“Hell above ground” makes an apt description of Newgate, London’s most notorious prison in the early 1800s. The men’s cells were despicable and the women’s even worse. According to one observer, the “horror, filth and cruelty would have disgraced even a slave ship.” First to assault the senses was the stench: daily human waste, menstrual blood, birthing blood, alcohol, vomit all saturated the floor straw and...Read More
THEY WERE KNOWN AS “Children of the Light” and “Publishers of Truth” and eventually simply as “Friends.” Like many believers of their day, Quakers sought to interpret and follow the Scriptures apart from established religious authorities. Their focus on the Inward Light of Christ in the believer distinguished them from both the established churches and other dissenting groups. William Penn described the Quaker...Read More
Friend : A Quaker
Birthright Friend : Originally, a person whose membership came from being born to Quaker parents; today, common shorthand for a lifelong Friend
Convinced Friend : A convert to Quakerism
Clerk : The person who presides over a meeting for business
Discipline : The collection of rules and advice by which Friends are expected to govern their lives and conduct business, now often called...
I OFTEN TELL STUDENTS bemused by the culture at the Quaker college where I teach that Friends are “lost in the sixties”—the 1660s !
The situation in England, where Quakerism began in the mid-seventeenth century, seemed as chaotic in those days as the 1960s seemed to Americans going through them. Distinctive principles and “testimonies” observed by Friends today are deeply rooted in the issues and debates that...Read More
IN 1785, at age 82, John Wesley wrote a wrenching letter to his 77-year-old brother Charles, who had for several years been openly critical of John’s leadership in the Methodist movement.
“Do not hinder me if you will not help,” the older brother scolded. “Perhaps, if you had kept close to me, I might have done better. However,...Read More
THEY WERE THE TWO GIANTS of the eighteenth-century evangelical revival. Fitting for men from a century known as the “Age of Reason,” both were university-trained, articulate defenders of faith they believed reasonable. But reason was not all. They saw love as the fountain and heart-warmed affections—we might use the word “emotions” today—as a stream (to use Edwards’s words) that waters an interior life that...Read More