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EPISTLES to FRIENDS.
TO FRIENDS in and about the Two Chalfonts.
E have a deep place in my heart, and my cries are to the Lord for you, that ye may live to him, and find his life springing up and
. meetings from the world, unless the power of the Lord be felt in your hearts, and his presence in your assemblies ? Oh! that the Lord would awaken you! Oh! that the Lord would quicken you! Oh! that it would please the Lord to raise up a strict watch in you, against all drowsiness, and carelessness, and temptations, and fnares of the enemy, that ye may travel on your journey, with your backs upon the world, and your faces towards Sion; never looking back to the Aeshly nature, desires, or lufts, to entertain any thing of that any more, which ye have parted with in the demonstrations and leading of life, but still pressing on further and further, till ye come to apprehend and be possessed of that, for which ye have been apprehended by God, and drawn in some measure towards.
O my friends! There is a path of life in which ye muft travel, even to the very end of it, or the crown of life is not to be received! Oh! that ye might travel on! Oh! that nothing might stop you! Oh! that ye might every day wait for and feel the leader, and walk on with him in the simplicity, uprightness, and sense of his life, out of the reach of that wisdom, which is ever and anon forming reasonings in the heart againft it, and striving to darken, and make the plain way of God intricate to the soul !
My life often reacheth to you, my soul exceedingly longeth after you! And in the stirrings of the same life be ye also helpful to me, crying to the Lord for me, that I may abide with him, feel his preservation, and dwell in that which he hath chosen to appear to and refresh the soul in, that I may be acceptable to him, and further helpful to you, in the season of the ftirrings of his precious and powerful life in my heart. The Lord God of mercy watch over you, pruning and keeping down all the earthliness and corruption in any of you, and watering and cherishing his own plant in you all, that ye may daily witness the dying and decrease of the one, and the quickening and growth of the other, even till death be perfectly consumed and swallowed up by the growth, power, and presence of the immortal life in you, and your souls safe and happy in your God.
And so to the tender mercies and care of the Lord do I give you all up, breatheing for you (as for my own soul) that ye may be perfectly the Lord's
, perfectly given unto him, perfectly waiting upon him, and daily receiving into your precious vessels the precious living testimonies of his love and acceptance, and his sweet heavenly dews, which will exceedingly refresh and make your hearts glad, as he causeth them to descend and light upon you. So that which is of God in your hearts every day, wait to feel God breatheing upon, that it may open unto him, receive strength from him, and ye in it be more and more gathered and united to the Lord, even till ye wholly become one nature, mind, and spirit with him; and then ye will see the end of your travels, and fit down in his joy, and peace, and pure rest, from all labouring after life, and all sorrows for the want and absence of it, and all fears of losing or being feparated from it; being established in the power which is over all, and which preserveth all that are encompassed with it, and established in it, for ever and ever. From my present place of Confinement Your friend and brother, in the in Alisbury, according to the will of
meek innocent nature of the God; who is blessed, and to be blessed in all that he doth, or suffereth to be
Lamb, and in the begetdone: zzd of the 3d month 1666.
ting of the royal hea
Oh! my friends! prize the rich tender mercy of the Lord, in calling
you out of this world, towards his everlasting inheritance and fullness of life ! And let not any thing of this world come between him and you'; but let all that is of this worldly nature, both within and without, be trampled upon by you, and the price of the high calling of our God in Christ Jesus, be faithfully and earnestly pursued after ; chac none fall short of the hope and glory set before him, but that every one may so run, as certainly to obtain and enjoy for ever, even the dominion and reign of God over all that is contrary to him, and the fitting down in the rest, joy, and peace of his nature for evermore. Amen.
EPISTLE II. To Friends in Truth, in and about the Two Chalfonts.
H! let every foul wait to feel the pure life of God, that in that we
may wrestle with our tender Father, for the opening the depth of his bowels and tender mercy, that that may be brought forth in every vessel, and in the whole body, which may make the glory of his name shine, and may fill the vessels of his choice with the joy and pleasure of his salvation! Oh! that the pure measure of his life might be awakened and raised in your affemblies together, that ye might feel the pure fountain, the springs opening in you, the streams running through you, and every foul refreshed, filled, and satisfied; that ye might go away blessing his name, who hath taught you and given you hearts to wait upon him, and who sheweth you mercy, and giveth you acceptance in your waitings !
And, dear friends! watch, that life may be always fresh and favoury in you, to the seafoning of all your thoughts, words, conversations, and actions, that ye may feel the name of God written upon you, and his precious presence in you, and with you.
And in this freshness remember me, to whom the Lord hath given to remember and breathe for you, who am a prisoner, and have suffered many afflictions, because that of God which is in me cannot bow to that which is of man.
From Aylesbury prison, the 23d of
the Sixth month, 1666.
O tender and dearly-beloved friends,
Y spirit is at this time touched with the sense of the great good
ness and mercy of the Lord, infomuch as I feel breakings forth therein, and repeating there over and over again, Oh! what hath the Lord done for us, what hath the Lord done for us? For he hath not only given
us a sense and taste of the precious promises in the scripture, but hath allo led us in the way of the fulfilling of them. He hath manifested that to us, wherein not only the promise is made, but whereto also the promise is fulfilled. Which of you, that is open and fresh, doth not know the feed of life, the living principle, the light eternal, which leads out of death and darkness, into the land of the living, the holy land, wherein dwells peate and righteousness, the land which Aows with milk and honey, wherein are the vineyards which ye planted not, and the houses that ye built not, wherein the true vine grows, and its branches shoot forth and bear the right grapes ? Oh! my friends, do ye not know the Father which begat you, and the Son in whose image he hath begotten you, and his Spirit, which is the breath, strength, and power of your life? How hath the Lord God advanced you, a poor, afflicted, despited, persecuted remnant, above all kindreds, families, and professions of the earth? How nigh is the Lord your God unto you? Doth he not tabernacle and dwell in you? Do ye not feel him walking up and down, and taking delight in your spirits, who are separated from the unclean thing, and to whom subjection to him is become pleasant and natural. Oh! the Lord God give his people a sense what he is unto them in this day, and lead them along into their several possessions and inheritances, that they may sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, each in his portion in the holy land, and in the heavenly dwelling-places in Christ Jesus, which the souls of those that are redeemed by him are acquainted with and fit in.
It is on my heart to instance in some things a little more particularly, that the sense and remembrance of God's goodness to you herein, may come the nearer and closer to your spirits.
First, Have ye not had experience of the Lord's love and faithfulness in manifesting his name unto you, which ye have in some measure known, as pure, precious, and excellent, as a strong tower in case of danger and affaults from the enemy? And hath not the Lord taught you, by a secret inftinct of his Spirit and life in you, to retire and hide yourselves in this tower, from the violence and fury of the enemy? And have ye not always found relief, safety, and protection therein ? Indeed, when ye have gone out into your own thoughts, and consulted with the reasons of the fleshly mind, there ye have met with a wound and a hurt, and have lain open to the stroke of the betrayer and devourer; but the name of the Lord hath never deceired or diiappointed any of you that have trusted in it, relying upon his kindness, tenderness, mercy, love and faithfulness therein.
Secondly, Hath not the Lord given you a proportion of the pure heavenly patience, even of the Lamb's meekness and patience, and also given you to .possess your souls therein, wherein hath been felt a true measure of rest and peace with himn, in the midst of all the disturbances, fears, and troubles, both within and without ? And hath not this been an help and succour to you, even in the time of his judgments, wherein ye have been enabled to wait and lie ftill, until the 'indignation was over-past, and the mercy sprang afresh ? : Thirdly, Hath not God manifested to you the place of his worship, even so that ye know, and have often experienced it to be in his name, Spirit, -truth, and power? And hath he not prepared for you, and given to you, the pure offering and sacrifice, and accepted it at your hands ? And have ye not often, yea, may I not say always, felt his presence meeting there, and the refreshments which come from his presence in this day of his mercy, and of his tender visiting and refreshing his feed ?
Fourthly, Have ye not felt the word of his power shaking the mountains, breaking the rocks, and making the dark hard part in you, and the enemy
of your souls, to tremble at the sound of his voice? Yea, have ye not found thereby the stony heart in a great measure taken out of you, and a tender heart, an heart like Mesh, given you instead thereof, which hath melted and bowed before the Lord, and tenderly received the impressions of his Spirit?
Fiftbly, Have ye not found the laws of life, the laws of the new covenant written by the finger of God's Spirit in this new heart, so that ye could read the will and requirings of your God, by the light of his Spirit in the inner man?
Sixthly, Hath not he also put his Spirit within you, that ye have not only read the law written, but have also found a delight (and ability also in him) to do his will ? For the Lord hath not left you to do what he requires, according to the old covenant, but he himself worketh in you both to will and to do what is acceptable to him of his own good pleafure.
Seventbly, Have ye not found his fear put into your hearts, even a fear which no precepts of men can téach, nor ye can by no means attain to, -but as he pleafeth to give it you? And doth not this fear make you wise in him to depart from evil ? Doth it not cleanse out the evil? Doth it not keep out the evil ? Did ye not find this virtue in it at the very first, and do ye not still find it to this very day?
Eightbly, Do ye not find the blotting out of iniquity, and the not remembering of your fins by the Lord? Ah! how hath the Lord forgiven you? How doth the Lord pity you? How doth he bear with you? Do ye not know the place and state wherein mercy pleaseth him, and where he is never weary of pardoning, blotting out, and forgiving? Do ye not feel the sprinkling of the blood of the covenant daily by him upon your consciences, and the precious virtue thereof?:,:
Ninthly, Do ye not find the anointing near you, yea within you, ready to teach you to know the Lord, so that ye indeed know him, not according to outward names and apprehensions only, but his nature in his heavenly power, in his inward virtue, manifestations, operations, and appearances in you? And this is true knowledge indeed, pure knowledge," freih knowledge, living knowledge, which makes you conformable to, and brings you forth in, the image and likeness of what ye know. : - VOL. II.