Rufus Jones, Quaker Thinker


I visited a friend the other day and he invited me to Quaker meeting. While there I wandered by the table where a sale of used books was going on. It wasn’t so much that I really needed more books; it was just that these were books and attention must be paid.

So I looked over the three rows of book spines and an old blue volume caught my eye. It felt like a specific nudge, so I picked it up and found it had to go home with me. This was a book by Rufus Jones, a famous Quaker leader, titled, The Testimony of the Soul — a series of lectures he had given in 1936.

“Nevertheless, I am firmly convinced that there is an unfathomable depth of inward Godlike being at man’s spiritual centre which is the taproot of human self- consciousness and which is unsundered from this Over-World which we call God. Deeper than our faculties, more fundamental than our ideas, or our images, or our volitions, is this subsoil root of our being, this essence of the soul, this core of personality, which is indissolubly connected with a higher world of reality and is the ground of mystical experience.

“This deeper stratum of our being can, like a taste for art, or like appreciation of music, be cultivated, made quick and sensitive, and it can become a transmissive medium of the highest significance, or it can be buried deep under the piles of rubbish which merely secular pursuits or a life of pleasure-seeking may accumulate.

If teachers and trainers of children generally held this high faith, and saw vividly the potency of the interior centre of the soul; if, knowing its importance they developed an adequate technique for cultivating its powers, we might some day have a different race of men, ‘no longer half-akin to brute’ but capable of having a kingdom of God within them.” (p.208)

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