Stephen Crisp's Letters Continued
LAXNESS IN SEEKING WILL LEAD TO FAILURE
- In taking heed of settling in a Formality, without Power.
- To take heed the Spirit of this world does not drink up their Spirits.
- To keep their word, and let their yes be always yes.
- Not to trust too much to Education, etc.
- To love one another.
Written by one who travails for Zion's Prosperity,
Dearly Beloved Friends, Brethren and Sisters,
The salutation of my dear love, in the flowings forth of life in the Lord Jesus Christ, our only head, reaches to you all, in the spiritual way of communication, in which you are made partakers of in the Holy Spirit, in the reaching forth of this love and life, which we have received from the Father of Life. I am drawn forth to visit you all with an epistle of tender advice and counsel; and especially you, my dear Friends, among whom I have traveled in this and other nations. Oh the remembrance of the glory and power of God that has appeared among us in days past, does much affect my soul at this time, knowing the Lord is the same to those who hold fast the things they have heard and learned from the beginning. My spirit is exercised among you, caring and praying for your stability and continuance in the truth, although my outward man is so far decayed, that I cannot travel so much as I used to do, (insomuch, that I know many of you, among whom I have traveled in the gospel of our Lord Jesus, will see my face no more), yet my travail in spirit is not lessened, nor my love to you, the Lord's people; but my cries are day and night to the Lord, that you may be preserved blameless untill the day of his coming, and that you may be armed with power, and furnished with wisdom, and may be prepared with every good gift of the spirit to stand against the wiles and subtle workings of the devil your adversary, who is upon his watch, which way he may destroy you, and spoil you of the lot of your inheritance, prepared for you in Christ Jesus our Lord. For this purpose he sets all his subtlety to work, and inspires many whom he has already caught in his snares, and sets them as snares to catch more of you; so that by their example, you who still stand, might also fall from your steadfastness, and be a prey unto him.
Therefore, my dear Friends, gird up the loins of your minds, and put on the whole armor of light, then you will see round about you, and whatever way the enemy comes to assault you, you will be prepared to resist him. For your sufficiency is in the light, and in the truth, which the devil is out of; and if your eye is kept single to truth in your inward parts, all the deceit of the devil and all his instruments, cannot beguile you; but a certain sense will be given you of his mysterious workings.
My dear Friends, I would not have you forget that there are many ways to weaken and to darken you, which must all be watched against. Therefore walk circumspectly, keeping your eye in your head, waiting to feel your strength renewed daily. For be assured, your trials and temptations will be renewed, and if you are destitute of the heavenly daily bread, there will be a daily weakening, which will appear by your being overcome by such things, as once you had a power to stand against, which is a great grief to behold in many.
Now I come to warn you of a few things that have for some time laid upon me, to send among you; which I do in faithfulness recommend to the pure witness of God in all consciences, not as if I judged any; but this I must tell you, there is one that judges, and will give an answer in everyone that listens to him, by which he may know how far any of these things have prevailed upon him; and he that judges, will also by judgment deliver those who are caught in Satan’s snares, if they do hearken, and submit to his leadings.
First. Take heed, my dear Friends, of holding the truth in a bare formality, satisfying yourselves that you have for a long time owned the way of truth, and the assemblies of the Lord's people, and appeared as they have done in all outward things, and have thereby obtained the reputation to be one of them.* Under these considerations you sit down at ease, as to the inward man, unacquainted with the inward travails, either for yourself or others; unconcerned whether the noble plant grows, either in yourself, or in others. Oh! My Friends, this is a dangerous state, yes, more dangerous than my tongue or pen can declare; though so far as to clear myself, and to warn such, God will give me utterance.
*This describes a form, or shell of the whole, which looks the same on the outside, but is empty on the inside. Unfortunately, as with all of the warnings of the early Quakers to their younger members, this letter of warning was ignored. Today the many Quaker sects are an empty shell of the former glory of the true Church of Christ.
Therefore consider how your poor soul is beguiled in this condition. In the first place you are deprived of that daily enjoyment which others do enjoy, in waiting upon the Lord. Others feel his refreshing presence, which either fills them with joy and comfort, or else opens their understandings in the light to a certain knowledge of, and testimony against, such things as yet stand in the way, and hinder the joy of his salvation from them. But you, who sit in a dry formality without an inward travail upon your spirit, you know neither of these things, but go on in the dark, not knowing where you go. So in time, since you are such a stranger to the powerful working of truth in yourself, it grows until you to question whether others actually do witness any such powerful workings. For everything that is not experienced is liable to question; as he that has never seen does not knows what seeing is, and he that has never smelled anything does not know not what smelling is.
So he, who through long continuance in this formal manner of going to meetings, continues still unacquainted with the power, will at last be easily made to question whether there is actually such a power or not. In this state the dark power will work insensibly, and prevail upon your spirit, and fit you for his own purpose, and will minister a secret liberty into your mind, and a looseness, even as to your dry formality itself by degrees. In this way, the dark power prepares you for a time of some sharp, smart trial that will come to try you, either in having something, or parting with something, which may be had or parted with, if you will turn your back on truth. When this time of trial comes upon you, then the strength and advantage that the enemy has gotten over you in the time of your lukewarm, loose profession, are made evident. Then you are in great difficulties for some time.
If the temptation is to have a wife, or husband, or a portion or legacy, or gaining a lawsuit, or recovering a debt, or such like things; and the things cannot be had without letting the testimony of your profession fall, by swearing, or going to a priest, or some other matter utterly contrary to your profession, oh! what struggling is there in your soul to obtain the thing you desire, as you weigh it against your desire to still be considered a Friend, being loath to be publicly numbered among backsliders and apostates. The same thing occurs if the temptation and trial concerns giving something up for your profession’s sake, such as parting with anything which you love, as your wife and children, your liberty, your money, your cattle, your house and land, or what else may be dear to you. Oh, how does self work to save itself, and it loathes giving up the name and reputation of a friend of truth, while loathing to part with any of these things for the truth's sake; not feeling the hundred-fold in this time, which Christ spoke of, nor the life everlasting either.
Here is a day of great difficulty and distress, which has come and is coming upon many of such careless believers in a form. They stand in need of the help of the divine power of God to support them and to give them victory; but alas, they are estranged from it. So the form will not support them in the hour of this great trial, but the flesh and blood reasonings have grown strong for want of living in the daily cross; and that nature cries aloud in the ears of your soul, which you have indulged and allowed to live.
If you consider the truth, and weigh the testimony of that against your own will and desire, then you easily see which is of most weight with you. For a false weight, and false balance, and false judgment, will have gotten up in the time of your careless profession, and the old deceiver then comes in, and tells you that there is no evil in it, or at least it is less evil than the alternative. So that of two evils, it is wisdom to choose the least evil. This kind of rationalization fills your mind, until at last your selfish will being strong, and your understanding darkened, you choose to hazard your soul, and to part with your dry, withered testimony that you have for a long time borne without life, and embrace the price that is offered for it, as Esau (for porridge) and Judas (for money) did. So you sell the truth that you once followed, and deliver it, (as much as you possess), into the hands of its enemy, to be mocked, and reproached, and trampled upon. This is the fruit and effect of a long carelessness and failure, which you once believed would never happen. When the servants of the Lord have declared what sad effects such negligence would produce in time, you have been apt to bless yourself, and to believe you would never run so far out, as publicly to bring reproach upon the way you have declared to be yours. But, alas, you had no idea that your soul's enemy was all that while preparing you for the day of your greatest trial; and as it were, unarming you against the day of battle, that he might the more easily overcome you. But now you see yourself fallen, when others who have been tried with the same temptations, stood and lived in their testimony. You might have also stood, if you had waited upon God as you ought to have, in diligence for the renewing of your strength; but now, alas, miserable man or woman, what will you do? Your cloak is now pulled off, your fig-leaf profession is torn away, and you have now but two alternatives; and well if there are so many:
- to turn your mind from the object of your delight, to the truth for which you have sold it. By repentance and through judgment, to wait to see if God will be merciful to you or not. To spend your days in sorrow and mourning and to give up now at last to that work you so much before slighted; or else
- to take the other way, and that is, to go on in your rebellion against the light of Christ Jesus, and add sin to sin, until the custom of sin may take away the sense of judgment, and so you may grow to a fleshly ease, and give over caring for your future well-being. But like the beast that perishes, set your heart upon the things of this life for a little season, and then comes the end; and you who were once called of God to an inheritance in his light, must now have your portion in the utter darkness; and you that were once called to have been a vessel of honor, have now become a vessel of wrath fit for destruction.
Oh! my soul laments the condition of such, and glad would I be if any of these careless professors of truth might be awakened before it is too late; but, however, I am thus far clear of their blood, and if they perish, the fault will be their own.
Secondly. A second thing that lies upon me to warn you all of, my dear Friends, is to watch against the spirit of this world, for fear that it drinks up your spirits too much in an eager and greedy pursuit after the things of this world, which happens to several in several manners to their great hurt and damage; and the snare lies deep and hidden, under a subtle covering. First, it is the duty of every man to take care for his family, and to be diligent in the calling God has set him in, and to improve such opportunities as God pleases to put into his hand. However, here the subtle enemy works to make the care immoderate, to turn the diligence to slavery. The enemy also works to change just improving opportunities which God gives him, to become finding and searching out new opportunities, sometimes by indirect causes, and sometimes to the prejudice of his neighbor. These excessive pursuits are promoted to satisfy a greedy desire heaping up worldly treasure, and through serious pursuit the desire steadily grows; so that in time the increase or decrease of them are the source of his joy and sorrow. Then he is miserable because joy and sorrow are the highest faculties of the mind, and ought to be pitched upon the highest objects, and not upon transitory things under the sun, by which neither love nor hatred can be known. But alas, how are many cast down at losses, and lifted up at profits and gains. Oh my Friends, take heed of this fickle and uncertain state, for while some have too much set their minds after the things of this world, they have erred from the faith, and have placed their trust in uncertain riches; and when they have taken their wings and fled away, their hope has gone with them. Therefore I beseech you, dear Friends, have a care of allowing your spirits to be sharpened and set on edge about these outward things. Take heed of enlarging your trades and traffics beyond your ability, and beyond your capacity, for both these evils have been the ruin of some. Not everyone that has ability, has the capacity for great things; and not everyone that has capacity, has not ability; and where either of these are lacking, such ought to be content with such low and small things as they are capable to manage, and able to reach, and not to bear themselves too much upon the one, and then seek by indirect means to make the other answerable. For no man knows the issue beforehand; and therefore even in these things everyone ought to wait to know the guidance of the Lord, and to be subject unto his will, though in a cross to their own; as the apostle said concerning those who said, We will go to yonder city, and we will buy and sell, and make a profit . These were all lawful things in themselves; yet for this, says he, you ought to have said, if the Lord will. So he that says, I will increase my trade, and enlarge my adventures, that my gain may thereby be enlarged; even in this he ought to say, if the Lord will.
Oh Friends, wait to feel the governing hand of God in these things, to govern you in your affairs, so that he may as really be acknowledged by you, the Lord of earth, as well as heaven, the ruler of your trading and dealings, as well as of your religion and profession.
Thirdly. And, Friends, I desire you to remember, that the crown of our profession was, that our yes was yes, and our no was no, and so it is still with all the faithful followers of the truth. However, too many have let in a false liberty since their first convincement, and have not that respect to their words as they ought to have, to the great dishonor of God, and grief of the righteous, and wounding their own souls. Oh! my Friends, let this be amended by everyone that has been overtaken in it, as you harm the honor of God, your own prosperity, and the good of others. By taking false liberty, many stumbling blocks have been laid in the way of some who have been near to truth, and they have fallen and been lost; but those who laid the stumbling blocks, will not be found clear of their blood in the day of the Lord's inquisition.
Therefore, let all take heed for time to come, to be true to their word. For in a way all who profess truth, pawn it, as much as in them lies, or at least their part in the truth, every time they make their promise, or sign a bill or obligation for any payment to be made at such a time as is mentioned in the said promise, bill, or obligation, and such a one has now no power to dispense with the payment at the time appointed, without the consent of the party to whom he is so engaged; and if he does of himself delay, or deny payment, he forfeits what he pawned, namely his truth. Now which of you having pawned your coat or cloak for the half of the value to redeem it again such a day, or to lose it, would not you be very careful to observe your day? But oh! of how much greater value is this pledge, when truth lies at stake? And I am sure those who truly love it, will have more care of it than of a cloak, coat, or any earthly thing.
Therefore the ways to prevent all such miscarriages, are to be taken notice of; and that in the first place, that none run themselves into necessities by indirect courses, as by an overcharging themselves in trading, nor in overbuying more than they are able to compass, nor by surety,* which guarantees a supposed debt, though uncertain, and therefore the more dangerous, because it may come upon you at unexpected, before you are prepared for it. In wisdom these things should be prevented beforehand.
*A guarantee by one person for the debt incurred by another person, (strongly forbidden by scripture, Prov 22:26).
Also everyone that upon a just occasion does borrow,* and does pass his word upon the reputation of truth, by promise, bill or obligation, ought at the same time to have something in his eye of most certainty, by which he shall be enabled to perform his word, and not to trust to returns of adventures, increase of crops, gains of trade, or others keeping their word with him, or any such like uncertainties. For if any do so, they may be in this snare of being unfaithful to their promise before they are aware. But although there is a kind of uncertainty in all these things below, yet where a man's truth and profession lies thus at pawn, and must be fetched home or forfeited, there ought, as I said before, to be something most certain in such a one's eye, by which he may save his word; as money that he knows to be at his demand, or goods in possession, or lands that are free, and can be engaged if the worst come. For you will find more peace in conscience, and a better answering of truth to make a new engagement of land or goods, than to break an old engagement of your truth and profession.
*Christians are advised Keep out of debt and owe no man anything, except to love one another. Rom 13:8. The only borrowing allowable would be using credit as a convenience of trade, such as taking net 30 terms on an invoice, but with sufficient money in hand to pay. Or, to use a credit card for convenience; but always paying off the monthly balance – thus not debt.
Dear Friends, my heart is very full in this matter, and much I could write of it, but I spare you in love and good will, believing a word to the wise will be sufficient; for if a fool is ground in a mortar, he will not depart from his foolishness. Therefore, dear Friends, be wise in all these things, so that you may not be in bondage and slavery to the things of this life, but may have a dominion and reign over them according to your calling in Christ Jesus, that everyone of you may wear your crown, and none may have cause justly against any of you, to say, such a one's yes is no. For then he takes your crown and your pledge, which is hard to gain again. Oh Friends, I write these things to you in true love, and in a holy respect unto the holy name of God, that is made known among us. Therefore let not an evasive wisdom rise up against this word of exhortation to apply it wrongfully; but in love and meekness let it be received, as from one that travails for your prosperity, and warns you of the snares of your souls' enemy.
Fourthly. Friends, the next thing that lies upon me, is in respect unto such as have been brought up and educated among us, and are grown up, and do make profession of the same way and truth in which they have been educated. May all such may take heed that they rest not in a bare educational form of the truth, without having regard to their inward travail of the soul, and to their growth in the power of godliness. For the snares of their souls' enemy lie deep in this matter, and his working is to draw their minds into the world, while their bodies and their public profession remain among Friends; and to keep them at ease and liberty from the daily cross, and from the crucifying power, by which they should travail to subdue that nature in themselves that has grown up in their youth, as well under this profession as under any other, where the power is not minded diligently. By this means many are and remain unfitted for the testimony of truth, lacking to be rooted and grounded in it, through an experiential warfare in their own particulars. For, my Friends, I say unto you in the word of the Lord, "Except you are born again, you cannot see the kingdom of God;" and if you cannot see that, what value is in what you see? For all sight, vision, and opening of things will not save nor deliver your souls in the day of trial that will come upon you for the trial of your faith. Then if your faith stands only in words and terms, though the words are true, yet it will fail you in that day, and you will not be able to stand. Therefore, dear Friends, sink down in lowliness and humility, and wait to feel the power revealed in you, which was revealed in us in the beginning. Join your minds to it, in a living faith, that you may come to experience its condemning power, to judge every vain thought and exalted desire, and every idle word and evil action. So that by the pure judgment of truth you may come to witness a cleansing and a subduing of that nature that lusts in disobedience of the righteous law of God in your hearts. As that nature is kept under the daily cross, it will weaken and die daily in you; and the weaker it is made, the more you will feel of the powerful quickenings of the word of God in your souls, and a tender life will spring up in you, to your great comfort, which will be affectionately careful for the glory of God, and of the honor and reputation of your profession. As you join with this life, you will be acquainted with the travails of the true Zion, the mother of us all, who brings forth only through deep exercises. Although this will take you off from the delights, pleasures, and loftiness of this world, yet the end will repay all your sorrow and travail. For this will bring you to know the worth of truth, and teach you to set a value upon it, and upon every testimony of it, beyond all transitory and fading things; whereas others who have lightly come by their profession, will lightly esteem it, and lightly let it go again. Therefore, my travail and cry is, that you might be wise unto salvation; and for that end I send this to you that you might be brought to try your foundations, everyone in yourselves, before it is tried for you; for then it will be too late to come to the true foundation, or at least it will be through greater hardship. When the cry at midnight is heard, and the time of entrance comes, it will be too late to buy oil to your lamps, and then such as have a lamp and no oil, will be shut out. Therefore, prize your time, and examine yourselves, what reason you have in yourselves, to make profession of the name and way of God, more than what you have been educated and brought up to it by your parents, guardians, or masters. Have you ever felt the heavenly virtue of it overshadowing your souls? If you have, do you retain and keep the savor of it still upon your spirits? Do you feel yourselves possessed with that awe, fear and reverence of the Lord's presence which the Lord's people felt in the beginning of their day, and the faithful do still feel? Is the inward enjoyment of the life of truth a greater joy to you than all your outward enjoyments? If so, then you will not sell it, nor part with it, for anything in this world; and the testimonies which make for the truth, will not be traditional, but from a sensible convincement in themselves, so that they will be able to say: These things have we received from the Lord, and they are the testimonies of God manifested to us in the light of his son Christ Jesus, in whom we have believed. Oh Friends, how will this drive back the storm of temptations that will come, both inwardly and outwardly, in a time of trouble? How many are there who, for want of this experiential assurance in themselves, have been brought to great questionings and doubtings, and knew not where to go, backward or forward. Many have halted and staggered, and some have fallen, and rise no more, to the ruin of themselves and others. Therefore, my dear Friends, trust not to the resolutions of your own spirits, without a sense of the power, nor to a receiving the truth by your education, but all wait to be made living and true witnesses of the rising of the power in your own hearts, and the carrying on of the work of the power in yourselves, to the regenerating you, and bringing you to that birth that trusts in nothing but in the Lord alone, and has him for its support in the greatest exercises. Then shall you stand and remain, and be a generation chosen of God, to bear his name and testimony, and to commit it to the next generation.
Fifthly. And, Friends, let the brotherly love that was sown in your hearts, as a precious seed in your first convincement, continue and increase daily, that as you are made partakers of one hope of salvation in Christ Jesus, so you may continue of one mind and heart, according to the working of his Spirit in you; having a tender respect one for another, as children of one father, and as such as feed at one table. For Christ has ordained, and does ordain in all his churches, that we should love one another, that we should shun all occasions of offence and grief, that we should walk orderly, and as becomes his holy gospel; that we may be an honor to the gospel and a strength and comfort to one another. This is our great ordinance, our new commandment, which was also from the beginning, and will always abide the same through all generations. Therefore, my Friends and brethren, let the fruits of sincere and brotherly love abound among you both in word and deed, and let none be lacking in fulfilling the law of love, without which all profession will be but like sounding brass, or a clanging cymbal.
But if this law is kept to, the life of religion will be felt, and by it each one will be taught their duty and charge concerning another; and know how to comfort in charity, to admonish in love, to reprove in love, and also to receive all these in love. This will exclude forever all whispering and tale-bearing, and bring everyone to deal plainly and uprightly with everyone, not allowing sin to rest upon the soul of your brother, but to deal with him quickly, plainly and tenderly, even as you yourself would be dealt with. However this kind of dealing is received, you shall not miss of your reward, but your peace will remain with you. For while Friends' eyes are fixed upon the power of God, as their guide and leader in all these things, and their design is simply God's glory, the clearing their own consciences, and the good of their brother, they will not be discouraged in their undertakings. For they know the power will certainly come over whatever opposes it, and this will keep your minds quiet and free from disturbances, when you see men, and things, and parties arise against the power, knowing that the power is an everlasting rock. But as for those things that appear against it, they are but for a season, in which season patience must be exercised, and the counsel of wisdom stood in, and then you will be kept from staggering, or from scattering by all the fair shows the spirit of opposition can make.
For those who do enjoy the life and substance, and feed daily of the bread that comes down from heaven, have a quick sense and discerning of things that are presented to them, and do know those who are of the earth earthly, by their earthly savor, from those who are of the heavenly with their heavenly savor. They know what feeds the head and the wit, and carnal reason, and what will nourish the immortal soul; and so come to be fixed, and are not ready to feed upon unsavory food, nor to be easily tossed, nor to be troubled at evil tidings. Nor can they be drawn after one thing or man by an affection, nor set against another man or thing by a prejudice. The true balance of a sound judgment, settled in the divine knowledge, according to the measure that the Father has bestowed, keeps such steady in their way, both in respect to their own testimony and conduct, and also in respect to their dealing with others. Oh, my dear Friends, in such does the truth shine, and such are the true followers of Christ; and they are worthy to be followed, because their way is as a shining light, shining on towards the perfect day. And in this sure and steady way, my soul's desire is, you and I may walk, and continue walking, unto the end of our days, in all sobriety, truth, justice, righteousness and love, as good examples in our day, and comfortable precedents in our end, to those who shall remain. So that we may deliver over all the testimonies of our Lord Jesus unto the succeeding generations, as pure, as certain, and as innocent as we received them in the beginning; and in the end of all our labors, travels, trials and exercises, may lay down our heads in that Sabbath of rest that remains always for the Lord's people.
This is the breathing desire that lives in me, for all you who have believed in our Lord Jesus Christ, in whose name, and in the sense of his power, and of the life he has revealed in every member of his whole body, I salute you all, and bid you farewell.
A Joint Letter Describing the Abuses Suffered by Quakers from the Ministerial Scholars at a Meeting in Cambridge.
Soon after the restoration of King Charles the Second, a letter was presented to him, subscribed by nine and twenty sufferers at a meeting in Cambridge on the 2d of the fifth month 1660, which, giving a just Idea of the continuance of the persecution there, and of the Christian plainness and simplicity of address then used by them to persons in the highest authority, is as follows:
To King Charles the Second
We are not a people forward to complain without great cause, nor backward or unwilling to abide the good pleasure of the Lord, in filling up the measure of the afflictions of Christ in our bodies, while others are filling up the measure of their sins. But the things that have lately happened to us at Cambridge, being altogether contrary to your Declarations for Freedom and Protection, to those who submit to your government and live in peace, and much to the dishonor of your royal engagement particularly made to us, your authority being pretended for the foulest misdemeanors and highest insolences, whereby you may be abused as well as we, as declaring for one thing and intending another, and much evil may proceed if such things are allowed. Therefore we would not hide it from the King, so that a remedy may be had against such presumptuous offenders, or at least the like prevented for the time to come, that the judgments of God, may, if possible, be diverted, that are ready to fall upon this nation, without speedy repentance and reformation, for the wrong done unto his children and servants, and you may be preserved in the evil day from the wrath of the Lamb, who is making war with the nations, and passing his dreadful doom and sentence upon the whore, the false prophet, and throne of the beast.
Be it known unto you, O King, that on the 2nd day of the fifth month, as we were gathering together to a general meeting, at the usual place there, being our own hired house, a tumult of scholars, lewd women, townsmen, and boys, gathered also about the meeting-place like the men of Sodom; not content with the former injuries, insolences, and indignities, acted and expressed toward the Lamb's followers about a month before, neither ashamed nor afraid to do the same things again, though the heads and governors both of town
and university were made acquainted with the former riot, but rather encouraged, in that their deserved punishment was delayed. Some of them prepared with excess of drink, that they might forget all humanity, and show no mercy, allowed none to pass there without some abuse or other, stopping and thrusting us to and fro, throwing some down, or throwing dirt or filth upon their clothes, or in their faces; and also beating some back again, and not allowing them to go into the meeting, mingling much scoffing, reviling, and threatening, with the rest of their misusages; and not ceasing there, fell upon us in our peaceable meeting, as we were waiting upon the Lord in fear, striking at those they could reach, flinging at others, and making an hideous noise, with scoffing, laughing, railing, shouting, knocking, drumming upon the boards, and sometimes throwing wildfire (burning naphtha) and gunpowder into the meeting, to drown the sound of what was spoken to us in the name of the Lord, and continually exercising themselves in one act of mischief or other, to make a disturbance, and weary us out of the place; and when they saw they could not do it by all those means, they broke and battered down the doors and walls next to the street with bolt-hammers and other engines, and though we reminded them of the King's Declaration, wherein he promised liberty to tender consciences, at his first coming into England, and showed them the unlawfulness of their doings, assaulting, breaking in upon us, and beating us in our own hired house; they called us rebels, and pretended the King's order for what they did, and ran violently upon us, and used us as if our lives were all at their mercies, dragging, thrusting us out, and striking both men and women (though not lifting up an hand against them) without any pity or respect to age or other condition, with clubs, great splinters, and pieces of the doors and other timber. And though those who entered the house beat us with so much cruelty, yet would not their outer guard let us pass, till they also had satisfied their bloody minds in beating us again, so that very many of us were sorely hurt and bruised. Twenty-two had their blood shed; one so lamed that he was left behind unable to walk abroad, and a woman almost killed by their cruel usage; and besides this, some of us lost our hats, and many of us had our clothes torn and much bespattered and daubed. And yet our persecutors were not satisfied with all this. When they had driven us from the house, and cleared the streets of us, they returned and quite battered down the rest of the walls and bays on each side of the meeting-house, next two entries, and laid it all open to the streets, then sought and hunted up and down the meeting-house again for us, and those who they jumped on very much abused, and assaulted in the alderman's house where some of us lodged. They beat the man of the house at his own door, and departed not so long as it was light.
We whose names are hereunto subscribed were sufferers, and are witnesses that these things are true before written.
John Moone, William Pepper, John Ainsloe, John Parker, John Webb, Daniel Ward, George Clark, John Forster, Henry Marshall, John Adams, Jeremy Herne, Stephen Crisp, Gregory Tingy, Daniel Wallis, Benjamin Lunt, William Turner, Giles Fisher, William Witham, Philip Williamson, Jeremy Wood, Josiah Cole, John Ostler, William Warbies, Stephen Hart, Thomas Harris, Thomas Payne, James Allen, John Pollard, Thomas Rouse.
Just in case you think this was some isolated incident, click here to read of an even more horrible group of young Satanic ministers at Oxford.
A WORD OF REPROOF TO PRIESTS AND MINISTERS
THIS word is unto you, oh you priests! in vain are all your coverings; for the light of our God is risen, and has discovered you, and his power has rent, and is rending your coverings, and his controversy is proclaimed against you; and he has brought forth his little army, which is little in your eyes, but is a mighty host in the power of his spirit, upon whom he is fulfilling his promise, that one shall chase an hundred, and ten shall put a thousand to flight. As our forefathers did, so do we, in this day of our God, in a spiritual sense, by faith turn to flight the armies of the aliens, and stop the mouths of lions, and obtain promises, etc. You yourselves are witnesses in your practices, who are not able to stand, but often flee, when the life of God rises in any to speak to you, though in contemptible instruments in your eyes, and so have many hundreds of you been put to flight without sword and spear. Then you run from your worship to the house of your armory, where you are fitted with the weapons of the beast's warfare, as whips, stocks, prisons, and such like, in whose army you are found fighting against the Lamb and his army; by whom you shall be overcome, and your carcasses cast into the open field. Now are your works of darkness, and great swelling words of vanity, brought to the light, and there tried and judged, which is our rule to try and judge withal. Seeing you say the scriptures are your rule, whereby things ought to be tried and judged; you and your works shall be tried by the scriptures also, so that you may be condemned by both.
First, You say you are ministers of Christ: no, but you are his ministers whom you serve and obey, and whose work you do. Now sin is the work of the devil, and Christ was made manifest in flesh, to destroy it in the flesh; and you that deny the destruction of sin in this life, you deny it in the flesh; for he that departs this life, goes out of the flesh, and leaves it, and so you deny the work of Christ, whose ministers you say you are; and he is no servant nor minister of Christ, who denies his work. Now read and consider, sin, and the man of it, are against Christ; and the ministers of him who is against Christ always strive to keep up, and to uphold what Christ and his ministers strive to destroy and throw down, which is sin in the flesh;and so here it is plain, that you who strive to uphold sin, uphold Antichrist, whose ministers you are.
Again, Christ said to his ministers: Go you forth, etc. But where is your going forth? when some of you have purchased to yourselves places, and some have gained by flattery, and some do hold by force and tyranny a certain place, circuit or quarter from which you seek your gain, and there, are not ashamed to sue by title, as rector, incumbent, or lecturer of such a place. Oh horrible! that ever such should say they were ministers of Christ! Yes, and some of you can boast and glory in your shame, saying in your declarations, you have been there in such a place some twenty, some thirty, some forty years. Was ever such a thing heard of concerning any of the ministers of Christ? Were not they approved in their ministry, by trials, by travels, by hardships and dangers, both by sea and land, in want, in heaviness, etc. But you have chosen the pleasures of sin, and to live at ease in the flesh; but destruction and misery shall overtake you in a day when you are not aware, who will not be warned.
Again, Christ said to his ministers: All power is given unto me, and I am with you. He did not say, all power is given unto me, and I will give it to the magistrates; and if any come to oppose you or your doctrine, go to him, he shall defend you. They had the witness in themselves, and the power was with them, and is with them to the end of the world, which stops the mouths of opposers. This power is the power of Christ, which the ministers of Christ have according to promise; and the power of Antichrist, the ministers of Antichrist have, which is manifest in persecuting, in violence, in tumults, and such like; which power is your defense, who say, you are ministers of Christ, and are not; but are ministers of Antichrist, and so proved liars and condemned, and witnessed against, both in the light and by the scriptures.
Secondly, You say you preach the gospel.
No, that is not the gospel of Christ you preach, but another, which he that brings is accursed; for the gospel of Christ is the power of God unto salvation to those who believe. But what you preach is not so; no, not to those who believe it, who preach that they cannot be saved [delivered from sin]. So if they believe what you declare, they must believe they cannot be saved (from the slavery of sin) while in this life. So it is not the power nor gospel of Christ which you preach, but the power of darkness to keep all in death out of the faith, which gives victory, and through which the creature comes to know the gospel, and the power which saves and redeems up to God.
Again, the gospel is everlasting, and none can preach it, but those who have received it. You whose knowledge stands in carnal arts and sciences, and inventions, which came in time, and must perish in time, your knowledge cannot receive the everlasting gospel, when it is preached unto you, much less preach it unto others. In that knowledge you corrupt yourselves and others and are like to perish in your corruption together, except you turn to the light which was before corruption, that it may show you corruption, and lead you out of corruption, that you perish not. For to such as are in the perishing way which is corrupt, the everlasting gospel is hidden.
Again, what you preach, is not free nor without charge; but the gospel was so, and is so. As long as the force and violence, and pride and covetousness are found among you, which make what you preach burdensome and chargeable to the people, cease calling it the gospel of Christ; for if you do call it so, the light in all consciences condemns you, and the practice of Christ's apostles condemns you, and the scriptures declare against you, and your condemnation is just, and shall abide forever.
Thirdly, You say you preach the Truth.
No, that is not the Truth you preach, for it sets none free; for many have abode in your doctrine and worship a long time, some twenty, some forty, and some sixty years, and yet are not set free. But you have brought them to believe that they cannot be freed, and so have caused them to err from the right path. Such may die in their iniquities; but their blood will be required at your hands, who have beguiled and deceived them.
But Christ Jesus, the Light of the World, who lights every man that comes into the world, that all men through him might believe, he said, If you abide in the Truth, the Truth shall set you free. He is the Light, the true Light, and the Truth that sets free; and you who deny the light that lights every man that comes into the world, and yet say you preach the Truth, you are liars, and the lake is your portion except you repent.
Again, What you preach you sell, and so are declared against expressly in scripture, seeing you say you preach the Truth; for what does it says? Buy the Truth, and sell it not. Read your condemnation, all you who make bargains for what you call Truth; and let the light in your own consciences judge, whether you do not deny scripture, yes or no.
Fourthly, You say, he who preaches the gospel, ought to live of the gospel.
I answer, he unto whom the gospel of Christ is committed to preach, none can hinder him of living of it; for it is his life, and he needs not an outward law to hold up his livelihood. Neither did any that ever preached the gospel make use of any such power. Their power they had, and they have alone from Christ Jesus, both for the inward and outward support. Have we not power to eat? Have we not power to drink, says the apostle, who was a minister of Christ? But he did not have power to make bargains with any people for a certain establishment of a sum of money, and then to seek for an augmentation besides, as some of you do, and then to sue at law for default of payment; and if it were paid, then to spend it in voluptuousness upon his lust as you do; some in the lust of drunkenness and gluttony, and some in pride, in satisfying your lusts in clothes and in building, and some in covetousness, making a god of money. So you have chosen to yourselves gods which shall perish with you, and they shall not save you; but your nakedness and your shame the light has discovered, who have refused to be covered by it; and while you live in pride and gluttony, in envy and covetousness, in strife and contention, this is not to live of the gospel, but this is the fruit of the corrupt tree which is for the fire.
[Yes, the Lord will be sure that his true ministers will receive their living from the gospel and are provided with their material needs, but not by asking for money and/or asking for tithes which died with the Levitical priesthood along with the Law. The grateful recipients of their words of Truth spoken from the Spirit of God, would supply their needs by unsolicited gifts. Compared to the spiritual benefits which the people received from the true ministers of Christ, it was a small matter if they reaped carnal things as free gifts. Paul states he would not take any money, even unsolicited gifts, because he 'would put up with anything, rather than hinder the gospel.' He did later accept two unsolicited gifts, for which he was thankful and said he had been in great need.]
Fifthly, You say, the laborer is worthy of his hire.
Yes, but he must have it of him who sets him to work, and has profit by his work. Now he that works for one man, and would have hire of another, who set him not on work, this is unreasonable; and so is it for a man to exact wages for his work, when none has profit by his work, as is seen at this day among you priests, who are out of the reasonableness and good order, which most men besides yourselves are in, in this respect.
[Luke 10:1-8 is the source of we have the account of Jesus sending disciples out with additional information. Jesus said:
And stay on in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer is worthy of his wages. Do not keep moving from house to house.
Whenever you go into a town and they receive and accept and welcome you, eat what is set before you.
So here Jesus says, eat and drink what they provide, because the laborer is worthy of his wages. What they provide is the wages that Christ allows; eat what is set before you. This is not justification for asking or charging people for their work; or even providing any mechanism for a collection box, nor a click thru for donations, or love-gifts.]
Therefore be ashamed and amend your ways, and labor with your hands the thing that is good, that you may come to eat of the fruit of your labor, and be satisfied; and be not always like the greedy dumb dogs that can never have enough. For now is the day come which has declared your work, and you are comprehended and fathomed, and measured with an equal line, and your coverings are too narrow, and the feet of your image is smitten, and the stone is increasing to fill the whole earth; and then shall not your place be found, and the recompense of your labor will be destruction, woe and misery, which you shall receive of the hands of the righteous God, the judge of heaven and earth, who will judge every one of you according to your doing; and then shall all your hard speeches which you have uttered against the innocent, be returned into your own bosoms, and you shall know that you were warned, and the light in your consciences shall in that day testify unto God's righteousness in your destruction.
This is given forth from the spirit of Truth, for the manifesting and rebuking of the spirit of error, and written in obedience to the commandment of the Lord in the year accounted, 1657.
A DESCRIPTION OF THE CHURCH OF SCOTLAND: With a Word of Reproof to the Priests and Teachers and Officers therein, for their many corrupt doctrines and practices; also a warning, and general invitation to all people, that live under their tyrannical government, to come to the Truth, which will free them from the bondage they have long lain under; and to the Light which will show them the way to escape being longer partakers of their sins; and so they shall escape being partakers of the plagues which shall shortly be poured forth without mixture upon them, which continue in their ungodly deeds and works of darkness, in rebellion against the Light that makes them manifest.
Herein is their Church made manifest: 1. In its Foundation. 2. Its members in which it is built. 3. In its officers. 4. In its Doctrines, of God, of God's Word, of Faith, and of Election. 5. In its Ordinances of Baptism and the Lord's Supper, (as they call them.) 6. In its Discipline.
With an exhortation to all people to come out from among them, to what makes them manifest, which is the true Light that lights every Man that comes into the world.
Written in love to the simple-hearted in that nation, and in witness of the Truth, and in Testimony against the False Teachers, and their false Doctrines, Ways, and Worships; by one who desires that People might be brought to the Truth in their inward parts, to worship God in that, by the leading of his own Spirit, so that they might be accepted; who am known among men by the name of Stephen Crisp.
TO the several presbyters in Scotland and to every member of them, and to the Scottish church in general is this directed, and sent as a word of reproof and warning from him who is the head of the true church, which is pure and undefiled, and sent by, and given through his servant, who being a member of that church, and participating of the power and wisdom of the head, according to the proportion of a member, does thereby comprehend your church, of which I am not a member; and in obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ, the true head, do hereby reprove you of your adultery and hypocrisy, and several other spots and wrinkles that are in and upon your church, which now with the light are made manifest. In the fear and name of the Lord, I do warn you to return, and come to what makes manifest and makes clean, before you be cast upon the bed of misery and perpetual sorrow with Babylon your mother, and Jezebel your prophetess, by the power of whose sorceries and enchantments, in and among her merchants and disciples, many poor people in this nation are seduced and deceived, and kept from the anointing, which teaches freely the Truth, which no lie is of, nor springs from. Those whom you keep from this which teaches freely so that they might buy or hire teaching of you, among whom they are ever learning, and never learned, nor brought to know the Truth which makes them free that abide in it, these I say, can never know the true church which is the ground of Truth, in which none can be pillars, but such as overcome sin, and transgression and death which entered thereby, and came over all men; in which state God's church is not. There are only two states, namely, the state of sin and transgression, the wages of which is death; and the state of redemption from sin, which is through the power of the resurrection from the dead, which is the state of the church. Between these two states is an absolute antipathy [intense aversion] for those who are in the transgression, are not in the church, for then it would be spotted; and those who are in the church, are not in the transgression, because the church is in God where transgression cannot be. Those who are held in sin and death, are not risen from the dead, and those who are made partakers of the resurrection and life, which is Christ, are not held in sin; but the same power that raised up Jesus from the dead, raised them from the power of sin and death. Being thus raised, makes them members of the church, which is pure and undefiled, which is separated from sinners and from sin, by the mighty operation of the cross, which is the power of God, by which we are translated from death to life, from sin to righteousness, from being members of the harlot and her church, to be members of Christ and his church; and this is the church which we own and witness.
Now as concerning your church, I have not a few things against it, but even many, wherein you are to be reproved, and must be amended or rather changed, before you can justly be called and accounted the church of Christ, or any part thereof. Therefore listen a while and give attention, you priests and presbyters of Scotland, who have a long time been talking of reforming, and amending, and purging, and making clean your church; and I will declare unto you your way which you ought to take, to accomplish what you so much pretend for, and cannot yet accomplish, nor indeed ever can, till that be removed, which has and does hinder a right and thorough reformation.
Now the first thing in your church, that is presented to my understanding, to be reproved, is its foundation upon which it is built, which is not the same as the church of Christ was, and is built upon, as will thus appear.
The foundation of your church is what stands in the fleshly part of man; namely, forms and names of the things the saints wrote of, without the power, which are attainable by the fleshly wisdom of this world, by which God is not known, nor the body which is the church discerned; but he who repeats the words that the spoke, although he is out of their life, yet such are accounted fit members of your church; and of such members, and upon this foundation is your church built, the saints' words being the chief cornerstone thereof. But Christ said, he would build his church upon what the knowledge of, came not by flesh nor blood, but by revelation from God his Father which is in heaven; as you may read in Matt 16:17-18. And this is the rock which is now made manifest by revelation, through the Spirit, which thing you deny to be in these days; and so are not built upon what comes to be known so, but upon what the knowledge of comes by flesh and blood; and you that have laid another foundation for your church, than what is by revelation, your foundation must be razed, and your church must fall, the pillars whereof are already shaken, and shall shortly be removed.
Therefore come all to the true foundation, which was and is the foundation of the true church, which is Christ, the Son of the living God, who is the light of the world, and lights every man that comes into the world with the true light; and let that be the beginning and foundation of your building, and what will stand forever. This was before transgression was, and before will-worship was, against this the gates of hell cannot prevail.
This is the corner-stone which you builders have rejected, and do still reject, [the Light,] and so rejecting it, are building Babylon, as it were, which is now confounding; and you are put to a stop, and can proceed no further; for the people see your confusion in many parts of the nation, and begin to love and embrace those whom you have cast out of your church, who have the Light for their foundation, which answers the witness of God in all; and whoever builds, and not on this, their building shall come to nothing, and the builders shall be ashamed, for what should uphold them, will come a-top of them, and break them to pieces.
The next thing reprovable in your Scottish church, is what composes it. In this also are you contrary to the true church, the spouse of Christ; for your church is composed of evil and ungodly men and women, whose hearts are delighting in ungodly practices, as swearing, and lying, and cozening, and deceiving, and scoffing, and scorning, yes, in striking and beating the innocent; such is your church made up of. The members are dead stones, whose hearts are hardened, their mouths filled with cursing, and their tongues filled with venom, and their hands filled with violence. These are your materials with which you have built, but the Lord God of light and power, is making you bare and manifest, and by his power is throwing you down, where shame shall cover your church, where the scorners shall be scorned in the day of their calamity, and the strikers shall be stricken with a rod that will break them to pieces. The sword of the Almighty is drawn, and shall wound them in their inward parts, that have wounded his children in their outward bodies, and grieved his Holy Spirit; and then shall howling and lamentation come upon your church, but there shall be none to pity; for the double reward of your doings to God's children, shall shortly come upon you, and that is the word of the Lord to you.
But if you demand, how is all this proved that your church is composed and made up of such persons as these? I answer, I prove it thus, not only by the hearing of the ear, nor by what I have seen of you in the eternal light of the Son of God before my coming among you; but also being an eye witness of your behavior towards me, who, when I have in obedience to God, and love to your souls, only proclaimed the fear of God among you, in one of your mass-houses or markets. What an offence has it been counted by you, who are of the Scottish Presbyterian church, some crying kick him, kick him, knock him down. Such like language and usage have I and many of my brethren and sisters found among you; as in particular the behavior of the people of Dalkieth, on the 13th of the ninth month, 1659, may witness; where, had not the soldiers appeared as a stop to your murderous purposes against me, your works of mischief had more appeared; but your spirit is seen and known to be of one nature with the scarlet-colored whore, who thirsts after, and is drunk with the blood of the saints. Besides, there needs no greater proof of this charge against your church, than what has and does proceed out of your own mouths, who are daily confessing yourselves to be such kind of people, and so are judged out of your own mouths, as all such slothful servants ever were. Does not your priest say that you are all going astray, every one after the lusts of his own heart, and have forsaken God the fountain of living waters, and dug to yourselves cisterns that can hold no water, and that your hearts are estranged from God, regarding lying vanities? Many such like things might be mentioned from your own mouths, the breath whereof as fire shall devour you. Now if it is not so, why do you say so, lying against your own souls? If it is so, how can your church be the church of God, pure and undefiled, unspotted, and without wrinkle, or any such thing? Answer for yourselves, or cease from deceiving yourselves and others with the name, church of God, for with him dwells no iniquity.
Now if the Light were the foundation, then would none be counted fit members of your church but such as walked in it; and so your fellowship would stand in the Light as the true church-fellowship did and does; but evil doers, as scoffers, liars, proud, covetous persons, strikers, fierce despisers, railers and persecutors, such hate the Light, and deny and reject it, and so may be continued in your church-fellowship, which is in sin for the duration of your lives, and shall be continued in the inheritance of utter darkness in the end, where shall be weeping and wailing, and gnashing of teeth forever.
Another thing reprovable in your church, is the officers thereof, they being in all things contrary to the qualifications signified by the scriptures of truth; as you might well see, if the God of this world, the prince of darkness, had not blinded your eyes, a little of the disproportion between them, and the officers spoken of in the scriptures. For sake of the simple, who desire to be informed, I shall instance; and first of all concerning your presbyters. For the presbytery which the scriptures speak of, who laid their hands on Timothy, 1 Tim 4:14, were such with whom was the power of God, as was manifest by Timothy's receiving a gift by the laying on of their hands, who had received the gift of God themselves, and had also received power to communicate the same; but you who are proud men, and covetous men, who usurp authority, and presume to be called by the name, and deny that power to exist with you, or anyone else, or that any can be immediately called or gifted for the ministry. You are of that sort mentioned in Titus 1:16, who profess you know God, but in works deny him, being abominable and disobedient, and to every good work reprobate; for these qualifications belong to men such as you profess yourselves to be, which I shall set down, and then let all sober people judge, whether you are void of them, yes or no.
1. They ought to be blameless, and whether you are so or not, be your own judges, who say, none can live without sin, and so consequently not without blame, for all sin is blamable; so in this particular you have excluded yourselves. Then watchful; but what do you watch for? Except it is opportunity to promote your corrupt honor, or to augment and exact your ungodly gain. Then of good behavior, that is not to rail, and to curse, and to stir up people to tumults, and to stoning those who are not of your judgment; this is evil behavior. Then given to hospitality; as to this, let the poor people who in your parishes go in cold and hunger, while you live in fullness and idleness, bear witness against you. Then apt to teach. In this also are you far short, who must take a week's time to study, to teach the people two or three hours, and yet cannot get your devised studied stuff to hold together, but while one principle is confirmed, it may be the same day, or shortly after, that you will deny again. Then not given to wine, nor a striker. How many of you have been guilty of drunkenness and striking, and setting others to strike would be too tedious to mention here; but who desires to be informed of them and their manners, let them in sincerity take notice of them, and they shall come to understand their spirit; also some of their works of this nature, are already printed and presented to public view. Then not greedy of filthy lucre. In this particular, how far your greediness has appeared beyond all that have gone before you, let the sufferings of them, who for conscience sake, could not put into your mouths, bear witness against you. Again says the apostle in1 Tim 3:7, he must have a good report of those who are without; but how far are you short of this, who cannot keep up a good name among them of your own church, but your covetousness and deceit are manifest among them; notwithstanding your tyranny does much stop their mouths, and blind their eyes, that they yet see not so much of your deceit, as shortly they will come to see.
But in brief, the description of the church officers in the whole scriptures of the apostles, is that they be blameless; which you say none now can be; and that they be filled with the Holy Ghost, and with faith; which you say they cannot be; for sin must have a room in them, then they cannot be filled with the other. That they hold the mystery of faith in a pure conscience, which you say they cannot do, for some sin must remain, and that defiles the conscience. That they should be gentle towards all men, in meekness, instructing those who oppose themselves; but out of this and all these qualifications you being found, your officiating must be like your officers, and your officers are like the members, a body fit for destruction together, which the Lord is appearing against in his mighty power, to cut off head and tail, root and branch together.
2. The doctrines of your church also are reprovable and corrupt in many things, contrary to the scriptures. First in your doctrines of God, whom you say is to be known and believed on, as in the distinguishing of three persons; and herein you teach contrary to the scriptures of Truth, which you say is your rule, and by it are all such dreamers and deceivers judged, and by the spirit which gave them forth, which speaks nowhere of three persons, as you imagine and teach, but declares of the only wise God, who is one in his being and substance individual, infinite, who divides all things, and to every sort their portion, who limits all things, and is not limited; whose power and spirit is inseparable from him, who is the Father of the spirits of all flesh, who by his power creates, and by his spirit quickens, all living creatures, whose power is the Christ, and whose spirit is the holy and eternal life which they partake of, who wait for his appearance in his power; and these do not the scriptures call three persons, but the one witness in the heaven which you are all ignorant of, who dream and divine to the people, of a distinguishing of persons in the Godhead; therefore cease your deceit you deceivers and soothsayers of Egypt, and come to the light that shines in the heart, that by it you may come to the true knowledge of God your Creator, and of his power by which you were created, and of his spirit by which he quickens into newness of life, all those who fear him, and wait for his salvation, which now by the light is making manifest.
3. Your doctrine concerning the word of God, is altogether reprovable, who teach people to believe, that that is the word of God that can be bought and sold for money, and the knowledge thereof attained by human learning, namely, the scriptures, or outward writings of the prophets and apostles. The scriptures, (the Bible), you say is the word of God, and those who say otherwise you say must be cursed. But will not this return upon your own heads, who preach contrary to the scriptures, which says Christ is the word of God? Now if he is the word of God, then the scriptures are not, unless the scriptures are Christ, which if you think they are, declare your meaning plainly; and if you know any other Christ than the scriptures, then call Him the word of God, and call the scriptures a declaration, according as they are called by those who wrote them, who knew the word of God itself. which you being ignorant of, have as it were changed the glory of the incorruptible and immortal word of God which abides forever, into the similitude of writings, which had a beginning in time, and must come to an end. In the end shall you know the word of God to be what searches your hearts, and judges your ungodly thoughts and purposes; this shall abide with you in the end, for this was in the beginning, which the scriptures were not, and this is it by which the scriptures and all other things came to have a being; so that if the scriptures must be called the word of God, because the word came to the saints and told them to write them, or make books thereof; then, may not Noah's ark, or Solomon's temple, or the priests garments, or any other thing of the like nature, be called the word of God, because by it they were commanded to make them? And furthermore, what is the word of God, is what was made flesh; and if you can tell how or when the scriptures were made flesh, then declare it, or else let that be called the word of God henceforth, that did become flesh. Again, without the word was nothing made that was made; and if the scriptures are this word, then declare to us how you know that they were before the creation; for what makes, must exist before the things that by it are made. Further the word of God, says the apostle is quick and powerful, and sharper than a two-edged sword, dividing between the soul and the spirit. But if this is the scriptures, then tell us what is the reason that your souls are not thereby divided from the spirit of iniquity and deceit that rules over them? But you imagine that death only can make that division, as if death were more powerful than the word of God. Oh you blind and ignorant priests and people! How long will you regard lying vanities, expecting life where it is not to be had, and like the Pharisees of old, think to have eternal life in the scriptures, but will not come to Christ whose life is your light? Turn your minds into your own hearts, and feel if God's word, which is as a hammer, is not striking at some or other of your sins and corruptions, and wait then to feel the sharpness of it, to cut and divide you from your sins, so that you may witness the word in your flesh, and not in a book, to destroy the works of the devil, that the word in the heart you may know, which lives and abides forever, when that by it is destroyed, which cannot abide forever, which is your sin, which hitherto has separated you from the knowledge of God and of his powerful word.
4. Your doctrine of faith is reprovable, and you in it found contrary to the true ministers of Christ; for you preach that faith cannot be without sin; and you say it is heresy and error in any to say that it can. Now this I say, if you knew the true faith which is saving, you would see that it is contrary in all things to sin, and would know, that instead of an impossibility to separate them, it would be impossible to unite them. For faith says the scriptures is the gift of God, and the gift of God is perfect, and God and his gift has no concord with sin, but gives the true believer victory over it.
But as for your faith which you say cannot be without sin, it is therewith corrupted, and is not the like precious faith which the saints obtained, by which they wrought righteousness, and were accepted with the Lord, without which it is impossible for you to please him, though you perform never so many performances; for this faith which is mixed with sin, which is the faith of the church of Scotland, is not that by which the just live, but among you who profess this faith, is the just slain in your own particulars, by the sin which you continue in, and say you must continue in as long as you live. So you are far short of the saints hope, which brought them to purify themselves as God is pure, and your faith, and hope, and confidence, which are thus mixed with sin and unrighteousness, are excluded from leading any of you into the inheritance of the promise, which is eternal life; for it is the feigned or made faith, which hardens the heart, and continues you in the transgression, and begets in you a bold confidence in your dark imaginations, which shortly shall fail you, and you shall be stripped of your faith and hope, and be left naked, to your perpetual shame and confusion. Therefore all that desire to come to the true faith which gives victory over the world, and what is in the world, they must first come to what true faith is placed in, which is the light wherein Christ Jesus has enlightened every one that comes into the world; and that all men through him might believe. Christ himself said that they should believe in the light; and this is it which does secretly make manifest and reprove the works of darkness, which are done out of the faith, and are displeasing to God. Whoever believes in this light, must believe against sin and the power of it, and so as they abide steadfast in the faith, watchful to that in which they have believed, then the power of this faith comes to be felt in the creature, that as they have believed against sin, so they come to receive power against sin. For according unto their faith, so it happens to them, and according unto your faith who believe you can never be made free from your sins, so also will it happen unto you. So long as you abide in that belief, you shall abide servants of sin, and so absent from righteousness.
5. Concerning election; and herein have you erred exceedingly from the Truth, and with the Truth ought you to be reproved and judged, who hold forth in your church that God has respected a certain number of persons to himself, without cause or quality in them seen or considered, and that these he has elected unto salvation, by an unalterable decree, that they shall be saved from the wrath of God, and that all the rest are under an irrevocable decree of damnation; for when no way of salvation is left, nor any effectual means found for the salvation of them; that doctrine is not of God, but of your father the devil, who was a liar from the beginning; if he tells a lie, it is of himself, but if you tell a lie it is of him. From him has this doctrine sprung, who rules in the kingdom of darkness, and desires that none might come to the knowledge of the Truth, nor be saved; and so has set you to preach this doctrine outwardly unto ignorant people, who generally have believed it, while he in the mea time is secretly suggesting in some of them, that they are elected, and so whatever sin they live in, cannot mar their election, seeing it is without condition or qualification, and man's works cannot alter nor change God's decrees. Many similar reasonings as this learn are learned from the deceiver within, and from the deceivers without. The deceiver is also persuading others that they are not elected, but are of the greater number, which the priests say, no salvation nor redemption is for; and so they may take their course, and spend their time in pleasure, for they are destined to go to hell in the end; and all their godliness and soberness, and strictness, and abstinence from pleasure, and whatever they can do, cannot change the purpose of God concerning their damnation. So by these and such similar means and instruments does the devil uphold his kingdom, and keep you from preaching Him, or believing on Him, who is the way to the Father, Christ Jesus, the Light of the World, who lights every man with the true light, with which he may see what was wrought in darkness, which is the reprobate state, and be led out of it according to Christ's words, who said, I am the light of the world, he that believeth on me, shall not abide in darkness, but shall have the light of life. He did not say if the elect believe on me, rathe "he that," a general term to every one that comes into the world, and is enlightened with this true light; and this is the love of God to the sons and daughters of men, who wills not the death of those who do die, [mark] they are reprobated that do die; but God wills it not, but rather that they should turn and live. But you that preach this doctrine, you would live without turning, but the sword of the Lord is drawn against your life, and shall cut it off, for it stands but by an imagination of such a decree, as by which sinners might be saved in their sins; and then you shall know, that the way of salvation was set open to you, in that the light shined in your hearts; but you rejecting that way, and seeking to establish a way of your own; so you became excluded, and shut out of the kingdom after long talking of it.
Therefore all you people of Scotland, and to whomsoever this shall come, of whatever people or country you are, consider in the fear of God, whether you are lit with a light that makes manifest your evil deeds, and words, and purposes in the secret of your hearts, yes or no. If you find such a thing, then mind diligently its working in you, for in it are the reproofs of instruction, which the scriptures say is the way of life; and the way of life is but one, and having found it, every one in your own particulars, then no longer follow nor hearken to the deceivers, who for a long time have beguiled you, leading you from the Light, the Way, the Truth, and the life of men, and so kept you in death and darkness, where salvation is not to be found. These have told you, that they have preached the gospel to you for the salvation of your souls, and yet tell you also, that as many of you as ever shall be saved, were saved before you were born. Then to what purpose is all their preaching to you, if they cannot convert a reprobate, and an elect person cannot sin unto condemnation; where then is the use of their ministry, for which they receive so many thousands of marks and hundreds of pounds a year? If they answer and say this is the means to gather in those who are elected, I answer, God will not lose any for lack of means, and therefore he has afforded the means freely, without money or price, to all the sons of men; who has so loved the world, that he has given his only begotten Son, a means and a way of salvation, for as many as believe on him. He is the grace by which the saints were and are saved, which appears to all men, and brings salvation near unto all, without respect of persons, who are taught by him to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly and righteously in this present world; but if you still continue to be taught by those who turn the grace of God into wantonness, and despise what shines in the heart, to lead out of sin, which it makes manifest, then shall you perish in your opposition; and in the day of your calamity and misery, you shall know and confess to your unspeakable sorrow and torment, that a prize was put into your hands, and a way of life was declared and made manifest; but you loving your sins and iniquities, your delights and pleasures, which the light and way of life appeared against, were unworthy of this free salvation; and so your condemnation you shall confess to be of yourselves in that day, when God the righteous judge will be clear of all your blood. Then saying God is partly to blame, and man is partly to blame, for men going to hell, will not survive, which one of the chief priests of your Scottish church affirmed, (Henry Foreside, priest of Lingich), but his folly and many such blind guides are now made manifest with the light, which they have risen up against; but they shall not proceed much further, for their skirts are discovered to their shame.
Many more of the doctrines of your church are reprovable, and for condemnation with the light; which light, as the diligent reader comes to mind in its working and breaking forth, he shall see and be able to measure and try your doctrines with, and will be able to comprehend your deceit in many other of your doctrines, which now I am not free to insist upon. As of sanctification, in which you allow an unsanctified part to remain, and so never bring people to know nor to hope for the thorough cleansing, which the saints witnessed, except it is after death, when no such work can be wrought. Also your doctrine of justification in sin will be seen, and God's righteousness will be cleared against your lying and deceit; and also of adoption, and resurrection, and glorification, and what else is preached among you, will be seen with the light, by those who love it, to which I commend them, in whom is sincerity of heart, and shall proceed a little further to your ordinances.
1. And first concerning that rotten tradition which you call an ordinance or baptism, namely, your casting a few drops of water upon the face of an infant of about eight days old; this you call an ordinance, but could never yet find out the institution thereof by Christ nor his disciples, for any sign or signification whatsoever; much less can you prove it to be the one baptism, neither can you prove that ever any such thing was done by any of them. So you have neither precedent nor precept from the holy men of God; and therefore well may I call it a rotten tradition, that has not so much as a precedent to support it, except it is a popish invention, from where it was derived, from the whorish church of Rome, your mother, whom you rail against in words, and obey in her unwarrantable practices, and with her shall you have your portion. Now this conceited charm or trick, of casting a few drops of water upon children's faces, you call baptism, wherein you have proclaimed to all understanding people, that from the greatest of you to the least, you are all ignorant of the baptism of which the scriptures speak, which had a time and service, and ended in what abides forever; and so being ignorant of them, have in their room set up a conceit and tradition, which has not so much as the least ground in the scriptures of Truth, neither is mentioned therein; nor was it invented till many years after; and then it was instituted by the pope, obeyed by the papists, and since continued and observed in your Scottish church, which from there is sprung; but the true baptism is what was instituted by Christ, and is owned and witnessed by the saints, and denied by the Roman and Scottish churches, which baptism is into the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, which name is a strong tower, and all that are baptized into it, find strength in it, and help against temptations; and in the time of trouble, find deliverance by it; and this the saints witnessed, who witnessed the one baptism, by one spirit into one body; for says the apostle in Rom 6:2-4. “For so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ, were baptized into his death, that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life; now in that he died, he died unto sin;” and those who are baptized with the one baptism, they are planted together with Christ in the likeness of his death which is unto sin, verses 4-6, and such also come to partake of the resurrection and life which is in Christ Jesus. In that they live, they live to God and not to themselves, having crucified the old man with his deeds, and have the body of sin destroyed; and henceforth being dead unto sin, they serve it not, but witness the baptism which now saves, making clean the conscience in the sight of God, by the washing of regeneration.
Now all people that desire further to know of this one baptism, which is a dying unto sin, and a cleansing or washing from the filthiness both of flesh and spirit, you must turn your minds to the manifestation of God's spirit within, which is given freely of God for you to profit withal; and with it will you see the spots that remain upon you, notwithstanding your outward traditional baptism, of whatever sort or manner it is. Also it will give you to understand, that the baptism which is the answer of a good conscience, and which is the similitude of Christ's death, which is unto sin, is yet wanting; and so by waiting in what makes manifest those things which you should die unto, then will you feel the name of God revealed in you, which is the strength and power which only is able to kill sin; and trusting and believing in this, the true faith comes first to be witnessed, and then the one baptism which cleanses and purifies, will be witnessed, which brings into the everlasting covenant which God is making with his holy seed, which he is now gathering from under all the shadows, and also from among all the inventions of men, to serve him in meekness and fear in that worship which is inward in the spirit and in the truth.
2. The next thing is your imitable custom of eating and drinking bread and wine, which you call a Sacrament of the Lord's Supper; and in this imitation stands much of your dark fellowship and communion; but no warrant from scripture have you for any such practice; for Christ and his apostles never commanded swearers and liars, and covetous persons, and fighters, and persecutors, that they should observe any such thing at any time, such as you are; for whenever you eat or drink, it is unworthily, as you yourselves sometimes confess, and so your damnation must needs be the greater.
Notwithstanding, Christ the same night he was betrayed, gave his disciples his flesh to eat, and his blood to drink, (figuratively), who afterwards were to partake and enjoy him, in what was signified by the bread and the cup, when he took bread and blessed it, and said, take eat, this is my body, which they took and eat, and discerned his body, of which they were members; and as oft as they did this, they remembered him, who said, I go away, but I come again. So also the cup, he said was the new testament in his blood which they then participating of, and keeping in remembrance him who died, who was to be raised up from the dead through faith and patience, they come to have the new covenant in their hearts, which was the substance of the figure in the blood, they being first therewith sprinkled from an evil conscience, and washed in their bodies with pure water, which is one with the blood. But how far you are from this state, let God witness in your consciences, and your own mouths bear witness. Now notwithstanding Christ did institute such a thing as this among his disciples, who had followed him in the regeneration, and had continued with him in his temptations, this was nothing to them who believed not on him, neither is it anything to you who are cursing those who bear witness to him, that he is come a light into the world, and has enlightened every man that comes into the world, and that witness he is come again the second time without sin unto salvation, according to his promise; these you curse and persecute. So your cup is not the cup of blessing which the apostle speaks of, 1 Cor 10:16, which is the communion of the blood of Christ, which cleanses from all sin; neither is that bread which they break, the communion of the body of Christ; for Paul says, they themselves were the bread and the body, which is but one. This he said speaking to wise men, and if any have an ear, let them hear; but as for your part, you are so foolish and unwise, that the bread you break, is material bread, which feeds nothing but the carnal body, which is no part of Christ's body, that is hidden from your carnal eyes, and sealed from your carnal imaginations; and if his second coming, which is without sin you cannot truly believe, his first coming only will not save you, and your bread and wine will never bring any of you truly to know nor remember his death, nor to show it forth; for in that he died, he died unto sin. Neither will his coming be unto salvation, when he appears again unto you, but unto damnation, who discern not his body, but curse and persecute his members. But all that desire to know the supper of the Lord in sincerity, they must come to the Light in the heart, which comes from Christ, and that will show them what has crucified Christ, and slain the Lamb, and oppressed the just in their own particulars; and then the fear of God being placed in the heart, and the lack of Christ being felt, who by sin and through transgression is crucified afresh, then shall you secretly come to feel a hope of his resurrection; and so then as often as you eat and drink, it will be in the fear of God, and in remembrance of your own unworthiness; and also in remembrance of him who is come to sanctify the creatures; which as he comes to be raised to life, which has been slain in you, this appearance is the second appearance which is without sin unto salvation; and till you witness this, as often as you eat and drink, do it in the fear of God, and in remembrance of Christ, so showing forth his death till he comes, who when he comes, will show forth his own life, who is God over all, blessed forever, amen.
These two you call sacraments, which term you have as little ground for out of the scriptures, as you have to practice them; but are delighting yourselves in the works of your own hands, and giving names to what you idolize, like the heathens and idolaters before you. But if you say they are obliging mysteries. I answer, how came it to pass, that you who have been so long exercised therein, are no nearer obliged to God, but remain in the alienation of your minds, such strangers to him, that one of your own priests said to a company of you in my hearing, that the lowing of oxen, and the bleating of sheep, would give as good an account of what God and Christ was, as your answers would do, if you were asked. But your idols shall be broken, and their names shall you be ashamed of, as they were ashamed of the groves and the green trees, under which they had worshipped their idols, whom God confounded before you. Then your water and wine, and cakes, and such like things which you call sacraments, and your mass-houses, which you call churches, signed with the pope's cross, your predecessors, these things will but all add to your shame and sorrow. Therefore while you have time, lay aside these carnal and foolish traditions, and come to the Light which lets people see over them all, to the one baptism itself, and to the supper, and table of the Lord, itself, and to the church itself, which is in God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, as you may read, 1 Thes 1:3.
Lastly, the discipline of your church, does appear contrary to the discipline of the true church; and in this particular you have so far proceeded already, within these few years, that you have thereby much manifested yourselves even to many, who did not before see you; for this many have looked upon, as a tail of a scorpion with which you have sought to vent that sting and venom which lodged in your hearts, against the true church, which you could not vent with your tongue nor hands; but this also will the Lord cut off, that the scorpions shall hurt no more. Your sting begins to decay, and your force to fail you, and people begin to walk safely in the path of peace, and in the way of righteousness, notwithstanding your tail or your tongue, to the grief of your hearts, which is filled with mischief against the righteous in the land; but the Lord is their deliverer, and according to the evil of your desires against the innocent, even so shall your reward be.
Now the true church, they did observe, that if any that was called a brother, should be a fornicator, a railer, an extortioner, a covetous person, an idolater, or a drunkard, with such a one not to eat. Now if you would observe this in your brotherhood, you would quickly be scattered one from another; your priests suspended for their covetousness, and drunkenness, and railing; the people suspended for their fornication, and idolatry, and extortion, and railing, and fighting, and many other misdemeanors, your communion would soon fall. But you who are a body or church so called, made up of such as these, you take another course to uphold your fellowship; for if any who have been one with you in these things before mentioned, does come to see with the light wherewith Christ has lighted them, that these things are displeasing to God, and so dares not go on with you any longer in them, but declares against your idolatry, your covetousness, your railing, it is with such a one that you will not eat nor drink, nor buy nor sell. Oh! Abominable depth of Satan! This is the way you have found out to keep people from believing in the Truth, and from departing from your corrupt and cursed practices. In short, this is as your fathers the Jews did, who were the crucifiers of the Lord of Life; if any then did confess him to be the Christ, that said, I am the light of the world, who lights every man that comes into the world, they must be cast out of their synagogue; [mark] out of the synagogues of the unbelievers and crucifiers. Such as you, who cannot, and will not have any fellowship with those who believe in the light, that they may be made children of light, your latter end shall not be like unto theirs, except you repent.
Furthermore, the apostle exhorts the Corinthians, to deliver the incestuous person to Satan, for the destruction of the flesh, that his soul might be saved in the day of the Lord; but he did not intend the destruction of his body, as you wickedly do, who thirst after blood, to assuage the flame of your envy. The Lord will quench that flame, and you who desire blood, shall have blood to drink. The apostle fought not with flesh and blood, but against spiritual wickedness, and against incest, and fornication, and idolatry; but you make war against the flesh and blood, and seek the destruction of the outward bodies as much as you are capable; but those who believe in the Light, and trust in the Lord, the God of our salvation, the power that saves out of sin and unrighteousness, he will deliver them out of your bloody hands, and from your cruel teeth, and from the reach and venom of your hurtful tail. But it may be you will say, although we have no criminal fact to lay to their charge, whom we have cast out of our church, of whom you speak, yet they are heretics, and it was Paul's counsel, that one that is an heretic after the first and second admonition, reject. I answer, if this were observed among you, there would be none found to reject; for all would be found to be rejected; and this is the reason, that whoever comes to be members of the true church, does reject you, because of your heresy in doctrine, and corruption in conduct. But after that way which you call heresy, worship we the God of our fathers, who wrote the holy scriptures by inspiration of the Holy Spirit; and according thereunto, we believe in the true light that lights every man that comes into the world; which, our belief, you call heresy; and we believe that this light wherewith every man is enlightened, is a sufficient light to lead all that follow and obey it, to eternal life, and this you call heresy. This light is the perfect and heavenly gift of God, and whoever yields himself into the obedience of it, shall thereby be translated from darkness and the works thereof which is sin, and be brought to live righteously and holy in this life; and this also you call heresy. Many more things, which in the scriptures are declared, and by us believed and witnessed, do you call heresy; as may appear in a book lately published by the presbytery at Edinburgh, to their shame, called a Testimony against the Petition for Toleration; wherein your envious and bloody spirit is sufficiently set forth to every judicious reader, against the life of the scriptures, and to whomsoever is come into it; but your Cain-like spirit is seen, and your end is at hand, and your reward shall be according to your works.
Now all you people of Scotland, in whom is sincerity and simplicity, unto whom this shall come, consider in the fear of the Lord, where you are, and whom you are joined with, and against whom you take part, while you abide in this church; and search the scriptures yourselves, and see whether these things be so or not, and come out from among them, and partake no longer of their sins, lest you partake also of their plagues, which are near coming upon them; and praise the Lord who has spared you until now, and caused his light to break forth to discover their ways and works of darkness, before you are overwhelmed by his judgments. And as in sincerity you come to try these things with the light, in it you will see more light, and by it an understanding will be opened in you, to see into their abominations and deceits, beyond what is here declared. But if you reject this the day of your visitation, then shall you be shut up in darkness, and your ignorance shall increase; and your hearts shall be hardened, and you made fit for the indignation and wrath of God, to be poured forth upon you, when the measure of your iniquities shall be filled up.
While you have time, prize it, and while you have light, love it, and believe in it, that you may be made children of it.
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