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Preaching the Inward Light

Early Quaker Rhetoric

Michael P. Graves

Publication Year: 2009

Studying the history of early Quaker preaching, Michael Graves uses careful rhetorical analysis to provide insights into Quaker theology and practice. Situating the movement within the intellectual context of early seventeenth century Europe, he explores both seminal preachers and lesser known figures who were nonetheless important rhetoricians. Through extant sermons he demonstrates that the early Quakers could be a vocal, even “revivalistic,” sect that sought to put into effect world-wide the moral, spiritual, and practical virtues of what they called “primitive Christianity.” Thus, Graves challenges the stereotypes of the early movement and shows the denomination to be theologically innovative and socially important. Well-researched and well-written, Preaching the Inward Light is a timely look backward to these spirited people.

Published by: Baylor University Press

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Title Page Copyright page

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All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the Cover image: Frontispiece from Old Quaker Meeting-Houses, by John Russell Hayes, 2nd ed., rev and enlarged, with 166 illustrations. Biddle Press, ...


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pp. v

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pp. vii-xi

This book began with the suggestions and encouragement of two beloved Quaker scholars, T. Canby Jones and Arthur O. Roberts, who counseled me regarding a research topic. Canby Jones actually handed me a copy of all known sermons by George Fox, each of which he had copied from a manuscript during his own research...

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pp. 1-30

This book is about seventeenth-century Quaker impromptu preaching, both the development of its theory and its manifestation in practice. Quakers (also known as the Society of Friends, the Friends Church, or simply Friends) are popularly known for their leadership role in...

Section I Contextual Background of Quaker Impromptu Preaching

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Chapter 1 Cultural Constraints on Early Quaker Preaching

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pp. 33-60

There is no such thing as a “spontaneous” rhetorical theory or practice; that is, no one practices a type of rhetorical discourse or invents a rhetorical theory uninfluenced by the intellectual and societal currents of the culture surrounding it and of which it is a part. The situation is...

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Chapter 2 Presuppositions of Early Quaker preaching

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pp. 61-76

The way in which an individual or group characteristically communicates, or thinks about communication, both reveals and depends upon a worldview, for it emanates from human ends, which it may be said to reflect. Allowing for individual, isolated, idiosyncratic deviations...

Section II

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Chapt er 3

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pp. 79-112

Many people assume intuitively that impromptu preaching does not (and perhaps canot) have an underlying rationale that carefully spells out its assumptions and implications and speculates about the way it works and ought to work—in essence, that it has produced no “theory.”1 But that is a naive view, at least with respect to early Quakers. ...

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Chapter 4 Robert Barclay and the Grounding of Early Quaker Homiletic theory

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pp. 113-130

Robert Barclay (1648–1690), the most important early Quaker intellectual, wrote two works that directly bear on the development of Quaker homiletic theory: Apology1 and Immediate Revelation.2 In this chapter, I will examine pertinent passages from these two works in.....

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Chapter 5 The Flowering of Early Quaker Homiletic Theory Samuel Bownas’ Manual for Itinerant Impromptu Preachers

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pp. 131-154

Samuel Bownas’ Qualifications is the closest thing to a practical homiletical book produced by Quakers, though the term “homiletics” is never employed by the author.1 The book is rich in its description of the Quaker rationale for impromptu preaching and full of Bownas’...

Section III The Examination of Seventy-Nine Quaker Sermons from the Period 1671 to 1700

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Chapter 6 Thematic Characteristics of Quaker Sermons, 1671–1700

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pp. 157-182

Having traced the development of early Quaker theory about impromptu, inspired preaching, we turn in this section of the book to three chapters that deal with an overview of the practice that reflected the theoretical and justificatory writings. In the following chapters, all...

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Chapter 7 Five Key Metaphors in Early Quaker Sermons, 1671–1700

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pp. 183-206

Although many types of rhetorical appeals, including arguments, are discovered in extant early Quaker sermon texts, I believe that the most significant linguistic appeal, what turns out to be the conceptual essence of the sermons, is discovered in the preachers’ rehearsal of five recurrent...

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Chapter 8 Other Salient Characteristics of Quaker Sermons, 1671–1700

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pp. 207-224

In previous chapters, I examined the themes and key metaphors of early Quaker sermons; it now remains to describe and analyze additional significant characteristics of early Quaker sermons. I shall first discuss the movement away from the incantatory style...

Section IV A Closer Look at Four Select Quaker Sermons from the Period 1671 to 1700

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Chapter 9 George Fox Faces the Yearly Meeting in 1674 The Challenge of Legitimacy in a Culture that Values Impromptu, Inspired Discourse

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pp. 227-256

George Fox (1624–1691), the itinerant firebrand preacher, is acknowledged by historians to be the founder of Quakerism. The vantage of subsequent history and the perseverance of Quakers as a religious and social influence attest to Fox’s legacy of more than three hundred...

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Chapter 10 Stephen Crisp and the Bedrock of Early Quakerism

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pp. 257-278

Stephen Crisp (1628–1692) was the archetypal middle-class English Quaker preacher of the late seventeenth century. Like John Woolman, the more well-known American Colonial Quaker who lived a century later, Crisp was also a businessman who traveled extensively in the gospel ministry and kept a journal of his travels and spiritual life. Crisp...

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Chapter 11 “This is My testimony unto you from the life of God” The Theorist Tests His Own Advice

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pp. 279-292

Robert Barclay (1648–1690), the most important early Quaker intellectual and the sect’s most capable apologist, delivered a sermon in London on May 16, 1688, the only sermon of his for which a text survives. Being a Scot from Ury, he could be in London only on occasion,...

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Chapter 12 William Penn Preached an Impromptu Funeral Sermon

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pp. 293-308

William Penn (1644–1718) is perhaps more familiar to contemporary people than any other early Quaker. He is well known as an important seventeenth- and eighteenth-century political figure.1 What is lesser known is that Penn was also an able preacher. Eleven of his sermons are extant in printed form, each originally a product of unknown but..

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pp. 309-312

At the outset of this book, I remarked that the historical practice of impromptu preaching initially raises at least three important questions: (1) Why did the preachers choose the impromptu method and reject the option of preparing ahead of time? (2) How did the preachers accomplish the task of speaking, sometimes at length, without specific...

Appendix A

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pp. 313-317

Appendix B

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pp. 318-321

Appendix C

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pp. 322-336

Appendix D

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pp. 337-347

Appendix E

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pp. 348-354


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pp. 355-414


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pp. 415-436

Index of works

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pp. 437-438

Index of Names

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pp. 439-446

Subject Index

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pp. 447-462

E-ISBN-13: 9781602585201
E-ISBN-10: 1602585202
Print-ISBN-13: 9781602582408
Print-ISBN-10: 1602582408

Page Count: 450
Publication Year: 2009

Edition: 1

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Extemporaneous preaching -- History -- 17th century.
  • Quaker preaching -- History -- 17th century.
  • Society of Friends -- Sermons -- History and criticism.
  • Sermons, English -- History and criticism.
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