New Foundation Fellowship

Reproclaiming the Everlasting Gospel

A group of us were considering Fox's epistle 24, which contains the following passage:

And so, our unity and fellowship with vain man are lost, and all his evil ways are now turned into enmity; and all his profession is now found to be deceit, and in all his fairest pretences lodgeth cruelty; and the bottom and ground of all his knowledge of God and Christ is found sandy, and cannot endure the tempest. For being brought off from that foundation, and having suffered the loss of all, which seemed beautiful upon the sand, (which was there builded according to that wisdom which was not eternal, but was earthly, upon which the curse of God was, and yet doth remain, where it is standing,) we declare against that bottom and foundation, by the power of God, in that light of Christ, which discovers all false foundations, and makes manifest all sandy bottoms, which man hath builded upon. For where the only true seed takes root, there all man's plants and plantations are plucked up; for there the earth, in which the earthly plants grow, is broken up, ploughed up, and ripped up, and all things made manifest, which have lain hid in it. For in the earth dwell all the noisome creatures, and the evil beasts, which are hurtful to the creation: for in the earth the devil dwells and walks; but the earth being ploughed up, he is made manifest, and the seat of his dwelling is broken up. That mind, which doth speak of God, but lives not, dwells not, nor abides in the fear of God, that mind must suffer, and pass under the judgment of God, for the curse of God is upon that mind: for that mind is earthly, and of the earth, upon which the curse of God is. And that mind may talk of God, and speak of God, but not in union with God, nor from enjoyment of God in the spirit, nor from having purchased the knowledge of him through death and sufferings; but from hear-say of him, and from custom and tradition. But the true fear of God doth destroy that mind, which speaks of him, but doth not live in his fear: and that mind is raised up, which doth abide in his fear; and this is acceptable sacrifice, which is pure, clean, holy, and without spot. (Works Vol. 7, pp. 31-32)

While looking at the statement “...and in all their fairest pretenses lodgeth cruelty...”, one member of the group raised the question: “How do you know when you are living in pretense?”

I did not have an answer at the time, but this came to me later. By our own efforts to rid ourselves of pretense, we only layer one pretense on top of the previous. The reason for pretending is to disguise our lack of life; a fig-leaf-approach to the problem. The basis or foundation of our life is the breath of God (Genesis account of Creation) or our relationship with the Word, who was in the beginning (prologue of the book of John). Apart from this relationship of receiving the light that comes from the Word, we have no life, nor do we have anything of substance to offer to those looking for life. To offer me a pretense as a means of an escape from my grave is the utmost in cruelty. When the pretense fails, as they all do, my misery and despair is only increased.

Ezekiel, in the passage concerning the valley of bones, said, “Then He said to me, ‘Son of Man, these bones are the whole house of Israel; behold they say, “Our bones are dried up and our hope has perished. We are completely cut off.” Therefore, prophesy and say to them, “Thus says the Lord God, ‘Behold, I will open your graves and cause you to come up out of your graves...Then you will know I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves...and I will put my breath within you and you will come to life...’”’”

Echoing this passage, Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say unto you, an hour is coming and now is when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear shall live.” (John 5:25)

This is good news for all who want deliverance. It is easy to pretend when everyone is also in the grave. But when the grave is opened, your pretenses are wont to fly. Now you must either hang onto your pretensions or come to life; you must either clutch your fig leaves, or discard them and accept the clothing of the light that leads to the life in the Word.

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Comment by Patricia Dallmann on 12thMo. 30, 2015 at 14:36

It is our suffering that indicates we are living in pretension, for we suffer when our pretense insufficiently covers us, and we are exposed to (made aware of) our insufficiency as mortal, incomplete beings.

If we are given Life, our joy is whole; we are complete, without suffering, and we fear no loss—no threat that plagues the carnal mind and leads to false posturing of self-sufficiency.  Having known Life in Christ, we therefore develop a fear of God—the fear of being without Him—as alienation entails the painful experience of spiritual death, which, if feelings are allowed, will be felt as suffering. 

I recall a line from Fox's Journal about his seeing himself as he was without God:

Then the Lord gently led me along, and let me see his love, which was endless and eternal, surpassing all the knowledge that men have in the natural state, or can get by history or books. That love let me see myself, as I was without him; and I was afraid of all company: for I saw them perfectly, where they were, through the love of God which let me see myself (Works I: 74) [emphasis mine].

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