20: Some Discourse with Robert Jordan concerning Slave-Keeping, and Something concerning George Keith and New Jerusalem

Upon a time when I was reasoning with an eminent preacher, Robert Jordan at his house in Philadelphia, concerning that great Goliath—Negro or slave-keeping—which hath defied the little army of the living God so many years, and still continues so to do.

He, the said Robert Jordan, was pleased then and there to tell me that I loved the Negroes better than I did my Friends, and accused me at Stephen Jenkin’s house, before many witnesses, of being [the] death of my dear wife, and a persecutor of the Church. But before that, I charged him with being instrumental of separating my dear wife from me by death, in writing for a separate certificate for my wife to a [Monthly] Meeting to which we never did belong, as if he and two or three more had a mind to separate us—which is now brought to pass.

I shall leave them to the great Judge of heaven and earth, if he will be pleased to forgive them; I hope I shall in time. But these things must be borne with, I suppose, and more. When I have said to some Friends, Negro-keepers and their adherents, that it seemed a little strange or novel that a Friend should be hurried out of meetings so constantly and roughly, before he be disowned or someway dealt with for some disorders to others, contrary to the known and acknowledged discipline of Friends as a people.

If thy brother is overtaken in a fault, go to him and tell him his fault, between him and thee. If he hears thee, thou hast gained thy brother. If he will not hear thee, then take two or three with thee. If he will not hear them, then take him to the Church. And if he will not hear the Church, then—not till then—cast him forth. My dear Friends, have any of these things been done to Benjamin Lay? And yet still continue to cast him out, cast him out, cast him out: he is a troublesome fellow and has been so for many years.

Did our dear and well beloved Friends in Boston 60 or 70 years ago, think this is a just way of proceeding? To be taken into custody, put into bridewell [prison], whipt severely, and banished [from] the town, time after time, without any legal proceedings, only for being obstinate Quakers, as they were pleased to call them. Dare to come again, when they had whipt them out of the town so often. When I have put some Friends in mind of this, concerning our dear tender Friends’ great suffering in New England, in a book called New-England Judged, some Friends have been pleased to tell me that George Keith used to say so, or talk after that manner. What he said I cannot tell but by report, which is not always true. But this of Friends’ suffering in Boston is true, for I have been upon the spot or lot of ground, where the dear lambs were put to death, for the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ, the Truth.

As to George Keith, he was an extraordinary man while he kept to the testimony of Truth in his own heart, I do firmly believe, according to the Account of him by friends. And a great sufferer for Truth, by imprisonment and other ways, and an excellent writer. And [he] ministers in defense of Truth’s principles for about 30 years, as I remember, as many of his books manifest, to the judgment of men that have read them, of right mind and good understanding in things relating to God’s kingdom. As his Revelation Not Ceasedhis Way to the City of God: very excellent indeed, and many more.

While he dwelt in the Truth and walked in Truth, he did well. But when he went from that, he was like the unsavory salt, good for neither land nor dunghill, and so it is now with some, or I am mistaken. And so it hath been with the very best of men and instruments that ever were in the world, though they had never so much enlightened or illuminated from on High: they grow dark again, as they go from the Light, from God, from Truth, which are one in nature and essence, although three names.

For men as men do know, that have good natural eyes, that the further they go from the Light outwardly, the more they go into darkness until at length they cannot see anything clearly, or at last not at all. And this comes upon men because they love darkness, which is sin, and they live in darkness and walk in darkness, and at last darkness in sin seems to be Light unto them. This is a dreadful state indeed! O that it may appear so before it be too late to some poor souls, is my true desire for their eternal welfare—which I desire, as for my own Soul.

Now it is written by a child, a son and heir of Light, for the encouragement of other children and heirs of Light: If you walk in the Light as he, God is Light, and Light is God. You shall have fellowship one with another in God the Light, and the Blood, the Life, the Light, the Truth shall cleanse from all sin, all filthiness of flesh and spirit. O blessed state indeed!

Now a certain saint in Light or an enlightened saint, the same put the primitive saints in mind to stir up their memory and keep them in a watchful frame of mind: You that were once in darkness are now Light, in the Light, or in the Lord. The same bids them walk as or like children of the Light and of the Day, which is Light—and is to walk and work in as well as to live and dwell in—and this is in New Jerusalem: the church of the first or true-born with God, the Light in Heaven, whose Gates are always open to saints in Light. No night, no darkness there; no need of sun, moon, stars, candles, or lamps—for the Lord God, the Lamb, the Truth, the Light is or are the Light thereof, forevermore (Revelations 21:2–3).

And all that follow the Lamb, the Light, wheresoever he goes, are and shall be the citizens thereof forever. Now you precious babes, children, sheep, or lambs in Light, or by whatever name you may be called: He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. Yet you have but one name, and that is New, in the Light, and none can read and know but them that are in our Heavenly Father, New Jerusalem, the Light, the Father and Mother of us all.

And you precious favorites in or of the Light, although but very few, a little flock, and very obscure and hid from the dark mind, from darkness, the devil, and Satan, AbaddonApollyon, dragon, serpent, viper, or hell, or by whatever other name is all the same (Revelations 9:11).

Truth saith: Fear not, little flock, it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom, the Light, which never ends. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. The tabernacle of Light is with these and in these, whether male or female: all one in the Light of the Life, in Truth forever.

You my dear and inward Friends have right to feed in the green pastures of Light, of Life, where none can make you afraid. No, no: there is safety and great security in the munition of rocks, the Light, New Jerusalem (which is Heaven, is in God the Light, and the Light in it), Father, Word, and Spirit the Light, the Tree of Life in Paradise: in the Light, in God, in Heaven.

Revelation 22: And is Heaven, and heavenly food for saints to feed of freely! This is the Tree of Life, which bears twelve manner of fruit, and yields her fruit every month, always ready, always ripe, fresh, green, pure and lovely to behold, sweet and delicious to the saints’ taste—to them that are clean, that have been cleansed by the Light, by the Life of the Lamb, which follows him through many tribulations wherever he goes and leads them until he brings them into the green pastures of Life beside the still waters of Life. Of comfort indeed: the pure river of water, of Life, which is with God and is God, in his throne, in sanctified hearts.

These, these blessed ones have right to the Tree of Life, to the pure river of Life, to eat and drink as much as their vessels can hold at times, and sometimes running over and flowing out: to them that are in the outward court, that is trodden by the gentiles in this our age. If happily they might be entreated and prevailed with if possible, by tasting some drops as it were without, to turn into their own souls and wait there to be cleansed, that the fruition, the pure river, clear as crystal, might run there freely and sweetly without interruption.

If the little touches—the earnest of this heavenly river be so sweet and precious, as to be sure it is, beyond all worldly things—what must the ever-flowing fountain be, which springs continually in holy souls in eternal Life?

O let the inhabitants of the tree, the river, the rock, sing aloud for joy. From henceforth for evermore: So be it, glory, glory, endless to the All in All, faith my soul at times.                                                                                                              

                                       The 27th of the Ninth Month (November) 1736:

This is written in pure love, concerning the pure in heart, of all colors and countries in the whole World. These are the dwellers in the Rock of Age.