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The Faith which Overcomes the World,
and that which is overcome by the world
"And here you all know that there is no salvation in any other name under the whole heaven, but in the name of Jesus; who is a priest made higher than the heavens. So in his name keep your meetings, in whom you have salvation; and these are the true meetings, and true gatherings, who feel Jesus Christ in the midst of them, their prophet, their counselor, their leader, their light and life, their way and their truth, their shepherd, that laid down his life for them, that has bought you, his sheep, who feeds you in his pastures of life; and your heavenly bishop, to oversee you, that you do not go astray again from God. And so it is through him you overcome, and he that overcomes shall go forth no more out of his fold, out of his pastures, who shall sit down in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus." ~ From Epistle CCCXVI, George Fox.
Dear Friends, there is a faith which overcomes the world, with Jesus Christ, and there is a semblance of faith, which is a false rest in a false place, which is overcome by the world. The latter is a trap dug by the soul's enemy, into which we fall if we simply say that we have Abraham for a father - or that we are Children of Light by name and by practice alone. For God can and does raise up children to Abraham from the stones; we were as stones before God raised us up as a people, and we have been raised up by nothing less than His power, and it is His power alone that will keep us raised up.
If we should fall into formality on the one hand, or into easy familiarity and society with any people of the world, and their worship, on the other, we sit down in something much less than the power which raised us, and are become as stones again, as the devil would have us! No expression of unity or faith or love made with our mouths, in that condition, will be attended by grace, and it will be false. We will have been overcome by the world, and be mixed with the world, and subject to the false and lying god of this world, rather than to Christ.
How could we lose the sweet taste of the food which is handed out by the Divine Hand, and be content with the fancy but insubstantial pap that the world feeds? How could we, having once known the true rest, the true waiting worship, the true meeting, be content with anything less?
If it was not possible, then there would be no admonition in scripture, "Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall" (1 Corinthians 10:12). Nor would our ancient Friend George Fox have written the words which preface this present writing. Nor would he have warned in another epistle: "That was the devil's work in the beginning, which brought Eve out of her habitation; and that is his servant's work in the fall, to bring the innocent out of their habitation. ......... And so when they are gone from the truth themselves, the devil is got into them, and would keep them from meetings, to draw others into the same. ....... And so that fallen spirit would bring the saints to forsake their assemblies."
(Condensed from Epistle CLXXXVII
So, dear Friends, accept no lower substitute than to bring yourselves, in twos and threes, even singly if necessary, before the Lord Himself, in waiting worship, and keep your meetings in His name. Do not be afraid to be gathered by Him, unto Him, there is reassurance written in scripture (John 16:33, 1 John 2:13-17, 1 John 4:4, for example), in the words of Friends, and in the patient example of faithful Friends amongst you.
Remember that an essential part of the Gospel is the coming out of the wilderness of the woman who was fed there, which is the coming into being of the Lord's own Church, which is made up of those who hear and obey His voice. And also that it is through His Church that the Gospel is preached to the world, bringing the world to see His power, and turning the world to His Voice and Light within, so that they come to know unity also in His Church.
Therefore the message remains clear - keep your meetings in Jesus' name. Do not be afraid, nor ashamed, for the Lord will bear you up and give you strength do to His work.
And remember that Christ taught us how - in what Spirit - to pray, when he told us to ask, "Give us this day our daily bread." The Lord knows how and with how much we are to be fed in our meetings; and He will have fed us, even if we feel that we have been made to fast. So, Friends, always thank Him for his mercy and generosity, and for the bread we have had each day, the Holy feeding in our meetings. Amen.