Page images
[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

THE true church is a mystery, and so is the false also; neither of

which the outward eye of man's understanding is able to discern; but he alone who is enlightened and taught of God. Who can see how the Spirit of God works, changing mens hearts, gathering them into his truth, and building them up into an holy temple in his Son ? And who can discern how the spirit of deceit works with an outward knowledge, doctrine, and form of religion, persuading or compelling men thereunto, and so builds up a false church? Yea, who can tell when the Spirit of the Lord withdraweth from a church, which was once his, leaving it to the other fpirit to re-enter and possess; from which time it becometh a synagogue of Satan? There was need of the anointing of God's wisdom and Spirit to try Jews and Apostles (for there were fuch, even in the apostles days, as faid they were so, but were not); and there is also need of the same wisdom and Spirit to try churches, whether they be indeed the churches of Christ (in and of his Spirit and power), or only in the name and outward profession of the thing, without the nature, Spirit

, life, and power thereof. The apostle Paul (who was the apostle of the Gentiles, and knew what was likely to be their future state) writing to the Romans, tells them, that che Gentiles were cut out of the olive-tree, which was wild by nature; and were, contrary to nature, ingrafted into the true olive-tree, and so came to partake of the root and fatness thereof. But withal he tells them, that unless they did continue in the faith, and in the goodness of God, keeping out of the high-mindedness and conceitedness of their own estate and condition, in the fear (which makes the heart clean, and preserves it in the cleanness from that which would defile, and cause it to depart from the Lord) they likewise should be cut off, Rom. xi. 17. and 20, &c.

Now it would seriously be considered, whether the Gentile churches did abide in the faith, and in the goodness and power of the Lord, which gathered them? Or whether they grew high-minded, holding their estate in a


[ocr errors]

presumption (as if the promise was so to them, that they must needs be the church for ever) out of the fear, and so was cast off by God, and cut off (according to the apostle's words) from God's Spirit, and so have not partook of the root and fatness of the Olive-tree, for many generations ? It would also farther be enquired (if it prove thus, upon true search and examination, that they have been cut off); whether they can partake of the root and fatness of the true Olive-tree any more, till he that cast them off, gather and build them up again?

It is true, there have been witnesfes against the corrupt state, even a seed who have been persecuted by it; and these have, in some measure, partook of the root and fatness of the Olive-tree, all this time of the degeneration. But hath the church-state of the Gentiles, which provoked God, and was cast off, and persecuted the witnesses of the Lamb, his holy feed, who could not but, in his nature and Spirit, testify against their corruption ? Have they partook of the root and fatness of the Olive-tree, or have they not rather grown up from, and drunk in of, the fap and juice of another stock ?

The same apostle speaks of the man of sin, that wicked one, the fon of perdition ; who should get into the temple of God, fit there, and fhew himself as God; and yet oppose and exalt himself above all that is truly called God, and that of right ought to be worshipped, 2 Thef. ii. 4. Now when he gets into the temple, doth not he leaven it with his wicked fpirit, making it become wicked, like him that fits and reigns in it, and is the head of it? And not the church or temple, all the while he fits in it, partake of the root and fatness of the Olive-tree? (Of Christ its former vine, of Christ its former head)? Or doth it not rather fuck in, and partake of, the venom and poison of this new head? And how long is this new head, this false head of the church, to fit in the temple ? Is it not from the very time of his getting in, till Christ, by the Spirit of his mouth, confume and scatter him, and by the brightness of his appearance and coming utterly destroy him ? ver. 8.

This is certain (as certain as ever there was a true church in the days of the apostles), that after the apostles days there got up a false church, which the Spirit of the Lord calls the great whore (indeed the was far bigger, by multitudes of degrees, than ever the true church was). This great whore had a golden cup in her hand, wherewith she made the kings and inhabitants of the earth drunk. And she sat upon many waters; which waters are peoples, nations, multitudes, and tongues. Did ever the true church do thus ? That was a little flock, gathered out of peoples, nations, multitudes, and tongues, reigning in the Spirit and power of the Lord, over them only who were thus gathered; but never sát upon whole peoples, nations, multitudes, and tongues, as this great whore hath done, Rev. xvii. 1.-15.

Now it would be worth the enquiry what this cup is (this golden cup, which appears like gold)? And what this wine is, wherewith the made the kings and inhabitants of the earth drunk? Ask her, and she will tell you, VOL. II. L


It is the cup of salvation, and her wine the wine of the kingdom, even the doctrine and discipline of holy mother-church; out of which, and without which, no man can be saved. But ask the Spirit of the Lord (or hear what the Spirit of the Lord said to the churches concerning it) and he will tell you, it is the wine of fornication, the cup of destruction, full of abominations, and filthiness of her fornication, and that she shall be so far from saving others, that she shall be destroyed and perish herself; and whoever drinks of her wine shall perish, unless he vomit it up again, and drink of the pure blood of the Lamb after it. See Rev. xvii. and also chap. xviii. and chap. xiv. 9, 10, 11.

Now one word, in the love and truth of God, to all that have separated from this church. Have ye separated fully? Have ye separated wholly? Have ye separated from her in nature and spirit? Have ye waited for the building which God alone can rear; for the church which he alone can frame? Or have ye built up another church, in the resemblance and likeness of that ye separated from? This is a weighty thing: Ye must answer it to God, and stand by his judgment therein. I beseech you consider it

. What will it profit a man, faith Christ, if be gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? So say I in this Cafe: What would it profit you, if ye could make your church stand, and be approved in the fight of the whole world, if the Lord disown and disallow it, and they that are gathered into it perish by it? If it be not of God's building, if it have not his presence, virtue, Spirit and power in it, it cannot save. Oh! hear, hear! for the Lord will strip Babyson, and fill her with dreadful plagues and judgments; and the shall appear naked as she is, and become the scorn of every eye, and the reproach of every beholder : and that which hatii been reproached, scorned, hated, and persecuted by her, the Lord will nonour.

Now consider, and wait with the Lord, to know the extent of Babylon; that ye may not be found by bu Spirit of the Lord (nor by his angels, which pour out his plagues upon her) within her limits. For the Great Whore is not Babylon only, or alone ; but she is the Mother of harlors, and all her Daughters are harlots allo; even all that have built up churches, like her (in her spirit, with her materials) out of the leading, guidance, and power of the Spirit of truth.


[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

1. Of the CHURCH in its first and Pure State, when it was

cloathed with the Sun, had the Moon under its Feet, and was crowned with the Crown of Twelve Stars, travailing to Bringforth, and Brought-forth the Man-Child, which was to Rule all Nations with the Rod of Iron.


T pleased the Father to send his Son into the world (in his name, power, and authority), to gather out of the world ; and to manifest his name

to the men whom he should gather out of the world. The Jews (for all their great profession, and high esteem of themselves) were but a worldly polity, having but worldly, elementary shadows of the good things to come, and to be set up in the kingdom of the Messiah. John preached, That the kingdom was at hand; Christ said, It was come : John prepared for it; Christ brought it. He came in the Spirit, in the life, in the virtue, in the dominion of the Most High; and he gathered disciples unto him, by the word and power of the Father.

of the Father. And those that continued in his word, were his disciples indeed; of his gathering; such as the Father had sent the Son out to seek ; even the new fort of worshippers, who should worship neither at Samaria, nor Jerusalem ; nor with reference to any other outward place; but in Spirit and in truth. They should meet together in that name, wherein Christ had gathered them; and meeting so, he would be in the midst of them, and they should feel the presence, power, and authority, which belonged to his church.

Now, if any would know what kind of persons these disciples are, Christ giveth many descriptions of them. They are such as are born from above, such as are changed by the name and power which gathers them. They are Jews inward, circumcised inwardly ; such as are baptized with the Holy Ghost, and with fire ; squared stones, hewn by the Spirit, for the spiritual building ; not old, rough, fierce, cruel, implacable, unregenerate, unholy spirits; but meek, gentle, lowly, tender, poor in spirit, merL 2


ciful, peaceable in themselves, and making peace among men, renewed, and fanctified in fpirit; holy in conversation, suffering (both from the heathenish, and from the worldly-professing spirit) for that power of truth and righteousness, which they profess and bear witness to. They are the falt of the earth, having that in them which seasoneth their own hearts, and which hath virtue in it to season others. They are the light of the world, having that in them which casts rays of light, conviction, and demonstration, where-ever they go. They being changed into the leaven of the kingdom, become a leaven, and so a weight upon iniquity; testifying against, yea, bowing down and afflicting that spirit, as the power of life springs in them and breaks forth through them.

Now, if the church be thus; if it be a gathering by the power into the power; by Christ, who came in the name, into the name in which he came; must not the ministry needs be much more thus ? Must not they be grown in the name, be grown in the power, who are to minister to those who are gathered into the name, who are gathered into the power? Must not they be well grown in the Spirit, if they be able ministers of the Spirit ? Did not Christ, when he sent out his disciples to preach in his name, give them of his Spirit and power ? And afterwards, when he was to go away, and they to succeed him, what were they to succeed him in ? Were they not to succeed him in his Spirit and power ? And did not he bid them wait for it, and receive it, before they went forth to preach and set up his kingdom ? And was it not

And was it not by this the church was gathered ? And can the church be preserved by any thing beneath this ? Yea, falling short of this, is it not in a degenerated and fallen estate ?

After that those who had been gathered in the name, had waited as Christ directed them, for the holy Spirit and power, and after it had fallen upon them, then the glory began, then the ministry shined, then the church (or people gathered in the Spirit and power) shined; then great life was in them all, then great grace and holiness was upon them all, then faith (which {prings from the Spirit and power) was fresh, then love abounded; then they minded not earthly things, but the kingdom, the life, the glory, which was come upon them in power ; then Satan's kingdom fell down like lightening, and they went on (in and with the Spirit which led them) conquering the Jewish professors, and the Heathenish worshippers also; none being able to resist the power and Spirit wherein they spake and ministered. Read the scriptures of the New-Testament, and wait on God for the opening of the true eye in you; and these things will be manifest and plain to you therein ; for the sweetness, freshness, preciousness, and beauty of that state, may abundantly be read there, by those whose eyes the Lord opens. To instance in some places.

Peter writes two general epistles, in one whereof he speaks of their having received like precious faith with them, 2 Peter i. 1. and in the other, that they did rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory, i Peter i, 8.


« PreviousContinue »