Hugh MacDiarmid said this was a Scottish proverb (specifically from the Western Isles); Guy Davenport said it was a Shaker saying, originally by Mother Ann Lee; the earliest Google Books hit I’ve found is Oliver C. Hampton, “Forces and Forms,” The Manifesto, Volumes 22-23 (1892), p. 243:
Spirit is ceaseless and eternal activity. The infinite varieties of this energy are called forces. Every force evolves a form. In fact a form is only a crystallized force, so much arrested as to become outwardly visible.
(A similar idea is expressed in a doughier, woolier fashion by Annie Besant in The Use of Evil: A Lecture (1895): “Force and matter alike are living, force and matter alike are active; and every force is but the veil of an Intelligence of a Consciousness which has that force as its outer expression, and the matter which that force energizes yields a form which it guides and inspires.")
Anybody know anything about the history of this quote (which doesn’t sound to me like it could go back to the eighteenth century, or like a folk proverb)?