What was distinctive about the founding principles and practices of Quakerism? This book explores how the Light Within became the organising principles of this seventeenth-century movement, inaugurating an influential dissolution of the boundary between the human and the divine. Taking an original perspective on this most enduring of radical religious groups, it combines literary and historical approaches to produce a fresh study of Quaker cultural practice. Close readings of George Fox's Journal are put in dialogue with the voices of other early Friends and their critics to argue that the ‘light within’ set the terms for the unique Quaker mode of embodying spirituality and inhabiting the world. This study of the cultural consequences of a bedrock belief shows how the Quaker spiritual self was premised on a profound continuity between sinful subjects and godly omnipotence. It will be of interest not only to scholars and students of seventeenth-century literature and history, but also to those concerned with the Quaker movement, spirituality and the changing meanings of religious practice in the early modern period.
Skura, Tudor Autobiography: Listening for Inwardness (2008), p. 2. Earlier,
in 1969, Peter Delaney suggested that the way forward in approaching early modern
autobiography was to ‘frame a definition [of autobiography] which excludes the bulk of
random or incidental self-revelation scattered through seventeenth-centuryliterature’ and
prioritizes texts that were ‘primarily written to give a coherent account of the author’s life’.
Delaney, British Autobiography in the Seventeenth Century (1969), p. 1
15 Elizabeth Jane Bellamy, ‘Afterward: Intention Redux: Early Modern
nation, and that ‘no other body of
seventeenth-centuryliterature could address itself to so readily deﬁnable and
so large a readership’.7 All of which suggests that the printing of the farewell
sermons had an impact far beyond the London intelligentsia.
This chapter begins by considering the context and scope of the verbal and
scribal transmission of the farewell sermons, coupled with other activities likely
to have promoted the image of the ejected ministers. The translation of the
Bartholomean manuscripts into print will be mapped in a putative chronology
histories, which generally contained succinct biographies of
successive bishops, ancient and contemporary.7 These were not composed as
FATHERS, PASTORS AND KINGS
didactic works but principally as historical records. Yet their descriptions of
particular bishops at times assumed a distinctly hagiographic tone and, if only
for this reason, they will on occasion be cited in the course of this chapter.
One of the most noticeable features of seventeenth-centuryliterature on the
office of bishop is its marked tendency to reflect the