« PreviousContinue »
tize into the name, into the Spirit, into the power (and fo were all the apoftles), as well as to preach the gospel, Gal. iii. 5. Matt. xxviii. 19.
Then for the outward fupper: was not that a fhadow of the true fubftantial fupper of the Lord, of the breaking of the true bread, and drinking of the true wine (the fruit of the vine of life) in the kingdom of God? Which kingdom was at hand in John's time, and the difciples of Chrift were to pray it might come; and the apoftles, and they afterwards (that were in the power, in the life, in the righteousness, in the joy eternal) did witness it come. For mark: the promise was not only of a kingdom of glory hereafter, when the body is laid down; but they were to receive the kingdom, and feel an entrance (yea, an abundant entrance) into the everlafting kingdom miniftered to them even then: and they were to eat bread in the kingdom, and drink wine in the kingdom, even new bread, and new wine, fresh from the table of the Lord, yea, and with the Lord, in his prefence, according to the promife, he would come and dwell in them, and walk in them, and fup with them, and they with him. And thus they in their day, and we in our day (bleffed be the name of the Lord our God) eat and drink of the heavenly bread and wine of the kingdom with Christ therein; every one fitting in the heavenly place, and manfion of reft, which the Lord hath built up and prepared for him.
Query 2. Have not these outward things been much abused, and the antichriftian spirit (even the whorish fpirit, which hath adulterated from the life and power of God) appeared in them, and cried them up? And furely, as fo cried up by that spirit, they are neither of nor for Christ.
And confider well what that outward court was which God gave to the Gentiles, and what the worship and ordinances of the outward court were; and whether they were not given to the Gentiles also, and whether these are any part of them; for if fo, then they belong not to, nor are required by, the Lord, of the inward Jews, who are of the circumcision in the heart, and are come to inherit the fubftance.
Query 3. Whether there be any virtue in these things in themselves, without God's requiring of them? Can outward water wash the foul? Can outward bread and wine feed or refresh it? Indeed if God require a man to wath his body with water, he ought to be fubject, and there will be profit to him in his subjection; but of itself it is but a bodily exercife, and without God's requiring it, it would be but will-worship, and profit him nothing
Now truly the Lord did never require this of us; but hath fhewn us the water which our fouls and bodies had need of to be washed with, and the bread and wine which they are to be fed and refreshed with: and in following the Lord according as he hath led us, and required of us, we have found reconciliation, life, reft, peace, and joy with our Father, and pure refreshment from him.
Query 4. As touching duties: Thefe are the two great duties we are taught, To love the Lord our God with all our heart, foul, and fpirit; and our neighbour as ourselves. And thefe we learn by believing in him whom God hath fent, and receiving the feed of life from him; in the growth whereof in us we live, and are made one with him, and partakers of the ability which is of him. For not by working of ourselves do we attain to this; but by the working of his powerful life in us, through his mercy to us. He circumcifeth us, he cuts off the enmity, he brings under the old nature and fpirit in us, and then the new fprings up, and we are renewed in it. And in this we learn and are made able to love the Lord, and his children, and his creatures, yea, all that is of him. And this love constrains us to obey the Lord, and deny all for him; fo that we can fuffer any thing (through his ftrength) but fin, but corruption, but unbelief, but difobedience to him. Yea, this makes us fo tender towards him, that we can rather part with all of this world, than the integrity and subjection of our fpirits to him in the least thing that he requires of us; his truth (and our teftimony thereto) in every refpect being far dearer to us than our lives, and all the enjoyments and pleasures of this prefent world.
From these two great duties flow many others as towards God; to fear him with the fear which is not taught by the precepts of men, but which he writes in our hearts; to wait upon him night and day in his temple, even in the holy place of his building; to call upon him in the motion, guideance, will, and help of his Spirit (for indeed when once we learn of God, we are taught to pray no more after the flesh, no more after the will, wif dom, or way of man); as alfo to be fenfible of his goodnefs, and give thanks to him in every condition.
And in this we feel his prefence and acceptance, as the Lord is not forgotten by us; but when we eat and drink, walk abroad, or ftay at home, we feel him near, and our hearts acknowledge him, bow to him, wait upon him, bless him, praise his name, and fpeak words concerning him, or to him, with the outward voice, when he gives them, and requires them of us; but of a truth we dare bring no facrifices of our own, nor kindle any fire or sparks of our own; but wait for the holy breath, Spirit, and of our God, to perform all in us, and by us.
But now, because we do not pray at certain fet-times (as we formerly were wont to do) nor fpeak words before and after meat as formerly, and the like, ye are offended with us, and fay we deny this duty. No, no; we do not deny to God the prayer which is from the birth immortal; but this we fay, and fenfibly feel, prayer is a gift, and the ability thereof is in God's Spirit; for we know not what to pray for as we ought, nor have we a power in us to pray when or as we will; but in the Holy Spirit, in his breathing in us, is our ability; and we are to wait on him for the moving and breathing of his Spirit, and not to pray of ourfelves, or in our own wills or times, but in the Father's. And it is a mighty thing to speak to
God aright in prayer. Flesh must be filent before him, and laid ftill and low in his prefence, that the pure fpring may open, the pure breath breathe, and the pure voice iffue forth; for God heareth not finners, but the born of him that doth his will. This must every foul witnefs in his measure, as Christ witnessed it in the fulness; and there is no ferving God aright, or performing any duty or ordinance of worship to him aright, but in a meafure of the fame life and Spirit wherewith Chrift ferved him.
Now I do not only own the ftate of the Jews in their integrity, and of the primitive Chriftians in theirs, and of what the Lord hath caufed to break forth in this our day, but I also own all the appearances of God all along the night of the apoftafy in the holy martyrs and witneffes, which he raised up, and enabled to bear teftimony to his truth, and against the antichristian practices of many in that dark night of the apoftafy. And thus alfo I own all the work of God in my own heart, and in the hearts of others (whom he pleased to work upon) in former times; yea, the breathings and defires which are yet in the hearts of any after the Lord, so far as they are in the truth, and of and from the Lord, I cannot but own. But the Lord hath fhewn me that there is a great mixture in mens defires and endeavours after him; and that the evil spirit (by his fubtilty) doth.often get the managing of them, and turn the very zeal and earnestness of the mind (through prejudices and misapprehenfions) against the Lord and his truth. Now this is a very dangerous ftate, and there are föme (who little think fo) in this ftate, doing that against the Lord, and against his Christ, his truth, his people, which, if ever their eyes be opened, they will mourn bitterly over; and if their eyes be not opened, but they walk on by a wrong light (even by a light of their own gathering, imagining, and conceiving) whither will it lead them, and what will their end be? Oh! that ye could hear! Oh! that ye could fear aright! Oh! that ye could rightly confider! Oh! that ye could feel the life and power of the Lord near you, the Word of life near you, even as near as ye have felt the enemy and his temptations, that ye might partake of, and witness with joy, the virtue and redemption of it! Oh! that ye could once aright look upon him whom ye have pierced, and yet daily pierce, and cannot but pierce, until the righteous judgments of the Lord be poured out on the head of the tranfgreffor in you, and the Lord waited upon, feared, and fubjected to, in the way of his judgments, that ye may feel the refiningwork finished, the drofs burned up, the temple prepared, the veffel brought pure out of the furnace! What then? Why when the Lord hath built up Sion, prepared his temple, cleanfed his house, will he not appear there in his glory? Shall it not become an houfe of prayer, of pure prayer, and of pure praises? Shall there be any lame or blind facrifices offered up there? Shall it not be the beauty of holiness indeed? Shall not the appearance of the Lord be more glorious there than ever it was in the temple and ordinances under the law? Shall not every living ftone in this building feel the
God of life and power prefent of a truth, and feel not only the earth, but the very heavens melt before him and pass away, and nothing remain but the pure light and life of the Lamb?
Words and promises spoken concerning things to be brought forth in the gospel-ftate do not go beyond the things fpoken; but the things brought forth excel and go beyond the words, being fo felt and enjoyed by that which is fitted and prepared by the Lord, as words cannot utter. The Lord God lead all that rightly defire after him into the right way (and preserve them therein) of meeting with and enjoying what their hearts rightly defire, and beat back the enemy in all his devices of entangling, perplexing, and drawing them afide; that they may receive the covenant, the new covenant, walk with God in the light thereof, live in the life thereof, obey through the power thereof; and may know what kind of meat and drink, what joy, delight, and pleasure it is to the foul to do the will, in the principle, and by the power, of the new life. So the Lord God Almighty, the creator, guider, and preferver of his Ifrael, lead you out of the darkness, bring you through the wilderness, reveal the hope in you, and ftay your minds thereon, and give you to feel the true travel and faithful walking with him in the footsteps of the flock, which he hath led and is leading his in, and unto fome of whom (in the tender mercy which from on high hath visited them) he hath given full reft and fatisfaction in his
Ground of CERTAINTY and SATISFACTION, which it hath pleased the LORD to establish in my Heart, concerning Religion, and the Things of His Kingdom.
HAVE been afflicted from my childhood, mourning and feeking after the Lord, and feeling very much grief and pain of spirit, through my sense of the want of him. I have not been contented with the way of religion I was educated in, but (through that of God which stirred in me)
found great defects in it, and was drawn and led by his Spirit to travel thro' it, and feek further. That which I ftill fought after was the refting-place, the life of my foul, and power and prefence of the Lord, that demonftration of his Spirit (as touching truth and the way of God) which was witneffed in the days of the apoftles. Now, breathing after this, but not meeting with it, caufed unutterable anguish, misery, and diftrefs in my heart, so that my condition could not be hid within mine own breaft, but my forrow also brake forth in the fight of others.
But at length the eternal bowels have pitied me, and have fhewed me the place of the foul's reft, and I have felt the eternal arm gathering me into, and giving me fome poffeffion of, a measure thereof; so that my heart is fatisfied about religion and the things of God's kingdom, being taught of God how to know the Pearl, and the way alfo how to come to inherit and enjoy it; and in that way I have had great experience of the love, mercy, wisdom, goodness, power, and righteousness of the Lord; and notwithftanding all my foul's enemies, I ftill feel his prefence, life, and power to his praife, which doth the work in me, and which giveth me to hope in him, and wait upon him. And now in love and tenderness of bowels to others, it is in my heart to answer a Question or two about the ground of the affurance and fatisfaction which God hath given my foul; it being in my heart not to grieve or trouble any, but only to be helpful in holding forth what the Lord hath demonftrated to and written in my heart, as he fhall draw, move, and enable my spirit thereunto; to whom my foul boweth, and giveth the praise all that he hath done in me, and pleaseth by his Spirit and power to work through me.
Queft. 1. It may be enquired by fome, How I come to know the Spirit of God, and his church, and the fcriptures of the holy men to be written by the inspiration and leading of his Holy Spirit; and how I know the motions and drawings of bis Spirit in me, from the motions, fuggeftions, and temptations of the evil Spirit; and how I am fatisfied that I am in the way of truth and life eternal, and do not wander out of it, and err from it?
Anfw. Thus I know; By receiving, joining to, abiding and growing up. in that holy feed, which the Father of fpirits hath fown in me. There is an elect feed which cannot poffibly be deceived, which feed the Father. foweth, and caufeth to grow in the hearts of them that receive it; whose earth is by him digged and prepared for it. Now I have felt this feed from God, this holy pure thing, which there is nothing like for virtue and excellency. Nothing hath its nature befides it, nothing manifefts, the Father but it; the heart is changed, renewed, reftored into the holy image by this. alone.
In this feed there is no deceit; no deceit ever came from it, no deceit ever entered into it, nor can; and from the day that I have known it, I have always felt prefervation by it, while my heart hath been kept to it. Mine eye never mif-faw in it, mine ear never mif-heard in it, my heart ne