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Τ Η Ε. WAY of SALVATION in the Covenant of LIFE
OP EN E D: And fome Stumbling-blocks removed out of the Way
of the Simple-hearted. T
HERE are many whom the Lord hath raised up, in this day of
the manifestation of his power, and of his everlasting love, to bear witness to his truth; , among whom I also (who was an outcast, and miserable beyond expreffion) have obtained mercy to partake of the virtue, life, and power of his precious truth (which redeems from the bondage of sin and iniquity); and am also many times moved by the Lord to testify of that which he hath made known unto me, and given me to experience. This brief touch sprang in me by way of preface. Now to the thing itself
. The Father, in whom is the whole virtue and power of redemption, fent his Son to gather the scattered and loft sheep of the house of Israel, and not only so, but he gave him also for a light to the Gentiles, that he might be his falvation to the ends of the earth ; and sending him, he sent his Spirit and power with him: for that which is begotten by the Father is not able to do the work, unless anointed and assisted by the Father : therefore the Father, who sent him to preach the gospel, anointed him, and filled him with his Spirit
, that he might preach the gospel according to that scripture, Isai lxi. 1, 2, 3. The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings to the meek; be bath sent me to bind up
the broken-hearted, ta proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening the prison ta. them tbat are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of our Lord, and to comfort all that mourn, &c.
Quest. But how came these meek, these broken-bearted, these captives, these bound in prison, these mourners, to meet with the redemption and bleshngs which be is, anointed to preach to them? Or which way dos They come to receive and partake of them from him?
Answ. In faith. This all his outward healings did signify, being thus dispensed. (If thou wilt believe, thou shalt see the glory of God. Tby faith baib made thee whole. O woman! great is thy faith! be it unto thee according to tby faith). And thus all his inward healings are bestowed upon, and received by, the foul; to wit, in the faith.
Quest. But how came they to bave faith? Or bow.cometh any man to bave faith in the redeeming power?
Anfw. It is bestowed upon them by God, in the sense which is from him. His Word.goeth forth from his mouth's, there is a witness of him in
the heart, towards which it reacheth. Now it reaching to the witness, immediately it brings into a sense, and in that sense begets faith; and being mixed with this faith (which is of its own begetting) in them that hear it, begins the work of life and redemption in that heart where it is not yet begun, or carries it on in that heart wherein it is already begun. Thus faith hath a work, a work from the beginning of the heart's turning to God even to the end ; which he that abides in the faith till the end, finds accomplished.
Object. But this faith is bestowed on some few wbom God bath elected, not on all men.
Anfw. God hath sent his gospel to be preached to every creature, and his Word is able to reach the witness, and work fense in every creature; and in whomsoever there is a sense wrought, they listening to God in that sense, he works faith in them; and waiting on the Word, hearkening to the Word, and staying their minds there-through on the Lord, he will speak peace to them, and keep them in peace, daily removing them more and more out of the reach and power of that which troubleth them.
Quest. Doth the new covenant lay all upon God, and require nothing of the creature? Or is there something required by God of the creature, in and by virtue of the new covenant ?
Answ. Consider well; Doch not God require of the creature in the new covenant what he gives in the new covenant ? Doth he not require the faith, and the exercising of that faith, which he himself works and gives in the fense, from the power and demonstration of his truth, to the foul ? The new covenant requires more of the creature than ever the old did; but it requires them not of the creatures as weak in the fall, but as taught (strengthened and enabled) to walk with God in and by virtue of the covenant. Yea, all manner of holiness, and righteousness of heart, life, and conversation is required in and by the new covenant: for as the Lord works out of all therein in the creature, so the creature works out all thereby in the Lord, according to that known fcripture, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God which worketh in you, both to will and to do of his good pleafure. And as the creature is able to do nothing that is good of itself; fo being grown up into the life and ability, which is of God, it is able to do all things through Christ that strengtheneth it. Quest
. But why is it said that Christ was anointed to preach the gospel the poor, the meek, the broken-hearted, the captives, the bound in prison, the mourners (for want of righteousness, life, and peace)? Did not God give his Son in love to all? Was be not made a ransom and propitiation for all ? Yea, was be not anointed to preach the gospel to all? How then comes it bere to be tbus limited and restrained to some ?
Answ. It is true, God had a general respect to mankind, in the gift and anointing of his Son: but yet there are some in a better capacity to receive; already in the fense of the want of him, and panting and longing after him.
Yea there are some, who are grievously fick in soul, and deeply wounded in
These are not like the common, rough, unhewn, knotty, rugged earth; but like earth prepared for the seed, and so easily and naturally receive it. The gospel is preached to others at a distance; which, it is true, they may have, if they will hearken to it, and wait for it, and part with what must first be parted with, but they have a great way to travel thither. But these are near the kingdom; these are near that which opens, and lets in life; these are quickly reached to, melted, and brought into the sense, in which with joy they receive the faith ; and with the faith the power ;
which brings righteousness and falvation to their souls. Tho' also the enemy is exceeding busy, to darken, disturb, and bow down these ; that he might still keep them in the doubts, in the fears, in the chains, in the ferters, in the prison-house, from the liberty and healing which the word of the anointing brings.
Now mind. God is real towards all, he defires the life and salvation of all; not the destruction of any one foul that ever he created (it is unnatural to him). And the way that he holds forth, he stands ready to meet any man in.
Whom is it that he doth draw? And who is it that may not come in the drawing? Is not his word an hammer? And whom can it not break? Is it not fire? And whose corruption can it not burn up? Is it not water, wine, and blood? And whom cannot it wash and nourish? Therefore, let no man think to lay the blame upon God, because of his perishing; for he will be deceived therein : and God will prove true, who faith, Man's deftruétion is of himself ; and every man a liar, who layeth any blame on him, for not giving him further assistance with his power. Neither let him blame God for hardening him; for God hardeneth no man, but him who first refufeth and grieveth the power and love which would melt and foften him. It is true; we are the clay, and God the potter : and may not the potter make what vessels he will of his clay ? This parable came from the Spirit of the Lord, to Israel of old: but what use did the Lord make of it? Did he fay to them, Do what ye will; fome of you I will cast off, and others of you I will shew mercy to; for I have determined fo? Nay, not fo: but I have this power over you; therefore do not provoke me. [Read Jer. xviii.] Was not God exceeding tender to that outward people, in that outward covenant ? Did he ever give them up to pain and sufferings, without great provocations on their parts? He doth not afliet willingly, nor grieve the children of men. Wherefore doth a living man complain; a man for the punifoment of his VOL. II.
Jins? fins ? Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the Lord. And the Spirit of the Lord never failed to do what was his part; towards the turning them from iniquity, towards the Lord, in that covenant.
And when they did believe, confent, and obey, and did eat the good of the land, was it not pleasant and delightful to him ? And when they provoked him to jealousy, and drew down judgments upon their heads, was it not irksome and painful to him [Read Deut. v. 29. Isa. v. Ezek. xx. Jer. xliv. 4. and chap. xxxi. 20. Ifa. lxiii
. 7. to ver. 15.) And will God fail to do his part towards any man for the salvation of his soul, which is so precious, of so great concern, and the loss whereof he knoweth to be so invaluable? No, no; the Spirit of God suffers, in every man upon the face of the earth, that fins against him; and is grieved and wounded by their unjust and unrighteous conversations, from day to day, against the testimony of somewhat of him in them, which is contrary thereto. Now this is of a precious nature; and being so despised and rejected by men, can it be wondered that. God doth not proceed to make it more manifeft
, and to work more in men by it? Nay, may it not rather be wondered that God doth continue to manifest it so much? What man could endure to behold a thing so precious in his eyes (as this is in God's) fo continually abused by, and to suffer fo much from, that which is so far beneath it, as God daily doth? Therefore, if there come a day of reckoning for this, with all men upon the face of the earth (for who hath not had a talent from God; even of the pure eternal light in him, witnesling in his heart and conscience against the darkness?) there will be no cause of wondering at it. And is not this Light and Spirit (which shines in all mens darkness in some measure, stirring and witnessing against it, and endeavouring to persuade and draw the mind from it) the very fame, in nature and kind, with the Light and Spirit of the Father, which appeared in that person of Chrift? And, if hearkened unto and followed, would it not bring into union and fellowship with him, and into a partaking of the benefit of all he did in that body? Yea, would not the Spirit reveal whatever is necessary to be known, to that soul which receives and follows it? Oh! what hath God done in his rich and tender mercy towards all) for mankind! And how clear will he be, when he opens and manifests the righteousness of his judgment! He will not clear himself after this manner; that he hath disposed of them to destruction, according to the power and prerogative of his will; but that they have run headlong into destruction, against the light and leadings of his will and power ; to which it is natural to save, but not to destroy. That is the act which is proper to another nature and spirit, but strange to his.
Object. But could not God save any if he would ? Who can refift bis will or his power? Who can stop or refift him in the work of redemption, or destruction?
Answ. God can so put forth his will and power, as none can resist. Yea, the will and power of God (which offereth to save, and standeth ready to save) will bring destruction upon all that fo dally with it, as to neglect and let pass
the day of their visitation : and thus none can refift his will, or his power. But in the way wherein he appeareth, and hath chosen to work out Life and Salvation, Satan, and man's corrupt heart and mind, may and do often resist the will and power of the Lord. Now that which refifteth, is not of God, but against him; yet it is the patience of the Lord, to suffer it. I find drawings in my heart from God, or I durst not open these things. For I dare not hold out to men what the Lord hath given me to know and experience, but only what he giveth and chuseth for me to hold out: and that will be life to them that receive it. But if I should hold out any thing of myself, that would not reach to life, but only feed the wrong part in men; and so help to build up that, which God will again throw down, before he faves that soul which is built up with the knowledge of things after this manner.
There is somewhat springs up in my heart, which may perhaps open this thing further to the minds of some.
Cain was the first wicked man that we read of; and how tender was God towards him! even him that sacrificed not after the Spirit, but after the flesh, and New his Brother Abel? Now can any man lay Cain's wickedness either upon the Will, or upon the Decree and Counsel of God? Might he not have done well? Might he not have sacrificed to God in the Faith, as well as his brother Abel? And if he had done well, and offered in the faith, had he not found forgiveness and acceptance with the Lord? God accepteth no man's person ; God rejecteth no man's person; but there is a seed he hath chosen ;
li and to gather man into this seed, is his delight and work; as it is the delight, nature, and work of another fpirit to scatter from this feed.
Now in this feed he doth accept, and not out of it. Yea, in this seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed, as they are gathered into, and abide in it. And this feed is a word nigh in the mouth and heart, both of Jew and Gentile; which, as it is hearkened to, writes the law of the Spirit of life in the heart, either of Jew or Gentile. And as they become sons, so the Spirit of the Father is poured out upon them ; even the Spirit of adoption, which crieth Abba, Father, either in Jew or Gentile. And this is the gospel of the kingdom, which is preached more sparingly, or abundantly, by the mouth of the feed, as the Lord pleaseth.
For God's power, wisdom, mercy, love, goodness, patience, long-suffering, &c. is his own; and he may low of it, or exercise it, more sparingly or abundantly, as he pleaseth. Yea, he doth exercise it more abundantly towards the vessels of mercy; so that the cause of their falvation doth not fo much arise from their embracing of mercy, as from God's exercising of it. He visitech nations as he plealeth, and persons in nations as he pleaseth ; and who may say unto him, What doft thou? Why art thou so good and kind bere ? Or, Why art thou so Sharp and severe there? But still in the according to the path, of the covenant, doth the Lord walk, in and towards all: and his mercy endureth for ever towards the feed of the righteous, anu his justice and indignation for ever towards the seed of the evil-doer : and