Quaker Universalist Conversations

Observations of Elias Hicks

Friend Barbara Alison Bryant offers us two passages from Elias Hick (1748-1830), an eminent Quaker minister from Jericho, Long Island, N.Y.

In the 1820s, a religious controversy within the Society of Friends which focused on Hicks’ ministry led to the Hicksite-Orthodox Separation of 1827-1828. (See resources below.)

“The Scriptures are not necessary for all nations. Is it to be supposed that God has forgotten the rest of the nations? No. He dispensed a suitable law, to answer every purpose, as completely as the law to the Israelites answered for them; for otherwise He is a partial God. But he is not partial, for every nation he deals in his own way with his own loving kindness. And they come to be united in soul with God as completely as any others.”

— “Sermon V. Delivered at Friends’ Meeting-House, Germantown,
in Philadelphia County, on First Day Morning, 5th of Twelfth Month, 1824”
(A series of extemporaneous discourses, see below)

Vine

“Anyone who seeks God will be brought into a state of love and confidence, which throws off fear. God is willing to help us…. Jesus’ wilderness trials were of the state of his mind.”

— “Sermon X. Delivered at Friends’ Meeting-House, Falls,
in Bucks County, on Seventh Day Morning, 11th of Twelfth Month, 1824” (Ibid.)

Vine

Resources on Elias Hicks

The Essential Elias Hicks, by Paul Buckley (Inner Light Books, 2013) — Reviewed for QUF by Larry Spears

Quakers in Conflict: The Hicksite Reformation, by H. Larry Ingle (Wallingford, PA: Pendle Hill Publications, 2nd edition, 1998) — 1998 review by Merle Harton, Jr.

A series of extemporaneous discourses: delivered in the several meetings of the Society of Friends, in Philadelphia, Germantown, Abington, Byberry, Newtown, Falls, and Trenton, by Elias Hick (Philadelphia, PA: J. & E. Parker, 1825)

Elias Hicks Manuscript Collection, Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College

Background note
Elias Hicks was born on March 19, 1748, a birthright member of Westbury Monthly Meeting, New York, and the son of John and Martha (Smith) Hicks. At thirteen he went to live with his older brother and was apprenticed to a carpenter. During this time, he became increasingly devoted to religious principles. In 1771, he married Jemima Seaman, the daughter of Jonathan and Elizabeth (Willis) Seaman. He worked as a farmer and partner in a tannery. Elias Hicks was recognized as a minister in 1779 and during the next fifty years made sixty-three visits as a travelling Friend to meetings in the United States. Elias and Jemima had ten children, their four sons tragically dying before maturity of a congenital disorder.

Hicks was a traditional quietist Quaker and opposed to the emerging evangelical emphasis among some Friends. He resisted efforts by London and Philadelphia evangelical Friends to cease his ministry. The controversy in emphasis, with other issues, led the a schism in the Society of Friends in 1827/28. Friends who followed his teachings were labeled “Hicksites” by their opponents, a term that he and they resisted. Elias Hicks died on February 27, 1830, in Jericho, Long Island, New York.

Scope and content of collection
The collection includes: Correspondence written and received by Elias Hicks, sermons, surveyor’s drawings, family correspondence, and other papers. Also includes the original manuscript journal of Elias Hicks, 1748-1822 (in three parts), and the 1828 Ohio travel journal. The papers relate primarily to Hicks’ travels in the ministry and to theological controversies within the Religious Society of Friends.