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ject of the Quaker-preaching, by an extract from Francis Lambert, of Avignon, whose book was published in the year 1516, long before the Society of the Quakers took its rise in the world. “ Beware," says he, “ that thou determine not precisely to speak what before thou hast meditated, whatsoever it be; for though it be lawful to determine the text which thou art to expound, yet not at all the interpretation ; lest, if thou doest so, thou takest from the Holy Spirit that which is his; namely, to direct thy speech, that thou mayest preach in the name of the Lord, void of all learning, meditation, and experience, and as if thou hadst studied nothing at all, committing thy heart, thy tongue, and thyself wholly unto his Spirit, and trusting nothing to thy former studying or meditation, but saying to thyself, in great confidence of the divine
promise, The Lord will give a word with much power unto those that preach the Gospel.”
But besides oral or vocal, there is silent worship among
the Quakers--many meetings, where not a word is said, and yet worship is considered to have begun and to le proceeding—worship not necessarily connected with words—this the opinion of other pious men besides Quakers—of Howe Hales - Gell— Smaldridge, bishop of Bristol – Monro--Advantages which the Quakers attach to their silent worship.
I HAVE hitherto confined myself to those meetings of the Quakers where the minister is said to have received impressions from the Spirit of God with a desire of expressing them, and where, if he express them, he ought to deliver them to the congregation as the pictures of his will, and this as accurately as the mirror represents the object that is set before it. There are times, however, as I mentioned in the last section, when either no impressions may be said to be felt, or, if any are felt, there is no concomitant impulse to utter them. In this case, no person attempts to speak; for to
speak or to pray where the heart feels no impulse to do it, would be, in the opinion of the Quakers, to mock God, and not to worship him in Spirit and in truth. They sit therefore in silence, and worship in silence *. And they not only remain silent the whole time of their meetings, but many meetings take place, and these sometimes in succession, when not a word is uttered.
Michael de Molinos, who was chief of the sect of the Quietists, and whose “ Spiritual Guide,” was printed at Venice in 1685, speaks thus : “ There are three kinds of silence;
the first is of words, the second of desires, and the third of thoughts. The first is perfect; the second is more perfect ; and the third is most perfect. In the first, that is of words, virtue is acquired. In the seeond, namely, of desires, quietness is attained. In the third, of thoughts, internal recollection is gained. By not speaking, not desiring, and not thinking, one arrives at the true and perfect mystical silence, where God speaks with the soul, communicates himself to it, and in the abyss of its own
* See nole +, page 279, in the preceding Section.
depth teaches it the most perfect and exalted wisdom.”
Many people of other religious societies, if they were to visit the meetings of the Quakers, while under their silent worship, would be apt to consider the congregation as little better than stocks or stones, or at any rate as destitute of that life and animation which constitute the essence of religion. They would have no idea that a people were worshipping God, whom they observed to deliver nothing from their lips. It does not follow, however, because nothing is said, that God is not worshipped. The Quakers, on the other hand, contend that these silent meetings form the sub
of their worship. The soul, they say, can have intercourse with God. It can feel refreshment, joy, and comfort in him ; it can praise and adore him, and all this without the intervention of a word.
This power of the soul is owing to its constitution or nature.
“ It follows,” says the learned Howe, in his Living Temple,“ that having formed this his more excellent creature, according to his own more express likeness, stamped it with the more glorious
characters of his living image, given it a nature suitable to his own, and thereby made it capable of rational and intelligent converse with him, he hath it ever in his power to maintain a continual converse with his creature, by agreeable communications, by letting in upon it the vital beams and influences of his own light and love, and receiving back the return of its grateful acknowledgments and praises. Wherein it is manifest he should do no greater thing than he hath done. For who sees not that it is a matter of no greater difficulty to converse with than to make a reasonable creature ? Or who would not be ashamed to deny that he who hath been the only author of the soul of man, and of the excellent powers and faculties belonging to it, can more easily sustain that which he hath made, and converse with his creature suitably to the way wherein he hath made it capable of his converse ?!
That worship may exist without the intervention of words, on account of this constitution of the soul, is a sentiment which has been espoused by many pious persons who were not Quakers. Thus the ever me