CHAPTER 4
THE PRINCIPLES OF FRIENDS

THE message which George Fox and his co-religionists brought to their contemporaries was not a system of doctrine. They had tapped afresh the sources of spiritual power in Christianity; they had found a new way of life, and they set out to live it uncompromisingly and to invite all men to share it.1 For them Christianity ceased to be a set of forms and "notions" that left the moral life practically untouched. It became the basis of a new type of firsthand experience. There is an intense feel of reality in their messages. George Fox asserted that he knew his religion "experimentally." Nayler describes thus his experience: "This is not a notion of what was done in another generation, past or to come, hundreds or thousands of years distant, but that which leads to . . . a new birth to light, without which none can see the Kingdom of God, nor enter therein."2 There must have been many in the churches of that generation, especially among the Puritans, to whom religion brought a vital experience. With most of them, however, the new energy was expended in personal piety expressed in the sanctioned religious forms; but with the Quakers the new experiences and devotion were channeled into new patterns of life.

The Quaker "publishers of Truth," as they styled them-

____________________
1
See Bicent. Jour., I, 316.
2
Works, pp. 429, 430.

-46-

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