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HIS is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jefus Chrift whom thou haft fent." Whom did the Father fend? Did he not fend the Son of his love? From whence did he fend him? Did he not fend him out of his own bofom? Whither did he fend him? Did he not fend 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 glory, ftripping 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 fervant, the feed (the heir of all) ferved 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 reftoring of it to him again. "I have glorified thee on the earth," faith he, "I have finished "the work which thou gavest me to do. And now, O Father, glorify "thou me with thine own felf, with the glory which I had with thee be"fore the world was," John xvii. 4, 5.
Now having fought and travelled (from my childhood) after the true knowledge of God, and of his Chrift; and having been fatisfied with nothing elfe 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 fatisfied therewith, finding it to be the eternal life, the true food, the living power, the pure reft, the joy and falvation of my foul, I cannot but teftify it to those that lay out their money for that which is not bread, and their labour for that which fatisfieth not.
We (some of us, at leaft) laid out as much of our money as others, who now despise us, have done; and as much of our labour; and (I may fpeak it in the fear of the Lord, and in true sense, without boafting) fome 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 foul true fatisfaction. The bread was not that
which we then called bread, but that which we overlooked, and wift 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 rifheth not, but will endure when all literal and outward knowledge of God and Christ fails, and will fall fhort of fatisfying that hunger of the foul, which is after the fubftance itself.
Now to draw mens minds to a fense 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 Chrift in them a well of water fpringing up to eternal life; therefore was it in my heart to give forth this question, and the enfuing queries; which he that rightly anfwers, must know the thing; and he that doth not rightly know the thing, by his inability to anfwer, may find that he doth not, and fo 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 Meffiah to come, according to their understanding of the prophecies concerning him, and fo were kept from the true knowledge thereby. Most forts of those that now profefs Chrift, are puzzled about a knowledge concerning the outward body, flesh, and blood of Chrift, according as they apprehend the fcriptures to fpeak; and fo the veil is over their hearts likewife, and they cannot fee the eternal life and fubftance, 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 fincerely defire after truth, and to open the the true eye in them, that they may fee the defire and beloved of their fouls, 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 fprings 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.
PROFESSORS of CHRISTIANITY.
HE Question is not, whether they know what is faid of Chrift in the fcriptures; but whether they know it favingly, truly, livingly, powerfully? Yea, they may know what is faid of him, and yet not know him of whom thofe things are faid. As it was with the Scribes and Pharifees; they knew what was faid of Chrift in the law and prophets; but they knew not himself, when he appeared in that body of flesh. So men may now know what the apoftles and the evangelifts have said concerning his appearance in a body of flesh (concerning his birth, circumcifion, baptifm, preaching, doctrine, miracles, death, refurrection, afcenfion, interceffion, &c.), and yet not know him of whom these things are said. Yea, they may know what is faid concerning the word which was from the beginning, and yet not know the word, the power, the life itself.
Since the prevailing of the apoftles teftimony, the way of the enemy hath not been directly to deny Chrift, but to bring men into fuch a knowledge of Chrift, as faves not. And as the enemy did own Chrift, when he appeared in that body of flesh, faying, I know thee who thou art, the holy one of God; fo he hath found it for his advantage, almost ever fince, to own that appearance of his. So that this he doth not oppofe, nor mens knowledge and understanding of fcriptures, fo as to confirm them in this. But the faving knowledge, the true knowledge, the living knowledge, the powerful knowledge of truth, that he always oppofeth; 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 favingly 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 faid concerning it, but he must first feel fomewhat of it, whereby he may truly know it. So the peace, the joy, the life, the power, they pass the understanding; and a man can never rightly know them by reading, or comprehending ever fo 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 Chrift gives, the joy, the life, the power, cannot be thus known by literal defcriptions; how can he, who is the fullnefs of all, the fountain of them all, the treafury 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 prefent knowledge is. And this is it which gives us fatisfaction.
Our knowledge is in a principle, wherein we receive our capacity of knowing, and wherein the Father (from whom the principle came) teacheth And this is his way of teaching us; by making us one with the thing he teacheth. Thus we learn Chrift, by being born of him, by putting him on. Thus we know his righteoufnefs, his life, his wifdom, his power, by receiving a proportion of them, which giveth an ability to difcern and acknowledge the fullness. And in this we receive the understanding of the scriptures, and know the feed of the woman (which bruiseth the ferpent's head), by receiving the feed, by feeling its growth in us, and its power over the enemy. Then we know the thing; likewife we know the woman that brings forth this feed after the Spirit, which is the Jerufalem above; and we know also, and fingly acknowledge, the bringing forth of it outwardly after the flesh. This feed we know to be the feed of Abraham, the feed of David after the flesh, and the feed 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 feed of David in the fecond place. There was the feed that wrought the thing, which feed was the life; and the feed in which he wrought it, which was formed into a veffel like ours, but without fin, in which the pure Lamb appeared in the pure power of life, which kept the veffel pure; and fo he (who was to be the firft fruits) had the honour above all his brethren, being anointed with the oil of gladnefs above his fellows.
But we also are born of the fame feed. He is formed in us; we are formed of him; we are as well of his flesh 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 fcripture concerning him. By feeling and knowing the Lamb in our veffels, we know alfo what was the Lamb in his
Thus we know things in the certainty and demonstration of God's Spirit, even in the light which fhines from him, and in the life which he begets; and we fpeak of things as they are, and as we feel them to be in the true life, which the Spirit of Chrift hath begotten in us. And we can truly fay concerning the fcriptures, That now we believe, not fo much because of the relation of things concerning Chrift, which we have found in them; but becaufe we have seen and received the thing which the fcriptures fpeak of, and find it to be the very thing indeed, the very Chrift of God, the fpotless one, the living garment of righteoufnefs and falvation, wherein God findeth no fault, and in which the foul appears without blame before him. And concerning this, can we fpeak words of its nature, words of its virtue, words of its life, power, and righteoufnefs; which that which is of the flesh cannot hear, but that which is born of God, naturally owneth and underftandeth. Why fo? 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 fprings out of the fame womb? No, no. The children which are born of wisdom, do juftify wisdom in its feveral fproutings 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 wifdom; that indeed reproacheth and blafphemeth the incomprehenfible wisdom, in its incomprehenfible ways, and would reftrain life to what they apprehend, or can comprehend by the letter concerning it.
And this may be a great evidence to profeffors, that they know not indeed Chrift in his nature, Spirit, life, and power; because they speak not of him as perfons who feel the thing, and fpeak from the prefent fenfe of it, and acquaintance with it, but only as perfons that bring forth a notion they have received into their understandings. And yet they fail therein alfo; for they speak not of Chrift according as the fcriptures hold him forth, compared one with another, but as they have grofly apprehended concerning him from fome fcriptures, as the Jews outward did. For the fcriptures fpeak 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 fuch flesh and bones, whereof Chrift and his church confift. He is Chrift (fay the fcriptures) who is one with the Father, who came from the Father, in whom the Father was, and who was in the Father; fo faid Jefus of himself (lifting up his eyes to heaven, and praying to the Father of his difciples, and the children whom the Father had given him) more than once in that feventeenth chapter of John. Yea he is Chrift, whom a man cannot fee, but he muft fee the Father alfo; and whom, whofoever feeth the Father, feeth; who was before