«By CAROLE ANNE HAMBY A thesis submitted to the University of Birmingham for the degree of DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY Department of Theology and Religion ...»
72 transgression and feel rebuke however; it is to know the beneficence of the Lord through which comes ‘unity in the same feeling, life and power.’75 For Fox, this is also the means by which to gain the support of God, to have Him by one’s side at all times and so to be able to rely on Him and allow the Lord to act through one. (‘Stand ye still and see the salvation of the LORD with you’ 2 Chronicles 20.17). Here is the way to spiritual discernment in mystical transparency.
Fox indicates growth or progression in the process of standing still in the light. There is ‘a first step to peace’ in which there is the possibility of gaining peace by virtue of relinquishing ‘sin and transgression’76 and thus being freed from it; and then, moving into peace and power with God, who will be the redeemer and saviour of all life, and lead humankind into unity, which ‘hath been talked of but now it is come’.77 Thus Inwardness is not a fleeting engagement. For Fox patience and waiting within the experience of God, in the Light, is vital to spiritual growth: it is ‘the way to God, conversion, regeneration and translation … from death to life, darkness to light…’78
2.4. Consequences of Inwardness
The focal concern of Fox’s teaching is that all people participate in a transformative process through which the move from sin and transgression results in perfection. He says that, ‘… 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’.79 The point here is not then to do with knowing but rather with becoming or, ultimately, with Being. This is a state of simplicity but also of fullness in God; a sinless state of purity and righteousness for which all mankind is intended. Thus there is in Fox’s understanding a vision of possibilities: humanity, although frail and of limited spiritual measure, has the
Individuals and the corporate gatherings of Quakers must keep ‘still and cool’ and not allow ‘the heating state’ to prevail.82 ‘So every one in your measures of the spirit of God and Christ, be faithful, that in it you may increase and answer the Lord in a good life and conversation...’83 The need then is for everyone to grow in their measure. If Friends manage to stay ‘still and cool’ and to be low,84 restoration,85 and salvation86 will be attainable. However, personal transformation is conditional upon spiritual practice and obedience to God. As Fox says, ‘All you who love the light, you love God and Christ, and if you love it and obey it, it will lead you out of darkness, out of evil deeds into the light of life, into the way of peace and into the life and power of truth’.87 Quaker Inwardness is for the sake of fostering new life, seeing a new possibility – a life lived in fulfilment and fullness individually and corporately.88
88 See Jantzen,G. A Place of Springs: Death and the Destruction of Beauty. (Vol. 3) (Carrette, J and Joy, M. eds.) (London: Routledge, 2010) pp. 182-194.
‘For with the light man sees himself’ asserts Fox.89 He claims that ‘As the light opens and exercises thy conscience, it will … let thee see invisible things, which are clearly seen by that which is invisible in thee … That which is invisible is the light within thee, which he who is invisible has given thee a measure of…’90 For Fox the transformative process of the individual concerns the transition from ‘darkness to light’,91 from ‘the changing to the unchanging’,92 and from ‘the temporal to the eternal’.93 This is a process of growth in which ‘if you love this light it will teach you, walking up and down and lying in bed ….’ i.e. at all times.94 Individual transformation is not inevitably instantaneous or even rapid, although for the first Quakers it would seem to have been so. Accounts of living in the light and of the joyful abundance of the experience indicate that many of Fox’s earliest followers were in a state of readiness to receive his message and to know, with the certainty of experience, the value of all that Fox offered. Men such as John Audland, Edward Burrough, John Camm, William Dewsbury, Richard Farnworth, Francis Howgill, and James Nayler, among others, seem to have been on the path to what Fox was teaching. As Braithwaite says of Dewsbury he ‘had won his way for himself to the Quaker experience’.95 The immediacy 89 Fox, Works 7, Epistle CXLIX, p. 142, this statement is often interpreted as reference to seeing that one has weaknesses and is sinful. However it is also possible that it can refer to seeing that one has the potential for life in Unity. The ‘invisible’ things, by whatever name, would surely include Spirit and Consciousness as the means to know that which is of most value in oneself – Eternal Being. The latter interpretation would encompass Fox’s vision of the potential of spiritual growth and the understanding discussed in chapter 6 of this thesis.
93 Fox, ibid, p. 59, ‘... mind that which is eternal and invisible...’ and p. 60, ‘immortal and invisible things brought to light in you...’
The metaphor of ‘thin places’ might be usefully extended here to suggest a ‘thin period’ or time of readiness during which a rare spiritual enthusiasm, fuelled by Fox in relation to Quakerism, was igniting the fervour of new experience.97 Many people, inspired by the possibility that was presenting itself, recognised the call. Braithwaite’s quotation of Howgill (below) gives a clear indication of the significance of what was happening in the dawn of Quakerism. Howgill uses the analogy of one’s own home (for the body as the temple of God) and the need to acknowledge and then clean away the clutter and dirt among which will be found ‘the grain of mustard seed which the Kingdom of God is like’, so it is necessary to ‘return home to within’ and ‘here you will see your Teacher not removed into a corner, but present when you are on your beds and about your labour, convincing, instructing, leading, correcting, judging and giving peace to all that love and follow Him’.98
According to King, Fox maintains that anyone who turns to the light within:
... comes to feel the light, and in it to enjoy peace, quietness, purity, a state of permanence, and a unity and fellowship with God that is so intimate that he can realise that his body is the temple of God and Christ and the Holy Ghost for them to dwell in him and walk in him.99 For Fox the regenerative, transforming process of spiritual development is one in which ‘the divineness and sufficiency’ of the light convinces humankind leading to conversion and a new life. The result is walking away from, or forsaking, sin and toward 96 Braithwaite, Beginnings, ‘They were men, moreover, of a singular advanced religious experience, for their intense sincerity of purpose had carried them beyond the doctrines and professions which satisfied others till they felt themselves prodigals, who had spent all and were in want, and they had then been brought into the abiding bliss of the Father’s house through the eternal life which sprang up in their hearts and brought them into union with Him’ p. 94.
97 Borg, The Heart of Christianity, Chapter 8. Borg attributes the metaphor to Celtic Christianity;
‘Thin places are places where [these] two places of reality meet or intersect’, p. 155.
98 Braithwaite, ibid, p. 97. See also chapter 1 on spiritual growth and 4.2.2 on removal of the ‘veil’.
Also 2 Corinthians 3: 13–18, concerning ‘the vail’ and as a token of modesty and concealment, Genesis 24.65.
99 King, Light Within, p. 61.
The first Quakers seemed almost immediately transformed. There is an indication in Fox’s writing, however, of the need for patience and waiting which suggests that transformation was, for most people, over time.101 King claims that ‘Fox had great confidence in the moral uprightness of Friends as individual men and women, but theoretically he seems to have believed that the regenerate man grew gradually within the human being and that it is only the regenerate man that is sinless’.102 There is also indication that Fox implies an ‘if-then’ situation i.e. transformation is certain but only if mankind worships and lives in a certain way so that individual life is brought into intimacy with the divine.103 As indicated above, according to King, this is a matter of individual choice in which the individual will is pivotal.104 Nonetheless, Fox writes of the importance of grace, often in terms of God’s love. However, he ignores the Puritan distinction between the grace that was in everyone, but didn’t necessarily save them from sin and the ‘special grace given to some that does save them’.105 So in the process of personal transformation the individual is substantially changed from a life of frailty, limitation and sinfulness into a new state of life and consciousness.
It is the personal concern to grow that facilitates transfiguration and enables the individual to acknowledge the parallel nature of the mystical and the moral, which is the imperative
Figure 3 combines and juxtaposes the two previously shown figures (1 and 2). The two shapes are not intended to be separate, as though dualistically related, but rather, they are understood as contiguously connected. Thus movement between the two domains is achieved smoothly. Together with the two arrows to the right, the figure is intended to show interaction between the two sections of the figure. It thus indicates the manner in which attention moves from outwardness to inwardness and back again in Quaker worship, and in living. This results in personal transformation as porosity begins to occur between the two domains.
78 The attention of individuals participating in worship is known to settle into the Silence within.108 For Fox this is the Light of Christ, known and experienced as God.
For practitioners of other spiritual practices, it may be termed the Transcendental Reality or Eternal Being.109 In worship after a period of time (longer or shorter according to the consistency and regularity of practice) the individual’s attention moves towards the
outwardness of thinking. Thomas Kelly describes this as follows:
At first the practice of inward prayer is a process of alternation of attention between outer things and the Inner Light. Preoccupation with either brings the loss of the other. [Figures 1, 2 and 3] Yet what is sought is not alternation but simultaneity, worship undergirding every moment [Figure 4]. 110 The alternation between outwardness and Inwardness takes place both between daily living and worship, and also in the movement of the mind and heart during worship itself, as shown in Table 1. The result of this alternation is that Inwardness begins to be known in outwardness and, in due course, at all times.111 Figure 4 represents the development of porosity between Inwardness and outwardness.
108 For Fox Stillness and Silence are both considered significant in Quaker spiritual practice. It is interesting to note, by comparison, that in the Tibetan teaching of Dawa Gyaltsen, the Tibetan Bon dzogchen master of the 8th Century, Spaciousness is as important as Stillness and Silence. Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche, Awakening the Luminous Mind ( London: Hay House, Inc. 2012), chapter 1, indicates that the three doors of refuge are referred to as stillness, silence and spaciousness.
109 See Keiser’s use of terms in ‘Answering that of God’ in QTS Proceedings for 1996/1997, p. 18-46.
110 Kelly T. Testament of Devotion, p. 13. See also Appendix 1.
111 This state of consciousness, described fully in chapter 6, is a developed state of Inwardness rather than the first knowing, which occurs in worship initially but is not retained outside worship.
In time, the practitioner/worshipper begins to find that the Silence of the Inward, Spiritual Realm is becoming established, remaining in awareness even when the period of worship is over.112 This is the growth of Interiority in which the Transcendental Reality is infused into everyday life affecting all experiencing, relationships and behaviours.
2.4.2 Social concern and corporate discernment
... strive about outward things; but dwell in the love of God, for that will unite you together, and make you kind and gentle one towards another; and to seek one another’s good and welfare, and to be helpful one to another; and see that nothing be lacking among you, then all will be well.113 He was keen to foster the fellowship that he believed would give rise to communities of F/friends, who grow into the Friendship that is specifically Quaker. Communities of
Fox envisaged that a community of worshippers whose aspirations were those he preached would become a group of people who were not only friends with each other, but who lived in friendship with God – here arises the notion of Quakers as Friends, (sometimes called Friends in the Truth115) in which each person knows ‘the power of God in one another’.116 Social concern and corporate discernment were, and are, imperative to such a community. Any community, religious or other, consists of the individuals who comprise it. Therefore, in relation to Quakerism, there is considerable onus on each person to live in accordance with the principles and practices of shared faith: Fox urged, ‘everyone in your measures of the spirit of God and Christ be faithful, that in it you may increase and answer the Lord in a good life and conversation...’117 Personal growth and transformation is therefore the means by which the communities of Friends were nourished. ‘Group life of the simplest kind began inevitably and naturally from the first; indeed, it was characteristic of Fox that he won men to an acceptance of his message, not merely as individuals but most often in groups’. 118 The acceptance of Fox’s message by people in their groups thus aided the formation of a uniquely bonded fellowship, the characteristics of which were, in all ways, an expression of ‘gospel truth’.