Reproclaiming the Everlasting Gospel
Following a lengthy discussion, Brenda Redshaw (of this site), asked me to look into what Fox had to say concerning Romans chapter 7. In searching for “Rom. vi” or “Rom. 7” I turned up very few references. So I turned to searches for the concepts or phrases Fox used when he identified Romans 7 in his writing. There may be a better approach, or I perhaps could have used better phrases. I hope all readers will do their own searches and contribute what they find of significance. Here is what I found.
Fox does not deal with Romans 7 exclusively but brings together concepts from chap. 6 (“newness of life”), chapter 7 (“oldness of the letter”), chapter 8 (“the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death”), chapter 10 (“Christ is the end of the law for righteousness’ sake.”), and many other parts of the Bible. Fox’s associations of scripture passages range the full gamut of the scriptures. See for example:
And as Moses in the old covenant sprinkled the people with the blood, the life of beasts; so Christ our high priest sprinkles the hearts and consciences of his people in the new covenant with his blood, his life, from their dead works, that they may serve the living God in newness of life:' and as the blood of the old covenant was the life of the beasts, so the blood of the everlasting covenant is the life of Christ the Lamb, ordained before the foundation of the world, who is the great shepherd of his sheep, through the blood of his everlasting covenant he makes his saints perfect in every good work to do his will, working in them that which is well pleasing in his sight.' (Works, Vol. V, pp.362-363)
Here we have the Pentateuch, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Hebrews, and Romans all rolled together to form the picture of the distinction between the newness of life and the oldness of the letter. Fox used this distinction over and over, portraying the contrast between those who live by the law of life in Christ Jesus and those who live by some other law. See his comment in Vol. 7 (pp. 88-89 )
For ye may see, how far many may go, and did go, and were led out of many things; yet did turn again into the world. So mind your present guide, and your present condition, and your call, what ye are called from, and what ye are called to; for whom the Lord hath called and chosen, are the Lord's freemen. And so, abide every one in your calling with God, where God hath called you, and there walk in newness of life, and not in the oldness of the letter; for he that turneth from him that calleth, walks not in the life of God. Therefore, all Friends, walk in the truth and in the love of it up to God; and every one in particular mind your guide, that ye may grow up in wisdom, and improve your own talents, and the gift which God hath given you. And take heed of words without life, for they tend to draw you out of the power to live above the truth, and out of your conditions; which nature will not have peace, except it have words. But every particular submit to that which is of God in you, to guide you to God.
Paul contrasted life under the law (portrayed in Romans 7) with life under Christ who is the end of the law for Righteousness sake (Romans 8 and 10). His rhetorical question and answer, which many quote as proof that man can’t live righteously before God, that sin will be taken care of finally at some future time, is:
O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin. (Rom. 7:24-25)
But for Fox, Romans 7 is not the end of the story. Like Edward Burrough, Fox could say, “But of that birth are we which hath no crown, no glory, nor rest under the sun: a birth is brought forth amongst us which is heir of another kingdom, and possessor of another crown, whose glorying is in the Lord all the day long; and he is our refuge, our rock, and our fortress against all our enemies.” (Vol. III, p. 6) In epistle CIV, Fox exhorts Friends to dwell in the power of God and to know (that is experience) the power of God to keep you. In epistle CV, he spells out how this is to be done.
CV.—Concerning the Light. (To be read amongst Friends.) All Friends every where, keep your meetings waiting in the light which comes from the Lord Jesus Christ; so will ye receive power from him, and have the refreshing springs of life opened to your souls, and be kept sensible of the tender mercies of the Lord. And know one another in the life, (ye that be turned to the light,) and in the power, which comes from the Lord Jesus Christ, who is your light, who is your life; that ye may all in the life see Christ to reign in you, who is the truth, from whence ye have light. Here the old serpent is chained, and put into the bottomless pit, and Christ is known to reign, and ye to reign with him; heirs with him, joint-heirs, and heirs of God. Here is the dominion received and witnessed of the world that is without end, and the promise of life from the Father of life to you, who are turned to the son, who to the Father is the way, who is the mediator between the Father and you. All wait to receive the everlasting priest, the everlasting covenant of God, of light, life, and peace; into which covenant no sin, no darkness, nor death comes, but the blessing of the only wise God, the Father of life, here is known, where no earthly man can approach. But he that is of God knows God's truth; and he that is of the devil, doth his lusts, who was a murderer from the beginning, in whom is no truth, who in it abode not. So he it is that speaks a lie, and speaks of himself, and not God's word; for he is out of the truth. But ye that are turned to the light walk in the light, walk in the truth, where no darkness is; with which light, that never changeth, ye may come to see that which was in the beginning, before the world was, where there is no shadow nor darkness. In which light as ye wait, ye will come to receive into your hearts the word of faith, which reconciles to God, and is as a hammer, to beat down all that is contrary; and as a sword, to divide the precious from the vile; and as a fire, to burn up that which is contrary to the precious: which word is pure, and endureth for ever; which was in the beginning, and is now again witnessed and made manifest. Therefore wait in the light, that ye may all receive it, the same word that ever was, which the scriptures were given forth from.
Thus, with Fox’s admonition, we do not find ourselves in a state of impotency having to wait for some future time when Christ will take away sin. Neither are we consigned to struggle and failure until some further work of grace descends upon us. Fox wrote in Vol. III:
Every man that cometh into the world, though they be in the first Adam, have a light from Christ the second Adam, the bishop of their souls. So every one being turned to the light which Christ the second Adam hath enlightened them withal, they shall see the bishop of their souls, Christ the power of God, which is immortal, and brings the immortal soul into the immortal God. Christ is their sanctification, who sanctifies their spirits, and bodies, and brings the soul up into God, from whom it came, whereby they come to be one soul. For in the lusts of the world, and the affections of it, is the war against it, and there are the powers of wickedness. The soul must be in the higher power, higher than the flesh, which stains the man, spirit and body, and the powers of wickedness. So the light being turned to, man receiveth the spirit of God, which sanctifies him, the spirit of sanctification in Christ Jesus the sanctification and redemption. So every man that cometh into the world has a light from Christ Jesus, the way out of the fall, the second Adam, and receiving the light he receives his redemption and sanctification, whereby his spirit, body, and soul are sanctified. (p.168)
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Fox believed that justification and sanctification are one, and as the human being abides in Christ, he abides in the perfection of God. The following exchange is with Priest Fergison, found in Works, III, 463:
Fergison: That there is no perfection to be attained to, while people live upon earth.
Fox: Then by thy doctrine, Christ is not attained to while man lives, which is contrary to the apostle's and Christ's own doctrine, who said, "I in you, and you in me": and "Christ in you the hope of glory." And then none abide in the vine by thy account, which is Christ; and none bear fruit to the glory of God who abide not in the vine, and who abide in the vine, abide in the perfection of God; and thou art contrary to the ministers of Christ, whose work was for the perfecting of the saints.
Fergison: That justification and sanctification differs.
Fox: Justification and sanctification are one; for Christ who is the justification and sanctification is one, and it is thou that differest from him.
There can be a voluntary turning away from sin and toward righteousness, but that is not justification, because it originates in human will; rather than being a gift of faith from God, it is but a human effort. This voluntary effort to make oneself right is the baptism of repentence for the remission of sins; it is John's baptism--not the baptism of the holy Spirit. We know from Scripture that John was the greatest prophet born of woman, but that the least in the kingdom is greater than John. This is to say: that repentence, or voluntary turning to Christ, our righteousness, is not of heaven; it is that which distinguishes it from justification and sanctification, these being of God and not of the flesh, nor of man, nor the will of man, but of God. John was sent to bear witness to the light, but he was not that light. Through him (repentence), people are readied to receive the baptism into Christ's death. As we are raised and abide in Christ, i.e., as we are in unity with him, we are justified and sanctified.
I am working on summarizing what Fox had to say about sanctification. Doing a word search for "sanctification" yielded 106 hits in Vol. III alone. That does not take into account similar words like "sanctify", "sanctified", or "sanctifier" nor does it include like concepts such as "perfection". I begin to think my summary will have to be about 8 volumes long! However, I will try to do something "blog-post-size" to put up on site.
Ellis wrote "Paul contrasted life under the law (portrayed in Romans 7) with life under Christ".
Indeed but was he talking about an unbeliever or not? That is the question. It is possible for a believer to be ignorantly serving under the law. I should have thought about this earlier, but the best place to look is probably Barclay's Apology and I will do this as soon as I can as I am a bit tied up today.
If anyone, early Quaker or not, believes that the man in Romans 7 is an unbeliever, then it poses certain problems which affect his whole belief system and what he expects of his Christian walk.
Yes Patricia I believe that justification and sanctification happen together, as you have stated, in contrast with the teaching of John Wesley and most in the holiness movement which resulted in a lot of confusion that was not there with the Quaker holiness movement. George clearly taught three states of a believer, baby, young man and father, the father being the state of entire sanctification which is distinct from sanctification which is an entering into that dimension.
I will get back later on why Romans 7 as an unbeliever is problemetic. But tell me is that the position of any here?
“Gyles Fermin, called pastor of the church at Shalfor in Essex, his book called, ‘Stablishing against Shaking.’” stated:
Please define what you mean by “believer”. Are you implying something other than what Fox is talking about in the above quote?
....the Apostles light taught them to say they were without sin, they had put off the body of sin and their sins and transgressions were blotted out. The sins of the 'little children' were forgiven, they that walked in the light 'the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth them from all sin' taught them to know the faith that gave them victory over the world"
To be born again is not synonymous with being a believer. To be born again is to be justified and sanctified. When Fox says 'little children' he is refering to 1 John:2 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous where they are implored not to sin and 1 John 12 I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name's sake. 13 I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one. I write unto you, little children, because ye have known the Father.
14 I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one.
So there are three stages as John is saying and the little children need reminding not to sin because they are not yet holy but are believers just as the disciples were believers when they followed Christ but had not yet had the Spirit breathed on them nor Pentecost and were still sinning.
I was dismayed to find that Romans 7 was barely quoted by Barclay and what he did write: Now I hope the Law of God is among the things of God, especially as it is written in the heart. The apostle, in the 7th chapter of the same epistle, saith (v. 12), that "the Law is holy, just, and good"; and (v. 14) that "the Law is spiritual, but he is carnal." Now in what respect is he carnal, but as he stands in the fall unregenerate?
However he goes on to say "So then as his calling himself "carnal" in chapter 7 can not be understood of his own proper state, neither can the rest of what he speaks there of that kind be so understood; yea, after (v. 24), where he makes that exclamation, he adds in the next verse, "I thank God, through Jesus Christ our Lord"; signifying that by him he witnessed deliverance, and so goeth on, showing how he had obtained it, in the next chapter, viz. 8:35, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?" And (v. 37),"
So it is a bit unclear.
Romans 7:5 For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. 16 If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. 19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. 20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
Further he says "22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man" . A man who has no knowledge of God does not delight in God's law. He obey's it in case he is caught and punished by the law of the land.
Nor does he cry out "24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?"
Paul is talking about a man who is commiting unintentional sin. He is struggling with two natures within, his old man and that which is God. A man who has never come to Christ for forgiveness does not have this struggle. If he even knows that he is sinning he reasons that he is no worse than other man.
The man is the same as the disciples who followed Christ but had yet to have the Holy Spirit within.
Brenda, If you have given a definition of "believer" I have missed it. I think you will have to spell it out. Thanks.
I would call a believer, a person who is in the same state as the disciples were who were following Jesus but had yet to be delivered from their sin nature. The disciples were frequently having difficulty understanding Jesus - they were not on the same wavelength yet and they sinned. They were influenced by the Holy Spirit but were not indwelt by Him.
A Christian is united with Christ and one with Him and without sin as sin cannot dwell in the temple.
I have had second thoughts. I should have stuck with scriptural terms. Paul calls them 'carnal' that is, those living in the flesh instead of the Spirit.