George Fox’s use of Conscience

Source: Gospel of Truth Demonstrated volume 3

https://play.google.com/books/reader?printsec=frontcover&output=reader&id=TeR7yzO4p9AC&pg=GBS.PA1

1. But Christ Jesus is the purger of the conscience, mind, heart and soul, with his blood, his life, the clean lamb without blemish, and with his bap tism with fire and the holy ghost : For he saith, ' These evils, that come out of a man's heart, defile a man.' And so these evils came into man by transgression ; for Adam and Eve had them not, when God made them. pg. 45

2. Having a good conscience, that whereas they speak evil of you, as of evil doers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.' 1 Pet. iii. 16. pg. 106

3. If a man for conscience sake towards God suffer grief; this is thank-worthy, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that we should follow his steps, who when he was reviled, he reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not, but committed himself to God who judges righteously ; for Christ hath once suffered for sin, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God. pg 123

4. And you professing the holy scriptures of truth, and confessing to the new testament and new covenant, and the law and the prophets, which is, to love God above all, and your neighbours as yourselves, and the royal law of God, spoken of in the new testament; which is, to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Now would not you judge and believe, that it was contrary to the royal law of God, if that the Papists, or the Presbyterians should make spoil of your goods and take away your goods out of your shops, and your very beds and working tools, your corn and your cattle, so that you have not a cow to give your family and your children milk, nor corn to make you bread; and all that because for conscience sake you cannot be of the Papists' or Presbyterians' religion? Would you say, this was according to the royal law of God, and the nobility of true christianity in them, to do unto all, as they would be done unto, if they should serve you so?

2dly. And would you say, it was according to the royal law of God, to be haled from your peaceable meeting by officers and soldiers, for serving and worshipping God in his spirit and truth, that made you ; and to have your goods taken away from you through informers, to the ruin of your wives and children ; and to be cast into loathsome prisons, there to be kept till some of you died ; because for conscience sake you cannot be of the Papists,' Presbyterians,' or Independents' religion ? would you not say, this was contrary to the royal law of God, and to the nature and nobility of true christianity in them, that should do so to you? 3dly. And if the Presbyterians, Independents, or Papists, should make you pay twenty pounds a month, or two-thirds of your estates, and bring quitam writs against you, as is now against many hundreds of us; and cast you in prison, and spoil your goods, as ours now are ; because for conscience sake you cannot join with their outward forms of reli gion ; would you say, that this was according to the royal law of God, ' to do unto others as they would have them do unto them V or accord ing to the law and the prophets, ' to love their neighbours as them selves V 4thly. If the Papists, Presbyterians, or Independents, should banish you from your wives and children, or imprison you, (as many of us are now imprisoned, and others have been banished,) because you do peace ably meet together to serve and worship God, and pray to him; and they should call your peaceable meetings, seditious conventicles and riots, because you cannot for conscience sake join to any of their forms of religion ? would you not say this was contrary to the law and the prophets, ' to love their neighbours as themselves ;' and to the royal law of God, ' to do unto all men, as they would have them do unto them ?' and to the nobility of true christianity, in them that should do so unto you ? 5thly. And would not you think it very hard from the Papists, Pres byterians or Independents, if they should premunire you, and cast your men, women, and widows into prison, (as many of us are now from their wives and children,) because for conscience sake you dare not swear at all, or take any oath, because Christ and his apostles forbids it,' (Matt v. and James v.) though your peaceable lives and conversations have, and do show forth your allegiance to the king ; and though you are willing to testify the truth in all matters and cases with yea, yea, or nay, nay, as Christ and the apostle commands ; and as we have done, and do ? Would you say, this was according to the law and prophets in them, and the royal law of God, ' to love their neighbours as them selves,' and ' to do unto all, as they would be done unto?'

 

...And should not all, that go by the name of Christians, and profess that great title of christianity, from Christ Jesus the lamb of God, show forth the nobility of true christianity, and his lamb-like nature ; and not ' one christian to tear another to pieces,' and ' spoil his goods, and cast him into prison,' because he cannot for conscience sake receive and join to one another's form of religion ; seeing that Christ rebuked his disciples, ' that would have had fire come down from heaven, to consume them that would not receive him ;' and told them, ' they did not know what spirit they were of, and that he came not to destroy men's lives, but to save them.' Should not all true christians have the mind of Christ ? Do you think, that God doth accept the sacrifice or offerings of forced religion', to save themselves from prison, and from spoil of their goods, contrary to their tender conscience ? Were not the offerings and sacrifices to be free-will offerings to the Lord in the time of the law ? And in the gospel day of the new covenant and testament, are not the offerings and sacrifices of the Lord spiritual ? And can any man force and compel the spirit of God to that offering and sacrifice 1 For doth not the apostle say to the christians, 'Ye are a royal priesthood, offering up spiritual sacrifices to God by Jesus Christ? And after Christ was ascended, did ever the apostles, bishops, or elders give any orders to excommunicate, spoil goods, and cast any into prison, there to be kept till death, (as many of us have been,) such as could not conform to their religion?

pg. 271 - 273

5. And the holy, divine, pure, and precious faith, which is the victory, and purifies the heart, Christ is the author and finisher of; and the mystery of this faith is held in a pure conscience ; by which faith all the faithful have access to God, and in it do please God. pg 329

6. And when the candle is put out, their houses are houses of darkness, full of darkness, spiritual Egypt, and do oppress and persecute the Jew inward ; and such whose candle is put out, they are gone from the light, and they seek to bring all others from the light, and put out their candles, in drawing their minds and spirits from the light of Christ that doth enlighten them, and call the light of Christ, which enlightens their spirits, (which are the candle of the Lord, in their temple and tabernacle,) a natural, created and made light, or a natural conscience, which light is the life in Christ, by which all things were made and created. pg. 341

7. Now here you may see the apostles did not make the saints a faith, but bid them look unto Jesus, who was the author, or beginner and finisher of their holy and precious faith ; the mystery of which is held in a pure conscience. pg. 386

8. And so Christ the prophet is to be heard in all things by his children, who enlightens every one that cometh into the world ; that in the light they might see him, and hear him. And he openeth the book of conscience to them, and the book of life ; that in it they may read and see their names written there ; which book no man can open but Christ the lamb. pg. 400

9. And the mystery of this holy faith is held in a pure conscience, and not in an impure one ; and it purifies the heart, and gives victory over that which displeases God, and separates from God; in which holy faith, which we have from the Holy One, we please the holy God which gives us the victory over that which displeases him and separates from him, and have access to him. pg 403

10. He did not mind the storms and winds of persecution ; and he exhorted others to take heed of the ministry which they had received from the Lord to fulfil it; and did exhort all to let their speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that they may know how to answer every man, commending themselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. pg 425

11. And the apostle said, ' I do exercise myself to have always a con science void of offence, toward God, and toward men.' Acts. xxiv. 16. pg. 427

12. And the apostle saith, * Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.' Heb. x. 22. pg 439

13. IV. How no persecutor upon the earth, for faith, worship, and religion, can exercise a good conscience towards God and man, until they be converted. The apostle Paul saith, after he became a christian, and confessed Christ Jesus, I exercised myself to have always a good conscience, void of offence toward God and toward men. This he declared before Felix, the governor, when he was accused by the high priests and elders of the Jews, which said Paul was a pestilent fellow, and a mover of sedi tion among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes. Act xxiv. 15, 16. pg. 456

14. and xxiv. 16. Now while Paul was persecuting and imprisoning, and consenting to the death of the followers of Christ ; and having his packet of letters, and his authority and commission from the chief priest?, to go up and down and persecute the saints the believers in Christ, from city to city; then he was exercising an evil conscience towards Christ and men ; for Christ saith, • Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me ? It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.' So in this it is clear he was exercising an evil conscience, whilst he was a persecutor ; and the Jews, priests and elders also, which gave him letters, commission and authority, to per secute Christ in his members. And so likewise, all the Protestant and Papist priests, which call themselves christians, that have, and do per secute and imprison people for their faith and a good conscience, they have, and are persecuting Christ in his members; such always have and do exercise an evil conscience against Christ in his members. For the Jews and chief priests, would have Christ crucified without the gates of Jerusalem, and cried Matt. xvii. 25, ' 0 let his blood be upon them and their children ;' in that they exercised an evil conscience to wards Christ. And after Christ was risen, the chief priests and elders, and Saul, imprisoned and persecuted Christ in his members; and so have the Papists, and many of the Protestant priests, because they do not conform. And therefore have they imprisoned and persecuted to death, and spoiled the goods of many: in this they have exercised an evil conscience towards Christ and his people. For Saul, nor any other, did not, nor do any exercise a good conscience towards God and man, until that they were and are converted to Christ Jesus to follow him, and to forsake the Jewish priests, and the tithes, and temple worships, and all other outward temple worships, and priests ihat take tithes. and persecute others that will not conform and t;ivc them their tithcs, &.c. For Christ saith, he came not to destroy men's lives, but to save them ; and saith, love one another, and love enemies, and pray for them that persecute you ; and, freely you have received, freely give. And they that keep the commands of Christ and his gospel without charge, are always exercising a good conscience towards God, in obeying, serv ing and worshipping him, and a good conscience toward men, in that which is just, righteous, honest, and true ; to do unto all men, as they would have others do unto them, according to the royal law of God. And so it is clear, that no persecutor and spoiler of people's goods, in all ages from Cain, both in the days of the prophets, Christ, and the apostles, and since, to this day, did, nor has, nor can exercise a good conscience towards God and man. 'For he that is born of the flesh, will persecute him that is born of the spirit.' That persecuting birth of the flesh, is not like to exercise a good conscience towards God or man ; be that is born of the spirit, is born of God ; for the birth of the flesh doth not do unto all men, as it would have them do unto it ; and is not like to exercise a good conscience towards God, when it persecutes his spi ritual birth, though they go in Cain's, Corah's, Balaam's and Jezabel's way, in the wolves' and sheep's clothing. All these may make an out ward profession of christianity, and deny the power thereof; but such are to be turned away from. And is it like that they that go in these evil ways, should exercise a good conscience towards God and man 7 And also such false teachers that make merchandise of people, that make the gospel chargeable; and such priests and teachers that divine for money, and preach for hire, and bear rule by their means, and preach for handfuls of barley, and pieces of bread, and deceive the people. Such doings the Lord was against, and such shepherds which are called greedy dumb dogs, which can never have enough, seeking for their gain from their quarter, &c. and looking after their own ways, and not after the Lord's ; such, God's prophets, Christ and the apostles testified against, and such as these were not like to exercise a good conscience towards God and man. pgs. 457,458

15. And is it not time for you to reform from these heathenish and Popish customs, by the spirit of sobriety and modesty, and that your moderation may appear, that you are christians in nature and deed. A id I pray be not offended with such true christians, as cannot in con science observe such things. And had you not the names that you give unto most of your days and months, from the heathen and Papists, and not from the prophets, Christ, nor his apostles ? And were not the old pagan Saxons in their idolatry, the first that brought in the names of the days after this manner, and these called christians have retained them to this day. pgs. 467

16. From him who bath a tender conscience toward God, and hath been a great sufferer for Christ, and the true reformation, and desires your reformation, good, and prosperity here, and your eternal happiness hereafter. pg 470