Devotional Silence may have a threefold character. There is the numinous silence of Sacrament, the silence of Waiting, and the silence of Union or Fellowship.
1. The first of these is that silence meant in the verse of the Prophet (Ilab. ii. 20), 'Let all the earth keep silence before him.'
1 They are quoted from Charles Lamb's essay, 'A Quakers' Meeting', (Trans.)
1 Silent \\ orship: The Way of Wonder, by Violet Ilodgkin,
Such impressive moments of silence were known not only in the worship of Israel hut in that of other peoples. They are the culminating sacramental point in the worship, denoting as they do the instant when ' G!od is in the midst', experienced as ' numen praesens '. All the preceding part of the service is but a preparation for this, a preparation for tho moment of winch the words hold good, ' Das Unzulängliche, hier wird's Ereignis,' 'tile Insufficient here becomes Event'. For what was previously only possessed in insufficiency, only longed for, now comes upon tho scene in living actuality, tho experience of the transcendent in gracious intimate presence, the ' Lord's Visitation of Iiis people '. Such a realization is Sacrament, and what occasions it, attends, or prepares for it, must be termed sacramental. Such a silence is therefore a sacramental silence. It was found in the forms of worship of ancient Israel, and it is found to-day in the Roman Mass, in the moment of ' transubstantiation'.
2. Next there is the silence of Wailing. The meaning of this is primarily other than sacramental. When the Quakers assemble for a quiet time together, this is first and foremost a time of waiting, and it has in this sense a double value. It means our submergence, i. e. inward concentration and detachment from the manifold outward distractions ; but this again has value as a preparation of the soul to become the pencil of the unearthly writer, the bent bow of the heavenly as eher, the tuned lyro of tho divine musician. This silence is, then, primarily not so much a dumbness in tho presence of Deity, as an awaiting His coming, in expectation of tiie Spirit and its message, liut it passes over na'urally into the Sacramental Silence of which we have spoken. And in fact ' Silent Worship' may remain without words from first to last—it may exclude all utterance of the Spirit's message in vocal form, and in that case the worshippers part, as they met, without any audible exhortation or thanksgiving. Yet the worship need not have been in any way defective, for the silence may h..vo been a direct 'numinous' experience, as well as a Waiting upon God. The Eternal was present in the stillness and Iiis presence was palpable without a word spoken. Th« solemn observance of silence becamo a Sacrament.
3. The consummation of the Sacrament is the achievement of unit}, i.e. fellow hip and Commun:on. 1 his th'rd silence is the completion of the waiting and the Bacramental silences. The Silent
Woiship of the Quakers is in fact a realization of Communion in both senses of the word—inward oneness and fellowship of the individual with invisible present Reality and the mystical union of many individuals with one another. In this regard there is the plainest inward kinship between the two forms of worship which, viewed externally, seem to stand at the opposite poles of religious development, viz. the Quaker meeting and the Roman Catholic Mass. Both are solemn religious observances of a numinous and sacramental character, both are communion, both exhibit alike an inner straining not only 1 to realize the presence' of God, but to attain to a degree of oneness with Him.
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