George Fox’s use of Conscience

Source: A collection of many select and Christian epistles, letters and testimonies, written on sundry occasions, by that ancient, eminent, faithful Friend and minister of Jesus Christ, George Fox Vol. 2

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1. Therefore, there is joy when the day star appeareth and the day dawn ; there is great cause of joy for all the sons of God, when the day star appears, and for them to sing together; for long nights of trouble and travel have they been in. ' The path of the just is a shining light,' the path of the unjust is darkness. So there are but two paths. Now the unjust cannot abide to hear talk of the light, but call it natural, and created and made, or conscience, they do not know what to call it, whose darkness cannot comprehend the light, though it shines in the darkness ; and so, the path of the just being 'a shining light, which shines more and more unto the perfect day ;' signifying that the day is come, that the just hath his path, and his path is a shining light; and so increaseth, shineth more and more unto the perfect day. pg. 7

2. So the just man's path is sufficient, a shining light : for it shines more and more, it increaseth, it it is sufficient, and brings to the perfect day. Now the unjust, whose path is darkness, say, 'It is not sufficient,' but such cannot abide the light, cannot abide the just man's path, nor the just neither, but hate both, and speak against him and his path, with his darkness, that cannot com prehend the light, though light shines in his darkness ; and therefore if he cannot comprehend the light with his darkness, (how can he comprehend the prophets', and apostles', and Christ's words?) but calls light darkness, and darkness light, and calls it natural, or created, or made, or conscience; and so this comes to be fulfilled on them, as John said, who with their darkness could not comprehend the light, yet they would be talking of the saints' words, law and prophets, with their darkness, which could not comprehend the light. pg.8

3. And so they that believe not in the light, as Christ hath taught, are no true ministers, nor true messengers, nor true disciples, nor true christians, nor true preachers of Christ Jesus, who believe not, as he hath taught them ; but they that lay away Christ's teaching, and teach one another to deny the way that Christ hath taught to believe in, are keepers of people in darkness, out of the light, and call it natural, created, and made, and conscience, and so with their darkness and blindness give the light such names, who with their darkness cannot comprehend it ; for he that believes in the light, it lets him see the scriptures, the prophets, Christ and the apostles' words, and by it they do distinguish the true prophets' words from the false, the holy men's words from the unholy, the sanctified from them that are not sanctified, Christ's words from antichrist's, the true apostles' words from the false. pg. 10

4. And so the children of the light, that believe in the light, their bodies, their souls, their spirits, and their minds are washed clean in this pure, clean, holy water, that comes from above, from the pure holy God, which is one of these witnesses in the earth. The third witness is his blood, with which the hearts of people are sprinkled, and their consciences are sprinkled with the blood of Jesus. As Moses sprinkled the outside of the posts, &c. with the blood of bulls and goats ; which blood of bulls and goats, Christ's blood ends, which sprinkles the heart and conscience of people. So this blood of Jesus Christ, the heavenly man, is felt in the hearts and consciences of people ; by which blood they are sanctified, they are cleansed from all their dead works, to serve the living God, and to serve their dead works no longer. So by this blood they are cleansed from all sin. They that walk in the light, and believe in the light, they are children of the light, and children of the day; and the blood of Jesus Christ, the son of God, cleanseth them from all sin ; and their garments are made white in the blood of the Lamb ; by which they come to testify of Jesus, they overcome the beast, the whore, the false church. pg. 11

5. And all being kept diligent, walking in the light, there will be no slothfulness. For that is judged with the light, which is one with that in his conscience, which condemns him for evil. pg. 35

6. And now as for watching in itself: Do not you watch your planta tions against thieves in the night ? And are not common watches set to discover thieves in the towns, or house-breakers, or such as might wickedly fire houses? Such civil things we were subject to, and do submit ourselves, for conscience' sake, unto every such ordinance of man, which are for the punishment of evil doers, and for the praise of them that do well. pg. 86

7. Put them in mind to obey magistrates, and to be ready to every good work.' Mark, ' every good work,' that is against the evil, as drunkenness, murder, whoredom, these and all manner of uncleanness ; so far we can obey them, in the Lord's power and truth, as they act against the evil, and that which dishonours God ; and if they act against the good, or if they would compel us to those things, which are matter of conscience in us towards God, we resist not, but suffer under them. For rulers are not to be a terror to the good workers, but to the evil ; and wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same ; for he is a minister of God to thee for good, for he should keep down the evil. But if thou dost that which is evil, be afraid ; for he beareth not the sword in vain ; for he is a minister of God to revenge and execute wrath upon him that doth evil. So he is the revenger and executioner of the wrath upon the evil doer, as God hath placed him, upon the adulterer, and him that steals or kills, and bears false witness, &c. But when the magistrate turns his sword backward upon the just and righteous, then he abuses his power, and therein the just suffer under him. And therefore such have been warned by the just, as you may see through the scriptures. So you are not to be the revengers, but he is the revenger ; and to that power that executes the revenge, and brings the sword upon the adul terer, murderer, thief, false witness, and other evil doers, we must be subject to that power, and own that power, not only for wrath, but for conscience' sake ; which is for the punishment of the evil doers, and the praise of them that do well. For if any should come to burn your house, or rob you. or come to ravish your wives or daughters, or a com pany should come to fire a city or town, or come to kill people ; do not you watch against all such actions ? And will you not watch against such evil things in the power of God in your own way? You cannot but discover such things to the magistrates, who are to punish such things ; and therefore the watch is kept and set to discover such to the magistrate, that they may be punished ; and if he does it not, he bears his sword in vain. So if thou watches thy own plantation against thieves, in thy own way, which thou art desired … pg. 87

8. And when the magistrates brought that scripture for these ends, we could not obey them in these things, nor touch, nor taste their ordinances, doctrines, nor commandments. But to be subject to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake ; which was for the punishment of evil doers; as drunkards, thieves, murderers, adulterers, and such like, and to keep down such evil doers, and that we might live a godly and peaceable life under them ; which was for the praise of them that do well ; this we always owned, and were subject to, and watched against, and declared against in our own way, and laid such actors and actions before the magistrates, for them to punish, and keep down with their power, which is their sword of justice; but if they would compel us to things that we could not do, contrary to our conscience, for the Lord's sake, we suffered for it. So where Friends have the government, as in Rhode Island, and that province, Friends were willing to watch, in their own way, and they made a law, that none should be compelled to take arms. pg. 89

9. And if he be a praise to the evil, and a discouragement to the good, then the Lord will deal with him ; and though to such, for conscience, and for the Lord's sake, we cannot be subject to the evil, but rather suffer thereby, and are subject to that which punishes and keeps down the evil, and are glad of it. And we desire that justice were upper most in all magistrates, that they would hear Friends at their yea or nay, that do come to them, and discover to them the evil, and that they might see what they should do, and what they should not do. So Friends may discover all that which is evil, which comes to devour and destroy, both within and without, both within the island and without, to them that should keep it down. pg. 90

10. Oh ! be valiant for God's glory and his truth upon the earth, and spread it abroad, answering that of God in every man and woman's conscience ; knowing him that hath brought everlasting peace into the earth: so, that the songs of salvation may be in your mouths; for it is said, ' With the heart man believes, and with the mouth confession is made to salvation.' pg. 128

11. So in this faith are all the household of faith to build upon Christ Jesus, (who bruises the serpent's head,) who is the author and finisher of faith ; and this is called the holy faith, and the one faith, and by this one faith, which Jesus Christ is the author and finisher of, (by whom all things were made and created,) by it we do understand the worlds were made, [by the word of God,] and this is the faith which all the household of faith are to contend for, this one faith which Christ Jesus is the author of; which faith is the gift of God, and is held in a pure conscience. And it is called the mystery of faith ; for no natural men, with all the arts, languages, and wisdom upon the earth, can find it out, or know this mystery, nor make it ; for Christ Jesus, the heavenly and spiritual man, is the author and finisher of it; and no natural man, though he may have all the languages that began at Babel, and yet he may not know the mystery of this one faith, which Christ Jesus is the author of. pg. 134

12. Liberty in Christ. IMPORTANT

And all Friends, stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made you free, and in the liberty in the faith, which Christ is the author and finisher of; which faith purifies the heart, and gives victory, in which you have access to God, the mystery of which is held in a pure con science ; in which faith it hath its true liberty. And keep in the liberty of the everlasting glorious gospel of peace, which is not of man, nor by man, but from heaven; which gospel bringeth (and hath brought) life and immortality to light, and will preserve you in life and immortality, over him that hath darkened you ; and in this gospel you have ever lasting liberty and peace, and in the truth, which maketh you free from him that is out of the truth. This free state all are to keep in ; and also in the pure holy spirit of God and Christ, that doth mortify all that is to be mortified and crucified; and doth baptize you into one body. In this holy spirit you are to walk, which leadeth you into all truth, pg. 142

13. And being gathered in the name of Jesus, he is in the midst of them, the Prince of life and peace, and captain of salvation, and a prophet to open the book of conscience, and the book of the law, and prophets, and gospel, and his book of life to them, and a bishop to oversee them, and a heavenly shepherd to feed them in his heavenly pasture of life, and a heavenly King to rule in their hearts, and in his glorious kingdom, amongst them that are born again ; and that seeth and entereth into his everlasting kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy in the holy ghost. pg. 166

14. And likewise, those that came to be christians, (called,) and had got the form of godliness, came to be a greater grief to the apostles than the world; for their work was to seek to destroy that which the apostles had begotten, and them that they had turned to Christ. And therefore well might the apostle exhort the saints ' to turn away from such that had the form of godliness and denied the power;' and therefore he told the saints, ' The kingdom of heaven stands not in words, but in power ;' and therefore they were to know one another in the spirit and power ; and that is the internal knowledge. And their fellow ship was to be in the holy ghost, and their unity in the spirit, which was the bond of peace ; and their fellowship was to be in the gospel, which was the power of God. So an everlasting fellowship in the everlasting power of God, that will out-last the power of darkness ; for it was before it was. And also, their unity was to be in the precious divine faith, which Christ was the author and finisher of; the mystery of which was held in a pure conscience ; and their worship was in the spirit of God, and in truth. So you may see what a heavenly unity and fellowship, and a worship Christ and the apostles set up. pg.178

15. True Liberty - IMPORTANT

The true liberty is in the gospel, the power of God, which the devil and his instruments, with his false liberty, cannot get into.

And in this gospel is the saints' fellowship, which the devil with all his false fellowships cannot get into, nor find it ; for it is a mystery. Likewise, true liberty is in the faith, which Jesus Christ is the author and finisher of, which gives victory over that which separated man and woman from God, and by which they have access to God again. And in this holy, pure, divine, precious faith, that is held in the pure conscience; which pure conscience hath its pure, holy, divine, precious liberty, in this holy, divine, precious faith, which works by love, (and not as the dead faith doth, which works by enmity,) which is the fruit of this holy, pure, divine faith; and in it is the divine, pure, holy, and precious liberty and freedom. So here is the divine, holy, pure, and precious liberty in thisfaith, which works by love, that is the victory over that whichbrought man and woman into bondage,and slavery, and false liberty. So this living faith is the victory over all dead faiths and false freedoms and liberties ; which holy, divine, pure, and precious faith, the saints were and are to contend for, which Christ the Holy One is the author and finisher of. So in this holy, divine, pure, and precious faith, they have a holy, divine, pure, and precious unity and liberty, which is the victory over the en mity and the adversary, the destroyer, and all his instruments ; and they cannot come within this holy, divine, pure, and precious unity and li berty, which is in the faith ; for it is a mystery, and gives victory over him, and the access to the pure God, and to Christ the author of it ; which all are to stand fast in that liberty wherewith Christ hath made them free, who is the heavenly and spiritual man, the second Adam. pg. 179

16. And therefore the apostle was careful of the churches' liberty in Christ, when he said, ' But take heed, lest this liberty of yours become a stumbling-block to them that are weak,' &c. 1 Cor. viii. For the apostle was so careful and tender, that he would not have his true liberty judged of another man's conscience, &c. as you may see more at large in Cor. x. And the apostle said, ' False brethren came unawares privily, to spy out their liberty, which they had in Christ Jesus, that they might bring them into bondage ; to whom we gave place by subjection, no not for an hour, that the truth of the gospel might continue with you,' to wit, the Galatians. Gal. ii. 4. pg. 187

These see Christ to be the author and finisher of their holy, divine, precious faith. And their faith stands in Christ, who is the author of it, ' who hath all power in heaven and earth given to him.' And the mystery of this faith they hold in a pure conscience, and do know the law of this faith, and the law of love that God hath shed in their hearts through Jesus Christ.

17. pg. 204

18. And every one abide in the holy, divine, and precious faith, which you do hold in a pure conscience, by which faith you do live, and have victory over that which displeaseth God: and in this faith you do please God, which Jesus Christ, the Lord from heaven, is the author and finisher of. pg. 209

19. And therefore they that deny the power of godliness, will not be faithful to God nor man ; and such cannot exercise a good conscience to God, in obedience to him, nor to man, to perform that which is just, righteous, and honest. pg. 220

20. Now, if you wait in patience upon the Lord in his truth, (for you are to buy the truth, and not to sell it ; and truth is that that is stronger than all,) the Lord in his time, (though he may try you,) can mollify that nature in them there, as he hath done in other places, where he hath tried his people with such things. And when they have seen, it is for conscience' sake towards God, and it is from the principle of truth and the spirit; in which spirit and truth they worship the Most High God, who is an eternal, incomprehensible spirit, who is God in heaven and God in the earth, and dwells by his spirit in his humble people, they have been overcome. pg. 248

21. If ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye; and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled, having a good conscience ; that whereas they speak evil of you, as of evil doers, pg. 278

22. And in such dis obedient ones the prince of the air rules, and gets into them by disobeying the truth ; and in such Christ doth not rule in their hearts by faith ; and it is not like, when they make shipwreck of it, and a good conscience. And therefore, walk in the light of Christ, and grow in his grace, and the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, that bruises the serpent's head, and destroys the devil and his works, that you may all be established upon Christ, the rock and foundation. pg. 298