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He confefseth, There is tợo little power ; and without it profesion is little
Answ. Oh! that the professors of this age knew the scriptures and the power of God, and had that knowledge which comes from, and stands in, the power! For then that evidence and demonftration of truth would be witnessed which puts an end to the disputes and reasonings of the mind; and then the great care would be to live the life of that which God makes manifest and requires in the new covenant.
He saith, To pull down the pillars and principles of the gospel, is the work the devil employs his power in.
Answ. I grant what he faith is true (and wish he knew how rightly to apply it); but there is a great error and mistake in his judgment about it. For the Lord is pulling down that which men have built up (which they may, in their mistaken judgments, call principles and fundamentals), and is building up that which men have trampled on, even the tabernacle of David, which hath long been fallen down; and the city of the living God, which hath long been trodden under foot of the false Christians; and the power of the devil is greatly at work to oppose this appearance and mighty work of the Lord in this day. Let him take heed of blaspheming the Lord's power, calling it the devil's, and owning the devil's power for God's.
He concludeth thus: Come to the point. What fingular thing do you more than moding and wording it, save only that out of you bave risen men that have more audaciously lifted up a standard against the sealed and experienced truths of the gospel than ever I have heard or read of any before you? You talk of words, and boast of perfection : I tell you, an bumble sense of a man's notbingness, driving him out of bimself to live and glory. in Christ alone, is more than all such boasted perfečtions a thousand times. Sir, accept my zeal for your soul.
Anfw. We are a people (many of us) who have gone through great diftress for want of the Lord our God, and exceedingly waited and longed for his living and powerful appearance. And for my own part, this I can say, that had not this appearance been in power, and in the evidence and demonstration of his Spirit to my soul (reaching to, and answering that which was of him in me) I could never have owned it; so deeply was I jealous of it, and prejudiced against it. And since my mind hath been turned to the pure Word of life, even the Word which was in the beginning
(I speak as in the Lord's presence), it hath had singular effects on my heart. · The light hath so searched me as I never was searched before, under all my
former professions; and the Lord hath given me a true and pure discerning of the things of his kingdom, in the light which is true and pure; and fingular quickenings have I met with from his Spirit, and the faith which stands in his heavenly power, and giveth victory and dominion in him ; blessed be his name. And the love which he hath given me is not notional, but ariseth from his circumcising my heart, and answereth his nature ; fpringing forth purely and naturally towards him, and those of his image, and all his creatures ; yea, towards those who are enemies to me for his name's lake.
I might mention the patience also, and faithfulness to his truth, with the long-suffering fpirit, which cannot be worn out; which his Spirit testifieth in me to be of a singular nature ; with many other things. Nor am I alone, or the chiefeft; but have many equals; yea, there are such as far exceed me in the heavenly and divine image of my Father. And the fruits are according to the root of life in us; and so acknowledged by all who look upon us with the true eye, with the eye of God's giving and opening.
Now the same that hath wrought thus inwardly in us, the same hath required fome outward behaviour and expressions from us, which are foolish and weak to the eye of man's wisdom, but chosen of God to hide the glory of this life from that eye which discerns it not, but despises the day of small things. And though this be the least part of our religion (yet subjected to, because it is of God, whom we dare not disobey in the least), yet the spirit
, which is contrary to God, cafteth this upon us, as if this were all, or at least the main, wherein we differ from others. Some call the living words of truth from us (when God, according to his good promise, giveth them us) but canting ; and thou callest all that is singular in us but moding and wording of it. Alas! it is in the main we differ from you; we holding our religion as we receive it from God, in the light and life of his Spirit: you as you apprehend it from the letter. Christ is our rock and foundation, as inwardly revealed; yourš' but as outwardly conceived of. We believe with the faith which is of the nature of him whom we believe in, which faith is mighty through God, and works through all the powers of darkness, giving victory over them all in God's way and time; ye believe with a faith which esteemš victory, and a perfect and intire state (wanting nothing) as impossible while in this world. And as our root differs, so all that grows up in us differs from yours: so that indeed all is fingular that is in us, and all also is singular that is brought forth by us, as the Spirit of the Lord, who knoweth the difference of things, witnesseth.
Have we so long walked in the name and Spirit of our God amongst you, Thewing the fingular virtues of his Spirit daily in our faithful testimony, sufferings, patience, and conversation And do ye still cry, Wbat fingular thing do ye? Just like the Jews, who, after all Christ's, mighty works, and demonstrations of his Father's virtue and power outwardly, asked for a sign, Oh! that your eyes and hearts were opened by the Spirit and power of the Lord !' for then ye would foon fee otherwise in this respect than now
And then as for that expresion, Of audaciously lifting up a standard against the sealed and experienced truths of the gospel, that is but an over-confident expreffion, through prejudice and mistake of judgment at least: for I can Y 2
truly testify I have never learned, since the pure heavenly light of the Lord Jesus Christ hath shined on my spirit, to deny any one truth that ever was sealed to me, or experienced by me, in the days of my former profession; for whatsoever was then of God hath been restored to me, and that only which was of the flesh pared off. And I have ground also to believe, that it is so with others in this respect as it hath been with me.
He speaks, As if our difference or talk were about words.
Nay, it is about things : for though we own the same Lord Jesus Christ to be the foundation of life, yet after a different manner. Ye, as ye notionally apprehend concerning him; we, as we experience him to be the precious stone and foundation of life in us. And we testify of justification and fanctification, as we witness him bestowing it upon us, and working it
But for boasting of perfection, I wonder how he dares speak thus ! What! is there no fear of God before his eyes, or in his heart, that he dares charge us with that which is fo utterly false? Where is any of us that did ever boast of perfection ? But that God's power and covenant is able to make perfect, and that God's will is our perfect sanctification in soul, body, and spirit; even that we be wholly leavened with the salt of the kingdom, and become a fit temple for him. This we humbly and reverently testify of, and press towards, in his holy name and fear,
And as for that humble sense, of a man's own nothingness, drawing bim out of himself, to live and glory in Christ alone, this we meet with, and witness in that light which this generation of professors despiseth. But others, tho' they may talk of it, can never come truly to witness it, but in that light wherein God bestoweth and preserveth it.
Well; the professors of this age, who despise the light, shall one day find, that what they take themselves to be, they are not, in God's sight; nor are we, before him, what we are reproachfully represented by them; but we are bis workmanship in Christ Jesus, created by him unto good works; and that it is natural to us to bring forth the fruits of righteousness and holiness to our God, however men reproach us.
As for his zeal for my soul, which be desired me to accept, it is strange zeal, and would tend to my utter deftruction, had it power over me ; but blessed be my God, who hath called me into the light of his Son, and I am satisfied that he will preserve me therein, even in that holy Spirit of life which he hath gathered me into, from all deceivable spirits of darkness whatsoever, in that holy covenant wherein his strength appears to me, and is revealed in me. And oh! that he might know what that spirit is wherein he hath thus appeared against the Lord (though under a pretence as if it were for him), and bring forth no more the fruits of it. For a close, I shall add a few words on that scripture, Phil
. iii. 3. For we are the circumcifion, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Chrift Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. It is a precious thing to witness
this fcripture fulfilled in the heart; to experience that there, which inwardly circumciseth, which cutteth off the foreskin of the heart, which lieth over it and veileth, till it be cut off by the inward appearance of the life and power of the Lord Jesus Christ inwardly revealed. Then when this is done, I can truly and sensibly say, I am a few inward. How fo? How can that be proved? Why I am inwardly circumcised. I have felt that within which circumciseth the heart, and have borne the inward pain and cutting thereof, and am circumcised by it. That which stood between me and the Lord is cut moved, the wall of separation is inwardly broken down, and now I am in true
away unity of Spirit and communion with my God, even with the Father, and the Son, in that One Holy Spirit wherein they are One.
Now I can bow before the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and worship him in his own Spirit, even in the new and fresh life thereof day by day. Now my rejoicing is in Christ Jesus, whom the Father hath sent, both outwardly in a body of flesh to fulfil the holy will, and do what therein the Father had for him to do, and also inwardly. in his Spirit and power unto my heart, to destroy the works of the devil there, and fo to work me out of the enmity and unreconciled state, into the love and reconciliation. And I cannot but rejoice both in what he did in his body of Aelh for me, and in what he doth by his Spirit and power in me. And, blessed be the Lord, I feel him near, his Spirit near, his life near, his
power near, his
pure virtue near, his holy wisdom near, his righteousness near, his redemption near; for be is my rock, and my strength, and my salvation, day by day. And I have no confidence in the Aesh, in what I am, in what I can do after the Aesh; but my confidence is in him, who hath weakened me, who hath stripped me, who hath impoverished me, who hath brought me to nothing in myself, that I might be all in him, and that I might find him all unto me. He is my peace, he is my life, he is my righteoufness, he is my holiness, he is the image wherein I am renewed; in him is my acceptance with the Father; he is my advocate, he is my hope and joy for ever. He hath destroyed that in me which was contrary to God, and keepeth it down for
He is my shepherd, his arm hath gathered me, and his arm encompafseth me day by day. I rest under the shadow of his wings, from whence the healing virtue of his saving health droppeth upon my spirit day by day. Oh! I cannot tell any man what he is unto me; but, blessed be the Lord; I feel him near, his righteousness near, his salvation daily revealed before that eye which he hath opened in me, in that true living sense wherewith he hath quickened me.
And now, ye that have high notions and rich comprehensive knowledge concerning these things, but not the thing itself, the life itself, the Spirie itself, the new and living covenant, and law of life itself, wherein alone Christ is livingly revealed. Ah! how poor, miserable, blind, and naked are you, in the midst of all your traditional knowledge and pretended experiences concerning these things!
Come, be quiet a while, and cease from bitterness of fpirit, and reviling the work and people of the Lord; for the Lord knoweth, and will make manifest, both who are his, and who are not his. All the living stones are his; but the great professors cf the words of scripture, without the Spirit and life of the scriptures, are not his, nor ever were, nor ever will be owned by him.
Come, learn to distinguish from God by his life, by his anointing, by the everlasting infallible rule, and not by words without life, where the great error and mistake hath been in all ages and generations. The great way of deceit hath long been (and itill is) by a form of godliness, without power: be sure ye be not thus deceived ; for if ye miss of the power which laves, ye cannot but perish for ever. And what if the appearance of the Spirit and power of our Lord Jesus Christ inwardly, which is that which faves, be as strange to your sense, understanding, and judgment, as his outward appearance was unto the people of the Jews? Take heed of their spirit, take heed of their judgment, who judged according to the appearance of things to them, which they imagined and conceived from the scriptures, but judged not the true and righteous judgment, which only the children of the true wisdom can.
POST SCR I PT.
THERE are four or five things very precious, which were generally
witnessed in the days of the apostles among the true Christians, which are all mentioned together, Heb. vi. 4; 5.
First, They were truly enlightened.
gospel were sent by Christ, to turn men from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, Acts xxvi. 18. 1 John i. 5. And they were faithful in their ministry, and did turn men from the darkness and power of Satan to the light of God's holy Spirit; and they were enlightened by it, and received power through it, and so came to be children of the light, and to walk in the light, as God is in the light.
Secondly, They tasted of the heavenly gift.
What is the heavenly gift which Christ gives to those who come unto him, and become his Theep? He gives them life, eternal life, John X. 27, 28. He brings them out of death, and gives them a favour and taste of the life which is eternal. This was it which the apostles teftified of, even of the life which was manifested in that body of Aesh of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 John i. 2.); and they that turn from the darkness to his light, he gives them a taste of the same life.
Thirdly, They were made partakers of the Holy Ghost.
The gospel is a day of bringing forth the spiritual feed, and of pouring out the holy Spirit upon them. The law state is a state of servants; the golpel of fons! and because true believers in Christ are fons, God sent forth the