Friday, October 12, 2012

Quaker Wisdom: From The Autobiography of Allen Jay (1831-1910)

Isaac Brown was a dear Friend [Quaker] whom I had met in Ireland during Dublin Yearly Meeting, who manifested a great deal of kindness... He was a man of deep spiritual experience. He had been a teacher for fifty years, and told me that he had never been late to classes during that time. He was for many years head of the Flounders Institute, which was established near Ackworth, and where many went to complete their higher education and to prepare themselves as teachers and for other useful occupations. He had a large library, and had given much attention to biblical study and research, and had spent much time in writing commentaries on the Bible--withal a very modest and unassuming man. He deeply impressed me with his humility. Especially was this manifest in his public ministry, there being nothing dogmatic or dictatorial in his communications.

I was sitting one day in his library reading when he came in and sat down. At once I felt it would be a good time for me to find out the meaning of a certain portion of Scripture that I had heard explained different ways, so, turning to the passage, I said, "Isaac Brown, what is the meaning of this passage of Scripture?" With a smile he said: "If thou hadst asked me that question forty years ago, I would have given thee an answer in a minute, but after forty years' investigation I do not know what it means."

How different from many I have met, who cannot read it in more than one language, yet I have heard them explain it without any hestitation, asserting revelation, while others assuming the same high authority would give a different meaning to it, each declaring that he was right! It is altogether probable that Isaac Brown knew as much about the meaning of the Spirit as any of them. My observation is that it is not very safe to follow those who can explain everything and tell you just what you must believe and what you must not believe. It may be safer sometimes to listen to that man who is able to say: "I do not know."


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