Chapter 19 » 19.49

An ordered people

The danger for any spirit-inspired religion is individualism carried to excess. In the seventeenth century, this was seen amongst those called Ranters. Friends, too, ran this risk. What preserved them was the discovery of ‘gospel-order’, the setting up of meetings for church affairs where individual insight was tested against the insight of the gathered group. A series of meetings for church affairs, some local, some regional or national, had developed from 1654 onwards, though it was during the years 1667–1669 that George Fox journeyed throughout the country, creating from a series of ad hoc meetings a regular structure of monthly and quarterly meetings as part of a yearly meeting for the whole nation.

All the men’s monthly meetings were settled in the glorious order of the gospel, and that all in the power of God might seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and might cherish the good and reprove the evil.

George Fox, 1668

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