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is baptized, he that is walhed by the Spirit, comes out of the water clean; and watching to the light wherein he was purified, witnefseth the powerful word of life as able to preferve in cleanness, as it was to cleanse. · But if there be not a watch to, and faith in, and single-hearted obedience to, that which purified, and keepeth pure, there is that near which will defile, where it is hearkened to and let in; there is that which will rempt to luft and sin, and so draw into darkness and death again. And if any man fin afterwards, fin defiles again, and the stain thereof will lie upon the conscience, till by repentance and faith the water and blood be let in again, and the cleansing virtue from it received and restored again. So that if any man sin, there is an * advocate, an interceffor, a divine helper, one who hath the water of life, and the blood of life to wash with. There is a fountain set open for sin, and for uncleanness, for Judah and Jerusalem to wash therefrom ; but every defilement and pollution sticks until it be washed off. .
Now there are sins of several kinds. Some are easily remitted and washed off, insomuch as the stain is hardly felt by the foul, the tender mercy and pure life doch so readily and naturally flow over them. Some again are long held and bound by the Spirit upon the conscience, and often remembered to the heart, which is apt to backside : yea, there is in some cases à severe judgment, and a long waiting on the Lord for his mercy, and for his renewing and enlivening of faith, before the water and blood which washeth can be again felt. For faith is not in a man's power, nor repentance neither ; but they are given of God, to whom and when he pleaseth. And a man that is in part converted, may give ear to the enemy, and let in sin and death upon the soul; but he cannot repent again presently, nor believe again presently; but as God breathes upon him, and revives the work of faith and repentance in him.
There were sins under the old covenant, and there are fins under the new. The sins of the old covenant did lie upon him that committed them, until they were expiated according to the law of the old covenant ; and fins under the new covenant lie also upon the soul and conscience, until they be expiated according to the law of the new covenant, which is until the advocate interpose and plead with the Father, and give faith and repentance to the soul, and sprinkle upon the heart and conscience that water and blood which hath virtue in it to wash. And if it were not for this after-washing (as I may so fay) no man could be saved: but though he were once washed, yet finning again afterwards, he would die in his Gins (and fo fall under condemnation), unless he were again washed. Oh ! blessed be the name of the Lord, for the water and blood of the covenant, and
that fin wilfully after they have received the
* But this is not the state of them knowledge of truth.
for his continual pouring them out upon the souls of his, in the light that is eternal !
Now as men come to the truth as it is in Jesus, they will find their own aprehensions about these things to have been but dreams, wherewith the enemy hath fed and pleased them, while he hath lulled them asleep in the night of darkness, that he might the better steal away the true weighty knowledge of the things of the kingdom from them. Thus men have dreamed about justification, about sanctification, about regeneration, about redemption, about faith, hope, love, righteousness, peace, joy, &c. And have been mistaken about them, missing of that power and light whereby and wherein they are revealed and made manifest. Now he that will rightly know these things, must know them in the feeling and true experience, and therein he shall find all these are wrought in a mysterious way of pure life's operation, out of the reach of man's comprehension; and no man can understand them, but as the new and holy understanding is given him ; nor retain the sense and knowledge of them, but as he abides in the new nature, and retains the new understanding.
So for the garment of salvation; that is Christ, the righteousness of Chrift, the nature of Christ, the Spirit of Christ. This is the holy covering. He that puts on Christ, puts on this: he that wears Christ, wears this: he that appears before God in Christ, appears in this; and the soul puts on this, as it puts off the other. It is the purified soul that only puts on him that is pure: and as a man is cleansed from the impure, so only hath he in him a capacity of receiving and being cloathed with Christ. And this now is the work of the true ministry; to wit, to preach the Word, to reveal the Word, and bring the mind to the Word (which changeth it, and begets the new capacity), and so to begin the work of life and reconciliation, wherein and whereby there is some uncloathing of the old, and some cloathing with the new; and so to carry on this work in the Spirit and power of the Father until it be perfected. And this is a blessed work, and blessed is the ministry which is called to, and entrusted with, this work, being faithful in it: and blessed are they that witness the truth of, and receive the effect of, this ministry, and are subject to it in the Lord. For through and under this ministry there is a receiving of a perfect gift in fome measure at first (wherein some true union and little acquaintance with the Lord of life is at first witnessed, and some operation of the light and power of his Holy Spirit): and a growing up in it unto perfection, as the soul is exercised by it, and faithful to the Lord in the exercise, under the daily.cross, which daily worketh against and crucifieth in the heart, mind, life, and conversation whatever is contrary to God, as it is singly waited for, taken up, and subjected to..
this: he that appearsets off the other. bhfed from the impuren
QUESTIONS and ANSWERS,
CONCERNING The Church of the New Covenant, the Rock or Foun
dation whereon it is built, and its Preservation by and upon the Rock. With some Queries concerning the scattered Estate of the true Church, and concerning that Church which got up in its stead, and made a great Shew with her golden Cup, for the Time while
the true Church was scattered. Quest. 1.
W H AT is the church of God under the new agreement or cove
VV nant? Answ. It is a company of living stones, quickened by God, and knit together in the unity and fellowship of his Spirit, to worship God together in his Spirit, and offer up. unto him fpiritual facrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. What was the church of the old covenant? Was it not the feed of Abrahain, the outward Jews, the children of the old covenant? And what is the church of the new covenant? Is it not the feed of God, the Jews inward, the children of the new covenant ?
Quest. How are these stones joined together?
Antw. By the Spirit of life, which begets them all in one nature, and knits them together in that nature. By the inward circumcision, cutting off that which causeth enmity and disunion, and so fitting them to be made one new lump in Christ. By Christ's baptism, which is the baptism of fire and of his Spirit, which burns up the old earthly nature, and so baptizes them into one new living body, suitable and fitting to their head, which is the fountain of life, and distributes life through all the body, according to its capacity, need, and service.
Queft. Úpon what is this church tuilt
Antw. Upon the rock or foundation of God, which God hath laid in his spiritual Sion; which rock is Christ. For other foundation can no man lay, than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ ; nor other rock did the Lord ever chuse for his church to be built upon; nor hath any other rock sufficient strength to bear up the building against the storms and strefs of the powers of darkness, which it often meeteth with, even every member, in its travels; after it is once built on the rock, the gates of hell press hard upon it, but abiding on the rock, it feels the strength and preservation of the rock. For as they cannot prevail against Christ, so neither can they prevail against that which is built upon him. But if there be a going forth from the strength and preservation, there is a liableness to be made a prey. And the promise is not absolutely and perpetually to that person or congregation which is received or let into the truth; but to that person or church which abideth and continueth in the truth unto the end. The Jews were safe in the faith and obedience of their covenant; and the Christians, or Christian churches, are not safe but in the faith and obedience of theirs. For if they walked not humbly with the Lord, and in his fear, which keeps the heart from departing from him, and in the faith whereby they stand, they were to be cut off from their church-state, as well as the Jews were from theirs, as the apostle Paul expresly tells the church at Rome, Rom. xi. 21, 22.
Quest. 4. What was Paul ? . . ' po · Anfw. The apostle of the Gentiles, who laboured abundantly, even more abundantly than all the other apostles; and hath left more instructions-relating to the Gentiles than all the apostles besides ; and was tender of them, in standing for and defending their liberty in Christ, when Peter a little warped, and was to be blamed, Gal. ï. 11. For indeed man cannot be certain and infallible, further than he keepeth to, and is exercised by, the certain and infallible Spirit; which he is subject to be tempted to err from, further than he stands upon the watch; and cannot but err from, unless he feel a continual preservation in the fear, and by the power of the Lord. And the certainty of truth doth not depend so much upon the person from whom it is received, as upon the demonstration and evidence to the con-, science wherein it is received. The apostles were not lords over the true Christians faith ; but helpers of their joy. And Christ did not require his disciples to believe whatever he knew to be true ; but prepared their capacities, and dropped in according to their capacities. And this is the way of the true ministers, to wait on God to beget, and on him again to water the begotten soul, and carry on his work in it; to make them know Christ their master, from whom they are to receive light, life, instruction, and direction; and to feel the head, and be joined to the head, and receive from the head their knowledge, as well the least as the greatest, Heb. viii. What is Paul ? What is Apollos? What is Cephas ? Were not they carnal that cried up these one above another? Yet the younger ought to be subject to the elder, and all to be subject one to another in the truth, 1 Pet. v. 5.
Queit. 5. What was Peter ?
Answ. One of the disciples of Christ, a precious stone in the building (John i. 43.) one of the most eminent apostles, even the chosen minister to VOL. II.
than he ftand. pirit; which he speth to, and
them of the circumcifion, as Paul was to the Gentiles. But he knew that Chrift was the only rock or foundation, as well as Paul, and that Christ alone was able to bear the weight of that building, and to defend it against the gates of hell, and he never had commission, nor, can it be proved that he ever preached himself the rock, but he preached, Christ the foundationstone, the rock of offence, the rock of defence; &c. see 1 Pet. ii. 4. and ver. 6, 7, 8. And if an angel from heaven, or any man or church on earth, so interpret any scripture, as to hold forth any fuch thing, that any else befides Christ is the rock, they plainly shew that they are erred from the truth, and that their interpretation is of their own private fpirit, and not that public Spirit which all the prophets of God, and apostles, and truly holy men, were guided by icons or
Queft. 6. Was the church always to be a gathered company? Or was there a posibility of their being scattered? * -Anfre. There was a possibility of their being scattered; year, a certainty, if they grew corrupt in doctrine and practice, and kept not the faith, Rom. xi. For the Lord God intended a pure building, a spiritual building, fit to offer the spiritual sacrifices, i Pet. ii. 5. An holy people, separated from the world, 2 Cor. vi. 17. in which he might dwell and walk, ver. 16. If therefore any church depart from the Spirit, and life, and power of the apostles, and mix again with the world, losing their own proper pale which fenced from the world, they soon lose that which maketh them a church of God, and fo become a synagogue of Satan. . , -, Now it is in my heart also to propound a few queries concerning the scattered and hidden estate and condition of the church, and concerning that church which got up in the view of the world, and was acknowledged by the world instead thereof afterwards.
Queft, 1. Whether the true church did retain her ministry outwardly, and her outward ordinances, and way of worship of the outward court, after her scattering? Or whether the false church, which appeared in her room as if she had been the true, caught up and appeared in the outwardness of these? The grounds of this query are these following ?
1. Because, upon God's measuring of his temple and worshippers, the outward court (consider well what that is, and how far ic extends) was left out of God's measure; so that he intended to reckon it no longer as his, but given by him to the Gentile Christians, such as were Christians or Jews. in name, but Gentiles in spirit and nature, Rev. xi. .
2. Because in the last days, when that strange generation of Christians was to spring up, who should be lovers of their own selves, covétous, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, truce-breakers, falfe-accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; yer these should have a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof, 2.Tim. iii. I, to 6. Now mind: the temple wherein was
power thereof, 2. Yin these should have a formovers of pleasures mort