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Wear it as long as thou canst

February 9th, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

It would go down as one of my favourite quotes from Quaker Faith and Practice. I think it is a lovely summary of the acceptance Quakers have for others and those with beliefs that may diverge from Quaker “orthodoxy” (if there is such a thing). Hope you all like it (yes I know it is on the Religion page on this blog too).


Corporate testimony depends on individual faithfulness. An individual will be faithful through a recognition of the testimony and a searching of the heart to see what steps are required. The following anecdote depends on oral tradition, but it has played so large a part in Quaker thinking that it is included here:

When William Penn was convinced of the principles of Friends, and became a frequent attendant at their meetings, he did not immediately relinquish his gay apparel; it is even said that he wore a sword, as was then customary among men of rank and fashion. Being one day in company with George Fox, he asked his advice concerning it, saying that he might, perhaps, appear singular among Friends, but his sword had once been the means of saving his life without injuring his antagonist, and moreover, that Christ had said, ‘He that hath no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one.’ George Fox answered, ‘I advise thee to wear it as long as thou canst.’ Not long after this they met again, when William had no sword, and George said to him, ‘William, where is thy sword?’ ‘Oh!’ said he, ‘I have taken thy advice; I wore it as long as I could.’

Samuel Janney, 1852



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