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Abraham was; whom no man could know whence he was, even as no man can know whence the Father is. Chrift granted the Jews that they knew him, and whence he was as to his body; and yet for all that, he was the Chrift who was to come, whom no man knew from whence he was. What was that, Chrift called me, fpeaking to Philip? Haft thou not known me, Philip? Haft thou not feen me? What, doft thou know me after the flesh, after the body? Doft thou take that for me? Have I been fo long with you, and do you know me no better than fo? The body is from below, the body is like one of yours (only fanctified by the Father, and preferved without fin); 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 faid was before him, John i. 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 expreffed in the fcriptures, 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 wifdom of man, and there is a witnefs of God, which witness gives true judgment. Man (at beft) judgeth but according as things appear to him from the fcriptures; but the witnefs judgeth of the things of God in the demonftration 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 fatisfaction; 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 Chrift; 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 Chrift, the Spirit of Chrift revealed in you, and your fouls 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 Jefus, and as it is felt in the Spirit, and its own pure power.
Now a little further, to remove the fcruples and prejudices out of the minds of fuch as fometimes have been touched with the power of truth, and have had the witnefs of God reached to in their hearts; but afterwards the enemy hath raised mifts, and caft blocks in their way, ftirring up in them hard thoughts against us, as if we denied what the fcriptures affirm in this thing, and indeed (in effect) that Chrift which died at Jerufalem, and fet up a natural principle within, inftead thereof:
To remove this out of the minds of the honeft-hearted (who in the guideance of God might light on this paper) I fhall 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 flesh of the virgin Mary, who was of the feed of David, according to the fcriptures, 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 fo; for he poured out his foul, he poured out his life) a facrifice or offering for fin (do not, oh! do not ftumble at it; but rather wait on the Lord to understand it: for we speak in this matter what we know) a facrifice unto the Father, and in it tafted death for every man; and that it is upon confideration (and through God's acceptance of this facrifice for fin) that the fins of believers are pardoned, that God might be juft, and the juftifier of him which believeth in Jefus, 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 fcripture 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, holinefs, and righteoufnefs of the Spirit. And the fame thing that kept his veffel pure, it is the fame thing that cleanfeth us. The value which the natural flesh and blood had, was from that; in its coming from that, in its acting in that, in its fuffering through that: yea, indeed, that hath the virtue; that is it which is of an unchangeable nature, which abideth for ever; which is pure, and maketh pure for ever; and it is impoffible for a man to touch it, but he muft feel cleanfing by it. Now this living virtue and power man was fhut 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, cleanfed, fanctified, fitted for and filled with life. So that this is it that doth the thing; this is it from whence Chrift had his own flesh and blood (for we are taught, both by the Spirit, and by the scriptures, to distinguish between Chrift's own flesh and that of ours, which he took up and made his); which flesh and blood we feed of in the Spirit; which they cannot feed on which ferve 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 fpeak yet more clearly and plainly, could men hear our words. But if we have spoken to you earthly things (in parables and figures) fuitable to your understanding, and ye believe not, how fhall ye believe, if we fpeak to you heavenly things; if we fhould tell you plainly of the Father, in whom is all the life of the Son, and all the virtue and falvation that ever the Son had from him? The Jews were to learn in types, figures, and fhadows, till Chrift came. And after Chrift came, he alfo taught them in refemblances and fimilitudes of things: and the apoftle
wrote and fpake much to perfons, as juft coming out of that ftate, in a language fuited to that ftate. But he that comes into the thing itself, and is taught 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 manifeft and plain to him. Yea, the Lord fo teacheth him things, as words cannot utter; that is, he fo knoweth the peace of God, the joy of his Spirit, the life and power of the Lord Jefus Chrift, his wisdom, righteoufnefs, and pure precious ways of fanctifying the heart, the tender mercy, faithfulness, and rich love of the Father, &c. as he cannot utter to any man; nay, fo as he never learned (nor could learn) from words about the things; but by the fenfe and experience of the thing itself, the Lord (in whom are the depths of life, and who giveth the fenfe and understanding of the deep things of the Spirit) opening them in him, and manifefting 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 fee 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 demonftration 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 fome measure of this life; and he that hath not fome meafure of this life, is not in the Son; but in a talk and wife knowledge of things after the flesh, which will perish, and he with it, who abideth there. For no man can be faved, but by coming into the knowledge which is of a pure, eternal, living, faving nature. Can an opinion which a man takes up concerning Chrift from the fcriptures (and cafting himself thereupon) fave him? For it is no more than an opinion or judgment unto a man, unlefs he be in the life and power of the thing itfelf. Then indeed it is truth to him, knowledge in him, right knowledge; otherwife it is but knowledge falfely fo called; knowledge which will not fubdue his heart to truth, nor hath its feat there; but in his head, making him wife and able there to oppose truth, and fo bringing him into a state of condemnation, wrath and mifery, beyond the heathen, and making him harder to be wrought upon by the light and power of the truth, than the very heathen. Therefore confider your ways, O profeffors of Chriftianity! and do not despise the hand which is ftretched forth to you in the love of God, and in the motion and guideance of his Spirit, who condefcends to you exceedingly, that he might reach to his own in you, and fcatter your apprehenfions, imaginations, and conceivings about the meanings of fcriptures (which are as fo 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! obferve what bars were in the way of the fcribes and Pharifees! 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
come to him, than it was for them. My upright defire to the Lord for you is, that he would remove the ftumbling-blocks out of your way, that he would batter and knock down the flesh in you, that he would strip you of all your knowledge of fcriptures according to the flesh, 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 ufe of the letter alfo; but till then ye cannot but make ufe of it both against your own fouls, and against Chrift and his truth.
And then for fetting up a natural principle, we are further from that than ye are aware. For we were as fhy of this, and jealous that it was a natural principle, as ye can be, and ftarted from it, divers of us, till the Lord, by his eternal power, and demonftration of his Spirit, reached our hearts, and fhewed us that it was the feed of the kingdom (even the root of all the fpiritual life, that either we ourselves formerly, or ever any elfe 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 elfe but the power of the Spirit. Now having certainly felt and known the thing in our own hearts, and having also feen the fnares 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 Jefus, 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 affuredly what is the truth, in that which never was deceived itself, nor ever deceived any; nor will fuffer 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 fhould ye not rather come to that wherein the light of the day fprings, and out of which it fhines? 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 fatisfied is he, who is born of the spiritual day, brought forth in the light thereof, and who spiritually fees, lives, and walks therein. So that there is no doubt in him who is grown up into the thing; but he hath the affurance of faith (which is far above the affurance of outward fenfe or reafon) and the affurance of understanding. Oh! bleffed is he who hath an eye to fee, 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 raifed out of the grave of death. But he that reproacheth and fpeaketh evil of this (that will neither enter in himself, nor fuffer others) he is far from receiving the bleffing or blessedness 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 faw, nor can fee the truth; but fetteth up opinions and appearances of things instead of it; and receive the anointing which is given with and in the feed, 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 fenfible, the redeemed fing praises, and on whom they wait, for the further manifefting 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 Jefus, the Chrift, 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 neceffary that he fhould 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 alfo we cannot but fay 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 Jefus and Chrift did of right belong before he took up the body: and he only put forth in the body the faving virtue which he had before, which belonged to the nature, to the anointing in him, whether ever he had faved 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 foul to come to, to feed on, and be cloathed with. I can hardly ftop speaking of these things for that through my words (or the words of whom the Lord fhall please) ye your fakes, might come to feel that which is able to give you the holy understanding, and might come to the true fenfe and experience of the truth itself, and might fee who hath blinded you, and how he hath blinded you, and fed you with hufks and dry food, inftead of that which hath the true living fap in it. But while ye fee and judge in that which is wrong, ye muft needs judge amifs both of yourfelves and others, and alfo of the truth itself, and of the words fpoken, either formerly or now, concerning it, whereby ye expofe and bring yourfelves under the righteous judgment of the truth itself, even of the Son, and the light of his day, which hath power from the Fa ther to judge all falfe appearances, deceits, and deceivers.