« PreviousContinue »
able to do of myself, still justify and accept what his Spirit and holy power hath done in me. They are not of the same nature in themselves; nor are they fo accounted of in the eye of the Lord. For the Lord diftinguisheth between root and root: and what springeth from the holy roct, he juftifieth as holy; and what ariseth from the unholy root, he condemneth as unholy.
Seventhly, That by the law of faith all boasting is excluded, in the whole work both of justification and fanctification. What is the law of faith? Is not this its law, to fetch all from the Son, to do all in the Son ? to quit self, and its own ability, and to perform all in the newness of the Spirit, in the ability which is of God, given and continued, in and through his grace and mercy, to the soul in the Lord Jesus Christ; all the veins of life, all the streams of the new covenant run here. Here is no boasting of the creature ; here can be no boasting: for all its ability and strength is lhuc out; and that which is given of God to it, is all and doch all. Yet every Jew here hath praise of God. His faith is commended, his love is commended, his faithfulness is commended, his zeal for the Lord, his obedience to the Lord, his patience in suffering, is commended, &c. But the praise and honour of all redounds not to his flesh, but to the Spirit and grace
of God in him. So that here flesh is laid low, and kept in the dust for ever, and God alone exalted in this day of his pure power in the heart. He that truly believeth, entereth into rest. How into rest ? From what doth he rest? Why, from his own works, from the works of the Aesh; yea, from the works of the old covenant; from the works that arise from his own ability, from the works wherein he can never be justified with the gospel-justification. But doth he cease from the works of faith? Doch he cease from the labour of love ? Doth he cease from obedience to any thing that God requires ? Nay: then surely he rather beginneth to work and labour in the vineyard ; and his labour is not in vain in the Lord.
VII. Concerning Faith. Several things I have experienced, both concerning the nature, virtue, and operations of it; some whereof (as I feel them spring up livingly in my heart) I may mention at this time.
First, This I have often experienced; that it is an hard thing truly and rightly to believe. It is an easy matter to believe notions concerning God, and concerning Christ: but to believe in God, to believe in Christ, to believe in him that raised up Jesus, to believe in the light, life, and power, which flows from Jesus; this indeed is hard, by reason of the great darkness and ignorance which man is fallen into through transgression.
Secondly, I have experienced this also; that faith is God's gift, and that it Aows from the power of his life. There is first a quickening, first a touching of the heart, by the holy pure power of the Lord; and when a
man is touched and quickened, then in and by and through that virtue which flows into him, he can believe in that which toucheth and quickeneth him.
Thirdly, That Faith never stands in a man's own power, but always in the virtue and power of the life of the Son. So that he that will believe aright, must wait to feel the life of the Son revealed in him, and faith flowing therefrom. For the true belief springs from the life of the holy root ; and from the flowing up and springing up of that life, faith receives its nourishment and daily virtue.
Fourthly, I have observed this in my travels; that the earthly wisdom, and notions therefrom got into the mind, and held in the mind out of the sense of life, are a great lett to faith. For these strengthen and nourish that in man, which is to be weakened and die ; that life, and the birth of life, may be all in the heart. Man is to die; man is to be ceased from ; his understanding, his wisdom, is to be brought to nought. But after it hath had a stroke and wound from God's Holy Spirit and power (even the very wound which tends to death) yet it wil be getting life again (getting its deadly wound healed) and nourishing its life by those very notions, which came from that life and power, which in measure flew it. And thus the Jew outward hath his life in the outwardness of knowledge, in the outwardness of the law, in the letter which killeth: for the relation and outward knowledge of things killeth and deadeneth more and more, unless man come into the inward life and virtue, and daily feel them quickened there. If ye live in the Spirit, walk in the Spirit, faid the apostle. A man cannot live in an outwardness of knowledge concerning the Spirit and power of the endless life; but he that would truly live, muft live in the Spirit itself; and he that would rightly walk on in his way, must walk in that Spirit wherein he received life, and wherein he that abideth lives before the Lord.
Fifthly, This I have also observed; that all notional faith, wherein is not the living virtue (as concerning Christ, his sufferings, death, resurrection, ascension, intercession; and concerning justification by him, &c.), the enemy will let the soul alone with, and let him enjoy peace in; but his war is defperately against the true faith, against faith in the true power, against faith in the light of life. Oh! how many fore and sharp affaults doth he make against the faith which receives its virtue from God, and causeth the soul to live to God! And how sore is it with the soul, when faith is weak, and the enemy comes on against it with the strength of his assaults and temptations. Lord increase our faith, faid the sensible disciples.
Sixthly, It is a precious thing to feel faith quickened by God, and helped by God, against the enemy. For then the enemy cannot prevail against the foul; but the soul, through the virtue and power of life, prevails over the enemy in the faith. And this is the great work of a Christian, not only to wrestle and fight, but to learn so to wrestle, and so to fight, as to overcome.
Seventhly, That in the pure fear (not that which is taught by the precepts of men, but which God puts into the heart) faith lath its strength, and exerciseth its strength! Oh! who knows the preciousness of this fear! The power of faith, the power of life, the power of salvation, and everlasting preservation is revealed in it. Therefore, faith the Lord, when he speaketh of providing for his children in the new covenant, that they shall abide with him for ever, and not depart any more from him, as the children of the old covenant did; I will put my fear in their bearts, and they Mall not depart from me. And when the angel preached the everlasting gospel, how did he preach it? Fear God, and give glory to bim, for the bour of bis judgments is come, &c. Rev. xiv. When the pure fear is felt, when that which is contrary to God is judged; then the gospel is known, and the work thereof experienced in the heart. And how easy is it, when the pure fear is felt, to distrust and deny one's self, and trust in the Lord! Oh! how weak are the reasonings and imaginations then, and how strong is the power which scatters them, and lifts up the head over them!
Now it concerns every one deeply to consider, of what nature his faith is, and what virtue is in it, and what it can do in and through the power the Lord for him ; how it fetcheth in the true living nourishment every day, how it delivers the soul, and gives it victory over that which faith was appointed to deliver from. For he who through the faith overcometh that which is contrary to God, shall inherit; and he that fights the good fight of faith, shall overcome : but he that overcomes not his enemies, which stand in his way, shall be sure to be hindered by them from attaining to his journey's end.
VIII. Concerning Obedience, fome Experiences also. First, True obedience, gospel-obedience, Aows from life, fows from the living faith. If I could obey in all things that God requires of me, yet that would not satisfy me, unless I felt my obedience flow from the birth of his life in me. My Father doth all in me, faith Christ. This was Christ's comfort. And to feel Christ do all in the soul, is the comfort of every that truly believes in him.
Secondly, True obedience, gospel obedience, is natural to the birth which is born of God. It is unnatural to the flesh, to man's wisdom, to deny himself, and take up the cross; but it is natural to the birth which is born of God's Spirit
. That which is born of the Spirit, is Spirit; and it is natural to it to be conversant in, and exercised about, that which is spiritual.
Thirdly, That honouring and pleasing, and answering the will of the Lord, is the proper aim of the truly obedient. Oh! how do they delight to do the will of God! I have meat, faith Christ, that \ye know not of. To do the will was his meat and drink: and it is meat and drink to all that are
of his nature and Spirit. If I should never have any other reward, but the pleasure of obedience; yet I could not but say and testify, that in answering the law of the pure life, in keeping the holy statutes and commandments of God's Spirit, there is great reward. But yet there is a crown alfo, and a reaping after this life of every thing that is sown to the Spirit: and the crown is weighty and everlastingly glorious.
Fourthly, Gospel obedience is exceeding necessary in and to the gospelstate. Mark! The Lamb is the leader : and can any be saved by him, but they that follow him ? When Christ calls out of the world, must not the soul come to him, who is the Shepherd ? And must not the sheep daily learn to know his voice, and follow him; even till they come to be acquainted with every moving, drawing, and leading of his Spirit ; and so come to follow the Lamb whithersoever he goes? Mark! what a weight Christ layeth upon doing. If ye know these things, bappy are ye if ye do them. Why then the disciple cannot come to happiness, but in the doing, in the obeying of the will of Christ, his Lord and Master. And be that beareth these sayings of mine, and doth them, I will liken him to a wise man, that built bis bouse upon a rock. But the believer, without doing the will, is the foolish builder, whose building will not stand. Again faith Christ, As the Father bath loved me, so have I loved you ; continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye Mall abide in my love ; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love. The disciples whom he most dearly loved, must keep his commandments, if they will continue in his love. And his apostles taught the fame, even the working out of the salvation, and the purifying of the heart, through the obedience of the truth. For mark! There is a covenant of life, a way of life: and how can life be reaped, how can the work of life go on, but in subjection and obedience thereto?
Oh! blessed is he, who meets with the power of life, which enables to obey; and who is obedient and subject to that power. For he that truly believes in Christ, is turned by him to his light, and to the power of his Father; and the peace, growth, joy, blessedness, &c. is witnessed in subjection thereto.
IX. Concerning the Cross of Christ. This I have experienced concerning the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ ; that it is an inward and spiritual thing, producing inward and spiritual effects in the mind; and that this is it, even that which says the enmity in the mind, and crucifies to the world, and the affections thereof. God forbid, said the apostle, that I should glory, Save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, whereby the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. Now mark; That which is contrary to the world, and crucifies to the world, that is the cross. The cross hath this power, and nothing else; and so there is Vol. II.
nothing else to glory in. The flesh lufteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary one to the other. Mind, here is the cross: the Spirit which is contrary to the flesh, which mortifies the flesh, thro' the obedience whereof the flesh is crucified. If ye, through the Spirit, mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. Whatsoever is of and in the Spirit, is contrary to the Aesh. The light of the Spirit is contrary to the darkness of the flesh. The holiness of the Spirit is contrary to the unholiness of the corrupt heart. The life of the Spirit is contrary to the life (or rather death) that is in sin. The power of the Spirit is contrary to the power that is in Satan, and his kingdom. The wisdom of God is contrary, and a foolish thing, to the wisdom of man. Yea, the new creature, which springs from God's Holy Spirit, is contrary and death to the old. Now he that comes hicher, out of his own wisdom, out of his own will, out of his own thoughts, out of his own reasonings ; and comes to a discerning of God's Spirit, and to the feeling of his begetting of life in his heart, and his stirrings and movings in the life which he hath begotten; and waits here, and receives counsel here ; he is taught to deny himself, and to join to and take up that, by which Christ daily crosseth and subdueth in him that which is contrary to God.
And here is the fight of faith, and the good travel under the cross, whereby the holy journey is gone, and the enemies (which rise up to oppose in the way) vanquished and overcome. For here is the power revealed; the preserving power, the leading power, the conquering power of him, who rideth on conquering and to conquer his spiritual enemies in the hearts of his children, who know his voice, and are subject to him ; who daily denying themselves, and taking up his cross, follow him. Woe is to them that are at ease in Sion, under any thing that is contrary to God; but blefsings are upon them whose dwelling is under the cross, and who know no ease but what it allows. It will make truth, life, holiness, righteousness, faith, obedience, meekness, patience, love, separation from sin, communion with the Lord, and all the fruits of the Spirit, as natural to them in the renewed state, as ever sin was in the corrupt state. And in that state they shall be able to say with Paul; who once complained of his captivity, and that he did what he hated; yet after he had known the power of the cross, and was crucified with Christ, he could then do nothing against the truth, but for the truth; yea, then being a conqueror, having overcome the enemies which stood in his way, he could do all things through Christ that strengthened him. The cause of so many complaints and bowings down of the head, and going mourning because of the prevailings of the enemy, through temptations, sin, and corruption, is because the cross of Christ, which is the power of God (which is his ordinance against the strength of the enemy) is either not known, or not taken up. And this is the reason that many that make a fair shew for a while, yet afterwards come to nothing (but are like untimely figs, or like corn upon the house-tops, which