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this law is the path of life, the path of all that are renewed by God's Spirit, which the Jew inward is to read diligently, and to have his delight therein, and to meditate thereon day and night. And this law is light, true light, pure light, spiritual light, yea, the light which is eternal, and never varies; and the commandment which comes therefrom is a lamp, which they that receive know it to be no less than life everlasting; for indeed the commandments of Christ's Spirit are felt to be so. Now this commandment, this law, this light, shines in the darkness at first; but afterwards out of the darkness more and more (as it is believed, received, obeyed, and walked in) unto the perfect day ; see Prov. iv. 18, 19. Quest
. But how may I wait for, come to know, and receive this law? I am not of the stock of the Jews natural, but of the isles of the Gentiles; how may I meet with and receive the law of life from Chrift, or the grace and truth which comes by him ?
Anfw. The way of receiving it, is to mind that which enlightens and renews the mind, drawing it out of the nature and spirit of this world, and out of the ways, worships, knowledge, and customs thereof, into that which seasons it otherwise, and opens it another way. Now here the grace is met with, here the truth is met with, here the Spirit of life is met with ; here the inward change is felt, and the new law written in the heart and spirit. And here the mind comes to prove and know what is that good, that acceptable and perfect will of God: for God is the teacher in the new covenant, and his teachings are here, even in that which he renews. gathereth into his Spirit, and he teacheth those that abide in his Spirit, and giveth unto them eternal life, eternal virtue, eternal nourishment, in and from his Spirit. But they that may be great searchers into the letter, and comprehenders from the letter, and practisers according to their apprehensions of the letter (not being gathered into nor reading in the Spirit) they miss of eternal life, and of the redeeming arm and power, and are not. saved from sin by the blood of Christ; but are yet in transgression, darkness, and death, even until now. The Lord, who knoweth all things, make manifest their estates and conditions unto them, that they perish not for ever; but may
learn of the Father to know the Son, and of the Son to know the Father, and come to witness true life manifested in their own hearts, that they may have fellowship with the Father and Son therein. For he that is not turned from darkness unto light (from the darkness within in his own heart, unto the light which God caufeth to shine there) doth not yet know Chrift livingly and savingly; but is only in the notions and comprehensions concerning him, which cannot save. For it is the life and power of the Lord Jesus Christ, inwardly revealed against the power of sin and death, which is alone able to save therefrom.
Now consider with yourselves (all who would not be deceived in this matter) have ye known this law ? Have ye received it in measure, and do ye wait to know and receive it daily more and more? Then are ye
Then are ye Christians
indeed, and of the house of Jacob, which walk in the light of the Lord, and in the light of the holy city, whose light the Lamb is. But without this law, without this light, without the inward writing of God's Spirit in your hearts, ye cannot be inward Jews, nor children of the new covenant.
These are weighty things, and to be considered weightily, and weighed in the balance of the sanctuary. Oh! wait to know what it is to go into the sanctuary, and to weigh things there in the balance thereof, which exactly and infallibly weigheth and determineth whatever is brought thither! For of a truth ye cannot understand any scripture aright which treateth of any spiritual and heavenly mystery, but as ye are taught of God, to bring it unto the balance of the sanctuary, and to weigh it there; where all your own apprehensions, meanings, and conceptions will fall, and the mind and intent of God's Spirit be alone owned and justified. Ah! what a vast difference there is between weighing mens apprehensions and conceivings upon scriptures in the balance of their own understandings, and weighing them in the true balance ! In the former are all the erring judgments; but in the latter is the true, unerring judgment of God's own Spirit, in the light which is eternal; which judgment will stand for ever.
me in my Pursuit after Truth.
Was acquainted with a spring of life from my childhood, which en
lightened me in my tender years, and pointed my heart towards the Lord, begetting true sense in me, and faith, and hope, and love, and humility, and meekness, &c. so that indeed I was a wonder to some that knew me, because of the favour and life of religion which dwelt in my heart, and appeared in my conversation.
But I never durft trust the spring of my life, and the springings up of life therefrom; but, in reading the scriptures, gathered what knowledge I could therefrom, and set this over the spring and springings of life in me, and indeed judged that I ought so to do.
Notwithstanding which, the Lord was very tender and merciful to me, helping me to pray, and helping me to understand the scriptures, and opening and warming my heart every day.
And truly my soul was very near the Lord, and my heart was made and preferved very low and humble before him, and very sensible of his rich love and mercy to me in the Lord Jesus Christ; as I did daily from my heart cry grace, grace, unto him, in every thing my soul received and partook of from him.
Indeed. I did not look to have been so broken, shattered, and distressed, as I afterwards was, and could by no means understand the meaning there
of, my heart truly and earnestly desiring after the Lord, and not having the sense of any guilt upon me. Divers came to see me, fome to enquire into, and consider of, my condition ; others to bewail it, and (if possible) administer some relief, 'help, and comfort to me; and divers were the judgments they had concerning me. Some would say it was deep melancholy; others would narrowly search, and enquire how, and in what manner, and in what way. I had walked ; and were jealous that I had finned against the Lord, and provoked him some way or other, and that some iniquity lay as a load upon me: but, after thorough converse with me, they would still express that they were of another mind; and that the hand of the Lord was in it, and it was an eminent case, and would end in good to my soul.
At that time, when I was broken and dalhed to pieces in my religion, I was in a congregational way; but soon after parted with them, yet in great love, relating to them how the hand of the Lord was upon me, and how I was smitten in the inward part of my religion, and could not now hold an outward form of that which I inwardly
wanted, having lost my God, my Christ, my faith, my knowledge, my life, my all. And so we parted very lovingly, I wishing them well, even the presence of that God whom I wanted; promising to return to them again, if ever I met with that which my soul wanted, and had clearness in the Lord so to do.
After I was parted from them, I never joined to any way or people; buc lay mourning day and night, pleading with the Lord why he had forsaken me, and why I should be made so miserable through my love to him, and sincere desires after him. For truly I can say, I had not been capable of so much misery as my soul lay in for many years, had not my love been fo deep and true towards the Lord my God, and my desires so great after the sensible enjoyment of his Spirit, according to the promise and way of the gofpel. Yet this I can also say, in uprightness of heart, It was not gifts I defired to appear and shine before men in; but grace and holiness
, and the Spirit of the Lord dwelling in me, to act my heart by his grace, and to preserve me in holiness.
Now indeed the Lord at length had compassion on me, and visited me; though in a time and way wherein I expected him not: nor was I willing (as to the natural part) to have that the way which God shewed me to be the way; but the Lord opened my eye, and that which I know to be of him in me closed with it, and owned it ; and the pure seed was raised by his power, and
my heart taught to know and own the seed, and to bow and worship before the Lord in the pure power, which was then in my heart. Sa that of a truth I sensibly knew and felt my Saviour, and was taught by him to take up the cross, and to deny that understanding, knowledge, and wildom, which had so long stood in my way; and then I learned that lesson (being really taught it of the Lord) what it is indeed to become a fool for Christ's fake. I cannot say but I had learned somewhat of it formerly; buc I never knew how to keep to what I had learned till that day,
And then God shewed me (by degrees, as he nurtured me up in the heavenly sense and experience of his. Spirit) the workings of the good in me, and the workings of the subtilty; and how himself had, in time past, taught me to pray, and to understand the scriptures, and to believe in his Son, and know some things aright; but withal, how a knowledge and understanding of another nature had crepe in, and gained ground upon me (which indeed I knew not how to distinguish thoroughly from the other, and watch against), and so the truth came not to live in me, nor I to live in that, according to the utmost desire and travail of my soul.
But now of a truth, by this blessed visitation of the everlasting gospel, the Lord hath at length brought me back to the same spring I was acquainted with at first, and joined my heart in true sense and understanding to it; so that the life that I live is by the springing up of life in me; and I know the Lord my God, by being daily taught by him so to do; and I love him, by feeling my heart circumcised and constrained through the new nature thereunto. And truly it is natural to the good feed in me, and to my soul in and through the same, to trust my Father, and to suffer any thing that he requires of me, who freely giveth me both to do and to suffer: for indeed I live not of myself, but by a continual gift and quickening of life in my heart.
And oh ! that others also could come to hear the testimony of truth and life from God's Holy Spirit, and be turned thereby to the pure principle and Spirit of life itself (which many formerly had a true taste of, but are now turned aside to another nature and spirit, though they themselves know it not), that they might witness the golpel-power, and know the spiritual and heavenly Jerusalem, and suck at her breasts, and be dandled on her knee, who is the mother and bringer-up of all that are truly living.
W is the everlasting gospel (wherein Christ is truly made
known, and salvation really witnessed in the hearts of those that receive it) preached at this day? How hath the Lord appointed it to be preached, and how is it preached, and how may men come to hear it, that their souls may live? Are not they blessed that hear the joyful found thereof? Are not they wretched and miserable, and blind and naked, who mistake and miss concerning that sound of it, which it pleaseth the Spirit of the Lord to give forth in this day?
It is wonderful to consider how the truth, the gospel, the life, the power which saves, is one and the same in all ages and generations, and yet still hid from the wise, prudent, professing eye, in every age and generation. Vol. II. Uuu
Now let me speak a few words to this thing; not only from what I have felt in my heart, but have also read in the scriptures of truth.
Answ. The gospel, after the apostasy, is thus to be preached : Fear God, and give glory to him; for the bour of bis judgment is come: and worship bim that made heaven and earth, &c. Rev. xiv. 6, 7. He that knoweth the preacher that preachech this; he that hath heard this preached in his own heart; he that hath met with that fear which God's Spirit teacheth and giveth; he that hath known the hour of God's judgment, and had the axe laid to the root of the corrupt tree, and hath been taught by the Son to worship the Father in Spirit and Truth; he hath without doubt met with the gospel, the everlasting gospel: and if God require of such an one, and affist him by his Spirit and power to preach this to others, he is a preacher of the everlasting gospel, and an able minister of the New Testament, nor of the letter, but of the Spirit. But all should take heed of preaching their own forinings and conceivings upon the letter (as too many do in this day, who reproach, revile, and persecute the life and power), for that falls short of true preaching the letter.
Oh! that thefe things were weighty upon mens spirits, that they might learn aright to search and understand the scriptures, and know how the Father hath revealed the Son in this day, and how to come to him, to receive life from him! For many (who seem knowing) through ignorance, mistake in this matter, and so run on in their own wills, wisdoms, and comprehenfion of things, and miss of the drawings of the Father, and so come not aright to the Son; but only according to what they themselves imagine and apprehend from what they have gathered and conceived upon the scrip
God, who commanded light to shine in this outward world, hath judged it necessary to cause the light of his Spirit to shine inwardly in mens hearts; and this gives the knowledge of the fcriptures, and the true sense and difcerning of inward and spiritual things; yea, here the Son is known, and his blood felt cleansing; which the scriptures without do not make manifeft; but this the fcriptures are a clear and faithful record of, and testimony to. Men had need take heed how they read, and how they understand, the scriptures (in what light, in what fpirit), for it is easy erring; but without the presence and guidance of God herein, men cannot walk safely. And truly it is great presumption in any man to read the scriptures boldly, without fear and reverence to him who is the author of them; or to put any of his meanings and conceivings upon God's words; which it is hard for him to forbear doing, who readeth them in the liberty of his own spirit, out of the light of God's Spirit, which is the limit and yoke of the true readers and understanders of the scriptures.