Frank (arisbe) wrote,

Rufus Jones

I finally obtained a copy of The Trail of Live in the Middle Years, and found two things which might be of interest to others. When Friend Rufus began his life's work of reforming American and world Quakerdom in the spirit of George Fox he took inspiration from the ancient Fathers of the Greek Church, no doubt Clement of Alexandria most of all, but Basil, the Gregories, and Chrysostom, I'm sure. Next time I'm at the NYPL I will try to find the early editorial in which he expressed himself on the matter. And a couple of years later, when he visited Earlham for the first time, he spoke on... The Divine Comedy, that norotiously Papistical work. That kind of broadmindedness was not always appreciated, even among Quakers. Maybe especially among Quakers. When he spoke again in Richmond some time later the President of my Alma Mater permitted his students to go into town for it, but warned them against falling under his influence. That was, I have said, at the beginning of his career, in the 1890s. Let me quote one of his final statements:

“Eternal life” is the entrance upon an absolutely satisfying experience whether here or elsewhere, in which the soul has found itself joined indissolubly with its Object, revealed to us best in Beauty, Truth, Goodness and Love. These values can never pass into nothingness, nor can the soul, that in God is united to these Realities. In them one lives, by them one lives, they are his life, and it opens out inwardly with ever intensified joy and insight. “He whose heart has been set on the love of learning and of true wisdom,” Plato says in the Timaeus, “and has exercised this part of himself, that man must without fail have thoughts that are immortal and divine, if he lay hold on truth; and so far as it lies in human nature to possess immortality he lacks nothing thereof.” It is thus that man becomes a spectator of all reality and is an indissoluble part of an eternal realm. The blessed life is thus not the reward of goodness, but the practice and enjoyment of goodness itself. [From the 1947 Ingersoll Lecture, “The Spell of Immortality,” in The Radiant Life, of which Jones was going over the proofs when he himself crossed to the other side the next year, a few months after I was born. (p. 115f)]
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