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THINGS relating to RELIGION, &c.
Of Certainty, and rightly-grounded Assurance, in Matters of
HERE is a witness of and from God in every conscience ; which, in his light, power, and authority, witnesseth for him, and against
that which is contrary to him, as he pleaseth to move upon it, visiting and drawing the hearts of the sons of men by it.
From this witness proceeds the true and well-grounded religion in the mind towards God: For this witness both teftifieth and demonstrateth that there is a God, and also inclineth the mind to desire and seek after the right knowledge and true worship of him.
And such who keep to this witness, and wait upon God therein, are taught by it the true fpiritual worship; the true and pure fear of the Most High; the faith which he giveth to his faints ; the love which is chaste and unfeigned; the hope which purifieth the mind, and anchors it on the eternal rock; the meekness, patience, gentleness, humility, &c. which is not of man's nature, but the gift of God, and the nature of the heavenly giver.
And then for exercises of religion, as praying to the Father of spirits, hearing the heavenly voice, reading in the Spirit, and with the renewed understanding, singing and making melody in the heart (and also with the voice) to the Lord, as his life is, feli, and the spiritual blessings and treasure received; all these, and whatever else is judged necefiary for the soul, are taught by this witness of God in the conscience, as the foul groweth up in the light, Spirit, nature, and holy power thereof.
But now, when the Lord reacheth to his witness in men, and is teaching their hearts by it, then the enemy, the other spirit, whose feat is in the other part, keepeth a noise there, to overbear the voice of the witness, and to make men take up religion in another part, which is shallow, and reacheth not to the depth and weight of truth, which is in the witness VOL. II. I
of God, and which the witness of God gives to them that come thither.
- Thus the enemy ftirreth up reafonings, imaginations, and consultations about God, and his worship; wherein he raiseth up the vain shallow mind, forging and bringing forth somewhat pleasing and suitable to the earthly understanding; taking up the mind therewith, and engaging the heart in some such practices therefrom as may quiet and satisfy that part in men. For the ways that men take up in their reasonings and understandings, fatisfy their reasonings and understandings; and so they walk in the light of the sparks, and warm themselves by the fire of their own kindling; but all this answers not the witness of God in them, nor will be approved by his light in their own consciences, when it comes again to be revealed and made manifest in them.
This was the ground of the error both of the Jews and Gentiles.
The Gentiles were enlightened by God with his true light; what might: be known of God (suitable to their state and capacity) being manifested in them; insomuch as it is witnessed concerning them in the scriptures (which are a true record and testimony) that they knew God. But when they knew him, they glorified him not as God, but became vain in their imaginations, and so their foolish heart was darkened concerning him: and they worshipped him not as the witness taught them he was to be worshipped, not according to the manifestation of his light in them; but according to their own foolish imaginations and reasonings, which taught them to make images of him, and so to worship him in and through creatures, according to their own inventions; which is not the true worship, Rom. i. 21, 22, 23,
So likewise the Jews, not keeping to the manifestation of his light within them (to the word or commandment nigh in the mouth and heart, to. which Mofes directed them), which would have taught and enabled them to have kept to the Law of the letter without them; they also ran into the nature and spirit of the heathen, and fell into imaginings and reasonings, which led them to worship like them; insomuch that they also changed their glory into the image of an ox, that eateth grass, Pf. cvi. 20.
Now from this part in man ariseth all the uncertainty, and doubts, and dissatisfaction about religion. And hence arise the opinions, and judgments, and reasonings, in the minds of men : yea, indeed, the best of mens religion here is but an opinion or judgment, which the breath of God's Spirit will shake and diffolve every-where, sooner or later. All fesh is grafs; and all the beauty of mens knowledge, religion, and worship here, will wither like grass. All the buildings and churches that are raised here (how beautiful loever) are but Babylon, built by man's understanding, by man's knowledge, by man's comprehension, by man's wisdom, by man's skill, and indeed in man's will and time, and their standing, beauty, strength, and glory, is but from man, and, in man's day, and will fade away like a flower.
But the true certainty is in the day of God, from the light of his Spirit shining into man's fpirit, from God's inward reaching to his heart by his power, and testifying his truth there. And this all the powers of darkness cannot prevail against in itself ; no, nor against that man that is kept to it. For it is the rock (the only rock) upon which the whole church is built, and which cannot fail to preserve every member of the church which is built upon it.
Ye then which would come to certainty in religion, observe the way which is made manifeft from God in this our day, blessed be his name, which is this: mind the witness of God in thy heart, and come to, and build upon, the light thereof. Dwell not in reafonings; take not up thy religion in reasonings of the mind; bur pass through them, pass beyond them, into a light of an higher nature. Wait to know the birth which is from God, and the light which he gives to that birth. What is the birth ? Is not the birth of and from the second Adam ? And what is the heavenly birth's light? Is it not the light of the second Adam? Is it not in nature and kind above the light of the first Adam? Where is the seat of reasonings? Is it not the earthly mind, the fallen mind ? Here lies man's strength; here is man's wisdom; here is man's life. It is fo indeed; but the wisdom of Christ, the light of Christ, the life of Christ, the power of Christ
, is a cross to this ; finds it in the enmity against God, crucifes it, says it, brings it to nothing; and he that will become wise as to God, must become a fool unto all this, a child, a babe, entering the kingdom without this, and muft there remain naked as to this, and never put it on more.
Now observe (ve that have understanding and true sense) the difference between the religion which God hath taught us, and led us into, and the religions of all men upon the earth besides.
Our religion stands wholly out of that, which all their religion stands in. Their religion stands in the comprehension, in a belief of a literal relation or description. Our religion stands in a principle which changeth the mind, wherein the Spirit of life appeareth to, and witnesseth in the conscience to and concerning the things of the kingdom; where we hear the voice, and see the express image of the Invisible One, and know things, not from an outward relation, but from their inward nature, virtue, and power. Yea, here (we must profess) we so know things, that we are fully satisfied about them, and could not doubt concerning them, though there never had been word or letter written of them; though indeed it is also a great comfort, and sweet refreshment to us, to read that testified of outwardly, which (through the tender mercy of our God) we feel and enjoy inwardly. And in this our whole religion consists; to wit, in the filence and death of the flesh, and in the quickening and flowing life of the Spirit. For he who is of the new-birth, of the new-creation, of the second Adam (the Lord from heaven), is as really alive to God, and as really lives to him in his Spirit, as ever he was really dead in trespasses and fins in the time of his alienation and estrangement from God.
Of Tendernefs of Spirit, and Persecution. E which is born of God, he who is of the love, and in the love, canHE
not but be tender. He who is born of the earthly wisdom, who taketh up and holdeth forth a religion there, cannot but persecute. Why fo? Because he cannot but judge that any man may take up religion as he hath done, and so, by reasonings, may come to acknowledge and take up what he hath taken up, and holdeth forth, or else he is wilful and fuborn, as he judgeth. But now he that is born of God, and hath received his light, knowledge, religion, and way of worship from him, he knoweth that no man can rightly receive them but the same way; to wit, from God, by the light which he causeth to shine into the heart at his pleasure, and in the faith which he gives. So that God's free and powerful Spirit is to be waited upon, for the working of all in his people, and not any forced to act beyond, or contrary to, the principle of his life and light in them.
A QUERY concerning SEPARATION.
power of the apostles, and the getting up of the antichristian ftate, church, and worship, there must not of necessity be a separation from all these, before there can be a recovery of the life and power again, and of the true church-state, which was brought forth in the days of the apostles ? Must there not be a perfect coming out of the corrupt state (in the whole nature, several parts and degrees of it) before there can be a restoration to, and witnessing of, the true and pure ftate? Must not the Chriftians now come out of all the antichristian inventions and churches, as well as the Christians of old came out of all the heathenish worship, yea, out of the Jewish worship and church (which once was of God) before they can become an holy building, an habitation to God in the Spirit ? Yea, doth not the same Spirit which cried to the people of God then, Come out from among them, and be ye separate, &c. call and cry now, Come out of her, my people, out of Babylon, out of the false church, out of all the antichristian buildings, which are reared up after the several forms and ways of mens inventing, being out of the Spirit, life, and power which alone is able to build up in and unto the Lord? And what is that which cries out against feparation, in the day of the Lord's dividing and separating, but that spirit
which would hold back the foul from being gathered to the Lord, in the chains of darkness, and in the land of death and confusion ? Oh! that men knew that which divides and separates, and which is
appointed by God to divide and separate both inwardly and outwardly, and might feel the full work and effect of it, even perfect separation from all that is not of God, that so they might be joined to him, and built up in him, who is the life, rest, peace, joy, and pure breath of the foul for ever! The word of God is quick and powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword; and what doth it do? Why it separates between nation and nation, between church and church, between people and people, between cattle and cattle, between foul and foul, yea, between the thoughts and intents of the same heart; owning and cherishing all that is of the pure, and condemning and destroying all that is of the impure. And happy, oh! for ever happy is he, who can witness the work of this word perfected in his soul, even the axe of the Lord powerfully laid to, and having cut down all that is corrupt in him, that the pure plant of God may flourish, and bring forth fruit in him in peace, without annoyance or interruption of the impure. Then the river of life, as the streams of everlasting righteousness, shall Aow into the vessel, and Jerusalem become in and to him a quiet habitation, and no. thing be able to hurt or destroy any thing of life in him, who dwells in, and abides on, the mountain of God's holiness. Oh! blessed is the race of travellers, which in the pure light of the everlasting day are travelling thitherwards, even with their hearts and faces faithfully bent towards Sion, which is the holy, spiritual, heavenly hill of God! And blessed, oh!'blessed for ever is the Lord God of life and power, who is the faithful guider, leader, and conducter of all that follow the footíteps of the flock, in the way which is pure, true, living, and everlasting,
Concerning the washing away of Sin from the Con
science, and the Garment of Salvation, and what it is that is covered therewith.
HERE is somewhat appointed by God to wash away fin, which is
the blood of the Lamb, which are known, received, and felt by faith in the light of the Spirit, wherein alone his work is wrought.
Thus now, upon believing, the soul is washed; the faith brings in, or lets in, the water and blood, which cleanse and purge the conscience from the fin, which before stained and defiled it: and according to the faith, so is the water and blood let in, and accordingly is the washing. And he that