« PreviousContinue »
To the Third. God did threaten the Gentiles (wishing them to take heed of boasting against the Jews) that if they did not continue in the faith, and in the fear, they should be cut off, as the Jews were. Now there was a great and general departing from the faith, and answerably a general cutting off. And though life was reserved in a select number in the wilderness; yet the true way of gathering into churches and the church-state fell. And now being fallen, the Lord alone is able to rebuild, as he built at first. Now men reading the scriptures of the glory of the former church-state, have been longing after it (which was good), but withal too forward to thrust them felves into it, and build by imitation, without the clear sight, leadings, and guidance of the Spirit; and so have not built up in the fame life and power by which the building was at first, and can alone be truly raised again
. Now the Lord being come forth in his power, and raising up his own building, the fame Spirit that raiseth up that, testifieth against all the other, which are raised up without it. And indeed the testimony against the prefent churches and congregations gathered out of the power, is God's, not
But consider serioully; John had a reed given him to meafure the temple, &c. when part was to be referved for God, and part to be given to the Gentiles. But who gave you power to gather churches, or practile those which ye call church-ordinances ? Who hath required these things at your hands? And where doft thou read, that the Gentiles did tread down the outward court after it was given them? They trod down the holy ciry indeed forty-two months.
To the Fourth. So far as you see, hear, taste, feel any thing in the pure light of the truth, as it is in Jesus, we rejoice therein; and heartily desire the increase thereof in you: but we would not have you mistaken about there things.
To the Fifth. Concerning the word or commandment which Moses speaks of, and which Paul faid was the word of faith which they preached.
If the first covenant had been faultless, there had not been place left for a second. For if there had been a law given, which would have given life, righteousness should have been by that law. But notwithstanding the wonders which God did in Egypt and the wilderness, and the giving the law and ordinances, &c. yet the veil was upon them, and the Lord bed not giver them an heart to perceive, nor eyes to see, nor ears to bear, to that Very
day, Deut. xxix. 4. Well then; there was a necessity of a another covenant ; and these words which Moses now speaks to them from God, were words concerning another covenant besides that made in Horeb.
But where is the commandment of this covenant? Where is the law of this covenant? Where is the Word of this covenant? It is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that thou shouldst say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? Neither is it beyond the sea; but the Word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it. And this nigh Word of the other covenant, whereby God circumcisech the heart, to love the Lord God with all the heart, is the Word eternal, and no other; who hath received this power of the Father, and none else hath received it: and in the obedience to him, his righteousness, is revealed and received, and made the foul's, from faith to faith. And it is in vain for you to think to blind our eyes either concerning this fcripture, or concerning the thing itself which this fcripture testifies of; God having opened the eye and heart, which sees and knows, and which in the true light, which is from and of the Word, sees him who is invisible and eternal, even the life, holy power, wisdom, and righteousness, which was in and with the Father before the world was. And this was the Word, before it took up the body of Heh, and is still the Word, and no other; and its commandment is life eternal; in the pure faith whereof, and in the pure obedience whereto, he giveth life abundantly: but out of the faith and obedience thereto, he doth neither give life, nor the justification of life; but the deceits of the enemy there prevail in mens minds concerning these things,
Now bad the Jews under the law come to this Word, they had by the light thereof understood the law, and by the power thereof fulfilled it. And when Christ and the apostles preached, had they that heard, felt this Word, they could not but in their hearts have believed him to be the Lord, and also have confessed his resurrection from the dead; which, in that day, it was a great thing to confess, being not revealed by flesh and blood; nor the testimony then casily swallowed by the fleshly and earthly part, but generally opposed by it. But now these things are received and acknowledged by multitudes without the power; and as so received, are of no value, nor can fave; but the owning and receiving, and being born of the Spirit, life, and power (which was in him) saves, and gives such an acknowledgment of these things, as is of the life and power, and accepted with the Father.
But, alas! friend, how hast thou wrested and perverted this scripture, turning aside the intent of God's Spirit, and putting thine own meaning upon his words, striving to make them speak what thou wouldst have them! Is this reading of the scriptures in reverence, humility, and godly fear? Oh! that God would give thee a sense of what thou hast done herein! For neither Mofes nor Paul doth thus restrain them, nor mention any such fort of people as thou speakest of; but thou, by thy exposition, makest void the mind of God, and the drift of his Spirit in the scriptures. If thou haft, in this wisdom and latitude of thy own spirit, read the scriptures, not know
ing God's Spirit to gird and limit thee from thine own apprehendings and conceivings, what kind of rule haft thou made to thyself out of them? Ah! friend, if thou knowest God's Spirit, keep to it; if thou knowelt it not, wait for it to become thy guide and leader, and the opener of scrip cures and the mysteries of the kingdom to thee.
The light which enlighteneth every man that cometh into the world, and the eternal Word or Son of God, is the same. And this light shining in the darkness, shineth and enlighteneth with the true light: And the end of its enlightening is, that therein men might feel the drawings of the Father, the strivings of his Spirit ; and in the faith thereof, and subjection thereto, come out of the darkness.
Now the condemnation is not becaule Christ hath not fufficiently en. lightened them, or that there goeth not suficient power with his light to redeem from the darkness; bur because men curn the deaf ear to him, will not hear him; but, in loye to the darkness, hear the voice of him who dwells in the darkness
. But the Spirit of Christ, who is in the light, and dwells in the light, who strives with the dark world by his light, is able to conquer and overcome the darkness. Yea, the Word of life, nigh in the ·mouth and heart, is able to overcome the power of death there, to quicken, to gather to God, to set the captive free, &c. And the reason why men perish, is not through God's insufficient visiting of them, but because of their turning from the measure of the manifestation of his Spirit. They despise the day of small things; they will not come to that wherein the life and virtue was hid, and fo lose the day of their visitation, and miss of the good which God intended to them thereby.
And whereas thou sayest, “ The light doth not, nor cannot, discover “ Christ, and his being raised from the dead, &c." I cannot but say, on the other hand, what doth discover them, but the light? How came the scriptures to declare of Christ? Was it not from the Spirit ? And is not that same light still with the Spirit, by which the scriptures were given forth? And can he not give it forth without the letter, where he seeth need of it, and vouchsafeth lo to do? But how can the vast unbelieving multitudes of the world experience what the light and Spirit of the Lord can do, being not subject to it, but rebelling against it, Job xxiv. 13. And why may not men now, by the light of the Spirit, come to know that Christ is come, dead, and risen, as well as these things were known and believed before the scriptures were written ? Yer, if a man should not know the outward death of Christ, and his raising from the outward grave, yet being in the faith of the power (which whomsoever it toucheth and draweth to it, it redeems) that gives him a right to all that was done by Christ; for then he hath union with the thing which saves, and strength from it against that wbich destroys. Yea, there was a time when the disciples of Christ were in the faith, and yet neither knew nor believed his death and resurrection : yea, Peter, with no small confidence, faid, Lord, this shall not be unto thee, Matt. xvi. 22.
As touching that passage of renouncing the works not only of the old covenant, but even those of the new also, as filthy rags, that is manifestly unscriptural and unfavoury; the works of the new covenant being fruits of God's Holy Spirit, which he works in us and for us. If any man be in Christ, there is a new creation (where the old things are passed away); and he that walks after this rule, walks in the newness of the Spirit, and the Spirit moves, and lives, and works in him. Not I, but Chrift in me. And as the root is holy, so is also the fruit, The fear which God puts into the heart is clean, and keeps the heart clean; and out of the good, and honeft, and clean heart, comes good, honest, and clean fruit, which is not unclean, like filthy rags. Read Ifai. lxiv. 5. and consider it, waiting on the Lord to open thine understanding. Were the works which the apostle speaks of, Heb. xi. and Jam. ii. 24 to be reckoned as filthy rags ?
Abraham was acquainted with the invisible eternal Word, and was turned from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God; and in his converted estate had the promise of the feed ; and saw, with the rest of the prophets, through the day of his felh to the day of his Spirit, i Pet. i. 10, 11, 12.
David was a spiritual man, and knew the Word of the new covenant; which is a lantern to the feet, and a light to the paths, of the children of the new covenant, who witness and experience their way cleansed by taking heed thereto according to this Word. And the precepts, statutes, laws, commandments, ordinances, judgments, &c. of this Word are a mystery to all that are not acquainted with it. But they that are acquainted with it, and in the pure fear and humility wait upon it
, they learn of it the way of its precepts, and are guided by the Spirit of the Lord in the way everlafting.
The wisdom which Solomon speaks of, is undoubtedly Christ, the Word eternal. It is much thou shouldīt boggle at this. He is the Sun of the inward world, which enlightens the dark inward world; not that they should abide in the darkness, but by the virtue and power of his light come out of it. And friend ; mark these following words, and wait upon the Lord for the true understanding of them. Till thou witness the inward Word, with the inward law and testimony thereof, and know its commandment to be a lanp, and its law a light, &c. thou canst never witness the perfect keeping and preservation from the evil woman, from the flattery of the congue of the strange woman; but wilt be apt to lust after her beauty in thy heart, and to be taken with her eye-lids. But if thou know and keep wisdom's commandments, thou wilt thereby witness life indeed, according to that saying of Christ, If a man keep my sayings, be shall never see death. And Christ directed his apostles to wait for his Spirit to receive his sayings from, who teacheth not only the greatest, but the least, in the new covenane's Vol. II.
writing his law in their hearts, which law is light. And if any man hear the inward voice of wisdom, and turn at her reproofs, she will pour out her spirit unto him, she will make known her words unto him.
The same thing that teaches to do justly, and love mercy, teacheth also to walk humbly with the Lord. It is the same grace which brings salvation, which teacheth to live godlily, that teacheth also to live foberly and righteously. What I had in my former profession and congregational way, the Lord brake by a mighty hand; but yet in tender mercy he was with me, preserving me in the midit of the storms, and foods, and roaririgs of the enemy upon me, till his freth visiting of me. And he visited me with his own Spirit, with the eternal light, life, and power thereof; and I know it to be the same thing which had been with me from the beginning ; yea, the child, being quickened and raised out of the grave, presently knew its Father, and cannot but honour and bear testimony to that appearance of truth, wherewith his Father visited him, and wherein he hath felt the renewing and restoring of his former work. And they that knew me formerly, before the Lord dashed me to pieces, could and did witness, that the Lord had given me true humility, and my soul did witness a walking with him in the humility which he gave me.
And now I witness from him, in this precious dispensation of his life and power, the very fame humility (and blessed be his name, with great increase), and a fresh walking with him therein, in a fresh sense and meltings and bowings of spirit before him night and day. I do confess I took it to be a natural thing, and overlooked and despised it, till the Lord opened my understanding, and Thewed me what it was, and how he wrought by it, and that it was a my stery hid from all, but those to whom he revealed it. And indeed I do hang daily upon the Lord in this for life and power, and am very
weak without, but strong as it pleaseth the Father to manifest himself in me, and to breathe upon me through it; yea, indeed, my life, peace, rest
, hope, joy, delight, &c. is a continual gift from the Father of spirits, who hath manifested himself near unto me, and shewn me his dwelling-place. And I am satisfied that the Spirit of the Lord, by his immediate light, is able to reach the darkest heart in the darkest part of the world, and to turn his mind to, and give him belief in, that which faves, and to save him thereby
The word of faith which the apostles preached, and the word of life eternal, and the light which enlighteneth every man that cometh into the world, differ not, but are the same; and the light wherewith he enlightens them, that they might believe in him who enlighteneth, is of the fame nature with the Enlightener, and sufficient to guide them to the faith of him. But friend; take heed of reproaching the truth. Though thou mayest do it ignorantly, yet it is not wholly excusable. Hast thou heard the preaching which thou speakest thus nightly of? If thou hast not, furely thou shouldest have heard and considered, before thou hadít judged. Thou fettelt up