Sunday, April 21, 2013

“The silent assemblies of God’s people…”

Robert Barclay (1648-1690), who wrote the first systematic exposition of Quaker theology, shows how knowledge comes from worship:

Not by strength of arguments or by a particular disquisition of each doctrine, and convincement of my understanding thereby, came [I] to receive and bear witness of the Truth, but by being secretly reached by [the] Life. For, when I came into the silent assemblies of God's people, I felt a secret power among them, which touched my heart; and as I gave way unto it I found the evil weakening in me and the good raised up; and so I became thus knit and united unto them, hungering more and more after the increase of this power and life whereby I might feel myself perfectly redeemed; and indeed this is the surest way to become a Christian; to whom afterwards the knowledge and understanding of principles will not be wanting, but will grow up so much as is needful as the natural fruit of this good root, and such a knowledge will not be barren nor unfruitful.

Quaker Faith and Practice, 19.21

“For, when I came into the silent assemblies of God’s people…” So it has proved to be for me. Thinking about Meeting for Worship this morning, immediately afterwards, I found that I had no words at all for what had passed, and yet I knew that it had been a profoundly affecting time – beyond describing, or even what we normally understand by memory. I know that I am different, that things I had failed to understand or admit to myself are now clear, as if a layer of dust or sediment had been blown clear, and yet I cannot explain to myself, let alone anyone else, how that might have happened. I find myself strangely weak, defenceless, and yet equally strangely at rest in God’s hand. Truly, the Spirit has ways we not only fail to understand, but have no means of understanding. Perhaps even Scripture is of little help to us here, except by showing us (e.g. John 3.8) how little we can expect to grasp of the Spirit’s ways. Robert Barclay comes far closer to it than I could hope to…

No comments:

Post a Comment