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he bears that which in substance is the cross of Christ, which crucifieth the worldly nature and spirit; and as he is truly circumcised, so must he needs also be justified and saved under this yoke. For the Lord God of life, the Father of glory, will condemn none whom he finds in Chrift, subjected to Christ, one in nature with the image of his Son; and Christ will condemn none whom he finds in his Spirit, caught by his Spirit, receiving holy laws from his Spirit, and walking in obedience thereto. And indeed I doubt not, but the merciful God hath saved many among the Gentiles, in all ages and generations, by the light of his holy Spirit working their minds into the sense thereof, and into subjection thereto, according to the manifestation thereof within them. For it is not the having much knowledge that saves, but the being subject to the measure of the gift which comes from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Saviour.
Quest. 3. But how can those be justified according to Paul's gospel, who never beard Paul's gospel?
Answ. Paul's gospel is the gospel of Christ, the everlasting gospel, the one gospel, which is the power which faves, which is manifested in the new covenant within; which is hid in them that are loft, but revealed, in some measure, in all that are saved. Where-ever the new covenant is, there is the gospel; where ever the law is in any measure written within, there is somewhat of the gospel.
If a man believe in that which shines within, which manifests the will of God within, he believes in that power which raised our Lord Jesus Christ from the grave; and if he lay hold on it by faith, he lays hold on God's strength, which inwardly visits to save the soul; Yea, and if he obey it, he obeys the gospel, and shall not be condemned for disobedience, when Christ appears in fames of fire, to judge and condemn all the ungodly.
HAT was the rule of the Jew outward, as to their outward state ?
Was not the law and testimony outward ? Did not God make the law in the letter ? What is the rule of the Jew inward ? Is not the law and testimony inward? Is not the gospel a ministration of Spirit and power? And is it not a more glorious miniftration than the law of the letter ? Under the law, God spake by, Moses and the prophets; but under the gospel he speaketh by his Son : and do not the sheep hear his Son's (the true Shepherd's) voice? We all, like sheep, have gone astray ; but (blessed be the Lord) are now returned to the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls : and shall we not hear him, and follow him, whitherfoever he goes and leads by his holy and good Spirit? A propbet Mall the Lord your God raise up unto you, like unto me; him Mall ye bear in all things, said Moses. 'Did Moses say, Vol. II.
My words shall be your rule; or, the words of the prophets shall be your rule then, in the days of the new covenant? Nay, he did not say so; bar, him Mall ye hear in all things; and he that will not hear him thall be cur off; yea, verily, it is so. He is the minifter of life; and he that doch nor hear him, and receive life, virtue, and power from him, he builds but from the letter (from what he apprehends from the letter) but is really separated and cut off from the ministry of the life and power. He that hath an ear, let him hear; and he that hath an heart, let him consider.
Now, the true Jew, the Jew inward, in whose heart God writes his law by the finger of his Spirit, he is to read and to medirate on the inward law written in his heart, as the outward Jew was to read and meditate on the outward law. And as, in obedience to the outward law, the outward Jew was blessed, and free from the curse, and his outward enemies; fo, in obedience to the inward law (the law of the Spirit of life), the inward Jew reaps the spiritual blessings, and becomes inwardly free from his inward and fpiritual enemies. Ye Mall know the truth, and the truth fall make you free, faid Christ to his disciples; and every true disciple in the obedience of the truth witnesseth it.
And here the mystery of all (which was outwardly written and testified of) is known; the mystery of the law, the mystery of the prophecies, the mystery of the gospel, the mystery of the fellowship in and with the saints in light; the mystery of the faith, which is held in a pure conscience; the mystery of the love, which ariseth from the true and inward circumcision; the mystery of the hope, which anchors within the veil, and purifies the heart, as he is pure. For the true children, the children of the heavenly wisdom, being children of the hidden life, are begotten in a mystery; for the Spirit of God breatheth upon them no man knoweth how; and thus is every one that is born of the Spirit.
Now as they are begotten in the mystery of life, so the mystery belongs to them, and is revealed and opened in them; insomuch that they know God not only as outwardly described, but as inwardly revealed and manifested in Christ, his bright and heavenly image. So here the one truth is known, even as it is in Jesus; the one way
is known; the one name of the Lord (which is and was the strong tower in all ages and generations, which the righteous did, and do still, fly unto and are fafe) is known; here the one baptism is known; here the one fupper is known: yea, here the One God is worshipped, as Father and Son, in the One Spirit and truth. So that here is no dreaming in the night, by mens comprehendings and conceivings upon the scriptures; but here is seeing with the true eye, in a measure of the light of the everlasting day, which is given to the children of light, who live in the light, and walk in the light, and in the true light (which now lines) see the pure and eternal light daily more and more.
Who would not count all dross and dung (even all the knowledge he can gather and comprehend of himself) for the excellency of this knowledge which God gives to those that are turned to the light and power of his Spirit, from the darkness of their own thoughts, reasonings, and conceivings upon the scriptures, and do wait upon him therein, even in his holy temple, night and day? For all under the gospel are to be priests to God; and all his priests are to wait upon him, and worship him in his holy temple; and to watch diligently that neither the fire go out, nor the lamp go out, nor the salt be wanting to season and keep the heart melted and broken, that it may be a continual acceptable facrifice to the Lord.
Time was, when we also did believe that the scriptures were the only rule of faith and praftice; and so bent ourselves to search out and observe what we found written therein, hoping thereby to have attained to that, which our souls desired after. But we found all the directions thereof weak as to us, through the Aesh, and sin had still power over us; and we knew not what it was to be made free by the Son ; free by the truth, free indeed from that which stood near to tempt and draw us into fin. But when the light of God's holy Spirit shined upon us, and our minds were by him turned thereto, and his law-written on our hearts, in and by the new covenant, which he revealed in us, and made with us, in and through his Son; then we felt the ministration of the power of the endless life, and were experimentally -assured, that in the gospel-administration, which is an administration of the Spirit and power, nothing less than Spirit and power can be the rule.
Mark; In the old covenant, letter (or outward directions) was a rule; but the living commandment, or Word in the heart, is the rule in the new covenant; living laws; laws livingly written ; laws that give life to them in whom they are written ; they are the living, powerful, and effectual rule.
Nor do we undervalue the scriptures, in thus giving honour to Christ and his Spirit ; for it is their honour to testify of Christ and' of his Spirit, who is the pure, certain, infallible rule of the new life, and who gives to fulfill all the holy directions, which are written in the scriptures, concerning the way of life.
A man, at a distance, may easily speak uncertainly; but let a man be joined to God's Spirit, and feel his holy nature, movings, leadings, and guidings, he cannot but acknowledge them to be his certain and infallible rule for nothing is more certain than God's Spirit, than the holy anointing, which is truth and no lie, and leads into all truth, and out of every lie and deceit.
XXIII. Some Queries concerning the Law, or Word; Statutes, Testimonies,
Judgments, &c. which David was to delighted in, and prayed fo carnestly for.
AVID said, Thy Word is a lantern to my feet, and a light to my paths.
He found it sweeter than the honey, and the honey-comb. He desired to be taught God's statutes, and to learn the way of bis precepts, &c. as may be abundantly read, Psal. xix. and in other places.
Query 1. What was this Word or Law, which there was such an earnest desire in David after; by observing whereof he became wiler than his Teachers? Was it the law of Moses, the law outward; or was it the Word and Law of life inward ?
If it be faid, It was the law of Moses; then I query in the second place :
Query 2. What rule had David from the law of Moses to say, That God desired not sacrifice, nor delighted in burnt-offerings? Did not God desire and require of his people under the law that they should perform these things ? And did he not accept of them, and delight in them, when they performed them aright in faith and obedience to him? Was not the Lord plealed with Abel's facrifice? And did not God smell a sweet savour in Noah's facrifice? How could David say in truth, and from a true Spirit, that God did neither desire them, nor delight in them?
Query 3. Ought not David to try this Spirit, which spake thus in him, whether it was of God or no? Should he receive a testimony from any Spirit fo directly contrary in appearance to the foregoing testimonies of God's Spirit in the holy scriptures, without a full and certain evidence and demonftration that it was the Spirit of God?
Query 4. How was David to try, or how might he certainly try this Spirit, whether it was of God or no ? Was he to try ie thus, whether it spake according to the testimony and law of Mofes, according to what Moses had spoken in this matter, which certainly was of God, and was given by God for a law or rule to that people the Jews? If he had tried it thus, would he not have judged it a spirit different from the Spirit of Moses, speaking contrary to the law and testimonies which God gave forth by him ? For sacrifice and burnt-offering was strictly required there, and God often testified his acceptance thereof, and delight therein. So that God did
and did delight therein in one respect, and did not accept nor delight at all in them, in another respect; but his aim was at another thing, and at other facrifices, which David clearly law. And so David's eye, mind, heart, and spirit being gathered inward, even thither where God's eye and heart was, he there had a clear sight, and gave a certain sound concerning what was acceptable in the eye of the Lord, and what not; and so faith, God did not de
fire sacrifice, nor delight in burnt-offering, Pfal. li. 16. Though the language of the law of Moses speaketh far otherwise, where circumcision, facrifices, and such outward things are expressed as of great value with the Lord, and as great and high privileges, which were bestowed upon that people in that day.
Query 5. May not the same Spirit, or the children of God in the same , Spirit, say to the Lord in this day, concerning things of the fame outward nature, Thou desirejt not such outward things, else would we perform them. Thou delightest not in outward shadows of the things of the kingdom. Thou desirest not outward washing the body with water, or eating and drinking of outward bread and wine, which avail no more than circumcision and the passover. If thy delight were in things of this nature, and thou didst require them of us, how willingly would we be found in the pražlice of them before thee : But thy delight is in that water which washeth the soul from its filth, and in the souls that are washed therewith. And thou desirest to see thy children feeding on the living bread, the bread which comes down from heaven, and to drink of the wine which refresbeth, and maketh glad the heart both of God and man.
Querý 6. If any of the children of the Most High should in this feel the life wherewith God hath quickened them open in their hearts, and such a testimony arising from his Spirit in them, how should they try whether this spirit and voice were of God or no? Should they look into the writings of the evangelists and apostles, to see whether baptism with outward water, and eating of outward bread, and drinking of outward wine, was ever commanded and practised in the apostles days ? And if they suppose strongly that it was commanded, or find it was practised, may they thereupon safely conclude that it is a wrong spirit, and wrong voice, that teftifieth thus in them, and not the voice and Spirit of the Lord ? Had David tried and judged thus, might not he have judged and condemned the Spirit and voice of God in his day? And if we try and judge in this manner, may not we judge and condemn the Spirit and voice of God in our day? David saw clearly that outward facrifices were not the abiding thing, but significations of that which was abiding; and this light greatly shook them in his spirit. The Lord hath likewise Thewn us clearly that outward water, bread, and wine are not the substantial, the spiritual, the heavenly water, the heavenly bread and wine; but of the nature of such things as were to be fhaken, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain in the gospel state and kingdom.
Oh! therefore, let men take heed how they build, or how they judge concerning the appearances of God, by their own apprehensions upon the letter of the scriptures. But let every one be careful to build upon the rock Chrift; upon his Spirit, his life, his power inwardly revealed, which the birth which is of him knows; and that birth being kept to, reveals in and to us: but no man, by his own conceivings and apprehensions upon the letter, ever knew, or can know, the Spirit and voice of the Lord.