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the voice behind thee, calling thee from every false way (which is pol-
What it is: Where it is to be found : Who fowed it there: What
is hid or wrapped up in it: What is its Nature : What its Ef
fects: Of its Growth, and Hindrances thereof: Of its Blessed·ness, and how it makes Blessed? How Christ is formed of
this Seed; and how the Soul is Born of this Immortal Seed.
Firit, TT THAT the feed is?
kingdom is the word of the kingdom. It is a measure of the light and life, of the grace and truth, which is by Jesus Christ, whereof in him is the fulness. It is an heavenly talent, or manifestation of his Spirit in the heart, which is given to man for him, in the virtue and strength of Christ, to improve for God. This which God hath placed in man, to wit. ness for himself, and to guide man from evil unto good in the pure breathe ings, quickenings, and shinings of it) this is the seed, which is freely beftowed on man, to spring up and remain in him, and to gather him out of himself, into itself. .
Secondly, Who is the fower of this feed ?
Anfre. God, in and through Christ. He is the good husbandman. He, by the word which created all in the beginning, creates a-new in Christ Jefus, renews his workmanship in man, and puts a measure of this word of Spirit of life in man's heart, whereby he renews him; and they that are thus renewed by him, are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works. Thirdly, Where is this feed to be found?
..Anfw. Where God sows it, which is in the inward earth. It is an in
ward feed, and it is sowed in inward land or earth; that is, in the hearts of men. There the light of the word shines, there the life of the word is felt, stirring secretly in and quickening those that were dead in trespasses and sins. There the voice and call of the word is heard, calling from unrighteousness and fin, to righteousness and holiness.
Fourthly, In what sorts of earth is this beavenly feed fown?
Answ. In all sorts ; in thorny ground, stony ground, highway ground, and good ground. God's inward lightenings enlighten the inward world throughout; so that God hath not left any man without a witness in his conscience against sin. So that, though man's conscience be corrupt, and his light become darkness, yet God's witness in his conscience can never be corrupted; but whenever it witneffech there, it witnesseth the truth for God, and against man, and the corruption and searedness of his heart and conscience.
Fifthly, In what sort of earth it brings forth good fruit to perfection.
Answ. Only in the good ground. It brings forth fruit in other grounds, and the fruit it brings forth is good. The convictions are good, the defires begotten there by it, and that arise from it, are good. The leaving off of some bad things, and doing some good things, is good, but the thorns, the cares, the worldliness, the fear of persecution, that spring up from another root, and are of another nature, choak the good which the feed brings forth in the thorny ground, and Itifle and choak the feed itself also, in such kind of grounds. But in the good ground which yields its whole nourishment to the good feed, and will not yield nourishment to any bad; the good seed not only springs up, but brings forth fruit to perfection, · Sixthly, How may the ground that is bad be made good? Was not the ground which is now good, once bad; and may not the ground which is now bad, be made good?
Antw. God hath shut up all men in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all. The heart that is now soft, was once hard. The heart that is now believing, was once in the unbelief. The heart that now loves God, was once in the enmity. The plough of God, put into the thorny ground, tearing it up, and rooting out the thorns thereof, will change its nature; and make it become better.
Break up your fallow ground; row not among thorns; said, God to his Israel of old. And the stony ground, if the stones be picked out of it, will be less stony ; yea, not at all stony, if all the stones be picked out. And the highway ground, being inclosed, and dressed by God's Spirit and power, will be no longer common or highway ground. Doth, not man, by care, art, and industry, change the nature of outward land or ground ? Surely then the Lord, by the word of his power, by his inward destroying of evil, and creating good anew, can change the nature of ground inwardly.
Now for the clearer and plainer signifying of what yet remains on my heart, concerning this precious feed of life, or feed of the kingdom of God; I shall distribute it under these three heads; under which the things mentioned in the foregoing title will be comprized.
1. What is hid or wrapped up in this seed,
What is bid or wrapped up in this precious beavenly Seed. Answ. INDEED there is so much wrapped up in it, as the heart of
man cannot conceive, much less the tongue utter ; yet somewhat have I felt, and somewhat is upon my heart, to say in answer to this thing under these four heads following.
First, The glory of the kingdom of heaven, the glory of the everlasting kingdom, is hid and wrapped up in it as in a feed. Whatever Christ appears, reigns, and shines in, is there as in a feed. Oh! the shootings forth, and spreadings abroad of it, are indeed glorious and excellent! How can a man almost speak concerning it! the thing icself (being inwardly felt, known, and enjoyed) is so far beyond all words! What doth the kingdom of God stand in? It stands not in word, but in power. The power is hid and wrapped up in this feed. The pure power of life is in this seed. The sword that pierceth Leviathan, that woundech the Serpent's head, that cutteth Rahab and the dragon, is in this feed. Doth the kingdom of God confift in righteousness, peace, and joy in God's Spirit ? This is all in this seed, and is partaken of and enjoyed, as this feed springs up, and gains authority and dominion in the heart. Yea, the horn of God's anointed, the righteous and peaceable scepter of the Saviour, is known and exalted in this feed, as it springs up, and spreads abroad in the life and virtue of the Father. i
Secondly, The divine nature of God Almighty is hid and wrapped up in it. It is the feed of God, and it is of the very nature of God; and he in whom it springs, and who is gathered into it, born of it, and one with it, partakes of the divine nature. Peter speaks of the great and precious promises, whereby the saints are made partakers of the divine nature. All the promises are to the seed of promise, to Christ the Son of God, to the feed of God, to the heirs of life and salvation in Chrift; and they are all fulfilled to them, and enjoyed by them, who are ingrafted into, and one with Christ the feed; which cannot be, but by the grace, by the truth, by the light, life, Spirit, and power, which he fows in the heart; which are not many chings, but all contained and comprehended in the one feed.
,- Tbirdly, All the graces and virtues of God's Holy Spirit are hid and wrapped up in this one seed. There is nothing God can require of the soul, nor nothing the soul can desire of God, but is hid and wrapped up in this feed. So that all that is needful, or all that can be desired, is the growing and spreading of this seed in the soul, and the soul's gathering into it, and its living, dwelling, abiding, and acting in it. And oh! the great difference between the soul's selfish striving and willing, and running, to join to God and Christ, and to live in God and Chrift; and God's joining it to himself and his Son in this seed, and its living, willing, and acting, in the · Springing life of this feed! To make this a little more plain and evident to the hearts of those that desire the true understanding of this thing, I shall
instance in some particulars. . . ... First, The pure, living, heavenly knowledge of the Father, and of his
Son Christ Jesus, is wrapped up in this feed. God is light; and this feed, which comes from him, is not darkness, but light; and in the springing light of this seed, God and Christ are revealed. The divine nature of them Springs up in the seed (and if I know their nature, I know them); yea, here we (whom the Lord hath visited, and shewn mercy to, though men despise us) know the righteous Spirit of Christ, the righteous nature of Christ, the righteous life of Christ, and feel him to be one with the Father, who begets of the fame Spirit, nature, and life in us. And he that is born of the Spirit, is Spirit, and he that is united to the Lord is one Spirit ; and he that is united to the feed, to the measure of grace and truth from Christ (wherein and whereby the soul is united), is united to God, and ingrafted into Chrift; and as the seed is formed in him, Christ is formed in him; and as he is formed and new-created in the seed, he is the workmanship of God, formed and new-created in Chrift.
. Secondly, Faith, the true faith, the lively, effectual, saving, conquering faith, which gives victory over the world, and over the devil and his temp.tations, is contained or wrapped up in this feed. Faith is the gift of God, the precious gift of God; which is not found in man's nature, but springs and grows from the precious feed of the kingdom, which God fows in man's heart. So that it is a gift to be waited for, and obtained from God. Therefore the apoftle Peter, writing to the saints in his time, directs his epistle thus, To them who have obtained like precious faith with us, through the righteousness of God, and our Saviour Jesus Christ, 2 Peter i. 1. Faith is a precious thing, a righteous thing, an holy thing, which God is the giver of, which Christ is the author and finisher of, and it springs from the holy root, from the holy feed of life and righteousness, which God sows in the heart. This faith (I speak not of man's ability of believing, or the faith which is found in man's nature) is the faith of God's elect, Tit. i. 1. The faith . which God gives to them that are born of hin, john i, 12, 13, who are born of the feed incorruptible, by the word of God which liveth and abideth for ever, i Peter i. 23. which word being nigh in the mouth and