Spiritual Practices for Isolated Friends
Offerings for reflection.The fruits of some companions on the path.
Submitting to God's Will
"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. That is our free will."
"Give over thine own willing, give over thine own running, give over thine own desiring to know or be anything, and sink down into the Seed which God sows in thy heart, and let that be in thee, and grow in thee, and breathe 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..."
"Every man and woman has within themselves the faculties to grow closer to God: a soul yearning for God, a heart that can be filled with love, a conscience to guide us on our spiritual journey and a free will endowed to choose good over evil."
"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."
"When you come to your meetings... what do you do? Do you then gather together bodily only, and kindle a fire, compassing yourselves with the sparks of your own kindling, and so please yourself...? Or rather do you sit down in the true silence, resting from your own will and workings, and waiting upon the Lord, with your minds fixed in that Light wherewith Christ has enlightened you... and prepares you, and your spirits and souls, to make you fit for his service? "
"But the life of my soul is incessant trouble. The cross is always on my shoulder. At the same time, I surely make some progress. God is the Soul of my soul. He embraces my soul within Himself. He enlightens and strengthens my soul. He attends to my soul day and night. He gives my soul more and more grace. This has not come about because of myself. No effort of mine has brought this about. He does it all. And He has held me by the hand, that I might not go back."
"For as to the spiritual direction of my soul, I think that God himself has taken it in hand from the start and still looks after it."
Universality of Christ
"There is a principle which is pure, placed in the human mind, which in different places and ages hath different names; it is, however, pure and proceeds from God. It is deep and inward, confined to no forms of religion nor excluded from any where the heart stands in perfect sincerity. In whomsoever it takes root and grows, of what nation soever, they become brethren."
"God is not a character in a book who we know by reading or hearing about God. What is critical is the personal experience of the divine, and that is possible for everyone. It does not matter that people have never heard the word God or the name of Christ. If they have the experience of the divine and respond to it, they are part of our fellowship. If they have not had the experience of the divine or have not responded to it, they are still part of the covenant and one with us. This is why Friends are not evangelical in ordinary ways. We have no Truth to bring to others like a product to be handed out. We are called to show that Truth has us and by example demonstrate to others that they too can be found by God within."
"That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world."
". . . it is a complete misinterpretation to apply to the Church the words 'Wheresoever two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.' Christ did not say two hundred, or fifty, or ten. He said two or three."
"For this is the true ground of love and unity, not that such a man walks and does just as I do, but because I feel the same Spirit and life in him... walking sweetly and harmoniously together in the midst of different practices."
"We are also called, I feel, to invite others to share Christ directly, not primarily in order to introduce them to Quakerism and bring them into our meetings, but to encourage them to turn to the light and follow it."
"Christ likes us to prefer truth to him because, before being Christ, he is truth. If one turns aside from him to go toward the truth, one will not go far before falling into his arms."
"I have come to know this living God by immediate revelation, not by inspecting the evidence left behind in written records or by finding what clues there might be to God's character in nature. I am sure that reason and observation, ministry, preaching and scripture can point me towards God, but I have not found them a substitute for direct experience. I realised the true extent of my faith when I became convinced and belief involved my whole soul, not just my mind or heart. I was convinced of, and by, what Quakerism calls 'Truth'. The harmony of my experience and what I have been taught shows me the truth is Christ, so wherever I encounter truth, under whatever guise, there I find Christ waiting for me."
We speak whereof we know, and we bear witness to what we have seen.
"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?"
"Whoever can reconcile this, 'Resist not evil,' with 'Resist violence by force,' again, 'Give also thy other cheek,' with 'Strike again;' also, 'Love thine enemies,' with 'Spoil them, make a prey of them, pursue them with fire and sword,' or, 'Pray for those that persecute you, and those that calumniate you,' with 'Persecute them by fines, imprisonments and death itself,' whoever, I say, can find a means to reconcile these things may be supposed also to have found a way to reconcile God with the Devil, Christ with Antichrist, Light with Darkness, and good with evil. But if this be impossible, as indeed it is impossible, so will also the other be impossible, and men do but deceive both themselves and others, while they boldly adventure to establish such absurd and impossible things."
"Love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt."
"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."
"Be patterns, be examples in every country, place, or nation that you visit, so that your bearing and life might communicate with all people. Then you'll happily walk across the earth to evoke that of God in everybody. So that you will be seen as a blessing in their eyes and you will receive a blessing from that of God within them."
Power of the Living God
"For the word of God is living and powerful and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the point of division between soul and spirit, and between the joints and marrow and bones, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart."
"And so we ceased from the teachings of 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 the written word brings no soul to Christ the life, but who comes to the life that the written words speak of . . ."
"Friends have traditionally held that faith and practice are inseparable. 'Let your lives preach,' is an old Quaker exhortation. Our faith experience becomes the way we order our days, set our priorities, and define the relevant and irrelevant. When we hear that still, small voice within us, it is a clarifying experience. It is the experience of the Real. This is the Quaker concept of Gospel Order. Christianity is not a notion, but a way."
"It is God who saves, not religions, even our own, which is ultimately a human instrument."
"I saw that the carrying out of a vocation differed from the actions dictated by reason or inclination in that it was due to an impulse of an essentially and manifestly different order; and not to follow such an impulse when it made itself felt, even if it demanded impossibilities, seemed to me the greatest of all ills."
"A vocation exacts a price, and not all can pay it. Even though it may seem to draw us, its point is not happiness. It is, as C. S. Lewis notes, the nature of vocation to appear simultaneously both as desire and as duty. 'To follow the vocation does not mean happiness; but once it has been heard, there is no happiness for those who do not follow.'"
(At Horsham in Sussex)
DEAR Friends, who suffer for your Testimony, and to all the rest in your County, I am glad to hear of your Faithfulness, and of your standing for the Church which Christ is the Head of, which is in God, and are become his living Members; and therefore wheresoever ye are, in Prison, or out of Prison, where two or three are gathered in his Name, there is a Church, and Christ, the Living Head in the midst of his Kingdom, and a Bishop, to oversee his Living Members; ...
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