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Ah! if that candle were lighted in you, which ye fo much reproach and defpife the light of, ye might fee, that inftead of fuffering with Chrift, that which is of Chrift in you (the pure light, the pure life of his Spirit) fuffers by you, and the worldly fpirit lives (fhall I add, and reigits) in you, under all your profeffions, knowledge, faith, worships, duties, Ordinances, as ye call them, who want the knowledge of the everlafting ordinance, even of the Spirit and power of our Lord Jefus Chrift; which is the great ordinance and way of the gospel! And he that is fubject to this ordinance fhall be faved; but he that miffeth of this, fhall perifh; let him fearch the fcriptures, and practife according to what he apprehends therefrom, as exactly as he can, without this Spirit and power.
A few Words concerning the Worship which our God hath taught us.
UR worship is a deep exercise of our spirits before the Lord, which doth not confift in an exercifing the natural part or natural mind, either to hear or speak words, or in praying according to what we, of ourfelves, can apprehend or comprehend concerning our needs; but we wait, in filence of the fleshly part, to hear with the new ear, what God fhall please to speak inwardly in our own hearts, or outwardly through others, who speak with the new tongue, which he unloofeth, and teacheth to speak; and we pray in the Spirit, and with the new understanding, as God pleaseth to quicken, draw forth, and open our hearts towards himself.
Thus our minds being gathered into the measure, or gift of grace, which is by Jefus Chrift; here we appear before our God, and here our God, and his Chrift, is witnessed in the midst of us.
This is that gathering in the name, which the promife is to, where we meet together, waiting with one confent on the Father of life, bowing and confeffing to him in the name of his Son; and that fleshly part, that fleshly understanding, that fleshly wisdom, that fleshly will, which will not bow, is chained down, and kept under by the power of life, which God stretcheth forth over it, and fubdueth it by. So then, there is the fweet communion enjoyed, the sweet love flowing, the fweet peace of spirit reaped, which the Father breathes upon, and gives to his children; the fweet joy and refreshment in the Lord our righteousness, who caufeth righteoufnefs to drop down from heaven, and truth to fpring up out of the earth. And fo our Father is felt bleffing us, bleffing our land, bleffing our habitations, delighting in us, and over us to do us good; and our land yields its increase to the Lord of life, who hath redeemed it, and planted the precious plants and feeds of life in it.
OW this ought to be the great care of every renewed mind, even to keep out that which is unclean. The enemy will be affaulting, tempting, cafting into the mind that which is unclean; but the pure, chafte mind will not entertain or touch it, but withdraw and retire from it into the place of fafety, into the ftrong tower of defence, from all the affaults and annoyances of the enemy. Such the Lord receiveth, fuch the Lord delighteth in as his dear children, and in every respect carrieth himself as a Father to; and this is a precious ftate truly to enjoy.
Now, bleffed be the Lord, who hath revealed and bestowed on his fons and daughters, in these latter days, that light of his Holy Spirit, which searcheth the most inward parts, difcovering every thing that is of a contrary nature to itself, turning and feparating the mind therefrom, and bringing the mind, heart, foul, and fpirit under that, which is a crofs and yoke to it, and hath power from God to crucify and fubdue it; that fo life and immortality may be brought to light, and reign in the heart; and death and uncleannefs be fwallowed up in victory. For this is the intent of the gofpel, and of Christ's appearance, even to deftroy fin, and bring up the holy feed, and establish the law of the new covenant, the law of love, the law of life, righteoufnefs, and holinefs, in which the renewed fhould walk before the Lord all their days.
And God forbid, but that the gospel of our Lord Jefus Chrift (which is the power of God unto falvation), fhould attain its end, and the will of God be fulfilled; which is the fanctification of his people in foul, body, and fpirit; that they may be wholly leavened with the leaven of his kingdom, and become a new lump to him.
The Lord bring this to pass in the hearts of the children of men, bringing down all religions which have not the true virtue in them; and propagate and establish the religion more and more, which stands in the evidence, demonstration, virtue, and power of his own Spirit; that men may be redeemed out of, and preferved from, deceit, in matters of religion, wherein the eternal condition of their fouls is fo deeply concerned! Amen.
Reading the SCRIPTURES aright.
How may a Man know, whether he readeth the Scriptures to his Advantage and Benefit? Or whether he readeth them to his Disadvantage or Hurt?
HAT the holy fcriptures, written by men infpired by God's Spirit, were of great use and benefit to thofe to whom they were written (they rightly understanding them, and becoming fubject to the voice of God's Spirit in thofe that wrote or fpoke them) is an undeniable truth.
And that they were not only written for them, but for others also, in future ages, who alfo may reap benefit in the reading of them; this is as manifeft.
Yet that men may so read them, as not to understand them aright, but mifapply them to their own hurt; that is true alfo, and hath been often, and is ftill evidenced by lamentable experience.
The Jews, the Scribes and Pharifees, heard and read the law and prophets to their hurt; fome in a fpirit of direct oppofition to the truths and will of God, held out by the prophets; others in a spirit of mifunderstanding.
Thus the Scribes and Pharifees, in Chrift's time, fo read the words of Mofes and the prophets (who teftified concerning the Son, and his coming,
as that thereby they became ftrong, wife, and confident, in oppofing him when he came. They thought they could prove by fcriptures, that this was not, could not be He: he was to be a glorious King, and to restore Ifrael. This was a mean man, a carpenter's fon; and fo taught, and so behaved himself, that if men believed in him, the Romans would thereby be provoked to destroy their place and nation. He was an eater, a drinker, a friend of publicans and finners, a frequent breaker of the fabbath, a Galilean, &c. And fhall Chrift come out of Galilee? Search and look; for out of Galilee arifeth no prophet, John vii. 52. As if they had faid, can this be the Meffiah, of whom the fcriptures have fo abundantly prophefied, who cometh out of Galilee, out of which the fcriptures have not prophefied of so much as any prophet to arife? Thus they read the fcriptures to their hurt.
And fo afterwards, in the apoftles days, men wrested the words of the apostles, as they did alfo the other fcriptures, to their own deftruction.
And fince, in the apoftafy from the apoftles fpirit, life, and doctrine, and the coming up of many fects, heads, and horns; which of them have not fo read the fcriptures, as to confirm themselves even in thofe very doctrines and practices, which are directly contrary to the doctrines, practices, and fpirit of the apostles?
Yea, fince God's breaking the darkness of the night, and caufing the light of his day again to arife, how do men read and understand scriptures? Even fo as to oppofe this light, life, fpirit, and power, now it is again made manifeft; thinking and judging its appearance now (according to their understanding of, and apprehenfions on the fcriptures) to be as contrary to its appearance in the apostles days, as the Scribes and Pharifees judged Chrift's appearance in their days, to be different from, and contrary to, what the prophets had prophefied concerning the Meffiah.
Therefore it is a matter of very great weight, for a man to know when he reads the fcriptures aright, that his table (whereon he feeds, and by which food he hopes to live to God, and be accepted with him) become not his fnare, and fet him further off from God. For it is as true in this day, as it was in Chrift's day; that publicans and harlots are nearer the kingdom, than those who are in the fpirit, wisdom, and righteoufnefs of the Scribes and Pharifees; who have a knowledge, a belief, an hope, a zeal, &c. from a misunderstanding of the fcriptures; for this is wrong in a myftery of deceit, which is worfe in its nature, and more dangerous to the perfon in whom it is, and to the fouls of others, than the deceit which is openly manifeft.
Well then; Is it not worth the diligent enquiry, and waiting upon God to know, What is the right reading of the fcriptures; and whether a man fo read them, as is to the benefit and profit of his foul, or to his lofs and detriment? To come then to the Anfwer, which is as followeth.
Anfw. He that reads the fcriptures in a true measure of life received from God, he reads them aright; and whenever he fo readeth, it is to his
benefit. He that readeth out of that, readeth to his hurt; that being then up in him, which mifunderftands, mifapplies, and grows conceited, wife, and confident, according to the flesh; and fo he is thereby liable to, and in great danger of, fetting up his interpretations, inftead of the meaning of God's Spirit; and of condemning that which doth not affent and agree therewith, though it be ever fo neceffary and precious a truth of God, and ever to fully demonftrated by his Spirit, to those who are in the true faith and understanding.
The true birth is meek, tender, gentle, fearing before the Lord, waiting upon him, often crying to him, that it may not be deceived, that a wrong thing get not up in it; that it receive not any thing for truth, but what he knoweth to be truth; and when the Lord pleafeth to give the true knowledge, that it hold that knowledge of his truth in righteousness, in his life, in his will, in his wifdom, &c. But the wrong birth is not fo, nor is its courfe thus; but that is fubtil in fearching and forming of things, and holding them in the fubtilty, and drawing the wrong part in others to own and acknowledge that, which it reprefents and holds forth as truth.
There is a wildom in man, which is against God; which wifdom oppofeth the wisdom of God two ways; either in a direct, oppofite way, or in a fecret, fubtil, undermining way. Now no man can come to God, or truly understand or receive the things of God, but as this wisdom comes to be confounded and deftroyed in him, by the light and power of God. All its ftrong-holds, all its fubtil imaginations, all its reafonings and confultings must be dashed, and brought to nought, before the truth of God can have full place and power in the heart. Now in the true discovery of this wifdom to man, and in his denial of it, watching against it, and turning to the other; he may wait upon God aright, receive the knowledge of the heavenly mysteries aright, read the fcriptures aright, come to the true fenfe, understanding, and experience of them; but at any time, fo far as he is out of this, he is liable to the fnare, to the misunderstanding of fcriptures, and to the fleshly confidence that arifeth thereupon. So that, having taken up a misunderstanding of a fcripture, or fome fcriptures; he will even boldly venture to speak evil of the heavenly and fpiritual dignities, which are of God, and the holy truths which are held forth by his holy minifters; against the prophets in their day, against Christ and his apostles in their day, againft the witnesses in the times of the apoftafy, and against the angel (learn who that is) that is to preach the everlasting gofpel again, after the apoftafy. Ah! how doth this wisdom destroy and entangle; and how hath it destroyed and entangled many at this day, who think they are greatly for God in those things and practices, wherein they are directly against him; and that they only oppofe error, and a wrong fpirit, when they are oppofing his truth and his holy Spirit! And it is impoffible it should be otherwife, while they judge and act from that which is wrong, and in that which is wrong. Now mark;