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January 28, 2007

History and us

A lot of religious writing describes how overemphasis on history is a sign of trouble. Some of this is because of the dangers of, say, churches taking too much pride in their past accomplishments, and (perhaps) neglecting the present. Another component is Protestantism's distrust for tradition, perhaps lingering echoes of the break with Catholicism.

Quakerism has a complicated relationship with its history. That history is itself complicated, with incredible early inspirational fire, a period of relative calm few historians seem to defend, and then a variety of schisms. There is deliberately no central creed Quakers subscribe to. Historic documents sometimes fill that gap, often pulled, like biblical proof-texts, out of their original historical and textual contexts.

There is a bigger problem, however: Quakerism is a religion based on experience, an experience many people don't think they've had. What does contact with the Light accomplish? How have Quakers been changed by their faith? What might make a skeptic think that there's something different going on in Meeting for Worship than a very quiet meeting of a Society for Ethical Culture chapter?

Frequently, the easiest way to answer these questions is to point to past Quaker experience. Not just what people say they've found or felt, but what they've done and how it connects to their account of what they've found or felt. Early Quakers' perseverance under persecution, dying for their cause while feeling they were working for the Lord, is one example. John Woolman's combination of Quietist faith and his ministry against slavery is another, as is Elizabeth Gurney Fry's work on prison reform, the efforts of conscientious objectors, and the work of Quakers up to the present, including Tom Fox.

This rich past informs our present, promising more than an hour of peaceful contemplation at Meeting. Different branches of Quakerism emphasize different aspects of that rich past, and there is certainly more than enough material for them to find parallel but different tellings of the same story.

There's still a pull, though, toward the idea that Quakerism's past should not determine its present. Early Quakers felt that Christianity, itself a break with the Jewish telling of the past, had accumulated its own problems from which Quakers were freeing themselves. Arguments over the degree to which Quakerism should be Christian (Evangelical, Trinitarian, Unitarian, or...) or not seem to explode especially well over which aspects of the history are relevant to modern Quakerism and which should be left as of value only to their participants.

Some of that, as in other churches, be about thinking positive, avoiding issues that might not be such fun to discuss, or which might break an important argument. Some of that may be because the issues involved make us doubt our predecessors, forcing us to sift through perhaps unsightly past context. And some of that comes from the concern that Quaker history, while fascinating and inspiring, shouldn't be used to limit the possibilities of Quakerism might become.

Personally, I find reading Quaker history to be inspiring even when - maybe especially when - I find Quakers behaving in ways that might not live up to the perfection we hope of our predecessors. We can remember that like us, they were humans grappling with the Light, with the challenge of building relationships where we ourselves are in this world outwardly while communing inwardly with a holiness transcending our humanity. Powerful inspiration leads to deep questioning and uncertainty, and often to amazing deeds performed not simply because of personal conviction but because of humility - this is what has to be done, not just what I think is right.

Quaker history is not an appropriate stick to use against people who claim the name "Quaker" while breaking with the past, in whatever direction. I do think, however, that reading Quaker history with a mind open to the possibilities of finding the experiences of the past once again in the present can lead to new (yet old) opportunities. We live in times where we're taught to doubt claims of experience beyond the five senses, or claims that can't be proven in the laboratory or the marketplace. Looking to the past may help us reclaim what many of us have lost.

January 24, 2007

Music about being filled with the Spirit

Back in July, I wrote about listening to a local Christian radio station, and said:

It's unfortunate to me that this music seems to choose musical forms I've long felt were utterly soulless to express ideas about the soul's relationship to God.

I'm happy to report that in listening to them more, I did find at least one group that escapes that problem. While they still spend a lot of time in pop, Sixpence None the Richer somehow manages to get a lot more across than the inspirational lyrics over bland melodies that seem to dominate these airwaves. The song that I first noticed, "Breathe Your Name" is pretty thoroughly pop, but it's good pop, and led me to the rest of their work.

The lyrics for Breathe Your Name grabbed my attention:

So many days within this race
I need the truth
I need some grace
I need the path
To find my place
I need some truth
I need some grace
The part of you
That's part of me
Will never die
Will never leave
And it's nobody else's but mine

You are in my heart
I can feel your beat
And you move my mind
From behind the wheel
When I lose control
I can only breathe your name
I can only breathe your name

The vision of God here is a direct encounter, not a distant hope. It's deeply personal and overwhelming, filled with promise.

After I figured out who the band was, I realized that they'd also done a song I think everyone heard a few years ago, Kiss Me, which catapulted them to the complexities of pop stardom (but didn't help with their perpetual record label problems).

I quickly bought The Best of Sixpence None the Richer, and like it, though it's a strange compilation. It starts with three unreleased songs, then a song from a tribute album, and then launches into Kiss Me, Breathe Your Name, and then the beautiful Melody of You. I don't often link to National Review Online, but this review sums it up well:

Together on "Melody of You," Slocum and Nash have done nothing short of making a mockery of both modern pop music and the worship-music business - for they have managed to prove, in the course of another "song, three minutes long," that pop music can indeed talk intelligently and succinctly about important and transcendent things, and remind the entire worship-music industry that the Author of the snowflake and the butterfly likely values creative expression over vain repetition.

And while a good bit of modern "worship music" is either entirely forgettable or simply undecipherable to those outside the club, "Melody of You" is a song that can be understood by the most ardent atheist — who, though disbelieving in the God the song is obviously about, can nonetheless understand the love the writer and singer feel for Him.

And then...

ABBA's Dancing Queen? Yes, they covered that for the movie Dick, where it plays for the happy end credits. It doesn't exactly fit here, but it did give me something else on the album that I recognized. (Now I mostly skip it.)

Dancing Queen introduces a section of covers. The next one, of Crowded House's Don't Dream It's Over, fits better with their usual lyrical style, as does their cover of The La's There She Goes. Their next cover, Sam Phillips' I Need Love, is more direct than a lot of their songs, but astonishing. The covers close with Brian Wilson's I Just Wasn't Made for These Times.

The next five songs are older, a mix of straightforward melodies and harder-edged pieces from before the band broke into fame with Kiss Me. Breathe sounds more like a regular worship song but describes a deeply personal experience breathing the air of Heaven. Brighten My Heart is also a worship song, but with a very nice set of additions on the repeated verse.

The next two songs, both from This Beautiful Mess, have more oblique lyrics and a harder edge. I can't quite figure out Angeltread, but it launches into the chorus with intense power. Within a Room Somewhere is even more mysterious, but has similar power.

The last song from the older albums, Trust is almost a meditation, building on Proverbs 3:5-6 with repetition and a little more to connect it to the singer.

The final song on the album is just unusual: Kiss Me, in Japanese. A few of the lyrics stay in English, but most of them don't.

It's a strange sampler, an album which I suspect has something to appeal to most readers of this site, but I suspect that something is different for everyone. I'm enjoying the way Matt Slocum's lyrics describe connecting with God directly, and Leigh Nash's ability to take her voice from airy and intimate to a loud belt gives the songs the range they need to deal with that subject. (The band's name comes from a story in C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity.)

I'll be listening to more of their material, but figure that most of this would be eligible for my completely hypothetical Quaker radio. It's good to find music that speaks like this. I'm reasonably certain they're not Quaker, but their songs seem to me to capture much of what makes the Quaker experience compelling: periods of calm, times of deep ecstatic connection, times of scrambling for that connection.

January 23, 2007

A sense beyond the rational

[Based on a post of mine about a month ago on the Quaker-L mailing list.]

I didn't think any spiritual part of me had been dead or comatose until a few years ago, but gradually it dawned on me that I'd been missing something, looking in all the wrong places. Until you're using this sense, you may not notice its lack, or think the lack comes from other problems.

It's good to be in awe of the natural world, but it's not a substitute. The natural world, for all its virtues, is easier to approach, more tightly bound to the ways, for instance, that (most) schools train us to think and see. We can learn great lessons from the natural world, find great beauty in it, and enjoy its wonder. That doesn't mean, however, that the natural world is all there is.

I don't think it's easy to approach the Bible when we've been drenched in rational explanations of a complex world. It wasn't easy for me to approach the Bible, certainly. I'd always had one available as a reference, but didn't turn to it for inspiration. The first Bible I really read and enjoyed was the Jefferson Bible - Thomas Jefferson's cut-and-paste of the gospels, minus all the supernatural stuff he just didn't find plausible. "The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth," as Jefferson called it.

Over time, though, I found myself missing the stuff Jefferson didn't like, as Christ's message is difficult enough for humans that telling it as a simple set of morals we should follow is just, well, inadequate. That combined with other doubts I'd had about the sufficiency of a naturalist explanation of the world to make me look harder for other possibilities. Something was clearly missing.

I found those possibilities in Quaker meeting, of course. I'd been going on and off for a long time, but now I go regularly. There's still a lot of figuring out for me to do about how best to integrate this new sense into my life, but I'll get there, listening to this new sense. Mysticism without this sense never made much sense to me; now it feels complete, and completing.

As for the Bible itself, I still definitely veer more toward the New Testament than the Old, but I'm finding that yes, I can appreciate all of it. I certainly wouldn't have predicted this for myself fifteen or even ten years ago.

January 18, 2007

Religious combatants

I was wandering through Braithwaite's Beginnings of Quakerism last night when I found this brief description of religious combat:

This general knowledge of the Bible was now diffused, and accordingly when the era passed in which the State repressed schisms and sects, it was at once succeeded by an age of controversial warfare between conflicting opinions. Polemic replaced persecution, and its virulence was at least better than the fires of Smithfield.

In the keen doctrinal atmosphere of the time, a day's dispute in public between opposing combatants was the most delightful and improving of pastimes. A Puritan divine, for example, at Henley-in-Arden, would take up the cudgels against preaching without a call and argue his case with five private preachers - a nailer, a baker, a plough-wright, a weaver, and a baker's boy.

When Thomas Taylor, who afterwards became a Friend, disputed at Kendal in 1650 on the subject of infant-baptism in the parish church against three other ministers, and had got the better of them, his hearers ran up Kendal Street crying "Mr. Taylor hath got the day! Mr. Taylor hath got the day!" with an enthusiasm now reserved for the result of a game of football. (17-18)

Christopher Hill's The World Turned Upside Down presents similar stories. Braithwaite is right that times have changed. The explosion of religious interest in England (and its former colonies) burst out, eventually created a new tolerant world, and then faded back.

Religious discussion continues, of course, but public combat? Could it find a similar audience today?

January 17, 2007

"deep reverence... toward his Quaker ancestry"

My local paper celebrates Ezra Cornell's 200th birthday today, reflecting on the founder of Cornell University. Cornell University sometimes appears in lists of Quaker colleges, though it has always been unaffiliated.

Ezra Cornell grew up Quaker, but was disowned for something he did in the town I live in, as Wikipedia relates:

Ezra Cornell was a birthright Quaker, but was later disowned by the Society of Friends for marrying outside of the faith to a "world's woman," a Methodist by the name of Mary Ann Wood. Ezra and Mary Ann were married March 19, 1831, in Dryden, New York.

On February 24, 1832, Ezra Cornell wrote the following response to his expulsion from The Society of Friends due to his marriage to Mary Ann Wood: "I have always considered that choosing a companion for life was a very important affair and that my happyness or misery in this life depended on the choice…"

The Ithaca Journal reprints an article on the founding of the University from 1956, in which Cornell reflects on his options after enduring abuse from the New York State Legislature:

"I can never forget the quiet dignity with which Mr. Cornell took this abuse. Mrs. Cornell sat at his right, I at his left. In one of the worst tirades against him, he turned to me and said quietly, and without the slightest anger or excitement: 'If I could think of any other way in which half a million of dollars would do as much good to the State, I would give the legislature no more trouble.' Shortly afterward, when the invective was again especially bitter, he turned to me and said: 'I am not sure but that it would be a good thing for me to give the half a million to old Harvard College in Massachusetts, to educate the descendants of the men who hanged my forefathers.'

'There was more than his usual quaint humor in this — there was that deep reverence which he always bore toward his Quaker ancestry, and which seemed to have become part of him.'

Cornell's work to create an unaffiliated university - and avoid donating to the heirs of those who hung William Robinson, Marmaduke Stephenson, Mary Dyer, and William Leddra in Boston - created opposition from those who found the notion of a university without explicit ties to a religious body appalling. As another 1956 article put it:

With [Ezra Cornell and Andrew Dickson White], Quaker and humanist, evolved the university's radical support of co-education, and its principle of freedom from domination by "persons of any one religion or of no religion" (which earned the university the charge of "godlessness" in sectarian pulpits and journals of the day).

The Journal cites a letter from Cornell to a friendly Presbyterian minister that tells of the conflicts:

I am glad that you find much to please you in the plan of Cornell University as studied from the Register. I believe you are the first Presbyterian minister who has not consigned us to purgatory for our infidelity. I should be glad to know if you can show a "clean bill of health" from the church authorities, or perchance you may be sliding down the same declivity to perdition that we are. I should be sorry to see the whole family of Cornells on the broad road to ruin. I had hoped at least we might clutch your skirts for salvation.

It's unfortunate that the Quakers disowned Cornell at the time of his marriage, but at least from what I see here, he seems not to have disowned Quakers.

January 16, 2007

Prize your time and the love of the Lord

Epistle XVII from George Fox's Works is a short but dense meditation on the work of the 'light in you' from 1652, early in Fox's ministry:

Dear Friends -
Prize your time, and the love of the Lord to your souls above all things; and mind that light in you, that shows you sin and evil. Which checks you, when you speak an evil word, and tells you, that ye should not be proud, nor wanton, nor fashion yourselves like unto the world; for the fashion of this world passeth away. And if ye hearken to that, it will keep you in humbleness of mind, and lowliness of heart, and turn your minds within, to wait upon the Lord, to be guided by it; and bring you to lay aside all sin and evil, and keep you faithful to the Lord; and bring you to wait on him for teaching, till an entrance thereof be made to your souls, and refreshment come to them from the presence of the Lord.

There is your teacher, the light, obeying it; there is your condemnation, disobeying it. If ye hearken to the light in you, it will not suffer you to conform to the evil ways, customs, fashions, delights, and vanities of the world; but lead you to purity, to holiness, to uprightness, even up to the Lord. Dear hearts, hearken to it, to be guided by it. For if ye love the light, ye love Christ; if ye hate that, ye hate Christ. Therefore in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ consider of it; and the Lord open your understandings to know him. G. F.

The light 'shows you sin and evil', defending you from the ways of the world and lighting a path 'to purity, to holiness, to uprightness, even up to the Lord'.

January 15, 2007

Fox's literacy

I've had my doubts about whether or not to publish this story, but I ran into a paragraph introducing George Fox's Epistles (part of his Works) that makes me think it's worth publishing.

It's hard to question Fox's literacy after exploring his classic Journal, his pamphlets and books, or his letters, and he had a deep grasp of the Bible. At the same time, his works read very differently from those of other early Quakers. There's a lot of repetition, as if he was speaking to a group of people, and much of the progress is through building on themes rather than filling a neat outline. It's a very rich style, especially when read aloud, but it's not exactly what I expect to find on the printed page.

Fox's works nearly all passed through a series of editors. He dictated correspondence and his Journal, and a number of editors, especially including Thomas Ellwood and Ellis Hookes, polished them. He did annotate correspondence in his later years, but as Braithwaite relates in The Second Period of Quakerism, we don't have much that comes direct from Fox:

Fox, to the last, with all his robustness of mind, remained in the narrower sense of the word illiterate. He usually dictated his correspondence and his books, and there is little of his own writing preserved. An interesting bit, undated, on the conduct of a school, may serve to illustrate his handling of the King's English:

If any mare [mar] ther bovkes, &blot ther bovkes throw carlesnes, lat them sit with ovt the tobel [table] as disorderly children, & if any on torenes [turns] from these things & mendeth & doeeth soe noe more, & then if any doe aqves [accuse] them of ther former action after the[y] be amendd, the same penalaty shall be layd vp on them as vpon them that is mended from his former doinges; & if any be knon to s[t]eale, leat him right with ovt the tabel & say his leson & she his copy with ovt the bare [bar]: & all mvst be meeke, sober, & ientell & qviet & loving & not give one another bad word noe time, in the skovell nor ovt of it, leats [lest] that the[y] be mad to say thr lesen or shew ther copy bovk to the master at the bare: & all is to mind their lesones & be digelent in their rightings; & to lay vp their bovkes when the[y] goe from the skovell, & ther pens & inkornens, & to keep them sow, eles the[y] mvst be lovk'd vpon as carles [careless] & slovenes: & soe yov mvst keep all things clean, svet, & neat & hanson.

Men were impressed by the outward man, but the influence of this unlettered prophet lay supremely in what may best be called his "over-worldliness." (441)

The spelling is strange, though easier if you substitute 'u' for 'v', and spelling hadn't yet standardized to the extent we expect today. He doesn't like to end a sentence, though in speech it's often unclear where one sentence ends and another cleanly begins. I'm not sure that Braithwaite makes a strong case for Fox's illiteracy, but he certainly makes it clear than he wasn't a scholar.

The introduction to Fox's Epistles, written by George Whitehead, who knew Fox well, makes it clear that Fox's talents were not limited by his lack of polish:

The simplicity and plainness of the author's style is not to be despised, he being more in life and substance than in the wisdom of words, or eloquence of speech. And the Lord being pleased in his day to make great use of him, and to do great things by him, for his name and seed's sake; of which there yet remain clouds of witnesses, even to that divine powers and hidden wisdom of God, (in the mystery of Christ), which was with him, and supported him, and lifted up his head through many great fights of afflictions and trials. (Works, 7, v.)

Perhaps it would be worthwhile for those of us writing on Quakerism to reflect regularly on the limited value of scholarship in the remarkable happenings of early Quakerism. Learning certainly had its place, as shows in Samuel Fisher, in William Penn, in Robert Barclay, and in many others - but much of what gave early Quakerism its power was Fox's realization that an Oxford or Cambridge degree was not a calling by the Lord to preach. Worlds opened for Fox, for Quakers, and for others following similar paths.

January 13, 2007

The Braithwaite books

The more I've read about Quaker history, the clearer it's become how many of the amazing nuggets of Quaker history come from William C. Braithwaite's two volume history of early Quakerism. The Beginnings of Quakerism to 1660 was originally published in 1912, with a second edition in 1955, while The Second Period of Quakerism was published in 1919 with a second edition in 1961. Like Friends for 350 Years, it includes asterisks which lead to updates, provided in this case by Henry J. Cadbury.

Braithwaite built on earlier research, as L. Hugh Doncaster's Foreword explains:

At the time of his death in 1905, John Wilhelm Rowntree had collected much material to enable him to write a history of the Society of Friends "which should adequately exhibit Quakerism as a great experiment in spiritual religion, and should be abreast of the requirements of modern research." Subsequently his friends Rufus M. Jones and William Charles Braithwaite agreed to carry out this task, and the Rowntree Series of Quaker Histories, edited by Rufus M. Jones, was published during the next sixteen years...

Few books of historical study stand the test of being reprinted forty years later [now ninety], but those responsible for the Rowntree Series have no doubt about the rightness of making The Beginnings of Quakerism once more available..

But while there is room for fresh interpretation in the light of recent research, the main body of The Beginnings of Quakerism remains by far the most adequate study of its subject, and no further valid interpretation is likely to be made without building on this foundation.

Both books have had their introductions by Rufus Jones dropped, "on the ground that recent studies have, in the minds of a number of scholars, put Quakerism in a rather different light."

Both books include long quotes at the start of every chapter, along with excerpts of original materials throughout. While the language and the perspective may well date to 1912, the story-telling is excellent. Braithwaite's voice is present throughout, but in the first book I didn't notice much of his own opinion. (It's there, of course, just not obtrusive.) In the second book, where he thinks things sometimes went wrong, his own opinions surface more frequently, especially in the chapter on Formulation of Faith.

While the interpretation might not be quite as sensational as more recent tellings, there's an incredible amount of information here, not all of it flattering. The books are large and dense (607 pages for the first volume, 735 for the second), but fortunately well-indexed. I'd love to follow the footnotes further.

The two books are available in a hardcover reprint by Sessions of York, though the only place I've found selling them new is QuakerBooks.org. They'd certainly be worth tracking down in a library, and I hope meetings have them in their libraries, but they're also one of those resources that you'll want to return to again and again if you do much reading in Quaker history.

(I could probably write this blog as a series of reflections on Braithwaite and have material for the next fifty years.)

January 11, 2007

Notes on George Fox

I mentioned in my last piece that I'd used Notes on George Fox to look up mentions by Fox of the Trinity and the Holy Spirit. Since Fox's Works are unindexed, and don't even have Tables of Contents in many cases, having an external index is incredibly helpful.

Lewis Benson's works, including the Notes, are available from the New Foundation Fellowship. Benson describes their creation in the Introduction:

These notes were accumulated over a period of forty years. They represent an attempt to devise a means for quickly assembling what Fox wrote on a particular subject, as it appears in his Journal, his Collected Works, and some of his unpublished writings. The notes were put together for my own use on the basis of a very broad and loose scheme. Categories were added as subjects or words recurred frequently and seemed important to Fox...

The notes can be of real use to students who want to inform themselves about Fox's preaching and teaching. Perhaps it is inevitable that there will now be users of these notes who are more interested in finding support for a thesis than in listening to Fox. These notes were not intended for that kind of user...

I want to stress that I did not set out to produce a subject index to Fox's writings. This, I hope, will be done by others. With the exception of the notes on the unpublished writings of Fox, which were done on a Woodbrooke Fellowship (1954-1955), these notes were put together in broken time while learning my trade as a printer and earning my living by it. It was always my intention to devote as little time as possible to compiling these notes and I have never thought of them as representing a great contribution to scholarship.

Benson's humility aside, these Notes are a tremendous help in finding what Fox had to say on a given subject. It's better than an index, because it includes excerpts, not just page numbers, though Benson rightly warns users of the index that they should always check the original context rather than pulling quotes from these volumes.

It's not always the easiest pile of paper to work with, and it's unfortunate that their small volume of purchasers means that the NFF prints off copies as they're ordered, leading to a high price tag. Hopefully mentioning it here might eventually lead to a few more people finding and using it.

Fox on the Trinity, Spirit

I wrote about early Quakers and the Trinity last month, and Zach recently asked about whether early Friends:

seemed to confuse the second and third persons of the Trinity. When I've explained traditional Quaker theology to Protestants, they quite often say that the Inward Christ, etc. sounds like what they would call the Holy Spirit (a phrase I think they very rarely used).

Zach has a good point, especially with the Quakers of the 1650s and early 1660s. I did look up the Trinity and Holy Spirit in Lewis Benson's Notes on George Fox, and found a fair number of entries, but it's clear that Fox didn't spend a tremendous amount of time theorizing about the Trinity specifically. In The Great Mystery (1657), he writes:

As for the word trinity, and three persons, we have not read it in the Bible, but in the common-prayer-book, or mass-book, which the pope was the author of. But as for unity we own it, and Christ being the brightness of the Father's glory, and the express image of his substance (of the Father) we own; that which agrees with the scriptures, and for that which the scriptures speak not, which men speak and teach for doctrine, their own words, that the scriptures speak not nor teach, such the scriptures shut out, and we deny. (180)

That suggests a lack of fondness for the Trinity as a doctrine, but just above that, Fox also wrote:

And are there not three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the word, and the spirit, are not they all one? How then are they distinct? And there are three that bear record in earth, the spirit, the water, and the blood, which agree in one. And Christ saith 'I and my Father are one;' and 'I in the Father, and the Father in me,' and he is in the saints, and so not distinct. (180)

That response to a challenge over the nature of Christ's soul and its relation to human souls is filled with the Trinitarian language of the I John 5:7-8 insertion.

Fox does write about the spirit regularly, as in this later piece, A distinction between true liberty and false:

God pouring out of his spirit on all flesh, both on sons and daughters, handmaids and servants, &c. all are to walk in the liberty of this holy, pure, peaceable, gentle spirit of God, that keeps in humility, and in tenderness and kindness, and leads into righteousness, godliness, and holiness, and into modesty, sobriety, virtue, and chastity, and into things that be of a good report.

In this holy spirit of God is the pure holy liberty, the fruits of which, are love and peace, &c. And this holy pure spirit of God leads out of strife, contention, hatred, malice, and envy, and all unrighteousness and ungodliness, and false liberty of the will and the flesh, and the inordinate and loose affections that are below.

And if the will and the flesh and inordinate affections have their loose liberty, they set the whole course of nature on fire with the unruly will and tongue, which is to be limited, kept down, and mortified with the holy spirit of God; in which spirit is the unity kept, which is the bond of peace, in the church of Christ among all true christians, that are called the 'household of faith,' and 'of the son of God,' who is over his house.

And the holy, divine, pure, and precious faith, which is the victory, and purifies the heart, Christ is the author and finisher of; and the mystery of this faith is held in a pure conscience; by which faith all the faithful have access to God, and in it do please God. (Works, VI, 329, paragraph breaks added.)

When I explain Quakerism to other Christians, I usually talk about the Holy Spirit's continuous activity, and sometimes "Christ is come to teach his people himself." I don't think these are contradictory. Early Quakers might well have explained it differently, though.