A General Epistle.

DEar Friends, whom the Lord hath in this his Glorious Day visited, and in his Light plucked as Brands out of the Fire, to wait upon him, that his Great Work of Regeneration may be perfected in all of you, to your Eternal Comfort, and the Glory of the Name of our God forever, &c. And my dear Friends, seeing many are Called, and few Chosen; many Convinced, that are not Converted; and many come forth with us, and go forth from us, that are not of us, as by sad Experience hath been witnessed, &c. and from the deep Sense of this working of the Enemy, I am constrained to send this Epistle amongst you, knowing the Kingdom of God is compared unto Ten Virgins, Five Wise and Five Foolish, who had all Lamps, and slumbred in the Secure Mind, until they were awakened to enter in with their Lord, then were the Fool­ish Virgins made manifest, that though they had Lamps like the other, yet wanting the Oyl, they neither did or could enter, &c. Oh! dear and tender Friends, let all Dread the Lord, who make mention of his Name in the Light of Christ; for this Parable is to you, unto whom [Page 2] the Lord hath sent to preach to you and in you the Word of his Kingdom.

And this is upon my Spirit, in the Word of the Lord to you all convinced of the precious Truth of our God, truly to examine and search your Hearts with the Light of Christ Jesus, that you may have a certain Knowledge, how it is with you, and how you escaped the subtil Wiles of the Enemy, which have hindred so many from the Possession of the Life of Truth; and that you may truly discern, how the E­nemy draws into the foolish Conceitedness, in the Out-side and Formal Profession of the Truth feeding upon the Know­ing Part, and so stoppeth the Hunger that should reach the Life; and then in an Exaltedness saith, I See, Know, am Clothed, and want Nothing; when they are Blind, Naked, Mi­serable and want all things, and this is the State of all the Foolish Virgins, who dwell in the Outward Court, and place all their Confidence in the Form, and Outside, and Profession of Truth, and so has lost the Sense of that Hea­venly Hunger, which must possess the Life hid with God, or else it must mourn out its dayes in Sorrow. Therefore all dear Friends, watch dilligently to the Heart­searching Light, that this Mystery of Iniquity you may all discern, that so the Enemy may not prevail against you, to turn you aside, either to the Right Hand or to the Left, that whatever the Lord has convinced you of to be Evil, you may wait upon him for Strength, to preserve you out of it, that so you may Answer God's Witness in the Regulation of your Conversation in the Uprightness of your Hearts, so you may stand clear before the Lord, that you are willing to do and suffer whatever the Lord should call you to; and when you have done all this, then be you watchful to the Heart-searching Light, that the Enemy doth not draw your Minds to place your Confidence in the Work of Righteous­ness [Page 3] you have done, as the Ground of your Hope and Calling in Christ, and want Faith in him, and so cause you to rest in your Services, and so come short of the hidden Life, enjoy­ed through Faith in the Light and Life of Christ, our Righ­teousness. I beseech you, dear Friends, Wait to know your Passage in this great Mystery, where the Entrance is into the Straight Gate, where all the Foolish Virgins, though their Lamp in the Outward Profession be never so Glorious, yet through Pride in their Attainments, never entered into this Rest; and here is the farthest that ever any come, that make a Profession of Truth, that go from us, and are not of us. So tender Friends, that truly seek God's Glory, and so love his Light that you are willing to give up Life & all to do his Will; and when the Enemy would draw you to rest in what you have done, and so take the Jewels of God and play the Harlot, and deck Your Selves; you Dread the Lord, and in his Light you see more Light; and you see, That all that you have done is your Duty and your reaso­nable Service which you must do, or otherwise you perish eternally, and yet your poor Souls in the [...]ight travail on in the Foot-steps of the Flock of the Mournful Companions, who are weeping in Secret, and inwardly seeking the Lord God, to be Married unto him in that hidden Life which is hid with Christ in God; and until you enjoy the Marriage-Union, in deep Humiliation, you wait in the Light, for the Lord to create you to a lively Hope in Christ Iesus, the Second Adam. And you tender Children of my Father, who can understand in your Heavenly Travail and Exercise of Spirit what is here written, Lift up your Heads, & stay your Mind; in the Light of the Lord Jesus, which ransacks your Hearts, and doth not only keep you in Holiness of Conversation, but makes you weary of living under the Dominion of your own Thoughts and Wills: Therefore I beseech you in the [Page 4] Name of the Lord Jesus Christ; watch to the Heart-searching Light, that discerns your Thoughts and Intents, and judg­eth your Thoughts, and all Fearfulness and Unbelief; and wait in the Measure of the Light and Life, that quickeneth your immortal Souls, and hath begotten heavenly Breath­ings, Hungerings and Thirstings to eat the Flesh, and drink the Blood of the Lord Jesus. Oh thou blessed Birth! let not Streightness be upon thy Spirit; for the Bowels of the al­mighty God yearn towards thee, which cannot be satisfied with any Thing but the pure Presence of Christ to reign in thy Heart, and to exercise heavenly Authority in his Throne in thy Conscience: Oh tender Babe born of the immortal Seed! lend not thy Ear to any of thine own Thoughts, Doubts and Unbelief; neither to the Accuser, who seeks every way to discourage thee, for trusting in the Name of the Lord; but diligently incline thou thy Ear to the righteous Counsel, which is the Light and Life: The Lord will satisfie thy hungry and thirsty Soul with his everlasting Loving-kind­ness in Christ Jesus, and will create thee to a lively Hope, and marry thee to himself in his own Righteousness, where thou wilt receive Dominion to reign over thy own Thoughts and thy own will, and to walk in his Strength in the Word of Faith, which will give thee Victory over the world with­in and without; so will thy Heart be kept pure, thy Consci­ence clean, and thou cloathed with the glorious Garment, a meek, low and a quiet Spirit, and so become the Righte­ousness of God in Christ Jesus, the second Adam, and the Lord of Life and Glory; and here is the Dwelling-place of all the Sons and Daughters of Sion, Citizens of the new Ierusalem, who walk in the Light as he is in the Light, and so are Par takers of his Divine Nature, and as he is, so are we in this present world, bearing his Name in his righteous Power, guiding us in his Light, Thoughts and Will, which [Page 5] keeps us in the heavenly Fellowship with the father in the Son, and one with another in him.

So all my dear Friends; Brethren and Sisters, who do witness proud ambitious Self buried in this heavenly Bap­tism, in Conformity to Christ in his Death, and you made a­live through Faith in Christ our Light and Life, as you have received Christ, so walk in him, in all Humility, and godly Fear, and true VVatchfulness, that your own Thoughts VVill and Unbelief, have no Dominion over your Spirits; but every Minute of Time as they appear, through Faith in Christ the perfect Light and Life, keep your Dominion, and reign over them: And thus in Christ being victorious over all Self in you, you will reign as Kings, in the Autho­rity of the glorious Truth of God, over all the Power of Darkness without you: So whatever you suffer for the Te­stimony of the Name of Christ, he takes it as done unto himself; and better a Milstone were hanged about their Necks, and they cost into the Sea, then hurt or offend the least of you my Brethren and Sisters, who are regenerated and born again, and your Confidence is in the Lord alone: So in all your Sufferings, whether spoiling Goods, or im­prisonments, or whatever your Tryals be from the Sons of men, that you meet withal for your Testimony in the blessed Truth of God; let nothing Discourage you, but judge all your own Thoughts, and in the Glorious Light and Life in Christ Jesus rest in Peace in the pure Contentation with­in the Gates of Sion, where your Faith and Patience will so abound in you, that you shall weary out all your Persecu­tors, & the Blessing of the Almighty God will be upon your Families, who are rent one from another to fulfil the Suffer­ings of the Body, and you shall wear your Crowns, who thus patiently wait in a Quiet Mind and Resigned Will; And in the Word of the Lord I declare it to all you, who suffer [Page 6] Imprisonment, as is before written, That all the Wrath of the Bower of Darkness shall not be able to keep you an Hour longer then the King of Eternal Glory hath determined for the Renown of his Glorio is Truth on Earth, and your Comfort forever: Therefore let Patience have its perfect work; for; in Peace are we to Conquer, and in Quietness to Prevail over all that resist the rising of the King of Glory, who liveth in us, who hath been Dead but now Alive; in whose Life keep your Habitati­on in the Word of Faith, which is in our Hearts and in our Mouthes, and this the Word of Faith we preach unto you, and which you are to contend for against all Evil Attendan­ces both within and without; for by this Word of Faith are the Armies that would alienate your Souls from the Enjoy­ment of the Lord within you beaten back and overcome, and the Mouth of the Roaring Lyon stopt, and all the Fiery Darts of the Devil both within you and without you quenched; therefore, as the Valiants of Christ Je­sus, in his Name and Nature contend for the Faith which is delivered unto us his Saints; for this is our Victory that overcomes the World, even our Faith, as it was with our Brethren of old, in Ages past, I have fought a good Fight, I have kept the Faith, henceforth is laid up for Me a Crown of e­ternal Glory: And here is our Fellowship with the Father in the Son, and one with another in him; and all dear Bre­thren and Sisters, in this Word of Faith keep your Meetings, both valiantly and faithfully, that so none of you be found forsaking the assembling of yourselves, as the manner of some is, who are out of the Word of Faith; but as the Lord hath counted you worthy to be his Dwelling-place on Earth, and his Tabernacle amongst the Children of Men, Prize every Oportunity the Lord affordeth you, to meet toge­ther in his Powerful holy Name, with the Loins of your [Page 7] Minds girt up with the Word of Faith in you, which will empty you of Self, and clothe you with the Garment of deep Humility, and fill you with the Riches of his Everla­sting Love and Endless Mercies; for God dwelleth with the Humble, but the Proud he beholds afar off: So, without Faith in the Name of Christ and a Humble Spirit, the In-dwel­ling Presence of the King of Eternal Glory you cannot en­joy: Therefore I charge you in the Name of the Lord, Hearken not to any Suggestions within you, nor Counsels without you, that would draw you to sleight or forsake meeting together in the Name of the Lord Iesus; but let every particular Member know your Service in the Body, that by your Faithfulness others be encouraged to meet with you, to wait in the Light, to feel the Living Refreshings of the Lord; and when you are refreshed with the Income of God's sweet Presence, be watchful, that not any ut­ter words rashly before the Lord to spend your Talent in a forward spirit, to satisfie the Lust, that would appear further then the Lord would have them, as some have done, which has brought them under a great Vail of Darkness, & have lost their Way, and retur­ned with Sorrow, to the burdening the hearts of the Righteous; but Tender Plants, wait to know & truly discern between the Milk of the Word, and the Word; for the Milkof the Word is a Sweet Stream in the Refreshing, to the Nourishment of this heavenly Birth, that it may grow thereby; and some the Enemy hath drawn to speak forth that which they in a retired Silence were to feed upon, and grow up in its Nature. Therefore, dear Friends, wait in the Light, that the VVord of the Lord may dwell plentifully in you, as it is written, so are we VVitnesses; If any have my Word, let him speak my Word faithfully; is not my Word like a Fire and a Hammer, that breaks the Rocks in pieces? which sealeth up the Testimony God calleth unto in the Heart of his Disciples: Therefore all be very circum­spect in this weighty Matter, that whatever you feel of [Page 8] the Refreshings of God in you, that you do not let any thing come forth, either in Words or Sounds, or any Noises, but what is brought forth in the Authority of this Living and Powerful Word; then will the Blessing of the Lord attend what is brought forth, be it much or little, either in Words, or Hymns, or Ioyful Sounds, do not quench it, but answer the Lord in the Authority of the Word of Eternal Life; and the Sons and Daughters of the Lord, who are thus exerci­sed, will not burden any, but it will be a Stream of Re­freshing in the Hearts of all the Righteous; thus will every Vessel be preserved in the Life of Truth, and not go but as the Presence of the Lord goes before them: Therefore let all dread and fear the Mighty God, who have received any Gift, to see that the True Birth possess the Gift, which Birth makes Self of no Reputation, that so the Lord of Life may exercise every one in the Improvement of their Gift, to the Comfort of his People and his Eternal Glory, and none go further then they have Assurance they are called of the Lord, and his Heavenly Powerful Presence goes before them; so will the Lord bless the Travail of every Soul, and the Body be kept in the Pure, Sweet, Seasoned and Savoury Life, which e [...]h the Body in the Love and Life of God, which cannot be exprest; and all that will not wait thus to be ex­ercised, as is here written, but go out of their Places, bur­then the Life, weary the Faithful, and if they do not give over, and submit to the Government of Christ to reign in them, and wait in true Silence, that they may speak no more of him but as he uttereth his Voice through them; my Soul pitieth them; for they will be as Wandring Stars, and Darkness will come upon them; therefore be Warned, whose Consciences witness what is here written to be your Conditions, &c.

And all tender Friends, Be very watchful and careful to [Page 9] keep your Meetings upon all Services on Truth's Account, both Sons and Daughters, born of God, that there may be no Confusion, but a sweet Submission to one another in the Light and Life of Christ Jesus, that as the Lord hath bles­sed your Meetings and Labour of Love for the Body's sake, keep your Minds stay'd upon the Lord, out of all Consultings with Flesh and Blood, or any Strivings to appear to be any thing but what the Lord is in you, to keep you all in Humility, in a pure Subjection unto Christ, that he may Silence all the Counsel of Flesh in you, and keep you in his holy Dread and pure Fear, to receive Wisdom from him, to guide you to determine all Matters brought before you, so that every one have your Eye to the Lord, to eye his Glo­ry in all your Words and Works; so will Love abound, and the Blessing of the Lord will be in the midst of you, to guide you all in his pure Fear to do to every one as you would be done unto, and watch over one another with a Pure Single Eye at all times, that your Single Eye may be to the Good in one another, and your Tenderness in the Love of God in all Humility to reach to the Measure of God, to raise it up, and thus will you stand in the Heavenly Nature Saviours upon Mount Sion, to bring again them that stray, and so restoring them with the Spirit of Meekness; and here is Christ and his Disciples Washing one anothers Feet in all Humili­ty and Heavenly Condescension (one unto another) the Strong bearing the Burden of the Weak, and gently lead­ing them forth, out of that which burdens the Pure, into the Light and Path of Life, where the building up one an­other is in the most holy Word of Faith, where we sit to­gether in our Heavenly Places in Christ, where Self is made of No Reputation, but every one Serving the Lord, casting down our Crowns before his Throne, and with one accord singing the Sons of the Redeemed from the Earth; all Glory, [Page 10] all Honour, all Praises & Thanksgiving Dominion be given unto him, who is found worthy to sit upon the Throne in our Consciences, to feed us with the Bread that is sure, and refresh us with the Water that never faileth; so we that are many are made one Bread, eating the Flesh of Christ, and drinking his Blood, where we have Life, and that abun­dantly, and we comforted together in our Heavenly Mansi­ons, in our sweet and pure Fellowship of the Gospel in Christ our Righteousness, who is One, his Name and Na­ture One in all his People; and Salvation is unto us for Walls and Bulwarks; and here have we Peace, in this Holy City, New Ierusalem, which the World knoweth not, neither can they take it from us; & here is no Strife nor Contention with­in her Gates, but we witness the Promise of the Lord fulfilled, I will make Jerusalem a Quiet Habitation: In this City there is no more Curse, but the Name and Image of God is written in the Foreheads of them that dwell therein; that all that have to deal with them, as they mind God's Witness in any Measure, will confess, These are the People of the Most High God, born of the Righteous Seed, which the Lord hath Blessed. And in this Heavenly Government, dear Brethren and Sisters, all keep your Meetings, and the blessed Presence of the Lord fill all your Hearts, and inlarge his Love in you and amongst you, to your mutual Comfort one of another, and the Honour of his Great Name, who is over all God blessed forever.

So will you, dear Friends and Brethren, comfort the Hearts of all Travailing Friends and Brethren, who have not loved their Lives to Death to serve the Lord, and gather you home into this Heavenly Rest; the very Sense of their faithful Labours & Travails, seeking nothing for Themselves, but the Honour of God and your Establishment in this Rest, it takes deep Impression upon my Heart, both they that have finished, who here did wear the Garments of Humility, and [Page 11] now the Crown of Eternal Glory, & my dear Brethren that are yet on this side the Grave, who are labouring in the Ser­vice of the Lord, in Faithfulness, in the Gospel of the Lord Iesus; dear Friends, let your Hearts be affected as mine is, that the End of their Labours may be answer'd in your Faith­fulness, in keeping your Meetings according to all the Ex­hortations that you have had through the Faithful Labourers and is expressed in this Epistle, that you may grow up as an Holy Priesthood, offering up the living and holy Sacrifice in your faithful Testimony and pure Unity of Spirit and Bond of Peace, where my Soul is bound up with you in this Heavenly Rest in Christ Jesus our Light and Life over all ex­alted in us to Reign, who is worthy for evermore, in whom I rest;

Your Dear Brother, William Dewsberry.

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