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yea, his tenderness is beyond imagination or comprehenfion, and he hates putting away. The poor mourning fouls that cry unto him, feeling their need of him, and galping after him, he cannot caft off; no, nor any that come unto him in the truth of their hearts: but the wife, the confident, the conceited, from their apprehenfions of fcriptures, that think themselves fafe by virtue of the covenant, and yet are enemies in their minds to the light of the covenant, these are out of the thing at present (in their own imaginings and conceivings), and are in the most danger of any I know. The Lord in mercy cause his light to fhine, his life to arife, his power to be manifeft, and thereby lead into, and preferve in, his everlasting covenant, according to his good pleasure. Amen.
A QUESTION OF Two, relating to ELECTION, anfwered.
H OW may a man make his calling and election fure?
Quest. 1. Anfwer, By making Chrift fure to him, in whom the calling and election is; for the Lord chufeth only in him, and refuseth or reprobateth only out of him.
Queft. 2. How may I make Chrift fure to me?
Anfw. By receiving him, giving up to him, parting with all for him, and waiting upon him in the way and path of life, till I feel the power of that broken in me which would feparate from him. For what danger is there then, when the foul is naturally become the Lord's, rooted in his love, circumcifed in heart to love the Lord above all, even with the whole heart and foul? Certainly the love of the Lord cannot but flow in great ftrength to that foul, and what can come between? But now, while there is somewhat ungiven up, fomewhat yet ftanding, in which the enemy hath a part, and by which he may enter, the ftate of that foul is not fully fure; but there may be a going back from the faving life into that wherein is the perdition and deftruction of the foul; and whoever goes thither, meets with perdition and deftruction, fo far as he travels that way. For in the path of death there is death, which is met with by all that enter into, and walk therein; as in the path of life there is life. God is no refpecter of perfons; but he is a refpecter of his feed, and of his eternal covenant of life, which ftands firm in his feed for ever. Here is life for every foul that feels the drawings of the Father, and comes to his Son for life, and abides in him; and there is death for every foul that comes not to this, and departs from this through the heart of unbelief. So the way of God is eternal and immutable; he cannot deny himself. He that believeth in the Son, hath life; he that believeth not, is in the death and condemnation which belongs to the unbelief. Now wouldst thou know thy election, wait to know
and diftinguish between Jacob and Efau, Ifaac and Ishmael, in thyself; for they were outward figures, and allegories of fomewhat inward. Feel Efau, the profane-one; Ifhmael, the fcoffer at the wisdom, way, and feed of God: féel, I fay, thefe (that are caft off by God) caft out of thee; and then feel Ifaac, the feed of the promife; Jacob, the plain birth of life, raised up in thee, living in thee, and thou in it. And then thou feeleft the election, and art in the election. And as his feed is fure to thee, and thy union with it, and standing and abiding in it fure, fo thy election is fure. Election is a deep mystery, and none can read the fcriptures about it (which indeed are hard to be understood, but easy to be wrefted) but they that underftand the thing; that can read in the feed, life, power, and openings of the Spirit of the Lord, they read things as they are; but other men only read things as they apprehend and conceive them to be. So that the knowledge that God hath given his people is above all the knowledge that can be fearched out, gathered, or comprehended by all the men upon the earth; whereby they know God better, the things of God better, the words and fcriptures of truth better, than they themselves otherwife (or any elfe) could poffibly attain to.
A QUESTION anfwered concerning the Ground of Mens mifunderstanding and wrefting of Scriptures.
WHAT is the ground of mens misunderstanding and corefting of
Anfw. 1. Want of acquaintance with God's Spirit, and the right way of waiting upon him to receive the understanding of them. For though men may go thus far, as to know and confefs that the Spirit of the Lord is the only revealer of the things of God, and the alone right interpreter of his own words; yet that man, who thus confeffeth, may not certainly and diftinctly know the Spirit of the Lord, and when he receiveth the interpreration of a fcripture from him, or when from his understanding, or a fpirit that is contrary to him. For there is another spirit near man, whofe nature, work, and delight is to caufe man to misunderstand, and mif-walk by the very fcriptures; and will bring things as warmly, and (as it were) clearly to him, as he can from fcriptures, purpofely to deceive and miflead him. Now he that hugs and receives every thing that thus rifeth in him, eafily runs into, and is furely caught in the fnare of the enemy. Therefore a man must watch, and wait, and fear, and pray that he may diftinguish between the nature and voices of fpirits in himself, that fo he may know (in the light of the Lord) when the Lord fpeaks, and also when the mysterious fpirit of deceit strives to speak like the Lord. Now man
cannot know this of himself; but as he is taught by the Lord, at the very time when the fnare comes: and he must not determine haftily; but wait to feel that wherein the Lord appears and speaks to him, and wherein the enemy cannot speak. Thus feeling the birth of life in his heart, the feed which is of the Father, which hath an ear that knows the voice of the Shepherd, and finking into this, and listening in this (out of his own thoughts, reasonings, and whole course of his own wisdom), he also hath his ear opened to hear the true voice, and findeth ability here to diftinguish it from the voice of the ftranger, let him counterfeit ever fo deceitfully. For the eye of the Lord, the eye of truth, the eye of life, the eye of the Spirit, pierceeth through, and difcovereth all deceits to the foul that feareth before him, diligently waiteth upon him in his feed, and defireth to walk faithfully therein.
2. Want of acquaintance with God's truth in the love, life, and power of it. For he that knows truth, that hath received from God the thing the fcriptures speak of, how eafy is it to him to understand the words that speak of that thing? But he who hath the knowledge of the thing but from the words, how eafy is it for him to misunderstand the words? As for inftance: he whom God hath juftified, he who hath received the righteoufnefs of the Son, he who daily feeleth the blood of fprinkling, &c. how eafy and natural is it unto him to understand the words of fcripture, which fpeak of these things? But he that hath not received this, nor thus knoweth the thing, how eafy is it for him to mifunderstand the words; and fo, from misunderstanding of the words, to fet up another righteoufnefs for the righteoufnefs of Chrift, than that which the Spirit of God intendeth in the fcriptures?
3. The opinions, apprehenfions, ways, and practices of men, which they have taken up in the dark, and in which their minds are engaged, are a great lett in their way from the right understanding of fcriptures, or the teftimony of truth from others according to the fcriptures. For there hath been a cloudy and dark day, or a great night of darkness upon the earth, wherein the light (which leadeth to the foul's reft) hath not shined clearly in mens fpirits; and fo in this cloudy darkness men have wandered from mountain to hill, feeking their refting-place. Now fome have fixed and pitched on one mountain, fome on another; fome on one hill, fome on another, faying, here is the refting-place. So when the Spirit of the Lord comes and cries, Depart ye, depart ye; this is not your refting-place, for it is polluted; they cannot hear. Why fo? Becute they have already believed otherwise, and in that belief took it up for their reft; and fo cannot rightly understand or believe thofe fcriptures, or thofe living teftimonies from the Spirit of the Lord, which declare it not to be fo; but are ready to wreft the one, and reproach the other.
Some QUESTIONS, ANSWERS, and QUERIES, concerning DECEIT and DECEIVERS; as what they are, what discovers them, how Man may come out of them, and be preserved from them, &c.
N the truth there is no deceit; and they that are in the truth, are out of the deceit, and abiding there, are out of the reach of deceivers: but they that are out of the truth, are in the deceit already, and are liable daily more and more both to be further deceived, and to help to deceive others.
Queft. 1. What is deceit, and who are deceivers ?
Anfw. That which appeareth like truth, but is not; that is deceit: and they which are in a form of godlinefs, but are without the Spirit, life, and power of it, they are deceivers.
Quest. 2. Who are most liable to deceit?
Anfw. The fimple, the heedlefs, the careless, the credulous; those that wait not upon the Lord in the light, power, and demonftration of his Spirit, to try things; thefe (with good words and fair speeches, and appearances of things) are easily led afide from the truth itself into fome likeness or re
femblance of it.
Queft. 3. Which is the time of deceit ?
Anfw. The night; the cloudy, the dark time, when the enemy hath raised his fogs and mifts in the minds of men, then is his time of deceiving, their hearts.
Queft. 4. Is it now night or day?
Anfw. It is night with fome, day with others. Where the light is arifen, there it is day; where the darkness covereth and poffeffeth the minds of men, there it is night.
Queft. 5. How may a man know whether it be night or day with him? Anfw. By waiting to feel fomewhat of the life of God arifing in him, by turning and hearkening to his witness. That will faithfully discover how it is with him, and where he is.
Queft. 6. How may a man come out of the darkness of the night into the light and brightness of the day?
Anfw. By joining to the firft glimmerings and breakings forth thereof upon him. The least light of truth hath the fame nature, virtue, and properties with the greateft. Though not the fame in degree, yet the fame in kind; and he that will come to the greatest, muft begin with the least. Light makes manifeft; the day discovers both the things of the night and
of the day. Haft thou any discovery of either kind? Either of that which is good, or of that which is evil? Either of that which is of the worldly nature and the evil one, or of that which is of the heavenly nature and the Holy One? Join in immediately in the virtue, ftrength, and power of that which makes the discovery, and thy fpirit therein will find an entrance into the light of the day; and going on faithfully thus, it will daily more and more break in upon thee, even until it hath gathered thy fpirit out of the blackness, darkness, and deceit of the night, into the beauty, brightness, and truth of the day.
Queft. 7. How may a man be preserved from deceit and deceivers ?
Anfw. By abiding in that which discovers them to him, and preferveth out of them; by dwelling in that light, in that life, in that power, in that truth, into which they cannot enter: by keeping to, and in, the elect of God, which never was deceived, nor can be deceived: for it is of God, it is his feed, of his nature, in which the wicked one (the deceiver) finds nothing, hath nothing in him to enter at; and he that abides in him, is fafe in him. But he that goes forth out of the life, out of the light, out of the feed, out of the power which preferves, out of the holy anointing, which keeps the eye open, he easily runs into, and is entangled in the deceivableness of unrighteoufnefs, judging it (for want of a true difcerning) righteousness; and then having judged that to be righteousness which is in its own nature but unrighteoufnefs, he must needs alfo judge that which is the true righteousness to be but unrighteoufnefs; and then (having paffed this judgment in himfelf) he grows wife, confident, and ftrong in his deceit, both believing himself, and alfo endeavouring to convince and perfuade others, that it is the truth. Oh! who knoweth the fecurity of the little-ones of God, who have a being and standing in his truth! The arm of his power is stretched round about them, and he is a defence and ftrength unto them against all that would break in upon them (to make a prey of their life, or to fhake their standing in his truth), either inwardly or outwardly. Oh! bless his name, fing high praises to him, ye that feel it, over all deceit or deceivables, over all the devices of the dark spirit, which entangleth others, and would also entangle you, but that his goodnefs, mercy, tender love, and powerful arm is ftretched out over you. So to him be the praife, and the bowings of that foul, which feels his powerful and merciful preservation, for ever and ever.
Now it is in my heart to add four queries, which, rightly weighed and refolved, in and according to truth, may further open mens minds into the true fenfe and right understanding of this thing.
Query 1. Have not the last days, the perilous times (the times foretold of by Chrift and his apoftles) been a long while upon the earth, wherein iniquity bath abounded, and the love of many waxed cold, wherein men have been lovers of themfelves, covetous, boafters, proud, &c.? Hath there not been a long night of darkness, wherein these things (with many other fruits and effects of the
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