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Observations placeholder

Quakers - Joseph Salmon



Type of Spiritual Experience


Joseph Salmon (fl. 1647–1656) was a significant English religious and political figure of the middle of the seventeenth century.

He was known to the Quaker George Fox, from 1648/9, who identified him as ‘one of the Ranters.’ Christopher Hill considers Salmon to have belonged to the ‘mystical and quietist wing’ of the Ranters.  Whether he was a Ranter or not he eventually became a Quaker.

The name Ranter was used to describe a number of nonconformist dissenting groups that emerged around the time of the English Commonwealth (1649–1660). Ranters were regarded as heretical by the established Church and the name may have been devised by the Church itself as a derogatory term.  They seem to have been regarded by the government as a threat to social order. They denied the authority of churches, of scripture, of the current ministry and of services, instead calling on men to listen to the divine within them.

It is difficult to classify this experience.  It sounds more like a near death experience than any other, but he doesn’t appear to have been ill.

A description of the experience

JOSEPH SALMON, - Quoted in Rufus Jones: Studies in Mystical Religion

In this, says Rufus Jones, Salmon relates how, as he was coming to maturity, he "...received some quickenings of a Divine principle in him". After going through many stages of religious experience, he heard "a voice that came from the throne of the heavenly Almightinesse (which said), 'Arise and depart, for this is not your rest.' "

Jones then prints Salmon's account of his 'great experience':

I was made as truly sensible of this inwardly, as the eye is sensible of the light, or the ear of the outward sound. I was suddenly struck dead to all my wonted enjoyment... I then had a clear discovery in my spirit, how far all my former enjoyments came short of that true rest which my soul had all along aimed at. Here I stood for a season weeping with Mary at the sepulchre...'When my three dayes (or set time) was expired, I begann to feel some quickeining comfort within me. . . out I came with a most serene and cheerfull countenance, and (as one inspired with a supernatural life) sprang up farr above my earthly center, into a most heavenly and divine enjoyment. Wrapt up in the embraces of such pure love and peace, as that I knew not oft-times whether I were in or out of this fading forme. Here I saw heaven opened upon me, and the new Jerusalem...  all my former enjoyments being nothing in appearance to that glory which now rested on my spirit. Time would faile to tell what joy unspeakable, peace inconceivable, what soul-ravishing delights, and most divinely infatuating pleasures my soul was here possest with... In a word, I can give you no perfect account of that glory which then covered me; the lisps and slipps of my tongue will but render that imperfect, whose pure perfection surmounts the reach of the most strenuous and high-flown expression. I appeared to myselfe as one confounded into the abyss of eternitie, nonentitized into the being of beings, my soul spilt and emptied into the fountaine and ocean of divine fulness, expired into the aspires of pure life. In briefe, the Lord so much appeared, that I was little or nothing seen, but walked at an orderly distance from myself, treading and tripping over the pleasant mountains of the heavenly land, where I walked with the Lord and was not...I have been exalted into the bosome of the eternall Almightiness, where I have seene and heard things unlawful (I say unlawful) to be uttered amongst men'.

The source of the experience


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Science Items

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