« AnteriorContinuar »
as is in the world. No; life alone, the Spirit alone, the humble feed alone, the truth alone, the grace alone,' must rule among them; and God forbid the authority and government thereof should be stopt in any. It cannot be well with the church that it should be so, that God's Spirit should be grieved or quenched, or stopped in its holy way of governing and ordering the church of its own building.
Second, That which would exalc itself because of the gifts it hath received, and would bring others into subjection; this spirit must be subdued among Christ's disciples, or it will ruin all. God alone, Christ alone, the Spirit alone, the truth alone, the seed alone, is to be exalted in the cliurch; not flesh, not self, not the aspiring, lofty, ruling spirit.
Tbird, The Lord gives grace and knowledge for another end, than for men to take upon them to be great, and rule over others because of it. Man, without grace and true knowledge, is high and exalred, and would be ruling over, and subjecting others; but true grace and knowledge brings man down, and keeps him low, even out of every desire of aspiring and ruling over others, in earnest breatheings and endeavours that both the grace and spirit may teach and rule both over himself and others. • Fourth, Because God hath given a man knowledge, he must not take upon him to rule over others with his knowledge. Chrilt did not rule over his disciples with his knowledge, nor require them to believe what he knew to be truth. Nor may any man at this day, though ever so full of God's holy Spirit and power, take upon him (above what his Lord and master did) to rule over other mens consciences. If he do, he will do it out of the leadings of life, and of God's holy Spirit ; and so will wound and hurt his own life thereby; and so far as herein he prevails on others, he will hurt their life too.
Fiftb, Therefore this spirit. (which Christ never was of himself, nor encouraged in his disciples) the church is to watch over, beat down, testify against, turn from, lay flat, and keep beneath all, and so not suffer it to arise.
Quest. But doth all this hinder, deny, or oppose Christ's Spirit, Christ's power, Christ's truth and grace from arising in the church, in a way of spiritual and holy government? Because man is not to aspire, nor take upon him to reign or rule, because of grace, gifts, or knowledge received; Thall not therefore the head govern the body? Shall not life, and truth, and the wisdom of God, spring in the church, to order and govern the church? But must every man be left to the dictates of what he calls light in him, and not be reproved or teftified against, though the Spirit of God manifeft it (to them that are indeed in the light, life, Spirit, and power) that it is not light, as persons may pretend and imagine; but real darknels, gross darkness, darkness that may be felt, even by the leaft babes that are in the true, living sense ?
. . Hins
ville la The
The next Citation.
got up, nor the poor innocent lambs ro often have been worried by the
Confirm. It is most certainly true, if the wrong authority and government had been kept down, if the aspiring, lofty fpirit, which exalts itself, and loves to have the preheminence over that which it should be subject to both in itself and others, had been judged, beat down, denied, turned from, &C. how could the spirit of antichrist, which is the spirit that would be exalting itself above all that is indeed of God, have got up ? This is the wolf that worries the lambs; and if this power and spirit be kept out of the church, how can there be any wolf found there, to worry the innocent lambs and sheep of Christ ?
Quest. But did ever antichrist's power get up by the exercise of the power of Christ in his church? Doch not that power turn against antichrist, and keep out antichrift ? Did that power ever worry the lambs? Nay, rather doth it not cherish, feed, build up, and preserve the lambs? And is it pos fible but antichrist's power should get up, unless this power be watched to, and observed, in its ordering and governing the church, and discovering the subtil working of the wolfish fpirit of antichrist; which appears in the sheep's cloathing, and may pretend to the light within, that it might draw men from that which is indeed the light within, into that which is indeed darkness in the fight of the Lord, and in the sight of all that are kept truly living and sensible by him?
The next Citation.
HE great work of the ministers of Christ, is to keep the conscience open to
Christ, and to preserve men from receiving any truths as from them, further than the Spirit opens, or to imitate any of their practices, further than the Spirit leads, guides, and persuades them; for persons are exceeding prone to receive things as truths, from those they have an high opinion of, and to imitate their practices, and so hurt their own growth, and endanger their souls.
Confirm. When the minister of Christ comes with the gospel of Christ, he finds men in darkness, with their consciences defiled, with the door of the heart fhut against Christ. Now his great work is to turn them to the light, Spirit, and power, whereby their hearts may be opened, their consciences washed, and there may be a ready entrance for Christ's Spirit and power D d d d 2
into into them. Then the conscience being opened to Christ, their great endeavour, labour, and work, is to keep it open, and that that may not be let in again by them, which will shut it against Chrift. For as there is one fpirit opens to Chrift, so there is another will shut, even after the heart and conscience is opened, if a man hearken to it.
And the way of receiving truth, is in the evidence and demonstration of God's Spirit in one's own particular; and this is for ever the aim and care of the ministers of Christ to keep men to, and not to allure men to receive truths as from them, but from Chrift; or to imitate their practices, further than the Spirit leads, guides, and perfuades them. For the ministers of Christ are sensible how exceeding prone persons are to receive things as truths, from those they have an high opinion of; and to imitate their practices, and so hurt their own growth, and endanger their souls. Now it lies on my heart to testify, upon this occasion, that I have found the ministers of Christ, whom I have conversed with in this age, walk fo towards me and others, still turning me to that light, Spirit, and truth in my own particular, wherein the knowledge of truth was to be given me by the Lord, and not imposing upon me that which they knew to be truth, before the Lord had prepared and fitted my heart for the knowledge thereof. And this is still the course and practice of the ministers of Christ to this day.
- Quest. But must not the minister of Christ, who is ordained of God to watch for the soul, watch against that, which (if hearkened to by any particular) will shut the conscience against Christ, and open it to another spirit, who is often working in a mystery to deceive it? And if they see the workings of this other spirit in any, ought they not, in faithfulness to Christ, and to the souls of such, to warn them of it? And if any, having let in the wrong spirit, turn from, and deny, the practices which the Lord once taught them (and wherein the testimony of truth stands) into practices which are of the world, and answer the world's spirit, and tend to weaken the faithful testimonies of others in the true light and Spirit; ought the minister of Christ to leave these persons to their openness to a wrong spirit, and wrong practices, wherein they deny the Lord that bought them and enlightened them, and are shut up against the visitations and testimonies of God's true Spirit and power in his children, who keep their habitacions in that light which these are departed from, though they make ever so great pretences to it?
The next Citation.
H poor hearts ! bomo simply do they come thither where they once tasted re| freshment, to find wholesome advice, not suspecting what is got up there fince; and to give dominion to a wrong tbing, ani take directions from a wrong spirit, and betray their own fimplicity? Therefore the main thing is to keep the conscience pure to the Lord, and not to take things for truths
because other's see them to be truths, but to wait till the Spirit makes them : manifest to me ; nor to run into worships, duties, performances, or pralli,
ces, because others are led thither, but to wait till the Spirit lead me thither. He that makes baste to be rich (even in religion, running into knowledge, and into worships and performances before be feel a true and clear evidence) shall not be innocent, nor the Lord will not bold him guiltless, when he comes to visit for spiritual.adultery and idolatry. .
in their own was in its great in a crown of weith his tail sweep
Confirm. This hath been experienced in this our day, more than once ; when some, having departed from the power whereby the innocent lambs had tasted sweet nourishment and refreshment through them, and have come afterwards for that which is wholesome, not suspecting what was got up in them since, and so gave dominion to a wrong thing, and took directions from a wrong spirit, and betrayed their own simplicity.
... Quest. But had these resorted to the church, and waited for judgment from the church, to whom God has given eyes to fee, in such cases as may pass the eye-light of the particular, and a mouth to speak; might not the church have been instrumental to have opened the true eye in them also, and so have preserved them from being insnared, by any that ran out from the truth in their own particulars, and lost their habitation therein? And mark, when the church was in its great glory, cloathed with the sun, and the moon under its feet, and crowned with a crown of twelve Itars, yet the dragon, even then, might prevail upon some stars, and with his tail sweep them down from their place; but the church he could not prevail upon. The gates of hell, the power of the dragon, the mouth of the dragon, nay the tail of the dragon (which what if I should say is the false prophet within) cannot.
Further Confirm. Indeed, the main thing is to keep the conscience pure to the Lord. To bring men to that which purifies the conscience, and to keep them to it, this is the great work. Men must not take things for truths, because others see them to be truths (that is not God's way, nor did his ministers ever so teach) but to wait till God's Spirit makes them manifeft to the particular. Nor muft men run into worships, duties, performances, or practices, because others are led thither, but wait till the Spirit lead every one in his own particular thither.
Quest. Where is the faithful minister that teacheth otherwise, or practiseth otherwise at this day? I am sure I never met with any thing of this nature from any of them, but only one that ran out in his own particular, who first endeavoured to draw me from efteeming or taking directions from others, and then would have given me directions himfelf, and wouid speak and undertake to prophesy great things of me, that he might have raised up that part in me, which could have answered him. And though he himself be dead, yet his spirit is alive in others at this day, which the Lord discover and prelerve his people from !
Furtber Further Confirm. It is not good to make baste to be rich (no not in religion). He that rightly believeth, and abideth in the true and living faith, makes not haste to run into knowledge, worships, and performances, before he feel his guide! but rather chuseth to be as a weaned child, lying low before the Lord, in brokenness of spirit, and not meddling with things too high for him ; and fo he is kept in innocency, poverty, and humility before the Lord, and preserved out of the bed of the stranger (the strange fpirit and power), and so not judged or condemned by the Lord, for either spiritual adultery or idolatry.
Queft. But he that lets in a wrong spirit, that mistakes about the light in him, and judgech that which is indeed darkness to be it, and errs from the true church, and denies the authority of God's Spirit and power in it, and is not preserved thereby, but entangled and bewitched with this wrong spirit, and in it testifies against the true church and the true Spirit, and the ministry and minifters of Chrift; is not he joined to the spirit of whoredom in his own particular? And hath not he fet up an idol in his own heart, instead of the true light there? And doch not he worship and obey that idol, that wrong spirit, that wrong power? And will not the Lord visit and judge him for his fpiritual adultery and idolatry from the true ?
The next Citation.
N the apostles days, Christians were too apt to strive after a wrong unity and
uniformity in outward practices and observations, and to judge one another unrighteously in these things. And mark, it is not the different pratice from one another that breaks the peace and unity, but the judging one another because of differing practices. He that keeps not a day, may unite in the Jame Spirit, in the same life, in the same love with bim that keeps a day; and be who keeps a day, may unite in heart and soul with the fame Spirit and life in him who keeps not a day; but be that judgetb the otber because of either of these, errs from the Spirit, from the love, from the life, and so breaks the bond of unity. And be that draws another to any praktice, before the life in his own particular lead him, doth as much as in bim lies to destroy the foul of that perfon. This was the apostle's rule, for every one to perform fingły to the Lord what he did, and not for one to meddle with the light or conscience of another, &c. but every one to keep close to tbeit own measure, &c. and here is the true unity in the Spirit, in the inward life, and not in an outward uniformity; that was not necessary in the apos
tles days, nor is it necesary now : and that eye, which fo dotes upon it, :: overlooks the one thing which is necessary.
Confirm. This is so manifest from that scripture quoted by me, which is here omitted, that he that shall read that scripture, which is Rom. xiv. may easily observe the apostle affirming and teaching these things.