A Testament of Devotion: The Holy Fellowship, the Blessed Community

If there is one contemporary literary classic I would suggest to others to read on personal devotion, it would be A Testament of Devotion by Thomas R. Kelly, a Quaker. His single volume is actually a collection of essays, and was first published in book form in 1941. It is one of the deepest and most profound writings of personal devotion I have ever read. It is worth reading over and over again. His eloquent and passionate writing is most beautiful; but that’s just what’ on the surface. Going deeper, it is his passion of the inner life humbles me. The cry of his soul for the Holy Spirit’s deeper life inspires me to seek a closer relationship with the Lord Jesus. I feel like an ant standing before a giant. With this said, I do not wish to elevate Kelly because it would be abhorable. If there is one person who really understands and experiences the deeper spiritual life, it is Thomas R. Kelly. Therefore, I wish to share some of this with you who frequent the New Epistles blog. I will be including tiny excerpts from his book on a continuous basis.

“See how these Christians love one another” might well have been a spontaneous exclamation in the days of the apostles. The Holy Fellowship, the Blessed Community has always astonished those who stood without it. The sharing of physical goods in the primitive church is only an outcropping of a profoundly deeper sharing of a Life, the base and center of which is obscured, to those who are still oriented about self, rather than about God…. (p.53)

….Yet still more astonishing is the Holy Fellowship, the Blessed Community, to those who are within it. Yet can one be surprised at being at home? In wonder and awe we find ourselves already interknit within unofficial groups of kindred souls. A “chance” conversation comes, and in a few moments we know that we have found and have been found by another member of the Blessed Community. Sometimes we are thus suddenly knitted together in the bonds of a love far faster than those of many years’ acquaintance. In unbounded eagerness we seek for more such fellowship, and wonder at the apparent lethargy of mere “members.” (p.55)

In the Fellowship cultural and educational and national and racial differences are levelled. Unlettered men are at ease with the truly humble scholar who lives in the Life, and the scholar listens with joy and openness to the precious experiences of God’s dealing with the workingman. We find men with chilly theologies but with glowing hearts….

Kelly, Thomas R. A Testament of Devotion. New York: HarperCollins, 1992.

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