« PreviousContinue »
Now magiftracy was never ordained of God, nor power given to men by him, to force people to fin against him.
And is it not a great fin to worship against one's faith, according to the wills and precepts of men, contrary to the teachings and requirings of his * Holy Spirit ? Are not they that do thus hypocrites ? Was power given unto magistrates to make them hypocrites; or to encourage people unto truth and uprightness both towards God and men ? To wait upon God in his fear, to be taught by him the true way of worship, is not this good and right in his sight? And to worship in Spirit and truth as he teacheth, is not this to do well? And was not the magistrate ordained of God to be a terror to evildoers, and a praise to them that do well? The magistrate faith we do not obey him; but he should rather enquire whether he doth not require that of us wherein we cannot obey him, without sinning against the Lord, and against the light of his Holy Spirit in our own hearts and consciences, and so bring God's wrath upon us, and provoke him to destroy us both body and soul? But if men will needs be angry with us for serving the Lord, and worshipping him according to his holy law and will, we had better undergo their
anger and unjust punishments for obeying our God, than come under his wrath for disobedience. And God is our witness that no stubbornness, wilfulness, or contempt of authority, engageth'us in the least to continue through many sufferings in this way of meeting together to worship our God; but only obedience to the gospel and power of Christ, which we have found this visitation and ministration of life from on high to be to us, by its redeeming us out of sin, and from the spirit of this world. And the same that hath redeemed us in some measure, hath required us thus to wait on the Lord to have our redemption perfected; and in thus waiting upon him, it is daily added to, and carried on; blessed be the name of our God. But if we should forbear thus to meet, we should turn from, sin against, and provoke our God (who hath already redeemed us in part, and is still further and further redeeming us), and turn back to Egypt, Sodom, and Babylon, where is the darkness, lust and confusion, and not the holy order of God's Spirit, neither in the conversations nor in the worships of those that dwell and abide there.
XXX. Some Queries concerning knowing and owning the Lord Jesus Christ
truly and aright, who hath been the only Saviour and Redeemer in all Ages and Generations ; and there never was, and never shall be,
HETHER they know or own the Lord Jesus Christ
truly and aright, who only know and own him as outwardly described and related of in the scriptures, but know him not inwardly revealed in their hearts, as the Word and power of eternal life? Or whether they are the true knowers and owners of Christ, who know and
own him not only according to a literal defcription of him in the scriptures
, but also as inwardly revealed by the Father, witnessing him formed in then, and their hearts changed into his holy and heavenly image, by virtue of his inward appearance, and operation of his Spirit and power in them?
Query 2. Whether they' truly and rightly know the death and resurrection of Christ, who know only the relation of them in the scriptures, but are not made conformable to his death, nor raifed by him in the power of his life? Or whether they are the true and right knowers of his death and resurrection, who are buried with him by the holy baptism of his Spirit into death, who through the Spirit have mortified the deeds of the body, and witness the holy feed of life raised and living in them, and themselves raised and made alive to God, in and through the power of the Father revealed in them?
Query 3. Whether they truly and rightly confefs Christ to be the Lord and king, priest and prophet of his people, who confess it only from the reading of it to be so in the scriptures? Or whether they are not the true and right confessors of Christ's kingly, priestly, and prophetical offices, who witness him exercising them in them; who witness him overcoming and reigning over sin and death in them; over whom other lords, even the spirits and powers and darkness, have not dominion now, but Christ only; and in whom he ministereth as in his temple, offering fpiritual gifts and sacrifices to his Father, and who also prophesieth.there, opening and revealing the mysteries of his kingdom to them, as he doth to the least babes that are truly begotten and born of his Spirit ?
Query 4. Do they or can they truly know Christ's voice, who never experienced the Word of life speaking in their hearts? Where doth the false prophet speak? Doth he not speak within ? And where doth the true Shepherd speak? Doth he not speak within also, even in the heart? And do not the sheep hear, know, and distinguish his voice there?
Query 5. Who knoweth the truth as it is in Jesus? Do any do so buc those that have felt the drawings of the Father ; come unto the Son in the drawings; and received life from and abide in him? Do any know the truth in Jesus but those that witness virtue, freedom, life, and power, by the truth in fome measure ? Doch not that saying and promise of Christ (John vii. 31, 32.) stand firm in every age? If ye continue in my words, then are ye my disciples' indeed. And ye shall know the truth, and ihe truth shall make you free.
Query 6. Who are ingrafted into Christ? Can any one be ingrafted into him but as he is inwardly revealed and made known? Yea, is not he in them who are ingrafted into him, and are not they in him ? Is not he that is truly regenerated cut off from the old stock within, from the root of bitterness within ; and is not he implanted into the new stock within also ; insomuch as he sensibly feeleth the pure holy root of life bear him, and the
ap thereof springing up in him, causing him to bring forth fruit to God in due feafon ?
Query 7. Who prayeth in the name of Christ ? Doth he who faith these or such-like words in the beft seriousness and sensibleness he can in his own will, “Hear me, O Lord, for Christ's sake: I confess I am unworthy; but “ I beg of thee in his name who is worthy, &c." or he who prayech in the child's nature, on the Father's breathing upon him, in the Spirit of the Father which is given him, and in the time and will of the Father? He that doth but figh or groan in and from the Spirit, doth not that figh or groan afcend up to the Father in Christ's name? Alas! how outward is mens religion ! But the inward streams and current of the true, pure, and heavenly religion they know not.
Query 8. Who receiveth Christ? Do any but those who receive and bow to the light of his Spirit inwardly revealed ? Can any receive him but they that hear his knocks and open to him ? Do any know the inward voice of the Shepherd, besides the Sheep? And can any receive his voice, and not receive him? And can any who are ignorant of, and refuse his voice, receive him?
Query 9. Who do truly and rightly believe in Christ ? Do any do so, or can any do so, but they who first feel life, from whence the true faith springs ? Ah! that all the faith in men were dalhed, but what comes from life, unites to life, and abides in life!
Query 10. Whom doth Christ gather from the barren mountains ? Are they not his sheep; his poor, distrefied, scattered, wounded, fainting, and almost famished sheep? What are the mountains he gathers them from ? Are they not the several dead ways, worships, and gatherings without life? And out of whose mouths doth he rescue them? Is it not out of the mouths of the shepherds that made a prey of them; who fed them not with life, with virtue, with pure living knowledge; but with words, with dreams, with apprehensions of their own, concerning the things of God? And whither doth he lead them? Is it not to his own holy mountain (which is exalted by God, and established over and on top of all those other mountains) where the fresh pastures are, and where the streams of life flow, and run plentifully?
Query 11. Who are Christ's kindred according to the Spirit ? Who is his mother, fifter, brother? Are any so but they that do the will of the Father? And is this obedience a working according to the law, or of the righteoulness of the law? Nay; is it not rather of the nature and righteousness of the gospel ? Is not that which howeth from him who is righteous, righteous allo; even as he is righteous.
Query 12. To whom doth Christ give power to become sons? Is it not to as many as truly and rightly receive him, and believe in his name? To as many as received him of old, to them be gave power to become the fons of
God. God. Doth he not do fo ftill? What is it to receive power to become a fon? Let the heart that hath received it answer; for the Notionist cannot. Query 13. What is the reason so many who are high in notion and
profession, cannot own this precious appearance of the Spirit, power, and
glory of our Lord Jesus Christ, in this our day, in the hearts of his children, after the long night of darkness, which hath so long covered the earth ? Is not this the very reason, even because they do not truly and rightly know either the Father or the Son ? Can any see or know him that begecs, and with the same eye not see or know him that is begotten of him? Can any love Christ, and not love his brethren ? Is not wisdom, in her appearances, juftified of her children in this age, as well as formerly?
Query 14. Are there two Christs, one manifested without, and another revealed within; or is it the same Lord Jesus Christ who in the days of his flesh appeared outwardly, that was afterwards manifefted within as the myltery of life, and hope of glory; who also in this our day is revealed and made known within unto his, by the fame eternal Spirit ?
Query 15. He that truly and rightly knoweth the Spirit of Christ, doch he not know Christ also ? Even as he that knoweth Christ must needs know the Father also. Are not the Father and Christ one? Could any one fee Christ, even in the days of his fesh, and not see the Father also ? (see Jobs xiv.9.) So is not Christ and the Spirit one in like manner ? And are not all that are truly of Christ, begotten by, gathered into, and do they not live and walk in, that one Spirit of his ? And do they not there know the things of God as they are, and testify of what they have seen and known? Though they that are out of that Spirit and power know neither him, nor the testimony of life that comes by him, no more than the Jews knew his appearance Qutwardly in their day.
A Query added concerning Imputation. Query TN what state was Abraham when faith was imputed to him for
righteousness? Was he in the ungodly state; in the state of unbelief and disobedience to the Spirit and power of the Lord; or was he in the sense of God's power, in the belief of him who could raise up his son from the dead, and in the performance of obedience unto him, giving up his son at the Lord's command?
And in what state muft we be, when we witness faith imputed to us allo for righteousness ? Muft we not be in the sense of the fame power, and in the belief of it, and in the obedience of faith ? Read Rom. iv. and consider : for the righteousness of the gospel is not imputed in or by the works of the law, but in the obedience of faith.
It is true, God justifieth the ungodly; through faith he makes them just and godly; but doch he justify or accept them in the ungodly state? Doch he not first make a change in them by his power? Doth he not first in some measure purify their hearts by faith?
are in Christ, and under grace, and freely justified by grace ; so that they look upon their fins as covered by the Lord, and not imputed to them, they believing (as they pretend) in the name of his Son, and obeying his gospel, &c. I say, many profess these things, who do not at all know what they mean truly and rightly, as in God's sight.
For it is a great matter to be in Christ, even to know him that is true, and to be in him that is true; to come out of darkness into his light, out of death into his life ; out of Satan's kingdom, and out of subjection to fin, into his kingdom, and into subjection to his Spirit. If any man be in Chrift, he is a new creature ; old things are passed away, and all things become new. Is this true? Doth he that is in Chrift witness this ? And he that doth not witness this, is he in Christ ?
Ah! how many then are deceived about their being in him, and of their hope in him! For how few of those who talk of being in Chrift know what the new creation in him means, or what it is to have Christ formed in them! How few know his Spirit by receiving it, by union with it! which yet if a man have not, he is none of his. How few know how to try spirits by the holy anointing, which is only able to try, and discover such false spirits as come in the theeps clothing, and as ministers of righteousness, and yet come with the deceivableness of unrighteousness, to draw men from the Spirit and power, or to keep them in a dead form of knowledge and worThip, without true life.
So for being under grace, few truly know what it is; for grace is that which hath dominion over sin, and which giveth dominion to those that are under it. Sin shall not bave dominion over you, said the apostle ; for ye are not under the law, but under grace. Therefore yield not your members fervants or instruments to sin. Ye did so when ye were free from righteoufness; but now let not fin reign in your mortal bodies, seeing grace gives you power over it, and makes you free from it unto righteousness.
So justification by grace is only to them who are taught by grace. The grace of God brings salvation, redemption, justification to them, and no others; for their fins only are blotted out, covered, and not imputed, who receive grace, hear the voice of it, and obey it. Hear, and your souls Mall live. In hearing the grace which teachech from God, fouls come to live in his sight; and the living are justified by him ; and in the living way and path of life are the fins blotted out, and the garment given which covers the nakedness; which garment is to be girt about the soul, and kept close on, or the nakedness and shame will appear, and be seen again.
M m m