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been often affected and filled with a ravishing joy, when I have beheld the heavenly and blessed order and government which the Lord God of wisdom hath already brought forth among us, and guidech us in, to the comfort and refreshment of many, and to the injury and hurt of none, neither without nor within. And indeed we do not desire any greatness or authority of man; but only of the Lord our God in the midit of us, that all men may be but his servants and ministers in the church, and to the church, for the good of the church. No, no; this is the day of the Lord, of the setting up and exalting of his power in the church, which the church waiteth for
, and knoweth the appearance of, and cannot bear the exaltation of man (of man's spirit, wisdom, power, and authority) instead of the Lord's. Yet nothing that cometh from the Lord, from his pure life and Spirit in any, must be rejected : and if the Lord please to make use of those whom he did make use of to gather home to himself; I say, if he hath given them gifts, and please to make use of them also in building up, and manifefting the holy order of his Holy Spirit and power, the Lord must not be re. fifted or withstood therein ; but whatever comes from him must be received with thankfulness, through what instrument soever he please to convey it.
Object. But have I not been taught to be subje&t to the light in my cwn beart, and to make that my judge ? And is not this another, or new, or different deltrine from that, now to tell me I must subjeet to the light of God's Spirit in bis church? Suppose that which the churcb requires, or orders, or holds forth, be dif. ferent from my light, or be not yet revealed to me by the light wherewith God beth enlightened me, must I deny the light wherewith God bath enlightened me, and fubjet to the church's light? Or must I praēlise as the church orders, before ! have light and faith in my own particular ?
Answ. I shaly answer this question according to the naked and plain fenfe of truth in my heart.
Firft, God gives power to his church to perform all that he requires of her as a church. Now the church is a spiritual body, and is to take care of her members, to look after them that they mind the truth, and walk according to truth, and to admonish and reprove them when they do otherwife. And every member of the church ought to hear the church, in whatever she fpeaks unto it from God.
Secondly, Every member hath need of the light, Spirit, and power which God gives his church, and reveals in his church, for the good of the body, and the benefit and advantage of each member therein.
Thirdly, The light, Spirit and power in the church is never contrary to the light, Spirit, and power in any member; but always one with it, and a cherither and preserver of what God begets, and which answers his witness in any. The new Jerusalem, the church of God's building in his own Spirit and power, is á city at unity with itself. The greatest degree of light owns and is at unity with, the least; and the least degree of light hath a sense of that which is in degree and measure above it.
Fourtbly, Fourthly, The light in the weakest, which they are at first to be turned, and afterwards to be kept to, though there is a sufficiency in it for the particular, yet they are not so understanding and sensible of it as those whose fenfes have been long exercised in the living truth, and are grown in the holy experience. Therefore as the elders are to be tender of the younger, fo the younger are to reverence the elders in the Lord, and not to Night their testimony, experience, or judgment in the truth. When we were first convinced of the truth, were we not in a great degree ignorant and doubtful concerning the risings and motions of it in the heart, which the eye being yet weak, could not clearly distinguish? And oh ! how helpful to us was the tender care and advice of such whom God had made acquainted with those things, and were able to give us true judgment from him, in such cases as our weak minds were apt to be entangled about, and could not see through?
Fiftbly, Great sobriety is needful in such cases, wherein men are too prone to be judging others, especially the church of God. Every man is to take heed of thinking of himself more highly than he ought to think ; but to think soberly, according as God had dealt to every man the measure of faith, Rom. xii. 3. And the young men (who have not the experience of the aged, and are most apt to confidence and excursions) are in a special manner to be exhorted to be fober-minded, Tit. ii. 6. Men may easily judge that others err, and that they themselves keep to the light and measure of truth in their own particulars; but it is hard to do it. But they that indeed do it, abide in the humility, and innocency, and lamb-like spirit, which would give no offence in any thing, neither to Jew nor Gencile, nor to the church of God. If it will go so hard with him that offends one of Christ's little-ones, how will it go with him that offends his church, wherein his glory and power riseth, and is established? The church is not apt to be such an erring body from the light, Spirit, and power of the Lord Jesus, as many (who mistake concerning the light in their own particulars) are too apt to suppose.
Lastly, Ever since the fall of man, man hath been fecretly, or more manifestly, directed by a light, or the principle within, to direct or guide his ways.
To Adam the holy feed was promiled, which was not only to appear outwardly in a body of flesh, but allo within in man's heart, to bruise the ferpent's head there. And the holy patriarchs had not the letter outwardly, but God's Spirit inwardly to be their guide and teacher, which did allo strive with the wicked old world before the flood. The Jews also were directed to the Word nigh in the mouth and heart; and this Word Ihewed allo to the Gentiles what was good, and what the Lord required of them ; and by chis Word fuch of the Gentiles as hearkened to it felt soinewhat of the new creation, and of the new nature, by which nature they did in measure answer the holy law of God, and do the things contained in the law, which by the old corrupt nature no man can do. Also Christ preached the king,
dom, or feed of the kingdom within.' And the apostles preached the same word of faith within, which Mofes had testified of.
Yet in none of these dispensations was any ceftimony from God to be despised; but his voice to be heard in the prophets, in Christ, and in the apostles. And though men are blessedly and gloriously turned, and to be turned to the light within, in these our days; yet they are not thereby taught to neglect or despise the voice of God, in any whom he fends and speaks by, and pretend it is contrary to their light; but to lie low before the Lord, that in the true humility and holy fear, they may know the voice of the Shepherd, both in their own hearts, and in whomsoever he pleaseth to speak For the Great Almighty God is not limited, but he may speak in and thro' whom he pleaseth. He may speak to me from the anointing in my own heart, and the holy, anointing may please to speak to me through others; and so far as I am of God, and sensible of his appearance, I cannot defpife the voice of the anointing in my own heart, or through others. Yea, truth teacheth that modesty, temperance, humility, tenderness, and fobriety, that I dare not despise the voice that pretends to the anointing in any, until I have made trial of it. Yea, John Pennyman's voice and testimony I durit not condemn, until the Lord my God, in the unerring light and pure spring. ing life, manifested unto me that it was not of him, but of the transforming enemy, who had bewitched and deceived him by his strong delusions (he forsaking the rock, which would have been his strength), to receive and believe a lie, instead of the truth.
Oh! bletfed be the Lord for the building up such a church, and speaking to us through his church! And happy are they that hear her voice, and to keep to their own, as to know the voice of their own in the church, and are not through temptation prejudiced against it. For it is the Lord's gathering, and the Lord is with it; and the people who have been gathered by the Lord, and are daily taught by him, keep with him. And cho' fome may depart from us, and through error of judgment testify against us, yet truth abides, and the Lord's people abide with the truth, and his building goech on, and the holy government of his Son encreasech in it, and the Lord appears more and more inwardly in his glory, as the hearts of his people are made capable to receive it from him. And in all the goings out of any, and apoftafies that have been in any, through hearkening to a wrong spirit, they that have heard and reverenced the voice and testimony of the church, and God's chosen and blessed ministry, which he hath raised among us, have still been preserved ; and they that have gone therefrom, been betrayed. And it is my faith, this church of God's gathering fhall ftill be preserved, and grow in the holy dominion and authority of God's blefied Spirit; and that all her enemies shall be found liars unto her, and the shall tread upon their high places, and shall grow and prosper the more by all oppolition ; the everlasting arm and wisdom of the Almighty being with her, to preferve, prosper, and bless her, fo be it. Amen.
True Experience felt in the Heart from the GOD
By ISAAC PENINGTON.
The kingdom of beaven is like to a grain of mustard-feed, which a man teak and
Sowed in bis field. Which indeed is the least of all seeds : but when it is grown, it is the greatest among berbs, &c, Matt. xiii
. 31, 32. Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but incorruptible, by the word of God
which livech and abideth for ever. 1 Pet. i. 23. Whosoever is born of God, doth not commit fin; for his feed remaineth in bizi
and be cannot fin, because he is born of God. 1 John iii. 9.
Τ Η Ε
P R E F A CE.
WOULD fain have (and my soul exceedingly breathes to the Lord for
it) difputing about religion come to an end, and the right understanding, practising, and experiencing the true religion begun and go on in mens hearts. The gospel-religion, in the apostles days, did begin in the evidence and demonstration of God's Spirit inwardly; and it cannot rightly begin any otherwise now. Nor can it rightly go on any other way, but according to its beginning: for they that begin in the Spirit, cannot possibly rightly go on, or be made perfect, by the flesh. Did the apostles in vain wait for the Spirit and power from on high? Can the Gospel-ministry, or gospelwork in any heart, be carried on without it? Or did they in vain turn men from Satan's power to God? Can the least true change be wrought in the heart, without the operation of God's Holy Spirit and power there ? And to be turned to wait for, and taught to know, the risings of the pure power of the Lord inwardly (which is lo necessary to begin, preserve, and carry on the work), oh! what a precious ministration of life, and of the gospel
, is this from the Lord ? The thing that we wanted, and mourned after all our days, in our several strains and ways of profession, without the knowledge of this, is now met with ; blefied be the Lord God of Israel, who hath cast up and prepared the way (according to his promise) before the face of all people. Whoever hath an ear to hear what the Spirit faith ro the churches of his own gathering, or from the angel of his own fending, may now hear the blessed tidings of the reign of the King of Ifrael, and of Sion his holy hill, and Jerusalem his holy city; and how to wait for the law going out of Sion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem, and how he may receive the sheep's nature, and the fheep's ear, which hears the voice of the Shepherd, and is not deceived about it. Oh! come out of the vain difputing mind, and thou comest out of deceit! Come into the true silence and stilling of the fleshly part thither, where God's voice is heard and understood; and thou comeít into true certainty. There thou comeft to hear