Friends,—Keep out of the vain fashions of the world; let not your eyes, and minds, and spirits run after every fashion (in apparel) of the nations; for that will lead you from the solid life into unity with that spirit that leads to follow the fashions of the nations, after every fashion of apparel that gets up. But mind that which is sober and modest, and keep to your plain fashions, that therein you may judge the world [1 Cor 6:2], whose minds and eyes are in, ‘what they shall put on, and what they shall eat [Mat 6:25]’. . . . Therefore all keep down that spirit of the world [1 Cor 2:12] that runs into so many fashions to please the lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life [1 Jn 2:16]. And fashion not yourselves according to your former lust of ignorance [1 Pet 1:14]; and let the time past be sufficient, in which you have lived according to the lusts of men, and the course of the world, that the rest of your time you may live to the will of God, taking no thought what ye shall eat, what ye shall drink, or what ye shall put on; that therein your lives may judge the heathen, and that you may be as the lilies [Mat 6:28f]. For nothing you brought into the world, neither any thing shall you take out [1 Tim 6:7]. And, therefore, while the eye is gazing after every new fashion, and the mind and desire is thirsting to get it; when it has it, it lifts up the mind, and so brings under the judgment of them that are in the sober life, and of the world also, and to be like them. Therefore take heed of the world's fashions, lest ye be moulded up into their spirit, and that will bring you to slight truth, and lift up the wrong eye, and wrong mind, and wrong spirit, and hurt and blind the pure eye, and pure mind, and quench the holy spirit [1 Th 5:19]; and through such foolish toys, and fashions, and fading things, you may lose your conditions. Therefore take heed of the world's vanity, and trust not in the uncertain riches [1 Tim 6:17], neither covet the riches of this world, but seek the kingdom of God, and the righteousness thereof, and all other things will follow [Mat 6:33]; and let your minds be above the costly <301> and vain fashions of attire, but mind the hidden man of the heart, which is a meek and a quiet spirit, which is of great price with the Lord [1 Pet 3:4]. And keep to justice and truth in all your dealings and tradings, at a word, and to the form of sound words [2 Tim 1:13], in the power of the Lord and in equity, in yea and nay in all your dealings [Mat 5:37 James 5:12], that your lives and conversations may be in heaven [Phil 3:20], and above the earth, that they may preach to all that you have to deal with; so that you may be as a city set on a hill, that cannot be hid, and as lights of the world [Mat 5:14], answering the equal principle in all, that God in all things may be glorified [1 Pet 4:11]. So that you may pass your time here with fear, as pilgrims, and strangers [Heb 11:13], and sojourners, having an eye over all things that are uncertain, as cities, houses, lands, goods, and as things below. Possess them as if ye did not; and they that marry, as if they did not [1 Cor 7:29f]; yet as having a city, whose maker and builder is God [Heb 11:10], and a possession of an inheritance that will never fade away [1 Pet 1:4], in which you have riches that will abide with you eternally [Prov 8:18, Mat 6:20].
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My dear friends in the truth and seed of God, in which is purity and life, let that flow from the head to the feet, that righteousness, and judgment may run down our streets as a stream [Amos 5:24]. For now Friends are become a people gathered in the holy name of Jesus. Therefore all are to walk worthy of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus [Eph 4:1/Phil 3:14]; and every one as he hath received him, so walk in him, as becometh the gospel [Phil 1:27], which is the power of God [Rom 1:16], which was before the devil was; that in that your life may shine before men, to answer that of God in all, that they may behold your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven [Mat 5:16]. And so, walk in the light [1 Jn 1:7] as children of the light and of the day [1 Th 5:5]. For you know that formerly we did cry against the powers of the earth, because that judgment, and justice, and righteousness did not run down their streets. And now that Friends are become a great people, shall not judgment, and justice, and righteousness run down our streets as a stream and a flood, to drive away all the filth from amongst us [Isa 4:4].
. . . . <302> . . . Oh! therefore friends, who have purchased this through great sufferings, lose not this great favour which God hath given unto you, but that you may answer the witness of God [1 Jn 5:9] in every man, which witnesseth to your faithfulness, that they may glorify your Father on your behalf [1 Pet 4:16?].
And now, friends, if there be any oppression, exaction, or defrauding by making a prize, through the freedom which God hath given you, the world will see such, and say, the Quakers are not as they were. . . . Therefore such must be exhorted, for such never knew the purchase of the truth, and if they did, they have sold it [Prov 23:23].
And, friends, forget not the assembling of yourselves together [Heb 10:25], as the manner of some is, and was; lest there be an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God [Heb 3:12], but exhort one another daily [Heb 3:13]. . . .
And also, all such unruly spirits that have professed (falsely) and got under the name of Quakers, whose evil words corrupt good manners [1 Cor 15:33], must be exhorted from house to house. <303>
And also such young people, lasses and lads, that go in youthful ways, and take liberty to go into pleasure, and to play, and to alehouses and drunkenness; which corrupt the earth [Rev 19:2], which is one mark that they are dead whilst they live. And these kill the just [James 5:6], and burden the righteous, and cause the way of truth to be evil spoken of. Therefore such must be exhorted to live in the truth, and to come to that which will mortify that which leads to death; so that truth may be adorned [Tit 2:10] by them.
. . . . And better such had never professed the name, nor known the truth, nor come among them who were gathered into the name of Jesus [Mat 18:20], and into the form of sound words [2 Tim 1:13], and into the son of God and godliness, than to have gone into a form of their own, which they have received, yea, even from the worst of men. . . .
And all such as are tattlers, busy-bodies [1 Tim 5:13], backbiters, and gossipers, are to be exhorted to mind their own conditions, that they may live in the truth, and not to draw others out to words, wherein there is no profit [2 Tim 2:14; that truth may flow, and the life may flow, and the unity may increase in the spirit and power; that all may come to live in the gospel order, which was before the devil, or enmity, or adversary was.
And all such as cry, ‘Away with your laws, we will have none of your laws.’ To such as come to the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus, which makes free from the law of sin and death [Rom 8:2], and puts down that authority; which life was before death and sin were, and remains when they are gone; and in the life in Christ Jesus, is the saints' fellowship, <304> and unity, and bond of peace [Eph 4:3]. All such as cry against laws so much, are the sons of Belial [Deut 13:13], and would be without the yoke of the law of the son of God [Mat 11:29?]. Such always were the stirrers up of mischief and schism from the body, and they took liberty to say any thing; as ye may read in the book of Kings, in the days of Jezebel [1 Ki 21:25], and in the days of Stephen [Acts 6:12]; and yet these that cry so much against laws, yet they live themselves in the law of sin and death; which they obey when they do evil; who are without the understanding of the righteous law, which the righteous live in and see. Therefore, such must be exhorted and reproved, if they go under the name of Quakers, and are not in the life. That justice, judgment, and righteousness may flow as a river, and as a stream [Amos 5:24], and drive away all the filth from among us [Isa 4:4]; that nothing but the power of God, and the life of truth, may rule amongst us; that the living God, which hath blessed you with his heavenly riches and mercies, and largely manifested them among you, may be in all things honoured, magnified, and exalted. To whom all belongs, God over all, blessed for ever. So that every one may adorn the truth, and the gospel [Tit 2:10], and mind the Lord's business above their own. And every one be tender of the glory of God, and be careful, that in nowise his name and truth be dishonoured.
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So let this be read in all your men and women's meetings, who are to take notice of all such things. So no more, but my love in the universal seed of God, which never sinned, which is first and last, the top and corner-stone.
To all you that minister abroad in those parts, this is the word of the Lord to you all: live in lowliness of mind, and meekness of spirit, and pureness of heart, and be examples in your lives, and chaste in your conversations [1 Tim 4:12], in holiness of mind, that you may be a good savour amongst the people where you come. Let all ungracious, light, unseasoned expressions, be kept out of your minds and mouths, which edify not the new life; and keep single unto God, and single-hearted to man, and plain in all things, and low. For it is the word of the Lord, and the light of God, that prophesieth and revealeth the dispensation of the gospel [1 Cor 9:17] of Christ unto people. Be ye faithful in it, and walk answerable to it, and to that holy gift or manifestation of prophecy. And let none be lifted up with it, for life brings low, and down, as you are kept in the holiness of it, and the wisdom of God [1 Cor 1:24]; through which you answer that of God in all [Col 4:6/Rom 1:19]. This doth not hinder the effect of that which you have to minister; but the life is opened to receive it, in walking and <305> answering that which you have to minister; though the contrary part may rise up against you. Be at unity amongst yourselves, that you may not make sects nor schisms, nor stumble the weak. For you know that cursed spirit that made rents and got into the affections and uppermost part of people, hath buried the witness of God [1 Jn 5:9] in many, and made open rents, (which may break also into other ages against truth, and them that live in it,) which in time will wither and fade away, as grass upon the house top [Psa 129:6], and their arrows will turn into their own bowels, that are shot against the righteous, both of the professor and profane. And so be valiant for the truth upon the earth [Jer 3:9], abhorring all uncleanness and unrighteousness, flying all youthful ways and fond affections below, being kept above them, showing the new life to them that be in the old, and a new conversation to them that be in the vain, and gentleness to all the perverse, and straightness to all the crooked, and plainness to all the rough, and lowliness to all the mountains of ungodliness and unrighteousness [Isa 40:4]; for the Lamb must have the victory [Rev 17:14]. And so you may be one another's crown, joy and rejoicing in the Lord [1 Th 2:19]: and not one another's sorrow and grief. . . . So, now turn to the Gentiles, to whom Christ is given for a covenant of light, and of salvation, to the ends of the earth [Isa 42:6/49:6]. So that the light must be preached and sounded throughout all the heathen kings and princes' countries; and therefore, as you feel and are moved, about six or more persons, living in those parts near unto them, to go with you, as I said, and desire the king to gather his council and subjects together, that they may hear that which hath been promised to them, God's everlasting covenant of light, and life, and salvation, to the ends of the earth. And so, be faithful in his power, which was before the devil was; who hath darkened people, and set them one against another. You having on the armour of light [Rom 13:12], which was before the power of darkness, (and which must stand against them,)[Eph 6:12] and having on the breast-plate of righteousness [Eph 6:14], that you may stand against all unrighteousness, and the shield of faith [Eph 6:16], the helmet of salvation, and the sword <306> of the spirit, which is the word of God [Eph 6:17], which was before the world was [John 1:1]; through which you may savour and discern in wisdom, and in understanding you may judge, and feel by the word of reconciliation committed to God's servants [2 Cor 5:19], his sons, and his daughters; which word of faith is now preached [Rom 10:8], even the same which was amongst the apostles; which all must obey and do; which reconciles to God, and to just men's spirits [Heb 12:23], and to one another. . . .
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London, the 1st of the 7th month, 1667.
[CCLIII. (253)— To Friends in Holland.]
Friends, let your affections be set on things that are above [Col 3:2]; for if they be on things below, then your minds, bodies, souls, and spirits, will be brought into bondage, and in that the evil will get into you and burden you, which ought to be kept down by the seed of life: and learn the true humility of Christ the second Adam [1 Cor 15:45,47]. And so all they that watch for the soul [Heb 13:17], must have the immortal eye; for the soul is immortal: and therefore all eyes must be kept above that which is mortal, and out of it up to the immortal God, whose dwelling is in the light. And so mind the gospel, which is immortal, and the government of him that never sinned nor fell, and to know the increase of it daily, which hath no end. For the Lord is establishing his church in righteousness and truth, whose church is without spot, wrinkle, and blemish [Eph 5:27], or any such thing; and his people are a holy generation [1 Pet 2:9], and they are to stand up for holiness, in which holiness they will see God [Heb 12:14] among them: and let every one see that they do keep their own vineyard clean.
Dear friends, mind the gospel, which is the power of God [Rom 1:16], that was before the devil and old Adam were; in this power is the comely order; and out of this power is all the uncomely orders. And so know the government of Christ, and the increase thereof, which hath no end [Isa 9:7]: and this governor and government was before the devil and old Adam was, and will stand when all that is gone.
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Dear Friends, all who from the beginning have been convinced of God's truth, and are turned to the world, or gone into drunkenness, swearing, pleasure, and looseness, or to the old mass-house, or have sold the truth [Prov 23:23] for a wife or husband, and gone to the priests covertly to be married, contrary to the truth they have professed: these all must be admonished to come to the light that did first convince them, and give forth a paper of condemnation, and send it to the priests, and to those places where they have dishonoured God [Rom 2:23], his truth and people. And so to clear the truth, that none may make a jest of their transgressions: <308> and by walking out of the truth, cause the blind to wander [Deut 27:18]: so that the house may be swept, and ye being a holy generation [1 Pet 2:9], may stand up for holiness in your generation, as the wicked world stands up for unholiness.
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Surrey, the 10 th of the 7 th month, 1668.
My dear friends,—Live in the wisdom of God, which is gentle and pure from above, and easy to be entreated [Jas 3:17]; all ‘bear one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ [Gal 6:2].’ And if any weakness should appear in any in your meetings, not for any to lay it open and tell it abroad, that is not wisdom that doth so; for love covereth a multitude of sins [1 Pet 4:8], and love preserves and edifies the body [Eph 4:16]; and he that dwells in love dwells in God; for God is love [1 Jn 4:16], and love is not easily provoked [1 Cor 13:5]; and therefore keep the law of love [James 2:8?], to keep down that which is so provoked; for that which is easily provoked hath words, which are for condemnation. Therefore, let the law of love be amongst you, which is not easily provoked; and this law of love being amongst you, it will keep down that which is so provoked, and its words; and so the body edifies itself in love.
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Dear friends,—Be faithful in the service of God, and mind the Lord's business, and be diligent, so will the power of the Lord be brought over all those that have gainsayed it. And all ye that are faithful, go to visit them that have been convinced, from house to house, that if it be possible ye may not leave a hoof in Egypt [Exod 10:26]. And so, every one go seek the lost sheep, and bring him home on your backs to the fold, and there will be more joy of that one sheep than the ninety and nine in the fold [Mat 18:12f, Luke 5:4-7]. . . . <309> . . .
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Dear friends,—In the truth of God that changeth not, is my love to you, in that which is unfeigned and everlasting, in the same power, and the same seed of life as ever was, and was at the first going forth among you. And so friends, the Lord in his everlasting and mighty power hath moved some to go over in those parts to declare his word of life [1 Jn 1:1] and everlasting gospel [Rev 14:6]. And some have not walked afterwards as becometh the gospel [Phil 1:27], both them that have declared it, and them who have received it; whereby there hath been a stop to the progress of the truth and power of God, that it hath not had its full course; and by that, burdens have been brought upon the just and innocent, and the mouths of the world, instead of stopping them, they have opened them to speak evil of the truth and way of God [2 Pet 2:2]. . . . And all such likewise, who are gone into uncleanness, and such who pretend to preach the gospel, and are sat down in the earth, like Demas, and have forsaken the gift of God, and sit down in the earth, and esteem the earth before it [2 Tim 4:10]; and so set up their own business, and slight the Lord's. And such who are gotten into the rotten principles of the Ranters, who wear their hats when Friends pray; who, out of the wisdom of God, would manifest to the world a separation, and to show that they are not of the spirit, power, and mind, as Friends were in at the first. As also, all such that raise false reports, which are forbidden by the Lord [Exo 23:1] among his people. These things are to be searched out to the bottom, that righteousness and truth may flow, and have its passage through all hearts, and all may come to the habitation which they had at the first [Jude 1:6]; and all that is contrary <310> may come to judgment and condemnation. For the house must be swept and cleansed of all the things above mentioned that have gotten into any, that all may come up into the sanctified life; for the Ancient of days is come, and the judgment is set [Dan 7:22], and they that have kept their habitations witness this. . . .
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My dear friends,—Be faithful in the truth which the devil is out of [John 8:44]; in which truth you have dominion over him. And live in the power of God, which was before the devil was; in which power of God, which is the gospel [Rom 1:16], is your fellowship [Phil 1:5]. And live in the light, which was before darkness was, and the power of it: in which light is also your everlasting fellowship; and in this you will know God's dwelling, which is in the light. And dwell in the life, which was before death was, and the devil, the power of it; and in this life you will have dominion over death and the power of it. And so you do well that take heed to the light, and walk in it; and they that do evil do not take heed to the light. And so walk in the light [1 Jn 1:7], as children of the light [Eph 5:8], and that ye will have fellowship one with another [1 Jn 1:7], and with the son and the Father [1 Jn 1:3]. And so mind the ingrafted word, which is able to save your souls [Jas 1:21]; and that will keep your eyes and minds over all that which is not able to save, and keep your feet on the top of that. And so be of that good faith which gives you victory [1 Jn 5:4] and access to God [Rom 5:2], in which you do all please God [Heb 11:6], and have unity one with another [Eph 4:13]. And so mind the seed of Christ, which is over all that which makes to suffer, and was before that was, and will stand when that is gone that makes to suffer; in that seed live, and know it your crown and life [Rev 2:10], and in that you will be one another's crown and joy in the Lord [Phil 4:1] God blessed for ever. And so keep your meetings in the name and power of the Lord Jesus Christ that never fell [1 Pet 2:22]; and the seed Christ [Gal 3:16] reigns, in whom you have life, that was with the Father before the world began. [John 17:5]