John Wilbur

Wilbur, John. A Narrative and Exposition of the Late Proceedings of New England Yearly Meeting, With Some of its Subordinate Meetings & Their committees, in Relation to the Doctrinal Controversy Now Existing in the Society of Friends: Prefaced by a Concise View of the Church, Showing the Occasion of its Apostacy, both Under the Former and Present Dispensations, With an Appendix. Edited from Record Kept, From Time to Time, of Those Proceedings, and Interspersed With Occasional Remarks and Observations. Addressed to the Members of the Said Yearly Meeting. New York: Piercy & Reed, Printers, 1854, pages 277-325.(All italics added by J.W. for emphasis. All words supplied in [Square Brackets] by J.W.
Page numbers from original publication by -pds in {Set Brackets.}

This Document is on The Quaker Writings Home Page.

To the members of the Yearly Meeting of Ministers and Elders, [England.]
Dear Friends:--In the feelings, as I apprehend, of the pure love of the truth, it seems with me to express my fervent desire that those things which tend to promote our peace, and things whereby we may edify one another may prevail in our minds. Some of you know that I manifested my concern on account of the Morning Meeting. This concern still remaining on my mind, I believe it right to communicate something further on the subject. It feels trying to me to have thus to plead with my friends respecting the Morning Meeting; but I believe I must say it has been a great trouble, both to {p. 347} me and to many other Friends who love the truth, that the members of that meeting should have passed such things as they have done in J.J. Gurney's writings, both in his works entitled Religious Peculiarities, &c., but more particularly in the revised edition with additions. In these publications there is that which I consider very contrary to the principles and doctrines which we, as a people, make profession of, and which we fully believe to be consistent with the Scriptures of truth. Also in his Essays on Christianity, which I suppose did not pass the Morning Meeting, there is much that is objectionable. In this publication, there is held forth that which Friends and many others have declarded against as unsafe, dangerous and unauthorized by the Scriptures. I mean the speaking of the Father as a person, of the Son as a person, and of the Holy Spirit as a person. There are several extracts from Friend's writings in the first chapter of Thos. Evans' Exposition of the Faith of Friends, showing the inconsistency and unscriptural mode of so speaklng. Richard Clarridge has also written a tract, giving, not only his own views upon it, but the views of many Friends and learned authors of different religious denominations, such for instance as bishop Burnet, Calvin, Luther, Jeremy Taylor, Archbishop Tillotson and Usher, with many others whose sentiments are well worthy of our attention.
The injury J. J. Gurney's writings have done, are likely still to do, to our Society, and to the cause of truth, seems to me to be very great, and I cannot but conclude that the affectionate part and the wisdom of man must have prevailed in the mind of the members, or they would not have suffered what they did to pass, and as respects the Essays, did not that work require the attention of the meeting for Sufferings, to whom is entrustod a general care of whatever may arise during the interval of the Yearly Meeting affecting {p. 347} our religious Society, and requiring its immediate attention. And should a work like this, so opposed to what the Society has always maintained, be permitted to be printed and published, and spread extensively as this has been, by any members, more especially by one in the station of a minister, without that meeting's declaring against it: seeing moreover that works coming from such an one, may, by those, not acquainted with our principles, be thought consistent with them, whilst they are quite the reverse. It is my fervent desire, that Friends who have in any way been improperly influenced, may be favored to submit to the renewed baptism of the Holy Spirit, that so the Divine anointing which alone gives clearness of vision may be afforded them, and truth without mixture, supported and propagated.
For much mixture, and consequently much weakness, has got in, and has for some years prevailed among us. Otherwise, -----, -----, and ---- would not have been allowed to travel together--to hold such meetings, and to propagate such sentiments among the young people, as they have done, to the occasioning of a great burden and deep concern in the minds of the living members, where such meetrags have been held. Neither would the Yearly Meeting of Ministers and Elders have given certificates of approval to E. Bates' preaching, which act was also a grievous burden to many well concerned Friends.
These things have rested much on my mind, particularly during my present illness, and it must be very evident that J.J. Gurney's interpretations of the Scripture are so contrary to those of the Society from its first commencement, that if his interpretations are to prevail, then the Society must change its ground, and become an inconsistent mixture of Quakerism and Episcopalianism. This I believe the great Head of the Church will never permit; {p.349}but those who are unfaithful and turn aside, and prove themselves altogether unworthy to support the standard and testimonies of truth, will be rejected and scattered, whilst others will be brought in, and prepared, and qualified to unite in maintaining pure primitive Christianity, and in showing forth the Lord's praise among the nation.
These things deeply impressed and afflicted the minds of our dear Friends, Thomas Shillitoe and John Barclay, who are in mercy gathered to their everlasting rest. And now, in thus relieving my mind, I have a hope I shall, through the unmerited mercy of God in Christ Jesus, be favored to die in peace, to enter one of those mansions. which our lessed Lord declared he went before to prepare for his followers, for those who not only believe in his outward appearance, but in fulfilling of his promise, that he would come again, and that he who was with them, should be in them, without which second appearance and faithful following of Him in spirit, and submitting to his purifying power, how can we be prepared for acceptance with him.
In looking over the foregoing address, you, my friends, are afresh brought very near to me, with feelings of fervent desire, that we may not be of the number of the wise and prudent, from whom our Lord said the things whereof he spake were hid, but rather that we may be of the babes, unto whom they are revealed, having our dependence on our Almighty Father for guidance, preservation and support, in the way to the kingdom of eternal lest and peace.
I remain your sincere friend,
                               GEORGE JONES.
Stockport, 9th of 5th month, 1839.

Finally: Ralph Wardlaw's Opinion of Joseph John Gurney