« AnteriorContinuar »
as the mind joined to deceit, is thereby defiled; so the mind joined to the cruth of God, is by its power and virtue purified.
Now having felt this, and being filled with the love and good-will of God to the souls of others, how can we but testify it to others, who stand in need of God's truch (and its cleansing property and virtue) as well as we; especially being thereunto moved and drawn by the Spirit of the Lord ?
Now when the Lord giveth forth the sound in its power and life, it many times pierceth deeply through the earthly veil, and reacheth to its own'; which (being reached to) answers to the testimony, saying, it is Truth. So here is a beginning of the work of God in that heart, the soul being touched with his truth, feeling it inwardly, and yielding in some measure to the overcoming virtue and power of it.
But then comes the fubtil one, whose design and labour is ta undermine and overturn the work of God in the soul; and he begets doubts, and jealousies, and questionings, both concerning us, and concerning the doctrine taught by us, to suggest into the mind, as if it were not (nor indeed could be) of God: and fo bringing the dispute and determination into another part than where truth got entrance, he easily sways the mind to determine against its own former feeling, and to turn from that work which was begun to be wrought in it by God, and from the worker also. And thus many poor hearts are entangled and carried back into captivity, who began to feel the stirrings of truth in their hearts (wherein is the power of redemption) which would have redeemed them as well as others, had they received it in the love of it, and became subject to it.
Oh! it is a precious thing to receive from God a spirit of difcerning, which gives ability to discern his Spirit from the spirit of deceit! yea, it is impossible to be preserved in the right Spirit and way, but as this is felt. For how can the Lord be received in all the motions and operations of his Spirit ? or how can the contrary spirit be turned from in all its subtil devices, twistings, and reasonings in the mind, unless there be a discerning (in the true light of the Lord) what is of the one and what of the other?
And ye that would not be deceived, sink deep beneath the thoughts, reasonings, and consultations of the earthly mind, that ye may meet with somewhat of the kingdom and power (which carries its own evidence and demonstration with it) and may be gathered into it, and find a sense, knowledge, and judgment there, which never was deceived nor can deceive. Know the elect of God, which the deceits pass over and cannot reach; for its nature and birth is beyond them. It came from the light of the Father. It lives in the light of the Father. It fees in that light; yea, there its judgment and understanding is, where deceiț never had power to enter. But he that considers as a man, fees as a man, judges as a man, concerning the things of God, by what he can gather out of the scriptures, or conclude from his own sense, knowledge, and experience, he may easily err; yea, indeed, he is in the way of error in so doing. For the pure religion, the pure knowledge, the right judgment, the living faith, begins in the power and demonstration of the Spirit ; and these are its limits, out of flesh, out of man, out of his will, out of his wifdom, out of the compass of his comprehension. And he that pafseth not these bounds, never meets with the life, power, and virtue of truth. · He may meet with a body of notions and formed knowledge, wherein he may tell of the fall of man, and restoration by Chrift, and very exactly, according to a literal description; but the life, the true knowledge, the powerful virtue is another thing, and is met with in another country, whither man cannot travel, but as he is stripped of himself, and new formed, made and brought forth in another.
Oh! therefore, ye that defire after the Lord (that would be his, that would feel him yours, that would know his truth in the life and power of it) wait for the demonstrations of his Spirit; learn to distinguish inwardly, between his teachings from his Spirit, and the teachings of another spiric from the letter. For it is so indeed: that other spirit would have taught Christ fo; and he will teach any else fo, that will hearken to him. Now he that is taught so, and follows fuch teachings, wanders from God, is not accepted with him, but follows that which leads from him, under a pretence and appearance of leading to him. And here hardness and deadness grow and increase, the soul being turned from that which is living, and alone able to give life.
Quest. But how may I do, who am weak and full of doubts and fears, to keep in the sense of truth, and to come to a certainty that I am not deceived therein ?
Answ. To thee, who puttest this question in the uprightness and fimplicity of thy heart, I have somewhat to say.
1. Mind how thou waft touched, mind how thou waft reached, observe what ear was opened in thee, and breathe to the Lord to keep that ear open in thee, and the other shut. For this I can assure thee in the cruch of God, that with that ear which the Lord opened to truth (which thou feltest his Spirit unlocking in thee, and letting in truth by) I say, with that ear thou shalt never be able to let in any thing afterwards contrary to truth. But if the enemy can open the other ear, that will hear his prejudices, his jealoufies, his doubts, his fears, his temptations, and let them in, to thrust out that which entered at the other ear. Now canst thou not distinguish, O poor foul (a little to help thee) between that which brought some fenfe of truth into thee, and that which riseth in thee against truth? Oh! fear before the Lord ! oh! watch, and pray, that when the tempter comes, thou enter not with him into the temptation, and so lose thy union and growth in that which is invaluable.
2. Keep thine eye and heart upon the preciousness of what thou feltest. Oh! remember, how fresh, how warm, how living it was; how it reached, how it overcame, how it melted. The remembrance of this (cleaved to in the
mind) will be a strength against the temptations and fubtil devices of the enemy.
3. Meddle not with the things that the enemy costs into thy mind. Consider not whether they be so or no. He that considers of a temptation (in many cases) hath let it in and is overcome already. When Eve did but hearken to wliat the Serpent said, how soon was the loft and gone? The enemy many times brings temptations beyond the state, capacity and ability of the soul, to determine. These things, at present, are too high for thee. Thou hait not yet received a proportion of life from God to determine them by; and if thou run beyond thy measure, and determine things in thy mind, which as yet are beyond thy reach, thou must needs run into the snare.
4. The present determining of these things, would not be of so great advantage to thee, as thou mayest apprebend. Why so ? Because the enemy hath many temptations and devices of the same kind (as well as of other kinds) which he would bring one after another. And when he brings a second, a third, &c. that which engaged thee to consider of the first, would engage thee also to consider of the rest. And if thou couldest find one answered, and not the other, that would appear to thee as so much the more weighty, and thou wouldst hardly be able to escape consenting to the tempter therein. Therefore the way is to keep out of him, in the upright sense of what the Lord wrought in thee; for so far he is with thee, and abiding there, thou art out of the enemy's reach. But being drawn by the enemy to consider of things that are out of thy reach, thou therein layelt thyself open to his Inares and betrayings.
5. Mind what was forbidden thee, or required of thee in that time, when thou feltest the warmth from God. For there is then an heavenly voice, and an heavenly vision most commonly in the heart, though the enemy turns the mind, as much as may be, from heeding it. There is then oftentimes fomewhat of the worldly nature and course discovered, or fomewhat of God's will made manifest; somewhat that thou dost (or hast done) which then thou feest to be not of the Father, but of the world, and somewhat perhaps of the Father, which thou knowelt thou oughtest to become subject to, but thou art afraid of the croís, or shame, or wouldst fain have some more clearness first. Oh! call this to mind afterwards; and if ever thou wouldīt receive life, and come into union with God's truth, and receive his Spirit and power, and be established therein ; become obedient to the heavenly vision! Consult not with feíh and blood, but enter into the obedience of that very thing, which was forbid or required, be it little or much. This is the right way, this is that thy mind should be exercised in. And if thy mind be exercised faithfully here, the Lord will strengthen thee against the tempter, when he comes with his temptations and subtil objections. But if thou falter here, and become unfaithful in the little, thou art not like to meet with more, no nor with the preservation of the Lord in that little. And indeed this is the cause of the miscarriage of
inany, because they received not that little which was made manifeft, in the love of it; but had pleasure in the unrighteousness, and so lingered in pleasing the spirit of the world, both in themselves, and others, when they were called by the Lord to quit it and travel out of it.
6. Wait for the renewings of life and sense in thee from God; wait for another visit, wait for another touch and demonstration of his Spirit. Where didst thou meet with it? Go thither again, wait there again, and look up to the Lord to stay thy spirit till he appear again.
But, oh! take heed, that before the light arise again, before the life ftir again, thou be not gone (by hearkening to temptations) into an incapacity of knowing or receiving it. For this is the way of the Lord, the experienced way: after him (after the touches of his truth) comes the tempter with his reasonings, deceits, likenesses, &C. Now the Lord is crying thee, how thy heart will stick to him: and if thou come off from the temptation, if thou stand clear of the enemy, the Lord will appear to thee again ; strengthen thee, comfort thee, open more to thee, lead thee further in the way of life, and nearer to the power and purity thereof: but if thou draw back from that, wherein the Lord began to work, the Lord's soul hath no pleasure to appear any further to thee, or work any further in thee.
And one thing I will tell thee. If thou let not in the enemy's temptations, but abide (under the clouds, under the storms, under the tempelts, under the confused reasonings, fears, doubts, and troubles) looking towards the Lord, waiting for him, and not making a league with the enemy against him in the mean time, the Lord will certainly appear; and when he doth appear, thou shalt find one of these two effects.
Either the power of the enemy's objections, or temptations, will be fo broken, as thou shalt not then heed them; or they will be so answered by the appearance and light of the Spirit of the Lord, as thou shalt be fatisfied about them. Now which of these is the better for thee, the Lord God knows, and that thou shalt be sure to receive from him in that hour ; neither will he leave thee, but secretly support thee in the mean time; thy eye and mind being towards him.
The light and power of the Lord, when it ariseth, scatters and breaks that into pieces in the mind, which was very powerful before; so as the soul doth not now so much as mind the considering or knowing of that, which the enemy liad made it believe was fo necessary for it to know. For mark; that which causeth me to grow, is the feeling of life, the sense of the Lord's presence and power with me, the living knowledge, the knowledge which quickens, and gives life. Now, when the life springs, when the light shines, when the Lord in the power and precious visitations of bis truth, reacheth to my heart, this is present with me. Then what matter I those objections and prejudices, which the enemy casts into my mind? Nay, I cannot heed them, being taken up with another thing of a deeper nature. Thus have I often found it by experience; all that troubled me,
and that I doubted of, vanishing in a moment; that being present with me, and prevailing in me, which puts an end to all thoughts, reasonings and disputes.
Again, it pleaseth the Lord at other times (when he seeth good) to open the mind, and let it into the fight of those things (it waiting upon him, and letting them alone his season) which of itself it could never have waded through. Thus also have I seen the objections, and stumbling-blocks concerning this precious people (who are of God, as the first fruits of his powerful visitation after the apoftafy); concerning their principle, way, . doctrine, practices, &c. opened unto me in the clear light of God, and in the holy demonstrations of his Spirit ; insomuch as I have manifestly seen, and been fully satisfied, that what was objected in my own heart, and is objected to in the hearts of others, hath been from the subtil accuser of the brethren, who beareth false witness against them, and would draw as many as he can to partake in his false testiniony, and so also to become false witnesses against God, his truth and people. Therefore beware, all ye that desire after the Lord, and would meer with the rest and satisfaction of your souls in him, how ye be prejudiced against that, whereby God worketh in others, and whereby he hath appointed to work in you, and all whom he worketh in. For he hath sent his Son to give life, and he will not give life by another. And he hath appointed his Son shall be received as a principle, as a feed of life, though as little as a grain of mustard-feed; yet thus must he be received; and in this his low appearance hath he the presence of God with him, and his power and authority; and what he, this little seed (though ever so little) requires, teaches, forbids, &c. must be observed. But there is none upon the earth can own or submit to this, but he that becomes a child also, yea, a very little child. Man's spirit, man's wisdom, man's knowledge, man's religion, man's zeal, &c. is too big to enter here. Men are too wise, too knowing, too rich from scriptures and experiences to submit to this; as the Scribes and Pharisees were to submit to Christ's appearance, doctrines, and preachings, when he appeared among them in that body of flesh. Therefore come into the true feeling, out of the dead knowledge into the living sense, where life, power, righteousness, yea, the peace and joy of the kingdom, is tasted of, and in some measure witnessed by those, who bow down in spirit before the least or lowest name or appearance of Jesus ; the lowest degree and measure of whose life is King and Lord over death for ever.