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Among the Quakers

by C. H. Spurgeon
From the December 1866 Sword and Trowel


SOME time ago we felt an intense desire to speak to the Society of Friends, hoping that it might be the Lord's will to arouse that most respectable community to greater energy and zeal. Our belief was, and still is, that it is the bounden duty of Friends in these perilous times to renew more distinctly their testimony against formalism, ritualism, and unspiritual worship in its many forms, and we hoped that a respectful brotherly admonition might be accepted by them and owned of God. Our doctrinal views widely differ, but on the vital point we are one. After the lapse of some months a door of utterance was opened, and on the evening of November 6th, with very great thankfulness, but bowed down under our responsibility, we found ourselves in the midst of a most cordial company of about twelve hundred Friends in their meeting-house at Bishopsgate Street. The great kindness of the brethren who met us made us feel at home at once, and although suffering much physical pain it was one of the happiest seasons of our life when we stood up in the crowded assembly to speak for Jesus to those who love his name. Our object was not to moot points of difference, but to stimulate brethren to strive for those precious things wherein we agree. We did not feel that we had any right to controvert, nor indeed does our spirit move in that direction; we felt full of love to the Lord's living people, and desired in tenderness and humbleness of mind to exhort them to more fervor and boldness. Oh that the Holy Ghost may seal our testimony! It was delivered with great solemnity of soul, and was attended with many cries to God; surely it will not be in vain. We only wanted one thing more; viz., the permission to have poured out our soul in prayer upon the spot, but as our esteemed friend, Mr. Gilpin, seemed to indicate that silence would be preferable, we did not feel at liberty to do so. However, there was much heart-prayer in the assembly, and we humbly but eagerly look for results. We have been favored by a copy of remarks sent to "The Friend" newspaper from one of the most eminent ministers among the Friends, whose name is dear to all who know his labors, our friend Jonathan Grubb; and we print his remarks in the "Sword and Trowel" because we think they will gratify our readers, and perhaps lead them to bear the Friends upon their hearts in prayer. The lecture has been issued by our publishers, Messrs. Passmore and Alabaster, and can be purchased for twopence. The following are the remarks of Jonathan Grubb which most singularly in the matter of the vocal prayer echo our own feelings:—


"It was my privilege to attend C. H. Spurgeon's lecture on George Fox, at Devonshire House, on the 6th inst. It is almost superfluous for me to say how cordially I united with his powerful, truthful, and loving appeal to our Society. Indeed his address altogether seemed to be an embodiment of what has been my own concern for years past, and which I have endeavored, with far less ability, to impress upon my fellow-professors in religion.
    "I cannot but view the whole thing as a message of mercy from the Almighty, and I am sure it will add greatly to our responsibility, as well as to our condemnation, if much fruit does not follow this renewed evidence of divine regard.
    "I could really say in my heart, while listening to the earnest, simple pleading of this dear servant of Christ, 'It is the truth, the very truth, and nothing but the truth,' so entirely did my feelings and my judgment go with it all.
    "One thing caused me sorrow, however, I do not think our views and our practice on the subjects of prayer and of worship were correctly represented on this deeply interesting occasion.
    "No doubt there was a jealousy in some minds lest these views should in any way be compromised, and I apprehend that these honest, though groundless fears were the cause of their being, to a certain extent, misrepresented.
    "Our worthy chairman told us, at the beginning and at the end, that it was to be a silent approach to the throne of grace. Now, if I know anything of Quaker principles we have no more right to enforce silence than to enforce a vocal offering. Either way, I believe the work of the Spirit upon or in the heart should be left; unfettered.
    "I am sure the spirit of prayer was over the meeting at the beginning, and still more evident was the spirit of thanksgiving at the end; and I believe there was a call from the Lord for vocal utterance, which was prevented by human interference.
    "Surely we might have safely trusted our dear brother, the lecturer, to follow his own convictions of duty in this matter; and I know that if he had not felt called upon to address the Almighty there were other lips that would have been opened had liberty been granted; and I think-such an end to such a meeting would have been altogether in accordance with Gospel order, and with our own belief on the subject of divine worship.
    "In conclusion, I venture to express a hope that should we be favored with another visit from one who is clearly prepared to appreciate and to approve our leading views of gospel truth, he may be left at liberty to do his Master's work in his own way, a condition to which he is fairly entitled, and which we claim for ourselves when similarly circumstanced."

"J. G."

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