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Ah! if that candle were lighted in you, which ye so much reproach and despise the light of, ye might fee, that instead of fuffering with Christ, that which is of Christ in you (the pure light, the pure life of his Spirit) suffers by you, and the worldly spirit lives (Thail I add, and reignts) in you, under all your professions, knowledge, faith, worships, duties, Ordinances, as ye call them, who want the knowledge of the everlasting ordinance, even of the Spirit and power of our Lord Jesus Christ; which is the great ordinance and way of the gospel! And he that is subject to this ordinance shall be faved; but he that misseth of this, shall perish ; let him search the scriptures, and practise according to what he apprehends therefrom, as exactly as he can, without this Spirit and power.
A few Words concerning the Worship which our God hath taught us.
UR worship is a deep exercise of our spirits before the Lord, which
doth not consist in an exercising the natural part or natural mind, either to hear or speak words, or in praying according to what we, of ourfelves, can apprehend or comprehend concerning our needs; but we wait, in silence of the fleshly part, to hear with the new ear, what God shall please to speak inwardly in our own hearts, or outwardly through others, who speak with the new tongue, which he unlooseth, and teacheth to speak; and we pray in the Spirit, and with the new understanding, as God pleaseth to quicken, draw forth, and open our hearts towards himself.
Thus our minds being gathered into the measure, or gift of grace, which is by Jesus Chrift; here we appear before our God, and here our God, and his Chrift, is witnessed in the midst of us. :'
This is that gathering in the name, which the promise is to, where we meet together, waiting with one consent on the Father of life, bowing and confeffing to him in the name of his Son; and that Aeshly part, that fleshly understanding, that fleshly wisdom, that fleshly will, which will not bow, is chained down, and kept under by the power of life, which God stretcheth forth over it, and subdueth it by. So then, there is the sweet communion enjoyed, the sweet love flowing, the sweet peace of spirit reaped, which the Father breathes upon, and gives to his children; the sweet joy and refreshment in the Lord our righteousness, who causeth righteousness to drop down from heaven, and truth to spring up out of the earth. And so our Father is felt blessing us, blessing our land, blessing our habitations, delighting in us, and over us to do us good; and our land yields its increase to the Lord of life, who hath redeemed it, and planted the precious plants and seeds of life in it.
TOW this ought to be the great care of every renewed mind, even to I keep out that which is unclean. The enemy will be assaulting, tempeing, cafting into the mind that which is unclean; but the pure, chaste mind will not entertain or touch it, but withdraw and retire from it into the place of safety, into the strong tower of defence, from all the assaults and annoyances of the enemy. Such the Lord receiveth, such the Lord delighteth in as his dear children, and in every respect carrieth himself as a Father to; and this is a precious state truly to enjoy.
Now, blessed be the Lord, who hath revealed and bestowed on his sons and daughters, in these latter days, that light of his Holy Spirit, which searcheth the most inward parts, discovering every thing that is of a contrary nature to itself, turning and separating the mind therefrom, and bringing the mind, heart, soul, and spirit under that, which is a cross and yoke to it, and hath power from God to crucify and subdue it; that so life and immortality may be brought to light, and reign in the heart, and death and uncleanness be swallowed up in victory. For this is the intent of the gospel, and of Christ's appearance, even to destroy sin, and bring up the holy seed, and establish the law of the new covenant, the law of love, the law of life, righteousness, and holiness, in which the renewed should walk before the Lord all their days.
And God forbid, but that the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ (which is the power of God unto salvation), should attain its end, and the will of God be fulfilled; which is the fanctification of his people in soul, body, and fpirit; that they may be wholly leavened with the leaven of his kingdom, and become a new lump to him.
The Lord bring this to pass in the hearts of the children of men, bring. ing down all religions which have not the true virtue in them; and propagate and establish the religion more and more, which stands in the evidence, demonstration, virtue, and power of his own Spirit; that men may be redeemed out of, and preserved from, deceit, in matters of religion, wherein the eternal condition of their souls is so deeply concerned! Amen.
Reading the SCRIPTURES aright.
QUESTION. How may a Man know, whether he readeth the Scrip
tures to his Advantage and Benefit? Or whether he readeth them to his Disadvantage or Hurt?
T H AT the holy scriptures, written by men inspired by God's
Spirit, were of great use and benefit to those to whom they were
written (they rightly understanding them, and becoming subject to the voice of God's Spirit in those that wrote or spoke them) is an undeniable truth.
And that they were not only written for them, but for others allo, in future ages, who also may reap benefit in the reading of them; this is as manifeft.
Yet that men may so read them, as not to understand them aright, but misapply them to their own hurt; that is true also, and hath been often, and is still evidenced by lamentable experience.
The Jews, the Scribes and Pharisees, heard and read the law and prophets to their hurt; some in a spirit of direct opposition to the truths and will of God, held out by the prophets, others in a spirit of misunderstanding.
Thus the Scribes and Pharisees, in Christ's time, fo read the words of Moses and the prophets (who testified concerning the Son, and his coming, as that thereby they became strong, wise, and confident, in opposing him when he came. They thought they could prove by fcriptures, that this was not, could not be He: he was to be a glorious King, and to restore Israel. This was a mean man, a carpenter's fon; and so taught, and so behaved himself, that if men believed in bim, the Romans would thereby be provoked to destroy their place and nation. He was an eater, a drinker, a friend of publicans and finners, a frequent breaker of the fabbath, a Galilean, &c. And foall Cbrist come out of Galilee ? Search and look; for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet, John vii. 52. · As if they had said, can this be the Meffiah, of whom the scriptures have fo abundantly prophesied, who cometh out of Galilee, out of which the scriptures have not prophesied of so much as any prophet to arise? Thus they read the scriptures to their hurt.
And so afterwards, in the apostles days, men wrested the words of the apostles, as they did also the other scriptures, to their own destruction.
And since, in the apostasy from the apostles spirit, life, and doctrine, and the coming up of many fects, heads, and horns; which of them have not so read the scriptures, as to confirm themselves even in those very doctrines and practices, which are directly contrary to the doctrines, practices, and spirit of the apostles ?
Yea, since God's breaking the darkness of the night, and causing the light of his day again to arise, how do men read and understand scriptures ? Even so as to oppose this light, life, spirit, and power, now it is again made manifest ; thinking and judging its appearance now (according to their understanding of, and apprehensions on the scriptures) to be as contrary to its appearance in the apostles days, as the Scribes and Pharisees judged Christ's appearance in their days, to be different from, and contrary to, what the prophets had prophesied concerning the Messiah.
Therefore it is a matter of very great weight, for a man to know when he reads the scriptures aright, that his table (whereon he feeds, and by which food he hopes to live to God, and be accepted with him) become not his snare, and set him further off from God. For it is as true in this day, as it was in Christ's day; that publicans and harlots are nearer the kingdom, than those who are in the spirit, wisdom, and righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees; who have a knowledge, a belief, an hope, a zeal, &c. from a misunderstanding of the scriptures; for this is wrong in a mystery of deceit, which is worse in its nature, and more dangerous to the person in whom it is, and to the souls of others, than the deceit which is openly manifeft.
Well then; Is it not worth the diligent enquiry, and waiting upon God to know, What is the right reading of the scriptures; and whether a man so read them, as is to the benefit and profit of his foul, or to his lofs and detriment? To come then to the Answer, which is as followers in -Anw. He that reads the scriptures in a true mealure of life received from God, he reads them aright; and whenever he lo readeth, it is to his
benefit. benefit. He that readeth out of that, readeth to his hurt, that being then up in him, which misunderstands, misapplies, and grows conceited, wise, and confident, according to the flesh; and so he is thereby liable to, and in great danger of, setting up his interpretations, instead of the meaning of God's Spirit; and of condemning that which doth not affent and agree therewith, though it be ever so necessary and precious a truth of God, and ever to fully demonstrated by his Spirit, to those who are in the true faith and understanding. .
The true birth is meek, tender, gentle, fearing before the Lord, waiting upon him, often crying to him, that it may not be deceived, that a wrong thing get not up in it; that it receive not any thing for truth, but what he knoweth to be truth; and when the Lord pleaseth to give the true knowledge, that it hold that knowledge of his truth in righteousness, in his life, in his will, in his wisdom, &c. But the wrong birth is not so, nor is its course thus; but that is subtil in searching and forming of things, and holding them in the subtilty, and drawing the wrong part in others to own and acknowledge that, which it represents and holds forth as truth.
There is a wisdom in man, which is against God; which wisdom opposeth the wisdom of God two ways; either in a direct, opposite way, or in a fecret, subtil, undermining way. Now no man can come to God, or truly understand or receive the things of God, but as this wisdom comes to be confounded and destroyed in him, by the light and power of God. All its strong-holds, all its subtil imaginations, all its reasonings and consultings must be dalhed, and brought to nought, before the truth of God can have full place and power in the heart. Now in the true discovery of this wildom to man, and in his denial of it, watching against it, and turning to the other; he may wait upon God aright, receive the knowledge of the heavenly mysteries aright, read the scriptures aright, come to the true fenfe, understanding, and experience of them; but at any time, so far as he is out of this, he is liable to the snare, to the misunderstanding of scriptures, and to the fleshly confidence that ariseth thereupon. So that, having taken up 3 misunderstanding of a scripture, or some fcriptures; he will even boldly venture to fpeak evil of the heavenly and spiritual dignities, which are of God, and the holy truths which are held forth by his holy minifters; against the prophets in their day, against Christ and his apostles in their day, against the witnesses in the times of the apostasy, and against the angel (learn who that is) that is to preach the everlasting gospel again, after the apoftaly. Ah! how doth this wisdom destroy and entangle; and how hath it destroyed and entangled many at this day, who think they are greatly for God in those things and practices, wherein they are directly against him; and that they only oppose error, and a wrong spirit, when they are opposing his truth and his holy Spirit! And it is impossible it should be otherwise, while they judge and act from that which is wrong, and in that which is wrong. Now mark;
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