Job Scott

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Job Scott
Born October 18, 1751
Providence, Rhode Island
Died November 22, 1793 (aged 42)
Ballitore, Ireland
Nationality American
Occupation Teacher, Tutor
Known for Traveling Quaker minister

Job Scott (October 18, 1751 Providence, Rhode Island[1] - November 22, 1793 Ballitore, Ireland) was a Quaker traveling minister and a prominent American quietist. His religious philosophy had a deep, shaping influence on the Religious Society of Friends and contributed to the first schism within Quakerism, the 1827 Hicksite-Orthodox split.

Biography[edit]

Scott’s parents were John and Lydia Scott. As a young man he indulged in ‘music, gaming and pleasure’ but at the age of 19, by ‘illumination and openings of divine light in my mind’ he became a devout Quaker, attending Smithfield Meeting House.

In 1773, Scott and his wife boarded at Elmgrove, the home of Moses Brown, the co-founder of Brown University. Scott taught school in the Quaker meeting house in Providence and tutored Brown’s children. Through Scott's friendship and example, Moses Brown became a Quaker in 1774.

Scott moved to Springfield, Massachusetts, during the American Revolution and became a recognized traveling Quaker minister, sponsored in his work by Brown.[2] He traveled widely from Vermont to Georgia in his ministry and visited the Nicholite communities, the ‘New Quakers’, in Maryland and North Carolina in 1789 and 1790.[3]

During the Revolutionary War, Scott was an active war tax resister.[4]

Doctrinal views[edit]

Scott was a quietist within the tradition of his fellow-Quaker John Woolman and a Christian mystic. His views were also consistent with a freethought tradition already prevailing in the United States, particularly among deists of Quaker heritage such as Thomas Paine. Scott was not, however, a deist as he emphasized a faith of divine inspiration, not a belief that reason was sufficient to determine the presence of God.[5]

In his traveling ministry, especially on his second journey to the South in 1789, Scott first set out his individual interpretation of traditional Quaker beliefs. He had always emphasized the mystical side of Quakerism, the need to follow the leading of the Inward Light, but in 1786 he began to take a new path, stressing the universality of Christ and the insufficiency of religion unless the believer allowed the presence of Christ to ‘grow within’. In this context, Scott believed that all manifestations of the external world were obstructions to the direct experience of the Inward Light, the light that illuminated ‘the immediate inward work of God in man’.

Central to his message was his focus on a ‘vigilant continuance in silence’, the silence that patiently awaits the Divine Spirit, and the inward experience of Christ 'as inwardly revealed from glory to glory to those who keep a single eye to his holy light within them'.[6]

Scott stressed the recognition of personal sin and how its presence conflicted with and diminished the Inward Light:

'He that commits sin works directly against God, against the divine call, the manifestation and operation of God in himself. This is the evil of sin. It is hence the guilt and condemnation arise. It is rebellion against the light. The light shines in all’.[6]

He also believed that to see 'that of God in each person' persuasion might be required to turn someone toward the Light and away from sin. It would not be sufficient to simply assume that the ‘natural goodness’ inherent within everyone would automatically counteract its presence.

Unlike Elias Hicks, the radical Quaker traveling minister responsible for the 1827 schism, Scott did not deny the divinity of Christ and defined Christ as an ever-present ‘emanation’ nurtured within the believer:

'He is the eternal Word, and as such is God. To us he is the emanation, or son of God’s love. When he lives and reigns complete in us; when he is our life, and has in all things the preeminence with us, and so is our complete justification, as such he must have been begotten and formed in us; strictly and truly so; for it is thus, and thus only, that we are or can be complete in him.[6]

By the 1790s, Quakerism in America was taking on a more evangelistic expression, partly as a response within it to the influences of the Second Great Awakening, the contemporary revival of Protestant evangelism which was a reaction to religious skepticism, deism and the liberal theology of Rational Christianity. Scott’s emphasis on the Inward Light, his emphasis on the eternal Christ, became increasingly at odds with the views of those Quakers who were turning to the Scriptures and the life of the historic Jesus for inspiration. Though Scott’s language carefully avoided confrontation, opposition to his ministry within Providence Meeting and New England and New York Yearly Meetings became the forerunner of the schism to come.

Ministry in Great Britain[edit]

On December 5, 1792, Scott left Boston for Dunkirk, France, arriving on January 5, 1793. From there he went on to England visiting Quaker meetings in Kent, London, Carmarthen and in Bristol before leaving for Ireland from Liverpool. In Ireland, he fell ill with smallpox[7] and after a short illness he died at the home of the Quaker Elizabeth Shackleton at Ballitore, Ireland, on November 22, 1793. He was buried at the Friends Burial Ground there on November 24, 1793.[8]

Legacy[edit]

Scott was the last major American Quaker to equally represent the dual spiritual threads in Quakerism, those of the Inward Light and Scripture, before the 1827 Hicksite-Orthodox split at Philadelphia Yearly Meeting.

His Journal of the Life, Travels, and Gospel Labors of That Faithful Servant and Minister of Christ, Job Scott, was first published in an abridged form in 1797, with most of the controversial doctrinal material removed. However, this material was already in circulation and influential among Quakers before being eventually published in 1824 when it became part of the debate as the doctrinal antagonisms within American Quakerism approached division.

Scott's complete writings, The Works of that Eminent Minister of the Gospel, Job Scott, were published in 1831 by the Hicksites, who had by then come to regard him as a prophet.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Job Scott, John Comly (1831), The Works of that Eminent Minister of the Gospel, Job Scott, Volume 1, J. Comly, p. 9, retrieved 2013-09-05 
  2. ^ Sons of Providence:The Brown Brothers, the Slave Trade, and the American Revolution, Simon and Schuster, 2006, p. 186, ISBN 9780743289146, retrieved 2013-09-05 
  3. ^ Joshua Evans, John Hunt (2010), Friends' Miscellany, Volume 4, Comly & Comly, p. 261, ISBN 9781144818089, retrieved 2013-09-05 
  4. ^ David M. Gross, ed. (2011), American Quaker War Tax Resistance, My Duty to Bear Testimony Against War, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, p. 116, ISBN 9781466458208, retrieved 2013-09-05 
  5. ^ Arthur J. Worrall (2002), Quakers in the Colonial Northeast, University Press of New England, p. 179, ISBN 9781584652601, retrieved 2013-09-05 
  6. ^ a b c Job Scott, On Salvation by Christ, Quaker Heritage Press, retrieved 2013-09-05 
  7. ^ Job Scott (1826), The Berean , Volume 2, Mendenhall & Walters, retrieved 2013-09-06 
  8. ^ Job Scott (1815), A journal of the life, travels, and gospel labours of ... Job Scott. Repr. with corrections and additions, Oxford University, digitized 2007, retrieved 2013-09-05