Quaker Heritage Press > Online Texts > The Bunyan-Burrough Debate > Bunyan, Vindication [4 of 4]
The first query that I propounded is, If thou sayest that every man hath a measure of the Spirit of Christ within him, why say the Scriptures, "Some are sensual, having not the Spirit?" And when Christ telleth his disciples, of sending them the Spirit, he saith, the world cannot receive it. Here, in the first place, thou hast not only answered deceitfully, but hast also corrupted my words in laying down the query, in that thou didst leave out some words; for thou didst lay it down thus: "If thou sayest that every man hath a measure of the Spirit of Christ within him, why say the Scriptures, 'Some are sensual, having not the Spirit;' and Christ saith, 'The world cannot receive it?'" (Reader, compare them both together.)
Now thy answer is, "Some are sensual, having not the Spirit, because they receive it not; and some cannot receive it, because they believe not on him from whence it comes." Yet, sayest thou, "The measure of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal," as the Scriptures say: when there is no scripture saith, a measure of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. But again, see here thy strange confusion. 1. To say, some have it not. 2. To say every man hath it. But you would make a difference between having and receiving: but I tell thee, he that hath it hath received it, (Gal. iii.2,) and he that hath not received it, hath it not. (Jude 19.)
My second query was, "What is the church of God redeemed by from the curse of law? Is it by something done within them, or by something done without them?" If you say, it is redeemed by something that worketh in them, then why did the man Christ Jesus hang on the cross on Mount Calvary, without the gate of Jerusalem, for the sins of his children? and why do the Scriptures say, that "through this Man is preached to us the forgiveness of sins"?
The answer thou givest is, "The church of God is redeemed by Christ Jesus, which is revealed in all believers. And Christ Jesus wrought in them mightily; and it was he that wrought in them to will and to do.
"This is plain Scripture; and the man Christ Jesus," sayest thou, "hanged on the cross on Mount Calvary: because they wickedly judged him to be a blasphemer, and through their envy persecuted him to death; because he bare witness against them, and as in their account he died, and hanged on the cross, for an evil doer. And this is one ground, at least, why he hanged on the cross," &c.
Ha! Friend. I had thought thou hadst not been so much hardened; art thou not ashamed thus to slight the death of the man Christ Jesus on the cross; and reckon it not effectually for salvation, but sayest, the church is redeemed by Christ Jesus which is revealed within? And to confirm it, thou dost also corruptly bring in two Scriptures.
The one saith, "Whereunto I also labour according to his working, which worketh in me mightily." By which words Paul signifies thus much, That as God was with him in the ministry of the word, so did he also strive according to his working which wrought in him mightily. What is this to the purpose? (See Col. i.26-29.) And also, the other scripture makes nothing to prove, that the church of God is redeemed by Christ within, as he is within. Only you must corrupt the Scriptures, and be transformed, though ministers of darkness, into an angel of light, if you will do any mischief.
And now, that thy answer is false, I shall clearly prove. First, because thou deniest that redemption was wrought out for sinners by the man Christ Jesus on the cross, or tree, on Mount Calvary; when the Scripture saith plainly, that when he did hang on the tree then did he bear all our sins there in his own body. (1 Pet. ii.24.)
And, secondly, in thy saying it is redeemed by Christ within, by being within; when the work of the Spirit of Christ in believers is to make known to the soul, by dwelling within, which way and how they were redeemed by the man Christ Jesus on the cross. And this I prove farther, because when thou art forced to answer to these words, Why did the man Christ Jesus hang on the cross on Mount Calvary for the sins of his children? thou sayest, Because they wickedly judged him to be a blasphemer. Friend, I did not ask thee why the Jews did put him to death? but why was he crucified there for the sins of his children? But thou, willing to cover over thine error, goest on cunningly, saying, "And through their envy they persecuted him to death, for an evil doer. This is one ground at least," &c.
Friend, but that thou art ashamed to own the gospel of Jesus Christ, thou wouldst have said, he was crucified there for the sins of the world; and by his offering up of himself upon the cross, he did for ever perfect them that are sanctified. Nay, thou wouldst have studied to exalt his dying there; first, by showing what a sad condition we were in without it; secondly, by holding forth the manifold and great privileges that we have by his dying for us there. But thou art at enmity against the things of God, as is clearly seen by those that have indeed the Spirit of God in them, and are enabled thereby to discern you. And though you say, there is no other that can forgive sin, nor the blood of any other that can take away sin, but the blood of God; yet thou deniest that the blood of him, who was, and is, truly God as well as man, Christ Jesus; I say, thou deniest that his blood that was shed without Jerusalem gates doth wash away sin from the saints of God, and cunningly, though not at this time uttered, concluding that the blood of God was shed for sin on a cross within. If it be not so, then call me liar; but it will clearly appear so to be in your answer to my third query.
The third query is, What scripture have you to prove that Christ is or was crucified within you, dead within you, risen within you, ascended within you?
Thy answer is, There is no scripture that mentions every of our names in particular. And thy query, sayest thou, is raised from a misunderstanding of us, so I judge. But Christ is within us, that we do not deny; and he is the Lamb that was slain in the streets of the great city, which is spiritually called Sodom and Egypt--(mind, spiritually)--and he is now risen and ascended; this we know, and leave thee to receive a further answer from them that are led by a spirit of delusion.
Friend, how dost thou run about the bush, seeking to scrabble up an answer, but findest not a right one, and wouldst also fain hold out, that Christ is or was crucified within, dead within, risen and ascended within; but seeing thou canst not with or by the Scriptures give an answer; then seeing thyself left of them, through the strength of carnal reason, thou goest about this way! Is there any of our names made mention of in Scripture, or to that purpose, and wouldst fain infer from thence, that because we have names, though not mentioned in Scriptures, therefore Christ is and was crucified within, though not mentioned in the Scriptures. Friend, thy sophistry deceives thee.
The second argument, which is like the first, is this, He is the Lamb slain in the streets of the great city, spiritually called Sodom and Egypt. Now from the word "spiritually," thou wouldst willingly infer also, that Christ is and was crucified within, dead within, and risen within you, and therefore thou sayest, "mind, spiritually." Friend, I may well mind thy spiritual wickedness, by which thou wouldst willingly cover thy heresy, but it will not be. Though thou dare not speak plainly in so many words, yet the thoughts of thy heart are made manifest by the words that flow from thee.
Ah, friend! that thou couldst but close with the truth, and venture thy soul upon what was done by Jesus on the cross without the gates of Jerusalem! for it is by and through that blood that was there shed that we have redemption, (Heb. xiii.12, compared with Col. i.20,) and remission of sins. (Eph. i.7, and 1 Pet. ii.24.)
My fourth query was, Is that very man that was crucified between two thieves, whose name was Jesus the Son of Mary, is he the very Christ of God, yea or nay?
Thy answer is, Yes, he is the very Christ of God, which was before the world was, by whom the world was made, who was made manifest from Mary's womb, and was persecuted to death by the Scribes and Pharisees, in whose steps thou treadest, in asking subtle questions to ensnare the innocent, as they did. Read thy example, sayest thou, and thyself to be an enemy to God's Christ.
This answer is doubtfully given; I did not ask thee whether he was the Christ of God, that was before the world was; but I asked thee whether he was the Christ of God, that did hang between two thieves on Mount Calvary. Now I know the Christ of God was before the world was; but thou art afraid to look upon him as suffering on the cross on Mount Calvary, between two thieves, for our sins; but, contrariwise, would willingly own him to be no otherwise but as he was before the world; which thing is very dangerous; for he that doth so, doth lay aside all things that in his own person he did in the flesh that he took from the Virgin Mary, as to justification and salvation; only supposing him to be but an example; and so bespatters all his merit and righteousness by your false conclusions, which in his own person he accomplished for our justification.
And, friend, hadst thou not been afraid of thyself, thou wouldst have been so far from calling these my queries subtle questions, that thou wouldst have owned them, and have given a sober Christian answer to them, instead of a railing accusation. But it matters not; it hath but made thee show thyself the more, which peradventure for a time might otherwise have lain hid.
My fifth query was, "Is that very Man with that very body within you, yea, or no?" To which thou answerest: "The very Christ of God is within us, we dare not deny him; and we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones, as the Ephesians were. They that are led with a spirit of delusion shall answer the rest of this thy query, if they will."
Thy answer is nothing to the question, for I did not ask, whether the Spirit of Christ was in thee, though I question the truth of that; but I ask you whether that very Man, with that very body, (or the body of Christ that was hanged on the cross,) be within you? But I see you are minded to famble, and will not answer plainly. But thou answerest, saying, "We are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones, as the Ephesians were." This is nothing to the purpose neither; for it is one thing for a man to be a member of the flesh and bones of Christ, and another thing to have the flesh and bones of Christ within him. What, because believers are members one of another, must they therefore be also one in another? No. Even so, though a believer be a member of the body, flesh, and bones of Christ, it doth not therefore follow, that Christ, flesh and bones, is within him. But thou art loth to discover thyself in plain terms, though thou art made manifest full sore against thy will; for thou dost here also, though very cunningly, signify, that thou ownest Christ no otherwise but as he is within. And to own him no otherwise, is still against the gospel and faith of the Apostles, who said, they were absent from him while they were at home in the body, or here below. (2 Cor. v.6.)
My sixth query was this, "Was that very Jesus, that was born of the Virgin Mary, a real man of flesh and bones after his resurrection out of Joseph's sepulchre, yea, or nay? The Scriptures say he was; and if so, then did that man go away from his disciples, and not into them, as the Scriptures declare; or did he with that body of flesh go into his disciples, as some fond dreamers think?"
Thy answer is, "What the Scripture speaks of Christ we own to be truth, and own him to be what the Scriptures speak of him; and all men's imaginations of him we deny, and their false interpretations of the Scriptures concerning him. And let the fond dreamers, who err in their thoughts, be reproved, for we dare own nothing but what the Spirit of the Lord bears witness of according to the Scriptures. And thus far I answer in behalf of the Quakers; and let them that are led with a spirit of delusion answer the rest, which concerns themselves."
This answer hath some pretended fairness in it. But yet we know you, that you can wrest the Scriptures to your own destruction; and that is clear, in that though you say you own him as the Scriptures speak of him, yet you deny him as the Scriptures speak of him in part. And if at any time you plead one truth, it is that you might by your corrupt dealing with that clash against another; as, for instance:
1. You profess you own Christ within, but withal, with that doctrine you will smite against the doctrine of Christ Jesus in his person without, and deny that, though that is a truth, as is also the other.
2. You do use that truth of the resurrection of saints from a state of nature to a state of grace, to fight against that truth of the resurrection of the bodies of saints out of their graves; together with other things that I might add, as your holding forth the intercession of the Spirit of Christ within, in opposition to the intercession of Christ in his person without in the heavens. Which things being thus done, they show forth a great deal either of ignorance or presumption, knowingly to fight against the truth. And in this that thou answerest so generally, and not particularly to the question, it is evident that thou dost not plainly declare thy mind, but dost keep that in thy bosom which thou darest not manifest to the world.
My seventh query was, "Hath that Christ that was with God the Father before the world was, no other body but his church?" If you say No, as it is your wonted course, then again I ask you, "What was that in which he did bear the sins of his children?" If you say, In his own body on the tree, then I ask, "Whether that body in which he did bear our sins, was, or is, the church of God, yea, or no?" Again, if you say he hath no other body but his church, then I ask what that was that was taken down from the cross? But here thou puttest a stop to the rest of my words, with an &c.
Thy answer is, "In this thou hast not only queried, but slandered; therefore thy slander," sayest thou, "I do remove. It is our wonted course," sayest thou, "to say, that Christ hath no other body but his church. Thou art here a false accuser. But we say, the church is Christ's body; and it is sufficient for salvation to know Christ Jesus to be head in us, and over us, and ourselves to be members of his body; which, thou sayest, is his church. And what thou intendest by making so many foldings in one query, sayest thou, it may be judged it is to ensnare; and in that thou answerest, thou answerest thyself for us in some things, that thou mightest have a further ground to lay a deeper snare: we do deny thee and thy spirit, and see thee to be only feeding in thy imaginations upon the report of things, without the life: and thy religion stands in disputes, and controversies, and queries, and many words. But our religion stands in the exercise of a pure conscience towards God and towards man; whether we speak or be silent." These are thy words.
Ans. Now, in my query thou sayest I slander, in that I say, you Quakers allow of no other body of Christ, but the church of Christ? yet dost thou not clear thyself at all, only thou wouldst say something to dazzle the eyes of the ignorant. But, friend, if thou wouldst have made it appear that I slander, in saying you own no other body but the church, you should have said, Yes, we do own this, that Christ hath a body that is now in glory, ascended from his disciples, according to the scripture, Acts i.3, compared with ver. 9-11. But thou dost only fling up a few words into the air, that thou mightest thereby puzzle thy simple reader. But I bless God, for my part I do see thee, that thou dost like a beguiled man seek by all means to beguile others. And whereas thou sayest, It is sufficient to salvation to know Christ Jesus as head in us, and over us; to this I answer, Whatsoever thy meaning is by these words, yet there are none shall be saved but those who, through the mighty operation of the Spirit of Christ, are enabled to apply what the man Christ Jesus the Son of Mary hath done and suffered, and is now doing for sinners and saints, and for him, in the presence of his Father, now ascended in his body of flesh and bones, from his children which are alive in this world. I say, there are none shall be saved but those that are thus established, or shall be so, as is clear from these, (1 Pet. i.18,19; ii.24; iii.18,22; iv.1. 2 Pet. i.17. Heb. vii.24,25; x.7,9; xiii.12. 1 Tim. ii.5,6. Eph. i.7. Acts xiii.37-39,) with many other scriptures. And again, when you say, I answer you in something, if you mean, that the body in which he did bear the sins of his children is his church, (for that is partly my query,) then I do say, that your doctrine is desperate and devilish; and you do thereby undervalue the death, blood, resurrection and ascension, intercession and second coming again of that Man for salvation; and therefore, for a better satisfaction to all who may read your book, I entreat you to answer, "Did he bear our sins in that body which is his church, or did he bear our sins in that body that did hang on the cross on Mount Calvary?" Answer plainly, I beseech you.
And now, friend, passing by the rest of thy bawlings, I shall come to thy several queries, and shall answer to them in the simplicity of my soul, not laying down any doubtful expressions, but in all plainness, and not as you do, for the better understanding of them by those that read them.
Query 1. "Is any man justified in the sight of God, but he that followeth Christ; and is it not a work to follow Christ, yea or nay; and what is the sight of God?"
Ans. He that followeth Christ aright, must first believe in Christ; for how shall they follow him in whom they believe not? Now then the Scripture saith, "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life," (John iii.16-18;) so then we are justified by believing; and if so, then to follow Christ is rather a fruit of our believing than justification itself. And whereas you ask, What is the sight of God? I answer, To be justified in the sight of God by Jesus Christ, is for God to look on such poor creatures as we are as complete, without spot or wrinkle in the obedience of the man Christ Jesus; who otherwise could not behold them in love, because of their iniquity (Hab. i.13.)
Query 2. "Whether will that faith justify a man which hath not works, seeing the Scripture, or the Apostle saith, faith without works is dead; and what is that which worketh faith; and where is it, within or without?"
Ans. That faith that hath not works is dead, being alone. Yet it doth not follow, that all that have works have faith. No; but, contrariwise, men may have works, yea, the works of the law of God too, and yet be under the curse; which they could not be if they had saving faith. So, then, if faith without works is dead; and, again, if men may have works, and yet no faith, no saving faith, I mean: then it will be good to inquire, what it is to have a right faith, which doth bring forth right good works; and who have works without a right faith.
And, first, A right saving faith is, for a man to be enabled of God's Holy Spirit to lay hold on what the man Christ hath done in his own person, when he was in the world; as his birth, righteousness, death, blood, resurrection, ascension and intercession; and to apply the virtue and merit thereof to himself, so as to see himself saved thereby. (Rom. iii.24,25.) Being justified freely by his grace. How? Even through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus; whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation, or reconciler, through faith in his blood, &c. Again, "Be it known unto you, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins, and by him all that believe"--mark, all that believe (namely, in his blood which was shed on Mount Calvary)--"are justified from all things, from which they could not be justified by the law of Moses." If the faith that applies these things be of the operation of God, it is very much acompanied with good works. "For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead. And that he died for all, that which we live," namely, by the faith of this, that Christ died for all, (Gal. ii.20,) "should not henceforth live to ourselves, but to him that died for us." (2 Cor. v.14,15.)
But, secondly, they that deny the merits of the birth, death, righteousness, blood, &c. of the Man that was born of Mary, which he fulfilled in his own person by himself, (Heb. i.3;) I say, they that do not venture their souls on these glorious, mysterious truths, but deny the belief of them to be sufficient of themselves to save from hell, and all other things, and doth expect that salvation should be obtained by something that worketh in them, by working in them; it is impossible that these, though they may be, touching the righteousness of the law, blameless, as Paul was while he was a persecutor, (Phil. iii.6,) to be saved hereby. Wherefore? Because they seek it not by the faith of Christ, but, as it were, by the works of the law. (Rom. ix.30,31.)
And whereas you ask me, "What is that which worketh faith? And where is it, within or without?" I answer, That which worketh saving faith is the Holy Spirit of God, which is renewed through the hearing of the word, preached by the Apostles or ministers of Jesus Christ. Now the Spirit, when it doth work, it entereth into the soul, and, as I said before, doth enable the soul to believe, and lay hold on the merits of the Son of Mary, Jesus Christ. For, saith he, when he is come, he shall glorify me, for he shall take of mine, and show it unto you. (John xvi.14.)
Query 3. "Whether any be justified but he that is born of God? And whether doth he that is born of God commit sin? And is that within the creature, or without, that worketh the new birth?"
Ans. Justification may be taken two ways. (1.) Either in the sight of God, or in the sight of the soul, or creature. My meaning is, that all that are or shall be saved are justified in the sight and foreknowledge of God before the foundation of the world, (Eph. i.4,5:) "According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world," &c. "Having predestinated us to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ unto himself." And, again, "Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called; and whom he called, them he also justified; and whom he justified, them he also glorified." (Rom. viii.30.) Mark, all these things are spoken as being already done; predestinated, called, justified, glorified. He doth not say, they shall be, but he hath done it, that is, in and according to the fore-ordination of God. (2.) Saints are said to be justified in their own sight or knowledge, as when God doth make manifest to the soul what he had determined before should be done. "Be of good cheer, thy sins are forgiven thee." This is justification in the sight of the creature. And whereas you ask me, "Do they that are born of God commit sin?" To this I answer,
They shall never commit the sin against the Holy Ghost, as is the meaning of that place, 1 John v.16-18. There is a sin unto death, and there is a sin not unto death. He that is born of God sinneth not, but keepeth himself; and that wicked one--mark, that wicked one, the sin unto death--toucheth him not; but they that are born of God, notwithstanding, do daily sin, as it is evident, (Jas. iii.2:) "In many things we offend all," saith he; I and you, all of us. And, again, "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and," instead of having no sin, "the truth is not in us." (1 John i.8.) And who can say, My heart is clean? "There is none righteous, no not one." And, again, "There is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not." And I am confident, that while some would persuade others that they have no sin, their own consciences tell them they lie; and if it be not so in the rest, it is because they are hardened, and given to believe a lie.
As to the latter part of your query, I answer; the new birth is wrought through hearing of the word preached. And yet not by conscience, nor by the obedience to the law, or dictates of nature; but by the Spirit coming into the soul, and showing its lost condition without the obedience of the Son of Mary, the Son of God; and his freeness and willingness to communicate, or give himself, and all his things unto it; which being done, the man is thereupon given up to God, and is become a new creature. I might spend much time in speaking to this, but I forbear, because of itself it is enough to fill up a small volume.
Query 4. "If Christ hath lightened all men as he is God, as thou confessest, then hath he not lightened all men as he is the Son of God; and is not the light of God sufficient in itself to lead to God all that follow it, yea, or nay?
Ans. (1.) Christ, as he is God, doth lighten every man that comes into the world, which light is conscience, or otherwise nature itself, which doth also convince of sin. (John viii.9.) Yet Christ, as he is God, doth not give unto every man that Spirit that doth lead to eternal life, for all men have it not. (Jude 19.) (2.) Christ, as he was and is the Son of God before the world was, being one in power and being with his Father, hath lightened every one that comes into the world, as aforesaid; but hath not so neither given them his Spirit. "Some are sensual," &c. (3.) Christ as God-man, or as he came into the world to die for those whom before as God he knew and loved; I say, he doth not in this way neither lighten every man with the saving light of life, or give unto them his Holy Spirit. No, they that have been, and now are believers, do know and can remember that all the time of their unregenerate state they were without Christ. (Eph. ii.12.) So that here is no way or room for your doctrine, take it how you will. Christ hath not given to every one his Spirit.
Second part of the Query. Is not the light of God sufficient in itself to lead to God all that follow it, yea, or nay?
Ans. (1.) As I said before, some are sensual, and have not the Spirit of Christ. (2.) No man can come to God as a Father by adoption, but by Jesus Christ; then it must needs be that all men, though they do follow that light which is given to every man, it is not able to lead to God as a Father in the Lord Jesus Christ. Yet this light that every man hath, will show a man there is a God, and that this God is eternal; and also will clear out something of him to them by the things that are made. But now, if this light would lead to everlasting life, then might the devils also be delivered from everlasting damnation, seeing they also do know God as a Creator, and revenger of sin, more perfectly than any natural man in the world, though not as a Father by adoption.
But you say, Doth it not lead to God all that follow it? Ans. (1.) Not to be saved, though to be condemned, through the weakness and unprofitableness of that light, or conscience, or the law, call it either. And I clear it thus: Because if that light that every man receives, were able by our following it to save us, then Christ needed not to have suffered, seeing all men had that light. (2.) If that light that every man hath, which is conscience, were able to lead a man to justification by following it; that promise was made in vain by Jesus the Son of Mary, when he said, "I will send you"--mark, I will send you--"the Spirit, and he shall lead you into all truth:" for they had a light before. But it is evident, that that was not sufficient, because they must have another sent them by Jesus Christ, and that must be the Spirit.
Query 5. "Whether is not the same light in him that hates it, as it is in him that loves it? (John iii.) If there be a difference in the light, show it wherein; whether in the nature or otherwise."
Ans. 1. That scripture quoted in John iii. "Light is come into the world," &c., is not meant of that light, or conscience, that every man hath; but the man Christ Jesus is speaking there of himself, as Godman, come into the world, born of the Virgin: if thou compare ver. 19-21 with ver. 14-18 of the same chapter, it is clear, for they all do speak of the same thing, namely, the Son of Mary. And again, saith he, "I am the light of the world." Now the man Christ, though he was then in the world, and walked up and down in the same, yet he was not within any man in the world, as man, (though he calls himself the light thereof,) though he was in some--I say, in some--as God by his Spirit. Now the light, which was the man Christ was the very same, whether loved by some, or hated by others; but if you conclude every man hath Christ, or that light spoken of there, John iii., within him; that I deny, having proved the contrary. But, (2.) Whether is there a difference in the light? Ans. First, there are more lights than one; there is a light that may be suspected to be darkness, where he saith, "If the light that is in thee be darkness," &c. Again, there is the light of the law. (Prov. vi.23.) Again, conscience also will convince of sin. Now there is none of these that can save a sinner from the evil of his ways. Take the best of them, which is the righteous law of God--that cannot. For had there been a law given, which might have given life, then verily righteousness had come by the law: but if you conclude that righteousness, or everlasting life, cometh by the law, you must conclude this again; that Christ did die in vain. (Gal. ii.21.) So then these things being not able to save the soul, the next thing is, the Son of God, the Son of righteousness arising with healing under his wings, he is also a light, and indeed the saving light, far surpassing all the other mentioned.
Now though Christ doth not differ in himself, yet there is a difference in the power of these lights, the law and Christ, the one not being able to save, the other being able. And again, there is also a difference in the nature of them; the one being a condemning light, the other a saving light. It is Moses that accuseth you, saith Christ, even Moses in whom ye trust. But do not think, saith Christ, that I will accuse you to the Father. No, saith he, it is Moses, or the law given by him. But, again, where Christ speaks for himself as a Saviour, he saith, "God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved." (John iii.17.) So that I say, 1. That light spoken of John iii., which is the man Christ, is not in every man that comes into the world. 2. That the man Christ, or the light spoken of there, is not against himself. 3. There is the light of the law, conscience, and nature itself, which are in all men, which things are altogether insufficient to save a man from death, by his seeking of justification thereby. Again, there is Jesus Christ, he is the Saviour, but not in all men. And, again, neither is the man Christ Jesus the condemning light.
Query 6. "Whether is it possible that any can be saved without Christ manifested within? If no, then whether is not the doctrine of salvation, which is only necessary, to preach Christ within. And is not the whole mystery of salvation, God manifest in the flesh?"
Ans. There can none be saved but they that have the Spirit of Christ given unto them. But it is not the Spirit of Christ given to the elect that doth work out the salvation of their souls within them, for that was obtained by the blood of the man Christ Jesus on the cross. (Heb. ix.12, comp. with Heb. xiii.12.)
Again, every one that is, or shall be saved, must and shall have the Spirit of Christ within them; yet it doth not follow, that to preach Christ (only) within, is the only doctrine of salvation; for then also the preaching of the blood of Christ shed on the cross, as I said before, must be of none effect. But he that doth preach the doctrine of salvation aright, must first begin to preach that doctrine that Paul preached in 1 Cor. xv.1-4: "For I delivered unto you," saith he, "first of all, how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again according to the Scriptures." Now Christ, or the Spirit of Christ, is received by such preaching as this is, as is clear from that scripture, Acts x.38-44; where Peter, speaking of the word that was published throughout all Judea: "How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth," (or which dwelt at Nazareth,) "with the Holy Ghost, and with power, who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil: for God was with him. And we are witnesses of all those things which he did, both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem," (saith Peter,) "whom they slew, and hanged on a tree: him God raised up the third day, and showed him openly; not unto all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God; even to us who did eat and drink with him, after his resurrection from the dead. And he commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be judge of quick and dead." And is that all? No; but "to him give all the prophets witness," (to him, even Jesus of Nazareth, whom the Jews crucified on the tree,) "that through his name, whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission, or forgiveness of sins." Now, mark. And "while Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them that heard the word." While Peter spake these words, that by Jesus of Nazareth forgiveness of sins was preached to them that believe in his name, "the Holy Ghost fell on all them that heard the word," namely, which Peter spake. This is the way in which the Spirit is given; namely, by preaching a crucified Christ.
But now, no man can be saved without Christ, or the Spirit of Christ be given to him, because he cannot be able to lay hold savingly of, and to hope for that glory that Christ, as he is God-man, hath accomplished in his own person without, unless he have the Spirit. But further, thou sayest, it is not the whole mystery of salvation, God manifested in the flesh?
Ans. Truly, to know that God, out of love to poor sinners, did in the fulness of time send forth his only-begotten Son, who is equal with his Father, to be born of a woman, and made under the law, to redeem them that are under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons; this is to know the mystery of godliness. Therefore, when the Scriptures say, God was manifested in the flesh, they mean, God sent forth his Son, which was and is the word of God, God himself, and he was made flesh. (John i.14.) And so in the nature of man he did become the Lamb of God, or the sacrifice of God, that doth take away the sins of the world. (ver. 29.) Now here I might enlarge abundantly, but that I would not be tedious.
Query 7. "Whether is it not possible, that many may profess as much of Christ without, as thou hast said of him, and yet be damned; and if this be the faith to profess him born, dead, risen, and ascended without; then is there any unbeliever in England, seeing all in the outward sound believes, and professes as much as thou hast said. Yea, or nay?"
Ans. (1.) I know there are many that do profess in word, that Christ was born, dead, risen, and ascended without, and yet may be damned. Yet he that doth really, with the faith of the operation of God, believe these things, and doth also apply the virtue and merit of the same to themselves for justification and life, shall be saved. "If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." (Rom. x.9.) And also, (1 Cor. xv.2,) "By which ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you." What was that? Why, "how that Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, and rose again," &c. (2.) It is not faith, only to talk of him with the mouth, but, as I said before, to believe the same by the operation of the Spirit in our hearts.
If this be faith, sayest thou, to profess him born, dead, risen and ascended without, then is there any unbeliever in England?
Ans. All that profess this do not truly believe it; for to profess in word alone, and believe in heart, are two things. Secondly, if to profess this were the faith, yet were there a good many unbelievers in England, for the Quakers will not profess him ascended without, neither making intercession without, but contrariwise, strike at this doctrine.
Query 8. "Whether hath that man faith in Christ that is not changed in the nature; and is not the liar and slanderer an unbeliever, and of the cursed nature, yea, or no?"
Ans. He that hath faith in Christ is a new creature: and the liar and slanderer is an unbeliever; and if he live and die in that condition, his state is very sad, though if he turn there is hope for him; therefore repent and turn quickly or else look to yourselves, for you are the men, as is clear by your discourse.
Query 9. "Whether any receive Christ, who receive him not into him? if not, show how Christ can be received, and whether many profess him not which never receive him."
Ans. Christ, as he is man, as he was a sacrifice for sin, cannot be received really and personally into any; but yet, he that doth indeed receive the gospel, and believe that he was a sacrifice upon the cross for his sins, doth and hath also received his Spirit into him, which giveth him the comfort of these things. (John xiv.26.) And, secondly, there are very many that profess him, that at the day of judgment will fall short of eternal life, notwithstanding all their profession; for, as I said before, it is not the professor, but the sound believer that shall be saved by him. But let the reader mark, how thou condemnest thy own doctrine by this query, for thou grantest many profess Christ that never receive him. How then hath every man Christ, or the light of Christ within him? If it be within him, either he must receive it, or snatch it by force against the will of another, however the scripture saith, what is it that thou hast not received (yet all men have not received that). Jude 19.
Query 10. "Whether to preach for hire, for gifts and rewards, and to divine for money, and to make merchandise of the people for so much a year for preaching to them, be not true marks and signs of false prophets? or can any give truer signs of false prophets than Isaiah and Micah give, yea or nay?"
Ans. There are a company of dumb dogs that are crept into the nation, that love, give ye, and desire to bear rule by their means; and they are every one for his gain from their quarter. Secondly, there are a company of wolves crept out also, having wrapped themselves about with sheep's clothing, and these are both alike abominable to the Lord. Neither can a man give a more right description of a false prophet, than the prophets and Christ with his apostles did give; therefore examine yourselves.
Query 11. "Whether must not the devil be chained before Christ reign, and what is that which chains him; and whether art thou come to one of the days of the thousand years, yea, or no?"
Ans. Christ hath two several times wherein Satan must be bound by him; one is at the conversion of sinners, the other when he shall come the second time, and personally appear, and reign, in the world to come. Again, "Whether I am come to one of the days of the thousand years?"
Ans. No, because he that doth reign with Christ one of these days, shall live and reign with Christ a thousand years. (Rev. xx.4.) But there is never a believer in the world that doth, or in any likelihood shall live half so long, before they die or be changed at the coming of the man Christ Jesus.
Query 12. "Whether dost thou know any Christ, preach or profess any Christ who hath not lightened every man that comes into the wrold with the light of life, or of condemnation? And is he not a deceiver that exhorts people for salvation to any other thing than the light of Christ, yea, or no? And how hath Christ lightened every man, if not within him?
Ans. That Christ I preach, is the Christ of God, who as he is God, hath lightened every man that comes into the world with conscience, and the law, which is the light of condemnation, but not of life; for the law is the ministration of condemnation. (2 Cor. iii.7,8..) And all men have the law and conscience: but these will not save them. Again, there are some that do indeed enjoy the light of life. And whereas thou askest, is not he a deceiver that exhorts people to any thing else than the light of Christ? Ans. He that telleth any man that the ministration of condemnation will save him, which is the law, he is a liar, and a deceiver: but he that exhorts people to lay hold on what the man Christ Jesus hath done in his own person for sinners, and presseth souls to venture upon that for salvation, preacheth the truth. Thirdly, Christ hath given to every one the law, and conscience within him; yet these are not able to save him; but let him follow the righteousness of the law never so much, yet if he be not directed of God to fly to Jesus the Son of Mary, and to what he hath done in his own person for them, he shall never be saved. (Acts iv.12.)
Friend, Thus have I with all plainess of speech answered thy queries, and I fear not at all but I have spoken the truth as it is in Jesus. And as for committing them to the judgment of others, as thou wouldst have me; let others say what they will, I am sure I have spoken the truth of God; and I make no question but at the second coming of my Lord Jesus from heaven to judge the world, these things I shall not be ashamed of; neither am I now; but am ready, if God shall give me life, to speak the same things to any man, face to face; and I desire thee, and all, even as many as shall read or hear this treatise, to consider, and look to themselves, lest they sin against God so much in their lifetime by rejecting these truths, that it shall never be forgiven them to all eternity, though they repent them of their rejecting the same. There is one thing more to which I shall speak a few words, and that is, to a few words written at the end of thy book, which is called the Postscript, wherein are several charges against myself and some others, which I shall speak somewhat to.
The first is against John Burton, thus: John Burton said in a discourse with some friends, that Christ had two bodies, and one of them is out of the sight of the saints. Ans. My brother Burton being absent, I shall answer for him concerning the charge laid against him. And therefore, that Christ, who is and was before the world began, God equal with his Father, did in the fulness of time take upon him a body from the Virgin Mary, which was so prepared by God his Father, it is evident in Scripture; and in it after he had lived a while in the world, he did hang on the cross, was taken down thence again, and laid in Joseph's sepulchre, was raised again, and ascended away from his disciples therewith into glory. (Acts i.3,9-11.)
Again, he hath another body, and that is his church. (Eph. i.23.) Now that he is out of the sight of his saints in one of the bodies; namely, that which did hang on the cross, it is also evident, 1 Tim. vi.) where Paul speaking of that very Jesus, who did bear a faithful witness before Pontius Pilate, saith in ver. 16: "Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto, whom no man hath seen, nor can see." That is, not with their mortal eyes, in that glory as yet. If you say still, notwisthstanding this, that Christ, as he was before the world began, hath but one body, and that to be his church, I ask you, what that was that was taken down from the cross, and laid into Joseph's sepulchre. (Luke xxiii.52,53.)
The second charge is against myself, and is this; John Bunyan said, Christ's second coming is not his coming in Spirit, for his coming in Spirit is no coming.
The former part of the words, namely, Christ's second coming is not his coming in Spirit, those I own. But the other, namely, For his coming in Spirit is no coming, is a lie, made of me by the author, Edward Borrough.
The former words were spoken at a meeting in Bedford, some Quakers being present, contradicting and blaspheming. And now they could not be content with that; but they must make up all with a lie, and publish it in print. A Quaker there and I had some discourse concerning Christ's second coming, and he would affirm, that his coming in Spirit was his second coming spoken of in Scripture. Then I asked him which was his first coming? He answered, when he was born of the Virgin, and took flesh upon him from her. Then, said I, I shall easily prove, that his coming in the Spirit is not his second coming; for I will prove that his coming in the Spirit was before that which the Scripture and you also do call his first coming; and proved it by that plain scripture, where Peter, speaking of the prophets, saith, "Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them (the prophets) did signify, when it testified beforehand of the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow," (1 Pet. i.10,11; iii.18,19;) where speaking of Christ's being put to death in the flesh, but quickened in the Spirit. "By which Spirit he preached to the spirits (now) in prison;" but when was this, only when "once the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah." (ver. 20.) Which was long before the first coming of Christ, so called in Scripture, for that was, as I said, when he took a body from the Virgin Mary.
But, secondly, it seems clearly by these words that you do look for no other coming but his coming in Spirit. Oh, how suddenly and unexpected of you, will the Son of man break down from heaven, with all his mighty angels in flaming fire, and call you, together with all nations, to judgment! And though now peradventure you are ready to slight the personal appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ, that man, to judgment, only looking for a judgment within, yet you will, I am certain, very suddenly be made to pass under another judgment, which will be more exceeding great than any judgment you shall have here, and more terrible. As for the latter part of the charge, which is a very lie; though I shall not trouble myself to lay it to your charge, (you have so manifestly declared yourselves already what you are,) yet, I beseech you, that hereafter you would not be so ready to receive lies from others, and publish them to the view of the world, lest you appear to all men, as you do to some, to be such as are of an accusing, lying spirit.
But, further, That Christ's coming in the Spirit is not his second coming, it is evident; partly, in that the coming of Christ in Spirit was before that called in Scripture his first coming. Secondly, he that comes the second time is he that came the first time. Now he that came the first time was very God and very man, and not a Spirit only; for, "handle me," saith he; "a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as you see me have." (Luke xxiv.39.) Now this same Jesus, that was very God and very man, so born of Mary, saith, "I go and prepare a place for you; and I," (the very same, as also Acts i.10,11,) "will come again, and take you to myself; that where I am there ye might be also." (John xiv.1-3.) Here I might spend many words, but it needs not; the whole current of Scriptures do confirm this thing; and therefore I shall forbear, and content myself with this, "He that will be filthy, let him be filthy, for the day is at hand."
The third charge is also against me, saying, "I said there was nothing in me, nor any man to be taken notice of."
Though in some sense I do not deny these words, yet I know, and am sure, that directly in this form of words I did never lay them down; but I pass that. Now in this sense I do not deny them, there was nothing in me, as I was in my unregenerate estate; nor in any man else, in the same estate, that is worthy to be taken notice of for justification. First, because every unregenerate man is without Christ, before he be converted. (Eph. ii.12.) Wherefore remember, that ye being Gentiles in the flesh (unconverted,) that at that time ye were without Christ. Now a man that is without Christ, and hath not his Spirit in him, as some, yea, most men are, (Jude 19,) what is there in that man that is worth the taking notice of to justify him?
Also converted Paul saith; "I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing." (Rom. vii.18.)
As for others that are charged with things, because their names are not also mentioned, I shall pass them by; only thus much I shall say further to the last charge. That there is nothing in any man by nature, before he be converted, that is worth the taking notice of, as to seek justification thereby. And that that light which every man hath, being at the best but conscience, nature, or the law, let a man take notice of it, follow it, obey it never so much, it is not able to justify the soul: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain. And, as I said before, every man hath not Christ to take notice of, though every man hath conscience, or the light of nature in him, which is also able to convince of sins against the law of God, yet is not able to deliver from that curse pronounced by the Lord against them that disobey the law. Nay, the law itself is not able to save them that do follow it, being too weak for such a thing. And, indeed, God did not give it to that end, that saints should have life by it. No; compare Gal. iii.21 with Rom. v.20, you may clearly see why God gave the law, namely, that sins or offences might abound. But how? By discovering sin by its workings. Now, then, you that follow the law, and seek life by it, this is all you are like to have of it: first, you shall see your transgression against it made known to you by it, (Rom. iii.20;) and a horrible curse pronounced against you, because you cannot give a complete, continual obedience to every tittle of it.
And now, friend, to thee, who hast taken in hand to answer my queries laid down in the end of my book; I say, thou hast only wrangled and quarrelled at them; but has not given one plain and right answer to any one of them. Therefore I shall leave them still to be answered by you, or others of your spirit. You will find them at the end of the foregoing discourse: and I beseech you to answer them in all plainness of heart, and with as moderate a spirit as you may. It is like there may be some addition to them: but as I have dealt plainly and sincerely with yours, so do you deal uprightly and plainly with mine, for the satisfaction of those who shall read them. And here I shall draw towards a conclusion; only speak some words to those who, unawares to themselves, may be carried away with the doctrines of the Quakers: and I shall be brief in speaking to it. The way that I shall take shall be very plain to be understood; for I shall not lay down any doubtful sentence in my speech to them, nor others.
And, first, I shall show you that the doctrine of the Quakers is an error, and how. Second. Who they are that are carried away with it, and why. Third. The way Satan takes to make this delusion, or filthy doctrine, to take place in the soul.
First. That the doctrine of the Quakers is false, or an error, I shall show, 1. By discovering the doctrine itself. Now, the doctrine of the Quakers is plainly this; namely, that every man that comes into the world hath the Spirit of Christ in him. Now, that this is an error is clear, because the word of God saith plainly, that some are "sensual, having not the Spirit." (Jude 19.) And again, the unregenerate man, in the time of his unregenerate state, is without Christ. (Eph. ii.12.)
2. He that will but observe the motions of that light which every man hath within him, say they, so as to obey and close in with it to follow it, shall undoubtedly be saved from the wrath to come. Now, this is clearly a gross error; for, first, if all men have not Christ, as they have not, then is it not an error to press men to seek for life, by following that which is not able to give life. Yet this they do, who labour to persuade men, yea, the souls of men, that it is no less than the very Spirit of Christ in every man, that doth convince of sin, when the Scriptures say plainly, the law, (Rom. iii.20,) conscience, (Rom. ii.15,) and nature itself, (Rom. ii.14. 1 Cor. xi.14,) will and do convince of sin, yet none of these is the Spirit of Christ. And the great argument that they bring to prove that it is the Spirit of Christ, is, because the Spirit doth also convince of sin. Now, what a poor argument is this, to say, that because the Spirit of Christ doth convince of sin, therefore whatsoever doth convince of sin must needs be the Spirit of Christ. As much as to say, because the saints are called "the light of the world," (Matt. v.14,) therefore the saints are the Saviour of the world, seeing Christ also doth call himself the light of the world, (John viii.12;) or because the moon hath, or is light therefore the moon is the sun. This is but sophistical arguing, and doth beget most damnable errors and heresies in the world; but this is the way that they take to entangle poor souls with their sad and erroneous doctrine. (See page 22 of his book, lines 12 and 13.) They say, that it must be Christ within them, that must within them work out justification for them; when it is evident from the whole current of Scripture, that the Son of Mary was delivered to be crucified for our offences, and his resurrection, through faith in it, is our justification; as all along through grace I have declared and cleared. And the work that the Spirit doth in point of justification, is, to show us what the Son of Mary hath done and suffered in his own body on the tree, and is now doing in the presence of his Father, in the highest heaven.
And to help us to apply this to our souls by faith now, for a preservative against these and the like delusions, observe, (1.) As I said before, all have not the Spirit of Christ. (Jude 19. Eph. ii.12.) (2.) That the law, with all our obedience to it, is not able to save or justify any poor soul. (Rom. iii.20.) "For by the works of the law shall no flesh living be justified," though it gives the knowledge of sin. (3.) That there is none other way to be justified in the sight of God, but by laying hold of what the Son of Mary (Jesus) did do and suffer in his own person, when he was in the world. For it is by him, (and what he hath done in his own person by himself, Heb. i.2,) that any man is justified from his sins, and the wrath of God due to the same, by believing that his blood was shed for their sins; as it is written, "By his stripes we are healed," (Isa. liii.5;) as if their own blood had been shed for their own sins; and that his righteousness is theirs by imputation, as if they themselves had actually fulfilled all the law of God for their own justification. (Rom. x.4.)
Secondly. The second thing is, who are they that are carried away with this delusion, and why?
Ans. 1. Not one of God's elect whom he foreknew shall be utterly destroyed thereby, (I do not say they shall not be led away for a time; but they shall not be utterly destroyed;) for they are kept by the mighty power of God through faith unto salvation. But they are such as are not indeed the elect of God, nor chosen in Christ before the world began. Though Hymeneus and Philetus fall away, and overthrow the faith of some, yet "the foundation of God stands sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his." (2 Tim. ii.17-19.)
2. They are such as in time past, for the generality of them were either but light, frothy professors, or else were shaken in their principles, and unstable therein, as saith the Scriptures, they that are deceivers do beguile unstable souls. Or if they were such as were in appearance sober and serious in the account of others, it was either from those convictions they had from the law, or else from high notions they had of the gospel; which have both such influence at some time on the soul, though not savingly, that the soul will go very far in obedience to them; as, for example, Herod, who was an enemy to the truth, yet for a time had such heart-workings, being convinced by the preaching of John the Baptist, that he feared him, and observed him, and when he heard him he did many things, and heard him gladly. (Mark vi.20.)
Now, the reason why such people are carried away with such heresies as these, or the like is,
(1.) That as they were not of the elect of God, so God, by suffering them to be carried away finally, may make it appear that they were not of his elect. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us. But they went out from us, that it might be made manifest (or that men might see) that they were not all of us. (1 John ii.19.)
(2.) Because God will not have his church so disturbed always with such as are not of the truth. Now, there are some men that have their time to walk with the church of God by permission, and these men are ever and anon ready to broach their errors, even while they are among the saints, to their trouble. Now God, having a care of his church, hath a time to suffer the devil to run through the world with some erroneous doctrine or other, which when these men taste, being spirited beforehand for that purpose, do presently close in with the same, to the purifying of the church, and the manifestation of themselves. And thus every branch which the Lord's right hand hath not planted, shall and must have a time to be rooted up. (Matt. xv.13.)
(3.) Because others that are of the right graffing in, may notwithstanding not presume but fear, lest they also fall through the same example of others who are already fallen, or may fall hereafter. (Heb. iv.1,2,11.)
(4.) Because others may see, that it is not by their own strength that they do stand, but freely by the grace of God, and his power and love towards them in the Lord Jesus Christ. God hath chosen some before the foundation of the world. Now, to manifest this, though they are even as bad as the worst by nature, yet I say, because God will show his power and his love, he doth preserve some to eternal life, though others fall into eternal damnation. "Of all that thou hast given me," saith Christ, "have I lost none, but the son of perdition, that the scripture might be fulfilled." (John xvii.12.) Many other reasons might be given why these things must and shall be; but I rather choose to forbear. Only thus much I have spoken, because I know it is my duty to speak a few words unto you, that you may either close in with the truth, or else the more clearly be left without excuse at the great day.
Thirdly. The third and last thing, is the way that Satan takes to make those delusions take place in the soul.
Now the way whereby he makes these or any other delusions to take place in the soul, is, 1. to persuade the soul that they are the truth; and 2. to stir up in the soul an enmity to any thing or person that shall declare the contrary.
1. They are given over to believe a lie; that is, to believe false doctrine to be the doctrine of God and of Christ. And that he might bring this to pass, he goeth about to change the names of things; and because the law, conscience, and nature itself can convince of sin, therefore he calleth them Christ, or the light of Christ; saying to a natural man, one that is not yet converted, "Mind the light within you." If they ask what light? say they, That which doth convince of sin. If they farther ask, Why, what is that? They say, "It is the light of Christ, the light of life, or Christ within."
Now these things are nothing else but conscience, nature, or the law, for a natural man hath nothing else that dwelleth within him to convince him of sin; only these things have a new name put upon them. And poor creatures hearing the name Christ, being ignorant of the nature of Christ, do presently close in with these things, supposing, nay, verily believing that these are the Spirit of Christ. Which things being thus received, if at any time one come and oppose them, and tell them that it is an error that they have taken up, to think that that which is in an unregenerate man is the Spirit of Christ, and contrariwise telleth them plainly, that it is but their own conscience that doth convince them, or the law written in their hearts by nature. Nay, say they, it is the light of Christ in the conscience, when there is no scripture hath any such manner of expressions, only a fancy of their own, taken up without ground from the word.
2. But the soul being possessed with this doctrine, presently its heart riseth against anything that doth contradict it, and is filled with a secret enmity against it. Now, the way that Satan takes to bring this about, is to persuade poor souls, that all these thoughts that do any wise contradict the principles received, is but a temptation of the devil. And if at any time there be the doctrine of Jesus held forth in truth, his death, burial, resurrection, ascension, and intercession, now without in the presence of his Father for sinners, and that there is salvation nowhere else but in the merits of the firstborn of Mary, which is Jesus Christ, without the works of the law, (Rom. iii.28;) presently with envy they are enraged and cry, "Dost thou not know that every man hath a measure of the Spirit given to him? Follow that, listen to that, turn thy mind to that, and walk in the light of that;" when, alas! there is no such thing as the Spirit of Christ in every man, as I said, and proved before at large; only the devil hath gotten this way to call conscience Christ, the law Christ; and hereby to entangle the soul with the name of a thing, without the thing itself.
But now the soul is set down in its principles, and he that doth any way confute that spirit, presently it falls a-raging, and cries out, Serpent, liar, wolf, dragon, devil, be silent with thy serpentine wisdom, and smoke of the bottomless pit! Now, in this the devil is wonderfully cunning; for lest he should indeed be discovered, he doth set the face hard against the truth, and counteth it such a deadly enemy, that he will not, cannot bear it; but lets fly against it all the hellish words and madness he can: and now he begins first to cry, Avoid Satan! All which is only to harden him in whom he doth dwell, more and more against the truth. Now, he doth also harden souls in delusions, by presenting the ugly and base conversations of a company of covetous wretches, who do profess themselves to be the ministers of the gospel, but are not; now, poor creatures being shaking and doubtful what way to take, seeing the conversation of these men to be wicked, and the doctrine of these deluders covered with a seeming holiness: they presently embrace it, saying, Surely these men are in the right way; they cry down the priests, whose lives we also see to be profane, they are very strict in their ways, and if such be not good men, who are? But yet that which is most taking is (through the corruption and pride that is naturally in the heart of man), these men propose such a way to salvation, as is in the compass of a man's own ability, even works of righteousness done by him, which is very agreeable to man's nature, which would willingly be saved, but would not be altogether beholden to God for it: and these works not being wrought by the priests or national ministers, but by the other, though in opposition to the righteousness of Christ, the Messias God-man, poor souls not only suck in these erroneous principles, but are hardened in them against the doctrine of God and his Son Jesus Christ, by their ungodly conversation; and thus dishonour the Son of God. But come, brethren, let us be patient, stablish our hearts, wait but a while, and I doubt not but you will see that those who dishonour our Jesus shall soon be brought down, both Ranters, Quakers, priests, and people also, that shall continue in opposing him either in doctrine or practice; for our God hath said, "Ah! I will ease me of my adversaries."
Now, a few words more to those who do believe in Christ aright, and lay him for their foundation.
First. Bless God that you are not carried away with the delusions that are on foot in this generation. Secondly. See that you are labourers after a more experimental knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ; fly more to his birth, death, blood, resurrection, ascension, and intercession; and fetch refreshing for your souls more and more from him without, through the operation of his Spirit within; and though the fruits of the Spirit be excellent, and to be owned where they are found, yet have a care you take not away the glory of the blood of Christ shed on the cross without the gates of Jerusalem, and give it them; which you will do, if you do content yourselves, and satisfy your consciences with this; that you find the fruits of the Spirit within you, and do not go for peace and consolation of conscience to the blood of Jesus shed on the cross.
Therefore learn of the saints, or rather of the Spirit, (Rev. v.9,) who teacheth to sing this song, "Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof, for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood."
And as for you that cannot yet well endure to think you should be justified by the blood of the Son of Mary shed on the cross without the gate, I say to you, "Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him." (Ps. ii.12.)