Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
I'm told (via "Quaker Jane") that "Let your lives speak" literally isn't in George Fox's writings.
The well-known example, of phrases that come close, is of course from his Journal. Ironically, it is in a letter he addressed "To Friends in the Ministry."
"Bring all into the worship of God: plow up the fallow ground thresh and get out the corn, that all people may come to the Beginning, to Christ, who was before the world was made. For the chaff has come upon the wheat by transgression. He who treads out the chaff is out of transgression and fathoms transgression. He sees the difference between the precious and the vile and can pick out the wheat from the tares and gather it into the garner. Thus he brings the immortal soul to God, from whom it came. No one worships God but he who comes to the principle of God, which he has transgressed; no one is plowed up but he who comes to the principle of God in him, that he has transgressed. Then he does service to God, then the planting and the watering take place, and the increase comes from God. So the ministers of the spirit must minister to the spirit that has been in captivity in every one, so that with the spirit of Christ people may be led out of captivity up to God, the Father of Spirits, and do service to him, and have unity with him, with the Scriptures, and with one another. This is the word of the Lord God to you all, and a charge to you all in the presence of the living God: Be patterns, be examples in all countries, places, islands, nations, wherever you go, so that your carriage and life may preach among all sorts of people, and to them. Then you will come to walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in every one. Thereby you can be a blessing in them and make the witness of God in them bless you. Then you will be a sweet savor and a blessing to the Lord God.
"Spare no deceit; lay the sword upon it; go over it. Keep yourselves clear of the blood of all men, either by word or writing or speaking. Keep yourselves clean, so that you can abide in your throne, and everyone have his lot, and abide in that lot in the Ancient of Days. And so the blessing of the Lord be with you and keep you over all idolatrous worships and worshippers. Let them know the living God. For teachings, churches, and worships that have been set up by man’s earthly understanding, knowledge, and will must be thrown down with the power of the Lord God..."
Of several references in Epistle 200, this seems the most explicit:
"So that is the word of God to you all friends, of whatever calling you be.
'Live in the power of truth, and wisdom of God,'
to answer that just principle of God in all people upon the earth;
and so you answering of it, by this you come to be as a city set upon a hill,
which is above that mountain, that is in the whole world,
that lies above the just principle of God in every one there,
which the power of God goes over.
So let your lives preach,
let your light shine that your works may be seen,
that your Father may be glorified;
that your fruits may be unto holiness,
and that your end may be everlasting life.
Dwell in the power of the Lord God, and light and life,
with which you may feel and see, before the unrighteousness was;
in this you will know the everlasting righteousness brought forth,
which answers the righteous principle of God in every one,
to which they must come to own,
to lead them and guide them,
to teach them to speak and act truth justly, righteously, and holily."
and these lines toward the end seem most apropos:
"And whatsoever you do, let it be done to the praise and glory of God, (mark that).
Have God's praise and glory in your eye in all your speakings and doings,
then you will be preserved to his glory, and then you will honor him... "
Now the usage I hear often from friends suggests the following: 'Work your life into a proper idol, that everyone (except you; you will always know better!) may admire.'
But the implication that disturbs me most is roughly [quite roughly, alas!]: 'I don't know God, don't want to know God, have nothing to say about God and would like you to please shut up!"
But this is very very far from what Fox had to say!