Read the following passage and discuss the questions provided below.
“Now was I come up in spirit through the flaming sword, into the paradise of God. All things were new; and all the creation gave another smell unto me than before, beyond what words can utter. I knew nothing but pureness, and innocency, and righteousness, being renewed up into the image of God by Christ Jesus, to the state of Adam, which he was in before he fell. The creation was opened to me; and it was shewed me how all things had their names given them according to their nature and virtue. I was at a stand in my mind whether I should practise physic for the good of mankind, seeing the nature and virtues of the creatures were so opened to me by the Lord. But I was immediately taken up in spirit, to see into another or more steadfast state than Adam’s in innocency, even into a state in Christ Jesus that should never fall. And the Lord shewed me that such as were faithful to Him, in the power and light of Christ, should come up into that state in which Adam was before he fell; in which the admirable works of the creation, and the virtues thereof, may be known through the openings of that divine Word of wisdom and power by which they were made. Great things did the Lord lead me unto, and wonderful depths were opened unto me beyond what can by words be declared; but as people come into subjection to the Spirit of God, and grow up in the image and power of the Almighty, they may receive the word of wisdom, that opens all things, and come to know the hidden unity in the Eternal Being.”- George Fox
Reflections on the above passage from the Journal of George Fox. This can be discussed as a whole group or in pairs.
- It is almost certain that George Fox took the Genesis account of Adam and Eve’s sin, their expulsion from the Garden of Eden, and the setting of a flaming sword to bar their re-entry literally. Does the power of this passage change if one views the Genesis account in a non-literal way?
- What does it mean for all creation to take on a new “smell”?
- Is passing through the flaming sword the conclusion of the spiritual journey, or is it merely the beginning (perhaps of a new stage)?
- How can “people come into subjection to the Spirit of God, and grow up in the image and power of the Almighty”?
- In this passage, George Fox describes a dramatic re-orientation of his spiritual experience. What has been your personal experience? Have you experienced sudden “openings” or moments where you suddenly felt that you had arrived in a new spiritual landscape? Has your spiritual experience been (almost) entirely “long term and slow burn”? Do you see dangers in expecting to have, on a frequent basis, experiences like the one that George Fox describes? Do you see dangers in assuming that such experiences could never happen to you?