The following post (in red type) appeared on the New Foundation Fellowship Facebook page. I am answering it here with text taken from The Works of George Fox, Vol. VI, pp. 288-294. I have attempted to abridge some of it, removing redundancy where I could, and sometimes removing things that appeared to me to be a sidetrack. I hope to have left enough that the reader emerges with a complete sense of what Fox is saying. It is a long quote and I encourage readers to find the original if they can. The quote from Fox is in blue type. (Please note: the text from Fox is an OCR rendition of the 1831 edition of the Works of Fox. There may be some errors where the software did not get it right and I did not catch it. If something looks weird, contact me for a correction.)
The original Facebook post contained two questions. Question #2 will be dealt with in my next blog post.
A question if I may take the liberty: I have been greatly blessed, educated, and encouraged by reading the journals of George Fox, his letters, and writings – and those of his colleagues (Barclay, Penn et al.). His understandings of most things I often fully agree with. But I have a question about 2 things, if anyone might have a view on this please?
1. Water Baptism – whereas I totally agree that baptism in the Holy Spirit – becoming fully one with God in Spirit – is the central essence of baptism – also, the NT describes people being baptised in water, after Christian conversion. I am unsure why G.F. did not accept the precedent set by Jesus at his baptism (to fulfill all righteousness) – and the apostles? [from Steve Thomas)
Fox’s answer to this question is as follows:
And here you may see a distinction betwixt the baptism of John with his element of water, which must decrease, a forerunner of Christ’s baptism, which doth increase…who baptizeth with fire, and with the holy ghost; who cometh with his fan, and thoroughly purgeth the floor of the heart from sin and corruption, and burneth up the chaff with unquenchable fire….And Christ gathereth his wheat into his garner, into which garner the devil with his foul spirit, nor none of his vermin, his followers, can come to hurt God’s seed or wheat.
And all men and women must come to this baptism of Christ, who baptizeth with unquenchable fire and the holy ghost, before ever they know the wheat or the seed of God come into God’s garner; for John who said, he must decrease, his baptism with outward elementary water, doth not bring the wheat, the seed of God, into God’s garner.
And the apostle said, he thanked God that he had baptized none of the Corinthians but Crispus and Gaius,’ &c. for he said, Christ sent him not to baptize, but to preach the gospel, (1 Cor. i. 14. 17.) not with the wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.’
And John the Baptist [stated]…”I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but he that cometh after me, is mightier than I,…he shall baptize you with the holy ghost, and with fire; whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into his garner, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.’ Matt. iii. 11, 12. Mark i. 9. Luke iii. 21. And John said, He that hath the bride, is the bridegroom; he must increase, but I must decrease.’ And John further speaketh of Christ, and saith, ‘ He that is from above, is above all.’ And again, ‘He that cometh from heaven, is above all.’ John iii. 29, 30, 31. …So he [Jesus Christ] was preferred before John; for he was before him, for all things were made and created by Jesus Christ, whose name is called the word of God.’ John i.
And when Christ came to be baptized of John, John forbade him, saying, ‘ I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?’ And Jesus said unto him, Suffer it to be so now, for thus it becomith us to fulfill all righteousness;’ then he suffered him. Matt. iii. 13, 14, 15. So here, John knew that himself must be baptized with Christ’s baptism, with fire, and with the holy ghost, before the seed of God, the wheat, be gathered into God’s garner. And John answered the Pharisees, when they questioned him, and said, I baptize you with water; but there standeth one amongst you, whom you know not, he it is that cometh after me, which is preferred before me, whose shoe latchet I am not worthy to unloose.’ And John seeing Christ come unto him, said, Behold the lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world.’ This is he of whom John said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me, for he was before me; and that he should be made manifest to Israel; therefore came I baptizing with water.’ John i. 27 to 31.
Here you may see, John clearly declareth for what end he was sent to baptize with water, namely, that Christ might be made manifest to Israel, the Jews, that had the figures and shadows of Christ; for John doth not say, he came baptizing with water, that Christ might be made manifest to the Gentiles or heathen, but to Israel. For the apostle Paul said to the Corinthians, he was not sent to baptize, (namely, with the element of water,) but to preach the gospel;’ for the apostle thanks God that he baptized none of the Corinthians, but two or three, that he mentions in 1 Cor. i. And he tells the Corinthians, (which were the Gentiles,) By one spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free, and have been all made to drink into one spirit.’ 1 Cor. xii. 13.
So this was the spiritual baptism of Christ that the apostle brought both Jews and Gentiles into. Then surely the apostle Paul must see the decreasing of John’s baptism with elementary water, who brought them to the spiritual baptism.
And the apostle Paul writeth to the Ephesians, and exhorts them, to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace;’ and saith ‘There is one body, and one spirit, &c. and one Lord, and one faith, and one baptism, and one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through you all, and in you all.’ Ephes. iv. 3, 4, 5, 6.
So God was in them all, and through them all, by his spirit; and this was the one Lord, and one faith, and one baptism, that the apostle brought the church of Christ the Ephesians to, which was not John’s baptism, with elementary water, but Christ’s baptism with the holy ghost, which burned up the chaff, by which God’s wheat, or seed was gathered into his garner. Surely these Ephesians had their wheat, or seed, gathered into God’s garner; for the apostle saith, they sat together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.’ Ephes. ii. 6. And these were not Jews, but Gentiles. And if John’s decreasing baptism, with elementary water, had been Christ’s baptism, then the apostle would not have thanked God he baptized none but these few; nor have said, that Christ did not send him to baptize with water, but to preach the gospel, as in 1 Con xiv. 16, 17. But it is clear, the apostle did bring the church of Christ to the one spiritual baptism of Christ Jesus.
…Now, mark, as John had fulfilled his course of elementary water baptism, John saith of himself, that he must decrease.’ Then Christ’s baptism came in with the holy ghost, and with fire, which doth increase; by which holy ghost and fire, the sin and corruption, which is chaff, is burned up, and God’s wheat and seed is gathered into his garner. And also, Christ is the true and heavenly baptizer, with his heavenly unquenchable fire and holy spirit.
And Christ commanded his disciples, that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father.’ And further said, For John truly baptized with water, but ye shall be baptized with the holy ghost not many days hence,…and ye shall receive power after that the holy ghost is come upon you, and ye shall be witnesses unto me, (namely, Christ, who baptizeth with fire, and with the holy ghost,) both in Jerusalem, and Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth.’ Acts i. 4 to 8. And in Acts ii. the apostles being met together at Jerusalem, they were all filled with the holy ghost. Here Christ’s words were fulfilled in them, and upon them,…and they were witnesses of Christ, both in Judea and Samaria, and to the Gentiles, &c.
And the apostle came to Ephesus, and finding certain disciples, he said unto them, Have ye received the holy ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, we have not so much as heard whether there be any holy ghost.’ And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized?’ And they said, Unto John’s baptism.’ Then said Paul, ‘John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him that should come after him; (that is, on Christ Jesus, &c.) and when Paul had laid his hand on them, the holy ghost came upon them.’ Acts xix.
Here you may see the baptism of John, with his elementary water, was not the baptism of Christ with the holy ghost; for they that baptized with John’s baptism, said, We have not so much as heard whether there be any holy ghost.’ Then they were not like to know the baptism of Christ with the holy ghost. But when the apostle Paul laid his hands upon them, the holy ghost came upon them, then they were baptized with the holy ghost.
And while Peter spoke to Cornelius’s family, the holy ghost fell upon them which heard the word that he preached. Acts x. 44. So the holy ghost was given through the preaching of the word Christ, and the holy ghost doth baptize them; through which baptism the wheat or seed of God is gathered into God’s garner.
And Saul, who had been a persecutor of God’s people, and was struck blind, and Ananias went to him, and laid his hands upon him, and said, The Lord Jesus sent me to thee, that thou might receive thy sight, and be filled with the holy ghost.’ Acts ix. 11 to 18. which came to pass unto Paul, who did receive his sight. And was not he baptized by the holy ghost, who was filled with it? And then after, did not he bring others to the same spiritual baptism, and called Jesus Lord by the holy ghost, and bore witness to Christ, both among Jews and Gentiles? And the apostles laid their hands upon the Samaritans that believed in Christ; and through the laying on of the apostle’s hands, the holy ghost was given to the Samaritans, when they had prayed that they might receive the holy ghost….Acts x. 15 to 24.
Now were not these Samaritans, that received the holy ghost by the apostles’ laying hands on them, baptized by the holy ghost?…And Stephen said to the outward professing high priests and Jews, their council, ‘ Ye stiff-necked, and uncircumcised in hearts and ears! ye always resist the holy ghost; as your forefathers did, so do ye.’ Acts vi. 15. chap. vii. 1. 51. And may not the same be said of many that are called christians, that live in an outward profession of the letter of the scripture, and some outward elements of bread, wine, and water, and outward shows and signs? And how can such as resist the holy ghost, as their forefathers did, come to be baptized by the holy ghost, and by unquenchable fire, (which is the baptism of Christ,) and have their sins and corruptions burned up, that chaff, and their wheat gathered into God’s garner?
And some came unto John, and said, He to whom thou bearest witness, behold, the same baptizeth, and all men come to him.’ And the Pharisees heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John, though Christ himself baptized not’ with water; for Christ baptized with the holy ghost, and with unquenchable fire, as John bore witness of his baptism, John iii. 26. chap. iv. 1, 2. And from that time John was cast into prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, The time is fulfilled, the kingdom of God is at hand, repent ye, and believe the gospel.’ Mark i. 14, 15. Matt. iv. 12. 17. So here you may see, Christ preaches a higher doctrine than John, and cometh with a greater baptism after John.
And the apostle saith to the Romans, ‘that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ, were baptized into his death.’ …Then that must be by the holy ghost; and therefore the apostle saith, We are buried with him by baptism into death, that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in the newness of life.’ So they that come out of this death by baptism, walk in newness of life; and this baptism into Christ and his death, is not the baptism of John, with his outward elementary water. The apostle saith, If we have been planted together in the likeness of Christ’s death, we shall also be planted in the likeness of his resurrection.’ Rom. vi. 3, 4, 5. And the apostle saith, 1 Cor. x. 12. that all our father’s were under the cloud, and all past through the sea, and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud, and in the sea.’ Mark, unto Moses in the cloud, and in the sea, they were all baptized. Exod. xiii. 21. and chap. xiv. 21. The Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon dry ground, and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left.’ Here you may see, though it is said they were baptized in the cloud, and in the sea unto Moses, yet they went upon dry land, or ground, and the waters did not touch them.
But the apostle brings the same Corinthians to the baptism of the spirit, and saith, We are all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Gentiles, whether bond or free, and have been all made to drink into one spirit.’ This is Christ’s spiritual baptism, which is beyond John’s with the element of water, which was to decrease. And the apostle saith, he was not sent to baptize, but to preach the gospel.’ And the apostle saith, ‘ For as many as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, bond nor free, male nor female; for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.’ Gal. iii. 27, 28. Mark, they that have been baptized into Christ, are all one in him, and have put on Christ. And this baptism is not into outward elementary water; for the spiritual baptism brings to put on Christ, the heavenly man, and makes all one in him. Heb. vi. So it is clear, the apostle brought people off the doctrine of many baptisms, to the one faith, and one spiritual baptism, as in Ephes. iv. 5. And by this one spirit were all to be baptized into one body, and so to drink all into one spirit, and in that they have unity and fellowship with the Father, and with his son Jesus Christ, and one with another. 1 Cor. xii. 13. 1 John i. 3. The Lord bring all people into this spiritual baptism, and into this fellowship. Amen. G. F. (Works of Fox, Vol. VI, p. 288-294)
My one comment: This is, therefore, a matter of keeping our testimony for Christ.
One question that remains to be dealt with comes from the exchange between Jesus and John the Baptist. What does it mean to fulfill all righteousness? That, too, shall be another post.