Spiritual Practices for Isolated Friends
Books and Pamphlets
- excerpts from Quaker Strongholds, available from Pendle Hill Pamphlets as a PDF.
The full work is available online at the Digital Quaker Collection.
by Caroline Emelia Stephen
I read this book last weekend after finishing my own extensive additional witnessing to the Truth on this website. As I read this pamphlet excerpted from her work I thought, she has already said it all, and said it all better. For a moment I bemoaned my "wasted" efforts. And then I rejoiced, realizing all over again how great God is and how permanent and unchanging his Truth in the Life and the Way. It was a revelation to read how Elizabeth Stirredge experienced in the late 1600s what I have experienced today. Now I know that Caroline Stephen had these self-same experiences in the mid-1800s. God is an Eternal Good whose Truth is available to all of us through the Inward Teacher, the Christ within, whose Light will illuminate for us all that is within us, and will help us root out the bad and to raise up the good.< This pamphlet was created in 1951. Caroline Stephen (1834-1909) first published the original work in 1891. A Friend I admire mildly suggested this was a good book for those seeking to discover if Quakerism is "for them." I say it should be required reading for all!
- Plain Women: Gender and Ritual in the Old Order River Brethren,
by Margaret C. Reynolds
Nice section allowing OORB women to explain why they observe plain dress and what covering means to them. I cringed when the author had to mention at least twice, maybe three times, that while she admired the women she did not agree with them. Seemed an unnecessary statement. I mean, I wasn't under the impression she was going to join. But, this version was edited by a man, a mentor of some sort as I recall, so perhaps I should not be harsh on the late Margaret C. Reynolds.
Purchase from the PSU Press.
Leading and Being Led Pendle Hill Pamphlet 264
by Paul Lacey Page with Link to Download PDF
We may become burdens to ourselves and others. Through all this turmoil we become aware of a great longing to know what can be depended on, and we recognize that our desire to know what is true is greater even than our desire to be comforted.
The waiting is painful, but our capacity to resist false answers gives us some assurance a true one will come.
As we come to know our own condition, we come also to know the condition of others.
For Fox, to have one's condition spoken to was to learn a hard truth or be brought to judgment.
A gathering power of conviction within us sustains our courage and patience and then points us to first steps in a reordering of our lives.
Encounter with Silence
by John Punshon
Purchase from Barnes & Noble
I came to understand why it is impossible to be a Quaker without a meeting. p.13
... I finally knew that religion was not about me and my problems, but about God. p. 14
The soul is to be understood as that which responds to God. It is wider than the mind. It includes what we are to become, as well as what we are. p. 37
... a cloistered virtue that had never been in any moral danger. p. 46
Pride is a form of personal untruthfulness, a way of avoiding the need to recognize the person we really are. p. 48
When you think of God, she said, there is only one possible response. It is to go down on your knees. p. 52
We are matured to receive God's word, given courage to receive God's challenge, strength to meet God's demands. But we are always left alone to decide whether to respond. p. 53
[Worship] is moulding us into the people God wants us to be and pointing our faces towards heaven. p. 65
It follows, I think, that we have to train ourselves to overcome our personal likes and dislikes and treat everything said in meeting with uniform seriousness and consideration. That is part of Friends' spiritual discipline and cannot be compromised with. It is not at all easy, but it is unavoidable. If we are to practice discernment we have to do it at a spiritual and not a merely intellectual level. We need time and calmness to reflect on what we have heard. Only when we have taken it into ourselves shall we be in a position to decide whether or not it is from God. p. 78
I have come to learn that our faithfulness is always tested in our willingness to set aside those things we value most--particularly the personal qualities in which we have every reason to feel ourselves blessed. This is so we can know that when they are ready for use, they are being put to God's purposes, not our own. p. 79
James Nayler (1660)
"There is a Spirit which I feel that delights to do no evil nor to revenge any wrong, but delights to endure all things, in hopes to enjoy its own in the end. Its hope is to outlive all wrath and contention, and to weary out all exaltation and cruelty, or whatever is of a nature contrary to itself. It sees to the end of all temptations. As it bears no evil in itself, it conceives none in the thoughts of any other. If it is betrayed, it bears it, for its ground and spring is the mercies and forgiveness of God. Its crown is meekness, its life is everlasting love unfeigned, and it takes its kingdom with entreaty and not with contention, and keeps it by lowliness of mind."
George Fox, "Openings"
"Now, after I had received that opening from the Lord, that to be bred at Oxford or Cambridge was not sufficient to fit a man to be a minister of Christ, I regarded the priests less, and looked more after the Dissenting people. Among them I saw there was some tenderness; and many of them came afterwards to be convinced, for they had some openings."
"But as I had forsaken the priests, so I left the separate preachers also, and those esteemed the most experienced people; for I saw there was none among them all that could speak to my condition. When all my hopes in them and in all men were gone, so that I had nothing outwardly to help me, nor could I tell what to do, then, oh, then, I heard a voice which said, 'There is one, even Christ Jesus, that can speak to thy condition'; and when I heard it, my heart did leap for joy."
"The Scriptures were the prophets' words and Christ's and the apostles' words, and what as they spoke they enjoyed and possessed and had it from the Lord...Then what had any to do with the Scripture, but as they came to the Scripture that gave them forth. You will say Christ saith this, and the apostles say this, but what canst thou say?"
A Basis for the Modern Peace Testimony
George Fox (1652)
"All bloody principles and practices, we as to our own particulars, do utterly deny, with all outward wars and strife and fightings with outward weapons, for any end and under any pretense whatsoever. And this is our testimony to the world."
part of a letter from the Quakers to Charles II, Jan. 21, 1661, on the occasion of over 4,000 of them being thrown in prison after a Puritan sect fomented rebellion and riots in London.
The Light Within
Biblical Support from Jesus
That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.
But the Counsellor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything that I have said to you.
I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.
When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me.
I tell you the truth, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony.
Biblical Support from Paul
But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.
Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind controlled by the sinful nature is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.
Biblical Support from Jeremiah
This is what the Lord says: "Let not the wise boast of their wisdom, or the strong boast of their strength, or the rich boast of their riches, but let those who boast boast about this: that they understand and know me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight" declares the Lord.