Appendix A — Penn’s “Christian Quaker”
The Christian Quaker (1673), Works, Vol. I, p.521) is one of Penn’s most elaborate works, and is largely directed to elucidating his thoughts of Christ as the Light of the world. He deals with the evidences that there was a Divine Light in the souls of the Jews before Christ came in the flesh, and even in the heathen ; and quotes, with sound knowledge, many of the early Fathers — Justin, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Origen, Lactantius, Athanasius, Chrysostom, and even Augustine—as recognising this. Virgil’s Fourth Eclogue is quoted, with more questionable judgment, as evidence that the heathen had some prevision of the coming of Jesus. He defends the practice of calling this universal Light by the name “Christ,” quoting Paul’s words in 1 Cor. 10:4, “That Rock was Christ “; and explains that what is meant is not that the whole “Christ” was in every man, but that ” He is that fulness from whence all receive a measure of Divine Light and knowledge.” Treating of the types and shadows through which he believed that the coming of Christ in the flesh was prefigured, he says :
So then we ought, and we do, by absolute force of Truth, conclude (i.) that the Seed, which is Christ, was in all ages, with Abraham, with the Israelites, and with the prophets ; therefore he was as well before he came in that prepared Body, as then and since, (ii.) Yet it is confessed that he was not so clearly revealed, perfectly brought forth, and generally known before his coming as then and since, but more darkly figured out by types and shadowy services ; which, though they cleansed not, saved not, redeemed not, yet did they show forth a more hidden and spiritual substance that was able to cleanse, save and redeem, and did actually all that received it, and were truly subject to it.
Penn recognises very fully the load of human sin that lay upon Jesus in the garden and on the Cross, but, like most of the other early Friends, he maintains that this suffering for the sin of the world had its eternal as well as its temporal aspects. The Light or Seed has always been as a “lamb slain from the foundation of the world,” and it has suffered in other holy souls who have experienced the evil of the world, “filling up the measure of Christ’s sufferings” before ever He came in the flesh.
But… never did that Divine life so eminently show forth itself as in that sanctified and prepared Body, so that what he then suffered and did in that transcendent manifestation may by way of eminency have the credit of the whole work unto itself that he ever did, or might do afterwards, for man’s salvation…. The weight of the iniquity of the whole world lay hard upon him, nor was his manhood insensible of it. Under the load of this did he travail, he alone trod the wine-press; that is, all others were then insensible of that eternal wrath which would be the portion of impenitent persons…. And as outwardly he gave his life for the world, so he might inwardly shed abroad in their souls the blood of God, that is, the holy purifying life and virtue which is in him as the Word- God, and as which he is the light and life of the world.
Not that we should irreverently rob the holy body of whatsoever acknowledgment is justly due, nor yet separate that which God hath joined ; though I confess, with holy fear, I dare not attribute that to an external prepared Being, which it is the natural proper and only work of the Divine Light and Life to operate and effect.
Appendix B — Illustrations of Attacks on Quakers
For example, William Burnet, in The Capital Principles of the Quakers Discovered (1668), quotes this from Humphrey Woolrich’s Declaration to the Baptists (1659) •’ ” Christ was never seen with any carnal eye, nor his voice heard with any carnal ear.” So quoted, it sounds like a direct denial of the Incarnation ; but when we turn to the actual passage this is what we find :
This is your fallen estate, saith the Lord God, which know not Christ in you the hope of glory — even the same that was before the world was, one with the Father, and filleth heaven and earth, and was never seen with any carnal eye, nor his voice heard by any carnal ear, but in the pure eternal unchangeable light is he revealed and seen more and more. (Humphrey Woolrich, A Declaration to the Baptists. See volume of Tracts in Devonshire House Library, Vol. 56, No. 43.)
It is quite clear that the passage objected to means essentially what is clearly stated in the Fourth Gospel, “No man hath seen God at any time.”
So, again, William Russell, endeavouring to prove (1674) that Quakerism is Paganism, writes that at a Quaker meeting he heard Josiah Coale affirm that “the Man who was born of the Virgin, and who suffered at Jerusalem, is not the Christ the Saviour of the world,” and that “the true Christ, in respect of himself, never died.” Now the first part of the statement attributed to Coale is only a crude rendering of Penington’s distinction between the eternal Christ and the bodily “garment” which for a time He wore; and the other is but a different rendering of what the youthful George Fox said before his parish priest, Nathaniel Stevens, of Drayton-in-the-Clay,— winning the approval of that theologian, — that Christ, as He was man, was an offering for the iniquities and transgressions of men, “but he died not as he was God.” (George Fox’s Journal, Ed. 1901, p. 5.)
The following is typical of many of these attacks. The anonymous writer of A Parallel between the Doctrine of the Quakers and that of the Chief Heretics (1700) quotes both Penington and Penn and compares them to the Ebionites, who denied the essential divinity of Christ.
And in this the Quakers outdo the Ebionites. They subtly distinguish between Jesus and Christ, denying both the divinity of Jesus and the humanity of Christ, so that they do not allow Jesus Christ in one person to be either God or man….
That he took the manhood into God, and hypostatically united it into his own Person, this they cannot believe ; for, according to their notion of him, Christ is not a Person but a principle only. Hence it is that they call the body of Jesus a garment, a vail, which Christ some time wore, and a vessel, in which he was pleased some time to dwell, so that they wholly despoil him of his humanity, and utterly deny him to be the Son of Man.
Charles Leslie, in The Snake in the Grass (1696) charged the Quakers with denying the Incarnation.
They deny any proper Incarnation of Christ ; that is, that he was made flesh, or that he and Jesus were one Person. Yet they allow Jesus to be called Christ, from the dwelling of Christ in him; but for the same reason, they take the name Christ to themselves, and say that it belongs to them as well as to Jesus, from the same dwelling of Christ in them as in Jesus. [This charge is based on passages in Penington’s writings such as this: ” Is not the substance, the life, the anointing, called Christ, wherever it is found ? Doth not the name belong to the whole body (and every member in the body) as well as to the head ? Are they not all of one ; yea, all one in the anointing?” (Some Queries concerning Christ, Works, Vol. III., p.54.) We may remember that the Mystics have always used language expressing the oneness of the believer with Christ, including Paul, who wrote ” He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit ” (1 Cor. 6:17).]
Appendix C — The Attacks of Bugg and Keith
Francis Bugg joined Friends about 1659, but after twenty years turned against them, apparently because he thought, with Wilkinson and Story and Rogers, that the organization set up by George Fox, of monthly and quarterly meetings and the like, hindered the liberty of the Inward Light. In the issue he abandoned his belief in the Inward Light altogether. In 1684 he left the Society, and became a bitter and rancorous opponent. In New Rome Arraigned (1693) he violently attacked the doctrine of Penington, saying that it was a denying and disowning of the Jesus Christ who was born and died, through faith in whom alone is salvation possible.
The tenor of it [Penington’s doctrine] runs to own the Light, the Life, the Substance, something in the body which was not capable of being seen otherwise than by the eye of faith, nor capable of weariness, of thirst, of hunger, of buffeting, of scourging, of being crucified, and hanged on a tree; this in a confused mysterious sense they will own to be Christ; and this is no other than they dream is in them, and which they attribute to one another… so that consequently so many Quakers, so many Christs.
His principal charge, repeated with persistency, was that the Quakers “divide the humanity from the Godhead, which is, in plain terms, a plain denial of Christ.”
George Keith, a Scotchman, was a more scholarly man than Bugg, and was indeed one of the ablest of those who joined the Quakers. ” Convinced ” about 1663, he became one of the most powerful preachers of the “Inward Light,” and travelled on the Continent and elsewhere, with George Fox and Willliam Penn, bearing his full share of persecution and imprisonment. He shone particularly in public discussions, especially with the Presbyterians, among whom he had been brought up. About 1689, after some years in America, he settled as a schoolmaster in Philadelphia, having been for more than twenty-five years in close unity with Friends. Soon after this, dissatisfaction began to be felt with some of his public utterances, in which he charged his brother ministers with undervaluing the historic Christ and the Scriptures. A scholarly mind like his might well be dissatisfied with the crude and ignorant way in which, when the Light was growing dim, the inward Christ was doubtless often preached ; and Keith might have rendered good service in keeping things in a true perspective, had he been of a less contentious spirit and more able to control his temper. A breach occurred between the leading Friends in Pennsylvania and himself, and he began to organize a separate body, which he called ” The Christian Quakers.” In 1692 the Yearly Meeting disowned him for ” a spirit of reviling, railing, lying, slandering and falsely accusing.” The next year, having secured a considerable following in America, he came to England, and laid his case before the Yearly Meeting in London. Several days were spent in hearing it, and the minutes that were adopted show delightfully the patience, brotherly love, and spiritual insight which still remained among Friends, and a most earnest desire that all should be settled in a Christian spirit. Un- fortunately Keith again lost his temper, and the meeting at last decided that he had ” gone from the blessed unity of the spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ.” He gained but few adherents in this country, and after estabhshing himself in Turner’s Hall, where he preached eloquent sermons against the Quakers, he joined the Established Church and was ordained by the Bishop of London. His followers in Penn- sylvania were soon disorganized, most of them joining the Episcopalians or Baptists. [For a full account of this controversy, see Chap. III in Book V of The Quakers in the American Colonies, by Dr. Rufus M. Jones.]
In 1679 Keith had written a book The True Christ Owned, as he is True God and Perfect Man, in which he tried to give a rational answer, based on New Testament teaching, to the attacks made on the Quaker position. It is a solid and weighty treatise, according to the religious ideas of the day, and much more learned than most of the Quaker writings. He makes no use of Penington’s theory which identified the humanity of Christ with his body, expressly maintaining that His “flesh” included His “soul.”
In The Plea of the Innocent (1692), he replied to the charges that were already beginning to be made against him, urging that the “Christ within” is not all that is needed, but must be supplemented with historical belief.
All the imposition they can allege on G. K. is that he did preach faith in the Man Christ without them, as well as faith in Christ the Light in them; and that Christ hath the true body of man in heaven, and in that body he will come and appear without us to judge the quick and the dead.
In various printed Sermons, delivered in London in 1694, he labours to show that historical belief must enter into saving faith, denying that his thoughts had changed, and avoiding direct attacks on Friends. In his Christian Catechism (1698) he states (in the Preface) that he now sees no objection (as earlier he had done) to speaking of “three Persons in the Trinity,” and (in the body of the book) he insists on belief in doctrines being necessary to salvation, and points out the “great errors” of those who say that “Christ is only God, that neither his flesh nor his soul was any part of him, but only as a garment,” that “Christ is nothing else but the Light Within every man,” and that “Christ and the Holy Ghost are one.” He argues that just as a field needs good seed as well as fertile soil to produce a crop of wheat, so the Inward Light is not enough without the outward knowledge of Jesus Christ.
In his Fourth Narrative of Proceedings at Turner’s Hall (1700) he throws off restraint, and gives railing answers to many passages quoted from Quaker books, plentifully interspersed with such epithets as “vile heresies.” Ignoring entirely the deep and lively Christian experience of which most of the expressions he criticizes were the outcome, he gives a narrow and illiiberal interpretation to them. Most of them he treats as being a denial by the Quakers of the reality of the Incarnation. The book is a melancholy exhibition of intolerance, consisting of long disquisitions on points of speculative theology, always insisted on as vital to faith.
Appendix D — Elias Hicks’ Sermons
I have thought it right to say so much in defence of Hicks, because I believe that, owing to the exclusively one-sided reports which reached this country, he has been sadly misjudged. But when we come to consider his Christology, I can only characterize it as deplorable. I do not think it fair to judge him, as has often been done, by isolated extracts, torn from their context, which cannot be rightly understood except in relation to his general line of thought; and as it is impossible to quote long passages I can only refer those who wish to understand his thoughts to the Sermons themselves, which may be consulted at Devonshire House. What he did was to carry to its logical issue the dualism that underlay the teaching of Penington and Penn ; and he consequently fell into “Docetism” in a still more pronounced form. “Spirit” for him was all that counted in the religious sphere ; the outward or visible could not possibly be Divine, or have any religious significance, except as a type or figure of some- thing spiritual. “Spirit can only beget spirit” was one of his central thoughts; and consequently Christ the Son of God was for him a purely inward and spiritual conception. [Cf. Sermons, pp. 10, 11. “Who was his [Jesus’] father? He was begotten of God. We cannot suppose that it was the outward body of flesh and blood that was begotten of God, but a birth of the spiritual life in the soul. We must apply it internally and spiritually. For nothing can be a son of God, but that which is spirit ; and nothing but the soul of man is a recipient for the light and spirit of God.”] The holy life lived by Jesus in the flesh he fully recognised, and he used it freely, including the story of His victory over temptation, as an example and encouragement to us. (Sermons, pp. 67-70.) The death upon the Cross is also quoted as a sublime example of self-sacrifice, and as figuring the death to sin that all must die ; but that it has any relation to the forgiveness of sin Hicks could not see. (The Quaker, Vol. I, pp.16-7.) The miracles of Jesus he entirely accepted, as having been really wrought by Him, but he found them chiefly of value as allegories or figures of spiritual blessing. [The Quaker, vol. I., p. 68; also extract quoted in the text, p. 62. We may note that to a certain extent Hicks could quote in support of his allegorising method the example of the Fourth Gospel, which finds a spiritual meaning in certain of the miracles of Jesus, such as the feeding of the five thousand.] An outward person, he would say, could heal people’s bodies, but only an inward Saviour could cure their souls.
Appendix E — J.J.Gurney’s Essays
The longest of the Essays (i6o pages) Gurney devotes to “the Scriptural Account of Jesus Christ.” He says “he hopes not to forget “His humanity, and does indeed state quite explicitly, rather as something taken for granted, that “His body was a human body, and His mind a human mind… He was really and absolutely man”; and it is strange, after this, to find him using the “prepared body” passage from Hebrews, as Isaac Penington had used it. But his principal object, he states, is to bring out the Deity of Christ, and it is to this that almost the whole of the Essay is devoted. After treating of the pre-existence of Christ as the Eternal Word, he comes to the Incarnation. “When the Son or Word of the Father assumed our nature, and was bom a child into the world, he who before had been God only became God and Man.” The two “natures,” he states, were combined in Him in an inconceivable union; but he apparently regarded them as placed side by side, just as the creed of Chalcedon had left them. For, while he speaks of limitations in the human knowledge of our Lord, he also describes Him as partaking (while in the flesh) of Divine omniscience. [p.285—The evidence (which is insufficient) he finds in our Lord’s “personal knowledge of the secret thoughts of men.”] In other words, he attributes to our Lord a double consciousness — a confusion of thought for which the doctrine of the Creed has left an open door, but of which there is no trace in the Gospels. In the pages where he deals with the pre-existent Christ, it is remarkable to find only one brief sentence referring to that which had been the central conviction of the early Friends, that His Divine Light was given to all men. “He was also,” says Gumey, the spiritual quickener and enlightener of mankind.” In a previous Essay, in a few halting phrases, he had avowed the belief that “a divine influence is given to all men, to be their cure” (Essays, p.217); but with these exceptions the “Universal and Saving Light” of Christ is entirely passed over in the Essays. In one of them, indeed, he seems plainly to deny it — where he speaks of those who are sitting ” in darkness and under the shadow of death” as “destitute of all capacity for an inheritance mth the saints in light.” (Essays, p.447)
In this matter, however, it would appear that Gumey was not quite consistent with himself. In his Observations on the Distinguishing Views and Practices of the Society of Friends (7th edition, 1834), he fully accepts the view of the early Friends, that ” Christ Himself, manifested by His Spirit in the heart, is that ‘ true light which lighteth every man that Cometh into the world.’ “ (Observations, pp. 5-6, 21, 26ff. Also Letter to Isaac Crewdson, 1835) He insists, just as Barclay did, that this Light is wholly Divine, and is no part of man’s nature (which he regards as wholly corrupted by the Fall), and that it is “procured” for us through the mediation and sacrifice for Christ. He freely acknowledges that “the outward knowledge of Christ is not absolutely indispensable to salvation, and that other persons who are completely destitute of that knowledge may also be saved from sin, and from the penalties which are attached to it, through the secret operations of Divine grace.” Here he parts company with Crewdson and the Plymouth Brethren, as he does also in his strong insistence on the necessity of the light of the Holy Spirit for the right understanding of Scripture, and of its direct and perceptible influence and guidance, not only in preaching but in all the affairs of life. (Observations, pp. 76 ff. Also Declaration of his Faith, 1846)
While at times he identifies the universal Light of God’s Spirit with the pre-incarnate ” Word ” of God, and speaks of the Holy Spirit or Comforter in the hearts of believers as one with the risen and ascended Christ (as Paul frequently did), at other times he seems inclined (probably through the influence of the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity) to distinguish between Christ and the Spirit. And he considers it a serious error—dangerous to the souls of men—to identify Christ with the light He sheds, so reducing Him to a “principle’. (Brief Remarks on Impartiality in the Interpretation of Scripture, 1836) Addressing in a letter the followers of Elias Hicks at Baltimore, he says:
Under the imagination that we have the whole Christ, as a thing or substance, in ourselves, we first disregard and then deny the divine incarnate Saviour of whom the Scriptures testify ; and on the plea of an inward and spiritual relation we renounce the one great sacrifice for sin as the means of our reconciliation with God, and the ground of our hope of salvation.
This passage illustrates the grounds of J. J. Gumey’s dread of mysticism.
Edward Grubbs (1854-1939) active in revitalizing pacifism and a leader of the movement known as the Quaker Renaissance. He began his career as a teacher at the Bootham Quaker boarding school in York.
While preparing for his M.A. examination he experienced a crisis of faith caused by his inability to reconcile his growing understanding of science with the Quaker faith he had been brought up in. He was one of a number of vocal Friends who successfully resisted the adoption of The Richmond Declaration by London YM in 1888. He helped to move London YM Quakers away from a strong alliance with Gurneyite Friends in the U.S. He wrote close to twenty books on subjects of Quakerism and religion.
This book originated as the Swarthmore Lecture to London YM in 1914.