A FAITHFUL Warning & Exhortation TO FRIENDS To Beware of Seducing Spirits, And to keep on the Armour of Light, in Sincerity and Simplicity, as their best Armour in all TRYALS

Written by a Lover of Sincerity, and Traveller for Sion's Re­demption, and for the Removing of all Oppresions from off the Souls of them who have believed, STEPHEN CRISP.

Reprinted and Sold by William Bradford at Philadelphia, in Pennsilvania, in the Year 1692.

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A Faithful Warning & Exhortation to Friends.

Dear Friends;

YOu know how that God in his infinite Love hath visited us with a very glorious Day, in which his Son of Righ­teousness is so r [...]en upon us that the heavenly warm [...]h thereof hath quickened and enlivened us, and made us to stand up and serve him in our Day and Generation; and the Virtue of that blessed Life in Christ Jesus being revealed in the Souls of them who have truly believed, hath given them great Power over Death, and hath made them able to grapple with Satan in all his divers appearances, and to overcome him; so that which way soever he hath hitherto sought to ecclipse the Glory and Brightness of this great and notable day of the Lord, he hath hitherto been frustrated in his purpose, and his Instruments have been made ashamed of their Work; for all that are true Children of the day, do find that their standing is by Faith, and not by Knowledge, and are by their Faith kept in a holy depen­dance upon the Power of him that can overcome all things, and bring them under; so that whatever doth arise against the Truth the Fa [...]h of them that are in it, lets them, even in the beginning of it, see to the end of i [...], & gives them a certainty in themselves, by which they are settled in patient and quiet waiting to see the thing they believe brought [...]o pass; and this is their Victory, even their Faith, and who dwells in this Faith, are not w [...]ry, neither do they faint in all the various Exercises they meet with­al in the way, but can endure Contradiction without discourage­ment, knowing, that whatever it is that ris [...]th up against the Power and Purpose of God, shall in time be laid low.

And this is the same Faith that was once delivered to the Sa [...]uts in the primitive days, when Christ the Resurrection and [Page 4] the Life was preached unto them, [...] they beli [...]ed, and by whom they were enabled both to do and suffer [...] will was, and to withstand the Torrent & Sea of Contradi [...]ons they then met withal, and the Word of God grew mightily, & their Zeal and Courage grew for the Name of God, so that no strata­gem devised against them could prosper, as long as they kept in the simp [...]city o [...] the Gospel, and h [...]ld their Faith which they had in a pure Con [...]orence▪ here were then great Fortifications, that made them so prevalent and immutable, viz. Simplicity and Cleanness of Mind; and as long as this continued, they continued of one Heart and Mind, glorifying God, and building up one another, and comforting o [...]e another, and were as Ep [...]t [...]es writ­ten in one anothers hearts.

Now when the Devil saw that it was impossible to stop this glorious work of God, by all he could do, by stirring up the Priests and Rulers against them, but their strength was in the Lord, they standing in their simplicity and pureness of Mind; then the Adversary sought out ways, means and instruments how to disturb their progress, by drawing one or other among them­selves from that simplicity of the Gospel of Christ, in which they had been of one heart, and had believed and practised the same things, without vain Disputations, and having found some un­stable Souls fit for his purpose, he wrought powerfully in them to move Questions, which had a tendency to draw others forth to striving about the Question, then one would have it THUS, and the other would maintain it to be SO, neither of them minding whether the Question it self tended to the use of edi­fying the Church; but a great stir was quickly raised, and that about some few Jewish Rites, and about some right or wrong Descents in Geneologys, one would prove it Thus, and the other So; and here was a door opened to let in the Carnal Wisdom▪ to be the Weapons of this War, by which the pure innocent Minds of many were corrupted, and some whole Housholds subverted; which when the Devil [...]ad thus far [Page 5] prevailed, he went no further, and gave Courage to some of these his High-minded, Heady, Unruly Servants to go abroad through the Churches, and preach up these his Questions, as Doctrines, and to seduce and draw away who they could from the simplicity of the Gospel, and these were so prevalent as to be witch and betray many; so that they were imboldned to withstand the true Apostles in that glorious work in which Christ Jesus had imployed them; so that now a great deal of their work was to warn the poor flock of Christ of these Wolves in Sheeps Cloathing, and to give our Testimonies of their own sincerity, and against these deceitful Workers▪ and to open and unfold the mysterious working of that evil Spirit, & how it wrought cunningly to make void the Offence of the Cross, that they might carry on the Name and outward Pro­fession of Christianity, with more Reputation & less Reproach than at the first, for this was the design, to get the Christians into a false Liberty, and to loosen their hearts from that sin­cerity and watchfulness which was taught them in the begin­ning, and to what a height the subtil Serpent carried on [...] work in that day, you may read at large in the Scriptures of Truth, and what sad & woful work it made in Corinth, in Galati [...], in Smyrna, in Thiatyra, and in La [...]dicea, and also in Achaia, and what sorrow and labour it cost the good Apostles, and how the good Spiri [...]t was grieved by these things, and the Hearts of the Righteous made sad thereby.

Yet the Enemy had in those days another Stratagem as bad as all the rest whereby he sought to lay waste the work of God; for after the Gospel came to spread abroad, & many were con­vinced, both Jews & G [...]ntiles, many Greeks also came to acknow­ledge the Truth who had been great seekers after [...]atural Wis­dom, and had sought [...]o fathom natural Causes & Effects, and had studied many [...]urious Arts and Philosophick Strains and methods, which suited well with the [...] Heathenish Worship & Religion, for them to endeavour to find out the benevolent or malevolent Influences of Mars, Saturn, upit [...]r, o [...] the other [Page 6] of the Gods whom they worshipped; but when they came to the acknowled [...]ent of the one only true and living God, the Creator of all, and of Jesus Christ whom he had sent, [...] they [...]ound their curious Arts needless, and their Books fit [...]or nothing but the fire, and burnt in one City as many as w [...]re worth, 50000 pieces of Silver: But alas! the Spirit [...]hat made [...]se of them was not burnt in several, but wrought cunningly to bring many of those their Tricks and Qu [...]ks [...]n among the poor Believers, and endeavoured to make them believe they were such knowing men, and had such rare things to acquaint them with, far beyond the Apostles, and then they went to work with the Opposition of Science (as they falsly cal [...]ed it) and then [...]very thing must be questioned and disputed that had not a Philosophick or Natural Reason, to demonstrate to the Senses or Understanding: and, hereby was the Faith of some made void, and many were spoiled of their Sincerity and Up­rightness by these vain deceits, and then came in looseness in Conversation; then, a Nicholas with his Ranterism, a Jez [...]bel with her pre [...]ended loose and wanton Prophecy's; a Balaam with his Covetous Design upon the People, might find some to side with them: for the holy Tye & Covenant of their Religion of bear­ing a daily Cross that was broken; but alas! alas! the effect of these things was very lamentable.

And Dear Friends, having briefly touched at these things, & set these Proceedings of Satan against the Truth among the pri­mitive Christians before you, I now come to tell you in great plainness & since i [...] what hath for some Months lain upon my Mind relating to this subject, and concerning the day in which we live, and the Dispensation of that Everlasting Gospel which is now preached again unto us, in which we found the very same blessed Effects as they did; for when we had believed therein, it brought [...] into great Simplicity, and into cleanness of Mind, and into an unfeigned Love and Unity one with another; and [Page 7] from what Parts or Countries soever w [...] came, we all spake the same things, and the querking, querying, disputing Wit was brought down & cast out from among us, tho' we could query and dispute the Opposers that were without in defence of the Truth, yet we had then no such occasion among them that pro­fessed Truth; for we were of one Heart, Mind and Judgment, and in that universal Love we laboured to build up one another in our most holy Faith, and to publish and make known the blessed Name of Jesus, in whom we had believed, and many were daily added to the Church, and came to partake of the same Faith and of the same Love, & grew into the same simplicity of Mind, wherein we found a harmonious rejoycing in Spirit when ever we saw one another: In this state did the Truth preserve us, and our Faith, was firm in that Name & Power by which we were called, that the Lord would go before us and prosper us in his blessed Way, in which he caused our Souls to take great de­light, and take up the daily Cross cheerfully, and deny our selves for the sake of him that called us.

But the old Enemy of Truth envy'd this our tranquility quick­ly, and began to work in some where he found a ground to work in, and sought to lead them from the simplicity of the Truth, & to exalt their minds in the sight of things opened by the Truth, and so did not abide in the tender fear of God, and in the humi­lity of the innocent Seed, but flew up into airy Notions & Ima­ginations, some into a false L [...]berty, and others into strange Ima­ginations of their own growth to some high state, and so gr [...] head [...] and unruly, and were ha [...]dned, against Exhortations; rather judging themselves fit to [...]each▪ than to be taught, and these drew several after them, through an affection that was not subject to the Cross and became an occasion of O [...]fence & Stum­bling to many who were enquiring after the Way of the Lord, and a great exercise & sorrow to such as kept in the Travail and Labour for Sion's Redemption; but those that abode in the faith, knew that the Power in which they had believed, would arise, [Page 8] and crush down & bruise under that lofty airy Spirit, & all that abode in [...] ▪ and did not repent & return to their first love, and do their first Works, and according as we believed it came to pass, & their works with which they sought to amuse and astonish the Nations, were confounded & brought to nought, & divers that did adhear & cleave to that spirit, were lost & scat [...]er'd, [...] grew into Prophanness and Uncleanness, and strove against the Power of God that wrought in his People, to reclaim and regain them, till at length the very Power of God turned against them and cut them off who had been the Troublers.

Yet did not the Serpent leave off attempting to betray the In­nocent, but found out other Instruments fit for his purpose, whom he raised up under pretence of some New D [...]scoveries, ac­companied with a voluntary Humility, & a seeming Self-denyal, when indeed the design was to Exalt Self and Mans Work, Wit and Reason, above the Eternal Power of God, and through feigned Pretences to obtain [...] Dominion over the Heritage of God, & to impose and ob [...]rude upon them things which were no [...] taught by the living Spirit, Christ, Jesus in themselves, nor had received by Doctrine nor Message from the true spiritual Labourers in the Gospel, by which means the Minds of many were betray'd, & they were exe [...]cised in contending about some outward signs or [...] of their seperation till the weighty matter they should have minded, viz. How to be kept in the love of God, and in th [...] Heavenly Unity, was in a great many lost and forgotten, and in­stead thereof a secret Root of Bi [...]terness grew up, and a ha [...]red against the Prosperity of the Church of God, and the faithful Servants and Ministers of it, insomuch that they lost the very fence of Gods blessed Presence amongst us, and reckoned he had fo [...]aken us, and thereupon many of them also [...]orsook us, and were as another People, and were puffed up with great Expecta­tions of our downfall, and their own Exaltation, and began to [...] their design o [...] S [...]peration into other [...]ations, to the hurt [...] them▪ so that the render Love [Page 9] of God, that had wrought in the hearts of the faithful Labourers and Ministers of the Gospel, to the gathering them out of the World, now wrought again effectually, to gather many of them out of this S [...]lf-Seperation, and with great Patience and Long­suffering did we travail and labour with many, and the Lord be­held our sincerity & care, & blessed his work in our hand, so that the Eyes of many were opened to see the crafty Snares by which they were en [...]angled, & power was given them of God to break through, and testify against the crafty Wiles of them that had de­ceived them, & the Lord arose in his great & mighty Power in and among his People, and set an Eternal Judgment on the head of that spirit, and its work of Dissention & S [...]peration, that it had wrought, and it could then proceed no further, but withered, & came to nought; & those who willfully resisted the offers of the love of God, & of his People, they grew more and more corrupt and perished wholly from the way of the Lord, and the [...]ociety of his People, and turned back▪ some into the worlds worship and religio [...]s, and others into gross pollutions that are therein, and the Churches of Christ who stood faithful & true to the leading of his Spirit▪ came to have rest from that extream labour and travel which they had lay [...] several years under, by reason of these things; and God fulfilled the Prophecy, of divers of his faithful Servants, who by their faith, had seen, and by the spirit had testi­fied at the beginning of that spirits work, what the end of it should [...]e; for many there were, who saw, That it was from the Earth, & thither it would return, and there it was swallowed up, and all its substance; and as many as deny'd to be warned, pe­rished with it: Then did the Souls of the faithful give glory & honour to God, in whose hand is Power & Dominion, and he reigns on high in his Strength, and is King of Saints, and the De­fence of his S [...]on, now hence [...]orth and for evermore.

These Exercises put and stirred up all the faithful to great vi­gilence and watchfulness, for the keeping the Enemy out for the future, at least [...]s much as in them lay; & those that were faith­ful [Page 10] and antient Friends, both Men & Women, found it incum­bent upon them to meet together to wach over the Flock, and to see to the Conversations of them who pro [...]est the Truth, that it might answer to their Professions; and where the cont [...]ary appeared, to deal with them, and to reclaim them, if possible, or else to deny them, and to clear Truth and Friends of them, and their disorderly Courses; and in this good work the Lord bles­sed them, & shewed his Presence among them, and gave them Wisdom & Understanding, and they took care of the Widows & Fatherless, of the Poor & A [...]flicted Families among them, and had the care upon them concerning M [...]rriages, that none might com together in a disorderly manner, but that all things might be clear on either side, and the consent of Parents might be obtain'd before Marriage, & that all things might be kept in good order and savoury in the sight of God and Men; and divers Epistles were written from several elder [...]rethr [...]n for their encourage­ment & direction in this good work; for we knew it was Gods Work, and would tend to the limiting of loose & unruly spirits, who sought liberty more than sincerity, and sensuality more than Christs Governmen [...], & their subj [...]ction to the divine Power of God. And when some exalted spirits came to see unto what this work would tend, they took offence thereat, & sought to weaken the hands of the faithful Friends in this good work, under pretence that all must be left to the Witness of God; and if People did not find judgment in themselves for what they did, they must not be judged by others, being themselves gone from Truth's judgment, and har­den'd then they cry'd out of Innovasion & Imposition and such like. And hereupon were many again seduced and subverted, and drawn away from their stedfastness in the Truth, and beg [...]n to appear against the good Order of the Lords People and to reflect upon the godly care that lay upon them, with unhandsom and unsavoury Speeches & Writings, till a secret root of bitterness and enmity got into several that had been convinced, and in this root the Enemy wrought with great craft and subtil [...]y to draw them [Page 11] [...]he blessed Unity that is in Christ Jesus, the true head of the true Church, and begat them into many [...]ealousies & groundless sears of an Apostacy, while in the mean time he drew them so far to apostatize from their first love & their first works, that they pro­ceeded to expose Friends both in particular and in general, to the reproach and scorn of the World, as much as in them lay. All which wa [...] born & suffer'd with much long-suffering & patience, and a great travail lay upon many to endeavour the redu [...] ­ment of them that did thus oppose themselves; for we knew our sincerity, and knew that the Lord would stand by us, and bless our work and labour of Love and blast their work of Enmi [...]y, a [...]d that their striving against the Lord and his blessed work in the hand of his innocent People, would not, nor could prosper, we doubted not at all but he that stood by us, & helped us from the beginning, would still stand by us, and give his Truth and People the victory over every tongue and pen that rose up in judgment against us, as he hath done to this day, and their work is manifest, and they can proceed no further, blessed be his Name forever.

Now dear Friends, I have made this brief Relation of the fore­mentioned Passages, that they that are young in the Truth may see, and they [...]hat are older may be put in mind, how the old Adversary of Truth hath already wrough [...] in this our day, and what hath been the end and tendency of his work in all his vari­ous Appearances, even as in the primitive days, to stop the bright shining of the Gospel; if he could; and whereas he is not able to do that, his next work is to see whom he may devour, that is, whom he may so insnare and [...]ntrap with his subtil Bates & Gins, as that he may, first, Draw them from the simplicity of the Truth; next, into an exaltedness in Knowledge; then, into prej [...]dice & en­mity against those that stand in the way to hinder their exalted N [...]tions; and by this time he hath taught them to break the Law of Charity, and to think evilly of the Upright, & to disesteem the blessed [...]ty and F [...]llowship that is in the Truth, and then they are fi [...]ted for [Page 12] Schism and Seperation upon one specious pretence or another: Therefore how Watchful ought every one to be, for the keeping out this destroying Spirit, which hath brought several already to that pitch of enmity and defiance to the Truth and People of God, that if it had been told them in the dayes of their render convincement, they would have been ready to say, with Hazael, Is thy Servant a Dog, that he should do these things?

And Friends, know this for certain, that Satan is still work­ing, and seeks to winnow you, and where there doth remain, after a long convincement, a lightness and an airyness in any, such are easily driven with his pernicious Winds; and to this purpose he hath stirred up som in several C [...]ties & Countries, such as he knows are fit for his purpose, who never knew a real Mor­tification upon that earthly sensual Wisdom that's from beneath, but have too much saved that alive in themselves, which God did in their first convincement pass a sentence of Death upon; and these, as they cannot reach to a partaking of the Life of Truth in themselves, no more can they reach nor attain to the hidden Mystery of the Unity that the Lords People have one with another in that Life of Truth, but another life and a power they have, and in it they grow head-strong and fierce, D [...]sp [...]sers of them that are born of the spirit, yea, they grow in Wisdom from one degree to another, but its neither pure nor peaceable, gentle no [...] e [...]sie to be intreated, by their Fruits ye may know them; for from this wisdom they are often found starting some subtle and abstruce Questions, to amuse the Minds of the simple, & to cause the weak in the faith [...]o err, and to draw away [...]nstable Souls after them, as if they had brought forth some New D [...]sco [...]eries, and then here's work for disputing Wits, by all which the Minds are drawn farther and farther from the true Watchfulness, that becomes those that have such an Enemy [...]o deal wi [...]hal.

H [...]nce it is that all those Janglings are sprung about the [...]or­bidden Fruit, what it was, and whether good for food, or not good for food? upon which some have closed with that primitive and [Page 13] first Error, with which Eve was ensnared, & have judged i [...] good for food yea, and have fed upon it too, till their knowledge hath grown greater in the evil than in the good. Hence it is, that another starts Questions about [...]e Mortality or Immort [...]lity of the Soul: Another, of the state of [...] Soul after the Death of the Body, Whether it abides a single Essen [...], or cease [...]h to have any singular Es­sence or Being: Another, about the state of the Body after Death: Another, about how many Bodies one and the same Soul may or m [...]st [...]ve at sundry times: Another, how long wicked Men or Angels m [...]st [...]nd are the Wr [...]h of God for Rebellion: Another comes forth and says, There is no such thing as [...]rath or Anger in God, and all that [...]s written thereof in holy Scripture is but metaphorically spoken: And many more such like Fancies & doting Questions doth this Birth bring forth, for the tryal of your Faith and St [...]d [...]astness in the Truth, by which the Enemy is, as I said, trying and winnowing to see where he may meet with his own, and may deceive and draw away some from the Faith and Unity, and teach them some other Way and Doctrine besides the narrow way of Regeneration.

Now my dear and well beloved in the Lord, you are Witnesses unto this day in how great simplicity and plainness of Spe [...]ch we have preached the Word of God among you from the day the Lord sent us forth to this day; we came not to you with [...]inti­cing words, we needed not Logical nor Philosophical Demon­strations; for our Testimony had the Demonstration and Evidence of the Spirit of Truth in your hearts and our words, or the Word of God in our mouths, hath not altered nor changed unto this day, but remains the same as eve [...] it was. The great D [...]ctri [...] of the Gospel was and is Regeneration without which there's no entrance, the only means and way to attain it, was and is that Light and Grace that comes by Jesus Christ, and sancti [...]ies and purifies, and brings to him, by whom the entrance is ministred into the Kingdom; these things have we declar'd, & these things ye have believed and in this Faith are many of our faithful B [...] ­thr [...]n fallen asleep, and their precious Souls are at rest wi [...] the [Page 14] Lord; and herein if ye abide stedfast to the end, ye shall do well.

And as concerning all such who do seek to trouble any of your minds with the things above-mention'd, or any other such subtle and crafty Questions, keep you your habitations in the power of God▪ and you will daily come more and more to discern the ten­dency of them, how it is a spirit that works against the Cross, [...]nd [...]eeks to cause the offence of it to cease, that they might bear [...] [...] of Truth, and live in a loose Conversation without con­ [...] or judgment, and you will see them come to nought, like [...]ers before them.

And for the carrying on this kind of Libertism, all these strange [...]otions are hatched and spread about to corrupt the Minds of whom they can; for the Devil, who is the Author of them, knows well how to apply them to the adva [...]cement of his own Kingdom, and for the easing, or rather hardning the Consciences of such who receive these things, that they may thereupon make off the Sense which sometime they had of the Righteous Judgment of God, and slight the judgment of his People, & give the reigns to their Lusts and passions, and yet all the while make [...] P [...]ofessi [...]n and outside appearance among the innocent People of God. O Friends! these are blots and spots that are among us, these are they by whose means the holy Name of God is blasphem [...]d and his blessed p [...]r [...] Way evil spoken of by many, and the hearts of the [...]pright made sad from day to day; these are such as cost the A­postle tears, when he writ I told you [...] ▪ them before, and now [...] weeping, they are Enemies to the Cross of Christ: These cause the feet of some to stumble, and others to perish from the Way of the Lord, and yet all the while carry a secret Bolster under them t [...] bear themselves upon, having let in a belief or supposi­tion, either that there [...] no such Wrath and Judgment to expect from the hand of God, as hath been largely spoken and written of by the Prophets, Christ, and his Apostles, and all the faithful Mi­nisters of the Gospel, unto this day; or if there be Wrath and Judgment to be revealed, it will be but for a time, and then they shall [Page 15] [...] restored to Glory and Happiness, or if they fall short of a due fitting and preparing for the Kingdom of God on this side the Grave, its no great matter, for they shall have other O [...]portunities, even in th [...] World hereafter, when they shall be born in other Bodies.

Some few secretly boulster themselves up, and endeavour to possess others with the supposition or notion of the [...]nite P [...]sh­ment of Wicked Men and Devils, in the World to come, as where the holy Scriptures mention, viz. Everlasting Fire, the sin against the holy Ghost never to be forgiven in this World, nor in that which is t [...] come; Eternal Judgment, Vengeance of Eternal Fire, The Smo [...] [...] their Torment shall ascend up forever and ever, &c. (as plainly d [...] ­clared by Christ and his holy Apostles and Gospel Minister) these they limit only to Ages. Another he boulsters himself up with a belief, That if he doth evil, his Hell is only here in his own Conscience, but when he leaves the world all things will be as if th [...] had not been, and the Soul shall dye with the Body, and [...] [...] ­nihilation as well as the Body, [...]r shall be swallowed up out of all par­ticularity, as a drop of Water into the Sea, and so then what matter. And this is the evil seeds man, sowing these cursed seeds o [...] fleshly Liberty & Ranterism, even in our day, and hath prevailed upon some to their destruction; and they that are seduced, as the A­postle saith, do wax worse and worse, seducing whom they can by these their pernicious ways, the consequences whereof are woful & lamentable to consider, & hath cost me and many more great sorrow and grief; and truly Friends the weight of these things was heavy upon my mind for some time, and it lay upon me to give a warning to all that have an ear to hear, lest they suffer their minds to be corrupted by the subtil laying in wait of Sa [...]an and his Instruments; for tho' I know there's many thousands who know the price and value of their immor [...]al Souls, & many who have truly travelled for the Redemption of Souls, who do not stand in need to be warned of these subtil designs, but do live in that which comprehends the Devil & his crafty working, yet I am drawn forth in love and tenderness to the weak and such [...]s [Page 16] are not yet grown to a stability in the everlasting and elect seed of God, to exhort them, To take heed to themselves, and to be stirred up to faithfulness and diligence, and to approve their [...]ar [...]s in the sight of God, in sincerity and lowliness, that so they may feel his secret preserving Power to keep them [...]om these Gins & Nets of the cunning H [...]nters, who lie in want to bega [...]l and betray whom they can

And Friends, to you who have not known the depths of Sa­tan, have a few things to offer to your serious consideration, 1st, You know in what manner you were convinced, and how your understandings were opened, & you brought to the acknowledg­ment of the Truth, was it not by the shining of that true light of Christ Jesus in your souls, which by its inward working shew­ed you that your souls were made subject to a power of dark­ness, that had defiled them and made them unfit for God to dwell in and to take delight in, then you saw what a contrariety and disproportion there was between the pure Light and your impure Souls, whereupon judgment from God was manifest for the curb­ing, limiting and destroying that power that had thus defiled the Minds and Consciences; and when ye came to believe this judg­ment to be the very judgment of God, ye submitted to it, as right and due unto you; and as ye thus submitted to it, ye quickly found some power to with-stand the T [...]mptations of the dark power that had captivated you; and did you not then feel your Souls some-what eased, and a hope raised, That as ye abode faith­ful unto that light, you might obtain power to withstand your souls Enemy in all his appearances; so that the Faith that was delivered unto you in the b [...]ginning▪ was, that your souls should be so san­ctified, fitted and prepared, as to become a Habitation for God, and that he would so strengthen you, that ye should be able to stand against the Devil and his Power, who sought to defile and destroy the soul; and they that have been diligent, and kept this Faith, have sound it to be a Shield and a Defence in the times of their Trya [...]s and Temptations, so that they have found Victory by [...] and their Souls have come to know a deliverance from [Page 17] under the Enemy's Power, and have received ability to serve the Lord, and have felt the blessed freedom and [...]berty in the truth, which they so much desired and longed for.

Now, wherefore hath all this work been to redeem the Soul, and to convert it, and change it from under the dark Power, and to bring it under the heavenly & glorious power of Christ Jesus? I ask them that have known this work, Was it [...]n [...]y for a few days or years that we were to continue here in these Bodies? or was it not the effect of the eternal Love o [...] God in Christ, that in him our Souls might be eternally happy? I know such as have truly known this Travel, d [...] know the Soul to be more worth than the value and worth of the whole World, and they are not liable to the seducements of such as would undervalue the Soul. But alas! there's too many that never knew what it was to travel for souls▪ neither in themselves nor in others, but have received a sight and knowledge of things at a distance, in a speculative way, as lookers on, & these having grown up into a Profession by a sight, without a real work in themselves, are very ready to be seduced, and to seduce others, and wanting the sub­stance that never waxeth old, are always [...]ching after some new thing, which for a time seems to be delightful to them, till a newer thing is presented, and then they are for that also, and so are always gadding and changing their ways, till at last they are by the mastering subtilty of their Souls Enemy (who hath power in such unstable Minds) led back again into the world, or into divers sects, heaps and opinions, that are of the world, and a [...]al [...]e Liberty gets up in them, in which they grow heady & stub [...]orn, and look upon every one that seeks to reclaim them as their E­nemy, and let in ha [...]d and bitter thoughts against them, and the Enemy fills them with Prejudice, and in that state they seek for the failings of others, and feed upon them, as Bread, to streng [...]hen themselves▪ and so grow more and more estranged from the in­nocent▪Life that is in Jesus, and that he hath given for food for the Children of the Kingdom.

[Page 18] O this is a sad Condition! and I have often with deep sorrow lamented the state of some, to whose hands peradventure this may come, when I have seen what a good beginning they have made in the way of God, and have been as pleasant plants, & hope­ful to bring forth much fruit to the honour of God and comfort of his People, and especially to the comfort and salvation of their own immortal Souls; and yet after some good progress made in the Lords way, for want of a diligent watchfulness and keeping close to the daily Cross & Self-denyal, have laid themselves open to the spoilers, who have cunningly got an entrance into them, some in the affectionate party, some in the wise reasoning party, som through sowing the seeds of prejudice, and some one way, and some another, and have beguiled them of the simplicity, and drawn them from the sincerity that is in the Truth; and so they have both lost their first love and their first Works also.

And of these, some are so far dead that they have lost all sense and feeling of that love of God that worketh in the [...]earts of his People, for the regaining of them, and to such I shall say little, but tell them, My Soul shall mourn for them in secret, until the Lord easeth my Spirit concerning them: [...]ut for the rest, who yet do retain something of a love to the Lords People, and have some­times an ear open to hear counsel, to these I say, God hath put it into my heart to warn you, That ye strengthen those things that are ready to dye, before the Lord appear against you for your hard words and hard Thoughts, and come down into hu­mility, and feel after the first Tenderness & brokenness of heart, which once you felt, and hold a fast to the Lord, feed no more upon your carnal Reasonings, hearken no more to those [...]e­d [...]c [...]rs that have drawn you from your stedfastness in Christ Jesus, and your place in the Body; for be ye assured, as your food is, so will your Life be; and if ye will still feed upon the airy Notions of that carnal Wisdom, into an airy light and wan­ton life ye will grow, and if your food be to lick up the dir [...] and foulness that you can find here and there, and to feast thereon, [Page 19] then be liable to vo [...]it it up again, as some have done, this will nourish nothing but the Serpent's Life, which the Power of God will overcome. But dear Hearts, sink down, sink down while yet an Arm of Love is reached out to you to receive you, and wait in lowliness to be brought into that heavenly House, where there is meat indeed and drink indeed; and remember that express sentence of our Lord, who said, Except ye eat my flesh and drink my blood, ye have no life in you: This is the holy No [...] ­rishment that nourisheth up the Heir of the Kingdom, into which many are entred, and many of the dear People of God whom ye count lightly, of, are travelling to obtain an entrance.

And Friends, let me use yet one Argument more with you to perswade you to turn into the unity & fellowship of the Truth and Power of God, in which ye sometimes took delight with us to walk in it, and that is an Argument from your own Expe­rience, to wit▪ the feebleness that hath fallen upon many of you, since [...]e departed from the heavenly Unity with your antient Friends and Brethren▪ what a decay of strength and courage in the bearing f [...]rth the several Testimonies for the Name of Christ as they were received from the beginning, and by the faithful Followers of him, are to this day kept and accounted of, as of more worth than a little outward liberty or estate, or such like.

But O my Friends! how is this tye loosned? and how is flesh­ly Reasonings gotten up to shun the Cross, & the sufferings that attend the Gospel, and an unreadiness in many to give up for his Name's sa [...]e, so that they are as if they had lost their spiritual Armour, and their fervent zeal and love to the Truth, and the Testimonies of it, which once were dearer to them than their all in this World; and it is indeed impossible that the Love to God and his Truth should remain in its former strength, when the love to the Brethren decayes, they came together and they will go together: And the want of this love to God, and to his People, is the ground of declining Truth's Testimony, and using indirect wayes to shift and shun the Sufferings that comes for [Page 20] Truth's sake, by which the hands of Traths [...]mies are strength­ened, and many stumbling Blocks have been laid in the way of the weak; I beseech you to consider these things, and lay them to heart, while there is a day and opportunity to return to your first love, and to your first zeal for the Truth.

And Dear Friends, I might go into particulars to lay before you wherein this decay of love & zeal for God and his precious Truth is manifest in many, but I spare you, knowing there is a faithful and true Witness for the Lord, that will (if you mind it) [...]ew you more particularly wherein any hath failed, and to that Witness of God I do recomme [...]d what I have written to you, which will testifie that I have written in true love to your Im­mortal Souls. And whoever slights this tender Warning & Ex­hortation sent to them in the love of God, will but harden their own hearts more and more, and lay themselves open to the Se­ [...]cing Spirits, to be carried away by the Wiles of subtil m [...]n, who seek to draw from the Foundation that God hath laid, and to bring you again to trust to uncertainties, and to fill your Minds with [...]necessary things, and to neglect the weighty matters, and the one thing needful▪ Therefore Friends, wait to feel the daily rene [...]ings by the holy Spirit in your selves, & that will renew your love to God and to his Truth, and the Testimonies of it, and to the Brethren that have labour'd in it for the good of your Souls, & to all the faithful F [...]llowers of the Lamb of God every where, and that will renew your love and zeal to the Truth, and to the Testimonies of it, & keep it fresh, & give you a sence of the ex­ceeding great value of it; and then you will see that the service of all that is given you, is but to serve the Lord in his Truth; & in the holy Faith you will have a sence of the Reward of all in your own Bosom, that ye loose and suffer for the Lords sake, and in this you will have an Inheritance with all the sanct [...]fi [...]d Children of Light; Which that ye may all possess, and none fall short of, is the earnest Desire and Prayer of your faithful Friend in the unchangeable Truth.

S C.

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