Delivered by GEORGE FOX, at the Yearly Meeting, Third Month (Then May) 1658, at the House of John Crook.
Penney, Norman, ed. The Journal of George Fox. London: J.M. Dent & Sons, 1924. (Everyman's Library, No. 754.)
This is The Quaker Homiletics Online Anthology, Part 1: The 17th Century.
Take heed of many words; what reacheth to the life, settles in the life. That which cometh from the life, and is received from God, reaches to the life, and settles others in the life: for the work is not now as it was at first; the work now is, to settle and stay in the life. For as Friends have been led to minister in the power, and the power hath gone through, so that there hath grown an understanding among both the world and Friends: so Friends must be kept in the life which is pure, that with that they may answer the pure life of God in others. If Friends do not live in that life which they speak of, to answer the life in those they speak to, the other part steps in; and so there comes up an outward acquaintance, and such let that come over them.
But as every one is kept living in the life of God, over all that which is contrary, they are in their places; then they do not lay hands on any suddenly, which is the danger now; for if any one do, he may lose his discerning, and may lay hands on the wrong part, and so let the deceit come too near him; and the deceit will steal over, so that it will be a hard thing for him to get it down.
So, Friends, this is the word of the Lord God to you all, be watchful and careful in all meetings ye come into; for where Friends are sitting together in silence, they are many times gathered into their own measures. When a man is come newly out of the world, from ministering to the world's people, he cometh out of the dirt; and then he had need take heed that he be not rash. For now, when he comes into a silent meeting, that is another state; then he must come, and feel his own spirit, how it is, when he comes to them that sit silent. If he be rash, they will judge him, that having been in the world, and amongst the world, the heat is not yet off him. For he may come in the heat of his spirit out of the world; whereas the others are still and cool; and his condition in that not being agreeable to theirs, he may rather do them hurt, by begetting them out of the cool state into the heating state, if he be not in that which commands his own spirit, and gives him to know it.
Now there is a great danger too in traveling abroad in the world. The same power that moves any to go forth, is that which must keep them. For it is the greatest danger to go abroad, except a man be moved of the Lord, and go in the power of the Lord; for then, he keeping in the power, is kept by it in his journey, and in his work; and it will enable him to answer the transgressed, and keep above the transgressor. So now every one feeling the danger to his own particular in traveling abroad, there the pure fear of the Lord will be placed, and kept in. Though they that travel may have openings when they are abroad to minister to others, yet, for their own particular growth they must dwell in the life which doth open; and that will keep down that which would boast. For the minister comes into the death to that which is in the death and so returns up again into the life, and into the power, unto the wisdom, to preserve him clean.
So that this is the word of the Lord God to you all; feel that ye stand in the presence of the Lord God: for every man's word shall be his burden; but the word of the Lord is pure, and answers one. The word of the Lord is that which was in the aud brings to the beginning. It is a hammer, to beat the transgressor (not the transgressed), and as a fire to burn up that which is contrary to it. So, Friends, come into that which is over all the spirits of the world, fathoms all the spirits of the world, and stands in the patience; with that, ye may see where others stand, and reach that which is of God in every one. Here is no strife, no contention, out of transgression; for he that goeth into strife, and into contention, is from the pure spirit. For where any goeth into contention, if anything hath been .begotten by him before, then that contentious nature doth get atop, spoileth that which was begotten, and quencheth his own prophesying. So in that which would arise into strife be not subjected by the power in the particular, that is dangerous.
So if any have a moving to any place, and have spoken what they were moved of the Lord, let them return unto their habitation again, and live in the pure life of God, and in the fear of the Lord; so will ye be kept in the life--in the solid and seasoned spirit, and preach as well in life, as with words.
He that is kept in the life, hears God, and sees man's condition; and with that he answers the life in others, that hear God also; thus one Friend that is come into that comprehends the world. But that which Friends speak, they must live in; so may they expect that others may come into that which they speak, to live in the same. Then the water of life cometh in; then he that ministreth, drinketh himself, and giveth others to drink.
It is a mighty thing to be in the work of the ministry of the Lord God, and to go forth in that. It is not as a customary preaching; but it is to bring people to the end of all outward preaching. For when ye have declared the truth to the people, and they have received it, and are come into that which ye spake of, the uttering of many words, and long declarations out of the life, may beget them into a form. And if any should run on rashly into words again, without the savour of life, then they that are come into the thing that he spake of will judge him; whereby he may hurt again that which he had raised up before. So, Friends, ye must ail come into the thing that is spoken in the openings of the heavenly life among you, and walk in the love of God, that ye may answer the thing spoken to.
And all Friends, be careful not to meddle with the powers of the earth; but keep out of all such things; and as ye keep in the Lamb's authority, and keep out of all vain jangling, ye will answer that of God in them, and bring them to do justice, which is the end of the law.