AND THE ORIGIN OF THE SO-CALLED “1619 PROPHECY“
In our last posting we mentioned the so-called “1619 prophecy”, saying that we had now received information relating to its author, and would be revealing further information. This we can now do, as a result of some very time-consuming and searching enquiries, with trips to London and Oxford to see original manuscripts and first editions.
The lady who received words from the Lord in 1697 [wrongly dated to 1619 in the papers of Charles Price] was JANE LEADE, who lived from 1623 to 1704. Originally JANE WARD, she came from a godly family in Norfolk, and married WILLIAM LEAD(E) when she was 21. They had four daughters. William died in 1670, and Jane remained a widow for the rest of her life.
When Jane was 16 she was dancing at a Christmas Eve party, when she distinctly heard a voice, saying, “Cease from this, I have another dance to lead thee in, for this is vanity.” It caused her continuing reflection, and she hastened to come before the Lord and seek His ways.
Information is sparse and difficult to come by, but it seems that she and her husband were unified in their spiritual understanding, with Jane conveying her growing appreciation of divine things through the medium of poetry.
In 1654 RICHARD COPPIN wrote a book entitled, “A Blow at the Serpent,” in which were prefixed some verses by JaneLeade. Coppin had already published his three works on the subject of Universal Reconciliation, in 1649, under the patronage of ABIEZER COPPE. Another man of the same persuasion, one GERRARD WINSTANLEY, had published his treatise on U.R. in the same year. According to literary sources, these were the first writings in English on this subject. (We were able to peruse Gerrard Winstanley’s book in the Bodleian Library at Oxford.)
Now Abiezer Coppe was a good friend of JOHN PORDAGE, Rector of Bradfield Church near Reading in that year, and they used to wait upon the Lord “in family communion, aspiring after the highest spiritual state.”
In due course, the writings of the German mystic JACOB BOEHME (1575 – 1624) were translated into English progressively from 1644 to 1662, and Pordage was very interested in them. In 1663 Pordage met Jane Leade, and they shared together what could be learned from Boehme’s works. It inspired Jane in certain directions, but her works, although paying tribute to Boehme’s writings, derive mainly from the prophetic gift she obtained from the Lord.
In 1670, when William Leade died, Jane Leade and John Pordage formed “The Philadelphian Society for the Advancement of Piety and Divine Philosophy” at Bradfield. In the same year Jane received a vision of a lady who called herself Virgin-Wisdom. She said, “I am God’s Eternal Virgin-Wisdom, whom thou hast been enquiring after.” Three times this lady appeared to her, but on the third occasion, said that it would be the last, but that her influence would remain inwardly. Jane was never too open about the identity of this “lady”, but pointed her readers to the passage in Proverbs 8, where Wisdom personified speaks. Perhaps today we should say that she received the “gift of wisdom”, one of those that Paul mentioned amongst the nine stated gifts of the Spirit.
And so for the rest of her days she received some extremely important revelations and knowledge from the Lord, which she proceeded to keep in a diary or journal entitled “The Fountain of Gardens,” which was eventually published in four volumes from 1696 to 1701.
Various other books that she wrote were published, the first being in 1681, entitled “The Heavenly Cloud Descending”. This was followed two years later by “The Revelation of Revelations”. In that same year John Pordage’s book “TheologicaMystica” was published posthumously, with a nine-page preface by Jane Leade. Pordage had died in 1681, and Jane had witnessed his will, made that year, when he was 74 years of age. It was in that year that Jane moved to London, and took up residence in Bartholomew Close, near St Bartholomew’s Hospital and St.Paul’s Cathedral.
In 1693 Jane’s books reached Holland, and were translated into Dutch and German, and were well received, especially by those who belonged to the European branches of the Philadelphian Society. The Society’s name was chosen because of all the seven churches addressed by our Lord in the book of Revelation, only that at Philadelphia received unconditional praise. Those who belonged to the Society emulated the Philadelphian Church’s manner of life, as will be seen in Richard Roach’s inaugural address, to be found in the next P.T.
The following year a young man by the name of FRANCIS LEE stopped off in Holland on his way home from Germany, and picked up Jane’s writings, which impressed him a great deal. Reaching London he sought her out, and in a short space of time became an ardent disciple of her Biblical understanding. In that same year, 1694, Jane published “The Enochian Walks with God,” and the following year “The Laws of Paradise” and “The Wonders of God’s Creation.”
In 1695 Francis Lee married BARBARA WALTON, Jane’s widowed daughter, and they lived in Hoxton Square, Bethnal Green. Lee, who was 35 at the time, soon met up with an old friend from Oxford College days, named RICHARD ROACH. He joined them for their meetings of the “Phil.Soc.” in Baldwin’s Gardens, and in that year Jane received her first “Message to the Phil.Soc.” which was later combined with two other “Messages” to form the basis of the final edition, published as Sixty Propositions” and which is now reproduced in PT-90
In 1697 the Phil.Soc. was placed on a more secure footing, and the inaugural address, which was written and delivered by Richard Roach. We copied this from his hand-written notes in the Bodleian Library, contained in a large folio volume of Roach’s writings.
In 1696 Jane published “The Tree of Faith”, “The Ark of Faith”, and the following year, as already mentioned, “The Fountain of Gardens” began to appear.
The meetings in Baldwin’s Gardens became so crowded in 1697 that they had to find other venues, sometimes at Hungerford Market, and alternatively at Westmoreland House.
In that year Jane published “The Revelation of the Everlasting Gospel Message,” and in the following year “The Ascent to the Mount of Vision.”
In her last years, from 1699 to 1704 Jane published “Signs of the Times”, “The Wars of David”, and the 2nd and 3rd messages to the Phil.Soc. And in 1700 PETERSEN in Holland published “The Mystery of the Restitution of All Things”, which contained many of Jane’s prophetic works.
Jane’s last work, entitled “The First Resurrection of Christ” was published in the year she died. It was first released in Amsterdam. Jane died on 19th August 1704 “in the 81st year of her life and 65th year of her vocation to the inward life.” She was buried in Bunhill Fields on 22nd August, the funeral address being delivered by Richard Roach.
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Postscript, dated January 1999. After obtaining and reading almost all of Jane’s writings, we feel that it is necessary to say the following. Jane’s style of writing was often convoluted, with many extremely long sentences lacking punctuation, sometimes very difficult to understand. This is not meant to be a negative comment, but a cautionary note to those who anticipate obtaining her works, now that they are available once again. Some writings are more difficult to read than others.
As to Jane’s theology, we found that she had a deep insight into many Scriptural themes, and were very glad to be able to consider these through her writings. However, Rosalind and I were unable to endorse all her conclusions. Again, I must say that this is not meant to be a negative comment, but rather that we are all at different stages of growth and understanding, and “one man’s spiritual meat” may perforce still be treated as “poison” to another. Each of us must be persuaded before the Lord, using the gift of discernment, coupled with the true spirit of charity towards others in the Body of Christ.
We can now append the names and addresses of two sources of Jane Leade’s writings, the authors having carefully and sensitively edited the material to make it more easily understood. They are as follows –
1. Larry Hodges, P.O.Box 728, Linwood, NC 27299, U.S.A. [N.B. Now deceased]
2. Colleen Drounette, P.O.Box 2155, Sulphur, LA 70664
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Additional note as a result of further research into the historical background and connections of the Philadelphians, and particularly of Jane Leade.
From Jane’s earliest writings we find that she belonged to a school known as the QUIETISTS (or semi-quietists) whose founder was the Spanish Priest MIGUEL DE MOLINOS (1628 – 1696). Two notable characters who followed this teaching were the French Nun, MADAME GUYON, (1648 – 1717) and ARCHBISHOP FENELON (1651 – 1715). Madame Guyon’swritings are well known and respected, whereas those of Jane Leade (until very recently) have been almost unknown.
There are two factors which now emerge. First of all, Jane’s writings show clearly that she followed that tendency of the Quietists known as PASSIVISM, a discipline which required its advocates to allow their minds to become blank, in an effort to eradicate the workings of the RATIONAL MIND, thereby to promote an unhindered working of the SPIRIT to receive revelation from God. Thereby the influence of the FALLEN NATURE was considered to be subdued. Again and again in Jane’s writings one finds her volubly horrified at the attributes of her own fleshly mind, and although this is just an echo of Paul in Romans, its origin for her was coupled to the Passivist doctrine of the Quietists. Watchman Nee had much to say about the dangers of this approach, written in that superb little volume entitled “The Latent Power of the Soul”, which should be read by every Christian. Passivism is the great tool of Transcendental Meditation. But Paul declared that “the spirit of the prophet is subject to the prophet”, showing that prophecy as a joint-working of the Holy Spirit and the clear rational mind of man. Anything less than this would be considered no better than the state of a zombie.
Now lest anyone should think that we’ve “written off” Jane Leade by these comments, let me put the record straight. I have presented the facts concerning her association with the Quietists, and anyone reading her works will find a recognition of this. But the influence of Passivism was not an over-riding factor in Jane’s life. There is much in her writings which is of a high spiritual quality, even if it is difficult to read. If the tendency towards Passivism was present, it was only of a mild form. Nevertheless, it would be prudent to exercise caution when treading the revelational corridors of Jane’s writings. As with all of man’s writings, including my own of course, there will be some good and some bad. Each of us should be able to extract what seems good, and leave the rest, without excommunication!!!
The second point is this, and it probably comes from Jane’s and John Pordage’s great love of the writings of Jacob Boehme. Boehme’s central belief was that God was the source of everything, including evil, since He had two wills, one good and the other evil, a theory that has influenced many thinkers like Hegel and Schelling. In one of Jane’s later writings she espouses the teaching of Universal Reconciliation, and although there is much to commend this stand, her interpretation of it seems strange to say the least, and could very well be derived from Boehme. Quite categorically, she states that view which has in recent years been termed “The Law of Circularity”, in other words, everything and everyone will end up where they started, and this includes Satan. She said that Satan will (after repentance) be re-instated in his pristine glory as the covering cherub, the chief glory of God’s spiritual creation. A little logic should have shown the utter absurdity of this view, in that there would be no rationality in the progress of this world’s history if everyone was re-instated. There would be no point in anyone striving after good, being an overcomer, not loving his life unto death, being ready to lay down one’s life as a martyr, if the end result was to be no different than for the murderer, the thief, the adulterer, or any other brand of violence and lawlessness.
Jesus taught that “Many of the first will be last, and the last first”, which shows that our term of probation in this world has a significant influence on our future after death and/or resurrection. ST. AUGUSTINE OF HIPPO (340 – 430) in Book XXII, §1 of “The City of God” espoused the belief that the Elect of God were chosen to fill up the lapsed places in the heavenly hierarchy occasioned by the fall of Satan and his angels. This has a much greater sense of logic than Jane Leade’sproposition. If there is a “Law of Circularity” in operation at all, then it can only be understood in terms of the redemption of the whole human and angelic race by the sacrifice of God’s Son at Calvary, in other words, the normal approach to Ultimate Reconciliation. It will have nothing at all to do with final positions in the hereafter.