Page images
PDF
EPUB

And thus men may come, waiting here in humility and fear upon the Lord, to judge true and righteous judgment concerning the appearances of God, and the things of his kingdom; which they can never do by their owh understanding, and comprehending things from the scriptures, out of the light and quickening life of God's Spirit. For man is dead, dark, and corrupt, but as he is quickened, enlightened, and his heart fanctified by God's Holy Spirit. What can a dead man fee? What can a dead man hear? Can he hear the living sound before he is quickened by it? Do not the scriptures relate, and treat of, fpiritual things ? And can the natural man understand them? Can man's unholy mind understand the words of God's pure Holy Spirit, which were given forth through vessels that were fanctified (fome from the womb), and when the Spirit of the Lord was upon them, and they gathered by his Spirit into an holy living fenfe ?

Oh! that men saw their need of the Lord, to open their hearts, and that felh might be filent in them, that they might come to witness the birth of God's Spirit, and the precious understanding of the heavenly things which is therein given! And then that understanding which is not precious, nor living, nor of God, but of themselves, would not be of so greaç value with them : for indeed, through this great mistake, many (fome whereof are zealous and knowing, according to the efteem of men) reject that which is of God, and set up that which is of themselves, even of their own apprehending and conceiving; which will be bitterness and sorrow in the latter end, when that eye shall be opened in them, which is at present closed in too too many

Blessed is he who can truly fay, The Lord bath opened an eye in me, even the true eye, the pure bye, the living eye; and with that eye I now fee; but with the eye wherewith I saw before, I now fee not : and now I know the difference between seeing the same things with my own eye, and with the eye which God bath given me. So ibat now my earnest desire and prayer to the Lord is, to keep open in me for ever that eye which he bath opened; and also to keep that eye but, which he in his tender mercy to me hath been pleased to close up in me.

And truly this is the ground of the great difference between us and others, about the things of God; for though we own the same things, and speak of the same things, yet we own them not alike, nor speak of them alike. Why so? Because we see them with different eyes, and so have a different sense of them.

Others call things true, and fo acknowledge them as they apprehend them from the letter: we call things true, as they are demonstrated to us by God's Spirit, and as we feel the virtue, life, and power of them from God, in our hearts.

Now this we are assured is the true way of knowledge; therefore is it our hearts desire (in true love to all, especially to those in whom there are any tender breathings after God), that people might fo wait upon the Lord,

as

more by himed those teachings Genfe, and in the quickvenant; which is a

as that they might be led by him into it, and quickened daily more and

And indeed those teachings and demonstrations of truth, which are given and received in the pure sense, and in the quickening life, they are the teachings of God's Spirit according to the new covenant ; which is a ministration not of the letter (no, not of those shadowy or dead things which are administered therein), but of the power and life. For the law is letter, but the gospel is Spirit and power. The gospel-state is a state of fulfilling those things in the Spirit and power of the endless life, in the new covenant, which were spoken of, promised, and shadowed out under the law in the old covenant.

XXIV.
Some Observations on 2 Pet. iii. 14, 15, 16.

.

Wherefore beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent; that ye may be

found of bim in peace, without spot and blameless. And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also, according to the wisdom given unto him, hath written unto you: As also in all his epistles ; Speaking in them of these things ; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures unto their own destruction.

[ocr errors]

Obferv. 1. W H AT Peter, Paul, and the rest of the holy men of God

VV wrote of. They.wrote of the grace of the gospel : they wrote of the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow, and the salvation of the soul; and true rest, which believers should receive, and enter into in him, i Pet. i. 2, &c. and Heb. iv. 39. They wrote concerning the times of reformation, wherein those things should be reformed under the recond covenant, which had been amiss under the first, Heb. viii. They wrote of the times of restitution, and refreshing from the presence of the Lord, Acts iii, 19. 21. For in the new covenant, there is a renewing and restoring; and the pure prefence of God, which refresheth, is witnessed and enjoyed there. They wrote of the everlasting kingdom, the kingdom which cannot be shaken, Heb. xii. 28. which stands in that power which shakes all things that may be shaken, but itself is unmoveable. They wrote of the day of the Lord, the day of the gospel, which brings darkness and confusion upon man's spirit and glory, and desolation upon his, buildings, melting and diffolving the old heavens and the old earth, wherein unrighteousness had a place, and bringing forth the new beavens and the new earth, wherein dwells righteousness, Ifai. li. 16.

For if any man be in Cbrift, there is a new creation ; old things pass away, and all things become new, at Christ's appearing in his glory in the heart ;

[ocr errors]

to which they that truly believe in him, cannot but haften; that the earth, with the works thereof, may be burnt up, and the heavens allo; that so the new heavens, and the new earth, may be inwardly witnessed and experienced, and the King of Glory found sitting on his throne, and reigning therein. A

Observ. 2. How Peter and Paul, with the rest of the apostles and holy men of God, wrote. They wrote according to the wisdom given unto them. They wrote not in their own wills, or according to their own wisdom; but kept to the gift and light of the Spirit, which they had received from the Lord. They waited to observe the Lord go before, the Spirit of the Lord move, and also give ability from the measure and gift of life, which he had bestowed upon them.

And there are the proper limits of writing and speaking under the ministration of the gospel; which is a ministration of the Spirit and power, and not of the literal knowledge of things, according to man's understanding and comprehension.

Obferv. 3. That there are some things in the writings of Paul (and in the other scriptures also), hard to be understood ; which every one that hath true life and true sense, does not at first understand, but only such as are grown to a capacity. For the writings of the apostles, and ministrations of the Spirit, are to several states and capacities, and can only be understood according to the growth and capacity of each state ; much less can the carnal mind understand or digest that which is high and spiritual.

Obferv. 4. That there are some among those whom the Lord visiteth, and reacheth to by his power, who do not attain to the knowledge of the truth, nor come to the establishment therein : fome that are always learning, but never come to the true, heavenly, spiritual knowledge of the things of God; some that know Christ only according to the letter, but not according to his Spirit and power. Some there are that learn in such a way, as they can never come truly and thoroughly to understand: for it is God that openeth the heart and ear; it is Christ who hath, and giveth, the key of knowledge; but many learn what they can of the things of God and Christ, without having their hearts and ears opened by the Lord, and without the true key of knowledge; and so those remain unlearned and unstable as to the mystery of godliness, as to the mystery of life and salvation, and as to the nature of the things of God's kingdom.

Observ. 5. That those who are unlearned and unstable in the mystery of truth, are wrefters of the scripture. They cannot understand things as they are, not having the key; and so they wrest them, and strive to make them speak, as they apprehend and would have them.

And here in this state, in this wisdom, is both adding to, and diminishing from, the holy words of truth: for in many places they add of their own conceivings, and in other places diminish from the drift and intent of God's Spirit.

Obferv.

Obferv. 6. That wresting the scriptures tends to the destruction of those that do it. God is the Saviour, and the holy words of the Saviour tend to save; but being bent aside by man's nature and spirit, they are not the same they were when they came from God, nor have at all that virtue and nature in them.

And indeed wresting the scriptures is an high, presumptuous, and provoking act, and brings God's displeasure against, and curfe upon, the soul.

Now it is impoflible for any man not to wrest the scriptures, unless he keep close to God's Spirit to receive from him the understanding of them; for ibe inspiration of the Almighty giveth understanding, and not another thing. God knoweth what he intendech, in the words he spake concerning the heavenly things; but man knoweth not, but as his spirit is opened and enlightened by the Lord.

Blessed is he who waitech upon and watcheth to God's Spirit in reading the Scriptures, not leaning to his own understanding and apprehension of things, but waiting to feel his mind opened and quickened by the Lord, that in the renewings of his mind he may learn of God that which is new and living, which is not comprehended in the letter (or in literal descriptions of things) but in the Spiric and power itself, which is the limits of the new covenant, out of which the children of life are not to depart, but to abide, dwell, and grow up therein.

XXV. Concerning the gospel ministry, or right way of teaching and learning

the mystery of life and salvation.

TI H EN Christ came in the fullness of time, in that body prepared for

V him by the Father (he who was filled with the Spirit, and anointed of God to preach the gospel), he preached the kingdom of God, bidding men seek it, directing them where to seek it, and how they might find it; telling them, in several parables, what it was like, and where to look for it, even within their own hearts; and that they might the better discern ir, shadowed out the being, nature, and properties of it, in several resem. blances. He compared it to a treasure bid in a field, which the wise merchant felleih all to buy; to a pearl bid in the earth; to a lost piece of silver, which ibey that sweep their own houses, and search with the true candle, may find; to a talent (for such is the free-gift of the pure and heavenly life); to leaven (hidden leaven); to a feed; to salt, &c.

So when Chrift fent his apoftles after him, in the fame Spirit and power wherein he himself came and ministered, he sent them to preach the fame thing, giving them this message to declare to men, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all; and that Christ is the way, the trutb and the life; and that the life was manifested; so that they heard, and law, and tasted, and VOL. II.

K k k

handled

håndled of it ; and so were to direct men how to come into fellowfhip with them in this life, and to walk in the light, as God is in the light.

Thus Paul likewise, who was sent after the rest, was sent to turn men fron darknefs to light, and from the power of Satan urto God. Acts xxvi. 18.

Now people being turned to the light (where they may receive understanding, and feel virtue, and know the anointing, and hear the voice of the shepherd), those who are over them in the Lord, and are made use of by him as instruments to turn their minds hither, may be sensible of their conditions, and may have a word of direction from God to fpeak to them. And this teaching is not the teaching of man, but the teaching of the holy anointing; and he that heareth this teaching, heareth Chrift; and he that rejecteth this teaching, rejects Chrift...

Yet (though the Lord pleaseth thus to minister from the heavenly tre2fure in some vessels, which he hath prepared for that end) people are not always to be expecting pensions, or portions of food from others without; but to know and to come to the bread and water of life in their own houses, that there they may eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, as all do who have true life in them. "Now to give forth precepts of holiness (as the way in the apoftafy hath been) before mens minds are turned to that which enlighteneth, and giveth power to believe and obey; that is not the way of the gospel; but the way of the gospel is to bring to the foundation of light and life in the particular, and so to dissettle the spirit from that which is dead, and found it upon that which is living; that a living building of pure life, of living materials, of living stones, may be raised up unto the Lord; in which temple he dwells and appears, exercising his authority and power.

· For indeed God dwelleth in the temples of his own building, which are built by and in his Spirit ; but in all other temples, which are built out of the Spirit, and only by men (not by God) in a way of imitation from the letter, in which they set up the likenesses of things, and fo fet themfelves to pray and preach, according to their apprehending and forming of things; I say, in these buildings the Holy Spirit of God dwelleth not; but that fpirit which hath thus deceived them.

And thus men erring in their hearts concerning the light, concerning the power, concerning the foundation (not knowing how it is indeed laid in Sion) concerning the scriptures of truth (which can only be understood in the light and inspiration of the Almighty, from whence they were given forth) they can never come to know Christ and his Spirit livingly revealed in power in their own hearts, nor the new and living way, and how to walk therein, nor the truth as it is in Jefus, according to the ministration of the New Testament (which is not after the letter, but after the Spirit), nor the new covenant, which is made with the soul in Chrift, wherein all things are made new, and the old dóne away; nor the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus written in the heart, which blots out the other law, even the

law

« PreviousContinue »