« AnteriorContinuar »
ing word discovering any evil to thee, either in thy heart or ways, oh! do not dispute, do not reason against it; but bless the discoverer, bow to the Son, become obedient immediately, faithfully following the Lamb therein, left he remove his light from thee, and suffer darkness and the disputing wisdom to overtake thee.
Christ is not of the world, and he leads out of the world; out of its vanities, ways, customs, fashions, &c. A man cannot serve Christ and the world. Can any man be born of the Father, be begotten by him out of the spirit of the world, and yet live in that, walk in that, which is not of the Father, but of the world, which came from the worldly part, is of the worldly part, nourisheth and pleaseth the worldly part in man, but pleaseth not the Father? Can that man who is not of the world, but of the Father, do any thing that upholdeth the lust of the flesh, the luft of the eyes, or the pride of life, either in himself or others ? Doch not the Spirit of the Lord, where it is hearkened to, draw out of these, and out of all things which are of these? Therefore consider well what it will cost, and how hard it is to follow Christ; that thou who desirest to be the Lord's, mayest receive help and strength from him to be faithful, that in his strength thou mayeft overcome all that stands between thee and life, that so thou mayest receive the. crown, and inherit the kingdom which is prepared for, and given to, the faithful, who labour and fight not in vain; but gain ground and conquer (yea, at length become more than conquerors) through the mercy, love, might, and power of the Lord.
Some sensible experimental Questions and Answers
from the Tenth Chapter of John. Quest. 1.
W H O is the good Shepherd of the sheep? Answ. W The wisdom, life, and power of the Father (which dwelleth in, and is manifest through, the Son) is the shepherd. He that is the truth, the way, and the life, he also is the shepherd and bishop of the soul.
Quest. 2. Who are the sheep?.
Anfw. They that are born of this wisdom, gathered by this life, turned to this power, they are the sheep. They who are changed by him into his nature, they are of him; sheep of him, the Shepherd ; lambs of him, the. Lamb;, doves of him, the Dove.
Queft. 3: What is the fold of the sheep?
Anfw. The wisdom, life, and power of the Father, even the same that is the shepherd. The Father's hand wherewith he covers them, wherein he incloseth them, that is the fold. For it is the power, wisdom, and life of the Father, which gathereth the fheep; and he gathereth them into his wisdom, into his life; and that is a wall or fold about them.
Object. Is not the church the fold?
Answ. This in the church, or the church in this, is the fold; but not out of this. For there is no safety or preservation among any sort or gathering of people, but as they stand and abide in this. And standing and abiding in this, they have authority and power from the chief bishop of the soul; but none out of this.
Quest. 4. Who is the door ?
Answ. The Shepherd is the door also, who lets into the fold, and shuts out, at his pleasure, and none can rightly enter but by him.
Queft. 5. What are they that run before the power, or farther than the power leads and guides them?
Answ. They are thieves and robbers, and they may destroy the life and freshness in those that are not watchful ; but they cannot help to save or build up, because they themselves are out of that, come out of that, and act out of that, which alone can do it.
Queft. 6. How may tbe seep be discerned from the goats, and from such also as put on the sheep's cloathing, but yet are not sheep in nature and spirit?
Answ. By their lamb-like nature, by the meekness and innocency in them which is of the Lamb, which none can have but they that are of him; for it is not to be found in man's nature, nor to be attained by his art. They also know and hear the voice of the Word nigh in the mouth and heart, and follow the law of his Spirit, received from his mouth, which none else but his sheep do, or can do; for this is given by him, and it is given by him only to his sheep.
Quest. 7. What doth Christ the Shepherd (the eternal Word, the wisdom, life, and power of the Father.) do for his peep?
Answ. He doth great things for them, which who can utter ? But happy is he that feels and knows them. He gives them a new nature, a new spirit, a new heart, a new name, which none knoweth but he that hath it ; for it is written on the white stone, which none else receives, nor none else can read, but he that hath the eye which is of him, what is written thereon. He giveth them eternal life; he leadeth them into the pastures of life; he giveth them to drink of the waters of life. He putteth them forth out of the prin fon-house, out of the chains and fetters, out of the darkness, out of the bonds, and from under the burdens of the soul, into the pure light and liberty of the Spirit, where they taste, know, and enjoy of his freedom, and dwell with him, and rest with him, and lie down with him, and rise up with him, even in the same eternal life, Spirit, and power, wherein his dwelling-place is. And all this they enjoy safely, hearkening to the voice of the Shepherd, and turning from the voice of the firanger, which it is natural to them to do. For being turned from man, born of that which is imınortal, and keeping to that, that ear which is there received will alone hearken to the voice of him who is immortal; and the voice of the stranger (who speaketh of himself) is presently difcerned and turned from, by him that heareth with the true car. The Lord God, who is the spring and fountain of all good, inflame people with desires after the pure life, and holy nature, which is of and from Christ the seed, bis Son, and satisfy those defores which are fingly and uprigbtly after him.
The CONCLUSIO N.
O LORIOUS was the estate of the church before the apostafy, for pu
Jrity of doctrine, for holy order and discipline, for love to God, one to another, and to all men (even of enemies) for faith in God, for the prefence and power of his Spirit among them (insomuch as the unbeliever coming among them, might find his heart and state reached to, and be forced to confess and report that God was in them of a truth) for singleness and uprightness of heart, meekness and innocency of spirit and conversation, for zeal for God and his truth, suffering the spoiling of their goods, imprifonments, stripes, and many other ways, both from the heathen, and also from the professing Jews, who had been the church once. Oh! what shall I say concerning the beauty and loveliness of that state? Ye that would know it, oh! wait to feel it in that which gives the true sense of it.
But over this glorious state came a dark, thick, corrupt night, wherein the kernel was loft, and the shell defaced; wherein the house, which had been swept and garnished, became again recovered and poffelled by the wicked fpirit. And how great hath this darkness been! Oh! what a kind of church hath appeared in the world, wherein the spirit of enmity hath dwelt and acted in men, under the name of Christianity! So that instead of loving and seeking the good of enemies, they are ready to rend and tear one another for every little difference, and will be lords over mens faith, requiring men to practise things in religion before the Spirit of the Lord teacheth them fo to do, which the apostles did not. For though they had from God the express knowledge of what was truth, and could certainly instruct and build men up therein, yet they were not lords over mens faith; but if men were otherwise-minded than according to what they knew and taught, they could wait and bear with them, bidding them walk so far as they had attained, and God in his due time would reveal the rest also. Oh! that men were come to this spirit again! then they would be Christians indeed, and then they might be known to be Christ's disciples, by their loving: the brethren and fellow-disciples. But without this love, mens religion is but a tinkling cymbal, making a noise and sound of somewhat, but not haveing the true nature or virtue of religion in it.
Now will it not be a glorious day, when the Spirit of the Lord cleanseth away this thick darkness, and causeth the light of his pure truth to arise and appear again? Why there is such a day to be, wherein the true church (which was reproached and driven into the wilderness) is to come out of the wilderness again, and her witnesses stand on their feet again, and her seed to spring up in the power of life, following the Lamb, who marcheth on fighting with the sword of the Spirit (the word of his mouth) conquering and to conquer thereby the corrupted antichristian world, even as he did at first the corrupt heathenish world. The Lord will purify his temple, and cleanse the world by the plagues of his angels which he hath prepared, making way for the beauty of his truth, and the church of his gathering; wherein he will bring forth his righteousness, wherein his power shall appear, wherein his presence shall be made manifest, wherein that which shined before in the primitive church, shall shine again in this new-reared building of his, insomuch as men shall be forced to say, This is the church of Christ indeed, God is here of a truth; this is the Gospel-Jerusalem indeed, which is built upon the holy bill of Sion; in which innocency, righteousness, truth, love,
sweetness, peaceableness, and the gentle nature and Spirit of the Lamb lives and · reigns; and the Lord bless thee, o habitation of Justice, and mountain of holinefs.
Now of a truth this work is begun. The times of refreshment are come from the presence of the Lord. The Lord hath heard from heaven, pitying the cries of his feed, and hath visited their souls, causing the light of life (even the pure light of the everlasting covenant) to shine upon their tabernacles. But whoever would know these things, and partake of them, must come in at the door, by the guidance of the Spirit, through the light which is with him. And he that would enjoy the full light (even the shinings forth of the sun at noon-day) must begin with its glimmerings, even that in the heart, which discovereth and draweth out of the corrupt state of the world towards the Father. Oh! hear and live. Do not dispute about it, but wait to feel it; upon the feeling of it, despising the shame, and taking up and enduring the cross, and so bearing the reproach and sufferings of Christ in thy age and generation. And as thou obeyeft, thou shalt know of its doctrine; but out of the pure faith and obedience, there is no true, sound, deep, rooted knowledge; but all of that kind must be parted with, for the knowledge which is of the faith, and which is made manifest and increased in the obedience; which knowledge is of a far more excellent kind and nature, than that which thou art to part with for it. The Lord guide tliy mind, and stretch forth his hand to help thee, who from the least touch of a true nature and spirit, desirest after the pure truth and way of eternal life. Amen.
This testimony (here held forth) is faithful and true, and (I know) the witness of God in many hearts will answer to it, and happy is he that maketh a righe use of it. For, to doing, his soul will not fall short of the pure liveing truth, nor set up any thing else for truth which is not.
To such as are not satisfied with a Profession, without
the true Life and Power, but have sincere Desires in their Hearts after the Lord himself, and a Willingness to be acquainted with his pure living Truth, and with the Soul's true Guide and Leader ; this Experience is in my Heart to express unto you, which we have all along witnessed in our Travels out of the dark corrupt Land, into the Land of Life and Purity.
VI E have still found the willer, the runner, the self-ftriver, the wise
V comprehending part, &c. left behind; and the grace of God alone able to lead towards him, and the birth which is of and by grace still to obtain the mercy. And Christ is our life, and in the union with his Spirit lies all our ability and strength; and that knowledge of Christ, which we witness to be life eternal, we did not meet with whilst we thought to have it in the scriptures, but it hath been all along revealed to us by God's Spirit; so that we can truly say flesh and blood did not reveal the Son to us, but the Father. Yet that which the scriptures testify concerning Christ is exactly true according as it is there related, and is só acknowledged and really owned by us; though we obtained not our knowledge of Christ by the letter, but by receiving a principle of life from God; and coming into union with his Spirit, we came to the true knowledge and owning of the letter; which as it came from the life, so can it only be rightly read and understood in the life from which it came : so that he that is out of that, cannot but err concerning the letter, and misjudge concerning the things of God; whereas he that is guided by, and lives in, God's Spirit (receiving his knowledge there) cannot err concerning the Spirit, or concerning the letter ; but hath that within him, which gives to him, and preserves him in, the true sense and understanding of both.
Now, friends, this is an excellent thing indeed, to come to, and be acquainted with, and receive that, which the scriptures testify of; to wit, to receive Christ, to feel union with him in his Spirit, to enter into the new and holy agreement with God, into the everlasting covenant of life and peace, to feel the partition-wall broken down, and the wall of salvation reared up, and the defence which is thereby ; to find the law of God, the law of life, the law of the new creation, written in the heart ; the pure fear planted there by God, which keepeth the mind and spirit from departing from him ; to Vol. II.