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For the preaching of the gospel of Christ Jesus is to the intent. that all may come to be heirs of the gospel, and into the possession of it;
and to be heirs of Christ and of his government, of the increase of which there is no end; who is over all in his righteousness, and over all in his light, life, power, and dominion. Therefore know one another in his
gospel, which is the authority of your meetings; know one another in Christ Jesus, who is able to restore man out of the state of the fall, into the image of God, into that power and dominion that man had before he fell
, and into Himself, that never fell, whence they shall go no more forth. Here is the rock and foundation of God that stands sure.
And, Friends, be tender to the tender principle of God in all. Shun vain disputes and janglings, both amongst yourselves and others; for that many times is like a blustering wind, that hurts and bruises the tender buds and plants. For the world, though they have the words, are out of the life ; and the apostle's disputing with them, was to bring them to the life. And those disputers, that were amongst the Christians, about genealogies, circumcision, and the law, meats, drinks, and days, came to be the worst sort of disputers, whom the apostles judged; for such destroyed people from the faith. Therefore the apostles exhorted the churches, that every one's faith should stand in the power of God, and to look at Jesus, the author of it. There every graft stands in Christ, the vine, quiet; where no blustering storms can hurt them; there is safety. There all are of one mind, one faith, one soul, one spirit, baptized into one body with the one Spirit, and made all to drink into one Spirit, one church, one head, that is heavenly and spiritual; one faith in this head, Christ, who is the author of it, and hath the glory of it; one Lord to order all, who is the baptizer into this one body. So Christ hath the glory of this faith out of every man and woman; and God through him hath his glory, the Creator of all in his power, the gospel that hath brought life and immortality to light in
and their faith standing in it, they know the immortal God, serve and worship him, in his Spirit and in his truth; by which they are made God's free men and women, from him that is out of the truth.
“Now, Friends, you that have long been labourers, and have known the dealings of the Lord these twenty years (more or less), as I have often said to you, draw up what you can, of those passages and sufferings which the Lord hath carried you through by his power, and how by Him ye
have been supported from the first; that the Lord may be exalted by his now, and in ages to come, who hath been the only support, defence, and stay, of his people all along, over all to himself; to whom be all glory and praise for ever and ever, Amen. He deserves it in his church throughout all ages, from his living members, who return the praise to the living God, who lives and reigns over all
, blessed for ever; who is the life, and strength, and health, and length of days of all his people. Therefore let there be no boasting, but in the Lord, and in his power and kingdom ; this keeps all in humility.
And, Friends, in the Lord's power and truth, what good you can do for Friends in prison, or sufferers, by informing or helping them, every one bend yourselves to the Lord's power and spirit, to do his will and his
business; and in that all will have a fellow-feeling of one another's condition, in bonds, or in what trials and tribulations soever; you will have a fellow-feeling one of another, having one head, one Lord, and being one body in him. For God's heavenly flail hath brought out his seed, his heavenly plough hath turned up the fallow ground, and his heavenly seed is sown by the heavenly man, which brings forth fruits to the heavenly sower, in some fifty, sixty, and a hundred fold in this life; and such in the world without end will have life eternal. O, therefore, all keep within; let your lights shine, and your lamps burn, that
be wells full of the living water, and trees full of the living fruit of God's planting, whose fruit is unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.
“ The Lord God of power preserve you all in his power. Let your faith stand therein, that you may have unity in the faith, and in the power; and by this faith and belief you may be all grafted into Christ, the sure root, where the eternal Sun of Righteousness shines, in the heavenly and eternal day, upon his plants and grafts. This sun never goes down; and the heavenly springs of life, and showers are known to water and nourish the grafts, and plants, and buds, that they may always be kept fresh and green, and never wither; bringing forth fresh and green, and living fruit, which is offered up to the living God, who is glorified in that you bear much fruit. The Lord God Almighty keep you, and preserve you all in his power, light, and life, over death and darkness; that therein you may spread his truth abroad, and be valiant for it upon the earth, answering that of God in all; that with it, the minds of people may be turned to him, so that with it they may come to know the Lord Christ Jesus in the new covenant, in which the knowledge of the Lord shall cover the earth as the waters do the sea. His life must go over death, and his light must go over darkness, and the power of God must go over the power of Satan.
ye that are in the light, life, and power, keep the heavenly fellowship in the heavenly power, the heavenly unity in the heavenly divine faith, and the unity of the Spirit, which is the bond of the heavenly Prince of princes' peace ; who bruises the head of the enemy, the adversary, and reconciles man to God, and all things in heaven and in the earth: a blessed reconciliation! Let every
one's faith stand in the power of God, which Jesus Christ is the author of; that all may know their crown of life. For all outward things without the substance, life, and power, are as the husk without the kernel, and do not nourish the immortal soul, nor the new-born babe; but that by which it is nourished, is the milk of the Word, whereby it groweth in the heavenly life, strength, and wisdom. The gospel is not of man, nor by man, but is the power of God, and answers the truth in all; all the possessors of it are to see that all walk according to it; which everlasting order is ordained of God already, and all the possessors of him possess their joy, their comfort, and salvation. My love unto you all, with him that reigns and is over all, from everlasting to everlasting.
“Dwell in the love of God, which passeth knowledge, and edifieth the living members of the body of Christ; which love of God come to be built up in, and in the holy faith. This love of God will bring you to bear all .things, endure all things, and hope all things. From this love of God which
you have in Christ Jesus, nothing will be able to separate you; neither powers nor principalities, heights nor depths, things present nor things to come, prisons nor spoiling of goods, neither death nor life. The love of God keeps above all that which would separate from God, and makes you more than conquerors in Christ Jesus. Therefore in this love of God dwell, that with the same love you may love one another, and all the workmanship of God—that you may glorify God with your bodies, souls, and spirits, which are the Lord's. Amen."
* All Friends sit low in the life, the Lord's power. Keep your place in it, till the Lord and Master of the feast bid you sit higher ;' lest you take the highest place, and be put down with shame. He that hath an ear, let him hear."
Friends, take heed of speaking the things of God in the words that men's wisdom hath taught; for those words will lift up the foolish, that have erred from the Spirit of God; which words and wisdom are for condemnation, and that which is lifted up by them, and they that thereby speak the things of God in them. So that old house, with its goods, must be thrown under the foot of the new birth.
* And, Friends, I desire that you may all keep the holy order, which is in the gospel, the glorious order in the power of God, which the devil is out of; which was before all his orders were, and before the world
“This joyful order keeps all hearts pure to God, in everlasting peace, unity, and order; feel it, and keep the order of it, both men and women, and come to be heirs of the gospel, which brings life and immortality to light; and to see over that power of darkness, by Him who was before the power of death was.
In this is the holy order of love and peace. So keep in this, that keeps you always pure; what men and women act in this, they act in that which will stand when the world is gone.
“There hath been some scruple about men's and women's meetings. Men and women in the gospel are heirs of the power, which was before the devil was; heirs of this, then enter into the possession of it, and do the Lord's business therein. Every one take care of God's honour, and keep all things in righteousness, in holiness which becomes God's house, and in that which honours the Lord God. It eased me, when those meetings were set up; for men and women, that are heirs of the gospel, have right to the gospel order; and it belongs to them. Then take your possessions, and practise in it; be not talkers only, but live and walk in the gospel, the power of God, which is the authority of your meetings.” G. F.
Swarthmore, the 28th of the 2nd Month, 1676.
[Read at the Yearly Meeting in London, the 17th of the 3rd Month, 1676.]
During this time I collected together as many as I could, of the epistles I had written in former years to Friends. I made a collection of the several papers that I had written to O. Cromwell, and his son Richard, in the time of their protectorships ; and to the parliaments and magistrates that were in their times. I collected also the papers I had written to King Charles II. since his return, and to his council and parliaments, and the justices or other magistrates under him. I made another collection of certificates, which I had received from divers governors of places, judges, justices, parliament-men, and others, for the clearing of me from many slanders, which the envious priests and professors, both here and beyond the seas, had cast upon me. This I did for the truth's sake, as knowing that their design in slandering me, was to defame the truth published by me, and hinder the spreading thereof amongst the people. Besides these, I made two books of collections; one was, a list or catalogue of the names of those Friends who went out of the North of England, when truth first broke forth there, to proclaim the day of the Lord through this nation. The other was of the names of those Friends that went first to preach the gospel in other nations, countries, and places, in what years, and to what parts they went.
I made another collection, in two books; one of epistles and letters from Friends and others, on several occasions, to me; the other of letters of mine to Friends and others.
I wrote also a book of the types and figures of Christ, with their significations; and many other things, which will be of service to truth and Friends in time to come.
I took notice also of those who had run out from truth, drawn others out after them, and turned against truth and Friends at several times since the first breaking forth of truth in this latter age, and what became of them; noting particularly the repentance and return of such of them as came back to truth again. Some ran quite out, and never returned, but were cut off in their gainsaying and rebellion ; for the word and power of God hath blasted and is blasting them, and the holy seed hath ground, and is grinding them to pieces. I have observed, that they who have been convinced, and have not lived and walked in the truth, have been the worst enemies to the truth, and done most hurt amongst Friends in the truth, and to others. In these I have seen fulfilled what the Lord did long since show me, “that such should be greater deceivers than all the priests and professors.” For such as came as far as Cain, Balaam, Korah, and Dathan, and could“ preach Christ,” and say, they had preached in his name; such as came to be apostles, and had tasted of the power of Christ, and then turned from it, could yet speak their old experiences, and have good words, like Korah and Balaam : but not keeping in the life and truth, they deceived the hearts of the simple. Such come to be of the devil
, who abode not in the truth; as Cain, and all the Jews, that abode not in the truth,
For though Cain did sacrifice to God, and did talk with God; and the Jews could talk of Abraham, Moses, and the prophets, yet Christ told them, “ they were of their father, the devil.” In like manner, though they who are called Christians, can talk of Christ, and use his and his apostles? and disciples' words, yet not abiding in the truth, and power, and Spirit, that the apostles were in, they are of the devil, out of truth, and do his work. So are all those that have been convinced of God's eternal truth
since it sprang up in this nation, that have not abode in the light, and in the Spirit and power of Christ Jesus; bat have turned against the power, and have opposed the work thereof; though they may retain their former experiences, and be able to speak many good words, yet not living in the life and power that gave them those experiences, they live in the power of darkness, which is of the devil: and by the light and truth both he and they are condemned; and must own their condemnation if ever they come to truth again. For to resist the heavenly power, and to oppose the workings and divine manifestations thereof through any, is not a light matter.
As I had been moved of the Lord to travel in his power round this nation, and in other parts, to preach the everlasting gospel, and to declare the Word of Life, which was in the beginning, through many imprisonments, hardships, sufferings, and trials; so I was afterwards moved to travel, in the same heavenly power, about the nation again (and to write to such places where I came not) to recommend to Friends the “setting up of the quarterly and monthly meetings in all counties, for looking after the poor, taking care for orderly proceedings in marriages; and other matters relating to the church of Christ; though some meetings for this end were settled in the North of England, in the year
1653. After this also, truth still spreading further over the nation, and Friends increasing in number, I was moved, by the same eternal power, to recommend the setting up of women's meetings also ; that all, both male and female, who had received the gospel, the Word of eternal Life, might come into the order of the gospel, brought forth by the power of God, and might aet for God in the power, and therein do business and service for him in his church. All the faithful must labour in God's vineyard, they being his hired servants, and he having given them the earnest of his Spirit. For a master that hires a servant, and gives him the earnest of his hire, expects he should do his work, after he knows bis will, in the outward creation; so all God's people, that are of the new creation, and havo received the earnest of his Spirit, ought to labour with, by, and in his Spirit, power, and grace, and faith, in the light, in God's vineyard, that they may have their wages when they have done God's work and business in his day, which is eternal life. But none can labour in his vineyard, and do his work and will, but as they walk in the heavenly divine light, grace, and Spirit of Christ; which it hath been, and is, my travail and labour in the Lord to turn all to.
Some that professed truth, and had made a great show therein, being gone from the simplicity of the gospel into jangling, division, and a spirit of separation, endeavoured to discourage Friends (especially the women), from their godly care and watchfulness in the church over one another in the truth; opposing their meetings, which, in the power of the Lord, were set up for that end and service. Wherefore I was noved of the Lord to write the following epistle, and send it among Friends, for the discovering of that spirit, by which those opposers acted, its work and way, by which it wrought, and to warn Friends of it, that they might not be betrayed by it: