Simplicity in forms of worship, opposition to violence, and the importance of compassionate living and thoughtful listening are hallmarks of the spirituality of the Quakers. From their beginnings in seventeenth–century England to today, the Friends have attempted to live out their belief in the presence of God's spirit within their hearts. This book features the writings of some of the most influential and inspirational Quaker thinkers –– George Fox, John Woolman, Caroline Stephen, Thomas Kelly, and others –– providing a vivid portrait of the beautiful, simple spirituality of the Quakers.
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The HarperCollins Spiritual Classics series presents short, accessible introductions to the foundational works that shaped Western religious thought and culture. This series seeks to find new readers for these dynamic spiritual voices voices that have changed lives throughout the centuries and still can today.
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The Journal of George Fox
That all may know the dealings of the Lord with me, and the various exercises, trials, and troubles through which he led me.
I was born in the month called July in the year 1624, at Drayton- in-the-Clay in Leicestershire. My father's name was Christopher Fox; he was by profession a weaver, an honest man, and there was a Seed of God in him. The neighbours called him "Righteous Christer." My mother was an upright woman; her maiden name was Mary Lago, of the family of the Lagos and of the stock of the martyrs.
When I came to eleven years of age, I knew pureness and righteousness; for while I was a child I was taught how to walk to be kept pure.The Lord taught me to be faithful in all things, and to act faithfully two ways, viz., inwardly to God and outwardly to man, and to keep to "yea" and "nay" in all things. For the Lord showed me that though the people of the world have mouths full of deceit and changeable words, yet I was to keep to "yea" and "nay" in all things; and that my words should be few and savoury, seasoned with grace; and that I might not eat and drink to make myself wanton but for health, using the creatures in their service, as servants in their places, to the glory of him that hath created them.
Afterwards, as I grew up, my relations thought to have me a priest, but others persuaded to the contrary; whereupon I was put to a man, a shoemaker by trade, and that dealt in wool, and used grazing, and sold cattle; and a great deal went through my hands. While I was with him, he was blessed; but after I left him he broke, and came to nothing. I never wronged man or woman in all that time, for the Lord's power was with me and over me, to preserve me. While I was in that service, I used in my dealings the word "verily," and it was a common saying among people that knew me, "If George says 'Verily' there is no altering him." When boys and rude people would laugh at me, I let them alone and went my way, but people had generally a love to me for my innocency and honesty.
Now during the time that I was at Barnet a strong temptation to despair came upon me. And then I saw how Christ was tempted, and mighty troubles I was in. And sometimes I kept myself retired in my chamber, and often walked solitary in the Chase there, to wait upon the Lord. And I wondered why these things should come to me; and I looked upon myself and said, "Was I ever so before?"
When I was come down into Leicestershire, my relations would have had me married, but I told them I was but a lad, and I must get wisdom. Others would have had me into the auxiliary band among the soldiery, but I refused; and I was grieved that they proffered such things to me, being a tender youth. Then I went to Coventry, where I took a chamber for a while at a professor's house till people began to be acquainted with me, for there were many tender people in that town.
And after some time I went into my own country again, and was there about a year, in great sorrows and troubles, and walked many nights by myself.
I went to another ancient priest at Mancetter in Warwickshire and reasoned with him about the ground of despair and temptations, but he was ignorant of my condition; and he bid me take tobacco and sing psalms. Tobacco was a thing I did not love and psalms I was not in an estate to sing; I could not sing. Then he bid me come again and he would tell me many things, but when I came again he was angry and pettish, for my former words had displeased him.Quaker Spirituality
Selected Writings. Copyright © by David G. HarperCollins Spiritual Classics. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.