Introductory Note:

Shaped at a young age by the conviction of the Spirit to love the invisible God in all his manifestations in the visible world, Quaker John Woolman lived a life of patient resistance against slavery and the slave trade, cruelty to animals, economic injustices and oppression, and conscription.

In this excerpt he shares how the power of Christ prevailed over his innate selfish desires and early in his life set his footsteps along the kingdom path.

Renovaré Team

I was now led to look seri­ous­ly at the means by which I was drawn from the pure truth, and learned that if I would live such a life as the faith­ful ser­vants of God lived, I must not go into com­pa­ny as hereto­fore in my own will, but all the crav­ings of sense must be gov­erned by a divine prin­ci­ple. In times of sor­row and abase­ment these instruc­tions were sealed upon me, and I felt the pow­er of Christ pre­vail over self­ish desires, so that I was pre­served in a good degree of steadi­ness, and being young, and believ­ing at that time that a sin­gle life was best for me, I was strength­ened to keep from such com­pa­ny as had often been a snare to me I kept steadi­ly to meet­ings, spent First-day after­noons chiefly in read­ing the Scrip­tures and oth­er good books, and was ear­ly con­vinced in my mind that true reli­gion con­sist­ed in an inward life, where­in the heart does love and rev­er­ence God the Cre­ator, and learns to exer­cise true jus­tice and good­ness, not only toward all men, but also toward the brute cre­ation; that, as the mind was moved by an inward prin­ci­ple to love God as an invis­i­ble, incom­pre­hen­si­ble Being, so, by the same prin­ci­ple, it was moved to love Him in all His man­i­fes­ta­tions in the vis­i­ble world; that, as by His breath the flame of life was kin­dled in all ani­mal sen­si­ble crea­tures, to say we love God as unseen, and at the same time exer­cise cru­el­ty toward the least crea­ture mov­ing by His life, or by life derived from Him, was a con­tra­dic­tion in itself. I found no nar­row­ness respect­ing sects and opin­ions, but believed that sin­cere, upright-heart­ed peo­ple, in every soci­ety, who tru­ly love God, were accept­ed of Him.

As I lived under the cross, and sim­ply fol­lowed the open­ing of truth, my mind, from day to day, was more enlight­ened, my for­mer acquain­tance were left to judge of me as they would, for I found it safest for me to live in pri­vate, and keep these things sealed up in my own breast. While I silent­ly pon­der on that change wrought in me, I find no lan­guage equal to con­vey to anoth­er a clear idea of it. I looked upon the works of God in this vis­i­ble cre­ation, and an awful­ness cov­ered me. My heart was ten­der and often con­trite, and uni­ver­sal love to my fel­low-crea­tures increased in me. This will be under­stood by such as have trod­den in the same path. Some glances of real beau­ty may be seen in their faces who dwell in true meek­ness. There is a har­mo­ny in the sound of that voice to which divine love gives utter­ance, and some appear­ance of right order in their tem­per and con­duct whose pas­sions are reg­u­lat­ed; yet these do not ful­ly show forth that inward life to those who have not felt it; this white stone and new name is only known right­ly by such as receive it.

Now, though I had been thus strength­ened to bear the cross, I still found myself in great dan­ger, hav­ing many weak­ness­es attend­ing me, and strong temp­ta­tions to wres­tle with; in the feel­ing where­of I fre­quent­ly with­drew into pri­vate places, and often with tears besought the Lord to help me, and His gra­cious ear was open to my cry.

Excerpt­ed from The Jour­nal of John Wool­man, via Chris­t­ian Clas­sics Ethe­re­al Library.

📚 The 2022 – 23 Ren­o­varé Book Club

This year’s nine-month, soul-shap­ing jour­ney fea­tures four books, old and new, prayer­ful­ly curat­ed by Ren­o­varé. Now under­way and there’s still time to join.

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