The Beginnings of Quakerism

By William C. Braithwaite | Go to book overview

INTRODUCTION

By RUFUS M. JONES

THE researches of recent years conclusively show that the movement, known in History as Quakerism, was part of a very much wider religious movement which had for many years been gathering volume and intensity, and which had prepared the way, especially in England, for this particular type of lay-religion. I have endeavoured to trace, in my Studies in Mystical Religion, one powerful line of influences which helped to form the religious sects of the Commonwealth period and the peculiar religious atmosphere which prevailed at that time. I am now engaged upon a second volume of Studies, which will, I hope, trace out other great lines of formative influence, and make much clearer than heretofore the spiritual conditions and environment of that creative epoch in which Quakerism was born.

It is not yet, and probably will not ever be, possible to prove that George Fox and the other leaders of this special movement consciously adopted their ideas and methods, their peculiar testimonies and form of organization, from the Separatist sects which swarmed about them, and which were the product of many centuries of striving after an inward way to God. George Fox was not a reader of books other than the Bible, nor a student of movements, and he reveals in his writings very slight direct acquaintance with the formative literature of mystical religion. This is true also of Dewsbury, Nayler, Howgill, Burrough, and the other early makers of

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