us, from all thoughts, fleshly motions, and desires, in our diligent waiting and fear of his name, and hearkening to his word, we received often the pouring down of the spirit upon us, and the gift of God's holy eternal spirit as in the days of old, and our hearts were made glad, and our sum/ life and immortality were brought to light, power from on high and wisdom were made manifest, and the day everlasting appeared unto us, and the joyful sun of righteousness did arise and shine forth unto us and in us; and the holy anointing, the everlasting comforter, we received; and the babe of glory was born, and the heir of the pro mise brought forth to reign over the earth, and over hell and death, whereby we entered into everlasting union, and fellowship, and cove nant with the Lord God, whose mercies are sure and infinite, and his promise never fails. We were raised from death to life, and changed from satan's power to God, and gathered from all the dumb shepherds, and off all the barren mountains, into the fold of eternal peace and rest, and mighty and wonderful things hath the Lord wrought for us, and by us, by his own outstretched arm.tongues loosed, and our mouths opened, and we spake with new tongues, as the Lord gave us utterance, and as his spirit led us, which was poured down upon us, on sons and daughters. And to us hereby were the deep things of God revealed, and things unutterable were known and made manifest; and the glory of the Father was revealed, and then began we to sing praises to the Lord God Almighty, and to the Lamb for ever, who had re deemed us to God, and brought us out of the captivity and bondage of the world, and put an end to sin and death; and all this was by and through, and in the light of Christ within us. And much more might be declared hereof, that which could not be believed if it were spoken, of the several and particular operations and manifestations of the ever lasting spirit that was given us, and revealed in us. But this is the sum/ life and immortality were brought to light, power from on high and wisdom were made manifest, and the day everlasting appeared unto us, and the joyful sun of righteousness did arise and shine forth unto us and in us; and the holy anointing, the everlasting comforter, we received; and the babe of glory was born, and the heir of the pro mise brought forth to reign over the earth, and over hell and death, whereby we entered into everlasting union, and fellowship, and cove nant with the Lord God, whose mercies are sure and infinite, and his promise never fails. We were raised from death to life, and changed from satan's power to God, and gathered from all the dumb shepherds, and off all the barren mountains, into the fold of eternal peace and rest, and mighty and wonderful things hath the Lord wrought for us, and by us, by his own outstretched arm.

From Edward Borrough's Epistle to the Reader in:
The Works of George Fox, Vol. 3 (Gould and Hopper 1831)  pages 11-14

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Against a Universal Unity with the Assistance of Outward Instruments

William Rogers wrote in 1680:
I doubt not but there are many who are ready to conclude, That an Universal Unity ought to be established in the Churches, by the Assistance of outward Instruments; that as we are Members of one Body, so we may not only be one in Faith, one in Doctrine, but also one in Practice, with relation to Discipline, Order and Outward Forms of Government.
My soul should rejoice to see that Day, wherein we might all be so led by the appearance of Christ’s Spirit in us, under his Government, which ought to be exalted over all, as that this Oneness might thereby be witnessed amongst all the Families of God’s People at this Day. But since it is so with the Church of God at this day, as it was with the Church in the Primitive Days, viz. that there are diversities of Administrations, and diversities of Gifts and Operations in the Body, and through the same Spirit; it behooves every one diligently to watch, that we Judge not one another by reason of these differing exercises;  as if these things consisted not with the Unity of the Body.
And since also it is so, that amongst the primitive Believers there were such as practices Circumcision, some made Conscience of keeping a Day, and some that Abstained from eating flesh, and others that did not, and yet a Christian – Liberty and Forbearance was so exercised, as that they were not to be Judging one another about these things, and that we find not that these differing exercises in a Christian – Liberty, did subject any of those Believers exercised therein to the Censure of being out of the Unity of the Body; I therefore do reasonably conclude, that the infallible Mark, whereby any member of the Body is known to be in true Unity with the Body, doth not consist in Profession of Belief of certain Principles and Doctrines, and Practices depending thereon; nor in Obedience to the Measures of others; but in the Circumcision of the heart, and Answer of a good Conscience toward God, and that every Member keeps his own order, Office and Place in the Body, through his Obedience to the Measure and Gift of Grace in himself, which he hath received from God to Profit withal. The most infallible mark and token of a Member in the true Unity with the Body of Christ, is an inward invisible mark that cannot be stamped on any, but by the impression of God’s Power on the heart; and therefore is it, that the outward endeavors of all such Christian Professors, as have been and are in the Apostasy, instead of attaining to an Heavenly Union in the Spirit, have at most but aspired to an Outward Unity, consisting in their Outward Conformities and Uniformities, according to the Commands, Traditions, Decrees, or Examples of Men.
When in the Ages and Generations past, the Apostasy first entered as a Flood, I am persuaded, that all who have known the Truth, and have had the Consideration and true Sense thereof upon their Spirits, do conclude, that the Cause thereof sprang through an Inward Departure from the Anointing in themselves (Obedience whereunto according to the respective Measures of Grace given of God, and received by each Member, was a manifestation of that wherein the Unity of the Body stands) and as the Apostasy entered, no doubt but the Traditions and Rudiments of Men came to be exalted; against which the Apostle Paul cautioned the Colossians, saying, Col. 2.8. Beware lest there be any that spoil you through Traditions of Men, according to the Rudiments of the World, and not after Christ; but yet notwithstanding, I Question, whether any have been greater Pretenders of Unity, than those who have been exalting the Traditions of Men; and shall leave it to the Judicious Reader to consider, whether a sufficient Evidence hereof appears not in divers Apostatized Churches professing Christianity, wherein is established by Outward means what is to be Believed, and what is to be practiced; and yet doubtless as remote from the Unity, wherein the Fellowship of the Saints in Light doth consist, as the East is from the West, and so in their Unity (being but Outward) have found no more acceptance with the Lord, that the Unworthy Eaters did, whilst they discerned not the Lord’s Body.
Many of God’s People yet in the Body are Witnesses that, one part of the Testimony which accompanied the Servants of the Lord in those latter Days was against Outward Forms, Traditions, Prescriptions, Decrees, Ordinances of Men, with relation to Matters Spiritual and Divine, and wherein the Consciences of God’s People might be concerned, as being those Rudiments of the World, and of which he hath determined to gather his People (for to the Children of Light they appeared more agreeable to the Nature, and Tenor of the First Covenant  than the Second) and not only so, but to establish his Church on the Rock Christ, that so, as they received him, they might walk in him, according to their respective Measures of Grace given them of God to profit withal, and which, as the Apostle declared, was sufficient for them.
Now, Inasmuch as the Testimony of Truth hath been, that what God leads out of, he rarely leads into again; I appeal to God’s Witness in all Consciences, whether Indispensable Establishment of Outward Orders, Prescriptions, and Decrees for the Members of the Church of Christ to walk by, and submit unto, at this Day, and wherein the Liberty of their Consciences may be invaded (of which my meaning is no other Liberty than what the Gospel allows) doth not seem to exalt that sort of Unity, wherein the Fellowship of the Saints in Light doth not consist, and so consequently  may become the means to draw the Minds of God’s People outward, and so cause them to look at Outward things (under the notions of Things established in the Church) more than to the Anointing in themselves; lest God’s Witness in every Conscience Judge.

From: The Christian Quaker - By: William Rogers - Part 3 pgs. 82-85 - Published 1680