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George Fox 2

George Fox 2

Description: 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.

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