CHAPTER 11
ORGANIZATION

THE persecutions which the Quakers suffered under the later Stuarts led to the organization of the Quaker movement into the Society of Friends. Under the Commonwealth a loose organization had developed for the promotion of evangelization and worship, the care of the poor and imprisoned and the oversight of the moral and spiritual welfare of the Children of the Light.

The general persecutions and illegal status of Friends after the Restoration increased the need that they should be able to bear a common witness and give one another mutual support. The imprisonment of the leaders interfered with the travelling ministry which had been the chief source of unity and power. The strain of persecution developed weaknesses in the membership and exaggerated tendencies to eccentricity in some members. Out of these needs grew the fuller organization of the movement, in order to provide a structure strong enough to withstand the external pressure and internal weaknesses and at the same time to resist the tendencies toward unrestrained individualism which were inherent in Quaker mysticism. The development of the Quaker organization during the Restoration period was conditioned chiefly by the struggle between these centrifugal and centripetal forces in the movement.1

During the Commonwealth period the Nayler episode

____________________
1
BSPQ, 228.

-126-

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