The History of the Quakers'
Departure from Truth
It is common wisdom that "those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it." For that reason, both for the sake of individuals, and for the sake of a future outbreak of the true Church of Christ, this review is presented.
For thirty years, the early Quakers were in great unity of Spirit. But by 1672 they had grown to several hundred thousand in number. The Quakers were many groups of free individual assemblies, with little supervision more than advisories from the national leadership. In some of these loosely regulated assemblies, there were ambitious or deceived people who assumed the positions of ministers and overseers; this was probably due to an immature congregation, for there were far more assemblies than Holy Spirit appointed ministers, evangelists, and teachers to oversee them. There was a letter of the General Meeting in 1672 to all the Assemblies in England addressed to such unregenerated, unfinished ministers and overseers. At first consideration, one wonders why they were tolerated, but rooting them out of their offices by the national leadership would have violated the Quaker's fundamental principle: That every member may act in its own freedom, and every meeting in its own authority, as part of that body which Christ Jesus has set free. So the letter was written as an advisory and plea to improve. A national leadership purge of local leadership would have been a cure worse than the disease. I have heard the voice of the Lord speak to this perplexing problem, saying: "We could scarcely stand by as we watched the beauty of our church marred."
However, the risk of an unfinished leadership is that they will eventually become ambitious and want to rule completely, with no oversight or reproof — leading others into a separation and into destruction. So the next year's letter from the General Meeting was far more harsh on these unfinished leaders. As expected, the schisms resulted: the most noteworthy while Fox was still alive, being the Wilkinson/Story split covered in Fox's Journal and Sewel's History. Pretending to oppose women's meetings, the real issue was they didn't want to be censured by the Assemblies for their conduct that clearly conflicted with scripural law: covetousness, profanity, adultery, etc. This split died out soon after. All of the following splits led to the Quaker departure from the truth. But we can point to the arising of uncrucified leaders, without the Holy Spirit controlling their words and conduct, as the ultimate source of departure.
William Sewel, who knew several of the leaders of the splits, had several gems of wisdom regarding those who split off:
- But as in great communities generally are found some men who love to govern, without being fit for it.
- The common saying of these people had become, that everyone having received a measure of the Spirit of God, ought to regard only that leader, without minding any rules prescribed by others.
- But yet this is not so exceeding strange as some may think it to be; for we had on record, that even in the primitive apostolic church, there was an Alexander the coppersmith, and an Hymeneus and Philletus, who made shipwreck of the faith, and caused a rent, insomuch that it is said, their words would eat as did a canker.
The departures from the early Quakers' faith occurred from two directions of attack:
- A departure from the fundamental doctrine of harmony between Scriptures and the saving grace of the Light: that salvation results from the workings of the Light of Christ to remove sin over time from the hearts of believers who strove to silently listen and watch for the Lord's teaching grace and power; giving precedence in time to waiting in the Word and the Light vs. studying the Scriptures — but using the Scriptures for hope and to prevent being misled by imitations of the Light suggesting practices forbidden by the Scriptures. Departures occurred in both extremes: (with 50 to 100 years intervening between the flip-flops)
a. Total Dependence on the Light — doubting the Scriptures, which led to disbelief of the truths in the Scriptures. Thus the main body of Quakers totally lost sight of sin: drunkenness, covetousness, sexual immorality, greed, rage, envy, selfish ambitions, revelry, jealousy, contentions, pride, covetousness, foolishness, etc. — restricting their definition of evil to war, nuclear power, pollution, etc. Thus they became open to deceptive leadings from false voices and imitations of the Light, falling into practices and forms that were forbidden in the Scriptures, which prevented them from reaching maturity in Christ.
b. Total Dependence on the Scriptures — believing that the Scriptures were the Light, and that salvation could result from accepting the Scriptures' record of Jesus' death, blood, and resurrection; thus failing to dedicate their time to receive the teachings and changings of grace while abiding in the living Word and Light, Christ; which prevented them from reaching maturity in Christ.
In either of the errors above, both miss the necessary balance of the Light's changing grace to the heart, while using Scriptures to maintain hope (of purity, union, and the kingdom) and to avoid falling to deception in the spiritual journey.
The Holy Spirit wrote the scriptures through the enlightened minds and pens of the prophets and apostles. So, whatever the true Word and Light's leading of its followers, the Word or Light (both being Christ) will never conflict with the Scriptures. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever; the Scriptures apply to forever also. Without the Scriptures as a check, deceptions will be easily accepted and followed, preventing all from attaining the promised purity, union, and kingdom of God.
- A step-by-step inching into rules and regulations, (despite however holy they seemed ), impinged on Christian freedom, branding certain actions of their membership as evil. The Quakers made these rules, even though the Scriptures conflicted with the imposed rules, (i.e., the forbidding of alcohol, current clothing, support or association with natural children who had departed and been married by a priest, — and much later, the organized social protests that characterize the movement of today). For the sake of gospel order in the church, there will be some commands given by the Lord, to which there are no referrals in scripture; such as George Fox being commanded to have all men's hats removed before prayer. Certainly those are to be obeyed also. See Historical Letters for the early regulations. But the Lord's commands will never contradict scripture.
Early on the Society saw men arise to positions of leadership in various assemblies who had not endured on the cross to enjoy the arising of the light within them in sufficient quantity to guide their words and deeds. They were the foolish virgins who had a lamp, but it had no oil to burn and create light by which to see. They had great knowledge of the scriptures and had even enjoyed a number of revelations from the Lord, which they added to their fleshly knowledge, giving them great words to speak in their pride, leaving them content to know many truths without really knowing the Lord or the Lord really knowing them. The ambitious began to teach in leadership positions, leading others into captivity with their words not spoken from the Spirit; in doing so, they became locked into captivity themselves.
The ambitious and gregarious of the foolish virgins took over the Quaker Society, creating nothing but more foolish virgins; and the much fewer wise virgins gradually died off. The Quakers deteriorated from the true church of God to just another deficit sect, just another suburb of Babylon.
William Dewsbury, an early Quaker who dwelled in the kingdom, has an excellent writing on The Foolish Virgins and Wise Virgins, in which he details the foolish virgins within the Society. Stephen Crisp, an early Quaker who dwelled in the kingdom, often spoke and wrote extensively in appeal to those members of the Society who had not advanced to the kingdom, who were content to live in words rather than the life of God, (which life is the light of men, but it had not arisen it them). Shortly after his death, his writings quickly fell into disfavor within the Society, but many are available on this site for your edification.
Advisories and Recommendations
to avoid future deceptions and deterioration from the Truth.
- As above, maintain the Light and the Word in your heart as the source of conviction and change, using the scriptures for hope and avoidance of deception.
- All elders and ministers, before initially assuming their duties, should be submitted to the older members first for approval, and then to the body for approval.
- All elders and ministers (only, not the general membership with varying degrees of maturity), should be subject to periodically affirming their harmony with a Statement of Beliefs, such as found on this site from George Fox and Edward Burrough.
- Per the Word of the Lord within: "in any meeting there should be some uniformity of mind and purpose." It should be universally subscribed by all that their purpose in association and assembly is to seek the face of God through a faith in at least the name of Jesus Christ, to be taught by the Light (Christ) of God directly, and to share their teachings when so directed; so that all may attain purity, union with God in his Kingdom, and to be guided by Him in obedience to His will — a sincere desire for thy will be done. Any social actions would not violate scriptures' warnings, (i.e. have no political purpose, and no anti-government slant).
- If no one is sufficiently mature to speak from the spirit, all should be silent, waiting on maturity; even if no minister is available. This is the way the Quaker meetings started, many times without a word being spoken in them.
- If someone has reservations about the Scriptures, don't preach, teach, or talk about them; instead remain silent, waiting on the Lord to reveal the knowledge required when you need it. Trust your Teacher to provide you knowledge when you need it; but you must trust his judgment, not your intellectual curiosity that seeks puffed up knowledge. Remember, many of the early Quakers were shown the details and mysteries of the scriptures by Christ as they entered paradise, the Kingdom of God. Fox stated that he had little knowledge of the scriptures prior to Christ's personally instructing him after he entered the Kingdom. From the Word of the Lord within: "I will open the Bible to you." So seek the Kingdom as your highest priority; you don't need to understand every nuance of scripture to arrive at your goal. Use the scriptures for hope; and until you are being instructed by the Holy Spirit, use the scriptures for your understanding of what is sin, helping you avoid as many as possible.
- Do not make the mistake of assuming that George Fox, William Penn, Isaac Penington, James Parnell, Margaret Fox, George Whitehead, William Dewsbury, Stephen Crisp, Ambrose Rigge, Edward Burrough, and Francis Howgill were imperfect and flawed in their doctrinal understandings; or as they have been accused by later Quakers as being deluded zealots. A prominent leader of the conservative Quakers, (who pride themselves to be like the originals), said to me, "What did George Fox have that I don't have?" When I answered, "perfection," this person said, "don't tell me that, even Peter denied Christ three times." In a state of shock, I said, "but that was before he had received the power of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost." The person replied, "Oh, does that make a difference?"
In a warning letter Stephen Crisp, an early Quaker giant, refers to spiritually immature Quakers, challenging and deriding the elders, who had been translated into the Kingdom of Heaven and who spoke the word of the Lord, in the presence of God, as they were prompted by the Spirit of God, (this is the same as a supposed Christian contemptuously addressing the Apostle Paul). But because love never boasts, the Lord's greatest servants only reason, plead, and warn. One would think, as the great men of God revealed the mysteries of the scriptures and the Kingdom, that the younger would have been humble and respectful, deferring to their wisdom and greater measure of Christ.
Stephen Crisp describes exactly how this deception came about in another warning letter:
(He addresses those content with having the name of a Quaker, attending silent meetings, and a long membership without ever experiencing the Kingdom). Others feel his refreshing presence, which either fills them with joy and comfort, or else opens their understandings in the light to a certain knowledge of, and testimony against, such things as yet stand in the way, and hinder the joy of his salvation from them. But you, who sit in a dry formality without an inward travail upon your spirit, you know neither of these things, but go on in the dark, not knowing where you go. So in time, since you are such a stranger to the powerful working of truth in yourself, it grows until you question whether others actually do witness any such powerful workings. For everything that is not experienced is liable to question; as he that has never seen does not know what seeing is, and he that has never smelled anything does not know not what smelling is. So he, who through long continuance in this formal manner of going to meetings, continues still unacquainted with the power, will at last be easily made to question whether there is actually such a power or not.
Pride is blind; so we have 300 years of prideful, immature Quakers, in doubt of the existence of a glorious paradise or Kingdom, concluding that George Fox, George Whitehead, Francis Howgill, Margaret Fox, etc., were deluded zealots — just like many modern Protestants incorrectly look upon the Apostle Paul as an extremist or at least a very uptight, stuffy person.
The early Quaker fathers were in perfect harmony with the Bible; with the teachings of Jesus, with Peter, Paul, John, etc. They had the same Holy Spirit controlling their words and actions. Until you have the Holy Spirit controlling your every word and action, you are not in the same measure of Spirit they were; be humble enough to admit that someone else may have more spiritual maturity than you. Study their writings. Everything you need for understanding of the true path is in their writings.
To discount the early Quaker writings is the great error and is in itself the major source of the Quaker Departure from Truth. In a prophecy from the Lord by Mary Howgill, the Lord said: "they shall leave a more clear and heavenly declaration upon record, than my servants heretofore have done, and it shall stand to ages, and in generations to come, that they may see how God manifested himself unto his people in a day of great suffering".
- Beware that one of Satan's greatest weapons against any believer — is temptation to preach or teach before being specifically perfected, restored, and authorized by Christ; with the Holy Spirit telling that person exactly what to do and when to do it — and being able to speak with words received from the Holy Spirit, not words that come from the carnal mind, which is enmity against God. If you preach from the carnal mind, your teachings and preachings are not only ineffective, they are in error and therefore bring condemnation upon yourself, the least of which is your own spiritual retardation.
The New Foundation Fellowship, a Quaker group closely allied with the Conservative Quaker Movement, campaigns for the early Quaker's message, but unfortunately without the authority, guidance, and words supplied before spoken from the Lord. The NFF's founder, Lewis Benson, after dedicating himself to bringing Fox's teachings back into the mainstream Quaker movement, left this foundation to finance the continuation of his efforts by others after his death. However Benson read his sermons for many years, and he limited his work to reforming Quakers. Now ask yourself: if he were a true minister of God, would he be reading his sermons, and would God only send him to speak to Quakers? Unfortunately he was like hundreds of thousands of ministers in Christendom: not completely taught by the Lord's voice and light, not perfected by the Lord, not gifted with an authorized ministry, not sent by the Lord, and not speaking words from the Spirit of the Lord; rather speaking, (even reading), from their carnal minds, the nature of death, and preaching their vain opinion from the imagination of their evil hearts. Consider the fate of those who are not perfected, guided, and sent by the Lord:
I will bring an everlasting reproach upon you, and a perpetual shame, which shall not be forgotten. J
- The early Quakers were strongly counseled by Fox to never make any change in their proceedings that the elder members did not agree with. Christ's church is not a democracy, to which the later day Quakers devolved. The younger was supposed to submit to the elder, (in spiritual years), who should obviously exhibit more spiritual maturity. They understood that different people had different measures of the Spirit of Christ, not everyone was equal.
Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders, [but only if they show an obvious spiritual maturity to be qualified as an elder; Peter was writing to groups that had genuine bona fide spiritual elders]. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.
Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time. 1 Peter 5:5-6.
As Fox exhibited, he did not give orders to others, but rather was the source for the Lord to guide in the establishing of a governmental structure in the church, with accompanying procedures and policies; Fox then revealed the guidance which mature others would immediately acknowledge as wise and worthy policy. There is only one King, and that is Christ for all; but among his subjects, not all have the same gifts, authority, and responsibility.
William Caton, a young Quaker minister, was lamenting over his small stature in Christ, compared to some senior Quaker worthies he had observed, when the Lord gave him this classic understanding:
"The Lord showed me how they that had much, had nothing left over; and they that had little, had no lack — just like it was with the Israelites of old. For the brethren who were wise and eminent, who had received much from the Lord, notice there was that much more required of them; so that of all they had, they had nothing over, but what they were to employ in the work and service of God."
Another way to look at this different measures of Christ is: whatever body and brain we have, whatever knowledge we have of God, whatever wisdom we have — all was given to us by our creator — and it is his to employ to his service as he sees fit. So, there is nothing to take pride in, and there is nothing to feel deficient in, for we are all only tools in the hand of God to fit and use as he best knows. The joy is to be obedient to his perfect will, whatever his choosing for us — it is perfect, for it comes from the perfect mind, of perfect wisdom, and perfect love. And when we are in the unity of the Spirit, there is no envy, there is no feeling of superiority or inferiority; for we are all one, hearts knit together in love, one Spirit, one Body of Christ, one mouth. Of the same body, how can the arm resent the eye, or the hand envy the foot?
- Recognize, the only Unity of the Spirit that can exist, is when the Holy Spirit is in control of each member who has decision making authority. This requires spiritual maturity: to purity, to death on the cross of such members — before the Holy Spirit and Christ can take up the throne of control, away from the selfish mind and spirit that must die. Without such maturity, there can be no unity. This is why discipline was originally left with only mature members, qualified by the senior members as having sufficient maturity to be controlled and governed by the Holy Spirit. Without this Unity, at least in the governing membership, the body is like children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine.
Until we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God,
unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ:
That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine,
by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: Eph 13-15
- Beware of those who pose questions of minor importance. But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes, 2 Tim 2:23. These immature people are ambitious and seek controversy, which draws some other immature members away with them and their new doctrines. They should be answered: when you have a need to know, the Lord will reveal it to you. They should be afterwards reproved in private for asking immaterial questions that don't relate to the process of attaining maturity in Christ, which is by daily sitting in humble silence as you wait on the Lord: listening, watching, hearing, and obeying His commands, which results in growing strength and understanding. See Stephen Crisp's letter on this subject for more information on how this is the tool of the enemy: to create some immaterial controversy, until the weighty matter they should have minded, namely how to be kept in the love of God, and in the heavenly unity, was in many lost and forgotten.
- However long you have believed, do not let your ambition and pride defeat you by quarreling and disputing. Be patient and wait for Christ to teach you, change you, and give you understanding. If you are clearly told by the Holy Spirit, (not by feeling, opinion, speculation, a burden, a call, a door opening, an emotion), to specifically state something, by all means do it — and only it, and then return to silence. However, based on the advice of Edward Burrough, (click to read), a giant in the early Quakers, we should do nothing for the Lord but repent until we can distinguish between the voice of the Lord and the voice of the enemy; and William Penn wrote, (click to read),"Though it is the duty of all to walk in the light, and to wait for it, that by it they may be instructed in the way of life and salvation, yet it is they only who are actually led* by it, [the light] that can rightly discern between the false spirits and the true."
* By way of review: to be guided or led by the light, the light must first arise in your heart like a magnificent star, so that you are shown everything to do and told everything to say; the unmistakable arising of the light comes from faith in the voice.
- Any action in your flesh to correct the evils of the world, however holy the motives seem to you; unless you have been specifically directed as above, such action will only retard or halt your spiritual progress -- whatever the purpose: slavery, women's rights, protecting the environment, prevention of cruelty to animals, anti-drug campaigns, alcohol abuse, child abuse, globalization, abortion, war, etc.
- Correction of any member should always be done with great patience and love, using Scripture whenever possible to support the position. Punitive restrictions should only be applied when the person consistently refuses correction and is likely to repeat the violation, which would damage the group's reputation or conformance to the same issue.
However, in attempting to have patience to bring the lost sheep back into the fold, do not give those in error the opportunity to deceive more of the flock in following them to perdition. Warn them twice, and if they do not acknowledge their mistake and repent, quickly expel them; allowing them to return, when and if, they acknowledge their error. In the name of love, tolerance, non-judgmentalness, and tenderness, splits in membership occurred because the perpetrators of controversy were permitted to continue far too long, pulling thousands out of the society and into darkness.
- Rules should never violate Christian Freedom of members, particularly in regard to food, drink, many family matters, and personal preferences, including dress and clothing. The reasoning for rules should be clearly and logically stated, available for all to review and understand. As the Word of the Lord within said: "Rules create a legalistic society, not a free society." Certainly we continue to obey the moral laws based on love, but we avoid rules. Certainly we cannot support Babylon. Certainly we must walk according to our profession. But let me give you an example that would be problematic: I don't own a gun, but I know many people who do. If we decide guns are evil, (without any Scriptural restriction on weapons), then we may make a rule that anyone who owns a gun cannot be in our group — yet what we are saying is: we don't trust Christ to decide when and if necessary for Him to convince and command individual members to give guns up. Or, how about TV sets? How about the length of women's dresses? Can we trust Christ to decide if and when necessary, and then to convict each individual member? Rules destroy the whole concept of individual conscience and Christian Freedom.
For the sake of gospel order in the church, there will be some commands given by the Lord, to which there are no referrals in scripture; such as George Fox being commanded to have all men's hats removed before prayer. Certainly those are to be obeyed also. Believe it or not, the practice of removing the hat in prayer was the source of the first split in the Quaker movement: John Perrot was the leader screaming that to remove the hat in prayer was a violation of conscience; several prominent Quakers followed him in this split, which Fox and several others successfully defeated with patient reasoning through the counsel of the Spirit. See Fox's letter for full understanding.
- In regard to the frequency of seeking to hear the Lord, as William Penn says:
You must seek aright, with your whole heart, as men that seek for their lives, yes, for their eternal lives: diligently, humbly, patiently, as those that can taste no pleasure, comfort, or satisfaction in anything else, unless you find Him whom your souls want, and desire to know and love above all. Oh! It is a labor, a spiritual labor! Let the carnal evil world think and say as it will. And through this path you must walk to the city of God, which has eternal foundations, if you ever will arrive there.
One meeting a week ( 3-4 hours per meeting on First Day was common) is not "seeking with your whole heart." You must seek at home too, daily. This time must increase as the Lord draws you away from the love of the world. Early Quakers also met one or two nights per week to wait on the Lord together.
- Receiving some touch with the Light is not the end result; it is only the beginning. Along with discounting the writings of Fox, Penington, Dewsbury, Penn, Howgill, etc., the Quakers in the 19th Century seemed to think that since they had experiences with the Light, they were equal to the early Quaker giants — and therefore their opinion was just as important as Fox's or Penington's. But what they failed to accept was the requirement for death of self on the cross as necessary for themselves, their minds necessarily being destroyed by the Light, and the Holy Spirit alone directing all their thoughts, prayers, actions, writings, and speakings; they rejected these prerequisites to salvation and authority to speak for God, thereby sealing the faith's departure from the Truth. As kingdom-dwelling Isaac Penington so well stated:
That the Lord God is able perfectly to redeem from sin in this life; that he can cast out the strong man, cleanse the house, and make it fit for himself to dwell in that he can finish transgression and sin in the heart, and bring in everlasting righteousness; that he can tread down Satan under the feet of his saints, and make them more than conquerors over him; this, they confess, they steadily believe. However, everyone that is turned to the light of the Spirit of Christ in his heart, who is presently advanced to this state, [this] they never held forth; but that the way is long, the travel hard, the enemies and difficulties many, and that there is need of much faith, hope, patience, repentance, watchfulness against temptations, etc, before the life in them arrives at such a pitch. Yet, for all this, said Christ to his disciples, 'Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect;' directing them to aim at such a thing and the apostle said, 'Let us go on unto perfection;’ and Christ gave a ministry ‘for the perfecting of the saints:' and they do not doubt but that he that begins the work, can perfect it even in this life, and so deliver them out of the hands of sin, Satan, and all their spiritual enemies, as that they may serve God without fear of them any more, in holiness and righteousness before him all the days of their lives.
And as kingdom-dwelling William Dewsbury wrote:
You must be slain to your pride, and
haughtiness, and the corruption of your own will,
and all selfishness, you must have God to burn
it up in you.
The Holy Spirit will destroy, and
burn up nothing in you,
but that which will bring
an eternal fire upon your soul.
The body of sin is a loadstone to draw you
from the life of God, and from glorying in the
cross of Christ:
this is flesh and blood, and flesh
and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.
For the Lord's sake, for your soul's sake, and for
the sake of your eternal happiness,
do not put off
this work, but pursue it, and it will be perfected.
See how Christ is revealed in you by the Holy
Ghost, and with fire.
God will redeem you by
the Spirit of judgment and burning: it is not
ranging abroad in your minds,
but you must "know
Christ is in you except you be reprobates:"
has set your eyes and hearts upon himself, and
made you to water your couch with your tears;
he has broken your sleep, so as you have cried
"I shall be damned, and never come to salvation;" (this will be your cry, it was once my cry;)
O let not your eyes slumber, nor your eyelids take
any rest, until you are sure the Lord is your God.
if you find these qualifications, your are on your
otherwise you will be like a deceitful bow,
and never abide in judgment;
if you reject the
counsel of God against yourselves, and refuse to
be crucified with Christ,
and to be baptized with his baptism, (of fire into his death), you will never have life;
but only by his
baptism, and through the heavenly operation of
if you have faith in Christ's name, you
shall be married to him in everlasting righteousness;
salvation shall be brought to us, and eternal
life be bestowed upon us;
even that life which is
hidden with Christ in God,
he will give to every poor
mournful soul that submits to his blessed will,
and believes in the Lord Jesus Christ.
This is not
a faith of our own making, nor a garment of our
own embroidery, but that which the Lord has
given to us.
Oh happy man or woman, that obtains this gift of God!
Oh, who will not lose
their lives for this everlasting life?
Who will not
die for this eternal life?
Now, the matter lies in
the death of your own wills;
when you have done
the will of God, then — watch that your own wills
and that your cursed self takes not the
jewels of God, and his bracelets and ornaments,
and bestows them upon self, to paint and deck the cursed self;
and take not the members of Christ,
and make them the members of an harlot.
are dead to your own wills, you are risen with
Christ, and shall receive a resurrection to eternal
Crucify self, and set the world at nothing, and
trample upon it,
and all the things of it, and count
them as dross and dung in comparison of Christ,
whom the Father has revealed to be our life, in
the days of our sorrow and mourning,
in the day
of our calamity, in the day when we cried, 'Our
hope is lost!'
Thus it has been with the holiest people on
it is not by works of righteousness of your
own that you can be saved;
Christ comes to
cut all these down, that you may be engrafted
into him, and justified by his grace.
Do not make
this a matter of talk, and say, I have heard this and
but look into your own hearts, and see what
heavenly workings are there.
What is there that is of the
power of the Lord Jesus,
that has made you to
loathe this world, and the inordinate love of the
that you may enjoy all these things as
if you enjoyed them not.
We cannot, when we
are slain and crucified to this world, but say,
life is in Christ,’ when we come to ascribe nothing
to ourselves, and all to Christ.
Here is a blessed
harmony, broken hearts, melted spirits, and yet
poor creatures, that were mourning,
and sighing, and crying before the Lord in retired
and yet rejoicing in Christ Jesus, 'I am
risen with Christ;'
I said, 'My hope is cut off, I
will lie down in your will, O God;
do what you
will with me,
it is in your sovereign pleasure and
free gift, whether you give me life or deny it to
There must be a resignation of ourselves to
the will of God.
It was so with the Lord Jesus
and it is so with every true saint of God.
must be humbled as little children, before the
judgment is taken away,
and the loving kindness
of God sealed upon your souls.
If you seek this
work of God, you will find it;
if you seek it upon
your beds, in all your labors and concernments,
in all your stations and relations;
if you press
after the new birth, you must use this world as if
you used it not,
and live a married life as if you
for the fashion of this world
passes away. This is not high notions, (lofty imaginings).
Summary of the Major Departures
We have a significant history of the Quaker faith available to assist the understanding of how the departure from Truth took place. Most of the information in this section has been taken from Samuel M. Janney's, History of the Religious Society of Friends, Volumes 3 and 4, published in 1867. Janney compiled the records of many documents and journals to present this history, the citations of several having been deleted for simplicity of reading. In addition to labeled comments, words enclosed in [brackets] are additions to Janney's text. Some of Janney's commentary text has been omitted, but none which relate the facts of the events described.
(The below does not include the Wilkinson split that occurred while Fox was alive, which is covered in Fox's Journal; the split disputed the Society's authority to discipline those members whose conduct clearly conflicted with the Scriptures and Christian standards. Many were returned to the main body by sound and loving reasoning; the remainder withered away quickly. Stephen Crisp, and eminent Quaker minister, worked hard to heal several schisms in his lifetime; and he has an excellent letter on this site, which details the ways the enemy of our souls and the true church works to block us from the Kingdom and to destroy the true church.)
— The George Keith Split -1691
In America, George Keith led a group of 15 meetings to a split, claiming the Light was not sufficient for salvation; maintaining that a belief in the scriptures was necessary and all that was needed to attain salvation, including righteousness. Thus Keith was advocating the anti-Quaker, but traditional Protestant, instant saved by grace belief. Keith went on to become an Episcopalian minister, who tried to seduce his followers into the Episcopal sect. They had made faith in the Bible's record as the formula for salvation. Most of his followers became Baptists.
— Rules 1700-1800
Despite the multiple warnings of Margaret Fox in 1698/1700, the Irish, English, and American Quakers had established an unwritten conformity of dress required of their members; as Margaret Fox warned them, they entered spiritual death, believing that dress contributed to their righteousness, thus slipping into a form of the original Quaker denial of superfluous ribbons, solid gold braiding, and dysfunctional gingerbread on clothing. In 1752, from Amsterdam, Samuel Neale wrote to Richard Shackleton regarding the Quakers in Holland, "there is no conformity of dress in the professors here, which is peculiar to the simplicity of the gospel; I hope the labor bestowed on them, as it comes from the fountain of all good, will so operate with the gift in them, as to bring them to a sense of their error." Unfortunately the supposed error of the Dutch was the log in the eye of the entire English-speaking Quaker movement.
Foreshadowing the widespread American Temperance Movement of the 19th Century, headquartered in the Quaker City, Philadelphia, the Society's Annual Meetings, in a series of small, innocent steps, finally took the plunge headlong into forbidding drink in the late 1700's; they made a rule against Quakers' use of spirituous drink as a beverage. This was in direct conflict to the Scripture's command: Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days,
— The Irish Split -1794
In Ireland there had occurred a widespread belief, (and America), that the Bible was wrong. Obsessed with their own anti-war beliefs, they became convinced that Moses had lied about God ordering the Jews to wage war on the heathen within the promise land; being absolutely sure that their God could never have requested such an evil act as war. They went on to reject, or at least question, the virgin birth, miracles, and resurrection of Jesus. When ministers or elders preaching such doctrine were asked to discontinue preaching, they resigned and were followed by many sympathizers. At the same time, there was widespread resignations when discipline occurred in Belfast for: 1) witnessing a marriage that had not been submitted for review and approval, and 2) for support or association with natural children who had been married by a priest.
— The Gurney Apostasy — 1825
Joseph John Gurney had been educated
under the care of clergymen of
the Episcopal Church and many of his intimate
friends were rectors and bishops, members of
parliament, and peers of the realm. Thus while enjoying the form of silent worship, and saying his thee's and thou's, he embraced and promulgated the same doctrine for which Keith had been expelled a century earlier — a doctrine that was exactly what so many early Quakers had died opposing. He and his friends had obtained total control of the Quaker hierarchy around 1825. They embraced instant salvation by belief in Christ, infants guilty of sin, and the Trinity, (as three distinct persons, with no scriptural backup, instead of one spirit with three witnesses in heaven, which are One. ). For the British Quaker Society to accept such people in leadership, and to concur with their doctrines, only points to the great majority of the Quakers were indifferent or without divine guidance, knowledge of their Society's basic beliefs, or maturity to recognize the total antithesis of their Society's fundamental beliefs of the previous 150 years.
The Gurney apostasy was the cause of the next two separations, both of which occurred in the secessionists' attempts to preserve the original Quaker faith.
— The Hicksite Separation in America — 1827
Elias Hicks, the American Quaker minister, had been schooled by the Light; he had some serious doctrinal misunderstandings, which although relatively minor compared to the Gurney positions, left him open to attack and charges of heresy.
The British Gurney Quakers sent several visiting ministers to America. When they, or their adherents, heard or read of Hicks' doctrinal errors, they attacked full bore. Since the attackers' doctrinal positions were even less sound than Hicks, they were easily exposed in the ensuing discussion or exchange of documentation. This led to a widening gulf of doctrinal differences between those loyal to the Episcopalian doctrines of Gurney vs. Hicks' closer-to-traditional Quaker doctrines, however flawed with errors. They also reacted to the virulent attack on Hicks. This gulf became so disputed and bitter that a serious separation occurred, with an estimated 50,000 of the American Quakers following Hicks to establish a separate Society, leaving 20,000 Gurney followers. So serious was the separation that the civil courts had to divide the property of the Society.
— The Wilburite Separation — 1845
John Wilbur led a group of 500 New England Quakers in a split from the Gurney led Society, mostly for the same reason as the Hicksite Separation above — the belief it was the Light's necessary reform of the heart to attain salvation, rather than the Gurney Quakers belief in instant salvation due to belief in Jesus. There were further separations, in greater numbers, from New York, Ohio, and Indiana. This group, known as the Wilburites, strove to maintain the Quaker faith as it had been originally discovered by their founders. They later merged with the Conservative Quaker movement.
The Keithian Split in America, 1691
(Claiming the Light is not sufficient for salvation)
George Keith was an American Quaker, who had emigrated from England. He had been a partner of Robert Barclay in his collegiate debates regarding the doctrines of the Quakers at the University of Aberdeen. While in England, he had ministered in Holland with George Fox and William Penn. In America, he became a school teacher. Soon after George Keith
had relinquished his school, he traveled in New England,
visiting meetings and holding disputes with
other religious professors. Being exceedingly addicted
to argument, and having engaged in speculations on
theological questions of no practical importance, he
sought controversy, and is said to have indulged this
propensity in a very unbecoming manner.
On his return to Philadelphia, he soon began to
manifest in his deportment some symptoms of a dissatisfied
and aspiring mind, finding fault with his
brethren in religious profession, urging new regulations
in the Society, and complaining that there was
too great a slackness in the administration of the
discipline. His proposals not being acceded to in the
manner he expected, he became still more vehement,
charging some ministers, generally esteemed, with
preaching false doctrines. Being present at a meeting where William Stockdale
and Thomas Fitzwater spoke as ministers, he
charged them with preaching false doctrine, because
"they set forth the light of Christ to be sufficient to
salvation," and he declared to Thomas Fitzwater in
the presence of several Friends, that he himself did
not believe the light was sufficient "without something else."
Much later Keith admitted his real views, [about something else] which were identical to the traditional Roman and Protestant doctrines of original sin, the Trinity, and
Site Editor's Comments: The differences being:
There can be no doubt that Keith had forsaken the
great fundamental principle of the Society of Friends:
the universality of the light of Christ or divine grace,
and its sufficiency, if obeyed, to effect the salvation, [while testing the commands received against the prohibitions of the Scriptures].
Another complaint, made by Keith against the
Quarterly and Monthly meetings, was, that they
refused to sanction the book called The Christian
Faith of the People of God called Quakers, in Rhode
Island, and the printing of it by William Bradford
of Philadelphia, which had been sanctioned by the
adjourned meeting at the school-house. In Keith's
book, called The Plea of the Innocent, he asserts that hundreds among Friends see the necessity for a
confession of Faith, [a creed]. He also states that he knew of
none given forth by the body of Friends, and challenges
the production of it, if there is one, concerning all necessary things. He admits that particular accounts
had been given forth by particular Friends, but none
by the body of Friends or any Yearly Meeting, except
the Rhode Island sheet, which he says, "Friends here
Site Editor's Comment: With seemingly minor points of difference, Keith, in his pride and ambition, wormed his dissension into the hearts of the simple, unsuspecting believers. These minor points, (a creed with the need to believe in the scripture's miracles), were then gradually expanded to be exactly the false faith and false hope that the original Quakers opposed and denounced.
subsequent meeting, Keith openly avowed the doctrines
he had been charged with, and which he had
before endeavored to conceal. Thomas Lloyd told
him, on behalf of himself and others whom Keith had
accused, that they [the accused mainstream Quakers] believed all things written in the
Scriptures concerning our Saviour's birth, death and
resurrection, to which Keith hastily replied, "But is it
absolutely and indispensably necessary to all and
everyone of mankind to believe it? For if you do not so believe, I will not own you as a Christian,
though you may be a devout heathen." At another meeting he called Pennsylvania's then Quaker governor, Thomas Lloyd an
impudent man and a pitiful governor, asking him
why he "did not send him to jail," telling him his back
had long itched to be whipped, and that he would print
and expose them all over Europe.
Keith's railing accusations against individuals and
meetings continued to increase in virulence, until at
length he charged a meeting of ministers with having
come together to cloak heresies and deceit, and that
there were more damnable heresies and doctrines
of devils among the Quakers than among any other
profession of Protestants. This being minuted and
read to him, he did not disavow it; and he told the
committee appointed to lay before him the injury he
was doing the cause of Truth, that "he trampled
upon the judgment of the meeting as dirt."
Separate meetings were set up by Keith and his
adherents at Philadelphia, Burlington, Neshaminy,
and other places, in which they assumed the name
of "Christian Quakers and Friends."
It took some time, with several attempts to bring the lost sheep back into the fold; but the Philadelphia Ministers' Meeting of twenty-eight Quaker Ministers condemned his actions, followed by the Monthly Meeting and Quarterly Meeting finally censuring Keith. Thomas Ellwood, from Britain, sent a detailed letter to Keith, plainly stating his errors with an appeal to reason, but Keith ignored it. When he appealed to the Yearly Meeting, with outrageous conduct, they also finally censured him in 1692.
He issued several writings, condemning the twenty-eight Quaker Ministers who had initially ruled against him. The papers were widely read by the Quakers and had a considerable influence
upon many Friends, with a wide schism resulting. "Father and son, husband and wife, friends and relations,
that had usually worshipped together, though
still professors of the same faith in the main, were
now seen going to different places of worship."
Within a few months after the disownment of
George Keith, his adherents had grown to be a considerable
people as to numbers. Several of them
had been well approved [previously by the main body of Quakers] as ministers, which contributed
to strengthen the hands of the dissidents. They
held meetings for worship at stated times, in Philadelphia,
Burlington, and other places, numbering in
all about fifteen meetings. "In Burlington they
built a meeting-house, and in Philadelphia they set
up a meeting for discipline. George Keith, George
Hutchinson, Thomas Budd, and others, officiated as
ministers among them." They adopted a creed,
called themselves Christian Quakers, and issued a
testimony against the main body of the Society of
Friends, as being unsound in the Faith.
By this time, Keith was so strong in membership of the seduced, that in 1694 he decided to appeal the decision against him to England, which had no authority over the American Societies, other than being a weighty advisory.
Sadly, the England Meeting criticized both sides in the dispute, while definitively ruling against the appeal and against Keith, (click to see the ruling).
Site Editor's Comment: But their attempt to resolve the issue by slapping the hands of both parties only prolonged the dispute, this time with Keith staying in London to recruit from the English assemblies to add to his flock of seduced sheep. This finally forced the next Annual Meeting to disassociate with him.
The editor of Thomas Ellwood's autobiography, Joesph Weyth, states that Ellwood had to then rebut against Keith's slanderous writings in England for almost ten years. Keith wrote several books critical of the Quakers, and Ellwood responded to them all. So Keith was a major thorn in the side of the Society in both America and Britain. With the benefit of hindsight, we can see that the Annual Meeting should have firmly denied Keith as a Quaker immediately, rather than giving him another year to battle, while retaining his credible label of Quaker.
George Keith, having ingratiated himself with the
English clergy, was, in the year 1700, ordained a
priest in the Episcopal Church. About two years
after his ordination, he went to America as a missionary
in the service of, "The Society for Propagating
the Gospel in Foreign Parts." His professed object
was to "gather Quakers from Quakerism to the mother church." During this tour he met with John
Richardson and Samuel Bownas, ministering Friends
from England, both of whom he challenged to meet. After their meeting in New York, he then proceeded to severely prosecute Bownas for making statements critical of the Church of England, which resulted in Bownas' lengthy imprisonment.
A few of the adherents of George Keith in Pennsylvania
and New Jersey followed him to the Episcopal
church. Some returned and became reconciled to
the Society of Friends; but many continued in
the Separation. "These, by resigning themselves
as they said to the guidance of Scripture, began to
find water in the commission, Matt. 28:19; bread
and wine in the command, Mat 26:26, 30; community
of goods, love-feasts, kiss of charity, right
hand of fellowship, anointing the sick for recovery,
and washing the disciples' feet, in other texts." The
Keithian Quakers ended in a kind of transformation
into Keithian Baptists. They were called Quaker
Baptists, because they still retained the language,
[thee and thou] dress [1680 style] and manners of Quakers, [straining gnats, while swallowing camels]. But they ended in
another kind of transformation, into Seventh-day
Baptists, though several became First-day
Baptists and members of other societies. Such was the end of
the sect which assumed the name of Christian
Quakers. On the return of George Keith to England
he was inducted into the rectory of Elbarton, where he
officiated as a priest of the Established Church. His
income was good, but he was embroiled in angry
disputes with his parishioners, and evinced an unusual
degree of clerical rapacity, and descended to great
meanness in exacting his tenths [tithes] from the most indigent,
and on produce [goods] too of the most insignificant
description. He remarked, shortly before his death,
which took place in 1714, that" He did believe if God had taken him out of the world when he went
among the Quakers and in that profession, it had
been well with him."
Site Editor's Comment: In America, there were insufficiently mature members to prevent Keith from becoming a self-appointed minister. If there was system of approval or examination; it failed to reign in George Keith. Even proposed marriage was first submitted to weighty Friends, and then to the Assembly, before being allowed by the Society. In the name of tolerance, Keith was allowed to progress far beyond the point that he should have been censured and expelled from the Society. As William Penn said: "Avoid discontented persons, unless to inform or reprove them. Abhor divisiveness, the sin of fallen angels, and the worst sin of fallen men." For certain, the greatest failure in all of Christianity is for the unfinished, unperfected, unauthorized-by-Christ person, in their pride and ambition to presume they are worthy of preaching. Running ahead of your guide, premature preaching and teaching, being one of Satan's biggest temptations offered, assures such a person's own destruction as well as the destruction of any who listen to them. From To Ministers, Teachers, and Preachers:
The teacher is Christ. You are a blind pupil. If the pupil starts teaching before the teacher has authorized him, then the blind pupil thinks he can see and is superior to the teacher. . You must wait for the teacher to pronounce you ready to teach; or with still more training, ready to preach, and ready to substitute for him. You must wait until you are told what to do and when to do it. If you are teaching or preaching now, from where does your authority come? You say a college or university, or your religious organization? From where does their authority come? Jesus said you must be set to rights, (as in authorized to teach or preach by Jesus himself), restored, (to the divine image of God as was Adam before the fall) readjusted, and perfected. . Otherwise, you are claiming superiority to HIM by teaching without HIS explicit authority and HIS personal training, from HIM to you; without it, by teaching or preaching, Jesus says you are estimating yourself, a pupil, to be superior to Him,* THE teacher. And this authorization of being set to rights from Christ does not come by feeling, doors opening, desires on your part, or your opinion — it has to come after perfection and from spoken words from Christ directly to you, and heard by you, that specifically tell you what to do and when to do it. Such authorization comes from him directly and specifically; you hear him say: you are now a teacher, or: preach repentance with remission of sins. Until your mind is renewed by repentance to purity with God's changing grace, your preachings and teachings come from the carnal mind, and the carnal mind is enmity against God. Until your mind has been destroyed and replaced by the mind of Christ, your words are without life, and speak from the nature of death. You can be a great public speaker receiving the praise of men, but so did the false prophets of old. Luke 6:26. For more on this subject, see Fox Ministers, Teachers, and Preachers.
*Jesus only spoke, judged, and did as he was specifically ordered to by God; he did nothing by his own decision. If you are speaking and/or working for God without being specifically ordered in each word and action, you are essentially claiming that your own words and deeds are superior to what Jesus' might have been if he had made his own decisions about what to say and do.
Even Jesus did not judge, speak, or act without the Spirit's specific prompting:
By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear,
whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak.
the Son is able to do nothing of Himself (of His own accord);
but He [the son] is able to do only what He sees the Father doing,
To witness, preach, or teach without the Holy Spirit's specific promptings, is to estimate yourself above Jesus.
Until you are purified with the Spirit speaking through you, your witnessing, teaching, and preaching
reach the holy part of each person, and your growth will be retarded or stopped. (Teaching is why people can't hear, reach purity, and enter the Kingdom; they are in spiritual captivity because they are leading others into spiritual captivity by teaching errors.)
From George Fox's Letter #83:
And friends, in all places, where any go abroad, as they pass by examine
where they are going, and what are their intentions?
And if they cannot give a good account, exhort them to return back,
and abide faithful in their places until they see their way made clear.
While a creed is certainly unadvisable for the Society as a whole, recognizing that many unfinished persons may object to conforming to beliefs they do not understand or have certainty of; an insisted, periodic statement of agreement to a creed, (such as the Statement of Beliefs of Fox and Burrough), among elders and ministers would be a significant deterrent to error. And like those seeking marriage, the intent of a person to newly assume the office of minister, elder, or teacher could be subject to a meeting's seeking the guidance of the Lord, before authorization is given.
The Evolution of Opposition to Alcohol
Site Editor's Comment: George Fox never spoke against alcohol; only against drunkenness and against pub owners serving their patrons too much alcohol, (drunkenness again). In his Journal he makes several references to his use of wine and beer for food in prison, and when he was sick, it being the only thing he could keep down. He spoke of using alcohol for health. To tell someone not to use alcohol would be criticizing someone on meat or drink, a clear violation of Christian freedom: Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days, Unfortunately, with good intentions, this changed, particularly in America — resulting not only of loss of individual freedom, but slipping into a form of religion with rules about drink. Below is the history of the step, by step change:
Among the many subjects of moral improvement
that claimed the attention of Friends, in which they
proved to be the pioneers of reformation, their testimony
against the use of spirituous liquors as a beverage
is worthy of notice. Their consideration of the
subject was first induced by observing the ruinous
effects that resulted from selling rum to the Indians,
and, in the year 1685, being three years after the
landing of Penn, the Yearly Meeting for Pennsylvania
and New Jersey adopted the following minute:-
"This meeting does unanimously agree and give
as their judgment, that it is not consistent with the
honor of Truth, for any that make profession
thereof, to sell rum or any strong liquors to the Indians,
because they use them not to moderation, but
to excess and drunkenness." In 1686 and 1687 the advice was reiterated, and in
the latter year the following clause was added: "And
for the more effectually preventing this evil practice,
we advise that this our testimony may be entered in
every monthly-meeting book, and every Friend belonging
to the said meeting to subscribe the same." [There is certainly nothing wrong in this step].
It has been remarked that this subscription on the
monthly-meeting books is the earliest temperance
pledge on record. In the year 1726, advice was issued by the Yearly
Meeting of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, against
the pernicious custom of giving rum and other strong
liquors to excite such as bid at auctions, in order to
induce them to advance, the price, which, besides the
injustice of the artifice, is very scandalous and leads
to great intemperance and disorder." It was therefore
directed, that, if members of the Society were
guilty of this practice, they should be dealt with as
disorderly persons. In the preamble to the law of
Pennsylvania, prohibiting the use of rum and other
strong liquors at auctions, the language is almost the
same, showing from where it was derived.
From this date forward, for a long series of years,
the several Yearly meetings of Friends in America
kept the subject of temperance continually alive, and
issued advisories in relation to it very frequently. At
first, they cautioned their members against the immoderate
use of spirituous liquors, and discouraged
their distillation from grain; but for a long time the
distillation of fruit was considered justifiable on
account of its very perishable nature and the supposed
necessity of turning it into some profitable account. [Still no problem.]
As the baneful effects resulting from the use
of intoxicating liquors, as a beverage, became more
fully disclosed and considered, Friends found it their religious duty to abstain from the common use of
spirituous liquors, from the sale or distillation of
them, and from grinding grain or selling it for the
purpose of distillation.
The use of spirituous liquors in time of harvest,
was long considered necessary, but in the latter part
of the eighteenth century, the attention of many
Friends being seriously turned to the subject, they
found it incumbent upon them to discontinue the
practice, as being the source of much evil. Their
example was followed by others, and in the course
of some years, becoming general throughout the
Society, the prohibition was adopted by the Yearly
meetings, and embodied in advisories to their members.
As in the case of the testimony against slavery, as in regard to the use of spirituous liquors as a beverage,
the progress of the Society was gradual, advancing step by step as they were able to bear it, without a
serious breach of unity.
Site Editor's Comment: Thus the rule against drink was established, being in direct conflict with the scripture: Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days, And it was established in the subtlety of the serpent, one small step at a time, until the last step, which seems so holy, but which results in loss to all.
Janney, a 19th Century Quaker himself, spoke with great pride in the wonderful example and leadership of the Society in their establishment of forbidding alcohol — a giant step for mankind. However holy they thought this ban was, it wasn't — it clearly violated the New Testament's instructions and the teachings of their founders. The subject is not drunkenness, it is using alcohol without drunkenness. If you personally prefer to abstain from alcohol, that is fine; just don't preach abstention to others, or make rules for others. And of course, whatever the Holy Spirit may instruct you, regarding your personal usage of alcohol, as an abusive drinker would be instructed, obey — leave it to be a matter of conscience.
Alcohol abstention was not the first rule. In 1670, Fox began to urge Quaker slaveholders to give their slaves freedom after years of service. William Penn further pleaded with Quakers to give up their slaves. Penn and the Pennsylvania Quakers passed an anti-slavery resolution in their colonial legislature. Penn freed his slaves. The early Quakers left it to either secular legislation, or individual conscience — not a church rule. But by 1761, the Quakers in England, created a rule, that no one could hold slaves and continue to be a Quaker. By 1825 in the United States, slavery became the obsession of Quakers, fanning hatred of all slaveholders, with some even refusing to touch anything made of cotton, the product of slave labor. Slavery became the greatest evil and sin in their thinking. The northern Quakers looked with disdain on their southern slave-holder counterparts. Many Quakers even took up arms and fought against the South in the Civil War, without censure of their brethren, who allowed for their conscience in fighting, while denying conscience of their southern brethren.
Certainly, I detest and deplore slavery, along with the rest of 21st Century western civilization — but that is not the church issue. The church issue is conscience vs. rules. The issue is: do we trust Christ to convince and convict, regarding outward practices that are not defined as sin in the holy Scriptures, or do we make restrictive rules? The rules as a cure can be worse than the disease. In fact, the American Quakers' obsession with slavery sealed the coffin of the Quaker movement, solidifying their outward focus on social action, rather than the inward focus of self-denial. They chose to fight evil, instead of seeking the purifying grace of God, to become an instrument of the will of God, rather than their own desires.
However holy our fleshly social actions feel, they only puff-up our pride — further removing us from the will of God.
The Irish Schism — 1794-1808
(A group who claimed the Scriptures were not Holy or even accurate)
THE Society of Friends in Ireland had for many
years been on the decline. It was not only diminishing
in numbers, but its spiritual condition was far
from satisfactory. As early as the year 1762, James
Gough, who had resided in that country twenty-four
years, and was about to return to England, expressed
in his Journal a mournful sense of the prevailing
declension. After alluding to the worthy men and
women of a former generation, who had kept their
ranks in righteousness, he thus continues: "Of their
survivors, on one hand a considerable number retained
the ancient plainness of language and habit,
and rigidly censorious of any deviation there from,
valued themselves thereupon, as if it were the only
test and badge of discipleship; while their hearts
were gone after their covetousness in eagerly pursuing and sordidly hoarding temporal wealth, [they had fallen into a form of the original Quaker faith, only imitating outward effects of a changed heart, while ignoring the requirements of a change of heart]. On the
other hand, a large body of youth and others shooting
up in self-indulgence, in conformity to the world,
and rushing headlong into the temptations of the times.
Yet amid this inundation of negligence and revolt,
there remain, in most places, a number of sincere hearted
Friends, a few worthy ministers and elders,
but within these twenty years past, there has been
a great alteration for the worse."
In the year 1794, at the national Half-Year's Meeting
held in Dublin, a committee that had been appointed
to visit the meetings in Munster Province, reported
that they had performed the service, and found
"the state of things in that quarter generally very
low, yet they were comforted in finding a remnant
preserved in sundry places, bound to the law and the
testimony." The meeting taking into consideration
the state of the Society throughout the nation, and
being pained at the many deficiencies apparent, appointed
a committee to visit the meetings in the
Province of Leinster. At the following Half-year's
Meeting, in the spring of 1795, the committee reported
that they had found the state of the Society
in Leinster, "in the general, painfully low; too
many being settled down at ease in their possessions,
yet there were a few up and down engaged in honest
labour for the welfare of the cause. They likewise
had the encouraging prospect that some, among the
youth, were measurably joining in with the divine
visitations of truth to their minds."
At a meeting of ministers and elders of Carlow
Monthly Meeting, in the Third month, 1777, Abraham
Shackleton of Ballitore, an influential elder of
that meeting, being clerk, refused to read the advisories to ministers and elders issued by the Yearly Meeting,
and directed to be read once in the year.
He stated the grounds of his objections as follows:
"That, as it was admitted, that the rightly qualified
ministers among who speak from the immediate
and direct revelation of the Holy Spirit, it must be
highly improper to prescribe to them, or make rules
for limiting their ministry with respect either to
mode, matter, or time; that the advisories proposed to
be then read had a direct tendency to produce this
effect, — and that the recommending of those advisories
must therefore be regarded as limiting the operation
of the spirit, and teaching for doctrines the commandments
of men."* In consequence of the clerk's refusal to read the
advisories, they were read by a female member of that
meeting, though she also disapproved of them; and
it appears that other members of the select meeting
concurred in their objections. In order to convey an
idea of the spirit that began to prevail in that meeting,
the excellent advisories, to which some of them
objected, are here subjoined.
*If a minister was "rightly qualified " by God instead of only an immature Quaker body, the below advisories would not be any hindrance; but unfortunately Shackleton's objection was to those who were not "rightly qualified" by God, only "rightly qualified" by immature Quakers walking according to the thoughts of their mind and evil hearts.
ADVISORIES TO MINISTERS AND ELDERS
I. Let all be cautious of using unnecessary preambles,
and of laying too great stress on their testimony,
by too positively asserting a divine motion; the baptizing
power of truth accompanying the words, being
the true evidence,
II. Let all be careful not to misquote or misapply
the Holy Scriptures; and be frequent in reading them.
III. Let ministers be careful how they enter upon
disputed points in their testimony; or make such
objections as they do not clearly answer; or give repeated
expectations of coming to a conclusion.
IV. Let all be cautious of hurting meetings by
unnecessary additions towards the conclusion, when
the meeting was left well before.
V. Let all avoid unbecoming tones, sounds, gestures,
and all affectation; which are not agreeable to
VI. Men and women are cautioned against traveling
as companions in the work of the ministry; to
avoid all occasions of offence.
VII. Let ministering Friends be careful not to
hurt each other's service in meetings ; but let every
one have a tender regard for others. Let nothing be
offered with a view to popularity; but in humility
and the fear of the Lord,
VIII. Let none run in their own wills to disturb
any people in their worship; or presume to prophesy
in their own spirits, against any nation, town, city,
people, or person.
IX. Let ministers, when they travel in the service
of truth, be careful not to make their visits burdensome,
or the gospel chargeable.
X. Let all beware of too much familiarity, which,
biasing the judgment and producing an undue attachment,
tends to hurt.
XI. Let ministers be careful to keep their whole
conversation unspotted, being examples of meekness,
temperance, patience, and charity.
XII. And lastly, as prayer and thanksgiving are
an especial part of worship, they must be performed
in spirit and in truth, with a right understanding,
seasoned with grace. Therefore let ministers be
careful how and what they offer in prayer, avoiding many words and repetitions; and let all be cautious
of too often repeating the high and holy name of
God, or his attributes, by a long conclusion: neither
let prayer be in a formal and customary way to conclude
a meeting; nor without an awful sense of
Site Editor's Comment: If their ministers had been in spirit and truth none of these advisories would be necessary; showing that the people issuing the advisory were: a) not under the Spirit's control, and b) ignorant of their founders' consistent advice on the same subject. The founders consistently wrote: unless prompted by the Spirit to speak, remain silent; and if you have a teaching received in the past, which seems appropriate to add to the meeting, be certain the light is up, [you are in the Spirit], before repeating the teaching. In meetings that George Fox appointed, before speaking he often remained silent, sometimes for the better part of an hour; just standing silently, waiting on the Spirit to seize control of the audience and to clear him to speak. When he spoke, it was from the Spirit with power.
As George Whitehead in his A Christian Progress so well states:
Thus keeping silence before the Lord, and
drawing near to him in a true silent frame of
spirit, to hear first what the Lord speaks to us
before we speak to others, whether it is
judgment or mercy, is the way for renewing our strength, and to be his ministers, to speak
to others only what he first speaks to
us. O! That the people were truly mindful of this;
that they would seriously consider this;
then would they not run after, or follow such
as their ministers, priests, or prophets, who
ran out to preach when God had never sent them; and who say, Thus said the Lord,” when God has not
spoken to them; and, "who shall not profit
the people at all."
These advisories were doubtless suggested by experienced
ministers, who had seen and felt the necessity
of the care and caution they enjoined. May it not
be said that, in this day, their strict observance by
ministers everywhere, would, at times, be a great
relief to their hearers?
The ground taken by Abraham Shackleton seems
to imply that "rightly qualified* ministers" are infallible;
but the whole history of the Christian Church
proves the contrary, [only if you consider the apostates as part of the Christian Church].Those who have been rightly
called and are at times favored with a measure of the
holy anointing, should ever remember that "we have
this treasure in earthen vessels," and unless the vessel
is kept clean, the heavenly gift will lose a portion
of its efficacy. The very best among ministers may
sometimes need the advice and caution of their
friends; for although the Spirit of Truth is unerring,
man is always fallible, and consequently liable to
misapprehend its dictates, unless he keeps continually
on the watch. The objections stated against the
reading of the printed advisories would apply equally
well to advice or caution offered verbally by a member or elder, and the result of this doctrine, if admitted,
would be to confer on ministers an irresponsible
authority in the church.
*Site Editor's Comment: Yet there was no system of qualification. Any preaching from the carnal mind would not be recognized as such for certain, unless the listeners were sufficiently mature in Spirit to have the necessary discernment. This was the ruinous problem. Everyone would have been better off with no ministers, to listen silently without a word spoken, until someone was sufficiently mature and called by Christ himself, with certain instructions, to become a minister. A minister who is "at times favored with the holy anointing," and always subject to fallibility, is not yet ready to minister or oversee.
The first of the advisories which cautions ministers
against "asserting [presuming] too positively a divine motion," is
well worthy of attention; for "if the baptizing power
of truth" accompanies the words, no other evidence
is needed; but if this "true evidence" is lacking,
the highest professions of divine authority will be of
The reference made in the last of the advisories, to
"a right understanding, seasoned with grace," is in
accordance with the language of the apostle Paul,
" I will pray with the Spirit, and I will pray with the
It appears that the opposition felt to the advisories to
ministers and elders, was not confined to the select
meeting at Carlow; for at the next Quarterly Meeting
of ministers and elders, held at Mountmeleck,
information was received that at two other select
meetings within that Quarter, the reading of those
advisories had also been disapproved, and that the objections
urged against them were substantially the
Several members of the select Quarterly Meeting
were much dissatisfied with this opposition to a long
established practice that had been enjoined by the
Yearly Meeting held at London, and likewise by
the National Half-year's Meeting of Ireland; but the
objections to the advisories having been urged by active
and influential members, it was deemed expedient
not to prosecute the subject further at that time.
At the Quarterly Meeting of general discipline for
the province of Leinster, which immediately ensued,
another subject for dissension was brought up, having
its rise at Carlow, and doubtless originating with the
On reading the answer to the fourth query, which
relates, in part, to the" frequent reading of the Holy
Scriptures," it was observed, that in the answer from
Carlow Monthly meeting, the word holy was omitted.
This omission excited much emotion, and inquiry
was immediately made into the cause of it. The
purpose of this inquiry was, that the
spirit of truth inwardly revealed in the heart of every
man, is that alone which can and will lead its followers
into all truth; that a disposition had lately been
manifested to lose sight of this fundamental principle
of the Society while affixing an undue value upon
the Scriptures, — and that the distinguishing of them
by the term Holy has a tendency to exalt them in our
estimation as highly as the spirit of truth itself. It
was moreover stated, that, although many parts of
the Scriptures are truly excellent, other parts of them
are objectionable. These remarks gave great pain
and were generally disapproved.
The objections urged against the Scriptures and
the use of the term Holy, as applied to them, afford
painful evidence that the humble, earnest, devotional
spirit which characterized the early Friends, had been
succeeded by a critical and speculative disposition,
that never can win souls to God, nor build up a religious society; but on the contrary, by introducing
disputes about nonessentials, is well calculated to
In regard to the term Holy Scriptures be observed,
that it was applied to the Scriptures by the Apostle
Paul, and was doubtless intended to distinguish them
from all other writings, because they relate chiefly
to sacred or spiritual things. The same term was
applied by the Jews to their temple and its vessels,
— to their altars, and to all that was connected with
their religion. It may be considered, in some sense,
a technical term, the use of which is well understood,
and clear of any tendency to superstition.
There is abundant evidence to show that the early
Friends, although they often wrote from a sense of
religious duty, and believed they were at times aided
by divine grace, did not presume to put their writings
on a level with the Scriptures, nor has the Society
in any stage of its history given the least countenance
to such pretensions.
Site Editor's Comment: This above statement by the author, Janney, is preposterous. George Fox and many of the early Quakers consistently and loudly proclaimed "they were in the same spirit as the Apostles." Since the Spirit wrote the scriptures through the hands of the prophets and Apostles, why would the Spirit's writings be any less important in the 17th Century — or the 25th Century? As Janney confirms, by 1867, the Quakers had lost confidence in their founder's measure in Christ — evidently because of pride in their own differing opinions; either in ignorance of their founder's claims or in belief their founders were deluded.
Without the writings of Fox, Howgill, Burrough, Whitehead, Parnell, Penington, etc. — the scriptures are easily misunderstood, particularly when the rest of the Christian world is totally and consistently misrepresenting their meanings. This undervalue of the early Friends writings, contributed to the Quakers decline by: 1) ignoring the weighty understandings of the Scriptures, with their true meanings carefully explained, 2) left them without the understanding, that although the Spirit was their primary source of faith and grace, the true understanding of the scriptures would never conflict with any revelation of the Spirit; and therefore was a check against deceptive imitations of the spirit's instructions.
George Fox urged Friends to translate the Quaker writings into other languages and send them to those countries. Fox published books at his own expense. On his death, Fox left funds for the continued publications of early Quaker writings. To discount the early Quaker writings is a great error and is in itself a major contributor to the Quaker Departure from Truth. In a prophecy from the Lord by Mary Howgill, the Lord said: "they shall leave a more clear and heavenly declaration upon record, than my servants heretofore have done, and it shall stand to ages, and in generations to come, that they may see how God manifested himself unto his people in a day of great suffering".
These early Friends' writings clearly document the path and pitfalls of the successful spiritual journey to union with Christ and entry to his glorious kingdom of God.
At the National Yearly Meeting, held in Dublin,
in the spring of 1798, it was stated "that there were
reasons to fear that a disposition to undervalue the
Scriptures and to produce schism, was gaining
ground in the Society; and in consequence thereof
a committee was appointed to inquire into the state
of the Society in these and other respects."
It is obvious that in all organized bodies,
and especially in Christian churches, there must be
some points of agreement that should be deemed
essential, while on other points of less importance
there may be allowed a considerable diversity of
opinion. In the Society of Friends, from its first rise,
there were three points chiefly insisted on, namely, Immediate
Revelation, the Divinity of Christ, and the
Authenticity of the Scriptures. In regard to the last
of these doctrines it may be observed, that the
Friends held the sacred writings "subordinate to
the spirit of Truth, from which they derived all their
excellency and certainty," and in the interpretation of these writings they allowed considerable diversity* of sentiment.
In the printed epistle of London Yearly Meeting,
issued in 1728, the following passage is found:-
"Since the Holy Scriptures are the external
means of conveying and preserving to us an account
of the things most surely to be believed concerning
our Lord Jesus Christ in the flesh and the fulfilling
of the prophecies relating thereto, we therefore
recommend to all Friends, especially elders in
the Church and masters of families, that they would
both by example and advice, impress on the minds of
the younger, a reverent esteem of those sacred writings,
and advise them to a frequent reading and meditating
thereon; — and that you would at proper times and
seasons, when you find your minds rightly disposed
thereunto, give the youth to understand that the
same good experience of the work of sanctification
through the operations of the spirit of God, which
the Holy Scriptures plentifully bear testimony to, is
to be witnessed by believers in all generations, as
well us by those in the first ages of Christianity; in
which case some account of your own experience may
be helpful to them. And this we recommend as the
most effectual means of creating and establishing in
their minds a firm belief of the Christian doctrine in
general, as well as the necessity of the aid and help
of the operations of the Holy Spirit of God in the
hearts of men in particular, contained in that most
excellent book, the Bible; and of preserving them
from being defiled with the many pernicious notions
and principles contrary to such sound doctrine, which
are at this time industriously dispersed in the nation,
to the reproach of the Christian profession in general."
*Site Editor's Comment: In the above, the London Yearly Meeting recommends "meditating on the scriptures," which is a total waste of time that could be better spent in waiting on the Lord in humble silence. Already the Quakers had lost sight of the extensive doctrinal books of George Fox, revealing and explaining most all true Christian doctrine; and considerable diversity of interpretation encouraged or allowed, as the author Janney stated immediately prior to the quotation above, is only encouraging misinformation and false doctrinal understandings.
It is obvious that Abraham Shackleton, and other
elders who agreed with him in sentiment, could not
impress on the minds of the younger members" a
reverent esteem of the sacred writings;" for they did
not themselves feel that esteem. Not being in unity
with the Society in this particular, they were disqualified
for the eldership, and should have been released
from that station. It does not follow, however, as a
necessary consequence, that they should have been
disowned from membership; for it appears to have
been admitted, that their conduct was circumspect
In appointing elders and overseers, as well as in
acknowledging a gift in the ministry, regard should
be had to those qualities that will promote the harmony
and spiritual health of the body. It is obvious
that no organized body, whether civil or religious,
should appoint for its officers those whose acknowledged
sentiments are in opposition to its constitutional
In addition to the causes of dissension already
recited, a number of the members were dissatisfied
with the conduct and religious services of some who
stood as acknowledged ministers. Among these,
David Sands, from the State of New York, then on
a religious visit in Ireland, was one whose ministry
was approved by one party in the meetings, and severely censured by another. Some of those who
dissented from his doctrines, and disapproved of his
ministry, expressed their dissent by refusing to rise
or uncover their heads when he appeared in public
supplication. Their refusal being at variance with
the advice of the Yearly Meeting, issued in 1723 and
embraced in the book of discipline, was considered
an offence that required the notice of the Monthly
Meeting. On this ground, disciplinary visits were
made, on behalf of Dublin Monthly Meeting, to five
of its members, one of whom was an elder, and another
an overseer. The two latter were displaced
from their stations, and a minute made by the Meeting
that none of these Friends should be appointed
to any service in the discipline of the Society. John
Barrington, one of the five who were thus disqualified,
afterwards declined the attendance of meetings, and
was disowned. William Barrington, of Dublin, was
disowned for refusing to be amenable to the rules of
the Society, principally in declining to stand up and
take off his hat in meetings for worship during public
Thomas Bewley, of Dublin, resigned his station as
an elder in the year 1799, assigning as his motive
that he "was dissatisfied with the rigorous proceedings
of the Friends of the Select Meeting first, and
of the Monthly Meeting afterwards, against certain
persons of estimable character, who thought it right
not to acknowledge the ministry of David Sands,
and kept their seats while he was engaged in public
prayer." The whole of the proceedings against these
Friends was disapproved of by him, and, therefore,
he did not choose to retain his place in the Select
Meeting, the members of which differed so materially from him in sentiment ; and from that time he pretty
much ceased to be active in discipline. As David
Sands had, the year previous, made his home at the
house of Thomas Bewley during a sickness of near
ten weeks, it may be inferred that they were, or had
been, personal friends.
Susannah and Mary Bewley (sisters of Thomas),
Lydia (the wife of Abraham) Shackleton, of Ballitore,
and Abigail Haughton, of Carlow, all of whom were
elders, resigned their stations, and the two former
relinquished their membership.
The opposition to David Sands appears to have
been chiefly, if not wholly, confined to those who
dissented, in fine points of doctrine and discipline,
from the prevailing sense of the body. There is
reason to believe that his course of proceeding in
that critical juncture was not always courteous nor
judicious; but there is evidence to show that among
Friends generally he was still esteemed as a gospel
minister. William Savery, who was in Ireland during
part of the time that David Sands sojourned
there, attended a number of meetings with him, and
mentions particularly in his Journal an appointed
meeting at Cork, in which he says: "David Sands
had a good testimony, and closed the meeting in
prayer. I believe that, through mercy, the Truth
was in dominion; the people were very quiet and
attentive, said to be the most so ever remembered in
Cork at those promiscuous meetings."
At Waterford, in Ireland, William Savery had an
interview with Abraham Shackleton, as related in
the following extracts from his Journal, under date
First month, 1798, 8th. At my lodgings, in the evening, came Robert Greer and Abraham Shackleton;
the latter from Ballitore, who had come forty-two miles in order to see me. He holds opinions of
a singular nature; objects to the first five books of
Moses in particular, but in general to the accounts
of the Jews in the Old Testament and various parts
of the New Testament; professes to think there is
little if any need of books of any kind on religious
subjects; that they only darken the mind, and keep
it from turning itself wholly unto God, the fountain
of all light and life. But of all books of a religious
kind he especially dislikes Friends' journals, and has
but a slight opinion of ministry and discipline, and
all secondary helps in general; but is for having all
people turned to the Divine Light in themselves
alone. Christ, he says, was a good man — the leader
of the people — because he was wholly obedient to
this light, which he was in an especial manner filled
with. He thinks the Evangelists [Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John] are poor historians;
that Paul brought much of his epistles from the feet
of Gamaliel [the Jewish high teacher of the Mosiac Law], and many parts of them are, therefore,
rabbinical stuff; Christianity was the same to those
who were obedient to the anointing before the coming
of Christ in the flesh as since, etc. I perceived all
this was accompanied with a pretended looking towards
a greater state of perfection and redemption
than our Society has yet arrived at. For my part, I
could not see as he did, nor unite with him in his
erroneous expressions and opinions, and I feel a fear
that they will produce much hurt if he and others in
this nation are not brought into deep abasement; his
talents and morality making error in his hands more
dangerous. We separated without much satisfaction,
at least on my side.
Site Editor's Comment: Barclay and Whitehead had both made statements to this effect: If a man was in a country where he had never heard of Jesus, or if a man could not read, being illiterate, it would be possible for these men to attain salvation by total obedience to the Light within. Two big ifs which those in Ireland did not meet. Anyone who can read, who has the Bible available, would be frighteningly arrogant to state that the Scriptures were of no or little value — and a Quaker who also dislikes the Journals of his founders, is without hope. If someone is so full of pride and self-importance to believe their opinions are superior to the doctrine of the Bible, they should certainly not be in a leadership capacity; the fact that this man was a prominent elder, only testifies to the deterioration of the Quaker faith before 1800, at least in Ireland.
George Fox and the early Friends testified as to how Christ showed them the events in the scriptures, as they entered paradise; so anyone who can't accept certain nonessential parts of the scriptures, should simply stay in the cross, stay obedient, and suffer the tribulation, until they enter the Kingdom, to receive the personal revelation and opening of the scriptures. Fox said he witnessed the events of the Bible; from his Journal:
But as man comes through by the spirit and power of God to Christ, (who fulfils the types, figures, shadows, promises, and prophecies that were of him), and is led by the holy spirit into the truth and substance of the scriptures, sitting down in him who is the author and end of them, then are they read and understood with profit and great delight.
and Letter #239: So who are in this royal seed
comprehend the state and time before the law, the time of the law,
the time of christians, and the time of the apostasy;
for the seed Christ is the first and the last,
the beginning and the ending;
and in the seed is the staidness and plainness of words and life,
yet a mystery to all them that are out of it.
And who are in the seed
comprehend and see the state of the sufferings of the just before the law,
and the state of the sufferings of the just in the law,
by whom, and for what they suffered;
and also comprehend the state of the christians,
who lived in the end of the law, in Christ the substance,
and by whom they suffered, and for what;
even by such as were the greatest professors,
out of the life of Moses and the prophets,
which, had they been in,
they would have read Christ the substance,
and all them that testified of him,
and were witnesses of him;
and also comprehend the state,
and see who are them that apostatized from the apostles,
and the church in the primitive times,
who have been the sufferers,
and who it is that has made them to suffer, and for what.
In America, Anthony Benezet had written a book, Consideration on War, and after quoting from the
Sermon on the Mount, he says: "Hence we have
reason to believe, that the injunction and allowance granted
to the Jews, of making war upon the Jew's
enemies and one upon another, was in consequence
of that hardness of heart, which prevailed among- them;
and that this permission was granted from
the same motive as that mentioned by our Lord
when the Jews were pleading the license given to them by
Moses to put away their wives and marry other
women," Mark 10:5. "For the hardness of your
hearts Moses wrote you this precept; but from the first
beginning of the creation God made them male and
female — what therefore God hath joined together,
let no man put asunder." This, as well as war, as was
slavery, and other practices of the like nature, were
a violation upon that union, purity, and brotherly
love which subsisted in the beginning in the original
constitution of things, while man retained his primitive innocence. And that the spilling of human blood
was not acceptable in the eyes of perfect Deity, whom the apostle denominates under the appellation of love, God is Love, appears from the prohibition
laid upon king David, not to build an house
unto God on account of his having been concerned
in the destruction of his fellow-creatures, as himself
declared, 1 Chron. 22:8. "The word of the Lord came to David saying, Thou hast shed blood abundantly,
and hast made great wars; thou shalt not build a house unto my name, because thou hast shed much
blood upon the earth in my sight."
There is no doubt that the tract from which this
passage has been extracted, was extensively circulated
in America, and generally approved by Friends there.
It is also likely that this book circulated in Ireland, and was the source of so many defections over the Scriptures not being holy. Once one accepts that there could be serious error in a part of the Scriptures, one has cause to doubt them all.
Site Editor's Comment: Who told the Jews to kill all the Canaanites within the borders of the promise land because the Canaanites practiced ritual protitution and burning sacrifice of their children to their false God, Molech?Who told the angels to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah? Who destroyed all of mankind except Noah and his sons by the great flood? Who destroyed 70,000 men by plague in Jerusalem when David numbered the men who could draw a sword? Who opened up the earth to swallow Korah and his men with all their possessions, the destroying 250 men by fire? Who brought down the walls of Jericho and ordered all destroyed except Rahab? Who sent an Angel of the Lord to kill 145,00 men of the King of Assyria to save Jerusalem?
God's command to Moses to eliminate the Canaanites came 400 years after God had promised Abraham the land of the Canaanites to Abraham's descendants because God told Abraham it would be 400 years before the iniquities of the Canaanites had reached its fullness, (their wickedness had not reached the point of intolerability). These people who think God would not command war were (and are?) blinded in their obsession against war.
The early Quaker's testimony against war was originally to show how they were committed to not fighting; this became such an obsession with the Quakers that 100 years later, they concluded Moses was a liar and the Bible was a lie, because it said God ordered Jewish wars; 160 years later, they began to harshly criticize soldiers and governments. For more on this, see Submission.
Do not mistake what I write here. Since the new covenant of Christ, the Light has replaced the old Law, in no circumstances would a true Christian ever be ordered by God to kill, but clearly the times of the Old Testament were different, with a different standard. The Old Testament's eye for an eye, has been permanently replaced by love your enemies.
The Old Testament is a deliberately created indelible physical allegory to the spiritual journey that each man must make to kill all his enemies within his heart, preparatory to entering the Kingdom and the rest. Hebrews states several, but there are many, many more. Whatever loss people experienced to create that indelible allegory will be made up by a perfectly just God. And remember, God knows the future. He knows if a people will do nothing but go deeper into evil. Normally, he lets them dig themselves as deep as they choose, until the time of the normal death. But if he knows they will have to go through Hell after death, with no hope of being reconciled with God while alive, and if it suits His broader purpose, their deaths can be merciful. Merciful because they cease digging themselves deeper into the pit of evil, which they will have to dig themselves out of in the next life, called Hell. See Is There Hope for All for the details.
Fortunately, the pain and suffering that people experience in this life will be made up for by God in the next life;
this life being like a distant dream.
And all will be comforted. And all will say that God is righteous.
And all will say that Jesus Christ is Lord. And these things will be said in sincerity and honesty by all,
for God would take no pleasure in someone lying under force or threat of force;
these things will be said from the heart by all to the glory of God the Father .
He will swallow up death. And the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces;
and the reproach of His people He will take away from off all the earth; for the Lord has spoken it.
At about the same time as the split over the Scriptures occurred in Ireland, two other issues further depleted the Quaker ranks of Ireland: 1) the severe censuring of ten Friends who had witnessed a marriage in a Quaker Assembly without submission for prior approval, and 2) the forbidding of Friends to participate in discipline meetings who had supported or associated with children that had married outside of the Quaker faith, as by a priest. This primarily occurred in Belfast, but the discontent over the discipline was widespread and resulted in further separation of many.
Site Editor's Comment: Janney stated the discipline was too severe and violated the spirit of reconciliation — and based on the facts related, I agree; particularly censure over association with natural children — this is a major violation of Christian freedom. Fox would likely have won these people over with loving and gentle admonishings. The Irish church hierarchy appears to have been panicked, perhaps understandably, but still with great loss.
<This subject continues,
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free from sin
by benefiting from the changing power of God through the cross,
which leads to union with God in his Kingdom.