« AnteriorContinuar »
Christ for a sign of old; for that is not the temper of mind which this difpenfation is to answer, but rather to draw men out from thence into a principle, into the new life and Spirit itself; where fuller demonstrations (of a deeper nature) are given to the soul, than outward miracles are. Feel the power that is revealed, feel the life that is made manifest, let in the light of the day which shines; this will scatter the darkness from thee, and clear up the things of the day unto thee. The pure ministration of power, the pure ministration of life, the light of the everlasting day is come. Oh! wait the opening of the eye that sees it, and be conceived and brought forth in the womb of it.
Some further QUESTIONS answered, concern
ing the New COVENANT. Quest. 1. W H AT were those days, after which the New Covenant was to
l be made ? Answ. They were the days of the law and prophets, the days of the first covenant, the days of God's exercising and making trial of that outward people the Jews, by his outward and literal covenant. After the full expiring of those days, another covenant was to be made.
Quest. 2. What are the days wherein the new covenant is made ?
Answ. They are the days of Christ, the days of his power, the days of the ministration of his Spirit.
Quest. 3. What is the house of Israel and Judah, with which this new call nant is to be made? Is it the Israel and Judah according to the flesh? The Israel and Judah according to the old covenant ; or according to the new ?
Answ. When the old covenant is passed away, the consideration of Israel and Judah (after the flesh) passed away also; and the new covenant is fitted for, and made with, the new Israel and Judah ; so that, as the apostle faid, He is not (now, according to this covenant) a Jeze, that is one 01't ward; ner is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew, which is one inward, &c. The gospel breaks down the outward consideration between Jew and Gentile, and brings up another consideration in both; so that the promises and blessings are not to either in their old state, but as they are gathered into, and spring up in, the new seed.
Quest. 4. Is this covenant faultless? Doth it mend that which God found amiss in the other ? Doth it keep more firmly to bim than the other did? Is there no falling away from it?
Answ. Yes, it is faultless, it doth help the defects of the other. It doth keep more firmly to God. There is no falling away from it, by those with
whom whom it is fully made, and who are established in it. But in the passage and travel, chere is danger to the soul which is not faithful and watchful, left it be drawn from that which gives it right to, and entrance into, the covenant. For as the beginning is in the faith, and in the obedience; so is the continuance, growth, and progress. Thus the gospel was preached, He that believeth, and is baptized, ball be saved; which believing includes not only a beginning to believe, but a going on therein, and continuing to the end. For so is the promise and word of Christ, He that continueth to the end fhall be saved. But if any man draw back from the Lord, from his Spirit, and return into the way of death with the other spirit, the foul of the Lord will have no pleasure in him.
Object. But then this aljo is like the first covenant, depending upon the crea'ture, and is defe&tive as the other was.
Answ. No, this covenant doth not depend upon the creature : but upon God's love, mercy, and power, which hath no limits in this covenant, but may extend itself as far and as long as it pleaseth. It dependeth upon the principle of his life, upon the power of his Spirit freely dispensed to the creature; yet the creature that will reap and enjoy this, must come to it in the faith and power which is of the principle, and in the same must abide with it. For God forceth none to come, but draweth and maketh willing; neither doth he force any to stay, but persuadeth and maketh willing to stay. This is the manner of his working in the day of his power. But now, if the soul hearken to the other spirit, and his drawings, and depart from the Lord, and will not hearken and be won again, the love and pleasure of the Lord turns from it, even according to the law of this covenant. For there is a law of this covenant, according to the nature of it (according to which the Lord works) as well as there was in the other.
Now search ye the scriptures concerning this thing. Is there any promise of salvation, but upon coming to the Son; or to them that come, without abiding? Did not Christ rell his own disciples, that as they were in the vine, in his love, so they must abide there? It was the law his Father gave him, and the same law he giveth them. It is natural to man to backside; and in his backliding from that wherein is the life and virtue, how can he but miss of the life and virtue of it? Therefore, in this covenant, the Lord hath provided that which will heal the backslidings, which will work out all in man freely, which will powerfully preserve him, &c. But he must come to it (he must come to the Son, he muit come to the waters) and he must also abide there. Yet this is not required of him to do of himself neither, according to the law and course of the old covenant; but of him in the new ability, which is in the new principle of life, wherein he is daily to receive it : yea, it is with him, and near him; as near him to be daily drawing him into, and preserving him in life, and within the linits of the covenant, as the tempter is to be drawing him into sinning against the covenant, and so into death.
Quest. 4. What doth God promise to do for the new house of Israel and "Judab in this new covenant?
Answ. He promiseth to put his laws into their mind, and to write them in their hearts. (Oh! happy he that knoweth these laws, this mind, this heart, this manner of writing! He promiseth to be their God, and that they shall be his people. (This covenant is a powerful covenant; it will make so indeed!) Hé promiseth to become their teacher, and fuch a teacher as all shall know him, from the least to the greatest, even so as they shall not need to seek out abroad after the knowledge of him. (It is so where this covenant is made, even with the least with whoin it is compleated; but it is not so where it is only begun, or in some few degrees carried on). He promiseth to take away that which alone is able to hinder the good things of the covenant; for he will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their fins and iniquities will he remember no more. This also is witnessed according to the soul's growth in, and receiving into it the strength of the covenant. For many find sinning against the covenant, and the remembering of their iniquities in their passage ; yea, judgment doth continue in the refining time; till that be made to pass away thereby which the judg. ment is to; but in the covenant itself is reít, joy, peace, satisfaction, lite, and powerful redemption and righteousness for evermore.
Quest. 5. How is this covenant made, and how doth the foul enter into it, grow up in it, and reap and enjoy the sweet blefings and promises of it?
Answ. It is made in the faith and obedience of the soul to the gospel, to the power of the endless life. It is made according to the promise. The promise is to him that believes and obeys the gospel. There is no other way in it but union with Christ in the faith, from which flows obedience to the holy commands and requirings of his Spirit. All unbelief and disobe. dience is out of this holy blessed covenant. They are stops in the way, and hinder the soul both from entering into, and from abiding in, the covenant ; yea, the gates of hell may easily prevail against them who do not believe, obey, watch and pray, but enter into the temptations of the enemy, which draw into death, as the motions and requirings of the Spirit lead into life.
A brief Account concerning Silent Meetings ; the
Nature, Use, Intent, and Benefit of them.
T HIS is a great mystery, hid from the eye of man, who is run from
T the inward life into outward observations. He cannot see either that this is required by the Lord of his people, or any edification therein, or benefit thereby; but to the mind that is drawn inward the thing is plain ; and the building up hereby in the life of God, and fellowship one with
another another therein, is sweetly felt; and precious refreshment from the presence of the Lord received by them, who singly herein wait upon him according to the leadings and requirings of his Holy Spirit. Now to open the thing a little to the upright-hearted, if the Lord please.
After the mind is in some measure turned to the Lord, his quickenings felt, his seed beginning to arise and spring up in the heart, then the flesh is to be silent before him, and the soul to wait upon him (and for his further appearings) in chat measure of life which is already revealed. Now this is a great thing to know flesh filenced, to feel the reasoning thoughts and discourses of the Aeshly mind stilled, and the wisdom, light, and guidance of God's Spirit waited for. For man is to come into the poverty of felf, into the abafedness, into the nothingness, into the silence of his spirit before the Lord; into the putting off of all his knowledge, wisdom, understanding, abilities, all that he is, hath done, or can do, out of this measure of life, into which he is to travel, that he may be cloathed and filled with the nature, Spirit, and power of the Lord.
Now in this measure of life which is of Christ (and in which Christ is, and appears to the soul) there is the power of life and death; power to kill to the flesh, and power to quicken to God; power to cause the soul to cease from its own workings, and power to work in and for the foul what God requires, and what is acceptable in his fight. And in this God is to be waited upon and worshipped continually (both in private and in publick) according as his Spirit draws and teaches. · For the Lord requirech of his people not only to worship him apart, but to meet together to worship him, in the seasons, and according to the drawings, of his Spirit : and they that are taught of him, dare not forsake the assembling of themselves together, as the manner of someis; but watch against the temptations and fnares, which the enemy lays to deceive them therefrom, and to disturb their senfe by, that they might not feel the drawings of the Father thereunto.
And this is the manner of their worsbip. They are to wait upon the Lord, to meet in the filence of flesh, and to watch for the stirrings of his life, and the breakings forth of his power amongst them. And in the breakings forth of that power they may pray, speak, exhort, rebuke, fing, or mourn, &c. according as the Spirit teaches, requires, and gives utterance. But if the Spirit do not require to speak, and give to utter, then every one is to sit still, in his place in his heavenly place I mean) feeling his own measure, feeding, thereupon, receiving therefrom into his spirit) what the Lord giveth, Now in this is edifying, pure edifying, precious edifying; his soul who thus waits, is hereby particularly edified by the Spirit of the Lord at every meeting. And then also there is the life of the whole felt in every vestel that is turned to its measure; infomuch as the warmth of life in each vessel doth not only warmthe particular, but they are like an heap of fresh and living coals, warming one another, insomuch as a great strength, freshness, and vigour of life flows into all. And if any be burthened, tempted, buffetted by Satan, bowed down, overVOL. II.
borne, languishing, afflicted, distressed, &c. the estate of such is felt in Spiri
and secret cries, or open (as the Lord pleaseth) ascend up to the Lord for them, · and they many times find ease and relief, in a few words spoken, or without words, if it be the season of their help and relief with the Lord.
For abfolutely silent meetings (wherein there is a resolution not to speak) we know not ; but we wait on the Lord, either to feel him in words, or in silence of spirit without words, as he pleaseth. And that which we aim at, and are instructed to by the Spirit of the Lordas to silent meetings, is that the fesh inevery one be kept silent, and that there be no building up, but in the Spirit and power of the Lord.
Now there are several states of people; some feel little of the Lord's presence; but feel temptations and thoughts, with many wanderings and rovings of mind. These are not yet acquainted with the power, or at least know not its dominion, but rather feel dominion of the evil over the good in them. And this is a fore travailing and mournful state, and meetings to such as these (many times) may seem to themselves rather for the worse than for the better. Yet even these, turning, as much as may be, from such things, and cleaving (or at least in truth of heart defiring to cleave) to that which disliketh or witnesseth against them, have acceptance with the Lord herein: and continuing to wait in this trouble and distress (keeping close to meetings, in fear and subjection to the Lord who requireth it, tho'with little appearing benefit), do reap an hidden benefit at prefent, and shall reap a more clear and manifest benefit afterwards, as the Lord wasteth and weareth out that in them, wherein the darkness hach its strength. Now to evidence that the Lord doth require these filent meetings, or meetings after this manner silent, it may thus appear.
God is to be worshipped in spirit, in his own power and life, and this is at his own dispose. His church is a gathering in the Spirit. If any man speak there, he must speak as the oracle of God, as the vessel out of which God speaks; as the trumpet out of which he gives the found. Therefore there is to be a waiting in silence, till the Spirit of the Lord move to speak, and also give words to speak. For a man is not to speak his own words, or in his own wisdom or time; but the Spirit's words, in the Spirit's wisdom and time, which is when he moves and gives to speak. And seeing the Spirit inwardly nourisheth, when he giveth not to speak words, the inward sense and nourishment is to be waited for, and received as it was given when there are no words. Yea, the ministry of the Spirit and life is inore close and immediate when without words, than when with words, as has been often felt, and is faithfully testified by many witnesses. Eye hath not seen nor ear heard, neither hath entered into the heart of man, how and what things God reveals to his children by his Spirit, when they wait upon him in his pure fear, and worship and converse with him in spirit; for then the fountain of the great deep is unsealed, and the everlasting springs surely give up the pure and living water.