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Thath pleased the Lord, as he manifested his Christ gloriously before the
apoftafy, so to manifest him so again. For he was not only born (in the flesh) of the virgin Mary; but he was also born in the Spirit of the woman cloathed with the sun, which had the moon under her feet, and on her head. a crown of twelve stars. She also brought forth the man-child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron, Rev. xii.
Now of this appearance and return of the Lord Jesus Christ, and his fresh bringing forth of his life and power in his body, the church, there are many witnesses, who have seen, felt, and tasted thereof, with the eyes and fenses which are of God, and of the new-birth. And of this (in the love and good-will of God, and from the drawings and requirings of his Spirit) they bear witness to others, that they also might come to see the glory and brightness of his day, and rejoice therein. For indeed it is a glorious day inwardly in spirit, to those that are quickened and gathered to the living Shepherd and Bishop of the foul, by the eternal arm of his power. And happy is the eye that fees the things that they see, and the ear that hears what they hear, and the heart which understands the things which God hath revealed in and unto them by his Spirit. · Glorious was the appearance of Christ in the flesh; but there were blocks in the way of the Jews, that they could not know, own, believe and receive him. And glorious is the administration of his life in Spirit, in this day of his power ; but there are also blocks. lying in the way of them to whom it is sent, which cause them to stumble at it, and keep them both from letting it into them, and also from giving up to it. But blessed was. he who was not offended in Christ then, and blessed is he who is not. offended at him now. For he that is offended at him, who is life, and gives life, stumbling at the present way of dispensation which God hath chosen to give it out by, how Thall he live? This is the cause that so many poor hearts lie mourning and grovelling on the earth, groaning because of their sins, fearing because of the strength of the enemy, and the corruptions of their own hearts, which are continually ready to betray them into his hands; because they know not him who hath stretched out his arm, and is come in his power to deliver'; but are prejudiced against the way wherein he hath and doth deliver. Yea, they know not his voice who calls, Come unto me; I am the resurrection and the life. He that believeth in me, Mall receive ny strength; and though he were ever so weak, shall become as David; and though ever so unclean, shall find the waters which spring from my well to cleanse him, and nourish bim to life everlasting.
How tenderly did Christ visit the Jews in the days of his felh ? How powerfully, and in the true authority of God, did he preach among them? What mighty works did he shew? And yet they could not believe. Why so ? The enemy had entered them with his temptations, had got somewhat into their minds of a contrary nature, to keep out thereby the sense, knowledge, and acknowledgment of him. So that when their hearts were even overcome with his power and sweet precious doctrine, and ready to yield that this was he, this was the Christ indeed, then the enemy raised up some argument or other to prejudice them against him, that he might thereby beat them off, and drive them back again from owning or receiving him. This man is not of God, say some ; for be keepetb not the Jabbath. He cannot be a prophet, say others, because be is of Galilee, out of which no prophet ariseth He cannot be Christ, faith a third fort, because we know whence be is; but when Christ cometh, no man knoweth whence he is. He is not holy, strict, and zealous, according to the law, say others; but a loose person, a man gluttonous, and a wine-bibber; a friend of publicans and finners; one who teacherh not his disciples to fast and pray (as the Pharisees did theirs, and John, who was generally looked upon as a prophet, did his), but justifieth them in plucking the ears of corn on the fabbath-day, and so thereby rather encouraging them to break it, than strictly to observe and keep it according to God's law, He is a blafphemer, fay fome (speaks most horrid blasphemy) making himself equal with God. He reproacheth the most strict and zealous men that we have (even our teachers and interpreters of the law and prophets) calling them bypocrites, painted sepulchres, blind guides, &c. and pronounceth woe upon woe against them. And those that are the children of Abraham he calls the children of the devil; and faith, He that committeth fin, is the servant of sin; but if the Son (meaning himself) make you free, ye shall be free indeed. And if we will have life in us, we must believe in him, and eat his flesh, and drink his blood. (Did ever Moses, or any of the prophets, teach such doctrine ? ) Again, he faith, if a man keep my saying, be shall never see death; whereas Abraham and the prophets (who believed God, and kept his sayings) are all dead. This made them even conclude he had a devil, John viii. 52. So how could they understand him when he said, he was the good shepherd, and the door, &c. and that all that ever came before him were thieves and robbers; would they not look upon this as witnessing of himself, and endeavouring to set up himself? And when he faid, Verily, verily, before Abraham was, I am; were they not ready to stone him, for speaking a false and impossible thing, as it seemed to them; he manifestly being not yet fifty years old ? But fuppose it to be true that he was before Abraham, how then could he be the Messiah, who was to come of Abraham, and out of the loins of David, according to the scriptures? And then for his miracles, having beforehand concluded that he was a bad man, a sinner, a breaker of the fabbath, a blasphemer, a deceiver of the people, &6. how easy was it for them to harden themselves against them,
and to infer that he wrought not these things by the power of God, but by the aid and aslistance of the devil, to overthrow the laws and ordinances of Moses, and to set up himself and his new doctrine by? Indeed many (and fome feemingly ftrong and unanswerable) were the exceptions which the wisdom and understanding in them (which was out of the life and power of truth) formed against Chrift, whereby they justified themselves in their refusal of him, who was fealed and sent of the Father, and so excluded themselves the kingdom, and the righteousness thereof.
This is past, and they can condemn them now, who themselves are acting over again the same thing in spirit. It pleaseth the Lord thus to suffer things to be, still fo to give forth the dispensations of his life, as they alone that are in some meafure of his life can difcern them. And the same fpirit (under a new guise) still opposeth truth in its present appearance and difpensation, and stirreth men up to flight and blafpheme that holy name and power, which they that believe in are faved and fanctified by.' Well, what shall I say to you? Oh! that ye could difcern spirits ! Oh! that ye could see what spirit ye are of, and whom ye serve, in opposing the prefent dispensation of life! Oh! that ye could see how ye read scriptures out of that which wrote them, and bend them against that which wrote them, making yourselves wise and strong in a wrong wisdom and knowledge against the Lord, and against his Chrift, whom he hath fet upon his holy hill of Sion, and who appeareth there, though you see it not.
For Sion is not now literal, or after the flesh (the day is come, the shadows are gone); but Sion is. the holy hill of God in Spirit, upon which the heavenly Jerusalem was built, which is revealed, come down, and coming down from heaven, and many of the heavenly citizens dwell there already, and more are coming thither to dwell; for even from the east, west, north, and fouth, shall the gathering be, to fit with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom which cannot be shaken; which kingdom was received by the Chriftians formerly before the apoftafy, and is now received again, bleffed be his name who lives and reigns in power over all the spirits of darkness and deceit, maintaining his pure life and truth in the hearts of his children, in despite of them all.
But why should you thus erp in heart from the pure truth? Why should you not open to him that knocks in his holy power, and in the demonstrations of his Spirit to your conscience? Why should a subtil device of the deceiver be let in and hugged by you, to cause you to thrust him back from your hearts who is the Word of eternal life, and with whom are the words of eternal life? The Lord God discover the deep deceits of the enemy to you, where he captivateth your hearts and understandings, that it may not be always said of you, as it was of the Jews, be came unto his own, and bis own received him not! But to as many as received him, he gave power in the day of his felh; and he giveth much more power to them that receive him in fpirit (in the day of his Spirit) to become the fons of God. And because they are sons, he poureth out abundantly of his Spirit upon them; and he that hath the Spirit, hath the Son; and he that hath the Son, hath life': but he that hath not the Son (but blasphemeth the appearance and light of his Spirit) hath not life ; but is yet in that wifdom and knowledge which is death, and which keeps him dead. Now the Lord of his tender mercy make you sensible of, and pardon
your opposing and resisting, his truth; and also cause the light of life to shine in your hearts, quickening and guiding you thereby out of the land of death and darkness, into the holy land of life; that all that sincerely breathe after truth may (through the faithful travel) come to sit down, dwell, and feed together in it, in the one power, in the one life, in the one Holy Spirit, where is pure rest and peace, perfect joy and satisfaction for evermore. Amen.
QUE R I ES
CHRIST, and his APPEARANCES; his taking upon
him our Flesh: As also concerning his Flesh and Blood, and our being formed thereof, and feeding thereon.
Query 1. HETHER there was not a neceffity of Christ's taking
upon him our fesh, for the redemption of those that had finned, and the fatisfaction of the justice offended?
Query 2. Whether the Father did not accordingly prepare a body for him, to do his will in all things in; and particularly to offer up to him the acceptable facrifice for the fins of the whole world?
Query 3. Whether it was not necessary, in this respect also, that Christ fhould take upon him our Alesh, that he might have experience of our temptations and infirmities, and become a merciful and faithful high-priest and interceffor for us?
Query 4. Wherein lay the value and worth of his facrifice, and of all he did? Did it lie chiefly on the thing done, or in the life wherein he did it, in that he did it in the pure faith and obedience to the Father? He became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross ; and he through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God?
Query up the
· Query 5. What was he, for whom the Father prepared a body, and who took it up to do the will, and did the will in it? Was he not the arm of God, the power of God, the Saviour and salvation of God, the Jesus and Christ of God?
Query 6. To whom do the names and titles Jesus and Christ chiefly and in the first place belong? Do they belong to the body which was taken by him, or to him who took the body? The body hath its nature and properties, and the eternal Word, or Son of God (the pure spotless Lamb, the fountain of innocency) its nature and properties. Now the query is, which was the appointed Saviour of the Father? Which was the anointed of the Father, chiefly, and in the first place? Whether the body prepared, or he for whom the body was prepared, to do the will, and offer acceptable sacrifice in?
Query 7. Which is Christ's Aesh and blood which we are to partake of, whereof. we are to be formed, which we are to eat and drink, and which is meat and drink indeed, nourishing to life everlasting ? Is it the flesh and blood of the body, which was prepared for, and taken by him, wherein he tabernacled and appeared ? Or is it the flesh and blood of him, who took, tabernacled, and appeared in the body? For that which he took
him was our garment, even the Aesh and blood of our nature, which is of an earthly perishing nature ; but he is of an eternal nature, and his flesh, and blood, and bones are of his nature. Now as the life and nature which is begotten in his, is fpiritual; fo that which feeds, and is the nourishment of it, must needs be of a fpiritual and eternal nature. ·
Query 8. What is the bread which came down from heaven? Is not the bread and the flesh all one ? Dutwardly-visible Aesh and blood was not in heaven, nor came down from heaven; but the bread of life did come down from heaven, which the heavenly birth feeds on and lives by. For that which redeems, that which is Jesus (the Saviour) came down from heaven, and took upon him a body of flesh here on earth, in which he manifested himself as king, priest, and prophet, and did the work appointed him by the Father, John xvii. 1, &c.
Query... What was that which saved people outwardly from their outward infirmities and diseases, while Christ was on earth in that body ? Was it the body, or the life, power, and Spirit of the Father within the body, and manifeft through the body? And can any thing less fave inwardly ? Now that which faves, that which hath the virtue and power of salvation in it, that the eye of faith is to fix upon, and not to stick or stop in that through which the life works it.
Query 10. Who was he that humbled himself, that made himself of no reputation, that took upon him the form of a fervant, and was made in the likeness of men, and found in fashion (or habit) as a man? Was it the body of Aesh, or was it he that was glorified of the Father before the world was? And who is to have the honour and exaltation? At whose name is every knee