Dear friends,—This is the day for all to take your possessions, that know the gospel, the power of God [Rom 1:16], which brings life and immortality to light [2 Tim 1:10] in them. . . . So every one take your possessions of this holy, everlasting, joyful, and peaceable gospel and order; for the peace is in the power of God; so it is called the gospel of peace [Rom 10:15, Eph 6:15], that keeps all in the peace, which you have from the Prince of peace [Isa 9:6], that the world cannot take away from you; and likewise that you may be heirs and possessors of Christ, and of his government, which is pure, holy, righteous, and heavenly, of the increase of this heavenly man's government there is no end [Isa 9:7]; but there will be an end of old Adam's and the devil's, which began in time, and will end in time, but there will be no end of his, that was set up from everlasting to everlasting. So all be possessors of this heavenly government, and of this heavenly, glorious, and comely order. . . . <52> . . .
And whereas it hath been said by them without, you must come and hear Christ preached. The answer is from the possessors of him, I have examined myself, and proved myself, and have found Christ Jesus in me, and he rules in my heart by faith [Eph 3:17]; and I am in him, and he is in me [John 15:5]; ‘and behold ye’ (that is as much as to say, take notice) ‘all things are become new [2 Cor 5:17].’
And whereas the saying has been by them that are without, why do not you come to hear the word preached? The answer is, and will be, from the possessors of him, the word is nigh me, in my heart and mouth, to obey it and do it [Deut 30:14]; and need not say to any, who shall ascend to bring it down from above, or who shall descend to bring it up from the grave [Rom 10:6f]; for I am come to the righteousness of faith's speaking [Rom 10:6], (mark, faith's speaking,) that saith on this wise, ‘The word is nigh thee, in thy heart and mouth, to obey it and do it;’ by which word I am born again of the immortal seed, which lives, and abides, and endures for ever [1 Pet 1:23]; by which word I have milk to give freely to babes [1 Pet 2:2] and sucklings. So the possessors have breasts; and the possessors' breasts are not dry; glory to the Lord for ever. So no more but love; and God Almighty preserve you in his wisdom, that is pure and gentle from above [Jas 3:17], by which you may be all ordered [Wis 8:1], and order all that you have under your hands to his glory [1 Cor 10:31]. And keep in the unity of the holy spirit, which is the bond of peace [Eph 4:3], of the Prince of princes' peace [Dan 8:25], which is every one of your duty to keep this heavenly peace of the Prince of princes, which none can take away from you; for you are bound with the spirit to keep it, so that your praise may be in the gospel [2 Cor 8:18]; that you may admonish and exhort all that do profess the truth of the gospel, that they may walk in the truth, as becomes the gospel [3 Jn 1:3/Phil 1:27], and that every one that does profess Christ Jesus, and has received him, may walk in him in the new and living way [Heb 10:20], out of the old way.
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To all Friends that live in the truth, and by it are become God's freemen and women [1 Cor 7:22], and by the truth and power of God are brought out of the world's vain fashions and customs, in their feastings, and revelings, and banquetings, and wakes, and other vain feastings, where they spoil the creatures, and dishonour the Lord God more those times and days, which they call holy days, and feast days, than any other <53> times and days; and therefore you that are brought out of such things, and do see the vanity and folly of them; and likewise you that are brought out of all the extravagant feastings of companies in corporations, and of making of feasts, when the masters of companies are chosen, and constables, and head-boroughs, you see their vanity, and their folly, and madness, in their destroying of the creatures, to the reproach of christianity, and the dishonour of God, and the blaspheming of his name [Rom 2:23f]; and many times through the abusing of themselves [1 Cor 6:9] by excess, are more like beasts than men, in these things and doings; and therefore as you do see the folly and vanity of all such doings, in their voluptuous and vain feastings, and cannot observe their evil customs, then that vain spirit is in a great rage and fury, because you have, and do, break off fellowship with them in all these their vain customs [Jer 10:3]. And therefore you that are redeemed from these things by Christ, and from the feasting of the rich, and all other their vanities, and voluptuous dishonouring of God therein; I say to you, mind and practise Christ's words, as you may read in Luke xiii. 14. Christ saith, ‘When thou makest a dinner, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither kinsfolks, nor thy rich neighbours, lest they also bid thee again, and a recompense be made thee; but when thou dost make a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, and the blind, and thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee again, but thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just [Luke 14:12-14].’ So here you may see how Christ ordereth thee to make a feast or a dinner, and to whom, contrary to the world; and though it be a cross to them, yet it is to be obeyed, and observed, and practised; for it is the heavenly man's doctrine, and command, and will, and he that doth it shall know his doctrine; and this will judge the world in their vain feasts, dinners, and suppers, which they make for the rich, for which they have self-reward. But Christ's command being obeyed, denieth self [Mat 16:24, Luke 9:23], and hath the Lord's recompense; and all that call him Lord, should do as the Lord commandeth; and they that are his disciples, and do love him, will keep his commands [John 14:15]; for saith Christ, ‘If you love them that love you, what thank have you? For sinners also love those that love them. And if you do good to them that do good to you, what thank have you? For sinners also do even the same [Luke 6:32f]. So give and it shall be given unto you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over into your bosoms [Luke 6:38];’ and the Lord is kind to the unthankful, and therefore, ‘be ye merciful, as your heavenly Father is merciful [Luke 6:36].’ Luke vi. And therefore as you have forsaken all the world's vain feastings, and dinners, and suppers, (if so,) give the blind, the lame, the maimed, the widow, the fatherless, and the poor, a feast or a dinner, and obey Christ, the heavenly man's doctrine, though it do cross old earthly <54> Adam's will and practices; and though he be angry, never heed him, but obey the Lord.
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Dear friends, to whom is my love, I am glad to hear of the increase of truth amongst you, and the Lord prosper his work, and increase people in his knowledge, who will fulfil his promise, ‘that the knowledge of the Lord shall cover the earth as the waters cover the sea [Isa 11:9],’ in the new covenant; though in the old covenant, the word was to Jacob, and the statutes to Israel [Psa 147:19]; the like was not to other nations, but the new covenant is to all nations, Jews and Gentiles; ‘For I will give him for a covenant of light to the Gentiles, and he shall be my salvation to the ends of the earth [Isa 42:6/49:6];’ therefore he saith, ‘Look unto me all ye ends of the earth, and be ye saved [Isa 45:22]:’ and there is no salvation by any other name under heaven, but by the name of Jesus [Acts 4:12], which signifies a saviour. And in his name keep your men's and women's, and all your other meetings, that you may feel him in the midst of you [Mat 18:20], exercising his offices; as he is a prophet, which God has raised up [Deut 18:15], to open to you, and as he is a shepherd, who has laid down his life for you [John 10:15], to feed you [Isa 40:11, Ezek 34:23], so hear his voice [John 10:27]; and as he is a counsellor [Isa 9:6], and a commander, follow him and his counsel; and as he is a bishop [1 Pet 2:25] to oversee you, with his heavenly power and spirit; and as he is a priest, who offered up himself for you [Heb 7:27], who is made higher than the heavens [Heb 7:26], (and that is higher than all the priests that are made upon the earth,) who sanctifies his people [Heb 13:12], his church [1 Cor 1:2], and presents them to God without blemish, spot, or wrinkle [Eph 5:27]: so, I say, know him in all his offices, exercising them amongst you, and in you. . . . <55> . . .
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Read this amongst Friends in their meetings.
Friends, Do not grow barren [2 Pet 1:8?], but in the root abiding [Rom 11:17], ye will spring upward, and bring forth much fruit in this life, and in the life to come inherit life eternal; and so your lives being hid with Christ in God [Col 3:3], you will be made conformable to his image [Rom 8:29], and know the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship with him in his sufferings [Phil 3:10], and the fellowship <56> with him in his death, that you may have fellowship with him in his resurrection and life; and as you have borne the image of the earthly, so also you may bear the image of the heavenly [1 Cor 15:49]. And as your vessels have been full of wrath and dishonour, so your vessels may be full of his mercies [Rom 9:21-23], and praises to God; and as in your old earth hath dwelt unrighteousness, so you may see and know the new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness [2 Pet 3:13]. There is a belief that God is not the author of, for such have not the witness in themselves [1 Jn 5:10] of what they do believe; and a belief may be of God and Christ, and of the scriptures, and yet such may be in death, for they are not in Christ the light, and so are not children of the light [John 12:36]; and there is a faith, which Christ is not the author of [Heb 12:2], and that faith giveth not the victory [1 Jn 5:4], nor purifieth the heart [Acts 15:9], neither do they in it please God [Heb 11:6], nor have they access to God [Rom 5:2], and that is the dead faith which hath no works [Jas 2:17]. And there is a hope that doth not purify, and that hope is that which is not of Christ, who saves, and purifieth, as he is pure [1 Jn 3:3]; but that hope is the hope of the hypocrites [Job 8:13, 27:8]. And there is a way that may be defiled, where all the wolves, dogs, and beasts, and the unclean passeth [Isa 35:8], and hath many turning ways in it, and many crooked, and rough, and mountainous ways [Isa 40:4] in it; and there is the broad way that leadeth to destruction; and these are not the way of Christ, that leadeth to life, which is the narrow and strait way [Mat 7:13f]. And there are many names in the world by which there is no salvation; the beast hath many names [Rev 17:3], which all the world wondereth after Rev 13:3], and receive the beast's mark [Rev 14:9, etc], that he marketh them with, his beastly spirit and power which he hath from the dragon [Rev 13:2]; but there is but one name under the whole heaven by which people shall be saved, and that is the name of Jesus [Acts 4:12]; and they gathering in his name [Mat 18:20], by whom the world was made [John 1:3], and receiving their Father, the Lord God Almighty's name and mark in their foreheads [Rev 14:1], Christ is in the midst of them [Mat 18:20], and they will not receive the beast's mark, nor will not be marked by him. And there are many religions in the world, all which are spotted and defiled with the world's spirit [1 Cor 2:12], with which they do destroy one another; but there is but one pure religion from above, that is undefiled in the sight of God, and that keeps from the spots of the world, and leads to visit the widow and fatherless in their distress [James 1:27]; and they that receive this pure religion from God, (who is above,) it is by God's spirit, the fruits of which is love [Gal 5:22]; and this pure undefiled religion from God hath the glory in all the hearts of them that do receive it, who is the author of it; and it is above all those religions that are below, that are made by men's earthly, sensual, and devilish wisdom [Jas 3:15], who with it compel people to conform to them, and such are not gentle, pure, nor peaceable, as the wisdom which is from above is [Jas 3:17]. And there is but one true worship, which the devil is out of, and his unclean spirit, and he cannot get into <57> it; which worship is in the spirit and in the truth [John 4:24], which Christ the heavenly man [1 Cor 15:47] hath set up above sixteen hundred years since. And every one that cometh into the spirit, and into the truth, are the true worshippers of the God of truth, who is a spirit; and all that are not in the spirit and truth, are in the beast's worship, (out of the spirit of God,) and in his wrath under the dragon's power [Rev 13:4]. And there are many instructers that cause people to err [Prov 19:27]; but there is but one spirit of truth, which leadeth into all truth [John 16:13]; and this is the one spirit that led the prophets and apostles to give forth the scriptures; and all the instructers that are out of it, cause people to err from the spirit [Isa 29:24?] that the prophets and apostles were in, and so are in confusion. And there is one leader, Christ Jesus, that God hath given; and all that are not led by him, are led into the ditch [Mat 15:14], the corrupting place, and they tell them, there is no perfection here. And all the learned in Babel's confused tongues [Gen 11:7,9; Isa 50:4], who have the letter of the scriptures, yet follow their own spirits, (see not,) and the divination of their own brains [Jer 14:14], and use their tongues [Jer 23:31], such buildeth up Babylon again, who are not in the spirit the prophets and apostles were in, and know not the tongue of the learned, nor the scriptures of Christ, and the prophets, and the apostles; but they are as a sealed up book to them; and therefore they are raging and contending about the meanings of them, teaching their people, by their example, to do the same.
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My dear friends, who feel the precious truth of God, by which you are made God's free men and women [John 8:32], and have bought the truth, do not sell it [Prov 23:23] for dross or dung, but be valiant for the truth upon the earth [Jer 9:3], you who have received God's seed into the good ground, that in this life some bring forth fifty, sixty, and a hundred fold [Mat 13:8] of fruit from God's seed, to his glory, and that have received the anointing oil in your lamps from the Holy One, that they may burn and shine both night and day in your tabernacles [Lev 24:2], through which you may be lighted into the bridegroom's chamber [Mat 25:1-10]; and the power of God has always been your keeper [1 Pet 1:5], and will be unto the day of salvation [2 Cor 6:2]; which power of God is over all, yea, over the power of the devil, the waster and destroyer [Isa 54:16?], who makes the world like a wilderness [Isa 14:17], and fills it with unrighteousness [Rom 1:29], death, darkness, and cruelty. Therefore let your faith stand in the power of God [1 Cor 2:5], which the kingdom stands in [1 Cor 4:20], which is a cross to the world's power, that causes persecution; which power of God is the gospel [Rom 1:16], which was before the devil was, that brought death and darkness into you; this power of God brings life and immortality to light [2 Tim 1:10] in you, by which power you see over him that has darkened you, and before he was. <58> And you that are heirs of this gospel keep the holy and heavenly order of it; by which power of God you come to dig, and have found the pearl in your own field, of great price; by which power of God you come to sell all, and to purchase the field [Mat 13:44-46], then you have riches enough. And have salt in yourselves, that you may savour withal; and that your salt lose not its savour [Mark 9:50], through which you may be kept from under the feet of men, though they that will live godly in Christ Jesus must suffer [2 Tim 3:12] persecution. And it is not only given you to believe in Christ, but to suffer for his name, whose name is above every name [Phil 2:9]. And there is no salvation by any other name under heaven, but by the name of Jesus [Acts 4:12]; whose name is a strong tower, and the righteous flee unto it, and are safe [Prov 18:10]; by whose name and power (that is over all) you have been upheld through all your tribulations, sufferings, imprisonment, and spoiling of goods. And Christ Jesus, and his power, is the same to-day as he was yesterday, and so for ever [Heb 13:8]. And therefore, as I said before, let your faith stand in his power; for Christ's kingdom stands not in word, but in power [1 Cor 4:20], and in righteousness, and in joy in the holy ghost [Rom 14:17]; whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom [Dan 4:3], and the riches in it are everlasting. Blessed are all they that are heirs and possessors of this, their minds and hearts are kept over all fading things, and the riches that have wings [Prov 23:5], that the spoiler may spoil [Isa 21:2]. And therefore consider all the faithful before you, how they accounted all but as loss, dross, and dung, to the excellency of the knowledge that they had in Christ Jesus [Phil 3:8]; and consider likewise the faith of the martyrs, the faith of the apostles, and primitive christians, that kept the faith and testimony of Jesus; their patience was seen [Rev 2:2f]. And likewise consider all the prophets of God to Enoch, how their faithfulness is made manifest [Heb 11:5]; and all the rest, how they were tried by persecutors, by prisons, and by spoiling of their earthly goods [Heb 10:34] and riches, but never of the heavenly goods and riches; for there the thief and spoiler could not come [Mat 6:20]. And therefore mind that noble seed, that never bowed to sin and iniquity, nor the devil [Mat 4:9f?], but bruises his head [Gen 3:15], and destroys him and his works [Heb 2:14, 1 Jn 3:8], that ye may all be flesh of his flesh and bone of his bone [Gen 2:23], who is your heavenly food and bread that comes down from heaven [John 6:35-52], through whom you may eat, and live by him, as he lives by the Father [John 6:57]; and so by eating this heavenly bread that comes down from heaven, you may have everlasting life. The Lord may try you by persecution, or spoiling your outward goods which he has given you, by permitting the spoilers and persecutors come to try you, that you may come forth like gold seven times tried in the fire [Job 23:10/Psa 12:6], (the perfection of trial,) for many are the troubles of the righteous, but the Lord will deliver out of them all [Psa 34:19]; and happy are they that are tried [James 1:12?], that they may come forth more pure than gold [1 Pet 1:7]. And let none sell their birth-right for a mess of pottage [Gen 25:30-34], <59> and a piece of bread, Esau-like. And let none have their eyes wandering after their carrying away the fleece; nor look back at Sodom's judgments [Gen 19:17,26]; for the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof [Psa 24:1]; and he can make the fleece grow again. And, therefore, consider the riches of Job, and the poverty of Job, and how his friends despised him in his poverty, and how they were reproved; and God increased his prosperity, and lengthened his tranquillity [Dan 4:27]. And as Daniel's windows were opened towards outward Jerusalem [Dan 6:10], in the time of the informers, when he prayed to his God, as he did before in the time when they were not. And therefore should not all your windows and doors be open towards heavenly Jerusalem, your mother [Gal 4:26], that God may come in and help you against the false mother and her children. And therefore keep your meetings in the time of sufferings, as you did before, and preach the word in season, and out of season [2 Tim 4:2]; the word, I say, that commands the clouds [Psa 78:23, Isa 5:6] and storms [Psa 107:25, Mark 4:37-41], and was before they were. And therefore blessed are those eyes that see [Luke 10:23] the sun of righteousness [Mal 4:2] that never sets, the sun of righteousness that changes not; for the prophet speaks of a sun and moon that shall be turned into darkness, before the notable day of the Lord come [Joel 2:31, Acts 2:20]; and where this notable day of the Lord is seen, and by whom it is seen, they see the glorious son of God, the son of righteousness, by whom were all things, who is over all things, who is the head of his people, and dwells in them, who is present with them, and who was, and will be, to all eternity; of whose kingdom there is no end [Luke 1:33], who is God over all, blessed for ever.
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Kingston, the 1st of the 7th month, 1674.
My dear friends in England, and all parts of the word; the gospel, which is the power of God [Rom 1:16], which you have received from the beginning, keep in it, and the fellowship of it; in which there is neither sect nor schism, but an everlasting fellowship, and an everlasting order; which gospel brings life and immortality to light [2 Tim 1:10], in every one of your hearts, and lets you see over him, that hath darkened you. Now every man and woman here, will have a testimony in their own hearts, of this order and fellowship, being heirs and inheritors of it; by which you will see over all the false orders and fellowships, that are or may be set up or made. Therefore it is good for every one to keep their habitation. For those that went in Cain's way [Jude 1:11], (as the apostles' speak of,) they envied the apostles that kept the fellowship. And Cora's way, and Balaam's way [2 Pet 2:15]; these were them that had been great professors, that envied the apostles. For mark, it was the way of such as were of Cain, Cora, and Balaam's spirit, to oppose the power, who were <60> against Abel, and Moses, and the apostles; and so there began the apostacy, and there came up the many orders, amongst them in the apostacy. So that at last the gospel order was lost amongst them, and the government of Christ, and his worship; and the beast was then set up. And therefore now the gospel order is to be set up again, and the government of Christ Jesus, by them that be heirs of him, and of his government, who is first and the last, the beginning and the end [Rev 22:13], of the increase of whose government there is no end [Isa 9:7]. Now, I say, you that be heirs of Christ, possess him, and walk in him; and as you have received him [Col 4:6], so walk all in peace, and love [Eph 5:2], and live in his worship in the spirit and truth [John 4:24], which the devil is out of [John 8:44].
And at your general assemblies of the ministry at London, or elsewhere, examine, as it was at the first, whether all the ministers that go forth into the countries, do walk as becomes the gospel [Phil 1:27]. For that you know was one end of that meeting, to prevent and take away scandal. And to examine, whether all do keep in the government of Christ Jesus, that preach him, and in the order of the gospel, and to exhort them that doth not. For the foundation is already laid, which is Christ [1 Cor 3:11], and his government is set up; of the increase of which there is no end. So had all these called christians, kept in his order, and government, they had not troubled themselves, and others, with so many disorders, if he had been head of their church [Col 1:18]; so if you keep in the gospel order, and government of Christ Jesus, you will keep out of the apostacy, which they have been in, and the many false orders, and governments, that they went into, and made one against another, when they went from the true; as you may see in the scriptures of truth, that it was some high Cain and Cora-like spirits that did so; for Cain was able to build a city [Gen 4:17]. And Cora, that opposed the chief leader Moses, was of the princes of the people [Num 16:1f]. And so these opposed (with their many orders,) the true order. And Balaam, that was able to teach a nation, and prophesy before a king, made the children of Israel to stumble by his bad counsel [Num 22 - 24]. These were men of esteem, these are they the world went after, these came to ride upon the people; and such as these opposed Abel, Moses, and Christ, (the leader and governor,) and his apostles, and set up the many orders, and governments, in their churches, and broke all into sects. And therefore, friends, if you keep under Christ, the governor, who governs his church in righteousness, and who is a prophet, and preacher, and keep in his gospel order; none of these can deceive you, let them come with never so fair pretences. For Christ bruises the serpent's head [Gen 3:15], who is the head of all false teachers [2 Pet 2:1], and false orders, that are not in his power, and is the first and last [Rev 22:13]; and therefore, keep in his power, and in the unity of his spirit, which is the bond of peace [Eph 4:3]. Mark, the pure, holy, eternal, invisible spirit of God, is the bond of <61> peace. Therefore, forfeit not your bond of the Prince of princes; for if you do, you lose your life, and go into death, and into an evil spirit, and break the Prince of princes' peace [Dan 8:25], so that you lose your peace with him Christ Jesus. And therefore it concerns all, that profess themselves to be ministers, to be humble, else they are no learners of Christ; not to be harsh nor high minded [Rom 11:20], but walk as examples [1 Tim 4:12] amongst God's flock, and not to be lords over God's inheritance; but let him be Lord whose right it is [Ezek 21:27], &c.
And you have known the manner of my life, the best part of thirty years, since I went forth, and forsook all things; I sought not myself, I sought you and his glory that sent me; and when I turned you to him, that is able to save you, I left you to him: and my travels have been great, in hungers and colds, when there were few, for the first six or seven years, that I often lay in woods and commons in the night; that many times it was as a by-word, that I would not come into houses, and lie in their beds. And the prisons have been made my home a great part of my time, and in danger of my life, and in jeopardy daily. And amongst you I have made myself of no reputation Phil 2:7], to keep the truth up in reputation, as you all very well know it, that be in the fear of God. With the low, I made myself low; and with the weak and feeble, I was as one with them, and condescended to all conditions [Rom 12:16], for the Lord had fitted me so before he sent me forth; and so I passed through great sufferings in my body, as you have been sensible. And few at the first took care for the establishing men and women's meetings, though they were generally owned when they understood them: but the everlasting God, that sent me forth by his everlasting power, first to declare his everlasting gospel [Rev 14:6], and then after people had received the gospel, I was moved to go through the nation, to advise them to set up the men's meetings, and the women's, many of which were set up; and I was moved to write to other places, for them to do the like, that kept the power. And this was the end, that all that had received the gospel, might be possessors of it, and of the gospel order, which is heavenly; and that all that had received Christ Jesus, might so walk in him [Col 2:6], and possess his government in the church, who are members of him the heavenly head. And so men and women being heirs of Christ, they are heirs of him, and of his government: so that men and women may be both possessors of this government; and men and women being heirs of this gospel, might inherit it. Then men and women are heirs of the order of the gospel, which is from heaven, and not by man, nor of man [Gal 1:11f]; which is an everlasting order, which is from the power of God; for the gospel is called, the everlasting gospel. So that all now in the restoration by Christ Jesus, into the image of God [Col 3:10], may be helps-meet [Gen 2:18,20] in holiness and righteousness [Eph 4:24], as Adam and Eve were in, <62> before they fell; for in the church of Christ, where he is head [Col 1:18], there is his gospel, and his order, and his government; there is his power felt in every one's heart, and there are these offices of admonishing, rebuking, exhorting, reproving, amongst them that are convinced, and converted, by them that are in the power; for there are several states. So they that would not have people to be admonished [Eccl 4:13], that go under the name of truth, and yet go into sin and wickedness, those are out of the gospel order, and government of Christ Jesus, and of a loose mind themselves, and would be up themselves, and lords. But that spirit is for judgment, for it is out of the power of God, and out of the spirit, in which is the fellowship.
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Given forth in the time of his sickness in Worcester prison, 1674.
Friends,—Seek the peace of all men; which peace is in Christ, which is a peace that the world cannot take away. And blessed are the peacemakers [Mat 5:9], that make peace among the brethren and people; these shall have a blessing from the Lord, the king of peace [Heb 7:2]; but wo be unto them that cause strife and offence [Mat 18:7]. And all walk in the righteousness of Christ the Lord, over your own righteousness, and do, and act, and speak in his righteousness; then you act, and do, and speak, and walk in that, in which you have peace, and then God will delight in you, and you will be loved of him, for he loveth the righteous.
And let it be below any of God's people to raise an evil report [Exo 23:1] on his people, or any others, or to give both their ears to any one's report of his people or matter, till they have heard both parties; so that righteousness, and truth, and judgment, may be kept up, and not fall. And in your men and women's meetings, you are in and about the Lord's business [Luke 2:49], and not your own; and therefore let the Lord be in your eyes [Ezek 38:23?], that all of you his presence, and power, and wisdom, and judgment may receive, to do, and act, and speak in. And this keeps all in his fear, to be careful of their words and doings, and keeps all solid, and virtuous, and sober; and then whatsoever is of a good report, and is decent and comely, and whatsoever is virtuous, and tends to virtue, and is lovely, that to follow after and cherish [Phil 4:8]. And here your eyes are kept open, to see that nothing be lacking [1 Th 4:12], and that you stand in that which shall never fall, in the power, and spirit, and seed Christ, who is the sure foundation [Isa 28:16], and the rock of ages [Isa 26:4 KJV margin].
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Friends,—In every thing give thanks to the Lord; for from him every good thing you do receive; for the apostle saith, 1 Thess. v. 18. ‘In <63> every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Jesus Christ concerning you [1 Th 5:18];’ and they that do not obey this doctrine, do not do the will of God in Christ Jesus. And the apostle saith, ‘Every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving [1 Tim 4:4],’ &c. 1 Tim. iv. 4. And David saith, ‘At midnight I will rise to give thee thanks, because of thy righteous judgments [Psa 119:62].’ Psalm cxix. 62. And David saith, ‘O give thanks unto the Lord, for it is good, because his mercy endureth for ever [Psa 118:1].’ Psalm cxviii. 1. So the Lord is worthy of all the thanks and praises, through Jesus Christ, who created all by Jesus Christ, to his glory and honour for evermore.
G. F. Top
Dear Friends,—Let all things be done in love, and in the spirit of Christ, which is the spirit of the lamb, that must have the victory [Rev 17:14]; for patience runneth the race, and hath the crown [Heb 12:1/1 Cor 9:24f]. And keep down rough Esau's spirit [Gen 27:11,16,21-23], for that will not let the Jew inward [Rom 2:29] pass the king's highway [Num 20:17f]. And therefore quench nothing that is good; but keep in the love of God, that is shed in your hearts [Rom 5:5], and every one keep to your own springs, and at your own breast, and feel your own bread in your own house (from heaven.) And strive not for mastery [1 Cor 9:25], but let Christ be the master, who is the wisdom of God, and your wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and justification [1 Cor 1:30], and you to dwell in humility and love, that will bear all things [1 Cor 13:7]; and that is not easily provoked [1 Cor 13:5], and envieth not [1 Cor 13:4]: if your love is not in this love, it is not the love of God. Though you may be convinced of the truth; but they are happy that do obey the truth of what they are convinced; and if they do not, they will lose the days of their innocency and simplicity. And know the birth that is freeborn [Gal 4:22-31], which can give the cheek to the smiter [Isa 50:6]; for there is a birth of the mortal seed, and there is a birth of the immortal seed, by the word of God, that liveth and abideth for ever [1 Pet 1:23]; which latter hath a habitation that is for ever [2 Chr 6:2]. And take heed, friends, in laying open one another's weakness; but if any one has any thing to say, let them speak to the person concerned; and if they will not hear, take two or three more, before they are brought into public [Mat 18:15-17]. This is the order of the head Christ, to his body, his church. And if any report be upon any, let them speak to the parties that are concerned; for the report may be false: and the Lord saith, ‘Thou shalt not raise a false report [Exo 23:1] upon my people.’ So in this you will have a care one of another [1 Cor 12:25], for one another's good, preferring one another [Rom 12:10] in the truth. And so let the true brotherly love continue [Heb 13:1], and kindness, affableness, and courteousness, and whatsoever is decent, comely, and of a good report [Phil 4:8] in the eyes of God, and the hearts of all good men, that follow after; <64> and so, that in your men and women's meetings, nothing may be seen of the old leaven, of the old malice [1 Cor 5:7f], nor of the old man, nor his deeds [Col 3:9], nor his old image, nor his old bottle be drunk of [Mat 9:17], nor his sour grapes eaten of; for if you do, it will set your teeth on edge [Jer 31:30], one against another. But mind the royal seed, Christ Jesus, that makes all things new [Rev 21:5], that new and living way [Heb 10:20], a new man, after God and his image [Col 3:10]: so children of the new covenant, having the new leaven, that leavens up into the love of God, which edifies the body, [Eph 4:16] of which Christ is head [Col 1:18]; and new bottles, full of new wine [Mat 9:17] from Christ the vine [John 15:1]; the new wine which makes all your hearts glad [Psa 104:15] to God and Christ, and one in another. So here is the new heart, the new spirit [Ezek 18:31], the new life, in which the living God is served [Rom 7:6/Heb 9:14]. And therefore, this is the word of the Lord God to you all, ‘Let this new way, new covenant, new man, new leaven, new wine, new life, show forth its fruits in the new life, from the new man. So that the fruits of the old may not appear, and that the bond of peace, in the unity of the spirit , may be kept amongst you. So keep in this unity of the spirit, which is the bond of peace [Eph 4:3]; and none to break their peace, and go into the ill behaviour; for that is out of the spirit of God and Christ, which is meek, gentle, &c. So that the Lord God of your lives may be glorified in you all, and above all, who is over all, God blessed for ever and ever.
London, the 15th of the 3d month.