‘The word of God is not bound [2 Tim 2:9].’ 2 Tim. ii. 9.
Dear friends, in the seed of life that is over all, whom the Lord doth support, and hath supported by his eternal arm and power to stand for <269> his glory; be valiant for his truth and his name upon the earth [Jer 9:3], who is God all-sufficient and almighty over all to support you all, and to supply you with all things needful. Now, dear friends, it is not only given you to believe in the name of Christ, but also to suffer for his name' sake [Phil 1:29]; so you see and know, it is a gift given you to believe, and a gift to suffer for Christ's sake, and his righteousness; but, however, as Christ saith, ‘Be ye wise as serpents, and harmless as doves;’ for Christ's believers are as sheep or lambs among wolves [Mat 10:16], he hath declared that they shall be brought before counsels, and before rulers, for his name' sake [Mat 10:17f]: But Christ bids his disciples, ‘take no thought of what they shall speak, for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak: for it is not you that speak, but the spirit of your Father that speaketh in you [Mat 10:19f];’ and this spirit of the Father is sufficient to trust to, for it shall answer all, if they have ears to hear, and comfort his people, his lambs and sheep. And Christ further said, speaking to his disciples, ‘Ye shall be hated of all men for my name sake; but he that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved [Mat 10:22];’ and ‘he that heareth you, (to wit, Christ's sheep,) heareth me,’ saith Christ; ‘and he that despiseth you, despiseth me, (namely Christ,) and he that despiseth me, despiseth him that sent me [Luke 10:16],’ (to wit, the Father.) Matt. x.Luke x. ‘And the disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord [Mat 10:24];’ for Christ, the lord and master of the sheep, was despised; so it is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord; ‘for if they call the master of the house (namely Christ) Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household? [Mat 10:25] But the very hairs of your head are all numbered: fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows, and not one of them shall fall to the ground without the heavenly Father [Mat 10:29-31].’ See here Christ encourages his lambs and sheep; therefore stand in his will. And if the Lord suffer you, who are his lambs, and sheep, and are as doves and chickens, that Christ hath gathered under his wings [Mat 23:37], and none are able to pluck you out of his hands [John 10:28], (his power,) who hath all power in heaven and earth given to him [Mat 28:18]. And now if it be the will of the Lord to try you, his lambs and sheep, by spoiling of your outward goods, as he did his servant Job [Job 1 - 2], and others of his servants and children, in the days of the apostles, who took joyfully the spoiling of their goods [Heb 10:34]; and Moses by faith chose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the plea sures of sin, which are but for a season; esteeming the reproaches of Christ greater riches than all the treasures of Egypt; for he had an eye to the recompense of reward [Heb 11:25f]; as in Heb. xi.
And therefore, consider how Noah, Lot, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, by faith served the Lord, and went through sufferings and trials; and Jeremiah, and the rest of the prophets, through faith went through <270> great sufferings and imprisonments; and Daniel, and the three children, passed through great sufferings and trials by faith [Dan 6, 3); so faith was their victory [1 Jn 5:4], which was the gift of God [Eph 2:8], which Christ is the author and finisher of [Heb 12:2]. And you read in the days of the apostles, what sufferings and imprisonments they were carried through by faith; and since the apostles' days, how all the martyrs were carried through great sufferings and imprisonments by their faith, which was their victory; in which faith they pleased God [Heb 11:6], and had victory over the devil; and in which faith they were all in unity [Eph 4:13].
Now, dear friends and brethren, if it doth please the Lord to try you, who are the believers in the light [John 12:36], and children of the light and the day [1 Th 5:5] of Christ: I say again, if it please the Lord, and it be his will, to try you in stinking prisons and dungeons, Bridewells, houses of correction, and suffer you to be put in such places, who are his sheep and lambs, plants and branches; I say, the Lord can sanctify all such places for his people, his children, his sons and daughters, and make all pleasant to them: for his sheep and people cannot go any where from the Lord, for the Lord and his presence is with them [Psa 139:7], and the angel of his presence saves them [Isa 63:9]; and therefore such jails and dungeons, Bridewells, houses of correction, which are for evil doers, if the Lord do try, or suffer his people to be put in such places, yet his people are all in the hand, and under the wings of Christ, and he can sanctify all such places to them. And you, in that state, are to pray for the enemies that put you there; and if they curse and hate you, you are to bless them, and to do good unto them, and you are to pray for them that despitefully use you, and persecute you, and love your enemies, that you may be children of your Father which is in heaven; ‘for he maketh the sun to shine on the evil and on the good, and causeth his rain to fall on the just and on the unjust [Mat 5:44f].’ And the apostle saith to the believers, ‘Try all things, hold fast that which is good [1 Th 5:21];’ so you holding fast that which is good, with that you can try all things, whether they be good or bad; ‘and be not overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good [Rom 12:21]:’ this is the command. . . . And a good man, David saith, ‘He hath dispersed, he hath given to the poor; his righteousness <271> endureth for ever; his horn shall be exalted with honour [Psa 112:9].’ ‘They that choose the things that please the Lord, and keep his covenant, even them will I give a name in my house, and within my walls, a place and a name, better than of sons and daughters, saith the Lord, and I will give them an everlasting name, which shall not be cut off.’ Isa. lvi. So you may see how the Lord doth encourage his people to walk in the truth, in faithfulness to him; for the Lord hath loved his people with an everlasting love; therefore with loving kindness hath he, and doth he draw them [Jer 31:3] unto himself, to serve and worship him. Jer. xxxi. And Christ saith, ‘He that believeth on him hath everlasting life [John 3:16].’ Mark, hath it, as in John. And again Christ saith, ‘He that drinketh of the water that I give, shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give, shall be in him as a well of water springing up to eternal life [John 4:14].’ So every one mind this well in you, who have drunk of the water which Christ hath given you.
And the apostle saith, ‘God will punish them that disobey his gospel with an everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power [2 Th 1:8f].’ 2 Thess. i. 9. Here you may see everlasting destruction to the wicked, that disobey the gospel; and everlasting life to them that believe and obey the gospel of Christ. Now they that disobey the gospel of Christ, refuse their own comfort and joy of life and salvation; which gospel is the power of God [Rom 1:16], which is preached to every creature under heaven [Col 1:23] to believe and obey; therefore happy are you who have received it, and obeyed it, which brings life and immortality to light [2 Tim 1:10] in you; that you see over the enemy which darkened you, and are now become heirs of this comfortable and joyful gospel of life and everlasting salvation; in which everlasting gospel [Rev 14:6] you have an everlasting glorious fellowship; and in this everlasting gospel, you can praise the everlasting God, that reigns over all from everlasting to everlasting. And all that are of the seed and faith of David, can say as David said, ‘Blessed be God from everlasting to everlasting; and let all the people say, Amen. Praise ye the Lord [Psa 106:48].’ And further can say, that ‘the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting, upon all them that fear him and his righteousness, unto the children of men [Psa 103:17].’ Psalm ciii. 17. For the Lord God he changeth not, he is the same that he was, who inhabits eternity, and dwells in the humble heart [Isa 57:15]; and therefore you humble ones, fear, and serve, and worship him. And keep under the wing of Christ, and in him your sanctuary and saviour, who destroys the destroyer, and is over all, the first and last [Rev 22:13]. Amen.
Dear friends, who are under sufferings for the name [Acts 5:41] of the Lord Jesus Christ, and for his new and living way [Heb 10:20], and his pure, undefiled religion [Jas 1:27], and his worship in the spirit and truth [John 4:24], that Christ who is from above, and hath all power in heaven and earth [Mat 28:18], hath set up, for all the <272> followers of the Lamb to walk in his new and living way, and to keep in his pure, undefiled religion and worship, in spirit and in truth.
And now, dear friends and brethren, my desire is, that you may show forth the nature of the Lamb, and the virtue and the life, in which the nobility of true christianity is seen and manifested in your peaceable, modest, and virtuous behaviour, before the powers that you are brought before; and that none are to question or take thought what they are to say; for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak [Mat 10:19f], saith Christ; ‘whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. [Mat 10:32] For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation [Rom 10:10].’ Rom. x. 10. ‘And every tongue shall confess to God [Rom 14:11].’ Rom. xiv. 11. And again, the apostle saith, that ‘every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father [Phil 2:11].’ Philip. ii. 10. So we cannot but confess and declare what our eyes have seen, and our ears have heard, and our hands have handled of the word of life [1 Jn 1:1], Christ Jesus, by whom all things were made and created [John 1:3]. . . .
And so, dear friends, be of one mind, and heart, and spirit, and God Almighty arm you with patience and humility; who is God all-sufficient, to give you dominion with his power, and to support you. And so, with my love to you all in the Lord Jesus Christ. And let your moderation appear unto all men [Phil 4:5]; for wisdom is justified of her children [Mat 11:19]. And what any one of you doth want, God is all-sufficient to supply you; trust in him, and in fear walk before him.
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London, the 3d day of the 10th month, 1684. <273>
John said, that ‘he saw three unclean spirits like frogs, that came out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet [Rev 16:13].’ Mark, they do go out of their mouths, for they are serpents and devils working miracles, that go out of their mouths, the foul unclean spirits which go forth unto the kings of the earth, and of the whole world. Mark, the whole world, to gather them together. Mark, to gather them; so here they are to be gathered ‘to the battle of the great day of God Almighty [Rev 16:14].’ Rev. xvi. 13, 14. And satan the old serpent shall go out to deceive the nations, which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle; the number of whom is as the sand of the sea [Rev 20:8], (so here is a gathering together by the devil,) and they went upon the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city, ‘and fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them [Rev 20:9];’ so these were gathered together by the devil, and the destroyer was destroyed by God the saviour of his people. Rev. xx. 8.
And the Lord scattered Nimrod, that mighty hunter's gathering, who gathered up people together to build Babel, and confounded them [Gen 10:10, 11:1-9]. Gen. x. 11. And Isaiah said, ‘All thy children shall be taught of the Lord, and great shall be the peace of thy children; and in righteousness shall they be established [Isa 54:13f].’ ‘Behold! they shall surely gather together, but not by me, saith the Lord; and whosoever shall gather together against thee, shall fall for thy sake [Isa 54:15]. No weapon that is formed against thee, shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment, thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord [Isa 54:17].’ Isa. liv. And Christ Jesus saith, ‘where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them [Mat 18:20].’ And the apostle said to the Jews, speaking of Christ, that there is no salvation in any other: for ‘there is no other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved [Acts 4:12],’ Acts. iv. 12. but by Christ Jesus. So here is the saints' true gathering in the name of Christ Jesus the second Adam [1 Cor 15:45,47]; and none is able to pluck them out of his hand [John 10:28]. John x.
For Christ, the seed of woman, bruises the serpent's head [Gen 3:15], and Christ through death destroys death, and the devil the power of death [Heb 2:14]; and so doth reconcile all things, both in heaven and in the earth [Col 1:20], into one.
The devil abode not in the truth [John 8:44], and so he became a devil, a destroyer, and a serpent, and enemy, and a satan, and adversary to the truth, and to righteousness, and holiness, and to man and woman, that God made in his image, in righteousness and holiness [Eph 4:24]; . . . <274> . . . and Christ called the Jews vipers and serpents [Mat 23:23], and said to them that made a profession of the scriptures of the old testament, but were gone from the truth of them, that they were of their father the devil, and his works and lusts they would do [John 8:44]. . . .
And when they who are called christians became haters of the light [John 3:19f], and walkers despitefully against the spirit of grace [Heb 10:29], despisers of the word in their hearts, and erred from the truth [Jas 5:19] and the true faith, and professed the form of godliness, but denied the power thereof [2 Tim 3:5], and so denied the spirit of true christianity: these became as serpents, enemies, satan, adversaries to true christianity, and of the devil, that seek to destroy it, and Judases, betrayers [Mat 10:4] of it, and of the righteous and the just, wherever it appeared to the unjust. . . .
I say, that Christ said to them, ‘O Jerusalem, Jerusalem! thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your houses are left unto you desolate [Mat 23:37f],’ &c. Matt. xxiii. 37, 38.
Jerusalem was the chiefest place of worship, and the chiefest city among the Jews, and the greatest place of persecution, and yet the Lord Jesus Christ wept over this city [Luke 19:41], and would have gathered these persecuting professors, (who were without possessing of the life of what they did profess,) but they would not come to him that they might have life [John 5:40].
And these persecuting Jews, scribes, and Pharisees, Christ said unto <275> them, ‘Ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made he is twofold more the child of hell [Mat 23:15].’ Matt. xxiii. . . .
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Dear friends, you who profess the light, faith, grace, and spirit of Christ, and the pure undefiled religion before God the Father, are to keep yourselves unspotted from the world [Jas 1:27], and to bridle your tongues [Jas 1:26] from evil words, which corrupt good manners [1 Cor 15:33]; the light of Christ Jesus letteth you see the spots of the world; and the grace of God will teach you to deny them [Tit 2:21f]; and the spirit of truth, if you be led by it [John 16;13], teacheth you to mortify and subdue them. . . . and that which keeps you from the spots of the world, will keep you from the body of death [Rom 7:24], and sins of the world; which you are made free from, by the circumcision of Christ, by his spirit, and by the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus, are made free from the law of sin and death [Rom 8:2]. . . .
<276> . . . And take heed of greediness, and earthly mindedness, and covetousness, which the apostle called idolatry [Col 3:5]; for it is a great spot and blot of the world that lieth in wickedness [1 Jn 5:19]. . . .
And all such that follow the lust of the eye, the pride of life, and the lust of the flesh, which is not of the Father, but of [1 Jn 2:16] the god of the world [2 Cor 4:4], that abode not in the truth [John 8:44], such are spotted with the spots of the world, and are proud, vain, lofty, scornful, high, and spotted with the world's spots, and are void of the pure undefiled religion before God the Father. And take heed of malice, hatred, envy, wrath, rage, and fury; these are the spots of the world, who bear such fruits, contrary to the spirit of meekness, gentleness, kindness, tenderness, sobriety, love, and mercifulness, which are the fruits of the pure spirit of God [Gal 5:19-23], which leadeth to the pure undefiled religion before God the Father, which is to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep unspotted from the world [Jas 1:27]. . . . <277> . . . . And this is the one pure undefiled religion that all christians should be of, which is from one God, the creator of all. So there is one God, the creator of all, and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom all things were made and created [John 1:3], who is the one mediator betwixt God and man; even the man Christ Jesus [1 Tim 2:5]; there is one body, and one spirit, even as you are called to one hope of your calling [Eph 4:4]; and one God and Father of all, who is above you all, and in you all, and through you all [Eph 4:6]; and there is one faith [Eph 4:5] which Christ Jesus is the author and finisher of [Heb 12:2]; and there is one baptism [Eph 4:5], and by one spirit we are all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, bond or free, must all drink into this one spirit of Christ [1 Cor 12:13], and so to keep the unity in the spirit, which is the bond of peace [Eph 4:3]. For the apostle saith, ‘If any man have not the spirit of Christ, he is none of his [Rom 8:9],’ Rom. viii. 9. for Christ saith in his prayer to his Father, ‘That they be all one, (meaning the true christians,) as thou Father art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us, that they may be one, even as we are one; I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one [John 17:21-23];’ to wit, the believers and followers of Christ. John xvii. 21, 22, 23. Here you may see, God and Christ are one in them, (so he prayeth, that his people may be one,) in whom they have rest, life, peace, and salvation with God, through Jesus Christ. Amen.
‘Let your conversation or practice be without covetousness [Heb 13:5],’ &c. Heb. xiii. 5.
‘Only let your conversation be as becometh the gospel of Christ [Phil 1:17].’ Philip. i. 17.
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The 4th of the 2nd month, 1685.
Dear friends, to you is my love in the seed of life, that bruises the head of enmity [Gen 3:15]; and in this seed you all have life and peace that is everlasting. And my desires are, that you may all dwell in the love [1 Jn 4:16] that can bear all things [1 Cor 13:7]. And keep the word of patience [Rev 3:10], which will never be worn out; for the word liveth, and abideth, and endureth for ever [1 Pet 1:23], and over all trials keeps; for the word was in the beginning [John 1:1], and all things are upheld by the word of his power [Heb 1:3]; in it abide.
And so live and walk in the wisdom that is from above, that is heavenly, pure, peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated [Jas 3:17]. And keep in the lamb-like nature; for the suffering lamb must have the victory [Rev 17:14]. And so the man of God must not strive, but be gentle [2 Tim 2:24], and yet valiant for God's truth [Jer 9:3], and not to sell it [Prov 23:23]; for they that do, go into bondage and captivity; for the truth maketh all God's people free [John 8:32], and the peaceable <278> truth is a peaceable habitation [Isa 32:18]. And so in it God Almighty preserve you, and all the Lord's people every where, that they may glorify the Lord God of all their comforts, lives, and mercies. Amen.
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Kingston, the 13th of the 10th month, 1685.
Dear friends and brethren, in the Lord Jesus Christ, who is your holy, heavenly rock and foundation of God, that standeth sure [2 Tim 2:19], who was the foundation and the rock of his church in the apostles' days, and is now. You may see how Christ sent John to encourage his church, and saith in Rev. iii. 8. ‘I know thy works. Behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it. For thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name. [Rev 3:8] Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of satan, (which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie,) behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee. [Rev 3:9] Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the face of the earth [Rev 3:10]’ . . . .
And all such as went out from the church of Christ, in the apostles' days, which were not of them; and Corah, Dathan, and Abiram, that went out from the Jews, &c. [Num 16] and all they that separated themselves [Jude 1:19] in the apostles' days, from the church of Christ, and all they that separated themselves now, &c. and are gone out from the church of Christ, have manifested they were not of them. They that went out from the church of Christ, in the apostles' days, and separated themselves from them; and all they that go from the church of Christ now, and separate themselves from them, have erred from the word of patience, and have not kept that; but such are gone into temptations of the world, and are become as the synagogue of satan, and like raging waves of the sea [Jude 1:13], satan's fruits and works they do manifest. So that by their <279> fruits it is known [Mat 7:16,20] of what synagogue they are, and have and do sufficiently discover it in all ages, how that patience is worn out, and weareth out, and that they have not kept the word of patience [Rev 3:10]; and none such are like to preach the word of God, and the word of life [1 Jn 1:1], and the word of patience, and the word of wisdom [1 Cor 12:8], that liveth, and abideth, and endureth for ever [1 Pet 1:23], that keep not the word of patience; . . . . But now they do manifest themselves to be out of the gentle wisdom of God, and out of the word of patience, in a rash, hasty, furious, envious, malicious, hateful, lying, defaming, slandering, gainsaying, and envious spirit of Cain, Corah [Jude 1:11], and Ham; and the fruits of this spirit are manifest sufficiently now, as in other ages, to them that live in the word of life, wisdom, and patience; by which word all God's children are born again of the immortal seed [1 Pet 1:23], and feeds upon the milk of the word [1 Pet 2:2]; by which word all things were made and created [John 1:3]; by which word all God's people are reconciled to God [2 Cor 5:19]; which word liveth, and abideth, and endureth for ever.
Now, as there is a growth and adding to faith, and virtue, and knowledge, and temperance, and godliness, and patience, and brotherly kindness, and charity [2 Pet 1:5-7], as God's children are led by the spirit of God [Rom 8:14], in it they have unity, and it is the bond of their peace [Eph 4:3]. So as there is an erring from the spirit [Isa 29:24] of God, there is a degenerating from virtue, kindness, and true knowledge, and godliness, and temperance, and patience, and brotherly kindness, and charity; this we have seen both now in this age, as in the days of the apostles. . . .
Dear friends, be ye followers of that which is good [1 Pet 3:13]; and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye [1 Pet 3:14]. For it is better (if the will of God be so) that ye suffer for well doing, and not for evil doing [1 Pet 3:17], because ‘Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example that we should follow his steps [1 Pet 2:21]. Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not, but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously [1 Pet 2:23].’ ‘If ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye; and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled [1 Pet 3:14], having a good conscience; that whereas they speak evil of you, as of evil doers, they may be <280> ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ [1Pet 3:16]. And if ye are reproached for the name of Christ Jesus, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you; on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or a thief, or as a busy body in other men's matters.' But if any man suffer as a christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God upon this behalf [1 Pet 4:14-16], that he suffereth as a christian, not as a murderer, thief, evil doer, or a busy body in other men's matters, for that is not a suffering for Christ, who hath suffered for you; and they that will reign with him, must suffer with him. ‘The God of all grace, who hath called us into his eternal glory, by Jesus Christ, after that ye have suffered awhile, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, and settle you [1 Pet 5:10];’ this is through the sufferings for Christ Jesus, the captain of our salvation, who was made perfect through sufferings [1 Pet 2:10], and is able to succour all his followers, in their temptations and sufferings.
And the apostle saith to the church of Christ, the Philippians, ‘I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him; that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings; being made conformable unto his death [Phil 3:8-10]:’ which every true christian should be of the same mind, as this holy apostle was. So here you may see the apostle exhorts people to suffer with Christ, and for him, but not as murderers, thieves, evil doers, and busy bodies in other men's matters. And as David saith, ‘Depart from the evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it [Psa 34:14]; keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile [Psa 34:13]: for the wicked have set their mouths against the heavens, and their tongues walk through the earth [Psa 73:9]: but be not as the horse and mule, whose mouth must be held with the bit and the bridle [Psa 32:9].’ And David saith, ‘I will take heed unto my ways, that I sin not with my tongue: I will keep my mouth with a bit, while the wicked is before me [Psa 39:1].’ And this is good advice, that God's people be not ensnared by the wicked's snare [Psa 119:110]: and therefore it is good for all God's people to be careful and wise, that none do suffer as busy bodies in other men's matters, or as evil doers, &c. but let their sufferings be for righteousness' sake [1 Pet 3:14], and with Christ, that they may reign with him [2 Tim 2:12] . And keep out the Athenians' spirit, spending their time in hearing and telling of news [Acts 17:21], which the world is full of, in whom your trouble is; ‘but in me ye have peace [John 16:33],’ saith Christ. And therefore as every one hath received Christ, so walk in him [Col 2:6], and let your conversations be in him. Amen.
And blessed are they who suffer for righteousness' sake [Mat 5:10], and in whose hearts there is no enmity: and blessed are they that dwell in the love <281> of God [1 Jn 2:16], that can bear all things [1 Cor 13:7], and are in the wisdom of God, which is pure and peaceable [Jas 3:17]. For troubles, afflictions, sufferings, imprisonments, spoiling of goods, and many perils do attend God's people, by the world that lieth in wickedness [1 Jn 5:19]: and therefore it is good for all God's people to keep in Christ their sanctuary, in whom they have eternal rest and peace.
And also God's people are exercised now (as in days past) with trials and perils by false brethren, as the church of Christ was in the apostles' day, such as went from the church, in Cain's, Corah's, and Balaam's ways [Jude 1:11], as the apostle saith, ‘fierce despisers, false accusers of those that are good [2 Tim 3:3].’ And you may read in 2 Pet. ii. throughout, of such as forsook the right way, and of many following their ‘pernicious ways, by reason of whom the way of truth was evil spoken of [2 Pet 2:2]:’ and so it is now, as it was in the apostles' days. And the apostle saith to the church, ‘You have heard say, that antichrists should come; even now are there many antichrists: they went out from us, but 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 us, that they might be manifest they were not of us [1 Jn 2:18f].’ 1 John ii. 18, 19. Christ did forewarn his disciples of these antichrists and false prophets, that they should be inwardly ravening wolves, and by the fruits of their trees they should be known [Mat 7:15f] to be of the nature of the wolf, and not of the lamb: such as these went from the church (in the apostles' days) into the world; and such as these are gone from the church of Christ now, into the spirit of the world; their evil spirits are tried [1 Jn 4:1]; as in 1 John iv.
And the sufferings and perils by false brethren, have been more grief many times to the church of Christ, than open persecution; for they cause the way of truth to be evil spoken of; that turn from the way of righteousness, like the dog to the vomit, or the sow to the mire [2 Pet 2:22]. And in the way of righteousness, Christ Jesus, God preserve all his people from all the biting devouring dogs, and greedy swine [Mat 7:6?].
And you read how righteous Abel [Mat 23:25] suffered by his false brother Cain [Gen 4:8]; and did not Ishmael persecute his brother Isaac [Gen 21:9]? And would not Esau have destroyed his brother Jacob? [Gen 27:41] but God prevented him. And was not Ishmael and Esau in an outward profession of the circumcision? And how often did the Jews (that were brought out of Egypt by the power of the Lord) turn against Moses and Aaron, and other elders, and so turned against the power and spirit of God, that brought them out of Egypt, whom the Lord destroyed in the wilderness, and they never came to see the land of promise [Num 14]? And how often did the Jews turn against the holy prophets of God, after they came into the land of Canaan, and what was their end, when they had rebelled against the good spirit that God gave them to instruct them [Neh 9:20,26]? And were not these <282> holy prophets the Jews' brethren, whom they killed, and imprisoned, and persecuted? And was not Joseph sold into Egypt, and persecuted by his brethren; but God was with him, and preserved him [Gen 37:28, Acts 7:9f]: and so he will his faithful people? And did not Moses say unto the children of Israel, ‘A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up of your brethren, him shall ye hear in all things, whatsoever he shall say unto you [Deut 18:15, Acts 3:22]?’ Deut. xviii. 15.Acts iii. 22. and vii. 37.
Now when God had raised up this prophet, Christ Jesus, you see many of the Jews would not receive him, nor believe him, nor many would hardly hear him, though they were called brethren, but they mocked him, and persecuted him, and blasphemed him; and the chief priest gave money to Judas (one of his disciples) to betray him [Mat 26:14-16]: and what became of all the Jews, and of Judas, that betrayed and persecuted Christ and the prophets? And what became of all those false apostles [2 Cor 11:13] and antichrists that went in Cain's, Corah's, Balaam's and Jezabel's way? And will not all of the same spirit in our age, that have gone and go in the same way, or path, have the same end? yea, their latter end will be worse than their beginning [2 Pet 2:20], and to be as the synagogue of satan [Rev 3:9], who maketh them to accuse, slander, and revile God's righteous people, from whom Christ will save and deliver his people, who bruises the head of the serpent [Gen 3:15]; and against such synagogues of satan the wrath of the Lamb [Rev 6:16] is turned: and in Christ, the Lamb of God, the saints have their rest and peace, and can sing hallelujah.
Bednal Green, the 14th of the 4th month, 1685.