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Faith and Practice

Pacific Yearly Meeting

of the

Religious Society of Friends

a guide to quaker discipline in the experience of pacific yearly meeting of the religious society of friends.
published 2001

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iii: testimony and experience of friends

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Faith and Experience

pym in context
quaker faith & spiritual practice
testimony & experience of friends
organization of the society
activities & organization of the YM
sources of quotations
index of sources
subject index

We gratefully acknowledge the generosity of Friends who have permitted us to use material for this Faith and Practice.



1 As you have received the light from Christ Jesus, the fountain and fullness of all light and life, so abide in the light, dwell in the light, walk in the light, have your being and habitation in the light. Life and immortality moves in the light, so wait every one in your measure for the manifestation of God, his will is revealed in the light.

margaret fell, 1658

2 If but one man or woman were raised up by His power to stand and live in the same spirit that the Apostles and Prophets were in, who gave forth the Scriptures, that man or woman should shake all the country in their profession for ten miles round.

george fox

3 The sum and substance of true religion does not stand on getting a notion of Christ’s righteousness, but in feeling the power of the endless life, receiving the power, and being changed by the power. And where Christ is, there is his righteousness.

isaac penington

4 Answer the Witness of God in every man, whether they are heathen that do not profess Christ, or whether they are such as do profess Christ that have the form of godliness and be out of the Power.

george fox

5 The gospel religion is very precious, being inwardly felt and experienced in the life and power of it, but a bare profession of it, out of the life and power of godliness, is of no value in the sight of God, nor is it of any profit or advantage to the soul.

isaac penington

6 The humble, meek, merciful, just, pious, and devout souls are everywhere of one religion; and when death has taken off the mask they will know one another, though the divers liveries they wear here makes them strangers. This world is a form; our bodies are forms; and no visible acts of devotion can be without forms. But yet the less form in religion the better, since God is a Spirit; for the more mental our worship, the more adequate to the nature of God; the more silent, the more suitable to the language of the Spirit.

william penn, 1693

7 The unity of Christians never did nor ever will or can stand in uniformity of thought and opinion, but in Christian love only.

thomas story, 1737

8 There is a principle which is pure, placed in the human mind, which in different places and ages hath had different names. It is, however, pure and proceeds from God. It is deep and inward, confined to no forms of religion nor excluded from any, where the heart stands in perfect sincerity. In whomsoever this takes root and grows, of what nation soever, they become brethren in the best sense of the expression.

john woolman, 1746

9 When the pride of the heart is laid low, when the activity of human reasoning is quieted, when the soul is reduced to a state of silent subjection in the presence of its Creator, then is this “still small voice” intelligibly heard, and the word of the Lord, as it is inwardly revealed to us, becomes “a lamp” unto our “feet” and “a light” unto our “paths.”

joseph john gurney

10 Meister Eckhart wrote, “As thou art in church or cell, that same frame of mind carry out into the world, into its turmoil and its fitfulness.” Deep within us all there is an amazing inner sanctuary of the soul, a holy place, a Divine Center, a speaking Voice, to which we may continuously return. Eternity is at our hearts, pressing upon our time-torn lives, warming us with intimations of an astounding destiny, calling us home unto Itself. Yielding to these persuasions, gladly committing ourselves in body and soul, utterly and completely, to the Light Within is the beginning of true life.

thomas r. kelly, 1941

11 I should like to change the name ‘seekers’ to ‘explorers’. There is a considerable difference there: we do not ‘seek’ the Atlantic, we explore it. The whole field of religious experience has to be explored, and has to be described in a language understandable to modern men and women.

ole olden, 1955

12 We all know the fruits of the Spirit, and recognise the beauty of holiness in our own ancestral tree.… the flowers of unselfish living may be found growing in other men’s (people’s) gardens and rich fruits of the spirit may be tasted from other men’s trees. They spring from the same Holy Spirit of Truth, the same seed of God, whose power moves us through Christ.

marjorie sykes, 1959

13 The first Friends had an apocalyptic vision of the world transformed by Christ and they set about to make it come true. The present generation of Quakers shares this conviction of the power of the spirit, but it is doubtful whether it will transform the world in our lifetime, or in that of our children or children’s children. For us it is not so important when the perfect world will be achieved or what it will be like.What matters is living our lives in the power of love and not worrying too much about the results. In doing this, the means become part of the end. Hence we lose the sense of helplessness and futility in the face of the world’s crushing problems. We also lose the craving for success, always focusing on the goal to the exclusion of the way of getting there.We must literally not take too much thought for the morrow but throw ourselves whole-heartedly into the present. That is the beauty of the way of love; it cannot be planned and its end cannot be foretold.

wolf mendl, 1974

14 There is just one further analogy between families and religious movements that must be noted. Families die out. So do religious movements. But here the analogy ends. For the end of a family line is usually a natural thing — too few marriages, too few children, epidemic disease. A religious movement, however, dies only when the Spirit that gave it birth is lost to the movement, when the movement itself turns away from the eternal Spirit which is its reason for being.

gordon m. browne, jr., 1986

15 … I am clear that we are a branch of the Christian church, even if to the majority of orthodox Christians our particularities may put us beyond the pale. Our capacity to hold within our fellowship those who cannot declare themselves Christian is part of our particular witness, not least to the Churches.

quoted by roger sturge, 1998