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Saturday, 21 February 2015

George Fox

In 1643 the 19-year-old son of an English Puritan weaver, George Fox (1624-1691) heard an “inner voice” telling him to become a travelling preacher.  Fox begun travelling from village to village speaking against formalized religion, arguing for a Spirit-filled Christianity where all believers have an equal status and proclaiming his “inner light” doctrine that God is present within everyone.

Fox objected to political and religious authority and opposed war, (he interpreted the command in Matthew 5 v 39 “Do not resist one who is evil”, literally). He proclaimed that all human actions should be directed by inner contemplation and a social conscience.

By 1648, Fox had gathered a following of people attracted by his pacifist views, but the authorities turned against those followers of his who refused to take up arms and imprisoned them.

Fox, himself, was jailed at Derby on a trumped-up charge of blasphemy in 1650. When he was sentenced, the preacher warned the Judge, Gervasse Bennet, to “tremble at the word of the Lord”. Bennet responds by contemptuously calling Fox and his followers, “Quakers”.

In 1652 George Fox felt God lead him to walk up Pendle Hill, in the north of England. At the top he had a vision of many souls being coming to Christ From Pendle Hill, Fox travelled north to Sedbergh, and there he preached on the nearby Firbank Hill where he convinced many to accept his teachings of the “inner light”. Encouraged he began preaching in the open air to thousands and gradually collected a group of young male and female Quaker evangelists who spread out preaching Fox’s message.

The movement continued to grow despite much persecution in Britain and America and by Fox's death on January 13, 1691 there were around fifty thousand Quakers. 

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