Page images
PDF
EPUB

his own Spirit (in any of the children of men), but only in the fruits of the flesh. And if, for want of watchfulness, the enemy should prevail, and draw into a snare; yet upon turning to the light of God's Holy Spirit, which discovers and reproves for it, in the holy light the water flows, the blood is sprinkled, the conscience is cleansed, and so becomes clean even in God's light. Oh! blessed is he who is not deceived with dead notions of justification, but feels the justification which comes from God, and is accompanied with a living sense, and with the testimony of his Holy Spirit.

XXVI. Concerning good Works. Quest. What are good works?

Answ. The works that flow from God's good Spirit, the works that are wrought in God, they are good works. The works of the new-birth, of the new creature, are good works; whereas all the works of the flesh are bad, though never so finely painted. All its thoughts, imaginations, reafonings, willings, runnings, hunting to find out God and heavenly things, with all its facrifices, are corrupt and evil, having of the bad leaven, of the bad nature in them. Make the tree good, or its fruit can never be good; so that they are only the good works that low from the good tree, from the good root. And here all the works of the flesh, though never so glorious and taking in man's eye, are shut out by God's measure, by God's line and plummet of righteousness and true judgment; and every work of God's Spirit, the meanest work of faith, the least labour of true love, the least shining of life in the heart, and the giving up thereto, is owned by God as coming from him, and wrought in him, who worketh both to will and to do, of his own good pleasure. He that is gathered to the light which God hath enlightened him with, hath received the light, dwelleth in the light, and walketh in the light; the Spirit of the living God is near him, and dwelleth with him, and worketh in him; and he bringeth his deeds to the light, where it is manifest that they are wrought in God. But he that is out of the inward light of God's Holy Spirit, his works are not wrought in God, and so can but make a fair fhew in the flesh (to the fleshly eye) but are not good in God's sight. The erring man's way and works are often right in his own eyes; ah! but blessed is he whole way and works are good and right in the eye of the Lord, in the judgment of his fearching unerring light and Spirit.

XXVII. Concerning Love. Queft. Which is the true love?

Answ. The love which ariseth from the nature which God begets, and from his circumcising the heart from the other nature. Love is the beautiful thing. What can be higher expressed concerning God himself, than

to

to say he is love? Love is greatly commended and admired, and there are many pretenders to it; but none have the true love, but only those that are born of God, and circumcised by him. The Lord thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the beart of thy feed, to love the Lord thy God with all thine beart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live, Deut. xxx. 6. Mark: the true love ariseth from the true circumcision; and the more a man comes to have his heart circumcised from the fleshly nature, and to grow up in the pure and heavenly nature, the more he loves. God is love; and the nigher any one comes to him, and the more he partakes of him, the more he becomes love in the Lord, and the more he is taught of God to love the Lord his God, and his brethren in the Spirit, and all mankind who are of his blood (for of one blood God made all mankind) according to the Aesh, or according to a natural consideration.

ture.

XXVIII. Concerning Meekness and Patience. Quest. What is the true meekness and patience ? Answ. The meekness and patience which ariseth from the Lamb's na

Deceit will put on an appearance of love, and deceit will put on also an appearance of meekness and patience; but it cannot put on the true love, the true meekness and patience: that is only learned of the Lamb, and received of him by receiving of his Spirit and nature from him. And oh! how precious is this ! how sweet is it felt in the heart! To feel a meek, a quiet, a patient spirit in the midst of all trials, all troubles, all fears, all doubts, all temptations of every kind. Indeed this is of much price in the fight of the Lord, and also in the eye of him who hath received it from the Lord, and enjoyeth it in him, and possesseth his soul in him.

XXIX. Concerning the Knowledge of the new Covenant. Quest. What is the knowledge of the new covenant ?

Answ. The knowledge which is given by God to the new-birth : for to it the new covenant belongs, and the knowledge thereof. The truly begotten of God, the true disciples of Christ, to them it is given to know the kingdom of God; but to others it is not given. The Jew outward, the first birth, the birth after the flesh, for them the priest's lips were to preserve knowledge, and they were to seek the law at his mouth; and to them God sent prophets to speak to them, and taught them by his prophets : but concerning the inward Jews, the children of the new covenant, the children of the Jerusalem which is above, concerning her seed it was prophesied, that they all should be taught of the Lord; they all should hear and know the voice of the Shepherd himself; they should all be gathered to the shepherd and bishop of the soul, and taught by him. So that in this new, holy, living covenant, God himself is the shepherd, God himself is the teacher, not only of the greatest, but of the very least, Heb. viii, For he teacheth them all to know the Lord, and to know his Son, and to come to his Son, and to love him their Father, and one another. So that he that is taught of God, he bath the true knowledge, the living knowledge, the fubftantial knowledge, the knowledge of the thing itself

, of the life eternal itself. All that are not thus taught (but learn only from a literal description and relations of things) have not the knowledge of the new covenant, the knowledge of the thing itself; but only an outward knowledge, such as the first birth may catch at, lay hold on, and comprehend.

XXX. Concerning the Fear of the New Covenant. Quest. What is the fear of the new covenant ?

Answ. It is the fear which God puts in the hearts of his children ; which fear cleanseth their hearts, and keepeth them from departing from their God. There is a great deal of difference between the fear which may be learned from precepts from without, and the fear which God puts in the hearts of his children from a root of life within ; which fear is of an heavenly nature, and is the free gift of God to his own heavenly birth, and none else; which no man can possibly attain by any thoughts or reasonings of his own, but only by the springings of life from God. And he that would have this fear, must know the place of wisdom, and wait there for it; and when he hath it, this fear will soon begin to make him wise cowards salvation, and teach him to depart from evil, which is the cause of destruction, Job xxviü. 28.

XXXI. Concerning Hope. Quest. Wbat is the true Hope?

Answ. The stay of the mind upon the Lord, the stay of the heavenly birth upon its father : for we must distinguish between hope and hope

. There is the hope of the hypocrite, or false birth, which shall perish; and the hope of the true birth, which will never fail it, nor make it alhamed; because that birth is taught of God to hope aright. Now in hope, there is both the ground of it, and the hope itself

. The ground of the hope is God's love, God's truth, God's faithfulness, God's grace, his seed, his Christ felt within ; being of him, united to him, in him, he in me: here is the ground of my assurance of the everlasting glory and inheritance, which is sure to the seed, and to all that are of and in the feed. So knowing Christ within me, feeling Christ within me, living in him, and he in me, I have an anchor sure and stedfast within the veil, which no storms, no tempests, no trials, no temptations, present or to come, have power over me. And then there is the hope, or hoping itself; that is, the staying of the mind upon the Lord, the leaning upon the Lord, the retiring beyond all thoughts, or reasonings, or lookings, out, to the inward life; to feel fomewhat spring from it, for the soul to hope or trust in, beyond all outward appearance. And this hope never deceives nor makes ashamed those who are taught of God thus to stay their minds upon him. Nay, though the state be darkness, and no light seen; yet beneath the darkness there is somewhat to stay the mind of the child and servant of the Lord till he appear, and cause light to break out of obscurity; for light is sown for the righteous, and joy for the upright, even in their darkest, faddest, and most distressed conditions ; in all which the Lord is near them, and there is still ground for them to hope in him,

upon

XXXII. Concerning Peace. Quest. Which is the true peace?

Answ. The peace which God speaks to the soul ; the peace which Christ gives to his own disciples. The way of truth, the way of life leads to peace; and the peace which is found therein is of God's giving, and is the true peace. First, God breathes/ upon the heart, begets a right birth, a true child; then he leads him into the holy way, the righteous way; from that which loads and burdens, to that wherein is the ease and rest. Thus in the believing and following him there is joy and peace. This is experienced by all the true travellers, and by none else. No man, with all his wisdom, knowledge, and understanding, can so much as guess at what this peace is. The peace of God, the peace which he speaks to his children, the nature of it, the sweetness of it, the heavenliness of it, passeth man's understanding; but he who is born from above, who hath a new and heavenly understanding, he knoweth the nature, excellency, and preciousness of it; and would not for all this world, for any fear, or danger, or expectation of any thing from without, hazard the breaking off this precious peace and rest of his soul in his God.

XXXIII. Concerning Joy. Queft. Which is the true joy?

Answ. The joy which Aows from God's presence, and the work of his power in the heart, and the assured expectation which he gives of the full inheritance and glory of life everlasting. When the bridegroom is present, when the soul is gathered home to him, married to him, in union with him, in the holy living fellowship; when he appears against the enemies of the soul, rising up against them, breaking, scattering them, and giving of his good things, filling with life, filling with love, filling with virtue, feafting the soul in the presence of the Father ; oh! what sweet joy! oh! what fullness of joy is there then in the heart! In thy presence is fullness of

joy,

joy, and at thy right-hand are pleasures for evermore, said the psalmist, Pf. xvi. 11. Surely he had had a taste of the thing, he had been in God's presence, and that made him cry out, Caft me not away from thy presence, Pfal. li. II.; and he had drank of the river of God's pleasure, which is at his righthand, which made him speak so sensibly of it, Psal. xxxvi. 8. and xlvi. 4. Christ said to his disciples, that because of his going away they should have sorrow; but he would see them again, and their heart should rejoice, and their joy no man should take from them, John xvi. 22. How or when was this fulfilled ? What were they forry for ? Was it not the loss of his outward, presence, which had been so sweet and comfortable to them? How would he come to them again? Was it not by the Comforter ? Was it not by his inward and spiritual presence ? So that he that was with them should be in them? Before they knew Christ with them ; now they should know Christ in them; the Father in them, and they in him; Immanuel, the gospel state, God with us, dwelling with us, tabernacling in us, living in us, walking in us, and we living and walking in him. When the apostles came to this state, then they came to witness the joy in the Holy Ghost, even the joy unspeakable, and full of glory. And hence it is that the gospel state is a state of joy and rejoicing in the Lord, even in his glorious living presence, and in the glory of his power

. For in the golpel state the true light shines inwardly in the heart, the life is manifested; and being manifested, they that come into the manifestation of it, come into the holy union, and into the holy fellowship with the Father and Son, where the joy is, and where the joy is full; where the power is revealed which does away that which is contrary to the holy fellowihip, and hinders the holy joy and rejoicing in the Lord. See 1 John i. 3, 4.

XXXIV. Concerning Poverty of Spirit and Humility. Quest

. Which is the right poverty of spirit, and the true humility ? Answ. That poverty and humility of spirit which springeth from the same root from which the faith, the love, the peace, the joy, and the other heavenly things arise; and is of the same nature. There is a voluntary humility, and a voluntary poverty, even of spirit, which man caits himself into, and forms in himself

, by his own workings and reasonings. This is not the true, but the false image, or counterfeit of the true ; but then there is a poverty which ariseth from God's emptying the creature, from God's stripping the creature; and an humility which ariseth from a new heart and nature. This of the right kind, and is lasting, and abides in the midst of the riches and glory of the kingdom. For as Christ was poor in spirit before his Father, and lowly in heart in the midst of all the fullness which he received from him; so it is with those who are of the same birth and nature with Christ. They are filled with humility, and cloat hed with humility, in the midit of all the graces and heavenly riches which God

« PreviousContinue »