So the Lord’s power being over all, Friends were refreshed therein (The Works of George Fox, I, 393).
On Sixth month, the 12th, three Friends met to continue our New Foundation Fellowship monthly study of George Fox’s journal, and in this session, we read from volume 1, pages 391-394. The time was 1659; Fox had returned to London from his travels to “many counties in the Lord’s service” where “many were convinced”(391). At the beginning of the passage, Fox speaks of a vision of London he’d had “long before,” of the city lying “in heaps,” and of then seeing that vision realized several years later when fire had ravaged the city.
Fox’s work in London was to lay before the city’s influential a charge of “backsliding, hypocrisy, and treacherous dealing”(392), and the majority of this three-page journal passage is comprised of a scathing letter addressed to “the several powers.” Following his work in London, Fox’s spirit was drawn to Friends in western England, and he briefly describes meetings in those parts as “precious,” “blessed,” and “great”(393). Our reading concluded with a description of “a wicked man [who] put a bear’s skin on his back, and undertook with that to play pranks in the meeting,” and who shortly thereafter met with a gory but just end. Fox attributes the man’s demise to “divine vengeance,” and writes he would have such examples “teach others to beware”(394).
Our discussion begins at 9:38 with a look at Fox’s vision of destruction in London. Then follows one participant’s recounting of intimations of future events that he’d received over the years. From there, our discussion centers on the mystery of time, and inferences drawn from experiential insight into eternity (16:27). Issues of apostacy and idolatry occupy much of the discussion from 27:20 through 47:50: the conceptual image replacing the thing itself; doctrines supplanting experience; and the mind’s reflection usurping substance: all maneuvers that presage a soul given to idolatry. At 47:55, reference is made to Lewis Benson’s affirmation of “the outsider” as necessary to the gospel endeavor, this prompting a line of thought that leads to naming the primacy of the relationship with Christ, not the social group. Concluding our discussion is a personal story followed by a summary of the main gist of our discussion: the mutual exclusivity ever-present between idolatry and faith in Christ, the Substance: the latter being where true happiness is found.
Hence all their thinking has ended in futility, and their misguided minds are plunged in darkness. They boast of their wisdom, but they have made fools of themselves, exchanging the splendour of immortal God for an image (Rom. 1:22-23 NEB).
The recording has been edited to reduce periods of silence between speakers.