« AnteriorContinuar »
tures, and yet not come to Christ for life ; and men may get descriptions and a knowledge of things out of the scriptures, and yet not receive from him the rule of the new life.
V. Concerning the Light, wherewith Christ the Life enlightenetb every
In him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light fbinetb is
darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not. John i. 4, 5.
W H AT is the darkness which comprehendeth not the light? Is it
V not man in the unregenerate state? Ye were darkness, faith the apostle, speaking concerning them as they had been in that ftare.
Now it pleaseth the Lord that in this darkness his pure light should shine, to gather man out of the darkness. For unless light should shine on man in his dark state, he could never be gathered out of it, but he that is turned to the light, and followeth it, cannot abide in the darkness; but cometh into that which gathereth and preserveth the mind out of it. .
But of what nature is this light, which shinech in man in his dark ftate? It is of a living nature; it is light which flows from life; it is light which hath life in it; it is the life of our Lord Jesus Chrift, of the Word eternal, which is the light of men. And he who cometh to the true understanding, may thereby distinguish it from all other lights whatsoever.
There is a vast difference between it and the reason and understanding of a man: for the natural man, with his understanding, is dead; but this is living and powerfully operating in man, as it finds entrance, and as his mind is joined to it. He that is dead, indeed, knows it not; but he that is alive unto God, feels the virtue of it. This light is above all gathered knowledge whatsoever, and above all descriptions of things whatsoever : for it is the thing itself, even of the nature of him from whom it flows. A man may get a notion from this into his mind, which he may retain the dead knowledge of, yea, his notion may quickly be dead in them; but he that dwells in the thing itself, knows that, and dwells in that which never dies.
VI. A few Words further concerning Perfection. W H AT was the intent of God in commending Job to Satan for a
V perfect and upright man, one that feared God and eschewed evil? Was it not to represent him as a person whom he could not make any breach upon, or prevail upon to fin? Thou halt been ranging up and down the
earth, earth, tempting many, defiling many; what sayest thou to my fervant Job, Satan, is not he perfect ? Is not he uprighe. to me in his heart, and all his ways ? Canst thou make any breach upon him?
What faith Satan hereto? Doth he object any sin against Job? He is the accuser of the brethren; and if he have wherewith to accuse, he will not fail to lay it to their charge, even before the throne of God. But what hath he to say against Job? What can he object (either against his uprightness, or against his perfection) to the Lord ? Oh! says he, thou hast fet an hedge about him. He serves thee indeed perfectly and uprightly; I confefs. I have nothing to lay to his charge: but doth he serve thee for nought? But cake away thy bedge, fuffer me to winnow him, and thou shalt quickly see I shall have somewhat to lay to his charge, and that no small maiter neither : for do but take away thy blessing from him, wherewith thou haft fo abundantly blessed him, and he will fuon curie thee to thy face.
Well, the Lord giveth him leave to try if he can stain Job's uprightness and perfection : and now begins the trial, whether the devil's temptations shall bring him to sin, or the fear of the Lord prevail to preserve him from sin.
First, the devil hath power to touch all he hath; which he foon doth.
What doth this produce ? Doth he sin againit the Lord, doth he murmur, doth he blaspheme, as the devil had faid? No; he fell on the ground and worshipped, acknowledging all to be the Lord's, and blessing his name. So tha, in all this fore amiction, he sinned not, nor charged God foolishly, Job. i. 20, 21, 22.
But the commendation which God had given him, of being a perfect and upright man, fearing God and eschewing eyil, still remains and stands good againit Sacan, chap. ii. iii.
Satan gers leave to try him yet further, insinuating against him, that if he may have liberty to finite his body, he shall easily prevail upon him to sin; not being able at present to bung in any plea against his perfection and uprightnels, against his fearing God and eschewing evil. But this hath the same success with the former; for he could not bring job to sin with
his lips, Juccess with all his fearin
Now mind, Can any man, that hath his heart made upright by the Lord, keep that integrity, and fin? Is not every sin a departing from the purity, from the integrity? Was not every transgression against the first covenant, out of the first covenant, even a departing from the limits of it? Is not every transgression of the second covenant a departing out of the limits of the second covenant? He that abideth in Chrift, doth he fin? Can he sin ? Doch not he that fins depart out of his light, out of his life, out of his power, into the darkness, into the death, into the temptation of the enemy? Is it not promised, I will put my fear in their hearts, and they shall not depart from me: while the fear which God puts into the heart abides there, can that man fin? Doch not the pure fear cleanse the heart, and RI 2
keep keep it clean, that the conscience may be void of offence, both towards God and man? Is the conscience void of offence, where fin is committed either against God or man? When the blood flows in the pure light, doth it not wash? Doth it not wash clean? Doch it not make whiter than the snow? When sin is entered into afterwards, and committed again, doth it not defile ? Oh! read in the true sense, in the true experience, with the true understanding, which God gives.
VII. Concerning Imputation of Righteousness. T HE scripture faith, that Abraham believed God, and it was counted
unto him for righteousness; and that so it shall be also to all that believe as he did, even in the same power which he believed in, Rom. iv. 23, 24.
Now thus we witness the thing: our minds being turned from sin, and turned to the pure gift of God, that works a change in us. Herein we feel faith spring up, which fastens our fpirits to the power of life; and then we feel thač (in the power of life) flow upon our spirits, which washeth away our sin; and all that is done in this holy and righteous faith, is of the holy, righteous life and power, and accepted with the Lord, and that which condemns fin in us, never condemns any work which is wrought in God, but justifies it. So that the root of sin, with all that flows from it, is condemned by the righteous principle of life ; but the root of holiness, with all that flows from it, is juftified. And this is our righteousness, even Christ the holy power of life, who condemns and casts out sin; and it is great joy to any of us to feel the root of sin struck at, and condemned by his power, and him casting fin out of us, and the root of righteousness growing up in us, and bearing us, and causing us to bring forth fruit to God. And here we sensibly find we have right to the scriptures, to the promises, to all that Christ did and suffered for us, and witness the propitiation by and through him, and bless God for all the dispensations of life, wherein he hath appeared to the children of men in any age, which were all glorious and excellent in their season; but the dispensation of the Spirit is the standing dispensation, which excels in glory, which Chrift, in the days of his felh, pointed his disciples to wait for, which his going away was to make way for. This dispensation was revealed and set up before the apostasy from the life and Spirit of the apostles, and is again revealed and set up in power and great glory, after the long night of apostafy; bleffed be the name of the Lord for ever. For the darkness is already passed away from many spirits, and the true light again shinech. Glory in the highest to the God of life and glory for ever and ever. Amen.
VIII. Some Queries concerning the Time and Work of Reformation. Query 1.
W H AT did the time of Reformation and Substance (spoken, of
W Heb. ix. 10.) signify and point at in relation to the mystery? Was it not for the bringing in of the gospel ; the day of Christ's Spirit and power; the day of his inward renewing and reforming; the day of his taking his fan into his hand, to purge his floor; the laying his axe to the root of the corrupt tree, that he may destroy the works of the devil in mens hearts, cafting down and plucking up what his heavenly Father hath not planted there? When he cometh as a refiner's fire, and fuller's soap, to purify the fons of Levi, as gold and silver is purged, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness; is not this the time of reformation ?
Query 2. Who is the reformer? Is it not the Lord Jesus Christ? Doth not he create anew? Doth not he blot out the old image and form into a new lump? For if any man be in Christ, there is a renewing there; a new building there, yea, old things are passed away there; there is nothing in him but what is new. He is faithful (in all his house) inwardly to judge, condemn, crucify, subdue, destroy whatsoever is contrary to the nature and Spirit of his Father, and to form and build up the spirits of his in that which is new and pure.
Query 3. How, or by what, doth Chrift reform ? Is it not by his Spirit and power, by the light thereof, by the life thereof, by the virtue thereof? For nothing can change and reform the heart but that which is more powerful than him who corruptech it.
Query 4. Where doth Christ reform and new-create ? Is it not in the new covenant; in the faith and obedience thereof? Doch he not, by the laws thereof, break and disannul the laws of the old covenant, and make void the covenant of hell and death; and so make an everlasting covenant of life and peace; even an holy, pure, living agreement, between God his Father and the souls of his ? Thus by his light he overcomes darkness; by his life he overcomes death; by his pure nature and Spirit he overcomes (chains down, subdues, and destroys) that which is impure, breaking the bond of sin and iniquity, and letting the opressed go free from under it. Thus he manifests himself to be the Saviour by his holy anointing, breaking the yoke of the oppressor, Ifai. x. 27.
Query 5. Whom doth Christ reform ? Are they not those who take his yoke upon them, and learn of him? Are they not those who are turned to the light of his Spirit, inwardly made manifest ; turned from the darkness, walking no more therein, but in his pure light? They that own his inward appearance in their hearts, and turn (from the enmity there) to him, receiving his light, his law, his life, his Spirit, them doth he exercise daily, and is daily reforming their hearts and ways thereby. But if any man receive h
not his light, his life, his Spirit, within, such an one is none of his; and · he may reform himself as much as he can, but he knoweth not yet the day of the true reformation. ;
Query 6. How are they to walk whom Christ has begun to reform? Is it not in that light, in that Spirit, in that covenant, in that grace, wherein and whereby he hath in some measure reformed them ? Is it not in the newnefs of the Spirit, and in the newness of the law thereof? Here Christ walked before the Father in all well-pleasing (Lo, I come; I delight to do thy will, O my God; yea, thy law is witbin my heart, said he, Psal. xl. 7, 8.) and here all his are also to walk, 1 Jobn ii. 6. For indeed there is no pleasing the Father, or Christ our Lord and master, out of the virtue, life, and newness of his own Spirit.
Query 7. What was the glory that was to follow the sufferings of Christ, spoken of, 1 Pet. i. 11 ? Was it not the glory of his inward reformation in the hearts of the children of the new covenant? Doch not Chrift give of his grace in the gospel ? And doth nor his grace make a glorious change? Doch not he give of his Spirit to his children? And doch not his Spirit change from sin, from shame, into holiness, into true beauty, into the heavenly glory, and so from glory to glory, tranNating more and more into the glory? Doth not Christ appear gloriously in the hearts of his, and in the assemblies of his, who meet together in his name, and wait upon him in that which is pure and living of him? And is there not a covering, or defence of the wing of the Almighty, upon the glory? Isa. iv. 5.
Query 8. Was not this glory brought forth in the days of the apostles? Was not great grace then upon them all? I mean such as received and held the truth in the love of it). Did they not witness the peace which passeth man's understanding ? Had they not received the holy and fpiruual understanding from him that is true; and were they not in him that is true? Did they not know victory and dominion over sin and death? Did not the little babes witness pardon of sin, and know him who preferveth from sin ? Had not the young men overcome the wicked-one ; and were not the elders strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might ? Were they not come to the spiritual Sion, and heavenly Jerusalem; and did they not walk in the light of the lamb, and of the holy city, before God the judge of all? There is no man, in these our days, can so much as conceive the glory of that ftate, but he that hath tasted of a mealure thereof.
Query 9. Was not this glory eclipsed, and did not a great darkness come over it, hiding it from the fons of men, so that (for ages and generations) they knew not the true Spirit, the true light, the true life, the everlalting covenant, the holy gospel, the true church, the man-child, &c. but these, with many other heavenly mysteries, have been hid from their eyes.
Query io. What hath got up since these have been hid? Have not the shadows of the night took place, and overspread the Christian ftare, instead of the light of the day ? Hath not antichrift got up, and a false church