«By CAROLE ANNE HAMBY A thesis submitted to the University of Birmingham for the degree of DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY Department of Theology and Religion ...»
64 requires ‘saving’ action.29 In this sense the saving function of inward experience here is taken to be a stepping stone to the longer term consequence of life lived in Eternal Being.30 For Fox this is a matter of conscious choice. It is choice in freedom of will that distinguishes merely knowing the Light from actually living in the light. 31 Living in the Light is what affords security in the unity of unchanging reality. For King this is what Fox means by salvation. This understanding gives rise to the view that unity could not become a stabilised experience in living, either individually or corporately, without the saving function of Inwardness as fully attained and established in experience.32 As indicated above, for Fox it is the ‘hidden unity in the Eternal Being’ that once known and lived results in ‘purity’ and ‘perfection’.33 If this is so then the saving function is to be considered as a potential result of the discovery and experience of the ‘infinite and incomprehensible God’ in union.34 This suggestion alters the order of events positing unity as the pre-condition of freedom from sin and transgression.
32 The saving function of mature spiritual experience is its state in Unity.
33 Note Fox’s references to ‘growth’ and ‘transformation’ are often expressed in terms of the move to ‘purity’ and ‘perfection’.
36 See Creasey on the transforming function of the ‘interiorised Christ’ and ‘the experiential component of Quaker Inwardness [as] complemented by full appreciation of the historic Christ’, (1.3).
Fox proposed a relationship with God which fed the whole of life: it was attained by means of spiritual practice which affected all behaviours. This concerns the requirement that people should ‘wait to feel the Lord’s power and spirit…’ and is, in large measure, a reference to spiritual practice in worship.38 Turning inward and dwelling (or standing still) in the spirit are both preparation and pre-requisite for living in unity and, through this, living righteously in accordance with gospel order [g]. As Fox says, he ‘turned them to the spirit of God in themselves by which they might know the Scriptures and be led into all the truth of them, and with the spirit to know God; and in it to have unity one with another’.39 This is the unity of which King writes that, ‘Unity [is] something that affords man permanent security from the evils of disunity and change’.40 This state of life is gained only if there is a choice by free-will and both regularity and frequency of spiritual practice.
Turning inward and standing still are discussed in turn below and unity in 2.4.
2.3.1. ‘Turning within’ Faith in, or understanding of, what the Light within offers (according to Fox), is of no use unless the individual gives attention to the practice of locating it intentionally. Fox wrote to Oliver Cromwell ‘Be still and in the counsel of God stand, and that will give thee wisdom...’41 Also in a letter to his parents, he urged them to ‘... return within, and wait to hear the voice of the Lord there; and waiting there and keeping close to the Lord, a
66 discerning will grow’.42 These words are central to his prophetic message: in order to grow in measure, to experience a development in discernment, to know the Lord’s will, it is necessary to turn within and wait, or be still, in Inwardness. Fox continues, …be still a while from thy own thoughts, searching, seeking, desires and imaginations, and be stayed in the principle of God in thee, to stay thy mind upon God, up to God; and thou wilt find strength from him and a present help in time of trouble, in need, and to be a God at hand’.43 According to Braithwaite, once Fox ‘possessed as the surest fact of his consciousness a wonderful newness and purity of life, which had come to him through the indwelling life of Christ,’ he felt confident in his prophetic message about the importance of the ‘inner
spiritual knowledge’.44 For Fox:
This is the word of the Lord God to you. Every one in the measure of life wait, that with it all your minds may be guided up to the Father of life, with your hearts joined together up to the Father of spirits, all receive power from him and wisdom that with it you may be ordered to his glory, to whom be all glory for ever. 45 Fox expressed the need to ‘keep [the] mind in’46 as the way to ‘bring them [all people] to the Spirit of God in themselves’,47 where it becomes possible to ‘wait to feel’48 after God and to be ‘patient and still in the power and still in the light...’49 So, allowing the mind to focus on the Spirit of God in patience, Fox maintains that worshippers should ‘wait for wisdom from God’:50 this is the way to ‘right discerning.’51
67 In his full statement Fox rehearses the requirement to ‘take heed and hearken to the light within you, which is the light of Christ and of God’. 52 Although Fox does not deliberately juxtapose the terms inward and outward here, his meaning is clear: that it is necessary to turn the mind away from the ‘creatures’, out in the world.53 Figure 1 is a simple visual depiction of the domain of outwardness, or creatureliness, as intimated by Fox and interpreted within this thesis.54 It is shown as outwardly spreading or outwardly turned and thus as reference to the external world and all the multiplicity that this implies and embraces.
Talk of the creatures and the world is linked by Fox with notions of ‘the will of man’, ‘selfish, fleshly, earthly will’, and being in ‘bondage’, in other words all that is contrary to
53 The ‘creature’ was, for Fox, the creation i.e. anything created, not just animals, Ambler, R. Truth of the Heart, p. 155.
54 Figures 1-6 are ‘shorthand’ visual references to indicate different stages of the growth of Inwardness.
68 the Spirit.55 When this is the way people live, Fox is implying, if not actually making explicit, the individual is failing to saturate himself, or herself, in the fullness of the light.
It is the ‘pure light of God’ that must be imbibed in worship if spiritual nourishment is to be gained in full.56 Living in outwardness is characterised by activity and multi focused attention that is changeable and temporal; the creaturely world is however the sphere in which Quaker Testimonies find action in response to need, the sphere to implement answers to the consequences of Inwardness.
Fox maintains that it is necessary not merely to ‘turn within’ but also to ‘keep within’,
... when they shall say, ‘lo here’, or ‘lo there is Christ’, go not forth; for Christ is within you. And they are seducers and antichrists which draw your minds out from the teaching within you. For the measure is within, and the light of God is within, and the pearl is within you, which is hid; and the word of God is within you, and ye are the temples of God; and God hath said, he will dwell in you, and walk with you.
And then what need ye go to the idols’ temples without you?57 This was Fox’s main advice: ‘Mind the pure light of God in you’, mind Inwardness and ‘mind your measure’ so that God may ‘walk with you’. 58 Fox was preaching that this is the means to a life well lived, a life of righteousness, which is for the benefit not only of the individual but also the community and the wider world. The purpose of Inwardness is practical. It is primary in facilitating ‘everlasting unity and fellowship’.59 Thus Fox wrote
… all you that have received it, this heavenly and everlasting power of God, the heavenly dignity, keep in your possession of it, being heirs of it, and in the holy order of it, and walk as becomes the gospel, and let your conversation be according
For Fox, then, Inwardness is not ultimately for its own sake but, as a means to personal transformation, it is for the praise of God and fellowship with all humankind. By contrast with Figure 1, Figure 2 signifies the domain of Inwardness as understood by Fox and interpreted within this thesis. It is intended to show that Inwardness is concerned with the interior world of experience, converging in its intensity to embrace the spiritual realm of transcendental reality.
As indicated in Figure 2 the realm of the inward is concerned, for Fox, with progress towards the non-changing and eternal, with experience of stillness in single minded and focused attention; it is the sphere in which Quaker Testimonies find their leadings.
Contact with the inward sphere offers individuals guidance for their living. It is necessary to ‘stand still’ in the inward dimension of one’s life.
The importance and purpose of standing still in the Spirit is well expressed in Fox’s Tenth Epistle. He writes that it is necessary to ‘stand still in that which is pure’; ‘stand still in the light and submit to it’; ‘stand still in that power which brings peace’; ‘stand still naked, bare and uncovered before the Lord’ since ‘your strength is to stand still’.61 Elsewhere this teaching is termed as ‘waiting’ 62 and ‘abiding’63 usually connected with the need for ‘feeling his presence’64 and watchfulness65 for the Lord in attentive presence.
In a letter to Irish Friends, written in 1655, Fox says, ‘…now as you do walk in the light, and are established in the grace and truth, in your hearts, minds, and souls, it brings you to Christ, the heavenly spiritual rock and foundation...’66 And again, ‘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 do so, there is a promise to you, and the Lord God will fulfil it in you’.67 Fox recognised that the way may not be easy for his followers and exhorted ‘Friends, be not hasty; for he that believes in the Light makes not haste’.68 By implication he is saying dwell in the light before speech or action, prepare heart and mind in this inward dwelling place: stand still in the power to gain strength and the right sense of direction, i.e. in discernment.
71 Fox had no doubt about his message that what had ‘been talked of’ had now come. 69 This was an absolute promise fulfilled in Christ. In a short epistle to Friends (1655) he said, ‘Friends, wait in the light, that with the light every one of you may come to see Christ to be your wisdom and your righteousness... [and] ye may come to reign in the life’.70 He teaches that Friends should be ‘patient and still in the power and still in the light that doth convince you, to keep your minds to God…’71 Life in fulfilment is only possible according to Fox once Friends know how to be still in the light so as to be transformed by it. In his Journal Fox writes of ‘standing still’ in relation to the light showing transgressions and evil. It is through standing still in the light that ‘sin and transgressions’ are discovered.72 Their ‘redeemer’ is seen.73 The connection is made to darkness and light and, metaphorically, to summer and winter.74 The importance of dwelling in the light, and standing still patiently, is not merely to discover
69 See 2.2.
70 Fox, Works 7, Epistles 1, Epistle CVIII, p. 108.
71 Fox, Journal, p. 283. Also: Fox says: ‘In the stillness and silence of the power of the Almighty dwell, which never varies, alters, nor changes, but preserveth over and out of, and above all the changeable worships, religions, ministers, churches, teachings, principalities, and powers, with the power of God, which keepeth over all this, to the kingdom of Christ, that is everlasting, in which there is no changing, who is King of kings, and Lord of lords. All power in heaven and earth is given unto him, of whose light, life, power, and wisdom, grace, and riches have ye received, which comes from him, that doth not change. So in that live, that doth not change, the unchangeable life, the unchangeable mind, the unchangeable spirit and wisdom, and the unchangeable worship and church, of which Christ is the unchangeable head, who remains the same yesterday, to-day, and forever; in that ye will feel the blessing and presence of the Lord God of life amongst you, as ye all abide in the unchangeable kingdom, dominion, power, and life, who are heirs of it according to your measures, who have received the light, and received the life and grace, and the power of a kingdom and a word that hath no end. So wait all in it, that ye may be possessors and inheritors of the kingdom, and of the life and power which hath no end, and of the promises, that are yea and amen; and let nothing, that is of the world, alter you, but keep ye in that which keepeth you in the everlasting kingdom of God. (In The Stillness and Silence of the Almighty Dwell (Letter of the 3rd month, 1661) accessed from internet 7.7.12).
72 Fox, Journal, p. 117.
73 Fox, ibid, p. 117, the ‘redeemer’ being the Light.
74 Fox, ibid. pp. 283-4, ‘Be patient and still in the power and still in the light that doth convince you, to keep your minds to God; in that be quiet, that you may come to the summer, that your flight be not in the winter. For if you sit still in the patience which overcomes in the power of God, there will be no flying … And so in the light standing still you will see your salvation, you will see the Lord’s strength …you will see God revealing his secrets, inspiring, and his gifts coming unto you, through which your hearts will be filled with God’s love’.