George Fox on ministry: excerpts from his journal
And when all my hopes in them [i.e., preachers, and "those called the most experienced people"] and in all men were gone, so that I had nothing outwardly to help me, nor could I tell what to do; then, oh then I heard a voice which said, "There is one, even Jesus Christ, that can speak to thy condition": and when I heard it, my heart did leap for joy. Then the Lord did let me see why there was none upon the earth that could speak to my condition, namely, that I might give Him all the glory; for all are concluded under sin, and shut up in unbelief, as I had been, that Jesus Christ might have the pre-eminence, who enlightens, and gives grace and faith and power. Thus when God doth work, who shall let it? And this I knew experientially. My desires after the Lord grew stronger, and zeal in the pure knowledge of God, and of Christ alone, without the help of any man, book, or writing. For though I read the Scriptures that spake of Christ and of God, yet I knew Him not, but by revelation, as He who hath the key did open, and as the Father of Life drew me to His Son by His Spirit.
I saw that Christ died for all men, and was a propitiation for all, and enlightened all men and women with His divine and saving light; and that none could be a true believer but who believed in it. I saw that the grace of God, which bringeth salvation, had appeared to all men, and that the manifestation of the Spirit of God was given to every man to profit withal. These things I did not see by the help of man, nor by the letter, though they are written in the letter, but I saw them in the light of the Lord Jesus Christ, and by His immediate spirit and power...
Now when the Lord God and His Son Jesus Christ sent me forth into the world, to preach His everlasting gospel and kingdom, I was glad that I was commanded to turn people to that inward light, spirit, and grace, by which all might know their salvation, and their way to God; even that divine Spirit which would lead them into all Truth, and which I infallibly knew would never deceive any.
But with and by this divine power and spirit of God, and the light of Jesus, I was to bring people off from all their own ways, to Christ, the new and living way; and from their churches, which men had made and gathered, to the Church in God, the general assembly written in heaven which Christ is the head of: and off from the world's teachers, made by men, to learn of Christ, who is the way, the truth, and the life, of whom the Father said, "This is my beloved Son, hear ye Him"; and off from all the world's worships, to know the Spirit of truth in the inward parts, and to be led thereby; that in it they might worship the Father of spirits, who seeks such to worship Him; which Spirit they that worshipped not in, knew not what they worshipped. And I was to bring people off from all the world's religions, which are vain; that they might know the pure religion, might visit the fatherless, the widows, and the strangers, and keep themselves from the spots of the world; then there would not be so many beggars, the sight of whom often grieved my heart, to see so much hard-heartedness amongst them that professed the name of Christ. And I was to bring them off from all the world's fellowships, and prayings, and singings, which stood in forms without power, that their fellowship might be in the Holy Ghost, and in the Eternal Spirit of God; that they might pray in the Holy Ghost, and sing in the Spirit, and with the grace that comes by Jesus; making melody in their hearts to the Lord, who hath sent His beloved Son to be their Saviour, and caused His heavenly sun to shine upon all the world, and through them all, and His heavenly rain to fall upon the just and the unjust as His outward rain doth fall, and His outward sun doth shine on all, which is God's unspeakable love to the world. And I was to bring people off from Jewish ceremonies, and from heathenish fables, and from men's inventions and windy doctrines, by which they blew the people about this way and the other way, from sect to sect; and from all their beggarly rudiments, with their schools and colleges for making ministers of Christ, who are indeed ministers of their own making but not of Christ's; and from all their images and crosses, and sprinkling of infants, with all their holy days (so called) and all their vain traditions, which they had gotten up since the apostles' days, which the Lord's power was against: in the dread and authority of which I was moved to declare against them all, and against all that preached and not freely, as being such as had not received freely from Christ.
But the black earthy spirit of the priests wounded my life; and when I heard the bell toll to call people together to the steeple-house, it struck at my life; for it was just like a market-bell, to gather people together that the priest might set forth his wares to sale. Oh! The vast sums of money that are gotten by the trade they make of selling the Scriptures, and by their preaching, from the highest bishop to the lowest priest! What one trade in the world is comparable to it? notwithstanding the Scriptures were given forth freely, and the prophets and apostles denounced judgment against all covetous hirelings and diviners for money. But in this free spirit of the Lord Jesus I was sent forth to declare the word of life and reconciliation freely, that all might come to Christ, who gives freely, and who renews up into the image of God, which man and woman were in before they fell, that they might sit down in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.
I asked him ["one called Dr. Cradock"] why he persecuted Friends for not paying tithes. And whether God ever gave a command to the Gentiles that they should pay tithes. And whether Christ had not ended tithes when He ended the Levitical priesthood that took tithes. And whether Christ, when he sent forth His disciples to preach, had not commanded them to preach freely, as He had given them freely. And whether all ministers of Christ are not bound to observe this command of Christ.
...and I told them, "God dwells not in temples made with hands." I told them also all their preaching, baptism, and sacrifices would never sanctify them; and bid them look unto Christ in them, and not unto men; for it is Christ that sanctifies. They ran into many words, but I told them that they were not to dispute of God and Christ, but to obey Him.
I directed them from darkness to the light, and to the grace of God, that would teach them, and bring them salvation; to the spirit of God in their inward parts, which would be a free teacher unto them.
I directed the people to their inward Teacher, Christ Jesus, who would turn them from darkness to the light.
Therefore I exhorted the people to come off all these things, and directed them to the spirit and grace of God in themselves, and to the light of Jesus in their own hearts, that they might come to know Christ, their free Teacher, to bring them salvation, and to open the Scriptures to them.
...I declared Truth amongst them, and directed them to the light of Christ in them; testifying unto them that God was come to teach His people Himself, whether they would hear or forbear.
I told them the gospel was the power of God, which was preached before Matthew, Mark, Luke and John or any of them were printed or written; and it was preached to every creature (of which a great part might never see or hear of those four books), so that every creature was to obey the power of God; for Christ, the spiritual Man, would judge the world according to the gospel, that is, according to His invisible power. When they heard this, they could not gainsay, for the truth came over them. I directed them to their teacher, the Grace of God, and shewed them the sufficiency of it, which would teach them how to live, and what to deny; and being obeyed, would bring them salvation. So to that grace I recommended them, and left them.
So the ministers of the Spirit must minister to the Spirit that is in prison, which hath been in captivity in every one, that with the Spirit of Christ people may be led out of captivity up to God, the Father of spirits, do service to Him, and have unity with Him, with the Scriptures, and with one another. This is the word of the Lord God to you all, a charge to you all in the presence of the living God; be patterns, be examples, in all countries, places, islands, nations, wherever you come; that your carriage and life may preach among all sorts of people, and to them; then you will come to walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in every one; whereby in them ye may be a blessing, and make the witness of God in them to bless you: then to the Lord God you will be a sweet savor, and a blessing.
Therefore be still awhile from thy own thoughts, searching, seeking, desires, and imaginations, and be staid in the principle of God in thee, that it may raise thy mind up to God, and stay it upon God, and thou wilt find strength from him, and find him to be a God at hand, a present help in time of trouble, and of need. And thou being come to the principle of God, which hath been transgressed, it will keep thee humble; and the humble, God will teach his way, which is peace, and such he doth exalt.
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