Caroline Stephen on Worship
Selections from her Quaker Strongholds (1891)

(1) The silence we value is not the mere outward silence of the lips. It is a deep quietness of heart and mind, a laying aside of the preoccupation with passing things -- yes, even with the workings of our own minds; a resolute fixing of the heart upon that which is unchangeable and eternal. This "silence of all flesh" appears to be the essential preparation for any act of true worship. It is also, we believe, the essential condition at all times of inward illumination. "Stand still in the light," says George Fox again and again, and then strength comes -- and peace and victory and deliverance, and all other good things. "Be still, and know that I am God." It is the experience, I believe, of all those who have been most deeply conscious of his revelations of himself, that they are made emphatically to the "waiting" soul, to the spirit which is most fully conscious of its inability to do more than wait in silence before him. (p. 56)

(2) Friends love to say, our worship does not begin when we sit down together in our public assemblies, nor end when we leave them. The worship in spirit and in truth is in no way limited by time and place. The same idea of waiting "in the silence of all flesh" to hear the voice of the Lord speaking within us, characterizes the Friends' private times of worship; or, as the more cautious expression is, of "religious retirement. (p.66)"

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