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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.


scripture and the inward teacher

54 Jesus then said to the Jews who had believed on him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

john 8: 31-32

55 Now the Lord God opened to me by his invisible power how that every man was enlightened by the divine light of Christ; and I saw it shine through all, and that they that believed in it came out of condemnation and came to the light of life and became the children of it, but they that hated it, and did not believe in it, were condemned by it, though they made a profession of Christ. This I saw in the pure openings of the Light without the help of any man, neither did I then know where to find it in the Scriptures; though afterwards, searching the Scriptures, I found it. For I saw in that Light and Spirit which was before Scripture was given forth… that all must come to that Spirit, if they would know God, or Christ, or the Scriptures aright.

george fox, 1648

56 There is that near you which will guide you. O! wait for it, and be sure to keep to it.…

isaac penington, 1678

57 That which the people called Quakers lay down as a main fundamental in religion is this, that God through Christ hath placed a principle in every man to inform him of his duty, and to enable him to do it; and that those that live up to this principle are the people of God, and those that live in disobedience to it are not God’s people, whatever name they may bear or profession they may make of religion. This is their ancient, first, and standing testimony.With this they began, and this they bore and do bear to the world.

william penn

58 As to John’s revelations, they are some of that apostle’s last writings, written at a time when he was far advanced in deep experience; and we find that the most deep and mysterious writings of the prophets and apostles are often couched in allegorical similes; therefore, it requires our coming to the same experience, rightly to comprehend or understand them; and hence, when I meet with parts or passages of scripture that I do not understand, I leave them until I may arrive at a state of deeper experience, by which means I have come clearly to comprehend and understand some things that, at a previous time, seemed mysterious to me.

elias hicks, 1820

59 Our society has had opportunity to learn, by sorrowful lessons, the danger of exalting too exclusively the Christ within, on one hand, and Christ without, on the other.We have need ever to guard alike against that refined and emasculated spirituality, which undervalues the Bible and the outward means of grace, and even the incarnation and sacrifice of the Son of God, and that no less fatal outwardness and superficiality which would substitute profession, and prescription, and ritual, for saving faith and all the soul-renewing and life-transforming verities of Christian experience, realized through the imparted energy of the Spirit of Christ within.

joel bean, 1880

60 To live the Sermon on the Mount, and the rest of the Gospel teaching, and in all things to listen for the living voice of the Good Shepherd, watching constantly that no human tradition direct our attention from it — this is our acknowledged aim and bond of union as a society. Our conviction of its sufficiency is the ground of our existence as a separate body.

caroline stephen, 1894

61 We must be alert that the warm coziness which we find enveloping us at Yearly Meeting and in our Monthly Meetings does not snare us into imagining that this is all of Quakerism. A vital religion is one which goes from an encounter with the love of God to an encounter in service to that love, no matter how hopeless the situation may be.

pacific yearly meeting, 1967

62 … I began to read the Bible in what I sometimes call the Quaker way — that is, reading with both the analytical mind and the intuitive mind leaving plenty of space for the Holy Spirit. On the one hand Biblical scholarship and all the light science can provide; on the other hand, savoring and resting in the meaning, pausing from time to time to stare off into space…

william taber, 1984

63 We understand the Bible, as a record arising from similar struggles to comprehend God’s ways with people. The same Spirit which inspired the writers of the Bible is the Spirit which gives us understanding of it: it is this which is important to us rather than the literal words of scripture. Hence, while quotations from the Bible may illuminate a truth for us, we would not use them to prove a truth.

london yearly meeting, to lima with love, 1987

64 All the beautiful psalms and other heavenly verses come from a source of inspiration. When we insist on waiting on that Source for ourselves, until we “meet” it, then, at such time, what we feel and say and do comes freshly from that Source. By such firsthand experience, we understand how those heavenly verses came to be written.When we prepare to read them next time, we sit by the Source and understand them better than before.

francis hole, 1995