"I HAVE been treating of the inward work, as it is wrought in the heart by the power, and brought to the sensible experimental knowledge of the creature; yet would not be so understood as if I made void what was done without by Christ in his own person, or any of those ends and purposes for which it was wrought, and appointed so to be done by the Father: though this I know, that the knowledge of those things, with the belief therein, or any practices and observations therefrom,
without the life, can no more profit now, than the Jews
literal knowledge of the law could profit them, when they
were rejected therewith."
SOME QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS FOR THE OPENING of the EYES OF THE JEWS NATURAL.
Quest. WHAT was the rise of that people the Jews?
Ans. They came of Abraham after the flesh, who was God's friend, whom God took from his father's house, and from his native country (where he was worshipping and serving idols) to be the stock and pattern of the faithful; both of the Jews according to the flesh, and of the Jews in spirit. Of this root, of this stock, came this people according to the flesh, who were an holy nation, a circumcised people, a sanctified people outwardly; and (as long as their day lasted) were the beloved of God, the pitied, the pardoned,
the redeemed ones, even until the shadows were finished, and the season came for the substance to appear and be set up in the world; whereof they had the first offer also, and out of whom was the first gathering for the spiritual building. But they generally hardening their hearts, and cleaving to the wisdom and knowledge which their wise ones had taught them, (from their misunderstanding the letter of the scriptures) missed of the Spirit, rebelled against the redeeming power, and so lost their share in the inward glory, and by God's righteous hand were cut off from their outward also, their day being spent, and the blood, not only of the prophets, but of the Son and heir himself also, required at their hands.
Quest. How came this people to be the chosen people at first, and so long to continue such?
Ans. It was not for their righteousness, not for
their loveliness, or pliableness to God above other people; but because it pleased the Lord freely to love them, and to pitch upon them for the people of his choice after the flesh, in the free covenant which he made with Abraham. The earth is the Lord's, with the fulness thereof, and he may choose whom he will to fill with his inward and spiritual glory, (even with the manifestations of his pure love, life, and presence) and he may also choose whom he will to make outwardly or typically beloved, great, and glorious. He chose Abraham freely, he gave to Abraham an heart to follow him, he gave him the saith and obedience which made him accepted with him; and he chose his seed after the Spirit to be his eternal heir, and his seed after the flesh to be his temporary heir. Thus of Isaac in Spirit, came the children of the promise in Spirit; and of Isaac after the flesh, came the seed of promise after the flesh. Sarah after the flesh bare one of these: the Sarah represented by her (or the free woman which is from above) bare the other. And of Isaac comes Jacob, worm Jacob, who serves for his wife; who flies from the face of Esau, yet afterwards finds favour in his eyes. From this worm do the twelve patriarchs branch forth, who were the heads of the tribes of Israel. Thus hath it been with that nation according to the letter; and thus it hath also been, and is still, inwardly in Spirit; as the Israel of God, the Jews in Spirit (who are learned in the law of the Spirit of life) can very well read. Thus outwardly
Israel was God's child, Ephraim his dear, his beloved, his pleasant son; Judah his praise, whom his heart was towards, and to whom he stretched forth his arm of salvation all the day long. In all their affliction
he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them; and he said, Surely they are my people, children that will not lie; so he became their Saviour. Thus it was with them, till the day of Israel after the flesh expired, and the day of Israel in Spirit was to succeed in the sight of the world.
Quest. What was the end for which God chose that people?
Ans. It was to be a vessel for him to form, to try
and experiment what his love could bring them to, and bring forth in them in that way of manifestation and operation. This God opens to Jeremiah concerning them, bidding him go down to the house of the potter; where, in a parable, they might read their own state, and what they were to expect from God, even to be formed by God unto the utmost, until he had made a perfect trial of them, and then to be broken and laid aside, as a vessel that could never
be fitted for the Master's use in this way of dispensation,
Jer. xviii. 4. On the Lord's part there was no defect towards his child, his spouse, his vineyard,
his garden of pleasant plants (as this people was in that dispensation); for he was still a Father to them,
faithful in covenant, tender in bowels, abundant in loving-kindness and mercies: yea, what could be expected from the Lord towards a people, according to that dispensation, which the Lord failed in? But they were still faithless, continually breaking covenant, erring
from his dear and tender love, and drawing down the strokes of his wrath upon them; forsaking the guide of their youth, forgetting the love of their
espousals; continually starting aside from the right state, wherein God pleased at first to set them, or at any time afterwards in any measure to reduce them.
Quest. How did God exercise and try them to the utmost, even till at length it was plainly manifest, that
there was no firm keeping a people to him by virtue of that
dispensation; but he must necessarily cut them off, choose
another people, and take another course; if he would have
a people for his heart to love and delight in, and for them
to enjoy and possess him?
Ans. He tried them several ways, and in several
states and conditions; as, First, In a state of captivity
in the land of Egypt. Secondly, In a state of straits and continual dependence upon God, even for necessaries, in the wilderness. Thirdly, In a state of enlargedness in the land of Canaan, which flowed with plentiful provisions for the outward man (which were also shadows and instructions concerning the inward blessedness). Fourthly, In often captivities. Fifthly, In returns to their land again, with settlement and peace, and many blessings therein.
Quest. How did God try them in Egypt?
Ans. First, With sore bondage and oppression from
Pharaoh and the Egyptians. Secondly, With giving them the feeling of their state, the sense of their bondage,
and causing them to cry unto the Lord for deliverance. Thirdly, In raising up a deliverer, and giving them a sign of the deliverance by the hand of the deliverer, in his smiting of an Egyptian, and saving an Hebrew. Fourthly, In sending the deliverer to them, with promises of deliverance, and with signs and symptoms of the delivering power. Fifthly, In pardoning their unbelief and rebellions against him in Egypt, and shewing many signs and wonders for them in that land, till at length he had brought them forth by his mighty out-stretched arm, even against the will and mind of Pharaoh and their task-masters.
Quest. How did God find them in Egypt upon this trial?
Ans. Very unbelieving, very stubborn, misinterpreting his sign of deliverance, reasoning against his promise, because it came not so soon, and after the manner they expected. When he lifted up his hand to them to redeem them from under Pharaoh, to bring them forth out of the land of bondage, to the good land he had espied for them, and bid them forsake the idolatrous worships of Egypt, and not defile themselves any longer therewith; because he was now to become the Lord their God, and to appear in his power for them; yet they would not, Ezek. xx. 5, &c. When Moses would have reconciled an Hebrew to his brother, he would not hear him; but upbraided him for slaying the Egyptian, not waiting on God to understand the figure, but misinterpreting and abusing it in the fleshly mind. When the deliverance succeeded not according to their expectations, they murmured against Moses and Aaron; and when God sent them again with a fresh promise, they would not mind it. Yet God bare with all this in them, and did not cast them off, but assuaged his wrath, and stirred up his love to make a further trial of them.
Quest. How did God try them in the wilderness?
Ans. By many temptations, signs, and wonders; by
powerful appearances for them against their enemies; by bringing them into many straits; by unexpected and impossible supplies (I mean impossible to the sight or expectation of the outward eye); as with bread from heaven, multitudes of quails, water from the rock, keeping their clothes and shoes from wearing out and decaying. Likewise he gave them an holy and righteous law to inform their minds in equity and righteousness; directing them in an holy way of walking with God, and one towards another, and chalking out unto them an acceptable path of worship; and this law was delivered in great majesty, dread, and terror, to cause a deep impression thereof upon their minds.
Quest. How did God find them in the wilderness?
Ans. Full of discontent; full of murmuring; full of self-will; full of doubts and questionings concerning God's power. They did not wait on him, who had delivered them out of the hand of Pharaoh, and from under the Egyptian task-masters; but they murmured against him. They did not wait for food or water when they wanted, but distrusted and complained; repining at Moses and Aaron, and sometimes talking of making a captain to lead them backward. Neither were they content with the provision which God allotted them, (that was mean in their eyes) but they would have flesh. Though the manna (the light bread as they esteemed it) of God's choice, and with God's blessing, had been far better for them, than the flesh, with his curse upon that lust which asked it, and would not be content without it. Again, they would not go on towards Canaan, or fight when God would have them, and when his strength would have gone along with them; but when he forbad them, of their own will, and trusting to their own strength, they would go on and fight. It is a sad record which Moses (their tender shepherd, who with the eye of true light had faithfully observed them) lest concerning them, Deut. ix. 24. You have been rebellious against the Lord, from the day that I knew you.
Quest. How did God deal with them in reference to the
land of Canaan?
Ans. First, He prepared them for it. Secondly, He dispossessed their enemies, and placed them in it, giving them an inheritance according to their own will. Thirdly, He poured down blessings upon them therein.
Quest. How did God prepare them for the good land?
Ans. First, By many afflictions and exercises in
the wilderness, wherein he judged and wore out the rebellious
generation, (who were consumed with dying) and raised up their children in the awe and dread of his mighty power. Secondly, By giving them a righteous law to walk by in every respect, that they might not be to seek how to please God, or how to walk
one towards another, or towards the heathen among them, or round about them; but in every thing might be rightly instructed. Thirdly, By warning them of their own proneness to err from God, and of the danger thereof, both in relation to the loss of mercies, and drawing down of judgments; that they might watch against the erring nature and transgressing spirit in their hearts. Fourthly, By appointing a way of sacrifice and mediation, whereby God might be atoned, either for particular persons, or for the land in general.
Fifthly, By directing them to a principle as near to them, and more strong than the unrighteous principle; whereby they might be preserved in the obedience of the law, and from out of the reach of the curse.
Quest. How did God find them in their own land?
Ans. That generation which was thus prepared, thus
taught, thus directed, walked sweetly with the Lord, and was a precious favour in his nostrils; but soon after
the evil thing sprang up again in the generations following, and they did quickly corrupt themselves, departing from the Lord, and running a whoring after their own hearts lusts, Judg. ii. 7, &c.
Quest. How did God deal with them then?
Ans. He brought them judgment upon judgment, still weightier and weightier upon them, according as their need required, exercising loving-kindness and mercy towards them, as much as possibly their estate could bear. He sent his prophets to forewarn them of the wrath, that they might be spared, if possible; and when his judgments and severity came, he mingled mercy therewith, that by both he might try to the utmost what they might be wrought to. He tried them a long while under the judges, and a long while under the kings, often recovering them and setting them to rights, expecting the fruit of his rod and of his love towards them,
Quest. What was the result of God's trying them under
the judges and kings?
Ans. They wearied out God's prophets; yea, they wearied out the Lord also in that way of dispensation. They chose the false prophets before the true, lying divinations before the openings of life, and dead idols before the living God. The kindnesses and mercies of God were wasted upon them, for with his love they were not drawn; the bellows also were burnt, the lead consumed, the heat of the furnace spent upon them, and yet their tin and dross not purged away. Under the judges they tried out the Lord's patient expectation of good from his delivering hand, insomuch as he resolved to deliver them no more, Judg. x. 13. Under the kings they were as unruly, (whether good kings or bad kings, given in love or wrath) insomuch
as the Lord said, Why should ye be stricken any more? Ye will revolt more and more, Isa. i. 5. There was, indeed, no bending of Israel after the flesh, and keeping him strait to God, in that way of dispensation; therefore must he be cast off; even becoming reprobate silver in the sight of the whole earth, because the Lord would reject him.
Quest. How came Israel after the flesh to be rejected?
Ans. His day of flesh was out, and the day of
spirit was come, wherein the spiritual glory (which was to succeed the shadows of the fleshly) was to be set up; and so he not seeing that, nor entering into that, his own sun set, and he hath abode in the darkness unto this day.
Quest. How came be not to see the spiritual glory?
Ans. Because the eye of the flesh was open in him;
which eye cannot see it. He read the law in a gathered light, in the light of the earthly wisdom, and not in the light of the spring from whence it came; and then how could he possibly understand the law aright? Could he then choose but set up the shadows of the law in the stead of the substance which was veiled therein? He read Moses with the eye which can see but to the veil, and not to the glory which was revealed to Moses, and which Moses hid under the veil. And thus likewise he beheld the prophets, in the days of their appearance; not in the light in which they appeared, but in the light of his own reason and
imaginations; and upon this ground the Jews still chose and cried up the false prophets, but persecuted the true. Now not seeing Moses in spirit, nor the prophets in spirit, how could they see him who was greater than the prophets; he looking so contemptibly to the sight of that eye wherewith they expected to see him? It is the Jew in spirit who alone can see and own the Messiah in spirit: yea, no fleshly Jew could possibly discern him then, whose eternal life, light, and power, was hid under so mean a veil. He must be more than a Jew after the flesh, who can own so much as the law, or any of the prophets in spirit; and then surely it can require no less than inward Jewship to discern the Messiah himself. They knew by the letter that then he was to come and appear; but they could not know by their observations from the letter which was he; but alone by the pointing of the finger of the Spirit, which they were unacquainted with.
Quest. What did they do to him, not seeing his glory?
Ans. They dealt with him as they had dealt with
the prophets before him, disdained him that he should claim to be the Son of God, slighted him, reviled him, reproached him, preferred Moses and the prophets above him (who all did but declare of him); yea, at last they preferred a thief and murderer before him, and put him to death after that manner that the prophets had foretold they would do.
Quest. Did the prophets foretell that the Jews would
put the Messiah to death?
Ans. Yea, very manifestly, with the manner and circumstances thereof. Daniel said plainly that the Messiah should be cut off; though not for himself, chap. ix. 26. Isaiah shews the cause why he was cut off; to wit, For the transgression of my people was the stroke upon him, chap. liii. 8. He was the Lamb without spot; there was no iniquity found in his heart, nor guile in his mouth; but he offered up his spotless soul (through the eternal Spirit) as a ransom for the souls of transgressors, and with his bruise are they healed. David shews yet more particularly how he should be cut off, They pierced my hands and my feet, Ps. xxii. 16. And Zachary saith, that afterwards, in the days of their visitation, they shall look on him whom they have pierced, chap. xii. 10. Was he not betrayed by one of his own table? Ps. xli. 9. Did they not cast lots for his garments, Ps. xxii. 18. Was not gall also given him, and vinegar to drink? Ps. lxix. 21. Were not his bones kept from being broken, according to the paschal lamb, the type? Exod. xii. 46. Oh! that the Jews could read the words of their own prophets in the light of the prophets, and not in the light of man's imagination; and then they could not but bow before the spring and fountain of that light, as it was revealed in flesh according to the scriptures, and see how that body was prepared for the light to shine in, and for it to do the will in, and to offer up the sacrifice
which God would have, that so an end might be put to all the sacrifices and offerings which God would not have. Ps. xl. 6.Dan. ix. 27.
Quest. What was to befall the Jews for refusing the day of their visitation by the Messiah, and for the putting
of him to death?
Ans. They were to be cast off, to become no
people, their covenant to be broken, their glory turned into shame, their light set in obscurity, their house made desolate, and the hand of God pursuing this desolate people, making them a scorn and reproach throughout all nations, Dan. ix. 27. And is not this come to pass upon them? For what person hath been more hateful and hated than a Jew, who was once the glory and envy of all nations? Yea, hardness and blindness have so happened to them, that they cannot see the plainest things written in the prophets concerning
the expiration of the day of Moses with all his shadows, and the succeeding of the spiritual glory in the days of the Messiah; but their eyes and hearts are still blinded, and held captive in the figures of things.
Quest. Is there any scripture of the prophets which declareth that they should be thus blind and hard?
Ans. The Spirit of the Lord in the prophet David
(the beloved king, and figure of the Messiah) prayed for this righteous recompence to them. Let their table become a snare before them, and for welfare a trap. Let their eyes be darkened that they see not, &c. Let their habitation be desolate, &c. Ps. lxix. 22, &c. What is their table? Where and on what do they seed? Is it not on the writings of Moses and the prophets? Now all the meanings, observations, and hopes which they gather from these (being under the curse, and out of the Spirit of the prophets) cannot but be that snare and trap; and that which entangleth them deeply to this day is, their
misunderstanding and misinterpreting of Moses and the prophets. O Lord, my God, in the abundant riches of thy goodness, at length pity them, and let the fierceness of
thine indignation abate towards them, and in thy love open their
eyes, to see their state, and what they have refused, and
against whom they have lift up their heel, in their
conceited wisdom and knowledge, which they have gathered from Moses and the prophets writings, that they may mourn after
thee, and wait for thee in the way of thy redemption!
Quest. How long is this desolation and hardness to
abide upon them?
Ans. Until God visit them with his Spirit, and
open their eyes to see his spiritual glory, and turn their hearts towards it. Then their outward expectations and desires after an outward glorious kingdom will soon come to an end, and the Messiah will be known, owned, and received by them in Spirit; yet any outward glory that the Lord God sees good for them, they shall not want neither. This the prophet Isaiah plainly relates to the ear that is spiritual, chap. xxxii. 15. (Until the Spirit be poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness be a fruitful field, and the fruitful field be counted for a forest) they must lie waste, until the Lord God please to let forth his Spirit upon them, to gather them into his spiritual glory: for the day of their outward glory did end, and a spiritual succeeded, which they are to be gathered into, when the days of their distress and tribulation are accomplished.
The Spirit was once poured down from on high on the disciples of the Messiah, upon his ascending into his glory, and the wilderness then became a fruitful field, and the fruitful field was accounted for a forest;
but over that glory the defence was not so stretched forth, but that a night overtook that day, and the wild beasts made a prey of that vineyard and fruitful field also, as well as of the former. But there is to be a more general pouring out of the Spirit, even upon all flesh, and the wilderness is more generally to be visited,
and become a fruitful field, and the fruitful field is more generally to be blasted and made a forest; insomuch as all flesh every where shall appear grass, and the glory thereof as the flower of the field, which shall
fade and wither before the breath of God's Spirit. Then judgment shall dwell in the wilderness which is then visited, and righteousness shall remain in the field
which is then made fruitful; and righteousness shall be powerfully operative, working out the lasting peace; and the effect of it shall be quietness and assurance for ever. No more war, no more fighting with creatures, no more burdening and oppressing of the creation, no more sinning and offending against the Creator, no more being dispossessed of his life and glory; but the dwellings which God reareth up in the last days for Israel his people shall be peaceable
habitations, sure dwellings, and quiet resting-places for evermore. O let Israel feel that which is able to awaken him, and wait for this!
Quest. How shall they be visited and gathered?
Ans. By the new covenant, by the new law of the
Messiah, which is to go forth out of the New Sion, and by the word of the Lord, which is to issue out of the New Jerusalem: not by the covenant of Moses (their eyes may fail in hoping and looking out that way), but by the covenant of the Messiah, where the law of the life is written; not in tables of stone, or outward writings of the letter, but in the heart by the Spirit. There they shall be cleansed by inward water, receive the inward circumcision, and mark of the inward Jew; be sprinkled with the everlasting blood of the Lamb, and taught to offer up the spiritual sacrifice,
and shall hear the voice which will tell them of the way, and which will lead them in paths they have not known. There the spiritual seed, the spiritual Israel, shall find the Shepherd of Israel, who leads into the land of life, puts forth his sheep into the pastures of life, gives them of the living streams to drink, begetting
them as heirs of, and bringing them up in, the everlasting power and dominion of the life.
Quest. How may old Israel enter into this path, and so become new Israel?
Ans. By waiting on the Lord for the closing of
that eye which is wise according to the flesh, and for the opening of that eye which is at first weak in spirit. There must be a low beginning: Israel must know and not despise the day of small things, if ever he will grow up into the riches and inheritance of this glory. There is a light in every heart at first, which gives a sound in the natural vessel, which is very hardly distinguishable from the natural, till (by obedience
and subjection thereto) its living touch, virtue, and power comes to be felt and distinguished; but in the meek, humble, believing, and obedient, it daily appears more and more, and makes itself more clearly manifest to them who are walking on unto the kingdom and inheritance in it, while others are disputing about it.
Quest. How may Israel believe, and become subject to
Ans. When there is a drawing felt in the heart,
either to good, or against evil, he must not dispute concerning it on the one hand, nor run on in the forwardness
on the other (for both these ways the breathings of the Spirit on him, and springings up of the good seed in him, are easily quenched); but in the fear he is to trust himself with what his heart certainly
feels in the drawing virtue, and in the humility to give up the members to the good, and to withhold them from the evil, waiting for strength from the fountain of strength towards both. By this means there is a travel and removal out of the corruption and filth of the heart, into the pure holy law, nature, image, and will of God.
Quest. Where doth God find the heart, when he first visiteth it with his light?
Ans. In Egypt, in the darkness, in the bonds and
captivity of death.
Quest. What doth the Lord do with it there?
Ans. He exerciseth it a while there, till he hath
made it fit for a wilderness-state.
Quest. What doth he do with it them?
Ans. He bringeth it into the wilderness which he
hath fitted it for.
Quest. What doth he do with it in the wilderness?
Ans. He prepareth it for, and leadeth it towards,
the land of life.
Quest. What doth he do with it then?
Ans. He giveth it an entrance into the everlasting
kingdom (which is the land of life) according as he hath prepared and fitted it. That which is new-begotten, new-created and formed, new-born in the Messiah's eternal light, findeth an entrance into, and a habitation in, the light, and is not turned back into the land of darkness; it abiding in the virtue and principle of its life, although sometimes it may be exercised with the darkness for its further advantage. Thou art our habitation from everlasting to everlasting, saith the child of light unto the Father of spirits, in all ages and generations.
Now that Israel after the flesh may the better understand
the path of the spiritual Israel in the way of redemption,
by the powerful visitations of the light of the Messiah in their hearts and consciences, and may know the gospel of his salvation, which is able to effect that which the law of Moses could not, because of the weakness of the flesh on their parts; let them in fear, and silence of the natural wisdom, and in waiting on the Lord in spirit, consider the Questions and Answers following, relating to spiritual Israel.
SOME QUESTIONS and ANSWERS, FOR THE Direction, Comfort, Help, and Furtherance of God's Spiritual Israel, in their Travels in Spirit from Spiritual Egypt, through the Spiritual Wilderness, to Spiritual Canaan; which is the Land where the Redeemed Soul flourisheth in the Life, walking with God, and worshipping him in Spirit and Truth.
Quest. WHAT is the gospel?
Ans. A good message, or glad tidings to man, in the fallen estate, concerning a promise of redemption out of it.
Quest. Is man then in a fallen estate?
Ans. His present temper, constitution,
disposition, and whole course, upon the least touch of God upon his spirit, do in some measure discover his fall unto him, through the insensibleness which is come upon him by his grievous wound; and death, through the fall, maketh him very unapt to take notice thereof.
Quest. What was his estate before his fall?
Ans. A state of glory and blessedness, wherein he
came pure out of the hands of his Creator, was fitted for his use, service, enjoyment, and delight, even for him to appear or disappear in, and exercise according to his pleasure.
Quest. Wherein did his glory and blessedness consist?
Ans. Chiefly in these four things; to wit, in the
light, in the life, in the liberty in which the vessel was formed, and in the indwelling and appearing of the Creator there, according to his pleasure.
Quest. Open this a little further.
Ans. Man was made a vessel of light, a vessel of
life, a vessel of pure freedom. He was formed in the eternal image, and had a pure being in that image. He was light in the Lord, living in the Lord, free unto all good, and from all evil, in the Lord. This was the state of his being at first, and thus was he made in the image a pure resemblance of the eternal purity and blessedness: but, besides this, he had the eternal life, the eternal substance, the eternal purity itself dwelling in the vessel, shining in it, and
manifesting itself from it according to its pleasure.
Quest. How came man to fall from this estate?
Ans. Not willingly, not of an inclination of his
own; but he was deceived, through the subtilty of temptation, to entertain a desire of enlarging his
blessedness, out of the limits of the will of his Creator.
Quest. How could such a temptation enter man, he being
pure and holy, inclined to good, and against evil, after the
image of his Creator?
Ans. Man was not made to enjoy a perfection in himself separate from his Creator, or to live of himself,
but by dependence. Now though he had no inclination in him not to depend, or to seek a life in himself out of the fountain, yet there was a capacity of so doing: before which capacity the tempter laid his bait of advancing him to a greater wisdom, glory, and excellency than his Creator had placed him in; with which he consulting out of the dependence upon his Creator, fell from that which alone was able to uphold
him in the pure state wherein he was made. Thus was he taken in the snare of misery, and brought to that loss which all the sons of Adam lie grovelling under to this day, when the Lord at any time awakens the sense thereof in them.
Quest. What was the state of man in and since the fall?
Ans. A state of darkness, a state of death, a
state of deep captivity, wherein his soul, body, and spirit are become dark as to the light of God, dead as to the life of righteousness, and captive unto that spirit which hath entered them by their hearkening thereto, who dwelleth and ruleth in them in the darkness, as God did before in the light.
Quest. How is man dark? How is man dead? Is his soul or body dead as to their being? Or how else is it?
Ans. Man is not dead as to his being either in
soul or body, but as to the right, pure, and sanctified state of each. The vessels still remain the same in being; but they are emptied of their proper liquor, and filled with other wine. The understanding is the same, the reason the same, the will the same, the memory the same, the bodily members the same, as to their being or matter; but they are all otherwise leavened, and another king now dwells in them, and reigns over them.
Quest. Then there needs not any dissolution of man's
reason, or bringing it to nothing, in relation to man's
recovery; but only a changing of the leaven.
Ans. Man is become another thing by degeneration
from the life. He is so poisoned by sin and corruption, that he is to be wholly broken down and brought to nothing, even in the very naturals, that he may be new-made and built up in the newness of the Spirit. Thus he is to become as a fool, as a little child, or rather as a seed to be cast into the womb of life, there to be formed and born of the Spirit. And as he springs up in the life, he is to forget his own country, living in the Spirit, and walking in the Spirit; where watching to the Spirit, and against his own reason in the
pure childishness, in the simple instinct and naturalness
of the life, he shall at length find a reason new-formed and springing up in him; which waiting on the Lord in obedience and subjection, shall be taken into unity with the life. But if the eye of reason open too fast, and be not kept down to the light of life, the betrayer will enter again at that door, and bring the soul into death, after it hath had sweet and precious tastes of the redeeming virtue and power.
Quest. Can man in the fall see his fallen estate, and so seek after a recovery out of it?
Ans. It is not possible for him so to do, without
some light shining upon him from the Redeemer. How can darkness discover darkness? That which maketh manifest the darkness is light. When the vessel is dark, and the prince of darkness filleth it, and dwelleth
in it, what can that eye see but according to the darkness, judging evil good, and good evil, bitter sweet, and sweet bitter.
Quest. But there is no man but hath some light; no man
but at some time or other seeth good or evil in some
Ans. That ariseth not from the light of man's
nature, as it now stands in the fall, (which being wholly in the enemy's hands, and being itself become darkness, cannot at all give man notice of, or light him out of, the darkness) but from a fresh visitation of the life, which giveth all men a day of visitation by the shining of its light, wherein is some manifestation to man, and some certain sight by him both of the good and of the evil; and not only so, but there is also the living Spirit striving with him, and attracting him from the one to the other, according to the Lord's good pleasure, who is both the light, and also the determination of the proportion of every man's visitation
Quest. But hath not man naturally a light in the
fallen estate, which discovereth unto him good and evil?
Ans. Not a true light, not a true discovery; but only somewhat which the enemy setteth up in man as such, to keep him in the intanglements of the deceit, and out of the suspicion of it. For the enemy entering into him, by his subtilty blindeth and deceiveth his eye, (that he may the better hold him captive in the deceit) insomuch as he discerneth not the false image which the enemy hath stamped upon him: for though the enemy bringeth man into a state of real darkness, death, and captivity; yet these do not at present appear to man what they are, but are miscoloured,
or painted, to appear what they are not, the better to deceive, bewitch, and entangle man therein. The enemy did not represent darkness in its black hue; death and captivity in its dreadful appearance to Adam; but as wisdom, as light, as a better life, as a greater freedom. And thus he still enters man, and after this manner he still dwells in man, until the true light pursue him, opening and discovering his deceit, and drawing man back from this false paradise of pleasure in wisdom and liberty out of the life, into a sense of his want of, and breathings after, the true garden of the living God.
Quest. Is man then mistaken in his judgment of good
and evil since the fall?
Ans. Yes, altogether; and by this means doth he
so pleasingly situate himself, and take up his habitation
in the kingdom of darkness, wherein are strongholds and wise reasonings against the true God, and for the false appearances of good, which the enemy of the soul strongly makes men believe to be such as he represents them for in the darkness. Thus in particular persons, and also in societies, evil is pursued after, and advanced for good, and the true good suppressed as evil, through the working of the mystery of darkness in mens hearts.
Quest. What then is the proper estate and condition of
man in the fall?
Ans. A state of false light, of false life, of
false liberty. He seemeth to himself advanced in wisdom above the low, empty, naked estate of innocency' which is nothing, and hath nothing, but by a continual dependence on the goodness of the Creator. He seemeth also advanced in life, advanced in liberty; he can speak his own words, think his own thoughts, do his own will, seek himself, please himself, satisfy himself.
The life of righteousness is a yoke, a bond, in his eye; he is free from the restraint of it; he hath life in himself, and is exceeding wise in the compass of his own dominions. Thus doth the enemy transform the kingdom of darkness and death, giving fallen man a share with him in it, while he remains his willing subject. And here the goods of the enemy, the heart estranged from God, yea, not only the devout and zealous worshipper in invented forms, but also the gross sinner, the envious, lustful, and wicked mind, the perverse tongue, the bloody hands and feet, are at peace, and have joy and pleasure in their course and circuit in the earth. But all this is but the deceit of the enemy, wherewith he hath cheated man with false appearances and representations instead of the true, as man himself will see, whenever the eye of his soul comes to be thoroughly awakened by the eternal light, whether here or hereafter.
Quest. What is the work of redemption?
Ans. To purge the old leaven out of the vessel, to
purify the vessel from all the false appearances of light,
to batter down all the strong-holds of the enemy in the mind, all the reasonings, thoughts, imaginations, and consultations, which are not of the pure, or in the pure; and so to new-create and new-form the vessel in the image of the wisdom and purity wherein it was at first formed.
Quest. Who doth this work, or who is man's redeemer
out of the fall?
Ans. The Eternal Word or Son of the Father, even
the wisdom and power which went forth from the fountain in the creation, the same goeth forth from the bosom of the Father to purify the creature, and so bringeth the creature back (being purified and cleansed) into his bosom again.
Quest. With what doth this Word, or Redeemer, redeem?
Ans. With his own life, with his own blood, with
his own eternal virtue and purity. He descendeth into the lower parts of the earth, becomes flesh there, sows his own seed in his prepared earth, begets of his flesh and of his bone, in his own likeness, and nourisheth
up his birth with his flesh and blood unto life everlasting.
Quest. What is this life? Or how doth it first
manifest itself in the darkness?
Ans. It is the light of men. It is that which gave
light to Adam at first, again to him after the fall, and to all men since the fall. It enlightens in nature; it enlightened under the law; it did enlighten under the gospel before the apostasy, and again since the apostasy.
Quest. How doth the light enlighten?
Ans. By its shining. The eternal Word moves, the
life opens, the light shines: this in the least degree is
a beginning of redemption; in its fulness it is redemption
Quest. How doth the light work redemption in its shining?
Ans. Two ways: first, by turning the heart from
the darkness towards itself; secondly, by exercising the heart, being turned.
Quest. How doth it turn the heart from the darkness?
Ans. The light, by its shining and enlightening,
findeth out its own, openeth it, and toucheth it with a secret virtue, which persuades out of, and draws the heart from, the principle and power of death and darkness, towards its own native spring.
Quest. May not these drawings be quenched, and the work of God stopped?
Ans. The plant of the Lord is exceeding tender,
his pure Spirit jealous, the enemy very strong and subtil; insomuch as the plant itself may easily be crushed, the Spirit grieved and quenched, and the captivity redoubled.
Quest. If Adam was betrayed in his full strength, how shall this poor weak plant spring up and grow, without being
supplanted by the violence and treachery of the enemy? Or how shall the grieving of the Spirit be avoided by an heart so full of corruption and provocations, as man in the
alienated state is, when the light first visits him?
Ans. The Lord God is nigh to help, nigh to pity,
nigh to pardon, nigh to watch over and support worm Jacob: yea, nigh to revive life and spirit in him freely,
and to heal his backslidings, and multiply pardons, or it could never be. Yea, the creature can never be brought so low, or so far lost, but there is still help in
the nature of God concerning him, though there may not be help in any revealed promise.
Quest. How doth God exercise the heart which is turned?
Ans. In faith and obedience, through very great
varieties and changes of conditions. He exerciseth it in believing his voice, and in obeying his voice, and following him, in whatever, and into whatsoever, he draws and requires.
Quest. How is the voice of God known? Doth not the enemy speak inwardly also, and resemble his voice? How then is the voice of the Redeemer distinguished from him who counterfeiteth the Shepherd and his voice?
Ans. By these two means:
First, The soul lying low, out of the wisdom in which the enemy appears and forms his likenesses; in the simplicity which the Lord hath begotten, the life opens to it, and the true light appears, which manifests the false light, and false appearances of the deceiver.
Secondly, In that which is begotten of God there is not an hastiness or suddenness to determine; but a silent waiting on the Lord in subjection, till the life speak, and make things manifest. Thus the knowledge and light of the child is held in the will of the Father, and received from his hand, and according to his pleasure. Thus what he will he hides, and what he will he makes manifest; and the child, which is born of his will, is content with his will; and lying down there, it keeps out of the enemy's territories, and of the reach of his temptations.
Quest. What are the several estates or conditions wherein God exerciseth the spirit of man in faith and obedience?
Ans. The particular estates and conditions are
innumerable; but they may be referred to these three general heads: First, An estate of breaking down the former building. Secondly, An estate of devastation or preparation to be new built. Thirdly, An estate of rebuilding. God doth not forget, but exercise his people in Egypt, even while they are in bondage, before they come to receive his law. He is visiting them in the dark land, opening the eye that can see the captivity, causing groans and sighs in their oppressed
spirits, and then holding forth to them the promise, and preparing them for a departure from that land. Secondly, He hath a time of stripping them, of nurturing and bringing them up under his discipline and close exercises, wherein they are desolate,
and ready to sin and perish every moment; but as they are wonderfully provided for, and abundantly helped and pardoned. Thirdly, There is a state of rebuilding the stones, when they are prepared therefore, into a new building for the life to dwell in, and for their entrance into the land of life.
Quest. Declare these estates, and the exercises
therein more plainly; and first shew what is the estate of the soul
in Egypt spiritually, when the Lord visiteth it there with
Ans. An estate of deep bondage and groaning under
the powers of darkness, whose bitter oppressions thereof increase, even as the sensibleness and tiredness of the soul increases. The soul then sees its captivity from the life, and finds a building of death and corruption
raised up in it, in which the prince of darkness dwells and bears rule: and then, oh! how it groans and longs after departure from that land, and waits for the promise of redemption out of it! But yet it is still left in the hand of the enemy, and daily feels the bitter bondage, from the powerful law of sin and death springing up in the heart, and issuing out through the members.
Quest. How is faith and obedience here exercised?
Ans. In believing the promise, in waiting for the
promise, in feeling some remote drawings of the life, and uniting therewith, so far as is possible in this dark
captivated estate. There is an acknowledgment of the true prince, and a bowing to him even in this estate of captivity, until he please to break the bands thereof, and receive under his guidance.
Quest. What is the estate of the wilderness
Ans. It is an estate of waiting for the guidance
of the leader; of receiving direction and laws from the leader; of following the leader as he pleaseth to lead, through the entanglements, temptations, straits, and necessities which he seeth fit to exercise the spirit with, for the wearing out of that which is not to inherit,
and for preparing the heir for the inheritance.
Quest. How is faith and obedience here exercised?
Ans. In waiting on the light for the leadings in
the law of life, and then in subjecting to the leader, being content with all his dispensations therein; with the time he chooseth for standing still, and with the time he chooseth for travelling on; with the proportion of light and leading that he judgeth fit, with the food and clothing which he prepares and preserves; with the enemies which he sees fit to have avoided or encountered with. Hereby the own wisdom, the own will, the own strength, the own desires, the own delights;
with all the murmurings, weariness, and discontents, which arise from the earthly part, are by degrees worn out, and a pure vessel prepared for the pure birth to spring up and appear in.
Quest. What is spiritual Canaan, or the heavenly-built
state, or state of the gospel?
Ans. A state of regenerating or renewing in the
life and pure image; where the building is reared up which is made without hands; where there is a sweet and peaceable growth in the life, and a fresh and
satisfactory enjoyment of the life.
Quest. How is faith and obedience here exercised?
Ans. In abiding in the vine, in drawing from the
vine, in returning the sap and virtue back into the vine; and living according to the will and in the free dispensation thereof. Thus works are excluded, with self, from whom they proceed, and the vine becomes all in all.
Quest. Are Egypt, with the wilderness and Cannan, spiritually, as distinct estates as they were literally?
Ans. There are such distinct several estates
spiritually, wherein a man may be spiritually in Egypt, and neither in the wilderness nor Canaan. So there is an estate in the wilderness, which is out of Egypt, and not in Canaan; and an estate in Canaan, which is beyond both Egypt and the wilderness. Yet these estates in spirit are oftentimes interwoven, with the exercises thereof; insomuch as the soul may in part, or in some respect (to his own understanding) be in Egypt; in part in the wilderness, and in part in the rest, life, and peace. But these things are not to be curiously sought into, lest a wrong wisdom and a knowledge get up; but abiding low and little in the little feed, the kingdom and everlasting inheritance grows daily in the soul, and the soul daily shoots up into it, and is enlarged
Quest. Is there any return back into Egypt, or into
the wilderness, after the state of the soul is advanced higher;
the entrance into the everlasting inheritance being
administered, and the soul partly taken into, and having found a place of rest in, the life?
Ans. The enemy lies near to deceive; and while he
hath power to tempt, if there be an hearkening to his temptations, there is a departure from the pure life, and a return of the captivity or bewildering in some measure. In the faith and in the obedience to the light of life is the preservation; out of it is death and
Quest. Is not the Pure Being untouched by death and destruction? And shall not the creature, when it is redeemed
into him, be as he is?
Ans. The Pure Being cannot be impure, evil cannot
enter upon him, it hath no place in him, his nature excluding it; nor can it enter into the principle of life
that comes from him, and is always preserved by him; nor can it enter upon that man who is begotten of that principle, abideth with it, and is preserved in it. But so to be in him, as to abide and not go forth, is a great state, even higher than the first Adam knew.
Quest. But is not light and darkness, good and evil,
all alike to God? And shall they not be so also to him, who is
in perfect unity and fellowship with God?
Ans. All the light and darkness, good and evil,
which can issue from the creature, cannot reach God's being as it is in itself, but only so far as he hath pleased to expose his life (in the various manifestations
thereof) to be reached thereby. Yet his eye seeth the evil and the good; the perfection and the imperfection, and his nature is perfectly excluded from all evil and imperfection, insomuch as he cannot possibly lie or deceive, or be unrighteous or unmerciful in any of his dispensations; and that which is gathered into him, is thus one with him. But that which can do any thing which is sinful and evil in itself, is not in the true unity with the eternal being, but in the deceit of that spirit which erreth from him, and entereth the creature in the imagined likeness of his life and happiness.
Quest. How far may persons go, and yet be liable to
the enemy's snare?
Ans. Very far. They may come out of Egypt; they may pass through the wilderness; they may receive an inheritance or portion in the holy land; they may have houses and vineyards which they builded not, nor planted; they may have had deep draughts of the life, deep incomes of the love, large riches of the grace, and precious tastes of the fulness. They may have been in the paradise of God; may have been anointed by God; may have stood upon his holy mountain, and walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire, &c. and yet the enemy may have leave to tempt, and may find entrance for his temptation;
advancing above his estate in the deceivableness, and increasing the glory in the eye of the wisdom which he steals in; and so hold the spirit captive in his golden chains, and lead it back again to the chambers of death.
Quest. How doth, or can, the enemy prevail over persons in so glorious an estate?
Ans. By opening a larger eye in them, than is
given them in the life to see with. The eye of life is limited in man, and man is to be held within the limits and openings of life; and his heart and mind to be bounded within the desires and delights which arise from the life: he is to wait on the life, for its living, moving, and being all in his being: and here he shall be large enough, and full enough, and wise enough, and happy enough. But there is somewhat which presents to him a kingdom, a riches, a dominion, a vastness of perfection in himself, and at his own command; the which he beginning to listen unto, the same opens an eye in him to see the beauty and glory thereof, and then immediately his heart is taken, and he cannot avoid the snare; nor can he henceforth know where he is, until that which he hath forsaken again please to visit him, and to discover to him his iniquity and error from the true root.
Quest. What is the way of safety, when God enlargeth
the territories of life in the soul, and causeth his love
and grace to abound?
Ans. To drink the draughts of joy and sweetness
in the pure fear and trembling; not departing therefrom in whatever it doth for God, or receives from him, till the salvation be wholly wrought out and perfected, the habitation of unspotted love prepared, and the soul led into, and seated in, its complete mansion therein. And then the name of fear is no more heard of in the land of life; though the principle from whence the fear sprang, and the birth and building (which was begotten, raised up, formed, and perfected in the fear) abideth for ever. So that the pure love doth not cast out the pure fear, (wherein is no bondage of the life, but the preservation of the life from the bondage) but swallows it up and comprehends
it. For the pure fear is but love descended, and the pure love is but fear ascended; the eternal principle or substance being one and the same in both.
Quest. Is there then such a state of safety, upon which the enemy cannot intrench?
Ans. There is a state of such union with the life,
as the enemy cannot come between; where there is lying down and rising up in the power of the life, and no beast of prey can make afraid any more; nor can any root of bitterness spring up from within, to trouble or make any disturbance between the life and the soul any more.
SOME QUESTIONS and ANSWERS, CONDUCING TOWARDS The further Manifestation and Opening of the Path of Redemption and Eternal Life to the Eye of Spiritual ISRAEL.
Quest. HOW doth the Son of God, or Eternal Word, in whom is the light of life, redeem man out of the fallen estate, out of the kingdom of darkness and
death, into the kingdom of everlasting righteousness and peace in the life?
Ans. Three ways. First, By wounding him in the natural and corrupt estate, and so breaking his peace and pleasure in the kingdom of darkness, and making him weary thereof. Secondly, By weakening him under the teachings and chastisement of the law. Thirdly, By healing and binding him up with the oil of salvation, in the power of the endless life, which is the gospel.
Quest. How doth God wound him in the natural and corrupt state?
Ans. By pursuing him with his light, which letteth
him see what it is, discovering the evil and danger of it, and so weaning his heart from it, and making him look out after and long for a redeemer. Oh! how burdensome is the captivity to the awakened soul, when he hath a glimpse of what man was before his fall, (when he had a place and being in the life, with a spirit suitable to the life) and what he is now in his estate of estrangedness and alienation from the life; and whither he is going in his paths of unrighteousness, estrangedness, and alienation! And while his heart is thus returning from the land of death and captivity, and longing after the redeeming power and virtue of the life, the enemy (the power of darkness) lays loads upon him, drawing him more and more under the chains and bonds of iniquity, to the utmost of its strength. So that now lusts abound, evils increase,
temptations and snares multiply; and in the land of captivity their strength is great, the soul weak and faint, and the redeeming power and virtue seems very far off. Now this is the estate of conversion; when the Lord, in the midst of the powers of death and darkness, turns the heart from them towards himself, causing it to wait (under the captivity) for the appearance
of the arm of his strength, to break the yoke of the oppressor from off the necks of the oppressed, and
so to bring out of the land of death and darkness, into the travels towards the land of promise; where the peace,
the life, the liberty in the Lord, the rest, the joy, the full content and happiness is reaped by the soul, which follows the Lamb thither.
Quest. How doth God weaken the creature under the teachings and chastisements of the law?
Ans. By exercising him towards good and evil, and
correcting him for his unbelief and disobedience, as he finds good, just, and necessary for him.
Quest. How doth God exercise him towards good and evil, and correct him?
Ans. When he hath brought him from under the power of darkness in some measure; and in some measure set the spirit free therefrom, by the virtue of his life springing up in the heart, then he exerciseth the heart and conversation towards the good and from the evil; then he giveth out laws for or against things, according as he findeth most proper to the estate of every particular soul. Now upon the giving forth of the law, (the life being in some measure raised) there is that which loves its teachings and pure path, and there is that also which draws back from it; and that being yet strong, there come many strokes and chastisements
from the Lord, upon his own dear child. And these are bitter; and to be forced into the sin which it lothes, and in heart is turned from; and to be kept from the good which it longs after, and in heart is united to, (partly by the strength of the enemy,
and partly by reason of its own weakness and negligence) this is bitter also; insomuch as it crieth out day after day, and findeth this administration of the law almost as heavy a yoke as the land of captivity itself was, because of the weakness of it through the flesh, and the strength and advantages which the corruption of the heart and prince of darkness gather thereby.
Quest. What is the benefit of these exercises upon the
Ans. They melt, they break, they make the heart
tender and fit to be moulded by the eternal virtue and power, into a vessel for the power.
Quest. What frames of spirit do they work the heart or mind into?
Ans. Into very many precious ones. As for
First, They make the spirit poor. The daily
inroads of sin and corruption dashing against the holy and righteous law of life, the overbearing the strong desires
after purity, and forcing into the defilement, hindering the soul from doing what it loves, and making it do what it hates and would not, this makes it become poorer and poorer, and more afflicted day by day. Upon some visitations of the pure life, and some fresh virtue received, oh! how strong doth the soul seem! but when it suddenly forfeits its mercies, loses its freshness, and is plunged deeper in the pit than before, how poor and weak doth it then feel itself, trembling at the next openings of the life, and springings up of the virtue thereof in it, not knowing what weakness, captivity, entanglements, and misery from the snares of death remain to follow!
Secondly, They bring into a mourning estate. They
fill the eyes with tears, and the heart with sorrow; yea,
they cause an entrance into the house of mourning. To
be accustomed to wounds, bruises, snares, grieving of the Spirit, provoking of the deliverer, furthering and giving advantages to the enemy, &c. the sense of this overwhelms the heart with grief, and causeth continual sorrow and lamentation to that which is upright
Thirdly, They bring into a meek, merciful,
tender-hearted frame towards others. He that is tempted, he that often falls, and is so often wounded and made miserable, he pities those that err; he mourns over the miserable. His heart is broken with the sins and afflictions of others, and he knoweth not how to be hard towards them, feeling such continual need of abundant mercy himself. It is the rich man, the sound man in religion, that is rough and hard; but he that is once thoroughly melted in the furnace, and made up again, is made but tender, and retaineth the impression of the meekness, love, and mercy for ever. Now a broken estate in religion, or a state of waiting for the life, is much more precious than that which is rich and full by what it had formerly received, and still holdeth out of the immediate feeling and fresh virtue
of the life.
Fourthly, They bring into an hungry and thirsty state after holiness and righteousness. Oh! how the soul that
is sensible of its filth longeth to be washed! How it panteth after the pastures of life, the food of life, the
living waters; to appear before, and enjoy God, in the land of the living! Oh! how doth the heart, that is daily afflicted with its unbelief and disobedience, long for the faith that stands in the power, and the obedience that flows from the power. Oh! teach me thy statutes; shew me the pure path of obedience in the way of life; guide my feet in the way everlasting! Oh! write thy fear in my heart, that I may not depart from thee; create a clean heart in me, and put thy Spirit within me to be my strength. Oh! continue thy loving-kindness to them that know thee, and thy righteousness to the upright in heart. Oh! what unutterable breathings daily issue out from the broken spirit, towards the spring of its life!
Fifthly, They bring into a pure frame, into a
cleanness of inside. Cleanse first the inside of the cup and platter, said Christ to the Pharisees; and he doth so in his disciples. With the mind I serve the law of God, said Paul, when he cried out, Oh! wretched man that I am, who shall deliver? It is not conceivable what purity of heart is formed by God in his Israel, by the fire which he kindleth in his Sion, and by the furnace which he setteth up in his Jerusalem; for
though in the furnace the dross still appears, the sight whereof is apt to grieve and afflict the precious heart, yet the melting and purifying
sweetly goes on, and the soul (which abideth the heat) is effectually cleansed thereby, as is very manifest afterwards, when righteousness springs up, with the quiet fruit thereof; but this cannot be discerned,
while the flames are discovering and taking hold of the unrighteousness.
Sixthly, They bring into a patient frame; fit to bear reproaches and persecutions from the world, who in the midst of all this weakness, misery, and distress, lay loads upon the poor soul, persecuting him whom God hath smitten, and speaking to the grief of him whom God hath wounded. God smites for want of obedience; for too much propensity to please the world; for not coming soon enough out of their customs, vanities, earthly ways and worships; and so soon as the heart and conversation is given up in obedience
to the Lord, the world is discontent, and they smite and persecute because of the obedience. Now the more the spirit is broken by the hand of the Lord, and taught thereby to fear him; and the less strength it hath in itself, to grapple with the persecuting spirit
of the world; the fitter it is to stand in God's counsel,
to wait for his strength and preservation, which is able to bear up its head above all the rage and swelling of the waters of the worldly spirit in the men of this world.
Much more might be said, but this may suffice. What is behind will be felt inwardly, as the soul waits on God in the leadings of his Spirit, through the teachings, chastisements, and distresses of the law.
Quest. With what kind of things doth the Lord exercise
the spirits of his Israel, to bring their hearts into these
and such other like precious frames?
Ans. With several sorts and kinds of things, both
outward and inward. As,
First, With oppositions, reproaches, and interruptions
from the earthly part, both in the men of this world, and in themselves. There is abundance within, and abundance without, to resist, disdain, and interrupt the work of God in the heart, to oppose and withstand that which he hath begotten there; his leadings
of it, and its obedience to him.
Secondly, With temptations from the enemy, even of many kinds, natures, and degrees, according to the present temper and condition of the soul; as either to doubt, and so despair; or be confident in the flesh from knowledge received, out of the pure fear and fresh feeling of the life; so again, either to halt or draw back, or to be over-hasty and forward; so likewise, either not to obey and act for God, or to act in that will and wisdom which is against God. Now these, with such-like, are very numerous, frequent, and sometimes very violent and impetuous.
Thirdly, By withdrawings of the life and sweet presence
of God from the soul. These are very frequent from the Lord towards his people, insomuch as he is called by this title; The God that hideth his face from the house of Jacob, Isa. viii. 17.chap. xlv. 15.
Fourthly, By buffetings and prevailings of the enemy. When the Spirit is grieved, the life wounded, and withdraws inward, the enemy often gets ground, giving wounds and causing bruises to the soul; not only tempting, but finding entrance, and taking in the snare the bird which once escaped, and was delivered.
Fifthly, By doubts, fears, and confused reasonings concerning the voice of God and the voice of the enemy. In the hour of darkness (when the Lord seeth good to let forth the power thereof, and to withdraw the beams of his light) how can that be clearly
distinguished, which alone is known and seen in the light? How can the motions, drawings, and pure low workings of the life, be discerned from the false images and transformings of the enemy? Oh! the misery and anguish of the poor soul in this condition! how is the poor upright heart pained between faith and unbelief, obedience and disobedience, &c. not knowing when it is drawn forward or backward, or by whom.
Quest. When do these exercises begin? and how long do
Ans. The Lord doth begin to exercise the soul eve- in Egypt; for after the promise (of deliverance fro- spiritual Pharaoh) the bonds increase, the yoke grow more heavy, Pharaoh grows more violent and furious the captivity increaseth much; but there is no sigh of redemption at all, save to that eye which is weak and easily overborne in Israel. But the exercises and much more full and sharp in the wilderness, when Israel is led about, tried, afflicted, consumed day by day, as if he should never come to the holy land, no- any of Israel be left to enter therein. Yea, in Canaan in the rich possession, in the plenteous overflowings of the life, there is still somewhat left to try Israel, and
bring him low with, if at any time he be exalted with the glory and fulness of his own estate, and begin to forget his God.
Quest. Why doth God thus exercise his Israel? Who doth he lead them in such a knotty, and not in a more easy and ready way to the everlasting possession, and to the fulness thereof?
Ans. Because their estate and condition requires
it They could not be so purified and fitted for the life their vessels would not be so inlarged to receive it in nor they so safely enjoy it, were it not for this course of wisdom, wherein God exercises and trieth every cranny of their spirits, until he hath perfected them and stopped up the entrance of death every where.
Quest. How do these exercises purify and enlarge them
Ans. First, They try the strength and virtue of
the life in them, and discover to them their further wan- thereof. In the time of the soul's prosperity there seems to be enough; but the day of distress makets manifest the estate and condition as it is. Then the
faith, the love, the patience, the meekness, the constancy, and chasteness to the spouse (loving him, and cleaving to him above all, and in all) many times is found to be less than it was judged to be.
Secondly, It brings to a waiting on God for support, and for receiving of more from him. Then the life breathes vigorously, and the soul hankers after cleaves to, and sees its need both of the presence and increase of the virtue of the life. Then he that was rich becomes poor, and he that was full becomes empty and nothing; yea, he that had enough to live on and to spare, is now pressed with hunger, want, and penury.
Thirdly, It prepares for a clearer entrance into, and safer enjoyment of, the fulness. As the soul is more emptied of the strength and riches it received from God; so it is more prepared to enter into, and live in the Pure Being itself. For nothing can live there which veils. In the life God was, and is, and is to be all in all for ever. That, therefore, which enters there, and lives and abides there, must be poor, empty, naked, nothing, and remain nothing for ever. As it gathers any thing from the fulness, and becomes any thing in itself, thereby it is shut out.
Quest. How doth God heal and bind up that which he hath wounded and broken to pieces with his various and frequent exercises?
Ans. By opening the power of the endless life, in
the vessel which he hath thoroughly purified and prepared,
and filling it with the power. The free power of life, that is the gospel. To the meek, to the
broken-hearted, to the cleansed it is prophesied; and when the work of cleansing is finished, the wound made wide enough, and kept open long enough, and the death to the first husband fully accomplished, then the perfect oil is perfectly poured in, and everlasting health and salvation obtained. This is the end which God aims at in the visitations and leadings of his seed; happy are they that pass through the vale of misery, and drink off the dregs of the cup of trembling, not
fainting nor sitting down by the way, but following the faithful Shepherd and Leader of Israel, till they arrive here.
Quest. What is the great danger in the path of life?
Ans. The great danger is of ascending a step
higher than the present estate and condition will bear; for by this means the aspiring mind gets up, and is exalted, and holdeth somewhat received from the life, out of the pure fear which preserves the heart clean, and out of the sensible feeling which keepeth fresh and living to God. And then the simplicity is betrayed, and a wrong spirit lives, and a wrong eye is opened; so that there is nothing now but whoredom from the life, and the heart exalted and conceited in the way of its whoredom, as if it were the pure bed and most excellent
way of enjoyment of the life.
Quest. What way is there of preservation herefrom?
Ans. Watching to the life, keeping low in the
fear, and close to the feeling. Here the aspirer is shut out, or soon espied at his beginning to enter, and then the living cross received, which crucifieth and driveth him back. And indeed there is no way of safety in the travels towards the enjoyment of life, or under any enjoyment before the state of perfect death, but under the cross to that spirit and nature which would dwell there, and please itself therewith, and be somewhat therein, and so forget the pure everlasting spring,
adulterating with the streamings forth of it.
Man was made for God to be a vessel of his pleasure, to receive his content, enjoyment, and happiness by reflexion. So that man's proper work was to watch to the spring from whence he came; to be disposed of, ordered, and to be according to his pleasure. This was natural to man before his fall, till a corrupt spirit
by deceit entered him, and corrupted him. And while any thing of that corrupt spirit or fallen nature remains, he is apt to aspire in the self-hood, and to seek the enjoyment of what comes from the fountain (yea, and the fountain itself also) in and according to the will and wisdom of the self-hood. And here let man receive what gifts soever from God, be advanced to ever so high an habitation in the land of life, yea, have the very fountain itself given him; yet by this means he will corrupt, lose the gift or spring, be separated
from it, and adulterate with what he can still retain or gather in his own principle. And here do deep travellers lose their way, falling from their portion in the land of life, and from their enjoyments in the paradise of the pleasure of the life, into the earthly and sensual spirit, holding things wisely and richly there in the earthly principle, not knowing the remove of their habitation thither, nor thinking that they are there.
He that readeth these things, let him not strive to comprehend them; but be content with what he feeleth thereof suitable to his own present estate: and as the life grows in him, and he in the life, and he comes to meet with the things and exercises spoken of, the words and experiences concerning them will of themselves open to him, and be useful and serviceable to him so far as the Lord pleaseth, he keeping to the leadings, savour, and principle of life in himself, wherein alone his knowledge, sight, growth, and experiences
Now he that would travel safely in spirit unto the land of life, let him wait to have these things following
written by the finger of God in his heart, and the sense and impression thereof preserved fresh in him.
First, It is the free grace of God which begins the work of redemption, which causeth the light to shine, which worketh the repentance or turning from the dead state, and also the belief in, and turning towards, the living God.
Secondly, It is the same grace alone that can preserve
and cause the plant of grace to grow. If there be a withdrawing of the light, a withholding of the free influence, that which depends thereupon cannot retain its freshness; which the Lord may do as often as he pleaseth, for the chastisement of the rebellious part, or for the trial of his pure life and virtue in his
Thirdly, The grace of God visiting the soul in the death, in the darkness, in the fallen estate, begetteth life anew in it, maketh it in some measure light in the Lord, openeth an eye in it to see the things of God, an ear to hear and distinguish between the sound of life and of death, an heart to turn from and refuse the vanity, and to turn towards and abide in the living substance.
Fourthly, The Spirit of God carries on the work of redemption, by drawing, leading, and acting the quickened soul; by exercising that which he hath begotten
in the life, under the law of the life. Thus the life draws the soul daily nearer and nearer towards the everlasting spring, and from the fading emptiness of sin, vanity, and the creaturehood; and the soul, by the enlivening virtue, daily follows on after the life, in the leadings, spirit, and power thereof. There is a living soul begotten by the virtue of the grace, and the living soul daily lives in the grace, and travels
in the virtue thereof from the unbelief to the faith, from the enmity to the love, from the perverseness to the straitness, from the iniquity to the righteousness, even from all the territories of the darkness, and also from the weak measures and degrees of the grace and life towards the fulness itself, even until it perfectly center in, and be fully filled therewith.
Fifthly, Where there is a stopping of the virtue received
from the grace, and not an answer in the heart, there the work of redemption is stopped. If the soul follow not in the drawing, the drawing is lost, as to it. If the ear open not to hear the voice of the Word, or if it be not mixed with faith in the heart hearing, it proves ineffectual. If strength issue forth from the Lord, yet if the soul receive not the strength which issueth forth and bubbleth up in it, or answer it not in giving up to it, and travelling on, the soul abideth where it was at least, if it also retire not backward from that estate and condition whereto the life had advanced it: for if the virtue of the life and grace be refused, there is an advantage given to death to re-enter, and gain ground by its contrary virtue and power.
Sixthly, Mark therefore diligently how the Lord doth carry on the dispensation of his love and free grace, even as if there were much done by the strength and diligence of the creature. What wounding of itself by repentance! what striving to believe! what wrestling against enemies, and for the influences of the grace, and to keep the hope up, and the distrust out! What strict watching and waiting, even as if the creature did work out its whole salvation!
Seventhly, Though the creature seemeth to do much itself, (having received life from the grace, and acting abundantly towards God in the grace) yet it is the grace and virtue which comes from the Creator (who is also the Redeemer) which indeed doth all: for though the creature repent really, and turn from the darkness with its whole heart, yet the repentance is of the virtue which flows from the grace, and not of the creature which receives the grace: and so likewise in the faith, the love, the obedience, the meekness, the patience, the watching, the waiting, the hoping, &c. Yea, the very receiving the grace is not of the creature, but of the grace: for the creature is dead until it be visited by the grace; and by the visitation of the grace alone is made alive, and able to receive it.
Behold then the mystery of redemption. God is all
in redemption; God doth all therein as fully as in creation, (it is a new creation) even the whole work thereof; yet the creature quickened and renewed is in unity with him in his operations, Phil. ii. 12, 13. He whose eyes are opened can read the mystery, and in true understanding say, (if he hath been led, and hath proceeded so far) I am able to do all things through Christ that strengtheneth me; yet not I, but the grace of God in me. Now to bring the creature to this, the Lord exerciseth it daily in obedience
unto him, in the life and virtue which floweth forth from him, causing it to feel its weakness as it forgets the virtue, or aspires to live of itself on the virtue received, out of the sensible feeling of its
dependence upon the spring. And indeed the virtue that comes from God can alone answer God, and the creature is only accepted with the Spring and Father of life, as it is found therein.
Quest. But if the work of redemption be wrought by God's creating power, how cometh it to meet with so many rubs and interruptions, and sometimes overturnings? Can any thing stop God's creating power?
Ans. So far as God absolutely pleaseth to create,
nothing can stop or hinder; but the entrance of that which he beginneth to create into the creature, and its getting a being there, as also the growth and
preservation of it there, may be hindered by the force of spiritual enemies, if the Lord pleases to permit; or by the grieving and provoking of that free power, which alone begetteth and preserveth life in the heart.
Objection. Then the work of redemption is not carried
on by an absolute free-creating power.
Ans. The creating power and preserving power is
the same; but the work is somewhat different, both in the outward visible creation, and in the inward new creation. The preservation of that which is created and planted (unto its growth and perfection) is by the same power which created and planted; but rather in a way of care, industry, art, and skill, than of such immediate force and power, though by the exercise and putting forth of the same virtue and power.
There are three things in redemption:
First, There is the issuing out of the free grace, love, virtue, and divine power towards the creature.
Secondly, There is the opening of the estate of the creature thereby, convincing and drawing it out of the alienation from the life, towards unity with the life.
Thirdly, There is the following of the creature
after the life, in the quickening virtue of the drawings, through all the snares, temptations, diversions and
oppositions of the enemy.
Now there is no hindering of the issuing forth of the free grace towards the creature, or of those convictions
and inclinations of the creature to follow, which necessarily ensue thereupon. But the pursuit and progress of the creature (or its abiding with the quickening virtue and power) may many ways be interrupted
and diverted, and so the creature drawn from under the influence of the free covenant: for though the covenant be free, yet the creature only partakes of it, as it is drawn into it, and preserved in it.
Therefore let those sear who feel the power and redeeming virtue, and know, that notwithstanding the free and certain promise to the seed, yet the creature is as clay in the hands of the potter, which may be made a vessel of honour or dishonour, as he pleaseth to favour it, or take occasion against it. And whoever would pass through the work of salvation and redemption, unto the salvation and redemption itself, in the living virtue received from the life, let him keep fast hold on the good pleasure, and in it give all diligence to make his calling and election sure, working out his salvation with fear and trembling, because God worketh in him both to will and to do of his good-will. And walking diligently and industriously in this path, he may attain the seal of the redemption, even that mark which can never be worn out, and to full assurance of faith in the redeeming power; though it is also possible for him afterwards, through much negligence, and grieving the Spirit whereby he was sealed, to lose the sight of the mark, and the comfort
of the assurance, which was once fresh and clear in his spirit.
For a close at this time, I shall add a few words concerning the unity of God's grace (or free light of his Spirit) notwithstanding the various estates and conditions of man whom it visits, and the variety of its operations.
There is a three-fold state of man, wherein the grace of God visits him.
First, The Gentile-state, or state of nature.
Secondly, The Jew-state, or administration of the law, wherein God takes him under his own tuition, making known his will to him, and requiring obedience of him: and not only so, but also directs him to the inward teacher, and to the principle of the pure fear, which is the place of wisdom's teaching and instructions.
Thirdly, The gospel-state, or state of faith, where the principle is raised, the seed lives, and that is felt
springing up, known, and enjoyed, which does the will, and receives the promise.
Now in all these, the law, the light, the life, the wisdom, the power, is one and the same; but the
administrations are different.
In the Gentile-state, or state of nature, the light which man receives there (to discover evil, and work him into good) is of the Spirit, and by virtue of the promise. For he had been everlastingly shut up in the darkness, had it not been for the promise; and it is for the promise-sake, and from the free-grace, that he hath any visitation in the state of nature, and any desires after, or leadings towards, the good, and from the evil; which spring not, nor can spring, from corrupted
nature; but from the free fountain of the new life.
In the law-state, the light grows more clear; the teacher is there discerned and acknowledged; his drawings, warnings, instructions, and reproofs felt more distinctly, and the soul (that is watchful) continually
In the gospel-state, the principle of life is raised, the promised seed come, the power which doth the will received, and the light of life entering into, and possessing the vessel.
Now this is the whole of man, to wait on the ministration
of the life to him in his present estate, whether he be yet in the estate of nature, or under the law, or under grace. To know whence his redemption springs, and to wait on the redeeming arm for the beginnings, progress, and perfecting of it; and if it be in the feeling of that virtue, it is enough; or if it be kept longing or panting after it, it is well; yea, if there be but a desire in him after a thirst, there is hope; nay, if there be but the least feeling of his dead, barren, and senseless estate, there is some life in
him, which the Lord loves, and will find a time to express his bowels towards: yea, that which is wholly in the darkness, and shut up in the pit, the Lord hath bowels in him towards, and after many days may please to visit. Oh! the height, the depth, the length, the breadth of the riches of the mercy and love of God! Who knows his yearnings towards souls, and his ways of visiting and redeeming! O my soul! hope thou in the Lord for evermore, and leave not breathing towards him, till thou and his whole creation be filled and satisfied with him, and then f-tch the full breath of life in him for ever.
I HAVE been treating of the inward work, as it is wrought in the heart by the power, and brought to the sensible experimental knowledge of the creature; yet would not be so understood as if I made void what was done without by Christ in his own person, or any of those ends and purposes for which it was wrought, and appointed so to be done by the Father: though this I know, that the knowledge of those things, with the belief therein, or any practices and observations therefrom, without the life, can no more profit now, than the Jews literal knowledge of the law could profit them, when they were rejected therewith.
And since the apostasy, of this latter age especially, I have clearly seen in the Spirit of the Lord, that the professors knowledge of the letter of the gospel,
and cleaving to their apprehensions which they gather therefrom, is become a snare and trap to them, to keep them from feeling the power, and living in the sensibility of the virtue of the grace; even as the Jews table (or gathered knowledge from Moses and the prophets) became their snare and trap. The Lord open their eyes in his due time to discern it, that they may not withstand that ministration and revelation of his everlasting gospel, which God seeth good to visit the apostatized world with, after this long dark night of apostasy! whereof those that stick in forms, or knowledge of things in the letter, without the power, cannot but prove the greatest enemies, opposers, and persecutors.
Now to help them a little, if the Lord please; in the rolling of my bowels towards them I find my heart opened, to lay a few things before them.
First, With my heart, in the sight of the Lord, do I own that principle which formerly wrought in some of them, which I myself was wrought upon by, and knew not only the outward knowledge which they were acquainted with, but also the inward work: and I also knew what I called the light of nature, and what I called the light of the Spirit, the one whereof was not the other, but differed as far as Spirit and flesh.
Secondly, I also own all the openings and refreshments
which they received from the Lord in reading of the scriptures in their publick or private exercises, and the experiences which they had from God in their own hearts: and I know that these things in themselves were true in their proportion; however the present sense, and holding of them out of that wherein they received them, may justly be judged by the Spirit of the Lord in his servants.
Thirdly, Though those things were true in their day, and in their proportion and measure; yet in them they might lose their virtue, and die, and so they not retain the thing in its life, in its own principle,
in the newness of the Spirit, in that birth to which God gave it; but only an image of it in the natural understanding, in the earthly part, in the dead principle; and then their knowledge of God and their experiences cannot but be corrupted, and now become the possession of death, and the engines of death in their hearts. Again, God had somewhat further to manifest, even to bring forth that which they earnestly prayed for in that day; which they, having abode in that virtue wherein they prayed, might easily have discerned and embraced; but being out of that, and pleasing themselves with the literal knowledge of the things they then received, holding them in the wise and earthly part, that part cannot but stumble at the low and contemptible appearances of God, which are still offensive to that part. The great glory of God is hid in a little seed; and how can the great eye of the fleshly-wise see it? We have Moses and the prophets, (said the Jews after the flesh) but as for this man, we know not whence he is. Even so it is now: we know the relation which the scriptures have given of Christ by the apostles, we are sure this is of God, say the professors; but as for this little seed of the kingdom, or light of God in the heart, we cannot believe that all we want is to spring up in it.
Now, Fourthly, There is a necessity both of the knowledge of persons to pass away, and also of their experiences to be given up, and let fall, in these two cases following:
First, When the virtue is withdrawn from them, when death hath caught them, when they become death's goods: for that which is received from the life, is only profitable to the soul in the virtue of the
life. When the earthly part hath caught them, and seated itself there, they then become the strong-holds of the enemy, and the engines of death to the heart; so that then life and true relief is not to be had in them, but where the eternal virtue pleases next to appear.
Secondly, When God hath somewhat to bring forth further in the world, or in any particular heart, to make way for it he brings death upon that which was before living. Thus when God is pleased to bring forth a greater measure of faith, and power of his Spirit,
he distresseth the heart, making the foregoing faith and power appear weak, and pass away; and many times for a season shutteth up the soul in the unbelief, until the fresh faith and fresh power spring up and arise. And this causeth the necessity of the further dispensations of his eternal virtue to appear, and the beauty of them to shine; which they would not have done so abundantly, had it not been for the foregoing distress of the heart.
There are yet some things further weighty upon my heart to lay before them, needful for them to consider of, which may be serviceable and helpful to them in their present condition, if the Lord please to open their hearts, and impress them thereon. They are four propositions, relating to the right knowledge of the things of God, which are these following:
First, That the knowledge of the things of God comes from the Spirit. As the scriptures themselves came from the Spirit, so the true knowledge of them is alone given, to any man which receiveth it, by the same Spirit. And no man living can know the mind of the words which the Spirit spake, but as the same Spirit which spake them, gives the meaning of them.
Secondly, That the knowledge of God (the living
knowledge, the serviceable knowledge) is alone held in the Spirit, and in the birth which is of the Spirit.
Man's natural part is not the true treasury, nor is man's reason to be master of any of the things of God's Spirit; but that which holds the knowledge of the kingdom, the grace of the kingdom, the living experiences, is that which is born of the seed of the kingdom; and man's reason is for ever to be shut out of the things of God, further than it bows, is limited, and subjected.
Thirdly, That the knowledge received from the Spirit,
is still to be tried by the Spirit. The Spirit alone can
keep it living, and the Spirit alone can tell whether the life and virtue be still in it, or whether death hath
caught it; whether it be the manna fit for the soul's food; or manna once given, but now corrupted. Oh! my dear friends, wait to understand my experience concerning this thing, which is this! That which I had certainly received from God, and which the true birth at first had sed on, the earthly birth would be catching at, laying hold of, and treasuring up to feed on at another time. Likewise in my reading of the scriptures, I lay open to this great snare, of reading in my own will, and of gathering from thence in mine own understanding, and so growing wise concerning the things of God after the flesh: for though at that time I was not without living knowledge and experience of God, yet I knew not how to turn from the death, nor to keep to the life; and so the bad, the lean, the earthly, the ill-favoured, overgrew the good and well-pleasing to God, and brought it into bitter misery and death. Oh! that ye knew being begotten of the will of the Father, and keeping to the will of the Father, and receiving the bread daily from his hand! That which man conceiveth concerning the scriptures, is not the pure milk of the word, but that which the breasts give out; that is it which hath the immediate life, virtue, and true nourishment in it. And this must be returned back into the treasury, and not held in the earthly part, in the earthly will and understanding, but received from the life again when it is again needed; yea, this have I often known, that when I have been in great distress, I have received fresh comfort from the Lord; but running to that afterwards, it never was able to comfort me, but more deeply wounded me. And thus hath the Lord been teaching me to live upon himself, and not upon any thing received from him, but upon the life itself, the mercy, the good pleasure, which proportions out the living bread daily to the living birth.
Fourthly, It is easy receiving of knowledge in the earthly part, in the earthly wisdom, out of the Spirit and living
virtue. When one readeth a scripture, it is easy
conceiving and apprehending a meaning one's self, or taking in another man's meaning; but it is hard abstaining
from all conceivings and reasonings of the mind, and waiting for the pure will and opening of the Spirit therein. Also it is easy retaining of knowledge,
and making use of it in the will and wisdom of the earthly mind (for both these are natural): but it is hard denying the reason, the thoughts and
imaginations, and watching to the Spirit.
O professors! wait for the living appearance of God, even for the freshness of his Spirit in your Spirits;
that in that which cometh from the Spirit ye may know the Spirit, and may also know how to turn to him and abide with him, having the watch set against that wisdom in yourselves, which in all ages and generations is eternally shut out of the things of the kingdom, although it may gather, get, and hold a vast knowledge of the things of the kingdom in the earthly treasury. Thus fleshly Israel hath the wisdom of the letter; but spiritual Israel the wisdom, virtue, and life of the Spirit in all ages and generations. And though he that is born after the flesh, despiseth him who is born after the Spirit, yet this is God's heir; and the bondwoman, the earthly wisdom, with all her children, (even the greatest giants in knowledge,
profession of religion, and scripture-observations) must be cast out, and not inherit the land of life. This is written that that might be raised in you by the power, which is to inherit the life eternal; and ye not find your souls deceived, when the light of that day fully opens, which hath already dawned.
I was in a poor low condition, when the Lord formerly visited me; as lost, as undone, as miserable as any. What knowledge, what life, what precious virtue I then received, was from God's grace; which was still his own, and he might call for it at his pleasure.
And surely, he which hath received from the fountain, ought to trust and to give back again to the fountain, when he calleth for it; and then to remain empty, naked, and desolate, until he be again freely visited. This is an hard lesson, who can learn it? Who can trust his life with the fountain, and lie open to what follows? Yet this did the Lord require of me; and my heart being not willing to part with my life, but striving to retain it, and grow in the first way of the dispensation of the grace unto perfection, he brake it after an unutterable manner, and brought such a misery and desolation upon me as I could not possibly have suspected, having been sealed by him. And now he is teaching me to live more fully upon his grace, or rather upon the spring, where I am nothing,
where I can be nothing for ever: but he is and will be what he will be, and when he will be; and nothing in me can be satisfied with him, but what is of him, and lives in him. And here all that I have known, or formerly tasted of him, springs up again at his pleasure; and I drink of the old wine, and also of the new, but have nothing at my own disposal. And when I catch at any thing, or would be any thing, I lose the spring, and am corrected for my backsliding and adultery of spirit, but am still again visited with fresh love, and the springings up of fresh power and life, and fresh visitations of the rich mercy and grace, which the everlasting fountain naturally openeth in its own. The pearl is exceeding rich, the treasure of life unutterable; and he that will posses it, must sell all for it; even all his lusts and
corruptions; yea, all the riches of his nature (the best of his will, the best of his wisdom most refined); nay, not only so, but all the riches of his spirit, all that he
hath held, or can hold out of the life. Then, when he is poor in spirit, and hath nothing in himself but emptiness, nothing so much as to receive or retain the life, but what is formed, groweth up in, and is preserved
in the life, according to its own mere will and good pleasure; then alone is he fit to be comprehended and brought forth in the eternal spring. Perfectly happy is he who is perfectly possessed thereof; yet he is not without a proportion of blessedness also, who is mourning after it, and travelling towards it; which can never be attained by the natural parts retaining the letter of any spiritual revelation or knowledge; but only by beginning in the eternal virtue, abiding in it, and travelling from death to death, and from life to life; till all be slain which is to die and perish
in the way, and all be raised and perfected which is to receive, and live in the kingdom and crown of life for ever; which the Lord lays before all to run after, but none but the spiritual seed (begotten of and abiding in the Spirit) can obtain. Mind then this brief sum.
The lost creature, the undone creature, is graciously sought after and visited by the fountain of its life and being.
Being visited with the mercy and grace, and impressed,
it receiveth somewhat of the grace and living virtue from the fountain.
Having received somewhat, the creature is apt to retain it in the creaturely vessel, (even in the own will, and to enlarge the own wisdom thereby, and so to become somewhat again in itself) forgetting the spring.
As the creature retaineth any thing in the natural part, out of the immediate feeling of the living virtue, it corrupts, it adulterates from the living spring.
And that which any one hath thus adulterated with, must be taken from him, and he be made dead to it, and it to him, before he can be recovered into a living state, fit to enjoy what he formerly received, or further to receive of, and grow up in, the fresh living virtue.
SOME QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS, SHEWING MAN HIS DUTY, AND POINTING HIM TO THE Principle of GOD in his Heart; WHICH IS The Root of LIFE in all its Dispensations, And which, being kept to, is able to bear the Fruit of LIFE in every Dispensation. AS ALSO SOME QUESTIONS and ANSWERS, CONCERNING THE Seed of JACOB and the True Church.
By ISAAC PENINGTON the Younger.
THE goodness of God endureth for ever. And though his creature man (who should have been subject and obedient to him) hath sinned against him, and by motions and inclinations of his own will and wisdom (out of the principle of his pure life, which was to have been his guide and governor) hath fallen short of his glory; yet he still pleaseth to visit his poor lost creature with loving-kindness and mercy, and with various dispensations of his life, according to his pleasure. What man is there that hath not received
a soul from the breath of the Almighty? And what soul is it that hath not some visitations of life from that living breath? The bowels of eternity most naturally roll towards all its offspring; who seeketh the gathering of them all in the variety, and according to the limitations of his will, in his pure wisdom.
There is a current or stream of life before the promise
is known, which secretly visits all, discovering the darkness in some measure unto all, and drawing from it. And happy is he who falls in with, and follows the leadings of the Almighty here; for then he cannot abide in the darkness, but still (according to the need of his condition) will meet with a true guide out of it, and with the true power which redeemeth and delivereth from it. For as the promise made to Adam, had relation to all his posterity; so whoever is visited with any light by virtue of the promise, that light will lead him to the promise, and he (in the obedience thereof) will meet with the sweetness and virtue of the promise. So that the lowest dispensation of God (the creature being exercised therein, feeling the want of God's power, and drawn to depend upon him for mercy and strength) will lead fallen man back again to his Maker, by the virtue which flows into man from the promise, though ever so secretly and hiddenly. For it is not the distinct knowledge of the promise, (though that is a very great advantage) but the virtue flowing from the promise, which saves. Man being touched by that virtue, and by the touch thereof quickened towards God; and in that virtue which comes from the redeeming mercy, cleaving to his Maker, and hoping in his tender bowels, and feeling the weakness, insufficiency, and corruption of his own will and understanding, and so going forth from himself towards the spring which quickened him. Here is Christ known in spirit, received in spirit, believed
and relied on in spirit, and his living virtue already felt and further waited for. And can this man, thus walking, thus believing, thus obeying, thus cleaving to the principle which gives life, thus receiving
virtue from it, and growing up (in that virtue) out of the self-hood, into it; I say, can this man miss of eternal life, which runs along in all the streamings forth of this living virtue?
But oh! how sweet is the stream of life in the sensible manifestation of the promise! He who feels the covenant in Christ, and life streaming into his heart through the covenant, and the seal of eternal peace to his soul, and that he shall never be left nor forsaken by the fountain of mercy, but all that ever befalls him shall conduce towards the working out of the perfect redemption and salvation of his soul; this is a precious state indeed; and this is the state which the feeling of the faith, and the living obedience in the Spirit, leads to. Happy are they that walk in the path thereof, who content not themselves with man's knowledge of Christ, with man's belief of the things written concerning him, with man's obedience to the precepts left on record by the apostles, but whose living soul cannot be satisfied without the feeling and pressing after
Christ the life, and without a true engrafting into him in spirit, through the living Word, or testimony of life, received into, and believed on in the heart.
And how sweet also is the ministration of the law, which comes from the promise, and is managed to the soul by the hand of the Mediator! How sweet is it to see the creature fall daily! to find one's own strength to believe, to obey, to suffer, to abide with Christ, to wait on Christ, to hope for Christ, daily battered and brought to nothing, and no life left but what issues from the spring, and is alone maintained by the free current thereof into the heart daily! Here the stroke of the law is received by degrees unto perfect
death. Here are the openings of the pure prophecies in the Spirit concerning a new kingdom, a new birth, a new heir, a new life. Here is the axe laid to the root of the tree, and that cut down in the heart which is not to live, and which hinders the heir from his inheritance. Here is the vale of tears; which tears spring from the life, whose virtue washeth away the corruptible day by day. Here is the house of mourning, and that state of darkness entered into, which swallows up all the joy of the dark earthly spirit,
and consumes its nature. Here the light of life is sown, and through these exercises it springs up; and after the passing away of this ministration, breaks forth in strength upon that soul which hath been thoroughly
I desire the good of all mankind, waiting for the swallowing up of the dispensations of death, and the breaking forth of life upon them in the seasons thereof, according to the good pleasure of him whose gift life is, and whose are all the dispensations of it. And in that love, through the openings and drawings of life in me, have I writ what follows; not to upbraid or strike at any, but to be an help unto such as the Lord shall please to make it serviceable to. Wait on the Lord, eye him, read in fear, praying to be touched by, and gathered into, that which gives the feeling of the weight of truth. Oh! that mens souls were awakened, that they might know what it is to perish from God, and what to be saved by him. The proper portion of man's soul is the fountain of eternal life; and he can never be happy (nor in true rest, peace, or joy) while separated from it. Let him who is not brutish in understanding, and whose soul is not wholly dead God-wards, consider this.
SOME QUESTIONS and ANSWERS, Of deep Concernment to the JEWS, From one who hath been a Wrestler and Traveller with the Lord of Life, for the Day of their Mercy and Redemption.
Quest. 1. WHETHER the people of the Jews do err in their hearts from the God of their fathers, (in this their sore dispersion and final
captivity) and are not acquainted with his ways, wherein he would have them walk with him, and wait for his mercy and redemption?
Ans. That there is mercy towards, and redemption
for, that poor scattered, forsaken people, my heart hath from my childhood, and doth still stedfastly believe.
That there is a way wherein they are to worship the God of their fathers, and wait for this mercy and
redemption, is also the belief of my heart.
But whether they do indeed know the Lord their God, and the present path wherein he requireth them to walk, and so are brought into the capacity and fitness for the mercy and redemption which is in the heart of the Lord towards them, that I very much doubt of, and in the tender love and good-will of my heart am drawn to propose the consideration thereof to them.
The grounds of this my doubt are chiefly these two:
1. Because their fathers, who had Moses and the prophets to instruct them in the law of the Lord, and in his ways of worship and obedience, yet did err in their hearts from the Lord their God, both under the teachings of Moses and of the prophets. It is a people that do err in their heart, and they have not known my ways, said the Lord concerning them, upon forty years trial of them in the wilderness, Psal. xcv. 10. And Moses also complained unto all Israel, that notwithstanding all that they had seen done by the Lord in the land of Egypt; and the great temptations,
signs, and miracles in the wilderness, yet the Lord had not given them an heart to perceive, and eyes to see, and ears to hear unto this day, Deut. xxix. 2, 3, 4. Neither did they more understand the mind of the Lord by the ministry of the prophets, than by Moses; but misunderstood his way of worship, misunderstood his intent about their sacrifices, and offered up the abomination of his soul; even when they offered up the very sacrifices which he required, as the Spirit of the Lord in the prophets often testified
unto them. See Isa. i.Isa. lxvi.Mic. vi.Ezek. xx. with many more testimonies of the prophets, pleading with them from the mouth of the Lord.
Now if their fathers, in the days of Moses, and in the days of the prophets, when they had certain information
from the mouth of the Lord concerning his ways, yet then did err in heart, and did not understand the mind of his Spirit; how much more probable is it that these, in the cloudy and dark day, when the light (that shone upon their fathers) is hid from their eyes, that these may miss of the mind of the Lord, and not understand the way of peace and acceptance with their God?
2. Because the prophets foretel of their idols cleaving
to them, and their uncleanness not being removed, but their stubbornness and hardness remaining, until the great and terrible day of the Lord God Almighty, wherein his Spirit shall be poured down from on high, and they visited and redeemed in the light and power thereof. Then shall Ephraim say to his idols, Get ye hence; what have I to do any more with idols? Yea in that day shall they cast their idols to the moles and to the bats, Isa. ii. 20. For the Lord will cleanse them from all their uncleanness, Ezek. xxxvi. 29. and take away the stone out of their heart, and make their spirits tender towards the God of their fathers; insomuch as Ephraim shall smite upon his thigh, and bemoan his unaccustomedness to the yoke, and eternal law of the Spirit of his God, which he hath not understood in spirit, but been blinded about the ordinances of Moses, and testimonies of the prophets.
Quest. 2. Whether the Jews can possibly meet with the blessings of the Messiah, while their heart errs from
the God of their fathers, and they do not know his way?
Ans. It is utterly impossible, while they miss of
the path wherein blessedness is to be found, to meet with that blessedness which the path thereof alone leads to. How can the heart, in erring from God, meet with that which is alone to be found in union and walking with him? Have they met with it to this day? Or can they ever meet with it, till they be taught and led of the Lord to walk towards it? Oh! that Israel knew the way of life! Oh! that their heart were turned towards their God, that they might no more die, nor be estranged from him like the heathen, but live the life of the blessed, and enjoy an inheritance in the land
of the living.
Quest. 3. Is there any way for Israel to be cured of
the error of their heart, that their misknowledge of God and his ways may be removed from them, and they may come to a right understanding, and a clearness of light?
Ans. There is balm in the land of the living,
which is able to cure all the diseases and distempers of the dead, and there is a physician who is able to apply it.
The God of Israel knoweth the very core of evil in the heart, and all the issues of death from thence, and how to take out the core, and stop all the issues of sin, death, and misery. The Shepherd of Israel understandeth
the lost state, the wandering state, the sick state of every lost soul in Israel, and hath skill and remedies to recover and heal them all, Ezek. xxxiv.
Quest. 4. What way hath this skilful physician for the cure of the erring heart of his Israel, and to bring them to an acquaintance with him and his ways?
Ans. He hath divers, which are able thoroughly to
effect it. As;
1. By circumcising their hearts, or by sprinkling
clean water upon them to wash away the filth of their hearts. With him is “the fountain of living waters,” and with them can he wash away the filth of the daughter of Sion; yea, his fire is in Sion, and his furnace in Jerusalem:
with him is the spirit of judgment and the spirit of burning, wherewith he can search out and judge all the evil in the hearts of his people Israel, and burn it up.
2. By creating a new heart and a new spirit within them. He can, not only take away the heart of stone, but he can give an heart of flesh, which shall be sensible
and tender to every motion and impression of his Spirit, as the other was dull and hard.
3. He can write his law in their heart, that they
may no more read in the oldness of the letter, where life can never be learned, (which is to pass away, for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof) but in the newness of the Spirit, where the new eye easily reads and understands what God writes in the new heart and mind.
4. He can put his Spirit within them, and cause them
to walk in his ways, and to keep the statutes and
judgments which God writes in this new book, even the renewed heart; for this is the book of the new covenant, these are the tables thereof, wherein God writes the law of life eternal for his Israel, wherein they are to read and live for ever. And happy is that Israelite who waits for, and receives, the Spirit. To him none of the commandments of life are grievous, being all quickened to him in and by the Spirit. So that the more the Lord writes in his heart, the happier is he; he thereby receiving more of the life and power of God's Spirit, and learning thereby more of his God, and travelling there-through further with him into his purity and divine sweetness.
Quest. 5. What way is there for Israel to come by this cure?
Ans. None but God's covenant, the covenant which
God made with their fathers. Not the covenant of the law by Moses, but the covenant before the law, which was also renewed by Moses, but was not that covenant which God made with them in Horeb, but a covenant besides, as they may read, Deut. xxix. Alas! alas! man can never come to life by his obedience; he still falls short there; but by receiving the promised seed, he comes to be heir of the promise with the seed, and finds the obedience of the seed brought forth in him, through the grace and mercy of God, which breaketh forth upon his Israel. Oh! that the hearts of Israel after the flesh were circumcised
to hear this sound, that they might be turned in spirit towards the God of life and salvation, that from him they might receive the seed of life into their vessels,
that their hearts might be purified and made living by the seed, and they might there meet with that, which their fathers could never meet with by the law of Moses; nor indeed is never so to be obtained, but by the promise to their fathers, which was before the law. And this must be the way of their restoration into favour with God; to wit, not the covenant which God made with their fathers, when he took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, but the covenant by which God writes the law and knowledge of himself in the heart, Jer. xxxi. 32, 33.
Quest. 6. How may Israel come into this covenant with God? Or is there any thing for them to do, that they may enter into it, and reap the blessings of it?
Ans. They must mind the small beginnings of it,
and subject to God therein, that they may know its further growth and progress in them. He that withstands the beginning of a thing, can never come to the end thereof. Now the blessedness is chiefly in the end; but it is not found and enjoyed but by him that meets with the beginning, and so by degrees travels along till he comes to the end. And here is a great mystery, which the wisdom of man cannot learn or understand; in that, though the greatest blessings are contained in this covenant, yet the beginnings of it are the smallest and most contemptible. The seed of the promise, the seed of the kingdom, is the least of all seeds. Man easily overlooks it; or if he have a little glimmering of it, readily despises it, as unlikely
ever to have that in it, or to bring that to pass for the
soul, which it desires and expects. Yet there is no other way to the kingdom, but by this seed of the kingdom opening and growing in the heart, and gathering the heart into itself, leavening it (by its spreading) with the leaven of life eternal, and purging out the sour leaven of sin and death. This then is the path of life; thou must wait to feel the seed of the kingdom sown in thy heart by the good seedsman, and then wait for thy gathering into it, and growth in it; and by thy subjection unto it, and its overspreading
thee with the power of life eternal (which is in it, though hidden from thee) thou wilt find sin and death, and the power of hell, vanquished in thy heart, and thy heart fitted for the God of thy life to dwell and appear in, whose dwelling and appearance there will make thee completely happy. Only if thou wouldst come out of thy captivity by the enemy of thy soul (whereof thy present outward captivity is but a shadow) into the life and rest of thy God; take heed of despising the day of small things, or the low voice of thy God in thy heart; for therein are the beginnings of life. And thou must begin at the lowest step that the God of thy life chooseth for thee (and find that wisdom shut out, which would begin or go on otherwise, than the Lord seeth fit to lead and teach) if ever thou enter into the path of life, or walk on therein with thy God.
Quest. 7. How may I know this seed of life, or feel when God begins to sow it in my heart, that I may not turn from the small beginnings thereof, but may find an entrance into this blessed covenant of God with my fathers
before the law?
Ans. The word or voice of this seed is nigh thee,
and it hath a living testimony with it for good, and against evil. It hath a living sparkling in the heart, whereby it is felt and known by those that wait for its appearance. It naturally turneth from the evil and towards the good; and in its moving and appearing in thee, it will be turning thee towards that which it naturally loves, and from that which it naturally hates. In any such stirring in thy heart, there is the beginning of light eternal to shine upon thy tabernacle; and by giving up and being gathered into its warnings and motions, thou wilt feel a touch of life, even a quickening and warmth towards good, and a beginning of deadness and disunion with that which is evil. And as this is waited for more and more, it will appear more and more in the seasons it sees fit; and as it finds entrance into thee, so will it lead thee into its covenant with its God. Remember, therefore, what Moses said to thy fathers concerning the word of this covenant It is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it, Deut. xxx. 14. Thy fathers never knew the virtue of this covenant, but were drowned in misery for want of minding it. And if thou wert gathered into it, thou wouldst meet with circumcision of heart, and the new creation of thy mind and spirit, and the writing of the eternal law of life there, and the putting
of the Holy Spirit of God into thee; all which are contained in this covenant, yea, wrapped up in the very seed thereof, which is (in the Lord's times and seasons) smiting the seed of the evil-doer in the hearts of the sons of men, and striving to gather them out of the disobedient state and nature, into the obedience of the glimmerings of his light in their hearts; which becomes a law of life and power in them, as it finds entrance into, and place in, them. Therefore, O ye sons of Abraham after the flesh; wait for, know, and believe in the light of this covenant, and give up to be gathered into the holy seed thereof, that ye may become his children after the Spirit, in this new covenant,
in this living covenant, wherein all that enter live in Spirit and power to the God of Abraham; and not by the works of the law of Moses, but by faith in the living seed, become heirs and inheritors of the promise of eternal life, which is to Abraham and his seed for ever.
O poor wandering Jew! wait to hear the cry of wisdom's voice in thy streets, discovering unto thee, and counselling thee against, the evil of thy heart and ways, by the word which is very nigh thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart. And be won upon by the voice of wisdom; give it thy heart, let its power enter into thee. Take up its cross, be willing to be bound by it from what thy heart would run after, and learn of it to draw in its yoke, that all may be yoked down and subdued in thee, which makes thee miserable, that thou mayest find a place and honour in wisdom's courts, and be adorned with her ornaments, and partake of her durable riches.
Watch unto that which reproves thee in thy heart, and watch unto its reproofs, that thou mayest be reformed
by it, and transformed into its nature, and then thou wilt become a Jew indeed; even a Jew inward, born of the immortal seed of the divine wisdom.
And be not discouraged, either for want of light to distinguish between the good and the evil, or for want of power, to turn from the one, or to the other, O tender-hearted ones, who find a warmth and a willingness within to give up to the Lord: but wait his season, and hope in his tender bowels, in the midst of all the roarings and cruel usages of the enemy, who will be striving to the utmost to keep his hold of his captive, and to keep it back from travelling out of his dominions of death and darkness, towards the land of life, light, and peace eternal! I have had a very hard travel, and have felt his power and cruelty beyond measure, yet the Lord my God hath helped me, and my breathings abound toward the God of my life for his helping hand unto all that are in heart turned towards him, how difficult, intricate, and impossible
soever the enemy strives to make the path of life unto them. Oh! remember the mercy of the Lord towards your fathers, who never felt the strength of the love of this covenant, which the Lord is now gathering his spiritual Israel into; how he pitied them, how he forgave them, how he visited them with
loving-kindness and mercy time after time! What a stiffnecked people they were when he first chose them; how ready to run a whoring from him, and rebel afterwards.
And surely much more is to be forgiven in this covenant, and much more is the help and healing thereof; only let the heart be true to him according to the virtue and power of this covenant; yea, and wait to receive that also of him; for it is the fruit and blessing of the covenant in which God healeth the backslidings of his Israel, and loveth them freely. Amen, Amen; O Lord God of everlasting and most tender bowels of compassion, saith my soul!