Family Lessons 55: Phineas of Gargrave

My 8x great-grandfather was one Phineas Parkinson, who lived at Gargrave and was a Quaker, being interred at Airton Friend’s burial ground in 1735. His son, Roger, my 7x gt-gramps, received Anglican burial at St Michael’s, Kirkby Malham, so he was evidently not so enamoured by Quaker teachings and practice as his father. Another Phineas Parkinson of Bell Busk lays buried at Airton too, he dying in 1708. I suspect this Quaker stalwart is also an ancestor. Yet Phineas is an interesting choice of name for members of a sect so well known for pacifism and quiet living. It is an Anglicised form of Phinehas, an Egyptian/Hebrew name borne by Aaron’s grandson, Israel’s high priest after the conquest of the promised land. In Numbers 25, when Israel is led into idolatry, and the guilty individuals are sought for execution, Phinehas reacts decisively, for when he

saw it, he rose from among the congregation and took a javelin in his hand; and he went after the man of Israel into the tent and thrust both of them through, the man of Israel, and the woman through her body. So the plague was stopped among the children of Israel. And those who died in the plague were twenty-four thousand. (Vv7b-9)

Clearly not a man to do things by halves, nor to become squeamish in the execution of his duties to God, literally. Whether grandfather(s) Phineas Parkinson was as bloody-minded and determined as his Hebrew namesake, I do not know. Quakers then were politically suspect and they paid a price for their faith, even though official persecution had by then subsided. It is paradoxical that the scriptures urge believers to be gentle and patient, and yet be warriors and antagonists in the spiritual war between good and evil, light and darkness. Be meek and modest, but never soft and plyable.

Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Philippians 4:5
Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 1 Timothy 6:1, both NKJV.

The Lord seeks the gentle soldier, the peaceful warrior, the passive activist, the gracious belligerent.

Image by Walter from Pixabay