Quaker Heritage Press > Online Texts > Works of James Nayler > A Salutation to the Seed of God
Arise, shine forth, thou seed of the covenant, to which the promise is, for thy glory is come; and with judgment is the Lord arisen to redeem his chosen, and all that turn to him shall be covered with righteousness, even that which before the world was, and above all the world is, which is perfect forevermore. Put off your rags, you that have covered yourselves with your wisdom, and let that which is imperfect be done away. How long will it be ere you hearken to the Lord, that you may partake of the best, and receive <203> of the Lord freely, that your souls may be satisfied, that no leanness there may be, nor crying out of wants. Can the Lord be pleased with that righteousness which that of God in your consciences declares to be imperfect? Or will he accept that which is none of his own? Consider of this, you professors of the nation, who pray and weep and seek, but find not that which gives peace nor reconciles you to God. Without faith in Christ it's impossible to be well pleasing to God, who is your peace; and that's not faith in Christ that lays hold of an imperfect righteousness, for that's your own: but that's the righteousness of God, which by faith in Christ alone is freely received, and the least measure is perfect. This is the gift that comes from above, which takes up the creature above all other. That which we have received we declare, and we can do no other, for in him is our glory, and this of his is5 our boldness in the day of judgment, that as he is, so are we in this world; herein is our love perfected in him because we are of him and one with him in his righteousness; and that measure we have of it is freely ours without upbraiding, and an inheritance we have in it, wherefore we leave all to follow him who is our fullness, and cannot but call to all who love their souls to come to us, knowing his freeness. And your labors to no purpose, you who are kindling sparks, with whom we have laid long in sorrow, and we know the end of your labor, and your fruit is cursed, though in the sweat of your brows you bring it forth; all you that say you must do what you can, and Christ will do the rest; you must do some, and Christ must do other some; this is your own way and not the way of God; for here the linsy-woolsy garment is seen, which is forbidden; for in the way of God, Christ is all in all; but here is part in you, and part in him, as you imagine, and you are two, and there is sin, for while you live, sin lives, and if we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves and have not the truth in us; but where he alone lives there is no sin; for the life of Christ is the death of sin, as it is manifest, and for this purpose we know he was manifest to take away our sins, and in him is no sin, for by the appearance of his life are we translated into his likeness, which is our boldness, and he that hath this hope, purifies himself even as he is pure; for we see him as he is: our life, our hope, our strength and way, which <204> is pure and perfect; and as he is, so he makes our way perfect; and this is our peace, that we have nothing but what we have received, and it is his own, and he cannot deny himself, who is faithful, and with his faithfulness are we made faithful to him; and the least measure of him which comes from above, which6 is present power, and in a measure of7 him we move and have our being, where nothing is impossible. The day of his power is come whereby we are made willing, in whose will his people ever took pleasure; and whatever he doth is good for us, and his wondrous works we see, which have been told of, how with his own arm he takes the kingdom, in us, which so much we talked on when we did not know him, nor his power, but (with you) put the good day far off us to another generation, when the Lord was near us, though we did not know him, but looked for the kingdom of God without us, which was within us unregarded, therefore did we sit down in sorrow, being out of that way where rest was placed, and did not see him who was foreordained for good works, wherein we should walk, in which by him we should be exercised; therefore we could never come to be satisfied, but our conscience still accusing us, in our best performances, yea, fears and doubtings were our best condition; yet were we like the false prophets speaking peace one to another, where God had not spoken peace in our consciences; thus healing the hurt deceitfully, as the world at this day is doing, crying peace, when the bonds of iniquity still stands, and you are servants in evil works, where the prince of this world is ruler and guide: and what peace can you have while that kingdom stands, and you in it? And this kingdom must stand till his power be known who is appointed to take it and bind the prince of it.
Wherefore come out of death all that will have life, and make no longer covenant with it. How can you prevail who take the serpent's counsel to overcome the devil's kingdom? And this you do, who search into the things of God with your fallen wisdom; so are you kept in labor to no purpose, never can get from under the works of condemnation, therefore you conclude, none can ever come to be wholly free while they live, and so make the blood of Christ of none effect, which we do witness doth cleanse from all sin, and he saves to the uttermost all that come unto8 him; the <205> thing which Hagar's seed doth most oppose and scoff at, that wherein we triumph above the world and image makers, that our God is a Savior from that which none can be free from who are without him, though they make many likenesses of him from the letter, the form without the power, 'tis to no purpose.
Take notice you several sorts of worshippers, who worship a God afar off whom you know not; which if you did there would not be so much contention about him, what he is, and the way of his worship: nor can you know him till he be revealed in you; nor can he be known in you but as you come to be cleansed, for with him dwells no uncleanness. Thus you that plead for your sins plead against your own souls, which cannot be satisfied but by his presence, who is not seen present where sin in standing. And by unbelief do you cut yourselves9 off, while you say you can never be cleansed till after you be dead; here hath the devil deceived you and so far prevailed with you to enter into covenant with him while you live to serve him. And being blinded this you know not, that you have made covenant with hell and death, which by God is cursed and troubled: that I know and own that troubles your peace and sets you on seeking; but the way you seek is from another principle, which is selfish and shall never obtain peace for you.
He that troubles all that's out of his way, guides and gives peace to all in his way; the same is a Spirit the world knows not, blows where it listeth, therefore never found but in his own way and will: you who seek him in the will of man, there cannot find him; nor can your ministers made by the will of man tell you of him, where he is, or the way to him; for he10 is not born of that generation, nor of that will, nor of that seed is he11 begotten, therefore not known to them; therefore they themselves, with all their seeking, not having found him, can do no less than tell you that he will never appear more to his people; that which is written is all the word, and what others have seen is all the knowledge that any need ever to look for while the world continues; and what others have done, that's all you have to talk on for your righteousness.
And thus the way of God's walking and working in his people is wholly excluded from the face of the earth. And a faith you have devised and set up besides it, if not wholly against it; so that now to <206> witness good works is counted popery (though all that come to God are foreordained to walk therein, and to that end new-created). Thus are not men afraid to deny the work of God and his righteousness and yet say you are his workmanship and that you are in God and Christ, but out of his works, and must be in the works of the devil, yet God is your Father; yet in this confusion none must tell you, you are in Babylon, for then you say they judge you; nor that they that teach you thus are ministers of antichrist, for that you call railing; though to such the Spirit of Christ hath ever used it. Thus hath the devil set up his work and fenced it with the name of the highest faith in the world; and who is under this faith, though they sin, yet they say they can never fall finally nor totally (though the whole man be found in the action), nor is your sins like others, because you say you are believers, though both12 in one action and nature. So that that faith which you profess is become a defense for sin: but our faith is that which overcomes sin.13
And thus you set up a profession without power. But did you mind the light of Christ that never changes, by it to be taught in Spirit, these deceits would soon be discovered, and you could not walk in darkness. With it14 we see that he that commits sin is of the devil and is fallen from God, whatever be his profession; and there can be no greater fall than to fall from that which should keep him into the devil's power, to act according to the devil's movings and to bring forth his begettings, and such we know are his children. With the light we see that he that is in the way of God is in holiness, and he that is not is in the way of the devil; and that he that's in God is out of self, and there sin is blotted out and forgotten; but he that's in self is in sin, though he be praying or plowing: with it we see the life of Christ is pure, and who lives any other life it's polluted, though never so finely covered: with it we see the way of God is perfect, and you, whose way is not perfect, is15 the way of condemnation. With the light we see him that hath not the word within16 him to have no more word than the devil hath, who17 knows <207> the letter and can preach it; and that he that hath not that faith that overcomes sin (in its measure) hath no faith but as the devils,18 and that he that hath not heard his voice knows him not, nor he that hath not seen him hath no fellowship with him, and whose heart is filthy can do neither. With the light we see that who is in the work of God is in the good work, and he that is not is in the evil, and whatever he doth is abominable: and that he that hath not the righteousness of God hath his own, which is imperfect; but who hath that of God, hath that which perfectly satisfies both God and man, so far as with it the creature is covered. With it we see him that hath faith, without this work, to be as a body without a spirit, which can do nothing, and that faith is vain that's without power.19
How long have you talked of being a willing people in the day of his power? but doth vain words save you while you are in the power of darkness and your own wills standing? Are you a willing people for God, when you see with the light of Christ in your hearts what you ought to do and what you ought to forbear, but your own wills withstands it and leads you into covetousness, pleasures, and wantonness, and selfishness, contrary to it? And what power is this which acts you in these ways of unrighteousness, for which your own hearts condemns you? This is the power of darkness, which the light of Christ in your consciences bears witness against. And thus you have got words instead of power and life; and you think salvation is in them, crying the ordinances of God. But did God ever ordain a talk without power and life? Is not Christ the ordinance and the end of all ordinances, who is the way, the truth, and the life? Is there any ordinances without him in the gospel?20 Is not he the sabbath, circumcision, baptism, the <208> supper, &c., are not all these in him? And doth not he minister all these in spirit to everyone that comes to him? and so the shadow is come into21 the substance, the end of all shadows, which is life indeed; but the figures are not the life, nor can any have the life but who comes to the end of them; for the outward makes nothing perfect, but the inward doth all that come unto it and abide in him.
When will you be weary of your vain imaginations? Of a day to come wherein you must have power? How long have you been deceived with these vain thoughts? Was not this it you talked on, twenty, thirty, forty or fifty years since, yet now farther off from it than ever. And are not these vain words, though you cannot bear it to have them so called? When will you be ashamed of your vain profession, you that run to seek God in the high places amongst the hirelings, running from God, to seek him where he is not? And is not this vain profession when nothing is brought forth but wind, nor is he found by you in that wherein your fruit is? Those who had the form and not the power could never find him:22 then how should you speed any better,23 who have neither? For in such a form you worship as in which God never appeared, but Christ and his have ever witnessed against and doth to this day, yet will not you be instructed, but in your own wills and ways you will stand, though you find nothing but emptiness in it; and yet you talk of being a willing people in the day of his power? But when will you have it present who abide in that way where both will and power is wanting?24 Free will25 you have not, but to follow Satan, who hath begot a will in you that God never created, contrary to God in all things; and where that will rules it will not own his power, therefore is that day afar off26 you; but the will of the devil and his power is present, and acts you at his pleasure, and you are offended that any should witness being set free from it.
Thus you are suffered to please your vain minds, the day to talk on, but the night and deeds of darkness you must walk in, else your old master is highly displeased; and if any call you to the light, he says it's delusion. And as for freedom from sin, or <209> the way to perfection, that's most dangerous heresy.27
And thus he makes you most afraid of freedom, lest any of you should believe in the Son which leads to it; for the devil knows, if he can but keep you from believing it, you are sure for28 ever coming to it.29 Thus you stand afar off and cry take heed of delusion and deceiving, when you have naught but your sins to be deceived on; nor can you say you have aught in you that's pure but that which you deny in your conscience, which is a witness against you; and this is the cry of all who are deceived already, in all forms in the world: but30 who have the Spirit that can try all things, is31 bold as a lion, and will not receive nor hold fast anything but that which is good, that none can take from him.
The heathen were ever afraid to be spoiled of their idols, and so are you of your images you have set up and formed from others, every one according to your own wills. If shadows and likenesses could save then would it be found in these nations, who have of all sorts and statures, tall and with heads of gold some of them, which you zealously worship and compel others also who know no better. And this is that they serve for, for32 they cannot save you, only they serve you to contend about and keep you doing, lest you should wait upon God alone and be saved from your sins, and then the devil's kingdom were broken, wherefore he feeds you with a profession and form without power. And of likenesses you may choose from one to another, yet all in his kingdom of sin and imperfection, as long as you live; that's his limit, and for no less time will he have his covenant; and you are willing to enter into it with him and plead for it, exceedingly mad against any that break it or believe in him that redeems from it; nay so blind and deaf are you that if any have found freedom you cannot abide to hear them declare it; and the end of Christ's coming must not be preached, nor his covenant that is pure and without sin, as he is that made it; and so each covenant is like its master. And this we do witness and see now at present, which you know not who look not for it till after death, therefore sin must stand in that covenant because <210> you have not our keeper, for God hath so concluded it.33 And the light is in the world where all are sinners, but none have the life but who receive34 it, and are led out of the world by it; to such sheep Christ is keeper, who follow him out of uncleanness, and for such he is become an undertaker, the strong man to bind and cast out, who believe that he will do it for them; but the swine he keeps not, the shepherd they will not follow, there the devil must enter35 and hath power, and into the sea must they run headlong.
Take heed carnal professors, whose religion looks downward into the earth, the sea is next, and the place is steep. And you have naught to keep,36 who deny the life of purity and perfection, which we have in the holy God, as all ever had who lived in him. And in him is truth and freedom; but a lie there is in all your likenesses, and you are blind and will not see it, all you who have a God and Christ and a worship which doth not make the comers thereto perfect, nor set you above the devil, nor overcome his temptations. Your God and king we know, which keeps you in the earth, which you will curse if ever you look upward; your peace we know, and the end of it, your kingdom with all its glory; when from this world you are taken there is your parting, when he shall break your covenant, whose covenant you have broken and would not hear him, though you pretended still to seek him. That's his call which in your consciences lets you see you have lost him; which, did you wait in it, would lead you to him, but erring from it you are out of his way and counsel, and all other ways is to no purpose. His light is that which searcheth your hearts in secret, nor can any other judge you in private; yet from that you will be running, to ask counsel at them who know not your condition; so instead of God you confess to men that cannot judge you nor help you; while you go to the natural you leave the spiritual, and so with natural words you feed the natural comprehensions, but the spiritual man feeds not at that fountain, for it's the spiritual that thirsts, which not minded, the natural runs and feeds above it; and this being above, you cannot receive the food of the Spirit, therewith to God to be <211> reconciled and quickened; nor is that fed that death hath passed over, nor out of death is it raised; but that which lives in you is for death,37 and the eternal is out of your knowledge; yet you say God is a Spirit and teaches in Spirit, and will be worshipped in Spirit; but cannot endure to hearken to anything38 within you.39
How blind are you led with your blind guides? Is not that which is spiritual within? or can it be known anywhere else? Is God known by hearsay? Then who is it that knows him not? Can the carnal eye see the spiritual40 God, or the carnal ear hear him? Then should not his ministry be to the spirits in prison, to open the blind eyes and to unstop the deaf ears, yea, where the carnal is open? But this you know not, who have eyes and see not, ears and hear not, and hands which never handle the word of life; yet would you be teaching others that which you never saw nor heard, and to this teaching you would limit others.
Paul was sent to open the blind eyes, yet was he sent to those who had eyes as you have, with which they could see to stone and whip him, and ears to hear him and call what he said heresy and blasphemy as you do, and as ever the carnal judged of the spiritual, who hath not an ear to hear what the Spirit saith.
O unwise people, you have but one thing that lets you see your evil, yet will you not turn to that for teaching; nor that eye you love not which lets you see your darkness. You cry you have nothing that's good in you, yet will you not own that which lets you see it is so. And thus you keep covenant with darkness, though death and destruction be the end of it, but the covenant of41 light which shines in darkness you regard not; that's far below42 your comprehensions, nay, it's the least seed in you, which we know is the seed of the kingdom, trodden underfoot by the kingdoms of the world: therefore nothing else leads out of the world but that whose kingdom is not in43 it, and with this seed is the covenant; which seed you know not who take pleasure in the flesh; that's of another kingdom to which is no covenant but death and hell. Yet you talk of Abraham and his covenant and promise; but that in Abraham in which the covenant was established was that which led him out of <212> the world, wherein he became a stranger and wanderer, as that seed ever is, which you call vagabonds, persecute and imprison, you that have rule in this world, showing that you are not of that seed that entertains strangers, nor in that covenant where all are strangers and pilgrims in this world; nor do you own that which divides44 you from this world, being uncircumcised in heart, which to be is the seal of Abraham's faith. And so you whose life is in the earth are far off from Abraham's bosom, faith and covenant, which is only to his seed, not to the seed of evildoers; not to the seeds which are many, but to one, which is Christ. So in the world, out of Christ: and out of Christ, out of God's covenant; for his promises are all yea and amen to them that are in Christ Jesus but not to them that abide in the world. Who owns him as king cannot want the promise, neither can you have it who abide in the world; therefore you apply the words but want the life which is the power; nor can your literal promises suit your condition nor save you from Satan's power; but as all others who think salvation to be in the letter, so do you deny leading and guiding of the Spirit, in which the power is placed,45 therefore the light you will not follow, neither can you believe it to be sufficient; and he that denies the light cannot own the Lord of life. So you are ignorant of God and his way, in which he makes himself known to his people, and so takes up your rest in outward observations, set up and upholden in the wills of men, and for such traditions you are zealous and strongly contend for them, but the law of God written in your own hearts you make of none effect, while you deny to be ruled according to it: yet say you, we are in the new covenant, when you are in the old traditions; and what you know is from others. But the least in that covenant knows him and his presence, and witness him true according to his promise, ever manifesting his power to undertake for us against all our enemies, a present help in time of trouble, and we know him in whom we have believed, where he is, and the way to him, having seen the glory of his kingdom and the powers of the eternal world, the house wherein are many mansions, yet the lowest place is pure, for which the Lord alone prepares his people and their way, which the creature <213> cannot do of himself, only Christ doth it where self is denied, and self-will; for by the will of man comes no promise, nor obtains that will any performance. So he begets both the will and the deed, which you know not where your own wills are standing, by him not begotten, who in your wills make a profession, and in the same wills contend for it, with which you can fight and sue, and trade in the world, and heap together, and what you will you pray and ask for, and grudge if you be not satisfied. But if you compass your desires in that will, the lust catcheth the gift, but you forget the giver, so that mercies become a curse to you, which to those who in the will of God stand are a blessing, which will of God is to keep the heart and eye to the Creator and giver: and if such receive not the giver, the gift is nothing that satisfies, because the virtue and fullness is wanting.46
Thus is God prized and praised in his own will, a sacrifice forever accepted; therefore Christ must not be offered up in his own will, but in the will of the Father (Matt. 26:39). And in that will he had power to lay down his life, and again to take it up; thus he is become our example, whom we delight, in the same will, to follow; which you that read this in the Scripture with your own wills cannot: therefore to you the cross is preached, which must be taken up ere you can follow the example.47
This is the stumbling stone and rock of offense God hath laid to prove you, who say you love God, and say, thy will be done in earth, but loves your own wills better, as your practices witness to your face daily, when his will is your sanctification, but yours is pollution and to live in uncleanness, against which he hath given testimony; witness that in all your consciences which is pure, declaring daily to your faces that he consents not to your sins nor takes delight in your destruction; and here God's love is tendered, and your love is tried. God so loved the world that he hath given his Son a light into the world, that whosoever believes and follows him shall not abide in death and darkness, but shall have the light of life. And this we know, who love his appearance, and that he hath loved us first; and in that love we follow him and call to all to come to it. But how do you answer this love of his, who abide in the love of the world, where the Father's love dwells not, <214> nor with his light will you be led out of the48 world49 where his love dwelleth, thereof to be partakers; yet you will talk of it where it is not; and these vain words cannot save you. God is light, and in him is no darkness at all; and if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, then have we fellowship with him, and the blood of Christ cleanseth us from all sin. But what's this to you who walk in darkness, not cleansed? nor do you believe that ever you can be whilst you live; yet would you not be called unbelievers, though that faith that purifies the heart you do not own: yet, say you, we believe we shall be cleansed after we be dead, in another world. So your faith must work hereafter, but is dead at present; such a faith as never was professed by any50 you read of.51 But that faith we witness which overcomes this world, and this is present power, as the saints have found it and borne witness of it, that God was faithful who had given them a measure, above which was no temptation;52 but your gift is to come, so temptation prevails for the present, and you cannot own them where it doth not. Thus you put far from you the good day of the Lord and his power, which now is present where he is received and believed. And by such he is praised, who by faith are redeemed above53 the pollutions of this world, the strange land wherein they were captivated.54
And here see your praises, which arise from a vain mind in your own wills and imitations, but not from a fruit55 redeemed, quickened, and set free from the power of sin and temptation: so your praises are not living praises, nor from a living principle of the living God, but from that principle where death reigns, and the seed of God is in prison; so you praise you know not what, who are still unredeemed from bondage: but where redemption is witnessed, there that seed is raised, the bonds of death are broken, the way of life is found; and this being known in the life, then with understanding God is praised, and with the same Spirit which he hath raised, which only with God is accepted, without respect of persons: and here the works of God praise him, and in <215> his saints he is glorified, and admired in all who are raised above the graves, who are in him and see his work. And this church is rightly gathered, who out of sin, death and darkness is brought into God, who is holy, with whom dwells no unclean thing.
Here are the pure praises, where the sons of God sing together, having the psalm given of the Father; these praises are pure which from him come and to him return freely, but this is not known to the sons of bondage, nor believed by you; therefore you sit down in the shadow empty, and form without power, and the presence of God you know not, who take your rest in fleshly forms, that eye cannot see him nor know him. Thus in your sins you will56 perish for want of his knowledge, who is our life eternal and to you is freely tendered, but by your unbelief denied, and so his love rejected.
All you that are in the world, who lie in wickedness, God so loveth you that he hath sent his son into the world to you, a witness against the world and the deeds of it, that they are evil; but all that own and follow him into the good work he leads them, and out of the evil he keeps us;57 and that's58 his light, which in your consciences shines in the midst of darkness, which you comprehend not with your dark minds, nor sensual wisdom, yet a faithful witness is it against your deeds of darkness, declaring your end, and death upon your life, and sorrow and howling upon your laughter, condemning your vain pleasures and invention,59 with which you spend your precious time, which should be redeemed and not spent unprofitably, which with the light the saints and redeemed ones are led to, to redeem the time. And this is our diligence and delight in; but yours is to spend it, showing a contrary nature and leader, a contrary delight in a contrary kingdom, with whom you are joined, and to whom you are fashioned according to the course of this world, and the prince and power of it, which rules in his children, where disobedience is born and brought forth.
And thus you are united into that nature which God hath appointed the devil to be60 prince of, and wrath and woe the end of, and so God is justified herein, that you who despise the riches of his light in Christ Jesus should be left in darkness, therewith to be <216> guided, and in chains reserved till the great day, in which you shall be judged by the light now denied, with your carnal reason, prudence and wisdom, from which God hath hid the things of our61 kingdom, in all generations; and that is the darkness, which is the greatest light you have to62 judge withal, most sought and prized;63 and this wisdom when it speaks calls light darkness, and darkness light; so did they ever who with it judged. And this is your condition who deny the light of Christ and say it's not sufficient, but prefer your comprehensions and imaginations above it, and that was ever it with which people resisted the counsel of God against themselves; and this is his counsel, and all you know of him, that which is manifest in you, which moves against sin and wickedness, and would lead out of it if you did it follow. The same that condemns you for sin when you have done it, the same would lead out of it64 before it be acted, and so keep out of condemnation.
And now honestly consider, if you have not such a counselor, who is with you at all times, and faithful to you in showing the evil, to which you are unfaithful, when you forget it and turn from it to your self-ends; and the righteous pure way he shows you with the light in your conscience, which you reject for earthly pleasures, and know when you do it; yet will you pray that God would show you his way and make you wise to salvation: but when he hath freely done it, you will not walk in it nor own such wisdom, because it comes contrary to your own wills; yet you will say, the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God, yet will you not own that which is foolishness to the world, to guide you out of it, though there be nothing else appointed to do it, but that is contrary to it; thus in words you confess him, but in works deny him and his counsel; yet you say, wherein do we deny him? Do not we profess his name and covenant, and wait for his righteousness thereby to be saved? I say, it serves you to talk on, therewith to cover you while you are serving the other master, the devil, and the world; but his covenant you put far from you, his name and his righteousness whereby we are redeemed.
<217> What covenant have you who deny the light of Christ to guide you? Was not he given for an everlasting covenant of light, both to Jew and Gentile? and in his light all that knew him were guided, according to the several administrations both of law and gospel. And when they turned from his light in Spirit to men's teaching from the letter, then they set up carnal worships instead of spiritual obedience, then they became wise in their own eyes and zealous for their customs, but by him was rejected, who is worshipped in Spirit. And with you it is the same now, though you cannot see nor believe it, no more than they did when they were told of it by them who in the light walked, and stood in his counsel, which all errors discovers; they made the law of God void through their tradition, walking after the65 fathers; so do you that law God hath written in your heart, by following your companions and learned rabbis; they said and did not, and so do you also; nay herein you exceed them, who have a higher profession but less practice: they did not believe him come who is to fulfill all righteousness for and in all that believe and follow him; but this Christ you profess, and the Scripture that so witnesses of him, yet are you farther from it than ever they were, both in practice and opinion; they kept to the letter in the forms of their worship, though they had lost the life and power, but you have left the letter, and lead one another in your inventions: so that you have no plain Scripture for anything of66 your worship performed by you in your idol's temple. And for your opinion of God's righteousness you far exceed them: they put it from them to another generation, waiting for him to come who was appointed king of it, asking when it should come, showing a desire to see it; but you have put it wholly from you into another world; and if any have found it and its power and purity, and bear witness of it, whereby the body of sin is destroyed, and the soul freed, and the creature redeemed from committing sin, your faith believes it to be the greatest blasphemy in the world; nay you dare not come near it lest you should be infected.67
Thus you profess a Redeemer, but he must be a man whose redemption must be of another world, and there must he work his work, but the old work of the devil must stand in this world; yet <218> the more to blind you, and that you may the more blind others, he sets you on talking that Christ is your righteousness, when you never knew him so in you, who is stronger than the God of this world to bind him and take you out of his kingdom, and break that covenant whose faith is that you must be subject to him whilst you live in this world, which is such a faith and covenant as none ever professed who believed in the name of Jesus, at which every knee bows who hath his name, and he that bears that name departs from iniquity, and bears testimony to his righteousness, here in this world, in the midst of the untoward and unrighteous generation of this dark world, that so God may be glorified in his creatures, by his light shining and his righteousness reigning, above the unrighteous principle of the devil, which he hath begot in the untoward nature; but in such the devil is denied and disowned before the world, where God is obeyed; and such are his servants, sons and daughters, who obey him and wait upon him, that they may bring to light what he works in them, even that which none else can work but he alone that's pure, nor can any bring it forth but by his power. And thus his works praise him in the gates of the wicked, where the floods of ungodliness do most swell and rage, even then in his people doth this kingdom stand in righteousness and peace, and joying in holiness.
And this we witness to be that covenant and that power by which we are entered into that inheritance which is eternal and are made partakers of the divine nature; which nature is righteous, merciful and just, meek and patient, faithful and diligent to the obedience of the cross, long-suffering, full of love, moderation and temperance, and in all things thereby are transformed into his likeness,68 so far as we are entered into and abide in this covenant, so that we can truly say, here he is all, and self is nothing, but abhorred because it is polluted, the eye being now open that's only taken with affection to that which is holy. And with this eye we see you, your name, your covenant and your righteousness, all which lies under the power of darkness. Is not that light which is in you become darkness, who have your way to seek without you? What name is in you, when the serpent's seed is still unbruised, who is head and rules in you? Where the name of Jesus is, the <219> devils tremble and bow, as God hath appointed, and they that know his name do witness. What is your righteousness, who bring forth that which is imperfect, which with the light of the covenant is condemned? Is this the righteousness of Jesus, which doth not satisfy God and man, being witnessed by that in the conscience?
And now you may see what it is you profess in this world, and in what stead it will stand you in the day of evil, which is condemned already with that in your consciences: but you use to say that the righteousness of God you look for hereafter, to be covered with it at the day of judgment, but not in this life. I say what's this then you are now doing, which you are here preaching, pressing and practicing, whose is this righteousness? it is69 either God's, or your own self-righteousness. Which if it be God's, it endures forever, but if not, it's abomination, whatever it seems to you, whose eye is blinded, and so professes and practices and presseth an abominable sacrifice, and know not that you do evil; for this I say, better no righteousness than that which is not God's, for such is spiritual wickedness in heavenly places, and the long prayers of such is abomination, and they receive the greater damnation, and of such Christ saith, "publicans and harlots take the kingdom before them." But you say, must we not pray then? I say,70 What effect hath thy prayers which are abomination? Doth God hear a contrary spirit, thou that delightest in wickedness? God will not hear that prayer that's out of the covenant, and thou art in that nature that God hath cursed from him, and it's in vain for thee to bless it. And this is the cause why nothing you do is accepted, because it is performed in the disobedient cursed nature, and there is Cain's sacrifice, and Esau's prayers and tears. And you that abide in that nature are of those who said, "Why have we fasted and prayed, and thou hast not regarded?" You call, but receive no answer. But did you but mind that in your conscience which is pure, you would see how often he hath called to you and checked you for sin, but you have not answered. There might you read the cause why you call but he doth not answer; as he hath said, "Because I called and <220> you would not answer, therefore when you cry, I will not answer."
And thus it is with you who observe the outward worships but mind not the Spirit which is given to profit withal in the worship; and though all have a measure, yet you that hide your talent cannot pray with the Spirit, nor with the understanding; and so your fellowship is with the form, but not in the power; with men,71 but not with God; and so your times are in your own hands; and you have resolved them beforehand; and you have a time to pray, and a time to play; a time to abstain from your lusts, and a time to fulfill your lusts; a day to abstain from the world, and days72 to conform to the world; and thus not being guided with that Spirit which is before all, to lead and bring you out of time, you are still in observations, and your times of religion, and your times in the world; your customs in religion, and your customs in the world, are both in your own will and corrupt nature, and so your prayers are abomination, and your plowing sin. But the times of sons and daughters are not in their own hands; and this we have learned of Jesus in Spirit not to please ourselves, nor be men-pleasers, but to be obedient to another principle, which moves contrary to the will of men, for him we witness who is not born after the will of man, but which the73 will of man could never own, who by the wills of men ever suffered, where he is born into the world; and the same this day is manifest, a seed contrary to the seed of evildoers, and a righteousness that exceeds the righteousness of the world, that which is amongst the greatest professions; and this is that holiness without which none shall see God. But, say you, this is that righteousness we believe in, and by which we are justified, by that blood which was shed at Jerusalem, and by that obedience that was in him, and by that holiness; but that the want of his righteousness in us, or that want of Christ or his blood in us can hinder our justification, that we deny, and look upon it to be heresy and false doctrine; for it is Christ without us that hath satisfied for sin, and not Christ in us; and his blood without us, and his righteousness without us; and his faith and patience, meekness and sufferings, hope and love, and obedience, &c.; it's these without us that whoever believes in shall be saved, and by this faith the ungodly is justified.
<221> To which I say, he that believes not what Christ suffered at Jerusalem, with all74 his obedience and righteousness, and that he bare our sins in his own body on the cross, and trod the winepress alone, and alone was well-pleasing to the Father, and that in him alone redemption is placed and wrought by him, with much more which may be truly said of him;75 I say, whosoever believes not this, cannot be saved, neither can he76 ever come to receive Christ within him, working and witnessing the same in Spirit, as is declared in the letter: nor can he come to witness him that's greater in him, than he that's in the world, giving him victory over the devil, sin, and the world; because God hath placed all power in heaven and earth in him; and without faith in him who is that power, none can come to it nor receive it, but in him whom God hath freely given it; nor can any have him and be without it, all the promises of life and salvation being in him yea and amen.
But now you that make the receiving of him to stand in a bare confessing with the tongue, when the heart believes not unto righteousness, and that this is that faith, a persuasion from the letter or from the knowledge of others, that such a one77 died at Jerusalem and rose again, and from thence conclude that all shall be saved and are78 believers that profess this faith, though they come not to the fellowship of his sufferings and resurrection in themselves, and so come to witness his death and79 life manifest in their mortal flesh, and so the body of sin put off by the body,80 and washed with the blood of Christ, and so be baptized into his death, dead with him to sin and alive with him to righteousness and true obedience to the Father81 in their measures.
I say, you that say that a bare persuasion or outward confession is that faith that justifies the ungodly, without Christ in them; then what are you doing when you say, Stand off me for I am more holy than thou, and are gathering from them who all believe with this faith as well as you, only they differ from you in other practices, as some open sins and the like; and why have not the greatest drunkards <222> and swearers, or whoremongers, as good right to Christ and church fellowship as you have? or why do you hinder them from that which you call the seals or sacraments seeing that faith in Christ is the ground of interest in him, to all that belongs to Christ?
Do not you according to your own principle exclude believers even of the same faith with you? And who are those unbelievers you tell on who are condemned? And to whom do you preach faith in these nations, seeing you can find none in them who are come to understanding, Papist nor Protestant, but they believe this with you, that Christ died at Jerusalem? If hereby they be justified before God, how dare you charge anything upon them or separate from them, if God have owned them? Also many hundred thousand pounds a year may be spared which are spent under this pretense, as to make people believers, when all they preach to are believers already and have that faith that justifies the ungodly.82 And whose is the righteousness people are exhorted to bring forth, if the righteousness of Christ that's necessary to salvation be only without them; then whose is that you call for within them? But if you say they must have some of the righteousness of Christ within them and the rest without them, then why do not you describe a measure, that people may know how much to look for,83 and when they come to an end of their labors; and how much they must do before Christ will undertake to do the rest? Or if Christ have done all, how much of it must they do over again before they come to their rest and to be accepted; and differ84 what it is that must be brought forth from within and what must be believed without but not enjoyed within?85
But thus you lie in confusion; from which by that faith which stands in Jesus we are freed and have received his righteousness to which we are obedient, by which we are purified by bringing forth that which he begetteth, as formerly we were defiled by bringing forth that which was begotten by the devil, and so through obedience of the Spirit our souls are purified, and we become conformable to him that's gone before us, who received light and obedience and power from the Father, and so became the first fruits <223> unto perfection and holiness, through whom we receive power for obedience, grace for grace, by which we are saved, and our life is in him, and our obedience, and he is all in us, which we receive of the Father;86 yea beyond all that you know or can believe, who know not Christ in you. So you have set up a reprobate faith, that you cannot but be servants of sin while you live in this world, and so are to every good work reprobate.
But you use to say, you have that which Christ did in his own person evidenced to you, that he did it for you particularly, which drunkards, swearers, and the like have not. I say your evidence is but in words and conceits, who know not Christ in you, no more than theirs is: you are persuaded and hope it is so, and so are they also, but neither of you bring forth the fruits that are his. But you say, you bring forth better fruits than drunkards and swearers. I say, the best fruit that's brought forth in either, which is not the work of God by Christ in you, is but self-righteousness, and all your self-actings on performances in your own wills is no better. But you say, you do what you can, and God accepts the will for the deed, but so do not those who are openly wicked. I say God accepts no will but his own, and this he begets by his Spirit in all that wait upon him in the light of Jesus, and with such he that begets the will begets the deed also, and it is no more what we can, but what he will, with whom all things are possible; and we can do nothing, neither do we desire to do anything, of ourselves, yet can we do all things that he wills, through him that is in us, so the will of God is done in us by his power (in our measures) as it is in heaven, and this is perfect righteousness, where Christ is all and the creature nothing. And as for your doing, and others not doing; I say everyone hath that opinion of himself, that he is not so bad as others, and with this the devil deceives you, to keep all in his kingdom. And by this opinion of yours none is to be condemned, who hath any worse than himself in his doings; for this must needs follow from the best to the worst, unless you describe how far it must go, and no further; and then must you needs shut out some who have endeavored as much against sin in their own strength as as ever you did in yours.
<224> I have known a drunkard shed more tears, set stronger resolutions, and make more vows against that filthy sin of drunkenness, than ever I knew the greatest professor do against his secret covetousness, which is idolatry: nay, the highest professors can plead for it (though not under that name) and make a trade on it, which the other is ashamed to do for his drunkenness. Now if God had placed righteousness and acceptance in doing what one can,87 then why should not the first of these be accepted as well as the latter; seeing he prays and weeps and doth what he can88 to overcome it? And thus all sorts of89 people in the world, who know not Christ and his strength in them, which alone is appointed by God to overcome sin for all that receive him, I say, you are all in confusion, laboring to no purpose, one condemning another, thereby to get peace to yourselves, but all under the curse, and so is the fruit you bring forth, because it is not in Jesus and he in you, in whom the Father hath placed fruit and acceptance, peace and reconciliation, to whom all shall confess forever.
And now to all honest hearts, in whom there is a seed of God,90 who are thus scattered in this body of confusion, having lost the way of truth, peace, and righteousness, so that you cannot come to that which makes perfect but are at a loss with all you can do, and are condemned with that in your conscience that you are not covered with the righteousness of God but are found naked and miserable. I say, that which condemns you who are out of the way is the light that leads to the way, for whatsoever makes manifest is light; so that which makes manifest your darkness is that light that shines in darkness to lead out of darkness, that condemns you while you are in it. But that which cries peace in darkness is the prince of darkness, to keep in darkness. That which condemns the world is the light of the world, given to lead out of the world all that believe and follow it; and such are justified by the light, that their deeds are wrought in God and by him; which light reproves the evil deeds not wrought by him.
I say this is the light of Christ given into the world, that whosoever believes and follows shall not abide in darkness but have the light of life. Now read all the Scriptures and see if there be <225> any other covenant but this covenant of light, and this is the life which is the light of men, which darkness comprehends not, nor the world knows not, in which alone the power is placed, which whoever receives becomes the sons of God, as the Father hath appointed, which he will not alter, the covenant, for all the world: therefore all that are out of the light are out of the covenant where God hath placed his power. And if you would give your goods to the poor and your bodies to the fire, it's to no purpose, because you are out of this love of the Father. Therefore all are first called to believe in the light ere they can be accepted: for without faith it is impossible to please God or be found in his work, or receive his power; so all your labor brings not forth that which is accepted, but with the light is condemned, that it is not perfect, and so you sit down in sorrow; notwithstanding all your labors which are out of the light, where God hath promised no peace nor power; for God doth not manifest his works in the darkness but in the light, that all the children of light may see and praise him who doth all for his own glory, which the children of darkness see not, who are out of the light of Christ. So such talk of what God hath done and what he will do, but know him not at present, nor his power.91
Therefore this I say to all who desire to know him, that you stand still in the light of Jesus, that you may come to see the life and its movings, and the power of death and its movings; that you may see what spirit works obedience and what spirit works disobedience, so shall you see what's done in the body; if the eye be single, then is there no place for darkness, but it is discovered. So with the light you come to discern each spirit and each principle, and their several workings; and that the one is the powers92 that works in the light, which works to obedience; the other is the powers92 that works in darkness and works to disobedience: and as God hath appointed that the one shall not work in darkness, so the other shall not work in the light; for as he hath given to the devil the powers of darkness to work93 in the children <226> of darkness, that they all may be damned who will not receive the light, so hath he94 reserved the light pure, and therein placed his power, that so none may fail who believe in it; and here is the blessing and the cursing, the election and reprobation, the light and the darkness, both which the light discovers as it arises in all who in it believe and wait. And if you abide in the light you will see none can curse what God hath blessed, nor bless what he hath cursed. For as the one of these leads up to the life from whence it comes, all that believe and follow it, so the other down to death all that abide in it; for none in the light did ever perish, nor out of it was ever saved, whatever is their profession.
In the light is the power, and the power in the light, for this is one in Christ Jesus; and in this light if you keep waiting, with it you shall see the motions of sin which are after the flesh, working in you, drawing your minds after them to obey them; and you shall see at the same time the motions of the Spirit in the meek principle, drawing you to the contrary. So that if you be not rash to follow the motions of the flesh, but of the light take counsel, you shall see every word and action discovered to you, in the light, of what sort they are of, from what root they arise and what they tend to; and here you come to the knowledge of sin, and who begets it in the creature, and the knowledge of righteousness, and who begets it in the creature; and here in plainness you come to see your Father, and whose children you are, even his whom you obey; for if you bring forth the works of the devil which he begets in you, then are you his children; but if you deny the works of the devil and bring them to the light, then God gives you power to bring forth what he will beget in you in the light; and men seeing that work of God brought forth into the world, thereby is God glorified: and this is not only a talking of God, but a living to him in your measure, and here shall you grow up (in the obedience) in the knowledge of Christ, and learn him of God, and the way to him; so "everyone that hath learned of the Father cometh to me" (John 6:44-45). And none can come to me, except my Father draw them; so shall you see the law written in the hearts, which discovers lust and uncleanness; even in your hearts in the first rise of it; and you will come to see that <227> this law is pure and must be fulfilled every jot and tittle,95 and when you see none of themselves can fulfill it in its righteousness and purity, then is way made for Christ; and so96 is the schoolmaster to lead to him where the righteousness is placed, and power to fulfill it, who is the end of it for righteousness to every one that believes. And as your minds are kept to this law that God hath written to show sin and evil, you will come to see the power that sin hath got over you, and that you are wholly polluted and sold under it; then will you see the great transgression, and the fear of God will appear in you, and so your hearts will grow tender in his fear, which is but the beginnings of the knowledge of God and his wisdom. And so waiting in the light you will come to see openings and breathings after Christ Jesus, in which abiding and waiting low in the fear you will come to see some openings and promises of the Father's love to that seed which is breathing in you after him, and some hopes of pardon of sin in Christ Jesus,97 which condition many have come to, and then have lost their condition by the mind's getting out of the fear and flesh exalting into the promise, and so come to get the wound healed before death be slain, and so loses that little communion they had with God afar off, but never come so far as to the washing thoroughly, nor to the marriage, but the light mind gets into this and tattles it out to others, and calls it experience, yet never came so far as to see Christ and the Father, yet after these doth the world wonder, notwithstanding they live in the same filthiness as they did formerly; yet say they, I have assurance so many years since, and the promise of God is sure, and his covenant cannot be broken, but cannot see that the condition is lost, and the seed is buried under the earthly pleasures, to which the promise was; for the promise is to the seed which is one, not to seeds which is many (Gal. 3:16). Not to the fleshly man which is now got up, but to the spiritual seed which is meek and lowly, which God teacheth and blesseth, and the creature that turns to it is blessed, because of that meek spirit into which they are turned, and should be forever, if in it they did continue; for to it is the covenant which cannot be broken; therefore all that <228> depart out of it, it will not follow, for then should not the covenant stand sure in that seed which is but one: one heart, one mind, one soul, one spirit; and whosoever receives this unity of faith shall find this covenant sure: but this was never placed in the worldly seed, but in the spiritual; so the carnal is death and hell, that's its covenant; but the spiritual is life and peace, that's its covenant; and each covenant stands sure to them who are in them. So that creature who was sometimes tender and lowly minded, and that seed awakened to which is the promise, not waiting in the promise till it be performed; the creature turns into the world where the curse is, and there inherits, yet is the covenant sure to the seed, and all that abide in it; and this all witness who have waited in their measure.98
And if you abide faithful in the light waiting, you will be so far from turning into the liberty of the flesh that you will see every vain thought and imagination judged, in the first motion, and the ground of all sin you will see laid open, and so come to see the axe laid to the root of the corrupt tree, that hath brought forth the evil fruit, which is John's ministry, and the baptism of repentance, and so be led on to him who fulfills all righteousness. And that kingdom you will hear preached at hand, which consists not in words but in power; then vain babblers you will come to see and avoid, and be brought only to press after righteousness and so see your light grow and spring up to the burning and shining, 'til the day-star arise in your hearts; then will you cease to put God and Christ afar off you, and wait to see Christ in you the hope of glory; and so come to see Christ in you the light, the way, the truth, and the life; and not to have your light and life to seek in a book without you, nor from men, but Christ your life in you, made manifest in your mortal bodies; and so coming to the Son, and to see him revealed, by him come to have the Father revealed also, and so come to the knowledge of God, which is life eternal, even God in his temple, where he is worshipped in Spirit and truth; and this truth in you, and this God in you, then shall you know that your bodies are the temples of the living God, as he hath said, "I will dwell in them and walk <229> in them" (2 Cor. 6:16); "and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you" (1 Cor. 3:16). By which Spirit he is worshipped, and by the same Spirit you are taught, and this is not known by hearsay nor got by imitation, nor taught in the imaginations, but through death it is learned, only in those who in the light are guided, and by the Spirit kept, in the fire and in the water, where death is slain, faith purified, and the body cleansed and purged from its dross and filthiness, patience given and proved, and all the gifts and graces of God which vain minds talk on, but know not but in words, these to be waited for in the light, received in the faith, and proved in the patience, to the bringing the creature wholly to rely upon God in the worst condition, even at their wits' ends, when all the world fails and becomes enemies, then to fall into the defense of God alone, or when the world tempts with the greatest pleasures, then to deny all for the love of God; this is soon talked on, but none can have it but who have received it in the same way of obedience that Christ hath gone before, and leads in Spirit and power all his after him, who believe in his light and follow it: then may you say, follow us as we follow Christ, and walk as you have us for examples; till then you are but imitators, and out of the life and power, and so lead one another into forms and traditions, but deny the power which should give you victory over sin in this world; and so you get the saints' words, but their lives you have not, that you look for in another world, but in the meantime go on to fill up the measure of evil, and so go to the grave in fear and torment. And all those calls and reproofs of the Spirit of light in your own hearts, now by you slighted, are by him recorded and remains a testimony against you till that dreadful appearance of the righteous judge and heart-searcher, showing his love tendered and his desire to save from sin and condemnation; which love being rejected, there is no escaping condemnation.
And you that have formed a notion of Christ in your own imaginations, so as your pride, lust, riot and oppression may be exalted, and you in them; and now your eyes are abroad, expecting his coming without you in observations of days, years, persons and forms, lo here, lo there, and the time and manner of his reign you are jangling about, and what a one he shall be, and which of you shall be greatest at his coming, and suchlike conceits without you, <230> hath the enemy up991 amongst you, till you have wholly lost the savor of Christ within, and can neither know his appearance in yourselves, nor believe him100 in others in whom he is101 come, nor know what a one he shall be: what a Christ is this you are looking for? Is he the same that was from the beginning, whose kingdom is not of this world? And do you look for him after another manner than he hath appeared? Is he not the same yesterday, and today, and forever? How hath the enemy of your souls deceived you, and kept you spending hours and days talking of him what he was, and what he will be at a distance without you, but knows not him at hand what he is, so that when he would appear in you to lead you out of the world, you know not his voice, nor will you obey him in Spirit, because he is not come in your form nor teacheth after your will and in your way, so is he now as much set at naught by you builders as ever he was, and you cannot receive him in your hearts, nor is there any room for him in the inn, farther than to take on and express as a covering for your pride and earthly pleasures, let that of God in your consciences be judge betwixt God and you herein, how you receive the Son of his love, the despised one; search your hearts therewith and see: can you receive him who is set as a sign everywhere to be spoken against? Will you bear his marks in your body? Will you take up his cross daily and bear his reproach? Will you own him in whippings, stonings, mockings and temptations, and to be counted the filth of the world and offscouring of all things for his name sake? Can you be willing to be accounted fools, that his wisdom may be manifest in you? Will you bear his reproach in stocks and prisons and dungeons, and to be numbered amongst transgressors? Will you confess him before men to the loss of your estates and to the casting out of the synagogues? Will you own him in leading you through the loss of all your unjust gain and oppression in your tradings, or will you follow him to yea and nay in all your occasions? Shall nothing separate you from the love of God in him who is rejected of all the world? This is our Christ, and this is his condition in this world as ever it was, and this is his glory to carry his people through all these things, and above all these into the eternal kingdom of the Father, and them <231> present perfect without spot or wrinkle or any such thing; and this is he whom the world cannot receive, nor all you who are in the world's pleasures can see any comeliness in him, nor beauty that you should desire him; that eye is blind that jangles about him afar off in the carnal comprehensions and sensual wisdom, it's the eye of faith that seeth him present (in the measure) and leads to follow him, and he that believes hath the witness in himself, wherewith his glory is seen in the eternal the same to all generations that will receive him who is the light of the world, yet not of this world nor his glory, from whose root springs righteousness, mercy and judgment, who is meek and lowly, a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief, who takes no pleasure in unrighteousness, to set up pride, but shakes his hand at the gain of oppression, who strikes at your life in all unrighteousness, and that's his witness in you, which calls you out of their102 vain things, that with his light he might lead you out of the world, there to commune with you about your backslidings and show your transgressions, and the everlasting covenant of the Father's love, even the eternal inheritance which none can come to but who receives his witness in the light, a cross to all the world's lovers, and its glory. So if you can receive him you may; if not, this I say to you: your expectation will fail, who look for his appearance in the worldly glory, or after your imaginations, who judge him to be like yourselves or such a one as you would have him, who have changed your glory for fading things.103
Do you think the Lamb hath changed his glory because the beast is got up into his seat? Nay, his glory is the same, though you have changed your God and have bowed down to the prince of this world and his glory, and hath committed adultery therewith, yet God is the same and changes not. Wherefore come down you painted harlots, you adulterers and adulteresses, whose minds would uphold carnal delights and yet profess the name of the Lord Jesus, you are an ill savor to the nations whom the Lord is about to gather, who say you are the people of God but live worse than the heathen, you are the enemies of God, and your profession stinks in his nostrils; will he accept your words when your lives preach rebellion openly and have begot a faith in one another to believe that God will accept you herein, and a Christ <232> you look for conformable to your kingdom of pride and worldly glory, self-worship and respect of persons, whither you have followed the heathen into that principle where man errs, thither are you gone out of the faith of Christ, which stands not in respect of persons, neither can you believe who receive honor one of another, so your hope shall perish and your sorrow and your end shall come upon you in one day, except you return, though now you put it afar off, yet shall you see that vain words shall not save where light and life is denied.
And you whose unity stand in the visibles and by them are gathered together, and there you receive and know one another, and that you make the door to receive into your church, and without it no communion, whose knowledge is outward and your worships outward, as in words, or water, bread or drink,104 or any carnal perishing things, though good in their time and place to them who in their place could use them; yet were they not given as the substance, but as the shadows, not in the place of God, but in way of obedience to God, as many other carnal things which in their place and time were not to be omitted; as temple, circumcision, sacrifices, brazen serpent, which were good till set in the place of God, and105 they who had them set them up against truth and righteousness, and became as bad if not worse than they that had them not, yet blessed themselves in their evil ways because of them and excluded all else. Then the Lord departed out of them and left them empty and desolate, and his next appearance cried them down without and set up the substance of them within, so that God hath been forced all along to pull106 down what he himself did set up, though ever so good; yet if carnal, the carnal mind would get into it and adulterate from the maker; as you may read in the Scriptures how many things he hath laid waste upon that account, even at his appearance in some of his sons and daughters, even such things as he had said should be signs forever, yet their abuse caused the servants of God to cry them down: so your carnal things wherein God and his power and righteousness is not, your setting them up instead of Christ, makes them odious to all that know Christ, and they cannot see that which belongs to God given to any creature and be silent: but you will say, they are commands of God, and <233> there is no Scripture for taking them away; I say, those carnal things are but commands, as circumcision and the passover were, and many other, yet were they taken away without letter, by that Spirit that gave them, when they were abused; what letter had Hezekiah to take away the brazen serpent and break it in pieces? What scripture had Paul to cry down circumcision when he saw it abused, though he had circumcised? What scripture had Paul to deny that he was sent to baptize, when he saw them abuse it, and setting it up above Christ and many other things which by the Spirit of God was removed, when idolized; for which the literal observers who denied the Spirit's teaching counted them blasphemers, as you do now; and so by such they suffered for holding forth the substance and denying the shadows to such as idolized them, though otherwise the shadows had been lawful: nor do I judge any that do it in obedience and so comes up above it; but all you that stick in these outward things, contending about dipping or sprinkling but neglect the power and life; you are the Jews of these days, who strive about outward washings, some for young and some for old; but in the meantime, all out of the power and in the world, in your own wills and worldly pleasures and profits, pride and covetousness; some for free will, others not, but all in your own wills: and thus while you are about these things received by tradition, the law of God written in your hearts is made of none effect, nay you cannot own it, that there is anything to guide or give the knowledge of God; so you have a form of God, but the world hath power over you and in you, and so are become a reproach to religion; wherefore come out of the world and the power of darkness, and come to the guide of the Spirit of truth, that you may be set free to the Lord from the rudiments,107 and follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth; then shall you see him separating you from the world in the substance of truth, in mercy and righteousness, before you be hardened in your wickedness and your forms be left to you desolate, and a strange thing come upon you, which is seen concerning some of you, who will not now own his appearance who before all form is. Will it not be a strange thing to see you, who above all have cried out for liberty of conscience and against persecution, who have been persecuted for conscience sake, to see you <234> become the most subtle persecutors that ever were in108 this generation? Be not grieved at109 these things, for God is bringing strange things to pass, which you will not believe though it be told you; but when it is come upon you, remember you have been told, for the Lord is gathering his seed out from the heathen where it hath been scattered, and who will not be gathered, shall be scattered, and who will not come into the kingdom of the Lamb must be left amongst the beasts; and when man denies the Spirit of God to lead him, he is no better; who hath blinded that eye that foresees the evil, shall fall into mischief ere he be aware.
And you rulers, magistrates, and governors, who have the sword of the Lord in your hands, to rule in righteousness and judgment, there is one thing needful for you to mind, that you know the Lord to be your judge and law-giver in particular, without which you cannot rule for God, nor as deserving the name of Christians: the heathen exercised lordship in their own wills,a and there is but one thing that differs you from them; if you rule for God, and after his will, so as to give way that he may set up his kingdom in the soul, who hath set you up to rule amongst men: and you cannot rule for God unless you be ruled by him; but if you have received his law written in your hearts, and his judgments there, and his power and authority, and your souls subject thereto for conscience sake, even to that power that is of God, to come under it, and the principle of everlasting judgment and righteousness to reign in you and rule you, and with that power and authority upon you, and with you, you go forth to judge his people and the heathen: then you rule with God and for God; and with his power and authority which you have received and to which you are joined, are you justified before the Lord God, for whom you judge; and his law in every conscience shall answer to your judgment, that it is just and of God; and so to that power of God and his authority shall every soul be subject, not only for fear, but also for conscience sake, so you become ministers of God to others; but if you depart out of the counsel of God and the leadings <235> of his Spirit, and get up into the seat of those that went before you, and take counsel at yourselves and your policy, to establish your wills as a law, and have not respect to the law written in the heart; but contrary to it, set up respect of persons and places instead of judgment and righteousness, then it must needs be that all who have respect to the everlasting law and power of God in Spirit, must suffer by you, as witnesses against you, as the prophets, apostles and martyrs have done against your forefathers, till the Lamb's testimony be finished and ended against you also; yet are not we despisers of authority herein, no more than they were, who in subjection to that power ordained of God, suffered by the wills of men, who should have defended them by that power from the wills of men, who are not subject to that power of God; so by men who deny that power that is ordained of God, to rule in them; by those do such suffer as obey that power, yet are the innocent ever accused to be against the power, who are but against men's wills, in obedience to the power, and this is no new thing in this world: but our judgment remains sure, and to that power we appear, which no man's will can alter; to which all shall confess, and every knee bow, when he shall judge, who now suffers. And if they shall depart into everlasting punishment who doth not minister to him in prison, then what will your doom be who cast him into prison, now that he is come into the world? And if the not knowing of him will not excuse such as do not minister to him, then what excuse for you who call him vagabond, stranger, deceiver, devil, &c., and think no place bad enough to cast the body into, in whom he is? And if into everlasting fire with the devil and his angels they must go, who do not visit him in prison; then what way will you escape, who will not suffer any of his brethren or servants to visit him, though they be moved to come from far to do it? And though you may read all this in the words of truth, from his own mouth (Matt. 25), yet I know you that are in your own wills can no more believe these words than the Jews and their rulers; though you know it is he that spoke those words, and confess it to be the word of the Lord, which the Jews did not know, so your guilt is greater. And though our freedom is in the Lord, and we look not for it from men; nay, though some of you the more you be warned, the more you harden yourselves against God; yet while we are moved of the Lord we cannot be silent, if by any <236> means some of you might turn to the light and search your ways therewith, and so be joined to him and established in his power, which is the desire of our souls for you. That with the honor of God you may come to be honored, which none can have who seek for honor from men. So you who desire to see into the ways of God, consider these things following.
Did ever any that ruled for God seek for their honor from men, or doth God honor such? or did ever any want honor who sought the honor of God only and not their own?
Is not the spirit of meekness, justice, and mercy, without respect of persons, the Spirit of the living God, which being in a magistrate, he is most like God, which makes him everlastingly honorable here and hereafter; which is true honor and authority?
Is it not want of this Spirit that hath made rulers contemptible, and laid them open to plots, murders, and the lusts of seditious people in all ages, which the Spirit of God keeps out of, and makes their latter end a blessing to following generations?
Was not persecution ever blind, or did ever the princes of this world know the Lord of life, by whom he hath suffered in all ages, though they have been always warned of it before they did it? or did ever the innocent suffer but under the pretense of offenders?
Was not Christ and those in whom he was most seen ever110 pilgrims and strangers in the earth, such as you now call vagabonds and wanderers, whip and imprison, though they ask you nothing, nor ever are beholden to the world, wherein their rest is not; which God foreseeing hath commanded all that own him to entertain strangers; and made a law for it, which you have a law against it?b Is it not the principal end of magistrates to judge the cause of the strangers, poor, and helpless, to relieve the oppressed and set the prisoners free, &c. And how you do this, let that of God in your consciences judge for him, till he appear to plead the cause of him that hath no helper in the earth.
a. Mark 10.
b. Lev. 19:34; Heb. 13:2.
1. There is a 1656 edition of this pamphlet; footnotes will indicate where it differs from the 1655. Whitehead seems to have worked from the 1656 edition.
2. 1656 edition adds "the cause of all blindness and condemnation."
3. W. changes "the same" to "his own."
4. Thomason date: Sept. 3, 1655.
5. Whitehead changes "of his is" to "is and will be."
6. W. omits "which."
7. W. omits "a measure of."
8. W. inserts "God by."
9. 1656 changes "selves" to "souls."
10. Whitehead changes "he" to "the new birth."
11. W. changes "he" to "it."
12. 1656 inserts "they and you."
13. 1656 inserts "and so to the good work is not reprobate."
14. Whitehead changes "With it" to "by which light."
15. W. changes "not perfect, is" to "sinful, are in"
16. W. changes "within" to "abiding in."
17. W. changes "to have no more word than the devil hath, who" to "hath not life, though he."
18. Whitehead changes "no faith but as the devils" to "not the true faith."
19. 1656 inserts: "And as we see with that which is eternal, so we judge, and the world receives not our testimony because the carnal mind is enmity and cannot be subject, nor can the natural man receive the things of the Spirit; only those who minds the light of the Spirit discerns and owns our testimony, and receives our witness and his power, who is true, and so become willing to follow that truth that leads to freedom."
20. 1656 inserts: "Or will he accept your taken on performances* from imitation of others which he leads not to in Spirit? Is not he that commands and he that gives power one, who in Spirit gives out his will to every generation, which they who followed imitations** could never own, nor could he ever own their service, whose fear and worship is taught by the precepts of men and not by his Spirit within?" *Whitehead changes "taken on performances" to "performances which ye have taken on you." **Whitehead inserts "only."
21. Whitehead changes "come into" to "swallowed up in."
22. Whitehead inserts "therein."
23. 1656 inserts "that join with them."
24. Whitehead changes "wanting" to "rejected."
25. W. inserts "thereto."
26. W. changes "that day afar off" to "the day of his power put afar off from."
27. 1656 adds "and delusion."
28. Whitehead changes "for" to "from."
29. 1656 inserts, "for as is every man's faith, so shall be his freedom."
30. Whitehead inserts "these."
31. Whitehead changes "is" to "wax."
32. Whitehead changes "for" to "but."
33. Whitehead changes "have not our keeper, for God hath so concluded it" to "obey not the covenant of light, as God hath ordained."
34. 1656 inserts "the light and join to"
35. Whitehead changes "must enter" to "enters."
36. Whitehead inserts "you."
37. 1656 inserts "and by feeding on that wisdom the veil is thickened."
38. Whitehead inserts "of God."
39. 1656 adds "nor turn to that Spirit."
40. Whitehead omits "the spiritual."
41. Whitehead omits "covenant of."
42. Whitehead changes "below" to "beyond."
43. W. changes "in" to "of."
44. Whitehead changes "divides" to "would divide."
45. W. omits "placed."
46. 1656 adds "whereby the gift is sanctified."
47. W. adds "of Christ."
48. W. inserts "love of the."
49. W. inserts "to."
50. W. inserts "true believers."
51. Whitehead inserts "in the scriptures."
52. Whitehead changes "was no temptation" to "no temptation befell them."
53. Whitehead changes "above" to "from."
54. 1656 adds "into freedom, where Zion's song is sung, which you cannot* unredeemed." *Whitehead inserts "learn whilst."
55. 1656 changes "fruit" to "soul."
56. 1656 omits "will."
57. Whitehead changes "us" to "them."
58. W. changes "that's" to "that by."
59. W. changes "invention" to "inventions."
60. Whitehead changes "God hath appointed the devil to be" to "the devil is."
61. Whitehead changes "our" to "his."
62. Whitehead changes "which is the greatest light you have to" to "even your wisdom, and prudence which you"
63. 1656 inserts "by you who deny the light of Christ."
64. Whitehead inserts "and prevent it."
65. Whitehead replaces "the" with "their."
66. 1656 omits "anything of."
67. 1656 adds "but consult how to banish it out of the nations, as an error not to be tolerated in the world."
68. 1656 changes "likeness" to "holiness."
69. 1656 reads "is it."
70. 1656 inserts "wait for the spirit of prayer, which only is heard, and without which none know what to pray for; and with that prayer which helps the infirmities and gives the understanding:* such are answered in what they pray for." *Whitehead inserts "only."
71. 1656 inserts "in words."
72. Whitehead changes "days" to "a day."
73. Whitehead inserts "fleshly."
74. W. changes "what Christ suffered at Jerusalem, with all" to "in Christ who suffered at Jerusalem,* and" [*W. attaches a footnote here: "where known."]
75. Here Whitehead attaches a footnote: "Mark 16:16."
76. W. inserts "without faith in him."
77. W. changes "such a one" to "Christ."
78. W. inserts "true."
79. W. omits "death and."
80. W. omits "by the body."
81. Whitehead inserts "as true believers witness."
82. Whitehead inserts "in your opinion."
83. Whitehead inserts "within."
84. Whitehead changes "differ" to "distinguish."
85. 1656 adds, "that so people may come to see what is Christ's and what is self-righteousness, and where they are, that they may avoid the one and receive the other?"
86. 1656 inserts "who hath wrought all our works in us, and so ordains peace for us."
87. Whitehead inserts "of himself."
88. W. inserts "(without Christ)."
89. Whitehead changes "all sorts of" to "many."
90. W. changes "there is a seed of God" to "a seed of God hath place."
91. 1656 adds "working all their works in them."
92. Whitehead changes "powers" to "power."
93. W. changes "and as God hath appointed that the one shall not work in darkness, so the other shall not work in the light; for as he hath given to the devil the powers of darkness to work" to "For the devil, the power of darkness, who works."
94. Whitehead changes "so hath he" to "but God hath."
95. Whitehead omits "every jot and tittle."
96. 1656 inserts "the law."
97. 1656 inserts "and so come to see the law and the prophets prophesying."
98. 1656 adds "though he that turns from it is damned." Whitehead changes "damned" to "condemned."
99. Whitehead changes "up" to "set up."
100. Whitehead inserts "to be."
101. Whitehead inserts "spiritually."
102. W. changes "their" to "these."
103. 1656 adds "and so imagine of him also."
104. Whitehead changes "drink" to "wine."
105. Whitehead inserts "till."
106. Whitehead changes "been forced all along to pull" to "pulled."
107. 1656 inserts "which God is departed out of."
108. 1656 inserts "the world, you in"
109. 1656 changes "at" to "to hear."
110. Whitehead omits "ever."