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The Gift of Healing in the Life of George Fox Essay by Edmund Goerke Part 1 of 3
Note: The late Edmund Goerke was a Primitive Friend from New Jersey. This 1964 essay is published here at the request of Derrick Faux, who published the essay as a booklet in 1972, and with the permission of the original publisher, the Full Gospel Business Men's Fellowship International.
DURING the age of Cromwell in England there was a great stirring in the north when the vision of the Disciple Church arose among a seeking people. Edward Burrough, one of the first that was gathered into the Life of the Prophets and Apostles, wrote:
Whilst waiting upon the Lord in silence, as we often did for many hours together, with our hearts toward Him, being stayed in the light of Christ from all fleshy motions and desires, we often received the pouring down of His Spirit upon us, and our hearts were made glad, and our tongues loosened, and our mouths opened, and we spake with new tongues, as the Lord gave us utterance, and His Spirit led us, which was poured upon sons and daughters. Thereby things unutterable were made manifest, and the glory of the Father was revealed. Then we began to sing praises to the Lord God Almighty, and to the Lamb, who had redeemed us to God, and brought us out of bondage of the world, and put an end to sin and death . . . and mighty and wonderful things hath the Lord wrought for us, and by us, by His own out-stretched arm . . . Being prepared of the Lord, and having received power from on high, we went forth as commanded of the Lord . . . We sounded the word of the Lord, and did not spare; and caused the deaf to hear, the blind to see, and the heart that was hardened to be awakened; and the dread of the Lord went before us and behind us, and took hold of our enemies.1
One of the great figures of this period was George Fox (1624-1690). At the age of nineteen he began his ministry and for nearly forty-five years his labours were in gathering people to Jesus Christ. During his lifetime he visited Scotland, Ireland, Holland, Germany, the West Indies and some of the British Colonies in North America. He requested that after his death his own Journal should be printed along with his Doctrinals, Epistles and Book of Miracles.2 All but the latter were published and, except for a catalogue of the miracles, this piece has never been found by modern scholars. However from his other works, and Journals of other Friends, many of these divine healings and revelations can be reconstructed. In all there are about one hundred and seventy of them.3
There can be no doubt that spiritual healings did manifest themselves in a remarkable way through George Fox and others in ways very similar to those found in the Acts. Wherever they came they sounded the Day of the Lord, that Christ has come to teach His people Himself.4 Their labour was not to form another sect or denomination or to reform those that were established through a revival of pietism, but to call out and gather all to Him who baptizes with the Holy Ghost and fire and forms His own righteous community.5 By 1690, the Friends, or Quakers as they were sometimes called, were as large as the largest of all the non-conformist groups in Great Britain.6 There was also the possibility that the British Colonies in North America might move in this direction as large segments of the country from North Carolina to New England were inhabited by these people.
The same one day as another
It is not the purpose of this short essay to go into all these divine revelations, and it was never their belief that Faith in Christ always manifested itself with such supernatural cures. It has been stated that neither George Fox, his companions, nor his successors in such occurrences however true; and have ever laid great stress on such occurrences however true; and have avoided insisting upon them as proof of their ministry. And although Friends did acknowledge such instances of the marvellous extension of divine regard to he consistent with Scripture and sound reason, they concluded it to be proper in these latter ages of the church to receive them simply as collateral assurances, that the Lord's power is the same in one day as another, rather than the essential evidences or as requisite fruits of true faith.7
The true Church of Christ and those that are called into it, is a supernatural event, and its inner life is a mystery to the world.
There are some examples of those who professed to he led by the Spirit who were deluded and acting under another power. and those so-called healings were but counterfeit.8 Such acts caused difficulty in that those obviously deluded persons were held up by the adversaries of the Friends as fruits of their ministry. Strong action was usually taken in repudiating such pretensions.9 However there are many references throughout this period of the blind receiving sight, the deaf hearing, the dumb speaking, the lame walking and the poor receiving the Gospel,10 as well as other acts of Divine Providence, but the following few examples from the many recorded will suffice to show from their own words the actual "miracle" or cure.
The laying on of hands
One of the most explicit and detailed explanations of spiritual healing happened to John Banks (1638-1710). He was born in the County of Cumberland in England. Early in his life he became a follower of Christ and soon after this he entered into the ministry and continued faithful until his death. He was a man of many gifts and for testimony he bore, he suffered much, spending many years in prison. He wrote in his Journal:
About this time , a pain struck into my shoulder, which gradually fell down into my arm and hand, so that the use thereof I was wholly deprived of; and not only so, but the pain greatly increased both day and night and for three months I could neither put my clothes on or off myself, and my arm and hand began to wither, so that I did seek to some physicians for cure, but no cure could I get by any of them; until at last as I was asleep upon my bed in the night time, I saw in a vision I was with dear George Fox; and I thought I said unto him, "George, my faith is such, that if thou seest it thy way to lay thy hand upon my shoulder, my arm and hand shall be whole throughout." Which remained with me after I awaked, two days and nights (that the thing was a true vision) and that I must go to George Fox until at last through much exercise of mind, as a near and great trial of my faith, I was made willing to go to him; he being then at Swarthmore, in Lancashire, where there was a meeting of Friends, being on the first day of the week. And some time after the meeting, I called him aside into the hall, and gave him a relation of my concern as aforesaid, showing him my arm and my hand; and in a little time, we walked together silent, he turned about and looked upon me, lifting up his hand, and laid it upon my shoulder, and said, "The Lord strengthen thee both within and without." And so we parted, and I went to Thomas Lower's of Marsh Grange that night; and when I was sat down to supper in his house, immediately, before I was aware, my hand was lifted up to do its office, which it could not for so long as aforesaid; which struck me into great admiration, and my heart was broke into true tenderness before the Lord, and the next day I went home, with my hand and arm restored to former use and strength, without any pain. And the next time that George Fox and I met he readily said, "John, thou mended, thou mended;" I answered, "Yes, very well in a little time." "Well," said he, "give God the glory."11
Another remarkable event occurred in 1672 while George Fox was in America visiting Friends in New Jersey:
And so we came to Shrewsbury . . . and we had men's and women's meeting . . . which will be of great service in keeping the Gospel Order and Government of Christ Jesus, the increase of which has no end . . . and there a friend (John Jay) that was with me went to try a horse and got on his back and the horse ran and cast him on his head and broke his neck as they call it, and the people took him up dead and carried him a good way and laid him on a tree, and I came to him and felt on him and saw that he was dead, and as I was pitying his family and him, for he was one that was to pass through the woods to Maryland that Land Journey; and I took him by the hair of the head, and his head turned like a cloth it was so loose, and I threw away my stick and gloves and took his head in both my hands, and set my knees against the tree; and raised his head and I did perceive it was not broken out that ways, and I put my hand under his chin, and behind his head, and raised his head 2 or 3 times with all my strength and brought it in, and I did perceive his neck began to be stiff, and then he began to rattle, and after to breathe, and the people were amazed, and I bid them have a good heart, and carry him into the house, and then they set him by the fire, and I bid them get him some warm thing and get him to bed; and after he had been in the house awhile he began to speak and did not know where he had been: and the next day we passed and he with us pretty well, about 16 miles to a meeting at Middletown.12
In 1672 while visiting in the Carolinas, George Fox related:
And many people of the world did receive us gladly and they came to us at one Nathaniel Batts, formerly governor of Roanoke, who goeth by the name of Captain Batts; who hath been a rude desperate man. He came to us and said that a captain told him that in Cumberland, George Fox bid one of his friends to go to a woman that had been sick a long time, and all the physicians had left her, and could not heal her. And George Fox bid his friend to lay his hands upon her and pray for her, and that George Fox's friend did go to the woman, and did as he bade him, and the woman was healed at that time. And thus Captain Batts told me, and spread it up and down the country among the people. And he asked of it, and I said many things had heen done by the power of Christ.13
While In Maryland the same year he wrote:
And on the 27th day we passed by water 20 miles to a meeting very large, some hundreds of the world and an establishing meeting it was . . . And after the meeting was done, one a judge's wife that side of the country, he is one of the assembly, she being at the meeting desired me to go down with her to her house, for her husband was sick and not like to live, and it was 3 miles. And it being after the meeting I was hot, but got a horse and went with her. And he was finally raised up, and after came to our meetings, and then I came 3 miles back to the house and the man being much refreshed when I left him.14
And again In Maryland the following year he wrote:
And there was a woman at Enemessy which had been many years in trouble and would sometimes sit moping near two months together and hardly speaking nor mind anything. So I was moved to go to her and tell her that salvation was come to her house, and did speak other words to her and for her. And that hour she mended and passed up and down with us to meetings and is well, blessed be the Lord.15