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P R E FACE.
a THIS is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true
and Jefus Christ whom thou hast sent.” Father fend? Did he 'not send the Son of his love ? From whence did he send him? Did he not send him out of his own bosom? Whither did he send him ? Did he not send him into the world, to take upon him a body, and glorify the name of the Father, doing his will therein ? He laid down his glorý, stripping himself of the form of God, and appearing in habit as a man, in their raiment, with their garment upon him; in which, as a servant, the feed (the heir of all) served the Father. And now his work being as good as done, he looks back at the glory which he had laid down for the Father's fake, looking up to the Father for the restoring of it to him again. “ I have glorified thee on the earth,” faith he, “ I have finished o the work which thou gavest me to do. And now, O Father, glorify “ thou me with thine own self, with the glory which I had with thee be“ fore the world was,” John xvii. 4, 5.
Now having sought and travelled (from my childhood) after the true knowledge of God, and of his Christ; and having been fatisfied with nothing else that ever I could meet with, and having at length (through the tender mercy of the Lord, and guidance of his Spirit) met with this, and been satisfied therewith, finding it to be the eternal life, the true food, the living power,
the pure rest, the joy and salvation of my soul, I cannot but testify it to those that lay out their money for that which is not bread, and their labour for that which satisfieth not.
We (some of us, at least) laid out as much of our money as others, who now despise us, have done; and as much of our labour; and (I may speak it in the fear of the Lord, and in true sense, without boasting) some of us had as much of that which they feed on, and call bread, as they have now. Yet when the Lord brought us to the true balance, we found it not to be bread, nor able to give the soul true satisfaction. The bread was not that
which we then called bread, but that which we overlooked, and wist not what it was. But the eternal life which was hid with the Father, and is manifested in the Son, and made known to the foul (as the Son is manifested to it, and revealed in it) that is bread indeed, that is meat which perisheth not, but will endure when all literal and outward knowledge of God and Christ fails, and will fall short of satisfying that hunger of the soul, which is after the substance itself.
Now to draw mens minds to a sense of truth, to a sense of that which is the thing, that they might know the bread indeed, that they might know the living waters, come to them and drink thereof, and find Christ in them a well of water springing up to eternal life; therefore was it in my heart to give forth this question, and the ensuing queries; which he that rightly anIwers, must know the thing; and he that doth not rightly know the thing, by his inability to answer, may find that he doth not, and so may wait upon God that he may receive the knowledge of it, and come to it for the eternal life which it freely giveth.
The Jews were puzzled with a literal knowledge of the law and prophets, and about the Meßiah to come, according to their understanding of the prophecies concerning him, and so were kept from the true knowledge thereby. Most forts of those that now profefs Christ, are puzzled about a knowledge concerning the outward body, fesh, and blood of Christ, according as they apprehend the scriptures to speak; and so the veil is over their hearts likewise, and they cannot see the eternal life and substance, no more than the Jews, but by an outward literal knowledge are kept back from the thing, as the Jews were. Now the breathing of my heart to the Lord is, To take away the veil of all hearts that sincerely desire after truth, and to open the the true eye in them, that they may see the desire and beloved of their souls, and may be led by him into the true travel, out of felf, towards the kingdom; yea, into the very land of the living, where the food of life is fed upon, where the living springs flow, where are vineyards which we planted not, and dwelling-places which we built not, where the fruit of the vine of God's planting (the wine of the kingdom) is drunk of, even new in the kingdom, with the Father and Son in the Spirit, who are One and All there.
The Lord give a sense and understanding, that the ear of the needy, the afflicted in spirit, the mourners, the captives, the bowed down may hear, and may be drawn to touch that which hath the virtue in it, and which effectually redeemeth those that wait upon it, from all that boweth down and oppreffeth.
QU E S T I ON
PROFESSORS of CHRISTIANITY.
HE Question is not, whether they know what is said of Christ in the scriptures; but whether they know it savingly, truly, livingly,
powerfully? Yea, they may know what is said of him, and yet not know him of whom those things are said. As it was with the Scribes and Pharisees; they knew what was said of Christ in the law and prophets ; but they knew not himself, when he appeared in that body of Aesh. So men may now know what the apostles and the evangelists have said concerning his appearance in a body of Meth (concerning his birth, circumcision, baptism, preaching, doctrine, miracles, death, resurrection, ascension, intercession, &c.), and yet not know him of whom these things are said. Yea, they may know what is said concerning the word which was from the beginning, and yet not know the word, the power, the life itself.
Since the prevailing of the apostles testimony, the way of the enemy hath not been directly to deny Chrift, but to bring men into such a knowledge of Christ, as faves not. And as the enemy did own Christ, when he appeared in that body of Aesh, saying, I know thee who thou art, the holy one of God; fo he hath found it for his advantage, almost ever since, to own that appearance of his. So that this he doth not oppose, nor mens knowledge and understanding of scriptures, so as to confirm them in this. But the saving knowledge, the true knowledge, the living knowledge, the powerful knowledge of truth, that he always opposeth; for that alone overturns and destroys his kingdom in man, and brings man from out of his reach.
Now there is a vast difference between knowing the relations concerning a thing, and knowing the thing related of. And there is also a great deal of difference between believing the relations concerning a thing, and believing in the thing which is related of.
Spiritual things cannot be savingly known, but in union with them, in the receiving of them. A man can never really know the Spirit of God, by all that can be said concerning it, but he must first feel somewhat of it, whereby he may truly know it. So the
So the peace, the joy, the life, the power, they pass the understanding; and a man can never rightly know them bý reading, or comprehending ever so much concerning them; but by coming out of himself, and travelling thither where they are given and made manifeft, he may come into acquaintance with them. And if the peace which Christ gives, the joy, the life, the power, cannot be thus known by literal descriptions ; how can he, who is the fullness of all, the fountain of them all, the treasury of all perfection, in whom are hid all the riches and treasures of wisdom and knowledge; how can he be known by outward and literal descriptions ?
Now we have travelled through these things. We knew formerly what ye know now; and we also know now, what God hath given us further; and what our former knowledge was, and what our present knowledge is. And this is it which gives us satisfaction.
Our knowledge is in a principle, wherein we receive our capacity of knowing, and wherein the Father (from whom the principle came) teacheth us. And this is his way of teaching us; by making us one with the thing he teacheth. Thus we learn Christ, by being born of him, by putting him Thus we know his righteousness
, his life, his wisdom, his power, by receiving a proportion of them, which giveth an ability to discern and acknowledge the fullness. And in this we receive the understanding of the scriptures, and know the feed of the woman (which bruiseth the serpent's head), by receiving the seed, by feeling its growth in us, and its power over the enemy. Then we know the thing; likewise we know the woman that brings forth this feed after the Spirit, which is the Jerusalem above; and we know also, and singly acknowledge, the bringing forth of it outwardly after the flesh. This seed we know to be the feed of Abraham, the feed of David after the flesh, and the seed of God after the power of the endless life ; and we are taught of God to give the due honour to each ; to the feed of God in the first place, to the seed of David in the second place. There was the feed that wrought the thing, which seed was the life; and the feed in which he wrought it, which was formed into a vessel like ours, but without fin, in which the pure Lamb appeared in the pure power of life, which kept the vessel pure; and so he (who was to be the first fruits) had the honour above all his brethren, being anointed with the oil of gladness above his fellows.
But we also are born of the same seed. He is formed in us, we are formed of him; we are as well of his felh and blood, as he was of ours. And by being thus formed, and feeling him grow up in us, and receiving
an understanding from him, and in him, thus we come to know him, and to understand the words of scripture concerning him. By feeling and knowing the Lamb in our vessels, we know also what was the Lamb in his veffel.
Thus we know things in the certainty and demonstration of God's Spirit, even in the light which shines from him, and in the life which he begets; and we speak of things as they are, and as we feel them to be in the true life, which the Spirit of Christ hath begotten in us. And we can truly fay concerning the fcriptures, That now we believe, not so much because of the relation of things concerning Christ, which we have found in them; but because we have seen and received the thing which the scriptures speak of, and find it to be the very thing indeed, the very Christ of God, the spotless one, the living garment of righteousness and falvation, wherein God findeth no fault, and in which the foul appears without blame before him. And concerning this, can we speak words of its nature, words of its virtue, words of its life, power, and righteousness; which that which is of the flesh cannot hear, but that which is born of God, naturally owneth and underftandeth. Why so? Because it knoweth the nature of the thing, and receiveth them in the favour thereof. Can life deny life? Can the birth of life deny that which springs out of the same womb ? No, no. The children which are born of wisdom, do justify wisdom in its several sproutings forth and appearances; but that which denies it, is a birth after the letter, a birth after the literal and outward knowledge of things, a birth of the comprehending wisdom ; that indeed reproacheth and blafphemeth the incomprehensible wisdom, in its incomprehensible ways, and would restrain life to what they apprehend, or can comprehend by the letter concerning it.
And this may be a great evidence to professors, that they know not indeed Christ in his nature, Spirit, life, and power ; because they speak not of him as persons who feel the thing, and speak from the present sense of it, and acquaintance with it, but only as persons that bring forth a notion they have received into their understandings. And yet they fail therein alfo; for they speak not of Christ according as the scriptures hold him forth, compared one with another, but as they have grosly apprehended concerning him from some scriptures, as the Jews outward did. For the scriptures speak not only of a body, but also of him that appeared in the body; nor only of bodily flesh, blood, and bones, but also of such filesh and bones, whereof Christ and his church confift. He is Christ (say the scriptures) who is one with the Father, who came from the Father, in whom the Father was, and who was in the Father ; fo faid Jesus of himself (lifting up his eyes to heaven, and praying to the Father of his disciples, and the children whom the Father had given him) more than once in that seventeenth chapter of John. Yea he is Christ, whom a man cannot see, but he must see the Father also; and whom, whosoever feeth the Father, seeth ; who was before