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in the everlafting ordinance, which is the pure light of his Son; which was before the letter, brings the foul nearer to the Lord than the letter can, and gives a fuller communion with the Lord in Spirit, than can be had or enjoyed through words or conceptions of things. And the end of the letter's teftimony is to bring into the Spirit and power, which is the administration of the gospel.
Concerning inward Impreffions.
LL the impreffions which are from the holy pure power of the living God, are of the gospel administration, and are of great ufe and virtue; and he that is gathered out of the dark power, into the pure power of God, who is light, and who gathers into the light, by the meffage and miniftration of the gofpel, in that light hath a difcerning of the power into which he is gathered, from the power out of which he is gathered. And here he neither can nor dares receive any impreffion of the dark fpirit and power (which is known and experienced to work in great fubtilty and deceiveableness) nor refufe any motion or impreffion which is of the Pure and. Holy One. But ye lay the great ftrefs upon owning, do&rinals according. to your apprehenfions of them; whereas ye muft come much further out of Babylon, out of man's spirit and wifdom, more into the pure fear and waiting upon God, more into the fenfe and power of truth, and into the light and knowledge which is thereof, before your doctrinals can be owned and subscribed to, by that which is of God. And this fprings in my heart in true love, and tendernefs, and melting bowels concerning you: Oh! that ye held the head! I queftion not, but that ye hold notions about the head, according to your understanding of things; but to hold the head is a far deeper thing than fo.
As for that paffage about communion with God, apply it; Oh! apply it, or rather wait for the Spirit of the Lord to apply it close to your hearts! For it is poffible, by his light and Spirit in his own due feafon, he may may make manifeft to you, that much of that which goeth with you for communion with God, is not really fo: and, indeed, in the true love and upright tenderness of my heart towards you, I would not have you mistaken about these things. As for raptures, the error is eafy; but in that which lies low in the pure fear is the prefervation. And, friend; I pray confider this queftion, which now is in my heart to thee. Thou fpeakeft of departing from the faith: Ah! friend, art thou yet come to the faith? Do not aniwer it flightly; for I put it not flightly to thee, nor without a caufe. For through the faith of the Son of God, an other-guife knowledge and fenfe of things, in this day of the Lord's power, is received, than thou hast yet attained.
That a man's doctrinals are right according to fcripture in all the main substantials, is no infallible rule to try what power it is that works in him,,
or what his spirit is; because deceit works in a mystery; and the fpirit of error may come in fheep's cloathing, and may get good words and fair fpeeches to deceive the hearts of the fimple. And there were those that held a form of godlinefs, and had not the true power, but denied it; and fuch were to be turned from; because, denying the true power, they denied the Lord that bought them, and so held not the head; and he that doth fo, whatsoever he holds of the doctrine of fcriptures, hath fufficient caufe to queftion his communion with God, and alfo the truth of his ravishments and fpiritual enjoyments, and all his duties and graces.
Again; a man may apprehend his doctrinals to be right, as to the main substantials, when indeed they are not fo. For the doctrines of the gospel are mysteries. Faith is a mystery; the love of and in the Spirit a mystery; obedience to the truth a mystery; the right confeffion of Chrift in and thro' the Spirit a mystery; the worship of God in Spirit a mystery; juftification, fanctification, and the peace and joy of the Spirit, myfteries of the kingdom, &c. and it is eafy miffing and mifunderstanding these things, but hard to come to the true knowledge of them; and if any of the true, inward, fpiritual knowledge of these things be received at any time, it is hard retaining it, nay impoffible rightly fo to do, but in that which gave it. And indeed this is the great mystery of religion; to wit, to begin in the Spirit, and fo to travel on in the pure light, life, and knowledge thereof, and not to entertain or mix with any thing of the flesh. But now if a man have not the Spirit of Chrift, or if he be not able to diftinguish the Spirit of Chrift, in its voice, motions, and workings, from the other Spirit, and from his own wifdom and understanding; when he reads a fcripture, he may easily err and mistake about the doctrines thereof, and let in fomewhat of his own, or the other fpirit's forming, inftead of that which is the pure truth of God. And then this which he hath fo let in, will cause him to misjudge concerning the truth, when God manifefts and brings it forth purely and unmixedly in others, and make him a great enemy to it.
This was the cafe of the Scribes and Pharifees and great priests, in the time of Chrift; they ftudied the law, gave interpretations of it, being appointed by God to preferve the people's knowledge; and by their undertanding of the law and prophets, Chrift could not be the Meffiah; for, plainly, that appearance of his difagreed with the law and the prophets, according to their understanding of them. Chrift was to abide for ever; but he faid, the Son of man muft be lifted up. Yea, the very difciples themselves understood not this for a long time: and if the fenfe of the life and power of the Father in him, had not bowed down their fpirits, they also would have reasoned against him in many things. When Chrift cometh, no man knoweth whence he is: but we know this man whence he is. And when Nichodemus (who was touched with the fenfe of his power) feemed to favour him; what faid they to him? Search and look, for out of Galilee arifeth no prophet. And they themselves, in fearching, and looking, and try
ing by the fcriptures, found him not agree with Mofes, and the law which he had given from God (who they faid they knew was of God): but whereas Mofes had given a ftrict command about the fabbath, upon which there was no work to be done, nor burthen borne, &c. he, on the other hand, bids a man take up his bed and walk on the fabbath day. How could this be the Meffiah, of whom Mofes wrote (would they fay in their hearts)? Would he teach and practife contrary to Mofes ? So that there is no certain trying by the fcriptures, further than a man is certain that he hath the underftanding of thofe fcriptures which he trieth by, from God's Spirit. For was not this plain to them, that no burthen was to be borne on the fabbath? And do they not herein (according to their understandings and knowledge of the fcripture) find Chrift contrary to Mofes and the prophets? What then would follow naturally? A deceiver! a deceiver, would they presently cry. He cannot be of God; let him talk of what power he will, it cannot be God's power: we need a further fign from him, before we can believe him to be the Meffiah.
But the way of trying doctrines by the unerring Spirit, and pure light of truth in the heart, is certain and infallible. He who is truth, and no lye, never deceives about truth; yea, the very inftinct of his life and nature diftinguishes things truly, and never teaches the heart to err, who is acquainted with it, and keepeth to it. And what is the Spirit which is given, and why is he given? Is he not above the letter? And where he is received, is he not to be acknowledged above it? Is not his law of light, written by his finger in the heart, above any literal defcription or command of it? We muft fet the Spirit above the fcriptures, and the miniftration of the Spirit above the miniftration of the letter. We cannot be clear before the Lord, in giving way to any profeffors on the earth herein, but muft teftify for God against them. Yea, he that hath received the anointing, and knoweth how it teacheth, and how it preferveth from all that feduceth, cannot but give the honour to it, and acknowledge that it is the great ordinance of God in the gospel, even above and beyond the letter. And till he is fo known and received, men can never be able to diftinguifh the truths of God, as held forth by him in the fcriptures of truth, from their own conceivings and apprehenfions about things, but will be ready to take their own apprehenfions and conceivings for truth; and having fo done, they cannot but miif-fee, mistake, and misjudge about that which is truth indeed. So that the doctrine which they thus fet up, is not indeed the doctrine of truth according to the fcriptures, but rather that which they conceive and have imagined fo to be.
So that, whereas thou fayeft, "Your religion confifts, first, of right apprehenfions, &c." we, on the other hand, cannot but teftify, as we have been convinced by the Lord, and felt and understood in him that is true, that a man must first receive the Spirit, before he can have right apprehenfions about the mystery of God, Chrift, &c. because the Spirit fearcheth the Nnn
deep things of God; and the things of God knows no man but by the Spirit; therefore, there is a neceffity for people first to be turned to the Spirit of God, as being the first step in the way to true faving knowledge.
Concerning the Light.
HRIST, who had all power given him by the Father, and authority to fend forth meffengers to preach the gofpel of his falvation, he fent forth his apoftles and fervants to teftify and declare of it.
That which they were to preach and testify of, was, That which was from the beginning; even the eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifefted unto them. And this is the meffage which they heard of him, and were to declare to others, That God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. "And this word of faith, this word which was from the beginning, this word which reconciles the foul to God, they were to preach, as near in the heart and in the mouth. And the intent of their preaching and teftifying of this, was to turn men to it; from the darkness within to the light within; from the power of Satan within, to the power of God within. Thus was the gofpel preached before the apoftafy, and thus is it again preached after the apoftafy; and this light, this life, this power of the invifible word, is wit neffed again to become the falvation, as it was before the apoftafy.
Now here, being turned to this, this difcovers the darkness, the loft eftate, the captivity, the bands, the mifery of the foul, and gives to long after the Saviour; and not only fo, but it alfo fheweth the Saviour whom it causeth the foul to long after; and in the waiting upon the Saviour in the light which is of him, giveth to partake of his falvation.
And fo here we come to have that work of God renewed in our hearts and fpirits, which at any time was formerly wrought; and wrought more clearly and effectually; as it must needs be, as the mind is turned toward and gathered into the pure light, life, and power. And in this we are taught to own Chrift, as he appeared in that body of flesh, and what he did in the life and virtue of the Father; yea, the precioufnefs of that his facrifice, both in its own nature, and in the eye of the Father; and we bless the Lord for him, and believe in the Father through him. Yea, we bless the Lord for the declarations of the good things in the fcriptures, and read them with joy and thankfulness to the Father, and in the watch against that which would imagine about them; for we know any fuch thing (let into the mind) darkens. So that we do not fall fhort in a true owning of Chrift, as he appeared in that body; and also we know and own the fame word of eternal life appearing in us; fo that we can fay truly with the apoftle, it bath pleafed the Father to reveal the Son in us, and it is the eternal life, it is the Son indeed of the Holy God, and not another.
Now, for that way of working which thou speakest of, of feeing a man's nakedness, filthiness, wretched, loft, undone condition; of being convinced
of his own impotency; that his help is not in himself; that all his righteoufness is as filthy rags; of crying out, what fhall I do! Woe is me, I am undone! What fhall I do to be faved? How fhall I appear before the Lord?. And fo of mourning in fecret, and the fore running, &c. and the discovery of Chrift, as was in that day, as offered without money, without price, &c. and fo the foul's humble and cordial cafting itself upon him, &c. and defiring to know him, not only as a Saviour, but as a Lord also, reigning over it, &c. All this we knew, in the true and fenfible experience, as it was revealed in that day. But we knew not the word of life within to be the word (though we felt operations from it); and fo were not founded upon the rock, upon the word of life, as revealed within; and fo when the ftorms. came, they had greater power upon our fpirits than we believed they could poffibly have. And now in the Lord's fresh vifiting of us, we have not loft any thing we had before, nor do deny any thing that God wrought in us then; but have it again with advantage, and precious additions, from the Lord God, in that pure light of life wherewith he hath vifited us.
And now God having demonftrated this thing to us, fhewing us what it is, and giving us to partake of the precious virtues of it; how can we call it lefs than a measure of Chrift, of his Spirit; than the feed of the kingdom, than the heavenly leaven, &c.? knowing and experiencing it affuredly to be that very thing which Chrift fo called in his parables; and that in you which is offended at us for it, we know to be not the true birth, but the birth of another wisdom, which is to be cast out with its mother: and it will be a happy day with you, if ever ye come to witnefs the cafting of it out; which ye can never do, till ye come to know, and own, and be fubject to, Chrift within, to the pure commandment and Word of life in the heart, to the law which cometh out of Sion, and to the testimony and word of the Lord from Jerufalem. And they that come not to know it caft out of them by the power, they thereby will be caft out with it.
But that there are fome glimmerings of light remaining in fallen man, directing concerning many things morally good, as to honour parents, to deal justly, to do as we would be done unto, &c. there is, thou fayest, a light difcovering these things as duties, and the contrary to be evil, and there is alfo fome answerable ftrength to come up to fuch moralities. If thou meanest a light diftinct from the Spirit and divine nature of God, I defire thee to manifeft it from fcripture: for Adam was to die the death that very day that he finned. And the death and curfe came upon his pofterity, who are dead in trefpaffes and fins; but the light that discovers and leads out of evil is from Chrift. That which maketh fin manifeft, is his light. I read that the grace which bringeth falvation, hath appeared to all men; and that that teaches men to deny ungodlinefs and worldly lufts, and gives them ftrength fo to do; and that it is the work of the Spirit to convince of fin; and that the Spirit of the Lord strived with the old world to reduce them from their evil ways; and that he gave the Jews hts good Non 2