« PreviousContinue »
Anfw. It is God's fprinkling the foul, whether with the water of his holy fountain, or with the blood of the covenant, and his wafhing them therewith, which makes the confcience good, Ezek. xxxvi. 25. Zech. xiii. 1. Heb. xii. 22. (Let it be confidered seriously, whether outward water, or inward, be intended in that place? Heb. xii. 22. And when David faid, He washed his hands in innocency, Pfa. xxvi. 6. whether he did it with outward water)? This water, this blood, this sprinkling, this washing, is received in obedience, and not in difobedience. But what obedience is it received in? Is it received in obedience to Mofes's circumcifion or John's baptifm? Or in obedience to Chrift's circumcifion and baptifm? And let him, and all of his perfuafion, seriously weigh, whether ever the foul can be clear of fin, while living in ignorance of, or disobedience to, Chrift's circumcifion and baptifm, whereby alone fin can be cut off from the heart, and washed away from the conscience?
Query 10. Whether to obey God, be not the way to meet with God, and to be baptized of God?
Anfw. Obedience is better than facrifice, and to hearken, than the fat of And to obey Chrift's Spirit in the gofpel-difpenfation, being inwardly circumcifed and washed by him, is far better than to be circumcifed with Mofes's circumcifion, or baptized with John's baptifm. The day is dawned, and the fhadows are fled away, and the obedience is not now to the fhadowy ordinances of Mofes, or John the Baptift, but to the light of the day, which fhines in the hearts of the children of the new covenant. And they only have the true knowledge of Chrift, and the true obedience, who know the fhinings of this light, and walk with God in the fhinings thereof, 2 Cor. iv. 6. 1 John i. 7.
Query 11. Whether man can idolize God's ordinances, in keeping, doing, loving, and living up to them?
Anfw. They that fet up Mofes's circumcifion, or John's baptifm for Chrift's (which are not outward, as Mofes's and John's, but inward and fpiritual), they idolize them, and are found guilty of fo doing, in the fight of him who judgeth righteously. Is it not idolizing the fhadow or figure, to fet it up in the place of the substance?
Query 12. Whether mens calling the keeping, doing, loving, and pleading for God's ordinances, idolatry, be not fome of thofe bard Speeches Jude speaks of? Jude xv.
Anfw. He ftill all along takes the thing in question for granted. We grant that Mofes's circumcifion was God's ordinance, and that John's baptifm was God's ordinance; but that either of these is a gospel-ordinance, that Mofes's circumcifion is the circumcifion of Chrift, or John's water-baptifm is the baptifm of Chrift, that we confcientiously and groundedly deny; God's Spirit in the Scriptures putting a difference between them, as particularly between John's baptifm and Chrift's, Matt. iii. 11. So that as he greatly mistakes the thing, fo (through his mistake) he lamentably wrests
and mifapplies that fcripture, Jude xv. And let him seriously confider whether that scripture may not justly be applied to them? And whether they can poffibly avoid the lafh of it without repentance, who deny and revile the inward appearance of Chrift, by the light of his Spirit, in the hearts of his in this our day, and deny his inward circumcifion and baptifm to be the gofpel-ordinance of our Lord Jefus Chrift, fetting up John's water-baptifm in the ftead thereof.
"The last Query, Whether it be not invading, and labouring to make void God's law and commands, when men fo flight, contemn, defpife, write, and do all they can to keep people from clofing in with them, and make then afraid of them by their writing and preaching, as fome do?
Anfw. This Query implies a very deep wrong charge against the children and fervants of God, for their obedience to God's Spirit. Oh! how will he anfwer this to God! Because we own Chrift's baptifm, with the Holy Ghost and fire, and into the name of the Father, Son, and Spirit, with the water of the fountain which God opens for fin and for uncleannefs, and give teftimony thereto in the requirings of God's Spirit, having learnt it of him, and experienced it from him, and having a neceffity upon us in his name and authority (many times) to teftify, That this is the gofpel-baptifm of Christ our Lord, and that John's water-baptifm is not the gofpel-baptifm, but only a figure, representation, or fhadow thereof; therefore this man chargeth us with invading, and labouring to make void God's law and commands, with flighting, contemning, defpifing, &c. Are not these hard words, and a very unjust accufation against God's chofen meffengers and fervants, and any whom he pleaseth to make ufe of in this teftimony? But the truth is, thefe hard words are not fo much against us, as against him that fends us with this teftimony, and is no less than a fighting against him, who will be too hard for you all, and will gather people more and more from the outward waterbaptifm of John, to the inward baptifm by his holy Spirit and fire, which happy are they that know and are baptized with.
He faith at the clofe, I have no end in this, but God's glory.
Anfw. But he greatly mistakes the way to glorify God; for to fet up the fhadow of a thing, inftead of the thing itself, is not the way to glorify Christ, or the gofpel-difpenfation. For Chrift is the Son, who doth not come forth with Mofes's circumcifion, or John's baptifm (who were both fervants), but with the Spirit and power of his Father, wherewith he circumcifeth and baptizeth inwardly and fpiritually. And to fet up that which is outward in the ftead of this, is both to dishonour the Father and the Son.
OW, for a close, I fhall open a little of the mystery of CHRIST, and of his enlightening, quickening, circumcifing, and baptizing, from fome fcriptures, as the Lord hath pleafed to open them in me and to me, and give me the inward fenfe and experience of them.
Jobni. 1. and 3. The word was in the beginning, which created all things; and this word is alfo the beginning of the creation of God in the heart. In this word was life, and the life was the light of men; and this light, which. is life in the word, fhineth in mens darkness, which enlighteneth them that believe in it, and the life thereof quickeneth and giveth life to them that hear its voice, and believe in it; and both the light and life, or the word by its light and life, circumcifeth and baptizeth. Doth not the pure light cut off, chafe away, wash away darkness (wherein all fin and uncleanness is comprehended) from the heart? Doth not the pure word of life, received in the faith, purify the heart?
Queft. But where is this word? Or how shall a man come at this word, or bear its voice or commandment, in the obedience whereof be is enlightened, quickened, circumcifed, and baptized?
Anfw. It is not far off, It is nigh thee, faith Mofes. Thou needeft not go up to heaven for it, or down to the deep, &c. For God, in his love to man, hath placed it nigher, even in man's mouth and heart, that he might hear it and do it, Deut. xxx. and Rom. x. And he that inclines his ear to this word, hears and obeys it, lives. And as it is the word of the new covenant (in which is the light and life of the new covenant), fo it brings him into the new covenant, or makes an everlafting covenant with him, even the fure mercies of David, Ifa. lv. 3.
Another fcripture is, 1 John i. 1. where he speaks of the fame word, of the fame life, and of the fame light, wherewith men are enlightened, and wherein they are to walk, ver. 7. are to walk, ver. 7. That which is declared of, that which is to be teftified of by the gofpel-minifters, is the word, the life, the light. This is the meffage Chrift gave his apoftles to preach, That God is light, ver. 5. What is the intent of this meffage, but that men might be turned from darkness to this light, Acts xxvi. 18. And then the light enlightens them, and they foon come to feel life, and the word from which the life comes. And fo they that truly receive the teftimony of the light (which is the gospel-meffage, ver. 5.) they foon come to the manifeftation of the life (or of him who is the life) in their own hearts, and fo into fellowship with them that are in the light, and with the Father, and his Son Jefus Christ also.
A third Scripture is, 2 Cor. iv. 6. which fhews the way of enlightening the mind, which is by God's caufing the light of life to fhine in the heart; which being believed in, gives the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jefus Chrift. God is a Spirit; the knowledge of him is fpiritual, given and received in the fhinings of his light in the heart.
Thus we receive the beginnings of our spiritual knowledge, and thus we receive the increase thereof day by day. In his light (in the fhinings of his light in our hearts) we see light at firit, and in the further fhinings thereof we see more and more light.
The last place I shall mention, is Matt. xiii. 31. was that which Chrift much preached, and here he
The kingdom of God preacheth it as a feed
fown in the beart, and that a very little one. Now confider if this be not the word of God in a feed, Christ in a feed, life in a feed, light in a feed, God's feed, (bis feed remaineth in him, 1 John iii. 9.) Now this feed, as it grows in the heart, grows in its own life, light, nature, Spirit, power, &c. and puts all thefe forth in the heart in which it grows, against fin, and toI wards righteousness. Yea, the judgment of God is revealed in the fpiritual light, life, and power of this word against fin, and for righteoufnefs; and God's Sion, God's inward, fpiritual Sion (or his people and children), is redeemed by the judgment and righteousness which is revealed from and in this word in the heart. And this word is fo powerful against fin, that it doth not only cut it off, and wash it away from the mind and confcience, and fo make them clean, but it also keeps the mind, in which it remains (as it is regarded and hearkened to), from joining to fin any more; and if fin cannot be joined to, it can neither be conceived nor brought forth, 1 John in. 9. James iii. 15.
Object. But by this doctrine, or experience (as thou calleft it), Chrift in bis outward appearance, his facrifice and blood, as alfo the feriptures, with the exbortations and commands thereof, are all laid waste, and made void, and of no ufe or effect, all being attributed to this word, life, and light within.
Anfw. No, in no-wife. This word within, with the life and light thereof, doth not make void any former appearance or miniftration of God, but rather establishes them, by owning them in their proper place, ufe, and fervice. For he that truly owns this word, light, life, Spirit, power, &c. in his own heart, must also own it in the hearts of others, in Mofes, in the prophets, in John, and in its fulness in Chrift in the flesh; and the virtue of all it did in Christ, and by Chrift in the flesh, towards the falvation of mankind, which his obedience, and the shedding of his blood, was by the Father made abfolutely requifite unto. And the fcriptures, the inftructions, reproofs, exhortations, commands thereof, &c. in the hand of the Spirit, are very useful to this day; and the fhinings of Chrift, and the quickenings of his life are felt in them, when the Lord manageth them unto the foul for good. Yea, the words that Chrift fpoke in the days of his flesh, are Spirit and life to this day, when he speaks them in the heart. But they are not life, as men apprehend, understand, or speak them of themselves, but rather death, as fo made use of.
And those that thus only learn the words, or practise the words, they do not learn aright, or practise aright; they do not know Chrift aright, they do not believe aright, or repent aright; they cannot know Chrift as he is the word of life in the heart, nor hear him, nor obey him, nor be circumcised or baptized by him; but are drowned in literal apprehenfions and conceptions of their own, beneath him who is the life.
Thus the Jews, in their day, waited for the Meffiah, and spake great things of the kingdom of the Meffiah, but knew neither him nor his kingdom, when he appeared and preached it. So likewise, many now speak Nnnn 2 great
great things of Chrift being come, and of his obedience, death refurrection, afcenfion, &c. and yet know not him, his voice, his appearance in their own hearts, or in the hearts of others; but think in their obedience to what they apprehend from the fcriptures to have eternal life, whilst frangers to the living principle of truth, whereby he gives eternal life to his fheep that bear his voice, and follow the Lamb of God wherefoever be goes, and leads along his fheep with him, John x. 27, 28.
He that would know God and Chrift to falvation, must know them in that mystery of light and life, wherein and whereby they fave and deliver from the mystery of fin and death; for there is the mystery of God, the mystery of the Father, the mystery of Chrift, the mystery of the gospel, the revelation of the myftery, the preaching of the mystery, the mystery of the kingdom of God, the fpeaking the wisdom of God in a mystery, the riches of the glory of the mystery, the acknowledgment of the mystery, the fellowship of the mystery, and the mystery of the faith held in a pure confcience. The true minifters of Chrift are stewards of the mysteries of God. They have the treasure of life in their earthen veffels, and are to give forth from that treafure to those they minifter to, and bring them to the difcerning and partaking of the fame treasure in themselves.
Oh! confider! confider! all ye profeffors of Chrift, and of the Christian religion! There is a myfterious power that begets, a mysterious womb that conceives and brings forth, a myfterious birth that is begotten and brought forth, which hungers after the mystery, and is fed with the knowledge, life, and virtue of the mystery. That birth which is of a nature below this, or feeds on a knowledge below this, and hath a faith and hope beneath the nature of the faith and hope which God gives to this birth, is but the child or birth of the bond-woman, which is not to inherit with Ifaac the true heir; but all fuch kind of children of the kingdom must be cast out, with the bond-woman their mother, Matt. viii. 22. Gal. iv. 30.
The birth of the Father's Spirit and power, is only the true inward Jew or Christian, to which the promises, the kingdom, and everlasting falvation belongs; and all elfe are but pretenders to be what they are not; who after all the fires of their own kindling, and sparks wherewith they compass themselves about, will at last lie down in forrow from the hand of the Lord. Oh! that none might be deceived by the enemy of their foul, about matters of fo great concern!