«By CAROLE ANNE HAMBY A thesis submitted to the University of Birmingham for the degree of DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY Department of Theology and Religion ...»
This did not mean, for Quakers, adoption of the written, biblical gospel but rather a state of life in which ‘the power of God’ ordered the life of the people of the whole community. 119
114 Fox, Works 7, Epistle IV, p. 18.
115 The first name for the Society acknowledged Quakers as Friends in the Truth. See Ambler, Truth of the Heart, p. 157, relating to John 15:14-15.
116 Fox, Epistle XXXIV, Works 7, p. 42. Fox also makes several references to the importance of knowing the power, life, image, wisdom of God in Epistle XXXIII, p. 40.
117 Fox, Works 8, Epistle, CCLXXXVIII, p. 37.
Gospel order, according to Dobbs’ interpretation of Fox, has its roots in an understanding that God’s creation is a template for order.121 An important distinction arises in which doing things ‘in God’s will’ is a world away from doing things ‘in one’s own will’; the first is divinely guided, the second merely a matter of human decisionmaking.
Fox recognised the need to set up an organisation that would work in accordance with divine guidance; regular meeting for worship together with a life of fellowship as a ‘gathered people’ was the means to this.122 Quakerism:
…won its way because it brought to the simple-hearted a spiritual life, filled with sacrifice but filled also with joy of the Lord, rich in fellowship with Him and with one another, a life whose passion was obedience to the light, whose secret strength overcame all oppression, while its integrity of conduct shamed prejudice and scorn, and whose reward was continually being found in the greatest of all prizes-fuller and more abundant life.123 Out of this mode of Quaker life and its developing patterns of organisation came the Quaker models of ministry, group discernment and social responsibility. 124 In 1659
Edward Burrough said:
We are not for names, nor men, nor titles of Government, nor are we for this party nor against the other … but we are for justice and mercy and truth and peace and true freedom, that these may be exalted in our nation, and that goodness, righteousness, meekness, temperance, peace and unity with God, and with one another, that these things may abound. 125 120 See Muers, R. Testimony, pp. 151-152.
121 Dobbs, J. Authority and the Early Quakers, (Frenchay: Martin Hartog, 2006). See also Cronk.
S., Gospel Order (Pendle Hill Pamphlet No.. 297, 1991), pp. 9-13.
82 This understanding remains the foundation of Quaker Testimony as witness ‘to keep the ancient principles of truth’ and to ‘live in the power of the Lord God’. 126 In the twentieth century the Testimonies, plural, have emerged as Peace, Equality, Simplicity and Truth in living Social Responsibility, although initially Testimony, singular, denoted all of life. 127 Growth of Inwardness provides the foundation of the consequences of Inwardness, and the infusion of Inwardness in outwardness as Testimony.
Figure 5 depicts the expansion of the conscious experience as Inwardness expands into outwardness by showing the two domains as fully infused.
2.5. Unity To understand Fox’s teaching, it is often useful to juxtapose one statement with another. It is in seeing the different nuances of his meaning, by examining words in context, that profound implications become apparent. However, Fox’s repeated use of a 126 Fox, Works, 7, Epistle CCLXIII, p. 328.
127 In the twenty-first century there has been a suggestion that there should exist an Environmental testimony and much thought has been given to issues of sustainability. See Lunn, P. ‘Costing not less than everything’, Swarthmore lecture, (London: Quaker Books, 2011).
There is no doubt that ‘unity’ as reality, rather than as idea or aspiration, is significant for Fox. However, there is need to distinguish different usages of the term and, especially,
two particular interpretations. These are that ‘unity’ is:
2.5.1 Togetherness129, or ‘fellowship...in community’ 130 2.5.2 The 'hidden unity in the Eternal Being’. 131 Fox wrote, ‘All they that are in the light are in unity; for light is but one’.132 Further in the same Epistle he wrote of living ‘in love’ and ‘abiding inwardly in the light, [which] will let you see one another, and unity with one another’.133 Yet Fox indicates that there can be no ‘unity with one another being out of the power and spirit of God’. There can, however, be friendship and fellowship. Fox often uses the two terms, ‘unity’ and ‘fellowship’ where it is unclear if he intends to distinguish the two, to suggest one can lead to the other, or to indicate they are the same thing. 134 However, friendship, once having gained Quaker significance, was a friendship shared in and with God: it was Friendship (upper case F). As King indicates, it has the potential to bring a unity that exceeds human natures.135 128 Moore, Consciences, p. 82 ‘idiosyncratic use of some words’ and p. 105 ambiguity on account of ‘blur[ring]’ distinctions.
2.5.1. Unity as ‘togetherness’, or ‘fellowship in community’ In the first interpretation integrity, love and truth all get bound together in understandings of unity as friendship, which facilitates gathering together: ‘all wait in the measure of life, that with it your hearts may be knit together’.136 In his Preface to Fox’s Journal, William Penn, writing about those who rose against Fox’s teaching, says they did not consider the significance of the fact that ‘…the principle is one in all.137 And ‘though the measure of light or grace might differ, yet the nature of it was the same, and being so, they struck at the spiritual unity which a people guided by the same principle are naturally led into’.138 The spiritual unity to which Penn refers was manifest in a way of life, based on spiritual practice, organised by a growing body of church affairs which embraced ‘gospel order’.139 It is unclear to what extent, for him, Quaker fellowship and a more profound understanding of unity is seen to be related or to lead to the growth of the shared spiritual life.
Fox intends communities of worshippers who dwell in faithful lives as neighbours to uphold each other on their spiritual paths, both in worship and in everyday affairs. He
… Friends are not to meet like a company of people about town or parish business, neither in their men’s or women’s meetings, but to wait upon the Lord, and feeling his power, and spirit to lead them, and order them to his glory; that so whatsoever 136 Fox, Works 7, Epistle CXXXII, p. 129. Unity without a capital letter implies ‘Fox’s use regarding ‘Fellowship’ and also that of other theologies. Unity with an upper case will be used to refer to Unity as in this thesis as a particular development of consciousness. See also 2 Corinthians 3:1-5.
137 See concerning the Perrot Affair, Braithwaite Beginnings, p. 420-426 and Dobbs, J. Authority, on the Wilkinson Storey Controversy, p. 182. Both relate to issues of authority and what was seen to be the erosion of the significance of the leadings of the Spirit.
The practice of Inwardness is shared in meetings for worship and its consequences lived together in a life that is ordered in the Spirit: the latter reflects 1 Corinthians 14:40 ‘let all things be done decently and in order’. This degree of fellowship is intense and the description that ‘their [Quakers’] hearts were knit to one another and to the Lord in fervent
love’ is apt.141 It suggests that fellowship is rooted in faith and love. Fox explains:
… worship in the spirit and in the truth, hits all men and women; they must come to the spirit in themselves, and the truth in the inward parts;... if they be worshippers of God in the truth and the spirit... They must come to the truth in the heart, to the hidden man in the heart, to a meek and quiet spirit.142 This suggests that Friends are to be in harmony, united in their Fellowship.
This is about a unity that produces and reflects joy according to Philippians 2:1-4.
Here Paul says ‘if then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind’. The possibility of a profound sense of Unity is intimated here.
Above is a first interpretation of unity. Thus the idea of Friends ‘being in unison with’ or agreeing with each other is one way that unity is understood as having a meaningful relation to the Quaker way of worship and behaviour. Sometimes a quality of togetherness is suggested as sweetness or coolness.143 It may be referred to as attunement or meeting of minds i.e. concord as agreement.144 In this understanding the further
144 QFP, 13.09 indicates the need to come together in ‘greatest love, kindness and discipline’ as the means to such accord, especially in considering any Friend’s concern [g].
86 implication is a readiness to be open to the will of God – and to ‘let thy will be done’.145 However there may be recognition here that action might sometimes be other. Unity that is merely friendship may result from Inwardness as a natural duty of behaviour. It is not, however, Unity in Eternal Being.
2.5.2. Unity as the Oneness of Eternal Being King’s discussion of unity as affording ‘permanent security from the evils of disunity and change’ suggests more than mere friendship, which is subject to the vagaries of influence and manipulation.146 Reference to unity that is enduring and supersedes the world of change, being written in the heart, is of an entirely different order.147 In the ‘hidden unity in the Eternal Being’ there is no possibility of doing other than acting according to the will of God.148 Fox relates this state of life as reflecting ‘unity with all creation’.149 King acknowledges that in Quakerism ‘unity that is fellowship involves a new more intimate relation between the individual and God’.150 She suggests, however, that Fox’s ideas on this issue (the union that can be called Unity) are ‘shifting and blurred’.151 Nonetheless, Fox’s statement is straightforwardly expressed: ‘Mind that which is eternal, which gathers your hearts together up to the Lord, and lets you see that ye are written in one another’s hearts’.
145 QFP, 21.51.
146 Section 1.3.
147 This is a reference to the New Covenant i.e. ‘written in the heart’. There is a long history of heart references concerning spiritual life and the inner prayer. ‘The heart has been called the ‘reception room’ of the Lord’. Theophan the Recluse (in Ware, 1979) says that ‘Everyone who meets the Lord meets Him there; He has fixed no other place for meeting souls.’ See also Hamby, C. ‘When the Mind Descends to the Heart’ in Faith Initiative, 19, (2008), p. 41–45, and Hamby, C. ‘Discipleship: When the Heart is Captured’ in Faith Initiative, 18, (2007 a), p. 34. Note ‘Heart v Mind: what makes Us Human? (Malone, D.
BBC 4 Tuesday 10.7.12). Independent film-maker, David Malone, asks if we are right to see the heart as merely a brilliant pump or whether it should be allowed to reclaim something of its old place at the centre of our humanity. Continuing research into the neurons in the heart suggests a new understanding of ‘the thinking’ as well as the ‘feeling’ heart. Further research is now required.
87 The term ‘united in a single life’ (the life, which stands in the Lord God), means, for Fox, that the individual is ‘to abide in him, and to have his presence to strengthen you, so that through him you may do all things which he commands and requires of you’.152 The expression relates closely to what Fox’s use of the term unity might indicate in its deeper meaning. It includes but supersedes friendly fellowship. On many occasions Fox suggests that he is familiar with an invisible world, a world known to be eternal and unchanging, as indicated in his words: ‘mind that which is eternal, which gathers your hearts together up to the Lord’.153 King maintains that Fox ‘himself felt in a high degree this craving for the unchanging’. 154 This seems to be reference to a second interpretation of unity: it has far reaching implications – togetherness in an invisible and eternal world suggests unity that is spiritual, and inward, rather than physical, emotional, and outward.
Indeed, it is one that excludes the notion of togetherness, since togetherness requires more than one party or entity – a bringing of particulars into relation. True unity, in the sense that is of or within ‘Eternal Being’ dissolves particulars into an indivisible oneness: it is Unity of pure consciousness fundamentally unallied to, but influential upon, thinking and behaving.
Figure 5 indicates a state of life in which outwardness and Inwardness exist in a state that is continuingly united – outwardness is known in Inwardness and Inwardness is known in outwardness. This state stabilised in Interiority facilitates the fullness of Unity between individuals, not as between ‘mere human natures’ but rather in a mutually experienced state of consciousness.
A living experience of Inwardness known and felt together is the means for Friends corporately to ‘live in the Spirit’, and ‘the light’ as the light of God within. Fox used many and varied ways of urging Friends to focus their attention to the Lord: ‘stand in his will and counsel’,155 as ‘Teacher within’, ‘Mind the light and dwell in it’,156 ‘... mind the