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thou hast received such necessary manifestations, but pleadest against the counsel of the Spirit of the Lord in other faithful persons, under the pretence of being left to his Spirit in thyself; by which means thou opposest the Spirit to the Spirit, and pleadest for dis-unity, under the name of liberty; I ask thee, May not I exhort thee to the practice of that I am moved to press thee to the practice of? If not, thou art the imposer, by restraining me from my Christian liberty; and not only so, but away goeth preaching, and with it the scriptures, that are both appointed of God for "exhortation, reproof, and instruction."
Quest. But are there not various measures, diversities of gifts, and several offices in the body?
Answ. True; but therefore are not the members of one mind, one will, and one judgment, in common and universal matters, especially relating to the family and church of God? And indeed there cannot be a falser reasoning than to conclude discord from diversity, contrariety from variety. Is there contrariety of bloods, lifes, feelings, seeings, hearings, tastings, smellings, in one and the same body, at one and the same time? No such matter: experience is a demonstration against all such insinuations. So that though it be granted, that there is diversity of gifts, yet there is no disagreement in sense; and though variety of offices, yet no contrariety in judg ment concerning those offices. Well say the holy scriptures of truth, "There is but One God: the Lord our God is but One Lord there is but One God and Father of all things (that are good); and there is but One Lord, one faith, and one baptism!" and his light, life, and Spirit is at unity with itself in all what comes from the light, life, or Spirit in one, it is the same in truth and unity to the rest, as if it did rise in themselves: this is seen in our assemblies every day, and will be throughout all generations in the church of God, among those that live in the lowly truth, in which the pure sense and sound judgment stand: "God is not the God of confusion, but order :" every one in his order is satisfied, hath unity and true fellowship, with whatever comes from the life of God in another: for this precious life reacheth throughout the heritage of God, and is the common life that giveth the common feeling and sense to the heritage of God. Degree or measure in the same life can never contradict or obstruct that which is from the same life for the common benefit of the family of God. The Lord is the unmeasurable and incomprehensible glorious Being of Life, yet have we unity with him in all his works, who are come to his divine measure of light and truth in our own hearts, and live therein; and shall we not have unity with
that which proceeds from a fellow-creature? In short, the saints' way is in the light, wherein there is neither doubt nor discord; yea, they are children of the light, and called light, and "The lights of the world;" and can it be supposed that such should disagree and contradict each other in their exterior order and practice in the church before the world? O the blessed seamless garment of Jesus! Where that is known, these things can never rise. But yet again, "The just man's path is" not only a light, but a "shining light," brightness itself: certainly there can be no stumbling. It is also said, that "light is sown for the righteous;" then the righteous shall never want light upon any occasion: and saith that beloved evangelist and apostle of our Lord Jesus Christ, "They that walk in the light have fellowship one with another," 1 John i. Whence it is easy to conclude, they that go out of the fellowship, go out of the light but if they that walk in the light, have fellowship one with another, what shall we say of those that plead being left to the light to justify their not having fellowship one with another? And, which is yet worse, who suppose people may conscientiously and justifiably dissent within themselves, and that by reason of the variety of the degrees of the Spirit and grace that are given of God unto them; as if the lesser degree may dissent from the greater, because of its not being able to comprehend it. And to make this principle more authentic, such tell us, 'This is the ancient principle of truth;' and object, How will you else be able to maintain the Quakers' principles?' The fallacy of all which, lieth (as I said before) in not rightly distinguishing between diversity and disagreement, variety and contrariety; for this diversity hath concord, and this variety hath unity. And it is a blindness that hath too much of late happened to some, by going from the one life and spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ, first to fall into disagreements, and then plead for it, under the notion of diversity of measures. I would ask all such persons, who arrogate to themselves such a peculiar knowledge of the ancient principles of truth, or the Quakers' first principles; 1st, Whether they believe there be a Christian body? 2ndly, Whether this body hath an head? 3rdly, Whether Christ be not this head? 4thly, Whether this head be without eyes, ears, smell, and taste, and this body without sense and feeling? If not, Whether this head seeth, heareth, smelleth, tasteth, differingly, and contrarily to itself? and whether this body hath a contrary feeling at the same time about the same thing?' And if it be true, that the church of Christ, redeemed by his most precious blood to live to him, see with the same
eye, hear with the same ear, speak with the same mouth, live by the same breath, and are led by the same spirit, where is this disagreement, contrariety, or dissent about the things of his church?
Quest. But the members of Christ's church in the primitive times had different apprehensions; as the apostles, and the people gathered by them.
Answ. Pray let me know who they were, and in what
Quest. The persons were Paul and Peter, and those Christians that differed about meats; and the scripture is plain in the case.
Answ. The difference between Peter and Paul (in the Acts) testifies the weakness of Peter, and the place justifies Paul's reproof of his too great compliance with the Jews in some of their rites; which makes against liberty of various practices in the church of Christ, and not for indulging them. That instance about the difference of Christians as to meats, &c. has nothing in it to the end for which it is alleged; for this related not to church-order or communion, but private and personal freedoms, what each might do with respect to themselves; that is, they might make laws to themselves, in things that only concerned private persons, and it centered there; e. g. What I will eat, when I will eat,' things to myself, and for myself, as a man having power of my own appetite the liberty in things private, personal, and indifferent, makes nothing for dissenting about church-matters in things of communion and society, and that also are not indifferent, (as to eat fish, or eat flesh, or eat herbs, plainly is) but necessary; as to be careful and orderly about the external business of the church: these are no jewish rites, nor shadowy ceremonies; no meats nor drinks that are private and personal, where weakness is apt to mistake (that were an unnecessary and an unchristian yoke to bear) but things comely, orderly, and of good report, that tend to purity, peace and diligence in things acceptable to God, and requisite among his people in their temporal and Christian capacity. And herein the apostle Paul exercised his godly authority; and we find that not only those that opposed themselves to it, as thinking he took too much upon him, demanded a mark of Christ's speaking in him, but are in scripture branded with contention. But the true believers, that had in themselves a mark of Christ's speaking in him, were of one mind, and avoided such as were given to contention; for it was not the custom of the churches of Christ. Thus were Christ's people of one heart, in things relating to their communion. Yet a little far
ther; they that have the mind of Christ, are of one mind; for Christ is not divided: they that have Christ for their head, have one counsellor and prophet, one seer and bishop, they disagree not in their judgments in things relating to him, and the good of his church; they have one and the same guide; for the one spirit, into which they have all drank, and by it are baptised into one body, leads them all. Now to every member is a "measure of the same spirit given to profit with ;" and though every member is not an eye, nor an ear, nor a mouth, yet every member hath unity with the eye, with the ear, with the mouth, in their proper and respective acts, and they one with the other: the eye sees for the mouth; the mouth speaks for the eye; and the ear hears for both this variety hath no discord; but in this diversity of gifts and offices, each member is sensible of the other, and moves and acts by one and the same life, spirit, and guidance, which is omnipresent, proportionable to every member in its distinct office. It must be granted, that there are helps in the church, as well as that there is a church at all; and the Holy Ghost has compared those helps (as is before-mentioned) to several members and senses of man's body, as an eye, an hand, a foot, hearing, smelling, &c. All then cannot be the eye, neither can all be the hand, for then they would confound their office, and act disagreeably to the ordination of the great orderer of his church. And if I will not comply with him that God hath made an eye, because I am not that eye, or an hand, because I am not that member myself, nor a party to the action or performance of that member, I resist the Lord, though under pretence of resisting man for the Lord's sake. And truly, this is the rock that some of our own time, as well as persons of former ages, have split upon; they have not been contented with their own station in the body, they have not kept to their own gift, nor been taken up with the duty of their own place in the church. If he that is a foot would be au hand, and the hand covets to be an eye, envying others their allotted sta tion, through height of mind, and walking loose from the holy cross, there can be no such thing as concord and fellowship in the church of Christ.
Farthermore, since the spirit of the Lord is one in all, it ought to be obeyed through another, as well as in one's self: and this I affirm to you, that the same lowly frame of mind that receives and answers the mind of the spirit of the Lord in a man's self, will receive and have unity with the mind of the same spirit through another: and the reason is plain; because the same self-evidencing power and virtue that ariseth from the measure of the spirit of truth in one's
self, and that convinceth a man in his own heart, doth also attend the discovery of the mind of the same spirit, when delivered by another; for the words of the "second Adamı, the quickening spirit," through another, are spirit and life, as well as in thy own particular: this is discerned by the spiritual man that judgeth all things, although the carnal man pleadeth being left to his freedom; and, it may be, talks of being left to the spirit in himself too; the better to escape the sense and judgment of the spiritual man. It is my earnest desire, that all that have any knowledge of the Lord, would have a tender care how they use that plea against their faithful brethren, that God put into their mouths against the persecuting priests and hirelings of the world, namely, I must mind the spirit of God in myself:' for though it be a great truth that all are to be left thereunto, yet it is as true, that he whose soul is left with the spirit of truth in himself, differs not from his brethren that are in the same spirit; and as true it is, that those who err from the spirit of truth, may plead being left to the spirit in themselves, against the motion and command of the spirit through another, when it pleaseth not his or her high mind and perverse will; for a saying may be true or false, according to the subject matter it is spoken upon, or applied to: we own the assertion, we deny the application there lies the snare. It is true, the people of God ought to be left to the guidings of the Spirit of God in themselves; but for this to be so applied, as to disregard the preachings or writings of Christ's enlightened servants, because by them applied properly to the preaching or writing of false prophets and seducers, will by no means follow. I say the doctrine is true, but not exclusively of all external counsel or direction; therefore false in application, where men are allowed to have had the fear of God, and the mind of his Spirit, and are not proved to have acted in their own wills and wisdom, or without the guidance of the Spirit of God, about the things of his church and kingdom.
Quest. But though this be true, which hath been alleged for heavenly concord, yet what if I do not presently see that service in a thing, that the rest of my brethren agree in? In this case, what is my duty and theirs?
Answ. It is thy duty to wait upon God in silence and patience, out of all fleshly consultations; and as thou abidest in the simplicity of the truth, thou wilt receive an understanding with the rest of thy brethren, about the thing doubted. And it is their duty, whilst thou behavest thyself in meekness and humility, to bear with thee, and carry themselves tenderly and loving towards thee: but if, on the