George Fox — the Mystic

In Fox's Journal we are presented with a first-hand record-Fox looking back from his old age to the momentous events and decisions of his youth-of a great soul coming to the ultimate mystical experience of spiritual enlightenment; and in going out into the world to share it with others. Any such is extremely rare.

That all may know the dealings of the Lord with me, and the various exercises, trials and troubles through which he led me, in order to prepare and fit me for the work unto which he had appointed me, and thereby may be drawn to admire and glorify his infinite wisdom and goodness, I think fit briefly to mention how it was with me in my youth, and how the work of the Lord was begun, and gradually carried on in me, even from my childhood.

Another of the earliest printed documents summarizes episodes when George Fox with James Naylor were brought before the magistrates with the questioning before his imprisonment in Derby jail. In this there is a sense of profound indignation. Fox had had the experience recorded in the sections 'The consummation' and 'The image of perfection' above, had begun to share it with others, and was faced with imprisonment. For what? Blasphemy!

Fox later was several times falsely accused of blasphemy. But any frank statement of the ultimate mystical experience, when no distinction can be drawn between the divine and the ultimate being of the individual, has always led in Christian communities to condemnation-and all too often to the stake and fire.

Fox later adjusted his message, from which we have inherited 'That of God in every man'-a spark of the divine. But what Fox experienced were the flames themselves, paradise and perfection. Fox's great experience was an awareness of the indwelling presence of God and Christ. Through this Fox touched people's hearts. Surely the response to one illuminated by such an experience can only be commitment, devotion and dedication.