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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 fpringing up and abounding in you. What is it to have a diftinct name, or distinct meetings from the world, unless the power of the Lord be felt in your. hearts, and his prefence in your affemblies? 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 careleffnefs, 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 fleshly nature, defires, or lufts, to entertain any thing of that any more, which ye have parted with in the demonstrations and leading of life, but ftill preffing on further and further, till ye come to apprehend and be poffeffed of that, for which ye have been apprehended by God, and drawn in fome 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 fimplicity, uprightness, and fenfe of his life, out of the reach of that wisdom, which is ever and anon forming reafonings in the heart againft it, and ftriving to darken, and make the plain way of God intricate to the foul!
My life often reacheth to you, my foul exceedingly longeth after you! And in the ftirrings of the fame life be ye alfo helpful to me, crying to the Lord for me, that I may abide with him, feel his prefervation, and dwell in that which he hath chofen to appear to and refresh the foul in, that 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 earthlinefs and corruption in any of you, and watering and cherishing his own plant in you all, that ye may daily witnefs the dying and decreafe of the one, and the quickening and growth of the other, even till death be perfectly confumed and fwallowed up by the growth, power, and prefence of the immortal life in you, and your fouls fafe and happy in your God.
And fo to the tender mercies and care of the Lord do I give you all up, breatheing for you (as for my own foul) that ye may be perfectly the Lord's, perfectly given unto him, perfectly waiting upon him, and daily receiving into your precious veffels the precious living teftimonies of his love and acceptance, and his fweet heavenly dews, which will exceedingly refresh and make your hearts glad, as he caufeth them to defcend 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 ftrength 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 fee the end of your travels, and fit down in his joy, and peace, and pure reft, from all labouring after life, and all forrows for the want and absence of it, and all fears of lofing or being feparated from it; being established in the power which is over all, and which preferveth all that are encompaffed with it, and established in it, for ever and ever.
From my prefent place of Confinement
in Alisbury, according to the will of God; who is bleffed, and to be blessed in all that he doth, or suffereth to be done: zzd of the 3d month 1666.
Your friend and brother, in the meek innocent nature of the Lamb, and in the begetting of the royal heavenly life,
my friends! prize the rich tender mercy of the Lord, in calling you out of this world, towards his everlafting 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 Chrift Jefus, be faithfully and earnestly purfued after; that none fall short of the hope and glory fet before him, but that every one may fo 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 reft, joy, and peace of his nature for evermore. Amen.
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 veffel, and in the whole body, which may make the glory of his name fhine, and may fill the veffels of his choice with the joy and pleasure of his falvation! 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 fprings opening in you, the ftreams running through you, and every foul refreshed, filled, and fatisfied; that ye might go away bleffing his name, who hath taught you and given you hearts to wait upon him, and who fheweth 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 feafoning of all your thoughts, words, converfations, and actions, that ye may feel the name of God written upon you, and his precious prefence 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 prifoner, and have fuffered many afflictions, because that of God which is in me cannot bow to that which is of man.
From Aylesbury prifon, the 23d of
To diligent and faithful Friends, in and about the
O tender and dearly-beloved friends,
Y fpirit is at this time touched with the fenfe of the great goodnefs 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 fenfe and taste of the precious promises in the fcripture, but hath allo led us in the way of the fulfilling of them. He hath manifefted that to us, wherein not only the promife is made, but whereto alfo 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 peace and righteoufnefs, the land which flows 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 fhoot forth and bear the right grapes? Oh! my friends, do ye not know the Father which begat you, and the Son in whofe image he hath begotten you, and his Spirit, which is the breath, ftrength, and power of your life? How hath the Lord God advanced you, a poor, afflicted, defpifed, perfecuted remnant, above all kindreds, families, and profeffions 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 fpirits, who are feparated from the unclean thing, and to whom fubjection to him is become pleasant and natural. Oh! the Lord God give his people a fenfe what he is unto them in this day, and lead them along into their feveral poffeffions and inheritances, that they may fit down with Abraham, Ifaac, and Jacob, each in his portion in the holy land, and in the heavenly dwelling-places in Chrift Jefus, which the fouls of thofe that are redeemed by him are acquainted with and fit in.
It is on my heart to inftance in fome things a little more particularly, that the fenfe and remembrance of God's goodness to you herein, may come the nearer and closer to your fpirits.
First, Have ye not had experience of the Lord's love and faithfulness in manifefting his name unto you, which ye have in fome measure known, as pure, precious, and excellent, as a strong tower in cafe of danger and affaults from the enemy? And hath not the Lord taught you, by a fecret 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, fafety, and protection therein? Indeed, when ye have gone out into your own thoughts, and confulted with the reafons 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 deceived or disappointed any of you that have trufted 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 meeknefs and patience, and alfo given you to poffefs your fouls therein, wherein hath been felt a true measure of reft and peace with him, in the midst of all the disturbances, fears, and troubles, both within and without? And hath not this been an help and fuccour to you, even in the time of his judgments, wherein ye have been enabled to
wait and lie ftill, until the indignation was over-paft, and the mercy sprang afresh?
Thirdly, Hath not God manifefted to you the place of his worship, even fo 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 facrifice, and accepted it at your hands? And have -ye not often, yea, may I not fay always, felt his prefence meeting there, and the refreshments which come from his prefence 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 fouls, to tremble at the found of his voice? Yea, have ye not found thereby the ftony heart in a great measure taken out of you, and a tender heart, an heart like flesh, given you instead thereof, which hath melted and bowed before the Lord, and tenderly received the impreffions of his Spirit?
Fifthly, 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, fo that ye could read the will and requirings of your God, by the light of his Spirit in the
Sixthly, Hath not he also put his Spirit within you, that ye have not only read the law written, but have alfo found a delight (and ability alfo 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.
Seventhly, Have ye not found his fear put into your hearts, even a fear which no precepts of men can teach, nor ye can by no means attain to, -but as he pleaseth to give it you? And doth not this fear make you wise in him to depart from evil? Doth it not cleanfe out the evil? Doth it not keep out the evil? Did ye not find this virtue in it at the very firft, and do ye not ftill find it to this very day?
Eighthly, 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 ftate wherein mercy pleafeth him, and where he is never weary of pardoning, blotting out, and forgiving? Do ye not feel the fprinkling of the blood of the covenant daily by him upon your confciences, 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, fo that ye indeed know him, not according to outward names and apprehenfions only, but his nature in his heavenly power, in his inward virtue, manifeftations, operations, and appearances in you? And this is true knowledge indeed, pure knowledge, fresh knowledge, living knowledge, which makes you conformable to, and brings you forth in, the image and likeness of what ye know.
- VOL. II.