‘In commemoration of George Fox’: an edited extract from the tercentenary celebration in the Friend

‘This man has become part of the history of England.’

‘With all his incongruities and anomalies as we may fancy to conceive them, the founder of our fellowship was the bearer of a universal commission.’ | Photo: George Fox on the Hay-stack, by Robert Spence, c1911

Of George Fox it cannot be said, to use his own words, that ‘the dead make dead ways for the dead to walk in.’ His spirit is alive today, perhaps more alive than at any time since his death. His immortal message is as greatly needed all through the world now as it was in the tumultuous days of the seventeenth century; ten generations have passed since he first uttered it, but their experience has only confirmed its validity, proved its vitality, and enhanced the depth and reality of its truth. With all his limitations, his poverty, his lack of learning, with all his faults and miscalculations, persecuted as he was through the length and breadth of the land, imprisoned eight times and summoned before courts of justice some sixty times, despised, solitary and rejected – this man nevertheless has become part of the history of England. He belongs to the grand race of the reformers who have extended the bounds of freedom, and to the school of the prophets who have seen that which is invisible.

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