My favorite Quaker quotes

Hello again — I’ve been “off the air” and haven’t posted for a while. I thought I would share some of my favorite classic Quaker quotations of all time.

Quakers are highly quotable, and Friends have always enjoyed saving and sharing these great snippets and one-liners with each other. I’m sure I have missed some of your favorites — feel free to post them in your comments.

  1. “I saw also that there was an ocean of darkness and death, but an infinite ocean of light and love, which flowed over the ocean of darkness: and in that also I saw the infinite love of God…” – George Fox
  2. “You will say, Christ saith this, and the apostles say this; but what canst thou say? Art thou a child of Light and hast walked in the Light, and what thou speakest is it inwardly from God?…” – George Fox
  3. “There is that near you which will guide you. O, wait for it, and be sure to keep to it…” – Isaac Penington
  4. “Our life is love, and peace, and tenderness; and bearing one with another, and forgiving one another, and not laying accusations one against another; but praying one for another, and helping one another up with a tender hand.” – Isaac Penington
  5. “There is a spirit which I feel that delights to do no evil, nor to revenge any wrong, but delights to endure all things, in hope to enjoy its own in the end. Its hope is to outlive all wrath and contention, and to weary out all exaltation and cruelty, or whatever is of a nature contrary to itself…” – James Nayler
  6. “Take heed, dear Friends, to the promptings of love and truth in your hearts, which are the leadings of God.” – London Yearly Meeting
  7. “The humble, meek, merciful, just, pious and devout souls are everywhere of one religion; and when death has taken off the mask, they will know one another though the divers liveries they wear here makes them strangers…” – William Penn
  8. “A good end cannot sanctify evil means; nor must we ever do evil that good may come of it…let us then try what love will do…” – William Penn
  9. “Love is the hardest lesson in Christianity; but for that reason it should be most our care to learn it…” – William Penn
  10. “…the Spirit of Christ, by which we are guided, is not changeable, so as once to command us form a thing as evil, and again to move unto it; and we certainly know, and testify to the world, that the Spirit of Christ, which leads us into all truth, will never move us to fight and war against any man with outward weapons…” 1660 Declaration to King Charles II
  11.  “We are not for names, nor men, nor titles of Government, nor are we for this party nor against the other…but we are for justice and mercy and truth and peace and true freedom, that these may be exalted in our nation…” – Edward Burrough
  12. “For when I came into the silent assemblies of God’s people I felt a secret power among them which touched my heart; and as I gave way unto it I found the evil weakening in me and the good raised up…” – Robert Barclay
  13.  “…to turn all the treasures we possess into the channel of Universal Love becomes the business of our lives…” – John Woolman
  14. “I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good therefore that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again…” – Stephen Grellet
  15. “You are never tempted by a devil without you, but by a devil within you…” – Elias Hicks
  16. “It is an honor to appear on the side of the afflicted…” – Elizabeth Fry
  17. “I give myself this advice: Do not fear truth, let it be ever so contrary to inclination and feeling. Never give up the search after it; and let me take courage, and try from the bottom of my heart to do that which I believe truth dictates, if it lead me to be a Quaker or not…” – Elizabeth Fry
  18. “Those who go forth ministering to the wants and necessities of their fellow beings experience a rich return, their souls being as a watered garden, and a spring that faileth not…” – Lucretia Mott
  19. “I long for the day my sisters will rise, and occupy the sphere to which they are called by their high nature and destiny.” – Lucretia Mott
  20. “Has a separation ever caused more people to hear the Gospel? Ever enlarged the Church? Ever shown to the world more of the gentleness and meekness of Christ? Has a separation ever caused the world to exclaim, `See how those Christians love one another?'” – Allen Jay
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5 Responses to “My favorite Quaker quotes”


  1. 1 Helene Pollock April 22, 2014 at 8:49 am

    These quotes are wonderful — a great help spiritually in my first email in the morning. Question: who is the author of #17?

  2. 3 Jay T. April 23, 2014 at 12:12 pm

    Now, Friends, deal plainly with yourselves, and let the eternal Light search you, and try you, for the good of your souls. For this will deal plainly with you. It will rip you up, and lay you open, and make all manifest which lodges in you; the secret subtlety of the enemy of your souls, this eternal searcher and trier will make manifest. Therefore all to this come, and by this be searched, and judged, and led and guided.
    –Margaret Fell, _An_Epistle_to_Convinced_but_not_yet_Crucified_ _Friends_, in 1656

    The Religious Society of Friends – the Friends Church – is about nothing if it’s not about transformation. Helping each other open to the Living Christ among us, allowing ourselves to be searched by the Light at work within us, humbling ourselves to be taught by the Inward Teacher, trusting that surrendering to the Refiner’s Fire, we can be given new hearts. And it is and always has been through these new hearts that we are made channels for the Motion of Universal Love.
    –Noah Baker Merrill, keynote at the World Conference of Friends, 4/19/2012

  3. 4 kwixote April 24, 2014 at 11:19 am

    Very nice! But I personally feel the lack of some of the early Quaker women, esp. Margaret Fell, such as her response to #2 above (that “we are all thieves”) or her “silly poor gospel” admonition, or

    “Now, Friends, deal plainly with yourselves, and let the eternal Light search you, and try you, for the good of your souls. For this will deal plainly with you. It will rip you up, and lay you open, and make all manifest which lodges in you; the secret subtlety of the enemy of your souls, this eternal searcher and trier will make manifest.” http://www.hallvworthington.com/Margaret_Fox_Selections/MargaretMiscLetters.html


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All of the posts on this blog are my own personal opinion. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the members and attenders of the meeting where I belong or any organization of Friends. For more information, click on the "About Me" tab above.

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