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SOME CONSIDERATIONS, Propounded to the several Sorts and Sects of PROFESSORS of this Age.

On the following important Subjects.

I. The JEW OUTWARD, being a Glass for the Professors of this Age; with a Postscript to the same Subject.

II. A WARNING, in the Bonds of Love, to the Rulers, Teachers, and People of this Nation, concerning their Church and Ministry.

III. An ADVERTISEMENT to the Powers and People of this Nation.

IV. An ANSWER to that common Objection against the UNITED FRIENDS, that they condemn all but themselves.

TO WHICH IS ADDED, An EXHORTATION to the UNITED FRIENDS, everywhere scattered abroad.

By a Universal FRIEND to all Mankind.

Wherefore the Lord said, forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honor me, but have re­moved their heart far from me, and their fear towards me is taught by the precept of men; therefore behold I will proceed to do a marvelous work amongst this people, even a marvelous work and a wonder; for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid.

Isa. xxix. 13, 14.

A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land. The pro­phets prophesy falsly, and the priests bear rule by their means, and my people love to have it so; and what will ye do in the end thereof?

Jer. v. 30, 31.

I said, days should speak, and multitude of years should teach wis­dom. But there is a spirit in man, and the inspiration of the Al­mighty giveth them understanding. Great men are not always wise, neither do the aged understand judgment; therefore I said, hearken to me; I also will shew mine opinion.

Job xxxii. 7—10.

Hear my words, O ye wise men, and gives ear unto me, ye that have knowledge; for the ear tryeth words, as the mouth tasteth meat. Let us choose to us judgment, let us know among ourselves what is good.

Job xxxiv. 2—4.

But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves; for if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass; for he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway for­getteth what manner of man he was.

Jam. i. 22—24.

PRINTED IN THE YEAR MDCCLXXIX.

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INTRODUCTION to the friendly READER.

IT was the language formerly to the chosen people of God, that my people have committed two great evils; they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water. This was ever and anon the complaint of the Lord concerning Israel, from the beginning to the end. The Lord did de­light to beget, nourish, and bring up that people for himself; but they were almost continually revolt­ing from him, and rebelling against him. He did mighty things for them; but they still forgot him. He redeemed them by his outstretched arm; he fed them, he defended them; but they knew him not, Isa. i. 3, but decked themselves with the orna­ments which they had from him, and then lift up the heel against him, Ezek. xvi. 7, and Deut. xxxii. 15. In plain terms, they got what knowledge they could from him into their own vessels, and then they would set up for themselves, without fresh bubblings up of life from the spring from whence their know­ledge came. The priests said not, where is the Lord? but could handle the law, and teach the knowledge of it, without him; and the prophets could prophesy by another spirit, Jer. ii. 8. And thus the Lord God of life lived not in them; but they lived upon such things as once came from the life; but, being separated from the spring, were dead, and nourished but the dead part in them, the estranged from God. And thus, though their professions were great, and they multiplied prayers, sacrifices, and fasts, and drew nigh to God with their lips, yet their hearts were far from him. They had forsaken the fountain; they drank not of the waters of the spring, of the [Page 4] rock that followed them; but they drank of the waters of their own cisterns. They set up that know­ledge of the law for their light which they had hew­ed out by their own understanding, without the spirit that wrote it. This was Israel's error of old▪ They drank very zealously of the waters of the law; but they drank it not from the spring, but out of the cisterns which themselves had hewed.

And as it was thus with Israel of old, so hath it been with Israel since. The Christian Israel hath been always backsliding, always forgetting the Lord! Still getting what they could to live of themselves, but refusing to live on him: Getting what know­ledge they could from the scriptures without him; getting what they could from their exercises and ex­periences; but neglecting the spring of their life. And this Israel also dies; this Israel likewise withers, and becomes a scorn to the heathen; for though they speak great words of their God, yet they themselves are but as the heathen; uncircumcised like them, un­acquainted with the virtue and power of life like them; always striving against sin, in that which can­not conquer, and so they also are slaves under their lusts and corruptions, like the heathen; and know not the truth, which makes free indeed.

Exceeding great hath been the apostacy of this age! Mighty was the appearance of God inwardly in his people's spirits! Mighty was the appearance of God outwardly in the nation! Many ways and great hopes were there of a thorough reformation. But how sud­denly was the pure spirit of the Lord forgotten, and departed from, and his work overturned both within and without? Inwardly in his people's spirits, and outwardly in the nation, whose revolting was but a type of the inward! And how hath the spirit of the [Page 5] Lord mourned after his people, often reproving them for their backslidings? But they have been (as Israel of old) like the deaf adder, justifying themselves, and complaining against the witnesses of God (as Israel did against his prophets) who from the Lord testify against them. And it cannot be otherwise; for the dead waters in Israel's hewn cisterns will never agree with the waters of the living fountain, but will with­stand their testimony.

How shall the charmer charm wisely enough to make apostate Israel hearken to his voice? I have not backslidden, saith one in one form; I have not backslidden, saith another in another form: I have not backslidden, saith one in one notion; I am not backslidden, saith another in another potion: I am believing, hoping, and waiting in what the Lord hath already revealed, and following on to know him. This hath been thy manner from thy youth, that thou obeyedst not my word; but still have been justifying thyself, as if thou hadst obeyed. And yet your backslidings are written upon your foreheads, as with the point of a diamond. For who among you retains his freshness? An evident demonstration that ye are departed from the spring, and hold your knowledge, experiences and hopes, in the dead part; and your choicest prop of comfort is the remem­brance of what you once had. Ah! poor, barren, dead souls, is this your best support? Return, re­turn; enter into the house of mourning, and let the living lay it to heart.

Now let not men run on in heats against us; but let them seriously consider, whether we be of God or no: And let them consider not with the reason and understanding which is alienated from God; but with the witness which lies hid in the heart. There is [Page 6] one great palpable argument that we are of God, which is this, all the world is against us: The worldly part everywhere fights against us; the world­ly part, in every sort and sect of men, opposeth us; the rage of men everywhere riseth up against us: But those that are so hot against us, if at any time they become but meek and calm, patiently considering our cause, and consulting thereupon with the testimo­ny that they find in their own hearts concerning us, they soon become pacified, and see that we are no man's enemies, against no righteous law, not against relations, not against governments, not against any thing in the world that is good, but only against that which is evil and corrupt. And of a truth, the corrup­tion of things God hath shewn unto us, and daily calls us forth after an immediate manner to witness against.

Therefore let men be sober, and take heed what they do, lest they be found fighters against God; for the reproaches, the scoffs, with other persecu­tions, which seem to be cast at us, light on him. (Inasmuch as it is done unto one of the least of the brethren, Christ said it was done unto him.) It is not as we are men, but as we are obedient to him, as we stand witnesses for him, that we meet with these things. Now as it is not we ourselves that do these things, but the life and power of God in us, so it is not we that are struck at, but that life and power. If it were not for that, we might be as ac­ceptable as other men. It is because we are not of the world, but God hath called us out of the word, that we are so hated of the world. This is the true cause, though the world will no more now acknowledge it than it would in former ages. Yet I do not speak this for my own sake, to avoid my share in the cross: For the reproach of Christ is greater riches than the treasures of Egypt, to all those who [Page 7] have respect unto the recompence of the reward. Yea, the presence of God, the sweet power of life, makes up all our losses; so that we have no cause to com­plain. It is very sweet, pleasant and profitable, for us to be found sufferers for God; but we know it will not be profitable for you to be found persecutors: And this is told you in true love and good-will, by one who wishes no evil to you, for all that evil that you are endeavouring to exercise toward us. O that God would open your eyes, that ye might see whom ye have opposed, and against whom ye have hardened and strengthened yourselves, that ye might bow to him, and receive life from him, and not perish in your gainsaying and opposition.

What the envious may judge of these lines, I little care for, well knowing that the most eminent authors have been exposed to envy, and been obnoxious to the censures of pedantic critics. Whatever any may think, this I am well assured of, that my chief scope hath been for the promotion of the gospel of peace and purity, and for the good of all mankind, not only to delight my reader, but also to lead him to virtue. If I may be so happy as to have contributed thereto, I shall think my pains well rewarded; and if not, I shall have at least this satisfaction, that, according to my ability, I have endeavoured to be beneficial to others, and to edify my fellow mortals in that which is good; which I cannot but think to be well pleas­ing to God. And if I have performed any thing that is good, the honor and glory thereof belong to him who is the giver of all good gifts: And it is from him alone I have received all my ability to do any good thing, unto whom belong praises; ever­lasting praises are due unto God that is holy. Amen. Thus concluding, I wish the reader discretion, and an impartial judgment.

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The JEW OUTWARD:

Being a glass for the professors of this age; wherein, if they read with meekness, and in the true light, such of them as have not outstood the day of their visitation, may see their own spirits, to their own everlasting advantage and comfort, by learning subjection to that which hath power in it to destroy the evil spirit in them. Contain­ing some exceptions and arguments of the Jews against Christ's appearance in that body of flesh in their days; which the present professors may view and compare with their exceptions and arguments against his ap­pearance (in spirit) in this age; that they may see and consider which of them are the more weighty.

"Who hath believed our report? And to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?

Isaiah liii. 1.

"Beware therefore, lest that come upon you which is spoken of in the prophets; behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish: For I work a work in your days, a work which you shall in no wise be­lieve, though a man declare it unto you.

Acts xiii. 40, 41.

The PREFACE.

THE Lord God, of infinite goodness, hath ever dearly loved mankind, yet could never so appear to them since the transgression, as to be owned by them, till the veil was taken from before their hearts. Israel in Egypt hearkened not to Moses, because of their anguish and bondage. When they were led out, they were ever and anon murmuring and picking quarrels against him. Samuel they re­jected (as the Lord lays to their charge) though they might excuse themselves, and say they had just [Page 9] exceptions against his sons. Elijah, that mighty man of God, the great restorer of Israel, and pleader against Baal by fire, his life was sought for: And though there be not a particular record of their usage of the prophets about those days, yet in general he complains that they were all slain but himself, 1 Kings, xix. 10. Micaiah was smitten on the cheek, and jeered by the false prophet who smote him, and said, "Which way went the spirit of the Lord from me to speak unto thee?" And he was commanded to be put in prison, and fed with bread of affliction and water of affliction. Jeremiah was put into the dungeon, even to the danger of his life; and by those few that were left that seemed singly to enquire by him concern­ing the will of the Lord, Jer. xlii. 2, 3, disdainfully re­jected, chap. xliii. 2. Why should I spend time in particular instances? What profit can I expect? For though all their bad dealings with them are not relat­ed in scripture, yet Christ testifies that they did deal badly with them all; some of them they stoned, some of them they scourged in their synagogues, some of them they killed and crucified, and others they persecuted from city to city: Yea, saith Stephen, "Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted?" And they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; ye make it such a strange thing that if Christ had been a prophet, that they should have owned him: Why, which of the prophets was owned? And ye have still some exception or other now against the same spirit that was in the pro­phets in former ages, even against the messenger whom God hath sent in this age, that it is not from God; ye take arguments from one prophet's words to oppose another prophet with; and from one prophet's manner of coming to oppose another [Page 10] prophet's coming: If John come neither eating nor drinking, ye reject him for his austereness: If Christ come both eating and drinking, ye reject him for his liberty and freedom in the life. Now what was the reason of this? Christ himself gives the reason, Matt. xi. 19. Wisdom is justified of her children; ye are not the children of wisdom, ye are not begotten of the life, of the spirit of the prophets, and so cannot justify that spirit. Ye have gotten the letter of the prophets; ye are born of that, but ye are not born of the life, ye are not born of the wisdom: And so whoever comes forth in the same birth from the let­ter with you, that is, being one of your church mem­bers, him ye can own; but if any prophet come forth with that same spirit, him ye cannot own. He that is born after the flesh, cannot but persecute him that is born after the spirit. Jerusalem was all along the per­secutor of the prophets, from the beginning to the end.

And is this nothing to you, O ye professors of this age! Search and see, who have been the persecutors among you, but they who have had the name of the church and her prophets? Who have slain the witnesses? The church of Rome hath slain the wit­nesses against her, and the Protestants have slain the witnesses against them. If a man were never so truly zealous, yet if he could not conform to the common prayer-book and ceremonies, how was he persecuted, though owning the same Christ in his very heart and soul; yet, because his practice was a testimony against the false church-worship, must be hunted up and down to courts, imprisoned, fined, banished. And to this day the Lord can bring forth no birth of his spirit, but the zealous professor hates, reviles, and seeks to destroy it. If the Lord lay any law upon the conscience, if it be not suitable to their [Page 11] apprehensions from the letter, how do they reproach, disdain, revile and endeavour to render such odious to the magistrates, to the churches, and to the people of the world?

Now this I have to say to you all: All you who rest in any form whatsoever, short of the life itself, ye had even as good have stayed in Egypt, as to fix by the way, and to take up a rest in the wilderness, short of Canaan. In plain terms, ye had as good have abode in popery or episcopacy; ye had been as acceptable to God there as here, not that I say your forms of Independency, Anabaptism, or Quakerism, are as bad as Popery, &c. nay, they are all somewhat nearer, and the last of them very much nearer: But your fixing there, and the dead spirit feeding there on the dead thing, is as remote from life as if it had gone quite back again. And this dead spirit is as hateful to God here, as it is among the Papists; yea, and in one sense more, because it makes a pretence beyond them.

Look about ye, look about ye, all sorts of devout professors; see where ye are. Are you not dead in your forms? Is not the good old puritan principle (wherein once was true life in its measure) dead and buried there? Consider with yourselves; hath that grown in your forms? Or hath it been slain there? Speak the truth in your own hearts; can you truly say, from a sensible feeling in the life, that that prin­ciple is still alive in you? While Abel lived in you, Cain could not rise up in his dominions; but now the right seed is slain, the murdering nature appears.

But why should we wonder at these things? There is no new thing under the sun. The state of the world is just as it always was; the power of truth in every age hath been still opposed by those who cried [Page 12] up the form. It were a wonder if it should be otherwise. I should much more wonder, if the teachers and pro­fessors of this age should own truth, than that they fight against it and persecute it. Well, friends and brethren, be strong in the Lord, and faithful to his truth, in the power of his might; bear the reproach, the afflictions of this age, the persecutions of this your day. Verily your eyes shall see that there is a reward for the righteous, and your hearts shall be satisfied with it, when the children of the kingdom (of this age as well as of all former ages) shall be shut out in utter darkness, where shall be weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth.

‘"The stone which the builders refused, is become the head-stone of the corner. This is the Lord's doing; it is marvelous in our eyes," Psalm cxviii. 22, 23.‘"I thank thee O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight," Matt. xi. 25, 26.

The JEW OUTWARD. Some Exceptions and Arguments of the Jews against Christ's Appearance, &c.

THE Jews were once the only outward visible people of God, who were chosen by God for a peculiar people, who had the promise of and ex­pected the Messiah; whose faith and hope of salva­tion was in him, yea, and at that very time they were looking for him, yet, when he came he was a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence to them, and they could by no means receive him. They were full of reasonings, doubts and contendings about it; but could never, with all their wisdom from the [Page 13] letter, determine that was he. Though he lived as never man lived; though he spake as never man spake; though he did what never man did; yet still some exception or other they had from the letter of the scriptures, to which his manner of appearance, his conversation and his doctrine, did not suit in their judgment; and so, after many disputes and debates, they at length delivered him up to death, as a blas­phemer, a deceiver, a seducer of the people.

Many exceptions and arguments they had against him, against his descent, his doctrine, his practices, his miracles, his followers, &c. which I shall refer to heads, to make them more obvious.

1. They excepted at his descent and kindred. Is not this the carpenter's son? Is not his mother called Mary, and his brethren James and Joses, and Simon and Judas, and his sisters, are they not all with us? Matt. xiii. 55, 56. What! this that glorious Mes­siah! the great King of Glory, of whom all the pro­phets prophesied and spoke great things! surely it cannot be. And they were offended in him, ver. 57. It was this made them they could not receive that heavenly doctrine of his which otherwise might have been life to them, when he taught them that he was the bread of life that came down from heaven; but they murmured because of it, and said, "Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it then that he saith, I came down from heaven? John vi. 41, 42. So again, John vii. 27. We know this man whence he is; but when Christ cometh, no man knoweth whence he is. This was a close argument, and was raised up to eat out a deep impression of his being the Christ, as may appear from the foregoing verse. "He speaketh in­deed [Page 14] boldly, and deep things, &c. as if he were the Christ, but how can he be he, seeing it is known from whence he comes?"

2. At his country or place of his education and re­sidence, which was Nazareth of Galilee. Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? John i. 46. Shall Christ come out of Galilee? John vii. 41. Search and look; for out of Galilee ariseth no pro­phet, ver. 52.

3. At the time and season of his coming; he came (as to their sense) before Elias. With this argument they pinched the disciples, as is signified in that query of theirs to Christ; "Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come?" Matt. xvii. 10. This could not but be a sore argument in the mouth of the scribes, who might reason with the disciples on this wise: What poor, ignorant, sottish, deluded people are you, to own this man for your master, and take him for the Messiah? Elias must first come, and re­store all things. If this man preached ever so heaven­ly doctrine, and did ever so many miracles, yet, if he pretend to be the Messiah, he can be but a de­ceiver: For the true Messiah comes not before Elias; and every one knows that Elias is not yet come, nor his work of restoring all things so much as begun.

4. His doctrine administered abundance of offence to them, and they were continually stumbling at it. That heavenly doctrine mentioned a little before, that he was the bread of life, they murmured at, John vi. 41. When he did but say God was his father, they presently flew out upon him and said, he made himself equal with God, John v. 18. When he said destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up, they misunderstood him, and brought it forth as an argument against him at the time of his suffering, [Page 15] Matt. xxvi. 61, and cast it as a jeer in his teeth, Matt. xxvii. 40. When he did but say to the man sick of the palsey, son, thy sins are forgiven thee, the scribes and Pharisees presently exclaimed against him, who is this that speaketh blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone? Luke v. 21, and chap. vii. 19. When he preached very powerfully against covetousness, the Pharisees derided him, Luke xvi. 14. Yea, when he did but preach a parable or two about the widow of Sarepta, and Naaman, the Syrian (it coming a little close to their state) all they in the synagogue were so filled with wrath, that they rose up and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill, to cast him down headlong, Luke iv. 28, 29. At his saying that Abraham rejoiced to see his day, and he saw it, and was glad; the Jews replied, thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? John viii. 57. How absurd and impossible was this to them, that a man of not fifty years should say, that Abraham (who lived so many ages before) saw his day? And instead of giving them an argument to demonstrate it to them, he only returns them a more confident affirmation, verily verily I say unto you, before Abraham was I am, ver. 58. Which so enraged them that they took up stones to cast at him, ver. 59. Now mark, the life speaks what it sees and knows, and so it gives forth its testimony. The wise professor, not being in the life, cannot know or receive the testimony; but calls for arguments and demonstrations to his wise eye. The life refuseth to answer him; but instead thereof, only affirmeth the thing more strongly and confident­ly. This (being so far from what he looks for, and requires to satisfy him) kindles disdain and rage in him: And he looks upon the life, for this way of [Page 16] proceeding, as worthy to be stoned. What, when they should lay before Christ a fair argument, where­by they might plainly convince him by evident reason that he could not see Abraham's day, and he instead of answering it should only bring forth a more confi­dent affirmation, would not men's wisdom, in this age, even hiss at such a thing? Yet this was the way of the life then in that day, and the life may, at his pleasure, take the same way again now, to offend the wise and knowing.

When he spake of his being the good shepherd, and of his laying down his life for his sheep (and of the hireling's flying, in time of danger, to save him­self) John x. 11, 12, many of the Jews said he hath a devil, and is mad, why hear ye him? ver. 20. Many of them that were then the people of God (the separated [...]ple, for the Jews were a separated peo­ple from the world, and studied the law, and ob­served the ordinances of Moses) looked upon Christ as a man not fit to be heard speak, but as a mad­man, as one that had a devil, as one that might have great power of deceit from the devil, to bewitch men from truth; why hear ye him? What good can ye expect from him? He hath a devil and is mad. O how desperately will bold flesh venture to judge of the life and power of God, when it hath got a little knowledge from the scriptures, and a way of worship, duties and ordinances! When he said, I and my father are one, John x. 30, they took up stones again to stone him, ver. 31, and made no question but they did well in doing of it, as appears by their answer to his demand, for which of his good works they stoned him, they replied very confidently, for a good work we stone thee not, but for blasphemy, and because thou being a man, makest thyself God, ver. 32, 33. [Page 17] And when he said, if a man keep my saying he shall never see death, John viii. 51, then said the Jews unto him, now we know thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets are dead; who makest thou thyself? ver. 53. Were not Abraham and the prophets holy men? had not they the sayings of God, and did they not keep the sayings of God? yet they are dead. Such a kind of speech as this must needs be from the devil; now thou makest manifest from what spirit thou speakest; now we know thou hast a devil. And indeed how could the professors of that age digest such things, being so contrary to what appeared to them to be certain truth in the scriptures?

And there were many other things as hard to them, though the exceptions which might or did arise in their minds are not particularly mentioned; as when he saith, I am the door of the sheep, all that ever came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them, John x. 7, 8. How offensive must this doctrine needs have been to them, going carnally to understand and reason about it? What [...] were all the prophets and holy men before thee thieves and robbers? Did the truth never come till thou broughtest it? What became of our forefathers in for­mer ages? Were they none of them God's sheep? Did none of them find the door? For thou sayest thou art the door, and thou hast been but of late: And whereas thou sayest the sheep did not hear them, that is utterly false; for they did hear Moses, and they did hear the prophets, and we have their writ­ings, and will keep to them, for all thee, let who will be thy sheep. When he said that he came not to send peace, but division, Matt. x. 25, how readily might they reply, that his own mouth discovered him [Page 18] not to be the Messiah, the saviour, the peace-maker; but the worker of divisions, the cause of breaches in families, setting three against two, and two against three? Luke xxi. 51. When he said, whosoever committeth sin, is the servant of sin, John viii. 34, might they not well except against this, as condemn­ing the whole generation of the righteous, and making null the way of sacrifices, which God had ap­pointed for sins committed at any time by his peo­ple, which could not but presuppose their commis­sion of sin? Did not Abraham, Isaac, David, Moses, and the rest of the prophets, all commit sin, and were they the servants of sin? He taught also that the children of the kingdom should be cast into utter darkness, Matt. viii. 12. O how harsh would this sound in the ears of the zealous professing Jews, who were waiting and hoping for the kingdom? So in his doctrine there seemed many contradictions to the fleshly understanding: For one while he said, I judge no man, for I came not to condemn the world, and yet was not he continually judging and condemn­ing the scribes, the Pharisees, the priests, the law­yers, and that whole generation of professors? So again he came to seek and to save that which was lost; to preach the gospel of peace; and yet another while he saith, he came not to send peace, but a sword, and to kindle a fire, and to set men at variance, &c. Again, one while he said, I and my Father are one; another time, my Father is greater than me; one while he bid men do as the scribes and Pharisees taught; another while he bid men beware of the lea­ven or doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees, Matt. xvi. 12.

But to what purpose should I heap up any more instances? O thou that readest this, wait, to know in [Page 19] thyself the ear that cannot hear Christ's doctrine While thou condemnest the Jews, do not run into the same error of unbelief and gainsaying; but wait to know the voice of Christ in this day, and to re­ceive the ear that can hear it; for though thou shouldest be willing to hear, yet thou canst not till thy ear be opened: Nicodemus, who could acknow­ledge Christ a teacher come from God, yet could not receive the doctrine of the new birth from him, John iii. 4. And there were many things the disciples themselves were not able to bear: For when at a certain time he spake of giving his flesh to eat, not only the Jews, John vi. 52, but they also stumbled, ver. 61. And who is there among professors that can now bear it, or receive Christ's own interpretation of it? who saith, that the flesh which they under­stood profiteth nothing; but the flesh which he meant was spirit and life, ver. 63.

At his practices and conversation. How is it that he eateth with publicans and sinners? Mark ii. 16, Behold a gluttonous man and a wine-bibber, a friend of publicans and sinners, Luke vii. 14. This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him, for she is a sinner, Luke vii. 39. At the publicans and sinners drawing nigh to hear him, the Pharisees and scribes were offended, and murmured, saying this man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them, Luke xv. 1, 2. And when he went to Zaccheus's house they all murmured, saying that he was gone to be a guest with a man that is a sinner, Luke xix. 7.

Again, because he healed on the sabbath, and justified his disciples in plucking ears of corn on the sabbath, they were filled with madness, and com­muned what they might do to him, Luke vi. 3, and [Page 20] took counsel how they might destroy him, Mark iii. 5, 6. Another time, the ruler of the synagogue spake with indignation about it, Luke xiii. 14, yea, the Jews did persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had healed a man, and bid him take up his bed and walk, on the sabbath day, John v. 8, 16. And some of them made it a strong argument against him, this man is not of God, because he keepeth not the sabbath day, John ix. 16. What! come from God and be a breaker of ordinances! Can these two stand together? Read and consider what more strict ordinance of God under the law than the sabbath? What one ordinance more conducing to the honor and worship of God? Did not their whole re­ligion and worship much depend upon it? How could this possibly but be a great offence to them, in that spirit and literal wisdom from the scriptures wherein they stood? Yet Christ, in his spiritual appearance, was lord of the sabbath, and in his fleshly appearance he doth not lose his dominion. Again, they except­ed against him, that he did not teach his disciples to fast and pray, as John did, Luke v. 33, but could suffer them to transgress the traditions of the elders, Matt. xv. 2. He was not strict after the Jewish way of devotion, nor strict after John's way neither; but against the traditions of the godly elders of the Jew­ish church; against sanctifying of the Lord's sabbath, (justifying his disciples in plucking ears of corn there­on, whereas their forefathers, the Jews, were not so much as to gather manna on that day) against fasting and prayer, for he justified his disciples in that they did not fast and pray as John did, saying, how could they mourn while the bridegroom was with them? Matt. ix. 15. And consider which way the Jews (in the state they stood) could understand such an answer as this, to rest satisfied therewith.

[Page 21]6. They excepted against his miracles, partly be­cause he did them on the sabbath day, John ix. 16. Whereupon they concluded he could not be of God (for if he had been of God, he would have observed the day which God commanded) and if he wrought them not by the power of God, by whose power then must he work them? So they concluded, he casteth out devils by the prince of devils, Matt. ix. 34. He hath Belzebub, and by the prince of devils casteth he out devils, Mark iii. 34. And having thus conclud­ed in themselves, there was no ear open in them to hear any thing that might be said to the contrary. And again, partly because he did not answer their wills, in giving them such a sign as they required: For this was still their tone, master we would see a sign from thee, Matt. xii. 38. What sign shewest thou to us, seeing that thou dost these things? John ii. 18. And they more particularly express what sign they would have, a sign from heaven, Luke xi. 18. What sign shewest thou, that we may see and believe thee? John vi. 30. We are ready to be convinced, we are ready to believe, if thou wouldest give us sufficient ground of believing in thee. As for all thy healing people, and casting out devils, Belzebub, the prince of devils, may furnish thee with power wherewith to deceive and bewitch us from the law and ordinances of Moses, which we are sure are of God; but shew shew us a sign from heaven, or else blame not us for not leaving Moses to run after thee.

7. They excepted at the testimony which the spirit of God in him gave concerning him. When he spake the inward testimony, which the spirit of God gave from within, saying I am the light of the world, he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life, John viii. 13, they pre­sently [Page 22] cried out, thou bearest record of thyself, thy record is not true, ver. 14. Mark his answer, it is written in your law that the testimony of two men is true; I am one that bear witness of myself, and the father that sent me beareth witness of me, ver. 17, 18. How would such an answer pass now in these days, though the same life should speak it? Would not the wise professors of this age think strange at it? Yet the thing is known at this day, even the life which the Father begets, and the Father's testifying of it, and with it, and thou that readest this, mightest know it, couldest thou wait in the loss of thy own life, wisdom and knowledge, for it.

8. They excepted against his disciples and fol­lowers which were women, publicans, and sinners▪ the common people, yea, the meanest, the poorest, and most ignorant (in their account) who were fittest to be deluded and led away. Are ye also deceived? Have any of the rulers, or of the Pharisees, believed on him? But this people who know not the law are accursed, John vi. 47—49. The common people, the ignorant people, the unsettled people, such as know not the law, such as understand not the scrip­tures, they run after him and cry him up, but which of the settled ones, which of the truly zealous ones, which of the wise men in the knowledge of the law and prophets, which of the orthodox scribes and Pharisees, who keep close to Moses, which of these believe in him? Whom of them can he deceive? As for the heady people, who (for want of knowledge from the scriptures) are ready to run after every new fangle, they are not worth minding, they are accursed; and therefore no marvel though God give them up to fol­low this deceiver, and to cry up his new light, and forsake the good old light of Moses and the prophets.

[Page 23]9. They excepted against him, that he did not rebuke his disciples and the multitude (spreading their garments, cutting down branches from the trees, and strewing them in the way) with the chil­dren that cried Hosanna to him as he rode on the a [...]'s colt to Jerusalem; but he rather justified them, Luke xix. 31, Matt. xxi. 15, 16. What a ridiculous and vainglorious piece of pageantry would this seem to the fleshly wise eye?

10. That he did not shew sufficient authority for what he did. By what authority doest thou these things, and who gave thee this authority? &c. Mark xi. 28. Thou takest upon thee great authority over the people of God, over their teachers, yea, over God's temple, sabbath and ordinances; but where is thy authority so to do? Shew us that, &c.

11. They excepted when he spoke of his sufferings and death: We have heard in our law that Christ abideth for ever; and how sayest thou the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is the Son of Man? John xii. 34. Surely he that is to be lifted up cannot be the Christ that is to abide for ever, and not to die! So that here in one breath thou hast overthrown all that thou hast been setting up by thy preaching and mi [...] ­c [...]es. Now which way could they understand this thing? Nay, the very disciples themselves could not swallow it, but were startled at it, and Christ was fain to hide it a long time from them. And yet if there be any thing held forth now in these days by the same spirit (as concerning light and perfection, or other truths which are seen in the spirit) because men cannot apprehend them with their carnal understand­ing, and make them agree with their carnal know­ledge of the scriptures, what liberty do they take to themselves to speak both against the truth itself, and [Page 24] also against them who have seen these things in the spirit, and speak them from the spirit? Now whoso­ever becomes a disciple, must wait in obedience to know the doctrine, and not think to enter with that wisdom and carnal reasoning from the scriptures, which the scribes and Pharisees and the professors of that age were shut out with.

There were many other things which they could not but except against: As at his answers to their questions, to which sometimes he was silent, and gave no answer at all; at other times, he answered not directly, but in parables: (And how offensive is this to man's wisdom? who requires a positive and direct answer.) And sometimes his answer might seem quite from the thing, as John xii. 34, 35.

His not giving respect to persons (for it was a known thing of him that he regarded not men's per­sons, Matt. xvii. 16) could not be very pleasing to them who loved greetings, and sought honor one of another; he shewed not respect to Herod, but spake contemptuously of him, as men would account it: Go, saith he, and tell that fox, he did not shew respect to the reverend and grave doctors of the law; nay, nor to the high priest himself. Nay he did not shew respect to his own disciples, but said to Peter (when he mildly and affectionately desired his death might be avoided) get thee behind me, Satan; how harsh and rough a reply might this seem? If Peter had erred, through his affection and tenderness to his master, a meek spirit would gently have in­formed him; but to call him devil, and say, get thee behind me, what kind of spirit doth this savour of? Would that professing Jew say, who knoweth not the true meekness, but seeks after a fleshly meek­ness, which is a servant to the fleshly wisdom and [Page 25] prudence, but not true born. Nay, he did not speak respectfully to his own mother (as man's spirit, by its rule of respect, would judge and condemn him) for, at the marriage at Cana, when they want­ed wine, "she saith unto him they have no wine;" he saith unto her, woman, what have I to do with thee? John xi. 3, 4, and in a manner denied all his relations, Matt. xii. 48.

Lastly (to instance no more) at his harsh censures of all the professors of that age (who observed the law of Moses, and Israel's statutes) with all their la­borious and godly teachers; justifying none but himself, and what he taught, and a few of his fol­lowers. He told them, that they had not the love of God in them, John v. 42. Did this not, think ye, seem to them a very harsh charge? And why not the love of God? because they did not follow him and his new doctrine; yea, would they be ready to say, they did love God, and kept his command­ments, sabbaths and ordinances, which he trans­gressed.

He laid this also to their charge, that they did not believe Moses, John v. 46. What an unjust charge might this seem? when they were so zealous for Moses; and their very dislike of him, and con­troversy against him, was for the sake of the law and ordinances of Moses.

Another charge he laid to them was, that they were not the children of Abraham, or of God; but of the devil, John viii. 39, 42, 44. What a rash, censorious man might they account him? thus to speak of them who were the human seed of Abraham, who were such strict observers of God's laws and ordinances (which is the property of his children) and such enemies to the devil, that they would not [Page 26] be drawn from the truths and way of worship, taught by Moses and the prophets; no, not by all the miracles he could work.

He called them a faithless and perverse generation, Matt. i. 17, 18. He told them that they did not know God; though they said with confidence that he was their God, John xii. 54, 55. How could they bear this? They had been studying the law and the prophets, and had a great stock of know­ledge from thence, and were strict and exact in wor­ship (some of them, as well as Paul, might be, ac­cording to the law, blameless) and now to be told they did not know God: Nay, he that abound­eth in knowledge, devotion and worship, yet not being in the life and pure power of the spirit, hath not one draught of the true knowledge.

He told them that they should die in their sins, John viii. 21. (O hard word, and severe judgment!) and yet he had told them a little before, he judged no man, ver. 15. Yea they did think themselves ex­ceedingly wronged by him; and thought that no man that had any thing of God in him could speak such things, but only one that was an enemy to the people of God, and led by the spirit of Satan. To this effect they express themselves, ver. 48 of that chapter, say we not well thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil? Yea, when Christ charged them with going about to kill him, they seemed to themselves so clear in their own consciences, that they answered, thou hast a devil, who goes about to kill thee? John vii. 29. How easily might they close up the con­troversy, and by this very thing conclude him to be a false prophet? He says, we went about to kill him; when, God knows, there was not such a thing in our hearts: Can this man be a true prophet? [Page 27] Yet Christ knew the professing Jew to be the mur­derer, and in and for his religion's sake still seeking to slay him. And there is no such murderer of Christ, the life, upon the earth, as the zealous pro­fessor and worshipper out of the life. He that is in the life cannot persecute any man; he that is out of the life cannot but persecute him that is in the life. Hereby the true and false Christian may be discerned, by the weakest, simple and single eye.

And for their teachers and expounders of the law, how exceedingly bitter did he seem against? And how heavy things was he continually laying to their charge? He called them blind guides, hypocrites, painted sepulchres, graves which appear not, and pronounced woe upon woe against them; read that one place, Matt. xxiii. 33, ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? What! speak thus of our zealous teachers, who study the law, are strict in practising of the ordinan­ces, and take such pains to instruct us in the mind of God, from Moses and the prophets! Was such a man as this fit to live? nay, and he does not show a gospel spirit. Mark how sharp and bitter his words come from him, for indeed a sharper speech, with greater vehemency and indignation of spirit, can hardly be spoken; and they might seem to aggravate this sharp condemnation of his, from his own con­fession; he himself had confessed, that they sat in Moses's chair. Now he might have shewn some honor to Moses's chair, and to their office, which was of God, and doubtless good, and not have gone about to make them thus odious in the eyes of the people. Nay, he himself had bid men do as they said, but in ver. 3 of that chapter. Now was it likely that ever men should mind what they said, or observe their [Page 28] doctrine, when he had thus represented them as oppressors of the conscience, ver. 4, as devourers of widows houses, and making long prayers in hypo­crisy ver. 15, as making their proselytes more the children of hell than themselves, as neglecters of the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith, ver. 23, as appearing righteous to men, but full of hypocrisy and iniquity, ver. 28, as of the same generation that killed the prophets, ver. 31, 32, as deceivers; as such as led into the ditch, and bid men beware of their leaven? Were these good kind of encouragements for people to hear them? Yea, he charged them with shutting up the kingdom of heaven against men, and not going in themselves, nor suffering men to enter that were going in, ver. 13. How could they observe what they taught without hearing them? and would Christ wish any to hear such men as these? Yet for all this, without doubt they were not without their justifications against Christ in these respects; and also had their charges, on the other hand, ready against him. Now how did they shut up the kingdom of heaven against men? Did not they teach the law, and direct men to the ordi­nances of God, and open the prophets words to them? Was this shutting up the kingdom of heaven? and would not they suffer men to enter? Why their work was to win people to their profession▪ they would compass sea and land to make a proselyte. How [...] might the Jews have pleaded against Christ, that he did slander their godly ministers, who were very painful and zealous in opening the scriptures, and teaching the way of God? Nay, he himself could not deny but they taught well; for he himself saith, whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe, and do, Matt. xxiii. 3. But mark now, that ye may [Page 29] understand the thing: It is thus, any teaching or expounding of scriptures out of the life, shuts up the kingdom, for the life is the kingdom, and words from the life yield the savour of the kingdom; but words out of it, though ever so good and true, reach not to the life in another, but only build up a know­ledge in the contrary wisdom, and teach to hold the truth in the unrighteousness, where Satan's kingdom stands, and where he hath the dominion of all that is brought thither. And so this kind of teaching and knowledge shuts up the door and way of life, and must be lost, before the kingdom can be found. They shut up the true kingdom, but they opened ano­ther kingdom, they opened the kingdom another way, which was in truth shutting of it; and they had dis­ciples and children of the kingdom, whom they pleased with the hope of life, and fed with promises and comforts; but these the Lord would shut out. Many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven; but the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into utter darkness, Matt. viii. 11, 12. This is true at this day in the present dispensa­tion, as it was then in that dispensation; though men make it a great accusation against us, charging us that we say none are the people of God but ourselves, and as if all were damned but we. These are mens harsh and unsavoury expressions; we use not to speak after this manner, but soberly open the state of the thing as it stands in the truth, and as it hath been re­vealed unto us by him who is true, and cannot lie; which is thus:

That through which men are saved, is the dispen­sation of truth in their age. The measure of light which God gives forth in every age, that is the [Page 30] means and proper way of salvation in that age; and where-ever men get or profess of the knowledge of truth declared in former ages, yet making use of that to withstand the present dispensation of truth in their age, they cannot thereby be saved; but may thereby be hardened against that which should save them. And this we are assured of from the Lord, that as the Jews could not be saved by the law of Moses (making use of it in opposition to the shining of the light of God in the prophets in their several ages) nor afterwards could be saved by magnifying and observing both the words of Moses and the prophets, and their belief from thence of a Messiah to come, making use of those things to oppose that appearance of Christ in the flesh, which was the dispensation of their day then; no more can any professors be saved now by the be­lief of a Christ come, or any thing which they can learn or practise from the scriptures, making use thereof to oppose the dispensation of this day; which dispensation is the immediate and powerful breaking forth of the light of the spirit in the hearts of God's people, who have earnestly sought, and in much sorrow and perplexity of spirit longed and waited for him, after this long dark night of the antichristian apostacy.

There remain yet some other exceptions against him, about the time of his suffering death, with his hard usage, which should not wholly be passed over: As,

1. His disrespectful or irreverent answering of the high priest, as it seemed to them, when he asked him of his doctrine, John xviii. 19. His answer was, that he spake openly in the world, not in secret, why askest thou me? Ask them that heard me. Where­upon one of the officers struck him, saying, answer­est thou the high priest so? ver. 22. The plainness [Page 31] and simplicity of the life, which bows to God, and cannot regard man in the transgression, seems rude and unmannerly to the lofty spirit of the world.

2. His silence at the testimonies brought against him, and to the high priest when he questioned him, Mark xiv. 60, 61. Indeed either the speaking or silence in the life, is offensive to the carnal professor, who knoweth not the law of the life in this particular; but can either speak or be silent, according to his own will. This is the difference between the true and false Christian; the false Christian's knowledge and religion stand in his own will, in his own under­standing, he speaks in his own time; both which are crucified in him that is born of the spirit.

3. When he did speak the truth himself, the high priest rent his cloaths, and charged him with blas­phemy, Matt. xxvi. 64. And those that were by fell in with the high priest, and said, he was worthy of death, ver. 66. Then they spit in his face, and buffeted him, and smote him, and mocked him, and blindfolded him, and struck him on the face, bidding him prophesy who smote him, Matt. xxvi. 67, 68, and Luke xxii. 63, 64. When they brought him to Pilate, they would have Pilate take it for granted that he was an evil-doer, and worthy of death: For when Pilate asked for their accusation against him, they answer, if he were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered him up unto thee, John xviii. 29, 30. Pilate refusing so to proceed in judgment, ver. 31, they begin to bring in their charges: We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, saying that he himself is Christ, a king Luke xxiii. 2. Pilate examines him herein; but professes he can find no fault in him at all, John xviii. 38. Then the chief priests accused [Page 32] him of many other things, Mark xv. 3, and were more fierce; saying, he stirreth up the people, teaching throughout all Jewry, beginning from Gal­lilee to this place; this indeed was his great offence, he taught with the authority of the spirit, and not as the scribes. Then Pilate sent him to Herod, where the chief priests and scribes stood vehemently accusing him, who questioned him much, but he answered him nothing. And Herod, with his men of war, set him at nought, and mocked him, and arrayed him in a gorgeous robe, and sent him back to Pilate, Luke xxiii. 9—11. Pilate professed that he could not find him guilty of this second charge, neither of perverting the people, ver. 14, therefore chastising him, he would release him, ver. 18, but the people, by the persuasion of the chief priests and elders, cried all at once away with this man, and re­lease unto us Barabbas, ver. 11, but let him be cru­cified, crucify him, crucify him! ver. 21, &c. Now when Pilate had scourged him, and the soldiers had stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe, and had put a crown of plaited thorns on his head, and a reed in his right hand, and had bowed the knee to him, in mockery, and spit on him, and smote him with a reed, he brings him forth to them again, hoping this might appease their malice, and they might be content to spare his being crucified; they tell him they have a law, and by their law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God, John xix. 4, 8. See how they turn and wind every way to make the innocent an offender, and to make some law, of one kind or other, take hold of him; but when all their accusations would not prevail with Pi­late, but still, from the sense of his innocency, he had a mind to release him, they use another subtle [Page 33] artifice, telling him, if he let this man go, he was not Caesar's friend, John xix. 12. This carries it with Pilate; now he disputes no farther, but delivers him up to their will, Luke xxiii. 5. Now thou who readest this, take heed of judging the Jews for all this wickedness, while the same nature is alive in thee which did all this in them; for assuredly thou, in whom that nature which did it in them is not sub­dued, wouldest have done the same thing, hadst thou lived in those days. Thou that disdainest and per­secutest the appearance of Christ in this age, wouldest have disdained and have persecuted his appearance in that age. Do not deceive thy soul.

The Jews did as little think that ever they should have put a prophet, or any good man, to death, much less the Messiah, as thou canst: Yea, they could blame their fathers for killing the prophets, and say, if they had lived in those days, they would not have done it; and yet dost thou not read what they did? The persecuting spirit was ever blind, and could in no age read its evil and bitter nature, and its enmity against the life and power. Be not thou blind in thy day, as they were in theirs; and an ene­my, under pretence of being a friend.

4. Another exception or argument against him, about the time of his suffering death, was, that he did not put forth his power to save himself from the cross: He saved others, let him save himself, if he be the Christ, the chosen of God, Luke xxiii. 35. Is it likely that this is the Son of God, and that he did so many miracles by the power of God, and cannot now save himself from the cross? This, his suffering death on the cross, did a little stumble some of the disciples, as may appear, Luke xxiv. 20, 21, and was enough to have overturned the faith of any [Page 34] which stood not in the spirit and in the power. The soldiers also could mock, and manage their argument against him, saying, if thou be the King of the Jews, save thyself, Luke xxiii. 37. And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads, and saying, thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross, Matt. xxvii. 39, 40. Likewise the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked among themselves, saying, he saved others, himself he cannot save. Let Christ, the King of Israel, descend now from the cross, that we may see, and believe, Mark xv. 31, 32. One of the thieves also railed on him, saying, if thou be the Christ, save thyself and us, Luke xxiii. 39. And when he cried out to his God, Eli, Eli, &c. they derided him: This man calleth for Elias; let us see whether Elias will come and save him, Matt. xxvii. 47, 49. And after he was dead, the chief priests and Pharisees spake of him as of a known deceiver, ver. 63, and seem, in a pious zeal for the church, to take care that there be no further occasion, after his death, for the reviving and spreading of his deceit, and error, ver. 64. Thus the holy one, the pure one, the just and true one, in whose heart and mouth was no guile found, was numbered among trans­gressors, accounted a deceiver, and put to death as a blasphemer, by the zealous priests and professors of that age, who were so confident of the righteousness of their cause, on the behalf of the law of Moses, and their sabbaths, temple, &c. against him, that when Pilate washed his hands, as clear of his blood, all the people answered, and said, his blood be on us, and on our children, Matt. xxvii. 25.

[Page 35]Now let men consider what the great exceptions are, which they have against the living appearance of Christ in his spirit (now towards the close of the apostacy) and against us his witnesses, whom the Lord hath called forth to testify his name. Many exceptions men have against our persons, our doctrine, our practices, for want of miracles, &c. Is this gene­ration more wise or just in their exceptions than the former was? Consider the main ones a little.

Their great exceptions against our doctrine are: 1. That we preach up a light within, and that he that receiveth that light, receiveth a perfect gift; and growing up in it, groweth up to perfection, which in this life, through faith and obedience to this light or perfect gift, may be attained, and the body of sin put off, and the new man Christ put on.

Answer. Indeed we cannot but preach up the light within, and declare unto men how great things it hath done for us; even that which we could never by any means meet with from any light without. And this is perfect, and tends to make perfect, carrying on its work daily. Now he that feels its virtue, cannot doubt of its power; he that seeth the body of sin daily going off, cannot doubt but he may be stripped. In­deed, if a man strive against sin in his own will, and by his own gathered knowledge, he cannot get much ground, and so it is hard for him to believe perfection. But he that feels unity with that which is perfect, cannot but acknowledge that it is able to perfect him, and in faith and patience is encouraged to hope and wait for it.

2. That we deny that Christ that died at Jerusalem, and his imputed righteousness, and set up an inhe­rent righteousness.

[Page 36]Answer. We know no other Christ than that which died at Jerusalem, only we confess our chief know­ledge of him is in spirit. And as Christ said in the days of his flesh, that the way to know his father was to know him; and he that knew him knew the father also; so we now witness, that the way to know Christ is to know the spirit; and he that knoweth the spirit, knoweth Christ also; with whom Christ is one, and from whom he cannot be separated. And as for im­puted righteousness, it is too precious a thing to us to be denied by us; that which we deny, is mens putting it out of its place, applying it to them who are nor in the true saith, and walk not in the true light: For in the true light, where the fellowship is with the father and the son, there alone the blood cleanseth, 1 John i. 7. And there alone the righ­teousness is imputed to him, who is cleansed by the blood in the light, and not to him who knows it not. And as for inherent righteousness, we meddle not with that word, but this we say, that our life ex­ceedingly lies in feeling the righteousness of Christ wrought and revealed in us; and we wish men could come out of the reasoning about it, into the feeling of the same thing with us: For then we are sure they would not so sharply, nor so long contend.

3. That we deny the ordinances and means of salvation.

Answer. We deny nothing that the apostles and Christians formerly practised; nor do we deny any thing that any now practise in the light, and in the faith; but the setting up such things in the will, that we deny; or the imitating these without the com­mand of the spirit, that we deny also. And this we testify, that Antichrist crept in here, and that they are his great cover to keep men from the life; and [Page 37] therefore warn men to mind the life, and to take heed they be not kept from the substance by the shadows, where Antichrist lies lurking to bewitch from the substance. And we are sure that these, in Antichrist's hands, are not the means of salvation; but keep from the sight of the holy city, where the life and salvation is. And we read that the outward count was given to the Gentiles; who trod under foot the holy city, Rev. xi. 2. And we have found by ex­perience, that while we ourselves were crying up the outward court, we did trample under foot the city, though we then knew it not.

Their exceptions against our persons are, that we are ignorant, illiterate, and also unsettled persons, who have still been seeking up and down, &c.

Answer. What persons are fittest for God to make use of, towards the recovery of his people out of the apostacy? Doth not God chuse that which is weak, and mean, and contemptible, that his glory might the more appear? Is not this a more likely way for him to steal upon the world, than if he ap­peared in the wise and learned ones? And among whom is his appearance to be expected? Among those that are settled upon their lees in the apostacy? Or among those who have mourned, panted, and sought to come out of it, and could not be settled without his appearing to them, and fixing of their feet upon the rock. But have we been unsettled, since God hath fastened us on the living foundation? Nay, here is no more going out; but he that abides faith­ful, remains a pillar in the house of God. Men ex­cept likewise against our practices, as that we shew not respect to persons, and that we are not strict, after their manner, in duties, &c.

[Page 38]Answer. We have heard that voice, fear God and give glory to him, Rev. xiv. 7. (not only as it is written there, but in spirit) and where the Lord is exalted, the glory of the creature falls: Read Isa. ii. [...]ow all falls in that day, that God alone might be exalted. And we cannot, in this mighty day of the Lord, any longer give to man that honor which he hath gathered in the fall, and which pleaseth the fal­en nature, and not that which is born of God. And or duties, we have bewailed, in the sight of the Lord, our former running into duties without his spirit: And we must confess, we can only pray in the spirit; [...]ing in the spirit; wait in the spirit; speak in the spi­ [...]it, as that gives utterance, and not of ourselves, or when we will, but as we see life, strength and power from on high, leading and assisting us. And our re­ [...]igion consists neither in willing nor running, but in waiting on the spirit and power of the Lord, to work all in us and for us. All these things we look upon to be our duty, and practise them.

It is likewise excepted against us, that we do not work miracles.

Answer. We point to that which wrought all the outward miracles formerly, and which now worketh great inward miracles in spirit; and we are sure [...]he same power which we have received the gospel [...]n, is of the same healing virtue. But that power worketh according to the purpose of its own will, and not according to the will of man. Yea, though Paul had the gift of healing, yet he left Trophimus, at Miletum, sick, 2d Tim. iv. 20. Neither was the will or wisdom of man satisfied in all those mira­cles that Christ and the apostles wrought. It is enough for us to feel and live in the moving of the power; in which we rejoice, and are more satisfied, [Page 39] that by it our names are written in the book of life, than we could by any such outward and visible ap­pearance, and manifestation of it. But if we did work outward miracles, yet if thou hadst not an in­ward eye to see them with, thou wouldest not be able to distinguish by what power they were wrought.

To what purpose should I mention any more par­ticulars? Is it not enough? Oh! fear before the Lord! and do not lose the present dispensation of life through mistake, or because ye cannot have things suited to your corrupt wills; but know the gospel, which is an inward dispensation, and doth not consist in outward shadows, but in inward virtue, life and power. For the kingdom of God is righteousness and peace, and joy in the holy spirit. Come to wait for that, to feel that, to unite there▪ and then we shall not differ about that which is outward. But it is Antichrist's way, by the magistrate's power, to force an agreement about the outward, which destroys that tenderness of conscience which preserves the in­ward.

And now let me put one question to you; where is the deceit of the ages after Christ to be expected? Did the Jews deny Moses and the prophets writings, or ordinances? Nay, were they not very zealous for these? And were not these their cover under which they persecuted Christ, and vented all their malice against him? So can it be expected now, that the deceivers of this age should deny the apostle's writ­ings, or the practices therein mentioned? Of is it not rather to be expected, that under their crying up of these, they should hide their enmity against the life? Search and see, hath not every after-age of professors took up the words and practices of them who were persecuted in the foregoing age; and [Page 40] under the profession of those words and practices, have hid their spirit of persecution? There is a remnant only among professors to be saved; the generality of them have still been persecutors, creeping into the form, getting that for a cover upon their backs, and then fighting against the life and power. Oh! wait on the Lord in his fear, that ye may be found wor­thy to know the persecuted truth on the one hand, and the persecuting spirit on the other hand, in this day of large profession, and also of bitter persecution!

Now what might be the cause, or how could it come to pass, that the zealous worshippers of that age should thus err in their zeal, and be thus [...]eady and rash against him, whom they looked for to be their Saviour? How came they thus to err in vision, and stumble in judgment, in so weighty a matter? Shew unto us the cause, that we may see whether the same cause be not in us: For undoubtedly if it be, it will produce the same effect; and so we may ig­norantly draw upon our heads the same heavy wrath in our day, that they did in their day.

Answer. The causes were many; I may mention some few of the principal ones; which if they be seen into and removed, by that power which is able to do it, such as are of a more inferior influence, will not be able to stand.

1. One cause of their blind zeal, and bitterness against Christ, was their ignorance of the scriptures, and of the power of God. If they had known the scriptures in the true light, they could not but have known Christ, from whom the scriptures were given forth; and if they had known [...]he power of God, they could not but have known [...] who came in the power. Yea, [...] [...]hey had knowledge enough of [...], in the letter: [Page 41] They knew the words of scripture, they could make large expositions of them. They knew what was said in scripture concerning the power of God, but they knew not the thing itself; and so turned against it, and made use of the words which came from it, and testified of it, against it.

2. A second cause of this their sad miscarriage in their zeal was, their putting the law and ordinances, and writings of the prophets, out of their proper places. They exceedingly magnified and cried them up, in that carnal way wherein they apprehended and practised them, but understood not the right end and use of them. And by these means, practising the shadows in the carnal mind, they lost the substance, which the proper use of the shadows was to have pointed them unto.

3. Their high conceits of the goodness of their state in relation to God, and of their certainty of their knowledge of the truths of God, from Moses and the prophets. They were confident they knew God aright, and that he was their father, and that they were his children and people. And so Christ's appearing in a seeming contrariety to these, notwith­standing all his powerful preaching and miracles, they made no question but they might boldly con­clude him not to be of God.

4. Christ coming in a way that they looked not for him. They had concluded from the scriptures how Christ must appear; and he coming in a far different manner, they could not own him, but looked upon him as a deceiver, one that pretended to be Christ, but was not like to what the scriptures said of Christ. So what the scriptures saith of Christ's second coming, is hid as much from the carnal eye of professors in this age, as what was said concerning his first coming, [Page 42] was hid from them in their age; and he will steal upon them as a thief, at a time, and in a way, and after a manner, that they expect not.

5. (Which is the main-one, and the cause of all the former) because they were from the light within, from the true light in their own hearts and consciences. The light within is the great ordinance of God, and the proper means to give the knowledge of him, 2 Cor. iv. 6, without which it was never received under any dispensation: For the light that shines abroad, or from without, can alone be known and received by the light that shines within. Christ himself opens this in a parable; the light of the body, saith he, is the eye; if therefore thine eye be single, clear, without beams or motes, thy whole body shall be full of light, Matt. vi. 22. But if that be evil, if that be dark, if that be closed by the God of this world, all Moses's words, all the prophets words, yea, all Christ and the apostles words, cannot give thee light. Can I see the light of the sun, moon, or stars, or of any fire or candle, if I have not a natural eye, and if that natural eye be not open? So neither can I see the light of any dispensation of life, if I have not an eye within me open, wherewith to see it. So that which gives me the sight of the things of God, is the eye which God hath given me; by that may be read the eternal power and god­head in the creatures, in the books of Moses and the prophets, in the writings of the evangelists and the apostles; as the spirit leads and opens, yea, the same spirit that opened to these without books, may again open to any of us without books at his pleasure, and will not be limited to books; and we then may read also as they did, even within in the spirit, and in the immediate life; but without this, can none of the things of God be read aright. Now the God of this [Page 43] world had blinded this eye in the Jews; yea, they themselves had stopped their ears and closed their eyes, &c. they would not see this way, they would not be converted and healed this way. They would keep up the knowledge which they had gathered from Moses and the prophets, without this eye; and with that they would see, or not at all.

Thus being from the light within, they could not see the place of life within, where life is to be re­ceived: They could not see the womb of wisdom which is within, and so could not enter into it, and be born again; and being not born of the wisdom, how could they justify the wisdom? Being not born of the light, how could they know or own Christ, whose coming and appearance was in the light? For that appearance of Christ the life, in that body of flesh, could not be discerned by all mens wisdom in the letter; the disciples themselves came not so to know it, but my father which is in heaven hath re­vealed it to you. And mark it: The disciples who were illiterate, and not so knowing of the scriptures that were written of Christ, yet they knew Christ: But the scribes and Pharisees, who were very skilful in the letter, could not know him. What was the reason? The reason lay in the difference of the eye, or light, wherewith they looked; the one looked with an outward eye, the other with an inward eye. And a little inward light will do that, which a great deal of outward light will not do. And this I can certainly affirm, that all the light that men can ga­ther from the scriptures, cannot give them the know­ledge of Christ as he hath appeared in this age; nay, nor as he hath appeared in any age, since the days of the apostles; but a little true inward light will give the knowledge of this thing, and open those scrip­tures [Page 44] infallibly, in its season, which all the genera­tions of wife and learned men have been controvert­ing and disputing about, in that wisdom and search­ing spirit which is never to understand them. This then is the main and full reason of this deep error of the Jews, and their desperate splitting upon the rock, which would have saved them. They were begotten of the letter, which was given forth in former ages; but not of the life, which was raised up in their age; and so they knew not how to turn to the light with­in, which alone was able to give them the true and certain knowledge of the things of God.

Now consider these things well, O ye professors of this age! and take heed that ye do not fall after the same example of unblief. Be not high-minded, but fear. Be not so confident of what you have gathered by your wisdom for truth from the scriptures, after the manner that they were, of what they had gathered by their wisdom; but fear lest ye should be mistaken as they were; and wait for the opening of that light in you, which was shut in them; even the true eye, in the true light, by the holy anointing; where there never was nor can be any mistake. The Jews fell by unbelief. Unbelief of what? They believed the scriptures, they believed according to that knowledge they had gathered from the scriptures; but they did not believe in the living word. They had a know­ledge abiding in them, which they had gathered from the scriptures, but they had not the living word abiding in them; and so their faith was but unbelief, for the living faith stands in the belief of the living word in the heart, which the scriptures direct to; without the knowledge of which, all knowledge of words is vain; and without faith in which, all faith is vain also. Now saith the apostle to the Gentile, [Page 45] Christian, thou standest by faith, Rom. xi. 20. By what faith? By faith in that word in the heart, which they neglected and turned from, Rom. x. 8. For Moses had taught them, after the laws and ordinances about worship and sacrifices, that the word that they were to obey and do, the word that could give them life, and make them obedient to all the com­mandments without, was in their heart and mouth, Deut. xxx. 14. And so the prophet Micah, when they proposed sacrifices and oil to please God with, brings them to this, which was given to them in common with mankind, Micah vi. 8. For all ordi­nances, and laws, and observations, and practices without, are but to bring the life within, which is to be found again there, where it was lost, and still lies slain and hid, even in the field or house where it was lost. And he that seeks abroad, never finds it, but when the candle is lighted in his own house, and he searches narrowly in the field, in his own heart, and the eternal eye begins to open in him; then he cries God was in this place, and I was not aware of it. Ah! how the enemy bewitched me, to run from mountain to mountain! and from hill to hill! and hath hereby covered my eye from beholding the mountain of the Lord's house, and from feeling the spring of my life, which I further and further ran from, all the while I was seeking abroad. Therefore, O ye professors, be not so conceited like the Jews, and running after them into their desolation and misery, but learn wis­dom by their fall! Do not you set up their ordinances and scriptures, after the manner they set up theirs; for this is your danger, for this I clearly, in the light of the Lord, testify to you, that if ye gather a know­ledge and wisdom from the letter of the scriptures, after the manner that they did, without knowledge [Page 46] from the word within, and without a light within from that word, ye lose the living faith; ye are but dead branches, and your knowledge of scriptures, and practices, and faith, and duties, &c. that ye here hold and observe, are but for the fire; and the flames of eternal wrath shall kindle more fiercely upon you because of them, than upon the Jews; for ye stumble at the same stumbling-stone at which they stumbled and fell, and it will fall upon you also. And as you have more scriptures than they had, and [...]e experience of their fall to warn you, so your destruction will be exceeding dreadful if you neglect so great salvation; whereof at this day there are so many living and powerful witnesses, as they are known and owned to be in the light of the Lord, though despis­ed in your exalted and conceited wisdom.

Now to help any honest and single hearts among you over this great stumbling-block of a light within, consider these few things:

1. That all the knowledge, all the true know­ledge, that ever ye had of God, was from a light within. I do not deny that ye might receive your knowledge through the scriptures, and some warmth formerly in those things which ye call ordinances and duties; but that whereby ye received the know­ledge was the light within, the eye that God secretly opened in your spirits. This was the way ye then came by it, though ye perhaps might feel the thing, but not know how ye came by it; even as a babe may see truly, but doth not understand its own eye, or know how it sees.

2. While this eye was kept open in you, your knowledge was true in its measure, and serviceable to you, and did draw you nearer to God, making you truly tender, meek, sweet, humble, patient, [Page 47] loving, gentle, and of precious breathing towards God, and after righteousness. Oh! how lovely were you to God in this state? When Israel was a child, I loved him. God remembereth at this day the kindness of your youth, and is seeking after you. Oh! why do you so harden your hearts against him?

3. That where-ever this eye is shut, the virtue of the true knowledge is lost, and the sweet fruits thereof wither. The outward part of the knowledge may be retained; yea, perhaps much increased, but the life is gone, and the pure sweet savouriness, to God, vanished. And if this eye were but a little opened against you, your death and unsavouriness might soon be seen and felt in you, in all your knowledge, duties, ordinances; yea, in your very graces and experiences. You have a faith still; yea, but it wants the savour of your former faith: Ye have some kind of love, gentleness, and meekness; yea, but it is only a thing formed by the fleshly wis­dom and reasoning, but not natural from the living spring, not such as ye once felt, &c. for the true and living eye being shut, that which is then best, or afterwards attained, is held but in the dead part, and serves but to feed death.

4. The great work and design of the enemy of your souls, is not to steal away the bulk of your knowledge, or to draw you from ordinances or du­ties; but to steal the life out of your spirits. This I have experienced from my childhood: I might still have knowledge enough of any kind; but that which I wanted was life, and I was still sick under all the sorts of knowledge that ever I met with, and under all ordinances and duties, for want of life. The Lord had given my soul a taste of true life, whereby I became unsatisfied without it, and no [Page 48] manner of knowledge or enjoyment could take me up by the way: Yea, when through extremity I seemed willing to be content with any thing; yet still my heart was sick after that one thing, which alone could truly ease and satisfy it. Now if the enemy can prevail herein, to blind the inward eye, and steal away the life within, he hath enough. Then abound as much as thou wilt in knowledge, in zeal, in duties, in ordinances, in reading scriptures, praying, meditating, &c. thou art the surer his here­by, and so much the better servant to him; for how much the richer thou art in knowledge, experiences, hopes, and assurance, without the life or power, so much the more acceptable, and honorable, and use­ful, art thou in his kingdom.

Therefore see where ye are; is the inward eye open in you? Do you know the light within? Sure­ly he that sees by a light within, can hardly speak evil of it. Or hath the enemy, by some of his arti­fices, drawn a veil over that eye wherewith once ye saw in some measure? Oh! be not slight in a matter of so great weight! Oh! please not yourselves with the eye of the perishing wisdom, with death's eye, and with death's knowledge of scriptures, and the Son of God; which speaks great words of the same of true wisdom, but is a stranger and enemy to the thing! Oh! life is precious! eternal life is pre­cious! To have the word of God abiding in the heart, and to feel the true light give the true life, who can set a value on this? Ah! do not lose your souls for a trifle, for a little such knowledge of the scriptures, as the earthly part can gather!

This I cannot but exceedingly despise, although the scriptures I truly honor, for their testimony of that whereby I live. If ye see not the way of life [Page 49] by the inward light, which alone can shew it, ye lose your souls. If the god of the world hath blinded that eye in you, what are all your treasures of wis­dom and knowledge? What are all your hopes? And what will become of you? All these sparks of your own kindling from scripture, will not secure you from the bed of sorrow. O ye several sorts of professors, why will ye die with the uncircumcised? Why will ye go down into the pit, among them that know not the Lord?

But what shall I say to this generation? The spi­ritually-wise foreseeth the storm and hideth himself; but the spiritually-foolish run on headily, and are punished. The clouds have long been gathering; but the sick eye cannot discern the signs of the times and seasons; and so because judgment comes not as men expected, they grow hard, and wear off the sense wherewith they were somewhat affected at the first threatening of it, but assuredly both judgment and mercy hasten, and they will come, and will not tarry.

For the same Lord God Almighty, which con­founded the heathen Babel, when their sins and vain confidence were ripe, which they built to prevent any future flood, for though they once had the true knowledge of God from an inward light, Rom. i. 21, yet they soon left that, not liking to retain God in their knowledge, ver. 28, but running out into ima­ginations, and so building a Babel, whereby their foolish hearts became darkened to the light which God had made to shine in them; which shewed what might be known of God unto them, ver. 19. Yea, the Lord God which overthrew the Jews Babel, which they had built from their knowledge of the laws and ordinances of Moses, and the scriptures written to them, they running out into imaginations [Page 50] also, whereby they likewise thought to prevent the overflowing scourge from coming near them, Isa. xxviii. 15, the same God will overthrow the Christians Babel, which they have built from the prophets and apostles words, by their own imaginations and con­ceivings in the high-mindedness, out of the fear, whereby they think to escape the deluge of eternal wrath. For their city also shall be thrown down with violence, and shall be found no more at all, Rev. xviii. 21. And the great work of this day is to discover the rottenness of their wall, and the untempered­ness of the mortar wherewith they have daubed it. He that readeth, let him understand; but the un­circumcised in heart and ears cannot.

"But the Lord will manifest all things in his time, and give his truth a passage in the earth, and his peo­ple a quiet habitation therein, how black soever the face of things now appear, as relating to them. Oh! how happy will the day be, when the Lord shall have wrought down the selfish spirit in man, and shall have raised up his own noble and equal princi­ple. Then shall righteousness spring up and spread abroad throughout the nations; and the work of righteousness shall be peace, and the effect of righ­teousness, quietness, and assurance for ever."

A few Words to such as have felt the Power of the end­less Life drawing, and have faithfully followed the Leader of the Flock of Israel; who hath of late led his [...]heep in such Paths as have not been known all the Night of the Apostasy.

O YE children of the Most High! who have felt the breath of the eternal spirit begetting you in the pure life, and drawing you out of this world, out of the vanities, out of the corruptions, out of the [Page 51] course and fashions, out of [...] ways and forms of worship, yea out of the very root and prin­ciple thereof, into the worship and spirit of truth, and into the fear of the Most High, which is wisdom's place and habitation, where the pure law of life is received, and the salvation begun, wrought out, and perfected: O ye dear plants of the right hand of eternity! fear not what is to come to pass in this vi­sible creation, to break the corrupt state thereof, and to make way for the springing up and spreading of his pure life and righteousness, which the corrupt estate, spirit and principle of the world cannot but oppose until it be brought down and subjected, sanctify the Lord of Hosts, and let him be your fear and dread, that he may compass you with the arm of his power, and hide you under the shadow of his hand, until he hath planted the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth, and say to Sion, in the sight of all her enemies, thou art my people. The Lord my God watch over you night and day! and pre­serve his living principle pure and fresh in you, and you in perfect subjection unto it; that he may delight in what he hath begotten and preserved in you, and ye may be satisfied in the opening and overflowing of the love of his heart towards you.

Even so, O Lord, thy will be done concerning this generation of thy people, whom thou hast begot­ten to thyself, and brought forth by thy mighty power, to testify to thy truth in this present day. Dispose of them as it pleaseth thee, and let not their faith in thee, nor thy faithfulness to them, fail; but let them be a praise to thy name throughout all ge­nerations, and tendered by thee, as the first fruits of thine appearance, in the glorious light of the everlast­ing day, after this great, long, thick, and dark night [Page 52] of apostasy from the life and spirit of the apostles, which hath so long eclipsed and covered the bright­ness of thy beauty from the sight of the earth. Amen.

POSTSCRIPT to the JEW OUTWARD. Or, to the several PROFESSORS of this Age.

‘Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this world? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?’1 Cor. i. 20.

THESE have always been the enemies and opposers of truth, and setters up of false images thereof in all ages; the wise, the learned, the great disputants. To these truth has still been mean and contemptible, their eye hath still over­looked it, and their imaginations have still outrun it, finding out somewhat else in the stead thereof; for which they have been still able and vigorous to contend, and against the truth itself. And indeed how can the wise eye see that, how can the learned eye acknowledge that, which comes quite out of the way of its knowledge and learning, even in a path that it is not at all acquainted with? Wisdom is justified of her children. Those that are wise to salvation, those that are learned in the spirit, those that can dispute in the power of the life and demon­stration of the spirit, these know her habitation, and her out-goings, and can own her in every age, and in every dispensation and coming forth: But the wise and learned of this world are shut out of this wisdom, and in all the searches after truth cannot find her; and if at any time they do find and taste somewhat of her, yet they cannot keep her; but the wisdom, and learning, and strength of the earth­ly [Page 53] part in them, soon betrays and makes a prey of the simplicity that is in Christ, and of his pure gospel; which cannot be comprehended, nor will take up a dwelling-place with this wisdom, but brings it to nothing, tramples upon it, and keeps it down for ever, where it abides.

Three sorts of enemies, of the wise, the learned, the great disputants, truth always had. First, of such as have denied the true form of knowledge and worship. Secondly, of such as have owned the form, but denied the power. Thirdly, of such as have had a taste of the power, but afterwards erred from it; and so held that, which they had once a true taste of, in the unrighteous part, and likewise added to it by their own imaginations.

When Israel was in Egypt, that poor illiterate company of brick-makers, in bondage under that wise people, the Egyptians, with all their wisdom, could not own their God, or their worship; but their God was an unknown being to all that wisdom, Ex. v. 2, and his worship and sacrifice the abomination of their eyes, Ex. viii. 26. And Jannes and Jambres, with other wise magicians, withstood the appearance of God; and Pharaoh and his people, with their wisdom, thought to have kept God's Is­rael from multiplying, Ex. i. 10, and to have held Israel still under their servitude, after the Lord was risen to stretch out his arm for their deliverance, Ex. v. 8, 9. And how did all the wise nations still watch to make a prey of God's Jerusalem? How did they count the towers? How often did they think to divide the spoil? Judg, v. 28 Isa. xxxiii. 18. How did Senacherib and Rabsheka make her their own? And when the Lord did at any time give Jacob for a spoil, and Israel to the robbers, how did they think [Page 54] to keep her under for ever? The wise Assyrian, the Moabite, the Ammonite, the Edomite, the Phi­listine, the Amalekite, the wise Babylonian, or Chal­dean, thought to keep her under, as Pharaoh had done, even till their wisdom and knowledge pervert­ed them also, Isa. xlvii. 18; and the prince of Tyre, who was wiser than Daniel, Ezek. xxviii. 3, he also could insult over Jerusalem, and rejoice at her down­fall and captivity, chap. xxvi. 2.

But to come closer; come to Israel itself. That people, by all the wisdom it could gather from the law, by all the experiences it had had of God's pow­er, by all the faith that was wrought in them upon deliverances, yet had not eyes to see, nor ears to hear, nor hearts to perceive; but were a people that did always err in their hearts, and did not under­stand the way of truth and peace. The prophets among them still fools; yea, the spiritual man mad, Hos. ix. 7. The priests were generally ignorant of the Lord, for though they had the ark of his presence, his tabernacle, his temple, altar, sacrifices, worship, &c. yet they did not know where he was, nor did en­quire after him, but contented themselves with a form of knowledge and worship. And they that handled the law, knew not him that gave the law, and was the sole true interpreter of the law; but the pastors transgressed against him, and the prophets prophesied by another spirit, Jer. ii. 8. They were wise, and did abound in their own mean­ings, guessings, and gathered knowledge; but they knew not the truth, no not of the letter according to the law, and according to that light which God sometimes caused to shine among them from his prophets. Hence it was that that people, with their rulers, their teachers, their priests, their prophets, were generally enemies to the prophets whom God [Page 55] raised up, hating, persecuting, imprisoning, stoning them, &c. The prophets of God, that spake his truth in his wisdom, in his life and power, in the demonstration of his spirit, they could not away with; these were fools with them, these were mad­men with them, 2 Kings, ix. 11, Jer. xxix. 26. These [...]re poor illiterate herdsmen and ploughmen; they [...]d learned men, that were brought up at the schools [...] the prophets, that could prophesy divine things, [...]eet things, that could open the law learnedly: These prophets and the priests the rulers cherished, [...]d the people loved, Jer. v. 31, and xxiii. 26, 27, Ezek. xiii. 3, &c. Yea, among that people such as had a taste of the truth, as Korah, Dathan and Abiram might have, for surely it was not a small matter that could so lift them up to oppose Moses and Aaron in that manner, and to stand out the contest against them, even in the Lord's presence, Numb. xvi. 18, but an apprehension of God's being on their side, from some appearance of his to them, and as Balaam had, whose eyes were opened to see the beauty of the tents of Jacob; yet these, through the prevailing of the fleshly lusts and wisdom, be­come enemies, and try always to prevail over Israel, even over the truth, and over the power. It present­ly hangs down its head: Nay, if he do but so much as hide his face, it is troubled; and all the fullness, which it immediately before had from God, is not able to keep up its life one moment; but it pants, and fails, and withers, until a new supply of refresh­ment be administered to it. And he that knows this in any measure will not wonder at the distress and misery of such, for want of God's presence; and at their cryings out after the spring of their life, even as the hart panteth after the water-brooks, though [Page 56] they should have fullness of all outward things, yea, and also fullness of knowledge in things of religion, even concerning all conditions and estates. The thing that I wanted in my great misery, it was not outward knowledge, it was not experience of God's mercy and goodness; but this I wanted, the issuings forth of his fresh life, and livingly to know where to wait for it, and livingly to know it when it appear­ed: For it was still near me all the time of my darkness, and did preserve me, and appear unto me; but I livingly knew it not, but thought I would be wiser than others: For I saw many deceived, and so I would not own it in such a way as it then appeared in me, lest I also should be deceived like others; but waited for such an appearance as could not be questioned by the fleshly wisdom. And he that waits for that, and so despises the day of small things, cannot but refuse the little seed; and so, not being received into his earth, it can never grow up in him into a great tree; whereby the glory of the kingdom will be hid from him, and he shut out of it, when others enter into and sit down in it. Therefore, he that will be wise, let him become a fool, that he may be wise; let him receive that for his light, his king, his guide, which man's wisdom never did, nor never will own. He that ever looks to enjoy the comforter, let him receive the reprover, the con­vincer of sin, and wait for his law of judging him through the whole course of his sinful state and nature, passing along with him through the whole condemna­tion, until he arrive with him at the justification of the life, which the fleshly wisdom, nor any of his knowledge of the things of God, as they are held in the fleshly part, must never arrive with him at.

[Page 57]Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?

The wisdom of this world is precious in the eye of the world; and the wisdom of God, in his poor, weak, despised earthen vessels, is still foolishness with them; but the Lord so orders it, that he still justifies his de­spised wisdom in his despised vessels, and makes the wisdom of the world appear foolish to all the single and upright-hearted who thirst after, and wait for the revelation of his truth. Now two ways especially the Lord makes the folly of this world's wisdom ap­pear:

First, in that by all their wisdom they cannot find out the true knowledge of God, ver. 21. The world by wisdom knew not God. Though there be an ex­ceeding desire kindled in them to know God; though they take all the ways that heart can imagine to attain their desires; though they study and meditate ever so hard; though they get ever so many arts and lan­guages; nay, though they read the very scriptures ever so diligently; though they keep ever so strict to the forms of church orders and disciplines; even though they labour in the very fire; yet what they get, what they gather, what they understand, what they comprehend by this wisdom, it is all but very vanity, Heb. ii. 13. It reaches not the immortal, it nourishes not the immortal, it satisfies not the soul, it refreshes not the seed; but only feeds and pleases the earthly part, the earthly understanding, the earth­ly mind, the earthly desires and affections; even the man's part, the man's spirit, the man's nature; which though elevated and raised ever so high, is still but earth.

Secondly, in that all their wisdom cannot teach them to come down to, to submit to, to come [Page 58] into God's way of having their wisdom crucified, and that raised up in them which might receive the truth. This they can never learn in the fleshly wisdom. They may indeed come thus far, even to see that there is no way of entrance but by death; and to seek death, that they may enter into the life, but they cannot find it. The seed of Jacob, in his seeking, misses not; but this seeker never finds; to this asker it is never given, and to this knocker it is never opened: And that is it which makes this wisdom in every appearance, in every sort of profession and sect of professors, so rage at the seed of Jacob, even because it finds itself still shut out of the life into which an entrance is ad­ministered to the seed. And how can that which would fain have the kingdom, but rage against that which takes the inheritance from it? How can every sort of professors but strive to slay the heir, that the inheritance may be theirs? Were it not for the living seed, and the living power and virtue, which break forth in them and among them, the religion and wor­ship of the first birth might pass for current; but this is it which darkens the glory of all professions and professors upon the earth, even that living thing which God hath begotten in his people, and his living presence with it, and blessing upon it. At this all the zealous sacrificers, teachers and pro­fessors, out of the life, rage and are mad, and would break the cords and bands wherewith this strives to bind them unto God's altar.

Now look over all ages; could the wise heathen stoop to God's dispensation to the Jews? Was it not foolishness and abomination to them? Or could the wise Jews stoop to the law within, to the word in the heart, although directed thereto by Moses, Deut. xxx. 14, to learn there to do justly, to love mercy, [Page 59] and to walk humbly with their God? Micah vi. 8. Could they wait there to have their hearts circum­cised by that word of power, and so to be washed and made clean? Nay, were they not drowned in the outward sacrifices, temple, incense, new-moons and sabbaths, and such kind of observations, and could not hear the truth of the Lord as it was delivered by Moses, nor as it was opened by the prophets? Isa. i. 2. So that this people, seeking to know the Lord from the letter, by this wisdom, could never come to the knowledge of him, but the place of his light and wisdom was hid from them.

Again, when Christ came (in the days that are past) and the kingdom was preached, and the ever­lasting way of redemption and salvation made mani­fest, could the wise eye in the Greeks, or the wise eye in the Jews, see it? Did not the Greeks shut themselves out by a wisdom above the letter (as they thought) and the Jews by a knowledge and wisdom which they had gathered out of the letter? How wise were they from the letter to reason against the king of life? This man cannot be of God, for he is a breaker of his sabbath. He is a Nazarite, and can any good thing come out of Nazareth? He saith the son of man must be lifted up, but we read that Christ abideth for ever.

The apostle Jude compares such to the angels that kept not their first estate; the angels that fell had a place and standing once in the truth, but they kept it not, they abode not in the truth, but fell from it, and so became devils, enemies to the truth from which they fell: So those that fall from the truth, from the power, from the living virtue whereof they once tasted, from the true wisdom which once appeared to them, and begun to season and savour them, in [Page 60] their fallen wisdom they become the greatest enemies, the greatest accusers, the greatest opposers, and the stiffest maintainers of a false image of that truth which they once had some knowledge of, and some unity with. Thus it was in the Jewish state: Now come to the apostles days. First, they had all the wise men of that age against them; all the wise Greeks, all the wise Jews, the learned men, the able dispu­tants of all sorts. The Greeks could not find wisdom in that knowledge of Christ which they held forth, nor the Jews could not find power in it, 1 Cor. i. 22; and so one accounted it foolishness, the other stumbled at it, ver. 23. There were many sorts and sects of wise men among the Jews, but not one sort could own the truth, though they were looking for it, searching the scriptures about it, and disputing con­cerning it. The very thing then in agitation and en­quiry among them was, when the kingdom of God should come. The king himself directs them where it was, that they might know where to expect and wait for it, Luke xvii. 21, and in many parables opens it to them; but it was still hid from the eye of that wisdom wherewith they did strive to see, understand and comprehend it. So that all the several sorts of wise men of that age, even those who were admirers of the law and prophets, yet were strangers and ene­mies to the truth, because they joined to that wisdom, and to that learning and comprehension of the scrip­tures, out of the sight whereof it came.

Secondly, for such as did own Christ after the flesh, such as were convinced by his miracles, as Nicode­mus and many of the more honest sort of the Jews were; yet Christ did not commit himself to them, John ii. 24. He knew this faith, and this owning of him, which was founded upon the wisdom and inge­nuity [Page 61] of the creature, would fail; and so he would not own it in Nicodemus, but bids him look after the new birth, John iii. 2, 3; nor in such as followed him up and down, upon this or any other fleshly ac­count; but sometimes withdrew, and hid himself from them, Luke v. 16, John vi. 14, 15; and some­times preached doctrines which stumbled them, and made them withdraw from him, John vi. 66. And so in the apostles days there were many that could get the form, and gain advantage thereby to the fleshly wisdom, to withstand the power, 2 Tim. iii. 5. 2 Cor. xi. 13.

Thirdly, there were such as had tasted of the hea­venly gift, and of the powers of the world to come, and yet fell away, Heb. vi. 4—6. There were such as denied the Lord who bought them, 2 Pet. ii. 1, such as fell from the love of the truth, to the love of the world again, ver. 22, 2 Tim. iv. 10.

Such as had a standing in the church's heaven (like the angels which fell) but kept not their habitation, but were swept down from thence to the earth by the dragon's tail, Rev. xii. iv. these are the noblest cham­pions (in the earthly wisdom, and for a corrupt estate and false image) of all the rest.

Now as the prophets of God among the Jews had these enemies, and as the apostles also had these ene­mies, so all along the apostasy these enemies have been rife. The witnesses have had a wise sort of direct opposers among the Papists, a wise sort of secret underminers among the Protestants, and also another wise sort of them among themselves, as had some taste of the truth, but departed from the power of it into the earthly wisdom, and understanding; and this last sort fight more furiously and more vehemently against the truth, and are more subtle to assault it, [Page 62] than the other two. Oh! there is no such bitter, deadly enemy to Christ and his truth, as he who once had some taste of the virtue of it, and is now turned from it into the earth, into the wisdom and love of the world, and yet still holds some of the no­tion of that truth, whereof he once felt the power, in the earthly part.

To come yet closer▪ There is in every man, not tho­roughly sanctified, that wisdom which is not of God; that wisdom from which God hides his precious truths; which wisdom lies ready to catch every discovery and revelation of truth to him, that it might improve it, and grow rich and wise by it. Now this wisdom cannot attain to the knowledge of any of the things of God; neither can this wisdom keep the true knowledge; but whatever this wisdom catcheth, it presently corrupts. The true wisdom, the true light, the true knowledge of Christ, is like the manna in the wilderness; it daily comes down from heaven, and must daily be gathered fresh. The true light springs from the life, and must be held in the life, in the vessel which the life forms, in the new bottle, in the new understanding; not in the fleshly part, nay, not in the natural part; for as the natural man cannot receive the things of the spirit, 1 Cor. ii. 14, so neither can he retain them. The old store­house, into which earthly things were gathered, must be burnt up, and not made a treasury for the things of God; but the new understanding, which is given by him that is true, 1 John, v. 20, which new forms and preserves, and is all in the natural. Sink out of the earthly part, and read, that thou mayest be able to say within thyself, and concerning thyself, where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer?

[Page 63]The wise part, the knowing part, the reaching part, in every man, will be putting forth its hand to gather of the tree of life; but what hath it ever been able to gather? I know men may gather notions of any kind, of any sect, of any sort of professors, of any ap­pearance or dispensation; but who is able to come near the life, to touch the power, the truth, the everlasting spring, or any stream or drop of water that issues from it? And he who hath a true touch or taste thereof given him, can his wisdom add to it? Nay, can he so much as retain it? David had a true sense and experience of this, who cried out, O continue thy loving kindness to them that know thee, and thy righteousness to the upright in heart. Indeed if he like not to retain the thing itself in his knowledge, he may improve the no­tion, and bend that to the disposition of the earthly part in himself and others; but this is not the truth, but a dead image, or a dead remembrance of what once was truly living. Oh! how doth the soul that is begot­ten of the divine breath, that is born of the living power and virtue, depend upon God for his con­tinual breathing? There is nothing that hath so much from God, and yet nothing is so little able to live without him. If he withdraws from it, he is against God's temple, against God's day of worship, gives his disciples such scope and liberty, as neither the Pharisees nor John gave their disciples; but re­viles our strict and godly teachers and expounders of the law, calling them hypocrites, blind guides, &c. And mark with what a rough severe spirit he reproves them; whereas they call him master, and speak mildly and gently to him. Oh! what Jew in that nature, in that wisdom, in that spirit, could but find matter and occasion of stumbling at Christ, even from the law and the prophets?

[Page 64]And as they have stumbled at the dispensation and appearance of God's spirit in all former ages, so have all the generations of wise men since the apostasy, all the learned men generally, their councils, synods, convocations, and assemblies, been stumbling at the appearance of his spirit in this age, looking for some such like building as had been in the apostles days, and not understanding or observing how the Lord hath took down that building, as it had been set up in the world, and how he prepared a place in the wilder­ness for his true church, of which Christ is the head, unto which he gave her wings to fly. Rev. xii. And how afterwards the false woman, or false church, got up in her stead, who with a golden cup of for­nication bewitched the kings and inhabitants of the earth, Rev. xvii. 2, even peoples, multitudes, na­tions, and tongues, ver. 15. So that they mistook her for the true church, and went into her bed of whore­doms. Which of all the learned men, which of all the councils of the Papists, have seen this, nay which of the Protestant councils, or convocations, or assem­blies, have beheld the state of the true church? Nay, have not every sort and sect of the Protestants endea­voured to build up some image or likeness of the true church; not so much as suspecting that she was fled into, and was to abide in the wilderness for a time, times, and half a time? Oh! what darkness hath covered the earth, and gross darkness the peo­ple? Oh! how hath God befooled the wise men of every sort! the wise men of every age! the wise Pro­testants, as well as the wise Papists! the wise Inde­pendents, Baptists, and Quakers, as well the wise Episcopalians and Presbyterians! And how blind and sottish are nations and people, that still they think to find out the truth by having a synod, assembly or [Page 65] convocation of the wise men gathered together! to keep up strict their forms of church orders, and rules of discipline; indeed they are fittest to rear up an image, like Babel, to please the earthly part of man, and the earthly powers and interests, but truth never came in by that way, but the wise and learned have still been shut out from it, and have proved enemies to it. And whosoever comes out of the apostasy from the spirit and from the truth, to the truth and spirit again, shall find nothing so great an enemy as the wisdom in himself, and directions from the wisdom in others: For that which God leads is a simple, a weak babe, a child to the wisdom of this world, and he leads it in a path which is wholly out of the line of this world's wisdom and knowledge of the scriptures, as the path God chose in Christ, and the apostles days, that are past, was out of the line of the Jews knowledge or the scriptures. Such is the recovery out of the apostasy: It is hid from all the fleshly-wise men of this age, even as the entrance into the truths of the kingdom was hid from all the fleshly-wise men of that age. Happy is he who ceaseth from striving after the knowledge and comprehending of the things of God in this world's spirit and wisdom, and waiteth in the hum [...]ty and fear of the Lord, first to be made a fool, that af­terwards he may be made wise unto everlasting life.

Oh! learn to be sober! come out of this drunken fury, and consider things mildly and seriously. Do not make a great out-cry of ordinances, ordinances! the means, the means! that is, keeping up strict to church orders, rules, and disciplines. This is the voice of the clamorous woman, who with her loud noise would fain keep you from listening to the still voice of true wisdom, which cannot be heard in

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[Page 67]

A WARNING, in the Bonds of Love, to the Rulers, Teachers, and People of this Nation, con­cerning their Church and Ministry.

THAT there was a fight between the dragon and his angels, and Michael and his angels, concerning the new-testament church and ministry, is manifest even from the letter of the scriptures, Rev. xii.

That the dragon and his angels, though they could not get the better, as relating to the power, yet they did get the better as relating to the form, insomuch as that they overcame the third part of the true ministers, and drew them from their standing in the firmament of God's power, off to their earth­ly ministry; and that the true church herself also was fain to fly into the wilderness, from the face of the dragon, for her safety and preservation, where she was to be nourished and fed by God, all the time of Antichrist's reign; this likewise is not only re­vealed in the spirit, but is also manifest from the letter, Rev. xii.

That after this flight of the true church, and overcoming of the true ministry, the dragon erected his false church and ministry, which had but at best the form without the power, over all nations, peo­ples, multitudes and tongues; this is also as evident, to them that read the prophecies of the revelations, in the light of that spirit in which they were wrote. Is not the false woman, after the true woman was fled, manifestly described, Rev. xvii. which hath a bewitch­ing of fornications? ver. 2, 4. Mark she has not the true cup of, her cup is not filled with the wine of the kingdom, it is not the cup of the true spouse, who keeps chaste and loyal to her husband, but the cup of fornication, wherein is a form of doctrine▪ [Page 68] and discipline, and order, and church government, which leads from the life, which bewitches from the power, which lulls asleep in a form of profes­sion and worship of Christ, without knowledge of, guidance by, and subjection to his spirit. And this is the government, ministry, and way of Antichrist, wherever it is found; how curiously soever the cup be gilded, yet it is but the cup of fornication, which bewitcheth the heart with its golden appearance, and then leads it into adultery from the life.

And the dragon doth not only set up a false church over the nations, in many parts whereof the truth had before appeared, Rev. xvii. 15, but a false ministry also.

There is a false prophet, which deceiveth with miracles and false appearances of truth, advanced in this corrupt state; which false prophet continues and upholds his deceit over the nations, till the mighty appearance of Christ, in spirit and power, doth judge him, Rev. xix. 20, 2 Thess. ii. 8. There is a beast, with horns like a lamb, who doth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth, in the sight of men, and de­ceiveth them that dwell on the earth, &c. Rev. xiii. 13, 14. Insomuch that he draws the kings and inhabiters of the earth, in a mystery of deceit, into the bed of whoredom and false worship, instead of the pure way of life, and pure worship of the living God, in his spirit, and in his truth, Rev. xvii. 2.

Is it not further manifest, that this false church and false ministry, set up in the world by the power of the dragon, persecuted God's witnesses to the truth in all the ages of Antichrist's reign? So soon as the church was fled into the wilderness, the dragon forthwith went to make war with the rem­nant [Page 69] of her seed which keep the commandments of God, and had the testimony of Jesus Christ, Rev. xii. 17. And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them, and power was given him over all kindreds, tongues and nations. And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life, of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world; if any man have an ear, let him hear, Rev. xiii. 7, 8, 9. And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. And he causeth all both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their forehead; and that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name, Rev. xiii. 15, 16, 17. Yea, the woman, the false church, which the dragon had set up, by his power in the nations, in­stead of the true, was drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus, Rev. xvii. 6. Oh! the misery, and lamentable hard usage of the witnesses of Jesus, who have been true lambs born of the power, faithful to the power, witnessing against every form and appearance of re­ligion, doctrine, and worship, which hath appeared without the power, even in the days of greatest pro­fession and highest devotion under the apostasy from the power; how have these been reviled, and persecut­ed, and devoured, by the wolves in the sheep cloath­ing, who had got the outside, the garment, the name of Christ and Christianity, the profession of church, ministry, and ordinances, but have wanted the life, the virtue, the thing itself; and so have turned against [Page 70] it, and kept it down, that they might keep up their form! O! ye professors, consider, hath it not been so in all former ages, and is it not so in this present age? For let but the spirit and power appear, the form with­out the power is soon detected to be what it is. And this properly Antichrist, and Antichristianism, viz. not openly to appear in a direct denial of Christ, his truths, and worship, but to set a way of know­ledge and worship without his spirit. Another spirit creeping into the form, that is Antichrist, and the setting up observation and practice of the form out of the life and power, that is Antichristianism, and this is the persecutor, destroyer, and devourer, about reli­gion.

Now though the Lord hath suffered this false church and false prophet to reign long in the dragon's power, and to revile and persecute his poor lambs, in every age of Antichrist's reign; yet the Lord hath appoint­ed a season to judge this false church, Rev. xvii. 1, to cast the false prophet into the lake, Rev. xix. 20. Yea, and to torment with fire and brimstone all the false worshippers, Rev. xiv. 9, 10, 11.

Oh! how deeply doth it concern this land! her rulers, her teachers, yea the whole people thereof, to consider their ways, to consider their worship, to consider their church-state, to consider their ministry, that they be not overwhelmed at unawares in the bit­ter wrath of the Almighty, before which there is no standing? Oh! that they could mourn, and pray, and wait for the eye of God's spirit; for his pure light, which searcheth and discovereth all the deceits of An­tichrist; that they might not be bewitched, with any of the wine of the fornication of the false woman, whose heart is snares and nets, and her hands as bands, to entangle her lovers in, and keep them from the [Page 71] pure bed of life, where the father of life, with the son and spirit, are enjoyed and worshipped.

If men consult concerning these things in the wis­dom of the flesh, they will be entangled, and err; for that eye cannot see the mysteries of the kingdom, or the course either of truth or deceit. The gospel, the eternal truth, the true church, the true ministry, are all spiritual, not new shadows, as the things under the ministration of the law were, but the spirit and substance, and they can only be seen by the spiritual eye of the children of wisdom. The wise and diligent enquirers into the comprehending part, cannot find the womb or the way of life, or the way of the wor­ship of that which is begotten in the life, or God's way of ministry, which he hath appointed for the feeding and preserving of the life. The prophets of old could not be known, discerned, or owned, by the fleshly eye of observation in Israel after the flesh, but they still rejected them, esteeming and magnify­ing the false prophets above them; how much less can the prophets and ministers of the new-testament be seen by man's eye? Are they the prophets and ministers of Christ, which a nation cries up for such, and which the eye of wise men therein admires, and pitches upon? Or, are those they which the renewed eye, in the light of the Lord, sees to be fitted, sancti­fied, and called forth by Christ unto that service? Ah! poor inhabitants of this land! must ye fall into the pit before your eyes be opened!

The great controversy of this age is about church and ministry, which must carry it, the form or the power? Whether the church and ministry shall take place which was before the apostasy, or that which has sprung up, as a root out of a dry ground, in the apostasy? Whether man's wisdom shall deter­mine [Page 72] which is the true church and its true ministry, or whether the spirit of God shall determine it? Whether a nation, with the ministers it sets up, shall be the church and ministry, or whether God's holy nation, which he calleth and sanctifieth by his spirit, and the ministers which he chuseth and send­eth to gather and build up in the holy faith, and pure power of life, shall be the church and ministry? Our eyes wait on the Lord, to see this controversy determined, and our hope of help is in his arm; nor are we at all afrighted at the rising of any strength against us, our hearts being given up to God's truth, and to suffer for its testimony, according to God's will, meekly and patiently in his strength; but we pity this poor land, yea, in the bonds of love we pity the rulers, the teachers, and people therein. Oh! that they might be humbled, and in fear of the great God surrender to him his due, before he ap­pear in his strength to force it from them.

An ADVERTISEMENT to the Powers and People of this Nation.

BECAUSE of my dear love to my native country, and because of the dregs of that cup which the Lord hath already caused it to drink of, which cannot be spared unless the Lord's will be effected without it, which dregs are so bitter, terrible and dreadful, as will make the stoutest hearts to faint, and the most confident countenance wax pale: I say for this cause, in love am I constrained to add these few lines,—that if it be possible this nation may ap­ply itself, in the fear and dread of the eternal ma­jesty and power, to make its peace with him against whom it hath long warred, not only by much out­ward wickedness, looseness, vanity, and profaneness, [Page 73] but more especially by setting up an invented form of godliness, and persecuting the power, and to whom it is not yet reconciled in this matter, nor found so much as willing to be reconciled.

The Lord God of heaven and earth, of glory, of majesty, of everlasting power, victory and domi­nion over all, who made both heaven and earth, and hath the command of all things therein, he disposeth of nations, of governments, of earthly powers, ac­cording to his pleasure, and who may say unto him, what doest thou? Who may implead him for making a rich nation poor? A strong nation weak? Or for bringing down the high and mighty, the strong, stout, honorable, and noble in a nation, and exalting the poor, the mean, the persecuted? And if he turn his hand again, and lay them flat whom he had lifted up, and exalt the other even un­looked for, who can withstand him, or who can con­tradict him? Now what is in the Lord's heart, who is thus mighty and absolute, he will certainly bring to pass, how unlikely, how contrary, how impossible soever it seem to the eye of man; if he will exalt his despised truth, which always was so to the eye of the great and wise ones of this world, or give his peo­ple liberty to fear, worship and obey him; if he will have truth and righteousness have the dominion in men's hearts, and in the nations, and not in the wills and lusts of men, how great and powerful soever; I say, if this be his intent, though generation should rise up after generation to oppose him herein, yet will he be too hard for them all, and they will all fall be­fore him; and his truth, his people, his holy eternal counsel, will he raise up, and cause to triumph over them all.

[Page 74]It is man's way to settle himself by outward strength against outward strength, and then he thinks he is safe; not eyeing the invisible hand which turns the wheels, and delights to overturn that which is out­wardly strong, and seemeth unremoveable, when it forgetteth him, and opposeth itself against him. The Lord God loves to take his enemies at the strongest, when they are most wise, most mighty, even when nothing seems able to deal with them but himself. This was it overthrew the foregoing powers one after another; they were courting worldly interest, and strengthening themselves that way; but over­looked God who raised them, and the work which he had raised them to accomplish. This turned the head against them which had been for them; and how then could they maintain their standing?

Oh! that the present generation could see the ticklishness of their standing, and consider that this is their day of trial, and that the Lord's eye is upon them, to observe their ways, to see whether they will now mind righteousness and the liberty of his people, better than formerly they did; and that his truth may in its life and power, and not in such a form or way of worship as they may think good to prescribe, have its scope in the nation. The Lord's eye and heart are upon his truth and upon his people; and as nations or powers deal with that, so will he deal with them. Oh! therefore be not deceived; for though the Lord hath oftentimes long suffered his people to lie under reproach and persecution, as he did Israel in Egypt for divers ages, yet at length he hath still heard their groans, and hath arisen to de­liver: And though Pharaoh afterwards with all his strength went after them, and made no question but [Page 75] to bring them back again under his subjection, and there was nothing in appearance able to deliver them from him, yet he could not, but overthrew himself and his strength utterly. Ye know not what strong cries and tears were put up to the Lord be­fore these late changes; that righteousness might be established in the nation, and that his people might have liberty to worship him in his fear, and ac­cording to the leadings of his spirit, without being yoked under any form of worship which their hearts could not own to be of God.

Let not therefore my true love to the nation, and to the present powers thereof, be despised by them; but let them fear before the mighty God of heaven and earth, and in their hearts bow to him, that they may be humbled, and made fit instru­ments in his hand for his service, and not be found enemies against him. If they will be fit instruments for God to work by, they must be meek, lowly, poor in spirit, waiting in God's fear for his counsel, and not hearken to the fleshly wisdom of man, which is his utter enemy, and will persuade, advise, and instruct them to settle the nation and church, as they call it, in a way contrary to him. And re­member this word: Be sure you smite none for obedience to God. Limit not his holy spirit in his people; but limit the unclean and evil spirit in those who manifest themselves not to be his people. This is the true intent of government. How can he who governs aright under God, hurt that which is of God, and for God? Or how can he spare that which his sword is given him to cut down? Oh! how happy were it for the nation if they would let truth have its scope, and let righteousness overcome them! and not contend for shadows against the substance; [Page 76] but let the substance overcome all those shadows which have held it in bondage, and upheld its enemy.

The great enemy of God, all this night of the apostasy, hath been Antichrist; who hath not been an open enemy only, but hath appeared as if he had been for Christ, commanding the worshipping and honoring of Christ, yea, and with a great zeal taking upon him to cause people to worship ac­cording to what he determined to be right: And thus he getteth into the temple, erecting an usurping authority over the conscience, setting up and com­pelling to an invented worship.

Against this kind of worship God hath still been raising witnesses: But he having the powers of the earth on his side, as was prophesied he should, Rev. xvii. 13, hath often prevailed over them, Rev. xiii. 7. And so the truth hath been suppressed, and false worships set up by the powers of the earth, ac­cording to the proportion they have drank of the golden cup of fornication; which doth not only deceive in one way of manifest and gross false wor­ship, but hath many mixtures and mysteries of deceit in it, Rev. xvii. 2, &c.

Now God hath a time to call for an account of the sufferings and blood of his saints, Rev. vi. 10, 11. He hath a time to judge the great whore, Rev. xvii. 1. And when the time of God's judgment comes upon the earth, God begins with his own house first, and so with that which hath taken upon it to separate from Babylon, to see what he can find of Babylon therein, and he will judge that before he fall upon the great body of the mystery of iniquity, 1 Pet. iv. 17, Heb. x. 30.

[Page 77]Now therefore it behoves this nation to consider what of Babylon may be found in fit, and to part with it, that it may escape the plagues of Babylon; Rev. xviii. 4, which are very bitter, as ver. 7, 8, &c. These are the two main things whereof Babylon is guilty:

1. An invented form of worship, a likeness of the true worship; but not the true worship itself.

2. A persecuting, and endeavouring to suppress the power of the truth, even of the purity of the godly religion and worship, by means of this form, because, for conscience sake, men who are taught otherwise by the spirit of God, cannot submit and subject thereto.

This God is coming down to plead with in that great city Babylon; and this God will first plead within thee. O New-England! consider what of this is yet remaining in thee, or what of this thy heart hankers after, and part with it, as thou lovest thy peace. The Lord is the witness of the integrity and fidelity of my heart to thee in these lines. It will be hard for thee to escape the Lord's hand▪ yet it is not impossible. If thou bow before the mighty God, and lie abased at his feet, he can open that eye in thee which can let thee see thy danger, and also the way how to escape it.

An ANSWER to that common Objection against the UNITED FRIENDS, that they condemn all but themselves.

Objection.

IT is commonly objected against us, that we condemn all but ourselves; all the churches, martyrs and worthies, formerly, divers of whom sealed their testimony with their blood, and all sorts [Page 78] of Christians and professors at present, who are not just of our stamp and way, though otherwise ever so zealous.

Answer. The churches, the blessed martyrs, who suffered for the testimony of a pure conscience towards God, and all the worthies of the Lord in their seve­ral generations, who fought against the false church and spirit, were accepted of God in their testimony against her, and are not disowned by us, but dearly owned and honored therein; and for agreeing with them in their testimony in several things. And for testifying against the hypocrisies and corruptions of our age, do we suffer in this our day even as they did in their day, from the same spirit that persecuted them; which, though it hath much changed its form and way of appearance, yet still retaineth the same nature.

But all things were not discovered at once. The times were then dark, and the light small; yet they being faithful according to what was discovered, were precious in the Lord's eyes; and what through ig­norance they erred in, the Lord winked at and over­looked, being pleased with that sincerity and simpli­city of heart which he had stirred up in them to­wards himself. But if they were now alive in these our days, and should depart from the sincerity which was then in them, and oppose the light and appearance of the spirit in this age, they would not then be accept­ed of the Lord, but their former sincerity would be for­gotten. For the light shineth more and more to­wards the perfect day: And it is not the owning of the light as it shone in the foregoing ages, which will now commend any man to God; but the knowing and subjecting to the light of the present age. Even as in these our days that are past, there was, some [Page 79] years ago, an honest zeal and true simplicity stirring in some churches, especially among the Quakers, which was of the Lord, and was very dear to him; and had the generations of this age abode there, they would have been able to have followed the Lord in every further step and leading of his spirit▪ But de­parting from that into some form or other, the true simplicity withered, and another thing began to live in them; and so they settled upon their lees, mag­nifying the form they had chose to themselves, till at length their hearts became hardened from the pure fear, even to the contracting of a spirit of prophane­ness, insomuch as they could mock at the next re­move and discovery of the spirit as some new light: And so by degrees have grown, and are growing, persecutors of that spirit in its appearance to the peo­ple of the Lord, which they themselves had once some taste of, while they were reproached and perse­cuted for Quakers. And the god of this world, who at first tempted them aside into the form, hath at length prevailed so far to blind them therewith, that they can neither see what spirit they themselves are of, nor what it is they are endeavouring to persecute.

Let therefore people consider the truth of the thing, as it is before the Lord: We do not cast dirt upon any in whom the truth of God hath stirred and appeared in any measure in former ages, or in this our age; but this we testify against, viz. the setting up of any form without the life: For it is the erring spirit that still crieth up the form, to keep down the power by the form, and so by the help of it to be­witch from the spirit wherein is the life, and not in the form. This was the painted Jezabel of the apostles age; false teachers finely dressed up them­selves with the form of godliness, and then under [Page 80] this cover they could deny the power, and make head against it, 2 Tim. iii. 5. How easy is it for them to appear in the forms of doctrines of the gos­pel, in the form of zeal, in the form of holiness, to pass in a nation for the true church; and then to asperse them for heretics, who, appearing in the power, cannot but deny that form which is without the power▪ This is the great witch of this age, even that spirit of zeal and devotion which is best cloathed and decked with the form without the power, which though men, who judge of the things of God after the flesh, justify, admire, and much contend for, in her several shapes and dresses, some being for one, some for another, yet the Lord is searching after her, and will find her out with his eternal flames, which will make her manifest, and all her lovers shall dread her burning and bed of torment. Now as all along the apostasy this bewitching spirit, this spirit which bewitcheth from the power, hath crept up under a form of church worship and holiness; so the other spirit, the pure spirit of life, the spirit of true zeal and fear of the Lord, hath still appeared more and more out of the forms; who were the best preachers and most eminent Christians, of the first rise of the professors of this age, were they not those who least minded the form then, nay, indeed, who were most against the form, and persecuted, for their conscientious testifying against it? And who were the greatest persecutors then, but they who were the most zealous for the form, both of the government and worship of the church of England? And where is the persecuting spirit next to be looked for but in the forms which should next appear? And where like­wise is the appearance of the true spirit next to be looked for, but in those whom the Lord should raise [Page 81] up to testify against those forms, and to be the suc­ceeding sufferers for their testimony, as many of the professors of this age have been foregoing sufferers for their testimony. Yet if there be any persons left, among any of the forms which have appeared, whe­ther former or latter, that have not lost their sincerity and true zeal towards God, them we own and have unity with, so far as they keep, or rather are kept, thereto. If there be any among the Episcopal sort that in truth of heart desire to fear the Lord, and look upon the common prayer-book as an acceptable way of worshipping him, we pity their blindness, yet are tender towards them, and would not have the simplicity persecuted in them because of this, but rather cherished. If there be any among the Presby­terians, Independents, Anabaptists, Quakers, or any other sort, that in truth of heart wait upon the Lord in those ways, and do not find a deadness overgrown them, but a pure, fresh, lively zeal towards God, with an unfeigned love to his people, our hearts are one with this; and we cannot fight against this good thing in any of them, though in love to them we testify, that their form and way of worship is their present loss and hindrance; yet we doubt not but that the Lord, in his time, will make manifest to such the light of this age, which is the very thing the people of God, in many foregoing ages, have been praying for. But this is our lamentation, that forms and ways of worship abound; but the pure principle, the pure spirit, is lost and drowned in them all; and that men are hardened against our testimony, not from the remainders of the simplicity in them, but because they are erred from the simplicity, and fallen in league with another spirit, which hath lain lurking in forms of knowledge and worships, to tempt aside [Page 82] from the simplicity, and to hide the sight of the life and power from the panting soul, all this night of the apostasy.

Now mark how easy and natural it is to that spirit to enter into a form, to cry up a form, to set up a form in a nation, city, or country; doubtless it had been done in this nation long ago, had not the mighty hand of the Lord withstood it. When the evil and unclean spirit is detected and driven out of one form, if it doth not suddenly get another to ap­pear in, and tempt with, it must needs lose many of its subjects. The strumpet, or false church, is forced, as God discovers her nakedness and lewdness, to change her dresses and appearances, to new trick and adorn her bed; and then, as if she also were changed, and were now no longer the same, she comes forth again with boldness, and tempteth the young man again to come in to her, Prov. vii. 16. And thus she casteth down many wounded; yea, many strong men have been slain by her, ver. 26, who otherwise would have pondered the path of life, chap. v. vi. had they not been ensnared by her flatteries, who for­saketh the guide of her youth, and forgetteth the covenant of her God, chap. ii. 17. There is no more certain and ready way to suppress truth, and to betray the honesty which is singly searching after it, than to present a form of godliness or worship, as the proper way of meeting with it: For hereby the soul is lulled asleep with a false hope, until the freshness of its desire begins to die, and its life to wither; and then the fleshly part easily grows into unity with, and zeal for, that form which indeed is of the flesh; though it appeared and tempted as if it had been otherwise. And how many have gone a great way towards hell, and have been deeply entangled and [Page 83] distressed in the chambers of death, by entering into this strumpet's church or house, which they then, through the subtilty of her deceit, took for the house or church of God? Prov. vii. 27. Consider the thing a little seriously. When the evil spirit is driven out of his strong hold of gross Popery, whither should he run but into Episcopacy? When he is driven out of Episcopacy, whither should he run but into Presbytery? When he is driven out of Presbytery, whither should he run but into Indepen­dency? When he is driven out of Independency, whither should he run but into Anabaptism? When he is driven out of Anabaptism, whither should he run but into Quakerism? And what is his end of running into Episcopacy, but to save alive that spirit which was hunted of Popery, and could abide no longer there, and so the better, and the safer from being discerned, to reproach and persecute the other spirit, wherever it appeared, under the nick-names of the several sorts and sects of professors? &c. And what is his end afterwards of running into Presbte­ry, but to save that alive which is hunted out of Episcopacy, and to persecute the former truly zeal­ous spirit, where it should further appear after­wards, by means of that form? Thus the forms and appearances of things change; but the fight is still the same, the evil spirit still getting uppermost, under a form of godliness, and from thence shoot­ing forth its arrows at those who seek after purity of heart, and cannot but testify against those forms where the impure one lodgeth.

This then is the sum of our answer in this respect; we are not against the true life and power of godli­ness, wherever it hath appeared, or yet appears, under the veil of any form whatsoever. Nay, all [Page 84] persons who singly wait upon the Lord in the sim­plicity and sincerity of their hearts, whether under any form, or out of forms, that matters little to us, are very dear unto us in the Lord. But we are against all forms, images, imitations, and appearances, which betray the simplicity and sincerity of the heart, keep the life in bondage, and endanger the loss of the soul. And too many such now there are, which hold the immortal seed of life in captivity under death, over which we cannot but mourn, and wait for its break­ing off the chains, and its rising out of all its graves into its own pure life, power, and fulness of liberty in the Lord.

An EXHORTATION to the UNITED FRIENDS, every where scattered abroad.

GRACE and peace be multiplied among you, my dearly and much beloved friends, you that have received a blessing from God the heavenly Father in Christ Jesus, the Lord of Glory, who by his unspeakable love, and his unchangeable light, hath drawn you off from the imaginary worships, and brought you in measure to know him who was from the beginning. Dear friends, keep in the light by which ye are enlightened, and in the know­ledge of God which every one hath received for himself; watching against the seducings of Satan, that your eyes may be kept open, lest deceit should prevail in any of you, by which truth might lose its splendor, and the brightness of the Lord become darkened.

I write these things to you in true love, and though but young, yet as one that has a desire for your ever well-being. For the Lord knows how often ye are in my remembrance, desiring for you, that ye may not only know the truth, but that ye may be found [Page 85] to be living witnesses of it; labour therefore for it, my friends, that so, when the Lord comes, and calls to an account, every one may be found faithful ac­cording to what he hath received: For this is the talent which the Lord hath given, viz. the knowledge of him, who is the only true and living God, and the messenger whom he hath sent.

And I am the more constrained at this time to write to you, because I trust the Lord hath given me some sight of his great and dreadful day, and work­ings in it, which is in hand, and greatly hastens, of which I have something to say unto you, that ye may be prepared to stand in his day, and may behold his wonderous working among his enemies, and have fellowship with his power therein, and may not be dismayed or driven away in the tempest, which will be great.

And as concerning those succeeding times, the spirit of the Lord hath signified, that they will be times of horror and amazement, to all that have and yet do reject his counsel: For as the days of his compassion, forbearance, warnings, and invitings, have been long, so shall his appearance amongst those that have with­stood him be fierce and terrible, as who shall abide his coming, for the Lord will work both secretly and openly, and his arm shall be manifest to his children in both.

Secretly he shall raise up a continual fretting, anguish and vexation among his enemies, one against another, so that being vexed and tormented inwardly, they shall seek to make each other miserable, and de­light therein for a little season; and then the prevailer must be prevailed over, and the digger of the pit must fall therein; and the confidence that men have had one in another shall fail, and they will beguile [Page 86] and betray one another, both by counsel and strength; and as they have banded themselves to break you, whom God hath gathered, so sshall they band them­selves one against another, to break, to spoil and de­stroy one another; and through the multitude of their treacheries, all credit or belief, upon account of their solemn engagement, shall fail; so that few men shall count themselves, or what is theirs, safe in the hand of his friend, who hath not chosen his safety and friendship in the pure light of the unchangeable truth of God; and all the secret counsels of the ungodly shall be brought to nought, sometimes by the means of some of themselves, and sometimes by impossibi­lities lying in their way, which shall make their hearts fail of ever accomplishing what they have determined; and in this state shall men fret themselves for a season, and shall not be able to see the hand that turns against them, but shall turn to fight against one thing, and another, and a third thing, and shall stagger, and reel, and be confounded in council and judgment, as drunken men that know not where to find the way to rest; and when they do yet stir themselves up against the holy people, and against the holy cove­nant of light, and them that walk in it, they shall but the more be confounded; for they that truly follow the leader of Israel shall be helped with a little help, which all the ungodly shall not hinder them of, viz. the secret arm of the Lord, maintaining their cause, and raising up a witness in the very hearts of their ad­versaries to plead their innocency, and this shall make them yet the more to vex themselves, for when they shall look to their religion, to their power, policy or preferments, or friendships, or whatsoever else they had trusted in, and relied upon, they shall have cause to curse it; and when they look downwards to the effects [Page 87] produced by all those things, behold then trouble, and horror, and vexation take hold on them, and drive them to darkness; and having no help but what is earthly, and being out of the knowledge of the mighty overturning power of the Lord God Almighty, they shall despair and wear out their days with anguish; and besides all this, the terrible hand of the Lord is and shall be openly manifested against this ungodly generation, by bringing grievous and terrible judg­ments and plagues upon them, bringing down all things in which their pride and glory stood, and over­turning even the foundations of their strength, yea, the Lord will lay waste the mountain of the ungodly, and the strength of the fenced city shall fail; and when men shall say, we will take refuge in them, they shall become but a snare, and there shall the sword devour: And when they shall say, we will go into the field, and put trust in the number and courage of our soldiers, they shall both be taken away; and this evil also will come of the Lord, and his hand will be stretched out still, and shall bring confusion, ruin upon ruin, and war upon war; and the hearts of men shall be stirred in them, and the nations shall be as waters, into which a tempest, a swift whirlwind is en­tered, and even as waves swell up to the dissolution one of another, and breaking one of another, so shall the commotions and swellings of people be; and be­cause of the hardships and sorrows of those days many shall seek and desire death, rather than life.

Alas! my heart relents, and is moved within me, under a sense of these things, and much more than I can write or declare, which the Lord will do in the earth, and will also make haste to accomplish among the sons of men, that they may know and confess, that the Most High doth rule in the kingdoms of [Page 88] men, and pulleth down and setteth up according to his own will; and this shall men do before seven times pass over them, and shall be content to give their glory unto him that sits in heaven.

But, Oh friends! while all these things are work­ing and bringing to pass, repose ye yourselves in the munition of that rock that is immoveable, that all these troubles, tempests and shakings, shall not be able to move, even in the knowledge and feeling of the eternal power of God, keeping you subjectly given up to his heavenly will, and feel it daily to kill and mortify that which remains in any of you, which is of this world, for the worldly part in any, is the changeable part, and that is up and down, full and empty, joyful and sorrowful, as things go well or ill in the world: For as the truth is but one, and many are made partakers of its spirit, so the world is but one, and many are partakers of the spirit of it; and so many as do partake of it, so many will be straitened and perplexed with it; but they who are single to the light and manifestation of grace in them, waiting daily to feel the life and virtue of it in their hearts, these shall rejoice in the midst of adversity; these shall not have their hearts moved with fear, nor tossed with anguish, because of evil tidings, because that which fixeth them remains with them: These shall know their entrance with the bridegroom, and so be kept from sorrow, though his coming be sud­denly as a thief in the night, and when a midnight is come upon man's glory, yet they being ready and prepared, it will be well with them, and having a true sense of the power working in themselves, they cannot but have unity and fellowship with the works of it in the earth, and will not at all murmur against what is, nor wish nor will what is not to be; these will [Page 89] be at rest till the indignation passeth over, and these having no design to carry on, nor no party to promote in the earth, cannot possibly be defeated nor disappointed in their undertakings.

And when you see divisions, and parties, and rendings in the bowels of nations, and rumours and tempests in the minds of the people, then take heed of being moved to this party or to that party, or giving your strength to this or that, or couselling this or that way, but stand single to the truth of God, in which neither war, rent nor division, is; and take heed of that part in any of you, which trusts and relies upon any sort of the men of this world, in the day of their prosperity; for the same party will bring you to suffer with them in the time of their adversity, which will not be long after; for stability in that ground there will be none. But when they shall say, come join with us in this or that, remem­ber you are joined to the Lord by his pure spirit, to walk with him in peace and righteousness, and you feeling this, this gathers out of all commotions, and noises, and parties, and tumults, and leads you to exalt the standard of truth and righteousness, in an innocent and honest conversation, to see who will flow unto that; and this shall be a refuge for many of the weary, tossed and afflicted ones, in those days, and a shelter for many whose day is not yet over.

So, dearly beloved friends and brethren, who have believed and known the blessed appearance of the truth, let not your hearts be troubled at any of these things! Oh! let not the things that are at present, nor things that are yet to come, move you from stedfastness, but rather double your dili­gence, zeal and faithfulness, to the cause of God: [Page 90] For they that know the work wrought in themselves, they shall rest in the day of trouble, yea, though the fig-tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines, the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat, the flocks shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls; yet the faithful will rejoice in the Lord, and will joy in the God of their salvation, Hab. iii. 17, 18.

And how near these days are to this poor nation, few know, and therefore the cry of the Lord is very loud unto its inhabitants, by his messenger of peace whom he hath sent, that they would prize their time while they have it, lest they be overturned, wasted, and laid desolate, before they are aware; and before destruction come upon them, and there be no remedy, as it hath already been upon many.

Oh inhabitants! inhabitants! of the land of the English nation, that thou and thy rulers would have considered, and hearkened, and heard, in the day of thy warnings and invitations, and not have per­sisted in thy rebellion against the King of hea [...]en, till the Lord was moved against thee, to cut off the thousands and multitudes from thy streets, and the pressing and thronging of people from thy gates, and then to destroy and ruin thy cities and streets also, and lay desolate thy gates, when thou thought­est to have replenished them again.

And, Oh! saith my soul, that thy inhabitants would yet be warned, and persuaded to repent; and turn to the Lord, by putting away every one the evil that is in their hearts, against truth in themselves, and against those that walk in it, before a greater desolation and destruction overtake them.

[Page 91]Oh! what shall I say to prevail with the inhabi­tants of this land? Oh! hearken and hear, you that have ears to hear, but the uncircumcised in heart and ears cannot, what the Lord is about to do in the land. The Lord hath called aloud, he hath roared out of Sion unto them, but many of them have not hearkened at all, nor considered at all.

Well, Oh my friends, and thou my soul, return to the leader of Israel, and dwell in the pavilion of the house of your God, and my God, and shelter yourselves under the shadow of his wings, where ye shall be witnesses of his doings, and see his strange act brought to pass, and shall not be hurt therewith, nor dismayed.

Oh, my friends, in the bowels of dear and tender love, have I signified these things unto you, that ye might stand armed, with the whole armour of God, cloathed in righteousness, and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, and free­ly given up in all things to the disposing of the Lord, who will deliver us, not by might, nor by sword nor spear, but by his own eternal invisible arm will he yet save us and deliver us, and get himself a name by preserving us; and we shall yet live to praise him who is worthy of glory, of honor and renown, from the rising of the sun to the going down of the same; the great and terrible name of God is to be praised, both this time, henceforth and for evermore; ever­lasting praises are due unto God that is holy. Amen.

But if the wicked and ungodly will not hear, nor obey the gospel, by the messenger of peace whom God hath sent, God's curse and vengeance will come upon them, and his plagues will pursue them to de­struction, if they proceed in this work; and their wives shall be widows, and their children fatherless; [Page 92] the Lord hath spoken it. Methinks if they had the hearts of men or of flesh, they would be afraid, and blush at the very thoughts thereof. My heart and soul melt within me, and I am even bowed down, (with cries to God) in my spirit, to think of the hardness of their hearts.

And will the Lord God Almighty cut short thy work in righteousness, and shorten the days of op­pression and cruelty, for thine elect's sake, which crieth night and day unto thee, and make known thy name and power to the ends of the earth; and let the heathen hear and fear, and bow to thy righ­teous sceptre; and let the kings of the earth lay down their crowns at the feet of the lamb, that through thy righteous judgments they may partake of thy tender mercies, which endure for ever, that their eyes may be no longer withholden nor blinded by the god of this world, the power and prince of darkness. And will the Lord be pleased, for the sake of the dear Son of thy love, to open all blind eyes, and unstop all deaf ears, and take the dark veils from off all faces, that they may come to see thee who art invisi­ble, and enjoy the same precious life of pure unfeign­ed love, which abounds in the hearts of thy hidden ones, and receive thy peaceable wisdom, to be go­verned, and to govern them therein; then would they surely know the messenger of peace whom thou hast sent, and confess to thy glorious truth, and speak good of thy name, and magnify thy power, and no longer count the blood of thy everlasting covenant, wherewith we are sanctified, as an unholy thing.

But O thou righteous, holy, pure, eternal King, eternal Father, art unknown unto all them that sit in darkness, and dwell in the spirit of enmity against [Page 93] thee and thy people, though thou art come near to judgment, according to thy promise, Mal. iii. 5.

And thy way of life and salvation is hid from them, therefore they hate us without a cause, and thus evilly entreat us in the darkness of their minds, and in the ignorance and hardness of their hearts, for which my soul doth pity them, and even entreat thee for them, that if possible their eyes may be yet opened, with all those that the day of thy visitation is not over with, and that their hearts may be yet softened, and their spirit humbled, that they may see what they are doing in the dark, and consider the effect of their work, which will assuredly follow: And if thy warn­ings and gentle visitations will not humble them, then let thy judgments awaken them, and bring them down and humble them, that they may perceive something of what thou art doing, in these latter days, and art resolved to do to the ends of the earth, though the whole world should gather and band to­gether to oppose thy work and people; for thou hast begun, and thou will go through and perfect thy work; thou wilt raise thy seed, and gather thy chosen from the four winds, and bring them from the ends of the earth, and scatter the proud in the vain imagi­nations of their hearts; and thou wilt break thy way through all that oppose thee in this the day of thy mighty power, in which thou art arisen to finish trans­gression, and make an end of sin, and to bring in and establish everlasting righteousness, that the kingdoms of this world may become thy kingdom, and of thy Christ, as thou hast promised, and art now fulfilling: Glory, and honor, and thanks, and everlasting praises, be to thy glorious name, for thou art the Lord God of Israel, and blessed art thou; the Lord God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting, praises are due unto thee, holy God. Amen.

[Page 94]So, friends, ye are and have been warned again and again by the messenger of the Lord, in love to your souls, and you are left without excuse, if never words more should be mentioned unto you, by which ye might perceive how the Lord doth strive with you, that ye might repent, and be saved from the wrath to come, though many feel little of it in their consciences; but his spirit will not always strive with them, for if they will not believe the messenger whom God hath sent, but slight and reject the warnings and invitations, and neither make conscience of what hath proceeded out of their mouths, nor regard to perform their own words, and public engagements, in that which is just, which the Lord requireth of them, nor remember his by-past and present mercies and long-suffering towards them, but trample all under foot; I say if it be thus with them, and they are resolved to go on, they will wholly be given up, and be exceedingly hardened, and grow desperate in cruelty and oppression against God, and his truth and people, till the whole earth is filled with violence; and then, as true as God liveth, will the flood come upon them, and they shall fall after the manner of Egypt, and the weight of the dreadful judgments, due for all their abominations and cruelties, shall sink them down into the pit that is bottomless, and that suddenly, as the Lord hath spoken.

From your friend and brother in the communion and fel­lowship of the gospel of peace and purity, who is a lover of the welfare of all your souls.
Written in the month called August, 1779.
FINIS.

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