Quaker Heritage Press > Online Texts > Works of James Nayler > An Antidote Against the Spreading Infections of the Spirit of Antichrist
The occasion of my offering what follows to thy view, with the reasons and end, take as follows. And first, To the occasion.
Myself and others being invited by Mr. John Wray to his house, to beget Christian acquaintance, to the end we might have fellowship and furtherance in the gospel and be strengthened to strive together for the faith of it; upon our meeting there, we understood that divers of those called Quakers that had been lately very busy thereabouts had notice of that our meeting. But that some of them had also signified their resolutions not to be at it, even some of the chief of them that yet did come to it. However, Mr. Wray desired that for the profit of those many people that were presently met together, and for the preparing their understandings for what discourse might afterwards happen between us and the Quakers, if they should come (as well as for the laying some foundation for discourse that it might be the more regular and profitable; that, I say, for these ends) some of us should first assert and open to the people some of those great things of God's law or doctrine that are fundamentals in the gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ; and that we did conceive Satan especially to strike against in these latter days, and so which might be most profitable at this time to be discoursed.
This service falling upon me, I did first mind the people of those many warnings given us by the Holy Ghost of the perilousness of the last times, by reason of the abounding of iniquity, even spiritual wickedness, under glorious pretense and show of godliness and righteousness, yet under such a visor, denying the power, the root, and foundation of godliness, whence all motive and motion to all right worship of God comes, being the enemies to the cross of Christ, however in show zealous walkers, humble and mortified persons; yea, that iniquity should abound in such manner, chiefly at such times, as when there [p.2] should be some abatement to bodily persecution, that so there might be some equal proportion of persecutions or trials in all ages to be sustained by them that will live godly in Christ Jesus, and for the manifesting who are approved among the many professors of godliness, and that this last sort of trials and temptations are especially to abound in the last days and to continue till the time of the end (Dan. 11:34-35; 2 Tim. 3:12-13; with 1 Cor. 11:19; 2 Thess. 2:3-10; 2 Pet. 2:1-2); and that this sort of temptations and trials are everywhere signified to be the most dangerous for beguiling unstable souls, yea for corrupting and subverting even such <324> as were going right on their way, from the simplicity in Jesus. See the Epistle of Jude, 2 Pet. 2; 2 Cor. 11; 2 Tim. 3; Phil. 3:17-19, the consideration of which I told them should be of this use to us, to move us to give more earnest heed to the things that we had heard from the beginning, in the word of the beginning of Christ, as 1 Cor. 15; Heb. 2:1-3; 2 Pet. 1:12, to the end, with chap. 2:1. To receive and drink down his word into our hearts, with more greediness, and to let it dwell there, to be filled with the Spirit, to continue in the things that we had learned through the apostles' doctrine and been assured of by the evidence and demonstration of the Spirit therein, as Eph. 5:16-18, Col. 3:16; 2 Tim. 3:13-15. And thereupon I took occasion to open to them some of those great things of God's law or doctrine which are the summary and fundamental matter of God's teaching, and so to be earnestly heeded and continued in by us, and the main things secretly and intentionally, though under other pretenses struck at by Satan in these latter days. As concerning the person of Christ, of God, and of man, and that that very Jesus of Nazareth, the word that was then, and so made flesh, is the very Christ, and concerning the works done in and by that person for us, and the infinite and abiding virtues of those works, as remaining in that person in our nature, glorified in the heavens with the Father for us; and the infinite love and glory of the Father, as appearing in that face of Christ, as revealed in the glorious gospel of him who is the image of God, in whom God was manifested in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, &c., as 1 Tim. 3:16; 2 Cor. 4:4,6.
And concerning the second and glorious appearing of that person promised, and yet to be expected and waited for by all believers, with the glory then to be revealed (the sum of what I said to most of those things is occasionally inserted in the following discourse, chiefly in the answer to J.N.'s letter) after which I also added a word or two, to the way or manner of God's giving us the knowledge of these things of [p.3] himself in his Son, that so we might be instructed in the way of being assured of the truth and goodness of them, and of tasting the sweetness and efficacy of them, to the preparing and preserving us through faith unto the salvation ready to be revealed in the last time; to this I told them:
First, The way of God's learning, or giving the knowledge of the truth and goodness of these things, is not by working the same things over again in our persons that were wrought and finished for us in the person of Christ, not by making us bear our sins in our own souls and bodies that with our stripes we might be healed, not by giving his Son again to die in us for our sins, and in us to rise from the dead for our justification, to ascend into the heavens and sit on the right hand of God; for besides that, those were such works as could not be <325> accomplished in our persons, so also they were finished in his, not to be iterated. But the knowledge of the truth and goodness of them given in the testimony of Jesus, and of these works as wrought and finished in him, and the infinite and abiding virtue of them with the Father for us, that so in believing in him we might find the word or testimony of him through the Spirit, effectually working the works of God in us.
Neither, secondly, doth he give the revelation of these things now immediately as to the first apostles, nor in such manner as to the prophets of old; but now mediately through their word, and by the evidence and demonstration of the Spirit therein. So Timothy, and all secondary ministers then and since received their word, their knowledge, and furniturec in the things of Christ. In the conclusion of this discourse, I desired that if any would reason about the things they had heard, by way of opposition or otherwise, it might be without confusion, and in such order that the people might understand what was spoken to, what opposed or contended for, and what was said on both sides. And to this purpose I told them I thought it would be convenient to digest the sum of what had been into some few questions, to be discussed (viz.) what the essence of Christ is? whether something essentially in many persons, or one person distinct from all other persons; and if one person granted, then concerning his works, whether Christ did bear our sins in his own personal body only, as the propitiatory sacrifice or sin offering? or so also in the bodies or souls of others? And so whether in the works done in his own body, in his abasement and exaltation, there was and so remaineth in him in our nature with the Father in the heavens, by means thereof, the only and abiding virtue for the [p.4] taking away of sin, or is the virtue for that also chiefly, or at all originally, in some other work or works done in other persons? and about his second appearing, and the glory then to be revealed, whether that be to be waited for by all believers in this corruptible state of the world, all the time of their mortality, or made in or to any in this day? and concerning the manner of God's teaching these things and our learning them of him, whether it be by having the same things wrought or accomplished over again in us that was in Christ's person, as set forth to be the propitiation, or by receiving the testimony of him in the demonstration of the Spirit and of power? And if so, how that, whether mediately through the apostles' word, or immediately, as they?
The Quakers being come in soon after the beginning of this discourse, to this James Nayler answered that there were two things that I had uttered in discourse which he denied, which when I had made good, or if I could not, acknowledged myself a liar, they would proceed <326> to the questions; the two things were:
1. That God was not manifest in the flesh of the saints.
2. That Timothy had not the same testimony that Paul had. What answer I then gave may be seen in what follows in my answer to their charges, and to James's letter, but when I showed how he falsified my sayings he called me liar, &c.; such language was ordinary from them. And so pretending want of satisfaction, and doing what he could to hinder the people from receiving satisfaction as to these things, he kept off from the questions propounded, till one of them (viz. Rich. Farnworth) began a set speech concerning himself, which he continued about an hour, at the conclusion of which I was desirous to mind the people of the evil and contrariety to the gospel of some of the things spoken by him, that they might so mark as to eschew, as Rom. 16:17, but as soon as I began, for but (by the way) calling his discourse a witness of, or concerning himself, I had presently himself and two or three more upon me, bidding me stop my mouth. He abhorred self (which yet also was but his own witness concerning himself); one of them charged me with opposing or blaspheming the words of the eternal God spoken by that man; yet at last I got liberty to show his abuse of some scriptures (as in the following discourse); then it being after noon about an hour, and myself and some others having rid ten miles that morning before the meeting, Mr. Wray desired us to break off for an hour to refresh ourselves, and likewise that we might meet at the public place afterward for more conveniency of room, his house being too strait for the company; he likewise invited James Nayler and his [p.5] companions to stay dinner, which whether any of them accepted I know not, but divers of them grossly abused him for desiring an hour's respite, yet said nothing against meeting at the public place; whither soon after we went, and many people, but they came not at us, but sent us word, when we had been there some time, that they would not come there, and at our return from thence, that if we would meet them in some place in the street, or in a yard where they appointed, they would further reason with us; which we judged unreasonable and therefore refused; yet Mr. Wray invited them to come again to his house, either that night or next day, but they refused and returned a scornful answer. That night they sent me papers, as in the following relation, and with the last sent also a challenge by their messenger, to give them a meeting at a town a mile off next day, which though an unreasonable demand, considering what freedom they had and might have where we were and with what scorn they had refused it, and also that on their refusal of that Mr. Wray had proffered them that if they would appoint a place at such a distance next day we should meet them, and then they refused that also, saying they knew not whether the <327> Spirit might lead them that night (and it is very probable, they hoped we would not have come at their challenge), yet going that way, we did call on them next day; and then had a more full revelation of the spirit of antichrist in them, from J.N., than the day before, who in answer to some such questions as forementioned said that as Christ bore sins in that his own body that died at Jerusalem, so he had borne sins in his body too; and so that his first appearing to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself had been manifested and accomplished in him, yea that death in which it is appointed to men once to die was past in him; Christ's second appearing without sin to salvation, manifested and accomplished in him, with much of that nature; and that he that could not witness that with him was antichrist, and did deny Christ come in the flesh. In answer to which we oft-times offered and desired liberty to manifest and prove to the people, that the one offering of Christ to bear our sins and to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself, it was accomplished and finished in one person, not in many, and once at one time or age of the world, nor at divers times, and that the second appearing of Christ is not yet accomplished in or to any person, nor shall be in this day, nor till to all together; but we could get no liberty but were filled with railings, reproaches and revilings from divers of them together, in such manner as I never heard from any, so we left them; and what hath passed since, with the sum of what was then asserted and [p.6] maintained by us, I have published in the following discourse (with some queries I had from others of them and the answers to them annexed) for these reasons:
1. They did then (as we have showed here, and in the following discourse) grossly slander us almost in all we said, and would not suffer the people to hear what was said in answer to their slanders, and have still persisted in managing them against us, and the truth pleaded for by us, where they come, by word and writing, as may also be fully seen in J.N. his letter, with my answer to it, in which answer I have largely opened our principles as to the things discoursed of, that they that read may understand what they are and how falsely charged by them.
2. As also that it may appear how they stand in direct opposition to, and show the vanity, falseness and evil of the bottom principles of both Quakers and Ranters, in which they are both one. Which I have rather done to vindicate the doctrine of the grace of God in Christ that bringeth salvation to all men, from those foul aspersions cast on it by some (yea I have seen them in print) in which it is charged with laying or administering foundation for those filthy and ungodly principles, the falseness of which charge is manifest in the following discourse; yea it appears that which is in express terms fought against and reproached by them is the asserting the great benefits prepared for men in Christ and <328> redounding to them by Christ, while yet lying in their wickedness, and thence directing them to look to a Christ crucified for them while they were yet sinners and in their filthiness.
The truth is, they acknowledge not the grace of God in the death and resurrection of Christ, as accomplished in that his own body, as being the foundation of, or bringing salvation to men, all, or any, but would lay another foundation, or overthrow that (though they can do neither) by directing men to look into themselves and to what is witnessed or wrought in them, for all their consolation, rejoicing, direction, &c.; yea, it's their counsel to all men (I have often heard it and seen it in many of their papers, even to such as they then judged to be yet wallowing in their filthiness, turned out from the presence of God, murdering the Just One in them, nigh to cursing, &c., yet) to turn the eye inward, to look and take diligent heed to the light in them, to the book of their conscience, &c., and that in opposition to, and to take them off from looking unto Jesus and the works wrought in his body for them without them, and to such looking, or attention to him, in and through the testimony he hath given by the one mouth of his holy apostles and prophets and left on record for us.
[p.7] They in their foolish and vain imaginations, while professing to be wise, being so besotted as to imagine that one person of the Son of God, in the nature of man, and the works done in his own body, and the manifestation of God in him and therein testified, to be but some farther types and figures of the true light, the very Christ, and that to be something naturally in every man; naturally, I say, for so it must be if affirmed to be in every man, while yet none of them have received (nor are they ever directed by them to look to or for) any supernatural grace, whether they talk of first or second nature; yet both are natural to the man, and naturally in him and of him, according to their principles only the best or second nature which they direct to look to, that in the witness and operation of it as in them, they may have righteousness, strength, and direction, is something disappearing (they say) through the fall, yet not much disappearing it seems, when if they do but turn the eye inward they shall presently see and meet with it as the first mover and teacher, appearing, and yet such a thing too as no man hath benefit by till he can witness it in him; they are indeed foolish and inconsistent apprehensions, as well as most antichristian and ungodly; but their folly and evil is not so manifested and detected by any other spirit or doctrine as by the testimony of Jesus as the Son of God, the Savior of the world, and that doctrine of the grace of God in him bringing salvation to all men, when rightly held according to the Scriptures (Tit. 2:11-12). For as that holds forth that very Jesus, the only immediately begotten Son of God that was <329> before us all, even from everlasting with the Father, by whom and for whom all things were made, which in the fullness of times was sent forth, made of a woman, made under the law, for us in that one body, &c., and therein delivered to death, raised and exalted according to the Scriptures, to be indeed the very Christ, the Savior of the world, the true light that lightens every man that comes into the world, that with his virtues and influences fills all things, for the good and salvation of mankind; and so instructs and directs all the ends of the earth to look to him and the grace of God, in, by, & through him bringing salvation to all men, and be saved; so it therein in the same light of the Lord, cries concerning them, All flesh is grass, surely the people is grass (Isa. 40:6-7). Men are altogether strangers to that wisdom and strength by which they might be reconciled to God; the way of peace they know not, yea this wisdom is not to be found in the land of the living (Rom. 3:10-19; Job 28:12-13, &c.). They are without God in the world and strangers to the life of God (Eph. 4:18 and 2:12). They are dead in sins and trespasses; yea, the carnal mind is enmity to God, it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be, so [p.8] that they that are in the flesh cannot please God (Rom. 8:7-8). The mind or conscience of the unbeliever is so wholly defiled that while he looks into it and stubbornly follows the dictates of it against the light and power of God's grace coming to him and striving with him through Jesus Christ, he is to every good work reprobate (of no judgment, light or discerning) (Tit. 1:15-16). Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them because of the blindness of their heart, by the dictates of which being swayed walking in the vanity of their mind or conscience, they are more hardened and made insensible to the gracious and spiritual instructions and reproofs of God in the gospel of his Son; they are so wholly lost, dead, and darkness itself, yea so unclean and polluted in soul and body, that they are altogether uncapable of having any work wrought in or by them in which satisfaction may be made for their sin, or they may be rendered acceptable. This I say is plainly discovered in that doctrine that tells us of the grace of God bringing salvation to all men, as already wrought for them in and by Christ; for if men had not been wholly strangers to, or had not been utterly empty of all by which they might have been helped, or if there had been any help in man, God would have spared his own Son and not have delivered him up for us all; if righteousness could have been had any other way, then Christ died in vain; yea, this doctrine that tells us of the grace of God bringing this salvation in Christ unto all men in the discoveries and saving tendencies and operations of it, saith yet more, namely, that no man hath in him, as of him, that light, Spirit, or wisdom in the inward parts, by which he may get in <330> the knowledge of what is done for him in Christ or apply it to himself; it is true, there is a spirit in man, but it is as a candle wholly out (as to things pertaining to life and godliness), and it is the inspiration of the Almighty (not the stirring up something in it) that puts light to it, that giveth it understanding, and otherwise then as so lighted by the Lord, it doth not truly search or discover the hidden parts of the belly (compare Job 32:8 & Prov. 20:27 with Ps. 18:28; Job 35:10-11 & 38:36) nor while abiding in his natural state is there any such wisdom or capacity or spirit, so as received by or lodging in him, as are to be his teacher and rule (Rom. 1:19,21,28), neither is there in them any light, knowledge, or understanding to make them sensible of their idolatry and wickedness, they not liking to retain his knowledge inspired in their heart, their spirit is infatuated (Isa. 44:18-20 with Rom. 1:19-29), and so the light or spirit naturally in them, or while stubbornly abiding in [p.9] their natural state and condition, received by and lodging in them, to which if they be directed to turn the eye inward, to look to the light or spirit in them, they will and must needs immediately turn, it is by the judgment of the holy Spirit, darkness itself (John 1:5), the spirit of the world and of Satan (1 Cor. 2:12), and though it is true that the true light is in the testimony of Jesus or of God's goodness that is in and through him, through all means shining in and to the dark and darkened hearts of men, even of such men, while the day of God's grace and patience is toward them, and that so as it might be received it would in such coming enlighten the darkness and strengthen to receive it, yet the darkness receives it not, and so though the word be nigh them in their hearts that it might be, yet it is not received by them in their hearts, or dwelling there as a light or principle to direct them, while so abiding in their natural state and condition, or in their unbelief or rebellion against the word or testimony, in and with which the light, spirit, or power comes to them, which is no further received by or dwelling in any man, than that word in and with which it is, is received by or dwelling in him.
From which consideration, that grace of God that brings salvation to all men instructs them not to look into themselves or to any light or spirit in them for direction, but unto Jesus, in that demonstration of him, and strength to behold him, brought to them in God's lifting up the Son of Man before them, as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, now to seek the Lord while he may be found, and in the light and strength of the Lord in his reproofs, brought them to turn from and forsake their own ways and thoughts (Isa. 45:22 with John 3:14-15; Isa. 55:6-7 with Prov. 3:23), not to lean to their own understanding but to deny themselves and become fools, that they may learn wisdom, not of their own spirit but of him.
<331> This doctrine that so rightly discovers the weakness, emptiness, and corruption of man (as before) doth therein manifest their counseling every man to turn the eye inward, to look unto the light in them, &c., to be the same with or like unto the directing men to seek to them that peep and mutter and to them that have familiar spirits, and therefore of Satan and not of God, who directs us to seek to God, and that in his own light, power, and way, as given forth to us. To the law, to the testimony, if they speak not according to that word it is because there is no light in them; yea, even believers, in whom the testimony of Christ being received, the Spirit of Christ therein and therewith is so received and dwelling in them, and so Christ in that word or testimony [p.10] of him, dwelling in their hearts by faith, yet there is in them another law, mind, disposition, inclination or spirit, though in the mind, judgment or spirit of the believer, in a sense dethroned, yet not wholly outed, but remaining and warring in the members, where it is at hand and nearest (present with me, saith the apostle, Rom. 7:21,23), so as it may be first in advising or prompting in any case or matter, so that if the believer should indifferently turn his eye into himself for counsel and direction, he may also be led to walk in the flesh, in the carnal mind, and so as other Gentiles, in the vanity of their mind, whence those instructions and admonitions (Rom. 8:5-13; Eph. 4:17); surely that doctrine of the kindness and pity of God, our Savior, to manward, bringing salvation in and by Jesus Christ, is so far from administering foundation for such corrupt principles that it discovers the vanity and falseness of their foundation and overthrows it; doubtless were we more acquainted with it and skillful in it we should neither desire nor need any other weapons than that faithful word to stop the mouths of these as well as other gainsayers, as we have opportunity. But having this occasion, let me a little mind thee (good reader) what principles have indeed administered foundation and opened the gap for such spurious and ungodly apprehensions or imaginations as forementioned.
1. This principle, that the letter of the Scripture is not Scripture, or thus, that the mind or meaning of the Holy Ghost is not expressed in his words according to the natural import and signification of them, no not in things main and fundamental, and so in all other things, that it may be discerned in the words or records left, comparing spiritual things with spiritual, and things hard and circumstantial with things plain and fundamental, as we are therein directed, but that the mind or meaning of the Holy Ghost is to be found out and determined by some other spirit. This principle hath administered foundation, or opened the gap for popery, and also for men's denying the grace of God to manward, bringing salvation to all men in and by Jesus Christ; and it administers as good foundation, or opens the like gap for all other corrupt <332> principles: for take away the word of the Lord as declared by the pen of the scribe, and what wisdom is in them? yea they do all agree in this fixed great tradition and rudiment of the world. That the letter of the Scripture (as they call it) or the words as written and left on record are not the faithful expressions of the mind and meaning of the Holy Ghost, only they differ in determining what shall give the sense. The papists say, the pope, or council. The opposers of the good of all men (not much unlike them) say, the late fathers of the church (and they [p.11] must be such as they will account so too) or learned men of the times. And these that follow after differ not much; they say, it must be some spirit of or in them which they suppose to be infallible. As much ground for the one as for the other, and so for taking away one part of the word of the Lord by one, as there was for taking away another part by another; yea, their bottom principle is one.
2. Another principle that hath laid, or is properly the foundation of such corrupt imaginations (as before) is that the eternal purpose and decree of God is the absolute cause of men's sin, reprobation and destruction. This properly makes sin no sin, or nothing sinful, but all men's actions and ends of God, and also takes away the equity of his judgment against them which commit such things, and so leads to vain and ungodly imaginations of no resurrection, or judgment to come. And
3. That which naturally flows from both the forementioned is that God dissembles with men, or pretends that which is not really in his heart, when he offers most men grace in the gospel and swears he hath no pleasure in their death but that they turn and live. This lays the foundation for men, even as they would be like God, to dissemble with others; and in pursuance of some worldly or antichristian design to pretend humility, mortification, zeal, holiness, &c., while in their hearts they judge no act or practice to be evil or sinful in itself (unless to him that judgeth it so) but as it may hinder that their design secretly pursued. Yea,
4. That which I conceive hath also done its part among the rest, in opening the gap to such unclean spirits, is an imagination that is secretly crept into the minds of, and pleaded for by some truly gracious (viz.): that men may while they are yet in this mortal body and accumbered with the law of sin, the carnal mind, yet warring in the members, and against the law of the believer's mind (though in the mind or spirit of the believer, in a sense dethroned, yet) so as it is leading them captive still, as Rom. 7:21,23. And also in the midst of so many subtle and powerful adversaries, that yet I say, in this time of their temptation and weakness, they may have already so attained, and be already so perfect, as that from such time, or degree of attainment it is forever impossible for them, in listening to any spirit, to be corrupted from the simplicity in Christ, or <333> so to be drawn away with any errors of the wicked, as to fall from their own steadfastness, or to fall away, as Heb. 6:6 & 4:11, which imagination not only exalteth itself against the plain import of these scriptures: Phil. 3:12-14; 2 Cor. 11:2; 2 Pet. 3:17, with Heb. 6:4-6, & chap. 4:11; Mark 13:35-37, with many others, [p.12] but as we have said, also opens the gap for any manner of ungodly and unclean spirit, by moving the entertainers of it (as soon as ever they can conclude themselves to have so attained) to forsake or let slip out of their hearts the fear of the Almighty, by which they should be kept from departing from him, and presumptuously venture upon the listening to, and parlaying with any evil spirit or way propounded (at least if under good pretenses); yea, this imagination, that (whether they hear his voice and follow him or do hear and follow a stranger) they cannot fall or perish. It hinders them from believing or discerning that they are backslidden, or fallen, when indeed they are so; and so from receiving timely admonition while (it being but in part) they might be recovered (Prov. 14:16 & 28:14); yea, this likewise further prepares them for such spirits as we have dealt with in the following discourse: it requiring but a little addition to make up their devilish doctrine of perfection. Yea,
5. And lastly, all those principles or apprehensions in which men are directed to have their rejoicing and consolation originally in some gracious frames or qualifications wrought in them, or some works of righteousness done by them, and not in the person or works of Christ in his own body for them, which principles are too much retained by many that in words acknowledge him (though in these their works they deny him); these principles I say have opened the gap for such spirits, which come very suitable to their proper lust and way, and seem not at first so to malign the person and works of Christ, but rather to hold the acknowledgment of them, though as of things not irrelative to the ground of their faith and hope, nor as being the matter of their rejoicing and fountain of their teaching, in which they agree well enough, so that people thus principled, as aforesaid, have little or nothing really to turn from, that they may join with what is first commended to them by such spirits: only some opinions that were relative to the foundation of their faith and rejoicing to be a little more slighted, and the rejoicing that was before placed in some works or imaginations of their own now to be placed in some other of the like kind. Yea, surely all that are so principled will and do presently close with them, on their coming to them, only such of them as are kept off by tradition, that are resolved to believe as the church believes, and hold the traditions of their elders and fathers (right or wrong). And the devil hath so sure possession for the present of them, he cares not for troubling them much with anything to their disturbance, <334> but if they be such as have been in any measure taken off from leaning on tradition, &c., and yet retain those principles, they easily close with such spirits [p.13] as forementioned, and that without any great turn or alteration. They are still but growing and going on upon the same bottom principles; whereas those that have been truly acquainted with the forementioned doctrine of the grace of God that brings salvation to all men, they cannot go out from their brethren in the acknowledgment of that grace to close with such spirits as forementioned; but they must first fundamentally recede from and renounce the fundamental principles that therein they have been instructed into (1 John 2:19) (as also hath appeared in some of them that I could mention) which they are not so rightly or easily persuaded to; yet through the retaining some lust or lusts, always reproved by that grace, too many even of such as have been going right on their way have been moved with distaste at the doctrine or instruments by which they are reproved, and then to listen to such as promise liberty or seem to close with them, or come in a way suitable to such lusts (whether more grossly worldly or more spiritually antichristian and ungodly) and yet pretend mortification too.
And truly, by such evil documents and principles, or by such divers lusts retained after the lifting up or magnifying something of self, this part of the Christian world, in my apprehension, is so prepared for such atheistical and antichristian principles, coming under forms of godliness, that there is very great likelihood of their spreading under one visor or another, especially considering the predictions concerning the latter days; therefore in the next place I have taken these pains.
3. Because I conceive the things discoursed of are very profitable and needful to be understood and diligently heeded by all Christians, especially in these days in which Satan with so much subtlety, and as an angel of light, and in his ministers as ministers of righteousness endeavors the undermining and subversion of the great things of God's law, in which are contained both the foundation and end of our faith and hope. And in such a case see the apostle's example (2 Cor. 11) and how he admonisheth Timothy (2 Tim. 2 & 3 total, & 4:1-6); yea, mind well how he propounds example, admonition and instruction to us (Phil. 3) when such as pretended circumcision, and so zeal, mortification, humility; and as Col. 2 yet endeavored to cut them off from Christ, to make faith in him void; he then beseecheth to be followers together of them, and mark them that walk so, as we have them for an example, who may be known and distinguished by the end of their conversation (which is, Jesus Christ yesterday, and today, and forever the same, Heb. 13:7-9), rather than by the particular acts simply, as [p.14] appears by what follows; therefore more need of a diligent and right consideration, that we <335> may know who we are to join and walk with as brethren, for there are many walk (then they are not sots, nor talkers only, but walkers also; zealous in conversation, as if they would not touch, taste or handle anything unclean) concerning whom the apostle had told them often, and did then tell them weeping (as intimating their hardness to receive his testimony and character of such spirits, which shows they were not such grossly appearing, and indeed if so, they had not been so dangerous to believers). They are, saith he, the enemies to the cross of Christ; their end (namely in their pretended walking or conversation) is destruction (even the marring the visage of the Son of Man, Isa. 52:14; the casting him down from his excellency, as in his testimony, and in the heart of the believer; and so the believer from his faith and hope in him, Ps. 62:3-4). Their design to overthrow the faith, to corrupt from the simplicity in Jesus, 2 Cor. 11; Gal. 1), and to that purpose serving and magnifying their belly, some light spirit or lust in them, some internal or external operations of them (as Col. 2, 1 Thess. 2:9-10) therein glorying in their shame, minding earthly things (as Jude 19) though under pretense of spirituality; but such as worship God in the Spirit and so are directed to walk as they have the apostles for an example, they think to have their rejoicing in Christ Jesus and have no confidence in the flesh; their conversation is in heaven, in Christ, their treasury there, from whence they look for him, the Savior, the Lord, who shall change their vile body, in that his appearing, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working of his mighty power, by which he is able even to subdue all things to himself. The Lord mercifully pardoning my unworthiness, afford his blessing with such weak endeavors that they may tend to his glory and the good of others, is the prayer of the most unworthy of all so favored of God.
From my house at Lynn, Aug. 15, 1655
Tho. Moore, junior
The charges framed by James Nayler, against Thomas Moore, after <336> the meeting at Mr. Wray's, the last of May 1655, and sent to the said Thomas Moore that evening, requiring answer to be returned in writing.
Charging the said Thomas Moore to have affirmed (in discourse with them that day) as follows:
That God is not manifest in the creature.
That none have their call to the ministry immediate, but mediate, only the apostles, but not Timothy,
That he had not the same testimony as the apostles had.
[p.2] That the Scriptures are the absolute rule and medium of faith.
That Paul saw Christ personally with his bodily eyes after his ascension.
That Nayler was a false witness, in saying that he had seen Christ.
That he (the said Moore) never saw Christ as Paul did.
That the benefit that drunkards have by Christ is that they enjoy that drink wherewith they are drunk.
That there is something which is not of God which teacheth the creature to deny sin.
1. That God is not manifest in the creature, I never said; but that God was not manifested in the flesh, in a full and absolute sense, in any natural son of Adam (in the time of this mortality) not so as he was manifested in that person, the only begotten Son of God, that is now received up into glory in the nature of man, in that one body.
2. To the next charge, that which I said was that Timothy did not receive his word, nor so his furniture to his service in the gospel, immediately from the person of Christ, as the first apostles, but mediately through their word, and by the evidence and demonstration of the Spirit therein (and for proof of this I brought that 2 Tim. 1:14-15 and 3:1-2, and 1 Tim. 4:14). And so all others for blessing on whose ministration our Savior prays, besides those first apostles that immediately received their word from him, are thus distinguished (John 17:10), "Them also which shall believe on me through their word."
3. That Timothy had not the same testimony as the apostles had, I said not, nor delivered anything in like expressions, nor do I understand by his expressions what he means, or would fasten upon me. If he mean that he had not the same that they had, I disown it; if he mean that he received it not in the same manner, it is spoken to and answered before.
4. That Paul was strengthened with his bodily eyes to behold the person of Christ after his ascension. To this I desire this be considered <337> (which I then propounded, though it could not be heard), Acts 9:7-8: "And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no man, and Saul arose from the earth, and when his eyes were opened he saw no man." Do not the verses together imply that immediately before his falling (at least) in that light shining about him he did see the [p.3] glorified body in the heavens (which might occasion his falling to the earth), even the man Christ Jesus, from whom the voice came, whom they saw not at all that were with him (though they heard a voice)? especially if we compare it with that 1 Cor. 15:8 where after he had said, "he was seen of James, then of all the apostles," he adds, "And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time." I desire in the fear of God this may be considered: was he born out of due time to enjoy a spiritual appearance or discovery of him? or was he the last to whom he so appeared? Yea, is it not plain that he appeared to him last of all in the same manner as he had done to the other before? I stretch not my words, "in the same manner," further than to a personal appearance or visible demonstration of his person. And do they not say that their eyes had seen, that their hands had handled of that word of life, in such a sense as believers since had not seen? compare 1 John 1:1-2 with 1 Pet. 1:8, John 20:19. (Whence Paul to prove himself an apostle saith, "Have I not seen the Lord?"—1 Cor. 9:1.)
5. That Nayler was a false witness in saying that he had seen Christ. To this I answer:
That Nayler would not suffer me to speak out what I was about to say, as to that and other things, all will bear me witness; yet I suppose I at first said, and I am sure did after explicate my saying thus, that if he had said he had seen Christ as Paul did, in the same manner, or (I might say also) received the word in the same manner, immediately from the person of Christ, which was the thing reasoned about, then he was a false witness.
For they were the apostles last in that respect (1 Cor. 4:9), Paul the last of them, to whom he so appeared (as before), 1 Cor. 15:8.
That he might have seen Christ after another manner of demonstration (which in this immediate revelation was not wanting but more abundant to them also) I will not deny, yea, that he yet in some sense, and at this time might (through the Spirit's demonstration of him in his words), for many see and hate (as those John 15:24).
6. That I never saw Christ in the same manner that Paul and the rest of the apostles did with their bodily eyes, I own; yet not having so seen, I desire to love him, even that person, and to wait for his second appearing (as those 1 Pet. 1:3,7-8; 1 Thess. 1:9-10).
7. That the benefit drunkards have by Christ is that they enjoy that <338> drink with which they are drunk. That that is the benefit, I said not, but one of the benefits. And they enjoy many more, and all to a saving tendency, and not to abuse them, which is the thing that makes them benefits, and [p.4] their condemnation great in abusing such benefits, which (as then more fully explicated) was the answer given to their querying what benefits drunkards had by Christ.
8. That everything that teaches to deny sin is not the true light; many false principles and lights teach to deny many sins, as that which teaches to establish a righteousness of a man's own; yea, the wisdom of the flesh teacheth to deny many lusts of the flesh. And having thus fully answered, I desire him to answer and prove:
1) That God is manifested in his flesh, and how?
2) That no wicked man hath any benefit by Christ, nor any man till he can witness Christ in him?
3) Whether the writings of the prophets and apostles be a dead letter?
4) Whether Christ be anything that beareth our sins in us as the propitiation, yea or no? Which things, if he asserted not let others witness.
On review of their paper next day I find another charge, which truly I slipped over unawares in my answer to it the last night, viz.:
That the Scriptures are the absolute rule and medium of faith. To this I answer, viz.:
That which I said to this, I am sure was with this clause, "according to which it is begotten and regulated," which I suppose they wittingly leave out, for it was oft urged, on their cavilling at it. And for proof and demonstration of the sense of what I affirmed, as to that I propounded that John 7:38: "He that believeth on me as the Scripture hath said," and that Acts 10:43: "To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him," &c. I had then spoken further to that, if I had not been taken off in the midst by Nayler, with a reproach for bringing those scriptures as parallel, and derision at the thing thereby signified, that the name of Christ, and so of God in him, through and according to which faith in him is begotten, is declared in the Scriptures.
To this I further add (Prov. 22:19-20), "That thy trust may be in the Lord, I have made known to thee this day even to thee, have I not written to thee excellent things?" with Ps. 19:7-8, "The law, or doctrine of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of the [p.5] Lord is sure, making wise the simple," &c., with these compare 2 Tim. 3:15-17, "The holy Scriptures" (which he had known from a <339> child) "are able to make thee wise to salvation, through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for all doctrine, reproof, instruction in righteousness," &c.
And if I had also said that they are, as left on record for us, a perfect and absolute means through which faith is begotten and nourished, I do not therein deny other means God useth for discovery of Christ or of his goodness that is in and through him, or the usefulness of them, or God's teaching by them, only say as that Ps. 19: the law, or doctrine of the Lord, as compared with all other means is perfect, or absolute. But that which I said was as before, and was thus expressed, and in this saying as follows:
Though the Scriptures be the absolute and perfect medium or rule, according to which faith is begotten and regulated, yet Jesus Christ himself as declared in them is made the foundation and bottom of it, as well as the object of it, in whom the Father is believed in, as John 12:44,46, with chap. 5:23-24; in him it centers and about him is exercised, even him that Jesus of Nazareth, &c., the same that was reproached by them as a figure, and one by whom many men have no benefit.
These answers to their charges are as they were, the first of them, sent to them, and the other left for them (as before) unless in the addition of a quotation or two, and of some words of the Scriptures quoted, and some little filling up of a phrase (then in haste omitted, now added) in some places to render the answers given the more understandable to them also, that were not at the meeting.
The things in these answers briefly spoken to are most of them more fully and largely spoken to in the following answers to James Nayler's letter, especially those about God's being manifested in the flesh and Paul's enjoyment of a visible demonstration of that person in which he was so manifested after his being received up into glory. That also about the Scriptures, and the difference between Paul's and Timothy's receipt of their word, and so their furniture to their ministry, is spoken to again in the said answer, but more fully in the answer to the queries I received from others of them, which are after that inserted; likewise what benefits or blessings are prepared for men in Christ, even in the just for the unjust, for such as are wicked or rebellious, that through him they might be brought back to God, as Ps. 68:18 with 1 Pet. 3:18. And how all his benefits with which he daily loads them in his forbearances, not presently cutting them off or executing judgment on them in their rebellions, but waiting [p.6] that he may be gracious, and in all the streams of his grace in continuing and renewing his mercies; adding also, sometimes favorable, sometimes more sharp chastisements or judgments, and in his vouchsafing in and with all the supernatural influences of the light and <340> power of his Spirit, and so bringing in all means, the testimony of Jesus, or of God's goodness, so as through him, nigh to them in their hearts, enlightening in the discovery of God's goodness and Christ's preciousness for sinners, and the necessity of being found in him and washed by him; and therein reproving of the vanity of these idols, the evil of their ways, &c., in such wise and to such end that therein these instructions and reproofs of instruction might be received, through such his grace bringing salvation to them (though not by any such light or power as they speak of, that is an indwelling principle in them). I say how all these benefits are salvation (as 2 Pet. 3:9,15; Isa. 30:18; Ps. 68:19-20), even springing out of the bowels and virtues of that salvation wrought in Christ for them; and themselves such salvations as in which Jesus Christ in the name of the Father, and as the ends and virtues of his cross, is saving men, not only from the poison and destructiveness of the first death (that is abolished by him), but also from those judgments being poured out in fury to their cutting off, that might daily bring forth, according to the rule of the gospel, involving under a second death; yea, they have all tendency and aptness in them to lead to farther and special salvation, by and through Christ. The grace of the truth comes forth to save men, and so as they may be saved by it, however men by observing lying vanities deprive themselves of their own mercies, and so their table, their welfare, becomes a snare and a trap to them (as John 3:17-19 and 12:47-48; 2 Thess. 2:10; Jonah 2:8; Ps. 69:22). This also I say is further spoken to in the following answers, and particularly in the conclusion of the answer to the queries forementioned, in answer to a like reproach of the grace of God in Christ to manward, in the conclusion of those queries. But more fully in that book entitled Mercies for Men.
To that, that many false principles or lights teach to deny many sins, there is nothing added directly to it in the following answers, though James gave some occasion for it in his letter, yet in the answer to that I waived it, partly because he corrupted and skewed my sayings, so as to render them absurd, in his renewing of his charge there, with reference to what was written in answer to that charge at first, as may be seen in comparing that charge to his letter following, with my said former answer forementioned (which is word for word as it was sent to him), so that he therein fights with his own shadow. And partly because I would not [p.7] draw out that answer to a greater length, having been large in it, to the opening of things more fundamental. But it being waived there, I shall here add a word or two to it (yet with brevity for like reasons as before).
1. In his said letter, himself fully signifies that even that spiritual wickedness which teacheth to deny God, &c., may yet teach and lead to <341> deny some lesser yet grosser evils, even so to deny as to leave or forsake such gross evils as drunkenness, swearing, &c. Surely therein, he acknowledgeth that such spiritual wickedness teacheth to deny some sins, unless he mean that those gross evils of drunkenness, swearing, &c., be no sins; I am indeed ready to suppose them to be of that number that judge no act or practice as drunkenness, swearing, adultery, &c., to be in itself sinful, but to him that judgeth it so, or not otherwise sinful in them than it is open, gross, and so scandalous, and striking against their being satisfied in their spiritual covetousness and adultery, in beguiling unstable souls (of which their minds are full, as 2 Pet. 2:14: "For it is a shame to speak of those things that are done and allowed by some of them in secret" (as Eph. 5:12). But if this be his meaning, that drunkenness, swearing, &c., are not in themselves sins or sinful (as is fully signified in his expressions in the said letter, where he saith, that which taught me to leave some gross evils without, &c., and after mentions drunkenness and swearing, yet doth it not therein teach to deny sin, but to deny God, &c.). I say, if this be his meaning, why doth he call them evils, and gross evils too, if not sins, or sinful? I leave him with his contradictions. But,
2. The Holy Ghost instructeth us, "That all evil or unrighteousness is sin" (1 John 5:17). "For sin is the transgression of the law" (1 John 3:4), so that by the law (which saith, "Thou shalt not lust," &c.) is the knowledge of sin (Rom. 7:7 and 3:19-20; 1 Tim. 1:9-10). And yet also that touching the righteousness which is in the law, Paul was blameless, while yet he had not received the true light but was a furious enemy to Jesus Christ (Phil. 3:6). As the Jews whose zeal was yet a zeal of God (though not according to knowledge, as Rom. 10:2), and against many sins (even such sins as for which "The wrath of God comes upon the children of disobedience"), as adultery, John 8:4-5, and abuse of the creatures in drunkenness and gluttony, as appears in their false charging our Savior with such things (Matt. 11:19), yea they were men much for fasting, mortification and holiness (Matt. 9:14; Luke 18:11; John 5:18). And so were the false apostles and teachers that came among the Christians after (Col. 2:16,18,21,23; 2 Cor. 11) and yet thereto moved and guided by that false light or principle and spirit in them, which indeed was darkness, and did therein pursue such ends as the establishing a righteousness of their own, and sometimes [p.8] also, that they might appear to men to be just, temperate, holy, &c., in pursuance of which end they were also more in appearance than in truth, and large in their boastings, proclaiming every man his own goodness, yea sometimes as in the last mentioned chiefly, they herein pursued this as the main end, in and with the former, that they might the more powerfully insinuate themselves into <342> the minds of such as were going right on their way to the corrupting them from the simplicity that is in Jesus, destroying their faith and hope in Christ, beguiling them of their reward, &c. This the end of their walking (Phil. 3:18-19; 2 Cor. 11) and of their voluntary humility and neglecting of the body, &c. (Col. 2:18,23), yet many of the things they denied and abstained from, from such principles and to such ends, were sins and sinful, and many of the works they did and pressed others to in themselves good. Whence our Savior saith to his disciples "All that they" (namely as sitting in Moses' seat, and urging the things required in the law, and admonishing of the evils reproved in it) "bid you observe, that observe and do, but after their works do not," for two reasons. First, "They say and do not"; secondly, "The works they do," in which is signified, they also do something good and commendable and abstain from some evils, though short of their sayings, but even that which they do is to an evil end, yet as to their apprehension and according to the judgment of others, that can judge but according to outward appearance, they many of them have attained perfection in the denying and mortifying of not some but all sins, some things they do from such false principles, deny and abstain from, that are indeed sins and sinful; and those may be done to many of them in their account and apprehensions, all sins, or at least they are not sensible of those greater sins they live in and glory off, as appears also in these spirits we have to do with.
Observe what follows:
Moved of the Lord to write this to the chiefest of those called by the name of Manifestarians, in and about Boston and Lynn, that if they will grant to this, which is hereafter laid down, we will try our God these ways, as the servant of the Lord tried Baal's prophets and their god by sacrifice, without fire, &c. So I am freely willing made by the Lord to try and prove your proud boasting spirit, [p.9] by these particulars, as is hereafter propounded and expressed.
First, that the chiefest of you grant to go abroad with me, where I shall be led to preach the word for two weeks together.
Secondly, that you and I eat no food, as outward bread and flesh, nor any outward victualling, provided by any man, or creature for that time, nor drink either beer, ale, or wine, nor partake of any other outward thing, except a little spring water; and that neither you nor I look upon any book all that time seen with a visible eye.
<343> Thirdly, that for two weeks time we have meetings every day (or every other day), one week for the first amongst those called Manifestarians (and others as the Lord shall please) and I be permitted amongst them to speak the word of the Lord, and each other day he that joins with me herein to speak also; and he shall permitted be, if he dare say and by the Spirit of truth affirm that he hath anything to speak immediately from the mouth of the Lord; he shall I say be then permitted to speak one day as I do another (or part of each) one week amongst those called Manifestarians and others, that the Lord shall lead unto (and no outward help, neither meat, drink nor book, as aforesaid) and another week amongst those that the world scornfully calleth by the nickname of Quakers.
And lastly, that for the two weeks time he part not from me day nor night, that he receive no more outward help than I do.
And this way of trial I have freely from the Lord expressed. And then it must be acknowledged after all this that the only true God upholds by his power in those things, by all that knows him and his power; and I dare trust him, and do in obedience to the Lord, upon this proffer, challenge any Manifestarians, so called, or the highest notionary priest, or other priest, or Baptist, Dipper, or Sprinkler with outward water, in Lincolnshire or in any part of England.
Do not call this a temptation nor a boasting (for it is not fleshly), but if you will try your spirit and God this way, try him, and whether Spirit and God doth thus uphold without the help of man, &c., let him be acknowledged to be the Lord, that Spirit (2 Cor. 3:17) and the only true God. And that which fails, let him be accounted the god of the world, that blinds the minds of people which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, which is the image of God, should shine unto them (2 Cor. 4 and 3rd and 4th verses). And for that spirit of darkness that puffs them up with vainglory, pride, and conceits.
And if the said Manifestarians, &c., so called, refuse to do according [p.10] to this which is here written from the Spirit of the Lord, let them cease their vain contentions and fleshly boasting and fleshly disputings also of other men's words, and let them cease their preaching in their wills, whereby they seek their own glory. And come down thou that in thy brain-knowledge art exalted, and sit in the dust and submit to that of God in thy conscience; I command and charge thee in the presence of the Lord, as thou wilt answer it before him, lest for thy disobedience and rebellion the Lord meet thee as a bear bereaved of her whelps and tear thee to pieces, and none be able to deliver thee out of his hands.
This way which is before made known will not appear fleshly, but clear contrary to the flesh and the fleshly man, yet though it do, the <344> spiritual man, that witnesseth with (the Spirit's ministers, or) the ministers of Christ and of God, did approve themselves (in ways contrary to the world) both in much patience and also in afflictions, and in necessities, and in distresses, and in stripes, and imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in watchings, and in fastings, &c. They therein approved themselves as the ministers of God (2 Cor. 6:4-5, &c.). And this way will be contrary to the world; for the world never did so, neither can the world's nature endure it now. Then it will be miraculous, and so a miracle of grace, and the gracious working of the divine power of God, to uphold and furnish therein.
To this expressed and expressly send me your answer with speed, either to Thomas Killams at Balby or to Edward Muglinstons at Swanington in Leicestershire, or else cease your boasting, lay down your crown of vainglory, and fall under the judgment of the Just and bend your necks under the yoke. Let that in the conscience me answer, and flesh be thou silent hereafter.
Written from the Spirit of the Lord, in (and by) the
servant of the Lord, and also witnessed with my
hand, who am known to the world by the name
The latter end of the third month (55)
For the chiefest of those called Manifestarians, in or about Boston and Lynn, these are to be delivered with care.
Though I know not any called Manifestarians nor what manner of persons they apply that name to, nor take myself at all included in their challenge by any of those names inserted, yet the paper being sent to me, lest they be wise in their own conceit or take occasion from our silence to glory before the weak, and for others' good I shall give this brief answer.
1. In their expressions to try our Gods, whether spirit and God be the true one, &c, they intimately acknowledge that they do not own or worship the same God that I did confess before them, which indeed I believe, though they then endeavored to hide it from the people.
2. I thank God I am not wavering in my thoughts, whether that God, that Lord, that Spirit which I then confessed be the only true and living God, for though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth (as there be gods many, and lords many), yet to us (that through his grace have been helped in any measure truly to know him that is true, to behold him and enjoy union with him by faith in his Son) there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him, and one <345> Spirit of God proceeding from Father and Son. All others are idols, which we are to keep ourselves from (1 Cor. 8:5-6; 1 John 5:20-21) and not to listen to any spirit that shall move us to inquire after any other god save the Lord (Deut. 12:30, &c. and 13:1,3; Matt. 24:23,26; Luke 17:23-24 and chap. 21:8 with 1 John 5:20-21). That is the true God and eternal life that did appear and was manifested in that one person of God and man, which was a man approved of God among them that yet received him not (Acts 2:22), and so the kingdom of heaven was said to be among them while he was with them in person and personal ministration, and so also in them in the spiritual influences thereof, striving and working in and with them for acceptance, the word being made nigh them in the preaching of it (Luke 17:20-21; Rom. 10:6,8, &c.), which person in whom only the fullness of the Godhead dwells bodily, was after to be taken from them personally. And then even his disciples should desire to see one of his days (namely that of his second appearing) and should not see it until they, and we that look for him, shall enjoy it together (Luke 17:22-23, ult.): "Then shall he swallow up death in victory, and wipe away all tears, and take away the rebuke of his people. In that day it shall be said, Lo, this is our God, and we have waited for him; we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation." Isa, 25:7-9: "For who is God save the [p.12] Lord, and who is a rock, save our God?" (2 Sam. 22:32). Therefore I shall wholly refuse any challenge on these terms, "to try our gods," &c.
3. The things they require are contrary to what the Lord requireth of us, by which also I know they were not thereto moved of the Lord, as they pretend.
1) They require me to follow, or go with them, where they shall be led for two weeks together, &c. Whereas we are only to follow the Lamb whithersoever he goes, which cannot stand with such an engagement to follow any other spirit whether he may be led, &c; yea we are expressly admonished to "mark such as cause divisions contrary to the doctrine which we have learned in the word of the truth of the gospel" (compare Rom. 16:17 with Col. 1:5 and 1 Cor. 15:1,4) "and to avoid them, for they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ but their own belly," their lust, will, or spirit, or the light in them, which is darkness whatever it be if it spring not from the person of Christ as declared in the gospel, who is even so the true light; they magnify not Jesus but themselves, in the internal or external operations of their own spirits. "And by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple," under pretense and show of godliness; they deny the power and root of godliness, are the enemies to the cross of Christ, his personal sufferings, and the only virtuousness of them for the taking away our sin, <346> and the love and glory of God as appearing in that face of him. This they seek to undermine and slight under pretense of magnifying Christ in them, glorying therein, in that which is their shame, their internal proof of the mystery of iniquity, with power and signs, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish from the faith, for in them only it hath efficacy (Phil. 3:17-18; 2 Thess. 2:9-11); from such I say we are straitly admonished of the Lord to turn away; 2 Tim. 3:5: "If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be anathema maranatha" (1 Cor. 16:22). If any pretend to acknowledge Christ and yet lift not up, praise not, magnify not above all, and unto and for all things pertaining to life and godliness, the Son of Man, Jesus Christ, as now already come in the flesh, and through sufferings entered into glory for us, as the only ground and foundation of our faith and matter of our rejoicing, and song to others, and fountain of our teaching, that is that spirit of antichrist not to be followed; it's indeed not only against Christ but his most pernicious enemy, being a contrary anointing from which we are to fly, at least as soon as we perceive it in any, as Prov. 14:7: "Go from the presence of a foolish man, when thou perceivest not in him the lips of knowledge" [p.13] which I oft after hearing some of their discourse declared, and as I could get liberty thus demonstrated, I perceived not to be in them, but the lip of a contrary anointing, and yet they are tempting me to follow after them, a company, and go with them night and day, though they know such are my apprehensions concerning them. "Now whether it be right in the sight of God that I shall obey God or them in this, let others judge"; yea, I will in the strength of God's grace observe the directions of the great Shepherd when any shall say, "Lo here, or lo there is Christ," either in this form of church or state government, or in this order, or as these in the secret chambers, in some internal operations, as found and accomplished in them (in such manner as we cannot discern it unless we lay aside all that knowledge of God in Christ we have received through and according to his word, as fleshly, to go after them) "appearing the second time without sin unto salvation," and accomplishing that rest and hope of glory and perfection now, in and upon them, which we through the Spirit wait for to be revealed in the resurrection of the dead, when we shall all be gathered together to it (which, and more to that purpose, was Nayler's and Farnworth's witness concerning themselves); we are, I say, expressly admonished then not to go after such, and that for this reason, in which we are fortified against their juggling. That the coming of the Son of Man, that day of his second appearing in the glory of his Father and with his holy angels, should certainly be as the lightning from the one end of the heaven to the other, at once accomplished to them altogether, and visible to every eye, even to those that shall <347> weep and wail because of it (Matt. 24:26-27; Luke 17:22-24; Rev. 1:7). "Therefore if a prophet or dreamer of dreams should tell us of a sign or a wonder, and that also should come to pass" (as we know antichrist shall come with signs and wonders in the latter days) to move us to turn aside from following the Lord, or to inquire after another God, or to take us off from our waiting for his Son from heaven, whom he hath raised from the dead, we will not hearken to them nor go in company with such wicked men, as Deut. 13:1-3 and 28:14; Ps. 1:1-3.
2) They require me to eat no food, &c. Whereas our Savior bids his disciples, even those great apostles who were to give forth the last and fullest revelation of the gospel, for obedience to the faith among all nations, which was in that first publication of it to be confirmed with miracles by them also, even then when he gives them power in his name to heal the sick, &c., yet then he bids them twice together, eat and drink such things as they give and set before them among whom they were preaching (Luke 10:7-8). And the apostle Paul tells Timothy, they are [p.14] "doctrines of devils," that command to "abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received, and that with thanksgiving, of them that believe and know the truth," &c. (1 Tim. 4:3). I shall therefore answer them as our Savior doth the devil in a like case, "It is written, thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God."
3. They require me to lay aside all books, &c., the holy Scriptures not excepted. Whereas the Holy Ghost tells us he hath therefore written to us excellent things that so our trust may be in the Lord; and we may have those words, as written and left in record for and to us, to answer all that are sent to us (Prov. 22:17,11), and commends to us the example of a better preacher than any of them, in this, that he sought out acceptable (safe, profitable, and plain) words for the people and in his search found that which was written was upright words of truth (Eccl. 12:10-11), and renders it as part of the character of a godly man, he exerciseth himself in the law (or doctrine of the Lord) both day and night (Ps. 1:2), yea the same Holy Spirit commands Timothy to give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine, to meditate on and give himself wholly to these things, and in so doing study to show himself approved, a workman that needs not be ashamed (1 Tim. 4 and 2:15). But these spirits lay their commands upon us, not so much as to look on them in the records left us in books neither night nor day. A notable piece of policy. For if they can but keep us from going to the law and to the testimony, with their internal light or power they boast of, we may the easilier be mistaken in it and led to follow those that peep and mutter, as Isa. 8:18,20, that tell a vision out of their own heart and not out of the mouth of the Lord (Jer. 23:16,31; Ezek. 13:2-3) and yet say, <348> He saith, that think to make God's people forget his name by their dreams which they tell every one to his brother or neighbor. But how do they say, "We are wise, and the law of the Lord is with us," or "in us," when as lo in this it appears the making of it is in vain to them, "The pen of the scribe is in vain" (Jer. 8:8).
4) They prohibit me to speak the word of God, unless I dare insolently boast that I have anything to speak immediately. I suppose he means, unless I have that thing immediately which I would speak, and doth not mean that I should so have it as to speak it immediately too, for they themselves speak not immediately but use their tongues, when they say "He saith," as Jer. 23:31, but against that their meaning I am strengthened and admonished by God in those instructions to Timothy, "Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me," &c. And yet been also assured of by the Holy Ghost mediately in that hearing of faith (2 Tim. 1:13-14 and 3:14-15). "The things thou hast heard of me [p.15] among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men who shall be able to teach others also" (chap. 2:2). And professeth to be filled with joy when he calls to remembrance the unfeigned faith in him which dwelt first in his grandmother, then in his mother, by whom he was educated from a child in the knowledge of the holy Scriptures, which are able to make him wise to salvation through faith, which is in Christ Jesus. And thereupon also puts him in remembrance to stir up the gift of God that was in him mediately, by the putting on of his hands, &c. (2 Tim. 1:5-8 with chap. 3:14-15, like to that 1 Tim. 4:14). Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the Presbytery; yea, our Savior prays for blessings on their ministration to the world's end, and only on theirs; besides the first apostles, that received their word immediately from himself, I say, besides them, only on theirs, that through their word or doctrine should believe on him.
And by these I know he was not moved to this challenge by the Spirit of the true God, God in Christ, not only the nature and end of the challenge being to try our gods, but also all the things required in it being so contrary to all his instructions and requirings, whose "kingdom is not divided against itself." God is one; but that one only true God that hath revealed himself in his Son, so that he that seeth the Son, in and according to the testimony God hath given of him, he therein and so far seeth the Father (John 12:44-46) in whose face God hath shined in our hearts, the light of the knowledge of his glory. He that is our God, and according to our weak measure hath been acknowledged by us, is not their God, or rock, themselves in this paper being witnesses (as Deut. 32:31).
Written from Bolingbrook, 7 June, 1655
Tho. Moore, Jr.<349>
Elias' way of trying Baal, &c, we need not for trying and discovering them, because God, who in sundry manners spake in times past to the fathers by the prophets, hath now spoken to us in these last days by his Son, &c. And we ought to give earnest heed to the things we have heard, which have been spoken by the Lord himself, and confirmed by them that heard him, God having borne them witness with signs, miracles, &c., which were the first and full publishers of that last dispensation; nothing more is to be added or altered, therefore no sign to be looked for, for [p.16] the confirmation of that, so confirmed, only the sign of the prophet Jonah, the cross of Christ, and the demonstration of the Spirit in and with it left for continuance to the world's end; other signs and wonders for confirmation of what he speaks, only the spirit of antichrist shall come within these last days, but we are not to follow them; for if they have Moses and the prophets and will not hear them, neither will they believe if one should rise from the dead.
To that of the apostles approving themselves in necessities and fastings, &c., it appears they were not willful or voluntary fastings, or macerating of their bodies (as in those false spirits, Col. 2:18,23) in which they so approved themselves; for then they had been no necessities, but such as necessarily came on them for the gospel sake, or in following after the Spirit.
There is in this copy of the answer a little abbreviation in the relation of Nayler's witness concerning himself, as also in the explication of Luke 17:22,13, &c., of what was sent them, because the same things are more fully spoken to in the answer to James Nayler's letter, which follows.
By the indwelling of God, and in his presence, I do bear testimony against thy antichristian doctrine, preached by thee Thomas Moore before many people, which I did then bear witness against whilst I had liberty of the place, and do still before all men, that thou art out of the doctrine of Christ and his faith, who deniest God in his saints, which is the promise of God and of Christ, and that which the apostles preached and witnessed to, and exhorted to wait for, which thou pleadest against and wouldst bring Paul for thy proof, who never preached such a doctrine after he knew God, but said, "Know you not that your bodies are the temples of the living God? as he hath said I will dwell <350> in you and walk in you"; and "you are the temple of God, and the temple of God is holy, which temple you are, and if any defile this temple, him will God destroy" (2 Cor. 6:16; John 14:20; 1 Cor. 3:16-17, &c, and 6:19-20). And "Christ in us the hope of glory," and "Christ in you, except ye be reprobates." Which thou saidst was not God in us, plainly showing thou never knew him nor see him, for who [p.17] hath seen the Son hath seen the Father also; and he that hath them not hath not life; so death speak in thee, who deniest the living God and the Lord that bought thee, and that is the spirit of antichrist, who denies Christ to be come in the flesh, as thou didst, and many more of thy disciples, who, when I witnessed him come again (since his ascension) without sin to salvation, you could not receive it, but took it in writing as matter of accusation against me, showing what generation you are of, such as ever sought accusation against the Son of God where he is manifest to salvation, but who are ignorant of his salvation, could never bear the confession of his name.
And when I confessed the flesh of Christ your carnal reason stormed at it like the blind Jews, saying, "How could I have his flesh in me?" which one of you after confessed to, when he saw the letter declared of it, so that further than your carnal reason can read in the letter you will not believe. What a generation would you have been, had you lived in the times of the apostles? who preached down circumcision, temple, and sacrifices without, such things as the letter said should continue forever, yet they preached them down without, and confirmed them within in Spirit, which is the ground and bottom of all, and in which all must end. And that the word which became flesh, which is ascended, they knew to be the bread of life which they broke and fed on, who was their rule and mediator. But the ground of your faith is seen, and what testimony you bear, who say the Scripture is the absolute rule and medium of faith, as thou, Thomas Moore, didst before the people. And when I asked thee if God could not give faith without it, then thou wast forced to deny what thou hadst said. But such doctrine as this thou makest people believe, who are ignorant and not able to try thy spirit. Oh shame with thy preaching! If the Scripture be the absolute rule and medium, then Christ is not the absolute rule, unless thou say the Scripture is Christ. And thus thou not knowing Christ to rule thee, thou settest the letter in his stead for the rule of faith. But of Abraham's faith, thou art not, nor knows it, who had an absolute rule before the Scripture was. But this doctrine excludes all from faith who have not the letter; so thou that art a minister of the letter preachest another rule and faith than ever any of Christ's ministers preached, who preached the word and faith in the heart of them to <351> whom they preached, and Christ in them, who is the absolute rule and ground of faith; and the law written in their hearts, and the Spirit of Truth their rule and guide into all truth, and the light in their hearts, which gave them [p.18] the knowledge of God and his glory, which never was known by the letter without; and Christ saith, the kingdom of God is within you, which the Pharisees durst not deny (Rom. 10:8; Heb. 8:10-11; John 16:13; 2 Cor. 4:6; Luke 17:20-21). But thou art more brazened against the truth and wouldst exclude God out of his kingdom and persuade all thou canst not to look for him within, but without, lo here, lo there. But Christ saith, Go not forth to such teachers; and thou art found to be one of those he forewarned of, and in that work he foretold of, which is against him, and with the same Spirit thou art seen to be an enemy to his appearance, who is the eternal life of his people, which is not without the knowledge of God in his temple; for death reigns in the creature where God is not present, and this word of reconciliation thou withstands, and all that are led by thee will have cause to curse thee when it is too late, and time is spent to no purpose, and the day of visitation passed over.
And from the immediate call, which I witness, wherewith I am called, I do testify against thy false doctrine, who denies that any have been immediately called since Christ ascended, only those who saw him bodily upon earth; and when I instanced Paul, thou saidst, he saw Christ personally with his bodily eyes, when he was called. And when I said, then must he be come personally again since he ascended; then thou saidst, Paul was in heaven, and saw him there with bodily eyes, when the Scripture saith, he was fallen to the earth, and saw no man (with his bodily eyes), being blind three days; and such confused stuff thou utteredst forth to uphold thy lies, wherewith thou keepest blind people in Babylon, but with the light thou art comprehended, thy ground, root, offspring and end, praised be our Redeemer forever, and in thy paper thou tellest of his seeing Christ after the same manner the other apostles did. Then must it either be bodily upon earth, or the other went bodily into heaven to be called, both which are yet unproved by plain Scripture. And thy implying is no ground for me to believe that which I know is a lie; and here thou art found preaching another gospel, which no plain Scripture will warrant, and all that know God in them sees thee accursed, and thy antichristian doctrine, who denies the Father and the Son, and fellowship with them, who hath spoken to his people in all ages, and does at this day, where the ear is circumcised, but the serpent's seed could never hear him, whose ears are open to that wisdom, yet canst thou not be content to speak thy own condition, but in thy busy mind wouldst exclude others, and this is <352> thy work, to shut up the kingdom, and deceive the nations that are without; but we [p.19] are entered, and the Elect is witnessed which cannot be deceived; and we know him that is in us, and we in him; only they who will not own the light, such are made to be deceived, and over such only hast thou dominion for a season. But thy time is coming to an end, that makes thy rage great. And thou art forced to utter what testimony thou bearest, such as none of Christ's ever preached, that God is not known in his people: is this thy word of reconciliation? And to what must they be reconciled if not to God? And how must they all be taught of God, if they must never hear his voice more? But thy ministry begets not such children nor such sheep thou knows not, but opposes, who have seen him and heard him, such thou callest false witnesses, so thou appearest to be a witness to that which thou hast never seen, and many such witnesses there are in the nation, who preach up separation instead of reconciliation, which pains might be spared amongst them you preach to (all having that by nature) but that the devil fears his kingdom, which is only upholden by ignorance of God in his people, whose eyes are blinded; but whose eyes are open and have seen him, bear witness of him, and what we have seen and heard, we declare against all false witnesses, who have naught but by hearsay from others, who have eyes and see not, ears and hear not, a heart that doth not understand, who knows not the spiritual man, his eyes and ears, and so judge of God to be like themselves, as thy companion did say that God had neither eye, nor ear, nor heart, and thus with your carnal imaginations you will judge of the eternal God. A nest of blasphemers, who are blind and deaf, and would make God like you; read the Scriptures, ye blind guides, if ever any gave the like testimony of God as you do; against you do I bear testimony, who knows the eyes of the Lord to be over the righteous, and his ears open to their prayers, but the imaginations of the wicked grieve him at the heart (1 Pet. 3:12; Gen. 6:5-6). And thy false doctrine I deny, who said there is something which is not of God which teacheth to deny sin; and to prove it, thou saidst, something teacheth to deny sin and establish self-righteousness; where thou showest thy sottishness who wouldst make people believe that to set up a greater evil by denying a lesser is a denying of sin; this is thy own teaching and practice, but we know that which teacheth to deny one sin teacheth to deny all sin, and this is of God alone; but that which teacheth to set up self-righteousness denies not sin but establisheth it, as that which taught thee to leave some gross evils without, that thou the better mayest be believed when thou deniest the kingdom of God within, and the knowledge of God in his saints; for the devil knows [p.20] it's in vain <353> for drunkards, swearers, &c., to preach this doctrine, yet doth not this teach to deny sin, but to deny God and set up darkness in his seat, and this is spiritual wickedness in heavenly places, which is sin above all others. And thou that sayest thou hast not the same call the apostles had, nor the same testimony, hast thy call from another, whom thou never saw, and bears the testimony of antichrist, against such as have seen Christ, and withstands his appearance in his saints, and art of that spirit who denies Christ come in the flesh, and that is the spirit of antichrist, which ever withstood his appearance in his people, and would divide him from his body and shut God out of his kingdom. Now do not say this is railing, as you use to do, for it is truth, as many can witness, and much more of thy false tenets, which may be declared against in word or writing, which those two days thou uttered before many witnesses as opportunity served.
Also consider if thou dealt like a Christian in slandering us with burglary and breaking into the house, when we was sent for many miles to give you a meeting (as far as I know) at your desires, and I had free liberty to come into the house from the owner, with all other friends, nor did we resist his commands in departing (though we were unwilling to leave the work, so much desired by the people). And this can John Wray witness against thee, if he will, however the thing is true in the sight of God, and we are free from burglary, or breaking his house, but out of envy wouldst thou cast this upon us, as that in thy conscience shall one day witness, though now through subtlety and disobedience thou be seared and blinded, and wouldst blind others also. But blessed be Israel's light by which we see thee and all the blind leaders who undertake in their own wills, and for self-ends, to lead to him they never saw nor heard.
James Nayler, I expected before this a direct answer in writing to the paper I sent thee, which also you told me and others you had finished, and when you had taken a copy of it, it should be sent, but by a letter received from thee since I perceive your mind is altered; it seems the spirit by which you are immediately guided sometimes puts you upon that which on better consideration you refuse to obey him in. Till I have your answer to that I might reasonably have waived this, yet lest I should not have such another occasion from you to deal plainly with you, I return this answer to thy [p.21] letter. Not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth. And the Lord commendeth not but bears testimony against that man, and will in due <354> time cut him off (he so persisting) that loveth and maketh a lie (Rev. 22:15), either in openly or privily slandering his neighbor (Ps. 101:5,7-8 and 50:19,22 and 52), or in preaching another Jesus, which the apostles have not preached, moving us to listen to or receive another spirit, which we have not received in the hearing of faith, or another gospel, which we have not accepted, nor the apostles which have spoken to us in the name of the Lord delivered, whether they do this by word or spirit, or letter, as from them, perverting the gospel of Christ to introduce another doctrine (as 2 Cor. 11:1-4; Gal. 2; 2 Thess. 2:2). And wherein thou hast done both these in thy letter, I shall declare whether thou wilt hear or forbear, as I am admonished and strengthened of God (according to that Ezek, 2:4-7; Jer. 23:28-29, &c.; Rev. 22:10-12 to the end).
First, thou hast loved and made these lies and slanders of me and others, and after conviction of the most of them to be such yet persistest to manage them.
1. That I deny God in his saints.
2. That I deny Christ being in them, mentioned Col. 1:27, 2 Cor. 13:5, to be God's being in them.
3. That I said Paul was in heaven when he saw the person of Christ.
4. That God is not known in his people.
5. That I said I had not the same testimony the apostles had.
6. That I charged you with burglary and breaking into the house.
7. That any of my companions should say that God had neither eyes, nor ears, nor heart.
8. That Mr. Wray commanded you to depart his house, with divers more, as that I was forced by thee to deny what I had said about the Scriptures and other such slanders almost in every mention of anything as my sayings, in thy letter; and that thou mayest acknowledge these to be falsities and slanders of thy own loving and making. If thy conscience be not wholly seared, which I almost fear it is, I shall revive something to remembrance that will so manifest it.
First, to the first and fourth of these slanders, I shall speak together. Thou well knowest, if thou knowest anything, as to this: that there was nothing said by me of that nature or to that purpose, that God is not in his saints, or not known in his people, but the contrary, even in that part of the discourse thou didst take the occasion of thy slander from, as in the opening of that scripture, 1 Tim. 3:16, that which I said, was this, or to [p.22] this purpose, that Scripture did speak concerning Christ, and of these things as done and true in his person only. In him, that word made flesh, in that one personal body prepared for him (the only immediately begotten Son of God in the womb of a virgin) as in that his own body in our nature he was delivered to death for <355> our offenses and raised again for our justification. In him, as so considered, "God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached to the Gentiles, believed on in the world and received up into glory." And that this scripture speaks of these great things of the mystery of godliness as done only in that one person, I propounded this consideration for one: that the word that is immediately prefixed, and especially applicable to the first clause, is in the preterperfect tense (or in the time past), God was (not God is), he was manifest in the flesh; yea the phrase of the last clause renders that as a thing also done and finished in the person spoken of. He is received up into glory. And surely, in that person, and in him only, this is absolutely true; God is in the nature of man, even in the flesh, in which he descended, received up into glory, not now receiving or to be received, but now already received up into glory, set down on the right hand of Majesty on the throne of glory in the heavens.
Consider, I pray you, how suitable to this understanding of the last and first clauses is that which is affirmed of this person (Heb. 9:24-26). Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us, nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the former high priests entered into the holy place every year with blood of others, he needeth not daily to offer up sacrifice (for this he did once, Heb. 7:27), for then also must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world, but now once in the last ages of the world he hath appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. Even as it's appointed unto men once to die, so Christ was once offered, not in many ages, or divers times, but once in the last ages, when men were multiplied into many; whereas they were but one when the ordinance of death passed on them, yet in that one it passed on the whole kind; so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many, even of all of that kind, all men, every of the nature he took, then when they and their offenses were multiplied into many, he saith not, to bear sins in many, for then indeed he must often have suffered. But now once he was offered, in his own body, even that, so and then prepared him (chap. 10:5-10) to bear the sins of many. Then was God in Christ condemning sin in the flesh, yea then and therein, when one died (not in, but) for all, and rose again, then was God in Christ reconciling the world, not imputing [p.23] their trespasses to them but causing them to meet together on him (2 Cor. 5:14-15,19 with Isa. 53:6; Rom. 8:3; 1 Pet. 2:24). And raising him, and giving him glory as the public man, that by and through him our faith and hope might be in God (1 Pet. 3:18 and 1:21) with these, and that 1 Tim. 3:16, compare that John 13:31-32). See how our Savior <356> there directs us to the person in whom the time and works in which God was so manifested and glorified in the flesh and did straightway after the finishing of these works glorify it in that person, even then, saith our Savior, when Judas was gone out to betray him, when he was presently to finish those works the Father gave him to do on earth (yea, his soul was already in trouble, John 12:27), "now," saith he, "even in that his being made an offering for sin, is the Son of Man glorified, and the Father is glorified in him. If God be glorified in him, God shall also glorify him in himself, and shall straightway glorify him."
Then and therein was the Son of Man glorified in his being appointed and set as the surety in that public place, that by the grace of God he should taste death for every man, he was therein said to be crowned with glory and honor above all other persons among men or angels, for no man could redeem his brother nor give to God a ransom for his soul; the redemption of the soul is more precious, neither was there any other thing or person in heaven or earth that was counted worthy but this Holy One. "Herein was the Son of Man glorified." And so in God's supporting him and carrying him through so great sufferings, when all our sins met together on him (Ps. 40:11-12,16-17; Heb. 5:7,9). Likewise in God's giving so glorious a testimony to him at his death (Matt. 26:50-54). And in his resurrection from the dead, "This Jesus who was made of the seed of David according to the flesh, was declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness" (Rom. 1:3-4).
In these things the Son of Man was glorified, and so the Father glorified in him, in the exercise and agreement of all his holy and glorious attributes, his wisdom, holiness, truth, mercy, goodness, power, &c., for man's salvation; God was manifested in the flesh, condemning sin, and yet therein preparing atonement and propitiation for sinners, and straightway after the finishing of these works in his own body, the Father—who glorified him in himself in his own power, name and glory (declaring himself satisfied in, and for what he delivered him), raising him from the dead, in which he was justified in the Spirit or according to the Spirit of holiness—did further, and fully, and perfectly glorify him in the same body, in receiving him up to glory and setting him on his own right hand in the heavens, far above all principality and power, might and dominion, and every [p.24] name that is named, not only in this world, but in that to come, and hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him (then distinct from him, in his personal body, now raised and glorified, yet they in that to be done in and upon them are the filling up or completing of him in the <357> ends and virtues of his cross) who (as so considered, namely in the ends and virtues of his cross) filleth all things, as Eph. 3:8,10, but he gave himself for his church, for all that through his grace to manward come in to him, that he might wash them with the washing of water by the word, that so he might in the issue present it to himself (as he now presents it in himself before the Father) a glorious church without spot or wrinkle (Eph. 5:25-27 and ch. 1:20-23; 1 Pet. 3:22; Phil. 2:6-11; John 17:1-5; Col. 2:9). Read these scriptures and compare them, and see how they explicate and agree with the explication given of that 1 Tim. 3:16. And after some little discourse to this purpose, demonstrating that scripture to speak of the manifestation of God in that one person, and not in divers, in and through whom only the Father's goodness and glory is preached, and the preaching of it in the gospel now fully made known from the Jews to the Gentiles, in and through whom truly, and only, the Father is believed on in the world (John 12:44-46; Rom. 1:16-19 and 2:4 with Acts 4:10-12 and 17:24-31).
I say after this I added that indeed it could not properly be said that in a full or absolute sense God was or is manifested in the flesh of any natural son of Adam in the time of this mortality, nor so as he was in that person, who was not naturally of us, but made so by a work of new creation, and now through sufferings for us entered into his glory; to this purpose were my words, to which also I then added, as follows, or to this purpose (contrary to what thou hast falsely charged me with) that it is true, God hath said, he will dwell and walk in his people, that through grace believe in him, according to the testimony given of his son; but that the spirit of the believer primely and chiefly is the subject of his indwelling or habitation, which is said to be "made alive for righteousness sake," while yet "the body is dead because of sin," and to serve the law of God, while yet the flesh is much enslaved by the law of sin, remaining and warring in the members, and the body of death remaining on them, even in the best of believers while here, in those in whom Christ dwells in his Spirit, and by faith (Rom. 8:10 and 7:23-25), whence the apostle saith, "he knows that in him [that is, in his flesh] dwells no good thing" (Rom. 7:18); yet the fountain of all goodness being received into the mind, spirit, or inner man by faith (as Eph. 3:16-17), that also springs up and acts [p.25] forth through the mortal body moving and strengthening it to all its service and suffering, whence also the body is said to be the temple of the Lord, it being the tabernacle of that mind, spirit, or inner man in which God primely and chiefly dwelleth and manifesteth himself in and through the testimony of Jesus, there received (2 Cor. 5:1-5,8,14-15 and chap. 4:6-7), as well as also more generally, because that also is bought with a price to be his (as in <358> that 1 Cor. 6:20); yea, the bodies of believers are so the temples of the Lord as not only bought with a price but taken possession of, owned, and accepted in his Son, with whom they are united by faith. That God will also manifest himself fully and gloriously in these bodies, when he that raised up the Lord shall also raise us up by his own power, as in that 1 Cor. 6:14: "Then shall he change our vile bodies that they may be fashioned like unto his glorious body by that mighty working by which he is able to subdue even all things to himself."
[p.25] Surely James, hadst thou any fear of God before thy eyes, thou wouldst be ashamed of thy gross ignorance, that can see no difference or distinction between the body being the temple of the Lord and so being also holy, as being redeemed, called, accepted, devoted to be his, and for him; and the Lord being fully and gloriously manifested in his holy temple. Hast thou not read? indeed I fear thou dost give very little attendance to reading the Scriptures, because I find in thy discourse and papers they are slighted as a dead letter, and most of them, as quoted by thee, have a false reading put upon them. But I say, hast thou never read? that then was the time, once in the last ages of the world, when Christ appeared in that body, then, and so prepared for him, as before, and was once offered to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself, even then was the Son of Man glorified, and God was glorified in him, and he did then straightway glorify him, carrying him through sufferings into glory, in a full and absolute sense (as in the Scriptures forementioned). But that the day of the manifestation of all the residue of the sons of God of mankind, even the day of the redemption of their bodies, when the glory of God shall be revealed in the saints fully, and so be glorified and admired in all them that now through grace believe, because the apostles' testimony was received by them in that day; that this is yet to be waited for till the end of this world, in this corruptible state of it, till the Lord himself personally come again, and in the glory of his Father and with his holy angels, and bring all those that sleep in Jesus with him, and so till they shall all be gathered together unto him to the enjoyment of it, till that day in which their enemies shall be all trodden down as mire in the streets, who shall be punished with everlasting destruction [p.26] from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power, when he shall come to be glorified in his saints, &c. "Then shall the righteous shine as the sun in the kingdom of their Father," when all the tares are plucked up and cast into the fire, which cannot be done by any of the servants in the world that now is, nor shall be done by the angels till the end of it, and while they remain among them, they, as well as this body of death upon them, do hinder the glorious manifestation of the sons of God. Surely then, even we, saith the apostle (as well <359> as our expectation of the whole creation to be then restored or renewed, we also) "that have the first fruits of the Spirit, do wait," or tarry, "for the adoption, that is the redemption of our bodies, and so for the manifestation of the sons of God." If thou hast not read this or hast forgotten, having too much I fear suffered the knowledge, faith and hope of it to slip out of thy heart: or however, I pray thee for thy own good (if it may be) read, consider and compare these scriptures (comparing them with that forecited concerning that manifestation of God in the flesh, in the person of Christ, John 13:31-32): Rom. 8:18-19,23-25, with 2 Thess. 1:5-10 and ch. 2:1-2; Matt. 13:28-30, with vv. 37-40,42-43; Ps. 37:6-7; Mal. 4:1-3; 1 Thess. 4:14-17; Tit. 2:12-13; 2 Tim. 4:8.
Again, dost thou not remember that when at first thou didst charge me with denying God to be manifest in the flesh of the saints (which were the expressions of thy charge on its first appearance, though much altered, and higher after in thy paper, and since in thy letter) that then I denied thy charge, and told the people over again what I said, suitable to what I have now and before written, as much as I could get liberty, and what I would stand to. It is true, thou toldst me then I was a liar, in disowning what thou wouldst charge on me; but thou wast a single witness to that, and when I left that to the people, thou hadst from one of them (viz., Mr. Wray) a sober and Christian answer (to this purpose as I remember), that the end of that meeting, he thought, was not to catch at and strive about words; and although to his remembrance, what I had said about God's being manifested in the flesh was to that purpose, and in like expressions, in which I had then again repeated and delivered it; yet if some could not be satisfied but that some expressions did fall from me that might in their apprehensions carry more in them than I would stand to or own, as my sense of them, yet then he thought it reasonable that I should have that Christian liberty myself to explicate my sense of them and meaning in them, that I would stand to, and no more charged on me as my saying. And this liberty likewise he desired you should have; and I think you needed it and had it when you said "the judgment after [p.27] death was past in you," and yet after explicated your meaning, "that you was past the danger of it," though the last nothing near comes up to the first.
But James, thou hast in thy jangling about this, and in such other catching at and strife about words, and in thy slanders, clearly manifested to them that will not shut their eyes that thy intention in that discourse was to endeavor any way thou couldst to subvert the people from understanding what we had propounded to be reasoned about, concerning the essence of Christ, what it is; whether something essentially in many persons, or one person distinct from all other persons; and if <360> one person granted, then whether in the works done in his own body, in his incarnation, death, resurrection and ascension, there was, and so remaineth in him in our nature, in that his own body, by virtue of those works so finished in it, the only and abiding virtue for the taking away of sin; or is the virtue for that also, chiefly, or at all, in some other work or works done in other persons. And about his second appearing and the glory then to be revealed, whether that be to be waited for by all believers, all the time of this mortality, or made in or to any in this day. I perceive it did not please thee, that "hath pleased the Father, that in all things he should have the pre-eminence, in whom only dwells the fullness of the Godhead bodily," and so communicably in its influences.
Thou hadst surely done more fairly if thou hadst let the people know that thy intention was to make a nullity, or a type, shadow or figure of that person Jesus of Nazareth, and of those works done and finished in his own body, in which himself bore our sins to the tree and was raised and glorified; or at least, to make thyself and others his equals, in all those manifestations of God in him, as Korah, Dathan and Abiram would have dealt with Moses and Aaron, in those things in which they were eminent types of him, and did they not endeavor it with thy pretense? "All the congregation is holy, and the Lord is among them" (Num. 16:3), and as those foretold of Jude 11.
2. To thy second slander, That I denied Christ's being in them, mentioned Col. 1:27 and 2 Cor. 13:5 to be God's being in them.
Surely, James, either the spirit by which thou art immediately guided is very forgetful, or else thou art very confident of my forgetfulness, and presuming on that, art not afraid to alter thy own charges as oft as thy thoughts alter, about the advantageousness of the manner of laying them? I remember thou didst charge me before with something of this nature, but then in these expressions, "That I denied Christ to be God, and the [p.28] life of Christ being manifested in the flesh to be God's being manifested in the flesh. And this thou saidst I did in giving this answer to that scripture, 2 Cor.:10-11, "That the life of Jesus might be manifest in our mortal flesh" (viz.) "that that was not God"; this was thy charge, and now it is thus much altered, "That in answer to those two other scriptures, Col. 1:27, 2 Cor. 13:5, I said, that was not God in us."
To thy charge in both forms I shall answer so far as to discover thy falsity.
First, to the first, my answer to that 2 Cor. 4:10-11 was this (though I well remember I was cut off by thee in the midst of it, and thou wouldst not let the people hear it) that that scripture saith not "that God was manifested in their mortal flesh," but that he might be. In which answer is fully granted, that in the life of Jesus being manifested <361> in their mortal flesh, God is, or may be said therein to be truly manifested. But that which is denied in that answer is that that scripture speaks of that as a thing now done in them. That which was now done and manifest in their body was death, unto which they were daily and always delivered, that the other might be, "That the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body," in our mortal flesh; he doth not say it now was in the time of this mortality, but that it might be so in this flesh that now was mortal. "For if in it we suffer with him," even in the same body, "we shall also reign with him" and be glorified together. And when thou didst charge me with this, next day, I began to give thee this answer forementioned; it is true, thou wouldst not suffer me to speak out my answer, nor the people to hear what was spoken either day. But I almost think thou didst perceive what my answer was and would have been, and that it would have been too many for thee to overthrow, and therefore was angry with it in its first appearance and would not let the people understand what it was, but presently stopped my mouth, and their ears, with reproaches and slanders.
I had in my thoughts this twofold answer to have given to your abuse of that scripture, if I could have obtained but human civility from you:
1. That already mentioned, viz., that the text saith not "that the life of Jesus was manifested in their mortal flesh, now while mortal," but that they was delivered to death now always, that that might be, and when and wherein they expected that should be fully accomplished is clear in that which follows (vv. 13-14): "We also believe and therefore speak, knowing," saith he, "that he which raised up the Lord Jesus [p.29] shall also raise us up by Jesus and shall present us with you" (that shall not one prevent another in that).
And that phrase, "that the life of Jesus might be manifested in our mortal flesh," doth no more signify that the life of Jesus shall be fully manifested in it, in the sense spoken of, while yet it is mortal, than that equivalent scripture, Rom. 8:11, doth signify that the body shall be mortal when raised, or that the resurrection shall be made in any in the time of this mortality, where he saith, "He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal body by that Spirit that now dwelt in them." But that he speaks there of such a quickening or raising from the dead, as in which their mortal bodies shall be made immortal, is plain, in that he compares it with the raising Christ from the dead, having also affirmed before that now "the body is dead because of sin," while yet "the spirit is made alive for righteousness sake." And to that death that is now or still upon the body, even after we have the first fruits of the Spirit, he opposeth that quickening of the <362> mortal body spoken of, all which plainly shows that he speaks there of the blessed and first resurrection, which more properly than the other is called a quickening, because it is a resurrection to life, of which they in their bodies, that sleep in Jesus, shall all be made partakers together at his second appearing; speaking of that he saith, "He shall quicken your mortal bodies, yet this mortal shall [then and therein] put on immortality."
2. This further answer: that if it should be granted you, that the life of Jesus might be in some sense truly said to be manifested in the mortal flesh, now while mortal, yet it makes nothing against what was said about God's being manifest in the flesh; for this we had then at first laid down, that the Spirit of life in Jesus being received into and dwelling in the mind or spirit of the believer, in that word or testimony of Christ received and abiding there, doth also show forth itself, and act in and through the mortal body, moving and strengthening it to such service, and suffering as the renewing of the mind leads to. Yet all this saith not that properly and in a full and absolute sense, God is manifested or glorified in the flesh of his saints in the time of this mortality; much less that he is so manifested either in such manner, or in, or to the accomplishing of such works as he was manifested in the flesh in that one person, that now in man's nature is received up into glory, which were the things denied.
Secondly, to your charge, in its last form, with reference to those two scriptures, Col. 1:27, 2 Cor. 13:5: truly, I do not remember that those two scriptures were at all mentioned in any discourse, by way of [p.30] conference that was between us, at least not so mentioned as you might have any answer to what you would have made them say. I remember, indeed, Rich. Farnworth in continued speech abused them; but there was nothing said to him until he had finished his large witness concerning himself, after which, the time being short, there was but little said by me, though more than could all bear without storming that we did not rather fall down and worship him, and admire his words, as some of your company did, as the words of the eternal God and not of a man (more highly blasphemous than that Acts 12:22), but that which was said was not with reference to his abuse of those scriptures but to his abuse of those two other scriptures, Rom. 7:23 and 8:10, which occasionally falling upon, we shall briefly mention.
He witnessed that he was delivered from the law of sin in his members, that it was not remaining or warring there, and from that body of death there mentioned, with allusion to those expressions, as signifying that Paul witnessed the like concerning himself, whereas Paul complains of both as yet accumbering him, speaking in the present time, not in the <363> time past, "I find then a law in my members warring...Oh wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death!" He was not yet delivered, but wretched by reason of it remaining, though yet he could thank God through Jesus in whom he had perfect deliverance, which he enjoyed by faith, and therein also freedom from under the condemnation of that holy law of God, which discovers sin and sentenceth the sinner to death, and daily victory in the combat over the dominion of sin and fear or horror of death, yet still it remained and warred in him, and so in all believers, while here, as to that purpose was then told the people.
Again, he witnessed largely of his body being wholly mortified and dead to sin, as the fruit of Christ being in him, and therein, and so God manifested in his flesh. And this he said also with allusion to those expressions (Rom. 8:10), "If Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin," &c., which expressions he changed thus, "The body is dead unto sin." To that also I told the people that the bodies being dead unto sin, as it was not therein the expressions, so neither could it there be meant, because he saith, the body is dead because of sin; now it's being crucified, or dead unto sin, is no part of the fruit of sin, nor happens it to any because of sin, but because of, and as the fruit and virtue of Christ's righteousness, where in any sense or measure it's truly found. But that here spoken of is something of misery still remaining on the believer because of, or as the fruit of sin, though Christ be in them, and so the spirit alive for righteousness sake, yet the body is dead because of sin; yea, it is yet in itself a wretched vile body, as Rom. [p.31] 7:23, Phil. 3:21, though redeemed and taken to be the Lord's, yet not in itself while here wholly subdued to him, nor conformed or made like to his glorious body until the resurrection, and then it shall certainly so be: we wait for the adoption, that is the redemption of the body.
You did indeed discover yourselves in these and the like passages to be of no judgment concerning the faith, and of the same spirit with those (2 Tim. 2:18) that say the resurrection is already made or past in them, and so overthrow the faith of some that did not cleave so close to the foundation of God, in giving earnest heed to the things they had heard in the doctrine of the death and resurrection of Christ, which foundation yet standeth sure against all your batteries, having this seal for its confirmation, "The Lord knoweth them that are his," he owneth, approveth, standeth by, to the saving, preserving, and strengthening in all service and suffering, all them that having received the Spirit in that hearing of faith do keep that in believing remembrance and abide in it as the fundamental doctrine, they therein abide in union and fellowship with and protection of the Son, and so of the Father in him (2 Tim. 2:19; 1 John <364> 2:24-27; 2 John 7-9; John 10:27-29 and 14:21,23 and 15:1-5,7, &c.), though such as were never firmed in that foundation, especially being kept from firmness therein through retaining divers lusts, and such as after knowledge of the truth received do willfully slight, reject and turn away from that preaching of the cross as foolishness, having itching ears, to listen or inquire after anything that may be plausible and also suitable to some lust of their own, yet secretly retained and pursued, though such, I say, may be and are turned aside to fables and led captive by such spirits, therefore let everyone that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity (2 Tim. 2:19-22; 3:6-7; 4:1-4; John 15:6).
But to return to our present business, in that which was said to the discovery of his abuse of these scriptures, and against his witness concerning himself, yet there was no mention of his abuse of those two scriptures forementioned, nor at any other time in our discourse with you, that I know of, but being in this false accusation thus propounded, as those in which so great strength lies for you, that you have thought fit for them to waive that in 2 Cor. 4:10-11 as more inconsiderable to your purpose, we shall a little consider what they say.
That Col. 1:27 saith that Christ is in or amongst the believers, "the hope of glory." And indeed he is so amongst them all, and in, or unto all of them, "for they are all called in one hope of their calling," both in respect of the ground and foundation of their hope, and in respect of the end of it, the things hoped for. And truly Jesus Christ, and so the Father in him, is [p.32] the original summary, and fundamental matter of it in both respects; but it is that same Jesus Christ, and not another, which they had preached in the gospel to every man (see v. 28), and indeed there is but one Lord, and not another Jesus; not one in the heavens sitting on the right hand of God and another dwelling in us, but that same Jesus that is in our nature in that body (then and so prepared for him as before) set down on the right hand of Majesty in the heavens, even he, that person, that is personally absent from the believer, is dwelling in the believer's heart, by faith of and in him, and so the Father, in and through Christ (2 Cor. 5:6-7; Eph. 3:17-19; 1 Pet. 1:8; John 12:45). Yea, it is that same Jesus, after that consideration of him also, as in that his own personal body. "He was delivered to death for our offenses and raised again for our justification." And so in the virtues thereof is become a perfect Savior, propitiation, high priest, etc. "And so able to save to the utmost all that come to God by him," even as he is preached in the gospel to every man. That is, even so in the believer's heart by faith, for he is yesterday, and today, and forever the same. And after the same consideration of him, he is (being received by faith, which is the evidence of things not seen) in and to the believer, <365> the only bottom ground and foundation of all his faith and hope in God, both in respect of the promise of this life and that to come, yea the thing hoped for, he in, through, and with whom all things are expected, as he is now given virtually and spiritually in the testimony of him, so all things pertaining to life and godliness are given in and with him in a like manner, and to be enjoyed by faith in him, and in the first fruits of the Spirit. And when he shall appear again personally in the glory of his Father, and with his holy angels, then all things forementioned to be given with him in such manner as to be enjoyed by way of actual possession in fullness and glory, and in such enjoyment of his personal presence forever, even the fullness of all spiritual blessings (which now we are blessed with in Christ our treasury), and the total and eternal redemption of the body; of this glory Christ is in and to our hearts the hope, not the possession, nor do we possess the glory, for then hope should cease, but if we hope for that we see not (which indeed we do when Christ our forerunner is our hope, as aforesaid) then do we with patience wait for it. Surely this scripture is far from telling us that the glory, glorious rest, kingdom, and enjoyment of promises, which the fathers died in the faith and hope of, not having received them, was now revealed in and upon them, it signifies fully the contrary, in saying Christ was in and to them the hope of it.
Like to this is that 2 Cor. 13:5. A rule given to prove themselves by, whether they be in the faith, in that one faith of God's operation, and in [p.33] which they should be accepted and approved. The rule is: "Jesus Christ is in you, or else you are unapproved," yea stand as disallowed, disowned in the apostles' doctrine, and so in heaven, as being not in the faith. The thing here to be considered is, how Christ is in them? If they be indeed in the faith, surely that is easily understood, if we consider this rule of trial as it hath relation to the thing to be tried or proved, which is, whether we be in the faith, not whether we be in the actual possession. Sure then, or for that there will be no need of such trying and proving, not to "say one to another, know the Lord," when "they shall all know him, from the least to the greatest," "even as they are known," which they shall do in that day when that covenant which is now given them in and with Christ, and as he is given, shall be fully performed.
But now while they need to try and prove themselves whether they be in the faith, which is the evidence of things not seen, and the confidence of things hoped for, that is thus to be proved. If Jesus Christ (and there is but one Christ, and after the same consideration as before, if he) be in them, that can be no otherwise than as before, as in his testimony declared the ground and foundation of their faith and hope, <366> the matter believed and object believed in, then their faith is of God, and centering in God, even the Father, for he that seeth him, seeth him that sent him; and he that believeth on him believeth on him that sent him, he "is come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth in him should not abide in darkness (John 12:44-46).
3. Thy third slander is that I said Paul was in heaven, when he saw the person of Christ there with bodily eyes. Truly this also is wholly without any color of ground for anything I said or writ. That Paul had an immediate demonstration of the person of Christ, even of the glorified body in the heavens, and did hear the word of his mouth, even receive the gospel immediately from that person, was that I said (though indeed not on such occasion as thou mentionest in thy letter, but) in answer to thy witness, that thou hadst seen Christ as Paul had. And also by way of demonstration that Timothy, and so all secondary ministers in the gospel since, had not their demonstration of the person of the Lord nor their furniture in the gospel in the same manner that those first and great apostles had, who were also the apostles last in that respect, of which Paul was one, though born out of due time, and the last so immediately called and furnished. On this occasion I say was that assertion forementioned; and that also that appearance or immediate demonstration of the person of Christ, was such as his bodily eyes were strengthened some little time to behold, or see, that also (at least) I supposed, and gave [p.34] my reasons for. But that I positively affirmed so much, I remember not.
I suppose you will find in my answer to your charges that on the mention of that charge I neither own nor disown it as charged on me, but being then in haste only desired you again to consider what was propounded as to that. This I mention not as doubting whether he did or no, though to dispute such a thing with men that have no faith in that person I think is vain, because such men are also unreasonable or absurd (2 Thess. 3:2). They will not regard, understand, or be swayed by the plain import and force of the words of the Holy Ghost, they would as lightly cast off the words themselves and reject all use of them or allusion to them, if they did not fear its being disadvantageous to their design among a people where the Scriptures are generally esteemed. But to that which I said about this (whether laid down by way of position or supposition it matters not), this was plain enough to be understood in both my saying and writing: that he was on earth when he enjoyed that immediate demonstration & was so strengthened to behold that person, that glorified body in the heavens, that Just or Holy One (Acts 22:14 with chap. 2:27-31), and to hear the words of his mouth; I say that he was on earth then, is plain in what I said about it, for I brought that Acts 9:3,7-8, as implying that he was strengthened to behold that glorified body in the heavens, <367> even in that light shining round about him, above the brightness of the sun, which sight occasioned his falling to the earth. And it is clear that then he appeared to him in the way (v. 17). And that he had then (and probably after) such a sight of the Just One as was, as to the manner of his seeing, equivalent with the manner of hearing vouchsafed him of the words of his mouth (see Acts 22:14), which whether it was not with bodily ears also let the text be considered (Acts 9:7), which saith, "The men that were with him heard a voice also"; they heard a sound of a voice, though the voice, or the distinct words of that sound they understandably heard not (Acts 22:9) (that discovers what manner of hearing was vouchsafed), "but," saith the text, "seeing no man," as it (even thereby) appears Paul did (even that man Christ Jesus, from whom the voice came) before his falling at least. And that which makes it more clear is that he saith (1 Cor. 15:8), "Last of all he was seen of me, as of one born out of due time." And it is evident, he was not the last to whom he was spiritually demonstrated, not born out of due time for that, yea, to prove himself an apostle, as well as the rest (1 Cor. 9:1), even one of those immediate messengers and ambassadors of the Lord, for obedience to the faith among all nations for his name (as Rom. 1:5), though last of all called and furnished, he saith, "Have I not seen the Lord?" which must [p.35] needs be in another manner of demonstration than only spiritual; for so all believers have seen him (as Gal. 3:1-2) in or through the hearing of faith, yet all are not apostles (1 Cor. 12:29); yea, his sight was in such manner of demonstration as other believers since have not seen, as in my first answer, and might be more fully showed, but I forbear, only this I have mentioned, partly to discover the falseness of thy charge in this letter. And that it may appear, as in all said it doth, that I do and did, in all said about it, apprehend, and fully signify my apprehensions to be such, that Paul was on earth when he had that demonstration of the person of Christ in the heavens. And are you so sensual that you cannot believe that God may manifest his Son, even in his person visibly to men on earth, while yet the same person so demonstrated remains in heaven? Is not he able to give supernatural demonstration of objects and strength to behold them too? And what more is this we have said of Paul, as to his sight of the person, than that was vouchsafed to Stephen, the first martyr we read of after Christ's ascension? with what eyes did he "look up steadfastly unto heaven"? And was it not with the same that "he saw the glory of God, and Jesus, even the Son of Man, standing on the right hand of God"? See Acts 7:55-56.
But why art thou not ashamed to mention my words by piecemeal, leaving out such a material clause, and yet calling it my saying? As when thou chargest me with saying "that Paul saw Christ after the same <368> manner that the other apostles did," I did indeed in the paper query whether that "last of all of me" &c. (1 Cor. 15:8), as added to the former verses, do not signify that he appeared or was demonstrated to him in the same manner that he had been to the other after his resurrection, and before this. But thou well knowest it's backed with this caution, which is so placed that it cannot go for my saying without it. But thou leavest it out, knowing it would spoil thy intention and clear me of thy slander, as likewise all forewritten about it in that paper will do. The caution is this: "I stretch not my words, 'in the same manner,' further than to a personal appearance or visible demonstration of his person," which surely he might enjoy as well as Stephen though he on earth and the Lord in heaven.
But thou wilt not believe anything (thou sayest) that thou knowest to be a lie, however fully implied (though in Scripture, for there was no other implications mentioned). I suppose thou wilt not say, whatever thou think, that the Scriptures do by any fair and clear implication signify a lie. But to waive that, How does thou know that this is a lie: that Paul enjoyed such a visible demonstration of the person of Christ, as before? for thou speakest to that as well as to the other branch, which [p.36] I have disowned; and of them both together, signifies, thou knowest it is a lie. I say how dost thou know it, or how shall we know it, when thou bringest nothing at all to prove or demonstrate it to be such? Is this all the answer we must look for when thou affirmest anything, or deniest anything: "I know," "I witness it to be true," or "I know it to be a lie"? Indeed these were the strongest arguments and demonstrations we had from thee in our meeting, to anything that I know of, and with these and suchlike, in the mouths of divers of you together, you could be as confident, wise and strong in your own conceit as seven men, that could render a reason and stop the mouths of others too with these, when you had none of the faithful word to do it withal. "I know it is a lie," and I pray how dost thou know? Dost thou think we will all fall down and worship James Nayler, in receiving what he urges upon us only in his own name? " I know," "I witness," &c. It may be such may do it as will not receive or have rejected the testimony of the other J.N., Jesus of Nazareth, that came in his Father's name (John 5:43). But give us leave to question how thou knowest, and because thou dost not tell us I will guess in this (thy conscience knows whether I guess right or no); I fear thou dost not at all in thy heart believe or acknowledge that one person of Christ, as personally absent from thee, while in this clay tabernacle (that that which we read of that person, and the work done in him, is slighted, as figures of some other truth to be found in us, is evident enough to me, as I shall further make appear <369> anon; but that which I here look upon as the ground of this thy confident knowledge is something more, namely), that thou hast in thy heart wholly rejected the faith and acknowledgment of that one person of the Son of God, in our nature, in one individual personal body, even the same that was crucified, slain, and hung upon a tree; that Jesus of Nazareth to be now received up into glory by the Father, in the heavens, and there remaining in the most glorious presence of God; even in the heavens, as opposed to the earth, where the former high priests served, and where while he is, he is personally absent from us, while we are in these bodies on earth. I suppose thou mayest think there might be such a one as Jesus of Nazareth, and that he died, as is written of him, and happilyd that he rose again; but if thy thoughts go so far, I doubt they leave him there, even that Jesus of the seed of David after the flesh, as one, that in all done before in him was but a type of some first appearance, to be accomplished in us, and now as a type or figure, vanishing and ceasing from thence so to be. So that what we read of his ascension into heaven and remaining in the heavens until the restitution of all things, and of his second personal appearance, is to be understood [p.37] of some other internal mystery to be accomplished now in us, not so plainly expressed in the words, which must therefore be slighted as a dead letter. I fear I have almost touched upon thy thoughts (though we will not boast as thou dost of comprehending and discerning us perfectly, in root, end, and offspring; while yet God knows, and all that know us know, thou dost not discover us at all, nor speak as one at all acquainted with whence we come or whither we go; but as he, John 3), now if thou be so far given over to strong delusion to believe such a lie, that there is no such personal body in our nature in the heavens (as before) thou must needs from thence be confident Paul did not see him; for he could not see that which is not.
But to remove such false ground of such a confidence, there is sufficient demonstration and power in his words, as left on record, and will be yet to thee in the consideration of them, if thou hast not wholly crucified the Son of God to thyself and so thyself to the light and power of his words.
See, I pray thee (Luke 24:39-40, with verse 51), how our Savior in the last discovery of himself to his disciples after his resurrection and before his ascension, demonstrates himself to have a real body, and not only the shape or appearance of one (which a spirit without a body may assume) by his having real flesh and bones to be felt; and that body to be he himself, the same that was pierced and nailed to the cross, so <370> demonstrated by his hands and his feet, a little before to Thomas, by his side and hands (John 20:27), and at that time of his having so demonstrated himself unto them, "he led them out as far as to Bethany; and he lifted up his hands and blessed them, and it came to pass while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven"; compare it with Acts 1:9-11. Where having in the verses before repeated the narration of his showing himself alive to them after his passion by many infallible proofs, and then of his commissionating and blessing them, he saith, "And when he had spoken these words, while they beheld" (that may assure us, their senses were not deluded, but it was even the same person, in the same personal body as before demonstrated by his hands and feet, his flesh and bones, which their eyes had seen and their hands had handled, even that word of life in that flesh which he was made, now spiritualized or made in the resurrection a spiritual body, yet the same so made), "Even while they beheld, he was taken up, and a cloud received him out of their sight, and while they looked steadfastly towards heaven as he went up, behold, a spirit stood by them in white apparel; which also said, ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? [p.38] This same Jesus which is taken up from you into heaven shall so come in like manner, as ye have seen him go into heaven." Note the wisdom and care of the Holy Ghost here, lest being taken out of their sight, they or any after should doubt whether that body, as then demonstrated, vanished, or what became of it; he adds here that he was taken up from them into heaven, even the same Jesus which they had seen, and in this his ascension in their sight in which he was taken up from them (vv. 9-11, with Luke 24:51): "He was carried up into heaven," yea, saith Mark, "He was then received up into heaven and sat on the right hand of God" (Mark 16:19), even there in the heavens he is set on the right hand of the throne of majesty, there officiating as a minister of the true sanctuary, &c. (Heb. 8:1-2). Christ after the same consideration of him is ascended into the heavens, after the like unto which consideration David is not ascended, but dead and buried. And after what consideration is that otherwise than in that body in the human nature, which is now received up into glory even therein? and so God hath actually, fully and gloriously "made that same Jesus whom they crucified both Lord and Christ" (see Acts 2:22-36 and 5:30-31). And the heavens must receive him till the restitution of all things (Acts 3:21). "In the heavens being opened, Stephen saw the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God" (signifying his readiness and power to help and stand by his suffering saints) "even the same that descended into the lower parts of the earth, is ascended up far above all heavens" (within the reach of our sight or comprehension of our mind, <371> as here below, without some supernatural demonstration and strengthening to behold, when 'tis affirmed "Stephen saw the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing," &c.) (Eph. 4:8-10; Heb. 4:14).
If any shall here think to amuse us with such questions, as, are we sure what is meant or signified by the word Heaven, when used in this case, that is, what is meant by that heaven, or those heavens, into which our Forerunner in our nature is entered and in which he is received until the restitution of all things, whether is meant thereby a place on high, in which that one personal body resideth, or some state of glory, dignity, or spirituality into which Christ might pass or ascend?
For answer to this we say first, let it be remembered that it is distinctly proved that it is Christ after the same consideration of him in which he was laid in the sepulchre, I mean in that body in our nature which they slew, the same, though not in the same quality, but raised a spiritual and glorious body, that is ascended, and not as this foolish question would in the issue of it lead us to conceive Christ passing out of flesh into spirit, or out of that body into an imagination (as we may truly call it) in the [p.39] bodies and souls of others. This being remembered which also will again appear in our answer, we answer thus: that by heaven may sometime be meant some state or condition of happiness or glory, as well as a place, we shall not oppose; but the question here being only what is meant or signified by heaven, or the heavens, when Jesus Christ his ascending into them and being there received is spoken of? to that we answer, Most frequently when so spoken of it signifies directly, and only speaks expressly of the place into which he is gone in that body, and where he is received until the restitution of all things, and not of the state of dignity or glory which he there possesseth; that is usually signified by another phrase joined with his ascension into heaven, namely his sitting down on the right hand of God, on the right hand of power, and of the throne of Majesty in the heavens; observe, that word "in the heavens" signifies the place in which he is so dignified. The word when so used always especially means it, and frequently speaks only expressly of the place, &c. And what that is, we thus far farther answer, in which farther answer we shall more fully demonstrate the truth of what is said.
1. The heavens (or that place of glory or heavenly places on high) where the most glorious being, dwelling, and presence of the essence and majesty of God is, who though in respect of his inspections, influences and operations, he be everywhere, and in his gracious spiritual presence and manifested nighness, in and through his Son, dwelling in Zion, even in the hearts and societies of his people, yet in respect of the most glorious presence and dwelling of the essence of his Majesty, "he <372> dwelleth in the light into which no man" (no mere man as from Adam) "can approach, whom no man hath seen at any time, nor can see" (1 Tim. 6:16; John 1:18). "The Lord's throne is in heaven" (Ps. 11:4). In heaven as opposed to the earth where we are; so heaven is expressly said to be the place of his habitation from whence he looketh upon all the inhabitants of the earth (Ps. 33:13-14). "God is in heaven, and thou on the earth" (saith the preacher, Eccl. 5:2), "therefore let thy words be few" in prayers, or speaking to God, as considering his greatness and majesty so infinitely above thee, and his perfect discerning of thy thought afar off, which is therein signified, for from heaven where is the throne of his majesty he perfectly beholdeth all the sons of men. "His eyes behold, his eyelids try the children of men"; yea, the greatness of his glory is signified in its being so far above us and unapproachable by us: "O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth? Thou hast set thy glory above the heavens!" Whence also our Savior directs us that in all prayers this be commemorated in our acknowledgment of the Father, "That he is in heaven"; likewise examples and [p.40] instructions are frequent in Scripture to the use of that gesture of lifting up the eyes to heaven in our prayers, praises, etc. With the Father in the heavens, even in that light into which no mere man can approach, is that Son of Man that is the only begotten Son of God, appearing in his most glorious presence in the heavens themselves (1 John 2:1; Heb. 9:24), set on the throne of his majesty in the heavens, not on the earth (Heb. 8:1,4 with chap. 7:26).
2. The heavens as opposed to the earth, to that earth where the disciples were and where while they remained he was parted from them, in his being carried up into heaven, and where while they did, or we do remain, we are personally absent from that person and have not him personally with us (as he is in heaven) in the time of this our mortality. See the Scriptures forecited with that 2 Cor. 5 and Matt. 26:11; Mark 14:7; John 12:8. The highest heavens as opposed to the lower parts of the earth, where he was buried (Eph. 4:8-10). The heavens are opposed to the earth, where the former high priests served (Heb. 8:4).
3. The heavens from which at his second appearing he shall descend or come down: "We look for the Savior from heaven (Phil. 3:10); "Wait for his Son from heaven (1 Thess. 1:10); "The Lord himself shall descend from heaven (1 Thess. 4:16), where by heaven cannot be meant his state of dignity and glory, but his place only, in which he is now received for us, and possesseth that glory: for in respect of his state of dignity and glory, as he is personally glorified in and with it, he shall never descend or come lower, but keep his station even then, when he shall be seen coming in the clouds of heaven, yet still sitting <373> on the right hand of God (Mark 14:62).
If after all this it be replied, "Can flesh and blood enter into the kingdom of heaven?"
We answer No; "Neither can corruption inherit incorruption" (1 Cor. 15:50), which latter clause in that verse, as well as what follows, "We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed," shows that by flesh and blood is meant the body in this its mortal state, which same body shall be raised, though in another state, as it was in the person of Jesus; and so though flesh and blood cannot, yet the same flesh and bones (the blood as the life was in it, being poured out and gone) the same body in the resurrection spiritualized and immortalized, is entered and set on the throne, and so shall all his in their bodies, in which now they suffer, when so changed "inherit the kingdom prepared for them with him forever."
If any say, What weight is there in this acknowledgment, that it should [p.41] be so earnestly contended for? or that so much danger should be conceived in the slighting of it; what relation hath it to the ground or foundation of our faith or hope?
I answer, it is that in which all the ground and foundation of our faith and hope was finished or perfected, and without which all done before had been nothing; for even as if Jesus, in the same nature and body in which he suffered, had not been raised from the dead, and therein taken from the prison, as a discharge of our debt in him, we had been yet in our sins, whatever he had suffered, and faith in him had been vain (1 Cor. 15:17). The same may be and is affirmed concerning the necessity of his ascension and presenting and offering that sacrifice to the Father, in that most glorious presence of him, from which we stood condemned, and being there received and accepted, "And abiding forever a high priest of good things to come, after the order of Melchizedek"; for if he were on earth he could not be a priest after this order, to abide forever (Heb. 8:1,4). "For such a high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, made higher than the heavens, who needeth not daily to offer, as those priests," &c. (Heb. 7:25-27). If he could have carried his sacrifice no higher than the former priests, even into heaven itself, and there presented it in the most glorious presence of God, and if it had not been for the worth, value, and excellency of it accepted there, and so he with it, or he himself accepted and set down as the perfect sacrifice and sacrificer, he must then have offered again, and could never with such offerings have made the comers perfect; therefore the infinite perfection of his sacrifice and righteousness in the discovery of which all other righteousness is decried, is by the Spirit demonstrated in this: that he is gone to the <374> Father, and we see him no more sent down to suffer or offer for sin (John 16:10; Heb. 10:1-12). Yea, if he had not ascended on high he could not have been so glorified in our nature as was the end of his suffering, and as was needful for us; he could not have received in the man, and so for men, that eternal redemption which he had obtained through sufferings, and so that plenteous furniture of gifts for men, even for the rebellious, that the Lord might dwell among them, and that to that purpose he might fill all things with the influences and virtues of his sufferings & give the peculiar gifts to the church (Heb. 9:12,14-15; Ps. 68:18-20; Eph. 4:8,10-11). He could not have been glorified with the Father's own self fully and perfectly in our nature, and for us, even with the glory he had with the Father before the world was, if he had not ascended and gone up into heaven and remained there in that body glorified by virtue of sufferings for sin, presenting therein the infinite virtue of those sufferings; for otherwise the [p.42] glory of God could never have been brought down amongst or unto men, nor men received into it; so that he could not have been a high priest forever and of good things to come if he were on the earth; but now he is entered into the heavens themselves, there to appear in the presence of God for us, there to sprinkle the mercy-seat with the continual presentation of the infinite and abiding virtue of his blood, in that body in our nature and person (by virtue thereof and to all the ends for which he suffered) raised and glorified in the presence of God, where we need the perfect sacrifice and high priest to abide forever; and he is both in that one body, and in such exaltation perfected and finished, in the name and anointing of the Father, a prince and a Savior (Acts 5:30-31). That from thence the goodness of God may come forth in all things, and to all men, and his presence with his people. "And therefore also he is able to save to the utmost all that come to God by him," seeing he ever liveth with the Father for them; "God hath given him glory, that our faith and hope might be in God by and through him" (1 Pet. 1:21). And truly, we could have no ground of hope of the resurrection and glorifying our bodies, that they may dwell forever with the Lord, even in that light into which no man can now approach, if our surety and Forerunner were not for us already entered (which thing also was virtually done from the foundation of the world, as soon as we had need of him there), if our nature in him were not received up into glory, even now before the glory of God be, or can be fully and gloriously brought down to us, as it shall be when there shall be new heavens and new earth; we could not be received into his glory with him: it was needful for him to go away, to ascend to his Father and ours, in and through him, that so with him he might prepare everlasting mansions for us and <375> from thence come again and receive us to himself, that we might be with him forever, as well as it was also needful for him so personally to go away into heaven, and there to appear in the presence of God for us as the perfect sacrifice and mediator, that thence in the name of the Father influences of grace and Spirit might here be sent forth to us, to guide our feet in the way of peace and prepare us for the glory to be revealed (John 14:1-3 and 16:7 with chap. 20:17), whence it's mentioned, as the bottom and ground of the believer's consolation and encouragement, "We have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, and he is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the whole world." This is a material branch in that bottom of our consolation, and that in which all of it is made up and completed: that he is with the Father; this our propitiation and advocate as so considered is with the Father where we need him daily (1 John 2:1-2).
[p.43] Doubtless where this acknowledgment of that person, as raised from the dead, now set on God's right hand in the heavens, and so, and there, in that body in our nature, made the head of all principality and power, and the head of his body the church (Eph. 1:18-20), I say, where this true acknowledgment of the Head, in whom only dwells the fullness of the Godhead bodily (Col. 2:9-10), is not holden but slighted or rejected, there is equally in that heart a slighting or rejecting the hope of the reward to come in the resurrection of the just of entering with him into his glory. That which only may beget and preserve such hope being let go, the faith and hope itself must needs be destroyed (Col. 2:18-19). And where this faith and hope is made shipwreck of, there is usually something made up in the imagination in the stead thereof (as now accomplished in them) to beguile themselves and others with, as also is signified in that Col. 2:18. And in those that denied the resurrection and did overthrow the faith and hope of such as would listen to them, yet they pretended not to deny it but did witness it past, or already made in them in this life (compare 2 Tim. 2:11-18 with 1 Cor. 15:12, &c.). And so those that slighted and scoffed at the promise of his coming, yet they pretended to witness it, saying lo here, or lo there, in this or that imagination or operation, he was already come the second time, accomplishing the promises we through the Spirit wait for, in or unto them (compare 2 Pet. 3 with Matt. 24:23-27 and Luke 17:22-24), which imaginations are more pleasing to the sensual and fleshly mind because they lead to make their boast of themselves, and not of the person of Christ and works done therein, and to rejoice in the imagination of what they have, rather than in the hope of what is to come. And surely, if we may know the tree by its fruits as our Savior instructeth us, I have good ground to be strengthened in my fore<376> mentioned apprehensions concerning you, as being of no judgment concerning the faith of, and in the person of Christ, as through sufferings glorified in our nature in the heavens; because I find this fruit of it evidently appearing in both your discourse and writing; I shall discover it in some of its branches, the mention of which may fitly be added here, reserving that about Christ's second appearing witnessed as accomplished in thee, to be spoken to by itself in fit place.
In thy discourse thou didst witness that death mentioned (Heb. 9:27) "in which it's appointed to men once to die," to be past in thee, and so consequently, the resurrection made in thee; what makes this of all the reward and end of his sufferings and sacrifice set before us in the gospel, but what we might be capable of possessing in this time and state of mortality? Yea, thou affirmest in thy letter that you are entered (meaning, [p.44] as appears in the former expressions, into the glorious rest and kingdom), whereas the apostle when he tells us "they had boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus," and did in that boldness, through and by him, draw near and come to God (Heb. 10:19-25 and 7:25), yea, by faith and hope did enter or were entering into that within the veil (Heb. 6:19), yea (Heb. 4:3) he saith, "We which have believed do enter into rest"; yet in all this he saith not, "They had entered," but signifies they were yet entering in believing, running the race set before them, the crown not given unto them in the time of this mortality (2 Tim. 4:8), only by faith and hope they pierced through to it, which strengthened them to run; yea, saith he not expressly (Heb. 4:9-10) "that there remaineth yet a rest for all the people of God," even for those that sleep, and for the survivors? none of them yet fully entered into that everlasting Sabbath but the forerunner, which he proved thus: "For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works as God did from his"; which none hath yet so done but the forerunner (whatever they may boast of, that truly cease from nothing of their own but exalt themselves in their works of vanity and error) (see Heb. 6:19-20). Observe the distinction there carefully observed between our entering and the forerunner having entered; we have, saith he, in the word, promise and oath of God (as given and confirmed in Christ) "hope as an anchor of the soul, sure and steadfast, which entereth into that within the veil, whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus made an high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek"; we in believing do enter, and so are entering by faith and hope, he only for us is already actually and fully entered into the possession of glory.
Against thee therefore do I bear witness, as one of the world, that hast thy portion in this life ("in which if we only had our hope in Christ, we were of all men most miserable"), "as for us, we will behold his face <377> in righteousness" (in his Son, and in the promise of life and glory given us in him) being supported thereby in this confidence, "when we awake" (in the morning of the resurrection) "we shall be satisfied with his likeness" (Ps. 17:14-15; 1 Cor. 25:18-19, &c.; 1 John 3:1-3). "Not as though we had already attained, either were already perfect, but we follow after, if that we may apprehend that for which we are apprehended of Christ Jesus, if by any means we may attain to the resurrection of the dead" (the first resurrection). "We desire not to count ourselves to have apprehended, but to go on, forgetting the things behind" (things already lost and parted with, cast behind "our back as dung for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord") "and reaching forth to those things set [p.45] before our face in the gospel, pressing towards the mark for the price of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus; running with patience the race that is set before us, laying aside the weights, &c., so as looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith," who through sufferings is already entered into glory for us, while others who are the enemies to the cross of Christ, under a pretense of zealous walking and holy conversation, aim at this as the end of their conversation or walking, the destruction of our faith and hope in Christ, and to that purpose "magnify their belly" (some internal operation, happily backed also with signs and wonders, "and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish," 2 Thess. 2:9-10), "glorying in their shame, minding sensual and earthly things" (under pretense of spirituality) we desire to have our conversation in heaven, where the person of Christ, in that body, in our nature, our treasury, is received by the Father, from whence we look for the Savior, "the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body by that mighty power by which he is able to subdue even all things unto himself, as Phil. 3:7 to the end; Heb. 12:1-2. I have been large in these things forementioned, if it may be, for thy good, if not, my confidence is in him, that others will hear and shall fully reap the benefit, when he that is now received in the heavens shall from thence appear in his glory to our everlasting comfort, and you shall be ashamed world without end. To the rest of thy slanders I shall speak briefly.
4. To thy fifth slander, that I said I had not the same testimony the apostles had. This also is altogether groundless from anything thou hadst from me; I did as much as I could avoid the speaking of myself, because I dare not make myself of the number of some that commend themselves, "measuring themselves by themselves," &c. (2 Cor. 10:12), what they are now, with what they were before, and with what others now are, as the Pharisee (Luke 18:11-12) and the false apostles (2 Cor. 11:12-18, &c.; 2 Thess. 2). "Knowing also, that he that speaketh of himself seeketh <378> his own glory" (John 7:18), I was willing to leave that to such proud boasters (as 2 Tim. 3) to exalt themselves and smite others on the face, to their reproach and shame, as 2 Cor. 11:20,21.
That which I said was of Timothy, and all other secondary ministers of the gospel, since the first trusters in Christ, who received their word immediately from his person, all since, and so including myself (yea happily I might, when put upon it, acknowledge the same particularly concerning myself) that they do not receive their word, furniture, or mission immediately [p.46] from the person of Christ, as the first apostles did, but mediately in believing through their word (as more fully in discourse, and in answer to your challenge). But was not this often in the same discourse told thee, and is it not full in the paper sent thee, and in so many words? that the word or testimony was and is the same, for those apostles gave it in his name, for obedience to the faith among all nations; but the manner of receiving it from him various (and so in some sense the call the same also, though the manner of the work to which called, in some things different; & so the manner of their receiving it and being made of the number called to such peculiar service) or canst thou not distinguish between the testimony itself and the manner of receiving it? I fear it's not so much weakness as wilfulness.
5. To your sixth and eighth slanders (as forementioned), viz., that I charged you with burglary and breaking into the house, and that Mr. Wray commanded you to depart his house.
I answer, you know the falseness of these, as of the rest. To the first, I remember that on some occasion I told you I would not commit burglary or break into any man's house; you then would fain have catched something of it, as intimately charging you with doing so the day before, to which I then told you, I did not so charge any of you nor think otherwise but that you had very fair leave to come and stay, though all that you say to that I believe not, viz., that you were sent for. Happily you might have notice of our meeting there, but that I am sure was not by any desire of ours, nor did I know that was any occasion or end of our meeting, but as I heard by flying reports: only was desired to come and give them a visit, by him that best might invite me to that house.
To the next, which at least you imply, that Mr. Wray commanded you to depart: it is like all the rest. You know he invited you all to dinner and told you you should be all welcome, though I think you were most of you too scornful to accept it. And the reason he desired us to meet in the public after was only for conveniency of room because of the multitude of the people, nor did you then say anything against meeting there, only when you perceived it was not like easily to be prevented you spake against breaking up a while for a dinner; but that also <379> you did in such language as you might reasonably think would rather provoke not to listen to your proposal therein. And doubtless, whatever you pretend, you were glad of the occasion to be gone. I question not but you would have come freely enough to the other place (as we were all desired) had you looked for any advantage to your design of marring the visage of the Son of Man.
[p.47] 6. To thy seventh slander, that any of my companions should say that God had neither eyes nor ears nor heart: this also I know to be like the rest, for I am sure I heard no discourse of that nature, and I was never in any time of discourse so far from thee that thou couldst hear it and not I. And whoever of thy companions told thee it, I know it to be false, because I know them better than thee, or thy companions do; happily they might say that God (even the Father) hath not eyes, ears, &c., as a man, nor seeth as man seeth, and possibly also they might be cut off or interrupted in the midst of some such saying by your incivilities, as at other times; but this slander may be as well without any color of ground as all the rest; and the same I do on good ground judge of what thou saidst of one of us confessing that which thou hadst acknowledged about Christ's flesh in thee; we bless God, we all know, the flesh of Christ is now to be fed on and enjoyed by faith, in, through, and according to the testimony of it and its virtues, brought us in his words, which are Spirit and life, and not otherwise.
Many more of thy slanders might be discovered, as that that I was forced by thee to deny what I had said about the Scriptures. Truly if I had used any expressions not so safe or warrantable, I hope I should willingly being so convict, have left them for better, and I think I should therein have done better than thou didst, in standing to maintain so oft and seriously these very expressions, "That God was hurt with men's sins," when as the Scripture saith plainly, "If thou sinnest, what dost thou to him? Thy wickedness may hurt a man as thou art," &c. (Job 35:6,8). But I know nothing that I did or need to deny or go from that I said, but thou hast mentioned nothing of my sayings right, either in that or anything else; my very sayings at first delivered, and after repeated, do show the falseness of thy charge; they were these: that though the Scriptures be the absolute rule and medium, according to which faith is begotten and regulated, yet Jesus Christ himself, as therein declared, is made the foundation and bottom of it, as well as the object in whom the Father is believed in; that here taken for granted about the Scriptures is far from denying him what it affirms him to be; and if (as in the answer I writ and left for thee to that charge, if) I say, I had said, that they are the absolute and perfect means, through which the preaching of faith is discovered and so faith begotten, that is far from <380> denying other means. It only saith, as that Ps. 19, they as compared with all other are perfect, as is more at large in that answer.
Many more I say of thy slanders might be discovered. But what should I speak farther of thy slandering us; thou hast as grossly belied the apostles themselves, as in that Rom. 10:8, where thou sayest the apostles [p.48, misnumbered 52] preached the word and faith in the heart of them to whom they preached, whereas the text saith, not the word and faith, but "the word of faith which they preached"; and of that he saith not simply, it was in their heart, either as dwelling or received there, but that it was "nigh them in their heart," &c. And speaks there expressly of such a nighness of it in their heart as is to men in the preaching of it, even before faith of and in it be effected in them, and that they might believe, &c., saying, "The word is nigh thee in thy heart, that if thou shalt believe," &c.
I might mention many more of thy abuses of them, whose doctrine thou wouldst pervert to color or countenance thy vain visions out of thy own heart, yea our Savior himself thou slanderest to that purpose, as will appear in making good the next part of what I do in the presence of God charge thee with, which is,
That (perverting the gospel of Christ to that purpose, and pretending Spirit and immediate call to it also) thou preachest or bearest witness of another Jesus than he whom they (the apostles, as well as also the prophets that have spoken to us in the name of the Lord) have preached and borne their testimony to; and movest us to listen to another spirit, that we have not received in the hearing of faith; and bringest another doctrine or message, which we have not accepted, nor the prophets and apostles of the Lord delivered or spoken of; yea, so contrary to theirs that they cannot stand together, which when he that cometh to or amongst any of us doth, we have good cause then especially to be jealous over one another (and such jealousy may be borne with) and have then also more especially need to strive together for the faith of the gospel, having also so good encouragement, hope and strength therein that we need be in nothing terrified by our adversaries, though they charge us with having a devil, as they did our master, and speak great swelling words of vanity, promising liberty to them that will listen to them.
First, that thou preachest another Jesus, &c., appears in this:
1. The Jesus to whom thou bearest witness is one, or something, that is not already come in the flesh, but still and daily coming, and as with reference to some persons, not yet having come or appeared at all, to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. It's something whose appearing in the flesh, suffering, or offering himself to bear our sins, as a sacrifice for them, was not perfectly finished at once, and in that one <381> person of Jesus of Nazareth, so as not to be made or accomplished over again, neither in the same nor in any other person, which did fully appear in thee and Richard Farnworth, witnessing his coming in the flesh, his offering himself to bear sin, and as the sacrifice for it to be or to have been accomplished [p.49] in your persons, in some late operations in and upon you, which also you signified to be such as we were yet strangers to. And now in this thy letter thou chargest us with denying Christ come in the flesh, because we affirmed that appearing or coming of his in the flesh to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself to be finished in that one person Jesus of Nazareth, and so now past, and not accomplished in thee or any other person.
Whereas the Jesus of whom they bore witness is one person distinct from all other, that needeth not daily to offer himself, or as those former priests daily to offer sacrifice, first for his own sins and then for the people's, for this he did once when he offered up himself (Heb. 7:27); he did not, nor doth offer himself often, for then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world; but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. "And as it is appointed to men once to die" (which evidently speaks of the natural and first death, which in the ordinance or appointment of God passed on all men in one when sin entered into the world in that one offense, forasmuch as all therein sinned, Rom. 5:12-18, and once seizeth on every individual, so as in that death that came by God's appointment, on men as sinful men from Adam considered, they indeed die but once) even so Christ was once offered, not many times or in many ages, but then once in the last ages (as also is showed before), to bear the sins of many, even of all men, that in one were appointed to die, when they and their offenses were multiplied into many. Note that he saith not, to bear sins in many, for then also the offering could not have been finished at once but must have been often iterated, but now once one died for all (not in all, or in that sense in any other person), but did himself bear our sins in his own body to the tree, &c. (Heb. 9:24-28; 2 Cor. 5:14-15; 1 Pet. 2:24). He died once and can die no more (Rom. 6:9-10; Rev. 1:18), nor is there another offering to be made, or that to be made over again, but with that one offering in that his own body, made and finished once for all, he is set down forever on the right hand of God, a prince and Savior (as before also in the beginning of this discovery is showed), read Heb. 10:1-12. Against the truth of which, and to introduce such a Jesus as is daily appearing and offering himself to bear our sins and make propitiation for them in men, you perverted such scriptures as tell us of God's being made to serve with men's sins, and wearied with their iniquities (Isa. 43:24). And being pressed with them, as a cart is pressed <382> with sheaves (Amos 2:13), and of men's crucifying the Son of God to themselves (Heb. 6:6), so said you he is crucified for sins and made to bear sins by the wicked every day. The gross abuse of which scriptures, as brought to such a purpose, is easy:
[p.50] 1. These scriptures speak of it as an act of men to make him so, "Ye have made me to serve with your sins, ye have wearied me," &c. (Isa. 43:24; Mal. 2:17). "They have crucified the Son of God to themselves, and put him to an open shame" (Heb. 6:6). But in that one appearing in which he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself, no man had any hand in making him to be sin or to bear our sin, or to be an offering for it; man sinned and occasioned so his necessity of such a sacrifice, but he could do nothing to the imputing his sins to, or laying them upon Christ, or preparing himself such a sacrifice; though men had a hand in crucifying him in that one body; yet they did it not, nor could do it for our sins, or to prepare themselves such a propitiation and sacrifice in him, but for his bearing witness to the truth; therefore they buffeted him, scourged and crucified him. But it was the Father that imputed to him and laid on him the iniquities of us all, and delivered him to that shameful death of the cross for our offenses. This was the only work of God, and is marvelous to behold; he made his soul an offering for our sin, he made him to be sin and a curse for us; and the Son he willingly offered himself to bear our sins in his own body (Isa. 53:9-10; Rom. 4:25 and 8:32; Heb. 9:26, &c., and 12:2; Ps. 118).
2. These scriptures speak of such things or actions done by men as tend directly to their utter destruction, which indeed is only of men's selves, they having wearied him in the sense of those scriptures God left them; and did therefore because of their so wearying him pour out his fury, &c. (Isa. 1:14-15; Jer. 6:11); yea, such as have so crucified the Son of God to themselves and put him to an open shame, the text saith, "It's therefore impossible to renew them again to repentance" (Heb. 6:6). And where sin being not wholly finished, so as to occasion an utter separation, God yet had mercy again and blotted out their sins for his name's sake (Isa. 43:25); yet that was so far from being the fruit of that their making him to serve, or wearying him with their sins, that it was indeed the more wonderful being after such long provocation and obstinacy. But on the other hand, this one act or work of God in making Christ's soul an offering for sin, causing our sins to meet together on him, and his bearing them in his own body, is that very thing in which is all our help and salvation, which indeed is only of God; with his stripes we are healed (Isa. 53:6; 1 Pet. 2:24).
3. Yet also it is clear that even that his being wearied or pressed <383> with their sins, though it was their act to make him so, yet his being so made was not in any operation in them, but something accidentally caused or occasioned in God, or from him towards them, by their long persisting in their [p.51] obstinacy and provocations, even until the day of his patience was out, or almost out with them, then he is said to be wearied (though in a proper sense, as man he fainteth not, nor is weary), when he doth or is ready to do that which men do when they are weary, viz., give over forbearing or waiting, as in that Jer. 6:11. And so that Amos 2:13 may be read either or both ways: "I am pressed," or "I will press you" (so some translations render it) "as a cart is pressed with sheaves"; but (as before) in this offering of Christ to bear our sins in his own body, "God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not imputing their trespasses to them but causing them to meet together on him" (2 Cor. 5:19 with Isa. 53:6).
4. True it is, that mentioned Heb. 6:6 is not only something made or occasioned by them, but also in the first branch of it an operation made in them and to them: they crucify the Son of God to themselves, yet that not for but wholly against themselves, and causing that weariness in God of forbearing them forementioned; surely it's like that internal operation (2 Thess. 2:10), deceivableness of unrighteousness, greatest unrighteousness under a visor of righteousness or form of godliness in them that perish. It is such an internal operation as in which the person of Christ, as crucified for us, with the ends and virtues of his cross, is made of no account, dead, or undesirable, if not execrable to a man. "The preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness" (1 Cor. 1:18). Surely, James, I have good ground to believe this is that operation in you which you witness to be Christ's appearing or coming in the flesh in you, there to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself, and that also which you call his second appearing in you, &c.; I could be glad to hope this were not wholly finished, for if so, there remains nothing but a fearful looking for of vengeance to consume the adversaries, &c. If Christ come to die in this sense in, or to a man, no resurrection of him answerable in or to that man is to be expected.
Other scriptures also, I remember, you abused to this purpose, such as tell us, "He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself" (1 John 5:10). "And the commandment given is true in him and in them (chap. 2:8).
Surely you are willingly ignorant, or not able to distinguish between the witness being in a man, received in believing, and the thing witnessed, being actually wrought in him. Doubtless the main thing witnessed in those scriptures is the person of Christ and the works of our salvation, that were perfectly wrought and finished in that person, with<384> out our motion or knowledge (1 John 1 and chap. 1:2). And so of that propitiation and eternal life, [p.52] that God hath therein and so prepared for us, and given us in him, as in a sure treasury, fountain, and receptacle for us, that it might be received and enjoyed by us, even now by faith, and in a first fruits of the Spirit, and in the hope of the harvest, in so receiving him, even in believing on his name (1 John 5:10-12 with John 1:1-12,14), which person and works so finished in him are no otherwise in any but by faith of and in them; and so in the virtues tasted and experimented. But whosoever so believeth on the Son of God, he hath the witness in himself (not the thing witnessed wrought over again in him, nor any otherwise in him than by faith, &c., as before, but) the witness of that person, and those works as perfect in him, is actually received in the receipt of the testimony God hath given of him. It is a good description of the doer of truth: "he cometh to the light" that he may see all his works (that he desires to own as the ground and matter of his rejoicing and hope) wrought in God, in Immanuel.
And so the other place saith the thing was true in them that was true in him; not because it was actually wrought in them, as in him, but expressly because the darkness was past to them, and the true light had then shined, which discovers him as that only begotten Son of God, full of grace and truth (John 1:14), and so learns all truth as it is in Jesus (Eph. 4:21), yea, leads into all truth and so gives proof and experiment of the goodness, virtue, and efficacy or power of the truth in the receipt of it, through such lifting up or demonstration of the Son of Man, and so of the truth, as it is in him (John 16:13-14).
2. The Jesus or Christ to whom thou bearest witness is such as whose second appearing without sin to the salvation of those that look for him (with reference to those expressions, Heb. 9:28) is already past or hath been accomplished in thee. This is clear in thy letter (though there the word second be left out, which was oft urged by thee in discourse), that Christ is come again in the flesh, since his ascension, which also thou callest thy confessing the flesh of Christ and further signifies (in following expressions) this to be thy confession of the flesh of Christ in thee, or his coming in the flesh (the second time even since his ascension) in thee, and didst call in discourse his appearing again and the second time in thee, in his body, his flesh, and spirit, Christ, holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, made higher than the heavens, with many other suchlike expressions, which some took in writing, lest thou shouldst deny them (though not as any matter of accusation against thee, to thy harm, as thou slanderest them), which writing I not having by me mention no more than I will remember, and is the sum of it in thy letter.
<385> [p.53] Whereas, that Jesus the Christ which they have preached is personally received by and continuing with the Father in the heavens, until the time of the restitution of all things (Acts 3:20-21), from whom all believers are personally absent while in these mortal bodies (2 Cor. 5:6). His second and glorious appearance (in that body in which he once suffered for sin) without sin, to the salvation of those that look for him, with all the blessed hope then to be revealed, the fullness and harvest of the Spirit and glorious redemption of the body is yet to be waited for by all believers, not accomplished in or to any of them, all the time of this present world; whence the apostle propounds it as the posture in which the believer stands all the time of this present world, in which he hath ungodliness and worldly lusts to encounter with, "looking for that blessed hope and the glorious appearance of the great God and our Savior" (Tit. 2:12-13 with 2 Pet. 3:3,11-12; 1 Thess. 1:9-10; Phil. 3:20-21). And so that salvation of them that look for him (Heb. 9:28), to the accomplishing of which he shall appear the second time, and then without sin (in any such imputation of it, infirmities, or sufferings by occasion of it, as was upon him in his first appearance), even in the glory of his Father, and with his holy angels; that salvation of them, I say, is clearly that total salvation that shall be revealed and accomplished in the last time (1 Pet. 1:5), even after the natural death and in the resurrection, in which they shall be redeemed from the power of the grave in the first resurrection, and so from the hand of the enemy, that the second death shall have no power on them, but they shall be ever with the Lord, possessing the glorious rest and kingdom forever, which appears in that it's a position so placed, as answering to the judgment after death, mentioned in the former verse (Heb. 9:27-28). In that judgment after death unto which all in these bodies must come, then and therein "shall he appear without sin to the salvation of them that look for him"; so that they shall stand in the judgment having righteousness and strength in the Lord; yea, in the Lord shall they be justified and redeemed from all their iniquities fully and perfectly, and shall glory (Isa. 45:24-25; Ps. 130:8).
Yea, when that second appearing of Christ shall be accomplished, it shall not then be made or accomplished in an internal operation in this or that, or many persons, that we should need to look here or there for him; but that one person shall appear personally in that his own body in our nature, as now glorified with the Father, even as he was seen go into heaven, so his second coming shall be visible to all, as the lightning from the one end of the heaven to the other, and accomplished to them all at once, and together (1 Thess. 4:14-16; Matt. 24:26-28).
[p.54] To corrupt us from the belief of the truth and expectation of which blessed hope, and to introduce thy other Jesus whom thou didst <386> witness to have appeared the second time in thee, even to have come again in the flesh since his ascension, &c. (as before) thou didst pervert these scriptures that I well remember: Luke 17:20-21; John 14:3.
The first of which thou mentionest now again in thy letter, with a great deal of vaunting and reproach, as if it spoke so much and so plainly to what thou hadst affirmed as to render it greatest folly, shame, and blindness to oppose such thy witness of thyself. Let us therefore again a little look upon it, and see if thou hast not grossly abused our Savior in perverting his words contrary to the plain intent and scope of them. See if our Savior do not in that place clearly signify that his second coming in that body, and therein the glorious revelation and bringing down of the kingdom and glory, is yet to be waited for, even by his disciples, all the time of this mortality. They themselves "should desire to see one of his days, and should not see it" (namely, in this time and state of their mortality, nor till they all come together with all that are his). Let the whole chapter be viewed from the twentieth verse to the last. When he was demanded of the Pharisees "when the kingdom of God should come," he answered, "The kingdom of God cometh not with observation, or outward show" (of pomp, or glory of this world, of which his kingdom is not as they expected, John 18:36), "neither shall they say lo here or lo there, for behold the kingdom of God is within you," in the midst of you, or among you; it's clear by what follows that this first part of his answer speaks of the first appearance of that kingdom in that person, the Messiah, the king, the Lord and Savior, whose first appearance was not with outward glory and pomp of this world, as they looked for, but in weakness and abasement; and this was he that was now personally among them and approved by God among them by miracles and signs which God wrought by him in the midst of them, as they themselves did also know, "for he was anointed with the Holy Ghost and with power," by which his word and works were spiritually demonstrated in them, or to their hearts (Acts 2:22 & 10:38), and so the word of the "kingdom nigh them in their hearts," as Rom. 10. And so while this person was with and amongst them, in his personal ministration, the kingdom was also in them in the spiritual discoveries of it, working for acceptance with them, for as long as he was in the world he was the light of the world, in his personal ministration, and these persons had seen and hated him and his Father (John 9:5 and 15:24) in this sense; the kingdom of heaven was so among them as in former ages it had not been among any, "for [p.55] the law and the prophets were until John, and from that time the kingdom of heaven was preached" (Luke 16:16). And yet still, the person and the works of and in that person (in and through which the kingdom was brought nigh them and in the midst of them) was distinct <387> from them but thus demonstrated in this first appearance, and in the works by him then accomplished among them.
Now observe what follows: "And he said unto the disciples, the days will come when ye shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and shall not see it."
It seems this was one of the days of the Son of Man which they did see, in which the kingdom of God was among them. And that this which they did see was the first of them (namely, the first day of Christ's appearing personally on earth, and in the nature of man) appears in that he saith (Luke 10:24; Matt. 13:17) that "many prophets, kings, and righteous men had desired to see these things they did see," in this appearance of the Son of Man, "and had not seen them." None of the fathers before saw his day, not the first of them, as actually revealed and accomplished in their time and among them, as these disciples and spectators did. Though they did see his day by faith, and so the things to be done by him in his first and second appearance, yet it was so as afar off in respect of the actual revelation and accomplishment of them, and as things to come (compare John 8:56 with Heb. 11:13; 1 Pet. 1:10-12). Therefore that day of the Son of Man which now they did see, in which the kingdom of heaven was brought among them and therein made nigh them in their hearts by spiritual demonstration (as before), that was the first day of the Son of Man, not the second (as the abuse of it to the forementioned purpose would persuade us).
Neither did his own disciples yet desire to see another day of the Son of Man, certainly knowing that this was the Messiah, and ignorantly hoping that he would presently, "at this time" of his appearing, "restore the kingdom to Israel" (Luke 24:21; Acts 1:6).
But our Savior here instructs them, and that by way of further answer to the Pharisees' question, "when the kingdom of God should come," that the day of the Son of Man in which he should "appear in the glory of his Father, and with his holy angels," in which God's kingdom should come to be revealed in the glorious state of it, was not yet accomplished amongst or unto any, no not to those his own disciples; yea, that should be another day of the Son of Man, distinct from this, a second appearing, which also was to be waited for by them; during the time of this mortality they should desire to see it and should not see it. And herewith our Savior [p.56] also admonisheth them, that when any should say to them, with respect to this second day of the Son of Man, and the blessed hope and glorious kingdom then to be revealed, See here, or see there, it is accomplished or fulfilled in this or that secret and mystical way, and in or to this person or that, though you yet discern it not, that they should not go after or follow such, and that for this <388> reason: "For as the lightning that cometh out of the one part under heaven shineth unto the other part under heaven, so shall the Son of Man be in his day." Whence also he compares it to the days of Noah and of Lot, for the suddenness of it and its universality, to all at once, even to all the surviving enemies, such as shall weep and wail because of it; and not only the surviving friends, but all those that sleep in Jesus, that have part in the first resurrection (though the rest of the dead shall not live again, so immediately or presently on his appearing, nor till some time after, yet), these the children of the first resurrection shall together be raised and changed into the likeness of his glorious body. To signify which further unto them, our Savior at the latter end of this chapter, in answer to their question, "where this should be," saith, "Wheresoever the carcase is, thither will the eagles be gathered together," that so they may be quiet, as those that have no need to be too solicitous or inquisitive to know where or when any further than is plainly revealed, because it shall be as the lightning, &c. (as before); let them now follow him in the regeneration, and they shall be all gathered together in and unto that glorious day of the Son of Man when it comes.
And indeed, their only privilege and benefit by that second day of the Son of Man, that by his grace appearing through his first day are begotten to faith and hope in him and so moved to wait for him, is signified by our Savior's turning his speech in this second part of his answer to the Pharisees' question, from the Pharisees, and directing it to his disciples. They only may look and long for that day with desire and joy. His first personal appearance was not, nor is his ministerial and spiritual comings forth to men, to judge, but to save the world, "and that through him the world might be saved." But his second personal appearance shall be to judge, and "render to every man according to his work" (according to the rule of the gospel) that shall be only to the salvation of them that through his grace are here begotten to hope in him, and look for him; the rest shall be ashamed and confounded forever. Those that have rejected his grace extended to them, and striving with them through his first personal appearance (through which all the grace of God bringing salvation to all men came forth in all ages) shall have no day of grace, nor any [p.57] such nigh coming of the kingdom, either in itself or in the word, or tender of it, afforded them in and by his second day, as the forementioned abuse of this scripture would signify to us, in urging that first part of the answer of our Savior to the Pharisees (vv. 20-21). For proof of the second appearing of Christ, accomplished to and in men now in this day, which thing signified, namely, that the second appearing of Jesus Christ in the flesh and in the Spirit, his coming again since his ascension, &c. (as in the forementioned <389> expressions of thy discourse and letter) was accomplished in those Pharisees there spoken to, who yet had not owned him in his first appearance, is also quite contrary to your own principles, and expressions too, in other parts of your discourse and writings, in which you signify it to be the peculiar privilege of yourselves and such others to have experimented Christ's coming again in you since his ascension, and this accomplished in some late operations in you (many of which Farnworth boasted of) which you signified us all along, and all others that would not admire and worship you, to be strangers to; yet now this scripture must be brought and urged again and again, to prove the said coming of Christ again in flesh and Spirit after his ascension, &c., to have been now accomplished in these Pharisees that were not yet the disciples of Christ nor had owned him in his first appearance, and at this time also, in which our Savior himself affirmeth he was not yet ascended (John 20:17), and the Holy Ghost saith the like of him (John 7:39). Herein is the truth of those scriptures verified in you, that tell us, such men as have not faith, or are of no judgment concerning the faith of and in that person, they are also unreasonable or absurd men, their own sayings and principles will not stand one by another, for indeed themselves understand not what they say, nor whereof they affirm.
But I shall waive the further notice of your absurdities in this, and proceed in the consideration of what may be more for our commodity and instruction, and for yours also, if not too late, or you be not too proud to receive it.
See, I pray you, how to this second day of the Son of Man, which he hath said his own disciples should desire to see, and should not see till they and we (all the disciples) be gathered together, our Savior speaks further in the beginning of chap. 18, instructing us by a parable always to pray, watch and be as men longing and waiting for it, and not to faint, or take up short, assuring us that God will much more readily, willingly, speedily than the unjust judge (who yet was overcome by importunity) avenge his elect, and that speedily, which he plainly signifies he will then, and not till then fully do, in that day of the Son of Man yet to come and [p.58] to be waited for by them all (as 2 Thess. 1:6-10 and 2:1-2). "Yet the Lord is not slack, as men count slackness, but his forbearance is salvation; he is not willing that any should perish and therefore waits that he may be gracious," as 2 Pet. 3:9, &c.; Isa. 30:18. "But he that shall come will certainly come" (whoever scoff at the promise of it) "and will not tarry longer than his time; yea the Lord will hasten the work," &c., of his faithfulness and truth, in which he hath also given assurance in what he hath already done. "Nevertheless," saith our Savior, "when he the Son of Man cometh, shall he find <390> faith on the earth?" Surely, he signifies but little, few will be found in the expectation and waiting for his coming; most that pretend to magnify him will before that day have taken up short, as if it were already accomplished in this or in that; others almost discouraged and damped through the abounding of iniquity, &c.
The other scripture that was perverted by thee, to the forementioned purpose in thy second day's discourse, is that saying of our Savior (John 14:3), "If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to myself, that where I am, ye may be also." Is it not clear that that shall be accomplished to them altogether? And then, and not till then, when he shall bring all that sleep in Jesus with him, compare this with 1 Thess. 4:14-17. They did indeed see him again, after he was a while taken from them by death, he being raised appeared to them many times before his ascension, and they were therein comforted and confirmed, and happily therein there might be some first fulfillings of that promise (John 16:16, &c.), "A little while and ye shall see me again, because I go to the Father." But as that text speaks not expressly of his coming again (though it shall then have its full and perfect fulfilling), so in that first fulfilling of it, though they did see him again, yet was not that properly his coming again, but farther demonstrations of that first appearance and of the works done in that person therein and thereby. And truly, because he was to go to the Father, they had those demonstrations of the person that did ascend in our nature, before he did so. And because he is gone to the Father, he also shall come again in his day and receive them to himself, as John 14:3. The ground of all our consolation and hope (as before) being made complete in this, that we have an advocate, the Son of God in our nature, even in that body in which he bore our sins to the tree, in heaven (with the Father), "From whence" (namely from heaven) "we also look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, by that mighty working by which he is able to subdue even all things to himself."
[p.59] The other parts of my charge follow necessarily, this first being so fully showed, and therefore with more brevity may be passed over, as to say, in the next place,
2. That thou movest us to listen to and receive another spirit than that which is in and with that hearing of faith (Gal. 3:1,3). For is not the Lord himself in that revelation of him, or the testimony of Jesus, even as committed to the apostles to be ministered, and as preached by them, that Spirit of prophecy, that Spirit prophesied of, and that now fits for prophecy and is the life and quintessence of prophecy? compare 2 Cor. 3:17 and the other verses of that chapter, and chap. 4:1, &c., <391> with Rev. 19:10. Is not that testimony, as so come forth, the Spirit's testimony, given and opened by him in and with which he is certainly present? See Acts 2:16-36, &c. And thence the gospel called "the power of God to salvation to every one that believeth"; yea, his words, which he spake unto those that yet received them not, Spirit and life? (Rom. 1:16-17; John 6:63). And do not they then move us to listen to and receive another spirit that bring another doctrine or testimony, and indeed of another Jesus (as before)? and cry down the testimony of Jesus as declared in the apostles' doctrine, as letter, and dead letter, while in the meantime also, they magnify the words spoken by themselves as the words of the eternal God and curse others for but calling their words into question; while yet also they reproach them for desiring to have their faith in Christ regulated according to the testimony of Jesus so given by the Holy Ghost (as aforesaid) and the preachers of that testimony, as preachers of letter, and command them to throw it by and wait for some other immediate teaching. And wherein you have done all this is clear in your discourse and in Farnworth's challenge, and in this thy letter throughout, notwithstanding it was plainly told you what the apostle affirms of the ministry of the gospel, as committed to them, in the very place abused by you to this purpose (viz. 2 Cor. 3), that ministry, as so committed to them and delivered and left in record by them, that as opposed to Moses' ministration, or the law, as given by him (to which yet he gives more honorable titles than you can afford the everlasting gospel), he calls that (not a dead, but) a killing letter; now that cannot kill that hath no life in it. But this ministry of the gospel, as committed to them, which also was witnessed in the law and prophets, this as opposed to the law (I say) he calls the ministration of the Spirit, yea Spirit; the ministration of righteousness, of life, and of glory, whence it's called the glorious gospel (2 Cor. 4:4).
Now when this is slighted and rejected as a dead letter, and yet some [p.60] inward light or spirit boasted of, and propounded to be listened to and received, that must needs be another spirit than that which is in and with that hearing of faith, yea a contrary spirit such as is in and with such contrary and strange doctrines as bring another Jesus, a contrary anointing. And so I come farther, and particularly to make good the last part of my charge.
3. That thou bringest another gospel than what the apostles have preached and all true believers have from the beginning accepted, which indeed is not another gospel; it affirms, or brings us no glad tidings; it is a gospel but in pretense only, not in truth. It is indeed another doctrine or message (such as in which the message they received of him and declared unto us is endeavored to be perverted and abolished) to which thou <392> pretendest an immediate call, and furniture from God (in which thou excludest thyself from that prayer for blessing on their ministration to the world's end, who through the apostles' word or doctrine believe on him). But if thou wert an angel immediately coming from heaven we are to hold thee accursed in this thy work. And to make it appear that it is another doctrine or message, and contrary to what they have preached, and such as will not at all stand together with it, let this letter be viewed, though thou hast expressed things darkly and subtly, that thou mightest wind out, when thou shouldst see cause of fear thou couldst not manage it, or that the endeavoring to manage it would spoil thy design, in discovering thee too grossly, yet they that will not willfully shut their eyes may discern in this letter that thy doctrine, message, or pretended gospel, in the sum or issue and end of it is, to preach down that person, Jesus of Nazareth, of the seed of David after the flesh, and those works of our salvation wrought in his person, in his incarnation, death, resurrection, and ascension; I say to preach him and those works as done in that one person down, as types and shadows, or figures of the true Christ, which is to be found in some other thing, or works accomplished in many persons, even so to preach down him and those works done in him, that manifestation of God in the flesh, in that one person, as for us; I say, so to preach them down as the apostles preached down circumcision, temple, and sacrifices without. It contents not thee to preach down the same things the apostles preached down as figures, &c., but thou must preach down what they lifted up as the body, the truth, & so to abide forever; thou must preach that down as types and figures too. See if this be not clearly signified in thy letter, where, after thou hast charged us with denying Christ come in the flesh, because we bore testimony against thy witness of Christ being come again since his ascension, or having appeared the second time in the flesh, now glorified and without sin to salvation (according to that promise, Heb. 9:28, [p.61] which was more full in thy discourse, but full enough in thy letter, in which thou callest thy witness of Christ's being come again since his ascension, thy confessing of the flesh of Christ; yea (as is signified in what follows) of his flesh in thee; for indeed that was thy witness, as is also signified in thy letter, that Christ was come, or had appeared again in the flesh since his ascension, and so the second time, and without sin to salvation, and all this accomplished in thee (as before); I say, after thou hast charged us with denying Christ come in the flesh, because we witness him to be already come and his second coming to be waited for, and did bear witness against this witness of thine forementioned; and then also reproached us for not believing concerning this any farther than we can read in that which thou callest letter, to this thou addest, what a generation would we have been, had <393> we lived in the times of the apostles, who preached down circumcision, temple, and sacrifices without? such things as the letter said should continue forever, yet they preached them down without and confirmed them within, in Spirit, which is the ground and bottom of all, and in which all must end. Dost thou not herein clearly signify an acknowledgment that the sum or end of thy mission or message, in thy confession of the flesh of Christ (which we opposed), was to preach down that person and those works wrought and furnished in that person, in his own body, as distinct from every one of us, and without us in our particular persons, which the apostles said should remain in the essence of the person and abiding virtue of the works in that person with the Father forever? even to preach him and them down, as they preached down circumcision, temple, and sacrifices without, &c., even as but another or farther type, shadow or figure, that so thou mayest confirm thy imagination of something within, as the truth. Is not this plain in thy comparing our opposing thy witness forementioned, and not believing concerning the flesh of Christ farther or otherwise than we read in the apostles' writings, with such opposition of the apostles' preaching down circumcision, temple, and sacrifices without, &c., in their day? Yea, it's farther plain in that thou sayest the confirming them within, in spirit, is the ground and bottom of all and that in which all must end: in which word "all" thou hast evidently reference not only to the things last mentioned but to the things first mentioned also, concerning the flesh of Christ, about which was our context; and so thy witness is that the confirming them within us in spirit is not only the ground, bottom and end of all those types and shadows of the law (concerning which neither is thy witness true, "For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness, even to everyone that believeth" [Rom. 10:4], yea, in the works [p.62] done and finished in his own body. He is the body, the prime and main thing figured in all the types and shadows of the law), but also of the personal appearance of Christ and the works done in and by that one person in his own body, and the mention of his second appearing, the confirming these things within us (in some imagination or operation wrought or found in us) saith, thy witness is the ground and bottom of all, and that in which all must end. Now if this be not another gospel or doctrine than what the apostles preached and in this letter so acknowledged too, let the considerate reader judge.
Yet I shall also here add a word or two to make it farther appear that this thy message or doctrine is not another manner of, or farther revelation of the same thing, or such as in which the things they said should come are declared as fulfilled, even so as they said they should be, as the apostles' message or doctrine, as added to and following the prophets was but so absolutely another doctrine, and contrary to what <394> they have preached, that the truth of them both cannot stand together as the things written by the prophets and apostles did, seeing the apostles said nothing but what the prophets did say should come to pass, who signified beforehand of the sufferings of Christ and of the glory that should follow. The righteousness of God as it's now come forth in Christ was so witnessed to in the law and prophets, that the apostles' doctrine was but a farther revelation of the same mystery of God in Christ before witnessed, and according to what the prophets had before said should come, more fully opening, and in all things confirming them (Rom. 3:21; Acts 26:22-23; 1 Pet. 1:10-11).
But this doctrine, in which God's being manifested in the flesh in that one person, and the works done in his own body for us, is preached down, as they preached down the outward circumcision, temple, and sacrifices, as being but a farther type, shadow, or figure of the truth itself, and that to be found in something else, is so far from agreeing with the apostles' doctrine, or witnessing what the apostles said should come so as therein to confirm their word, as they did the prophets, that it wholly contradicteth and blasphemeth both, and cannot be in the least measure granted, but the truth of theirs is therein denied.
For they have in their revelation of the mystery told us that that Jesus of Nazareth, and no other thing or person, was the eternal word that was in the beginning with God and was God, by whom all things were made, and in whom in all ages was life, and his life was the light of men, even he to whom John witnessed, that was not John but another person distinct from John and all other persons, who was in those days made flesh, by a [p.63] work of new creation in the womb of a virgin, and so came into the world in the nature of man and dwelt amongst men, in that his own personal body, and they his disciples then, in that personal converse they enjoyed with him on earth, did behold his glory as the glory of the only begotten of the Father (there is not another thing or person among men or angels that is the immediately begotten Son of God the Father), and him, as so made flesh, and in that body delivered to death for our offenses and raised again for our justification, they did behold and witness to be infinitely full of grace and truth, as the fountain for all others, and as the truth and body of all types, figures and shadows of the law. Yea farther.
That they in receiving that word and testimony which himself began to preach, and which they received immediately from him and fully after his ascension, they had therein received of his fullness (in respect of the ministration or revelation of him to be given to mortal men)—and grace for grace: a plain and full ministration or revelation of the grace of God in and by Jesus Christ to receive grace through, whereas our fathers <395> before, though saved by grace, yet received that grace through a ministration of works: "For the law came by Moses, but grace and truth by Jesus Christ," &c. (read John 1:1,18,29,40,45, &c.). The former things were indeed shadows, and so they were always signified to be, but Christ is the body (Col. 2:17). And whatever is said in the law and the prophets of their continuing forever (I mean those typical sacrifices and ordinances), it appears plainly signified (even in those scriptures of the prophets, if they be compared) that in the things themselves that were types and figures of the true, and as they were so, they were only to continue forever as ordinances among them in their generations, till the Seed should come, that was promised before that law was given; and in him, the truth, end and fulfilling of them was to remain forever and ever: "The law was added because of transgression, till the Seed forepromised should come" (Gal. 3:19) and did in the whole, and every part of it shadow out and witness good things to come, lead to a better righteousness and hope than was to be attained in or by it, and that only to be found in Christ that was to come in the nature of man, who is the end of the law for righteousness; he is the body, truth, and end of all those former things that indeed were shadows and so was witnessed and directed to by them (Rom. 3:21; Heb. 9 and 10).
So that the law, prophets, and apostles do all agree, and with one mouth witness, declare, and confirm him to be the He, the Son of God, the Savior of the world, "in whom only dwells the fullness of the Godhead [p.64] bodily. In all which former witnesses and latter manifestations of his power and coming, they have not made known cunningly devised fables, but the apostles were eyewitnesses of his majesty, &c. And to what they said had also the testimony of the sure word of prophecy, saying nothing but what they said should come to pass (2 Pet. 1:15-19; Acts 26:22-23).
Yea, the ministry committed to the apostles is given as the dispensation of the fullness of times, in which God hath gathered together all things that before lay scattered in divers witnesses, types and figures, into one, even in Christ Jesus: "For God who at sundry times," or in many parts and divers manners, "spake to the fathers by the prophets, hath now in these last days spoken to us by his Son, whom he hath made heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds, who being the brightness of his glory," &c. "When he had" (observe the text) "by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high": that person, and the righteousness accomplished in and by him for us, and remaining in that person in the heavens with the Father, shall never be abolished. The heavens and earth, in the state in which now they stand, shall wax old as a garment, and be folded up; yea, they <396> shall be changed and renewed. But not so this person, and the virtue of the works done in his body; he is the same, and his years fail not or change; yea, to him, as so delivered to death for our offenses and raised again for our justification, and now glorified in our nature, hath he put in subjection the world to come, of which the apostles have spoken (Eph. 1:10; Heb. 1 tot. & 2:1,5,8-9).
The temple, those sacrifices, &c., were indeed the figures of the true and therefore iterated, because they could not make the comers perfect, but that one offering made in that one body (then, and so prepared for him, as before) and so the power and glory of God, which he thereby and therein invested within our nature, this is the truth itself, the end of all types and figures, and therefore no more to be iterated, because he is able with that one offering, and in that name and glory of the Father he is thereby invested with, "to save to the utmost all that come to God by him"; yea, he is so in heaven the Savior of all men, especially of them that believe. And therefore neither is there another manner of preaching to be given, but his presence promised with that to the end of the world (Matt. 28:1,8,19-20). Yea, that preaching, as so given, shall be even so confirmed, and all the truth and glory of God gloriously and fully manifested in that person, as there declared, in his second and glorious appearance, when he shall frustrate the tokens of the liars [p.65] and make the diviners mad (Isa. 44:25-26 and 8:11,16,20; 2 Thess. 1,6,10,12).
For they have declared the thing plainly as it is, and fully, so that we in coming to this ministration or dispensation of the fullness of times, and so to know, believe, and hope in Christ according to it, are not come to another Sinai but to "Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem," &c., even so as by faith in and according to the gospel, as now come forth, we receive therein a kingdom that cannot be moved but shall even so stand forever and be fully revealed and given to us, as herein it is received by faith; wherefore let us hold fast grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear until he receive us to glory with him, as he hath said, "For our God is a consuming fire" (Heb. 12:22,28-29). He that will not hear that prophet shall be cut off, no other message or messenger to be sent, or means to be used by God for his help; that being rejected, nothing remains but vengeance to consume the adversaries.
Surely then, that doctrine that preaches down that Jesus of Nazareth, and the works done in that his own personal body, as for us, as they preached down circumcision, temple, sacrifices, as being but a further shadow of some truth, or good things yet to come, or to be found in some other thing or work in many persons, is clearly another and contrary doctrine, and tends to overthrow the doctrine, faith, and hope of <397> our Lord Jesus Christ, as declared by the one mouth of his holy apostles and prophets since the world began, and therefore not to be followed but held as execrable by us; neither are we to bid them to house, or bid them Godspeed that bring it, after knowledge of them to be such; he that so doth is partaker of all their evil deeds, yea, we are to avoid and turn away from such. Having therefore clearly (and fully to my own satisfaction, I speak as in the sight and presence of God) discerned thee to be one of those strangers, that bring such a strange voice or doctrine, as the sheep are not to listen to; yea, so contrary to the true Shepherd's voice, as even to the introducing another Jesus, another Spirit, another gospel, &c. (as before is showed) and having also (according to my weakness) now discovered it from what I have under thy hand, I shall refuse further to meddle or have to do with thee, unless I shall perceive in thee (what I much desire, if it may be, though I have little hope of it, viz.) some perception of the evil and danger of thy way, and thy heart inclined to turn to the Lord, from whom thou hast deeply revolted. In the perception of which in thee, or any other deceived by thee, or in such deceits, [p.66] I should surely much rejoice, and have to that end thus endeavored it.
Meeting accidentally (a little before the meeting at Mr. Wray's) with several papers, some directed to myself and some others (yet not sent to me but dispersed into the hands of divers) which are filled with nothing else but proud boastings of themselves, the indicters of them, and of their light, or spirit, and railing accusations against others; and some directed to Alice Morden and others, which are chiefly queries, without laying down in any of them any positive answer or discovery of their judgment unless in the close, by reproaching the acknowledgment of one that died for all, "the just for the unjust, bearing our sins in his own body to the tree"; and intimately all the way scoffing at the promise of and waiting for his coming again, rendering that and the hope then to be revealed as a thing made or accomplished in men, and in this day: yet not plainly laying down their principles (if they have any) as to these things (indeed it evidently appears to me they are of no judgment concerning the faith), meeting I say with these papers at a place near Cambridge I was desired to give some answer to them. The first mentioned, I wholly waived for these reasons.
1. There is nothing in them requiring answer, but the substance of it is in those last mentioned.
<398> 2. They are stuffed with self-commendations and railings, and reproaches of others (as before), and the grace of God that hath appeared by Jesus Christ teacheth us not to walk with them in that way, not so to answer a fool according to his folly as therein to become like him, in walking in such a way and use of such weapons (though so to answer a fool according to his folly, as may tend to the making his folly manifest, "lest he be wise in his own conceit," Prov. 26:4-5). The apostle durst not make himself of the number of some that commend themselves, &c. (2 Cor. 10:12), nor durst Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil, bring against him a railing accusation, but said "The Lord rebuke thee O Satan," &c. (Jude 9; Zach 3:2). Yea, the Holy Ghost admonisheth us [p.67] "not to render to any man evil for evil," or railing for railing, but contrariwise blessing, &c. (1 Pet. 3:9; Rom. 12:17) (according to that excellent pattern, 1 Pet. 2:21-23).
And although answer might have been given to those papers also, and not in their way, yet it is hard for us to meddle with such unclean spirits, without getting some defilement by them, as the being provoked to or learning frowardness, or desire of vain glory, in meddling with such froward and vainglorious spirits, whence we are admonished "not to go with a furious man" (no not in joining issue with them in their proud boastings and perverse disputings, but to withdraw ourselves from them, as 1 Tim. 6:3-4), "lest we learn his ways, and get a snare to our soul" (Prov. 22:24-25).
3. Another reason of my waiving them was the little expectation of profit to such persons in dealing with them. "Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit?" and thence, hasty, heady, perverse, self-willed, and furious in his words or matters, "there is more hope of a fool than of him" (Prov. 26:12 and 29:20).
4. The assurance that I have, that "he that reproveth a scorner getteth to himself shame, and he that rebuketh a wicked man getteth himself a blot" (Prov. 9:7). The truth of which I have both before and since proved, in having to do with such spirits as these. And for these and like reasons I thought to have waived this also, were it not for these following reasons:
1) There is something intimately charged on us in the inscription (namely, the denying the alone sufficiency of God's teaching) and many things propounded by way of query, which being rightly answered according to the scriptures quoted as the ground of the queries will tend much to the discovery of the ground of their mistakes and to the strengthening the believer against them.
2) Though the queries as they are propounded may be discerned to be foolish and unlearned, such as are to be avoided by believers, yet <399> such is the pretense of zeal for God and spirituality in the acknowledgment and worship of him, in the queries, that the folly and unlearnedness of the queries and the evil spirit running along in them will not presently be discerned by the weak (without some discovery), who not discerning the same are more apt to be entangled with them.
For their sakes therefore I have assayed to propound something (after a true relation of the queries word for word, as in the paper that came to my hands) by way of answer, or rather discovery of the folly and evil couched in them. And also that this may be of use for the recovery of [p.68] such as are entangled with such spirits, if not past hope of recovery as I fear some are, as likewise lest they should have occasion any of them by our being wholly silent, to glory or be lifted up in the conceit of their own wisdom.
What and where that new Jerusalem is which John saw come down from heaven, wherein there is no night, neither need of light of sun, moon or candle, for the Lord God and the Lamb is the light thereof; and into which in no wise shall enter in anything that is defiled or worketh abomination or maketh a lie, but those whose names are written in the book of life (Rev, 21:22)?
2. What and where that Zion is which Isaiah and Micah spake unto, unto which all nations should flow, where the Lord will teach the people of his ways, from whence the law of God and his word shall go forth, after which they shall learn war no more but shall say come, and let us walk in the light of the Lord (Isa. 2; Mic. 4)?
3. What and where that covenant is which the Lord hath promised in the latter days, wherein he will write his law in their heart and put it in their inward parts, and they shall no more teach every man his neighbor and every man his brother, for all shall know him, from the least to the greatest of them (Jer. 13; Heb. 8)? And whether we may expect to come into the covenant in these days?
4. Where and what that anointing and unction is by which the saints know all things and need not that any should teach them, but as <400> that anointing teacheth them of all things, which is true, and is no lie (1 John 2), and whether it be the same in these days to them that have it?
5. What and where that Comforter is which, when he is come, shall reprove the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment, and shall guide into all truth and show things to come, [p.69] and shall show the things of Christ and glorify him (John 16)?
6. Whether any of the servants of God may expect and wait to receive his word from his own mouth immediately, as all the messengers of God in all ages did, or whether no other word is now to be heard in books which God spake to others (Jer. 23)?
7. Whether any man may wait for the fulfilling of that promise in these latter days, that all thy children shall be taught of the Lord? and whether that teaching be sufficient, without any human help or learning, to guide in the ways of God or no (John 6; Isa. 54:13)?
8. What and where that word is that people should hear behind them, saying, This is the way, walk in it, when they turn to the right hand or to the left; and where that Teacher is that shall be removed no more into corners, but shall be in the midst of them; and whether we may look for that word in these days (Isa. 30)?
9. What that word of faith is by which none needs to say, Who shall ascend up to heaven to fetch Christ from above, or who shall descend into the deep, that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead, but that word is nigh thee, in thy mouth and in thy heart? which the apostle preached to them that had it in their heart. And whether the same word be not now in the hearts of the people, though they mind it not (Rom. 10)?
10. What that voice of Christ is which his sheep know? and how they come to know it from other voices, and all that hear it will not hear the voice of strangers and hirelings and thieves and sorcerers, but by the same voice are brought to know Christ and follow him (John 10)? And whether his sheep may expect and wait for the same voice now, and to know it from all other voices which are false?
11. What that way is in the wilderness which Isaiah spake of (Isa. 35:8), which shall be called the way of holiness, which the unclean shall not pass over, but it shall be for wayfaring men, and fools shall not err therein, in which way the redeemed shall walk and the ransomed of the Lord shall come to Zion? And whether any may expect to find in these days such a way, as are strangers and fools in the world?
12. What that manifestation of the Spirit is which is given to every man to profit withal, and whether there be any profit, but by it; and whether it be not of itself an infallible guide in all the way of God, according to its manifestation (John 4:23)?
13. What and where that worship of God is truly, in which God alone <401> looks to be worshipped in? And whether any can worship in Spirit [p.70] and in truth but those that are born of the Spirit? And whether that he that is born of the Spirit needeth any other guide in the spiritual worship but that Spirit of which he is born according to his measure (John 1:9)? And whether such worships hath not been, and are now differing from all other worships in the world, and therefore hated by them, as in all ages?
14. What and where that light is that enlightens every man that comes into the world, which being come into the world is the condemnation of all those that are in darkness because of their evil deeds? And whether this be not the condemnation of all the world that believe not in it but walk in darkness; and whether there be any other condemnation but it, seeing Christ said, If I had not come ye had not had sin? (John 3; Rom. 8)?
15. What the law of the Spirit of life is, which made Paul free from the law of sin and death, which had warred against the law of his mind and had formerly held him in captivity to the law of sin that was in his members? And whether any in these days that are come to that warfare may look for that freedom by the law of the Spirit of life?
And thus I have written these few lines, the Lord revealing by his Spirit in me the great delusion, sorcery and bewitched doctrine that you are under, of these bewitching Simon Magus sorcerers, which have put you upon a Christ crucified without you, notwithstanding you and the rest are in your filthiness and first nature. Whereas the Holy Ghost hath declared that they must be pure in heart that must see God (Matt. 5:8). And hath neglected to tell you of a washing of regeneration and new birth by the Holy Ghost in you (Tit. 3:4-6). And hath brought another gospel contrary to what Christ hath already preached, and therefore he rendereth such accursed (1 Pet. 1:12). And the Lord speaking by the mouth of Paul saying, "My little children of whom I travail again in birth until Christ be formed in you" (Gal. 4:19). And the Lord in mercy look upon you, for my bowels yearn towards you and pity you, to see prophets and teachers creep in among you to draw you from your guide (2 Pet. 2:1).
Written from the Spirit of the Lord, from one whom
the people of this world calls "Quaker," known by
the name of Thomas Biddle
And first to the inscription or dedication of them, which runs thus:
To Alice Morden and the rest, which are not yet given up to delusion. To all who deny the teaching of God to be sufficient, &c. In <402> which words, that which is imported in the plainest sense of them is, That they look upon this as a testimony sufficient, that men are not given up to delusion, viz., that they deny the teaching of God to be sufficient to guide them that own it, to God, without human helps, or at least, that those that do so are not given up. This appears their sense, if the indicter of this understood himself, but that rather I suppose, he did not; however, to this inscription and dedication we shall lay down this for answer.
That to deny the absolute and alone sufficiency of the teaching of God, without human helps or man's teaching is a sin of a very high nature; and an evidence of being in a great measure given up to delusion (Jer. 8:8-9 and 6:10-11 and 23:16,18,22, &c.; Isa. 8:16-20; 1 Tim. 6:3-5; 1 John 2:19-20,24,26,27, and chap. 4:6).
That therefore we may know who they are that do so, that we may be aware of them, and of all steps leading to this evil. Let us consider,
First, What God's teaching is?
Secondly, where, and how himself doth preach, or hold it forth unto men?
Thirdly, How, or wherein men may be said to deny the alone sufficiency thereof?
First, What God's teaching is, as to the matter of it: There is in it 1) Something summary and fundamental of all the rest, by which primely it may be known and distinguished. 2) Some things contained in, springing out of, and built upon or arising from those things that are main and fundamental in it.
1. Those things main and fundamental in God's teaching are concerning Jesus Christ (before promised and witnessed, and in his undertaking virtuous, now manifested) as delivered to death for our offenses, according to the Scriptures (therein bearing our sins in his own body to the tree, not bearing them, or leaving them to be borne in that sense in our souls or bodies) and raised again from the dead for our justification, according to the Scriptures. And so concerning his own (the Father's) love and goodness to [p.72] man-ward, the glory of which is now manifested in the face of Christ, even in those works done in and by his first personal appearance and the acceptance and virtue of them with the Father for us, and the end of them to be fully revealed and accomplished in his second personal and glorious appearance, according as declared to us in the gospel or testimony of God concerning him, who hath abolished death by his appearing, and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel (1 Cor. 15:1-4; 1 Pet. 2:24; Rom. 4:ult.; 2 Cor. 4:6; 2 Tim. 1:10 and 2:8).
In this the Spirit and teaching of God is primely known and <403> distinguished from all others, it doth unto, and for all things, confess, acknowledge and praise, or commend Jesus Christ as already come in the flesh (not coming, but come, and now through sufferings entered into glory in that his own personal body in our nature, and for us) according to the apostle's doctrine (1 John 4:1-3,6) for reproving the world, and teaching, and leading the believer into all truth. It takes of his things, and shows to the soul, and so glorifies him, even lifts up the Son of Man: the personal abasement, sufferings, or cross of Christ, with the ends and virtues thereof, as now manifested in him, being raised, and received up into glory (John 16:8-10,13-14 with John 3:14; Rom. 1:1-4; 1 Tim. 3:16; 2 Tim. 2:8).
This is so the sum and subject matter of all the Father's teaching, that everyone that hath heard and learned of the Father cometh to Christ, according to the testimony God hath already given of him (John 6:45). And he that believeth not the testimony or record that God hath already given of Christ maketh God a liar (1 John 5:10). Yea it is so the summary and fundamental matter of all his teaching that he is said to learn all truth, and so to teach and lead into all truth, in Jesus in the demonstration, opening and usefulness of Jesus, and those things of him, according to the record God hath given of him by the one mouth of all his prophets and apostles, since the world began (Eph. 4:20-21 with John 16:13-14; Acts 3:20-21). This the purpose and grace of God given us in Christ from the beginning, now manifested by the appearing of Christ, &c., as 2 Tim. 1:9-10. That the Son of Man must be lifted up above all, and for or unto all help and healing of men, even as Moses lift up the serpent in the wilderness, "That whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have eternal life." "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son" (namely the Savior of the world, and to be so lifted up) "that whosoever believeth in him," &c. (John 3:14-16).
2. Those things contained in the matter of God's teaching, as springing out of and arising from the things main and fundamental, are doctrines [p.73] and instructions concerning all things needful to be known, given and opened in and through the demonstration, opening and usefulness of the knowledge of him, in what he hath done and is become for us, for so saith our Savior. "The Holy Spirit" (as now coming forth in and with the testimony of Jesus, as the works of our salvation are finished in his body), "he shall reprove the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment," and all this in, with, and through that testimony of Jesus, as given forth to them, for thus he explicates: "Of sin, because they believe not on me; of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more." He comes down no more to <404> suffer (in which the infinite and abiding virtue of his once suffering is declared). And the second and glorious appearance they should not see in the time of this mortality, nor till we all come together; "of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged already," which also was done in him, as John 12:31-32, speaking of that virtually done from the beginning, now presently to be actually done in his own body, and by his being lifted up from the earth (both on the cross and then because of that being raised on the right hand of Majesty) he saith, now is the judgment of this world, now is the prince of this world cast out. And with this argument, or in the demonstration and usefulness of this, as he reproves the world of righteousness, that all theirs is nothing, his only perfect and will stand them instead; so he reproves them also of judgment, shows the vanity and falseness of all theirs, whether of condemnation or absolution, or in their apprehensions concerning things and persons. And likewise he saith he shall teach them (the believers on him) further in and by the same instrument, and shall so lead them into all truth and show them things to come; for saith he, "He shall not speak of himself, but whatever he shall hear, that shall he speak; he shall take of my things and show unto you, he shall glorify me," &c. (John 16:8,14). In the demonstration and opening of him God learneth all truth, and so also therein instructeth and directeth to all right demeanors towards God and men, so the apostles gave all their commandments by the Lord Jesus, in the demonstration, opening, and applying the things of him did give the ground and reason of them, show their equity, move, and press to the observing them, in the strength afforded in those mercies of the Lord, in and through that testimony of Jesus (1 Thess. 4:2; Rom. 12:1; 1 Pet. 1:13-18, &c.; Eph. 4:1-8,10). "For that grace of God that bringeth salvation to all men" (especially in this appearance of it now come forth by Jesus Christ) "teacheth that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world, looking for the blessed [p.74] hope and the glorious appearance of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ," &c. (Tit. 2:11-13).
2. That in the second place propounded to be considered is where and how this teaching of the Father is held forth by himself unto men, surely that is:
1) In all the books of his creation and providence, in all mercies, chastisements, and changes of his providence with men (Job 33:14-30 and 36:22,26; Ps. 19:1,7 & 107 with Rom. 10:17-18). But,
2) More clearly and abundantly in the holy Scriptures, which were both given and left upon record by immediate inspiration and furniture of God (Rom. 15:4; 2 Pet. 1:19-21; 1 Cor. 14:37; 2 Pet. 3:2; 1 John <405> 1-5) and are therefore profitable for all doctrine or teaching, &c. They are able, being his words (and preserved in the records of them from any fundamental or material perversion, on the account of his righteousness who hath so promised (Ps. 12:6; Prov. 12:19; Isa. 8:16,20 & 44:25-26), and so owned by him and accompanied with his spiritual presence to the end of the world (Matt. 28:20), "able," I say, "to make us wise to salvation," both of ourselves and others, "through faith which is in Christ Jesus," and thoroughly to furnish the man of God to every good word and work, 2 Tim. 3:14-17 and 2 Tim. 4:ult.). "The law" or doctrine "of the Lord is perfect" (Ps. 19:7), "even as spoken out by the one mouth of his holy apostles and prophets from the beginning of the world"; those that have spoken to us and left things on record in the name of the Lord (Acts 3:21-25; Jas. 5:10; 2 Pet. 1:19-20 & 3:1-2).
And who those are that have so spoken, and what those things are that are so delivered in his name, as the certain and infallible oracles of God, we in these last days are thus helped to know and understand.
First, to all those things written aforetime, which we are to look upon as the oracles of the Scriptures of truth (as Rom. 15:4; Dan. 10:21), our Savior and the apostles in their preaching and witnessing to the truth have directed us.
And that by 1) expressing by name most of those holy men of God by whom any of those things were spoken and written, or concerning whom anything material for our instruction is left on record, and that with evident reference to the things written in their books by them or of them (as to instance a little): Moses (John 5:45-47); Moses and Samuel, and all the prophets that follow after (Acts 3:22,24) (note, they are mentioned in such order as we have them, so Luke 24:27,44 and Acts 13:33,35); David (Acts 2:25-30 & 4:25; Rom. 4:6; Matt. 12:3; Mark [p.75] 12:36-37); Solomon (Matt. 12:42; Acts 7:47); Isaiah (Matt. 3:3 & 4:14 & 8:17 & 12:17 & 13:14 & 15:17; Luke 4:17-18; Acts 8:28,30 & 28:25; Rom. 9:27-29 & 10:16,20 & 15:12); Jeremiah (Matt. 2:17 & 16:14 & 27:9); Daniel (Matt. 24:15); Hosea (Rom. 9:25); Joel (Acts 2:16); Jonah (Matt. 12:40-41); Zachariah, son of Barachiah, mentioned as one of the last of the prophets before Christ (Matt. 23:35); Job (Jas. 5:11). Time would fail me to tell of those many prophets and righteous men expressed by name, with reference to the things written of them in those divine oracles, as Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph with his brethren, Joshua, Gideon, Barak and others (see Acts 7; Heb. 11).
2) By quoting or alluding to all the things or matters contained in their books (as through the merciful providence of God and on the ac<406> count of his righteousness they are preserved to us) as the certain and infallible oracles of God, even to the matters and sayings contained in their books, whose names are not expressed by them, as well as in those whose names are expressed; the apostles having said nothing but what the prophets did say should come and so demonstrated and confirmed their further revelation of the mystery which they have given for obedience to the faith among all nations, out of the Scriptures of the former prophets (Acts 26:22-23; Rom. 1:2-3 & 16:25-26; 1 Pet. 1:10-11; 2 Pet. 1:19-21). I might give manifold instances of this also, but I shall content myself with a few of many. The doctrine of the creation (Gen. 1 & 2) and particular sayings therein quoted and alluded to (2 Cor. 4:6; Matt. 19:4-5; 1 Cor. 11:8-9). Of God's resting the seventh day (Gen 2:2; Heb. 4:4). Of the sin and fall of all in one offense and death passing on them thereby (Gen. 2:16-17 with chap. 3:tot.; see Rom. 5:12,14,18; 1 Cor. 15:21-2). Of the promised seed of the woman, and the destruction of Satan's works thereby (Gen. 3:15 with Isa. 7:14; see Gal. 4:4-5; Heb. 2:14-15; 1 John 3:8; Matt. 1:22-23). The passages concerning Abel, Cain, Enoch (Gen. 4 & 5; Heb. 11 & 12:24; 1 John 3:12), Noah, and his preaching and the Spirit shining therein, and in other means with men (Gen. 6; 1 Pet. 3:19-21). The wickedness of the old world, and their destruction by water; Noah and his family being saved in the ark (Gen 6 & 7, &c.). See the forecited place, and 2 Pet. 2:5 & 3:6-7). The several passages concerning Abraham his fearing and walking with God. God's covenant with him, confirming it in his seed, in which blessing to all nations was promised, calling that seed in Isaac, giving him circumcision as an outward seal of it, his following the call of God into a strange land, his offering up his only Son, as at large in Genesis. See those in several [p.76] places by our Savior and his apostles quoted and alluded to, as the certain and infallible oracles of God (Heb. 11; Rom. 4; Gal. 3) with divers more. The like we may say of the passages concerning Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and his brethren, their envy and selling him, God's delivering him, Israel's going into Egypt, their affliction there, God's deliverance of them, his judgments on Pharaoh, his leading his people through the sea and wilderness, his giving the law by the hand of Moses, their evil manners, and his judgments on them in the wilderness, his bringing their seed into Canaan, giving them judges and afterwards kings, the erecting him a house by Solomon, &c., Acts 7 with 1 Cor. 10:1-11 and divers others, and so the whole law and the prophets as the witness of Jesus, and God's righteousness in him, was held forth in them (Rom. 3:21), how oft and severally they are in the whole and in each part alluded to by our Savior and the apostles, would be a work too long in this place, <407> otherwise it might be showed as to every particular of the narrative doctrinal part of their writings and prophecies; and not only so, but likewise in their predictions of things to come; some discovered to be accomplished, as they said they should come, at Matt. 1:22-23; Acts 26:22-23. Others more distinctly and fully opened and assured to be accomplished in the second appearing of Jesus Christ, as Acts 3:20-21; 1 Cor. 15:54. So Ezekiel's, Daniel's, Zachariah's, Haggai's, and other prophecies alluded to and opened to John in his revelation, as might be seen by comparing them; our Savior and the apostles have so directed us to all those which through God's merciful providence are preserved to us, as such, of all the things written aforetime.
Secondly, those following narrations and declarations of the mystery, as now come forth and manifested in Christ; which were given us from the mouth and person of Christ, the great Shepherd, and confirmed and left on record to us by them that heard him and were of the first and immediate trusters in him, as so manifested, and received their whole word and doctrine immediately from him (as Heb. 2:3; Eph. 1:9-12; John 17:6,8-18; Acts 1; Gal. 1; 1 Cor. 15). Those also are the same and no other that were foretold and prophesied of, as so to come forth on the appearance or coming of the Messiah; not only in respect of the declarations, but in respect of the declarers also, as Isa. 40. There is a clear prophecy of the forerunner and of his work and message (vers. 3-8). Then in the following verses, of the more full coming forth of the glorious gospel by Jesus Christ and his apostles.
So Isa. 44:26, "He shall confirm the word of his servant, and perform the counsel of his messengers"; with apt allusion to which, see Heb. 2:3; [p.77] speaking of the great salvation, he saith, "which began to be preached by the Lord himself," who is that servant (Isa. 42:1) "and was confirmed by them that heard him," which were his messengers or apostles for obedience to the faith among all nations (Rom. 1:5). So Isa. 8 speaking prophetically of the first personal appearing of the Messiah, both in that chapter and chap. 7:14, and how therein he should be born of a virgin, &c. And then be also a stone of stumbling and rock of offense to both houses of Israel, as he was in that his appearing, coming in such a despicable manner as they looked not for.
With reference to that time he saith the testimony of him should be bound up among his disciples, the law or doctrine, sealed and continued among them, and so by them, and in their records to us, all nations since, as appears in that, with reference to that testimony and doctrine so bound up and sealed among them, he by and by admonisheth us, "To the law and to the testimony with every spirit, if they speak not according to that word it is because there is no light in them." And it <408> farther appears it is to be applied to his immediate disciples in his personal ministration, and to those that were immediately begotten by him and received their message and furniture immediately from him, in that concerning himself and them together, he saith, "Behold, I and the children which God hath given me are for signs and wonders in Israel"; which in like expressions is peculiarly applied to those apostles that peculiarly and immediately was given him out of the world for children (John 17:6,8,18 and 21:5). And so he and they together in their ministration and records left and set forth as it were men appointed to death. For they are made a spectacle to the world, to angels, to men, &c. (1 Cor. 4:9).
Likewise otherwhere they are prophesied of, as to the nation or family of which they should proceed (even of the Jews) that should bring the last and fullest revelation of the gospel unto all nations, "That they should be of the tabernacles of David that should be reared up among the Gentiles" (Amos 9:11 with Acts 15:13, &c.). "That saviors should come upon Mount Zion, to judge the mount of Esau," Obad. last: so saith our Savior also, "Salvation is of the Jews"; the gospel came entirely and wholly out from them, and was by them brought to the Gentiles (1 Tim. 3:16); nor are we to listen to or wait for any new or farther revelation to be given forth in the time of this mortality or from the Gentiles, for the word of the Lord came not nor cometh first or immediately from them, but to them only (1 Cor. 14:36-37).
And that these Scriptures of the prophets written aforetime, and commandments of the apostles of our Lord and Savior, are the infallible [p.78 misnumbered 76] and certain oracles of God, which his righteousness is engaged to accompany, preserve, and manage, as thus come forth, we are assured, and helped to understand, know, and believe.
1. Through the lively and powerful demonstration of Jesus Christ in that he hath done, doth and will do, and God's glory in him, in, through, and according to the testimony of him there left on record, which is the vision of all visions, the end, sum, and scope of all Scriptures (Isa. 28:12,16 and 29:11 with Rom. 3:21; John 5:39).
Through that discovery of Christ in himself, and his glorious perfections, and God's love in him, in, through, and according to the scriptures, he hath opened our understandings to see the truth, goodness, and majesty, the harmony and agreement of the Scriptures, in and according to which the testimony of him hath been evidently demonstrated, and the virtues and efficacies of him as so testified, proved by us, through which demonstration of, and glorifying Christ, through and according to them, he hath opened our understandings and strengthened our hearts in the belief and reverence of the holy Scriptures, even of <409> them all, though happily we have had few, if any of them, particularly inspired, or shined upon us; yet if so, notwithstanding through such demonstration of Christ, &c., as before, our hearts are begotten to such reverence and esteem of the truth, goodness and excellency of all his sayings so that we have believed his testimonies concerning all things to be right and worthy to be waited upon and relied on for instruction in all matters according to the import of them, even where yet we see not (who hath given us so faithful a witness concerning himself and his Father in him), even as the words of God and not of men, the commandments of the everlasting God. Like as we read Luke 24:44-46, while our Savior opened unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself, then and therein opened he their understandings to understand the Scriptures, and then they believed the Scriptures and the things which Jesus had said (John 2:22); yea, it is the way and method God hath proposed to himself to walk in, especially in these last ages, to teach all things and lead into all truth (and so into this) in the demonstration of Jesus, or of his goodness that is in and through him (John 16:13-14; Eph. 2:21-22). To give all things with him, whom he hath not spared but delivered up for us all (Rom. 8:32), even all things pertaining to life and godliness (where the gospel comes) through the knowledge of him (2 Pet. 1:3). For God that spake at sundry times and in divers manners in times past unto the fathers hath now spoken in these last days by his Son, &c., nor hath appointed any other sign to be of continuance to the world's end for confirmation of the truth, goodness, and majesty of his words as once [p.79 misnumbered 77] delivered to the saints, and given forth, and left on record, and once also confirmed with signs and miracles in the first publication and coming forth of it; I say, he hath appointed no other sign to be of continuance for confirmation of his words, but the sign of the prophet Jonas, the cross of Christ, with the presence of the Spirit for demonstration of it, in and according to the preaching given, and so of all things, even of the excellency of the words in which it's preached in, and by it; that cross of Christ in and according to that preaching of it already given, though it be to them that have perished from the faith become foolishness, yet to them that are saved that is the power of God, that the wisdom of God. And there is more wisdom and power in it, even for begetting and confirming faith of the truth, authority and excellency of his words, than in all the wisdom and strength of man (1 Cor. 1:18-25).
So that by faith, which only centers in Christ Jesus as declared in the Scriptures, even in his blood, we believe that the Scriptures are the word of God, even they as spoken out by the one mouth of the prophets and apostles, as before, and so are therein built upon the foundation <410> which they themselves, the prophets and apostles were built upon and have laid as wise master builders for others, which is Jesus Christ himself, who is also the chief cornerstone, he by whom the walls are joined together, and both Jew and Gentile have access by one Spirit unto the Father (Eph. 2:16,20 with 1 Cor. 3:9-11).
2. We are also farther helped to understand, know, and believe that these Scriptures are the certain and infallible oracles of God, &c. (as before) by divers secondary arguments, which likewise are evidenced to be true, opened and made useful to us for our own confirmation, and for the convincing gainsayers, in and by the demonstration of Jesus Christ, and God's goodness in him, through and according to the Scriptures; as to mention some,
1) The harmony and agreement of them from first to last, as through that testimony of Jesus it is showed, demonstrated, and opened, so as the believing receiver of that testimony is helped to see it and enabled thereby to discover it. That they are all right, even pure, clean without clashings or contradictions, righteous altogether (Ps. 19:8-9). All the words of his mouth (as spoken out by the one mouth of prophets and apostles) are in righteousness, there is nothing froward or perverse in them, nothing wreathed or crooked. They are all plain or straight before him that understandeth, and right to them that find knowledge (Prov. 8:8-9). Those indeed that reject or slight that key of knowledge, the testimony of Jesus and of God's mercy and truth as met in him for the opening all other [p.80] things contained in the Scriptures, may use this as an argument, but themselves destroy the validity of it, for they cannot see the straightness and agreement of his words, but set them together by the ears, and being unlearned and unstable in the great things of his doctrine, do necessarily pervert things hard to be understood and mangle the word of God to their own destruction (Isa. 28:12-13; 2 Pet. 3:16). But the word of God is true from the beginning and demonstrates its excellency of truth, rightness, and harmony from the original of it (the testimony of Jesus, which is the Spirit of prophecy), and every one of his righteous judgments endureth forever. "He that believeth shall neither make haste nor be ashamed" (Ps. 119:160; Isa. 28:16 with 1 Pet. 2:6-7).
2. All things standing and continuing to this day according to the ordinances therein set them (Ps. 119:89-91).
3. Their perfect and acute declaring the end from the beginning, as in their several times they have come and do come to pass (Isa. 46:9-10 with chap. 41:22-23 and 43:12; John 16:4 with chap 14:25-26; 2 Pet. 1:12-13 to the end, with chap. 3:1-3, 1 Tim. 4:1; Matt. 24:25). We might have demonstrated the truth and validity of these arguments in divers instances to each of them, but it would make this work too tedious. <411> I am ready by God's grace to do it, when it shall be required by any.
I might also have mentioned many more secondary arguments of like import which God himself useth, for confirming and strengthening the believer and furnishing him to stop the mouths of gainsayers, with that faithful word, but I forbear.
In these Scriptures of truth God hath written to us excellent things in counsels and knowledge, that he might make us know the certainty of the words of truth, that our trust may be in the Lord according to them, and that we may have them to answer all sent to us, with Prov. 22:17-21. In them hath he made known the mystery of his will, the whole counsel of God, that is to be or may be revealed unto mortal men, even in those Scriptures that Timothy had been instructed into, and known from his youth (2 Tim. 3:15-17; Eph. 1:9; Acts 20:27; Rom. 6:25-26). But then also,
3. For bringing this teaching of God contained in these books near unto us in a way suitable to our need and weakness, God hath provided another expedient, namely,
By giving gifts to men (in the hearty belief of his testimony, and receiving the love of it so as to save them, though yet they are of like passions and infirmities with others, yet therein furnished them with) such [p.81] gifts as may be for the profit of others, to every one of those that are in any measure truly or thoroughly reconciled to God by Jesus Christ, is given grace, some gracious gift for the benefit of others; the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every one of them, even some distinct understanding of the Spirit's testimony concerning Christ, so as they are helped to discern and know what God hath given them in Christ; and this for the profit of others, that they may each according to his measure be useful one to another, and to others, through the Spirit in administering some gift, for teaching, opening, or stirring up in the grace of God, Jesus Christ now being ascended on high; and having received all immeasurable fullness of gifts in the man, and for men, that in or through the dispensation of them, men might be prepared for habitations of God. "He hath given these gifts to men, some apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to perfect or furnish the saints, for the work of their ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come in the unity of the faith and knowledge of the Son of God unto a perfect man," &c. (Ps. 68:18; Eph. 4:7-11, &c.; 1 Cor. 12:7, &c.). And so the apostle Peter said of that which they spake, and others heard that that was of those gifts which Christ had received on the right hand of his Father and did then shed forth (Acts 2:16,33). Though the gifts be diverse, yet all given by that one and the self-same Spirit that lifts up and glorifies Christ, according to <412> the faithful record (1 Cor. 12; Rom. 12). Yea, all those gifts distributed and set in the church since the first apostles, who also opened the prophets and were last in respect of that their peculiar office or work, of giving another manner of and fuller revelation of the gospel than had been given before, and that for obedience to the faith among all nations for his name; I say all gifts distributed and given unto believers since, who through their word believe; they are for the comparing and opening Scriptures, or showing the things of Jesus Christ to others by and according to them, and to what is written and already revealed in them. The holy Scriptures (especially, as now completed since the dispensation of the fullness of times, came forth by the apostles) "being able to make wise to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus," &c. And thoroughly to furnish the believer to all his service in exercise of those gifts he hath received from God for the profit of others.
Thirdly, we come now to consider how or wherein any may be said to deny the alone sufficiency of God's teaching; surely that may be seen in the former considerations.
1. That they deny the alone sufficiency of God's teaching, that either deny the Lord that bought them or acknowledge and confess him not [p.82] according to the testimony God hath given of him; do not lift him up or magnify him in his cross, with the ends and virtues thereof, as declared in the apostles' doctrine, as the ground and foundation of all faith and hope, the matter of our song, the fountain of all our teaching, do not acknowledge that vision of God in Christ to be indeed as now revealed, the vision of all visions, and sufficient in the light and power of God, in and with it to teach and open all doctrine and lead into all truth; I say, such do therein deny the alone sufficiency of God's teaching, that being, as before, the summary matter of his teaching and the way of his teaching all things and leading into all truth.
2. They that deny, slight, or throw by the holy Scriptures, either in their authority, or clearness, certainty, agreement, truth, or sufficiency, as not being able to make wise to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus, and thoroughly to furnish the man of God to all his service, &c. (as before) without some additional helps of men's learning or art, or without the imaginations of their own spirit or some other spirit than what is in and with them, to give the meaning and lead to the use of them, they that come not up to those sound words, as delivered by them that have spoken to us in the name of the Lord, in which the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith, as it is written: they to whom the pen of the scribe is in vain, for opening and interpreting the mind or meaning of the Holy Ghost; what wisdom is in them? surely they have therein rejected the word of the Lord, while they render <413> that as a dead letter, and so vain and empty, fallible and uncertain, without the addition of their gloss or fancy, which they have not seen, heard, or met with in that word of the truth of the gospel; and therefore not by the Spirit (Jer. 8:8-9; Col. 2:18).
3. They also that despise and slight, as fleshly and of man, the instruments and means of God's appointing the posts or pillars of his setting up, for these his teachings to be conveyed and brought near unto us, in, or by and for us to wait upon him in (Prov. 8:34 & 9:3; Zach. 7:9-12; 2 Tim. 4:1-5), "They despise not man but God, who hath also given us of his Holy Spirit" (1 Thess. 4:2,8). They are sensual, what spirituality soever they pretend, not having the Spirit (Jude 19; 1 John 2:18-19; Heb. 10:24-25).
And of this sort I fear they are that had a hand in the forementioned queries. But hoping some of them may not yet be given up to delusion, and however for the benefit of those that desired it, and of others, I shall yet add something farther, in answer to the queries (many of them being answered in this already said).
[p.83] 1st Query, "What and where that new Jerusalem is, which John saw come down from heaven," &c. (Rev. 21).
Answ. 1) It appears not yet come down in or unto you; for you profess yet to be travailing with pain and grief of heart, and bowels yearning for the miseries others are like, in your apprehensions, to fall into. And that Christ might be formed in them. But though such pity, pain and grief, towards objects in misery (or in evil ways leading to it) as you pretend, be in truth in the hearts of such as indeed love the Lord Jesus Christ (and hold fast his name and grace therein) in the time of this mortality, yet in that new Jerusalem, when come down from heaven, there shall be no more crying, pain, nor tears, they shall be all wiped away. All former miseries and occasions of weeping shall be forgotten (Isa. 25:6-9; Rev. 21:4). They shall even rejoice when they see the smoke of their torment rise up forever, whom before they pitied (Rev. 19:2-7, with chap. 14:2-3,10-11).
2) But for farther answer, it is not yet come down from God out of heaven unto any. It is yet as our life is, "hid with Christ in God"; when Christ who is our life shall appear then shall we appear with him and be like him in glory. That it is not yet come down from God out of heaven (though believers by faith do come unto it, in and through the gospel, especially as now come forth, Heb. 12:22). This appears,
(i) In that it's showed in the vision then to come, when he makes new heavens and new earth and all things new (Rev. 21:1-5), which are things that he will make (not hath made), Isa. 66:22. And which all believers in this corruptible state of the world, all the time of their mortality, <414> are yet looking and waiting for (2 Pet. 3:12-14; Tit. 2:12-13; Phil. 3:21; 1 Thess. 1:10; Isa. 25:8-9), not here enjoyed by way of actual possession by any of them. But Jesus Christ in that which he hath done and is become for them with the Father, as preached in the gospel to every man, being received by faith, is even so in them and to them the hope of glory, the ground and foundation of the hope of things, not yet sensibly enjoyed or possessed (Col. 1:27-28 with Rom. 8:19,24-25; Heb. 11:1), yea in a sense the thing hoped for, as in respect of his second personal appearance on the earth, which shall be in the glory of his Father and with his holy angels. Then and thereby do they look for an accomplishment of those glorious promises of the new heaven and new earth, and the new Jerusalem coming down from God out of heaven, and of all things restored or made new by him (Acts 3:21-22; Rev. 21:5; Phil. 3:21). When he shall also bring all that sleep in Jesus with him (1 Thess. 4:14,16; 2 Thess. 2:1-2, with chap 1:6-7, &c.; 2 Tim. 4:8; Rev. 20:4,6).
[p.84] (ii) It farther appears that it is not yet come down from heaven in or to any persons because in it there is no death, pain or mortality, but in and amongst the best of believers here, even while the spirit is made alive for righteousness sake (delivered from the condemnation and bondage of the law by the body of Christ in the discovery of it, even by the law, doctrine and power of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, and so quickened to a new and living hope, and so also in desires and affections through the resurrection of Christ, as Rom. 7:4 and 8:2-4; 1 Pet. 1:3; 1 John 3:3), yet the body is dead because of sin (Rom. 8:10), yea besides these mortalities, there is infirmities and passions of the mind, through remainders of the old man, yet in their members warring, though through Jesus Christ they get victory daily (Rom. 7:23-24), yea in many things they all offend (James 3:2; 1 John 1:1,8,10). And so there is with these mortalities yet upon them, which are the fruit of sin, and as a remembrance of it, there is, I say, with them particular chastisements and corrections for sin, of which they are made partakers, as there is found in them sins against light and grace committed, needing discovery and purgation (1 Cor. 11:30-32; Heb. 12:4-5,11). Their bodies are yet vile, both their particular personal bodies and their societies also; they are not yet made glorious, without spot or wrinkle. But he shall in that day, when Jerusalem comes down from heaven, so present them, compare Phil. 3:21 with Eph. 5:26-27. He is therefore now all this day washing them, that he may in the issue so present them with his likeness in the morning of the resurrection, as the issues and virtues of his sufferings (Ps. 17:ult.; Rev. 14:1-5 and 7:12-17; 1 John 3:1-3).
2nd Query: "What and where that Zion is?" (Isa. 2; Mich. 4. &c.)
<415> Answ. The former answer may serve for answer to this also, Zion and Jerusalem being so near akin as they are in those scriptures mentioned, and in Heb. 12:22. For though as in those scriptures the law, doctrine, or word of the Lord, do now come from thence to the nations, and they that with the heart believe or receive that word do by faith come unto it and are made of it in such believing, yea do so come forth of its waters that it's truly said Jerusalem that is above is the mother of them all; yet it's still Jerusalem above, even to them, and not come down (as is showed before), Gal. 4:26. Yea farther,
Though in this day we have a first fruits of the Spirit, in performance of those promises, yet the fullness and harvest of that, and the redemption of the body, and things pertaining more properly thereto, we wholly wait for and are not yet possessors of: the nations are yet learning war, whereas when those promises are accomplished, they shall learn war no more, [p.85] neither is the enmity removed out of, nor bondage of corruption taken off from the creatures, as is promised then to be fully and clearly accomplished (compare with those scriptures, Isa. 11; Rom. 8:19-25; Acts 3:20-21) according to the ends and virtues of Christ having made peace by the blood of his cross (Col. 1:20; Heb. 2:5,8-9).
3rd Query. "What and where that covenant is?" (Jer. 31:33-34; Heb. 8:10-12, &c.)
Ans. 1. In respect of the foundation, ground, and assurance of it. It is Jesus Christ himself, as raised from the dead, and exalted, and glorified in our nature in his own personal body, by and with the virtue of his sufferings, the most glorious presence of God in the heavens (compare Isa. 55:3-4 with Acts 13:34; Heb. 4:14 and 8:1-10).
2. In respect of the matter of it, or promises in it, "They also are all in him yea, and in him Amen" (2 Cor. 1:20), given us through, sealed in, and the way for coming forth made by his blood, yea so given into him and into him inseparably that they may be given only with him, in and through the knowledge of himself, and so received by faith in the receiving him by faith, and so it's a covenant made and sure in him with all the seed, viz., those that come to God by him, now I say, now made with them, in the giving him in the knowledge and faith of him, in what he hath done and is become, and in the ends and virtues thereof for a covenant to the people, and in some first fruits of the Spirit performed also (Rom. 8:32; 2 Pet. 1:3-4; Isa. 41:6 and 55:3-4). But,
3. In respect of the performance of it, in the harvest or fullness of those spiritual blessings we have in Christ, and the redemption of the body, &c. by Christ, it is yet to be waited for, even all the time of this mortality, and till he come (as before), as may be seen in the scriptures <416> forecited, and also in comparing Hab. 2:2-4 with Heb. 10:35-38. In the beginning of which chapter he also mentions the same covenant as made and sure in Christ to all that come to God by him, and to be so made with all the Israel of God, yet with reference to it again, in this latter end of the chapter, with allusion to that of Habakkuk, he signifies yet a time for the exercise of faith and patience, in doing and suffering according to the will of God, before the promises in their performance or accomplishment shall be received, that vision of God in which they shall be revealed in the accomplishment being the second and glorious appearance of Jesus Christ in our nature, which is yet to be waited for (compare the Scriptures). Habakkuk saith, "The vision shall surely come." The epistle to the Hebrews saith, "He shall come, &c. But the just shall live and be preferred to that day, through faith, kept by the power of God through faith and [p.86] the salvation ready to be revealed in the last time"; he is all this day in a spiritual first-fruits, writing his law in their hearts, in the demonstration of his Son, and his grace in him, and that in and through those means forementioned. But while they are here, that being not fully done, nay, but in a little first fruits, they imperfect in everything as to attainment, not knowing as they are known, &c., they have therefore need still of all those means, instruments and helps for the doing of it, or having it done in them, in which himself hath appointed, in and with the demonstration of his Son, to be present for the working it in them more and more unto the perfect day; and so of the helps and instrumental teaching of one another, but then they shall know as they are known, and that all of them from the least to the greatest, and therefore shall not need, &c. Yea then shall their iniquity be so perfectly blotted out, as Acts 3:19-20 as to be no more remembered any more by any remainder of it, or its fruits upon them; whereas in this day, there is a remembrance of it, as we have showed before. Then shall he perfectly and totally redeem Israel from all his iniquities, that to be waited for (Ps. 130).
Truly this covenant is violated or broken (as Isa. 24:5) by such as tread underfoot the blood of it, count it as a common thing as if of no more or other virtue as to any covenant of remission and peace than like sufferings of other persons (Heb. 10:29), do willfully after knowledge of the truth received reject and turn from that sacrifice, or draw back, being proudly lifted up above the reading the whole vision of God in the face of Jesus Christ, where it's written, that it may be read, that so they may run to the end, insolently boasting of it, even in respect of performance, as a thing made and accomplished in them in this day (compare Hab. 2:4 with Heb. 10:26-38 and 2 Tim. 2:18).
4th Query: "Where and what that anointing is (1 John 2:21-27), <417> and whether it be not the same in these days to them that have it?"
Answ. It is in and upon him that one person of God and of man, Jesus that was of Nazareth, it is in him in our nature immeasurably (John 1:14 and 3:34), and for us, "Him God hath anointed with the oil of gladness above his fellows" (Ps. 45:1-7). "In him it hath pleased the Father all fullness should dwell, even the fullness of the Godhead bodily" (Col. 1:19 and 2:9). "Yea in him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Col. 2:2). "In him is God's name" (Exod. 23:21). The revelation or manifestation of his glory to the sons of men, as well as his power, authority, and majesty (as he is anointed with both, Acts 10:38; John 1:18 and 8:12 and 12:44,46; 2 Cor. 4:5-6), which name of God as in him is that precious ointment poured forth, by and through him (Cant. 1:3). And so it's [p.87] explicated in that 1 John 2:20-27 where it's clear that that which is called the unction (vers. 20) and the anointing (vers. 27) is the same that is called "the truth" (vers. 21), intimately, the testimony of Jesus, in which he is declared to be the Christ, the Anointed One, the Son of God, the Savior of the world; and so the Father's name declared in him, verse 22-23, which is the summary and fundamental matter of God's teaching (as is foreshowed), expressly it is called, vers. 24. That which they had heard from the beginning, the word of the truth of the gospel, even the word of the beginning of Christ, which what it is, is explicated (1 Cor. 15:14). The sum of the gospel concerning Christ, which they had first and always preached, as that in the heart-mindfulness or remembrance of which the believer is saved, or preserved from every evil word and work and way. The sum of which is concerning the death and resurrection of Christ, and God's glory appearing in him, the same is here meant by the things heard from the beginning called the anointing, as appears in that (like as in that of 1 Cor. 15, so here) he saith, verse 26, that he writes these things to them concerning them that seduce them, to direct them how to be preserved from them, namely by giving earnest heed to that anointing, the things heard from the beginning, as likewise Paul to Timothy in a like case, "Evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived, but continue thou in the things that thou hast learned and been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them," &c. (2 Tim. 3:13-15). Surely the testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of prophecy (Rev. 19:10), whence Paul directs Timothy, as the way in which he might be helped with understanding in all things, ever to remember "that Jesus Christ of the seed of David, was raised from the dead according to his gospel." And this anointing, this light of the Lord, this glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, is certainly the same, for that preaching of it was given by those great apostles for the <418> obedience of faith unto all nations (Rom. 1:1-5 and 16:25-26). The dispensation of the fullness of times, &c. (Eph. 1:10). And of the same virtue and quality that ever it was for teaching all things, and leading into all truth, it being the arm or power of God to the saving whosoever believeth, for therein is the righteousness of God revealed, &c. (Rom. 1:16-17). So that believers still need no man or spirit's teaching that teacheth otherwise than as that anointing teacheth them of all things, and as that hath taught them, even as they have heard from the beginning, so they are exhorted in the next verses to abide in him. It will never teach another thing, or reveal God's glory in another manner. They have also therein need and encouragement diligently to heed and attend more to the same in and through all means vouchsafed.
[p.88] 5th Query: "What and where that Comforter is?" &c. (John 16).
Ans. He is the Holy Spirit of truth, proceeding from the Father and the Son in his light, influences, and operation. Therein thus distinguished from other spirits he takes of the things of Jesus and glorifies him, he lifts up the Son of Man as already come in the flesh and now received up into glory in man's nature; this he commends and lifts up, according to the apostles' doctrine and God's glory herein (as is showed before) for reproving and enlightening the world and for teaching and leading the believer into all truth (John 16:8-10,13-14 with chap. 15:26-27 and chap. 3:14-16; 1 John 4:1-6) as before more at large in the discourse about the matter and manner of the Father's teaching. And this Spirit as in his essence he dwells in the person of Christ, in whom dwells not only the fullness of God but of the Godhead bodily; so in these his instructing and reproving influences, he is in the gospel, he goes forth to men in and with the testimony of Jesus, with whom God gives all things pertaining to life and godliness, even through the knowledge of him.
6th Query: "Whether any of the servants of God may expect to receive his word from his own mouth immediately, as all the messengers of God in all ages did? or whether no other word is now to be heard in books, which God spake to others?"
Ans. First, all the messengers of God in former ages did not receive the word in a like manner immediately from God, not Paul and Timothy; Paul neither received it of man, neither was he taught it but by the revelation of Jesus Christ; God was pleased to give in, or into him an immediate and full revelation of his Son (even of the whole gospel of his Son, that he might preach him among the Gentiles, Gal. 2:12,16), which revelation of the whole gospel he had from the person of the Son of God immediately, or in such manner without the help of men as instruments, that he was therein fitted to be one of those great <419> apostles, to give forth the last and fullest revelation of the gospel to all nations for the obedience of faith, having both seen the Lord, and received the word immediately from himself, as they did, though born out of due time thereto (1 Cor. 9:1 & 15:8-9, &c.).
Not to Timothy, for he heard and learned his doctrine mediately even of the apostle Paul, and so by the evidence and demonstration of the Spirit through his doctrine and ministration, and so also his gifts and fitness for his service, by the laying on of his hands, &c. (2 Tim. 1:13 & 2:1-2 & 3:14-15; 1 Tim. 4:11-16).
So likewise the Thessalonians, from whom sounded the word of God [p.89] to many others (1 Thess. 1:8). They themselves received it mediately through the apostle's doctrine and ministration, through such demonstration of the Spirit as accompanied the word which they heard of them; see 1 Thess. 1:5, &c., and 2:13, &c.
Secondly, none since may expect in this day to receive it so immediately as Paul did, but mediately through their word, both the message and fitness to declare it. This appears,
1. In that they are said to be the apostles last, in respect of such immediate furniture and mission (1 Cor. 4:9 and 15:8) whence also they were to give the revelation of the mystery for obedience to the faith among all nations (as well then to come as then in being). And if any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, to render himself such, he is to acknowledge that the things they, the apostles and prophets have written, are the commandments of the Lord, and not any other word that may come to him or from him (Rom. 16:25-26; 1 Cor. 14:36-37; 2 Pet. 3:2-3).
2. It farther appears in that our Savior prays for sanctifying to, and blessing on the ministration of no other since those immediate messengers. But such as shall believe on him through their word (John 17:20).
Neither is any other word to be heard, listened to, or received by us as the word of God, but that so already spoken by immediate inspiration and commission, by the one mouth of his holy apostles and prophets, and what comes up thereto: all spirits are to be tried by it (1 John 4:6; 1 Tim. 6:3). Before we pass from this query, note the inconsistency of their professed principles and practices, and the secret wickedness discovered in it. In the query they signify that none ought to hear any other word in books that God spake to others, but only what himself hath immediately received from God's own mouth; and yet they write these queries to such as they look upon as people deluded, drawn from their Guide, and so far from having received God's immediate teaching, or submitting to it, or waiting for it, that they judge them fit to be given up for rebellion, and not only these and divers such <420> papers, but their printed books and papers are very numerous, and are generally dispersed by them to all people, with earnest pressing them to read them. It appears by comparing what they say and do that their meaning is not to take us from reading books generally, for they would have us read, more than ever, such as they disperse and commend; only they desire to take us off from reading such books as do indeed contain in them matter spoken by God to others, as the holy Scriptures and what in any measure truly comes up thereto.
[p.90] Surely, "They are wiser in their generation than the children of light," for they know, should we diligently read and mind the holy Scriptures, we should be therein strengthened to discern them and their books so as to throw them by as needless and unclean: therefore they first and openly cry out against all books and reading (that so they may include or take in the holy Scriptures, and whatever is suitable thereto, against which is their only design), the evil spirit in them well knowing that men are very apt to conceive some light esteem of or distaste at the Scriptures and what is consonant to them (because that is always reproving them and testifying their wisdom, works, and lusts to be vain and evil) especially when they are encouraged thereto, under pretense of spirituality and higher notions, and yet with such secret promise of liberty or exalting something as is suitable to their proper lusts; and if they once be moved to slight those books and so the things heard from the beginning, they will of themselves inquire after and not be taken off from those books and novelties, through which they were first persuaded to such light estimate of the Scriptures, under pretense of taking them off from men and books, &c. When once the ear is turned from hearing the truth or the heart brought to disrelish sound doctrine, then it is easily turned aside to fables, and the same evil spirit will secretly (while he cries out against hearing men and reading books) allow them heaps of teachers and books too, and direct them not only to hear and read but to worship them, in which the truth of those scriptures (excellent to this purpose) are verified (Col. 2:18-19; 2 Tim. 4:1-4).
7th Query: "Whether any may wait for the fulfilling of that promise (Isa. 54:13; John 6), and whether that teaching be sufficient?" &c.
Ans. To the first part of this query I answer, They that know his name will trust in him and wait for the certain fulfilling of all his gracious promises in his own time and way, for they are all "Yea, and Amen" in Christ; and the performance of them coming forth with him, according to the manner of God's giving him, who is now given virtually and spiritually, and in the testimony of him mediately, and so all God's teachings in and with him, but shall in his time appear personally and visibly, and then all things with him in like manner gloriously and <421> immediately in fullness and glory. He that believeth makes not haste (Rom. 8:32; 2 Pet. 1:3; Eph. 1:17; Col. 3:4; 1 Cor. 13:12; Rom. 8:18; 1 John 3; Isa. 28:16). In answer to the second part of this query I add, that I suppose here the man had forgotten his inscription or dedication, for there he directs his queries only to them that deny the alone sufficiency of God's teaching, and yet here makes it one of his queries whether they do [p.91] so or no; or else if these queries were framed, as is thought, by some of a more subtle pate than his whose hand is at them, then this with some other tautologies and significations of weakness in the inditer may be looked upon as done of purpose to keep us from thinking that any of their grandees had a hand in it; but be it as it will, it is a blemish to their pretense of being immediately guided by an infallible spirit; yea, it signifies their spirit to be both forgetful and not understanding what it saith nor whereof it affirms; as well as also their propounding so many confused queries, and in such manner, without laying down anything plainly by way of position, signifies their spirit to be fearful of discovering his principles (if he have any), lest he should not be able to manage them, or lest presently discovering them and endeavoring to manage them, he should spoil his design at first. And surely I could have passed over more weakness in expressions, without such notice of it, if it had not been a little necessary on this account, to show the vanity of their pretense of immediate revelation from God's Spirit, and being furnished to and acted in all by it. It is none of the character of Jesus Christ, but of the foolish woman: her ways are movable, that thou canst not know them, and therefore movable, lest thou shouldest ponder the path of life (Prov. 5:6); yea, this also is mainly to be observed in her instruments: they are proud yet knowing nothing, always doting about questions and strife of words, &c. (1 Tim. 6:4). Whereas on the other hand, the servants of Christ by his Spirit have been always led in all lowliness of mind, not to commend or preach themselves, but Jesus Christ the Lord; and therein to testify of him what they did know in the plain demonstration of the Spirit, even in words which the Holy Ghost taught them, that they might propound and lay down somewhat for the feeding and profit of others, as 2 Cor. 5:12-15 & 4:5-6, whose word therein was not yea and nay, but in him (even in the demonstration of Christ, and the things of him) was yea (2 Cor. 1:18-19; 1 Tim. 4:6-8,11,16; 2 Tim. 2:15-16,23-24; Tit. 2:11-15; 2 Tim. 3:14-17 & 4:1-5).
For direct answer to this part of the query I shall add nothing here but refer the reader to the answer to his inscription where I have fully given my testimony to the alone sufficiency of God's teaching.
8th Query: "What and where that word is that people should hear behind them, and where that teacher is? &c. (Isa. 30:20-21)."
<422> Ans. 1. That word mentioned (vers. 21) is now in the testimony of Jesus the Lord, as he hath been delivered to death for our offenses and raised for our justification, and is received up into glory, as that testimony is now come forth in full, since the ascension of Jesus Christ, for though [p.92] God did speak in divers manners unto the fathers by the prophets, yet he hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, &c. (Heb. 1:1-2), and the Spirit of God in this dispensation of the fullness of times teacheth all things and leads into all truth, by taking of the things of Jesus and showing them according to the testimony now come forth and so opening and making use of them in and unto every case and matter (as is before more largely showed); yea this word then was no other but the same light, teaching and direction of the Lord, which also then was in and did issue forth in and through that testimony or witness of Jesus the Lord and God's righteousness in him, as that testimony was then come forth, which was witnessed in the law and the prophets (Rom. 3:21), yea preached from the beginning. And hence (having reference to the eighteenth verse of that Isa. 30) it is there fully signified to be met with in waiting for the Lord, yea it is plainly expressed as part of the privilege of them that, through his goodness and forbearance to manward in which he waits that he may be gracious, are overcome to wait for him, to have all their teaching, light, and direction from him, as he was then witnessed, and their enjoyment of promises in and by him; whence that Isa. 2:5, "O house of Jacob come ye, and let us walk in the light of the Lord." That testimony of Jesus being indeed the vision of all visions, the Spirit of prophecy (Isa. 29:11 with chap. 28:12,16; Rev. 19:10).
2. To the second part of the query, What that teacher is (mentioned vers. 20) which should be in the midst of them, &c. For answer to this we must take leave to mind our querist of his mistake of the words of the Scripture to which he alludes, it being a material mistake. To which doubtless that Spirit that breathed forth those words by the prophet would not have led him, but some lying spirit, that under pretense of bringing Scripture would pervert it and steal away from us the word of the Lord, and that we may not discern him makes it a matter of reproach to look into books, to search the Scripture whether those things be so or no, as he presents them to our imagination; the word in the text is (in the plural number) teachers, which he renders, that teacher; and thine eyes shall see, for that which he renders thus, it should be in the midst of them, the words are thus, "Though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet shall not thy teachers be removed into a corner any more, but thine eyes shall see thy teachers." And where those teachers are, the text tells (viz.): present with them, and before their eyes, even now in the days of their adversity, while the person of <423> the Lord, the fountain of their teaching for whom they wait, is personally absent from them (as 2 Cor. 5:6) and not seen by them (as 1 Pet. [p.93] 1:8), yet from him they enjoy this benefit that do wait for him, as the influences of the light of his testimony and grace that bringeth salvation to all men. "Their eyes shall see their teachers"; surely those are the several and various instruments and means of teaching that he affordeth them, which are all his works and providences about them in all mercies and chastisements, yea in their very adversities; as also his records and servants, whatever he is doing about them or vouchsafing to them, "their eyes shall see their teachers" in all these things; whence Elihu admonishing Job to consider, Who teacheth like God? who hath enjoined him his way? &c., calls upon him to see that he magnify his work, that men behold, every man may see it (Job 36:22-25), for indeed, all the works of the Lord, and his various providences about us, are instruments by and through which he is conveying his teaching (as before is showed) (Job 33:14-29; Ps. 19 & 107), therefore saith the last verse of that Psalm, "Who is so wise and will observe these things, even they shall understand the loving kindness of the Lord." Blessed therefore are the people that wait for him, even now they shall fare well in the evil time, before they come to sit down in their everlasting rest, when they shall weep no more, even now in this time of their weeping or adversity, whatever God try them with or deprive them of, yet "their eyes shall see their teachers"; they shall meet with instruction from the Lord, and from the testimony of him (the fountain of their teaching) in and through all that is before them, to direct and strengthen them more to turn from dumb idols to serve the living God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, for that grace of God that bringeth salvation to all men (spoken of verse 18) teacheth them in and through all occasions and means which are many, that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, they should live soberly, righteously and godly in this present world, so as waiting for the Lord (Isa. 30:18-19), and then and therein looking for that blessed hope (mentioned in the beginning of verse 19, to dwell in Zion at Jerusalem, and to weep no more), even in the glorious appearing of the mighty God, and our Savior (Tit. 2:11-13; Isa. 35:4-10).
9th Query: "What that word of faith is?" (Rom. 10:6-8).
Ans. That which they did preach, which word did declare the descension and ascension of Christ, not only as the works of God but as then already wrought (vers. 9), and the word declaring them as done in one for all, now come forth to be so believed and acknowledged by them; that word in the preaching of it comes or is made nigh unto men, even in their heart and in their mouth, that in that nigh coming of it through the power in and with it, it might be received, though it is not naturally [p.94] <424> nigh to or in any man, but shineth in the darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not (John 1:5), not otherwise is it, as a habit or indwelling principle in men that believe or mind it not (1 John 5:10; Rom. 1:28).
10th Query: "What that voice of Christ is (John 10), and how they come to know it? And whether his sheep may expect and wait for the same voice now, and to know it from all other?" &c.
Ans. Here are three or four queries in one: to the first the former answer may serve, for that voice of Christ is nothing else but that word which God sent first to Israel and then to all the Gentiles, preaching peace by Jesus Christ, he is Lord of all, which God hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, who began to preach it personally and confirmed it by them that heard him. That in that word, as so delivered, repentance and remission of sins might be preached, not in the name of any other work, thing, or person, but in his name who himself bare our sins in his own body to the tree, that it might be preached to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem, that word of righteousness which the apostles preached and left on record (Luke 24:46-48; Acts 10:36; Heb. 1:1-3 & 2:1-3).
To the second query under this head we answer: It is known by its own light and power, even by the demonstration of Spirit and of power, that is in and with that word as so preached, which lifts up Christ and the glory of God in him, and therein and thereby opens the understanding to understand the truth and goodness of the Scriptures, declaring him (as is showed before) and know his voice therein.
To the third, Whether his sheep may now expect it? &c., we answer, It is already preached and made known to all nations, for the obedience of faith, that in the listening to and receiving it (not as the word of men but as it is indeed the word of God) according as men by its own light and power in its coming to them are enabled, men might be made of the sheep of Christ, in that peculiar sense, and being sheep might be guided by the same; and they that wait for any other voice wait for a delusion, a strange voice, and therein render themselves none of the sheep of Christ.
To the last branch, how it may be known and distinguished from all other, I answer, by its own light and demonstration, that word of God, wherever so received as before, it effectually worketh in them that believe to the discovery of all strange voices, to be strange, by this rule. They lift not up Jesus according to the apostles' doctrine; and to the moving and strengthening them to turn from all such, because they [p.95] know them not (John 10:4-5; 1 John 4:1-6 & 2:20-27).
11th Query: "What that way is? (Isa. 35:8).
Ans. Jesus Christ as delivered to death for our offenses, and raised <425> again for our justification, is the way, the truth, and the life, and no man cometh to the Father but by him (John 14:6). He, that only rest and foundation, propounded and laid by God for the people in the law and prophets (Isa. 28:12,16 with Eph. 2:2,20), and so the way of our approach and access to the Father (vers. 16-18), yea the beginning of all the ways of God; he, in and by whom sinners may now approach for washing through his blood; but they that remain filthy and unclean, still will not suffer themselves to be washed or made free from sin by the Son of Man through the truth now in this day of his grace, shall after be shut out forever and not enter by him through the gates into the city in his second appearing, which shall be only to the salvation of those that through the grace by his first appearing are of the number of lookers for him, were here as travelers, strangers and pilgrims, &c.; they all (and not the unclean) shall then together enter with him into the joy of their Lord, where they shall dwell and walk forever with the Lord in a high broad way, where shall be no straitness nor occasion of stumbling; yea the Lord himself shall be to them a place of broad rivers and streams, where shall go no galley with oars (Isa. 33:20-21; Rev. 21:1-8, 25-27 & 22:1-15; Heb. 9:28).
12th Query: "What that manifestation of the Spirit is which is given to every man to profit withal—and whether there be any profit but by it—and whether it be not of itself an infallible guide? &c.
Ans. To the first part of this query, That manifestation of the Spirit (spoken of 1 Cor. 12:7) is of that one Spirit, that being immeasurably received in the nature of man, in and by that one person of the Son of God, is sent forth in his influences of light and power unto men according to the measure of the gift of Christ; and his manifestation is concerning Christ, as the works are now finished in him and the declaration of him come forth in the gospel, and so of the things of him and the Father's glory in him by which he teacheth all things and leads into all truth (as before is showed). Compare this 1 Cor. 12:7,11 with Eph. 4:7-11 & John 16:13-14, some distinct understanding of which testimony of the Spirit concerning Christ, for some profitable opening or usefulness of it to others, is given to every hearty believing receiver of it. The other parts of this query are in his former queries and sufficiently answered before.
13th Query: "What and where that worship of God in the Spirit is [p.96] truly, &c.—and whether any can worship in Spirit and in truth but those that are born of the Spirit? And whether he that is born of the Spirit needeth any other guide?, &c. And whether such worships hath not been, and are now differing from all other, and therefore hated?
Answ. Here are five queries in one: To the first we answer, That worship of God in Spirit and truth mentioned (John 4:23-24) is that worship <426> of him that is in the light and power of and according to the Spirit's testimony concerning Jesus, as now come forth in the gospel, and so in Christ Jesus who is the truth. And this called worshipping in Spirit and in truth, as opposed both to the Samaritans' worship, which was never right but in and according to the wisdom of the flesh, and so in a false way; and also as opposed to the Jewish worship, which sometimes was right, while yet it was in and through that killing letter of the law (to which the ministration of the Spirit, the gospel as now come forth is opposed, 2 Cor. 3), and also in and through the types and shadows of the law (to which Jesus Christ, the body, and truth of them is opposed, Col. 2:17; John 1:17). This sense of the Spirit and truth in which God is to be worshipped is confirmed in other scriptures. For the Spirit, see Rev. 19:10: the angel admonishing John not to worship him, but God, instructs him thus: the testimony of Jesus (and not any messenger that brings it) is the Spirit of prophecy (in which God is now to be worshipped). For the truth, see Phil. 3:3, we are the circumcision, which worship God in the Spirit and rejoice in Christ Jesus the truth, and have no confidence in the flesh, &c. And so our Savior interprets the true worship (John 5:22-24), "the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment to the Son," that all men should honor the Son even as they honor the Father; he that honoreth not the Son honoreth not the Father that sent him. And to let us know who it is that indeed honors the Son, and so the Father that sent him; it follows, "he that heareth my word" (which also is the word or testimony of him that sent him concerning him, John 7:16 & 14:23-24; 1 John 5:9-13), "and so believeth on him that sent me," &c.; like to this is that John 12:44,49, and that twofold rule for the trial of spirits before spoken to (1 John 4:1-6). They then that magnify or glorify the word of the Lord as declared in the apostle's doctrine (as Acts 13:48) and according to it believe and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and so in the Father are the true worshippers.
To the second part of the query we answer that as it is true that no man speaking by the Spirit of God renders Jesus (in his person, or works done in his own body for sinners) execrable or undesirable; so likewise is [p.97] it true that no man can truly say, confess or acknowledge Jesus as the Christ in his doctrine or worship but by the Spirit of the Lord (1 Cor. 12:3); and whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ he is therein and thereto born of God (1 John 5:1; John 1:12-13). The other parts of the query, as much as is needful, are answered before.
14th Query, "What and where that light is (John 1:9) that being come into the world is the condemnation of all that are in darkness? &c. And whether it be not the condemnation of all the world that believe not in it? And whether there be any other condemnation? &c."
<427> Ans. In this query is also a confusion of many queries, and after the first part of it, something first taken for granted and then propounded as a query; we shall briefly answer it thus:
1. Not John the Baptist but Jesus that was of Nazareth (the supposed son of Joseph), that was conceived of the Holy Ghost in the womb of the Virgin Mary, born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Augustus Caesar, &c., even that word that was then and so made flesh and came and dwelt amongst men (and not any other thing or person) who through sufferings is now entered into glory. That, I say, and no other person or thing is "the true light that lighteneth every man that cometh into the world" (John 1:8-9,14-15,18,41-45 & 8:12 & 12:44-46; Acts 4:10-12).
2. The text saith not, This light is the condemnation of all (or any) that are in darkness, but this is the condemnation, "That light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil." Their loving darkness rather than light, when the light comes unto them (and not the coming of the light to them) is the condemning sin, and that which makes other sins condemnable, as also John 15:22,24; Zach 5:1-4.
3. This light personally is received by the Father in the heavens (Acts 3:20), but in his influences virtually and spiritually among men and dwelling in them, in whom he dwelleth by faith (Eph. 1:17; 2 Cor. 4:6; Eph. 3:17-19).
15th Query: "What the law of the Spirit of life is, which made Paul free from the law of sin and death, which had warred against the law of his mind and had formerly held him in captivity to the law of sin that was in his members? And whether any in these days that are come to that warfare may look for that freedom by the law of the Spirit of life?"
Ans. Besides the confusion of two or three queries in one, here are some things taken for granted which we can by no means allow, because [p.98] the text itself denies them, viz., that by the law of sin and death, spoken of (Rom. 8:2) is meant the same with the law of sin in his members (mentioned Chap 7:21,23), which did war against the law of his mind and led him captive in some sense to itself; and
2. That he was made free from that law of sin in his members, that it was not so much as warring against the law of his mind now; both these I shall wholly deny; and as they hang together so they will fall together in answer to one; that by the law of sin and death (chap 8:2) is not meant the same with the law of sin in his members (chap 7:21,23) appears in this: that from the law of sin and death, mentioned chap. 8:2, he saith he was made free; but of the other (chap. 7:21,23, &c.) he affirms not that he had before, but that he did now find a law in his members, warring against the law of his mind; indeed, before the gospel <428> of the grace of God came or was received, there was no discovery or disturbance of that law in his members, and therefore no occasion for such a war; but since was the combat, and though it had been unthroned in his mind, yet it was still warring in his members, and he was not yet delivered from it, though he could rejoice in God in whom he had perfect deliverance and enjoyed it by faith and hope of perfect deliverance in himself by Christ, when he should be delivered from the whole body of this death; yea by that law of sin and death mentioned (Rom. 8:2) (as appears by the next verses) is meant that holy and righteous law of God, mentioned Rom. 7:12-16, for so in the next verses of that Rom. 8, with reference to the same law mentioned vers. 2, he signifies the reason of its inability to give us life and peace was not any weakness or imperfection in itself, but the weakness of our flesh, and also propounds that as one great end of what Christ hath done, that the righteousness of that law might be fulfilled in them that believe, &c. And that law is therefore called a law of sin and death because it discovers sin and sentences and concludes the sinner under death, yet itself is holy, just and good (chap. 7:10), whereas the other law (chap. 7:20,23) is sinful, sin itself, a body of sin; this being understood, the foundation of the query falls; yet this further answer we shall give. By that law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus by which he was made free from the condemnation and charges of this law of sin and death is meant nothing else but the gospel of Christ (which is that old and new commandment of the everlasting God, the law of liberty, John 12:47-50; 1 John 2:7-8; Jas. 1:25), the doctrine of the Spirit of life that is in Christ Jesus or (of that Spirit) concerning the life, justification, peace and redemption in Christ Jesus. This appears plainly,
[p.99] 1. By considering the next verse, in which he demonstrates how and with what argument the law of the Spirit of life in Christ freed him, in which he propounds the main and fundamental proposition and argument of the gospel in such cases and in all other; for what the law could not do (in that it was weak through the flesh) God sending forth his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin condemned sin in the flesh, &c., as 2 Cor. 5:21.
2. It appears by comparing this with Rom. 1:16-17 & 1 Cor. 1:18, &c., where the gospel of Christ, even that preaching of the cross as by them delivered, is said to be the power of God to salvation to the believer, &c.
3. It further appears by comparing this with 2 Cor. 3, where that dispensation of the gospel or ministration given to the apostles and by them to us is called the ministration of Spirit, of life, of glory, &c., as opposed to the ministration of the law as given by Moses, which (as so opposed) is called a killing letter, a ministration of death, of <429> condemnation, &c.
And this gospel is still of the same quality: it effectually worketh in them that believe, in discovering and opening what Christ hath done for them; in delivering them from the curse of the law in himself, as in the public person; that in coming in to him, by faith in him, they might enjoy the benefit, pacifying their conscience and healing their nature; and so in the discovery of the virtues and acceptance of what Christ hath done with the Father and is become according to the ends of his cross. This having the arm of God in it, as well as solid arguments to that purpose, it purgeth the conscience from guilt of sin by the law and from dead works, to serve the living God, and so quickens to new and livening hope and affections, through the resurrection of Jesus, so as they have their remission, peace (as also sanctification, preservation, &c,) through his name (Acts 10:43 & 13:39; 2 Cor. 3:18; Rom. 6:17-18; John 8:31-32,36; 1 Cor. 6:11; 1 Pet. 1:5; John 17:11).
To his conclusion at the close of the queries, in which he boasts of God's revealing by his Spirit in him the great delusion others are in, in being instructed to look to a Christ crucified without them while they are in their filthiness and first nature, &c., as more at large may be seen in the copy of his writing fore inserted; to this I say we answer.
Surely the Lord doth not reveal anything by his Spirit in or to any but so as therein he enableth them that receive his revelation, in some measure to make it known; he to this purpose appeareth, that he may make them witnesses of those things in which he appeareth. How then shall we believe [p.100] that God hath revealed to him the delusion others are in, when he is not able in the least measure to make it out; at least he hath not done it in these lines? only endeavored by the multitude of confused questions to find it out, as one not knowing, and himself in all forewritten, not laying down at all what in his apprehension is truth, or what is error positively; but left that to be gathered in the manner of his queries; unless we may find some discovery of his revelation in this conclusion, surely here is something more plain than in all before, viz., that they are bewitching Simon Maguses, sorcerers, and preach another gospel contrary to what Christ hath preached, that put people upon a Christ crucified without them, notwithstanding they are in their filthiness and first nature, &c. See more at large in the conclusion of his queries.
For answer to it, let us see what Jesus Christ and his apostles have preached (as to this): "The Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost," "for God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son" (the Savior of the world, and) "to be so lifted up, as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness," as an object prepared for the healing of all that have sinned and must die, that whosoever believeth in <430> him, as so lifted up before them, should not perish but have everlasting life. "For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved"; and Jesus Christ by the grace of God tasted death (not in, but) for every man, and gave himself a ransom to God for all men, he gave his flesh for the life of the world, and is the mediator between God and man, the standing propitiation, not for our sins only, but also for the sins of the whole world, and a testimony unto men in due time, having himself in his own body (not in our bodies) borne our sins to the tree; he died, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit, &c. When we were sinners, and without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. Surely, if men had been pure, or might by any other means have seen God, Christ should not have died for them; "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners," &c. Search the Scriptures. Neither doth this doctrine lead men to neglect or slight the washing of regeneration or the forming of Christ in the knowledge and faith of him, in what he hath done, is become, and will do; and so in the virtues and saving operations of him in the heart; but on the other hand both urgeth the absolute necessity of it, according to the means and capacities thereto vouchsafed; for if men could have entered the kingdom without another birth he would never have been at such cost for the opening a fountain of pardon [p.101] and purging to wash us in; and also shows the only open door, way, and means to it; and by which it may be effected, viz., his name, through faith in it, which things considered it will appear they are but the reproaches of them that reproach him, that herein fall on us, which we desire patiently and joyfully to bear.
Tho. Moore, junior
Since my writing the premises, I have met with the queries (foreinserted) in print, published among other such stuff, by some that are ashamed of their name or know not what to call themselves, or else (as is likely) refused to subscribe those queries because they had delivered them into the hands of many others of their young disciples in several places, as well as to Tho. Biddall, to be given forth as their own immediate revelations (the property of their spirit being to reveal questions, without any substantial or certain answers), and having done so, now to have subscribed to them James Parnell, or any other particular name, would have rendered T.B. in one place, and some others in other places liars, in pretending them theirs.
<431> In that in print by them the superscription is much altered, and many of the terms in the queries; their spirit it seems on better advisement, sometimes finds cause to alter his expressions and terms; I mention it to show that wherein they glory they are found as others. They have also waived their railing conclusion and in its room added a sixteenth query to those I had, viz., "What that grace of God is that bringeth salvation and hath appeared to all men?" &c.
For answer to that, I refer the reader to the preface, where I have showed how that doctrine of the grace of God bringeth salvation to all men, and so appearing unto them, directly strikes against and overthrows the foundation of all their imaginations. And that indeed they believe no such thing as the grace of God appearing to men and bringing salvation to them as a thing wrought in another for them, and thence and therewith moving in saving operations, but do put in the room of it the fancy of some grace, light, disposition, or quality discovered, revived or stirred up in a man to be the author and finisher of their imaginary salvation, and so at the best seek to establish a righteousness of their own; meanwhile not submitting to but stumbling at the righteousness of Christ. [p.2] Which also further appears in their railing on the directing men to a Christ crucified for them, without them, while they were yet sinners (see the conclusion of their queries as foreinferred), compare with this that which immediately follows that sixteenth query forementioned, as now published by them, viz., "The light in your conscience, the true teacher, and that as opposed to teachers from without." So in the title page of that book it is called, "A direction to all, to turn their minds within," &c. Now that which is always and at all times within cannot properly be said to be brought to a man. And here also the considerate reader may see how falsely the querist in some queries set before these in the book forementioned, pretends to disown. That the light he boasts of is natural, or naturally in a man; doubtless their imaginations of its being always in men as a habit or indwelling principle (while yet they have received nothing of that given from above), how much soever disappearing, and whether they call it first or second nature, do render it such; as likewise is showed in the preface, where the vanity and filthiness of these dreamers (that commend to everyone the visions of their own heart, and teach them to follow their own spirit, that yet have seen nothing, as Ezek. 13:3, and yet call that Spirit, and the word of the Lord, as those [Isa. 4] that would eat their own bread and wear their own apparel, only be called by his name, to take away their reproach) is discovered. Nor is it unusual for these spirits to pretend highly against a thing for advantage to their design, when yet in their hearts or bottom principles they justify or allow it; or on the other hand, to pretend as <432> much for a thing that in heart they are enemies to, and their principles strike against, as I could clearly evince, were it not for brevity sake.
The reader may see a little in J.N.'s letter to me, where he admonisheth those he calls blind guides, to search the Scriptures, and in another place intimates his reverence of the Scripture, such that he will not believe anything that cannot be proved by plain Scripture, and yet otherwhere in the same letter (though in subtle terms) reproacheth us as blind, carnal, and a generation of persecutors because we would not believe further or otherwise concerning his confession of the flesh of Christ in him than we could read in the said Scriptures, which there he calls letter; yea Farnworth in his challenge expressly commands us to throw by the records left and preserved to us in books, and not to read or look on them night or day.
Further also this appears in the said Farnsworth, in a book I have lately seen of his, where he subscribes Forneworth (I know not which is his right name), in which book he pretends highly against the Ranters, of [p.3] purpose to make simple people believe that his principles tend more to godliness and honesty, and are not such as they began to discern by the fruits the Ranters were, when as in truth, as in the foresaid preface we have hinted, their bottom principles are one. Yea, it appears in that book, where in pretended opposition to the Ranters he tells them the cross is inward, &c., he knows they fancy that as much as he, and in his way, and have lifted up their imagination of the cross of Christ as some internal operation, to render as foolish the personal sufferings of Christ and the virtues of them for taking away sin, and also to excuse their avoiding the cross in outward sufferings to themselves that would have attended them for his name's sake, had they lived godly in Christ Jesus; yea, himself acknowledgeth of them, as Ranters so called, that once the pure law was set up and the judgment within them to have freed them from sin, only blames them for turning to a loose and profane life, whereas he knows, if he know anything, that their principles lead naturally to it; but those principles he owns and yet cries out against their gross profaneness and atheism, because that is grossly scandalous, and hinders others from listening to their imaginations; whereas it is their imaginations of the light in them, which all that know God in Christ have primely detected, and showed the light in them to be darkness itself, and the root of all atheism and profaneness, which yet were no other than are now promoted by these people under another visor. And that it hath the same fruit in them also (though they endeavor to hide it) appears.
1. In one owned by themselves as the chief of them about Norwich, that while he pretended perfection and others applauded him as a <433> perfect man, yet lived secretly in uncleanness (and if credible reports may be believed, a long time, if not in murder too for the hiding of it, though but) lately manifested.
2. It did appear in our antagonists' inhuman language and carriage, the chief of them, and many of them together, and with great indignation, as being full of the gall of bitterness, frequently terming us liars, serpents, beasts, sots, dogs, reproaching some by their age, as old sot, beast, &c., which I am sure is far enough from Scripture precedent, though some of them pretend that; yea, some of their revilings were such as I cannot in civility mention (as many can witness) besides their many very gross yet peremptory slanders, some of which we have discovered.
3. That their principles have the same fruit in them, as to gross atheism, or blasphemy of a high nature, as in the Ranters may appear, by comparing those blasphemies of Wilkinson, which Farnworth mentions in the foresaid book, with what I also lately saw in a book of Ja. Parnell's, [p.4] which book he calls the Watcher, The Stone cut out of the Mountain without hands. In that book speaking of that he calls corrupt reasoning or arguing, he saith, "Before that was, I am"; with seeming allusion to that of our Savior, "Before Abraham was, I am." What doth he less in this than equalize himself with God? which to that person only is no robbery who is the eternal and only begotten Son of God, it being the peculiar name and attribute of God, "I am"; he is that which he is from everlasting to everlasting, and of himself, and he only is so that is the former of, and gives being to all things, and so the only begotten Son, by whom and for whom he made all things, is honored with the same honor with the Father, the Father having given to him to have life in himself as the Father hath life in himself; yea he and the Father are one in nature, and being (though evidently distinct in manner of being) from everlasting to everlasting thou art God; not so James Parnell, he is not before all things, for by him they do not consist; but by him in whom it hath pleased the Father that all fullness should dwell, even the fullness of the Godhead bodily, that in all things he should have the pre-eminence (Col. 1:15-19 & 2:2,9; Heb. 1 total; John 5:20-23 & 1:1-14); in these things I say it appears that their bottom principles are one and also have secretly the same fruit, though gilded over with pretense of zeal, holiness, mortification, &c., in these, and I pray what stands that in, but in pretending themselves, and commanding others to abstain from meats created to be received, &c., in despising dominion, speaking evil of dignities, casting off all civil and natural respects where due, and like things?
I am sorry any Christians should be so weak to be beguiled with such things, as have only a show of humility, mortification, &c., but in <434> truth are the issues of greatest pride, and contempt of the wisdom and grace of God in Christ; and most unsuitable to the apostles' doctrine and practice, who instruct us to honor fathers, masters, &c., in their place, yea to count them worthy all honor, &c., yea themselves entitle one, "The elect lady," another not then elect, "most noble Festus," another "King Agrippa," &c., and have noted them as doctrines of devils that command to abstain from meats which God hath created to be received, &c., as before we have showed.
Doubtless it is another true character of these spirits, which we may here add to what we have given before. They speak lies in hypocrisy, having their conscience seared with a hot iron. See further for this, page 88-89.
Since the finishing of the premises when they were almost out of the press, I met with a reply from R.F. (to my answer to his challenge), [p.5] dated above a month before I had it, in which he saith there was no name to that answer sent him; sure I am, my name was subscribed to that I sent, and if any after did take a copy of it and forget the subscription, and sent that, it is more than I know; besides, he makes much ado about my saying I know not any called Manifestarians, or who he applies that name to; he saith, Master Wray called us so in some letters, which whether so or no I know not; I never heard of any such thing, nor had I ever seen Mr. Wray, or he me, to our knowledge, before that meeting, and if he did give any such character (according to his apprehensions) of us, yet the thing I said is true; nor was it propounded to shuffle off or evade the business, as he saith, for notwithstanding that, I took the challenge as directed to myself in their intentions, and so answered it fully. I may truly say, he is glad to make a bluster about circumstances, that without giving any fair answer he might yet make their ignorant disciples believe he hath notably replied; the sum of his pretended reply further is chiefly a renewing of their old charge, so often already answered and showed a false accusation, that I deny God's indwelling in his people; yea here he adds something that it seems they thought not of before, viz., that I said God would not be manifest in his people; the falseness of that, with the rest, the reader may see in my answer to J.N.'s letter, as also of his charging Mr. Wray again in this, with turning them out of his house, with many other things; yea all is so fully answered before, I shall here add no more to it.
The faults, if any have escaped in printing, the courteous reader is desired to impute to the author's absence from the press, and kindly, as he goes along, to mend them with his pen.
a. Thomas Moore, Jr., was one of the leaders of a small Puritan sect popularly called Manifestarians, that rejected the Calvinist teaching on predestination and held some distinctive doctrines of their own. For more on this group and their controversies with Quakers, see EQL, pp. 293-297.
b. Page numbers from the original pamphlets are provided throughout this paper and Nayler's reply that follows, because they are referred to in the course of the debate. The page numbers are in small, bold type, in square brackets. They are not in perfect numerical sequence, due to pagination errors in the original printing.
c. furniture = preparation.
d. happily = haply, perchance.