And now, friends, you who are called into this glorious liberty of the sons of God [Rom 8:21], stand fast in it [Gal 5:1]. And as the apostle saith, ‘Brethren, ye have been called unto liberty, only use it not for an occasion to the flesh; but in love serve one another [Gal 5:13].’ Gal. v. 13.
‘As free, not using your liberty for a cloak of maliciousness, but as the servants of God [1 Pet 2:16].’ 1 Pet. ii.
For there were some, who while they promised themselves liberty, they themselves were servants of corruption [2 Pet 2:19]. Such were like the dog and the sow, biting, and rending, and vomiting, and wallowing in the mire [2 Pet 2:22/Mat 7:6]; and as bad as the synagogue of the libertines that turned against Stephen [Acts 6:9]. 2 Pet. ii. and Acts vi. 9.
And therefore the apostle was careful of the churches' liberty in Christ, when he said, ‘But take heed, lest this liberty of yours become a stumbling-block to them that are weak [1 Cor 8:9],’ &c. 1 Cor. viii.
For the apostle was so careful and tender, that he would not have his true liberty judged of another man's conscience [1 Cor 10:29], &c. as you may see more at large in Cor. x.
And the apostle said, ‘False brethren came unawares privily, to spy out their liberty, which they had in Christ Jesus, that they might bring them into bondage; to whom we gave place by subjection, no not for an hour, that the truth of the gospel might continue with you [Gal 2:4f],’ to wit, the Galatians. Gal. ii. 4.
And therefore he exhorts them to stand fast in that liberty wherewith Christ Jesus hath made them free [Gal 5:1], &c. which is the duty of all true christians now, to stand fast in that heavenly glorious liberty, which Christ the heavenly and spiritual man, the second Adam [1 Cor 15:47], makes them free in; and in this they will have salt in themselves [Mark 9:50], to discern between the true liberty and freedom and the false, and know how to use their holy and spiritual liberty and freedom in Christ Jesus, to the praise and glory of God. <188>
So, friends, the Lord God Almighty preserve you all, in the heavenly order of Christ Jesus, in his holy seed, life, power, and spirit, that all may live and walk in it, to the praise, and glory, and honour of God and Christ. Amen.
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The 3d of the 9th month, 1679.
Dear friends and brethren, in the Lord Jesus Christ! and blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, and hath chosen us in him, before the foundation of the world [Eph 1:3f].
And now, that all may walk in him [Col 2:6] in love, who hath seen the great deliverances of the Lord, and hath been acquainted with his great mercies [Psa 18:50?], that endure for ever; deliverance after deliverance, multitude of deliverances, out of great trials and temptations; and hath seen how the Lord hath brought to confusion the enemies of his truth, both within and without, from the beginning; and therefore in the Lord's spirit and power, all that live in it, that know the Lord, are encouraged to trust in him. God hath raised you up together, and quickened you who were dead in Adam [Eph 2:1, Col 2:13], and made you to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus [Eph 2:6], that you might show forth the riches of his grace and glory, and his kindness towards you through Jesus Christ [Eph 2:7]. For by one spirit we are all baptized into one body; whether we be Jews or Gentiles, bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one spirit [1 Cor 12:13]. And therefore, endeavour all to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace [Eph 4:3], and live and walk in the spirit [Gal 5:25]: and the fruits of this spirit of God, is love, joy, and meekness, &c [Gal 5:22f]. And by this one spirit, you have access to the Father of spirits [Eph 2:18/Heb 12:9]; and this one spirit, which baptizes you into one body, both male and female, knows your service [Rev 2:19?] to God: for the spirit of God divides severally to every one of you, as he wills [1 Cor 12:11] your offices and places, yet all in unity in the spirit, with which you are baptized into one body, and drink into one spirit. And the apostle Paul, who wrote from Rome to the Colossians, told them, that ‘they were complete in Christ Jesus [Col 2:10];’ and said, ‘Though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ [Col 2:5].’
And now the Lord hath gathered his people, by his power, into the same spirit that the apostles and churches were in, in the primitive times: and though they be absent in the body, or flesh, men in one room, and the women in another; yea, as far as the east is from the west [Psa 103:12], or the north is from the south, yet they are present in the spirit, rejoicing and beholding with the spirit, the spiritual order that the churches and <189> apostles were in, and the steadfastness of their precious, holy, and divine faith, which Christ (the second Adam) [1 Cor 15:47] is the author and finisher of [Heb 12:2]; and this is no separation, but they are the household of his holy, divine, and precious faith [Gal 6:10]; and live and walk in this holy faith, and spirit of God, by which they are baptized into one holy body, of which Christ Jesus, the holy and spiritual man, is the head. . . . And therefore, let no man beguile you by enticing words [Col 2:4], from this spiritual order, fellowship, and unity. And again, the apostle saith, ‘For I verily, as absent in the body, but present in the spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed [1 Cor 5:3].’ So here was a spiritual sight, and a spiritual judgment; yea, a judgment, though absent in the body, by a spiritual sight of such as walk not in the spirit, but walk out of the order of it. 1 Cor. v. 3.
And this is to the spiritual-minded, who can judge of these things, for ‘as many as are led by the spirit of God, they are the sons of God [Rom 8:14];’ and the Lord now, by his spirit, is separating his sons and daughters from the apostacy and sin, which hath separated from the spirit that the apostles were in, that they may behold one another with joy and comfort with the spirit, in the spiritual order, fellowship, and unity; though they be absent in the body and in the flesh, yet they are present in the spirit, and know one another in the spirit of God. And also, the apostle saith, ‘As many as are baptized into Christ, have put on Christ: there is neither Jew nor Greek, bond nor free; and here is neither male nor female, but ye are all one in Christ Jesus [Gal 3:27f].’ So, though these be absent in the body, one from another, Jews, Greeks, bond, or free, <190> males or females, yet they are all one in Christ Jesus, the spiritual and heavenly man [1 Cor 15:47], and with the spirit joying and beholding one another's spiritual order [Col 2:5]; so the joying, unity, and fellowship stand in the spirit of God, and not in the outward fleshly bodily presence, and carnal and natural sight. And therefore keep your spiritual order, joying in the spirit, beholding your spiritual order, and steadfastness of your faith in Christ Jesus. And in this you will be all steadfast men and steadfast women, and not tossed up and down with every windy doctrine, and the cunning crafts and slights of men [Eph 4:14], but steadfast men and steadfast women in the faith of Christ, as trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord [Isa 61:3], whose ‘fruit is unto holiness, and whose end is everlasting life [Rom 6:22].’ And such have fruit on their own trees, and water in their own wells [Prov 5:15], and are not shaken with winds, storms, nor tempests, that may rise up within or without, but are steadfast and immoveable, built upon the rock and foundation of life, Christ Jesus [Mat 7:24f]. So that as every one hath received the gift, even so minister one to another, ‘as good stewards of the manifold grace of God [1 Pet 4:10].’ And this is the grace of God wherein ye stand, that will teach you to live godly, righteously, and soberly, and brings salvation [Tit 2:11f]; so not only to talk godly, but to live godly, keeping yourselves in the love of God [Jude 1:21], and building up yourselves in the most holy faith [Jude 1:20], which you have from Christ Jesus, which makes you steadfast and immoveable, from him who is the author and finisher of it [Heb 12:2]; and with the spirit of God, in which you (spiritually) behold your substantial and steadfast spiritual order, over all outward and carnal orders, and will out-last them all; with which spirit you all see your work and service for the eternal immortal God of truth; to whom be all glory, honour, thanks, and praises in the church of Jesus Christ, throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.
From your friend and brother in the kingdom and patience of Jesus.
Worplesdom, the 22nd of the 5th month, 1680.
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Dear friends,—My love to you all in the holy peaceable truth; and my desires are, that whatsoever ye do may be done in the name of Jesus [Col 3:17], to the glory of God [1 Cor 10:31] the Father. And all be subject one to another [1 Pet 5:5] in the fear of the Lord God, so that ye may all come to dwell in the love of God, which edifies the body of Christ [Eph 4:16], who is the heavenly man. And let all strifes, and divisions, and backbitings, or whisperings, or prejudices, cease and be buried; and so whatsoever is amiss, or hath been amiss, let it be put down by the truth and spirit of God, that it may be uppermost, which is a strong bond to unite your hearts, and minds, and souls together, and to the Lord. And be kind and courteous one towards <191> another, all studying to be quiet [1 Th 1:11], and to excel one another in virtue, and purity, and holiness, and righteousness, and godliness, in all your words, and lives, and conversations; so that you may all walk as become saints and christians, every one esteeming and preferring one another above yourselves [Phil 2:3/Rom 12:10] in the truth, in meekness, and lowliness of mind, and humility; for he that inhabits eternity, dwells with an humble heart [Isa 57:15]. And therefore, do not quench the least motion of God's good spirit [1 Th 5:19/Neh 9:20] in yourselves, nor in any other; but let truth and goodness be cherished in all; and let all harshness, and bitterness, and revilings be kept down by the truth, that it may have its passage through you all, and in it you may bear one another's weakness and infirmities, and so fulfil the law of Christ [Gal 6:2/Rom 15:1]; keeping down revenge, hastiness or passion, as knowing vengeance is the Lord's, and he will repay it [Rom 12:19] on every one that does wrong, without respect of persons [Acts 10:34]. For, friends, you there should be as lights, or as a city that cannot be hid. Lights, I say, to give light in all people [Mat 5:14f]; and also to be as the salt of the earth, to be a good savour, and savoury to all people; for he or she, that is an ill savour, hath lost the salt's savour, and is good for nothing, and is trodden under the foot of men [Mat 5:13]. And therefore take heed of losing the salt's savour, either in word or conversation; for if you do, you will come under the foot of men, they will trample upon you; therefore be careful, fervent, circumspect, and faithful in the truth, and let your moderation, temperance, and sobriety appear to all men [Phil 4:5], showing forth the work of the Lord, and your honesty and justness in all your words and dealings between man and man; and that you may owe nothing to any man but love [Rom 13:8], that every one of you may be adorned with a meek and quiet spirit, which is with the Lord of great price [1 Pet 3:4]. And every one of you to be indued with wisdom from on high [Luke 24:49], which is pure and peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, and full of mercy and good works [Jas 3:17]; let the fruits of this appear among you all, and then you will all be gentle and easily entreated one of another. And keep in the unity of the spirit, which is the bond of the heavenly peace [Eph 4:3], (and then none quench it,) and all walking as becomes the glorious, joyful, peaceable gospel of Christ [Phil 1:27], which is the power of God [Rom 1:16], which was before the devil, and his power was, and is over him; in this gospel you all know life and immortality brought to light [2 Tim 1:10], that you all see your everlasting glorious fellowship, in the everlasting gospel of peace [Rev 14:6/Rom 10:15]; in this gospel, the power of God, that was before enmity was, and will remain when it is gone. And therefore all you who know this glorious gospel of peace live and walk in it, keeping your glorious, heavenly, comfortable fellowship in this glorious gospel of peace, in which enmity cannot come, as before. And in this everlasting gospel, the everlasting God, (who is over <192> all, from everlasting to everlasting,) will have the praise, glory, and thanks, who is worthy of all, for ever and evermore.
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London, the 7th of the 12th month, 1680.
Dear friends,—In the Lord's power and holy spirit, feel his presence amongst you, who hath drawn you with his spirit to his son; and you that have received him, he gives you power to become his sons and daughters [John 1:12]; and so from the son of God, the second Adam, you have power to meet, whose power is above Adam's power, and his sons and daughters in the fall.
And now, my friends, if you do want wisdom and knowledge to order you in the affairs and service of God, Christ is the treasure of your wisdom and knowledge [Col 2:3]; and so receive them from his treasury which is above. This heavenly, saving wisdom and knowledge, from whence you have your grace and truth, light and life, and the gospel, the heavenly spirit; yea, heavenly food, and heavenly bread, [John 6:33-58] and water of life [Rev 21:6] from above; and the unleavened bread, and sweet milk of the word, and water of life, to keep the feast [1 Cor 5:8/1 Pet 2:2/Rev 21:6] of the heavenly man's passover, which is not to be found in any of old Adam's sons and daughters' storehouses in the fall; but his old, mouldy, leavened, sour bread, which makes his sons and daughters' hearts to burn one against another, and clothes them with his old rags, which will not cover their nakedness, which they have stitched together, which must be all cast off, and trodden under foot by the spirit and power of Christ; which power turns you to Christ, who clothes all his sons and daughters with his heavenly fine linen [Rev 19:8], which will never wax old [Deut 8:4].
And therefore let all your lamps be trimmed [Mat 25:1-20], and candles lighted [Lev 24:2], that all of you may see your work and service for God and Christ, in this his day. So that you may have the blessings from above from him, as the holy men and women of God had in the days of old; so that there may be nothing lacking [1 Th 4:12], neither spiritual nor temporal.
And so let all things be done in peace and love, in the name and power of Jesus [Col 3:17], amongst you; and all condescend to one another [Rom 12:16] in meekness, patience, and quietness, in the fear of the Lord; being all ordered with the wisdom of God [Wis 8:1], which is from above, which is pure, peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated [Jas 3:17], that all your hearts, minds, and souls may be knit together in the love [Col 2:2] of Christ, and that you may be all of one mind and spirit [1 Pet 3:8/Phil 1:27] in him; and whatever you do, let it be done in the name and power of Jesus, to the glory of God the Father [Col 3:17/1 Cor 10:31], that created all, and takes care for all, blessed for ever. Amen.
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London, the 6th of the 4th month, 1680.
Dear friends,—I understand by a letter from a Friend, a captive amongst you, dated the 20th of the 10th month, 1681, that you have a meeting there in Algiers of about twenty. I am glad to hear you meet; and it is very well, that you have so much liberty from your patrons; and my desire is, that the Lord may preserve you all, that do meet in the name of Jesus [Mat 18:20], that in your lives, and conversations, and words, you may preach righteousness, and holiness, and godliness, and the life of truth; so that you may answer the spirit of God, both in the Turks and Moors, and the rest of the captives; that God's city may be set upon the holy hill there, which cannot be hid [Mat 5:14]; but that all may see it with the light wherewith Christ hath enlightened every man that cometh into the world [John 1:9]. And that Christ's ensign may be set up in those parts [Isa 11:10]; that with his light in all men, they may all see it, and flock to it; and Christ the ensign furnisheth all that come to him, with heavenly armour and spiritual weapons [Eph 6:11]. Now Christ enlightens every man that cometh into the world, that every one may believe in the light, and may become a child of the light [John 12:36], and have eternal life, and be saved. And so the gospel of salvation, the power of God [Rom 1:16/Eph 1:13], is to be preached to every creature under heaven [Col 1:23/Mark 16:15]. And he that believes, is saved [Mark 16:16], and hath the salvation; for Christ by the grace of God, hath tasted death for every man [Heb 2:9]. And the grace of God that brings salvation, hath appeared to all men [Tit 2:11]. And therefore all men, if they will have salvation, it must be by believing, receiving, and walking in the grace of God, which brings it. And the Lord pours out of his spirit upon all flesh [Joel 2:28]; and therefore, all men and women must come to this holy spirit of God, by which the spirit of enmity may be slain [Eph 2:16] and crucified in them; that in this holy spirit of God, they may all be in love and unity; and with the spirit of God, they may all come to know the eternal, immortal God, and serve and worship him in his holy spirit of truth, which he hath poured upon them. And in this, all will honour God, and glorify him through Jesus Christ in his new covenant of light and grace.
And so, my dear friends, be faithful and valiant for God's truth upon earth [Jer 9:3], and do not deny the name of Jesus [Rev 3:8], in whom you have salvation; whose name is above every name under the whole heaven [Acts 4:12/Phil 2:9]; that ye may all be with his light built upon him your rock [Mat 7:24f] and foundation that stands sure [2 Tim 2:19]. And now, my dear friends, though you remain as captives, yet if ye be Christ's and God's freemen [1 Cor 7:22], who leads the devil into captivity, that led you captive into his prison of death, darkness, and corruption: if Christ, I say, has led you out of that prison and captivity, <194> into the glorious liberty of the sons of God [Rom 8:17], stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made you free; and be not entangled with any yoke of bondage [Eph 5:1], to bring you out of that heavenly, spiritual liberty. For in this you are free, notwithstanding the prisons and captivity of men; and they are but small matters to it. And therefore trust in the arm [Isa 51:5] of the Lord's power, who can lay the mountains low, and remove the hills out of their places, and make his lambs to skip over all [cf Psa 114:4]. And therefore mind the Lord and his power, that is over all that, that makes you to suffer. Now your sorrows and afflictions may bring many to call upon the name of the Lord, when he has brought you low; for God is merciful and gracious to the righteous, and his mercies endure for ever. And though hunger, and thirst, and cold, many times you are in, and many distresses, yet the Lord is able to support you. And now, that you may mind the Lord in your poverty, and prize his mercies; and consider how he brought them down that did not enough prize his mercies, and liberty, and plenty. And ye may read the 107th Psalm throughout; there ye may see how the Lord brought down such as contemned his counsel, and rebelled against his words [Psa 107:11]. Well, what can you tell but that this may be the day of the Lord with you, in your captivity, to bring down your hearts [Psa 107:12] and spirits, that with the spirit of the Lord you may turn to him, who is a God at hand; and that you may call upon the Lord in truth [Psa 145:18] and righteousness, that all your sufferings, afflictions, and captivity may be sanctified to you. So that you may say, ‘all things shall work together for good, to them that love God [Rom 8:28].’ And so with Job you may bless God, ‘who giveth and taketh away [Job 1:21],’ and that you may glorify God in whatsoever condition you may be; that no trouble may move you; and that you may rejoice in afflictions, persecutions, and tribulations [Mat 5:11f] in the Lord, through his spirit that doth uphold you [Psa 51:12]. And as you do walk in the light [1 Jn 1:7], grace, spirit, and gospel, you may turn others to it. That you may have unity with them in it; and that they may come out of the spiritual prison of death, darkness, and corruption, and captivity, into the liberty of the sons of God in Christ Jesus. Amen.
So with my love to you all in the holy seed Christ Jesus, that reigns over all from everlasting to everlasting. The Lord preserve you all tender vines in him. Amen.
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London, the 17th of the 1st month, 1682.
Dear friends,—The Lord by his mighty hand and power having brought you to that place, and now you are settled there, my desire is, that your lives and conversations may preach righteousness and <195> holiness; for without holiness none shall see God [Heb 12:14]. And going into unholiness, that is the cause that none see God; and the cause why there is not peace among a nation or people is, they do not live and walk in righteousness; but walk and follow the unrighteous spirit, which is out of the truth [John 8:44]. And again, Christ says, ‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God [Mat 5:8].’ For it is the defiled and impure hearts that do not see God. And therefore, keep in the pure spirit of God, that does mortify all impurity and unholiness [Col 3:5], which blind people from the sight of the pure God.
And now, my dear friends, the eyes of other nations will be upon you; and now you profess truth beyond them all; but if you do not exceed them in truth, in righteousness [Mat 5:20?], in holiness, justice and equity, and in the wisdom of God, that is pure, peaceable [Jas 3:17], &c. by which you may answer the good in your government, and all governments about you likewise, (which is my desire that you may, that they may not see any nakedness among you,) if you do not, you will bring both the judgment of God upon you, and the judgment of truth [Zech 8:16] that you and we profess.
For you know how that Friends in England, and other places, have admonished the governors and rulers to do that which is just and right; and therefore now ye are come into place, have a care that you do that which is just and right, lest you come under the same reproof by others.
And therefore, have an eye to the Lord in all your actions. For David saith, (2 Sam. xxiii. 3.) ‘The God of Israel said, the rock of Israel spake to me, he that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God: and he shall be as the light of the morning (that doth so) when the sun riseth, even as a morning without clouds; as the tender grass springing out of the earth by clear shining after rain [2 Sam 23:3f].’ Here you may see, it must not be unjust men, and men that do not fear God, that must be rulers, for they do not receive his wisdom to rule withal; and such will be as clouds without water [Jude 1:12], (as in Jude,) and then they are not like to refresh the tender grass, but hurt it.
And Solomon saith, ‘As the roaring lion, and the raging bear, so is a wicked ruler over the poor people [Prov 28:15].’ And therefore with the spirit of God keep down the wicked spirit in you, and then you will keep down the roaring lion and the raging bear, with the spirit of meekness, and patience, and wisdom, and understanding. Prov. xxviii. 15.
And the apostle says, ‘Rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil [Rom 13:3].’ Therefore both rulers and ruled must be out of the evil works. And the rulers cannot be a terror to evil works, if they live in them themselves. Therefore all ought to live in the power of God, which brings them out of the evil to do that which is good; and then <196> they will be an honour to God, and a praise one to another, both ruler and ruled.
Now the Lord said unto Moses, ‘Judges and officers shalt thou make in all thy gates, (so they were not to be made in corners,) which the Lord giveth thee in all the tribes; and they shall judge the people with just judgment. (Mark! just judgment.) Thou shalt not wrest judgment, thou shalt not respect persons; thou shalt take no gift. For the gift blindeth the eyes of the wise, and perverteth the words of the righteous [Deut 16:18f]. Thou shalt not wrest the judgment of the poor in any case. Keep thee far from a false matter. The innocent and righteous slay thou not; for I will not justify the wicked [Exo 23:6f]. That which is altogether just, shalt thou follow, that thou mayst live and inherit the land which the Lord thy God hath given thee [Deut 16:20]’ Now a people following and doing that which is not just, is the cause they do not live and inherit the land. Deut. xvi. 18, 19, 20.Exod. xxiii. 6. And therefore do that which is just, that you may inherit Christ and your spiritual land. ‘Thou shalt not oppress a stranger, seeing you were strangers; nor vex the widows and fatherless [Exo 22:21f].’ And the Lord saith, ‘You shall be holy men unto me [Exo 22:31].’ Again, the Lord says, ‘Thou shalt not raise a false report, &c. Put not thy hand with the wicked to an unrighteous witness. Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil; neither shalt thou speak in a cause, to decline after many, to wrest judgment [Exo 23:1f].’ Exod. xxiii. 1, 2.
Again, the Lord saith, ‘Ye shall not do unrighteousness in judgment; thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honour the person of the mighty. But in righteousness thou shalt judge thy neighbour [Lev 19:15].’ Levit. xix. 15. And Deut. i. 16, 17. and Josh. vii. 24. ‘I charged your judges,’ (says Moses,) ‘saying, Hear the causes between your brethren, judge righteously between every man and his brother, and the stranger that is with him [Deut 1:16].’ So let all the strangers that are with you have righteous judgment, as well as those among yourselves. And again he saith, ‘Ye shall not respect persons in judgment; but ye shall hear the small as well as the great. You shall not be afraid of the face of man; for the judgment is God's [Deut 1:17].’ So long as ye judge righteously.
And therefore, now, friends, my desire is, that you all may be kept in the power and spirit of God and Christ in humility, and in that you will have a sense of all things, that whatever you act, it may be done in the spirit and power of Jesus Christ, to the praise of God the Father, who is over all, from everlasting to everlasting, who beholds and sees all your words and actions; that you may behold and see with his spirit, his and his son's divine majesty among you. Amen.
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Read this in your assembly, and in your meetings.
Dear friends, who suffer for your testimony, and to all the rest in your county, I am glad to hear of your faithfulness, and of your standing for the church which Christ is the head of, which is in God, and are become his living members; and therefore wheresoever ye are in prison, or out of prison, where two or three are gathered in his name, there is a church, and Christ the living head in the midst of them [Mat 18:20]; a prophet, to open to his church the things of his kingdom; and a bishop, to oversee his living members, that they be preserved in his light, grace, truth, spirit, and gospel; and he is a shepherd to feed them with heavenly food, who gives life eternal to his sheep [John 10:28], which he hath purchased with his own blood [Acts 20:28]; and a priest who has offered up himself a sacrifice for the sins of the whole world [Heb 7:27], who cleanses, and washes, and purifies his church, his people [Ezek 37:23/Tit 2:14]; a high priest, made higher than the heavens [Heb 7:26]. Heb. vii. And no priest made below the heavens will become Christ's church; and therefore feel and see Christ exercising his prophetical, priestly, and kingly offices, and his ruling in your hearts. And all that will know the right way, or highway, or path to the church in God [1-2 Th 1:1], (2 Thess. i.) must walk in the light [1 Jn 1:7], which is the life in Christ [John 1:4], and that will guide them to Christ, the way to God [John 14:6], the head of the church [Col 1:18], the rock and foundation of God that stands sure [2 Tim 2:19].
And now, dear friends, my desires are, that you may all live in the love of God, and in the unity of his spirit, which is the bond of peace [Eph 4:3], in which you will be all kind and courteous one to another; and so the God of all peace and power support you, and strengthen you, and uphold you, throughout all your trials and sufferings, that he may be glorified in you all, who is over all, from everlasting to everlasting, blessed for ever; from whom ye have blessing and life.
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London, the 20th of the 12th month, 1681.
Grace, mercy, and peace be multiplied among you [1 Pet 1:2, Jude 1:2] all from God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the fountain of all: and God, who hath called you by his grace [Gal 1:15], and gathered you to be a people by his power and spirit, to his son Christ Jesus, your holy, heavenly, spiritual head, life, rock, and foundation. Now that you may all walk in Christ Jesus [Col 2:6], and abide in him your vine, and in him you will all bring forth heavenly fruit [John 15:4f] to the praise and glory of God.
Christ saith, ‘In me ye have peace, in the world ye have trouble [John 16:33];’ <198> and therefore keep out of the spirit of the world [1 Cor 2:12]; let not the spirit of the world come into you; for if ye do, ye go into trouble both inwardly and outwardly: but if ye keep in Christ, who is not of the world [John 17:14], you keep in your heavenly place and region: for, ‘He that hath the son of God, hath life [1 Jn 5:12];’ and therefore keep in the life in Christ; and he that hath not the son of God, is in old Adam, in death, without life [1 Jn 5:12].
And, ‘without me (says Christ) ye can do nothing [John 15:5] ;’ without his grace, his light, his truth, his gospel, his power, his spirit, his faith, ye can do nothing; and, ‘if Christ be not in you, ye are reprobates [2 Cor 13:5];’ and if he be in you, and you in him [John 15:5], you are in the election, and in the seed, in which all nations are blessed [Gen 22:18].
And therefore, my friends and brethren, both males and females, keep and walk in the seed, in which all nations are blessed, which bruises the head of the serpent [Gen 3:15], and destroys the devil and his works [Heb 2:14/1 Jn 3:8], which brought misery and the curse upon all nations. So that in this holy seed, you all may be the children of the kingdom of God [Mat 13:38] that stands in righteousness, and power, and joy in the holy ghost [Rom 14:17/1 Cor 4:20]: I say, in the righteousness of Christ, which was before unrighteousness was; and in the power of God, which was before the power of satan and dragon [Acts 26:18/Rev 13:2,4] were; and in the peace of God, that passes all the understanding [Phil 4:7] of the world, and was before the god of the world [2 Cor 4:4] was; and in the holy ghost, which was before the unclean ghost got into man and woman.
And so that you may all come to walk in the new covenant of light [Isa 42:6], which was before the prince of darkness [Eph 6:12] was, and life, that is over death, and was before death was. Here in this you will have your heavenly religion to walk in, which will keep you out of all the world's unruly ways and actions, and ungracious words and languages, that all your words be seasoned with the grace of God, that hath brought you salvation [Col 4:6/Tit 2:11], that you may edify the hearers [Eph 4:29], and your conversation may be in heaven [Phil 3:20].
And keep in the cross of Christ, the power of God [1 Cor 1:18], that keeps you crucified to the world; that is, dead to the world, and the world dead and crucified to you [Gal 6:14]: for if you do not keep in this power of God, which was before the world and its god was, to keep you crucified to the world, but let in the spirit of the world, you let in its god, which will crucify the good in you, and you will come to crucify to yourselves the son of God afresh, and put him to open shame [Heb 6:6]. Therefore keep that crucified with the power of God, the cross of Christ, which did and would crucify the just [Jas 5:6]; and then you will keep alive in the power of God, and live in Christ Jesus, and he is alive in you, and you in him.
And now, all friends and brethren, let your meekness, your temperance, and your gentleness and sobriety, and tenderness and moderation <199> appear to all men [Phil 4:5], ‘that your light may so shine, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven [Mat 5:16].’
And ye being the salt of the earth, you will make all savoury; therefore take heed of losing your salt, lest you be trodden under the feet of men [Mat 5:13].
And keep out of the restless, discontented, disquieted spirit of the world about the government: for you know it has been always our way to seek the good of all, and to live peaceably under the government, and to seek their eternal good, peace, and happiness in the Lord Jesus Christ, and to lay our innocent sufferings before them, who have suffered as lambs and sheep, and made no resistance [Mat 5:39, Jas 5:6], but have ‘prayed for them that persecuted us, and despitefully used us, and hated us [Mat 5:44],’ according to the command of Christ.
‘For ye were as sheep gone astray, but are now returned unto the shepherd and bishop of your souls [1 Pet 2:25]: for hitherto ye are called; because Christ hath suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps, who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: who when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously [1 Pet 2:21-23]. And he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from speaking evil, and his lips that he speak no guile [1 Pet 3:10].’ 2 Pet. ii.
The 21st of the 9th month, 1681.