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Another epistle I wrote soon after, more particularly to the Friends in the ministry, that were gone into America after this manner:
Dear Friends and brethren, ministers, exhorters, and admonishers that are gone into America and the Caribbean islands. Stir up the gift of God in you and the pure mind, and improve your talents; that you may be the light of the world, a city set upon a hill, that cannot be hidden. Let your light shine among the Indians, the blacks and the whites; that you may answer the truth in them, and bring them to the standard and ensign, that God has set up, Christ Jesus. For from the rising of the sun to the going down of the same, God's name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every temple, or sanctified heart, "incense shall be offered up to God's name." And have salt in yourselves, that you may be the salt of the earth, that you may salt it; that it may be preserved from corruption and putrefaction; so that all sacrifices offered up to the Lord may be seasoned, and be a good savor to God. All grow in the faith and grace of Christ, that you may not be like dwarfs; for a dwarf shall not come near to offer upon God's altar; though he may eat of God's bread, that he may grow by it. And Friends, be not negligent but keep up your negroes' meetings and your family meetings; and have meetings with the Indian kings, and their councils and subjects everywhere, and with others. Bring them all to the baptizing and circumcising spirit, by which they may know God, and serve and worship him. And all take heed of sitting down in the earth, and having your minds in the earthly things, coveting and striving for the earth; for to be carnally minded brings death, and covetousness is idolatry. There is too much strife and contention about that idol, which makes too many go out of the sense and fear of God; so that some have lost morality, humanity, and true Christian love. Oh therefore be awakened to righteousness and keep awakened; for the enemy sows his tares while men and women sleep in carelessness and security. Therefore, so many slothful ones go in their filthy rags and have not the fine linen the righteousness of Christ; but are struggling and plowing with their ox and their ass in their woolen and linen garments; mixed stuff, feeding upon torn food, and that dies of itself, and drinking of the dregs of their old bottle, and eating of the sour, leavened bread, which makes their hearts burn one against another. But all are to keep the feast of Christ, our passover, with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. This unleavened bread of life from heaven makes all hearts and souls glad and joyful, lightsome and cheerful, to serve and love God, and to love and serve one another in the peaceable truth, and to keep in the unity of God's spirit, which is the bond of (the Lord of lords’, and the King of kings’) peace. In this love and peace God Almighty keep and preserve all his people, and make them valiant for his truth upon the earth to spread it abroad in doctrine, good life, and conversation, Amen.
All the members of Christ have need one of another. For the foot has need of the hand, and the hand has need of the foot; the ear has need of the eye, and the eye of the ear. So that all the members are serviceable in the body which Christ is the head of; and the head sees their service. Therefore let none look down on the least member.
Have a care to keep down that greedy earthly mind, that plunders and covets after the riches and things of this world; to avoid you falling into the low region, like the Gentiles or Heathen, and so lose the kingdom of God that is everlasting; but seek the kingdom of God first; and God knows what you have need of, who takes care for all both in heaven and in the earth; thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gifts, both temporal and spiritual!
Tottenham, the 11th of the 10th month, 1690
Not long after, I returned to London and was with Friends at meetings almost daily. When I had been in town for nearly two weeks, the sense of the great hardships and sore sufferings that Friends had been and were under in Ireland came upon me with great weight, and I was moved to write the following epistle, as a word of consolation unto them:
Dear Friends and Brethren in the Lord Jesus Christ, whom the Lord by his eternal arm and power has upheld through your great sufferings, exercises, trials, and hardships (more, I believe, than can be uttered) up and down that nation, which I am very sensible of; and the rest of faithful Friends that have been partakers with you in your sufferings; who cannot but suffer with the Lord's people that suffer. My confidence has been in the Lord, that he would and will support you in all your sufferings; and that he would preserve all the faithful in his wisdom, that they might give no just occasion to anyone to make them suffer; and if you did suffer wrongfully or unjustly, that the righteous God would assist and uphold you; and reward them according to their works, that oppressed or wronged you. And now my desire is unto the Lord, that in the same holy and heavenly wisdom of God you may all be preserved to the end of your days, to the glory of God, minding his supporting hand and power; who is God all sufficient to strengthen, help, and refresh in time of need. Let none forget the Lord's mercies and kindnesses, which endure forever; but always live in the sense of them. And truly, Friends, when I consider the thing, it is the great mercy of the Lord that you have not been all swallowed up, seeing with what spirits you have been compassed about. But the Lord carries his lambs in his arms, and they are as tender to him as the apple of his eye; and his power is his hedge about his vineyard of heavenly plants. Therefore it is good for all his children to be given up to the Lord with their minds and souls, hearts and spirits, who is a faithful keeper, that never slumbers nor sleeps; but is able to preserve and keep you, and to save to the utmost, and none can hurt so much as a hair of your heads, except he allow it, to try you; for he upholds all things in heaven and earth, by the word of his power; all things were made by Christ, and by him all things consist (mark, consist) whether they be visible or invisible. So he has power over all; for all power in heaven and earth is given to him; and to you that have received him, he has given the power and authority to become the sons and daughters of God; so living members of Christ, the living head, grafted into him in whom you have eternal life. Christ the seed reigns, and his power is over all; who bruises the serpent's head, and destroys the devil and his works, and was before he was. So all of you live and walk in Christ Jesus; that nothing may be between you and God, but Christ, in whom you have salvation, life, rest, and peace with God.
As for the affairs of truth in this land and abroad, I hear, that in Holland and Germany, and that section of the world that Friends are in love, unity, and peace: and in Jamaica, Barbados, Nevis, Antigua, Maryland, and New England I hear nothing except that Friends are in unity and peace. The Lord preserve them all out of the world (in which there is trouble) in Christ Jesus, in whom there is peace, life, love, and unity, Amen. My love in the Lord Jesus Christ to all Friends everywhere in your land, as though I named them.
London, the 10th of the 11th month, 1690
DEATH AND BURIAL
Thus, reader, you have had some account of the life and travels, labors, sufferings, and manifold trials and exercises of this holy man of God, from his youth to almost the time of his death; of which himself kept a journal; where the foregoing sheets were transcribed. It remains, that an account be added of the time, place, and manner of his death and burial; which was thus:
The next day, after he had written the previous epistle to Friends in Ireland, he went to the meeting at Gracechurch-street, which was large because it was the First-day, and the Lord enabled him to preach the truth fully and effectually, opening many deep and weighty things with great power and clearness. After which having prayed, and the meeting being ended, he went to Henry Gouldney's, (a Friend's house in White-hart Court, near the meeting-house), and some Friends going with him, he told them, ‘he thought he felt the cold strike to his heart, as he came out of the meeting;' yet added, 'I am glad I was here; now I am clear, I am fully clear.' As soon as those Friends were withdrawn, he laid down upon a bed (as he sometimes used to do, through weariness after a meeting) but soon rose again; and in a little time laid down again, complaining still of cold. And his strength sensibly decaying, he was was glad soon to be in the bed; here he lay in much contentment and peace, and he very sensible to the last. And as in the whole course of his life, his spirit, in the universal love of God, was set and bent for the exalting of truth and righteousness, and the making known the way truth and righteousness to the nations and people in distant locations; so now, in the time of his outward weakness, his mind was intent upon, and wholly taken up with that; and he sent for some particular friends, to whom he expressed his mind, and desire for the spreading of Friends' books, and therefore truth in the world. Many Friends came to visit him in his illness, with whom he said 'all is well; the seed of God reigns over all, and over death itself. And though,' he said, ‘I am weak in body, yet the power of God is over all, and the seed reigns over all disorderly spirits.' Thus lying in a heavenly frame of mind, his spirit wholly exercised towards the Lord, he grew weaker and weaker in his natural strength; and on the third day of that week, between the hours of nine and ten in the evening, he quietly departed this life in peace, and sweetly fell asleep in the Lord, whose blessed truth he had lovingly and powerfully preached in the meeting but two days before. Thus ended he his day in his faithful testimony, in perfect love and unity with his brethren, and in peace and good will to all men, on the 13th of the 11th month, 1690, being then in the 67th year of his age. (George Fox died on January 13, 1691, which was the 11th month of 1690 by the then-used Julien calendar, and was interred in the Quaker Burying Ground at Bunhill Fields in London. He was 66 years of age.)
Upon the 16th of the same month, (being the sixth of the week, and the day appointed for his funeral), a very great concourse of Friends, and other people of divers sorts, assembled together at the meetinghouse in White-hart court near Gracechurch-street, about the middle time of the day, in order to attend his body to the grave. The meeting was held about two hours with great and heavenly solemnity, manifestly attended with the Lord's blessed presence and glorious power; in which divers living testimonies were delivered, from a lively remembrance and sense of the blessed ministry of this dear and ancient servant of the Lord, his early entering into the Lord's work at the breaking forth of this gospel day, his innocent life, long and great travels, and unwearied labors of love in the everlasting gospel, for the turning and gathering many thousands from darkness to the light of Christ Jesus, the foundation of true faith; the manifold sufferings, afflictions, and oppositions, with which he met for his faithful testimony, both from his open adversaries and from false brethren; and his preservations, deliverances, and dominion in, out of, and over them all, by the power of God: to whom the glory and honor always was by him, and is and always ought to be by all ascribed.
After the meeting was ended, his body was carried by Friends and accompanied by very great numbers to the Friends' burying-ground near Bunhill-fields; where, after a solemn waiting upon the Lord, and several living testimonies born, recommending the company to the guidance and protection of that divine spirit and power by which this holy man of God had been raised up, furnished, supported and preserved to the end of his day, his body was decently committed to the earth; but his memorial shall remain, and be everlastingly blessed among the righteous.
(Note: The letter of Margaret Fell below was not in the 1831 Journal, and Thomas Ellwood's testimony is a repeat portion of his Introduction to this Journal. )
Addition from Margaret Fell's book, Undaunted Zeal, the Letters of Margaret Fell, Letter Number 157:
To Friends and Sisters, November 19, 1691
"And now he is entered into his Celestial Rest and Glory,
where he lives for evermore;
and his Spirit lives with us."
George Fox died in London on January 13, 1691. He was surrounded by Friends, including William Penn, who immediately wrote to Margaret:
"I am to be the teller to you of sorrowful tidings .. that your dear husband and my beloved and dear friend, George Fox has finished his glorious testimony."
There was heavy mourning among Friends, for the leader of the Quakers; as they were preparing for the funeral, the 'session was interrupted by the tears and groans of men of stature of William Penn and George Whitehead, people whose emotions were usually under tighter control.' Over four thousand people attended the funeral service itself, and it took more than two hours of funeral procession to walk the one mile to Bunhill Fields, the Quaker burial ground. (Ingle, pp. 844-285) .
Margaret Fell's letter to friends/Friends in London demonstrates the close connections that bound together the women of the movement. Margaret expresses her thanks for their care of her husband and for their love and kindness to her, "my very dear and tender love in the Lord, is dearly remembered to you, as if I named you, one, by one."
Swarthmore, the16th of the 9th, month, 1691:
Dear Friends and Sisters in the Lord.
In what was in the beginning, now is: and shall be everlastingly for ever: - in these senses, do I write these few line unto you, aknowledging your tender love and care to me, and my dear husband, when he was with you, in his service and travels for the Lord. As for you tender care and love unto him, you will have an everlasting reward. Now he is entered into his celestial rest and glory, where he lives for evermore and his spirit lives with us. Dear Friends, as we keep in his eternal testimony, that he published to the world, we shall live unto God. Many thousands are gathered to God by this testimony, and shall be to the end of the world. I received your kind and dear letter, and am very much comforted and satisfied with your love therein. I trust in the Almighty God that as we keep in the same spirit, life, and power, and abide in it, we shall be preserved and kept unto God, to the end, and in the end. Now my dear Friends, my very dear and tender love in the Lord, is dearly remembered unto you, as if I named you, one by one. Your tender love and kindness, when I was with you, I cannot forget. May the Lord continue his mutual love among us, that not any of us wax cold; but that we may live in the heat of the Son of Righteousness, and there we shall grow, and bring forth fruit to God, and be unto him trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified, in us and through us.
Dear Friends, I am not unsensible of your great care and service for the Lord, and his eternal truth. Therefore I counsel you, in the power of the Lord, to continue in it and to give up freely to it, in the strength and wisdom of God. You are sure to have comfort and satisfaction at the present, and in the end, and everlasting and eternal reward. Now I let you know that I am well in the Lord, in every way, praised and honored be his holy name. Both my son and daughters, their children and families, are all well. And their dear love is remembered dearly unto you all, as we are all engaged to you, for your dear love and kindness to you, for your dear love and kindness to us. - From
Your dear Friend and sister in the Lord,
From Friend's Library,Vol XI, Letters of Early Friends, pp. 387-388
London, the 15th of Eleventh month, 1690
To Henry Coward, Thomas Green, Thomas Dockrey, Richard Barrow, William Higginson, and Thomas Widders.
MY dear Friends and well-beloved brethren, with whom my life is bound up in the covenant of God's gracious, glorious light, in which consists our life and peace. As we keep our habitations and dwelling places therein, we shall be preserved near unto the ocean of all love and life, and know the fountain unsealed, and the springings of it to bubble up in our own particular bosoms; in which we may drink together into the one Spirit, by which we are sealed, in the enjoyment of the heavenly power that sanctifies; in the living sense and consoling virtue of which, according to measure, I do dearly value you all.
Well, dear Friends, before this comes to your hands, I [conclude] you have an account of the departure of our ancient Friend and honorable elder in the church of God, George Fox; who was this day buried, in the presence of a large and living assembly of God's people, who did accompany him to the ground, and was supposed to be above 4000 Friends. The meeting-house at Gracechurch-street could not contain them, nor the court before the door,— many could not get to within hearing of the testimonies. Many living, open, powerful testimonies were published in the meeting-house, and many in the grave-yard, among many tender hearts, watery eyes, and contrite spirits. The London Friends were very discreet, to order all passages and concerns relating thereto with great wisdom every way: there being six monthly meetings belonging to this city, six chosen Friends were nominated and appointed out of every monthly meeting, who were to carry the corpse, and none else; and that his relations should all go next the corpse; that all Friends should go on one side of the street, three and three in a rank, as close together as they could go,—that the other side might be left clear for the citizens and coaches, that were going about their business. The grave-yard is a large plot of ground, yet it was quite full, and some of the people of the world were there.
The last week George Fox was at the Quarterly meeting, the Second-day morning meeting, the Meeting for Sufferings, and at two meetings for worship; besides the first-day morning meeting, which was at Gracechurch-street meeting-house. On the seventh-day, he came to lodge at Henry Gouldney's, [in White Hart Court,] to be near on the first-day where he kept the meeting; and said he was as well in that meeting as he had been a long time before. Yet he began to be ill in the evening, about the fifth hour that first-day; and departed before the tenth hour in the evening of the third-day following. I was with him most of the time; where he spoke many living powerful sentences, to the tendering of the company present. There was no sign of any great pain upon him, neither did he ever complain. Robert Widders' manner of departure and his were much alike, for I saw them both; only George shut up his eyes himself, and his chin never fell, nor needed any binding up, but lay as if he had been fallen asleep,—one would have thought he had smiled. He was the most pleasant corpse that I ever looked upon, and many hundreds of Friends came to see his face, having the most part of three days' time to behold him, before the coffin was nailed up. Friends carried the coffin on their shoulders, without any bier, cloth, or cover, but the natural wood; yet the coffin was very smooth and comely.
Well Friends, about two hours or less before he died, he took me by the hand, and told me to remember his love to Friends where I traveled. I intended to go out of the city on the morrow after he began to be sick; but seeing him ill, it was Friends' mind I should stay, and see how it might be with him; and I had more freedom to stay than to go. I was glad to see such a heavenly and harmonious conclusion as dear George Fox made; the sense and sweetness of it, will, I believe, never depart from me: in the heavenly virtue of which, I desire to rest; and remain your brother.
P. S.—I go towards Oxfordshire tomorrow. I shall now give you an account of the Friends that declared, and as they spoke, one after another, namely: James Parke, Robert Barrow, Ambrose Rigge, Joseph Batt, William Penn, Francis Camfield, Charles Marshall, John Taylor of York, Francis Stamper, George Whitehead, Stephen Crisp; and Thomas Green ended in prayer.
The Friends who spoke at the grave were as follows:—William Penn, Joseph Batt, George Whitehead, John Vaughton, and William Bingley. I would have a copy of this go to Yallows, and another to Kendal.
From Friend's Library,Vol XI, Letters of Early Friends, p389
London, 15th of Eleventh month, 1690, [first mo. 1691 ]
LOVING FRIEND JOHN AIREY,—This comes to acquaint you, that that ancient, honorable, and worthy man, George Fox, is departed this life. He was at Gracechurch-street meeting on first-day last, and gave in his testimony among others: after meeting he fell into cold shivering fits, and grew worse and worse, and weaker until third-day last at night, between nine and ten, he died. In his weakness he desired to be remembered to all Friends, and advised and admonished Friends to flee to the power of God. He died sweetly and quietly, and was sensible to the last. After the meeting on fourth-day at Gracechurch-street, all or most of the Friends of the ministry there, went into a chamber close by; as well to console on the loss and death of that good man, as also to take care about his burial, which is ordered from this meeting-house tomorrow, [sixth-day,] about four in the afternoon. In the chamber was William Penn, Stephen Crisp, George Whitehead, John Taylor of York, William Bingley, John Vaughton, Francis Stamper, John Field, Samuel Waldenfield, John Boucher, and others; and only, as I remember, three of us not preachers.
While we sat together under the deep consideration of the loss of that good man, the wonderful power of God fell upon all in the room; insomuch that not one could contain themselves, but was broken down by the weight of that glory; so that for a considerable time there was nothing but deep sighs, groans, and tears. And after that all had settled and grew quiet in their minds, several of them, under that great sense, gave testimonies concerning him, too large here to insert. One said, "a valiant is fallen in Israel this day, and his place there would be vacant, if some faithful ones did not supply that glorious station he was in." Another, " that it was his faith, and that it was with him, that that Spirit and power which [had] in so large a measure, dwelled in that body, should extend itself into thousands." Another repeated the antiquity of his standing, service, and faithfulness to the end. Another, that he was a fixed star in the firmament of God's glory, and there he should shine forever. I hope I shall never forget that day; the remembrance of it is sweet. It is ordered that the elders and ancients of Friends take up the corpse first, and six are chosen and matched out of each of the six monthly meetings about London to carry, of which I am one for our quarter, and J. Beliam.
This letter is without signature, and is staled to be recorded in a Register Book of Friends at North Shields.
From Thomas Ellwood's Introduction And Appropriate Tribute to George Fox
He was valiant for the truth, bold in asserting it, patient in suffering for it, unwearied in laboring in it, steady in his testimony to it; immovable as a rock. Deep he was in divine knowledge, clear in opening heavenly mysteries, plain and powerful in preaching, fervent in prayer. He was richly endued with heavenly wisdom, quick in discerning, sound in judgment, able and ready in giving, discreet in keeping counsel; a lover of righteousness, an encourager of virtue, justice, temperance, meekness, purity, chastity, modesty, humility, charity, and self-denial in all, both by word and example. Graceful he was in countenance, manly in personage, grave in gesture, courteous in conversation, weighty in communication, instructive in discourse; free from affectation in speech or carriage. A severe reprover of hard and obstinate sinners; a mild and gentle admonisher of such as were tender, and sensible of their failings; not apt to resent personal wrongs; easy to forgive injuries; but zealously earnest where the honor of God, the prosperity of truth, the peace of the church were concerned. Very tender, compassionate, and pitiful he was to all that were under any sort of affliction; full of brotherly love, full of fatherly care. For indeed the care of the churches of Christ was daily upon him, the prosperity and peace of which he studiously sought. Beloved he was of God, beloved of God's people; and, (which was not the least part of his honor), the common butt of all apostates' envy, whose good notwithstanding he earnestly sought.
He lived to see the desire of his soul, the spreading of that blessed principle of divine light through many of the European nations, and not a few of the American islands and provinces, and the gathering of many thousands to an establishment therein; which the Lord gave him the honor to be the first effectual publisher in this latter day world. And having a good fight, finished his course, and kept the faith, his righteous soul, freed from the earthly tabernacle, in which he had led an exemplary life of holiness, was translated into those heavenly mansions, where Christ our Lord went prepare a place for his; there to posses that glorious crown of righteousness which is laid up for, and shall be given by the Lord the righteous judge, to all them that love his appearance. Ages to come in people left unborn shall call him blessed, and bless the Lord for raising him up, and blessed shall we also be, if we so walk as we had him for an example: for whom this testimony lives in my heart, He lived and died the SERVANT of the LORD.
(Thomas Ellwood was a fellow Quaker, friend of John Milton, (author of Paradise Lost), and the principal charged by Fox while still alive with the preparation of the Journal from Fox's written diary and letters.)
Tribute to Fox by Site Editor
There is ample evidence that Fox had a measure of Christ that we cannot even imagine without being able to see him and hear him, thus to hear the Holy Spirit speaking through him. Reading is good, but not nearly the same as hearing the Word of God spoken by the Spirit of God. Two of many examples of Fox's measure of Christ are the words of Quaker giants Edward Burrough and Francis Howgill:
In a letter to Margaret Fell, Francis Howgill said this: "Salute us dearly to George Fox; one hour with him would be great joy to us."
As Edward Burrough laid dying in Newgate prison, he said: " if he [George Fox] had been with me but an hour, I would be well." (Fox was away from London at the time).
If you read the Historical Early Quaker Letters on this site, you will see an unparalleled esteem for Fox by all. These were written by people who had heard him, who had seen and listened to his authority, his measure of Christ.
While Fox did not push his authority, he had a measure of Christ that no other early Quakers had; his life is a tremendous demonstration of faith and power. As another great worthy of the Lord, Isaac Penington, said:
And Friends, you that are weak, bless God for the strong; you that have need of a pillar to lean upon, bless God, that has provided pillars in his house; and, in fear and the guidance of his Spirit, make use of these pillars; who are faithful, and have ability from God, in his power and glorious presence with them, to help to sustain his building, even as they had ability from the Lord to gather unto him. He that despises him that is sent, despises Him that sent him; and he that undervalues any gift, office, or work, that God has bestowed upon any person, despises the wisdom and disposal of the Giver. Are all fathers? Have all overcome the enemy? Are all grown up in the life? Are all stars in the firmament of God's power? Has God made all equal? Are there not different states, different degrees, different growths, different places, etc.?
Then, if God has made a difference, and given degrees of life, and gifts different, according to his pleasure; what wisdom and spirit is that, which does not acknowledge this, but would make all equal? Oh my Friends! Fear before the Lord; honor the Lord in his appearances, and in the differences which he has made among the children of men, and among his people. He gave prophets of old, and the rest of the people were not equal with them. He gave evangelists, apostles, pastors, teachers, etc., and the other members of the churches were not equal with them. He has given fathers and elders now, and the babes and young men are not equal with them. Thus it is, in truth, from the Lord; and what is of God in you, will so acknowledge it.
Therefore watch, everyone, to feel and know his own place and service in the body, and to be sensible of the gifts, places, and services of others; that the Lord may be honored in all, and everyone owned and honored in the Lord, and not otherwise.
This is hard for some to accept, but God's church is not a democracy; and God is a God of order, and order requires a head on the earth. As Fox exhibited, he did not give orders to others, but rather was the source for the Lord to guide in the establishing of a governmental structure in the church, with accompanying procedures and policies; Fox then revealed the guidance, which mature others would immediately acknowledge as wise and worthy policy.
There is only one King, and that is Christ for all; but among his subjects, not all have the same authority and responsibility. William Caton, a young Quaker minister, was lamenting over his small stature in Christ, compared to some senior Quaker worthies he had observed, (Fox having convinced him at an early age); and the Lord gave Canton this classic understanding:
The Lord showed me how they that had much, had nothing left over; and they that had little, had no lack - just like it was with the Israelites of old. For the brethren who were wise and eminent, who had received much from the Lord, notice there was that much more required of them; so that however much they had, they had nothing over, but what they were to employ in the work and service of God.
By the mid 1700's, the Quakers had minimized the contribution of George Fox to the founding of the Society. Those then within the Society, had not experienced the necessities of: the baptism of death; crucifixion of the selfish spirit on the inward cross of self-denial, obtaining the same Spirit that guided the Apostles; regeneration; sanctification; union with Christ and God; and entering the Kingdom. Their definition of the cross became limited to wearing 17th Century clothing, while saying their thees and thous, and silently waiting in meetings once a week. This made them appear to be the same, but they didn't seek with their whole heart, or even understand the goal of seeking. Without the Spirit in control of their minds, the Quakers began to ignore Fox's and other early Quakers' counsel, changing the government left behind, (See Quaker Departure from the Truth for more). They falsely concluded that Fox had no more measure of Christ than themselves. Diminishing Fox, they began to emphasize instead the contributions of the Valiant Sixty, despite almost every one of the sixty having been convinced by Fox. But if you will notice throughout these writings on the web site, Fox was particularly held with unparalleled love and endearment by every Quaker writer, of which there are scores quoted.
I think many thousands of people have grossly underestimated the measure of Christ's spirit that dwelled with Fox. There are many letters, (but very few published), which show that Fox was regarded by many others that I can only imagine having for Christ himself; yet even Margaret Fell and her children held him in an esteem that I would describe as revered. As you read the early Quaker's other writings on this site, you will notice that they frequently refer to him as "dear George Fox," or "dear George;" a distinction seemingly reserved for him; thus his peers in the Kingdom had validated his extraordinary heavenly gifts and stature.
I believe that George Fox was unquestionably the greatest man to live on the earth since the Apostles; and in the next life, the truth of this belief will be clear to all. He walked in relative innocence as a child; he sought God with all his heart in his late teens; he had no written guidance like he has left us; he then ministered every day of his life for the next 48 years; he suffered unbelievable persecutions; and he built the Quaker faith from one to 650,000 in England alone, which faith exhibited the true ethnicity of the Church of Christ. To discount the heritage of his writings, his warnings, his encouragements, his exhortations, his reproofs, his testimonies, his clarifications of salvation — is a serious error to any and all. Having studied for 25 years Fox's spirit-breathed writings and impeccable record, I am thankful for his superior measure of Christ; giving me hope, that through Christ, I too can someday enjoy the fellowship of Christ and the Father, in the Kingdom of Heaven, walking and speaking in a way that honors and brings glory to my Master, and to my Father in Heaven; as did thousands who heeded him while he was alive.
I will close with the summary of William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania and mighty servant of Christ, who described Fox as "civil beyond all forms of breeding " and "he was in his praying the most awful, living, reverent frame I ever felt or beheld." Penn defined the superior accomplishments of George Fox with this immortal epitaph to his life:
"Many sons have done virtuously in this day, but dear George, thou excellest them all."
AN EPISTLE OF DEAR GEORGE FOX'S,
Written with his own hand, and left sealed up with this superscription, 'Not to be opened before the time;' which after his decease being opened, was thought suitable to be printed.
For the Yearly and second-day's meeting in London, and to all the children of God in all places in the world.
By and from George Fox
This for all the children of God everywhere, who are led by his spirit, and walk in his light, in which they have life, unity, and fellowship with the Father and the Son, and one with another.
Keep all your meetings in the name of the Lord Jesus, you that are gathered in his name by his light, grace, truth, power, and spirit; by which you will feel his blessed and refreshing presence among you and in you, to your comfort and God's glory.
And now Friends, all your meetings, both men's and women's, Monthly, Quarterly, and Yearly, were set up by the power, spirit, and wisdom of God; and in them you know that you have felt his power, and spirit, and wisdom, and blessed refreshing presence among you and in you,to his praise and glory and your comfort; so that you have been a "city set on a hill, that cannot be hidden."
And although many loose and unruly spirits have risen at times to oppose you and them, in print and other ways, you have seen how they have come to nothing. The Lord has blasted them and brought their deeds to light, and made them seen to be trees without fruit, wells without water, wandering stars from the firmament of God’s power, and raging waves of the sea, casting up their mire and dirt; and many of them are like the dog turned to his old vomit and the sow that was washed and then turned again to the mire. God and his people know this has been the condition of many!
Therefore all stand steadfast in Christ your head, in whom you are all one, male and female, and know his government, the increase of whose government and peace there shall be no end. But there will be an end of the devil's government and of all that are out of Christ, who oppose his government and him, whose judgment does not linger, and their damnation does not slumber. Therefore in God's and Christ's light, life, spirit, and power live and walk, that is over all (and the seed of it) in love, in innocence, and simplicity. In righteousness and holiness dwell, and dwell in his power and in the holy spirit, in which God's kingdom stands. All children of the new and heavenly Jerusalem, that is from above, and is free, with all her holy spiritual children; keep your eyes on her.
As for this spirit of rebellion and opposition that has risen in the past and now again: it is out of the kingdom of God and heavenly Jerusalem; and is for judgment and condemnation, with all its books, words, and works. Therefore Friends are to live and walk in the power and spirit of God that is over it, and in the seed that will bruise and break it to pieces. In which seed you have joy and peace with God, and power and authority to judge it; and your unity is in the power and spirit of God, that does judge it; all God's witnesses in his tabernacle go out against it, and always have and will.
Let no man live to self, but to the Lord, as they will die in him; and seek the peace of the church of Christ, and the peace of all men in him; for "blessed are the peacemakers." Dwell in the pure, peaceable, heavenly wisdom of God, that is gentle and easy to be entreated, that is full of mercy; all striving to be of one mind, heart, soul, and judgment in Christ, having his mind and spirit dwelling in you, building up one another with the love of God, which edifies the body of Christ, his church; he, who is the holy head of it. Glory to God through Christ, in this age and in all other ages; who is the rock and foundation, the Emanuel, God with us, Amen.
He is over all, and is the beginning and the ending.
In him live and walk, in whom you have life eternal,
in him you will feel me, and I will feel you.
All children of New Jerusalem,
that descends from above,
the holy city,
which the Lord and the Lamb is the light of,
and is the temple;
in it they are born again of the spirit:
so Jerusalem that is above,
is the mother of them that are born of the spirit.
These that come and are come to heavenly Jerusalem, receive Christ;
and he gives them power to become the sons of God,
and they are born again of the spirit;
so Jerusalem that is above,
is their mother.
Such come to heavenly mount Zion,
and the innumerable company of angels,
to the spirits of just men made perfect;
and to the church of the living God written in heaven,
and have the name of God written upon them.
So here is a new mother,
that brings forth a heavenly and spiritual generation.
There is no schism, or division, no contention,
nor strife in heavenly Jerusalem,
nor in the body of Christ,
which is made up of living stones,
a spiritual house,
Christ is not divided,
for in him there is peace.
Christ said, "In me you have peace."
And he is from above,
and not of this world;
but in the world below,
in the spirit of it there is trouble;
therefore keep in Christ,
and walk in him,
Jerusalem was the mother of all true Christians before the apostasy; and since the outward christians are broken into many sects, they have gotten many mothers; but all those that have come out of the apostasy by the power and spirit of Christ, Jerusalem that is above is their mother (and none below her); who does nourish all her spiritual children.
Read at the Yearly Meeting in London, 1691.
Reader please note, that these following papers and epistles (some of which being mentioned in the Journal, vol 2 p. 258 and there omitted) are found appropriate to be here inserted; and are as follows:
A narrative of the spreading of truth, and of the opposition from the powers which then were, written by George Fox, in the year 1676.
The truth sprang up first to us, so as to be a people to the Lord, in Leicestershire in 1644, in Warwickshire in 1645, in Nottinghamshire in 1646, in Derbyshire in 1647, and in the adjacent counties in 1648, 1649, and 1650; in Yorkshire in 1651, in Lancashire and Westmoreland in 1652, in Cumberland, Durham and Northumberland in 1653, in London and most of the other parts of England, Scotland, and Ireland, in 1654.
In 1655 many went beyond sea, where truth also sprang up, and in 1656 it broke forth in America and many other places.
In the authority of this divine truth, Friends stood all the cruelties and sufferings that were inflicted upon them by the long parliament; to the seizing of personal property, imprisonment, and death, and over all reproaches, lies, and slanders; as well as those in Oliver Cromwell's time, and all the acts made by him and his parliament; his son Richard after him, and the committee of safety; and after withstood and outlasted all the acts and proclamations since 1660, when the king came in.
Friends never feared their acts, prisons, jails, houses of correction, banishment, nor seizure of personal property; no, nor the loss of life itself; nor was there ever any persecution that came, but we saw how it would result in good; nor were there ever any prisons that I was in, or sufferings, except it was for the bringing multitudes out of prison; though they who imprisoned the truth, and quenched the spirit in themselves, would imprison and quench it without them; so that there was a time when so many were in prison, that it became as a by-word, "truth is scarcely any where to be found but in jails."
And after the king came in, many Friends suffered much, because they would not drink to his health, and say, "God bless the king;" so that many Friends were in danger of their lives from rude persons, who were ready to run them through with their swords for refusing it, until the king gave forth a proclamation against drinking “healths.” For we were and are against drinking any “healths,” and all excess, both before his coming in and after. We desire the king's good, and that the blessing of God might come upon him and all his subjects, and all people upon the face of the earth; but we did desire people not to drink the king's health, but let him have his health, and all other people too; and to drink for their own health and necessity only. For that way of drinking “healths,” and to excess, was not for the king's health, nor their own, nor any others'; which excess often brought forth quarrelling with and destruction of one another. For they destroyed the creation and one another; and this was not for the king's wealth, nor health, nor honor, but might grieve him to have the creatures and his subjects destroyed; and so the Lord's power gave us dominion over that also, and all our other sufferings. But,
Oh! The number of sufferers in the commonwealth's and Oliver Cromwell's days, and since; especially those who were drug before the courts for not paying tithes, refusing to swear on their juries, not putting off their hats, and for going to meetings on the first-days; under pretense of breaking the sabbath; and to meetings on other days of the week; who were abused both in meetings and on the highways.
Oh! How great were the sufferings then which we sustained for these actions! For sometimes they would drive Friends by droves in the prison-houses like sheep into their holds, confine them on the first-day, and take their horses from them, and keep them for pretended breach of their sabbath, though they would ride in their coaches and upon their fat horses to the steeple-houses themselves, and yet punish others. Many Friends were turned out of their homes and customary apartments, because in obedience to the command of Christ and his apostle, they could not swear; and as they went to meetings, they have been stoned through the streets, and otherwise cruelly abused. Many were fined with great fines, and laid long in prison for not taking off their hats, which fines Friends could never pay, though they kept them in prison until they had satisfied their own wills; and at last turned them out, after keeping them a year or more in prison.
Many books I have published against tithes, showing how the priesthood was changed that took them; and that Christ sent forth his twelve, and afterwards seventy disciples, saying unto them, "Freely you have received, freely give." So all who do not obey the doctrine and command of Christ as stated, we cannot receive them.
I was also moved to publish several books against swearing, and that our yes and no might be taken instead of an oath, which if we broke our word, let us suffer the same punishment as they who broke their oaths. And in Jamaica the governor and the assembly granted the thing; it is also granted in some other places; and several of the members of parliament in England have acknowledged the reasonableness of it. When the moderate of the magistrates saw our faithfulness in yes and no, both before and since the king came in, they would put Friends into offices without an oath. But the cruel and envious magistrates would fine Friends to get money from them, though they could not pay them any by conscience.
Thus the Lord's power has carried us through all, and over all to his everlasting glory and praise; for God's power has been our hedge, our wall and our keeper (the preserver of his plants and vineyard), who have not had the magistrates' sword and staff to help us, nor ever trusted in the arm of flesh, but have gone without these, or Judas' money bag, to preach the word of life, which was in the beginning before they were; which word reconciles to God. And thousands have received this word of reconciliation, and are born again of the immortal seed, by the word of God; and are feeding upon the milk of the word, which lives and abides for ever.
Many have suffered death for their testimony, in England and beyond the seas, both before and since the king came in; which may be seen in an account given to the king and both houses of parliament; being a brief, plain, and true relation of the late and sad sufferings of the people of God in scorn called Quakers, for worshipping and exercising a good conscience towards God and man.
For which reason eighty-nine have suffered until death, thirty-two of which died before the king came into England, and fifty~seven since, by hard imprisonment and cruel usage. Forty-three have died in the city of London and Southwark since the act made against meetings, about 1661, of which a more particular account was given, with the names of the sufferers to the king and parliament, about 1663.
[Of his true followers, Jesus said: 'No servant is greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.' (John 15:20). In Fox's time, there were five governments in England: Charles I, Oliver Cromwell, Charles II, James II, and William and Mary. During the reign of Charles II alone, 13,562 Quakers were imprisoned; 338 died from injuries inflicted in meetings or imprisonment, and 198 were sent into slavery over the seas. (Source: Catholic Encyclopedia). Under the first four rulers, Besse's Sufferings counts 869 Quakers who died in prison. When sent to prison, even their children were sold as slaves. Countless others had their personal and real property seized as 'spoils' for the taking by the courts; after conviction for refusal to swear, failure to remove their hat in court, traveling on Sunday, failure to attend state-approved religious services, failure to pay tithes to the state approved parsonages, and for meeting in a non-government-approved worship service.]
And though many laws were designed against us, yet none of them could ever justly touch us, being twisted and misapplied in their execution by our adversaries, which some have been made to acknowledge. All those laws that were made, and the oath for which they imprisoned us (because, in obedience to the command of Christ Jesus, we could not swear at all), were not originally intended against us; and yet we suffered by the several powers, and their laws, both seizure of personal property and imprisonment, even to death. And the governor of Dover castle, when the king asked him if he had dispersed all the sectarians' meetings? said, that he had; but the Quakers’ meetings the devil himself could not; for if he imprisoned them, and broke up their meetings, they would meet again; and if he beat them or knocked them down, or killed some of them, all as one they would meet, and not resist again. Thus the Lord's power did support and keep them over their persecutors, and made them to justify our patience and lamb-like nature. This was about 1671.
Since the king came in, three acts have been made against us, besides the proclamations, by which many have suffered imprisonment and banishment, and many to death. And yet for all these acts and proclamations, persecutions, sufferings, and banishments; faithful Friends are as fresh as ever in the Lord's power, and valiant for his name and truth.
When the king came in, some were weak and took the oath; but after they had done so, they were very troubled for disobeying the command of Christ and the apostle James; and so went to the magistrates, condemned themselves, and offered to go to prison.
Thus the Lord, in his everlasting power, has been the support and stay of his people; and still his seed reigns, his truth is over all, and exceedingly spreads unto this year, 1676.
A warning to the magistrates and people of the city of Oldenburgh:
Friends, Have you seen and felt the judgments of God upon your city, the Lord sending lightning from heaven, that destroyed and burnt it? As I passed through your city on a first-day of the week, which you call your sabbath, I saw some drinking, soldiers playing at shovelboard, and others with their shops open, and trading, when they should have been waiting upon God, and worshipping him; and your people were light and vain, without any sense of God's judgments, or repentance. Oh, therefore repent, for fear that the all-seeing God who sees all your actions, and is over all, brings swift judgment upon you in his wrath, fury, and indignation. Repent and lay aside all manner of evil, wickedness, ungodliness, and unrighteousness; for the day of the Lord will come upon all that do evil, all the workers of iniquity. This mighty day of the Lord will find them all out, and will burn as an oven; burn up all the proud and wicked, and neither leave them root nor branch. Therefore all you magistrates, priests, and people, search in yourselves to find out the cause, and what evil you have committed, that has brought the wrath, vengeance, and judgments of God upon you and your city, in the burning of it. All return, and come to the light of Christ in your hearts, to God's spirit, to the grace and truth in your hearts, that comes by Jesus Christ; that with it you may search your hearts. Do not grieve, or vex, or quench God's good spirit in your hearts; do not walk despitefully against the spirit of grace, or turn from it into wantonness; and yet make a profession of God and Christ in words, when your hearts are far off, living in pleasures, and wantonly upon the earth, sporting yourselves, killing the just, crucifying to yourselves Christ afresh, and putting him to open shame so dishonoring God, Christ, and Christianity, yet making a profession and a trade of the scriptures; keeping people always learning, (never arriving at the truth) that they may always be paying.
Cease from man, whose breath is in his nostrils, and look unto the Lord, all you ends of the earth, and be saved; for the Lord God of heaven and earth is come to teach the people himself by his light, spirit, grace, and truth, and to bring them off all the world's teachers. God has raised up Christ Jesus his prophet, whom people should hear; and said, "This is my beloved Son, hear you him." And Christ said, "Learn of me, I am the way, the truth, and the life; and no man comes to the Father, but by me." There is no salvation by any other name under the whole heaven, but by the name of Jesus, who said, "I am the good shepherd and have laid down my life for my sheep, and my sheep hear my voice and follow me, and will not follow the hireling:" for Christ feeds them in the pastures of life, that will never wither. God has anointed Christ Jesus to preach, if you will hear him; and God has given Christ for a counselor and a leader, if you will be led and counseled by him; and God has given Christ for a bishop to oversee you, and a king to rule you if you will be overseen and ruled by him. You who will not have Christ to rule over you, who never sinned, nor was guile found in his mouth, you may read his sentence in the New Testament upon such. Is not Christ a sufficient teacher, whose blood was shed for you, and tasted death for every man? Does not Christ say to his ministers, "Freely you have received, freely give?" And the apostle said, "We covet no man's gold, silver, or apparel." They labored with their hands, and kept the gospel without charge. Have those who are called ministers among you, done the same, and kept this command of Christ Jesus? Let them be examined, and examine themselves. Have you not washed your outsides? But look within with the light and spirit of Christ Jesus, and see if your insides are not black and foul. For Christ Jesus, who enlightens every man and woman in the world with the life in himself, said, "Believe in the light, that you may become children of the light." With the light you may see all the evil and ungodly deeds that you have committed, all your ungodly words you have spoken, and all your ungodly thoughts you think; that you may turn from them to Christ, from whom the light comes; who is your Savior and Redeemer, who has given you a light to see your sin, and that you are dead in Adam; that with the same light you may see Christ, the quickening spirit, who makes you alive to God, and saves you from your sin. But if you hate the light, which is the life in Christ, the Prince of life; and love the darkness and the prince of darkness more than the light or the life in Christ, because it will reprove you; Christ tells you, "this light will be your condemnation." John 3:19-20. Therefore be warned now in your day. While you have time, turn to the Lord. Do not quench the spirit of the Father, by which he draws to the Son; nor hate the light of Christ; for if you do, you hate the life in Christ, and so remain under condemnation from God and Christ with the light, who now speaks to his people by his Son, as he did in the apostles' days. The same God, that was the speaker by the prophets to the fathers, and speaker to Adam and Eve in paradise; and happy had Adam and Eve, and the Jews, and all christians been, if they had kept to this speaker, and not have followed the serpent, that false speaker, and his instruments. And now God is the true speaker by his Son, who bruises the head of the serpent, the false teacher, the head of all false ways, false prophets, false churches, and false religions and worships. So God in Christ is bringing people to the pure undefiled religion, that will keep them from the spots of the world, into the new and living way Christ Jesus; and to the church in God, which Christ is the head of, as he was in the apostles' days; and to worship God in the spirit and truth, which worship Christ set up above sixteen hundred years since. Therefore must all people come to the grace and spirit of truth in their own hearts, to know the God of truth, who is a spirit, and in the spirit and truth to worship, serve, honor, and glorify the living God, who is over all, and worthy of all, blessed for evermore, Amen!
You magistrates and officers, read this in all your assemblies, and cause all your priests to read it in their churches; that they and you and all people may hear and fear the God of heaven, as you will answer it at the great and terrible day of judgment, and vengeance of the Lord God Almighty. This is in love to your souls, and for your temporal and eternal good.
Amsterdam, the 19th of the 7th month, 1677
An epistle concerning true fasting, true prayer, true honor, and against persecution, and for the true liberty in Christ Jesus; that all may have a care that the apostle has not bestowed his labor in vain upon you in your observing of days, months, times, feasts, and years, and of coming under the impoverished tenets of the world, and the yoke of bondage again, and of bringing and forcing people into them.
Where did ever Christ or his apostles command any believers or christians to observe holy days (holidays) or feast-days? Let us see where it is written in the New Testament, in the four evangelists, the epistles, or the Revelation, that ever Christ or his apostles commanded Christians to observe the time called Christmas, or a day for Christ's birth? or to observe the time called Easter, or Whitsun tide, or Peter's, Paul's, Mark's, or Luke's, or any other saint's day?
You, that profess yourselves to be reformed churches from the Papists, Jews, and Heathens, and the scriptures to be your rule, and are professors of the new covenant, where do you prove out of the New Testament, that the apostles and the primitive church practiced or forced any such thing, or that Christ and his apostles gave any such command to the churches, that they should practice and observe any such days? Let us see where this command is written. Did not the apostle say to the Galatians in the fourth chapter, "But now, after that you have known God, or rather you are known of God, how can you turn again to the weak and impoverished tenets of the world, to which you desire again to be in bondage? You observe days, and months, and times, and years; I am afraid for you, I fear that I have given you may labor to no benefit." And in the third of Galatians it is said, "Oh foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, that you should not obey the truth." And in the fifth of Galatians, the apostle exhorts them to "stand fast in the liberty with which Christ has made them free;" and moreover said, "do not get entangled again with the yoke of bondage."
Does not this show there were some teachers that were drawing the church of the Galatians into these impoverished tenets of the world, and bringing them again into bondage, in observing of days, months, times, and years? It was the apostle's work to bring them out of those bondages and impoverished tenets of the world; therefore, when they were going back again into observing days, months, times, and years, he was afraid that he had" bestowed his labor upon them in vain;" and he exhorts them to "stand fast in the liberty with which Christ Jesus has made them free, and not to be entangled again with the yoke of bondage:" and again signifies, "that they had been once entangled with that yoke of bondage and impoverished tenets of the world." But Oh how are people called christians, since the apostles' days, gone again under this yoke of bondage, and these impoverished tenets of the world, in observing days, months, times, and years; let their practice declare. No, do not both Papists and Protestants force people to observe days, months, and times? And therefore, is not the apostle's labor and painful exercise given to Christendom in vain, which was to bring people from under such impoverished tenets of the world and that yoke of bondage, (which the law did require), so they could "stand fast in the liberty with which Christ has made them free, and not to be entangled again with the yoke of bondage?" It was and is Christ that has made and does make his people free from these impoverished tenets of the world (beggarly elements); therefore, the redeemed are to "stand fast in that liberty with which Christ has made them free." All true Christians are to stand fast in this liberty. They are made free by Christ, and not by man; for man, without the spirit and mind of Christ, seeks to force and compel Christ's followers, such as he has made free from the yoke of bondage, to outward things that the law commanded; to the observing of days, months, times, feasts, and years. From such weak, impoverished tenets of the world, those that know God, or are known of God and Christ, are to stand fast in their liberty, and not come under nor be entangled with the yoke of bondage again, seeing that he has made them free. For they that are in such things, and would force others into them, are gone from what gives the knowledge of God, and have not stood fast in the liberty with which Christ has made and makes free.
Concerning prayer, we never read that ever Christ or his apostles sought by force to compel any to fast or pray with them. But Christ taught them how they should pray, and to be distinct from the hypocrites. His words are as follow: "When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to stand praying in the synagogues, and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men, … But when you pray, go into your closet, and when you have shut the door, pray to your Father privately, and your Father, who sees your private prayer, will reward you openly. But when you pray, do not use vain repetitions of prayer, as the Heathen do; for they think that they shall be heard for their volume of speaking. Do not pray like them; for your Father knows what things you have need of before you ask him.” As the apostles and saints did, so we do; we pray in secret, and we pray in public, as the spirit gives us utterance, which helps our infirmities, as the apostles and true Christians prayed; after this manner we pray for ourselves, and for all men both high and low.
Concerning fasting, Christ said, "Moreover when you fast, be not as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance; for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. But when you fast, be joyful, and wash your face, so you do not appear to be fasting to men; to men you fast in secret, so that only your Father knows; and your Father who sees all, shall reward you openly."
You may see in Isaiah 58:1-6 what the true fast the Lord requires is, where it is said to the prophet, "Cry aloud, and spare not, lift up your voice like a trumpet, and show my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins; yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinance of their God; they ask of me the ordinances of justice, they take delight in approaching to God. Why have we fasted, say they, and you don’t see us? Why have we afflicted our soul, and you don’t know of it? Behold, in the day of your fast you find pleasure, and exact all your labors. Behold, you fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness; you shall not fast as you do this day, to make your voice to be heard on high. Is it such a fast that I have chosen? A day for a man to afflict his soul? Is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? Will you call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the Lord? Is not this the fast that I have chosen, said the Lord; to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke." So this fast that the Lord requires, is not to lay yokes, to oppress, and lay heavy burdens, and to make fast the bands of wickedness; but to loose and break such things.
Further, concerning the true fast the Lord requires, "Is it not to deal your bread to the hungry, and that you bring the poor that are cast out to your house? When you see the naked, that you cover him, and that you hide not yourself from your own flesh? (Do you keep this true fast?) Then shall your light break forth as the morning, and your health shall spring forth speedily: and your righteousness shall go before you, the glory of the Lord shall be your reward. Then shall you call, and the Lord shall answer; you shall cry, and he shall say, here I am. If you take away from the midst of you the yokes, stop making accusations, and speaking vanity; and if you draw out your soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall your light arise out of obscurity, and your darkness be as the noon day. And the Lord shall guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought, and make fat your bones; and you shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.”
Here is the practice of the true fast the Lord requires of his people; and to them that observe this fast, the Lord said, "When they call, he will answer." You may see what glorious and happy comforts they receive from the Lord that keep this true fast; but such as fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fists of wickedness, "to make their voices to be heard on high, to afflict their souls for a day, to bow down their head as a bulrush, and loose not the bands of wickedness, nor undo every heavy burden, break off every yoke, and let the oppressed go free, who does not deal his bread to the hungry, clothe the naked, and bring the poor to his house, but hides himself from his own flesh;" such fasts and fasters the Lord does not accept, neither has he chosen them. These appear to men with their disfigured faces, hanging down their heads as a bulrush for a day, like the hypocrites, to fast, as Christ speaks of in Mat 6:16-18.
Is it not the command of Christ, that in their fast they should not appear unto men to fast? And now you, that would force us to shut up our shops on fasting days, or for a day, does not this fast appear to men? And is not this the fast that the Lord said in Isaiah, "he does not accept?" for he said, "Is this the fast that I have chosen, a day for a man to afflict his soul, and bow down his head as a bulrush. Will you call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the Lord?" Isa 58:5.
Therefore, all God's people are to keep the true fast of the Lord from debate and strife and the fists of wickedness; that "fast that breaks the bands of wickedness, undoes every heavy burden, breaks every yoke, lets the oppressed go free, deals bread to the hungry, clothes the naked, and brings the poor that are cast out to his house." Everyone that keeps this true fast, their health shall grow; and when they call, the Lord will hear them; "he will be their guide continually, satisfy their souls in drought, make their bones fat, and they shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not." Now you, who keep not this true fast, when you call upon the Lord on your own fasting-days, does the Lord answer you, and say, "Here I am?" Does the Lord guide you continually? Are your bones made fat by him, and your souls satisfied in drought? Are you like a watered garden and like a spring whose waters fail not? You that keep not this true fast, do you not want these waters which fail not? So your souls are not satisfied in drought, but your bones are lean, and you hear not the voice of the Lord, who said, "Here I am;" so you lose the heritage of Jacob, and ride not upon the high places there; but come under. Therefore, every man and woman shut your hearts against all manner of evil whatsoever and trade not with Babylon's merchants of confusion; but keep the supernatural day of Christ, that is sprung from on high, that is kept by believing and walking in the light of Christ, and being grafted into him.' This will bring you to the true fast, from feeding upon any evil, and to the true praying in the spirit, as Christ and the apostles have taught. The fruit of the spirit is love, peace, joy, etc.
The birth of the spirit is not a persecuting birth; but he that is born of the flesh will persecute him that is born of the spirit, because he will not follow the birth of the flesh, with its weak, impoverished tenets of the world, that entangle with its yoke of bondage, and its observing of days, months, times, fasts, feasts, and years; which the birth of the spirit is to stand fast against in the liberty with which Christ has made it free.
Do you not know that the Turks keep their sabbath on the sixth day, the Jews upon the seventh day, and the Christians meet together on the first day of the week? And that day which the Turks keep, the Jews' and Christians' shops are open; and that day the Jews keep, Christians' and Turks' shops are open; and the first-days, that the Christians keep both Jews' and Turks' shops are open? The Turk does not force the Jews or the Christians to shut up their shops on their meeting days, but lets them have their liberty in Turkey. And where do you read that ever the Turks forced any Christians to observe any of their holy days, fasts, or feasts? If not, should not Christians be beyond the Turks in giving liberty to all tender consciences to serve God, seeing Christ and the apostles command not nor do they force people to observe holy days, or times, or months, or years, but should pray always in the spirit, and fast always from strife and debate, from all manner of sin and evil; and that will keep down the fist of wickedness, and the bond of iniquity? Why should not people of a tender conscience have their liberty to exercise their consciences towards God, that they may have a "good conscience always, towards God and man," to perform what God requires, and "to do unto all men as they would have them to do unto them, and to love their neighbors as themselves;" seeing so many debauched, evil and seared consciences, (as though done with hot iron), have liberty in their loose lives and conversations, and in their loose words, whose tongues are at liberty to swear and curse, and their spirits at liberty in drunkenness and uncleanness? Let the magistrates look and see how this evil seared conscience has its liberty to be exercised in all manner of evil things throughout christiandom; which is a great shame and dishonor to God, Christ, and Christianity, yes, and humanity. Therefore why should not God's people have liberty to exercise their good and tender consciences towards God and man? The mystery of faith, which Jesus Christ is the author and finisher of, is held in a pure conscience; and should not the work of the true Christian magistrate be to encourage the exercise of this pure conscience towards God and man, and to discourage the exercise of this evil seared conscience that dishonors both God and Christ, and true Christianity? If not, how are the magistrates a praise to them that do well, and a terror to evildoers?
Concerning not taking off our hats in respect to men: many, under the name of Christians, have taken offence at us because we could not take off our hats, and bow down to them; which we find no command from Christ or his apostles for, but rather to the contrary. For Christ said, "I receive not honor of men," (mark, he did not receive honor of men:) and further, "How can you believe, which receive honor one of another, and seek not the honor that comes from God only?" Now Christ declares it to be a mark of unbelievers, that seek "honor one of another," and seek not that "honor that comes from God only;" and is not the putting off the hat, and bowing with it, an honor to men, which they seek one of another, and are offended if they have it not? Do not the very Turks mock at the christians in their proverb, saying, "The christians spend much of their time in putting off their hats, and showing their bare heads to one another?" Should not those be beyond Turks, that bear the noble name of Christian, and be above seeking honor one of another, and persecuting them that will not give it, when all true believing christians should seek the honor that comes from God only? This is the duty of all true believers in Christ Jesus, for they do not seek to honor men, nor seek men to honor them. And, "he that believes on the Son of God has everlasting life; and he that believes not the Son, shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides upon him." John 3:36 Is not the Turks' proverb a reproach to the christians, who say, "That the christians spend much of their time in putting off their hats, and showing their bare heads one to another?" Have you not fined and imprisoned many, because they would not put off their hats to you, and show you their bare heads? In many of your courts they shall not have right and justice; nor liberty and freedom in cities or states, though they have truly served their time, and are honest and civil men, unless they will put off their hats, and show you their bare heads? Have you not made a law against such, that they must forfeit two guilders if they do it not? Do not you seek to compel and force them to do it, and fine such as do not, as at Lansmeer in Waterland? Is not this the honor that you seek one of another? Did not the Pharisees and Jews do the same?
As for your saying, "the apostle commands believers to honor all men; and such as rule well are worthy of double honor:" if this "honoring all men" were to put off their hats to all men, and show all men their bare heads, then this command you break yourselves, for you do not do this to all men generally; and if they that rule well, must have double honor, then for them hats must be taken off twice, their bare heads must be shown twice. If this hat-honor, and showing the bare head, is an invention of men, and not from God, (and you cannot prove it by scripture, still you say, "it is our rule,") then you act besides the rule, and compel people to act contrary to your rule. For where did ever the prophets, Christ, or the apostles command any such thing? Let us see a command, a practice, and an example for it. Nebuchadnezzar, who was a persecutor, and cast the three children of Israel into the fire with their hose, cloaks, and hats; we do not read that he was offended at them because they did not take off their hats, and show him their bare heads; but because they would not bow to his image. And is it not said in the margin of the bible, where it is said, "honor all men," "have all men in esteem?" Then they that rule well, are worthy of double esteem; and this esteem must be truly in the heart, without any envy, malice or hatred. As all men are the workmanship of God, they are to be esteemed in the heart with the spirit of God; and they that rule well are worthy of double esteem. Here is true honor from the heart, both to God and man, his workmanship. For people may put off their hats and show their bare heads one to another once, or twice to the officers and magistrates, and yet be full of envy, malice, hatred, and murder in their hearts one against another; and give them that honor, as you call it, and yet speak or wish evil towards them, when they have turned their backs on them. The true honor or esteem in the heart to all men, as they are God's creation, is without any evil wish or thought in the heart to any, and they that rule well have the double esteem, whom God has placed over people. There is no evil in the heart that gives this respect, esteem, or honor, and brings them to love their neighbors as themselves, and to "do unto all men as they would have them do unto them," in that they esteem all men, and have a double esteem for them that rule well. This is beyond all the honor of putting off the hats once to all men, and twice to them that are worthy of the double honor, as you may call it. But we would ask christians, that practice this hat-honor, and showing one another their bare heads, who invented this honor, seeing they cannot prove that ever Christ or the apostles did command or practice any such thing, or Moses in the time of the law? Do not say or think that we had this practice of not putting off our hats from the Turk; for we were moved by the spirit of the Lord, before ever we heard of the Turks' proverb and practice, to leave the honor that is below, and seek the honor that comes from above, when we came to be true believers in Christ Jesus.
Concerning persecuting, imprisoning, and banishing God's people, in whom Christ is manifest, and dwells in their hearts, does not Christ tell you, that in so doing you imprison him? Then do you not banish him, and persecute him out of your cities and corporations? And how can you enter into and have a share in his kingdom, though you may profess him in words? Are not such to go into everlasting punishment, that do not visit Christ in prison? Then what will become of you, that banish and imprison him, where he is manifest in his members, nor allow them to meet together to enjoy him among them, according to his promise? Therefore you, that will not let Christ reign in his people, and have his liberty in them in your cities and countries, to exercise his offices, you will not have your liberty in heaven. You that will not let Christ reign in your hearts, nor allow him to reign in his people here upon the earth, in this world, in your kingdoms, you will not reign with Christ in heaven, in his kingdom, nor in the world without end.
You, that banish the truth out of your cities, or countries, or his people for its sake, you banish the truth and Christ out of your heart from ruling there; so you yourselves are not the temples of God. When you have banished Christ and his truth out of your own hearts, you banish such, in whom he rules, out of your estates and country; then see what judgments the Lord does bring upon you, when you are left to yourselves; yes, fears and troubles, one judgment after another, comes upon you, until you are even filled with them. But the banished and the sufferers for truth and Christ's sake have a peaceable habitation in the truth, which the devil is out of and cannot get into; which habitation will outlast all the habitations of the wicked and persecutors, though they be never so full of words without life and truth. The life and the truth will outlast all lofty doctrines; and Christ the Lamb, and his patient seed, will overcome the devourer with his impatient seed; and they that have the garment, the righteousness of Christ, which is the fine linen, will find it to outlast all the rags and inventions of men. Christ said to his learners, "Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world, the persecuting world." He also said to his disciples, "Do not be amazed that the world hates you, for it hated me before you." Therefore let all that profess themselves christians, lay aside persecution about religion, churches or worship, fasting or praying days; for you have no command from Christ and his apostles to persecute any. Christ, who is the King of kings, and Lord of lords, when they called him a deceiver, blasphemed him, and said, "He had a devil," did not persecute any of them for it, nor force or compel any to hear and believe him, nor the apostles after him; but he told them, that would have been plucking up the weeds, "let the weeds and the wheat grow together until the harvest." So you have no command from Christ or his apostles to persecute, imprison, banish, or spoil the goods of any for matter of pure conscience and religion, worship, faith, and church in the gospel-times.
Harlingen in Friesland the 11th of the 6th month, 1677
A warning to the magistrates, priests, and people of the city of Hamburg, to humble themselves before the Lord, and not to be high-minded.
Friends, You have painted and garnished the inside of your outward houses and high places; but look within your hearts with the light of Christ, with which he has enlightened you and every man and woman in the world, and with it you may see how foul your hearts and insides are with sin and evil, which Christ tells you should make clean; who told the Pharisees how they "painted the sepulchers of the righteous," and they themselves were full of rottenness and corruption. Therefore look into yourselves and your own hearts, what you are full of. To paint the sepulchers of the righteous apostles, and make a trade and a profession of their words, without the same Holy Spirit, power, light, and truth which they were in, will not stand the day of God's vengeance. Therefore repent while you have time, turn to the Lord with your whole hearts, and do not think yourselves secure without a sense of his immediate almighty protection. For it is not all your works, nor all your own strength, power, and defense that can protect you. It is not for you to look at them, and think yourselves secure, and to sit down in your security, and let your hearts be merry, and at rest, and at ease. When the Lord brings a scourge upon you, that you are filled with terrors and fears, remember you were warned, that you were at ease, but not in the true rest. Then all your own strength and force will be of no benefit; you will acknowledge that God must protect you. Therefore take warning; for your priests and people are too high, are swallowed up too much in this world. The vanities of it carry your minds away from God; your care is more for the world than for God, and more after the riches of this world than after the riches of the world that has no end. Do you not know that all your heaps of outward treasure must have an end, and that you must leave them all behind you? Therefore I am to warn and advise you, both high and low, priests and people, to come to the grace, light, and truth that comes by Jesus Christ; to the manifestation of the good spirit of God, which is given you for profit; that with this grace, truth, light, and spirit of Christ, you may turn to him from whom it comes, who said, "Learn of me;" and God said, "This is my beloved Son, listen to him.” So all the children of the new covenant, that walk in the new and living way, do hear Christ their prophet, that God has raised up, and anointed to be their teacher and priest. So now, God does speak to his people by his Son, as he did in the apostles' days. The Lord is come to teach his people himself by his grace, light, truth, and spirit, and to bring them off from all the world's teachers, made by men since the apostles' days; who have kept people always learning, that they may always be paying of them. And he is come to bring them off all the world's religions, to the religion that he set up in the apostles' days in the new covenant, which is pure and undefiled before God in his sight, and keeps from the spots of the world. And the Lord is come to bring them off all the world's churches, to the church in God, which Christ the heavenly man is head of; and to bring them off all the world's worships, to worship God in spirit and in truth, which Christ set up above sixteen hundred years since. So all men and women must come to the spirit and truth in their hearts, by which they must know the God of truth who is a spirit: and then in the spirit and truth they will worship him, and know what and whom they worship. Also the Lord has come to bring his people off all the world's temples, that with the spirit they may know their bodies to be the temples of the Holy Spirit. And the Lord is come to bring his people off all the world's crosses, pictures, images, and likenesses; to know that the power of God is the cross of Christ, which crucifies them to the world, and brings them up into the likeness and image of God man and woman were in before they fell; and so to Christ that never fell. This work must all know in their hearts by the light of Christ Jesus, who "is the true light that lights every man that comes into the world." It is called the light in man and woman, and the life in Christ the word; who said, "Believe in the light, that you may become children of the light." And the light lets you see all your evil actions that you have committed, your ungodly ways you have walked in, and your ungodly words and thoughts. If you hate this light, and love the darkness, and the prince of it, more than this light, which is the life in Christ, the Prince of life, and will not come to it, because your deeds be evil, and it will reprove you, Christ tells you, "this light is your condemnation." Then what is all your profession good for, when you remain under the condemnation of the true light, in which you should believe, and so become children of light, and out of condemnation? Therefore, everyone must believe in the light, if they receive Christ Jesus; and to as many as receive him, he gives "power to become the sons of God." He that has the Son of God, has life; they that have not the Son of God, have not life; and if you have not life, what good does all your profession of the scriptures from Genesis to Revelation do you, any more than the Jews, scribes, and pharisees, that would not receive Christ the life, upon whom God brought his overflowing scourge. Therefore do you take heed, for your strength will be no better than theirs, if you have not God and Christ's supporting power, when God's scourge comes upon you, and you are filled with horrors and fears. My desires are, that you may all repent, from the highest to the lowest, and not grieve, nor quench, nor vex, nor rebel against God's good spirit in you, nor "walk despitefully against the spirit of grace," nor turn from it unto unrestrained behavior; which grace would teach you, and bring your salvation. If you do walk despitefully, how can you escape the overflowing scourge of the Almighty, and the wrath of the Lamb? My desires are, that you may all obey God's good spirit of truth, which will lead you out of all evil into all truth, and reprove you for your own righteousness, and for your own judgment and sin, and bring you to cleave to what is good, to forsake what is evil, and to turn to the Lord, who will receive you in his mercy and kindness: by which means you may escape the overflowing scourge in the day of vengeance, which dreadful day is coming upon all evildoers. This is a warning to you, both for your temporal and eternal good; for you to read in your assemblies, and your priests in their churches; so that all people may hear and fear, as you will answer it at the terrible and dreadful day of judgment.
Amsterdam, the 19th of the 7th month, 1677
For the ambassadors that are met to treat for peace at the city of Nimeguen in the States' dominions.
Christ Jesus said, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God." Mat 5:9. So all Christian men are to forsake evil and do good, to seek peace and follow it, if they will "love life, and see good days." 1 Pet 3:11. God has called all true Christians unto peace, 1 Cor 7:15. Therefore, all Christians ought to follow this peace, which God calls them to. They should let the peace of God rule in all their hearts; which is above the peace of this world that is so soon broken. For the apostle commands the Christians to let the peace of God rule in their hearts; to which all Christians should be subject. The practice of this should be among all that profess Christianity; and this peace is above that which Christ takes from the earth. Rev 6:4. which is the peace of the wicked. The apostle said to Christians, "Be at peace among yourselves." 1 Thes 5:13. All Christians should obey this command, and be as peace among themselves; not in wars and strife. Further, the apostle exhorts Christians to "keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace." So this unity, this bond of peace should be kept (and not broken) by all that bear that noble name, Christian. They should keep the unity of the spirit of Christ in the bond of the Prince of princes', King of kings', and Lord of lords' peace, which is the duty of all true Christians. With this they may honor Christ, in bringing forth the fruits of peace, which are love and charity. For the apostle tells you, "The fruits of the good spirit are love, joy; and peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, etc." Gal 5:22-23.
The apostle exhorts Christians, "If it be possible, as much as lies in you, live peaceably with all men." This should be the endeavor of all Christians. For it is no honor to Christ, that Christians should war and destroy one another that profess the name of Christ, who said, "He came to save men's lives, not to destroy them." Christians have enemies enough abroad without them, and therefore they should love one another, as Christ commands, who said, "By this you shall be known to be my disciples, if you love one another." Christians are commanded to love enemies, much more one another. And Christ said, "As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you: continue you in my love." John 15:9. "By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." John 13:35. But if Christians war and destroy one another, this will make Jews, Turks, Tartars, and Heathens say, you are not disciples of Christ. Therefore, as you love God, and Christ, and Christianity, and its peace, all make peace, as far as you have power among Christians, that you may have the blessing. You read, Christians were called the household of faith, the household of God, a holy nation, a peculiar people; and they are commanded to be "zealous for good works," not for bad. Christians are also commanded not to bite and devour one another, so that they will not be consumed one of another.
Is it not a sad thing for Christians to be biting and consuming one another in the sight of the Turk, Tartars, Jews, and Heathens, when they should "love one another, and do unto all men as they would have men do unto them?" Such devouring work as this will open the mouths of Jews, Turks, Tartars, and Heathens to blaspheme the name of Christ, the King of kings, and Lord of lords, and cause them to speak evil of Christianity, for them to see how the unity of the spirit is broken among such as profess Christ and Christ's peace. All Christians are to mind God's and Christ's teaching, who teach Christians to love one another, yes, even enemies; and persuade kings and princes to give liberty to all tender consciences in matters of religion and worship, they living peaceably under every government; so that for the time to come there may be no more imprisonment and persecution among Christians for tender consciences about matters of faith, worship, and religion; that the Jews, Turks, Tartars, and Heathens may not see how Christians are persecuting one another for religion. Seeing from Christ and the apostles Christians have no such command, but, on the contrary, to love one another; and knowing that Christ said to such as would have been plucking up weeds, "Let the weeds and the wheat grow together until the harvest (which is the end of the world) for fear they plucked up the wheat;" and at the end of the world Christ would send forth his angels, and they should sever the wheat from the weeds. So Christ tells you, it is the angels' work at the end of the world, and not men's work before the harvest at the end of the world. Has not all this persecution, banishing, imprisoning, and putting to death concerning religion, been the pretence of plucking up weeds? And has not all this been before the harvest, before the end of the world? Have not all these been actors against the express command of Christ, the King of heaven? All kings and rulers, especially those that call themselves Christians, should obey their Lord and Savior’s command; "Let the weeds and the wheat grow together until the harvest;" and the harvest is the end of the world. Also, Christ told some of his disciples, that would have had "fire to come down from heaven, to destroy such as would not receive him (in their zeal) that they did not know what spirit they were of;" and rebuked them, saying, "He came not to destroy men's lives, but to save them." Have all such as have destroyed men's lives concerning religion, and the worship of God, known what spirit they have been of? Have they not done that they should not do? That which Christ did forbid, who said, "for fear that you should pluck up the wheat with the weeds," and said, "It is the angels' work at the end of the world;" has not God showed unto man what is good, and his duty, "to love mercy, to do justly, and to walk humbly with his God?" which man is to mind.
And the apostle exhorts Christians to “follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord." Heb 12:14. Why should Christians war and strive one with another, seeing they all own in words one King, and Lord and Savior Christ Jesus, whose command is, that they should "love one another;" which is a mark that they shall be known by, to be Christ's disciples, as I said before. And Christ, who is the King of kings, and Lord of lords, said, "As I have loved you, so love one another." John 15:12. and John 13:34. And the apostle said, "Christians ought to be patient towards all men." 1 Thes 5:14.
From him who is a lover of truth, righteousness, and peace, and desires your temporal and eternal good; and that in the wisdom of God, that is pure, gentle, and peaceable from above, you may be ordered, and order all things God has committed to you to his glory, and stop those things among Christians, so far as you have power, which dishonor God, Christ and Christianity!
Amsterdam, the 21st of the 7th month, 1677
END OF VOLUME II
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