God hath given ability to every one according to their measure, (that are faithful to it,) and here is the righteousness of God received, and the wrath of God revealed upon the children of disobedience (Works, VII, 58).
On Seventh month, the 18th, six Friends met to read and discuss George Fox’s Epistle 46, which is found in the 1831 edition of Fox’s Works in volume 7, pages 58 and 59. Fox begins this epistle with a call to “unity, which is in the light”(58). It is Christ alone who gives faith, and all to whom this faith is given are in unity one with another. In minding the light, we are kept out of the world, “out of darkness [and brought] into the everlasting day.” The remainder of the two-page epistle contrasts the person “that loves the light [and] brings his deeds to the light”(58) with the people that “love darkness rather than light”(59).
Our discussion begins at 6:25 with several observations on the light’s activity within the soul. One participant then noticed that God’s love (although the first of Himself that God reveals to us) went unmentioned in this epistle. This topic of His love appeared at intervals throughout our discussion. The beginning theme of unity was picked up at 26:09 with a reading from Barclay’s Apology (Prop. 10, sect. 2) on the nature of the Church. The true Church – or Ecclesia – is comprised of those who have been called out of the world to enter into life in Christ, and in them alone is found the true unity. Defining “grace” occupied our discussion beginning at 42:16. At 53:14, one participant wonders about the causative relationship between putting the letter for the light and the perverseness that follows: putting darkness for light, evil for good. Here Fox writes of this reversal:
And it is thou, that puttest the letter for the light, which was given from the light, from them that walked in the light; but thou hating the light given thee, thou knowest not the conditions of them that had the light, but puttest darkness for light, and light for darkness; and so wo rests upon thee! It is thou that puttest evil for good, and the wo rests upon thee! (59)
Epistle 46 largely focuses on the contrasting conditions found in souls, according to which of two opposing forces rules within: 1) Christ, our righteousness, or 2) the devil, “a liar” and “murderer from the beginning”(Jn. 8:44). Fox ends this epistle with these words of warning:
And this light shall be thy condemnation, when the book of conscience is opened, which should exercise your conscience, which will condemn you. And the wrath of God abides upon the children of disobedience (59).