Friends,—This is the word of the Lord unto you all. All live in the seed, in which all nations are blest [Gen 22:18]; in which seed you are blessed every way, in your rising up and lying down [Deut 6:7?]; in your goings forth and comings in [Psa 121:8?]. And you have the blessings from above, and the blessings from beneath [Gen 49:25], in this holy seed; yea, the blessings of him that dwelt in the bush, that made the very ground holy, that Moses trod upon [Exo 3:2-5], who brings you out of the world, which is as a bushy, thorny wilderness, that ye might dwell in this blessed seed, in which all nations are blest; which bruises the serpent's head [Gen 3:15], who was the first questioner, and tempter, and liar, and deceiver; and man and woman by hearkening or giving ear to this questioner, liar, and tempter, the serpent, they fell [Gen 3:1-6] from their habitation in the image of God [Gen 1:27], and so went out of their habitation and service, that God had placed them in, and commanded them to do.
But, the seed of the woman is come, that bruises the serpent's head, in which seed Christ, all nations are blest.
And all you who live and walk in this seed, you live in him that bruises the serpent's head, that liar, tempter, and questioner; yea, and every one by this seed Christ, may be renewed up into the image of God [Col 3:10], as Adam and Eve were in, in the beginning. Then you are all in your habitations of life and truth, and the image of God; and in it you know your services, that the Lord God Almighty commands you. And you living in this holy seed, you live over all vain unruly talkers [Tit 1:10], and vain disputers, men of corrupt minds [1 Tim 6:5], which have the form of godliness, but deny the power thereof [2 Tim 3:5]. All you that live in the seed that bruises the serpent's head, turn away from such [2 Tim 3:5], for their work is to destroy; whose words eat as a canker [2 Tim 2:17]; who do profess truth in words, and may have the form of godliness, but in their works deny the power thereof, who are to every good work or service reprobated [Tit 1:16].
And these are as the raging waves of the sea [Jude 1:13] and tempests, they are known by their tempestuous spirits, and its raging, like a raging of the sea, casting up mire and dirt [Isa 57:20]; a murdering spirit, like Cain [1 Jn 3:12]; a gainsaying spirit, like Corah [Jude 1:11]; and erred from the true spirit, like Balaam [Jude 1:11/Isa 29:24]. No <244> rain in their clouds, no water in their wells, nor fruit on their trees; twice dead [Jude 1:12/2 Pet 2:17]; that is once dead, and made alive, and dead again; so they cannot grow in the truth, light, nor the spirit of God, nor his gospel; but such corrupt the earth [Rev 19:2], and corrupt people's minds [2 Cor 11:3]; are sowers of discord, strife, and contention [Prov 6:14/ Hab 1:3]; co-workers with the serpent to beguile the unstable minds [2 Pet 2:14]; all such the seed of God reigns over. . . .
And therefore beware of this serpentine spirit, that you may not be deceived, as Eve was; and beware of dogs that will bite and devour you; and beware of evil workers [Phil 3:2], though they have never such fair words to deceive the hearts of the simple [Rom 16:18]. Beware of false prophets, which are inwardly ravened from the spirit of God, and are become wolves, though they have got the sheep's clothing, and the words of truth, of Christ and his apostles, whose fruits are as thorns and thistles [Mat 7:15f]. But the seed Christ, that discovers all these things, in him live, grow up, and walk and be established.
And beware of the leaven of the Pharisees [Mat 16:6], who make an outward profession of the holy men's words, but are persecutors of the seed, Christ Jesus, in whom all nations are blest, and despisers of his peaceable government; of the increase of which there is no end [Isa 9:7[. And into this blessed seed, the serpent cannot come, nor any of his instruments nor his angels, which are evil spirits. And all the doters about questions and strife of words [1 Tim 6:4], and the vain janglers [1 Tim 1:6], and vain perverse disputers [1 Tim 6:5] and contenders, and the sowers of strife and dissention, makers of debate and strife: all these are out of the blessed peaceable seed; although they may profess the truth of all the new and old testament in words, without the power of God, (that they are turned away from, and therefore they are to be turned away from,) the trumpet of the Lord, his spirit and power is blown against them [Judg 6:34?], though they have never such high swelling words of vanity [2 Pet 2:18], and have never so many flattering fair words and good speeches [Rom 16:18], and trimmed and decked with the sheep's clothing, yet they are in the wolf's nature, and whored from the lamb and his nature, and so from the seed Christ, in whom all the children of the kingdom [Mat 13:38] and the elect are to walk, that are of his heavenly and spiritual generation, and grow up in him as trees of righteousness [Isa 61:3], whose fruits are unto holiness [Rom 6:22], and whose end will be everlasting life. And the end of that spirit and its fruits, before mentioned, that <245> are out of Christ and his peaceable truth, will be destruction in the lake of fire [Rev 20:14]. And that is the word of the Lord to you all; therefore be warned what you join to, and what you lay hands on suddenly [1 Tim 5:22].
For I remember, before we were called Quakers, as I was sitting in a house in Nottinghamshire, (about the year 1648,) the word of the Lord came to me and said, ‘Some of those that should come to be convinced with the light and spirit of God, and should come so far as Cain to hear God's voice [Gen 4:8], and as far as Balaam to hear God's voice [Num 22 - 24], and to have some openings, and to come so far as Corah, Dathan, and Abiram [Num 16], these should be the deceivers, and the troublers of the church of Christ, and seek to destroy the faithful, and to betray them: who formerly had some experience to talk of, but did not live in the truth.’ Which I and many others have seen come to pass and fulfilled.
For Christ said to his disciples, that the false prophets and the antichrists, (which were inwardly the ravened wolves, which the apostles and believers should beware of,) should come to them, to try them [Mat 24:24], they had the sheep's clothing, and outward profession of christianity, but were inwardly ravening wolves to devour them [Mat 7:15]. Now, these were inwardly ravening from something. And the apostle John speaks of such as went out from us. It seems, they were once among them, ‘but,’ (saith he,) ‘they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out from the true church, that they might be manifest that they were not of it [1 Jn 2:19].’ And these were the antichrists and false prophets, that Christ said should come, which John and the apostles saw were come, and exhorted the church to beware of, and to keep to the unction which they had from the Holy One [1 Jn 2:20]. And this unction and anointing, as it abides within the saints, the true church, and they in it, it will teach them all things, and is truth [1 Jn 2:27]; and by it they shall continue in the son and the Father, and so in the holy seed, rock, and foundation, that cannot be shaken [Luke 6:48].
And the apostle said, ‘there was to be a falling away first, before the man of sin was revealed; the son of perdition, who opposeth and exalteth himself [2 Th 2:3f’,’ &c. And when the apostle saw the mystery of iniquity already working [2 Th 2:7]; ‘and his coming is after the working of satan, with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish, because they receive not the love of the truth, that they might be saved [2 Th 9:10].’ And such go into strong delusions, that they should believe a lie, and not the truth [2 Th 9:11f]. And here you may see there is a falling away, before the son of perdition, or Judas, be revealed [John 17:12]; and they that fall away, receive not the love of the truth, that they might be saved, but believe lies, that they shall be damned. And the Lord will consume him with the spirit of his mouth, and will destroy him with the brightness of his <246> coming, the wicked one [2 Th 2:8], and son of perdition, that is against the righteous, and is the opposer and betrayer of them.
Therefore all the church of Christ are to stand steadfast and be established in him, in every good word and work [2 Th 2:17], who are from the beginning chosen for salvation through Jesus Christ, through the sanctification of the spirit, and the belief of the truth [2 Th 2:13], and are called by the gospel, the power of God, to the obtaining of the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ [2 Th 2:14], in whom the glorious rest and peace is.
And you may see how the church of Christ was troubled by such as went out from them, and fell away from truth, and inwardly ravened. Some went like unto the swine into the mire; and some like the dogs to the vomit [2 Pet 2:22]; and some like wolves that inwardly ravened, and yet kept the sheep's clothing [Mat 7:15]. Some went into the nature of Cain, sacrificers, and yet were destroyers of the righteous [Jude 1:11/Gen 4:3-8]; and some went in the nature (or spirit) of Jannes and Jambres, that withstood Moses [2 Tim 3:8]; and others in the nature of Judas to betray [Mat 10:4, etc]; and others in the nature of Corah, Dathan and Abiram, to gainsay [Jude 1:11] and resist the truth [2 Tim 3:8]; and others in the nature of Jezabel [1 Ki 18, 19, 21; 2 Ki 9]. . . .
And all dwell in love, then you dwell in God, who is love [1 Jn 4:16]; let that be all your habitations, which love edifies the body of Christ [Eph 4:16,12], and builds you up in him, and all strive to excel one another in virtue [1 Cor 14:12?], in patience, courteousness, kindness, tenderness, meekness, and humility, in temperance, modesty, and chastity; and whatsoever things are decent and comely, and of good report, honest, and lovely, those follow [Phil 4:8]: for these are the good fruits of the spirit [Gal 5:22] of God, and his heavenly seed; which fruits are acceptable to God, and will make you all lovely and comely to him, and unto one another in his heavenly seed; in which (as I said before) you are blessed, and all nations are blessed [Gen 22:18] ; which seed (Christ) is your sanctuary, who destroys the devil the destroyer, and so is over him, and was before he was, in whom the true believers live, and have peace, who clothes them with salvation, and with his righteousness [Isa 61:10], the sanctified one's fine linen [Rev 19:8].
So all walk worthy of the mercies of God and his blessings from above, and from below [Gen 49:25], to the glory and praise of God.
And they that dwell not in love and charity, are like the sounding brass, and tinkling cymbals [1 Cor 13:1]; as you may read, 1 Cor. xiii. 1.8.
This you may read amongst the children of the light, and of the day [1 Th 5:5].
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Dolston, the 13th of the 10th month, 1683.
Now, dear friends, the Lord having drawn you by his spirit to his son Christ Jesus, in whose name ye come to be gathered [Mat 18:20], in whose name ye have salvation, and not in any other name under the whole heaven: [Acts 4:12] so that now you come to know Christ your saviour, who destroys the destroyer, the devil and his works [Heb 2:14/1 Jn 3:8]; and it is he, that brings forth everlasting righteousness, that makes an end of sin, and finishes transgression [Dan 9:24]. So that now, you may live and walk in the everlasting righteousness of Christ Jesus, who is your priest that is made higher than the heaven [Heb 7:26], Heb. vii. and who is your prophet, that God has raised up, and not man, whom ye must hear in all things [Acts 3:22], Acts iii. 22. and vii. 37. who were as lost sheep gone astray; but are now returned to the chief priest and bishop of your souls [1 Pet 2:25]; namely, Christ Jesus. 1 Pet. ii. 25. And Christ saith, he is the true shepherd, that hath laid down his life for his sheep [John 10:15]; and his sheep know his voice and follow him [John 10:4]: who is the holy and just one [Acts 3:14], and never guile was found in his mouth [1 Pet 2:22]. And Christ says, no man comes to the Father but by me [John 14:6]. So he is the new and living way [Heb 10:20]; and God has given him for a leader and counsellor [Isa 9:6], to counsel his people; who is the holy living rock and foundation, which is above all the rocks and foundations below: for he the rock and foundation is from above, whom all the children of the light, that believe in his light [John 12:36], which is the life in him, and are grafted into him [Rom 11:17], do build upon. And so, the Lord God Almighty with his eternal power support you all, in all your afflictions and sufferings, trials and temptations, that you may be built and settled upon this rock [Mat 7:24] and foundation, that cannot be shaken [Heb 12:27f]. . . .
And, that ye may walk righteously, justly, and holily in all your words, dealings, and doings; that his name you do profess now, may be honoured, and you may reach, by your righteous godly lives and conversations, the good in all your patrons, and in all others; so that you may show forth the fruits of the spirit [Gal 5:22f], and the fruits of christianity; and that you are the possessors of Christ Jesus your mediator [1 Tim 2:5], who has made peace <248> betwixt you and your God. And as you have received Christ, so walk in him [Col 2:6], and know him to rule in your hearts by faith [Eph 3:17]. For herein (as Christ said) is my Father glorified; that you bring forth much heavenly fruit [John 15:8], and that your spiritual and heavenly light may shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven [Mat 5:16].
And now, friends, we understand, that some that have come lately among you, have been under great sufferings and abuses by their patrons, because they cannot honour them with that honour as other slaves do, or as they have done before. Now, if you wait in patience upon the Lord [Psa 37:7] in his truth, (for you are to buy the truth, and not to sell it [Prov 23:23]; and truth is that that is stronger than all [1 Esd 4:41] ,) the Lord in his time, (though he may try you,) can mollify that nature in them there, as he hath done in other places, where he hath tried his people with such things. And when they have seen, it is for conscience' sake towards God, and it is from the principle of truth and the spirit; in which spirit and truth they worship [John 4:24] the Most High God [Gen 14:18-20, etc], who is an eternal, incomprehensible spirit, who is God in heaven and God in the earth, and dwells by his spirit in his humble people, they have been overcome.
And now, friends, consider, they are blessed that suffer for Christ's sake [Mat 5:10-12]; and it is not only given you to believe, but to suffer for his name [Phil 1:29]. ‘And they that will live godly in Christ Jesus must suffer persecution [2 Tim 3:12].’ But the apostle says of the true christians, ‘Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distresses, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? [Rom 8:35] As it is written, for thy sake are we killed all the day long: we are counted as sheep for the slaughter [Rom 8:36/Psa 44:22]; in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord [Rom 8:37-39].’ Rom. viii. 36. 39.Psalm xliv. 22.
Now, dear Friends, you may see here was a godly sincerity [2 Cor 1:12], fervency, steadfastness, and resolution in the true christians, which ought to be in all such now, without boasting. And the apostle says, ‘Rejoice, forasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings, that when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy: for if ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye: for the spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified [1 Pet 4:13f] . 1 Pet. iv. 13, 14, 15.
And so, dear friends, be wise, that you may give no just occasion [1 Tim 5:14]: and keep low in the humility; for such learn of Christ, and the meek follow him [Mat 11:29]. And so my desire is, that you may all be preserved to the <249> glory of God, and that you may be valiant for the truth upon the earth [Jer 9:3], and spread it abroad, that all may come to the spirit of God, that God poureth upon all flesh [Joel 2:28], and to serve and worship him. And so that all flesh may see the glory of God [Isa 40:5], by his spirit; and that all might come to the light, which is the life in Christ [John 1:4] the word, by whom all things were made and created [John 1:3], with which light he enlighteneth every man that comes into the world [John 1:9], to believe in, and to love it, and to try their works, ‘whether they be wrought in God, yea or nay [1 Jn 4:1/John 3:21].’ 1 John iii. 19, 20, 21.
And that all might come to the grace of God, which hath appeared to all men, and brings salvation, which will teach to live godly, righteously, and soberly, and deny unrighteousness [Tit 2:11f]. This is the true christian's teacher, which brings salvation, and teacheth to deny that which would lead them into destruction, into ungodly, ungracious ways and words; but this grace teacheth the saints to walk in gracious ways, and their words come to be seasoned with grace [Col 4:6], which teaches them, and brings their salvation. So that which is the true christian's teacher, brings their salvation. . . .
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Let us hear as often as you can how things are with you.
London, the 4th of the 3d month, 1684.
Dear friends and brethren in the Lord Jesus Christ, who reigns over all, and has all power in heaven and earth given unto him [Mat 28:18], by whose eternal power our meetings this year have been preserved unto his great glory and honour; and his living refreshing presence has livingly been amongst us [Mat 18:20], for which his people do give him the honour, glory, thanks, and praise, who is Lord over all, and worthy of all, blessed for ever and ever. And therefore we desire and entreat all our friends and brethren every where, who are of the seed of the promise [Gal 3:29], and the children of the kingdom of God [Mat 13:38], and of the new covenant of light and life [Isa 42:6/Mal 2:5], to walk in the same, and worthy of the same, to the glory of God. <250> And you that do profess the primitive, pure, and undefiled religion [Jas 1:27], which is above all the religions in the world, show it forth in life and practice.
And you that profess the worship of God in the spirit and truth [John 4:24], which Christ hath set up, which is above the Jews' worship, and all the worships that the men of the world have set up, be steadfast in the same; for all worships out of God's spirit and his truth, are idolatry.
And now, dear friends and brethren, who profess and possess that which is above all religions, ways, and worships in the world; our desire is, that you may always outstrip and exceed the world in virtue, in purity, in chastity, in godliness, and in holiness, and in modesty, civility, and in righteousness, and in love, with that you may overcome the evil, and with the good overcome the bad [Rom 12:21]: so that your moderation and sober life may appear unto all men [Phil 4:5], and answer that of God in all [Rom 1:19/Col 4:6], that so the fruits of the spirit of God may show themselves forth in meekness, and kindness, and humility [Gal 5:22], from the holy understanding, and the pure heavenly wisdom [Jas 3:17], and the word of life and patience [1 Jn 1:1/Rev 3:10], by which all things were made [John 1:3], in that you will be able to bear all things and endure all things [1 Cor 13:7] through him that strengthens you. And whatsoever things are lovely, decent, or comely, and honest, and of a good report [Phil 4:8], that answers the truth in all, that mind and practice, that God Almighty may be glorified through you [Mat 5:16] in the seed, in which all nations are blest [Gen 22:18-, which bruiseth the head of the serpent [Gen 3:15], that brought the curse; in which seed no enmity nor strife can come [Eph 2:15f]; in which seed, Christ Jesus, your heavenly unity and fellowship is preserved.
And whatsoever storms or tempests should arise in the world, keep in the seed Christ Jesus, your sanctuary, who was before the world was, who is your saviour, that destroys the destroyer, in whom you have all life, peace, rest, safety, and salvation; in him, who is the Amen [Rev 3:14], the first and last [Rev 22:13], in him farewell, and from him the blessings of the Lord rest upon you.
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Dear friends in the peaceable truth,—The glory of God all mind, in all your lives and conversations, and that the heavenly fruits of the holy spirit [Gal 5:22f] of God you may all bring forth to his praise, living in righteousness, godliness, and meekness, lowliness, and humility, learning of Christ Jesus your saviour, who is meek [Mat 11:29]. For the humble God doth teach [Psa 25:9], and they grow up in his grace and favour. And therefore all take heed of going back again into the world's ways, spirit, and words but keep to the holy spirit of God, that doth lead you in the narrow way, that is to life eternal [Mat 7:14]. And in the Lord's light, power, and spirit meet together, and keep your meetings in the name of Jesus Christ [Mat 18:20], <251> who hath all power in heaven and earth given to him [Mat 28:18], that you may feel his living and divine presence among you, and in his pure, gentle, and heavenly love and wisdom [Jas 3:17], you may be valiant for the name of Jesus, and his truth upon the earth [Jer 9:3], and not to be ashamed of Christ [Luke 9:26] your teacher and prophet, that God hath raised up in his new covenant and testament, whom you are to hear [Acts 3:22]. Neither be ashamed of Christ your shepherd, who hath laid down his life for his sheep [John 10:15], whose voice you are to hear [John 10:27]; who doth feed his sheep, and give them life eternal, and none is able to pluck his sheep out of his hand [John 10:28], his power. Neither be ashamed of your high priest, who hath offered up himself for you [Heb 7:27], and doth sanctify you, who is a priest made higher than the heavens [Heb 7:26]. Neither be you ashamed of your bishop, and the chief shepherd of your souls, to whom now ye are returned [1 Pet 2:25] by his grace and truth, who doth oversee you with his heavenly eye, that you do not go astray from God. So in him let your faith stand, who is the author and finisher of it [Heb 12:2]. So with my love to you all in the Lord Jesus Christ, who is your sanctuary, in whom you all have life, peace, rest, and salvation, who is the Amen.
‘Greet ye one another with a kiss of charity. Peace be with you all that are in Christ Jesus [1 Pet 5:14].’ Amen. This charity keeps all God's people in the heavenly love and unity.
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Amsterdam, the 14th of the 4th month, 1683.
Dear friends and brethren, who are elect and chosen in Christ Jesus before the foundation of the world [Eph 1:4]; in Christ you have peace, and in the world you have trouble. But ‘be of good cheer, Christ hath overcome the world [John 16:33],’ that lieth in wickedness [1 Jn 5:19], and all the persecutors in it; and in him you all overcome the devil and his works [Heb 2:14/1 Jn 3:8], and ‘without him you can do nothing [John 15:5];’ but through Christ, and his power and strength, you will be able to do all things according to the will of God. And though for a time ye may suffer for the name of Jesus [Acts 5:41], and for his truth, and be cast into prison, and suffer the spoiling of your goods [Heb 10:34]; the eternal God knows, and his son Christ Jesus, it is for him alone, and his truth's sake, we suffer, and not for any evil doing, or doing wrong to any man. And so the Lord hath given us ‘not only to believe, but also to suffer for his name and truth's sake [Phil 1:29];’ and so it is the gift of God, with his eternal spirit and power, that doth uphold us [Heb 1:3] in all our sufferings, which hath made so many to finish their testimony for the truth in jails and prisons; and not to love their lives to the death, but love God and Christ Jesus above their lives, and all outward things; as practice and experience have declared it.
And now, dear friends, be faithful in Christ Jesus to the end, that you may all have the crown of life [Rev 2:10], and that peace from Christ Jesus, which the world, and all the apostate spirits from the truth, cannot take away from you; I say, neither the world, with their outward persecutions and spoiling of goods, nor the apostate spirits from the peaceable truth, with all their lies and defamations, and their filthy, scandalous books, and evil tongues, though they be like the raging waves of the sea [Jude 1:13], casting up mire and dirt [Isa 57:20], whose folly is manifest to all that hear and see them [2 Tim 3:9]; yet all this cannot disturb the peace of the righteous. And all the restless, unquiet, unruly murmurers and complainers [Jude 1:16], that are filled with false jealousies, and are the wandering stars [Jude 1:13], who are wandered from the witness of the Lord in their own hearts [1 Jn 5:9f]; such their judgments do not linger, nor their damnation doth not slumber [2 Pet 2:3], though they may be suffered for a time to try God's people.
And now, friends, you know envious Cain was a sacrificer as well as Abel, but out of the faith and righteousness, who murdered his brother Abel [Gen 4:3-8], he may be said to have been a type of Judas, who was a partaker of the ministry, yet betrayed his master [Mat 10:4, etc]. And you read that Ishmael and Esau were circumcised [Gen 17:23-6] as well as Isaac [Gen 21:4]and Jacob; but Esau hated Jacob, and would have slain him [Gen 27:41]; and Ishmael scoffed at Isaac [Gen 21:9], and so he that is born of the flesh persecuteth him that is born of the spirit [Gal 4:29]; and that birth is not heir with the seed of the promise [Gal 3:29/4:30], though it may come into the outward form, and outward profession.
And likewise you read of Corah, Dathan, and Abiram, and their company, and their rebelling against the Lord, and his servants, Moses and Aaron [Num 16], and of their false liberty; but what became of them, in Numb. xvi. you may see.
And likewise how that the Jews (after the Lord brought them out of Egypt) made themselves a calf of their jewels and ear-rings [Exo 32], as in Exod. xxxii.Psalm cvi. 19. The Jews made a calf in Horeb, and worshipped the golden image [Psa 106:19], and forgot God their saviour, who had done great things in Egypt, and wondrous things in the land of Ham [Psa 106:21f] and murmured in their tents, and hearkened not to the voice of the Lord. And therefore God overthrew them in the wilderness, [Psa 106:25f] and they came not into the promised land.
And you read how the Jews run into false liberty in the days of Balaam, and joined with Baal-Peor, and how the anger of the Lord was kindled against them, and what a destruction he brought upon them, who had turned against the Lord and his faithful people [Num 25:3-5]; as in Numb. xxv.
And likewise how often the Jews murmured against Moses and Aaron, and what a destruction came upon them in the wilderness, that none of that old stock the Lord brought out of Egypt that dishonoured him; <253> though they had seen his glory, none entered into the land save Caleb and Joshua, but they perished in the wilderness for their murmuring and rebelling [Num 14:26-35]; and therefore take heed of murmuring and rebelling against the Lord and his spirit, but in all things learn to be content.
And also you read in Judges, how often the Jews forsook the Lord, and what judgments came upon them [Judg 6:12-16, 10:6-9]; and also how the Jews turned against the prophets, and imprisoned and persecuted them [Mat 5:12]: and in the days of the kings, as in the Chronicles, how David and many of the prophets, and the righteous suffered: but what became of them that made them suffer? And likewise in the days of Christ, and his apostles, how did they suffer, by the professing Jews! And there were many comers and goers in the days of Christ that could say, ‘Lord, Lord:’ but such do not enter into the kingdom of God, except they do the will of God [Mat 7:21].
And you read how the apostles and the true church were troubled with false Christians and false brethren; whom Paul writeth against in many of his epistles, and Peter, and John, and Jude; and John in his Revelations. And therefore, all Friends, dwell in the seed Christ Jesus, in whom ye cannot be deceived, ‘who bruises the head of the serpent [Gen 3:15],’ who is the head of all deceivers; and the head of all enmity, and false ways, worships, and religions; and the head of all false liberties: but in Christ Jesus, in whom all nations are blessed, is the true liberty. In him all stand fast, so far as he hath made you free [Gal 5:1]; and in him all walk, as ye have received him [Col 2:6], to the praise and glory of God: in whom you have all eternal life, peace, rest, and salvation; and in him the Lord God Almighty preserve you all in love, unity, and fellowship. Who is able to support you, and supply you with his eternal hand and power, with what you do need in all your sufferings and trials. Amen.
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[CCCXCV. (395) — To Friends at the Yearly Meeting in York.]
Friends, with my love in the Lord Jesus Christ to you, who is your saviour and prophet, that God has raised up for you, to hear in all things [Acts 3:22]; your shepherd, that has laid down his life for you [John 10:15], whose voice ye must hear [John 10:27], who will feed you in his living pastures [Ezek 34:14] of life, who is your priest, that offered himself for you [Heb 7:27], who sanctifies you, that he might present you to God: so is become your high priest, who is made higher than the heavens [Heb 7:26]; so is a higher priest than the priesthood of Aaron [Heb 7:11], and all the priesthoods upon the earth, that are made by men below: for he is a high priest, made higher than the heavens. Heb. vii. And so, is the chief shepherd and bishop of your souls, to oversee you, that you do not go astray from God [1 Pet 2:25], who is your sanctuary, in whom you are preserved from the destroyer; who destroys the devil [Heb 2:14], the great destroyer, and his works [1 Jn 3:8], and bruises his head [Gen 3:15], and breaks his power: he, namely, Christ, is your saviour; in him you have rest and peace, salvation and life eternal.
Now, dear friends, we do hear and understand, that the magistrates have cast you into prison again in Dantzic; and that they have proffered you your liberty, upon condition that you would go away, or forsake your common meeting place, or divide yourselves into several little meetings. Truly, friends, we have had many of these proffers made to us within these twenty or thirty years, but we never durst make such bargains or covenants, to forsake the assembling of ourselves together [Heb 10:25], as we used to do; but did leave our suffering cause wholly to the Lord <255> Christ Jesus, in whose name we were gathered [Mat 18:20], who has all power in heaven and earth given unto him [Mat 28:18]: and the Lord at last did and hath tendered the hearts of many of our persecutors both in England and other places; and therefore in the spirit and power of the Lord Jesus Christ, it is good to be faithful; who is God all-sufficient to support and supply you all in whatever you do, and strengthen you in all conditions. For if that should get a little advantage upon you [2 Cor 2:11], and get you into weakness, it would not rest so, but get more upon you. And therefore it is good to stand fast in the liberty in Christ Jesus [Gal 5:1], the second Adam, the Lord from heaven [1 Cor 15:47], who hath made you free out of the snares, and bondage, and limitations of the wills of the sons of old Adam.
And whereas some of the magistrates have alleged that Christ departed out of the coasts of the Gadarenes upon their request, after he had cast the devils out of the possessed men, and they entered into their swine, and run into the sea [Luke 8:26-37]. This argument is of no weight, for you to go out of their coasts or city, who are settled citizens, and have wives and families; for Christ went up and down from place to place and preached; as he said, ‘The son of man hath not where to lay his head, though the subtle foxes had holes, and the high-flown fowls had their nests [Mat 8:20].’ And would they take it kindly themselves, if the king of Poland, their protector, who is of a contrary profession, should use the same argument to them, and say, begone, or else do not meet at your great public places of worship, but meet in small companies, or else to depart out of these coasts, as Christ did out of the coasts of the Gadarenes. And if you do not, then you are disobedient to Christ's example; as they do apply it upon you. And so, let them weigh the matter and their argument with the just law of God, to do unto you as they would be done unto themselves [Mat 7:12].
And now, dear friends, I desire, however, that you walk wisely, and gently, and lovingly, and meekly, and soberly to all the magistrates, and all people, that they may have no just occasion in any thing against you [1 Tim 5:14]. For the good must overcome the bad, as the apostle says, ‘Overcome evil with good [Rom 12:21],’ and dwell in that love [1 Jn 4:16] that can bear all things, and endure all things [1 Cor 13:7]. And nothing can separate you from this love which you have in God through Jesus Christ [Rom 8: 38f]. In this love build up and edify one another [Eph 4:16/1 Th 5:11], that by it you may answer the good in all people, and spread his truth abroad, and be valiant for that upon earth [Jer 9:3]. So in his holy, peaceable truth, and his seed Christ Jesus, in which all nations are blest [Gen 22:18], God Almighty preserve and keep you to his glory. Amen.
And now, dear friends, you that have stood such hard and cruel sufferings so long, for the Lord's name and truth, and could not be overcome by cruelty, take heed now lest you be overcome by fair words and flattery; for in that there is a greater danger.