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To the Third.
God did threaten the Gentiles (wishing them to take heed of boafting against the Jews) that if they did not continue in the faith, and in the fear, they fhould be cut off, as the Jews were. Now there was a great and general departing from the faith, and answerably a general cutting off. And though life was referved in a felect number in the wilderness; yet the true way of gathering into churches and the church-ftate fell. And now being fallen, the Lord alone is able to rebuild, as he built at firft. Now men reading the fcriptures of the glory of the former church-ftate, have been longing after it (which was good), but withal too forward to thrust themfelves into it, and build by imitation, without the clear fight, leadings, and guidance of the Spirit; and fo have not built up in the fame life and power by which the building was at firft, and can alone be truly raised again. Now the Lord being come forth in his power, and raifing up his own building, the fame Spirit that raifeth up that, teftifieth againft all the other, which are raised up without it. And indeed the testimony against the prefent churches and congregations gathered out of the power, is God's, not But confider feriously; John had a reed given him to measure the temple, &c. when part was to be referved for God, and part to be given to the Gentiles. But who gave you power to gather churches, or practife those which ye call church-ordinances? Who hath required these things at your hands? And where doft thou read, that the Gentiles did tread down the outward court after it was given them? They trod down the holy city indeed forty-two months.
To the Fourth.
So far as you fee, hear, tafte, feel any thing in the pure light of the truth, as it is in Jefus, we rejoice therein; and heartily defire the increase thereof in you: but we would not have you mistaken about these things.
To the Fifth.
Concerning the word or commandment which Mofes fpeaks of, and which Paul faid was the word of faith which they preached.
If the first covenant had been faultlefs, there had not been place left for a fecond. For if there had been a law given, which would have given life, righteoufnefs fhould have been by that law. But notwithstanding the wonders which God did in Egypt and the wilderness, and the giving the law and ordinances, &c. yet the veil was upon them, and the Lord had not given them an heart to perceive, nor eyes to fee, nor ears to bear, to that very day, Deut. xxix. 4. Well then, there was a neceffity of a another covenant; and these words which Mofes now fpeaks to them from God, were words concerning another covenant befides that made in Horeb.
But where is the commandment of this covenant? Where is the law of this covenant? Where is the Word of this covenant? It is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that thou fhouldft fay, Who fhall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? Neither is it beyond the fea; but the Word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayeft do it. And this nigh Word of the other covenant, whereby God circumcifeth the heart, to love the Lord God with all the heart, is the Word eternal, and no other; who hath received this power of the Father, and none elfe hath received it: and in the obedience to him, his righteoufnefs is revealed and received, and made the foul's, from faith to faith. And it is in vain for you to think to blind our eyes either concerning this fcripture, or concerning the thing itfelf which this fcripture teftifies of; God having opened the eye and heart, which fees and knows, and which in the true light, which is from and of the Word, fees him who is invisible and eternal, even the life, holy power, wifdom, and righteoufnefs, which was in and with the Father before the world was. And this was the Word, before it took up the body of flesh, and is ftill the Word, and no other; and its commandment is life eternal; in the pure faith whereof, and in the pure obedience whereto, he giveth life abundantly: but out of the faith and obedience thereto, he doth neither give life, nor the juftification of life; but the deceits of the enemy there prevail in mens minds concerning these things,
Now had the Jews under the law come to this Word, they had by the light thereof understood the law, and by the power thereof fulfilled it. And when Chrift and the apoftles preached, had they that heard, felt this Word, they could not but in their hearts have believed him to be the Lord, and alfo have confefied his refurrection from the dead; which, in that day, it was a great thing to confefs, being not revealed by flefh and blood; nor the teftimony then cafily fwallowed by the fleshly and earthly part, but generally oppofed by it. But now these things are received and acknowledged by multitudes without the power; and as fo received, are of no value, nor can fave; but the owning and receiving, and being born of the Spirit, life, and power (which was in him) faves, and gives fuch an acknowledgment of these things, as is of the life and power, and accepted with the Fa
But, alas! friend, how haft thou wrefted and perverted this fcripture, turning afide the intent of God's Spirit, and putting thine own meaning upon his words, ftriving to make them fpeak what thou wouldst have them! Is this reading of the fcriptures in reverence, humility, and godly fear? Oh! that God would give thee a sense of what thou haft done herein! For neither Moles nor Paul doth thus reftrain them, nor mention any fuch fort of people as thou fpeakeft of; but thou, by thy expofition, makest void the mind of God, and the drift of his Spirit in the fcriptures. If thou haft, in this wisdom and latitude of thy own fpirit, read the fcriptures, not know
ing God's Spirit to gird and limit thee from thine own apprehendings and conceivings, what kind of rule haft thou made to thyself out of them? Ah! friend, if thou knoweft God's Spirit, keep to it; if thou knoweft it not, wait for it to become thy guide and leader, and the opener of fcrip tures and the mysteries of the kingdom to thee.
The light which enlighteneth every man that cometh into the world, and the eternal Word or Son of God, is the fame. And this light fhining in the darkness, shineth and enlighteneth with the true light: And the end of its enlightening is, that therein men might feel the drawings of the Fa ther, the ftrivings of his Spirit; and in the faith thereof, and fubjection thereto, come out of the darkness.
Now the condemnation is not becaufe Chrift hath not fufficiently enlightened them, or that there goeth not fufficient power with his light to redeem from the darkness; but because men turn the deaf ear to him, will not hear him; but, in loye to the darknefs, hear the voice of him who dwells in the darkness. But the Spirit of Chrift, who is in the light, and dwells in the light, who ftrives with the dark world by his light, is able to conquer and overcome the darkness. Yea, the Word of life, nigh in the mouth and heart, is able to overcome the power of death there, to quicken, to gather to God, to fet the captive free, &c. And the reafon why men perish, is not through God's infufficient vifiting of them, but because of their turning from the measure of the manifeftation of his Spirit. They defpife the day of fmall things; they will not come to that wherein the life and virtue was hid, and fo lofe the day of their visitation, and miss of the good which God intended to them thereby.
And whereas thou fayeft, "The light doth not, nor cannot, discover "Chrift, and his being raised from the dead, &c." I cannot but fay, on the other hand, what doth discover them, but the light? How came the fcriptures to declare of Chrift? Was it not from the Spirit? And is not that fame light ftill with the Spirit, by which the fcriptures were given forth? And can he not give it forth without the letter, where he feeth need of it, and vouchfafeth fo to do? But how can the vaft unbelieving multitudes of the world experience what the light and Spirit of the Lord can do, being not fubject to it, but rebelling against it, Job xxiv. 13. And why may not men now, by the light of the Spirit, come to know that Chrift is come, dead, and rifen, as well as thefe things were known and believed before the fcriptures were written? Yet, if a man fhould not know the outward death of Chrift, and his raifing from the outward grave, yet being in the faith of the power (which whomfoever it toucheth and draweth to it, it redeems) that gives him a right to all that was done by Chrift, for then he hath union with the thing which faves, and ftrength from it against that which deftroys. Yea, there was a time when the difciples of Chrift were in the faith, and yet neither knew nor believed his death and resurrection:
yea, Peter, with no fmall confidence, faid, Lord, this shall not be unto thee, Matt. xvi. 22.
As touching that paffage of renouncing the works not only of the old covenant, but even thofe of the new alfo, as filthy rags, that is manifeftly unfcriptural and unfavoury; the works of the new covenant being fruits of God's Holy Spirit, which he works in us and for us. If any man be in Chrift, there is a new creation (where the old things are paffed away); and he that walks after this rule, walks in the newnefs of the Spirit, and the Spirit moves, and lives, and works in him. Not I, but Chrift in me. And as the root is holy, fo is alfo the fruit, The fear which God puts into the heart is clean, and keeps the heart clean; and out of the good, and honeft, and clean heart, comes good, honest, and clean fruit, which is not unclean, like filthy rags. Read Ifai. lxiv. 5. and confider it, waiting on the Lord to open thine understanding. Were the works which the apoftle fpeaks of, Heb. xi. and Jam. ii. 24 to be reckoned as filthy rags ?
Abraham was acquainted with the invifible eternal Word, and was turned from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God; and in his converted eftate had the promife of the feed; and faw, with the rest of the prophets, through the day of his flesh to the day of his Spirit, 1 Pet. i.
10, II, 12.
David was a spiritual man, and knew the Word of the new covenant; which is a lantern to the feet, and a light to the paths, of the children of the new covenant, who witness and experience their way cleanfed by taking heed thereto according to this Word. And the precepts, ftatutes, laws, commandments, ordinances, judgments, &c. of this Word are a mystery to all that are not acquainted with it. But they that are acquainted with it, and in the pure fear and humility wait upon it, they learn of it the way of its precepts, and are guided by the Spirit of the Lord in the way everlafting.
The wisdom which Solomon speaks of, is undoubtedly Chrift, the Word eternal. It is much thou shouldft boggle at this. He is the Sun of the inward world, which enlightens the dark inward world; not that they should abide in the darkness, but by the virtue and power of his light come out of it. And friend; mark thefe following words, and wait upon the Lord for the true understanding of them. Till thou witnefs the inward Word, with the inward law and teftimony thereof, and know its commandment to be a lamp, and its law a light, &c. thou canft never witnefs the perfect keeping and preservation from the evil woman, from the flattery of the tongue of the ftrange woman; but wilt be apt to luft after her beauty in thy heart, and to be taken with her eye-lids. But if thou know and keep wifdom's commandments, thou wilt thereby witnefs life indeed, according to that faying of Chrift, If a man keep my sayings, he shall never fee death. And Chrift directed his apoftles to wait for his Spirit to receive his fayings from, who teacheth not only the greateft, but the leaft, in the new covenant's PPP
writing his law in their hearts, which law is light. And if any man hear the inward voice of wisdom, and turn at her reproofs, fhe will pour out her spirit unto him, fhe will make known her words unto him.
The fame thing that teaches to do juftly, and love mercy, teacheth also to walk humbly with the Lord. It is the fame grace which brings falvation, which teacheth to live godlily, that teacheth alfo to live foberly and righteously. What I had in my former profeffion and congregational way, the Lord brake by a mighty hand; but yet in tender mercy he was with me, preferving me in the midst of the ftorms, and floods, and roarings of the enemy upon me, till his fresh vifiting of me. And he visited me with his own Spirit, with the eternal light, life, and power thereof; and I know it to be the fame thing which had been with me from the beginning; yea, the child, being quickened and raised out of the grave, prefently knew its Father, and cannot but honour and bear teftimony to that appearance of truth, wherewith his Father vifited him, and wherein he hath felt the renewing and reftoring of his former work. And they that knew me formerly, before the Lord dafhed me to pieces, could and did witness, that the Lord had given me true humility, and my foul did witnefs a walking with him in the humility which he gave me. And now I witness from him, in this precious difpenfation of his life and power, the very fame humility (and bleffed be his name, with great increafe), and a fresh walking with him therein, in a fresh sense and meltings and bowings of fpirit before him night and day. I do confefs I took it to be a natural thing, and overlooked and defpifed it, till the Lord opened my understanding, and fhewed me what it was, and how he wrought by it, and that it was a mystery hid from all, but thofe to whom he revealed it. And indeed I do hang daily upon the Lord in this for life and power, and am very weak without, but strong as it pleaseth the Father to manifeft himself in me, and to breathe upon me through it; yea, indeed, my life, peace, reft, hope, joy, delight, &c. is a continual gift from the Father of fpirits, who hath manifefted himself near unto me, and fhewn me his dwelling-place. And I am fatisfied that the Spirit of the Lord, by his immediate light, is able to reach the darkeft heart in the darkest part of the world, and to turn his mind to, and give him belief in, that which faves, and to fave him thereby.
The word of faith which the apostles preached, and the word of life eternal, and the light which enlighteneth every man that cometh into the world, differ not, but are the fame; and the light wherewith he enlightens them, that they might believe in him who enlighteneth, is of the fame nature with the Enlightener, and fufficient to guide them to, the faith of him. But friend; take heed of reproaching the truth. Though thou mayeft do it ignorantly, yet it is not wholly excufable. Haft thou heard the preaching which thou fpeakeft thus flightly of? If thou haft not, furely thou shouldeft have heard and confidered, before thou hadst judged. Thou fetteft up