A General-Epistle TO THE Christian Churches, To be spread abroad amongst all professing Christianity; for a VVarning to some, and an Incouragement to others.

IOHN COX your fellow Servant, and a Messenger of Christ Jesus, in whom is our Life and eternal hope of Salva­tion, purchased for all that shall believe in his Name, when he gave himself a Sacrifice once for all; for the expiation of the Sins of the whole World, bearing them in his holy Body upon the Cross. Thus in his Person, he became Sin for us, that had no Sin; Reconciling us to the Father in his most precious blood, whil'st as yet we were Aliens, nay, Enemies unto him: So that we may cry out, and say, Ah! the height and depth of the unsearcha­ble Wisdom and Love of God in Christ Jesus; in whose saving Name, Light, Life, Spirit, and Power, I salute you every where, that call upon him, and approach near unto God the Father, by his Mediatorship, who sits at the Right Hand of his Father, continually making Intercession, as our heavenly High Priest, for us; teaching us by his Spirit, how to pray; and then offering up the Incense of our Prayers unto God the Father, and praying for us; always beholding and seeing the face of the Incomprehensible Majesty of God; to whom no Mortal Eye can approach.

This is a Trying Day, that is coming upon all the Earth, and the Inhabitants of the World, and of the Sea, a day of Anguish and unexpected Calamity shall overtake them unawares: For the day of Recompence is at hand; the Lord is drawing his glittering Sword, and his Arm shall devour Flesh; he will avenge him of his Enemies, and recompence it to his Adversaries; a day of terrour, [Page 2] a day of shaking, a day of trembling, of winnowing and sifting: and a Cousumption of all Flesh, such as never was upon the Earth, every man's hands upon his Loyns, as a Woman in Travel, because the day shall burn as an Oven, and shall leave neither Root, nor Branch. Do they consult? It shall not stand. Do they take Counsel? It shall come to nought. For the Lord is on his way, as a Gyant refresht with Wine; and as a Mighty Man of War, he shall thrash the Na­tions.

Blessed are they that fly unto the Living God for Refuge, and put their trust in the Arm of his Salvation, that look over all these Commotions that shall come upon the Earth: where Distress, Con­fusion, Contradiction, Confusion of Language and understanding, Jea­lousies, Mistrust, Falseness, betraying and devouring, and a breaking and defeating of the Wise-Societies, and Combinations, shall be: all the Wisdom of the Wise is confounded and betrayed, to his own Shame and Desolation.

Therefore look not out, for then Thoughts, Fears, and Doubts enter, and Mistrusts of God and his Sufficiency are let in, and the great Adversary of Man's Peace hearkened to, and Carnal Reason, which will cry, Master, pitty thy self, save thy self, and yet knows not where to turn for Safety. But look unto the Lord, that hath called you forth of Darkness, and visited you and your Fathers, when you sate in Darkness, and under the Region of the Shadow of Death, by the message of the Light of his glorious Gospel; and re­member how he led you, and covered your heads in the day of storm; how he gave you Srength, a Mouth, and Wisdom, and Courage in the day of your Humiliation, Simplicity, and Tenderness, when you sought the Lord in all things, and that he went in and out before you, and you waited for his dayly directions, and coun­selled all thereunto in themselves, that they all might come to be taught of the Lord, and know the Lord, from the least of the Peo­ple to the greatest. Oh! consider then, and let it rent your hearts, and humble you continually within your selves, to follow on still, to know the Lord, and to look unto the Author of our Salvation in all things: stand still: Who is this that saith, I have done this? This was by my Wisdom, my Counsel, my Labour, my Ʋnderstanding, I have brought this to pass; This will the Lord overthrow, and all the Carved Images, all the pleasant Pictures, all the fair Buildings, all the wise Platforms of Structures, the Lord will overthrow, that none may be exalted, or glory in [Page 3] any thing, but dayly dependency on the Lord, and following on▪ to know more of him; and not glorying, that Spirits are (through his Name) made subject (when Satan descends like Lightning) but rather that your Names are written in Heaven.

Dwell in the Faith, for it is written, The Just shall live by Faith. And it is Faith in the Son of God Christ Jesus, which hath caused his Light to shine in our hearts, that overcame the World first; and all that did, and do overcome the World, and in the end are crown­ed with Victory, overcome through Faith in his Name, that was, is, and is yet to come. Oh! stand stedfast, without wavering, be faithful unto Death, and he will give the Crown of Life; watch against that which would lead the Mind from Stillness and Quiet­ness, watch against Thoughts and Words, and multitudes of Cares, under pretence of Serving God and his Truth: for Christ saith, Without me ye can do nothing: and exhorts his Disciples not to be Careful, and reproves Martha (a Member of the True Church) for her being too much troubled with Serving, and complaining of her Sister to him; and reproved Peter, that thought carnally in taking upon him to admonish his Lord, though it was his Love to his Master, yet it was also his Ignorance (of the Purpose and Fore determination of God) and his Presumption that caused him to err. Therefore it is in Patient Learning, that every one must possess their own Souls: and having the Loyns of their Minds girded, and their Lamps trimmed, wait for the coming of their Lord, who will come, and his Reward is with him, to give to every one of his Servants, according to the Works he hath commanded from them to be done. Blessed are they that are watching and so­ber, that are not drunk with Pride, with Vain-Glory, with Prehe­minence; nor, are not choaked, nor furfited, nor byassed from the known Will and Mind of the Lord, for Honour and Greatness-sake which is an empty Name: And how can you believe (saith Christ) that receive Honour one from another, and not the Honour that cometh from God only. And then are found taking their Fel­low Servant by the Throat, and beating, reproaching, nick-naming, slandering, contemning, and casting forth as Dung to be trodden upon. Oh! the Lord is coming, that will cut you asunder, and will give you your Portion with Hypocrites; yea, Abusers of his Trust, you Renters of his Church, for which he died, ye proud Scof­fers, heady high-minded, Daubers, and Flatterers amongst all Peo­ple [Page 4] repent, or the Lord will be dreadful unto you; you have gone in the way of Cain, killing the Just, in the Tyranny of Nimrod, hunting before the Lord: ye Gyants, and mighty Men, the Lord will cut you off, ye are in the way of Corah, Dathan, and Abiram, that resist the Truth, and lay occasions of stumbling, and Offences before the Weak, causing the Offence of the Cross to cease, ye that render Reviling for Reviling; ye despiteful, venemous Bespat­terers of one another, to the Shame and Scorn of the World. You manifest what generation you are of, you Intruders, that have not the Wedding Garment on, but the Rags of Self-conceitedness, and swelling Thoughts, and abounding of your own naughty unmorti­fied Wisdom, carnal, sensual, and devilish: the Lord is a swift Wit­ness against you all, you Renters, and Sowers of Discord, Whisper­ers, Tale-bearers, and Baeckbiters, Disturbers of Societies, Families, Nations, Kingdoms, Princes, and People, the Lord will root you out, and take away your false Covering of pretended Religion, and you shall be a hissing to all People.

But all that love the Lord, and all that seek his Face and love his Appearance, and that nothing, whatever the pretence be, can content, or cause you to take up a Rest, short of the Lords comfor­table, inwardly refreshing, Soul-satisfying Presence, who only speaks Peace to his People, that they turn not again to Folly. Oh! dear Brethren, those words of the Messiah, are often as an Alarm sounded in my Ears, When the Son of Man comes, shall he find Faith upon the Earth? I tell you, Nay: Oh! how much talk to little purpose? How much Profession, and how little Faith in the World? Therefore awake to Righteousness, all you that sleep, that Christ may give you Life; and be not slothful and negligent, saying in heart, The Lord delays his coming; and a heart of Unbelief enter you, take heed of a Spirit of Sleep and Slumber; or, of easiness to joyn and comply with the Spirit of this World, through Discon­tentedness; Oh! whether can you go? Have you not heard him to speak to your Souls? whil'st your hearts melted within you, at his Love and Glory, that has the words of Eternal Life; therefore draw near to the Lord, and he will come, that shall come and will not tarry: yet a little while, and Satan shall be trodden under foot.

Be not dismay'd, these things happening, are not Temptations, otherwise than what in some respect, have come for a Tryal a­mongst all God's People; as ye may read in Christ's words, [Page 5] which warned his Disciples against those that cry, Lo here, and Lo there; bidding his not to go forth: and the Apostles in their Epistles, speaking of Intruders: and as there were False Pro­phets amongst the Jewish-Church, so should there be False Teachers amongst them, which unawares, should bring in damnable Doctrine, denying the Lord that bought them. Now, this was spoken of those, that erring from the Spirit, the Comforter and Leader into all Truth, should set up the Form of Godliness, denying the Power. And here hath been the Apostacy amongst the JEWS and CHRISTIANS, the one, and the other falling to Ido­latry, under a Pretence of God's Worship, and owning Christ, but denying the Sufficiency of his Spiritual and Inward Government, have set up their own Inventions and Commandments, and then have imposed Conformity and Uniformity thereunto: then there hath been produced amongst all such People, Strife, Hatred, Scorn, Wrath, Malice, Revenge, Fury, Disdain, &c. and who got the Carnal Weapon, Bodily Persecution over all the rest. And thus the Mystery Babylon, the Mother of Harlots, and abomination of the whole Earth, has wrought, and High and Low, Rich and Poor, have been made drunk and quarrelsome with the Cup of her Forni­cations, as Satan transformed, and intruding amongst the Sons of God, in his transformed, unreforming Ministers, hath exalted himself in the Temple of God, over all that may be called God, pretending to give Rules and Laws to the People in Spiritual Things, how to walk; and then his Kingdom in the Mistery, in Pride, Lordliness, and Flattery, Presumptuousness, High-minded­ness, &c. hath again gone forward: therefore, where-ever this shall be, it is naught, and the time of its stately Reign is draw­ing near unto an end; for the Lord of the Vineyard will come him­self, and will gather his into the Divine Unity; which all the Righ­teous in all Ages have waited for, and in Faith, see it afar off, and rested in hope together with us, to be made intire, compleat, and perfected in him, who is the Resurrection and Life Eternal.

But Oh! you distressed, and not forsaken; you afflicted, but never forgotten of the Lord, you Children of Zion, for whom the Lord is on his way; you that have no helper in the Earth, but for your Testimony-sake to the Lord, are set as Butts, to shoot at, by the Proud and haughty of the Earth. Ah! the Lord will espouse you in Righteousness, and everlasting Loving Kindness to himself. Be not dismay'd, the day of your Redemption draws [Page 6] near, lift up your heads and rejoyce, for all tears shall be wiped away from your Eyes. They that touch you, touch the Apple of the Lord's Eye; for which he will rebuke Nations, and distress many People; keep on your way, in which the Lord hath called, and led you by his Grace and Spirit to walk in; love the Simplicity of the Gospel, love one another unfeignedly, bridle the tongue, condiscend to them of low degree, serve one another in love, and without up­braiding; have Salt in your selves, to savour withal, for great is the Mystery of Ʋngodliness, but it has been well with the Upright in heart in all Ages and Generations, when the Wise and Crafty have been taken in their own Snare. The Wisdom of Men savours not the things of God, and this intruding and getting place, having Men's Persons in Admiration, have bred disturbance, and wise men (so called) have made work, with opposition of Science (falsly so called) one against another, troubling the Peace of the Lord's People, and ought to be avoided and shun'd, for it hath stumbled the weak. Therefore eye the Lord, and hold the Uni­ty in the Spirit; which Spirit of Truth is the bond of Perfection: And all keep out of the ways of the World, the Rock of our Sal­vation is the same, which will not permit any of us to be tryed (if we do abide in his Counsel) further than what we (he assisting) shall be able to bear, and all our troubles shall turn to our Good: the Lord will turn the Wrath of Man to our Good. Therefore hold fast what you have received of the Lord, and let a Spirit of Mercy and Tenderness compass you about; and of such as fall, have Compassion, making a difference; for some are betrayed as a Bird in the snare of the Fowler; unto whom the Lords tender Bowels are open, and he will never forget the Love of their Youth, but will pluck them as brands out of the Fire.

But that which is naught, is naught, and Flattery will not cover it, for all it can turn and face about as the Camellon. Ah! the Lord will gather the bruised, and the Out: casts of Israel. Oh! my heart is glad, I could shout for Joy, in a sense of the Messiah entring (upon his being proclaimed) into Jerusalem, though this was not known to the Wise of the Jewish-Church; their eyes were, for our good, held. Oh! what a day of gladness to all that wait for Salvation, is a coming, a day without Clouds to them that mourn now, and have been afflicted for Righteousness sake, with a day of unuttera­ble and endless Rejoycing: but to the World, of Woe, that for ly­ing Vanities, neglect so great Salvation, &c. Rejoyce, O Daughter [Page 7] of Zion, behold thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an Ass, and a Colt, the Foal of Ass.

So all look to him, of whom the Brazen Serpent in the Wilder­ness was a Figure; for the People having sinned, and being bitten by Scorpions, and dying of the wounds, they were in great Fear and Distress; and the Lord commanded Moses (for he did only the Lord's Will) to set the Serpent, made in Brass, upon a Pole on high, that so all the whole Congregation of Israel might behold it. And so it was, that whosoever was bitten, looking upon the bra­zen Serpent, was immediately healed, and dyed not: so was Christ lifted up, on a Tree, or Cross; and as Moses lift up the Serpent in the Wilderness, Christ being thus lifted up, will draw all men after him; and whosoever looks upon him, and believes in him, they are cleansed and healed, and delivered from the Old Serpent, the Devil, and all his Baits and Wildes can in no wise pluck them out of his hands, that by his Light, Spirit, and Grace, do believe in him, they have Life Eternal through Faith in his Name, and knows him in Spiritual Things, now to rule over them, and acknowledge him Law-giver unto them, that brings them out of all Strife, Wars, Divisions, and Sidings, or making Parties in this World, loving and seeking the good, the present and eternal Wel­fare of all men, from the King on the Throne, to the poorest Per­son in his Kingdoms, bearing Testimony in Practice, and in Do­ctrine, against all that shall do otherwise, knowing the Earth is the Lord's, and that by him Kings do reign.

Therefore let all approve themselves to the Lord, and that of God in the Consciences of all men, that we pass the time as So­journers here in fear, knowing that here we have no continuing Ci­ty, but that we seek one eternal in the Heavens, whose Builder and Maker is God: And that having a High Priest that is holy and harmless to make intercession for us: a Prophet, that continually (by his Spirit) teacheth us: and a Spiritual King to reign in our Hearts and Consciences. Let all take him for their Example, who did not come to do his own Will, but the Will of his Father that sent him, unto whom the Father hath given all Power in Heaven, and in Earth, and hath said to all in the voice, from the excellent Glory, from the holy Mountain; This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased, hear ye him.

Little Children, keep your selves from IDOLS. Amen.

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