George Fox (1624 - 1691)
View images and photos of the speaker George Fox. Was an English Dissenter and a founder of the Religious Society of Friends, commonly known as the Quakers or Friends. This was a group the Lord started through the ministry of George Fox. God called him apart from all other forms of Christendom in his day because of the lack of Biblical obedience and holiness.
The emphasis in George Fox's ministry was firstly prophetic. He called out the people of God to show them that they had the Holy Spirit of God and could be taught of Him and not to solely rely on the teachings of ecclesiastical leaders. Secondly, he spoke directly to many ministers in his day to show them they were hirelings and did not have a true shepherds heart for the people of God rather they were seeking after financial gain.
Epistle to the King and Parliament from George FoxDescription: George Fox was indeed born at Drayton-in-the-Clay, Leicestershire, England (now known as Fenny Drayton), 24 km (15 miles) southwest of Leicester. His father, Christopher Fox, was a weaver, called "righteous Christer" by his neighbours; his mother, Mary Lago, washe tells us"of the stock of the Martyrs". From childhood, Fox was of a serious, religious disposition. His education was based around the faith and practice of the Church of England, of which his parents were members; he had no formal schooling, but was able to read and write. Even at a young age, he was fascinated by the Bible, which he studied continually. "When I came to eleven years of age," he said, "I knew pureness and righteousness; for, while I was a child, I was taught how to walk to be kept pure. The Lord taught me to be faithful, in all things, and to act faithfully two ways; viz., inwardly to God, and outwardly to man."
George Fox 1Description: Fox had some experience among "English Dissenters", groups of people who had broken away from the major churches because of their unusual beliefs. He had hoped that the dissenters would be able to help his spiritual understanding, where the established church could not, but this was not the case: he fell out with one group, for example, because he maintained that women had souls. From this comes the famous passage from his journal:
But as I had forsaken the priests, so I left the separate preachers also, and those esteemed the most experienced people; for I saw there was none among them all that could speak to my condition [address my spiritual needs]. And when all my hopes in them and in all men were gone, so that I had nothing outwardly to help me, nor could tell what to do, then, oh, then, I heard a voice which said, "There is one, even Christ Jesus, that can speak to thy condition"; and when I heard it my heart did leap for joy. Then the Lord let me see why there was none upon the earth that could speak to my condition, namely, that I might give Him all the glory; for all are concluded under sin, and shut up in unbelief as I had been, that Jesus Christ might have the pre-eminence who enlightens, and gives grace, and faith, and power. Thus when God doth work, who shall let [hinder] it? and this I knew experimentally [through experience].
George Fox 2Description: In 1648 Fox began to exercise his ministry publicly: he would preach in market-places, in the fields, in appointed meetings of various kinds, or even sometimes in "steeple-houses" after the priests had finished. His preaching was powerful, and many people were convinced to share his beliefs in the spirituality of "true religion". The worship of Friends, in the form of silent waiting, seems to have been well-established by this time, though it is not recorded how this came to be. It is not even clear at what point the Society of Friends was formed, but there was certainly a group of people who often travelled together. The term "children of the light" was at one time used, as well as simply "friends". Fox seems, however, to have had no desire to found a sect, but only to proclaim what he saw as the pure and genuine principles of Christianity in their original simplicity though he afterward showed great prowess as a religious legislator, in the organization which he gave to the new society.
Fox's preaching was grounded in scripture, but mainly effective because of the intense personal experience he was able to project. He was scathing about contemporary morality, and urged his listeners to lead lives without sin though avoiding the Ranter (or Antinomian) view that all acts of a believer became automatically sinless. At the time, there were a great many rival Christian denominations holding very diverse opinions; the atmosphere of dispute and confusion gave George Fox an opportunity to put forward his own beliefs at the frequent meetings between representatives of each sect. By 1651 he had gathered many other talented preachers around him, and continued to roam the country seeking out new converts. They continued to do this despite a harsh reception from some listeners, who would whip and beat them to drive them away.
George Fox 3Description: Now, as I went towards Nottingham, on a Firstday, in the morning, going with Friends to a meeting there, when I came on the top of a hill in sight of the town, I espied the great steeple-house. And the Lord said unto me, "Thou must go cry against yonder great idol, and against the worshippers therein."
I said nothing of this to the Friends that were with me, but went on with them to the meeting, where the mighty power of the Lord was amongst us; in which I left Friends sitting in the meeting, and went away to the steeple-house. When I came there, all the people looked like fallow ground; and the priest (like a great lump of earth) stood in his pulpit above. He took for his text these words of Peter, "We have also a more sure Word of prophecy, whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day-star arise in your hearts." And he told the people that this was the Scriptures, by which they were to try all doctrines, religions, and opinions. Now the Lord's power was so mighty upon me, and so strong in me, that I could not hold, but was made to cry out and say, "Oh, no; it is not the Scriptures!" and I told them what it was, namely, the Holy Spirit, by which the holy men of God gave forth the Scriptures, whereby opinions, religions, and judgments were to be tried; for it led into all truth, and so gave the knowledge of all truth. The Jews had the Scriptures, and yet resisted the Holy Ghost, and rejected Christ, the bright morning star. They persecuted Christ and His apostles, and took upon them to try their doctrines by the Scriptures; but they erred in judgment, and did not try them aright, because they tried without the Holy Ghost.
George Fox 4Description: But that day the Lord's power sounded so in their ears that they were amazed at the voice, and could not get it out of their ears for some time after, they were so reached by the Lord's power in the steeple-house. At night they took me before the mayor, aldermen, and sheriffs of the town; and when I was brought before them, the mayor was in a peevish, fretful temper, but the Lord's power allayed him. They examined me at large; and I told them how the Lord had moved me to come. After some discourse between them and me, they sent me back to prison again. Some time after, the head sheriff, whose name was John Reckless, sent for me to his house. When I came in, his wife met me in the hall, and said, "Salvation is come to our house." She took me by the hand, and was much wrought upon by the power of the Lord God; and her husband, and children, and servants were much changed, for the power of the Lord wrought upon them.
George Fox 5Description: This was Thomas Carlyle's considered opinion about the poor, uneducated English shoemaker, George Fox. So hard was his itinerate preaching life that he made for himself that famous pair of leather breeches, which have since become historical. Those breeches were known all over the country, says Macauley the historian. In the middle of the 17th century men feared the man dressed in that famous suit as much as the Jordan spectators, centuries before, feared the man who had the leathern girdle about his loins and who ate locusts and wild honey. And rightly so, for George Fox and John the Baptist were kindred spirits. George Fox first saw the light of day in 1624 at Drayton-in-the-Clay, Leichestershire, England. His godly parents belonged to the Church of England and endeavored to bring up their children in the fear of the Lord. George's first step in his long quest for spirituality was at the age of eleven when he surrendered his heart to the Lord. Ever after, he sought to live an honest and upright life.
George Fox 6Description: The Reformation fires of one hundred years before had burned themselves out. Among the clergy there abounded much education, loose-living, and ease. The Protestant church had a name to live but was dead. George Fox did not enjoy any personal direct communion with God until he was nineteen. Then for some time his soul was full of strange longings and continual reachings out after God. The Christians he met did not possess what they professed. So deeply was he grieved and distressed over examples of their hypocrisy that he could not sleep all night but walked up and down in his room praying to God. He sought help from man but found none. His relatives did not know what to make of George. One kind soul said that marriage was the remedy for his melancholic state of mind. Another preferred the view that he should enlist in the army. A third believed the use of tobacco and singing psalms would bring relief. No wonder the seeking soul thought that his advisers were all "miserable comforters." One man, supposedly experienced in the things of God, was "like an empty hollow cask" to George Fox. Seeking the advice of a clergyman, Fox accidentally stepped on the minister's flower bed, whereupon the angry cleric flew into a rage.
George Fox 7Description: Finding no help from men, Fox gave up seeking from that source. With the Bible as his guide, he began looking to the Lord alone for help. Slowly the light began to dawn upon him. He was led to see that only those who had passed from death to life were real believers in Christ. Once and for all Fox settled it that "being bred at Oxford and Cambridge did not qualify or fit a man to be a minister of Christ." When George Fox was about 23, he began preaching to others the truths revealed to him. He was mightily used of God. Thus he came in the nick of time "to save the church from deadness and formalism, and the world from infidelity." He was sent of God to call the church to real spiritual worship. Fox began his preaching with a limited education, without any special training, and without special advantages of any kind. He so preached that men got the shakes. The name Quaker was attached to Fox and his followers because of the quaking of the men who came to scoff but stayed to pray. Though he made others shake, no man could make him shake.
George Fox 8Description: Walking bare-footed through the crowded market at Litchfield, England, this man in the leather suit upraised his hands and voice, shouting, "Woe unto Litchfield, thou bloody city! Woe unto Litchfield!" He feared neither man nor the consequences of his tirade. At first the crowd was amused, then serious, then terrified. Here was a man with unquenchable zeal. He had "heard a voice." Beat him they might, cast him into prison they would, mock him as a madman they laughingly did. But still he proclaimed the message of Christ. Shut out of churches, George Fox made a stone his pulpit and preached to the crowds in the streets. Taken from the street meeting to the jail, he made the jail a cathedral to declare the wonderful works of God. Often he was found praising the Lord in a stinking prison cell. From judge to criminal, from Lord Protector to kitchen maid, Fox bore a burning witness. "He iterated the British Isles," says one of his biographers, "preaching and protesting as no man before him had ever done. In his preaching he wore out clothes, horses, critics, persecutors, and eventually himself." Many times Fox prophesied of future events that were revealed to him. Visions often came to him. Once in Lancashire, England, as he was climbing Pendle Hill, he had a vision of a coming revival in that very area. He "saw the countryside alive with men, all moving to one place." I have worshipped in the old mullion-windowed meeting house erected after the great visitation of God in that area.
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George Fox Preaching 2Description: “Woe to the Bloody City of Lichfield,” depicts George Fox preaching barefooted in the Market Square in Lichfield 1651
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