In the summer of 1999, I had an opportunity to spend some time with a retired zoologist and his wife, Joseph and Elsa Pickvance, at their cottage in Birmingham, England. Although this professor’s livelihood had come from teaching and administrative work in the department of zoology at the University of Birmingham, his heart had been given throughout his long life to the study of George Fox and the early Quaker movement. Nearing the age of 90, he daily continued his investigation of their writings.
Having arrived at their home that summer evening and having enjoyed a pleasant supper, I listened as he spoke of the origin of his interest in seventeenth-century Friends and of their significance in the history of the human spirit. At one point in the conversation, his tone grew intense. I cannot recall his exact words but will give you the gist of what he said:
It must be that humanity is continuing to evolve. If it has taken four million years to progress from the first bipedal human-like creature, we can expect that it will take some time yet for us to reach our fulfillment.
He was expressing hope and anticipation, and it reminded me of others who, like him, have anticipated the change to come in our experience and understanding of what it is to be human and to be of the human race.
Tradition and the Way Forward
Among those who have anticipated such a transformation of humanity were first-generation Friends. They saw their mission to be the furtherance of this change, and so they traveled throughout their country and to far parts of the world in order to preach the Word, Christ, the power of God, for they believed that this preaching was the single essential act that would precipitate the needed transformation within the human heart. In this their mission, early Friends were in unity with the apostles of the first century. Like the apostles, they baptized with the holy Spirit through preaching the Word. Here Fox speaks of the apostle Peter in his ministry to a Roman centurion and his family:
And while Peter spoke to Cornelius’s family, the holy Spirit fell upon them who heard the Word that he preached (Acts 10:44). So the holy Spirit was given through the preaching of the Word, Christ, and the holy Spirit doth baptize them – through which baptism the wheat or seed of God is gathered into God’s garner [Works, 6:292]
Early Friends saw that the history of Israel was a history of humanity’s progress toward anew way of being, of becoming a people gathered into God’s garner. They drew heavilyfrom the Bible because it recorded the appearance and realization in history of the new way of being. For them the Bible was a sealed document which could be interpreted only by first experiencing the presence of God or Christ Within, which brought with it a radical shift of the locus of identity. From this inspired vantage point, a new and vital meaning could be distilled from stories, events and characters of the Bible.
There is a passage in George Fox’s Journal in which he enumerates the events recorded in Scripture that have shaped Hebrew history over the past four millennia. In this passage, he interprets this historical movement as a metaphor for the individual’s growth toward spiritual wholeness. In other words, the journey of a solitary inward soul is magnified onto the screen of the historical record. The salvation history of Israel is an archetype for the individual’s spiritual journey.
In this excerpt we may not catch the meaning of all the concepts, but throughout the passage, we can look for the metaphor that Fox finds. The metaphor is that spiritual growth is like a journey that proceeds through definite stages. Phrases like “entrance into,” “passed through,” “reaches through,” “prepares the way” indicate Fox sees spiritual development as linear, like a journey, moving from a point of lesser to a point of greater realization.
I saw death reigned over them from Adam to Moses, from the entrance into transgression till they came to the ministration of condemnation, which restrains people from sin that brings death. Then, when the ministration of Moses is passed through, the ministry of the prophets comes to be read and understood, which reaches through the figures, types and shadows unto John, the greatest prophet born of woman; whose ministration prepares the way of the Lord by bringing down the exalted mountains and making straight paths. And as this ministration is passed through, an entrance comes to be known into the everlasting kingdom [Journal, 31].
To understand Fox’s metaphoric analysis, we must know the stories to which he refers; the stories are set-ups for lessons that teach us the essentials of our inward existence. In the past two decades, scholars have come to recognize the central importance of the story in the scriptures. Listening to and letting the story work upon us is a very ancient and now newly legitimate approach to the Bible.
In his book Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time, Marcus J. Borg explores some of the key stories of the Bible for their spiritual significance. Delving below the surface of literal facts in a Bible story can bring to light useful information about our own human condition. Fox lamented the barren way Scriptures were read in his own day when he says:
I saw also how people read the Scriptures without a right sense of them, and without duly applying them to their own states [Journal, 31].
Three hundred years later, we see this same approach to the Bible; people are still reading it at a superficial, literal level. In this passage Borg discusses the Exodus story as it relates to our own human condition.
What is this story about? Most basically, it is a story of bondage, liberation, a journey, and a destination. It begins with the Hebrews as slaves in Egypt under the lordship of Pharaoh…for those enslaved it is a life of hard labor and groaning and meager rations, with enough to survive on, but not much more. The story then moves through the plagues and the liberation itself…Coming out from under the lordship of Pharaoh brings the people into the wilderness and sets them upon a journey that lasts for forty years, and the destination of the journey is the promised land, which symbolically is the place of God’s presence.
As a story about God and us, what is it saying? Our problem, according to this story, is that we live in Egypt, the land of bondage. We are slaves of an alien lord, the lord of Egypt, Pharaoh. It provocatively images the human condition as bondage, an image with both cultural-political and psychological-spiritual dimensions of meaning. It invites us to ask, “To what am I in bondage, and to what are we in bondage?”
The answer for most of us is “Many things.” We are in bondage to cultural messages about what we should be like and what we should pursue—messages about success, attractiveness, gender roles, the good life. We are in bondage to voices from our own past, and to addictions of various kinds.
The Pharaoh who holds us in bondage is inside of us as well as outside of us. Who is the Pharaoh within me who has me enslaved and who will not let me go? What instruments of fear and oppression does he use, this Pharaoh who tries everything to remain in control? What plagues must strike him? If the problem is bondage, the solution, of course, is liberation. In the story of the exodus itself, the liberation begins at night, in the darkness before dawn. It means leaving Egypt and the kingdom and dominion of Pharaoh. It involves passing through the sea to the other side, a passage from one kind of life to another. Liberation involves coming out from under the lordship of Pharaoh and the lordship of culture.
But liberation is not an end of the story. Rather, “the way out” leads to a journey through the wilderness. As a place beyond the domestication of culture, the wilderness is a place of fear and anxiety, where we erect one golden calf after another, and where we sometimes find ourselves longing for the security of Egypt…At least there was food in Egypt. But the wilderness is also a place where we are nourished by God, by water from the rock and bread from heaven. The journey lasts a long time—forty years…Its destination is life in the presence of God. Yet God is not simply the destination, but one who is known on the journey. It is a journeying toward God that is also with God.
Thus, as an epiphany of the human condition and the solution, the story of the exodus images the religious life as a journey from the life of bondage to life in the presence of God. Though we find ourselves in bondage to Pharaoh, it proclaims there is a way out. Through signs and wonders, through the great and mighty hand of God, God can liberate us, indeed wills our liberation, and yearns for our liberation, from life in bondage to culture to life as journeying with God [Borg, 124-125].
Borg refers to the Exodus story as one of three “macro-stories” at the heart of Scripture. These stories work at a deep level showing our sometimes unacknowledged experience of existence. We are held captives; we lack liberty. These stories point to liberation of the human spirit.
Like the other macro-stories of Scripture, this exodus story is painted with a broad brush; it presents a whole people in the throes of slavery, who then pass long years together in the wilderness. Applying this epic story to our own personal situation is necessary, according to Fox; this journey toward liberation is made singly and inwardly by each individual. The human condition is universal; at a deep level of our humanity, we all feel alone, confused, and out of control. The way out, the exodus, is available to us and that way out is found in the figurative message of the Scriptures. This line of progression, of growth and transformation can accommodate all people. We can move from spiritual slavery, alienation from God, and we can enter the Promised Land, that is, a dialogic relationship with God. That is God’s promise to our human race.
Preparing the Way: John the Baptist
I would like to focus on the liberation, the journey’s end, referred to in the Exodus story as the promised land and, in the quotation from Fox given earlier, as the entrance into the everlasting kingdom. Although I intend to look at Jesus who is in the kingdom, I will focus primarily on John the Baptist who immediately precedes Jesus, and thus prepares the way.
There is a narrative devise used in some stories of the Bible which consists of juxtaposing two like characters who differ from one another in some significant essential; this juxtaposition encourages the reader or hearer to compare two characters and so directs the reader’s attention to the significant idea through this discrepant element. Often the comparison is made between two men, usually brothers. As brothers have the same parents, and this suggests a similarity between them, whatever difference distinguishes them becomes that much more apparent.
Usually the older brother models the untransformed way of being, and the younger one embodies the transformed or more evolved state. Some examples of stories in which this narrative devise occurs are Cain and Abel, Jacob and Esau, and Joseph and his brothers. In the New Testament, we see this devise borrowed a number of times by Jesus, a good storyteller. The story of the Prodigal Son is probably the most familiar to us, with its sullen older brother who never ventures forth from his conventional life. This same narrative devise is apparent in the close connection and comparison of John the Baptist and Jesus, who are not brothers but are still related; their mothers were cousins, Luke tells us.
Luke is the only writer to give us details of John’s birth. Stories of births in the Bible are a good place to get a concise indication of what the person’s life is to be. Luke tells us John’s parents (Zacharias, a priest, and Elizabeth, of the priestly line of Aaron) were righteous people. An angel came to Zacharias and tells him they will have a son who will “make ready a people prepared for the Lord” [Luke 1:17b]. Zacharias is struck dumb because he doesn’t believe the angel and remains without his voice till John is born and named.
Six months later the same angel goes to Nazareth and this time speaks to a woman. The angel tells her that “that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God” [v.35b]. Mary then goes to visit her cousin Elisabeth who carries John in her womb. Immediately upon hearing Mary’s greeting, Elisabeth feels the babe leap within. She’s filled with the Holy Ghost and says to Mary “Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb” [v.42] and calls her “the mother of my Lord” [v.43]. After a three month visit, Mary leaves for home. Elisabeth then gives birth and calls her son John, at which her neighbors are surprised as none of her kindred is so named, and then they ask voiceless Zacharias what his son’s name is to be. He writes as he cannot speak, “His name is John” [v.63]. Immediately, he regains his voice and praises God.
These are just a few of the many details Luke gives us in this long first chapter of his book. From these details we can glean much information about Jesus and John. They are alike, we are being told. The same angel informs one of each of their parents about their arrivals and the names by which they are to be called. Their mothers are cousins; their parents are righteous; their births are close in time. John’s and Jesus’ lives are intertwined from the start. Later, as their ministries unfold, John will understand and foreshadow Jesus’s work and death as no one else does in the gospel narratives. There is a connection, a similarity between them.
Yet there are differences. What distinguishes Jesus who is in the kingdom from John who is not? There are differences in their births. John’s father, Zacharias, is the father of John, though through much of the story, he’s without a voice. The paternal parentage is marginalized in both of these births. John’s father is mute throughout the pregnancy, and Jesus’s human paternity is absent altogether, this in a culture which was unrelentingly patriarchal. The father’s role is increasingly less pronounced because a son of God is born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God [Jn. 1:13]. A son of God is not bound by the cultural constraints of male hierarchy or by any other cultural dictates, and that is also true for a daughter of God.
John’s birth precedes Jesus’s by six months. He comes before and prepares the way; later one of the primary refrains of his ministry is “Prepare ye the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.” And finally, it is clear even to John’s mother that Jesus is the Lord, not John. A mother’s acknowledgement that another woman’s baby is to have precedence over her own is an impelling indication that Jesus has preference before John. In his later ministry John says as much when he asserts: He it is, who coming after me, is preferred before me, whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose [Jn. 1:27].
Luke concludes the story of John’s early life with this final verse in chapter one:
And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the wilderness till the day of his shewing to Israel [Lk. 1:80].
If we recall Marcus Borg’s account of the Exodus story with the Hebrews wandering in the wilderness for 40 years and also recall his statements about the wilderness, that it is a place beyond the domestication of culture, a place of freedom where God is encountered and known, we can form an understanding of who John becomes as he matures. Accordingly, we can see what qualities or characteristics accompany the person who is on the cusp of entering the kingdom. We want to know this, if we ourselves are seeking to enter.
John is free in the wilderness, unfettered by cultural norms. He wears camel skins for clothes and eats locusts and wild honey. He is outside the demands of conventional social life; Pharaoh can’t touch him. In his book Catholic Quakerism, Lewis Benson draws a profile of the “outsider” which John typifies.
The outsider finds a way of escape from the rigid patterns of civilized life by asserting his power of volition, and by deliberately choosing a pattern of life for himself that expresses his defiance of those social forces that are pressing men into a common mold. The outsider is therefore usually described as an existentialist [Benson, 71].
The outsider has been defined as one who is seeking for a religious solution to the problem of the meaning of existence without the help of the revealed religion of the Hebrew and Christian traditions. This means that he accepts, as part of the “givenness of life,” that there are no moral, social, or historical absolutes in it [Benson, 70].
Benson goes on to say that George Fox is the “man who perhaps ought to be the patron saint of ‘outsiders.’” Here Fox describes his activity prior to his hearing the voice which spoke to his condition:
Now during all this time I was never joined in profession of religion with any, but gave myself to the Lord, having forsaken all evil company, and taken leave of father and mother and all other relations, and traveled up and down as a stranger in the earth, which way the Lord inclined my heart, taking a chamber to myself in the town where I came, and tarrying sometimes a month, sometimes more, sometimes less in a place. For I durst not stay long in any place, being afraid both of professor and profane, lest, being a tender young man, I should be hurt by conferring much with either. For which reason I kept myself much as a stranger, seeking heavenly wisdom and getting knowledge from the Lord, and was brought off from outward things to rely wholly on the Lord alone [Journal, 10].
What else is there to know of the outsider, the one who is not conformed to this world, the one who makes preparation for entering the kingdom? Isaiah gives us the original pictorial language to express the state of the outsider with his existential concern for right living in a world that appears absurd and without meaning.
The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it. The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field. The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the Lord bloweth upon upon it: surely the people is grass. The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand forever [Isa. 40:3-8].
As a type, John stands at the intermediate point between two ways of life—on the one hand, the secure but spiritually empty life of following the crowd’s obeisance to social or biological dictates, and on the other hand, the life lived in response to the authentic director of life, our Creator, and therefore life lived authentically. Between these two ways, the inauthentic conformity and the way of knowing God, is an emptiness that John in the wilderness typifies. He is not yet fully the being to come, but still only a voice, only a desire, only a will to be free. John’s asceticism, his separation from conventional life, his willingness to cast off all inauthenticity till nothing remains but a desire for wholeness distinguishes him. Pared down to unredeemed essentials, man is a voice solitary and crying out in the wilderness.
What did they expect to find when they went out into the wilderness? A man clothed in soft raiment [Lk. 7:25]? No, the wilderness is not soft. The people who come to John in the wilderness – and we construe this to mean the people who come to John’s inward state – undergo the emptiness of the desert where nothing can comfort or distract from the truth.
John’s baptism prepares the way, clears the space for the baptism which is to follow, that baptism with the holy Spirit. The same pattern of this two-step process, first the tearing down and clearing away to prepare space to build, can be found also in the apocalyptic chapters in the synoptic gospels; there must be a tearing down of the old structures before the new can arrive. John’s baptism is a cleansing removal of the old way. It is called in Mark a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.
To repent is to want light more than darkness, even though that light compels us first, to see our deeds and ourselves for what we truly are, and second, to cast off that which obstructs our relationship with God. John calls us to level with ourselves, to level our mountainous egos and straighten out our crooked ways. God isn’t going to travel the distance to make his visit to us until we’ve prepared the way. We often see a comfortable, popular notion that God in his mercy and omnipotence can and will overcome any and all obstacles that we put in the path between Him and ourselves. The wisdom of our tradition is at variance with this popular, sin-enabling assumption. We need to prepare by choosing to see ourselves as we truly are; that is the judgment of the last day.
Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear [Isa. 59:1-2].
Baptism with the Holy Spirit
We have seen that there can be a variety of images in scripture to describe a single spiritual experience. The promised land, the kingdom of God, and the kingdom of heaven all describe the sought-after destination of knowing God’s presence. We see another phrase to describe the completion of the inward journey—Christ’s baptism with the holy Spirit for which John’s baptism has prepared the way. Says John in the book of Matthew:
I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire [Mt. 3:11-12].
The distinction between John’s water baptism and Christ’s baptism with fire and with the holy Ghost is made in all four gospels and in Jesus’s first utterance in the book of Acts [Mk. 1:8, Lk. 3:16, Jn. 1:33, and Acts 1:4-5].
…commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.
The importance given this distinction alerts us to look for the difference between the two baptisms. Unlike the repentance signified by John’s water baptism, the new and living way signified by Christ’s baptism with the holy Spirit is not within our human ability to effect. We do not decide if and when it is to occur; we can only prepare and then wait and watch. It is like vocal ministry within our meetings for worship. It is not planned beforehand, but instead, waited upon until the Word is received. Christ commands the apostles to wait for the promise of the Father before acting, before departing from Jerusalem to preach. “Watch” for the arrival of the Son of man says Jesus in the apocalyptic chapters in the gospels. There is no way that we can compel God to act; we can only prepare ourselves to receive, and then we wait.
Therefore, all wait patiently upon the Lord, whatsoever condition you be in; wait in the grace and truth that comes by Jesus, for if ye so do, there is a promise to you, and the Lord God will fulfill it in you. And blessed are all they indeed that do hunger and thirst after righteousness; they shall be satisfied with it. I have found it so, praised be the Lord who filleth with it, and satisfieth the desires of the hungry soul [Journal, 12-13].
If we do not yet know “the grace and truth that comes by Jesus,” to which Fox alludes, if we do not yet know the spirit in which we should wait upon the Lord, then we should ask ourselves: Is my soul hungry, or is it satiated? Hemingway once said that he needed to return to Africa in order “to work the fat off his soul.” If we feel depressed, bloated, or uncomfortable with our spiritual state, then we should look to John as our mentor, for John came neither eating nor drinking [Mt. 11:18]. If we hunger in our souls, we should go out to John in the wilderness, as many did, and learn the baptism of repentance.
The Promise Realized
The Quaker movement began with the discovery that God is with us, that we can hear and obey the will of our Creator, a will that is not our own—that we can enter the kingdom, the promised land, while we are yet here on earth and alive, and that we should seek this. Here is Fox’s powerful description of Life in unity with our Creator. Please note that he goes back to the Garden of Eden with his imagery – back to the beginning of the long journey to the promised land. Yet one more term for the journey’s destination is “the paradise of God.”
Now was I come up in spirit through the flaming sword into the paradise of God. All things were new, and all the creation gave another smell unto me than before, beyond what words can utter. I knew nothing but pureness, and innocency, and righteousness, being renewed up into the image of God by Christ Jesus, so that I say I was come up to the state of Adam which he was in before he fell. The creation was opened to me, and it was showed me how all things had their names given them according to their nature and virtue…But I was immediately taken up in spirit, to see into another or more steadfast state than Adam’s in innocency, even into a state in Christ Jesus, that should never fall. And the Lord showed me that such as were faithful to him in the power and light of Christ, should come up into that state in which Adam was before he fell, in which the admirable works of the creation, and the virtues thereof, may be known, through the openings of that divine Word of wisdom and power by which they were made. Great things did the Lord lead me into, and wonderful depths were opened unto me, beyond what can by words be declared; but as people come into subjection to the spirit of God, and grow up in the image and power of the Almighty, they may receive the Word of wisdom, that opens all things, and come to know the hidden unity in the Eternal Being [Journal, 28-29].
We have here a description of the culminating, transcendent state toward which the Scriptures unswervingly have pointed us. All things were new, says Fox. This is a new state in which we feel Life in the Word, in which we sense the essence and power of things. We know them and can name them, as Adam could name the creatures, while he was yet in God’s image before the Fall [Gen. 2:19]. In the image and power of God where (ego/flesh has been crucified), we are given to know things for what they are, to know the truth that makes us free [Jn. 8:32]. To know reality as it is, apart from the distortions provoked by ego’s greed and fear, is the promise realized.
Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is [1 Jn. 3:2].
At that time we are anointed to preach the gospel. It is a call to preach deliverance to the captives of Pharaoh as well as those baptized solely of John. For as early Quaker minister Edward Burrough said: yea an absolute necessity was laid upon us, and wo [sic] unto us if we preached not the gospel [Works, 3:14].
The gospel message of Life often will be ignored or resented by those to whom it is preached. It can be a threat to those who have not known this visitation or have not been faithful to the measure given to them. Some do shut the door and shutter the windows of their hearts, in order to enjoy without disturbance the worldly treasures they’ve accumulated and stored within. Those who bring this message will be unwelcome by many, as they have been unwelcome throughout history: scorned, abused, and even killed. Because this ministry shares a common vocabulary and regard for Scriptures with Protestant and Catholic forms of Christianity, it is especially convenient today to dismiss it within liberal Quaker communities, where little care is taken to discover the essentials of Quaker heritage, and there is instead a comfortable skimming along the surface of a well-meaning and self-satisfied humanism.
For example, we Quakers learn that there is a peace testimony but do not learn the ground and basis for that testimony. If our peace testimony is the outcome of a privileged, educated class that can secure its needs and wants without resorting to physical violence, then we have little to offer a less privileged world. On the other hand, if our peace testimony were to be the result of coming into and knowing that inward peace given by Christ, our sanctuary, to which we hold throughout any trial, then, as did the early Friends, we could impart this power to the world, which is in need of a way to overcome evil. In our present state, our claim to be peace-loving is belied by behavior occurring within many of our meeting communities. For relief, we must resort to those who are trained in conflict resolution, rather than the Prince of Peace whom we do not know or receive.
Unity in the Truth
The title of this essay is taken from the seventeenth chapter of John, in which Jesus prays to the Father shortly before he is taken by the soldiers. The religious powers of the day that have been threatened by the revolutionary power, which Jesus has displayed, will shortly arrange his death. In the final opportunity before his arrest, Jesus prays for the ones who have been given him by the Father, the ones who have known that he was sent by the Father.
They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou has sent me [Jn. 17:16-21].
Becoming one in Christ is not a forfeiture of an individual’s integrity and bid for self-actualization. Look at the strong spokespeople for this discovery of Christ Within. The Apostle Paul, George Fox, Margaret Fell, William Dewsbury were all so very much individual in the way they conducted their lives that they could choose to separate themselves from the security of community life, as did Abraham, whose heirs in faith they were. Yet, they all were one in Christ, though separated by culture and millennia.
Now all loving the light, here no self can stand, but it is judged out with the light, and here all are in unity [Works, 7:61].
There are communities who claim to be in Christ and require conformity to man-made approximations of what they think that might entail. This is not the Quaker way, and first generation Quakers were vehemently opposed to this apostasy and ignorance among the so-called Christians of their day. They knew that all notions about God and Christ, and about religion must be shaken loose and removed before we can receive the kingdom that cannot be moved [He. 12:28].
This kingdom that cannot be moved is a dialogic relationship with God, which was foreseen by the prophets and the apostles. It would come to pass that God would pour out his spirit on all flesh, and all would prophesy [Joel 2:28]. Our Quaker heritage is the carrier of this understanding. If we are to be worthy of the name “Quaker,” we will learn a new way of being on the earth, and it will start with a fearless resolve to heed the truth, regardless of the consequences within our social group. We cannot serve both God and Mammon. It is up to us to choose the better thing. I conclude with Fox’s Epistle 194.
Dear Friends who have found the better part, and chosen the better thing, the one thing which lasteth forever, which is the ground of all true rejoicing and joy, in whom ye have all riches and life and blessings, and the immortal power, to be your crown and covering. And it may be, there will be a time of shearing and clipping; but the earth is the Lord’s, and fullness thereof. So, mind him to be your portion, and the seed Christ your all, and your life and fear not losing the fleece, for it will grow again. And keep your meetings in the name of him that never fell, which is above all the meetings of Adam’s sons and daughters in the fall. And keep in the fellowship in the gospel, which is the power of God, which was before the devil was; and this fellowship is above all the national fellowships in the fall of Adam. And keep in the worship of the Father in the spirit and in the truth, which the devil is out of, and in that ye will live in the truth and spirit in yourselves, and walk in unity in the same; and then ye are over all the will-worships in the fall of Adam, where they are in the strife about them. And who are come to the church in God, do see above all the churches of Adam in the fall, drove from God. And as the outward Jews suffered by the outward Egyptians and Babylonians, and they persecuted them and killed their children; so the spiritual Egyptians and mystery Babylon persecute and would kill the Jews in spirit, that worship God in the spirit, whose praise is of God, and not of man, and such have none from fallen men, but by them are persecuted. But all such go, as dumb before their shearers; for he that gave his back and his cheek to the smiters, overcame, and reigns, and hath the victory and the honour, who is Christ, the amen, the first and last, the top and corner stone; in him sit down, in life, and peace, and rest. So no more, but my love in the everlasting seed, the second Adam, that never fell nor changed, whose love is above all the love in Adam’s house in the fall.