The Missing Cross to Purity

Church Authority

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This [evil] spirit cries, "We must not judge conscience, we must not judge matters of faith,
we must not judge spirits, or religions."

In every age, the Lord will issue commands to the true church's leadership, to assure gospel order within its entirety. God is not a god of confusion, but the God of order. Because there are varying degrees of maturity in those who associate with the true church, those who have failed to grow up into a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, they are without unity of Spirit. Without unity of Spirit, their is not unity of opinion. Therefore there has to be some minimum rules established for the affairs of the true church. These rules are owned by all mature members, and all who are content to walk in holiness and righteousness; but will be opposed by some ambitious, immature members or those members who refuse to conduct themselves free of iniquity.

Introductory Note from - from William Sewel's 1695 History of a People Called Quakers

While persecution was on foot in England, there was some division among those called Quakers, which had its rise some years before. Those who first appeared to head it, were John Wilkinson and John Story, preachers among them, who showed themselves discontented against George Fox, chiefly about the management of church affairs, because things went not always so as they would have it; and since George Fox had been the first institutor of good order among his friends, he was the chief object of the envy of the malcontents. And because in the beginning there were no such meetings, or discipline, and yet they had lived in mutual peace and unity; it was asserted, that such meetings were needless, and that everyone ought to be guided by the Spirit of God in his own mind, and not to be governed by rules of man. By which it appeared, that they were against the establishing of any order of government in the church. But they were greatly bent against the women's meetings, who as deaconesses, met together at set times, to provide for poor families, and sick people that were in need. It is true, it was objected that in those meetings sometimes was debated what was not so convenient in every respect; because young women were admitted there also, to see and learn how matters were treated by the grave and ancient women; and what if some had been a little too forward to meddle with affairs properly belonging to the men! The creeping in of a wrong use can by no means justify the abrogating what is really useful; and that honest and ancient women took care for the poor and indigent members of the church, was indeed laudable. But as in great communities generally are found some men who love to govern, without being fit for it; so some of these soon adhered to Wilkinson and Story. Besides several others, who in-time of persecution, rather would have met privately, than have come into public meetings, and so be exposed to the fury of their enemies; and such also as rather would pay tithes to the priests, than suffer spoil or imprisonment for the refusal thereof. Therefore a schism rose or rent first in the north of England, and some who went under the denomination of Separatists, began to keep meetings by themselves, and so to leave their former friends, though they pretended to agree with them in matter of doctrine. To these Separatists afterwards fled all Quakers who could not maintain the commands of the Lord and the order of the Church, and therefore were unwilling to submit to church discipline. The common saying of these people had become, that everyone having received a measure of the Spirit of God, ought to regard only that leader, without minding any rules prescribed by others.

In process of time William Rogers and Thomas Crisp appeared in print against their former brethren, and upbraided them with every imprudent behavior, or inconsiderate act. Besides that, on mere hearsay, they published a multitude of untruths ; and decried even lawful things; an instance of which appeared when Rogers in paltry verses scornfully reviled them, that some sustenance had been given from the public cash to indigent preachers, who, to shun the neglect of their public ministry, could not daily mind their private affairs; though this supply never exceeded necessary provision. To this it was answered, that if it pleased God to call to his ministry persons of small estate, the church was not warranted to hinder it, and let such suffer want; since he, as Sovereign of the universe, could not be limited in the distribution of his gifts. Rogers would continually appeal to the primitive times, and to give some color to what they asserted, he and his adherents published a paper with Edward Burrough's name to it, who had been dead above twenty years; but George Whitehead and others gave good proofs, that the apostate John Perot, had been the author of so that much applauded paper. At length this rent appeared also in London, where likewise malcontents were not wanting, who not being strictly conscientious, would rather live without any restraint; and even some that were honest, were by fair words persuaded to separation; for among the Separatists, one Charles Harris preached, who was pretty fluent in speech, and not inelegant in his expressions, as I have seen and heard myself. But how specious so ever the pretence of these Separatists was, and whatever endeavors were made, yet they were not able to continue and subsist firmly; but at length they decayed and vanished as snow in the fields; for the best among them came in time to see that they had been deceived; and the less honest strew worse, for among themselves, they were not free from division; and though George Keith endeavored to skulk among them, yet he got no adherents there. I have often wondered how Wilkinson, Harris and Keith, (all of whom I have known), could apostatize to such a degree as they did. But yet this is not so exceeding strange as some may think it to be; for we had on record, that even in the primitive apostolical church, was an Alexander the coppersmith, and an Hymeneus and Philletus, who made shipwreck of the faith, and caused a rent, insomuch that it is said, their words would eat as did a canker.

The separatists soon came to nothing.

-end Sewell

From George Fox's Journal, Regarding the Wilkinson-Story Split

But that which added much to the grief and exercise of Friends was, that some, who made profession of the same truth with us, being gone from the simplicity of the gospel into fleshly liberty, and laboring to draw others after them, did oppose the order and discipline which God by his power had set up and established in his church; and made a great noise and clamor against regulations; by which they easily drew after them such as were loosely inclined, and desired a broader way than the path of truth to walk in. Also some of the more simple and young in truth, or weak in judgment, were likely to be betrayed by them, not knowing the depths of satan in these deceptive arguments; for whose sake I was moved to write the following paper, for the undeceiving the deceived, and opening the understandings of the weak in this matter:

All that deny regulations without prescriptions may as well deny all the scriptures, which were given forth by the power and spirit of God. For do they not prescribe how men should walk towards God and man, both in the Old Testament and in the New? Yes, from the very first promise of Christ in Genesis, what people ought to believe and trust in; and all along until you come to the prophets? Did not the Lord prescribe to his people by the fathers and then by his prophets? Did he not prescribe to the people how they should walk, though they turned against the prophets in the old covenant for declaring or prescribing to them the way how they might walk to please God, and keep in favor with him? In the days of Christ, did he not prescribe and teach how people should walk and believe? And after him, did not the apostles prescribe unto people how they might come to believe, and receive the gospel and the kingdom of God, directing unto that which would give them the knowledge of God, and how they should walk in the new covenant in the days of the gospel, and by what way they should come to the holy city? And did not the apostles send forth their decrees by faithful chosen men (that had hazarded their lives for Christ's sake), to the churches, by which they were established? So you, that deny prescriptions given forth by the power and spirit of God, do thereby oppose the spirit that gave them forth in all the holy men of God. 'Were there not some all along in the days of Moses, in the days of the prophets, in the days of Christ, and in the days of his apostles, who did resist that which they issued from the spirit of God? And has there not been similar opposition since the days of the apostles? How many have risen, since truth appeared, to oppose the order which stands in the power and spirit of God? Who are in nothing but the same spirit which has opposed the spirit of God all along from the beginning. See what names or titles the spirit of God gave that opposing spirit in the old covenant, and also in the new; which is the same now; for after the Lord had given forth the old covenant, there were some among them that did oppose; which were worse than public enemies. And likewise in the days of the new covenant, in the gospel times, you may see what sort opposed Christ and the apostles, after they came to some sight of the truth; and how they turned against Christ and his apostles? See what liberty they pleaded for and ran into in the apostles' days, who could not abide the cross, the yoke of Jesus. We see the same rough and high spirit that cries now for liberty (which the power and spirit of Christ cannot give) and cries "imposition," yet is imposing cries, "Liberty of conscience," and yet is opposing liberty of conscience; cries against prescriptions, and yet is prescribing both in words and writing. So with the everlasting power and spirit of God this spirit is fathomed: its rise, beginning, and end; and it is judged. This spirit cries, "We must not judge conscience, we must not judge matters of faith, we must not judge spirits, or religions." Yes, they that are in the pure spirit and power of God, which the apostles were in, judge of conscience, whether it be a seared conscience, or a tender conscience; they judge of faith, whether it be a dead one, or a living one; they judge of religion, whether it be vain, or pure and undefiled; they judge of spirits, and try them, whether they be of God, or not; they judge of hope, whether it be that of hypocrites, or the true hope that purifies, even as God is pure; they judge of belief, whether it be that which is born of God, and overcomes the world, or that which runs into the spirit of the world, which lusts to envy, and does not overcome the world; they judge of worships, whether they be will-worships, and the worship of the beast and dragon, or the worship of God in spirit and in truth; they judge of angels, whether they be fallen, or those that keep their habitation; they judge the world, that grieves and quenches the spirit, hates the light, turns the grace of God into wantonness, and resists the holy ghost. They judge of the hearts, ears and lips, which are circumcised, and which are uncircumcised. They judge of ministers, apostles, and messengers, whether they be of satan or of Christ. They judge of differences in outward things, in the church or elsewhere; yes, the least member of the church has power to judge of such things, having the one true measure and true weight to weigh things and with which to measure things without respect to persons. This judgment is given, and all these things are done by the same power and spirit the apostles were in. Such also can judge of election and reprobation; and who keep their habitation, and who don’t; who are Jews, and who are of the synagogue of satan; who are in the doctrine of Christ, and who are in the doctrines of devils; who prescribes and declares things from the power and spirit of God, to preserve all in the power and spirit of God, and who prescribes and declares things from a loose spirit, to let all loose from under the yoke of Christ, the power of God, into looseness and liberty. These likewise can judge and discern who brings people into the possession of the gospel of light and life, over death and darkness, and into the truth where the devil cannot get in; and who brings them into the possession of death and darkness, out of the glorious liberty of the gospel, and of Jesus Christ, his faith, truth, spirit, light, and grace. For there is no true liberty but in that; and that liberty answers the grace, the truth, the light, the spirit, the faith, the gospel of Christ in every man and woman, and is the yoke to the contrary in every man and woman. That makes it rage, and swell, and puff up; for that is restless, unruly, out of patience, and ready to curse his God, and that which reigns over him, because it has not its’ will. It works with all subtlety and evasion with its restless spirit, to get in and defile the minds of the simple, and rape the virgin minds. But as they receive the heavenly wisdom, by which all things were made (which wisdom is above that spirit), through this wisdom they will be preserved over that spirit. And Christ has given judgment to his saints in his church, though he be judge of all; and the saints, in the power and spirit of God, had and have power to judge of words and manners, of lives and conversations, growths, and states, from a child to a father in the truth; and to whom they are a savor of death, and to whom they are a savor of life; and who serve the Lord Jesus Christ, and preach him, and who preach themselves, and serve themselves; and who talk of the light, of faith, of the gospel, of hope, of grace, and preach such things; yet in their works and lives deny them all, and God, and Christ, and preach up liberty, from that in themselves to that in others, which should be under the yoke and cross of Christ, the power of God. So the saints in the power and spirit of Christ can discern and distinguish who serves God and Christ, and who serves him not; and can put a distinction between the profane and the holy. But such as have lost their eye salve, and their sight is grown dim, lose this judgment, discerning, and distinction in the church of Christ; and such come to be spewed out of Christ's mouth, except they repent: and if not, they come to corrupt the earth, and burden it, that it vomits them out of it. Therefore, all are exhorted to keep in the power and spirit of Christ Jesus, in the word of life and the wisdom of God, (which is above that which is below), in which they may keep their heavenly understandings and heavenly discernings; and so set the heavenly spiritual judgment over that which is for judgment, which dishonors God, which leads into loose and false liberty; out of the unity which stands in the heavenly spirit, which brings to be conformable to the image of the Son of God, and his gospel, the power of God, (which was before the devil was), and his truth, (which the devil is out of), in which all are of one mind, heart, and soul, and come to drink into one spirit, being baptized into one spirit, and so into one body, which Christ is the head of; and so keep one fellowship in the spirit, and unity in the spirit, which is the bond of peace, the Prince of princes' peace. And those who cry so much against judging, and are afraid of judgment, whether they be apostles, professors, or profane, are the most judging with the censorious false spirits and judgment; yet cannot bear the true judgment of the spirit of God, nor stand in his judgment. This has been manifest from the beginning, they having the false measures and the false weights, for none has the true measure and the true weight, but who keep in the light, power, and spirit of Christ. There is a loose spirit that cries for liberty, and against prescriptions, yet is prescribing ways, both by words and writings. The same spirit cries against judging, and would not be judged, yet is judging with a wrong spirit. This is given forth in reproof to that spirit.

George Fox

London, the 9th of the 4th month, 1678

The Lord's instruction received and communicated by William Dewsbury.

This is the word of the living God to his church that he has called and chosen out the world, to place his name in, to order and guide in his pure wisdom to his praise and glory, who alone is worthy, God over all, blessed forever.

That in every particular meeting Friends, there be chosen from among you, one or two who are most grown in the power and life, and in discernment in the truth, to take the care and charge over the flock of God in that place. And this is the word of the living God to you who are chosen: Watch over the flock of God, you to whom committed the charge and care; and take the oversight thereof, not by constraint but willingly, not for filthy lucre but of a ready mind. I charge and command you in the presence of the living God, not to rule as lords over God's heritage, but in the power of the Spirit in all purity. Be examples to the flock, and see that order is kept in the church, in constantly meeting together, according to the rule that has been given forth, that is say, once a week, or more, if it may be, besides the first-day meeting. And you are to have a general meeting with other Friends near you, once in two or three weeks, as the Lord orders and makes way.

Be not slack and backward, but faithful to the Lord, in improving every opportunity for Friends to meet; and, in every town where Friends are scattered, lay the charge and care on some Friends who are most grown the truth, to see that they meet together to wait on the Lord three or four hours, as the Lord orders it, one night or two in the week. And watch over one another with a pure, single eye, to see that those who come among them walk orderly, according to what they profess. And if any walk disorderly, let those to whom the care and charge is committed, or any other who discerns them, and is moved to speak to them, deal plainly with them in reproving them, ministering to that which is pure in the conscience, for the restoring of them. But, if they will not reform, acquaint two or three more who are most grown in the truth; or you to whom the charge and care of the flock is committed, with the other that did admonish them in tender love, admonish them again; and, with plainness of speech, minister to that which is pure in their consciences, to raise up the witness and to judge and cut down the deceit; that their souls may be saved and their nakedness covered. But if they still walk in disorder, when the church has met together, reprove them openly; and if they still do not reform, but walk in their filthiness, when the church has met together, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, charge them to depart from among you. So, cast them out, and have no union with them, not so much as to eat with them, until they repent, and turn to the Lord, and walk in obedience to that which is pure. If they do this, then receive them again: but if they still walk on in the stubbornness of their wills, and do not bend to that which is pure in their consciences, keep them forth, that no filthy person dwell in the house of God. Then will the blessing of the Lord God be with you.

And this is his word to you, see that there is not any in outward need in the church, and that all walk orderly in their places and callings. And if any root of bitterness spring up in any, which causes strife in their minds one against another, as soon as you know of it, call such before you and examine the matter strictly; and stand in the wisdom and power of God to guide you to judge the cause, and end it in righteousness. But if the cause is hard for you to discern, and the measure you are grown to cannot discern between the parties, I charge you, and command you, not to be hasty in the cause before you, to order it in your doubtful and dark minds: 'for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.' But send for some who are more grown in discerning, to judge the cause and end it in righteousness. Then will deceit be judged, and strife kept out, and the innocent set free to serve the Lord; and your union will be in Christ Jesus, where you will bring forth fruit, abiding in him; and through his blood you shall overcome the world in you and without, and shall reign as kings upon the earth. In the power of Christ you shall command the unclean spirit, in all his appearances within you and without; and he shall submit to the power of God in you, dwelling in Him who alone is power, and to whom all glory belongs forever.

The pure spirit of the most high God, rest upon you, whom he has chosen to watch over his flock; and his mighty power open the pure eye in you, to discern and separate between the precious and the vile, the holy and the unholy; and furnish you with courage and with boldness and wisdom to rule in the power of his spirit, to cut down all deceit, and to wash the disciples' feet, in bowing to the pure [mind] in the least appearance; and ministering to it, to strengthen the desire raised up towards the name of the Lord, until judgment is brought forth to victory. Then will you have unity together in that which is begotten of God, who reigns over all, blessed forever. Wisdom is justified of her children,

William Dewsbury

Further from George Fox's Journal:

My Dear Friends,

Keep your first love in the truth, power, and seed of life in Christ Jesus; for last night as I was lying in bed in Amsterdam, I had a great exercise in the holy seed of life and peace, and my spirit was troubled with that spirit of strife and separation. I saw it was a destroying spirit, and it sought not only to get over the seed, but to destroy it; and by strife and contention to eat out the minds of the people not joined to it. And under pretence of standing for the ancient truth, its work is to root it out and destroy the revealing to the world of it, and to set itself up in the place of truth. It is a creeping spirit, seeking whom it can convince; and what it cannot do itself, it stirs up others to do, and gets their spirits puffed up, with dark wisdom to destroy the simple. This spirit is managed by the prince of the air, and leads some to do things they would have been ashamed to have done, as men; it unmans them, and they would not have allowed these things, if they had kept to the tender principle of God, which leads to peace. It is a despising, backbiting, secret whispering spirit, a creator of dissension; and it takes advantage of all prejudiced spirits that are disobedient to their first principle and love and truth, and leads into hatred. So it leads all into that spirit, whose work is to destroy both the good within themselves and the good order around them. It would, if it could, destroy the government of Christ and the order of the gospel, to set up its own will and spirit, which is not of God; and under pretense of dismantling the pride of man, is increasing pride, and gathering into a separation of disobedient men, who live in presumption above their conditions. This spirit neither lives in the truth nor its order, but opposes those who do. The spirit and its work that I see are beyond words, and its end will be beyond words. Therefore, Friends, I am to warn you all that have not lost your simplicity, do not to touch it, or to join in anything with it, for fear you will be defiled, lose your conditions of your eternal estate, and your everlasting portion; and that your inward man, which is after God, may be preserved, and Christ may reign in all your hearts. And those who are joined with these dissenters will find it very hard for them to ever come down to truth in themselves, and to see their own conditions, and to have that spirit of strife and contention (which eats as a canker) brought down in them; which is carnal, and slays the tender child, which was once begotten in themselves. The Philistine has gotten up in them that stops up the wells and springs, makes a great noise, and is building up men and pleading for them instead of Christ. So, Friends, strive not with them, but let those take them who build them up. Keep yourselves to the Lord Jesus Christ with his light that comes from him that he may be your Lord; and you in him may be all in unity, in one light, life, power, and dominion in Christ your head. The God of peace and power preserve you all in Christ Jesus your Savior, and out of and from that evil spirit which is idle and slothful in regard to the work of the power, spirit, and light of God and Christ. Its very act works strife and disturbance against the peace of the church of Christ. It thinks in its willfulness, stubbornness, and unruliness to establish itself, and in that to have peace; but destruction will be the end of it; and it is sealed for the fire and eternal judgment. Therefore let Christ the seed be the head and crown of every one of you that nothing may be between you and the Lord God. Be not deceived with vain, insincere, or rough words; for satan is transforming himself as an angel of light to deceive; but God's foundation stands sure. And God knows who are his, and will preserve his upon the rock and foundation of life, in his peaceable truth and habitation; that in the same they may grow. Keep out of strife and contention with these people. After you have borne your testimony in the Lord's power and truth against this spirit, then keep in the truth; for this evil spirit has a life in contention, strife, and arguing, because it would enlarge its hell, and bring others into its misery with the airy power. It seeks to get power over the good and separate people from the good, and so commit rapes upon the simple by its subtlety. But I do believe the Lord will defend his people, though he may try and exercise those of his spirit for a time, as he has done in days past using other people; as he does of these now, (who seem to be fair from the outside, but are foul, rough, and rugged within), against the seed Christ; like the Pharisees tried to destroy Christ. Under a pretense of preaching Christ, they destroy and crucify him and kill the just, not only in themselves, but are trying with all their efforts to destroy him in others where he is born. Pharaoh and Herod killed the young Jews in the spirit of old; I feel it tearing at them. That spirit crowns itself to be king, without knowing the suffering of Joseph. But God will plague him, and the seed will have more rest, and be better entertained in Egypt than under Herod, (Jesus’ parents fled to Egypt to escape Herod’s infanticide),  into whom old Pharaoh's spirit had entered. He that has an ear to hear let him hear, and an eye to see let him see how this spirit has transformed in all ages against the just and righteous; but mark what has been its end. The seed reigns; glory to the Lord God over all forever! His truth spreads, and Friends here are in unity and peace, and of good report, answering the good or that of God in people. My desires are, that all God's people may do the same in all places, that the Lord may be glorified in their producing much fruit that is heavenly and spiritual. Amen.

George Fox
Amsterdam, the 25th of the 7th month, 1677

Site Editor's Comment: Consider these wise words of William Penn, written in response to John Perot's run out from truth, stating that his inner light had shown him, in conflict to the Quaker practice, that removing his hat in prayer was wrong. Penn writes:

It is stated that men may acknowledge and believe the doctrine of the inward light of Christ, and yet mistake the suggestions of their own dark imaginations for the leadings of this divine light; and yet neither the profession nor the belief of being guided by it, can exempt those who are not really led by it, from the just judgment of those who are. If the mere profession of being led by the spirit of Truth could exonerate those who are strangers to it from the judgment and censure of such as actually walk in the Spirit, a door would be opened to all kinds of libertinism. Though it is the duty of all to walk in the light, and to wait for it, that by it they may be instructed in the way of life and salvation, yet it is they only who are actually led* by it (the light), that can rightly discern between the false spirits and the true.

* To be guided or led by the light, the light must first arise in your heart like a magnificent star, so that you are shown everything to do and told everything to say; the unmistakable arising of the light comes from faith in the voice.

The early Quaker government had one principal guarding tenet: make no changes unless the elder members of the assembly or church agree. When a less mature member, with pride still alive, seizes on some revelation that conflicts with the elders' spiritual understandings, that less mature member must defer, or else there will be chaos in the church. For certain, Satan will always attempt to introduce by stealth subtle changes, one by one, until he had defeated the order and unity of the church. The deferral to elder's guidance is the only safeguard.

Today we hear Christians throughout the world, and particularly within the modern Quaker ranks, stating their justification for almost any social action or political stance: I feel called to do it. Without spiritually mature members in control, who can argue with their call, particularly if neither party recognizes the authority of the scriptures that conflict with the call.

From George Fox's Letter 251:

And all such as cry, 'Away with your laws, we will have none of your laws.'
To such as come to the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus,
which makes free from the law of sin and death,
and puts down that authority;
which life was before death and sin were, and remains when they are gone;
and in the life in Christ Jesus,
is the saints' fellowship and unity and bond of peace.
All such as cry against laws so much, are the sons of Belial,
and would be without the yoke of the law of the son of God.
Such always were the stirrers up of mischief and schism from the body,
and they took liberty to say any thing;
as you may read in the book of Kings,
in the days of Jezebel, and in the days of Stephen;
and yet these that cry so much against laws,
yet they live themselves in the law of sin and death;
which they obey when they do evil;
who are without the understanding of the righteous law,
which the righteous live in and see.
Therefore, such must be exhorted and reproved,
if they go under the name of Quakers, and are not in the life.

George Fox

William Penn Speaks:

Like Fox, William Penn was always in favor of the discipline, without which, he said, there would be nothing but confusion. It would never do, he said, to accept Wilkinson's and Story's plea, "What have you to do with me? Leave me to my freedom and to the grace of God in myself:" One might say I see no evil in “paying tithes to a hireling priest;" another, I see no evil in "hiding in times of persecution," or in "marrying by the priest," or in “keeping my shop shut upon the world's holidays and mass days," or in "declining public testimony in suffering times;" and so the society would be broken up and scattered.

George Fox Again:

I wrote several things during this time relating to the service of truth, one which was concerning judging; for some, who had departed from the truth, were so afraid of truth's judgment, that they made it their business to cry out against judging. Therefore I wrote a paper, proving by the scriptures of truth, that the church of Christ has power and ability to judge those who profess to be part of it, not only with respect to outward things relating to this world, but with respect to religious matters also. A copy of which follows:

Concerning Judging.

The natural man receives not the things of the spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned; but he that is spiritual judges all things (mark) all things, yet he himself is judged by no man." 1Cor 2:14-15. So the natural man cannot judge those things he receives not, for they are foolishness to him; but he and his foolishness are understood by the spiritual man, and is judged, though he cannot judge the spiritual man.

“Do not you judge them that are within?" said the apostle. This power the church had and has, "therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.” Do you not think this wicked person professed and pleaded for liberty for his wickedness and his freedom, since he was a Christian who was a member of the church?

The apostle said, "For truly, even though I am absent in body, I am present in spirit and have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him who has done this wicked deed." 1Cor5:3-12. Here the apostle did judge, though from a distance, and set up judgment in the church against false liberty, under whatever pretence.

And the apostle said, "Dare any of you, having a matter against a brother, go to law before the unjust and not before the saints?" Here the saints, the church, are to judge of things among themselves, and not the unjust to judge of their matters. "Do you not know the saints shall judge the world?" So the saints are to judge the unjust, and not the unjust to judge their own matters.

And farther the apostle said, "If the world shall be judged by you (to wit, the saints) are you unworthy to judge the smaller matters among you?"

It is clear that the saints have a judgment given them from Christ, by his power and spirit, light and wisdom, to judge the world, and not to carry their matters before the unjust, but to judge of them among themselves: and if they carry them before the unjust, they show their unworthiness of the saints' judgment.

Again, "Know you not, that we shall judge the angels?” (and angels are spirits) how much more the things which pertain to this life?

“If you then have judgment of things pertaining to this life, appoint as judges those who have least esteem in the church." 1Cor 6:4. Here it is clear the church of Christ has a judgment in the power and spirit of God, not only to judge in "things that pertain to this life;" but also to judge of things between brethren, without brother going to law with brother before unbelievers; which was a fault, and to be judged, if they did so.

Site Editor's Comment: And such judgments are to be made by all of the saints, not just Apostles. As Paul says: "Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life! Therefore, if you have disputes about such matters, appoint as judges even men of little account in the church." 1 Cor 6:3-4

But all the saints have a judgment to judge angels that kept not their habitations, and the world. Jude "judged the angels that kept not their habitations, their first state." Did not he judge in spiritual matters here? He judged the state of Cain, Balaam, and Korah, and such Christians who went into their ways, and were gone as far as they (Cain, Balaam, and Korah) though they professed themselves Christians. Here again he judged in spiritual matters, and of their states and beings, who stood in the divine principle, and who were fallen from it.

The apostle said, "Try the spirits, and believe not every spirit." 1John4:1-6. Here again was a judgment in divine matters. And he judged those who went out from them, who while they were with them had revelations of things and understandings, but when they went from them, they went from the anointing. Therefore he exhorts the saints to keep to the anointing. Those who went from them who had the anointing, then came to be the seducers and false prophets that went into the world.

John had a judgment to try sacrifices, and distinguished Cain's from Abel's, and by the spirit of God knew which God accepted, and which he did not accept. 1 John 3:12. Paul judged and tried such messengers and apostles, and those who imitated  apostles of Christ, and would have the church to try such, and have the same judgment as he had. 2 Cor11:4-5.

Peter judged Ananias and Sapphira and the thoughts of Simon Magus who would have been a worker of miracles for money. Are not these examples of Peter judging spiritual matters? The apostle Paul judged the preachers of circumcision both in Romans and Galatians. Even  though these preachers preached circumcision through their faith and liberty in Christ, it was clearly a wrong faith. Again, is this not an example of an apostle judging in spiritual matters?

James judged in matters of faith, and manifested the living faith from the dead one. He also judged in matters of religion, the vain religion from the pure religion, and distinguished them.

Paul judged of the "false brethren who would spy on the liberty of the true brethren. We did not give into them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might continue with the saints." Gal 2:4. Did not the apostle here judge in spiritual matters? And he judged concerning the matters of the gospel, when some came to pervert them with another gospel, and said, "The gospel which I received is not from any man, neither was I taught it; rather I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ." Gal 1:12. So here was a judgment to distinguish the gospel of Christ from all other gospels which were accursed; which are made up by man, received from man, and taught by man, and not by the revelation of Jesus Christ. Gal 1:11-12. And he had judgment to know, "Who made the gospel chargeable, and who kept it without charge."

He set up a judgment in the church, that the believers should not be unequally yoked, and to see when men had a communion in the light, and when they had it in darkness; when with Christ and when with Baal, with the believer and unbeliever, with the temple of God, and with idols, as in 2 Cor 6:14-16. Did he not set up a clear judgment here in spiritual matters in the church?

And the apostle judged such libertines (those without restraint) who through their knowledge and liberty could eat in the idol’s temple, but which caused the weak brother to perish, for whom Christ died. These, it is likely, professed it was their faith, and their liberty, yet did not keep in the unity of the true faith, but went astray to destroy it. 1 Cor 8

Peter gives judgment upon the angels that sinned and were cast down into hell, of the state of the old world, and of Sodom, and the state of the false prophets then among them, who could speak great swelling words of vanity, and while they promised them liberty were themselves the servants of corruption. Did not Peter here judge in spiritual  matters? These were such, whose work was to bring into bondage; being like the dog and sow that were washed; which shows that they had been washed, but were turned into the mire again. The apostle Paul had a judgment upon such with their fair words and men's wisdom, which deceived the hearts of the simple and upon such "as served not the Lord Jesus Christ, but their own bellies, and were enemies to the cross of Christ." He had a judgment and discerning who lived in the cross of Christ, and who did not, and exhorted all to live in the cross of Christ, the righteous power of God, that slew all deceit and the deeds of the old man; agreeable to Christ's words, "He that will be my disciple, must take up his cross, and follow me." Was not here a judgment again in spiritual matters, of those who walked in the divine power, and those who did not?

Christ sets up a judgment in his seven churches, and praised those who kept in his judgment, and had tried them which said, "They were apostles," who might pretend they were sent of God and Christ and were not; but the church of Christ had found them liars. Christ praised this judgment of the church of Ephesus because they had "not borne with them that were evil, but had tried those false apostles;" and Christ commends this church who had "hated the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which he also hated;" and had not these Nicolaitans sprung from Nicholas, one of the deacons? And were not those become a sect of christians? Though they might talk and preach of Christ, yet Christ hated their doctrine.

Christ said to the church of Smyrna, "I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews, and are not; but are of the synagogue of satan." So the church is to have a judgment upon these blasphemers, and is to distinguish the Jews in the spirit from those who are not, but of the synagogue of satan.

The church in Pergamos Christ had a "few things against, because, (said he), you have there those who hold the doctrines of Balaam, etc. And also those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which I hate." Those who held the doctrine of Balaam, and the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, had gotten into the church, and might look upon themselves to be high Christians, and take great liberty to go into Balaam's and Nicholas' doctrine, which was hated by Christ; but the church was to keep a spiritual and divine judgment upon the heads of all these.

To the church of Thyatira, said Christ, "I have a few things against you, because you allow the woman Jezebel to teach, who seduces my people," etc. Here was an allowing which should have been a judgment by Christ's spirit upon that Jezebel who was erred from his spirit, and so from Christ. Such as these were high preachers. Is not the church to beware of allowing such now, for fear that she should come under the reproof of Christ for not passing judgment against the false teacher and seducer?

The church of Sardis "had a name to live, but was dead, and her works were not found perfect before God." There is a judgment to be set up in the church, to judge all imperfect works, and those who would have the name ‘Christian’, but not the nature; a name to live yet are dead. The life of every member of the true church must be in Christ their life. These living members live to his name. This church had a few names "who had not defiled their garments, that walked in white;" but such as have a name to live but are dead, while they are in a dead state cannot walk in white, nor judge in spiritual matters. "Behold," said Christ, "I will make them of the synagogue of satan, which say they are Jews, but are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before my feet."

And to the church of Laodicea, that was "neither hot nor cold, but lukewarm; I would you were either hot or cold: I will spew you out of my mouth, because you said you were rich, and wanted for nothing;" when they were "wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked." This was because they did not live in the power and spirit of Christ. These could talk of high experiences and great enjoyments, but were naked, miserable, and blind; so lived not in the power, spirit, light, and righteousness of Christ, by which they might be clothed, and have the eternal riches. So the church of Christ had a spiritual judgment given to those who are faithful in his power and spirit and light, to judge material things and the things of this life, and to judge spiritual, eternal and divine things and states; and of angels and wicked men, and those who go from truth; and of the states of election and reprobation, yes and of the devils who are out of truth. These were to judge, who were in Christ Jesus who is the first and last, from whom they have the eternal judgment, to judge eternal, spiritual, and divine things. And in this word of power and wisdom, by which all things were made and are upheld, they are to order all things to God's glory, and to judge of all things in righteousness.

The apostle judged, and set up a judgment in the church, of gifts, of prophecies, of mysteries, of faith, and of giving the body to be burned, and of giving goods to the poor, and of speaking with tongues of men and angels. That if they not have love, all this was nothing, but they were as a sounding brass and tinkling cymbal. Therefore they are to be tried by the fruits of the good spirit, which is love. The apostle not only judged himself in spiritual matters, but set up a judgment in the church in those spiritual and divine matters.

The apostle James judges between fountains (fresh water or bitter) and of fig-trees, (bearing fruit other than figs) of the wisdom below, and of the wisdom from above and the fruits of both. James 3:11-17. And Paul judged in spiritual matters, when he said, "The spirit spoke expressly, that in the latter times some should depart from the faith.” 1Tim 4:1. He judged in spiritual matters, when he judged all those teachers who were high minded, and had the form of godliness, but denied the power, and termed them like Jannes and Jambres, which withstood Moses coming out of outward Egypt, as these with their form of godliness oppose Christ and his power that brings them out of spiritual Egypt now. Was not he a judge here in spiritual matters, who judged such as had gotten the form of godliness but denied the divine power? 2 Tim 3:4-8

When the apostle Paul said, "The priesthood of Aaron was changed, and the law was changed, and the commandment annulled, that gave them their tithes," did he not judge in divine and spiritual matters? And was not the law spiritual, which served until the seed came?

Did not the apostle judge in divine and spiritual matters in the sixth of the Hebrews, where he said, "Let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith towards God, and of the doctrines of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of the resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment; and this will we do, if God permit," And does not the apostle judge here, "That it was impossible for those who were once enlightened, and tasted of the heavenly gift, and were partakers of the holy ghost, and had tasted of the good word of God, and of the power of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance, since they had crucified to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to open shame?” Heb 6:1-6. Were not these spiritual, eternal, and divine matters and states that the apostle judged of? And do not the saints have the same judgment given to them in the same spirit? Have not the apostles and the church a spiritual judgment to judge of prophets, mysteries, faith, apostles, angels, world, and the devil? And is not this judgment given to them from God in spiritual matters, besides the judgment given them in matters pertaining unto this life?

And did they not have to discern the true gospel from the false? And all those who had a profession of the form, and did not live in the power? And those who spoke of the things of God, in the words that man's wisdom taught? Which things of God were not to be spoken in the wisdom which man's words taught; but in the word which the Holy Spirit taught. Therefore did not the apostle exhort to know the power, and that their faith might stand in the power of God? That the kingdom of God stands not in word, but in power?

Had not all the prophets a judgment to judge in spiritual matters? As did Jeremiah, when he judged the prophets; Jer 23:14-16 and as Ezekiel judged all those who came with a pretence of the word of the Lord, using their tongues, and saying, "thus said the Lord; when the Lord never spoke to them." Eze 13. (and many other places that might be instanced). Did he not judge Hananiah, who prophesied falsely? And did not this Hananiah pretend to speak the word of the Lord to the priests and people? Jer 28:13-17

Did not Isaiah judge in spiritual matters, when he judged the watchmen and the shepherds? Isa 56:10-11. Did not Micah judge in divine and spiritual matters, when he said, he "was full of the power by the spirit of the Lord, and of judgment? "Did not he judge priests, prophets, and judges, though they would lean upon the Lord, and say, is not the Lord among us, and no evil can come to us; yet did he not let them see their states and conditions, and "divided the precious from the vile?" Micah 3. And so you may see the rest of the prophets also judged in spiritual matters for God, "who served him, and who served him not; who lived in truth, and who not;" and the apostles did likewise. And this divine, spiritual, heavenly judgment was given of God to his holy men and women.

Those who judge in God's divine matters, must live in his divine spirit, power, and light now, as they did then. This spiritual and divine judgment Christ has given to his church, the living stones, and living members, that make up his spiritual household; to try Jews, apostles, and prophets; to try faiths and religions, trees and fruits, shepherds and teachers, and to try spirits. So the living members have a living divine judgment in the church of Christ, which he is the head of, the judge of all.

The church also has a power given to them, which is greater than judging; for what they "bind on earth is bound in heaven by the power of God; "and what they loose on earth is loosed in heaven by the power of God." This power Christ has given to his living members, the church.

George Fox to Friends

The 20th of the 12th month, 1685-6

Postscript from William Penn's Introduction to George Fox's Journal:

He [Fox] was of an innocent life, no busy-body, nor self-seeker, neither touchy nor critical; what fell from him was very inoffensive, but very edifying. So meek, contented, modest, easy, steady, tender, that it was a pleasure to be in his company. He exercised no authority except over evil, and did that everywhere and with all; but with love, compassion, and long suffering. A most merciful man, as ready to forgive as he was unlikely to take or give an offence. Thousands can truly say, he was of an excellent spirit and savor among them, and because of this, the most excellent spirits loved him with an unfeigned and unfading love.

But as in the early church, some rose up against the blessed apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, even from among those who they had turned to the hope of the gospel, and who became their greatest trouble. Similarly this man of God had his share of suffering from some who had been convinced by him, who through prejudice or mistake, opposed him as one who sought dominion over conscience; because he pressed, by his presence or epistles, a ready and zealous compliance with such good and wholesome things as tended to an orderly conversation about the affairs of the church, and in their walking before men. That which contributed much to this hostile opposition, was in some an envy of the love and esteem he had and deserved in the hearts of the people; their groundless suggestions of his imposition and blind obedience must be attributed to their weakness.

They would have had every man independent, that as he had the principle in himself, he should only stand and fall to that and nobody else; not considering that the principle is one in all. Though the measure of light or grace might differ, yet the nature of it was the same; and being so, they struck at the spiritual unity, which a people guided by the same principle are naturally led into. So that what is evil to one is evil to all, and what is virtuous, honest, and of good report to one, is so to all, from the sense and savor of the one universal principle which is common to all. Even the disloyal* also profess this principle to be the root of all true Christian fellowship, and that spirit into which the people of God drink, and come to be spiritually minded, and of one heart and one soul.

* Site Editor's Note: But these independent minded could not accept others being more mature in Christ, and therefore with greater wisdom and instruction regarding God’s plan for order and unity in the body of Christ, worthy of submitting to their judgment. They were so immature that the Spirit of God could not even correct them.

When anyone rebelled, always against the traditional practice of the Society, and failed to defer to the senior members' judgments, they were not coddled, (as consistently happened later to the great detriment of the Society, probably for lack of certainty and maturity in the leadership), they were condemned quickly, to prevent the spread of the cancer. Per William Penn wrote regarding the schism of Wilkinson who argued against singing, women's meetings, and church discipline in general. Penn, insisted on the Quakers' firm repudiation of these people without negotiation, in writing a letter to the Assemblies as follows: (which show his strength in the Society),

To Friends everywhere, concerning the present Separatists, and their spirit of separation.


By a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm, has the Lord God everlasting gathered in to be a people, and in his own power and life has He preserved us a people to this day; and praises be to his eternal name! No weapon that has yet been formed against us, either from without or from within, has prospered.

Now, this I say to you, and that in his counsel who has visited us; whoever goes out of the unity with their brethren, are first gone out of unity with the power and life of God in themselves, in which the unity of the brethren stands; and the least member of the body in the unity stands on the top of them, and has a judgment against them. To which judgment, of both great and small among the living family that in unity are preserved, they must bow before they can come into the unity again. Yes, this they will readily do, if they have come into unity with the life and power of God in themselves, which is the holy root that bears the tree, the fruit, and the leaves, all receiving life and virtue from it, and thereby are nourished to God's praise.

I feel this unruly spirit is tormented under the stroke and judgment of the power, and in its subtlety is seeking occasion against the instruments, by whom the power gave it forth. Let all have a care how they touch with this spirit in those workings, for by being one with this spirit in judging those who have been faithful, according to the gift of wisdom they have received from God, they will feed it and fortify it, and in the end come to be one with it against the power itself, and at last run out and become open enemies and despisers, for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness unless they repent. Therefore, all that labor for the restoration of those who are out of unity with the brethren, let them be such as are of a sound mind themselves, else what will they gather to? Or what will they gather from? And let them labor in the simplicity, integrity, love, and zeal of the power that first gathered us to God. For that which is rightly gotten will endure, but that which is obtained by the contrivance, interest, and persuasions of men gets no further than man.

Therefore, let none look out of the Seed for help, for all power is in it, and there the true light and judgment stand forever, and that Seed only has God ordained to bruise the serpent's head. Therefore, let us be still, and trust and confide in it forever. Let none look back, faint, or consult, for if they do, they will darken their pure eye and lose their way.

As all would stand before the Lord and his people, let not this spirit be reasoned with at all; do not enter into proposals and articles with it, but feed it with judgment; that is God's decree. So may the souls that are deceived, come by the right door into the heavenly unity.

My brethren, look forwards, and lift up your eyes, for the fields are even white to harvest, up and down the nations. Let us all who have received the gift from God, wait in deep humility to be raised up and empowered by Him more and more, to eye and prosecute his universal service in the world; to whose appearance the kings and kingdoms of the Gentiles shall bring their glory. Which noble work, had those who are gone into the separation but laid deeply to heart, they would never have sat at home murmuring, fretting, and quarrelling against the comely and godly order and practice of their brethren; but love, peace, and joy had filled their hearts, and not the troubler and accuser of the brethren, who hath opened an evil eye in them, and begotten them into a discontented, self-separating mind, and this image they bear, and the pure eye sees it.

O let none tempt the Lord ! Let us all dwell in that divine sense that He has begotten in us, where our love, as a fresh and pure stream, will always flow to God and to one another. Here all his ways are pleasantness and all his paths are peace; for where He keeps the house, who is Prince of peace. He will keep all in his heavenly peace. We are but as one family, and therefore we have but one Lord and Master. We are but as one flock, and we have but one heavenly Shepherd to hear, who goes before us, and gives us eternal life to follow Him. If any are offended in Him or in his, it is their own fault; if they faint and grow weary, we are truly sorry; if through the lack of watchfulness the enemy has entered, begotten coldness to the brethren, and carelessness of embracing the opportunities by which the unity is renewed and increased, so that what is done by the brethren without them is looked upon, first with a slight eye and then with an evil eye, which begets distance, and this distance in time a separation, and separation continued brings forth enmity, and this enmity death itself, we are in our spirits truly grieved for them. However, the judgment of God must stand against them, and that spirit that leads them, in which they gather not to God but to themselves.

Enter not into disputes and contests with it; it is that it seeks and loves; but go on in your testimony and business for the Lord, in the Lord's peaceable power and spirit, and his blessings and presence of life shall be with you. We can say it of a truth, 'God is good to Israel and to all that are of an upright heart.'

Your faithful friend and brother in the service of our dear Lord,

William Penn

Today we hear Christians throughout the world, and particularly within the modern Quaker ranks, stating their justification for almost any social action or political stance: I feel called to do it, some claiming the Light leading them. Without spiritually mature members in control, who can argue with their call, particularly if both parties do not recognize the authority of the scriptures that often plainly conflict with the supposed call. The height of arrogance is for one to assume that their maturity and/or measure in Christ could not be surpassed by any others, and therefore anything someone else had to say was no more important than their opinion. As Isaac Penington so correctly stated:

And Friends, you that are weak, bless God for the strong; you that have need of a pillar to lean upon, bless God, that has provided pillars in his house; and, in fear and the guidance of his Spirit, make use of these pillars; who are faithful, and have ability from God, in his power and glorious presence with them, to help to sustain his building, even as they had ability from the Lord to gather unto him. He that despises him that is sent, despises Him that lent him; and he that undervalues any gift, office, or work, that God has bestowed upon any person, despises the wisdom and disposal of the Giver. Are all fathers? Have all overcome the enemy? Are all grown up in the life? Are all stars in the firmament of God's power? Has God made all equal? Are there not different states, different degrees, deferent growths, different places, etc.?

Then, if God has made a difference, and given degrees of life, and gifts different, according to his pleasure; what wisdom and spirit is that, which does not  acknowledge this, but would make all equal? Oh my Friends! Fear before the Lord; honor the Lord in his appearances, and in the differences which he has made among the children of men, and among his people. He gave prophets of old, and the rest of the people were not equal with them. He gave evangelists, apostles, pastors, teachers, etc., and the other members of the churches were not equal with them. He has given fathers and elders now, and the babes and young men are not  equal with them. Thus it is, in truth, from the Lord; and what is of God in you, will so acknowledge it.

Therefore watch, everyone, to feel and know his own place and service in the body, and to be sensible of the gifts, places, and services of others; that the Lord may be honored in all, and everyone owned and honored in the Lord, and not otherwise.

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