Saturday, November 2, 2013

John Wilbur and the Primitive Church.

It is the 9th month and 8th day in the year 1835. In a letter to James and Sarah Tucker in England he writes:

“And now I feel free to say to you, my dear friends, as to those whom I know will be discreet in knowledge, that my fears regarding things on the other side of the water are being lamentably realized; that such as my labors there, both by word and writing, were designed to counteract, are notwithstanding very likely to prevail to an alarming degree ; and whether the Society there will be able to purge itself by a copious dismemberment, or whether a disjunction will take place, or whether the leaven will be suffered to remain till the whole be leavened, as was the case with the primitive Church, when it graduated into apostasy, is yet uncertain.

The unsoundness is far the most prevalent amongst the wise, the rich, the learned and the influential; which renders it exceedingly difficult to raise the authority of Truth above it.

Sometimes the sallies from sound Christian doctrine are in one direction, and sometimes in another; the object and aim at this time seems to be, to divide and distinguish Christ from his own spirit. Such assertions as the following are now to be met with repeatedly, —if ministers and elders, and others both of our own parts and strangers are to be credited—namely, that " the Spirit of Truth is no part of a Saviour; " " that Christ only, and him crucified, is to be preached; that these pretensions of the Light and the Spirit must vanish away," &c. &c.”

Wilbur, John, 1774-1856. Journal of the life of John Wilbur : a minister of the gospel in the Society of Friends (Kindle Locations 3760-3780). Providence : G. H. Whitney.

It is a recurring lament of Wilbur, and those who labor with him, that the “unsoundness” manifests  prevalently “amongst the wise, the rich, the learned and the influential ...” and that they use their power and influence to tamp down those upholding the “primitive Church.”

I turn your attention to Wilbur’s concern that those laboring against the “primitive Chruch” wished to “divide and distinguish Christ from his own spirit.” And that the “Spirit of Truth is no part of a Saviour.” An finally “that these pretensions of the Light and the Spirit must vanish away.”

That there were many Quakers who sought  to dis-spirit Christ, was the rub. The inward light was the core of the testimony of the “ancient Friends.” The denial of the inner light, the inner Spirit, the Presence, was denial of the Pentecost;  the fruition of the work and sacrifice of the historic Christ ... the coming of the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, in individual men and women. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit is the personal experience of consciousness or life transcending and sustained upon the death of the body. This is the living Gospel of salvation. It is personal knowledge of eternal life. It is being born again into the spiritual (intuitive) and the renewal of the mind. This is  the testimony of George Fox and Issac Penington, for example. Wilbur was struggling against those who would rip the light out of the individual and place it in the external ... the historic Christ and the bible, for example. The movement Wilbur was struggling against was the want to encase the spirit in external material and intellectual form resulting in the bondage of the individual to the outward forms of intellectual thought of men and women rather than the freedom he and the “primitive Church" (the “remnant") experienced individually through direct personal experience of their eternal nature ... no longer bound to the bodily or worldly nature.

When Isaac Penington says in “A Warning of Love from the Bowels of Life ...”

“Now, who will be wise? Let him become a fool in the flesh. Who will be strong? Let him become weak in the man's part. Who will be saved by the eternal power? Let him cease from the man in himself. Whoever would be able, in the life, to do all things, let him sink into that in himself which is not, that it may bring to nought all things in him that are; that so it alone may be: and he by it being brought to nothing, will easily become all in it. This is the true way of restoration, of redemption; first to be lost, to be overcome, to be drowned, to be made nothing by that which is not; that that may come to BE in him, and he be quickened, raised up, and perfected in that, and so become possessor of the fulness. "The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong;" but he that daily loseth his strength, and his ability to know, or so much as to will or desire (even till at length he become nothing at all) in him is the corrupt at last destroyed, and the mortal swallowed up of the life. He, that feels the pure seed springing up, and by the growth of that is daily begotten, quickened, raised, justified, sanctified, circumcised, baptized, [is] fed in one part, and starved in another. When the work of begetting, quickening, raising, regenerating, justifying, sanctifying, circumcising, baptizing is finished in him, and he is thoroughly begotten into the life, quickened by the life, raised in the life, regenerated, justified, sanctified, circumcised, and baptized through the life, he shall have the kingdom, wear the crown, enter into the joy of his Lord, wielding the sceptre of righteousness with his Lord in his kingdom for ever. Now this work is to be done in the heart, on this side the grave; for after death comes judgment for the things done in the body; and the tree is to be disposed of, according as it is found at its fall, either to the fire, or to grow and flourish in the land of life. Therefore be not slothful, but watch unto the movings of the living seed, that its work may be perfected; that it may arrive at its stature, and come to its full growth, and may finish its service and testimony, that so it may enter into its habitation, and receive you with it into its everlasting mansion, where every servant and constant sufferer with the seed shall be welcomed of its Father, and remain a partaker of their joy and fulness for ever. ”

He is pointing specifically to “the mortal swallowed up of the life...” He is pointing to consciousness sustained upon the death of the body. The Gospel message and the testimony of the early Quakers is literally the direct personal experience of the self-conscious ego anchored in the Light to burn bright eternally.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.