by George Fox

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I.--His Youth and Divine Calling

I was born in the month called July, 1624, at Drayton-in-the-Clay, in Leicestershire. My father's name was Christopher Fox; he was by profession a weaver, an honest man, and there was a seed of God in him. In my very young years I had a gravity and staidness of mind and spirit not usual in children. When I came to eleven years of age I knew pureness and righteousness. The Lord taught me to be faithful in all things, inwardly to God and outwardly to man, and to keep to "Yea" and "Nay" in all things.

Afterwards, as I grew up, I was put to a man, a shoemaker by trade, who dealt in wool, and was a grazier, and sold cattle, and a great deal went through my hands. I never wronged man or woman in all that time; for the Lord's power was with me, and over me to preserve me. While I was in that service, it was common saying among people that knew me, "If George says 'Verily,' there is no altering him."

At the command of God, on the ninth day of the seventh month, 1643, I left my relations, and broke off all familiarity or fellowship with old or young. I went to Barnet in the month called June, in 1644. Now, during the time that I was at Barnet a strong temptation to despair came upon me. Then I thought, because I had forsaken my relations, I had done amiss against them. I was about twenty years of age when these exercises came upon me, and I continued in that condition some years in great trouble. I went to many a priest to look for comfort, but found no comfort from them. Then the priest of Drayton, the town of my birth, whose name was Nathaniel Stephens, came often to me, and I went often to him. At that time he would applaud and speak highly of me to others, and what I said in discourse to him on the week days he would preach of on the first days, for which I did not like him. This priest afterwards became my great persecutor.

After this I went to another ancient priest at Mancetter, in Warwickshire, and reasoned with him about the ground of despair and temptations; but he was ignorant of my condition, he bade me take tobacco and sing psalms. Tobacco was a thing I did not love, and psalms I was not in a state to sing. Then I heard of a priest living about Tamworth, but I found him only like an empty, hollow cask. Later I went to another, one Mackam, a priest of high account. He would needs give me some physic, and I was to have been let blood. I thought them miserable comforters, and saw they were all as nothing to me, for they could not reach my condition. And this struck me, "that to be bred at Oxford or Cambridge was not enough to make a man fit to be a minister of Christ." So neither these, nor any of the dissenting people, could I join with, but was a stranger to all, relying wholly upon the Lord Jesus Christ.

It was now opened in me "that God, who made the world, did not dwell in temples made with hands," but in people's hearts, and His people were His temple. During all this time I was never joined in profession of religion with any, being afraid both of professor and profane. For which reason I kept myself much a stranger, seeking heavenly wisdom and getting knowledge from the Lord.

When all my hopes in them were gone, then--oh, then--I heard a voice which said, "There is one, even Christ Jesus, that can speak to thy condition." And when I heard it my heart did leap for joy, and the Lord stayed my desires upon himself.


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