Quaker Heritage Press > Online Texts > The Bunyan-Burrough Debate > Bunyan, Vindication [1 of 4]
READER,-- We, whose names are here underwritten, having, through grace, some blessed faith and experience of the truths declared in this book, and knowing them so to be; having tried them by the Scriptures in the light of the Spirit, thought it our duty to bear witness thereunto together with our brother, desiring the blessing of God may go along with these endeavours of his, for the doing good to our Christian brethren, or any other who may read it. Farewell.
Yours in the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, for which faith we desire to contend,
SINCE it hath pleased the Lord to work in my soul by his Holy Spirit, and hath translated me in some measure from darkness to light, I have seen and heard that such things have been done by those who did once pretend themselves to be the servants of Jesus Christ, that it hath made me marvel: partly, while I have beheld the vile conversation of some, and also the seeming legal holiness of others, together with their damnable doctrine, which have, notwithstanding their professions, made shipwreck of the faith, both to themselves and their followers. I having had some insight into such things as these, was provoked to publish a small treatise touching the fundamentals of religion, supposing that God might add his blessing thereto, both for the establishing of some, and the convincing of others; which things I doubt not but they have been accomplished, and will be still more and more. But as it was in former days, so it is now: that is, some in all former ages have been on foot in the world ready to oppose the truth. So it is now; there are certain men newly started up in our days, called Quakers, who have set themselves against the truth of our Lord Jesus Christ, and do in very deed deny that salvation was then obtained by him when he did hang on the cross without Jerusalem's gate. Now, these men do pretend that they do verily and truly profess the Lord Jesus Christ; but when it comes to the trial, and their principles be thoroughly weighed, the best that they do, is to take one truth and corrupt it, that they may thereby fight more stoutly against another. As, for instance,
First, they will own that salvation was obtained by Christ; this is truth, that salvation was obtained by Christ; but come close to the thing, and you will find that they corrupt the word, and only mean thus much: that salvation is wrought out by Christ as he is within; and by it, though not warranted by the Scripture, they will fight against the truth; namely, that salvation was obtained for sinners by the Man that did hang on the cross on Mount Calvary between two thieves, called Jesus Christ: I say, by what he did then for sinners in his own person or body, which he took from the Virgin Mary, according to the word of God.
Second. They will own the doctrine of Christ within. This is truth, that Christ is within his saints: but this doctrine they will take to fight against the doctrine of Christ without, ascended from his disciples into heaven, by whom salvation was obtained; "neither is there salvation in any other." (Acts iv.12.)
Third. They will own the resurrection of the saints, but their meaning is only thus much, that the saints are raised from the state of nature to a state of grace, and herewith they will fight against this truth; namely, the resurrection of the bodies of saints out of their graves, into which they were laid, some thousands, some hundreds of years before. And if they do say they do own the resurrection of the saints out of their graves, they do mean out of the grave of sin only, and nothing else.
Fourth. They will say, they do own the second coming of Christ to judge the world; but search them to the bottom, and you will find them only to own him in his coming in spirit, within, in opposition to the glorious coming of the Lord Jesus, the Son of Mary, from heaven in the clouds, with all his mighty angels, to raise the dead, and bring them to judgment, according to the Scripture. And so for the intercession of Christ, and the truths of the gospel; they only own them to be within; in opposition to the glorious intercession and mediation of the man Christ Jesus in his own person without, now in the presence of his Father, between us and him, pleading and making intercession for his children. These things, together with many more, I might mention, but now I forbear, knowing that none shall be lost, nor altogether carried away by them, nor any heretics, but the sons of perdition. Now, that they might the better make their doctrine take place in the hearers, they endeavour to make a fair show in the flesh, that thereby they might now, as did their fathers in time past, compel and constrain them who are not by the Lord's right hand planted into the truth of Jesus, to follow their covered errors, as it is written, (Gal. vi.12:) "For as many as desire to make a fair show in the flesh," that is, according to works of the law, do "with good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple." (Rom. xvi.18.) And indeed it doth clearly appear, that those that are carried away, are such as are not able to discern between fair speeches declared by heretics, and sound doctrine declared by the simple-hearted servants of Jesus.
I. Now, I shall lay down several grounds, not only why errors are broached in the world, but also why so many are carried away with them.
1. One ground why so many errors do from time to time come into the world, is because those that are not indeed of the planting of the Lord's right hand might be rooted out. (Matt. xv.13.) Now these are many times carried away by deceivable doctrines: and truly in this our God hath both a care of his own glory, and of his church's welfare. For, first, should they not be swept away by some heresy or other, there might be great dishonour brought to his name by their continuing among his people: and, secondly, that he might take away such grievances as such may bring, had they continued still in the society of his children.
2. Another ground why the Lord doth suffer such errors to come into the world is, because those that are Christians indeed might be approved and appear. (1 Cor. xi.19.) "For there must be heresies among you, that those that are approved may be made manifest." Should not the Lord go this way to work sometimes there would be many that would make people believe that they are Christians, and yet are not. And, again, that he might make it appear, that though there be heretics, yet he hath a people enabled by his Spirit to contradict and oppose them, and plead to the truth of our Lord Jesus Christ, and his glorious gospel against them.
3. Another ground why the Lord doth suffer, yea, even send delusions among the people, is, that those who were so idle and slothful as not to seek after the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity, might be taken away, and violently possessed with error, and be made to run greedily after the same; that they might smart the more for their neglect of the truth. For always those who were lazy in seeking after the truth when it was proffered, and afterward hasty after the doctrine of devils, when that is declared to them, shall be sure to have their latter behaviour to rise up in judgment against them, in that when the truth was proffered to them they were idle and did not receive it, and yet when delusion did proffer itself, they were industrious and labouring. Now mark, that they all might be damned who believe not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness; because they received not the truth in the love of it, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusions, that they might believe a lie, and be damned. (2 Thess. ii.10-12.)
II. Now, in the second place, why so many are so easily carried away with errors in this day. The grounds are these that follow.
1. Because men count it enough to be professors of the truth, without seeking to be possessors of the same. Now, because men are but only professors of the truth, not having it in their hearts in reality, they are carried away with an error, if it come in never so little power more than the truth they profess. And this is the reason why so many are carried away with the errors that are broached in these days, because they have not indeed received the Lord Jesus by the revelation of the Spirit, and with power, but by the relation of others only; and so having no other witness to set them down withal but the history of the word, and the relation of others concerning the truths contained therein, though the knowledge of the truth this way should abundantly aggravate their damnation, yet they have not had the Spirit of the Lord to confirm these things effectually unto them, they are carried away with delusions.
2. Another reason why so many are carried away with delusions is, those differences that are among the children of God about smaller matters. Oh, friends! how is the hand of the enemy strengthened by our carnality: while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; many a poor soul is carried away with delusion. And why so? They are not satisfied that this is the truth, because the children are at difference among themselves about some outward things. And, again, it makes those that are not so desperately possessed with a spirit of delusion as are others, but are mere moral men, I say it makes them to say within themselves, and one to another, There are so many sects and judgments in the world, that we cannot tell which way to take. And, therefore, you that have the Spirit, pray that these things may cease, lest you blush for your folly at the appearing of Jesus our Lord.
3. The pride, covetousness, and impiety of hypocrites and carnal professors, are great stumbling-blocks to the poor world; and the cause why many at this day do drink down so greedily a deluding doctrine, and especially if it come with a garment of pretended holiness: but as for these, they shall go to their place in their time, with the curse of the Almighty poured out upon them, for their casting of stumbling-blocks before the simple by their loose conversations, if they do not hastily repent of their wickedness, and close in reality with our blessed Lord Jesus.
4. Another reason why delusions do so easily take place in the hearts of the ignorant, is, because those that pretend to be their teachers do behave themselves so basely among them. And, indeed, I may say of these, as our Lord said of the Pharisees in another case, all the blood of the ignorant, from the beginning of the world, shall be laid to the charge of this generation. They that pretend they are sent of the Lord, and come, saying, Thus saith the Lord; we are the servants of the Lord, our commission is from the Lord, by succession, and the like, I say, these pretending themselves to be the preachers of truth, but are not, do by their loose conversation render the true doctrine of God, and his Son Jesus Christ, by whom the saints are saved, contemptible, and do give the adversary mighty encouragement to cry out against the truths of our Lord Jesus Christ, because of their wicked walking. Now shall not his soul be avenged on such a nation as this, who pretend to be teachers of the people in goodness, when as for the most part of them they are the men that at this day do so harden their hearers in their sins by giving them, even their hearers, such ill examples, that none goeth beyond them for impiety! As, for example, would a parishioner learn to be proud? he or she need look no farther than to the priest, his wife and family; for there is a notable pattern before them. Would the people learn to be wanton? they may also see a pattern among their teachers. Would they learn to be drunkards? they may also have that from some of their ministers; for indeed they are ministers in this, to minister ill examples to their congregations. Again, would the people learn to be covetous, they need but look to their minister, and they shall have a lively, or rather a deadly resemblance set before them, in both riding and running after great benefices and parsonages by night and by day. Nay, they among themselves will scramble for the same. I have seen, that so soon as a man hath but departed from his benefice, as he calls it, either by death or out of covetousness of a bigger; we have had one priest from this town, and another from that, so run for these tithe-cocks and handfulls of barley, as if it were their proper trade and calling to hunt after the same. Oh, wonderful impiety and ungodliness! are you not ashamed of your doings? If you say no, it is, perhaps, because you are given over of God to a reprobate mind. Read Rom. i. towards the end. As it was with them, so, it is to be feared, it is with many of you, who knowing the judgments of God, that they who do such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have, as I may so say, pleasure also in them that do them. And, now you that pretend to be the teachers of the people in verity and truth, though we know that some of you are not: is it a small thing with you, to set them you say are your flock such an example as this? Were ever the Pharisees so profane; to whom Christ said, Ye vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? doth not the ground groan under you? surely, it will favour you no more than it favoured your forerunners. Certainly the wrath of God lies heavy at your doors; it is but a very little while, and your recompense shall be upon your own head. And as for you that are indeed of God among them, though not of them; separate yourselves. Why should the righteous partake of the same plagues with the wicked? Oh, ye children of the harlot! I cannot well tell how to have done with you; your stain is so odious, and you are so senseless, as appears by your practices. But I shall at this time forbear having in some measure discharged my conscience according to the truth against you; hoping if God do give me opportunity, and a fair call, that I shall a second time in this world give testimony against your filthy conversations, though now I shall say no more only this much: Be ashamed of your earthly mindedness, if you can; and be converted, or else you shall never be healed.
Here might I also aggravate your sin by its several circumstances, but I shall rather forbear; supposing that you may entertain wrong and harsh thoughts of me, though I have spoken the truth; therefore I shall at this time rather keep silence, and wish you to amend, than to rake in your sores; for thereby would your stink go more abroad in the world: therefore I say, I forbear. And now to the reader, I beseech thee to have a care of thy soul, and look well to the welfare of it: and that you may do so, have a care what doctrine it is that thou receivest. Be not contented until thou in deed and in truth, in the light of the Spirit of Christ, see thy sins washed away in the blood of that Lamb, who did offer up himself a ransom on the cross on Mount Calvary, for the sins of thy soul and body, together with the rest of the saints of God.
And let not the legal holiness of the one, nor the loose profane conversation of the other, beat thee off from pursuing after the truths of Jesus, as the truth is in Jesus, and so laid down in this my discourse. Neither let the plausibleness of the other beguile thy simple heart. And now to you that are carried away with the delusions at this day broached in the world, by the instruments of Satan, and that after a profession of the truth: I say to you, Turn again, if you can, peradventure there may be hope, and that you may escape that wrath which justly you have deserved. But if you shall still refuse the Lord that speaks now from heaven in mercy to you, you shall not hereafter escape the Lord, that in his own time will speak to you in his wrath, and vex you in his sore displeasure.
And now a few words to you that have indeed closed in with the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of Mary; and they are these that follow. 1. Be of good cheer, all "your sins are forgiven you for his name's sake." (1 John ii.12.) 2. Know, "he that hath begun the good work of his grace in you, will perfect it, even to the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." (Phil. i.6.) 3. Know that though your Lord Jesus, who is in you by his Spirit, be absent from you touching his bodily presence, yet he is not forgetful of you, but is preparing a place for you. (John xiv.1-3.) 4. Consider, that he is also at this very present, in his very person, in the presence of his Father now in the heavens, praying and making intercession for you, that you may be brought safe to glory. (Heb. vii.25.) "Father, I will," saith he, "that those that thou hast given me may be where I am, that they may behold my glory." (John xvii.25.) 5. Know also, that he hath overcome in his own person, when he was in the world, devil, death, sin, hell, the curse of the law, the power of the grave, and all other evils, in the body of his flesh for you. (Heb. ii.14.) 6. Believe, also, that while you are in the world all things shall fall out for your good at the end, whether they be temptations, doctrines of devils, workings of corruptions, all things shall fall out for your good, who love our precious Lord Jesus. (Rom. viii.28.) 7. Be assured, that all your enemies shall very suddenly be under your feet, even Satan and all. (Rom. xvi.20.) 8. Consider, that there shall no temptation befall you in the days of your pilgrimage, but God will enable you to bear it; ay, and make a way also for you to escape the destroying danger of it. (1 Cor. x.13.) 9. When the time of your dissolution shall come, your Jesus will deal with you, as he did with blessed Lazarus, that is, he will send his angels to fetch your souls away to glory. (Luke xvi.23.) 10. Believe also, and know assuredly that, at the last day, he will also raise your bodies out of their graves, and make them also for ever vessels of his glory. (Rom. viii.23, comp. with John v.28. 1 Thess. iv.14-18.) 11. And, lastly, consider, that though now by the world, and heretics, you be counted as not worth the looking after; yet you have your day a-coming, when as the Diveses of this and all other ages would be glad if they might have but the least favour from you, one drop of cold water on the tip of your fingers. Oh, you despised begging Lazaruses (as in Luke xvi.24;) for the world, for all their stoutness, must be forced to come to judgment, before your Lord and you. (1 Cor. vi.23.) "This honour have all his saints." (Ps. cxlix.9.)
Now seeing that these things be so, I beseech you by those the mercies of God, 1. That you do give up your bodies, as hands, tongue, strength, health, wealth, and all that you have and are, to the service of God, your God. (Rom. xii.1.) 2. "Let your moderation in every thing be known to all men," for "the Lord is at hand." (Phil. iv.5.) 3. Study to walk as like the Lord Jesus Christ as ever you can for your lives. (Matt. xi.29.) 4. Let that you strive for, be the faith of the gospel of your precious Lord Jesus, (Phil. i.27,) and not any earthly advantages. 5. "Let your conversation be as becometh the gospel." (Phil. i.27.) 6. Let your hearts be always in heaven, where our Lord Jesus is. (Col. iii.1-3.) 7. Forbear and forgive one another, in love, and with all your hearts, as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. (Eph. iv.2.) 8. "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." (Matt. v.16.) 9. You are the salt of the earth, have a care you lose not your savour. (Matt. v.13.) 10. Be forward to distribute to those that are in want, for this is well-pleasing to your most glorious loving Father. (Heb. xiii.16.) 11. Learn all one of another the things that are good, for this is the command of God, and also commendable in saints. (Phil. iii.17.) 12. And lastly, O brethren, consider what the Lord hath done for you; he hath bought you, and paid for you with his blood, and he doth now also make it his business to pray for your safe conduct to glory. (Heb. vii.25.) He hath delivered you from those that would have been your ruin, and hath promised to you everlasting life. Let the love of Christ constrain you, let the love of God win upon your souls. What! he that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all: how shall he not with him freely give us all things! Hold out, my brethren, hold out, for you have but a little while to run. Hold fast unto the death, and Christ will give you a crown of life. (Rev. ii.10.) Farewell, dear brethren; the mighty God of Jacob preserve and deliver you from every evil work; and all the days of our pilgrimage let us pray one for another, that our God would count us worthy of this rich and glorious calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power, to whom be glory now and ever.
And now, reader, before I make an end of this discourse, I think it meet to let thee understand, that though there hath been a book put forth by Edward Borrough, in seeming opposition to that of mine, called, Some Gospel Truths opened according to the Scripture, yet the substance of my discourse then published by me standeth uncontrolled by Scripture, as from him or others. I do not say, he doth not wrangle with them, but I say, he doth not by any one plain scripture contradict them.
As, for instance, 1. The first great thing that I do hold forth in that discourse, is this: That that babe that was born of the Virgin Mary, and that at that time did give satisfaction for sin, was the very Christ of God, and not a type of anything afterward to be revealed for the obtaining redemption for sinners within them. Which thing my adversary can find no ground in Scripture to build an opposition upon, see his book, p. 12; but is forced to confess it in word, though he do deny the very same in doctrine; see his book, p. 29, at his 6th query. And p. 26, where in answer to this question of mine, Why did the man Christ hang on the cross on Mount Calvary? all the answer he gives is this. Because they wickedly judged him to be a blasphemer; and as in their account, saith he, he died as an evil-doer. And this is all the ground he giveth: see his answer to my second query in this my book, taken word for word as he laid them down.
2. The next thing I do prove in that book is, That that light which every one hath, is not the Spirit of Christ; because the Scripture saith, Some have it not. (Jude 19.) But Edward Borrough saith, It is given to every one; p. 18 of his book: and he saith, They have it within them too; p. 26 of his book, in answer to my first question, though he have no scripture to confirm the same, as I have had to contradict it. See his book.
3. The next thing I prove is, That Jesus Christ did fulfil the law in his own person without us for justification, and that his blood then shed hath washed away the sins of the children of God, as aforesaid. Which thing he would oppose, but finds no footing for his discourse. See his book, p. 12, where he saith, The law is not fulfilled (read the latter end of that page), contrary to Scripture, (Col. ii.14. Rom. x.4,) which saith, "He did fulfil all the law for justification for every one that believeth." Another thing I prove in that book is, That Christ is ascended into that heaven without, above the clouds and stars; and that I prove by eight several scripture demonstrations, of which not one is confuted by Scripture, though secretly in his book smitten against. Read his whole book.
4. The next thing I prove is, That the same Jesus that was born of Mary, laid in the manger, who is the Saviour, is at this day making intercession in that body he then took of Mary; which thing also is not confuted by him by the Scripture; though cunningly smitten against in his discourse, where he saith, It is only necessary to salvation to preach Christ within, laying aside all that Christ did when he was in his own person in the world. See p. 29 of his book, Qu. 6.
5. Another truth I prove is, that the very same Jesus that was born of Mary, that very man, that was also hanged on the cross, will come the second time, and that shall be to save his children, and to judge the world at the last day, that great day of judgment. And though they will not own that he shall so come as he went away, which was a very man without; yet they could not at all by the Scripture contradict it. But the very sum of his discourses is a wrangling with the thing laid down, as a dog with a bone; but hath not, nor cannot by Scripture overcome the same. This have I written, that the reader into whose hand this book may come, may have the more certain information concerning the things before published by me, and also concerning the opposition made against them by the adversary. And here, because I am loth to be too tedious, I do conclude, and desire thy prayers to God for me, if thou be a Christian, that I may not only be preserved to the end in the faith of Jesus, but that God would enable me to be an earnest contender for the same, even to the last; and rest,
The servant of the Lord Jesus,
IT is very expedient that there should be heresies amongst us, that thereby those which are indeed of the truth might be made manifest; and also that the doctrine of God, and his Son Jesus Christ, might the more cast forth its lustre and glory. For the truth is of that nature, that the more it is opposed, the more glory it appears in; and the more the adversary objects against it, the more it will clear itself; which doth give me, and all that stand for it, and doth plead on its side in the wisdom of the Spirit, much boldness and encouragement, to venture without any slavish fear upon those that have already, or shall hereafter, stand up to oppose it. I did some few weeks past put forth a small book, called, Some Gospel Truths opened, and so forth; and the thing I looked for from them was, namely, opposition from the adversary, which hath been accomplished in that, namely, as I did look for it, so it did happen: not that it daunted me; for if it had so done, it might have made me kept those truths within my breast, which are now made manifest by me, as well as others, to the world. Now I have not only met with some opposition from others face to face in secret, but there is one Edward Burrough, as I heard his name is so, by some of themselves, that hath ventured to stand up against the truth, with the rest of his companions, and hath published a book, called The true Faith of the Gospel of Peace contended for. In which book of his there is a very great number of heresies cunningly vented by him, and also many things there falsely reported of me, which things in this my discourse I shall very plainly discover; and the way that I shall take shall be, first, by laying down some of thy expressions, and also some of mine; and by enquiring into the truth of one, and the error of the other, through the assistance of the Spirit of Christ, and according to the Scriptures: only by the way, I think good to mind thee of thy clothing thyself with the words of the prophets and apostles, against whom thou didst fight, as will appear in my following discourse, and also of thy endeavouring to wrest the sword out of the hands of the saints, and art fighting against them bitterly, with a parcel of scolding expressions. But I wish thee to learn, if thou canst, to be sober, and to keep under thy unruly spirit, and do not so much appear, at least not so grossly, a railing Rabshakeh; but contrariwise, if you would be looked upon to be holy, which we know and believe that, as yet, many of you are not, let at the least some appearance of moderation be manifest among you. After many words that are flung into the wind by thee, my adversary, in the first and second page of thy book, thou couldst not be contented therewith, as being too few to vent thyself withal; but thou breakest out in page 3, with a small testimony of John Burton, and his fellow, saying, "They have joined themselves with the broken army of Magog; and have showed themselves in the defence of the dragon against the Lamb, in the day of war betwixt them." When, alas! poor soul, we do know, and are bold to declare, in the name of the Lord Jesus, the Son of Mary, that our God hath owned us, with others of his servants, in his own work against the devil's devices and false doctrine, as instruments both for the comforting and establishing of his own, and also for the convincing and converting of some of them who aforetime were not converted. And, friend, why dost thou say that we join with Magog in the defence of the dragon against the Lamb, when thou seest the whole drift of my brother's epistle, and also of my writing, is to exalt and advance the first-born of Mary, the Lord of glory, and to hold on his side, notwithstanding there are so many tempests go through the world? and the rather, because we know that it is he, and he alone, that did bear our sins in his own body on the tree, (1 Pet. ii.24;) for it is he that hath taken away the sins of the world. Now I say, therefore, do not thou thus accuse the brethren for speaking good of the name of Jesus, lest thou be troubled at the end for thus spending thy beginning in taking part with the devil to accuse God's children.
Then in the same page thou sayest, thou hast numbered up part of our work, and the sum is, A corrupted grain of Babylon's treasure, &c. Ans. Friend, the sum of our discourse is of the birth, righteousness, death, blood, resurrection, ascension, intercession, and second coming of the Son of Mary the Virgin, by which righteousness, blood, death, burial, resurrection, ascension, and intercession we are saved. And dost thou count this a corrupted grain of Babylon's treasure? Have a care what thou sayest, lest thou utter that with thy mouth now which will lie heavy on thy conscience for ever.
Then, as though this thy unwise speaking were too little, thou breakest out with a taunt or a jeer, saying, A larger portion, and more to the purpose might have been brought in, but with such as you had, or could procure from your neighbours, are you come. Ans. Friend, Who hath despised the day of small things? But, again, we desire not to bring to others, no, nor to know ourselves, anything else but Jesus Christ, the Son of Mary, and him crucified for our sins. (1 Cor. ii.2.) Then thou sayest further in the same page, That though thou hast not seen our faces, yet our spirit is tried, and we are clearly described to thee, sayest thou, to be of the stock of Ishmael, and of the seed of Cain, whose line reacheth to the murdering priests, &c. Ans. Friend, thou art very censorious, and utterest many words without knowledge. We bless God, for the most part of our line, we do labour to stretch it out either in building up and exhorting the saints of the Most High to cleave close to their Jesus, or else, as much as in us lies, we labour to convince poor souls of their lost condition, according to the word of God, and not to murder any. Nay, contrariwise, we desire, through grace, if at any time we chance to see any of Christ's lambs in the teeth of any wolf or bear, be they never so terrible in appearance: I say, we desire, we labour, we strive, and lay out ourselves, if it be possible, to recover the same, though with the hazard of our lives, or whatsoever may befal us in doing our duty. And whereas thou sayest in the fourth page, that we are found enemies to Christ, revealed in his saints. Ans. Thou dost us wrong, for we labour all that we may to countenance the same, where he doth indeed appear; and if at any time we do see or discern that any soul hath any breathing after the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, we are so far from disowning or discountenancing of the same, that we give them all the encouragement we may: nay, and we are so far from discountenancing the doctrine of God, and his Son Jesus Christ, that we say plainly, some have not the Spirit of Christ in them, and they are reprobates, according to that scripture, Rom. viii.9: "If any man hath not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his." And again, some are "sensual, having not the Spirit." (Jude 19.) And again, we are so far from being against the doctrine of the Spirit of Christ in his saints, we bless God that we say, it is the distinguishing character of a true believer, from others: all which things do I also affirm in my book, and hold forth, as doth also my brother in his epistle. Therefore, I marvel that you should be overseen, as to utter so many false things together, in less than four sides of paper; I wonder what will be the end of your discourse.
Well, now thou dost come and fall a wrangling with some of the words of my brother Burton, which are to this purpose, he speaking before of the doctrine of Jesus; and this is quite contrary, saith he, to those commonly called Familists, Ranters, Quakers, and others, who on the other hand either deny Christ to be a real man without them, blasphemously fancying him to be only God manifest in their flesh, or else make his human nature, with the fulness of the Godhead in it, to be but a type of God to be manifested in the saints. Now, first of all, the great offence thou takest of some of these words, is, because he doth join in his discourse Familists, Ranters, and Quakers together. Friend, what harm is it to join a dog and a wolf together? A fawning dog and a wolf in sheep's clothing; they differ a little in outward appearance, but they can both agree to worry Christ's lambs. But again, friend, let us a little compare the principles of a Ranter and a Quaker together, and it will clearly appear, that in many of their principles, at least, they agree, or jump in one:--
As, 1. The Ranters will own Christ no otherwise than only within; and this is also the principle of the Quakers; they will not own Christ without them. 2. The Ranters, they cry down all teaching but the teaching within; and so do the Quakers, witness thousands, and yet condemn their principles by their practice, as the Ranters also did and do. Now the Apostle saith the contrary, saying, "He that knoweth God heareth us," meaning himself with the rest of the apostles and servants of Christ; "he that is not of God heareth not us." (1 John iv.6.) Again, 3. The Ranters are neither for the ordinance of baptism with water, nor breaking of bread. And are not you the same? 4. The Ranters would profess that they were without sin? and how far short of this opinion are the Quakers? 5. The Ranters would not own the resurrection of the bodies of the saints after they were laid in the graves; and how say you, Do you believe that the very bodies of the saints, as the very body of Abraham, and the body of Isaac, with the bodies of all the saints, notwithstanding some of them have been in the graves thousands of years, others hundreds, some less: I say, Do you believe the resurrection of these very bodies again, which were buried so long since; or do you hold, as the Ranters do, nothing but the resurrection from a sinful to a holy state in this life?
And really I tell thee, reader, plainly, that for the generality, the very opinions that are held at this day by the Quakers are the same that long ago were held by the Ranters. Only the Ranters had made them threadbare at an alehouse, and the Quakers have set a new gloss upon them again, by an outward legal holiness or righteousness. But, again, Why should you be so angry with my brother, for joining of a sinner and a liar together? Is there any great harm in that? Surely no. And the joining Ranters and Quakers together is but so. The Quakers themselves confess, the Ranters are to be disowned, page 4. Nay, if they would not, yet God hath disowned them in the open views of the nations. Now that the Quakers are liars, I shall prove from their own mouth. As, first, from the several things that I did oppose even now, pages 1-4 of his book, called The True Faith of the Gospel of Peace, &c. Now, lest they should be slighted and set at nought, I shall show you clearly this man's lies manifestly laid down in his book against me. As, first, he saith of me in his book, (pages 11, 12,) that I said positively, the blood of Christ was shed before the world began. Whereas I said only this, that in the account of God (mark it, in the account of God) his blood was shed before the world was, according to that scripture, (Rev. xiii.8,) "The Lamb slain from the foundation of the world," in my book, page 3. Secondly, he saith, that I cry aloud against Christ within, in page 24 of his book. And again he saith, that all my work is an obscure shooting against the manifestation of Christ within. Where he speaks very falsely of me, for I confess and own God's Christ within as well as without, as appears in my book, page 206, towards the end. And in the epistle to my book, you may find the same held out by me for two or three leaves together, besides, many other places of my book do testify of the same; therefore, doth not he lie miserably in this also?
Again, he saith, that I am one of those that do preach for hire, through covetousness, making merchandise of souls, (page 23 of his book,) which is also an untruth, as I shall show further when I come to the place.
Again he saith, (in page 30,) that I said, "Christ's coming in the Spirit was no coming." Here also he uttereth falsehood. I never said so, as many of our brethren can witness. But of this also in its place, when I come to it, with many other things which he hath very untruly vented of me, which I fear not but they shall be cleared, both now, and also at the second appearance of the man Christ Jesus. And therefore, friend, I say to thee, be not so pharisaical as to say within thine heart, "I am not as this publican. Why am I reckoned with the Ranters?" Thou art, both thou and thy fellows, of the same mind with them in many things, and shall assuredly partake of the same plague with them, if they and you repent not speedily.
Again, in page 7, thou wouldst make us believe that the Quakers do really and truly lay the Christ of God, God-man, for their foundation; saying, "We prize the Lord Jesus Christ, God-man, to be precious to us, and to all that do believe, and have owned him to be the foundation, &c. Now, friend, this is fairly spoken; but by words in general we may be deceived, because a man may speak one thing with his mouth, and mean another thing in his heart; especially it is so with those that use to utter themselves doubtfully; therefore we will a little inquire what it is to lay Christ, God-man, for a foundation.
1. Then, to lay God's Christ, God-man, for a foundation, is to believe that man that was born of the Virgin Mary to be the Saviour.
How he was and is the Saviour, and, therefore, if you do indeed lay him for your foundation, then you do believe that when the man Christ did hang on the cross on Mount Calvary, that then your sins were satisfied for at that time; as it is written, "He bare our sins in his own body on the tree." (1 Pet. ii.24.)
2. If the Christ of God, God-man, be indeed your foundation, then you do believe that that very man in that very body did fulfil all the law, in the point of justification; as it is written, "Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth." So that now, believe aright in what the Son of Mary hath done without on the cross, and be saved.
3. If you have laid Christ that man aright for your foundation, then you do believe, that when he was raised out of the sepulchre into which Joseph had laid him, then at that time was accomplished your justification. (Rom. iv.25.) How say you to these things, do you make an open profession of them without dissembling? Or do you not, notwithstanding your talk of Christ, in very deed deny the virtue of the death and blood of Christ without, as for justification and life? If so, you have not laid him for your foundation.
4. If you have indeed laid Christ, God-man, for your foundation, then you do lay the hope of your felicity and joy on this, that the Son of Mary is now absent from his children in his person and humanity, making intercession for them and for thee, in the presence of his Father. (2 Cor. v.6.) And the reason that thou canst rejoice hereat is, because thou hast not only heard of it with thine ear only, but dost enjoy the sweet hope and faith of them in thy heart; which hope and faith is begotten by the Spirit of Christ, which Spirit dwelleth in thee, if thou be a believer, and showeth those things to thee to be the only things. And God having shown thee these things, thus without thee by the Spirit that dwelleth in thee, thou hast mighty encouragement to hope for the glory that shall be revealed at the coming again of the man Christ Jesus, of which glory thou hast also greater ground to hope for a share in, because that that Spirit that alone is able to discover to thee the truth of these things, is given to thee of God as the first-fruits of that glory which is hereafter to be revealed, being obtained for thee by the man Christ Jesus's death on Mount Calvary, and by his blood that was shed there, together with his resurrection from the dead, out of the grave where they had laid him. Also, thou believest that he is gone away from thee in the same body which was hanged on the cross, to take possession of that glory, which thou through his obedience shall at his (the very same man's) return from heaven the second time have bestowed upon thee, having all this while prepared and preserved it for thee, as he saith himself; "I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to myself, that where I am there ye may be also." (John xiv.2,3.) Again,
5. If thou hast laid Christ, God-man, for thy foundation, though thou hast the Spirit of this man Christ within thee, yet thou doest not look that justification should be wrought out for thee by that Spirit of Christ that dwelleth within thee, for thou knowest that salvation is already obtained for thee by the man Christ Jesus without thee, and is witnessed to thee by his Spirit which dwelleth within thee. And thus much doth this man Christ Jesus testify unto us where he saith, "He shall glorify me;" mark, "He shall glorify me," saith the Son of Mary. But how? Why, "he shall take of mine," what I have done, and am doing in the presence of the Father, "and shall show it unto you." (John xvi.14.) I have been a little the larger in this, because it is of weight.
But, again, thou sayest further, the rest of this first epistle I shall say little to; only thus much is the mind of the penman's spirit, secretly smiting at the doctrine of true faith and salvation, to wit, Christ within. Ans. My friend, by saying that my brother doth strike at the doctrine of true faith and salvation, thou dost him a great deal of wrong; for it is so far from him so to do, that he telleth souls plainly, that without true faith in the blood of the Son of Mary, who was crucified on Mount Calvary, there is no remission; for, saith he, it is only through that one offering then given up to the Father, that you must be justified. And that is according to the whole stream of Scripture: "For by one offering;" What was that? Why, the offering up of the body of Jesus once for all, (Heb. x.10;) "he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. For this man, when he had offered up one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down." Mark it: "This man, when he had offered up one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God." (ver. 12.)
And as for thy saying, that salvation is Christ within; if thou mean, in opposition to Christ without, instead of pleading for Christ, thou wilt plead against him; for Christ, God-man, without on the cross did bring in salvation for sinners. And the right believing of that doth justify the soul. Therefore Christ within, or the Spirit of him who did give himself a ransom, doth not work out justification for the soul in the soul; but doth lead the soul out of itself, and out of that that can be done within itself, to look for salvation in that Man that is now absent from his saints on earth. (2 Cor. v.6.) Why so? For, it knoweth that there is salvation in none other. (Acts iv.12.) And, therefore, I would wish thee to have a care what thou dost, for I tell thee, that Man who is now jeered by some, because he is preached to be without them, will very suddenly come the second time, to the great overthrow of those who have spoken, and shall still speak against him. (Jude 14,15.)
Thou sayest also, the next thing thou mindest, is this in the second epistle, where a question is asked, who are the men that at this day are so deluded by the Quakers', and other pernicious doctrines, but they that counted it enough to be talkers of the gospel? &c. This man, saith the Quaker, is of the same spirit with his fellow, and will more abound in lies, &c. And why? Because he saith the Quakers are those deceivers that at this day beguile poor souls by their doctrine. Alas, poor man! why shouldest thou be angry for my speaking the truth, in saying, the Quakers are deceivers? This will easily appear.
For, 1. They deny the man Christ to be without them, and own Christ no otherwise but as he is within, contrary to that scripture which saith, for "While we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord." This is touching his bodily presence. And, again, he was parted from them, "and a cloud received him out of their sight. And he was carried away from them, and so received up into heaven." (Acts i.9-11.) Now, he that denieth this is a deceiver, as is clear, in that he doth speak against the truth laid down in the Scripture.
2. The Quakers are deceivers, in that they persuade souls that Christ is crucified in them, dead within them, and kept down by some things within them which was never taught by those that spake the Scripture from the Spirit of God. Show me a scripture to confirm such a doctrine as this, which hath been avouched over and over by the Quakers.
3. The Quakers are deceivers, because they do persuade souls that that man that was born of the Virgin Mary is not above the clouds and the stars, when the scripture saith, "A cloud received him out of the sight of his saints." And, again, that he is above the highest heavens, which must needs be above the stars, for they are not the highest.
4. The Quakers are deceivers, because they persuade souls not to believe, that that man that was crucified and rose again, flesh and bones, (Luke xxiv.38-40,) shall so come again, that very man, in the clouds of heaven to judgment as he went away; and at the very same time shall raise up all the men and women out of their graves, and cause them to come to the valley of Jehoshaphat; because there will he, that very man, sit to judge all the heathen round about. I say, they strive to beat souls off from believing this, though it be the truth of God witnessed by the Scripture. (Joel iii.11,12, as also Acts i.10,11.) "This same Jesus which is taken from you into heaven, shall so come"--mark, "the very same,"--"in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven." "And his feet shall stand in that day," the day of his second coming, "upon the Mount of Olives." (Zech. xiv.4.) Where is that? Not within thee, but that which is without Jerusalem, before it, on the east side. I say, now, he that persuades souls not to believe this, but makes them believe there is no such thing, as the Quakers do, he is a deceiver. Again, the Quakers make no difference between that light wherewith Christ, as he is God, hath enlightened all, and the Spirit of Christ he gives not to all; which I shall show by and by to be a deceit.
5. The Quakers are deceivers, because they say, that every one hath that which is like the Spirit of Christ, even good as the Spirit of Christ, (page 10 of his book,) which is desperate blasphemy. The Scripture saith plainly, that "some are sensual, having not the Spirit." And yet though they have not that, they have, say the Quakers, that which is as good as that. Oh wonderful deceit! as I shall show further by and by when I come to the place. But to cover himself, and so his deceit, he doth apply that to himself that should be applied for the encouragement of the children of God: saying, the children of God were always counted deceivers; we, saith he, have a cloud of witnesses. Ans. Friend, they were called deceivers, and were not so; but you are rightly called so, as I have already showed, and shall show further by and by. In the mean time, know, that the devil knows how to take children's bread, and cast it to the dogs.
Then the next thing that he is grieved with, is because I said, there are none but a company of light Notionists, Ranters, with here and there a Legalist, that was shaking in their principles, that were carried away by the Quakers, &c. When this appears in all men's sight that can see, though you would not have it so, it is like. And as for your saying, because all sorts of people are brought to God, I am offended therewith; I answer, No, friend, I bless God my soul can rejoice that souls come in to Jesus Christ, though it grieves me to see how some with a spirit of delusion are deceived and destroyed, by its coming unto them as an angel of light. And whereas thou sayest, I am like the Pharisees, who said, none believe, but a company of poor people, which know not the law: Ans. I bless God, I do know they are the poor that receive the gospel; but, friend, I must tell you, that you and your fellows may seek for justification from the law, and yet have no better a recompence than to be condemned by the law.
Now, passing many railings, I come to the next thing that thou dost stumble at, which is in that I say, some of those delusions the devil doth deceive poor souls withal, are, first, in that he doth persuade them, that salvation was not completely wrought out for sinners by the man Christ Jesus, though he did it gloriously upon the cross, without the gates of Jerusalem. Now these words, "he did it gloriously on the cross, without the gates of Jerusalem," thou leavest out. Therefore, I ask, do you believe that at that time, when he did hang upon that cross on Mount Calvary, that he did, by that death he died there, redeem all his elect from eternal vengeance? If not, whatever thou sayest, thou wilt certainly see, that Satan hath caught thee in his snare, notwithstanding thy railing against the Lord Jesus. And, friend, thou mayest call thy conscience the man Christ Jesus; or the light, as thou callest it, in thy conscience, the man Christ Jesus; which, if thou do, this is a delusion and a dangerous doctrine: for a Spirit hath not flesh and bones, and so hath the man Christ Jesus. Now it may be, you think farther that the church, with the Spirit of Christ, is the man Christ Jesus, which is also a damnable heresy. Therefore, speak plainly; Dost thou believe that the man Christ Jesus is ascended from his people in his person? And, again, dost thou believe that he which ascended from his disciples, did bring in everlasting salvation for them in that his body which ascended from them? An answer to this might give great satisfaction to souls, if also it might be made in words easily to be understood. Again,
Thou art also offended with the second deceit which I lay down in my epistle, which is, say I, for the devil to bid souls follow that light which they brought into the world with them, telling them that that will lead them to the kingdom. Now thou seemest gravelled because I said, "which they brought into the world with them." If thou art offended at that, show me when, and at what time, every soul he receives a light from Christ after it comes into the world. Now this I say, that every man hath not the Spirit of Christ within him, (Jude 19;) and that there is nothing that can show the soul the things of Christ savingly, but the Spirit of Christ. (1 Cor. ii.11.) Then will not you yourself confess, that he is deluded that is persuaded to follow that light that cannot reveal Christ unto him? But I must mind you of one filthy error also which thou layest down in page 10. Corrupting the Scripture to make it good, but in vain; when thou sayest, That light which every man is lightened withal, will lead unto the kingdom of peace and righteousness. And then thou addest, for, saith Christ, "I am the light of the world; he that followeth me shall not abide in darkness, or walk in darkness." Pray, mark. First, thou callest it the light of Christ, wherewith he hath lightened every one; and here thou comest a step higher, and callest it Christ himself; and then corruptest that scripture where the Son of Mary saith, "I am the light of the world," &c. Here thou wouldst very willingly have room to broach thy folly, but it may not be; for though Christ be the light of the world, yet he is not in every one in the world. But, secondly, I pray where was Christ when he spake those words? Was he, I say, within his disciples, or without them, when he said, "I am the light of the world?" He was without them, and walked up and down in the world with them from place to place, a very man. Therefore, he did not mean at that time any light within, but himself, who was without. And, indeed, they who will follow Christ aright, must follow him without, to the cross without, for justification on Mount Calvary without; that is, they must seek for justification by his obedience without. To the grave without, and to his ascension and intercession in heaven without; and this must be done through the operation of his own Holy Spirit, that he hath promised shall show these things unto them, being given within them for that purpose. (John xvi.14.) Now the Spirit of Christ, that leads also, but whither? It leads to Christ without, which said, being without, "I am the light of the world; he that followeth me shall not abide in darkness, but shall have the light of life." Deny this, that Christ was without when he spake those words, "I am the light of the world," if you can.
But to come more close to the thing. That light wherewith Christ, as he is God, hath lightened every one that cometh into the world, is the soul of man, which is the life of the body, and yet itself is but a creature, and made by the Creator of all things, (Isa. lvii.16;) and is not the Spirit, as some do think it is. This creature hath one faculty of his own nature, called conscience, which hath its place in the soul, where it is as a judge to discern of things good or bad, and judge them accordingly, as the Apostle saith, speaking of the heathens, "their conscience either accusing or else excusing one another." (Rom. ii.14.) This conscience is that in which is the law of nature, (1 Cor. xi.14,) which is able to teach the Gentiles that sin against the law is sin against God: and yet it is called but even nature itself, as he saith there, "Doth not even nature itself teach you?" &c.
Now this conscience, this nature itself, because it can control and chide them for sin who give ear unto it, therefore must it be idolized and made a God of? Oh, wonderful! that men should make a God and a Christ of their consciences, because they can convince of sin. But thou goest ramping on, and sayest, there is nothing but the light of Christ that will convince of sin, and thou biddest me mind that. Now, dost thou mean the Spirit of Christ? dost thou say that that which thou callest the light of Christ is the Spirit of Christ? If so, then there is conscience which is not the Spirit of Christ, but a poor dunghill creature in comparison of the Spirit of Christ; yet will convince of sin, as is clear, from that 8th of John, where the woman is mentioned who was taken in adultery by the Pharisees, or others, who when they had brought her to Christ, and began to accuse her, Christ said, "He that is without sin among you, let him cast a stone at her." And what then? When they heard that, they were convicted by their own consciences. Mark, he doth not say, by the light of Christ in their consciences, as some would have it to be; no, but by their own consciences they were convinced, and went out one by one. And were they all served so? Yea, from the eldest even to the last; for they all had consciences, though not the Spirit of Christ. So that, friend, here is something beside the Spirit of Christ that can and doth convince of sin, even a man's own conscience, the law of nature, nay, nature itself, which no man will say is as good as the Spirit of Christ, except they are guided by a deluding spirit. Again, thou sayest, He that convinceth of sins against the law, leads up to the fulfilling of the law. Friend, thy conscience convinceth of sins against the law; follow thy conscience, it may lead thee under the curse of the law through its weakness; but it can never deliver thee from the curse of the law by its power. For if righteousness come by the obedience to the law, or by thy conscience either, then Christ is dead in vain. (Gal. ii.21.)
Again thou sayest, "That I and my generation would leap over the law."
Ans. For justification we look beyond it to the Son of Mary; yet we know that the law is good, if it be used lawfully; but if it be used unlawfully, as those do use it who seek to be justified by their obedience to it, it is made an idol of, and a Saviour, though it were given to no such purpose: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have come by thy obedience to the law. (Gal. iii.21.) Now, at thy conclusions sometimes thou dost utter thyself in this wise, "Learn what this means."
Ans. Indeed thy works are dark, and enough to deceive the hearts of the simple; but, blessed be God, he hath given me to understand that thou dost all along, in the drift of thy discourse, disown Christ without, by pretending to a Christ within; whereas, hadst thou indeed the Spirit of Christ within thee, it would be thy great business to extol and magnify the Son of Mary, the Christ of God without thee, because it is the nature of the same Spirit so to do, even to glorify Christ without, who went away from his disciples into heaven, (Luke xxiv.50,51,) to prepare a place for them.
Then thou further sayest, with a kind of disdaining spirit, "Many things more thou passest by in my book, as being not pertinent to the thing in hand." But I believe they are so pertinent, that neither thou, nor thy friends or fellows, are able to contradict without blaspheming, in the view of all them that have eyes to see; for if they could, it should have been done by thee. And whereas thou sayest, "Fools must be meddling:" Ans. It must needs be, that the saints of God should be called fools by the enemies of the man Christ Jesus without, because that the doctrine of the man Christ Jesus, crucified without for the sins of poor sinners, is also held to be foolishness by them; although it be the wisdom and also the power of God unto every one that believeth. (1 Cor. i.23,24.)
And further, thou sayest that the pope can speak as much of Christ without, as I. Ans. Friend, dost thou put no difference betwixt the speaking of Christ without, and believing in Christ without? I tell thee, though there may be many that can speak of the Christ of God without, yet there are but very few that can or do believe indeed in him without, by the mighty operation of his Holy Spirit within. Nay, you yourselves do testify this, who deny that the salvation of sinners was completely wrought out by that one offering of Jesus Christ without upon the cross on Mount Calvary, and that he is ascended from his disciples above the clouds, touching his bodily presence, as in 2 Cor. v.6, compared with Acts i.9-11.
Then again thou sayest, "I do ask myself a question, and do also answer it myself deceitfully." The question is, Do not the Scriptures make mention of a Christ within? And thou sayest, I answer it deceitfully myself. But I answer again, that I am not ashamed of that answer I then gave, because I know it is truth; and whereas thou sayest it is deceitful, and yet canst not find fault with any point thereof, it confirms me, that had there been falsity in it, such an enemy to the truth as thou art would have taken that advantage, as to have discovered , that thereby thou mightest have rendered the truth the more odious. The answer I shall leave to the Christian reader, which is so indeed; yet am confirmed myself concerning it, and shall give thee an answer to thy question, which is, Doth not the Scriptures say, or witness, that all that have not Christ within are reprobates? Ans. Yes, the Scripture saith so, and it is true, they that have not the Spirit of Christ in them are reprobates. But there are some that are reprobates, that you will confess. Then by your own argument you must grant, that some have not the Spirit of Christ in them. Pray take notice, they that have not the Spirit of Christ in them are reprobates. There are some who are reprobates; therefore there are some who are sensual, "having not the Spirit of Christ in them." See thy folly, how it is made manifest. (Jude 19.) The next thing thou art offended withal, is, because I say, the devil deceives poor souls by persuading them to follow the light within, which all men have. Ans. Friend, I say, again and again, that there is nothing less than the Spirit of Christ that can give a soul a sight of justification by the blood of the man Christ Jesus without, by following of it. Now, as thou sayest thyself, some are reprobates, and have not the Spirit of Christ.
Then is it any heresy to say, that it is of the devil to persuade a soul to follow that light which is no better than conscience, or nature itself, which are not able to lead to Christ his things, being foolishness to it, (Rom. ii.14;) or is conscience, which every one is lightened withal, the Spirit of Christ? Give an answer in sincerity.
Then thou sayest, that my whole purpose is a secret smiting at the light wherewith Christ hath lightened every man. I answer, my whole design in my book is, and was, these following things:
1. To show souls where salvation is to be had: namely, in Christ without.
2. To show souls how they should lay hold of this salvation; namely, by the operation of the Spirit of Christ, which must be given within.
3. To forewarn poor souls, that they should not deceive themselves, neither by conscience nor the law; which are both inferior, and much below the Spirit of Christ; even as much as he that buildeth the house hath more honour than the house. (Heb. iii.3.)
4. To show how poor souls should know whether they had the Spirit of Christ or not within them, or whether the spirit of the devil had exalted himself above the Spirit of Christ, by transforming himself into an angel of light.
Farther, thou thinkest I contradict myself, because I admonish poor souls to beg of God to convince them by his Holy spirit; and thou sayest, This is my confusion; when, alas! confusion is of and from thyself, who wouldst make a defiled conscience, the law, and the Spirit of Christ, to be all one; as I shall further clear to the reader by and by.
But I tell thee, friend, there are many who have not the Spirit of Christ, and yet are convinced of sin by their own consciences. (John viii.9.) He doth not say, "by the light of Christ in their consciences;" that is a saying of your own, without warrant from the word of God, but, "by their own consciences." Mark that. Now I, knowing that a man may be convinced, and yet not by the Spirit of Christ, for he may be without that, but by nature itself, (1 Cor. xi.14,) I do admonish every soul, if they love themselves, to beg of God, for Jesus Christ his sake, that he would not only let them be convinced by these poor, low, empty, beggarly things, their consciences, in respect of the Spirit of Christ, but that he would convince them by that Spirit of his effectually, which is not only able to show their lost state because of sins against the law, but also to lead them to the right Saviour, and plant them into him, which all other things are not able to do. And thus much in answer to thy scolding against my first epistle, the truth of which, I bless God, through the strength of Christ, I could be willing to seal with my blood.
And now, friend, in love to thy soul, I say, have a care of thyself, that thou do not satisfy thyself with any thing, until thou seest, by the operation of the Spirit of Christ, which thou must have given thee from heaven, as being without it before conversion, that the blood of that man Christ Jesus that was crucified on Mount Calvary, did at that same time, when it was there shed, wash thee from all thy sins; and be not so stout and so stern against the truth, because it suits not with thy beguiled conscience. Bear with me in patience, and seriously inquire into the truth of things according to the Scriptures: "For they are they that testify of Christ," and how salvation doth come by him.