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how can a man be certain concerning any work wrought in him, unless he be certain that it is he that works? How can I be certain concerning the knowledge given me, unless I be fure it be he that gives it? How can I be certain concerning any prayers or breathings arifing in my heart, unless I be sure they be from him? How can I understand any fcripture concerning Cnrift, or the knowledge of any fpiritual thing, unless I be fure he open it to me? And how can I be fure of any thing that he giveth or openeth to me, further than I know him, and have the true fenfe of him in his nature and operations? So then, if the Spirit be my leader, guide, teacher, instructor in the way of life, in the covenant of life, in the things of the kingdom, in the knowledge of fcriptures, &c, it is of great concernment to me to receive that ear and heart from God, which knows and understands his voice; for, for want of this, are all the defects, miftakes, miscarriages, and errors, in and about religion. But as men come to this, they come out of error into certainty, and know the one Chrift, the one faith, the one baptifm, the one body, the one church, and affembly of the first-born, the pure love, which is of and in the truth, the pure path of the kingdom, the way of holiness, which the ranfomed and redeemed walk in; yea, the Lord is One, and his name One among all that are here, and the pure One language, which is of the Spirit, wisdom, and teaching, is here received, and the One voice of the fhepherd heard, &c. But out of this are the janglings, ftrifes, contentions, debates, disputes; fubtil, wife, entangling reafonings of the earthly, one with another, and all as one against the heavenly and spiritual.
Query 8. Did not the meffage which Christ sent his apostles to preach, He that believeth and is baptized fhall be faved, contain the fum of the covenant? What doth God require of the foul, but believing in his Son (which includes repentance from the dead spirit and works), and receiving his baptifm? To be baptized into him, into his death, into his life, into his nature, into his fpirit; to take up his crofs, to bear his yoke, to be circumcifed in him and by him, that he may love the Lord his God with all his heart, that the power, virtue, and life of love may constrain him to live wholly in and to God. And then doth not the promise of falvation to him that believeth and is baptized into Chrift contain writing the law in the heart, putting the fear into the heart; putting the Spirit within to become the teacher, guide, ftrength, and comforter, and whatsoever else is neceffary to the foul in the way to the kingdom?
Query 9. How is God merciful to men's iniquities, and remembers their fins no more? Is it not in the covenant, and according to the covenant? Is there not a warfare to be accomplished before the foul come to witness the perfect blotting out of fin? Is not Chrift the Mediator, the judge to whom all judgment is committed? And doth not he judge his people for their tranfgreffions again the law of his Spirit and life? And muft not the foul, who will witness the days of refreshment, and the perfect blotting out
of fin therein, wait upon the Lord in the way of his judgments, even till fin be judged and brought under, and God's righteoufnefs perfectly revealed? Under Mofes's law every tranfgreffion received a juft recompence of reward, and shall he escape in the golpel who grieves the Spirit, who defpifes the Son, and gives ear to the enemy? Nay, nay; the fame covenant that holds forth mercy to the tender broken-hearted, to the believing, to the obedient, contains alfo righteous judgment against the tranfgreffor of this covenant. Yea, judgment begins at the house of God, and ceaseth not till that ceafe which judgment is to. The Lord fhall judge his people; fhall not Chrift judge his own family? Yes, yes; they that are of the family, and in the true fenfe, feel the Lord pleading with whatever is contrary to him in them, and they can rejoice therein, and fing of mercy and judgment, after the Lord hath done his work in them, and brought forth the quiet fruit of righteousness in their hearts thereby.
Bleffed is he that experienceth these things, witneffing that from the Lord which preferveth out of all mistakes and deceits about them.
ENQUIRY after TRUTH and RIGHTEOUSNESS,
After the People whom the LORD establisheth, and will establish therein;
In fome QUERIES on ISAIAH lviii. and alfo on Chap. liv.
Query 1. RE there any people to be found who exceed the state spoken A of in ver. 2. of feeking God daily, and delighting to know his ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forfook not the ordinance of their God? They afk of me, faid the Lord, the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching to God. Are there not many profeffions and forts of profeffors at this day, who in God's fight fall fhort of this state, and yet think highly of themselves? Yet these the prophet of the Lord was not to fpare; but to lift up his voice like a trumpet againft them, because of their tranfgreffion and fin which they committed, notwithstanding their thus daily feeking the Lord.
Query 2. What was the tranfgreffion and the fins which the prophet was not to spare them in, but lift up his voice like a trumpet against them for? Was it not (among other things) for their wrong fafting, their wrong afflicting their fouls, their wrong feeking of God, out of the meek, tender, merciful fpirit? Doth God require fuch fafting or praying of any man? Or will the Lord accept fuch fafting or praying at any man's hand? Ah! how many fast and pray at this day, who never rightly confidered, nor truly understood, what the faftings, and what the prayers are which God requireth, and which alone he will accept!
Query 3. What is the faft which God requireth, and will accept in all ages? Is not this it, To loofe the bands of wickedness, to undo the beavy burdens, to let the oppreffed go free, to break every yoke? &c. ver. 6, 7. Who can understand or learn this faft but he that is taught of God?
Query 4. Are there any whofe light breaks forth as the morning, and whofe health fprings forth fpeedily, and whofe righteousness goeth before them, and whom the glory of the Lord gathereth up, or is a reward to VOL. II.
(as is promised to those who obferve this faft), and whom the Lord is ready to hear and answer in all that they call upon him for, as ver. 8, 9. ? Doth not God teach his children in the new covenant to obferve this faft? And they who are taught by him to keep it (and do faithfully keep it), do they not inherit this promife?
Query 5. Are there any now among the fons of men, whofe light hath rifen in obfcurity, and whofe darkness hath become as noon-day? Whom the Lord guideth continually, and whofe foul he satisfieth in droughts, and makes fat their bones; and makes them like a watered garden, and like a fpring of water, whofe waters fail not? Surely if there be any, who are truly taught of the Lord to obferve that which leads hereto, they cannot mifs of enjoying thefe precious promifes; for he is faithful and true who hath promised, ver. 10, 11.
Query 6. Are there any at this day, whom God honoureth in building the old waste places, in raifing up the foundations of many generations; in repairing the breach, and reftoring the paths to dwell in ? What are the paths that are to be dwelt in? Are they not the same which the foul is to walk in? Is not the juft man's path and his dwelling-place all one, even the light of the living, which he is both to walk and abide in? See 1 John i. 7. and Prov. iv. 18.
It is faid concerning Chrift, He that faith he abideth in him, ought himself alfo fo to walk, even as he walked, 1 John ii. 6. How did Chrift walk? Did he not walk in the light of God's Spirit? In fubjection to God's Spirit? Was not the fulness given him? Was not the Father always with him? And did not he act in the Father, and the Father in and through him? Now, doth not he give forth a measure of the fame Spirit, of the fame anointing, of the fame power to become fons, unto all his? and are not they to walk according to the measure of light and life they receive from him? And he that walks according to this rule, can he err in fo walking? Is not this the pure path, the living path, the path for the ranfomed in the days of the gospel, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit; not in the oldness of the letter, but in the newness of the Spirit? Oh! that men could confider this with the true understanding, and know the way of life in the true sense and experience thereof! That which enlightens and gives life to my foul, is fomewhat from Chrift, even a measure or appearance of his pure Spirit; it is no lefs: and the law of life written inwardly is more to the foul than words written outwardly, though all the words that ever come from God's Holy Spirit are very precious, and greatly useful, to thofe to whom he vouchfafeth to give the understanding of them.
Query 7. What is the fabbath fpoken of, ver. 13.? Is it the law-fabbath, or the gofpel-fabbath? Is it inferior in nature to the faft before-mentioned? What is God's holy day, which is the foul's delight, the holy of
the Lord, honourable, wherein the foul's that enter into the true rest (by faith in him who is life) honour the Lord, in ceafing from their own ways, pleasures, and words? See alfo Heb. iv. 3. and 10.
Query 8. They that keep God's holy fabbath, do they not delight themfelves in the Lord? Do they not feel the pleasure of his day, and of his appearance in his day? Are not thefe of the true feed of Jacob (who prevail with the Lord for the bleffing)? And doth not the Lord feed them with the heritage of Jacob their Father, even with the blessing of the covenant of life and peace for evermore.
Query 1.. 'S there fuch a ftate to be witneffed, either in the particular, or in the general, wherein the womb that was barren fhall travail and bear, and fing for joy of heart and fpirit before the Lord? See ver. 1. Query 2. Is there fuch a state to be witneffed, as of the Maker to become the husband? Is not this a glorious ftate indeed, and a name better than of fons and daughters, fignifying nearer intimacy and union than any other relation with the Holy One, the redeemer of Ifrael? And do not fuch as come to this ftate (even to be married to the Lamb), partake more abundantly of his redeeming power and holy prefence? See ver. 6.
Query 3. Are there fome fo vifited and redeemed by the Lord, as that they fhall never be caft off more, as that the floods of wrath fhall never overtake them more, nor the covenant of their peace be removed? Ah! precious ftate! Bleffed are they doubtlefs, who have been fo vifited and redeemed by God's mercy, as to be made partakers of it.
Query 4. Who is this that hath been afflicted, toffed with tempeft, and not comforted? Have there been any fuch in our days, who have been. deeply afflicted, for want of the prefence of the Lord God of their life, who have been toffed up and down with tempeft after tempeft, and could meet with no comforter to fpeak a word in feafon to their weary fouls? And S 2.