Growing Together in the Light

A place for Friends and others to explore Quakerism. A place where, in the Light that comes from God, we may all grow and where we may hope to find a unity that underlies our diversity of language.

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Location: Arlington, Massachusetts, United States

Raised a Friend, I am currently a member of Fresh Pond Meeting in Cambridge, Mass. I am also active in Salem Quarterly Meeting and in New England Yearly Meeting.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Counsel to the Christian-traveller

About a month ago now, I received an unexpected blessing in the mail. It was a slim volume called Counsel to the Christian Traveller: also Meditations and Experiences by William Shewen. I opened it and started reading and found great drafts of refreshment for my soul from a writer I had never heard of. Here is how Shewen starts his Counsel to the Christian-Traveller:

Put your hand to the plow (look not back) keep it there until the fallow ground may be plowed up, and the briars and thorns rooted up and destroyed, so that the seed may grow up in you to perfection.
Have you known the kingdom and the power, in which it stands, like a little leaven hid in the three measures of Meal? Hinder not it working; let it leaven the whole lump?
Do you know the field where the pearl of great price is hidden? Then dig deep, and find it; and when you have found it, sell all, and purchase it, and then you will be the wise Merchantman indeed.

The entire book is like this, a richly layers of Biblical images illuminating lived Quaker doctrine. The book reflects the Quaker spiritual journey from captivity to perfection not as doctrine but as a rich tapestry of images layered on on top of another.

There are a number of other treatises and essays besides the Counsel to the Christian-Traveller. The largest portion of the book is Meditations and Experiences. This is a series of 70 short meditations. They are like messages in a meeting for worship. Here is one of the shorter ones:

LX.It is a true saying which Christ spoke to his Disciples, when he said, If I go not away, the Comforter will not come. There is much in the words; many have read them, but have not understood what they read; for it is a blessed thing to know the going away of Christ after the flesh, and to be able to say, as one of old did, know I him so no more. They are those that know him come again in the Spirit as a comforter, as a prince of peace, and are witnesses of his peaceable governance in their souls, and can say, he is come, and we look not for another.
I find this book both a challenge and an encouragement to continue to follow the Inner Guide until I lie down in the deep valleys where the good pastures and fresh waters are. I recommend this book to all who seek a less intellectual way into the essence of early Quakerism or who seek refreshment on their own journey.

William Shewen was an early Friend. He lived in London on the south bank of the Thames. In 1656, his house in Southwark was one of the first in London south of the river. This book was originally published in 1683. It has now been reprinted by Inner Light Books. It is also available from the FGC Bookstore.

Blessings to all,

Will T