Charles Marshall

The Life of Charles Marshall. In: Evans, William and Evans, Thomas, eds. Friends' Library. Philadelphia: Printed by Joseph Rakestraw, 1840, Vol. IV, pages 137-138.

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THE unity of the Spirit is so precious a virtue, and glorious a qualification, in all the churches of Christ Jesus, that whilst the people of the Lord abode therein, in every age, they were in a flourishing, sweet and glorious station; for as long as they truly held the head Christ Jesus, and kept in unity with him, unity and amity were preserved amongst them in their several stations and services, as members of one body.

Of which unity, David speaketh preciously and comprehensively; saying, "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is, for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious ointment on the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard, and went down to the skirts of his garment: As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Sion; for there [mark] the Lord commanded the blessing, even life everlasting.'' This was the state into which the holy power of the great God gathered a people: for, concerning them, it is left upon record, they continued daily in fellowship, and that with one accord.

Now, dear Friends, we clearly saw, felt and understood, in the morning of our visitation, that the same ancient power of the Lord, wrought first to disunite us from the nature which separated us from God, and then to bring us up into unity and fellowship with himself, in his dear love, and therein one with another.

For here ever was and is, the foundation of the true unity, even that of the Spirit; in which love, the body edifies itself, and is increasing and building up a holy habitation for God, through the Spirit. So then, all abiding and growing up in the love of God, and walking with him in the Divine nature, unity increaseth amongst all the members and branches taken out of the wild olive, and planted into, and abiding in the vine of life, Christ Jesus, our head and law-giver; and here the church of Christ grows up, into a state of being clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet: blessed, sweet and glorious station! But did it always thus continue in the apostles' days?

Ah! No: the old serpent, the enemy of man's welfare, wrought powerfully and cunningly, first to draw forth from the root of life, and out of the holy love and spiritual subjection to this glorious power, that had gathered them to a daily inward walking with God, and to draw out of a spiritual exercise from under the spiritual cross and holy watch, as before has been demonstrated. And then fruit from another root was brought forth, as the reader may note in several epistles; and in John's testimony to the seven churches of Asia. Then the power of the Lord that had gathered them, moved to exhort to put away bitterness, wrath, anger and clamour; evil speakings and malice. Ephes. 4.

And now, dear Friends, with your lamps trimmed and burning, look inward, searching every corner of your hearts, that every one of your states may appear clear unto your own understandings; as it is in the sight of tho pure all-seeing God, that so all the enemy's darkenings and veilings, and turnings aside, by what way or means soever, may be clearly, with the light of the Lamb, seen and discovered.

And, tender Friends, those that have seen the sweet, lovely, precious state of unity and concord, that the excellent power of the Lord God Almighty gathered into, and was gathering into, in the morning of our day, and the spiritual advantages, comforts, joys and refreshments, that attended the church of Christ in this true spiritual unity with our Lord Jesus Christ, and one with another; and also the anxious exercising consequences of the enemy's prevailing to break the unity, and the lamentable effects thereof; they cannot but on the one hand admire and esteem the precious unity, and on the other, greatly dread the turning aside, and going out of it. For those who have kept their habitation, and lived to God, as they have tasted the sweetness, and beheld the amiableness of this unity and amity, so they have felt the sorrows and anguish of the effects of the contrary; which have caused them to go many days and months with mournful souls, crying to Almighty God night and day, under the inexpressible weight thereof. And the God of love bowed his ear to the cry of the poor, and to the sighing of the needy; and has arisen in the might of his power, and his glorious presence hath relieved, and his holy arm has been made bare, through which he hath redeemed his darling from the dog, and his dear ones from the devourer; and still continues working to bring into this precious unity, in the holy light of life, with God in Christ Jesus, and one with another. And now, dear Friends everywhere, unto you, and to the generation coming after, I have this warning and tender advice to leave, in the name of my God, who hath been with me in my travels, in his power, work and labour of the Gospel of life and salvation. Keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace; and let none give way to a prejudicing spirit, which leads into secret whisperings, backbitings, and such like evil and pernicious fruits, the working of which spirit is like a moth in a garment, dividing, destroying, spoiling and eating up; for indeed, Sion is a city at unity with itself, under the seamless garment of Christ Jesus, and there all are well and safe, growing, increasing and flourishing; so when the spirit above said prevails, to draw out of Sion's gates, and from within her walls of salvation Oh! what deplorable work and havoc will it make in its growth and progess; working, as I said before of the moth, gradually and secretly first; but as it prevaileth and increaseth in strength, it will appear as a roaring, devouring lion, seeking whom it may devour and swallow up.

Here comes in pride and haughtiness of spirit, puffed up with the abundance of enjoyment of outward things, emulations, heart-risings, evil jealousies, bitter speakings, detractings; and abundance of evil fruits arise from this root of bitterness, which root and fruit is to be brought under the judgment of the Lord. And therefore, Friends, I say unto you, in the name of the Lord God, let none give strength, or any encouragement or nourishment, in any way, to this spirit in any of its workings, in any heart, but let it be looked on as a vagabond and fugitive in the earth; and, as it is kept out of the camp of God, and from Israel's dwellings, by the living power of God, it will perish under Truth's judgment set up in every soul, and the nature thereof, as well as its evil rending and dividing fruits, will be worn out and destroyed. And all keeping in the first love and pure fear, fearing to offend our God and Father, persevering in keeping the holy watch, and abiding in subjection and obedience to the spiritual cross, in staidness of mind, soundness of judgment, and clearness in understanding, you will see and fathom all the enemy's devices, temptations and snares; and the Lord God beholding you steadfast in obedience, and spiritual tenderness before him, his power will descend in an increasing manner, and his glory will shine, his river of life will flow; yea, the spring of the great deep will be broken up, and the windows of heaven will be opened, that you may be abundantly filled with joy and thanksgivings, and songs of deliverance, and with spiritual high praises ascending to his throne, which will be as sweet incense, and a sacrifice acceptable to our God. And here you shall spend the residue of your days in dominion over the snares of the enemy, attending prosperity and liberty, as well as adversity and persecution; seeing over all things that have their rise in mortality and time; feeling mortally swallowed up of life immortal, and so gathered to the general assembly, to the church of the first born, to the spirits of just men made perfect; yea, to the first and last, God the Judge of all, to whom be immortal high praises and holy renown, for ever and for ever more. If the wonderful blessings, tender mercies, and loving kindnesses that the Lord extends unto us in this age, be not duly, reverently and obediently taken notice of; but instead thereof, any shall forsake and be unmindful of the Lord's tender mercies, and embrace lying vanities, going into idleness, through which a spiritual slumber overtakes, and the lamp thereby be neglected, the spiritual watch and cross slighted, or not duly regarded, but the earth and earthly things take up the exercise of the mind and affectionns; then, instead of enjoying what is above expressed, tribulation and anguish will seize upon all such, and the dreadful judgment of God who lives for ever and ever, will over take all such unfaithfulness. A dreadful cup ye shall drink of, from the hand of God, and the rebukes of the Lord shall distress you; and you shall be numbered amongst the people of his indignation, in his approaching day of signal pleadings with all flesh that have corrupted its way before him. Therefore hear, fear, and dread the holy name of the Lord; and whilst it is called to-day, bow before him, and speedily return unto him, lest your day pass over, and ye sleep the sleep of death, and be separated for ever from his refreshing presence, in which is life, and from the glory of his Divine power.

Dear Friends everywhere, retire inward, feel and understand the counsel of the Lord which springs unto you; all retire in great humility before the Lord, that you may feel the blessed work of God begun, perfecting your inward man, growing in the root of life; and as you have professed the knowledge of a spiritual oracle before the nations, you may approve yourselves in the sight of God, following its instructions in all things, and be not without it. Lean upon the Lord, and cry to him to guide you with his eye, and lead you by his arm, in the way everlasting; and whilst you keep with him, he will be with you, never leaving nor forsaking you, if you do not leave and forsake him; his presence and glorious arm of salvation shall surround you, to the renown of his name, and consolation of his people. Amen, Amen.