Letter to the Governor of Barbados, 1671

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Letter to the Governor of Barbados, 1671
by George Fox

In 1671 [George Fox] went to Barbados and the English settlements in America, remaining two years. From Barbados he sent an epistle to Friends [another name for Quakers] spelling out the role of women's meetings in the Quaker marriage ceremony, a point of controversy when he returned home, and wrote a letter to the governor and assembly of the island in which he refuted charges that Quakers were stirring up the slaves to revolt and tried to affirm the orthodoxy of Quaker beliefs; this letter, particularly its doctrinal portions, would two centuries later become important in a division among his followers. Excerpted from George Fox on Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

For the Governor of Barbadoes, with his Council and Assembly, and all others in power, both civil and military, in this Island ; from the people called Quakers.

WHEREAS many scandalous lies and slanders have been cast upon us, to render us odious; as that 'We deny God, and Christ Jesus, and the Scriptures of truth,' etc. This is to inform you, that all our books and declarations, which for these many years have been published to the world, clearly testify the contrary. Yet, for your satisfaction, we now plainly and sincerely declare, 'that we do own and believe in God, the only wise, omnipotent, and everlasting God, the Creator of all things both in heaven and in earth, and the preserver of all that he hath made; who is God over all, blessed for ever; to whom be all honour and glory, dominion, praise, and thanksgiving, both now and for evermore!'

And we own and believe in Jesus Christ, his beloved and only begotten Son, in whom he is well pleased; who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, and born of the Virgin Mary; in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins; who is the express image of the Invisible God, the first-born of every creature, by whom were all things created that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, principalities, or powers, al l things were created by him. And we do own and believe that He was made a sacrifice for sin, who knew no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth; that he was crucified for us in the flesh, without the gates of Jerusalem; and that he was buried, and ro se again the third day by the power of his Father, for our justification; and that he ascended up into heaven, and now sitteth at the right hand of God. This Jesus, who was the foundation of the holy prophets and apostles, is our foundation; and we belie ve that there is no other foundation to be laid than that which is laid, even Christ Jesus; who tasted death for every man, shed his blood for all men, and is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world; according as John the Baptist testified of him, when he said, ' Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world.' John i. 29. We believe that he alone is our Redeemer and Saviour, even the Captain of our Salvation, who saves us from sin, a s well as from hell, and the wrath to come, and destroys the devil and his works; he is the Seed of the woman, that bruises the serpent's head, to wit, Christ Jesus, the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last. He is (as the Scriptures of truth say of hi m,) our wisdom and righteousness, justification and redemption; neither is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we may be saved. It is he alone, who is the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls; He is o ur Prophet, whom Moses long since testified of, saying, 'A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; Him shall ye hear in all things, whatsoever he shall say unto you; and it shall come to pass, that every soul that will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.' Acts iii. 22, 23.

He it is that is now come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true. He rules in our hearts by his law of love and of life, and makes us free from the law of sin and death. We have no life but by him; for he i s the quickening Spirit, the second Adam, the Lord from heaven; by whose blood we are cleansed, and our consciences sprinkled from dead works to serve the living God. He is our Mediator, that makes peace and reconciliation between God offended and us off ending, He being the oath of God, the new covenant of light, life, grace, and peace; the author and finisher of our faith. This Lord Jesus Christ, the heavenly Man, the Emmanuel, God with us, we all own and believe in; him whom the high- priest raged aga inst, and said, he had spoken blasphemy; whom the priests and the elders of the Jews took counsel together against, and put to death; the same whom Judas betrayed for thirty pieces of silver, which the priests gave him as a reward for his treason, who al so gave large money to the soldiers to broach a horrible lie, namely, ' that his disciples came and stole him away by night, whilst they slept.' After he was risen from the dead, the history of the Acts of the Apostles sets forth, how the chief priests and elders persecuted the disciples of this Jesus, for preaching Christ and his resurrection. This, we say, is that Lord Jesus Christ, whom we own to be our life and salvation.

Concerning the Holy Scriptures, we do believe that they were given forth by the Holy Spirit of God, through the holy men of God, who (as the Scripture itself declares, 2 Pet. i. 21.) 'spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.' We believe they are to be read, believed, and fulfilled (He that fulfills them, is Christ ;) and they are 'profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto al l good works,' 2 Titus iii. 16, and are 'able to make wise unto salvation, through faith in Christ Jesus.' We believe that the Holy Scriptures are the words of God; for it is said, in Ex. xx. 1, 'God spake all these words, saying,' etc., meaning the ten commandments given forth upon Mount Sinai. And in Rev. xxii. 18, saith John, 'I testify to every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book: if any man addeth unto these, and if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy' (not the word,) etc. So in Luke i. 20, 'Because thou believedst not my words.' And in John v. 47; xv. 7; xiv. 23; and xii. 47. So that we call the Holy Scriptures, as Christ and the apostles called them, and holy men of God called them, viz., the words of God.

Another slander which they have cast upon us is, 'that we teach the negroes to rebel;' a thing we utterly abhor in our hearts; the Lord knows it, who is the searcher of all hearts, and knows all things, and can testify for us, that this i s a most abominable untruth. For that which we have spoken to them is, 'to exhort and admonish them to be sober, and to fear God; to love their masters and mistresses, and to be faithful and diligent in their masters' service and business; and then their masters and overseers would love them, and deal kindly and gently with them; also, that they should not beat their wives, nor the wives their husbands, neither should the men have many wives; that they should not steal, or be drunk,-- should not commit adultery, or fornication,--should not curse, swear, lie, or give bad words to one another, or to any one else: for there is something in them that tells them, they should not practice these or any other evils. But if, notwithstanding, they should do them , then we let them know there are but two ways, the one that leads to heaven, where the righteous go; and the other that leads to hell, where the wicked and debauched, whore mongers and adulterers, murderers and liars go. To the one the Lord will say, 'Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world;' but to the other he will say, 'Depart, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:' so 'the wicked go into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into life eternal.' Matt. xxv.

Consider, Friends, it is no transgression for a master of a family to instruct his family himself, or for some others to do it in his behalf; but rather it is a very great duty incumbent upon them. Abraham and Joshua did so: of the first the Lord said, Gen. xviii. 19, 'I know that Abraham will command his children and his household after him; and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment, that the Lord may bring upon Abraham the things that he hath spoken of him.' And the latter said, Josh. xxiv. 15, 'Choose ye this day whom ye will serve; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.' We declare that we esteem it a duty incumbent on us to pray with and for those in and belonging to our families, and to teach , instruct, and admonish them; this being a command of the Lord, disobedience whereunto will provoke his displeasure; as may be seen, Jer. x. 25, 'Pour out thy fury upon the heathen that know thee not, and upon the families that call not upon thy name.' Now Negroes, Tawnies, Indians, make up a very great part of the families in this island; for whom an account will be required by him who comes to judge both quick and dead, at the great day of judgment, when everyone shall be 'rewarded according to the d eeds done in the body, whether they be good or whether they be evil:" at that day, we say, of the resurrection both of the good and of the bad, of the just and of the unjust, when 'the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power, when he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and admired in all them that believe in that day.' 2 Thess. i. 8, e also 2 Pet. iii. 3.

This work was published before January 1, 1928, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.