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William Evans.

The Friends' library : comprising journals, doctrinal treatises, and other writings of members of the religious Society of Friends (Volume 1) online

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follow him ; and will not follow any of the
world's hirelings, nor thieves, nor robbers,
nor climbers, that are without Christ, the door.
Likewise Christ's living children know Christ,
the bishop of their souls, to oversee them with
his heavenly and spiritual eye, that they may
be px'eserved in his fold of life, and go no more
forth. Also they know Christ, their holy priest,
that by the grace of God tasted death for them,
and for every man, and is a propitiation for
their sins ; and not for theirs only, but for the
sins of the whole world : and by the one of-
fering up of himself he hath perfected for ever
them that are sanctified. Such an high priest
becomes Christ's sheep in his new covenant
and testament, who is holy, harmless, and
separate from sinnei's, and is made higher
than the heavens ; who is not made a priest
after the order of Aai-on with his tithes, offer-
ings, &c., but he makes an end of all those
things, having abolished them, and is made a
high priest after the power of an endless life,
who ever liveth to make intercession for his
people ; and is able to save to the uttermost,
all that come to God through him. He is the
one holy Mediator betwixt God and man, who
sanctifies his people, his church, that he is
head of, and presents them to God without
spot, or wrinkle, or blemish, or any such thing;
and makes them a holy, I'oyal priesthood, to
offer up spiritual, holy sacrifices, acceptable
to God by Jesus Christ, who is King of all
kings, and Lord of all lords in the earth. He is
a holy, heavenly king who hath all power in
heaven and earth given to him ; and rules in
all the hearts of his sheep and lambs by his
holy, divine, precious faith, that is held in all



the pure consciences of his people : which
holy faith, Christ, the holy One, is the author
and finisher of. By this holy faith all the just
live, in it holy ones have unity ; and by it they
quench all the fiery darts of satan ; and have
access to the pure God, in which they please
him. Christ, who is set on the right hand of
the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, in
his New Testament and new covenant, is the
minister of the sanctuary and true tabernacle,
which the Lord hath pitched, and not man.
Therefore all the lambs and sheep of Christ
must feel this holy minister in their temple
and sanctuary, who ministers spiritual, holy,
and heavenly things to them in their sanctua-
ry and tabernacle. For all the tabernacles
and sanctuaries, that are built or pitched by
man, men make ministers for ; and such
ministers are of men and by men, with their
worldly sanctuaries and tabernacles of men's
pitching, by men's hands.

" And now, dear Friends and brethren
everywhere, that are of the flock of Christ :
Christ our passover is sacrificed for us. There-
fore let us all keep this heavenly feast of our
passover in his New Testament and covenant,
not with old leaven, neither of malice nor
wickedness ; but let all that be purged out,
with the sour old leavened bread, that all may
become a new lump : and so keep this heaven-
ly feast of Christ, our heavenly passover, with
the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
Amen. G. F."

After making a visit to several places near
London, attending and appointing some meet-
ings, he returned to the city ,• and the parlia-
ment then sitting, had a bill before them con-
cerning oaths, and one respecting clandestine
marriages. He, with other Friends, attended
the house, and had interviews with the mem-
bers, to guard against the insertion of any
clause in the bill, which would militate
against them.

He again retired to the country for a short
period, where he wrote two epistles — one ad-
dressed " to Friends in the ministry," as fol-
lows : —

" All Friends in the ministry everywhere,
to whom God hath given a gift of the minis-
try, and who use to travel up and down in the
ministry, do not ' hide your talent, nor put
your light under a bushel ; nor cumber your-
selves, nor entangle yourselves with the affairs
of this world.' For the natural soldiers are
not to cumber themselves with the woi'ld ;
much less the soldiers of Christ, who are not
of this world ; but are to mind the riches and
glory of the world that is everlastino-. There-
fore stir up the gift of God in 5'ou, improve it,
and do not sit down, Demas like, and embrace
this present world, that will have an end ; lest



102



MEMOIR OF GEORGE FOX.



ye become idolaters. Be valiant for God's
truth upon the earth, and spread it abroad in
the day-light of Christ, you who have sought
the kingdom of God, and the righteousness
thereof, and have received it and preached it ;
which ' stands in righteousness and peace, and
joy in the Holy Ghost :' As able ministers oi
the Spirit sow to the Spirit, that of the Spirit
ye may reap life everlasting. Go on in the
Spirit, ploughing with it in the purifying hope ;
and threshing, with the power and spirit ot
God, the wheat out of the chaff of corruption,
in the same hope. For he that looks back
from the spiritual plough into the world, is not
fit for the spiritual and everlasting kingdom ot
God ; and is not like to press into it, as the
faithful do. Therefore you that are awakened
to righteousness, and to the knowledge of the
ti'uth, keep yourselves awakened in it : then
the enemy cannot sow his tares in your field ;
for truth and righteousness are over him, and
before he was. My desires are, that all may
fulfil their ministry, that the Lord Jesus Christ
hath committed to them ; and then by the blood
(or life) and testimony of Jesus you will over-
come the enemy that opposes it, within and
without. All you that preach the truth, do it
as it is in Jesus, in love ; and all that are be-
lievers in Jesus, and receivers of him, he gives
them power to become the sons of God, and
joint-heirs with Christ ; whom he calleth bre-
thren ; and he gives them the water of life,
which shall be a well in them, springing up to
eternal life ; that they may water the spiritual
plants of the living God. So that all may be
spiritual planters, and spiritual waterers ; and
may see with the spiritual eye the everlasting,
eternal God over all to give the increase, who
is the infinite fountain. My desires are, that
you may be kept out of all the beggarly ele-
ments of the world, which is below the spirit-
ual region, to Christ the head ; and may hold
him, who bruiseth the head of enmity, and
was before it was ; that ye may all be united
too-ether in love, in your head, Christ, and be
ordered by his heavenly, gentle, peaceable
wisdom to the glory of God. For all that be
in Christ, are in love, peace, and unity. In
him they are strong, and in a full persuasion;
and in him, who is the first and last, they are
in a heavenly resolution and confidence for
God's everlasting honour and glory. Amen.

" From him, who is translated into the king-
dom of his dear Son, with all his saints,
a heavenly salutation. And salute one
another with a holy kiss of charity, that
never faileth.

" G. F.

" Ford-Green, the 25th of the
&th month, 1690."



The other was more particularly for Friends
in the ministry who were gone to America ;
as follows : —

" Dear Friends and brethren, ministers, ex-
horters, and admonishers, that are gone into
America and the islands thereaway. Stir up
the gifi; of God in you, and the pure mind, and
improve your talents ; that ye may be the light
of the world, a city set upon an hill, that can-
not be hid. Let your light shine among the
Indians, the Blacks, and the Whites ; that ye
may answer the truth in them, and bring them
to the standard and ensign, that God hath 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 ye may be the salt of
the earth, that ye 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 savour to
God. All grow in the faith and grace of
Christ, that ye 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 negli-
gent, but keep up your Negroes' meetings and
your family meetings ; and have meetings with
the Indian kings, and their councils and sub-
jects 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 mind-
ed 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 chari-
ty. O therefore, be awakened to righteous-
ness, and keep awakened ; for the enemy sow-
eth 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 straggling, and ploughing with their
ox and their ass, in their woollen and linen
garments, mixt stuff, feeding upon torn food,
and that dieth of itself, and di'inking of the
dregs of their old bottle, and eating 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 unlea-
vened bread of sincerity and truth. This un-
leavened bread of Life from heaven makes all
hearts and souls glad and joyful, lightsome
and cheerful, to serve and love God, and to



MEMOIR OF GEORGE FOX.



103



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 hath need of the
hand, and the hand hath need of the foot :
the ear hath need of the eye, and the eye of
the ear. So that all the members are service-
able in the body which Christ is the head of;
and the head sees their service. Therefore
let none despise the least member.

" Have a care to keep down that greedy
earthly mind, that raveneth and coveteth after
the riches and things of this world ; lest ye
fall into the low region, like the Gentiles or
heathen, and so lose the kingdom of God that
is everlasting : but seek that first, and God
knows what ye 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 ! G. F.

"Tottenham, the 1 1th of the
10th month, 1690."

The last production of this kind bears date
the day before he was taken sick, and is ad-
dressed to Friends in Ireland, to console and
encourage them, under the sufferings they
were then enduring.

The following day he went to Grace-church
street meetinsf, in which he was engaged in
testimony and prayer, in a powerful and af-
fecting manner. As soon as the meeting was
over, he withdrew to the house of Henry
Gouldney, a Friend who lived near, and re-
mai'ked that 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 — fully
clear." He laid down to rest himself, but
finding the sensation of coldness increase, he
soon after went to bed, with symptoms of in-
creasing weakness. His mind, which for a
long course of years had been engaged under
the influence of the universal love of God, in
endeavouring to promote the everlasting wel-
fare of mankind, and to draw souls to Christ,
rose superior to the infirmities and pains of
the frail tenement it occupied, and still evinced
a lively and unabated interest in the promo-
tion of this glorious cause.

He sent for several of his particular friends,
and at this awful crisis communicated to them
his mind respecting matters connected with
the welfare of the church, and his desire for
the spread of Friends' books ; that those prin-
ciples which he had so long personally



advocated might thereby be diffiised in the
earth.

The triumphant state of his mind amid the
decay of expiring nature, was manifest by his
expressions to those who visited him : saying,
" All is well — the Seed of God reigns over all,
and over death itself. — Though I am weak in
body, yet the power of God'is over all, and
the Seed reigns over all disorderly spirits."

A few hours before his death he was asked
how he found himself; and with that fortitude
and indifference to corporeal sufl^ring for
which he had been remarkable through life,
he replied, " Never heed — the Lord's power
is over all weakness and death. — The Seed
reigns ; blessed be the Lord." Enjoyino- the
use of his mental faculties to the last, and that
victory over death which is the gift of God,
through Jesus Christ our Lord, he contem-
plated his approaching change with a holy
quietude and composure, and even closed his
eyes and mouth himself, at the time that life
was expiring.

In this heavenly and prepared frame, his
spirit quitted its earthly tenement, on third-
day, the 13th of the eleventh month, 1690,
between the houx's of nine and ten at nisht ;
he being then in the 67th year of his age.
His dying-bed was surrounded by many of
his beloved friends, who, though they could
but rejoice in his eternal gain, yet were deep-
ly affected with their own and the church's
loss. Three days after his decease, his body
was conveyed to the meeting house in Grace-
church street, where a large and solemn meet-
ing was held, for about two hours ; during
which time, ten Friends, among whom were
George Whitehead, William Penn and Ste-
phen Crisp, appeared in testimony, and Tho-
mas Green closed the meeting with prayer.
The company, which William Penn estimates
at two thousand, and Robert Barrow states
the number much higher, then proceeded to
Friends' burial-ground, in Bunhill fields, where
the corpse was. decently interred, and five
Friends bore testimony to the sufficiency of
of that Divine Power which had raised up and
qualified this extraordinary man for the work
of his day, and enabled him to adorn the doc-
trine of God his Saviour in a consistent life
and conversation.

Having now closed the life of George Fox,
it may not be uninteresting to make some
general remarks on the business he was en-
gaged in, and also the estimation in which he
was held by his cotemporaries who were most
intimately acquainted with his character.

From the fact of his being almost constantly
engaged in the work of the ministry, it is ob-
vious that he could not undertake any business
which required his personal attention, and of



104



MEMOIR OF GEORGE FOX.



course none which would yield him much
profit. But he had a mind contented with a
little, and so far from seeking to be rich, he
even refused it when circumstances placed it
in his power. It appears that he was part
owner of two vessels which sailed out of Scar-
borough, and had also a small share in other
business. The reader of these sketches will
remember, that in the early part of his life he
mentioned his having enough to keep himself
from being chargeable, and also to administer
to the wants of others. Mention is made in
several of his letters of small sums of money
lodged in the hands of different Friends, and
from the best estimate that can be made, his
whole property appears to have been worth
about three thousand five hundred dollars,
exclusive of one thousand acres of land in
Pennsylvania, which he says William Penn
gave him ; but it does not appear ever to have
come into his possession so as to be of any
benefit to him. His property was probably
all patrimonial, for though Margaret Fell was
a woman of large estate, he seems scrupulously
to have avoided enriching himself by it. Pre-
vious to his marriage to her, he sent for her
daughters, and in the presence of their mother
inquired if their father's will had been fulfilled
and whether their mother's estate was so set-
tled, that they would not be the losers by her
marriage to him. To which they replied it
was, and desired him to speak no more of it.
" I told them, says he, I was plain and would
have all things done plainly, for I sought not
any outward advantage to myself."

Though much separated from his nearest
connexions, yet in the various relations of a
son, husband and father-in-law, he appears to
have conducted himself so as gain the tender
affection of all, and his wife's children in a
written testimonial to his memory, say that
they found him a tender father who never failed
to give them wholesome counsel ; and that the
esteem they entertained for him in early life,
was increased by a longer and more intimate
acquaintance.

His mental faculties were clear and vigorous ;
and though deprived of the benefit of much edu-
cation, yet he cultivated various branches of
useful knowledge. He was the friend, instead
of the enemy of useful learning, and not only
promoted the establishment of several schools
which he frequently visited, but spent consid-
erable time and pains in acquiring a knowledge
of one or more of the ancient languages. A
piece of ground which he owned near Phila-
delphia, he gave for a botanical garden for
" the lads and lasses of the city to walk in,
and learn the habits and uses of the plants."

In person he was tall and rather corpulent,
his countenance manly, intelligent, and grace-



ful ; and his manners, says William Pcnn,
were " civil beyond all forms of breeding."
If some of his expressions sound more plain
and harsh than is agreeable to the refinement
of modern times, we should recollect the tem-
per and manners of the age in which he lived
were very different from the present, and that
such forms of speech were then common.
There is, however, a remarkable change in
this respect toward the latter part of his life,
his writings breathing a mildness which is
peculiarly grateful. His contemporary bio-
grapher says " he was of an innocent life —
no busy-body ; no self-seeker, neither touchy
nor critical. What he said was very inoffen-
sive if not very edifying. So meek, contented,
modest, easy, steady; it was a pleasure to be
in his company. A most merciful man, as
ready to forgive as unapt to take offence,"

Plis ministry was deep, searching, powerful ;
and though not ornamented with the elegancies
of literature, yet he possessed the tongue of
the learned in another and higher sense, and
could speak "a word in due season to the con-
ditions and capacities of most, especially to
them that were weary and wanted soul's rest,
being deep in the divine mysteries of the king-
dom of God."

Not only was he frequently engaged in
opening the doctrines of the Christian faith in
a clear and convincing manner, but having a
sense and discernment given him of God re-
specting the states of his auditory, he spake
to them under the leading of the Holy Spirit
very pertinently, to their admiration and con-
vincement, an instance of which was related
by an ancient woman Friend as follows : viz.

" And now. Friends, I will tell you how I
was first convinced. I was a young lass at
that time, and lived in Dorsetshire, when
George Fox came to that county ; and he
having appointed a meeting, to which people
generally flocked, I went among the rest; and
in my going along the road, this query arose
in my mind : ' What is that I feel which con-
demneth me when I do evil, and justifieth me
when I do well ? What is it V In this state I
went to the meeting. It was a large gathering,
and George Fox rose up with these words :
' Who art thou that queriest in thy mind, what
is it which I feel, which condemneth me when
I do evil, and justifieth me when I do well 1 I
will tell thee what it is. Lo ! He that formeth
the mountains and createth the wind, and de-
clareth unto man what is his thought ; that
maketh the morning darkness, and treadeth
upon the high places of the earth ; the Lord,
the God of Hosts is his name. It is He by
his Spirit that condemneth thee for evil, and
justifieth thee when thou dost well. Keep
under its dictates, and it will be thy preserver



MEMOIR OF GEORGE FOX.



105



to the end.' " To this narration the ancient
Friend added, " It was the truth, the very
truth, and I have never departed from it."

" But above all, says William Penn, he ex-
celled in prayer. The inwardness and weight
of his spirit ; the reverence and solemnity of
his address and behaviour ; the fewness and
fulness of his words, have often struck even
strangers with admiration ; as they used to
reach others with consolation. The most
awful, living, reverent frame I ever felt or
beheld, I must say, was his, in prayer. And
truly it was a testimony that he knew and
lived nearer to the Lord than other men ; for
they that know Him most, will see most rea-
son to approach Him with reverence and fear."

As has been the ca.se with many other emi-
nent and faithful servants of Christ, he had to
endure opposition and envy from some jealous
spirits in his own Society, who grudged him
that authority and dignity with which the
Truth clothed him, and sought to lessen his
services and prejudice the minds of others
against him. Here again William Penn re-
marks respecting him : " He bore all their
weakness and prejudice, and returned not re-
flection for reflection ; but forgave them their
Aveak and bitter speeches. And truly I must
say, that though God had visibly clothed him
with a divine preference and authority, and
indeed his very presence expressed a religious
majesty ; yet he never abused it, but held his
place in the Church of God with great meek-
ness, and a most engaging humility and mode-
ration. For upon all occasions, like his blessed
Master, he was a servant to all, holding and
exercising his eldership, in the invisible power
which had gathered them, with reverence to
the Head, and care over the body. I write
my knowledge, and not report, and my witness
is true ; having been with him for weeks and
months together on divers occasions, and those
of the nearest and most exercising nature ; and
that by night and by day, by sea and by land ;
in this and in foreign countries ; and I can say,
I never saw him out of his place, or not a
match for every service and occasion."

Thomas EUwood, another contemporary and
intimate friend of George Fox, sums up his
character in the following manner: —

" He was valiant for the truth ; bold in as-
serting it; patient in suffering for it; unwearied
in labouring in it ; steady in his testimony to
it ; immoveable 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.

Vol.. L— No. 3,



meekness, purity, chastity, modesty, humility,
charity, and self-denial in all ; both by word
and example. Graceful he was in counte-
nance ; manly in personage ; grave in gesture ;
courteous in conversation ; weighty in com-
munication ; 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 in-
juries; but zealously earnest where the honour
of God, the prosperity of truth, or the peace
of the chui'ch was concerned. Very tender,
compassionate, and pitiful he was to all that
were under any sort of affliction ; full of bro-
therly love ; full of fatherly cai-e : for indeed
the care of the churches of Christ was daily
upon him, the prosperity and peace whereof
he studiously sought. Beloved he was of God ;
beloved of God's people ; and (which was not
the least part of his honour) the common butt
of all apostates' envy, whose good, notwith-
standing, he earnestly sought. He lived and
died the servant of the Lord."

Having completed these brief sketches of
the life and character of George Fox, it may



Online LibraryWilliam EvansThe Friends' library : comprising journals, doctrinal treatises, and other writings of members of the religious Society of Friends (Volume 1) → online text (page 23 of 105)