Gary continues his series of exploration of what early Quakers found in their seeking, looking at quotes from Margaret Fell, Isaac Pennington, and George Fox, along with insights from Meister Eckhart.
“Be still and cool in thy own mind and spirit from thy own thoughts, and then thou wilt feel the principle of God to turn thy mind to the Lord God, from whom life comes; whereby thou mayest receive his strength and power to allay all blusterings, storms, and tempests. That is it which works up into patience, into innocency, into soberness, into stillness, into stayedness, into quietness, up to God, with his power…what the light doth make manifest and discover, as temptations, distractions, confusions; do not look at these temptations, confusions, corruptions; but at the light that discovers them and makes them manifest; and with the same light you may feel over them, to receive power to stand against them. The same light that lets you see sin and transgression, will let you see the covenant of God, which blots out your sin and transgression, which gives victory and dominion over it, and brings into covenant with God. For looking down at sin, corruption, and distraction, ye are swallowed up in it; but looking at the light, which discovers them, ye will see over them. That will give victory, and ye will find grace and strength; there is the first step to peace.”
—- Letter from George Fox to Lady Claypoole, 1658
Know what it is that is to walk in the path of life, and indeed is alone capable of walking therein. It is that which groans, and which mourns; that which is begotten of God in thee. The path of life is for the seed of life. The true knowledge of the way, with the walking in the way, is reserved for God’s child, for God’s traveller. Therefore keep in the regeneration, keep in the birth; be no more than God hath made thee. Give over thine own willing; give over thine own running; give over thine own desiring to know, or to be anything, and sink down to the seed which God sows in the heart; and let that grow in thee, and be in thee, and breathe in thee, and act in thee, and thou shalt find by sweet experience, that the Lord knows that, and loves and owns that, and will lead it to the inheritance of life, which is his portion.
—Issac Penington, 1661
And so he went on and said, How that Christ was the Light of the world and lighteth every man that cometh into the world; and that by this Light they might be gathered to God. And I stood up in my pew, and I wondered at this doctrine, for I had never heard such before. And then he went on, and opened the Scriptures, and said, ‘The Scriptures were the prophets’ words and Christ’s and the apostles’ words, and what as they spoke, they enjoyed and possesed and had it from the Lord’. And said, “Then what had any to do with the Scriptures, but as they came to the Spirit that gave them forth. You will say, Christ sayeth this, and the apostles say this, but what canst thou say? Art though a child of Light and hast walked in the Light, and what thou speakest is it inwardly from God?’
This opened me so that it cut me to the heart; and then I saw clearly we were all wrong. So I sat me down in my pew again, and cried bitterly. And I cried in my spirit to the Lord, “We are all thieves, we are all thieves, we have taken the Scriptures in words and know nothing of them in ourselves’…I saw it was the truth, and I could not deny it: and I did as the apostle saith, I ‘received the truth in love of it’. And it was opened to me so clear that I had never a tittle in my heart against it; but I desired the Lord that I might be kept in it, and then I desired no greater portion.
—Margaret Fell, 1694