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Abraham was; whom no man could know whence he was, even as no man can know whence the Father is. Christ granted the Jews that they knew him, and whence he was as to his body, and yet for all that, he was the Christ who was to come, whom no man knew from whence he was. What was that, Christ called me, speaking to Philip? Haft thou not known me, Philip? Haft thou not seen me? What, doft thou know me after the Aesh, after the body? Doft thou take that for me? Have I been so long with you, and do you know me' no better than so ? The body is from below, the body is like one of yours (only fanctified by the Father, and preserved without Gin); but I am the fame Spirit, life, and being with the Father. We are one substance, one pure power of life, and we cannot be divided; but he that fees one; muft needs fee both; and he that knows one, muft needs know both. This is the Lamb of God which John bare witness of, which he said was before him, John 1. 15. which the body was not.
Now friends, if you have this living spiritual knowledge, if ye hold it in him that is true; then own and acknowledge it (as it is expressed in the scriptures, and as God hath now brought it forth in his people), that ye may manifeft yourselves to that which is of God, that ye are of him. There is an understanding and wisdom of man, and there is a witness of God, which witness gives true judgment. Man (at best) judgeth but according as things appear to him from the scriptures; but the witness judgeth of the things of God in the demonstration of the Spirit, according as they are felt and known to be in him.
But if ye have not this knowledge, but have long laid out your money and labour for that which is not bread, nor can yield the true satisfaction; Oh! come to the waters, and receive that which is given freely, without money and without price ! Oh! fell all for the pearl, for the knowledge which is of life, for the knowledge which is life! I am the way, the truth, and the life, faith Christ; this is life eternal to know. And wait to feel the rock laid as a foundation in you, even the feed of God, the life of Christ, the Spirit of Christ revealed in you, and your souls born of it, and built upon it. Oh! that ye could come out of your own understandings, that ye might feel and receive the love of my heart, and know the travail of my bowels for you ; that ye might be born of the truth, and know and receive it as it is in Jesus, and as it is felt in the Spirit, and its own pure power.
Now a little further, to remove the scruples and prejudices out of the minds of such as sometimes have been touched with the power of truth, and have had the witness of God reached to in their hearts; but afterwards the enemy hath raised mists, and cast blocks in their way, stirring up in them hard thoughts againit us, as if we denied what the scriptures affirm in this thing, and indeed (in effect) that Christ which died at Jerusalem, and set up a natural principle within, instead thereof:
To remove this out of the minds of the honeft-hearted (who in the guideance of God might light on this paper) I shall open my heart nakedly herein.
1. We do own that the word of God (the only begotten of the Father) did take up a body of the Aesh of the virgin Mary, who was of the feed of David, according to the scriptures, and did the will of the Father therein, in holy obedience unto him, both in life and death.
2. That he did offer up the flesh and blood of that body (though not only so; for he poured out his soul, he poured out his life) a sacrifice or offering for fin (do not, oh! do not stumble at it; but rather wait on the Lord to understand it: for we speak in this matter what we know) a sacrifice unto the Father, and in it tasted death for every man; and that it is upon consideration (and through God's acceptance of this sacrifice for sin) that the fins of believers are pardoned, that God might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus, or who is of the faith of Jesus.
3. What is attributed to that body, we acknowledge and give to that body in its place, according as the scripture attributeth it, which is through and because of that which dwelt and acted in it. But that which fanctified and kept the body pure (and made all acceptable in him) was the life, holiness, and righteousness of the Spirit. And the same thing that kept his vessel pure, it is the same thing that cleanseth us. The value which the natural Aesh and blood had, was from that; in its coming from that, in its acting in that, in its suffering through that: yea, indeed, that hath the virtue ; that is it which is of an unchangeable nature, which abideth for
pure, and maketh pure for ever; and it is impossible for a man to touch it, but he must feel cleansing by it. Now this living virtue and power man was shut out from by the fall, but through the true knowledge of the death of Christ, the way is made open for it again, and man brought to it to be baptized, washed, cleansed, sanctified, fitted for and filled with life. So that this is it that doth the thing; this is it from whence Christ had his own flesh and blood (for we are taught, both by the Spirit, and by the scriptures, to distinguish between Christ's own Aesh and that of ours, which he took up and made his); which fesh and blood we feed of in the Spirit; which they cannot feed on which serve at the outward tabernacle; nor they neither which know only the outward body; but they only that feed in the Spirit.
Now of this thing we might speak yet more clearly and plainly, could men hear our words. But if we have spoken to you earthly things (in parables and figures) suitable to your understanding, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if we speak to you heavenly things ; if we should tell you plainly of the Father, in whom is all the life of the Son, and all the virtue and salvation that ever the Son had from him? The Jews were to learn in types, figures, and shadows, till Christ came. And after Christ came, he also taught them in resemblances and fimilitudes of things : and the apostle
ever; which is
wrote and spake much to persons, as just coming out of that state, in a language suited to that state. But he that comes into the thing itself, and is caught there by the Spirit, after he is grown up and made capable, he is taught plainly the nature of the heavenly things, and the words of the apostles (concerning the deep things of God) which are mysterious to others, are manifest and plain to him. Yea, the Lord fo teacheth him things, as words cannot utter; that is, he so knoweth the peace of God, the
of his Spirit, the life and power of the Lord Jesus Christ, his wisdom, righteousness, and pure precious ways of sanctifying the heart, the tender mercy, faithfulness, and rich love of the Father, &c. as he cannot utter to any man'; nay, so as he never learned (nor could learn) from words about the things; but by the sense and experience of the thing itself, the Lord (in whom are the depths of life, and who giveth the sense and understanding of the deep things of the Spirit) opening them in him, and manifesting them to him. And indeed this is the right and excellent way of knowledge, to come into the union, to come into the thing itself; to learn in the union, to see and know in the thing. This is the way that the Lord teacheth all his children in the new covenant, by the inward life, by the pure light within, by the inward demonstration of his Spirit, by the power and virtue of the truth itself, which it hath in him that is true. And he that is in the Son, hath some measure of this life ; and he that hath not fome meaz sure of this life, is not in the Son; but in a talk and wise knowledge of things after the Hesh, which will perish, and he with it, who abideth there. For no man can be saved, but by coming into the knowledge which is of a pure, eternal, living, saving nature. Can an opinion which a man takes up concerning Christ from the scriptures (and casting himself thereupon) save him? For it is no more than an opinion or judgment unto a man, unless he be in the life and power of the thing itself. Then indeed it is truth to him, knowledge in him, right knowledge; otherwise it is but knowledge falsely so called; knowledge which will not subdue his heart to truth, nor hath its seat there, but in his head, making him wise and able there to oppose truth, and so bringing him into a state of condemnation, wrath and misery, beyond the heathen, and making him harder to be wrought upon by the light and power of the truth, than the very heathen. Therefore consider your ways, o professors of Christianity!'and do not despise the hand which is stretched forth to you in the love of God, and in the motion and guideance of his Spirit, who condescends to you exceedingly, that he might reach to his own in you, and scatter your apprehensions, imaginations, and conceivings about the meanings of scriptures (which are as so many chains of death and darkness upon you) that ye might come to him in whom is life, and who gives life freely to all who come to him. Oh! observe what bars were in the way of the scribes and Pharisees ! They would not come to him that they might have life ; nay, indeed, they could not, as they stood. There are greater bars in your way; yea, it is harder for many of you to Vol. II.
come to him, than it was for them. My upright desire to the Lord for you is, that he would remove the stumbling-blocks out of your way, that he would batter and knock down the Aesh in you, that he would strip you of all your knowledge of scriptures according to the Aesh, that ye might be made by him capable of knowing and receiving things according to the Spirit, and then ye will know how to understand, honour, and make use of the letter alfo ; but till then ye cannot but make use of it both against your own souls, and against Christ and his truth.
And then for setting up a natural principle, we are further from that than ye are aware. For we were as shy of this, and jealous that it was a natural principle, as ye can be, and started from it, divers of us, till the Lord, by his eternal power, and demonstration of his Spirit, reached out hearts, and fhewed us that it was the feed of the kingdom (even the root of all the spiritual life, that either we ourselves formerly, or ever any else received at any time) and gave us the fight of the things of the kingdom in it, and at length wrought that in us, and for us, by it, which never was wrought in us before, and which can be wrought by nothing else but the power of the Spirit. Now having certainly fele and known the thing in our own hearts, and having also seen the snares and nets which the enemy lays for you, whereby he keeps you from the true bread, and from the water and wine of the kingdom (even as he kept us formerly), how can 'we hold our peace, but witness to you (in the love and drawings of the Spirit of the Lord) of the truth, life, and power which we have felt in Jesus, though ye become our enemies therefore? Nor do we this to bring you to another opinion, or outward way (that is not our end); but that ye might feel the thing itself, and know assuredly what is the truth, in that which never was deceived itself, nor ever deceived any; nor will suffer any to be deceived who are joined to it, and abide in it. Oh! why should.ye wander in the dark opinions and uncertainties of the night ? Why should ye not rather come to that wherein the light of the day springs, and out of which it shines ? And can the natural man (who hath his eyes) be deceived about the light of the natural day? Doth he not know the light of the day, both from the lights, and also from the darkness of the night? Ten thoufand times more certain and inwardly satisfied is he, who is born of the spiritual day, brought forth in the light thereof, and who spiritually sees, lives, and walks therein. So that there is no doubt in him who is grown up into the thing; but he hath the assurance of faith (which is far above the assurance of outward sense or reason) and the assurance of understanding. Oh! blessed is he who hath an eye to see, an ear to hear, an heart to understand, the things which God hath revealed by his Spirit in this our day, the living way which he hath now made manifeft, the principle of life that he hath raised out of the grave of death. But he that reproacheth and speaketh evil of this (that will neither enter in himself, nor fuffer others) he is far from receiving the blessing or blegedness of this seed; but groweth up in the wrong nature and spirit, the end whereof is to be burned, with all that is in union with it, and groweth up from it. Therefore come out from that spirit; come out of that dark mind and nature, which never saw, nor can see the truth; but fetteth up opinions and appearances of things initead of it; and receive the anointing which is given with and in the seed, which is raifed in fome, and visited in many, in this day of the Lord's love and tender mercy; to whom the living, the sensible, the redeemed fing praises, and on whom they wait, for the further manifesting of his power and glory in them daily more and more.
Now, friends, if ye will know aright, or believe aright, ye must know and believe in him, who was with the Father before the world was, who was the Saviour, the Jesus, the Christ, from everlasting. For what makes him fo? Is it not his nature? Is it not the power of falvation in him ? His taking up a body made no alteration in him, added nothing to him ; only it was necessary that he should take it up, to fulfill the will in it, and to offer it up a facrifice in his own life and Spirit to the Father. This we firmly believe; and this also we cannot but say further, that the virtue, the value, the worth, the excellency of what was done by him in the body, was not of the body, but it was in him before time, in time, and will be after time, and for ever: yea, it is he to whom the name Jesus and Christ did of righe belong before he took up the body: and he only put forth in the body the saving virtue which he had before, which belonged to the nature, to the anointing in him, whether ever he had' saved any with it or no. And this virtue, this life, this Spirit, this nature of his, is the food, the righteousness, the garment of life and falvation, which he (through the death of the body; made and prepared a living way for the soul ta come to, to feed on, and be cloathed with. I can hardly stop speaking of these things for your fakes. that through my words (or the words of whom the Lord fhall please) ye might come to feel that which is able to give you the holy understanding, and might come to the true sense and experience of the truth itself, and might see who hath blinded you, and how he hath blinded you, and fed you with husks and dry food, instead of that which hath the true living sap in it. But while ye fee and judge in that which is wrong, ye must needs judge amiss both of yourselves and others, and also of the truth itself, and of the words spoken, either formerly or now, concerning it, whereby ye expose and bring yourselves under the righteous judgment of the truth itself, even of the Son, and the light of his day, which hath power from the Father to judge all falfe appearances, deceits, and deceivers.