Reproclaiming the Everlasting Gospel
Here is another example of how Fox viewed the so-called Sacraments, practiced by most of Chrstendom. This is also an example of how Fox understood the relationship between the people of God and Christ. The quote below is taken from The Works of George Fox, Vol. 1, pp. 364-366.
I was moved by the power and spirit of the Lord to open unto them the ' promise of God, that it was made to the seed, not to seeds, as many, but to one; which seed was Christ: and that all people, both male and female, should feel this seed in them, which was heir of the promise; that so they might all witness Christ in them, the hope of glory, the mystery which had been hid from ages and generations, which was revealed to the apostles, and is revealed again now, after the long night of apostasy. So that all might come up into this seed, Christ Jesus, walk in it, and sit down together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, who was the foundation of the prophets and apostles, the rock of ages, and is our foundation now. All sitting down in him, sit down in the substance, the first and the last, that changes not, the seed that bruises the serpent's head, which was before he was, who ends all the types, figures, and shadows, and is the substance of them all; in whom there is no shadow.' Now, these things were upon me to open unto all, that they might mind and see what it is they sit down in.
'First, they that sit down in Adam in the fall, sit down in misery, in death, in darkness and corruption.
Secondly, they that sit clown in the types, figures, and shadows, and under the first priesthood, law, and covenant, sit down in that which must have an end, and which made nothing perfect.
Thirdly, they that sit down in the apostasy, that hath got up since the apostles' days, sit down in spiritual Sodom and Egypt ; and are drinking of the whore's cup, under the beast and dragon's power.
Fourthly, they that sit down in the state in which Adam was before he fell, sit down in that which may be fallen from ; for he fell from that state, though it was perfect.
Fifthly, they that sit down in the prophets, sit down in that which must be fulfilled: and they that sit down in the fellowship of water, bread, and wine, these being temporal things, they sit down in that which is short of Christ, and of his baptism.
Sixthly, to sit down in a profession of all the scriptures, from Genesis to the Revelations, and not be in the power and spirit which those were in that gave them forth; that was to be turned away from, by them that came into the power and spirit which those were in that gave forth the scriptures.
Seventhly, they that sit down in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, sit down in him that never fell, nor ever changed. Here is the safe sitting for all his elect, his church, his spiritual members, of which he is the living head, his living stones, the household of faith; of which house he is the corner-stone, that stands and abides all weathers. For," as the apostle said, " he hath quickened us, who were dead in sins and trespasses, &c. and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus; that in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace, in his kindness towards us, through Jesus Christ." Now the ages are come, that his kindness and exceeding riches towards us through Jesus Christ is truly manifested in us, as it was in the apostles' days; even in us, who have been dead in sins and trespasses, as they were; but now are quickened, and made to sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, the first and the last, by whom all things were created; who is ascended above all, and is over all, and whose glorious presence is now known. All that sit down here, in Christ Jesus, see where all other people sit, and in what. The promise of God being to the seed, which is one, Christ Jesus, every man and woman must come to witness this seed, Christ in them, that they may be heirs of the promise; and inheriting that, they will inherit substance. These things were largely declared of ; the state of the church, and the state of the false church since the apostles' days, opened ; and how the true church fled into the wilderness : and the state of the false prophets, which Christ said should come, and John saw were come, and how all the world wandered after them ; and how they had filled the world with false doctrines, ways, worships, and religions : and how the everlasting gospel is now preached again to all nations, kindreds, tongues and people; for all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people had drunk the whore's cup, and she was over them, and sat upon them. In this night of apostacy the pure religion and worship in spirit, which was in the apostles' days, the way of life and living faith, and the power and holy ghost were lost ; but now they came to be set up again by Christ Jesus, his messengers and ministers of the gospel, as in the apostles' days. For as Christ sent his disciples to go and preach the gospel into all the world, and after that, the false prophets and antichrists went over the world, and preached their false doctrines and traditions, and heathenish and Jewish rudiments, so now again the everlasting gospel must be preached to all nations, and to every creature, that they may come into the pure religion, to worship God in the spirit and truth, and may know Christ Jesus, their way to God, and him to be the author of their faith, and may receive the gospel from heaven, and not from men ; in which gospel, received from heaven, is the heavenly fellowship, which is a mystery to all the fellowships in the world.'
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Thank you for transcribing these excellent words of Fox, Ellis. They are a pleasure to read because of their clarity, coherence, order, and wisdom. The so-called sacraments were never a part of the first- or second-generation faith, as the fifth instance Fox gives makes clear, and the following passage from Barclay affirms Fox's position:
So that the supper of the Lord, and the supping with the Lord, and partaking of his flesh and bloodis noways limited to the ceremony of breaking bread, and drinking wine at particular times; but is truly and really enjoyed, as often as the soul retires into the Light of the Lord,and feels and partakes of that heavenly Life, by which the inward man is nourished, which may be, and is often witnessed by the faithful at all times, though more particularly, when they are assembled together to wait upon the Lord (The Thirteenth Proposition, section III).
I thought it interesting that Fox in the sixth instance varies the word structure of the first sentence from "...they that sit down..." which he uses in all the other instances "...to sit down in...." What this change does is direct believers to make sure that they interpret Scriptures in the same spirit in which they were written and to turn away from doing otherwise. Had Fox used the same beginning to the sentence that he'd used elsewhere, he might have been directing us to turn away from those who interpret scriptures without the spirit in which they were written.
It's pure joy to read Fox! Even though I've just finished proofreading the second volume of the Journal, I
...would happily begin proofing the Epistles.
This is a wonderful observation, Patricia... if I understand you correctly, you're saying that Fox was being careful to tell us to turn away from the myriad delusions found in the world and the churches, but not from the poor, misguided people who are living under those delusions. Sort of like the spirit manifest in Jesus and Stephen: "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do."
My apologies, I forgot to give the citation of where this passage may be found. It comes from The Works of George Fox, Vol. 1 pp 364-366.
In this case of the sixth instance, Bill, I think that Fox is specifically addressing the error of reading the Scriptures without the spirit by which they were written. I don't see that it'd be appropriate to expand the meaning beyond the literal content of his words, in this passage. Each of the first six instances gives a distinct error that is typical in those who engage in a man-made faith, and Fox is enumerating them so that Friends can more easily discern and identify the particular problems they will encounter as they confront the worldly ones who do not know the pure faith that comes down from heaven, and instead substitute another.
Yes, I can see that, Pat. I guess I misunderstood the point you were making about the contrasting word structures. Correction accepted!