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Now, O England! confider; haft thou has the guidance of God? Hath the light which hath guided thy fteps been lighted by him, or by his and thy foul's enemy? For there is a fpirit (of a contrary nature to God) near man, which he fuddenly taketh counfel of, when his heart is not acquainted with, nor receiveth counsel of the Lord. And this counfellor is the deftroyer both of perfons and nations, leading them in ways of ruin and subverfion, under an appearance of being the proper ways of peace and fettlement.
It is true of nations, as well as perfons, that what they fow, that fhall they also reap. God measureth out their time unto them, and when that is over, his time of judging and pleading with them comes. And woe is then unto them who have acted in their own wills and wifdoms, out of the pure counsel and fear of the Lord, wherein they should have stood and been guided.
It is a day of trouble and diftrefs. The weight of the iniquity of this nation begins to be felt upon it. Oh! let every one fearch and bow before the Lord, under his righteous judgments! that there may be no going on in that which bringeth and will increase the judgment; but a turning towards that which intercedes, and opens the fprings of mercy.
Two things lie heavy on this nation; to wit, a running on in tranfgreffions of feveral kindsag ainst the Lord (forgetting his tender mercies, with the days of former distress) and an afflicting others whom he loves, and hath led, and is leading out of tranfgreffion. Oh! that these things might come to an end, that the anger of the Lord might ceafe, and the ways of his judgments and pleading with this nation be stopped; for who can stand before him when he rifeth up in controverfy against them?
There is but one eye which can rightly fee the hand and judgments of the Lord; yea, it pleaseth the Lord fo to manage them, that only the eye which is of him may fee them. Man must be taken in his wisdom, and caught in the fnare of his own understanding. He that will fee the things of God, the ways of God, the counfels of God, the love and sweetness of God (yea, the very judgments of God) muft receive from him the eye that feeth them. Oh! that men might feel after, and come into, that wherein they might be pitied, and fpared by their Maker. Man muft bow; that which is of God in man (which hath long lain under oppreffion) must be exalted. It is the day of his power, and he will reign in it. Oh! happy they that bow to his fcepter, and kifs the fhinings of his light (even the fharpeft rebukes of it in their hearts) that they may turn from, and travel out of, the darkness (where is death, destruction, and misery, even in all the counfels and ways of it), and come into unity with that which is and live.
Written in Aylesbury prifon, 27th of 6th month, 1666.
A faithful Guidance to the Principle and Path of Truth, wherein eternal Life is witneffed, by those who are born thereof, and walk therein.
HERE must be somewhat let down from God into a man's heart, to change his heart, and redeem it to God, or he cannot be faved. He must receive a feed, be born of a new and incorruptible feed, or he cannot be renewed from his corrupt nature and ftate. He must be born of water and God's Spirit, or he cannot enter into God's kingdom.
Now this is the true religion; namely, to experience and be fubject to that power which redeems to God; which breaks the power of the wickedone in the heart, first casting him out, and then taking poffeffion of the veffel, and filling it with the holy treasure.
Queft. But how may a man meet with fuch a thing as this?
Anfw. The fcripture (which gives a faithful teftimony concerning the truth) faith, Chrift, the Word of faith which the apoftles preached, is nigh. Infomuch as a man need not fay, who fhall go up or down to fetch it? But what faith it? The word is nigh thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart. This is that which reconciles to God, cutting down and flaying the enmity by the power of the crofs, and bringing up the feed. This is the adverfary in the way of the finner, which he that maketh peace with fhall be remitted all his trefpaffes paft, and find power and ftrength against fin for the time to come, as he is gathered into, and brought forth in his pure life and nature.
Queft. But how shall I know and receive this?
Anfw. That in the heart which is contrary to fin, which discovereth fin, which witneffeth against fin, and is drawing the mind from it, furnishing those with a new and holy ability, who wait upon the Lord in it; that, that is the thing, though in ever fo little a feed or low measure. Now he that minds this, hearkens to this, turns from what this (in its pure unerring light) fhews to be evil, follows (in the will, ftrength, and ability which is of this) what this fhews to be good, he receives it; and waiting upon it, and becoming daily fubject to it, fhall grow up in it, increase in the knowledge of it, and acquaintance with it, and receive of it daily more and more. And thus the man whofe way was vile, whofe heart was naught, formed in wickedness, filled with corruption, daily bringing forth fin and fruits unto death, fhall find thefe (by the pure light, and holy inftructions of life) daily purged out of him, and Chrift formed in him, and the holy fruits of righteousness brought forth through his vessel, by the power and Spirit of Chrift, to the glory of God the Father.
And then being in Chrift, being in the principle of his life, and acting therein, here is peace in the foul, reft to it from its enemies and God's judgments, and acceptance with the Father in what the foul thus is and works.
But then the world will perfecute and hate exceedingly; because this foul, who thus fubmits to God, and is thus changed by him, is not of the world, but of the Father, which begat it in Chrift, and formeth it in his image and likeness.
Likewife in this light the eyes are opened to read the fcriptures, and to understand therein the conditions of the people and faints of the Moft High in former generations, and how the wicked fpirit wrought then, to oppofe the truth and people of God, and to draw men into deceit. Yea, and many other ways the fcriptures are exceeding fweet and ufeful, being read in that which gives the true fenfe and understanding of
But let him that once putteth his hand to the plough (beginning to feel fomewhat of God, and to fubject unto it, and fo to tafte of the peace and pureness of it) never look back to the world, nor mind the temptations and oppofitions he will meet with from that nature and spirit, either in himself or others; for if he do, he will never be able to travel on, but rather confult with flesh and blood, and fo return back into Egypt, and lose the crown which is laid up for those who pafs on through the wilderness, through the trials, through the temptations, through the wants, through the various exercises to their journey's end.
This is the path of life in brief; happy is he who feels the guider into it, and faithfully follows him therein to the end.
There is another question fprings up in my heart, which is this:
Queft. How may a man come to have his fins washed away by the blood of Chrift?
Anfw. By coming into the light, and walking in the light, which difcovers the blood, and wherein alone it is fprinkled by God, and felt by the foul, he may receive the cleanfing which is by it. This is according to the testimony of scripture, as 1 John i. 7. If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another; and the blood of Jefus Chrift, his Son, cleanfeth us from all fin. By the light the darkness is difpelled, and in the light the corruption and filth is washed away by the blood, and the foul (mind and confcience) cleanfed from it.
This then is the message that we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all, ver. 5. What then? Why then they that will know God, and walk with God, must by the virtue of his truth be turned from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God (as Acts xxvi. 18.); and in that light he shall meet with the Father, and with his Son Jefus Chrift, and have fellowship with them, ver. 3. and shall be washed (both with the water and with the blood) and kept clean and pure thereby in the fight of God.
Queft. But how shall I come into the light, and how may I walk therein ?
Anfw. Chrift is the light. (He is the light of the world, the light of men, the light of life.) And thou needft not say in thine heart, Whofhall go up to heaven, or down into the deep, for him? For he is near, in thy mouth, and in thy heart. This is the word of faith, which thou art to believe in, love, and obey; that in the love, faith, and obedience thereof, thine heart may be circumcifed, and thou mayeft live. This is the gospel of our falvation, even this Christ, this word, this light, this life, which redeems from fin, which destroyeth the deftroyer, and fetteth the foul free to ferve and live to the Lord. This was the meffage the apostles had to deliver in their day, as Rom. x. 8. And this was Mofes's meffage too, when he fpake concerning the new covenant. For Mofes did not only deliver the old covenant, but he alfo fpake concerning the new, even another covenant than that of Mount Horeb, Deut. xxix. 1. And the word of this other covenant was not the law written in tables of stone; but the word nigh in the mouth and heart, chap. xxx. 14.
Object. But that place fpeaks of doing (which is the voice of the old covenant, do this and live); but the new covenant ftands in believing.
Anfw. The end of faith is obedience. Why do I believe Chrift, but that I may receive the law of his Spirit, and walk before him in the newness of the obedience thereof? And he that obeys is of the faith, and in the truth; and he that obeys not, is out of it; is not in the power, not in the life, which brings forth the obedience; fo out of the thing which redeems, and in which the redemption is witneffed: but he that obeys, he that doth the will, he is in the righteousness, in the power, in the life, from which the obedience springs.
And here the washing and purifying of the foul is truly known and witneffed. Outward facrifices under the law were vain, as to cleansing the foul; and an outward belief of what Chrift did and fuffered, effects not the thing now. What then? The new creature doth; the pure faith doth; the pure obedience doth. It did it formerly, it doth it ftill, and nothing elfe can do it. Bring no more vain oblations; but wash ye, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; ceafe to do evil, learn to do well, &c. But how fhould this be? Could they ever attain this by the old covenant? Nay; but Mofes had not only delivered them the old covenant, but also had directed them to the new, to the Word of faith, to the Word of life and power in the heart and mouth, through the obedience whereof they might wash themfelves (as Peter, even in the gospel times, Speaketh, 1 Pet. xxii.), put away the evil of their doings; ceafe to do evil, learn to do well, &c. And what then? Why then they should receive the cleansing through the blood of the Lamb; for then, though their fins were as fcarlet, they fhould be as white as fnow; though they were red like crimfon, they fhould be as wool, Ifai. i. 16, 17, 18.
So Micah tells them (when they asked how they might come before God to please him?) He hath fhewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God, Mic. vi. 8. Where or how doth God fhew this to man? Had not Mofes told that before; to wit, by the Word nigh in the mouth and heart? There is fomewhat near man, even in his mouth, which divides his words one from another, fhewing him (at fome times, and would do it oftener if he heeded it) which are bad words, and which are good words. What is that that doth this? The fame thing alfo is in his heart, as a difcerner of the thoughts and intents thereof, fhewing him when there is a good thought, defire, or intention in his mind, and when there is a bad or wicked one. What is this? Oh! that men knew what it is! Oh! that they could fear the Lord, and become subject to it, and they should know what it is!
Every man that will be fanctified, and inherit God's kingdom, must be born of the will of God. He must deny his own will (as Chrift did; not my will, faid he, Father, but thine be done) that must be crucified. He muft fuffer in the flesh, die to the flesh, and live in and to the holy nature and Spirit of God.
Now thus a man comes to be born of the pure will; to wit, by hearing the word nigh in the mouth and heart, and becoming fubject to it. This cuts down his own will day by day, and brings up the will and nature of God in him, through which he is changed and fanctified, and becomes a new creature. For the old creature is made up of the old understanding and will; but the new creature is made up of the new.
Wherewithal fhall a young man cleanfe his way? By taking beed according to thy word, faith David. What word was that? Was it the word of the old covenant, or the word nigh in the mouth and heart? And thy word, faith he, is a lantborn to my feet, and a light to my path. What word was that, the word of the first covenant, or the word of the fecond? The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the foul. What law is that? The teftimony of the Lord is fure, making wife the fimple. What teftimony is that? The ftatutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart. What ftatutes are they? (Were not the ftatutes of the old covenant heavy and burdenfome?) The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. What commandment is that? Yea, what is that which is fweeter than the honey, and the honey-comb, which overcomes with sweetness? Oh! that men could read! Oh! that men could fee the thing which is pure, and maketh pure; which is righteous, and maketh righteous. After men have seen the thing, there is a great way to travel to it; but how far are they off, who do not so much as fee it, but are in the darkness and prejudices of that nature and fpirit which is contrary to it.
Now if the Lord, in his tender mercy and love to thy foul, bring thee to a sense of this thing, and thou beginneft to feel this precious fearch