No, I am not referring to the popular book of our day, but to a man who in his own day was not very popular at all. This blog entry is an excerpt from a writing by Edward Burrough, one of the early Quakers. Actually they called themselves simply Friends; it was in scorn that their adversaries called them Quakers, for they saw them frequently trembling, and ridiculed them for it.
You and I know why they were trembling… or ought to know… by first-hand experience.
I came across this writing in Foundation Papers, a newsletter I get in the mail from contemporary Quakers who are seeking to return to the foundation the first Quakers established back in the 17th century. That move of the Spirit of God shook the world, and as you read this excerpt you will see why. You will see glimpses of a very powerful Gospel that in its going forth exposed how far the churches of that day, bound as they were in formalism and the traditions of men, had strayed from the original Gospel of Christ and the apostles.
Our old friend George Warnock used to say that the early Quakers were a harbinger of what is coming. Harbinger? Something that shows what is coming.
With this in mind, then—with what is coming in mind—there is only one thing we can and must do, and if we are wise we are doing this with the whole heart. We are heeding the same proclamation that John the Baptist and Jesus Christ and the early apostles sounded, and which those early Quakers also sounded.
“Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.”
Edward Burrough was just 18 when he was caught into the powerful current of the Spirit that was moving through England at the time. In 1658 when he was 24 he wrote this piece. And just four years later he died in prison where, along with many other Quakers, he had been cast because of the living Testimony that dwelt in him.
Here is Edward Burrough’s Epistle to the Reader. I have put in italics the portion that I found so moving.
The Epistle To The Reader
By Edward Burrough
London the 9. Mo. 1658
It is now about seven years since the Lord raised us up in the north of England, and opened our mouths in this his Spirit; and what we were before in our religion, profession, and practices is well known to that part of the country; that generally we were men of the strictest sect, and of the greatest zeal in the performance of outward righteousness, and went through and tried all sorts of teachers, and run from mountain to mountain, and from man to man, and from one form to another, as do many to this very day, who yet remain ungathered to the Lord. And such we were, (to say no more of us,) that sought the Lord, and desired the knowledge of his ways more than anything beside, and for one I may speak, who, from a child, even a few years old, set my face to seek and find the Saviour, and, more than life and treasure or any mortal crown, sought with all my heart the one thing that is needful, to wit, the knowledge of God.
And after our long seeking the Lord appeared to us, and revealed his glory in us, and gave us of his Spirit from heaven, and poured it upon us, and gave us of his wisdom to guide us, whereby we saw all the world, and the true state of things, and the true condition of the church in her present estate. First the Lord brought us by his power and wisdom, and the word by which all things were made, to know and understand, and see perfectly, that God had given to us, every one of us in particular, a light from himself shining in our hearts and consciences; which light, Christ his son, the Saviour of the world, had lighted every man withal; which light in us we found sufficient to reprove us, and convince [that is, convict] us of every evil deed, word, and thought, and by it, in us, we came to know good from evil, right from wrong, and whatsoever is of God, and according to him, from what is of the devil, and what was contrary to God in motion, word, and works….
…And also as our minds became turned, and our hearts inclined to the light which shined in every one of us, the perfect estate of the church we came to know; her estate before the apostles’ days, and in the apostles’ days, and since the days of the apostles.
And her present estate we found to be as a woman who had once been clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, who brought forth him that was to rule the nations; but she was fled into the wilderness, and there sitting desolate, in her place that was prepared of God for such a season, in the very end of which season, when the time of her sojourning was towards a full end, then were we brought forth….
….And we found this light to be a sufficient teacher, to lead us to Christ, from whence this light came, and thereby it gave us to receive Christ, and to witness him to dwell in us; and through it the new covenant we came to enter into, to be made heirs of life and salvation.
And in all things we found the light which we were enlightened withal, (which is Christ,) to be alone and only sufficient to bring to life and eternal salvation; and that all who did own the light in them which Christ hath enlightened every man withal, they needed no man to teach them, but the Lord was their teacher, by his light in their own consciences, and they received the holy anointing.
And so we ceased from the teachings of all men, and their words, and their worships, and their temples, and all their baptisms and churches; and we ceased from our own words, and professions, and practices in religion, in times before zealously performed by us, through diverse forms, and we became fools for Christ’s sake, that we might become truly wise. And by this light of Christ in us were we led out of all false ways, and false preachings, and from false ministers, and we met together often, and waited upon the Lord in pure silence from our own words, and all men’s words, and hearkened to the voice of the Lord, and felt his word in our hearts, to burn up and beat down all that was contrary to God; and we obeyed the light of Christ in us, and followed the motions of the Lord’s pure Spirit, and took up the cross to all earthly glories, crowns, and ways: and denied ourselves, our relations, and all that stood in the way betwixt us and the Lord; and we chose to suffer with and for the name of Christ, rather than enjoy all the pleasures upon earth, or all our former zealous professions and practices in religion without the power and Spirit of God, which the world yet lives in. And while waiting upon the Lord in silence, as often we did for many hours together, with our minds and hearts toward him, being staid in the light of Christ within us, from all thoughts, fleshly motions, and desires, in our diligent waiting and fear of his name, and hearkening to his word, we received often the pouring down of the Spirit upon us, and the gift of God’s holy eternal Spirit as in the days of old, and our hearts were made glad, and our tongues loosed, and our mouths opened, and we spake with new tongues, as the Lord gave us utterance, and as his Spirit led us, which was poured down upon us, on sons and daughters. And to us hereby were the deep things of God revealed, and things unutterable were known and made manifest; and the glory of the Father was revealed, and then began we to sing praises to the Lord God Almighty, and to the Lamb forever, who had redeemed us to God, and brought us out of the captivity and bondage of the world, and put an end to sin and death; and all this was by and through, and in the light of Christ within us. And much more might be declared hereof, that which could not be believed if it were spoken, of the several and particular operations and manifestations of the everlasting Spirit that was given us, and revealed in us.
But this is the sum: life and immortality were brought to light, power from on high and wisdom were made manifest, and the day everlasting appeared unto us, and the joyful sun of righteousness did arise and shine forth unto us and in us; and the holy anointing, the everlasting Comforter, we received; and the babe of glory was born, and the heir of the promise brought forth to reign over the earth, and over hell and death, whereby we entered into everlasting union, and fellowship, and covenant with the Lord God, whose mercies are sure and infinite, and his promise never fails. We were raised from death to life, and changed from Satan’s power to God, and gathered from all the dumb shepherds, and off all the barren mountains, into the fold of eternal peace and rest, and mighty and wonderful things hath the Lord wrought for us, and by us, by his own outstretched arm.
And thus we became followers of the Lamb whithersoever he goes; and he hath called us to make war in righteousness for his name’s sake against hell and death, and all the powers of darkness, and against the beast and false prophet, which have deceived the nations. And we are of the royal seed elect, chosen and faithful, and we war in truth and just judgment; not with weapons that are carnal, but by the sword that goes out of his mouth, which shall slay the wicked, and cut them to pieces. And after this manner was our birth or bringing forth, and thus hath the Lord chosen us and made us an army dreadful and terrible, before whom the wicked do fear and tremble; and our standard is truth, justice, righteousness, and equity; and all that come unto us, must cleave thereunto, and fight under that banner without fear, and without doubting, and they shall never be ashamed nor put to flight, neither shall they ever be conquered by hell or death, or by the powers of darkness; but the Lord shall be their armour, weapon, and defence for evermore. And they that follow the Lamb shall overcome, and get the victory over the beast, and over the dragon, and over the gates of hell; for the Lord is with us, and who shall be able to make us afraid?
That’s the end of the excerpt. After I read it I just… it made me tremble, and it’s sackcloth and ashes for me till in our own generation we come to the reality of this Gospel—a Gospel not in word, but in power, a Gospel by which life and immortality are not just words on the pages of my Bible; life and immortality are brought to light and shine forth in power and total victory over Hell and death and all the powers of darkness… and our whole world quakes as a result of it. Too far out? But the harbinger has already arrived… some 350 years ago!
Those wishing to read the Edward Burrough’s full epistle may find it at: http://www.strecorsoc.org/docs/burrough2.html Beware of other things on this site: there are many writings there which show how painfully far many modern-day Quakers have strayed from the truth by following what they called the light in their hearts, all the while utterly losing sight of the True Light Himself.
Edward Burrough’s epistle is also available at: http://www.hallvworthington.com/Burrough/Burrough%20Mystery.html. There is also a short biography of him on this site.
Allan– “Pentecost” was, and I think all other true movings of God since, were simply the “Harbinger” of the “feast of Harvest” –a time when all things will come to maturity. Our world is quickly comming to a “Paramount” need, and what we have known to date will simply not suffice– nor was it intended to– but thank God that there is and must come a “FULLNESS” to the” GOSPEL OF CHRIST.” I dont think the Lord is at all interested in debating with the tremendous darkness of our day and our society– atheism– evolution–sexual orientation– and on and on– These debates have become wearisome and mostly unfruitful. I can say in my own life I was never talked or reasoned out of atheism — I was never talked or reasoned into God. The Lord simply Commanded the Light of the “Glorious Gospel of Christ” to shine in my heart– and it was all over! Oh! that this might happen in our generation– SOON!!
Thank you, Robert. That was a “drink of Water” to me. The last time I heard George speak (at Terry’s last summer) he quoted Isaiah’s words, “Arise, shine, for thy light is come…” He said that when God says this, IT HAPPENS because He is saying it! “ARISE, SHINE, for thy light is come…” It is the creative word of God, the same God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness in the beginning. And as you said, oh, that this might happen in our generation! For it is certainly true that darkness is covering the earth, and gross darkness the peoples.
Allan & Robert,
As was expressed in the meeting of last summer that you mentioned Allan it is not about WHEN God says “Arise shine for Thy light is come” but about God IS saying “Arise shine for Thy light is come”. Yes His word is creative but only to those that have an ear to hear what the Spirit is saying. Then after hearing what He is saying to not harden our hearts as in the day of provocation. Take the word and mix it with faith. Then by HIs grace throw in a good measure of commitment, perseverance, patience, faithfulness, diligence, etc. because when we seek Him with all our heart all hell is going to come against us as never before. But Christ as a son over his own house, whose house are we, if we hold fast our confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end. The cost of the pearl of great price is everything we have. But thanks be to God he tells us to ‘Fear Not’ because he is with us and will give us all we need as we put our whole trust in Him.
In all of Church history no corporate dispensation of the Holy Spirit that I’ve ever read about compares to the depth of Divine Life that the Quakers walked in. But Oh the price they paid for their inheritance. George Fox wrote that in the midst of that great outpouring scarcely a righteous man could be found in all of England, except in the prisons. Such was the persecution. But again God says ‘Fear not, for I am with you’.
Robert, thank you for your words. Remember the last time we talked I invited you to come to Cranbrook to share with us and help us to push back the dark; that invitation is still open. Who is going to express more hunger for and love of the light than those who have known much darkness? Robert continue to arise and shine for surely your light has come, it’s the dawning of a new day for you and for us also.
Hi Terry, thanks for sharing. Yes, I recall that there was a sense in the gathering that God was in fact speaking that very word: “Arise, shine, for thy light is come…” And when it is God who is saying this (and not just man) it is a creative word. Meaning that those who hear this word, those who have ears to hear, they find that it creates in them the faith they need to begin doing this. Paul commended the Thessalonians because when they heard the word of God, they received it “not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh in them that believe” (1 Thes. 2:13). And so… “Arise, shine, for thy light is come…” May this light break upon us, dawn upon us, and be met with the hearing of faith. And then let us brace ourselves, as you said, for the consequences.