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this law is the path of life, the path of all that are renewed by God's Spirit, which the Jew inward is to read diligently, and to have his delight therein, and to meditate thereon day and night. And this law is light, true light, pure light, fpiritual light, yea, the light which is eternal, and never varies; and the commandment which,comes therefrom is a lamp, which they that receive know it to be no lefs than life everlafting; for indeed the commandments of Chrift's Spirit are felt to be fo. Now this commandment, this law, this light, fhines in the darkness at firft; but afterwards out of the darkness more and more (as it is believed, received, obeyed, and walked in) unto the perfect day; fee Prov. iv. 18, 19.
Queft. But how may I wait for, come to know, and receive this law? I am not of the ftock of the Jews natural, but of the ifles of the Gentiles; how may I meet with and receive the law of life from Chrift, or the grace and truth which comes by him?
Anfw. The way of receiving it, is to mind that which enlightens and renews the mind, drawing it out of the nature and spirit of this world, and out of the ways, worships, knowledge, and cuftoms thereof, into that which feafons it otherwife, and opens it another way. Now here the grace is met with, here the truth is met with, here the Spirit of life is met with; here the inward change is felt, and the new law written in the heart and fpirit. And here the mind comes to prove and know what is that good, that acceptable and perfect will of God: for God is the teacher in the new covenant, and his teachings are here, even in that which he renews. gathereth into his Spirit, and he teacheth thofe that abide in his Spirit, and giveth unto them eternal life, eternal virtue, eternal nourishment, in and from his Spirit. But they that may be great fearchers into the letter, and comprehenders from the letter, and practifers according to their apprehenfions of the letter (not being gathered into nor reading in the Spirit) they mifs of eternal life, and of the redeeming arm and power, and are not. faved from fin by the blood of Chrift; but are yet in tranfgreffion, darknefs, and death, even until now. The Lord, who knoweth all things, make manifeft their eftates and conditions unto them, that they perifh not for ever; but may learn of the Father to know the Son, and of the Son to know the Father, and come to witness true life manifested in their own hearts, that they may have fellowship with the Father and Son therein. For he that is not turned from darkness unto light (from the darkness within in his own heart, unto the light which God caufeth to fhine there) doth not yet know Chrift livingly and favingly; but is only in the notions and comprehenfions concerning him, which cannot fave. For it is the life and power of the Lord Jefus Chrift, inwardly revealed against the power of fin and death, which is alone able to fave therefrom.
Now confider with yourselves (all who would not be deceived in this matter) have ye known this law? Have ye received it in measure, and do ye wait to know and receive it daily more and more? Then are ye Christians
indeed, and of the houfe of Jacob, which walk in the light of the Lord,
These are weighty things, and to be confidered weightily, and weighed
A brief Relation concerning myself, in reference to what has befallen
Was acquainted with a fpring of life from my childhood, which enlightened me in my tender years, and pointed my heart towards the Lord, begetting true fenfe in me, and faith, and hope, and love, and humility, and meeknefs, &c. fo that indeed I was a wonder to fome that knew me, because of the favour and life of religion which dwelt in my heart, and appeared in my converfation.
But I never durft trust the spring of my life, and the fpringings up of life therefrom; but, in reading the fcriptures, gathered what knowledge I could therefrom, and fet this over the fpring and fpringings of life in me, and indeed judged that I ought fo to do.
Notwithstanding which, the Lord was very tender and merciful to me, helping me to pray, and helping me to understand the fcriptures, and opening and warming my heart every day.
And truly my foul was very near the Lord, and my heart was made and preferved very low and humble before him, and very fenfible of his rich love and mercy to me in the Lord Jesus Christ; as I did daily from my heart cry grace, grace, unto him, in every thing my foul received and partook of from him.
Indeed I did not look to have been fo broken, fhattered, and diftreffed, as I afterwards was, and could by no means underftand the meaning there
of, my heart truly and earnestly defiring after the Lord, and not having the fenfe of any guilt upon me. Divers came to fee me, fome to enquire into, and confider of, my condition; others to bewail it, and (if poffible) adminifter fome relief, help, and comfort to me; and divers were the judg ments they had concerning me. Some would fay it was deep melancholy; others would narrowly fearch, and enquire how, and in what manner, and in what way I had walked; and were jealous that I had finned against the Lord, and provoked him fome way or other, and that fome iniquity lay as a load upon me: but, after thorough converfe with me, they would ftill exprefs that they were of another mind, and that the hand of the Lord was in it, and it was an eminent cafe, and would end in good to my foul.
At that time, when I was broken and dafhed to pieces in my religion, I was in a congregational way; but foon after parted with them, yet in great love, relating to them how the hand of the Lord was upon me, and how I was fmitten in the inward part of my religion, and could not now hold up an outward form of that which I inwardly wanted, having loft my God, my Chrift, my faith, my knowledge, my life, my all. my life, my all. And fo we parted very lovingly, I wishing them well, even the prefence of that God whom I wanted; promifing to return to them again, if ever I met with that which my foul wanted, and had clearness in the Lord fo to do.
After I was parted from them, I never joined to any way or people; but lay mourning day and night, pleading with the Lord why he had forfaken me, and why I should be made fo miferable through my love to him, and fincere defires after him. For truly I can fay, I had not been capable of so much mifery as my foul lay in for many years, had not my love been fo deep and true towards the Lord my God, and my defires fo great after the fenfible enjoyment of his Spirit, according to the promife and way of the gofpel. Yet this I can alfo fay, in uprightness of heart, It was not gifts I defired to appear and fhine before men in; but grace and holiness, and the Spirit of the Lord dwelling in me, to act my heart by his grace, and to preferve me in holiness.
Now indeed the Lord at length had compaffion on me, and visited me; though in a time and way wherein I expected him not: nor was I willing (as to the natural part) to have that the way which God fhewed me to be the way; but the Lord opened my eye, and that which I know to be of him in me clofed with it, and owned it; and the pure feed was raised by his power, and my heart taught to know and own the feed, and to bow and worfhip before the Lord in the pure power, which was then in my heart. So that of a truth I fenfibly knew and felt my Saviour, and was taught by him to take up the crofs, and to deny that understanding, knowledge, and wifdom, which had fo long ftood in my way; and then I learned that leffon (being really taught it of the Lord) what it is indeed to become a fool for Chrift's fake. I cannot fay but I had learned fomewhat of it formerly; but I never knew how to keep to what I had learned till that day.
And then God fhewed me (by degrees, as he nurtured me up in the heavenly fenfe and experience of his Spirit) the workings of the good in me, and the workings of the fubtilty; and how himself had, in time past, taught me to pray, and to understand the fcriptures, and to believe in his Son, and know fome things aright; but withal, how a knowledge and understanding of another nature had crept in, and gained ground upon me (which indeed I knew not how to diftinguish thoroughly from the other, and watch againft), and fo the truth came not to live in me, nor I to live in that, according to the utmost defire and travail of my foul.
But now of a truth, by this bleffed vifitation of the everlasting gospel, the Lord hath at length brought me back to the fame fpring I was acquainted with at first, and joined my heart in true sense and understanding to it; fo that the life that I live is by the fpringing up of life in me; and I know the Lord my God, by being daily taught by him fo to do; and I love him, by feeling my heart circumcifed and constrained through the new nature thereunto. And truly it is natural to the good feed in me, and to my foul in and through the fame, to trust my Father, and to fuffer any thing that he requires of me, who freely giveth me both to do and to fuffer: for indeed I live not of myself, but by a continual gift and quickening of life in my heart.
And oh! that others also could come to hear the teftimony of truth and life from God's Holy Spirit, and be turned thereby to the pure principle and Spirit of life itself (which many formerly had a true taffe of, but are now turned afide to another nature and fpirit, though they themselves know it not), that they might witnefs the gospel-power, and know the spiritual and heavenly Jerufalem, and fuck at her breafts, and be dandled on her knee, who is the mother and bringer-up of all that are truly living.
A Question about preaching the everlasting Gofpel anfwered.
OW is the everlasting gofpel (wherein Chrift is truly made known, and falvation really witneffed in the hearts of those that receive it) preached at this day? How hath the Lord appointed it to be preached, and how is it preached, and how may men come to hear it, that their fouls may live? Are not they bleffed that hear the joyful found thereof? Are not they wretched and miferable, and blind and naked, who mistake and mifs concerning that, found of it, which it pleaseth the Spirit of the Lord to give forth in this day?
It is wonderful to confider how the truth, the gofpel, the life, the power which faves, is one and the fame in all ages and generations, and yet ftill hid from the wife, prudent, profeffing eye, in every age and ge
Now let me speak a few words to this thing; not only from what I have felt in my heart, but have alfo read in the fcriptures of truth.
Anfw. The gofpel, after the apoftafy, is thus to be preached: Fear God, and give glory to him; for the bour of bis judgment is come: and worship bim that made heaven and earth, &c. Rev. xiv. 6, 7. He that knoweth the preacher that preacheth this; he that hath heard this preached in his own heart; he that hath met with that fear which God's Spirit teacheth and giveth; he that hath known the hour of God's judgment, and had the axe laid to the root of the corrupt tree, and hath been taught by the Son to worship the Father in Spirit and Truth; he hath without doubt met with the gospel, the everlasting gofpel: and if God require of fuch an one, and affift him by his Spirit and power to preach this to others, he is a preacher of the everlasting gofpel, and an able minifter of the New Teftament, not of the letter, but of the Spirit. But all fhould take heed of preaching their own formings and conceivings upon the letter (as too many do in this day, who reproach, revile, and perfecute the life and power), for that falls fhort of true preaching the letter.
Oh! that these things were weighty upon mens fpirits, that they might learn aright to fearch and understand the fcriptures, and know how the Father hath revealed the Son in this day, and how to come to him, to receive life from him! For many (who feem knowing) through ignorance, mistake in this matter, and fo run on in their own wills, wifdoms, and comprehenfion of things, and mifs of the drawings of the Father, and fo come not aright to the Son; but only according to what they themselves imagine and apprehend from what they have gathered and conceived upon the fcrip
God, who commanded light to fhine in this outward world, hath judged it neceffary to caufe the light of his Spirit to fhine inwardly in mens hearts; and this gives the knowledge of the fcriptures, and the true fenfe and difcerning of inward and fpiritual things; yea, here the Son is known, and his blood felt cleanfing; which the fcriptures without do not make manifeft; but this the fcriptures are a clear and faithful record of, and teftimony to. Men had need take heed how they read, and how they underftand, the fcriptures (in what light, in what fpirit), for it is eafy erring; but without the prefence and guidance of God herein, men cannot walk fafely. And truly it is great prefumption in any man to read the fcriptures boldly, without fear and reverence to him who is the author of them; or to put any of his meanings and conceivings upon God's words; which it is hard for him to forbear doing, who readeth them in the liberty of his own spirit, out of the light of God's Spirit, which is the limit and yoke of the true readers and understanders of the fcriptures.