Monday, December 9, 2013

George Fox - The Church, State, and the Individual - people's conscience are to be left free.

The conscience of people are to be ruled, guided, and governed not by the outward church nor the outward rules of government. The eternal Light that shines in conscience, toward the turning or renewal of the mind, is the true rule and government of people.
From: The Works of George Fox, Volume 3, pg.16
"And as for all churches (so called) and professions and gatherings of people, we beheld you as all in the apostacy and degeneration from the true church, not being gathered by the spirit of the Lord, nor anointed thereby, as the true members of Christ ever were, but to be in a form, and in forms of righteousness without the power, and in imitations without life and perfect knowledge. So that all the practices of religion we beheld without power and life, though some had a sin cerity in them, and a zeal and a desire towards the Lord; yet all people erred in judgment, and none were guided in judgment by the eternal spirit; and the error in judgment made their zeal blind, and their performances of righteousness not accepted, though acted in some sincerity and zeal; because they were not guided in practice, and led in judgment by the spirit of the Lord, which only leads into all truth, and none are in the truth but who are led only thereby. So that we beheld all profession to be but as coverings with fig leaves, while the nature of transgression stood uncondemned and not crucified. We then also saw not only that the performance and practice in church state, and in religious orders were corrupted, but also government, and magistracy, and all things in civil state were not aright in the sight of the Lord, nor as the Lord required, neither as he had ordained in the beginning; for government, we know, as ordained of God, is to punish, and limit, and terrify all evil doers, and to preserve and defend all that do well; and that men's consciences are to be left free, to be ruled by the Lord alone, and guided by his spirit; and that outward power and civil magistrates and laws, (so called,) ought not to be Lord or ruler in men's consciences, nor over them. But we beheld how unrighteousness and iniquity, and sin and wickedness were strengthened and encouraged in the government, and by such as were in authority; and how the exercise of a good conscience in the fear of God was abused; so that it was turned backward from what it ought to be; them that did well were punished, and limited as transgressors, and the evil doers were set free, and not made afraid: so that we could truly cry, truth was fallen in the streets, and justice and true judgment turned back ward, and equity had no place to enter, and the innocent were devoured through want of true and just judgment, and the needy were spoiled and made a prey. For no sooner had we opened our mouths, but the magistrates began to put us in prison, and execute great injustice upon us, and became oppressors of the innocent, and laid unjust burdens upon us, grievous to be borne, and true justice and judgment were neglected, and wrong judgment brought forth, and good government abused, and men in authority not ruled by the Lord, neither ruling for the Lord among men: and thus it came to pass upon us, through the corruption and degeneration in government and magis trates, which we saw to be, as it was fulfilled by them, to wit, not as the Lord required, nor as he in the beginning ordained it, but quite the contrary. And this we saw in the beginning, when the spirit of the Lord was poured down upon us, and power from on high was re vealed to declare against all the abominations of the earth, and to make war against all corruption, in all orders, and places, and men.

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