Many deep CONSIDERA­TIONS have been upon my heart concerning the STATE of ISRAEL, both past, present and to come, some of which I find drawings to communicate; together with some QUESTIONS and ANSWERS concerning UNITY.

The Considerations concerning Israel, are these which follow.

1. THe pretious living State, which my soul remembreth to have been, about the beginning of the late trou­bles of this Nation, when Israel was bent to seek after the Lord, and applied their hearts to wait upon him in fastings and earnest supplications, wherein my heart hath often had the testimony, that they were accepted of him, and had many times the seal of his presence and power a­mong them: yea my heart did truly unite with and enjoy the Lord in what was then given forth, and I can never be drawn to deny the truth and worth of that dispensation, though I know it was swallowed up by a greater desolation, soon following after, and since by the breaking forth of a more lively dispensation.

2. The over-running of that state by the subtilty of the enemy, drawing the minds of the simple and upright-hearted from the [Page 2] living feeling, and from the inward power of Religion, into Disputations and Contentions about Forms of Worship and Church-government, which drew out the reasoning part, and withdrew the spirit of the mind from feeding on its proper nou­rishment; and so Life decayed in the Spirit, while Wisdom and Knowledge and Subtilty encreased in the Understanding. And so the upright-hearted missing of Life, where before they had found it, were scattered up and down to seek after it: and those, who abode where they were, grew dry, barren and con­tentious, losing the savour, sweetness, meekness, love, and indeed whatever was living and pretious, and remained fixing their minds on that, which the Lord had departed from. Oh the darkness and misery of this state! O the pain of the hearts where Life was stirring, for want of the living God! O the death and formality of those, that were dead and formal! Sure­ly had not the Lord pittied his People in this state, and appear­ed to them in his Life and Power (which this great desolation made way for) it had been determined concerning Israel for ever: for Death had over-grown the generality, and Life was even gasping and expiring in the single-hearted.

3. The pretious breaking forth of the Lord (at this dismal time, in this hour of distress and desperate condition of Israel) in some hidden Vessels, whom he had kept waiting upon him, and whom he had preserved fresh in the sense of him: to whom his appearance was very glorious, to whom he opened the state of the Earth and the state of his People, giving them the Ever­lasting Gospel to preach to the Inhabitants of the Earth, and pro­mising them that his Spirit and Power should go along with them, bidding them go forth to till and dress the Earth, and to gather his People into his Fold. And who can utter what the glory of this Light was, in its shining and breaking forth in their hearts! how welcome to their weary souls, how pleasant to the eye of their spirits, how demonstrative and satisfactory to their hearts! O the joy of that day (surely it can never be forgotten by them) wherein they sensibly felt the pouring down of the Spirit of Life upon them, and their hearts gathered into the bosom of Eternal Rest, and their souls and bodies sanctified and set apart for the Lord and his Service.

[Page 3] 4. The contemptible means God put into their hands, to work his work by; which was not by preaching any new thing, but by directing to a Principle, which God had already hid in the earth of every man's heart, and which was to be known by its divine Nature and Light, turning against and repoving sin, testifying that this was the way the Lord of Heaven and Earth had chosen, to bring his Sons and Daughters into the Power and Glory of his Life. O what heart can receive this, what eye can see any beauty in this, but that which the Lord toucheth and openeth! I testifie (in the sence of Life) that the wisdom of man, yea the wisdom of Israel corrupted, cannot but despise and turn from this. Is not this the lowest of all dispensations? Is not this common to all mankind? Doth not this fall short (in its self as I may say, and as it hath formerly been dispensed) of the dispensation of the Law of Moses to the Jews, much more of the dispensation by Christ and his Apostles? Who would have looked for the Lord here! And yet this hath the Lord cho­sen to gather his People by, and to appear to the world in, and hath gathered the Life, Vertue and Substance of all former Dis­pensations into it, as those who are gathered thereby and have waited upon him therein, and felt the Nature and Power of his Life (and seen things past, present and to come) are living Witnesses of, against all the gain-sayings, thoughts and reason­ings of flesh and blood.

5. The contemptibleness of the Vessels, which the Lord chose to fill with this Treasure, and to let forth this dispensation of his Life through. They were for the most part mean, as to the outward, young country lads, of no dèep understanding or ready expression, but very fit to be despised every where by the wisdom of man, and onely to be owned in the Power of that Life, wherein they came forth. How ridiculous was their man­ner of coming forth and appearance, to the eye of man! about what poor, trivial circumstances, habits, gestures and things did they seem to lay great weight, and make great matters of mo­ment! How far did they seem from being acquainted with the Mysteries and Depths of Religion! But their chief preaching was Repentance, and about a Light within, and of turning to that, and proclaiming the great and terrible Day of the Lord to be at hand: [Page 4] wherein I confess my heart exceedingly despised them, and can­not wonder that any wise man, or sort of Professors did, or do yet despise them. Yea they themselves were very sensible of their own weakness, and unfitness for that great work and service wherewith the Lord had honoured them, and of their inability to reason with man; and so (in the fear and in the watch of their spirits) kept close to their tetsimony, and to the movings of his power, not mattering to answer or satisfy the reasoning part of man, but singly minding the reaching to and raising of that, to which their Testimony was.

6. The blessing that God gave to this his dispensation of Life in their hands. O how did the Lord prosper them in gathering his scattered wandering sheep into his fold of Rest! How did their words drop down like dew, and refresh the hungry thirsty souls! How did they reach to the Life in those to whom they mi­nistred, raising up that which lay dead in the grave, to give a li­ving testimony to the living voice of God in them! How did they batter the wisdom and reasonings of man, making the lofti­ness thereof stoop and bow to the weak and foolish babe of the begettings of Life! Eye hath not seen, ear hath not heard, nor hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive, what the power of Life hath wrought through them in the hearts and consciences of those, who have longed after and waited for the Lord. O the breathings and meltings of soul, the sence of the living presence of God, the subjecting of the heart unto the Lord, the awakening of and giving strength unto his Witness, the falling down and weakning of the powers of darkness, the clear shining of the Light of Life in the heart, and the sweet running of the pure streams thereof into the enlivened souls, which hath often been known and sealed to from the powerful appearance of God in their ministry! Indeed when I have con­sidered these and such like things in my heart, and narrowly marked them in my converse with them, I have been often for­ced to cry out concerning them, Truly here is man very weak and contemptible, but God very glorious and powerful. And indeed, when at any time I looked on the man, I was hardly able to for­bear disdaining them: but on the other hand, when the eye of my spirit beheld the power and glory of the Lord in them, I [Page 5] could hardly forbear over-esteeming and exalting them.

7. The glory which the Lord advanced these Vessels to, since his beginning to make use of them. How hath he enriched them with gifts and abilities, and every way fitted them for the service and employment, he hath had for them! How hath he enlarged their ministry, that they who had very little to say, either by way of declaration or disputation at first, now abound with strength, and abundantly surpass the knowledge and wis­dom both of the World, and of other Professors of Religion! The Lord indeed hath adorned them, putting his beauty upon them, and causing them to grow up in his strength, and in his wisdom. This mine eye hath seen and often took notice of, blessing the Name of the Lord, and praying to him for their preservation. And surely whoever he be, that hath either known himself or heard the relation of the poverty of these young striplings, when they first came forth in the Power of the Lord, how empty in themselves they then were, how sensible they went up and down of their own weakness, how little they had to say to peo­ple, that came to observe them and enquire of them, how afraid they were to be drawn from their watch, at what a distance they stood from entring into reasoning about things, I say, he that did know and doth consider this, and shall also behold how the Lord hath advanced them since, making them mighty and honourable with his gifts and abilities (with the beauty where­of the very man flourisheth, to the sight of every eye that is in any measure truly open) cannot but acknowledge the change to be wonderful.

8. I have had the sence and consideration of this also in my heart, That their danger is now greater, then when they were poorer, weaker, and not so enriched and gifted by the Lord. The enemy is very subtil and watchful, and there is danger to Israel all along, both in the poverty and in the riches; but the greater danger is in the riches: because then man is apt to forget God, and to lose somewhat of the sence of his dependance (which keeps the soul low and safe in the Life) and also to suf­fer somewhat of exaltation to creep upon him, which presently in a degree corrupts and betrays him. The heart that is in any measure lifted up in its self; so far it is not upright to the Lord. Let [Page 6] every one feel this, waiting to be preserved, and praying for those who are most beautified, and advanced by gifts and abili­ties from the Life, because in this respect (and at this time) their danger is greatest. When Israel is poor, low, weak, trem­bling, seeing no loveliness nor worthiness in himself, but de­pending upon the meer mercy, and tender bowels of the Lord in the free Covenant of his love &c, then is Israel safe. But when he hath a being given him in the Life, and is richly adorned with the ornaments of Life, and come to have the power it self in his hand to make use of; then is he in more danger of becoming somewhat of himself, and of forgetting him that formed him (being apt to make use of his gifts without such an immediate sence of the giver, as he had in his trembling and weak estate) and so of departing out of that humble, tender, abased, contrite state and temper of spirit, wherein he was still preserved.

9. This also hath been manifest to me, and deeply impressed on my spirit all along, That the Lord may, if he see good, suf­fer some great and eminent ones to fall in Israel. Man may for­get himself, and the Lord may let out temptation upon him, and suffer it to enter, that he may bring him to the sence and feeling of his weakness again. Yea, those who have felt the power of the Lord in and through an instrument, may give more to the instrument than belongs unto it, and so put the Lord upon re­covering the honour due to him, which is misplaced and misap­plied to that, which is but his instrument. This is the Lord's day (the Light thereof is his, the Life his, the Power his) and the glory thereof will he not give to another. If therefore any man, in this day, shall take to himself what belongs to the Lord, or any other shall give it him, the Lord will not so lose it, but will find out a way to recover his own: And happy is the man, who lieth continually perfectly-abased before the Lord, assum­ing nothing of the Lord's to himself, nor attributing any thing of the Lords to another, that the Lord alone may be exalted eve­ry where. And let all gifts serve the Seed, and its rising over all gifts be waited for, that the Life every where may have its due, being lifted up over all.

10. I have had a deep sence of this also, That if the Lord should suffer such a thing to fall out among us, it may cause a [Page 7] great shaking and shattering in Israel. Surely I may say, it would come very unexpectedly and unsuspectedly to many; and so such persons would be surprized with it, and not at all prepared for it. Alas, who could suspect (feeling persons so eminent in the power, and so exercised and skilful in the way and paths of righteousness, and so able to instruct others therein) that they could possibly fall in any degree, from the Truth and Power of Life! And yet they are not free from temptation: and if they be confident of their own strength, and forget the tender hand of the Lord, he may suffer a temptation to enter them, which presently begets a ground for evil weeds to spring up in, and for blindness, and hardness, and error from the pure Power to creep in at.

O dear Friends, who know the pretiousness of Life, and de­sire the preservation of the Lord in your several conditions, Let us fear the Lord and his goodness to us, remembring what a low ebb we were at, when the Lord visited us, and how freely he visited, and how freely he daily preserveth, that we may not be hardened or lifted up against the World, or against any sort of Professors, but may magnifie the grace which hath made and keepeth up the difference between us and them, praying to the Lord for them, and watching for the hour of his mercy to them, exercising all manner of sweetness and meekness and long­suffering towards them in the mean time, also pittying and bear­ing with all the tempted ones among our selves, as such who are sensible that we also may be tempted, and that understand the ground why we fall not by the temptation.

What shall I say more? There are three Queries appearing in my view, in relation to this thing, which the hearts of some may desire satisfaction about, to which I find somewhat in way of answer springing up in me.

Querie 1.

How may a man, whom the Lord hath exalted by gifts and servi­ces to him, be preserved from falling?


1. There is that which waiteth to preserve & is still stretching [Page 8] forth its hand to keep to its self that which it hath gathered, which being hearkened and yeelded unto in its discoveries and warnings, will not fail to deliver the soul from the danger and snares of every condition.

2. There is the free mercy and love of the Covenant, where­in the soul may find help and pity, although it should be some­what tainted and entangled with the snares of the enemy.

3. There is a proper frame or state of spirit, to wit of humili­ty and brokenness, which is fit for Israel in every condition, but more especially when he is exalted in the dominion and power of Life, and honoured with great gifts and services for the Lord. In this Israel is safe: and happy is he, who is not suffered to abide in any degree of exaltation of spirit, but is brought down again (through the tender mercy and love of the Lord) into this, though by the buffetings of Satan.

Querie 2.

How may the little ones, if the Lord should suffer one or more (of such as have been very eminent in his service) to decline and fall, how may they be preserved from falling with him or them?


Keeping to the measure of Life in the particular, and not va­luing others, by an apprehension concerning them, but onely knowing and honouring them as they are felt and discerned in the Life, this will preserve every particular (that is thus order­ed) from being tainted with any of their snares or deviations. O Israel, O little Babes, Know no man after the flesh, but the Lord alone in his living Spirit. For man is but a vessel, wherein the Life may appear or disappear at pleasure; and the Lord is not engaged to make use of man in his service, further then he seeth good. The Lord may appear where he hath never appeared be­fore, and he may not appear where he hath hitherto appeared very frequently and powerfully. O know the Life in thine own heart, that is to be the Judge in thee concerning the appearances of Life in others. If that judge not, be still and silent in thy [Page 9] heart, waiting for its judgement: when that judgeth, let all thy thoughts and reasonings be bowed down under it. Let man have no more than his due, while the Lord pleaseth to make use of him; and to such there will accrue no great shaking or dam­mage, when the Lord layeth aside any of his own instruments. But if any thing but the Life judge, it will still either be setting up or throwing down man, whereby there will come loss on ei­ther hand in the issue, to all such who thus act.

Querie 3.

How may any such, as have fallen from an high and glorious state in the power and dominion of Life, be again recovered?


Indeed this is a very difficult thing: not because the Mer­cy and Power of the Lord is at a loss to or concerning man in this state, but because this condition sets a man's spirit at so great a distance from the use of that remedy, which the Lord hath appointed for man's recovery. It is very hard to bring such an one to the sence of his loss (whereby the depth of his fall might be prevented) until he be gone very far: and the far­ther he goes in his declining from the Life, the harder will his recovory be. Again, It is hard for such an one to become so poor, and lye so low and so long at the foot of God's grace, as al­so to be contented to be so laid aside and not made use of, as the Spirit of the Lord may judge necessary for him, to bring him in­to a perfect abasement of spirit, and to work that perfectly out of him, whereby the enemy now entred to betray him: yea the judgement of the Lord (the righteous and severe judgement of the Lord) is hard to be born in this state; and it is much, if such a Vessel do not break here, in its new forming on the wheel. Yet that which boweth before the Lord, being willing to be smitten and abased by him, and to lye under his correction and judgement his season, even until he say it is enough, the Lord will without doubt restore into his favour, if not also into the honour of his service again.


But some tender heart may say (which feeleth many weaknesses, much unbelief and the danger of falling daily) if this be true, O what will become of me! If such as these be liable to fall, and to fall so dan­gerously, how shall I stand! I was wounded enough before with the sence of mine own condition, but this affrighteth me much more.


O tender heart, the enemy may make use of this to trouble and afflict thee, but it was not so intended by the Lord, who is very full of unutterable bowels, and who hath a day of bow­els for thy state: yea his day, which hath already dawn­ed, is so dawning, as to reach thee. The Lord hath not yet done gathering his scattered sheep, nor yet shown the utmost skill he hath, either to gather or to preserve: and the state of the weak­est, under the preserving power of the Lord is safe. Creat are the diseases of Israel, great is yet the loss of scattered souls, which as yet know not the call of the shepherd; and if at any time they do feel a touch thereof, are easily reasoned again out of it, and driven back by the thoughts of their own hearts. O great, great also is the skill of the shepherd, and his hand very tender, which the Lord is putting forth for the help of th [...]se, blessed be his Name. And as the condition of these needs and requires that from the nature and soul of the Lord, which the conditions of others do not require: So the nature of the Lord hath mercy and love in it to answer their states, and will give it out in his day and season; O let none be offended thereat. Let no eye throughout all Israel be evil, because the Lord is ex­ceeding good. If he please to kill the fatted Calf, and set it be­fore his Prodigal Son; let none that have walked faithfully with him in any dispensation, be offended thereat: but rather let all (in whom is Life) stand ready to shout at the issuings forth of love and mercy, in the varieties of the dispensations thereof, according to the need and capacity of every sort of Vessels, prepared by the Lord to receive it. Therefore, O thou afflicted, [Page 11] tossed with tempest and not comforted, thou shalt know and feel this from the Lord, that he knoweth how to bring home his consola­tions to thy soul, and to cast thee into the mold of his Life, and bring thee forth in the power of his righteousness; and that he needeth not to find any worthyness or righteousness in thee: for he can create and make room for it in thy heart, yea he can be­gin, carry on, and perfect his work in thee for his own Names sake. And to thee, O broken soul, I cannot (so much) say, Do this or believe this; but rather, The Lord will work in thee, yea the Lord will quicken Faith in thee, and raise up his own Nature from the Seed of his own Life, which he himself hath sown in thy inward parts, and will not fail to preserve.

Besides, this broken state of thine (wherein the vileness and weakness of self is daily felt, with the exceeding great need of the Lords preserving power and mercy) is a safe state, towards which, that which (alone) preserveth is continually issuing forth in the bowels of its tenderness. And though thou dost not see the love of the Lord and his tender care over thee (and so wantest the comfort of thine own condition;) yet it is never a whit the less in the heart and spirit of the Lord towards thee: and in divers respects, I may say, it is better for thee at pre­sent to want the sight of it. I am satisfied in my heart concerning the nature and ways of the Lord, and I know there is that Mer­cy in him, which my soul crieth for; and that it is not onely treasured up, but about to be issued forth towards those for whose sakes the cry is unto him for it. The Lord will arise and have mercy upon Sion, even upon the mourners and distressed ones in Sion; he will say to them who are of a fearful heart, and mourn bit­terly because of their unbelief (finding themselves as unable to Believe now for Righteousness, as ever the Jews were to Work for it) be strong, stand still, wait on me your God, behold my righte­ousness is ready to be revealed, and I am bringing that faith with me which ye want, to give your souls the enterance into my Promises, and into my Divine Nature promised. Ye are my Lambs, and my bosom is for you, and thither will I gather you; yea, ye have already conceived and are with young, though ye know it not, and I will lead you on gently in a way that ye cannot nor never shall know, as ye would know it, but shall not want or miss of that knowledge thereof, that I [Page] see good for you. I will beget a deeper Life in you, and bring it forth after a deeper way of dispensation, than ye have yet been acquainted with, or than your understandings can comprehend: but in the death which I am bringing upon you, and in the travelling pangs which ye shall feel in your hearts, shall it spring up in you and be brought forth. O dear Lambs, mind the quickenings of Life, and the savour and sence which the Lord begets in the heart, and let the out­ward knowledge (even of what ye have had experience) go, but as the Lord quickens it: and mind not the noises of thoughts and reasonings about things, which the soul's enemy will be striving to fill you with and batter you by; but sink down from these, and wait to feel that which lyes beneath them, in the free nature, life, vertue, power and motions whereof alone is your soul's salvation: and if ye cannot receive the sence of this di­rection at present, wait on the Lord either for it, or for what other manifestation or tender help he shall please to give forth unto you.

Some Questions and Answers concerning Spiritual Unity.

Quest. 1.

VVHat is Spiritual Unity?


The meeting of the same spiritual nature in divers, in one and the same spiritual center or streams of Life. When the spi­rits or souls of creatures are begotten by one Power into one Life, and meet in heart there: so far as they thus meet, there is true Unity among them.

Quest. 2.

Wherein doth this Unity consist?


In the Life, in the Nature, in the Spirit wherein they are all [Page 13] begotten, and of which they are formed, and where their meet­ing is. It consists not in any outward or inward thing of an in­feriour nature, but onely keeps within the limits and bounds of the same Nature. The doing the same thing, the thinking the same thing, the speaking the same thing, this doth not unite here in this state, in this nature, but onely the doing or thinking or speaking of it in the same Life. Yea though the doings or thoughts or words be divers, yet if they proceed from the same Principle and Nature, there is a true Unity felt therein, where the Life alone is judge.

Quest. 3.

How is this Unity preserved?


Onely by abiding in the Life, onely by keeping to the Pow­er and in the Principle, from whence the Unity sprang, and in which it stands. Here is a knitting of Natures, and a fellow­ship in the same spiritual center. Here the divers and different motions of several members in the body (thus coming from the Life and Spirit of the Body) are known to and owned by the same Life, where it is fresh and sensible. It is not keeping up an outward knowledge (or belief concerning things) that u­nites, nor keeping up an outward conformity in actions, &c. for these may be held and done by another part in man, and in ano­ther nature; but it is by keeping and acting in that, which did at first unite. In this there is neither matter nor room for divi­sion: and he that is within these limits, cannot but be found in the oneness.

Quest. 4.

How is this Unity interrupted?


By the interposition of any thing of a different nature or spi­rit from the Life. When any thing of the earthly or sensual part [Page 14] comes between the Soul and the Life, this interrupts the Soul's unity with the Life it self, and it also interrupts its unity with the Life in others, and the unity of the Life in others with it. Any thing of the man's spirit, of the man's wisdom, of the man's will, not bowed down and brought into subjection, and so not coming forth in and under the authority and guidance of Life, in this is somewhat of the nature of division: yea the very knowledge of truth and holding of it forth, by the man's wisdom and in his will, out of the movings and power of the Life, brings a damp upon the Life and interrupts the Unity; for the Life in others cannot unite with this in spirit, though it may own the words to be true.

Quest. 5.

How may this Unity be recovered, if at any time decaying?


In the Lord alone is the recovery of Israel, from any degree of loss in any kind, at any time, who alone can teach to retire into and to be found in that, wherein the Unity is and stands, and into which division cannot enter. This is the way of resto­ring unity to Israel, upon the sence of any want thereof, even every one through the Lord's help retiring (in his own particu­lar) and furthering the retirings of others to the Principle of Life, that every one there may feel the washing from what hath in any measure corrupted, and the new begetting into the pow­er of Life. From this the true and lasting unity will spring a­main, to the gladding of all hearts that know the sweetness of it, and who cannot but naturally and most earnestly desire it. O mark therefore, The way is not by striving to beget into one and the same apprehension concerning things, nor by endeavour­ing to bring into one and the same practices; but by alluring and driving into that, wherein the Unity consists, and which brings it forth in the Vessels, which are seasoned therewith and ordered thereby. And from this let all wait for the daily-new and living knowledge, and for the ordering of their conver­sations and practises in that Light (and drawings thereof) and in that simplicity and integrity of heart, which the Spirit of Life at present holdeth forth and worketh in them; and the Life [Page 15] will be felt, and the Name of the Lord praised in all the tents of Jacob, & through all the habitations of his Israel: and there will be but one heart, & one soul, and one spirit, and one mind, and one way and power of Life: and what is already wrought in every heart, the Lord will be acknowledged in and his Name praised, and the Lord's season contentedly waited, for his filling up of what is wanting any where. So the living God (the God of Israel, the God of everlasting tender bowels and compassions to Israel) fill the vessels of his heritage with his Life, and cause the peace and love of his ho­ly Nature and Spirit to descend upon their dwellings, and to spring up powerfully in them towards his living Truth, & towards one another.

And let all strive to excel in tenderness, and in long-suffer­ing, and to be kept out of hard and evil thoughts one of another, and from harsh interpretations concerning any thing relating to one another. Oh this is unworthy to be sound in an Israelite towards an Egyptian, but exceeding shameful and inexcusable to be found in one brother towards another. How many weaknes­ses doth the Lord pass by in us! how ready is he to interpret every thing well concerning his Disciples, that may bear a good interpretation! The Spirit, saith he, is willing: but the Flesh is weak. When they had been all scattered from him upon his death, he did not afterwards upbraid them, but sweetly gathered them again. O dear Friends, have we received the same Life of sweet­ness! Let us bring forth the same sweet fruits, being ready to excuse, and to receive what may tend towards the excuse of ano­ther in any doubtful case; and where there is any evil mani­fest, Wait, O wait to overcome it with good. O let us not spend the strength of our Spirits, in crying out of one another because of evil, but watch and wait where the mercy and the healing vertue will please to arise. O Lord my God, when thou hast shewen the wants of Israel in any kind sufficiently (whether in the particular or in the general) bring forth the supply thereof from thy fulness, so ordering it in thine eternal wisdom, that all may be ashamed and abased before thee, and thy Name praised in and over all.


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