The wisdom from beneath, which leads into bondage, and the wisdom from above, which leads up into perfect liberty, where there is freedom and communion with the Father and the Son.
Dear friends, all mind your Guide within you, even the pure light of God, which bears witness against all our ungodly ways, ungodly words, thoughts, works and worships, which are after the world, and leads you without from the Lord your Guide, for what stands in outward things, devised in the will and brain, which is the serpent's seat, is accursed from God, kept out of the kingdom, where the earthly will has liberty, leads out to visible things, and feeds upon dust, which is the serpent's meat: But you, who desire to be fed with that which is eternal, lay aside all your wisdom, which is natural, for the natural man receives not the spiritual things of God; for that wisdom shall never know God which stands in the will of man, but darkens the pure light in you, and opposes it. And if you abide in the pure light within, you shall see that whatever the light of Christ makes appear to be evil, and to be cast off; then the other, which stands in mans wisdom, makes a covering for it, that it may abide still.
And thus the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and that wisdom which arises out of the earth opposes that which is from above, and calls evil good, and good evil; and the woe being upon that nature, you can have no peace while that stands. And from hence comes all your troubles and darkness within you, because that eye which is open to the visible, offends. And here you are shut out of the kingdom, which consists in righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost: But were that eye plucked out, and you turned within, to see with that eye that is single, then the whole body would be full of light: And abiding in that light, it will show you a path which leads to purity and holiness, without which none shall ever see the Lord: And it will let you see a law written in your hearts, even the righteous law of the new covenant, which is a book sealed to all the wisdom of the world, and none can read it but by the pure light that gave it forth; which light, as it arises in you, it will open all parables, and read all Scriptures within you, in your measure.
And so you will come to the unity with all the Saints in measure, and so come to Christ the First-born, even to the innumerable company of angels, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to God the Judge of all, where no serpents wisdom shall ever come. And the law being laid open, will be a limit to the carnal mind when it would run forth; and the Judge will appear, who will pass true judgment upon all things as they are within you, and a separation will be made between the precious and the vile in you, and you will be brought to discern what leads to obedience, and what leads to disobedience. And here is your true Teacher, whereby all shall be taught of God, as says the Scripture: And minding this light, it will show you a cross to be daily taken up, whereby all the unruly nature must be crucified, for all must be brought subject to the yoke, even the most rebellious and stiff-necked in you; for He will tread upon the necks of kings, and that which has captivated the Pure in you must go into captivity; for now the Lord is risen to disquiet the earth, and them that are at rest, yea, Woe to them that are at ease in Zion; for He is risen who is to rule all nations with a rod of iron, and to deliver the oppressed, and to set open the prison-doors, and to set the prisoners free, that they may serve Him, and praise His name, even the name of the Lord, holy and pure, blessed forevermore.
And, dear friends, be faithful in what you know, take heed of making a profession of what you are not, and so you be found dissemblers before the Lord, but keep low in meekness and patience, standing in the will of God in all things. And all those enemies that will not that Christ should reign over them bring them before the Judge that they may be slain, even upon that cross that is daily to be taken up, for the cross is to the carnal, wild, heady, brutish nature in you, which lies above the Seed of God in you, and oppresses the Pure. Now giving this up to be crucified, makes way for that which is pure to arise, and guide your minds up to God, there to wait for power and strength against whatever the light of God makes manifest to be evil, and so to cast it off, and so you shall see where your strength lies, and who it is in you that works the will and the deed, and then you shall be brought into a possession of what you have but had a profession, and find the power of what you had but in words, which is hid from all professions in the world, and is revealed no other way, but by the pure light of God dwelling in you, and you in it.
Take heed of searching into the hidden things of God by your own wisdom, which is carnal, for that has God shut out of the kingdom, and separated it from Him, and the things of God and His kingdom are hid from it, and it is appointed for utter darkness, accursed from Him, and does oppose Him in all things: And in all ages, the wisdom of the great men of the earth have persecuted the pure wisdom of God, and accounted it foolishness; and God has said this shall come to naught. And abiding in the pure light of Christ within, you shall see that same wisdom in yourselves, will be consulting and leading you any way, rather than to wait on the pure light. And this has been a tempter from the beginning, and has eaten of the forbidden fruit, and that which has eaten of the tree of knowledge, must not taste of the tree of life; but shall surely die. And the flaming sword is to this wisdom: therefore turn your minds within, and wait for a wisdom from above, which begins with the fear of the Lord, which is pure, peaceable, gentle and easy to be entreated. And if you keep your eye to this, you shall see, as this grows, which is pure, there will be a death to that which is sensual and carnal, and of the serpent; and as you grow in this pure, you will grow in the knowledge of Christ within you. And this is not to be attained by seeking without, Lo here and Lo there, but only by keeping your eye within to the invisible, and giving diligent ear to that voice that speaks to the soul and spirit, for the ministry of Christ is to the spirits in prison, not to the outward, but to the inward man, which is led captive and imprisoned by that serpentine wisdom that rules in the outward, and by which it is kept in death; which once coming to hear the voice of Christ, it is raised from death to life; And then that Scripture is fulfilled, The dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live. And this being once restored to life, is that which has fellowship with the Father and the Son; yea, it is one with them. And this is that which, as it arises, overcomes the world in you, and gets the victory and obtains the crown: for it is the promised Seed, and Heir of all the promises in this life, and that which is to come: But there is no agreement between this and the seed of the serpent, for wherever the serpent's wisdom seeks after this, it is that he may slay it; but God has hid it from him, and does hide it out of the serpent's sight. But that Seed sees the serpent where he is, and does judge him, and condemn him, and bruise his head. How deep are Thy counsels, O Lord! past finding out!
All laboring and striving by forms, customs and traditions, come short of that worship in Spirit and in truth. The two ways which men walk in, viz. The spiritual and the carnal, the difference between them; and how you may know them by their fruits.
All men and women that make a profession, and go under the name of Christians, and say you love Jesus Christ; mind Him whom you profess, that you may be taught by Him in all your ways and worships, and do not suffer yourselves to be deceived any longer by fair speeches, and flattering high notions, by which you have been blinded for many years, and led on to worship God in outside forms and customs, after the traditions and commandments of men, which, by imaginary imitations and consultations, they have set up for their own ends, and have made laws to bind the people to observe them, contrary to that light shining into the conscience (the throne of Christ) and the practice of Christ and His Apostles; and so have made the Word of God of none effect by their traditions. But neither they nor you have known the true God, who is worshipped in Spirit: for whosoever sins has not seen Him, nor known Him. He that says, I know Him, and keeps not His commandments is a liar; nor have you fellowship with Him, nor an answer of acceptance from Him though you have been worshippers in your formal customs all your time, and have many times afflicted yourselves from morning till evening, yet no answer.
And herein, how much you have resembled those four hundred worshippers in Elijah's time, if ever your eyes be open, you will see. But the living God is not as the dumb idols to those who know Him; for whom He accepts, He answers, and has done in all ages, and they are brought into union with Him, and know Him, and how He will be worshipped; not by hear-say, but from Him alone. And their worship is not an imitation by the letter, but they are all taught of Him, everyone in his measure, and they walk and worship Him by His Word, and the Word is nigh them, in their hearts and in their mouths, by which they are guided, and they know His voice: But these are sheep, such as are born again, of the Spirit, not after the will of man, but after the will of God.
But there is a generation, whose sacrifice God does not accept, whose prayers are abomination, and whose plowing is sin, who pollute all they meddle with, who are hated of the Lord, whom Christ prays not for; for they, their sacrifice, and all they do are accursed from God. And these are in the first birth children of wrath, and enemies to God.
Now, all people, try yourselves, whether you be in the first birth, or you be born again: There is a first Adam, and there is a second Adam; and they who are in the first, bear his image; and they who are in the second, bear his image: And as is the earthly, such are they that are earthly; and as is the heavenly, such are they that are heavenly. And these are contrary the one to the other; the one being from above, the other being from below; the one the Seed of God, the other the seed of the serpent, and an enmity is put between them by God, and there can be no uniting them in one; for what concord has Christ with Belial, or the believer and the unbeliever?
The first man is of the earth; minds earthly things, lives in the earth, delights in the earth; lusts after the earth, covets, contends and sues for it; for his treasure is in the earth, and his heart is with it: for it is his portion, and his thoughts, words and wisdom are all employed about it, plotting and forecasting how to compass it, and fetch it out of the hands of others, to heap up: but is never satisfied, but is a servant to it; it is his life, his joy; and if it be taken from him, his comfort is gone: it is his god, and he worships it, and would have all to worship him, because of the abundance of it that he has got together; for he knows no other God, nor greater happiness than what he sees with his carnal eyes. And this all his actions witness; and thus is he exalted above all that is called God, and opposes God in all His commands. When God says, You shall not eat of the tree of knowledge; for if you do you shall die: The serpent says, You may eat of it, and not die, but live better; be as gods. When God says, You shall not bow down, nor worship any creature in heaven or earth: for I am jealous of My honor, and will not have it given to any creature, but will visit that sin to the third and fourth generation; the serpent says, You shall bow down and worship me, and you shall gain by it, and be received into the kingdoms of the earth, and the glory of them, (for there I am prince) and I will bestow great things upon you: but if you will not, I make a decree, sign it with my own ring, and set all my servants to act it, that all your seed shall be cut off out of my dominions in one day. And thus to oppose God, and seek to destroy His Seed where it appears, has been his way from the beginning, and is his way at this day. And here are all you haters, enviers and persecutors, and you are doing his work, and you are acted by him who was a murderer from the beginning.
The second man is the Lord from heaven, and he that bears His image minds heavenly things; for he is spiritual, and judges not according to outward appearance; for the evil eye that offends is plucked out; that eye which leads into invisible things; and there is an eye turned inward, which pierces into the hidden treasure which is eternal, which the natural eye sees not. And having once got a sight of the true riches, he casts away all his idols and idol-worships, and whatever is perishing, and treads upon all that may hinder his enjoyment thereof, though they have been never so dear to him; now it is become base, dross and dung, that he may obtain the invisible riches: and then the first-born, whose heart is in the earth, calls him a fool and a mad-man, and thinks it strange that he will not serve the world, nor the times, for money, nor have mens persons in admiration because of advantage, nor observe the heathenish customs for fear of men; but is made to declare against them in open streets and markets. And then that nature which lives in these things, takes up stones to cast at him, and cries against him in tumults, Away with him, it is not fit he should live, for he breaks all customs and traditions, which we and our fathers have lived in so many years, and turns the world up-side down: But being blind, they cannot see that the Lord is in him, who counts all the customs of the heathen vain, and overturns kingdoms and nations at His will, and thereby makes way for Him to reign, whose right it is.
The old man worships a God at a distance, but knows Him not, nor where He is, but by relation from others, either by word or writing. And as he receives his knowledge of Him from men, so his worship towards Him is taught by the precepts of men; and if men, on whom he depends, command him to go to steeple-house, he goes; if they command him to pray, he prays; if they command him to sing, he sings; if they bid him hear, kneel, sit, stand, fast, or feast, he does it. And here he has fellowship with men, or with those he calls brethren, if he be got into a more strict form; but as for any command from God binding to these, or any communion with God, or answer of acceptance from Him, upon every performance, he looks for no such thing now in these days; as though God was not now the same to His people that He has been in all ages. And thus in vain does he worship, receiving for doctrines the commandments of men, and so uphold and plead for customary worship in a form of tradition, which he is resolved to practice as long as he lives, but as for any other fellowship with God, or knowledge of Him, or overcoming the body of sin, or growing up toward perfection, he looks for none while he is here: but he has set up his stand as far as he intends to go, and if any go any further, or witness any more than he knows, he accounts it blasphemy, and cries out against it, as a thing not to be suffered, and with carnal weapons would force all to his way: but who have eyes open, see him to be blind.
The new man worships a God at hand, where He dwells in His holy temple, and he knows Him by His own Word from His dwelling-place, and not by relation of others. And thus the holy men of God always knew Him; for Abraham did not know Him by what He had spoken to Noah, nor the Prophets by what He had spoken to Abraham, nor the Apostles by what He spoke to the Prophets, nor the Saints by what He spoke to the Apostles; but he that believes has the witness in himself, and thereby sets to his seal that God is true; and therefore Christ exhorts to have salt in yourselves, and the Apostles exhort the Saints to wait for the appearance of Christ in themselves, and to wait for the Day Star arising in their hearts; and they knew themselves to be the sons of God, by the Spirit that He had given them; and so does he that is born of the Spirit: and by the same Spirit that witnesses God dwelling in him, he is taught how, and where, and after what manner He will be worshipped; and he knows what he worships, and he worships in Spirit, and he prays in the Spirit, and sings in the Spirit and with understanding also, and not in form and custom; and he has an ear open to hear what the Spirit says, by which he is taught when and how to pray, to sing, to fast or feast, and he feasts on fat things, whereby the soul is nourished, and feeds not the lust, he feasts the inward man, and not the outward; for all is spiritual. And so grows in the Spirit into near communion with God, and getting victory over sin, the world and the devil. And as he comes into purity, he is changed into the image of the Lord, from glory to glory, and all by the Spirit.
The natural man is carnal, and knows not the things of God, but what he knows naturally, as brute beasts, and therein he does corrupt himself, and does use all his knowledge for corrupt ends; he boasts of learning, and tongues which are natural, and these he uses to defraud, oppress, and over-reach the simple, to revenge, sue, covet and heap together things that are for corruption, and with the same natural knowledge and tongues, he steps into the throne of Christ, and judges of the pure invisible things of God, comparing spiritual things with carnal, and thinks none knows more than he: but knows nothing as he ought to know; yet with this knowledge, and that power he has got in the earth, he sits as judge, and condemns the innocent, and lets the guilty go free: for being spiritually blind, he calls evil good, and good evil; and his seat is in the powers of the earth, and there he sits as lord from the beginning, bearing rule by his means. And here he exercises his authority in the heathenish nature, under the power of the prince of the air, who has the powers of darkness; but blessed be the Father, who has hid the glorious things of the kingdom from him, and has appointed that this wisdom of his shall come to nothing.
The spiritual man is begotten by the Spirit, of the immortal Seed, into the image of the Father, he knows the Father, and is known of Him, not by relation of the creature, but by the indwelling of God in him, and he in God, according to that measure of light revealed in him. And he stands in the will of God, improving that he has freely received of God, whereby he grows in the knowledge of the Father and the Son, from grace to grace, from faith to faith, and knowledge of the son-ship, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. And standing faithful in the least measure, and waiting therein, the light of Christ under the cross, and not looking out, he is kept in peace, from the crafty and sleighty doctrines of men, whereby they go about to deceive. And as the light grows, there is a discerning of things that differ, to choose the good, and refuse the evil; and as the Son arises, the judgment is brought forth: for all judgment is committed to the Son, and so the Saints come to judge the world; yea, angels, and are made able to try the spirits, whether they be of God, or no. And that old serpent is judged by whom formerly they have been deceived: and so that which is born of God, overcomes the world, sin and the devil, and is kept out of all uncleanness, in which the carnal mind corrupts itself. And thus judgment is brought forth unto victory, and the unjust and unclean is judged, and condemned, and kept under within and without.
The first man is proud and lofty, exalted above his brethren, a self-lover, lives to the flesh, and follows the lust of the flesh in all things, and brings forth fruit to the flesh in all things; as lying, swearing, whoring, and all manner of evil, and for a covering, makes a profession of godliness, but performs nothing but for self-ends, and to be seen of men; but as to uprightness, holiness and purity, he is an enemy, a hater, a persecutor, a scorner, a railer, unreasonably covetous, would have all the earth and heaven too, would live in pleasure all his life, and yet die the death of the righteous, would be an oppressor here; and upon such lies all the righteous blood that has been shed from the first, till this day.
The second man is humble and lowly, meek and full of love to all, honors all men according to God, without respect of persons, would have all to come to life, stands in the wisdom of God, which is pure and peaceable, is willing to be a fool to the world and serpent's wisdom, content to suffer wrongs, buffetings, persecutions, slanders, reviling, mocking, without seeking revenge, but bears all the venom the serpent can cast upon him with patience, and thereby overcomes him and bruises his head, and is made perfect through suffering, and counts it joy, and rejoices in the cross, and loss of all things that are visible, but looks at that which is eternal, for he knows that he cannot have both; for to be a friend to the world, is the enemy of God.
Now, all dear people, judge yourselves, if you will but deal faithfully with yourselves, there is that within you, that will tell you where you are, and from whether of these roots all your actions proceed: for if the root be holy, the branches and fruit will be holy also. And by the fruits you bring forth, you may know the tree, whether you be of the first birth, or you be born again: and unless you be born again, you cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven. You have long time taken things upon trust from men, and have been led blind, and brought forth fruits unto death, and have been servants to sin and the devil; let the time past be sufficient to have wrought the will of the flesh. And now approve yourselves the children of God, in your actions, for by your fruits you shall be judged. God is holy, and His children bear His image. Oh! redeem your time; prize your souls, and mind that which is eternal.
How the subtlety of the serpent works in the children of disobedience; and how he rages where he sees the image of the Prince of peace appear, to smother and strangle the Holy Child Jesus.
O you subtle serpent, why do you so rage at the voice of the Lord, when He speaks in His own, whom He has redeemed? And why are you so mad against His image, where it is renewed and does appear, in whom He has begotten to Himself? You have long uttered your voice in open streets, by blasphemous swearing, cursing, lying, slandering, railing, false accusing, scorning, and all manner of evil speaking, and has brought forth your image in your children, in persecuting, killing, stoning, mocking, imprisoning, covetousness, drukenness, whoredoms, thefts, and all manner of evil works and deeds of darkness: you have long reigned as king on earth, and in earthly hearts and carnal minds, and there has showed forth your enmity against God, and in such you are exalted above all that is called God, and have got your will upon them, and has brought them to fall down and worship you; for that your pride looks much after. And as you have diverse colors, so you look for diverse kinds of worship; and where you appear in greatest glory, there you look for greatest worship. And those who will obey you herein, to them you give large promises of great things in the world, and they shall be advanced in your partial kingdom: But there is a Seed you could never bring to fall down before you, though you have often attempted it, and diverse ways; sometimes by great threatenings, even to destroy the whole Seed at one blow, as in Haman to Mordecai, and all the seed of the Jews, because he would not worship you; and sometimes by great promises, and large dissembling proffers, as unto Christ the Son of God, showing Him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory thereof, saying, All this will I give you, if you will fall down and worship me. But this Seed is that which is appointed to bruise your head, and lay all your pride in the dust. And the voice of this Seed is terrible to you where it speaks; for it never speaks good concerning you, but evil. And this Seed is Christ, who is risen in His Saints, to discover and destroy your kingdom, by the sword of His mouth, and by the brightness of His coming; for He speaks death to you where He speaks, and declares your kingdom to be death and darkness, and your works to be dead works; and that all your ways lead to the chambers of death, and that hell, death and destruction are the portion of all whom you deceive, and lead on in the broad way. But wherever the Seed of God appears, it holds forth life, and leads into the way of life, works, and words of life and power: for it is the light of life, and leads to life eternal. And as this light arises, it discovers you, not only within, but also sees you where you are in the world, and is brought to lay you open to others, and all your deceivable workings, and to judge and condemn you. And this is the Son, where He is He is the Light of the world, and the Judge of the world; for the Father has committed all judgment to the Son, and He judges you in and by His Saints.
And now you see plainly, that if He does but speak, and the creature hear and believe, then He will discover all your subtlety, and redeem from under your power, by which you have deceived the nations, and ruled over them for many generations.
And therefore now your design is to stop His mouth, that He may not speak under pain of imprisoning, or killing the body in whom He speaks. And if that will not prevail, then you persuade people not to believe that it is He that speaks in His own, calling it blasphemy for any to confess Him to speak in them, or dwell in them now.
O you cursed, crooked, winding serpent! More subtle than all the beasts of the filed! This was your way among the professing, wise, knowing Jews, when this Seed first appeared in the flesh, to make them believe, that it was not He who was the Christ, the Savior of the world; He was too poor, too plain, and of too mean a stock to be King of Israel: We know this Man from whence he is, a carpenter's Son, and His kindred are with us, and none believe on this Man but sinners, women, and children, and a poor people that know not the law, and they are accursed: but when Christ comes, then the rulers will own Him, and believe in Him.
Thus persuading them to look for great things at a distance, a Christ to come, who would appear more glorious to their carnal eyes, you prevail in them to crucify the Son of God, and Redeemer of the world.
But now that the history of Christ being come, and has suffered, and is risen again, is generally believed, now your design is; to persuade people that it is a thing passed long since, and set them on to cry out against the Jews, for killing of Him, and Judas for betraying of Him; and thus set one of your children to cry out against another, making these believe, that they are in a better condition than their fathers, when they are all found in one and the same work, killing some, imprisoning others, mocking, stoning, beating, and shamefully entreating others; and to keep them on in this work, you persuade them, that it is not Christ they persecute now; for Christ is in heaven, and sits at the right hand of God; and how can He be in His people now? He does not appear in any now, or speak in any now, neither is there any revelation. It was so in the Apostles time, and the Saints of old witnessed such things, but it is blasphemy for any now to confess Him in these days.
And thus you beguile carnal men, led by carnal reason, to look for a carnal Christ, like themselves, who can but be in one place, or person; as though God had now found some new way to speak to His people, and not by His Son: and all this is to put out the light, lest you should be discovered; for you rule in darkness, and by darkness keep your profession, among those whom you have blinded. But where Christ is revealed and known, He is known to be spiritual, and not carnal, not limited to one place, but fills heaven and earth, is all, and in all His; but not seen by the carnal, though He be the light of the world: for the god of this world has blinded the eyes of the world, that they cannot see Him, for He is a mystery to them, and hid from all their carnal wisdom, neither can they hear His voice, for they are not of His sheep, but are as the deaf adder; but to them only in whom He dwells He is known, they hear His voice, and are taught by Him alone, and will own no other voice nor teacher, and they know Him to be the same Christ yesterday, today and forever; the same who, when He was to ascend, said to His, If I go away, I will come again, that where I am, there may you be also; the same who said, I will come and make my abode with you; the same who was in the Saints the hope of glory, and those who have Him not in them are reprobates.
The same Christ who spoke in Paul and the rest, and they knew His voice wherever they heard it, and did obey it, though they suffered for it; for He was their light, their life, and their way to the Father. And by believing and following Him, they were led out of all the ways of death and darkness, up to God into purity and holiness. And thus were brought to witness their redemption by Him: And He is the same now, to those who know Him, in all things according to the measure received; He reveals Himself now to be the eternal Son of God in them, in whom He reveals the Father also, and that the Son and the Father are one. He speaks in them, and by them, and they know is voice from all other voices in themselves and others: They know His hand is not shortened, nor His love less than it has been to His people; and that His delight is with the sons of men as much as ever; but it is only in them who love and obey Him, and not their lusts, and such can witness their fellowship with the Father and the Son. And they know that this is a mystery to all the world's wisdom, and that the serpent's brood can no more own His voice now, where He speaks, then formerly he could do when He spoke in the flesh. And that He is but one in all, from the beginning to this day, and changes not: And that the serpent is but one in all his, though of diverse colors and forms, and therefore at wars, disputes and janglings among themselves, and at envy one with another, only they are one in this, that they all join to persecute the pure Seed in any where it appears. But where the pure Seed appears, they are all of one color, arrayed in pure linen, white and clean, which is the righteousness of the Saints, and are of one heart and of one mind, and these follow the Lamb wherever He goes, never to persecute any, but to suffer all the venom, rage and malice of the serpent's brood, and are led through great tribulation, and have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb, and thereby they are brought to bruise your head, and reign above you, and tread upon you.
And thus the promise of God is fulfilled in His people: and this is witnessed in them, and they know that they are redeemed, and set free from sin and death, even by the power and virtue of this Seed, being raised up in them to rule in them, and is their Guide, their Judge and Lawgiver, their Light, by which they see your several deceits, whereby you deceive the nations, and keep them in sin and filthiness, persuading some, that Christ is come, and has redeemed them among the rest though they know it not, but still live in their sins; yet if they have but a profession, and go under the name of believers, and come before the Lord, as His people, in outward performances, though they have no witness within themselves, yet all their sins are satisfied, for past, present and to come.
And lest they should doubt it, you set them to the letter, to steal that which Christ in Spirit witnessed in the Saints, in whom He dwelt, but never yet in them. And thus by applying the promises of the righteous to the wicked, encourage them to live in sin without fear.
And this doctrine you broach among your ranting crew, and so proclaim liberty to the lusts of the flesh; a doctrine well-pleasing to the first birth, and therefore so easily received, and cried up by many in these days. But if the judgment of God for sin seize upon the spirits of any, and they find that there can be no peace with God while sin stands; then you have another way to deceive them, that though it be sin, and only sin that breaks their peace with God, yet what power have they against it of themselves? They must look for a day (which will always be to come) when they shall have power given in a easy way to overcome sin, and never take up the cross, nor deny their own lusts, nor have their own wills crucified.
And thus by tempting them to look out at redemption, past or to come, keeps them from minding their present condition, and tenders of Christ within them, who by His light would lead them out of sin and filthiness, to witness redemption within themselves.
Another sort you persuade, that none ever was or ever shall be set free from sin, while they are here, and that it is a vain thing ever to look for it; and that they are but Pharisees, who seek to be cleaner than their neighbors; and that God is merciful, and Christ came to save sinners. And thus Christ serves for no other end to them but to talk on; and He who came to set the Saints free from sin, and to discover sin, is by yours made a cloak for sin, and an encouragement in sin. And further to deceive them, you gather up all the failings of the Saints, which are written as warnings for all that come after, never to do the like; and these you turn to encourage yours in their sin; for this is your cursed language, Did not Noah sin? Did not David sin? Did not Peter sin? And am I better than they? And thus you, who by sin at first did stamp your image on the creature, and so work a separation between God and man: So by sin you uphold your image and the separation; for sin is begotten by you, and you are the father of it, and it bears your image, and the glory of your kingdom stands in sin and filthiness, and you and your children delight in it.
But woe to you and your kingdom, for the day of your torment is upon you; for now Michael our Prince, who stands for the children and people of God, is arisen against you, who will break you and your image in pieces, and you shall be cast out of heaven, and your angels into the earth, and you shall be chained in the bottomless pit, and shall deceive the nations no more; for you are discovered, and the beast and the false prophet, by whom you have maintained wars against the Saints, and you shall all be cast into the lake that burns, there to be tormented forever.
A caution to all who shall be found persecutors, persecuting the righteous, not suffering that Spirit to speak, which boldly and impartially speaks without slavishness, being carried up above, fears not him who can kill the body, and can do no more; but fears God.
Take heed, you men of the earth, how you contend against the Lord, and how you speak evil of things you know not; why do you imagine a vain thing against the Lord, and against His Anointed? By your rage you show yourselves to be heathen. He that sits in heaven shall laugh, and the Lord shall have you in derision; He will set up His King upon His holy hill of Sion, without your leave. Did ever any strive against God and prosper? He will break you with a rod of iron, and dash you in pieces like a potter's vessel. Be wise, take heed, fear and tremble before the Lord, lest His wrath kindle against you, and you be consumed in His anger. Woe to him that strives with His Maker; let the potsherds strive with the potsherds of the earth: shall the clay question the work of the Potter? You forget yourselves while you are contending against the mind of God; you are exalted, and have forgotten you are but dust, and must turn to dust again. You are not made to oppose the Lord in His works, but to humble yourselves before Him. And know this all you proud ones of the earth, that God is now exalting His own Son, to be King alone upon the throne of David, and of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end: for He shall order His kingdom Himself in judgment and justice forever: but woe to the proud at that day, for the day comes that shall burn as an oven, and all the proud and all that do wickedly, shall be as stubble: And the day that comes shall burn them up, and leave them neither root or branch; yea, who may abide the day of His coming? And who shall stand when He appears? For He is like a refiners fire, and fuller's soap, and shall sit as a Refiner and Purifier with silver, and shall purify the sons of Levi. All you must pass through the fire, and all your dross and tin must be consumed, your high looks and great swelling words will be found dross, and are for the fire.
You that go about to limit the Holy One of Israel, what He shall do, and how He must make Himself known to His creatures, and by whom. God will never come your way, for your ways are not His ways, nor your thoughts His thoughts; for the one are contrary to the other. O vain man, shall he that contends with the Almighty instruct Him! He that reproves God, let him answer it. What are you that questions the work of the Lord, or His way? You are of that brood that came to ask Christ, by what authority He did those things His Father had sent Him to do; and because you must not enter into the secrets of God by your serpents wisdom, you will forbid and persecute them in whom it is revealed, as they did. Now would you but look back, and search the Scriptures, you should find your generation all along from Cain to yourself: for all persecutors are of that serpent's brood.
It may be you will own, all that generation to be of Cain, till it come to yourself, and then you will deny that you are any of that brood, and yet are found acting in the very same things. And herein you differ not at all from the rest; for they would all deny it, even from the first: for when God asked Cain where his brother was; he said he knew not; Am I my brother's keeper, whenas he had slain him. And the Scribes, Pharisees and chief priests garnished the sepulchers of the prophets whom their fathers slew, and said, Had we lived in their day, we would not have killed them; and at that very time were they consulting to kill the Son of God, to whom all the prophets bare witness. But as the devil was a murderer from the beginning; so he was a liar from the beginning. But though you will not own yourself to be of the devil; yet your actions declare to your face, before men and angels, that you are not of God. Did ever any that were of God, forbid any to speak in the name of the Lord Jesus, whom He sent to declare His will? Did they ever imprison any for it? Did they ever beat, stone, mock, revile or hate any? Did they ever raise lies, slanders, or false reports of any? Or seek false witnesses against them? Did they ever oppress the stranger, because he was a stranger, and send them to prison when they found them, because they knew them not, though they never did them harm? And then, to make way for their further oppression, to have their agents abroad, to seek out any who will witness anything against them; and so lay snares and traps for the simple and harmless man? There were of your generation in Isaiah's time, and God plagued them for it, as said the prophet, The terrible ones are brought to naught, and the scorners are consumed; and all that watch for iniquity are cut off, that make a man an offender for a word, and lay a snare for him that reproves in the gate.
Now all you that will be found in this practice, take heed, repent betimes, the righteous God will judge righteously, He is no respecter of persons, and He knows all your secret plots, and who they are against. You may hide things from men, but woe to them that dig deep, to hide their counsel from the Lord; and their works are in the dark, and they say, Who sees us? and Who knows? Surely your turning things upside-down, shall be esteemed as the potter's clay, and God will overturn, overturn you, and bring all your plotting wisdom to naught. Oh! Consider, what is become of the persecutors of old? Did not God find them out, and plague them for it. And do you think to escape His hand? Your thoughts are vain, and will deceive you, the Lord will set a mark upon you, that you are a persecutor of the messengers of the Lord; Go to, says the Lord, write in a book, that it may be for a time to come, forever and ever, That this is a rebellious people, lying children, that will not hear the law of the Lord, which say to the seers, see not, and to the prophets, prophesy not to us right things, speak to us smooth things, prophesy deceit.
Now see if it be not so in these days; he that studies out eloquent words, to please the ears of men, and can talk against sin in words; but when they have done, join with the wicked in his wicked ways, as, pride, covetousness, oppression, drunkenness, rioting, and such like, and so become men-pleasers. These are prophets most fit for them who love their sins, and would not have their minds crossed. Micah said in his day, that a liar, and one that will prophesy of wine and strong drink, is a prophet most fit for this people: and these prophets shall never suffer persecution, nor ever turn any from their sins. But if any come with a true message from the Lord, and declare His judgments to come against sin and filthiness, and witness against all the ways of the wicked, both in word and practice: then, away with such a fellow from the earth, it is not fit he should live, for he judges all but himself; send him to prison, or into his own country out of our coasts: what has he to do here? Or, who sent him? Or, what is his authority? I love him not, for he never speaks good of us, but evil. O friend! Did you but know whom you strive against, you would tremble before Him; It is hard for you to kick against the pricks, you are not against man but God.
And this know, that no prophecy of old came by the will of man, but against the wills of all men in the world, both he that was sent, and they to whom he was sent. But who has resisted His will? For there is a necessity laid upon such as are sent by Him; and woe to them if they go not. And they who are thus sent are no hirelings, neither do they come with What will you give me? But they must witness forth freely what Christ has revealed in them, though they suffer for it. But this call is not to Babylon?s merchants, who buy, sell, and trade for money; neither is it known to the world, for if it were, they would not hate and persecute it: but they that are sent by God have been hated in all ages, and it is the same now, else how should the Scriptures be fulfilled; but, O man! Take heed what you do; your power is limited, though you know it not: you can but kill the body, and the soul shall live; you can but imprison the body, but the spirit is at liberty out of your reach. And therefore Christ bids His, not to fear such, who can go no further. And it is so, for they who are kept close in obedience to Christ, are kept out of the fear of man: For, says the Lord, I, even I am He that comforts you; who are you, that you should be afraid of man that shall die, and the son of man that shall be as grass, and forget the Lord your Maker, that has stretched forth the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth, and has feared everyday, because of the fury of the oppressor, as if he were ready to destroy; and where is the fury of the oppressor? But, says the Lord, I have put My words in your mouth, and have covered you with the shadow of My hand. Behold, I have taken out of your hand the cup of My fury, and you shall no more drink it again; but I will put it into the hand of them that afflict you, which say to your soul, Bow down, that we may go over you; and you have laid your body as the ground, and as the street to them that go over. Therefore take heed, you that tread the poor and helpless under your feet; repent, repent, your day is coming on apace; wherein the Lord will avenge the poor, on him that is too strong for him: And how can you stand at that day, when you shall become weak as another man, and no false pretences will be accepted? You must be judged according to your works, good or evil. Oh! That you had hearts to humble yourselves before the Lord, that you might find mercy at that day, for why will you perish through your own will?
A call to the world, to repentance; and the cursed condition that men lie in, professing much, but practicing just nothing but pride, wantonness, covetousness; and yet cover themselves with large professions, and call themselves Saints. Woe, woe, to all them who profess the truth, and live in unrighteousness, and that turn the grace of God into wantonness.
All people, repent and turn to the Lord, from the evil of your doing, for the Lord is at hand, who will judge the world, and give everyone according to their doings, whether they be good or evil; yea, He is coming with ten thousands of His saints, to be avenged on the heathen, and them that know not God.
Now, all that live in sin and filthiness, it plainly appears you know not God; for if you did, you would not heap up iniquity, and live in your lusts, heaping up wrath against the day of wrath, wherein the Lord will appear as a consuming fire against all ungodliness of wicked men.
God is against you, you dissembling professors, who adorn the outside to be seen of men, but the inside is full of deceit, serving God in outside forms and notions, but your hearts are not upright with Him; you are in the earth, and earthly mindedness, in your covetousness, which is idolatry. And God abhors the outside worship, when the heart is not upright with Him; and Christ calls such Whited walls, painted sepulchres, hypocrites, serpents, a generation of vipers, children of the devil; and the woe is to such: How can you escape the damnation of hell?
God is against you, you proud and lustful, wanton ones, who make it your greatest care to deck yourselves in your proud attire, inventing new ways and fashions to make yourselves glorious in the sight of men, that they may bow down and worship you, and set you above the commands of God; but know, that you are but dust, and God will lay such honor in the dust; for He is risen to whom all worship is due; and now woe to all the idols of the world, your lofty looks shall be humbled, and your haughtiness bowed down; for now the Lord will exalt the humble and meek ones, that you have trodden upon; He will seek that which is lost, but will destroy the fat, and feed the strong with judgment. Repent, you lofty ones, and turn to the Lord, and humble yourselves before Him, that you may be hid in the day of His fierce wrath, lest He take you away, and there be none to deliver.
God is against you, you drunkards, who make it your trade to pour in strong drink, abusing the creature to satisfy your lusts, which God has given to be used moderately, and not in riotousness; you should be reasonable creatures, but your horse may teach you, who will not drink when he has enough. And herein you show yourselves worse than brutes, and they shall rise up in judgment against you, and condemn you. Woe to you that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink. Woe to you that rise up early, that you may follow strong drink, and continue until night, till wine inflame you. The woe is upon you that put the cup to his neighbors mouth, to make him drink, that his nakedness may appear, and shameful spewing cover him. And this is your glory, which is your shame, and you tell your companions: You show yourselves to be the children of Ham, the father of Canaan, who was accursed for such practice: and the curse is upon you, while you live in this; therefore repent, and live no longer in your filthiness, your healths are abomination to the Lord, and you are ignorant of His saving health. The wants of the poor cry in the ears of God against your wasteful practice, and you must account for your stewardship.
God is against you, you swearers, who make it your practice to take the name of God in vain, and live in open breach of His commands: You who are not ashamed to profane the holy name of God in open streets and houses where you come, the curse is upon the land for your sakes; and because of oaths the land mourns, and God will not hold you guiltless. Repent, repent the curse is towards you, you profane ones, who regard not the commands of Christ, who says, Swear not at all, but let your yea be yea, and your nay nay; for whatsoever is more comes of evil. How is He your Redeemer, and how will you stand before Him at the day of judgment, whom you now so openly contemn, in disobeying His commands? O repent, the day is at hand when it will be too late!
God is against you, you scorners, who take delight in scorning your brethren, you show your folly to all, whose children you are, you that sit in the seat of the scornful; God does scorn you, He who sits in heaven laughs you to scorn. You are proud, and puffed up, and have scornful eyes, you that raise false reports against the simple, and tell them to make yourselves and others laugh, that are scorners like you. The Lord will laugh at your calamity, and mock when your fear comes; Your laughter shall be turned into mourning: Woe to them that now laugh, for they shall mourn. You forget yourselves what you are; Take heed, be no mockers, lest your bands be made strong, and when you cry there be none to deliver, take heed, repent betimes; How long will you scorners delight in scroning, and fools hate knowledge? Cease your sports and pastimes, you wanton ones, making yourselves merry in your sins. Your idle profane talking and foolish jesting, your unclean filthy words are abomination to the Lord; and every idle word must be accounted for: your reveling and rioting, carding and dicing, and all your invented sports, sitting down to eat and drink, and rising up to play, which is idolatry, and the wrath of God is against such practice; for man was not made to fulfill his own lusts, but to serve the living God, who made all things for Himself, and the wicked for the day of judgment, and they are reserved against the day of wrath and destruction. And though hand joined in hand, the wicked shall not go unpunished. Repent, take heed, search the Scriptures, if ever the people of God used such practice, or spent their time after that manner; but labored to redeem the time, and had their flesh crucified, with the affections and lusts; for they who live to the flesh, cannot please God.
God is against you, you covetous cruel oppressors, who grind the faces of the poor and needy, taking your advantage of the necessities of the poor, falsifying the measures, and using deceitful weights, speaking that of your commodities which is not true, and so deceiving the simple, and hereby getting great estates in the world, laying house to house, and land to land, till there be no place for the poor, when they are become poor through your deceits, then you despise them, and exalt yourselves above them, and forget that you are all made of one mould, and one blood, and must all appear before one Judge, who is no respecter of persons, nor does He despise the poor; and what shall your riches avail you at that day, when you must account how you have gotten them, whom you have oppressed? Yea, Woe to him that covers an evil covetousness to his own house, that builds a house with oppression, the stone in the wall, and the beam in the timber shall cry out against him.
The fathers commit cruelty and oppression in heaping together, and the children commit filthiness in spending it upon their lusts: And thus the children eat up the sins of their fathers iniquity. And thus you make an open gap for the wrath of God to break in upon you. Oh! Repent, and turn to the Lord, that there may be one found to stand in the gap, and make up the breach, lest the wrath of God break in upon you, and burn like fire, and there be none to quench it: for the day of the Lord is at hand, that you must all be weighed in the pure balance of the sanctuary, and nothing will be weight but what is pure and holy, truth from the heart; no deceit or hypocrisy will be weight, or scorner, railer, or false accusers, no murderer, nor envious persecutor, nor fornicator, nor unclean ones, nor any that live to the flesh can be weight, but will be found wanting: and then woe to you, for your kingdom must be taken from you, and given to them who will bring forth fruits that God may have glory.
Now, all professors and people, consider your conditions; you have long been hearers and professors, but what have your fruits been? Herein is My Father glorified, that you bring forth much fruit. But now, you fruitless trees, you must be cut down, and cast into the fire; for all mens works must be tried by fire; and then woe to you, who have taken pleasure in sin; Repent, and turn to the Lord betimes, that you may find mercy, for your destruction is of yourselves.
The cursed condition of the conceited ones, who are wise in their own eyes.
Woe to you that are wise in your own eyes, and prudent in your own sight, you that think to understand the spiritual things of God by your carnal wisdom; because God will not reveal His secrets to your serpentine wisdom, therefore you speak evil of it where it is revealed, though you know it not: Your wisdom is of the earth, and feeds upon the dust, and dust is the serpent's meat. By your wisdom you can over-reach your brethren, oppress the poor to get riches, to make yourselves great in the earth, and thereby lord it over your brethren; and by it you can go to the law, and beggar your brethren for trifles, to fulfill your own wills; by it you can deceive the simple and harmless man, make him your laughing-stock when you have done; by it you can contrive mischief on your bed, and when the morning is come you put it into practice against those whom you envy.
And do you think God will ever reveal Himself to this wisdom any other ways, than in wrath from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of this wisdom? Nay, the secrets of the Lord are with them that fear Him, but there is no fear of the Lord where this wisdom rules: But you are puffed up in your vain mind, and think you know much; whenas you know nothing yet as you ought to know; For (says the Apostle) who is a wise man among you, and endued with knowledge, let him show, out of a good conversation, his works with meekness of wisdom. Your works that proceed out, show plainly what kind of wisdom is within, that wisdom which brings forth pride, scorning, lightness and wantonness, swearing, lying, covetousness, self-love, envy, hatred, deceit, backbiting, slandering and evil-speaking, lust and excess, strife and contention, persecution, or any other unclean and filthy practice, doing to others that which you would not have them do to you; that wisdom is of the devil, and not of God.
Now this is the wisdom the world drives after, and so highly extols, and by which you think to attain to the pure and invisible things of God. And thus the wisdom of the serpent, which rises out of the earth, and feeds on the earth, would be climbing up to the hidden things of God, and so would be heirs of two kingdoms. But says the Apostle, If you have bitter envyings and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.
This wisdom descends not from above, but is earthly, sensual and devilish: for where envy and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But that wisdom which is from above, is, first, pure, then peaceable, gentle and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, without hypocrisy. Now you, who think you are the men of wisdom, try your wisdom by these marks set down by the Apostle, whether it be given you from above, or it be of the serpent, arising out of the earthly part within you: Is it such a wisdom as shows forth, of a good conversation, the works of meekness? Is it pure? Is it peaceable? Is it gentle and easy to be entreated? Is it full of mercy and good fruits? Without partiality and without hypocrisy? If it brings forth theses fruits, it is from above, and God will own it, and reveal His secrets to it, even the hidden things of God. But on the contrary, if it be that wisdom that brings forth bitter envyings, and strife, and every evil work, vain-glorying, and lying against the truth, the Apostle says plainly, It is not of God, but is earthly, sensual and devilish; and this wisdom must never enter into the kingdom, but is of the serpent, cursed above all creatures, more subtle than all the beasts of the field, eating the forbidden fruit, the judging of good and evil by carnal knowledge, creeping into the earth and earthly things, all for the belly, feeding on dust, and delighting in things that perish and fade away, painted on the outside, decking you with pride, curiously invented (serpent-like) by this wisdom, and feeding your lusts with curious devised dishes, dives-like, devising and plotting to get riches right or wrong: so that you can but keep within the compass of the laws of the nation, never regarding to be guided by that pure law of God within, written in the heart, which would lead you in all things, to do as you would be done by.
But the wisdom of men is not subject to the law of God, neither can be, for it is death to it; and you deceive yourselves, who think to find out the mystery of the things of God by this wisdom, for God has hid it from your eyes. And the world by wisdom knows not God, for God has turned their wisdom into foolishness; and, says Christ, I thank you, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hid these things from the wise and prudent, and revealed them to babes. God has hid them in Christ, and none come to Christ but babes, such as are of the new birth, not flesh and blood, but of water and the Spirit; such only enter into the mystery of the kingdom, by the door in all, the strait way through the cross, where your serpents wisdom would not willingly come; for if it do, it must be slain, and you must become fools for Christ's sake, that you may be wise; you must enter as a little child, or else you cannot come there, for it is revealed to babes only. Your wisdom that you so much boast on, must be crucified and die, and a new wisdom must be given you from above, which begins with the fear of the Lord; for the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and to practice it is understanding. And when you once come to own this true wisdom; which is of God, then you shall see the world, who did so highly applaud you for your wisdom before, will now call you fools and madmen; for that wisdom which they do applaud shall be cast behind you: And then you shall witness the Scripture fulfilled, when God has destroyed the wisdom of the wise, and brought to naught the understanding of the prudent; Where is the wise? Where is the disputer of this world? For the world by this wisdom knows not God, nor ever shall do; For God has chosen the foolish things of this world to confound the wise, and weak things to confound the mighty. And then you shall see that wisdom not to be of this world, neither of the princes of this world, which come to naught; but the wisdom of God, which is a hidden mystery, which none of the princes of this world knew: for if they knew it, they would not persecute it where it is. But the knowledge of this mystery is the free gift of God, given only to them that fear and love Him, given without all natural helps whatsoever; For the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; neither can he know them, for they are spiritually discerned: But the spiritual man judges all things, and he himself is judged of no man; for he that is in the Spirit lives above all the earth and earthly wisdom, and sees all the world, where they live, but no carnal wisdom shall ever see where he lives, for his life is hid with God in Christ from all vultures eyes, and venomous beasts.